Drunkard's Walk Forums

Full Version: [IC][Story][Arc 1] Reach for the Moon
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
OOC: Rob's sidestory #5, set after "Thermal, er, Culture Shock"
OOC: WARNING: This story has spoilers for the collaborative Halloween story that is still being written... although anyone who's been reading the OOC threads already knows them.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 4, 2016
10:46 pm

As he was getting ready for bed, Rob heard a voice coming from outside - a voice he'd never heard before. "Let us in! It's cold outside! Don't make us freeze out here!" Of course he had to answer that call, he thought as he put his shirt back on. He wasn't so heartless as to let somebody freeze out here... there.

Then he stopped as he saw some words written in big unfriendly letters, apparently hanging in the air. "WARNING! Your nanoswarm has detected that your mind is being influenced telepathically!"

'All right,' thought Rob, 'that's something Washuu-chan didn't warn me about. As for the telepath, he can freeze in the dark for all I care.' Then he heard footsteps in the hallway. Grabbing his keys, he stepped into the hall, to find Ruiko walking toward the front door. "Rui-chan! No! We're being mind controlled!"

She stopped just before touching the door. "We are?"

"We are. Step away from the door. Now."

She did, and then she dropped to her knees in fright. Rob noticed that the voice was no longer whispering in his head ... as he heard the back door being opened.


"Wow, you can shout loud."

A pyjama-clad Kuroko appeared in front of them, having teleported to the lobby. "What's the situation?"

"Mind control to get somebody to open a door and let whoever-they-are inside. Back door's been opened. You're in charge until Mikoto or Usagi are up. Ruiko and I are running for the sparring room."

"Thank you for getting out of our way." Kuroko teleported away.

10:52 pm

The door to the sparring room was located in the basement, between the laundry room and the storage lockers. The sparring room itself was located in a pocket dimension, created by Washuu-chan - and could be sealed off from the rest of the building so that any attacks inside the room wouldn't damage the building.

Or, in this case, so that any attacks in the rest of the building wouldn't hurt the people inside the sparring room - three humans and three cats.

"Rob, what's going on? How did you know this was an attack?" the youngest cat asked.

"Well, Diana, before you showed up here, Washuu-chan re-built my nervous system. Tonight I discovered she slipped in a defense program that helps me resist mind control."

Chibi-Usa's eyes went wide. "She can do that?"

"She's the greatest scientific genius in the universe; just ask her. Of course she can do that." Luna didn't sound particularly happy.

"Yeah. What else did she slip into my head while she was at it?"

Ruiko put her hand on Rob's shoulder. "We'll get Uiharu-san and Mizuno-san to look at you when all of this is over."

"Yeah. And you're as nervous as I am."

"What? No, I'm not!"

Artemis jumped onto Ruiko's lap. "You slipped back into old habits, calling Kazari-san and Ami by their family names. You're nervous."

Just then, they heard a knocking at the door - one knock, a pause, two quick knocks, another pause, then the pattern repeated. Rob stood up, walked to the door, and asked, "Who's there?"

"The Big Bad Wolf."

He sighed in relief, then unsealed and unlocked the door, opening it to reveal Makoto. "What happened?"

"Mii-san opened the back door and let in a half-dozen people, who shifted into some things that I've never seen before when they saw me coming down the back stairs. Rob... she didn't run away from them."

"Oh, no."

"I kept them from hurting her too badly, but Ami's busy performing first aid. They lost interest in her when I zapped one of them with a Supreme Thunder."

"Oh, good," Ruiko breathed.

"Then they came after me. They'd almost reached me when Usagi hit them with a Moon Sprial Heart Attack from behind me. They collapsed and turned into dust."

"So, we've got some new kind of youma or daimon or droid or something to worry about - one that has telepathic abilities."

Rob shook his head. "Not necessarily, Artemis. They could be some sort of attack drones sent by somebody else."

"They targeted Sailor Jupiter as soon as she made herself known."

"That could mean they wanted magic, not necessarily a Senshi. But that's something to figure out later. Right now, I need to call Washuu-chan and get her here to help Ami treat Mii."

To be continued...

BAD WOLF ... and someone needs a doctor.
OOC: Intriguing guess... but that was a red herring. (BA knows what they're from - I sent him a PM before writing this - but he's the only one.)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 4, 2016
10:52 pm
(direct continuation of the previous scene, with input from BlackAeronaut)

Rob's cellphone rang - the special ringtone he'd associated with Ben's number in San Antonio. He answered on speakerphone so he'd have his hands free, just in case.

"Rob, everything okay there? Something pinged the Good Neighbor system and I wanted to be sure before we all went in, guns blazing."

"I was just about to call. We need a medic, now! Mii's hurt. Everything else is under control."

"Right - Washuu-chan's on her way. Do you have time to give me a situation report?"

"Not yet, except to say somebody attacked us and we've ... defeated them. I was in our bolthole, so I need to debrief the girls to find out just what happened. I'll send a report back with Washuu-chan."

"Should I alert the other complexes?"

"It's too soon to tell. No, go ahead - but just DEFCON 4. We'll stay at 3 until we've confirmed it's safe, then drop to 4."

"Right. I'll do that while you find out what the hell happened. I'll call you later."

"Thanks. 'Bye."

Ruiko looked at Rob, puzzled. "Good Neighbor system?"

"The sensor system that Washuu-chan created to alert Westwood about problems at other buildings, so they could send in the cavalry when necessary. You helped Kazari install it last month, remember?"

"Oh, that's what that was. Okay." Just then, the door to Washuu-chan's lab appeared on the wall opposite the laundry room.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 5, 2016
12:01 am

Rob cleared his throat. "Are we all safe?"

"I've communed with the sacred fire, and sense no further attacks tonight or tomorrow. But I have very little wood prepared to burn in a sacred fire, so I can't say anything about tomorrow night."

"Thank you, Rei."

"I have the Good Neighbor system reporting to my laptop as well as Washuu-chan's system in Texas. If anything does happen despite Rei-san's divination, I'll know about it."

"Thank you, Kazari. We should have that display running full-time on a dedicated monitor in the common room, for when Hino-san isn't available. I'll go buy a Raspberry Pi and a monitor when the stores open - the common room's router's still got a port open." Rob paused for a moment, and continued in a more serious tone. "Washuu-chan, how's Mii?"

"She didn't take any major organ damage. She's going to be fine, but I wouldn't recommend any martial arts or crop-tops for a while. She lost a lot of blood and tissue."

Rob smiled in relief at Washuu's words, then went back to looking serious. "How long is 'a while'? Mii uses a striking style of some sort when she fights."

"She could be up and around after getting a good night's sleep, but the artificial muscles will take another day to sync with her natural musculature. Call it a day and a half to be safe." Washuu looked at Ami as she said that last sentence.

"Wow," Mikoto muttered. "Even that frog-faced doctor back in Academy City can't heal somebody that fast."

Kuroko stood up and turned toward the door to Mii's apartment, then stopped. "Why did you say Konori-sempai shouldn't wear a crop top? I've never seen her wear a bare midriff outfit other than a swimsuit, so it shouldn't matter for a while, but that was an odd choice of words."

"Oh, I didn't have any artificial skin ready in her skin colour. There's a few pale areas on her torso where the attackers bit her, but they'll go away as her natural skin grows into place. Knowing the winters here, nobody'll see her stomach and thighs anyway until she's ready to not bundle up next spring, and she'll be fully healed by then."

"Unless she's sharing a bath with us -- wait, 'bit her'?" Kuroko teleported directly in front of Washuu. "Somebody bit Konori-sempai?"

"You're too close. Multiple bites out of her flesh, which the attackers ate as far as I can tell from the DNA markers in the dust I sampled from the fight scene." Washuu looked gravely serious. "Yes. Whatever those attackers were, they have a taste for human flesh. And their DNA shows they're human."

Makoto shook her head. "I saw them transform into monsters. There's no way they were human."

"You transform into a magical girl, Kino-chan."

Rob held up his hand in a "stop" gesture. "Enough. We all know that people have been showing up here from various stories. What we need to do here is go through what we know and figure out which story the attackers came from. And I refuse to do that while I'm exhausted."

"Sometimes the best free associations are made when you're tired."

"And some of the worst free associations are made when you're tired, too. No, Washuu-chan, we need to get some sleep."

"I don't think I can sleep right now, Rob-san."

"That's up to you, Kazari. If you're going to stay up, could you do some research for me, please? We need a closed-circuit camera system watching the building's access points; if you could find some online, we can place an order in the morning. Anything else, anyone?" After a moment, Rob continued, "Then go get some sleep unless you have something more important to do."

After everyone else left the room - Kazari to do some product research, Kuroko and Mikoto to sit with Mii, and everyone else to try to get back to sleep, Washuu turned to Rob. "I can add a CCTV system to your Good Neighbor system before I go."

"Thanks, but I want Kazari to stay busy. If I could come up with things for the others to do, I'd keep them busy, too."

"There's a large blood stain near the back door that needs to be cleaned up."

"That's my responsibility. And my way to keep busy."

9:10 am

"Transformed?" Mii looked puzzled. "They didn't transform."

"But Makoto said she saw them change."

"I think I would have noticed if the people attacking me morphed into something else, Mikoto."

There was a knock at the door, and Minako walked in with a tray. "Washuu-chan said no solid food until lunchtime, so I brought you a small milk." She passed over a one-litre box of whole milk.

Mikoto sighed. "Minako, that isn't a small milk."

Mii smiled. "It is for me. Thank you, Minako."

Minako turned to Mikoto. "And I brought you some coconut water." She passed it over and kept a teacup for herself, leaning the tray against the closest wall.

"Hey, thanks!"

Minako took a sip of tea. "So, what's up?"

"Mii says the attackers didn't transform. Makoto says they did."

"Well, yes," Minako replied. "We know they had telepathic abilities."

"An illusion! Of course! I wonder which form was the real one. And why did Makoto see them change forms while I didn't? If they were controlling both of our senses, we should have seen the same thing."

They all thought for a moment. "Maybe..." Mikoto started.


"Maybe being a magical girl made the difference. The stories about our world -" she gestured to Mii and herself "- says espers and magicians interact with the world differently."

Minako nodded. "And they stopped attacking Mii as soon as they noticed Makoto. They've got to be some sort of magical beings, and they're attracted to our magic." She grabbed the tray and headed for the apartment door. "If I hurry, I can let Washuu-chan know before she leaves."

"She's already gone," Mii commented.

"Oh. Well, I'll let Rob know."

To be continued...
Pensacola Beach.
I woke to the phone ringing on my nightstand, Slapping it and sliding my fingers across the screen I answered, "Wolf"

"Situation in Ottawa," a familiar voice answered, "Security now at DefCon 4." it continued.

"Right Washu-chan," I answered. "Understood, we'll get sharp here." the phone clicked closed as i sat up on my bed and rubbed my hands across my face. "I hate when crap like this happens."
OOC: Sorry I didn't post an update to this story yesterday - I was re-reading the source material instead. (And that's your hint for the day.)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 5, 2016

Rob had wandered over to Bank Street and was walking north, trying to put the pieces together.

After Minako had told him her theory, he'd asked Makoto to tell him exactly what she'd seen. Her description was naggingly familiar - people who transformed into walking corpses, bloated as if they'd been dead for a while, but not for very long.

Rob knew that Makoto knew what a dead person looked like - her family had died in a plane crash. (Rob's mind went off on a tangent. Considering when and where Makoto came from, that had to have been JAL123 - hundreds dead, and only four survivors including a girl who would have been Makoto's age. But that survivor wasn't Makoto, and one of the other survivors was her mother ... but there was no reason the casualty list had to have been the same in her universe as it was in his. Then Rob realized his thoughts were running down a blind alley.) Yes, she knew what dead people looked like.

And they'd tried to eat Mii alive.

Zombies, needing the flesh of the living to sate the hunger of the undead? No, that didn't seem right. None of them had tried to eat her brain.

And they'd stopped their attack on Mii as soon as Makoto showed up. That was probably the only reason Mii was still alive. What made Makoto a more attractive target? Was it her magic, as he had suggested to Artemis the previous night, or was it because she was a fresh opponent who'd already shown herself to be dangerous?

Something didn't fit. But it should fit.

And why had he decided to walk instead of stay home to think? Early November in Ottawa is cold.

What was buried in his subconscious, and what was it trying to tell him?

And why did he think that walking into a Dairy Queen of all places was a good idea? Sure, he'd already wandered that far north, past Billings Bridge (both the mall and the bridge itself), but ice cream? Before lunch? In the middle of winter?

Then he noticed the car in the DQ's parking lot. The VW Beetle. The old-style VW Beetle.

Suddenly, everything fell into place. "Restless dead", not "undead", and it wasn't Makoto who'd caught their interest - it was Usagi. Or, rather, Sailor Moon. And that explained why they were there in the first place: they were attracted to the power of the Moon like moths to a flame.

As Rob went into the Dairy Queen, he wondered how long they'd been in Ottawa. Sure, the books said that they'd always been in Ottawa, but had they always been in Ottawa a week ago?

He ordered a burger and a strawberry shake. While they were being made, he looked at the tables and saw two women sitting at a table. One was blonde, with her hair in... a pixie cut? A bowl cut? A short bob, Rob finally decided; whatever it was, it didn't look like a professional cut. The other was a brunette with curly hair - big hair straight out of the late 1980s. And they appeared to be in their mid-twenties.

Rob nodded to himself once. They'd always been here, but they hadn't always been here a week ago. Ben's theory had another piece of supporting evidence.

The counter clerk passed Rob a tray. He took it and walked to the table beside the one the two young women were at. Being one table over, he couldn't help but overhear - especially considering he was eavesdropping on purpose.

"What happened to Lansdowne Park? What happened to the Fat Albert's? What's a Kettleman's?"

That's right - that restaurant was still a sub shop in the 1980s, not a bagel shop. And Lansdowne Park was still a park then, not a retail-and-condo development with a stadium. Rob didn't need any more evidence; he knew who they were. But addressing them by their names before he's given them a reason he knew them would be a bad idea.

He cleared his throat. "Miss, I couldn't help but overhear. What do you think today's date is?"

"October 15, 1988," the blonde replied.

"I have some disturbing news for the two of you. It's November 5, 2016."

"The three of us, but he doesn't need ta know that." He didn't see who'd said that, but he heard the comment.

"And that comment confirms my hunch. I can't see your faerie friend, but I heard him, possibly because I've been living with mages for a couple of months."

The brunette looked him straight in the eyes. "We need to talk, somewhere in private."

"Agreed. Some of the Host attacked my home and my foster family last night, and I could use the advice of the local Wisewoman and the local Jack." They both looked surprised to be addressed by those names - but Rob knew the surprise was because they were being said by somebody as mortal as themselves. At least his knowing their titles was reasonable given what he'd said. "I'll give you my address - it's just off Kilborn - and we can make our introductions there."

To be continued...

OOC: And the cat's out of the bag. For those who've never read Charles de Lint's modern faerie stories set in Ottawa, the blonde is the Jack - her name is Jacky - and the brunette is her closest friend. I'll leave the thread title as "(title to be announced later)" for now so people don't think it's a new thread and wonder what happened to the old one. That, and my working title is stupid. When it comes to titles, I don't know Jack.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 5, 2016
11:14 am

They had all gathered in the apartment building's common room to talk about last night's events... and to meet each other formally. Rob kept the group small to begin with.

"First things first. I'm called Rob Donaldson. Since that isn't my full name, I don't mind it becoming known by the Court and the Sidhe. The less the Host know about us, the better," he finished with a grin.

"You know quite a lot for somebody who isn't part of the faerie world, Mr. Donaldson," the brunette replied. "You can call me Kate Crackernuts."

"And I'm Jacky Rowan," added the blonde. "I gave that name to people before I learned about the power of names in faerie, so I'm stuck with everyone knowing it. Please don't use it against me."

"Against you?" asked Ami.

"The magic of names is strong," Kate said before Jacky could reply.

Rob added, "You might know it better as the Law of Names - it's related to the Law of Contagion. A name is part of a person, and ..."

"... a part has a mystic connection to the whole, no matter how far away it's taken." Ami nodded. "I saw that once in the databases in the Mercury Computer, when I was looking for anything I could use to improve my abilities." She turned to the visitors. "Oh, I'm sorry. My name is Ami. I'm pleased to meet you, Kate, Jacky, ... and you would be?" As far as Rob could tell, she'd asked that of the empty air.

The empty air answered, "Since we're all giving only parts of our names, ye can call me Finn."

"It would be nice if I could see you, Finn," Rob muttered.

Ami blinked in surprise. "You can't see him?"

"I gather that means you can." Rob turned to Mikoto. "Can you see Finn?"

"All I see is you, Ami, and these two women. Oh, yes - I'm... Railgun," she finished, remembering the Law of Names just in time.

"She's not able to see the faerie lands. But you are."

Rob nodded. "Railgun isn't a mage, Finn. And I can only hear you, not see you. I don't know why, but I have a hunch. I gather Ami can see and hear you just fine."

"I've always been the one to see things first, ever since I met Usagi."

Rob wasn't sure about "always", but he didn't comment on it. "Ami, Railgun, would you two go get Makoto, please? I'd like her to tell Jacky and Kate what she saw last night." As they left the room, he turned to the guests. "And now that we're alone, I get to tell you what I told them when they arrived. You're fictional characters."

"Your bards tell stories about faerie, but I didn't know I was in any of them."

"That's not quite what I meant, Finn. There's a set of two books that have all three of you as characters in them."

"Major characters?"

"The first is titled 'Jack, the Giant Killer'. Three guesses who the lead character is." Rob looked straight at Jacky.

She blushed and winced. "Oh, no."

"I suppose the other one is about a brave tailor?"

"No, you mentioned the valiant tailor story while Jacky was killing giants. Kate, Finn, you're both major characters in Jacky's story. The second story is titled 'Drink Down the Moon'."

"Let me guess," Finn interjected. "A droichan stole the sidhe's luck?"

"And murdered their Pook."

"That just happened earlier this year." Jacky's eyes went wide with shock.

"By your clock, yes. By mine, it happened nearly three decades ago."

Jacky looked at Kate. "We look good for women in our fifties!"

"Don't go to pieces on me, Jacky."

Rob laughed. "For women who were born in the same decade that I was, you're ... no, I'd better not finish that. I live with too many young ladies to start admitting I still notice feminine beauty."


"Yes, Kate?"

She took a quick breath. "Are these books still in print?"

"The last time I looked, they were, in an omnibus titled 'Jack of Kinrowan'. And the books give your full names."

"This is bad. Very bad."

"Thank you for stating the obvious, Finn."

Just then, the common room's door opened, and Ami came in, followed by Makoto and Usagi. Finn gasped. "Is she ...?" he asked in awe.

Usagi walked straight to Finn, placed her hand on his shoulder, and smiled her Neo-Queen Serenity smile. "No, I am not the Goddess of the Moon. But Rob thinks I might be her daughter."

"Lass, please move your hand. I'm too old to feel this young again."

"Oh!" Usagi quickly dropped her hands to her sides. "I'm sorry!"

"Don't be sorry, lass. But it's best you be careful who you share your touch with."

Kate cleared her throat. "That's something for us to look into later. You mentioned that you were attacked last night ..."

While Makoto described the night's events to their three visitors, Rob excused himself and called Ben. Everyone else could relax - this looked like a threat specifically to Usagi. 'Knowing Ben,' Rob thought, 'he'll keep somebody on alert as a backup force anyway.'

To be continued...

OOC: Talking heads. Aargh. But at least Chekhov's mantelpiece is no longer unarmed.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 5, 2016
1:01 pm

"Mind if I come in? I thought I should stop by and see how you're doing."

Mii looked up from her book and smiled. "I'd appreciate the company."

Rob took that as permission to walk into Mii's apartment's front room, dodging some boxes that hadn't been unpacked. "Catching up on homework?"

"More like getting ahead. I can't do anything strenuous for another day, so thinking and learning are all I can do. And I was planning on getting everything onto shelves today, too."

"Sorry about that. But with Mamoru and Chibi-Usa here now ..."

"... it makes sense that they and Usagi have the other two-bedroom apartment. You know that means Chibi-Usa gets one bedroom while Usagi and Mamoru share the other one."

Rob smiled. "Actually, Mamoru and I had a long, serious talk about the local sexual interference laws. Until the day after Usagi's eighteenth birthday, she's off-limits. Which means he's sleeping alone and the two Usagis are sharing the other bedroom. I hope."

"What are you basing that on? The Criminal Code says 15-year-old Usagi can consent to sex with anyone up to five years older than she is, which includes 19-year-old Mamoru."

"You're sure?"

"Criminology major, remember? Your country's age of consent is otherwise 16, unless the older person is in a position of trust like 'foster father', in which case it's 18. I'm pretty sure Chibi-Usa has her own bedroom."

Rob sighed. "I don't want to hear anything more about the two lovebirds in your old apartment. I came to find out how you're doing."

Mii pouted. "I'm bored, I'm tired after my surgery... and ..."

"I know I'm going to regret asking, but: 'and what?'"

"And I have ugly skin now." She started to cry. "I had a good complexion, but now look at me!" Mii lifted her pyjama top, showing Rob that she wasn't wearing a bra.

He looked, quickly, then looked Mii straight in the eye. "What I see is a lovely young woman."

"You didn't look at them for long enough."

"Yes, I did. To misquote Leslie Nielsen in a similar situation, they're quite impressive. And Washuu-chan assured me that the artificial skin will be completely replaced with your own skin before the weather is warm enough for you to wear a bikini again. Wipe your tears, Mii - you have nothing to worry about."

She did. After a moment, she asked, "Rob?"

"Yes, Mii?"

"Remember when we had just moved in, and Mikoto played that love song on her violin?"

"And Kazari offered to do anything to thank me for helping her set up her internet connection, and Ruiko thought I was the best cook ever simply for making sandwiches, and Kuroko apologized for teleporting into my apartment without permission."

"And then you locked your door - I found that out the hard way - and asked Skuld-dono to get rid of the mental echoes that the Juraians had left on this universe." Mii smiled playfully and licked her lips. "Why did you lock your door?"

"I think you know why."

Mii nodded. "I was going to let you know the difference between the girls and me by offering to do paizuri with you."

"Oh, boy. It's a good thing I locked the door; there's no way I would have been able to say no. And I wasn't your foster father then."

She smiled a more honest smile, then frowned. "I wish you hadn't locked your door. Now I've got these -" she moved her hands to her chest "- and who knows when I'll be healthy enough to make that offer again?"

Rob's gaze momentarily dropped to her hands, then quickly went right back to her face. "Would you ''please'' lower your top?" Mii did so. "Thank you. Mii, if you weren't too young, and I wasn't legally your foster father, my answer to the question you didn't just ask would be different. But we can't."

"Not until the day after my eighteenth birthday, or we get that fosterage cancelled."

Rob frowned. "I don't see how we could. The cancelling, I mean."

"Wipe it from the system. Washuu-chan could do it. HAL could do it. Kazari could probably do it, too, but I don't want to ask her."

"You think she wouldn't want to break the law by tampering with government records?"

Mii shook her head. "I think she might wipe her record while she was at it, and Ruiko's, too. Remember the second opening animation to 'A Certain Magical Index' where we see Kazari and Ruiko walking with the same guy and they didn't even notice Mikoto? Mikoto told me that was something that actually happened. And Ruiko knows what Kazari wears to bed. I think they might be willing to share a lover with each other."

"And you think the lover ... they'd ... the two of them ... with me? But ... too young ..." Rob was flabbergasted.

'Oops,' she thought. 'Rob's gone bye-bye. What do I have left, Mii?' Then she grinned and pinched his arm.


"Are you back with me now?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"Good. I think this is when I should tell you what Washuu-chan said to say to you when the time was right. If you were a Juraian noble, you could marry all three of us and a couple more, too."

Rob took his glasses off and covered his eyes with his free hand. "Oh, boy. When Washuu-chan said it, it sounded like she was teasing me. When you say it ..."

After a moment, Mii asked, "When I say it?"

"When you say it... it doesn't sound like teasing. At all. And I'll admit I do like younger women."

"Women as in not me?"

"Women as in not you yet. I'd halfway hoped you might wait until you're at least 25, and then notice me as somebody other than a father figure."

"I've already noticed you as somebody other than a father figure. And I'm willing to share you with the others, if they want you."

Rob chuckled. "I'm pretty sure Kuroko doesn't." Mii laughed at that thought. "And Mikoto already has somebody she likes."

"That Kamijo boy. Any luck finding him yet?"

"Not yet. But he's a walking bad luck zone; that could be throwing off our search. What we should be doing is looking for Index, or maybe Aisa." He stood up, put his glasses back on, and turned to the door, quite happy to have a reason to leave the side of this lovely not-quite-yet-woman who seemed to be interested in him all of a sudden.

"Rob, don't you dare leave without giving me a kiss."

After a brief pause, he replied, "As you wish." He kissed her quickly on the cheek, then made his way out.

'That wasn't the kiss I wanted,' thought Mii as she went back to her textbook. 'But it'll have to do.'

In the hall, Rob leaned against the wall and thought. 'And that Princess Bride quote committed me. What in Heaven's name am I going to do now? If only she was even a half-decade older... And was that really Mii talking, or just her insecurities after being wounded? This sure seems like it's coming out of nowhere.' Then he frowned. 'Or was it some sort of spell effect? Who do we know who can look into that sort of thing?'

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 5, 2016
1:38 pm

Kazari hung up her phone and turned to Rob. "Rin's on the way. She should be here by dinner time."

Rob frowned. "That's close to sundown; the Host will be active again, if they're still out there. We'd better give her an escort from the train station."

To be continued...
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 5, 2016
1:41 pm

Kate thought for a moment. "From the description that Makoto provided, I think you were attacked by sluagh."

"And sluagh would be...?" asked Kuroko.

"The restless dead. Fae who were killed by the Host but didn't completely die. Please don't ask me how they do this."

"That's terrible," Usagi whispered.

"It's a terrible thing to have happen to you, definitely." Nobody said anything for a moment. Finally, Kate continued, "I'm surprised you could destroy them so quickly, Miss Moon."

Makoto nodded. "She's always been more powerful than the rest of us, but either I've gotten very weak or she's gotten very strong."

"You haven't gotten weak, Makoto. We fight every day; I know exactly know how strong you are."

"Thanks, M- Railgun. How did Moon destroy six of them at once?"

"Their power and luck comes from the Moon," Kate replied. "It's possible that they were overloaded so much that they just exploded."

Kuroko nodded. "That sounds reasonable. How do we defend against them?"

"If I knew that, I would have defended the tower against them earlier this year. By my time. If you don't let them enter, they can't come in, but they're very good at getting you to let them in."

Kazari walked in at that point. "We have a specialist coming up from Montreal," she replied. "She might be able to help. She knows a different kind of magic from what I've heard you describe."

2:08 pm

"She what?"

"That's what Mii told me. And Rob-oji kissed her!"

"While she had her-?"

"No, after that. Are you okay?"

"I... don't know." After a moment, she asked, "Do you know where Donaldson-san is right now?"

Ruiko noticed that Ami didn't call him 'Rob'. "I think he's gone to buy that computer gear he said he was going to buy today. He should be back before Rin-san arrives."

"Thank you. Do you know whether Konori-san is busy?"

"Mii-san said she'd appreciate some more company. Why don't you bring her a snack?" Ruiko reached into the fridge and pulled out a box of milk.

"Oh, I couldn't ..." Ami stopped when she realized Ruiko was glaring at her. Being glared at by an underclassman wasn't a pleasant experience. "All right."

"Good!" Ruiko smiled. "I'm sure the two of you will have a nice, long talk."

2:16 pm

"... and he was always ... so kind to me and I thought ... I thought maybe he thought of ... me as more than just a ... a child and ... and I was trying to ... get up the courage to ... to talk with him alone ... and you said what I wanted to say but you said it first!" Ami's tears overcame her completely.

Mii gave her a moment to cry. Then she reached for the box of tissues beside the sofa. "Please don't cry, Ami. Neither of us have said we love each other."

She looked up. "You ... you haven't?"

"Maybe we're stupid that way. Or maybe I just overwhelmed him with what I did tell him and he wasn't ready to say it to me. But I know I'm not ready to face rejection that way again. I guess I'm as afraid as you are, Ami."

"You're afraid? Of this?"

"I was rejected once before."


They sat in near-silence for a moment, Ami drying her eyes and Mii waiting patiently.

"I'm willing to share."


Mii smiled. "It was Washuu-chan's idea."

"Oh. I've heard stories about that household."

"That doesn't make it a bad idea, Ami. I've noticed how much he dotes on you. He might be interested in a threesome."

Ami couldn't reply - she was too busy gasping for air as her face went beet-red.

"Did I say too much?"

2:32 pm

"Most of the Host are only active at night," Kate said. "We should be all right as long as the sun is up."

"The nights are getting longer as we get closer to the solstice," Kuroko pointed out.

"Which is why you have to be extremely careful. Some missing-person reports are because the person that went missing was kidnapped by the Host."

"What happens to mortals who are kidnapped by the Host?"

"If they're lucky," Kate replied, "they go straight into the stewpot."

Kuroko's voice trembled. "And if they're unlucky?"

"They're played with first."

Usagi's eyes were like ice. "We must do something about this."

"I'm open to any ideas you might have."

2:39 pm

"I'm sorry, Ami. I shouldn't have dropped that idea on you so quickly."

"You're right! You shouldn't have! I'm still an innocent maiden!"

"Innocent? How many youma have you killed?"

"That isn't what I meant."

Mii smiled. "I know. We're still young, and they do things differently here than they do in Japan. There are laws about what they call 'sexual interference' - you could knock Rob out and have your way with him, and he'd be arrested because he's your foster father and you haven't reached your eighteenth birthday yet."

"That doesn't make sense."

"Oh, you'd be arrested, too."

"That makes more sense."

"Maybe I should have phrased it this way: I'm willing to share my life with just Rob, or with both of you. The three of us need to decide what our future is going to be."

"I'm not bisexual."

"You're sure? Most people are at least bi-curious."

"Well... maybe. But I don't have those feelings around females, and I do have them around males."

"I don't know whether I like women that way either. But I'm willing to find out."

"Washuu-chan said you need to rest!"

Mii smiled. "Not now, Ami. Later. After we've had a chance to talk with Rob."

Ami sighed in relief. "Oh. Okay. No, not okay!" She started to panic again.

"Ami, not all lesbians are like Kuroko."

That calmed her down. "Oh. Good."

"And if you aren't comfortable with the idea, then we won't explore it at all."

"Thank you, Mii."

2:50 pm

"You can see giants coming, if you can see into the faerie realm at all. They're easy to spot, since they're giants. They're also difficult to defeat, because they're giants."

"Unfortunately, Kate, I cannot see into the faerie realm, and neither can Railgun or Mr. Donaldson."

"We might have a way around that, Kuroko. Finn can add some stitching to your clothes to give you the ability to see into the faerie realm."

"That might not be a good idea. Has anyone explained the concept of Personal Reality to you yet?"

2:54 pm

"Did you ever ... you know?"

Mii shook her head. "There are only two men I've ever been interested in that way. The first was Kurozuma Wataru - he's the one who rejected me. We're still friends, but not that way."

"And the second?"

"The second is Rob-san. And I only told him that today."

2:59 pm

"Your 'personal reality' sounds to me like a trance state that you go into to work magic."

"There are some important differences between a trance and a Personal Reality, Kate. A trance would only let you do things that mundane science books say are possible. My Personal Reality is exactly that - my reality. I can teleport because my reality allows for teleportation. Onee-san is an electromaster because her reality allows her to create and use electricity at will. The other espers's realities here aren't nearly as fully formed as our two realities, so they aren't as powerful as we are."

"I'm sorry. Who is 'oneesan'?"

"Mi- Railgun. The important thing is that our realities don't have room for what you call magic. We can be affected by it because consensual reality is still a big part of our personal realities, but we can't use it ourselves. And espers are always in our personal realities."

"So every esper is a solipsist?"

"That is a crude but accurate description, yes."

3:07 pm

"I'm home!"

"Welcome back!" Ruiko rushed to be the first one to meet Rob.

"I know that look on your face. What's the big news?"

"Ami's been in Mii's room for the last hour. And she didn't take the first-aid kit with her. I think you need to go interrupt whatever they're doing."

Rob passed the bag he was carrying to Ruiko. "Give these to Kazari; she'll know what to do with them."

A few minutes later, he knocked on Mii's door. "It's Rob. May I come in?"

"Please do," replied Mii.

"The three of us need to talk," Ami added.

To be continued...
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 5, 2016
3:09 pm

Rob was sitting on the room's only chair, which Ami had placed near the door.

Ami and Mii were sharing the couch. There was some space between them.

He looked at both of the girls, then looked at Ami's face and saw the tracks of her tears. "What's wrong, Ami?"

"Maybe nothing, and maybe everything. That's why we need to talk."

"Should I excuse myself?" Mii moved to get up, only for Ami to put her hand on Mii's arm.

"No, please stay. I might not have the confidence to say this if I'm alone with Rob-san."

Rob started to become worried. "What do you need to tell me, Ami-chan? Is it anything I can help with?"

"Oh, I hope so. Rob-san, you've always been so kind to me, so caring, so wonderful... Rob, I think I've fallen in love with you."

Mii smiled. "I knew you could tell him! And, Rob, I didn't tell you earlier because I thought it was obvious. I've fallen in love with you, too."

Rob didn't say anything for a moment, although a smile played on his face. "Oh. Oh, this is... I'm luckier than any man has a right to be. Ami, I've been in love with the idea of you ever since I first saw the anime you're in, and getting to know you and all of the delightful little parts of your personality that never made it into the story has only deepened my love for you. I love you, Ami. And I love you, too, Mii. You're a wonderful and wondrous person, and I know I can trust you with my secrets and my life."

By unspoken agreement, everybody stood up at the same time and moved into a group hug.

Rob was the first to speak. "I could stand here with you for years. You both know that you're still too young for anything more than this, don't you?"

"Mii explained the laws to me," Ami replied. "I can wait."

"I have to ask. What do the two of you think of each other?"

The girls looked at each other. Mii started. "Ami's a bit of a bookworm and tends to be a wallflower, but she's such a kind and gentle person that I can't help but like her. You."

"Mii's a bit too eager to follow the rules, and I'm never going to be as big as her around the chest, and she'll get to share your bed before I will ... but Mii's a rock that I can rely on, and I like that about her. About you."

"Ami, most of the women in my family were big that way. I won't say I don't notice them, but it isn't that important to me."

Mii smiled. "So, what do you notice about a woman first?"

"Well, I'll admit to being attracted to women who wears glasses."

Ami immediately pulled her reading glasses out of her pocket and put them on, then rejoined the group hug. Everybody giggled at that. "Now we're all wearing glasses. Could life be any better?"

Rob bent down and gave Ami a quick kiss on her cheek, matching the one he'd given Mii earlier. "You don't need to do that just for me."

"I know. But I want to."

Rob sighed with contentment. "How are we all so lucky to have found each other so quickly?"

3:14 pm

"Moon, if Mr. Donaldson is right about his guess about your ancestry, then you could literally be an embodiment of the Moon's luck."

"I don't think that I'm lucky, Kate."

"You're too close to any effect you might be having. Kuroko, have you noticed any increase in good fortune since you met Moon?"

"Two of the people who live here received university scholarships as soon as they applied. That's good fortune. And Railgun and I aren't sharing a room any more, which I thought was bad luck until I realized our being apart for so much of each day has actually deepened our friendship."

3:15 pm

"I need to be serious for a moment."

"What's wrong, Mii?"

"To quote you, maybe nothing, and maybe everything. What are we going to tell everyone else?"

Ami gasped. "That's right! It's not normal for one man to have two girlfriends."

Rob shook his head. "It's not usual, but it happens. Isn't there a Japanese character that's read as 'wife and mistress under the same roof'?"

"Not a single character, but the word 'saishoudoukin' does exist" Mii smiled. "Who gets to be your mistress?"

"Woah! Back up a minute! We were talking about what we tell everyone else, not about who gets to sign a marriage license with me. That can wait."

"Rob's right, Mii. Are we agreed that we don't tell anybody outside of the apartment building?"

"That's probably a good idea. Except we should let Washuu-chan know."

"Do we have to tell our doctor everything?"

"No, but is there any chance she won't figure it out anyway?"

"And from what Mii told me, us getting into a group relationship was her idea to begin with. I'll need to thank her for giving both of you the courage to confess to me." Rob bent down and kissed both of his girlfriends, again on their cheeks. They both kissed him back at the same time, Ami standing on tiptoe. "We're getting distracted."

"I like this distraction."

"So do I."

"What do we tell Usagi?"

Ami's smile melted away. "We have to tell her everything. And Minako, and Makoto, and Rei, too."

"Rei doesn't need to know the particulars."

"I have to agree with Rob. She'd only get upset. I agree that we have to tell Usagi. Do we tell Kuroko?"

"She might be the best one to tell. Kuroko wouldn't be interested in turning our trio into a quartet."

"But would she tell Ruiko? Because Ruiko can't keep a secret."

"Mii... Rui-chan is the one who sent me up here." They separated from the group hug, and Rob quietly walked to the door - then yanked it open. "Hello, Rui-chan."

Ruiko looked up from where she was kneeling, still holding a glass to her ear to amplify the sounds from the other side of the now-open door. "Uh... hi."

"Get in here, Saten-san. Now." Ruiko saw the anger on Mii's face, quickly stood up, and walked into Mii's apartment without making a sound. "You say nothing about this. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"I mean it."

"Yes, ma'am."

Rob put a hand on Mii's shoulder. "Rui-chan, there's a difference between gossip and eavesdropping. You crossed a line."

"I'm sorry, Rob-oji."

Ami took Ruiko's hand in her own. "Do you understand why we're all upset, Ruiko-san?"

"You aren't sure you want everybody to know about this yet, and I took that decision away from you?"

"That's right."

"I won't say anything. I promise."

"Thank you, Rui-chan. Could you get Usagi and Kuroko, please?"

"They're still talking with Kate. I think they're close to making battle plans for tonight."

3:33 pm

"How do we use everything that we've discussed to our advantage?"

"One of your friends mentioned that a specialist was coming here this evening. Perhaps we should wait for him."


"There are a lot of women in your lives, aren't there? Let's wait for her."

To be continued...
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 5, 2016
5:35 pm

"I appreciate the ride, but you didn't need to pick me up at the station, Donaldson-san. I could have taken the bus to your building." Rin showed Rob the sheet that she'd written the directions on.

"Please keep that sheet safe and destroy it once we're some place safe, Ms. Tohsaka. I can't have it be seen by anyone else."

"The situation is that dire?" He nodded as he unlocked the car's passenger-side door and opened it for her. "Then I'll make sure to obscure our tracks, as well." She drew a few gems from her pocket, selected one, and returned the others to safekeeping before she got into the car. After she closed the door, the car door behind her opened and closed.

"I appreciate that. Give us a moment to get past the parking gate, then I'll bring you up to speed."

"Thank you, Mr. Donaldson. Ms. Uiharu told me only the most basic information when she called."

Rob made his way through the line to clear the parking lot, then drove away from the train station. "How much do you know about European mythologies about faerie?"

6:15 pm

"Dinner is served!"

Everyone came to the common room in response to Makoto's call. It was a tight squeeze around the table; despite it being a Saturday night, nobody was out for the evening, and the household had two guests.

"What's this?" Kate asked.

"It's called katsudon," Rob replied. "Breaded pork, egg, and vegetables on rice."

"It's also a good-luck charm," added Ami, who was helping Makoto serve the bowls. The Japanese word 'katsu' can be translated as 'to be victorious'."

"And if we're going into battle tonight, we want to be victorious. This is a simple application of sympathetic magic," continued Rin.

"We usually eat katsudon before a big test, to invoke victory over the exam," Mii commented. "This is a more literal victory than I'm used to."

Rob smiled for a moment. Rin and Mii had similar voices, but nowhere near as close as they did in the two anime they were from. It was as if they didn't have the same seiyuu in real life.

Then Rob frowned. Makoto was holding back his bowl. He looked at her, to see a stern look on her face, quickly replaced by a neutral expression as Ami served him. 'What is this, a police drama? Is Mako-chan hinting she wants to interrogate me?' he thought. Then he realized that Makoto and Ami had been alone together in the kitchen for a while.

The two ladies finished serving dinner, then sat at the table themselves with Makoto at the head. After the traditional thanks for the food, everyone started eating. Discussion of the night's plans was off-limits, at Rin's request - dinner was a time to relax and enjoy food, not a time for serious discussions. There would be plenty of time for that later.

Once dinner was finished, Rob said, "I'll take care of cleaning up the table. Ruiko, would you help, please? Let's do what we can while those of us who are combat-capable discuss plans for tonight."

"I have a few things to put away as well," Makoto said before Ruiko could reply. "I'll do that, then join the rest of you out here."

The three of them collected bowls from the table, then Rob pushed the loaded-down waiter's cart to the kitchen, Makoto following him while Ruiko stayed to finish cleaning off the table.

After the door closed behind Makoto, she locked it, then looked at Rob.

"Ami told you," he whispered.

"Ami told me," she replied at the same volume.

"I thought we weren't going to tell anyone other than Usagi and Kuroko."

"Ami and I are second-closest friends with each other, behind Usagi. Of course she's going to tell me. She also made me promise I wouldn't tell anyone else."

"Thank you, Mako-chan."

"I'm keeping quiet for her, not for you or Mii-san. And I'll tell you right now: if you make Ami cry, I will make you regret it."

"Makoto-san, if I make Ami cry anything other than tears of joy, I will already regret it. But I'll let you add to my sorrow."

"Then we understand each other. Good."

After a moment, Rob said, "You said you had something to take care of in here?"

Makoto smiled. "I just did." She unlocked the kitchen door and headed out to join the others.

'That went better than I expected,' thought Rob as he loaded the dishwasher. He thought for a moment more, then shook his head. 'No. I'm already the luckiest man in this building.'

7:10 pm

"It will take me more than one day to ward this building properly, and that is work that is best done in the daylight. It will also take more magical power than I have stored in my remaining gems."

"Would this help?" Usagi asked Rin, opening her brooch.

Rin gasped. "Is that the Lunar Silver Crystal? I thought that was a myth!"

"I just call it the Silver Crystal."

"Yes! It will most definitely help! If I was to use all of the power in this, I could ward this entire block in a single night!"

Usagi closed the brooch. "The Silver Crystal is linked to my soul. If you drain it, you'll kill me."

"Oh. I understand, and I apologize. Let us ward only this building, then, and I will use half of my gems in the process."

Kate cleared her throat. "Is this something you could teach me to do?"

Just then, the building shook.

"What was that?"


"No, we're under attack again!"

"So early in the evening?"

"And by what?"

"Senshi, transform and roll out!"


"Just do it!"

A half-dozen mystic light-shows later, the Sailor Team and Tuxedo Kamen were headed for the door, followed by Rin.

Kuroko watched them go. "So, should we bother trying to help out? We can't see the opponents."

"I'm going," Mikoto announced. "Even if I can't see them directly, I should be able to detect their electrical fields."

Kazari and Mii exchanged glances. "She can sense somebody's nervous system?" Kazari asked in amazement.

"Maybe. And maybe I can see them with my Skill. I'm going, too."

"No, you're not, sempai. You're still recovering from the last attack. The two of us stay here."

Kuroko sighed. "I may as well follow along. Perhaps someone will need to be teleported away from the battle."

It was big. And ugly. And big. And didn't seem to mind the cold. And big. And carrying a tree trunk it was using as a club. And big.

"He's a big one!"

"Thank you, Venus! How about pinning him down?"

"Venus Lovely Chain!" It wrapped around the giant... and broke when he flexed his muscles.

"Heh heh heh. Me don't wear jewelry, little girl."

"This might be a good time to try some of the combination attacks Rob suggested. Mars?"

"Right beside you, Mercury! Mars Flame..."

"Mercury Aqua..."

"Sniper|Illusion!" They hit their foe with heat and cold at the same time.

He just grinned. "Heh heh. Sauna."

"Oh, great," muttered Mamoru. "It's a Nordic giant." Then he threw himself between Sailor Moon and the giant's counterattack.

As Tuxedo Kamen hit the side of the apartment building at high speed, Sailor Jupiter shouted "Jupiter Oak Evolution!" Her attack hit the club, shattering it to splinters.

"You! That wasn't nice, girlie!" The giant rushed her...

...only to be hit between the eyes by a coin-sized metal token propelled at just-barely-subsonic speed.

"Did I hit it?" Mikoto asked from the doorway.

The giant fell over with an earthshaking thud.

"You got it," Sailor Venus replied as Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury both rushed to Tuxedo Kamen's side.

Rin, meanwhile, gestured to her servant Archer. A moment later, a very large sword materialized and sliced the giant's head off.

Kate just stared. "You killed a giant. That fast." Then she saw Mamoru's body, gasped, and fainted.

Mikoto turned to shout into the apartment building. "Kuroko, we need a medevac! Somebody, call Washuu-chan!"

Rob was already on the phone - the Good Neighbor system had triggered again.

8:44 pm

"He's stable. He should be fine in a day or two."

Usagi almost collapsed in relief. "Thank you, Washuu-chan!"

"This young woman," Washuu-chan gestured to Kate, "just fainted. Nothing for me to do there; she'll be fine on her own. I'm letting her sleep it off."

"Let's at least make her comfortable," Rob suggested. "Oh, and could I see you in private if you have a moment, Washuu-chan?"

The two of them stepped into his office. Three minutes later, Washuu-chan stepped out, looking like the cat that ate the canary.

"What's got you in such a good mood?" Rei asked.

"Something I thought would start happening is happening, but sooner than I expected. And now I have to go." The door to her lab appeared behind her, she went in, and the door disappeared.

Rob stepped out. "Washuu-chan, could I impose on you to send Rin home?"

Rei pointed at the blank wall. "Washuu-chan just left."

"And I should stay at least until we have warded this building."

"You can borrow my apartment tonight, Tohsaka-san," Ami volunteered. "I'll be up all night making sure Mamoru doesn't take a turn for the worse, anyway."

To be continued...

OOC: Eight IC posts all set in the same one story day. Fast-paced for a "Certain Scientific Railgun" story. Smile
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 6, 2016
8:03 am

Kazari and Rob were reviewing the security footage from the previous night's battle, using the new monitor in the common room.

"How tall is that thing, Kazari?"

"The readings from the Good Neighbor system say it's 5.01 meters tall."

"And it's proportioned similar to a human, but with thicker limbs and neck."

"Of course. Remember the square-cube law?"

"I'm just surprised it applies to a magical creature."

"Why wouldn't it? But that isn't the important thing here, Rob-oji."

"Agreed. Are you also thinking that the important thing is that it was seen by the cameras we bought and installed yesterday?"

Kazari nodded without taking her eyes off the screen. "If we can see through a giant's Dummy Check with an off-the-shelf webcam, then we might be able to see through all of the faeries' disguises with cameras, too."

Rob was puzzled for a moment, until he remembered "Dummy Check" was Academy City's name for the esper ability to get people to ignore the esper. "Yeah. Okay, the Senshi can see them just fine, and Mikoto can see the electrical fields of their nervous systems. Let's get some Google Glasses for everybody else."

"Are those still available? And can you get them with prescription lenses for you and Mii-sempai?"

Just then, Rob's teacup started to shake. Rob and Kazari both stood up and moved back, just in time to avoid getting splashed as Skuld appeared just above the cup. "Ow! Hot!"

"I'm sorry, milady Skuld," Rob replied. "We weren't expecting you to visit."

"I know. It's just that people ... Never mind that. I can't stay for very long." She pushed a package into Rob's hands. "Save your money."

"What's in that?" Kazari asked.

"Surplus vintage debugging glasses, with the old IPv6 protocols built-in - enough to go around, because the Sailor Team can't sense everything magical despite what you and they think. Five are prescription ground; distance and reading glasses for you -" Skuld pointed at Rob "- reading glasses for Chiba-san and Mizuno-san, and distance glasses for Konori-san. Why do you insist on not wearing bifocals?"

"So I have a full area of view for both driving and computer use."

Skuld thought for a heartbeat, then nodded. "That makes sense. And here's some sensors and software to upgrade your building's Good Neighbor system and the heads-up displays that the Misaka Sisters wear." She gave Kazari a second package.

"Thank you!"

"Would you like some tea, or maybe coffee? We have both already-made."

"Coffee, black, if I can get it to go. I need to get back to monitoring Yggdrasil."

Rob filled a travel mug and handed it to Skuld. "An offering from a worshiper," he said with a grin.

"Don't go there - I don't want worshipers. But thanks. See you again!" And she dove into Rob's teacup and disappeared.

After a moment, Kazari asked, "Rob, why did Skuld-dono give us parts for the Misaka Sisters' HUDs?"

"I'm not sure. But she's the Goddess of the Future, so she had to be have been foreshadowing something," replied Rob as he half-consciously adjusted the lampshade on one of the room's lights. "Maybe we'd better see how much work it would be to convert some of the basement storerooms to residences, just in case." After another moment's thought, he added, "And if this counts as granting somebody's wish, it had better be mine, not yours."

8:09 am (Ottawa time)

"Ooh! Jamacian Blue Mountain and Hawaiian Kona blend!" Skuld took another sip. "And, yes, Donaldson-san, since you have offered freely and knowingly, this will be recorded as your wish. To be fair about it, I'll make sure you never lose those glasses."

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 6, 2016
8:12 am

"I'm sorry. I should not have accepted her offer."

Rin and Makoto looked at Ami's sleeping form.

"You didn't know that she'd already missed a night's sleep when she said she was going to stay up again. And somebody with medical training needed to watch over Mamoru-san last night."

"Still, it was inappropriate of me to intrude on her private space at a time when she would need it. If I can leave her a note of thanks, I'll do that, then start working on warding this building."

"There's paper and pens on her desk. And you should get some breakfast first - we keep a pot of coffee ready in the common room all morning on Sundays."

"I'll do that, thank you." After the few moments it took Rin to write her note to Ami, she excused herself from the apartment.

Makoto waited until she'd heard the door close, then turned back to Ami and sighed. "You're always thinking of everybody else. You have to start thinking of yourself. I won't be able to make sure you're taking care of yourself after you go off to live with Rob-san and Mii-san for the rest of your lives."

Ami slept on, oblivious to Makoto's concern.

8:33 am

"Something smells good!" Minako poked her head into the common room's kitchen. "What're you making?"

Ruiko waved. "Miso soup's in the pot and rice is in the cooker. I thought I'd try one of the local fishes to go with them. This one's called perch."

"Is there enough to go around? I think Usagi's in no shape to make her own breakfast today."

"This fish has enough flesh for three people. I don't mind sharing."

"You, Usagi, and Chibi-Usa, then. Mamoru's not allowed solid food until supper time. I'll scramble an egg and fry up a sausage and a tomato with it for my breakfast, British style."

"No rice?"

"I'll have toast for my starch."

"That's up to you." Ruiko flipped the fish over to grill on the other side, then walked over to the fridge to get a jar of pickled sliced radish. On the way back to the grill, she stopped at the sink. "Who left an empty travel mug here?"

8:51 am

"You've never gone over your battles before?"

"Should we, Mii-san?"

"How do you figure out what you did right and should keep on doing, and what you did wrong and should stop doing?"

Rei thought for a moment as she sipped her tea. "I guess we don't."

"That stops now." Mii took a long drink of her milk. "Well, it stops as soon as everybody's finished breakfast."

11:08 am

Mii, Mikoto, and the Sailor Senshi (save for Ami) were using the common room for their very first post-battle debriefing. Mii was giving Mamoru special attention for being an idiot on the battlefield, Usagi was defending him, everyone else was taking notes.

Ami was still asleep.

Kazari, Kuroko, and Ruiko were upgrading the Good Neighbor system.

Rin was putting the final touches on the preparations for the ceremonial spell that she and Usagi would cast at noon to ward the building against evil. Kate and Jacky were visiting just to watch Rin work her magic.

Rob... was at loose ends.

The local news had reported a magnitude 2 earthquake last night, that hit at just the same time that the giant had fallen over and died. The doctors who owned the optometry clinic next door (the one Rob had used for decades) were in their building, making sure that none of their glasses and glass-grinding equipment had been damaged. So he couldn't just wander over there and stay out of everyone else's way.

There wasn't any paperwork for Lord Phantomhive's companies left unsigned that needed a Canadian citizen's signature, so he had no excuse to stay holed up in his office.

He'd already looked at the architectural plans for the building and roughed out a way to convert the empty storage rooms to accommodations. Further work there would have to wait until Monday, when he could consult an actual architect. He also didn't know whether he needed room for four, five, or (he shuddered) six more people.

He couldn't go too far away; Rin had told him that he needed to be present to observe the spellcasting. So he couldn't go grocery shopping. And he'd already asked Washuu-chan to visit so she'd be included in the ceremonial casting.

He clicked on a square in the grid. Boom. He'd lost another game of Minesweeper.

Then he noticed the time. Might as well go make sandwiches for everyone for lunch.

11:59 am

Everyone was gathered in the building's foyer. With seventeen people (and three cats) present and everyone but Rin and Usagi forced to stay outside of the ceremonial casting circle, it was a tight fit - especially since they needed to be careful not to jostle any of the gems that Rin had placed at key locations in the foyer.

Washuu had a selection of sensors out (at ceiling level), recording the proceedings. Jacky and Kate were also paying close attention, without the benefit of any fancy sensors.

Minako and Chibi-Usa were supporting Mamoru.

Everyone else were standing and watching Rin and Usagi. Ami was leaning on Rob, still half-asleep, and Mii was helping support her. Ruiko and Makoto pretended that they didn't notice.

The clock struck noon.

Rin and Usagi chanted a ritual that Rob recognized as being similar to a ritual Catholic blessing but with some important differences. He was surprised to hear it in English. "Bless this home, that it be the shelter of health, purity, and self-control; that it keep those who live here safe and secure; that there prevail here a spirit of camaraderie, goodness, compassion, friendship, and love. May this blessing remain on this place and on those who live here now and always."

Every gem in the room flared brightly for a moment, including Usagi's Silver Crystal. The Silver Crystal continued to glow for seven seconds after the other gems went dark.

"So let it be," Rin and Usagi finished.

"So let it be," repeated everyone else.

Rin announced, "It is done."

Washuu tapped a few keys on her virtual keyboard, and her sensors disappeared into their subspace pockets.

"That's it?" asked Kate.

"That's it," Usagi replied.

"Now what?" asked Minako.

"I made sandwiches."

"Yay! Lunch!"

Rin looked at Usagi sideways. She thought that that was unorthodox behaviour for someone who had just completed a ritual casting.

As the others headed for the common room, Rob and Rin stayed behind. "Is there anything else that you need or wish to do here, Ms. Tohsaka?"

"I have already caught up with Kazari, and what Ms. Crackernuts wishes to learn is not something I can teach her without access to my library back home in Japan. It would be best for me to return to Montreal as soon as I can, so that I can protect our home there in the same manner that I have protected this building."

"At least take a packed lunch with you. I made sandwiches." Rob grinned, then let the grin soften to a smile. "And I'll give you a ride to the train station."

"Thank you, Mr. Donaldson. I appreciate that."

Not too far away, near the far bank of the river that flowed a short ways north of the apartment, a pink-haired woman sat down, having jumped up in amazement a moment earlier. Someone had just worked a great work somewhere nearby, and it wasn't in a style of magic that she was familiar with.

The Pook decided that she needed to investigate. Later. Her band had a concert tonight, and she had to meet them soon to practice.

To be continued...
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 6, 2016
12:51 pm

After driving Rin to the train station and coming back home, Rob was walking Kate and Jacky back to their tower. He was curious what it looked like.

"I'm still feeling so ... happy. That was quite the spell Miss Tohsaka cast."

"It's like we've all confirmed that we're friends," replied Kate. "Without being best friends, of course," she quickly added.

Rob nodded, remembering why Kate added the disclaimer. He gathered she'd brought her magic book with her - her jealous magic book. "I'm happy just to be your acquaintance, Kate."

Then he noticed a flyer stapled to the telephone pole they were about to pass. "AKT, Live at the House of Targ! One night only! November 6!" He pointed it out to Kate and Jacky.

"AKT? All Kindly Toes?"

"I have friends in the local entertainment circuit, and none of them have ever mentioned a local band called AKT. But I remember them from the second book that you two are in."

"You think if we go to this 'House of Targ', we'll see a pink-haired girl playing sax?"

"Let's go find out. The venue's just up the road, this side of Landsdowne Park. It's not that much of a detour on our route."

After a few minutes' walk uphill along Bank Street, Rob stopped at an unremarkable glass door in an unremarkable building. They could see stairs heading down just inside the entryway. "Here we are." He pulled on the door, then knocked when it didn't open.

A moment later, somebody walked up the stairs, unlocked the door, opened it a crack, and said "We're not open now. Come back at six."

"We just want to talk with Jemi for a few minutes," Rob replied. "Would you let her know Jacky and Kate are here, please?" He gestured to the two women with him.

The person closed and re-locked the door, and walked back down the stairs. Two minutes later, he came back up, unlocked the door, and said "You got ten minutes while the band's on break."

"Ladies first." Once they'd reached the bottom of the stairs, Rob took a look at the band - it was big for such a small venue. Guys on guitar, bass, and drums, and gals on electric (not electronic) organ and tenor sax all flanked a female vocalist - they barely fit on the stage (if you could call it a stage; it was just a different-colour patch of floor beside the club's perogie stand). Most of the band were stretching; a couple of the guys were making their way over to the pinball tables and video arcade games that were lined up along three of the club's walls. The saxophonist (and Rob couldn't help but notice her bubblegum-pink hair) carefully put her sax down, then rushed over to Kate and Jacky. "About time you two showed up for one of my gigs!"

"Yes, I know, but we were busy!" Kate answered with the same jubilance. "How long has it been, Jemi?"

"Oh, I've lost track!"

Jacky leaned in, gestured to Rob, and whispered, "The old guy knows about us, but he isn't one of us."

"In that case, I've been here less than a week."

"Us too."

Rob sighed. Old guy. He decided to wander over to the guitarist, who looked to be the oldest member of the band and was still younger than Rob. "Hi! I've got a teenager at home who loves your sound." Well, Rui-chan will once she hears it, he added to himself. "Where's your merch table?"

Seven minutes later, he was walking out the door with a small stack of CDs. Jacky and Kate were walking out with him, with an invitation to Jemi's place after the gig.

11:53 pm

"Three late nights in a row. And I'm really not comfortable with us being away from the apartment."

"Neither am I," Makoto added.

"Feeling old to match your gray hair, Rob?"

"We were born in the same decade, Jacky. If I'm old, what does that make you?"

"What happened to never talking about a woman's age?"

"That went out when sexual equality came in."

"We're equal now?"

"Legally, yes. Socially, depends on where you go. Financially, not a hope."

A bit further up the path, Kate waved to them. "I think this is the right spot."

Rob looked around. "How can you tell? Vincent Massey Park has never been the best-marked place in town, and we're in the forest, not the picnic area or the bandstand."

"She can tell because she's been here before," came a voice from behind them. "I didn't get to introduce myself earlier today. Jemi Pook."

"Rob Donaldson. Pleased to meet you." Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a dark-skinned woman walking up from the nearby riverbank. "Is she a friend of yours?"

The woman quickened her pace, since she'd been noticed. "A friend of hers, but not a friend of yours, human. Give me a reason to tolerate your presence here."

"Take a good look at my foster daughter."

She sneered at him. "I already did. I can sense the luck of the moon dancing around her body. I'll tolerate her. Give me a reason to tolerate you."

"You don't care that I have every right to be in a public place, or that I've been invited here by the Pook, or that the Jack can vouch for me, do you? All you want is a fight. I won't give you one unless you start one."

They stared at each other for a long, long moment.

"All right. You can call me Loireag."

"I'm honoured to make your acquaintance, Loireag. You can call me Rob."

"And I'm going to call you both rude if you force me to keep my door open in this cold for too long!" Once Jemi had their attention, she continued, "Let's go inside where it's warm." She knocked on a stone in a particular pattern, and the hillside opened up.

As they walked into Jemi's home, Makoto asked Loireag, "I've never seen anyone who looks like you before."

"You've never seen somebody who isn't white before?"

"I see a non-white in the mirror every day; I'm Japanese. I've never seen somebody with a long mane of hair like yours."

Jemi laughed. "A mane! I think she can see what you are, not just who you are!"

"Oh, that. I'm a kelpie."

Rob tuned them out and looked around, seeing the posters for various bands. Teenage Head, The Subhumans, Dayglo Abortions, The Scenics, even one for D.O.A. He knew Jemi could sell them to a punk memorabilia collector for quite a lot of money. He also knew that she never would. "Looks like I made the right choice in a thank-you gift, Jemi. A little something for your music collection, in return for your hospitality." He offered her a copy of The Chemistry of Common Life.

She took the CD from his hands. "'Fucked Up'?"

"The 21st century's answer to D.O.A. This is their second album. Also, a commentary on what's happened to our lives."

Even Loireag laughed at that. "What exactly did happen to us?"

"From what I've been told, it all started when somebody who claims to be the greatest scientific genius in the universe tried to access a computer she should never have gone anywhere near ..."

November 7, 2016
12:21 am

"That's ... crazy."

"I know. But most people seem to think it's normal." Rob smiled. "God knows why."

"And that explains why the rest of AKT didn't think anything was strange. It wasn't, for them." Jemi leaned forward. "What made you decide to come see me, Rob? You've already met the Jack."

"I just wanted to say hello to my neighbours and see whether you needed any help settling in. Ottawa looks much the same, but there's a three-decade hole in your knowledge."

"We're neighbours?"

"We live just downriver and a bit up the hill," Makoto explained.

"That's close enough for me. Hello, neighbour," Jemi said as she shook Makoto's hand. "Oh, wow. Loireag, you have got to touch Makoto hand to hand!"


"I can feel the Moon on her!" Jemi turned back to Makoto. "Are you some kind of moon spirit?"

Loireag looked cross. "Didn't I already say I could see the moon on her?"

"I'm not a moon spirit, Jemi-san. I'm a Sailor Senshi. I count the Princess of the Moon as my closest friend."

"The Princess of ... Whoever she is, we have got to meet her!"

"Tomorrow," Rob insisted. "Or, looking at the time, later today. I apologize for leaving so soon, but Makoto has school to attend, and she needs her sleep before that."

"That's an odd pocket watch, Rob."

"It's actually a cellular telephone, Jemi."

She looked him up and down once. "That's small for a portable phone. And you don't look that rich."

"You can get a cellphone and a service plan for less than the cost of two cups of coffee a day. That's one of the ways Ottawa has changed in the last three decades. Almost nobody has a landline any more."

"A landline?"

"A phone that's wired to the wall."

"Can you help me get one of these phones, please?"

"And me, while you're at it?" Jacky sounded as excited as Jemi.

"Sure. I'll see you tomorrow morning... no, you're a musician. I'll see you all at the crack of noon, at the Bank Street entrance to Billings Bridge."

To be continued...
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 7, 2016
11:57 am

Rob and Mamoru were waiting for the ladies just inside the easternmost door to the shopping mall. They were chatting as they watched the traffic go by on Bank Street.

"You're sure you don't want Skuld to give you a phone?"

"I'm sure. Pink isn't my colour, even as an accent. Besides, I've heard that Blackberry makes some good phones, and we are in Canada."

"They used to, but they're getting out of the hardware business. Please don't get me started on how the new corporate management ... Oh, there's the ladies." Rob opened the door so that Jacky, Jemi, and Kate could come in.

"I hope you haven't been waiting too long," Kate said as she walked in.

"No, we just got here ourselves." They all went through the inner door and started making their way into the mall. "Do you mind if I get some cash while we're here? I don't see a lineup at the bank."

"No lineup at the bank? At lunch time? And what's that?" Jacky was puzzled twice over.

Rob walked over to the bank machine. "It's an Automated Teller Machine, or ATM for short. Nobody talks to a human for 99% of their banking any more."

"How does it work?" Kate asked.

"First, you enter your password. Please don't look. Then you..."

A few minutes later, the ladies had seen for the first time an ATM dispense cash. "What's that?" Jemi asked.


"It can't be. Money is made of paper."

"Not any more."

Jemi looked at Kate and Jacky. "We have some catching up to do."

12:33 pm

They all had phones, guaranteed by Rob's corporate credit card (until such time as they got their own cards, and Rob insisted they do that quickly, preferably before Lord Phantomhive found out). Since nobody needed internet access - yet - they had gone with one of the discount carriers.

Jemi had the next-to-latest iPhone, for the music. (She couldn't afford the latest model.) Kate and Jacky went with Android phones in the cutest colours they could find, and Mamoru went with an Android in flat black. They were assured that their numbers would be activated before the end of the day.

"Let's go get some lunch," Jacky suggested. "Does Ogilvy's still have their lunch counter?"

Rob sighed deeply.

"Oh, no. What happened to the lunch counter?"

"Ogilvy's was bought out and run into the ground by its new owners. It was replaced by a Zellers, and that chain's gone, too. Then Target came in and closed the lunch counter, before pulling out of Canada altogether a year later. Now, there's a Wal-Mart where Ogilvy's used to be."

"Is Wal-Mart any good?" Jacky asked.

"It's a discount chain."

"Oh, no!"

"Let's head down the road. There's still a Fat Albert's near Heron Road."

"I was wondering why you brought the car for such a short trip," Mamoru commented.

12:55 pm

"The menu's grown a bit in the last three decades."

"The quality's still the same, though."

Everybody ordered footlongs, and they sipped at their drinks while they were waiting.

"I've got a problem."

"What's wrong, Jemi? Is there something you can't figure out on your phone?"

"No. Well, yes, but that's not the problem. I can't find Henk."

"What's a henk?" Mamoru asked.

"Who, not what. He's the local Fiddle Wit. The leader of our rede."

Rob took over. "He's a mortal who plays the... not the violin, but that's not important right now."

"The concertina. It's best if a mortal lead the sidhe's monthly rede so that we can gather as much luck and magic from the moon as we can for the next month."

"Thanks, Jemi. If the sidhe don't have a rede on the night of the full moon, then they don't get their luck for the next month, and they're weakened." Rob turned to Jemi. "But I thought the Pook could lead the rede if there isn't a Fiddle Wit."

"Humans are the best to lead the rede. I could do it, but even though I'm a halfling, I'm not as good as a fully-mortal Fiddle Wit would be. And I can't do it this month. AKT's got a gig booked at Carleton U."

"A halfling?"

"I'm half mortal, Mamoru."

"Ah!" Everyone turned to Rob. "That's why Washuu-chan said she'd found human DNA last Friday. If the faerie and humans can crossbreed, then biologically the faerie are human."

"That's nice to know," Kate replied, "but it doesn't help us now. When's the next full moon?"

"Next Sunday." Jemi sighed. "Maybe we'll have to cancel the concert."

The waitress chose that moment to bring everybody's subs. A couple of minutes later, Mamoru asked, "Why not ask Mikoto to play for the rede?"

"Who?" all three women asked as one.

"Please forget you heard that name." Rob turned to Mamoru. "It wouldn't work."

"Why not? She's human, and Jemi said humans are the best at this."

"It's because of the way that esper abilities work in Academy City. She's created a Personal Reality that lets her do what she can do."

He thought for a moment. "I still don't understand."

"She has rejected our reality and substituted her own - and that reality has no room for magic. No matter how well she plays her violin, she can't be both Railgun and a Fiddle Wit. And she's never going to stop being Railgun."

"Oh." Mamoru thought for a moment. "Could we hire somebody?"

Jemi shook her head as she chewed. After swallowing her bite, she said, "You can't hire somebody to lead the rede. It has to be done freely, and by somebody who we can trust to keep secret the fact that the faerie realm still exists."

"Which means we need to find somebody who plays the violin or some other portable instrument and who knows that there's magic in the world and who can use it." Mamoru took a drink of his coffee. "I can think of one person who matches that description, but I have no idea whether she's in this world yet."

Rob pulled out his Blackberry Passport. "I think I know who you're thinking of. Let me ask HAL whether he's found her yet."

"Who are you thinking of?" Jacky asked. "And Hal who?"

"HAL-9000. He's very good at searching through computer records."

"You mean like in that movie?" Kat asked.

"The very same. Don't look so surprised; we told you that fictional people have been showing up here."

Jemi looked worried. "But isn't HAL-9000 a killer?"

"Only because of a badly-written computer program. That's been fixed. All of you, eat. Don't mind me."

Five minutes later, Rob had an address. "Mamoru, I'll be missing dinner tonight."

4:41 pm

"Why do I have to come along? I have homework!"

"Do you think they'll listen to me if you don't come along?"

"Oh, yeah."

Kemptville, Ontario, Canada
November 7, 2016
5:35 pm

They were sitting at a table in the local coffee shop, Brewed Awakenings, enjoying both the drinks and the music being played by the violinist in the corner of the room farthest from them.

Rob leaned over and whispered, "Is she ...?"


They waited until she was finished her piece, then Rob applauded politely. He was the only one in the room who did.

The violinist stood up and walked over. "Thank you for appreciating my music, sir... Oh! Usagi!"

Rob's companion smiled. "Hello, Michiru. It's good to see you again."

"Will you join us?" Rob asked.

6:11 pm

"That's quite a lot to take in, Mr. Donaldson."

Usagi grinned. "I know! There's never a dull moment around Rob-san! Except when he drags us off to museums."


"Neo-Queen Serenity here doesn't like doing homework, and she needed to learn Canadian history quickly. Thus, we visit museums."


Rob thought Usagi had a cute pout. He turned his attention back to Michiru. "Where's Ms. Ten'nou?"

"Haruka's busy helping some friends rebuild their car. She's going to be racing it when spring comes around."

"How long have you two been here? We've been looking all over for you!"

Michiru turned to Usagi. "We've been here for almost two months now."

"As long as we've been here." She looked at Rob, then back at Michiru. "Where are Setsuna and Hotaru?"

"I don't know. Oh, it's been more than ten minutes." Michiru stood up and started playing yet again.

6:59 pm

"Does anybody want coffee to go? You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." The woman behind the counter looked straight at Rob and Usagi as she said that - not unreasonably, since they were the last customers in the shop.

Usagi turned to Michiru. "Do you have a cellphone yet?"

"Of course I do. Here's the number." She elegantly wrote the number onto a napkin, then passed it to Usagi.

"And here's mine." She scribbled her number on a napkin, then passed it to Michiru.

Rob glanced at the notes as they were being passed, and sighed.

"I know, I know. I need to work on my penmanship."

Kemptville, Ontario, Canada
November 14, 2016
7:15 am

"I've never played for so long, or for so many different people at once, or walked while I played. I'm exhausted."

Haruka supported Michiru as they made their way from the car to their apartment. "And you're going to do this again next month?"

"Usagi insisted."

They walked in silence for a moment. Finally, Haruka broke the conversation's pause. "It was good to see them again."

"Do you want to move to Ottawa?"

"No, they're close enough to drive there if we want to see them again. Let's get you to bed."

Michiru smiled at her girlfriend. "Yes, let's."