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Nothing left to do but to keep moving forward. The less time I spend trapped in a dark room, the better.

I take Tenshi by the hand, and coax her onward. She seems reluctant to step away from the door, but does so willingly.

"Don't touch me!" She complains, her voice becoming frantic as she pulls away.

"Fine, fine." I let go. "But you can't see, right?"

"I'll manage. I don't need some filthy disgusting lowlife like you putting your grubby hands all over me!"

I still can't bring myself to get angry with her--especially not at a time like this.

"I washed 'em this morning, if it makes any difference."

"It doesn't."

"Okay." Yeah, sure. Go ahead, be that way. I was only trying to help. "Don't fall behind, then. I don't want my only source of light getting eaten by some monster."

She yelps, then falls completely silent as she shuffles along behind me.

I come to yet another corner in the hall. There's an open room to the left, where the hall veers off in the opposite direction. I take a bit of time to search the room.

I nearly walk into some sort of terminal jutting out from the floor. It's covered in all sorts of buttons and switches, but none of them seem to be working. There's a load of other terminals just like it, all placed in a series of rows facing towards the far end of the room.

I weave between them, keeping Tenshi close at my side, as I move towards the other end.

Some kind of glass wall blocks my path. It's incredibly solid--likely several inches thick--and spans from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. I can't see what lies beyond it, but whatever it is, I'm sure that--judging by the sheer number of consoles in the room--it's incredibly important. Or was. This place is clearly abandoned.

"What is this?" Tenshi exclaims, hitting the glass with the hilt of her sword. "Some kind of barrier?"

"Looks like it." I can't say I know what sort of purpose it serves. Does it keep something in? Or maybe, does it keep everyone else out? There seems to be no other way inside.

"Maybe one of these buttons turns on the lights?" Tensh backtracks a bit, now standing behind one of the consoles.

"I wouldn't touch that.." I'm sure it'll only cause us more headaches.

"Why not?"

"One of those might open up that glass wall." I say calmly, trying to keep myself thinking logically. "I'm not sure I want to know if there's something on the other side."

"Eeep." She jumps back, retracting the hand she was about to use to press one of the buttons. "Y-You make a good point." I might've scared her a bit, too.

"So do you." I get to thinking.. "Maybe there's a utility closet somewhere around here. If we can get the lights on.."

"Yes, yes. We should do that first." Talking to her seems to be working well at keeping her calm. At least, she hasn't broken down into crying, yet. What little conversation she has to offer helps to take my mind off of things, too.

"But still.." Something about this place is giving me a seriously bad feeling. My hair has been standing on end since I got here, and I know it's not just the darkness. I tighten my grip on the rifle in my hands, and move onwards.

I follow the hallway a little further down, stumbling onto room after unlocked room. All of them are full of those strange terminals which seem to serve no purpose. The only feature that shows to me that humans were actually once here are a pair of nearly identical rooms--the men's and women's bathrooms.

I finally find what I think I'm looking for--a room full of breakers and wires. Rack upon rack of plastic boxes line the walls, all connected together neatly by the same kind of green wire. As with everything else, their purpose eludes me.

But the panels of heavy-duty electrical switches tucked in the corner prove to be a little more familiar. Electrical circuit breakers. I count three total. I'm hoping that one of them may turn the power back on. Sadly, none of them are labeled. I'll have to guess as to which one--or which combination--may hold the key for a.. brighter future.

"What's so funny?" Tenshi asks, glaring at me.

[ ] Flip the first one.
[ ] Flip the second one.
[ ] Flip the third one.
[ ] Ignore them.
[ ] Flip the third one.
[X] Flip the third one.
[X] Flip the third one.
[X] Flip the third one.
[X] Flip the third one.
>I'll have to guess as to which one--or which combination--may hold the key for a.. brighter future....underground!

[x] Flip the third one.
[ze] Door number 3, please.

What? No. I was saying in >>86286 that the description of the room sounded a lot like the Dwemer halls in Morrowind.
That's why I used that picture.
[X] Flip the third one.

As good as any.
it's the Test of Pattern. pain-pain-yay.

[ ] Flip the third one.
Sorry if this is something I'm supposed to know, but why the certainty that it's #3?
There's no reason to be certain that it is #3. But flipping them all at once is stupid.
So why aren't we doing it?
With nothing but my own luck to go on, I choose the third one. It's closer--'on a whim' would describe this sort of snap decision perfectly. I flip it.

Something deep within the facility hums to life.

The lights are still off.

Well, onto the next one.


They won't budge! I'll try putting a little more power into it..


The switch snaps off. The second one--the one I was pushing on--is instantly rendered useless.

"Shit!" I curse under my breath, tossing the broken handle to the floor when I realize it won't go back on. It clatters loudly against the cold hard floor--which I'm now certain is made of metal, thanks to the sound it makes.

"What's wrong?" Tenshi huddles up behind me, blind as a bat but still looking on as if she might see something. "I heard something snap."

"The switch is busted." Maybe it's rusted. It's probably useless to try anything further than this. The last one seems to be stuck in place, too, and I'd rather not break a second one..

Well, maybe it isn't useless. I'm no electrician, so 'dangerous' might be a better choice in words. I'm not about to try opening one up and risk getting electrocuted.

So, it's back into the darkness. That eerie, eerie darkness, seeming to consume the entire building. I feel that if I stay around making all this racket, it might consume me as well.

Huh, that's strange.

All of these plastic boxes--the ones along the walls--have all lit up. All sorts of indicators blink on and off, and I can hear something coming from behind that sounds vaguely like a sort of fan. This proves that my flipping the switch has at least done something useful.

"I wonder what these are for..?" Tenshi draws close to one of them, tapping the dark-colored plastic with a fingernail. It sounds hollow, like there's nothing inside.

"I'd leave those be, just to be safe." Who knows what they're for. It could be dangerous--with that many exposed wires.

I slowly begin to coax Tenshi out of the room, away from those racks of boxes. She seems to afraid to resist, and stays right on my tail.

I step out into the hallway. Strangely enough, I can see a little better. There's a couple of reddish-colored lights glowing on the ceiling, making everything else in the room appear to be the same color.

It looks almost like the color of blood--like the walls have been bathed in it. I'd preferred it when it was black as the night..

"Wooow~" Tenshi steps out of the closet, eyes filled with amazement. "This place is huuge~!"

"You're tellin' me.." I can't see the other end of the hallway. Despite this new bloody-hued light, the halls seem to extend forever into a different sort of blackness. "Scares the living shit outta me.."

"What was that?"

"Nothing.. Just talking to myself." She'd be worse for wear if I let her see even an ounce of weakness in me. If she's gonna keep it together, I'll need to keep it together first. "We should probably--"

[ ] Head back.
[ ] Keep going.
[ ] Keep going.
[X] Keep going.

Did we start up the backup power or something?
[X] Keep going.
[x] Keep going.

Let's go go goooo!
[X] Keep going.
[x] Keep going.
[~] Keep going.
[z] "So... Do you feel like telling me what you tried doing to me -- or whatever you were doing -- right before we landed in here? Absolutely anything you know could help."
[e] "I'll have time to be mad about it once we're out of here, but right now I need to know what you know."
[x] Keep going.
[x] "So... Do you feel like telling me what you tried doing to me—or whatever you were doing—right before we landed in here? Absolutely anything you know could help."
[x] "I'll have time to be mad about it once we're out of here, but right now I need to know what you know."
[B] Keep going.
[B] "So... Do you feel like telling me what you tried doing to me—or whatever you were doing—right before we landed in here? Absolutely anything you know could help."
[B] "I'll have time to be mad about it once we're out of here, but right now I need to know what you know."
"...We should probably get going." Nothing to do but keep moving. I don't want to waste any time fooling around, especially not with the shivers running down my spine. I have a hunch that there's something terrible hidden in this place. Sadly, my hunches usually turn out to be spot-on.

I follow the hallway down, keeping Tenshi well within my sight. She seems afraid to lag behind even the slightest bit, and keeps running into me every time I stop to investigate something. A crack in the wall here and there, and locked door after locked door.

And where the hell do all these pipes running in and out of the walls lead? They don't seem to serve a purpose other than to make the place look industrial and/or downright creepy.

As I walk along, I begin to notice spots of rust on the walls--on the pipes, on the floor, on the ceiling--just about everywhere there's little bits of rust. And all of it easily visible to the naked eye, even in this sort of unforgiving darkness.

Finally, I come across a set of double doors that isn't locked. The doors--and the room behind them--are both entirely unassuming. There's nothing out of the ordinary, or for that matter, nothing at all. The room is completely barren, save for one of those ubiquitous consoles tucked in the very back of the room.

Funny. It seems to be operational. It makes me wonder if the ones in the last room are on as well, or if this one is special in some way..

"I don't like this place.." Tenshi mutters, voice quivering with fear. She grasps me by the arm, and simply refuses to let go.

I let her hang on, but my curiosity pushes me ever closer to the set of flashing lights deeper inside the room. The red, what appears to be emergency lighting out in the halls doesn't light the room this deeply, though the doors are swung wide open.

It's dark. Too dark. I can't see a damn thing, save the small flickering lights of the console ahead. Is it just me...

Or has it gotten darker? I can't even see the space in front of my nose anymore, let alone the shape of the console itself..

"One of these buttons has to turn on the lights!" Tenshi cries, pulling me closer to the only light source ahead.

"I wouldn't touch that if I were--" Too late.

Something hums in the background. It isn't the lights. The lights stay off, and something tells me to--

[ ] Get the hell out.
[ ] See what happens.


Half drunk, please pardon any mistakes made.
[X] See what happens.

I'm sure it's completely safe.
[X] See what happens.
[X] See what happens.

Another update tonight please, drunk Snake~
[X] Get the hell out.

If something bad is about to happen, better to be somewhere you can at least see it happening.


... I just can't seem to turn away. Despite all my senses warning me of the inherent danger this noise presents, I can't bring myself to run away.

Tenshi throws her arms around me in fear, squeezing hard enough to force the breath out of me. I'm far too concerned with the noises in the dark to stop her.

I hear a faint hissing up ahead, a sound like the air brakes in a large truck. It's followed by an equally faint whining--the grinding of metal on metal, or the twisting and bending of steel.

Something pops, waves of pressure throwing me back. I struggle to keep my balance with Tenshi still clutching at my arm and waist. She's far too frightened to speak--only emitting a small whine when I put a hand down to calm her.

The lights on the console hold steady as another series of metallic groans are emitted by something hidden within the room. The floor seems to vibrate under my feet, creating a shaking in the pit of my stomach.

I know I should run. Every inch of me demands that I run.

I think I'm too scared to move--it feels like I'm numb to everything but the sounds around me.

The lights on the console flicker and go out. The room is enveloped in total darkness.

Something moves in the background. I ready my weapon.

There's a series of intermittent clangs deep inside the room. Like somebody banging on a stove with a metal pipe..

Or footsteps of something really, really heavy.

I still don't move. Not an inch.

I begin to notice a noise coming from behind. Something shrill, piercing. It's Tenshi.

She's screaming.

Telling me to run.

I can't move my feet. What is this? Why can't I move? My curiosity seems to have trumped my fear, and I stand staring silently into the darkness.

Something moves in the darkness. Coming closer. The heavy clanging growing louder.

I can see something ahead. Faintly.

The object moves. I see--


Something grabs my neck--it isn't Tenshi. She doesn't have a grip this strong, nor do her hands feel so cold.

It lifts me from the ground with a scaly hand. I can feel it staring at me, seeing through to me in this complete darkness. The eyes seem to pierce right through the dark.

I can see it. Clearly now.

It's vaguely reptilian, though otherwise humanoid by design. Covered in scales from head to toe--polished, metallic, reflecting the blackness it hides behind.

I grasp for the hand around my neck, trying desperately to claw my way free of it before I fall unconscious.

No avail. It's far stronger than I could ever hope to be.

It turns it's wrist--trying to get a better look at me or break my neck, I don't know. My feet touch the ground, and it releases me.

I stagger backwards, gasping for breath. The room is cold, but I find myself sweating regardless. I look back to see it standing over me. Looming, terrifying. It's eyes seem to spark with an orange light.

"I should thank you." A mechanical voice.

A wave of heat blinds me, throws me to the ground. I land hard on my elbow. Something falls on my on my head. The floor seems to quake beneath me, and I'm suddenly showered with dust and debris. I somehow manage to stay conscious throughout the ordeal.

I open my eyes, looking ahead blankly as I try to rework in my mind the events that just transpired.

I notice the room has suddenly become lit... Thanks to a fresh new hole in the ceiling.

I can see sky. Clear, blue sky--not a cloud to be seen above.

"Hey, hey!" Tenshi, forgetting her fear, rushes to my side. "Get up!"

"Agh!" I hold my bruised elbow to inspect the damage. It's not broken.

"Aren't you at least going to ask if I'm okay?"

"I don't have time for that! We need to get out of here, now!"


She seems to have completely reverted back to her old self. I suppose it's thanks to this hole in the roof shining light down upon us that she suddenly has the courage to talk back to me.

I brush the dust, rocks, and metal fragments from my body, and pull myself to my feet.

"Well.." Looks like getting out may not be so difficult, after all. Thankfully, I haven't forgotten how to fly. "Time to go, I guess.."

It almost seems too easy..

But what was that thing? That creature--

Was it living? The voice that spoke to me implied otherwise.

No matter. I just hope I never have to meet it again..

"Wow..!" Tenshi cries out wondrously behind me as I fly up through to the surface. "This place is deep!"

"Huh." I'm a little surprised, myself. There's easily a good ten feet of nothing but solid rock and dirt between the surface and the room below.

And as I climb out, finally setting foot on the welcoming grassy surface, I take note of an entire mountain behind me. It would seem, that whoever built the place had truly intended that it would never be found.

Though, turning around to face forward, I find a familiar yet awfully unwelcoming sight.

"Just my luck.."

I seem to be staring down the barrel of a gun.

And on the other end of it, a gruff-looking sort of fellow who looks like he's got a bone to pick with the world. Or just me, if I want to play it safe.

[ ] Tell him to move his ass.
[ ] Offer to trade your gun for his.
[ ] Beat him with magic.
[ ] Fly back down the hole.
[X] Offer to trade your gun for his.

So I see you have a big gun.
I have a big gun, too.
Maybe we should rub our two big guns together sometime.
Maybe some oil.
Two big guns.
Note that this is just your typical FIGHT, ITEM, MAGIC, RUN menu options. Choose wisely~
[X] Tell him to move his ass.

This option looks bad, therefore it must be good.
[X] Tell him to move his ass.
[X] Tell him to move his ass.

I DO NOT see the logic in voting for this. Therefore it is my first choice.
[X] Tell him to move his ass.
I feel uneasy. Not afraid of being shot, not angry with the man for taking precaution, just.. Uneasy. The man's eyes shows a certain level of unease, as well. I should try talking to him.

"Hey, buddy." I say, keeping my hands visible, though not too far out of reach of my own weapon. "I've had a really bad day, so far. Mind not pointing that thing at me?"

Silence. The man looks at me in utter confusion.

"Can.." I begin to ask, cautiously. "Can you even understand what I'm saying?"

Again, silence.

"Soo.. Now what?" I ask regardless of the man's silence.

"Oh, just shoot him, already!" Tenshi barks an order to me... I think. The man turns his weapon on her as she steps up beside me, but points it back at me before I can get a chance to act.

He seems to know how to handle himself. At least, better than the usual sort of grunt. I should tread lightly, lest I find myself dead with a belly full of steaming hot bullets.

"Okay, okay. Fine, don't shoot him." Tenshi turns to face our still nameless assailant. "And don't you dare point that at me again!"

"Shut up, you're making it worse." I tell her, giving her a slight nudge with my elbow.

"Don't touch me, pig!" She yells, all the while the man with the gun ignoring our little dispute.

He isn't getting drawn in, and he shows next to nothing by way of weaknesses. I'm not going to disarm him forcefully without significant risk.

"Fine, fine." I say, giving up and turning towards the man, still staring patiently ahead at us. "Look, you can shoot her if you really want. It'll spare me the headache later."

"She is not your ally?" He finally asks, speaking with accented English. I think it may be Russian, but I could be wrong.

"Ever been stuck working with someone you hate simply due to an unforeseen series of unfortunate events?" He narrows his eyes as I speak. "Yeah.. It's something like that."

"I'm not sure I understand. You are part of the corporation, are you not?"

"The what?"

"..." Another confused stare from him as I'm met with silence. He simply looks me--and Tenshi--over, judging us either by appearance or demeanor.

"It would seem that you are not." He says, finally lowering his weapon. "I had expected that everybody on Earth knew about their sort."

"Yeah, well." I shrug.

Telling the truth quickly becomes out of the question, all things considered. First, I've yet to meet a man, woman or child in Gensokyo who speaks with a Russian accent. Second, the weapon the man carries is far too precisely built to be handmade by even the finest of craftsmen. And finally, I can't place these surroundings anywhere inside the border. I can only come to one conclusion.

"Where is this, if you don't mind me asking?"

"Earth." He says, turning around to face what looks like a ruined city in the distance. "Or, at least, what we have left of it. How you don't know this, I will not ask. I have a number of other, more important questions to ask you."

"Alright, shoot." I'll tell him what I can, if anything.

"You flew, just now." He turns to face me specifically, a somewhat disbelieving look on his face. "When you came out of that hole in the ground. I saw you. How is that possible?"

[ ] "Magic."
[ ] "Uhh.. Gravity belts?"
[ ] "You must be mistaken."
[X] "Magic."

Time for some WACKY adventures outside the border.
[x] "Magic."
[X] "You must be mistaken."

Clearly what he really saw was nothing more than swamp gas from a weather balloon, trapped in a thermal pocket and reflecting light from Venus.
[X] "Magic."

I'd tell him it was nothing, but he's still holding a gun.
[x] "Magic."
[X] "Magic."
[+] "Magic."
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. If we told him our headband gave us infinite ammunition, then mask danmaku by holding a gun, do you think he'd buy that?
"Uhh.. Magic." I say, circumventing having to explain something even I don't understand to a man who would likely understand even less.

"I... see.." He stands just as disbelieving as he did before. My words easily made no impression on the man, beyond the implied lack of desire to explain myself. "You are not the first person I have seen flying today. They told me the same thing you did just now."

"Really..?" I'm not too surprised, I should say. After Tenshi and myself somehow winding up out here, I was starting to wonder if any of the others came here, as well.

"I'd like to meet them, if you'd be so kind as to show me the way." I try to initiate some form of agreement between the two of us.

"Friend of yours?" He asks, shouldering his weapon.

"Maybe." I shrug.

"So?" Tenshi nudges me with her elbow. Painfully so. "What are we standing around here for, then?"

"Now, now." Kid needs to learn some damn manners, I say. "The men are trying to have a discussion, so why don't you shut the hell up?"

"Ho-" She takes a step back, holding an offended hand to her chest with a bewildered look on her face. "How dare you speak to me like that!"

"Get used to it." I say. We're not exactly in a place where her status as an enlightened being holds any meaning, so she'd best learn to cope with people rather than just talking down to them all the time. I'd rather not see her killed because she pisses off the wrong person.

"See what I have to deal with?" I offer an apologetic nod to the stranger, though he seems entirely too amused to care.

"Is it always like this?" He asks.

"He'd be dead by now if it was, the insolent little--!" Tenshi pushes me aside. I catch my balance quickly, but I can't seem to shake the feeling that her intention was to push me back down that hole in the ground.

"Insolent or not, I don't think you two should waste so much time arguing." The man laughs uneasily, visibly disturbed by something on his mind. "They start the bombing at sundown."

"B-bombing?!" Tenshi steps back, nearly tripping and falling into me. "Nobody said anything about bombing!!"

"Then why the ruined city?" He asks, nodding to the grim spectacle just before the horizon. Bathed in the deep orange glow of a setting sun, it appears to have been set ablaze. "It certainly didn't destroy itself? This should be old news--I take it you're not from around here..?"

"You could say that." Yeah, straight out of the garden of Eden, complete with talking snake-Gods. Who the hell would believe something like that?! "So, about that bombing..?"

"Yes, that." He doesn't seem quite so disturbed, having informed us of the need to hurry. "I'll tell you on the way. Come!" He waves for us to follow.

I stay close behind, of course, though trying to ignore Tenshi's incessant complaining about her aching feet becomes difficult after the first mile or so. The man leads us down a road which leads straight into the city. Funny how there's hardly a tree in sight--and the air is dead quiet. No birds chirping, not even a slight breeze to stir up some commotion. It's eerie..

Tenshi kicks rubble from the cracked asphalt surface at my heels as the man explains.

"I'll make it simple," He says, walking along as if the scenery were merely routine, "There's bombing every night--roughly an hour long, tops. I am told it started a year ago, but the damage to the city suggests much, much more."

"Who's doing the bombing?"

"The corporation, most likely. They own everything--military, government.. There is little they can't do with absolute power and a bottomless budget." Now starting inside the city, he begins to grow noticeably more hurried in his pace. I have no idea where he's headed, but it seems unwise to walk right into the middle of a bombed-out city..

One that, as would seem most likely, is going to be bombed tonight as well..

"Would you mind telling me why we're walking straight into a bombing field?" I ask without hesitation.

"There's a bomb shelter not far from here." He says, turning down an alley--or what used to be one until the masses of broken concrete and steel supports caved in on it. "Though I must say, you have certainly found us a better one!" He says with a laugh, "My comrades will be most grateful for your discovery."

"Err, thanks. I think.." I didn't exactly find it on purpose.. I wonder if I should accept his gratitude so readily. "Where exactly is this bomb shelter, now?"

"Standing on it." He stomps his foot, kicking up a small cloud of concrete dust before pressing onward again. "The entrance is not far from here. We should--"

He stops dead in his tracks. The weapon disappears from his back--in his arms almost faster than my eyes could follow.

[ ] ?

[x] Whisper to the man. "You see something?"
[X] Draw your weapon

Snake's a cowboy
[X] Motion to Tenshi to keep quiet, ready your weapon, scan your surroundings, follow your new friend's lead, and move only when he does.
[X] Motion to Tenshi to keep quiet, ready your weapon, scan your surroundings, follow your new friend's lead, and move only when he does.
[X] Motion to Tenshi to keep quiet, ready your weapon, scan your surroundings, follow your new friend's lead, and move only when he does.
>"Now, now." Kid needs to learn some damn manners, I say. "The men are trying to have a discussion, so why don't you shut the hell up?"
Snake, I fucking love you.
[B] Motion to Tenshi to keep quiet, ready your weapon, scan your surroundings, follow your new friend's lead, and move only when he does.
[ze] Motion to Tenshi to keep quiet, ready your weapon, scan your surroundings, follow your new friend's lead, and move only when he does.
I don't like this. This quiet. I had listened to the echoes of my own footsteps to quell my unease, but now, even that is gone. A sinking sort of feeling rises from the pit of my gut as I begin to sense the danger myself.

I motion to Tenshi to keep her head low, and I draw my own weapon. Slowly, quietly. As I only have one shot. One shot--

But that's only physical shots. I have plenty more, thanks to a bit of dedicated training in using my mind. I can give shape to bullets that don't exist. the type, the caliber--none of it matters, so long as I can envision it with my mind's eye.

It may prove to be useful, though I'll need to exercise extreme caution to keep from alerting the inhabitants of this world to my.. Ununual ability.

"Keep quiet." I whisper to Tenshi, holding her head close. She senses it too. I'm sure of it, if only because she didn't try to jerk herself out of my grip.

"In the buildings ahead." The man whispers, hiding himself behind an overturned dumpster in the alley. He nods to a small apartment complex ahead--insides completely visible due to the wall facing us having collapsed. I see something moving on the second floor.


Human. Or human-shaped. It's too far to tell.

Damn, I wish Aya were here! She'd know--as if she were standing inches away from them. I miss her already..

"Shit, I think it saw us!" He ducks down, pressing himself to the ground.

I follow suit, and I pull Tenshi down with me.


She's shivering.

Not because of the weather--she's simply afraid. Too scared to talk, to argue, or even to fight against me.

She's a liability. I hate to say it, but she just isn't used to this sort of imminent danger. And to protect her might mean that I may end up making a stupid mistake. I--

[ ] Can't keep protecting her.
[ ] Can't leave her alone.
[X] Can't leave her alone.

Useless girl.
[x] Can't leave her alone.

Snake is a good person, if gruff.
[X] Can't leave her alone.

No one gets left behind.
[x] Can't leave her alone.
[x] Can't leave her alone.

Human shields can be useful at times.
[ ] Can't leave her alone.
[X] Can't leave her alone.
[x] Can't leave her alone.

She's just a kid.
[x] Can't leave her alone.
I shouldn't think like that. I can't let her get hurt. Somehow, it feels like it wouldn't be right. Maybe I'm being influenced by feeling her shivering under me--shaking, like a lost and frightened child. It's only because of my experiences that I'm not in her position as well.

"Stay put." I whisper to her, feeling her jump slightly under me. "Don't get up until I get back."

I know I'm going to regret this, but it has to be done. I'm already used to playing the hero.

I throw the flattened remains of a cardboard box over her body, hiding her just in case there's more than just the one ahead.

A gust of wind nearly blows it off, and I'm forced to waste valuable seconds just to keep her covered. The breeze is deafening over the pervading silence in the background.


"Don't move." Something hard presses against the back of my head. Something metal. Like the barrel of a gun.

"Surprise, surprise." So they got the drop on us. Figures. I drop my weapon.

Had they planned to kill me, they'd have done so already. Either they're not my enemies, or they wants something from me. Too bad I've nothing of value to give them.

"Don't move. Keep your hands up." The voice behind me--belonging to a woman--speaks commandingly, leaving me little doubt that she has the wherewithal to actually shoot somebody.

"Turn around." She says, removing the weapon from my skull.

I turn as ordered. She stands above me, feet planted firmly on a steel I-beam that straddles across the two buildings flanking either side of the alleyway. The woman wears grey camouflage pants, and a strange-looking black flak jacket.

Personal body armor? Nearly unheard of, where I come from. The weapon in her hands is holstered at her hips, and I try to look her in the eye.

Some kind of mask prevents me from doing so. She wears a helmet--appearing little different than standard military issue, but instead of opening up at the forehead it slopes down, covering her entire face with a mask that only vaguely resembles a cross between a gas mask and an insect's mouth. She almost looks.. Inhuman.

"So you're not gonna shoot me." I say, looking into the reddish-black lenses that should cover her eyes. "What exactly do you want, then?"

"We'll find out soon enough." She replies, dismissively, looking off to the side. "Where the hell is she?!"

"Who?" Tenshi asks, standing up beside me, brushing the dust off her dress before clinging to my arm from behind.

"Ah, here comes the Captain now." The woman jumps down from her perch on the fallen steel structure as I notice three more same-dressed women approaching from behind.

"What is this?!" The man, held against the alley wall by a fifth, cries out. "Who the hell are you people?!"

My eyes hold firm on the middle of the three soldiers approaching from the rear. She walks... Differently than the others. It almost reminds me of--

She suddenly breaks out into a full sprint, headed straight for us. For me. She's far too fast, I don't have time to react.

I'm pushed backwards. It's inhuman, how powerful she is! I have my back to the ground even before I can feel the pain of having been pushed through the steel girder behind me.

"I knew it was you!" She cries out joyously, holding me down. Giving me no pause to catch the breath that had been knocked out of me. "I knew it!! I finally found you!"

Somehow.. This all seems..

"What the hell took you so long!?" She suddenly seems angry. Hard to tell with her voice half-muffled by that mask. "It's been weeks!"


"Yes, weeks!" Now, I'm sure she's angry. "Has your mind rotted or something?!"

"It might help if I knew who I was talking to." I can't seem to grasp the flow of this conversation. Was she supposed to be their leader, or something?

"Wha--?" She pauses, leans back. Reaches for her face. "Oh, right."

The mask comes off, helmet falling to the ground with it. Long black hair steeped in sweat falls down over her face.

"Better?" She asks, staring down at me with cool red eyes.

"Try not to kill me next time, Aya." I say, recognizing her immediately.

"You deserved it, for keeping me waiting."

She leans back down, kisses me.

"Now get your ass up." She pulls me to my feet, picking that helmet up once I've regained my balance.

My legs feel a little weak after being tackled so violently..

[ ] ?
>Either they're not my enemies, or they wants something from me.


God, me and my silly typos.
[ze] "What the hell are you talking about Aya? Where the hell am I anyway? The last thing I can remember is standing next to that dead guy's corpse and then a sense of "falling" happened and I ended up in some dark place with the celestial."
[X] Ask what the hell happened. One minute you're in front of the shrine, feeling like you got pushed by someone and about to get a face-full of dead guy, the next you're in some abandoned underground installation with the brat where you accidentally woke up or activated some sort of nightmarish lizard-man-robot-thing that blew a hole through several feet of solid rock, getting guns pointed at you by everyone you've met since then, and now finding out you have apparently jumped weeks into the future. What. The. Hell.
[X] Ask what the hell happened. One minute you're in front of the shrine, feeling like you got pushed by someone and about to get a face-full of dead guy, the next you're in some abandoned underground installation with the brat where you accidentally woke up or activated some sort of nightmarish lizard-man-robot-thing that blew a hole through several feet of solid rock, getting guns pointed at you by everyone you've met since then, and now finding out you have apparently jumped weeks into the future. What. The. Hell.
So much homage in this one. I see everything you did there.

[x] Ask what the hell happened. One minute you're in front of the shrine, feeling like you got pushed by someone and about to get a face-full of dead guy, the next you're in some abandoned underground installation with the brat where you accidentally woke up or activated some sort of nightmarish lizard-man-robot-thing that blew a hole through several feet of solid rock, getting guns pointed at you by everyone you've met since then, and now finding out you have apparently jumped weeks into the future. What. The. Hell.
[X] Ask what the hell happened. One minute you're in front of the shrine, feeling like you got pushed by someone and about to get a face-full of dead guy, the next you're in some abandoned underground installation with the brat where you accidentally woke up or activated some sort of nightmarish lizard-man-robot-thing that blew a hole through several feet of solid rock, getting guns pointed at you by everyone you've met since then, and now finding out you have apparently jumped weeks into the future. What. The. Hell.
>>So much homage in this one. I see everything you did there.


Play MGS4

Funny how I've never actually played it. Well, not yet. Too broke for a PS3, but I've at least read up on it a bit.

...I am sad. Oh, and updates after beer.

Well, your Aya & Snake reunion was the Meryl & Snake reunion to a 't'.
I dust myself off.

"So what the hell is going on? Where are we?"

"Dunno." Aya shrugs, fumbling with the strange mask in her hands. "I'm told it's the outside world, but.."

"But, what?" I ask. She seems confused.

"We'll talk about it later." She fits the helmet back over her head as the two soldiers formerly at her flanks run up from behind. "It gets pretty nasty out when the sun goes down.."

"Yeah, I've heard." I haven't forgotten, either. Doesn't look like there's too much time left--the sun's barely visibly behind the fallen city's remains, but this eerie orange glow tells me that it's just over the horizon. The sky has turned a faint purple with it's setting.

"We should probably hurry." I say, "Let the man go. He'll show us to a nearby shelter."

She nods behind the mask, and gives a quick hand signal. The man drops to the ground after they release him, but wastes no time in rushing over to me.

"We've wasted too much time here." He tells me with urgency. "The bombing will start at any minute!"

"Then we should hurry." I keep my calm, following him as he pushes forward into the next alley.

"No need. We're here." He smiles, rummaging through a pile of fallen brick.

"Where's 'here'?" Aya asks, growing impatient as she stands behind me. I turn around to see Tenshi running up with the rest of Aya's crew, and the man lets out a loud laugh.

"Ha! Found it!" He pulls the cover off of a sewer access. "Down here!"

"Down there?!" Tenshi seems repulsed, like she actually knows what one of those heavy cast iron lids represent. "No way. I'm not going!"

"So you'd rather take your chances with the bombs." Aya doesn't so much as ask as she does state this observation.

"Eep." Tenshi falls silent immediately, quickly pushing the two of us aside to be the first one into the hole after our friendly Russian-accented guide.

"Takes care of that." I go down next, followed by one of Aya's crewmates. Another female, but not quite so shapely. Maybe a little on the short side, if I'd dare mention.

There doesn't seem to be an end to this ladder, though. I'd expected maybe a number of feet, but it seems like I've been climbing for nearly a mile. If there was a sewer at the bottom, it'd be way the hell above us at this point.

My feet finally touch solid ground. Good thing, considering my arms started to give out on me. I really don't want to have to do that again, but I'm faced with the sad, harsh reality that I'll just have to climb back up sooner or later.

The room at the bottom is small, made of concrete, but strangely well-lit. A pair of fluorescent lights overhead keep the room bright--almost clean-looking, to an extent. A heavy set of blast doors stand ajar at my back, and everyone else has already started to pile inside.

Only once we're all inside do the doors slam shut. Tenshi immediately rushes off into the compound--which looks like an ordinary reinforced concrete bunker. Not that bunkers are ordinary or anything. Our guide takes a seat on a wooden crate in the corner of the room, and Aya seems eager to follow me anywhere.

[ ] Ask Aya to introduce her crew.
[ ] Ask the man for his name.
[ ] Follow Tenshi.
[ ] Ask Aya to introduce her crew.
[ ] Ask the man for his name.
[X] Ask Aya to introduce her crew.
[X] Ask Aya where Youmu and the others are.
[X] Ask the man for his name.
[X] Ask Aya to introduce her crew.
[X] Ask the man for his name.
[X] Follow Tenshi.
[x] Ask Aya to introduce her crew.
[x] Ask the man for his name.

Best to get introductions out of the way for everyone, I think.
[~] Ask Aya to introduce her crew.
[z] Ask Aya where Youmu and the others are.
[e] Ask the man for his name.

Celestial-get GET
So, now for an intelligence-gathering extravaganza! I'll start with the one closest to me.

"So Aya." I say. Catching her attention proves to be an exercise in futility, as her eyes are already pasted on my person. The people that came in with her spread out, take various corners of the room to either sit down or stand guard. Overall, they seem a well-disciplined bunch. But, thinking about them leads to a number of questions in my mind..

"Friends of yours?" I ask, nodding to the closest--and easily the shortest of the group.

"I guess." Aya shrugs, peeling the mask away from her face for a second time. "Friends of Kanako's, more like."

"Kanako?" What's that egotistical goddess have to do with a bunch of armed thugs?

"Yep." Aya offers me no insight. The half-pint beside me eyeballs me curiously. "Turns out she's fallen into this world as well. Along with Sanae, Yuugi, err... Who else?" She turns her thoughts inwardly.

"You've got a lot 'a nerve, forgetting the people standing right beside you." So says the runt, in a voice I feel like I should recognize.

"Oh, right." Aya smacks her forehead, giggling to herself. "Suwako's here, too."

"Have I already been pushed off the stage as a side character, then?" Says the annoyed Suwako, now without a mask. She smiles, albeit with a hint of frustration noticeable in her eyes.

"As usual." The look on Suwako's face only makes Aya's laughter grow louder--

But as the ground begins to shake, everybody falls deathly silent. Even with the heavy blast doors shut, everybody seems to notice.

The first bombs have fallen.

But for the most part, save for a few unnerved shifting eyes, the mood returns to normal. Aya laughs it up at Suwako's expense, and everybody starts to go about their business preparing for one hell of a long night that's sure to follow.

"So Aya," I continue with my original set of questions, interrupting the pair of bickering girls after things start to turn sour. "You never told me Kanako had her own personal army."

"Army?" She squints, turning every ounce of her attention towards me in the space of less than a second after I'd even spoken. "No, no. There's no army. We're all there is."

"All there is of what, is what I'm trying to find out."

"I guess you could say this group is kinda like a bunch of crusaders, here to end the war in the name of God and all that."

"Crusaders.." I look them over yet again. "With assault rifles and gas masks."

"Yes-in-deedy!" Aya seems so sure of herself. I feel like arguing any point to the contrary would be some sort of blasphemy on my part.

"And their one true God is Kanako.."


I sigh. I wonder if they're gullible or something. Whatever Kanako did sure seems to have worked. They're all well-trained from what I can see, and they have the ability to work seamlessly and coherently as a group. One hell of a force to be reckoned with, all things considered. But there's still far too many holes in Aya's explanation for it to work.

"Might I ask where she got the guns? Err, and the matching suits?" I ask a little unsteadily.

"Would you believe it if I said that all five of us fell into some sort of armory?" Suwako adds in, trying to alleviate my confusion, and maybe clarify Aya's half-assed story so that I may put my mind at easy.

"I'd probably believe anything, considering what's happened in the last few hours." I remember that strange mechanical monster. Milky white scales covering it's body almost from head to toe, that unsettlingly sinister voice.. I shake the thought from my head. "Then where'd all these people come from?"

"Kanako's 'build-it-and-they-shall-come' school of thought works rather well in a nigh-apocalyptic world with no hope or nothing to have faith in." Suwako says, bluntly.

"I... see..."

"So any more questions, wise guy?" Aya asks, now clearly trying to get under my skin. As if she hadn't been doing a bang-up job at that before she actually started trying..

[ ] ?
[+] "Yes. Who's bombing us?"
[X] "Yes. Who's bombing us?"
[z] "Yes. Who's bombing us?"
[e] "And why?"
[X] "Yes. Who's bombing us?"
"Yeah," I let her get to me. Better to get a little angry now than a lot angry later.. The fact that she's even here for me to be angry at in the first place is a fact worth rejoicing. "Who the hell is dropping the bombs?"

"Hell if I know." Aya shrugs, feigning ignorance to my quickly souring mood. "But there's bombs, and they're droppin' em."

"I know that." I grit my teeth.

"Then we're in the same boat, I guess." She walks past me, pacing aimlessly around the room--clearly nervous. The way I figure it, my frustration with her has beaten back my unease to the point where it's hardly noticeable. Bombs are dropping overhead and all I want is a straight fucking answer.

"Then in the meantime.." 'Meantime', of course, being the time we're stuck in this hole in the ground. "Why not introduce me to the rest of the crew?"

"Whatever floats your boat."

Is it just me, I wonder, or has she developed one hell of an attitude problem in the apparent weeks she's been away from me.."

Aya goes around the room, pointing at each one of the five same-dressed disciples of the Church of Kanako--or whatever the hell that goddess woman'll want to call it--and starts calling their names out individually.

"So." Aya starts out poignantly, only to lose steam immediately thereafter. "In the field, everyone goes by the numbers printed on their respective helmets. It's simple, really."

"Simple, sure." Good for concealing their identities but a little impersonal, even by my reckoning. And for God's sake, don't any of them know how to speak?! Soldiers or otherwise, I've never met a bunch more mute than these guys--err, girls.

They all appear to be female. I wonder if there's a specific tactical advantage behind this, or if only the women still believe in God in this world.. I choose not to question it, for safety's sake.

"Captain," The tall one in the back pipes up in a deep, muffled, yet somehow clearly female voice.

"Hmm?" Aya turns her head.

So, Aya's in charge? Not sure I like the idea..

"Oh, right." Aya acts like she'd just remembered something important. "Take seven and eight and scout out the area."

Three of the women start to walk away.

"Oh, and.." Aya continues, and their movement halts in less time than it takes for me to blink. The tall one--the same that had spoken earlier turns around.

"Make sure she doesn't kill anybody."

"..." Okay.. Definitely not liking the sound of that.

"Understood." The woman reacts with military precision, and all three are gone from the room a moment later.

"Soo..." I turn to Aya, wary.

[ ] "Make sure she doesn't kill anybody?"
[ ] "You're in command, I take it?"
[ ] "Are you gonna introduce me to who's left?"
[X] "You're in command, I take it?"
[X] "Make sure she doesn't kill anybody?"
[ze] "You're in command, I take it?"

Hmm. I wonder if she thinks we ran off with Tenshi.
[X] "You're in command, I take it?"
[x] "You're in command, I take it?"
[x] Where the hell is Youmu?

I love Aya to death, but this is a war zone, and she's just not dependable. Snake needs his rock.
[x] "You're in command, I take it?"
[x] Where the hell is Youmu?
[x] "You're in command, I take it?"
[x] Where the hell is Youmu?
"I take it you're in charge?"

"Technically, no." She replies matter-of-factly, "That's usually Suwako's role, but she lets me take over for reconnoissance work. Guess she figures I'm well-suited for the job.."

"You seem like you don't like it.." I say, noticing her shoulders drop slightly with her last sentence.

"I don't. But I'll tell you all about it later." She walks across to the farthest side of the room--about six feet away from me. "This way." She says, gesturing to me. I follow in relative silence as she heads through a small passageway tucked away behind a few wooden crates.

The walls in the passageway--and the adjacent room are all composed of bare concrete. Unadorned, spartan, and with no distinguishing features whatsoever. The way a concrete bunker buried deep below the surface should be.

"Nice place they got here.." Aya says without wonder, taking a quick snapshot of the room with a small camera at her waist. It's one of those metal boxes, like the ones I'd seen displayed in Kourindou. A digital camera, the shopkeeper called it.

"You said they put you in charge for recon work." I say, interrupting whatever it is she was doing. "Anything in particular you were out looking for?"

"You, for one." She points at me with the camera in her hand--an awfully impersonal gesture, all things considered. "But that was my own motivations, and not what Kanako intended to find, I'm sure. She hasn't said what exactly she has us looking for."

Aya suddenly steps away, heading quietly into yet another room--even further from the group we'd left by the entrance. Again, I follow her. This time into what appears to be some sort of storeroom. But, it's strange.. All of the boxes stacked in here are empty.

Just a bunch of empty cardboard, left here to rot. Whatever they held is long since gone, judging by a thin coat of dust across the topmost boxes. I roll the fine powder between my thumb and index finger, taking my concentration away from Aya for a split second..

Big mistake.

Next thing I know, she has me pushed up against the wall. Her strength is the same as always, and I can't push her away.

She kisses me. Suddenly, deeply. Over and over again until my mind goes blank. I don't even feel her arms drop when she finally pulls away.

"Ahhhh.." She smiles, licking her lips and leaning in as if to kiss me again.

"I missed you so much." She says, running her fingers down my neck. "Five weeks is far too long."

"Fi--" She covers my mouth as I go to speak.

"Five weeks and three days. I counted, you see." God, she's so close. I can hear her faint breathing, feel the radiant warmth from her skin. "I waited for you--the entire time. And just as I was about to give up hope, you fall right into my lap."

"Alright, now you're milking it." I say, removing the hand covering most of my face.

"Hehe, you're the same as always."

"It's only been about five hours for me. I can't do a whole lot of changing in that sort of time frame." I grab her by the waist, pulling her closer.

"I guess not--" She leans her head forward, raising herself up on the tips of her toes as she moves to kiss me again--

"Captain!" The tall, husky-voiced soldier from Aya's group turns the corner, though only Aya's eyes look to acknowledge her.

She pulls herself away from me with a great reluctance..

"What is it?" Aya asks, in a this-had-better-be-good sort of tone of voice.

"We found something--err, someone on the other side of the shelter. You'd better come take a look."

"Alright, lead the way." Aya sighs with disappointment, but pauses to give me a short glance before leaving.

With that, I should--

[ ] Follow them.
[ ] Look around here.
[X] Follow them.

Yanno, I've got nothing to say after reading the bit where Aya said she counted exactly how long it was she waited.
[X] Follow them.
[ze] Follow them.

(In before this gets us more not-with-Aya-time because we decide to investigate something.)

Poor Aya. No wonder she's been so irritable.
[X] Follow them.
[X] Follow them.

I get the feeling that the next time those two get any amount of time alone together, Snake's going to wind up having trouble walking for days...
[X] Follow them.
[X] Follow them.
I stick close behind them. As close as I can--Aya's far ahead of me, and the distance between up is only increasing. The tension in the woman's voice worried me--seems to have worried Aya as well. No matter her gender, experienced soldiers don't rattle easy.

The sameness of the corridors down here makes the place seem like a maze. It'd be easy to get turned around in here without an exact bearing on where I am at any given time. I pass by the main entrance as Aya and the other woman race down the hallway Tenshi stormed off down previously.

I hear a loud noise from up ahead. Not to different from the sound of gunfire, but unlike any sort of weapon I've ever heard. I hear the same sound a few more times as I struggle to keep up with Aya.

At last, she comes to a stop at a bend in the hallway. I nearly crash into her as something dark coming in from the other direction hits the wall ahead. The object--one of Aya's buddies--crumples into a heap on the floor, clearly unconscious.

"What the--" Aya takes a wary step back, eager not to wind up like the woman laying on the floor. "Damn!"

The masked woman beside steps past Aya, over the fallen one while readying her weapon. She fires without hesitation, aiming at something inside the next room. I'd move ahead to take a look, if I weren't so keen on keeping my head attached to the rest of me.

Aya thrusts something into my arms. The firearm she'd until recently kept slung over on her back. She looks back at me with a smile while I take a closer look at the thing..

'What am I gonna do with this?!' is my first thought. I've never used something quite so advanced as this. It weighs about the same as a small rifle, but the size of it is more fitting for a heavy machine gun. It doesn't appear to have a safety feature, nor can I tell where the breech ends and the barrel begins..

The woman fires again--three short bursts before ducking back into the hallway.

"Shit!" She yells, slapping a new magazine into the rifle. "The bitch just won't go down!"

Aya grabs the woman before she can fire again. She points to the woman on the ground..

"Take her back to the others. We'll handle this." No time to object. The woman grabs her fallen comrade by the legs and pulls her away while I'm stuck taking up her place at the corner.

I take a quick glance, looking into the next room before trying to open fire.

I see several bodies. One of which is the third member of the scouting party Aya sent in this direction. A tall, blonde-haired woman in the center of the room kneels down over a second body. From here, I can't determine if any of them are alive..

"This doesn't look good.." I whisper to Aya, taking another look around the corner.

The woman in the center sits with her back turned to me, giving me a number of options.

[ ] Open fire from here.
[ ] Sneak into the room.
[ ] Try talking to the woman.
Forgot mah trip.
[x] Try talking to the woman.

[x] Try talking to the woman.
[X] Sneak into the room

It's what Snake does best.
[X] Try talking to the woman.

Another familiar face, perhaps?
>A tall, blond haired woman
This could be any number of people (Greater-than-usual possibility of her being a PC-98 girl, too, since this is a story by Snake?).
[x] Try talking to the woman.
[x] Be ready to open fire if she attacks.
Diplomacy comes first.

"Hey, you!" I call out into the room, slowly stepping forward around the bend. My weapon stands ready in case this harebrained scheme of mine fails and the woman attacks. I can't say I'm too keen on shooting women, unarmed or otherwise, but I'll do it if I have no other options.

I'm getting no response from her, so I try again.

"Can you tell me what happened?!" I yell, hoping for some sort of reaction.

She moves, lifting the body at her feet into her arms.

"I'm coming in!"

I take a step into the room, immediately veering off to the side behind a support column for cover. There seems to be a number of these inside the room.

Now if I can only get to the third member of Aya's scouting party--

The column crumbles before me, turning to chunks of concrete in an instant. I run to the next one ahead before the dust settles. I put my eyes and weapon on the woman kneeling in the center of the room. I can almost see her face, but something protruding from her head is--

Wait, that's..

"Yuugi!" I call out the woman's name, now sure of her identity. I allow myself to relax a bit, having seen a familiar face.

This concrete pillar crumbles as well--I nearly miss having my head crushed as the debris flies back at me. Dust fills the room as the ceiling begins to crack. I cover my mouth to breathe..

I see the outline of a tall figure just ahead of me--

A pain in my stomach. Unbearable pain. My vision blurs. It feels like something's ripped me in half.

A moment later, I find myself on the far side of the room.

I can't see anything--the dust in the air is too thick.

I hear something collapse where I stood a moment ago. The cracking of concrete as the ceiling caves in. I grab the weapon at my feet as I try to stand and ignore the pain.

I'm in one piece, but I've never taken a hit like that before. Even getting shot doesn't compare. I think Yuugi just attacked me, but I can't be sure.

I gasp for breath, this time tearing a piece of my clothing to wrap around my mouth and nose. The dust in the air will suffocate me if I breathe too much.

The wall to my left cracks and explodes.

The wall to my right does the same.

Dirt from above begins to rain down into the room as the whole room vibrates. It looks like everything's about to come crashing down around me.

Something pushes me into the wall. It doesn't hurt like before, but the force of the blow is powerful enough to knock me back a step. Somebody stands in front of me--smaller.. Far smaller than Yuugi. Another woman.

I see something approaching as the dust settles. I can't maneuver my weapon with this girl standing in my way.. I think she's trying to protect me..

"Get out of the way!" I scream, trying to push her down.

"STOP IT!" She yells--a shrill, terrified voice. "STOOOOP IIIT!"

And everything just stops. The room falls deathly silent, save for the sound of dirt slowly flooding down from the ceiling. The pounding on the walls is gone.

I look down at the girl as she falls to her knees, clutching her waist while sobbing. The dark blonde color tells me it isn't Aya..

"Are... you hurt?" I ask, kneeling down over her. I keep my weapon ready in case something else happens--my attention never leaves the center of the room.

"I'm.. Fine." She throws my hand aside as I try to reach out to her. I see blood seeping through her clothes where she's clutching herself..

"You're bleeding.."


[ ] Need to get her out of here now..
[ ] Need to be sure it's safe first..
Again, trip, forgot, etc. sage for me being a dumbass.
[ ] Need to get her out of here now..
[ ] Need to be sure it's safe first..

I like both.
[X] Need to get her out of here now..
[X] Need to be sure it's safe first..
[X] Need to get her out of here now..
[X] Need to be sure it's safe first..

[z] Need to get her out of here now..

We probably shouldn't do this. The way Snake is getting his ass kicked by nothing visible makes me wonder if it's Flandre.
"I gotta get you outta here."

It seems safe for the moment. It's not unlikely that I'll wind up getting attacked again helping her, but a wound like that demands immediate attention. I think she's been shot--probably before I'd gotten here.

I reach out for the woman in front of me, but only to be pushed away again. She clearly needs the help, but for some reason won't accept it. Her breathing grows ragged with every move.

Finally, I manage to help her up. Seems like she's able to walk on her own--or rather, she prefers it. I offer to carry her a number of times only to be met with refusal.

I make my way through the room, seeing absolutely no sign of Yuugi. Seems my hunch might be correct about her attacking me.. It would at least explain the pain in my chest equivalent to the sort somebody might feel after being flattened by a Mack truck..

The room is absolutely devastated. Four out of a total of eight pillars have collapsed, and dirt has fallen into the room on just about all sides. The injured girl beside me, using my shoulder and neck as a support, grunts and coughs. She nearly falls flat on her face after tripping on some twisted steel reinforcement wire.

I sit her down in the hallway where Aya waits. The two women wear the same terrified expression, though Aya's eyes have a noticeable spark of life.

"Does your team have a medic?" I ask Aya, trying to push the injured woman's hand aside to get a look at her wounds.

"I-- err.. Yeah, but--"

"Go back, bring them here. I think she's been shot." Aya nods, and nearly vanishes into thin air thanks to her quick acceleration.

"It's.. Nothing." The woman mutters, wincing and gritting her teeth as she speaks. "Yuugi is--"

"Worry about yourself, kid. I'l deal with Yuugi." I'll worry about how she knows Yuugi later.. Aya rounds the corner, dragging one of her crewmen behind.

"Hope that was fast enough.." Aya smiles readily but uneasily, letting her medic get to work without a seconds hesitation.

"Perfect." I stand, brush the dust from my shoulders, and get a quick look at my own level of injury before deciding to head back out there. "If it's possible, try to get her out of here before the whole building comes crashing down." I nod at the injured woman, who looks at me with a strange mix of emotions. I hear her mutter something as I run back into the room..

It's deadly quiet, now that the dust and dirt has settled. Even the bombs that are supposed to be dropping overhead can't be heard past the thick, cracked walls.

"Yuugi!" I call out into the room. My voice rings hollow as it echoes back from the far side. I keep my weapon ready.

"...ver here!" I faintly hear her calling back to me.. Somewhere towards the other end of the room..

I find her laying under one of the fallen concrete supports and several feet of dirt. She seems uninjured, but entirely incapable of moving. It could be a bluff..

"Oh, heya Snake. Never thought I'd see you all the way down here." She smiles, as friendly as always. "Mind lending a hand?"

[ ] Try digging her out.
[ ] Ask her what happened.
[ ] Ask her about the injured woman.
[ ] Try digging her out.
[ ] Ask her what happened.
[X] Ask her what happened.
[x] Try digging her out.
[x] Ask her what happened.

Oni aren't known for their duplicity.
[X] Ask her what happened.
[X] Ask her about the injured woman.
[X] If nothing in her answers or behavior seems amiss, try digging her out.

Maybe this was all just a big misunderstanding, resulting from someone getting a bit spooked or trigger-happy, Yuugi getting a bit carried away with defending herself, and that strike against us was either an attempt at an attack or was actually meant to get us out of the way of the collapse that happened just moments after we got the wind knocked out of us.

Still, something about this scene seems a bit odd. Should even the amount of concrete and dirt she's buried under be enough to incapacitate an oni?
[X] Ask her what happened.
[X] Ask her about the injured woman.
[X] If nothing in her answers or behavior seems amiss, try digging her out.
[x] Try digging her out.
[x] Ask her what happened.
Lazy turns to sick, sick turns to more sick. Oh, joy! That'll teach me to slack off. Here are some long-awaited updates. SOW later today or tomorrow.


I see no reason not to help her, but it looks like this concrete column is what's pinned her down. Lifting it on my own would be nothing less than impossible. Ten men wouldn't be enough.. I wonder how many thousands of pounds something this size might weigh.

"Ya know," Yuugi says, strangely calm despite her situation. "Any other day of the week I'd lift it myself, but.."

"Something seems to be draining your power, right?" Aya steps up behind me. A little shaken up, but unhurt otherwise. For that matter..

"..." Yuugi seems to be giving her a strange, almost angry sort of look. "Yeah, why?"

"Same problem on my end. I'd thought I was overworking myself at first, but.. Well.." Aya loses her train of thought. I think to myself, if Yuugi hadn't been losing her strength, I wonder if I'd be little more than a red spot of paste on the wall right about now--that is, if that crushing blow was her doing to begin with.

"Oh, and, by the way." Yuugi adds, visibly annoyed. "I'm still kinda buried here. Can't it wait?"

"Right." Aya pretends to be surprised by the thing that's been staring her down the throat since she walked up. Truth be told I can see right through it. Yuugi is either blind or just feigning ignorance, but she doesn't seem to notice it.

Somehow, the three of us together manage to work the concrete block off to the side, though Aya walks off with a cut finger and I nearly wind up with a flattened head. Yuugi probably did most of the work, considering how little effort Aya and myself had to exert.

Yuugi stands, brushing dust and dirt off her chest, head, back-- Well, pretty much all of her was covered in dirt until just now.

"Ahh--! Much better!" Yuugi stretches herself out, but seems preoccupied by looking at the broken state of what used to be a large storage facility of sorts.

"Well, damn." She says, totally unimpressed. "Uhh.." She wants to say something, but chooses to stay silent in the end. Instead, she pulls something out from under a small pile of rubble. She tosses the beaten and camouflaged shape to Aya. The third member of Aya's scouting team.

"Here." Yuugi says, uncaring. "That one's yours, yeah? Not my problem if she's dead."

Aya is too shocked for words, or simply preoccupied with keeping the what appears to be half-conscious woman steady. At the very least, I'm sure she isn't dead.

Yuugi starts to leave. I'm not sure why, but I stop her.

She turns around, nearly swatting my hand off her shoulder.

[ ] ?
[x] What is your major malfunction, soldier?

What the hell Yuugi?
[x] What is your major malfunction, soldier?
[X] What is your major malfunction, soldier?
[ze] What is your major malfunction, soldier?
"'The hell is your problem?!" I don't know where I'm going with this, but seeing Yuugi's blatant disregard for the life of this other woman has me seeing red. I don't know the details of the encounter prior to my arrival. Frankly, I don't give a damn. "It might not--"

I next find myself with my back to the wall. Breath nearly knocked out of me, feet off the ground, with Yuugi's hand wrapped tightly around my throat. Pulling her hand off is like trying to bend steel, and her eyes flare up with an indomitable rage--a fire burning in her already blood-red pupils. My own feelings pale in comparison.

She drops me without uttering even a word, and storms off as I clutch at my throat trying to catch my breath and make the pain go away all at once. Aya rushes over to my side..

"Are you alright?" She asks, worried. Stopping only to stab a hateful glare into Yuugi's back. The Oni seems to shrug even that off, not even bothering to look back as she scoops up the blonde in the hallway and disappears.

"I'm fine." I try to say, still coughing. The pain eases away slowly. "Get her out of here."

I look to the woman slung over Aya's back. She emits a groan, made muffled by the helmet she wears. I'll be fine in a minute, but she's clearly in a world of hurt. Aya rushes out of the room, leaving me to my own devices.

I'm used to it.

A few minutes pass, and I'm back on my feet wondering just what the fuck I said to make Yuugi retaliate so violently. It seems entirely uncalled for, but then again I'm no Oni.

The room shudders as proof of the bombs dropping overhead. There's a lot about this place I still don't know. A lot I probably don't want to know. Not much different than the war-torn world I've come from. Just the weapons have changed.

I dust myself off, finding a large tear in my clothes just above the hip. Thankfully, I'm not bleeding. But these clothes will need to be replaced. I'll be happy even to find a set of pants down here--the handmade and distinctly Japanese-styled outfit I have on now doesn't suit me much at all. I stand out like a sore thumb, wearing something someone in my profession would only be caught dead in. But it stands as a testament to my overly comfortable lifestyle from this past year.

I step back into the halls, and ask the first person I see for directions. Some Scottish gent with a, angry-sounding voice, one eye, and probably the largest gun out of the entire bunch.

He points me in the right direction. That is, right back into the torn-apart room I'd just come from. Turns out there was another hallway at the far end of it which is now completely caved in.

Thankfully, he says, there's another way around.

It's a long, dark, and pointlessly twisted corridor like the ones one would only find in bad horror movies. Cobwebs and everything.

But the light returns when I step back into the more populated areas of the bunker. I stop and ask for directions again, and not even a minute later I find the armory. I'd stop to be amazed by the sheer quantity of guns they have packed into this tiny little room, but I'm a man on a mission.

I finally find a set of clothes in my size, and despite the solid black color, I'm happy to wear them. Lightweight, breathable--fitting for someone looking to kill an army single-handedly. Thankfully, I'm still wearing my own boots.

I grab a small pistol while the attendant isn't looking, and head back out. I should probably--

[ ] Go find Tenshi.
[ ] Check up on Aya.
[ ] Look for Yuugi.
[X] Go find Tenshi.
[x] Grab a new set of guns before leaving the armory. These futuristic guns are a pain in the ass.
[x] Check up on Aya.
[X] Go find Tenshi.
[O] Check up on Aya.
[X] Go find Tenshi.
[x] Check up on Aya.
[B] Go find Tenshi.
Tenshi wins! Updates tomorrow.

--go find Tenshi. She's been missing for quite some time, and though I'd hate to admit it I'm a little worried about the brat. But with no clear indication on where she is, I have no idea where I should start looking.

Well, thankfully she stands out. Not every day you'd meet someone with naturally-occuring blue hair. I ask a few of the locals if they've seen her. Most give me a funny look when I try to explain her appearance--probably think I've gone crazy. Can't say I blame 'em. But the looks are proof enough that she hasn't been through this way, so I start to head back.

And soon enough, I'm back to square one--standing in front of the large blast door that blocks off the compound from the rest of the world above. Or would be, if it hadn't been opened while I was gone. Explains for the most part why the room is notably vacant.

One of the ladies from Aya's team stands guard in front of the ladder, stopping me almost as soon as I'm through the open doorway.

"You don't wanna go up there." She says, making it clear in her tone that she'd rather not be here.

"Why not?" I ask like the idiot I might as well be in this situation.

"The bitch's serving her penance." She nods to the shaft leading to the surface, offering little further explanation. "Falling rocks."

"I see.."


This is going nowhere fast. Of all the people Aya has become acquainted with, I get the disgruntled one who hates talking to other people.. With the addition of the strange gas mask these women are wearing, it makes taking to them all the more impersonal. So--

"Seen Tenshi around here?" I ask, hoping to achieve at least something by talking to this woman.


"The girl I came in with. Blue hair, weird dress, real shitty attitude?"

"Nope, haven't seen her."

"Well, thanks anyway." I walk away before this gets any more awkward. "Shit.."

I start to feel tired shortly after I resume my aimless wandering of the compound. I ignore it. At least, I try to. The less I try to think about it, it seems, the more it bothers me. And if that wasn't bad enough, I start to get hungry too. I've really gone soft, letting such things get to me.

Another dark corridor, another small group of soldiers. I give them the same story I'd told just about everybody else in the building, expecting the same sort of reaction.

To my surprise, one of the total of three knows something. The remaining two turn their eyes onto him as he points me down a hallway to the left.

The hall leads to a small dormitory. A total of four rooms at the end of the hall with four bunks per. I find Tenshi fast asleep on what I'm sure is the cleanest of the lot. She must've gabbed and complained and cheated some poor soul out of it. But with that utterly contented look on her face, I can't fault her for it.

Nor am I going to risk an earful were I to wake her. I quietly close the curtain to her bunk, and head back to the start again.

The disgruntled woman guarding the way to the surface is kind enough to point me in Aya's direction when I return. The growing pile of rubble behind her leads me to believe they're clearing the way of fallen debris for us to leave tomorrow.

I find Aya set up behind a desk in a sort of makeshift infirmary. A number of cots confiscated from God-knows-where line the walls, most of them occupied by the soldiers living down here. One of the two injured women from Aya's team occupies the nearest one, and the blonde girl I helped earlier is sound asleep next to her.

"Took you long enough." Aya chides, arms crossed, leaning her chair back on it's two hind legs.

"Had some business to tend to." I take a seat on the desk in front of her. "How you holding up?"

"I'll manage. Seems while you were gone, the problem sorta worked itself out." She leans back in the chair even farther. I wonder if it might fall out from under her, and seriously hope it doesn't. "Yuugi needs to tell you something, next time you see her."

"I was worried about that.."

"Don't be." Aya smiles. "My girl's gonna be fine by tomorrow, 's what the doc says. Parsee's already healed but won't let us move her. So all that's left is for Yuugi to make amends."

"Parsee?" Name sounds familiar. Where do I recognize it from.."

"..I expect that's what she wants to talk to you about." Aya just keeps going. Figure running her mouth is what's keeping her from losing it. She's been run ragged. Even I can see as much. And this last incident seems to have pushed her right up to the breaking point. Figures I show up when she's at her worst.

[ ] Stay and talk.
[ ] Ask to see her in private.
[ ] Other (Specify)
[O] Stay and talk.
[X] Stay and talk.
[x] Ask to see her in private.

Time to take care of business.
[ze] Ask to see her in private.
[x] Ask to see her in private.
It's time to relieve some of that stress.
[ ] Ask to see her in private.
[x] Put your hands on Aya's shoulders and reassure her that she's doing a great job; you're very happy you can depend on her like this.
[x] Ask to see her in private.

Well, I don't know if this is any time for Aya to get even more stressed. Best to not frustrate her
[x] Put your hands on Aya's shoulders and reassure her that she's doing a great job; you're very happy you can depend on her like this.
[x] Ask to see her in private.
[x] Ask to see her in private.
Bah. This once a week thing has got to stop. I'll have SOW updated sometime tomorrow, and hopefully I'll have the time to write another update for each sometime sooner than the end of this week.


I've got to get her out of here, away from this room. The sterile smell mixed with this dusty atmosphere is stifling, like I'm trying to breathe water.

"I found some beds a little ways down the hall." I say, interrupting her tangent. I'd somewhat unconsciously tuned out what it was she was saying thanks to my worry, but it isn't hard to guess what's on her mind. "You should try to get some sleep."

"...I'm not tired." She gives her answer unconvincingly, the look in her eyes starting to degrade as she ponders the thought of sleep. I decide to give her one more push..

"Your squad should be fine by themselves, if that's what you're worried about. C'mon, you look like hell." I stand, offer her my hand. I watch as she considers taking it over refusing it, and vice versa.

"I'm not leaving here by myself."

"Fine, fine." She sighs. "You win."

She takes my hand, I rejoice a little on the inside.

"But no funny business tonight. I'm not in the mood."


But still, I know she's hurting. After what happened when she pulled me aside, how could I not? Nevertheless, now wouldn't be a good time to pursue the issue. I should concentrate on giving her some much needed R'nR.

The walk to the dormitories is uneventful at best. Aya soulfully expresses her concern for her team, and for our situation on the whole. Seems that nobody on her extensive intel network has the slightest clue as to how or why we wound up here. And save Parsee, the only people I've recognized so far were at the party in Kanako's shrine.

Where the others might be, I wonder if God even knows. At the very least, she might be able to grant me enough knowledge to give me a starting point. I've found my way out of hell, I think I can tackle something like this.

I help Aya into the bed just above the one I'd considered taking earlier--across the room from Tenshi so it's less likely we'll cause each other trouble. I give Aya a kiss goodnight and get into bed myself.

But there's so much on my mind, I can't concentrate enough to get to sleep. With the roof a mere foot and a half above me, there's not much to look at, either. Just visions of this past day come flooding into my mind. Most noticeably the memories of those dark halls. The cold underground air, a scared Tenshi, the reptilian monster of a machine the likes of which would cause even the fiercest of youkai would cower and hide in terror.

I wonder where it flew off to, or if I'd ever see it again. I hope and pray that I never will, but lady luck has never been so kind to me before. I doubt she'll let me catch a break this time, either.

The lights suddenly go out, but none of the others in the room seem to pay it any mind. Must be on a timer or something--I can still see a few lights glowing dimly outside through the gap under the door.

I shut my eyes for a brief moment...

And feel someone crawl into bed on top of me.

"I can't sleep in here." Aya says, a small whisper in my ear.

"Yeah, same." I move over to give her some space.

"This place gives me the creeps."

"Just pretend like we're asleep at home." I pull her into an embrace.

"Our bed's way more comfortable." She smiles ruefully, letting out a quiet laugh.

"Better than sitting in a foxhole all night."

"I'll bet.." She closes her eyes. "At least it's warm in here."

"I'm here too, you know."

"Mmmm, yeah."

She falls silent long enough for me to wonder if she's still awake, but a quick nudge proves otherwise. Hopefully, things might go a little better for her tomorrow. I can't stand seeing her so depressed like she was today.

I close my eyes for a brief moment..


[ ] Write-in dream sequence.
[X] You're in a dark hallway. The lights flicker and spark above you. Here in the base you know there are demons. You must fight the demons!
[x] The initial resistance against the machines. Yuka blasting holes through floating warships. Yukari gapping their own bombs on top of them. Reimu raining massive meteor-like orbs down from the heavens. Aya weaving through streams of lasers and blowing away missiles with her fan to drop an armored Youmu into a hanger, who proceeds to slice apart the ship and from the inside. Komachi manipulating their flying altitude so that they fly right into the earth. Those oni, tearing combat machines apart, limb by metal limb. Yuyuko possessing a unit in the middle of a column, then running amok.
[x] The initial resistance against the machines. Yuka blasting holes through floating warships. Yukari gapping their own bombs on top of them. Reimu raining massive meteor-like orbs down from the heavens. Aya weaving through streams of lasers and blowing away missiles with her fan to drop an armored Youmu into a hanger, who proceeds to slice apart the ship and from the inside. Komachi manipulating their flying altitude so that they fly right into the earth. Those oni, tearing combat machines apart, limb by metal limb. Yuyuko possessing a unit in the middle of a column, then running amok.
No! You will be KILL BY DEMONS
[X] You're in a dark hallway. The lights flicker and spark above you. Here in the base you know there are demons. You must fight the demons!

>> Anonymous 09/07/20(Mon)11:16 No. 90979
[x] The initial resistance against the machines. Yuka blasting holes through floating warships. Yukari gapping their own bombs on top of them. Reimu raining massive meteor-like orbs down from the heavens. Aya weaving through streams of lasers and blowing away missiles with her fan to drop an armored Youmu into a hanger, who proceeds to slice apart the ship and from the inside. Komachi manipulating their flying altitude so that they fly right into the earth. Those oni, tearing combat machines apart, limb by metal limb. Yuyuko possessing a unit in the middle of a column, then running amok.

I must fight the demons!
[X] You're in a dark hallway. The lights flicker and spark above you. Here in the base you know there are demons. You must fight the demons!
I had too much fun with this.

Another day, another dark room. I never did understand it--why these rooms were so goddamned dark. Makes me wonder if some blockhead forgot to pay the electric bills on time. The lights flicker overhead. The ones that haven't been shot out, at least. Looks like some heavy fighting went on in this area.

Recently too, by the looks of it. The holes on the walls from standard, military-issue AP rounds still smoke and smolder. The stench of cordite and the copper smell of blood fills the room. One of their dead lay at me feet. Not one of us, of course. That is to say, 'us' as in humans. No, these things aren't human. Some might call 'em demons. I call 'em butt-fuck ugly. They might be faster and stronger that us, but they can 'catch' a speeding bullet just the same as a human can. They die just the same. The number of bullets it takes is just a little bit more.

God I love this job.

But the radio in my ear only proves to be little more than a nuisance. The brass calls for any survivors to regroup in the mess hall. Heh, survivors. That's a good one. The poor rotten bastards that try to go through those halls are just gonna come out as ground meat. That place is a breeding ground for these things--the big ones especially. They should consider taking a lesson from that bastard Colonel Johnson. He tore through these fuckers like a goddamned hurricane and what did he get for it? A battlefield commendation and a one-way trip to a chair behind a desk. The military never did know a good soldier even when one stared then down their fucking throats.

I'm not like him. Nobody is. I've got my hands full just staying alive. After fourteen years doing this gig, I know how humans think. I know how they fight, how they live and die on the battlefield. But nobody could've told me I'd be spending my life in the service fighting these monsters inside this dark fuck-hole of a military base. Nobody, that is, except my good old pop. But that man was a crazy fucked-up son of a bitch. Always told me how the 'demons' would get me if I joined the service. Well, you were right, you crazy fuck! I shoulda stayed at home, become a lawyer or some shit. I ain't cut out for this shit.

I climb the stairs into the next room, weapon at the ready. One of those eyeballed bastards tries to surprise me by jumping down from the ceiling. Old eight eyes winds up minus a head, only thanks to my quick trigger finger. A few blasts from a shotgun works incredibly well on the unarmored ones.

But.. Fuck me, I'm in the armory! My wildest dreams are about to come true. Superior firepower here I come! Another of the fuckers waits for me behind the door in a dark corner. I blast a hole in his ass like the last twenty.

No sooner have I stepped into my room when my radio goes off on a tirade. Static all across the board, loud as hell. I'm ready to throw the thing down and shoot it, when--

"Hello? Anybody getting this?!" A frantic voice of an old soldier. I'd answer him, but the mic was torn off my one of those spider monsters.

"This is Johnson! Colonel Johnson!" Well, I'll be damned. Hell, I'm already damned as it is. I sit tight, see if I can't learn anything useful..

"I don't have much time. They've already overrun the command center. Shit, I always though I'd go out with a gun in my hands.. To anybody listening, you need to evacuate! Get the fuck out while you still got your balls! They're calling for a nuclear strike on the base. Grab whatever ammo you can and get moving, that's an order!"

I don't like the sound of that. A nuclear strike? They're abandoning the fucking base?! I think I'd best take the good doctor's advice and scram! I grab the biggest gun I can--one of their experimental plasma rifles. I sure hope it's better than the old pea shooter they issued me.

A quick test firing shows me it's potential. The wall turns to slag in an instant, glowing blue due to some sort of residue the plasma leaves behind. A few more shots and the wall opens wide enough for me to step through.

I immediately wish I hadn't.

It's a nest of the bastards! A whole fucking horde! And I've just made one hell of a grand entrance. I turn to run, but it looks like the hole I made activated some sort of emergency seal--a plate of foot-thick steel designed only to prevent atmosphere leaks in the event of a breach in the wall.

Shit, I wasn't thinking. Why didn't I remember that?! It's a basic system in these off-earth bases! I curse my own stupidity. But now I'm left with two options..

I either die like a dog, or I die like a dog and take as many of the bastards as I can with me.

I open fire, the plasma liquidating the nearly half the group in only three shots. I don't let up--wave after wave of the demons pour out of the walls, all eager to have a bite of me.

Something explodes behind me, the shock knocking me off my feet. My chest hurts from the impact, and I cough up blood. Standing becomes a life or death struggle.

But once I'm up, I come to stand toe-to-toe with the biggest fucking monster any soldier in any battle has ever seen. It appears to be some sort of cyborg--a melding of machine and monster with some kind of tank cannon grafted onto it's arm. This.. 'cyber-demon'.. It must be the cause of that blast. The barrel of it's cannon smokes, and it readies to fire again.

So they decide to bring out the big guns on me, eh? Well, I'll give his filthy ass a taste of plasma! I ready my weapon and fire, thankful that I somehow managed to be quicker on the draw than the beast. The blast of superheated energy nails the bastard right in the chest, causing it to recoil before firing it's weapon. The ceiling explodes, collapses onto the twenty-foot high monstrosity.

Somehow, I'm still alive. The air grows calm as the dust settles. The radio in my ear turns to static yet again.

I cringe at the sound. That unconscious movement may have saved my life. A steel beam comes crashing down--

I force myself out of a daze. My weapon is shattered. I think my leg is broken. The pain is unbearable, but the situation I'm in has become beyond hopeless. I can't make it out of the base in this kind of shape, especially unarmed.

The pile of debris in the center of the room moves. Steel plates and beams clatter to the floor. The monster is still alive--!

But it seems to be in the same position as me. It pushes it's head through the mess of steel and wires, and turns to me. It raises the arm that would have held that monstrous cannon, but it's been severed at the elbow.

The radio crackles and sputters to life as the thing tries to pull it's mangled body free. A terrified, possibly insane voice mutters, "This ain't real--! None of it is-- This can't be happening..! It's all in my head. That's right, all in my head-- All in my head, all in my head-- The demons are in my head! I'm the demons, we're the demons--!"

He's lost it, whoever he is. Can't say I blame him. We get attacked by some alien monsters and all we can do now is await our sweet oblivion at the hands of a gigaton thermonuclear warhead. Yeah, looking at that poor armless bastard over there, unaware of it's impending doom, I think to myself. Maybe the crazy's right. With that sort of power, maybe we are the demons.


Something moving beside me tears me out of my sleep. Aya.

She adjusts her position slightly, bringing her head closer to mine. I give her a kiss on the forehead, careful not to wake her. I--

[ ] Want to lay like this a little longer.
[ ] Should probably get her up.
[X] Want to lay like this a little longer.
[ ] Want to lay like this a little longer.
[X] Want to lay like this a little longer.
[X] Want to lay like this a little longer.
[X] Want to lay like this a little longer.
[X] Want to lay like this a little longer.

Enjoy the tranquility while it lasts. Because it won't.
I just can't bring myself to wake her. She looks so peaceful, so truly happy off in her little dream world. I'm afraid that if I do so much as move, I'll take that away from her. So I remain still, holding her close, waiting for the moment when she decides it's time to wake up. Despite the long list of questions in my head, I find myself put at ease when I look at her. I must be turning into yet another hopeless romantic.

She stirs, murmurs something in her sleep. I brush a few loose hairs from her face. She groans, brushing my hand away.

"I'm awake." She grumbles, yawning loudly and stretching as far as this cramped space will allow. "Mnnnnnnh--!"

"Feel better?" I ask, brushing the same stray hair from her face for a second time.

"Very much so, now that you're here." She smiles, patting me on the cheek as she adds with a dramatic flair, "I'm so lost without you."

I sigh, trying not to laugh out loud. "You're hopeless." Now that she's fully awake, I try to push for her to get out of bed. I can't get up until she does, now that I think about it, so letting her wake up on her own was a good decision on my part.

I slide open the curtain to our bunk, though an unpleasant sight on the other side makes me want to close it again. Tenshi, of all people, has taken it upon herself to wait for the two of us to wake up. Seeing the open curtain, she steps over, putting her face at an almost uncomfortable distance from the edge of the bed.

"Would you hurry it up?" She says with an awful scowl on her face. "They're getting ready to head to the surface."

"Shower~" Aya mutters, rubbing her eyes lazily.

"There are no showers down here, hurry up!"

I help Aya to her feet, making an effort to ignore Tenshi's worse-than-usual mood. If I were a betting man, I'd expect her excessive grouchiness this morning might have to do with the lack of showers in this concrete cave system. I could sure use one right about now..

Aya takes off first, though I linger behind for a moment longer. I turn to Tenshi once Aya is out of earshot.

"Hey, thanks for not waking us up."

"Whatever." She replies with indifference, eager to push me out of the room.

I wonder if it'd kill her to say 'you're welcome' once in a while. Are celestials allergic to manners like the majority of youkai are to them? I sometimes wonder that, after all I've seen of her, this bad attitude is just a cover act and that she's really just a kind little girl below the surface.

Looking back and seeing the disgusted look on her face, I immediately think twice about my hypothesis.

Just past the blast doors, a crowd of people waits eagerly to climb to the surface. The mass of debris that was by the tunnel up has been cleared away, though a few bits and pieces of broken concrete remain. Aya's group stands off to the side, all circling around the one who had been injured the previous night. The one with the number '7' on her helmet. Parsee stands with them, though I see no sign of--

I feel a hand on my shoulder. Yuugi stands just behind me, though it's strange that I hadn't noticed her standing there when I came in. The meek look on her face makes me wonder if she may have been avoiding being seen on purpose.

"Can I talk to you for a sec?" She asks, nodding to the hallway I'd come out of.

"Sure." I follow her outside the room. But once we're clear through the doorway, she spins around, and says--

"I want you to hit me."

"What?" Her words strike me as odd initially. Though, remembering she's an oni and not just some girl, they begin to make more sense as I see things from her side. "Why?" I ask.

"Look, just do it. I feel bad after the way I acted yesterday, and this is the only way I'll get it off my chest."

I have to respect her for being so forthright with me, but I still don't want to hit her. Even seeing this from her side as an oni doesn't make me feel any better about it.

"That might be all fine and dandy for you, but what about me, huh? I know I won't feel any better about anything if I knock you around a bit, so let's just say I don't have the guts and that you owe me one."

She gives me a hurtful glare, though the fire in her eyes dissipates quickly. She seems loathe to accept my terms over her own, but does so fairly willingly, "Fuck! Ya know, I really hate owing people anything. Humans especially. But.." She sighs heavily, relaxing the tension built up in her shoulders. "This one's my bad. Gotta just take it 'n smile.." Yet another sigh as she turns away. "Alright, you got it. Just go easy on me, 'kay?"

She heads back out before I can say anything. Not that there's much I could say. I figure, had I punched her instead I'd have let her take the easy way out of this. And with all the undue stress she's caused Aya, I can't let her walk away with a bruised cheek and a clean conscience.


More next post.
I head back out into the main room. The crowd has thinned noticeably since I'd walked out with Yuugi. Aya seems to have noticed what transpired, though aside from a few short glances decides to keep to herself. Unusual, especially coming from a gossip nut like her. I know she's curious, and that she'll probably ask for the details later.

But for now, she starts shoveling her team towards the ladder to the surface. The crowd grows thinner and thinner, and after a few more minutes even I'm on my way up. The only one behind me is Yuugi, who for some reason or another decided to linger inside the bunker after the rest of us had left.

It's raining on the surface. Enough to make me and everyone else uncomfortable, but not enough to drench us as we clear the hatch. The buildings flanking either side of the entry--that had both been standing tall the last I'd seen them have been reduced to rubble. The charred and pockmarked asphalt road ahead indicates a near direct hit.

Though what strikes me as odd is not the buildings themselves so much as what appears to be a downed aircraft just up ahead. Several of the refugees and soldiers from the bunker have already gathered around. The man with the Russian accent, who had acted as my guide to the city yesterday has pulled somebody from the wreckage.The pilot, I presume. Clearly killed in the crash.

"Strange.." Aya says, standing beside me. Only her voice betrays her identity now, as she's put her mask back on. "What could've shot that down..?"

"Friendly fire, maybe?" Suwako, also with her mask on, follows the two of us up to the crash.

The nose of the craft is embedded into the ground, crumpled slightly with the impact. It's angle allows me to access the cockpit with ease. Though, something immediately strikes me as odd about it's body.

"No bullet holes." Couldn't have been shot down. Maybe some sort of mechanical failure? I climb up to the aft end of the craft, trying to get a better look at the thing.

But as I look to the horizon of this rain-drenched and broken city, I see a number more of them. Crashed aircraft, almost as if they'd fallen out of the sky in formation. Each one nose-down in the mud, same as this one. The fallen planes seem to dot the city--the matte black finish and angled bodies easy to spot in the sea of grey concrete.

"No fucking way." Aya mutters quietly, having climbed up beside me. She pulls the helmet ad mask from her head, eager to see the sight with her eyes uncovered. "How the hell--?"

"Whaddaya see!?" A voice from the crowd on the ground behind us. One of the unnamed men from inside the bunker.

I climb back down to a crowd of expectant onlookers.

"Well?" Suwako is the first to speak.

"Planes just like this are fallen all over the city." Eyes widen, a couple of shocked gasps from the crowd. "They seem to have just dropped out of the sky."

"Any idea what did it?!" "How many are there?" Such questions emerge from the crowd, mixing together and becoming nothing more than a frantic noise as more and more speak up with their own personal concerns.

"We've gotta get back to Kanako." Aya jumps down off of the plane, landing several feet to my left. "I've got a bad feeling about this.."

"You always say that right before shit hits the fan." One of Aya's teammates speaks up.

"What about these people?" Another one asks.

"Leave 'em." A third of Aya's team.


"We can't just abandon them like this!"

"Then hand over your gear and join 'em."

The back-and-forth continues for a while longer, with no real end in sight. Aya and Suwako are pulled into it eventually, though they too end up taking opposite sides in the argument. Aya for taking these people and Suwako against. Aya turns to me for support.

[ ] I say we take them.
[ ] I say we leave them.
[ ] This isn't my choice to make.


Just a copypasta for those who don't read both of my stories (and yes, I know you're out there~):

Leaving a long one for now. I've a vacation planned starting Friday and going through to the end of the following week. I'm unsure of what to expect regarding internet connectivity though I'll be bringing my laptop regardless, so if I do happen to get connected, I'll probably have an update or two in the coming week.
[x] I say we take them.
- [x] "I'll take the responsibility for them, even if you guys won't."

Snake is a natural leader. Even though he may have no idea what's going on, it's time he asserts his leaderly qualities.

>I'll probably have an update or two in the coming week.

[X] I say we take them.

Human shields
[x] Take one or two for analysis. Leave the rest.

There's nothing we can do for the dead but we can try and find out what happened to them.
[z] I say we take them.
- [e] "I'll take the responsibility for them, even if you guys won't."
[x] I say we take them.
- [x] "I'll take the responsibility for them, even if you guys won't."
[B] This isn't my choice to make.
Blargh. General laziness subsided, site downtime began. Finally, updates brought to you as quick as possible! Which of course I had written while the site was down. The path I'd wrote out may be a little more route-neutral than if the site had been up for me to check votes. SOW sometime soon-ish.


Maybe it's because I've yet to be caught up in the argument that I've thought of it, but Aya and her group seem to have completely forgotten to ask the refugees--or whatever they are--for their own input. I'd be more than happy to give Aya a little hand and agree to take them, but do they want to be taken with us in the first place?

The only one I've spoken to at length is the man with the Russian accent. He seems to be the most talkative member of the group from what I can tell, and seems to be almost a leader of some sort. Also, he's the easiest for me to pick out of the crowd, so I simply pull him aside.

All the while, I notice Aya and Suwako have gone back to arguing with one another. They're starting to throw around more personal insults, and despite my gut reaction to want to intervene, I choose instead to let them occupy themselves.

"So," I say to the man I've pulled aside, "While they're busy trying to make decisions for everybody else, I'd like your input on the matter."

"What matter?" He asks inquisitively, giving me a look saying, 'do they always act like this?'.

"It would seem that about... maybe half of the idiots up there want to take you guys with us." I check back on Aya and Suwako for a moment to make sure they haven't started throwing fists rather than insults. "The other half, well.. They don't seem too keen on the idea. I'd rather you guys come with, but from what I could see your group seems to be pretty well settled into that bunker."

"You want to take us out of the city?" As I'd thought, he understands the situation completely. "Where to?"

"Beats me. I'm a little sketchy on the details, so making an informed decision is a little out of the question." I try to be diplomatic, but I find it a bit difficult not knowing where we're all headed. So I point to the two bickering morons who would. "You're more than welcome to ask one of them."

"I'm afraid I must pass.." He contemplates for a moment. "But if it'll get us out from under the bombs, I suppose I'll make the rounds. Ask everyone for their own personal input. I'd rather the people we have together already stay together to keep our numbers strong, but I may be hoping for too much. I'll get back to you once I've finished."

He smiles, adjusts his rifle's strap on his shoulder, and heads straight for the group of people amassing around the dead pilot pulled from the downed plane previously. Yelling in the background tells me I still have business to attend to.

"Alright, ladies. Break it up." I say calmly, though loud enough so that they can hear it over their own angry shrieks. Aya is the first to jump down off of the plane's wing, rushing towards me as if she were trying to win some sort of race. Suwako stays put, making Aya's efforts all in vain.

"So?" She asks, expecting some good news. "Are they coming with us?"

"Maybe, maybe not." I shrug. "I'm leaving it up to them to decide." The way she looks at me tells me that this sort of thought hadn't even occurred to her. Not even once.

"But it isn't safe here!" She says, as if trying to argue her point to me might make them change their minds. "They'll die if they stay!"

"That's up to them. Hopefully they'll make the right decision." But judging by the look on our Russian friend's face, things aren't looking so good. He continues around the area, asking each person individually for their decision. A slow and tedious way to do things, sure, but very thorough.

Aya sighs, exacerbated, and storms off. I opt not to pursue her. Instead, I--

[ ] Look for Yuugi.
[ ] Talk to Suwako.
[ ] Find Tenshi.
[ ] Fuck it, go after Aya.
[x] Talk to Suwako.
[X] Find Tenshi.
[ ] Fuck it, go after Aya.
[X] Fuck it, go after Aya.
[x] Talk to Suwako.
[ ] Fuck it, go after Aya.
[x] Fuck it, go after Aya.

Aya, maybe if you told them where the fuck they were going, they'd be able to make a more informed decision?
[B] Talk to Suwako.
Fuck it. I don't know what the hell's gotten into her but she needs to sort it out right fucking now.

"Aya! Hey!" I call after her, hoping she won't try to ignore me. She pauses her steps long enough for me to run after her. "You know, it might help to know where we're going, exactly."

"It's outside the city. That's all that matters." She sighs yet again, "Where outside the city isn't something they need to know."

"..." I sense something else going on here. Something she hasn't told me, either. "And why don't they need to know?"

"I can't trust them if they're not willing to trust us." She pauses, turns around. She looks worried. "Sometimes I wonder if I can trust any humans at all.."

"You can trust me." I'm human, so far as I can tell.

"Well that's different." She laughs, smiling nervously. "They're unknown to me. Strangers. Possibly working with our enemies for all I know."

"...If you think they're working against you, why bother trying to take them along in the first place?" And furthermore, what enemies? Who the hell is fighting who here?

"A number of reasons." She takes a seat, looking to prepare for what could be a long and drawn out conversation. "We need leverage. A few of us--as in, the people from Gensokyo--have been captured by I-don't-know-who for I-don't-know-what-reason and somehow the rest of us need to get them back!"

So they're hostages if they turn out to be enemies, or a few spare sets of hands if they're not. Either way it makes me feel a lot less keen on dragging even one of them along with us. But to think that Aya's thought this far ahead..

A small flash of light just under the rising sun catches my attention for a moment. Lightning? Despite the rain beating down over my head, it seems to be awfully far off. I don't hear even a whisper of the distinct rumbling of thunder.

"So who's been captured so far?" I stick to the important questions.

"I'm not really sure. There's Suika and Satori from our group, but those are the only ones that I know of for certain. As you can probably tell, there's a few of us still out there."

Like how we somehow just stumbled onto Yuugi and Parsee inside the shelter.. "Fair enough. But that really leaves more questions than answers.. How the hell did they manage to catch Suika, anyway?" Satori isn't quite so strong physically, so it's possible that might have been used against her. Suika, on the other hand..

"The humans here have some strange weapons." She shrugs, frowning. "Just when you think that's all they can throw at you, they find a bigger gun. Whatever they used against her.. I honestly doubt anyone else could live through it."

"That's.." Incredible. To think technology has advanced to the point where even humans can trump an Oni by way of sheer power.. "I'm beginning to see your point." And Suwako's side of the previous argument is starting to look much, much brighter.

"I'm sure it'll make more sense to you when you see things for yourself. Some of it is.." She pauses, gawking at something she sees inside her own memory. "I can't even begin to explain the madness of it all. I just wanna get back and report on this shelter under the city."

"If what you say is true, then we should try to stay under the radar for a while. Planes don't just fall out of the sky at random like this, you know. Somebody's gonna come looking. And the first thing they'll look for is somebody like us."

"But more importantly, we should get back to the others." She stands, walking past me in slightly less of a bad mood than what she came over here with. "Come on, don't just stand there!"

I follow her around the corner and back to the downed plane. First thing I notice: the crowd's thinned considerably. People from the shelters seem to have spread about in all directions. Yuugi and the others wait silently by Suwako's group under the wing of the fallen plane.

"Well?" Aya asks, approaching them directly. "Any takers?"

"Not one." Suwako shakes her head. "Seems they think scavenging these planes for spare parts is just a wee bit more important than the safety we've promised them."

"Their problem now, I say." Yuugi interjects. "No sense tryin' ta talk 'em into it."

"I just wanna get out of the rain.." Tenshi groans. "Surface weather suuucks!"

"Nothing wrong with a little rain now and again." Suwako's practically beaming with cheerfulness at this point.

"So who's up for stealing a car, hmm?" One of the masked women in the back brings up something I hadn't quite thought of. Not having seen a car for nearly a year makes it difficult for me to remember that they even exist in the first place. I've got to get out of the Gensokyo mindset before it gets me into a whole heap of trouble.

"Good idea." I say, not being one to stay silent when others decide upon the fate of not only myself but the group as a whole. "Anybody seen any garages on the way in?"

"Well, there was one back about a mile that way.." Suwako points towards the East. "But considering the damage last night's bombing did, who knows if it's still standing.."

[ ] It's worth a try. Head East.
[ ] It's gone by now. Spread out and search the area.
[X] It's worth a try. Head East.

That car was in an indestructible garage.
[x] It's worth a try. Head East.
[ze] It's worth a try. Head East.

And pray it isn't Burning Red.
[ ] It's worth a try. Head East.
[x] It's worth a try. Head East.
[B] It's worth a try. Head East.
[X] It's worth a try. Head East.

If they do find a car, Tenshi can ride on the roof.
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"It's worth a shot. Let's just hope we're lucky." I seem to be the first to voice my opinion. Or at least one of the few who seem to be paying attention... "Yuugi, what's your take on all this?" I ask her specifically in the hopes that it might help her give a damn.

"Eh? Uhh.. What was the question again?" It doesn't seem to be working. She's hardly fazed at all, though her visible nonchalance in the face of a ruined city and about two dozen fallen planes of unknown origin is frightening. I wonder what it takes to get her even somewhat riled up..

"Never mind.." I give up. She's far too out of it to be reliable in.. Probably any situation at all at this point. Combat especially. "We're heading East. If you plan on sticking around, I suggest you pay a little more attention to what's going on.."

"Alright, alright." She snorts, letting out a sort of chuckle under her breath. It's irritating, but I let it pass. "Lead the way, boss."

"I'm the boss!" So sayeth our Lord, Suwako. "Not him!"

"Sure, sure. Doesn't really matter to me." Yuugi laughs the same as before, and I can practically see it burrowing under Suwako's skin.

The small Goddess' face contorts with anger before she storms off towards the sun. "We're leaving!" She yells, "Gather your gear and move out!"

"Sourpuss.." Yuugi sighs, stays seated for a moment longer. She only finally gets to her feet once Parsee starts tugging on her arm.

The group travels in a fairly close group. In the face of an enemy, it's less than ideal. Though among the relative safety of these--as far as I can tell--abandoned remains of skyscrapers, I can let it go unnoticed.

Aya stays close by my side, staying silent as she concentrates on navigating through the mess of rubble. Fairly few words are passed between members of the group, save Tenshi's occasional complaints that her feet hurt and the disgruntled mumbling that Tenshi causes in turn.

It's not long before we reach the car park--a mile isn't far to travel normally, though thanks to the numerous obstacles in our way I'd estimate it took a good hour to walk it. I'll be glad to be out of this city.

For the most part, the garage is intact. The top level has collapsed onto the one below it, but that leaves two tiers below unscathed. Unfortunately, the airport across the way has been bombed to shit, the runway now resembling almost anything but. The tattered remains of an airframe half-buried in a crater stands as a clear giveaway to a keen eye. Nobody else seems to notice it as we head into the garage.

"Huh." Yuugi digs elbow-deep into a pile of loose debris by a cracked concrete support, pulling out what looks to be a small brass cartridge. "Ya know, I've been seein' these things all over the place around here."

"Lemme see that!" Suwako snatches it from her hands, much to everyone's surprise.

"Hmm.. It's definitely from a handgun, but.."

"Lemme guess, you've never seen the likes of it before, right?" Parsee finally speaks up. Her silence since the night before was making me begin to wonder if she'd suddenly gone mute. "That's what they always say in these kinds of situations.."

"No, actually, it's from a .22. Probably a target pistol, but not something a person would go to war with." Though I figure Parsee what trying to crack a joke, Suwako remains humorless. So do the rest of us. Well, it wasn't a very good joke, so who's gonna laugh?

That spurs a thought to mind..

"So you've been in this world for a little while, right?" I ask, "What kind of ammunition would you suppose someone from this place would go to war with?"

"Something like this." Aya lifts up that strange bulky weapon she's been carrying around.

"A mass rail driver." One of the faceless goons behind her says, "The firing mechanism is magnetically driven, so the weapon doesn't require a smokeless powder cartridge."

"..What she said." Aya doesn't seem to like being interrupted. Personally, I find it more awkward that they're all wearing those masks almost constantly. I wonder if..

"Hey," I lean in close to Aya, "You think you could ask her to take the mask off? It's driving me nuts.."

"Yeah, sure." Aya turns to the others, assuming a more authoritative stance. "Alright ladies, masks off!"

..Amazing. They follow the order all at once. Not one of them objects to it. The one who had spoken a moment ago actually seems somewhat relieved to be rid of it.

"He- HEY!" Suwako, of course, is less than thrilled. "Who told you to give that order?!"

"Now, now. We all agreed that I'd be in charge of scouting operations, remember?" Aya smiles and laughs, Begging Suwako to just try and pick a fight.

"Ugh.." Thankfully, she relents.

"Heeeey~!" Yuugi walks up to one of them, "That's a nifty lookin' scar you got there! How'd ya get it?"

"..." The woman remains silent. The number designation reminds me that she's the one Aya and the others had dubbed the group's loose cannon back in the shelter.. Something about her seems awfully familiar, though I can't place it. Maybe it's the eyes. She reminds me almost of a certain Yuuka Kazami.

"You don't wanna know." She finally says, stepping away from the Oni.

"Hey, this one looks good!" Tenshi, now several feet ahead of us, points to a sporty-looking roadster sort of car.

"And how do you expect that dinky little thing to carry us all?" Asks Suwako, now positively indignant.

"Eh..?" Tenshi shows signs of bewilderment.

"What about this?" Says one of Aya's longer-haired crew, standing by a large tank-like vehicle with four sets of wheels on wither side. "I'm a little wary since it's a military transport, but it looks roadworthy."

"Sounds like a safe bet to me." Suwako jumps over to inspect it. "It is armor plated, I assume?"

"Of course, though it takes some skill to drive. That, and the weapons seem to have been stripped from it.." That poor woman, forced to take the brunt of Suwako's tyrannical wrath. "We can salvage fuel from the vehicles we don't intend to use, provided..." She continues explaining, while Aya pulls me and Yuugi up to the next level.

Parsee follows on her own accord fairly close behind, probably wishing not to lose sight of Yuugi. A few more of those military vehicles litter the parking lot on this level--most in pieces. Shot apart, by the looks of the damage. One mostly shielded by the others only has a few small pockmarks drilled into the side panels.

"It sorta reminds me of the German half-track.." I say, trying to liken it to something I recognize. "But... I can't see where the people would sit."

"They sit inside it, fully protected." It would seem the long-haired woman and Suwako followed up up with the others. She smiles at me, "Think you could handle it?"


[ ] No. I've never seen the likes of this before, let alone driven one.
[ ] Yes. It might take some doing, but I'll get the hang of it.
[ ] Yes. It might take some doing, but I'll get the hang of it.
[X] Yes. It might take some doing, but I'll get the hang of it.
[X] Yes. It might take some doing, but I'll get the hang of it.
[X] Yes. It might take some doing, but I'll get the hang of it.
[X] Yes. It might take some doing, but I'll get the hang of it.

Just like riding a bike.
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I smile, "Never know until I try."

"Good," She replies, "We'll take two vehicles, then. It'll take a bit of time to salvage fuel and parts from the others, so I suggest you find somewhere hidden and take a breather." She turns to the others, "That goes for the rest of you! Find something to keep you busy. I don't care what, but make sure you do it out of sight. If we're attacked in the meantime, I'd rather we make it appear as though we're few in number."

An interesting idea.. Make it appear as though there's less people in the group than there really are. Make an enemy underestimate our strength. I can play along with that.

She takes two of her squad-mates and puts them to work tearing down the vehicles. I watch Yuugi as she forces them to accept her help as well. At least I know it won't take so much time, now.

I take who remains--Parsee, Tenshi, Aya, and Suwako and the two remaining squad members--and load into the back of the armored truck I figure I'll end up driving later.

We each take a seat. Thankfully, there's enough room for the lot of us.

"Huh, roomy in here." Aya laughs dryly, sitting beside me. "Gotta love the smell.."

"I don't smell anything.." I say, sniffing the air. Maybe it's that hot car smell she's talking about, or maybe she's just got a sharper sense of smell than me.

"Close the door already.." Suwako groans, directing one of her lackeys to slam it shut.

"Is it too much to ask for air conditioning?" Says an as-of-yet unnamed girl from Aya's gang sitting next to the door--a fairly slender girl, far younger than the others. She seems to be about the same age as Sanae. Maybe twenty, at the oldest. "This heat is--"

"Quit your bellyaching Tess. It's annoying." The other woman grumbles. "Why don't you go help out the other two if it bothers you so much?"

At least I'm picking up on a few names, now. They all seem to open up a bit outside of the public eye, but that's only one out of the total five.

"Both of you, shut it." Suwako barks, trying to sound authoritative though ultimately failing in her efforts. To me, she sounds just like another troublesome child. No doubt, her small stature plays into my thinking.

"But Milly won't--" Suwako shoots the younger one a look that could freeze ice. The room falls silent. So quiet that I can hear Yuugi tearing metal apart outside even through the armored vehicle walls.

"..Why did I even bother waking up today?" Parsee breathes a heavy sigh, breaking the pervading silence. "So tell me, is there anybody here who has even the slightest inkling of why the hell we're here?"

"Yeah, we'd like to know that one, too." Aya smirks, "It's not an everyday occasion that Gensokyo drops its inhabitants off somewhere and vanishes without a trace.. Heh, I'm willing to bet that Reimu's huffing mad right now."

"If she's even here or aware of this at all." I say, "Parsee aside, the only people I've seen here were all present at that party up on Kanako's mountain. And the five-week gap between our appearances doesn't make a lick of sense.."


"What about that dark place? Is it just me who hasn't forgotten about it?" Tenshi asks.

"I remember, Tenshi." I say, "Though it was probably just coincidental that the two of us wound up there and not someplace else."

"And that thing we woke up?"

"As I recall, you woke it up. I just happened to catch the ass-end of it's bad mood."

"I woke it up?!" Tenshi yells indignantly, jabbing a finger into my shoulder. "What proof do you have of this?!"

"ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?!" Parsee yells, and suddenly everyone's attention turns to her. Silence yet again fills the cab. Once she's satisfied that people are listening.. "Thank you! God! What I was trying to say, was that I was there too."

My ears perk up. This is new to me--to all of us, I'd assume.

"I was wondering where everybody had gotten off to that night, so I followed Koishi up to the shrine on the mountain. Everyone seemed so lively, but.."

"Question, then." Aya butts in, as usual a journalist with no courtesy to let others finish speaking, "Did you happen to see who or what left that body by the main gate?"

"No, but.."

"Hmm.. I think it all started happening around then. I remember looking at it over Snake's shoulder, and poof!" She makes an exploding gesture with her hands, "No more Gensokyo."

"Um, pardon me for asking, but.." The woman named Milly raises a hand, "What exactly are you talking about?"

"It doesn't concern you." Suwako tries to force her back out of the conversation.

"I think it concerns all of us," Says Tenshi in an unlikely noble gesture, "Like it or not they're involved, too."

I'm sensing a bit of a role reversal here. Suddenly, Tenshi is a noble white knight, and Suwako is the big bad bitch of the group. Is it just me, or does this all seem really fucked up? Aya seems to have caught the disbelief on my face and places a hand on my shoulder.

Suwako and Tenshi lock eyes for a moment, but before one can utter a word to the other, the back door slams open.

"Heya guys," Yuugi leans in, covered in grease and smiling brightly. "Uhh, cappie told me she needs to borrow a Tessa, whatever that is. You guys know?"

"Err, that's me." The girl by the door says as she stands, humorously hitting her head on the roof of the cab before stepping out. I can see her rubbing the lump as Yuugi closes the door again.

"..Useless.." Says Milly, cursing under her breath.

"Will you two ever stop bickering?" Aya groans.

"When one of us is dead, Ma'am." Milly replies rather thoughtfully. Aya isn't amused in the least.

[ ] How much longer is this going to take?
[ ] Wait it out, see what you can learn from the others.
[ ] Wait it out, see what you can learn from the others.
[X] How much longer is this going to take?
[X] Wait it out, see what you can learn from the others.

Exposition! Huzzah!
[X] Wait it out, see what you can learn from the others.
[X] Wait it out, see what you can learn from the others.
[ze] Wait it out, see what you can learn from the others.

I sympathize with Parsee so very very hard.
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The mind-numbing banging and hitting of metal against metal continues outside. And I for one am not about to jump into the middle of it. I make an effort to sit back inside the cab and try not to look bothered by the bickering of the others.

Though I can safely say I'm learning a few things overhearing the women's conversation. The war, apparently, started a number of years prior to today, though the exact cause of it is open to speculation. Milly seems to think it happened over some energy crisis, though she clearly states that this is merely a theory of her's.

"Unfortunately," She says, "The true cause is an unknown factor, though the fighting rages on without much human participation. Underground structures like the ones we'd found yesterday are relatively commonplace--possibly the only safe haven humans have left."

Aya leans back, yawning. I'm willing to bet she's heard this already a number of times before.

"I've heard rumors of a shelter being built on a far larger scale than this, but I've yet to see it with my own eyes." Milly continues, "Apparently, Joy--er, the Captain was born there. I'd rather not ask her what horrible sort of circumstances put her on the ass-end of the world with the rest of us."

"And the city?" I ask, "Who's destroying it?"

"Dunno for sure. Buncha guys in planes is all I know. They're probably what's left of some country's military force trying to take what they can get. Nothing to do with what we're after, I can say for certain."

"Not yet, at least. You can't know that for certain." Aya interrupts, correcting her.

"Just a feeling, Ma'am." Milly straightens up, an ingrained response to authority likely as far drilled into her as it is into myself. "Get 'em all the time. Usually right on the money."

"Relax already.. I'm not angry or anything.." Aya sighs, "Besides, it's not like anything bad's gonna happen to us while we're hidden.

"Usually," Parsee says meekly, "When somebody says something to that effect, something terrible happens a moment later."

"This isn't the movies, ya know." Milly laughs, "'Sides, we got some of the best guns money can buy. Just in case."

"And normally," Parsee adds, "When someone talks like that, the guns never do them any good.."

"You're just jealous you don't get one, is all." Milly laughs even harder.

"I am." Parsee smirks.

"You want one?"

"What good would it do me? To have one of those things.."

"You're jealous you don't have one, but you don't want one?" Milly shrugs, "Weird girl.."

"I'm booooored" Says a most assuredly bored Tenshi, voicing what could only be seen as her insufferable boredom.

"Join the club." Aya says, pretty much dismissing her from the conversation.

"But I'm booooooooooored!"

"Yeah, we heard." Suwako says, too preoccupied fiddling with a piece of her weapon to care.

"Look," I say, hoping I might have more luck at quieting her down. "We're all bored. This'll all be over soon and we'll be outta here in no time."

"Then I want to sit up front!" Tenshi crosses her arms as she begins to pout.

[ ] "Fine, you can sit up front."
[ ] "That seat's reserved for Aya."
[x] "That seat's reserved for Aya."
[x] "That seat's reserved for Aya."
[X] "Fine, you can sit up front."
[X] "Good choice, really. That way you'll have an excellent view of things when shit starts blowing up again. Or if something starts shooting at us again. Or if anything starts trying to kill us at all, really."
[X] "Fine, you can sit up front."
[X] "Good choice, really. That way you'll have an excellent view of things when shit starts blowing up again. Or if something starts shooting at us again. Or if anything starts trying to kill us at all, really."
lets scare tenshi a bit
[x] "That seat's reserved for Aya."
[X] "Fine, you can sit up front."

Spoiled brat moe~
[x] "That seat's reserved for Aya."
[X] "Fine, you can sit up front."
[X] "Good choice, really. That way you'll have an excellent view of things when shit starts blowing up again. Or if something starts shooting at us again. Or if anything starts trying to kill us at all, really."
[ℤ] "Fine, you can sit up front."
[ℯ] "Good choice, really. That way you'll have an excellent view of things when shit starts blowing up again. Or if something starts shooting at us again. Or if anything starts trying to kill us at all, really."

I can't express how stupid you are in words.

Tenshi route
[X] "Fine, you can sit up front."
[X] "Good choice, really. That way you'll have an excellent view of things when shit starts blowing up again. Or if something starts shooting at us again. Or if anything starts trying to kill us at all, really."

Are you an idiot? We're already with Aya.

Not yet.

...So you are a moron then. That's cool.
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"Fine, you can sit up front." She'll just complain the whole way if I don't let her. Aya frowns, probably because she wanted that seat as well. Sorry, but we all have to take one for the team sometimes.

I work my way up to the driver's seat to have a look-see at what I'm getting myself into. The essentials are all there--gas, brake, and what passes for a steering wheel, but..

"Hey, uh.." I pause, taking a second look to make sure I won't look like an idiot for saying anything, "The hatch is missing."

"Probably got shot off'r something." Milly says, stretching her arms out. "These things're older than dirt."

"Ah. Err, I see.." I won't question exactly how old. The sheer number of dents and scratches riddled all over the cockpit puts it way over the 20 year mark. I have a seat, trying to familiarize myself with the most important controls for basic movement. The ignition doesn't take long to figure out, and the gear shifter is a cinch as well. For the most part, it's hardly different than the average automobile.

It doesn't look like it'll be difficult to maneuver the thing out of this garage, thanks to Yuugi and the others having cleared the way of most of the other vehicles. The larger ones are gone, but a few smaller, clearly civilian models remain in their places.

"Ah, speak of the devil.." Here she comes right now! I see Yuugi walking in front of the vehicle. But before I can say anything, Tenshi rams my face into the dash to get over me.

"Hey!" She yells, "Are you done yet?!"

"Ge- Get-!" I grab Tenshi by the neck and shove her back into her seat. "Get offa me, dammit!"

She crosses her arms, staring at me with an indignant rage. Silently, she simmers in it. Silently being the key word; I just ignore her. I'm not angry, at least so long as I don't think she did that just to spite me.

"Almost the~re!" Yells Yuugi, as cheerful as ever. I wonder if she's the type who's only in a good mood when she's got something heavy to lift. I'll never understand women who like to lift weights.. "Go ahead 'n start 'er up!"

That's what I was waiting for! My cue to press the ignition switch! I laugh with a devilish delight as the vehicle roars to life, the smell of diesel already flooding my senses. I wait for Yuugi's cues as she tries to guide me out to the other vehicle on the lower level.

It steers like a bus, but feels as powerful as a souped-up roadster. Finally being able to drive something after so long really gets the juices going. I'd like nothing better than to run thing thing around town a few times, but considering our likely extremely limited fuel reserves, I'd better not.

I make it to the next level down with only a few more bumps and scratches added to this already beat-to-hell old truck. Thanks to me, one motorcycle will never roam the streets again--all four tires on one side crushed it right through the middle, and I nearly clip an old rusted sedan in half.

"You really suck at this." Tenshi says, looking over my shoulder like a pissed-off monster from some God-awful nightmare. I hope and pray she doesn't discover the invention of back-seat driving. That's one nightmare we can all do without.

"Yeah, thanks. I really needed to hear that.." I stop just behind the vehicle the others are working on. The most noticeable difference between mine and theirs is the presence of a hatch and one hell of a gun mounted just over the cockpit. It looks like a .50 cal, but I can't be sure from here. The one thing that comes to mind is easy to put to words.

"Hey!" I call out to the others, laughing inwardly. "Why can't I have the one with the big gun?!"

Yuugi leans over the front bumper, grinning at me as if I'd asked the most ludicrous sort of thing imaginable. "You really wanna give Tenshi, of all people, a gun?"

"Er.." Didn't think of it like that. One cannot drive and work a machine gun at once, I suppose. I'd better not answer that in any case. Not with Tenshi staring angrily over my shoulder. Yuugi knows my answer, but I'm left wondering if there's ever a moment when Tenshi is not angry..

"Alright, that should do it!" The long-haired woman rounds up the others scurrying about the second vehicle. She sends one of them over my way, having her pull Milly from the back and shoving Yuugi in her place next to Parsee. Looks like they want all their squad in the same vehicle. Makes me wonder why they didn't try to take Aya and Suwako as well.. Maybe there just isn't enough room?

"So we can go now?!" Tenshi nudges my shoulder with excitement, albeit of a somewhat frustrated sort once she realizes there aren't any windows near her seat. "Let's go already!!"

Everyone goes still for a moment, waiting for a sign of movement that never comes. The vehicle in front roars to life but stays put. The girl names Tessa opens one of the rear hatches a moment later.

"We've got a bum radio in this one!" She says, yelling over the roaring diesel engines of both vehicles. "You'll just have to follow us!"

I give her the thumbs-up, and the vehicle pushes forward as she closes the hatch.

Thankfully, the rain seems to have stopped. I was a little worried for a moment that not having a hatch would result in my getting utterly drenched for a second time before we even get underway. I'm thankful, as I was just beginning to dry out. The clouds still loom overhead, enveloping the world below in an ominous darkness.

I follow them down a series of roads for a good number of miles. After the initial hour, Tenshi's utter excitement begins to fade. The novelty of riding around in a half tank, half car hybrid begins to wear away into the usual tedium of long-distance driving. I can faintly hear the others starting up some sort of word game behind me, though listening to it only makes everything seem just so much more boring..

All of a sudden, the forward vehicle screeches to a halt. The gun mounted on it's top begins to rotate forward. I have to stop and turn just to avoid hitting them, cutting short the game of tedium taking place behind me.

"What's going on? Why've we stopped?" Asks Aya, suddenly frantic with worry.

"No idea.." I try to follow the barrel of the gun, to see what exactly it's pointing at.

An explosive crack. The deep thumping of heavy-caliber gunfire drowns out everything around us. I'm forced to cover my ears, despite my familiarity with gunfire. This one's just too damn loud! Tracer rounds fly over into a small group of trees just before the horizon. But what's the point of giving away our position when we can't even see what the target is?

I lean back inside the vehicle, grabbing Aya by the wrist and pulling her up over me. If her eyesight is still as good as it's proven to be, she should be able to spot what they're shooting at.

She leans out in front of me, hands over her ears as the gun of the forward car continues to fire of into the distance.

But I'm forced to pull her back inside as a brilliant flash of white light tears the road asunder. The explosion is silent, but the ensuing shockwave pushes our vehicle onto it's side.


I tumble out of my seat, landing hard on my ribs.


An intense wave of heat--feels like the skin's melting right off my face. I cover my eyes, try to turn my back to it. The bottom of the vehicle shields us from the worst of the blast.

Silence. The gun on the other car stops firing.

I immediately check back to ensure the others are okay. A youkai's stamina proves yet again to be that of nigh invincibility. They're shaken up, but uninjured.

[ ] ?
[X] Get out and use the vehicle as cover
[X] Try to spot who attacked the lead vehicle

If the blast hit us, it should have hit them.
>>Swerve around the ruined vehicle and drive at top speed in the direction the tracer fire was going.

One little problem with that, Anon:
>>But I'm forced to pull her back inside as a brilliant flash of white light tears the road asunder. The explosion is silent, but the ensuing shockwave pushes our vehicle onto it's side.

Well, shit.

[x] Scramble
[X] Get out and use the vehicle as cover
[X] Verify the status of the other vehicle and occupants
[X] Get out and use the vehicle as cover.
[X] Verify the status of the other vehicle and occupants.

[X] Get out and use the vehicle as cover.
[X] Verify the status of the other vehicle and occupants.

So it wasn't a penetrating hit and we didn't explode. Things could be worse.
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But what about the others? The women in the first car? I need to make sure they're safe before--

Another wave of blindingly intense heat, the vehicle shakes like it's being torn apart. Creaking metal mixed with the roaring of flames. Has the fuel caught fire?! I need to get everyone out of here!

Once they're safely through outside I rush through the open hatch in the back. Another blast hits the vehicle as I stand halfway outside, and the cab erupts into a ball of flame as the hit tears through the bottom chassis.

A blast of cool air, like pulling myself out of a furnace. My eyes turn to the trees in the distance as Aya pulls me behind the vehicle.

Yuugi makes a mad dash for the other car, tearing the mounted gun from it's hinges. The heavy thumping of it's fire starts--

Yuugi takes a direct hit. A shriek of horror as a ball of smoke and fire erupts in front of the Oni. The weapon melts on impact, but the damage it does to Yuugi seems superficial overall. She manages to stagger back to us, clothing still burning to cinders on her back when she reaches safety behind cover.

"Aw, hell!" She falls forward, twisting to land on her back. She props herself up against our destroyed vehicle, laughing between spurts of coughing. "Got me good--! Knocked the wind right outta me.."

Parsee throws a shirt over Yuugi, keeping her otherwise naked friend covered.

"Can you stand?" Parsee murmurs apprehensively, unsure how to handle the situation. "Are you alright..?"

"Just a scratch, love." Yuugi replies, turning to me. "Yo, Snakes. Looks like whatever's shootin' at us is moving in fer the kill!"

"What about the others?!" Aya pushes me aside, scared for the lives of her comrades. "Are they okay?!"

"You saw that blast!" Suwako pulls her back away. "There's no way--!"

"What's shooting at us?!" Yells Tenshi amidst the chaos, her voice nearly drowned out by the fire raging on the other side of the vehicle.

"I'm going over there!" Aya jumps away, ripping her body from Suwako's grip and running full-tilt towards what remains of the other vehicle.

"A-- Aya!" I call after her, though it's too late.

Another explosion, barely dodged. I watch, terrified as she lifts open the hatch and disappears inside the other vehicle. I can't sit around like this! Not when she's putting herself out in the open like that!

[ ] Run over, help her.
[ ] Try to distract the shooters.
[ ] Stay put, wait.
[ ] Run over, help her.
[x] Try to distract the shooters.
[x] Try to distract the shooters.
[X] Try to distract the shooters.

This seems like a pretty bad idea.

Lets see what happens.
[X] Run over, help her.
[ℤℯ] Try to distract the shooters.

Definitely not a good idea.
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My choices are limited. Anything I do save cowering behind this vehicle is going to put me well into harm's way. But at least I can draw the danger away from her.

Yuugi grabs my arm before I jump out, "Hey," She coughs, "Whatever ya do, don't get hit."

"..I'll try." She doesn't have to tell me twice! If I stay alive for even another ten minutes, that should buy enough time for the others to regroup. Peeking around the vehicle, there's a small ditch on the far side of the road. If I could just make it to that.. But it's risky. There's no cover from here to there.

I'll have to be quick.

I make a dash for it, drawing the only pistol I have and hoping I might be able to get close enough to take a shot.

Gunfire whistles past my head, but I keep moving. I feel the heat from an explosion behind me as I make a running dive.

The ditch is shallower than it looked. Damn, must've been a trick of the light! I curse my bum luck as I press myself as close to the ground as possible. In all fairness I'm completely out of their sight, but not out of their range. A lucky shot is all it'll take to send me on a one-way trip to Hell.

I crawl forward into a patch of tall grasses about ten feet to the left. Here, I have enough room to lift my head up. I thumb the safety on the pistol in my hand. Heavier than I'm used to. I don't like the action. Should've taken more time to familiarize myself with it before. It's barrel-heavy, and I won't have time to correct my aim.

I see nothing up ahead. No enemy, no signs of what was doing the shooting. Aya, for all I know, is still inside the other vehicle. Gotta keep 'em from shooting at it. Wish I had a grenade or two.

Another blast impacts our fallen vehicle, tears it right in half, exposing Tenshi for a moment before someone pulls her away. Seemed to come out of thin air. A faint whine is carried to me by the wind. The crackling of electricity. Maybe not. Definitely similar.


I hear voices. Not entirely human. The grass in front of me flattens under an invisible pressure. I react--pistol firing several rounds in quick succession. The bullets impact thin air, sparking and ricocheting as if hitting solid metal.


A whine, crackling electricity.

I move, sprinting wildly as the ground I stood upon explodes.

No telling how many there are, or what they are. I try danmaku.

Nothing. Doesn't seem to work here. The pistol is my best bet. I fire. Again and again, seemingly to no effect. The bullets that do connect with a solid target are deflected.

Another explosion, right in front of me. A shower of mechanical parts and hydraulic fluid. A crackling electricity as the thing in front of me blows apart.

A shot whizzes past my face. Coming from the downed car! It's Suwako!

Her rifle provides enough stopping power to tear these things apart, but they've already stepped onto the road.

Damn! I gave them too much ground! Didn't but enough time! Is Aya out yet?!

"Get outta the way, dammit!" Suwako yells, making a sweeping motion with her free arm. I jump back as she fires, blowing yet another one of these things sky-high. Chunks of steel and reddish fluid litter the broken pavement.

A third is destroyed, though not by Suwako's rifle. A shot from above rings out, an intense heat equal to the previous blasts decimating the immediate area around the monstrous machine.

They're shooting themselves?!

A laughing coming from above tells me otherwise.

"Ohoho! These ones burn up nice, too!" Yells the attacker, "You guys need a-- Oh?"

A blur of black and green as the ground mere feet ahead of me splinters apart. A woman lands on a fourth of these monstrosities, flattening it below a mighty concrete foot. She grabs my shoulders, shaking me.

"I know you!" She says enthusiastically, "You were there!"

"Uhh.." True, I do recognize her as one of Satori's pets, but the enthusiasm seems misplaced given the situation.

"Have you seen Satori?! I'm looking for her! Have you seen her?" She continues to shake me by the shoulders with increasing vigor.

"Sorry kid," Yuugi leans over the fallen vehicle, wearing Parsee's jacket around her like a cape. "Just us."

I try to shake the smiling bird-brain from my shoulders, but she doesn't want to let go. I need to find Aya! I can't waste any more time if the attacking force is defeated!

I rush over to the other vehicle, dragging Utsuho along with me since she's so adamant about holding on. I swing the vehicle's rear door open..

Aya, thankfully, is unhurt. Almost her entire squad has taken injuries in varying degrees of severity. One of them is unconscious, probably going to have to be carried out.. The remaining four are either patched up or are in the process of doing so. Their 'captain', Joy, seems to be the least injured of the bunch, though probably the more shaken up than the rest. She tries to maintain her composure as she helps me get the others out of the vehicle.

"Yo-you're alive!" Tessa says with disbelief.

"Is that bad?" I ask.

"Ugh, I can't believe they'd equip their foot soldiers with nukes.." Milly groans, nursing a broken arm. She grins at me, wincing as I help her out of the vehicle. I can tell she's trying not to look back.

"Nukes?" Utsuho folds her arms, shaking her head, "So that's what they've been firing at me all this time.."

"'All this time'..?" Aya slams the door shut, leaving the fifth member inside. They don't seem to be showing her a whole lot of concern, despite her condition..

"She gonna be okay?" I ask, making a gesture to the woman left inside.

"Got caught with her head sticking out when the first blast hit. Knocked her right out." The short-haired violent-looking one replies rather disdainfully, "She'll live. Hopefully she'll learn from it."

"Hopefully," Joy adds, suddenly angered, "She'll obey orders and hold her god-damned fire next time. I'll have to remove her from the scouting detail once we return."

Milly's eyes veer off to the broken vehicle, then straight back to me. "Frankly, with the direct hit you guys took, it's a miracle none of you weren't turned into radioactive goo."

[ ] "If you talk like that, you'll start giving Utsuho ideas."
[ ] "For now, let's see what we can salvage."
[ ] "Less talky, more walky. Those things will be back."
[X] "For now, let's see what we can salvage."
[X] "If you talk like that, you'll start giving Utsuho ideas."
[X] "For now, let's see what we can salvage."

Fuck yeah, now we're cooking with plutonium!

The X-49 Nuke Raven: For when you absolutely, positively have to kill every motherfucker in a three mile radius, accept no substitutes.
[X] "For now, let's see what we can salvage."
[X] "For now, let's see what we can salvage."
[x] "For now, let's see what we can salvage."
Computer is up and running (mostly). Had an issue with the video card initally, but that's since been rectified. I've nearly finished moving all of my old data over to the new PC, so expect updates very, very soon-ish.
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“Yeah, I’m a little surprised, too.” I shrug, wondering if these women know anything about youkai at all. I’ll keep quiet until I find out.

“But we really need to get moving as soon as possible,” I take another look at the vehicle I was driving only a few minutes ago. “Let’s see if we can’t get at least one of these vehicles working.” An overcrowded ride is far better than having to hoof it the rest of the way.

So I choose the best man—er, woman, for the job. I call Yuugi over and direct her to help the girls with the heavy lifting. In their condition, it’s not safe to have them do all the work themselves. Yuugi got lucky—she’s only minus a few articles of clothing. Sadly, nobody from Gensokyo—myself included—has ever even seen a vehicle like this, let alone knows how to fix one.

They organize themselves quickly, pulling scraps from the one overturned wreck and using what’s left of it to patch up the one vehicle still standing. Milly, with a bit of help from Yuugi, has a stroke of genius and mounts a gun from one of those blown-apart machines where the mounted machine gun was torn off earlier. It seems well-deserved that Yuugi would be the one to replace it.

The weapon itself seems alien. At least when compared to the relatively conservative design of the vehicle. It’s relatively skeletal design offers little protection for the weapon itself, and the mass of dangling wires below the barrel seems more hazardous than anything. But I’m assured by Milly that it’ll work, though she does let slip a small comment about the sloppiness of Yuugi’s overall handiwork. Anything’s better than nothing at this point.

After a while, I end up being pushed into the sidelines with the others. Most of us sit around the burnt-out husk, trying to keep somewhat out of sight in case something else happens. Aya takes a seat beside me after having interrogated Utsuho for what seems like a few hours. Of course, it just so happens that Utsuho had forgotten most of what has happened to her in the past few days. What she does know can be summed up as such: she’s here, we’re the first familiar faces she’s seen since she got here, it hasn’t been long since she showed up in this place, Satori’s missing, and that these machines we were just fighting have an aversion to being blown apart. It really isn’t much to go on, but at least we know why Satori has gone missing.

After about an hour of sitting around and chatting, reminiscing, and generally keeping to the unproductive nature that most youkai exhibit, I start to get bored and go take a look at what’s left of the things that were shooting at us.

Upon inspection, it’s fairly clear that what’s left of them has been picked apart by the girls fixing the other vehicle. Without really thinking about it, I take a walk over and check up on them. They’ve made a great deal of progress piecing things back together, but for some reason can’t get the engine to turn over.

“We think it’s a problem in the electrical system,” Says Joy, “I have Tessa running through it to see if we’ve missed anything.”

“Hey, I got an idea,” Milly walks over, thrusting some bit of metal into my hands, “Why don’t you guys get up off your asses and help?”

I take what she gives me, eager to do something besides sitting around twiddling my thumbs, though the rest of the group seems a bit skeptical that I’ll be able to do much of anything. Considering how much I know about this particular vehicle, they’re probably right..

[ ] Write-in only.
There's probably only one person who knows anything about cars who visits this entire site. Maybe two.

Sorta hoping I'm wrong.
Off the front page already? Oh wow~
[X] Assist however possible, follow any and all instructions, don't break anything.
[x] Try to start the vehicle. If the engine tries to turnover but can't ...
-[x] Check the fuel injectors and clear them if they're clogged.
[x] If nothing, scavenge the battery from another vehicle or find jumper cables.

My knowledge on this matter is severely limited. But hey, it's better than nothing right?
That's more like it!

[~] Try to start the vehicle. If the engine tries to turnover but can't ...
-[ℤ] Check the fuel injectors and clear them if they're clogged.
[ℯ] If nothing, scavenge the battery from another vehicle or find jumper cables.

His knowledge of cars is about 60 years old, but some parts don't change, right? He can't be entirely clueless.

Leaving aside that the write-in talks about newer technology than that, I think, but I don't really know. Blind-but-with-really-good-hearing leading the blind, I suppose.
[x] Try to start the vehicle. If the engine tries to turnover but can't ...
-[x] Check the fuel injectors and clear them if they're clogged.
[x] If nothing, scavenge the battery from another vehicle or find jumper cables.
>>If nothing, scavenge the battery from another vehicle or find jumper cables.

Won't that be kind of hard to do if there isn't another vehicle? Well, besides the one that has already been scavenged for anything that wasn't destroyed when it got fucking nuked, that is.
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… Well, the other bunch is likely to be as useful as tits on a bull. Sadly, I’m unlikely to amount to much more. The hunk of junk in my hands looks to be a cylinder head, leading me to believe they’ve totally stripped the thing bare. I walk around to the other side of the vehicle, and seeing the sheer number of parts lying about across the tarmac proves my suspicions to be true. Nearly every serviceable part that can be accessed without heavy machinery has been pulled from the engine block. Including the engine block itself, thanks to Yuugi’s immense physical strength.

“How’s it looking on your end?” Tessa snaps her fingers at Milly, keeping her head buried deep inside the engine access compartment.

“Can’t see anything wrong with it. Maybe there’s an obstruction in the fuel lines?”

“We checked that already.. Are you sure you know what you’re talking about? Didn’t you say you were some kind of mechanic or something?”

“Yeah, for F.E.G.’s, sure. You probably know more than me with this old POS.”

“Anything I can do to help?” I ask, raising the rounded bit of steel and hoping somebody might take it off my hands. I don’t mind the grease, but I’ll be damned if I know what to do with it so long as Tessa had her head jammed that far down the thing’s throat.

“Yeah. See if you can’t get underneath it and check the fuel lines.”

“We checked that, already!” Tessa repeats with growing frustration. “Can’t we at least get this back in one piece first?”

“Yeah, sure.” Milly throws her arms up, trying to keep her outburst silent so she doesn’t give Tessa a reason to start yelling. The whole crew seems about ready to blow. “Here’s a wrench. Have at it.”

“Thanks..” Tessa takes it without so much as looking. “Hey, anybody wanna hand me the belt?”

“Which one?”

“How about the one I’m gonna strangle you with if you keep asking stupid-ass questions?”

… I take a step back, hoping Tessa won’t make good on her threats to possibly murder her other squad mate. The entire duration I seem to be stuck finding parts while they argue amongst themselves. About ten minutes into the ordeal, their fifth member finally wakes up, only for the rest to let her have it for drawing attention to us in the first place. She apologizes profusely, but despite that Milly and Tessa seem awfully intent on laying into her. The entire time Joy keeps messing with the engine, and the other still nameless member makes an attempt to help out. Funny, I thought she was the violent one.

They reorganize after a couple of minutes, returning to work on the vehicle in full force. Every so often I hear a bit of jovial laughter coming from Aya and the others, and I truly, honestly wish I was over there and not over here listening to these women argue over what goes where or who fucked up what.

An hour later, just as it starts getting dark, they manage to get it to the point where the engine’ll crank. Still, it refuses to turn over, and nobody seems to be able to figure out what the problem is. They check the fuel system for what feels like the twentieth time before deciding to turn in for the night.

“Well, we can’t really work in the dark,” Joy tries to explain to Aya et al, “Not without some manner of lighting.”

“Would fire work?” Yuugi asks, kicking Tenshi up to the front. “’Cuz this kid’s got a sword made of it.”

“It is not made of fire!” Tenshi argues, though the heads have already been turned and the brows already raised.

“…Anyway, we should camp out here and resume our efforts tomorrow at dawn.” Joy tries to consciously ignore the improbably thing Yuugi just blurted out in her usual half-assed manner. “I suggest you all spread out and find cover, just in case more of those things show up.”

“Hey, hey!” Utsuho perks up, “You said you need light, right?”

“…She’s a bit of a slow one, ain’t she?” Milly says just barely at an audible level.

“Yes, we need light.” Tessa sighs, on the same wavelength as Milly… And probably the rest of us as well. Utsuho isn’t really the sharpest tool in the shed, but she does have her uses.

Especially when it comes to making artificial sunlight… And suns, whichever the situation may call for. She’d probably do wonders as a demi-human welding torch, as well. The light she produces from the tip of her finger is near blinding in the orange-hued dusk. As does her finger light up, so do the eyes of Joy and her crew. Had I not been used to this senselessness already, I’m sure I’d be wearing their expression as well.

They immediately return to work, putting the bird-brained Utsuho to work wherever they find her help necessary. Everyone else, well… They just go back to sitting around talking about how they all really, really wish they had some booze right about now.

[ ] Write-in only
[X] "Anyone have cards?"

Not sure what to do.
[X] Find a quiet spot to sit down, curl up, and weep at your utter uselessness in this situation

[X] Engage in idle banter where a seemingly insignificant remark triggers an epiphany about what the real problem with the truck is and how to fix it

[X] "Anyone have cards?"
[X] "Anyone have cards?"

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