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Louise & Yuka K.
Book: Be Careful What
You Wish For, Chapter 16
YukaMale2
Release date 03-10-11
Written by Vanishing Trooper
Chapter Guide
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Chapter 15
Be Careful What
You Wish For
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Chapter 17
Be Careful What
You Wish For

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Chapter 16

Author's Notes: Here we have the next chapter. No explosions yet but that comes next chapter. The first part was originally supposed to be a separate interlude until I realized that it was too short to be one and it was still part of the main plot anyway. The rest is further character development and a set of tone to how the next will be like.

As always, please enjoy!



Chapter 16

"Yuka! Good timing. I was wondering if Ran had set the time dilations wrong when she sent me here." Surprisingly, it was the familiar voice of a young man that greeted me when I entered Mugenkan. I eyed the young man who I determined was slightly older than Louise with narrowed eyes before approaching him.

He had slightly messy shoulder-length black hair and chestnut colored eyes as and also had the confident half-smirk he has become known for. He wore a much simpler version of a shinto priest's garb, elbow length sleeves and foregoing the sash as well as exchanging the standard slippers with durable sandals instead. He did not carry a priest's staff nor a gohei, instead he chose consecrated knuckle dusters that kind of look like tiny torii gates as his main means to protect the peace. He hides them along with the family yin-yang balls in a pouch of holding that was handed down in their family since Reimi's time. Naturally, everything he had was patterned in the standard Hakurei red and white color scheme...except he had the white as the dominant color instead of the red.

"Touya Hakurei..." I regarded the current representative of the Hakurei clan, the Shield of the Eastern Wonderland, and the most talented member of the family since Reimu. Incidentally, one of the handful of Hakurei that did not have a hat or some sort of head or hair accessory.

There actually was once a rumor that he really was Reimu's reincarnation which was why he seemed to similar to her in some ways. Shikieiki refused to comment on this matter on the grounds that it was 'none of your business' if it turned out to be true or not. That being said, Touya has had a more odd childhood than most thanks to certain individuals that I will not name -but one of whom was living inside the Scarlet Devil Mansion- who wanted to see if they could 're-awaken' Reimu's personality that supposedly slept in her descendant's body. That being said, repeats of certain incidents from Reimu's time was commonplace for a while until Yukari made them all stop because even she thought that it was stupid...and this was Yukari we were talking about.

"It has been five-hundred years since I instigated the rule, but you should already know that I do not allow humans inside my border of dreams easily after what your ancestor and her friend did long ago." I reminded the Hakurei of the rule I imposed after Reimu and Marisa raided Mugenkan back then. Touya was strong, I admit that much, but he is even lazier than Reimu was when she was his age so he hasn't been keeping up with his training as he should. If it wasn't for Yukari, he probably would train at all. I punctuated my statement by narrowing my eyes at him even more as I folded my arms and leaned back.

"I know, I know...jeez, ease up will you? It's nice to see that you haven't changed even with the gender switch." Touya responded while putting both his hands in front of him, both as a gesture that he did not mean any harm and as a precaution so he can put up a barrier if I attack in order to buy him time to pull out his knuckle dusters.

"Yuka? Is that you?" I blinked as I heard Louise's voice come from behind me. Touya and I turned to see my master walk out of the mass of sunflowers that covered most of Mugenkan. Louise confirmed my presence before she saw Touya and the two of them proceeded to dumbly stare at each other. I had not anticipated this development...

"Humans aren't allowed inside Mugenkan, eh?" Touya recovered first as he mocked my earlier statement before lowering his hands. He had also made a showing that the Hakurei clan's skill at differentiating between humans and youkai was alive and well.

"Louise is my master as you may or may not already know so she's an exception. Now, you mentioned Ran a moment ago. Why did Yukari send you instead of Ran herself or someone else?" I answered. If Yukari sent him here then he should at least have been told about my situation here. After all, he already seemed to know about the change in my gender. Touya's response was interrupted as Louise walked up to me before tugging at my vest in the way she does when she felt like she had something she needed to know.

"Who is it this time?" My master asked me as she nodded in Touya's direction. The young Hakurei wasn't sure what to make of the scene of me being manhandled by a little girl. He knew first hand how strong and ruthless I can be at Danmaku Battles and the current situation must be rather surreal for him. I sighed and gently released Louise's hands from my vest.

"I might as well get the introductions finished..." I muttered to no one in particular before I gestured toward the young Hakurei Priest.

"Louise, I introduce to you another of the inhabitants of Gensokyo. This is the current representative of the Hakurei clan, Touya Hakurei, who is more infamously known as the 'Shield of the Eastern Wonderland'." I introduced Touya and Louise's eyes went wide after the introduction.

"Hi there, I'm Touya Hakurei. I'm just some guy who got caught up in all this but it's still nice to meet you." Touya, on his part, still obliged to introduce himself to Louise with a polite bow. He maintained the distance between us since he still wasn't sure how I would have reacted if he approached Louise. Quite honestly, I was thankful for his consideration since I wasn't sure what I would have done if he approached Louise at that time either. My master blinked at the young man a few times before giving him a timid bow in return. She was probably unsure as how to properly respond to such a greeting from a member of the Hakurei clan after everything she has heard from us about them.

"Wait...what is he doing here anyway?" Louise asked as he turned back to me.

"That is something I wish to inquire to him as well. I'm certain that he is more than happy to explain why he is here but not before you introduce yourself first. It is only polite to do so, yes?" I answered. My master gave one of her trademark 'urks' of understanding before turning back to Touya who looked like he was still unsure of what to make of my relationship with Louise. My master finally broke off from me before standing some distance in front of Touya and giving him a perfect curtsy.

"I am Louise Fran輟ise le Blanc de la Valli鑽e. I'm just some girl who got Yuka caught up in all this but it's still nice to meet you." Louise mirrored Touya's introduction with a smirk that came as a surprise for me. The young Hakurei stared at Louise for a few moments before he started laughing.

"Okay, I like you already. Anyway, you're both probably wondering why I'm here instead of Yukari or Cirno-nee." Touya stated with a friendly smile. I walked up to stand beside Louise and saw her head tilted to the side in wonder.

"You call her Cirno-nee too?" Louise asked Touya. I decided to answer her question for her instead of waiting for him to respond.

"Touya was trained for a time by certain members of Cirno's team, Seventh Heaven. In particular, Hong Meiling and Wriggle Nightbug helped him develop his own unique way of dealing with incidents." I explained and the Hakurei in question nodded at my words before picking up the conversation himself.

"Obviously, being trained by those two as well as being a Hakurei kid, I would inevitably end up meeting the rest of them including but not limited to Cirno-nee. Of course, I didn't meet Miss Letty until that winter because of obvious reasons." Touya elaborated and Louise made nods of understanding at his words. I had assumed that Yukari had already told my master about the Perfect Cherry Blossom incident, or at least certain incidents that the Embodiment of Winter was involved in.

"Now then, if there is nothing else..." I trailed off as I nodded at the Hakurei to indicate that I wanted to go back to the main topic at hand.

"Of course, Yukari wanted to make sure that you were the only one to find out about this but I guess having Miss Valliere here wouldn't be much of an issue." Touya started as she nodded to me and Louise in turn. My master glanced away and her cheeks colored a bit when she heard him call her 'Miss Valliere'. I wondered why but decided that it wasn't important at the time.

"Yukari asked me to go here because she had things she needed to take care of in Hakugyokurou as a favor for Yuyuko and Kanako. Of course, whenever those three get together, you can be sure that something is gonna happen soon so I've started stepping up my workouts just in case." The young Hakurei continued with a tired sigh. Yukari, Yuyuko, and Kanako meeting together? That could have meant anything from a simple gathering of old friends to a plan to make sure that Touya was always 'on his toes' when it came to incidents. To that end, the young man's apprehension and precaution was understandable.

"Cirno-nee couldn't go because she said that she and Chen were keeping an eye on the Kappa because of something-or-other under your instructions. Yukari wouldn't trust anyone else with this so she had Ran ask me to come here instead. I agreed because it has been a pretty slow week and I wanted a change of pace." Touya concluded before reaching into his pouch of holding and pulling out a sealed envelope.

"Ran asked me to give this to you personally and to not read any of the contents. I don't know what's going on but my intuition has been going nuts about what's inside that thing ever since I got it." Touya stated as he walked up to me and handed me the envelope. I took the envelope and felt that it roughly had ten or so sheets of paper inside it. It was also magically sealed to prevent anything from harming of tampering with the contents but Yukari apparently made sure that it was a seal that I knew how to remove. I removed the magic seal with a wave of my hand before opening the envelop and confirming its contents. I shoved it in my pocket before looking back at the young Hakurei.

"You did not think of opening the letter and checking the contents? You should already be skilled enough to remove and re-apply the seal Yukari placed on it without much trouble." I inquired, ignoring the surprised look from Louise. She must have been surprised that someone as young as Touya could remove and re-apply a magic seal that was made by Yukari. She didn't realize that the seal was something that anyone with the skill equivalent to her realm's triangle-class mage could handle. It was simply placed to make sure that the contents weren't damaged. Why such a rather lax way of sealing the envelope? Well, Touya answered that question for me.

"And have you, Yukari, Ran, and possibly Cirno-nee get angry at me for sticking my nose in something that didn't really involve me? No thanks. The reason why my intuition went bonkers was because whatever was in that envelope has some serious stuff in it." Touya explained as he placed his right hand on his hip while gesturing a dismissive wave with his left hand. I once again felt Louise tugging, on my sleeve this time, so I turned to her to be greeted by her unamused expression.

"What does he mean by that? You should already know, so out with it." Louise stated in a way that indicated that she wasn't going to allow me to dance around the issue.

"Yuka, has anyone ever told you how absolutely surreal this looks right now." Touya stated with a tone that was borderline awe. Louise and I looked at him then at each other then back at him.

"Yes, I suppose that this kind of scene is not what one would normally associate with me." I admitted with a shrug. I once again removed Louise's grabby hands before pulling out the envelope in question.

"In a way, Touya is correct when he said that he felt that the contents of this envelope were serious. Then again, the lauded intuition of the Hakurei is rarely wrong." I stated as I pulled out the contents and skimmed through them. I made a thoughtful hum when I confirmed what the contents actually were before turning to Louise who looked like she was about ready to snatch away the paper so she could take a look herself.

"Well?" Louise asked me impatiently. Touya looked just as interested as Louise was to find out what the contents of the envelope were but he was much more composed about it.

"This is a report that details Nitori's progress in analyzing Ruukoto's current capabilities and how we can maximize them." I stated as I read through another page.

"Ruukoto?" Touya asked in confusion. Ah, yes. It was understandable that he wouldn't know anything about the gynoid since his own ancestor didn't even bother to look for it after it disappeared.

"The long and short of it is that Ruukoto was a gynoid that was once in the employ of Reimu Hakurei, your ancestor...and potentially your original." I stated the last part with a sly smile. Louise gave me a look of pure confusion while Touya gave me an irritated look before he roughly scratched his head with high right hand.

"Please don't bring that up again. My early years of dealing with incidents was a complete mess thanks to that stupid rumor." Touya weakly complained.

"What are you two talking about?" Louise inquired, those imaginary question marks over her head once again making their appearance.

"There was once a rumor that Touya was the reincarnation of the Strongest Shrine Maiden of Paradise, Hakurei Reimu. Thanks to that rumor, which was never proved or disproved because the Yama is extremely tight-lipped, Touya has had to relive a number of incidents that his ancestor once did." I explained, earning a groan from Touya while earning a 'what' from Louise. My master turned to the 'Shield' with a stunned expression.

"Really?" Was the only thing she could say after finding out about it.

"Seriously..." Touya confirmed with a feeble nod.

"I don't think that I'm the reincarnation of the honored Lady Reimu...at least I hope I'm not." Touya added while rubbing his chin with his right hand.

"Why not? I thought that you would be happy to find out that you were a legendary member of your family reborn." Louise asked Touya while mirroring his gesture of rubbing her chin with her hand.

"Because it feels weird! How would you feel if you found out that you could be the reincarnation of a man?" Touya posed the question to Louise. My master gave him a quizzical expression before humming thoughtfully. She then quickly grimaced and shook her head.

"I think I understand your apprehension to the concept." Louise responded with great effort as she and Touya shared nods of understanding. I sighed at how well the two of them seemed to be getting along with each other. I grinned and decided to take a page from Kirche and Yukari's books.

"Would the two of you like to know the contents of the report or are you two already content with whispering sweet nothings to each other?" I said before chuckling. The two young humans blinked at me before looking back at each other and predictably, especially when it comes to Louise, they both went crimson before stammering their own denials in the matter.

"Wh-wh-wh-what are you talking about, cheeky familiar? We're not giving any kind of nothings to each other!" Louise was the faster of the two when it came to denying it.

"That's right! We've only known each other for less than an hour! No way that we'd develop feelings for each other that fast!" Touya followed up with a more reasonable and logical denial, one that Louise agreed with if her enthused nods were to indicate.

"Relax, it was merely in jest." I responded with a dismissive wave of my hand. They both gave me irate looks but I merely ignored them in favor of reading Nitori's report.

"It seems that this report that Nitori provided details the weapons and abilities that Ruukoto currently has access to." I started before moving on to read another page.

"How does that help us? If it's things that Ruukoto can already use, can't she just tell us how they work?" Louise asked. I glanced at her and raised a brow when she referred to Ruukoto as a 'she' instead of an 'it'. It appears that my master was starting to humanize the gynoid like Reimu once did. The thought made me give out a ghost of a smile.

"While you statement is true, it also helps to have documentation of those things on hand. Ruukoto will not always be able to explain exactly what its capabilites are capable of and there is also the possibility that we might not understand its explanations in the way it intended. If it helps, you can simply think of this as a primer, or a guide to your gynoid's capabilites." I explained before lightly tapping the sheets of paper in my right hand with the back of my left hand.

"And? I'm assuming since you're saying it like that, then all that stuff must be really good." Touya was the one that spoke this time as he walked up to stand at Louise's side before they both stared at me in anticipation.

"That goes without saying since Nitori herself was the one who made this report. Of course, your profound grasp of the obvious is also most appreciated." I snarked a bit more than I should have. If Touya took offence to it, he didn't let it show. I decided to continue with the explanation after I determined that there wouldn't be any further comments.

"To elaborate my answer to your question, the report gives insights on how each of Ruukoto's available weapons, equipment, and abilities work. In addition it gives suggestions on how to best utilize them on their own or in tandem with other weapons or abilities. Also, and likely most importantly, it provides specifics on the limitations of each of them." I explained while flipping through a few more pages. I glanced at my master when she made a rather displeased sound and saw that she had an equally displeased expression.

"Hm? Is something wrong?" I inquired and it seemed that Touya was wondering the same thing.

"You're going to make me read through and memorize every bit of of that report so I can be a more effective master for Ruukoto, aren't you?" Louise grimly postulated as she took my assessment of Nitori's report to its logical conclusion. I gave her line of thinking a thoughtful hum before pursing my lips and responding.

"Normally, that would be the most ideal course of action. Unfortunately, as you should be well aware of, we do not have the leisure of time for you to learn everything in this report. Instead I will simply provide the most important bits of information that would be needed for you to be able to effectively command Ruukoto. We can wait until the defense of Tarbes is over before you need to go over the fine details of this report, hopefully Matilda would have returned by then." I answered. Louise nodded in understanding but it was Touya who gave me a shocked expression this time.

"Wait...what do you mean by the defense of Tarbes?" The Shield asked with a steadily worried tone, his intuition at work I assumed. Of course he wouldn't know anything about that. I was about to give him vague hints about the situation and gently tell him that it wasn't any of his business but Louise answered first.

"There is a very large and very dense magical anomaly that is moving towards a village where the family of a friend is residing in. We believe that the anomaly is being caused by a large invasion force made up of an armada of magical flying battleships and the like. We are going there soon to try to defend that place and to try to repel the invaders if possible." Louise answered in a grave voice that carried the full weight of what was about to happen and what it could mean to a lot of people. Touya's eyes went wide before giving an angered growl and balling his hands into fists and giving me a determined look. This could be a problem if I don't deal with it now...

"Yuka Kazami! I-" Touya started but I cut him off with a raised hand and a firm voice.

"Stay your hand Shield of the Eastern Wonderland!" My voice bellowed, stopping Touya's declaration before it got any steam. That was close. Any more and he could have declared a magical oath to either me or Louise. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what for.

"But I-" I once again cut off Touya's words before it got anywhere by firing tiny energy bullet from my left index finger. It missed of course but it was close enough for the young man to feel it pass by the side of his head. Touya set his jaw and glared at me for what I did and Louise didn't look any happier either.

"Yuka! What the founder do you think you're doing?" Louise screamed at me as she tried to use her body weight to pull down my left arm which was still outstretched since I was still aiming my finger at Touya.

"Making sure that the young man over there doesn't make any rash decisions that he might end up regretting later." I stated as I ignored Louise's labored attempts to pull my arm down while Touya narrowed his eyes at my words.

"Why? There are people who need help! If I-" I once again stopped his words with another energy bullet, one that was aimed between his eyes this time. Touya managed to deflect it with one of his knuckle dusters which he quickly equipped after my first shot.

"Stop it Yuka!" Louise screamed out of desperation as she continued her futile attempts to make me cease my actions.

"This is an incident in Louise's realm, not Gensokyo. Therefore, this is something that only we can deal with." I clearly and coldly stated to both of them. Louise stopped her attempts to pull my arm down and merely looked at me in confusion.

"Even so..." Touya weakly muttered as he looked down on the ground, finally understanding why I didn't want him involved.

"Gensokyo needs you more than Halkeginia does, Shield of the Eastern Wonderland. Stay with the realm you are meant to protect." I told him solemnly before finally lowering my left arm. Touya looked at me as if he wanted to protest but shook his head instead.

"I understand..." Touya finally relented before looking at my master with a helpless expression.

"I...I wish there was a way I could help...I always hated this feeling..." He said with a sad smile while shaking his head.

"Wha-what are you talking about?" Louise asked worriedly as she watched Touya remove his knuckle dusters and put them in his pouch of holding. I chose to remain silent to allow him to let it out of his system.

"To have the power to help but being unable to..." Touya answered with a sigh. And that was one of the reasons why others think that Touya could be Reimu's reincarnation. They held similar values and beliefs...even though Touya manifested that way of thinking much earlier than Reimu did. I thought about the Shield's words and hummed when an idea struck.

"That...might not be the case, Touya Hakurei." I muttered loud enough to catch the attention of both humans.

"Would you be willing to indulge me with a few rounds of Danmaku?" I asked with a grin.

"A Danmaku Battle? At a time like this?" The Shield asked skeptically at the sudden request for a duel.

"Yes. I want to show Louise what a real Danmaku Battle is like as an example. Cirno and I had an impromptu one when she tested to see if I really was who I claimed to be. However, it wasn't set up to the standard rules and so Louise never got the opportunity to appreciate it." I explained with a warm smile.

"Okay...but why?" Louise was the one who asked this time.

"Think of it as part of your training. We have already covered everything that Cirno left behind as homework while she is gone and we don't have time to teach you anything new. Lacking any other options I thought it would be nice for you to witness a Danmaku Battle between me and Touya. After all, it's not every day that the two of us get a chance to duel." I answered, enticing Louise at the prospect of witnessing a magic battle unlike anything she has ever witnessed before, and enticing Touya with a chance to test his skill against someone who has dueled with his family for generations and pushed each and every one of them to the limits of their abilities. I smiled when I saw Touya look at me with a familiar glint in his eye.

"Okay, I'm game." The Shield of the Eastern Wonderland confidently stated as he fished out his knuckle dusters from his pouch along with the Hakurei Yin-Yang Balls. Louise didn't realize it then since she still looked apprehensive at the idea, but she was in for a show of a lifetime.


"So..." Louise muttered as she clung to me. We were headed to Tarbes at reasonable speeds with Ruukoto and Siesta trailing behind us. I say reasonable because it was the fastest speed we could go that was safe for Louise and Siesta, even with the very minor and very basic protection spell I put on them before we left.

What can I say, I've never had any use for protection spells so I never really bothered to learn stronger ones.

Tabitha and the rest will be catching up but I don't expect them to arrive until right before the sparks start flying.

"So..." I replied, not really bothering to add anything because there was little else to say until we reach Ruukoto's hangar.

"So...what's the plan again?" Derf repeated and tacked on a question from where it was strapped on Louise's back. I thought about it for a moment before piecing together a rough outline on what we plan to do.

"We will first head to Ruukoto's hangar. It has equipment that it wants to retrieve which it believes would be very useful in the upcoming battle. That done, we will head to Tarbes and assess the situation before forming a defensive perimiter. The size and scope will depend on what Ruukoto finds out about that anomaly. It is possible that I may end up engaging the anomaly directly but I will refrain from doing so until it becomes a clear and present danger to Tarbes and its people." I outlined our current strategy. The sword laughed before sighing.

"Wow...that's acutally a pretty solid strategy. How did you come up with it?" The sword asked me. I chuckled at the insinuation that I was the one who came up with the idea before shaking my head.

"I didn't come up with it, Tabitha did." I admitted without shame. I wasn't really a stickler for strategy and tactics and the like considering my primary style at fighting. The only stratagems that I knew of were from what I read in books and what I saw in movies and I highly doubt that any of them would be effective in a real battle with our current layout. That being said, Tabitha and Ruukoto put their heads together and came up with a number to plans to deal with the eventualities that we were most likely to deal with. The sword made a thoughtful hum but didn't say anything more so I guessed that its curiosity was already sated.

"How is that even possible...?" Louise muttered under her breath. I raised a brow at her words and glanced at her. Her expression was serious and she looked like she was thinking about something intently.

"Louise?" I called out to my master in curiosity as to what she could be thinking about. Louise knitted her brows a bit before pursing her lips and responding.

"How was he able to get past that pattern? There weren't any visible gaps so how did he know that a hole would open up in the place that it did?" Louise asked more to herself than to anyone else. So she was still thinking about that exhibition that Touya and I did in Mugenkan. It was actually a pretty standard duel. Five Spell-Card and Five Non-Spell-Card patterns each. The first to run out or the first to get his loses. It ended up as my victory on our fourth Spell-Card patterns but Touya wasn't really taking it as seriously as he could. He kept glancing at where Louise was, protected by one of his Dual-Barriers, and was making sure that no stray shots were getting close to her. In hindsight, he was asking for it after doing something as silly as that in the middle of a Danmaku Battle with me of all people.

"It was actually a skill that anyone with enough experience with Danmaku Battles can learn. In fact, Cirno and I have been trying to teach you that skill little by little." I pointed out to my master and she looked at me with a raised brow.

"What do you mean by that?" Louise asked me.

"It can be called spatial awareness or more commonly known as 'focus'. It is the concept of observing the Danmaku Field at large instead of only looking at the nearest ones that are about to hit you. By looking at the field at large you get an idea of how the pattern is formed and a general idea on how the projectiles will move. It is incredibly useful when facing dense patterns because it gives you precious seconds to decide where you need to go to avoid getting hit." I explained the most tried and tested method of being able to dodge danmaku back in Gensokyo.

"That does sound useful...and I've started to do that too?" Louise inquired with keen interest in her eyes.

"Yes, the fact that you detected and intercepted the knife that Wardes threw at Prince Wales was all the proof you need. You still need more practice and experience but you're getting there." I said with a smile before tilting my head to the side and glancing up...I had forgotten something.

"Yuka?" Louise called out to me when she noticed what I was doing. I shook my head and sighed when I remembered what it was.

"I was just remembering a limitation that the focus system had." I answered, which earned a few blinks of confusion from my master.

"You see, the more you use focus, the more you get used to dealing with large quantities of projectiles. However, those masses of projectiles usually all travel in a straight line. They might be aimed or angled differently from each other, but they all travel in a straight line or at the most...a gentle arc. Do it enough and your body tends to respond to any projectile the same way...even if it doesn't end up behaving the way you anticipated." I started to explain.

"What do you mean by 'not behaving the way you anticipated'?" Louise voiced her confusion.

"There was once a time where a certain monk who was sealed for a long long time and her followers started an incident. As per-usual, Reimu and two others went off to deal with them, however...they had a little surprise waiting for them." I started telling Louise about the Unidentified Fantastic Object incident...well, the battles that ensued anyway.

"The monk and her followers took advantage of the focus system and made projectiles that completely messed with the way that Reimu and her companions usually deal with Danmaku Battles. They used those damnable curving beams." I stated with mild amusement. I actually lauded the way Hijiri and her followers managed to give Reimu, Marisa, and Sanae such a hard time simply by changing the way their danmaku behaved. It was brilliant in its simplicity.

"Curving beams?" Louise repeated in question form.

"Think about it this way...a beam of light was headed right at you in diagonally down from the right, what would you do to avoid it?" I asked my master, who considered it for a few moments before replying.

"Go up and left?" She answered hesitantly.

"Normally, that would be correct and would have been your automatic reaction of you have been using focus. However, the monk played this to her advantage. Instead of heading in a straight line, the beam of light would curve up and left instead of maintaining its initial course of down and left." The revalation of this concept made Louise gasp for good reason.

"But that means that it would hit you!" Louise stated the obvious.

"Indeed. Reimu and her companions had a particularly hard time dealing with the monk because of that little adjustment in her patterns. Do you know how they managed to overcome it?" I asked Louise considered the question before squinting and nodding to herself.

"Through brute force?" She postulated and I couldn't help but laugh a bit.

"That was part of how Marisa dealt with it but it wasn't the whole thing. Instead of relying on focus, they were forced to start doing something that they have been avoiding through most of their time doing Danmaku Battles. They did it by focusing on only a very small portion of the field, usually only the immediate area around them. It made it harder for them to deal with regular patterns but it was extremely effective against the curving beams." I explained tha breakthrough that Reimu came up with, partly thanks to her uncanny intuition again.

"So which method is better?" Louise asked the logical question.

"Both are useful in their own way. The trick is to be able to know when to use which method of dodging the patterns." I answered with a smile. Louise looked up to the clear blue sky to consider my words before nodding in agreement.

"I have a long way to go..." She said with a wry smile and a shake of her head.

"That you do...but you will have me and Cirno right there with you. Additionally, you probably won't have to deal with foes that could do what that monk was able to." I admonished her with a chuckle that she went along with.


"This reminds me..." I muttered as Ruukoto and I touched down in front of its hangar. I let the gynoid take the lead in the final leg of the flight because of the simple fact that it knew the exact location of its home base from the air and I didn't. I put Louise down and she, along with Ruukoto and Siesta, looked at me curiously...well, as curiously as Ruukoto could look anyway. I ran the thought in my head one more time to make sure that I wasn't about to say something stupid.

"...is it wise for you to leave your hangar like this now that it no longer has that protection enchantment on it? Someone might be able to open it and take all the goodies inside if they stumble here." I pointed out as I walked past them and opened the hangar door wide enough for us to enter. I turned back to where they were and saw that Ruukoto had its head tilted to the side while streams of light ran across its eyes. Siesta seemed to have taken this chance for another visit to her great grandfather's grave and Louise joined her when she offered a prayer to the grave.

"Fuga. Fuga." Ruukoto finally stated with a shake of its head. So it's not worried about any new intruders because there are extensive automatic defense systems, lethal and non-lethal, set up all over the place starting from halfway into the cave network we went in from. I made a thoughtful hum at the gynoid's words before raising a brow.

"Hang on. If this place has automated defense systems, why didn't they activate when we arrived here?" I asked it while folding my arms and leaning back.

"Fuga." They gynoid responded with a shrug that lacked any feeling.

"That makes sense..." I heard Siesta comment from a distance. Ruukoto and I turned to where she was and saw her approaching us along with Louise.

"What makes sense?" My master asked Siesta as the two of them stood in front of us.

"Mister Yuka was asking Ruukoto why the defenses here didn't start when we made our way here. Ruukoto responded by pointing out that there was no reason to activate them because the protection enchantment on her hangar was in place." Siesta provided. I idly wondered if it was simply easier for her and Louise to humanize Ruukoto instead of treating it as an object since even she was starting to give it a female pronoun.

"And you didn't think that someone who could break the enchantment would come along?" I asked a follow-up question. The fact that Louise was able to use dispell to break the protection enchantment proved that it was possible to get past it.

"Fuga." Ruukoto disagreed with a shake of her head, its words held some weight of certainty in them as well.

"What did Ruukoto say?" The only one in our current party who can't understand the gynoid asked me. I turned to my master and scratched the side of my head before answering.

"Ruukoto said that there was no way for anyone to be able to get past its hangar's protection spell because there was no terrestrial magic active at the time that can do so." I told Louise before turning back to the gynoid with narrowed eyes.

"Now the question becomes, how were you so sure about that point? In fact I have a better question, who placed the enchantment on the hangar in the first place?" I asked the gynoid, one of the questions I managed to overlook because of everything else that was happening at the time.

"What are you getting at, Yuka?" Louise asked me in a slightly worried tone while Siesta stayed quiet but started to look uncomfortable. I assumed that they both asked themselves the same questions I did and didn't like the answer they got...or the lack thereof.

"Something that I should have considered when we first got here. Ruukoto could not have set up that protection enchantment since it should have already been sealed up and frozen. Even if it was frozen after the enchantment was set up, the kind of magic that made up that enchantment is not part of Ruukoto's repertoire. It couldn't have been Siesta's great grandfather because, if it was, then her bloodline should have active magicians and I can assure you that Siesta herself does not have any potential for magic and by extention, her family as well." I laid out the various components of the point I was trying to make.

"Whoever set up that enchantment should have also known that there wasn't any kind of magic that could break it...other than Void. If he or she or it was certain of that, then it would have been a magician of substantial power and knowledge. So? Who was it?" I continued with the million kanmon question while narrowing my eyes at the gynoid. Louise and Siesta stared between me and Ruukoto. To everyone's surprise, even me, Ruukoto's body shimmered white again before it blinked to reveal the telltale blue eyes of its 'White Noise' mode. I wondered why it thought it neccessary for it to use one of its special abilities when it gave me a ghost of a smile before placing its right index finger in front of its lips.

"Classified Information." Was all it said before it reverted back to its regular mode. Well, that was certainly unexpected. The three of us merely looked at the gynoid as it casually walked into its hangar.

"What was that all about?" Louise asked as she and Siesta walked up to me.

"I'm not sure. However, it seems that Ruukoto is bent on keeping that information a secret." I answered before glancing between the interior of the hangar and Louise.

"Although, if you order it to reveal what it knows, there is a chance that it might tell you since you are its master now." I pointed out as we walked into Ruukoto's hangar. I looked around for the gynoid and saw that it had its hand pressed against some sort of control panel as holographic screens flickered on an off in front of it.

"No...whoever did it probably had a good reason for wanting it to be kept a secret. If it was someone who was able to wield such magic, then we'd better leave it alone...we don't really need any more people for you to fight." Louise reasoned. I smiled and nodded in agreement. At least she didn't have a penchant for actively looking for incidents to get herself involved it. On the flip-side, it just meant that trouble has a way of finding her instead.

"As you wish. After all, we have more pressing matters to deal with anyway. Have you found what you needed?" I asked the gynoid as we walked up to it. Ruukoto didn't turn to regard our presence as it continued whatever it was doing. I head Louise make a thoughtful hum when Ruukoto did not respond to us.

"What are you doing Ruukoto?" She asked the gynoid directly. The flashing displays paused for a moment before resuming again.

"Fuga. Fuga." The gynoid responded after another few seconds. Well, I believe that we established that Ruukoto likes Louise more than it does me. Louise glanced at both me and Siesta as she waited for someone to translate for her. The maid and I looked at each other for a moment before I smiled and gestured for her to translate.

"Ruukoto seems to be checking the sensors she has here for any more information about that anomaly before we leave this place. She's also preparing the 'G-Wing Type-Zero' and 'Arondight' for equipping and is also preparing something for us as well. She says that it will make things easier once everything starts." Siesta translated Ruukoto's explanation. Whatever it was preparing, it was doing it thoroughly so I trusted its judgement and waited.

We all turned when we heard the whine of moving machinery and the hiss of compressed gas being expelled. Part of the floor some distance behind us rose up to reveal some sort of storage device roughly the size of a large bookcase. A smaller, but similar looking device, rose up beside it but only went up to half the height of the first one, making it look more like a large table instead.

"Fuga." Ruukoto said, requesting us to follow it, as it walked up to the newly revealed devices.

"She's asking us to follow her." Siesta whispered to Louise. My master nodded before glancing at me and walking a few steps behind her gynoid. Ruukoto stopped in front of the smaller device first before placing its hand a few inches above it. A holographic display appeared in front of it before disappearing. The device made another whining noise as it opened up to reveal several small tan-colored devices. The gynoid picked up one of the things with its fingers before showing it to us.

"Fuga. Fuga." Ruukoto explained, earning a gasp from Siesta and a smile from me. I maintained my smile as I turned to Louise who was eagerly anticipating a translation.

"What Ruukoto has there is a very small and very powerful dimensional transceiver, affectionately known as the 'Hey-Listen'." I decided to elaborate on the definition of the device after seeing the imaginary question marks on my master's head again.

"A transceiver is a device that allows people to communicate over long distances as if they were right next to each other. Ruukoto says that these ones have a maximum range of twenty-five hundred feet and uses the same technology as the nano-machines that your blood stream has. That means that the possibility of their transmissions being interrupted is very near impossible." I explained as Louise gazed at the device in Ruukoto's fingertips, likely wondering how such things were possible and what it could mean for us.

"How do they work?" Louise asked Ruukoto. I decided that it was easier to simply show her instead of giving a lecture about it.

"Ruukoto, could you hand me one of those and help Louise put on the one in your hand?" I asked Ruukoto and it obliged by tossing me one of the 'Hey-Listen'. I placed the device inside my left ear and walked away from the three of them. Once I was at a far corner of the hangar and once I saw that Ruukoto managed to get Louise to put on the 'Hey-Listen' without hurting her, I tapped on the device in my ear and thought of Louise.

'Louise? Louise? Can you hear me?' I called out and fought down the urge to snicker when Louise jumped in surprise. She looked around and Ruukoto had to explain what was going on and how to use the tranceiver, with Siesta acting as its translator. After a while, she finally got around to pressing on the device, which was in her right ear. I raised a brow when Louise suddenly crouched down while looking around suspiciously.

'This is Snake...' Louise finally responded in a raspy voice. Snake? Where have I heard that name before? I shook the thought away and tapped the device again.

'Snake? Louise, are you alright?' I asked her. My question made Louise jump up in surprise before she hesitantly tapped the 'Hey-Listen'.

'Wha! I can hear you so clearly! But you're so far away!' She said in awe as she looked at me from where she, Siesta, and Ruukoto were.

'Yes, this is what the device is for. To provide a means of communicating in long distances. It should prove useful if we ever have to split up our forces.' I told her as I started walking back to where they were.

'Ruukoto said that there was enough of these things available for all of us.' Louise pointed out through the 'Hey-Listen' even though I was already standing in front of her.

"Louise, I'm right in front of you. There's no need to use that thing if we are within speaking distance." I pointed out while folding my arms and leaning back. Louise blinked at me before staring at her right hand and putting it down.

"Sorry, I'm not used to this yet. How did you know how to use it anyway? Ruukoto never gave you any instructions for it." Louise asked me as she idly rubbed the 'Hey-Listen' that was still in her right ear.

"That goes back to the time when the Lunarians invaded. Yukari set up the defenses so that everyone can communicate with one another through magic. Unfortunately, the Lunarians anticipated that and sent out devices designed to interfere with magic-based communications. Fortunately, Sanae anticipated that and had Nitori and the Kappa distribute devices similar to these so we could all still communicate with one another through long distances. I simply hoped that these ones worked in a similar manner." I explained while tapping on my ear piece. Although, the fact that the Moriya Shrine managed to commission the Kappa to make so many of those things suggested that they have been making those for some time...likely for some sort of Moriya Shrine Conspiracy that never got off the ground. Or did it?

"Now then, I assume that the rest of the equipment you came here for is stored there?" I asked the gynoid as I pointed at the larger storage device. Ruukoto nodded and walked over to the other storage device after storing the rest of the 'Hey-Listen' in the pockets of its maid uniform. It placed its hand in front of the storage device and it displayed its own holographic display before opening. Ruukoto reached in and pulled out a green orb roughly the size of a basketball before pressing it against its chest. The orb glowed bright green before getting absorbed into the gynoid's body.

"Fuga." It declared before reaching back into the storage device. Siesta was explaining to Louise that the emerald orb was the main component for its 'G-Wing Type-Zero' when Ruukoto pulled out something that looked like a sword...one that was folded in the middle.

"Fuga." Ruukoto said, it wanted us to step back. Siesta and I obliged while pulling Louise back as well. The gynoid held the sword's grip, that had a simple handguard on it, before flicking it in its hand slightly that made the sword unfold which made it twice as long as it already was.

The sword was made out of some blue metal substance that I did not recognize. The whole thing was around three-and-a-half meters long once unfolded and it looked single-edged. I say 'looked' because, aside from the tip that had a distinct metal edge that extended down from the tip for about two feet before it stopped. The rest of what the single-edge should have been was just empty space, the other side was just the blue metal that did not have an edge and looked more like it was there to support the rest of the construct. The empty space extended from the hand grip all the way up to where the metal tip started. I was about to ask Ruukoto what purpose that blade was supposed to have when the sword gave of a soft pink glow. I blinked a few times when the empty space was suddenly filled with that same pink energy. I see...it wasn't that the sword did not have an edge, it was just that its edge was an energy blade.

"Fuga." Ruukoto said as it introduced us to its Anti-Material Sword 'Arondight'. It did a couple of practice swings with it, the sword making a low humming sound as it cut through the air.

"Watch where you're swinging that thing!" Louise yelled out from behind me. I turned to her and saw that she and Siesta took several steps back after they saw Ruukoto activate its weapon.

"Fuga." Ruukoto pointed out. It assured us that it knew exactly where its sword was in three-dimensional space at any given time it was synchronized with the rest of its systems while it held it. The gynoid gave its weapon one more look before dismissing the energy blade that made up the sword's edge and folding it up again. It hefted the sword onto its back where it vanished into its body like the green orb did.

"Fuga." Ruukoto declared as it assured us that all its preparations for battle were complete, excellent I nodded before turning to Louise and Siesta.

"Ruukoto's preparations are complete and we are ready to head to Tarbes itself. I hope the others arrive before we have to fight so we can teach them how to use the 'Hey-Listen' and go over our strategies one more time." I told them as Ruukoto allowed the storage devices to sink back into the floor.

"The Steel Goddess has returned to once again protect Tarbes..." Siesta muttered in a voice of awe. She was correct, I suppose.

"Then we'd better make sure that Ruukoto lives up to her reputation!" Louise declared as she pumped her right fist in the air, psyching herself up for what was to come.


I took a deep breath as I stood at the edge of Tarbes in the direction where the anomaly was coming from. I could smell it. It was faint and almost unnoticeable because of the relative distance and the wind...but it was there.

Death was in the air.

"Can you sense it, buddy?" Derf asked from where it was strapped on Louise's back, piping up for the first time since it asked me about our strategy on Tarbes' defense.

Speaking of Tarbes, the good news was that Princess Henrietta already released an official order for the people to evacuate until further notice. The new governor of Tarbes, a man that went by the name 'Michaelo Strum de la Constantine', was quick to act upon it and evacuations were quickly facilitated by the local government.

The bad news was that Lord Constantine only recieved the order to evacuate ten hours ago and, despite the speed that the local officials displayed in trying to enact the order, most of the residents of Tarbes were still here. Apparently, the natives didn't really appreciate being told to leave the homes and go to a refugee camp a very long distance away with 'Official Royal Edict' as the only reason.

Siesta left our party as soon as we arrived and was helping her family evacuate, hopefully she would be able to convince them to leave with little trouble. Ruukoto was above Tarbes, roughly around fifteen-thousand feet in the air to be able to better track the anomaly and to immediately spot any new developments from it. The G-Wing Type-Zero equipment was apparently a nano-machine-based flight system that took the form of two large white feathered wings. Siesta's and Louise's jaws dropped when they first saw it...the fact that individual feathers flew out on occassion -only to dissolve into nothingness a second later- whenever it flapped its wings added to the effect. I was starting to understand why the locals called Ruukoto 'The Steel Goddess'. That aside, the new equipment let Ruukoto's flight potential match mine which made its flight range, speed, and mobility comparable to that of a highly trained Tengu's.

"Sense what? The anomaly?" Louise asked as she turned her head to the sword on her back. The six-thousand year old sword have a bark of a laugh before answering.

"Little missy, if Yuka over there can sense what I can...then that anomaly is the least of our worries." Derf criptically said. It did nothing to ease Louise's worry and she turned to me with an expression that showed it. I glanced at her then back out to the distance.

"You can sense it too?" I asked the sword. I almost felt sorry for ignoring my master but I was curious as to why Derf seemed to have been able to sense something out there.

"There's some majorly baaad juju out there, Brudda'..." The sword replied. 'Bad Juju'? That was a rather odd term.

"Please. Someone. Make sense. That is all I ask." Louise bit out in sentence fragments that reflected her frustration in being left out of the loop again. I pointed out to the distance in the direction where the anomaly was coming from.

"There be dragons. And death. And hostile magic. And bad juju, as Derf put it." I said in same sentence fragment format that Louise did. My master hit my other arm with the back of her hand and gave me a scowl.

"That's not funny." Louise stated in a voice that clearly showed that she was scared. She has been in life threatening situations more than once in this realm and has even felt what death would likely feel like in Mugenkan. Louise has a strong will and a determined mind, but she is still prone to worrying about the prospect of death when it was still looming at a distance. If she ever gets used to that feeling...then I was doing something wrong if she was still facing those situations regularly.

"No...for humans, I guess it isn't." I responded and the two of us, plus Derf, stood in silence until I heard the flapping of a familiar pair of wings.

'Fuga.' Ruukoto spoke to me from the 'Hey-Listen' that was still in my ear. I smiled when the gynoid confirmed what I thought I heard. Ruukoto didn't tell Louise because my master wouldn't have understood what it said anyway.

"It appears that reinforcements have arrived." I idly said as I turned around and saw the approaching silhouette of Tabitha's drake, Sylphid. Louise squinted, as if the act would allow her sight range to increase. It took her about another minute to finally see them using her human vision but the Ruukoto decided to report in another bit of news.

'Fuga. Fuga.' Ruukoto apparently detected a detachment of ground forces coming from within Tristain and was quickly making their way to Tarbes, Estimated Time of Arrival was tee-minus seventy minutes. In addition, one of the lead units was female was a riding a white Unicorn.

Princess Henrietta...

That was a complication that should have been expected. The fact that she let out an evacuation order proves that they knew about the magical anomaly that was approaching and it all but proved that it was the Albion Armada. I watched Louise as she ran to where Sylphid was touching down and made sure that she was out of earshot before contacting Ruukoto.

'Ruukoto, please get down here. Louise's friends have arrived and I want them to have their own dimensional tranceivers and be able to use them effectively.' I said before walking to where Louise was being hugged to oblivion by Kirche again. The sudden shift from hostility to affection between them, or at least from Kirche's side, reminded me of Kaguya's relationship with Mokou after they finally got over that childish feud of theirs.

"Lemme go Kirche! I can't breathe!" Louise protested as she valiantly failed to get the larger Germanian girl to release her.

"Only if you say please~" Kirche playfully said as she continued to smother Louise between her large tracts of land.

"Please!" Louise immediately yelled out, foregoing her personal pride of saying the word 'please' to her long-time rival in favor of being able to breathe normally again.

"Too late~! Changed my mind~! Too bad~! So sad~!" Kirche happily said as she continued her full-blown assault on my master. The whole situation reminded me of that time when Yuyuko became obsessively affectionate towards Mystia. To this day, I still don't get how or why that whole thing even happened.

Everyone froze when a sudden gust of wind blew into them from above. They all looked up to the source and various degrees of gaping in shock occurred. Guiche and Monmon instinctively held onto one another at the sight. Kirche slacked her grip of Louise just enough for the poor girl to be able to breathe again but she still didn稚 let go of my master. Tabitha blinked several times before tilting her head to the side and blinking a few more times, Sylphid very carefully moved behind her master and crouched as if doing so would conceal herself. Ruukoto dismissed their shock altogether and simply did a graceful landing in front of us, dispersing some nano-machine feathers in the process, before deactivating its wings in a flash of white light and absorbing it into its body. Predictably, it was Monmon who reacted first.

"What the founder was that?" Louise's closest friend yelled out, still clinging onto Guiche.

"I believe that it was Ruukoto who had pure white wings...I remember her talking about it when we first found her but..." Guiche muttered. I was unsure if his awe was caused by the act of Ruukoto landing in front of them or if it was because of the surprising grace by which the gynoid excecuted the maneuver. A short moment passed before the two of them blinked before looking at each other and their current position relative to each other. Monmon pushed away from Guiche and turned away from him, her cheeks as red as Louise's gets whenever she gets really embarrassed. I decided to blow through the awkward silence between the couple that still won't get back together because Monmon was still cautious of Guiche and answer the girl's question.

"Ruukoto picked up some equipment back in its hangar that it believes would help in the upcoming confrontation, as per our rough plan for dealing with this." I explained for the benefit of those who just showed up and to give Monmon and Guiche time to recompose themselves.

"We have a plan?" Kirche asked me, proving that she wasn't really listening to the plan when we all met in Louise's room before leaving for Tarbes.

"Yes. We. Have. A. Plan!" Louise bit out before she finally managed to get free of Kirche's grasp. My master quickly trotted to where I was and securely put me between her and the Germanian.

"Awww~! Don't be like that my little Louise~" Kirche teased but her demeanor, along with the silly atmosphere, dissolved when I felt a massive magic spike along with hostile intent coming from my master.

"Don't you dare call me that...no one calls me that..." Louise stated in a very cold tone which did little to mask the promise of violence if her warning went unheeded.

"Lou-" I cut off Kirche's words with a shake of my head. I turned to my master and knelt in front of her to be able to look straight into her eyes. There, I saw it as clear as day...what she kept buried within her...she hasn't completely recovered from what happened in Albion.

"Louise. Louise. Louise. Come back to us, Louise." I calmly and clearly called out to Louise. I repeated her name and the request for her to come back to us because her cognative mind was somewhere far away inside her head at that time...likely replaying the events of that incident. I learned how to do this from Undonge after she accidentally mind blasted Cirno during a danmaku battle between the two of us. My former student was observing our duel and wandered way too close to be able to figure out the trick behind the moon rabbit's vanishing bullets.

"Lou-" My continuous call to my master was cut off when she practially jumped me and wrapped her arms around my neck as she clung onto me like a vice.

"Help me...help me...it hurts...it hurts...Chii-nee-sama...I'm scared...save me...Chii-nee-sama..." Louise whispered against my ear as she continued to cling to me. I blinked and narrowed my eyes when I noticed that her entire body was shaking.

"Fuga!" Ruukoto exclaimed in the very first instance when I saw the gynoid sound genuinely alarmed. It was concerned that Louise's heart rate, blood pressure, and brain waves were starting to match those of a human who was suffering from severe emotional shock. Considering how my master looked at the moment, it didn't really take much for anyone to draw similar conclusions.

"Wh-wh-what happened to Louise?" Guiche worriedly asked as he started to walk toward us. He was stopped in his tracks when Tabitha used her staff to block his advance. The blue-haired girl had put her book away and looked hard at Guiche before shaking her head.

"If anyone has any idea on how to deal with this, please voice your suggestion now." I stated since Louise wasn't showing any signs of recovering on her own and I had no idea how to help someone with emotional damage. I suppressed a grimace when no one responded to my words, even Ruukoto did not have anything.

"Stay there, put your arms around her, tell her that she's safe here and that everything will be alright." Our resident talking magical sword suddenly suggested when it partially came out of its scabbard on Louise's back.

"Will such a thing work?" I asked the blade as the current positioning made us face each other. My words carried uncertainty and a sense of concern that would not have normally been associated with me.

"It worked when Sasha had to do it for Brimir. It was at a time when the guy was a complete mess after being forced to lose one of his familiars to accomplish a certain something. I'll tell you two about it later. For now, try it on the little miss there...it won't hurt to try." Derf explained after giving one of its sword shrugs. I wasn't particularly interested in the events of the life of Brimir, but knowing more about the originator of Void magic could unravel more Void spells for Louise to use. I tucked that little tidbit away for a later time, Matilda might be able to glean things off of a history lesson about Brimir from Derf. I decided to follow the sword's advice due to the lack of any others and held Louise in an embrace, ignoring the fact that Derf was still strapped to her back.

I took a deep breath before I started saying more things that I have never said to a human before.

"It will be alright, Louise..." I whispered as I gently stroked her strawberry-blonde hair with my right hand.

"You are safe here. No one will harm you so long as I am here. Everything will be fine..." I whispered with much less effort than I had originally expected. I had originally assumed that I had to put significant conscious effort in telling Louise those things because I was not someone who says such words for the sake of another.

Kurumi, Elly, Yukari, Reika, Reimu, Marisa, Cirno, and everyone else who has come and gone or come and stayed in my life in Gensokyo...none have heard such words from me. I mentally sighed when I realized that I was thinking about this too much. I chalked it up to simply another one of those changes in my life that I had originally desired before I came to this realm...before this girl called me here and changed my life. There was a brief flash of realization when I idly thought about leaving Louise and going back to Gensokyo.

It was then that I finally understood that thing that was nagging me before...that compulsion for me to do whatever was needed for Louise's sake. There was magic coming from the 'Gandalfr' runes that was trying to change my mindset into that of one who would be utterly loyal to my master. I mentally snorted at the attempt by the ancient magic before squashing it with my own magical power. Everything happened internally so the only visible sign of what happened was a soft glow from my left hand before it died down. The runes were still there and I was still bound to Louise, but that annoying compulsion spell that Brimir put had been obliterated completely.

That was why I was curious as to why the feeling I had did not change. The compulsion spell had already been destroyed and there were no lingering traces of it to affect me in any way...but I still had that overwhelming desire to take care of this little human. Curious. Most curious.

"Yu-Yuka...?" Louise hesitantly whispered without moving from her position. I was thankful that she stopped shaking though.

"I'm here...you are safe, Louise." I replied with my own whisper. I felt her arms weakly try to tighten her grip around my neck after I said that.

"I'm still a failure...even something as silly as that was able to break me..." Louise bitterly stated to me as she buried her face in the crook of my neck. I ignored the wetness I felt on my neck, likely from Louise's tears, when I sensed her friends approaching.

"You are not a failure. This is simply one of those things that we need to overcome." I responded and Louise tightened her grip on me.

"Louise?" Monmon called out to her friend. I turned to them and saw that everyone, even Ruukoto and Sylphid, were upon us with worried expressions...which was quite the feat for Tabitha and Ruukoto.

"Viscount Wardes...he used to call me his 'Little Louise' all the time..." My master suddenly stated in a subdued voice. The statement both explained the reasoning for her earlier reaction to Kirche as well as earning gasps of surprise from her friends.

"Oh Louise! I'm sorry!" Kirche suddenly exclaimed as she knelt next to Louise and pressed her head against my master in a gesture of affection. It seemed that the Germanian's earlier words of wanting to truly become friends with my master were genuine. Louise did not move but she did not reject the redhead's words and gesture either. It did not take long for her other friends to join in for an impromptu group hug...even Ruukoto and Sylphid joined in too, which was why we were covered in darkness thanks to the blue drake's wings for the next while.

If this moment did not convince Louise that she was no longer alone...nothing would have.


'Kirche! Stop doing that!'

'I was just making sure that it works~'

'Then talk instead of moaning my name!'

I sighed and scratched my head as Louise and Kirche continued to test the limits of the 'Hey-Listen'. Ruukoto gave each of them one and I helped teach them how to use the tiny devices, all of them managed to grasp the concept on how to use the devices in short order. There was just one problem...

'My dear Montmorency~! Please! I implore you! Give me what trials you wish! I would move the twin moons themselves in order to earn your heart back! Plaese my Montmorency!'

'Stop hawking me, Guiche! This isn't the time for your hollow declarations!'

'It is all true! Please believe me! I have seen the light of truth and found only you would complete me!'

Aside from me, Ruukoto, and Tabitha, everyone only had the focus to use the 'Hey-Listen' in one way...Open Broadcast to all Channels. It also didn't help that they were all standing within a twenty feet from one another so there was no real need to use the 'Hey-Listen' at all. Ruukoto had resumed its vigil up in high-altitude to monitor the situation so no one could get the jump on us. Tabitha was beside me and Sylphid was taking a nap under a tree nearby. The noise generated by her friends didn't seem to bother Tabitha as she continued to read her current book. I supposed that the young Gallian was simply used to such disturbances from her friends. I, on the other hand, was not as patient.

'Ruukoto, is there any way for you to filter out broadcasts from the tranceivers that were not meant for those who were hearing them aside from the intended recipient?' I asked Ruukoto via my own transceiver. I got a response a few seconds later, just not from Ruukoto.

'Seconding request.' Tabitha stated curtly before cutting off her transmission. It would appear that Tabitha was not as patient as I thought, she was only better at hiding her displeasure than I was.

'Fuga Fuga. Fuga Fuga.' Ruukoto replied about a minute later. It was quickly followed up by a transmission from Tabitha to me personally. We were right next to each other so there was no real need, but I supposed that it was just her practicing to use the 'Hey-Listen' properly.

'Halkeginian.' Tabitha told me through her transceiver before turning a page on her book. She didn't even glance at me and simply waited for my response. Such a calm but focused sense of self was rare for one her age but it was why she was the strongest member of Louise's little circle of friends when it came to conventional magic. I wondered for a moment what circumstances made Tabitha turn out in such a way before translating Ruukoto's answer.

"Ruukoto stated that it is possible to fine tune the transmission protocols for the 'Hey-Listen' that we are using. It is currently working on remotely setting them so they will only broadcast to the person who the source wanted to speak to the most. It will make trying to broadcast messages to everyone at once more difficult but it will try to balance out the settings. It says that it will be done in fifteen minutes. Also, it seems that we will have visual contact of Princess Henrietta and two battalions of Tristain's knights coming in that direction in the next five minutes." I translated Ruukoto's report in normal speech while pointing to the horizon where Henrietta and her troops will be coming from. Ruukoto stated that additional ground forces are mobilizing but will take several hours to arrive. It also pointed out the complete lack of aerial units from any of the forces being deployed to Tarbes. That was strange considering that our standing theory was that whatever was headed here was airborne. I glanced back at Tabitha and saw that the girl had put her book away for now and was looking right at me.

"Yes?" I asked Tabitha after a few moments of silence. Tabitha narrowed her eyes at me before answering.

"Tell Louise about Princess?" The Gallian asked me. Ah...that was what she was concerned about. I thought about it for a second before shrugging.

"As much as I would like to keep Louise away from Henrietta, I doubt that my master will be able to miss an approaching army. Even if she did, Kirche or someone else will point it out. And I'm sure that Henrietta would come after Louise as soon as she sees her old friend. That reminds me..." I trailed off before tapping on my 'Hey-Listen'.

'Ruukoto, make an effort to avoid revealing yourself to any member of the Tristain Armed Forces unless absolutely neccessary. You are still largely a legend and I want to keep it that way lest we want Louise to end up in the front line of every conflict this country finds itself in simply because of what we are and what she can do.' I told the gynoid. I don't even want to know what the Princess would end up asking of Louise if she ever found out that my master had somehow bound the local pagan goddess -even if it really wasn't a divine being at all- to her service.

'Maintain your altitude and continue to provide overwatch surveillance for us.' I added. I couldn't believe that I would end up using those military lingos that I picked up from watching those action movies that Elly liked so much.

'Fuga?' Ruukoto asked me what it should do if and when hostilities commenced between us and the oncoming anomaly. I turned back to Tabitha, who had listened in on my instructions to the gynoid.

"Ruukoto is asking what it should do when the fun starts since it won't be able to simply fly in as my number two for reasons you should have overheard. Any suggestions?" I asked the Gallian. Tabitha rubbed her chin for a few moments and squinted, the only indications that she was thinking the issue through.

"Long range support and logistics only. Emergency surprise element in case of worse case scenario." Tabitha concluded with a nod. I agreed with her suggestion and tapped on my 'Hey-Listen'.

'We still want you up there even after the fireworks start. If you have any long range weapons, use them to provide fire support and provide logistics for us in case we get any surprises. Only come in to intercept if either Louise or I specifically command you to or if you determine from above that the situation is no longer salvagable.' I relayed Tabitha's suggestion to the gynoid.

'Fuga?' Ruukoto followed up with a question that made me unconsciously give one of 'those' smiles.

'If the worse case happens, all weapons free. Louise and her friends will be our priority. Flatten everyone else to tries to stop us from getting them to safety.' I answered before looking back in the direction where Henrietta's army finally became visible to the naked eye. The young woman's pure white Unicorn in contrast to her regular officers' more bland looking steeds made the Princess stick out like a sore thumb. Someone needs to tell her something about common sense on the battlefield.

'Fuga. Fuga.' The gynoid acknowledged the revision of its objectives. It suggested that it can convert its R-Cannon for accurate long-range artillery purposes in exchange for some raw damage and firing rate.

'Do it. I doubt we will face anything here that will be as tough as what that weapon was originally designed to kill.' I stated and got a 'Fuga' of acknowledgement. I looked back to the oncoming Tristain army and sighed.

"Bad Juju..." Tabitha muttered the odd term that Derf previously used. Nonetheless, it voiced the bad feeling I was starting to have as well.

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