Sorry about the delay. The 3DS- ER, that is, my studies kept me busy! Ah-ha-ha…

But seriously, I do have a 3DS as of now. And Street Fighter 4. Much ass-kicking is to be had, rest assured. I haven't lost track of my studies though, never fear! (Believe me, my high school Junior year is the LAST place I want missed credits…)

Here we go, readers! Arc 2 BEGIN!


ARC 2: Unrivaled Avian Calamity


Chapter 17: Marios for your Luigis

"…Hmph."

In a dark room of an unknown building at an unspecified location, a near-giant, heavyset figure watched events transpire from a glassy portal. He'd returned just in time to see Chino fleeing from the underground reactor. Needless to say, whatever he'd done, they wouldn't be recruiting Utsuho Reiuji any time soon. It was…

"Troublesome." The figure muttered in a gruff tone, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. "Commander, you informed me that this one was one of your higher-ranked soldiers. Why does he display such cowardice?"

"Forgive me, Master." Said a female voice belonging to a normal-sized figure with a slender frame replied. "Chino is quite versatile in his combat capabilities, but he is too…prideful."

"He's a fool." The Master corrected grumpily. "And more importantly, that girl was one of our top priorities. Roping her in will be nigh impossible, if even that."

"I understand, Master." The Commander replied, kneeling before the massive other. "Please, do not condemn Chino. The fault is mine, and I will bear-"

"Enough."

The Commander's breath hitched in her throat, too frightened to move and the Master stood from his chair, towering over her.

"M…Master?"

"I instruct you," The Master began, his calm voice betraying his limited patience, "to train our soldiers to the best of your ability, and to only dispatch them when they are ready. This boy clearly is not yet prepared for the trials of battle against youkai ranking beyond the meager garden variety in the surrounding forests."

The Commander slowly lowered her head, the Master's words a searing prod to her pride.

"More importantly," He continued, heavily thudding on the wooden floorboards as he paced back and forth, "you shame our clan when you make such blunders. Am I understood?"

"Yes, Master." The Commander replied in a choked voice.

"…I should hope so." The giant male returned to his throne-like chair, turning back towards the viewing portal. "For your luck, there are still the two others. I would like to think the next attempt goes…better than this one did, Commander?"

The Commander could make no more sounds. She merely made a stiff nod in response.

"Very good." The Master waved her off without facing her, showing the massive feathers linked to his humanoid arms. "Now begone."

The Commander was gone in an afterimage and a flourish of onyx feathers. The Master continued watching from his seat.

It was time to see exactly how well his old "negotiator" understood just how badly she'd ruined their agreement.


-FIVE DAYS LATER-

AHHHHHH…

Man, that felt good!

"Are you quite done stretching?" Ran practically sweat dropped from the doorway.

"Nah, I'm good!" I grin, grabbing my weapons from the corner. "Let's see what Gappy has to say!"

Ran disappears in a gap, and I hurl myself from the door, catching the western stair railing, swinging myself onto it, and surfing down. I hop off at the knob on the end, landing in a roll and straightening myself out in front of the mirror at the door.

I've been staying with the Yakumos the past week, and I've got to say, it's been an awesome few days! Granted, half of the six I spent in bed, healing from my match with Flandre, but all well that ends well!

Right, now let's see… Looking handsome! Ha, naw, that's a Mother joke. In all seriousness though, how am I coming along?

"Yo Ran, mind turning away for a second?" I call over my shoulder.

"Why, are you embarrassed, Ryan?" The kitsune teases, peering out from the dining room.

"Nah. I just don't want you to faint from overexposure to pure manly." I reply with a smirk. From the corner of the reflection, I can see Ran adopt that oh-so-sought-after blush. "Away with ye!"

"Gladly." She smirks back. "If I want to see a Picasso, I'll go to a museum."

Ooh-hoo-hoo, sick burn! I've taught her well these past days. Now then! Shirt off!

I slide my t-shirt over my head, allowing me to see just how complete my recovery is. My pecs are a bit more defined, my shoulder broader, and I can just make out the beginning of my abs. The work I've taken these extra two days to do has really paid off! I'm just glad this woman has immediate access to any kind of bodybuilding equipment! …What was it Yukari said while I was still bedridden?

"Should you train while your body heals, it is likely to be in a better condition then you had left it in."

Something like that. So, did some crunches, moved some bars, not to mention I'm sure a chunk of this has resulted from my several battles I've had here already. Maybe danmaku burns fat, hell, I dunno. Oh right, I still need to check that

*Whistle* Day-yum! Flanny, you oughta be a tattoo artist, because that's what you did between my pecs! Just above where my rib cage's center, there's a deep, crimson mark from where her wand pierced through me. I guess it might've been really hot, what with the explosions, but whatever. Anyway, it left a "plus" sign in my chest, with a large circle in the middle.

Oh, but that's not the coolest part. You know how some people can make theirs dance?

"Heh." I take in solar energy from the window. The mark begins to radiate a light blue.

Mine glows in the dark. Suck it, Tony Stark.

"Ryan-shan, what 'cha doing?"

GUH! Moe alert!

ACT…NATURAL.

"Ch-Ch-Chen!" I grin nervously, holding my shirt over my exposed manly. "I, eh, didn't see you there, kiddo."

That wasn't natural.

Bite me, CS.

"Why you holding your shirt up for?" Chen asked, head tilting. Adorably head tilting. "Aren't 'cha gonna put it on?"

"Um, yeah!" I nod rapidly with a false grin. "Yeah, I was just, eh, making sure it didn't shrink in the wash! You run along, now!"

"Hee-hee! Okaaaaaay." The nekomata giggles ands skips off to the dining room.

…Whoo! Crisis averted. Ran would've gutted me if I was bare in front of Chen! Well, better toss this back on. Farewell my manly mark, we'll always have my facebook page.

"So, what's going on?" I ask, rounding the corner into the room. Yukari is seated at the head of the wooden table while Chen eats a spoonful of Cherrios and Ran sips her mug of coffee. I see there's a McMuffin at one seat, so I hustle over and grab it before Yukari changes her mind. "Oh, and thanks for grabbing breakfast."

"No trouble." Yukari smiles. Her expression quickly becomes more stern. "Still, there is a reason I've called you all down so early in the day."

"Really?' I ask before biting into the delicious blend of egg, cheese, and sausage. I continue with my mouth full. "Letsh shear it shen!"

"Hee-hee!" Chen point at me in a fit of giggles. "Ryan-shan's cheeks are all chubby."

Yukari sighs and gives Chen an endearing smile before gapping a rectangular something onto the table.

"Take a look at this."


"I don't get it, ze." Marisa blinks at the newspaper Reimu set in front of her, a cup of tea in her lap.

The two were sitting on the steps of the Hakurei shrine, enjoying some morning tea. However, Reimu couldn't entirely enjoy it - something had been bugging her for the past day or two.

"No, Marisa," Reimu explained, pointing to the top, "look at the date on this paper."

Marisa blinked, squinting at the date before nodding.

"Yeah, it says this was run four days ago." She looked to Reimu with a quizzical look. "I still don't get it. What, did your subscription get cancelled, ze?"

"That's just it." Reimu said with a shake of her head. "It's not just me. This is the most recent issue of the Bunbunmaru to be released."

"…Huh." Marisa stroked her chin, eyes closed in thought. "Yeah, that is a bit weird. Aya would never miss a day of printing, let alone four of 'em!"

"That's not all, though." Reimu said with a grim look.

"It's not, ze?"


"Mystia's gone missing!" Cried the ice fairy Cirno, looking actually frightened for once as she explained things to the two outside the Scarlet Devil mansion.

"And this Mystia is…?" Sakuya asked with a raised eyebrow.

"She's one of her friends, Sakuya-san." Meiling replied. She nodded to Cirno. "Okay, continue."

"It-It was the day after the Bunbunmaru didn't print!" Cirno pressed on, "Mystia got angry that she's been jipped out of a paper, so she left her stand!"

"…A shame." Sakuya muttered. "My lady actually enjoys the girl's grilled eel whenever I can get some…"

"It's my fault…!" Cirno moaned. "She asked me to come with her, but I said no! I was still mad that we hadn't found Rumia, and-and-and…!"

"Shhhh." Meiling hushed the fairy, setting a friendly hand on her shoulder. "It's okay. There's no need to get hysterical."

"Yes there is…" Cirno began. "I asked the shrine maiden, but she didn't help. And I've heard rumors from some of the not-strongest fairies…rumors say that whoever might have taken Mystia aren't really weak, either."

"Not weak, you say?" Sakuya stepped forward, intrigued. "Just how… 'not weak' are we speaking of?"


"Attacks? On human and youkai settlements?"

"That is correct."

Far, far away from any of the locations mentioned prior, a girl in green and a pale princess discussed matters on the porch of their estate, surrounded by cherry blossoms that never withered. The girl was being shadowed constantly by a wispy orb white as her hair, about the side of her lower body. In her hand was clutched a katana that she was practicing with, swinging it through the air with power and speed uncanny for a girl her size. The princess was an otherworldly beauty, covered in a powder blue gown that accented her ghostly skin. Her pink hair was kept by a blue hat bearing an odd, red spiral. She was covering her face with a black fan, eyes half-lidded as she spoke to the other.

The smaller girl's name is Youmu Konpaku. She is a half-ghost - a near-extinct breed these days. The orb that circles her like a beloved twin is her ghost half, whom she's come to call Myon.

Youmu is the gardener of this place, the chief of upkeep. However, that's not all - she is a master swordswoman, her speed and skill both legendary and bewared by even the likes of Reimu and Marisa.

The other woman is even more impressive. Few have ever met her alive, and even fewer have ever left her presence afterward. She might act a bit air headed at times, and she's an unrivaled glutton, but none can deny her power. With a touch that can instill death if she so wills it, Yuyuko Saigyouji, Princess of the Netherworld, is a specter to be feared.

Youmu is Yuyuko's servant, following the role her family has filled for ages. Yuyuko is and old friend of Yukari, her best friend actually - they go so far back that Yukari actually knew the ghost when she was alive.

"I don't suppose this has caused much unnecessary traffic, Lady Yuyuko?" Youmu asked, taking a sharp stab at the air, beneath a cherry blossom.

"Oh, hardly. Komachi's reported nothing of the sort." Yuyuko replied. "…Still."

"Still?" Youmu halted her practice. Whenever Yuyuko trailed off like that, it meant bad news. "What is it, my lady?"

"Hm. Oh, I don't know~." Yuyuko sang absent mindedly, fan fluttering in front of her face. "Perhaps I shouldn't tell~!"

"Please!" Youmu nearly shouted. However, at the raise of her mistresses' eyebrow, Youmu quickly straightened up and bowed meekly. "I am sorry, I didn't mean that! Please, what has happened?"

There was a pause.

"EEP!" Youmu shrieked as Yuyuko playfully ruffled her hair with her free hand.

"Oh-ho-ho, Youmu, you're so easily teased!" Yuyuko giggled as Youku went red with embarrassment. "Still, if you must know…"

Youmu kneeled before Yuyuko, awaiting her words.

"I can sense it. Many a soul involved in these raids have been pushed not all the way to, but quite near to the Sanzu River. It troubles me. This can only mean that dozens have been brought to the brink of death or injured quite badly by this force."

"Truly?" Youmu gasped, sitting rigidly at this information. "Dozens for each attack? That seems far too large a number for just another territory battle…"

"Those were my thoughts." Yuyuko said with a whimsical smile. "Stop stealing my thoughts, Youmu. But anyway, there was word from one of our hells that something interesting has recently transpired. It makes me think something big is going to happen~!"

"From one of the hells?" Youmu exclaimed. "Please, Lady Yuyuko, tell me!"

"Oh, if you're going to be so pushy." The ghost yawned. "But since you insist…"


WHAT?

"WHAT?"I shout, throwing my hands down on the table. "Okuu was attacked?"

"Indeed." Yukari nodded. "Now do you see, Ryan?"

Damn. It'd be one thing if it was just two missing birds, but…

These attacks…and someone infiltrated the reactor…

They went after the Hell Raven. This isn't just some kidnapping or series of riots.

"Yukari." I begin, now having the other two's attention. "We're staring down an incident, aren't we?"

"Yes we are." She responded, her serious face broken by a knowing smile.

Ah, I get it. I was heading off today, anyhow. I'm guessing Yukari wants me to tell the professional incident-solver, in other words, my "landlady". I stuff the last bit of McMuffin into my mouth, cauding Rin to giggle again while Ran attempts to tell her that this is impolite. Chewing rapidly and forcing the wad down, I turn to Yukari with an affirmative nod.

"Alright, you got it." I stand from the table, reaching for my weapons sitting beneath. "Soon as I head back to the Hakurei shrine, I'll get ahold of Reimu, and-"

"Ap-ap-ap." Yukari tuts.

…Muh?

"I never said anything about that, now did I?" Yukari says with a fake pout. "And here I thought you were wising up…"

OI!

"Hey, uncalled for!" I snap in a whiny fashion. In retrospect, not the best choice of response if one wants to be taken seriously.

"Ran, if you've finished, go make preparations." Yukari instructed her shikigami. Ran answered compliantly, then left the table to go to another room, Chen at her heels with a bit of milk dribbling from her mouth.

…Freaking adorable.

"Ryan. Eyes front."

Oh. Right. Sorry.

"Now, it's become quite clear to me that your power is not just what we thought it was at first. It has caused your to become far more flexible and versatile in how you conduct yourself, applying to not just body but mind as well. Granted, the change thus far hasn't been too immense - honestly, you've barely scratched at your potential for growth. However, I'm satisfied in the notion that you can now stand in Gensokyo on your own two feet. The deciding factor within this was your most recent triumph."

Right…I beat Flandre… But still!

"It was just a Spell Card battle." I insist. "And besides, you helped."

"Even Marisa had trouble with that one in a Spell Card match, and I've assisted Reimu multiple times in those battles before, both directly and indirectly." Yukari states firmly, though there's a hint of warmth in there. "You bested a high-class youkai, even if it wasn't in terms of power. You can handle this, I'm sure of it now."

"…Alright…?" I respond. Okay, Yukari, what are you driving at?

-! Unless-

"You know," Yukari began, standing from her chair, "you're the second outsider I've ever approved for this kind of thing. All the same, I feel it's necessary."

No. Freaking. Way.

"So, you don't want me going to Reimu, because…?" I say, unable to hide my grin behind my questioning tone.

"Why bother?" Yukari smiled, strolling over to me with an approving look. "You're going to be out there with her. I want you to help in resolving this incident."


"Well, shoot, ze!" Marisa grinned, standing up and rotating her arm, "you can count me in!"

"Marisa, I haven't even invited you." Reimu groaned.

"Well, tough." Marisa responded, stretching her legs. "We're best pals, right?"

"…" Reimu paused before speaking. "Admittedly."

"Exactly!" Marisa laughed, starting for her broom. "During that whole 'fake moon' thing with the moon people, you got to team up with the Gap Hag while I got stuck with Alice! Now, don't get me wrong- she's one hell of a magician, ze."

"Then why not go with her?" Reimu asked, concealing a bit of hope.

"Be-caaaaauuuuse," Marisa began, throwing an arm around Reimu's neck, "I wanted us to do the whole tag-team thing. Can you imagine how much hell the two of us can raise together?"

"I've…imagined it." Reimu said, a small smile forming at the corner of her lips.

"Ha-ha, that's more like it!" Marisa grinned. She went down the steps and hopped onto her broom, tilting the brim of her hat over her eyes. Her toothy grin shone beneath. "Well, whaddaya waiting for? Unless you want me to leave you behind?"

Reimu couldn't hide her smirk. For having little-to-no self-control, Marisa always knew just the thing to say to get someone to spring into action.

"As if." Reimu responded, Yin-Yang orbs appearing at her sides as she ascended. "Let's just hope you don't slow me down."

Nothing needed be said further.

The two inseparable friends had formed the first team.


"Ha-ha, SCORE!" I laughed, tearing up the stairs and flinging open the door to my temporary quarters.

I shouldn't be this excited, it's not healthy, but…oh, hells yes! This is what I've been waiting for since I entered Gensokyo! Joining an ass-kicking campaign to save the little guy and kick the great and evil power that threatens them right in the jewels! Adventure, goddammit!

Not to mention, how much street cred could I get for beating the tar out of the punk who would threaten Gensokyo? Oh, I bet no youkai's gonna look at me like a doughnut -no offense, Flan- after this is over!

…Okay, so I don't know if I'll actually get to pound someone in the name of justice. Honestly? Who cares? It's a freaking adventure all the same!

"Okay," I mutter, gathering things to take. "Let's see…"

Claymore? Check.

Buster? Check.

Jacket? Check-a-rooney.

Cons? Checked again.

Oh, and my iPod! I'ma need some tunes for the road! Got it.

"Hey, Ran!" I call. I just realized, I'll need something to nosh on, or I'll never survive.

"Yes?" Comes the voice from another room. "I'm a little occupied, Ryan!"

"Sorry, but I have to ask, are there any bags of chips or fruits or anything around?" I ask in a shout. "I'll need some fuel for the trip."


"Sakuya-san, can't you just make the meals beforehand?" Meiling whined. If there's one thing she didn't want to have to deal with on this voyage, it was having to smell food cooking without behind able to tear into it right away.

"Certainly not." Sakuya responded with a roll of her eyes, stuffing various ingredients into a small sack from the kitchen stores. "We have no time. The Mistress commands that we set out as soon as possible to investigate these matters and punish those responsible. You never know if this unruly band will come knocking at our door looking to force us out, and I'd rather strike them at the source before they can see the opportunity."

"Excellent thinking, Sakuya." Came the velvet voice of the Scarlet Devil from the doorway. "The sooner the better. Although, you did leave instructions for Koakuma and the staff, yes?"

"Among recipes and other things." Sakuya answered, before adding a quick, "My lady."

"Remilia-sama," Meiling asked with worried eyes, "are you certain you do not wish me to remain here?"

"Hm." Remilia turned away, reconsidering her order. After some pondering, she returned to facing the guard. "No, it's for the best. This unknown group has been making very quick progress through the various settlements sprinkled about Gensokyo. The two of you should be able to deal with them without much hassle at a faster rate."

"Fear nothing, my lady." Sakuya stood upright, having collected what she needed, and bowed to her mistress.

"Hai, ojou-sama!" Meiling stood at attention, saluting firmly. "We won't disappoint you!"

"Good." Remilia replied with a twitch of a smile. "I'm counting on you two."

The guard and maid nodded. The second team was prepared to disembark.


"Whew. Thanks, Ran!" I call, starting down the stairs. Having reached the bottom, I throw the door open, and take my first step-

-wait, WAIT!

All the excitement, I totally forgot! Okuu got attacked! I'm sure she whooped the guy hard, but…even so!

"Yukari!" I shut the door and turn back, making for the living room. "Yukari, you there?"

I could see her right away as I rounded the corner. The great and mighty overseer was now, in essence, a raw couch potato, hazy eyes directed towards the plasma screen ahead of her. Good lord, she's practically sinking into the plush material, she's so lazy. I mean, we were just talking fifteen minutes ago!

…Well, now, what's this? An air horn?

Heh-heh-heh…

"Hey Yuk-aaaaaaaa-riiiii~?" I sing, edging closer.

"Whassahuh?"

PPPPHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

"GYAHHHHHH!" The blonde shoots from her seat, literally! To my dismay, she opens a gap in the roof to keep from slamming her head into it, and sets the opening to the floor, eliminating any potential pain factor. Ah, now you're thinking with portals, Yukari!

"Ryan," Yukari begins slowly with a menacing tone, "you'd best have a very good reason for turning my own air horn on me."

"You want to hurl me through a gap?" I ask nonchalantly, tossing the can-horn off to the side. "If so, could you please aim it at the underground, Satori's place specifically?"

"…" Yukari's expression softens. Of course, I figured she'd get it right away. "Consider yourself lucky I appreciate the chivalry in your intent. Otherwise, I'd seal you in a dimension filled with respawning fairies?"

Erm…ah-ha… You're kidding right? Gulp.

"Th-The kind with the annoyingly high voices?" I ask. Yukari smirks deviously.

"Big time."

OH LORD, A NAVI DIMENSION! My ears, they already bleed!

Quick Man- erm…quick, man! To the floor!

"I'm sorry-I'm sorry-I'm sorry!" I three-peat, kneeling in Wily's "please forgive me" pose.

"Goodness," Ran muttered, coming around the corner, "what did you do to him?"

"Take note, Ran." Yukari grinned triumphantly. "Never underestimate the bargaining power of a fictional nuisance."


"Yes, My Lady." Youmu kneeled, taking her sword from the grass at her bent knee. "So long as you're certain."

Yuyuko smiled whimsically, drawing her fan up and covering half her face.

"Oh, Youmu, of course I'm sure!" Yuyuko hold her free hand forward, motioning towards empty air. "The last time we went out, it was to help my dear friend tie up some loose ends from the Lunar War. Oh, but shouldn't we be able to go have some fun with these amateurs who think they're tough, actually have fun for the sake of fun?"

"…Well, I never questioned you…" Youmu said in a hushed tone that she knew Yuyuko could hear. "B-But when you phrase it in such a way, I find myself with no reason to!"

Yuyuko narrowed her eyes.

"NOTTHATIHADREASONTOBEGINWITH!" Youmu shrieked, ducking a little.

Yuyuko sighed.

"Honestly, Youmu, you make me feel bad about teasing you when you get so riled up…" The ghost pouted. "well, anyway, we should be off…"

A blue line appeared in the air, from which wispy spirits began to leak out. Youmu went wide-eyed at the sight.

"Mistress…!" The gardener breathed.

"It was after seeing Yukari's trick so many times!" Yuyuko chirped proudly. "I figured out that I can open a similar rift…though they only link to my domain, and I can't tear them open willy-nilly. It takes too much energy, I could exorcise myself trying!"

Yuyuko floated down to Youmu, clutching the middle of her arm and causing her to yelp.

"So, in that case," Yuyuko continued, "We'll only open two: one for now, and one for the return, okay?"

"Y-Yes." Youmu finally spoke. "That seems perfectly fine…"

Yuyuko tugged on the half-ghost's arm, giving her enough reason to begin walking. Yuyuko's hand flicked slightly, causing the line to gape open, revealing a pitch black pit from which spirits lazily floated out.

Youmu made no words, but gulped nervously. For Yuyuko, it was understandable. After all, she'd never used this portal but once to return from Yukari's abode after a get-together. She wasn't even sure Youmu would be alright. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

"Oh-ho-ho…" Yuyuko shook her head lightly at her own mischief. "Let us be off."

"Understood."

The spectral pair stepped into the darkness. With a creaking groan, the portal slammed shut, and the third team was on their way.


"Waaaaagh!" I screamed helplessly, tumbling through the purple void. All of the eyes are curved upwards, as if a laughing mouth could fit beneath each pair. Fitting, since that was what Yukari was doing when she hurled me into it. Again. Oh, and here's the exit.

WHUNK-CRASH!

"OOF!" Thank you, table, for breaking my fall. Breaking my fall and not ripping into dangerous splinters when you collapsed. "Ugh…"

"Ah, Mr. Randa."

WHOASHIT SATORI.

"Gah!" I shoot to my feet, standing on the remains of a wooden table as the little youkai stares me down. Yeesh, talk about the worst luck with timing! She just had to be in this room!

Oh damnit, I forgot she reads minds!

"Please mind your language once you decide to start speaking." Satori said with that same blank expression. "I'm certain my staff would not appreciate it."

Oh…geez, well, I'm sorry.

Anyway, enough banter. I've gotta ask about-

"Utsuho?" Satori cut off my thoughts. "So, you've heard of the calamity the other day?"

Yeah. I did. Yukari sees a lot, y'know.

"She's not hurt, is she?" I ask, hopefully distracting from my sarcastic thoughts. "I wouldn't think anybody could really mess with her, but-"

"Okuu is completely unharmed." Satori explained with a faint smile. "Lucky for us, her attacker was horribly weak. Just some overeager rookie."

That's good. Still, I'm troubled. I'm sure you've heard about Aya and Mystia, and those attacks on humans and youkai alike?

"I see you share my sentiments." Satori nodded. "I can't help but shudder to think what their intentions are, even moreso why they're abducting powerful bird youkai."

Seriously. Aya's a liar, true, but in the end she's just a reporter trying to get by! And Mystia…she seemed so meek when I met her - any kind of powers aside. Then there's Okuu… Rrgh…

"Well, now!" Satori stepped forward, offering a hand. "You're certainly getting upset, and that's just pondering the possibilities."

"I can't help it, Miss Satori." I reply, taking the hand and stepping from the wrecked table. "My Tata- that is, my grandfather beat chivalry into my head from an early age. I just can't stand the thought of a lady getting picked on by some…ambitious weirdo."

"I see." She nodded, turning to the doorway. "Okuu!"

There was a bit of silence. In my hand, there's a slip of had said to give it to Satori, but now I'm wondering if this is a good time…

"…Hello?" Ah, there's Utsuho now! "Did you call, master?"

"Yes, could you come in here?" Satori faced me with a smile. "A certain young man is here to check on you."

"A man, you said?" Ustuho's voice paused. "Unyuu…"

"Were I you," Satroi began, "I would move away from the door."

Oh. Oh, criminy.

"Ah! Ryan!" A noise could be heard like rushing air. …I think I oughta move, but…

SLAM!

"Hiiiiii!" Utsuho hit me and hard, the impact turning into a monstrous glomp. Oh, and here comes the floor.

WHUMP!

"Ugh." I groan. That stung a little. Still, had I moved, she might've hit the wall or the table. We can't have that, of course. "Heya, Okuu!"

"You came to check on me?" Utsuho smiled broadly, her hands pushed against my chest to keep her upper body elevated. "And you kept your promise! Thank you~!"

"Eh, sure, that's alright!" I laugh sheepishly. I really don't want to start blushing in the position with Satori right there, so… "Okuu, could you get off, pal?"

"Alright!" Utsuho hopped to her feet, enabling me to sit up and brush the dust off. "Sorry! I'm just happy to see you!"

"Same here!" I get to my feet. It looks like Satori doesn't plan on leaving… H-Hey, what's with the suspicious glance? "Anyway, Utsuho, you weren't hurt, right?"

"Nope!" She lifted into the air, twisting around in a few circles. "See? His knife didn't even nick me!"

Nobody mentioned a knife.

Indignance.

Rising.

"Please calm yourself, Ryan." Satori ordered. Even in her face, I can detect some anger. "Anyway, as you can see, Utsuho is unharmed. Are you satisfied?"

Erg…might as well.

"Actually, have something for you, Miss Satori." I show her the paper. Satori glances at me curiously. "I haven't read it, if that's what you're reading me for."

"…Hmph." She seems irritated! Just goes to show, you can't find all your answers by reading others' minds!

"I am well aware." Satori mutters in response, unfolding the paper and beginning to read.

"Hey, Ryan!" Utsuho floats over to me, grinning. "Guess what happened five days ago! You'll never guess!"

I think I can, actually. And it'll be satisfying to hear from you.

"You pounded the sleaze ball who thought he could jump you?" I ask with a raised eyebrow. Utsuho giggles and nods eagerly. I can just feel the smirk creeping up my face. Serves the punk right.

"But that's not the best part! It's how I beat him!" Utsuho holds out a palm, and… A Spell Card? "I kept my promise too, see?"

-! Ah!

That must be her half, "Nuclear Nebula" !

That's great! She got to bust it out the day after I did!

"That's great! That makes two down!" I laugh, summoning my own to glance it over. "To think, now all we have to do is find some poor sucker to use the combined card on!"

…Eh? Why the air suddenly get…tense?

"You may get your chance." Satori mumbles in an unamused tone, roughly pocketing the paper. "You might."

What's that? What's eating her?

"You have been appointed by Yukari to help resolve this matter, correct?" Satori asks.

"Yeah," I nod, "why?"

Satori sighs harshly, and begins to pace back and forth. Dude, seriously, what's up with her?

"Master?" Okuu asks, slowly approaching her. "Are you okay?"

"No," Satori begins, finally turning back to us, "I'm not. Okuu, you are my cherished pet, and I don't like the idea of you taking any risks."

"Wait, risks?" I butt in. "What are we talking about, what does this have to do with the incident at hand?"

"Randa," Satori turns on me, her presence suddenly a much more imposing one. I can't help back take a worried step back. "you are bound to this sense of honor of yours, yes? You'd sooner be gutted than allow a misfortune to befall someone on your good side?"

Agh! Yes, yes, but why is that-

"Master, what are you saying?" Utsuho grabs her by the shoulders, pulling her into a hug. "Please calm down! You're really scary right now!"

There is silence. Satori inhales deeply, then softly exhales.

"…Forgive me. The both of you, please forgive my outburst." Satori makes her way over to a chair in the corner of the room and takes a seat. "It's just…I can't believe Yukari's insensitivity sometimes."

Alright. "Being the Man" Exercise No. 3, engage!

"Miss Satori, I don't know what this is about," I begin, kneeling a little when I remember she's pseudo-royalty, "but you have to believe me, I intend to see this through without causing harm to anyone as fast as I can."

"Master, you don't have to worry. Really!" Okuu steps forward. "That Chino person was really weak, and… I have a god's powers, right? I can beat up anyone, I'm sure of it!"

Satori chuckles weakly.

"Honestly, with how you two are talking, one might think you knew what the problem was." Satori faces us. "Very well. Ryan, and Okuu as well, Yukari has made a very sudden request of me…"

We stand in silence, awaiting what she says.

"…she has instructed me to send Utsuho with you on your journey."

I look to Utsuho. At the same time, she looks back to me.

The next sound in the room is shared by the two of us.

"EEEEEEEEEEEEH?"


"Whoo, that takes care of that!" I grin, slamming the green panel down. "Okuu, is that all of it?"

"Hold on a second!" The raven jams her control rod into a circular slot in the wall, a noise like a lock turning as a result. "…Okay! It's all set!"

Well, I hadn't expected this, of all things. Yukari wants Utsuho to accompany me!

Satori

It has come to my attention that a rather ambitious group has taken it upon themselves to target various avian youkai for abuduction, your pet included. As such, I cannot let her be left in that reactor for hours at a time until this incident is resolved. If someone snuck in once, they will again, and there's no guarantee that the next intruder will be as weak as the last. If anyone got their hands on Utsuho Reiuji, Gensokyo's safety would be compromised - you know this. I have dispatched Ryan Randa to handle this matter, and there's no doubt in my mind Reimu and Marisa will be involved. My request of you is to send Utsuho with Ryan to deal with these radicals. Her power will allow for a swift victory, and as you know, her ability and Ryan's share a certain kinship. Just as well, I have my eyes on him and Reimu constantly. If she is in their presence, she is also in mine - and I will do all in my power to keep Gensokyo safe, which means keeping your pet from their clutches.

I know it seems like tossing her into the lion's den, but try to understand my reasoning. I should hope you make the wise choice in this matter. That it all.

-Yukari

So, that was it. Satori saw us off -after promising me a painful fate should I betray her expectations- and it looks like I've got a great partner for this adventure! First we had to shut down the reactor, though. Okuu's been instructed in how to switch on the backup generators if she should ever leave, so that's what we're doing!

"Okay!" Utsuho giggled, lowering to my level. "The backup system is set!"

"Good to hear!" I grin with a thumbs-up. "So, I guess we're off!"

I turned for the exit when Utsuho caught my wrist.

"Wait, hold on!" She says. "isn't there something to do first?"

Erm, we just did that, actually.

What do you mean?" If I may so boldly inquire.

"We're partners now, right?" She asks. I nod dumbly. "Is there like a super-cool professional thing to make it official?"

Hm. Now that you mention it…

"Sure, if you want. We'll shake on it!" I extend my hand. "Partners?"

Utsuho beams and takes my hand, giving it the most well-manner adult shake she can.

"Indubitib…er, unquestio…" She stammers over intelligent words she can't quite place. "Ah, yes!"

Ha. My birdbrained partner and me. This is, without a doubt, the beginning of an… EGGCELLENT adventure.

"YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

Oh, that joke only works if you have the sunglasses for it.

"Anyway," Utsuho blinks "where are we going?"

…Huh. Honestly, I hadn't given it much thought.

"Well…" I pause. "What about the forest of magic?"

"The forest?" She asks.

"Well, yeah!" I begin to explain. "It's a huge place that's like, right in the middle of Gensokyo. If there's any info to be found, I'll wager it's there."

"Oh." She puts a finger to her lip, thinking. "…Okay! Hee, sounds good!"

Alright, let's see some transport!

"Hey, YUKARI!" I shout to the roof of the cavern. "You getting this? Mind giving us a ride?"

There is no audible response, but a ribboned gap opens up in the air before us. Huh, quick response time!

"Thanks, Field Commander!" I shout before looking to Utsuho. "Alright, Okuu, you read-"

WOOSH!

"Waaah!" I cry out as Okuu come from behind, wrapping her arms around my middle and taking us into the air.

"Hee-hee! Yahoo!" She does a large loop in the air with me before aiming us towards the gap. "Team Super-Amazing is gooooooo~!"

…Wait, I'm the hero-to-be that Yukari chose! I'm not about to be the handbag sidekick!

"Oi!" I whine, fighting her grip some. "Who says you get to make the team na-"

VORP!

And thus, we enter the gap.


The theme of this chapter is "beginning an adventure" ! Truth be told, it was Pokemon White/Black that inspired me to play it up as I did, as well as how I myself would act. Y'know, food, clothes, entertainment, etcetera.

Our two new characters are Youmu and Yuyuko, and boy am I glad to finally get them in here. Yukari needs her bro around - it's just good comedy. Youmu will play some importance to the main plot, herself, so I needed her here. Sorry guys, but Sanae and Reisen are sitting down for now! Good guesses, though.

So, here's our team layout!

Reimu & Marisa - Heroine Team

Meiling & Sakuya - Devil's Team

Yuyuko & Youmu - Ghostly Team

Ryan & Okuu - Solar Team

These groups will be our heroes for this incident. Basically, Solar is the (obvious) main team. Devil's will be the friend/sidekick team. As for the other two, well - no. Ha, thought I'd spoil you all entirely, eh? Well, I say NAY! You'll just have to keep reading! Muh-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaa! …Ahem.

This is the Magnificent Sasquatch, signing off! Godspeed, readers!