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27753 No. 27753

>> No. 27754
“Uh… sure,” I say without thinking, pressed by those pleading eyes and that bright smile.

I really hadn’t intended on staying for some long-ass sermon or whatever, but there’s something wrong with this church, and I want to see if I can find out anything by listening to the sermon. I mean, I might have a chance at learning exactly why Alice said something like that to me. The other volunteers at this church… there’s something suspect about their behaviors, too.

“Eh!?” Rei seems shocked at my reply, her mouth gaping open slightly as she takes a step back, which Alice takes advantage of to escape from her hug, throwing the pair of arms around her off of her. “… You mean, you’re really going to stay for the sermon?”

“What, you don’t want me to?”

“N-no, no, it’s not like that,” she says in spite of a frown while shaking her head. The wisp of hair on top of her head seems to wilt a little, even. However, she soon smiles again, giving me another wink. “It was just unexpected, that’s all. I thought you would say something like ‘Yeah right!’ or something like that.”

Believe me, if I wasn’t so curious about this church, that is exactly what I would have said.

Not having the heart to say that out loud, I shrug it off, and she hurries on around the pew, taking a seat between me and Alice. Speaking of which, the latter seems to be making a point not to look at, or even acknowledge the woman, returning to… whatever the hell she’s doing with that needle silently.

“Ali, you’re really good at that, aren’t you?” Rei says a little nervously, leaning forward a little to watch her work.

Alice remains quiet, not responding. Huh, that’s strange. From the way she talked about this woman earlier, it seemed like she… I don’t know, it seemed like she really liked her, or respected her, or something like that. But here she is, and the girl’s attitude to her is as cold as it is to me. Maybe even colder, since she actually deigns to respond to me.

Rei seems a little discouraged by the lack of a reply, drawing herself back sadly. With an aside glance, she says to me, “The sermon will begin soon. Um, this is your first sermon, right?”

I give a nod. I am here to ask her a few things, but I figure all that can wait until after the sermon’s over.

“Okay, first of all, it’s rude to stand up from your seat during the sermon, so please stay seated until the end. Second, please do not talk while the pastor is speaking, and if you absolutely must, keep your voice low. And… you don’t have a bible, but today you can share with me, I suppose.”

“Thanks, I think…?”

She grins cheerfully. “No problem.”

A few minutes later, Yuki and Mai enter the hall, the former chatting excitedly to the latter, who gives extremely brief replies in the forms of nods and one-word responses. Choosing the row just behind us, they take a seat there and remain quiet, speaking only to greet Rei. A few minutes after that, the double set of doors at the end of the hall close for good, and Sara enters, scrambling to find a seat.

“The pastor will be coming shortly,” Rei whispers, her hand resting on a thick black bible on her lap.

The pastor, huh? Wonder what’s he like, given how strange just the volunteer members of this church are.

Ah.

Holy shit…!

It’s him!

Entering from the other end of the hall, with long, silky blue hair and the dark robes of a priest… there’s no mistaking it, even if he’s dressed differently this time, there is no way I can mistake that bastard for someone else.

Standing on top of the altar, a bible in hand and a cross dangling from his neck, is the angel who called himself the Savior of Man.
>> No. 27755
File 127372875970.jpg - (747.55KB , 746x1000 , 6247343.jpg ) [iqdb]
27755
I give a shudder as I look at him. He opens his mouth, and begins to speak, and I can hear his freakish androgynous voice echoing throughout the hall as all the eyes of those attending this sermon are fixated on him. But I can’t make out the words. My head feels like it’s swimming in some fetid waste, completely unable to concentrate. I feel dizzy.

In my stupor, I turn to my left. Rei’s eyes are fixed on the figure at speech up there on that altar, her hand unmoving on top of that black volume. Past her, Alice has her eyes closed, muttering something underneath her breath.

What the hell… is going on with this church?

Why… why is the pastor him of all people?

What’s going on?

Wait, what is he saying? I need to listen…

Huh?

He’s no longer speaking, his expression twisted into a menacing scowl. He’s… he’s looking over here. No. Not looking over here, but rather looking at me. His red eyes are fixed on me, unblinking. Not taking those red pupils away from my form, he steps down from the altar, and begins to walk on the red carpet toward me.

I stand up, and in doing so

I realize that I’m the only one left in this hall.

Confused, I look around me. There’s… no one around in this hall. Even though just a few seconds ago, Rei and Alice were seated next to me. Even though there were dozens of people seated on the many rows of pews. I’m alone here.

Everyone’s gone.

Or maybe I’m the one who was removed.

Of course.

This is his world, isn’t it?

“You bastard…” I mutter out, slowly inching my way out of the row, toward the center of the hall.

Without a reply, the Savior continues to walk toward me, and instead of his priest’s garb, he’s once again wearing that blue, dress-like robe. In his hand, he carries not a bible, but his scepter. His flawlessly beautiful face is contorted into an ugly expression, emanating what seems to be silent rage.

“I miscalculated,” he spits out. “I thought I had assessed your behavior completely, without a single mistake. I did not believe we would meet here, and yet here you are. But, I suppose it makes no difference. You were only an experiment, after all. Nothing more than that.”

“What the…”

Slowly, I back away, glancing back at the double doors. Are they locked? Should I make a break for it? But hold on, didn’t he say that he wasn’t after my life, or something to that effect? I don’t know what I should do. Should I run for my life or try to play it cool?

“I am sorry,” he says, and his hard expression softens to something else. What is it… sorrow? Pity? Either way, it’s not really any more pleasant than the expression that came before it. “...but I have said this before.”

Said what, you smug bastard!?

“A new world will be created.”

He reaches his hand up toward the ceiling, as though greeting a heavenly being descending from the sky. Clenching his outstretched hand into a fist, he lowers it to his heart, closing his eyes.

“It shall be a world without war and conflict, where humans shall always be guided by our hand. A world where their self-destructive nature can be tamed and eradicated.”

Run for my life or play it cool?

He opens his eyes, and narrows them at me. “…but you won’t be there.”

Run for my life it is.

Whirling around, I bolt for the doors. Desperately, I tug at the handles, trying to pull the doors open. Damn it, they won’t budge at all!

“It’s useless. There is nothing beyond those doors,” the Savior says as he continues to advance toward me. “This world is under my control. If I desire for you to be unable to escape from here, then it shall be so.”

Shit!

No choice. I’m going to have to run around the hall and try the other door. It might be an exercise in futility, but it’s better than doing nothing!

“I cannot allow you to bring to the other irregulars the knowledge of my presence here.”

Lacking even a second to lose, I turn around, trying to run off to the side, but…

Crash!

In an instant, three pairs of wings explode out from behind the angel. Within less than a second they grow to enormous size, and possessing tremendous speed they reach out and surround me. The tips of each wing plant themselves firmly within the walls.

He’s trapped me in his wings.

Cornered, I back myself up against the doors.

And he continues to approach, smiling sadly.

“But do not despair,” he says, now just a few feet away, holding his scepter with both hands. “Instead, rejoice. Your sacrifice here shall save all humans, and bring to reality the ideal world that I have envisioned.”

With a sharp, metallic schink!, the head of the scepter transforms into a curved scythe blade.

B A D E N D

[ ] Go back one choice.
--- [ ] Keep dreaming.
>> No. 27757
File 127372936488.gif - (170.71KB , 800x600 , paladin sees a lich eating babies.gif ) [iqdb]
27757
>> No. 27758
wut

Lion hates church you heard it here first.

[x] Keep dreaming.
>> No. 27759
Hoh.

[X] Go back one choice.
--- [X] Keep dreaming.
>> No. 27760
[X] Go back one choice.
--- [X] Keep dreaming.

>I can hear his freakish androgynous voice echoing throughout the hall as all the eyes of those attending this sermon are fixated on him. But I can’t make out the words.
Wait, Sariel wants us dead because we're immune to hir mind control? So much for a religion that believes in God-given free will.
>> No. 27761
[x] Keep dreaming.

ooooookay
>> No. 27762
[X] Go back one choice.
--- [X] Keep dreaming.
>> No. 27763
[X] Go back one choice.
--- [X] Keep dreaming.

Maybe we could ask Rei who the people of the church are, since Alice gave us a lot of information, after all.

or would that be meta-gaming?
>> No. 27765
[x] Go back one choice.
--- [x] Keep dreaming.
Not as planned. Seems like we need to keep our distance from churches.
>> No. 27766
[x] Go back four choices.
---[x] Ask for help
------ [x] Senpai. He’s in business now, so maybe he happens to know the guy.

I knew it.
>> No. 27767
[x] Go back one choice.
--[x] Keep dreaming.
>> No. 27768
[X] Go back one choice.
--- [X] Keep dreaming.

Can't stop here, this is Sariel country.
>> No. 27770
[x] Go back one choice.
--[x] Yeah right.
Well, I voted for getting out of there, but I certainly did not expect that. In hindsight, I should have.
>> No. 27771
[X] Go back one choice.
--- [X] Keep dreaming.
>> No. 27774
[X] Go back one choice.
--- [X] Keep dreaming.

Well... we've gained some perspective, I wonder if Older Alice is under the spell or not, but it's certain Loli Alice isn't. I wonder if we'll run into Reimu or Marisa sooner or later since we've ran into both forms of Alice, Yuuka in her more modern sense. Those two and Mima can't be far behind.
>> No. 27775
This stinks of Shark end
[x] Go back one Choice
--- [x] Keep dreaming.
>> No. 27784
“You’re here for the sermon, right? Right?”

“Yeah, sorry, that’s not happening.”

It’s not that I really have anything against churches, but I don’t want to stick around for a sermon that’s going to last for an hour of boredom. Besides, this particular church kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies.

“Well, I had a feeling you’d say something like that,” Rei says, nodding along, undiscouraged by my refusal. “So, did you want to talk about something, then?”

“Something like that, yeah.”

“Then let’s head outside. We might disturb the other people here.”

Alice finally wrestles herself free from the woman, throwing her arms off of her. Turning to Rei and shooting her an angry look, she returns to the way she was sitting not a moment after that and continues to needle away at the unfinished doll in her hand.

I have to say, I’m kind of curious about thing she’s doing. Is she making those dolls as a hobby or for profit? Well, I should ask if I get another opportunity. But that opportunity is probably not now.

With one last glance at the girl still ignoring her, Rei tears herself away, walking out of the row toward the center of the hall, stepping onto the red carpet draped from the entrance to the altar. Standing up, I mutter a “Thanks” to Alice, who gives a nod in acknowledgement, before following after the woman.

“Did something happen between you two?”

“Ehh… I don’t really know myself,” Rei says, laughing nervously. “I think I offended her somehow, and she’s been kind of holding it against me for a while now.”

“She seemed like she respected you, from the way she talked about you, anyway.”

She nods, with her glossy lips in a full smile. “Yes, and I’m really happy that she thinks that way.”

Exiting the hall where the sermons are conducted, we pass through the double doors, encountering that Sara girl on the way, who excitedly waves to Rei and me as we pass through. Rei waves back as we continue to walk. I do so as well. It’s not like I can’t be courteous when I want to be.

“So, how can I help you today?” she says, turning to me.

“Ah, well, see…”

While I deliberate on asking the question, I try to think of the best, most natural way to bring up that subject. Just how am I going to be able to ask about someone that I don’t even know without it seeming weird? I mean, I don’t even know the face of the guy, all I have to go on is his name. Wouldn’t it seem really weird to just say I’m looking for some guy I don’t even know personally?

Well, come to think of it, I had thought of all that stuff before I even came here, and it’s what’s been keeping me reluctant about asking other people.

But I suppose if I still cared about not being seen as weird, I wouldn’t be standing here.

“Do you know a Kurosawa Takeshi?”

“…Excuse me?”

She cocks her head to the side in confusion, her hands daintily folded together in front of her as she looks at me with a look of confusion.

“I mean, you come to this church pretty often, right?” I ask, licking my lips as I keep myself going. If I shut myself up now I’m not going to be able to get on with it out of my own embarrassment, that’s why I gotta force myself to go on. “So, I was wondering if this guy I’m looking for—his name’s Kurosawa Takeshi—attends this church.”

“A Mr. Kurosawa…?” she raises an eyebrow, mercifully not asking me any awkward questions as she brings a hand to her chin, going through her own memory. “…I know pretty much everyone who comes here personally, and I don’t think anyone here goes by that name.”

Ahh, damn it. No good after all?

“I’m sorry I wasn’t able to help.”

“Ah, no, it’s fine,” I say, shaking my head.

Well, it was only an unrealistic hope, anyway. This district—no, this city—is freaking huge. It’s just like Yuuka, trying to find one person in a city like this is like trying to look for a grain of rice in a desert.

“But aren’t you going to ask why I’m looking for him?” I blurt out.

Oh crap, I shouldn’t have brought that up.

“Not really,” she says, shrugging her shoulders. She grins, winking at me. “You must have your reasons, right?”

“Yeah, thanks. That’s really all I wanted to ask. I should be going then.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay for the sermon?”

“Yeah, no. Maybe next time.”

“Aww~”

---

I guess the only other option is to ask Senpai for help after all. Well, I really doubt he would be able to, but it’s worth a try.

Stepping into a phone booth, I dig in my pockets for some spare change and the card he gave me last night. Taking a quick glance at the name and number written there, I insert the coins into the machine, holding the receiver between my ear and shoulder as I punch in the number for his cell phone.

Ring… ring… ring.

”Hello.”

“Yo, Senpai. It’s me.”

”Ah, hey. How you doing?”

“Fine, good, okay. You? Glad to hear it. Yadda yadda yadda. Listen, Senpai. I’m calling from a pay phone, so I’m gonna have to make it quick.”

”Huh? The hell d’ you mean by that?”

“It might seem like a stupid question, but I’m serious here. Do you know anyone named Kurosawa Takeshi?”

There’s a few small moments of silence.

”…Where did you get that name?”

“Huh?”

”Nothing. Nevermind. Anyway, what about him?”

“Do you know who he is? I’m looking for him right now.”

”Yeah, I know him. But why are you—nah forget it. I don’t really care. He’s this guy I’m here to do business with, on behalf of the company.”

Holy shit, Senpai does know him?

“Senpai, this is really important. It’s crucial that I know where he is.”

”…Let’s meet up to talk about this a bit more.”

…What, can’t you just tell me where he is over the phone?

[ ] Okay, let's do that.
[ ] No. We’re talking about this now.
>> No. 27785
[x] Okay, let's do that.
>> No. 27787
[X] Okay, let's do that.

Considering Sempai's line of work, this may be something too critical to say over the phone; you don't know who could be listening in.
>> No. 27788
[x] What, is the line tapped or something?
[x] No seriously. Is it? Or have you got someone there?
[x] It's just that if you don't hurry, he won't be around to be met with.
[x] Ever.
[x] But hey, that's cool.
[x] Waiting is fine, too.
[x] I just wouldn't recommend it, is all.

Fuck secrecy.

Also... I'm really curious as to what the fuck all the Makai people are doing at a church, apparently under Sariel's command, and even more curious why Sariel was so pissed. I mean, goddamn, s/he was seriously losing his/her shit.
>> No. 27789
[x] Okay, let's do that.
Let's meet up with sempai right now.
>> No. 27790
[X] Okay, let's do that.

Let's not get him fired.
>> No. 27791
[x] Okay, let's do that.
>>27790
Yeah, don't want him to move into our house too. Place is already packed and even more touhous to come soon.
>> No. 27792
[x] Okay, let's do that.
>> No. 27803
[X] Okay, let's do that.

>>27791
I'm pretty sure that won't happen.
Anyway, a Senpai is fine too. Impressive how, despite looking at first glance like a pompous dumbass, it's fairly obvious that he's a good guy at heart. You did quite a good job with him Lion.
>> No. 27804
Well, I’m sure he has his reasons for wanting to meet up personally.

“…Okay, let’s do that. Where should we meet up?”

”Why don’t we head for that bar from yesterday? It’s pretty close by to where I am right now.”

That’s not a bad idea. If I recall correctly, it’s only about a ten minute walk from where I am as well.

“Alright, I’ll meet you there, Senpai.”

”Right, see ya in a jiff.”

Click. The sound of his cell phone being folded shut. Taking the receiver away from my ear, I hang it up on the machine as I exit the booth.

Come to think of it, Senpai was acting pretty strange, wasn’t he? He wasn’t the type to be all secretive or anything back when I knew him, so what was his deal? It’s like he was up to something suspicious or something.

Well, it’s him, after all, so I’m actually not too worried about it. Senpai isn’t the type to be going around behind other people’s back to stab them there. He’d much rather stab them in the front; metaphorically speaking, of course, though he’s threatened to do it literally a couple of times as a bluff to get himself out of tough situations.

He never really would use weapons in a fight, though. That butterfly knife he carried around was just to show off to other people. When it was time to throw down, he’d always go in with his bare fists even if other guys have bike chains or baseball bats. Well, on occasions he would grab those out of their hands and then beat them with it, but that’s beside the point.

I don’t think he noticed, but back then I really envied his fighting skills.

And he, in turn, admired my smarts, I guess.

We were a pretty cliché pair, really. Brain and brawn.

And that’s why it’s so much harder to accept that he’s now seated on a higher position in life than I am.

---

Walking into the bar, I see Senpai seated with his back turned to the entrance at a stool nearby. Ah, maybe I should give him a shock. No, on a second though, that’s a bad ide—ah, hell. Smirking a little, and before I can convince myself not to do it, I slowly walk up behind him, careful not to let my footsteps alert him.

“Yo, Senpai!” I say out loud as I give him a hearty slap on the back.

He jumps in his seat, and to my shock he suddenly starts gagging, convulsing in his stool as he beats at his chest, sputtering unintelligibly. Cupping a hand to his mouth, he coughs violently, trying to expel something stuck in his throat. Scared out of my wits, I rush to slap him a few more times in the back, and finally he stops coughing.

Goddamn it, man!” he says indignantly as he straightens himself up. “Are you trying to kill me!?”

“Whoa, shit, my bad, Senpai!” I say, backing away with my hands in the air.

I look down at his outstretched palm, where I see a single medical capsule lying there.

“…what’s that for?”

“Huh?” Senpai jumps again, before looking down at his palm. Hurriedly, he takes the pill into his mouth, gripping a nearby glass of water and washing it down. Slamming the cup back down on the counter, he swallows before responding. “It’s my medication.”

“You’re on medication? Why?”

He looks away, suddenly looking very solemn as he quietly places his elbows on the counter before him, folding his hands together. “Well, see. I just got back from the doctor’s, and they said I only have three months left…”

“…Huh?”

He looks up at me, my mouth agape, and starts cracking up, sniggering through his teeth. “Just kiddin’ with you, man. That was just some headache cure. I’ve had this massive hangover since I woke up this morning, so I thought maybe that would help.”

“You didn’t even drink that much yesterday.”

“Hey, it was a lot for me.”

“Hah, right. Big tough man can’t handle his drink,” I say with a snort.

Senpai glares at me for a few seconds before breaking into a grin, laughing along with me. “Pfft, hah! That is kind of pathetic, ain’t it?”

“Sure is…”

…Now that we’ve had our little greeting exchange, we should probably get down to business about this Kurosawa Takeshi guy.

“…So, Senpai, about what we were going to talk about…”

His expression darkens a little, and I can only find traces of the enthusiastic, playful grin from earlier. His eyes dart away from me, and folding his hands together again, he squeezes his fingers together, massaging them—a nervous tic I’d noticed ever since the first year of high school.

“Not here. Let’s head outside first.”

He reaches into his pocket and fishes out some change, leaving them on the counter as he stands up from the stool. Readjusting his tie, he walks past me, leading the way to the entrance of the bar. A little hesitantly, I follow after him. There’s something suspicious about all this. It’s like he’s being watched or something.

Maybe I’m just being paranoid? I mean, that church from earlier was highly suspicious as well, so maybe I’m just projecting those feelings into whatever I see in the present?

No, whether I’m paranoid or not, Senpai’s behavior can hardly be called normal.

Outside on the streets, Senpai signals me to come closer, and so I pick up the pace, catching up to him and standing side by side.

“I don’t know how you got the guy’s name,” he says in a hushed voice, though not quite a whisper. “But you’re looking for Kurosawa Takeshi, right?”

“Yeah, that’s right. Senpai, you said that you were here to do business with him?”

“Of sorts,” he says, his eyes looking ahead and distant. What’s with that ambiguous answer? “The company wanted me to make him an offer. Can’t talk about it. Company secrets might get leaked out.”

Well, that’s okay. I wasn’t really all that interested.

“What do you even do in that company, anyway?”

“I negotiate,” he says simply.

Huh, not very forthcoming about the job itself, is he?

“So Senpai, can you tell me where he is?”

“Nope.”

What.

“…Why not?”

“Because I don’t know where he is,” he says, shrugging his shoulders.

What the fuck?

“He wasn’t at the scheduled meeting place,” Senpai continues, jamming his hands into his pockets, looking irritated. “So I wondered what the hell I was supposed to do, and contacted the desk guys back at the HQ. They’ve been trying to reach him since, and they told me to wait here for a few days. It’s almost like he’s gone into hiding. So I thought I’d waste some time with you since I happened to be around the area, and here we are now.”

Riveting tale, Senpai, but that doesn’t change the fact that the only lead I had was utterly and completely subverted.

“… So who is that Kurosawa guy anyway? He must be pretty high-profile if he’s got the attention of a leading weapons manufacturer company.”

“Hmm, nah. He’s just some nobody, as far as I know. I have no idea how that meeting got arranged, but it did, and now the bastard’s not even around.”

…That would explain why I couldn’t find anything on him.

“Wait,” I pause, stopping. “If that was all there was, then why’d you call me all the way out here? Couldn’t you just tell me that you didn’t know where he was over the phone?”

“See, that’s the thing,” he says, withdrawing one hand out of his pocket to scratch the back of his head. “…If I hadn’t acted all suspicious like that, you probably wouldn’t have come out here, right?”

You bastard.

“I’m going home.”

He grabs me by the collar as I turn around to walk away. Laughing raucously, he says, “Hey, hey, don’t be that way! C’mon, help your ol’ senpai kill a little boredom around here! How ‘bout we go visit a shrine or something? You like mikos, right?”

“Like there are any real mikos around.”

“Hah!” he barks, letting go of your collar.

Something seems to catch his attention as I turn back around to him, however. His eyes widen, and hurrying forward, he gives me a light tap on the shoulder to turn me back around. Pointing with his other hand as he leans over my shoulder, he mutters excitedly into my ear.

“Hey, look!”

I follow his pointer finger to a blonde woman dressed business-like, a black leather purse swinging on her arm. She sort of looks familiar…

“Ah, it’s that maid from the café,” I say.

“C’mon, let’s go talk to her.”

He hurries past me, and reluctantly I follow after him. God, I feel like a stalker now.

---

“Excuse me!” Senpai calls out to the girl.

She stops mid-walk, and turns around. With a weary look on her face, Mugetsu looks us over with a glint of confusion evident in her eyes. Has she forgotten us already? We met only yesterday, though…

“Wow, what a coincidence, meeting you out here like this!” Senpai says, sounding a little overexcited.

“…Who the fuck are you two?” the girl answers in a coarse voice.

…huh?

“…Miss Mugetsu?”

“What kind of a stupid name is—“ she stops herself, a look of comprehension dawning on her. She smirks slightly, and when she next speaks, it’s with a much more delicate and soft voice. “…Oh, I’m so sorry about that. I’ve met you two before, haven’t I?”

“Yeah, that’s right!”

“Why don’t we talk, then?” she says, smiling innocently. “If you’re willing to buy lunch.”

“Of course, of course!”

[ ] Go along with it.
[ ] Warn him.
>> No. 27805
[x] Go along with it.
>> No. 27807
[x] Warn him.

INCOMING SHARK
>> No. 27808
[x] Go along with it

Lets see how this plays out. We won't get anywhere if we don't bite on obvious plot hooks.

SHARK!
>> No. 27809
[x] Warn him.
>> No. 27810
[x] Warn him.

This won't do no good, but I'm willing to try.
>> No. 27812
[x] Warn him.
>> No. 27814
[x] Warn him.
>> No. 27818
[x] Warn him.
>> No. 27819
[x] Go along with it
>> No. 27820
[x] Warn him.

I don't know exactly what we're warning him about, but sure.
>> No. 27825
>“…Miss Mugetsu?”

>“What kind of a stupid name is—“ she stops herself, a look of comprehension dawning on her.

So is that not actually Mugetsu?

>How ‘bout we go visit a shrine or something? You like mikos, right?
PC-98 Reimu? She's probably worth talking to.

[x] Warn him.
>> No. 27826
[x] Warn him.

MIKOS, I NEED MIKOS
>> No. 27828
[x] Warn him.

I might be her sister...
>> No. 27829
>Riveting tale, Senpai
I see what you did there.

[X] Warn him.
>> No. 27833
[X] Warn him

hmm
>> No. 27834
What's this shark bullshit? As in being jumped, or hotel-room-shark? I don't think she's good at billiards, so I didn't include that one, but still, I think you're all getting a bit nervous.

The woman works at a fucking maid cafe. They probably just as much in the way of leers, harassment and ass-pinching than a stewardess or a Hooters waitress, if not more. Plus, factor in the part where this is fucking Japan, land of fanboys and fetishes, which makes it much, much worse.

So you've got this woman who works at a place where you have to smile, look cute, be playful, act coy, and be tempting; not enough to make a nut follow you home at night and rape you, but just enough to get him to buy more drinks for you.
She probably hates her job and would never have considered working there if the pay wasn't good. And even if it ISN'T good, it's probably all she can do, since she probably doesn't even have a resume, let alone proof of ID.
Then one of her fans sees her off-duty, but she doesn't fucking remember him, and that's no surprise at all. She doesn't give a damn about any of her customers when she's off the clock, but now that she's stuck in this situation, she'll have to go back into waitress mode, since she figures it's what the guy expects, more or less.

Also, she knows she can get him to buy her lunch or coffee or whatever, and there's no sense in turning that down if it's from one of the more harmless geeks.

Add all that up, and you get a woman who hates her job and hates having to have this job, but knows how to turn the charm and the smiles on and off like a switch.

Now watch me be totally wrong.
>> No. 27835
>>27834

Shark end comes from the VN Tsukihime. At one point you are in a hotel room with a super powered vampire. The hotel is being attacked by another vampire who isn't as strong as the one you are with. You are a given a choice between staying in that room with the vampire that could protect you or leaving it to see what the fuck is going on. Staying in the room gets you eaten by a shark.

A few people have made a parallel between Shark End and Church End. They were both surprising and both were brought on by what people would consider the "right" choice. I certainly didn't expect to get killed for being nice to Rei and attending the sermon.
>> No. 27836
[x] Go along with it

This might reveal something important.
>> No. 27837
>>27835
Yeah I expected better from Lion.
>> No. 27838
>>27835
>What's this shark bullshit? As in being jumped, or hotel-room-shark?
>Shark end comes from the VN Tsukihime. At one point you are in a hotel room
Way to read.

Also,
>They were both surprising and both were brought on by what people would consider the "right" choice.
I'd just like to remind you that Ciel explicitly tells you that waiting is the wrong choice, as you're the hero and should be a bit more daring. Doubly so since Arcueid was actually completely frozen and not simply frozen with fear, so she wouldn't have been able to save you.
And, of course, our protagonist being nice and being religious is clearly out of character. I kid, but it's not like Tsukihime where you have a "safe" option and a "dangerous" option and are surprised when "safe" turns out to be deadly. Both options were completely innoculous, with no hint of any danger in either of them.
>> No. 27839
[x] Warn him quietly, but go along with it if he doesn't really care.
>> No. 27840
>>27838
In this case it was more like "Let's hear her out so she'll be more eager to help" than anything else.
>> No. 27842
>>27838
>Way to read.
Thank you for saying that so I didn't have to.
>> No. 27844
File 127424811931.jpg - (626.12KB , 720x515 , 10711380.jpg ) [iqdb]
27844
“Senpai, hold on.”

As he starts forward, I put a hand on his shoulder, stopping him. Something smells here, and it doesn’t smell too good. I mean, just from the attitude she greeted us with when she first saw us, I’m not getting a very positive vibe from this woman, but it’s also suspicious that she didn’t seem to recognize her own name/alias/whatever the fuck ‘Mugetsu’ is.

Senpai, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to suspect a thing at all, looking at me with a look of confusion as I take a closer look at the woman. From the way she’s dressed, with a white blouse, dark blazer and a long skirt that reaches just past her knees, I’d say she works in an office or at a cubicle or something. That’s definitely a day job I wouldn’t expect for a woman who works at a maid café of all places.

“Have we really met before?” I finally voice my suspicion.

My question wipes that smile off her face, and that look of playfulness and innocence is replaced instead with a weary, unamused face. Brushing a hand through her hair, she rolls her eyes as she lets out a short sigh. Her eyes dart toward me, her gaze sharp and piercing.

With a dry voice, she speaks, “…Well, aren’t you sharp?”

It was only just a hunch, but…

“You must feel good about yourself, figuring that out aaaaall on your own,” she says, snorting as she puts on a grim smirk. “Hey smart man, if you’re so smart, how come you’re not wearing a suit like your friend?”

I don’t think I like this chick, whoever she is.

She clicks her tongue, reaching into the breast pocket of her blazer and withdrawing a pack of cigarettes. “Tch, and I thought I’d found a sucker to buy me coffee.”

She opens up the pack, fishing out a stick. Holding it in her mouth, she digs her hand into her skirt pocket, producing a lighter. Bringing it up to her cig, she strikes at the flint several times, though it’s all in vain.

“Damn it,” she says, carelessly tossing the useless lighter to the ground. “You two got a light?”

“I quit a while ago,” Senpai says immediately, his expression unchanged from earlier. I can’t tell what he might be thinking right now.

She looks to me, and a little reluctantly, I reach into my pocket for my own lighter. Producing a small flame from the end of it as I bring it up, I hold it in front of the girl as she leans in, lighting the end of her cigarette.

She takes a drag on the stick as she places it between her fingers, removing it from her lips and glancing to the side as she puffs out the smoke. “Thanks.”

Standing there and enjoying her cigarette, she studies us under her scrutinizing gaze, making feel more than a little uncomfortable, just standing out here on the street together like this. We must seem pretty strange.

“…’Mugetsu.’ Hah, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” I hear the woman mutter under her breath. She looks over to Senpai, and after another puff of smoke from her mouth, she speaks to him in a loud, cross voice, “Let me guess. Maid café.”

Senpai replies with a single nod.

“Figures,” she spits out, looking disgusted. “I’m out here fuckin’ killing myself twelve hours a day, six days a week, and she’s still fooling around catering to the rejects of society. No offense, but that includes you guys, if you two were customers there.”

With a dark laugh, she drops the cigarette to the floor, stamping it out underneath her heel.

“So, was that your sister, then?”

“That’s right, smart man. My baby twin sister,” she replies.

Opening up the purse hanging from her arm, she reaches inside it, fumbling around with a wallet inside it. Pinching the corner between two fingers, she withdraws a wrinkled photograph, showing it to us.

It depicts two girls wearing the same school uniform, with the same hair color and facial features. They both look pretty similar to the woman standing before us now, only several years younger, so this is probably her and her sister when they were in high school. The one on the left has hair that reaches to her waist, and a more subdued expression when compared to the bright and cheery-looking girl with the shoulder-length hair.

Giving us just enough time to take in the image, she pulls her hand away, stuffing the photograph back into her wallet and zipping the bag up again. “So, do you get it now? I don’t have anything to do with you two. So long.”

She turns around to walk away again.

“Wait,” Senpai suddenly says.

Stopping, she faces us again in an irritated way. “What?”

“Would you like to have lunch with us?”

Her mouth opens slightly in surprise before closing again, her lips thinning as she narrows her eyes at the man. “…Are you retarded?”

“No,” Senpai says, stepping forward. “We were just about to get lunch anyway. I just thought you might like to join us.”

Uh… where is he going with this? I mean, it’s pretty clear she doesn’t want anything to do with us at all.

The woman scowls. “What, are you looking down on me? Are you trying to pity me or something? Oh, I get it. You think you have a chance with my sister, don’t you? You think you can get at her by getting on my good side, is that it?”

“You don’t want lunch?”

Her hard expression wavers just a little. I guess a promise of free food is pretty irresistible for anyone. Finally, she relents, “…Fine, but you’re paying the full tab, moneybags. And I get to choose the place.”

Facing away from us again, she resumes walking at a brisk pace. Senpai begins following her in a quick stride to keep up, and I, with a deep set frown, hesitantly do the same.

I don’t see why we need a woman like that for company. I mean, we’ve just met and she’s always either insulting us or accusing us of insulting her. I don’t get it.

“So? What are you geeks’ names, anyway?” the woman asks us turning neither her body nor her head.

“Shouldn’t you tell us your name first?” I ask with a dry voice.

“It’s Mikazuki. As in, 'crescent moon.' And if you call me something stupid like Mika-Mika or Mika-tan, I’m going to pop your balls, understood?”

Fair enough.



“Hah! Seriously? That’s your name? Sounds even dumber than ‘Mugetsu.’ Are you even Japanese?”

“It’s not that unusual,” I say with a scowl.

Senpai coughs into his hand.

My scowl deepens a little.

“…Hey, Senpai,” I mutter to him. “Why are you buying her lunch, anyway? You’re not thinking of trying to get her to set you up with her sister, are you?”

“Nah, that’s not it,” he says, waving his hand. “It’s just as I said. I mean, we were gonna grab lunch anyway, right?”

We were?

“It’s the first I’ve heard of it.”

“Heeeeey, don’t be like that,” he says, snickering. “You weren’t really going to ditch your Senpai, were you?”

…Well, free lunch is never a bad thing, but you know, if I stick with him, I might end up wasting away pretty much the entire day like yesterday. With no more leads on this Kurosawa guy, I don’t have much of a leeway in finding him before it's too late.

[ ] Just go home.
[ ] Woohoo, free lunch.
>> No. 27845
[x] Woohoo, free lunch.

We've run through both leads, now to figure how to track down a guy who doesn't want to be found.
>> No. 27846
[X] Woohoo, free lunch.

Woohoo.
>> No. 27848
[x] Woohoo, free lunch.

Why would a Touhoe have pictures of themselves in school uniform, though?
>> No. 27849
[x] Woohoo, free lunch.

I have the feeling that Sempai will be scammed to hell and back if we leave him alone.
>> No. 27850
[x] Woohoo, free lunch.

>>27848
Heh.
>> No. 27851
[X] Woohoo, free lunch.

A Piss poor guy getting treated to a free lunch at a (possibly) high class restuarant? How can we resist?
>> No. 27852
[x] Woohoo, free lunch.
Flawless logic
>> No. 27853
[x] Woohoo, free lunch

Can't just leave without finding more out.
>> No. 27854
[x] Woohoo, free lunch.
>> No. 27855
[x] Woohoo, free lunch.
>> No. 27856
[x] Woohoo, free lunch.
>> No. 27857
[x] Woohoo, free lunch.

Can't go wrong!
>> No. 27858
>>27850
What's to laugh about? I was serious.

The only explanation I can think of is that they've been here even longer than Kurumi, but that seems unlikely.

>>27834
Totally called it for me being wrong.
>> No. 27859
>>27848
>>27858

It's possible that they're, well, normal people rather than touhoes.
>> No. 27860
[x] Woohoo, free lunch.

It's true we don't have any leads, but God Gengetsu is such a bitch.
>> No. 27861
[x] Woohoo, free lunch.
>> No. 27862
>>27858
>>27859
I was thinking more along the lines of cosplay. No embarrassment about showing it if it's common in the outside world.
>> No. 27864
>>27862
I think the sisters thought of ways to hide their otherworldly origins.
>> No. 27909
File 127475511913.png - (511.34KB , 600x600 , 2520421.png ) [iqdb]
27909
But you know, promise of free food is an offer—nay, a temptation!—that I find hard to shake off as well. I do eat well nowadays, thanks to my current situation, but even so, if Senpai’s loaded with money, he’s gotta be able to treat me well, right? Oh wait, that woman’s picking out the place. But hell, I’m sure she must be thinking along the same line, so she’ll probably pick out a high class place, too.

Anyway, I can’t leave him alone with her, anyway. Senpai’s… a little thick sometimes. He’s quick thinking where it counts for him, and I’ve noticed that he can be surprisingly insightful about people, particularly whether they’re honest or not, but in spite of that he’s still gullible as all hell. That woman might try to mooch off his wallet as much as she can, so I should be around to intervene whenever she crosses the line. Theoretically, anyway; I don’t know how much of that woman’s attention I’m willing to draw to myself.

“…Nah, ‘course not,” I say, returning an easygoing grin.

“Good,” he says, giving me a rough thump on the back, almost knocking me off balance with the force of his hand. Hey, watch it!

In front of us, Mikazuki lazily turns around to look behind her, her hand at her waist. With a look of boredom, she calls out in a long drawl, “…Would you hurry up?”

“Yeah, alright. Sorry ‘bout that!” Senpai calls back with a goofy-looking smile on his famous, waving back at her.

With a look of disgust, Mikazuki turns away from us again, walking at a more brisk pace, as if trying very hard not to be associated with us. To be honest, I understand how she must feel right now. Sometimes, company like Senpai can be very embarrassing. It’s still not a very endearing course of action, however, so I find myself frowning again.

Anyway, she ends up leading us to a café somewhere nearby, which, while it seems to have a fancy interior, doesn’t seem all that “high class” to me. We all seat ourselves at a table: Senpai and I on one side and Mikazuki on the other. Not long after we’ve settled down, a waiter comes to us to receive our order.

…This is actually a pretty normal place, isn’t it? I guess she didn’t really care all that much about how expensive the food has to be.

Ordering a bagel and a coffee for myself, I wait for the others to make their choice. Senpai goes along with what I order, while Mikazuki simply orders herself a coffee alone, though the order is so complicated and long that I space out before she’s through with it. What’s with women and coffee, anyway? They always have to have it exactly the right way. I don’t see the difference.

Having jotted down our orders, the waiter returns over to the counter, allowing us to put him out of mind. With her arms crossed in a defiant way, Mikazuki looks straight ahead at us with a cold, hard gaze. “…So? When are you going to start trying to shake me down for information on my sister? I guess you’re about to get to it just about now, aren’t you?”

Senpai simply smiles mysteriously in response, his elbows planted on the surface of the table before him. Mikazuki scowls, clicking her tongue again as she looks away. Ugh, it’s not fun being treated like you’re lower than a dog. What is with this woman, anyway? Is it her hobby to antagonize people, or what?

Despite looking away in disgust, she opens her mouth and begins to yap anyway, “…Her name’s Mutsuki. She’s my younger twin sister. We live in an apartment together. Her hobby is…”

She pauses to snort here condescendingly before continuing.

“…cosplaying.”

She’s into cosplaying? Oh, that’s right. She did say she worked at the café because she liked wearing the uniform or something similar to that. Senpai listens with a piqued curiosity, not saying a word as the woman in front of us takes a deep breath and continues in an irritated tone of voice.

“She has a stupid amount of costumes lying around in her room and spends all her time and money making new ones. I’m the one who has to pay for all her expenses because she’s not even regularly employed. Just goes to that stupid maid café on Saturdays.”

She seems bitter.

“Really? How about you? Where do you work?”

Mikazuki narrows her eyes at Senpai, her lips thinned as she watches him with a look of suspicion. “…That’s really none of your business.”

At that moment, the waiter returns with our orders. With professional quickness, he hands out the cups of coffee for everyone, as well as the bagels we ordered. Taking my cup into my hand, I quietly take a sip of coffee as I continue listening in on the conversation. I don’t really have anything to do with it, so I should just keep silent. Not feeling hungry, I decide to hold off on eating the bagel for a while.

“The way you’re dressed…” Senpai continues with a smile, his hands clasped together in that strangely sinister way clasped hands can be. “You seem to work at an office. Well, good for you, right? More and more women are working in corporations these days.”

She scoffs at the remark, brushing away the golden bangs that fall on her face. “Oh please, it’s not like I work the job because I like it. It’s the bottom of the goddamn rung, and I’m stuck there. Every-fuckin’-day is the same. It’s always a hard day of fetching coffee and getting pinched in the ass.”

She stops herself, and after a beat, lets out a snicker, grinning in an ironically bemused sort of way. “…I guess in retrospect, my job isn’t all that different from my sister’s.”

…huh, that is pretty funny.

Reaching toward her cup, she holds it carefully in her hand as she takes a long drink from it. Relaxing a little, she seems to make herself a little more comfortable, crossing her legs together and beginning to shake her leg. That’s a bad habit.

She reaches into her purse, taking out a cell phone. Glancing at the display, she lets out a resigned sigh as she stands up, snatching up her cup of coffee. As she does so, she grumbles, “…Lunch break isn’t nearly long enough.”

“Leaving already?” Senpai asks.

“Yup,” Mikazuki answers, pausing to take another sip of her coffee. “…Thanks for the coffee, moneybags.”

She doesn’t say any farewells to me, not that I really mind. With a brisk pace of walk, she takes her leave of us, pushing the café door open as she heads out. She’s gone, but she’s still left a pretty bitter taste in my mouth. Or maybe that’s just the coffee.

“…Well, she was interesting,” Senpai says, gazing at the entrance of the café.

I snort. “You call that ‘interesting’?”

“Yeah. She’s a… what do you call it, tsundere?”

“Please don’t use that expression ever again, Senpai.”

“Haha, why not?”

“…Besides, that’s not even being tsundere. That’s just being a bitch. Right?”

He doesn’t answer me, the smile on his face slowly fading from view. His eyes seem a little cloudy as he spaces out, his expression now grim rather than goofy. After a long pause, he finally opens his mouth to speak, his voice a mixture of severity and wonder, “...there was something she was lying about.”

“Eh? What?”

He gives no further explanation, and instead breaks into another wide grin. “Nah, it‘s nothing. Anyway, let’s eat. I’m famished.”

…Now that’s just unsettling.



“…What are you going to do next, Senpai?” I ask as we step out of the café, my hands sunk deep in my pockets as always.

“Me?” He pauses to think about it for a moment. “…I think I’ll go pay Sakurazaki a visit. You know, congratulate her on her marriage and all that. Maybe bring a flower or two. Know any flowers that mean ‘Grats on your marriage!’ or something like that?”

I glance off to the side. “Don’t ask me. I know nothing about flowers.”

“You wanna come with? It’s only a subway ride or two away. It’ll be like old times, you know? Us three back together.”

“…I’ll pass.”

He seems to give up after that, shrugging his shoulders. “…Alright, if that’s how you feel. I’ll see you around. I’m still free for a couple of days ‘til the company gets back to me about that Kurosawa guy, so if you need to kill time, just give me a call.”

Smiling, I raise my hand as a wave, and he does the same before turning around, walking away with one hand in his pocket.

------

…Well, damn. In the end I just wasted time. I don’t have any more leads, and it’s pretty clear that whoever this Kurosawa Takeshi guy is, he isn’t going to make it easy to find him, if he just up and disappeared just before a meeting with a corporation with all means of contact cut off. It’s like he was covering his tracks… but why? I can’t figure it out. Why would a supposed ‘nobody’ like him go through such lengths to hide?

Ah, whatever. I don’t care. Maybe I should just give up on finding him. It’s hard enough trying to find one person in a huge city like this, with only a name to go by. Under the same conditions, of course it’s going to be impossible to find someone who doesn’t seem to want to be found.

…yeah, maybe Yuuka really was right after all. I mean, I’m no hero, and I don’t really think I’m a good enough person to really risk my own life for someone I don’t even know. Should I just give up, then?

Massaging the bridge of my nose, I let out a fatigued sigh.

[ ] Wander around a little. Take a walk and get things off your mind.
[ ] Go straight home. You’re tired.
>> No. 27910
>Why would a supposed ‘nobody’ like him go through such lengths to hide?
Gee, I wonder. It's not like anyone's after his life or anything.

[X] Wander around a little. Take a walk and get things off your mind.
>> No. 27911
[x] Wander around a little. Take a walk and get things off your mind.

Let's try to see what we find.

I think Sempai's picking up on something about the sisters.
>> No. 27912
[x] Wander around a little. Take a walk and get things off your mind.
>> No. 27913
[c] Wander around a little. Take a walk and get things off your mind.
>> No. 27914
[x] Find another Touhoe Wander around a little. Take a walk and get things off your mind.
>> No. 27915
[x] Wander around a little. Take a walk and get things off your mind.
There are still some poor homeless Touhous out there. Better find them all.
>> No. 27916
[x] Wander around a little. Take a walk and get things off your mind.
>> No. 27917
[x] Wander around a little. Take a walk and get things off your mind.

Clear the mind!
>> No. 27918
x] Wander around a little. Take a walk and get things off your mind.
>> No. 27919
[x] Go straight home. You’re tired.
The poor guy has suffered enough random encounters for a lifetime.
>> No. 27920
[x] Go straight home. You’re tired.
>> No. 27923
[ ] Go straight home. You’re tired.

Focus on what we have, for example, Kana.
>> No. 27924
>>27919
I hoped we get a random encounter on the way home.
>> No. 27925
File 127482623922.jpg - (317.79KB , 600x600 , notinthisstory.jpg ) [iqdb]
27925
>>27924
Sounds like a great idea! What would it be this time? A few magical tigers with a craving for human flesh? Or maybe just an Archmage specialized in tentacle rape?
This guy has worst luck than that Alchemist in /coriander/ give him a breather for fucks' sake.
>> No. 27926
>>27925
it might be possible we might find that guy when we're not actively looking for him.
>> No. 27927
>>27924
A wild Touhou appears!

Frail Human Being used Scream Like Little Girl, but it's not very effective.

Frail Human Being tried to Run, but could not escape.

Frail Human Being tried Begging For His Life, but unfortunately, the attack missed.

Wild Touhou used Head Chomp. It's super effective!

Frail Human Being was defeated. You lose 45 yen and are transported to the hospital, but this isn't a magical world, and therefore death is permanent.

Create new profile?
>> No. 27928
You will never enter a maid cafe with Mugetu cosplaying. ;_;
>> No. 27933
File 127487718938.png - (204.86KB , 421x328 , NukaColaTruckEncounter.png ) [iqdb]
27933
>>27925
So you say walking alone through town is safer? We know someone is trying to kill us.
>>27927
You know, not all random encounters are bad.
>> No. 27934
[X] Wander around a little. Take a walk and get things off your mind.
>> No. 27940
>>27933
>Not all random encounters are bad
>NukaColaTruck
That's a funny way to misspell Bob's Used Cars.
>> No. 27953
>>27940
Not bad doesn't always mean good.
>> No. 27980
File 127519637313.jpg - (56.58KB , 423x583 , 483007764a9b4a3c16ae0c4b4107ab7d.jpg ) [iqdb]
27980
…Let’s just forget it for a minute here.

Which is easier said than done. It’s pretty hard for a human being to clear their head of thoughts. Nigh impossible, actually. I guess that’s why in stuff like Buddhism you reach Nirvana and become some sort of god-like being if you manage to do something like that, because it’s a pretty big achievement. It’s hard enough to not be thinking of anything when you’re idling around, and it’s even more difficult to do so when there’s something weighing on your mind like a sandbag draped on your back.

In frustration, I raise my hand to the back of my head, letting out a resigned sigh as I massage the back of my neck. This really isn’t something a normal twenty-something should have to worry about. Well, I guess now that I’m mixed up in all of this, I can hardly be considered “normal” by other people’s standards. I kind of envy them, living in ignorance while I’m aware and worried by all the crap happening lately.

…Huh?

I come to a stop, looking down. The golden haired little girl I keep seeing everywhere stands there, for once not running away from me. Still hugging that black volume closely to her chest, she looks up at me with wide, curious eyes. I stare back at her, expecting her to flee at any moment. Why isn’t she running away this time?

“Er…” I frown, awkwardly rubbing the back of my neck again. “…What’s up?”

I’m sure I had a lot of questions to ask her, but with her sudden, unannounced appearance, I’ve completely forgotten what I meant to ask. And anyway, I don’t think she’ll answer me even if I did ask them. She hasn’t exactly been the most vocal girl I’ve met.

Slowly, her small lips part open as she speaks out in a small, high-pitched voice. “Can’t find what you’re looking for?”

“Eh?”

I’m rather taken aback by the question, though I manage to recover enough to give a nod the next second. “…How did you know?”

She ignores me, opting to continue to stare up at me without answering my question. Her body sways slightly from side to side, as though she’s shifting her weight from left to right back and forth over and over. Finally, the corners of her mouth twist up into a pretty unsettling smile that lacks any childish innocence or charm.

She opens her mouth to speak again, “There’s no escaping the hole you’ve climbed into, whether you meant to or not. To find what you seek, you’ll have to listen to your heart.”

It’s different this time.

She speaks, but doesn’t speak. Her mouth is hanging open slightly, but as she speaks her words, her lips aren’t moving in synch. Sound is issuing out from her mouth without her having to move her lips, and quite frankly, it’s pretty fucking creepy. I knew something was up with this little girl, but what the fuck, man.

“What are you talking about,” I say, the tone of my voice a little more aggressive now. “Look, kid. I’m not really in the mood for riddles right now, so just tell me straight out what you want to say and don’t do crazy talk.”

“Oh, but that can’t be helped,” the girl replies, her lips moving only to form that creepy smile again even as sound continues to issue out from her. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad. Even if you weren’t before, now that you’re amongst mad people, you are.”

Oh for fuck’s sake…

“I’m normal, damn it. I’m not mad.”

“You must be,” she says, her smirk widening, “or you wouldn’t be talking to me.”

What…

“…Fine, let’s put that aside for a second.”

Though that doesn’t mean I’m accepting that I’m crazy.

“What did you mean by ‘listen to my heart’?”

The girl takes one hand off her book, cupping it around her ear. “Can you hear them?”

“…Hear what?”

“The voices,” she says, lowering her hand. “Can you hear the voices of people calling out to you?”

I stand there, frowning. Concentrating, I try my best to hear something, but all I’m getting is a headache.

“Of course you don’t,” the girl continues somewhat triumphantly. “That’s because they’re all so loud. They’re all so loud, all so deafening, that you can hardly even hear the voices calling to you right in front of you. But if that din were to be silenced, if only one of the many voices could be heard, would you be able to hear it? Would you be able to hear a single voice reaching out to you, even from far away?”

…What am I supposed to make of that?

She giggles, and then suddenly jerks forward, her head lowered toward the ground. Slowly, her body floats up, her limbs hanging limp save for the arm still tightly wrapped around that book. Actually, it looks more like the book is floating in the air, and the girl’s body is draped around it. The next moment, both girl and tome disappears from sight.

That was… interesting?

------

On my way home, I run into a strange commotion. It seems there’s something of note going on in the streets, as I see a good number of people standing around gawking at something. Being as nosy as I am, I decide to go check it out, and sure enough, there really is something happening. Between the crowds of onlookers, I see two things of note:

The first is a group. Not a pleasant group. Not at all. They’re all dressed in cheap, tacky looking suits with dirtied shoes. There’s about maybe five or six of them, all standing in a row with slouching postures and hands buried in the pockets of their coats or pants. Most of them have scars and stitches covering their face, and all of them are also wearing a pretty damn ugly look on their mugs.

They’re so stereotypically Yakuza that I could laugh. Only, I’m not stupid enough.

…I bet they all have tattoos on their backs.

And the second is an individual that I’m familiar with, standing against the gaggle of menacing eyes and scowls. With maybe about six to seven meters between them, this individual stands against the Yakuza guys alone, calmly standing there with not even a shadow of doubt or fear showing on her expression.

“You,” the Yakuza in the middle steps forward with a swaggering gait. “Which group are you from, huh? You got a lotta guts to be waltzing around in our territory alone like that, walkin’ round with a sword like you’re challenging us, eh?”

Of course, the only one who would be carrying a sword around in broad daylight would be that Samurai woman, whose name I vaguely remember having been given to me by A, though I can’t remember it at the moment. By the way, why hasn’t she been arrested for violation of the sword-and-firearms-blah-blah-blah yet? Well, then again, she seems like a pretty fast sprinter, and even I was able to outrun two police officers just the other day.

“I seek no quarrel,” the samurai woman says in that archaic speech of hers, though despite what she’s saying, she’s already gripping the hilt of her sword.

“Bitch, you makin’ fun of us?” the lead Yakuza says, reaching into the inside of his coat and producing a wakizashi blade from it.

“Stand down.”

A gruff voice that carries out well stops the Yakuza from rushing in. Looking suddenly humbled, the former lead Yakuza member turns around, shoving the sheathed wakizashi back into t he inside of his coat. A man, with a much cleaner-looking suit, a pair of shades, and a cigarette stuck in his mouth, walks ahead of the rank and file, staring down the samurai woman as he tosses the cigarette to the concrete, stamping it out.

“She’ll kill you all in an instant,” he says, spitting on the sidewalk. “Leave her to me.”

…seriously?

I look about in a vain hope that maybe somehow this is all just a scene being shot for a movie or a TV show or anything other than this. Seriously. I’ve seen everything now.

The big boss coolly extends his hand to the side, as if gesturing for something. Immediately, one of his underlings walks forward, carrying a highly ornate sheathed katana in his hands. Kneeling with his head facing down, the minion places the blade into the boss’s waiting hand.

With slow, deliberate movements, the boss raises the sword, holding it horizontally above his head and dramatically unsheathing it. He pauses, letting the blade bask in the sunlight before casually tossing the sheath back, which one of his other minions catches and holds very carefully, as though it’s a newborn child.

…Yeah, that sword is probably real too.

The samurai woman only shakes her head, letting out a sigh, but nevertheless keeps a close grip on her sword.

I can tell I’m not the only one who’s feeling a little sickened by this crap.

And of course, the people watching aren’t doing jack shit about it. No one’s even gone off to call the police, as far as I can tell. This level of apathy is astounding.

[ ] Stick around.
[ ] Go call the police.
[ ] Go home.
>> No. 27982
[x] Stick around.
>> No. 27983
[x] Stick around.
[x] Why not join in? She's apparently a comrade of yours now.
>> No. 27984
[x] Stick around.
>> No. 27985
[x] Stick around.
>> No. 27986
[x] Stick around.
>> No. 27987
[x] Go call the police.
>> No. 27989
[x] Stick around.

We really, really, REALLY need to invest in a cell phone.
>> No. 27990
[x] Stick around.
>> No. 28004
[x] Stick around.
>> No. 28009
But you know, this could be interesting, so maybe I should just follow suit with the other guys and just sit back and enjoy the show. After all, even if I do get the police involved in this, I’d only be inconveniencing that samurai woman, seeing as she’s carrying a weapon around. Besides, if she can fly around and kill monsters like the one that appeared just a few days ago, I’m sure she can handle some thugs on her own.

I just hope it won’t turn into a public bloodbath or anything like that. That would be a bit of a pain, to say it lightly.

The boss readies his sword, his arms taut and his eyes focused on his opponent. I’m no swordsman, but it looks like he might know a little about what he’s doing. Of course, the fact that he owns a sword and seems to be proficient in its use shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given the Yakuza stereotype. The other guys back off, standing straight with their hands behind their backs. One on one, huh? I wonder if they believe in that ‘man’s honor’ crap they talk about so much in gangster films.

The samurai woman shuts her mouth, her eyes narrowed at the man standing across from her. She gives a tug on the handle of her sword, freeing the blade from the sheath by just an inch, just barely enough that the gleam of the sunlight can be seen from the sliver of metal exposed to the air. She keeps it there as she bends her knees, waiting for her opponent to make a move. Huh, looks like she’s not going on the offensive first.

“Seyaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!”

The yakuza breaks the tension in the air as he charges forward, the tip of his sword pointed to the ground as he dashes toward the woman. In response to the attack, the samurai woman darts forward, moving almost faster than my eyes can follow her. Everything after that happens in an instant: the yakuza guy swings his sword, and at the same time, the woman rushes past him, finally completely unsheathing her sword and slicing through the air.

Both are still for a moment, their backs facing each other with their swords still raised in the air. Everyone watches with bated breath. Damn, this really is like one of those single-stroke confrontations, isn’t it?

“Khh…” the yakuza boss grunts, his arms losing strength. In that same moment, the blade of his sword falls apart, sliced through cleanly in half. “So… I’ve lost. Well done, woman. Always… aim for the top…!”

Swerving around, he falls to the ground on his back as the samurai woman calmly sheathes her sword, brushing her hair out of her eyes as she turns to look down at her fallen opponent. There is a stampede of footsteps as the yakuza leader’s minions all hurry to his side with alarmed cries.

“Boss, are you okay!?”

“Speak to me, bro!”

“Y-you guys…” the boss says in a strained voice as he looks up at his surrounding mooks, one of them cradling his body in his arms with a tearful expression. “You damned fools… You’re all grown men. Don’t… don’t shed tears for someone like me. At least… send me off with a smile…”

“Boooooooooooss!!”

One of them lets out an anguished howl, snot dripping from his nose, as the boss’s body goes limp in his arms, letting out a final breath.

…you know, these guys would probably make better actors than gangsters.

“I didn’t even cut him, you imbeciles,” the samurai woman calls out in an annoyed tone toward the ring of yakuza, who ignore her, still wailing over the loss of their superior.

…That was entertaining enough. Now it’s time to get away before I get entangled in this, like I’m bound to if I stick around any longer than I have—


“The man standing over there!”

I jump at the call, having just been in the middle of turning around to walk away. Nervously, I look back in the direction of the samurai woman, and see her pointing a finger at me with a stern expression. Having stopped me from just sulking off, she begins to walk toward me, pushing past the observers. Immediately I become the center of the crowd’s attention. Goddamn it all.

“Stay right where you are. Don’t try running away again.”

Damn it woman can’t you find a way to get my attention more discreetly.

She begins to march toward me, and I’m half-torn over whether to do as she says and just stand there or if I should try to get away. Unfortunately I’m pretty indecisive so I end up just standing there like a deer caught in headlights as the woman approaches, one hand still gripping the sheath tied at her waist.

“Have you located the one called Takeshi of Kurosawa?” she promptly asks.

“N-no, haven’t got a clue…” I reply truthfully.

She nods. “I see. That’s all I wished to ask. Then, farewell.”

She turns to walk away.

…That’s it?

“Hey, wait!” I find myself calling out after her. I’ve got something to ask her about as well. “Er…”

She turns back around, raising an eyebrow. “... Meira. What is it?”

“Your partner. Who is your partner?”

“An irritating heretic who spends far too much of her time tinkering away at useless machines,” she replies in a disinterested tone. “Nowadays she’s hardly out of that cramped apartment she’s taken over.”

“Has she, er, found anything on him?”

“If she had, I would not be out here searching.”

…So it seems we’re both at a loss as to where to find that guy. I guess it was hopeless from the beginning after all. Biting my lip, I say nothing as the woman turns away again, walking off on her own. The crowd that had gathered around to witness the spectacle disperses and return to whatever it is they were doing before. The Yakuza guys are gone too. They made a hasty exit with their unconscious leader, I guess.

…I should head home as well. It’s obvious that I’m not going to get anything done just walking around out here, besides attracting unwanted attention and possibly a criminal record if I keep being seen with people like that Meira. Maybe I really should just give up on finding Kurosawa.

---

You know there’s something wrong with your life when, instead of feeling comfort and security when you enter your home, you instead feel terror and unfamiliarity from the very second you’ve made it over the threshold. With all the curtains and blinds shut, and the vases and pots of plants and flowers everywhere, the interior looks almost completely different. Unrecognizably so, even.

“Welcome home, master.”

“Ah, yeah,” I reply to Kana, giving her a slow nod as she bows to me, her hands folded on top of her apron. “…Damn it, is Yuuka really trying to turn this place into an indoor garden?”

“I think it looks nice, actually.”

If you say so.

“Have you already had lunch, master?”

“Yeah, I ate outside, so you don’t need to worry about that.”

“If you get hungry, just tell me, master,” she says, lowering her head into another bow before excusing herself, humming a tune. She pauses, however, and after a beat, turns back around to me, a sly grin on her face. “Oh, by the way, we have some interesting guests.”

Wait, what?

She points toward the living room, before floating away and letting out an eerie giggle. Fearfully, I kick off my sneakers and make my way to the living room. The sight I see there isn’t the most pleasant it could be. Yuuka and Elly stand there, the former with her arms crossed sternly and the latter with her scythe out and about. Kurumi is also there, crouching on the floor. All three of them are staring at the same thing.

Which would be a pair of men, beaten and bruised, seated on the floor of our home.

They’re propped up against the bottom of the couch, stripped of their pants and shirt, leaving them in nothing but one sock, their boxers, and their running shirts. On closer inspection, I see that their legs have been tied together with their trousers, and their arms are bound behind their backs with their shirts. As for why they’re both wearing only one sock each, that’s because the other’s being used to gag their mouths.

“Oh, good timing,” Yuuka says when she notices me standing there with my mouth gaping open.

“They just barged in out of nowhere, so we beat them up,” Elly explains, waving one hand toward the captive policemen. “…So, uh, what should we do with them now?”

Oh… oh goddamn it.

“Are they, uh, are they still alive, at least?”

“Probably,” Yuuka says vaguely. Stepping forward, she gives one of them a light kick in the gut, eliciting a squeal of pain. “I’d say so, yeah.”

“H-hey, don’t do that!”

Oh god, I’m so screwed. This is it. This is the end!

“So, should we kill them or something?” Elly asks, frowning.

One of the men lets out a terrified whimper.

“No, don’t kill them!” I snap.

Whatever goes on inside my own home is my responsibility, and I’m not going to be responsible for a double murder. Besides, these guys haven’t done anything wrong; they were probably just doing their job. Hold on a minute, why were they here in the first place? How much do they know about us?

Walking over to the two, I crouch down in front of them. Reaching out, I pull the wadded socks out of their mouths. “Hey, you guys. Can you talk?”

One of them lets out a feeble “Yes” while the other weakly nods.

“Why are you guys here?”

“… we… we received reports of a prostitution ring being based here.”

…What?

“Hey, hey, what’s ‘prostitution’?” Kurumi asks innocently.

“…Looks like they have the completely wrong idea. Still, we can’t let them get away with what they know now,” Yuuka says.

Doubly so because you’ve assaulted them!

“We can’t exactly ask them to forget about it all, though,” Elly replies, tapping her foot. “Want me to whack ‘em a few times on the head ‘til they get hit with amnesia?”

“Amnesias aren’t that convenient,” I say, scowling.

“Tch.”

…Though, it would be pretty convenient to be able to do just that, you know? Like, some way to induce controlled amnesia would be pretty handy for situations like this, like those mind wiper flash things from that movie series. Too bad that kind of technology doesn’t exist yet. But still, isn’t there a way to do something similar to that? If not technology, then maybe…

“Fueeeh? I heard really loud noises over here…”

My eyes turn to the girl standing by the entrance to the living room, sleepily rubbing at her eyes.

---

“A spell or a potion that induces amnesia?”

“Yeah, do you know of anything like that?”

Still looking somewhat dazed, she blinks rapidly. “Um, I think there’s a potion like that. When ingested, it makes you forget everything that’s happened within an 18-hour period, though with larger, more potent doses it can extend far beyond that.”

Perfect.

“…But I don’t remember how to make it,” she promptly adds.

…I would appreciate the irony more if it wasn’t detrimental to my hopes.

“Fuwah!” Ellen suddenly perks up, like a light bulb’s switched on above her head. Pounding down on her open palm with a fist, she excitedly says, “I remember! Um, we have everything we need, even! The ingredients are actually really simple!”

I feel my heart rising up again. “That’s great! Can you make it right away?”

“Yes,” she nods cheerfully, though her brightly lit expression darkens slightly. “…But it’s a very tricky process. I might need some help. I could do it alone, but the timing leaves no room for error. If it’s messed up even slightly, it could potentially result in permanent damage to the mind. Um, if one of you could help…”

“Not it,” Elly says immediately, stepping back.

“Not it!” Kurumi follows suit.

That leaves just Yuuka and me. We exchange looks. Neither of us wants to do it, I can tell that. But in Yuuka’s case, she’s just stubbornly not backing out, probably out of pride, while in my case, I’m just being indecisive once again. On one hand, I’m actually interested in the process of mixing up a potion, on the other, I’m not sure I want to carry the burden of making a mistake. Urgh, this is such a drag…

“…where is Kotohime, anyway?”

“She’s fixing up lunch for those guys,” Elly answers me. “Don’t tell me you want her to do it.”

Yeah, I probably shouldn’t even count her, huh?

[ ] You’ll do it.
[ ] Yuuka should do it.
[ ] Ellen should do it alone.
>> No. 28010
[x] Yuuka should do it.
Will probably be a failed attempt, but it's worth a try.
>> No. 28011
[x] You’ll do it.

Might as well learn a bit about the magic process.
>> No. 28012
[x] You’ll do it.

Magic is fun!
>> No. 28013
File 127535949343.jpg - (773.79KB , 1433x1150 , midori.jpg ) [iqdb]
28013
>Swerving around, he falls to the ground on his back as the samurai woman calmly sheathes her sword, brushing her hair out of her eyes as she turns to look down at her fallen opponent. There is a stampede of footsteps as the yakuza leader’s minions all hurry to his side with alarmed cries.
>“Boss, are you okay!?”
>“Speak to me, bro!”
>“Y-you guys…” the boss says in a strained voice as he looks up at his surrounding mooks, one of them cradling his body in his arms with a tearful expression. “You damned fools… You’re all grown men. Don’t… don’t shed tears for someone like me. At least… send me off with a smile…”
>“Boooooooooooss!!”
>One of them lets out an anguished howl, snot dripping from his nose, as the boss’s body goes limp in his arms, letting out a final breath.
>…you know, these guys would probably make better actors than gangsters.
>“I didn’t even cut him, you imbeciles,”
Pic unrelated...
>> No. 28015
[x] You’ll do it.
>> No. 28016
[x] You’ll do it.
>> No. 28017
[x] You’ll do it.
>> No. 28018
[x] You’ll do it.
Should just kill them, would save us from losing some body parts.
>> No. 28019
[x] You’ll do it.
[x] But you need a drink.
[x] You always work better inebriated.
>> No. 28025
>“… we… we received reports of a prostitution ring being based here.”
[x] Ask who sent in the report
[x] Ask the men if they know Kurosawa Takeshi

[x] You’ll do it.
>> No. 28027
>>28025
I like your way of thinking. Maybe he is onto something.
Add
[x] Ask who sent in the report
[x] Ask the men if they know Kurosawa Takeshi

to one of the [x] You’ll do it.
Forgot my password.
>> No. 28028
[x] Ask who sent in the report
[x] Ask the men if they know Kurosawa Takeshi

[x] You’ll do it.

Oh, yeah, right, Him. Why did everybody spontaneously forget about him?
>> No. 28029
>>28025
Sweet move.
[x] Ask who sent in the report
[x] Ask the men if they know Kurosawa Takeshi

[x] You’ll do it.
>> No. 28030
[x] Ask who sent in the report
[x] Ask the men if they know Kurosawa Takeshi

[x] You’ll do it.
>> No. 28033
[x] Ask who sent in the report
[x] Ask the men if they know Kurosawa Takeshi
- [x] Or better yet, where to find him.
[x] You’ll do it.

>>28013
Awesome. What's that from?
>> No. 28036
>>28033
Judging by the bottom left-hand panel, I'd say Midori Days.

Never read the manga, though. The show is okay.
>> No. 28039
{You’ll do it.}
{But first
- {Ask who sent in the report}
- {Ask the men if they know Kurosawa Takeshi}}
>> No. 28040
[x] Ask who sent in the report
[x] Ask the men if they know Kurosawa Takeshi

[x] You’ll do it.
>> No. 28045
“…Alright, I’ll help out,” I say somewhat hesitantly, though I try to puff out my chest in an attempt to appear eager to help.

With Elly and Kurumi hastily declining to take part in this, I have to go ahead and assert myself. That way, I can make sure that I don’t get seen as nothing more than just a carpet to walk over. Still, it’s a bit hard to keep my voice from shaking. First of all, I really don’t want to be responsible for whatever happens to those guys if the potion turns out wrong. Second, the last time Ellen tried to make one of her potions, things went pretty awry, and I don’t really want a repeat performance of that.

But hell, sometimes a man just gotta swallow his doubts and put his everything into what he’s gotta do, or so a man making a big, cheesy speech about masculinity might say. Besides, you can’t blame me for being interested in something like a magic potion. Who knows? It might be a fun and enjoyable activity! Well, not that I’ve much hope of that…

“Ah, don’t worry. It’s not that complicated at all,” Ellen says with a bright and cheery nod. “With two people working on it, it’ll be a snap to make. Really!”

“Right,” I nod.

“Now, the ingredients for a ‘potion that makes hair grow on the bottom of your feet’ are…”

“Wait, what?”

“Fueh?” Ellen blinks, tilting her head to the side in puzzlement. “Is something wrong?”

“Er, we’re not making that potion,” I say. In the first place, who in the world would want a potion like that? “Ellen, we’re making a potion that induces amnesia, remember?”

“Fuwah!” she jumps back, covering her mouth with her hands. “That’s right! Um, I’m sorry about that. Anyway, the ingredients for a forgetfulness potion are the petals from a myosotis—”

“Myowhat?” Elly abruptly cuts in, blurting out a sentiment that I share with her.

“Forget-me-nots,” Yuuka answers immediately, and then raises her hand to give the girl a light smack on the forehead as she reprimands her, “Don’t interrupt her again.”

“Ow, sorry~!”

“…orange peels, the whites of two eggs, two teaspoons of salt, a pinch of pepper, some garlic powder, and for the water it should be made from melting the snow from the top of Mt. Everest by leaving it in room temperature for sixteen hours.”

“How are we supposed to get that last part!?” I say, completely overwhelmed.

“It can be regular water, but it won’t taste as good,” Ellen says with a completely serious look on her face.

“Who cares how it tastes if it works just fine? Just do it with regular water.”

“Fueeeeh, but are you sure? But it tastes really awful!”

“Um, but how does anyone know how it tastes if they just forget about it afterward?” Kurumi says, raising a finger.

…You know, she’s got a good point there.

“Anyway, I already have all the ingredients but the myosotis flowers, so if you could get me some of those, then I can start right away,” Ellen says, carrying on and completely ignoring what the vampire had to say, leaving her somewhat disappointed and confused at the lack of a response.

Well, if it’s a flower, then…

“Will these do?” Yuuka says as she lifts her hand up.

With a brilliant flash of light, numerous azure-colored flowers appear on the hand she presents to the girl in the same way she conjured up that rose just the other night. Upon looking at the flowers, Ellen snatches them up at once with a wide smile on her face.

“Yes, these will do just great!” she says enthusiastically, turning to me. “There’s a bit of preparation required before we get to the brewing, so please wait until then. When I need your help, I’ll call for you.”

Humming happily with those flowers held tightly in her hands, she skips off in the direction of the kitchen. At the same time she happily enters it, Kotohime emerges from within, carrying a tray in her arms. On the tray are two bowls of rice as well as two spoons. A very humble meal, with no side dishes or anything like that.

“Ah, hello!” she says as she passes by me, trying to give me a bow while still holding the tray.

“Whoa, hey, careful with that.”

…Come to think of it, is she the one who made that? Does she even know how to use a rice cooker?

Nodding, she walks past me, toward the guys still tied up by the sofa. Crouching down in front of them, she lowers the tray to the floor, receiving the befuddled gazes of the poor, unfortunate saps we’re holding prisoner for the time being. Ah, that’s right. I’ve got a few things to ask of them first, before we go about wiping their memories. With that in mind, I walk on over to them.

“Good evening,” Kotohime says to them with a smile, lifting one of the bowls of rice in one hand and holding a spoon in the other. “You two must be hungry, so I thought you might like to eat a little something.”

The two policemen have stunned looks on their faces. They exchange looks with one another, their mouths gaping open, before turning their gazes back on the nutty princess in front of them, staring in disbelief. Well, I don’t blame them. It must be weird to be treated like that by one of their captors.

“Ah, but since your arms are all tied up, I’ll have to feed you,” Kotohime notes, scooping up a spoonful of rice.

…Wait.

I feel a muscle in my face give a twitch.

“Say ‘Aaaa’~”

Somehow, this pisses me off.

She gently drives the spoon to the older of the two officers, who looks at her a bit hesitantly. He looks on over to us, and when we say nothing, he slowly turns back to the spoon in front of him, nervously opening his mouth. He closes his mouth around the spoon, taking the rice into his mouth. Slowly, he chews, chews, chews, and swallows while his partner looks on with a look of dread.
.

“Kkkhhhhh—!” he grunts, his chin lowered. “T-this flavor… This soggy and overcooked yet strangely nostalgic flavor!”

“S-senpai?” his partner says, bewildered.

He lifts his face, showing that tears are freely falling from his eyes. His nose dripping with snot, he lets out a howl.

“This… this tastes like my old mother’s rice…! This old fashioned style of cooked rice… from before the invention of rice cookers… I can’t believe I’m experiencing it again! Oh, mother, please forgive your son for not visiting your grave more often…!”

“Yes, yes,” Kotohime says soothingly, patting the crying officer on the head. “You should always make an effort to pay respect to your parents.”

She sets that bowl and spoon back down on the tray as the senior officer continues to blubber on about his mother’s home cooking, turning her attention to the other, younger officer as she lifts the second bowl and spoon. Once again, she scoops up a spoonful of rice, presenting it toward the officer.

“Here, have a taste.”

“No!” he says immediately, turning his head away. “I won’t take anything from you bastards! Even if I were starving to death, I won’t eat that!”

“That’s not good at all!” Kotohime says chidingly, lowering the spoon. “As a law enforcement officer, your first duty may be to the people, but how can you say that you can serve them public’s needs if you refuse to even take care of yourself? Eat up, and have the energy it takes to be a true policeman!”

“…Actually, my father was also a policeman,” he answers in a dark tone. Soon, however, his eyes water up and his voice becomes pained, “But he always put his work ahead of himself, and worked himself to death! Damn it, I can’t let my mother lose me in the same way…! Please, give me a bite!”

Kotohime nods, and raises the spoon to the officer’s mouth again. Tearfully, he accepts it, chewing the rice and swallowing it. And now, just like the other guy, he’s completely broken down, wailing on and on about his dad.

The mood has suddenly gotten very weird in here.

“What a scary girl…” Elly says, looking slightly blue in the face at the scene before her. “Did she put something in that?”

“No, no, no. It’s because of her weirdness field,” I say, frowning. “Anything within a one-meter range of her becomes as strange as she is. At least, that’s my theory, anyway.”

“If I ever get affected by it, I want you to kill me,” she says, completely serious.

Like I could.

…Well, let’s leave them alone for a bit. I can ask them what I want once the potion’s ready but before they drink it.

---

When I hear Ellen calling for me, I go on ahead to the kitchen. Immediately as my foot takes a step into the kitchen, my nose is overcome by an insanely strong scent. It’s not exactly horrible, but it’s also not what I’d consider to be a sweet aroma. It’s just… weird. That’s all I can say about it. It’s weird.

“Everything’s been set up,” Ellen says happily, dashing about the small kitchen, checking on various pots already on the stove.

You know, it’s pretty strange to be mixing up a potion in a kitchen like this, using pots and saucepans. Usually when you think of magic potions you think of ugly, warty green-skinned witches cackling while they stir disgusting liquid ooze in their large cauldron, set over an open fire. Well, you have to stick with what you have, I guess.

“Okay, so what do I have to do?” I ask, looking about. I guess she’s already put in all the ingredients in their respective places, because I don’t see them lying about.

“Just do what I tell you,” she says, pouring over that small book in her hand. “Um… first of all, let the mixture of the petals and the orange peels simmer on low heat for about a minute.”

“Uh huh. That would be this one, right?” I say, peering into a pot.

I can see the orange peels floating on top of the azure-colored water. At around the forty-second mark, I turn my head to Ellen. “What do I do once it’s been a minute?”

“Remove the orange peels. You can throw them away, we won’t need them anymore. Oh, and then set the flame to high.”

“Right,” I say, grabbing a chopstick from a drawer.

Counting down the last twenty seconds, I hurriedly remove all the peels from the boiling blue water. Turning back to the stove, I turn the knob, setting the flame temperature to high. The surface of the mixture is beginning to bubble now. While I’m working on this pot, Ellen’s right next to me, doing her own thing with a second saucepan, completely concentrated on the work in front of her. Whoa, sparks are coming out from hers! And she’s constantly adding and removing things from it. I guess she’s just giving me the simple parts of the job.

“Okay, next, we just have to mix them together,” she says with a smile, wiping her brow with the back of her hand.

“I’ll get it,” I say, taking her saucepan.

Cautiously, I pour the strange colored liquid inside it into the pot containing the azure-colored liquid. Immediately as the two liquids mix, black smoke begins emanating out from the surface of the mixture, causing me to take a step back so I don’t end up breathing in the smoke by accident. It’d be terrible if I were to somehow get afflicted with amnesia from doing just that, so I’m just being on extra guard here.

“And then we add the spices! This is the last step, after this we just let it simmer for an hour!” she says.

Good.

“First, a pinch of pepper…”

I pinch a bit of pepper between my fingers and add it to the mix…

“A pinch of garlic powder.”

…and garlic powder.

“…and two teaspoons of sugar.”

…Wait, that doesn’t seem right.

“Wasn’t it salt?” I ask, looking at her.

“Eh? No, it’s sugar,” she says.

“No, I heard you say salt before.”

“Um, but I’m sure it’s sugar…” she says, though now she doesn’t look all that sure at all.

Damn it, her memory is completely unreliable. Well, now what? Do I add salt or sugar? I’m not all that sure about magic, but it’s probably volatile as all hell, so not getting the right ingredient might change the nature of the potion completely, or so my experiences with fiction lead me to believe.

[ ] Salt.
[ ] Sugar.
[ ] Both.
>> No. 28046
[x] Sugar.

Ellen isn't very good at speaking, but she seems to get better when she is doing magic. Better to trust her when she is in the "zone".
>> No. 28047
[x] Salt.

She said salt the first time around so I'll stick with that.
>> No. 28048
[x] Sugar.
Well, time to trust her.
>> No. 28049
[X] Salt.

She was pretty specific the first time, what with the Mt.Everest thing. I'll trust that more than what she had told us now.
>> No. 28051
[x] Both.

She wasn't busy at the time so what she first said probably has more merit than the new one. Quite frankly, we could be right by caution/assumption.

I'm going for tossing both in. Then urinating in it.
>> No. 28052
[x] Salt.
>> No. 28053
[x] Sugar.
I sure hope you've brought your 'A' game, dear
>> No. 28055
Is she reading the steps on her small book?

If it contains instructions, shouldn't it also contain the ingredients or something?

If not: [x]Salt
>> No. 28056
[x]Salt
>> No. 28057
>…and two teaspoons of x.
Just from the quantity, I'm guessing
[x]Salt

Not that I know anything about magic. Or cooking.
>> No. 28058
She did say salt the first time. Then again, she also said a potion for making hair grow on the bottom of your feet the first time.

[x]Sugar
>> No. 28059
>>28058
That was before she was corrected, she listed the ingredients after she was corrected.

[x]Salt
>> No. 28060
[x]Salt
>> No. 28061
>“Um, but I’m sure it’s sugar…” she says, though now she doesn’t look all that sure at all.
>Damn it, her memory is completely unreliable.

[x]Salt.
>> No. 28062
[X] Salt

Well, we were brought in specifically to keep her head straight, after all.

Though, after the euphoric breakdowns Kotohime caused with her traditionally cooked rice, I have to wonder if we even need to wipe the officers' memories anymore.
>> No. 28075
[ø] Salt
>> No. 28080
“Well, I heard you say salt the first time, so that’s what I’m going with.”

Grabbing the glass bowl containing the salt, I lift up the lid, placing aside as I take a spoon in hand to scoop up some of the salt. Let’s see, two teaspoons should be just about this much, I think? Well, it’s probably close enough. Making my way over to the mixture, which now glows a sickly shade of green, I take a deep breath before dumping the salt into it.

Ellen walks up next to me, staring at the mixture with an expression of anxiety. I did make the right choice, didn’t I? Or is this thing going to explode in my face the same way the last potion did? Ohh, that wouldn’t be good at all. With a worried gaze, I look down at the surface of the boiling mixture, a single bead of sweat rolling down my face as I watch in anticipation, my body ready to spring to action and get the hell out of the kitchen should anything unexpected happen.

“…I think it’s good,” the girl standing next to me finally says, her shoulders drooping a little in relaxation, though she maintains her gaze on the mixture. “It might really have been salt, after all, though we won’t really know if it worked until we see the potion’s effects.”

I let out a sigh of relief. Well, no matter how this went, it’s something we won’t have to worry about for an hour more, at least. Reaching out for the stove controls, I turn to knob back down to “Low.” Reaching up with one hand, I wipe my brow with the back of my wrist. I may not have done much, but the process was still exhausting to the mind. Every step of the way, I was afraid something was going to explode or something. I need to rest for a bit.

“I’ll tend to the potion,” Ellen says with a bright smile.

“Ah, yeah, thanks for the hard work,” I say, smiling back at her as I reach around for the handle of the fridge.

Tugging the door open, I peer inside. Reaching one hand inside it, I produce a can of beer. Need something to drink after all that. Nudging in a finger underneath the tab, I pop the can open, knocking bag a swig of it. The burning taste renews me a little, my hand covering my mouth as I let out a small burp. Well, I suppose it’s about time to go talk to those guys.

With the can in hand, I walk out of the kitchen and back into the living room. Looking over to where the couch is, I see Kotohime sitting in front of them with her hands in her lap, wearing a graceful expression on her face as she engages the still captive officers in what looks to me like a pleasant conversation, if you ignore the fact that the men are half-naked and bound with their own clothes. The tray she brought in earlier lies to the side of her, empty bowls piled together. Guess they finished their meal.

“…and that’s why you shouldn’t throw away old things,” Kotohime finishes just as I’m within earshot.

Everyone else—namely: Yuuka, Elly, and Kurumi—are all seated at the dinner table, watching the strange girl and the officers with a look of mild amusement. I guess they really aren’t worried about this at all. Damn it, I’m the one who has to deal with the burden of stress, aren’t I? I’m the one who always has to do their worrying for them. Honestly, my hair’s going to end up turning gray by the end of next week.

“You guys.”

I crouch down so that I’m at eyelevel with the officers, and as I do so, I notice in the corner of my eyes that the officers’ trousers still carry the holsters for the guns. For a moment, I wonder if I should take one of those six-shooters. After all, it’d be a lot more reassuring to carry a gun in the off-chance that I end up getting ambushed alone. However, just as quickly as the thought came to my mind, I dismiss it.

Stealing the gun would really be a lot more trouble than it’s worth. I don’t know if guns work in that other world, but since even clockwork stuff doesn’t function in there, I’m doubtful of the chances. Would it even affect those monsters? Fiction’s sort of made me jaded against the effectiveness of modern firearms.

Plus, it’d be kind of hard to explain the situation if I somehow ended up getting caught with the gun in possession. And losing your gun could put you in pretty deep shit as a law enforcement officer, and I don’t want to get them into trouble because of me. I don’t have anything personal against these guys. They’re just doing their job, after all.

Anyway, they look up at me, looking much more cheerful than they were before. So cheerful, in fact, that I wonder if Kotohime used some kind of brainwashing technique on them. I wonder if we even need the potion at this point. They look kinda fucked in the head already. But well, we have to be sure, I guess, so down the hatches those potions go once they’re ready.

Anyway, now that I am finished being freaked out, I say to them, “…Who sent in the report?”

“I dunno,” the younger officer says, shrugging his shoulders. “It was an anonymous tipoff.”

“What?” I frown. “…You’re not lying, are you? We’ll know if you are.”

“He’s not lying,” his senior replies for him. “The call was untraceable, and no name was given. Just a report that this building was being used as a base for, well, you know. Sounded like a woman’s voice, though.”

A woman’s voice…?

“Who could that be?” I wonder out loud, turning my head over to the table. “…Damn, maybe one of the neighbors saw you guys walking in and out?”

“Could be,” Yuuka responds nonchalantly.

“We thought it might’ve been a prank call,” the young officer says. “…but well, we decided to come take a look anyway.”

“You regret that now, don’t you?” I ask with a wry grin.

“Yep, sure do,” the older officer responds.

This is a surprisingly amicable exchange, especially considering that we’re holding them captive and we’re also planning to drug them into forgetting all this.

“But man,” the young officer begins in a whisper, casting a cautious glance over at the dining table where the girls are sitting. “…A home full of ladies, even if they’re freaking monsters. I envy you.”

“…Yeah, it has its ups and downs,” I whisper back.

Wait, I can ask them about that other thing, can’t I? That thing I desperately need some info about, stat.

“…Hey, do you guys know a Kurosawa Takeshi?”

“Kurosawa?” the older officer raises an eyebrow. “…Doesn’t ring a bell.”

“Not at all? You guys don’t have some kind of a record on him or anything? Maybe an address or a photo?”

“We’d have to go back to the station for that.”

…and of course, I can’t let that happen, at least not when they still remember us. Damn it, what should I do? It’s tomorrow, isn’t it? The day he’s going to die? Maybe if I tell these guys about the situation, they’ll agree to help me. No… no, that’s a bad idea… or is it? Ah hell, I’ll decide later…

---

An hour passes by, with the officers, the girls, and I just sitting around idly while waiting for the completion of the potion. The officers seem more relaxed about the situation than they really should be. I guess since Yuuka and Elly have stopped threatening them and Kotohime went and fed them, they’re not as scared of us as they were. They even start up some small-talk here and there, mostly relating to current events. I’m thankful that they have the sense not to ask about my admittedly bizarre home situation. It would be a pain to explain.

But anyway, we all turn our heads when Ellen emerges from the kitchen with a bubbling saucepan full of green, acidic-looking substance inside it. I see the officers give a squirm. They know what’s coming to them.

“It’s ready~” the witch girl says with a cheerful smile, holding out the saucepan to me. “Now, you want to give each of them just half a cup. Any more than that and the potion might end up erasing more than just six hours’ worth of memories.”

“…does this stuff really work?” I say, somewhat doubtful.

“It should,” she replies, equally unsure. “Probably, it will.”

Great, now I’m even more worried.

“Well, um, you guys,” I say, clearing my throat as I take the saucepan from Ellen, who runs off into the kitchen again. “…Sorry about this. I really am.”

“Are we going to die?” the young officer asks, his face slightly ashen.

“You shouldn’t,” I say. “Probably.”

Ellen emerges from the kitchen again, this time carrying two cups in her hands. She places them on top of the dining table, and I walk on over there, pouring the sickly green liquid into the cups. Narrowing my eyes, I carefully gauge how much is in there. Half a cup, right?

“…Look, just drink this, and all this will have seemed like just a dream,” I say as I take the cups back to the captive officers.

The younger one has frightened eyes that are telling me, “Don’t do it, man.”

…Maybe I should just forget about giving them these? I mean… maybe I can convince them to keep their mouths shut. Hell, maybe I can even convince them to lend me their help in tracking down this Kurosawa what’s-his-face before it’s all too late. Then again, it might be too risky to have them know about those girls. They might come back with reinforcements, or wait until I’m alone to try to arrest me, or whatever. What should I do?

[ ] Feed them the potions.
[ ] Don’t do it.
>> No. 28083
[x] Don’t do it.

They don't seem like they'd tell, and a little help from the police could go a long way.
>> No. 28084
[x] Don’t do it.
-[x] Make the situation and the terms of their release very clear. Don't come across as trying to threaten or blackmail them, but don't just turn them loose so easily, either.

It could be useful to have some friends on the inside. And besides, what are they going to do? Arrest everyone? Please.

By the way, how much longer do we have until Kurosawa's deadline?
>> No. 28085
[x] Don’t do it.
>> No. 28086
[x] Don’t do it.
-[x] But, they owe you big time.
>> No. 28087
>“Oh, but that can’t be helped,” the girl replies, her lips moving only to form that creepy smile again even as sound continues to issue out from her. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad. Even if you weren’t before, now that you’re amongst mad people, you are.”

>Oh for fuck’s sake…

>“I’m normal, damn it. I’m not mad.”

>“You must be,” she says, her smirk widening, “or you wouldn’t be talking to me.”

Nobody noticed this?

Unsure about this vote. Is Lion giving us a second chance because we screwed up with salt?
>> No. 28088
[x] Feed them the potions.

tough decision.
>> No. 28089
[X] Feed yourself the potions.
>> No. 28090
[x] Don’t do it.
>> No. 28091
>I wonder if Kotohime used some kind of brainwashing technique on them
If we ever need someone to torture someone else, Kotohime will do the job.

[x] Feed them the potions.
>> No. 28092
[x] Don’t do it.
-[x] But, they owe you big time.
--[x] Like, say, digging up some dirt on Kurosawa Takeshi.
>> No. 28093
[x] Don’t do it.
>> No. 28094
>>28087
There's various types of insanity, some of them higher functioning than others.

I think this choice is more a natural result of the police officers freaking out than a screw up.
>> No. 28096
[ ] Feed them the potions.
>> No. 28097
[x] Don’t do it.
-[x] But, they owe you big time.
--[x] Like, say, digging up some dirt on Kurosawa Takeshi.
If sure we get a bad end if this' a bad choice. Living as a runaway would really break the point of the story (Border House)
>> No. 28098
>>28097
>Living as a runaway
I can't see that happening. I think a more likely outcome of getting seriously involved with the police would be a long siege where the police try to take out Yuka & co but fail miserably, and either we get shot in the crossfire or they eventually torch/explode the house to get rid of the dangerous terrorists/supernatural monsters/whatever.

Also, don't Japanese cops not carry guns?
>> No. 28099
[x] Trust in Ellen. Feed them the potions.
[x] Aaaand if all goes wrong, feed them to Kurumi.
>> No. 28100
>>28098
They don't carry automatic pistols, but they do carry revolvers. The Nambu M60 is the standard issue of firearms for Japanese police forces.
>> No. 28101
[x] Feed them the potions.
>> No. 28103
>>28100
Ah. I thought they didn't carry any firearms, as part of the firearm and weapons act, or whatever it's called.

>>28099
Actually, that might be useful if the potion does work. They'll have lost a good deal of memory. If they're made to think it was because a vampire was feeding off them and hypnotizing them/whatever, they might consider it too bizarre to report or dwell on, and not cause any complications.
>> No. 28104
If we erase their memories, won't they just come back and investigate again?
>> No. 28105
>>28104
Only if someone calls them again, and even then they might be convinced that there was nothing unusual going on.
>> No. 28106
>>28104
They'll forget that we bound and gagged them, at least. When they do come back, we can just deny the claims peacefully and give them no reason to arrest any of us. They may just decide not to check it out at all, since they'll have a memory lapse and would probably take the rest of the day off from thinking they're sick.

That's assuming the call wasn't made within the six hours we erased, however. If it was, then they'd never come, never be suspicious, and the caller would think it's either been dealt with or she was wrong (also assuming the caller wasn't a persistent Touhou with a grudge).
>> No. 28108
For some reason, I'm suddenly thinking about letting them free and just giving them the potions, just in case they have a really bad day.
>> No. 28109
>>28097
>if this'
>this'
...I think you're trying to make some kind of contraction of "this is," as I've seen somebody doing that before in another thread or two.

It does not work that way, and no such contraction exists.
>> No. 28132
Instead of looking for Kurosawa now, little Alice may have hinted that we're supposed to find him during the attack. Given that very limited time window between the teleportation and the attack though (assuming that the attack will occur the same way) we're going to have to do some goddamned planning.
>> No. 28166
[x] Feed them the potions.

It's better to have as few people know about our situation as possible. I doubt they'd keep quiet about a house with a bunch of monsters anyway.
>> No. 28168
You know, it wouldn’t be right to feed them this stuff when we’re not even sure if it’ll work. I can’t do it. The burden of responsibility here is just too much for me to be able to comfortably take on. If I did mess up with the potion or whatever and it ended up addling with their heads for the rest of their lives, it’d be terrible, and partly my fault. I just can’t have them hanging around on my conscience. I mean, I try to be a good guy, usually, so I just can’t allow this.

I feel bad for doing this to Ellen, wasting the effort and time we put into making these and all, but when it comes down to it, I just can’t go through with it. It might be risky, it might even be a fucking terrible idea, but I think I’m just going to let these guys go. Well, not without setting my own terms, of course. I can like… I don’t know… threaten them into complying with my demands or whatever? Gah, it still makes me seem like a villain here, but sometimes, stuff like that is just a necessity, I guess.

With a grimace, I lower the raised cups, looking down at the captive officers. The younger, tenser one relaxes a bit, seeing me drop my hands. He’s still on guard, though, and he’s looking nervously at the cups I hold in my hands. The older one, by comparison, seems a lot more relaxed, not even looking my way as I back off a bit.

“…Alright, maybe I won’t have you drink these,” I say.

“Are you serious?” Elly immediately pipes up in a tone that’s a mixture of shock and anger. “We can’t just let them go! You think they’re just going to be obedient and listen to whatever we say?!”

“We’ll be obedient and listen to whatever you say!” the young officer quickly speaks up. “Just don’t make us drink that! Ugh, smells terrible, even from over here!”

I turn my head over to Elly. “Trust me on this one.”

“Like I’d trust you on anything,” she scoffs.

“Elly, be quiet and let him do what he wants,” Yuuka says, quietly sipping from a teacup in that calm demeanor she always holds.

“But Yuuka—!”

Yuuka throws a sharp glance her way, immediately silencing her protest. The scorned girl lowers her head, muttering darkly under her breath while Yuuka turns her attention over to me, speaking with a slow, steady tone of voice.

“Do you know what you’re doing?” she asks.

I answer with a nod.

“I see,” she says, also nodding. “Then that’s fine. If you know what you’re doing, and you’re anticipating the consequences of your actions, then there is no room for you to blame anyone but yourself for what transpires as a result of what you’ve done.”

She takes a quick sip from her cup.

“You reap what you sow.”

Um… but aren’t we in this situation because you escalated what could have been a peaceful encounter?

Whatever.

Setting the cups down on the floor, careful not to spill any of the foul-looking liquid inside out of fear of the substance being somehow acidic, I crouch down in front of the officers to reach their eyelevel again. Hardening my face to look as intimidating as I can, I speak in the gruffest, most threatening voice that I can manage.

“Listen, you two,” I begin, intensely boring into each of their eyes, “I’m going to let you go today, but only if you agree to follow my conditions, understood?”

“Um… uh, y-yeah,” the young officer stutters out in a shaky voice.

I can’t tell if he’s really scared or if he just finds me absurd.

“First of all, you will tell no one what happened to you here tonight,” I say, wagging a finger in front of them to emphasize my point, vigorously thrusting the air with my index finger.

The young cop is quick to nod in agreement, while the older one stares at me for a moment before slowly giving a single nod.

“Second of all… You know the murders that have been happening lately?”

“The murders?” the older cop repeats. “…You mean what happened in Aoyama and Kanda? The ones where the victims were reportedly partially eaten?”

“No way!” the young cop shouts out, his eyes widening. “That’s you guys!?”

“No. No no no no no,” I say, shaking my head furiously. “I just want you guys’ help in… er, stopping the murders, I guess.”

“Our help?” the older cop says skeptically. “You’ve got to be kidding. We haven’t had a single lead for either of those cases since investigations began. What could we possibly do to help?”

“What if we knew who the next victim was?”

A look of comprehension dawns on the older cop’s face as he pieces it together. “…You mean that fella you were asking about…”

“Exactly.”

“How do you know that?” the younger cop asks incredulously.

“Let’s just say we have a way,” I say dismissively, not wanting to explain everything to these guys at the moment.

The more they know, the more they could potentially help us. But at the same time, they don’t necessarily have to know everything. Right now, learning all I can about this Kurosawa Takeshi guy before he gets killed is crucial, so they just need to be able to contact me about him. Everything else can come after that.

“Look, if it weren’t for me,” I say in a whisper as I lean in closer. “Then you guys would be dead meat right now. Hell, I’m not even going to wipe your memory or anything, so the least you can do to repay the favor is to help me. Help me save a life, even.”

“…and if we don’t?” the older cop asks with a blank expression.

“Hey,” I say, jerking a thumb over to Ellen, who’s patiently standing by. “You see this girl? She’s a witch. If you sell us out—and we’ll know!—she’s going to put a goddamn hex on you guys. You guys will die horribly if she does that. You wouldn’t want that, would you?”

I dunno if she can actually do that, but they don’t either, and so that’s all good.

“I agree! I’ll help!” the young cop bursts out, frightened out of his wits. “Don’t put a hex on me, please!”

“Goddamn it, Samukawa, you’re spineless,” the older cop says gruffly, shooting a dirty look at his partner. “…Well, normally assaulting an officer of the law would be a serious crime, but since I got a meal out of it, and since there’re no other illicit activities going on here, I guess I can overlook it this once.”

Look, just say you agree. Stop trying to act cool when you’re really just saving your own ass.

---

A few minutes later, with the help of Kotohime and Ellen, I manage to get the officers unbound and re-dressed. I can’t help but keep an eye out for the holsters of their gun, though. I keep thinking that maybe if I don’t pay attention they might just whip their revolvers out and start shooting at us. Thankfully, they don’t make any sudden actions or anything like that, and so I escort them over to the front entrance.

“Remember,” I say darkly. “If you break the terms, you’ll be hexed. You’ll… uh, your… your dick will fall off, that’s what.”

…Yeah, I couldn’t think of anything else.

The younger officer goes a bit blue in the face, and he grabs his crotch as if to check that if that’s still there. The older officer groans at this, and, annoyed, gives his partner a good thwap on the head.

“Right, we saw nothing here,” he growls. “…Anyway, if we do find out anything about this Kurosawa guy, we’ll give you a call.”

“You have our contact information, right?”

“’Course.”

And with that, they leave the building. I still don’t know if I made the correct decision or not, but what I do know is that I need some fucking rest. Heaving a tired sigh, I walk forward and lock the door before turning back around to walk to my room. Shutting the door behind me and flicking the light switch on, I walk on over to the bed and jump on top of it, stretching out to relax my body.

Pi-pi-pi-pi-pi!

…Huh, wuzzat?

There’s an annoying, muffled chirping coming from the direction of my desk. It’s not the computer, and it’s not the same ringing as my portable handset phone. I think it’s coming from one of the drawers. Reluctantly rising from the bed, I walk on over to the source of the incessant ringing. Sure enough, it’s coming out from a closed drawer. Pulling the drawer in question open, I peer inside.

It’s my cell phone. My old, out-of-service cell phone.

Curious, I pick it up in my hand. Placed on top of my palm, I look down at the screen. It’s lit up, but shows nothing but a blank white screen.

Kzzzt!

A noise like static issues out from the cell phone, and at just that moment, I see a strange image on the screen of the cell phone. What the hell was that? An eye… or something? Whatever it was, it looked creepy.

Pi-pi-pi-pi-pi!

Damn, it won’t stop ringing. Is there a call for me? But that shouldn’t be possible…

“Kana? Is this you again?” I call out.

“What’s me again, Master?” Kana’s voice immediately answers me from somewhere close by, making me jump back in surprise.

Looking up from the cell phone, I see the ghostly maid peeking in from inside the wall opposite me, staring at me with a look of curiosity.

“Wha…” I mutter in shock, my gaze swiftly shooting back to the cell phone. “You mean this isn’t you!?”

“No, it isn’t,” she says, blinking confusedly as she looks down at the phone in my hand. “Is something wrong with that, master?”

There’s definitely something wrong with it, alright.

[ ] Answer the phone.
[ ] Chuck it out of the window with all your might.
>> No. 28169
[x] Answer the phone.
Ring-ring-ring-ring-ring Banana Phone!
>> No. 28170
[x] Answer the phone.

I've got my hunches.
>> No. 28172
[x] Answer the phone.
I've got this feeling.
>> No. 28173
[x] Answer the phone.
Our friend officers are DEAD
>> No. 28174
[x] Answer the phone.
>> No. 28176
[x] Answer the phone.

Can't possibly go wrong~!
>> No. 28177
[X] Chuck it out of the window with all your might.
>> No. 28178
[x] Answer the phone.

It's the president.
>> No. 28179
[x] Answer the phone.
Do you like scary movies?
>> No. 28180
[x] Answer the phone.
>> No. 28181
[X]Answer the phone.

>>28172

So appealing~
>> No. 28182
[x] Answer the phone.

Who is the killer in "Friday the 13th"?
>> No. 28185
[X] http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/nm10370945
>> No. 28187
[B] Answer the phone.

Play that thing!
>> No. 28195
[x] Answer the phone.
>>What the hell was that? An eye… or something? Whatever it was, it looked creepy.

Godamnit, Yukari.
>> No. 28197
>>28195
No, it's Evil Eye Sigma, which means Rika is calling.

[x] Answer the phone.
>> No. 28202
>“Goddamn it, Samukawa
I see what you did there, Lion, and it made me smile quietly. This story has at last paid homage to its (unintentional) predecessor.
>> No. 28203
…So it’s not Kana playing a trick on me after all. Then, what else could it be? There’s no way the phone service could have renewed itself. I didn’t sign on a new contract or anything. Hell, I haven’t touched this thing in years, and it’s not like I even had it on charge or anything. It should have run out of juice by now, and yet the backlight of the screen is flashing in front of me, trying to get my attention.

Nervously, I press the Talk button, bringing the receiver to my ear. With a shaky voice, staring straight ahead, I say, “…Hello?”

There is a slight pause for a moment as my heart races a bit. This is kind of creepy. It’s sort of like what would happen in a horror movie. Nothing. I can’t hear anything from the other line of the phone. With a doubtful expression, I cast a look over at Kana, still thinking that she might be up to something, but when she sends a curious, puzzled look at me, my doubts become smaller and my anxiety grows bigger.

Suddenly, I hear a mechanical female voice issuing out from the receiver, the kind that you hear whenever you’re talking to an automated telephone service. “Congratulations. You have been selected for an exclusive offer.”

Wha…?

“Who the—!?”

“You have been connected to our network for a trial period of two months,” the voice continues on. “Enjoy unlimited global access for the low, low cost of zero yen per month! We support international calls, text messaging, and web access. If you have any questions about our service, feel free to contact us at the number 66-6666-6666.”

…Wait, what was that?

That’s not even a valid number, is it!?

Just as I’m about to open my mouth to say something, a horrible screeching emanates from the receiver, overloading my ear with deafening static. Out of pain and surprise, I let the phone slip from my hand, falling onto the floor. “Ack!”

“Are you okay, master?” Kana asks worriedly.

“Y-yeah,” I say, covering the ear I was holding the phone to.

I hope it didn’t damage my eardrum or anything like that. With narrowed eyes, I stare down at the phone lying on its back on the floor, its screen darkened. Just what the hell was that all about? Unlimited service… for free? That’s suspicious. That’s definitely suspicious. That’s totally too good to be true. There has to be some kind of a catch. This phone must be haunted or something. Damn, should I just toss this thing or what?

The screen suddenly lights up again, and as though it was on speaker mode, a terribly distorted voice sounds out from it, “DoN’T fORgEt aBoUT the aPPOIntMEnT sEt fOR tOMMOrOw.”

Okay, this thing is totally going out the window.

Bending down to snatch it up, I march on over to the window next to my bed. Sliding both it and the curtain aside with one hand, I yank back the hand holding onto the cell phone and chuck it out of the room with all the strength I can muster up. Dusting my hands off for a job well done, I turn back around and begin to walk away from the window when—

Whack!

Something hits me smack in the back of the head, causing me to fall over, clutching the spot where I’ve been struck in pain.

“Ow, goddamn it, what the hell was that!?” I say angrily, getting up off the floor and looking around for the deadly projectile.

…And of course, it’s none other than the same phone that I had thrown out of the window just a second ago. I really should have seen this coming, huh? Well, there’s the off-chance that I somehow hit someone walking by outside and pissed them off enough to toss it back, but I kinda doubt that.

“There’s no one outside,” Kana says, looking out the window to confirm my doubt.

Damn it, how do I get rid of this thing? I guess I could try smashing it to pieces, but I’m now afraid that if I try that, I’ll be the one to end up getting smashed. That’d probably be one of the most embarrassing deaths ever: bludgeoned to death by my own cell phone.

…Well, maybe I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth? I mean, the lady did say it was free, after all.

Pi pi pi pi pi!

The phone’s ringing again.

Picking it up off the floor as I stand up, I look at the screen. Looks like I got some text messages… several of them, actually. Just from looking at them, I see that they’re the same messages I received on my e-mail account. So… all the messages that S sends me will also come here, huh? This phone is definitely suspicious. Maybe the one who connected this phone to whatever network it’s using is also the work of that bastard? If so, I can’t really trust this thing…

But, it might prove to be useful, sorta.

Sighing, I place the cell phone on my desk, not wanting to deal with it any longer. If anything’s up with this phone, I’ll have one of the others check it out. If it’s harmless, then I guess I’ll just enjoy its services for a while, then. That woman said the trial period is two months, right? So it’s gotta last until January…

…Speaking of which, what’s the date today?

“Hey, Kana,” I call out. “What’s the date today?”

“It’s the 8th of November, master,” Kana answers at once, her hands primly folded together on top of her apron.

Right, right…

Checking the messages again, I go over the details listed in the most recent death mail. On the 9th of November, at around the 23rd hour, Kurosawa Takeshi will die from asphyxiation. Police investigations will rule it as a suicide.

That’s tomorrow.

I don’t have a lot of time left to find him.

At this point, I have a couple of options. I know a little more about the guy now than I did before. At least, I know that he had some business with the Cactus Company and that Senpai was sent to meet with him. But he wasn’t an employee or anything, so how would that help find him at all? I could try to contact Senpai and see if the Company had any luck in getting in touch with the guy…

On the other hand, I could try relaying the information to the hacker. Whoever she is—I know it’s a woman now, going by what the samurai chick said—she has to be pretty bright to be able to, you know, do whatever it was that she did to my computer. Maybe even that small bit of info on Kurosawa will help in her search? It could be worth a try.

Finally, I don’t know if I can rely on those officers, but they did promise to help me find this guy, and they seemed to believe in us when we said that we wanted to save him from being another murder victim. I could just wait for them to contact me before I go about doing anything. They might have some valuable information for me if I just wait for a bit.

I don’t feel very good right now, so I might only be able to go with one of those options tonight. Ever since I got smacked from behind with that chair—what was it, a day or two ago?—I’ve had this pulsating pain in the back of my head that just comes and goes and won’t let up. It’s making me feel a little sick. Maybe I should have gone to the hospital or something. I might have fractured my skull or something…

…of course, I could just work. That deadline is coming up pretty soon…

[ ] Try calling Senpai.
[ ] Chat with A.
[ ] Wait for the officers.
[ ] Work.
[ ] Take a nap.
>> No. 28204
[x] Chat with A.
[x] Wait for the officers.

Get as much information as possible. No reason not to multitask.
>> No. 28205
[x] Work.

Money~ How irresponsible to leave all the work to the women.
>> No. 28207
[x] Chat with A.
[x] Wait for the officers.
Use all resources available, etc etc
>> No. 28208
[x] Try calling Senpai.
[x] Chat with A.
[x] Take a nap.

Round up all the forces. Then take a nap and hope that something happens.
>> No. 28211
[x] Try calling Senpai.
[x] Chat with A.
[x] Work.
>> No. 28212
[x] Chat with A.
[x] Try calling Senpai.

I can't see how waiting for the cops to call is mutually exclusive from any of the other options aside from maybe napping, or a retarded NO YOU CAN'T TAKE THAT OTHER CALL YOU MUST STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR CURRENT TASK kind of plot device. Waiting for them would happen anyway, right?

And if you have to go out, find out the phone's current number (in case it's different from what it used to be), which shouldn't take more than 10-20 seconds at worst. Then just tell the girls to forward any calls to your cell number if they come in while you're out.

And lastly, the head pain. I'd been getting worried about this with the occasional mentions here and there, and now this can't be ignored much longer. It could be a fracture, light internal bleeding, a clot forming, or whatever. But no matter what it is, it is not going away, and it is notgetting better. It needs looking-at, and SOON.

Being suspicious of the phone is definitely a wise move. It is not reaching too far to guess that whoever is doing things with and to it can use/is using/will use it to track the protagonist's movements, and possibly have it double as a listening bug. My guess is that Sariel has angel-juiced it somehow, or Rika has hacked some phone network, infected his phone with a virus or whatever, and is using it to keep in touch.
However, that's going to be one hell of a virus that allows a phone to fucking fly on its own power and work when not charged. Maybe if Sigma were, I don't know, IN the fucking phone somehow.

There's my vote and more-than-two cents.
>> No. 28214
[x] Try calling Senpai.
[x] Chat with A.
[x] Work.

inb4 we get dragged on another wild adventure with sempai
>> No. 28215
[x] Chat with A.
[x] Try calling Senpai.
>> No. 28224
[x] Chat with A.
[x] Work.

The two aren't mutually exclusive, seeing as most of our work appears to be done on the computer in any case. Might as well have a friendly chat with A while we work. Chill until the attack: follow Alice's (apparent) advice.
>> No. 28225
[x] Chat with A.
[x] Try calling Senpai.
>> No. 28226
[x] Chat with A.
[x] Wait for the officers.
>> No. 28227
[x] Chat with A.
[x] Work.
>> No. 28233
But I suppose saving a man’s life takes priority at the moment. After all, I did promise that hacker that I’d help her track down the poor sap that’s going to end up dead tomorrow if we don’t do anything. Trivial stuff like my job can wait a while longer, right? I am totally not saying that just to have a reason to push off work a little longer.

Speaking of that hacker, I probably should fill her in on everything that’s gone down since the last time I had a chat with her. There’s a lot I neglected to tell her so far, like how that angel showed up blabbing away about a new world and the discrepancies in time between her fellow castaways that have taken up residence here (seriously, what is that all about).

Without further ado, I pull up my chair, sinking down in it. Out of habit, I reach down to power on the computer, until I remember that I had been leaving it on ever since A had contracted me. I guess since I’ve been hearing the gentle humming of the fan all the time in this room, I’ve just kind of tuned it out over time. Turning on the monitor, I grab hold of the mouse, moving the cursor over to the .exe the hacker sent me, double-clicking it.

Immediately, that familiar black window pops up, showing nothing but a blinking cursor. My hands hovering over the keyboard as I take a moment to straighten out my thoughts, I hesitantly begin typing my greeting.

>Hey. Are you there? I’ve got some things I need to tell you.

Biting a lip, I sit there, eagerly waiting for a response. But damn, she sure is making me wait. Oh, but I guess I can’t expect her to reply immediately. She might not even be at the computer. Maybe I should just let it sit for a bit and come back later? Though, again, from what that samurai chick said, she’s been a shut-in for a while… so she should be at the computer, right? Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking…

Well, it doesn’t seem to me like I’m going to get a response back any time soon, so I guess I’ll do something else until I get a reply.

My gaze is inevitably drawn once again to the cell phone sitting on the top of my desk. Just… what happened to it? Even now, I find it hard to believe that it wasn’t just another prank by Kana. Reaching out for it, I grasp it loosely in my hand, staring at the unlit screen. It definitely should have been out of juice… and there’s no way the service would have been reactivated after years of disservice. It might even be dangerous…

But I suppose I should see if it works.

Recalling the number printed on Senpai’s business card, I punch in the numbers into the cell phone and press Talk. Still regarding the phone with caution, as though it might be a deadly explosive that might go off at any moment, I bring it over to my ear. I can hear the ringing… but…

”—recording? Oh! Uh… I’m not here right now, so please leave a message after the beep…. Okay, that should do it, so which one do I press to end the… This one? Okay. No, I’m not gonna do it over, damn yo-”

Beeeep!

Forget it.

With a frown, I push the End button before carelessly tossing the cell phone aside. Why does he have his turned off right now? Damn it… he said he was going to go visit Sakurazaki, didn’t he? I wonder what they’re doing right now. Catching up on old times, maybe. But still, I can’t contact him at a crucial moment like this…

I guess I’ll just sit back for a while. Maybe I’ll go treat this headache with a cold drink. Water, of course. Spinning my chair toward the direction of the door, I stand up from my seat, heading out of my room and straight toward the kitchen. There’s still quite a bit of mess leftover from making that potion that we never ended up using, but whatever, I guess Kana’ll clean it up later, as bad as it makes me feel to just leave everything to her.

It’s kind of unfair that she has to do everything for us on her own, even if she never complains about it. Hmm, maybe I should get the other girls to help her with the housework, too.

…in maid outfits…

Opening up the fridge, I peer inside, and the things that immediately catch my attention are the cups containing the potions that ultimately went unused. I guess we’re storing them in case something like this ever happens again. Still… is it alright to just refrigerate them like this? I mean, our food and other stuff in the fridge aren’t going to end up contaminated by these things, right?

Pushing that worry back out of my mind, I withdraw a bottle of water, opening the cap and taking a nice long drink from it. Twisting the cap back on, I toss the now half-empty bottle back into the fridge before closing it shut once again, turning to walk out of the kitchen. I’ll go back to my room now, I guess.

But as I’m on my way back, I see Yuuka heading out the front door of our home, for once, not carrying her parasol with her. Where is she going? Out of curiosity, and figuring it’d probably take more time for A to reply to me, I decide to go after her, putting on my shoes and pulling the heavy metal door open, stepping out into the cold evening air.

…?

I don’t see her…

Oh, wait, there she is!

Jerking my head back, I see Yuuka up on the roof of the building. How did she climb up there so fast? I mean, this isn’t a very tall building or anything, but still, there was only maybe a few seconds’ difference between us. She couldn’t have climbed up the ladder so fast, so… maybe she flew? Or maybe she jumped really high? Well, either way, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. I already know she’s a total monster when it comes to physical feats.

Still… what is she doing up there?

Frowning, I turn toward the metal ladder leading up to the roof next to the door to our home. I take hold of one of the rungs, the cold, rusted steel biting into the bare skin of my palm and fingertips, producing a sharp gasp from me. Reaching up with my other hand to take hold of a higher rung, I begin climbing up to the roof, although midway I start to fear for my life; the ladder feels very unsteady, like it’s not dependable enough to support my weight.

Thankfully, it doesn’t give out or anything and I manage to make it up to the roof. Yuuka stands at one corner of the roof, staring out at the scene of the city before her with her back turned toward me. I set out toward her at a leisurely pace, staying quiet. She must have noticed, though, because she turns her head toward me, acknowledging my presence with a glance before turning back.

“…What are you doing?” I venture to ask.

“Nothing interesting,” she replies in a dull voice, not even bothering to turn back to me again. “…I just thought this might be a good spot to view the scenery.”

I walk up next to her, staring out at the same scene she’s viewing. The bustle of the cars below us, the buildings jutting out into the sky above, Tokyo Tower standing far off in the distance, glowing with lights… it’s a pretty standard view of the city, I guess.

“It’s a pretty good view up here, huh?” I ask with a slight smile on my face. I’ve never really been up here, so I didn’t know this place had a good vantage point of the city.

“Is that what you think?” she asks, the tone of her voice subdued. Facing me, she tilts her head a little to the side as she puts on a bright smile, brushing aside a lock of her hair away from her face with one hand. “…I think it’s a terrible view.”

My smile quickly escapes me, leaving me to stare at the woman with confused eyes, completely taken back by what just left her lips. A… terrible view? What does she mean by that? Does she not like the view from here on the rooftop, or…

“When I first saw this world…” she begins in an empty voice, looking straight forward again with a distant expression. “…the first thing I remember thinking of is how ugly everything looked: ugly buildings, ugly roads, ugly people; lifeless and devoid of beauty, all of them.”

What… the hell?

“From here, I can see just how far the ugliness spreads, stealing the lives around it and robbing them of their beauty. That’s why I’m calling it a terrible view,” Yuuka says as she looks over this way, but this time, her cold, inhuman red eyes aren’t accompanied by that teasing, playful, and arrogant smirk that’s on her face most of the time. “Oh, but I suppose talking about this city in such a way offends you? I suppose you must consider it a proud example of human achievement?”

I remain silent, though I can’t suppress the frown beginning to form at my mouth.

“…In that case, you’d be right,” she says, her eyes narrowing as her tone becomes sharp and accusatory. “Human achievements come only at the cost of the world. Humans have nothing to offer to the world, yet in their greed they take from it everything that they can.”

“…That’s not true,” I say, though my voice is shaking.

She lets out a bitter laugh, her eyes trained on me and unblinking in the meanwhile. “Is that so? Then name one thing that humans have done to give back to the world rather than take from it, aside from rotting in the ground after they’ve died.”

My hands ball into fists, my nails digging into my palms. How can she just spout crap like that about humans just because she’s a youkai or whatever? How can she accuse us of something like that when she’s just a freaking monster? She doesn’t even think twice before killing something, so she doesn’t have the right to lecture me about something like that…

…but is she right?

[ ] Call her out on her indifference to killing.
[ ] Challenge her claim.
[ ] Say nothing.
>> No. 28234
[x] Challenge her claim.

It is weak to just yell back that she is a monster and kills humans.
If we want to win this one, beat her with her own words. It is doubtful that she will ever change her mind but we can try to show her that humans are not that terrible and probably change her view on things a little bit.
>> No. 28238
[x] Challenge her claim.

Just another part of the ecosystem/food chain.
>> No. 28239
[x] Say nothing.
-[x] "Tell me, what is it like in Gensokyo?"

What is there to say? Humans have proven to be a far more ravenous creature than any youkai. Stripping the land bare, wiping out a species of three, etc. Humanity as a whole has just take take take.
>> No. 28241
[x] Challenge her claim.
Don't answer her question. Make her answer your questions.
>> No. 28242
[x] Challenge her claim.

Because, let's face it, it's easy to say that humanity is full of plant-hating bastards when you're in the middle of a huge goddamn city in Japan.

Yuuka is clearly not hip to the knowledge of the whole Let's Try To Fucking Preserve Nature Already Holy Shit mentality that's emerged in the last few decades. Besides, I think most people would agree with her views in that a lot of people are selfish and just take take take from the Earth.
>> No. 28243
>“Is that so? Then name one thing that humans have done to give back to the world rather than take from it, aside from rotting in the ground after they’ve died.”
[x] Challenge her claim
-[x] For starters, they created you.

I'm of the belief that earth was made for teh human race to use as they see fit. Of course, he'd die in a heartbeat if he'd said that, so let's go with the origin of Youkai. Fears given flesh, Gods, all things that lost their belief.. all things that inhabit Gensokyo: all made by humans.
>> No. 28245
[x] "We've certainly helped you to appreciate what little is left after we've had our fill."

[x] "Nothing; it's true. However, that doesn't mean it will stay that way forever. Every day we're trying to find new ways to restore what we've so selfishly torn apart. It took mankind many years to finally realize his ignorance, but it's not too late, and we're trying to fix it."
[x] "There are already organizations made to protect nature. Planting trees, saving forests... It will probably take many more years for us to make any real progress, but as long as there are people in this world, as long as there's a world to live in, we'll keep trying."
[x] "For every person who cuts down a tree, there'll be another to plant one. There are people who feel the same as you do, and believe it or not, they're not man-eating super-women from another dimension; just plain old humans. So we're not all bad. Just a little ignorant, that's all. At least, we want to make amends..."

Yuka route ends with our own Green Peace branch.
>> No. 28247
>>28245

You forgot to mention how humans diversify ecosystems by bringing plants and animals across oceans and whatnot. Yuka probably wouldn't have all those types of flowers in the house if humans hadn't brought them over from all over Earth.
>> No. 28248
>>28247
>You forgot to mention how humans diversify ecosystems by bringing plants and animals across oceans and whatnot.
Not always a good thing. Humans are known for disrupting ecosystems by adding animals which do not belong into it.

>>28243
You could also ask why she and many other youkai look and speak like humans.

Asking her opinion on locust would also be interesting.
Humans try to survive by changing and making their environment a better place. If it means to exterminate dangerous animals, then so be it. This method worked for thousands of years and not only ensured the preservation of humanity but also our place on the food chain.
For a human, himself and his race come first because animals lack most human characteristics and therefore make it difficult to identify oneself with them.
For example, death rate was never this low in most of today's more advanced states.
>> No. 28250
>“Is that so? Then name one thing that humans have done to give back to the world rather than take from it, aside from rotting in the ground after they’ve died.”

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

>My hands ball into fists, my nails digging into my palms. How can she just spout crap like that about humans just because she’s a youkai or whatever? How can she accuse us of something like that when she’s just a freaking monster? She doesn’t even think twice before killing something, so she doesn’t have the right to lecture me about something like that…

Oh right, too fired up to abide.

Well, she's patently wrong for starters.

There's feats of architecture and engineering that would cow even her, not the least among them the Great Wall of China and the Great Pyramids of Gaza.

Now if we're talking about living things, then humans have saved countless cultivated species that would not have otherwise survived in the wild, including many ornamental flowers and food crops. They have also created thousands of new varieties of plant life.

In the coming millennia, humanity is likely the only hope of most existent species of surviving another ice age, a very large meteor impact (which are not uncommon in a geological scale), or, in 4.5 billion years, the death of the sun, swelling into a red giant and engulfing the inner planets.

Now what has this hopelessly violent, misanthropic sociopath, and her kind, contributed? She would be homeless if not for a shelter humans built, starving if not for the food humans grew, raised, butchered, and prepared, naked if not for clothing that humans designed. She won't even die if she were killed, so can't even contribute by 'rotting in the ground'. Yet she continues to squat in someone's house, consume their food and resources. In the context of any other species, she would be considered a kleptoparasite or, going by her view, a hyperparasite—a parasite of a parasite.

There's also the issue of the small population sample. Freeters are near the bottom of Japanese society. And even if she knew intimately a whole city or even a whole nation of people, to extract it to almost 7 billion individuals across the globe, as much as 5,000 kilometers away from each other, in different seasons, different biomes, different time zones, different cultures, speaking different languages, following different religions, with different cultural principles. Some have not been in contact with other civilizations for centuries, whose existence has been confirmed only by aerial photography.

There's also a predestination error. When you kill a person, you not only kill who he is, but you also kill anything he might have been in the future. It assumes there can be no such thing as rehabilitation or positive change, and that, more than not 'giving anything back', it is in fact impossible to do so.

Not 'gifted' with the innate strengths of most animals, man's ability to survive depends entirely on how well he adapts to his environment. They are very, very good at it, which is probably why humans are one of the most widely dispersed species on the planet and why there are six—going on seven—billion of them and only one Yuuka. Humans are among the most plastic of lifeforms: They can be taught to do almost anything, and what they cannot be taught to do, they can be taught to believe. Very few other macro-organisms will kill themselves for reasons that are not intimately connected with the survival of their offspring. She should be able to see it all around her.

There's also of course the issue of the anthropomorphic characterization of the earth as a person itself. Even if it really were, then there's still an issue of assuming a negative or vindictive nature of this person. It could just as well be that these 'gifts' were freely given.

Perhaps seeing man's attempt at conservation is more to the point if you're trying to clear up a misconception from something she's seen. In Greater Tokyo there are at least four botanical gardens open to the public:

Itabashi Botanical Garden is an indoor garden over 1 sq. km in Itabashi ward, open every day of the week except Monday, and admission is free. Despite being indoor it has an extensive aquatic portion where they grow mangroves and orchids.
Also in Itabashi is the Akatsuka Botanical Garden which maintains a large number of herbs used in traditional Japanese medicine.
Jindai Botanical Garden in Chofu is an outdoor garden over 100 sq. km. Divided into 30 sections, each being dedicated to varieties of single plant, with some permanent, and others rotated monthly. They are also known for their preservation of endangered Japanese varieties of plants. Admission is inexpensive, and it is open all week except Mondays.
Koishikawa Botanical Gardens in Bunkyo ward is another outdoor botanical garden over 160 sq. km. They are know for their tree garden and their library of preserved herbs. Admission is inexpensive, and it is open all week except Mondays.
Perhaps most spectacularly is the two-story Yumenoshima Tropical Greenhouse in Tokyo's Koto ward, an indoor garden which is built on a reclaimed landfill. It recycles the carbon dioxide and utilizes the heat of the directly adjoining waste incinerating facility. It supports all kinds of rain forest vegetation, but it has an especially broad collection of carnivorous plants.

But you know, I don't see anything you saying or doing changing the opinion of a (presumably) centuries-old monster. I'd vote to push her off the roof (of course, she can fly and would survive anyway), but our protagonist seems to have a problem with killing, even where hypothetical.

[x] Challenge her claim

According to the 'Yuka is secretly a nice person' hypothesis, one would guess she's testing the protagonist's moral character. The 'youkai thrive on conflict' hypothesis sees this as just another attempt to bait a human into an argument, one that she will certainly win, by force if she can't cow the protagonist with her words—which shouldn't be hard considering he was probably selected for his timidity. The "Yuka is openly malevolent" hypothesis sees this either as said with little to no consideration of her audience, or she's testing with how much contempt she can treat the protagonist without it becoming a problem. The 'Yuka is in protracted culture shock' hypothesis explains this as reflexive fear and loathing brought on by the inexplicable change around her, in what to her should be a short time period and of such magnitude that she is helpless to affect it.
>> No. 28252
File 127664947813.jpg - (606.34KB , 1024x768 , Tulips.jpg ) [iqdb]
28252
>>28250
You know what, dude? I love you. Not gay.


>Now what has this hopelessly violent, misanthropic sociopath, and her kind, contributed? She would be homeless if not for a shelter humans built, starving if not for the food humans grew, raised, butchered, and prepared, naked if not for clothing that humans designed. She won't even die if she were killed, so can't even contribute by 'rotting in the ground'. Yet she continues to squat in someone's house, consume their food and resources. In the context of any other species, she would be considered a kleptoparasite or, going by her view, a hyperparasite—a parasite of a parasite.
Amazing. Also, the 'take her to one of Japan's many giant gardens' is interesting and we should remember to do so as soon as we save that guy
Finally, your last paragraph blew my mind. Nice post.
>> No. 28254
She's asking the wrong question.

Suppose if we answer her question like so : "In our cities, we've created an environment where rats, roaches, crows and such thrive." Are we going to get a positive response? Doubtful. Even if it is beneficial to those specific organisms, we've still eliminated much with only our benefit in mind. So, this is not a plus for us. The thing is? If this condemns us, then it condemns every species that has ever existed.

What's oxygen? It's a chemical that's required for just about every bit of complex multicellular life around, and more. Luckily for us, it's produced by plants. Unluckily for even more creatures, it's actually a poison. Seriously. Perhaps the first, and most catastrophic mass extinction on Earth was when oxygen-producing photosynthesis evolved. We consider oxygen a good thing, something that we've been using for nearly three billion years. But it doesn't change the fact that we exist at the expense of anaerobic organisms.

What about a tree? Trees provide food, shelter, materials, etc to a number of different species. The entire point of a tree however, is for their own benefit - if you simply wanted to maximize the sunlight you use, you'd spread out along the ground. By first growing upwards and then outwards, you choke off the light from grasses and any other tree that grows less than you. The fact that such a strategy exists means that some other creatures will take advantage of it, and then grow dependent on it. Doesn't change the fact that the entire point of being a tree is to be a bastard to other plants. Hell, one of the first things that happens when a tree falls in a forest is that a whole bunch of new life springs up, courtesy of the fact that the sunlight and other nutrients aren't being monopolized.

A pregnant rat makes it to an isolated island and her descendants wipe out the native microfauna. Colonists step off on a virgin island and level fields to plant their grain. A storm blows a fungus across the sea where it wipes out entire forests. We do the same, but with axes. We dump our sludge into the oceans, others pump into the air so the atmosphere is one-fifth poison to everything but a select few. What's the difference between what humans do, and what everyone else does? Is it our toys? What's the difference between a chainsaw and a ladybug's mandibles? Would an aphid cry 'foul!' when a new-fangled mutation crushes her exoskeleton? Or how about an improved predator hunting a prey species to extinction? Is there really anything fundamentally different about what humans did and what every other form of life ever to exist ever did? No.

...You know what? Nevermind. Just read >>28250 instead. I type too slow.
>> No. 28255
>>28254
we just do those things on a far grander scale. Natural incidents like that rare pretty rare while human caused ones aren't so commonly. Why else would there be so many "Save the earth" groups if not for the guilt some have that humanity caused such things to be endangered.
>> No. 28256
[x] Sit down and be Mr. Wikipedia. Stun her with every fucking detail posted in this thread. Time for payback, in the form of a massive ear-bleed.

Oh, right. We're also able to come up with this kind of information she and her kind could not. We have plans to go by, science to fix what magic could not, finding the problems and eliminating them efficiently instead of freaking out when something goes wrong and swinging our parasol at anything that comes near.
>> No. 28258
I don't think the Great Wall of China or the Great Pyramids of Giza contributed much to the world. Saving a species or two that were beneficial to mankind compared to the many that they drove to existence is hardly a fair argument. I'm not saying that she's right, just pointing out flaws that she will probably see in our argument.
>> No. 28259
[x] Challenge her claim.
-- [x] Acknowledge a couple of points: some humans are as she said they were, but not everyone. However, just as we can't call every youkai a blood-thirsty monster because a couple are, she can't call every human destructive because a few million out of over six billion are. You can't judge or sterotype an entire species by the actions of a few.

On an unrelated note: more Yuuka time!
>> No. 28260
>>28250
Fallout writefag, is that you?
>> No. 28261
>>28250
I fap to your words.

All of them.

Lion being Lion, thought, I'm not sure we're going to get to pull this off awesomely. I'd like it if we could, but... yeah. I just don't think we're going to change Yuuka's fag status to TOLD.
>> No. 28262
>>28261
More like 'our protagonist being our protagonist', but yeah, agreed.
>> No. 28263
>>28243
Do we know that? I might be missing something.

[x]>>28259
>> No. 28264
File 127668654870.jpg - (7.68KB , 480x360 , animalhouse.jpg ) [iqdb]
28264
>There's feats of architecture and engineering that would cow even her, not the least among them the Great Wall of China and the Great Pyramids of Gaza.

"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
>> No. 28265
>A certain race revered this grand view and vast nature as god.
>But, today, modern societies make a racket about preserving nature.
>When did humans become so big to think they can protect gods...

From my view, asking what a human can do for Nature/The Earth is an absolutely wrong question. If the earth is a mother, then humanity is a child; completely and absolutely dependent upon Mom, but spoiled enough to deny this dependence and also take far more than is necessary. The idea of "saving" the planet is the child saying that it will protect the mother despite being powerless to do so and in fact being a major source of the problem in the first place (and continues to be).

I'm not going more into this because debating on the internet in the past has taught me that I'm completely incomprehensible, so the more I try to explain what I'm thinking the less clear it'll become. Feel free to try to find an answer to Yuka's question out of it yourselves, if anyone thinks it's interesting.
>> No. 28266
>>28262
He's spent enough time inside watching TV and browsing the net to know at least something. He's also shown in the past that he does have a pair.

I don't think Yuuka presents an immediate threat of death. So we can try to get all scholar-whoop-ass-like on her. If it fails, it won't be too miserable.
>> No. 28268
File 127672525374.png - (83.25KB , 1203x706 , 1265175020646.png ) [iqdb]
28268
>>28265
>> No. 28269
File 127672545377.png - (52.42KB , 1622x357 , mother earth.png ) [iqdb]
28269
>>28265
You reminded me of these screencaps from an old "humanity fuck yeah" thread on /tg/. I liked reading this stuff.
>> No. 28270
>Now what has this hopelessly violent, misanthropic sociopath, and her kind, contributed?

One would assume that they haven't contributed to deforestation or mining ripping apart environments. It's a question of whether advancement at the cost of the Earth is justifiable, or stagnation for preservation.

Our cities are getting bigger, yes, but how many are left without homes? For every person living a well-off life, how many others are trying to scrape an existence together?

Being human, we naturally want to jump up to defend humanity against accusations. But we shouldn't blind ourselves to our flaws just so we can justify everything we do. Yuuka might not be able to pick out flaws in our argument, seeing as Gensokyo was cut off from the Outside in the mid-1800s. That doesn't meant that we should mindlessly shovel every single great human achievement since then in her face while turning a blind eye to our mistakes.

And those are just my thoughts. Show Yuuka we can think, instead of being a sheep reciting human greats. In before someone accuses me of being a human-hater.
>> No. 28271
>>28270

I might agree with you under other circumstances, but Yuuka is challenging us specifically to name virtues. She of all people has no need for us to name human faults, so I see no reason for that to enter into our side of the discussion just yet.

Besides, humanity is pretty fucking awesome, whatever its shortcomings.
>> No. 28272
>>28270
I like your way of thinking and all the list of so called human acheviments, most of which wouldn't impress a youkai, and the whole making new species thing may come off as playing god than doing good.
>> No. 28275
>>28270
>Our cities are getting bigger, yes, but how many are left without homes? For every person living a well-off life, how many others are trying to scrape an existence together?

When you're talking to someone who believes that the only good human is a corpse, hand-wringing over the uneven distribution of commodities is probably not going to affect their opinion of humanity one way or the other. In fact to them it is all the more better that there is poverty, since this means some humans to die much more quickly than they would otherwise.

>Being human, we naturally want to jump up to defend humanity against accusations. But we shouldn't blind ourselves to our flaws just so we can justify everything we do.

We're just trying to justify our continued existence on this biosphere. That's what Yuka has called us out on, and that's what we're all thinking about. No one is going to walk away reading this thread thinking 'golly I guess recycling isn't really important' or 'gee why worry about global warming, winter sucks'.

>Yuuka might not be able to pick out flaws in our argument, seeing as Gensokyo was cut off from the Outside in the mid-1800s. That doesn't meant that we should mindlessly shovel every single great human achievement since then in her face while turning a blind eye to our mistakes.

We don't need to turn a blind eye to anything, since Yuka's got two, and everything she sees from this view she hates with a singular and unyielding antipathy.

And I don't see anyone trying to 'mindlessly shovel' anything down anyone's throat, apart from a few apologists trying to somehow moralize Yuka's utter lack of regard for human life, whether as a collective or as individuals. If you follow the votes, a fairly concise '[x] Challenge her claim' is in the lead, not a treatise on anthropocentrism that you have to fall over yourself in trying to refute.
>> No. 28278
>When did humans become so big to think they can protect gods...

Ever since humans aquired the technology to oppose youkai and to poison the whole damn planet.
>> No. 28285
File 127683626473.jpg - (133.04KB , 638x358 , b91f6a77d117311e7376bfbb7a955ef7.jpg ) [iqdb]
28285
Hell no, she isn’t!

“You!” I shout out in spite of myself, throwing caution to the winds. Her eyes quickly dart over to me, though she doesn’t express any surprise or shock at my sudden outburst. “How can you talk about us like that? What gives you the right to insult and talk down to humans!? ‘We do nothing but take from the Earth’? That’s not true!”

“Really now,” she begins crossly, her red eyes fixatedly staring at me in a sharp glare. So sharp that I can almost feel my resolve being cut down under her gaze, though I don’t dare falter now that I went and mouthed off like that. “…Is that what you think?”

“That’s right,” I say, swallowing hard. My heart pounds, and I feel it sinking slightly as I’m about to give voice to my next words, hoping that they won’t be my last. “…But what about you? What have you done to give back to the world? What have you—and all of your kind—ever done to give back to the world, huh? What makes you so above it all that you can talk like that to us!?”

“…You’ve gained some impudence, I see,” she mutters in reply, though rather than angry or outraged or irritated, my outburst only seems to have brought a smirk back to her face. It soon disappears, however, and she begins to speak in a much colder tone of voice. “But even if you accuse youkai of the same guilt, it doesn’t absolve humans of it. You haven’t given me an answer yet.”

“That’s easy,” I say, furrowing my brows. “There are organizations dedicated to preserving nature and wildlife.”

“An interference which would be completely unnecessary had it not been for humans in the first place,” she responds coolly. “Those efforts are nothing but humanity attempting to console itself over its actions, planting a single tree as ten more are cut down. It’s masturbation.”

“Humans have also helped save countless species of plants and animals that wouldn’t have survived in the wild!”

“How pointless. If they were going to die anyway, then let them die. Do you consider it a virtue to interfere with the direct course of nature? Humans have done enough of that already without allowing worthless life forms to persist, don’t you think?”

Wha…?

“Then… what about us,” I mutter, allowing my hands to relax. “…Aren’t we part of nature, too? What’s wrong with us doing what we do? What separates us from other animals who feed off the land without giving anything back? Why are humans alone the ones deserving of scorn?”

“…That is,” she pauses, looking at me with a calm, serene look on her face, “…because of human potential.”

Human… potential?

“Humans alone have the possibility of limitless advancement,” she says, looking away and turning back to the cityscape before her, taking in a deep breath. “…They’re all tenacious little insects, really; like a bunch of cockroaches.”

“…Why are you suddenly praising us now?” I ask, confounded. I thought she held humans in disdain…?

“Am I, though?” she asks, that enigmatic smirk returning to her face again.

“Aren’t you saying that humans have greater potential than youkai?”

“That’s right,” she says with a nod. “In our kind, there is stagnation. There is no denying that. There are those who have embraced human technology, but in the end it’s nothing more than imitation of existing human progress.”

“So then why—?”

Her smirk grows wider. “Do you believe that I was praising humans?”

…Eh?

“It’s because of human advancement that humanity has acquired the ability to disrupt nature to the extent that it does. Because of its potential, humans have developed to the point where they have taken complete control of this world, and turned the tables on their predators,” she continues, her smirk becoming a wry grin.

“…You call us monsters, but look where we are now. Youkai, those who rule the night and hunt humans, have been driven out of their place in the world by the very things they prey on. And now, without anything to limit their growth and lessen their numbers, their growth has only hastened. With each and every step that humanity advances, the world perishes little by little.”

She pauses, raising a hand to her face. A single flower appears in her hand with a flash of light, its petals yet to blossom. “It’s really quite selfish, don’t you think so as well? When a flower blooms, it does so with the power of the soil. When it withers away, the petals fall to the ground, and return to the soil the power it borrowed. Isn’t that how it should be? It’s such a simple law of nature, and yet it’s one that humans don’t follow.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“For the sake of advancement, to establish a city as large as this,” Yuuka says, gesturing toward the tall skyscrapers standing in the distance, “…humans destroy fertile lands and forests. They poison the air with smog and pollute the water with filth. But for all that they take, for all the power that humans gain through their progress… can they give life to the lands that have died?”

“What was that?”

“I’m asking whether it’s possible for humans to give life to what has already become a wasteland,” she says, staring straight at me in the eyes now. “This world is dying—it has been since the beginning of its existence—but human advancement has, so far, only hastened its degeneration.”



“Do you remember what we talked about before? It’s easy to destroy something, but it takes much more to create.”

“…You talk like you can do something,” I snap back in a bitter tone of voice.

“Maybe I can,” she says with an amused smile.

Turning around fully, she claps her hands together, the fingers of her hands interlocking with one another as she cups her hands in front of her. A faint glow emits from her hands as she closes her eyes in apparent concentration. Slowly opening her eyes, she opens up her hands before throwing them up into the air. A shower of seeds descends down on the surface of the rooftop as I cover my head with my arms, feeling them raining down and bouncing off my body, falling to the concrete at my feet.

And then, they grow.

It’s an amazing sight, as dozens and dozens of seedlings sprout out from the cracked outer layers of the seeds in no time at all. Even though there’s no sun, or rain, or even soil to burrow themselves into and grow out of, the seeds continue to mature, sprouting up up up and reaching my height in split seconds. Soon, I find myself facing the brilliantly colored face of a sunflower facing me, one of many surrounding us on this roof.

“What the hell—!?” I find myself yelling out in wonder, looking about at the heads of sunflowers all pointing their faces toward me. This is unreal! Wait a minute… “…Hey, if you can do something this amazing, why aren’t you doing anything about everything that you’re complaining about?!”

“Because I have no attachments to this world,” she responds with a flat voice, sweeping her hair out of her face with one hand. “This world belongs to humans. I have no interest in solving their problems for them. It’s their responsibility.”

As if on cue, all of the sunflowers around us wilt just as quickly as they had sprouted, collapsing to the ground as they die, shriveling away until they disappear into nothing. It happens so quickly that it’s almost unbelievable that there was a sunflower patch on this very rooftop just a few seconds ago.

“Wha…? If you didn’t care in the first place, why all this—!?”

“You feel strongly about this, don’t you?”

“Huh?”

She slowly walks over to me, standing only a couple of feet away now. Looking up, staring at me directly in the eyes again, she parts her lips to speak, “…In that case, why don’t you prove me wrong?”

“Prove you wrong…?”

“Prove to me that human achievements don’t always come at a cost to the world,” she says, unblinking and completely serious. “Prove to me that it’s possible for human efforts to not only stop the decay of the world, but reverse it. If you accomplish that, then I’ll congratulate you.”

“You’re… asking me?” I say, completely stunned. “No way! I can’t do something like that! That’s way too big for someone like me…”

“Are you giving up before you even start?” she asks, raising an eyebrow. “It would do you some good to have a little drive and ambition. Maybe then you would be more of a man than you are a dog.”

A… dog?

But… she’s being completely unreasonable. I’m no one. I can’t do something like that. She’s asking for the impossible here. Maybe… maybe I should just agree to get her off my back.

[ ] Agree.
[ ] Don’t be ridiculous.
>> No. 28286
[x] Don’t be ridiculous.
>> No. 28288
[ ] Agree.
>> No. 28289
[x] "Fine! B-But it's not l-like I'm doing it for you or anything!"

Stupid sexy youkai!

>planting a single tree as ten more are cut down
I was under the impression that for every tree cut down, two more are planted. That's not counting groups that plant trees outside of big business.
>They poison the air with smog and pollute the water with filth
Cleaning plants, nature, etc.

It's not like we've poured concrete over everything.
>I’m asking whether it’s possible for humans to give life to what has already become a wasteland
Yes.
>Prove to me that human achievements don’t always come at a cost to the world
They don't.
>that it’s possible for human efforts to not only stop the decay of the world, but reverse it.
Why am I having a hard time understanding why he can't answer this?
>> No. 28290
I'm curious if we could really pull it off if the MC applied himself, since Senpai did consider the MC very talented and was surprised at his lot in life.

And I'm curious what caused the MC to settle for such an existence.
>> No. 28291
>>28290
I'm guessing it has something to do with this Sakurazaki chick that has him going emo at the very mention of her name.
>> No. 28292
[x] "Fine! B-But it's not l-like I'm doing it for you or anything!"

Lol'd. Best choice.

I'm sure we can come up with something. Although with the sort of friends we have been getting lately it might not be done by just human hands.
>> No. 28294
>>28291
How American/Dante Hicks of him. Where's a japanese Randall Graves when you need him?

>>28292
Not sure if non-human help would disqualify him or not in Yuuka's eyes.
>> No. 28296
[X] Agree, but try to extract a promise/offer of help - her powers are too impressive to ignore.

>>28289

Well, in this case he is trying to argue against a terrifying youkai - even if his argument is a good as >>28250 it doesn't work so well if you might be gutted for it.

>>28294

Well, non-human help should be okay so long as he runs it himself, if humans are allowed to use tools then they are allowed to use others as tools.
Hell, he might be able to get Yuuka to help - seeing as how she is a freeloader. If she can create plants and flowers at will, then it shouldn't be beyond her to create enhanced crops and other very interesting things (if she can make cultured plants then she probably can - maybe with experimentation) though it would be years before you can distribute them.

Of course, I'm finding it hard to think of anything he can openly do that isn't go back to university and study nanotechnology/genetics/biology so he can do things properly.

She should be able to understand the argument that there's only so much that can be done until the technology has matured.

If Yuuka doesn't know anything about plant biology she might be interested...
>> No. 28298
>>28289
At least Yuuka never made a remark about a certain nigh-uncleanable oil spill.
>> No. 28301
>Those efforts are nothing but humanity attempting to console itself over its actions, planting a single tree as ten more are cut down.
Sad but true. As long as there are people who care more about money than the nature and the earth it will never stop.
>With each and every step that humanity advances, the world perishes little by little.
We will just kill each other one day.

[x] Agree.
>> No. 28303
[x] Agree.
>> No. 28305
[x] Agree.

The world is changing for the worst, but people are the opposite. Ecological concerns are growing and, as small as it is, it's a start.
>> No. 28306
[x] "Fine! B-But it's not l-like I'm doing it for you or anything!"

What could possibly go wrong? Apart from you know, everything. And the fact that it's kinda hard to see the MC go all tsundere on Yuuka. Buuut....sometimes you've got to take risks to get the reward.

Apart from that, sometimes the first step is the hardest step, and sometimes, one person is all it takes to get the ball rolling.
>> No. 28307
>>28306
With the way she just stepped on our pride, outright agreeing or declining would be accepting that we're really the dog she thinks we are.

We are NOT a dog, but proving her wrong is for our own self-interest, not to have her take back what she said. W-Why should we care about what she thinks of us? That's j-just stupid.
>> No. 28309
[busty botany] "Fine! B-But it's not l-like I'm doing it for you or anything!"

I want nothing to do with the argument, but I still find this the better vote.
>> No. 28310
>>28306
Clicheness is MAXIMUM!
>> No. 28311
[x] "Fine! B-But it's not l-like I'm doing it for you or anything!"
>> No. 28312
[x] "Fine! B-But it's not l-like I'm doing it for you or anything!"

I should hit myself for even thinking of choosing this but what the hell I'll go with it.
>> No. 28313
I think that went really well actually, especially it culminating with Yuka telling the protagonist to change his hikikomori ways.

He's got good connections. With all of the people he'll (hopefully) save from the mass murderer, he may be able to do something serious.

[x] "Fine! B-But it's not l-like I'm doing it for you or anything!"

He's about to make a big life decision, so it's acceptable if he stutters.
>> No. 28315
>>28306
I usually frown at the sight of 'tsundere talk' but the image of him, don't even bothering hiding his anxiety, but deciding to go with it anyway, is really inspiring.

After all, what's more human than surpassing your own limits?
>> No. 28320
[x] "Fine! B-But it's not l-like I'm doing it for you or anything!"

I like where this is going.
>> No. 28322
>"Fine! B-But it's not l-like I'm doing it for you or anything!"
By now you people should have realized that Lion is not the kind of writer to just write something like that.

But sometimes i wonder if there will ever be some kind of romance in his stories.
>> No. 28323
>>28322
Oh, there's romance. We just haven't seen anybody doing the deed, yet.
>> No. 28324
>“Look at me, man,” he says in a dead-serious tone, pointing to himself. “Look. A dumbass like me made it up here. Don’t tell me you can’t fuckin’ achieve anything, you were brilliant."

This has to count for something.
>> No. 28325
[x] Agree.

Gonna have to say no thank you on the whole tsundere thing.
>> No. 28326
[x] "Fine! B-But it's not l-like I'm doing it for you or anything!"

I miss Sousha. ;_;
>> No. 28328
In light of >>28324, deleting >>28309.

[busty botany] Man the fuck up and agree.

EDIT: Fucking password...
>> No. 28329
[x] Agree.

Breaking out of a rut starts with a few small steps. That and Kana's much better than what's her face.