Topic: Gensoakyo (AKA Sango's Dive Shack)  (Read 2571 times)

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FinnKaenbyou

  • Formerly Roukanken
  • *
  • blub blub nya
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Roukanken
  • Gender: i don't even know anymore
Gensoakyo (AKA Sango's Dive Shack)
« on: June 07, 2012, 09:09:31 pm »
So! As most of you probably know by now, I have particular preferences when it comes to writing. Most of these preferences are a bit difficult to fit into normal Gensokyo - wetsuits and diving really don't have much place in a magical feudal Japan, after all. :V

Therefore, in an attempt to sate my appetite, I'm putting up this thread to serve as a source for anytime I feel like writing any sort of watery Touhou AU. I'm not gonna use this as an excuse to write the same drivel over and over, though - I'm going to do my best to do something new with each story and keep things colourful and interesting even for the people who don't particularly like water (read: everyone else).

In short, you know what you're in for. Come on in. The water's lovely.

-----

Contents:
7/6: Best Left Unfound

-----

Note that these will probably all be one shots because I don't want another long story to pull me away from DRK. >.<
« Last Edit: June 07, 2012, 09:12:21 pm by ShiRou Takayama »

FinnKaenbyou

  • Formerly Roukanken
  • *
  • blub blub nya
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Roukanken
  • Gender: i don't even know anymore
Gensoakyo (Best Left Unfound)
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2012, 09:11:29 pm »
I hate the sun.

It has its good points, I’ll admit. My life would be a lot less satisfying if I lived on a frigid lump of ice. But for me it’s sort of like having a friend who you get on with most of the time, except they have this one really annoying habit that drives you insane.

In my case, that habit is the ray of light that always lands on my face at six in the morning.

“Nyaah...”

I bury myself in the covers, my tails propping up as if to give two middle fingers to the window. Waking up is an ugly ritual that I always do my best to avoid. For about twenty minutes I convince myself that the worst is over, and I might be able to get back to my nap.

Then the sounds start in the hallway. The clattering of footsteps, the slamming of cutlery onto the floor, the humming of anthems my roommate has never learned the words to. I smother myself with the pillow to try and drown her out. My urge to breathe clashes with my urge to sleep.

Sadly, basic respiratory functions always win the day.

By this point it’s around half past six, and I crawl out of bed on all fours. I scan the ground for the leftovers of last night’s dinner. My hair is everywhere, and there’s a stain on my nightgown that I don’t remember having yesterday. Everything is stiff; I can practically hear my joints creaking as I scurry along the floor.

I find a small metal plate containing a slice of pizza. There’s a bite missing in the crust, and it’s stone cold. Normally I wouldn’t touch it, but when it comes breakfast my standards are substantially lower. My taste buds complain, but my stomach doesn’t.

As I continue to rummage around, I find the essentials I’ve been stashing to deal with a morning like this. I tip over a bottle of fresh water as I move. Picking it up, I empty half of its contents in the vague direction of my face. The drink - and the impromptu shower - go a long way to getting me up.

Of course, the sounds from the hallway haven’t stopped. This is actually unusually merciful on my roommate’s part. Normally she would pull the door open and haul me into the living room to sample whatever concoction she’s made for breakfast. She’s probably busy with something else right now. I just wish she could be a little quieter about it.

By 6:45, I feel like I might just be among the living again. I haul myself onto the bed, looking at myself in the mirror. Bloodshot red eyes, pale skin, and a nightgown covered in dust and tears. I could probably get a film role as a zombie as long as the recording took place this early.

As I pull open the wardrobe and rummage around for clothes, I sigh with relief. I have survived the worst that the morning can throw at me. It can only get better from here.

The door opens.

“Morning, Chen~!”

I resist the urge to slam my head into the wardrobe door. The last thing I need is my roommate yelling right into my ear.

Three months ago, I moved into this apartment with Rin Kaenbyou. Two months and three weeks ago, I started to regret it.

-----

As usual, Rin refuses to let me lie in bed and vegetate. I sit as a guest at the dining table while Rin puts her breakfast together. Today’s recipe is cereal with orange juice - by which I mean pouring the orange juice into the cereal - and toast covered in a blue substance I don’t want to know about. Another heavy metal song is playing on the radio, on the channel Rin refuses to let me turn off. I don’t recognise this particular collection of murdered guitar strings and demolished vocal chords. Must be a new track.

Rin swings her head around as she hums along with the music, her braids almost slapping her in the face. Her early-morning perkiness feels like a poison seeping through my veins. Even the skull and crossbones on her shirt is bright-eyed and happy. I bury my face in the tablecloth to avoid its gaze, thinking I can sneak in a few minutes of sleep if I’m lucky.

A hand starts to scratch behind my ears.

“C’mon, Chen. You can’t waste the day lying around like that.”

This is unfair. She’s targeting my weak spot. I try to squirm against it to start with, but ultimately I can’t help but purr as she ruffles at my hair with her other hand. I feel frustratingly docile, like her strokes are pulling the anger out of my system.

Luckily, she stops teasing me to get back to her breakfast. I sit up again, brushing at my hair and doing my best to act like I didn’t enjoy the petting.

“Might do a better job with it if you let me sleep in once in a while.”

I lift myself out of the seat to serve myself a cup of coffee. My gut is telling me that today will be unpleasant. It usually isn’t wrong on that count.

“But then you’ll miss out on all the fun of the morning.” Rin follows me, planting her cereal on the counter beside the kettle. She wraps an arm around me and pulls me into her chest. “Why would you wanna waste your weekend in bed?”

“It’s not like I have any plans for today,” I mutter.

“You don’t have any plans ever,” Rin says. She leans over me with exaggerated sympathy, ears drooping as she pouts. For a moment I forget that she’s my flatmate and not my mother.

“I told you, I’ve been trying to get a job.”

“Didn’t I say from the start you’d get nowhere with a degree in Archaeology?”

I wince. During my college days, I may have made some...unwise decisions with my major. Coming out of high school, I’d read too many fantasy novels to realise that learning my way around ancient civilisations didn’t make for a good CV. I’ve been asking around convenience stores and local businesses in search of any vacancies, but landing a job in the unskilled market is a game of roulette at best.

Rin’s degree in Medicine, in comparison, gave her a comfortable job at the local mortuary. Her duties don’t extend far beyond making sure the bodies were marked properly and that they’re properly refrigerated. The pay is disgustingly good, and Rin covers our rent single-handedly with plenty of expendable income to spare.

“Don’t worry,” she whispers playfully into my ear. “I’m not gonna chase you up until you’ve got some money to give me.”

Again with the charity. I sluggishly nod in understanding as I let the kettle boil. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that Rin appreciates my company enough to put a roof over my head. I just wish I could get by without her paying on my behalf.

“Thanks,” I say at last. I pour myself a cup of coffee, reaching into a box of teabags besides the kettle. It’s my favourite blend - strong, aromatic, and with just a hint of catnip. And gratuitous servings of milk, of course.

As I bring the cup to my lips, the scent alone is like a bolt of lightning up my nose. Everything up until now has been a coping mechanism. This is the vital spark I need to function in the mornings. Before I realise it, I’ve downed half of the cup in one chug.

“I don’t get how you drink that stuff,” Rin says, orange juice dripping from her lips. “It’s like setting my mouth on fire.”

I smirk, dripping the rest of the coffee in another gulp. I slam the cup on the counter with a feeling of victory.

“I guess you have a cat tongue, Rin.”

My flatmate offers me slow, melodramatic applause. I take a bow.

“So what’ve you got planned for today?” I ask. “Another concert? A night on the tiles? Or have you been looking for another way to injure yourself?”

“The last of the three,” Rin answers without a hint of sarcasm. She finishes the last of her breakfast, dumping her dishes in the sink. “My C-Card came through in the mail yesterday.”

The word flies over my head. Rin is active in so many of these extreme sports that I struggle to tell one from the other. “C-Card?”

She giggles, ears twitching again. “My diving certification, silly. Now stores will trust me with diving gear without having to worry about me getting killed.”

Oh, right, the whole diving thing. Rin had taken interest in it a few months ago, when she’d realised that there was plenty of fresh fish to be found in the oceans. She was a working woman with a lot of hobbies, but in the end she was still a cat.

“Congrats,” I say as I drop my mug in the sink as well. If I can’t pay rent, I can at least do the chores around here. “But isn’t diving one of those really dangerous pastimes? I thought you were meant to do it with a partner.”

“Yup!” Rin answers the question almost too cheerfully. “The buddy system, they call it. Both of you are there to make sure the other one doesn’t get into trouble.”

It sounds like a pretty rough way to spend your afternoon, frankly. I can’t see myself getting involved in it. Water and I have never had a fruitful relationship. I look down into the sink as I turn on the tap.

“So who’s your buddy, then?”

Rin’s hand clamps onto my shoulder. “Who else? It’s you, Chen!”

It takes me about fifteen seconds to absorb that sentence.

“...What?”

To be fair, I should have seen it coming. This is not the first time Rin has pulled me into one of her death-defying hobbies. I have been mountain biking, rock climbing, and parachuting, mostly against my will. By now getting hauled into her latest obsession should have been a foregone conclusion.

But diving...that sounds a little worse than everything to come before it. I was understating the case when I said I didn’t get along with water. Our relationship is outright aggressive - I hate it, and I’m relatively sure it hates me in return. I just about know how to doggy-paddle - a lesson that my former guardian drilled into me by force - but just getting my face wet is enough to trigger my panic senses.

“Sounds fun, right?” Rin continues, seemingly oblivious to my concern. “The two of us out in the open ocean together. It’d be like the world’s biggest self-serve buffet!”

That does not sound fun. In fact, that sounds like the antithesis of fun. I pull my hands out of the soapy suds, drying them off as I turn around to face Rin.

“So you want me to trust my life to complicated machinery I’m not qualified to use?” I say, trying to appeal to Rin’s common sense. This turns out to be a mistake.

“It’s not that hard, really,” Rin replies, ruffling at my hair again. “I can teach you as we go along.”

Damn. That never works with Rin. Plan B.

“Are you sure you can’t find someone else?”

“Nope,” she answers, instantly. From the plastered on smile, I can tell she’s lying. “And I already hired the gear for the day, so either I dive with you or I’ve wasted a ton of money.”

My tails wrap around each other as the rest of my muscles grow tense. She knows I hate water. She has to know, and yet she’s still trying to drag me into this.

“I’ll pass. I’ve got better things to do.”

Well, not this time, sunshine. Today, Chen Yakumo takes a stand for her independence.

Or so I think.

“Oh, I forgot to mention,” Rin says, her smile getting a little wider. “There’s apparently this really cool ruin out there on the seabed. Some sorta abandoned shrine from what I hear. No-one even knows what it was built for.”

Dammit. Rin is cheating now. She knows I can’t resist stuff like this. She sits on the dining table, twiddling her fingers as she looks away in faux concern.

“I admit, I’m not really certified to dive in overhead environments and stuff like that, so if you’re that worried about safety we don’t have to go...”

Argh, now she’s mocking me too. She deliberately waited until the last moment to drop the bait, just to see me squirm. I really want to check that place out, but-

No, Chen! Remember the water!

I nod to myself, trying to steel my resolve. That’s right, I’d have to be underwater to investigate this shrine. I’d be trusting my life to an air cylinder and a ton of gear I have no idea how to work. It’s suicide.

Alright, Chen. Just tell her ‘no’, like a grown woman would.

“OK, I’ll come.”

Yes, just like tha-wait, what did I just say?

“Great!” Rin leaps off of the table and wraps her arms around me. She hugs like a vice, and her grip cuts off circulation to the lower half of my body. “I’ve got the car loaded up, so come out front whenever you’re ready!”

She skips off towards the front door, humming another song to herself. I’m left alone in the kitchen, with nothing but the blaring heavy metal on the radio for company.

I turn around and smack my face against the counter.

“Nyaaa...why do I keep falling for that?”

-----

The trip to the coast is short. We happen to live relatively close to the sea, but the roads between our flat and the coast are an unpleasant ride. Rin has a sick bucket permanently installed in case the corner-ridden track gets the better of me.

We arrive at a a small beach, and Rin parks at the first spot she sees. My first reaction is to pull the door open and gasp for air. Being trapped in a tiny vehicle on shaky ground with guitar solos blaring in my ears is not my idea of a fun trip. Rin refuses to buy a vehicle with more space, and she also won’t let me ‘step on her individuality’ by turning the radio off. I’m not sure how listening to popular music equates to being unique, but there’s no point in arguing that with her.

The beach is all but abandoned. It’s about noon, and the weather is sweltering, but this little coast is so far out for most people that we basically have it to ourselves. The only decoration is a small, rickety pier leading out into the water. I can just make out a boat tied to the edge, with a variety of diving gear inside.

Standing at the foot of the pier is a kappa in his early forties. He’s tall, bulky, with a noticeable bulge around his stomach. He chews on a cigarette, eyes following the sun’s path through the sky. He looks exactly like the sort of man who’d supply dangerous equipment to a teenager, no questions asked.

Rin steps out and greets him with a wave. I stay beside the car, watching the discussion from a distance. After a few minutes of discussion - along with Rin flashing her card a few times - they part ways, and the kappa walks up the winding road that brought us here.

“Alright, we have until sunset,” Rin says as she comes back to the car. She opens up the boot and rummages around, pulling out a rubbery fabric and handing it to me. “Go and get changed in that shack over there.”

I unfold the fabric. It’s a wetsuit, red with yellow patches around the edges. The sleeves look shorter than I expected, only going up to my elbows; likewise the wetsuit stops at my knees in the other direction.

“Shouldn’t it be a little more protective?” I ask.

“We’re not going that deep,” Rin answers. “If we were diving at night, or if we were going deeper - then you’d need a real wetsuit. Anyway, put it on so we can get started.”

I don’t really have a choice now that I’ve let her drag me this far in. I step into the shack on the pier, barely large enough to fit me. After checking there are no convenient peep holes for anyone to look through, I strip down and leave my clothes in a pile at the side. The wetsuit has a zip on the back, running down the spine. I pull it down, stepping into the skin-tight suit with some difficulty.

I’m almost disturbed by how well this thing fits me. It’s close-cut, but not to the point where it’s constrictive, and it isn’t baggy anywhere. I wonder for a moment how Rin managed to get my measurements so accurately. A few seconds later, I realise that thinking about that too much is definitely a poor idea.

Rin is at the end of the pier when I step out, checking that all of the equipment is in order. She gives herself one final nod as she turns to me. Her ears prick up almost immediately.

“Damn, Chen. You look kinda cute in that.”

My face flares up in embarrassment. I swear, if I could pay my share of rent, I’d never be agreeing to this.

Seeing that I’m ready, Rin casually starts pulling her clothes off. Before I can look away, she’s topless - well, technically. Apparently she’s been wearing the wetsuit under her normal outfit, so she doesn’t have to do much changing at all. In other words, she was ready for me to come along with her from the beginning.

I hate being predictable.

I leave my clothes in the boat along with Rin’s pile as I take a seat inside. Rin is busy trying to revive the lousy engine, tugging in vain at the pull cord. The machine growls, but doesn’t roar like it’s supposed to.

It takes a minute for she finally coerces the machine to co-operate. The boat sets off at a tepid pace into the sea while Rin consults a map she pulled from who-knows-where.

“So we’re a few minutes out right now,” she says to me. “Any pressing questions before we get to the dive spot?”

A big one comes to mind right away. “You said there’s a shrine down here, right?”

“Yeah, that’s what I said.”

“Then why haven’t I heard of it before? It seems like the sort of thing people would make a fuss about.”

Rin purses her lips. “It’s kinda hard to get to, for one. Besides that lousy road there’s a sheer cliff-face along the coastline, so it’d be really difficult to put together a proper expedition team.”

She leans back in her seat. “Besides, it’s a small little ruin, and no-one’s got a clue what it’s there for. No-one wants to make a discovery and then say they have no idea what it means.”

I nod in understanding. It’s one thing to dig up a skeleton - it’s another to know where it came from and how it died. Archeology is a selfish science like that - on the small scale, at least.

The engine whines to a halt as Rin brings the boat to a stop. She turns to me, beckoning me forward towards the gear.

“Lemme help you into this stuff,” she says as she hauls one of the tanks over. She heaves at the weight as she lays a yellow tank against my back. “Stay still, okay? This is gonna take me a while.”

She pulls around all sorts of straps and clips the tank to me. After going through all sorts of tests and checks, she finally hands me the mouthpiece.

“Test this for me, will you?”

I nod, grabbing the mouthpiece and putting it on. It lets off a hissing sound as I breathe in, like I’m using a respirator. The air is stale and processed, but definitely breathable. I give her a thumbs up as I take the mouthpiece back out.

“Good work.” She drops a pair of fins and a mask at my feet, yellow to match the tank. “Stick these on while I get my gear ready, ‘kay?”

As she gets to work strapping her own tank on, I’m left to get changed myself. Leaning forward to pick up the gear, I’m suddenly aware of just how heavy the tank is. It’s only by grabbing onto the seat that I avoid falling out of the boat entirely. Eventually I manage to grab at the fins, trying to slip my feet through the tiny foot-holes.

“It’s easier if you get them wet,” Rin says. Taking her advice, I dip the fins in the water and try again. As she said, the fins are much easier to flex now, and I manage to get them on unassisted. The mask is just a matter of adjusting the strap and making sure its grip on my face is strong enough.

By the time I’ve got myself prepared, I feel like the world’s largest duck. To my side, Rin is finishing her way into a similar getup, with light and dark greens to contrast my yellows and reds. She reaches into a small box at the end, pulling out a few more tidbits.

“It’ll be dark down there, so hold onto this.” She hands me a flashlight, which clips effortlessly to the belt at my waist. Her other extra piece of equipment is a little more advanced - a small computer that she straps around my wrist, with only enough room for a keyboard and a line of text.

“These’ll let us send messages to each other.” Rin had an identical computer on her own wrist. She looked down and typed for a moment before pressing the large enter key on the side. My computer beeped as her message jumped onto the screen in bright red text.

[hi chen]

I have to admit, that’s a clever little contraption. I send a message back to her, taking almost twice as long as she did.

[Hello, Rin]

Rin looked down at her machine as it gave off a beep. She frowned. “Why’d you bother with all the capitals and stuff?”

“Force of habit.” I shrug. Rin looks a bit skeptical, but shakes it off.

“Alright, Chen. You ready to dive?”

I can’t say I’m ready, per se. I’m equipped, but as she leads me to the edge of the boat I’m suddenly feeling a lot more uncertain. I can see the ocean swirling beneath me, my fins dipping into the water. I start wondering how quickly the tank will weigh me down and send me plummeting to the bottom of the sea. What if the tank fails? What if we get lost? What if we run into a shark, or piranhas, or-

“Rin, maybe we should-” Before I can change my mind, Rin shoves the mouthpiece into my mouth again. “Mmmmphh!”

Rin gives me a salute, her other hand pushing against my back. Time seems to slow down as I fall forward into the sea. The last thing I hear before I hit the water is her voice.

“Don’t panic!”

As I fall into the sea with a mighty splash, I decide that she’s given me the worst advice in the world.

-----

My entrance is not exactly graceful. Most of it is spent clawing and flailing around in an attempt to get back to the surface. My doggy paddle isn’t enough to get me anywhere with this tank strapped to my back. If anything, I’m sinking deeper into the water.

There’s another splash overhead as Rin enters the water. I can see her grin behind her mouthpiece as she swims up to me, grabbing me by the shoulders to restrict my flailing. She brings her head next to mine, rubbing foreheads as she lets out a gurgled giggle.

Up until this point I’ve been holding my breath, but I can’t fight the urge any longer. My air bursts out of the mouthpiece in one long, panicked burst. I breathe in, imagining all the ways the tank could have ruptured or otherwise failed.

None of them come true, and I take a long breath of real air.

[better?]

Rin writes me a little message on the monitor before hugging me. Now that the immediate concern of drowning is out of the way, I’m much more willing to relax. I feel my fears melting into the water as I return the hug, hearing nothing but the churning of the current and the sound of our breaths.

As it turns out, water is a lot less frightening when you don’t have to worry about breathing. I take a chance to look around. We’re barely beneath the surface, but there are schools of fish circling us in all directions. The visibility is excellent, and the mask keeps the water from getting in my eyes. A coral reef runs along the coastline, its plantlife stretching across the spectrum.

Rin was right. This really was worth seeing. Why is she always so right about these things?

After about a minute, Rin lets go of me. I’m feeling a lot calmer  now, and find the courage to do a forward flip in the water. It feels as if I’m flying, and I have to chuckle to myself as I write a reply.

[A lot better.]

Rin gurgles happily as she receives the message. Her attention shifts to one of the passing schools of fish. She lets out a low, gurgled purr as she eyes them. I’ve got to admit, they look pretty tasty, but there’s no way I could swim that fa-

“Nyaaablll!”

Rin charges towards the school like a bullet, pushing herself through the water with wide, strong kicks. The fish disperse in various directions, but Rin starts to chase after one in particular. This wouldn’t be a problem if she wasn’t leaving me behind.

Wait up, already!

I try my best to match Rin’s speed, but I don’t even have to look to tell my form is clunky. The main hint is that I’m moving at about half the speed Rin is - which, admittedly, is a lot better than I expected to do. At least it’s easy enough to keep her in sight.

For all her speed, the fish continues to elude Rin. She seems totally focused on it, like she’s already forgotten about me. I try not to sulk as I send another message in her direction.

[Come back!]

The beeping from her computer distracts her for long enough to let the fish get away. She glares at it for a few moments before coming back to me. Her tails are swinging as she refuses to look me in the eye.

[sorry]

A written apology is all she gives me. It’s better than nothing, I guess. I point down towards the seabed, too deep to see from here. The thought of this mystery shrine is too enticing.

Rin shakes her head and grabs at my arm, looking at another passing school.

[teamwork!] she writes, slowly creeping up on the unsuspecting fish. I think she’s trying to combine looking after me with catching dinner.

As she picks up her speed again, she’s too fast for the former and too slow for the latter.

“Hiibblbbll...”

I will be honest, I squealed a little when Rin started to drag me along with her. I did my best to avoid slowing her down, but there’s only so much you can work on your form in five minutes. Now that she was pulling along a dead weight, Rin couldn’t keep up with the fish as they broke apart and vanished into the nearby weeds.

Rin looked at me, then at the fish. She blurbled a moan, clapping her hands together and bowing her head towards me.

Sorry, Rin. If you wanted to spend this trip catching dinner, you should have brought a competent diver with you. I take the time to write out a thorough response.

[Buddies stick together, right?]

As Rin reads the message, she finally sighs in defeat. She takes me by the hand, gentler this time, and points down towards the seabed. I nod, and we slowly descend deeper into the water.

It’s only a minute’s descent before we reach the bottom of the shelf. It’s still bright enough to see, and we do some scanning around to find the shrine we’re looking for. Rin is willing to match my speed, looking back at me with a smile as she leads onward. I feel strangely safe as I hold her hand, forgetting all the ways this trip could go awry.

[there!]

Rin sends me another note as she points towards an upcoming shadow. True to her word, there’s a full-blown temple in front of us, its stony pillars still standing in spite of the current. As we come closer, I feel like I’ve come across something magnificent - I studied Archeology for years, but this is my first time stumbling upon an actual ruin. And one that’s been just about unexplored, no less.

The pillars are structured in an almost familiar manner. These proportions, these shapes...no, that’s not possible, is it? I look up at the top of the column, examining the shape of the pillar’s capital. Though worn away by erosion, I can still make out a scroll-like shape connecting the pillar to the temple’s roof.

I let out a little gasp.

The Ionic order...but that’s Greek!

Is that even possible? What’s a Greek temple doing on the seabed of Japan? The more I think about it, the less sense it makes. I don’t think this ruin would have even been above sea level in Greek times. Part of me wonders if this is some massive hoax - but then who would go to the length of building a fake temple on the seabed without bragging about it?

The sound of my own gurgled breath pulls me out of my thinking. There’s only so far I can get by just looking from the outside. This calls for some hands-on investigation.

[Let’s go.]

I send the message, then point towards the doorway. Rin nods with a playful glint in her eye, like she was planning to go in whether I wanted to or not. We swim up to the entrance, with nothing stopping us from slipping inside.

The interior is unlit, so I pull out my flashlight for guidance. Rin hangs back, letting me look around as I please. As we travel down the passageway I turn my light onto the pillars running down the centre of the room. They’re fatter than the pillars on the outside, without the flowery scroll on the capital. Now I’m really confused.

Those pillars are from the Donic order...that’s even more wrong!

The Doric and Ionic orders were two different segments of Greek architecture. Seeing both of them in the same temple is ridiculous - the Greeks would have never settled for such haphazard design. The feeling that I’m looking around a giant mock-up grows stronger.

Rin tilts her head as she sees me focus on the pillars. [whats up?] she asks. I try to find a short answer for her, but nothing that would fit in a 32-character line of text comes to mind. I beckon her further into the temple, hoping my anxiety will get the point across on its own. This time it’s me pulling Rin around as I see fit.

We reach the back of the temple, where a mighty statue sits in front of an altar. At first, I’m really not sure what I’m looking at - it’s a statue of some sort of deity, but it’s a generic started of a bearded man in a robe. Who is this? Zeus? Poseidon? Ares? There’s really no clue who exactly I’m supposed to worship here. I start circling the statue, looking for any kind of giveaway markings on it.

For a few minutes, I inspect the statue from all directions. Rin trails along, but I see her getting bored after so long. She probably just sees a sculpture of an old guy and doesn’t realise how little sense it makes. She lazily types something as I pull her around.

[his nose is silly.]

What sort of detail is that to pick up? We’re in the middle of an outright anachronism, and she’s looking at facial features? I look back at Rin, ready to lecture her if I didn’t have a piece of plastic stuck in my mouth.

I see her prodding at the statue’s nose.

The statue falls backwards. It slams into the floor and sends up a cloud of dust and sand.

What the?!

Rin seems as taken aback as I am. She looks at her own finger in amazement, flexing it like a bicep. There’s no way in hell she should have been able to knock over a stone statue with all ten of her fingers, let alone one. I’m really not sure what to believe anymore.

As the dust clears, I point my flashlight down at the statue. Now that it’s lying on its back I can see that the interior is hollow. A fake, I realise. There’s a hole in the floor where it was standing, just large enough to fit a person.

[secret passage~]

Rin is congratulating herself, taking long bows to an imaginary audience. Part of me wants to tell her that her only contribution was to poke at something, but I’d rather not be the killjoy right now. Besides, now things are really getting interesting - this Greek temple was a shoddily made coverup for something else.

But what? Well, there’s one way to find out, and it’s the hands-on approach.

There’s definitely not enough room in this passage for more than single file. We’ll have to go in one at a time. Rin raises her hand to get my attention before typing another note.

[me first.] Rin lowers herself into the passageway, brandishing her flashlight to light the path. It makes sense for her to go first - she’s the faster swimmer, after all. I give her a few seconds head-start before following after her.

There’s barely enough room to move in here, let alone swim. I have to take care not to grind my tank against the ceiling, hanging low and basically crawling across the ground. Rin’s not finding it much easier, only a few metres ahead of me. At least there aren’t any junctions to worry about.

When she reaches what seems to be the end of the tunnel, Rin looks upwards. I hear her gurgle to herself in confusion before she stands up. Seconds later she steps out of the tunnel completely, giving me room to crawl into where she’d been standing.

An air pocket?

As I push myself upwards, I break the surface and find myself looking into an air-tight chamber at the back of the temple. The architecture is drastically different from the faux Greek designs on the outside - swirling spirals drawn across the walls, and stone floors built with ever-shrinking circles. There are torches on both sides of the room, still lit and burning after all this time. There’s a staircase leading up from the hole, towards another stone altar. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen or read about.

Rin offers me a hand up out of the water. I pull the mouthpiece off, taking a breath of stale air.

“Haah...feels good to get that thing out of my mouth.”

“That’s what she said,” Rin says with a wink. I give her the harshest glare I can manage.

“Still, where are we?” she asks, looking to me as a beacon of wisdom. I don’t want to tell her I’m not sure right now, so I just walk up the staircase and act like I know where I’m going. Though to be fair, in these fins it’s less ‘walking’ and more ‘waddling’.

At the top of the staircase, I stand in front of the altar with Rin following close behind. There are two small wand-like sticks embedded in the stone, one red and the other orange. With a bit of effort, I manage to pry the orange wand loose.

“Hey, don’t you archeologists get really mad about messing with artifacts?” Rin asks. In spite of her supposed uncertainty, she’s already working the red wand out of its crevice.

I twirl the orange stick around in my hand. It glistens in the light of the torches, but it feels more sturdy than glass. There’s an emblem on its tip, but it’s just a series of circles. Bubbles, maybe? I clip it to my waist for now. Maybe I can get it inspected on the surface.

“Only if they’re rare and fragile,” I answer. “We don’t know if these are either. Besides, this might be my contribution to rent this month.”

Rin nods now that I’m speaking a language she understands. She unearths the second wand and clips it to her waist.

Moments later, a growling noise echoes through the chamber.

“”What was that?”” Rin and I ask each other in unison. We look at each other, wide-eyed. I feel my pulse quicken.

Another growl, louder this time. It’s coming from beneath the ground, as if the earth itself is moaning. The floor begins to shake, and the walls tremble as they let in leaks. The airtight chamber is about to become significantly less airtight.

I pull the mouthpiece back on and take Rin’s hand as I dart down the stairs. Whatever’s going on, it’s not going to be safe staying in here much longer. I run towards the tunnel, ready to crawl back out through the passage.

Before I make it, the room explodes.

The ground bursts apart, sending stone flying in every direction. At the same time the walls cave in, sending a wave of water crashing into the room. I’m blown upwards in the impact, losing my grip on Rin’s hand. It sends me slamming into what’s left of the ceiling, and a sharp shock runs down my back. I hear a metallic clang, and the hiss of bubbles as the tank shields me from most of the damage.

By the time I’ve stopped spinning, I’m well above the temple. I right myself, turning back towards the gurgling sound. There’s a dent in the tank from the collision, and it’s spewing bubbles into the water. I pull over the oxygen gauge on the side of the tank. It’s dwindling rapidly.

I look up. The surface is too far away. I’ll never make it on this little air. I can already hear the wheezing in my breaths as the gauge’s needle dwindles into the red. I want to be scared, but adrenaline has already taken over.

Rin. Where’s Rin?

Is she okay? Maybe she’s got air. I look down to see if she was knocked out of the temple as well. I see her dangling in the water, looking barely conscious but just about unharmed. Her tank hasn’t been ruptured, either.

What stops me in my tracks is what’s right beneath her.

What the hell...?!

A dozen sapphire tentacles wriggle out of the hole in the ground that used to be the temple. A gel-like creature pulls itself out of the abyss, looking about the water with glowing white eyes. It’s larger than the temple itself, with each of its tendrils as wide as I am tall.

The monster looks up at Rin, extending a tentacle.

No!

I swim as fast as I can manage towards Rin before the monster scoops her up. I’m only a few feet away when the tentacle bursts open, splitting into a dozen smaller digits. They wrap around Rin’s ankles, tugging her in out of my grasp.

“M-Mmmyaabbl!”

Rin seems to wake up as the monster clutches her, kicking in every direction. She punches at the gel to no success until the monster’s smaller tentacles curl around her wrists as well. She grimaces, groaning and yelling into her mouthpiece.

That’s a luxury I can’t afford. My tank is nearly empty, and as I take the last few breaths I keep charging towards Rin. I need the air from her tank if I want to stay alive - and besides that, I’d never be able to live with myself if she died on my watch. As I come close to her, I pull out the orange wand from the altar. It’s the sharpest thing I’ve got on me right now. I slice at one of the tentacles with it. The monster howls, the tendril snapping back into its root, only for another to take its place.

It’s working! It’s-

Before I have time to make another cut, a tentacle grabs me from behind. It coils around the wrist holding the wand, yanking it away from Rin. Moments later three more tentacles grab at my other limbs, holding me aloft and powerless in the water.

“Bbl! Gbbl! Bl-”

As I squirm and struggle for freedom, I feel my breaths cut short. The gurgling from the dent has stopped. The oxygen gauge is sitting at 0.

I’m out of air.

“B-bllmmmmpphh!!”

Now I really start to panic. I spit out the mouthpiece, letting it dangle at my side. Kicking doesn’t help. Punching doesn’t help. Screaming definitely doesn’t help. I feel weaker by the second as I burn through my last few bubbles of air.

Am I...am I gonna die...?

I look up at my hand, still clenching the wand. I squeeze at it, trying to pull it downwards. If I can just cut at the one on my wrist-

“Bubya!?”

The wand begins to shine in my hand. The tentacles are knocked away as a sudden flash emanates from the rod. I feel strength returning to my body as I pull away from the beast.

What is this thing...?

My chest is burning. I desperately need to breathe, but I feel like I can hear a voice passing through the waves, whispering words to me. Against my better judgement, I lift the shining wand above my head and speak.

“Magidiver Orange, Suit Up!”

The words are crystal clear in the water, and the wand’s light shifts to a blinding orange. The weight on my back falls away as the tank fades into nothingness. The wetsuit crawls along my skin, stopping at my wrists and ankles. The reds and yellows fuse together to become orange, and jagged fins pop out behind my thighs and upper arms. A golden ring forms around my neck, tiny slits cut into the edges like gills. Finally, the wand itself stretches until it’s a full-blown stave, a brilliant yellow orb hanging on its tip.

“...”

It takes me a while to take in the change in scenery. I take slow, awkward breaths, the collar shining every time I inhale. I can breathe. That’s good. I’m armed. That’s even better.

I look like an idiot. That’s very bad.

“Bubbuuuubl!?”

Rin pulls her neck around to look at me. She makes the obvious correlation, and grabs at the wand one her waist with one of her tails. Wrapping it around and bringing it close, she focuses as her wand sends out its own burst of power, releasing her from the monster’s grip. She grabs the wand in one hand and lifts it upwards, spitting out her mouthpiece to speak.

“Magidiver Red, Suit Up!”

Rin pulls off the look a lot better, I think to myself. Maybe it’s because her body is more mature than mine, and so the suit is better at tracing her curves. It’s probably a bad time for it, but I can’t help but be jealous as she changes into a sharp-finned wetsuit, though hers is red instead of orange. Her wand melts into her hands, and a red aura engulfs her entire body. I hear the crackling of flame as she purrs in satisfaction.

“Wow, this is pretty neat.” She turns to me and offers a thumbs-up. “Thanks for the save, Chen! You really bailed me out there.”

I manage a bewildered nod in response. How is she taking this all so casually? ...Actually, the more I think about that, the more it sounds like exactly how Rin would react.

Not that I have time to worry about that. The howling of the monster reminds me I have bigger things to focus on. Another tentacle swings towards me, this time intent on skewering me rather than tying me up. As it comes in I swing the stave on instinct, slicing through its gel-like form. It dissolves, the tentacle sliding backwards and fading into nothing.

The creature focuses most of its attention on Rin since she’s the closer target. Three or four tentacles thrust towards her, each splitting into a dozen tendrils of their own. She’s quickly engulfed, attacked from all sides until I can’t see any sign of her. All I hear is her voice, and the crackling noise getting louder.

“Dammit, get offa me!”

There’s a sudden explosion as the tentacles split apart. Rin’s entire body has caught alight, and everything the flame touches begins to come apart. The monster howls in pain as it hobbles backwards, missing nearly half of its tentacles.

“How did you do that?” I ask her as I come closer. I swim without needing to think about it, crossing the distance with the grace of a fish. “I mean, the whole being on fire thing.”

As the flames dwindle back to a pulsing aura, Rin just shrugs. “I’ll figure that out later. Right now, we’ve gotta finish this thing off.”

I nod. The creature is trying to sink back into the hole it came from to regroup. An idea jumps onto my head.

“Rin, stay back.” I twirl the stave around, pointing the orb in the monster’s direction. “I’ve got this.”

Closing my eyes, I begin to picture the night sky in my mind. A million constellations made up of a billion stars. I hear the orb hum as it feeds off my thoughts, drawing power from my imagination.

I let the stars dance around in the sky. The galaxy swirls around, a whirlpool with me at its center. I feel the stars pass into me, the humming growing stronger with every sun that I pull in.

When the sky is empty, I open my eyes. The stave is so full of energy that I can barely keep it in my hands. I tighten my grip, aiming straight at the monster’s core.

“This is it! Starstorm!”

The orb lets out a burst of light, and a dozen star-shaped projectiles emerge. Each of them is as large as I am, and they hurtle through the water towards their target with blistering speed. The monster tries to vanish into the abyss it came from, but the stars follow it relentlessly into the hole.

As they collide with the beast, they form a pillar of light that carries all the way up to the surface. The monster manages one last cry before it comes apart, its jelly-like form splashing out of the whole before crumbling into nothing.

“There. It’s over.”

I lower my stave with a sigh of relief. That took more out of me than I’d like to admit. I tip backwards in the water, looking up towards the surface.

Rin wraps her arms around me. She nuzzles at my cheek and scratches at my ears again. I purr without a hint of shame as she starts carrying me back towards the boat.

“Not bad, hero.” She rubs her nose against mine, and I squirm a little in her grip. “But next time, come up with a finishing move that doesn’t leave you powerless afterwards, okay?”

As we approach the surface, I feel my eyelids growing heavy. Maybe it’ll be okay to take a little nap. It’s only fair I get payback for her waking me up so early this morning.

“Nyaa...I’ll work on it...”

XephyrEnigma

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Re: Gensoakyo (AKA Sango's Dive Shack)
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2012, 09:28:31 pm »
This was an awesome read, and I really like the dynamic between Orin and Chen you've got here. Excellent work, once again.
Iced-Fairy: "Danmaku is like soccer, except instead of hooligans you get fairies and the riot is before the game." 

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Esifex

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Re: Gensoakyo (AKA Sango's Dive Shack)
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2012, 06:42:21 am »
Did they awaken crystal sapphire C'thulu?
Meanyhead, tryin to get his tentacle grape on.

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Gensoakyo (AKA Sango's Dive Shack)
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2012, 05:53:27 pm »
BONUS PICTURE!

Artist is Kichi, the artist behind the Ask The Cat blog. She does commissions! You should look into that.

Holy crap that background still makes me grin uncontrollably <3

BT

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Re: Gensoakyo (AKA Sango's Dive Shack)
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2012, 10:11:38 pm »
Quote
As we approach the surface, I feel my eyelids growing heavy. Maybe it’ll be okay to take a little nap. It’s only fair I get payback for her waking me up so early this morning.
And then she woke up.

I was honestly seriously expecting this to happen. Good thing.

Now begins the quest to find the five other rainbow divers, no?
 

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