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42886
Previous thread: https://www.touhou-project.com/shrine/res/38956.html

It's been a while, but I'm back with a sequel to the Hakurei Apprentice. Enjoy!
_________________________________________________________________

Leaves blow in the cool wind. The red blends with the yellow, sticking to the grooves and cracks of the stone pathway leading to the shrine. A familiar sight each and every autumn morning. It was as much of a part of my routine as making breakfast and doing laundry. It’s what my Master often called ‘shrine maiden training’ when it was just daily chores. I’ve done this so many times, it’s as if the days bled into months bled into years.

It seemed like only yesterday that Yukari brought me across the barrier into the Hakurei Shrine. Despite my life in the outside world, I’d like to say that, overall, coming here was an improvement. I’ve been able to form relationships with people that I would have never dreamed of meeting. Well, people being the operative word, but… they’re still ‘people’ all the same. Thoughts, feelings, hardships, desires.

Humans, youkai, gods, fairies, spirits -- all of them are different, but they can still exist in the cut-off world of Gensokyo. Despite their eccentric personalities, I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Master hasn’t let up in the years that I’ve been here, always being hard, always expecting more out of me than she was going to get. I know that should be encouraging, but I’m just not as gifted as she is. Tapping into her innate powers as the Hakurei shrine maiden seems as easy as breathing for her. For me, it’s a struggle -- considering I’m still having a hard time grasping the basics even after four years.

I struggle with the thought that Reimu might not be a good teacher. I’m still not entirely sure myself, but the fact remains that I live here, that she’s helped me, and that because of her, I’ve found a place to belong. There are moments where Master’s intuition and guidance are something to be admired, truly. I wish that I--

Crack.

A wooden box smashes into the ground at my feet. It splinters from the drop, pushing the four corners outward. “Look what I found, Miss Yume!” the perp stands there with a wistful smile.

“K-komano!” I gasp for breath, nearly dropping the broom. “D-don’t scare me like that. Please.”

“Sorry,” she points at the box. “But look! They’re pretty, right?”

“What’s pretty?” I struggle to keep my composure, bending down to inspect the contents of the box. “Master might get mad if you break something.”

“Kyuun! Kyuun!”

“What?” I blink. “Did you make that noise?” I gaze at Komano.

“Noooo, that’s not me.”

“Kyuun! Kyuun!” the shambling mound of trash begins to levitate. The dusty tarp, the broken glass shards, they all fell off of the floating mass. Revealing a…

Is that a missile?

It’s a missile.

With a smiley face… painted on? Is it painted? It’s making noise. Is it sentient? This is Gensokyo, so that’s not out of the ordinary, but… why was this in Master’s shed?

“K-komano, where did you find this?”

“Hmm?” she tilts her head as her ears flick. “The basement of the shed. You wanted me to clean that out, remember?”

“Yeah, but… why was this in there?”

“I dunno, it was right next to this weird metal girl. She wouldn’t talk to me, so I just took the hint.”

Took the hint? What is she talking about? “What?” I blink, staring at the floating, red-nosed missile.

“Kyuun!”

“Komano, keep an eye on our… friend here,” I place a hand on my forehead as I make my way past the box and into the shed. I leap over the deck and open the door.

We haven’t cleaned this thing out in a long time. Last time it was me by myself, so I didn’t make much progress. Master often said that cleaning it was a ‘waste of time because we don’t use it’. I eventually pressed her enough to let me have another go at it. Komano and I made some progress these past few days, moving enough outside so we could get into the basement.

I place a hand over my nose and mouth as I press on into the dark, dusty room. Boxes are stacked nice and compact, layered one over the other. I maneuver through the wooden labyrinth until I get to the staircase leading down into the basement.

“Where is that thing…?” I reach behind me onto the shelf nearby. If I remember right, Rinnosuke lent us a…

“Flashlight!” I yell in triumph to no one. Feeling a little embarrassed, I press on with the light in hand.

Komano and I haven’t made much progress in this part of the building. It’s musty, filled with cob-webs, and disheveled apparel littering every corner of the room. Trudging through the room felt more like venturing into a swamp. Each step was harder than the last. “What was Komano talking about?” I mumble, aiming the flashlight every which way.

That’s when I saw it.

A light refracted in the darkness.

Glazed, dead, blue eyes.

“Eeep!” I jump back.

Poke.

“What’s wrong, Miss Yume?”

“AAaaa!” I yelp, tripping onto my rear, collapsing into the stack of dirty clothes. “KOMANO!”

“What?”

“H-how did you get down here without making a noise?”

“I flew.”

“Ah… oh,” I sigh.

“You can fly, right?”

“Yes, but why would I?”

“It’s fun.”

“Kyuun!” the missile floats freely behind Komano’s head. Whatever that thing is, it’s taken a liking to her.

“I-I didn’t ask you,” I pull some cobwebs free from my hair. “Anyway, is this what you were talking about?” the flashlight illuminates the face of the strange ‘girl’ that Komano ran into down here.

“Yeah, that’s her! She’s kind of rude, isn’t she?”

“Komano, I’m… not sure that’s a girl.”

“Sure she is. Look at her,” Komano floats over the trash pile to the doll (?).

“I guess,” I approach slowly, placing a hand out to touch her face. “She’s cold.”

“Oh, is she dead?” Komano begins poking the metal girl’s cheek. “Very cold!”

Is this one of Alice’s dolls? No, that couldn’t be, considering the designs are very different.

Komano begins running her hands up and down the doll’s body, feeling around for anything that interests her. “What does this do? Is she a toy?”

“Komano, that’s not a good idea. Get away from there.”

“Kyuun!” the missile encourages her.

Why is this happening? Why is there a sentient warhead here? Why is there a doll in the basement? What has my Master been hiding from me this whole time?

Beep.

“Ah ha! Found it! Whatever ‘it’ is! Look, Miss Yume!”

The doll’s eyes flash blue. I leap back, expecting an explosion, a flash of movement, anything… but she just stretches. “Aaaah!” the doll’s joints crack as if it just had a good night’s rest. “Is it time to get back to work?”

“Kyuun!” the missile chimes in.

“Oh, Mimi! It’s so good to see you again!” the doll greets the ICBM.

“Kyuun!” it coos happily.

It has a name? Wait, no, this is happening too fast. What is going on? How is this happening? “Time out,” I motion over to Komano. “Time out. So, uh, she is alive.”

“Yeah! I told you!” Komano reprimands me.

“S-sorry for doubting you,” I scratch the back of my head. “But seriously though, what are we going to do about this?”

“I dunno!” she beams with pride.

“You’re not helping, Komano.”

“I’m sorry.”

That isn’t helping either.

[_] Ask for Reimu’s assistance.
[_] Ask Mimi and the maid to help clean.
[_] Go find Kasen, she can make sense of this. Hopefully.
[_] Leave this shed and never look back.
[_] Custom
[X] Go find Kasen, she can make sense of this. Hopefully.

Just finished reading through the first thread, and I enjoyed it a lot. Always nice to see someone's take on Gensokyo's odd morality from the human perspective.
[x] Ask Mimi and the maid to help clean.

Mimi screentime yes
>>42886
[X] Custom
Take the missile and the maid to Nitori. She's gotta know something about this, right?
[x] Find Kasen and ask for Reimu's help, ya tosser!

Keep it tidy, mate.
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