Rideable Minecart High School, and other short stories


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Rideable Minecart High School books
Rideable Minecart High School omake
Mado Kara Mieru [Fire Emblem]
Bernadetta story collection [Fire Emblem]
The Partly-Cloudy Girl [Weathering with You]
Dungeons & Dragons stories
Stories will be listed here by character and each character's stories will be listed by in-universe chronological order, not post order

Other stories
Other writing
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Last edited:
Re: Rideable Minecart High School and possibly other short stories tbd

EDIT 2: I've now also moved the first two books of the main story to this post because I hit the character limit trying to expand the index in the first post

ToroKoko – Rideable Minecart High School 1st Book
The critically acclaimed adaption of an ancient irc in-joke – Now available in format other than minecraft book!

Track 1
A Ridable Minecart High School?!

My name is Umeko Takenaka. Age; 14. Residence; Kanagawa Prefecture. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been shy and clumsy, so I only have a few friends. Today though I'm finally going to go past that, because today I officially become a high school student... so I'm going to wear sailor fuku, join a club, do all sorts of fun things with my new friends... Under these cherry trees my dream is finally going to come true! I thought, making a triumphant pose and expression.

"I'm going to become a beautiful and confident high school girl!" I said aloud, before I realized how many other students could hear me and became horrified, running to sit behind a tree. "Soembarrassingsoembarrassingsoembarrassingso-"

"U-me-chii!~". I looked out from behind the tree through my tears of embarrasment. "...Ringo-chan?"

This girl with the red hair and huge grin is Ringo Yutani, one of my childhood friends. She's a huge nerd but she's really really fun to be friends with.

"I-I-I didn't know you were going to Shin Ojimachi, Ringo-Chan", I said, stuttering. "Uhuhu... I was just really busy and didn't manage to tell you", she replied, leaning forward, "I couldn't pass up seeing you in a high school girl's uniform though; it's just like anime! uhuhuhuh-"

"Don't be such a troublesome person", another girl said, abruptly cutting Ringo off and pulling her ear. This is my other childhood friend, Shiori Kusanagi; she's really smart and serious. And so, the three of us started walking together.

"What clubs are you thinking of joining, Ringo-chan, Shiori-chan?"

"Redstone club"

"Uhuhu... the doujinshi club! What about you Umechii?". I wasn't ready for that; I tried to think, but I wasn't sure. Then, I felt my shoe get caught on a loose brick and found myself tumbling at the ground. I saw Shiori try to grab my arm but she missed and I fell flat on the brick walkway.

"Uuueee... maybe if I do a sport I could learn not to be such a clutz"

The rest of the morning passed uneventfully through the entrance ceremony, but I still kept going over the question of what club to join without getting anywhere, and was so focused on it I totally spaced out through almost everything. Soon lunchtime and afternoon classes came and went, and I rose from my seat in a bit of a daze, hoping to walk home with Ringo and Shiori. Joining a club could wait a few days, right?

I was shocked out of my daze by the loud bang of the door being opened. "Everyone who isn't in a club, stand up now!"

I looked around and saw no one else standing except the girl in the doorway, who turned her eyes toward me with an intense look. "You! You're going to come to our clubroom!"

"Uuueee?! Right no-" before I could even finish, the girl grasped my arm and ran out, dragging me along behind her at what felt like light speed until we were standing in front of another door, which we seemed to barely avoid crashing into. Inside the room, I collapsed dizzily onto a cushion and tried to look around. At the table, a gloomy looking girl was building something that looked like a rollercoaster out of toothpicks. Off to the side there was a very elegant girl with long hair who looked a bit concerned. The girl who dragged me in cleared her throat dramatically and spoke up.

"Welcome to the Shin Ojimachi High School Minecart Club!"

"Minecart... Club?"

"Mhm, mhm", the girl emphatically nodded, closing her eyes and crossing her arms before clearing her throat.

"The Shin Ojimachi High School Minecart Club is about furthering the appreciation and understanding of minecarts among high school students in the modern day so as to educate productive members of society who will contribute to the global economic and social wellbeing and to generally enrich the high school experience", she said breathlessly, lowering her voice to a mock dramatic tone. There was a period of silence.

"...I, uh... I don't really get it?". The girl's eyes got really wide.

"You need to understand the beauty of minecarts! The dedication and spirit that goes into crafting each one! The smell of lubricating oil...", she trailed off, probably noticing my distant expression, and hung her head. "The truth is we just really need two more members or the club is going to get shut down, so...", she kneeled, clasped her hands together, and looked up at me pleadingly.

"If you don't have any other club to join, please join the Minecart Club! If you don't, I'll shave my head and become a monk!"

"Oh my, Subaru-san...", I heard the elegant looking girl say. "You're going to frighten her"

"No fair, Yasu-chan", Subaru replied, standing up. "I'm sorry if I creeped you out. I'm Subaru Hashibami, club president."

"U-u-umeko Takenaka", I replied, bowing uneasily. "I-It's ok really, you just surprised me. I didn't know people were so passionate about minecarts. I...", I gulped. "I'm interested in learning why you love them so much, Hashibami-san!". Subaru stood there blinking and then turned away from me.

"Ooohh, I didn't expect you to join that easily... I'm really that good?!", she mumbled, quickly turning back to me. "Anyway, you just need to fill out a form and it'll be official, where is that...", as she looked over the messy desks off to the side of the room, the gloomy looking girl pushed a piece of paper into my face.

"I-Is this it Hashibami-san?". She flipped around and saw the paper. "Oh, yes!", she shouted, in English I couldn't quite understand, as the other girl poked my cheek with a pen. I took it and hesitantly filled it in and handed it to Subaru.

"And with that", she said dramatically, "You're officially a club member, Umeko-chan!"

Track 2
An Official Club Member?!

That night, I went to sleep dazed from everything that happened that day. It was only the next morning on my long walk to school that I came out of my daze and started thinking again. I don't understand minecarts at all! I don't know anything about them! I decided that during lunch I needed to go to the library and find an easy book about minecarts.

I spent morning classes still fumbling while getting in to my new high school routine and freaking out about the club. Before I knew it, lunchtime came and I made my way to the library. Somehow I managed to find a book that looked helpful without making any other books fall off the shelf, and hurried to the spot on the roof where I had lunch with Ringo and Shiori yesterday.

"Umechii!", I heard Ringo calling me over to the corner of the roof. "What took you so long?"

"Eh? Oh, I went to the library for a book I really needed"

"That isn't very like you, Umeko-chan", Shiori quipped. "Uueeee... that's not nice Shiori-chan... Actually, I needed it for a club"

"Eeeeeehhhh? You already joined a club Umechii?", Ringo asked, leaning towards me, "Which one? Tell me, tell me!"

"Uueee... The minecart club...". Ringo and Shiori looked at me blankly. "Minecart club? I never would've thought you'd be interested in something like that", Shiori finally said.

"To tell you the truth", I started, "Neither did I, but I met a girl who really really loves them, so I wanted to understand what it is in her heart that makes them so beautiful to her". "UhuhuhuhuUHGKU", I heard Ringo start to giggle before Shiori interrupted her with a chop to the head. "Don't be such a troublesome person, Ringo-chan".

Soon enough lunch and afternoon classes slipped away. As I got up from my desk, just as quickly as last time I found Subaru dragging me breathlessly to the clubroom.

"Ok, listen up Takenaka-... Eeehh, that doesn't sound right", she shouted, "Can I call you Umeko-chan? Ok! Listen up Umeko-chan! Today, first I want you to meet your club comrades!". I don't understand how Subaru can talk so fast after running all the way here unless she doesn't have to breathe. "This is Yasuko Matsuoka-chan, club vice president", she gestured at Yasuko. "And this is Ran Kimura-chan!", she gestured towards the gloomy looking girl from yesterday, who was totally engaged with a model minecart she seemed to be repairing.

"Pleased to meet you, Matsuoka-san, Kimura-san", I said, bowing towards each of them. "Yasu-chan, Ran-chan, you already met Umeko-chan", Subaru finished. Yasuko closed her book, got up, and bowed. "Pleased to meet you, Takenaka-san. I hope you have a fun time with our club and that you can handle Subaru-san's boisterousness", she smiled. "Yes", Ran said flatly before looking up and adding in the same monotone "Good evening, Umeko-san".

"Eh?", I blinked, confused by her mannerisms, before my chain of though was interrupted again by Subaru. "Ok! Umeko-chan, how much do you know about minecarts?"

"I, uh... They have wheels that go on rails, and you can ride them or put chests on them to put things in?", I replied as best I could. "Mhm, mhm", Subaru nodded her head, looking to be deep in thought. "We can move on to your first test". She paused a moment.

"Eehh! I mean, don't get scared or anything!", she added quickly. "It's just, I want you to come see our gear. It's nothing scary", she said meekly. "C'mon!". With that, I followed her, Yasuko, and Ran out behind the school, past the track and down a short path through a copse. I found myself in a field, the afternoon light coloring it orange. In it stood a shed and a small oval of track. Not far from us, a minecart sat on the rails.

I approached it and ran my hand along the side. It was cold and felt solid, and I could see parts were dented and rusted. I gave a small push and heard the wheels grind and groan without turning.

"This... It feels sad". I turned around to face Subaru. "I really really want to help you fix this up". She smiled.

"Let's have lots of fun this summer!"

ToroKoko – Rideable Minecart High School 2nd Book

Track 1
A Very Unique Minecart?!

My name is Umeko Takenaka. Age; 14. I'm a student at Shin Ojimachi High School. Recently, because of someone I met, I became a member of the Minecart Club, even though I'm shy and clumsy and don't really know what it's about. But the girl I met, Subaru Hashibami-san makes it seems really fun, and she needed help or her club was going to get shut down, so I’ve decided to try it. I’ll do my best!

"What are you thinking about, Umeko-chan?". I looked up and realized I'd been idly swishing my broom across the same patch of floor.

"Eh?... Oh, nothing really, Shiori-chan... Just club stuff, you know", I answered, conspicuously stepping over to sweep a different bit of the corridor. "What do you even do in that club Umechii?", I heard Ringo ask.

"Uuhhh... I'm not too sure? We haven't done anything yet", I heard the bell ring as I finished sweeping my new patch of floor. "Ah, I'll put the brooms away, Umeko-chan, Ringo-chan".

"Thanks, Shiori-chan". I handed my broom to her and turned to walk to the club room, but quickly felt myself slip and topple forwards. "Uuuueee..."

"Are you alright Umeko-chan?", Shiori shouted after me. "Uuee... I'm used to it by now". I picked myself up. "Have fun at your clubs, Shiori-chan, Ringo-chan". With that, I skipped off toward the clubroom, soon finding myself at the door. I knocked and entered, seeing a scene much like always.

"...Hmhm, hmhm... I agree we need to take our time and do it right, Ran-chan... Oh! Umeko-chan! You're here!". Subaru was also as excited as always. She bolted up from her chair and dramatically cleared her throat.

"For our first club activity of the school year, we're going to build a new minecart!". I felt confused. "Don't we already have a minecart, Hashibami-san?"

"Mhm, yes, we do but, as it turns out... This is a very unique minecart!". I noticed Ran opening a book and flipping through pages. "And even if it wasn't, the beauty of every minecart demands respect! It would be a crime to skimp out on restoring any minecart! Ever!". Ran turned the book around to face me. "Model Vk71. Produced FrVZ Frunze, Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic 1977 to 1989". She closed the book so I could see the cover. "Minecarts of the Soviet Union?... Kyr... Gyz?...". Ran nodded emphatically. "Silk Road."

"...China?". Just as emphatically, she shook her head no. "Anyway!", Subaru picked the conversation back up. "It would be easier to just build a new one. And in doing so we will learn important lessons about craftsmanship and further our understanding of the beauty of minecarts!"

"Y-you think so, Hashibami-san?". She looked deep in thought for a few moments.

"Maybe!" Uuuuee?!

"I wouldn't worry, Takenaka-san". I glanced over at Yasuko. She's pretty quiet in the clubroom. "Matsuoka-san... Uuee, I didn't notice you there". She put down her book. "No, it's fine. You might not see it, but Subaru-san is very dedicated and talented when she puts her mind to something"

"Might not see... Hey! Meanie!". Yasuko stood up and smiled. "I apologize, Subaru-san. I suppose we should go the the workshed, then?". And so, we walked down the same path into that field past the trees, and then into the little shed. "Hashibami-san, don’t we need plans first to build a minecart?", I asked as Subaru opened the door. "Isn't it hard?". She closed her eyes and crossed her arms, looking like she was concentrating intently.

"It's true we will need to do some drafting work, but it's simple... Well, kinda simple... If you compare it... Anyway!", she opened a large wooden drawer in a storage chest. "It's useful before a project to clear out your work space and take inventory... Huh?". She turned around, showing a flustered expression. "Ehehehehe... I, uh, I remembered something...". She hung her head and continued in a low, embarrased tone. "We only had one iron nugget left over last school year"

"How much iron does it take to build a minecart?". Wait, wasn't there... "Hashibami-san, don't we have a mining and smelting club at this school?". Hearing that seemed to cheer her up. "Then it's settled! We're going mining tomorrow!"

Track 2
An After School Mining Trip?!

"Oi... Oi, Umeko-chan!"

"Shiori-chan?... Uuuueee... I was spacing out in class again wasn't I?". Shiori sighed. "Just forget it... Me and Ringo-chan were going to check out that new cafe since its Saturday if you want to come along"

"Oh, the one in Midorimachi?... Actually, I have club activities after class... I'll have to come try it some other day, hehe..."

"Wo-ah, you're really getting serious about your club, Umechii!". I shook my head. "Uuee, actually, we still haven't done any real club activities yet, Ringo-chan..."

"Huuuh?! You've been going there everyday, Umechii". Ringo gave me a mischievous smile. "Don't tell me... Uhuhuhu...". I noticed Shiori roll her eyes. "So, what have you been doing at your club, Ringo-chan?". Her face got red as soon as Shiori said that.

"Uhu... Actually... That is... Yknow... Uhuuuuuu". She gulped. "I like drawing yuri art! I'm bi! Is that bad?!". It seemed like other people in the classroom noticed her yelling, and Shiori looked exasperated. "Uueee... I'll just be going now, ok Ringo-chan, Shiori-chan?"

"Uuueee, let's see... Was it here?". I turned the corner to find Subaru, Yasuko, and Ran already standing at the door of the mining and smelting club room. "Ooh, Umeko-chan! You're here finally!". As soon as I got to the door, another girl opened it.

"You must be Takenaka-san?". I nodded. Her school uniform was dusty all over, she was wearing an orange mining helmet with a lamp, and had two cases that looked like they were for musical instruments slung on her back. "I'm Hinagiku Akane. It's nice to meet you". She bowed.

"Uue, you too". I clumsily bowed slightly in return. She seems nice but there's something weird about her. There's weird tags on those cases too. "Nathan?... William?..."

"Ah", she nodded and carefully placed the cases on the floor. She unzipped one and twirled a pickaxe around in one hand, prompting me to jump back and fall. "Silk touch diamond pick, Nathan", she placed it back in the case and took out another pickaxe. "Fortune diamond pick, William. Oh, we should get going"

Hinagiku led us past our club's shed and across the field until we reached the side of the mountain, coming to a small cave entrance propped up by logs. She stood her pickaxe cases up beside the rocks and turned to face us.

"This is our school's mine! We have iron picks and mining helmets in that shed...", she gestured to her right, "...so get some equipment you like and we can start!". After we gathered up our gear, Hinagiku led us into the mine that spiraled downward into the mountain, lit sparsely by torches on the wall. "Students have been using it for a REAL long time, so most of the ore that's left is REAL deep!". I was starting to get chills.

"Uuueeeee... Akane-san... Do you hear something?". She stopped and turned around, and I had to cover my eyes against the glare of headlamp. I noticed Ran put her ear to the wall, then turn around to face me with an unsettling smile on her face. "Ah. It sounds like giant cave spiders. Umeko-san."

"G-G-GIANT CAVE SPIDERS?!". She nodded yes and pointed to a page in a guidebook that I couldn't read even if I squinted. "It says 'highly poisonous'". I tried to scream but stifled it into a squeak. Yasuko and even Subaru looked worried too.

"Now, now", Hinagiku started, not sounding very reassuring. "I'm sure we'll be just fine... After all, I've never seen one before... Anyway, we should keep going". We continued deeper in. I heard a sound, but it was different from before, like the soft trickle of a faucet. "Just a little further. Ah, there's some iron here I think!". I squinted to look up ahead at Hinagiku. Then I felt myself slip, and let out a scream.

"UMEKO-CHAN!". Subaru? I saw a headlamp up ahead that got smaller as I fell. I closed my eyes when I couldn't bear to look at it anymore, and felt myself hit the bottom of the hole with a splash. I felt relieved, and my eyes shot open just in time to see Subaru crash down on top of me. The two us managed to pull ourselves out of the water and onto a rock.

"H-Hashibami-san...". She put her hand behind her head and ruffled her hair, looking embarrased. "Ehe... I wanted to save you but now we're both stuck, Umeko-chan"

"Subaru-san! Takenaka-san! Are both of you ok?"

"Ah, yeah, Yasu-chan! There's an underwater lake, so we just need to find a way to get back up!", Subaru replied, then turned back to me. Suddenly she had a surprised look on her face. I froze. Did she see one? A g-giant cave spider?! Her face widened into a huge smile. "Umeko-chan, look, look!". I cautiously turned around. In the light from Subaru's headlamp I saw cave walls glittering with iron and gold. I felt around my backpack, and sure enough my pickaxe was still there, and I pulled it out. I saw Subaru had hers balanced on her soldier. "Let's go, Umeko-chan!"

Track 3
Umeko's Side. After

The sun was totally gone by the time we all made it out of the caves and back up to the mining and smelting club room. Finally able to relax I slumped down in a chair while Hinagiku emptied our backpacks of ore onto a table and carefully counted it.

"Uueeee, I'm so exhausted... I could eat so much..."

"I'm just glad all of you are safe", Hinagiku replied, looking up from the table. "I couldn't live with it if someone had gotten badly hurt!". She went to a cabinet and got a magnifying glass to examine the ore with. "But we managed to get this much ore... Hmm...", She looked up again. "This should be enough for almost half a stack of iron ingots and maybe a dozen gold ingots". She smiled.

"You can leave it to me! I'll have our club smelt it after school Monday and help you move it to your workshed". I saw Subaru walk in. There was something off about her. Maybe just that she was wearing her casual clothes and her hair thingy was weighed down? "Thank you so much for everything, Hina-chan! I even got to be cool and save Umeko-chan!". She ruffled her wet hair sheepishly again. "But, I guess it didn't quite work out, ehe?..."

"Is something wrong, Hashibami-san?"

"Eh? Ehe, no, I'm just great, Umeko-chan! Ehehe!..."

Subaru's Side. Before

"I'm gonna go to the gym and wash off some, ok Umeko-chan? I'll be back!"

"Uuuue...". She sounded exhausted. "Ok, Hashibami-san... Matsuoka-san and Kimura-san already went home?...". I nodded and rushed off down the stairs to the girls' locker room.

"...Is that true, Wakagi-san? Because it's too far?". Ehe? There are still people here? Wait, Wakagi?... The student council president?

"Yes. I heard maybe this could be the last school year here, then they're going to close it. Ah well... What can we do about it, if students don't want to come all the way out here. Not much of a loss anyway"


The school could... Close?


EDIT: Moved this here due to character constraints

Omake track
Shiori's Side.
(never before seen! deleted because it wasn't good!)

Eh? Oh, my name is Shiori Kusanagi. High school student, age 14, Redstone Club member, resident in Kanagawa Prefecture. I'm childhood friends with Umeko and Ringo. Of the three of us I'm the only one who takes things seriously. These other two are always slacking off!

Umeko doesn't seem to paying attention to cleaning. Seriously now... "What are you thinking about, Umeko-chan?".

"Eh?... Oh, nothing really, Shiori-chan... Just club stuff, you know". She doesn't seem too sure about it. "What do you even do in that club Umechii?", Ringo asked back. "Uuhhh... I'm not too sure? We haven't done anything yet". Ah, so she isn't sure. Well, it's good that she's trying to do new things anyway. Oh, there's the bell.

"Ah, I'll put the brooms away, Umeko-chan, Ringo-chan". The two of them eagerly handed them to me. "Thanks, Shiori-chan", Umeko replied, turning to leave. Eh?! What's that? Before I had time to react, Umeko slipped on the piece of paper and fell flat. "Uuuueee..."

"Are you alright Umeko-chan?"

"Uuee... I'm used to it by now". She got up. "Have fun at your clubs, Shiori-chan, Ringo-chan".

"Ah, yeah". I glanced over at Ringo and saw she had a surprised expression on her face. Wait, does she have a nosebleed?

"UhuhuhuhuUHGKU", I quickly put a stop to Ringo's giggling by slapping her. "I saw something I shouldn't have, Shiorin".

I put my hand to my forehead in frustration. "Ay ay ay..."

Eren Jäger said:
Good shitpost


reposting here so it's in the same place as other stuff
please relike it


I trudged further through the sand, the orange hem of my dusty and faded garment sweeping at its grains. This fucking dress, I mouthed silently to myself, How I wish I could wear something I can MOVE in. The grains collected in my shoes, on my clothing, on my bared teeth and the tip of tongue. I saw only the sand and the weathered monuments rising from it, desiccated and denuded mountain peaks of ochre and madder stone.

Stopping at the crest of one wavelike dune, I gasped for air with my parched mouth, as if I could draw some bit of moisture from an atmosphere as heavy as the colossal stone heads, visages of kings and queens of yore, of my forebearers. I recall the time before, when towns clung to this lifeless, pale gold ocean, irrigation channels sewing together its fabric, conveying water like man-made veins of lifeblood across a landscape tamed and yoked. The days I spent in the palace courtyard, bursting with the green of grass and vines, the blue of aquaducts and fountains, the kaleidoscopic shades of flowers my mother had taught me to cultivate so lovingly. My beloved father and our faithful retainers.

I do not even dream of the times between then and now, that past has locked itself away somewhere beyond my grasp. I lie awake some nights gripped by fear of it, of what hell I would glimpse should the key to those catacombs of my memory once more thrust itself into my hands. Of the war. I could no longer stand, and I fell to my knees.

"My Princess," the retainer whispered to myself, voice raspy and dry, standing darkly over myself, her pale yellow dress glinting in the sun through flecks of grime caked on, her auburn hair matted with dust and sweat. "You must not stop. You must attend the coronation ceremony. Your father..."

"What fucking coronation?! What is this?!," I jabbed my finger ahead, towards what was once, I believed somewhere in my heart, a town. "My father IS-". I felt myself be thrown from my knees onto the ground, the sand shoved into my face, grains cutting at my eyes and filling my mouth. "You bitch! How dare you?!," the retainer sputtered, "You insult father like this?!."

I struggled to sit up, coughing and spitting, but feeling some of the sand enter my lungs despite all my efforts. The retainer's shadow against the sun enveloped myself. From her dress she produced the rusting crown.

"Stand, Princess Daisy of Sarasaland," I commanded myself, and myself I did.
Re: Rideable Minecart High School and possibly other short stories tbd

ToroKoko – Rideable Minecart High School 3rd Book
Secret ingredient was the power of music all along – The lewdest one yet!

Track 0
Subaru’s Side.

"...I'm home". I shuffled off my shoes in the entryway and pulled on my slippers. "Welcome back Oneechan. You're home late; it's past dinner already so yours is in the fridge".

"Ehe, Shuko... I had some club stuff...". I turned my head and stopped for a moment.

"You're still in your minecart club or whatever?". I nodded as my sister spoke, and walked into the kitchen. "Oneechan, you're weird yknow!". She looked to be thinking something over while I opened the fridge and grabbed the plate of curry rice. "My friend said that's why you don't have a boy that likes you! You minecart-otaku!".

"Eh, and what if I'm fine with that?! Stupid! Stupid!". I glared at her. She looked worried, like she'd realized she'd made a joke that went too far. I sighed. "Are you ok, oneechan?".

"It's just something at school. I didn't mean to yell at you.". Is it weird to care so much about a school? But, it's the school I've been going to since elementary school, so I guess it's normal that I'd have so many memories of it.

Track 1
A Minecart Track To Where?!

I stifled a yawn as class ended. “Uuueeee... I stayed up too late...". I'd been busy reading the minecart forum I found to learn more about them; I hadn't gotten much sleep, but I feel hyped to go to the clubroom today!

After skipping off to the clubroom, I threw open to the door to find the room feeling slightly off. Blinking a few times as if I didn't believe what I was seeing, I realized the unusual sight was Subaru slumped back in her chair, not looking at all her usual self, hanging her head over the wooden back with a bit of a blank expression. It's starting to get hotter out these days but could that really be so hard on her? What's going on?.

"H-Hashibami-san?!". She jumped out of the chair, looking to have gone back to her normal self. "Umeko-chan! It's you!". I wasn't expecting her to leap forward and hug me, and predictably when she did I lost my balance and went tumbling onto my back with her on top of me. I noticed Yasuko and Ran didn't seem to be here yet, before I hit the floor and heard commotion outside.

The door swung open, and to my surprise I saw Shiori. I suddenly realized how this could look to her. "Uu... Ueeeeee..." I heard someone else running outside the room too now. "Oi, Shiorin! Did something happen?". Ringo-chan?. As Subaru scrambled to her feet and helped me up, a blushing Shiori calmly closed the door. We sat awkwardly around the table for a minutes, the late afternoon sunlight flickering.

"Ehe... Sorry about that, Umeko-chan...". I shook my head. "No... It was my fault that I was so clumsy, right?". I paused.

"By the way, Hashibami-san, where are Matsuoka-san and Kimura-san today?". She sighed. "Yasu-chan and Ran-chan both couldn't make it today. To tell you the truth I figured you'd be doing something with your friends too."

"Ah, my friends had club activities today also...". I neglected mentioning that Shiori who had seen us was one of my childhood friends. "...Do you have many friends, Hashibami-san?". She didn't respond. "Uueee... Me either". She stretched her arms and laid her head down on the table. "Hey, Umeko-chan... Have you heard anything about the school closing?”

"Uueee? No... Is that true?!". She shrugged. "I overheard the student council president talking about it, the other day. The day we went mining actually". I felt surprised. "Is that what's been bothering you, Hashibami-san? You don't seem like yourself today...". She nodded. "I went to Shin Ojimachi elementary school and junior high school too..."

"Maybe there weren't that many new students? Uuee, I don't know... Oh, I know not many of my friends from junior high were going here even though Akaiwa isn't that far". Subaru sat back up. "Eh, you live in Akaiwa, Umeko-chan? How long does it take you to get to school?". She seemed like she’d remembered something. "Uuee, it's not really that-" I started, but before I could even finish it was like all her energy had flowed back into her from somewhere, and I almost fell backwards in my chair as Subaru leapt up, standing half on the chair, half of the table with a determined grin on her face. I can see her pa... Uuueee, why am I thinking about that?!

"Umeko-chan! I've seen the divine revelation!". She jabbed her arm into the air, pointing her index finger to the ceiling as if to emphasize the heavenly source of her inspiration. "We are going to build a minecart track from here-" she whipped her finger around to point what I assumed was east "-to Akaiwa!"

Track 2
A Walk Over The Mountains?!

I was so busy catching up on schoolwork I'd been neglecting that the rest of my school week went by slowly but pretty uneventfully after that Monday. My excitement was building for Saturday, since Subaru told me it was going to be a big day for the club, and I kept learning more about minecarts on the internet, even finding out I could download a minecart driving simulator on my phone!

By the time classes were over on Saturday I could barely even eat my lunch before rushing to the club room and throwing open the door.

"Hello! I'm here!". Nothing. Uuueee?! I couldn't believe I was the first one there. I was about to take a step into the room and sit down when I was startled from behind.

"Umeko-chan!". I felt Subaru hug me and struggled not to fall over like last time until she let me go. "It's great that you're the first one to the club room today! I'm so proud of you!".

"Uuee? Is it that much to be proud of, Hashibami-san?". She thought about it for a minute. "You're the first person other than me to be here first, so that has to mean something... Except sometimes Ran-chan is. Sometimes I think she lives in here! Ehe". Now I was just even more confused. "So, ue, what are we doing to today Hashibami-san?". She grinned. "Just wait!".

A minute or two later Ran and Yasuko arrived, and Subaru dramatically cleared her throat and jabbed her finger in the air. "Today, fellow club members, we're going to take a walk!". She paused for effect, but I still didn't get what she was talking about. "...Huh?". She just giggled. "Let me explain! As you know, we're going to build a minecart track to the school from Akaiwa! So today, we're going for a walk over the mountains to get the lay of the land! It's about two hours... I think!".

I thought about it and wasn't sure it was a good idea. Something seemed off but before I could remember what Subaru interrupted my train of thought. "Umeko-chan! You should just go get changed and we'll be ready to go!".

"Get... changed?". Uueee? Why does she- I opened my mouth to speak but realized what I thought was off. "UUUEEEEE?!", I gasped, finally noticing that Subaru, Yasuko, and Ran were wearing casual clothes and not their uniforms and remembering what a pain it was wearing my uniform and getting it dirty when we went mining. "Haaah... I just remembered you said to bring casual clothes... Uueee... Whatever".

We got going after that, down past our club shed and towards the mountainside, past the mine entrance, and into the woods. It was such a nice spring day and walking in the forest was so relaxing that I almost forgot what I was doing, when I felt my foot get caught under a root and felt my heart sink before my body did.

"Uuueeuuueeeee!". I flapped my arms aimlessly to try and keep from falling over before Subaru grabbed hold of me. "Uuuee... Thanks, Hashibami-san... Geeze, whenever we do club stuff you always have to help me like this”.

"Of course! Because I'm your friend! What kind of friend wouldn't do anything they could for their friends?!". She jabbed her finger in my face, almost making me lose my balance again. "To be a friend you need fighting spirit!". I didn't really get it, but I appreciated it.

"Blushing", I heard Ran whisper in my ear, freaking me out so much I almost fell over a third time. Her tone of voice was way creepier than normal too. I turned my head to look at her and it seemed like she had magically moved back to a more comfortable distance behind me. "Nice day, Umeko-san", she said in her usual weird monotone, smiling. I turned my head back to Subaru, but as soon as I did I felt a chill and heard her again.

"You can't have my Subaru-chan, okay, Umeko-saaaan?". I whipped my head back around and just saw her still standing a few steps behind me, with a bored expression. She raised her hand and waved at me half-heartedly. Have? What? Why would I have Subaru? Is this what Ringo calls yandere moe?! I uneasily looked at Subaru again, but she didn't seem to have noticed anything weird, she just seemed to be thinking about something.

"Umeko-chan, there's just one thing I want you to do for me". I looked back over my shoulder reflexively but Ran was just talking to Yasuko about something. "Since we're friends, it's weird that you keep calling me Hashibami-san! You can call me Subaru-chan if you'd like".

"But you're an upperclassman? It's really-". I was cut off by her smirking and again jabbing her finger in my face, which I was somehow ready for this time. "Then call me Hashibami-senpai! Worship me as your visionary club president!"

"Uuueee, are those really the only two choices?!". Yasuko pointedly cleared her throat as if to tell her to stop scaring me, and Subaru laughed. "Ok, ok... But really, if we're going to be friends you don't need to be so formal with me". She smiled. I smiled back and nodded. "Okay, Subaru-chan!"

Track 3
A Pink Sheep And A Daughter Of A Super Rich Family?!

We'd been walking for about an hour and a half when we started to realize Subaru's estimate had been optimistic, based on our phone maps. I was starting to feel worn out when she suddenly stopped and turned around. "Guess what!". She took off her backpack and threw it open, grabbing out bags of snack mix with bits of square cereal and a handful of chocolate bars.

"It's snack time!". She thrust one of the chocolate bars into my hands. "You know this is a symbol of absolute victory, right?!"

"K*t K*ts are my favorite!". We sat down on a rock nearby and started to eat. "By the way, Hashi- Subaru-chan, I mean, uuee... What are those little flags you've been sticking in the dirt?"

"Oh! Those are survey flags. If it's like this, it's easy to see where the track should go when we come back". She held up a map that she'd sketched on with a marker. "I've been trying to follow the smoothest path over the hills! You know though..." she stood up and ruffled her hair. "We should keep going. I guess I underestimated how long it'd take, ehe”.

Not fifteen minutes after we'd started walking again, I heard a rustling noise coming from the trees. "Uuee... Don't try and scare me again Kimura-san...". I turned around and it seemed like Ran wasn't doing anything. I heard the rustling again and peered into the trees when I saw something. "Uuee, wow! A pink sheep! I've always wanted to see a real one! Woah, another!". I whipped out my phone and started filming them. "Hey, hey, guys, do you see?".

"Guys?...". I looked around. "Uuee, hey, wait up guys!"

"Uueee... How long has it been now?". I was exhausted, especially after having to run to catch up, miraculously not falling flat on my face. I pulled out my phone to see it had been more than three hours since we'd started. The sky was already taking on the first tinges of its afternoon golden color. Finally, we stepped out of the trees to find ourselves standing on a retaining wall across the street from a playground.

"Hey! This is right near my house I think! We did it!". Everyone else was looking tired too. I jumped down off the wall and crossed the street, since it seemed ok since there was no traffic. Subaru, Yasuko, and Ran plopped down on a bench. "Eheee... Yeah, we sure did, Umeko-chan...". Subaru ruffled her hair again, the way she does when she's nervous or apologetic. "Sorry it took so long though".

"Goodbye, Subaru-chan, Matsuoka-san-" I paused. "You know, is it alright if I call you guys Yasuko-chan and Ran-chan too?". Yasuko nodded, but Ran didn't respond to me... It's weird if I only call her Kimura-san though! "Bye Yasuko-chan, Ran-chan!". I turned to leave, but overheard the others talking as I started to walk home.

"...Ehe, Yasu-chan, I didn't think of what we were gonna do to get back to Shin Ojimachi, so...". Yasuko sighed. "I'll call my house and ask our driver to pick us up". Wow, Yasuko must be pretty rich if her family has a driver, right?. "Just like you'd expect from the daughter of the Matsuoka Corporation!", I heard Subaru laugh. Uuee, wow?! Like the big redstone company?

As I walked home, I thought about how much I still didn't know about minecarts or my new friends and how exciting it was to learn about them.
Re: Rideable Minecart High School and possibly other short stories tbd

Shiori and Ringo's omake from book 3, which I neglected to post earlier.
It's not really very good.

Omake track
Shiori's Side.

It’s Shiori Kusanagi again. Hey, why do you even care? Why are you seeing this again? Are you some kind of pervert who likes high school girls or something?! Huh?! Haah, whatever... Anyway, you remember who I am. I’m childhood friends wih Umeko and Ringo. Geez, those two goofballs...

I sighed as I turned the corner in the hallway. Maybe today I can figure out what's wrong with that comparator memory circuit. What?! Suddenly I heard a crash from one of the club rooms a few doors from the redstone club. I ran to the door I heard it coming from and threw open the door to see an... Unexpected scene. Umeko was on the floor just inside the room with another girl laying on top of her.

"Uu... Ueeeeee...". I just stood there for a moment not exactly sure what to do as the girl I didn't know got up, looking embarrassed, and started to help Umeko up. This is... I mean, maybe there's nothing wrong with doing that... But people should be quieter... Wait, this is probably just a misunderstanding, right?

"Oi, Shiorin! Did something happen?". Oh shit, I forgot Ringo was just behind me going to her club. I quickly closed the door and stepped away. It's better if Ringo didn't see that and I just forget it happened.

"Hmm? No it's... Everything's fine Ringo-chan!", I called out as she turned the corner and caught up to me.

"Uhuhuhuhu... Are you blushing Shiorin? What happened? Tell me tell mHHGGK". Hitting her on the forehead with the side of my hand shut her up. "No I'm not blushing!"

Character names

At some point I may write real character profiles, but the most important thing in my notes right now that doesn't come up in the story itself are the character name origins. As mentioned in the first post, the entire cast are named after plants that exist in Minecraft, although some of them are stretches to avoid just making names up.

Umeko Takenaka (TAKENAKA Umeko, 竹中梅子)
Her given name Umeko 梅子 means "plum child", while her family name Takenaka 竹中 roughly means "among bamboo" (lit. "bamboo-middle"). This is one of the inexact ones; the reference of course is to reeds.

Subaru Hashibami (HASHIBAMI Subaru, 榛昴)
Her given name Subaru 昴 means "Pleiades", while her family name Hashibami 榛 means "hazel". This again is an inexact reference; hazels are closely related to birches.

Yasuko Matsuoka (MATSUOKA Yasuko, 松岡安子)
Her given name Yasuko 安子 means "peaceful child", while her family name Matsuoka 松岡 means "pine hill".

Ran Kimura (KIMURA Ran, 木村蘭)
Her given name Ran 蘭 means "orchid" (no link because Minecraft Wiki doesn't have subheads for different flowers, so you'll just have to trust me on this), while her family name Kimura 木村 means "tree village". So technically this is a double reference.

Shiori Kusanagi (KUSANAGI Shiori, 草薙栞)
Her given name Shiori 栞 means "bookmark", while her family name Kusanagi 草薙 means "grass cutter" (which I'll admit is kind of a lame reference). Her given name was originally spelled 詩織 roughly meaning "weave a poem" (lit. "poem-weave") before I realized it could also be spelled 栞, which fits Shiori even better.

Ringo Yutani (YUTANI Ringo, 湯谷林檎)
Her given name Ringo 林檎 means "apple" (fitting I guess since I always imagined her with reddish brown hair), while her family name Yutani 湯谷 means "hot spring valley".

Hinagiku Akane (AKANE Hinagiuku, 赤根雛菊)
Her given name Hinagiku 雛菊 means "daisy" (see the above note on Ran's given name), while her family name Akane 赤根 means "deep red" or "rose madder". This is an additional reference to redstone. Fitting since she's in the Mining and Smelting Club.

Fuyumi Maitake (MAITAKE Fuyumi, 舞茸冬美)
Her given name Fuyumi 雛菊 means "winter beauty", while her family name Maitake 舞茸 means "dancing mushroom". Technically mushrooms aren't plants of course, but they're grouped with the other plants in Minecraft.

Naoka Katsura (KATSURA Naoka, 桂明花)
Her given name Naoka 明花 means "bright flower", while her family name Katsura 桂 literally means "cinnamon". I wanted a name that worked well in both Japanese and Korean which hers does. In Korean it would be read KYE Myung-hwa (Hangul: 계명화).

Tomoko Wakagi (WAKAGI Tomoko, 若木知子)
Her given name Tomoko 知子 means "knowing child", while her family fame Wakagi 若木 means "sapling".

Ruri Mugino (MUGINO Ruri, 麦野るり)
Her given name Ruri is written in hirgagana るり; a common kanji spelling is 瑠璃 meaning "lapis lazuli", while her family fame Mugino 麦野 means "wheat field".

Kazunari Urita (URITA Kazunari, 舞茸冬美)
His given name Kazunari 和也 roughly means "to be harmonious" (it is written with the characters for "harmony" and "to be"), while his family fame Urita 瓜田 means "gourd field". Another inexact reference; gourds are closely related to pumpkins.

Setting notes

The setting for the story is the two (fictional, of course) towns of Shin Ojimachi (新王子町) to the west and Akaiwa (赤石) to the east, in inland Kanagawa Prefecture (near Sagamihara). The two towns are separated by a line of mountains/hills. Shin Ojimachi High School is located adjacent to the satoyama below the mountains, and the school mine is in the mountains. The main roads between the two towns are towards the southern part of the hills (going between many locations in Shin Ojimachi and Akaiwa then requires some backtracking). The main shopping area in Shin Ojimachi, and the biggest and trendiest in the two towns, is Midorimachi (緑街).

“Shin Ojimachi” literally means “new prince town” (New Princeton). “Akaiwa” is spelled the same as the name of the Akashi Mountains, which are part of the Japanese Alps (Alps server). The name also literally means “red stone”. “Midorimachi” literally means “green neighborhood, green district”. The intended reference was to Green Road and Green House in New Princeton.
The Legend of Bird, Dimensional Super Hero

ever wonder why the birds in splatoon disappear into nothingness as they fly away? me too

The Legend of Bird, Dimensional Super Hero

My name is Bird. You probably know me from my day-to-day life, eating discarded takeout krillburgers from Five Squids. But would you believe it if I said that in the Bird Dimension I'm a superhero? It's true! When I'm not chillin' like I'm krillin' in Inkopolis Plaza, I fight crime and supervillains like the notorious Colonel. But Inkopolis is where I like to relax. Anyway so one day I’m just chillin’ on the pavement in the alleyway where Spyke hangs out when I see the Bird Signal in the sky. I’m just about to get going when this inkling who thinks she’s so fresh comes up, probably to buy some overpriced merchandise or add another slot to her Sky Blue Squideye tee.

“Bird!”, she yelled, confusing me since I expected her to want to talk to Spyke. I ignored her and me and my wingman took off and flew towards the sky. “Wait! Do you want to talk about our lord and savior Callie?!”.

“No!” I yelled back, “I must go save my people!”.

“You have shit taste in idols!”, I added.

And then I broke through the fabric of space-time, to return once again to the Bird Dimension and battle the forces of darkness, in the unending struggle against my nemesis, barbeque-flavor nuggets.
Re: Rideable Minecart High School and possibly other short stories tbd

ToroKoko – Rideable Minecart High School 4th Book
Subaru is basically a diet Toshino Kyoko

Track 1
A Golden Week Heatwave?!

Subaru flopped down on the clubroom table. "Aaaaahh! It's so hot! How is it so hot when it's still only April?". She managed enough strength to look up at the thermometer by the window. Her eyes went wide. "Th-thirty one degrees?! This is wrong! This is so wrong!". She turned her can of tea upside-down as if hoping it had magically refilled, but not even a drop came out. "Haaahh... Can we really work under these conditions?".

I slumped down in my chair, wishing I could already be wearing my summer uniform. "Say Subaru-chan, where is Yasuko-chan today?". She somehow managed to sit back up. "Ah, she didn't have time for club activities again. She had to pack for a trip. Oh, Umeko-chan, are you going anywhere for Golden Week?".

"Not really... Uuueee", I sighed. "Everywhere is way too crowded anyway... Ah, where is Yasuko-chan going though? It must be really exciting since she's from a rich family!".

"Ehe, did she tell you that?". Subaru sounded a bit surprised. I shook my head. "A-Actually I heard you say it after we went surveying. Was it something I wasn't supposed to know?". I felt flustered, but Subaru just laughed. "No, no! I just wondered. She's really modest about herself. It's weird you know! You wouldn't expect it! Anyway, I don't think it'd be exciting. She's just getting dragged to some cousin's wedding in America". I felt confused. Uuueee, I always feel confused! Do I even have to keep saying I do?

"Why would that be weird? And, uuee, I think it's exciting that her cousin is going all the way to America to get married, right?". Now Subaru looked confused. "No, get it! Her mother is American! Don't you think she should be more brash if she's half-American? She got her blonde hair from that side of her family, and her... ehe...". She glanced down at the table. Or I guess her chest? "Boobs". Uueeee, this is awkward... I tried to think of something to say.

"I'm sure yours will grow soon, Subaru-chan... Uueee...". I thought about just hiding under the table for a while, but decided I couldn't. I glanced worriedly over my shoulder, expecting Ran to be glaring a me or something, but she didn't even look up from the thick book her face was buried in.

"Flat is good". She kept reading and I really, really wanted to change the subject now.

"Uuaah! Ha, you know, didn't you say we should build our minecart over Golden Week if we had time, Subaru-chan?". She sighed. "Yeah, yeah, we should... Geeze, I wish we could wear our summer uniforms, right?". That reminded me about how I'd wished I'd worn something other than my uniform the last club activities. "Ah, I'm going to go get changed and then we can get to work! Well, I'm not sure if I'll be much help, uuee... But I'll do my best!".

Track 2
An Embarrassing Situation with Subaru?!

I stretched my arms, feeling much better now that I changed into casual clothes, and stepped out of the shower stall I'd been changing in, turning towards the door to leave. I yawned and opened my eyes.

"Hey, Umeko-chan!". Confused I looked around and saw Subaru sitting on one of the benches, pulling her skirt off one leg. "Uuuueeee...". I looked away. "I-I'll be at the shed, Suba-". She interrupted me. "We're both girls so it's ok! Right? Ehe, I mean, I didn't mean to embarrass you."

"I-It's just...". I remembered what Ran said the other day and wondered what she'd think if she knew I'd seen Subaru like this, and felt really flustered. "I know!", Subaru said, standing up and snapping her fingers. "It wouldn't be embarrasing if we were both in our underwear, right? Cmon!".

"Uuueee!" I yelped, backing away and almost tumbling over the other bench. "T-that's not how it works I-is it?! I already changed! That's sexual harassment!". Subaru suddenly looked a bit uncomfortable and ruffled her hair apologetically. "Ehe... I guess I took it too far. I'm sorry!". I looked at the floor. "Uueee, it's fine, Subaru-chan... Y-you're just really forward I guess". She smiled. "Ehe, yeah! I get that a lot!". She slipped on a pair of khaki shorts and a pink T-shirt. "Cmon, Umeko-chan!".

I arrived at the shed a little after the others, having dodged Ran seeing me by lying I’d forgotten something in my classroom. I’d worried I was still blushing from earlier and Ran would see me with Subaru and think something happened.

"Oh, Umeko-chan!". Subaru handed me a pair of thick goggles and gloves. "I figure you probably didn't have goggles so I bought you a pair!". I nodded and took them. "So, uueee... Where do you even start?". Subaru gestured at some blueprints on the wall. "This is the design me and Ran-chan drafted!". She picked up a thin piece of carved, sanded wood. "So, to start we... Ehe, Ran-chan can explain this better than me really". Ran cleared her throat and picked up another piece of wood that looked almost the same as the one Subaru was holding.

"This is a pattern". She seemed unhappy to be explaining it to me, but continued. "We use wood planks to make a square around it and put sand mixed with clay and water over it in the square and do it again with the one Subaru-chan has, making sure they're lined up the same and leaving a hole in one side... Then we remove the patterns and put the two molds together, and pour liquid iron in the top... Then after it cools we break the sand with a hammer."

"It's called sand casting!", Subaru added. She pointed at part of the blueprints. "These patterns are for the outside of the frame, which'll hold the axles and wheels, and then the body of the cart goes on top of that". I understood most of it I think. It seems dangerous though?! I put on the goggles and gloves and made a determined fist. "Ok! I'm ready!... I guess..."

"Uueeee... I'm beat...". I hung my head down and walked towards the front gate of the school with Subaru and Ran. It was still hot even as the sun had started to set. We'd managed to cast the two side frame pieces... Or Subaru and Ran did. I was too scared to do the hard parts working with hot iron, so I'd just helped pack sand. "Uaaahhh... I hope it's not this hot all week..."

I suddenly thought of something I hadn't realized before. "Subaru-chan... How are we going to be able too keep working during Golden Week? Won't the school be closed?". She stopped and turned around. "It's no problem! You know, clubs can get special dispensation from the student council! But...", she ruffled her hair again, "I totally forgot to make the application! So we're gonna be sneaking in!". My eyes went a bit wide after a second.

"...Uuueeeeeee?!". I can't become a delinquent!

Track 3
A Great Success For The Club?!

I stood up and stretched my arms as class ended. Before I could do anything else, I heard the old familiar sound of rapid footsteps outside followed by the classroom door being flung open, and predictably enough saw Subaru barge in. "Hey hey, Umeko-chan!". I glanced at Shiori and Ringo who seemed a bit taken aback. I guess the last times Subaru did this they'd already left? "Cmon and have lunch with us for once, Umeko-chan! Yasuko said she brought souvenirs home from America for the club!". I realized Shiori and Ringo had never met Subaru and felt a little embarrassed.

"Uuueeee... Uh, I guess I could, Subaru-chan... Where should I meet you? I-I'm just going to be a minute". She nodded. "Mhmm! Okay! We'll be in the club room today!". She left the classroom almost as fast as she'd came in. I turned to Ringo, who had a cheeky look on her face, and Shiori, who had a wide-eyed, mouth-agape expression. "Uueee... I guess you haven't met Subaru-chan before...".

"Uhuhuhu... Is this your girlfriend from your minecart club?". Shiori rolled her eyes. "Uueee... It's not like-", I was interrupted by Ringo standing up and throwing her arm around my shoulder. "She's pretty cute! You scored, Umechii! So have yoUgkhuhuaaaahh, Shioriiinnnn...". Ringo herself was interrupted by Shiori grabbing the collar of her uniform and pulling her off me.

"I-It's not like that at all, Ringo-chan! But she is who you're thinking of I guess? She's the girl I met who's the club president". I sighed. "Uuee, I should get going... Sorry I haven't been able to have lunch with you guys lately... You know what, I'll make it up to you soon, we can go to that cafe in Midorimachi you were talking about, Shiori, ok?".

"I'm here!". I pulled open the club room door and took my seat on the left side of the table. "Ah, welcome back, Yasuko-chan... How was your trip?". She leaned back in her chair. "It's always nice to see my cousins and my grandmother and grandfather. And it's so much more relaxing than spending Golden Week in Japan". Subaru and Ran had already started eating, and we both opened our bento too. "What about you, Umeko-san?".

"Ah, I didn't go anywhere for Golden Week, but... Uueee... We snuck into school to work on our new minecart". I hung my head, and Subaru flashed a sheepish grin across the table and ruffled her hair.

"Cheer up, Umeko-chan! You can blame it all on me if you want, ehe," Subaru said. "Oh!", she added, looking at my bento. "Omu-rice! How nostalgic!". To my disbelief she reached across the table, somehow grabbing a bite of my lunch with her chopsticks without having it fall apart, and plopped it in her mouth. As soon as she started to chew she got a surprised, slightly queasy look on her face. "U-Umeko-chan... A-Are there eggshells in this?".

"Uuee?... Oh, uh... I'm clumsy so eggshells get in all the food I make... But since it's still delicious I don't even notice anymore!".

"O-Ok... A-Anyway," she moved on. "Cmon Yasu-chan, what'd you bring back for souvenirs?!". Yasuko opened her backpack, grabbing out a few bags. I strained to read them. "Ore... Gon?".

"Oregon potato chips," she pointed at one bag, "And craisins. Ah, and in the last bag-" Subaru had already looked inside, pulling out a few boxes, with pictures of minecarts on the side. "Ah! Model kits!". I ate one of the... craisins? as Subaru handed me one of the models. "Uueee... Sour...". I tried to read the English writing on the box but barely understood any of it as I finished my lunch.

Subaru finished off the last of her pork cutlet and dramatically stood up. "Ok, club! Meet back up at the shed after class! Today we'll test our new minecart!".

I hurried to the shed after class, excited to see our work come to fruition even if I hadn't done too much of it myself. The others were already there when I arrived. Subaru was lounging on the grass by the tracks and stood up.

"Ok, Umeko-chan, Ran-chan! Would you do the honors?". I smiled and nodded. "Alright, Subaru-chan". I tried to avoid eye contact as me and Ran swung open the double doors in front of the spur of track leading to the shed. "Ok, remove chocks!", Subaru called out. I unclasped the chocks from the rails in front of the cart and stepped back. "Clear!".

"Release brake!". Ran pushed the brake lever all the way forward and I hurried around to the other side of the cart. The two of us pushed the cart forward, and it smoothly rolled down the track and out of the shed. The afternoon sun glinted on the iron carbody, and Ran pulled back on the lever, bringing it to a stop outside the shed doors. I noticed Subaru's eyes sparkling a bit.

"Uuee, Subaru-chan... Are you crying?...". She wiped a tear away with her hand and grinned. "I'm just happy! And you know, Umeko-chan, you really pulled through as a club member!". She ran her hand over the front plate of the cart. "The metalworking you did is really high quality, Ran-chan! This was a great success for the club... Oh, what do you think, Yasu-chan?".

Yasuko looked the cart over. "Ah, it's very well made, as you'd expect from you and Ran-san!". She turned to me. "Have you done anything like this before, Umeko-san?". I shook my head. "N-No... I didn't do much anyway, uueee... I was scared, If I'd spilled it..."

Ran put her hand on my shoulder and smiled. "You did do some of the casting though and did fine even though you were afraid! So I'm proud of you! Ah, I know, I'll bring you a bento tomorrow without any eggshells!".

"Uuee, Subaru-chan, I was going to have lunch at cafe and meet my friends actually so you don't nee-". She cut me off. "Ok! It's settled, I'll bring you a bento on monday then!".

Uueeee?! Subaru-chan is really going to make a lunch for me?!

Tried to do a concept sketch of Ran since I have writer's block. Idk how to feel about it
Rideable Minecart High School Omake: Lunchbox.

Otherwise unrelated to Book 5 which seemed like it would run slightly long (but not as long as turb's awards presentation), so I'm seperating it out.

Omake track

My heart was beating a bit faster than normal as the bell chimed for lunch. I mean, I've never had someone make a bento for me before... Uueee, I mean, I guess my mother did when I was younger, but... I've never gotten chocolate back on White Day either... Ah, I guess I haven't given ever given anyone love chocolate for Valentine's Day so I wouldn't... Uuueeee... Why am I even making a big deal out of this?

"Umechii!", I was shoken out of my confusion by Ringo. "Wanna eat lunch with me and Shiorin?"

"Uueee... Ah... No thank you, today". She seemed to notice I didn't have a lunch box with me. "Eeh, don't you always bring a lunch with you, Umechii?"

"Uuueehe... Yeah... I need to get going!". I wanted to leave quickly and not have to mention to Ringo that Subaru had insisted on bringing me a lunch or she'd take it weirdly. Half way to the club room I ran into Subaru, almost literally.

"Oh, hey Umeko-chan!, Ah, yeah, I promised to give you this!". She reached into the plastic shopping bag she was carrying and grabbed two identical convenience store pork cutlet bento and handed one to me. "Here!". I took it, feeling confused again. "Ah... Thank you, Subaru-chan". I started to turn. "Wanna come eat with us at the club room then?".

"Ah... I'm fine actually."
ToroKoko – Rideable Minecart High School 5th Book
Ringo would share her potato with you any day, Shiori – As seen on awards!

Track 1
An Icy-Cold Girl?!

I looked at my phone and sighed. "Uueee... It's already Friday and we haven't gotten anything done this week, have we?". Subaru was sitting with her arms crossed and an intense expression on her face. She slammed her palm down on the table. "It's been a month now since we went surveying, and we still haven't started working on the rail! We need to start soon if we want to save the school, don't we?!".

"We still don't know if we can build in the forest, though," Yasuko added "Or who to ask about it". Wait, I remembered something. Maybe I can finally say something useful?! "Uueee... Uh... I heard from a boy in my class, who's in the forestry and mushrooming club I think, that most of the forest is owned by the school... So, uuee, maybe they could give us permission?".

"Big if true," Ran responded, sounding a bit sarcastic. Maybe I was imagining it? I know she doesn't like me though... Uueee... "This is good! It's just what we need, Umeko-chan!". Subaru smiled at me. "Ok! Since tomorrow is Saturday we can do a lot of work then. Until then, club adjourned!".

I waved goodbye to Shiori and Ringo in the hallway, and opened the clubroom door to find Subaru, Yasuko, and Ran standing around the table, intently discussing something. "Ah... Hey, everyone?".

"Oh! Hey, Umeko-chan!", Subaru shouted over to me. "After we talk to the forestry club we're going to do something really fun! Did you know Shin Ojimachi has a seventh mystery?!".

"Uueee... Don't all high schools have seven mysteries. At least, in stories..." I trailed off. Subaru shook her head. "Last year when we started there were only six. It was really disappointing! But yesterday I overheard a seventh one!". She lowered her head and continued in a low voice. "They say... That late at night... A ghost haunts the club rooms...". She looked up and grinned. "How'd I do? Ehe, I guess I'm not very scary". She ruffled her hair a bit and we started walking down the hall until we got to the forestry club's door. Subaru knocked and swung it open.

The room was empty except for a girl sitting at the table. I blinked a few times. Blue... hair...? We all sat down around the table, but she didn't say anything, seemingly engrossed in a book. "Ehe... Hello?", Subaru asked. "Ah, I'm-".

"Fuyumi Maitake," the girl abruptly cut Subaru off as she tried to introduce herself. "Ah, nice to meet you, Maitake-san... I'm Subaru Hashibami, president of the minecart club". The girl turned a page in her book. "Vice president. Forestry and mushrooming club."

"So, uh...", Subaru continued. "We're interested in building a new minecart track and heard your club could give us permission to build in the forest?". The girl nodded. "Maybe it could be done". She paused for a while. "Do you have anything I can review?". Subaru seemed a little uncomfortable talking with her. "Ah, yes... Oh, Ran, you got the map, right?". Ran nodded and spread out the survey map on the table. Maitake closed her book, carefully set it aside, and began pouring over the map.

After a moment she got up and retrieved another map and returned to the table without saying anything. As we waited, Maitake increasingly looked perplexed and almost... flustered? She doesn't seem like a girl who gets flustered though... Before she finally looked up. "Why are you all still...", she brushed a strand of hair away from her eye. "I'll get back to you Monday...". Subaru nodded and stood up. "Ok! Thank you, Maitake-san!", she said, switching to English for some reason. I guess she thinks she sounds cooler that way? We filed out of the clubroom, and thinking about Maitake, something finally dawned on me as we started walking away.

"Uuee, Subaru-chan... Uuuu, maybe this is rude, but... How do you get your hair to be purple like that?". She stopped and I was afraid I really had been rude. She turned around and winked at me, flashing a grin and a hand gesture. "It's a secret! Kira!". Ran stifled a giggle and I was left a little confused. It was weird to hear Ran laugh, and I felt like it was a joke that went way over my head. "Uueee... Ok, Subaru-chan...".

Subaru led us down the hall toward the north end of the building until we got to the stairs, and then up one flight to the third floor. "They say that the stairs to the roof at the north end of the building have thirteen stairs going up and twelve going down! Isn't that...", Subaru sighed and plopped down on one of the steps. "Aaahh! I can't get excited for this one... It's lame...". Uuee, even I think the typical stair mystery is lame, really. "Ah, Subaru-san," Yasuko interjected, "We counted these stairs last summer now that I think of it."

Subaru stood up. "Ehe, yeah, I kinda remember that too". She jabbed her finger in the air, pointing back the way we came. "Ok, club! Onward to the real mysteries! We must search for them without any fear in our hearts of where they lead!".

Track 2
An Investigation Of Seven Mysteries?!

As we walked back towards the clubrooms, Subaru launched into an explanation of the next mystery, at first in her attempt at a spooky voice. "A long time ago... Sometime in the 90s...", she gave up, clearing her throat and going back to talking normally. "They say there was a girl who was in the mining club who died in an accident-".

"Ah," Ran jumped in, in her actually creepy voice. "Some say she was killed. By a love rival for the girl they both liked". She nudged my shoulder in a way that might have seemed friendly if it was Subaru ot someone else doing it and not Ran. "Romantic". She stifled a giggle at her own joke, and Subaru and Yasuko snickered in that way you do at a joke that's bad but sort of funny anyway... I-Is this really just her idea of a joke...?

"Anyway!", Subaru continued. "They say that her ghost haunts the mines!". We came to the door of the mining club room and Subaru threw it open. "Hina-chan!". Hinagiku and a few other girls were looking over a tray of lapis gems inside. Hinagiku said something to her fellow club members and walked over to us in the hallway, closing the door. "Ah, what did you want to talk about, Subaru-chan?".

"Oh, I wanted to ask you about the mystery of the mine ghost!". Hinagiku looked disappointed. "Really?... Ah, wouldn't you rather talk more about rails? I know you were asking if it's possible to install continuous welded rail withou-". Subaru shook her head and interrupted. "Some other time. Right now we're on the trail of the seven mysteries of Shin Ojimachi High!". Hinagiku sighed.

"Aww... Actually, do you believe in ghosts? I mean-", she blushed a bit. "I still believed in them in junior high, so!". Subaru ruffled her hair. "Ehe, not really. Ah, but do you know if the urban legend is true?". Hinagiku shook her head. She seemed depressed talking about it. "I can check the club records and see". She walked back in to the clubroom and rummaged around in a filing cabinet for a few minutes while we milled about in the hallway.

Hinagiku came back to the doorway. "So, the club keeps records of any injuries in the mines. I double checked and there's nothing like that urban legend". She tried to smile. "Ah, we've made some REAL serious improvements over time it looks like, from the records, so that's good, but... Geeze, it's still kinda a downer...". I felt depressed too now, and Subaru looked like she felt a little bad about bringing it up.

"Ehe, that didn't go so well either, I guess...", Subaru said, reading on her phone. "The third mystery is the instruments in the music room that play themselves at sunset... I guess we can't do that one right now". I sat down on the floor, leaning back against the wall, and Ran flipped through a glossy reference book, the three of us waiting for Yasuko to get back from the restroom. "Which is after that, Subaru-chan?".

"The place where things dropped roll uphill... Should that one even count?! It's not even on the school grounds! It's just on a side street near here". I glanced across the hallway after hearing footsteps and couldn't help but try and listen in to the two girls' conversation. "Hey hey, Kusanagi-san, whatcha doing on your phone?". Wait, Kusanagi-san?

"Oh... Geeze, don't laugh...". It is Shiori?. "I was playing L*ve L*ve, ok?!"

"Eh, you like stuff like that? I thought you only played serious games like Spl*t**n... Who's your favorite?".

"I can like cute stuff too, can't I?! And... It's embarrassing, but... Aagh, I like Nico... I think girls with twintails are kind of cute, ok?... Ah-". Shiori stopped abruptly and got a kind of... Worried? look on her face when we she saw me sitting there. "Oh, uh, you can go on ahead to clubroom, Narazaki-san". The other girl waved and hurried off. "See ya, Kusanagi-san!". I stood up and ruffled my hair... Uuee, did I pick that up from Subaru now?! "Uuee, hey Shiori-chan..."

She straightened her glasses. "Hey, Umeko-chan," wait, is she blushing a bit? That's weird for Shiori. "D-Don't make any weird assumptions, ok Umeko-chan?!". Huh? "Uueee, uh, ok, Shiori-chan?".

"Oh!", Subaru butted in. "This is one of your friends, right, Umeko-chan? Ah-", she bowed. "I'm Subaru Hashibami! It's nice to meet you! Oh, what club are you in?!". Shiori returned the bow. "Shiori Kusanagi. I'm in the redstone club. Ah, I should probably get going... It was nice meeting you". She turned and started walking away. Subaru leaned towards me, grinning. "Ehe, doesn't your other friend wear her hair in twintails?". It dawned on me what Subaru... and I guess Shiori earlier? were implying.

"Uuee, don't be silly, Subaru-chan! Shiori-chan doesn't think of Ringo-chan that way at all!". For a second I thought I saw Shiori flinch out of the corner of my eye but decided it was my imagination. "Oh! Yasu-chan, you're back!". Ran put her book away in her backpack. "Ah, where were we going next, Subaru-san?".

"Oh!", Subaru shouted after checking her phone again. She'd led us to a side street where we seemed to be looking slightly up hill. "This is the place! Ehe, anyone bring a ball or something?". Ran fished a baseball out of her backpack and dropped it. To my shock it really did roll uphill ahead of us.

"UUUEEEEEE?! H-H-How can it...?!". The ball rolled to a stop a dozen or so meters down the street, seemingly perched at the top of a hill. Subaru had an awe-struck expression too, but Ran and Yasuko looked unimpressed.

"Wow! It's some kind of optical illusion you said, right Yasu-chan?!".

Yasuko nodded in response to Subaru. "It's caused when the horizon is obstructed. Ah, actually". She got out her phone and clicked around before placing it at her feet. "Ok, take a look". Confused, I peered at the screen, which seemed to showing how high up we were. She picked up the phone and led us over to where the ball had come to a stop, putting it down next to the ball. "Uueee?! It's really a meter lower?! How does the phone even know?!".

"Ah, it has a digital barometer which measures air pressure by measuring electrical resistance in a strain gauge. The sensor has a relative accuracy of plus minus point zero five hectopascals I think, so it should be accurate to within point four meters...". I was starting to zone out, but Subaru and Ran still seemed to be listening intently.

"And another one checked off the list!", Subaru announced. "Victory is in sight!".

Track 3
A Ghost Haunting The Clubrooms?!

By the time we made it back to the school the sun had started to go down, coloring the sky golden, and I was starting to get worried thinking about how I'd need to go home in the dark. Yasuko had decided not to stay while we investigated the last four mysteries and gone home already, leaving just me, Ran, and Subaru, who looked a little sad.

"Aaagh... Ehe, I don't think we'll have time to research the sixth mystery today... That sucks!".

"What's the sixth mystery, Subaru-chan?". She stopped walking and leaned against a wall, clasping her hands behind her head. "It's the rare pink sheep of the Shin Ojimachi hills. No one knows why they're pink, but they are! ...Or, that's what the story says!". I remembered something. "Uuee! They're real!".

Subaru seemed surprised by my enthusiasm. "Ehe, seriously? Have you seen them?". I scrolled through my phone camera videos until I found the one I took when we went hiking. "Yeah! See, see?!". Subaru and Ran crowded in to watch the video. "...Uueee... This part is where I dropped my phone when I ran to catch up with you guys...". Subaru slapped me on the back. "That's our Umeko! Even when you're clumsy you really come through for us! Ehe, some would say that makes a girl more endearing and moe!". I wasn't sure how I should take that.

"Uuuueeeeee... Uh... Thanks... I guess?". I put my phone back in my pocket and tried to regain what composure I ususally have and avoid looking at Ran's expression. "...What mystery is next then?".

"Ah, the fifth mystery is a real scary one!". We entered the school building and she started leading us in the direction of the library. "They say that in the darkest corner of the library there's a frame that holds a cursed book of enchanting... It hangs upside down, and if anyone touches it... It disappears! And later reappears, like nothing happened!". Soon we made it to the library, following Subaru to a back corner. Sure enough, there was an old-looking framed book.

"Uueee...". I gulped. "S-Should we touch it?". Subaru looked a bit unsure too. "Ehe, we have to to prove it, right? Should I or do you want to...?". Ran glanced back and forth at us, and reached out and grabbed it out of the frame. Nothing happened, and she flipped it open, looking unphased. Me and Subaru peered over her shoulder.

"Hey, hey, what's it say?! One cup flour, two egg-". Subaru looked shocked. "I-It's just a book of pastry recipes?! What?! Why is it even...?!". Ran put it back in the frame, upside down. Subaru shook her head in disbelief. "Well... It's almost sundown. One more mystery before we go after the clubroom ghost."

We hurried to the music room, getting there a minute or two before sunset. I was getting tired, so I plopped down on the floor. "Uueee... I'm hungry...". I clicked around on my phone, making sure the bus I take part of the way to and from Akaiwa ran late enough I wouldn't miss it. We waited in silence as sunset approached.

Suddenly we heard a few notes playing, and soon a whole melody. "Uuueeeee... I-It's really playing my itself...". I looked at some of the instruments in the room, but, none of them were moving at all. I felt like I almost remembered the tune, but not quite.

"Beethoven," Ran whispered. "Moonlight Sonata". After only a few moments, the music faded. Subaru started looking around the room. "There's got to be a CD player or something hidden in here somewhere, right?! Right?!". I got up and me and started looking too. I walked up to a large cabinet off in the corner and swore I heard a tiny noise. I put my ear up to it and didn't hear anything else, but I was still curious. I stepped back, took a deep breath, and swung open the cabinet door. As soon as I did, a girl tumbled out of it on top of me and I feel over backwards. "UUUEEEEE!".

Feeling fuzzy as the shock wore off, I squinted at the girl as she clambered to her feet. I blinked a few times in shock. "S-S-Shiori-chan?!". I scrambled to my feet as Subaru and Ran ran over to me. "W-What in the world are you doing here Shiori-chan?!". She straighted her glasses, looking more flustered than I could remember seeing her in a long time. "A-Absolutely nothing! Absolutely!". I had to admit she didn't seem convincing. Subaru seemed to pick up on it too.

"Cmon, Kusanagi-san! What is it?! I can keep it a secret from anyone else I promise! Cmon!". Shiori had an expression like she felt trapped. "I already said! I-It's nothing! I-". Ran quietly interrupted, leaning in to Shiori's ear. "Wouldn't want someone to know about their friend's twintail fetish". Shiori's face went a bit blank.

"T-There's nothing like that! Don't be troublesome! Who even are you?!". Ran just kept smiling. Shiori sighed. "...The redstone club set up note blocks as a prank a long time ago; they're on a daylight sensor. Every Saturday someone changes the tune... I'm just saying this so you don't do anything troublesome, ok?!".

It was completely dark as we walked down the corridor toward the clubrooms, with only a half moon in the sky. The only other light was from the Subaru's phone flashlight as she led the way. "Uuee... I'm glad the vending machines still work at night. I was so hungry!". Subaru giggled a little. "Hey... It's not funny! Uueee...". I thought of something as we kept walking.

"You know, Subaru-chan... If you don't believe in ghosts, why did you want to look for one?". Walking next to her I could see her smile. "Well, you never know what might turn out to be true! And besides, even if we don't find anything and it's silly, it's fun to go on an adventure with your friends, isn't it?". It made me feel good to hear her answer.

"Oh, here's our clubroom!". Subaru opened the door and the two of us sat down. "Geeze, didn't Ran say she was gonna meet us? Oh, ehe, what about you, Umeko-chan?". She shined the flashlight on her face like she was telling a campfire ghost story. "Do you belive in ghosts?". I shrugged. "N-Not really, but... It still scares me to think of them... I once thought I saw one, actually...". Subaru looked curious. "Oh?".

"Uueee... When I was younger we used to live in an old house... One night it was really windy; I had just gone to bed and I heard a knocking sound from above me... B-But I didn't want to be scared, so I found a flashlight and went up into the attic". Subaru even looked a little bit scared by now. "A-And I still heard it, but it was like it was coming from outside now... S-So I looked out the window and-". Suddenly I heard a slamming noise and my blood went cold.

"UUUUUUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!". Subaru screamed too, and we both snapped our heads around to look at the origin of the sound, in the corner where Ran or Yasuko sometimes sit to read. I blinked a few times through my tears and saw Ran stepping out of the closet, wearing pajamas.

"R-R-R-Ran-chan?!". She yawned. "Good evening Umeko-san, Subaru-chan. Let's look for the ghost?". I tried to process it but couldn't come up with anything, and Subaru looked almost as confused as I did. She cleared her throat. "Ehe... Why are you doing wearing pajamas, Ran-chan?". Ran turned her head away from us. She seemed almost a little embarrassed, another expression I didn't expect from Ran.

"I don't like the noise at home some nights when it's busy. So sometimes I've been sleeping here".

"Busy...?", I asked. Ran just stared at me. "Oh! Ran-chan's family owns a noodle shop... They make the most incredible curry ramen! Eheee...".

"Uuee, S-Subaru-chan, you're drooling...". She wiped her face with her sleeve and ruffled her hair, giggling. "Uuueeee... Ran-chan, wouldn't your parents...". She glared at me, but answered the question. "I tell anyone who asks I'm sleeping over with Subaru-chan". Subaru laughed. "You should just come sleep over for real then, Ran-chan! I wouldn't mind you know! Ehe, I don't think my parents would mind either I think...". It was hard to tell in the dark but I swore Ran actually blushed a tiny bit. She looked at her feet. "I'm ok".

Subaru leaned back in her chair, swallowing the last bite of her lunch and taking a swig of her canned tea. "Aaahh... We never did learn anything about the clubroom ghost, did we?". I swallowed a bite of mackerel and sighed. "Uueee... Guess not". As I chewed a piece of egg I thought about it, almost choking as I came to a realization.

"It must have been Ran-chan! Ran-chan was the ghost people saw!". Ran and Yasuko looked dumbfounded. A grin crept over Subaru's face. She grabbed my hands suddenly. "It's brilliant, Umeko-chan! That must be it! We solved all seven mysteries!".
Right now battling lack of interest and ideas to bring you part 6

In the mean time, happy birthday Shiori Kusanagi (September 15)!

Honestly there's not much of a point to this post, but
Here's all the birthdays so you know when to not actually celebrate;

Subaru Hashibami – 7 February
Umeko Takenaka – 10 March
Ran Kimura – 19 August
Shiori Kusanagi – 15 September
Ringo Yutani – 3 November
Yasuko Matsuoka – 23 December

real character profiles and ART someday
I need to focus more on the real main characters and less on Ringo and especially Shiori tbh
ToroKoko – Rideable Minecart High School 6th Book
So while doing this I read some of Citrus and let me summarize the plot of it

Track 1
A Moe Anime Club?!

I let out a sigh, stretching my arms and laying down on the roof. "Uuueeeee... I'm so glad exams are over with for now... I wish I could do as well as you do though, Shiori-chan...". Shiori put down her chopsticks. "You just need to be conscientous about studying, Umeko-chan. Ah, high school tests are pretty challenging though. I don't know when the last time I didn't ace an exam was... Ah, sorry, I didn't mean to brag."

"Uhuhu, did Shiori Kusanagi-sama not score 100 this tim-UGUHKhuhu". Shiori shut Ringo up by flicking a bottlecap at her forehead. "Shi-o-riiinnnn... Sorry". I giggled a little and Shiori rolled her eyes. "Oh, I'm glad you did fine on your exams despite being disciplined, Ringo-chan".

"I wasn't even gonna read it! I just always buy Comic Y*r* H*m* on the day it comes out! I couldn't enjoy it fully at school anyway...". Shiori blushed a bit and turned her head away at Ringo's reply, straightening her glasses. "No one needs to know about that". Ringo grinned mischievously and leaned in towards Shiori. "Was I saying anything like that? Uhuhu, are you sure you're not the one with the dirty mind here, Shiorin?". I felt like I was missing something embarrassing here.

"I-I-It's nice to eat lunch together again, Shiori-chan, Ringo-chan... It feels like we've all been so busy lately with club stuff and the midterms...". I sighed again. "Uueee... Especially me not making time for doing stuff with you guys...". Shiori shook her head. "No, it's good that you're spending time on club activities. Oh, how are things going? You said you were building a new rail, right?". I nodded.

"Yeah, but, uueeeee... We've barely gotten anything done especially with exams. The forestry club said our survey map was no good so we need to do another one with them starting on Monday... What about you, Shiori-chan?".

"We've still been working on projects with comparators a lot. Oh, did you know there's an experiment you can do with a cake and a comparator?". I shook my head. I only kinda know what a comparator is and it doesn't seem like something that would have anything to do with cakes. "Ah, so, you cut a cake into seven slices and put a comparator on front of it, and it will output a fourteen strength signal that'll decrease by two for each slice you take."

"Uuueeee? How does that work?".

"Well, it's similar to a potato batt-". Ringo jumped in, cutting Shiori off. "Uhu, more importantly, is this some kind of moe anime club where you just make excuses to eat cakes everyday or what?". Shiori seemed to be getting a bit annoyed, and straightened her glasses again. "No. We're a serious club".

Ringo leaned back against the wall. "Eeeehhh? That's good I guess." Shiori grinned. "Oh? You're out of things to say, Ringo-chan?". Ringo crossed her legs. "Yep! Geeze, I can be serious too". Shiori snickered and stood up, the sun glinting off her glasses and obscuring one lens completely.

"So, you're declaring your defeat then at the hands of Shiori Kusanagi-sama? You were always a hundred years too early to face me anyway". Me and Ringo burst out laughing, and after a moment Shiori started laughing along with us and sat back down. "Aaagh, I got some sun in my eye doing that".

Ringo laid down, resting her head on her clasped hands. "You know, Umechii, I get what you mean. I miss when it seemed like we could just be carefree all the time. But we can still be carefree when we have the time to, right?". She sat back up. "Hey, since we don't have classes tomorrow, wanna come over to my place? It's been ages and I picked up a new fighting game the other day!".

I nodded, gathering up my lunchbox. "Yeah! That'd be fun. What about you, Shiori-chan?". She closed up her bottle of water. "Sure. Ah, text me about it later, ok Ringo-chan?". I turned to leave. "One more thing Umechii!", Ringo got my attention. "Uhuhu... Ask me for advice if you want to enhance your relationship," she put her hand on my shoulder and her eyes seemed a little... sparkly?

"There's knowledge an innocent maiden just wouldn't kno-UGHUK". Shiori hit her pretty hard. "Don't put weird ideas in her head!".

"Uuueee... Uh... I'm gonna get going and I'll see you guys tomorrow?".

I yawned as I opened the door to the clubroom. "Good afternoon, guys". I heard Subaru shout something unintelligible as I stepped in. She gulped down whatever she was eating before trying again. "Umeko-chan, guess what?! Ran brought a cake!". I tried to process it; I wouldn't have guessed Ran would be one to bring something like that and I started thinking about what Ringo and Shiori said. I pulled out a chair and sat down, more hesitantly than usual. "So, you want some Umeko-chan?! Right?!".

"Uuueeeee... N-N-No thank you Subaru-chan...". I stuttered out. "Eeeeehh? You sure? That's not like you!", she replied, glancing at the cake. "And there's this much left... I can't eat it all, Umeko-chan!... Ehe, maybe one more slice..."

"I-I need to watch what I eat though!", I said. It was true even if it wasn't my real reason. Uueee, I don't get how Subaru can eat so much... "Eeeh... You're pretty thin anyway, Umeko-chan, so some cake isn't going to hurt you, right?". She snapped her fingers. "Ehe, maybe it'll all go to your breasts like Yasu-chan!".

"Ah, Subaru-san, that's a bit..." Yasuko protested. I felt myself blushing, and Subaru sheepishly grinned and ruffled her hair, cutting herself another slice of cake. I looked around and noticed the model kit Yasuko bought for me still sitting on the shelf and made up my mind. Okay! I'm going to do club stuff! I conspicuously pushed my chair back and got it down. My determined expression quickly melted as I remembered how intimidating it looked.

"...Want a slice of cake, Umeko-chan?", Subaru asked, pushing the box towards me. I hung my head. "Uuueee... Yes Subaru-chan". I cut myself a slice and started eating. "Is something bothering you, Umeko-san?". Yasuko's question caught me off guard a little, but I nodded. "I-I was just thinking about something my friend said... I don't want to be in a club only to eat cakes and hang out, but I still don't know much about minecarts..."

"Umeko-san. What is it about minecarts that makes you want to be in this club?". I was surprised Ran seemed to be talking to me kinda normally and it took me a moment to think of my answer. "I... You see... Well, I-I like to cook even if I'm not good at it, so I understand being joyful about the work you put in to making something... And it's actually pretty interesting how all the little parts in something like that works together, it's...", I searched around in my head for a metaphor.

"Like a soup!". I wasn't surprised when Subaru started laughing but I still felt embarrassed. She grinned, still choking back laughter. "That's a good answer. I mean it! You know, I'm really glad you joined the club, Umeko-chan! Ah, and not just because otherwise we'd be on the way to getting shut down, ehe..."

Oh, I know!", she added. "I'll help you learn all the tricks for putting model kits like these together! It's really not scary at all."

Track 2
A Goal Before Summer Vacation?!

Silencing the alarm clock on my phone, I sat up and stretched my arms. Glancing over at a shelf I saw the model kit Subaru helped me put together. It's already June! Summer is almost here! Finally I can wear my summer uniform! I smiled, hopping out of bed and down the hall to brush my teeth. "Uhehe", I giggled a bit to myself looking at my reflection in the mirror. "My hair's gotten pretty long...". Uuueee, 15 is too old to be talking to yourself isn't it?!

Returning to my room I slipped out of my pajamas and pulled on my uniform when I had an idea. I rummaged through a drawer and dashed back to the bathroom, tying my hair up in twintails.

On my long way to school I started thinking about my first two months at Shin Ojimachi. It's only been two months, but I'm already starting to feel more confident as a high school girl! I've learned a lot too, and lately we've been doing a lot of stuff at the club to get permission from the forestry club to build the new rail. Getting off the bus, I skipped the rest of the way to school, enjoying the refreshing feeling of short sleeves.

"Oi, Ringo-chan!". Shiori? I glanced about, expecting to see her and Ringo somewhere, then turned around to see Shiori. She blinked a few times, a look of shock and a slight blush creeping across her face. "Huh, Umeko-chan? Why are you... Geeze, for a second I thought you were Ringo-chan from behind because of your hair". We started walking towards class together. "Uuuee... I just noticed my hair hadn't been cut in a while and thought it would be fun."

Uuee, I guess twintails make her excited so... I froze. Uuuueeee?! Why am I thinking about that?! Oh no, am I becoming a pervert from hanging around Ringo and older girls?! Even for a high school girl it's not normal to think about what your friends like like that is it?!

"Umeko-chan, you can't sit there all day". I snapped out of it and noticed Shiori standing in the doorway of the classroom. "Uuuee... Yeah, Shiori-chan...". I decided to pull the ribbons out before stepping into class. Uueee, so much for my confidence now, I guess.

The rest of the day in class and lunch with Shiori and Ringo was exhausting but luckily more uneventful, and after what felt like forever I made it to the clubroom, setting my backpack aside and flopping down into a chair, collapsing on the table. "Uuueeee... I'm so tired today..."

"Listen up, Umeko-chan!". I jumped a bit at Subaru shouting in my ear. "Alright! Now that everyone is here, it's time to go over our club goals for the last few weeks of the semester". She made a determined fist. "The whole world will judge us on if we succeed or fail! Our summer vacation hangs in the balance! We can't possibly enjoy it with a guilty conscious from not achieving our dreams!". She scanned the room. I noticed Ran and Yasuko politely clapping in response to her motivational speech and clumsily joined in too.

"Aha! I found it!", she yelled, picking up a piece of construction paper and holding it up. "...B-Break ground on the new rail by the end of June?", I asked. She flashed a grin and a thumbs up. "...I couldn't think of anything else! Ehe, but it's a good goal, huh?". I blinked, processing it all. It's still hard for me to keep up with how fast Subaru goes sometimes. "Y-Yeah... Uh...".

I wondered if my question was silly for a second. "W-We know how to build a rail r-right?". Subaru's eyes darted around and she ran her hand through her hair. "Ehe... Hina-chan has been giving us advice on the stuff I didn't know". Ran looked up from her book, briefly. "We need a new rolling mill". She quickly returned to being engrossed in what she was reading. "Ah, I made sure we had money set aside for tools in the club budget for the semester, so it shouldn't be an issue."

"Oh! That's our Yasu-chan! Ehe, it's almost like you're the real club president and not me sometimes". Subaru cleared her throat. "See, Umeko-chan! There's nothing to worry about! Well, not too much... But anyway! In the meantime, now that the survey map is done, while we wait for the forestry club to review it..."

"...I have no idea!".

"Uuuueeeee?!". She ruffled her hair again. "Ehehehehe... Well... We could test the minecart some more!".

"Ah, that would be fun, but...", Yasuko responded. "We already tested it a lot."

"We ran out of lubricating oil", Ran added. "Hmm... Oh! We still need to figure out who to ask for permission to build on the Akaiwa side of the hills."

"I-I think it's municipal land...", I spoke up. "Uuueee... Would they really take a school club seriously?". Subaru slammed her hand down on the table. "School clubs are very serious! High school clubs are the building blocks of society! Without them it would be like the youth of society were adrift on the ocean!". She kept up her pose and determined expression for a moment before hanging her head.

"Aaahhh... You might be right...". She sat back down, and just as soon as she did she snapped her fingers, seeming like all her energy had suddenly come back to her. "Aha! I know! If there's nothing else to do let's go to D*nny's on Saturday! It's decided then!".

"Uuueee...? O-Ok...".

Track 3
Something Like A Date?!

I caught my breath as I finally made it to the restaurant, after jogging from the bus stop. I checked the time on my phone. "...I'm already ten minutes late... Uueee, I didn't want to keep Subaru-chan and the others waiting...".

"Eh? Umeko-chan?!". Uuee? I looked up to see Subaru. "S-Subaru-chan? I-Is something wrong?". I couldn't figure out why she seemed surprised. "I just wondered why you were here is all. Ran-chan and Yasu-chan had errands to run so I figured I'd just have lunch by myself". She glanced at her phone before looking up and ruffled her hair a bit. "Ehe, I guess I didn't text you like I meant to. Well, eating with friends is better anyway, right?!". We stepped in to the restaurant and a waiter welcomed us and lead us to a table.

"Ehe, with just the two of us though it feels kind of like a date, doesn't it?". I wasn't sure how to respond. "Uuee... I don't really know?". Subaru says embarrasing things like that sometimes. "Oh! I know... Do you have any boy you like, Umeko-chan? Ehehe, or maybe you like girls better?!".

"Uuueee, I-". Subaru glanced away a bit and cut me off. "Ehe, maybe that was a bit too much too soon for a moe character like you, Umeko-chan". Uuueee, why does Subaru always call me that?! That's some anime thing right?! I sighed. "N-No, I don't really have anyone I like... Uuee, are you ready to order?".

"Oh, yeah, sure, as long as you are!". She tapped the call button and the waiter came over to our table. "What would you like, miss?". Subaru answered almost before he finished asking her. "Pork cutlet! Ah, with the eggplant and spinach side."

"And for you, miss?". I panicked for a second before remembering what I wanted. "I-I'll have the h-hamburger steak with egg please...". We sat in an awkward silence for a moment before I broke it. "W-What about you, Subaru-chan? Uuuee, I mean, do you have anyone you like?". She seemed to think about it deeply.

"...I like everyone!". Uuuueeeee?! "...Ehe, I mean, not like that though, I guess". She flipped through a menu. "Oh! For dessert they have a giant parfait for two!". She put it back in the holder and again looked like she was deep in thought. "Ah, if we got that then it'd really be a date! Ehe, we aren't even on a real date so that'd be a bit too embarrassing, huh?".

"Y-Y-Yeah... Uuuee...". I shifted awkwardly in my chair. "Do you have any plans for summer vacation, Subaru-chan?". She looked up from her phone. "Not really right now. Aaah, Yasu-chan is going to America again this summer and said I could come but it's so expensive... What about you Umeko-chan?".

"I might go to Hokkaido with my parents... Uueee, Yasuko-chan gets to do so many cool things though...". The waiter returned with our food and I started quietly eating. "Can you believe having a job after school is against the regulations? But summer jobs are fine for some reason... Aaagh, I dunno how I could come up with a hundred thousand yen, so I might just find one anyway!".

"H-How is it, Subaru-chan... I've actually never had the pork cutlet here...", I changed the subject. She looked up and I noticed she'd already eaten most of her cutlet. Uuueee?! How did she eat so much of it so fast?! "It's great! Ehe, if there's one food I'm passionate about it's pork cutlet!".

"Uuueee... Y-You have some sauce on your cheek". She blinked and then licked it off, ruffling her hair again. "Ah, you know in the movies and anime how when people are dating and when some food gets on their girlfriend's face sometimes they lick it off them? Don't you think that'd be way too much in real life?!". I giggled a little. "Uuueee, yeah... I think I'd die of embarrasment...". I finished my hamburger and, unable to resist, started looking over the dessert menu.

Subaru threw her hand down on the call button. "I'll take the giant parfait!". I was surprised and looked down at the table as the waiter left. "Eh, you don't want anything, Umeko-chan?. "Uue?" I looked up. "D-Didn't you get the parfait for two?... I-I Mean, I guess it isn't really embarrasing for friends to share something like that, so...".

"Eeeh? Why are you blushing, Umeko-chan?" A-A-Am I?. "-Ehehehe... I was just really hungry so I got one for myself!". I blinked a few times. "Ueh?". After not long, the waiter brought out the parfait with two spoons. "I-I guess I'll have some then."

"Ah, sure go ahead... Wait though, are you saying you don't think I can finish it all?! Just you watch me!". Uuueee...

"Aaaaaah... I feel a little sick... Why didn't you save me and eat more, Umeko-channnnnn?". Uuueee, I almost thought there was no way she could ever eat so much she got sick... "I-I wasn't that hungry anymore and I thought you still wanted it... Uuueee, and it was a little embarrassing after all..."

"Oh, Umechii!". I looked and saw Ringo a few meters away. Uuueee, she isn't going to say anything weird since I'm alone with Subaru is she? "H-Hey Ringo-chan". She walked over to us. "Oh! This is one of your friends, right Umeko-chan?!".

"Y-Yeah. This is Ringo Yutani-chan. A-And Ringo-chan, this is Subaru Hashibami-chan... S-So what are you up to Ringo-chan?". I tried to keep the conversation going. "Oh, just buying some manga...". She took a book with a weird cover of a blonde-haired girl with messy clothes and a sad expression laying on top of another girl out of the plastic bag she was holding. "W-What's it about?".

"Uhu... Well...", she looked a bit more uncomfortable than usual talking about it, maybe because Subaru was there. "It's a yuri love story between two stepsisters". Uuuee, if it's that kind of weird book I'm kind of sorry I asked... "What about you though Umechii?".

"Uuee, n-nothing much, w-we were just having lunch as a club...".

"Ehe, no one else could make it though, so it almost felt like a date!". Uuuee?! W-What are you doing Subaru? Ringo grinned. "Uhuhuhuh... So tell me, is this your first date Umechii or have you been out before?".

"Uuuee, I-It's not really like that Ringo-chan...".

"Aagh, I need to get going anyway. Later, Umechii!". Ringo started to walk away but turned around after a few steps, flashing a thumbs up. "Oh, I just want you know you have my blessing for this, Hashibami-san!". She turned back around and skipped away.

"...Ehehe, your friend is pretty interesting huh, Umeko-chan?".

"Uuuueee... I-I mean, she's cool but... Yeah...". I let out a sigh. "Uuaah, I should head home...".
Book 6 omake
Vruet make sure to complain about Ringo's taste in fighting games

Omake track

Shiori's Side.

It's me again, Shiori Kusanagi. Today I was going to visit my childhood friend Ringo's house and play a new game she got, so... Yeah, that's why I'm here.

"Haahh... I wonder what insanity Ringo has for me today...". I stepped up to the door of the house and was about to knock when I heard someone calling me. "Hey, Shiori-chan! Uuueee, I thought I was gonna be late!". I turned around on the doorstep. "Ah, good afternoon Umeko-chan". I knocked on the door, quickly hearing rapid footsteps before it was flung open.

"Shiorin! Umechii! Good afternoon. Uhu, come right in". I stepped into the entryway, slipping out of my shoes and into a pair of slippers. "My parents are away, so you don't have to feel like you're imposing either!". I noticed Umeko smile sheepishly and ruffle her hair. She's picked that up as a tic from Hashibami, I guess?

"Ah, is the PS4 still in your room, Ringo-chan?". She nodded. "Yeah, you can head right up if you want, I'm just gonna look for some snacks."

"Uuee, I'm going to use the bathroom first then I'll be right up, Shiori-chan". Well, ok. I went upstairs and into Ringo's room, sitting down on the carpet by the TV stand. "Ah, is this the game Ringo-chan was talking about?". I picked up the case. "D*ng*k* B*nk* Fighting Climax Ignition?". These kinds of games always have such ridiculous titles. I don't know many of these characters... I put the case down and leaned back agaist Ringo's bed.

Is there something there? I turned around. "Oh, there's something sticking out". I suddenly felt tempted to look inside it. "That wouldn't be...". I thought of the last time Ringo came to my house and ransacked my room.

"Nevermind". I pulled the cardboard box out and opened it. "...Of course it's all manga, typi-". Wait, this is all R18 manga?! H-How does she even-

"Ah. So you saw it". I felt a chill and turned around to see Ringo with a dark expression. I'm never going to live this down so maybe I should just fake my own death now... She grinned, making her usual goofy face and jumped down onto her hands and knees over me, blocking me from escaping and trying to jump out a window or something. "Uhuhuhu, just like I thought, you totally have a dirty mind, don't you Shiorin?!".

"I-I didn't even look at any of them! These aren't something a high school girl should even have!". Can I just jump out that window now?

Umeko's side.

"Ah, I wonder what kind of snacks Ringo-chan has today?". I skipped up the stairs and towards Ringo's room, pushing on the partially opened door and steppinng in. "Did you find anything good Ringo-cha...". I took in what I was seeing, with Shiori laying against the bed and Ringo on her hands and knees over her. "Ueh?". I blinked a few times, not quite able to thing of a response.

"It's nothing like that at all, Umeko-chan! Don't be stupid! And that applies even more to you Ringo-chan!".

"No fair, Shiorin, you were the one who was snooping! Uhu, she's right though that it's not like that, Umechii... Dating a tsundere like her would be too high-maintenance anyway". Shiori looked even angrier after Ringo said that.

"Uuueee... I'm so confused...".

Omake track

"Ehe, it's really too bad you and Yasu-chan were both busy today. Ok, see you later Ran-chan!". Subaru waved and turned towards the restaurant. Ran was about to turn and go on her way herself when she happened to notice Umeko near the restaurant entrance, catching her breath, and decided her errands could wait. She took up a position in the bushes not far from the window and watched as Subaru and Umeko entered and took their table. Isn't this kind of like a date then if it's just the two of them? Maybe Umeko-san is more of a rival than I even realized... They just seemed to be making ordinary smalltalk and eating.

"Ah, what in the world are you doing there, Ran-san?".

H-How can it be the very last person I would want to be busted by? "Ah, Yasu-chan...". Ran pointed at the window. "...Are you spying on them?".

"Uh... Yes". Yasuko sighed. "You're jealous of Umeko-san, aren't you?". Ran shook her head emphatically. "I just don't think she should take Subaru-chan."

Ah... I-Isn't that the same thing?, Yasuko thought. Ran went back to watching. Her eyes got wide. "Sharing a parfait now. Doesn't that count as an i-indirect kiss?". Ran jumped up and Yasuko grabbed on to her to stop her from running into the restaurant. "You shouldn't, Ran-san!". Both of them tumbled over.

Yasuko sighed. "We should really go before anyone sees us here. Ran shrugged her shoulders. "Fiiiinnne, Yasu-chan...".


I debated whether or not to post either of these, mainly because I'm not sure what I think of the characterization. The first one is kind of a little over-the-top in general I feel (even it being Ringo I dunno about her having a box full of H doujins), and I think Shiori acts slightly out of character by looking in the box in the first place. Umeko also acted a bit out of character by almost immediately assuming it was a sexual situation, but I cut the line before posting because the scene works well enough without it. I debated this writing Book 6, Track 2 as well, specifically the paragraph where Umeko's thoughts wander to Shiori's thing for twintails. This was also toned down slightly; originally Umeko specifically said "turned on" and not "excited", which seemed a bit too much for her. For that matter, in her first spoken line in Book 1 she originally stated her ambition as being "to become a sexy and confident high school girl!", not "beautiful".

The second one I think suffers from me not writing much in third person, as well as from me not spending enough time developing Ran and Yasuko as characters. Part of the reason I wrote it in third person to begin with is I didn't think I could do a good job with Ran's internal monologue, although I ended up having to attempt that anyway to make it interesting and fill time. I guess while I'm rambling about what I cut out I'll post some deleted scenes from other chapters.

Book 5, Track 1

"Uuee, Subaru-chan... Uuuu, maybe this is rude, but... How do you get your hair to be purple like that?". She stopped and I was afraid I had been rude. She turned around and grinned. "A secret makes a woman, woman", she replied, in English again. Ran stifled a giggle and I was left unbelievably confused. It was weird to hear Ran laugh, and even though I kind of understood what she said I felt like it was a joke that went way over my head. "Uueee... So, are we going to research the mysteries now?".

[This was cut because it felt awkward, particularly the dumb meta-joke; Subaru's quote was notably used by a character in Detective Conan, and Ran shares her name with Detective Conan's main female protagonist. Instead in the final version, Subaru does the Ranka wink.

Macross did it first, Nico]

Book 6, Track 1

"Uhuhu, did Shiori Kusanagi-sama not score 100 this tim-UGUHKhuhu". Shiori shut Ringo up by flicking a bottlecap at her forehead. "Shi-o-riiinnnn... Sorry". I giggled a little and Shiori rolled her eyes. "Oh, I'm glad you did fine on your exams despite being disciplined, Ringo-chan".

"I wasn't even gonna read it! I always buy Comic Y*r* H*m* on the day it comes out. I couldn't enjoy it fully at school anyway...". Shiori seemed to blush a bit at Ringo's reply. "A-are you- I don't need to know about tha-". Ringo grinned and laughed. "Uhuhu, no, no". She leaned back on the roof, resting her head on her clasped hands. "I have better stuff... Uhu, the perks of having an older sister who understands your interests...". Shiori went completely red.

[So, that's how she gets her H-manga. Ringo goes WAY over the top here, and the implications would've gotten pretty awkward if Ringo still ended up buying Citrus (the manga she buys in Book 6, Track 3), which she would've probably since it's already established here she's an avid reader of Comic Yuri Hime]
Sadly not Rideable Minecart High School

Due to some circumstances which I will not go in to I've been in no mood for some time write Rideable Minecart High School; even at the best of times it can be hard for me to move the story along while keeping up a cheerful tone and I definitely haven't been anywhere near my best for most of this past month or two. There's been some other projects I've been considering or working on but the main one of those I haven't worked on much either, mainly because I'm lazy and don't feel like creating a bunch of all new characters.

Then there's another project I felt compelled to do; I have it basically thought out in my head to a greater extent than most of my ideas but for various reasons I am now even less confident about it than is usual for my stories and I planned to keep it to myself at least for a long time. I've kind of had fun writing some battle scenes (something I obviously can't do for ToroKoko) for this and my other prospective project though, so against any better judgement I decided to post what I have so far. I made a point of avoiding character names but especially if you know me well at all it should be easy enough to guess what is going on, I just feel like being cryptic. This is probably closer to my default style of writing than ToroKoko where I try to keep it upbeat; darker, angrier, and pretty overwrought. It ends a bit abruptly I know.

Some asides. I decided early on I wanted to use Irish for attack callouts here (another long-ish story). Irish is kinda more divergent than I would've expected for an Indo-European language and when I wanted to write a snippet of real dialogue I was totally lost (I'm not actually good with languages, I just pretend to be, plus I was far less familiar with the Celtic languages than the Romance or, obviously, Germanic ones), so if anyone here is Irish I should probably apologize for likely mangling it badly. Also, I need to start writing in wider windows; whenever I post stuff here what I thought were nice substantial paragraphs are actually kind of slim.

Actually "wider" is fitting here. Ha ha... Also I need a dumb blog, this is actually longer than the story text.


The girl leapt backwards out of the path of the spearhead, the chain-linked shaft coiling behind it like a scorpion's tail, the purple and golden sky reflected on it as it crashed and buried itself in the ground. She somersaulted backwards, her white cape billowing around her, before she hit the water, plunging into the river. She closed her eyes, tightly grasping her sword in her right hand, and held out her left in front of her. She spoke, somehow, but couldn't understand the words. "Uisce Céim!".

She felt the water under her push her up. She shifted her weight forward and rode the column upwards, shooting up out of the river, silhouetted against the underside of an airplane roaring into the evening sky behind her. She focused her eyes on her adversary, another girl about her age, her long red hair and red tunic waving violently in a gust of wind. The red-haired girl yanked on the handle of her spear, dislodging the tip from the earth and pulling the segmented shaft together.

"There's no need for you to fight her; let's withdraw!". Floating above the riverbank she glanced aside at the small animal, sitting on the roof of a building. "If she wants to fight... I'm not going to lose to her or run away, ever!". She closed her eyes, breathing deeply. "I riocht is go bhfaighidh mo focail leat...", she held her sword with both hands, turning it so its cutting edge faced up, tip aimed at the other girl. She released a safety and pulled the trigger.

"Síon Lann!". With a flash and a burst of steam, the blade launched from the hilt. The spent cartridge ejected from the chamber, and she swiftly retrieved a fresh cartridge from her cloak and inserted it, liquid metal flowing from the hilt and forming a new blade. As it flew, the blade exploded, blanketing the riverbank in a storm of ice needles.
Sadly I still haven't been working much at all on Rideable Minecart High School. However, I did make a little bit more progress on book 7 and I can share Turb's new sketch of Ran


With that, here's the full first chapter draft of my other project.


The girl leapt backwards out of the path of the spearhead, the chain-linked shaft coiling behind it like a scorpion's tail, the purple and golden sky reflected on it as it crashed and buried itself in the ground. She somersaulted backwards, her white cape billowing around her, before she hit the water, plunging into the river. She closed her eyes, tightly grasping her sword in her right hand, and held out her left in front of her. She spoke, somehow, but couldn't understand the words. "Uisce Céim!".

She felt the water under her push her up. She shifted her weight forward and rode the column upwards, shooting up out of the river, silhouetted against the underside of an airplane roaring into the evening sky behind her. She focused her eyes on her adversary, another girl about her age, her long red hair and red tunic waving violently in a gust of wind. The red-haired girl yanked on the handle of her spear, dislodging the tip from the earth and pulling the segmented shaft together.

"There's no need for you to fight her; let's withdraw!". Floating above the riverbank she glanced aside at the small animal, sitting on the roof of a building. "If she wants to fight... I'm not going to lose to her or run away, ever!". She closed her eyes, breathing deeply. "I riocht is go bhfaighidh mo focail leat...", she held her sword with both hands, turning it so its cutting edge faced up, tip aimed at the other girl. She released a safety and pulled the trigger.

"Síon Lann!". With a flash and a burst of steam, the blade launched from the hilt. The spent cartridge ejected from the chamber, and she swiftly retrieved a fresh cartridge from her cloak and inserted it, liquid metal flowing from the hilt and forming a new blade. As it flew, the blade exploded, blanketing the riverbank in a storm of ice needles.

The girl jolted up, in her ordinary bed and ordinary room. "...A dream?". Her memory of it was already faded. "Gah, a weird one too!". She glanced at the alarm clock on her nightstand. "Aagh, I can't believe I woke up early all because of a stupid dream like that!". She reluctantly pulled herself out of bed to get ready for school, pulling on her uniform, combing her hair, and affixing a small golden clip in her hair. She yawned and opened the bedroom door, making her way down the hall to brush her teeth.

"Ah, good morning Sayaka; you're up early today."

"Good morning mom". Sayaka straightened her hairpin again in the bathroom mirror. "Yeah, I guess. I'll actually have time to eat breakfast before I leave for school". She struck a pose. "Alright! I'm feeling good about today!". She ran back to her room to grab her bag and dashed down the stairs to the dining room. She yawned as she took a plate and sat down, scooping up a fried egg and slice of tomato from the serving platter and grabbing a slice of toast.

"Good morning Sayaka". She took a bite of her breakast. "Good morning dad". Her father flipped through the pages of his newspaper. She caught a glance of one of the headlines, something about a case of amnesia in Shinjuku. "Be sure to thank Madoka-chan for the tomatos again for me; they're delicious."

"Yeah, I will. Madoka's dad is really good at gardening, huh?". She finished off her toast and slung her bag over her shoulder. "I better get going". Sayaka stood up, stretching her arms. She set her plate down in the sink and headed out the door. "See you later!". She took a more leisurely pace walking to school today, enjoying having the time to spare.

"Good morning Sayaka-san!". She turned around and paused. "Oh, good morning Hitomi! Heh, for once I'm not the one catching up with you, huh?". Hitomi smiled. "And Madoka-san is still last". Sayaka giggled. "Hehe, naturally".

"Hitomi-chan! Sayaka-chan!". Sayaka and Hitomi smiled. "There she is, huh? Good morning!". Sayaka looked her over. "Back to your usual ribbons, huh Madoka?". Madoka put her hand behind her head, looking a little embarrassed. "Y-Yeah... The other ones just felt too flashy and it wasn't really me". The three girls started walking and Madoka sighed. "I've been feeling like someone was watching me in class... Is that crazy?".

"Do you think it's that transfer student, Madoka-san?", Hitomi offered.

"If there's that kind of creep I'll take care of them!". Sayaka grinned. "After all, Madoka is all mine!". Madoka just looked more embarrassed and Hitomi rolled her eyes. "Uh, T-Thanks, Sayaka-chan..."

Sayaka yawned as she stepped out of the classroom. "Hey, Madoka, wanna stop and eat somewhere again?". Madoka shook her head. "I don't really feel like it today, and Hitomi-chan couldn't anyway. She has piano lessons tonight". Sayaka shrugged. "Ah well... Oh geeze, I forgot my bag! I'll catch up with you, ok?". She dashed back into the classroom and retrieved her bag before walking out.

She quickly caught back up with Madoka and Hitomi outside the school. "Hehe, sorry about that... Hey, anyway, did you figure out if it really was that transfer student girl who was leering at you Madoka? What's even her name again, anyway?". She shook her head. "No... I mean, I wasn't going to go up and ask her, so... She's Akemi Homura-chan, right?".

"Something like that sounds right, yeah. What is up with her anyway?! Lately she seems like she's trying some weird image change ditching the braids and glasses and acting all edgy". Soon enough the three of them came to an intersection. Sayaka turned and stretched her arms. "I'm going downtown today. See ya tomorrow!".

"Oh, you're visiting the hospital again today, Sayaka-chan?". She blushed a little at Madoka's question. "Heh, yeah, I guess". She waved and crossed the street to make her way to the station, climbing the stairs to the elevated platform and boarding a half-empty inbound train. Taking a seat, she plugged a pair of earbuds into her music player and pressed play, a gentle violin melody filling her ears. Sayaka closed her eyes, the fifteen minutes to Kawasaki Station seeming to pass even quicker.

Stepping off the train, she crossed the elevated pedestrian tunnel toward the shopping center. As she walked, she got a strange feeling she couldn't quite shake. Looking around, she saw no one else in the tunnel, and as she passed by the open air pedestrian deck the sky was completely dark.

Sayaka came to a stop, standing in the middle of the empty tunnel and pondering. "Was it this late already? Geeze, visting hours must be over already...". She glanced over her shoulder back towards the station. "Should I just go home?". She heard a small noise, and turned back to look at the pedestrian deck. A small animal walked into the light at the at the entrance from outside.

"...A cat?". Squinting at it in the glare, she could make out a cat-like body with brown fur, short, rounded ears like a teddy bear, and a bushy tail curled at the end like a cartoon squirrel. She blinked a few times and turned around to leave.

"Miki Sayaka?".

She looked around but didn't see anyone. "A-Am I hearing things now? What the heck?!".

"Over here!". She turned again in the direction the voice was coming from, again seeing no one, except for the 'cat', which had walked into the tunnel and was now gazing up at her. "You're Miki Sayaka, right? I think you can help me with a big problem I have."

"D-Did you just talk?! H-How do you even know my name?!".

"Ah, pardon me, I should explain myself. I know this must be startling to you. Have a seat". Sayaka glanced down to see a cushion having appeared without explanation. The surroundings seemed to have changed as well, the pedestrian tunnel gone and replaced by a small, square room, empty except for her, the animal, the cushion, and four and a half tatami mats. Reluctantly she sat down. "I'm Nanabey, an angel. Ah, I suppose my official job would be 'incubator' but that doesn't sound nice, does it? I certainly don't like it. So just think of me as an angel, ok?".

"...What?". Sayaka was dumbfounded. Nanabey scratched her head with a front paw. "I guess it's a lot to take in. Well, to put it simply, I'm interested in recruiting you as a magical girl. You seem to have an important errand here, so I don't want to keep you any longer. Please remember this". Nanabey waved her paw and a series of numbers appeared in front of her. They circled around Sayaka and dissipated in front of her face. "If you're interested at all, you can reach me at this phone number. If not, please just consider this another weird dream, ok, Miki Sayaka? Oh, and if you are interested, just also keep in mind that this job could be quite dangerous."

"Another... Hey, wait, what the hell, you can't just leave after saying so much weird stuff!...".

"Are you alright, miss?". She suddenly found herself sitting up against the wall across from the entrance from the pedestrian deck. She looked up the concerned station employee. "Y-Yeah... I guess I'm just tired". She stood up and looked out at the evening sky in the gateway across from her.

"Maybe I should get a coffee."

Sayaka dropped the empty plastic cup and hamburger wrapper in a trash bin and sighed, glancing across the front courtyard of the shopping center. "I need to get going...". Still feeling a little dazed, she crossed the courtyard and passed through a door on the righthand side. A few more doors and she found herself in a narrow alleyway between the shopping center and a nearby office building.

"Did I take a wrong turn somewhere?". She turned around to find the way she came choked by a curtain of thick vines with an otherworldy silvery green color. "...I-Is this another dream?". She reached out to pull the vines away.

"Miki Sayaka, don't touch that!". Before the words registered, she grasped hold of one of the vines, at first feeling cool and metallic in her hand. All of a sudden she felt a searing heat from the vine and a screeching noise echoed in her ears.

"Aaaaggghh!". She shut her eyes tightly and leapt back in pain. When she opened them again, the vines now appeared to be made of a colorless, translucent, spectral substance. Terrified, she glanced down at her right hand, a line burnt across her palm. The 'vines' began thrashing at her and she starting to back away, but they continued lashing closer and closer. She looked over her shoulder, noticing Nanabey behind her.

"Hey, you again?! That so-called angel?! Can you tell me what the hell this is?!".

"Uh, basically it's a spectral being formed by peoples' frustrations and sorrows, so you can call it a ghost or spectre for short, if that makes sense! They can be very dangerous if left alone to grow and affect other people in the area... This one seems to be associated with a boy from your school, Kamijou Kyousuke-"

"K-Kyousuke?!". Sayaka stopped in her tracks even as the vines lashed their way towards her. "Hey, when you said something about magical girls and how you had a problem... Was this what you meant?".

"It is. But for now we-". Sayaka turned around. "Then I'm ready. How do I start?!".

"...Huh? Right now we just need to get out of here! You should think this through first, Miki Sayaka!".

"There's no time for that is there?! Come on, what do I need to do?!". She flinched and stifled a scream as one of the vines whipped at her leg, singeing the back of her sock.

Nanabey sighed. "I can't let you become a magical girl without you understanding exactly what that implies. It would be against the rules besides being wrong. So if you're going to be this way..." Nanabey raised her paw and made a circle in the air. The vines froze in place, and with another sweep of her paw the two of them were back in the same small room from before, although this time they were seated at a small table and Nanabey had summoned herself a cushion as well. "I've sealed it temporarily so we don't need to worry about it for now. So, since you are interested, let's go over your employment contract, ok? I've underlined the really key points here".

A piece of paper appeared on the table in front of Sayaka. "T-There's seriously paperwork to become a magical girl?! What the heck, that's not how it ever is in anime!". Nanabey rolled her eyes. "I take my job seriously, ok? I don't think you'd appreciate it if you didn't go over this and it turned out I'd, I dunno, ripped your soul out of your body or something...". She noticed Sayaka's expression had gone a bit blank. "N-Not like there's anything like that in there, you know!... Uh, sorry about scaring you, but this is a serious matter here. Be sure to read it carefully."

"It does say 'Heaven is not liable for any injury or death' though...".

"Of course there are risks, but it's not as bad as that makes it sound, ok?"

"Uh... Ok... 'Must remain a magical girl for a term of at least six months'. After that what happens?".

"After that you can retire at any time. It's just that it takes magical energy to create a magical girl, and it takes time for heaven to replenish that energy. Basically, and don't take this the wrong way, they want to get a return on their investment in you. Oh, and if you retire you can apply to be reinstated as well, although that's on a case-by-case basis."

"Ok. Anyway, it says payment is provided, but it doesn't say what it is?".

"Oh, it's gold! You see, humuan currencies change a lot, but humans always value gold. So you get paid 10 grams of gold every two weeks. I think that's about 39,440 yen!".

"N-No way... That's almost a million yen a year!".

"Actually, it's a little more! Anyway, those are the main points to be aware of". Nanabey paused.

"So, now that you know what you'd be getting in to, again, if you aren't interested, you're free to leave. I'll transport you somewhere safe and you can forget all about this. And don't worry about that spectre; I know someone who can take care of it in a pinch if you choose not to. What will your decision be, Miki Sayaka?". Sayaka took a deep breath.

"It hasn't changed. I'm going to go through with this". Nanabey nodded. "I understand. All I need is a personal item of yours. That will become a talisman for your magical powers."

"Personal item?". She thought for a moment and then removed her hair clip, placing it on the table. "I'm ready". Nanabey waved her paw above the hairclip, a deep blue magic circle surrounding it, then dissipating. "That's it. The basics should come naturally. I'll tell you what to do after you transform."

Sayaka picked up the hairclip and stood up. "I'm releasing the seal now, Miki Sayaka. Get ready". The room shimmered like a mirage and faded away to reveal the alleyway. Sayaka held out her hand and tossed her hairclip up. As it fell, it glowed and changed shape into a fortissimo musical motif, and she caught it and swiftly clipped it back into her hair. In a burst of steam, her school uniform was replaced by a strapless white and blue top lined with golden thread, a deep blue pleated skirt, black detached sleeves, white gloves and long white socks, blue shoes, and a long white cape. In another burst of steam, a cutlass appeared in the air and she reached out and grabbed it, then spun around to face the spectre.

"Uummm... This outfit is a little, uh..."

"I can't do anything about that, for now just focus! First you need to weaken it and find its center!". Sayaka grasped her sword with both hands. "Alright, got it!". She slashed at a group of vines to her left, severing them, and leapt forward swinging, cutting a gap in the curtain of vines ahead of her. She sidestepped right to dodge a vine shooting forward and continued to push towards the back of the alley. "What am I looking for when you say 'center' exactly?!".

"It's there! Look up!". Sayaka glanced up at the glowing sphere several meters up on the office building wall, spectral vines spiraling down from it into the alley. She jumped and twisted her body in mid air, sweeping her sword around in a full circle and cutting down several more of the vines before landing. She lunged forward, swinging her leg up and planting her foot on the alley wall, dashing up. As she approached the spectre's core, she kicked and pushed off the wall, somersaulting backwards feet first and landing on the far wall. She reversed her mountain, jumping at the sphere, slashing across it with a swing of her sword.

"Ok, it should be weakened enough. Yell 'release' and cast the spell!". As she fell, Sayaka held out the palm of her right hand, sword hanging at her side in her left. "Scaoil!". The sphere squished and flattened as it fell in on itself, before it and the remaining vines dissipated into a cloud of shimmering particles like stardust. She held out her arms to either side of her body, softly landing on the pavement. Her costume shimmered, her clothes and hairclip turning back to normal, and her sword vanished in a puff of steam.

She panted, trying to catch her breath. "You did a good job, Miki Sayaka. Maybe it was a bit of overkill, but you did well for your first fight. I was fortunate to find you". Nanabey smiled and tilted her head. "Let's be partners from now on, ok?".

Sayaka took a deep breath as the elevator door opened and she walked down the corridor to Kyousuke's hospital room. She paused for a moment before knocking and entering. Kyousuke turned towards her as she walked in.

"Hey, Sayaka...". She noticed his expression seemed a little less distant and unhappy than the last few times she had visited him. "Hey, Kyousuke... Oh, I didn't bring another CD or anything this time... I hope that's ok...". He shook his head and smiled. "No... That's ok. I'm grateful for you visiting". She sat down in a chair next to his bed. "A-Any news, or...?". His expression got a bit more distant again. "It's still going to be at least a week before I can go home...". He looked down at his left hand. "And I won't be able to play again for a while after that."

"I-I'm just glad you'll be able to play again at all, after...". She trailed off. "S-Sorry, I shouldn't bring it back up again."

"It's fine, Sayaka. I'm grateful for that too". For a while she just sat, gazing at the side of his face, a slight blush on her face, before she tried to break the silence. "Aaagh, I miss when I'd always play baseball with you and your friends too!". Kyousuke laughed. "I'm glad you haven't changed at all, Sayaka."

The girl effortlessly dodged the snake-like spectre's lunging bite, dancing around the backalley illuminated only by the spectre itself and the neon glow of the entertainment district's signs, her long red hair swirling behind her.

She swung her spear, it's chain-linked segments wrapping around the snake's body, and yanked hard, sending it crashing into a pile of garbage bags. She yanked again, snapping the spear back together, took a step back to line up her attack, and drove the tip of the spear into the snake's midsection and held it in place. With a screech, it burst apart, leaving only an incandescent stain across the garbage pile and a red strand of energy that circled her body before dissipating.

Her spear and red tunic shimmered and faded back into a muted green hoodie and denim blue shorts, and she sat down on a doorstep, the back of some nightclub or bar. She reached into a paper bag and grabbed an apple. She glanced at a figure in the shadows across from her. "Hey, ya want one?".

It walked forward into a slightly better lit spot in the alley, a cat-like creature with white fur, a long, bushy tail, cat ears, and two long, drooping appendages on its head, looking like something between an ear and a squid's tentacle. She tossed the apple, which the creature nibbled at and retrieved another one for herself, biting into it and tearing a chunk of fruit off it.

"I've been monitoring this region and I found something today, Kyouko. Apparently there's a new magical girl in Kawasaki. She seems like she has the potential to be quite powerful, so she might try to muscle in on your turf someday. I thought that might concern you."

"Oh?". She grinned. "I'd be interested in paying her a visit. I'm getting bored of Shinjuku anyway lately". She grabbed her bag of apples and stood up. She looked up at the moon.

'Some other day, Momo', she thought to herself.


Still not sure at all where I'm going to go with this concept. I had fun writing it and it honestly came to me easier than Minecart High School has as of late, but even with it being my fanfic and knowing how it ends writing it also gives me a sense of dread. I'm not sure how I feel about the first chapter either. In particular the second scene with Nanabey is clunky, but the way it's written is narratively important to establish the sort of ground rules here and to try and build some trust with Nanabey. This is more for my benefit than for the benefit of the reader, who doesn't necessarily have a good reason to inherently hate and distrust Nanabey, which I do; it's a long story but you'll understand if you have any familiarity with the source material, which I haven't been naming because 1. writing fanfiction is embarrassing to begin with and 2. I've gotten shit for 6 years about my feelings on that show (for further reference for the like one or two people who will read this and not know, it's Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which I won't recommend watching although I'd say it's a *good* show). Even worse than fanfiction in general, it's an AU, AND has an OC in the form of Nanabey. The other big issue here is I'm not confident in my characterization, which is something I worry about enough with my own characters let alone writing existing ones. One other "issue", although partly this was intentional, is how closely I mirrored the show's first episode in the early part of the chapter.

I think it's worth mentioning the setting, which has notably changed from the source material's fictional city to a suburban Tokyo location. In general, I wanted to change the setting because in the series the near future setting full of sparse, ultra-modernistic interiors for me is part of the ambient menacing feel it has even in its first two episodes. The choice of Kawasaki in particular was because I thought it was a tiny bit funny to set this in the same area as Minecart High School, plus I happened to notice while scrolling around Google Maps an industrial area directly across from the runways of one of Tokyo's airports which inspired part of the initial battle scene. The use of a real setting, even an unfamiliar one, has some benefits in terms of planning and getting inspiration (the initial scene with Sayaka and Nanabey was largely inspired by the feel of panorama I found on Google Maps of the actual elevated pedestrian tunnel at Kawasaki Station) but is also challenging and requires taking some artistic license (the alleyway the fight scene with the vine spectre takes place in doesn't really exist as far as I can tell from maps).

I thought about if it would be better to leave it a little cryptic but since I went into all this detail about my own analysis of the story I figured I'd post the translations of the attack callouts/spellwords from my notes anyway;

Uisce Céim (IPA: /ˈɪʃcə ceːmʲ/) – Lit. "Water step"; Sayaka uses a wave of water to propel herself into the air.

Síon Lann (IPA: /ʃiːnʲ lˠaːnˠ/) – Roughly "Storm blade", Lit. "Weather blade", but "Síon" is used mainly for stormy weather. This is a version of the explosive projectile blade attack from the Madoka Magica production notes but less violent; the blade explodes before reaching its target (possibly it bursts into water/hail?).

I riocht is go bhfaighidh mo focail leat (IPA: /ɪ ɾˠʊxtˠ ɪsˠ ɡə ˈwajɪx mˠə ˈfˠɔkəlʲ lʲatˠ/)
In form as that find-FUTURE DEPENDENT-ECLIPSED my word-PLURAL you
"So that my words will find you" [Gonna get befriended : ) ]

Scaoil! (IPA: /ˈsˠkiːlˠ/) – Lit. "Release"; this dispells a spectre.

Edit: While I'm editing this to add literally just one missing letter "T" I guess I should mention I still can't actually vouch for the accuracy of the Irish used at all and that I'm still sorry for how inevitably mangled it is.
Today (October 26th) marks ten years since I first released what I believe is the very first work of fiction I ever posted here, my sprite comic Legends of the Fallenstar, so I felt like I should post about that here. It's been a long time – it's hard to believe it's been ten years – and I'd like to think I've come a ways as a writer since then. I'm pretty sure I have but judging your own work is kind of futile I think. As far as I can tell though, it was a bad comic. I won't link it but it's on Userpedia so it's easy enough to find.
Magical Girls' Halloween Party

Magical Girls' Halloween Party
UNTETHERED FROM THE NEED FOR GOOD WRITING OR CONSISTENT CHARACTERIZATION SNACK JUST MAKES STUFF UP – Why did I write this it just made me depressed – Relatively minor spoilers for a show you've probably already watched and hated or were never going to watch to begin with

Madoka stepped up to the door of Sayaka's apartment and rang the doorbell. Inside she heard footsteps, followed shortly thereafter by someone throwing the door open. "Haisai, Madoka!". She tilted her head, confused. "W-Who are you again?". The girl in the doorway sighed. "I'm Hibiki from Idolmaster, ok?".

"N-No, I meant-"

"Wait, you don't recognize me? It's me, Kyouko!". It finally clicked. "Oooooh. S-Sorry, it's just, with your hair dyed like that... You're here early, huh Kyouko-chan?".

"What do you mean here early? I live here you know". Madoka was confused again. "R-Really? Why do you...?". Kyouko grinned. "I mean, I'm Sayaka's girlfriend, sHMPHMF", Sayaka quickly came running and muffled Kyouko by putting her hand over her mouth. "Ahaha, can you believe this girl, saying these weird things again?! I-It's not like I'd l-like her or anything and we d-definitely haven't done anything ecchi ok?! Ahahaha..."

She released Kyouko and pointed towards the living room. "Go and do something over there, like, anything!". She sighed as Kyouko sulked off to lean against the wall in the entryway, still listening in on our conversation. "Oh, so who are you dressed as, huh Madoka?!".

"I'm Yuno from Hidamari Sketch...". Sayaka just stared at her. "Shouldn't you have dyed your hair too like Kyouko-chan did, then?". Madoka fidgeted a bit. "My hair is already a pretty normal color...", she replied, running her fingers through her cotton candy pink hair. Sayaka sighed.

"...Uh, anyway, did you just call her Kyouko-chan, Sayaka-chan? You don't do that for anyone else so...". Sayaka blushed. "I-It's just because she's like a child, Madoka! N-Not because we're dating!". Madoka shrugged and walked towards the living room.

"...Ah, do you have any tips on how I could do that, Kyouko Sakura? I-I mean, there's someone I'd like to live with too..."

"Haha, well, I was homeless before so I just begged Sayaka and told her if she didn't let me move in I'd just keep hypnotizing people to give me hotel rooms, and Sayaka has a strong sense of justice so she gave in after I threatened to do that! Oh, I dunno if that would help you."

Madoka stopped in the living doorway and then popped back into the entryway. "W-What even is this weird conversation?... W-Wait, Homura-chan?! W-When did you even get here?!". Sayaka leaned in and whispered in her ear. "Do you think that transfer student girl stopped time just to sneak in for a creepy entrance, Madoka?".

Madoka sighed. "P-Probably. I-I don't know why you keep calling her 'transfer student girl' though when she's been going to put school since March... Oh, what's your costume, Sayaka-chan?". Sayaka shrugged. "Kyouko-chan insisted on doing an Idolm@ster theme together because we're a couple so I'm Makoto Kikuchi. Ah, I didn't dye my hair either but blue is close enough... W-Wait, I mean that stupid girl said we should because we're a couple, it's not that we really are a couple! A-Anyway, the real question is what the heck's with transfer student girl's costume?!".

Homura rolled her eyes. "Isn't it obvious? I'm Black Rock Shooter". Madoka turned to follow Kyouko, who'd finally gone to living room and started setting up a game console, but Homura stopped her, putting her hand on Madoka's shoulder. "M-Madoka. L-Let's live together. Ok?".

"Uh... N-No?... W-Wait, why are you crying Homura-chan?".

"Hey!", she heard Kyouko shout. "Someone challenge me!". Seeing an excuse Madoka escaped Homura and ran into the living room to see Kyouko had rolled out two dance pads and plugged them into Sayaka's PS3. Madoka stepped onto one of the pads and started clumsily dancing, totally outclassed by Kyouko. "Y-You're really good at DDR, huh Kyouko-chan?". She grinned, chomping down on another stick of pocky.

"When I was homeless I had nothing to do except fight witches and go to the arcade, so I became a god at DDR and Idolm@ster!". She finished the song with a totally unnecessary flourish. "Did you know I can get a sub-one Super Mario 64 70-star on two dance pads? I'm ranked 80th in the world on the EMU leaderboards!".

"Uh... I don't understand a word of that?". Kyouko shrugged and walked into the kitchen to find more snacks. "Hey, Madoka!", Sayaka walked down and sat on the couch. "Wanna tell ghost stories?".

"Uh... No?". Madoka replied uneasily.

"C'mon, Madoka! It's Halloween! We need to do something spooky! We need to have a full Halloween experience to fill the void left by the cancellation of a popular community seasonal comic strip!". Madoka sat down on the floor, looking perplexed. "W-Why is everyone saying such weird stuff today... Anyway, did you invite Mami-san or Hitomi-chan?".

"I did invite Mami-san but inviting Hitomi would just still be awkward because of everything, you know?". Madoka leaned back against a chair. "E-Even though you're going out with Kyouko-chan now?". Sayaka sighed. "Aaah, especially because I am. I mean, she's kinda homophobic... W-Wait, what did you say?!". Sayaka gasped, a look of shock on her face. "YOU PLANNED THIS TOO, JOJO?!".

The doorbell rang. Sayaka stood up. "Aaagh, I should get that". She walked back into the hallway and opened the door. "Oh, good evening, Mami-san!". Kyouko looked over from the kitchen, taking the taiyaki she'd been eating out of her mouth. "Yo, Mami! Oh, that's a spot on Princess Peach!".

"Ah, thank you, Kyouko-san". Homura walked back into the hallway from wherever she'd been lurking. "Did you bring that thing with you, Mami Tomoe?". Mami seemed confused. "You mean Kyubey? Oh, no, I don't think he'd care for parties. He wouldn't wear a costume anyway no matter how much I tried to get him to."

"Ah, I followed along anyway though". Kyubey slinked into view from around the door and sat down in the entryway and the mood in the apartment got a bit darker. "Oh, taiyaki. I'd like that, please, Sayaka". Sayaka cracked her knuckles, an angry expression on her face, while Homura quietly materialized her shield in the background, pulling an M9 out of thin air and loading a magazine.

"This building has a very strict no-pets-allowed policy, so...", Sayaka smiled, picking up a baseball bat and slinging it over her shoulder. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave this place, ok?". Kyubey turned and dashed off down the hallway and Sayaka took off after him, waving the bat wildly. "I'M NOT LETTING YOU GET OFF THAT EASILY FOR WHAT YOU DID TO ME!".

"This is suffering..."
ToroKoko – Rideable Minecart High School 7th Book
Not very spooky! – Lots of ecchi!

Track 1
Making Real Progress On A Rail?!

"Ok! Just set it down now Umeko-chan!". Me and Subaru lowered the box and set it down on the workbench. "Uuueee... Carrying that all the way from the front of the school was exhausting". The sun was starting to set but the temperature had still barely gone down. I sat down on a chest and opened a soft drink. "I'm just glad I didn't trip or it would've been really bad...".

Subaru opened the cardboard box with a razor and cleared away the packaging. "So this is the rolling mill Ran picked out, huh?! Getting all these tools and materials together it's really starting to feel like we're making progress!". I took another sip of my drink and Subaru jumped up and sat on the workbench, stretching her arms. "...You know, Subaru-chan... If you really wanted to visit with Yasuko-chan's family couldn't you ask if she could buy your ticket?".

"No, of course not! ...I mean, I could, but it wouldn't be the right thing to do!". I took one last sip of ramune. "Uuuuee... B-But isn't getting a part time job not right either?". I put my empty bottle down next to me. "S-Since it's against the school regulations?". Subaru hopped down off the work bench and stood up, pointing her finger at me. "Listen, Umeko-chan! There are school regulations but there's also such thing as rules that exist in your heart!".

"Ueh?". I lay down on the chest. "Uuueee... I dunno if I get it, but ok Subaru-chan..."

I glanced over as someone slid the shed door open, seeing Yasuko enter with Fuyumi Maitake. "Uueee, hey Yasuko-chan, Maitake-san", I greeted them, sitting back up. "Good evening, Umeko-san, Subaru-san. I think I'm done for the day". Subaru nodded. "Ehe, yeah, I should head home soon too, Yasu-chan. What about you, Umeko-chan?".

"Uuee... I couldn't do any more today, I'm just so beat". Yasuko waved and turned to go while Maitake set down a bundle of cut logs, before retrieving another from outside and setting it down on the shed floor too. Instead of leaving, she hovered in the doorway for a few moments with her usual blank expression. After a minute she gestured over.


"Ueh?". I blinked a few times. Maybe it's because I'm an airhead but I just don't ever understand what's going through her head. "Y-Yeah... T-Thanks Maita-". Subaru cut me off. "Oh! Yeah, thank you, Fuyumi-chan!". She turned and left herself, and I thought of something. "W-Wait, Subaru-chan... You're calling Maitake-san Fuyumi-chan, so... D-Did you get to know that creepy girl better?". Subaru blinked a few times.

"Nope, not really, I just got tired of calling her Maitake-san! It just feels too formal, you know! Besides-", she flashed a peace sign. "If she's an underclassman that means I can call her what I think is right! Ehe, I mean, as long as it's not something bad, right?!".

"Uuuueeeee... I-Is that really how it works Subaru-chan?...". She ruffled her hair and grinned.

"Ah. Do you have something against creepy girls, Umeko-saaaaannn?".

"UUUEE? R-Ran-chan?". I turned around and saw her leering at me from behind the chest. "W-Were you there the whole time?". She nodded. "Taking a nap". I sighed. "D-Don't scare me like that so much Ran-chan...". Subaru giggled.

"Ah, you know what would be really cool would be if we could take a club trip to the beach! Especially since it's been so hot this year-". Subaru leaned against the workbench with her hands behind her head. "Right, Ran-chan, Umeko-chan?!". I nodded. "Yeah, that would be a lot fun!". Subaru seemed deep in thought. "Ehe... Is it wrong to say I want to see how cute you look in a swimsuit, Umeko-chan?".

"Ueh?". I felt a bit taken aback. "I-I don't know but... T-That's bit embarrassing...". She ruffled her hair. "Ehehe... Sorry, Umeko-chan". I noticed Ran staring at me with an unhappy expression. "Ah. What about me, Subaru-chan?". Uuee, I wouldn't have expected Ran to be that forward... Subaru hung her head and put her hand on Ran's shoulder. "I feel your pain there, you know!". Ran blinked, looking like it wasn't really the kind of answer she wanted. "Ehe, you're plenty cute though despite being flat!". W-Wait, she was talking about her breasts again?! Uuueeee...

"You blushing about something, Umeko-saaann?", Ran asked. "Uuuee?! N-No, I don't think so-". Subaru quickly interrupted.

"Ah, I wonder if Yasu-chan would let us stay at her family's villa again?! That was awesome last year. Ehe, sometimes I get jealous of her... I guess it can be lot of pressure being from a family like that too though, huh?". Ran shrugged. "Probably quiet when she wants to sleep or study". Subaru giggled again. "Ehehe, I guess. Definitely quieter than your house. Ah, that's the Kurihama Line, right?".

Ran nodded. "Too bad how they changed the motors on the 2100 series". I was completely lost. I g-guess they're talking about trains? Subaru sighed. "Ah, yeah... That was so cool! Hearing those singing trains was what really got me in to trains and then minecarts as a kid, ehe...".

"Uuuee, I-". Subaru interrupted again. "Ok, it's settled then! Ah, I'll text her and see if we can work it out". Subaru grabbed her backpack and turned to go. "See ya, Umeko-chan, Ran-chan!". She dashed off.

Ran turned to stare at me again, looking annoyed and bored. "Ah, you think Subaru-chan only likes you better because you have bigger boobs, Umeko-saaaan?". I blinked a few times as Ran kept staring at me. "W-Why would she? A-And they aren't even that big... Uueee, I-I don't want to talk about this, Ran-chan!". She giggled a bit under her breath and walked to the door. "Goodniiiiight, Umeko-san!".

"...Uuee, I should go home."

Track 2
A Reason To Be Excited?!

"Hey, hey, guess what, Umeko-chan!", Subaru shouted as I entered the clubroom. "Y-Yeah, Subaru-chan?". She had a huge smile on her face. "Yasu-chan said we could go to her beach villa! Ehehe, and not only that-" she paused and let Yasuko interject. "Oh, apparently we don't have any Saturday classes all of July, so I was thinking we could all go to the beach the weekend after next, BUT-" she emphasized the 'but', cutting off Subaru who seemed like she wanted to jump back in. "That's less than two weeks before the end of term exams, so only if we make it a study party too."

Subaru looked a bit pouty and I took a seat. "Aaaahhh, yeah, that's no fun. How could anyone possibly study at the beach? When there's summer weather and seafood and watermelons?!". She sighed and hung her head down on the table.

"Uuee... I-I don't really mind since I need to be better about studying anyway". Subaru looked up from table. "Even you, Umeko-chan?! Is there no one I can trust anymore?!". Yasuko chuckled. "Anyway!", Subaru went on. This didn't seem to be getting her too down at least. "We're still working on rolling the rails, but we can definitely break ground by the end of next week". She stood up triumphantly, putting one foot on the chair.

"Isn't this exciting that we're getting so close to doing real work on our first big project as a club?!". I smiled and nodded. "Yeah!". I giggled a little. "Uuee, when I first started out here I never would've thought I'd be so excited about something like this, but I really am!". Subaru suddenly hugged me and I almost fell over in my chair. "I'm so glad I could show you why minecarts are worth appreciating, Umeko-chan!".

"Subaru-chan, wanna do more work rolling rails today?". I noticed Ran looked a little annoyed, I guess at Subaru giving me attention. "Oh! Yeah, that'd be great, Ran-chan! Ehe, you can do some of the metalworking too now, huh Umeko-chan?".

"Uuueee... Yeah, I guess". I remembered something. "Oh, are we making any progress on the ties?". Subaru nodded. "Yeah, thanks to Fuyumi-chan's tips on lumber treatment. The other clubs have been such a huge help with this! Oh yeah, Hina-chan can get us tons of gravel for ballast too! Ehe, apparently they've just been dumping it all in the same lake we fell in that time."

She put her finger to her chin. "Yknow, she seemed kinda upset when I asked about that for some reason."

"Ah, I guess". I looked over my shoulder and saw Hinagiku standing in the doorway. "Gravel is no good when you're mining!".

"Oh! Hey, Hina-chan! What brings you here?". She pulled out an empty chair and sat down on it backwards. "We weren't mining today, so I figured I'd stop by and say hello. Since you guys are never doing anything important in your clubroom". She got a little flustered. "I-I mean I didn't interrupt anything right?!". Subaru frowned. "Hey! We do a lot of important stuff, like, uh... No, it's ok, you didn't interrupt, since...".

She snapped her fingers. "We already finished our very important business! Yeah!". Me, Yasuko, and Ran couldn't help but chuckle a little. "Hey, guuuyyyysss... Don't laugh, cmon!".

"Uueee... Sorry Subaru-chan. A-Anyway, it's nice to see you, Akane-s-". I stopped myself. "I-I mean Hinagiku-chan. Sorry". I ruffled my hair. Uuueee, I need to stop doing that all the time now! Hinagiku smiled. "No, no, it's ok! Ah, I'd feel a little weird calling an upperclassman by their first name and -chan too". I giggled a little. "Uuee, it's kinda hard to get used to for me since I've always been shy."

She turned back to Subaru and Ran. "Hey, so how are you doing making rails?!". Ran closed her book and put it down. "Still some work to go. But it's going well". Hinagiku smiled and stood up "You're really going to do great with this kind of passion, I just know it!".

The four of us, along with Hinagiku and Maitake, had gathered not far from the shed and the little loop of rail that served as our club's minecart test track, where we'd formed a disorganized pile of resources we'd moved from the shed to the worksite. According to Subaru, the first part of the plan was to build a switch connecting the existing loop to the first stretch of new track we would lay so we could easily cart supplies to the end of the rails.

Subaru cleared her throat. "This is a big day for us, huh? I'm really excited!". The evening sun reflected off the rails and the head of the shovel she was holding. "Ehehe, I don't really know what to say. Oh, I was looking on the internet and I'm pretty sure this is gonna be the longest school minecart track in the prefecture! ...Ehe, it'd be the longest in Japan but apparently there's a longer one in Hokkaido."

She dug into the dirt and shoveled some out. "It's not that much, but... Now we're really gonna get started!".

Track 3
A Weekend Beach Trip?! First Side

Already a little late, I hurried up the steps to the elevated plaza above the bus terminal with my bag, almost tripping on the top step, to see Subaru, Yasuko, and Ran waiting by the sculpture in the center. Subaru noticed me and waved. "Hey hey, Umeko-chan!". I ran over to them. "Good morning!".

"Ah, did you bring your textbooks and everything, Umeko-san?". I nodded. "Yeah! Uuee, I just hope I won't be a burden on you since I'm a first year". Yasuko shook her head. "No, not at all. I'm happy to help."

I noticed Subaru looking worried. "Ehehe, I think I forgot all my study materials at home". She grinned and ruffled her hair, then bowed her head. "I'm so sorry, Yasu-chan! Please forgive me!". Yasuko just smiled. "It's not a problem, Subaru-san. Ah, when I came by your house Shuko-chan was so kind as to give me this". She set down her bag and opened it, pulling out a school bag. She closed her eyes and tilted her head a little, clearly having a bit of fun at Subaru's expense. "She said she thought you forgot it". Subaru's face went blank. "Ehehehehe...".

She blew up. "Damn it Shuko! Aaaahhh, what kind of little sister would do this?!". She slouched a bit, hanging her head. Uuueeee, I haven't really seen this side of Yasuko much before. Ran looked up from her phone. "We should get going."

We all started walking into the station and through the ticket gates, Subaru still seeming dejected. "Aaahh, I hoped I could take some pictures but we're not gonna have time... We only have a few minutes for our transfer at Yokohama Station too."

"You like trains a lot too and not just minecarts, huh Subaru-chan?", I asked. She perked up a bit at that. "Yeah, totally! Anything on rails is pretty cool!". We reached the platform just in time to board our train before the doors closed, finding a bench to ourselves and stuffing our luggage onto an overhead rack for the short trip to Yokohama.

"Miurakaigan, Miurakaigan...". The driver announced our station as the train came to a stop and the four of us began gathering up our bags. I stretched my arms as we walked off onto the platform. "Uuee, it's nice to finally be off the train!".

"It was only 45 minutes, Umeko-san". Ran yawned as she set her bag down by a bench and retrieved a digital camera from it, joining Subaru who'd been wearing her camera around her neck all day and had already started taking pictures. "Ah, we only have five minutes to make the bus!", Yasuko reminded them. Ran shrugged and Subaru ruffled her hair and gave her usual sheepish grin, the two of them walking back over to us from the end of the platform. The four of us hurried down the steps and filed on to the nearly empty bus, crowding around a window on the left side.

"Uuee, there wasn't much of an ocean view, huh". Subaru giggled. "Ehe, yeah, I guess that line is a bit too far from the shore for that. Ehehe, I wasn't even looking out that side much. I can see the ocean when we get there so I'd rather watch for other trains! I guess it's mainly single track after Kurihama though...". I couldn't help but tune Subaru out as the ocean came into view. Soon enough we got to our stop.

"It's still a few minutes walk from here", Yasuko told us as we stepped onto the quiet street. Subaru sighed. "Aaaah, in this heat you should've just had your driver pick us up, Yasu-chaaan". Yasuko shrugged. "I wouldn't want to trouble him unnecessarily. I don't mind the walk, personally". We followed Yasuko along the seaside road until we came to gate of the single-story villa, spacious looking but more modest than I expected. Yasuko unlocked and opened the gate and we walked in.

"We're finally here! Alright, I'm gonna go swimming right away! Cmon girls!", Subaru shouted, running inside as soon as Yasuko unlocked the front door, dropping her bag by the couch in the living room and throwing it open, putting her camera away and digging for her swimsuit. "Ah, I'll be out in a little while", Yasuko replied. Subaru had already ran off to change and Ran had started looking through her own bag.

"Oh, you can use that bedroom, Umeko-san", Yasuko said, pointing at a door, probably noticing I looked slightly lost. I nodded. "Ok, thanks Yasuko-chan". I stepped into the room and put my bag down, changing into my swimsuit and leaving my clothes on the bed before stepping back out.

"Hey, Umeko-chan!". Subaru and Ran had already changed and were relaxing on the couch. "Oh, a one-piece! Ehe, and it's pretty cute with those frills. That's really like you, huh?!". I felt a little embarrassed, both that she seemed so interested and that she seemed to be saying I was childish. I fidgeted a little.

"Ok!", Subaru jumped up. "Let's go!". I followed Subaru and Ran out the back door onto the beach, feeling a bit uneasy until I saw the deserted beach, cloudless blue sky, and ocean waters and couldn't help myself, taking off running after Subaru while Ran laid out a blanket and drove an umbrella into the sand. Subaru leapt in and I stopped at the water's edge, shielding my eyes from the spray with my hands, giggling.

"Ahaaa, the water feels good, Umeko-chan, Ran-chan!". I waded in after Subaru. "Mhm, yeah!". I looked back at the villa. Ran right now seemed content to sit under the umbrella reading a book and Yasuko was still inside it seemed. While I wasn't looking I felt Subaru splash me.

"Uuueee?!". I spun around to see her giggling. "Ehehe, cmon, splash me back! You know you want to, Umeko-chan!". Uuueee... I splashed at her and she reflexively raised her hands to block her face. "Kyaha! Alright, take this... Ultimate Attack Starlight Breaker!". I turned away as she splashed a ton of water toward me, slipping and splashing down in the shallow water. I pulled myself up, turning back around to see Subaru standing over me. "You okay, Umeko-chan?".

"Uueee, yeah". She smiled and ran her hand through her wet hair. "Alright!". She looked me over. "Ehe, maybe I shouldn't say this but your breasts are a bit bigger than mine, huh? It's kinda hard to tell in a school uniform compared to a swimsuit". I felt even more embarrassed, crossing my arms over my chest. "W-Why do you always have to talk about that, S-Subaru-chan?". She giggled. "Ehehe, sorry... I can't help being interested, ok?! Isn't that normal for teenagers?!". Uueee... I didn't want to say it out loud but she isn't exactly normal, is she? I sighed, wading into deeper water. I took a deep breath and dived.

I popped up after a few seconds when I'd started to run out of breath. "Subaru-chan, there's tons of fish here!". I glanced over to see her surface a few meters away from me. "Wow, yeah! I'm surprised there's so many so close to the beach!". She swam over to me. "Ehe, I wonder if we could catch one?!".

"I-I don't know about that...". She sighed, treading water. "Aaah, you're probably right. Fish are way better at swimimng than people. Oh, I guess they'd be slippery too! Ehehe, now I'm getting hungry...". I blinked. "Uueee, d-did you really want to try and grab a fish to eat...?". She grinned. "Yeah, sure, why not?!". We waded closer to the shore a little ways down the beach from Ran, who now was intently working on a sandcastle, and I sat down in the shallow water.

"Yasuko-chan still hasn't come out, huh... Does she not like swimming?". Subaru sat down next to me and sighed. "Yasu-chan gets kinda nervous whenever we have a test coming up. I mean, she's smart and gets really good grades, but it's still a lot of pressure being from a rich family like that, not to mention both her parents are brilliant". She looked up at the sun with her hand over her eyes like a visor.

"She can be too hard on herself. She's actually really great with redstone but she doesn't like to talk about it much... Aaaagh, this is too depressing!". She stood up and turned to face me, jabbing her finger in my face. "We're at the beach! There's a time and place for this but it's not the beach on such a hot sunny day!". Uuee, you were the one who went into this... "We're going to start Operation Cheer Yasu-chan Up!".

Subaru grabbed my hand and dragged me at her usual supersonic pace back to the villa, drying off some with a towel she'd left around a porch railing and throwing open the door almost before I had the chance to dry off at all. "Hey, Yasu-chan! Cmon out here! I don't want to do anything drastic so put your swimsuit on willingly!".

S-She isn't...?! Drying off enough that I felt fine going inside I stepped into the doorway to see a perplexed looking Yasuko frozen in the middle of putting some papers away in her school bag. "...Ah, I was just about to go swimming, Subaru-san. D-Did you need something?"

Subaru looked off to the side. "...Is that so? Ehehe..."

Track 4
A Weekend Beach Trip?! Second Side

I closed my textbook with a slightly dramatic clap and slipped it into my school bag along with a few sheets of paper I'd worked through studying. "Uueee... It's nice to be done with that for the day". I stretched my arms and legs. "Oh, thanks again for helping me, Yasuko-chan... Uuee, I still feel bad you had to help me seperately". She shook her head. "Really, it's fine, Umeko-san. Ah, if you don't mind me asking, what was Subaru-san worked up about?".

"Uuee, she was just worried you were feeling down because of the test coming up...". Yasuko laughed. "Ah, yeah, that's our Subaru-san. I mean...". She looked a bit more serious now. "I know she's right that I can beat myself up over little things sometimes, but I'm alright, I mean it". She smiled. "Subaru-san has a way of cheering up everyone around her. Sometimes I'm not sure where me and Ran-san would be without her."

"Yo! We got a watermelon! Oh, and the mackerel you asked for, Umeko-chan!". Yasuko chuckled again. "Ah, speak of the devil, huh?". Subaru and Ran walked into the family room carrying a few plastic shopping bags.

"Ehe, you and Ran-chan are gonna have to handle dinner, Umeko-chan. Sorry, but me and Yasu-chan are useless at cooking!". Subaru set the bags down on an island between the kitchen and family room. "Ehehe, one thing...". She ruffled her hair. "No offense but Ran-chan is gonna be in charge of cracking eggs!". I couldn't help but giggle a little even though I felt a little embarrassed. "Uuee... Yeah, yeah". I stood up and skipped into the kitchen, where Ran had already put a pot on the stove and started preparing a broth.

"Ah, I'll cook the mackerel then...". I got a pan down from a rack and started opening the package. "D-Do you like cooking, Ran?". She shrugged. "Only ramen."

Ah...", she added. "This miso ramen seasoning is based on a secret family recipe". She looked over her shoulder at me. "So if you remember it I'd have to hurt you, ok, Umeko-saaaan?". I flinched and she giggled quietly and went back to mincing garlic.

"Uuee, I-I wish you wouldn't say things like that, Ran-chan...". She stayed silent for a little while as she seasoned the broth she was making and I started searing the mackerel. "...You don't think I'm funny at all, huh?". I didn't react for a second. "...Eh?". I was surprised Ran was trying to talk to me.

"You always keep your distance from me and don't make eye contact when we're in the clubroom". I sighed. "Uuee, well... I don't really get what you find funny, so... Uuueee... I always thought you didn't like me, to be honest". She waited a moment to respond. "...I guess both of us are the same. In the way we don't make friends easily, at least". She took a deep breath. "I'd like if we could try to be friends, if you're ok with it."

"T-That would be nice if we could". We quietly went on preparing the food before Ran suddenly spoke up. "I still won't like it if you start dating Subaru and taking up all her time."

"Eh?... UUEEE?!". I blushed a little, almost letting the mackerel burn I was so surprised. "D-Did you think...?". She dropped noodles into the bubbling broth. "Maaaaybe". We finished up and laid the food out on the table without speaking any more.

"Subaru-chan, Yasuko-chan, everything's done!". Subaru came bounding in from the family room and took a seat, with Yasuko following her. "Wow! Ehehe, it smells so good! Ahaa, the mackerel looks amazing!". Subaru immediately served herself a bowl of ramen and started piling vegetables, egg, and mackerel on top of it. "Ah, save some for us, Subaru-san...". She dropped the piece of mackerel she'd been picking up and grinned. "Ehe, yeah."

"Mackerel's good, Umeko-chan."

"Ah, thank yo-". I realized mid sentence it was Ran who'd complimented me and called me Umeko-chan. She looked at me with a blank, slightly annoyed expression, and answered the question I'd been thinking.

"We're friends, after all."

She swallowed another bite of mackerel. "You lied when you said your breasts weren't any bigger than mine or Subaru-chan's". My face went completely red.

"W-Will you guys please stop talking about THAT?! Uuueeeee...!"
Technically this is SUPPOSED to be a story thread and not an art thread, but I don't have any new writing that I can post here and anyway, I'm pissed.

So, I made a logo;


I mean, there's nothing wrong with the logo, really. I'd say it's a good logo, probably a very good logo. The problem is it's too good and because of that it's tempting to, so as not to let it go to waste, actually continue the story it's for, which I reeaaalllyy don't know if I wanted to do. In terms of design, it's based mainly on the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha logo, while the font is that used by the actual Puella Magi Madoka Magica logo, which was easier to find than I might've thought.

But wait, you might say (if you happen to know either of those logos); both of them have stars. Like, the main element of the Nanoha logo (well, besides the text) is the big star.


No. It's 2017. Stars are out. Moons are in. Moons are what drive ad revenue. Moons can, on their own, replace sensible content policies and editorial integrity. Besides which, the moon influences the tides and Sayaka is associated with water in various ways. Like I've always thought her magical girl outfit has sort of an age of sail feel to it especially with that cutlass, aside from all the other stuff that I won't go into. And speaking of her magical girl outfit, she has a crescent-shaped gem as part of it (although she notably wouldn't in this story's universe, given that's her soul gem and those definitely don't exist here).

this has ruined my day tbh fam

EDIT: Technically I lied. There are about four dozen stars in this image.
ToroKoko – Rideable Minecart High School 8th Book, First Part
Anton click this for a song by Muse!!!

Track 1
A Big Exam Before Summer Vacation?! First Side

I quietly yawned. The bus as usual wasn't very crowded by the time I got on after school, and I took advantage of that and stretched out on the bench at the very back. "Uuueee... I'm exhausted...". I heard my phone buzz and glanced at the text message my mother sent me. "...Out of ginger, huh?". I stretched my arms, deciding to get off at the next stop where I knew there was a convenience store. I stepped out into the rain and walked in the door.

"Welcome! Is there anything I can help you with today?!". The cashier's enthusiastic voice seemed familiar and I glanced over.

"...S-Subaru-chan?!". She glanced around a bit, ruffling her hair. "Ehe...". She looked over her shoulder into the back room "...Ehe, can you cover for me a minute? I-I've gotta use the restroom". I saw a boy who looked about Subaru's age put down a stack of boxes and walk over as Subaru dashed around the counter and pulled me into an aisle.

"Ehehe... So, yeah, I ended up taking a part-time job, Umeko-chan". She grinned and ruffled her hair again. "I thought since it's in Akaiwa not many people from our school would recognize me. And I thought this store wasn't that close to where you live...". Before I could think of anything to say, she bowed her head, clasping her hands and going on talking. "Aah, just don't tell anyone on the student council or any of the teachers, please, Umeko-chan?! I need to be able to depend on you as a comrade! And it's totally unfair how you can only get an exception if it's to help out a family business like Ran-chan does!". By this point I was at a loss for words.

"Uuueeee... O-Ok, Subaru-chan? S-Since I know this is something important to you...". I thought about how it was less than a week before exams, and wondered what Yasuko would think about Subaru doing this instead of focusing on studying even though it's against the school regulations.

"Ehehe, that's a relief!". She giggled. "Well, uh, I'll let you get back to your shopping then, ok?!". She walked back towards the counter, and I was left feeling a little disoriented and tried to remember what I was here for. She popped her head back around the aisle, flashing a thumbs up. "Oh, did you know, the pork cutlet sandwiches we carry are incredible! You've gotta buy one!".

"...Uuee, i-it was ginger, right?", I mumbled to myself, looking around the shelves.

I closed my lunchbox and set it down next to me, leaning back against the shady tree I was sitting under. "It's nice we can at least eat lunch together even if club activities are on hold until exams are over, Subaru-chan... Uuee, I guess Yasuko-chan and Ran-chan were too busy to today, huh?". Subaru finished off her pork cutlet sandwich. "Ehe, yeah. Aaagh, I guess I should be paying more attention, huh?". I sighed. "Uuee... I've been having trouble too. It's really tiring". I paused.

"By the way... H-Have you told Yasuko-chan about you working a part-time job, Subaru-chan? Because...-". She cut me off. "Yeah. Ehe, as long as I keep up on studying and do well on my exams she seemed alright with it, believe it or not! Ehehe, it's been hard work to keep up with both though". The bell rang.

"UUUEEEE?! I-I'm gonna be late getting back!". I jumped up, almost forgetting my empty lunchbox. I turned around to grab it, but felt myself trip over a tree root. I went tumbling into Subaru who'd just stood up, knocking her over and falling on top of her.

"S-Sorry Subaru-chan! A-Are you ok?!". I opened my eyes. "Yeah, I think so... Ehe, your hands though, Umeko-chan...". As I got off her I noticed I had, at some point while falling over, planted my hands on her chest. I blushed and jumped backwards. "Uuueeee...! I-I'm sorry, S-Subaru-chan...".

"Ehehe, I don't really mind". She stood up and ruffled her hair. "And it was an accident anyway, so!". She dusted off her uniform and walked towards the school building. "Ehe, you have class right?".

"Uuueeeee... Y-Yeah, I've gotta get going too..."

"⟨ How are you doing Umeko-chan? You seemed exhausted today ⟩". I read Shiori's text message to myself. "Uuueeee...". I laid my head down on my desk. "I feel like I can't figure this out at all and it's the night before exams...". I sighed. ⟨ Tired. Having trouble with English ⟩, I texted back. As soon as I put my phone down to try and get back to work it buzzed again. "Oh, Ringo-chan is on this thread too?". I looked at her reply.

⟨ I watch anime with English subtitles sometimes to help learn it. Even with shipping it's cheaper to buy anime from America, but sometimes there are country locks you need to get around and you don't get as many extras... ⟩. I stared blankly at the screen. "Uuee, w-what? I-Is that supposed to help me somehow?".

⟨ You never change, huh? ⟩, I saw Shiori shoot back. I giggled a bit and went back to staring at my textbook. I was already having trouble remembering the stuff Yasuko helped me with when we went to the beach. Checking the time, I reluctantly closed the book and decided to get some sleep. I slipped into bed.

"It's no use stressing over it, huh?".

"Uuueeee... I told myself I wouldn't stress out but I still didn't sleep very well". I yawned as we walked on to the school grounds. "How do you manage to not get stressed or exhausted, Shiori-chan?". She shrugged. "Ah, well... I can't really explain it I guess? If I've studied I just always feel confident I'll remember the answers". Ringo sighed. "Not all of us can be like you, Shiorin". Shiori rolled her eyes. "Anyone can study, you just choose to watch anime and play video games instead."

"That's a low blow, Shiorin! What's that new game you were saving up for a new PC just because you wanted to play it, *v*rw*tch or something?!". Shiori straightened her glasses, looking a little annoyed. "The point is I don't just blow off studying to play all night though or watch weird late night shows."

"Yo, Umeko-chan!". I turned around and saw Subaru running up. "Good morni-". I stopped. "W-What are you wearing, Subaru-chan? I-Is that even allowed?". She had a headband on, decorated with a rising sun and the word 'pass'. She ruffled her hair, grinning. "Ehe, isn't it obvious? Oh, hey Kusanagi-san, Yutani-san!".

"Oh, good morning...", Shiori replied half-heartedly, seemingly trying to ignore Subaru. "Hey, Hashibami-san! Oh, I heard you went to the beach, right? Uhuhu, I hope you treated our Umechii gently if you kno-Ugkhaaa, cmon Shiorin!".

"Ah, I'm just going to be going now with this girl", Shiori cut Ringo off, grabbing her arm and pulling her away. "Nice seeing you I guess, Hashibami-san!". She waved and ran off, dragging Ringo with her. "...Ehehe, yeah, ok, Kusanagi-san?". Subaru looked a little confused.

I noticed someone walking over, a short girl with her light brown done up in two buns and a red disciplinary committee armband. "Hey, Subaru Hashibami!". She stood in front of Subaru, glaring at her and jabbing her finger in her face. "Regulations clearly state students may not wear headgear at school! Remove it or be punished!".

Subaru blinked a few times. "...Doesn't it just say hats? Ehe, who are you actually? Are you in junior high here?". Subaru had clearly pushed some button for the girl, who now looked furious. "W-W-What?! I'm a high school student you know!". She pulled her armband off and shoved it in Subaru's face. "Ruri Mugino, disciplinary committee!". Subaru tried to just walk off, but Mugino held her arms out in front of her.

"Now now, t-this is probably just a misunderstanding, Ruri-chan, right?". A boy about my age came over and tried to calm Mugino down. He turned to Subaru. "Oh, uh, any head coverings are against regulations, so if you could take the headband off that would be helpful. I'm sorry if there was any trouble though". He did the same thing Subaru does with ruffling her apologetically. "Oh, I'm with the student council, so..."

"Eeeeeh, you're just gonna leave it like that, Kazu-kun?! Disrespecting the rules is the same as disrespecting Tomoko-senpai! Aagh, fine, whatever!". Her and the boy walked away, but she didn't seem to have calmed down much, sticking her tongue out at Subaru and baring her fang tooth before she turned around to leave. Subaru reluctantly took off her headband and stuffed it in her bag.

"...Ehe, we both need to get going, huh?". Looking in her bag she seemed to remember something.

"Oh, yeah, I brought a ton of k*t-k*ts, Umeko-chan! Want some?!".

Track 2
A Big Exam Before Summer Vacation?! Second Side

I yawned and collapsed in my chair. "Uueee... I can finally sleep easily again". I stretched my arms and managed to sit up. "I got a way better score on my English test than I thought... Uuee, I actually managed to remember the stuff you taught me, Yasuko-chan. Your English is really good, huh?". She put her book down and smiled. "I'm glad it helped, Umeko-san. Ah, I mean, I can't take credit for that though since I grew up with my mother speaking it". I felt kind of silly that I hadn't thought of that. "Uueee... Right."

"Good afternoon Yasu-chan, Umeko-chan". I looked over my shoulder as Ran walked in to the clubroom. "Hey, Ran-chan... Subaru-chan isn't with you?". She sat down and shrugged. "Machine was out of the tea she likes. She went looking for another one". It was hard to tell but Ran seemed a little gloomier even than usual.

"Is anything the matter, Ran-san?". I guess Yasuko can actually tell since she's known her since they were kids. Ran looked like she didn't really want to get in to it. "...I still passed, but, I didn't do as well on the math test as I thought."

Yasuko looked a bit worried. "Oh, I hope I didn't do a bad job explaining it... Subaru-san did seem to be having trouble when we studied together, so maybe...". Ran looked off to the side a bit. "N-No; it's not your fault at all, Yasu-chan. Y-You were a big help...". Ran took her lunchbox out of her bag, and just then the door flew open and Subaru came barging in.

"Aaagh! Can you believe it?! I went to three vending machines before I finally found the good oolong tea! Did everyone start drinking this all of a sudden?!". She flopped down in a chair, opening her can of tea and taking her lunch out of her bag. "Uueee... Y-You're having those pork cutlet sandwiches again?". I took out my own lunchbox. "Eeeh, why wouldn't I? They're cheap and taste great, and they're pretty filling too!". The four of us started eating. "I almost ran into that Mugino girl again too! Aaagh, she really ticked me off this morning!".

"Mugino?", Yasuko asked. I swallowed my bite of egg. "She was a girl on the disciplinary committee who saw Subaru-chan wearing a headband when we walked in this morning...". Yasuko chuckled. "Hey, don't laugh, Yasu-chan! Eeeh, whatever, anyway!". She ate the last of her sandwich. "We should try and get a lot done on the rail in the last week before vacation... Oh, hey, were you still going to Hokkaido this summer, Umeko-chan?! If you are be sure to bring back souvenirs!".

She put her finger to her chin, thinking. "Ehe, some crabs would be nice! Aagh, I couldn't cook them though I guess...". She snapped her fingers, still going on and not letting me get a word in edgewise. "Ehe, would you come over and make crab hot pot for me if she does, Ran-chan?!". Ran blushed a bit. "Ah; sure I guess". I sighed.

"Uueee... H-How would I bring crabs back as a souvenir? B-Besides, actually, my parents decided to go in the winter instead". I closed my empty lunchbox. "Eeeh, that's too bad. Are you doing anything else then?". I shook my head. "Nothing much I guess... I'll probably go to the festival". Subaru snapped her fingers again. "Oh, if Yasu-chan's ok with it, you could come with us!".

I tilted my head. "...Uuee? Y-You mean to America with Yasuko-chan? I mean I've only known all of you for three months... I couldn't afford a ticket either and I don't know what my parents would think...". Subaru pouted. "Aaaah... Oh...", her eyes lit up. "Ehehe, wait, Yasu-chan, you said your family there have a farm right?! And that they have a minecart track they use?!". Yasuko nodded. "Ah, that's right..."

"Ehehehe... In that case...", she jumped up, standing with one foot on her chair and another on the table. "Alright, we're gonna make it a club trip! And since it's a club trip, we can spare some club funds for Umeko-chan's ticket!". She sat back down, ruffling her hair. "Ehe, if Yasu-chan says it's ok, I mean...". Yasuko chuckled a little. "Ah, I wouldn't mind, although I'll need to ask my uncle. My cousin was really excited about meeting you, so I'm sure she'd love to meet Umeko-san as well. And we should be able to cover it in the budget."

"W-When are you going anyway?", I asked. "The sixth next month, right Yasu-chan?!". Yasuko nodded at Subaru and I sighed. "Uuee... That's pretty short notice too...". Ran smirked a bit. "Ah; do you even have a passport, Umeko-chaaan?".

"Y-Yeah, of course I do... I guess I've only been overseas once though...". I sighed again. "I-Is it really ok with you, Yasuko-chan?". She nodded at me. "Yes, it's fine... Ah, also I wouldn't want to go up against Subaru-san when she gets her heart set on something". Subaru pouted again. "Eeeh, what's that mean, Yaaaasuuuu-chaaaan?".

"W-Well... I'll ask my parents if it'd be ok...". I stood up, slipping my lunchbox into my school bag and putting it over my shoulder. "M-Maybe it'd help if they'd met you at least". I paused. "H-How about tomorrow?". Subaru grinned. "Alright then, Umeko-chan!".

Track 3
A First Impression?!

"Ume-chan, when were your friends going to be over?". I finished putting some clothing away. "I-In a few minutes, mom!". Finished cleaning, I walked out of my room and down the stairs just as the doorbell rang, and opened the door to see Subaru, Ran, and Yasuko standing outside. "Yo, Umeko-chan!".

"Hey Subaru-chan, Yasuko-chan, Ran-chan... Oh, come in...". The three of them walked in, taking off their shoes and putting on slippers. "Uuee... J-Just don't say anything weird please, Ran-chan, Subaru-chan". Ran shrugged and Subaru pouted. "Yeeeeaaaaah."

"Hey, when have I ever said anything weird, Umeko-chan?!". I sighed. "S-Sometimes you say weird stuff too... W-Whatever, do any of you want some tea?". Subaru ruffled her hair. "Ah, yes please, Umeko-san", Yasuko replied. Ran and Subaru nodded in agreement. "Yeah, thanks for offering Umeko-chan!". I turned towards the kitchen.

"These are them, Ume-chan?". My mother walked into the hallway from another room. "Oh, Yeah... This is Subaru Hashibami-chan, Yasuko Matsuoka-chan, Ran Kimura-chan". She bowed. "It's nice to meet you! I'm Ume-chan's mother... Oh, please, you can sit down in the living room". The three of them bowed. "Oh, right, the tea! Uuee...". I went to kitchen and put water on, listening to the three of them and my mother talking in the other room.

"Ah, I hope we're not imposing...", Yasuko said. I got a tray and five cups down from the cupboard. "No, no, you're fine! Oh, you girls and Ume-chan are in the minecart club, huh?".

"Yep! I'm the club president. Ehe, Yasu-chan handles a lot of stuff for me though...". I poured powdered tea into each cup. "So you maintain the carts and run them and everything? I was in a carpentry club in high school and not many girls were into crafting back then, so I'm glad you girls are interested."

I poured the water, taking a deep breath and carrying the tray in. "Especially if you got Ume-chan into it! Aaaah, she never showed much interest in carpentry growing up... She's really matured even since she started high school!".

"Uueee...", I put the tray down on the table in the living room and sat down, blushing a bit. "D-Don't say stuff like that and embarrass me, mom...". She chuckled. "Sorry, sorry!". She picked up her teacup. "Oh, Yasuko-chan, you helped Ume-chan out with her English test, huh? She mentioned how good you are at it". Yasuko took a sip of tea. "Oh, it's nothing really... My mother is a native speaker so it's not like I'm especially talented with languages."

"Oh, you're half-Japanese then?". Yasuko nodded. "You're so refined! Is your mother English?". Yasuko looked a bit thrown off. "Ah, she's American... I was going to be staying with family there actually". My mother lowered her teacup. "Eeh?".

"Hey, it's not to fair to stereotype you know!". Subaru wiggled her finger and I sighed. "S-Subaru-chan... D-Didn't you say once Yasuko-chan should be brasher since she's half American...?". She grinned, ruffling her hair and looking off to the side. "Aah, did I say that? Ehehe...". Yasuko and my mother laughed.

"Heeey, Umeko-chaaan", I glanced over to see Ran looking through a cabinet in the TV stand. "You don't have many videogames? What were we gonna play?". I sighed again. "Uueee... H-How about cards? W-We could play go fish or something...". She looked at me blankly. "Fiiiiine, Umeko-chan."

I gathered up the deck of cards and slipped them back in the box. Subaru, Ran, and Yasuko had already gone home, leaving me anxious about my mother's impressions of them after seeing Subaru and Ran's usual behavior. I sighed, putting the cards away and moving on to gathering the teacups onto the tray, when my mother walked back into the living room.

"So-", we both started. "Uuee, you go first...". She giggled. "Alright". We both sat down. "I mean it when I say you've gotten more confident in yourself, Ume-chan, and I can tell your friends are people you'll be able to rely on. Oh, plus they seem pretty fun!". She gave me a thumbs up. "So I'm ok with you going with them!". I blinked.

"R-Really? I-I figured you'd think they were weird...". She lowered her glasses a little. "Eeh, well, they're certainly a bit weird too, but, yeah, really". I smiled. "Thank you! I promise I won't let you down!...". I sighed. "Uuee... Maybe that's kind of weird to say about this...".

Track 4
An Overseas Club Trip?!

The bell sounded and I slipped my textbook into my school bag, standing up and stretching my arms. "Hey, Umeko-chan, want to walk with me and Ringo-chan?". I turned my head. "Oh, ok Shiori-chan!". The three of us started walking out to the gate. "You know, how is the rail you guys were building coming along?", Shiori asked. "We've gotten more done than I thought we would in a month. Uuee... It's weird to think we're done for the semester already. It feels like it was yesterday that we started here."

Shiori shrugged. "Time feels faster as you get older, huh?". Ringo rolled her eyes. "Who cares?! It's summer, it's summer! Uhuhu... I can finally watch all the anime and read all the manga I want in peace for a whole month!". Shiori just looked at her blankly. "You do realize we still have homework over the summer vacation, right Ringo-chan?".

"Shioriiinnnnn... Don't be such a buzzkill!".

"I'm just saying...". She giggled a little. "Ah, whatever. Not like I'm not going to try and enjoy the summer too."

"Uhu, even our Shiorin cuts loose sometimes, huh?". Shiori furrowed her brow. "Don't push your luck while I'm feeling like being nice to you". Ringo laughed. "Soooorry. Oh, you were picking up your new laptop today right? Make sure you tell me if that game you were talking about is any good, Shiorin!". She nodded. "Ah, sure". We passed the school gates.

"So, you're really going to America with your club next month Umeko-chan?". I nodded. "Y-Yeah, Shiori-chan. Uuee, I'm starting to get nervous about it...". I sighed. "Oh, where in America are you going?".

"Uhh... Oregon. My mother was excited, since I guess there was a drama that was really big when she was a kid that they filmed there". I ruffled my hair. "Uuee, I don't know much about it though... I've never been to America before."

"Huh, didn't you go to Hawaii when we were in junior high, Umeko-chan?". I tilted my head. "Y-Yeah...?". I remembered something and blushed a bit. "Uuueeee... Oh, yeah, Hawaii is part of America isn't it?". We came to an intersection. "Ah, me and Ringo-chan were both going to Midorimachi. You want to do anything, Umeko-chan?".

"We were probably going to stop somewhere and eat!", Ringo added. I smiled and nodded. "Yeah, sure!".

"Flight 68 to Portland is now boarding at Gate 15...".

I hurried down the terminal corridor to keep up with Subaru, holding on to my small carry-on bag. We finally made it to our gate and I was able to stop and catch my breath. "D-Did we have to run so fast...?". Ran glanced at her phone. "Boarding is almost over". I sighed. "I guess that's a yes... Uuee, Narita is so far away."

Yasuko caught up with us. "Ah, sorry... I thought we'd have more time to spare than this". Subaru sighed and wiggled her finger at her. "Aaaah, Yasu-chan, we almost missed the plane because you refused to run!". She giggled a little. "Oh, in that case we should really get moving, shouldn't we?". The four of us walked into the jet bridge, the gate agent checking our boarding passes.

My heart was practically racing as I stuffed my bag in the overhead compartment and settled in to a seat by the window. "Uuee... I'm kinda nervous...". Subaru took the seat next to me. "Ehe, I'm just excited! Oh, it's nice how it's just two seats next to each other here, huh?!". I shrugged. "I guess?".

I took a deep breath as the plane started to move, slowly turning onto the runway. I peered out the window at the engine as it got louder and we started accelerating. "Ehehe, this is the fun part!", Subaru glanced at me. "Eeh, you're a bit pale, Umeko-chan... Oh, are you afraid of flying?".

"W-Who wouldn't be?", I stammered. Subaru grinned. "Cmon, don't worry about it! It's gonna be fine!".

"Aaactually", Ran interjected from the seat behind me. "Taking off is the most dangerous part, Subaru-chan, Umeko-chaaan". Even without looking at her I could just see the smirk that she gets when she says weird stuff. I shivered. Subaru ruffled her hair. "Ehehe...".

Soon enough we'd climbed into the clear sky, with nothing but the blue ocean under us outside of my window.

"Hey, Umeko-chan, Umeko-chan!", I felt someone shaking me. I rubbed my eyes and yawned, shifting around in my seat and pulling my blanket closer. "Uueee... Gimme a few more minutes, Subaru-chan...". I pulled the blanket over my head, hoping to block out the loud hum from outside. "Eeeh? Cmon, Umeko-chan! Wake up!". Subaru sighed.

"Hyaa!", she first pulled the blanket off me, then reached over me and opened something, letting light stream in. My eyes shot open and I started taking in my surroundings. "...Uuee?!". I looked out the window at the clouds and blue water below. "Oh, right... Uuueeee...".

"Eeh, 'oh, right' what?". I sighed. "I-I was remembering we were on a plane... Uuee, I'm always pretty disoriented when I wake up...". Subaru giggled. "Ehe, you slept pretty soundly for being afraid of flying, Umeko-chan... Oh, it's almost breakfast time!". I rubbed my eyes again, digging a menu out of the seat pocket.

"I guess there's not really a choice for breakfast, huh?". I slipped it back into pocket. "D-Do you know when we're going to land, Subaru-chan?".

"Oh, lemme see!". She clicked around on the touch screen in front of her. "Only about an hour left now! Ehe, I'm pretty excited!". I leaned back in my seat. "Me too, I guess...".
ToroKoko – Rideable Minecart High School 8th Book, Second Part
I should play Oregon Trail on this online emulator – Culture shock edition!

Track 5
Welcome to Oregon?!

The four of us descended the escalator toward the baggage claim area. "Uueee... It took forever to get through customs...". I sighed. "Maybe it would've gone faster if my English was better...". We got to the conveyor belt, and Subaru, Ran, and Yasuko quickly retrieved their checked bags. I waited patiently as the bags went around and around.

"...I-I haven't seen it yet".

"Ah, you know you can check online if you go to the airline website", Yasuko replied. I got my phone out and typed it in, managing to find the bag status page and enter my info, and waited as it slowly loaded.

"...U-Unknown?". My heart sank. "A-All my clothes were in that bag! N-Now what am I going to wear when we get to Oregon?!". I slumped down next to the conveyor belt. "Ah; I'm pretty sure we're already in Oregon, Umeko-chaaan". I looked up at Ran with tears in my eyes. "H-How is that supposed to h-help...?". She looked like she genuinely felt a bit bad. "I guess not, yeah...". Yasuko put her arm around me. "It's going to be fine, Umeko-san. You didn't have any valuables in that bag, right?". I nodded.

Subaru snapped her fingers. "Ehe, if worst comes to worst you can wear some of my clothes! We're about the same height, so they should fit, huh?!". She put her finger to her chin. "Oh, I guess you'd need to buy bras and panties somewhere, especially since you're a bit bustier than me... Ehehe, it'd be weird to share those". I blushed. "Y-You think?".

She nodded. "Yeah, that'd be a bit much, right?! Ehe, especially since we aren't in like, that kind of a relationship!". Uuueeee, m-maybe I just can't do sarcasm... I looked at Ran's blank face and wondered what she must be thinking about. Uuee, I guess she'd be interested in Subaru's pa- I stopped myself, blushing even more. Uueee, why is it I keep thinking of stuff like that sometimes?!

"Umeko-san, are you feeling a-", I cut Yasuko off. "N-Nothing, nothing!". I stood up, rubbing my eyes a bit. "...Ah, uh, anyway, we did have some time for shopping and sightseeing downtown."

"Oh, great, Yasu-chan! Ehe, didn't you say we were gonna take the light rail?!", Subaru flashed a peace sign. "Alright then, let's get going, girls!".

"Ehe, I think I'm gonna get this one, Umeko-chan!". I looked at the shirt Subaru was holding up, a black T-shirt with yellow writing on it in English. "Uuee... 'Keep Portland Weird'? W-What's that about? I think I saw it somewhere else too."

"Oh, Yasu-chan was talking about that! It's a slogan about celebrating unique local culture I think. Oh, Umeko-chan, aren't you getting anything?!". I held up my shopping bags. "I think I bought enough clothes already at the other store, so...".

"Huh? This is totally different, Umeko-chan! These are souvenirs!". Subaru sighed and then jabbed her finger in my face. "Ok, if you aren't gonna pick something out I'll find something for you!". She went back to looking through the shelves and racks. "Uuee... O-Ok, I guess...". I saw Ran and Yasuko walk over. "D-Did you get anything, Ran-chan?". She held up a shirt with a raindrop pattern and colorful 'Oregon' writing.

"Alright, let's see how this looks!". From behind, Subaru put a hat on my head. "...Uuee?!". She stepped in front of me. "Ehe, it looks cute on you! It goes pretty well with those clothes. Oh, oh, there's a mirror over here!". She took my hand and dragged me in front of it. Subaru had picked out a sunhat with a white brim and pink top, decorated with butterfly shapes.

"Y-Yeah, I guess it's pretty cute, Subaru-chan...". I took it off, handing it back to her, and we started walking towards the checkout. Something caught my eye on one of the shelves, a striped blanket in muted red and green tones. I ran my hand over it. "Aaah... This feels so soft... Uuee, Subaru-chan, c-could you carry one of these for a minute?". I handed her one of my bags and picked up the blanket, and we continued to the counter.

After Ran and Subaru had finished checking out I walked up and the cashier checked the tag, placing the blanket in yet another plastic bag. "That comes to 169 dollars". I mentally multiplied that by one hundred and fumbled through my wallet for the card. Uuee, t-that's kind of a lot... "Y-Yes". I swiped it and entered the code, not fully expecting it to work, but it seemed to. "Here's your receipt; Have a nice day!". I took the receipt and my bag. "T-Thank you."

I rejoined the others in front of the store and we started walking, heading across the mall and up the stairs to street level. "Uuee... I dunno what I'd be doing without you helping me with my English, Yasuko-chan... And even then I've messed up a few times". Yasuko chuckled. "Ah, don't worry about it too much. You've been doing fine."

We exited onto the street corner to find a slight drizzle had started while we were inside. "Eeh, it's raining? Yasu-chan, I thought you said it was always sunny in the summer here?!". She chuckled again. "It wouldn't be the real Pacific Northwest experience without some rain". Subaru pouted. "Aaagh, Ran-chan, buying that shirt cursed us, didn't it?!". Ran giggled a little.

We followed Yasuko, crossing the street and walking down the tree-lined sidewalk, past an old building she identified as the courthouse. We hurried across another street onto a brick-paved square, and Subaru pointed at something off to the side. "Ehe, look, there's a statue over there! Cmon!". We followed her up the steps to find a sculpture of a businessman holding an umbrella. "Ehehe, that's perfect!". Subaru stood under the umbrella and held out her phone, snapping a picture.

"We should get going soon", Yasuko said, slipping her phone into her pocket. "My uncle was going to pick us up and he said he was just crossing the bridge now". We followed her to the end of the square and stood under a tree where it was a little dryer. A few minutes later a bearded man walked up, waving. "Hello, Yasuko!".

"Ah, it's nice to see you again!", she replied, waving back. "Oh", she turned back to us. "This is my uncle Mark."

"This is Subaru, Ran, and Umeko", she introduced us in English. He turned to us. "Hello". Subaru put out her hand and he bowed slightly. Yasuko chuckled and Subaru ruffled her hair. He shook her hand, and I bowed in return. "Sorry", he said in Japanese again before continuing in English. "I don't know much Japanese. Do you speak English well?".

"Oh, yes, I know some!", Subaru replied enthusiastically. Ran nodded. "Uuee... L-Little bit". He said something to Yasuko that I didn't quite catch. "He parked a little ways from here", she explained. "Shall we?". The three of us followed Yasuko and her uncle down the street and across another intersection to his car. He opened the back and we loaded in our shopping bags and luggage, and I climbed into the spacious back seat, ending up in the middle between Subaru and Ran.

"Hey, how far is it, Yasu-chan?!", Subaru asked. Yasuko looked back at us from the front seat. "Ah, it's about three hours from here". Subaru grinned. "Ehe, I can hardly wait!".

Track 6
A Visit In The Countryside?!

Subaru opened the car door as we came to a stop, jumping out, and I followed her, stretching my arms and looking around. The landscape had gone from wooded mountains to a flat expanse of wheat fields, and we'd arrived at a farmhouse with a large garage off to the side, some minecart rails running from it.

"Aaaagh, it's so hot...". Subaru sighed. "Yasu-chaaan, why'd you tell us to bring warm jackets too when it's this hot...?".

"Even in the summer it can get quite cold at night", Yasuko answered, putting on a pair of sunglasses. Subaru looked unimpressed and half-heartedly jabbed her finger in Yasuko's face. "Aaaah, stop just trying to look cool here with those sunglasses!". Yasuko chuckled.

"Hey, Yasu!". A girl ran up to us from the garage. She looked about Yasuko's age, with short blonde hair and a cowboy hat. She hugged Yasuko briefly. "How was your flight?".

"It was fine. Ah, I'd like you to meet Subaru, Ran, and Umeko". She bowed, a little clumsily. "Hello! My name is Cassidy. I'm Yasu's cousin, yeah!", she introduced herself in somewhat stilted Japanese. I bowed. "Y-You speak Japanese?".

"A little bit! Yasu started teaching me when we were kids, yeah, and I take some lessons". She looked over at the car. "Oh, wow, you guys must have a lot of luggage. Let me help with that; I'll show you to the guest rooms!".

"You did a lot of shopping, huh Umeko?". I put my shopping bags down on the floor next to the bed and sighed. "Uuee... My bag got lost on the flight here...". Subaru set her bag down by the window. "Oh, I'll get a spare mattress to lay out. Sorry we only have two spare rooms". We walked out of the bedroom and Cassidy closed the door behind us. "Oh, uh, Thank you, Kyashi-... Kashiji... Kyaji-... Uuueeee, S-Sorry...". She broke out laughing and Subaru giggled a little. "Sorry, sorry, I didn't mean to laugh!".

I ruffled my hair a bit. "It's fine, yeah, just call me something shorter I guess, I don't really care much!". Uueee, I already felt kind of uncomfortable just using her first name. I sighed. "O-Ok... C-Can I call you Cassie-san then...?". She shrugged. "Yeah, sure! Anyway, dinner is going to be soon, yeah."

Subaru snapped her fingers. "Ehe, in that case I'm gonna call you Cassie-chan from now on!". We followed Cassidy downstairs. "Oh, what's for dinner, Cassie-chan?!".

"My dad is making fajitas, yeah". I tilted my head. "...'Fajita'? W-What's that...?". She put her finger to her chin. "It's like, yeah, beef and vegetables all cooked together and you put it on a tortilla. Whatever, you'll see! It's good stuff, yeah!". We walked into the kitchen, where Yasuko's uncle was cooking at the stove.

"Ehe, it smells good! Aaah, so hungry...!". Cassidy laughed and slapped her on the back. "You seem like my kind of girl, Subaru!". She ruffled her hair. "Ehehe...". Someone stepped into the doorway from the next room. "Oh, Cassidy, I already set the table since you were busy helping Yasuko's friends."

"'Kay, mom!". She looked over her shoulder. "This is my mom Kim, yeah". I bowed, and Subaru just waved.

"Did Yasu already introduce them to you?". Kim shook her head. "Ok, this is Subaru and Umeko! Uh, I think Yasu was still helping Ran with her stuff."

"Ah, is it about dinner time?". I turned around to see Yasuko and Ran come downstairs. "I'd be more than happy to help with anything". Cassidy rolled her eyes. "Come on Yasu, you're our guest!". Yasuko chuckled. "Ah, if you insist...". Her uncle laughed, turning the stove off and picking up the skillet. "You're really just like Erica you know, Yasuko."

"Erica?". Me and Subaru followed the others into the next room. "Oh, he must mean Yasuko's mom!", Subaru answered. We sat down and I started putting food on my place, taking a piece of flatbread and going to take some meat and vegetables. Uueee, t-there's so many bell peppers... I hesitantly put some on my plate.

"Hey, you ok Umeko?", Cassidy asked. I felt embarrassed. "Y-Yes". Yasuko chuckled a little. "Ah, many children in Japan dislike green peppers". Cassidy nodded along as she went on. "I believe there was an American movie recently where they changed broccoli to green peppers in Japan". Ran shrugged. "I love them."

Uuee, everyone always thinks I'm childish. I-I'm definitely going to eat them then! I wrapped up the bread and picked it up like I saw Cassidy and Yasuko doing and took a bite. Even if I didn't like the peppers it wasn't bad. "It tastes good."

"Thank you. I'm glad you like it", Yasuko's uncle replied. "Oh, what is this?!", Subaru pointed at a bowl of diced vegetables. "Pico de gallo", Kim answered her. "I make it with habaneros, so it's quite spicy". Subaru liberally spread some on her food. "Oh, excellent! Thank you!". I couldn't quite follow along with what Cassidy and Yasuko were talking about in English and just finished my dinner quietly. Cassidy started clearing away the dishes and leftovers, and Yasuko stood up.

"Ah, really I insist, Cassidy". Cassidy shrugged. "Yasu, Yasu, Yasu... Do you ever relax?!". She laughed. "Not as much as I should, I suppose". I felt awkward not doing anything to help, but didn't want to try to insist either. The two of them quickly cleared the table. "Alright, now that that's done", Cassidy walked back into the dining room. "Hey, you girls wanna go somewhere?!".

"Oh, yes, that sounds fun!", Subaru responded. Ran shrugged. "Ookaaaay".

"W-Where do you want to go Cassie-san?", I asked. "There's a place with an awesome view!". We followed Cassidy outside, and I started wondering how we were going to get there if her parents weren't coming. We came to the garage and she lifted the door open. Inside were some shelves, a few minecarts on a track off to the side, and a kind of old looking car. She took a keychain out of her jeans pocket and it dawned on me.

"Y-You have a car, Cassie-san?". She looked back at me, a little quizzically. "Yes...?". She opened the car door and moved the seat forward. "You are about Yasuko-chan's age, r-right?". She glanced back. "Yeah, just a few months older. I turned 17 a week ago."

"Wow, that is so cool!", Subaru replied. Ran knelt down, inspecting the grill and hood. "What year?".

"It's an '85". Cassidy smiled. "I bought it when I was 14 and started fixing it up, so I've actually been working on it since before I could drive it". She took some sort of panel out of the roof and stuck it behind the back seats. "You three are pretty small, yeah, so you should all fit in the back!". Yasuko opened the door on the other side and her and Ran got in, while I climbed in to the back seat with Subaru climbing after me. Cassidy moved the driver's seat back and got in.

"Share a seatbelt with someone Umeko, I don't want to get stopped". I scooted over a bit to the left, uncomfortably close to Subaru, and she unbuckled her belt and stretched it over both of our laps. I blushed a bit, noticing Ran glaring at me with a blank expression. "Uuee...". Cassidy turned the key and the engine started with a roar. Subaru's eyes lit up. "Wow! You do not see cars like this much in Japan!".

"A-Are you interested in cars too, Subaru-chan?". She ruffled her hair. "Ehe, maybe not as much as trains or minecarts, but what mechanical otaku wouldn't love a sound like that?!". Cassidy put her foot down and we roared out of the garage and down the gravel driveway to a side road, and soon to highway. After only a few minutes, we took a tight turn, screaming along a spiraling road up a hill, and with nothing else to hold on to, I threw my arms around Subaru. "Uuee...! I-Isn't this too fast?!".

We finally came to a stop near the top of the hill. "Ehe... Y-You feeling ok, Umeko-chan?". I noticed Subaru was blushing a bit too and released her, looking down at my feet. "Uuueeee... Y-Yeah...". The five of us got out and walked up the steps to the viewpoint. My eyes went wide as I looked out over the town below in the early evening light, a few of the mountains in the distance still capped with snow. "Uuee... I-It's pretty...!".

Ran brushed by and glanced at me. "You shouldn't do anything funny with Subaru-chan even if you're sharing a room, remember, Umeko-chaaan?".

"...Uuee? W-What do you mean 'funny'?". She smirked. "Noooothing."

Track 7
A Summer Vacation Mission?!

"Uuee... T-There's so much food...". Subaru grinned, piling eggs, bacon, and French toast onto her plate. "Ehe, yeah isn't it great?! This is a real classic American breakfast, huh?!". I sighed and put some scrambled eggs and a piece of toast on my plate. Yasuko and Cassidy took a lot too... I saw Ran walk in and sit down, rubbing her eyes. She took some food and just sort of stared at me. "G-Good morning, Ran-chan...".

"Syrup?". I ruffled my hair and passed it to her. I guess she wasn't staring because she thought I did something wrong then... "Oh!", Cassidy put down her silverware. "Me and Yasu were going to the shooting range later yeah, interested?". I tilted my head. "S-Shooting Range...? L-Like for guns...?". Cassidy nodded.

"Uuee... N-No thank you...". Ran raised her hand and Subaru giggled. "Ehehe, maybe you aren't just the ojousama character we thought, huh, Yasu-chan?!".

"Ah, I suppose I enjoy doing it when I visit, but it isn't quite a hobby of mine". She glanced over at Cassidy and then back to us, with a serious expression on her face. "Anyway, I don't think I could invite anyone in good conscience, especially since it would be without anyone else's permission. I apologize, Ran-san."

Subaru sighed. "Aaah, yeah, I guess it's kinda dangerous, huh? I'm imagining Umeko-chan trying it... Ehe, sorry...". I ruffled my hair again. "Uuee... No, I-I was thinking that'd be bad too". Ran looked a little bit disappointed. "Y-You really wanted to try, Ran-chan?". She shrugged. "Sounds fun, doesn't it, Umeko-chan?".

"Uuee? I-It doesn't really to me, but...". Subaru finished off her mountain of French toast. "Oh, Cassie-chan, do you work on the minecarts too?!".

"Yep! Oh yeah, Yasu mentioned you girls are super into that stuff". Subaru grinned and ruffled her hair a little. "It'll be exciting to see a real working minecart system up close! Are we gonna today?!". Cassidy shook her head. "Not today, but I am going to be working all this week, yeah!".

I yawned, leaning against an empty minecart on a siding next to the garage. "Uueee... It's early...". Cassidy poured oil from a gas can into the furnace cart. "There is a lot of work to do during harvest, yeah, so it's good to start early yeah!". Ran knelt down and intently looked at the gauges on the side of the furnace.

"Oh, so you still use furnace minecarts?!", Subaru asked. Cassidy hung the empty can on the side of the cart. "Yep. Buying oil is cheaper than it would be to electrify the rail. Oh, could you help me check the couplers?". I stretched my arms and yawned again, and the four of us walked up and down the line of carts making sure they were all connected properly.

"Good morning!". I looked and saw Yasuko walking over, holding a thermos. "Ah, sorry I wasn't here in time to help". Cassidy waved at her. "That's ok, Yasu! Alright, everyone get on, I'm gonna move them!". I climbed over the side of the last minecart, and Yasuko set her thermos down and climbed in from the other side. Subaru and Ran clambered into a cart at the front, while Cassidy stood on the running board of the furnace cart and looked back.

"All clear!". She released the brake lever and lit the furnace, and the line of carts slowly got moving. I yawned and leaned back against the wall of the cart. "Ah, Umeko-san, would you like some coffee?". Yasuko offered me the thermos. "Huh? Oh, I dunno... I don't really drink it. Uuee, I guess it's ok with milk and sugar...". She put her finger to her chin. "I prefer it black. Ah, that's what I brought, so...".

"Oh. N-No thank you then, I'm fine...". I looked out over the wheat field along the rail, a blanket of light yellow stretching into the distance. "Uuee, there's a lot!". Yasuko chuckled. I felt Cassidy push the brakes and we slowed to a stop. Me and Yasuko climbed over the side.

"Ok, we're gonna load the carts with grain and take it down to the silo!", Cassidy shouted from the other end of the train. She waved a harvester alongside, and a chute swung out over one of the carts, filling it and then moving down the line, filling them one by one. Yasuko's uncle opened the cab door and climbed down. "Good morning girls!".

He glanced at the thermos in Yasuko's hand. "Oh, mind if I take some of that Yasuko?". She shook her head, opening it. "Oh, no, not at all." He unscrewed his thermos and Yasuko poured some in the top for him. She closed it back up and took a sip. "Hey, is it all loaded yet?!", Cassidy called down. He laughed. "Yeah, you're good to go, Cassidy!". Me and Yasuko waved to him and walked up to the one empty cart left, that Subaru and Ran had been sitting in, and climbed in. "I-It's a little tight...".

Cassidy jumped in after us. "Hey, how about you try running it, Subaru?!". Subaru grinned. "Oh, I would love to do it!". She leapt down and climbed up on the running board. "Alright, release brake". Subaru pushed the brake lever back and checked that the reverser handle was in forward. "Throttle!". She carefully pushed the throttle lever forward and we started moving again. "Brake!", Cassidy called out as we approached a switch onto a siding by a grain silo, and Subaru pulled the lever and brought the cart to a halt.

Cassidy, Yasuko, and Ran climbed out of the cart and Cassidy threw the switch lever. Yasuko looked over her shoulder at me. "Ah, you should probably get out now, Umeko-san". I climbed over the side and hopped down to the ground. "M-Maybe this is a silly question but... How do you get all the wheat out?". Ran pointed at a railing running along the siding. "The carts can tip. That guide rail pushes them up."

"Ok, go slowly!", Cassidy instructed Subaru. She released the brakes and moved the throttle forward. As each cart went by, a guide wheel ran up the rail, tipping the cart body up and dropping grain onto a conveyor belt. "O-Oh, I see how it works! That's neat". Subaru set the brakes again and walked over. "Ehe, that was fun, Cassie-chan! Alright, what's next?!".

I finished packing my clothes and zipped up my new duffel bag. I laid down on the bed. "Uuee... It's hard to believe it's been six days already Subaru-chan". She sat up on the mattress on the floor. "Ehe, yeah, even though I'm exhausted it felt like it just went by so quickly!". I giggled. "I-It's weird to just work on minecarts and help farm vegetables for a vacation, huh?".

Subaru sighed and pointed her finger in my face. "That's where you're wrong, Umeko-chan! This wasn't just a vacation, it was a serious mission to learn more about minecarts in their natural habitat!". I blinked a few times. "...Uuee?". She flopped back down. "Ehehe, I guess saying it like that it sounds dumb, yeah. But still!". Someone knocked on the bedroom door and I sat up.

Cassidy opened it and stepped in. Subaru sat up. "Yo, Cassie-chan!".

"Hey!", she leaned against the wall. "It was fun meeting you girls, yeah! It was cool to meet someone else so interested in machines". Subaru grinned. "Oh, yes, it was fun for me too!". I nodded "Y-Yes". Cassidy glanced at the alarm clock on the nightstand. "Oh, is it this late already, yeah? You have a long drive to Portland in the morning". She walked out and turned toward Yasuko and Ran's guest room. "Goodnight!". She closed the door behind her.

Subaru flipped the lightswitch and laid back down, throwing a blanket over herself. "Aaah, I can't wait to be back home though!". I nodded. "Me too... Uuee, I-I felt kinda homesick sometimes...". Subaru sat up. "That isn't anything to be embarrassed about, Umeko-chan! Ehe, traveling is fun but I feel the same way too". I giggled a little again. "I don't know if that makes me feel any better, but thanks, Subaru-chan."
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