Author Topic: Dolphin Rider Koishi - The End  (Read 175667 times)

Kasu

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #30 on: August 28, 2010, 12:41:29 AM »
"Phwee" is now canon for Sango.  :3

The hilarity levels of this fic keep rising.  Keep it up.


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Sana

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #31 on: August 28, 2010, 01:24:08 AM »
All these dolphin shenanigans are reminding me of May :V

IRUKA-SAN IRUKA-SAN

Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #32 on: August 28, 2010, 12:01:35 PM »
almost can't wait until the next chapter, I am dead curious if "Daiyousei's librarian friend" is Koakuma or Patchouli.
kinda hope it is Koakuma though, Patchouli's cards still severely annoy me.

Esifex

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #33 on: August 28, 2010, 01:04:39 PM »
The two girls on the pier were Daiyousei and Koakuma.

Alfred F. Jones

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #34 on: August 28, 2010, 06:08:52 PM »
... if Sango is Sakura, then Koishi is Tomoyo, isn't sh--

OH GOD

Does this mean Sango gets a ton of different costumes to wear? Because if so, I approve heartily.

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #35 on: August 31, 2010, 12:41:59 AM »
You want another update? Fine. It's not like I like you guys or anything, phwee...

-----

Sango insisted on pulling Koishi away for a celebration after they dried themselves off. Koishi had spent an age coming up with reasons to refuse - they'd only just started so there was no point in getting excited now, she had no idea where to go, and even going so far as saying that it was unfair on Orin and Okuu. The truth of the matter was that she was on the verge of being broke, and her idea of fine dining was 'non-instant noodles'.

Of course, all of her complaints were powerless considering that Sango had grabbed her by the arm and forcefully led her into town. This was when she regretted not taking a sports club after school - that extra strength would have come in handy around here.

Sango led Koishi through the streets of Gensouto, abruptly taking turns left and right. She turned back on her route and walked the same road over and over, apparently unaware that she was retracing her steps. Koishi quickly became aware that Sango was paying absolutely no attention to which direction she was taking, and her eyes were focused solely on the buildings around her. She knew where she was going, she just didn't know how to get there.

"Here? No. Here? No..."

Sango's endurance was impressive - she'd spent five minutes running full pelt, and only now were the first signs of fatigue starting to show. Koishi, on the other hand, was getting breathless just following behind her. The crowds sliced open as the dolphin barged through, ignoring the other pedestrians with her attention firmly set on the goal.

Just before Koishi's body reached its limit, Sango finally came to an abrupt stop. She looked eagerly up at the building beside her, eager anticipation glimmering in her eyes. Koishi needed a moment to catch her breath and adjust her hat before she managed to look up at where she'd been hauled. The sign read in plain, bright letters, 'LORELEI'S - Best Fish Plates In Gensouto!'

Well, this was predictable...

For the sake of her blood pressure, Koishi decided not to look at the menu as Sango pushed her into the restaurant, almost forcing her into a chair. She had all the composure of a highly-caffeinated six year old, and bounced around in her chair as she called over the local waiter. He walked over to the pair nervously - maybe it was his first day on the job?

"Um...can I take your or-"

"Two servings of fresh haddock, please! The biggest helpings you've got!"

The waiter was taken aback by Sango's enthusiasm - not to Koishi's surprise - and wriggled a little in place as he jotted down notes.

"C-Certainly, ma'am! That'll be 1600 Yen!"

1600?! Where does she expect me to pull that sort of money from?!

Koishi carefully moved the cutlery out of the way so she didn't cause herself any damage when she slammed her head into the table. The rent was due soon, and she was already penny-pinching to keep herself afloat. This meal was going to be the end of her!

"1600? Uh, question. Do you give change?"

Sango seemed entirely unaware of Koishi's distress, reaching into a pouch on the side of her jacket. She pulled out a hefty looking purse, and from within removed a single 5,000 Yen note.

Koishi stared with awe at that note as if it were made of solid gold. The waiter seemed just as disturbed by its appearance.

"Y...Yes, I can accept that. I'll be back with your change when your meal is ready."

There was a notable redness on the waiter's face as he accepted the payment, running off to the kitchen to pass the order along. Sango stood out, shouting over the general hubbub to make sure she was heard. They'd told her beforehand to tip the waiters, so she may as well get it out the way now.

"You can keep the 400, sir!"

The waiter stopped in his tracks at that. His face went bright scarlet, as he looked around to the table Koishi and Sango were sitting at. Was it his first tip? He looked distraught.

He proceeded to snap entirely, running at the table and slamming his hands into it. The impact was enough to knock Koishi around, shuffling her glasses out of place. She could make out a head of green hair now, and...were those antennae?

"I'm a girl, dammit! Why does everyone think I'm a guy?!"

The room fell silent after that. The waiter - no, waitress - realised just what she had done, stood up quietly, and darted back to the kitchen without a sound.

The awkward atmosphere slowly faded away, much to the relief of everyone present. It took a few moments for things to grow loud enough that Koishi and Sango felt they could talk without being overheard. Only now did Koishi realise her eyes had been almost attached to Sango's purse, mentally counting the notes stored inside. There was thousands of yen in there, enough to pay the rent for the next ten years.

"...How did you...?"

Sango seemed confused by Koishi's reaction, taking a moment to realise what she was staring at.

"Oh, this? The Pearl gave me living expenses so that I didn't end up on the street. I wasn't going to make you pay, duh."

Koishi felt some portion of her sanity shatter irrevocably. The only thing stopping her from walking out right now was the fact that she was getting a free dinner out of this. She could use a change from noodles.

"OK, so now let's talk strategy. Tomorrow, we're gonna start hunting out Sirens in earnest, phwee."

A beat.

"No-one here. Should've guessed that would be too easy."

Koishi pouted. She'd seen enough of those magical girl shows to know that all the obvious, easy places to look would turn up absolutely nothing in these sorts of searches. Every rule of basic logic said otherwise, but magic and logic were antonyms.

"What sort of strategy are we talking about? Is there some sort of order when it comes to these Sirens?"

"Not really. It's a simple matter of the magic choosing seven girls at birth to become holders of the Teardrops. You can't really tell unless you search by brute force, but that's what we're looking to do."

Sango leaned over the table a little, placing her elbows on it for balance. Apparently she had never been filled in on human etiquette.

"So, you have any hobbies? Interests? Any clubs you could join? Me, I'm pretty flexible, but if you're up for joining the swimming club I'll be glad to-"

"We already said no swimming."

"Dammit. I hoped you'd forgotten."

Koishi took a moment to think the question over, not realising the serious trouble she was on the verge of running into. Had she done anything in these last few months? A single fun pastime, a sport she had an interest in beyond passing PE?

No. She didn't.

"Sorry, I'm afraid I'm drawing blank here."

Sango seemed surprised for a moment, then frowned.

"Koishi-san, that's no good. If we're going to have to find the Sirens, you're going to have to meet some people. And remember, if you actually find one, you need to try and get them to make their heartfelt wish so we can release the Teardrop! Just go to clubs your friends visit to start!"

"Ah, but...I don't really have any friends either."

Silence. The rest of the room dined peacefully, ignorant of the look on Sango's face.

"...You're kidding."

"No. Not really."

Koishi was growing more and more interested in her feet, bowing her head down in shame. After Satori had disappeared, she'd just plain stopped caring in a lot of ways, and she let go of every social commitment she had. The people she'd seen as friends drifted away from her, but she'd been too numb to care about it.

Now, though, Koishi had to wonder. Maybe it was time to take a step back into the fray. To try and rebuild the burnt bridges, and make herself some friends again.

But it would be difficult. She'd be starting from the bottom up, knowing pretty much no-one. It would be like she'd never even attended school, and she'd be inexperienced from the get-go. It was a monumental task, and she didn't have a clue where to start. In fact, she was already starting to have second thoughts about it.

Luckily, the feeling of Sango's hand jumping onto her shoulder pulled her out of that moment of self-doubt.

"Alright, Koishi-san. I've made my decision."

When did you get the right to decide this, anyway?

"If you're so indecisive about it, we'll just join the first club we hear about tomorrow. It's not like you've got anything to worry about with me around, right?"

"The first club? As in it could be anything? We could end up somewhere like the sewing club, or the haiku appreciation club?"

"...What's a haiku? Sounds like a nice topping to me."

Sango's hand was pressed down on her shoulder too violently now. It was clear that she wasn't going to be swayed from this line of thought no matter what sort of disturbing clubs Koishi threatened her with.

She was honestly a little jealous of Sango's zest, but she could hardly bring herself to disagree with someone who was so passionate. Besides, when it simply got cut down to the first step of joining a club, the challenge didn't look quite as daunting.

"...Okay. I'll do my best."

"That's my little hero right there!"

Sango reached over and gave Koishi a little pat on the back. The Siren blushed visibly at Sango's touch - they'd known each other for a day, so wasn't she getting a little close?

"Uh, Sango-san. As a warning, most people don't like it when you touch them in strange places."

"Eh? But you've got clothes on, haven't you? It's not like I'm touching your skin or anythi-"

"Just trust me on this one."

-----

"And y'know what we found? Nothing! The damn thing had fallen to pieces!"

"Is that so? Well, you must have felt very silly, then."

"Hey, it was Koa's idea! I just went along with it because I felt sorry for her!"

The big Fairy from yesterday was spreading the story to anyone who would hear it, currently passing it on to a young girl who had strange habits with holding her arms out. Inevitably she'd pass it on to someone else, who'd pass it on in turn, and in the end the entire school would know that the rumour about the shrine on the pier was an utter sham.

Sango and Koishi offered each other a nod in congratulations as they walked past, making their way out into next period. Last night had mostly been spent doing some basic studying just to bring herself back up to speed with everyone else, while Sango had been learning the wonders of human television. Apparently game shows were much more entertaining to watch when every contestant had bright pink hair.

"When we get home, though, you need to hit the books as well. The English teacher nearly had an aneurysm when you answered her."

"Hey, how was I supposed to know that she wasn't being literal when she asked me about spear-shaking?"

"It's Shakespeare, Sango-san. He's a playwright."

"Well, it's his fault for having such a stupid name, phwee."

They'd had no luck in terms of finding a club to join - even examining the school notice board had turned up no results. It was March, so most clubs had long since given up on recruitment and taken their signs down to let the teachers advertise school shows and the like. Sango's occasional sonar search hadn't turned up any notable results either - she could vaguely feel the presence of several Teardrops in the area, but she couldn't pinpoint one in particular.

"Hm? Sango-san, what's that?"

Koishi caught sight of a single battered sign still stuck to a distant wall. It was sagging downward from the top, to the point where Koishi needed to lift it up with one hand to read it and even then had to squint for the faded ink.

"Apply now for the Perfect Diet club, where health nuts gather to find the secret to culinary enlightenment...?"

It was exaggerated and boisterous, but that was about the only way to possibly gain interest in a school like this. There were dozens of clubs running all at once, so if a club didn't sell itself extravagantly there was no hope of receiving any sort of membership.

"See Club President, Mokou Fujiwara, for more information...ah?!"

Koishi let out a little gasp as she looked over the name.

"Eh? Koishi-san, what's wrong?"

"I...I know her."

The name rang a bell in the distant corners of Koishi's mind. They'd sat together in...was it Geography? History? Something dull...yeah, it had been History. She was a bright, energetic girl, always going on about how she didn't need any of this stuff to run her yakitori stand. Koishi would turn to her and respond now and again when the teacher was covering something she already knew.

It has to be a good start, right?

"Well, that's what I call a lucky find! C'mon, let's go find this Mokou girl and get ourselves into that club! I'm pretty sure they won't have nearly enough fish in their diets..."

Koisihi wasn't sure whether to mention that the average human diet occasionally included foods that were not formerly alive, but eventually decided against it. History was coming up pretty soon, and they hadn't changed the seatings, so she'd get hold of her then and try to get herself in. Maybe apologise for her sudden lack of interest in Mokou, promise to make a fresh start, display interest in the club and suggest inviting Sango as well-

"Ah!"

By the time Koishi noticed there was a foot in the way, it was too late. She fell to the floor face first, her glasses flinging themselves along the polished ground.

"Aw, what a shame. Looks like grandma isn't that steady on her feet after all. And we were all so hopeful for you, too..."

Oh no. Oh, god, no. Not now.

Koishi almost didn't want to look back at the perpetrator, but she knew full well that if she didn't she'd have her head pulled up anyway. Reluctantly, she turned around and sat up on the floor.

Looking down from above, admist a rainbow of colours, was a girl in a long blue dress with six sharp, crystal-like shards of ice hanging behind her back. The strands of blue in her hair Koishi had seen before now ran across it completely, the brunette colour giving way for the absurd new colour. Her bright blue eyes glared at Koishi, her lips warped into some mutated combination of a snarl and a grin. She looked like she wanted to both be sick and burst into laughter at the same time.

"And now your eyes are going, too...such a shame. It'd be really sad if someone ended up stepping on those in this crowded corridor, wouldn't it?"

Cirno reached down and grabbed Koishi by the shoulder, holding her back while she walked ahead. Now Cirno was standing between her and her glasses, and there was no way she was getting past unless the Fairy wanted her to.

Which she wouldn't, until she'd renovated her glasses with her foot.

There's nothing I can do, is there...? There never is...

Koishi was resigned to her fate as Cirno continued to walk forward, stamping triumphantly towards the fallen glasses. She was eager to smash them in the same way a warrior claimed a scalp - a little symbol of her strength, her superiority.

"Oopsie, looks like I'm gonna-"

Cirno wasn't expecting a hand to grab her from behind. No-one messed with her - no-one who knew who they were messing with, no-one who was even remotely sane.

So it was no surprise for Cirno to turn around and see an unfamiliar face looking back at her, with the same silver hair that Koishi had.

"Sorry to interrupt, but what the hell do you think you're doing to my friend?"

Sana

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #36 on: August 31, 2010, 01:22:51 AM »
Sango can be pretty srs bsns :O

Also SOCIAL LINKS SOCIAL LINKS SOCIAL LINKS

Esifex

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #37 on: August 31, 2010, 04:32:21 AM »
Also SOCIAL LINKS SOCIAL LINKS SOCIAL LINKS

Mokou is CLEARLY The Hermit arcana.

CLEARLY.

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #38 on: September 05, 2010, 10:26:48 PM »
Cirno took a moment to simply stare in shock at the newcomer. For months now she'd been one of the school's unspoken leaders, keeping the other students in check with a well timed jab if need be. Most of the school had grown docile and simply kept their heads down as the Fairies had their fun. Someone actually having the nerve to touch her - let alone threaten her - was unprecedented.

"You didn't see anything. Get outta here."

Maybe she was just a newcomer who didn't know what she was getting into. She'd heard stories of an eccentric new transfer student from her underlings in the class, so everything added up.

"I see you picking on a girl who did nothing to wrong you, phwee."

There, that was the main thing that Dai had pointed out - she gave off this weird phwee sound sometimes when she talked, like she was whistling and breathing in at the same time. Her ears wriggled, almost comically, and Cirno had to hold in the urge to just laugh right now.

Best to deal with it quickly and quietly. A full-blown fight was going to attract unwanted attention.

"You really have no idea what you're getting into, do you? Walk away now, or you'll be waking up next period in the nurse's office."

Koishi stared up at the pair in awe, frozen in place. Cirno batted Sango's hand away violently as a cue for her to run off now.

Sango didn't comply. She just stood still, looking as if she was pondering something for a moment before opening her eyes and shaking her head.

"No thanks. I'd be a pretty lousy friend if I let you do what you liked to her, wouldn't I?"

Friends? With Komeiji? Wow, this girl has crappy taste.

Cirno sighed. If she was quick about it, she could probably give this girl a lesson on how the social hierarchy worked around here. She stepped back from Koishi, disregarding the glasses on the floor, and looked over at the newcomer. Sango continued to stare at her without a hint of fear.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Maybe we should all talk this over so there isn't some kinda misunderstandi-"

The Fairy deliberately took a quick step forward mid-sentence, faster than her opponent could react, and delivered a right hook to the cheek. The impact was enough to knock Sango back a step, clutching at her face in shock.

"There! We clear now? Now, get the hell outta here before I have to do something else to that pretty little face of yours!"

By now, the murmuring and muttering of the surrounding students had stopped. Suddenly, all eyes were drawn to the fight unfolding in the middle of the corridor. Hell, it wasn't just a fight - some dumb newbie had managed to piss off Cirno, of all people. It attracted viewers in the same way people swarmed to witness a public execution.

Sango needed a moment to recover from the first blow, falling completely for Cirno's opening gambit. She could taste blood in her mouth, but she spat it at some forgotten corner of the corridor.

"That wasn't very fair. Breaking into a fight halfway through a conversation...you have no dignity at all, do you?"

Cirno laughed.

"Ahahaha! Kid, fair fights are for idiots! Anyone with half a brain sets the field in their favour before the fight's even begun!"

Sango stepped forward again, the pain from the first hit starting to numb as adrenaline kicked in. She took a more refined stance, slowly lowering her arms with her hands outstretched into firmly-held palms. There was a confident glare in her eye.

"Do it again. I dare you."

Cirno paused for a moment, examining Sango's posture. It looked like one of those fancy-schmancy martial arts that showed up in crappy B-movies and seinen manga. Clearly, this girl fancied herself to be some sort of esteemed fighter.

She was going to enjoy this one.

Cirno curled her hands up into fists, raising one as she took another step forward.

"Don't mind if I do!"

Sango's eyes were focused on the raised hand the instant it appeared. Without a hint of effort, she chopped at it from the wrist, redirecting it to miss her entirely. It was a textbook parry, performed perfectly and flawlessly.

"Ah-"

Unfortunately, the textbook assumed that there would only be one punch at a time.

Sango heard an impact. Then, she suddenly found herself unable to breathe.

"P-Phwweeee..."

She had been so focused on the hand going for her face that she hadn't seen Cirno's other hand aiming lower, slamming into her stomach. Sango let out a little gasp as the blow winded her, knocking her back another step.

"Heh! So much for your pretty stances! Not so proud now, are ya?!"

Cirno seized the advantage, going to the winded Sango with both fists. Sango was unable to counter - it took all she had just to deflect the oncoming attacks, let alone offer any sort of response. She could barely breathe, and each strike came a little closer to connecting than the one before it. She had to start blocking punches with her arms, and felt the force reverberating through them as Cirno struck. She grit her teeth as the pain started to kick in, and there was no sign of her opponent letting up.

There was no other way to interpret the outcome. Sango was losing.

---

There was murmured cheering in the crowd as they watched the Fairy leader show yet another greenhorn who really ran this school. The only person separate from the ranks of spectators was Koishi, still sitting in place on the floor.

She's in trouble.

She watched the fight unfold like it was on the other side of a glass wall, totally out of her control. Sango was taking a beating; and it looked like Cirno had no intention of stopping until she'd firmly proven her superiority. She could see the pain in Sango's eyes as her body ached - eventually she would just tire out and give Cirno the chance to do some real damage.

It hurt to watch. It felt like she was being punched alongside Sango, taking every blow and every punch. But she was powerless to help, and watching was all she could do.

Wasn't it?

...Isn't it?

This was her fault. It was all her fault. If Sango hadn't jumped in to save her, then none of this would have had to happen. Now she was taking the beating meant for Koishi, and what was Koishi offering her as thanks? She was sitting back and watching as Cirno pummelled her mercilessly.

By now, Sango was on her last legs, panting and wincing with every blow. Cirno, on the other hand, seemed to be growing stronger with every attack, almost growing visibly above her opponent. There was no question as to who was the superior fighter.

It only took a moment of weakness, and with a final well-placed attack Sango's legs buckled. She fell to the floor silently, too tired to even let out a cry. She was in no state to fight back, so for all intents and purposes Cirno had won.

But it was clear that wasn't going to be enough for the Fairy. She walked up to Sango's fallen body, and delivered a swift kick to the stomach. The dolphin winced.

"No-one messes with the Fairies. Got that through that thick skull of yours?!"

She kicked at Sango over and over again, letting off a nigh-maniacal laugh as she did so. There was an intense pleasure in superiority, and she was revelling in it.

That was it. That was too far.

Koishi could make out a thumping sound, and it took her a moment to realise it was coming from her own chest. Her heart was pounding, and it felt like something inside her was coming to life. There was an emotion welling up inside her, something that she thought she had discarded a long time ago. An emotion she thought was worthless, considering that she was took weak to achieve anything with it. An emotion that finally brought her back to her feet and made her consider doing something that she'd never even imagined beforehand.

Anger.

No-one saw her stand up - everyone's attention was focused on the m?l?e taking place a few steps away. She knew she was no fighter, and using the Teardrop was a definite no-go with this audience, but right now that didn't matter.

"...get away..."

The voice started as barely a whisper, and unsurprisingly Cirno was too busy to hear it. Koishi took a deep breath, feeling her whole body tremble in fear. She was scared. She was terrified. If she did this, Cirno would have a reason to pound her senseless. It'd hurt. It'd be agonising.

But she didn't care. She had caused this mess, so it was her job to end it. Sango didn't deserve to be taking this beating. It was wrong, and she had to do something about it. Her logical mind was shutting down at the sight of this - Sango was suffering, and it was her fault. She had to do something. Anything. Whatever the cost.

She moved with a ferocity that surprised even her.

"GET AWAY FROM HER!"

Koishi grabbed Cirno around the neck and pulled her backwards, managing to pull the Fairy a few steps away through the element of surprise alone. There was a collective gasp from the crowd, while Sango was too busy trying to catch her breath to convey her shock.

Koishi's effort quickly earned her an elbow to the face.

"Kyah!"

She fell back onto the floor, feeling as if a hammer had just struck her in the forehead. Cirno turned around to face her, and Koishi immediately felt a chill down her spine - the sneer she'd received before had morphed into a look of outright disgust.

"You little bitch...!"

Cirno raised a hand, fist clenched. There was no sign of mercy in her eyes - if she had to break a few bones, she would. Koishi could only hold up her arms to try and protect her face.

A whistle blew through the corridor before the first blow could be struck.

"Alright, people! Break it up, break it up! Move on, everyone, nothing to see here!"

Almost instantly the crowd dispersed, running off to whatever class they were supposed to be attending. Cirno looked up in the direction of the voice, and sneered.

"Shit...you lucked out, Komeiji! Don't think I'll forget this!"

She ran off, quickly disappearing into the sea of students. Only Sango and Koishi remained, both lying on the floor and wincing from their respective injuries.

"...Dammit, I never make it on time. You two, are you okay?"

Professor Kawashiro came up to the pair, still holding a whistle in one hand. Given that the school council was notoriously bad at maintaining order, it came down to the teachers to break up fights and arguments. Most of them didn't see it as a job worth pursuing, and she was the only one to take the duty seriously. Ironically, it was another reason she preferred teaching physics - no-one ever got into a fight near the math department.

Koishi felt like her brain was melting as she rubbed at her forehead. At least it wouldn't bruise, but it would sure sting. The professor offered her a hand up, which she gratefully accepted.

"I...I think so. Thank you, Kawashiro-sensei."

Koishi came to her feet, and was surprised to find that Sango was already next to her, holding out the glasses that had fallen aside earlier.

"You dropped these, phwee."

Koishi took a moment to look at her as she accepted the glasses. There was no sign of injury, or pain, or anything - she looked as if the entire beatdown from earlier had never happened. She asked herself the question, not wanting to have the teacher overhear whatever sort of explanation Sango had for this.

H-How did you?

Sango smirked.

"I'm a youkai. We're pretty good at putting ourselves back together, assuming we get the chance."

Professor Kawashiro gave Sango a quick look-over, running a hand down the back of her jacket and checking if there were any bruises underneath. Given that there were no yelps of pain, she concluded that Sango was more or less unharmed. Koishi, meanwhile, had taken a nasty blow to the head, and she didn't have magical healing powers to rely on.

"I'm guessing it was Cirno and her gang that did this? Not that we can prove it. We'll catch them on something eventually, I swear...ah, Komeiji-san, I think you'd better head to the nurse's office with an injury like that. She'll get you some ice or something. Tororetsu-san, you'd better go too, just in case anyone jumps you on the way."

Sango nodded, wrapping an arm around Koishi's shoulder with a sudden devotion.

"You've got it, Professor. I'm not gonna get jumped again, that's for sure. Now come on, Koishi-san, let's get you seen to..."

She pulled Koishi along down the corridor for a few seconds as her friend kept grasping at her head, still wincing a little, before the professor called out to her.

"Tororetsu-san? The nurse's office is the other way."

"I knew that."

-----

"Haah...that's better."

Koishi felt a wave of relief wash over her as she held the ice pack against her forehead. She was seated in the nurse's office, having needed to give Sango directions the instant they left the corridor. After a few wrong turns and mishaps, they managed to hand Koishi in to have her injuries seen to.

The school nurse was a strange character. Efficient at her job, yes, but she didn't seem truly meant to be a nurse. It was a fact that Koishi was reminded of shortly afterwards.

"You seem to be troubled, Komeiji-san. Can I assume that you're feeling guilty about not being able to do more in that little scuffle?"

Koishi jittered a little in her chair. Right on the mark, yet again.

"Y-Yes...how do you do that, Nagae-sensei?"

"Woman's intuition. And please, call me Iku."

The nurse's office was littered with various memorabilia from the 1970s - miniature disco balls, CDs of Western singers that Koishi had never heard of, and an old, forgotten radio that still occasionally played a tape from the olden days in the background. Despite this apparent nostalgia, Nurse Nagae seemed to be particularly normal - civil, and willing to do what she could to offer support to the injured. She was so talented with reading the attitudes of others, though, that most of the school agreed she would be better employed as a negotiator, or even a therapist.

"I took a look at your school record to check if there were any past illnesses to worry about. It was some rather heavy reading - you've been going through a very rough couple of months, haven't you?"

Koishi slowly nodded. She'd kept afloat enough to keep the school from forcing disciplinary action on her, but as a result her grades had drastically fallen.

A small smile formed on the nurse's face as she placed a hand on Koishi's shoulder.

"Komeiji-san. I just want you to know that if anything is troubling you, you can come to me and speak in private. I'd offer you a chance to talk now, but..."

She glared out the window, towards the silhouette of Sango standing outside the door. She was keeping vigil, watching the nurse's office almost like a guard.

"She's, um...new here. She needs me around to stop her from getting lost."

The nurse glared at the figure on the other side of the door for a moment, sighing.

"Well, you can do it another time. Just the two of us, and I swear I won't tell a soul anything you have to say. Think about it."

Koishi nodded, slowly taking the ice pack away from her forehead. Honestly, she probably wouldn't follow up on the offer - not now that most of her problems would simply be taken as a sign of insanity. She could imagine the conversation now - "Well, there was a strange incident a few days ago where a pair of fishmen tried to kill me, and I was saved by a magical talking dolphin who turned me into some sort of superhero and - hey, who are these men in the white coats?"

"Thank you, Nag- I mean, Iku-sensei. I'll give it some thought."

The nurse offered her another small smile as Koishi left the office. She watched the student leave alongside her friend, not taking a step apart from each other.

She sighed. They made her job so difficult sometimes.

-----

The period was just about ending, so Koishi and Sango decided to take the trip to History early rather than stick their heads into Geography for all of 5 minutes. Besides, after today's incident it was probably a bad idea to hang around the corridors any longer than they absolutely had to - another run-in with Cirno was inevitably bad news.

The first half of the trip across the school's empty corridors was in relative silence. It was clear both of them had something they wanted to say, but neither of them could quite spit it out. An awkward atmosphere formed between the two of them, growing heavier and heavier by the second until at last neither of them could stand it.

"Sorry I had to get you to save me."

"Sorry I didn't help out sooner."

They both spoke at once, cutting each other off. They looked away for a moment, but Sango was the first to recover.

"I could have taken her, honest! Just didn't think she'd play so dirty...and Koishi-san, I'm supposed to look after you. That's why I'm here."

"I know, but...you looked like you were in so much pain down there."

She'd seen Sango wince as Cirno had beaten her down. Guardian or no, it made no sense for Koishi to just stand idly by and watch Sango suffer.

"And besides that..."

Koishi rested her head on Sango's shoulder, prompting a sudden blush from the dolphin.

"You're not just a guardian, Sango-san. You're my friend."

Sango squirmed a little as she realised how this position could be interpreted. Her hand over there...Koishi's head down there...if someone were to walk by, then they might think-

"P-Phwee! Um, Koishi-san, I'm touched by the sentiment, yes, it's nice to hear you trust me so much, but we might be moving a little too quickly with this, don't you think?! I mean, there's a point where this goes further than business is meant to go, and...phwee, phwee, phweeee...!"

Sango suddenly pulled away, stepping away from Koishi a little. Koishi tilted her head slightly, not sure what exactly Sango was so concerned about. Her telepathy only let her hear thoughts the target willingly wanted to project, so for now it would remain a mystery.

The remainder of the trip was once again made in silence, though silence of a very different flavour than before.

-----

Koishi had been quick to teach Sango the two main rules of history class. The teacher had never uttered them, but every student knew them and took them very much to heart.

The first rule: You must hand in all your homework on time. Failure to do so earned you some 'private' time with Professor Kamishirasawa after class; no-one had been brave enough to say exactly what went on during that detention, but students walked out on a regular basis with bruised foreheads and concussions.

The second rule was just the first one again, repeated for emphasis.

Sango dodged a bullet this time around, given that she hadn't been around for the last few classes due to 'moving from the other side of the country to Gensouto'. Explaining why she had missed every other history class on the curriculum was a challenge they would have to deal with later.

"Hm?"

Koishi stared blankly at the seat to her left. If she remembered correctly, this was where Mokou would be sitting. Sango had taken the chair desk on her right, and was leaning over to examine the spot as well.

"Maybe I'm seeing things, but is your health nut friend invisible?"

No...she's not there.

Professor Kamishirasawa was in the middle of calling attendance. Every few names she would stop and readjust her hat - an ornate, pagoda-like structure that had to be breaking some protocol of school safety.

"OK, then. Fujiwara?"

A moment of silence. Her eyes fell on the unoccupied chair.

"Thought not."

The teacher looked unsurprised as she got back to marking down the absences. Koishi was startled at first, and soon shifted to concern. She looked forward, to a pair of sisters whispering to each other. One of them was drawing leaves on the blank pages of her book, and her sister occasionally snuck a grape from beneath her table to eat as a snack. What were their names again...? Ah, it had been too long since the start of the year, she'd forgotten. Aki...something.

"Uh, excuse me. Do either of you know what happened to Fujiwara-san?"

She pointed to the empty seat for emphasis. The two sisters stared at each other, then back to Koishi, both wearing faces of utter awe.

"You...you mean you don't know about her?"

That did nothing to comfort Koishi, and she nervously shook her head. The closer sister pulled her head closer, whispering.

"Check out the back exit at the end of class. You'll understand."

It was an answer, but not the sort that Koishi had been wanting to hear. Still, nothing she could do now other than wait out the class and take a look when school was over.

For now, she had her work cut out for her passing Sango some answers when Professor Kamishirasawa turned her attention to her. Even if she was a youkai, she had a feeling that a little 'private' time with the teacher would scar her for life. Mentally, if not physically.

-----

Her heart had stopped for a moment when Sango had been called out to name the three sacred treasures of legend, and her mind had drawn an absolute blank. Fortunately the dolphin seemed to already know the answer to that one, and Koishi sighed in the knowledge that maybe Sango wasn't quite as uneducated as she looked.

The bell rang, signalling the end of class and the end of the school day. Professor Kamishirasawa pulled a few unlucky students aside for alone time. Koishi saw the look of horror on their faces, and murmured a silent prayer.

It was a careful trip to the back exit of the school, mainly consisting of scouring their surroundings to see if Cirno was coming back for another round. The Black Claw may have been dangerous, but in terms of a history of violence Cirno and her gang were far more of a threat now.

Koishi had been uncertain if this was such a good idea now - this was where all the other delinquents hung out. None of them had a history of violence like the Fairies did, but likewise none of them were fantastic people. There was a horrible feeling in the bottom of her stomach, but Mokou had been a friend once. It was only fair that she try and make up for lost time, even if things were as awkward as this.

Sango was the first to poke her head out the back doorway, scouting for any sign of Cirno before letting Koishi past. There was no sign of her, or indeed any of her cohorts, but one or two stragglers were lurking beneath the pillars in the nearby garden. One of them immediately caught Koishi's eye - a young, tall-looking girl with black hair running down to her waist, wearing a pair of cumbersome looking suspenders along with a simple white shirt. There was a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, almost as an afterthought - she seemed to be chewing on it more than she was smoking it.

"Is that her, phwee?"

Koishi continued to stare, uncertain. She wanted to say yes, this was indeed Mokou Fujiwara, supposed owner of the Perfect Diet club, but everything about her was so different from what she remembered. The cheery smile and bright eyes had vanished, replaced by a permanent leer and a growling face. Even her stance as she leaned against the pillar screamed aggression - she looked ready to kick off the wall and deliver a roundhouse to the face of anyone who came close.

"Umm...yeah. I think that's-"

Koishi was interrupted as a hand grabbed desperately at her shoulder. Looking to her side, she saw Sango's ears coming to the end of their wiggling. She stared at Mokou with an emotion somewhere between respect and concern.

"We've found one."

-----

OMAKE

"I say, that fight against the thug was rather ungentlemanly, phwee."

"S-Sango-san? What happened to you?"

"Oh, I thought it would be quaint to read up on some etiquette. Manners cost nothing, after all, phwee."

"Um, I hate to break it to you, Sango, but no-one talks like that around here."

"Nonsense! Let us have a civil, calm discussion with this young lady over here. Excuse me! Lady Fujiwa-"

"What the hell do you two want?!"

"Ah! Run away!"

"I say, she does seem rather uncivil."

Next Episode: The Second Siren! The Furious Flames of Mokou-tan!

"Perhaps we should discuss the matter over some tea instead, phwee..."

Chaore

  • Kai Ni Recipient Many Years Late
  • *
  • You Finally Did It, Kadokawa.
Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #39 on: September 06, 2010, 12:01:36 AM »
Mokou is taking you punks down RAAAA? :V

Also, Sango Vs. Cirno was... well, the link fits it well, for all the buildup.

Sana

  • Good gravy!
Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #40 on: September 06, 2010, 12:15:15 AM »
I totally support Dudley!Sango :V

Kinzo the Astro Curious

  • One small step for Desu; One giant leap for touhou-kind!
Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #41 on: September 09, 2010, 10:00:18 AM »
This must continue. Can't think of much else to say on the matter. Just continue.  :V

FinnKaenbyou

  • Formerly Roukanken
  • *
  • blub blub nya
Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #42 on: September 09, 2010, 04:42:51 PM »
This must continue. Can't think of much else to say on the matter. Just continue.  :V
Well, if you put it that way~

-----

Koishi blinked.

"Wait, you mean..."

"Yeah. Apparently you have good taste in friends, because I can sense the Teardrop inside her. She's a Siren, alright."

Mokou was staring at the floor, looking antisocial as her hands hung in her pockets, almost forgotten. She'd yet to notice Koishi and Sango stalking her out.

"Well, what are you waiting for, Koishi-san? Go talk to her."

"Me?! But look at her! She probably knows a dozen ways to kill me with that cigarette alone!"

"Hey, you're her friend. She's got no idea who the hell I am, so your odds are better than mine."

That, at least, Koishi couldn't argue with. She let out a little groan as she stood up straight, trying to figure out how best to introduce herself. Did she throw out a simple greeting? Did she pretend to have forgotten her?

Maybe a joke would be the best way across, now that she thought about it. Something witty, something to make her laugh. Win the audience over, or something. She racked her brain for something to offer to the conversation.

"You know, uh...I'm not the health expert here, but I always thought smoking was bad for you."

Smooth. Reeeeeeeal smooth.

Mokou looked up at that, and proceeded to give Koishi a nigh-fatal glare. There almost seemed to be something burning beneath her eyes - a tiny flame, flickering brightly now and again. The cigarette slipped out of her mouth, unused, and she promptly crushed it beneath her heel.

"I figure if I buy myself a packet, it's a packet that someone else isn't gonna use to poison themselves. Besides, people have expectations 'round here, believe it or not - if you aren't smoking, everyone thinks you're some kinda kid."

She kicked away from the pillar lightly, strolling up to Koishi with the same menacing aura. She examined her, seeing that her face was a tint above deathly pale now, and she was squirming just at her presence.

"You really are feeling crap, from the looks of things. Don't tell me you got involved in some sort of drug crap, Komeiji-san?"

This was turning out very, very badly. The last thing she wanted was for Mokou to think she was a junkie - that'd lose her everything resembling respect from the health nut. She started flailing, half through desperation and half through fear.

"N-No way! You told me enough horror stories about those things to keep me clean for a dozen lifetimes-"

Her panicking cut off.

"Wait. ...You actually remember me?"

Mokou put a hand on Koishi's shoulder. The difference in physical health was blatantly obvious between them - Mokou was a head taller, and her muscles were refined and strong compared to Koishi's.

"You were treating your body like shit, Komeiji-san. Of course I was gonna worry about you."

A tiny smile worked its way onto her face.

"But you look better now. Maybe not in great shape, but you're trying again. That's good."

She wrapped her arms around Koishi in a firm embrace, leaving Koishi surprised for a moment. She was touched to find that Mokou still remembered her after so long apart, and allowed herself to enjoy the embrace.

Meanwhile, watching from the distance, Sango felt her face turning red.

!? That girl...

The way they were holding each other - hadn't that been how Koishi had been holding her?! That same affection, that same care...

"...Phweeeeee...!"

A sound forced its way out of her mouth as her arms clenched into fists. In front of her, Koishi and Mokou continued their friendly embrace.

She was having none of it.

"HEY, YOU! DON'T GET ANY BRIGHT IDEAS ABOUT STEALING KOISHI-SAN, PHWEE!"

The hug, predictably, collapsed almost immediately when Mokou realised that she was being watched. She leapt away from Koishi, instantly looking in Sango's direction as the dolphin gave her an envious stare. The small grin had vanished again, and the serious, straight face had returned.

"Komeiji-san, who the hell is this?"

Were there words for how quickly this plan was coming apart? If there were, Koishi clearly didn't know them. She tried to salvage the situation by explaining matters before Sango could shoot her mouth off.

"Uh, sorry, you two haven't been introduced, have you? This is Sango-san, she's my-"

Too late.

"I'm Sango! Sango Tororetsu, phwee! And it's my job to look after Koishi-san, got it?! Don't think you can get close to her without my say so, phwee!"

She was going red in the face, and in spite of her opponent's threat (or even the fact that she'd been pummelled all of an hour ago) she looked ready to snap at any moment. Mokou looked blankly at Sango for a moment, and proceeded to place a hand on her head and ruffle her hair. Sango flinched, and immediately tried to pull herself away from Mokou's grip, but the health nut was every bit as strong as she looked.

"Heh. You've got a pretty cute girlfriend, Komeiji-san. I guess she's what made you change yourself?"

"Well, you could say tha-WAIT, SHE'S DEFINITELY NOT MY GIRLFRIEND!*"

-----

It took a little convincing, but eventually Koishi weaved a story that Sango was a guardian who had been sent to look after her when she had no-one to live with. There was much relief from Koishi when Mokou bought it, but Sango still gave her the occasional jealous glare.

So how do we do this? Do we just tell her the whole story?

Sango shook her head at that one.

"You realise just how crazy the truth is gonna look to her, right? You can't explain it and honestly think she'll believe it until she experiences it for herself."

So...we need to have her discover her Teardrop first? Get her to make some sort of heartfelt wish and explain it from there?


This time, Sango nodded.

"Yeah. Just try and win her favour for now, and then we can-"

"Hey, what are you two doing staring at each other?"

Koishi and Sango both flinched as Mokou brought them out of their unspoken conversation. Only now did Koishi realise just how awkward this must have looked to other people.

"Ah, sorry. I was just spacing out."

"Bad at focusing, huh? I can tell you where to get hold of some herbal tea for that - pretty cheap, too."

Mokou had a soothing way of talking when it came to health issues, so it was a shame that almost everything else she said sounded like she was holding her to gunpoint. She had two levels of emotion - caring teacher and irritated stranger, and it was very hard to bring around the former.

She asked Koishi how the last few months had been, having a very vague knowledge of Satori's disappearance. Koishi had no real response to give - every day had been just about the same as the one before it, nothing exemplary or interesting. She had simply been existing - she was only alive in the most literal sense. Mokou had frowned at that, but she was glad to see that things had apparently improved.

Now was Koishi's chance to try and start on some progress. She turned the question back on Mokou.

"So, what about you? I was wanting to try getting back into some clubs, so I figured the Perfect Diet club would be a good place to sta-"

"Disbanded."

A beat.

"...Huh?"

"I disbanded the club. I'm the President. I can do that."

Mokou's words were blunt and simple. The frown on her face grew slightly, as she glared at at nothing in particular. Maybe she could use some of that herbal tea she'd been trying to convince Koishi about.

"...OK. So, what've you been u-"

"Nothing."

"...Have you been hanging out wi-"

"No-one."

In her head, Koishi saw herself squeezing a stone in the hope that blood would seep out. She sighed, and decided that it was probably best to just start slow. Besides, it was good to talk to a old friend again. It reminded her of better times.

"Never mind, then. We can just go out for something to eat, okay? No worries, Sango-san will pay for everything."

"Yeah, we can just...phwee? I'm paying?!"

"You're the one with the bulging wallet, remember? You can't expect us students to pay up."

Koishi gave Sango a playful poke in the rib. The dolphin let out a little moan, as she mentally said farewell to the tins of mackerel she could have bought for herself with that money. Mokou allowed herself a little chuckle as the trio walked around the school to the main entrance.

"Well, who am I to turn down a free meal? I just hope this place you're gonna take me to has a healthy eating option."

"Do gratuitous helpings of omega-3 count as healthy eating? 'Cause if so, you're gonna have a great..."

Sango's sentence trailed off unfinished as they reached the school's entrance. By now, almost all the other students had finished their business here and headed home.

Everyone, that is, except Cirno and her gang, currently standing between them and the exit.

"Hey, Komeiji! Told you I was gonna get you back for that little stunt you pulled, didn't I? And I'm a good woman - I keep to my word."

Koishi bit her lip. Unconsciously, she squeezed Sango's hand until it hurt.

The various thugs and delinquents she'd pulled together looked like they were walking fashion statements. Their poses were slumped, their faces grim - and most importantly, they didn't look like they could hold themselves in a fight. With enough of a distraction, Koishi could probably run past them and dash away.

But they weren't the problem. The problem was their leader, who she knew full well could take out both her and Sango without much hassle. The head Fairy glanced at their new friend, who seemed to have no idea what was going on.

"Hey, you brought out the self-proclaimed health guru! What happened to you, anyway? You were always bragging about how great your diets were and how you'd revolutionise medicine or something. You finally realise you were talking shit?"

Mokou rubbed incessantly at her temples as Cirno spoke, trying to find a switch on the side of her head to turn her ears off. There were murmurs of agreement among her minions, offering nothing more inventive than 'Yeah!' or 'What she said!'

"...Kid, I hardly recognise you any more."

Cirno flinched, along with Sango and Koishi turning to Mokou in surprise.

"F-Fujiwara-san?! You know her?"

Mokou paused before answering, her face looking pained.

"Just leave this to me."

Mokou took a step away from Koishi and Sango, approaching Cirno with her hands back in her pockets. She let out a heaving sigh, like a mother trying to conceal disappointment with her problem child.

"Cut the crap, kid. Let us through."

Cirno grinned, chuckling to herself at a joke no-one else seemed to understand. The Fairies got the hint, and started to laugh alongside her.

"Sorry, can't do that. Times have changed, see. Nowadays, it's me giving the orders around here, got it?"

Cirno walked towards the advancing Mokou, until the two were standing well away from the crowds. At the same time, Koishi was conflicted over finding a way to help and frustrated that she probably had nothing to offer in that regard.

"Sango-san...she's going to get hurt, isn't she?"

Of all the things she expected to see as she turned to her side, Koishi wasn't expecting Sango to be smiling?

"Eh? What's so funny?"

Sango pulled a hand over, and did Koishi a favour by removing her glasses for her. Seeing what was going on explain her confidence far better than words ever would.

"Huh? That's..."

Cirno had the same form she fought in before, standing menacingly with her frozen wings floating behind her back. They fluttered occasionally, sending a light chill across the school grounds. The ruffians behind her were literal fairies as well, but each of them looked almost identical to the fairies at their sides. There was no differentiation, no unique patterns, nothing. They weren't worth paying attention to.

Koishi was looking elsewhere, anyway. Mokou wasn't even aware of it, but there were tiny flames trailing at her feet, sending her clothes billowing around as the smoke rose from them. Her suspenders were laced with what looked like ornate sealing charms, and her hair had sifted to a light tint of violet.

But most importantly, a pair of beautiful golden wings had sprung up on her back, an occasional flame running along their length. They looked like they were meant to spread as far as her arms were long, but they were clipped messily two-thirds of the way along. It was clear that they would be no good for flight, and she was a far cry from full power, but the sight of it was still enough to amaze Koishi.

"Fire beats ice, Koishi-san*. We've got nothing to worry about."

Mokou maintained her idle stance, refusing to take a pose even as Cirno raised her fists. If anything, she looked bored by the prospect of fighting her. Cirno maintained the same, smug smile that had lead her through every fight up until now, not budging an inch.

"Oh, please. You're not gonna just sit there and take it, are you? Defend yourself, already?"

"Don't need to.*"

Cirno's grin disappeared. She was being mocked, and in front of her gang, no less. Anything resembling mercy ceased to be an option, and she decided that her new objective was to pummel Mokou to the point where she had more blood on her clothes than in her body.

"Kh. I'll show you what happens when you screw with the Fairies...!"

Cirno charged forward, still maintaining the stance she'd used fighting Sango. There was no way Mokou was going to land a hit on her face, and even hitting her torso was going to be a challenge.

Of course, Mokou was aware of this. That was the point of the stance, and it worked wonders when standing still. Charging with it, though, meant it was all too easy for your opponent to simply step to the side, catch the front leg with their foot, and send your charge in a new and painful direction.

"Uwah!"

Cirno tripped over Mokou's outstretched foot, quickly rolling to the side as she hit the floor. Mokou made no attempt to capitalise on the opening, giving her every chance to recover and simply waiting for her to attack.

"T-That's no fair! You never taught me that one!"

"That's because I trained you to take care of yourself, kid. Whatever happened to the girl who wanted to learn to protect herself from the seniors who were picking on her?"

That hit a nerve with Cirno, and her face grew red with anger. There were murmurings of confusion in the crowd.

"I-I don't have a clue what you're talking about! I'm the strongest fighter here, and I'm gonna prove it!"

Cirno came forward again, more carefully this time as she took swings at Mokou's face. The firebird weaved past the first fist, and pulled one hand out of her pocket to catch the second in mid-air. She pressed down on it, not with enough force to do damage but with enough to hold it in place. Cirno paused, looking at the trapped hand in shock.

"Done yet?"

Mokou remained startlingly calm, with her other hand still in her pocket as if nothing was happening. Cirno's eyes began to water.

"Y-You...!"

She used her front foot as leverage, kicking forward with the back foot aimed right at Mokou's chest. An attack that strong would easily break a few bones if it connected, and with her grip on Cirno's hand Mokou had stopped herself from stepping away.

So instead, she used her other hand to knock away the oncoming attack at the ankle, sending Cirno's leg off over her left shoulder. Koishi saw it stop inches from her fiery wing, and for a split second the two seemed to be frozen in the moment, like time had waited to take a picture of the scene for remembrance.

The rest passed in slow-motion. Mokou's foot swept around again, catching the leg Cirno still had on the floor. The Fairy's centre of balance came apart entirely, and her hands waved around helplessly as she fell towards the floor. Mokou's hand let go of her, and instead swooped down to grab her by the neck and help to hasten her fall.

Cirno hit the ground with a painful thump, a hand around her throat and a second fist ready to beat her senseless if she so much as tried anything. It had only lasted a minute, but already the fight was over.

"I trusted you, kid. You let me down."

Mokou whispered a few words to her, unheard by the surrounding crowds. She pulled her hands away, standing up and returning to the bored, idle stance she had taken before. Cirno offered no resistance, staring blankly into the sky as Mokou walked back towards Koishi and Sango.

The expressions on their faces could only be described as looks of amazement.

"F-Fujiwara-san, that was incredible!"

Mokou offered a shrug as she let a smile rise on her face again.

"Eh, what can I say? A little fight now and again helps keep me in shape. I know a thing or two. You want some pointers, Komeiji-san?"

"Um, sure, but..."

Koishi looked behind Mokou, towards the still fallen body of Cirno. Physically she was fine, but mentally it looked like she was on the verge of crying. The Fairies who had been gathered around the entrance started to disperse - their leader had shamed herself in a fight. There was no point in respecting her if she wasn't really the strongest.

"Is she going to be okay?"

Mokou turned around and winced slightly at the sight of Cirno still sprawled along the ground. She gave off another painful sigh.

"Just leave her for now. She's got a lot to think over. She'll be fine."

She started making her way to the entrance, stepping over Cirno as she left. Sango and Koishi followed afterwards, nervously stepping around the fallen fairy and breathing easier once they made it out of the gates.

"So, I think I earned myself this free meal, don't you?"

"Well, you did save the two of us from another fight with Cirno. Didn't she, Sango-san."

"P-Phwee...my mackerel dinners..."

-----

She lost.

Cirno didn't want to look back down, for fear there wasn't a ground beneath her. It felt like she was still falling, her entire life collapsing down to the lowest of lows. There were tears slipping down her face now, and it felt like she was about to explode.

I trusted you, kid. You let me down.

She had never been popular in school. She did poorly in tests, even when she tried, so inevitably her classmates would gang up and call her an idiot. When they grew tired of just laughing at her, they went a step further and started playing pranks - swapping out her exam papers, tripping her up in the corridor, even 'requesting' her lunch money.

Mokou had found her sobbing outside the back entrance, and taught her about fighting on the streets. About how to look after herself, to give the bullies who picked on her a taste of her own medicine. It was information she used to full effect, handing out payback to anyone who tried to take advantage of her. No-one called her an idiot after that.

When the bullies who had picked on her were dealt with, Cirno found herself with a dilemma. The emotion she'd felt as she finally proved that she wasn't the loser everyone thought she was - she loved it, adored it, craved it. She started by coming up with nonsensical ways to be offended by the people around her, looking for an excuse to pummel them senseless. It grew more and more absurd by the day, until eventually it was clear she was simply fighting for the sake of fighting. Mokou had taught her well, though - with the skills she had picked up, along with her own training and effort, Cirno ended up effectively ruling the school. She made her own gang, the Fairies, and whatever she ordered was law.

Not anymore. In a single fight, she had been ritually humiliated and disgraced. Her so-called friends had lost interest in her, and her reputation had been torn apart. Now she was alone, more than she'd even been, staring upwards as the sun set in the distance.

There were two sides fighting inside her right now. One half wanted to track down Mokou and kill her where she stood for ruining her. It cried for vengeance, for payback, for blood. The other half whispered words of forgiveness, saying that Mokou had simply intended to correct her path and seeked her best interests. This was her time to start afresh and make something of herself - now she had simply become that which she hated the most*.

The two halves fought with one another in equal measure. At this rate, it could take days for one side to win out, and even then it could easily be either.

So the figure standing over her offered words of guidance.

"You seek to destroy her?"

Cirno nodded, then shook her head, then nodded again. She was still uncertain, and there was a lingering doubt that she didn't have the nerve to put into words. The figure filled the blank for her.

"I see. So you seek power?"

This time, Cirno nodded. If she was strong enough, she could beat Mokou and show everyone who was the boss all over again. But Mokou was too powerful, and even Cirno would admit she was out of her league after a showing like that.

The figure smirked. It was a crooked smile, one that brought a chill down Cirno's spine.

"Very well. This will only hurt for a moment."

The figure picked Cirno up from the floor, lifting her back onto her feet. Her voice was familiar, but she had covered her face so that only her lips were visible.

That was all she needed to kiss Cirno.

"Mmh?!"

Something seeped inside of Cirno's mouth along with the woman's tongue, slithering down her throat like a snake. She felt it squirm back upwards again, reaching her brain and setting it alight. A million images burst into her vision in a second - absurd, magical images that couldn't possibly exist, she knew that, but they all looked so real.

Within her mind, the barrier that had kept Cirno in denial came apart. Whatever had slipped into her head had passed on all its knowledge as well. In an instant, she knew. She understood. She accepted.

And as the figure handed her a single golden key, she rejoiced.

Mokou Fujiwara...just you wait. By the time you realise what I've done to you, you'll be getting thawed out by some archaeologist millions of years from now. And you know why?

'Cause I'm the strongest.

Myschi

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #43 on: September 09, 2010, 05:01:02 PM »
Not really my style to say something like this, but...

ilu Rou~♥

>.> <.<

This. You have single-handedly convinced me to frequent this part of the board more often.

Iced Fairy

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #44 on: September 09, 2010, 05:03:40 PM »
 :ohdear:
Cirno no!

So the forces of Evil reveal themselves.  And by reveal I mean hint vaguely at their existence.  I sense Mokou's awakening soon....

Kinzo the Astro Curious

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #45 on: September 10, 2010, 01:00:56 AM »
'Cause I'm the strongest.

Needed to be a hyperlink a generic badass cirno DANBOORU WARNING pic... like this one.

Awesome stuff.
Kinda nice to get a reply and update within the same day  :V

Alfred F. Jones

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #46 on: September 10, 2010, 01:18:22 AM »
Oh man, I have so many ideas now as to what's going on in the background.

Koishi has no idea what she's in for. :3

Myschi

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #47 on: September 12, 2010, 09:07:32 AM »
Also SOCIAL LINKS SOCIAL LINKS SOCIAL LINKS

Glad I'm not the only one to have thought of it that way...

Only read to... well... this post, so far, but keep up the good work! (You have no idea how hard it was for me to not to pop a phwee~ into that sentence...)

Drake

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #48 on: September 12, 2010, 06:49:06 PM »
SAILOR MARS

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Myschi

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #49 on: September 12, 2010, 08:32:20 PM »
Poor Cirno... I was really hopin' she'd, ya know, not be all evil and bitter and evil and evil.

Keep up the good work, though!

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #50 on: September 14, 2010, 11:55:50 AM »
Koishi had been smart enough to plan ahead and find out the fastest path to Lorelei's beforehand. The last thing she would need to help discuss matters with Mokou was a dislocated arm thanks to Sango hauling her all the way across town again. She talked about trivial matters, and Mokou responded cheerfully enough, but every time she tried to delve into something personal the health nut would either dodge the question or answer jokingly.

Is it too soon?

She was in two minds about it. If she pressed too hard, she might end up upsetting Mokou and scaring her away, and then they'd be totally out of luck; but if she didn't try hard enough, she obviously wouldn't be able to watch Mokou 24/7, and the Black Claw would take care of her before Koishi had a chance to intervene.

For now, she'd keep quiet. Maybe she'd try again after dinner or something. For now, she would just let Sango go on about all the various delicacies Mokou's 'perfect diet' was making her miss out on.

"I mean, have you ever even seen a puffer fish? Yeah, if you don't prepare it absolutely perfectly it kills you, but it only follows that the biggest risk gets you the best reward, right?"

"Uh...you realise they've figured out a way around that, right? Nowadays farmers just raise puffer fish without the whole deadly poison shtick."

"Really?! ...Well, I bet it doesn't taste as good."

Sango was understandably behind on human food-preparation, and Mokou was quick to point out her mistakes. Fortunately for Koishi, Mokou didn't wonder how her new conversation partner could be so knowledgable about the creatures of the ocean and yet so unaware of modern cuisine.

"Heh, you sound like you've had a bite out of every fish in the seven seas, Tororetsu-san. Hell, I bet you've even tried dolphin."

"Phwee?"

Sango didn't understand the question, tilting her head as she looked back at Mokou. The health nut blinked, a puzzled look rising to her face as well as she reiterated.

"Y'know, dolphins. Fish that aren't really fish? Everyone's going on about how the hunting's inhumane and all that crap? Personally, I've never touched the stuff, but...hey, are you alright? You're looking a little pale."

Koishi quickly noticed that Sango's knees were shaking. Her head was bowed down, and Koishi could sense she was on the verge of having steam pour out of her ears. She snapped her head back upwards, glaring at Mokou with a look of righteous indignation.

"I-I'd never eat a cute and innocent dolphin! The people who do that are...meanies! Mean meanie-faced meanies! Phweeeee!"

Mokou was taken aback by Sango's sudden outburst, not quite sure how someone how loved fish dishes so much could be so against eating dolphin. She wisely decided not to press the point any further, and simply watched as Sango proceeded to fall onto Koishi's shoulder.

"Koishi-saaaan...I don't wanna be eaten..."

Koishi offered her a pat on the head as they made their way into the city proper. This whole mission had clearly been something of a culture shock on her part, and it took a few minutes worth of calming words to bring her back to a sensible state.

The path Koishi had planned out ran through the main street of Gensouto. There were several branches off into smaller streets, but in general all the biggest stores could be found on this one straight path from one side of the city to the other. It would be a while yet before they had to turn off for Lorelei's, so for now the three were immersed in the usual city crowds.

Sango took advantage of her earlier state and held hands with Koishi. From Mokou's point of view, she was still slightly upset and needed company; from Koishi's, it was to stop any wannabe Claw member from abducting her. It was maybe a little clingy, but Koishi appreciated the sentiment.

Mokou's eyes started to dart around the street, looking at the various turnoffs and avenues. She bit her lip.

"Uh, hey, we're getting off the main street soon, right?"

She sounded concerned, almost worried. Koishi had already figured out the route, so she shook  her head in response.

"The fastest route goes pretty much all the way along. If we went through the avenues, it'd take a lot longer."

"Then let's go through the avenues."

"Huh? Why?"

"Exercise. Scenic route. Whatever. Just get off the street right now."

It had subtly turned from a request to an order. Mokou didn't go so far as to pull Koishi away, but from the look in her eyes she was definitely considering it. All the anger did, however, was confuse its target.

"Fujiwara-san, you aren't making any sense."

"Look, it's complicated. At this rate, we're gonna walk past-"

The word caught in her throat as she looked to her side. Koishi, still waiting for an explanation, looked in the same direction. Sango joined in wordlessly, leaving all the sensitive matters to her partner.

"...What's wrong? It's just a pharmacy."

It was new, Koishi thought, no more than a couple of months, but from the glossy walls and the shelves stacked with expensive medicines it was clear the store was in no financial difficulties. The sign above it declared it to be 'Eientei - for eternal health and beauty!' without a hint of irony.

Mokou's eyes weren't turned to the sign, though. They were looking head on at one of the signs in the window, advertising one of the pharmacy's hit products. From here Koishi couldn't make out the wording beneath it, but as Mokou stormed up to the window she followed afterward, quietly pulling along Sango.

"The Hourai Elixir - our best-selling product, already nominated for a variety of awards! Try it today, and you won't be disappointed!"

Following that was a variety of supposedly helpful chemicals with names that Koishi couldn't spell, let alone pronounce. She looked over to Mokou for an explanation, but the health nut had already taken a step inside the store.

"Ah, Fujiwara-san?!"

She hadn't gone far - she was currently having a discussion with the attendant at the counter. Koishi was too far to make out words being exchanged between the two, but Mokou's face was livid while the attendant wore a forced smile as she tried to talk the customer into calming down. The last thing she wanted to do was walk in on a private discussion, so she again chose to hang back.

The first sign that she needed to step in was when Mokou let out her frustration by slamming a hand into a nearby pile of boxes. The on-sale items collapsed to the floor in a colossal spill, but it had done nothing to calm down Mokou - if anything, she looked angrier. Koishi couldn't sit around after something like that, and practically ran up to the counter while Sango hung at the entrance to, as she'd put it in her thoughts, 'guard the escape point'.

"Dammit, I'm just asking her to pay her dues! Why can't I even get a chance to talk to her?!"

By now, every customer in the shop was watching the ongoing argument. The attendant, a serious-looking girl in a jacket and tie, took a moment to adjust her skirt and regain her cool. It was a skill Mokou clearly looked like she needed to learn, and her hand clenched up into a fist again ready to slam into the employee's face.

Koishi grabbed her around the waist before she did anything she would regret, pulling her back towards the doorway.

"Ah, sorry about this! She's, um, had a lot to drink! Not that she's underage or anything...anyway, thanks for your service! I love the lighting here! I'll tell all my friends about this place. Bye!"

The attendant clearly didn't believe a word she was saying, but gave her a nod of thanks as if to say 'Thank God, you got the crazy woman away from me'. Mokou let off a few weak flails, but from the look of surprise on her face she seemed to have suddenly realised what she had been doing and went limp in Koishi's hands.

"Hehe, extraction successful! Excellent work, Koishi-san."

Koishi wasn't sure how serious Sango was being with those words. Frankly, that concerned her. She let go of Mokou, who proceeded to take long, wide steps down the street as she deliberately looked in the opposite direction of the pharmacy the whole way along. It was like just seeing the store would be enough to make her blood boil, and an explanation like that would certainly explain a lot.*

What it left, though, was the important question. Why was a simple pharmacy enough to drive Mokou Fujiwara, the girl who'd stared down an attacker without landing a blow, to violence?

Fujiwara-san...what happened to you?

She let the health nut stomp along by herself for a while before catching up to her, thinking she'd appreciate the time to cool down.

"Um...are you alright?"

Mokou startled as Koishi put a hand on her shoulder, then proceeded to brush it off.

"I'm fine. Let's...let's just go."

She took wider steps again, doing all she could to get away from the pharmacy. This discussion would have to wait until dinner, it seemed.

"Koishi-san. I don't need to tell you that we can't ignore this, do I?"

Sango's face looked grave as she watched Mokou stride along without them once again. Koishi didn't need to put her response into words.

Whatever happened to Fujiwara-san...I need to help her. Not just for her sake...but for the sake of the world.

So yeah, no pressure.


-----

"So, two servings of mackerel, and...sorry, did you say yakitori?"

"Yeah, is that a problem?"

It was the same waiter as last time when the trio finally made it to Lorelei's, though this time Koishi noticed her shirt was the tiniest shade of pink. She blushed a little at the sight of Koishi and Sango, but pulled herself together enough to do her job.

"Ah, it's nothing. Just that the owner never liked working with chicken...I think she was brought up on a farm or something."

Quickly realising that she'd said too much, the waitress coughed lightly before noting down the order. Sango sighed as she dug into her wallet, pulling out another hefty note to pay for the meal.

"Seriously, Koishi-san...two dinners in two days? You're gonna be the death of me."

"Well, it isn't every day you bump into an old friend and have her save you from a pummelling. I think the hero deserves a feast in her name, don't you, Fujiwara-san?"

Mokou didn't offer a response, her attention now devoted to the glass of water she'd been handed by the waiter. She spun her straw around in the water, her face severe and focused on something else. The elbows she had on the table won her various glares from other customers.

"Um. Fujiwara-san?"

Koishi's call was enough to snap Mokou out of her meditative state and remind her that she wasn't here by herself.

"Oh, sorry. Just, uh...find it really fun to make little whirlpools in the glass. Yeah."

It was a pathetic explanation, which meant that whatever she was trying to conceal was worth embarrassing herself over. Koishi tread carefully with her next words, knowing full well that they were critical.

"Fujiwara-san...it's no good bottling it up. I'm no expert on physical health, but I do know that keeping your problems to yourself makes your brain overheat and turn into goop."

She did her best to sound friendly, throwing a joke in at the end to win her over. Mokou looked back to her glass, this time with a definite look of conflict on her face.

"Eh. I could probably still go on without that thing. It sure as hell hasn't done me any good over the last few months, that's for sure."

The silence that followed was painful. Mokou poked at the bottom of her glass, trying to stab through it with the straw for no reason other than to distract herself from the current topic of conversation.

"Hey, it's not like we haven't all done stupid crap, right? I mean, Koishi-san will testify that I'm pretty bad at this whole academic thing-"

"It's not school, dammit! You think I'm so shallow as to worry about missing a few months of education?! I could've been made for life, if I hadn't-"

Mokou put her hands on the table with a loud thump, silencing Sango's attempt to enter the conversation. What had started as an attempt to avoid frightening Mokou away had become an attempt to stop Mokou from punching someone in the face.

It took a second for Mokou to come back to her senses, looking down on herself like she'd just regained awareness.

"...Shit. I'm doing it again, aren't I?"

She grabbed the glass, and downed its contents in a single gulp in an attempt to cool herself down. Her brain was clearly still working overtime, though, and she held her head in her hands as she did what she could to relax. They were pressing at something she didn't want to talk about, but they were doing it so incessantly that she was either going to talk or she was going to end up doing something she'd regret.

She looked up at Koishi's face, and saw genuine concern in her eyes. This was the girl she'd saved from Cirno earlier - what sort of hypocrite would she be if she lost control and took a shot at her now?

Mokou panted a little, as if letting the hot air rise out of her. Finally, she sat straight and tried to keep the same straight face she always did.

"Look. If you want to know this crap so much, I'll tell you. But I'm pretty sure by the time I'm done with this story you'll be wishing you hadn't wasted money buying me that yakitori."

A hand slid over the table, placing itself over Mokou's. Now Koishi's expression contained a little more determination.

"Please, Fujiwara-san. You were worried sick about me when I was doing badly, so now it's my turn to worry about you, okay?"

Mokou allowed herself a little smirk.

"Heh. You're sorta cute when you're serious, Komeiji-san."

Koishi did her best not to react to that, but a slight pink tint rose to her cheeks regardless. This earned her another glare from Sango, but fortunately Mokou was too busy to notice the dolphin's envy.

"...OK. This might take a while to explain, but bear with me."

Mokou took a deep breath, mustering up the courage to confess something that could potentially break her. Koishi pressed down a little on her hand, silently cheering her on. At last, words began to seep out from her lips.

"...That Hourai Elixir thing? The ground-breaking product the pharmacy was going on about? That was me. I made that."

-----

You never made it to the Perfect Diet club, did you? We were hardly the most popular of the clubs, of course. We weren't a sport, or a real hobby, or anything like that. Most people saw us as a bunch of elitist freaks who just wanted to talk about how much healthier we were than everyone else.

That wasn't the point. It was never the point. It had always been our intention to share our secrets one day, to produce one of these miracle cures that pharmacies are always trying to pass off. The difference was that this one would be the real deal - it'd stop wrinkles, keep you looking young, add an extra 5-10 years to your lifespan, blah blah blah.

'Course, that was sort of a pipe dream. We had ideas, maybe, but we never had the finances to pull something like that up. Pharmaceutical companies are crazy-big business these days, and some tiny school-club is gonna have no chance in hell of getting a foot through the door without some help.

And lo and behold, that's exactly what walked through our door a few months ago.

I still remember her face to the letter. The piercing brown eyes, the gorgeous black hair that ran down past her waist, the skin untouched by blemishes or spots or anything like that. She was basically the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen, though she'd testify that it was all thanks to whatever anti-aging cream was selling well at the time.

Her name was Kaguya Houraisan, and she told me her dad ran a local pharmacy. It was a small place, but they just about got by. I shared some of our tricks with her, and she'd look out for the ingredients I mentioned when it came to new products. We made a pretty good team.

Then one day, she says she wants to go all the way. She tells me that she trusts me, more than she's ever trusted anyone in the business, and that her dad's got a chem lab at the back of the pharmacy. That miracle cure the club had always wanted to make? This was our big chance.

Of course, Kaguya swore me to secrecy, because she didn't even let her old man know what she was doing. It was all going to be a big surprise, she told me, and the two of us would bask in the riches. This would be the big finish for everything I'd worked on, al those years of testing and experimenting.

The name was Kaguya's idea. Apparently, her old man was pretty insistent about her living up to her namesake - the moon princess, the one who all the men fell in love with on sight - so even when she was a kid she had to focus on looking pretty any time she could. He expected a lot outta her, and thanked me for my help with it every two minutes. It was touching, if kinda sad.

So, after a few weeks, and god knows how much testing, we pulled it off. We concocted our Hourai Elixir, and it was everything I ever wanted it to be. It worked great, it was cheap to produce, and there were no side-effects. It was basically set to revolutionise the industry, earn us millions. And what happens?

The bitch goes and steals the idea, that's what.

I caught her talking to her old man about it when she insisted she was using the bathroom. I only caught a few hints of the conversation, phrases like 'my best work' and 'all for you, daddy' and all that shit. My name never showed up anywhere - she took my masterpiece and claimed she'd come up with the whole damn thing. I stormed out into the room then, asking her what the hell was going on.

She started screaming that I was some sort of thief and told me to get out of the store before she called the cops.

...Well, what could I have done after that? Kaguya had played it smart - she filed patents in her name alone, so I couldn't have filed a lawsuit even if I had the money. The Hourai Elixir was, of course, a massive success, winning awards and turning Eientei into the biggest pharmaceutical company in the country. I got nothing - the bitch wouldn't even let me talk to her about it. I tried God knows how many times to get a hold of her, but nothing. Not even an apology.

I shut the club down pretty soon afterward. People had caught wind of the Hourai Elixir, and how it basically knocked our ideas out of the water. I couldn't tell them I'd helped to make it, that'd just sound petty. That was probably why she had me swear to keep it secret the whole time.

After that, I sorta...stopped caring. Skipped class, lost track of people, didn't notice the kid taking her power a little too far. Everything I'd worked for, everything I'd tried to achieve, I'd done. And it was all going off to some bitch who played me for a fool. Honestly, if I could get my hands on Kaguya right now, I'd beat that pretty face of hers so damn hard that even her own dad wouldn't be able to recognise her.

And that's pretty much my story. The story of a fool who spent her life fulfilling a princess's impossible request, and ended up with nothing even after she achieved her goal.

Bet I don't look like some genius to you anymore, do I? All that crap about perfect diets, and it doesn't stop me being an idiot.

-----

Mokou's grip on her glass had tightened the further she made it into her story, until Koishi started to worry she was going to snap it in her grip. Her eyes had clamped themselves shut, but a few trickles still escaped from beneath them despite her best efforts.

"And here you guys are, wasting money on a girl who's got nothing left to offer to the world. You guys are almost as dumb as I am, you know that...?"

Koishi felt her heart coming to rest somewhere on the bottom of her stomach. It had certainly not been a pretty story, and it explained why Mokou had changed so much from what she was before. There'd been a serious tone at the end of the story - it was clear that she desperately wanted a chance to get her payback on Kaguya for what she'd done. It was almost an obsession now, one she'd likely dwell on for the rest of her life at this rate.

"Humans are capable of some pretty mean things, aren't they..."

Sango didn't put her thought into words, but Koishi heard it loud and clear. She thought it over for a moment, still holding her hand over Mokou's.

...No. You're wrong.

She sighed.

"Fujiwara-san...no. Mokou-san, I know I shouldn't judge you, but I think you're making a mistake."

Sango and Mokou both flinched a little at that one. Koishi pressed down on the hand a little harder, this time as if to hold her in place.

"You mentioned that this girl was under a lot of pressure from her father, didn't you? Have you considered that it wasn't for her sake she lied to you, but for his? She wanted to make him happy, and using you like that was the only way. It wasn't pride that fuelled her. It was love. Misguided, confused, desperate love, but love nonetheless."

Mokou's hand squirmed a little beneath hers. She didn't want to hear this. She was happier living in her little world of vengeance where she'd been wronged by a heartless bitch looking out for herself. This was adding shades of grey she didn't want to deal with. All that awkwardness did was make Koishi press on harder.

"And think of it this way. That wasn't the first time you stormed into the store wanting to beat her up, was it? Of course she isn't going to want to see you if you're acting like that. But at the same time, she knows who you are, and she could call the police on you at any time. She doesn't, which means that she's feeling a lot guiltier about it than you think she is."

By now Mokou was visibly squirming in her seat. It was easier to be angry, and it was easier still if she painted Kaguya as a villain. Now Koishi was forcing her to make hard choices, and she didn't want that. Meanwhile, Sango's face shifter further and further towards amazement.

"Mokou-san. Maybe I'm in no position to say this. I can't even imagine the magnitude of the money you lost out on thanks to this girl's doings. But if you want to make any progress with this, you need to be the bigger woman in this conversation and forgive her for what she did. You won't achieve anything with vengeance. I know I'm asking a lot of you, but...forgive her."

A heaving silence followed, and for all of them it hurt just to breathe. Mokou's squirming had stopped again, and her eyes were closed as she quietly processed what she'd been told. It was a lot to take in, a little too much, maybe, and she started pulling at the tablecloth to try and vent her frustration.

"I...I need to go. Right now."

She pulled her hand away with a quick snap, standing up and making to leave the table. Her eyes were starting to water, worse than they'd been before.

"Ah, wait! Fujiwara-san!"

Mokou turned back, and reacted just quickly enough to catch something being thrown at her. Looking down, she saw that she'd been given a plain ring - no engravings, no jewels, nothing. She looked up at the girl who'd thrown it at her.

"I know it isn't much, but if things get really complicated and it feels like you're going under, put that on, okay?"

Mokou stared at Sango in confusion for about half a second. Then the urge to run took over again, and after a hurried nod she made for the exit again, skipping out on her meal.

Sango and Koishi sat in silence for a moment, just looking at the door after she'd long since departed.

"...What sort of ring is that, anyway?"

She started with a side question to try and relieve the tense atmosphere that had emerged. Sango allowed herself to smile a little with that.

"We just call it a Ring of Breath. Magic involves going into lots of places where you don't get your airy goodness, so it's a simple charm to take care of the problem. Magical duels usually take place in a water-like atmosphere, mainly because some people decided that it was more graceful or something, so rings like that are pretty much a given."

"Oh. So you gave it to Mokou-san in case-"

"Yeah. Can't be too safe, can we?"

The discussion came to a halt again. Eventually, Sango let out a small sigh.

"Koishi-san...that was amazing."

Koishi shrugged.

"All I did was give an opinion, that's all."

"But most people would've just written that off as an act of malice. Hell, even Fujiwara-san thought that she was getting screwed over, but you were willing to look at it in a different light. That takes a lot of nerve."

Koishi frowned at that one.

"I'm not a hero, Sango-san. I could spout philosophy all I wanted, but it wouldn't help stop a fist coming at my face."

"Good thing you've got me, then, huh?"

A playful nudge on the shoulder was Koishi's cue to lighten up and let things go. She took a deep breath, allowing her stance to slack a little.

"Yeah, you really helped out a lot when it came to Cirno-san, didn't you?"

"Phwee! I'm telling you, she wasn't playing fair! I'm not used to fighting in this form, dammit!"

Koishi smiled to herself as Sango made excuses. The waitress from before emerged, holding three dishes.

"Here you go. Two mackerel and...didn't you order yakitori?"

"Ah, yeah. Our guest had to leave suddenly. I think she's got a lot to think about."

"Yeah, it's a real shame. Still, more for me, phwee~!"

-----

She didn't know how the boss had tracked her to Lorelei's, and frankly she didn't care. There was still a good walk between her and the store, but she enjoyed every step of it knowing what was waiting at the end.

Her hand was in her pocket, tightly grasped around the key she'd been handed earlier. A new ring had been placed around her finger, apparently as some sort of precaution.

She didn't bother waiting to think about any of that. Right now there was only one thought on her mind, driving her forward with every step.

Time to find out who the real idiot is, Mokou Fujiwara. I'm coming for you.

-----

ok i'm an hour late now byeeeeeeeee

Myschi

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #51 on: September 14, 2010, 02:50:51 PM »
Huzzah an update~

Love how you did the Mokou/Kaguya feud. Really well-thought-out and whatnot!

Drake

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #52 on: September 14, 2010, 05:47:15 PM »
Seriously. Great Mokou plot. Write more now :V

A Colorful Calculating Creative and Cuddly Crafty Callipygous Clever Commander
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Myschi

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #53 on: September 14, 2010, 06:00:51 PM »
Seriously. Great Mokou plot. Write more now :V

This man knows his shit and should be listened to!

I'm curious, though, it's a 'passing joke turned totally awesome.' Where'd this all originate from? Pure Lotus?

Iced Fairy

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #54 on: September 14, 2010, 06:15:37 PM »
I'm curious, though, it's a 'passing joke turned totally awesome.' Where'd this all originate from? Pure Lotus?
Apparently.

And yes that was an interesting take on the rivalry.  But that may be taking a back seat to more immediate "ice fairy" based concerns....

Esifex

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #55 on: September 14, 2010, 06:24:09 PM »
I like the differences in the friendship between Koishi and Sango between the two stories, though.

In DRK, Koishi is all like 'wtf take a chill pill, Sango'

In PLiSS, it's... the other way around :B

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #56 on: September 16, 2010, 01:31:35 AM »
Working consistently to wrap up this arc. Hoped to finish it tonight, but as usual I suck at keeping things consise. :V

-----

Mokou wasn't quite sure what she was thinking as she stepped out of the restaurant. Her feet moved on their own, not caring where they went as long as it was away. She couldn't stand being in that place for a moment longer, not if it meant having to talk more about that.

It wasn't because Koishi had been wrong in her judgement. It had been more right than Mokou had been willing to admit.

She had been angry. Who could blame her for that? She'd seen her life's work come to fruition, only to have it taken from her by the girl she had trusted to make her dreams come true. In the space of a few weeks, she'd gained everything she'd ever wanted and lost it all at once. Going through a roller-coaster of emotions like that, who wouldn't snap a little inside? Turn the girl who'd ruined her into a straw-man she could pin all of her anger on?

And anger wasn't just relieving. It was simple. When Kaguya ruined her, there was no difficulty whatsoever in turning to the supposed culprit and declaring her to be the scum of the earth. Koishi was asking her to do something much, much harder - she was being asked to forgive Kaguya for what she'd done.

In the end, the facts were simple. Kaguya had lied to her, and screwed her out of her life's work. She'd cost her millions, and taken away everything she'd ever worked for. Now she was being asked to kiss and make up with her? Bullshit.

She'd been worried about Kaguya, about how every other word out of her mouth was about her father and how he had such high expectations. But she hadn't been ready for the girl to outright betray her like she did - if anything, that concern just meant that being betrayed by her hurt that much more. There was no opinion about it - she had been cheated.

Just stop thinking about this, you moron. If it hurts, then why bother?

A voice in the back of her head whispered promises of relief. It was perfectly possible for her to just disagree with everything Koishi had said to her, she knew that. She could just ignore the so-called 'advice' she'd been offered, and stayed in her own comfortable little world where she was the valiant hero who'd been stabbed in the back by a villain who deserved no mercy or pity.

It was tempting. Very tempting. Mokou spent a long time pondering its offer, almost ready to disregard the monologue she'd been given.

An image flashed in front of her eyes the moment before she gave in.

"Mokou-tan."

She grabbed at her head as if she'd been wounded. She didn't want to see this, not now, not ever. It was just going to hurt her if she thought about this too much, so why couldn't she look away?

"Mokou-tan...we did it."

It had started now, and she knew there was no way of stopping it. The film played itself out inside Mokou's head, still playing out in full view no matter how hard she closed her eyes. There was only one image, being played on endless repeat.

Kaguya was looking at the final mixture and holding it up to the sky, her eyes glistening with tears.

-----

"Mokou-tan. This is...it's wonderful. We'll make millions with it, revolutionise the market, win every award that they've ever invented...in fact, they might have to invent a few new ones just for this."

She continued to stare enawed at the elixir, treating it like the most beautiful thing she'd seen in her life. Mokou had smiled at the pure, raw happiness running across her face.

"And I'm betting your old man will be glad to hear you helped out with this, won't he?"

Kaguya's face had shifted then, looking conflicted. She bit her lip suddenly, nervous.

"Um...yes. Of course."


---

She'd thought nothing of it at the time, and indeed by the time the deed was done that memory was all but gone from her mind. Looking back now, though, Mokou could practically taste the guilt that was wracking Kaguya's face as she prepared to betray her.

Mokou was vaguely aware she'd walked into some back alley, away from the main path. She was alone here, so no-one around noticed as she started to violently ram her head into the wall.

Get the hell out of my head, Kaguya!

It hurt. It hurt like hell. She didn't care, she just wanted this thought to go away. The more she looked at that face, the less Kaguya looked like a heartless monster, and the more she looked like a stupid girl who made a stupid choice to win over her daddy.

She didn't want Kaguya to have an explanation. Explanations meant she'd need to accept that she had a reason for screwing her over beyond being a heartless bitch, and then she'd have to let the grudge go. But forgiveness was hard, so much harder than just staying angry.

But anger was becoming less and less of an option.

Shit...it's too late now, isn't it?

She stopped trying to beat the thought out of her head, and slid to her knees with her hands still against the wall. A few quiet tears fell onto her lap as she grit her teeth so hard she thought they would shatter.

...What would I have done?

It was a question she didn't want to ask herself, but she asked it anyway. She tried to picture the situation from Kaguya's point of view - daughter of a successful pharmacist, father obsessed with beauty and success, expected great things out of her, but she didn't have the spark of genius she desperately needed. Suddenly someone shows up with the idea she's been looking for, needing help to take it beyond the conceptual stage.

Would she have been able to resist the temptation? Could she honestly have given credit to someone else if it was her own father who was looming down on her, expecting her to move mountains in his name?

It hurt to admit, but she couldn't honestly answer 'yes' to that question. Maybe what Kaguya had done was wrong, but to an extent she understood it.

She laughed to herself, in that forgotten back alley separated from the rest of the world. All that time she'd spent making her body strong, and her heart was still so bitter as to hold a grudge and never stand in someone else's shoes.

"...Yeah. I guess I've been an idiot this whole time, haven't I?"

She gave up on even kneeling, and fell backwards into a puddle. A grey sky hung over her - dry, but threatening to burst into rain at any time. She felt powerless for the first time in months - this was too much for her right now, she thought. She couldn't bring herself to forgive Kaguya with a heart this weak.

So she decided she would have to learn. It would be painful, and it would be difficult, but it was the only sensible choice. She'd learn nothing by letting her hatred simmer for the rest of her life.

There was no brilliant declaration, no cry to the heavens. Just a simple, murmured promise to no-one in particular.

"I'm gonna get over myself. Someday, I'm gonna look her in the eye and tell her that I'm fine with what she did. I swear on it."

Every word carried a tone of determination that only the most heartfelt wish could power. She felt something welling up in her chest, like her emotions were manifesting in front of her.

It took her a moment to realise that wasn't just a clever simile.

"...The hell?"

Something had suddenly...appeared in her shirt's chest pocket. She couldn't find any other word for it - there'd been nothing, and now there was something. She never even used the pocket in question, but she could definitely feel a little weight pressing down on her. Pulling herself back to her feet, she reached inside and pulled out an object just smaller than her finger.

Some kinda jewel? Never seen one this colour, though...


It was shaped like a tear, and a brilliant crimson colour ran through it. There were no cracks or faults, the gem's bottom curving in a perfect arc. In terms of jewellery, it was an absolute masterpiece.

She would probably have examined it for a few minutes longer if a voice hadn't called out for her.

"You're a hard girl to find, y'know that? It's a good thing I caught you walking down here, or I'd have never caught you."

Another figure stepped in from the opening of the alley. It was a figure Mokou hadn't expected to see again for some time - not until after a whole lot of soul searching, anyway. She sighed, as she placed the gem back into the chest pocket.

"Kid, please tell me you aren't here for a rematch. I don't wanna have to do something I'll regret, but you're working away at my options."

Cirno didn't offer a response, simply strolling towards Mokou with a straight smile on her face. Her hands were in her pockets, as if to mock Mokou's stance, and her eyes were looking right into hers with total confidence. Impossible confidence, the sort that no human would be able to walk into a fair fight with.

"Oh, you can do whatever the hell you like. This time, I've got an ace or two up my sleeve."

Immediately, Mokou's mind drew the only logical conclusion it could.

A knife?!

She'd been cornered in a back alley, of all places. She grit her teeth again, focusing on Cirno's hands and getting ready to disarm her the instant her hand left her pocket. She'd grab the arm, deflect the stab, and smack the wrist to knock the knife out of her hand. Simple, but effective.

One of Cirno's hands ruffled around in her pocket. Mokou reacted on instinct alone, snatching at the arm before she could do any damage. Cirno was barely able to pull her hand out before Mokou stopped it dead.

It was empty.

What the?!

Cirno smirked, pulling her head next to Mokou's. A few words slipped into her ear, words that may as well have been in another language for how much sense they made to her.

"The Claw descends on Mokou Fujiwara."

An instant passed.

Then, to the rest of the world, the alley was empty.

-----

"Bleh. How can you people eat this stuff?"

Sango had quickly decided that yakitori wasn't for her, leaving the dish almost untouched at the empty seat. She washed away the taste quickly with a gratuitous helping of mackerel, helped down with a single gulp of water. A few customers glared at her for her table manners (or lack thereof), while Koishi kept her head down and worked through her meal slowly.

"You're going to give yourself a stomach ache eating like that."

Sango looked up, confused.

"What're you talking about? I eat this stuff in one bite all the time out at sea. Can't be that different, surely?"

Koishi didn't even bother to sigh at that one. She decided to just let her eat the meal however she wanted. She'd learn the lesson either way, though this way would be a little more painful.

She glanced around the restaurant, looking for anyone her age who'd be another potential Siren. No-one seemed to be a viable candidate though, and the only person she recognised was Professor Kawashiro in a rather tight-looking blue dress, holding what looked to be a glass of wine in her hand. She was muttering to no-one in particular about fractions and how they were a crime against humanity, swirling her glass but never actually taking a sip. She turned over to Koishi for a moment, offering her an infantile wave.

Koishi promptly looked away in embarrassment.

I'm not her student, I'm not her student...


Sango, of course, had been unaware of this exchange. She was too busy digging into her meal to care about interactions with tipsy teachers. The knife and fork were still sitting on the table, untouched, as she swallowed a piece of fish that seemed larger than her mouth.

"Mm...that's some good stuff. And I know good fish when I see it, trust m-"

Sango's boast never finished, as a sudden jolt of energy struck her body. She stood straight upright, eyes widened in shock, as her hands slammed into the table. Koishi's first thought was that the food had gone down the wrong way, but the hand grabbing her by the collar put paid to that thought.

"We need to go. Right now."

Sango's voice was deadly serious, a tone that Koishi had never really heard from her before. That was enough to convince her that whatever the problem was, it was worth leaving a meal half eaten.

"What's happening, Sango-san?"

"Can't you hear it?"

Koishi allowed Sango to haul her out of Lorelei's as she pondered the question.

"Hear what?"

"Touch the Teardrop. Then you'll get it."

There was still no sign of the normal cheerful tone in Sango's voice, which disturbed Koishi to no end. She reached into her pocket and pressed a single finger against the jewel held within.

Immediately a new sound burst into life, and she flinched for a moment thanks to its intensity. It was a voice, singing a single note with perfect pitch and tone. It was a beautiful voice, and one that was more than a little familiar to Koishi.

"That's-"

Sango smiled a little as she saw the recognition on Koishi's face.

"Yup. The Siren is singing. Looks like she made her wish without us."

The path Sango pulled her down ran away from the beaten path, and into a series of alleys. Mokou must have walked down here to think things over, Koishi thought to herself. She held onto the Teardrop, listening to Mokou's voice all the way.

It came to an abrupt stop when they were nearby.

"Ah?!"

Sango's eyes widened again. This time, Koishi could definitely make out a hint of fear.

"Dammit, the Claw got to her first?! How is that even possible!?"

They reached their destination, a distant back alley that no-one in the city would have had a reason to visit. Even a cursory glance was enough to reveal that there was no-one here, though, and Sango grit her teeth.

"OK, OK, calm down. It's gotta be here somewhere..."

Sango fell to her knees, looking around the shadows for something. Koishi simply stood behind her, tilting her head in confusion.

"Sango-san, what are you looking for?"

"They've spirited her away into a freaking magic duel. She's gonna have no chance there on her own, so we've gotta follow her."

"Follow her? But how? Do I need to challenge you to a fight or something?!"

Koishi was panicking, and she knew it. Mokou was in danger, possibly deadly danger, and she was powerless to help yet again. Sango continued to lurk in the shadows, running her hands along the ground.

"No, we need to find their Duel Marker."

"...What, now?"

"You can't just challenge another magician to a fight without leaving something behind. It's a little orb thingy called a Duel Marker, and we can use it to jump in on the fight."

"That doesn't sound like a very fair way to duel."

"Neither is challenging a girl who has no idea how to use her powers...wait, here it is!"

Sango scrambled to her feet again, holding up a light blue sphere the size of her hand. It pulsed slightly in her grip as she ran over to Koishi, her uniform covered in dirt.

"OK, Koishi-san. Hold onto this, and get ready to work your magic at any moment."

Koishi obeyed the order, placing one hand on the orb and the other in her pocket, closing it around the Teardrop. Sango placed a hand over Koishi's, and muttered what must have been some sort of entry password.

"The Pearl emerges to aid Mokou Fujiwara."

Koishi only had a moment to notice the flash of light.

The alley was deserted once again, save for a light blue sphere rolling along the ground.

-----

The world Mokou emerged in was similar to the one she'd just left. It was the same alley in the back streets of Gensouto, abandoned and empty.

The main differences were the new shade of blue the world had taken, and the fact that she was now roughly fifty feet above the ground.

"Aglb-"

She made to shout, but an awkward gurgling noise rising up was enough to convince her that was a bad move. She floated in place, so there was no immediate threat of falling, but all that did was freak her out even more.

Did I fall asleep in the alley or something?

This had to be a dream. It was the only logical option - the world around her was too absurd, too crazy. That, or the world had apparently flooded in the last thirty seconds, which was equally nonsensical.

Then again, dreams weren't supposed to feel this real. Mokou could feel the water (was it even water?) brushing against her skin, just cold enough to keep her attentive to the feeling. A few bubbles slipped out from her nose, rising upwards into the distance above. Only now did Mokou realise that there was no sun here - but at the same time, she could see perfectly. Another little bit of madness to throw on top of everything else.

"Hey, what's the matter? Need a moment to catch your breath?"

A voice bellowed out behind her, and only now did Mokou remember that someone had been clinging onto her before the world changed. Turning back, she caught sight of Cirno floating above the city as well, though she didn't seem to have the same breathing problem that Mokou did.

Except...was it Cirno? No, it couldn't have been. Cirno didn't have bright blue hair that colour. And she certainly didn't have...holy crap, were those wings?

OK, I've lost it. Apparently after I decided that it was alright to forgive Kaguya for being a jerk the rest of my brain just fell apart.

Her chest was starting to hurt a little. A few more bubbles flew out from between her lips as she let out a muffled moan. Cirno seemed to be enjoying her suffering, fluttering around gleefully in the water.

"Not so tough now, are you? Don't worry, this is all pretty new to me as well, but I've gotta say it's been a breath of fresh air for me."

If she weren't busy focusing on all the other weird things happening, Mokou would have probably punched Cirno in the face just for her horrible taste in puns. She started checking her pockets for anything that could help out before she started having serious trouble keeping her breath in.

Her hand clutched around a simple metal ring.

...if things get really complicated and it feels like you're going under, put that on, okay?

Sango's words from earlier suddenly rung in her head, and Mokou was slightly disturbed by how much they seemed to fit this situation. Hell, maybe that wasn't what she'd said at all, and she was just remembering it as such to fit the dream.

Whatever. If those were the sort of rules this dream worked on, she'd just have to follow them. She yanked the ring out of her pocket, and quickly jammed it on her middle finger. The pain in her chest faded away soon afterward, and she found herself breathing without much of a hassle.

Mokou's response to all this was about as verbose as could have been expected given the situation.

"Holy fuck."*

Cirno's face fell promptly when it became clear that Mokou had stopped dying. She scratched her head for a second, puzzled.

"Where the hell did you get that thing...? Eh, whatever. Doesn't really matter."

She reached into her own pocket, pulling out a golden key and flaunting it in front of Mokou. She got a puzzled glare in return as a result of Mokou having no idea what she was trying to suggest.

Great, now my dream is throwing crappy symbolism at me.

Cirno smiled as she lifted the key upwards, holding it above her chest. There was something slightly wrong in her eyes, Mokou thought - something different, something that didn't belong. Weren't they usually a lighter shade of blue than that?

"A good friend of mine lent me one of these. Now you're gonna get to see how strong I really am!"

She stabbed it into her chest, but if it had hurt there was no sign of it on her face. She continued to wear an expression of absolute confidence as she pushed the key all the way into her chest, right over where her own heart was.

She turned the handle, and immediately the key began to shine with a golden light. It travelled along Cirno's body until Mokou could see nothing more than a brilliant mass of gold. A single drop of black appeared in its centre, though, and quickly spread across her until there was no sign of the original brightness. Cirno was encased in a jet-black shell, like some sort of demonic crysalis.

The black mass began to crack, slowly at first, until suddenly it burst open to reveal its prisoner. The tiny wings that had run across her back before were twice as long now, and the ice that formed them looked stronger and firmer. Her clothes had changed as well - the main dark-blue fabric ran along her body like a swimsuit, but turned into a dress around the bottom with a jagged white rim. Along her arms ran a pair of sleeves made of pure ice, forming a pair of threating-looking shoulder pads at their ends. She held her hands outwards, unhindered by the weight of her sleeves, and above them a pair of icy needles formed with frightening speed.

"Feast your eyes on Cirno, the strongest of the Ice Fairies!"

She flung both her projectiles at Mokou, one after the other. Both had been aimed precisely at her head, and unused to combat in a watery environment she was barely able to pull her head away from the oncoming attacks. One of the needles barely grazed her cheek, drawing blood and forcing her to stifle a cry of pain.

That was when her brain finally came to a conclusion. It was a conclusion that all of her higher brain functions wanted to deny, but the lower, primal functions had forced them to admit with that wave of pain.

This isn't a dream. This is the real deal.

And she's trying to kill me!


-----

As per request, have a cliffhanger ending theme
Spoiler:
and a promise that this story will not have as depressing an ending as Fushigi Yuugi.

Iced Fairy

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #57 on: September 16, 2010, 01:47:06 AM »
Heh, It wasn't a request.  But it does amuse me.

Is it odd that I'm wondering more about the fate of Cirno here?  Or am I too trusting you'll follow standard mahou shoujo tropes?

Alfred F. Jones

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #58 on: September 16, 2010, 06:31:16 AM »
I contest that Fushigi Yuugi had a depressing ending.
Spoiler:
Unless your name was Nuriko.
Or if you're talking about Genbu Kaiden. Damnit, why did you link that song? I've had it stuck in my head on-off for the past five years. I hate you.

In any case, nice update. I can't wait for more. :3

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Dolphin Rider Koishi - AKA A Passing Joke Gone Totally Awesome
« Reply #59 on: September 17, 2010, 01:20:00 AM »
Cirno smirked, seeing fear begin to rise on Mokou's face.

"Good to see you at least managed to dodge the first one, at least. It'd be a real shame if you went down too easy."

She clicked her fingers, and the water in front of her began to solidify. A frozen blade slowly took shape, and she clutched its hilt with the stance of a master.

"Now, how about we get a little more serious?!"

She swung the weapon in Mokou's direction, firing an icy arc towards her at breakneck speed. Again Mokou's escape was by the slimmest of margins, and she heard her sleeve tear as the projectile swung past her arm.

How the hell am I supposed to fight back?!

Her opponent apparently had shiny magical powers, and Mokou had absolutely nothing to respond with. Even getting close didn't seem to be an option anymore, looking at that weapon Cirno was carrying - even if it was made of ice, that blade looked ridiculously sharp.

"Aw, what's wrong? Where's your fighting spirit? I thought you said I'd let you down?!"

Cirno's voice rose to an almost maniacal pitch as she swung the sword relentlessly, forcing Mokou to make one close-call after another. She could feel it more with every word - something was wrong with her. This wasn't the Cirno she'd taught to look after herself. This wasn't even the Cirno who she'd put down in the schoolyard earlier.

"Ah-!"

Mokou had been distracted, and didn't put quite enough effort into dodging that last one. The icy line had cut against her side, and she could make out a pool of blood forming on her shirt. She grabbed at it, wincing and resisting the urge to throw out every profanity she knew.

"Hmph. You're a real disappointment, you know that?"

Cirno's face lost its interest in an instant, ready to discard Mokou like a toy. She wielded her blade again, but this time she stabbed it in Mokou's direction. The blade stretched outward at Cirno's command, lunging forwards long after it should have stopped.

It was slow enough that she could dodge the attack easily for a change, but at the last moment the blade swooped downwards and smacked against her leg. It didn't hurt - in fact, there was a feeling of numbness around the point of impact, like it had been frozen.

It was a feeling that quickly began to spread.

"Can you hear that, Fujiwara-san? Ice coming together always makes such a pretty sound."

Mokou would have begged to differ. Looking down at the icy tendrils starting to run across her leg, she started beating at them furiously with her fists. All the effort earned her was tired knuckles, though, and as the ice continued to envelop her feet its weight was enough to pull her deeper into the water.

"I'm gonna be merciful to you, Fujiwara-san. Maybe you'll get another chance...in a million years or so."

Cirno let out a cackle as she watched Mokou sink, with the ice almost completely enveloping her legs and moving faster by the second. As it became clear that nothing she could do was going to stop it from covering her entirely, Mokou's panic gave way to tired resignation.

Dammit...you're telling me I've already lost without so much as a fight?

What sort of rigged fight was this? Her opponent was some magical girl, and she didn't get so much as a butterknife to help her out. She reached into her pocket again as the ice passed her waist, pulling out the scarlet gem she'd come across earlier.

Never did find out what this thing was, did I...

She examined it for a moment, unable to take her eyes off it as the ice formed around her neck. She was given no choice after it formed around her face, and her hand locked into place as at last the attack enveloped her completely.

The icy cage descended to earth with a loud thump, leaving Mokou helplessly trapped inside. She had long since given up on freeing herself, ready to succumb to her fate as a human popsicle for the next couple of millenia.

She never heard the voice calling for her from far above.

-----

"Mokou-san!"

Koishi had only emerged in time to witness the last moments of the fight, seeing Mokou sink frozen into the depths of this pseudo-Gensouto. Her cry immediately informed Cirno of her presence, and the fairy was clearly astounded by her presence.

"K-Komeiji?! No-one told me you were in on this!"

Cirno's new getup was pretty intimidating, especially those ominous-looking shoulder pads. There was no time to hesitate. Looking to her side, Koishi saw that Sango had already taken on her dolphin form, ready for combat.

Say the word!

Koishi reached into her pocket, pulling out her Teardrop and lifting it upwards into the sky. Cirno simply watched on, still dumbfounded simply by the fact that Koishi had even arrived here, let alone what she was doing.

"Wherever evil forces be,
On the land or in the sea,
All who sin should cower and flee
From Dolphin Rider Koishi!"


This was becoming disturbingly regular, but Koishi didn't have time to think about things like that. The transformation played out in full, each step puzzling Cirno more and more. As it came to an end, Koishi took her place on Sango's back, pointing her trident straight at the enemy.

"Halt, villain! I, Dolphin Rider Koishi, have emerged to put a stop to your evil deeds!"

For once, she was okay with it being so thoroughly melodramatic. Now that there was a life at stake, she was ready to put her all into this.

"In the name of the sea, prepare to be punished!"

Cirno finally snapped out of her bewilderment, quickly growing a snarl on the face of hers.

"You little...what're you trying to do, coming in with some fancy speech and a fishy steed?! You trying to act like you're cooler than me?!"

Dolphins aren't fish, moron!

Sango couldn't pass on her complaints directly, but Koishi heard them loud and clear. Rather than granting Cirno a fight, though, she ordered Sango to dive down into the alley where Mokou's body had fallen. Making sure she survived was the first priority, villain or no.

An icy blade lashed out inches in front of them, stopping them dead in their tracks.

"Hey, don't you DARE try to ignore me! I'm the one worth your attention, not that stupid has-been!"

Cirno's voice was different than Koishi remembered it - there was an arrogant tone that hadn't been there before, even during her worst times. Now she sounded like a self-righteous maniac, and that was frightening.

"Dammit, you make me sick with all your razmatazz! Get the hell out of my sight!"

Cirno clicked her fingers, and the water behind her filled up with dozens of icy needles. Each one was pointed in Koishi's direction, all unimaginably sharp. There was no doubt about it - she was fighting with intent to kill.

She clicked her fingers again, and a rain of needles descended upon Koishi.

Sango! Can you see an opening?!

The dolphin quickly examined the oncoming barrage of needles, searching for a hole large enough for them to slip through. For all her apparent strength, Cirno was still a beginner - there was no way she could have made a fool-proof attack already.

There!

Sango suddenly darted to the left, to a single point where almost every needle passed by them unfazed. Koishi only had a single projectile to worry about, aimed at her neck, and that one was easily dealt with after a quick swing with her trident.

Cirno practically screamed with fury.

"Dammit, dammit, dammit! You aren't supposed to dodge!"

She started firing arcs of ice with her blade at high speed, but unlike her opponent beforehand Sango was suited to fighting in this environment. The pair drifted around the oncoming swipes, moving swiftly but never in any real danger.

"Sango-san, what happened?! Is Cirno-san really trying to kill us?!"

...That's not her, Koishi-san. See her eyes?

Koishi hadn't been looking properly, but now that Sango pointed it out she could see that Cirno's eyes were several shades darker than they'd been before. Her face seemed to have lost its normal fluidity, jumping between elation and fury at the drop of a hat, and unable to take on any emotion in between.

She's been Mindcoiled.


Koishi looked down for a moment.

"Mindcoiled?"

The Claw don't take risks with their recruitments. When they take a human into their ranks, they slip a little creature called a Mindcoil into their brain. It locks itself around whatever emotions will keep the target under their control, and stops anything else from ever crossing their mind.

Koishi looked back into Cirno's eyes as she continued to swing and miss with her icy arcs. They were manic, on the brink of insane. Any logical human would at least have shown a hint of hesitation or mercy, and all of her ego aside Cirno had never had the nerve to kill. Now, though, that human side of her was out the window - her desire to be the strongest had overridden everything else, and if that meant killing off the opposition then so be it.

She was convinced now. The Black Claw were complete monsters. Robbing people of their free will and making them do their bidding - that was just plain unforgivable.

"We don't have time for this, though! Mokou-san...Mokou-san is-!"

Maybe she'd managed to avoid drowning*, but Mokou was still going to freeze to death if they didn't do something fast. Cirno wasn't going to give them an opening at any rate, though, and off the top of her head none of her attacks seemed to fit the bill.

"OK, no more games! Looks like I'm gonna need to make two popsicles today!"

Cirno gave up on her swiping attacks, preparing to use the lunging attack that had brought Mokou to an icy end. They couldn't even afford to get touched by that thing, or they'd be getting dug out along with Mokou in the year 8097.

Wait a second...

An idea jumped into Koishi's head as Cirno began to stab in her direction. This time, she couldn't give the plan away to her enemy, though, so she passed on the message through thought to Sango.

Waiting until the very last moment, the pair dodged to the side and narrowly avoided the oncoming ice blade. Cirno let out a slight grunt, quickly shifting the blade around to chase them through the water. Sango raced on, keeping a few inches ahead of its tip at all times as the sword chased her relentlessly.

There was no use in them running, Cirno thought to herself. She could make this sword as long as she wanted, so she'd have to catch them eventually. Even if they swung to her side...then behind her...then back around in front of her again...then to her side...

"...Wait."

Cirno was too slow in putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and by the time she had figured out Koishi's plan it had already been put into motion. The blade began to wrap itself around its owner, and its momentum was enough to tie her down quite nicely.

"H-Hey! No fair! You can't use my own weapons against me!"

She struggled against her own icy chains, immune to their freezing touch but not to their grip. Koishi coiled back around again, sticking her tongue out to the trapped Cirno.

"Take a moment to cool off!"*

...Koishi-san, that was terrible.

No time for criticism!

Horrible puns aside, there were other matters to be dealing with. Now that Cirno was out of the picture (at least momentarily) it was time to engage in a rescue. Sango dove down into the alley, towards the icy statue of Mokou. She wasn't moving, and indeed Koishi wasn't sure if she even could move.

Fortunately, the Teardrop was already in her hand, so all she had to do was tell her to use it. But could she even hear her through the ice now?

Either way, she was going to do her damnedest.

-----

Shit, it's cold...

Of course it was cold. It was ice. What had she expected? It was worse in that the ice hung against her body so tightly she didn't even have room to shiver. By now her face was going blue, and her body was starting to go painfully numb.

Her ears could make out a thumping sound. Someone banging against the ice? Was it the future already?

"...an! ...u-san!"

No, this wasn't the future. Unless people in the future sounded like...Koishi?

"...Mokou-san! Mokou-san!"

She couldn't see it, but she pictured Koishi beating at the ice with her fists and having no more success than Mokou did. It was enough to bring Mokou back into awareness when she'd been ready to pass out, but she still felt completely powerless in this icy prison.

"The Teardrop! Use the Teardrop!"

Teardrop? Was she meant to cry herself out or something? That was going to be pretty hard when her eyes were closed.

...Or...does she mean?

Her hand pressed down on the Teardrop slightly. It stung, but in a good way - it felt like she was touching a fire, but with all of the warmth and none of the pain.

It was just the feeling she needed, and before she knew it she was clutching at it with all her strength.

Screw logic. If this works, it works!

The crimson Teardrop began to shine. Its light slipped through the first cracks in Mokou's icy prison, and Koishi pulled backwards as she covered her eyes.

Then, in an instant, the ice shattered completely, a ball of fire bursting from within. From here, Koishi could only make out Mokou's darkened silhouette from within, but just like her own first time it looked like it was running on automatic.

"Alright, time to crack some skulls! Fujiyama Phoenix, Rise!"

On the last note, a pair of brilliant golden wings sprouted from Mokou's back, this time reaching their full length. The flames along them burned brightly, even as the fire around Mokou came to a rest. Even her clothes had been burned away by the heat, but the flames continued to burn around her chest, finally fading to reveal a red tank-top with a golden phoenix engraved on it. Beneath that, the last smouldering flames disappeared from her pants, charred black and burnt away to the extent they may as well have been shorts. An armband appeared on her shoulder, sporting what looked to be half of a feather, and a pair of gritty combat boots had neatly slipped onto her feet. Behind her, her long silver hair was kept under control by a single ribbon.

"Inferno Gauntlet, Set!"

She raised one hand upward, and around it a red fingerless glove started to form, with a set of dull grey jewels inlaid on them. As she clicked her fingers, the gems burst into life, humming slightly as they turned a brilliant shade of white. As she lifted her other hand and clicked likewise, Koishi noticed there was no weapon coming into existence like her trident - Mokou was her own weapon.

And of course, all of this was fire was being lit underwater. Sometimes Koishi wished magic could at least make the tiniest bit of sense.*

"Heh. So a little birdie told me that there was some action going on around here."

Mokou cracked her knuckles, letting her neck twist around with a few audible clicks. Her stance slackened a little as she raised her fists in the traditional stance of the brawler.

"And when it comes to beating down some bad guys, I'm your first point of call! Fujiyama Phoenix, present and accounted for!"

She sounded determined and confident, as if none of this was a surprise to her. Of course, that feeling quickly wore off as the transformation sequence came to an end, and Mokou regained awareness. She stayed in her stance, but her eyes darted around with a sudden confusion before landing on Koishi.

"...Huh? Komeiji-san, what the hell is with that getup?"

She took a moment to absorb the swimsuit-like outfit, the fancy gloves, the hefty-looking trident, and of course the fact that Koishi was riding a dolphin of all things. She jumped between confusion and amazement at high speed, not sure whether to be shocked or puzzled.

Suddenly, she was very worried about looking down at herself. If she was wearing something ridiculous like that, she'd never live it down. With a good deal of effort, she managed to talk herself into seeing what sort of outfit she'd been landed with.

"...Yeah, can I go back into that ice block now?"

Koishi would have taken a moment to grin at that one, but a sound from far off distracted her. It was the sound of ice shattering, loud enough to be audible even from over here.

Cirno had broken out.

"You've gotta be kidding me! You're telling me every stupid has-been gets a cool sequence like that?! You guys are all just copycats, you hear me?!"

The ice sword reformed in her grip, its million fragments coming back together in a matter of seconds. She wasn't set to fall for the same trick again, but this time she wouldn't need to worry about that.

"But guess what?! A cat cornered in an alley can't do a thing! Try to dodge THIS!"

Another wall of needles emerged behind her, ready to fly into the alley and impale its inhabitants. This time there wasn't enough room for Sango's agility to be of any use, and as the wall started to collapse on them Koishi lifted up her trident in a vain attempt to clear the way.

"Get down!"

Mokou was running on pure instinct as she charged towards Koishi, letting her wings fold in front of her to shield the trio. The needles slammed into it with the usual deadly force, but the instant they came into contact with the flaming barrier they collapsed harmlessly into steam. The ground at their sides was riddled with blows that they couldn't possibly have survived, but beneath Mokou's wings none of the attack's intended targets had suffered as much as a scratch.

Understandably, Cirno was furious.

"Dammit! You people are cheating! I could take you one-on-one any time, but now you're just being cowards by teaming up. Stop being so weak!"

Koishi was tempted to offer a response along the lines of how it wasn't much braver to fight an opponent who couldn't fight back, but as Mokou unfolded her wings she found that she was this was no longer her fight.

"...Kid, you think I'm gonna let her get in the way of this? I'm gonna get payback for you trying to make me into the next abominable snowman, and if she knows what's best for her she'll stay the hell outta my way."

Mokou looked down at Koishi with a cocky glare. These didn't come to her often, so seeing just how confident Mokou was in her chances won her trust even more.

"Don't worry. I've got this one."

Letting Koishi go, Mokou leapt upwards as her wings started to flap, quickly bringing her up to Cirno's height. The ice fairy had the expression of a child who had just lost at a playground game, pouting as she readied her weapon once again. There was a hint of desperation in her voice as she stuttered out a response.

"Y-You got lucky! I'm not gonna go easy on you this time, you hear?!"

She ran a finger across the blade, and it began to hum as it glowed a light shade of blue. Readying it, she swung at Mokou with all her might, drawing an arc that was faster and deadlier than any of its predecessors. It was homing in on her, so any attempt at escape was pointless.

From where Mokou was standing, it may as well have been moving in slow motion.

"Inferno Gauntlet, Counter Mode."

The jewels on her gloves faded slightly, shifting to a light blue hue. Her stance tightened a little as she watched the arc fly towards her, waiting for just the right moment to respond. This was a science, and the slightest mishap would lead to all sorts of painful consequences.

Now!

She struck out at the projectile, stopping it within inches of her face. Sparks flew from the glove where it touched the arc, and Mokou's arm tensed slightly as it kept the attack in check. The armband began to glow as the attack pressed into her glove, the feather attached to it growing to full size.

"Inferno Gauntlet..."

The jewels started to heat up again, turning bright red. Mokou looked up at the stunned Cirno, offering her a simple smile.

"Return To Sender."

The jewels fired, releasing jets of flame that quickly doused Cirno's projectile. As the icy arc melted, a new attack rose from its ashes - a fire-crafted phoenix, bursting through the water and retreading its old path. It screeched as it descended upon Cirno, looking set to eat her alive.

"Kyah!"

A last-minute block with her blade was all that stopped Cirno from taking the attack head-on, but it only hit with enough force to push her back a few inches. There was a dent in her sword where the firebird had melted it, and this time it wasn't coming back together. Her eyes stared obsessed at the flaw, her cockiness starting to give way to sheer panic.

"No, no, no! This isn't supposed to happen! I'm the strongest, dammit! THE STRONGEST!"

She grabbed the blade in both hands this time, focusing her attention on the hilt. It was clear now that was staking everything on this next attack, and her face was caught somewhere between horror and rage. She jumped from joy to horror at a moment's notice, never stopping at any emotion in between.

"Now I'm REALLY gonna kill you! PERFECT FREEZE!"

The blade shattered in her hands, collapsing into hundreds of crystalline shards that flew in every direction. Mokou was only immediately threatened by one or two, but they moved fast enough that she had to work to dodge them, punching them out before they could do any damage. The rest of them slowly drifted to a halt, hanging in the water as if they'd always been there.

There was a demented smile on Cirno's face as she held her hands upward, commanding the shards to move at her will. Mokou's eyes widened in realisation as they began to turn, each and every one of them pointed towards her.

"So long, Mokou Fujiwara! It's pincushion time!"

She swung her hands forward in a fluid, dramatic motion, and the shards collapsed inwards onto Mokou.

“Shi-”

The girl didn't even have time to scream.

"MOKOU-SAN!"

Koishi could do nothing but watch as the attack rained down on her ally, stabbing her dozens of times with unforgiving force. The closest Mokou could offer to a reaction was a choked cough, spitting out a few drops of blood before her body gave in entirely. She fell backwards, and she floated limp in the water with wounds running across her whole length. There was probably more blood seeping out of her body now than was still inside it.

Cirno's expression could only be described as sheer joy.

"She...she's dead! She's dead! I won! I actually won!"

She swam over to Mokou's body, still seeing no response from her. She kicked hard at the body, feeling it offer no resistance to her.

"What's the matter, Fujiwara-saaan? I thought you were so confident that you were the real fighter here! That stupid face of yours...I hated it! You look better when you're dead, you know that?!"

She started laughing - no, cackling. This wasn't a laugh any sane person could perform. There was a manic glint in her eyes as she continued to slam her foot into the corpse, laughing like it was the only thing she knew how to do.

"Well, this was all to be expected, wasn't it? After all, I'm the strongest. Losers like you who try to make me look like a weakling DESERVE to die! Let this be a lesson to all you wannabes - NO ONE SCREWS WITH CIRNO AND LIVES!"

She lost herself in a victory monologue, still absent-mindedly kicking at the body. Beneath them, Koishi struggled to fight back tears, clinging onto Sango for comfort.

She...she can't be...

That feeling of dread hung for longer than Koishi could imagine. Sango glanced up at her, unable to come up with a single word of comfort. All she could do was watch as Cirno continued to desecrate Mokou's remains.

"...Ah? What's that...?"

On Mokou's arm, the armband from earlier - it was glowing. The feather attached to it was shining gold, and the light was starting to run down her arm. It passed over the first of her many wounds, still bleeding from the shard of ice stabbed into it, but as it moved onward Mokou's skin appeared completely untouched. It was as if she had never been hurt at all, and the light continued to do its repair job as it moved further down.

A glimmer of hope rose in Koishi's eyes.

She's...she's...!

The light even went so far as to repair the cuts in Mokou's outfit, and by the time it had finished travelling her body she looked as good as new. The armband faded, its feather slowly crumbling into dust now that it had expended its energy. Cirno remained blissfully unaware of this, continuing to kick at Mokou like a ragdoll.

A hand quickly caught her by the heel.

"Kicking your opponent while she's down? That's pretty bad manners, kid."

Cirno's face jumped again, from happiness to utter shock. Mokou was looking up at her with the same quiet smile as always - presumably, her outgoing confidence was for when she could afford to take a hit or two.

"N-No...no! I killed you, I killed you! You weren't supposed to get back up! I won! You're...you're cheating!"

Cirno tried to pull back, but Mokou had her in her grip. Without her sword there was no way she could use any of her stronger techniques, and she'd lost that casting Perfect Freeze.

"Well, you've got a point there. You killed me, alright."

She pulled Cirno down to her level with one hand, priming the other to take a swing at Cirno's face.

"Too bad I got better."*

It was a jaw-breaking right hook, hitting with enough force to knock Cirno out instantly. The fairy, unarmed and undone, fell backwards in the same way Mokou had, her wings fluttering slightly out of reflex.

For all intents and purposes, the fight was over.

"MOKOU-SAN!"

Koishi immediately swam up to the victor, leaping off her dolphin steed and hugging her in relief. The tears were still hanging in her eyes, but fortunately the water made it too hard for anyone to make out.

"You idiot...you had me really scared there! And Sango-san was scared too, weren't you?"

Sango? Where's she?

Mokou had never seen Sango around here. It had been herself, Cirno, Koishi, and that dolphin she'd been riding around on, the one that was floating at her side-

"Yeah, did you have to cut it so close? Next time, try to win a fight without getting killed, phwee..."

That wasn't a dolphin. It had definitely been a dolphin five seconds ago, but now it was Sango floating alongside her, letting out a sigh of relief. Mokou flinched at the sight - if it had been a dolphin before, and it was Sango now, did that mean Sango was...oh, wait, there was a fin on her neck. That put a lot of her questions to rest.

"So THAT'S why you freaked out."

Sango pouted a little at that one. She'd just about forgotten that conversation, and she didn't want to be reminded of it.

"Anyway. This is gonna be one hell of a question, but now I think I have a right to ask it."

Mokou held her arms out, her face showing utter confusion.

"Where am I? What is this place? And why am I suddenly some sort of mahou shoujo wannabe?"

Koishi let out a little laugh. It was funnier than she'd expected to see this realisation coming from someone else for a change.

"There'll be plenty of time to explain later, Mokou-san. For now..."

Her eyes turned to Cirno, still floating unconscious in the water.

"Sango-san, what do we do about her? You said they had some sort of mind control thing on her, right?"

Sango suddenly grew very tense, her body standing to attention at the sight of that. She looked away slightly before responding.

"Yes, a mindcoil. Basically, it takes your fears and weaknesses, and twists them to basically make you do whatever the Claw want you to do. It's a scary weapon - it can turn nervous little scaredy-cats into utter maniacs, no problem."

"Right. So, now that she's unconscious...how do we get rid of it?"

Sango paused, biting her lip. She dipped her head downwards, struggling to get her next words out.

"...We can't."

Koishi blinked. She must have misheard or something.

"We can't...?"

"We've tried every spell we can think of to deal with it, but as yet we haven't come up with a way of removing the mindcoil. And even if we've knocked her out now, she's going to come back and try again, and again, and again. The mindcoil won't give her any other choice - no matter how much it hurts her to lose, how slim her chances are, she'll just keep fighting us as long as she can. She'll suffer for it as much as we will."

Koishi slowly started to shake her head in denial. Sango was joking somehow, with a terrible, terrible joke. Mokou looked just as uncertain as Koishi did, watching Sango's movements with a careful eye.

"...I'm sorry, Koishi-san. There's only one way to put an end to this fight."

She looked up towards Koishi, her eyes severe as her hands trembled. The words that came out of her mouth disgusted her as much as they disgusted anyone else.

"And that's to kill her now, while we have the chance."

-----

And yes, leaving the update on ANOTHER cliffhanger. I'm very bad at keep things short. -_- Now, should I update this ASAP or let people use their imaginations? :3
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 10:58:30 PM by Roudonge »