Oh, this goes here, doesn't it.Red Thaumatology II – Yumemi's Revenge
or2AA 5C 4C 5B 2C 623B 4C 2C 236C 2C 4C 5BB 2A (whiff) 5BB 623B 4C 2C [5BB 2A (whiff)] x 9 5A 5BB 2A (whiff) 5A 5BB 623A – A Slightly Longer Story
There was a knock on the door. Kana went to open it, forgot that she couldn't, and with her anger she mustered up a feeble physical edge that enabled her to get a grip on the door.
“Who is it?” she asked as she opened it.
“Pizza delivery,” the blonde-haired girl said. “For, uh... Rikako Asakura's Secret Lab. I think I followed the instructions right... is this the place?”
“It sure is,” Kana nodded. “Ellen, Yumemi, somebody! Come get the pizza!”
Yumemi was the first to show up. She nodded as she took the pizza. “Hey, Merry. Part-time job?”
Maribel nodded. “And, oh, seeing as you're here...” She pulled a package out from behind her and handed it to the professor. “On my way here, some girl in a maid outfit gave this to me,” she said as Yumemi unwrapped it. “She said it was to be delivered to the same address that I was to be delivering the pizza to.”
“Oh, yes, yes,” Yumemi said, looking at the black box. She opened up a gift tag on the mysterious black box; partially out of curiousity, and partially because she hadn't been paid, Maribel stayed to watch.
“My dearest Okazaki-sensei,” she read aloud. “My daughter VIVIT could not wait to give you her latest pet project. She's been working on it with Ruukoto for quite a while now, and she wanted to let you see a prototype and test out how well it works. Please e-mail all feedback to erich_atreides@yah... yadda yadda yadda..." She read further down, and smiled. “Yumemi-san! I hope you enjoy this new Playstation XII I built for you, because life-size hard-live battling holographs ROCK! Much love from me an' Ruukoto, your friend, VIVIT.”
“Playstation... what?” Maribel asked, her eyes bugging out.
Yumemi stood there for a moment, then looked at the black box, then at Maribel, then at the black box again.
“Kidnap her,” she ordered Kana, who nodded and powered up her fists with ectoplasm, took hold of Maribel, and hauled her in.
“Hey! You can't do this!” Maribel begged as she was heaved up in Kana's hands.
“Of course we can,” Kana laughed. “We're villains, remember?”
“Besides,” Yumemi said, her eyes somehow glowing an eerie red in the dark. “I just had this awesome idea...”
“Oh god, I'm late!” Renko yelled to no one in particular as she tied up her boots and ran out of her dorm, then hastily unlocked it and ran back in, grabbed her bookbag, and ran off without shutting the door. “I stayed up too late playing Soku with Sanae again! God damn it!”
As she raced down the hallway out of the dorm, she noticed people giving her glances, but she chalked it up just to amusement at her lateness. At this rate, she thought as she exited the dorm and made it onto the campus proper, she might make it in time for her class with--
“Hey!” Yumemi laughed, waving at Renko.
“EH?!” Renko stammered as she saw that the main courtyard of the university had been transformed overnight. Hastily-erected bleachers flanked a ring in the center, which Yumemi was currently using for a stage.
“Come on up, Renko Usami!” Rikako Asakura called out, wearing a radio headpiece and talking into a microphone that broadcast her voice over the whole university.
“Do you think she'll get the reference?” Kana asked, floating over Rikako's shoulder.
“Oh, not a chance in hell,” Rikako laughed. “The Tournament arc took too long anyway.”
“Wh—what?!” Renko asked as the crowd parted for her, letting her pass through to the main stage. She climbed the steps of the ring, and walked to the center, where Rikako, Kana, and Yumemi waited for her.
“What's the meaning of this?!” Renko asked, all thought of getting to class gone.
Yumemi chuckled and wrapped herself in her cape. “Chiyuri!” she yelled. “Show the prisoner!”
Behind her, on top of the main building's roof, Chiyuri emerged from behind a stone clock, pulling out--
“MARIBEL!” Renko screamed as she saw her best friend tied up and blindfolded. Chiyuri paraded her to the edge of the building and then pulled her back, laughing.
“That was so you would agree to my demands,” Yumemi grinned.
“DON'T YOU LAY A HAND ON HER!” Renko yelled as she tried to rush Yumemi, but she was held back by Kotohime and Ellen, then forced onto her knees.
“Relax, relax,” Yumemi laughed as she circled Renko, who had been armlocked by Kotohime. “I am not going to lay a finger on her, if you do as I say.”
Her cape swished around as she walked. Renko glared at her. “What is this all about, Yumemi?”
Yumemi spun on her heel and kneeled down to Renko's eye level, and put her arms on both sides of her so that Yumemi was leaning over her.
“I want a rematch, my dear,” Yumemi purred into Renko's ear, and Renko shivered at the closeness.Even now, she's still... attractive...
Yumemi grinned. “I want a rematch of last time's fight,” she said, “and these are the terms.” She got back up and stood over Renko. “If I win, then Maribel...”
She drew her finger over her throat in a slashing motion, and Renko flinched.
“You get the idea,” she smirked.
“... and if I win?” Renko challenged. “What do I--”
“It doesn't matter,” Yumemi cut her off. “Because you're not going to win, but you can't afford to just walk away.”
Renko glared at her, wishing that Yumemi wouldn't look so attractive with her soft red hair.
“Fine!” she yelled. “I accept!”
“Excellent.” Yumemi rubbed her hands together. “Ellen, if you would.”
Ellen, who was now standing outside of the ring, nodded and looked down. Immediately a blue half-sphere of energy surrounded them; Renko looked around, panicked. “What is this?!”
“Actress Again,” Yumemi replied, a menu screen materializing in thin air in front of them both. “Future-style.”
“This technology is... impossible,” Renko gasped as she watched Rikako and Yumemi consult together. “This technology is centuries ahead of the modern day!”
“It sure is!” Yumemi laughed gleefully. “And I hope you enjoy survival mode with life-size hard-live battling holographs.”
“Wait...” Renko paused as Yumemi left the stage. “WHAT?!”
“You heard me,” the professor replied as she sat down in a fold-out chair, where she could see all the action in the ring. “Survival mode, just like back in the good ol' days of PoDD.”
“I thought I was going to fight YOU!”
“You might,” Yumemi chuckled. “If you can make it past Kana.”
Standing in the middle of the ring, Kana pulled off her elbow-length white gloves and put on a pair of Kaminaglasses, then cranked up the difficulty to 5.
“Maribel,” Renko whispered to herself, biting her lip and looking up at her.
“Something you might want to know,” Kana said, moving to the select screen. “This is Playstation XII. And some things are a little bit...”
She selected HF-Sion and before her eyes, Kana shimmered and in a burst of blue light, she was dressed in a purple vest and light purple skirt.
“Terrific,” Renko muttered as she selected C-V. Akiha. An explosion of red light later, she was dressed just like her, and had a headband in her hair for whatever reason. Taking a fighting stance, she waited for the game to declare the beginning of the match.
“Oh, one last thing,” Kana said.
“To quote Ranma... I'm really sorry about this.”
“Impressive,” Yumemi commented as she popped a chocolate-covered strawberry into her mouth, watching the action on stage. “Renko's been at half-gauge ever since her Kana fight, but she's slowly gaining her life back.”
“She is doing fairly well, for how unfair we made it,” Ellen laughed. “How was my F-Len?”
“You did well,” Rikako said. “Much better than my C-Hisui.” She turned to Yumemi. “Looks like you're enjoying being chaotic evil.”
“Um, Chaotic Evil is when you run around lighting things on fire indiscriminately.” Yumemi corrected her. “I'm more along the lines of Lawful Evil.”
“Alignments are bad and you should feel bad,” Ellen hissed.
“Shut up, Neutral Good,” Kana said, hitting her on the head.
“Ujauja,” Ellen muttered just as Kotohime, dressed as Aoko, flew off the stage and landed on top of her.
“Ring out!” Renko yelled, her health bar restoring itself to about 75% full.
“Yikes, that's.... Kana, myself, Ellen, and now Kotohime,” Rikako said, helping Kotohime up.
“Go on in, Mech Hisui,” Yumemi ordered her robot maid, Ruukoto 2.0.
“Yes, mistress,” Ruukoto said, entering the ring and proceeding to shoot missiles at Renko Vermilion.
“She's almost reached me,” Yumemi said, pulling Ellen up from the ground. “Next is Chiyuri, and then...”
“Hey, Yumemi,” Kana asked. “Are you really... uh,” she muttered. “Are you really going to throw Maribel off of the building if Renko loses?” She looked worried. “Because, uh... I don't really want to have to see someone die again... being a ghost kind of sucks.”
“Nah, probably not,” Yumemi admitted. “I just kinda wanted to see the look on her face.” She grinned. “'sides, I had a better idea.”
“... a better idea?” Kana asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Oh, you'll find out when we get there~”
Playing as if she was V. Akiha herself was a new experience. Renko took a few moments to realize that there was no real need to physically input complex commands like “6C dash 4C j.A j.B j.C dj.B dj.C”. All she had to do was think of the combos, and the machine itself would execute them.
That said, this was insane. There was no way Renko should have been able to slap her opponent twice, then shoot her palm downward, upward, leap up, kick twice in fast succession, then wrap her legs around the opponent’s neck and slam them down onto the floor of the ring. The technology of the future was astounding.
But it did have one nasty side effect. Every blow V. Akiha received went straight to her as well. Though it was all just simulated-- electric shocks substituted the actual physical pain of getting ringslammed, among other things-- it still hurt.
So Renko had learned to use the wonderful power of ring-outs instead. It was just like a martial arts tournament in that the opponent could lose when she was able to push the opponent out of the ring. Moreover, it was faster and carried less of a risk of being hurt.
This had worked until she had reached this level. She was now fighting Chiyuri, who mained Crescent Arcueid. After a nasty tussle with Ruukoto's Half-Moon Mech Hisui, she had been hoping for an easy fight, but Chiyuri wasn't budging an inch. Despite her looks, Arcueid was a heavyweight, with powerful physical attacks and plenty of blood rings to spin at her. V.Akiha was built for speed and speed alone; she had the lowest defense in the entire game, and only her flame hair attacks were even remotely long-range. And she was a lightweight. No matter how much she pushed, Arcueid would never budge. She had had to do it manually.
And she had; she had now gotten Arcueid to only a little bit of life left, but she had paid too much life in turn. She had had almost eighty percent of a lifebar when she had finished with Ruukoto's Mech Hisui; now she was at only thirty, at most. Chiyuri was about to lose, but she had drained enough of Renko's lifebar to ensure that she would be picked off easily by Yumemi's Ryougi.
She grit her teeth. There was no time to worry about that. She had Arcueid to worry about. All she needed was a lucky chanc--
Chiyuri's Arcueid ran at her, preparing to release that strange pink fire from her hands. She looked down--
Activating a simple heat mode, she felt heat rise up in her face. Red clouded her vision-- when the red cleared, she saw that her Akiha's eyebeams had met their mark and knocked the last bit of life from Arcueid.
With a sigh of relief, she saw her lifebar increase to 40%. The situation still wasn't pretty-- she had less than half a lifebar to confront Ryougi-- but it was enough.
“Well done, well done!”
Renko turned to see Yumemi applauding for her as Kotohime and Rikako picked Chiyuri back up and pulled her off the ring. She wasn't transforming into Ryougi... what?
“Very well done,” Yumemi laughed. “But now your run comes to an end.”
“Just so you know,” Renko said, “her” long red hair whipping in an electronic breeze, “I've been picking up some other characters. I now know Ryougi's strong points, her weak points. You don't stand a chance.”
“Me?” Yumemi laughed. “What do you mean? You're acting as if I was going to fight you.”
“... eh?” the physics student asked just as a dark shadow landed in front of her, knelt, and in a shimmer of blue light transformed into--
“ARCHETYPE: EARTH?!” Renko reeled back on instinct, knowing full well how powerful A:E was. Sure, Ryougi's Last Arc could cut off almost 70% of the opponent’s lifebar, but that damage was still within reason. A:E, on the other hand, had a one-hit KO attack that was horribly unfair.
“Hey, A:E is banned from tourney play!” Renko objected.
Yumemi shrugged. “Does this look like a tournament? 'sides, I'm a villain.” She grinned. “I get to do things like this.
“Well, enjoy,” she called out as she descended the steps of the ring.
“WAIT!” Renko called out. “I thought you were going to be my final boss!”
“Nah,” Yumemi said, sitting down with her friends. “I forfeited the right to my friend. I'll let her fight in my place.”
It was just then that Renko realized that the people Yumemi was sitting with were all present and accounted for. Yumemi mained Ryougi, she had just defeated Chiyuri's Arcueid, and before that she had fought Ruukoto's Mech Hisui, Kotohime's Aoko, Rikako's Hisui, Ellen's Len (and Sokrates' Neco Arc), and Kana's Sion...
... so just who was this?
She sensed the blow coming before she saw it. Jumping up, she took advantage of V.Akiha's two air dashes, but before she knew it, Archetype Earth had actually leapt up and grabbed hold of her ankle, then *slammed her down onto the ground* and ground her heel into her back.
“GAH!” Renko gasped for breath. She brought up her legs and wrapped them around A:E's, then threw her off. A:E was all but unaffected; despite her heavy weight and her huge dress, she landed quite gracefully.
A sneaking suspicion was growing in the back of Renko's mind... She had to see who this was.
Rushing at her, she leapt into the air and kicked Archetype Earth in the face, then dropped low and slashed at her six times with her claws; on the last slash, she dashed forward and knocked her down with a final slash. But instead of finishing it there, she stood atop Archetype Earth and ground her heel into her throat, disrupting the game's mechanics and interrupting the flow of electricity so that in a shimmer of blue sparks, she could see the face of--
“NO!” she yelled as Archetype Earth grabbed her leg and swung her into the air, then slammed her down onto the ground.
“Yes,” Maribel replied.
“Very nice, very nice.” Rikako applauded. “I like how you pulled off the grand reveal of your trick.”
“I like your style,” Kana added.
“Why, thank you,” Yumemi nodded, accepting the compliments.
“Oh, but I do have one question,” Ellen asked, Sokrates sleeping on her head as she did.
“How did you get Maribel to fight for you?”
“Oh, that? That was the simple part.” Yumemi grinned. “If she can beat Renko, then I promised to bring Renko into Gensokyo on the Probability Hyperspace Vessel with us.”
“Just Renko?” Kotohime asked, raising an eyebrow.
Yumemi nodded. “Maribel is very unselfish. I had to use that to my advantage.”
“What happens to Maribel?”
Yumemi looked at Kana in such a way that Kana suddenly felt as if she didn't need to know the answer to that question.
“But... WHY?!” Renko begged as she leapt around the ring, always trying to stay two steps ahead of Maribel's Archetype Earth. “What are you doing?!”
“Fighting for your sake!” Maribel yelled back as she raced after Renko, close on her heels.
“I don't want to fight you, Maribel!”
“It's for you, Renko!” Archetype Earth gained on her V. Akiha and before Renko could react, she had pulled off a painful 2A 5C 2B 5B, followed up by a 2C 4B j.B. Letting the last one hit twice, she then moved into a j.C jc j.B and again let the j.B hit twice, then finished with a j.C and an airthrow.
Renko went flying, spinning wildly in the air. Her head was reeling and her body felt as if it had been actually bruised instead of just shocked. She saw the line of the ring beneath her and in a burst of energy, she righted herself in the air and shot down, landing hard on the inside of the ring.
She wouldn't give Yumemi the satisfaction of a ring out in her last match. For Maribel's sake, she had to win!
“How screwed am I?” Renko muttered as she looked up at her lifebar.
“Oh, that's not too horrible,” Renko told herself.
Then Archetype Earth activated her blood heat.
“I'll try and make this quick,” Maribel said as she crossed the ring to where Renko was still kneeling down, gasping for breath.
“You're going to Last Arc me?” Renko asked.
“Yes,” Maribel replied, raising her hand for the big finish.
Then Renko leapt upwards and came straight at the unguarded Maribel.
2AA 5C 4C 5B 2C 623B 4C 2C 236C 2C 4C 5BB 2A. Whiff. Then 5BB 623B 4C 2C, with a 5BB 2A and a whiff, nine times in quick succession. She continued with a 5A 5BB 2A, whiffed, and then followed up with a 5A 5BB 623A.
And just to drive the point home, she pulled Archetype Earth along by the leg, willing strength back into her weakened arms. With a few last desperate tugs, Renko dragged her to the edge and before Maribel fully realized what was going on, she had been pushed out of the ring.
“Ring out,” Renko said, then collapsed to her knees and breathed hard.
In the bleachers, Yumemi was furious.
“Kana,” she ordered. “Activate boss rush mode.”
“Eh?” Kana asked, moving over to the Playstation XII's controls. “Boss rush? We don't have any last people to throw at the--”
“Just do it!”
“Fine, fine,” Kana muttered as she pressed some buttons.
Still dressed as Archetype Earth, Maribel walked over to Renko Vermilion, who had fallen backwards, tired and weak, blood dribbling out of her mouth.
"That last combo took too much out of me..." Renko forced out. "It feels like I'm bruised all over."
"They might be..." Maribel trailed off as she crouched over her prone body. "So, how are you feeling? You don't look too good."
Renko chuckled and coughed. "I can't hear much of anything right now. I think..." she said weakly, her eyes glassing over, "this is... the end... my friend..." She smiled slightly, blood dripping down from the side of her mouth.
"Friend?" Maribel asked, holding on to Renko's hand. "I was... kind of hoping... something else."
"Everything's... going dark..." Renko wheezed. "Oh, Merry, what are you saying...?"
"You know what I'm saying." Maribel's face went slightly red. "I was kind of hoping that someday, we would be a bit more than friends..." She blushed and smiled, the smile leaving her face as Renko coughed even harder and spat up a generous serving of blood and bile.
"Heh..." she grabbed Maribel's arm desperately, her gaze fixed on a position behind her. "Merry... it was a good run, right? I won, right? I saved you, right?"
She spat up some more blood and hacked a bit. "Right, Merry, right? Right?" Her look was almost pleading. Maribel didn't even think Renko could see her anymore.
"Oh, Renko..." Maribel said, trying to find some words to comfort her dying friend.
"Ma... ribel... I... always wanted to... tell you..." Renko said desperately, forcing the words out through sheer willpower.
"Renko..." Maribel said solemnly, as Renko's grip on her shoulder began to loosen.
She gave Maribel a faint smile.
"... I love... you... Mar... i..."
Renko's head lolled to one side, silent.
Maribel's eyes widened in shock.
"Renko!" She shook her, but Renko didn't move. "Renko!"
Maribel turned her face up to the sky. "RENKOOOO!!" she screamed. "RAHHHH!!"
Maribel looked down at her friend's battered body and shook her head slowly. She ran her hands over Renko's bruised face for a long moment.
Then she smacked it. Hard.
"IDIOT!" she yelled. "This is just a video game, remember!?" She flicked Renko's nose, and it shimmered blue.
"Oh yeah! I forgot!" Renko exclaimed, sitting back up in shock, and then falling over again. "But I'm still pretty much out of lifebar," she sighed as Maribel covered her face in disbelief.
"Oh, you silly girl..." Maribel groaned, as a long, sinister looking shadow loomed over her. Turning, she looked up into the smiling face of--
"Hey, Renko? Are we in boss rush mode now?"
"I don't know. Why do you ask?"
"Because there's an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile smiling at us."
"Eh?" Renko sat back up and looked where Maribel was looking, into the smiling face of Mimi-chan, the friendly ICBM.
Renko then glanced at her lifebar. 5% left. Maribel still had around 45%.
"Together, we make half a lifebar," she tried to say cheerfully.
Maribel turned to her.
"Renko, remember that time you threw yourself in front of that insect to save me?"
Maribel laughed and it sounded like the sweetest sound in the world to Renko's ears.
"Well, it's time to let me return the favor!" she yelled just as Mimi-chan launched itself at her.
"MARIBEL!" Renko screamed as Maribel pushed her to the side.
Grinding in her heels, Maribel fixed her gaze on the ICBM, and as it flew right in her face, she narrowed her eyes and opened her arms. The ICBM smashed into her--
And then it didn't budge. Maribel was holding it back, keeping it from advancing on Renko. Sweat broke out on Maribel's forehead.
"She can't hold it forever," Renko muttered. "But I can't help her..." She looked around wildly, trying to see if she could do something. "Oh, god damn it, I need a miracle!"
Kana looked up and sniffed the air.
"What is it?" Chiyuri asked.
"I sense applied phlebotinum in the air."
"Never mind," Kana said, waving it off and looking down.
If she had stayed looking up a second longer, she would have seen a burst of green light hit the Playstation XII--
Even as Archetype Earth, she wasn't invincible-- especially not at half a lifebar with no meter-- and Maribel felt her power begin to give out. She dropped to one knee as she was slowly pushed back by the force of the ICBM. She only had seconds before Mimi would break out of her iron grip and smash into Renko.
She grit her teeth and looked up at Mimi, who was still smiling. "Well, at least you're happy," she remarked dryly as she felt the ICBM push her back just a little bit more, and her power begin to fail--
A flash of green, and Maribel temporarily lost her vision. That was all Mimi needed to smash her in the chin, knock her back, and hurl itself at her friend--
"RENKO!" Maribel yelled as the ICBM went flying, sonic booms clapping in its wake.
But the other person in the ring casually caught the ICBM in one hand, and chuckled.
"Nuh-uh-uh," the person with Renko's voice said. "It's not nice to hit a girl, you know."
"Eh?" Maribel asked as the shadowy person's leg came up and kicked Mimi upwards and over, disappearing in a flash of blue sparks as it "left" the ring. Then she felt a pair of strong arms pick her up and hold her close.
Renko grinned. "Are you all right?" She was dressed as Riesbyfe Stridberg and her lifebar was up to max.
"But how?!" Maribel asked as she saw a second ICBM begin to materialize and shoot at them.
Renko pointed out of the ring, to the bleachers where the university students had been cheering the entire match. In the entire crowd, there was one person that stood out to Maribel's eyes, and that was because she was waving at them, and she had green hair--
"What can I say?" Renko winked. "She stayed up late playing Soku with me, so she got here a bit late, but she's here."
"A miracle," Maribel nodded. "Look out!" she yelled as the second ICBM came shooting at them.
Renko was ready, though. Raising her combat cello, she smashed it down on the ICBM's head as it zoomed by her. She dashed at Maribel and wrapped her arm around her waist, then leapt around the ring, avoiding the barrage of ICBMs that were now pouring out of the boss rush side of the "screen". When it couldn't be helped, she slashed the ICBMs in half, with help from Maribel as well, and they were hit by only the bare minimum of ICBMs.
Maribel looked over at Renko, smiled, and took her hand.
"Thank you," she said, leaning in and kissing her on the forehead.
Renko felt her heart pound as she put her hands on Maribel's waist. Maribel looked down, surprised, which allowed Renko to kiss her on the lips--
Only briefly, though, since there was an ICBM coming right at them. They dashed to opposite sides of the ring. Renko's heart was still pounding; she could see Maribel bringing up her hand to touch her lips.
"Oh, man," Renko laughed. "When we make it out of this, things are gonna change a fair bit..." she avoided a glancing blow from another ICBM, then barely managed to graze another. "Wait a moment," she muttered, turning her attention entirely to the barrage of ICBMs. "Is it just me, or are they coming faster and harder now...?"
"HIT THEM! HIT THEM MORE!" Yumemi yelled as she brought up every difficulty meter she could, adjusting the number of ICBMs being spawned every second.
"Yumemi, you shouldn't do that!" Rikako said, getting to her feet. "It's only an experimental machine, it won't be able to take the strain!"
"Who cares?!" Yumemi hollered back as blue sparks began to fly on the ring. "I've got to win this!"
"Yumemi, it's having problems rendering all the movement!" Chiyuri cried out. "The machine won't take it!"
“Nonsense! It'll be just--” Yumemi was interrupted by the Playstation XII bursting into flames and the entire spectacle collapsing in a flurry of bright blue sparks. “... fine.”
“... I think you broke it,” Ellen said matter-of-factly, coming up behind Yumemi as she draped herself over the ring's steps and sobbed overdramatically.
The burst of bright blue light blinded Renko for a moment. When it faded, the music and the virtual background was gone, and she was dressed in her normal clothes again. She looked over and saw Maribel back to normal, then rushed over to hug her.
“We did it! We did it!” Maribel exclaimed, jumping up and down in Renko's embrace. Renko chuckled as Maribel's excitement died down and she realized where she was-- in Renko's arms.
Renko was suddenly acutely aware of the situation. She could feel Maribel's soft, warm breath against her neck. The feeling of her skin in her arms. Maribel's chest pushed against her own. She smiled and blushed.
“So... did you really mean what you said earlier? That you wanted to be more than friends with me?”
“Well, yes,” Maribel replied. “We're already really good friends, Renko... but,” she said, bringing up her hand and brushing Renko's hair out of her face. “I... want to try to be something more...”
A sort of tightness gripped Renko's chest; she felt a longing to get closer to Merry. “That's fine with me,” the physics student replied, bringing her closer. “... because I've been thinking of the same thing.”
Before Maribel could reply, Renko had pressed her lips to hers for a gentle kiss. Maribel was taken aback for a moment, but then she returned it, wrapping her arms around Renko, much to the cheers of the screaming crowd--
“HEY!” Yumemi yelled, marching up on stage. “Public displays of affection are not acceptable on this campus!”
“Oh, and all this is?” Renko asked, pulling away from a breathless Maribel and motioning to the spectacle behind them. She glared at the professor. “What gave you the idea to do this?! What could have possessed you to come up with some harebrained scheme like this?” she demanded, waving her hand over the ring where just a few minutes ago, she had been battling a barrage of intercontinental ballistic missiles with her best friend. “How on earth did you think of this?!”
“I...” Yumemi paused for a moment. She looked... confused. Then a red glow came back in her eyes and she grinned at them, malice in her expression. “I wanted to see you suffer, Renko Usami!”
Renko growled and pulled Maribel close to her.
“Renko,” Maribel whispered. “You didn't miss that, did you?”
“What?” Renko whispered back.
“The red glow. There's no way that Yumemi is acting normally. I think she's being controlled.”
“Huh, now that you mention it...” Yumemi was standing there, a faint red aura surrounding her. “... you know, I think you're right. Is it a youkai?”
“I don't know, but I'm not taking any chances,” Maribel said, putting her hand inside her pocket and making some hasty movements.
Yumemi was stalking towards them, an angry red aura definitely beginning to surround her. Renko pushed Maribel back, away from the professor's wrath.
“You two are so annoying!” Yumemi yelled, a strange dual layer to her voice. Phantoms of huge red crosses materialized behind her, making Renko worried, even as Maribel kept moving.
“Oh, and I would have succeeded, too, if only it hadn't been for you meddli--”
“Rin, Pyō, Tō, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, Zen!”
“What the hell?” Yumemi asked as she turned around to see who was chanting the Nine Syllable Seals.
“AKURYO TAISEN!” Sanae yelled as she appeared in front of Yumemi, whipped out a sacred charm, and slapped it onto her forehead.
In a burst of green light, Yumemi fell to the ground, as blood streamed out from her back.
“YUMEMI!” Renko yelled, but Sanae had whipped out her gohei and slammed it hard into Renko's chest.
“That's not blood,” she said. “That's the evil I just exorcised.”
Sure enough, the blood-looking substance was moving too fast to be blood. It snaked away on the ring, then fell off, went through the grass, and disappeared.
“Is it all right to let it go?” Maribel asked, snapping her cell phone shut. She had been texting to Sanae to tell her to come down to the ring.
“It's too weak to harm anyone.” Sanae turned to them. “Nice job, guys.”
“Good job to you,” Maribel said, patting the girl's hair. “Were those the nine syllable seals? My parents used to teach me about those when I was younger.”
“They sure were,” Sanae replied, smiling. “I'm thinking of making them into danmaku someday.”
“Ugh... my head,” a voice muttered.
“Okazaki-sensei!” the psychology student cried out as Yumemi sat up on the ring.
“Huh... wha?” Yumemi asked as she looked around. “Where in the heck am I?”
“... Yumemi, are you feeling all right?” Renko asked, cautiously leaning down to offer her hand to Yumemi.
Yumemi took it and pulled herself up. “Oh, my aching head... what's going on?”
Maribel and Renko looked at each other.
“It's a school festival!” Sanae exclaimed.
“A school festival? Really?” Yumemi's eyes focused and refocused. “First I've heard of it... ugh, my head.”
“Yumemi, should we go home for you to rest?” Chiyuri asked, coming up onto the ring.
“Yes, that sounds good,” the professor groaned slightly as Maribel handed her off to Chiyuri. Then Sanae, Maribel, and Renko followed Chiyuri off of the arena.
“Hmm, is there a point to going to class today? All our classes are probably cancelled anyway~” Maribel danced as Sanae and Renko followed her.
“Eh, probably not,” Renko laughed. “Let's just hole up in my room and play Touhouvania or something.”
“Hmm.” Sanae pondered aloud as she followed the two upperclassmen.
“What is it, Sanae?” Maribel asked.
“I was thinking... how did Yumemi get her hands on that Playstation?” She frowned. “That can't have been from this century...”
“Well, I kind of gave it to her,” Maribel admitted, laughing. “I was delivering some pizzas at my job yesterday afternoon and this maid stepped out of the shadows and told me to deliver a box, so I did.”
“Wait, you just deliver mysterious packages for strangers if they come out of the shadows and tell you to do it?” Renko asked, raising an eyebrow.
“She was a maid!” Maribel grinned sheepishly. “I couldn't turn a maid down!”
“In a maid uniform and everything?” Sanae asked.
“God, who wears that in this day and age? Unless you work at a maid cafe or something. Hmm, what colour was her hair?”
“Pink? I don't know anyone in Gensokyo who's a pink-haired maid... but I guess I could ask Kanako-sama about it.”
“A pink-haired maid, huh...” Renko looked up at the wide blue sky as the girls headed to the dorms. “So... who was really behind all of this...?”
“Well, she mentioned the name VIVIT,” Maribel offered.
“VIVIT, eh?” Renko stroked her chin as they went inside. “Looks like this is something we're going to have to investigate!”
“Damnit,” the pink-haired maid growled as she watched from around a corner. “I just KNEW I should have equipped the latest Mech Hisuis with the latest model knives with instead of using a Saber +2 with 30% hit.”
She was annoyed; her plan had fallen apart at the end. But still, she had at least gotten to see it in action...
“Oh!” she exclaimed as she saw a red mass move through the grass. It leapt up at her--
“You’re back!” she said happily as she pet the creature, which had taken the form of a cat. “Well done~”
“Kohaku, come on, we're late for our gig,” Hisui called out, opening the side of a van, which had been painted with the words “Ryougi Shiki and her Blue Bluegrass Moon band”.
“Yeah, yeah,” Kohaku said as she hopped back in, carrying the purring cat and her banjo.
In related news, I'm sure glad you're all enjoyin' this. :
D~ I have too much fun writing short stories for my own good.