[FFML] [Mai Hime, Future] First Contact

John Biles john at biles.us
Sun Aug 23 01:45:58 PDT 2009


On Sat, Aug 22, 2009 at 8:24 PM, Bert Miller <hkmiller at theeddy.com> wrote:

> This more centered, straightforward narrative with a single POV was
> pleasant to read, even though I started out not particularly liking
> Shinichiro as a character.  (Frankly, I was surprised you brought him back;
> I expected we'd never see him again.)  But he gradually won me around as I
> continued reading.  Even though I don't share, or even particularly
> sympathize with, some of his obsessions, his day-to-day adult, working life
> made him easier to identify with in some ways than your legion of
> high-schoolers..


Shinichiro was very much a character experiment for me; I wanted to make him
someone with some serious problems but also good qualities and with a really
messy, tangled relationship with his family.  I tend to write characters who
don't have too much of a dark side and I wanted someone who was more of a
mess.  Further, angsty people often drive me insane, so I wanted to try and
see if I could make myself sympathetic to such a character.  I'm pretty
pleased with the results and glad you came to like him despite his flaws.




>
>
> OTOH, I like "who knows what?" situations where many characters have
> partial knowledge, and are trying to figure out things other characters
> know.  But now you're past the point where you have much of that left among
> the main cast.  One solution would be to start using more outsiders as
> narrators:  Roger, the Vice-Principal (or maybe by preference the
> Principal), the trio of cousins, Robert Cooper (assuming he isn't a baddie).
>  You started doing some of that in TSOHD.


We're going to see a lot of Team Significant Other (Hayao, Sanae, Gin,
Mandi, Hotaru) trying to figure out what is going on.


>
>
> John Biles wrote:
>
>> First Contact
>>
>>
> The title is attention getting, but struck me as an odd choice.  You have
> the debate on the topic, but that itself seemed a bit out of place,
> especially occupying as much space as it does.  It seems more like you're
> using the title phrase w.r.t. the Silver Knight, but why is it appropriate
> if the children's V-P is already one of his?


I spent a lot of time arguing over the title with myself.  This is the first
contact, though, by one of our protagonists.  The reader may have intuited
VP Tenjou's connection to the Silver Knight, but our characters haven't.

And it's Nakamori's first contact with something really alien to humanity
too.  And Shinichiro's first contact with power of his own.  For good and
ill.


>
>
>  Shinichiro's Saga:
>>
>>    I teach at Tomihara Academy on Hokkaido in the town of Hiromura.  It's
>> last winter.  And it has a nice beach.
>>
>>
> Which side, Sea of Japan or Pacific?  It's my understanding that the water
> on the Sea of Japan side (the closer, if I can trust an internet map) is
> quite cold all year around.


Looking up stuff, there is a warm current which flows up both coasts of
Japan and eventually slides between Sakhalin and Hokkaido, which would warm
water enough to go to the beach during the summer.

(The Tushima Current)

The Northeastern coast of Hokkaido, OTOH, doesn't seem to benefit from any
of this.

At least it's plausible enough for me to accept it in a world with magical
people and mechs.



>
>
>     I understand the appeal of fannishness; I really shouldn't obssessively
>> watch the Diadochi, but I can't help myself.
>>
> Heh.  Second time you've referenced this soap opera.


I like creating bits of culture like this which aren't big plot points but
help to give a kind of common sense of world.

>
>
>     It's really for the best Alyssa didn't make me read her books of
>> Apochrypha until I was too old to imitate them.
>>
>>
> (SP) "apocrypha"  (no 'h')  And your capitalization is confusing;
> Capitalized, "Apocrypha" is a singular noun referring to a specific set of
> texts (admittedly, a different set for Protestants and Catholics).  Without
> capitalization, it's a plural noun referring to any non-canonical text
> resembling biblical ones, or more generally, in the adjectival form, to any
> dubious source of information.


The answer is that I messed up as shown by not even spelling it right.



>
>
>  and half the girls go blind and can't actually percieve what is in them.
>>
>>
> (SP) "perceive"  (...except after 'c'.  You get this reversed an awful lot.
>  Suggest global search on "ie" and "ei" with a view to switching almost all,
> or maybe breaking down and using a spell-checker {which you don't otherwise
> seem to need}.)


Yeah, I don't know why.  ^^;;


>
>
>     Plus, it is Desert Rose, which I hate with a burning aluminum fury.
>>
>>
> Heh.  I think we got it.  Why doesn't Nao tease him about this?  Maybe he
> acquired this hate after leaving home, though.
>

Heh.  There's some subtext here which I never managed to actually make
explicit.

Pre-Finding Out-Everything, Shinichiro was a big fan of a lot of magical
girl / high school fantasy / etc. programs like this one.  Ending up
discovering the truth about everything basically caused him to turn on his
old love of this stuff as part of his general struggles with self-loathing /
angst / etc.  I tried to hint he knows too much about this to have always
hated it but I was probably too subtle.

It's his own version of the common 'I'm too old for this' syndrome where
someone turns on something in order to make themselves feel older/more
mature/whatever.



>
>
>  gentle with her despite my usual gut reaction to seeing anything connected
>> to Desert Rose, which is the urge to soak it in gasoline and watch it
>> burn.
>>
>>
> No!  Really?
>
Really.



>
>     "I am NOT," I said.  "Shouldn't you be off seducing underage women?"
>> I'm pretty sure he actually wants into her skirt, not those of underage
>>
>>
> Suggest "Nakamori's skirt".  As is, the unqualified "her" is confusing
> until you read on.
>

Yes, fixed.



>
>
>     Shin-chan?  No one has called me that in over a decade.  THANKFULLY.
>>  If
>> I find out who made that damn cartoon, I am going to rampage.  ENDLESSLY.
>>
>>
> Heh.  For anyone with the slightest familiarity with 'Crayon Shin-chan',
> this is pretty funny.
>

Yes.  It suddenly hit me that in fact, the show was ON THE AIR when
Shinichiro was exactly the same age as the title character.


>
>
>     Nao and I looked at each other.  We absolutely could not allow this
>> argument to go any further or we would both be plunged into the very
>> bowels
>> of hell.  Aliens AND creationism.  Sweet baby Jesus, save us now.
>>
> Heh.


Yes.

>
>
>   Alyssa is
>> probably right, but she can't actually prove any of it, so this is going
>> to
>> be a nightmare.
>>
>>
> I'm a bit surprised Shinichiro has an opinion on whether Alyssa is right on
> this.  Surely he hasn't done his own research into the recondite sources the
> Magdalenes, Midori, and Prof. Sasaki use (which don't even convince the
> latter)?  And for everything the O/L actually told the Hime, Shinichiro has
> only word of mouth, from people he has a love-hate relationship with.  Given
> Nakamori's position, the physical evidence observable by humanity in your
> story world must point to the opposite conclusion, as it does in ours.
>

The physical evidence points towards Nakamori's position, yeah.

Shinichiro is ambigous here because he is ambiguous on how much to trust his
family on these things and ambiguous on what he wants to be the truth, so
while he tends to think Alyssa is right, he doesn't have a really solid
position on it.  Alyssa tends to be right whenever Shinichiro doesn't want
her to be, but she isn't always.



>
>  fill in for all sports, though we have a few practice fields.  We have a
>> goatload of picnic tables.
>>
> First time through, I went by 'goatload' without thinking about it.  Third
> time though, it struck me that goats can't actually carry all that much, so
> I looked the word up online, and found a definition that means "offal".
> Not sure I'd change anything, but if you mean "a large number" (as context
> suggests), you might want to be aware that this doesn't seem to be a
> widely-known definition.  Or is that a typo for 'boatload'?
>

It's Texas slang.  But I will change it, as it's not really fitting for him.


>
>
>  it was almost time for Nakamori and I to go back to class.
>>
>>
> Did you pick Nakamori's name "center-protector" deliberately?


That's a coincidence.  I used a webpage about how most family names in Japan
were created by which her name means 'Center Forest', which was my
deliberate choice (note where she met the Princess in her youth)


>
>
>     And now I understood.  I don't know why, but they've decided to 'help'
>> me with her.  Oh God, this is going to end in fire.
>>
>>
> Heh.


Hehe.


>
>
>     We finished eating and walked back to my apartment, where Mother had
>> parked her van.  Nakamori-san lives downstairs and I live upstairs, so it
>> was convenient for everyone.
>>
>>
> This description makes it seem like a small building with just two
> apartments.  Later you describe it as a larger apartment building.  Suggest
> here you might want "..walked back to my apartment building... Nakamori-san
> lives downstairs in the same building, so it is convenient..."
>

Yeah, I will change that.

>
>
>     I'm not sure if it was just me, but Miyu looked actually disappointed
>> it
>> was just a messed up dog.  Delightful.
>>
>>
> That's very self-controlled of Miyu to refrain from dashing between the
> rabid dog and Alyssa at super speed, simply because there's a witness.


 Hmm, just changed this as really, if I feared rabid dogs, I'd take Miyu,
anyway....

    "Okay, Miyu, come with me, I'll get the books.  Then we can walk
Ookiku-san home," I said.

    Alyssa pulled a can of mace out of her purse and passed it to me.  Miyu
pulled one out of her purse.  I wondered if Mother and Nao were packing mace
too.  I suppose so, given the things they do.

    We made it to the books when a black furry shape charged us, drooling
and barking.  We turned and sprayed it in the face, then ran as it staggered
off.  It was a rabid looking dog.

    Alyssa looked relieved when we got back to the others; I gave her back
her mace.  "Thanks, Alyssa," I told her.

    "We should get you some too, just in case," she said, looking around.



>
>     "You really look good for a woman who gave birth four times,"
>> Ookiku-san
>> said, then looked embarrassed.  "I'm sorry, that was really rude."
>>
>>
> Shouldn't Ookiku be assuming that Miyu and Alyssa must be adopted?


Hmm, it's too rude a comment, anyway, will change.


>
>
>  houses built after World War II.  Due to stray bombs taking out a good
>> chunk
>> of the town.
>>
>>
> This detail surprised me, that there'd been so much bombing that far north.
>  In fact, what little on-line checking I can do in a hurry suggests there
> was very little Allied bombing in the Sapporo area.


Hmm, I can change this, it's not really a major plot point.


>
>
>     Given it was made by an evil god in order to have something to torment
>> and rule, it's not surprising we can't fix it.  I want to believe there is
>> something better and sometimes I do, but I have to take God's existence on
>> faith, whereas I know for a fact that this world was crafted and ruled by
>> an
>> evil bastard who tried to induce my family to murder each other.
>>
>>
> And here's this again.  In what way are the reasons he should believe in
> God's existence any different than the reasons he should believe that the
> Obsidian Lord created the world?  He has to rely mainly on his mother's and
> Alyssa's word for both propositions.
>
> I'd suggest keeping the depressed rant as a whole, but it seems to me his
> dilemma should be that he either has to believe both or reject both.
>  (Especially so if Yukariko and Alyssa are relying more on secret Church
> records than on what the O/L said.)


If he was less depressed/frustrated, he would see things the other way
around.  He has the basic problem that his family can say 'we saw the
Obsidian Lord and blew up his center of power in the flesh' vs. 'No one in
his family actually witnessed Jesus, the resurrection, etc'



>
>     "What's wrong?" Nakamori-san asked me, sounding worried, her hand on my
>> shoulder as I shivered, feeling a burst of utter rage and hate.
>>
>>
> What's not at all clear in this story is why Nakamori like Shinichiro.
>  Yes, he's tall, athletic, and concerned about his students, but being prone
> to obsessed depression would be a major turn-off.  If he's spent the entire
> year they've known each other being prone to short bursts of rage and hate
> which he won't talk about at the frequency he has for this story so far, I'd
> have thought she'd avoid him like the plague.


He normally doesn't have them very often here out on Hokkaido.  Most of the
time, he just comes off kind of angsty, which triggers Nakamori's 'comfort
and cheering people up makes me feel good' instincts.  (IE, classic people
attracted to emotional artists syndrome)

It's only when he has his cosmic role rubbed in his face or something like
the whole 'how do I stop my student being beaten' thing that his issues come
out.



>
>
> You might want to consider having Shin-chan actually ask her directly at
> some point why she likes him, so we can hear her answer.


Good idea.

The core here as I see it is the whole 'Pragmatic / Creative, Artistic Type'
form of opposites attracting.  She anchors him and he inspires her with his
creative side.

Also, the shared experience of teaching gives them the ability, unlike a lot
of couples, to talk shop with each other and thus have something in common
to go with their differences.




>
>
> You might also want to consider having her comment here that this isn't
> like him, i.e. that once away from his family, Shinichiro wasn't very prone
> to this stuff, and now it's back because they're back.  Then the story as a
> whole can be Shin-chan learning to enjoy his family as well as moving back
> near them.
>

And yeah, exactly.




>
>     so long as you have no power, everyone will walk on you and never
>> respect you
>>
>>
> First time through, I had no idea what to make of this.  Second time
> through it's very clear:
> this voice, if not the entire dream, is a sending from the C. H., in
> recruiting mode.


Exactly.


>
>
>     There is no other way to power.  I tried.  I blew a huge amount of time
>> chasing fairy tales and lies.  Some college kids blow money on beer, I
>> blew
>> all mine on magic that didn't work.  I should have known better.  In the
>> end, it amounted to nothing.  I am powerless and there's no way to change
>> that.
>>
>>
> This surprised me a little, given that his relatives could have easily
> separated out the relatively few possibilities for him.  In fact, you'd
> think he might have learned something about what real magic looks like, and
> not been impressed by fakes.


Basically, he found out the truth when he was already in the middle of the
usual teenage rebellion.  So instead of him really intelligently pursuing
his options, he went running off trying to find his own road and failing.


>
>
>     Breakfast turned out to be chicken fried rice and fruit and it was very
>> good.  I drank a huge amount of milk; I love milk.  Mother fried herself
>> an
>> egg to put over her rice; she likes it like that.
>>
>>
> Yukariko fried herself an egg as a guest at Nakamori's?


DOH


>
>
>     By the end of the day, my sense of desire to see something be done had
>> won out over frustration at least for now.  This isn't about my pride,
>> it's
>> about keeping her from getting clobbered any further.
>>
>>
> That's a pretty mature realization even for a twenty-three year old.  But
> it did take him most of the day to get there.


Yeah.

>
>
>      Orion is probably my favorite constellation, in part because it's
>> always
>> so easy to find.  It's pretty much a big pentagon with four stars in the
>> 'belt', plus connected trailing lines of stars for the limbs.  Draco and
>> the
>> Big Dipper lurk nearby, making them easy to find.
>>
>>
> Draco and the Big Dipper are close to the North Star, so they'd pretty much
> be visible in Hokkaido at night all year around.  Orion, on the other hand,
> is south of the zodiac, so I wouldn't think you could see it at all from
> Sapporo in the summer (you probably can during the winter).  Still, you
> don't actually say that Shin-chan can see Orion right now.


Yeah, it's only Winter I now see after more closely reading the webpage I
consulted for Orion before.  ^^;;

Orion is on the celestial equator.


>
>
>  The government has got to suspect, but I have no clue what it's doing
>> about
>> it if anything."
>>
>>
> Shouldn't Alyssa have heard about discreet inquiries being made to the
> Shinto, Buddhist, and Catholic hierarchies in Japan by government
> functionaries?  Certainly Haruka and Yukino should have some idea if the
> government is doing anything; they'd be manufacturing any required supplies.
>  Given that Colonel Wang went to school with Haruka's premier weapons
> researcher, there certainly should be some cross-fertilization here.


Hmm, yeah, good point.

>
>
>     Probably nothing.  It's too busy going down in flames.
>>
> Not relevant.  Career civil servants would be initiating or responding to
> any exchanges of knowledge here, not their nominal masters, the political
> appointees, who aren't needed unless major money is required.
>
> Might consider having Alyssa acknowledge that there've been a few low-level
> exchanges, but "doing anything" substantial would require money the current
> government no longer has the pull to raise, given that lack of secrecy would
> make the situation worse (which any involved Hime would emphasize!).
>
> More generally, on the one hand, you imply the Magdalenes are in contact
> with many other magic-aware groups around Japan, and in ADOF Akira says
> "certainly we know there are other things and people who sometimes wield
> power besides us."  On the other hand, we see very little of what this
> should mean in practice:  is there a catalog of which deity supplies power
> to which others?  Does somebody know which deities are allied with, or
> opposed to, the others?  Are warnings being passed to other magic users
> about crimson animals?  Have cautious queries been made to Col. Wang about
> reporting "unusual incidents" back to somebody?  Has anyone made
> arrangements for quickly transporting the available Hime to where they may
> be needed in Japan?
>
> Even if the other Hime are ignoring such questions, I can't imagine Mai
> would be, now that she's bitten the bullet.


Yeah, good stuff for me to think about more



>
>
>     "It's inside him.  And apparently sometimes tries to communicate,
>> though
>> all it can do is recite itself," she said, frowning.
>>
>>
> So whenever Dan hears it, the Namcub is trying to tell him something?  So
> there must be something about Sanae which the Namcub found worth comment.
>  ("Your girlfriend is hot.")


Hehe.  Something :)

>
>
>     "I greatly respect you for it," I told her.  Which is part of why
>> learning the full story of how my parents met was so devastating to me.
>>
>>
> Suggest "..parents first hooked up was...".  We don't know anything
> discreditable about how they first met.


Yes, doh.

>
>
>  frustration.  The Heike clan's forces were off shore, too deep for a horse
>> to swim but apparently stuck without a wind.  I could see, however, they
>> had
>> my Mother and my nun sisters tied in place to serve as figureheads and
>> were
>> forcing them to pray for a divine wind.
>>
>>
> Heh.  Good thing neither Dan nor Midori is hearing this:  nuns in Japan
> during the Genpei War.


Hehe.  As we see later, these dreams get kind of historically messy :)

>
>
>     My arrowheads were made of red copper and a rose was carefully engraved
>> onto each one; when they hit, a red rose sprouted from the broken off
>> stump
>> of the mast or the figureheads which my family was tied to.
>>
>>
> Could be taken to imply that the C.H. is the primary influence in this
> dream too, at least at this point.


Can't say yet.

>
>
>  sounding embarrassed.  "We picked up their transmissions and I used the
>> instructions to build a space ship, which you painted with special paints
>> to
>> keep the radiation out."
>>
>>    "Oh, I was in it?" I asked curiously.  Anti-radiation paint...had I
>> read
>> that in a book as a kid?
>>
>>
> Heh.  I'm pretty sure I did.
>

Journey to the Mushroom Planet and sequels, IIRC.


>
>     Nakamori-san was delivering a passionate address which I couldn't
>> actually understand but seemed to be arguing that the universe was too big
>> for life to evolve only once on a single world by chance; the odds were
>> too
>> good it would happen a lot.  She looked rather angry, especially when
>> Alyssa
>> responded with, "Because life didn't evolve, it was created."
>>
>>
> To which the obvious answer is, "the universe is too big for life to have
> been created only once on a single world."


Yes.


>
>
>     "I just tend to be skeptical because I don't feel you can prove
>> anything
>> does exist just by saying the numbers make it likely it exists, but
>> there's
>> no actual evidence we can see, touch, measure, or analyze."
>>
>>
> So why does he believe his relatives' accounts of the Obsidian Lord?
>

They actually met the Obsidian Lord; no in his family has met
non-supernatural aliens.


>
>     I suspected plan B involved Nao seducing drunken abusive Dad and then
>> scaring him shitless.
>>
> Heh.  So do I.


Yes.


>
>
>   Mother chose wisely; that could backfire even if it
>> would be satisfying.  Leaving aside the fact that Nao shouldn't be
>> seducing
>> people anyway, given she's a nun.  But I think she regards the chastity
>> oath
>> as just a suggestion.
>>
>>
> Well, she does, but she also probably doesn't see much correlation between
> seduction and loss of chastity, given that she has probably engaged in ten
> times more acts of seduction without loss of chastity than with.
>

Quite.


>
>     "Ugh, it's expensive for us to stay, but I don't like leaving without
>> this resolved either," Nao said, then viciously attacked her pizza.
>>
>>
> They're staying in a cheap motel (optionally) and eating pizza (again,
> optionally; they could be eating at Shinichiro's again).  Why is it
> expensive to stay?
>

Nuns don't get paid big money.  For someone on Nun salary, it's expensive.



>
>     I'm not sure why she bothers to put on pajamas when she isn't going to
>> sleep.
>>
> What was Shinichiro told about Miyu's nature while he was growing up?  The
> sixteen-year-olds didn't see enough of Miyu, probably, to notice much odd,
> but Shinichiro must have.


Shinichiro had concluded his family had some sort of 'super-spy' thing going
on and that Miyu was just kind of weird and probably cyborged (possibly
causing the weird).


>
>  she has atoned abundantly.  I hate it when my family all turn on
>> themselves
>> and beat themselves up.  They've changed for the better.
>>
>>
> Well, this reflection is a change for Shinichiro


Yes.  When Shinichiro is feeling love for his family instead of
frustration/anger/etc, he tends to think they beat themselves up too much.

Mind you, this is also unintentional irony in action as they'd all say they
hate when he turns on himself.


>
>
>     "I'll be careful and not show off," she whispered back.
>>
> Given that this is Natasha, she should have forgotten and failed miserably.



We're going to see this beach party from the perspective of others in the
next story; I basically decided to put stuff that wasn't him interacting
with his larger family into the next story which will finish off the
semester and send the kids on vacation and which also deals with
Shiho/Natasha stuff as its central plot thread.

So we will see Natasha show off in that and get in trouble with Mom for
being sloppy.

>
>
>     Gin looked her up and down.  "Hot."
>>
> Heh.  Predictable Gin.


This family is just too much for him :)

>
>
>     "Mom heard 'beach party' and had to come, and then I invited Kasumi to
>> come and Kasumi wanted to bring her boyfriend and things sort of
>> snowballed
>> and so Kasumi, Hayao, Dan, Sanae, Erica, Erica's parents, Dan's parents,
>> Kasumi's parents, her bratty brothers, Uncle Reito and maybe some others
>> are
>> coming.  Also, Mom's boyfriend is supposed to show up."
>>
>>
> That's a lot of people to go on a spur-of-the-moment weekend junket from
> Osaka to Sapporo (over six hundred miles).


Yes, it's thinly justified by me wanting to show him interacting some with
his broader family.

>
>
>     Aunt Shiho's boyfriend is Robert Cooper.  He's in his mid-thirties and
>> works for Shell Solar as a project manager.  He was very strong; kind of
>> ugly face in my opinion but the rest of his body was very nice.  He'd make
>> a
>> good painting, I think.
>>
> But no description?  (Shinichiro's "ugly face" was used previously; he
> probably thinks that about everybody.)


Let me improve on this:

Aunt Shiho's boyfriend is Robert Cooper.  He's in his mid-thirties and works
for Shell Solar as a project manager.  He is tall and muscular and in very
good shape for a guy who is a businessman and not involved in really
physical work.  He had short brown hair, neatly combed though I'm sure that
will change over a day at the beach.  He has alert grey eyes and a pleasant
smile, but I thought his nose was too big and his face was a little
lopsided.  Not a pretty man but a distinctive one who would make a good
painting, I think.  I caught him staring at Nakamori-san's chest for a few
seconds, until he noticed me scowling at him, then Aunt Shiho dragged him
around to everyone.



>
>     Watanabe Hiro was the king of the thugs at Saint Mark's, where I went
>> to
>> school in Junior High.  I hated it, but it was Catholic, so the folks sent
>> me there.  It was right next door to Saint Anne's, a girl's school.
>>
>>
> Are there really that many Catholic schools in Japan?  (You're now up to
> two junior high and one high in the Osaka area alone.)  If you don't have a
> specific reason for these to be, I'd suggest a single public school.
> (These additional two got me wondering, and prompted me to try to find some
> stats on-line [which was inconclusive but suggested that there aren't really
> very many.].  So these two awakened a wavering in my suspension of disbelief
> which your Saint Mary's by itself didn't.)


Yeah, I'm going to change it, though I'm assuming Catholicism is a little
more prevalent in Hime-Japan than the real world.

 Watanabe Hiro was the king of the thugs at Blue Sky Academy, where I went
to school in Junior High.  I hated it, but it had high academic standards,
so the parents sent me there.


>
>     I was kind of annoyed she hadn't done anything.
>>
>>
> Suggesting he already knows that she could have intervened decisively, i.e.
> she's a robot or has powers, while in junior high.


He knows she kicks some ass, yeah.  As I noted somewhere in here, he thinks
his family are involved in some kind of covert ops sort of stuff.


>
>
>     Then his seven buddies all came at me at once.  I sent one of them
>> running by clawing his cheek with my fingernails, but they grabbed me and
>> pushed me up against the wall.  They were about to take turns whipping my
>> ass when Miyu grabbed two of them, one in each hand and used them as clubs
>> to clear out the rest.
>>
>>
> And, of course, if he didn't already know, this confirmed it.  Given he's
> not recollecting any surprise, he must have already known.


Yep.


>
>
>  the two of us slipped back to the adult group to play some volleyball.
>>
>>
> Heh.  It would have been interesting to have Natasha, Kasumi, and Crystal
> play a little volleyball here, all trying hard NOT to do superhuman leaps or
> spikes.  And in Kasumi's case, to actually remember to come back down after
> a spike.  Although possibly Crystal doesn't enjoy playing volleyball.
>

There's going to be some of this in the kids eye view of this beach party to
be seen in the next story.



>
>  or Child," Reito said.  "Yet.  And Shun has shown signs that he might
>> become
>> the Sixth Child."
>>
>>    I frowned.  I shouldn't be jealous, but I am.
>>
> Heh.  And if Shun has to turn female to use the power?


He would have FAR LESS jealousy if they told him that :)


>
>
>     "You can start swimming with me every day," Reito said.  "That will get
>> you in better shape."
>>
>>
> Just the two of them, swimming together every day?  That might have another
> result as well.


Possibly yes :)


>
>
>     I stomped his way.  "Shouldn't you be running your temple instead of
>> harassing young women?" I asked.
>>
>>
> It's "shrine", not "temple", unless you're making a point of Shinichiro
> being incorrect to the priest out of anger.  I don't think it's plausible
> that Shinichiro could confuse "jinja" and "otera" in Japanese, so having him
> confuse the words in English doesn't work for me.


No, this is me being sloppy.

>
>
>     "I am just walking along the beach," he said.  "I cannot go blind just
>> because young ladies are here.  Besides, all flesh is a trap and an
>> illusion."
>>
>>
> Kind of a Buddhist observation, not that it's implausible that a Shinto
> priest would be well-educated in Buddhist concepts (Shinto not having any
> real equivalent body of doctrine).


In Japan, there's a lot of overlap, yeah.

>
>
>     "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" Aunt Midori and
>> Professor
>> Sasaki said in unison, then laughed.
>>
>>
> Heh.


Hehe.

>
>
>     "You're the bastard who used to peep on me back at the temple!  Who was
>>
>>
> And it's REALLY implausible that Shiho would use "otera" for her family's
> shrine.  Suggest "..on me at my family's shrine!"
>

This = John screwed it up.


>
>     We ended up with a huge amount of barbeque being delivered.  Mr. Cooper
>> ordered it and paid for it all.  I think he likes to show off his money.
>>
>>    He certainly was showing it off.  And man, it was great barbeque.
>>
>>
> Is there an awful lot of specifically Southern food and drink in this
> story, or is it just me?  (Next they'll be chowing down on black-eyed peas
> and collard greens.)


I = Southerner.  So probably too much, but hey, it reflects the increasing
internationalization in Japan I've been hinting at as we go along.

Or at least reflects my food tastes.

I promise NO CHITLINS or Collard Greens, though.

>
>
>  chatting with her boyfriend.  Oddly, he was staring very intently at her
>> legs the whole time as he ate and talked to her.  Which seemed odd to me,
>> though admittedly, Kasumi has very strong legs and I expect he's a leg
>> man.
>> He didn't look so much horny as determined, though.  Why determinedly
>> stare
>> at someone's legs?
>>
>>
> Cause he's trying to figure out why shey're so strong and fast?  Maybe he's
> wondering about new,
> breakthrough nanites?


Yep, he's trying to figure things out.  Ironically, he's becoming more like
Crystal :)

Though also it reflects him trying to avoid making a fool of himself by
looking at other women or being too horny looking so Gin can soak up all the
disdain and shield him :)



>
>     What a great guy, I thought.
>>
> Right.  Somehow I don't think so.  Though it'd be nice, I suppose, to have
> him just be an innocent bystander, maybe even an ally.  Or maybe he'll be
> the first victim of whoever is trying to swap the U.S. Robots brains out and
> battlemecha brains in on the Osaka solar maintenance force, and Shiho will
> go mad again, trying to avenge his murder.
>  "Shiho, listen to me... I haven't much time... I know too much.  They're
> coming for me.  Listen, the brains are-
>  AARRRGH!" -bzzzzzz.
>

We will see more of Cooper in the Shiho story which is coming up next.



>
>
>     "Well, when I got lost, I dreamed this princess wearing a black and
>> silver dress saved me from being lost and helped me get home.  Which was
>> silly as princesses don't roam around the backwoods of Japan.  Anyway, I
>> dreamed of her again."
>>
> Heh.  No sillier than what happened to a certain Vice-Principal of our
> acquaintance when she was a little girl.


Heh.  YEs.

>
>
>     Apparently, a glowing hunk of reddish-pink crystal had washed up on the
>> beach.
>>
> Oops.  This stuff is showing up everywhere now.  If a chunk has floated up
> to the Hokkaido shore from the inland sea, there must be quite a few chunks
> in quite a few other places.
>

Yes.  This is going to be important.




>
>   Ookiku-san had been there, doing homework, when she'd been spotted by
>> Tomikami-san and Coach Hosotazi; they'd been out cooking fish around a
>> fire.
>>
>>
> How sweet, and good for Coach Hosotazi!
>

Yeah!  Tomikami-san has a good side as well as the bad side Shinichiro sees
and him inviting Oookiku-san to come stay with them so she's not alone on a
beach at night is part of that.

And he and the Coach are sweet on each other.



>
>      About 20 feet away from them was a huge crimson furred dog; take a
>> mastiff and double its normal size.  I think it looked happy, but I'm not
>> sure how you tell.  Well, it's tail was wagging as the pinkish-red light
>> played over it.  Nevertheless, it made me shiver as fear rose up inside
>> me.
>> It almost certainly had to be one of the Crimson Huntsman's monsters,
>> given
>> what the folks had told me about them.  And my family is hundreds of
>> kilometers away and can't possibly stop it there is no one here but ME and
>> Ume-san!
>>
>>
> That sentence needs an "and" or a semicolon after "stop it".  Or maybe an
> exclamation point and start a new sentence?


YEah, fixed.

>
>
>     But wait, Saint Vrus was white and this is black.  And there are four
>> knights in a chess set.
>>
>>
> Shin-chan is losing it.  Miyu has to remind him later that this is black
> and St. Vrus is white.
>

Doh, need to fix that.



>
>  said.  "We're in a boat trying to chase down a flying haemovore orphan."
>>
>>
> A vampire?  Any resemblance to Alyssa's and Miyu's original vampire?


This one is a flying head thing (a Penaggalan to be precise).  (See Nao's
later email about hating flying heads)


>
>
>     "Saint Vrus is here and it's eating a giant crimson hound," I whispered
>> into the phone.
>>
>>
> Suggest "a black version of Saint Vrus is here..."


Yeah


>
>
>     "I do not think we could reach your location in any less than eight or
>> nine hours, as it is nearly 7 hours of flying time and we would have to
>> secure transporation and pass the usual flight bureaucracy twice.
>>  Assuming
>> we could even get a flight this late."
>>
>>
> Reito doesn't have a private plane and a pilot's license?  (Not that he
> could probably do much better in a prop plane; it'd take a private jet.)


Hmm, good point.


>
>
>     I don't think the police can stop this but maybe...well, given it's a
>> minimum of six hours, maybe more, for one of my aunts to get up here,
>> assuming there even is a bullet train at this hour...  "Call them," I told
>>
>>
> I didn't realize until the third reading that Shinichiro's "my aunts" here
> is referring to Aunt Akira and/or
> Aunt Akane, not to Miyu, Alyssa, et. al.  I thought this was just an
> inadequate repeat of what Miyu
> told him earlier.  Suggest "for one of my other aunts.."
>

Righto.


>
> And given that Shinkansen from Tokyo to Sapporo today is something like 14
> hours, he's badly underestimating the time required (partly because it
> appears the Shinkansen doesn't go that far.  You have to switch in northern
> Honshu to a slower train to go through the tunnel).  Admittedly, the
> Shinkansen in 2028 might be faster.


It's a lot faster by this time, I'm assuming.



>
>
>     I really wish I didn't have a life where I had cause to memorize the
>> standard prayer to Saint Jude, patron saint of lost causes and forlorn
>> hopes
>> and last resorts.
>>
>>
> LOL!


Hehe.


>
>
>     It was a wonderful summer day and my students were hard at work on
>> their
>> paintings.  I'd chosen a sports theme and it was very interesting to see
>> all
>> the different sports.  I stopped at Ookiku-san's painting, which featured
>> angelic beings who were playing a ball game in the air with lacross
>> sticks.
>> Giant hoops floated in the air guarded by goalies.
>>
>>
> Heh.  Angelic beings playing Quidditch?
>

Pretty much.



>
>     "Sorry, Aunt Chie did that to me all the time when I was a kid," I told
>> him.
>>
> Shinichiro had even met Chie before?
>

In the real world, he probably first met her at Fuuka, but this is fantasy
world :)


>
>     Shut up, I told the voice whispering to me.  Sometimes I hear this
>> voice
>> and it says terrible things, but I ignore it because it wants to destroy
>> everything I have worked for.
>>
>>    you did not work for this it is all an illusion of saint bosco if you
>> do
>> not accept power from me you will die.
>>
>>
> The C.H. trying again..


Yep


>
>
>     "You were willing to risk your life for someone you dislike, maybe even
>> hate.  To put your life on the line.  That's the action of a real hero,"
>> Nasu no Yoichi said.
>>
>>    I started, as did Ume-chan.  I think the voice of evil in my head
>> started too.
>>
>>
> Heh  No-one expects the Silver Inquisition!  It's chief weapon is surprise!
>

EXACTLY


>
>     "You don't have to be impotent or a monster," Nasu no Yoichi said.
>>  "You
>> just have to aspire to greatness and hone your skills until they bring you
>> power.  Until you become the best and can overcome anything by your
>> greatness.  As I did when facing the Heiki."
>>
>>
> Gee, I guess this speech certainly settles any question as to who NnY
> represents (if we had any question about it)...
>

Yep.


>
>     But I had done what I had to.  I had chosen the less nasty looking road
>> to power.
>>
>>
> True; given his choices, I'd say he did the right thing.
>

I would too.


>
>
>
>  "This character from a cartoon I watched as a kid talked to me.  Science
>> Ninja Amaya."
>>
>>    "Oh, I remember that one.  They tried to be educational, but Alyssa
>> would pull her hair out because half the science was wrong," I said,
>> smiling.  "She had eggshell grenades."
>>
>>
> Heh.  A lifelong obsession.


Yeah, the show helped influence her to become a scientist.

(I am a historian in part because of a book I stumbled on at the 4th grade
library about Austerlitz)


>
>
>     She looked up at the sky.  "It's a good thing the semester is almost
>>
>>
> Suggest "trimester" or "term" here.


Righto!

>
>
>     "These must be your Elements," Aunt Akane said. But I had a feeling
>> whatever we'd done to ourselves probably didn't line up one for one with
>> normal Hime abilities.
>>
>>
> Right; no reason why it would.
>

Yep!


>
>     I entered the void and called up Nasu no Yoichi's image to my mind.  I
>> heard Ume-san, Aunt Akane and Aunt Akira all gasp as I did so.
>>
>>    "What?" I asked, my voice very flat.
>>
>>    "We could see him fade into view and drop down inside you.  Now we just
>> see you," Aunt Akira said.  "I think you are merging with your Child."
>>
>>
> Oh Ho.  Very interesting.  Just like Rosewind's Vice Principal, except that
> in this story, the merging image need bear no resemblance whatsoever to the
> underlying reality.  Instead its reflects a personal choice, based on some
> figure idolized during childhood (which also fits, kind of).
>

Yes, exactly.  In this reality, Utena still met a prince but that's because
she wanted a Prince when struggling with the death of her parents.  But
Shin-chan and Ume had other figures they idealized.



>
>     I was not feeling any urge to commit homicide on my aunts, which I
>> hoped
>> was a good omen.
>>
>>
> Heh.  Kind of paranoid, are we?  Although he's probably expecting that
> motive(O.L). = motive(S.K.)


Yeah.


>
>
>     However, the town officially had no known magic points in the Magdalene
>> Records, according to one of Mother's friends in the Order who had looked
>> it
>> up for her.
>>
>>
> Heh.  One of Mother Superior Nanami's trio of flunkies?
>

Natch.


>
>     The next morning, however, the town newssite announced 'Shrine Priest
>> gone missing, Police Baffled'.  The priest of the shrine had apparently
>> just
>> vanished with no sign of violence and all his meager possessions left
>> behind.
>>
>>
> Hmm... And just where, Mr. Cooper, were you last night?
>

In theory, back in Osaka.


>
>     We kept searching and couldn't find a magic zone.  The shrine was
>> quiescent.  Now, anyway.  The combination of missing priest, the tendency
>> of
>> shrines to be built over weakpoints, and a lack of other evidence made us
>> conclude that the priest had something to do with it but he'd flown the
>> coop
>> or perhaps been taken when his hound got eaten. But why hadn't he been
>> there
>> with it?
>>
>>
> Went poof?  Like a Black Valley summoner?


A question I cannot yet answer.

>
>
>     My aunts went back and we finished out the semester and turned our
>> grades in; I had to miss Aunt Mai's birthday party because I had to get
>> Finals graded by Monday and her birthday was on Saturday.  (For that
>> matter,
>> Monday was Crystal's birthday and Tuesday would be Natasha's.)  I made
>> sure
>> to send them presents.
>>
>>
> So are Crystal and Natasha now 16 or now 17?  If they've just turned 16,
> which seems to better fit
> their grade in school, then they've been 15 in all your stories so far.
>  Given that Crystal was complaining not long ago (ADOF) that it's two years
> until her eighteenth birthday, suggest they've been 15 and are now 16.
>

Everyone is either fifteen or sixteen.  Technically, Kasumi should be a year
ahead of the others, but her folks held her back a little so she could be
sent to school with her cousins in the same grade.

I sat down and wrote out birthdays for everyone.    (I commissioned art and
so I did huge physical descriptions).

I also have a table of everyone's height from Mandi to the giants like
Reito.


>
>
>     "I wonder if he will approach other men in our family," Aunt Shizuru
>> said.
>>
>>    "Maybe," I said.  "Uncle Yuuichi, I think, has enough skill to appeal.
>> I think...if this is the Silver Knight...he's looking for people who have
>> worked hard to become good at something.  And who want to do great deeds
>> with it.  That would be Uncle Yuuichi all over."
>>
> Heh.  Yep.


Yes.  Given Crystal can now take care of herself a lot better and Mai is on
the march, he is likely to become a lot more active.  Yuuichi stayed out of
monster hunting because Mai did, and he has a kid he's responsible for.  But
now, if Mai wants to go into battle, he's going to want to go too.

(And, well, the man fought the former god of the world with Miyu's arm.)


>
>
>     "Some nun was running around having intercourse with the teachers and
>> got pregnant," Ume's mother said.  "What a terrible person.  Probably
>> ended
>> up a prostitute."
>>
>>
> Heh.


Hehe.  PUSH SHIN's BUTTON.

>
>
>     "And the art teacher set the place on fire as a performance piece,"
>>
>>
> Heh.  Even better.


I laughed at my own writing here :)


>
>
>     She hugged me tightly.  "It's okay.  You shouldn't feel guilty because
>> of how you were concieved."
>>
>>
> (SP) "conceived".  (except after 'c')




>
>
>     "You just don't want to admit the real reason you claim to hate
>> Natasha's boyfriend is that you're hot for him," Nao said to her.
>>
>>    "I AM NOT HOT FOR THAT LITTLE FREAK!" Alyssa shouted.
>>
>>
> Heh.


Heh.
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