Return to Mokuren

He found her while he was cleaning the tentacled, non-euclidean mess that was the Hakurei Shrine’s store room.

Her eyes were closed as if in a peaceful sleep, her soft face smooth as ever, as if time could not touch her beauty. Her silken green hair laid streaming against other useless junk, her outfit was as clean as new.

So... Pretty...

Then be blinked himself out of stupor, and his next question was what’s a girl doing in Reimu’s storeroom?

He decided that the most important thing was to drag her out of that mess. Fifteen minutes later, after much tugging and pushing, he managed to barely get her to the door.

“Holy cosplaying Jesus on an Otacon fair, she’s heavy!”, as a matter of fact, she was way too heavy to be a normal human. She wasn’t even breathing, which made everything even more suspicious. I’ve seen this scene already, he thought, there’s something I should check, but I’m sure that if I get my hands anywhere near to her chest, Reimu’s going to “casually” pass by and think I’m a pervert.

The second later, he remembered about his Gender Distortion Field permanent effect, and started a full-body inspection.

“Aha!” he said after discovering something curious on the upper side of her back. “Let’s see... Made in Japan, Product ID 200-1832-76-980, recyclable material, Warning: nuclear reactor inside, report for periodical check to your closest Smart Brain retailer every 500 years, do not abandon carelessly in shrine storerooms”.

Pause. Blinking ensued.

“I wonder if she still works?”, and he started pressing random portions of her skin, looking for some kind of switch, hoping she wasn’t some sort of special-series chobit with embarassing switch placements.

A subtle whirring sound came in response to one of the random spots he pressed, picking up as if all the systems inside her were coming back to life. She slowly opened her eyes, they were the same shade of green as her hair, they were a bit strange at first, they were clearly artificial (unlike the rest of her) from up close, but once they locked on him, it was more like a dream. A fanboy’s dream.

Of course our hero, Mokuren, had a strong mecha musume fetish.

She stood up, then remained immobile for a second, then she tried to clean her maid’s outfit free of all the dust; after such simple processes were done, she gave Mokuren a merry smile.

“Question. Are you my master?”

Say yes, say yes, say yes! the fanboy inside him cried.

“Yes”, he answered, thanks man!

“Very well, my new master. My name is Ruukoto, robot maid at your service”, she made an elegant bow and put up a heartwarming smile, “I remember this to be a familiar place, is my previous master deceased?”

“Uh... No”, she must mean Reimu, did she have a robot maid? Why didn’t she use it, then? “She’s still alive, you can meet her if you want. Actually, I think you should”.

“As you wish, my master. Feel free to command me”.

Must... Avoid... Nosebleed... he thought while bolstering his will to avoid losing blood for real, he really ought to talk to Reimu about this, especially the part where there was a nuclear reactor in the Hakurei Shrine.

“Oh, that Ruukoto”, Reimu simply said when questioned, “I wanted her to help with the chores, but then I forgot about something and it was a bother to get her back online, so I just left her in the storeroom”

How can you be so cold to such a cute girl?, “Well... I agreed to be her master for the time being, if you don’t mind me to”

“Oh, I don’t mind. By the way...”, she turned to Mokuren, interrupting her writing (calligraphy exercies? Was Reimu that much old-school miko?), “I think I came up with a way to speed your danmaku learning”

“Oh?”, he blinked. Any shortcut was good, “What should I do?”

“Well, in short, there’s two ways for human beings to acquire enough power to be on youkai level. The first is being a natural like me, which you obviously aren’t. The second is dig you nose in magic all day long and steal what you can’t acquire; and since we’re going to face tough odds, you’ll be needing to go heavy on cheat codes”

Stealing precious things too, maybe? Sorry, that’s too dangerous, “What am I supposed to do?”

“Well, Marisa’s away... But this is good since she probably wouldn’t want to teach you if she was there”, she nodded sagely, as if contemplating a well laid-out plan, “Well, you go in Marisa’s house while she’s not there and try to learn something out of her books and stuff”

Pause ensued; a spring breeze was moving dust and spreading leaves in the fresh air of silent embarass.

“So...”, he asked, as if both wanting and fearing explaination, “I should barge in Marisa’s house and steal her books?”

“Not steal, just read, you don’t have to take them away. I think she wouldn’t like it, anyways”

She’ll kill me, you dummy, you can’t be serious, but he actually knew she was, “Well... Thanks for the advice. I guess I can have Genji carry me since I don’t know the way?”

“Sure, consider him your personal vehicle until you learn to fly on your own”

“Vehicle...”, he sighed, “Well, thanks, Reimu”, he then turned to Ruukoto, flashing a smile, “Shall we go, then?”

“Yes, master”

Well, he thought, if I’m going to die, at least I’ll die happy.

Genji knew the way until the Forest of Magic, but not really which was Marisa’s house. Fine enough, he thought, it’s not like it’s going to be thriving with activity anyways, he thought.

So, he landed in front of a fancy cottage, built like one of these beautiful country houses from renaissance romance movies, chirping of birds and many flowers included. As a matter of fact, there were flowers and they were also very well-kept; this should have rung an alarm in Mokuren’s head, but it went absolutely unnoticed, like many alarms do in his head.

“So... This must be the place”, he stared at the door, then glanced at Ruukoto. The maid could of course fly, Mokuren was probably the only idiot in Gensokyo that couldn’t. Rinnosuke aside, but being at the same level as Rinnosuke wasn’t really making him feel better.

“It would be most kind to knock first, master”

He nodded and knocked at the door. This way, if she was inside, she may not have master sparked him on sight. Maybe.

No answer came at first, but then the door timidly opened to reveal a cozy interior that warmed the heart, So... Pretty... Wish I had a home like this.

The one who opened the door, however, was about fourty centimeters tall and fluttering with small wings, she smiled adorably as she saw Mokuren, but said nothing.

Wait, he thought, what is this? How did it get into Marisa’s house?

The fluttering girl motioned for Mokuren and Ruukoto to enter, going as far as pulling him by the sleeves. The inside was even cozier than it looked, it was clean, well-kept and colorful; it also had many dolls, some finished and some unfinished, and many pretty clothes. For dolls.

The... Doll that greeted them and pulled them in was wearing black, and it was quickly joined by another dressed in red with blond hair, both seemed pretty happy to have visitors, in spite they were completely unexpected and uninvited, I don’t like where this is going, he thought as he smiled back to appear friendly, whenever stranger girls are acting well and pretty in Gensokyo, it either means they plan to eat you or there’s a big misunderstanding. In either case, it’s no good.

When the flying dolls brought him in the living room, he knew he was toast. There was a young girl sleeping on a table, with a half-done doll gown just nearby; her blonde hair and her blue and white outfits were unmistakeable. And she sure as hell wasn’t Marisa.

The two dolls motioned for him to approach her, the red one was pulling his sleeve while the black one was kicking the girl’s head to wake her up. “Uh... I really don’t think you should...”, but it was too late, she was waking up already. He glanced at Ruukoto, looking for a sign of... Anything. Approval, disapproval, help... But she simply smiled and followed along, of course, she’s not a fully independent robot, he figured. And why did these dolls want him to meet her anyways.

“Uhn...”, she slowly blinked herself awake, still drowsy for the interrupted nap, she tried to focus her eyes on the newcomer, and noticed it was an unfamiliar shape. She then rubbed her eyes to get a better view and tried to look again.

“Ah... Hello”, Mokuren said, giving his friendliest smile.

Three, two, one...

“AAAIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!”, the girl fell over her chair, pointing a shaky finger at Mokuren, “M-m-m-MEIMU!!”

“Ah ah ah ah...”, he laughed passionlessly, “excuse me but wtf r u doin?”

She was trying hard to catch her breath, whatever she saw in him, it must’ve been damn scary, “M... You’re not... Meimu...?”, she didn’t look so sure herself, “W-who are you? How did you get in?”, she glanced at her dolls, which waved merrily at her, pointing at the intruder.

“Ah... I was looking for Marisa’s house, but your dolls dragged me in for some reason”, he smiled in embarass, “I’m sorry to have scared you... My name is Mokuren, I am a temporary assistant miko at the Hakurei Shrine”, he bowed deeply, “Pleased to meet you”.

She still looked rather shocked, but her breath was becoming regular, she took a handkerchief from her pocket to dry the corners of her mouth, “Oh... Mokuren? Assistant miko? Well, whatever”, she sighed, then gave her dolls a stern look, “Shanghai, Hourai, what did you bring her in for? I don’t like to be disturbed”.

Absolutely ignoring the scolding, Shanghai decided to climb on Mokuren’s head, and Hourai started pulling the girl’s hand towards the miko, “Wha- Wait, no!”, she said, pulling her hand away, but in the end sighing at her dolls’ stubborness, “Well, I guess I can’t blame you for this situation. Since you introduced yourself, I shall do the same”, she took a deep breath and composed herself, “I am Alice Margatroid. Now please leave my house”.

“Yes, sure”, he nodded, “On a side note... I was actually looking for Marisa’s house, but must have got the directions wrong. Could you help me out?”

“Of course, Marisa...”, she paused, blinking, “... Marisa?”, she paused, and must have seen something she didn’t like in Mokuren’s smile, for she crossed her arms and looked away, “... Marisa? Why should I tell you? If you can’t get the directions right, you don’t deserve to meet her anyways”

“Well...”, he scratched his head, “Actually, Reimu never gave them to me, she just told me to go visit her”, he turned to the robot maid, “Ruukoto, do you know the way to Marisa’s house?”

“I do not remember the exact directions”, she promptly answered, “My memory has slightly deteriorated after being abandoned in the storeroom from my former mistress”

Good, he then turned to Alice, Well, at least she didn’t eat me, “Well, Alice, thanks for your comprehension... I’ll be visiting Marisa now. Sorry for intruding”.

“Yeah, yeah”, she said sighing, but as soon as Mokuren was about to leave, she burst out with a “... Why are you looking for Marisa, anyways?”

“Oh”, he smiled, “I’m trying to have her teach me danmaku”

Silence, long stares.

“... Come again?”

“I’m trying to learn danmaku. Reimu said that Marisa could probably teach me”

Silence, longer stares.

“... Are you human?”

“... Yes”

“... And you want to learn danmaku?”

“... Yes”

Pause. “Why?”

He opened his mouth as if to answer, but then closed it, taking some time to actually think, “Long story or short story?”

“Short one please”

“Yukari kidnapped me”

Shanghai was having one big world of fun in undoing and re-tying Mokuren’s back ribbon, she seemed to really enjoy toying with his hair, Hourai was more worried about pulling her mistress’ sleeve and somehow make her have a bit more human contact, which she evidently needed.

“... The not-long-but-somewhat-longer-than-this story?”

Mokuren nodded, “I come from the other side of the Hakurei border, Yukari is responsible for my being here; I would like to find a way to get back, but it seems Yukari is pulling a very odd prank and there might be troubles in getting her cooperate. Since I have to survive as long as I stay here and I am supposed to help in... Convincing her of my needs, I have to learn danmaku”, he tried to stress the have to part as much as he could, “It’d just be wrong if I were unable to fire danmaku while stranded in Gensokyo, I’m having enough problems with this little already, I risked getting eaten once and was almost blown to pieces very recently”

Alice tried to get a hold of her head as if the torrent of words could blow it away, “I see... You’re the sort that just can’t mind her own business, are you?”, she sighed, “So, Reimu told you to ask Marisa”, she paused, “Wait, you know both of them?”

Mokuren nodded.

“And you get to hang out with them, too?”

He nodded again.

“... But surely...”

“Marisa is such a good girl, too”, he added, “She’s a bit of a tomboy, but she’s adorable when she has that roguish grin, I look so forward to spend more time with her”.

A long pause ensued, that’s it, he thought, now she’ll either kill me or stick close to prevent me from stealing her Marisa away. Of course, he hoped for the latter.

“... Heh, as if you could understand Marisa so well”, she chuckled as if there was something to brag about, “I’ve been with her longer than you, there’s no way you know who the real Marisa is. I’m sure she has absolutely no interest in a weakling such as you; please save your time and give up already”

Hah! Score! He thought with a devilish, inner grin, “Still, my determination is strong and my need is just as strong. I must have somebody to teach me, or I will learn myself, but I have to learn and have some sort of master. And Reimu is too lazy to”

“Marisa is not the teacher you are looking for”

“She’s human, and she has learned her powers like I’m trying to. Everybody has to start from somewhere”

“Well, look for another one”

“The only other is Reimu, and she’s a natural, she can’t teach me”

It was clear she couldn’t budge him from his task, at which point she gave him a cold glare, “Very well then... But don’t say I didn’t warn you”

Comes out that Alice and Marisa didn’t really live that far off from each other; of course Mokuren knew that black’n’whitey wasn’t there, but he had to play dumb. Also, the situation was getting pretty merry, with Shanghai, Hourai and Ruukoto playing together while flying (and only after Ruukoto was given explicit permission; Mokuren still didn’t get used to the fact she was a robot).

“It’s a... Big doll you have”

“It’s a robot”, Mokuren explained, “It was Reimu’s, but she neglected it and I became her master. I’m still getting used to the fact she won’t do anything unless I tell her so...”

For a moment, Alice showed something that looked like empathy through her eyes, but it was quickly hidden, “Well, independent dolls are the peak of a puppeteer’s skill, an amateur like you certainly cannot reach it, especially considering you still can’t fire danmaku”

Mokuren nodded, “Yesterday I was pretty close, thought, but my sword got ganked away and... Well, I still can’t access my inner power, so once I’m disarmed, I’m sort of toast”

“You shouldn’t go tell your weak points around”

He chuckled, “Weak point? I got kicked by Lily White, let’s be serious... You don’t need to know my weak point to pwn me”

They landed, and of course Marisa’s house was empty, and nobody answered their knocks.

“Well, duh, looks like she’s out”, was Mokuren’s innocent comment.

“Tough luck”, Alice sighed, and looked at Mokuren, “Well... Looks like your training will have to wait”.

“Oh well, I’ll try to wait for a while to see if she gets back”, he drew his sword, he tapped on the gem, and was filled with that fuzzy sensation that fused with him; he didn’t need to keep touching it to keep contact now, just grasping the hilt was enough, “May be a good time to see if I can get to fire something myself”

“Oh, please take your time”.

So, Alice sat down near the entrance, the two dolls and the robot were becoming friends, and Mokuren was focusing, trying not to giggle at his devilish plan, Alice x Marisa is my favorite couple, he thought, I’m so looking forward to see some hot yuri action... Oh boy, why isn’t Marisa back already?

In the end thought, he had to try focus, so he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

The feelings were pretty different, the theme was “control” this time, he almost felt the strings of a puppeteer around himself and Alice. Upon further examination, he almost felt some faint, red strings actually connecting from them to their respective dolls; Alice’s strings were stronger but also softer, while Mokuren had... Strange, glowing greenish strings that didn’t even look physical.

There was also another link, a flickering golden string, between him and Alice; it was extremely unstable, as if not completely ready, and sometimes it changed color without warning, but it was there. This has to mean something, is this how a newborn relationship looks?

It was all peaceful in a way, the three artificial friends a growth of merry, colorful strings interlacing with each other. Strings, colorful strings.

He felt a slight wind picking up around him as he concentrated his mind and magical energies; the sword was helping him out much more than it previously did, he could now clearly feel the flow of magical energy, the same way he felt Lily’s spring joy.

Strings, he thought, and tried to mix Lily’s feelings with that. Streams resulted, and he focused on that.

Streams, he thought, and knew it couldn’t cut it.

Lazer, he thought, since laser is not difficult.

He opened his eyes and noticed there was an actualy visual display of his own power; eerie blue and white lights were dancing lazily around him, as if recollecting against tough odds and only with the great aid of his sword; a fickle blue and black/red aura was flaming at his feet, it radiated no heat but created a vague circle around him.

Moku-beeeeeeam! He mentally shouted while aiming for a safe spot up in the sky.

Four semi-ethereal blue and white streaks of energy darted across and around his sword, shotting out from the tip. Control, his sword let to him, and he focused on the energy beams, making them twirl and change direction; it was very tough, and eventually he lost control and they dissipated in the air.

“Oh. Homing lasers. Not bad for an amateur”, said Alice, looking up from her book with as much of an unimpressed face as possible, “Still too slow and unaccurate to actually hit something”.

“Well, considering it’s the first time I can shoot something, I’m pretty satisfied already”, and he indeed was satisfied. Now he could shoot Lily White down before she could knock him out again!

... Well, except she’s going to hit me a hundred times before I get these things close to her, he realized.

So, he tried again, and a Moku-beeeeeeeam! later, a more solid and compact energy beam shot from the tip of his blade, drawing a red and yellow straight line to the sky.

Wow. Lazer is really not difficult.

“Say, Meimu”, Meimu?, “How come you live with Reimu?”

“Mh, long story”, he wasn’t losing his focus in spite he wasn’t putting all his mind into it, it was getting easier by the moment, “I befriended a youkai and had her carry me there. It was the closest place from where I was”

“Did you meet Marisa there?”

“Yes”, he smiled, “It’s thanks to her if I’m not Reimu’s food. Humans don’t usually eat each other, but Reimu looked like she would that time”.

“Oh”, for some reason, Alice looked more relaxed from these news, I won’t steal her from you, don’t worry, I hate to split couples, he thought, as if mentally comforting her, Besides, there’s way more than a couple with Marisa, she keeps on stealing precious things everywhere.

“I remember the first time she tried to give me a lesson”, he chuckled, “I didn’t even have this sword, so I couldn’t summon any magic power at all. Yet she wanted me to do a master spark. I guess she was just trying to brag”.

“Oh, there’s no way you could ever do a master spark”, she smiled, “Seeing the troubles you have with something as trivial as ordinary danmaku. They’re not even much of a barrage”.

“I’m still trying to learn single shots well, I can’t fire dozens at a time yet”.

So he kept practicing for a while, shooting single lasers, twin lasers, homing lasers, but being absolutely unable to shoot ordinary bullets, I guess they’re not that easy, I can only manage to focus and release for now, only thing that can come out is a laser. But hey, it’s one hell of a progress.

Maybe he could stand a chance against Cirno now?

Eventually, a witch flying on a broom landed in the proximity; or rather, right in front of her house.

“Yo, Meimu!”, she promptly said. Why Meimu? Why did she start doing so just now, too?

“Ah! Marisa!”, Alice promptly stood up to her feet, her dolls following, “I... Er...”

“Oh, if it’s not Alice, what are you doing here?”, she smiled that roguish smile that said who cares, I’m so cool I can handle anything at any time, “What are you both doing here, ze?”

“Reimu said to ask you to teach me danmaku”, he paused, “Well, I was supposed to barge in your house and borrow books, but I thought it would’ve been nicer to wait for you”

“Why, why, good Meimu! You’re so clever, ze!”, and she patted him on the head.

Alice, of course, was as red as red could ever be perceived by the human retin. A bit more red and she would have gone in the infrared, outside the perception range of the human retin, “Hey, thanks Mari”, he answered, unintentionally tipping Alice’s berserk gauge higher.

“W-Well, since I have things to do, I’ll be leaving!”, Alice snap closed her book and turned to leave, “Huh? Going already?” asked Marisa, not feeling the hunch.

Ouch, no! I have to repair! “Well, Alice, things are becoming interesting only just now, could you please stay a little bit longer? It’d be a pity if you left now that Marisa came...”

“I-I didn’t come to see her! I... I just showed you the way”, she nodded as if to convince herself, “Yes, that’s it”. The two dolls looked at each other and sighed.

“Yeah, do you want to test Meimu’s progresses? I’m not bad as a teacher, but you can give it a try if you want”, Marisa’s words couldn’t have been any charming at all, but her face and smile... Oh boy, here’s the heartstealer witch.

“Uh... N-no”, Alice crossed her arms, “She’s just an amateur, my precious skills would be wasted on the likes of her”.

“Well, I’m ready for a bit of test”, Meimu Mokuren let a couple, skilled practice swings with his sword, and then set it towards Marisa with a friendly smile, “Just remember I just learned to shoot, I still can’t fly and all, so try to go easy on m-”


When both the flash and the boom dissipated, Mokuren was standing at the beginning of a long line of turned earth and shattered trees; he was of course blackened like a bomb exploded in front of him. He was of course not moving at all, not able to move, and too shocked to realize he was supposed to fall on his back, barrier jacket or not.

“Ooops”, said Marisa, as if the shadow of doubt crossed her mind for a moment, “Did I overdo it, ze?”

Alice blinked, then looked at Marisa. Her mind was like an open book, it read: Rival gone, proceed to objective. “Well, she got the lesson she wanted, now mind if we go in? It’s getting a bit cold outside...”

“Are you ok, master?”, asked Ruukoto with a slight hint of worry in her voice, Alice’s dolls too went to check on him, and even looked more worried than the robot maid.

“... cough... “, was his answer.

“Sure, let’s go in, I’ll make some tea”, Marisa offered, “Meimu! You come in, too!”.

This, Alice didn’t like, but at least she got to enter before Meimu Mokuren did, and close the door behind herself.

“... Ruukoto?”

“Yes, master?”

“... Can you... Please... Clean me a bit?”

“Gladly, master”

As the ash and dust was getting blown off of him, he started to feel sensitivity come back to his body; laser is motherfucking difficult, he thought.

Return to Mokuren

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