Rideable Minecart High School, and other short stories


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Another short Fire Emblem: Three Houses story, but weirder this time. Doesn't really directly spoil anything but it makes more sense if you've finished the Golden Deer route. Still going to put it in spoiler tags though since I'm not sure if I'd characterize as a spoiler or not exactly and the game is still new and you should play it.

Spaceship Orion
The sky was thick and hazy with smog, dying it a sickly yellow and, with her having been forced out of the climate-controlled train terminal, filtering into the young girl's lungs as she breathed and choked on it. Just walking in this air, her hair had begun to feel gritty and dirty. She felt overwhelmed, her body by the air, polluted far beyond her skin's ability to cleanse it, and her mind by fear, anger, and sadness. Her mother held her hand as they walked, and she looked up.

Even in a clear sky, she thought, the graphene cables would appear to stretch into eternity.

She was afraid of the unknown she was about to leap towards, angry at being forced to leave her home behind, and sad that she might never see it again. Even a hundred thousand moons from now, were she to live so long, it might not be possible to return.

Mercifully, they stepped through the doors into the filtered air of the base station. She could breathe somewhat clearly now as they lined up, the foyer filled with people in queues snaking around it from the ticket gates. It was hours before finally they approached the gates themselves, her mother and father going through as she was waved towards another gate. The man at the booth asked for her hand, and she held her palm out in front of her, calling forth from her blood a sigil that she suspended in the air, criss-crossed lace with wings outspread in flight.

He checked his computer screen to cross-reference it with her file and, oddly cheerful for what to her felt like such a emotionally charged moment, informed her that her ticket had been confirmed and her account charged, before waving her through the gates with instructions for which concourse to proceed to and a 'have a nice trip'. She pouted as she was reunited with her parents and they started up the stairs towards the second floor from the top where their gate was situated.

As they stepped off the staircase and walked towards the waiting area, she could see outside through the glass windows the elevator car, a huge circlular structure several stories tall sitting in the middle of the ring-shaped terminal, clinging to its cable. She pressed her hands up against the glass, peering out, and felt another pang of sadness thinking about how it would soon carry her far away.

It felt like it was all too soon that the boarding call came over the loudspeakers and they lined up again, walking through the long bridges that connected the concourse to the car. They took their seats by the window, and to take her mind off things she tried to engross herself in the safety card left in the pocket beside hers, going over its dreadfully boring, carefully-worded instructions on how to fold the seat flat to sleep in and what to do in the event of an emergency, the latter doing nothing for her nerves. By the time she looked up from it, she noticed her mother had left. She glanced to the next seat, feeling a little relieved that her father was still in his seat, leafing through a magazine.

Her mother soon reappeared, carrying a plastic bag in her hand, and sat down again. She evidently noticed the displeasure on her daughter's face.

"What's wrong, sweetie?".

"You left."

She gave a half-hearted smile and tossled her daughter's long, green hair. "I only went to buy a few things. You know I wouldn't leave you alone". She reached into the bag and took out a dessert in a plastic container. "See, I went and bought you your favorite pudding."

"Hmph". Despite her attempt to seem unimpressed, she took the pudding and the spoon her mother offered her with it, a bit of happiness and innocence back on her face, and her mother smiled again, more warmly this time, as she popped it open and took the first bite. She felt the electric motors come to life and the car begin to move, slowly at first and then faster and faster.

They climbed higher and higher into the sky as minutes turn into hours into days. It was four days and three nights before finally the elevator reached its peak and they disembarked into another vast terminal. Walking over panes of glass in the floor and looking down through them, she felt speechless awe and a dizzying fear of falling, looking down towards home from thirty six thousand kilometers up, floating in the heavens.

Even from here, she could make out that all-encompassing yellow haze. She could now see how the thickest of it covered only patches of the planet, though its thin, faint glint was everywhere.

From there, they filed through a labyrinth of corridors that felt so tangled she couldn't quite tell where they had passed from the station into the vessel itself, only a faint feeling that there was now no more turning back as she realized the subtle changes in her surroundings. Finally, they had reached a long corridor, the cold dark of space visible from skylights high above, its wall lined with little cells, only large enough for a person to comfortably lay down but well enough appointed with beds for the long journey ahead. Many of the doors were already closed, and a only a few others were still filtering in and getting comfortable before shutting theirs.

Her mother tapped her on the shoulder and pointed to one of the cells, the warm golden light and the crisp linens on the bed looking inviting. Just looking at it, she yawned, and her mother laughed. "Here's your compatment."

She knelt down and wrapped her arms around her, kissing her cheek and running a hand through her hair. "Don't worry, it will feel just like it's tomorrow when we wake up, and mommy and daddy will be there too. We'll find a new home together, ok?". She squeezed her a little tighter. "Goodnight, Sothis."

Her father tossled her hair as well. "Sleep tight."

Her mother released her and stood up, and Sothis nodded. "Goodnight."

Shields slowly slid over the skylights, and the bright lighting in the corridor faded to a low, warm orange as Sothis crawled in to bed and closed the door, before slipping out of her clothes and stuffing them haphazardly onto a shelf in the wall. She pulled the covers up and rested her head on the pillow, glanced at the little control panel at the back of the cell and fiddled with it, getting the temperature just right and, satisfied, turning down the lights. The knob clicked, and they went totally dark. It wasn't long before she nodded off.

For an incalcuably long time they flew and she slept, dreams coming and going and then fading out of memory. It was serene at first, and remained so for her even through the fear and the darkness that came.

Sothis opened her eyes, squinting as soon as she did, no longer accustomed to the bright sunlight. In fact, she had scarcely seen such a brilliantly bright sky, pale blue and obsctruted only by fluffy white clouds hanging over it. The chirps and squeaks of some manner of small creature filled her ears, and her whole body ached.

With her hand she shielded her eyes, and began to look around, first examining the spot where she lay. Metal, twisted and charred, and torn linens lay with her, though somehow her clothes, still sitting on the remains of a shelf, had survived mostly intact, and she drowsily pulled them on. Surveying her surroundings more broadly, she saw more wreckage as well, and found she had fallen in a field of dead grass amid a large, barren canyon. The grass felt brittle, crunching as she ran a hand over it, and the air felt dry as a bone. She felt a desperate need for a drink of water, and it scarcely seemed possible for there to be life in this world.

Suddenly, she was afraid. Faint memories ran through her mind, though whether they were truth or simply a half-remembered dream she couldn't tell. All she knew was that she had a deep feeling of being alone, and a sense of loss for something she could no longer quite place. And that even still, she didn't want to die. And even more so, she didn't want to die still alone. She looked down at her hand. The grass felt different now, and the tiniest bit of green had returned to the very tips of its blades, as if her touch had given it back life.

She struggled to her feet, and wondered just kind of world it was that she now made her new home.

And the notes;
Wrote this on a whim after kinda going down a rabbit hole. I happened to see someone tweet about the cover art for the SNES game Phalanx. I thought I remembered seeing it before and went looking for more about the game and found an AVGN video about it and happened to see a comment on the video mentioned a song called Spaceship Orion by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and looked that up. Besides the song itself I found a music blog analyzing it and mentioning the lyrics being about leaving a planet that's become uninhabitable, which I honestly somehow hadn't realized. I've been thinking a lot about the prehistory of Fodlan and fic ideas I have involving it, and listening to the song I came up with this.


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
This isn't content anyone asked for but it's content I thought of.

I started a third playthrough of Three Houses tonight and needed a name for Byleth. I've been using names from all the half-finished conlangs I have laying around and ended up doing the same again, reusing a name that I gave to an RP character elsewhere, and that got me thinking about what house all of my characters would choose if they played the game. I feel like it's not something anyone else would be interested in since it's so self indulgent and silly and I almost feel like at this point I'm too disconnected from my OCs to say for sure but I thought it was fun to think about so I'm going to post it anyway.

Granya would probably pick Golden Deer. Blue Lions would appeal to her sense of morality but she would identify more with Deer being a bunch of (seemingly) easygoing, good-natured, and quirky merchants and peasants (well, the majority of their students are still nobles, but still). It never became relevant in our campaign so I never really came to a decision on what her sexuality was or what she would look for in a partner so I don't know who she would consider S supporting.

Umeko wouldn't play Fire Emblem. After getting browbeaten by Subaru, Ran, and Ringo into trying it, she would pick Black Eagles as seemingly the default route. She would become progressively more terrified by the game's events and possibly give up after chapter 8 or chapter 9. If she made it to chapter 11, there's a good chance she would have missed the condition for the route split, and even if she had she would find both Edelgard and Rhea too scary to make a choice and would finally give Subaru her Switch back and stop playing.

Subaru would be torn between Black Eagles being the gay rights house and Golden Deer being the meme house. Would probably lean towards the Golden Deer because they're the more lighthearted crowd. Would not be disappointed by Claude embracing his inner shonen anime hero and overcoming evil with the power of friendship and memes at the end of Verdant Wind. Given how much she loves Umeko being shy and moe I think she'd probably like Bernadetta and be a little disappointed she couldn't marry her as F!Byleth. My personality isn't anything like Subaru's but apparently we have basically the exact same taste and it's making me wonder if I'm just basing this off my own personal bias.

Ran is gay and wants to watch the world burn. Automatic Black Eagles Edelgard picker. Sees Hubert as a kindred spirit, but given her crush on Subaru might rather marry someone more bubbly and less literally (figuratively) dracula, but all of the normal F/F options in Three Houses are extremely depressed and F!Byleth can't marry Annette who is maybe the bubbliest character (although post-timeskip she gets kind of depressed too since Blue Lions lol). So she probably S supports Edelgard, Hubert, or since she does just want to watch the world burn maybe Sothis. She lowkey likes both Edelgard and Rhea more as characters on the routes that go against them because she thinks it's cool how vicious they are.

Yasuko wouldn't play Fire Emblem and wouldn't let her friends make her play it. Also she was the least developed of the main cast as a character so I don't know who and what she would like. Watching Ran play through Black Eagles she might have a natural bias against Edelgard because her (Yasuko's) family is rich as fuck.

Ringo plays Fire Emblem partly because she's a huge RPG addict and partly for the fanservice (favorite/kindred spirit characters; Nina and Soleil from Fates). Is a big enough shitposter and enough of a problematically stereotypical sex-crazed bi girl probably bi for Claude enough to pick Golden Deer and probably S supports him. Possibly enough of a fujo to be a bit annoyed that M!Byleth can't marry Claude even though she wasn't going to play as M!Byleth anyway. Her Felix/Sylvain doujin will be available at Winter Comiket this year. Canonically she would be 18 now so it's definitely an R-18 doujin too.

(Seriously though in hindsight I'm not sure what exactly I was thinking writing Ringo. I feel like Ran was also kind of a stereotype, but I feel less uncomfortable about how I wrote her as a crazy lesbian because I eventually did figure her out as a character with how her creepy persona is just partly her having a quirky sense of humor and partly a defensive mechanism for her because she has trouble connecting to other people. Actually I'm not sure sure how much sense that makes when that's the thing that drives people away from her but whatever.)

Shiori is more into PC (and mobile, since her secret guilty pleasure is cute girl gacha games) gaming than console and prefers FPSes and the like to RPGs/strategy, but if Ringo talking about it got her interested enough she would definitely have been reading all the pre-release info and might (I think most people did?) assume Blue Lions are Order. She wouldn't like the boar prince though if she got to know him (in common with a certain other tsundere), and would like Edelgard for how no-nonsense she is and how she doesn't take bullshit, so would maybe lean Black Eagles. Edelgard might be too much of a rabble-rouser for her though, so she's a semi-reluctant Church route picker. Too closeted to admit it to her offline friends but she has a fetish for twintail girls and would be salty F!Byleth can't marry Hilda. Spent real money on orbs to pull Hilda in FEH; she's her lead unit and Summoner S support now.


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Based on me and Turb's headcanon/in-joke about Lute and Knoll from Sacred Stones being Lysithea's parents. Also I recommend you read the first two paragraphs in Jeralt's voice.

On the Setting Star's Eve

As the Red Wolf Moon becomes the Ethereal Moon and the Blue Sea Star vanishes again into the darkness of the heavens for the winter, the people of Fódlan, in times long past, feared that the disappearance of the Goddess' home from their sight signaled the weakening of Her protection. Fearful of the long nights to come and the evil lurking in them, they marked the moon's end with revelry and, hoping to trick malevolent spirits into passing them by, decorated their houses and their shops and dressed themselves in ghastly costumes on the Setting Star's Eve.

In all of Fódlan, it is said that the Setting Star's Eve festival in Derdriu, capital of the Leicester Alliance, was grander than any other, even those held in Enbarr and Fhirdiad...

Derdriu, Duchy of Riegan, Leicester
Red Wolf 30th, 1172

Dusk settling over Derdriu's old town and the tall masts of ships in the harbor swaying in the cold breeze billowing off the Sea of Sreng, Lute grasped her daughter's hand as they strolled along the market street packed with street vendors and throngs of costumed festival-goers. The shops and stalls were decorated top-to-bottom with jack-o'-lanterns and woven webs and plaster bones, and smoke rose into the evening sky from bonfires lit in the larger plazas.

Nominally, her and Knoll's reason for taking leave of Ordelia territory had been the meeting of the Alliance Roundtable to begin in a little over a week, but this had been the reason she had insisted on making a family trip out of her business in Derdriu. It had been many years since she last had the opportunity to visit the city on the Setting Star's Eve, and she had greatly missed the extravagance of the adorably spooky decorations and incredible variety of food and wares for sale in the markets, with vendors coming from as far away as Almyra and Sreng. Lysithea was old enough to truly appreciate it now, so to be able to share it with her was a bonus as well. She had even prepared matching costumes, witch's hats and artistically tattered robes, for the two of them to wear.

She felt Lysithea tug on her cloak. "Mom, mom."

Stopping and turning around, she saw her daughter pouting and pointing at a stall serving pheasant sandwiches. She suddenly realized that in her excitement and curiosity she had gone from stall to stall, surveying the wares in detail and asking each proprietor a barrage of technical questions about their dish or craft, all while neglecting to actually buy any of them. By now she was quite hungry, and she could only imagine Lysithea was as well.

"Oh. Of course. It's been some time since we ate, hasn't it?". The line for this vendor was mercifully short, and it took only a few minutes before it was their turn to order. She peered at the pounded slices of pheasant frying in the pan, but it appeared to be utterly typical Derdriu-style pheasant. Given that, she skipped the questioning and simply asked for two sandwiches.

"With extra berry sauce, mom", Lysithea added, tugging on her clothing again. Lute peered over the stall's counter; berry sauce wasn't typical in the traditional Derdriu-style preparation. Fortunately for them, this vendor appeared to nevertheless have a jar on hand.

"With extra berry sauce", Lute repeated. A few moments later, the proprietor handed her the sandwiches, half-wrapped in paper, and she paid, handing one to Lysithea in turn before they started walking again. Seeing her about to take a huge bite out of it, Lute stopped her.

"It's quite hot", she said, kneeling down and blowing on Lysithea's sandwich. Her daughter frowned, clearly embarrassed, as she stood up again. "It wouldn't be good if you burned yourself, you know?".

"I-I know that. Of course it's hot. And I could blow on it myself, mom. Hmph!". Pouting some more, she did just that, as if mainly to prove her point, and then took a small bite as they started walking again.

"Ok", Lute said, unfazed. The thought crossed her mind that, given how she acted now, Lysithea's behavior would likely be both unbearable and utterly fascinating by the time she was a teenager. She bit in to her own sandwich as they walked, glancing around at various stalls and making mental notes of more she wanted to come back to.

"After this I will buy some sweets", she stated after they spent a few minutes quietly strolling again. "Maybe poppyseed donuts. I saw a stall that had a very pleasant looking preparation of them."

She glanced at her daughter's face. Seeing her eyes light up at her mention of buying sweets, she smiled and started humming to herself.

Lysithea went to take a bite of her donut, pausing just before taking a bite when she noticed her mother staring at her. Like the sandwich earlier, it was piping hot, just out of the fryer. She blew on it, not wanting Lute, who by all accounts was the strangest adult – no, strangest person – she knew, to embarrass her yet again with her eccentricities, and took a nibble.

Her mouth curled into a little frown. It wasn't bad, but she had expected it to be sweeter, and the slightly gritty texture of the poppyseed filling didn't make her much more enthusiastic about it. Still, given it was, she had decided, her mission in life to sample every type of sweet known to Fódlan, she felt satisfied for having tried it. She wondered if it was one of those 'mature' flavors that only adults fully understood.

She finished the donut, her craving for sweets not quite satisfied despite her feeling, after a whole sandwich and a whole donut on top of that, completely full. She cursed herself for being too prideful to accept her mother's suggestion of getting a single donut to share.

They stopped in front of another stall and Lute set about studying each and every trinket on display. Lysithea looked at them herself, the single eye-like design on some of the pendants suddenly unnerving her.

"This is cute", Lute said, picking up one of the creepy pendants. "It reminds me of a Mogall. What sort of meaning is attached to this design?".

"Ah, in Almyra, we call it nazar. It is said it wards off evil", the stall-keeper replied, and her mother listened intently as he answered her follow-up question about the artisanship behind the pendants. After their conversation, she reached into her coin purse and handed over a few silver pieces before draping the pendant around her neck, and they began walking again.

"Mom... W-What's a Mogall...?". She knew for sure she would regret this, but she just couldn't fathom how something that her mother likened to that pendant could be considered cute, and her curiosity got the better of her.

"It's a kind of monster spawned from the demon king", Lute answered matter-of-factly, as if that sentence alone wasn't frightening. "It has a round body like a single giant eyeball--", it just kept getting worse. "--and countless tentacles trailing behind it that are used for absorbing food. They tend to attack their prey with arcane magic". Lysithea gulped. It took a moment, but Lute noticed her worry.

"It's fine. Their natural range doesn't include anywhere in Fódlan. You'll never meet one, unless you seek it out yourself" she said, ruffling Lysithea's hair. That put her at ease a little, and she nodded. "...Ok."

They paused in front of a building, its facade especially lavish in its decorations. A young woman, cheerful looking in a way that was incongruous with her face, painted an eerie gray with darker gray scales painted on her cheeks, and her pitch-black robes, stood by the front door, and a handwritten sign hung above it reading University of Derdriu drama club fundraiser HAUNTED HOUSE, the last two words heavily emphasized with larger capital lettering.

"Good evening!", she chirped, glancing at them and pulling her cloak closer around her as a gust of wind blew down the street. Lysithea grabbed at her hat, fearful the wind might blow it off her head. "One adult and one child would be eight silver pieces."

Lysithea tugged on her mother's hand and Lute stopped in the middle of taking the coins from her pouch to look over at her. "Is something wrong Lysithea? It probably won't be too scary."

"I-I'm not scared, mom...", she replied unconvincingly. Lute kept her eyes on her, a slightly concerned look on her face, but when she didn't admit her fear went back to fishing the silver pieces out and handing them to the attendant. "Thank you! Have fun!", the woman said, opening the door and greeting the next person in line as Lysithea steeled herself, Lute leading her through into the front hall.

Even with the last bit of evening light streaming in through the door, it was dark inside with only a few candles to illuminate the room, and that small amount of light reflected oddly off of shattered mirrors lining the walls. The floorboards creaked loudly as they walked, and Lysithea jumped as she heard the door slam behind them and the handful of other customers who had followed them in. She clung to Lute as they turned the corner.

Faintly, a screeching, out-of-tune violin began to play. Entering the parlor, they found a table perfectly set for an extravagant dinner, a large roast pheasant as its centerpiece surrounded by bowls of sides and neat place-settings.

The chairs, however, as they soon saw, were strewn around overturned on the floor. In the flickering candlelight, it became apparent the tablecloth was stained red. Perhaps from the mostly empty bottle of wine sitting on it, or...

The violin grew louder, though it still had no apparent source.

Lysithea shivered, glancing from side to side. She had to find the violin, but she didn't dare step away from her mother.

They reached the door at the other end of the parlor and, seemingly on its own, it swung open for them. The music was growing louder still as they passed through it and turned on to a long, dimly-lit corridor, doors on either side barred with wood. As they walked further, percussion was added to the mysterious violin.

They walked the length of the corridor, finding a door on their right hanging open, a steep, narrow staircase beyond it. By now, the source of the 'percussion' they heard had become apparent.

Someone, it seemed, was behind the doors they had passed by, beating on them with their fists.

The stairs groaned as Lute set foot on them ahead of her. Lysithea hesitated, but, taking a deep breath, forced herself to follow. The staircase felt a little unsteady as they ascended it, the boards that creaked and moaned with each step seeming like they could collapse at any moment. It felt like an eternity before they reached the top of the steps, opening up on to another corridor.

The music, and the tortured beating coming from behind the doors, had faded by now.

A single door was open, and they walked through it, finding themselves in a an odd room lined with clothing racks, heavy cloaks hanging on them. Lysithea heard a gust of wind blow through the room, rustling the cloaks.

At first she saw it out of the corner of eye. When she dared look clearly, she saw the cloaks moving as if they had a mind of their own, seeming to creep closer to them.

Lysithea had finally seen enough, shutting her eyes tight and clinging closer to her mother. The rest of the haunted house, up and down staircases, around corners and through corridors, passed as a blur of noises, and she whispered to herself all the way, reminding herself it wasn't real.

Eventually, they stopped, and she dared to open her eyes again, just to peek out and see if they were safe now.

Instead, she saw a figure, its grim face, bearded and scarred, illuminated in the candlelight.

As if he had walked straight out of a church fresco depicting the Battle of Tailtean, the Fell King Nemesis himself rose from a coffin in front of her. Her eyes went wide and she finally broke down completely, letting out a scream.

"Stand back, all of you!", she heard someone shout. Her head snapped to look at the direction it came from, and she saw a women standing there. She didn't recognize her as one of the others who had been following behind them. A sword glinted in the faint light as she drew it. "Go! Don't worry for me or look back!".

They walked swiftly, towards brighter lights ahead, Lute pulling her along behind her. Against her better judgement, Lysithea glanced back over her shoulder as they went, seeing the woman cross swords with Nemesis before they turned a corner into a better lit room and at long last emerged from the building through a back door.

The sky was almost completely dark by now. Lysithea fell to her knees, trying desperately to catch her breath.

"Hmm. It was really quite well done, even though it was easy to see how they did most of the tricks", Lute said. "The scene with the actors portraying Nemesis and Seiros was quite creative and well executed. I suppose you would expect that from a drama club."

"Ah, what did you think of it, Lysithea?", she asked. Not hearing any response besides panting, she looked behind her, seeing her daughter, a terrified look on her face, kneeling on the cobblestone pavement. Realization dawned on her and she suddenly felt guilty. Crouching down as well, she laid her hand on Lysithea's shoulder.

"So it really was too scary for you, wasn't it?". Lysithea nodded, on the verge of tears. "...Meanie! Meanie! You're so mean to me, mom! I-I... I wanted to say I was scared, but...". Seeing her like this, she felt awful. Knoll was always better with children than she was...

Lute wrapped her arms around Lysithea. "It's ok. I was there with you the whole time. Nothing's going to hurt you...". She ruffled her hair again. "And I'm sorry. I mean it. Ok?". Lysithea nodded, still sniffling. "You should say so if you're scared. Don't be afraid to". Another nod. She started humming a little, and Lysithea finally started to calm down some.

She stood up after a little while, stretching her arms. "How about some more sweets. That would make it up to you, right?".

"Mmhm...", Lysithea nodded a third time. "But... I'm full."

"Oh. Well in that case--", she paused for a moment, thinking. "--How about a stuffed animal?". She saw her daughter's eyes light up and grabbed her hand again as they started walking.

"You know, I think I saw one of the Almyran vendors selling them. He said that in Almyra they're called 'Nader bears'... I'm not sure how they expect to sell them in Fódlan calling them that. It's rather odd, really. Oh, I suppose that might not mean very much to you though...".

Knoll sighed. It had been a long day, meeting with students and faculty at the university and, although he certainly enjoyed his work, he was thoroughly exhausted. The sun's light was completely gone from the sky now, the city lit only by flickering lamps and the plethora of holiday jack-o'-lanterns.

Of course, it was just his typical luck that he had gotten lost after leaving and hadn't been able to find the place where he and Lute had decided to meet up. Even as little as he visited Derdriu, he should really have a better grasp of its geography by now. At this rate it would be better to return to the palace – Duke Riegan had been quite generous in allowing them the guest wing of his city residence – otherwise he might wander all night looking for her and Lysithea.

"Dad, dad!", he heard someone yell. Looking around, he was relieved to see Lysithea dashing towards him across the plaza, Lute trailing behind looking characteristically nonchalant. He knelt down as she closed the distance between them and gave her a hug. "How have you been Lysithea?", he asked, and she frowned. "...Mom made me go through a haunted house with her. But I decided to forgive her, because she bought me a teddy bear."

He laughed a little, noticing Lute holding the bear under her arm. "...Well, it wouldn't be good if you couldn't forgive your mother."

"It didn't seem particularly scary to me. But the results weren't as I expected", Lute chimed in.

Knoll shook his head as he stood up. "Lute... Your idea of what's frightening and what isn't is...".

"I apologized and bought her a bear. She forgave me. We're good now". Lute leaned in and gave him a quick kiss.

"Well, I suppose if it worked out then it's fine."

"I'm glad we agree."

Knoll let out a sigh and smiled. "You never change, Lute."

"Maybe", she replied. "Say. There's somewhere else we should go before we return for the night."

The three of them walked north and, passing through the gates of the old town, began to climb the street that lead uptown, the crisp air of the late autumn night around them as they turned on to a side street that soon became a staircase cut in to the rocky hills north of the port. In spite of Lysithea's protests they continued until at last they reached the overlook, gazing out over the illuminated city floating on the water below them.

"It was worth the climb, wasn't it?", Lute asked, glancing at Lysithea looking out in awe. She responded with an emphatic nod before turning to take in the view again.

"...I'm hungry again though."

"I'll buy you more sweets then. But first we'll need to walk back down". Lysithea's beaming expression changed to a pout.

"...I suppose one of us can carry you if you're that tired out."


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Edelgard sees snow for the first time. I had this idea out of the blue while listening to wintery music and I just had to write it. Spoilers for the Blue Lions route up to the end of part one.

Snow Day
Dimitri stirred, rubbing his eyes as he sat up and glanced around the room. A faint flame was still visible over the embers from last night in the fireplace, but Edelgard was nowhere to be seen, the sheets and blankets next to his empty and rumpled.

It wasn't so often that he had the chance to see her, and when Volkhard had offered him and his father the guest rooms at his villa outside Fhirdiad in lieu of them making the trip back to the castle late at night, Dimitri had insisted he wanted to keep playing with Edelgard. When Lambert had finally put his foot down and told him it was time to sleep, he now insisted, despite his embarrassment and Edelgard's initially annoyed response, that he would rather sleep on the floor in her room than in a guest room.

His father and Volkhard had finally relented, but only on the condition that the two of them instead sleep in this parlor, after which Edelgard, who had refrained from weighing in to back up either his insistence that she wanted to sleep together too or her uncle's that she did not, begrudgingly agreed to it. Before they both nodded off they had spent the time quietly talking, Edelgard mainly complaining about how cold Faerghus was time of year.

He stood up and stretched his arms, not bothering to fold up his sheets either. It was quite early this Sunday morning, although late enough that the sun was already out, and it seemed like he and Edelgard were the only people awake in the house. It didn't take much wandering before he saw where she had gone. Still in her pajamas, she was standing by a window, looking awe-struck as she pressed her face up against it.

"...El?". She turned to look at him. "Oh, it's you. Good morning, Dimitri."

"Is something wrong outside El? What's going on?".

She looked a little embarrassed. "No, it's nothing."

Dimitri glanced outside. Overnight, the world outside had been covered in a blanket of snow. It seemed quite deep, as hard as it was to judge just by peering at it from inside, and still falling lightly. Could she...?

"Uh... Umm... Could it be you've never seen snow before El?".

"I said it's nothing, Dimitri! Hmph!". She turned away from him in a huff. "But...", her expression softened and she stole a glance out the window again. "In Enbarr it's quite warm. Even in the winter it only rains, most of the time. I saw it once or twice but--", she searched for how to describe it. "--just a tiny bit. Like a bit of sugar on a cake. So... I've heard of it, but this is the first time I've seen it like this."

"I see... Hey--". Dimitri paused and she looked at him again. "--Do you want to go out and play?".

"Oh, I couldn't. Uncle worries. He gets upset sometimes when I go outside without asking him first."

"Come on, El... No one else is up, and maybe we can come back in before they do get up! Don't you want to?".

"I do want to, yes, but...". Dimitri's eyes face lit up as she answered.

"Ok, go put on something warm!". Dimitri hurried back to the parlor to find his clothes from yesterday.

"Sshh, Dimitri! If we're sneaking out then--", she tried to warn him, but he didn't listen as he ran off. She sighed, sneaking up the stairs to her bedroom. After changing into warm clothes and rummaging for the new coat Volkhard had bought for her in Arianrhod when they first arrived in Faerghus, she descended the stairs again quietly and, satisfied that no one had heard her, walked to the foyer.

As soon as he saw her, Dimitri went to open the door, but she shushed him again. Tiptoeing closer, she slipped her boots on and slowly opened the door herself, careful to make as little noise as possible. She shivered as the cold air hit and wordlessly ushered Dimitri through before exiting herself, closing the door behind them.

The awe-struck look from before returned to Edelgard's face as they stepped out from under the portico and their boots sank into the deep snow, her eyes and mouth going wide. She looked up at the sky before holding her hands out, then looked down again and watched the snowflakes fall on her mittens, before pulling one off and kneeling on the ground, grabbing a handful of snow and flinching at how cold it felt on her skin. She quickly let it fall through her fingers and slipped the mitten back on.

She dashed through the snow into the middle of the lawn and turned around, looking back at the villa. Its roof was covered as well, as were the trees around the house. She tried to twirl around, but the depth made it difficult and she tripped, screaming as she fell and landing softly in the snow.

"El, El, are you alright?", Dimitri asked, looking down at her with a concerned look on his face.

"...Yeah, I'm fine". She watched as Dimitri's face brightened up again and, smiling, he let himself fall backwards into the snow himself. Getting up, she saw him sweep his arms and legs back and forth, making the form of an angel in the snow, and couldn't help but laugh.

Dimitri stopped, sitting up in the impression he'd made, and started giggling as well. "You try too!", he said through his laughter.

"Alright, alright". She took a deep breath and, copying him, fell backwards and swept her arms, before standing up again to survey her work.

"Hey, hey, do you want to see something else El?", he asked. She looked away from her snow angel to see Dimitri forming a ball out of snow in his hands. "Sure!", she replied. He grinned, raising his hand while still holding the snowball. "Ok! Catch!".

He threw it and Edelgard's eyes went wide as it flew towards her face at high speed. Reflexively she raised her hands in front of her face just before it slammed in to her and fell apart. She lowered her hands, glaring at Dimitri. "Hey! Don't throw it so hard! Dummy!".

"But I tried to throw it slow!", he protested. "I just can't help it. My stupid Crest...".

"Alright, I'll get you back then! It's on!", she shouted at him, grinning with a glint in her eyes as she grabbed a handful of snow herself and rolled it into a ball, tossing it as hard as he could. It hit him square in the chest and made him stumble back a step. "El! Come on, it's not fair if you try to throw it like that!".

She pointed her finger at him across the snow-covered lawn. "I hereby declare war on you, Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd! In war you just play to win no matter what!".

Dimitri burst out laughing. "Ok, then I'll play to win too!". The two of them began tossing a flurry of snowballs at each other, most of them missing as they ran around, attempting to snipe each other from behind trees and giggling all the way.

"Edelgard! Edelgard!". Standing in front of the portico, she froze, arm in mid-swing just as she was about to let yet another snowball fly, upon hearing her uncle's voice inside the house. She gulped, slowly turning her head, and saw him standing in the front door.

"...Uncle, I--", she started. "--...Oh, it's all Dimitri's fault! It was his idea!".

"You wanted to too El!", Dimitri yelled, throwing the snowball in his own hands and frowning as Edelgard deftly dodged it.

"You said we'd be back inside before anyone woke up!", she fired back, tossing her snowball at him.

"...Yeah, but you were having too much fun to go inside too, weren't you?!".

Volkhard sighed. "El, you'll miss breakfast", he began, exasperated. "You must be starving by now with how energetic you seem to have been this morning. Come now, I'm not going to scold you just for playing on the lawn. I've put on a pot of the bergamot you like too."

"Hmph, fine", she said, finally giving in and walking towards the house. Dimitri followed behind, and she looked over her shoulder, smiling at him from the portico. "Thanks, Dimitri. For showing me how to play in snow, I mean."

"Oh, it's not really anything special like that, but you're welcome". She rolled her eyes. "Just take the compliment, ok? I mean...--", she twiddled her fingers. "--I just like playing with you, so...".

Dimitri smiled warmly. "Mhm! I like playing with you too... You know...--", he paused, and Edelgard waited for him to finish. "Even if you have to go back home someday... Let's promise to still be friends. Ok, El?".

Edelgard nodded.

"I promise, Dimitri."


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Part 1/15 of my attempt to write short stories with Bernadetta and all of the characters she supports with, counting down to her birthday. This was supposed to be fluffier but ended up being a little sad, I guess because I've been in no mood to write fluff. Hopefully the next one will be more upbeat, although I'm not sure if I'm going to able to keep this up for two weeks so I can't promise I'll actually get to everything.

Starting out with Edelgard and following (mostly) the order they're listed in the support gallery. I'm still really ambivalent about Edelgard and especially given that I'm not sure she's in character here, but I always find that writing a character helps me appreciate them a bit more. Minor spoilers for the Crimson Flower route of Fire Emblem: Three Houses up to Chapter 16, but doesn't spoil any major plot points.

Rereading this to spell check it and do some minor editing I realized I somehow forgot that Byleth's hair turns green and made an offhand mention of it being teal. Glad I caught that.

With one hand, Bernadetta balanced the heavy basket on her knee as she opened the door with her other, starting up the stairs that led to the second floor dormitories.

She was almost done with her monastery duties for the day; at the war council meeting, Hubert had tasked her with the rather mundane job of collecting the day's paper garbage to be burned. Usually this wasn't the sort of job handled by an Imperial general, but circumstances had left everyone on edge after it became evident that information about troop movements had been leaked, meaning the security of the monastery had been compromised. The speculation had gotten ugly, with the loyalties of one officer in particular – what was her name, again? Mercedes or something like that? – who had apparently been raised in Faerghus – and was quite devout, to boot – being called in to question by some before Edelgard had put her foot down, insisting that neither nationality nor faith were reason enough alone to suspect them of espionage.

Given all that, it was surprisingly nerve-wracking, even if she was flattered that someone like Hubert entrusted her with it. That was a strange thing to think now that she thought it, being flattered that she'd been told to run around gathering people's trash.

As she passed the first door, she glanced inside. Who had that room belonged to? It was a little eerie to look inside it. Though much of whatever remained in the dorm rooms once occupied by students who they now found on the opposite side of the war had been taken and put to other uses, the blue carpet, a bit worse for wear, was still there, marking the room's former resident as being a Blue Lion.

Two more doors hung ajar, furniture gone but golden carpet remaining, and she passed them by before arriving at a room she knew was still in use. Again balancing her basket, she rapped on the door. "...Do you have any paper, Lady Edelgard? ...Oh, I mean, that you're throwing away. Paper garbage."

"Yes, just a moment", she answered. Bernadetta heard the shuffle of papers inside, and then Edelgard seemed to pause. Evidently making up her mind about whether to throw something out, she shuffled the papers around again before opening the door, placing her small stack in the basket. At this rate, one basket might not be enough for everything.

"Thank you. It's been a busy day so i suppose there's quite a few documents to burn."

Bernadetta shook her head. "It's fine. I'm just doing my part, you know?". One more time she balanced the basket on her knee, reaching for the door. "Oh, no, I can get it Bernade--".

As Edelgard spoke, Bernadetta felt herself go off balance just a tiny bit. She caught it, but as she did her hand slipped, and the basket, full of sensitive documents, tumbled to the floor.

She winced, shouting in frustration, and got down on her knees, frantically grasping at pieces of paper. "...Aaagh! Oh no, oh no, oooh--".

"...Calm down, Bernadetta. It's not the end of the world". Edelgard cut her off, sighing as she knelt down herself and started to help her gather up everything that had spilled out of the basket.

Bernadetta took a deep breath. "...Yeah. You're right. Ok, I can still do this."

Placing the handful of documents she had already picked up back in the basket, she went back to gathering more. At the sight of one of the papers, however, she paused. It clearly wasn't a report from the front or an administrative document, but instead appeared to be, of all things, a painting of their former professor, now the Empire's tactician, not to mention one of Edelgard's closest confidants. She picked it up, examining it and wondering why anyone would throw it away. Evident as it was that it was the work of a relative novice, she wouldn't describe it as bad by any means.

"Huh... A little flat, but overall it's pretty good. A little perspective instead of being straight on and some work on the shading and it could really shine". She glanced over at Edelgard. "I wonder who drew th--".

She froze, her eyes going wide, as she saw the look on Edelgard's face, embarrassed – which was an emotion she had never seen from Edelgard before – and a bit annoyed, and put it together.

"--...I'm sorry! I get it, I'll forget I ever saw and I'll burn it for you and then I'll burn my memory I guess and then--".

Edelgard sighed again. "...No, it's alright Bernadetta. Believe me, it's less embarrassing than having the subject of the painting see it. It's just...". She paused. "Say, you paint, do you not? As bad as this attempt was I would still like to try again, even if I don't have the free time to practice much, and I think your advice would be helpful."

"Me...? Oh, I'm not that good, really. There are people way better at painting than me, Lady Edelgard, even here at the monastery I'm sure. You should try asking someone else first...".

She shook her head. "I'm asking you first. In fact, from what I've heard you're quite the talented painter. I really would like to hear your thoughts. Please, when you're done with your work, come over". Edelgard put the last few papers she had gathered up in the basket and took the painting back from Bernadetta. "And I suppose I won't throw this out after all, if you really believe it shows potential."

Bernadetta picked up the basket. "Umm... Well, if you insist I guess I have to, don't I?".

"Please, don't think of it like that either."

"Oh, umm, ok, I'll try?". Edelgard opened her mouth to say something, but just sighed, letting her go.

Finishing her rounds of the dormitory and walking back down the stairs, Bernadetta stepped out into the cool spring evening air. A few more stops remained, and mercifully the remaining paper just barely fit in a single basket as she set off to burn it. Returning to her room, she thought about Edelgard's request, and decided that it wouldn't hurt to at least see if there was anything she could give pointers on. Passing by her door, she again climbed the steps to the second floor dorms and rapped on Edelgard's door.

"Ah, Bernadetta", she said as she opened it. "I wasn't sure you would come."

Bernadetta stepped inside. "Yeah... I mean, I'll help you if I can, but...".

Edelgard opened a drawer in her desk, retrieving a little-used palette, a set of brushes, and a few pieces of paper, laying one down as she took a seat and setting the others aside. She took a small bottle of paint from a shelf and began to mix colors, before making a hesitant first brushstroke on the page. Bernadetta stood uncomfortably next to her, watching as she worked.

"...I know I asked you to help, Bernadetta, but please, if you wouldn't mind, could you not watch so closely? I'll get... Self-conscious."

"O-Oh... I'm sorry. I'll, uh... Watch distantly then". She took a few steps away.

"Thank you. Sorry, I didn't mean to sound so harsh", she said, pausing before she continued speaking. "You know, you don't have to be so uncritical on my account. When you praised my painting earlier, I mean. I would like to hear what you really thought of it."

"I did tell you what I really thought of it. Though if I'd realized what I was saying before it just tumbled out of my mouth like that I wouldn't have said anything... I'm sorry, you're just... Still a little scary to me. And I mean, you're the Emperor, after all...".

"I think of you as a friend, Bernadetta, not just as a subject or a soldier. And I want you to think of me as a friend too, not just the Emperor". She paused again, sketching. "And really, it wasn't awful?".

"...Really. ...I guess it's easy to see the flaws in something you painted yourself. I always think my paintings are awful too, even when people tell me they like them."

"Hmm... It's easy to see others as being stronger than yourself sometimes, isn't? You can't know what sort of doubts they have inside... Say, how long have you been painting for?".

"Oh, as long as I can remember. I had a lot of time to just paint and write while I was holed up in my room. I suppose it helped me get better at it. I did it a lot. What about you?".

Edelgard dipped a brush in the pool of blue paint she had mixed. "I've never really had the time or opportunity for such things. Even now there are only a few spare moments in which I can indulge in hobbies. Maybe someday when the war is over I'll take it up more seriously."

"I see", Bernadetta replied, nodding. She glanced closer at the painting, the form of the Professor's face starting to take shape, and meekly gave a few pointers before stepping away again as Edelgard had requested.

"You really care about Professor Eisner, huh? Somehow I could really feel that when I looked at the other painting."

Edelgard looked up from the painting abruptly. "About Byle--... Me?! I, well, I mea--". She glanced down again. "...Ah, I smudged it now."

Bernadetta giggled, trying to stifle it in fear of what Edelgard's reaction might be, but feeling relieved as she seemed to take it in stride. "It's not the end of the world, La-- ...Edelgard."


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Part 2/15 is Hubert. Lords and retainers are listed first in the support gallery, and as a Black Eagle Bernadetta obviously has supports with the house leader and her retainer, so two of the like three playable characters I'm probably the most ambivalent about (shoutouts to Gilbert!) are first. This one is set pre-timeskip and has no real spoilers in it.

Bernadetta is actually surprisingly hard for me to write, I'm finding. I feel like she's coming across about right here but that there's... Not much depth to my portrayal of her, I guess? Part of that is probably just because I'm kind of forcing myself to write, which probably isn't something ends well, and that I just haven't been feeling well most days lately, although another part might be that yesterday I read a pretty good Bernadetta fic that I think captured her character better than I can.

"...The wyvern stables are right over this way", Cyril said, looking over his shoulder at Bernadetta and Hubert and gesturing for them to follow. Bernadetta took a deep breath. "A-Alright, yeah...". The thought of riding on a wyvern was frightening enough, but what was even worse was being stuck with Hubert as her partner for flight lessons. But, the Professor and Edelgard had recommended both of them take the lessons, and so there wasn't much she could do about it.

They reached the stables, and she saw a handler leading one of the creatures by the reins. As they got closer, it sank in just how big it was; even just one of its legs was at least as big as she was, and its head, armored in bands of green scales and with yellow eyes set deeply in it, was about as long as her torso. As massive and powerful as it looked though, its mannerisms were surprisingly docile, and she almost could have called it cute in its own way.

"Quite a fearsome beast, isn't it?", Hubert said.

"They look a lot meaner than they really are", Cyril answered. He turned to look at Bernadetta again. "You're an archer, aren't ya? I've seen you training."

"Oh, me...? Yes... W-Why do you ask?".

"Compared to a pegasus, wyverns may be bigger and slower, but they're more steady too. It's hard ta shoot a bow from a pegasus, but on a wyvern it's not bad."

"You seem quite knowledgable, Cyril. Can you ride them?", Hubert asked. Cyril shook his head. "Only a little. I'm not good yet. But where I come from – in Almyra – the strongest warriors ride them and shoot from wyvern-back. And I do know about how to take care of them."

Bernadetta could hardly comprehend how a kid like him – he was shorter than she was, although she didn't know how old he was – could fearlessly carry on a conversation with Hubert. Even a lot of people who weren't like her, who weren't so useless that they crumbled into a big ball of anxiety and fear at anyone even remotely intimidating, seemed terrified of Hubert. Even Professor Eisner looked unnerved sometimes when dealing with them.

Well, at least if they kept up a conversation, she could fade into the background and take a breather here.

"That must be quite difficult for you", Hubert responded. "Many in Fódlan don't take kindly to outsiders or nonbelievers, as I'm sure you've no doubt experienced first-hand."

Cyril shrugged. "Nah, it's not so bad. Anyway, you two wanna get started? The instructor's here."

"Certainly", Hubert answered. It must have been her mind playing tricks on her, but Bernadetta could have sworn there was the tiniest bit of apprehension in his usually unflappable demeanor.

"Y-Yeah... May as well get it over with...".

With the flight instructor and Cyril giving them pointers, the former questioning them on if they'd rode a horse before – both her and Hubert had – to have at least some relevant experience, they clambered into their saddles, Bernadetta requiring a boost from the instructor to climb up and profusely apologizing to them for it as she took the reins.

She had seen the wyvern's seemingly docile attitude and thought of a snake or crocodile laying in wait for prey, but as she watched it up close, patting its head and guiding it around the courtyard on the ground, she began to understand why Cyril had described them as gentle and steady, and found herself surprisingly comfortable. Soon enough, after a few laps on the ground, she felt ready enough to, at the instructor's urging, spur the wyvern to spread its wings and take flight.

"Ok Bernie", she muttered under her breath. "You can do this. You can really do this...". She took a deep breath. "Right? Right. Ok."

She glanced off to the side, seeing Hubert still cautiously leading his mount to pace in front of the stables despite Cyril, as she faintly overheard, urging him in a slightly frustrated tone to go ahead and fly, to which he insisted that he simply wanted to master the fundamentals before moving on.

She tugged up on the reins, and with a powerful beat of its wings and an equal powerful kick her wyvern leapt from the ground, a deep burble leaving its mouth. Despite now hovering several meters in the air above the courtyard, it felt almost as steady as it did simply walking around, and she began to wonder what she had been so afraid of in the first place, even as she rose higher still, now perhaps fifteen meters up.

She had expected to panic and start feeling dizzy at such heights, but the twinge of anxiety she felt was... Manageable. Shockingly so, really. It would take more practice, but she could even imagine shooting her bow from its back just as Cyril had said.

"You're taking to this... Rather well, Bernadetta."

The anxiety suddenly felt quite a bit less manageable. She looked to her right, seeing Hubert now alongside her. Again she felt like it must be her imagination, but he looked a little pale. More so than usual.

"Y-You startled me...! Umm... It's less scary than I thought it would be... I-Is that a problem?".

"And here I thought you were afraid of everything."

She gulped. "...Umm, oh, uhh, I can, um, take it worse, i-if you'd like me to! I'm going to do that! Right now!".

"There is the Bernadetta von Varley I thought I knew". He smirked. "Hmph. Do what you like, I suppose. Just... Remember that your performance will, if it is sub-par, reflect poorly on the entire Black Eagle house as well."

"O-Ok, ok, I get it...! Just please don't hurt me i-if I mess up...!". She took another deep breath and returned to focusing on the basic flight maneuvers the instructor had told her to demonstrate. There was definitely no question though that something was up with Hubert. She performed sloppily enough, and accordingly braced herself for the verbal abuse she just knew the instructor had waiting for her when she finished up and landed, but all the while Hubert was lagging behind even her.

Clambering off the wyvern's back as it set its feet back down on the ground, she managed to fall flat on her face, groaning as she stumbled to her feet.

"Hmm... Your movements are too abrupt", the instructor said, walking up to her. "I think you must be gripping the reins too tightly and using more force than you should. Try to relax more, as well; he can sense when you're nervous and may assume you're in danger. Besides that, it was good work for your first time."

"...I-I'm sorry! I-I'll never mess it up again I-I swear...! Oooh, I'll just quit! That way I'll...!--". She stopped herself. What had they said to her...?

"That's... That's it...? W-Wait, what are you trying to pull?! D-Don't lie to me! B-Bernie can see right through you!". The instructor sighed, moving on to Hubert. The more critical way they pointed out Hubert's mistakes oddly made her feel better, although it still left her wondering if they had only been so gentle in their critique of her in an attempt to be nice.

She also noticed how Hubert's balance seemed off as he walked, and even as he stood still, and found herself, strangely enough, almost worrying about him. He was usually so composed and just so scary. Something absolutely had to be wrong.

With the lesson over, they began to walk back towards the dorms. She trailed behind, not speaking, until finally she worked up the courage to ask him.

"H-Hey... So... Umm... Oh...".

Maybe she hadn't quite worked up the courage.

Hubert stopped dead in his tracks, turning to face her, and she froze. "Yes, Bernadetta? Were you about to say something?". She stayed frozen, holding her breath, as if any little movement she made would prompt Hubert to attack her. He crossed his arms, again prompting her to go on. His voice seemed muffled to her, like she was underwater, and it felt like time had stopped.

Eventually, she couldn't hold her breath anymore, and gasped for air. Surprisingly, Hubert didn't try to kill her for it. Instead, he just rolled his eyes, giving up and turning around. Snapping out of it, she suddenly remembered what it was she was going to ask.

"Umm... HeyareyoufeelingokayHubert..?!". He turned around again. "Could you repeat that? Preferably slower this time."

Deep breaths, deep breaths. She averted her eyes, looking down at her feet. "Well... You're usually so... Calm... And collected. But--", she stopped, a thought occurring to her, and she blurted it out without thinking. "--...Could it be you're afraid of heights?".

Glancing briefly at Hubert's face, she could tell she was spot on and badly wished that she hadn't been. She opened her mouth, about to scream an apology and a promise to never say anything, to anyone, ever again, but was cut off before she could.

"...That may be the case. Everyone has their limits. I would say that you are not unique, but... Well, clearly you are. You are not, however, alone."

"Not... Alone? Wait, are you saying we're... Friends, are you? Are we friends? I never knew tha--".

"--I am not sure how you interpreted me, but I simply meant that you are not alone in having fears and troubles. Besides, even if I were one to cultivate friendships, I fail to see how we could be considered friends when you cannot even see me without losing any semblance of composure out of sheer terror."

"...Oh, yeah. You're right. Well, maybe I'll be a little less scared of you now that I know that even you have things you're afraid of?".

"I am utterly perplexed at how your mind works."



🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Part 3/15 is Ferdinand... And also technically a bit late. I thought this was the best one so far while I was writing it, but rereading and editing it I'm less sure. I usually don't like what I write though so I'm not sure that says anything about it. I wrote this on paper, which I almost never do and which was fun even though my handwriting is pretty bad until I had to transcribe it all. So i'm not sure I'll do that again.

Originally I was going to name all of these one-shots after song lyrics, but I didn't. I had an idea for what to name this one yesterday when I started it though, but then I forgot.

Bernadetta sighed, leaning back against the brick wall, and blew on her hands, condensation forming as she exhaled. This relatively cozy cranny sat between the terrace where the sauna stood and Professor Eisner's quarters and, while not as safe and comfortable to her as her own room, was a better place than most in the monastery to stop and think. And today, unfortunately, she had something she had to take care of – outside of her room – as much as she wished she could ignore it. And on such a chilly winter evening no less.

"Shouldn't he have come by here by now? Oooh, where could he be...?". Steeling herself as best she could, she skittered out of the safe-ish little nook and began looking for Ferdinand, avoiding eye contact with the people she passed as she she searched the monastery. Eventually she found him, admiring the view of the sunset from the bridge to the cathedral as he gazed out over the ravine.

"Hey... Uh, Ferdinand?". He turned to face her and she reflexively looked at her feet in response.

"Ah, Bernadetta! This is a bit of a surprise... Oh, no offense of course. Did you have something you needed help with?

She inhaled sharply. "It's... Edelgard and the Professor both told me I absolutely have to attend the ball this month...! I even asked Seteth if every student has to participate and he just said it's a great chance to relax, but how can I relex?! I don't even think he understood I was being made to do it...".

"...I see". Ferdinand ran a hand through his hair. "If you were to ask me, I would say that such an event is a wonderful opportunity, and that of course every student should attend. But I see why it would trouble you. It isn't fair to assume everyone can handle social events in the same way!".

He paused, seeingly thinking through this conundrum.

"Alright, I'll talk to Edelgard myself! I'm sure if she only heard about your situation she would understand!".

"...Hey, wait!". Ferdinand had already starting walking away. "The truth is... I actually kind of want to go. Things like that... I've heard about them and read about them, but in real life... I've never even been close to a ball. The people who go to balls are so glamorous and confident... People nothing like me. I don't know the first thing about how to dance, even."

"And you... You were so eager as soon as you heard about the ball and the White Heron Cup", she continued. "And you tried to help me by getting me out of my room more, so...". She took a gulp of air. "C-Could you please teach me how to dance, Ferdinand?!".

Bernadetta tried to ignore her raging nerves waiting for his answer. What if he said no? Oh, was it even worth trying to teach someone as awkward as her to dance? Well, Ferdinand wouldn't think like that... Or he'd teach her out of pity at least.

"You're sure you want me to? I would not want to bother you as I did before". She nodded.

"Then it would be my pleasure Bernadetta."

There were butterflies in her stomache as he told her when and where to meet him, apologizing for being unable to start immediately as he left for his lance instruction with Shamir. Returning to her room, she occupied the time mainly with nervous pacing until she decided it was finally time she went to the ballroom, slipping out her door and finding her way to it. Opening one of the great double doors just enough for her to slip through, as if she was sneaking in somewhere she shouldn't be, she entered. The room was brightly lit by flickering candles and Ferdinand was already there, examining something in his hands.

"Bernadetta, there you are!", he said as she approached, noticing her looking at the ornate object he was holding. "Ah, it's just a music box. Actually, it was a gift to me from Count Hevring. After all, to dance one must really music, but it would be quite selfish to request musicians just for our practice, would it not?".

"It's beautiful", she said. He set it on a table and opened it, a slow waltz playing, and offered her his hand.

"Would you dance with me, Miss Varley?". She just stood there, freezing up, and didn't reply at first. "Bernadetta?".

"O-Oh, umm", she snapped out of it. "W-What am I supposed to say? Is it rude not to accept every dance?".

"Not at all! A simple 'no, thank you' would be fine. Though some would find it rude if you declined a dance and then danced with another before the next round begins. Ah, and then--".

"--Oooh...! How many complicated rules are there?!", she shouted.

Ferdinand laughed. "This will be your first dance, will it not? Though you may be a noble, given that fact I'm sure no one will be offended if your etiquette isn't perfect. And if any are, I would personally inform them of your reasons."

"N-No, that would just... Be too embarrassing". She laughed, partly out of nervousness but partly at just how painfully, yet charmingly, earnest he was. She tried her best to steady her breathing and cleared her throat.

"...I would gladly dance with you, Ferdinand". She was surprised how calmly she was able to say it.

"First things first", he said, nodding. "Some basic steps. Step back with your left foot, back and to the side with your right. And then bring them together with your left. One, two, three". He demonstrated as he called out the steps. "And then reverse it. Step forward with your right foot, forward and to the side with your left, then bring your right foot back together. One, two, three. Now you try."

Her attempts were clumsy at first, Ferdinand telling her to be sure each iteration of each step travelled the same distance as the last, or that her feet were too close together in some parts or too far apart in others, or that in some places her heel should touch the ground and not her toe. But slowly she began to get the hang of it.

"And together now", Ferdinand said, laying his right hand on her back and taking her right hand in his left. She tensed up at his touch, almost stumbling over his feet before catching herself and matching his steps. They slowly danced with each other, and Bernadetta soon found she was was quietly humming the tune to herself as they did.

"Let's try another step", he said. "This one is simple enough. Just do the first half of the box step I showed you, then do it again but mirrored."

"Ok... Sounds easy", Bernadetta said. Ferdinand led her through it a few times before returning to the earlier step.

"Now, if we do this, turning a little each time, we can do a full circle". One, two, three. She nodded.

"Yeah. Lead the way". One, two, three. Three more times and they had gone all the way around.

She suddenly felt a bit self-conscious, her face feeling hot as she wondered if she really had the confidence to dance like this in a full ballroom, packed with all her fellow students. Still, just for now at least, this actually felt... Nice. Out of the blue she wondered if she had noticed before just how handsome Ferdinand was, and looked down at her feet to try and hide the blush she was sure was on her face.

"Hey, umm, Ferdinand? Thank you for doing this for me... To think that someone would go so far out of their way for little old Bernie, I...".

"Don't even mention it, Bernadetta! If I wouldn't go out of my way for a friend what kind of noble... Nay, what kind of person would I be? And besides that, it really was not much out of my way at all."

"Fr... Frie-- Aaah!", she yelped as he lifted her arm over his head and twirled her around.

He paused. "I'm sorry... You aren't hurt, are you?".

Bernadetta giggled and shook her head. "No... I just... Wasn't expecting that."
Last edited:


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
After I watched Weathering with You this idea popped in to my head while I was on my way home, so I hammered it out that night and cleaned it up some yesterday. Major spoilers and I don't know if anyone here besides Uniju and Nabber have watched the movie yet and Nabber wasn't interested in reading it so I don't know if anyone will but I figure I should post it anyway for completeness. I don't think it's very good though.

Box of Rain
It was dark when she stirred from a restless, uneasy sleep, sitting up in bed and rubbing her eyes. She yawned, contemplating in that brief, calm new moment whether or not to get up now or go back to sleep, what she might do today, what to eat for breakfast. The moment was soon washed away, as it always was, by all the things forgotten upon waking but soon remembered in the light of day. The weight of it all was heavy on her mind.

Her eyes adjusting to the light, she looked around. Hodaka and her brother were still sleeping soundly beside her. They were still safe and sound in the hotel room as the rain, wind, and snow battered the world outside and police combed the city for the three runaways who had slipped away in the storm. She caught a glimpse of the digital clock on a nightstand, reading 2:56 AM.

The naive thought that everything would be alright if they only stayed here ran through her mind, and she quickly dismissed it. The police and social services were still looking for them. And the rain still...--

Hina made up her mind in that moment. If she stayed any longer it would only get harder for her to pull herself away. If Hodaka or Nagi woke up they would try to stop her. She didn't think Hodaka would accept that this was something she had to do. It would also be harder to evade unwanted attention.

She crawled to the foot of the bed, careful not to disturb the people on either side of her. The macabre thought that it might've helped her slip away unnoticed had she thought to sleep nearer the edge of the bed rather than in the middle crossed her mind as she slipped off the bathrobe and tossed it aside where she had been laying. It was irrelevant at this point, but morbid curiosity got the better of her and she glanced down, looking over the left side of her body, now almost entirely engulfed by the water, shimmering and translucent, a few ripples spreading where tears had fallen on her chest. It was hard to tell, but she would guess it had spread since last night.

Her eyes caught on the ring as she got dressed. It was hard not to think of the implications of such a gift. Or more what they would be if they were older, perhaps? Or maybe she was thinking too deeply in to it?

Still, the thought was another thing trying to pull her backward with the mirage of another choice.

"Do you want the rain to stop?", she had asked him. The rain was her fault. It was her problem. And it would consume her no matter what anyway, so...

Pulling on her coat, she quietly opened the door, stepped in to the hallway, and made her way to the elevator, slipping out of the hotel and, as far as she could tell, avoiding much notice from the few staff at the desk at this hour. The rain was still falling. It was an hour and a half or so walk to 1-chome-35-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya.

It was eerie how quiet it was as she walked, the streets empty even for this hour. There was little to keep her company at first but the soft roar of falling raindrops, leaving her alone with her thoughts.

When something did appear, it was little more welcome than the loneliness had been. The fish had returned. At first it was just a few tiny ones leaping and spiraling through the air behind her, that she hadn't even noticed until having a strong, sudden feeling of unease that prompted her to reluctantly glance over her shoulder. Soon they became larger and more numerous, a funeral procession of sorts that drew the disbelieving glances of the scarce few people who dared remain outside rather than taking shelter from the downpour.

It was far too soon that she reached the abandoned building where she had first seen the pool of light from her mother's hospital room that day. The rains had not been kind to it, the facade visibly more worn than it was only a few days ago. The damage was apparent inside as well as she climbed the stairs and found rubble strewn about and gaps in the walls. Eventually it blocked her path and forced her to clamber out on to the emergency stairs. A chill ran down her as she felt the landing she had stepped on groan and buckle under her feet, but it didn't break as she made her way up the last few stairs to the rooftop.

Hina stared across at the little shrine and it's weary gate, pausing for a moment. When she started walking again, her mind hung on each agonizing step. Light had begun to creep in to the sky by now, though still obscured by dark clouds.

She happened to think about Hodaka again, thoughts she wished wouldn't cross her mind and trouble her more. All of a sudden, she remembered the time he had confronted the hostess club recruiters she had reluctantly went along with, and again the ring came to mind. Tears were once again streaming down her face.

Maybe he would come running again and everything really would be okay. That's how it goes in stories, right? Even if he did though, even if he was really in love with her like in those stories, it would probably take a miracle for him to save her from this. Not some fluke like finding a toy gun that turned out to be real in the trash.

The thoughts still threatened to hold her back and chip away at her unsteady resolve, and she tried to banish them from her mind.

It was too late, right? Someone had to stop the rain, right?

Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes, clasped her hands together in prayer, and took the last step through the torii, feeling an updraft carry her away.

If something as strange as sunshine girls could really exist, though, who could say miracles didn't happen?

She decided it would be a pleasant surprise if that were true.

And the notes;
We mostly only see Hodaka's perspective in the movie so I wanted to look at what she might have been thinking, although i'm not sure how well I captured her personality. I'd just watched the movie a few hours before when I wrote it but I still don't feel like I really had the grasp of her character I needed. It doesn't help that a lot of times when I'm writing I'm rewatching scenes trying to keep the characterization consistent, which isn't as easy with a just released film. About my best insight I felt was that from her reaction both to the hostess club recruiters and Hodaka confronting them she struck me as her being someone fiercely independent as well as self-sacrificing, and that's what I tried to have come across in this fic. I don't think I'm really up to the task but telling the whole story from Hina's point of view could be an interesting fanfic idea.

Editing this it occurred to me that I could and probably should extend it to cover the scene where Hodaka comes to the clouds to find Hina as well rather than going with an ending that's oddly open-ended for how the movie progresses, but I feel weirdly lost not being able to reference the original work so that would probably result in me holding on to this indefinitely, and I did want to get it out sooner rather than later.
Last edited:


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Kept thinking about this idea and finally got around to writing it last night. Spoilers again.

They followed behind as two staff members for the fireworks festival ushered them through the throng of onlookers and reporters to the building's entrance, rain blown across their path by the wind and splashing at them. The expressions in the crowd seemed to be a mix of apprehensive and incredulous, and Hina couldn't help but feel nervous herself. She stood out and clearly was drawing their attention, between the escort they had received and the kimono she wore. It must be obvious to everyone that she was the rumored sunshine girl.

"Are you nervous?", Hodaka asked, snapping her out of the thoughts she had become lost in.

"...No", she answered, a little unconvincingly, as she shook her head and smiled. "I'm fine."

He paused before continuing, but she left it at that and he moved on. "There's a lot of people here... It's amazing."

'Yeah. It is, huh?". They entered the building and were lead to the elevator for their trip fifty-four floors up.

They stepped outside again on to the roof of the tower and in to the wind, even harsher at this height, sweeping across it and buffeting them with raindrops. She shot a glance at Hodaka, seeing him smile and give her a thumbs up and flashing him a smile in return, and walked across the helicopter pad to the raised deck that sat overlooking the city, climbing its stairs and taking her place.

Something else was at the back of her mind besides the rain, the wind, and the crowed below, no matter how much she tried to push it out of her head entirely.

It had only been a few weeks, as best she could remember, after the first time she had visited that rooftop shrine last summer that she had begun to notice strange things, although she hadn't quite realized the pattern until later. The strange water droplets that seemed to defy gravity as they twirled around and formed the shapes of fish in the air came first. Later on she had begun to notice the watery, translucent appearance her skin had taken in patches on the left side of her body, and how it slowly and steadily grew.

It had barely crossed her mind the possibility it could truly grant her some special power like this when she had stepped through the gate in prayer the first time, let alone that it could come with consequences. It had sunk in by now though that all this was taking a toll on her body in some way she didn't fully understand.

Thinking about it, she hesitated. What would become of her? What would happen if the water kept spreading? Would it all have been worth it in the end?

She didn't have to keep doing this. It would be tough, but she could find another normal job. But when she thought of the people lining the streets, worried or frustrated looks on their faces, and imagined them turning to surprise and joy as the evening sun poked through the clouds and fireworks filled up the sky, or remembered Hodaka's awestruck reaction the first time she had showed him her power, it made it harder to imagine walking away, despite everything.

Hina clasped her hands together, closed her eyes, and began silently to pray. Even without looking, she knew the water droplets would encircle her once again.

Doing it for a little longer wouldn't kill her, would it?

She felt the wind slow to a gentle breeze and the raindrops that danced around her blown by that wind fall away. She felt the slightest touch of the sun's warmth, and, as she opened her eyes, saw the rays bathe Tokyo below her in golden light, at first only poking through holes in the clouds as they slowly drew open like a curtain and allowed more and more of the light through. Her heart skipped a beat as she turned and stepped down the stairs, seeing the amazed expressions of the event coordinators and the huge smile on Hodaka's face.

The two of them sat there on the roof as the sun Hina had brought through the clouds set and, as the evening turned to night, the fireworks began to light up the sky themselves.

Smiling and stretching her arms, she turned to look at Hodaka during a lull in the display. "Thank you", she said, and he glanced over at her. "I really love...--", she trailed off, the doubts and worries all coming back to her mind in that moment before she saw the slight change in his expression, his mouth open just a bit in surprise and a faint blush on his face, and had to stop herself from letting out a tiny giggle. "--This sunshine girl job."

Just for a little while, all her troubles seemed as far away as the ground below them.

Continuing with the sad Hina perspective stories, although this one is a bit lighter than the first one. Not sure if I'll keep writing more of these but I'll see if inspiration strikes me again. Maybe I'll end up writing the vague too ambitious seeming idea I had of a fic covering the entire movie from Hina's perspective just by sketching out these little scenes. Though I was looking at the Wikipedia page for Your Name last night too while I was working on this and apparently Shinkai actually co-wrote a side story for the Your Name novelization from the perspective of Mitsuha's friends, so now I'm kind of hoping he might do something similar and write a novelization of Weathering with You from Hina's perspective himself actually.


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
The year is 2019, and in April Sakura Watanabe, a completely normal girl, is about to start her time as a high school student in the sleepy seaside town of Minamiura. In this town on the coast of Tokushima Prefecture, 2019 also marks four years since the closure and abandonment of the rail branch that once served the area, running all the way to the island of Iriejima across the Iriejima Causeway, by the Minamiura Electric Railway Company.

Minamiura has become less and less vibrant over the years as young people have moved away to larger cities, and now with the population declining, it appears that Iriejima High School is destined to be closed, consolidated with the larger Minamiura High School on the mainland. If only the students of Iriejima could make a difference...

Introducing Rideable Minecart High School Sunshine! The next class of Minecart Club members is here, and they're determined to achieve their seemingly insurmountable goal; to rebuild the Minamiura Line as a minecart track maintained and operated by the students of Iriejima High School and draw the nation's attention to their beautiful hometown!

Join them as they set out on a new journey that only time knows the answer to...

Sakura Watanabe (WATANABE Sakura, 渡辺桜) – A totally ordinary girl starting her first year of high school. She's shy, lacking in confidence, and generally lackadaisical, with few strong interests until she met Yui and got roped in to joining the Minecart Club. Despite her attitude and lack of coordination, she has almost supernatural good luck and things tend to turn out well for her.

Birthday: 1 April (2004)
Hometown: Minamiura, Tokushima
Hair: Light brown
Favorite food: Anything yuzu-flavored

Yui Murakawa (MURAKAWA Yui, 村川柚) – An energetic second year student who loves minecarts (so much that she finds it hard to put effort in to anything else) and is president of the Iriejima High School Minecart Club. Ever since she first heard about the girls of Shin Ojimachi High School's Minecart Club two years ago, her dream has been to convert the Iriejima Line into a minecart track, operated by Iriejima's students. Her grandfather once worked for the railway.

Birthday: 3 February (2003)
Hometown: Iriejima, Tokushima
Hair: Lime Green
Favorite food: Takoyaki

Kaede Tsushima (TSUSHIMA Kaede, 津島楓) – A second year student and one of Yui's childhood friends. She's cheerful, down-to-earth, and a hard worker, but can be blunt at times and acts as the voice of reason in the Minecart Club. She has a love-hate relationship with Sakura and finds cute things and sweets to be guilty pleasures, getting embarrassed and angry when other people catch her enjoying them. She's close with her cousin, Yanagi, and is often chiding her.

Birthday: 17 November (2002)
Hometown: Iriejima, Tokushima
Hair: Dark brown
Favorite food: Melonpan (secretly)

Tsutsuji Takami (TAKAMI Tsutsuji, 高海躑躅) – A second year student and Yui's other close childhood friend. She has a gloomy attitude and chuunibyou tendencies, claiming to be cursed by Satan, and loves ghost stories, which are the only thing she's normally enthusiastic about besides minecarts and Yui. She sometimes helps out at her family's Chinese restaurant, where she has a completely different persona as a polite and cheerful waitress.

Birthday: 8 August (2002)
Hometown: Minamiura, Tokushima
Hair: Black
Favorite food: Chicken karaage

Lisa Kazuno (KAZUNO Risa, 鹿角梨彩) – A new first year student in Sakura's class. She's polite and level-headed but deeply insecure because of her wealthy, genius parents; her father is a physicist and writer and her mother is an Italian cellist. She attended junior high school in Shin Ojimachi, home of a famous minecart club, but it's unknown if she has an interest in minecarts herself...

Birthday: 5 December (2003)
Hometown: Shin Ojimachi, Kanagawa (now Minamiura, Tokushima)
Hair: Blonde
Favorite food: Beef carpaccio

Yanagi Tsushima (TSUSHIMA Yanagi, 津島柳) – A new first year student, one of Sakura's friends, and Kaede's cousin. She's casual, laid back, and a bit of a joker. She's an otaku with a love of cosplay and something of a dirty mind, with a particular... Interest in uniforms. She and Kaede are almost as close as sisters despite their families living on opposite sides of the Iriejima Channel, and Kaede is frequently the one reeling her in.

Birthday: 11 January (2004)
Hometown: Minamiura, Tokushima
Hair: Reddish brown (naturally), often dyed different colors
Favorite food: Grilled grouper

Matsuri Kurosawa (KUROSAWA Matsuri, 黒澤茉莉) – A new first year student and one of Sakura's friends. She's diligent and sarcastic and is the one who keeps Sakura and especially Yanagi's antics in check. She now lives in Minamiura but comes from a fairly traditional family which has kept the main shrine on Iriejima for generations, and she still helps out there as a shrine maiden and sometimes has trouble with modern technology like smartphones. Her greatest passion is traditional poetry.

Birthday: 19 September (2003)
Hometown: Minamiura, Tokushima
Hair: Black
Favorite food: Inarizushi

Minamiura Town (南浦) – A small seaside town, 30 kilometers southeast of Tokushima City. It includes the island of Iriejima. The area is known for fishing and citrus-growing, with little industry, job opportunities, recreational activities for young people. Despite is small size it has two high schools, Minamiura and Iriejima.

Iriejima (湾島) – An island and former town which was merged with Minamiura in 2003. It's connected to the mainland by a causeway and is a center for fishing known for its grouper catch.

Kumagawacho (熊川町) – The main shopping area in Minamiura. It's frequented by students as the only place in the area to go to a cafe or buy items like electronics or manga.

Anan City (阿南) and Tokushima City (徳島) – The nearby larger cities. Aratano Station in Anan was an important point on the Minamiura Electric Railway as the interchange point with the national railway system.

Minamiura Electric Railway Company (南浦電気鉄道株式会社) aka Uraden – The former local railway company that operated a 14.5 km line from Aratano Station to Iriejima Station before it ended operations in 2015. It also operated a 2.2 km line from Aratano to Nishibaba that was abandoned in 1993. Most of the tracks from Aratano to Iriejima have been removed, but the alignment has not been redeveloped.

My name is Sakura Watanabe. Age; 15. Residence; Tokushima Prefecture. I've always been shy and not very confident in myself even though I tend to have good luck, so I don't have many friends. Starting today though, that's finally going change, because I officially become a student at Iriejima High School. For once I actually feel confident about something!

I smiled to myself, taking a deep breath of sea air as I stood on the causeway, looking out over the channel that separates Iriejima from the mainland. "I'm going to become a beautiful and confident high school girl!".

For some reason I just felt like shouting, but now...

"Eheeeeeee...! I-I really said something that embarrassing...?!". I was about to start running again when I heard a familiar voice.

"Sacchaaaaan~!". I turned around, tears welling up in my eyes, to see Yanagi Tsushima-chan, one of my best two best friends from junior high school, with a huge grin on her face. She caught up to me and stopped. "Kukukukuuu... I knew you'd look great in these blazers."

"...You're going to Iriejima too? I tho-- Ehe?". I was cut off my another girl only somewhat gently delivering a chop to Yanagi-chan's head.

"Try to contain yourself for once, Yanagi-san". She stepped around Yanagi-chan, revealing Matsuri Kurosawa-chan, the last member of our trio.

"C'mon, Macchan, you don't need to be so harsh!". And so, we began walking together, stepping on to Iriejima itself and passing by the old train tracks as they crossed the street.

"So what clubs are you too joining?", I asked. "I umm... Haven't decided which I'm going to join, so maybe I'll join one with one of you guys."

"Poetry", Matsuri-chan answered matter-of-factly.

"Kukuu, I looked to see if they had a cosplay club and it turns out they do", Yanagi-chan said. "So you know where I'm gonna end up!".

"Eheee... I guess that makes sense. Both of those sound too intense for me though."

The rest of the morning with its entrance ceremony and its homeroom introductions passed quickly and uneventfully after that, and so did the quiet lunch me, Yanagi-chan, and Matsuri-chan shared. The afternoon was also a blur, and I was no closer to deciding what club to join even after the flurry of flyers I'd looked over cursorily. Oh well, there's no rule saying you have to pick a club on the first day. I-Is there?

Still a little dazed from my first day, I stood up and was just about to gather up my things when I heard the classroom door violently slam open and let out a shriek. "Eheeeee?!".

"Listen up!", I heard a girl's voice say in the doorway as I slowly turned my head to look at her. "Everyone who isn't in a club, stand up right now!". I worriedly glanced back and forth to see no one else standing except me and her.

Her eyes locked on to me like a homing missile and she crossed the floor looking like a lime green blur. Wait, is her hair really that color?! My thoughts were interrupted as she grabbed my arm. "You! You're coming with me!".

"Who are y--Eheeeeeee?!", I shrieked again as she pulled me out of the classroom and accelerated down the hallway at what seemed like the speed of sound. "Yui Murakawa!--", she yelled back, and soon enough I was dizzily thrown into another room, flopping down on a chair. My head still spinning, I tried looking around the room, seeing the fuzzy images of a girl I almost thought I recognized, with her dark brown hair worn in long twintails, facepalming and shaking her head as she stood by the table in the center of the room, and another girl with black hair sitting at the table, a half-finished scale model in front of her, and looking at me with a blank, gloomy expression.

"--President of the Iriejima High School Minecart Club!".

There was no way I could have known that day where my now not-so-normal high school life would take me.

Episode 1 launches April 1 2020. Stay tuned for more updates on the new project!

©2020 Snackadokawa Shoten
Last edited:


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Yeah obviously I wasn't going to be able to think about Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu constantly for a week and a half without eventually writing fanfiction – even if I do feel like it's a relatively hard thing to write fanfic of, honestly – so I did. I had other ideas and a few things written down, but parts of this one I'd been thinking about only in a very vague way before it became a little bit clearer two days ago and I felt compelled to actually write it out yesterday, mainly because I had the windows open and would have liked to go outside (it was only like 59 degrees F out, which is probably cooler than would make most people want to open their windows or go for a walk, but whatever) and so a certain part of the premise resonated I guess. Wrote it yesterday and then cleaned it up some today.

Unless there's something hidden away on one of the blog platforms with a lot of fanfic presence or one of the more niche sites like SpaceBattles (which I could see given the military science fiction/alternate history bent of the series) I think this might be the first English-language Iriya no Sora fanfic to be posted (I really wish I could read the ones in Japanese on Pixiv). Spoilers for up to episode 3, although for the most part it's just the main premise of the series.

Cicada Daydreaming of Sunflowers

The sun was just rising, peeking up from behind the mountains and beginning to return color to the landscape ahead, as she approached the coast.

Retard throttles. Click. Afterburners off. Iriya decelerated to subsonic speeds after her dash back across the Sea of Japan and nudged her plane into a shallow righthand turn around the Noto Peninsula.

Click, click. Gravity drive disconnected and off. The controls felt heavier now, but her body lighter, and the painful, thrumming, static-electric feeling throughout it decreased to a low hum. Iriya breathed an exhausted sigh of something between relief and resignation. She had survived another sortie.

It had been an especially long and difficult one tonight, one that had taken her across the Korean Peninsula deep into the mountains of Chagang, and one that had left her in the unusual – and problematic, given the secretive nature of her aircraft – situation of overflying populated areas in the early morning hours. it hadn't been her fault – It just hadn't! There had been more resistance from their orbital landing craft than command had expected – but she never the less dreaded what the squadron commander or Enomoto might say on her return.

Her body trembled from the stress and her worried thoughts, and she gripped the controls tighter to keep them steady, taking deep breaths to try and calm her mind.

She made landfall over Niigata Prefecture, chasing the dot on her HUD that showed the way toward the point she'd dialed in to her inertial navigation system. Even after only a few short weeks she knew it by heart; north thirty-five fifty-two twenty, east one-three-eight twenty-three twenty. The flightline at Sonohara Air Base.

Hers was a life with few blessings, but she could count as a very small one having a runway on firm land to return to, no longer the heaving deck of an aircraft carrier at sea.

Sonohara itself was a blessing too. Nevada's endless, lonely deserts, its scorching summer days and frigid winter nights, had felt like hell to her, but then, somehow, the Ticonderoga's maze of gray corridors, and the forbidding expanse of the Pacific Ocean all around, had made her the open skies and firm earth there. That was before she learned to swim, and the deep blue water that stretched to the horizon felt like it might, with one false step, swallow her up without a trace.

But now, for almost the first time in her life, she was in the outside world that she had once seen only in brief glimpses from the cockpit or in half-remembered scenes, hers or the ones the other pilots shared with her. The world of green, forested mountains and farm fields, little houses and mid-rise buildings downtown. She was back in Japan, where her own half-memories took the form of an orphanage somewhere cold and snowy, a place she had always daydreamed about with a language she would have long ago forgotten if not for her JSDF handlers at Tonopah.

And Asaba was there, the first person who had ever volunteered their kindness to her. The boy who had taught her how to swim that night in late August. Though even without him, it would have been the best place she had ever called home.

But it still felt fleeting, fragile. Summer was ending and September had almost passed. She could tell her strength was waning with each day and each sortie. The cicadas had begun to die, too, like the one she had cradled in quivering hands in her club room at school.

Iriya wasn't sure she had ever seen a cicada before, but the stories she'd heard years ago had stayed with her. One of the other pilots' cloudy memories, of a childhood spent in a place of rolling green hills and looming mountains, somewhere east of the Mississippi River, was of them emerging from the ground one spring day, a countless swarm of them rising into the air and singing in unison. A short, bright, blaze of life lasting only a few weeks, just long enough to reproduce before dying.

Later she had learned that, out east, in a belt that stretches from Texas to Massachusetts, the cicadas spent seventeen years living and growing underground before that short blaze. She was about that age now, emerging from her own isolated world of gray and brown and deep blue and the smell of Jet Propellant 7, into the warm summer air and the world of movie theater dates and school festivals with folk dances, not knowing how long her joyful song would last in the end.

She glanced out her cockpit, down at that world as Nagano Prefecture began to stir. Thin meandering rivers, country roads and national highways, and single-track railway lines crisscrossed the valleys, through green and yellow fields dotted with houses and copses of trees. A bit more distantly, through morning haze, she could see the city of Matsumoto.

Pushing her plane into a lefthand turn to begin setting up her approach, she could see the landscape below more clearly. A particular yellow field came into focus along the railway tracks and her tired mind began to stray.

She wandered through the sunflowers with a broad-brimmed straw hat sitting on her head, walking in no particular direction with no urgency or worry. It was quiet, the only sounds being the chirping of birds and the gentle wind that rustled the flowers around her and the leaves off in the stand of trees that sat on a small hill in the middle of the broad field and blew through her long hair. Iriya looked over her shoulder and saw Asaba behind her, and a warm smile came across her face to match the one that beamed back at her.

For no particular reason, she started walking faster, then running, with the biggest smile she'd ever had in her life, then stretched her arms out at her sides before holding on to her hat as she felt it threaten to fall from the pace she made. She heard Asaba yell for her to wait up, but she didn't stop until she had already reached the trees, plopping down on the ground in the shade and looking up at the clear, sunny sky above them. A peaceful, empty sky with only white clouds to fill it.

Asaba caught up, panting, and she tried to stifle a laugh. It came out of her mouth anyway, and after a short moment with a bemused look on his face he began to laugh too. She didn't know why they were laughing, only that it felt good to laugh together with someone. The sun was bright and the summer air was hot around them, even with the cool breeze offering some small amount of relief.

Their laughter trailed off, the breeze dwindled, and their eyes met. They were left together so quiet and still it seemed, for just a moment, almost like nothing else existed but the two of them.

The wind picked up again, and Iriya reached to hold her hat just as the gust lifted it off her head. She jumped to her feet to chase it down, but Asaba had already gone running after it, jumping up and grabbing at the air as the hat tumbled around, the pink ribbon attached to it flapping. Another lull in the breeze and he was able to grasp the brim in his hand, and she walked out to meet him as he came back, handing it to her.

"...Thank you."

"Don't mention it, Iriya", he answered. She flinched as he ran his hand through her hair. She wasn't used to something like this, but it wasn't unpleasant, she thought. He was standing close to her, and she held her hat in front of her chest. Here, maybe, they could finally dance face to face, the chance they had missed the last night of the school festival. Or... He leaned even closer to her.

She thought she heard cicadas.

"Manta Four, do you read, over?".

Iriya was suddenly brought back to reality, but that thought of spending a hot summer day together, with no worries, lingered in her head. If only she could have that feeling, even just for a few days, she might not mind if the world ended, and all those blissfully unaware people, going about their ordinary lives without noticing the war right in front of them, along with it.

Manta Four do you--".

No. She couldn't think those awful thoughts anymore. If she wanted to reach the day when she really could visit that place, she would have to fight for it. Even if the odds were remote, she had to believe that someday a future – not just a brief moment before being overrun – like that could be real someday. And for that reason, even if it hurt and even if it terrified her, she could go on fighting.

"--...Sonohara, Manta Four. I read you."

A bit of inspiration came from this piece on Pixiv, which has been my desktop wallpaper for a few days now, although the more I look at it (not much, since I have way too many Safari windows open) the more I notice that Iriya herself is drawn kind of awkwardly, as much as I love the background and the atmosphere it has. Plus, the ending theme for the OVA is Himawari ("Sunflower"), sung by Chihiro Imai, who doesn't seem to have done any other work for anime besides Iriya no Sora, where she also sings the opening theme and briefly voices a minor character who has a mostly unseen pivotal role in the story's events. I was also inspired by this picture (for Iriya's hat), which I don't have a source for but I suspect it's official art.

I feel like I only write one story over and over and it's about a lonely depressed person. I don't even need to say it at this point but I don't know if I have Iriya down, and I kind of feel that this story is just... Sort of generic, I guess? I dunno.

While not directly related, while poking around Wikipedia writing this I found a reference to the ability of the F-16N (a variant of the F-16 that was used by the US Navy for aggressor training) to supercruise (reach supersonic speeds without afterburners) and found the source was an article written by a pilot who flew it in the Navy. I don't know nearly as much about any of this stuff as I'd like to think I do and what I do is much more the technical and political aspects than what it's like to fly combat aircraft (to be fair, the former are perhaps easier to learn from a book), so I read through it in part because I wanted to get a somewhat better feel for that. I'm not sure how many people here have any interest in military aviation but for anyone who does I wanted to share it because I found it interesting and it had some great stories (as well as giving me inspiration for the passage about Iriya programming her INS, although I feel like that's a part that came out rather clunky, sadly). You can read it here.

Putting further notes in a spoiler because I'm rambling way too much (I checked out of curiosity and my notes here are about 1,000 words) and they get in to events of later episodes;

I've written it as North Korea here, but the enemy described as "the North" in the series is unclear. The Japanese Wikipedia article for the series speculates that it's North Korea, but an analysis of the OVA I found (citing a post on AnimeSuki, which after some thought I want to say I remember from when I first watched the show twelve or so years ago) suggests that in this setting, Japan is divided with a presumably communist state in the north. This would explain why it's referred to with a lack of any identification of what country it represents and in episode 6 as "the reactionist forces", and potentially also the references to the 38th parallel (which is often associated with North Korea, but since the Korean War hasn't actually formed the border) and in later episodes the extent of the extent to which the country locks down during the war, with trains and buses no longer running and complete control of the media by the JSDF.

Another note on North Korea; Chagang Province is a center of military industry, including for nuclear weapons development. Based on what Enomoto (Iriya's handler) says in episode 6 (although his words should likely be taken with a grain of salt) the pilots in Iriya's squadron flew missions both against the aliens and against states hostile to the US and Japan, but were lead to believe they only did the former and never killed other humans. Iriya believes the target of her sortie was a fleet of alien landers but it's likely in reality it was simply North Korean weapons factories.

Also, the carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) is the ship that appears in the anime, but this always struck me as a goof given Ticonderoga was decommissioned and scrapped in the 1970s, the series appears to take place in then contemporary times (early 2000s; there may well be a continuing cold war here, but Ticonderoga was decommissioned during the actual cold war so that doesn't explain why it's there), and another ship of the same name, a guided missile cruiser, was commissioned in the 1980s. The best guess I have is that it's a reference to the Essex-class ships, including Ticonderoga, being deployed to recover astronauts during the later 1960s and early 1970s. Never the less, I haven't changed this detail here.

The anime doesn't give any information about Iriya or her squadron-mate's lives before the Air Force (although it's possible the novels do) so I have taken some liberties there.

I don't usually substantively edit my fics after I've posted them and I'm not really comfortable with it – as I see it, a work is finished when it's posted, even if it's flawed, so other than spelling or grammar mistakes I tend to leave them be – but it's been bugging me for the two days since I posted this that the second to last paragraph just didn't feel like Iriya to me. There are other passages I'm not sure of either, but that particular one really stuck out in my mind and I realized I wasn't going to be satisfied leaving this up without changing it, so I've tweaked it slightly.
Last edited:


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
I feel like I only write one story over and over and it's about a lonely depressed person.
I lied.

A Certain Week of Their Summer Vacation


Sayaka flipped the page of her math textbook, glancing between it and the small stack of papers sitting on her desk that made up her critical summer homework. Along with English, math was one of her weaker subjects, and she didn't plan on failing it again if she could help it, so she was going to have to just knuckle down and use her summer vacation to cram as much as she could into her head. The weather wasn't bad for the first day of August, and she'd opened her bedroom windows before sitting down to study, a cool breeze coming in through them and making the curtains flutter.

She frowned, tapping her pencil eraser on the desk as she heard a certain someone, who had flopped down in her bed and started reading manga, snicker behind her. She tried to ignore it and got back to reading.

Another snicker.

Tap, tap, tap.

"Hahaha... Oh, wow."

Tap. Tap. Tap.

"Sa-ya-kaaa... Wanna play video games with me?".

Sayaka turned around in her swiveling chair to look at Kyoko sitting cross-legged on her bed, having put her manga volume down next to her, and twirled the pencil in her fingers. She was almost cute, in an impish sort of way.

"...What? C'mon, Sayaka."

She sighed. "Don't you have somewhere to be today?".

"...Hgk. Ahahaha...". Sayaka buried her face in her palm.

"Really Kyoko, if you're going to stay here, you're going to need to do this part-time job."

Kyoko pouted, looking away from her. "I'm already going to school like you asked me to, I don't need much money since I can eat at your house now that I live here, and on top of that I help with chores. Why do I need a stupid job?".

"Because I promised my parents that if you moved in, you would get one and pay rent, even if it's just over summer vacation", Sayaka answered. "Do you have any idea how much of a pain it was to get them to let you stay here? It's not normal for a high school student living at home with her parents to take in a homeless runaway, you know."

"...Thank you", Kyoko said, looking down at the floor.

Her switch to a more serious, sincere attitude didn't last long. "So what about you, Sayaka? Why aren't you getting a summer job?", she asked, flashing her usual snaggle-toothed smirk before Sayaka turned around and went back to studying.

"I have homework."

"Yeah, so do I". Tap, tap, tap.

"I have an allowance, I don't need the money."

"Yeah, I don't really need the money either". Tap, tap, tap.

"I'm not the one who has to."

"Whhyyyyy?". Sayaka let out a frustrated sigh, flicking her pencil onto her desk and watching it roll around before coming to a stop.


"Haha! Think again!", Sayaka shouted, slinging her controller around and tapping the buttons and analogue stick with significant force. She was, Kyoko had noticed, the kind of person who got really in to games in that way, and she had a serious competitive streak to boot. She nailed Kyoko with another combo. "Yah! Hyaah! Take that!".

Kyoko tended to keep her cool a little better, when she won at least. Given Sayaka kept beating her though, she was getting a bit frustrated, although she was doing a good job of not openly looking tilted. It was a hot summer night and, unlike yesterday, the air conditioner was running.

She shrugged as Sayaka won another match. "I'm just used to playing these games at the arcade and not on a console. I'm gonna save up some money to buy a fightstick, then I'll show you."

"Hm hm hm", Sayaka snickered, a cocky look on her face. "I'll believe it when I see it."

"Suit yourself. Hopefully you won't be a sore loser when I kick your ass. Okay, okay, wanna go again?".

"One more", Sayaka said. "It's getting late and we have work tomorrow."

Kyoko pouted. "...Fiiiiiiine". She decided to gamble with an off-main character pick and it paid off with only her second win of the night over Sayaka. She kicked her legs out and stretched her arms, smirking at having at least ended the night on a high note. Sayaka turned the console off and the two of them got ready for bed, heading to Sayaka's room where, for the time being, Kyoko was sleeping on a futon on the floor.

She turned her back to Sayaka as the two of them changed into their pajamas.

"Hey, Sayaka?". The silly question had been hanging around in her head at work today after she'd been reading some overly melodramatic romance manga series she found on Sayaka's bookshelf lately.

"What is it?".

"You ever kiss anyone?".

She glanced over her shoulder to see Sayaka turn around and look blankly at her. "Huh? What kind of a question is that?".

"I dunno", Kyoko said, shrugging, turning around, and flopping down on a beanbag chair. "I ran out of my manga so I've been reading some of your dumb stuff, that's why I was thinking of it."

"Well I haven't. So what?".

"Nothing, I guess", Kyoko said. Sayaka chuckled, grinning at her. "Oh, maybe you wanted to try it with me?". She shrugged her shoulders in an exaggerated, mock gesture and closed her eyes. "Well, if it can't be helped I guess I have no choice but to do it."

Her face felt a little hot, and she turned her head away, glancing off to the side. She opened her mouth, taking a moment to think of what to say, then closed it again, before looking straight at Sayaka and finally speaking up. "...W-What? Why would I want to do that with a dummy like you?!".

Sayaka's eyebrow twitched and her eyes shot open again.

"Who are you calling a dummy?! The person who only lost two rounds to you all night, really?! ...Ugh, I wouldn't want to kiss you anyway."

The words stung a little more than Kyoko would have expected them to. "...That's got nothing to do with being a dummy or not!", she shouted back.

They both turned their heads as they heard banging on the shared wall between the master bedroom and Sayaka's.


"...Yeah, we should get to bed, Kyoko."


"Ah... So that sort of thing happened, Sayaka-chan", Madoka said.

"S-Something like that. Haha...", Sayaka answered sheepishly. "So, umm... What was your order again?".

Madoka, Hitomi, and Homura had come in to the restaurant for lunch today, and Madoka had been quite surprised to see Sayaka working the counter when she went up to order for them. Kyoko had worn her down on Monday when she'd been making excuses as to why she hadn't gotten a part-time job for summer vacation and ultimately dragged her along to her first day of work, and, as she explained to Madoka, it just so happened that this franchise was short-staffed. And so it had ended up that she filled out an application, was hired basically on the spot, and started working today.

"Oh, umm--", she said, counting off items on her fingers as she listed them off. "--two cheeseburgers, a chicken fillet, a large fry, and three sodas, please."

Sayaka looked over her shoulder and repeated the order, shouting back to the kitchen. Kyoko turned and flashed her a thumbs up and her usual fang-toothed grin.

"She's getting right on that", she said flatly to Madoka, who was peering past her into the kitchen herself.

"Eh, Kyoko-chan is working here too?".

"...I thought I mentioned that part?".


It was another miserably hot day – though at least not a work day – with the AC blasting, and again Kyoko had occupied Sayaka's bed to read her friend-slash-roommate's shoujo manga while she sat at her desk and did her summer homework. She turned the page, whistling to herself as she took in the two-page spread. It wasn't anything too inappropriate, but she still hadn't expected this series – or Sayaka's tastes in general – to get quite so steamy.

"...Have you even started your homework yet, Kyoko?".

She yawned. "We still have most of our vacation left. I'll do it later."

"You say that, but that just means you're not going to do it until the very last minute. Or worse, beg to copy off mine."

Kyoko sat up and frowned at her, which didn't have any discernible effect given Sayaka was facing away from her and looking at her homework on her desk. "Aaaagh...".

Sayaka didn't pay any attention to her, and she flopped back down on the bed and finished the volume, rolling her eyes a little at the latest melodramatic twist threatening to torpedo the lead's relationship with her on-again-off-again (as of the end of the volume, off) love interest. She closed it and dropped it lazily on the bed, laying there doing nothing for a little while before eventually pulling herself up to put it back with the rest of the series on Sayaka's haphazardly organized bookshelf, between Magic Knight Rayearth and a biography of Chopin.

She reached for the next volume, but decided she'd had as much as she could take for one day and just went back to laying in bed, bored out of her mind.

"Sayakaaa... Let's go to the beach."

"Eeh... You should've said something earlier", Sayaka said. "Now that I've started, I don't want to stop until I've actually gotten something done."

"But I just thought of it now... Besides, you've totally just been staring at it, haven't you?". Sayaka turned around, crossing her legs and tapping her pencil on the arm of the chair. "Don't talk to me like that when you're failing math too, Kyoko...!".

She sat up again in bed and smirked. "Yeah, but I'm not the one who claims not to be a dummy. I admit it, I kinda suck at stuff like that. Not like most of it is useful in real life anyway."

Sayaka sighed. "...You know, do you even have a swimsuit?".

"...Oh, you know, I uh, sorta don't", Kyoko answered, grinning sheepishly and scratching her head.

"Honestly, you really need more clothes in general."

"I like the ones I have though". She paused, looking slightly away. "And you already spent so much for my school uniform. I'd feel bad."

"A school uniform doesn't count", Sayaka said. "That would have been a necessity no matter what, and there was no way you were going to be able to afford it yourself. Besides that, your work uniform, and your pajamas, you have what, two sets of clothes? And they look basically the same too."

"When I'm finished with my homework for today, we're going to go downtown and go clothes shopping", she continued. "At the very least, if you want to go the beach sometime, we need to get you a swimsuit. If you feel bad, you can treat me to lunch or something when you get paid."

"How's this one look, Sayaka?", Kyoko asked, holding up a plain black one-piece swimsuit in front of herself.

"Uh...", Sayaka started, thinking of how to put it. With how blunt – really, she was almost crude sometimes – and blasé Kyoko acted, she hadn't really expected her tastes to be this... Modest. "How should I say this... Still kinda like a kid's swimsuit?".

Kyoko glowered at her. She'd held up a series of one-pieces, two of them, including this one, fairly plain while the other had been all ruffly. Between the ruffles and just how scrawny Kyoko was, that one definitely would have made her look like a kid. "You've said that about all of them! What did you even pick out for yourself then?".

"Ta-da!". She held up the bikini she'd decided on, an orange and yellow striped one with a deep V-cut neck on the top. Kyoko blushed a little. "That's kind of bold, isn't it?".

"Huh? Not really. It's just a bikini, right?".

"Hey, I have an idea--", Sayaka added, pushing her swimsuit into Kyoko's hands and exchanging it for the one-piece. "Why don't I try picking something out for you?".

"Uh... Okay, I guess."

Sayaka looked through the racks before settling on a black side-tie bikini printed with a rhombic pattern, turning back to Kyoko and holding it up. "Come on, try it out! I think it'll look really cute on you!".


"--Ah, that's not exactly how you do it it properly, Miki-san", Mami said. "But I'm glad you're starting to get the hang of it."

Sayaka put her hands together. "Thank you so much for this."

At this point, she'd had to admit her studying wasn't going well. She'd gotten some of her math homework done, and watching videos online had been a great help in understanding English better and made her slightly more confident in her eventual performance there, but she'd eventually just hit a wall with math, and because of her stubborn insistence that she wouldn't give up and move on to something else she hadn't even touched any of her homework on other subjects. Also, Kyoko bothering her while she tried to study didn't help.

"I know, right?", the bother in question said, throwing her arms back and clasping her hands behind her head as she grinned. "Where would we underachievers be without dependable upperclassmen like Mami?".

"Please don't group me with yourself, Kyoko", she said. Madoka and Mami giggled, and she thought Homura even let out a tiny, mostly-stifled chuckle. Kyoko flashed her a glare.

The best solution she had been able to think of, both for her mental block and Kyoko's unwillingness to touch her own homework, had been to ask Mami, a second-year student Madoka had happened to make friends with – something about Mami and her family being neighbors with Madoka's mother's boss and Madoka's mother running into them at the boss' company-sponsored house party – to help them study after work.

Madoka had also needed help studying, and so she'd tagged along, and Homura was here probably because Madoka was. Sayaka really didn't know what that girl's deal was, but her and Madoka seemed to have hit it off well at least.

"Please don't mention it, Miki-san, Sakura-san", Mami said, smiling. "You know I'm happy to help."

They spent a while more going through math problems before Mami declared it was time for a break and left her spacious bedroom, returning shortly after with a tray of cakes that the five of them eagerly dug in to.

"Oh yeah", Sayaka said after polishing off the last of her cake and pointing her fork across the table. "Me and Kyoko were gonna go to the beach tomorrow because we don't have work over the weekend. If any of you guys wanna come and can make it you're welcome to."

"It's a shame it's tomorrow", Mami said. "Actually, me and parents were just about to leave on a trip overseas."

"Aaah, the rich girl lifestyle must be sweet", Kyoko said wistfully. Mami twirled her hair in her fingers. "Oh, I'm so sorry, I really didn't mean to brag...".

"Nah, it's fine, believe me", Kyoko said. "Just... It sounds nice."

"I'm not doing anything tomorrow. I'd love to go to the beach with you two", Madoka said. "What about you, Homura-chan?".

Homura nodded. "...It would be fun."


"Aah, you look cute in that, Kyoko-chan", Madoka said. "...It's a little more revealing than I'd be comfortable wearing too". Her swimsuit was a relatively modest pink two-piece well adorned with bows and ruffles.

The four of them – besides her and Sayaka, Madoka and Homura had come along as promised – had met up at the station earlier that morning and taken the train out to the beach a little outside the city. It was, like every day had been during this heat wave, exactly the kind of day you'd desperately want to go to the beach on to cool off.

"Thanks, yeah", she replied, not especially enthusiastically. "Sayaka picked it out for me."

"Sayaka-chan did? ...Ah, I see". She nodded knowingly.

"...What the heck is that supposed to mean?".

"Oh, Sayaka-chan is a little, um...". Madoka scratched her head, seemingly wracking her brain for a way to say whatever it was she had to say while still being respectful to her friend. "Uhh... I probably shouldn't say this, and please don't hold this against her, but, umm, she's the sort of person who... Well, one time she went through Hitomi-chan's underwear drawer."

"Huh? What would someone go through someone else's underwear fo--". She stopped in mid-sentence as she considered it. "Oooh... So you're saying she's a pervert?".

Madoka chuckled uneasily. "Aha... I-I wouldn't say something like that, but... It's only a tiny bit, ok?".

Kyoko looked out at the ocean, shielding her eyes with her hand. "...You know, didn't Sayaka use to have a crush on that guy Hitomi is dating?".

"Hmm? Why do you ask?", Madoka replied.

"No reason."

Madoka nodded. "She did, for the longest time... You shouldn't worry though. Sayaka-chan does like girls too."

Kyoko winced. "...Am I really that easy to read?".

Madoka giggled. "A little... But I think it might take Sayaka-chan a bit longer to realize it."

"Heeeeyy!", Sayaka shouted, running up to them. Homura stepped out of the changing rooms behind her and started walking over as well. "Come on, let's go swimming!".

She turned to Kyoko. "Hey... Are you feeling ok?".

"What's that mean?", Kyoko replied.

"You just look sorta red in the face, that's all". She must have started blushing after her conversation with Madoka. Sayaka leaned closer to her, brushed her bangs out of the way, and put her hand on her forehead, which she was sure was only making her blush more. "...Well, you don't seem to have a fever or anything, I think."

Sayaka stepped away from her. "Alright, good! Let's cut loose some today, okay? ...Ah, I guess you're always pretty loose though, aren't you Kyoko? Ahahaha...!".


Sayaka leafed through the rack of classical music CDs, picking one up and glancing at the back before returning it. It was a bit old-fashioned these days to go to a record store and just look at CDs, obviously, and she wasn't here with any particular idea of what she wanted either, but there was just something about the experience of it that couldn't be matched by scrolling through a list on her phone or her computer.

She'd found a few performers she really loved this way too, by buying CDs on impulse, that she might not have discovered otherwise.

It was still hot this morning, even though it had finally started cooling down a little overnight. She had decided to go out with Kyoko, who'd said she had a few errands to do today. First on Kyoko's list had been church, which she didn't have a particular interest in and wouldn't have felt comfortable with anyway, so she'd gone to the mall instead to wait for her.

"Yo, Sayaka."

She looked away from the CD rack she'd just knelt down in front of to see Kyoko standing at the end of the aisle with a picnic basket. "Hey. That didn't take very long, huh?".

"I like to slip out before the service ends most mornings", she said. "I dunno, it's less of a hassle I guess... Anyway, what are you looking at?".

Sayaka held up the case. "He's a Mexican cellist."

"Eh... Well, if you like it". They went up to the counter and Sayaka paid for her CD, taking the plastic bag from the cashier and walking out with Kyoko in tow.

"Where did you have to go next?", she asked as they strolled through the mall.

"Work, sorta."

"I thought you were off all weekend?", Sayaka asked. "What are you going in for? It'd be weird to go to that one in particular just to eat."

Kyoko stopped walking and looked up through the skylights. "Call it my good deed for the day."

It wasn't a long walk to the restaurant, although it was a bit of an unpleasant one in this weather. Sayaka waited outside in the alley behind the block of buildings it was in as Kyoko slipped in through an employees-only entrance at the back of the store with her picnic basket. A few minutes later, she came out again. "You ready to go, Sayaka?".

They started walking.

"Hey, so what was this about anyway?", Sayaka asked. Kyoko stopped, opening the basket lid, and she looked inside to see it lined with paper napkins and stacked full of breakfast sandwiches. "Uh... What? You aren't gonna eat all of these, are you?".

She knew Kyoko had something of an appetite, but this was just ridiculous.

Kyoko closed the basket up again and they began walking again, Kyoko still not answering her for a few moments. Right as she was about to ask again, she decided to speak up.

"It pisses me off seeing people waste food. That was one of the reasons I was reluctant to work there, actually. It's just...", she paused, stopping at the crosswalk as cars passed, and the two of them waited for the signal to turn green. "...Really, really disgusting."

They crossed the street and Kyoko kept talking. "The church does food drives to help feed people around here. I talked to the manager about it every day, and I finally got her to agree to let me take stuff that would get thrown out anyway sometimes. She just said I should be discrete and that if I get caught, I'm on my own. It's against company policy. And maybe food safety laws, I don't know. But I don't give a shit."


She stopped in her tracks and turned around to glare at her. "What? I didn't say it so you'd get depressed or something, geeze...!".

It had cooled down some since earlier, but this cloudy, humid weather that had replaced the morning sunshine wasn't much better. At least the rain that was coming later in the afternoon would cut the temperature down by a few more degrees tomorrow, but it was August, so of course that wouldn't last either.

After swinging by the church and dropping off the basket of food, where Kyoko had lied – yes, technically a sin – that she'd made the sandwiches herself to cover her ass, they had gone back to mall, browsed a bit more without buying anything, just strolled around town a little bit and walked through the park, and then gotten bubble tea, ordering different flavors, and sat around at the cafe chatting. Kyoko had offered Sayaka a taste of hers, which she had refused, blushing. Sayaka apparently put as much stock in the idea of indirect kisses as the heroines of her manga did, which Kyoko thought was making a tiny bit too big a deal out of it.

Kyoko hadn't thought of it that way when she asked if Sayaka wanted to come along with her on her errands and kill time in town, but it had ended being basically a date.

She'd stayed up later than she should have last night finishing the manga she'd been working her way through as it finally reached its suitably melodramatic conclusion, and she was still thinking about it, even if it was stupid. Especially the stupid scene where the love interest finally, after way more volumes than was necessary, confessed his feelings.

Absolutely nothing that had anything to do with her own life.

In the manga he'd done a certain thing when he confessed. Her heart beat a little faster.

She stopped walking. "Hey, Sayaka?".

"Yeah, what is it?". Kyoko turned, planting her feet firmly on the ground facing Sayaka, and looked her in the eye. She just sort of stood there for a moment, like a dummy, probably with a stupid expression on her face, before putting one hand on her hip and slamming the palm of her right hand on the wall behind Sayaka.

Sayaka looked at her, her eyes widening in surprise and a tiny blush creeping on to her face.

Suddenly, she frowned. "...What are you doing, Kyoko?".

Her firm hold on the wall loosened and she averted her eyes. "I, umm... Was thinking about how I saw it in that manga, and I just wanted to try doing it."

Sayaka blinked twice, her expression changing from a frown to one of bewilderment. She snickered a little, and then cracked up laughing so hard she closed her eyes and doubled over a little. "Ahaha, oh Kyoko, that's... Ahahahaha...!"

"...Shut up, you dummy."

Or, I want to say I lied, but it got a little bit sad toward the end. Even though there aren't magical girls, Kyoko's life still isn't easy in this timeline. Of course, compared to the last few fanfics I've posted here, it's still way short of Hina or Iriya's "I have to die or the world ends and everyone dies instead" levels of angst. That said, this may kind of prove my point since I don't feel too satisfied with it given I have basically no confidence in my ability to write romantic fluff.

I had been wanting to write some KyoSaya fluff for a few days now but had trouble coming up with any specific ideas, which lead to my first attempt, based on the premise of Sayaka being oblivious to Kyoko flirting with her until she finally gives up and just tells her she wants to go out with her (which is where the kabedon ending came from) stalling out after a few hundred words. I thought of this last night though and wrote most of it overnight and then cleaned it up and wrote Sunday tonight (...which I literally just now realized actually is Sunday). Which for me at least is really fast.

Sayaka being interested in Hitomi's panties actually happened in one of the drama CDs, and it's actually worse there because in that it was a dirty pair and not just rooting around in a drawer. Also, I always end up mentioning Kyoko's Christianity when I write her, and even if it's an important part of her character in canon I'm starting to feel like I'm (literally!) flanderizing her. Also, I need to watch Magic Knight Rayearth. While the title isn't really any sort of special reference, I did have in mind the title of a (safe for work) KyoSaya doujin I read recently, A Certain Day With Elegance by Ryuunosuke, which also influenced me to write the clothes shopping scene.

Incidentally, both Kyoko and Iriya Kana from Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu are voiced by Ai Nonaka, so including some stuff I haven't posted here I'm now on a four-fic long streak of stories starring characters she played.
Last edited:


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
It's been many, many years since I last tried to draw without some sort of handicap – strict time limits in skribbl or needing to use an analogue stick on Animal Crossing's bulletin boards, and even the last time I tried drawing on paper I always used pens, which would be something of a handicap as well – and for a while I've wondering how I'd do drawing off a reference in somewhat better conditions. For whatever reason I felt like trying tonight. Originally I was going to draw Kana Iriya based on the cover art of the first Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu novel, but she has a lot of hair, which felt kind of daunting, and I thought drawing her hair from later in the series might be a little depressing, so, since I've been rewatching Sora no Woto – a wonderful show which is ten years old this year and that I highly recommend you check out – I decided to draw another Kana; Sora no Woto's protagonist, Kanata Sorami.

I wasn't sure about posting it publicly here because it's just not very good, but I decided it almost looks like her and is passable enough for someone who hasn't drawn anything in weeks and hasn't seriously tried to draw on paper in probably over ten years, so I decided I may as well. It's good enough that I do feel like I could probably get decent at art if I stuck with it but I really don't think I have the energy to, and I don't know what possessed me to try drawing a hand, even if she's saluting in the reference picture too.

And the screenshot I used as a reference (from here, though be aware it spoils a late series episode);
Last edited:


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Rideable Minecart High School Book 8 omake

It will have been ten years since Minecraft added minecarts in a few days, and partly for that reason I've been thinking about this again. Decided to try writing the characters for the first time in years after an idea came to me while I was reading something. This takes place during book 8, track 7 when the club was visiting Yasuko's family in Oregon.

Omake track
Level Crossing.

"Right here! Right here!", Subaru-chan shouted from the front seat and we turned right off the main road, tires squeeling and making me involuntarily grab on to Ran-chan, sitting between me and Yasuko-chan. We crossed the tracks and turned again into a patch of dirt by the railroad crossing before jerking to a stop.

Cassie-san turned off the engine and her and Subaru-chan got out as I untangled myself from a slightly annoyed looking Ran-chan, undid the seatbelt we were sharing in the cramped back seat that clearly was not intended for three people, and got out myself after them. "Uueee... It's so hot", I said, the sun beating down on us. I looked up, shielding my eyes with my hand, and didn't see a single cloud. "Aaagh, I know, right?", Subaru said. "I hope our sandwiches are fine."

"Don't worry, I put them in a cooler", Cassie-san said to her. "Ehe... Yes, I remember it now. Anyway!".

"...Please don't do that again", Ran-chan said to me. Uuee... This is awkward. Suddenly, I thought of something.

"Subaru-chan, umm... W-What are we doing again?". She looked at me funny as Cassie-san opened the back of her car and got the cooler out. "Didn't I say? We're gonna eat lunch and watch for trains!".

"Uuee, I guess I forgot". Well, I don't know much about trains, but I like sandwiches. "Oh! Yasu-chan!", Subaru was already changing gears. "Didn't you say you were gonna look up some of the history of the line that goes through here? I could only find a little bit in Japanese."

"Ah, I did, yes", Yasuko-chan said. "The part south of Bend came later than the part between Bend and the Columbia River, but it was all part of a conflict between the companies of two of the most important railroad tycoons of the time, James J. Hill and Edward H. Harriman, both of whom wanted to build lines along the Deschutes River to access the growing timber industry in central Oregon, starting in around 1908. Even today the two different successor companies to their lines share the tracks". Subaru-chan and Ran-chan were listening intently, but I had basically checked out by now as she went on and on, and Cassie-san seemed to be only vaguely paying attention as she ate her sandwich.

"Eventually it got violent", Yasuko-chan added as I went to get my own sandwich. Uuee? I wasn't expecting that. W-Wasn't this just about business or something? She went on. "The two railroads' crews built as fast as they could to try and finish their line first, and they started sabotaging the other's progress, blowing up track or igniting their competitors' explosives. Some accounts even say there was shooting between the two sides."

"W-What? O-Over a railroad?", I asked, unwrapping a sandwich. She nodded. "I don't know if anything like that happened in Japan, but it wasnt too uncommon in the old west. In America the railroads were always competing private companies and the government wasn't so involved in building them. Sometimes it got tense."

"I'm just glad we don't have to deal with someone competing with us building our rail!", Subaru-chan said. "Hmm... But if we did...", she thought for a bit. "All of you would defend it with me, right?! Even if it took force?!".

"Uueee...! T-That's--", I saw Ran-chan raise her hand. "--Uueeeee?! R-Ran-chan?!".

"...Ah, it would depend what it would take to defend it. Setting off bombs or shooting would be perhaps too much."

"I'd shoot someone if I had to, Yasu-chan", Ran-chan said flatly, smirking. Cassie-san looked a little alarmed. "T-That's just how her sense of humor is...!", I stammered. "Uueee...". Ran-chan shrugged and Subaru-chan ruffled her hair.

Out of the blue, I heard bells dinging and looked over at the crossing to see the gates close. A horn blew off in the distance, startling me, and Subaru-chan's face lit up, prompting her to drop the sandwich she'd been reaching for in the cooler and grab her digital camera instead, running up uncomfortably close to the tracks. Ran-chan walked over too and I hesitantly followed, keeping what seemed like a safer distance behind Subaru-chan.

Quickly I heard – and felt – the low rumble as the train approached, the sound of its horn again splitting the air as it came into view, a line of orange engines puffing black smoke and shaking the ground as they rolled past and Subaru-chan kept snapping pictures. I-It was actually... Kind of exciting somehow? I could sort of see where she was coming from now. Though even being this close felt kind of scary. Following behind was a long row of different cars, rattling as they passed. Finally the end of the train rolled past us, another engine bringing up the rear.

Subaru-chan took a deep breath, stretching her arms beside her, and let it out before turning around, a huge grin on her face. "See, Umeko-chan?! Wasn't that cool?!".

"I-It was more interesting than I thought it would be, Subaru-chan, I guess?". She chuckled, walking over and grabbing my hand. "Ehehe, I knew you'd figure it out eventually!".

"Uuee, I-Is it something you figure out...?". She looked at me and scratched her head. "...Huh? What does that mean? You can figure anything out if you try!".

"Umm... I guess?". Subaru moved on quicky, sprinting back to the car, grabbing her sandwich again, and unwrapping it. "Alright! Let's stay here all day and see what we see! Yasu-chan, you said there are two different companies that use this line, right? So we should see a lot of different trains!".

"Ah yes", Yasuko-chan said. "Though maybe we shouldn't stay out all day when it's this hot out."

"Ehe, good point... Hey, I know!", Subaru-chan said. "How about we go for ice cream after?!".

"Sounds good", Ran-chan said. "Yeah... That'd be nice after being outside in this heat", I added.

Cassie-san snapped her fingers. "Actually, I know just the place; there is an ice cream place on the way home, yeah!".

"Alright, it is settled then!, Subaru-chan said, unwrapping her sandwich. "Aaah... Ehe, I'm really looking forward to it now!".


Since I was a kid I've had the first two volumes of Mike Schafer's Classic American Railroads books and I ended up reading through them again in December to pass the time when my eye was bothering me and I had trouble looking at screens. A few years ago I learned there was a third volume and when I ordered some other stuff last month I ended up buying it too. I finally got to reading through it the other day, and as it turns out the final chapter covers the Spokane, Portland, & Seattle Railway, which among other ventures controlled the Oregon Trunk Railroad, which built the line from Wishram, Washington on the Columbia River (and the SP&S main line) to Bend, Oregon. I'd realized after writing book 8 that Subaru probably would have wanted to go trainspotting while they were in Oregon so this idea came to me.

As for the story itself, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I think it does capture the feel and style of the original series, but that basically just means I'm replicating mediocre writing and I don't know if I can recapture the charm; I didn't really feel much writing this and I kind of feel like I've lost my grasp of the characters and I dunno if that's something I can get back or not, which probably kills any thought I had of continuing the main series. I'm also not sure if the history lesson really works, and I don't know if anyone read Rideable Minecart High School for the minecarts or Subaru being a train otaku (Like, when I was talking about it the other day Turb didn't even remember it was actually about minecarts).

Further reading/viewing
On the Spokane, Portland, & Seattle Railway
On the Deschutes Railroad War


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
This spoils at least up to episode 2 of Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu (it's based on a scene from it); while it doesn't directly spoil anything after that, it does spell some things out that are inferable at that point in a more explicit way than the anime does until later.

Lost Children in the Desert

The campfire crackled in the cold, bone-dry air, wisps of smoke rising up from it into the night sky. Temperatures dropped quickly after sunset out here in the high desert, so much so that even in the heat of summer some nights were barely above freezing, and with that in mind tonight was mercifully warm. Huddled close to the fire like she was, it was almost comfortable.

Kana sat quietly and watched the fire flicker and sway, her legs curled up and her arms around her knees. It was the end of the second day.

Dean and Erica had worked out the plan. It was Erica who had pointed out that command knew where their planes were at all times thanks to their IFF transponders, and Dean had been the one who suggested obtaining that transponder data, locating the crash site and cross-referencing it with satellite photos, and actually hiking out into the Nevada desert to find it. Yesterday morning the four of them – her, Erica, Dean, and Enrico – had managed with some difficulty to sneak out of Tonopah and begin the long walk southeast to where Jamie's plane had gone down.

It was hard for her to know how to feel about what happened. She had trouble getting along with anyone, but Jamie had been the worst to her; it seemed like they could hardly talk to each other without him calling her 'retard' or 'stupid' or something like that, and to make matters worse, no one did a thing about it. Sometimes they didn't even know; the implants the five of them had received made it possible to send messages to each other, almost like a form of telepathy, and that had been his usually way of taunting her. He had done it the first time she'd been brought in to the evaluation room to test the implants, in fact, making her break down in tears – a reaction that had only made the bullying worse.

Even so, things had immediately felt different after they learned he had died. The truth of their situation, trapped and forced to fight, had slowly been setting in for all of them, even if they only had scarce knowledge of the what the outside world was like from books or comics that slipped past their handlers and found their way to them from the other pilots and base staff and from hazy childhood memories. After the first death, that realization was total. It was made even worse by how little they were told about what had happened to Jamie.

"We don't have much food or water left", Erica said, breaking the momentary silence as she took the energy bar she'd been attempting to roast over the fire off the tip of her utility knife, flinching a bit at the temperature as she touched it and quickly blowing on it. "This is probably the point of no return."

No one said anything, the four of them eating in silence. It had already become apparent to everyone just how far out of their depth they had gotten.

"I don't know about y'all--", Dean finally said, "--but I'm not going back until we find him."

"Me either", Enrico agreed. Erica nodded, and eventually the three of them glanced in Kana's direction. She looked up, nodded her head, and mumbled an affirmative answer before, having finished eating her 'dinner', she went back to curling up beside the fire.

"...How much of it do you think is true?", Erica said, looking up at the sky. They were miles and miles away from any town, road, or even any permanent military installation on the test range, and the sky was free of clouds, the vast field of stars above shining through undisturbed by artificial light and the Milky Way arcing across it. "What they've been telling us. Do you think there's really something out there that we're fighting?".

Since childhood, they'd been told about them. A hostile force from another world that had first appeared on Earth more than fifty years ago, on the 24th of June, 1947. It was for that reason that children with a high aptitude had been gathered in Nevada to receive the specialized training and implants required to pilot a new type of fighter plane. They were the chosen defenders of the Earth and humanity.

That the calm, dedicated, professional, never-questioning-orders Erica was asking questions like that just underscored how thoroughly their faith had been shaken.

"Well, maybe they're up there somewhere, but I can't see them", Dean replied, holding his hand above his eyes and looking up at the sky himself.

"Have either of you gotten close enough to see what they look like?", Enrico asked. He and Kana still hadn't flown any operational sorties yet, while Dean, Erica, and Jamie all had.

"No", Erica answered. "Orders are to engage targets from beyond visual range after command has identified them. Visual identification isn't required."

"So they could be...?", he trailed off.

"Pretty much anything", Erica said, shrugging her shoulders. "Real aliens, other humans like us... It's not our job to know, I guess."

Kana curled up even tighter, burying her face in her knees and trying to think of anything else. Vaguely interesting things she saw in the desert. Books she'd read. The possibility that they had been killing people just like them. Technical specifications of the T-38 Talon. The fact that they were probably going to die out here.

"You know, you've never talked much about where you were before you came here, Erica", Enrico said, breaking the silence again. "You either actually, Kana."

Kana didn't respond to him.

Enrico had told them a little about his life before the Black Manta program, growing up in the city, which must have been New York he'd decided, since he remembered being able to see the Statue of Liberty. Dean was the oldest of the five of them and had talked a bit more, about life in what he believed was rural Kentucky, about a car crash he'd been in that killed his parents, and other little stories like the one about the cicadas emerging from the ground. But she'd never heard Erica talk much about herself.

"Hmm...". Erica sat in thought. "I don't remember much. It was up north, I think Montana. It was just me and my mother, then eventually I got taken away. I was in an orphanage, I guess. Not long after, some people came and took me away again and had me do a bunch of tests, and then I was here. It's nothing very interesting."

Kana saw the other three glance over at her, and she looked up, opening her mouth but finding herself unable to find any words to say. She looked down at her knees again, not saying anything, and again the four of them sat in silence

"Hey Kana, why do you never say anything? What's even going on in your head? What, are you retarded or something?". She sometimes wondered if everyone else thought the same things about her and the only difference was Jamie was the only one who said them out loud.

After a while, Dean fished a harmonica out of his pocket and blew into it briefly to test it. A few of his stories were about music and a relative who was a musician, and after he had managed to get someone on the base to slip him a harmonica, he had taken to it well. He hummed a bit to pick up the tune and then began to play. It was only the instrumentals this time, but she recognized this same tune as one he'd played before, stopping to sing the lyrics as best as he remembered them, and she was able to put words to the music herself.

"... Keep me searching for a heart of gold / And I'm getting old. ...".

Even if it was a sad song, all of it made her almost feel like this was an ordinary camping trip, or what she assumed an ordinary camping trip must be, like she'd seen in one of the handful of books that had slipped through command's attempts to control the information they received. Dean finished the song, lowering the harmonica from his lips and stretching his arms.

"Umm...", she mumbled, speaking up and feeling uncomfortable as Dean, Erica, and Enrico again turned to look at her. "I don't remember much either. I was born in a different country and I never knew my parents. There was always a lot of snow in the winters. I think I was at an orphanage too, like Erica... And then I was taken away and given the tests before I was brought here. I remember it was a very long flight and there were no windows on the plane. I don't remember much else, sorry...".

"...It's fine", Erica said, shaking her head. "Really. None of us can."

The fire had burned down to embers by the time Kana, Dean, and Enrico woke up, shivering, as the sun rose and the first light of dawn illuminated the barren, sandy plain. They had set a watch over the camp overnight, and Erica, who had taken the last shift, was already awake, sitting close to what remained of their campfire.

They stomped out the embers – water being far too scarce to waste – and gathered the meager supplies they had remaining as the sun slowly crept higher in the morning sky before setting out walking south again, further and further away from Tonopah and climbing into one of the mountain ridges that cut across the desert. The rough terrain and oppressive heat slowed their progress to a crawl as they ascended the side of the mountains, their remaining supply of water steadily dwindling. By midday, it was gone entirely, and after lunch so was the last of their food.

Desperate for relief, they had come to a stop under a rare rock outcropping that offered a bit of shelter from the sun and quietly ate their energy bars. From this vantage point, they could look back at the desert floor stretching out below them, not a single sign of another human being in sight.

Kana stared out at the view, covering her eyes with her hand and surveying the expanse of sand and scrubby grass.

It felt spectacularly lonely. If they died here, would anyone remember them? After all, they had no families left and no one who seemed to care about them except each other. They were allowed no contact with the outside world, and barely even knew an outside world existed. Even they had been told barely anything about what had happened to Jamie, and he was their own squadron-mate.

If they died here, it would be like they had never existed in this world.

She was getting more and more uneasy, her heart beating faster in her chest and her breathing feeling constricted. She took a few long, deep breaths, but the hot, dusty air did little to help matters.

"What are you doing, Erica?", she heard Enrico say, and turned around.

Erica had taken her utility knife out of her pack and stepped closer to the rock face, where she was using it to scratch and chip at the stone. It made little impact on the hard material, but she kept going, painstakingly, and began to write, words faintly but visibly scratched into the outcropping.

4-4-5-0 T-A-C G-R-P F 1-2-1 B-L-A-C-K M-A-N-T-A. The name of their unit and the designation and name of the aircraft they flew. A-U-G 0-9 2-0-0-0. The current date. She scratched a crude depiction of their patch insignia and then finally, below, E-R-I-C-A P-R-O-U-D-F-O-O-T.

"Think my knife might be about ruined", she said, stepping away from the rock face and looking it over. "Rest of you have less to write at least."

Dean scratched his name into the rock below Erica's next, then Enrico, leaving just Kana to fish her knife out of her backpack, step forward, kneel on the ground, and get to work

K-A-N-A I-R-I-Y-A.

For at least a little while, no matter what happened to them, this corner of the world would remember they existed.

I thought of this and wrote the beginning on Friday; I think it might've come to me while I was listening to music, but I'm pretty whatever song prompted the idea wasn't Neil Young's Heart of Gold, which got a reference (which I kind feel is out of place, but I wanted it in). When Neil Young shows up you know it's time for depression. I wasn't really feeling it and planned on finishing it and then probably holding on to it until I do an end-of-year scraps compilation (I did that in 2018 and I think it's probably going to become a biennial thing for me), but I thought of the ending while I was eating dinner and after writing the rest of the story, I think it came together better than I expected, so here it is.

For some reason I find it kind of hard to write fanfic of this series in general and I haven't been super satisfied with what I've written for it, and this posed the additional difficulty of not really knowing what the other Black Manta pilots are like and not really even knowing if they have much of a personality in canon; I don't know how much more characterization they get in the novel, but it's something more than anime I'm pretty sure, and while I think the fan translation of the novels got up to the flashback scene this is based on, the website that was hosting the translation went offline and parts of volume 2 didn't get saved by the Internet Archive. So I'm working entirely on the less than two minutes of screentime they get in the anime and their descriptions on Japanese Wikipedia via Google Translate and I just made up backstories for them (and Iriya, for that matter).

I'm pretty sure given the series' love for UFOlogy that the Nevada Base it refers to is intended to be Area 51, but I've continued to go with it being the Tonopah Test Range Airport because it was the operational home of the F-117 Nighthawk before that plane was declassified (I thought I mentioned this before but checking again I don't think I did, so maybe I'm repeating myself). Similarly, the 4450th Tactical Group was the original cover story unit flying the F-117 so I kept going with the allusion and made it play the same role for the Black Manta.

The series handles it poorly in some ways, but at one point Iriya is stated to be autistic, and (assuming the machine translation is right) Jamie is is said to have bullied her, so for a while now I've wondered if he bullied her over that and I worked it in here. I thought about if it warranted a warning at the beginning, but I don't know if it rises to the level where that would be necessary and honestly I have some kind of ambivalent feelings about trigger warnings in general, so hopefully it's fine.

I don't really know how well you could scratch letters into rock with a utility knife and it's probably not very well. I thought about testing it some myself, but I would have had to find a rock and knife that were expendable and by the time I thought about it it was getting late. Most likely whatever you could manage to do wouldn't be very durable, making this even more of a symbolic action, but even if it's symbolic I like the idea of them trying to defy their fate of being forgotten, and that idea of defying fate was something I was thinking about tonight (or, last night, really, given when I'm posting this).

Once again my notes run way too long for how short a story is.

Edited slightly, because the paragraph where Iriya tells her story was way too abrupt and that kept really sticking out to me when I looked at it. I gave the paragraph an actual ending as well as adding another line where Erica responds to her.
Last edited:


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Same spoiler notice as the other Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu stories I've posted here basically.

Paper Airplanes

Enomoto climbed off of the ladder onto the roof, sitting down next to Iriya and handing her a cup of noodles and a pair of chopsticks. Somehow he had carried two cups, filled with hot water, up the ladder without spilling them.

The sun was setting and the sky colored deep orange as they sat. Enomoto lived in a small, two-story suburban house with a shallow roof close to the air base, in an area where many of the other residents were connected to it as well – civilian employees, intelligence personnel like Enomoto, a few American officers attached to the United States Air Force wing stationed at Sonohara. The September air was cool and a faint breeze blew across the roof and through the trees, gently rustling the leaves.

Iriya broke the chopsticks apart and scooped up a few noodles with them. She ate quietly and almost robotically, so much so that someone watching her might wonder whether she took any enjoyment from it at all. But, they were warm and the flavor was fine, at least.

"Why did you bring me here?", she asked between bites.

Enomoto finished slurping up some noodles and smiled. It wasn't exactly a warm smile, or at least, she didn't think so. But Enomoto was hard to read, even compared to other people.

"I thought I'd do something nice for you, believe it or not--", he answered. "--And when you have a ladder, you should eat cup noodles on the roof. It's one of my few principles."

She didn't say anything for a while, silently and methodically eating.

"...Because I flew sorties again?". It was Enomoto's turn to quietly eat a mouthful of noodles before finally answering.

"You always climbed up on the roofs at Tonopah, didn't you?", he said, ignoring her question. "Anyway, it's a nice sunset tonight."

They both finished their meal in silence after that. The wind had begun to pick up, the occasional strong gust rattling the tree branches as they looked out at the neighborhood. Sonohara was a small city, nestled in mountains, and outside of the downtown the high-rises quickly gave way to countryside, rows of suburban houses and stands of trees breaking up the fields.

Iriya drank the remaining broth and crumpled up the styrofoam cup. With the wind picking up it was liable to be blown off the roof if she set it down, and so she decided, lacking a better option without going back down the ladder and into the house to throw it and the chopsticks away, to put it in her school bag for now. Opening it up, she noticed the few blank paper sheets in it, and took one out before closing the bag again.

She thought back to the instructions. Fold two corners in at forty-five degrees. Fold again at about sixty degrees. Fold in half. Fold each side down at seventy-five degrees. Unfold.

Enomoto glanced over at her as she carefully folded up the sheet.

"Asaba showed me how it's made."

"Ah. I should've figured", he said, the cold-seeming smile on his face again. "I made them a lot when I was your age. Well, there's a reason I joined the Air Self-Defense Force over anything else. Once I spent all afternoon on the balcony of our apartment just seeing how far they'd go."

Sending airplanes up without any care in his mind for where they came down. Thinking about it that way, he hadn't changed a bit as an adult.

"...Why are you telling me this?".

"I can stop if you'd like". She nodded, turning it over in her hands.

"What is... The point of a paper airplane?". Enomoto crushed his empty cup of noodles and put it in the pocket of his suit jacket, letting her continue. "No matter what, it falls to the ground. The nose bends easily. Each time it hits the ground, it's bent out of shape and becomes harder to fold back. Until it's discarded."

He fished a pack of cigarettes and his lighter out of another pocket, pulling one out, lighting it, and taking a drag.

"What's the point of anything in this world, then?", he said. His expression seemed a bit darker now than the smirk he'd had on before. Enomoto glanced at her, seeing her nod in agreement, and he took another long drag of his cigarette, looking straight out again.

"You said Asaba showed you how to make paper airplanes, right?". The smirk was back once more. "Is that important to you? Say, come to think of it, you talk about him a lot at the base when you're off duty."

Iriya nodded again. "It's important...".

"Then, is that something that matters to you in this world?".

The wind had grown even stronger now, and the sky darker, and she stood up, ignoring Enomoto saying 'hey, careful' as she did. Iriya held the paper airplane between her thumb and index finger, the wind behind her buffeting it and making it seem to jump to life, twisting in her hand. She held it high, above her head, and smoothly flicked her wrist, releasing her fingers and letting it sail out over the street below.

The wind caught it as she let go, and a gust pushed it violently upwards, spiraling into the evening sky.

I wasn't sure when I was going to post again, but this idea struck me strongly enough that I had to hammer it out, and now that I have it I figure I may as well post it even if it's short and of uncertain quality.

I'd thought of the first part of the concept, Iriya and Enomoto eating noodles on the roof, a while ago – both of them seem to enjoy climbing up on roofs – but really didn't have anything else for it.

Recently however I read David McCullough's The Wright Brothers, and partly because for lack of anything better at hand I used as a bookmark a slip of paper that I found in the pages of the Iriya no Sora artbook I bought and which I assume is from the original sale of the book in Japan I was reminded even more of this series, also given its focus on aviation. It also made me think about how long it had been since I'd made a paper airplane, and so I did. Even looking at a pattern I misjudged the folds badly on my first attempt and it didn't fly, so I found more paper and tried again. It was still imperfect, but it flew at least. Quickly though I noticed how the nose crumpled each time it landed, and the other half of this story started to appear to me. A few days ago, I think Tuesday, the form of the story came to me fully, but it took me a little while to sit down and write it out.

I've thought a bit about why I've returned to Iriya no Sora so many times this year, and I'm not sure it's just because I enjoyed the series; it's good, but too flawed to be called a masterpiece, I struggled at times with writing the characters perhaps because the anime moves too quickly to flesh them out as much as they deserve, and I don't know whether or not I would care nearly so deeply about it if were more popular and I didn't have the feeling of 'I need to tell people about this, because they don't know about it'. For some reason though it's just become a mirror for my own frustrations I think; just generally a lack of hope here, and before that I guess feeling invisible and powerless, nostalgia for an irrecoverable past (in a story I didn't post here), and feeling trapped.

I've been feeling more hopeful the past few days – particularly for the state of the United States – so the idea came to me of ending on a slightly less purely nihilistic tone and I went with it. However, in some ways that only makes the story harsher. I feel it's worth pointing out (although if you've watched the series you may have noticed it and if you haven't it's a major spoiler) what Enomoto is doing here. While I think he does genuinely care about Iriya in a way – by the end of the series his guilty conscience for what he's had to do gets to the point where he's outright suicidal – his goal the entire series is to cynically create for Iriya something she cares about enough to fight and die for it, which is what he does here (and in canon) by reminding her about her feelings for Asaba. As always he's her handler, not her friend.
Last edited:


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
I wrote this back in July because I wanted to try and get back into the mindset for my character before we did a DnD oneshot, but never posted it. I wanted to hold off and cover more of Granya's backstory in RP when the campaign started again (we never really got around to talking about ourselves much in the couple of sessions we did in 2018) and didn't want to spoil it, but I'm not sure what the status of that is and I already mentioned some of her backstory that I hadn't talked about before on twitter a little while ago, so I decided I would now.

Granya slouched over the shop counter and sighed as the customer who'd just handed her a few gold coins for a set of porcelain plates closed the door.

As much as she enjoyed sailing it was always nice to be home... It was just that getting pressed in to tending the store the day after she got back wasn't much fun. It might be fine if there was at least something to do, but today had been slow and she'd been left doing not much else but sitting at the counter all day. It was a typical pleasant summer evening for Athkatla, warm, clear, and dry, with the sun surely still beating down outside as it began to set out to sea. The only issue was how stuffy the shop tended to get in weather like this.

She stood up again, glanced back at the paper bag she'd set on the floor, and couldn't help but grin. Sure, on hand she had once again spent way too much money on trinkets she'd happened to see at market in a foreign port – some magically-infused fireworks this time, which was an even dumber idea than the trick magic pen she'd picked up in Calimshan and which had not lasted for nearly long as advertised – but on the other it was totally going to be worth it.

"Hey Granya--", she turned to see her younger sister standing in the stairwell that led up to the house, "--mommy said she wants you to come chop vegetables for dinner and that me and Ciaran can mind the shop."

Granya frowned. She had fallen for Sive's pranks far too many times not to question her. "Wait, she wants you to? If this is a lie I'm not gonna to let you come watch when I set off those fireworks."

"She's not allowed to chop vegetables since last time she did she hurt herself playing with the knife", Ciaran said, appearing in the stairway behind Sive.

"Hey, you played with them too!", Sive said, turning to glare at him.

"Only because you kept asking me to play with you."

"...Really, you should just stop listening to her", Granya said, letting out a sigh and shrugging her shoulders. "Only gonna get you in trouble."

"She gets you with her pranks all the time Granya", Ciaran said. She winced. "Ehe... Yeah, well look, I learned my lesson, didn't I?".

She was about to go upstairs and leave Sive – who Ciaran hopefully would stop from causing any real trouble – at the counter when she heard the bells attached to the door ring and glanced over to the front of the shop, expecting to see a customer she could leave to her brother and sister. Instead, she saw a familiar face.

"Eithne!", she said, smiling and leaning over the counter. "I didn't know you were coming over. Don't you have your own place now?"

"Hey", Eithne replied, closing the door behind her. "You're gone so often these days. I had to pay a visit when I heard my kid sister was back."

"Oh, shut up. You can't call me your 'kid sister' when Sive exists". Eithne cracked a slight smile and Granya noticed Sive frown out of the corner of her eye.

"Granya!", she heard their mother shout from upstairs. "Didn't Sive tell you to come help with dinner?".

"Coming!", she shouted back. "Hey, Eithne's here! Hope there's enough food for everyone!", she added.

"Well if someone would come cut vegetables already. Oh, and tell her to wake your father up if he's still napping!".

"...Yeah. Ehe". She walked up the stairs with Eithne following her, stepping around Sive and Ciaran and into the kitchen, before grabbing a knife and starting to dice the carrots, onions, and tomatoes as her mother opened the stove and added another piece of firewood. Dinner that night was a simple meal of fish and vegetable rice, but it was a welcome thing to sit down to a meal with her whole family for the first time in months, and Granya silently said a few words of thanks to Selûne, the moon goddess, for the safe seas that had brought her and her father's ship home.

She watched the sun set from her room after dinner, leaning out the open dormer window on the third floor as it sunk below the horizon, past the docks and the seawall and out over the ocean, and leafed through a book in the waning light. She'd only made it through a few pages of the cheap adventure novel before the light had faded enough to make reading any more impractical and forced her to set it down on the nightstand, and soon after that the bright orange sky had become pale blue twilight.

Closing the window, stretching her arms, and pausing to clip her sheathed dagger to her belt, she made her way down the stairs again to the shop. She saw their mother help Ciaran and Sive just finishing closing it up for the night as she grabbed her bag of perhaps unwisely-stored fireworks from by the counter and smiled.

"...You two still want to see this?".

They both smiled, Sive in particularly grinning wildly.

"You learned how to use those before you bought them, right?", their mother asked. "You'd best be careful."

"Yeah, yeah. Something like that". Granya withered a little as Maeve stared directly back at her. She was never especially harsh, but it took a certain amount of toughness to raise four children, especially with a husband who was so often away at sea. "...Really, ok? Don't worry, I won't let Sive touch anything but the little sparklers."

Sive was glaring at her now too. Maeve sighed. "Don't stay out too long and be careful. Keep your knife with you."

"I know, I know--", Granya gestured at her belt. "--I've got it."

"Good girl". She stopped herself from rolling her eyes. Her mother was right about the knife, yes, but she'd already thought to take it herself. And really, she wasn't really a kid anymore, was she? She could hardly complain when she knew full well it came from a good place, but the compliment still felt a bit patronizing. Not that the world couldn't be a dangerous place, but she'd already seen enough to know it wasn't all bad.

"...Alright, c'mon then!", she said to Ciaran and Sive as she walked to the door and stepped out into the steadily cooling night air. Her two younger siblings followed her, their mother shouting for them to stay close to her as they walked. It was only a short distance from the three-story row-building, down broad but windy streets lined with stone oil lamps, to the riverbanks, where there sat a narrowish strip of grass, a rare thing to find in the city, sloping down to the water.

Granya set the bag down on the ground and looked inside. Conveniently the small collection of explosives included three handheld sparklers to go around. That, plus a rocket. She grinned, taking it out the rocket and glancing aside at Sive, who was looking at it in wonder.

She reached out and lightly flicked her forehead. "I'm really not gonna let you touch this one."

Her sister glared at her again, but she cut her off before she could protest. "Seriously, it's not someone to play around with if you don't know what you're doing."

"Do you know what you're doing, Granya?", she asked back.

"Yeah, pretty much. The guy I bought it from told me how it works". She thought back to the brief explanation on how use it safely, driving the stick it was tied to on into the dirt and waved Sive – Ciaran having already moved a safe distance from the two of them and the rocket – away as she struck a match, lit the fuse, and scampered away herself. She plopped down on the grass, a smile on her face and her eyes fixed on the burning wire.

It quickly reached the end, and with a satisfying bang the rocket popped off the stick and shot into the air, her eyes darting up to follow it as it briefly climbed high above the riverfront and exploded into thin trails of brilliant white fire.

"...See, isn't that awesome?". She looked over at the awe-struck looks on Ciaran and Sive's faces. "Too bad I couldn't afford any more of those."

She fished the three sparklers out of her paper bag, handing one to each of them. Ciaran raised an eyebrow.

"Do these explode too?".

Granya shook her head. "Nah, they just kinda sparkle. Just don't touch the flame or anything and they'll be safe."

Satisfied, he took it, and she lit another match, holding it up. "Alright, on three let's all light them, ok? One... Two...--", they all got ready to touch the wicks to the flame, "--Three!".

The string burned quickly and the sparklers came to life as Granya blew out the match, red sparks flickering and slowly turning orange. Sive quickly began to swish it around in front of her, grinning from ear to ear as the trails of light that followed the tip of the sparkler now turned from orange to yellow. Ciaran merely stared at his as it slowly burned.

Granya glanced down at her sparkler, only to see it barely turn orange before fizzling out in a puff of black smoke.

"...Seriously?!". She jiggled it a few times vainly hoping something might shake loose and it would relight, but to no avail, and she sighed, sitting down on the ground again and watching the sparks dance as Sive and Ciaran waved theirs around, colors passing from yellow to green and green to blue as they burned down. But she couldn't help herself from glancing down the river, thinking she could just barely see the last tiny bit of sunlight as it slipped into the sea and catching sight of the swaying masts in the lantern-light.

She took a deep breath, the faint smell of salt hanging in the air. It all made her think about the past two days and wonder what more there was to her restlessness than just the boredom of sitting behind a shop counter on a quiet day.

The sparkling light had faded all the way to a deep purple when she looked back at her brother and sister, before sputtering and flaming out entirely.

"Hey, Sive, Ciaran", she said, and they looked over their shoulders at her as she stood up. "I'm still thinking about it and I'll need to talk to mom and dad, but I think next time I head out to sea I might not come back home for a long while."

It didn't look like either of them knew how to answer. "...Come on, wouldn't you like it if you didn't have to worry about me ruining your schemes, Sive?", she teased, grinning. "Without me around to look after the two of you I'm sure Ciaran falls for them more often than not, right?".

Sive, who had looked genuinely a little sad, went back to her usual self, glaring at her and crossing her arms dramatically. "Fine, good riddance. Hmph."

"Sive!", Ciaran said, grabbing her shoulder.

"That's more like you, Sive!", Granya said, stifling a laugh. "...Well, anyway, I just think it would be nice to see as much of the world as I can, and I've gotta start somewhere. I'm not cut out for taking over the store when I'm older or anything. You guys can have it as far as I'm concerned."

She gathered up the paper bag and the expended sparklers. "Come on, let's get home before it gets any later, ok?".

"Oh, hey, I know", she said as they walked, grinning. "How about I promise that whenever I'm home next time I'll bring back more fireworks?".

I'd had the beginning of this scene in my head for a little while, but didn't have an idea for what the story was really about until I was sitting around on the Fourth of July like the night before the session seeing people complain about the fireworks on Discord and IRC and being able to hear and kind of see them from my bedroom window. I wrote the first half and then finished it a few days later after the idea for the ending came to me.

I'd decided Granya had siblings before this, but I also wanted to write it because I realized I hadn't thought at all about her relationship with them and it felt like a missing part of her character. I'd already written the first half before the one-shot and I realized after we played it that she basically treated LB's character the same way she treats her little sister here. The bartender also complimented her for being polite while a bunch of the other people in the inn were causing a commotion and I feel like that also kind of tracks with her having tended shop herself, lol.

I feel like I'm probably writing her life as being too comfortable for her living in a medieval fantasy setting here, even if her family is pretty solidly middle class and Athkatla from what I know is one of Faerûn's wealthiest cities. I don't know fireworks exist in the Forgotten Realms either and even if they did I don't know if Granya could afford them on a sailor's pay.

Also I'm sorry turb for the one time I guilt tripped you by saying that if I died in the campaign Granya's last words would be asking the rest of the party to bring fireworks back for Ciaran and Sive.


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
I haven't posted anything in too long, and I'm in a good mood and feel like posting something even though I should've been in bed ages ago, so here's the fifth of seven stories from the hastily written anthology I did for Halloween but still haven't put up anywhere in full. It's another story featuring my DnD character, but a modern AU this time. It could still sorta be considered a backstory spoiler but I dunno if anyone in the campaign minds being spoiled or if they even check this thread, so.

Dry fallen leaves crunched beneath their feet as they walked through the orchard under apple trees mostly picked clean of fruit, the dry fall chill in the air around them and the city skyline visible off in the distance from the hillside.

"...Yeah, there's barely any apples on this one either", her boyfriend said, looking over his shoulder. "How about over there?".

"Nope... Or, uh, none that I can reach. Ehe", Granya said. "Guess that's what you get going this late in the season". She shivered and plopped down on the ground by the tree, looking at the meager few apples in their bag.

"We could just buy some. They had plenty of apples at the store at the entrance."

"Yeah, that'd be smart... But we already paid for the bag so we need to get our money's worth", she said, letting out a sigh. "Braaaden... Why can't you be more than five six? I mean, I dunno if you'd be as cute, but maybe we'd actually be able to pick some if you were taller."

Braden frowned at her. "Or you could be taller than five two."

"...Yeah, I was asking for that, huh?". She looked up at the tree above her, then to the pile of leaves under it. "Alright, that's it. I'm gonna climb up and get some."

"Uh, you sure that's a good idea?", Braden asked as she stood up, checked the trunk for handholds, and started climbing it.

"Yeah yeah, I know what I'm doing."

Granya got a ways up and reached out, picking a few of the slightly overripe leftovers that hung up out of reach and stuffing them in the pockets of her dark gray college hoodie. There was one more attractive looking apple just barely within her reach, and she lost her balance as she stretched out her arm to grab it.

"...Damnit!". She tumbled out of the tree, falling flat in the pile of leaves that luckily softened the blow.

"Are you alright?!", Braden shouted, running over to her as she sat up.

"Aagh... Yeah, pretty much". She got to her feet, looking in her pockets to find that somehow the fruit she'd picked had survived the fall. She added them to the bag and picked it up. "Fine, I give up. Guess these are all the apples we're getting. It's too cold out today anyway."

"I'm glad your parents were fine with me staying over for the weekend", he said as they started walking. "And that they paid for the train tickets."

"I told my mom we could pay for our own tickets but she just insisted", Granya said, shrugging. "Oh yeah, speaking of, she was gonna make mulled cider tonight."

"I've never had it."

"Eh? Really? You know what it is at least, right?".

"Uh, sorta", Braden said.

"Well, you take some apple cider, take some spices, take an orange--", she started, "--stick some cloves in the orange, boil it all. Now there's something that's actually good about fall."

"Yeah, it sounds good. Hey, do you want to watch a movie or something tonight?".

"Sure, why not. Did you have one you wanted to?".

"Hmm... Well, what would you pick?", he asked.

"Ooh, how about Master and Commander?".

"...That would be the third time we've watched that together since we started going out."

"So? It's a good movie. Ok fine. Pirates of the Caribbean."

"Are all your movies about boats, Granya?".

"First of all--", she stopped and turned around, wagging her finger at Braden. "--They're about ships, not boats. Second, of course they are... Ok, compromise. The Hunt for Red October. That one is about a boat."

They started walking again. "Wouldn't a huge submarine be a ship too?".

"Nope! You see properly, all submarines are called boats and not ships, even if ...".

I'm always sad about how short things look when I post them here. Still, this is easily my favorite piece for the anthology. It wasn't completely off the cuff since I'd been thinking about this general idea for a while, but I'm glad I was able to get out about 650 words of pretty decent, I think, quality in an hour when I needed it.

I wanted a mix of spooky (since it was intended for Halloween) and just ambient fall stories for this and I'd been writing something else with Granya the night before, so I reached back for an idea I'd been considering writing but hadn't yet. I wanted to write a New England-y fall story, and since whatever I was going to write for that would be an AU anyway since everything I write for normally is either a Japanese setting or a completely fictional fantasy one, I decided I may as well do a modern AU of my own OC. I haven't exactly written a proper introduction for him, but Braden (who I will probably always regret giving such a zoomer white boy name) is a character from Granya's canon backstory.

It isn't specifically touched on here (I thought about mentioning "Boston" instead of "the city" in the first paragraph but it felt too... Reference-y? and self-indulgent) but my thought is that Modern AU!Granya is from Boston and currently going to college in New York, where she met Braden who is probably from there originally. Based on where she's from in her canon backstory, Athkatla, I thought of other possibilities (southerly in its continent, hedonistic reputation, port city, so Miami and New Orleans seemed like they'd fit), but self-indulgence and wanting to write what felt like a very classic New England fall scene won out. Plus, her name is very Irish, and there aren't many places (outside Ireland) more Irish than Boston, so I feel like it fits that way.

Ever since I saw the "I get us into trouble"/"I get us out of trouble" T-shirt meme for some reason I've been thinking a bit about the dynamic Granya has with other characters in that frame. I think she's probably one of the ones who get them out of trouble with the Calamari Carnival despite how reckless she is and she's neutral with her siblings (Sive is the one who gets them in to trouble and Ciaran and probably Eithne are the ones who get them out of trouble), but with Braden she's definitely the one who gets them into trouble. He wasn't a very fleshed out character at first but I'm starting to enjoy the dynamic they have.


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
Sometime in October it came up that people were really going to miss Halloween this year and so wanted to do something virtually for it and it was suggested that we do trick or treating and decorations in New Princeton like we did a few years back for it. I wrote an anthology of stories to give out for it, but it never really happened and it wasn't until like a month later that people were actually playing minecraft again so it just sat in my basement until then. I've meaning to post them all (besides the one I already put up here) but never got around to it for like two weeks until now.

1. Night of the Living Disciplinary Committee

Beep. Beep. Beep. The man waited patiently at the counter as Subaru rang up his items before handing him his receipt and change.

This part time job at a convenience store, out of the way to most Shin Ojimachi students, was, of course, technically against the school's code of conduct, and she had already saved up – and spent – the money she'd needed for the club trip to America to stay with Yasuko's family over the summer. But it wasn't likely anyone would catch her and it was good to have the extra cash, even if it meant working all evening until well after it was dark outside after school on a Saturday like she was tonight.

"Have a good one!", she shouted as he left with his bag. Behind him, she saw someone entering the store.

She immediately ducked behind the counter.

That hair down up in two buns. That protruding fang like she was come kind of moe anime character. That... Unusually short height for a first-year high school student.

It was Ruri Mugino. Chair of the school disciplinary committee.

If she got caught by her, she was done for. With her academic record, a violation like this might even get her expelled.

It would be the end for the minecart club.

Subaru sat behind the counter, frozen.

"That Mugino girl...!", she muttered under her breath. She shot a text to the boy who always worked this shift with her.

⟨ pls cover me ~(> <)~ that girls from my school if she sees me im getting expelled lol ⟩

She crept out from behind her cover, quickly crawling over and pausing at the end of a row of shelves. Subaru looked around the corner. The coast was clear.

Stepping out past the aisle, she thought to look to her right again and saw Mugino at the front of it.

She ducked back, pressing her back against the shelves.

"Do I need anything prepackaged?", Mugino mused. "Guess I probably don't". Subaru looked around the corner again and she had left. She crossed over to the next row of shelves.

"...This one has the really good tonkatsu sandwiches though."

Subaru held her breath as she heard Mugino walk down the aisle. Barely moving a muscle, she stayed fixed in place with her back to the shelves.

Mugino reached the end of the aisle, and Subaru suddenly remembered something.

They'd just reorganized, and if she wanted the tonkatsu sandwiches, Mugino would have to turn right.

"Good evening!", the boy at the counter said. "Do you need anything, miss?".

Not letting out her breath, Subaru flashed him a thumbs up and ducked around the corner, tiptoeing down the aisle towards the front of the store as Mugino instead looked to her left at the counter.

"Where'd you put the tonkatsu sandwiches? They used to be in this aisle I thought."

As he pointed them out to Mugino, Subaru slipped away out the front door and around the corner to the side of the building. Soon enough, she saw Mugino walk out with her plastic bag.

Somehow, she had managed to survive.

That Monday at school, the minecart club was scheduled to come before the student council for a review of its activities. As they stepped in to the room, Subaru noticed two things seemed off somehow.

First, the lights had been turned off, leaving only the waning afternoon sunlight streaming throught the windows to illuminate. Second, the only person at the council table was Ruri Mugino, sitting in the president's chair and steepling her fingers in front of her face like the president always did.

"Subaru Hashibami, sit down", she said. "Rest of you stand."

Uneasily, she took a seat. Mugino pushed two things across the table to her.

The first, a bowl of katsudon.

The second, two photos of her working the register in her convenience store uniform. Mugino cackled.

"What do you think your poor mother would think of this, Subaru Hashibami?".

I chose it to be the first story in the anthology, but this one was the second to last written out of the five I wrote on Halloween as I was scrambling to fill it out. It was inspired a tiny bit by watching Toadbert play spooky retail games on his birthday stream even though when he played Night of the Consumers it was so depressing that I had to quit the stream and go have a drink (though partly that was because I had a story I needed to work on anyway).

I doubt anyone remembers Ruri Mugino, let alone this one awkwardly written throwaway joke, but in Book 9, Track 3 of Rideable Minecart High School Subaru complains about her and mentions she dreamt Mugino found out about her against-the-rules part time job and interrogated her over it, which was the other inspiration for this story, which is presumably something like how Subaru's dream went. I went with a comedy-horror sort of vibe for it with Mugino as a "monster" stalking Subaru.

The katsudon thing – the cops offering it to a suspect and asking how their mother would feel about their alleged crime in hopes of guilting them into a confession – is a apparently a cliche in Japanese crime dramas. I only know this from Wikipedia and it showing up in The Devil is a Part-Timer, admittedly.

2. Kuromorimine im Oktober

One part of the reorganization of the Kuromorimine sensha-dō team following their defeat in the 63rd National Tournament, Maho had decided, would be to loosen up both their tactics, which had been proven inflexible in the face of more unorthodox strategies, and their team culture. It would help, she thought, for everyone, including her, to lighten up and enjoy sensha-dō more. That had been the reason behind the Kuromorimine Non-Alcoholic Beer Oktoberfest Party to, fittingly, mark the month of October.

The problems had begun almost immediately and had only continued to mount. When Miho was still a student here she had always handled this and so Maho had little experience with it. First, she'd had to procure large amounts of party supplies including food, the titular non-alcoholic beer, and dirndls.

The dirndls had maybe been a bridge too far she thought, but they had seemed to go over well with the other students at least.

Next, most of the attendees had arrived seeing a bit sullen. Apparently her announcement message, which she had written with characteristically economical language, hadn't made them expect a fun party.

The one last problem was just how riled up the attendees were getting. It was a party so an approrpiate amount of excitement was good, but this seemed like too much. She was starting to feel a tiny bit dizzy herself.

Maho felt someone grab her arm and saw Erika latching on it. Erika sometimes seemed a bit clingy with her, but not *literally* clingy. "Commandeeer--", she said, "--we were gonna do the national anthem, ok...?".

"Oh, umm, ok". She paused. "The national anthem of...?".

Erika doubled over laughing and Maho was able to disentangle her from her arm before she held her empty beer bottle up like a microphone and started singing. "...Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit...!".

Maho picked up her own bottle and squinted at the label. Reading, it everything made sense – ALK. 5.3% VOL.

If word of a mistake this big ever got out, her life as the Nishizumi family heir was over.

This was the last story written and at least to me seems fairly weak. I'd been thinking about Girls und Panzer a lot around the time I was working on the stories for the anthology and reading a few of the spinoff manga series a bit (which reminds me I really need to get back to reading Phase Erika) so it shows up a few times in it. A lot of the details in this one are cribbed from stuff that happens in the GuP spinoff manga series Ribbon Warrior and Motto Love Love Sakusen Desu!.

Given the school's theme, Erika would probably be singing one of the WWII-era marches Kuromorimine uses if she were singing a German song and would probably start with the now no longer used first and second stanzas if she were going to sing the Deutschlandlied, but I didn't want to use Nazi-era songs here and for some reason it's more entertaining to me to have her start out by singing about "unity and justice and freedom".

3. Twygz Ferryman

Gilbert Gottfried shuffled along the path, exhausted from the heat and from how long he had been walking through the barren plains of the hell. He had died long before making it to the mythical state of Oregon he dreamed of, and now he had been cast down into the underworld for his sins in life without even his faithful duck Aflac to accompany him.

It was a long way still before the River Twygz, from which point he would never be able to return.

He carried on, and at long last reached the ferry dock from where the lost souls departed for their final place of rest. It was said from ancient times that the boatman there who carried them across the river was themselves a cursed soul condemned to this place.

Gilbert saw the man standing wearily at the dock in his panama hat and Sonic the Hedgehog T-shirt.

4. Nook 'n' Gone

I always wanted to be able to load Animal Crossing from where you saved it. It's just so inconvenient sometimes logging off in the middle of something and then getting sent back to your house instead of being where you were when you saved. So I modded my Switch and I looked around until I found a mod online that let do it.

It worked well, and it really added to my enjoyment of the game to be able to log off where I wanted and still be there when I started playing again. Then, one night, I had just caught a full inventory of fish and went to sell them. When I was done, I saved the game.

When I loaded it again, I was locked in Nook’s Cranny.


A skeleton popped out.

Twgyz Ferryman was the second one I wrote on Halloween. The idea popped into my head and I needed filler and didn't want the entire anthology to be about anime girls, so I hammered it out in about half an hour in the afternoon and moved on; Nook 'n' Gone I wrote right after adapted from a creepypasta I mailed a bunch of people in Animal Crossing back in March and is another basically filler creepypata story. Both are very far from my usual style of writing which is probably why I don't care for either much, but I posted Twygz Ferryman on Turb's discord server when people were talking about creepypastas (and Cyberchase, and hence Gilbert Gottfried, was mentioned) and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

This is probably a reference at least some people will catch, but I took the title from how someone, I think Groden, referred to the river on the classic minecraft server Geofront that dropped you into the abyss as the River Twygz. I wasn't sure if that was how it was in classic creative or if it was just like that on Compilation but I asked Tb before posting and he said there was bedrock at the bottom on the original map.

5. Nautical Themes

This is the Granya story and along with its notes was already posted. The title wasn't mentioned though so since I am mentioning it now I'll say it's from a lyric in the They Might Be Giants song With The Dark, which I couldn't really tell you what it's supposed to be about because it's a They Might Be Giants song but the line itself ("I'm getting tired of all my nautical dreams / I'm getting tired of all my nautical themes") felt kind of applicable to the ending of the story.

6. Nishizumi School

Miho stretched her arms as she walked, humming a tune to herself. It was a beautiful day today, and after school she had decided to pay a visit to Koume's house.

Her and Koume Akaboshi had been friends for over a year now, since they'd started high school at Kuromorimine Girls Academy. They'd both joined the sensha-dō team, met, and quickly hit it off, and when Erika had challenged her to a duel for the position of Vice Commander, Koume had happily volunteered to be her second. And in the final match of the 62nd National Tournament, she had risked her own life, jumping into a raging river, to save the crew of Koume's stricken tank, even though it meant losing the match.

She knocked on the door, and Koume's mother answered, telling her Koume was in her room playing games. Miho climbed the stairs and knocked on the door.

"It's me."

"Come in, Miho", Koume answered. She opened the door to see her, controller in hand, playing a sensha-dō game.

"Are ya winning, Koume?".

Koume slumped over in her beanbag chair, and on the TV Miho saw her tank tumble down a riverbank.

"I'm not winning, Miho, I'm dead. You didn't save me."

Miho awoke in a cold sweat, safely in her bed. It was the middle of the night.

"...Just a dream."

On the walls around her were mementos from her sensha-dō career, symbols of success and failure.

Symbols of success. The trophy for the 62nd National Tournament, because she had been Vice Commander and hers had been the flag tank. The group photo after the match, because they had won, Kuromorimine's tenth title in a row.

Symbols of failure. The trophy for the 62nd National Tournament, because she had won by letting five classmates drown.

The group photo after the match, without Koume.

She laid down again. Such sacrifices were inevitable, her mother told her. The weak die. That is the Nishizumi School. It was comforting in a way. She was alive, so she wasn’t weak, right? So why did she feel so hurt and weak, and why did she still have nightmares about Koume?

Besides, she had to rest. Once again, there was sensha-dō practice in the morning.

This was the first story to be written, at some ungodly hour in the morning because I'd been thinking of doing a Halloween anthology and had been writing something else for Girls und Panzer and it suddenly came to me when I laid down to go to sleep and seemed at the time like a good enough idea to jump up and immediately jot it down in case I forgot it.

I'm not sure how well it really lands besides Turb mentioning he thought it was pretty sad when he read it, but despite starting out seeming like a creepypasta shitpost it's probably the closest thing to being actually scary in the whole book. In context I do feel like the final sentence has a certain kind of horror to it. Thinking about it I've been reminded of how as a kid watching the first Treehouse of Horror I always agreed with Bart and Lisa that The Raven wasn't scary and wondered how I would read it now. I finally went back and rewatched The Simpsons' rendition of it before posting this, and I do appreciate it more than I remember; it's both quietly frightening and absolutely hilarious at the same time.

Before I got to thinking about GuP again I didn't remember at all about Miho and Maho's mother, but Shiho Nishizumi is really not a good person or a good parent and a lot of the series hinges on how her, the Nishizumi family, and Kuromorimine perpetuate a toxic ideology that undergirds their style of sensha-dō, which is what the story ended up being about. For instance, I feel like pretty much everyone in the group watch hated Erika, but from reading some of Phase Erika her dislike of Miho and her anger over her actions in the 62nd National Final seems in no small part to be because of how she idolizes the Nishizumi style and doesn't feel like Miho lives up to it.

It wasn't intentional at first but arrangement and content of the anthology was kind of set around this story, with it subverting how the earlier stories used dream sequences and creepypasta setups and the story immediately preceding it being complete fluff. I was a bit torn and ended up deciding not to note it before the story here, but I didn't feel good about the deceptiveness though and so warned everyone I gave it to in minecraft about it.

Since I mentioned The Simpsons, on that subject I think the most memorable Simpsons quote to me is when Bleeding Gums Murphy told Lisa "The blues isn't about feeling better. It's about making other people feel WORSE", and I feel like that's sort of how I feel when I write angst. I mentioned this to Turb once and he said it sounded like Urobuchi logic and now I hate myself for it.

7. Kyubey Went Down to Georgia

Well Kyubey went down to Georgia, he was looking for a soul to steal. He was in a bind because he was way behind and he was willing to make a deal. Then he came across a young girl sawing on a fiddle and playing it hot, and Kyubey jumped up on a hickory stump and said "Girl let me tell you what."

"I guess you didn't know it but I'm a fiddle player too--", he continued, "--and if you care to take a dare I'll make a bet with you. Now you play pretty good fiddle girl but give the incubator his due; I'd bet a fiddle of gold against your soul because I think I'm better than you."

The girl said "Eh, w-what? ...Me? Hmm...".

"Madoka--", another girl said, taking her fiddle. "--That won't be necessary."


The girl turned to Kyubey. "...My name's Homura, and it might be a sin but I'll take your bet and you're gonna regret because I'm the best there's ever been."

Kyubey opened up his case and he said "I'll start this show". Fire flew from his fingertips--

"Eh? You don't have fingers, though...", Madoka said.

--as he rosined up his bow. And pulled that bow across the strings and it made an evil hiss, then a band of witches joined in and it sounded something like this;

[Super Mario Sunshine bonus level theme] Doo doo doo Do do DoDo Dddoo Ddoo Dddoo. Doo doo doo dddoo dooo dooo.

When Kyubey finished, Homura said "Well you're pretty good ol' son, but sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it's done."

Homura stepped out of the shade of a tree into the moonlit clearing, pushing her hair over her shoulder before starting to play. "...Kawashita yakusoku wasurenai yo / Me o toji tashikameru / Oshiyoseta yami furiharatte susumu yo."

"I don't understand", Kyubey said. He bowed his head because he knew that he'd been beat, and he laid that golden fiddle on the ground at Homura's feet.

Homura said "Kyubey, just come on back if you ever want to try again, I done told you once you son of a bitch that I'm best there's ever been."

And she played "Mezameta kokoro wa hashiridashita mirai o egaku tame / Muzukashii michi de tachidomatte mo / Sora wa kirei na aosa de itsumo mattete kureru / Dakara kowakunai / Mou nani ga atte mo kujikenai."

"Zutto ashita matte...".

Speaking of Gen Urobuchi. This sort of weird, reference-heavy kind of thing is what the sense of humor is in my writing unless I specifically keep myself in check (as you could see if you go back and look at my old awards presentations) and I always look back on it and cringe. Besides that, if you care, I wrote it the day before Halloween, again there's not a whole lot else I can say about it since it's pretty much just a play on The Devil Went Down to Georgia and so most of it isn't even my own writing.

I dunno why the Super Mario Sunshine bonus level theme just seemed like the most devilish music I could think of, but it was.


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
This is a Sora no Woto fic. There are some minor early series spoilers.

A proper military funeral deserves a bugler.

Tiny, Decent Things

It was springtime when Rio had taught her the song, not long after she had first arrived in Seize.

The afternoon that day was mild, with scattered clouds overhead, as she practiced in the fortress courtyard, Rio gruffly giving her instructions and pointers as she tried her best to make the sound come out right. She was still mastering some of the basic calls then, the ones she'd started to learn in boot camp that they dutifully played from dawn until dusk to keep the time. And by which, she'd learned soon after she first came to the fortress, the townspeople had over the years come to keep time by each day as well.

Finishing another disheartening attempt, where she just couldn't make her poor bugle do quite what her breath asked of it, Rio had stopped her again.

"Alright. Let's try another one."

Kanata lowered her bugle from her mouth, watching and listening carefully as Rio raised her own instrument. She closed her eyes and began to play, the tune steadily rising up and growing louder, reaching a peak with a flourish of notes and then trailing away, the notes growing longer and further apart – more sorrowful – until, finally, the sound faded entirely.

At first, Rio didn't say anything as she finished playing. She hadn't known Rio very long, and she struck Kanata as a fairly guarded, hard to read person, but she thought she was decent enough at reading people in general and something struck her as subtly off about her, in that moment and in the conversation that followed it.

"What's this call, Rio-senpai?".

Another beat passed silently, a light wind blowing the clouds across the sky.

"The Sonnerie aux Morts", Rio answered, her tone matter-of-fact but still more somber than usual for her, eyes turning to gaze upward off into the sky. "It's for mourning, more or less. Generally we'd play it for soldiers' funerals."

Kanata paused a moment herself, wondering what to say, if she should even say anything, before the words came out of her mouth. "...Have you played it before?".

Rio glanced away from the sky and back to her, a blank look on her face that seemed to say that yes, of course she'd played it before, at the very least just now and presumably many more times in her life to practice it. Or if not, that it was, as Kanata had realized herself as she said it, an inappropriate question to ask. But her expression soon softened a little, and she thought she saw a hint of pain on her face instead.

"Yeah--", she said. "--One time. I played it for a relative's funeral. She was a soldier too". Rio's composure quickly returned, but even at the time Kanata had a feeling what she said was a kind of white lie. "...It was a few years ago now. We weren't all that close."

Rio cleared her throat. "Anyway, you try it now, Kanata."

Kanata nodded, raising the instrument to her lips again, and started playing.

She was always someone who tried – more than trying, really, it was just in her nature – to keep her head up and never let things get to her too much if she could, but she found it harder than usual that evening. Even if there was only a ceasefire and not a peace, the reality of being a soldier could sometimes feel remote to her, especially in such a seemingly sleepy town as Seize – she had to remind herself it really wasn't so far away from the border at all – and especially as someone who had grown up far from the front lines.

It was the cusp of summertime now, the air hot and the skies clear and blue and the first of the summer vegetables in the fortress' garden growing ripe, and her playing had gotten better over the past few months. The townspeople had warmed up to her a little too, now that the bugle calls weren't so dreadful whenever she was on duty. She had a bit more confidence, less doubt to tarnish her natural optimism. For the most part.

Kanata hadn't really known the man who'd died, though she imagined they'd likely crossed paths at some point, another person she had passed by on the street, maybe greeting him before going along her own way or maybe just seeing him out of the corner of her eye. Even in a small town like Seize, it wasn't always true that everybody knew everybody, and she was a relative newcomer still, even if she had gotten settled in at the fortress by now. She had overheard a few people talking about it at the market when she went in to town to pick up supplies and hadn't been able to help listening in a little, about how he had lived alone and didn't seem to have any close relatives, reminisces about his modest eccentricities and old gossip. Someone she knew or not, her heart broke a little.

She wasn't quite inconspicuous in her uniform, and even if she had been off duty many of the people in town recognized her and knew she was a soldier. And so it was that one of the people she'd overheard had approached Kanata, while she waited for a shopkeeper to retrieve the supplies she'd come for, with a small request.

The boxes from the market unloaded from the car and put away, Kanata rapped on the door to the commander's office, tugging at the collar of her jacket. Hopefully it was about the time of year to switch out their uniforms for summer khakis.

"Come in", she heard Filicia answer. She opened the door and stepped inside, seeing Filicia at her desk with a few papers in front of her and Rio leaning against one of the open balcony doors, a soft, cool breeze blowing in through them.

"Ah, Kana-chan", Filicia greeted her. "Good afternoon. Did you need anything?".

"Mhm...--". She felt like she was forgetting something. "--Ah, the supplies have been acquisitioned and stored!".

"Thank you, Kana-chan", she answered, smiling warmly. "If that's all, you're free for the day."

"Actually, umm...--", she started, a bit uneasy as she tried to think of how best to say it. "--There was someone I ran into at the market while I was there who had a request... He had been talking with some other people about someone who passed away, and he told me he – the person who passed away, I mean – had been a soldier. And since he didn't seem to have any close relatives to mourn him he thought he at least deserved the proper military honors, so...".

Filicia nodded, her smile having faded as Kanata spoke. "I see. I'll make sure everything is arranged... Thank you for relaying that to me. Oh, did you happen to get his name?".

"Mhm... Francois-san... Oh, I didn't get his family name or where he lived though, but it was Bernard-san who lives by Naomi-san's glassware shop who talked to me, so if you ask him...".

She nodded again as Kanata trailed off. "That's fine, yes. I'll make sure of everything."

"Then...", Kanata said, giving a loose salute as Filicia looked down at her papers again. "I'll be going now". She turned to leave, but as she did Rio, who had been quietly contemplative as she spoke to the platoon's commander, finally spoke up.


Stopped in her tracks, she turned around again to face her.

"You've gotten better."

She paused for a moment before replying and smiled a little, for the first time since that morning, at the compliment. "...Thank you, Rio-senpai."

Once again she went to go, but before she could Rio continued.

"I think you should play the Sonnerie aux Morts for the funeral."

The smile left Kanata's face, and the peace of mind she felt at Rio's praise, and more importantly doing her small part to fulfill the request, was replaced by her lingering doubts. Even if she'd improved, and she could tell herself that she had, and even if Rio told her she had as well, she certainly still wasn't as good as she was. For the day-to-day calls, that was fine. She was happy just to be about good enough, especially when she was still improving day by day too. But she couldn't convince herself that her playing would be a suitable last honor.

"...I don't know", she said, looking down at her feet before her eyes darted up again to look at Rio. "Um... I think it would be better if you did, Rio-senpai. I haven't even practiced it much since you played it for me."

Rio stood up straight and walked over to her, passing Filicia's desk where the commander had again turned her attention away from her paperwork, and laid her hand on Kanata's shoulder. "You'll be fine, Kanata."

She glanced at the desk. "...Filicia-san?".

"If Rio thinks so it should be fine, right?", she said.

"Practice it a few times--", Rio said, her hand leaving her shoulder. "--If you really don't think you can, come tell me."

With that Rio stepped around her and exited the room, leaving them. Kanata stood awkwardly for a moment as Filicia gave her an encouraging look and then started writing.

"Well... I'll be going now too then, Filicia-san."

After she'd excused herself, she made her way to her quarters to retrieve her bugle and her book of sheet music before returning to the courtyard, standing under the shade of a tree near one corner as she spent a few minutes on her usual warm-up exercises. Stopping to take a breath and read the notes on the page, she thought back to how it had sounded when Rio played it, set the book down on the bench, and once again raised the mouthpiece to her lips.

She stood there practicing for some time, as the sun crossed the sky and eventually began to tinge the blue sky with splashes of orange and pink and the air cooled with the approach of evening, as Kureha strolled across the courtyard – pausing only a moment to listen to her playing before hurrying along when she finished the tune without saying a word – and, not an hour later, back and as Noël sleepily peeked out from behind a door before closing it and going on her way as well. Until finally, what must have been a few hours later, she plopped down on the ground and sat against the tree trunk, looking up at the sky through its leaves.

It would probably be dinner soon at this hour. She must have lost track of time and played it dozens of times, Kanata realized. And yet, each time she found she wasn't quite satisfied she'd gotten it right. She decided it would be best to sleep on it, but she'd already made up her mind what she would tell Rio tomorrow.

After an uneventfully pleasant meal and a short bath, she returned to her quarters, said a goodnight to Kureha, and turned in, pulling the sheets up over her head.

Kanata awoke the next day, as she always did, just before dawn. Kureha, as she always was, was still asleep in the bed across from her as she got up, quickly changed, and collected her bugle, sprawled out with her sheets kicked off her by her feet. She made her way up to the fortress walls, taking in the deep blue sky slowly beginning to fill with light, the air still cool before daybreak came and heated it, and, even if there was more weighing on her mind than usual, managed to smile before playing the morning's reveille.

After breakfast – during which Filicia had cheerfully announced her official order permitting the wearing of summer uniforms – and after she'd completed her morning duties, she went looking for Rio, soon finding her in the hangar conversing with Noël. Kanata approached her as they finished talking, Noël vanishing into one of the Takemikazuchi's open hatches and Rio looking over her shoulder at the sound of her footsteps on the concrete floor.


She nodded. "...I wanted to talk about the song."

They walked to the hangar's entrance, a dilapidated wall with much of the surface missing – including where Kanata imagined a set of massive doors may once have been, a long time ago – the rest covered in cracks and vines and in places only remaining as a skeleton of metal bars that once reinforced the concrete. Her and Rio stood by the gap, just within the area the similarly decaying roof shielded from the hot sun, and looked out at the towering cliffside not far away.

"Did you practice it yesterday like I told you?".

"Mhm. I did", Kanata answered. "But... I don't know if I should do it. I practiced a lot but never seemed to play it perfectly--", she glanced aside at Rio. "--I think you should play instead. I don't think I'm good enough to... Not for something like that. I'm sorry, Rio-senpai."

"It's fine. If you don't think you can yet it's not something to apologize for."

"Thank you."

"One thing though--". Rio turned to face her. "--I want you to play it for me."

"Eh? Um... Ok. Let me get my bugle."

Rio nodded as she hurried back to her room, returning with the instrument and her music. She read over the notes to make sure she had them right, closing the book and setting it down on a stray box inside before opening her case. Removing the bugle from it, she took a deep breath and began to play.

Listening quietly until after the last note faded away into nothing, Rio clapped as she finished.

"That's good, Kanata."

"...You think so?", she asked.

"Yeah". Rio stepped out into the sun, shielding her eyes with her hand. "Wait here."

Kanata waited as Rio left, sitting down on the floor by the wall and listening to birds chirping in the distance and a few clunks and thuds emanating from the Takemikazuchi as Noël worked at repairing something in the cockpit. Not long after, she returned, her trumpet in hand. After a few warm-ups, she paused, took a breath, and put her lips to the mouthpiece again before she began. The same beautiful sound, haunting as it trailed away and became quieter and quieter, that she remembered hearing that spring afternoon.

"How would you say that was?", Rio asked as she finished, lowering the instrument.

"...Wonderful. It sounded perfect."

"It wasn't", she replied bluntly. "I made a mistake. Did you hear it?".

She searched her mind, trying to replay the song in her head. "Uh... Oh, the first note was a tiny bit high, wasn't it?".

Rio nodded. "Yeah. I held it for too long, too. So it wasn't perfect, was it?".

"Yeah... I guess not", Kanata said. "But still... It sounded wonderful, Rio-senpai!".

"You... You really don't need to keep praising it so much", Rio said, glancing away and seeming a bit embarrassed. As usual, the break in her composure was swiftly mended. "It's easy to notice all your own mistakes. And it's not always bad to. That's part of how you grow. But focus on it too much, and you'll stop hearing the music as it is."

"When I played it for my--", there was a split-second pause in her voice, as if she wasn't sure what word to use, "--relative's funeral I wasn't as good at playing as I am now. I didn't think I was ready either". She looked directly at Kanata. "But I never would've been ready. So I had to just do it at some point. I think that's what the person who taught me would have said... Though maybe she would have been more gentle than me in saying it."

Rio started walking away. "Keep up your practice, Kanata."

Kanata took a deep breath and exhaled. "...Rio-senpai."

She stopped, looking back over her shoulder.

"I...", Kanata said. "I'll do it, Rio-senpai. I'll play."

A little smile came over Rio's face.

"Good luck. I'm sure you'll do fine."

Evening had come, the sky above them a deep gold that would soon fade to purple twilight. She hadn't been busy that afternoon after she'd spoken to Rio, and had been left alone with her thoughts as she practiced the Sonnerie aux Morts a few more times just to make sure she had it down as best she could. Rio's advice at least had calmed her nerves, and she'd had an easier time playing, dwelling less on her mistakes and trying to hear the music through them. Later, as afternoon turned to evening, Filicia had returned from town after having helped make the final arrangements for the funeral, and had talked her through the proper ceremony and what her responsibilities to it were.

It would be more proper for dress uniforms to be worn, but even a thorough search of the fortress had failed to turn any up. Standard uniforms, then, had to suffice, if only because they were at least somewhat more formal than khaki.

As they – in the end, every member of the platoon had decided to attend the service – drove in silence, Kanata thought of another piece of advice Rio had given her. It too had been not long after she had first arrived in Seize, when she had gotten sick and admitted to Rio how useless she'd felt.

"Just remember how much it hurt, how powerless it felt, and how happy you were to be protected--", she'd said then. "--And someday, when you're in a position to protect someone, it will help you."

She decided to keep it in mind as she played.

It didn't take long for them to arrive at the church. Still without a word, they ascended the steps of the church and passed through its doors, filing in and taking seats among mostly empty pews, only two other mourners present, people Kanata recognized from the conversation at the market the day before.

Soon the service began, with Yumina – one of the shrine maidens at the church – lighting incense and the priest saying the eulogy for Sergeant Francois Baten.

The priest called the pallbearers as he finished the eulogy and blessed the man with a posthumous name, and Filicia, Rio, and the two men from the market rose, with the priest leading them from the church to the cemetery as they raised the casket.

Kanata followed behind, solemnly watching at a distance with her bugle in hand at her side, as they lowered it next to the empty grave. Kureha and Noël folded the flag of Helvetia and laid it down on the casket, Rio fired three shots in salute, and finally, the flag was exchanged for a bouquet, Filicia presenting it to one of the mourners.

With all the other ceremonies done and the sky growing dark overhead, only her part remained as the casket was lowered into the earth. She took a deep breath, raising her bugle to her mouth.


I rewatched Sora no Woto last spring since I'd been thinking of a few old series that I'd always liked but which seemed to have faded from memory since they aired (if they attracted much attention at all) and absolutely loved it – I don't watch much anime these days and only watched a few (although one of them was marathoning all of Inuyasha, so, yeah) last year, probably half of which were rewatches, but I think I'd say it was the best non-movie anime I watched in 2020 – and I tend to feel kind of an obligation to write at least something for a show if I watch it.

This was an idea I thought of late last year that I never got around to working on despite every now and again feeling the urge to write it again, and as I tackle some of the stuff I have left over that I'd wanted to get around to before new year's but never did I decided it was time to sit down and hammer it out. I feel like I'd kind of lost the spark for it by the time I did (part of that I think is just that I fell out of the writing mood hard after getting pretty in to it for a few months last fall), and I wasn't sure I was really feeling this at first as I wrote it, but I think it turned out alright in the end.

I honestly didn't know much about bugle calls (on that note, I don't really know much about music at all, so the discussion of the craft of it here is probably a bit weak and I should've asked Marty or someone for pointers), and so I'd originally planned on the story being about Taps before I started researching for it and read about calls used by countries besides the US. The written language in Sora no Woto's setting seems to be French, so I went with the French military's Sonnerie aux Morts. Sora no Woto's setting is a very interesting mix of cultures, including religiously, with the dominant religion in the main cast's native Helvetia being a synthesis of Christian and Japanese beliefs that I tried to reflect with the details of the funeral service. The mention of "one of the shrine maidens at the church" comes off as a bit silly but makes some sense in that context, and I'm not sure "nun" (I forget if the official translation ever calls her a nun, but it's one of the words the series' wiki uses to describe her along with "miko") fits for Yumina because I don't know that her position is actually monastic.

I'm pretty sure I was inspired at least a little bit by the West Wing episode "In Excelsis Deo" for this. Also, I definitely started talking to myself a bit writing Rio's advice to Kanata at the end of the third scene. The title this time comes from a podcast interview I listened to a while ago – I don't really remember the full context or if it was a quotation of something, but that line by itself stuck with me.

One other small note since I'm not sure who besides me, Uniju, and Gamefreak has watched Sora no Woto; The "Takemikazuchi" mentioned here is the platoon's "tank" – actually more of a spider-legged mech.
Last edited:


🌻Ashita wa nanika ga kawaru ka na?
You may remember last year I announced a sequel to the popular series "Rideable Minecart High School" titled "Rideable Minecart High School Sunshine". Unfortunately due to a shortfall in subscriber revenue that project has been canceled, but I do have a new project to share with you. It's not exactly writing but for convenience and in appreciation for my longtime readers I'm posting it here for you to see first.

You've probably noticed recently that the passage of time hasn't seemed to make very much sense. I certainly have. And it can be a problem to not know what day it is. But what if someone else knew for you? Now, you're probably thinking, I already have clocks and stuff on my computer. But has that stopped you from losing track of time? Of course not.

Introducing Every Day in Oregon. Using the twitter platform, if you follow this account you'll receive daily notifications, featuring art specially licensed from Tb Ind., of what day it is in Oregon sent to you in your feed, at exactly 9:00 am Oregon time (noon eastern). Whatever you're doing, Every Day in Oregon will be there every day, in Oregon or anywhere else, to remind you of those iconic words;

"Also it's April 1".

We'll be launching, coincidentally, on April 1 this year, in just a few hours. Stay tuned for more updates on the new project!