2020-05-19 - Uminari Matsuri: Cork guns cork guns!

From Battle Fantasia MUSH
Jump to: navigation, search
Uminari Matsuri: Cork guns cork guns!

Little guns, variably sized prizes. Come and shoot!!


Mami Tomoe, Fuu Hououji, Rei Hino, Kozue Kaoru, Hotaru Tomoe, Steven Universe, Ai Yamamoto, Tsuru, Nori Ankou


Uminari Matsuri

OOC - IC Date:

5/19/2020 - 08-29-15

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

This cork gun target shooting booth is decorated with flowing fabric around the sides, lined up with handpainted targets within. Each has a prize above its target, which varies from a nice little fan, a little stuffed animal, a big stuffed animal, some papers that might be coupons...

The friendly bullseyes on the targets are helpfully marked with water balloons, each at different elevations, some trickier than others, some much trickier than others, and...


A lot of the targets are already really damp, actually. And there's a small pile of prizes not in the booth, not behind it for stock, but just... next to it, on a little blanket. A few stuffed animals, a number of what appear to be coupons, a couple of nice little whatsits. They are currently next to one Mami Tomoe, who is leaning down to talk to a younger girl. "Just like that! And you aim carefully... make sure you only move your trigger finger..."

The booth is helpfully labelled as supported by Fujibayashi Computers, and while there are indeed a couple of computers back where the business is handled, they are all far, far away from the water balloons.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

This was not how Fuu expected her volunteer shift at the cork shooting gallery to go.

Fortunately, nobody in charge is going to blame *her* for a particularly crack shot of a high schooler coming by and running the proverbial table; doubly fortunate, because there's really no way for Fuu to either control the outcome or dissuade such an apt markswoman. All Fuu can do is collect payments, make sure the rifles are working as they ought to, hand out prizes, be ready to restock the shelves and reset the targets, and try not to stand too close to the balloons as they get popped.

She's rather enjoying watching Mami shoot, in fact, and Fuu watches as the sometime magical musketeer coaches the younger girl through how to aim, and how to shoot without throwing her own aim off. On the other hand, every balloon that's been popped is one that's going to need replacing ... at this rate, it's just more efficient to wait until they're either out of targets, or have a break from customers.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

There's always one more emergency some booth or another needs help with; most recently, a yakisoba stand ran out of sauce, and it took a girl flitting between booths to get them some emergency spot assistance from another source of delicious food.

That girl is of course Rei Hino, resident Fixer Of Problems and occasional Wise Tengu of Tokyo, though currently her beaked mask is sitting on the side of her head so that her face is visible. This is so she can snack on a boat full of that yakisoba, her blood-price for fixing all their problems. None of it falls on her bold red yukata, with its purple detailing down below and light blue trim up above, a yellow obi tied about her waist. Neither does it get in her flowing raven hair, because that's been tied back with a purple ribbon, the sort which perfectly matches the way that black mane highlights in the lantern-light.

She's just about done by the time Fujibayashi's cork-gun booth catches her eye -- or, more to the point, the girls attending it. She gravitates in to watch Mami instructing that child, and finds herself standing not so far away from Fuu, because Fuu seems good at standing where the water balloons won't reach. "Is everything going well here, Fuu-chan?" Rei asks, smiling to her fellow Archery Club associate. "It seems like you two are running a tight ship."

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Sweet - Persona 5 OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4mmz-GF0Lo

A famous model - or perhaps simply a consummate delinquent walks towards the booth, her journey always had an inevitable destination. Which may be fascinating to anyone who knows Kozue Kaoru as she's never displayed any interest in guns or Marksmanship.

Even when she had her powers as a HiME, she was decisively a different kind of combatant. Yet it is the direction she goes, taking one confident step at a time in her zori sandals.

She's still in her cyan and pink Yukata, an old traditional hairpin of a turtle dove and beads in her hair. Balanced in one hand is a partially eaten raspberry shaved ice. No extra love. A wooden spoon jammed into it, tilted to the side.

In another is an uneaten strawberry flavored shaved ice, with whipped cream mounded on top.

Her expression is one of cheerful whimsy, despite the fortune she received earlier tonight. Such thoughts are distant to her now, and for good reason.

Upon her arrival to the booth, she skirts the youthful shooter who is lined up here that the more veteran one is instructing. Instead she uses her elbow to nudge the fabric at the side of the booth aside. "Well I got you your whipped cream, and strawberry but..."

Kozue passes the shaved ice into Mami's hands the moment she reacts to her presence, "... funny story. The only crepes to be found were in Chu-Chu's stomach."

Leaning forward, her lips brush featherlight against Mami Tomoe's cheek; in the lightest possible peck before she withdraws and murmurs. "Gomen. I'm sure I can find some way to make it up to you..."

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Torment - Violet Evergarden OST https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCKHH9pq4aU

There's a shadow hovering at the fringes of the cork booth crowd. Too small to push her way through, too polite to ask others to make way, and too shy to do either in any case, Hotaru Tomoe stands behind several others. Occasionally she lifts herself onto her tiptoes to try to get a better look, but after the second time someone innocently knocks into her and her dubious-at-best balance is compromised, she stops trying that, too.

She isn't really dressed for a festival. Or for the summertime. Or in any other clothes than she's ever been seen in, ever, actually; the black leggings, tunic and flats are more frequently on her person than the Infinity Institute uniform, even during the school year. And stealing an older man's huge winter coat -- a dark, muted sort of green that's almost black itself, with some creamy lapels -- is sort of her signature move on the way out the door, and therefore her signature accessory. It's much, much too large for her, more like a cloak than a jacket.

As perhaps her singular nod to the sweltering heat, it isn't zipped up, for once, which further emphasizes how tiny she is. Not short for a twelve-year-old, but... if she was healthier, she might be gracefully lithe. She's a step up from skeleton instead, rail-thin, pathetically frail.

Another person bumps into her without seeing her, and even with her feet flat on the ground it's finally too much momentum for her frame to absorb, and down she goes. Sprawled, she's all too-sharp elbows and knees and a fall of heavy black hair across her face.

Her shoulders shudder. Did the shock of impact make her cry?

...maybe. But a fist on the dirty concrete is shuddering too, as she makes it, then pushes herself onto it, a low crouch.

She WON'T stay knocked down. She WILL get back up.

But... it's so crowded and so busy. Feet and legs everywhere, a whole secret, scary world of giants, ready to topple pale little pins beneath their notice. It's possible that she CAN'T return to her feet on her own -- every time she starts to rise, she flinches away from another near-miss, towards the dubious safety of the ground.

Still, she always tries again.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mami Tomoe: Threat or menace?

The blonde's characteristic drills catch the light of a lantern in passing; Mami is wearing a lovely yellow yukata with a rich red obi. Her delicate hands curl as she watches the girl before her shoot--And shoot she does! She gets one of the lower prizes, and Mami claps her hands lightly for her. "Wonderful!" Mami answers. "Fuu-chan there will take care of you," she says proudly of her newest student, and rises to regard the booth as more people begin to attend--but one in particular gets her attention first.

"Kozue-chan," Mami answers warmly, and puts out her hands to receive--ah. Cold? The surprise is evident in her honeyed eyes at first--before the explanation comes. "Ah, so Himemiya-san's friend is to blame..." A beat, as Mami 'hmmms' dramatically. "Somehow I think you will," she agrees after a moment, lifting up the treat in some satisfaction. "The whipped cream is the best part anyway."

She delicately samples the shaved ice to prove her point.. and then laughs faintly. Who would combine these? "I don't have to worry about it getting cold," she jokes. "Thank you."

Unfortunately, with her attention claimed by Kozue and the girl she just finished helping, Mami does not see small, frail Hotaru's difficulty. Instead she continues, "Oh, so I won us a few things while I was here, I just also..." She laughs faintly, gesturing to the booth to explain. "...Became entangled. They're all trying so hard, it's hard not to help."

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The pull of a trigger, the splash of a balloon, the winning of a prize. "Well done!" Fuu says cheerily. "That earns you a BitByte-Kun plushie, one moment -"

She ducks down behind the counter for a moment, then resurfaces with a box identical in design to the one that just got doused on the target board ... save of course that this box actually has a plushie in it, rather than being an empty package. Judging by the package, BitByte-Kun is designed to look like a computer - the monitor framing his face, a keyboard on his chest, etc. It's not expensive, and thereby not *big*, but it should make a nice little study companion on the corner of the girl's desk.

"Ah, Rei-san!" Fuu nods to the dark-haired shrine maiden. "A moment and I'll be with you, I need to get new targets up ..." Conveniently, there's a folding stepladder stashed nearby, and after making sure that all of the cork rifles are accounted for, Fuu climbs up and gets to work. "Things are going well enough, yes - ah, could you pass balloons up for me? Yasuda-san was trying to keep a supply filled and ready, they should be under that table ... but yes. I half-expected there'd be more issues than this."

If Kozue's flirting with Mami gets Fuu's attention, the bespectacled blonde doesn't trouble herself to get involved - although there's a *slight* blush tinting Fuu's cheeks after what she does see between them. And she can't get away from her duties in the booth to help poor Hotaru, if she caught sight of her in the first place.

What Fuu *does* notice, however, is the increase of traffic along the way. "Rei-san, could I trouble you to help direct traffic a little? One of the performances up the road must have just finished or something ... just until things slow down a little."

More traffic *could* mean more customers, too, and Fuu busies herself next with reloading the rifles, making sure they'll be ready for anyone who wants to put their money down and take a shot or three.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Where earlier was just preparing the booth Steven was helping at, but now it was time to enjoy some of the festivities! Though admittedly that fortune he had taken kinda... made him think a bit. Something about it felt...

Hm. Eh, best not to worry about it! It was just a booth anyway. A gaze to the sky. Right?

Steven has been wandering the festival now, looking for fun things to do, places to shop, and delicious foods to eat! He has been given an allowance to use this day as well from Greg and it is burning a hole in his Yukata!

Speaking of such, he is wearing his usual signature one, one of stylized multicolored pinks, falling to deeper, thought-provoking silvers farther down.

Actually, buying a new one here at the festival seems like a good use of money, maybe they are selling fancy ones here! But oh, where are his fashion sensible friends when he needs them? He can't just go pick one up just anywhere...!

But! Curious little pop sounds get the boy's attention, as he tries to scan through the crowd to find its source. "Fireworks? Naw. Popcorn? Eh." He tries to guess the source of the sound before arrival. He is unfortunately unable to guess, but is excited nonetheless! He practically leans over the booth front to get a better view. "Popguns! Excitement...!" he rasps, pearly whites gleaming in the light. "H-Hey ladies! I'll get in line! I wanna try!" he says, quickly huffing around the booth to find the spot to line up.

As he runs past a certain spot though, he swore he heard something in the crowd. Did someone take a tumble? A glance back at the booth. "Line can wait a moment," he says, as he starts to search the crowd around the side for signs of trouble...!

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Oh, of course!" Rei is in full helpful mode tonight, and so she goes to the table Fuu points out, and starts passing up balloons. She pops her yakisoba boat on the table before she does, of course, because handling noodles and water balloons at the same time is a recipe for disaster.

(And the Disaster Recipe Booth is doing its own thing over there, so Rei would hate to infringe on them.)

"Good management makes for a--ahh--" She pauses mid-balloon-pass when she spies Kozue and Mami, out of the corner of her eye, and suddenly her yukata isn't the only thing that's red. With a laugh that's just a little too forceful, Rei thrusts the balloon up, and finishes her sentence: "-- a good booth! It's no surprise!" She wasn't distracted by that gesture or anything it's fine shut up.

"I can help a while," Rei assures her, as she finishes hefting up balloons and straightens up to consider the traffic situation. She steps out, gesturing broadly...

And in her Announcer Voice, projects: "Please consider your fellow patrons while browsing! Move in an orderly fashion, thank you! Please allow others to walk down the centre of the path!" To a group of children lingering near the stand, she leans down, and asks: "Would you like to try the cork guns? Go ahead and approach the booth!"

It's from that perspective, hands on her knees, hair spilling over her shoulder and down along an arm, that she sees...

"Oh!" Down Hotaru goes, up, down, up -- a hand to her heart, and Rei steps over there, stands to the side of Hotaru where the patrons are pouring out from some performance or another. She is stubborn as a rock; they might be willing to shove past this wisp of a girl, but Rei is going to stand right here, and they can just part past her. Past her, around them; around her, and around Hotaru, too. "Hotaru-chan," Rei says, and her voice is softened by concern and it is not Loud Announcer Rei any more.

There's a hand lowered down to girl-height, but Rei doesn't pick Hotaru up.

She saw the way she kept trying to push herself up, and she saw that determination.

She'll just stand right here so people will stop knocking Hotaru over.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

As Kozue's lips break contact, her eyes sweep over Fuu and Rei and others besides - as if in challenge, or maybe she's just gloating. It's hard to say. Either way, it's clear that she wanted everyone to see that.

Kozue offers a tease to Mami's declaration that whipped cream is the best part, "Well, you would know. I'll have to set mine down for a while - I think I can only handle so much sweetness..."

Kozue moves to set her shaved ice down on the edge of the counter, as she does, a fingertip touches the cheek where she'd previously kissed Mami's cheek.


That light tap, withdrawn after, offers all the explanation she feels she needs.

It's notable that while Kozue certainly would save a baby bird from being crushed, that unfortunately she doesn't see Hotaru, so distracted by her own flirtations.

Kozue has a smile, a genuine one on her expression as she curls an arm around one of Mami's, and lets out a laugh, "Of course you did. You couldn't help yourself, could you?" While a tease, it's clear she's not making fun. Seemingly enjoy that Mami stepped aside to show off her prowess and tutor children.

"I suppose it can't be helped. Is there a line?" Kozue says as she slides her arm away from Mami's, though she notably doesn't go to the back of it, instead moving to the side of the child she's helping. Rather than some arbitrary line for the booth itself. "I'll need some pointers if I'm going to win you something on my own..."

Kozue then clears her throat, and asks Fuu, "Which targets for the stuffed animals Hououji-kun?" Despite her expressed need for pointers, she's certainly aiming high-!

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

The mind is willing, but the body is not, and the heart is also starting to take some bruises... with every passing person Hotaru is increasingly aware that she's IN THE WAY, and mortified by it. And that disarms her emotionally far more than the dirt she ground into her knees. Even though nobody has said anything, her shame is profound, and the little girl that Rei discovers has more blood in her face than ever seen before, and an edge of wildness further harshening the contours of her face -- the beginnings of panic.

She isn't actually aware of Rei's intervention until, indirectly, the staunched flow of the river of humanity gives her room to move, move to think; most of all, room to breathe. Looking from the older girl's hand to her own, she becomes suddenly aware of how filthy a few seconds of scrabbling around on the concrete has made her, and hastily scrubs off some debris on the side of her huge jacket.

Then she reaches out and takes it, and Rei comes to know something Chibi-Usa already knows: Hotaru's skin is very cold, even on a night like this. No wonder she's all bundled up. Paradoxically her pulse, thin and thready beneath the older girl's grasp, is overquick, so it's not like she lacks for circulation.

A valuable insight into Hotaru's home life is revealed, once the two of them are safely away from the main path and next to the cork gun booth:

Her palms hit her thighs hastily, and she bows almost double, and she apologizes. Rei will have to glean gratitude from the twin violet lamps which glow with an unusual softness in her tearstained face when she lifts it, after, because Hotaru has been taught not to burden people with her troubles. Not to burden them with... her.

And she means it, so sincerely, so earnestly. The shame reverberates in her voice, tightening it to a miserable squeak.

"I'm so sorry. I got in everyone's way. I-- I won't do it again... I promise..."

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"The lower targets are generally the smaller prizes," Fuu explains to Kozue, her smile now a *little* closer to the customer-service smile you'd find behind the counter at a classy department store. Just a little. "If you want a larger plushie, those would be further up, the second row from the top. Will you be taking one shot or three?"

Notably, she hasn't offered any of the cork-launching rifles to Kozue yet; she's also keeping count of how many younger kids are coming up to try their skills. Technically, Kozue *was* at the booth before any of this wave of youngsters, so if she wants to go next, as long as she doesn't hog the firing line all to herself ...

As for the cost, it's 100 yen for a single shot, 250 if someone decides to pay up front for three tries. Fuu collects money, returns change as necessary, and provides the popguns to customers who've paid and picked their shooting lane.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

One of the plushies in Mami's little victory pile is BitByte-kun, too. She's not even slightly a computer head but he's cute and he was there to be won. But the pile itself remains undisturbed for now as Mami herself is busy chatting with Kozue, staying at a close distance after after they start talking--and turning her face a little into Kozue's fingertip, a little bump of the cheek.

"I can always do with more," she answers slyly, "But there are other flavors to appreciate, I think." Mami's arm fits easily with Kozue's, comfortably even, as she explains herself. It's a tease, to be sre, and Mami is little embarrassed, but only a little. 'I couldn't', her little shrug and light expression says.

"Yes," Mami answers the next question. "We have a couple, even. And oh--lovely, I'll be more than happy to help you get a feel for it."

From here, smiling again to the girl, who claims her box and goes to show the prize off to a friend who apparently had some doubts as to whether she could get it--they chat amiably and both look at Mami as she turns. But there, Mami spots someone she didn't expect.

Mami's head turns, and she sees a particular arrival, her eyes widening with delighted surprise. "Hotaru-chan!" Mami greets effusively, and takes a step forward. "It's so lovely to see you! Ah, are you enjoying the festival?" Spotting Rei and how close she's standing, Mami surmises some of what may have happened. "Rei-chan," she greets as well, "Ah... Oh?"

Fuu's companion behind the booth comes out from around the counter behind to hand over the balloons very, very carefully to Fuu, as Mami gestures to the booth. "Would you like to try too?" Mami asks of Hotaru as she picks up an expended rifle and sets it back behind the counter to be replaced shortly. (She might help with that again too.)

"Not that I've forgotten your lesson," she assures Kozue as she looks over the kids there to make sure there's room for everyone coming. "But it's been quite a while, hasn't it?" to Hotaru.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Hotaru elects to take Rei's hand; Rei's fingers curl protectively around her, and up she goes, and Rei helps her to one side -- to the cork gun stand, since that's the closest. She squeezes it, gently, before she lets it go, as if the fire in her soul could somehow transmit through touch and warm her.

She doesn't mind the dirt from Hotaru, not really. No: she minds the cold, but not for what might seem like the obvious reason. Rather, that deathly chill is deathly concerning.

(But the way her eyes widened by fractions, before her fingers curled in -- it's not an expression she explains.)

Away from the crush of the crowd and Hotaru bends low over herself, and concern chimes new in Rei's mind because doesn't moving that sharply after that sort of experience make her dizzy? But it seems so important to her, the most important thing for her to address --

Anger is hot bile and it bubbles up Rei's throat quick as flash-fire; WHAT DO THEY DO TO THIS GIRL, all in capitals, THAT SHE NEEDS TO APOLOGISE FOR BEING HURT? But Rei has seen Hotaru's response to loudness, to sharpness, and with a heroic effort that flame erupts as a gasp instead of an exclamation; breath, only breath, drawn in as Rei puts hand to chest.

Except now she has to figure out how to spin that because she can't very well tell Hotaru she's about ready to find who that coat belongs to and --

"You're so thoughtful," Rei makes a heroic save, fingers splaying over the red of her yukata. Forcibly she calms herself; she smiles. "Please, consider it forgiven. It can be hard to move around in crowded festivals like these, can't it?"

Salvation comes to Rei in the form of MAMI TOMOE, the shining golden queen, and she turns to smile to her, too. "Mami-chan," Rei says, and there is affection for her, too. She offers a chance to Hotaru, and Rei clasps her hands together, with an encouraging: "Go for it, Hotaru-chan!"

If she can have a good time at a festival, maybe that will...

No, it definitely won't.

But Hotaru's situation has always been -- complex.

Tsuru walks over from Tokyo Bay.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kozue glances sidelong at Hotaru Tomoe as others greet her. The so-called girl who would destroy the world. Honestly one look is enough to discount the idea of it in her eyes. It feels absurd to think this awkward waifish girl could destroy even a full meal.

It either must be someone else, or the rumors are just wrong.

Though she instantly gestures Mami to go help her. "Oh don't worry - I can be patient. You should give Tomoe-chan some help first... Tomoe-chan."

As she rests her fingertips up against her cheek, looking amused.

And then her expression flickers over to Fuu at her statement, as she simply reaches into a purse draped on her arm, and slip out a bill.

A ten thousand yen bill.

And slides it over to Fuu. She notably doesn't ask for change. Though it doesn't feel like she's showing off. It's simply the smallest bill she has.

Taking the cork gun in hand, she picks it up, and tries to sight it down like she's seen Mami Tomoe holding a musket. With the plastic stock just in front of her shoulder, her left hand under the barrel, and her right holding the grip between that and the trigger, as she leans in her head to try and sight it down. "Hmmm. Maybe like..."

Notably her finger placement was all wrong, and she appears to be trying to readjust without much success, as if unconfident of it...

... it's not impossible though she's doing this on purpose though... as Kozue often has an ulterior motive.

Despite being in the middle of even attempting to hold it right though, she still has time to send an idle remark Rei's way. "You're so full of energy Hino-san. With you cheering her on - how could she miss?"

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Through the crowd Steven heads, having to brave the current of festival-goears. Thanfully, someone has already come to the rescue of the fallen. "Hey! Rei!" Steven says, his voice a decibel or two louder than normal, to be heard over the local ambient din of cheer and delight. "They okay?" he asks, tooking from Rei to the the frail young lady needing assistance.

Seeing that alls well that ends well, Steven heads his way back to the line himself a hand resting on his right cheek, pressing into it slightly and dragged downward. The boy feels like he is forgetting something suddenly. What could it be?

Steven falls back in line, pondering a dot of absent-mindedness in an otherwise fabulous day. Like a pixel went out on a television. Hum. The boy gets rather close to the booth again, eyeballing the prizes with a starry-eyed gaze.

The boy sees that the young lady that stumbled was called up rather quickly. "Yeah, shoot the target! Show no mercy!" Steven calls from behind the lines. "Hit it with a cork before it starts to wine! Hahah hah... ha. It's a wine joke."


The boy seems lost in thought for a small time. "...I-Is there wine in Japan?" he never really bothered looking.

<Pose Tracker> Ai Yamamoto [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Ai's been to festivals before. Small, tiny little village ones. But never one like anything in Tokyo. She's glad that she's been able to get some time away from the booth that her family is sponsoring, simply so that she can get a proper experience of the festival, instead of just working at the booth.

Some where she's also brought a slightly over-sized taiyaki filled with custard cream and also a salt-grilled aya, both of which she holds protectively in front of her, though she hasn't started to eat either. She'll most likely end up eating them later.

With both of her hands currently full and with her being too stubborn to put down her treats, she can only really spectate and cheer on the participants of the games. She's finally started to get close to the cork gun target booth, though pauses at another booth nearby and closely considers something there, before shaking her head and then starts to walk in the direction that she was travelling in.

She pauses for a moment when she spots Kozue's familiar face trying her luck with a cork gun, and other semi-familiar faces amongst those of strangers. She stiffens up for a moment, her breath catching as she stares into space for a moment as she considers what to do.

Another festival goer brushing past her quickly brings her back to reality, leaving her standing there looking sheepish.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Most of the shooters lined up at the booth just pay a hundred yen; one of the older boys plops a 500-yen coin down, and after a brief discussion, Fuu gives him 250 yen in change. Cork guns are handed out, and Fuu works her way back to Kozue -

And somehow, by magic or by science or by simple convegrgence of just the right factors, manages *not* to spit-take at the bill.

Ten thousand yen. All at once.

Kozue's going to get her change anyway ... but it takes Fuu a bit, and further conference with Kobayashi-san, one of the store's employees (or rather, one of its co-owners). Fuu's head is still all but spinning; who wanders around a festival with only relatively large bills? Without any coins?

"Ready! Take your positions ... pick your targets ..." Fuu makes sure she's clear of both the contestants' field of fire, and the splash zones of the current array of targets. "At will!" finishes Fuu.

It almost feels like she should have ear protection, even though she knows full well how quiet a cork popgun is.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Hotaru's world having transformed from a storm of thoughtless feet and legs, to the golden light of the booth and the girls in front of it -- all of them glow in the radiance of her gratitude and admiration, though one is forever first among equals as golden, and another she's horrified to realize is famous -- she sways a little on her feet; she needs a minute. Good attention is almost as unbearable as bad attention, and sometimes temporarily indistinguishable, as with Rei's alarming gasp.

Neglect would be easier than facing all of these beautiful, kind people. Simpler. Better for everyone else, certainly.

But... she has to.

After all, she was struggling to reach this place for a REASON.

"O-okay, Hino-san," she mumbles, and lets Rei usher her over to Mami.

Her eyes caress Mami's comically large pile of prizes, then lift to the ones still on the shelves, and finally move over to the Queen herself. Too shy to meet her eyes directly, they settle on her chin. Asked if she's enjoying the festival, she bobs her reply, almost a curtsy. Appropriate for royalty.

Asked something else...

"I, um," she stammers, "I don't... want to interrupt..."

In the endless void of space above her nose and below her crown, in the unrelenting cold, the vicious emptiness...




Flushing a little at Steven and Rei and Kozue's encouragement, she hastens to manage their expectations.

"I've never-- I probably can't...?"

This time the apology occupies her tone, instead of her vocabulary, but it's dolefully present all the same. She goes a little further, though, looking at all the space along the counter. She and Kozue only occupy a fragment of it.

"There's lots of room," Hotaru points out quietly.

Then they can do something other than watch HER. Yes, good.

Now that hopefully they're distracted, her hand sneaks out to explore the nearest rifle. This is an immediate disaster; her stance sucks, her grasp sucks, there's also the matter that she can barely LIFT it, even though it isn't very heavy at all.

When Fuu counts down, the pressure's on, and she immediately panics and pulls the trigger. A cork flies into the lower right-hand corner of the booth.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Hmhm," Mami answers Kozue, but smiles with appreciation--she certainly can't leave Hotaru to a gunless fate! So, "Not at all," Mami answers Hotaru with a hand briefly on Kozue's arm as she slides over back around the counter to near the front again.

The Queen of this particular castle doesn't ask Hotaru to stop and speak up--she gets the message, and that's good enough. "I was terrible at it my first time," Mami tells Hotaru conspiratorially. "I actually dropped it!"

But perhaps she has underestimated Hotaru's fear. Hotaru does get her wish for distraction, though Mami is coming to help. It's when Mami spots Ai, standing watching the booth, and waves at her with a small smile, encouraging her to come over with a little gesture. Here she starts looking over the grips of those present, including Kozue's initial effort, and...

Ptoo. Hotaru's shot goes wild, but the other kids who were here have variable results; none hit the bottom right corner, but a couple in fact hit prizes, including one of the older boys who has more shots.

There is indeed, especially now that the ones who only went for one shot have gone, plenty of room for anyone of the group who wants to come up, and Mami takes advantage of it.

She gives Kozue's grip an appraising look and then something amused, as if she recognizes the game--but she inclines her head a moment later because she's absolutely going to play it anyway. "Hmm, Kozue-chan. Want to see what I'm doing? Or should I show you?"

From here she closes the distance towards Hotaru, and picks up another of the rifles ready, and holds it a little low, showing the grip on it. "All right, Hotaru-chan. Would you believe that that's about how my first shot went, too? Back when I was younger." A beat, and then she adjusts her stance, "If you spread your feet apart like this, you can use your legs to help stay steady--that way you don't have to move while you're firing the shot."

She'll offer it to Hotaru, but if the other girl can't lift it on this try, Mami is happy to hold it up but let Hotaru have the driver's seat. "Try and put your hands like mine, here--" She takes the hand off the gun itself and curls it, showing Hotaru--and anyone else who looks--what she means. "Take your time; a late shot is better than a missed shot."

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

What happens when a girl who wears yukata daily goes to a summer festival? Does she wear Western clothes to make the day special?

It turns out she wears another yukata.

But while Tsuru's dailywear tends to be understated, often in white or a subdued shade of plum, her matsuri yukata is far more splendid. It is white, but a rich white, with a haze of golden thread suggesting the sheen of sun through branches. What branches, you ask? The purple patterning on the yukata forms negative space, carving the shapes of petals and tree limbs out of the white background, and thereby implying that places lacking the pattern are whited out by the sheer density of blossoms. At once this yukata is understated, with only a few tasteful patterns of purple breaching its pure white, and blissfully bountiful, as though representing layer after layer of plum blossoms in full bloom, so thick as to form a ceiling against the sky.

A similar purple shade of lipstick carves out the fully shape of her upper lip in detail, emphasizing the cupid's bow in the way of traditional Japanese makeup. Her lower lip has her trademark triangle-stripe marking only the center, its point downward. A drawstring bag dangles scenically from one long-fingered hand. The other carries a folded fan held against her chest.

Rather than speak above the din she finds herself in, Tsuru touches the fan to the inside of Nori's elbow to draw her attention, then indicates Kozue, there practicing with the rifle. She makes her way in that direction, Nori in tow, and waits next to Aohime until she is seen. Her gaze diverts, during this time, to Hotaru, whom she had not noticed on her approach, and lingers there, in the way adults watch children at play.

"Kozue," she greets when she is discovered, her voice a bit whisperish even at this volume. She has the sort of sunlit coolness that comes across so readily as warmth from her, perhaps owing to the attentiveness of her strange dark eyes. "I am glad to see you."

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Q: What's missing from AoAka's y-k-t line?

A: U aa.

Nori Ankou, naturally enough, is in the same moth-pattern yukata she has been all night. It is not quite as elegantly glamorous as Tsuru's, but it is a personal thing - perhaps the only thing, save utility clothing such as warm socks and a rain jacket, that she has kept that was not made by Tsuru.

She has had something in her hand, inside of a red-brocade pouch, which she has not yet revealed in full. It had to dry for a while, and then be wrapped in paper. Perhaps she will share it later.

Walking alongside Tsuru is a wonderful feeling, even if the delicacy of the other girl reminds Nori in that same subtle way that she is getting taller, even now. Somewhat more directly concerning is when her attention is drawn towards Kozue - whose held rifle makes Nori's eyes widen for just a moment, but *just* a moment, mind you, since of course it's a cork gun.

That's all.

Nori approaches, smiles to Fuu, and holds out one hand, turning it over and unfurling her fingers to reveal a 500 yen coin, held like it had been a pirate's doubloon. She slides it to finger and thumb and offers it direct. As she does this, she smiles, more quietly, to Mami, and then past her, with more curiosity, at Hotaru, even as Mami moves to arm her.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"The first try is rarely successful for anyone, Hotaru-san," Fuu says, both gently and reassuringly. "And you at least launched the cork in the right general direction; there are literally beginners who've done worse than that."

Popguns are easier than bows and arrows, on that front. Fuu may not have been *that* embarassingly inept when she first stood in an archery dojo, but she's likely borne witness to similarly ill-fated mishaps.

Mami is taking the coaching task in hand, so Fuu focuses on being the 'range boss' - collecting empty popguns, gently chivvying away those who only paid for one shot to make room for the newcomers, providing reloads for those who are taking multiple attempts. Naturally enough, Hoaru and Kozue are treated as 'paid for multiple attempts up front' - and if Hotaru didn't have the yen on-hand, well, surely Kozue meant to be so generous as to pay for her ... right?

"Steven-san, have you played games like this back in Beach City?" the blonde inquires of the young boy, finishing her pass along the firing line. She has to forestall his answer a little, though - making sure this line-up of shooters are ready, and giving them the 'clear to fire' signal again. Trying to do so less abruptly - she doesn't want to keep startling poor Hotaru. Or anybody else.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Nori's approach comes just at the right moment to include her in the latest line-up; a stack of three coins - two 100-yen and a 50 - are placed on the counter with Nori's popgun. Fuu doesn't want to start encouraging *six* tries in a row ... but if anyone is taht stubbornly determined, they can always refuse to walk away with their change.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kozue eyes Fuu as she wanders off to make change, and simply shrugs as he brings her back a pile of coins. What is she going to do with all these coins? She simply leaves them on the counter where Fuu left them. It's not so much her being charitable though. Perhaps its a down payment if she doesn't succeed. Perhaps fortunately for Ai, Kozue seems distracted, and hasn't seen her yet.

Kozue continues holding her corkgun in that position, making small adjustments. And when Fuu tells them to take their positions, pick their targets...

'At will.'

"Bang." Kozue sounds out drily, without actually pulling the trigger.

It's not that she's too cowardly to try it, it's simply that she specifically desires to solicit Mami's expert instruction. She's not going to pretend to be confident at sharpshooting when she's here with someone who could probably shoot the wings off a fly from a few hundred meters away.

Kozue does watch Hotaru's shot go wide though, though she doesn't wince sympathetically. She doesn't really hold any stock in the idea of beginner's luck, so it goes about as she expected.

"Don't worry. You have the best possible sensei." She offers in reassurance, "You can only improve with her instruction."

Though as Mami asks that question, "I won't be satisfied unless you show me..." Kozue says, as she shamelessly stays right where she is, waiting for her before she's even willing to take the first shot. "... I've been standing here waiting patiently for a one on one lesson." She even sounds like she's pouting a little.

Still trying experimentally to aim the gun when Tsuru walks up, Kozue turns her head, "Ah. Tsuru-san. I didn't know you were coming. At our shows its always us that stand out... now though..." She smiles at her, behind the stock of the gun which is still pointed forward, her head only slightly tilted as if to take in the sight of her in her exquisite Yukata, her traditional makeup, "... it looks like festivals are your time to upstage us. You're going to make me jealous..."

Though it's then that she notices Nori taking her place along the line. Suddenly she's feeling a little competitive... "And I see you brought Nori-chan. People are going to get ideas if we're both spotted at this booth..."

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"It's okay, Steven," Rei assures another small boy, at his approach. "Come on over!"

In one sense Rei realises what mixed messages she must be sending; in another sense, she remains oblivious. There are girls who are teaching her the intricacies of this dance, certainly, but the big secret anyone who's been at Ohtori long enough knows is that Rei Hino...

... is not actually good at intricate social dances.

What Rei does recognise is hunger: to try or prevail, it hardly matters which. She does hear her uncertainty, though, and perhaps it's a mercy that Rei's reply doesn't come directly to Hotaru. It might have -- but there's Kozue, and so Rei rejoins, to Aohime: "It's about having fun!"

Note: that's not QUITE 'hitting the targets doesn't matter'.

For Rei Hino, being the best at all things is fun, so obviously it's good to hit the targets.

... but she gives a little nuance to her enthusiasm in the light of Hotaru 'has she ever even gone to PE Class?' Tomoe.

"You should really try getting excited about something sometime," she advises Kozue, as she watches her trying to figure out the gun. This is, mercifully, time she's not spending watching Hotaru. "Even you might have fun!"

But unfortunately, instead of winning, there is only wining.

Rei smiled at the joke, and she smiles when Hotaru's shot goes wide; but one smile is amused, and the other is encouraging. "Don't worry," she assures Hotaru, "Mami-chan will take care of you!"

Hotaru is summarily protected from further REI ENCOURAGEMENT by two things.

One: the transfer student shows up! Rei waves to Ai, who she has seen about campus but has never really spoken to.


Just like there is a wide spectrum to smiles so too is there variation in gasps, as Rei gasps to see the wonder of Tsuru's yukata. "O-oh -- Tsuru-san --" Rei stammers for a moment before she realises that she's absolutely leaving herself open for Kozue to tease her, and waves a hand, with an awkward laugh. "I won't gush! But," fingers quirking, with a smile, "it's lovely to see you out. Are you having fun with Nori-chan?"

<Pose Tracker> Ai Yamamoto [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Ai waves her ayu back to Mami and Rei after the wave. The rural girl shifts from foot to foot, but doesn't approach at first as she glances down the line of stalls. She then considers the two snacks that she's carrying, and then makes her way in the direction of the other blonde, the other unfamiliar Ohtori girl and Mami's marksmanship students.

She also blinks in surprise when she spots Fuu being the range boss, and tilts her head to the side. She offers a wave of that salted ayu to Fuu and Steven, too.

"Hello Mami-san and Fuu-San" she greets in a slightly softer tone than she'd usually use around campus or in quieter areas, as she might be a little overwhelmed by the crowds. Though she does offer her usual bright smile. She offers a friendly smile towards Rei, too, having seen her around the school campus a few times. "Hi. I'm Ai. You go to Ohtori, too, right?"

She doesn't interrupt Kozue, as she's talking with Nori and Tsuru. So she keeps her attention on those nearby.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Hotaru's first instinct, after taking such a bad shot, is to just give up. Her face can't flush much more than it already has, but now her lips tremble and her brow clenches and she lets her hair swing forward to provide a privacy screen for her eyes.

She struggles. Struggles silently, with easily-readable childish disappointment that elides a much deeper and more profound lifetime of relentless and merciless bad luck.

Such a life would make anyone assume they can never win at anything, be they twelve, twenty one or a hundred and twenty one.

She puts down the rifle and prepares to back away from it -- the last thing she wants is to waste anyone's time, or... or MONEY, it's only just sunk in that Kozue paid her share, and she gives the famed bluenette a brief, wide-eyed stare. The kind of big eyes that belong in a horror film, right before the monster strikes.

But -- BUT --

Mami is there, and everyone else too, encouraging her to keep trying. Even Kozue, whose money is on the line.

She is a softhearted person, which is to say that her heart is the powder of a bone-dry desert. Watered with even a little kindness... how can it fail to flower? And this isn't a little bit of rain, it's a full on shower from virtually every direction.

She swallows and nods, bows quiet gratitude.

And, her hands shaking, she moves to mimic Mami, who she's suddenly attending with an entirely unchildlike focus. There's nothing sweet or gentle about her eyes as they absorb the iconic senpai's instructions and example. There's almost nothing human.

She is unaware of the arrival and observation of more people, which is, let's be frank, probably for the best.

She is unaware of anything but Mami's closeness, as, when indeed she is unable a second time to lift the point properly, the two of them have cause to work in tandem along a single rifle. Her hand curls in cute miniature of Mami's, as it slides onto the trigger.

Her breathing slows... then merges with the other girl's.

And she SHOOTS --

-- and misses.

Hotaru stares down at the counter, blind with distress. She bites the inside of her cheek -- hard. She's not a baby. She will not cry.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Fingers are pressed white on the booth edge as Steven watches Hotaru fire. "Oh! She cut off the target's escape route now! That was a warning shot!" He says. He seesm really all about this booth! And Hotaru's shooting.

Fuu speaking up grabs his attention away from her, possibly to her relief. "Huh? Oh, naw! Well, sort of? I played this game one time where you like, squirted water into a clown's mout hand it filled up this balloon, and the first one to pop it won. Does that count?" he asks.

Different yes, but they do both involve novelty guns!

At Rei's beckoning, Steven practically phases through the crwod somehow in that way precocious scamps weave through them. "Oh man! Is there some kind of special training involved?!" he asks her. As well, someone new is nearby! Steven looks up toward Ai. "Are you here to shoot the corks too?" he asks, just ready to burst with excitement.

Even more people are arriving! Including Nori and that very nice serene lady, Tsuru! "Oh wow, this booth is gettin' popular! Its got a strong flow. I can feel it," he adds, matter-of-factly with a firm nod.

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Tsuru's eyelids and shoulders briefly dip to acknowledge Kozue's compliments, though both actions are done more fully and deliberately than is common social currency these days. "Only if they know you can will they care when you do not," she tells Kozue and Rei, with a brief sparkle of indulgence in her eyes. But her posture and affect remain so passive, as though the popguns were a museum exhibit requiring respectful distance.

"I could ask no more agreeable companion, Hino-san." A smaller bow now, half in Nori's direction. The purple lipstick defining the exact borders of her pale upper lip make it a tiny bit more obvious when she is smiling.

"And Hino-san, and Kozue?" Her lashes flicker with interest. "Are you playing to have fun, or to win a prize?"

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mami smiles without looking at 'Bang', quietly amused. It's helpful that the girl actually intending to help the booth is able to keep track of everything while Mami's busy with her 'students' though, and Mami smiles at Fuu briefly, too. But for Kozue...

She wouldn't hve expected certain kind words from her; the one she gets re the ones that make sense to her, and Mami is not about to comment on her own capacity to teach. Instead she offers, "I'll have to put in extra effort to be sure I teach you properly then."

She focuses, then--Tsuru arrives, but Mami is standing with Hotaru then, breathing starting to match the other girl's. She keeps the rifle held up, albeit not from her usual perch entirely behind it, and waits. Hotaru shoots--

There's something gentle in Mami's honey-gold eyes as she sees that Hotaru missed, or senses before she sees it really. It's warm, and calm, and it shows in her tone of voice, too. "That was a very good try," Mami says gently. "You found the quiet and focused on the shot; that's most of what it is, right there. You just need a chance to feel for where the cork goes." She smiles, and gently helps lower that particular rifle to be changed out. "How about I show you this time? You still have one more try when you're ready! Just see how Kozue-chan does it." Mami too is a softhearted person.

She smiles, and this time steps the opposite way, to move around to the other side of Kozue, smiling at Nori and Tsuru as she does. "Nori-chan, and Tsuru-san," she says, and the second is only technically a guess because the descriptions of the designer are very specific. She's already spotted Rei, who gets another smile, and Ai approaches. "Ai-san! Feel free to try the game." Then a beat, "May I borrow her for a moment?"

Mami steps behind Kozue, much closer, arm reaching over her arm to gently adjust the angle at which she holds the rifle, slides over her hand with deft fingers to adjust the position of her grip. "Like... this," Mami shows, and helps Kozue with the position of her rifle, too. "There's a certain amount of relaxation in it," she explains. She... might be helping aim. Maybe. A little. But Mami certainly shows a willing to stay close as she looks past Kozue's shoulder at the target. "And then you just... squeeze the trigger with your finger."

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nori sweeps up her change and slides it into her bag, nodding once. She doesn't immediately leap into action.

To Kozue, Nori says, "It's true... they'll wonder if this is a preview. Perhaps an atelier, or a festival-themed line...?" At this point, Nori takes a moment to fiddle with the strap on another thing she'd gotten recently - a new model smartwatch/fitness tracker with a nice red heart on it. That isn't AkaMira either.

Though it could be.

It's not NOT AkaMira.

Nori raises up the popgun and admires it for a moment. Past there, she sees Hotaru; she sees Hotaru fire; she can see, or perhaps smell, the nearness of sorrow.

Nori Ankou raises the gun and takes aim.

Pose-wise this is immaculate.

However: Nori realizes after about a second that she has never shot anything beyond a squirt gun in her life, and that she has, rays of unlight notwithstanding, no idea exactly how you do it.


Nori hits the back wall of the stall.

Not a target.

Nori nods once, says to herself, "So that's how it is, then," and asks Tsuru, "Would you like to take the other two shots?"

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kozue actually laughs as Tsuru says that, her shoulder shaking as the gun quivers from the motion of it. It was in that moment she heard it, that she felt a distinct sense of yearning.

Nostalgic, greedy for these moments where she offers her wisdom. Perhaps she was not gone for so long, and had no perception of time's passage, but it doesn't mean there were not things she missed. "Is that so? Maybe we shouldn't have held our Gala just after the New Year then..."

Given what happened at it, it feels like a kind of dark humor, but still good humor.

Tsuru then asks that question, and Kozue actually drops the muzzle of the gun, "Oh there's plenty of fun to be had, but mostly I'm trying to win a prize for my date."

Her lip quirks into a smile, as she eyes Nori out of the corner of her eye, "She's amassed such a large pile on her own, but I feel the need to complete it..."

And as Mami approaches to ask if she can borrow her, she notes, "And here she is now..."

As Mami positions herself behind her, Kozue leans her head back, just enough that her head brushes against one of those golden ringlets. Her head turned just enough that it's like her eyelashes might butterfly kiss the skin of her cheek. And yet, she gives her full access to her hands, not playing around in that respect. "Oh? Like...?" Her breath pulses out once to skim across her lips.

And then she simply turns her eyes forward, as if reluctant to yield the proximity from one activity to that of instruction. Yet she straightens up with her instruction, her fingers sliding into position, as she sights down the rifle.

Fingertip brushes over knuckle, yukata fabric of their sleeves making contact, as she smiles. "Oh? So all I have to do is relax? I'm good at that..." And indeed she is, she doesn't seem tense, nervous at all. Like she's wholly secure in what will happen, outcome wise. One way or another...

Mami positions the rifle and she doesn't appear to notice.


And the next time someone calls. 'At will!'

She does so, with a simple twitch of her finger against the relaxed steadiness of Mami's instruction. The cork pops off explosively and...

... smacks the target two rows from the back with an audible ping.

"Well - would you look at that? Tradition says you owe me a kiss..." Before Mami can respond though, Kozue turns herself just enough to give Mami the kiss, rather than the other way around. Leaning in and brushing her lips briefly over the other girl's feminine mouth. As contact breaks, she whispers, "... I was never a traditional kind of girl..."

And it's also that she simply knows, there is no such thing as beginner's luck. In the end it was truly Mami's shot to make, so it is her that owes the kiss.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Yamamoto-san, right?" Rei asks Ai, which, in itself, is its own confirmation: now Usagi's gotten to her, Ohtori is the very last holdout of Last Name Address, for Rei Hino. "I hope you're enjoying the festival! Did you have ones like these, where you came from..?"

(Well, tell a lie. There's at least two holdouts of Last Name Address, but Ai is unlikely to be involved in politics.)

"I'm glad the festival's treating you well," Rei says, with infinite grace which she always had shut up, to Tsuru. "Ah -- well, as for me..."

Rei might have dived into competing against Kozue, here, except that she's turned to look to the blunette and found Mami helpfully instructing her.

And Hotaru, whose shots keep going wide... is without aid.

"Maybe in a bit," she concludes, as she steps over to that girl with bird-hollow bones. Looking over to the targets, she asks: "Hotaru-chan, how's it going? You know, I'm a bit of an archer myself... maybe I can help."

Guns: they're just arrows which cheat, probably?

She helps her steady the gun, though she doesn't meddle with her trigger finger. "It's all about mindset," Rei shares, gently. "You want to be calm, when you're shooting. Breathe deeply, and slowly. Don't think too hard about it. Just aim -- and let it go."

A moment passes. Rei can't help but laugh at herself a little, when she realises what she's said. "Eheheh... I mean, pull the trigger." Because she's talking about a gun. Right. Logical!

Luckily, helping Hotaru means she's not paying attention to Kozue. This is best for everyone involved.

<Pose Tracker> Ai Yamamoto [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Ai considers the game, and then Steven, then the treats that she holds. "I would, but I promised I'd get snacks after I went to the toilet," she comments. "Which was about an hour ago. I got really lost. And distracted." She gives a sheepish look again.

She shakes her head at Mami's offer and smiles. "Thanks, but I really should go make certain Mio doesn't destroy the booth when I find it. I've also been gone longer than five minutes. I might try to sneak away later when my Uncle turns up!"

She then glances back towards Rei and nods her head. "Yes, that's me. Oh, we had a festival in my village. It was nothing like this. This one is a lot of fun." She takes a couple of steps back, and glances down the line of booths and stalls, trying to figure out which way she came from again. Though she does stop, holds the salted fish in her mouth and quickly answers a text.

She offers a wave of her fingers, and quickly starts to walk off. Unfortunately it's in the direction she came from, and most likely she's going to get herself lost again.

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Rather, I would best like to watch Nori take the other two shots," Tsuru replies peacefully. "If they still find your fancy."

She is also watching Hotaru Tomoe. The other traditional Japanese girl present is off to assist. No, one of the two--Tsuru glances at Ai upon the word 'village'. Whether Tsuru would assisted in lieu of Rei is unclear, but she is very good at staying in one spot. It can be reassuring or disconcerting.

Another Tomoe is here as well, with Aohime. Daintily but familiarly assisting her form. Kozue is more familiar still, and, in true Aohime spirit, rewards herself for her victory. Tsuru discreetly looks away, though there is no sign of shyness in her while she does so.

"She's beautiful," Tsuru observes to Nori thoughtfully. "Exquisitely so, is she not? The girl with Blue Princess."

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Mami's patience douses the smoldering coals of Hotaru's frustration. Her cheek slowly undimples -- her breathing restarts, still unconsciously matching her mentor's -- and she even manages a tiny, though not entirely convincing, smile.

If nothing else, she is finally relaxed enough to not be so preoccupied with her own failures as to appreciate someone else's success. And even if she never hits anything, Mami's tutelage is unquestionably that.

"Thank you," she whispers to the older Tomoe, as she departs. "I will."

And... she does. Or at least... she tries.

But something about what passes between Mami and Kozue makes her feel a little bit uncomfortable; instinctively aware that maybe she SHOULDN'T be watching, though she isn't quite sure why, she tries first to focus on the rifle and not the bodies cradling it, and then on the running commentary. By the time it's all over she's put most of her focus into studiously not observing anything. Or, possibly, into studiously looking like she isn't observing anything.

(Kids can occasionally be difficult to read in that way.)

A bit crestfallen at her own failure to concentrate, she dreads the third and final shot.

"I don't... want to let her down," she whispers, fisting her hands in her coat. That's the problem with people believing in her. The story always ends the same way.

Somebody always gets hurt.

Rei's approach is somewhat like the drumbeat of the executioner. That thought cheers her, paradoxically, and she perks up a little as the shrine maiden positions the gun. At the help, sure, but mostly because of her active inner life which has suddenly envisioned the targets as criminals sentenced to the firing squad. Justice has already been done, to bring them to this place. Her duty is not to mete out ideals, but death.

And if she misses... that just means it was their fate not to die this day. The gods will have ordained their innocence, by sparing them at her hand. She will be an instrument of mercy.

She does EXACTLY what Mami helped her, showed her, told her to do, further reinforced by Rei's giggling advice. But, her laughter is joggling the gun.

"Shh," she hisses, unexpectedly severe.

But then, this is serious business.

Life and death dangle in the balance.


For a split second, Hotaru looks oddly crestfallen at her own success. A strange, innocent grief crosses her face, fiercely felt.

It passes so quickly that it's easy to imagine it was never there. Rei can feel the girl next to her start to vibrate with shock, shock fast transforming into raw, unbridled joy. It pours through the booth like the sun suddenly bucking all convention to U-turn above the horizon. It's such a small thing, bursting a balloon, to create such a pure and honest happiness.

Hotaru is not loud in victory, but silent, as one should be in the presence of a miracle.

But her expression is repayment for the free-flowing kindnesses given her this day.


<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Ah, good luck!" Mami offers Ai, and a concerned look at the talk of it being an hour ago. But there are a few concerns she has that she didn't.... entirely think through.

Mami can keep her composure to line up a shot with Kozue practically in her arms, this is within her power. Her head remains turned just a little, but Mami is indeed happy to give a lesson not quite cheek to cheek. The words and the relaxation involved, these too are simple. She can feel the breathing of her charge as she positions the rifle, and there--fire. Mami starts to smile, Kozue noticing it first because she can't see and doesn't have to--until she moves, that is. The Golden Queen in her element might've answered--

But instead Kozue kisses her, and she hadn't planned for the whole display to be quite what it was, quite hard to watch, and she hadn't planned this. But Kozue never was a traditional kind of girl.

So, with her victory and her prize, Mami stiffens--barely perceptible with her great posture, but Kozue can feel the little twitch of fingers on her hand as the girl with the drill ringlets turns bright red as their lips part. "A-ah," she starts, and calmly steps just a little back, her body obeying her composure much more readily than her face. "Ye...s," Mami answers her, conscious of just how steaming she feels like her cheeks are.

It is in this moment of gathering herself that she sees Rei and Hotaru before her, sees that bit of joy, and distantly hears voices from others that she can't entirely put together.

"That's--!" Mami pauses, then, and surreptitiously picks back up her shaved ice with extra whipped cream. "Y-yes, I'm glad. That was perfect," she says, and that part at least is even to Hotaru.

She gives Kozue a look in the next that is fairly well smitten, and looks away to start in on her snack. The person manning the booth with Fuu smiles, because it might finally mean the end of a certain gunner's reign of balloon terror...

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nori nearly drops her gun when she sees Kozue giving Mami almost as much of a kiss as it is possible to give another person while still vertical.

She recovers herself. Her shoulders roll a little back into true. She looks at Mami with momentary concern.

Nori answers Tsuru, softly. "Yes," she says. "I can only say, I come near, thanks to you."

Her eyes turn up, to see the back of Mami as she tenses, then relaxes, in a different register. Her deep blue eyes flick a couple of times towards nothing in particular, and then she turns to take her second shot.

It's a glancing blow. There is no satisfying POP.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Shh!, Hotaru chastises Rei, and Rei, in recognition of this excellent chastisement, shushes. All's the better, because she is about to witness... a miracle.

"Ah--!" Rei's happiness is at first something which wants to be loud, but -- she modulates herself. "You got it," she beams to Hotaru, instead, more calm, in echo of her earlier encouragement. "Great job, Hotaru-chan."

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Tsuru considers that answer, and the blonde it refers to, for a moment. Enough time for Kozue to scandalize her into an honorary member of Akai Mirai, if she is not already. Tsuru tucks her fan into her obi, then taps it in twice with her fingertip.

"Then," she says simply. "Come near."

She dips her head slightly, in preemptive obligation.

"The night is not over, and I am not weary. We have seen enough, for now, of popguns and fireflies."