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File 154959903996.png - (44.60KB, 400x400, Lost_Bees_Fanart.png) [iqdb]
200251No. 200251
>>200245
Reposting due to bump limit.

---

[ ] Stay behind to buy time
[ ] Make a straight run for the Youkai Mountain border
[ ] Run for Eirin’s field (Clamshell)
[ ] Run for the Yamanba zone (Clamshell)
[ ] Aki Farm
[ ] Call Ran
[ ] Other?

---

Image created by Mibiya
If anyone wants to provide feedback or chat with me, I'm on the THP discord.
Expand all images
>>No. 200253
[X] Run for Eirin’s field (Clamshell)

while i dislike moon people with a passion, Eirin is a good option
>>No. 200254
[X] Run for the Yamanba zone (Clamshell)

shoot I should have voted last time to ask if she could help ruukoto
>>No. 200257
[x] Aki Farm

Have some faith!
>>No. 200258
2 for Eirin's field
2 for the Yamanba zone
1 for the Aki's farm
>>No. 200259
Protecc Ruu-chan
>>No. 200260
>>200259
very important
>>No. 200262
[X] Run for Eirin’s field (Clamshell)
-[x] protecc ruu-chan
>>No. 200263
X] Run for Eirin’s field (Clamshell)
-[x] protecc ruu-chan

P R O T E C C
>>No. 200270
[X] Run for Eirin’s field (Clamshell)
-[x] protecc ruu-chan
>>No. 200271
I'm >>200254
add
-[x] protecc ruu-chan
To the end of this vote
>>No. 200273
File 155053678082.jpg - (1.42MB, 1454x1441, __inubashiri_momiji_touhou_drawn_by_moyazou_kitagu.jpg) [iqdb]
200273
[X] Eirin’s field (Clamshell)
[X] Protecc Ruukoto

---

You secure what’s left of Ruukoto’s chassis to your back. “I’m going to head for Eirin’s field.”

“With Ruukoto strapped to you?” Caleb asks.

It’s still dark out, but the faint glow of sunrise is creeping over the horizon. You need to get moving soon. Ruukoto must be kept safe.

If it comes down to it, will you choose her or her data? Could you bring yourself to pull the trigger on Ruukoto after all she’s endured?

“Our other options aren’t good.” Junko says. Mimi makes a distressed cry as Junko picks her up.

“UNAUTHORIZED-” She blares.

“I’m getting you to safety!” Junko chastises her as she also fastens Mimi to her armor. “Right. I think I’ve got the best shot of actually getting past the border on my own, so this way we won’t have both assets stuck on the mountain.”

“Sounds good.” Caleb says, conjuring floating spheres of blood in both hands. “I’ll run for the Yamanba territory. Hold still and close your eyes.”

He sprays the blood over you and Junko like mist. The iron tang quickly fades to nothing, and you open your eyes to find no visible residue.

“This’ll make it harder for them to pick up a scent.” He explains while spraying himself.

You take Mimi’s hand in yours and squeeze it. “We’re all going to make it.” You promise.

She squeezes back, her mechanical eyes never leaving yours. “AFFIRMATIVE.”

Junko’s head jerks towards the hills. Her eyes narrow at some unseen threat. “We need to move. Go!”

The three of you split off, each flying in separate directions.

---

Roving patrols force you to go to ground a few times. Your experience with sneaking past werewolves helped, but the Tengu are disciplined and know their own land. Transylvania wasn’t as stressful as this; at least back then you always had the option of going loud.

“No problems so far.” You ping from the concealment of a bush. “You guys good?”

“I’m alright.” Caleb responds. “I spotted Momiji at a vantage point. She’s forcing me to move slow, but her position should keep her from spotting you guys. Junko, how about you?”

Silence. “Junko?” You try to raise her.

“I think Aya’s on my tail.” Junko pings back. “Gotta shake her before I run for it.”

Seems like you lucked out if the Tengu haven’t sent heavy hitters in your direction.

Soon after that exchange, you notice the trees giving way to a fence and ordered rows of various flowers behind it.

Despite the garden’s meticulous beauty, there’s something sterile about it. It’s more like Higan than the fields of the Villagers or Yuuka. For all that might be said about its mistress, the Garden of the Sun is still a place of life. Eirin’s field, by contrast, feels as clinical as her office.

Of course, the immediate tactical consideration is that Eirin’s field doesn’t provide good cover from aerial observers. There’s a shed on the premises, but it’s also locked and too obvious of a hiding spot.

“I’m at the rendezvous.” You ping, scanning the area for any sign of company. You’ve come too far to blunder now and lose the objective of the entire expedition to the Tengu.

“Good. I’m still approaching mine.” Caleb pings back. “Junko got out of ping range a while ago.”

“She can take care of herself.” You reply. You bring out your phone and inform Clamshell you’re waiting.

“The drainage grate connects to the Underground. The marks on the wall point to a safehouse. I’ll meet you there.”

You spot the round metal grate near the center of the field. It’s going to be a tight fit, especially with Ruukoto, but you think you can squeeze through.

After a last check for concealed hostiles, you drop over the fence and creep towards the manhole.

You squat down and lift the grate, taking care to not disturb the nearby gravel and give yourself away. It’s surprisingly light, but that would make sense if Eirin has rabbits working here-

A rustling from the trees. Movement at the edge of your vision. The Tengu are here!

You bring the grate around and cover behind it while drawing a pistol with your free hand. Peeking over your makeshift shield, you see...

Tengu patrols in the distance flying to another position. They haven’t even noticed you.

“Caleb, status?” You ping.

“All clear.” He replies, cautious. “They’re not converging on me... Shit. Junko.”

---

[ ] Go to Clamshell’s safehouse
[ ] Run with Ruukoto towards Junko’s position
[ ] Leave Ruukoto at the safehouse, run towards Junko’s position
[ ] Create a distraction
[ ] Write-in
>>No. 200274
[X] Hide Ruukoto underground -- in the safehouse, if it isn't far. Then...
- [X] Make your way towards Junko (and Mimi)
>>No. 200275
File 155053926821.png - (0.96MB, 1047x1000, mimichan.png) [iqdb]
200275
[x] Leave Ruukoto at the safehouse, run towards Junko’s position

It's dangerous to leave her alone, but it'd be even worse to carry her to danger. And fuck if we're not going against danger.

We might be biting more than we can chew, but it doesn't matter. No one gets left behind.
>>No. 200276
[x] Leave Ruukoto at the safehouse, run towards Junko’s position

Ruu-chan must always be protecc
>>No. 200277
hmmmm
I dunno what option would be best.
All I can offer is
[X] Protecc Ruukoto
>>No. 200278
[x] Leave Ruukoto at the safehouse, run towards Junko’s position
>>No. 200280
>>200277
a valuable and worthwhile contribution

More seriously, though, I am a bit worried about leaving Ruukoto behind... Now that I think about it, it might be better to ping Caleb to check on Junko, and investigate this "Clamshell" more thoroughly. Ruukoto is in a bad place; and while Hatate this mysterious stranger has seemingly given us helpful advice so far, I still don't trust them enough to leave Ruukoto alone with them. Junko, on the other hand, is more than capable of fending for herself — and even with a robot of her own to protecc, Caleb's help should be able to get her through.

Another thing to note is that the Tengu may only be searching for a single group, so Caleb (and/or Char, if we also go to help) could have the element of surprise if the confrontation turns into a fight.

tl dr: anon >>200274 officially changing their vote to
[X] Go to Clamshell’s safehouse
>>No. 200281
[z] Go to Clamshell’s safehouse
tide pissan'
>>No. 200282
anon >>200276 here, gonna change my vote to
[X] Go to Clamshell’s safehouse

Proteccting Ruu-chan is my main priority
>>No. 200283
4 for leaving Ruukoto in the safehouse then responding
3 for going to the safehouse as planned
>>No. 200284
>>200274 and >>200276 changed their votes, though...? so it'd be 2 to 3, not 4 to 3...
>>No. 200409
File 156256758416.png - (200.81KB, 928x981, tumblr_nzimk9Fvnb1r2hxu1o1_1280.png) [iqdb]
200409
[X] Go to the safehouse

---

“Junko can handle herself.” You answer. “She’ll figure something out. All I can do is get Ruukoto out.”

You imagine Caleb sighing as he prepares his nerve. “Roger that. I’ll go cover her.”

Next, you pry open the drain and slip into the tunnel. It’s even more cramped than the Kappa vents, but at least it’s another layer of safety between you and the Tengu.

The next few minutes are spent squeezing through the rough-hewn and dank passage. You try to keep Ruukoto from scraping against the rock while keeping an eye out for the promised safehouse.

A trail of identical gouges left on the walls leads you to an otherwise inconspicuous patch of wall that rings hollow when you rap your knuckles against it.

Silence persists for a moment before the false wall shakes and slides backwards to reveal a mousy Tengu waving at you.

“Come on in, Charlotte.” She says with an eager smile. “I’m ‘Clamshell’.”

“How’d you know it was me before opening the wall?” You ask, sizing her up.

She takes a flip phone from a pouch and proudly holds it up for you to see. “I have a talent for scrying. Of course I checked to see who it was!” It’s outdated but clearly well cared for and cherished, with a number of charms dangling from it.

Well, that explains her pseudonym. Anyways, it doesn’t look like there are any electronic or heat signatures unaccounted for in the room, and Clamshell doesn’t strike you as much of a physical threat. You shimmy through the doorway and allow her to close it.

There’s not much in this room aside from two vaguely seat-ish rocks and a trapdoor that you would guess leads to the Underground. The only source of light is an electric lantern of Kappa make.

“I’m so happy to finally meet you.” She enthuses. “I mean, I’d have preferred meeting all three of you at once, and in nicer conditions than this hole in the ground, but this is big either way. I’m Hatate, by the way.”


“Right. You know, Hatate, you haven’t mentioned why you were so eager to help us and Nitori’s crew break into that bunker.” You say, not returning her enthusiasm.

“Well, obviously I couldn’t just thoughtograph what was inside, or else I would have been able to blow the lid on the robotics project myself. Unlike Aya, I can just boss around a few wolves to do the grunt work whenever-

“Hatate.” You interrupt, taking a deep breath. “I’ve had a very long day. Please, what did you want to accomplish by looking in that facility, and why should I trust you any further?”

“Hey, I could have just snitched you out to Aya, but I went out of my way to keep her away.” She replies, taken aback. “I didn’t know what the Kappa were doing there, but if they went through all that trouble to bury it, I knew I needed to figure out what it was.”

“I’ve seen that attitude cause a lot of damage in the Outside world.” You say, lowering your voice. “Did you have a plan if the Kappa were right to seal the place?”

She shrugs. “I knew that was a risk, but I figured that meant you guys were the right people to send in.”

“You weren’t wrong.” You sit back and sigh. “So, why are you going behind the back of the rest of the Tengu to help us trespass? If you say newspaper material I might actually barbeque you.”

“Well, yeah, but not just for newspaper stuff.” She admits somewhat sheepishly before recovering her bravado. “I’m committed to finding the truth and making it known.”

“Oh?” You raise an eyebrow.

Hatate nods. “If something would be destroyed by revealing the truth, then it should be destroyed, no matter what. That’s what I believe in, above all else. Besides, everything turned out alright, didn’t it? Nitori and her team all made it out, and so did you.”

“What we did today-.” You sigh. “There’s going to be consequences. I don’t know what, exactly, but I’m not looking forward to it.”

“Can you elaborate?”

“No.” Even referencing Yukari seems unwise.

Fortunately, Hatate doesn’t press the issue despite her obvious disappointment.

“Tell you what.” You offer. “I’ll give you whatever non-sensitive information I can, and you figure out how to get my friends and I out of the Mountain.”

“I don’t suppose that robot has any recordings or other data I could have?” She asks, indicating Ruukoto.

“I’ll see what there is.” You say, plugging into the least-melted port you can find. “In the meanwhile, could you figure out what’s going on with my buddies?”

“Yeah. I actually have some pics already, but the thing about thoughtography is that it takes a while to develop.” Hatate explains. “There’s a time lag, basically.”

“Right. So what did you see?”

“Uh...” She consults her phone. “The lady in green- Junko was facing down Aya and a security wolfpack, but she seems pretty calm. It doesn’t look like things are going to get violent. She’s got another robot strapped to her as well.”

You curse as you try to parse useable files from the corrupt memory banks. “Playing with people’s expectations is her thing.”

At least she still has Mimi. “What are her chances of getting away?”

“Pretty low.” Hatate replies. “Aya uses the newspaper thing mostly as a cover for her intelligence work. She’s pretty high up on the hierarchy.”

“Great. I kind of got the feeling there was more to her than that... How about Caleb? The guy with the rifle and gasmask?”

“Looks like he was watching from some distance away. Too far to directly intervene, but the wolves make it too risky to get closer.”

You steady your breathing. You know Junko and Caleb. Each of you have come out on top of worse odds. They can figure something out.

A particularly intact file catches your attention, and a cursory inspection reveals no sensitive data.

“Hey, Hatate. I found something you might like.” You call her over. “Take a look.”

She pockets her own phone as you both settle down to observe the recording.

---

>>1763

---

“I... I didn’t think...” Hatate is at a loss for words. She gulps. “How did she even end up down there? Poor thing...”

“Ask Nitori.” You answer, your voice a little too calm. “It seems like she passed Ruukoto to the other Kappa.”

Hatate dwells on the scene as she copies the files to her phone. “People should see this. Those Kappa sowed the seeds of their own failure and tried to flee rather than face the harvest.” Her face hardens. “Well, they’ve finally run out of excuses to cower behind-”

Her soliloquy is interrupted by a buzz from her phone. “Ah, another thoughtograph developed.” She says, opening the image. Let me take a look- oh. Uhhhhhhh...”

You cautiously lean over.

Yuuka is standing off against a group of Tengu at least three times the size of the force surrounding Junko, and from their body language, the guards aren’t comforted by the numbers advantage. She’s holding a gleaming scythe in a relaxed, familiar stance. Her hair now comes down to her shoulders instead of her chin, and she’s smiling at the Tengu in her way. Even through Hatate’s phone screen, the expression chills you to your bones.

---

[ ] Head to the Underground
[ ] Deal with Yuuka
[ ] Other
>>No. 200411
[x] Deal with Yuuka

Oh shit oh fuck
>>No. 200412
link broke
[x] protecc ruu-chan
[x] Head to the Underground
>>No. 200413
...Is Yuuka about to play a "game" with the Tengu? Is that even something we can deal with?
>>No. 200415
[x] Head to the Underground

Time to boldly flee where no woman's fled before.
>>No. 200416
>>200413
She's about to do what's called a pro gamer move.
>>No. 200418
File 156277276510.jpg - (69.84KB, 512x384, doomumbrella.jpg) [iqdb]
200418
[x] protecc ruu-chan
[x] Deal with Yuuka

the youkai moe strikes back
>>No. 200419
[X] Other:
- [x] DemandKindly request that [Hatate]: protecc ruu-chan
- [x] Make a mental note to ping the others with the "new" intel as soon as you get the chance, then...
[x] Deal with Yuuka

... so where's >>1763 actually supposed to lead, anyways?
>>No. 200420
[x] Deal with Yuuka

If we ingratiate ourselves with the Tengu by giving them an excuse to not start a fight they can't finish, we might have some leeway to get our friends out. And if we have to sell out the kappa... well, their secrecy is not really our concern.
>>No. 200436
File 156658820959.jpg - (190.84KB, 1032x1344, kazami yuuka (touhou) drawn by toutenkou - 9c17158.jpg) [iqdb]
200436
[X] Deal with Yuuka

---

“How recent was that photo?” You ask, standing up.

“A few minutes ago, something like three... why? You’re going to try fighting her?” Hatate asks.

“I really hope not.” You say, fastening Ruukoto back to yourself.

“Yuuka’s bad news, human.” Hatate stands up as well, her face uncertain. “Anyone sane should be trying to get as far away as possible right now.”

You consider asking Hatate to keep Ruukoto safe while you head out, but decide against it. She’ll be safer if you keep her in sight.

“Well there you go.” You say, pulling open the door to the tunnel. “Thanks for the tip-off, and good luck using this scoop.”

---

You prioritize speed over subtlety in your rush towards Yuuka’s likely position, and it’s not long before you have company.

Momiji lands in front of you from above with barely a rustle of leaves as warning. You brake to a halt as she raises her hand at you. At least her sword is still sheathed.

“Charlotte.” She glares at you. “Care to explain your trespassing, as well as what you’ve got on your back?”

“Sure, after I calm Yuuka down.” You reply. “She seemed to have you guys worried.”

Her scowl deepens. “And what’s your plan for that? Asking nicely doesn’t work on creatures like her. Or are you counting on coming back from the dead?”

You shrug. “If that’s what it takes.”

She regards you with her scornful eyes for a few more moments before turning away with a flick of her tail.

“Fine, then. On your own head so be it. This way.”

She flies away without another word. You shift Ruukoto’s weight on your back and follow.

---

You become aware of Yuuka's presence long before you see her.

The bassy thrum of spellcard projectiles and a lot of shouting gives away her location. That, and the beams of light and other projectiles flying into the sky.

You let go of a deep breath, and out of the corner of your eye you see Momiji do the same.

"At least Yuuka's still playing nice." You mutter.

"For now." She grunts, then stiffens. You follow her gaze and spot a Tengu lying on the ground.

Momiji rushes to their side and checks their vitals, with you following suit.

"Come on, wake up, you useless mutt." She growls, trying to shake the luckless guard awake.

"Hey Momiji..." You begin.

"What?" She turns to give you a deathglare. "I'm busy."

You wordlessly indicate the multiple other Tengu sprawled across the ground. From where you're standing, you estimate that the better part of a platoon has been shot out of the sky.

As you and Momiji take in the scene, there's another flash of light and more shouting. A moment later, a plummeting Tengu crashes through the canopy with a shower of leaves and lands face-down before the two of you.

"I'm going ahead." You tell her. "I don't think this fight will last much longer."

Without waiting for a response, you push onwards through the underbrush and above the groaning and prone Tengu.

Yuuka dances through the sky, unleashing petal-shaped clouds of projectiles with sweeps of her golden blade while gracefully avoiding the curtains of fire coming from the dwindling Tengu.

She's enjoying herself. Her movements are confident and decisive as she dictates the pace of the battle. Each of her elaborate spellcard patterns swat Tengu from the sky and leave the survivors scrambling to regroup and counterattack.

If spellcards are meant to be an expression of the self, then what does this display reveal about Yuuka?

Pride. Authority. Love for life and growth. Eagerness for challenge. Equal parts majestic and terrifying.

How are you supposed to reconcile the almost maternal Yuuka you've met with the destructive force of nature before you?

One Tengu seems to be giving Yuuka a better fight than most, flying so fast they're a red and white blur while unleashing her own spellcards.

If this is what Aya is capable of, it's a small relief that she happened to pick up Junko's trail and not your own.

Speaking of Junko...

“Junko, you there?” You send a tentative message.


“Holy shit Char, get me out of here.” She replies. “Yuuka’s not fucking around.”

Yuuka lets loose another volley of petals, striking more Tengu down.

"Should we run?" You ask. "This is a hell of a distraction."

Junko sighs. "I think that'd be a mistake. Yuuka's here for us, or at least, what we found about Hakurei. She won't stop until she knows."

So running would only create more trouble.

"You still have Mimi with you, right?" You ask.

"Yeah, I bluffed and told them Mimi would self destruct if she left human custody. Aya didn't really buy it, but it bought enough time for Yuuka to show up."

"WOULD SELF DESTRUCT TO PREVENT RECAPTURE." Mimi announces.

"Hey, not when we're this close to getting out, ok?" Junko chastises her, reaching behind her head to pat her battered head.

With only a handful of Tengu left, Aya begins to attack more aggressively. Her resolve is admirable, facing down the vast power that Yuuka holds, but you don't know if it's enough.

Aya sees an opportunity and looses a hail of leaf-shaped shots with a shout and a wave of her fan. The shots strike Yuuka while she dodges another attack, battering her like a kite in a storm and leaving her doubled over and hanging limply in the air.

You hold your breath, not knowing for a moment which side your concern is for.

Her body trembles, barely noticeable at first, but quickly growing to resemble spasms.

"Is she okay?" You hesitate to even ask.

Yuuka rightens herself, throwing her head back in rapturous laughter.

"Oh, well done, well done indeed!" Her voice rings clear across the hillside. "Truly, I must thank you for making this encounter more interesting."

She levels her sword at Aya and smiles a wide, warm, and compassionate smile.

"Goodbye." She says, a prismatic ball of light forming at the tip.

The Tengu scatter, but not all of them escape the spark. You see more knocked down to Earth in the wake of the brilliant beam, trailing smoke as they fall.

"You know, if you're worried about having Yuuka not go on the warpath, shouldn't you have intervened before she started fighting the whole mountain?"

"I'm pretty sure this is cathartic in some way for her." Junko replies as Yuuka swivels in place, picking off the remaining Tengu with precision. "Besides, she's only using spellcards so the only real casualty will be their pride."

"Injured pride can lead to a lot of problems." You say, observing the fight. Aya's the last Tengu standing, and the battle seems to have come down to a contest of her speed against Yuuka's might. "Where's Caleb? He said he went to cover you."

"He baited out a bunch of them and ran towards the Yamanba zone before I lost contact. I think he'll be fine."

A final boom sounds, and Aya tumbles to the ground. In a flash, Momiji is by her side.

"Didn't... Think... You cared... So much." Aya manages to sound teasing between gasped breaths.

"Shut it." Momiji retorts. "Do you need help standing?"

"Nah, I'm good." Aya says, wincing while panting on the ground. "Just let me take a breather."

"That was an excellent performance, miss Shameimaru." Yuuka says, gracefully touching down despite the wear and tear from the fight.

"Yeah, same to you." Aya whistles. "Gotta say, I've never seen you put on a show like that before. They must really mean something to you, huh."

Yuuka's expression softens. "Yes." She says. "They do."

"What do you want?" Momiji cuts in.

"The safe passage of the three outsider humans who I have reason to believe are on the mountain." She says, planting her sword into the ground and resting her hands on the pommel. "And as you can see, I have won the challenge against my request."

"They found something in our territory." Momiji growls. "They're going to take it away when they have no right to."

"How unfortunate." Yuuka says, a perfect veneer of politeness over her words. "Perhaps they'll let you have it back if you ask nicely."

"Junko! Charlotte!" She calls out, ignoring Momiji's expression of outrage. "It's time to go."

Junko walks out of the treeline at the other side of the clearing. You do the same, both of you revealing yourselves but not moving to anyone's side yet.

Yuuka frowns. "Where's Caleb?"

"He, ah," Junko begins, glancing at the the few Tengu in good enough condition to pay attention. "He reported that he was going to ground in the Yamanba zone."

Yuuka ponders this, then snorts in an almost petulant way. "That old hag is probably spoiling him rotten right now. No matter. It will take hardly any time for us to meet him."

"Yuuka." You begin, choosing your words carefully. "What we found down there- it's big. All of the big names need to know."

Yuuka sighs as though you've confirmed something, but you're not sure if it's a hope or a fear. "Yes. That is only reasonable. Now come along, we still need to rescue Caleb from the Yamanba's clutches. Then we can return to the garden and summon everyone you need." She returns her blade to its sheath and moves to turn away.

"Ayaya~... do you three humans really know what you're doing?" Aya's voice, full of strained ease, draws your attention. She's standing back on her feet, breathing heavily while staring you down. You see defiance in her eyes, as well as a predatory sharpness probing for weakness.

"Coming into Gensokyo and digging up gods know what in forsaken corners... Aya, don't the good guys know to leave things buried?"

She has a point. How many messes have you cleaned up that began with the greed to take from the supernatural and the arrogance to think the consequences could be avoided?

"You don't even know whose side you're on. How many villagers will still trust you after hearing about the bees in your brains? What will Yuuka do, once she's grown tired of you like-"

Yuuka moves as green and red blur, and Aya cuts off with a gurgle. You blink to behold Yuuka lifting Aya off the ground with a hand wrapped around her throat, leaving her to helplessly kick her legs in the air and claw at her neck.

"You know." Yuuka says, her voice dripping with honey while Aya chokes. "Bird's tongues were once considered quite the delicacy in the outside world."

Her smiling eyes catch the light of the noontime sun at its apex. They are the color of blood.

---

[!!!]
[???]
>>No. 200437
[???]
>>No. 200438
[???]

They never did this to gain popularity. On the contrary, protecting humans often provokes them.

And provoking Yuuka like that... I guess her pride really was hurting. As if an ally taking the opposite side were a novelty for any of our heroes!
>>No. 200439
[???]
>>No. 200440
[???]
>>No. 200441
[???]

! < ?
>>No. 200442
[!!!]

Yuuka's making me nervous, you guys.
>>No. 200443
File 156668727839.png - (25.02KB, 271x257, SPOILER_tumblr_orbolqpCVn1ue65n9o2_400.png) [iqdb]
200443
>>200442
>>No. 200453
File 156895448959.jpg - (286.88KB, 750x600, __kazami_yuuka_touhou_drawn_by_nakatani_nio__392a4.jpg) [iqdb]
200453
[???]

---

You don't move. You don't even breathe. For what seems like an eternity, all you can do is watch.

Momiji levels her sword at Yuuka. “Drop her.” She growls, teeth bared.

“You’ve made your point!” Junko shouts as she rushes over. “Let her go!”

Yuuka doesn’t even respond, absorbed as she is by the dimming of Aya’s eyes.

Junko takes hold of her wrist. “Please!”

Something flashes in Yuuka’s eyes, and a tremor runs through your body. You sense mere heartbeats separating you from seeing Junko’s skull splattered across the ground with the same instinctive certainty of watching gravity pull an apple from a branch.

Yuuka blinks. The moment passes. Awareness returns to her face as she notices the fear on everyone else’s.

Was that the butcher who Gensokyo already knows?

She lowers Aya and lets go of her throat, leaving her to flop on the ground and gasp like a beached fish. That breaks your hesitation, and you hurry over to provide first aid. You’re no blood mage, but you’re good enough to make sure she’ll be fine until she can get proper care.

Silence prevails in the clearing as you busy yourself with checking Aya’s vitals and everyone else with avoiding eye contact with Yuuka. At least Aya managed to not pass out during her ordeal.

“This isn’t over. You know that, right?” Momiji glares as you stand up. “We still need answers about what you trespassed in our territory for.”

“Then meet us at Yuuka’s place later.” You say, too drained to argue. “You’ll be in good company. I think that a lot of people are going to care about what we found down there.”

“You could tag along as we fetch Caleb.” Junko offers. “You know, keeping an eye on us and making sure we don’t get up to anything funny.”

Momiji narrows her eyes. “How cooperative of you. As the last Tengu present in a condition to do so, that was already the plan.”

“Wait.” Aya wheezes. “I should-.”

“The only thing you should be doing after nearly getting your neck wrung is resting.” Momiji insists.

“I outrank you... you lapdog...” Aya manages as she struggles to catch her breath.

“Sorry, I couldn’t quite hear that.” Momiji retorts. “Try again when you uncrush your windpipe.”

More Tengu have arrived by this point, but they’re giving Yuuka, and by extension you, a wide berth. They mostly busy themselves with helping the stragglers up from the brush while giving your group very unfriendly looks.

“Shit, between the ones who got slapped by Yuuka and this group, I think there’s a good fraction of the mountain’s guards around us.” Junko says, eyeing the Tengu around you.

“Let’s just get going.” You say. “We need to get Ruukoto and Mimi fixed up somehow.”

Momiji leaves Aya to a pair of medics and, after a brief conversation with some subordinates, takes flight towards the Yamanba zone with you following.

---

You travel in silence and arrive in front of a rather homey cottage. From inside, you smell something tasty and hear muffled speaking.

“His trail ends here.” Momiji says. “I can hear him inside, as well.”

“Same.” Junko reports. “Caleb, you there?” She pings.

“Oh, hey.” He replies. “Did you shake the Tengu, or should I get ready for a fight?”

“We reached an... understanding with them.” You tell him. “Yuuka showed up after you baited them and won a spellcard fight. She’s with us now.”

Yuuka steps forward and raps her knuckles against the door, and something slams into the other side of it with an inhospitable thunking sound.

The door opens to reveal a gray-haired woman peering out while prying a cleaver from the wood, and her expression quickly brightens upon seeing Yuuka.

“Hey, Goldie! How long’s it been since you paid me a visit?”

“The better half of a century, if memory serves.” Yuuka replies with a thin smile. “I’m afraid I had to spend most of that time asleep.”

“Eh, don’t sweat it.” She looks at the rest of you. “Hey, you brought company! You’re in luck, cause someone else just stumbled over and I made some food for him.”

“Unfortunately, I must decline.” Yuuka taps her umbrella against the tip of her shoe. “I’m here to guide Caleb, your guest, back. It’s rather urgent.”

The Yamanba sighs. “Ah, well. Come along and I’ll fetch him.”

---

“Oh man, it’s good that you guys came when you did.” Caleb says. “I seriously couldn’t eat any more and Miss Sakata wasn’t taking no for an answer.”

The midday sun is beginning to set as you fly back to the Garden of the Sun. Momiji has left to report to her superiors, but you’re shadowed by groups of Tengu until you exit their territory.

“I don’t think they’ll forgive us for today anytime soon.” You say.

“We can only hope that we won’t need to go back to the mountain for a while, then.” Caleb says, shaking his head. “Can’t say I really blame the grunts, at least. Command is not going to be happy with them.”

You’ve already called Keine to inform her of the meeting. Junko called Ran, but received no response. In any case, you expect the big names will be there to find out just how badly you’ve rocked the boat. It’s a quiet mix of dread and resolve.

Man, is this what all the other people here felt like right before Reimu flew in to kick their asses?

You land among the golden sunflowers. Elly seems to materialize out of nowhere, balancing her scythe with one hand as she fusses by Yuuka’s side.

Junko blinks. “Woah. When did you get here?”

Elly pauses in the middle of taking Yuuka’s empty scabbard away. “What do you mean, Miss Mori? This is my place of employment.”

“No, I meant - it’s like you appeared out of thin air.” Junko says, confused. “I thought Sakuya was the only maidservant around here who could do that.”

Elly gives her a faint smile. “I merely do my utmost to help Lady Kazami.”

“Ah, forget it.” Junko says before moving to take off her armor. “Could I get directions to the restroom? I’d like to freshen up before delivering the news.”

“Of course. Elly, if you would be so kind?” Yuuka says, indicating her home.

Elly nods and leads Junko away, leaving you and Caleb alone with Yuuka and the endless rows of sunflowers rustling in the gentle wind.

Yuuka sits at a wooden table on the porch, gazing out with a neutral expression at her yellow fields. She’s seemed subdued ever since Junko snapped her out of her fit of violence with Aya. Do you dare hope that someone of her caliber feels actual remorse for their actions?

“Keine’s confirmed with other leaders.” Caleb announces. “There’s going to be her, Eirin, Byakuren, Miko, Remi, Kanako, Raiko, Satori, Iku representing Bhava-Agra...” His eyes narrow. “Well. Eiki is personally coming to hear what we have to say. Still nothing on Ran.”

“Is Marisa going to crash the party again?” You ask.

Caleb shakes his head. “Keine says she hasn’t been seen for a bit. Might’ve just picked an awkward time to go looking for shrooms. On that note, I get the feeling that Mamizou will show up too, invited or not.”

---
Before the others arrive, ask Yuuka about:
[ ] Her aggression and if the general reaction towards her is justified
[ ] Her relationship with the Hakurei and what to expect from her
[ ] That thing Aya mentioned right before getting choked out
[ ] Other

ALSO,

Before others arrive, is there anything you would like to privately disclose to Yuuka about what you saw?
>>No. 200454
Forgot to mark as update.
>>No. 200455
[x] Her aggression and if the general reaction towards her is justified

Yeah, what the FUCK was she thinking nearly snapping Aya's neck?
>>No. 200456
[X] Her aggression and if the general reaction towards her is justified
[X] Other
-[x] protecc ruu-chan
>>No. 200457
[X] That thing Aya mentioned right before getting choked out
[X] Other
-[X] protecc ruu-chan
[X] Disclose to yuuka
-[X] Cliff notes of all that happened

It's been like half a year but I'm still shocked at what she went through just for a couple of bucks. I don't blame Reimu (much) she was starving. But still, what a heart wrenching scene.

Also, trusting Yuuka is another constant of mine so we might as well tell her the story. If she wants to kill us, we're already dead.
>>No. 200458
[X] Her aggression and if the general reaction towards her is justified
[X] Other
-[x] protecc ruu-chan

protecc robo-buddy
>>No. 200459
[x] Her relationship with the Hakurei and what to expect from her
[x] Other
-[x] protecc ruu-chan

Personally, I'd also very much like to know more about Yuuka's relationship with the previous Hakurei, as well as what specifically put Yuuka on the warpath (and if it had any connection to our own actions w/in the Kappa's lair), so...

[x] Other
-[x] What set Yuuka off on this particular evening.
[x] Disclose to Yuuka
-[x] Cliff notes (sparse ones) on what happened

... and at this point I'm mainly inclined towards giving her a general lowdown of what we know in the hopes that it will get her to trust us a bit more, or perhaps that knowing more of the Hakurei's fate will prompt her to provide more information to us as well. I don't really trust her, but I'd still put more faith in her than I would in Gap Hag.
>>No. 200460
>>200459
>>200457
To be clear, is there anything you do not want to tell Yuuka?
>>No. 200463
not that I can think of.
>>No. 200464
I was mainly considering things in terms of "broad strokes," telling her a general overview of the story and trying to use her reaction to gauge how much she already knows, and if there's anything we are aware of that she isn't - which is also the main reason I want to try and ask what pushed her over the edge this time before we tell her our side of the story. However, like I said in >>200459, I'm also hoping we can get more of her trust, and so I don't see much reason to deliberately hide information at this point. (Strike that, the whole music box situation would likely come off as shady as hell, but I also don't really see any other way we could tell her more about what happened down there without mentioning Yukari's "gift.")

Basically, my thinking is to give her a brief overview of what took place, from when we entered the bunker to when we left it.
Explain our original goal - to find the two missing robots - as well as the states we found each robot in. Describe what took place during our encounter with the Hakurei. BE ABSOLUTELY CLEAR THAT RUU-CHAN WAS IN NO WAY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE HAKUREI'S CONDITION.

In terms of things to hide (or at least to simply not mention), I'd probably avoid bringing up the Kappa's direct involvement, or mentioning anything about Clamshell, since neither of them seem like something that would be directly relevant to Yuuka's interests, and would kinda be throwing them under the bus. I'm not as concerned about the Kappa, but Hatate seems honest enough, and I'd rather not accidentally screw her over. However, if she asks more about anything in particular, don't hesitate to elaborate on the details she's interested in.
>>No. 200465
>>200460
I have a feeling that telling her about the identity of the old Hakurei is a bad idea but she's going to find out anyway... what a mess.
>>No. 200468
File 157042219811.jpg - (78.04KB, 500x418, tumblr_nmja16eL8O1tcv5iwo2_500.jpg) [iqdb]
200468
[X] Yuuka’s aggression and reputation
[X] Disclosing: Summary of events in facility
[X] protecc the mecc

---

You approach Yuuka from the side, stopping just out of arm’s reach. She’s lost in thought with her chin resting on steepled fingers.

It was always clear that there was danger behind her warmth, but seeing it for yourself makes you wonder how much of her feared reputation is deserved.

You shudder. You’ve seen what Aya was an inch from. A death-rattle forced through a crushed windpipe is not easily forgotten sound.

You need an answer. Though she’s been nothing but welcoming and helpful for you, you can’t work with her with something like this calling her trustworthiness into question.

“Yuuka.” You begin. “Why did you almost kill Aya?”

The sunflowers bend to a breeze like a wave of flowers. Yuuka closes her eyes and breathes in the fragrant air.

“She was probing for weaknesses and stumbled upon one of mine.” She says. “For all my many sins, I did care for Hakurei. Each of them were dear to me, and to be accused of being bored after all my mourning-”

She takes a deep breath. “The old fury overtook me.”

“Is this what you were like before Reimu?” Caleb asks, standing next to you with his hands clasped behind his back. Junko watches in silence, taking deep drags from a cigarette as she leans against the wall with her arms folded.

A bitter smile appears on Yuuka’s face. “Yes. I was called the Sleeping Terror, for rousing me to action led to slaughter.”

“Who did you fight?” Caleb continues, his voice meticulously neutral.

“Tengu, Oni, Kappa, Demons, Vampires, Satori, Humans, petty Youkai and more... I could have filled a lake with the blood I’ve spilled. As for why, they endangered our mission - threatened to undo all our efforts out of mere greed and ambition.”

She closes her eyes for a few moments. “I can’t ask for forgiveness. I won’t ask for what I don’t deserve. All I can say is that I learned long ago that it is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.”

The garden is silent but for the wind as Yuuka’s words linger.

Do you believe what she said?


Does she?

“What do you think?” Caleb pings.

“She’s not explicitly apologizing for it, but I think she’s being truthful.” Junko responds. “I don’t know many beings like her that have apologized for things they’ve done.”

She’s right. People with power usually demand penitence instead of offering it themselves.

“Maybe this is the best we can expect.” You add. “Do we think we can still trust her going forward?”

You all exchange a series of hesitant looks behind Yuuka’s back.

“We don’t have anyone else willing to throw in with us to the same extent.” Caleb says, glancing at her. “Let’s decide later. We’ve got more to do this evening.”

Elly chooses this moment to reappear with a nervous smile and a tray of tea in her hands, as well as an ashtray for Junko. The clink of ceramic brings Yuuka back to the present, and she takes an appreciative sip.

“Thank you, Elly.” She says with a gentle smile that causes her cheeks to redden as she excuses herself. “Now then.” She says, turning her attention back on you three. “There’s still some time before our guests arrive, and I’m interested in hearing about exactly what you found in that forgotten cave.”

With some of the previous tension eased, you all sit down with her.

Junko exhales and stubs out her cigarette, the last of the smoke forming fractals in the air as it escapes from her nose.

“So.” She begins, leaning forward. “This started a few days back when I detected some misfortune incubating around Youkai Mountain...”

---

You had thought that Yuuka was frightening when she assaulted Aya. Her eyes when Junko explains how those Kappa attempted to experiment with Izumo’s grave, though...

You’d rather face another army than the murderous intent radiating from her.

“I see.” She states, taking her hand off her cup to avoid shattering it in her white-knuckled grip. “So what happened next?”

Do you really want to tell her about the music box with that look in her eyes?

No, but you would have to come clean eventually. You might as well do it on your own terms.

“I had this music box.” You say, hoping your courage doesn’t fail you. “It showed up one morning after a dream. I hadn’t used it until then, but I had a hunch that it would do... something. I hoped it would calm her down, like a lullaby, but the sound it made-” You shudder to remember the notes at the very edge of your hearing. “It wasn’t recognizable as music. It caused Izumo to separate from Ruukoto and made the rest of the room blurry. All the shapes and lines were fusing together.”

Yuuka’s eyes narrow, though without malice. “It sounds like Yukari’s handiwork. A trojan gift sent through a dream, sounds at the boundaries of your hearing, partitioning and combining things...” She sighs. “Well, I can’t fault her for being invested in this.” Yuuka holds her hand out “May I examine the music box?”

“Izumo immediately asked for it, said it was from Yukari, and then broke it.” You tell her. “That stopped the ‘blurring’ effect. We didn’t have time to pick the pieces off the ground.”

That gets an amused chuckle from Yuuka. “It’s good to see that she’s still as skeptical as ever about Yukari.” She looks over at Ruukoto and Mimi, respectively seated on the laps of you and Junko. “So, Izumo was trapped inside the maid-like automaton?”

“Yeah, something like that. They’re in bad shape.” Your eyes trail over the extensive damage on both of their frames. “At least Mimi’s still functional enough to repair on my own. I’d need a supercomputer to fix Ruukoto’s data corruption.”

Yuuka shakes her head. “Poor child.”

“Ironically enough, the only people here who would have one are the Kappa.” Caleb says. “Maybe Eirin has something stashed in her basement, but I don’t know how we’d get access.”

“I can’t say I’m that averse to ‘borrowing’ what we need from the Kappa at this point.” Junko mutters.

“Quite. Did she say anything else?” Yuuka asks.

“She told us there were blind spots in Gensokyo that Yukari couldn’t reach into, that cave being one of them. Other Hakurei instances are probably inside them. She implied that she defeated Ran and an Oni working for Yukari before, and that while Yuyuko stood a decent chance, Yukari wouldn’t take the risk.” You summarize.

“So Yukari can’t lock us up or she loses her best bet for getting in those places at all.” Junko adds. “There was also something about her needing to keep things interesting, but it wasn’t clear if that was a strategic goal or just boredom.”

“It’s both.” Yuuka says as she casually pours herself more tea. “So where did Izumo go? She wasn’t near the mountain, or I would have felt her at once.”

“She used the scrap-metal torii like a portal. It looked like the other side was full of doorways.”

“Doorways?” Yuuka repeats, puzzled. “Not a gap?”

“It was different from what Yukari’s stuff is supposed to look like.” Caleb says, shrugging. “No eyes, no ribbons, no purple.”

“I don’t know what this means.” She says. “I can make a few guesses, but Hakurei clearly kept some secrets of her own. Did she leave any clues as to what she intends to do next?”

“She’s going to find Hecatia, the Auditor, before waking up her other selves.” You answer.

There’s a sharp intake of breath from Yuuka at the name, her eyes wide.

“She didn’t say where Hecatia is, but I think it’s outside the barrier.” You continued. “The only other things Izumo mentioned were that Hecatia left because of a new friend and that going after Hecatia would hopefully prevent an invasion of Gensokyo.”

Yuuka groans and covers her face with her hands as she slumps in her chair. “Either something truly ugly is brewing in Hell or she went after the Lunarians. Hecate, you absolute fool. She bears an old grudge against them, the ones so afraid to die that they made it a crime to live. I’d tell you more, but we’re pressed for time. For better or worse, that situation is out of our hands for now. Did she speak of any others?”

“She said that Yukari probably has the advantage over any one of you, Sariel fucked off to Bhava-Agra and never came back, and Shinki started behaving strangely after Yukari paid her a visit. The only info she gave on other Hakurei was that the merfolk might know something about Sanae.” Junko recounts while idly patting Mimi on her head. Mimi seems to appreciate the thought of it, at least.

“That... sounds accurate.” Yuuka nods.

“She also mentioned you, the Cultivator.” You say.

Yuuka’s eyes focus on your own.

“She said you wielded a golden blade and might be the only other partner to genuinely love humans.”

You return her blood-red gaze without blinking.

To your surprise, she turns away first.

“But the love of something like me may as well be hatre_.” Yuuka says in a bitt_rsweet, self-_ocking t_ne.

It strikes you that this is the first time Yuuka’s shown real _ain.

She tilts _er face _ut of view and laughs without mirth. “She must have told you that as well.”

_one of you answer her.

Elly coughs to announce her presence, and you silently thank her for breaking the silence. “Mistress, the first guests are nearing. A meeting room has been prepared.”

“Thank you once again for your hard work, Elly.” Yuuka says as she stands up and takes her parasol.

“It may be expedient to not trouble Dr. Yagokoro with Hecatia’s probable activity on the moon.” Yuuka offers, still facing away. “Of course, I trust your judgement.”

You leave her be and head inside. The issue of Ruukoto and her blackbox data weighs on your mind.

“EXECUTOR.” Mimi calls out from being cradled in Junko’s arms. “REQUESTING STATUS UPDATE.”

“I can get you repaired to full capability.” You say, scratching the back of your neck and making a mental note to calibrate her voice synthesizer. “Ruukoto, though...”

“I’ll figure it out.” You say, resolve flaring within you. “Both of you are going to be okay. I’ll find a way.”

Mimi considers this and nods jerkily. “HAVE REQUEST. MINOR IMPORTANCE. ACCEPTABLE TO IGNORE.”

“After all you’ve endured, you shouldn’t have to worry about feeling selfish.” You tell her. “Let’s hear it.”

“I PREFER NON-HUMANOID SHELLS. DATA SUGGESTS RUKOTO PREFERS HUMANOID.”

“Of course.” You say, smiling at her.

---
Audience:
-Remilia+Sakuya
-Byakuren+Ichirin
-Miko+Futo
-Eirin+Tewi
-Iku
-Keine+Akyuu
-Aya
-Kanako+Suwako
-Satori
-Eiki

How do you spin today’s events?
>>No. 200469
Audience:
-Raiko
-Mamizou... somewhere
>>No. 200470
Fuck if I know how to spin, but do talk to Eiren about Ruukoto.
Must Protecc!

Also, were those single character spoilers after the love bit intentional? Of course, I don't expect you to outright state their meaning if so, but I don't want to actually start trying to puzzle it out of it was just a fuck up copypasting.
>>No. 200471
>>200470
D E L U
P H O N
>>No. 200473
File 157049274780.jpg - (306.69KB, 997x964, 36c0421f-1afc-4730-a9e5-a19d86a71c85[1].jpg) [iqdb]
200473
>>200470
youdoubtme?
>>200471
almost.
>>No. 200475
I think it's supposed to be DEMOPHON.

Text w/ replacements:
“But the love of something like me may as well be hatre(d),” Yuuka says in a bitt(e)rsweet, self-(m)ocking t(o)ne.
It strikes you that this is the first time Yuuka’s shown real (p)ain.
She tilts (h)er face (o)ut of view and laughs without mirth. “She must have told you that as well.”
(N)one of you answer her.


Minor bit of speculation:
A quick google/wikipedia search seems to primarily indicate two figures from Greek mythology, Demophon of Eleusis and Demophon of Athens. There's also some mention of a Demophon (seer), who was purportedly an advisor to Alexander the Great, but there isn't much information about him. I'm too tired to do anything more in-depth at the moment, though.

>>No. 200476
Yuuka is the best, so awesome. As for spinning the story, not certain. Honestly, feels like it may be easier to spin it as we tell it based off the reactions.
>>No. 200477
I think we should definitely lay the blame, at least partially, on the Kappa. Also, we should probably doe everything in our power to defend Yuuka's actions. Even if we don't care what people think of her (and we know she probably couldn't give less of a fuck what the rest of Gensokyo thinks of her), if we need to keep associating with her it would be better if everybody doesn't think she's more of a genocidal maniac than they already do.
>>No. 200478
RE: "Demophon":

Demophon of Eleusis:
The goddess Demeter was unknowingly sheltered by Demophon's parents while he was an infant; as thanks, she decided to immortalize the infantile Demophon by placing him in a fire to burn away his mortal soul. The child's mother came in on her during the process and reacted with fear, causing Demeter to remove the baby from the flame before the process was completed. Sources conflict on whether the infant survived the ordeal.

Demophon of Athens:
A soldier who participated in the siege of Troy, he married someone on the way back, only to depart the day immediately afterwards; before he left, he was given a box, and told only to open it if it became clear he would never return. Demophon soon forgot all about this marriage, and only re-discovered the box many years later. Upon opening it, he was so frightened by what he saw that he tripped and fell on his own sword, killing himself.


What I think it might mean:
The easiest conclusion as to why this is happening (in-universe, at any rate) is that Yukari is trying to clue us in on something about Yuuka, since pretty much all past spoilertext has been associated with her in some way.

If it's intended as a reference to the former, I'd conclude Yukari (assuming all IC spoilertext is hers) is trying to tell us that Yuuka means well, but due to inaccurate/incomplete information, is actually doing more harm than good. Not sure if it's referring to something that's happened in the past, something that may happen in the future, or something that is currently in motion as we speak. This is the situation I think is more likely.

If it's a reference to the latter, though, I'm less confident on what it could mean... I'll probably have more thoughts on that if I re-read the story so far.
Though I'd very much appreciate being told if I'm barking up the right tree or just have my head stuffed up my own ass. Either way, though, any more autistic theorycrafting will probably get quarantined to a separate thread so it doesn't get in the way of votes so much.



Still not sure how we should spin things regarding who's here, but atm I'm leaning towards keeping most info on a need-to-know basis, and maybe trying to draw Eirin aside to talk with her one on one and ask for help w/ Project Protecc.
>>No. 200479
Something I just thought of, and it's a bit of a long shot, but since Satori is able to easily bypass the Bee's encryption of a Chosen's thoughts, she might also be able to help repair Ruukoto's busted memory banks. It might be worthwhile to see what she has to say about things.
>>No. 200480
>Doorways

Okina get out
>>No. 200481
It's a cop-out, but we could let Yuuka provide the story and let her make the call on what is or is not worthy of being said to the group now that she knows everything. I assume we shouldn't bring up Yukari... at all to anyone here. The Chosen could chime in to provide some bits and pieces here and there as necessary, or perhaps optionally follow-up. As Yuuka called the meeting it wouldn't be too out of place.

It definitely paints us as in Yuuka's corner, which could definitely be a double-bladed sword based on how the last interaction went down (and her own admittance about her bloody past) but at the same time that is an incredibly dangerous foe for others to attempt to work against and could work in the Chosen's favor to give them a bit of a shield. It would probably be pretty bad for Youkai Mountain once they find out that they were essentially experimenting/defiling the grave of prior Hakurei's, it's kinda the height of a dishonorable action but perhaps it doesn't matter to them due to the fact that she was human -- though the question of how they found the area and what records they may have kept regarding it are important if we take the path of "maybe we need to track down these areas that Yukari specifically wants".

I don't think it's worth trusting the Kappa with any part of the robotics process anymore re: super computer -- perhaps save Nitori -- but the others have already proven based on the entire episode that just happened that they are unable to take responsibility for the outcome of their actions, let alone be trusted to make such calls in the future.

I do want to mention to Yuuka that the music box was something that Izumo believed was a Gaia Engine.
>>No. 200488
[x] "The kappa found out about the battle of the Hakurei Shrine and reached to us to investigate an incident in one of their factories that they feel it might be related to it. Since it'd mean that Filth was here in Gensokyo before our arrival, we were forced to accept and investigate. There, we found the former servant of the Hakurei Shrine, a being made of metal named Ruukoto. Barely clinging to life, we were forced to contact Yukari for help with a communicator she gave us. As it turns out, it was possesed by a spirit infested with Filth. Said spirit got out, destroyed the communicator and presented herself as the former Hakurei. Despite her obvious Filth infection, we couldn't raise a hand against one of the Gensokyo's protector lineage (not that we'd have been a match for her anyway) so we had to let her go, to places unknown"

How about this? We pile little lies upon little lies and we cover them all on a mantle of truth.

Mentioning Yukari's involvment would put us on her side, but my spin is that we're in Gensokyo's side and we don't plan to interfere. That's why we didn't raise a hand against a Hakurei and that's why we accepted the 'secrecy' condition of the Kappa: Filth is our only concern.

Also, I'm painting the elder Hakurei as an enemy, because she obviously is. That's what the focus should be on. If Yuuka loves humans as much as she says she does, she should realize the danger an infected elder poses.
>>No. 200492
[x] >>200488 without mentioning Yukari.

That's a bad idea on several levels.
>>No. 200494
[x] >>200488 without mentioning Yukari.

Let's not antagonize a possible shield.
>>No. 200495
File 157248573093.gif - (892.05KB, 500x281, Too Many Mouths.gif) [iqdb]
200495
>>200494
wise
>>No. 200527
File 157266089830.jpg - (788.96KB, 1200x1000, PrOuLQb.jpg) [iqdb]
200527
[X] Trust Yuuka to explain
[X] Ask Eirin for help w/ Ruukoto

---

“Wow. You kids didn’t wait long to rock the boat.” Tewi says, leaning forward with an approving smirk. “Looks like I won my bet with Reisen. So, what mischief did you guys get up to?”

“And why did you have to fight a fourth of the guard for it?” Kanako asks with her arms crossed.

The three of you are sitting together in lovingly carved wooden chairs between Yuuka and Keine. Once again, everyone is packed into as close of a circle as can be managed in the parlor, allowing an entire room of wary eyes to focus on you.

Satori gives you a small wave before returning her hands to her lap. A kerchief embroidered with warding glyphs covers her third eye, as much for her comfort as everyone else’s privacy.

Junko goes straight to the point. “You guys all know about the Hakurei shamans before Reimu, right?”

Their gazes were heavy before. Now, they feel ready to bury you.

“Well, they’re not dead.” Junko soldiers on. “One of them is awake, and she’s going around to wake up the others.”

Whispering fills the room. “How many of them are there?” Miko asks. She holds her baton upright, covering her mouth as her eyes narrow. “How similar to Reimu are they?”

“Believe me, having seven more Reimus would be a vacation compared to what these humans have unleashed on us.” Remilia snarls. “What do you think her ancestors did to youkai before she invented spellcards?”

“They weren’t barbarians.” Keine counters as politely as she can.

“I understand that you’re part Hakutaku, but at least wait for the full moon if you’re going to try lecturing me.” Remilia retorts, balling her small fists on her lap. “I was there, Keine. The victims of a civilized murderer are just as dead.” Her red eyes sweep across the room. “Shameimaru. Komeiji. Tewi. We lived through those times. Have you forgotten what they were like?”

Satori laces her delicate fingers together as she chooses her words. “Gensokyo has changed since the torch passed to Reimu and Marisa. The ways we interact with the humans have changed. The previous shamans should have no reason to resort to the old violence.”

“Yeah. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never done anything to deserve an old-school extermination.” Tewi announces, a carrot hanging out of the corner of her mouth like a cigar. “Listen, Remilia, nobody’s gonna whack you for being a vampire unless you’ve been getting blood from babies or something.”

Remilia glares at them before turning to Aya. “And you? Are you going to stick your neck out for these humans after it was nearly wrung for their sake?”

Aya can’t help but clear her throat and adjust the maroon scarf wrapped around it. Her expression is impressively nonchalant for someone whose neck was almost crushed as thin as her wrist earlier today.

“Rest assured that the mountain will address their intrusion with appropriate haste. For now, we’re still investigating the facility they so thoughtfully exposed for us. Further judgement will be made once more information is confirmed-”

“The kappa were defiling Hakurei Izumo’s grave for profit.”

All eyes turn to Yuuka. Her impassive face dares anyone to deny or excuse it.

“She went there to die in peace. They went there to dig up her corpse and lash it to butchered automata. That those Kappa were in turn killed by their own sacrilege is simple karma.”

Raiko’s eyes linger on the abused bodies of Ruukoto and Mimi before turning to Aya with venom. “And the Tengu never caught on to this because?”

Aya raises her hands. “Hey, the Kappa aren’t part of our hierarchy. We don’t control what they do, we just do business with them.”

“She’s right.” Kanako nods. “They’re a secretive bunch, and nearly all of them have pet projects. They’re not even accountable to themselves.”

You bring out your last remaining drone and a projector and hold them up for everyone to see. “You’ve all got questions about what we saw down there, I’ve got footage that can help with that. Sound good?”

That gets everyone to quiet down. Wanting to know happened is probably the only thing everyone here can agree on.

“Glad we’re on the same page.” You sigh as you plug them in. “Oh, one more thing. If you’re not okay with seeing bodies without their skin, be ready to close your eyes.”

---

You end the playback at the point when you climb out of the vent with Ruukoto in your arms. There’s no need to reveal Hatate’s involvement if Aya doesn’t already know.

“It’s her.” Eiki murmurs, grim-faced. “There’s no mistaking it. I don’t know how, but Izumo is back.”

“So, anyone recognize the trick Izumo used to leave through the torii?” Caleb asks over the wave of whispering. “Crown prince, is it similar to Senkai’s gates?”

“The principle is similar.” Miko admits. “The scope, however... Based on how many doorways were visible, she’s been working on this for a long time. It’s beyond our abilities to use Senkai in such a manner.”

“It’s unfamiliar to us as well.” Akyuu announces after some whispering with Keine. “Our best guess is that the Hakurei learned to copy Yukari after spending so long with her.”

You think back to the conduits you sensed flowing through the gate of the Hakurei shrine. Has anyone else noticed them?

“Maybe it’s something godly.” Suwako suggests. “If the Tengu let me and Kanako take a look, we might figure a way to crack in.”

“She seemed pretty confident in her ability to keep unwanted visitors out.” You say. “I mean, Izumo made it pretty clear that she expected Yukari to be locked out. Do any of us really think we can beat that?”

Suwako shrugs. “Gotta try, don’t we?”

“You’ve been keeping things from us, Yuuka.” Byakuren says, her voice measured and her eyes piercing. “She named you alongside beings of immense and terrible power. Sariel has Bhava-Agra, Shinki has Makai, and Hecatia seems to govern the afterlife, in addition to being a friend of yours.”

She shudders at the mention of Makai. “Yet you live as a gardener. A feared gardener, but one with no dreams of empire.”

You glance over to Yuuka, worried that you’ll see that murderous shine in her eyes again. She, however, only nods.

“Would you believe me if I told you I was content to claim the tamed earth as my domain and its blooms as my subjects?”

“So sayeth thou when ye came a hair’s breadth from breaking the spellcard rules mere hours ago.” Futo says, crossing her arms.

“Eiki looks like she really wants to say something.” Caleb pings.

“Keine too.” Junko adds. “Huh. So does Eirin.”

Checking for yourself shows tensing jaws and shifting eyes, but no sign of voicing what’s on their minds.

“They’re probably not eager to say something risky in her own house after her stunt.” You reply. “I don’t know how to feel about it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Eirin and Eiki are probably the only ones here in the same neighborhood of individual power as Yuuka. In Eirin’s case, she straight up can’t die, so if she’s got second thoughts...”

“They might wait for a better time, then. Maybe they’ll speak to her or us in privacy.” Junko pings back.

Satori interrupts the awkwardness. “Do we have any idea where Izumo plans to go? I can’t think of many places outside of Gensokyo that would be aware of it, much less capable of invading it.”

Everyone looks at Eirin.

“The Capital certainly has the means to reach Gensokyo.” She admits, brushing an imaginary strand of hair away from her face. “However, even if that were the case, I’m not aware of any viable means we would have of affecting the situation there. Perhaps if Yukari were here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

“Has Reisen or any other source intercepted any relevant information?” Caleb asks.

“Nothing but the usual chatter from the rabbits.” Eirin reports. “For better or worse, we may have to entrust this to Izumo’s hands.”

“This invasion seems to be tied to whatever Hecatia is doing.” Miko says, looking between Yuuka and Eiki. “Might one of you be able to contact her and influence things that way?”

“I can certainly try.” Yuuka says. “It’s been a long time since I’ve used those channels, and my understanding is that she went out of her way to be hidden. I can’t make guarantees.”

“My situation is similar.” Eiki adds. “Truthfully, I cannot be sure if my message would reach her before Izumo.”

Byakuren sighs. “I suppose it would be prudent for us to prepare for the worst, in any case.”

There’s a round of nodding. “Come what may, we will weather it together.” Keine announces.

Raiko grins. “I’m with Keine on this. You can count on us.”

“Shameimaru. Are you really going to just let the humans walk away with breaking into your territory and humiliating your guard?” Remilia says in a low voice.

“The mountain will make that judgement on its own.” Aya answers curtly.

“Oh, relax.” Tewi chimes in. “You say that like most of us here haven’t done something bigger.”

“So what, are you saying that we should watch as decades of work to build our influence as youkai is twisted apart by the blundering of three newcomers?” Remilia all but snarls, her fangs peeking out from her grimace.

“No, I’m saying that we should all be happy that we didn’t have to deal with Izumo getting loose into youkai mountain or the underground with a century’s worth of anger while also brain-buddies with a tortured robot and a fucking nuclear reactor.” Tewi bares her own teeth in response and stomps the floor in frustration. The disproportionately loud thump makes several people flinch. “For crying out loud, Scarlet, aren’t you a fate-weaver? Seeing the bigger picture is kinda the whole point of what we do, but if your baggage from outside the border is stopping you from understanding how an angry Hakurei with a nuke is worse than a few humans bending the rules to clean up someone else’s mess...”

“Uh, I think Tewi raises a good point, as awkward as it is for me to say.” Aya offers, tugging the end of her scarf. “I can’t exactly condone trespassing, but yes, the evidence shows that the humans did avert a very undesirable situation. We’ll have to take that into consideration.”

Sakuya places a hand on Remilia’s shoulder. Her petite frame shakes as she takes a deep breath while glaring daggers at you and your comrades.

“Then I’ll be taking my leave. We’ll contribute to Gensokyo’s safety, but don’t expect us to be so forgiving of offenses against us. Sakuya, if you would be so kind?”

Sakuya nods and reaches into a pocket on her apron. A moment later, she and her mistress are both gone with a playing card fluttering to the ground in their wake.

---

Almost everyone begins leaving one by one soon after. You take the opportunity to approach Eirin.

“Doctor. Can we talk about the AIs? I can’t think of anyone else we could trust who might have the means to help us.”

Eirin sighs. “It is unfortunate, but I was not able to bring a computer powerful enough when I defected, nor has there been a need for me to create one in the intervening time.”

Your heart sinks. Will you really be forced to deal with the Kappa again?

“However, there may be an opportunity to acquire one.” She continues, watching you intently. “I can arrange a meeting to discuss it in greater detail, but it will be dangerous.”

“Are we going to be stepping on anyone’s toes?” Junko asks, stepping in.

“No.” Eirin offers you a small smile. “You’d face deadly monsters far away from the possibility of rescue or reinforcement, but I daresay you’re well-acquainted with such situations.”

“We couldn’t have asked for a more suitable job.” You return her smile and offer your phone.

“What a rustic device. It’s rather charming.” She muses as she enters her information. “We’ll be in touch, Executor. Good night, and good work.”

---

Nearly everyone else has cleared out by now, setting off for home or discussing matters outside the manor. That leaves you three, Yuuka, and Eiki still in the parlor, where the latter two seem to be in a silent staring match.

“You’ve been hoarding power.” Eiki states, eyes narrowed. It’s not an accusation, and Yuuka makes no effort to deny it.

“What do you hope to achieve by returning to your previous might?” She goes on. “You’ve been down that path. You know it leads to nothing but desolation, for yourself and everyone around you.”

Her voice softens, becoming almost gentle. “Can you truly promise that your protection will be of any aid to them?”

Yuuka’s face is tilted down, covering her eyes from view with her hair. You see her lips move, but her reply is so quiet you barely hear it.

“I have to try.”

Eiki closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. “Very well. We both understand our duties, then.”

She turns to leave, stopping as she passes you on the wave out.

“Thank you for fulfilling my request, selfish as it was.” Eiki says to you.

You bow your head. “We have a duty of our own.”

Her smile is thin and bittersweet. “And what a cruel one it is.”

Eiki walks out the door, leaving you three alone with Yuuka.

She’s leaning forward in her seat, resting her head against clasped hands as she faces the floor.

Yuuka is tired. She’s burdened by the past, by what you found and she did today, and what she fears may yet happen.

---

[ ] Try to comfort Yuuka?
[ ] Ask her about her attachment to you
[ ] Walk away
>>No. 200528
[X] Try to comfort Yuuka.

hug the flower youkai moe
>>No. 200543
[X] Ask her about her attachment to you

there's only room in my heart for ruu-chan, but my brain has some room
>>No. 200555
[x ] Try to comfort Yuuka?
>>No. 200560
[X] Try to comfort Yuuka?

Odd, its formatted like it should be a vote, but I see no other options and no mention of write-ins.

:)
>>No. 200561
>>200560
I want to see your ideas for how to carry it out.
>>No. 200573
[X] Try to comfort Yuuka?

As I said earlier, Yuuka is the best. I'm thinking verbal acknowledgement that we're grateful for her help and appreciate it, maybe the hug if she seems receptive.
>>No. 200620
File 157293055986.jpg - (118.62KB, 550x574, tumblr_o0y3gkkNRx1qmyx2do1_1280.jpg) [iqdb]
200620
[X] Try to comfort Yuuka
Hug

---

You step in front of Yuuka. She looks up at you, and her eyes widen when you lean forward.

“What are you-”

You interrupt her by drawing her into a loose hug. You’re almost cheek to cheek, and you notice that hers are turning an impressive shade of red.

If she’s trying to say something at this point, it doesn’t manage to make it out of her throat. Yuuka neither returns nor rejects your contact, merely accepting it.

When was the last time someone hugged her? With the reputation she has, you can’t imagine that anyone’s given her affection like this since at least Gensokyo’s founding, if not further.

She hugs you back after a few more silent moments. Yuuka hesitates to put her own hands around your back, as if unsure if it’s something she deserves.

“Thank you for your help.” You say to her in a voice just above a whisper. “For all that you do to help us. For all of Gensokyo.”

Her hair carries the fragrance of flower fields and soil that’s basked in sunlight.

“I wasn’t lying, you know.” She whispers, still looking down. “I truly do wish to be a friend and ally to the three of you.”

“We believe you.” You reassure her.

She allows herself to relax, drinking in your warmth for a few more moments before pulling away.

“You know you’ve wounded my pride now, don’t you?” Yuuka says with mock seriousness, a playful glint in her eyes. “And here I thought I’d be the one offering reassurance and comfort. How do you plan on placating my wrath?”

“I’m open to suggestions.” You answer, mirroring her smile.

She wipes it off your face by leaning forward, brushing aside your hair, and pressing her lips against your forehead.

Her eyes remind you of a satisfied cat as she leans back. “A priceless expression of surprise turned out to be enough. Good night, Charlotte.”

---

Raiko saunters over to greet you as you stagger off Yuuka’s porch in a half-daze. “Seems like you still had some business with Yuuka, eh?”

“More or less.” Caleb answers for you. You’re still trying to process it.

“Hey, I wanted to tell you that I really appreciate you guys going the extra mile for those kids. Ruukoto and Mimi, right?”

“Nobody left behind and all that.” Junko shrugs. Mimi’s sleeping form bobs up with the motion, having entered hibernation mode sometime during the meeting.

“Don’t be so modest.” Raiko says. “You didn’t have to be so compassionate. Most humans wouldn’t have. Anyways, I’d like to offer you help you fixing them up, free of charge. I can’t get you guys a supercomputer or anything, but our village does have enough materials and expertise to repair their bodies, at least.”

“We’ll take all the help we can get for them.” Caleb says. “Oh, Mimi said that she’d like to be in a non-humanoid body, if you guys can accommodate that.”


Raiko only laughs at that. “Is that a challenge? Tell her to expect an early birthday present, then.”

She claps your shoulder as you prepare to take off. “Hey. I’m glad my hunch about you guys was right.” Raiko says, lowering her voice. “Gimme a call if you ever need someone to have your back, okay?”

---

You call Eirin as soon as you get home and sweep for bugs.

“Hello, Executor.” She answers on the first dial. “I take it you’ve called to hear more about my proposition?”

“Yes. We’ve been wondering what you had in mind.”


“I don’t have a supercomputer, but I do have telescopes. It’s a precaution against the Capital, you see.” She tells you. “However, we spotted something unusual recently. It’s a space station built by outsider humans, currently in a stable orbit at a lagrangian point.”

“Holy shit, you found the Torifune station?” Caleb exclaims.

“You seem familiar with it, Visionary.” She remarks with some surprise.

“It’s kind of hard to suppress the news that you’ve lost an entire space station, even if you’re Orochi.” Caleb replies. “I can’t say I’m too surprised that they apparently messed up and left everyone on it to die, since you know, they’re Orochi group.”

“Orochi?” Eirin asks.

“An extremely powerful global megacorporation.” Caleb says. “They’ve got mundane and supernatural influence across the world, but recent years have been... rough for them. Anyways, you’re telling us that you’ve got some way of getting into Torifune?”

“I have a number of lower-grade lunar veils in my posession.” She explains. “Not reliable enough for a trip to the moon, but they’ll be enough to reach the station. In addition, Torifune is close enough to the moon that slipping past the Boundary wouldn’t be necessary. However, what data I have been able to confirm suggests that the interior has been heavily compromised, with mutant flora and fauna running rampant in the arcology.”

“That’s consistent with the intel I’ve been given on Torifune’s situation.” Caleb confirms.

Eirin sighs. “The station is a highly appealing target. Not only is it in an ideal location to establish a more comprehensive listening post against the Capital, the specimens aboard hold immense value for my research. However, Reisen is the only person I would trust to deal with the level of danger on board who I can spare, and I didn’t want to risk sending her alone.”

“We could work with Reisen.” You offer. “Set up your listening post, collect your specimens, and seize our computer.”

“Yes, that is what I had in mind.” Eirin replies, chuckling. “We can all walk away satisfied with this. I have faith in your skills and experience, so I won’t try to micromanage you. Just remember that I only have enough veils for six round trips.”

---

What’s your next goal?

[ ] Try to improve your relationship with Remilia. Spellcards will probably be involved.
[ ] Ask Wakasagihime about the lead on another Hakurei that Izumo suggested following.
[ ] Gather more information on what’s going on in Makai, especially now that Marisa’s there.
[ ] Prepare to deep strike board Torifune and “borrow” its supercomputer.
>>No. 200629
[X] Try to improve your relationship with Remilia. Spellcards will probably be involved

I do want to Protecc ruu-chan but fucking off to space immediately probably isn't a good idea? After getting remi in a better mood thigh, then we fuck off to space.
>>No. 200631
[x] Ask Wakasagihime about the lead on another Hakurei that Izumo suggested following.

f i s h
>>No. 200636
[x] Ask Wakasagihime about the lead on another Hakurei that Izumo suggested following.

fish
>>No. 200639
[x] Ask Wakasagihime about the lead on another Hakurei that Izumo suggested following.

fish?
>>No. 200646
[x] Suggest setting up some sort of echo system on the radio tower.

Basically, it would be a physical device that receives ping messages from Chosen in Gensokyo, then "echoes" them to all other chosen, indirectly allowing effectively immediate communication from anywhere to anywhere.

Otherwise...

[x] Gather more information on what’s going on in Makai, especially now that Marisa’s there.


Also, side note: when we get around to it, we should probably try to get the satellite mission completed in as few trips as possible. Even if we have a fairly large number of potential attempts, it'd be pretty impolite to waste them all on a single job.
>>No. 200647
[x] Prepare to deep strike board Torifune and “borrow” its supercomputer.

Call me a fucking spaceman
>>No. 200650
ALL options are good. FUCK.

>Try to improve your relationship with Remilia. Spellcards will probably be involved.

This feels like a lost cause. If we could guarantee success, I'd go for it but...

>Ask Wakasagihime about the lead on another Hakurei that Izumo suggested following.

Anything that the old shaman said seems important... TOO important.

>Gather more information on what’s going on in Makai, especially now that Marisa’s there.

If we could find more allies, we could do multiple, simultaneous, defensive deep strikes in case things go south. And they will.

>Prepare to deep strike board Torifune and “borrow” its supercomputer.

The most important thing of 'em all. But maybe it can wait?

[x] Ask Wakasagihime about the lead on another Hakurei that Izumo suggested following.

What is she after? If we could find it, we might stand a chance against her.
>>No. 200651
File 157301527215.gif - (3.86MB, 751x514, 20000 nopes under the sea.gif) [iqdb]
200651
[x] Ask Wakasagihime about the lead on another Hakurei that Izumo suggested following.
[x] Suggest setting up some sort of echo system on the radio tower.

---

You beeline for the nearest sofa and flop face-first onto it. “We should keep future Hakurei awakenings on our terms as much as possible.” You say, muffled by the seat as you sink in into it. “I’m gonna ask Wakasagihime about what Izumo said. There’s probably another Hakurei at the bottom of Misty Lake or something.”

“Wasn’t that the one she said might be frothing at the mouth with rage?” Junko asks. She lights a cigarette but immediately puts it out with an annoyed expression. “Ah, I forgot the fairies keep coming over here. I shouldn’t smoke inside.”

“You know they’re immortal as well, right?” Caleb raises an eyebrow. “I’m pretty sure the fairies drink booze whenever they get the chance.”

“It’s the principle of it, you know?” She says, pocketing the carton. “Anyways, I think you’re right, Char. The lake’s the only real deep water on Gensokyo’s surface.”

“It’s also neutral territory, so nobody can really complain if we go for a dive.” Caleb adds. “We might still want to find a way to improve things with Remilia.”

You roll over and press your hands against your forehead. The spot where you were kissed feels strangely warm.

“I don’t know how deep the center of the lake goes. It might connect to the underground. Where would we get the equipment for that kind of exploration?”

“Ugh. I really doubt any Kappa are going to be eager about dealing with us at this point.”

“All we need is someone willing to let us buy diving gear from them” Junko offers. “Failing that..”

She shrugs. “Having this come to light is going to cause lots of upheaval. Kappa pointing fingers at each other, everyone else re-examining their dealings... wouldn’t be too hard to make a few things go missing in the confusion.”

All your phones buzz. It’s Ran’s number.

---

Hello.

Hakurei Izumo is still unaccounted for, but your work today was acceptable.
Report any relevant new information to this number.
All outgoing information referencing the Hakurei will be suppressed.
No further debrief is necessary at this time.
Standby for supply drop.

---

A loud thump sounds from the basement only a few seconds after reading the end of the message. Caleb opens the door and peeks in with his rifle drawn.

“It’s a crate of gear.” He announces, setting it on the ground from his inventory. “Looks like she cleared more supplies from our bosses.”

That rouses you from the sofa. You stand behind Junko as she pries it open, and your eyes widen at the contents.

You like what you see.

Junko whistles as she hefts a chainsaw that’s been optimized for cutting monsters instead of trees. “Oh my. Don’t mind if I do.”

She’s got some more goodies as well. There’s an assortment of melee weapons of varying shapes and sizes, as well as needles, daggers, and grenades. Meanwhile, Caleb’s examining cases of rifles and SMGs. He’s currently testing the feel of a sniper rifle in his hands.

What does Ran have for you? There’s enough material to fully replenish your stock of robotics and explosives. You wouldn’t have to worry about running out in the conceivable future unless another fight like the one at the Shrine burned through them.

It occurs to you that, with a bit of effort, you could also arm the villagers.

In any case, it’s appreciated, but you’re wondering if there’s something a little bigger...

Oh.

---

[ ] Rocket Launcher
[ ] Flamethrower

---

Yes. This will do just fine.

“We still need to report this.” Caleb announces, stowing his new gear. “Not being able to mention Hakurei cuts down on a lot, but at the very least they’ll be interested in hearing about Ruukoto and Mimi. Especially since they were made by one of yours, Char.” He frowns. “How did they end up here, again?”

You groan and bury your face in your hands. “I know their creator well enough to not want to know more.”

You look up. “I need you guys to do me a favor.”

Caleb seats himself across from you with his elbows on his knees. Junko straightens up and folds her arms as she leans against a wooden pillar.”

“Temple Hall’s orders are to recover the black box data at any cost. Mimi’s is gone, and getting it out of Ruukoto in this state will kill her. I need more time.”

“So don’t tell them that we found her?” Caleb asks.

“We have quite a bit of leeway, what with being behind the barrier and all.” Junko points out, shrugging. “We can tell them we raided the facility, recovered Mimi, but found that the blackboxes were missing. Once we fix Ruukoto at Torifune, we can make something up about having stumbled across it. What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”

“And even if they do, they can’t do much about it.” Caleb says. “We’re still accomplishing our goals, in the end.”

---

Rain started sometime while you were writing your reports or sorting your new gear and continued through the morning.

It’s a bit after daybreak when a security camera you set up raises an alarm.

“C’mon, tell me it’s some target practice.” Junko says, looking up from flipping a dagger around her fingers.

“It’s that blue umbrella tsukumogami.” You say, frowning. “Kogasa. She’s harmless.”

Caleb comes to look over your shoulder. “Really? A bucket of water over the door and a stick? Well, she’s keeping it simple.”

---

You dealt with Kogasa by...
[ ] Humoring her and pretending to be surprised
[ ] Inviting her in for breakfast
[ ] Shooing her away
>>No. 200652
[X] Rocket Launcher
[X] Inviting her in for breakfast

kogasa a cute.
Humoring probably wouldn't work, since she can probably actually feel the surprise. Then again, it might be a bucket of paint or flour or something unexpected and going into it expecting water would net her an actual surprise. Decisions...

As for the big fun, I just picked the one that seems cooler/more utility. I don't know jack about brainbee mmo so if this is some reference to the game mechanics I'm lost.
>>No. 200662
[X] Rocket Launcher

Flamethrowers are gonna be useless underwater

[X] Inviting her in for breakfast

b r e a k f e s t u m b r e l l a
>>No. 200664
[X] Rocket Launcher
[X] Inviting her in for breakfast

She will be suprised by this. I wonder if she can feed on her own suprise power?
>>No. 200666
>>200652
Forgot to describe the differences.
Rocket Launcher: Kill big things or groups from range. Specialist warheads such as EMP available. Rocket jump to gain altitude/momentum extremely fast.
Flamethrower: Kill big things or groups at close/mid range. Use suppressive fire by suppressing your enemies with fire. Specialist payloads such as liquid nitrogen available. Combos with elemental magic.
>>No. 200670
[x] Rocket Launcher
[x] Inviting her in for breakfast
I can't say no to either of these.
>>No. 200671
[X] Rocket Launcher
[X] Inviting her in for breakfast

Cute
>>No. 200679
[x] Rocket Launcher
[x] Humoring her and pretending to be surprised
>>No. 200680
... but I don't think the echo system vote actually made it into the final post. NBD, I suppose.
>>No. 200683
>>200680
My bad, I forgot about it. I'll write it in for a future update.
>>No. 200689
[x] Rocket Launcher
[x] Inviting her in for breakfast
>>No. 200709
File 157319225819.jpg - (49.54KB, 600x750, __tatara_kogasa_touhou_drawn_by_kitano_kitanosnoww.jpg) [iqdb]
200709
[X] Rocket Launcher
[X] Breakfast with Kogasa

---

The path ahead of you may be dark and full of danger, but this helps even the score. You suspect there will be no shortage of worthy targets for your rockets.

You don’t want Kogasa to faint from shock, so you stow it and motion towards the door at Junko. She nods and walks over to open it and step through.

“Woah!” She exclaims as the bucket of water comes down. She brings a hand up to knock the falling bucket aside in the midst of pretending to flail in confusion, scattering water all around her but keeping herself dry.

Kogasa, of course, is too elated to notice. “Ha! Got you good!” She says, almost jumping for joy as she comes out from behind a bush that was too small to conceal both her and her umbrella.

“Damn, you sure did.” Junko smiles at her as she fishes for a cigarette.

“You’re Kogasa, right?” You step outside to greet her with a wave. “Feeling up for some breakfast with us, or is your spooking itinerary booked full?”

“Um, well, it’s not, but is that really okay?” She seems abashed now. You get the impression that most of her prank attempts haven’t gone this well. “I mean, I’d love to, but-”

“Great, make yourself at home!” You say, taking her by the elbow and leading her inside.

---

It’s a good thing Caleb found time to grab produce from the village. It’s not that any of you mind that much, but it’d be kind of rude to serve a guest meal bars, MREs, and unhealthily potent energy drinks.

Kogasa is excited to eat what you guys manage to cook up, though. “I don’t eat that much outsider food, so this is fun.” She explains to Caleb between bites. “Oh, and the food’s good too, of course!”

“You were wrong about her being harmless, Char.” Junko says as she watches Kogasa’s beaming face. “She’s so adorable that it’s painful.”

“Oh, before I forget, Raiko wanted me to help you guys with something!” She says, standing up. “You guys rescued two tsukumogami yesterday, right? I can figure out what materials they need for repair. Raiko says she’ll cover the repair costs, so don’t worry about it.”

“She told us as much.” You reply, swallowing. “They’re in bad shape, though. Are you sure you can handle it?”

Kogasa nods earnestly. “Leave it to me.”

You lead her to the couch where Ruukoto and Mimi are currently laid down on, both in hibernation.

Kogasa’s hands fly to her mouth in shock when she sees their condition. “Who would do such a thing to these kids?”

“It wasn’t us.” Caleb says. “Some kappa decided to push their luck, and the results weren’t pretty.”

“Poor things...” She murmurs as she traces her fingers over their jagged wounds.

You hand her a few sheets of paper. “I wrote up some documentation of their body’s specifications. They’re both badly damaged, but Ruukoto will probably want to keep her current shell. Fixing the damage to her limbs, internals, and cosmetics will be all you’d need to worry about. Mimi, though, wants to just be inserted into an entirely new shell. She gave me a few suggestions beforehand, but none of them are humanoid.”

“Yes, I think I can make something work for them... wait, they’re not tsukumogami?” Kogasa asks, blinking alongside her umbrella.

“No. They’re artificial intelligences, more like Alice’s dolls, but fully aware.” You tell her.

“Wow. The outside must be a fascinating place.” She says.

“Eh, it’s ok. Gensokyo’s plenty interesting as well.” You tell her.

“Speaking of Alice, Marisa seems to have gone to Makai on her own to look for her.”

You blink. “Well, that’d explain why she didn’t show up last night. How’d she do it?”

“She opened a portal up somewhere and went through.” Kogasa explains. “At least, that’s what Raiko said that the sign on her door said.”

You pinch the bridge of your nose. “Yeah, this is what I mean, Kogasa. There’s not many places where people hang “Closed - Gone to Hell” signs on their doors.”

That’s just swell. With how the flow of time fluctuates in the hell dimensions, it’s going to be hard to predict how much havoc Marisa will cause. She already made a mess of things last time. You’d almost say that she couldn’t make it much worse, but experience tells you that people like her take it as a challenge.

“Thanks for letting me know.” You tell her. “And thanks for coming over to help with the AIs.”

She smiles again. “No problem! I’m always glad when I can help someone, and I’ve been meaning to meet you for a while anyway.”

“Char, sorry to interrupt your fanclub, but Junko and I are heading out to the radio tower.” Caleb pings from the next room. “She’s got a plan for fixing the range issues on pinging.”

“Cool. I guess we’ll know soon enough if it works.” You reply as they bid Kogasa farewell and leave.

“So, uh, did I live up to your expectations?” You ask her.

Kogasa nods, smiling brightly. “Yep! I heard that you were really strong for a human and weren’t afraid of youkai, but also nice. And they were right! You guys are nice!” Her face turns red as she looks to the side. “Well, I guess I’d have liked it if you were a little afraid, heh...”

“Anyways, Raiko and the Tsukumogami with her are pretty fond of you guys.” She goes on. “When I’m working in the village, I hear some humans say that they want you guys to do more for them, but I guess you’re pretty busy. I think they all pretty much like having you around, though.”

“And Mamizou?” You ask.

“Ah, her?” Kogasa isn’t bothered by the question. “I actually didn’t get the chance to ask. I mean, she seemed interested to me, but word on the street is that she left to see an old friend sometime yesterday.”

You’re assuming that Nue isn’t the person in question. Mamizou knows Ran, possibly better than nearly anyone else if she’s right about Ran’s new identity, but you really weren’t getting ‘friend’ vibes from that relationship.

Could she have known the Hakurei?

“Well, thanks for coming over, Kogasa.” You tell her. “You’re welcome to come back whenever you want, even if it’s not for work.”

---

You say goodbye to Kogasa and set up a nest of sentry guns and sensors to watch over Mimi and Ruukoto. If someone tries to steal them from under your nose after all they’ve gone through, you might actually kill them, spellcard rules or not.

It looks like Caleb was trying to do something with the butterfly scale-like dust you found on your eyes after one of those weird dreams. There’s a vial holding a liquid suspension of it, and looking through the solution makes the world seem off somehow. Not in the usual way that could be explained by the distortion of the liquid or curved glass... Well, you trust Caleb to not do anything stupid.

You do make sure to lock it away from Ruukoto and Mimi, though.

After making your preparations, you depart and fly over to Wakasagihime’s cove.

You hear her before you see her. She’s sitting on a boulder close to the shore, singing a clear, wordless melody that pierces the mist like sunlight through water.

It’s beautiful. Unfortunately, you have business with her.

She gives you a wave and a smile as you land next to her. “Oh hello, Charlotte.” She says, scooting over to give you more room. “Did you like it?”

“Second in beauty only to yourself.” You say. “But I’m afraid I have something important to ask of you.”


“Oh, I see.” She says, trying to cover her blush with her sleeves. Her tail shows less composure, swishing around in the water. “I’d be glad to help in any way I can.”

You take a deep breath. “Can you show me the final resting place of Hakurei Futaba?”

Wakasagihime goes still. “Why do you want to know?” She asks. The only movement comes from the lingering ripples.

“The Hakurei aren’t dead.” You explain, keeping your voice calm. “They were asleep. They’re waking up now, and my friends and I need to make sure they don’t hurt anyone in the process.”

“Futaba...” Wakasagihime shakes her head. “The stories of my people say that she came to no good end, as did all of her line before Reimu’s mother. She died fighting for my people’s safety, among other things.”

She looks into your eyes for a few moments before speaking. “I think there are things you can’t or won’t tell me... but I trust you, Charlotte.”

Wakasagihime turns her gaze to the center of the lake. “Futaba’s grave is at the bottom of Misty Lake, where the water is cold, crushing, and lightless.”

You already don’t like where this is going.

“What’s more is that the path is said to only be revealed to other Hakurei. Not even we know its exact location.” She goes on. “Death lurks close by at those depths. We merfolk dare not linger. For a human to attempt it...”

Wakasagihime turns back to you and clasps her hands around yours. “I’ll help you, but promise me that you’ll come back. Don’t chase it to the point of running out of breath.”

“I won’t.”


“I’m serious. I’ll drag you back to the surface myself if I have to, no matter how close you say you are.”

“I know.” You answer. “I trust you too.”

A faint smile appears on her face. “Thank you. Do you have a means to breathe underwater?”

“We were going to see what equipment we could get from the Kappa.” You say, trying to phrase it as inconspicuously as you can.

“Oh. Well, there is another way...” She says, her tail starting to swish again. “It’s an old spell that hasn’t been used much in a long time. I don’t know if you’d prefer it, though...unless?

“That depends. What is it?”

“A ki... kiss.” She says, face turning bright red.

---

[ ] You’re flattered, but no thanks.
[ ] Very well.
[ ] Squish the fish.
>>No. 200710
[x] Squish the fish.

I have no idea what this means but it sounds hilarious
>>No. 200711
[x] Squish the fish.
I can't say no to this either.
>>No. 200712
[X] Squish the fish.

What if we kissed in the Misty Lake😳
😳Just kidding... unless? 😳
>>No. 200720
>You say goodbye to Kogasa and set up a nest of sentry guns and sensors to watch over Mimi and Ruukoto. If someone tries to steal them from under your nose after all they’ve gone through, you might actually kill them, spellcard rules or not.

Imagine someone having the gall to try that. Let's see how they dodge a bullet hell made of actual bullets.

>[ ] Very well.

Let's go with this. I'd rather not owe anything to the kappa and..

>[ ] Squish the fish.

Wait hahahah what the fuck is this?


[x] Squish the fish.

I can't not take it. Go for broke!
>>No. 200722
[x] Squish the fish.

F I S H
>>No. 200723
[x] Very well.

For purely practical reasons, of course.
>>No. 200724
[x] Very well.
>>No. 200730
[x] Kiss the fish.
>>No. 200733
[x] Very well.
>>No. 200761
File 157335668868.jpg - (1.64MB, 2375x3584, Kuwana_-_The_sailor_Tokuso_and_the_sea_monster.jpg) [iqdb]
200761
[X] Squish the Fish

---

That was definitely one of the better kisses you’ve experienced in your life. She might have gotten a bit... engrossed towards the end, but you can’t really say you mind.
You stick your head underwater and take an experimental breath. It’s weird, but you aren’t drowning.

The water feels heavy in your lungs, requiring more effort to pump it in and out than air. It’s cool to the point of being chilly, and it carries the taste of lake weeds and silt.

“This is going to take some adjustment.” Your words escape as silvery bubbles.

“You’re adjusting well, though.” Wakasagihime swims ahead of you with a grace most here don’t match in the air. “Most of the villagers don’t swim as well as you.”

There’s a residual blush from the kiss on her face, and she still can’t bring herself to meet your eyes for more than seconds at a time. She still looks pretty pleased with herself.

“It was part of training.” You tell her. “In any event, I’d feel pretty embarrassed if you had to lend me an inner tube to get there.”

“Oh, right. Are you sure you can dive that deep without any more surprises?”


“I’ve got a wetsuit packed away somewhere. It hasn’t seen that much use, but it comes in handy. I think I’m set, unless there’s some kind of hostile creature down there. Underwater combat complicates my options more than the others.”

“There are some fearsome creatures around, but they shouldn’t be hostile.” Wakasagihime says. “The real danger is getting lost or stuck and running out of air.”

“Oh, right. There’s not much dissolved oxygen that deep in lakes, right? I remember reading about it before.”

“That’s right. I’m going to bring air bladders for us, but we still can’t stay forever.”

You nod and wave goodbye for now as she swims away. Smaller fish creep out from the vegetation to investigate you while you consider what to do next.

Is there anyone else who might help? Spectres don’t need to breathe, but you’d have to be incredibly foolish to invite Murasa to follow you into these depths. It’d probably best to let things calm down with the Kappa for now, as well. Maybe you could ask Komachi for help? Surely this task is important enough that Eiki wouldn’t begrudge you for borrowing her subordinate.

“This is Junko from the Forest of Magic radio tower. Char, you copy?”

You perk up. “I read you. It’s a little choppy, but you’re coming through. How’d you figure something out so quickly?”

“The Anima Well was already growing into the structure, and Caleb used a blood ritual to coax the plant life to grow in a more useful shape.”

“More or less.” He cuts in. “I’m worried that fairies are going to break it while we’re not here, though. They started showing up in force after we started working, and they seem to have taken an interest in what we’re doing.”

“They’re cute and you know it.” Junko teases. “I’m sure it’d be improved if you took a look at it, but at least we’ve got something. I don’t think it can transmit or receive outside of Gensokyo, though.”


“So nothing from Makai or the rest of the world.” You sum up. “Probably not Torifune, either.”

“Yep. No reason to not be happy with our effort, though. How’s things on your end?”

---

“Yeah, we’re prepared to dive as well.” Caleb says after listening to your recap. “You know we don’t need to worry about running out of air, right? I mean, what’s the nearest Well again?”

“It’s the SDM gardens.” Junko says. “Do you really want to deal with them right now?”

“Point taken. I guess it would make Wakasagi squeamish, anyways.” He sighs. “Hey, were the fairies always this friendly? It’s not just me, is it?”

“What do you mean?” You ask.

“There’s a butterfly-looking one literally clinging to my back right now.” He answers.

“Maybe the ones living in the forest are more touchy-feely.” Junko offers. “Anyways, have you thought more about who might be willing to lend a hand? Searching with just four of us will be a lot of individual work, even with your drones fanning out.”

“I agree that having Minamitsu even remotely nearby is asking for a fight.” Caleb says. “In fact, I think we might as well contact Myourenji just to ask them to keep her far away while we’re working. Apart from that, Komachi’s a good choice, assuming that she’s not off slacking somewhere. Maybe Iku would be up for it?”

“You think she’s still got enough oarfish in her to handle diving there?” You ask.

“We might as well ask.” Junko says. “I got her contact info from that time I knocked Tenshi around a bit. Bhava-Agra has a stake in this as well.”

---

[ ] Ask Iku for help
[ ] Ask Komachi for help
[ ] Ask someone else
[ ] Don’t bring additional people, start sooner
>>No. 200764
[x] Don’t bring additional people, start sooner
>>No. 200768
[x] Don’t bring additional people, start sooner
>>No. 200821
File 157353385075.webm - (368.20KB, 720x404, Dean's Blue Hole - A Rope to Nope.webm) [iqdb]
200821
[X] Go alone

---

“Uh, Charlotte, is your friend okay?” Junko asks.

Wakasagihime currently looks like she’s been drinking. Her face is red, her eyes are glazed, and she’s almost panting. Her smile is best described as ‘dazed’.

In retrospect, meeting three athletic outsiders in form-fitting wetsuits and kissing all of them may have been a bit much for Wakasagihime to endure.

“I’m okayyy...” She slurs. “Oh... I just need... a moment...”

“Quite the romantic, isn’t she?” Caleb jokes. “Anyways, I told Ran we’d be diving. Hopefully she has a contingency for a rampaging Hakurei.”

---

The swim to the center of the lake is uneventful, the lingering mist blocking attention from anyone who might happen to spot you.

“I didn’t find a bottom to this the first time I scanned the area.” You announce. All of you but Wakasagi are clinging to a buoy set by village fishermen. “Any idea how far we’ll have to go?”

“There’s a limit based on the maximum amount of air we have. That’s descent, ascent, and the actual search.” Wakasagi says, mostly recovered from her earlier intoxication. “I’ll show you once we get that far. Charlotte did say that you didn’t need to worry about decompression, though. Is it true? I don’t want to have to find out later.”

“It’s true.” Caleb says. “Actually, we can just, uh, teleport out if we’re out of air, so we humans will be able to increase our diving time. We can’t bring other people with us, so you should still be careful.”

Wakasagi doesn’t look to sure, but accepts his words when she sees you and Junko nod along.

“You got the anchor ready, Junko?” You ask.

“What anchor?” Wakasagi asks. From the way she’s squinting at Junko, she must be wondering where on her person she could hope to conceal anything bulky.

“I’ve got this weight I made from scrap that I can conjure up.” Junko explains. “Charlotte explained how the inventory works, right?”

“Yes, but are you sure that letting a box of junk drag you to the bottom of the wise?” She asks, still dubious. “Please forgive me for saying so, but it seems rather macabre.”

“Heh, you’re worrying too much. The three of us have been doing this for years now and we’re still here.” Junko reassures her while omitting the many, many resurrections you’ve all racked up.

“Besides, there’s also the emergency teleport we have set up.” Caleb says. “We’ve been using it for a long time and it hasn’t failed us yet.”

“Okay, that sounds safer.” Wakasagi says. She’s thoughtfully nodding, oblivious to the exact means of that one-way teleport.

“Everyone good?” Junko looks around and then swims off towards the edge of the deep lake with you and Caleb following. She raises a hand. “Get ready!”

The makeshift anchor, little more than a box packed with scrap metal and lashed with rope, appears without fanfare in front of her and crashes into the water. Caleb and Junko grab sections of rope and disappear beneath the waves moments later. You follow after helping Wakasagihime take hers, and are the last to go under.

---

Your breath and the rushing of water past your ears are the only sounds that accompany you on your descent.

You pass the warm layer quickly, the deeper mass of cold water causing you to shudder as you descend. The light fades more slowly, though you all have your lamps on after a minute.

Visibility is good, but all that does is set you further on edge. There’s nothing to see above but the remnants of light from above and a darkness that feels like a swallowing maw from below.

“We should let go soon.” Wakasagihime says. “I don’t want to risk getting caught down here.”

“Got it.” You say, then pass the message down the line. You’re all about to jump off when something else makes the decision for you.

The anchor impacts the lakebed with a muffled thump, sending up a cloud of sediment that blocks your lamps.

“Well, it’s not bottomless.” Caleb says as he swims over. “What’s our depth?”

You check the readings. “We’re around a hundred meters underwater.”

He whistles, the sound barely recognizable through the water’s distortion. “Let’s get going then. Princess, you alright?”

Wakasagihime nods. “Let’s not stay long.”

You tap a command into your phone, and a dozen drones fly off your rigging. Each of you follows one of the pinpricks of light into the darkness.

---

It’s not fair to say that you find nothing. In fact, were you an archaeologist, this would be an exciting expedition. The four of you are finding enough outside world detritus from all the way in the distant past to what you suspect may somehow be the near future embedded in the gray-brown mud.

“Unless Futaba’s buried in a broken washing machine from a brand I’ve never heard of, I’m not getting anything here.” Junko reports over comms. “How about you guys? You holding up ok, Waggy?”

“Nothing related to the Hakurei.” She says. “Though it is interesting to be able to pick through an area so rich in salvage. Charlotte, could I make a trade for one of these machines?”

“Their design is proprietary, unfortunately.” You tell her, rummaging through a pile of bicycles. “I could make you own of another design, though. We can work out the details later- gah!”

You pull your hand back from the jagged metal that cut it, silently cursing your carelessness.

“Char, danger?” Caleb cuts in.

“No, no, I just cut my hand.” You say, frustrated.

Something glints in the gloom.

You sweep your lamp over to see the faint red cloud of your blood. Instead of diffusing away, it’s moving as though being pulled towards a certain direction.

“Wakasagi, I need you to confirm something for me.” You say. “Oh, there’s no sharks or anything here, right?”

“No, why?”

“This is going to sound weird, but...” You take a deep breath. “I would like you to prick your skin and see if the blood reacts strangely. Watch it closely. Trust me on this.”

“Um... Very well.” She says. “No, nothing’s out of the ordinary.”

“Alright, that’s helpful to know.” You sigh. “There’s something down here reacting to Anima. We’ve probably found our lead.”

---

[ ] Add a small amount of your blood
[ ] Add a larger amount of your blood
[ ] Other
>>No. 200822
[x] Add a small amount of your blood

Let's not kill ourselves, shall we?
>>No. 200823
[x] Get a closer look

Maybe don't feed the mysterious thing at the bottom of the lake until you know what it is?
>>No. 200825
[X] Add a larger amount of Caleb's blood

He's the blood mage, he's probably got blood to spare. Ask his opinion first though.
And don't have Junko bleed herself at all, just in case. We've already bled, as has Wakasagihime, and even if he doesn't bleed himself here Caleb will have to if we need healing, so if it matters Junko should try to not bleed.

Describing the resurrection as an emergency teleport, lel. Imagine:
> "Alright, I'm teleporting out, you head back"
> Pulls out gun, shoots self in head
>>No. 200830
[X] Add a larger amount of Caleb's blood

Oh, right, Blood mage. He should know about this stuff.

Also, lul "emergency teleport"
>>No. 200832
[X] Add a small amount of Caleb's blood
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