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[IC] TotMV:G^2: Touhou: Twilight of Paradise Butterfly

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UB-65 stared blankly at the demonstration of the so called "plan." She felt more confused now than when she knew nothing about how everything was going to go down. What did I just watch...

 

She decided it would be best to wait it out and not speak up. Maybe she could actually learn something from this soup-sandwich of a situation.

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Isobel just sent a glare Masako's way, not terribly impressed with having had her glove... souped up, no matter what justification the tengu provided.

 

As for LOTUS, she crossed her arms but adopted an expression of focus as she began to get engaged in Masako's plan. "Not quickly. If that's something your plan is relying on, you're going to have to adjust it. Not only am I still adjusting to this form and frankly barely capable of flying, therefore slow in that, but as I'm very small, any walking or running I am going to do is going to be very, very slow. However, if your plan works in spite of this, I am willing to listen to the task you would have me perform."

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"That's quite alright," Masako said, nodding along.  She wasn't terribly surprised; LOTUS hadn't demonstrated much in the way of mobility, so far.  She'd probably have to fix that, depending on how long she was stuck as a fairy.  "I do have an alternative, after all.  We haven't the time to let the rest of you learn, so I'll have to explain it to YOU on the way.  But let me see..."

After a few moments fiddling around in her pockets, Masako pulled out a large ball of twine, tossing it from hand to hand.  "I do hope you like fishing."

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It wasn't long until the party passed into the Netherworld. The change wasn't obvious, at first, but there was a certain feeling to the place. The normal sounds of animals and leaves rustling in the occasional breeze faded to nothing. That's not to say the animals were gone; there was still the occasional bird flitting through the sky, and a pair of golden eyes belonging to a wolf tracked the party as Youmu lead them towards a hill. The fairies that had seemed nearly omnipresent were nowhere to be seen, replaced by and large by floating spirits. 

 

Youmu slowed down as they gained progress toward the mansion. Chen glanced at her nervously as she came to a stop, peering in the distance. "It looks like she didn't leave Hakugyokurou. I don't want to go any further if you have some sort of plan for dealing with her, though." Youmu looked at Masako and Rory expectantly. "She might be on her way right now, so you should do whatever it was quickly."

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Masako nodded back at Youmu, then returned to her final preparations.  The box was already opened in the trees, the ropes tied and the feast laid out within; a splendid repast (albeit primarily of cooling street food) that few mortals could resist, let alone a (literally) hungry ghost.  The hiding places for the rest of the party were prepared nearby, little good as it would do should the mistress of this place fail to take the bait, and much as she'd refused to explain her idea to the others beyond the most basic details.  Masako hardly appeared concerned about that outcome, though.  Possibly because it hardly left them any worse off than not planning anything at all.  Barring a few scrapes and bruises here and there for one soon-to-be unfortunate assistant.

 

"Now, remember.  Make sure you make plenty of noise; it's best if you attract the most attention, given you can't die.  Two pulls if you should see a pink-haired ghost woman, just one if something else wants to eat you.  Once we get both pulls, I'll ensure you get away with minimal injury."  The tengu finished tying the knot around the AI-fairy's tiny waist, taking but a moment to admire her handiwork and notably refusing to clarify what she'd do if only one pull was received.  Once she seemed satisfied, she nodded.  "There.  Assuming nothing chews through the twine, that should hold for our purposes.  Now, let me think..."

Masako pondered, for a moment, the fairy still in hand, and the other end of the long length of twine in the other.  There was just one last thing they needed to do, now.  But there was a word for it she wasn't recalling.  Something that Usami girl had used, once.  What was it?

Oh, right.

"Rory," she said, holding out the fairy to the faunus.  This part she'd already explained to him, even if she'd only given LOTUS the details necessary to convince her, and the others hardly anything at all.  Once he'd taken LOTUS, she gestured with her newly-empty hand towards the mansion.  "It's time to yeet the fairy."

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Rory grinned in a way that said just how much joy she took in hearing those words, which was surmarized nicely as "Too much". With a playful "Aye aye!" the snake person reared back and pitched the small woman into the clearing, before quickly going to his hiding place.

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UB-65 crouched down into one of the spots in the hiding place and watched LOTUS getting sent soaring through the air. "A-Are they going to be okay?" She peaked out of the hiding place trying to see exactly where LOTUS was going to land before pulling her head back.

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Rory shrugs. "Probably. I mean, you ought to have a landing strategy if you're going to be fighting right? Otherwise what are you going to do if you get thrown in the air." The level of casualness that Rory says this with makes it hard to tell if she's just being an ass again or if he's being genuine.

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IP quietly said, "Data gathered from various combat reports suggest that in the event combatants are sent flying, surviving the shrapnel and explosive blasts that cause such flight tend to be greater concerns. Your world likely behaves differently from mine, however. Nevertheless, regardless of the fairy's state, I promised not to interfere."

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"Oh, she'll be fine," said Masako, casual as ever, still holding the end of the unraveling twine as LOTUS sailed through the air.  "Even if she dies, it's not as though she'll be injured by it.  She is a fairy, and they always bounce back from little things like death, as healthy as ever.  Physically, at any rate, but I can't be expected to gauge the possibility of emotional trauma as a result of being eaten by a ghost or crunching against a window or what-have-you for everyone I deal with.  If I did that, I wouldn't get anything done."

She paused, tilting her head.  LOTUS had apparently reached the apex of her flight, and was starting to fall.  Soon, they'd be getting to work.  "Well.  I'd get things done, I suppose.  But it's still a bit too tedious to bother."

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Sure enough, a rather spooky-looking woman came almost desultorily floating through the air in Lotus's direction, coming from the direction of the hill nearby. She wore a blue dress, and had a head of pink hair that matched Masako's description - though her expression was rather different than usual, having an almost crazed sort of hunger that seemed to contradict her lazy path through the air. An artifact clearly of the same nature as the previous ones adorned her head like a twisted sort of tiara. "There she is. . ." Youmu whispered. "What are you going to do?"

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Now that LOTUS was actually playing out her part in the plan, she found that she had some sudden second thoughts that she hadn't previously considered about the whole thing. For example, "--aaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa--" was a really big one that she just found herself coming back to until she abruptly made contact with the loam, at which point the thought on her mind was primarily "Hrgh!" After a long moment, the tiny fairy, feeling frankly a little abused, pulled her head out of the loam, squinting out as she adjusted to this new sensation called "being fucking yeeted into the god damned ground", until the blurs around her resolved into sky, terrain, and a pink-haired blue-clothed spooky woman. Well, this was her, then.

 

LOTUS gave the twine a couple of sharp, firm tugs (or, well, they were sharp and firm to her but she was very small and not very strong so they were kind of just small fairy tugs) to the twine, and then waited. "...well, now I just get to hope it doesn't get screwed up, huh?"

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"As I said."  Masako felt the line go taut in her hands as the little fairy gave her little tugs.  She waited a moment more, watching the ghost draw a little closer to her prey.  Then she gave a pull, and the fairy was yanked several meters back, bouncing upon the ghostly soil.  Again, as Yuyuko drew closer.  And again.  And again.  Drawing her towards their hiding spot--and towards the box.  Just a few minutes more, and then...

 

"Fishing." 

 

Masako twisted the twine, turning and spinning, sending the fairy soaring (and, likely, screaming) through the air, until she landed with a tiny thunk in the feasting box in the clearing, just as Yuyuko was about to approach.  Without a moment's hesitation, she dropped the twine, grabbing the rope connected to the box in her hand and beckoning Rory to help her.  Now was the key moment; fairies were beings of almost pure life energy, a greater target for a hungry ghost--especially surrounded, as LOTUS was, by delicious street food--than most normal people.  Assuming she was right--assuming Yuyuko was driven mad in the way she believed, based on what she'd seen of Marisa and what little she'd heard from Sakuya and Youmu--then it would only be a moment.  Yuyuko, starving, would chase the fairy into the box.  And the tengu could snap the box shut, and let ghostly (meta?)physics do the rest of the work.

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Yes, LOTUS decided that this plan actually was a really terrible one after all. Self-preservation was a very odd instinct for the personal AI unit, but the appearance of a physical form was messing with her something fierce, including giving her the ability to feel pain and how much being bounced against the soil again and again and again mercilessly REALLY WASN'T ALL THAT COMFORTABLE. "AAAAAAAA I HATE THIIIISSSS I HATE THIS THIS IS THE WOOOOORST!" LOTUS cried out, a surprising volume emitting from her tiny little body and she was yanked and dragged across the ground, followed by an extra-loud wail as she flew the final distance to the box, for the part that was no doubt going to suck the absolute most.

 

Isobel winced as she watched the whole display go through, her teeth showing in a powerful cringe. "I know LOTUS volunteered for this, but..." what was being done to the AI-turned-fairy nonetheless was... "...this is really, really cruel. What are you going to do, here, AFTER she's trapped in the box with the ghost...?" Isobel paused. "You're... you're not planning on just leaving her to be eaten over and over, right?"

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Rory rolls her eyes as she goes to assist Masako. Clearly Isobel still didn't get it. "Of course not. We weren't trapping the ghost to begin with." The hunter gets to work, leaving Isobel to figure this out on her own.

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Isobel abruptly bared her teeth in a hot flash of anger, crossed her arms and spoke with unusual vitriol, following Rory just long enough to get her words in. "I'm not going to play these games with you, Rory. I don't know if you have it out for me in some way, or if you just don't like people in general, but you can take whatever way you're trying to prove your superiority and get it out. It doesn't put you in the right somehow to dangle your plan over my head and then act superior because something you refused to communicate wasn't understood. We aren't here to play a game of 'who's smarter', we're here because we're trying to do our job of helping people, and that's something that you just seem to be unable to understand, you little shit."

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And that's when Empi takes her cue to intervene. Which, really, was about the closest to Empi's actual job description as she was getting.
"Hey, hold the hell up. Isobel, take five. I know what it's like dealing with idiot humans trying to make themselves look better, believe me, I got four hundred years of experience of that bullshit because some dumbass virgin tells me he knows how to get it in when the only reason I'm even there is because he can't. You're the closest thing we got to someone who knows what the hell she's doing, yeah? We need you. All hands on deck.

And you-whoever you are, I keep losing track of all these new guys coming in- basic communications skills, man! It'll save your life!"

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UB-65 watched the scene unfold before her, unsure what to do. I mean, that wasn't the worst way I have seen someone used as bait before. She back from the argument and took the moment she had to bring out her notebook from the breast pocket of her coat and write down the details of the pink haired woman. She worked quickly, writing down the details of her physical appearance and a quick sketch of the girl.

 

She replaced the notebook into her pocket and turned to Empi and Isobel, "Empi's right. We're going to need everyone for this just from looking at the situation. Let's keep disagreements to the back of our minds until we finish up here."

 

 

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"Patience," said Masako, apparently indifferent to the eruption of anger around her.  She was FAR more concerned with watching the approach of the ghost.  "You'll see in a moment.   Whether this works or not, your fairy friend will (probably) be fine.  Until then, I will have to ask that you remain calm and pay careful attention."

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Unfortunately for LOTUS, she was a bit akin to a double quarter pounder with cheese and extra bacon slathered in barbecue sauce for the hungry ghost. The upside of this was that it was almost comically easy to get Yuyuko to follow her into the box, at which point it snapped shut around her. LOTUS also didn't have much time to be terrified about her impending doom, as her world went dark immediately upon being trapped with Yuyuko - though chances are this would still be an unpleasant memory later. The sounds of Yuyuko pigging out for a few moments were audible from the box, and it almost seemed like she was content to stay in there after she was done.

 

Almost. 

 

After a painfully long moment of silence, Yuyuko darted out of the box suddenly, directly at the party - and then flew past them, slowly drifting to a confused-looking stop in midair, with an expression that didn't exactly scream "I'm about to devour your life." Meanwhile, a dull clattering noise echoed from inside the box. "Youmu?" she asked, almost sleepily. "Did Yukari pull me out here while I was napping?"

 

Youmu's response was an overjoyed yell and a leap that would probably have been more impressive somewhere where not everyone knew how to fly in some way, latching onto Yuyuko and squeezing her in a big hug. "Yuyuko, you're okay!" She then realized she had an audience, emitted a faint squeak, then dropped to the ground, followed shortly by Yuyuko. "I thought something really bad had happened to you." 

 

"Oh." Yuyuko frowned for a moment, but didn't let on whatever it was went on behind her eyes. "Well, it looks like everything is better now, right? I see you brought guests. They look very. . . alive." 

 

Youmu looked around awkwardly.  "Err. . . yes. It was a special circumstance. Chen is with them." 

 

"Chen?"

 

"Yep! Lady Yukari sent them with me to solve this incident!" 

 

"I see. . . " Yuyuko said thoughtfully. "Well, now that you're here, there's no harm in it. Here, why don't you all come along to Hakugyokurou? Normally I don't allow mortals in, but given the circumstances, I feel it might be appropriate." 

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Rory just turns and smirks at Isobel, seeing this turn of events as if it proved their point.

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IP nearly drew her gun when Yuyuko darted out, but relaxed once it was clear she wasn't hostile. After hearing the invitation, the gynoid nodded. "We would be honored, Madam. But first..." IP turned to Masako. "How soon will LOTUS reappear?"

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"You see?"  Masako said, in her lofty tone, surrounded by an aura of pure smugness.  "The soup slips through the strainer, and the noodle is left behind.  It really is quite simple, when you think about it.  Still, I suppose it's no easier for some to grasp the principles without a solid foundation;  I'll have that fixed soon enough."

 

"In any case."  Masako finally found what she was looking for, pulling out what appeared to be some sort of old pocketwatch.  She glanced at it for but a moment before shrugging and stuffing it away again.  "Should just be a few minutes.  Let's all just head to Hakugyokurou, shall we?  She should pop up around the time we get settled inside."

 

Masako started to float after Yuyuko, then paused, considering, before floating over to the box and slapping a slip of paper with a crudely-drawn symbol atop.  "Might want to deal with the artifact, too.  But I've certainly saved us all a lot of trouble already, so beyond this deterrent I'll leave it to Walnut."

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