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25288 No. 25288
Even now, the barrier is breaking.

Years ago, when the Grand Opening took place, before the Spiral Exodus or even the Demon's Plague had come to pass, this world already started to change. A reflection on the hemisphere surrounding it, which became more and more visible since that day. It reflected this ugly, ever-changing world that grew more and more corrupt with every second that passed…

「ーTick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.」

Steam power became more popular. During the Spiral Exodus, a large amount of coal was discovered beneath the land where Youkai Mountain once stood. The Kappa race was thrilled, and was quick to build an extensive myriad of steam-powered gadgets that operated with gears and chains, which seemed somewhat nostalgic. The steam rose, and started to hide the ugly reflection of this world, as well as the sun that lit it.

「ーTick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.」

Yes, the sun itself vanished from our sky. The moon was also obscured, and as a result, nobody was too sure when some youkai may receive a boon from that full moon. To compensate for the sun's departure, the unseen hand crafted a nuclear sun, which radiated somewhere within the smoke. Nobody saw it, and nobody has seen it. It's rumored that Yukari personally crafted it, though it's much more likely she had someone else do it. The Sun's Birth was another big event, and this world's form became more absolute.

『ーTick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.』

What is it that crafted this sun? I have no idea. It's merely there, even though nobody has seen its form. Whether it's real or not is in the balance… The purple sun and the purple garbed woman rumored to be behind it. How can one woman cause so much change? I have no idea. The purple sun, the nuclear sun. Whether it's real or not is in the balance… Much like Gensokyo itself.

『ーTick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.』

That's when it happened. Six months after Gensokyo was opened, the Kappa race had already polluted the sky with steam. The nuclear sun filled the new sky. Yukari's fortress from the center towered into that sky. And then… Death fell from the sky. The Demon's Plague was unleashed, and ravaged the lives of innocent men and women all over the Shapeless World. Children died in their parent's arms, and women died in their husband's. It was merciless, and consumed everything it touched. Just like The Devil rumored to be behind it and so many other things.

『ーTick tock tick tock tick tock.』

Even now, even now, this world spins. It spins, it spins, it spins. Constantly pointing to the center, where Yukari and her four agents dwell. Where those four agents and their four servants dwell. Where those four servants and their four palaces reside. North, East, South, West. The Demon's Plague consumes all and spread out in all directions, and it spins. It's spinning towards the center, running to its Master. She who is The Devil? Perhaps. Nobody knows its master. Nobody knows our sun's master. The master of this city, however, is a certain thing.

『ーTick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock.』

The clock keeps ticking, the hands keep moving, and those hands will never move in reverse. They move forward, spinning, spinning, spinning. They continue to move in a circle, the gears shift, the steam is blown out, the belts turn, and the metal gleams. Everything just keeps spinning, moving and never resting. This world refuses to rest. This Shapeless World keeps moving because it isn't allowed to keep any one form. Families move, families die. New families move into their old apartments and do the same. This world ーkeeps spinning.

『ーTick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick』
『ーtock.』

Looking into the center of the watch, I see myself. The me who was born ten years ago after I moved to this awful place, and became a member of this Shapeless World. All that I desire. Everything I am. I continue to spin, spin, spin. Never stopping, always changing. The me of ten years ago continues to change, because I, too, am formless. Nobody has a real form. We're all shapeless, and The Puppeteer makes us spin, spin… spin.

Gazing into that watch, I reflect on my reflection. My ugly reflection. Not clouded by the steam. Who am I? This isn't me. I died ten years ago. That's when the real me died, and this spinning puppet was born. I continue to spin… The Puppeteer won't let me stop. But in this moment, I can see who the current me is. Who am I? I am someone born ten years ago. What am I? I'm human, of course… Who am I?

[ ] I'm… Broken. Who I once was is broken, and all that's left is this sad shell, wishing to do something, to reach out my hand and change this world.
[ ] I'm… Shapeless. I continue to change for my desires, and will do as I please. This world was created for me to increase. This Shapeless World will decrease, so that I may… increase?
[ ] I'm… Shattered. The people who made me what I once was, where are they? I can only move on. Spin faster, faster, and head for this Shapeless World's core.

>> No. 25289
[x] I'm… Shattered. The people who made me what I once was, where are they? I can only move on. Spin faster, faster, and head for this Shapeless World's core.
>> No. 25290
Steampunk Touhou? You have my attention.

[X] I'm… Shapeless. I continue to change for my desires, and will do as I please. This world was created for me to increase. This Shapeless World will decrease, so that I may… increase?
>> No. 25293
[x] I'm… Broken. Who I once was is broken, and all that's left is this sad shell, wishing to do something, to reach out my hand and change this world.

Not exactly fond of the implications of the other two.
>> No. 25294
[x] I'm… Shattered. The people who made me what I once was, where are they? I can only move on. Spin faster, faster, and head for this Shapeless World's core.
hmmmmmmmm
>> No. 25295
Just a quick note. As you should have guessed, this decision will choose your protagonist. However, it doesn't mean that the other two are just going to fade away. You'll get your main character, for sure, but the other two characters will still be present in the story, even if they aren't chosen.
>> No. 25296
[X] I'm… Shattered. The people who made me what I once was, where are they? I can only move on. Spin faster, faster, and head for this Shapeless World's core.

Post-apocalyptic and steampunk? I'm on board.
>> No. 25297
[x] I'm… Shattered. The people who made me what I once was, where are they? I can only move on. Spin faster, faster, and head for this Shapeless World's core.
>> No. 25298
[X] I'm… Shattered. The people who made me what I once was, where are they? I can only move on. Spin faster, faster, and head for this Shapeless World's core.

Aren't shattered things broken also, by definition? Unless they were designed to be shattered, I guess.
>> No. 25299
>>25295
Yeah but I wonder if people are picking the shattered one due to the TTGL sound of things. That's what I'm wondering. It'll be interesting to see who these protagonists are, and might they be able to join up at some point?
>> No. 25303
[X] I'm… Shapeless. I continue to change for my desires, and will do as I please. This world was created for me to increase. This Shapeless World will decrease, so that I may… increase?

This sounds like a shape shifter to me.

Beware Yukari, for you time is nigh! Anonymous comes, and we hunger!
>> No. 25307
>>25303
That's among the implications I was worried about. The Shattered one? the remark about drilling downwards seems to suggest a self-destructive property.
>> No. 25308
[X] I'm… Shapeless. I continue to change for my desires, and will do as I please. This world was created for me to increase. This Shapeless World will decrease, so that I may… increase?
>> No. 25311
The vote's called for Shattered. I'll have an update up in a little bit.
>> No. 25312
File 126668113488.jpg - (14.80KB , 300x224 , A City Without Reflection.jpg ) [iqdb]
25312
With a loud thump, my head slams into the bar.

…That's right, my name is Kojiko. After moving to this place 10 years ago… Yes, my family died. All of them were killed either by youkai during the confusion of the Demon's Plague, or they were killed by the Demon's Plague itself. It's been only me living in that shoddy little apartment for the past 6 years, since I was cheated out of my family's possessions by city authorities. All that I have left is…

The noise of breaking glass, and then of glass scraping on metal. Turning my head, I can see the person who woke me up from my nightmare of the past ten years. They don't seem very friendly.

「Hey, shit head! What do you think you're doing passing out in my bar? You'll lose your teeth for being such a dumbass! Aaaaaahhh!!」

The drunk man rushes towards me, as his small table of friends cheers him on. My mind warns me of danger, and I know I should be running, but… I can't do anything. The world is spinning too fast, and my eyes are too hazy. Content to watch the drunkard approach, the rustle of chains by my ear catches me offguard. A large shape made of hard metal slams into the drunkard's gut, sending him to the ground.

「F… Fuuuuuck! That hurt, you goddamned bitch! Why don't you keep running this brothel and let us have our fuuー auuugh!」

Another shape slams into the man's stomach, this time a stained metal triangle. It flies back to the space behind the bar, drawing my eyes towards its owner as it lands, with a thud, in her hands.

『…Yuugi, is that good? Should I throw another one at him, Yuu~gi?』

『No, I think that should be good. The man's already spewing up his sake, and I doubt his friends want to mess with the Demonic Duo! Ahahaha!!』

『Nyahahahahahaha!!』

「Shut up, you goddamned dykes!」

A chorus of heavy thuds ring out as the smaller bartender clobbers the man's friends, who had just started running towards the bar. They fall over in short order, and the two bartenders stand in their place, proudly gazing at the toppled drunks.

『Seriously... We started this brothel because of how much we love to drink, and end up getting jerks like them coming in. I think we should have a No Assholes Policy, or something like that.』

『Nyahaha, yeah! That way only honest people like us can drink here!』

The bar, which had grown quiet watching the spectacle, goes back to their usual clinking and clanking of mugs on dishes. Up above, a steam-powered clock shoots out fumes, hissing as it does so. As the world recovers and starts to spin again, the taller of the two bartenders plops her elbows on the bar and gazes into my face, grinning.

『So, Kojiko. Did those stupid dishonest people shake you up too much, or are you in the mood for another bottle?』

『Oh, oh! Oh oh oh! You can drink with me if you feel good! Let's drink and tell stories about ten years ago, talk about Ancient Gensokyo and how things used to be! Come on come on come ooooon!』

[ ] "I… Urgh, I don't actually feel too good. Home sounds like a good place to cope with a hangover."
[ ] "Sure, but I'm not a silly drunk like you two. It's not like you need a liver in this city, anyway."
>> No. 25313
[x] "Sure, but I'm not a silly drunk like you two. It's not like you need a liver in this city, anyway."

Ah, Suika and Yuugi.

Question, why a brothel and not a bar?
>> No. 25314
[x] "Sure, but I'm not a silly drunk like you two. It's not like you need a liver in this city, anyway."
>> No. 25315
[x] "Sure, but I'm not a silly drunk like you two. It's not like you need a liver in this city, anyway."
>> No. 25338
[X] "Sure, but I'm not a silly drunk like you two. It's not like you need a liver in this city, anyway."
>> No. 25342
>>25313
good point, since it seems like a english screw up.

[x] "Sure, but I'm not a silly drunk like you two. It's not like you need a liver in this city, anyway."

So we're hanging around with Onis, if not one ourself.
>> No. 25344
File 126670947150.jpg - (212.22KB , 269x700 , A City Without Reflection.jpg ) [iqdb]
25344
>>25342
It isn't.
ーーーーー

『…Sure, but I'm not a silly drunk like you two. Besides… It's not like you need a liver in this city, anyway.』

After receiving a bottle from Ms. Yuugi, the foamy drink slides down my throat. The clinks and clanks of the bar continue, and a dull beating sound can be heard from somewhere beyond the wall. Probably a sound coming from the brothel.

『To this city's death! Tonight is a party night from hell!』

『Nyahahahaha! Watch the lights gleam, see the lamp posts burn! We don't care, it's a party from hell!』

Saying that, the two horned women clink their drinks against eachother and begin to intoxicate themselves. A customer's change drops to the floor as he reaches into his pocket. He doesn't have to reach down to get it, though. This customer has been bitten by the Demon's Plague, and as a result, his features bear some similarities to the great Ayakashi. After gathering the change with his tentacled fingers, he turns his attention to the two bartenders while passing me a side-long glance.

「Sounds like your brothel is in good business, gals. How much are you raking in from that whorehouse of yours, eheheh? You've got some pretty girls in there, so I'd be willing to bet that you could challenge Lady Yukari with your fortunes, eheheh?」

『Nope, that's the girl's money, not ours.』

『Aha, yeah! They work really hard for it, so we make money with honest customers!』

『Yeah, the girls have business with a lot of dishonest men. There's barely a single one that sees them which isn't a liar.』

「Ah, what a shame. You two could be so much better off if you would just pull in the profits from that work. Eheheh, it's a shame, a real pity, it is.」

『I can see what they mean. They're the two most honest people in this Shapeless World, so they would have no business making a profit off of other people's work.』

The man makes a croaking noise, and nods appropriately. Seeing that hardly any of his drink is left, he slides his tongue into the bottle and saps up the last of the poison.

「That's respectable, ladies. My hat would be off to you, if I could find a hat appropriate for my head. Good day, or night. Either way, I'll see you gals later, eheheh.」

Saying that, he turns and plops off his seat. With a few scurrying motions, the man is lost in the bar, and the far door opens and then closes once more.

『Ahahaha… I hope those girls are okay. Sheila looked really sad the last time I saw her…』

『She's fine, she's fine! Don't worry yourself. She brings in a lot of cash, and gets a lot as a result. 』

『You two… Geez, each time I drink with you you become serious and start worrying about things. That's no fun at all.』

『I guess it's the only time we have to think about such things… Ahaha…』

『Nyahaha…』

『I'm out of here, seeya.』

Saying that, I turn and plop off of my seat. With a swiping motion, I pay the bill and disappear into the bar. The far door opens, and then closes once more.

…The nuclear sun is still shining, even now. There's actually a business in blocking that thing out at six PM every night, and letting the smog thin a little at seven AM so the nuclear sun's light reaches us again. I worked in a factory like that for some time, but now… I'm a dishonest person.

Just as I think of the nuclear sun going out, the light starts to dim and the lampposts light up. City management is declaring it to be six in the evening. Sighing to myself, I look out at the crowded street before me, wondering if there's anything I should do before heading home.

[ ] I may as well visit that dishonest rabbit. She may be able to tell me something interesting about city management, if I pay the right price.
[ ] My boss might have a job for me. It wouldn't hurt to go check, I don't think.
[ ] There's nothing else to do. It's time to head for home.
>> No. 25345
[x] My boss might have a job for me. It wouldn't hurt to go check, I don't think.

I wonder who the boss man is.
>> No. 25346
[x] My boss might have a job for me. It wouldn't hurt to go check, I don't think.
>> No. 25349
[x] My boss might have a job for me. It wouldn't hurt to go check, I don't think.
Underground MC? Sounds nice.
>> No. 25354
[X] I may as well visit that dishonest rabbit. She may be able to tell me something interesting about city management, if I pay the right price.

Tewi~
>> No. 25387
[x] My boss might have a job for me. It wouldn't hurt to go check, I don't think.

You had me at steam. Really, this shows plenty of promise.
>> No. 25425
Sorry about the lack of updates on Sunday, I'm thinking that weekends will be kind of like a break. I'll be back in a while with an update, though.
>> No. 25439
[x] I may as well visit that dishonest rabbit. She may be able to tell me something interesting about city management, if I pay the right price.

Tewi strikes me as more of a mafia boss than an information broker.
>> No. 25447
File 126689134482.jpg - (12.58KB , 319x480 , A City Without Reflection.jpg ) [iqdb]
25447
…At a time like this, the boss would probably be looking to have a lot of jobs done. The underworld thrives in the night, so it just makes sense. Looking at my pocketwatch, I confirm the time as being one after six. I also notice that my tie is loose, probably from being at the bar. Putting the chrome plated device back into my vest pocket, I correct my tie and head towards my destination.

「City management is making an announcement soon! I can't wait!」

「Maybe it'll be a new drug to combat the Demon's Plague? The last one they issued worked on my brother, but I still have these gills.」

「Most likely. I heard that the new candidate for our subsection's mayor will be making a speech right afterwards. I hope he doesn't try to take credit for this by saying he was the one who sent a request to city management about it. He's so full of himself.」

Those voices reach my ears. Mostly useless ramble, as usual. The only reason I listen to such things is because the term "city management" pops up every now and then.

「City management sucks. They don't care about us and think we're a bunch of mutant swine that make their city a pigsty.」

「Don't say such things! If they heard you, you'd be at the detention center in no time at all! None!」

…Yeah, useless rambling. Pressing on, I try to ignore the voices of all the stupid streetgoers, and focus on my goal. The boss better have a well paying assignment for me, because if he doesn't then I'll be pissed.

…Okay, I don't have a reason to be. I'm the one who wanted to go looking for work, afterall.

After ducking into a back alley and cutting across a busy street, I finally reach the boss's hideout. After knocking on the door, it takes a few moments for Toadie to peer through the eyeslot.

「Yeah, whaddya want wiー Oh, Kojiko! Whaddya want with the boss?」

『Hey Toadie. I was bored and used up a lot of money tonight, so I thought I'd look for an assignment. Is there any job the boss wants done in the next few hours?』

「Yeah, sure. The boss wants all kindsa jobs done. This is a busy biz, afterall. What kind of job are you after?」

『…One where I can lay low for a little bit. My head's still pounding a little from the drink, so I don't think really physical stuff is the right choice right now.』

「Oh, alright. I think I have a good job for ya, but not if you stand around out there like a dope. Come in and I'll go over things with you.」

[ ] Decline his offer.
[ ] Accept his offer.
>> No. 25449
[x] Accept his offer.

Why not?
>> No. 25452
[ø] Accept his offer.
>> No. 25453
[x] Accept his offer.
>> No. 25464
[X] Accept his offer.
>> No. 25480
Not enough information to account for a refusal at this point anyway.
>> No. 25486
File 126698727368.jpg - (18.83KB , 400x265 , A City Without Reflection.jpg ) [iqdb]
25486
『Sure, yeah.』

The peephole flaps shut, and a small clinking noise lets me know that he locked it, as protocol dictates. The grating sound that follows hurts my ears, which I can't help but grab. Cringing, I endure the noise just a little longer, soon hearing the familiar sound of gears turning and the door sliding on its unoiled hinges.

「Get your ugly mug in here. The boss doesn't like dopes who don't know a doorway from a fold-up poster.」

This must've been the fifth time this month that he's greeted me that way. Stepping lightly over the threshold, I relax my tie and plop down into a large, comfortable chair.

「…That's my chair, you slug. Take the sofa if you're bushed, but nobody gets my chair but me. Noone.」

『I got it, I got it. Keep your tongue rolled up in your mouth, you damned gross frog.』

Laying on the couch, I cross my legs one over the other and halfass an uninterested demeanor. I know Toadie can read my mood, so there's not much of a point to this charade. It's become a habitual practice, though, so I can't really help it.

「Alright, the job I got planned is to whack a threat to the boss. You've been on these assignments with Housuke and Jerry before, yeah?」

Nodding is an okay response. I'm content with that, so extra effort isn't worth it, yeah? Nobody would waste that kind of strength on Toadie.

「The prick will be in a pretty public place some time between eight and eight thirty, which would usually be an issue. The spot is right in front of an abandoned complex, though, so you can just lay low for an hour and then blow his brains out.」

Gesturing his fingers like a gun, he pretends to blow his own brains out and lets his long tongue fall from his mouth for comical effect. To top it off, those big toad eyes of his bulge to make him look like a cartoon… It's no good! Unable to resist ーor maybe just playing alongー I chuckle at his show and grin.

「Yeahaha, just like that. Blow the faggot's brains out and the boss will give you five hundred with seven hundred on the way. Sound good to you?」

『Sounds great. I could have top pick at the brothel with money like that, easy.』

It's not like I don't feel bad about taking someone's life. It's just that this city operates that way. If your security is bad enough to let you be done in, then your enemies will say you deserved it. Plain and simple, which is just how I like it.

Besidesー twelve hundred. That's good money for a job lasting just a few hours, and I'm not one to turn down a chance to make my wallet fat.

『So, let me guess. Will this jerk be present for the unveiling of city management's latest flop?』

「Sure will. All the details and boring bits are on paper, so you can read over it after settling in your spot. You have your gun with you, of course.」

A cold sweat trickles down my neck. I know that he knows that I don't have a gunー rather, an appropriate gunー on me.

「Yeah, I'll lend you one. Bring it back soon, though. My brother gave it to me before he died.」

『Just like he gave you that new watch, and that tie stained with ketchup.』

「Yeah, just like that.」

Exchanging grins with the sweaty man, I shake his webbed hand before taking the assignment and case with the gun. With a nod, I slip out the door and disappear into the back alley once more, ready to find my perch.

「…」

After traveling for half of an hour and scouting the complex, I finally find a good spot to fire from. The glass on the window is cracked, and one segment of it has fallen from the frame. This is just like the time I offed someone with Housuke. The biggest difference is that I get all the money to myself this time around.

『…Huh.』

According to the description, the target is that new candidate for mayor. If I remember right, he's spent a lot of time rambling on about cleaning up crime in this subsection. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why the boss wants him out of the picture, now does it?

Resting against the aging wall, I listen to the mechanics of the building and focus on my breathing. One gear turns… and starts a chain. Something in the walls snaps against a gear, and probably urges a pulley on. It unnerves me a little to hear those noises, though it's most likely nothing.

『…Applaud! Applaud! Oooh, ooooh! Is it not wonderful? To think city management cares this much about you beautiful people!!』

I think someone official is speaking to the public. According to the paper Toadie gave me, the target should be an easy bull's eye "after the loudmouth shuts his trap". That probably means that arrogant voice belongs to Mr. Loudmouth, and he's…

Right, I heard some poor folk talking about this earlier. He's supposed to be talking about a new cure for the Demon's Plague, or some other bullshit like that.

[ ] Nothing that concerns me.
[ ] Might as well tune in.
>> No. 25487
[x] Might as well tune in.

let's see what he has to say.
>> No. 25488
[x] Might as well tune in.
>> No. 25489
[X] Might as well tune in.

I'm probably the only person who cares about this sort of thing, but the chouonpu (ー) doesn't have the function of an em-dash (—) which you seem to be using it for. Also, is there supposed to be a difference between dialogue in 『』 and dialogue in 「」?
>> No. 25490
[X] Might as well tune in.

I'm probably the only person who cares about this sort of thing, but the chouonpu (ー) doesn't have the function of an em-dash (—) which you seem to be using it for. Also, is there supposed to be a difference between dialogue in 『』 and dialogue in 「」?
>> No. 25491
>>25489

Thanks, I was too lazy to look up the right thing. As for the quotes, I'll let you figure that out on your own.
>> No. 25507
[X] Might as well tune in.

From what I've seen, dialogue in 『』 is us and loud people, and dialogue in 「」 is quieter people.

I may have missed something though.
>> No. 25528
[ø] Might as well tune in.
>> No. 25539
>>25507
I was thinking something like that too, at first, but in >>25344, our lines are in single quotes, as is the presumably-shouted "「Shut up, you goddamned dykes!」" in >>25312.
>> No. 25571
File 126715917622.jpg - (357.48KB , 800x600 , A City Without Reflection.jpg ) [iqdb]
25571
『Yes, it's truly phenomenal! Only in this land filled with those who shouldn't exist can I believe something this extraordinary!』

Moving towards the window, I get a better look at the speaker. One glance tells me that he's Fuyuutomi the Four Servants, a figure easily recognizable to most citizens of this Shapeless World. Brushing a few locks of his golden hair aside, he makes a dramatic motion by raising his hand as he continues to speak.

『I bring this to you, the public eye! In the name of the Great Doctor and of Lady Yukari herself, a new medicine made to combat the Demon's Plague! The icing on the cake is that you, my beautiful people, all get a free sample of this medicine for being present today!』

The crowd starts to cheer, and a number of attendees throw their hats in the air and exchange hugs. I'd probably be down there celebrating, too, if I still had any family left. In addition, I've come to the conclusion that the so-called cures for the ailment exist in name alone. This speaker, now introducing a pleasantly plump man to the podium, has probably reached that conclusion, too. He's too high up in this world to think otherwise.

『I present to you, your candidate! Surely he will revolutionize the field of medicine and lead us to a final cure for this atrocity! Sir, if you may.』

「O-oh. Yes, thank you.」

The target is definitely large. The plague makes no distinction between those of high position and low position, it seems, as the man now at the podium has clearly gained a Tanuki's fur from it. It looks charming to me, though it would have horrified me ten years ago. Ignoring the man's fumbling and nervousness with the crowd, I quickly open the case and assemble the gun. A twist here, a click there, and after a few gear windings it's ready to go. Loading the bullet, I take aim at the man and point the crosshairs at his forehead.

…It's then that I pause to think, and hear him as he gathers himself to speak.

「The reason I'm so concerned about curing this Demon's Plague is because of… It would be because of all the children I've seen orphaned by it.」

…Yes, that's right. My current name isn't my own, but a false name created when my parents died. My new name, Kojiko, was made to reflect the death of my parents. I felt orphaned despite being an adult because of this plague, and my new name is a reflection of that emotion. I'm Kojiko. I'm an orphan.

「It isn't just the parents! Some children even lose their siblings to this plague of ours, and are left with nobody to turn to! I love my two girls, and that's the reason I can never accept this plague that has even gripped me. I can't accept it because of the innocent lives it has scarred.」

Swallowing hard, I look away from the scope and gaze at the speaker with an unaided eye. First, I lost my parents. After that… My little sister. As these thoughts process, the gears in the wall continue to click and whirr, as if in unison with my mind. My hand trembles on the trigger, and I swallow once again. My assignment is to kill this man. I'm supposed to kill someone who's determined to kill the plague I despise.

「So long as we all believe we can do it, medicine will be found which will once and for all destroy this plague. On that day, I'll use these arms to hug my daughters and my wife. Many other men will do the same, and many other women will do the same. On that day, we will no longer fear under this demon's shadow, which consumes all those who pass under it.」

Lowering the gun, my mind continues to click and whirr. Twelve hundred goes a long way. A life goes a long way. I can't give up on my job, because that money will go far for me, but can I bear to shoot this man down? I've seen many others like him die in these past ten years, but never at my hands. My blood soaked hands tremble, and I line up on his skull once more. I have to kill him for my sake, but I can't kill him for my conscience… I can't sit here, forever indecisive. I need to do something with that trigger, and I need to do it fast.

[ ] Pull it.
[ ] Let it go.
>> No. 25594
fuck.
writefag, I am currently cursing you for giving a choice like this.
[ø] Let it go.
great, now we are probably going to get persecuted by our former comrades.
>> No. 25596
[X] Shoot and miss.

Hit him in the shoulder or something. We get plausible deniability if our employer comes after us, and we give the politician some "war hero"-type street cred.
>> No. 25597
are write-ins allowed? If they are, I'll revote and go with >>25596.
>> No. 25598
[X] Shoot and miss.

I can believe in this.
>> No. 25599
[Q] Shoot and miss.
If this backfires, it will at least hopefully be an amusing backfire.
>> No. 25600
Changed vote.

[x] Shoot, but deliberately miss.

I rather like this idea. Should have thought of it, myself.
>> No. 25601
[X] Shoot and miss.

If the employer asks, we can just say he moved right as we pulled the trigger and that we didn't have enough time for a second shot.
>> No. 25605
[X] Shoot and miss.
>> No. 25760
File 126758495272.jpg - (28.11KB , 403x608 , A City Without Reflection.jpg ) [iqdb]
25760
I can hear the gears turning, jolting, and finally sticking as something jams in the works. My finger tugs the trigger, but not before I shift my focus to the politician's shoulder. A sharp boom resounds as the bullet buries itself there, making itself at home in his flesh. My mind glazes over as I watch the chaos unwind below, and the man staggers to the ground. My hands think for me, disassembling the gun and packing it away.

『What… What is this!? A sniper? Security, call security and have them surround the area!』

Fuyuutomi shouts that, while trying to help the man up. Watching this, I reflect on what I've just done. A full one million two hundred thousand, gone. However, I didn't go against myself and shoot someone who stands for what I believe in…

I guess the twelve-hundred can stand to stay in my employer's pocket. Swallowing hard, I take off into the abandoned hallway with the gun's case in hand. The gears keep trying to turn, but the obstruction holds strong. It's then, as I approach the staircase, that I peer out the window to see what awaits me.

Security has already blocked off the exits of the back alley below, and the sound of gears clicking tells me that they're trying to get into this building. Taking my chances, I take the nearby fire exit and scramble down the ladder, then ascending another on the other building as the guards begin to head in my direction.

—This isn't good. If they catch me, my career is over. I can kiss my money goodbye, and my apartment as well. The nights at the bar, and roaming the streets in the day… That life would end, and I'd be locked up and left to rot.

I definitely can't let that happen. Seeing the guards approaching, I grip the ladder and pull it up, then throwing it to the alley below. One of the men shoots in my direction, but I'm not stupid enough to be hit that easily. After darting up the stairways, I dislodge another ladder and throw it at one of the men before ducking into the building itself.

The hallway is dank, and the smell filling it makes my eyes burn. It looks like the other complex I had been holed up in, only with more rot. Trying to ignore this, I move through the building until I find the staircase. Moving with haste I descend the spiraling stairs, then reaching the first floor of this building. Popping out into the next alley, I pull this trick off once more.

…However, I wasn't as lucky this time. The men had already entered the first floor, so the only option was to head up. Finally reaching the top floor, the only sound that reaches my ears is of those men ascending the stairs inside and outside the building. With no route through the fire escape or stairs themselves, I feel like a trapped rat, with only the opposing window to gaze at.

[ ] Attempt to hide.
[ ] Prepare for a rooftop showdown.
[ ] Jump to the other window!
>> No. 25761
[@] Jump to the other window!

Hiding is just begging to get caught anyways, and this doesn't feel like a happy hero story; a showdown can't possibly end well for us. The jump is at least a good shot, though we'll have to deal with that botched snipe either way. Not exactly the "have our cake and eat it too" choice we would have liked, mmm?
>> No. 25762
[X] Jump to the other window!

>>25761
Eh, being pursued by the official police was a predictable outcome of that vote. What remains to be seen is whether we'll be able to avoid our employer's wrath and, if we're really lucky, receive future jobs from him/her.
>> No. 25775
[X] Jump to the other window!

Matrix opening re-enactment time.
>> No. 25778
[ø] Jump to the other window!
>> No. 25800
[x] Jump to the other window!

>>25775
Funny, I was just thinking of that.
>> No. 25922
File 126792734558.jpg - (106.73KB , 630x630 , A City Without Reflection.jpg ) [iqdb]
25922
—The window! If I can make it, then… No, I can definitely make that jump. Crawling into the window may be problematic, but all my other options would leave me dead, so I…

I dash towards the window, plant my heel on the frame, and kick off. As I soar towards my salvation, I can't resist the urge to look down. Far below me, the pavement stares hungrily up at my form in midair. To fall from this height would be… Absolutely fatal. No chance of survival, instant K.O.… Game Over. Getting desperate, I reach out desperately to clutch the other window's frame, and dangle for a moment in the air. A second later I'm back on my feet and running towards the staircase.

—Those goons thought I could be trapped so easily! Too bad for them, I live to see another day and another crime. Hopefully the boss won't be too upset. If he is, then I'd have to take on goons like those without the help of the family… Not a fun idea.

Reaching the bottom floor, I slip out of the building and into the crowd rushing away from the scene of the gunshot. Sifting through the random strangers is easy enough, though it can get pretty annoying when they try to bump me out of their way. After moving like this for a while, I slip into another back alley and fade away from the accident. The gears stop completely at the same time.



「…Misfire? Too bad, that was a nice wad of cash. Some other tool of the big man will get it, I guess.」

Propping his feet on the small table, Toadie shrugs. After returning the gun to him, I explained my failure to kill the target. Knowing Toadie, though, he'll probably—

「You're too soft, Kojiko. You won't never make money like that.」

…See right through me. Shit.

『You… Uh, you're pretty good at this. Years of experience?』

「Something like that. I won't tell the boss this time around, but he ain't dumb neither. Make sure brains scatter next time around.」

A heavy sigh tumbles out of my lungs. It feels that way, at least. Toadie is pretty faithful to the boss, so it was only natural to expect the worst in this situation. Next time, I just have to get a target I can't care about. Then I'll get my rent money. The toad's face curls in a comic way, and a small croak escapes his throat.

「If you don't have no other business, go. I gotta deal with all kinds of grunts, so one of them hanging around will just waste my time.」

—Ah, yeah. It's been getting late, and it's taken me until now to realize how exhausted I am. Wiping my forehead takes some effort, and my tensed muscles shriek at me as I set my arm back down. Maybe I really should head home.

[ ] Head home to rest.
[ ] Revisit the bar/brothel.
>> No. 25923
[x] Head home to rest.

Some peace would be nice.
>> No. 25924
[X] Revisit the bar/brothel.

Cannot resist the oni.
>> No. 25936
[X] Head home to rest.

Dream Sequence.
>> No. 25947
[X] Revisit the bar/brothel.
>> No. 25949
[ø] Head home to rest.
>> No. 25952
[X] Head home to rest.
>> No. 25964
>You're too soft, Kojiko.
KOJIKO KONPAKU WHO WAS YOUMU KONPAKU'S BROTHER
>> No. 25985
[⊗] Revisit the bar/brothel
Now is not the time to be alone and mope!

>KOJIKO KONPAKU WHO WAS YOUMU KONPAKU'S BROTHER
Unfortunately, today was not a good day to do what had to be done; helping your mob brother to defeat the "enemy" isn't easy when you have to face full-life consequences. Make sure that science doesn't make you tricked.
>> No. 25987
>Make sure that science doesn't make you tricked.
My father, joson, used to tell me that. There was a time when I believed him. Then as I got oldered I stopped.
[X] Revisit the bar/brothel.
>> No. 26092
Heading home hit four votes first, so it wins. Writing will happen soon.
>> No. 26093
>>26092
You might want to call votes at the moment instead of letting people vote in vain. And there was no word ahead of time that it was "First to four wins"

And this is from someone who voted to go home.
>> No. 26096
>>26093
It had the first vote, first to two, first to three, and first to four. I really should call a winner sooner, but with the way things were it was the clear winner no matter what.
>> No. 26098
File 126828379228.jpg - (44.84KB , 478x500 , A City Without Reflection.jpg ) [iqdb]
26098
『…Yeah, I got it.』

As I stand, a sudden pressure is placed on my knees. Using one hand to hold my forehead, I push off of my seat with the other and make my way toward the door. I grip the cold handle and swing it open, slipping out into the alley once more. Stumbling once or twice, I kick a beer bottle as I make my way towards home.



Turning the key spins the gears in the lock, and the door opens with a low creak. As I enter the small apartment I lock the door behind me and look over the constricted space briefly. Nothing out of the ordinary, sure, and no mysterious noises.

Stepping into the small bathroom, I flip the light switch and see myself in the mirror. Brushing my teeth makes me realize how filthy my mouth had been, and the sound of rushing water makes me realize how much the ring of the gun hurt my ears. After brushing my hair a few times and changing into a tank top and shorts, I finish with the mirror and exit the small room, though not before turning the switch off.

The confined apartment has only one light swinging just barely over my head, and there's no windows to speak of. Grabbing a nearby pillow, I toss it onto a mattress supported by cinder blocks and pick up my mother's quilt. Suddenly I feel an urge to check the fridge, and I toss the quilt onto the mattress as well.

『…Ugh, it stinks.』

There's some abomination covered in mold towards the back of the small refrigerator. I should really clean it out when I get the chance, or else that thing could start moving. Shutting the fridge, I open a small box beneath my bed and gaze into it for a moment.

It's a necklace. My little sister had bought it for me one year on my birthday, and she had been so proud to have spent two thousand yen on somebody else. It isn't anything flashy or amazing, but it's the most special jewelry in this cramped apartment. I admire it for another moment before putting it around my neck and gazing towards a mirror near my bed. Feeling satisfied, I place it in the box and lock it up once again.

With a flip of a switch, the apartment is dark. The only light is from my alarm clock next to my bed, whose red numbers tell me I should really be dozing by now. It seems I had set the alarm at some point, since a little light is on to tell me that it will get me up in the morning.

Plopping down on the mattress, I make myself as comfortable as I possibly can. Twisting and turning gets tiring after a few minutes, so I eventually settle down. Shutting my weary eyes, I finally fall asleep.

—Sweet dreams.

[ ] The city's original inhabitants.
[ ] Those who founded the city.
[ ] The Demon's Plague.
>> No. 26099
>>26096
Yet the tide can change. Not really communicating with the voters is among the worse things a writer can do. So is this first to five now?

[x] Those who founded the city.
>> No. 26111
[x] The city's original inhabitants.

Dreamtime is storytime!
>> No. 26115
>>26099

It's whichever has the most votes, and if it's a tie, then it'll be first to the number of votes.
>> No. 26118
[X] The Demon's Plague.

Due to recent events, this one merits investigation.
>> No. 26123
[X] The city's original inhabitants.
[X] Those who founded the city.
[X] The Demon's Plague.

Wall me.
>> No. 26129
[X] The city's original inhabitants.
[X] Those who founded the city.
[X] The Demon's Plague.

These all sound like either the same thing or very closely related things.
>> No. 26288
Calling it for the combo vote. Expect an update later on.
>> No. 26337
File 126874156637.jpg - (97.87KB , 440x602 , Fell asleep before I could post the update.jpg ) [iqdb]
26337
—A tower rising from the center of the Shapeless World.

—Its Master at the bottom of the smog, gazing out over the world she created.

As she sits there, motionless, something sways behind her. Moving in a curved line, vacillating like a pendulum in open space. It continues to tick, reflecting the back of its master. A suspended pocket watch, set to swing like a clock's pendulum. All around gears shift and turn, and steam rises from pores in the mechanical room's walls.

—With all the clockworks, this seems more like a grandfather clock than a tower.

The Occult flies just below the area where the smog begins. On her steel broomstick, she gazes up at the Shapeless World's Master, who stares back at her. The clock continues to tick, tick, tick. It moves like a madman, counting down the time until the barrier collapses.

Behind the Master is her clock. Behind her clock is darkness. A veil separating her from the rest of the tower, so that she may watch the city below undisturbed. As she continues to stare at the darkening city, her daydreams become nightmares.

The nightmare twists, and spins, spins, spins.

It spins, spins, spins. Twisting and turning its form out of the darkness behind the Master and her clock. As it takes shape, two purple eyes glare at the world around it from behind a clown's mask. This is the Master's nightmare. The shapeless evil that contaminates the Shapeless World. It continues to twist, until it stands behind the Master, its eyes darting from her back to the world outside.

With an elegant motion, the foul monster bounds into the world beyond the window. It falls, falls, falls. As it falls, it spins.

Without a sound, it lands on the pavement below. The Master and The Occult are both far above now, meaning the Nightmare is free to wreak havoc. Like a ballet dancer, it twists and turns through the streets, gently touching an individual's head here or there. Those individuals become darker, though nobody can see it. Some are already darkened from the Nightmare's previous rampages, and have changed ever since.

As it leads with its left foot, the Nightmare detaches from the ground and soars into the sky, as if it was flying. It flips once, then twice, and descends gracefully. These motions suit its appearance, which resembles a French clown. It waves one of its clawed hands one way, then sends the other hand after it. Still dancing, it bounds through the streets until it reaches a small apartment complex. There, it spies one who entered the city. Reaching through the crack in the door, it taps her forehead and continues on.

Cackling, the clown loses its grace all at once. It ascends back towards the Master's tower, and hides in the darkness behind the Master, and behind her clock. The Master stands, disturbed from her dreams and visions. Approaching the edge of the window, she looks straight down to where her four underlings live. Those who founded the city long, long ago.

—Ten years ago.

Even now, she turns her head with disgust. Those four down below must be working on something once again. Soon enough they'll be where she is, knocking against the darkness and asking her permission for another misadventure of theirs. Tired of thinking of those four, she turns her eyes back to the one watching her. The Occult that lingers a distance outside her window.

She's one of the city's original inhabitants. Most of them adapted to life in that city down there, though the one the Master now watches prefers to be up high.

—Just like the other.

There were two others who weren't entirely attached to the city. One of them preferred heights just like The Occult now watching the Master, but another seemed to favor complete isolation. All three had originally been heroes of the city, and had stood glaring into the Master's window. Now only The Occult passed her time this way, waiting eternally for something to happen.

—I'm not really sure what she wants.

The Master, growing tired, once more fills her seat. The clock continues to tick behind her, and the darkness continues to writhe behind the clock.

Will her Nightmare ever end?

『—Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick』
『—tock.』



The sounds of the city wake me up. A metallic grinding in the walls is what tells me that people are now getting back from work and, at the same time, leaving for it. For a while I lay there, listening to the sounds of the building, until the alarm clock rings and snaps me out of my daze.

A few minutes later I've got the light on and my teeth and hair brushed. Looking through my wardrobe, I decide to wear something slightly different from yesterday's outfit.

—A vest, a tie, and a sloped hat.

Peeking out the door, I snatch the paper up before the sun can hurt my eyes. Plopping down on my bed, the first thing that meets my eyes is the obituary.

—His name isn't there. I'm responsible for that.

[ ] Go to the bar.
[ ] Go to a restaurant.
[ ] Eat at home.
>> No. 26342
[x] Go to a restaurant.

Lay low, but not TOO low. Plus you never know who you'll run into in an uncommon place~
>> No. 26347
[x] Go to a restaurant.

Bars aren't that great in the morning; that and the two onis might be too hungover at the moment to be good company.
>> No. 26360
[x] Eat At Joe's