Tonight would be a problematic night for Kagerou.
Full moons were never really the best for her. The extra strength, danmaku ability, and agility was nice, sure, but there weren’t too many people willing to have a danmaku fight randomly, especially if it was a werewolf on a full moon.
There was also the issue of how her hair grew longer, becoming a disorganized mess that she’d have to fix in the morning.
She sighed to herself, wandering boredly through the bamboo forest. She ran her fingers through her hair, hopelessly trying to keep it straightened out.
Her foot caught on something, and she slammed face-first into the floor.
Shaking off the impact, she flipped her hair back, and turned to see what she tripped over.
It was a creature she never recognized before, standing unfazed and staring right into her eyes.
A small, rotund, horned beast that came no higher than her ankles. The top half of its fur was green, the bottom half white. It didn’t make a single sound, but stared longingly at the werewolf.
A smile grew across her face.
“Aw, aren’t you just the cutest creature I’ve ever seen!”
She picked it up, finding it to have a pillowy texture.
“Just what are you… You look kind of familiar…”
Her eyes brightened up. She finally had something to do tonight!
“HEY HIIIIIIIIMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Kagerou howled across the misty lake. “I NEED YOUR HEEEEEEEEEEEELP!”
Her voice echoed across the lake and beyond, slightly stirring a sleeping Hong at the gates of the Scarlet Devil Mansion.
Waiting at the shores, the surface began to bubble. The mermaid Wakasagihime elegantly breeched the water, landing in front of the werewolf. She yawned, rubbing her eyes.
“I know you have a bunch of energy, but can’t you just wait until…”
The sleep gone from her eyes, she could clearly see Kagerou was carrying a strange creature.
“Aww… Did you bring me a little gift?”
She reached forward, placing her hand on it. It moved its head (Or what could be considered its head) against it, nuzzling. She retracted her hand.
“Oh, it’s alive??”
“Yeah, uh…” She rubbed her head. “Sorry about making you think I got you a gift… Shoulda been a bit more up front.”
“Well, what exactly is this creature?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know, and that’s why I wanted to ask you! I wanna figure out where this strange beast came from!”
Wakasagihime stared close at the smiling creature, illuminated well by the moonlight.
“I swear, it looks kind of familiar…”
“THAT’S WHAT I SAID! We’re like, on the same wavelength!”
“Maybe somebody in the human village knows. You could-”
She stared at Kagerou’s elongated, messy hair, and stared at the moon.
“The first person I WOULD ask would be miss Keine, but I think I’d spook too many villagers like this.”
“Well, there is one other person who can go into the human village for us!”
Just on the outskirts of the human village, slightly off the path to the town gate, was a small shack. It was pretty small, only enough to house one person, and it had all the amenities one needed inside.
Kagerou marched up to it, with Wakasagihime floating alongside. The mermaid had a big smile on her face as she carried the creature, happily stroking its fur.
The creature closed its eyes, snuggling further against her chest.
The werewolf pounded at the door excitedly.
There was a clattering inside, and their friend and third member of the Grassroots Youkai Network, Sekibanki, answered. Her iconic clothes covered her mouth, but her eyes were stained with exhaust and frustration. Even at the sight of her friends, they did not change.
“Ugh… I was having a really nice sleep too…”
“Emergency meeting!” said Kagerou. “We have a little mystery on our hands!”
She presented the strange creature. Wakasagihime was still lost in a trance, petting it.
Sekibanki stared at it, unamused.
“So Wakasagihime got a new pet?”
“No, well… It might as well be. She hasn’t let go if it since I showed it to her…”
“She’s so loving and sooooooft!” The mermaid beamed, giving the creature a long, gentle rub on the back.
“Well, I don’t know anything about it. What do you need me to do exactly?”
“Out of everyone in the village, I thought that Keine might have some kinda idea. She knows a lot about history, and maybe she has an idea on what it is?”
“Can’t this wait until morning? I always hear she has a bit of a short temper, and I don’t want to wake her up…”
“But what if it’s some new youkai discovery or something? I’m sure she’d be thrilled to learn about something new!”
Sekibanki sighed. “Well, I suppose there isn’t any harm in trying. I hope.”
She reached out her hands, taking the creature from the mermaid.
Feeling the fluffy fur, Seki felt her stresses and worries begin to melt away.
“Woah… It’s so… Soft…”
“It’s the best thing ever!” Wakasagihime exclaimed. “I really hope it isn’t secretly evil. That would just be too cruel!”
From beneath her coat, Seki cracked a smile. “We’ll figure this out, and I’ll get her back safe and sound. Don’t worry gals!”
The dullahan departed, entering the gates of the human village.
The mermaid and werewolf waited outside the gates for several minutes. Kagerou paced back and forth, wondering what was taking Sekibanki so long
Wakasagihime could not wait to get her hands on the creature again: Literally.
Kagerou was halted as the ground shook.
A plume of smoke blew up in the center of the human village.
“Oh dear…” Waka spoke. “I really hope that’s not related to Seki…”
From the village gate, they saw Sekibanki sprinting out as fast as she could.
“RUN! KEINES REAL PISSED OFF TONIGHT!” she screamed to her other friends.
The other two simply stared in shock as she approached closer and closer.
A massive plume of dust pursued their friend.
Seeing this, the two turned to run, but before they could, Seki had caught up, and crashed into them. They all tumbled together, falling into a pile of each other with the creature sitting soundly on top.
The plume of dusk caught up, standing right in front of the toppled youkai.
It was Keine, but she looked different. She sported horns, her dress was green, and her once blue hair had changed to a light green as well. She also has a large, fluffy tail.
She looked down at them with anger in her eyes, glaring at the creature.
“Wait a second…” Kagerou said, gears beginning to turn. “The creature looks like you miss Keine!”
Keine paused for a moment, taking a deep breath in, and out. Her demeanor became more relaxed, as she picked up the creature.
“Yes, it’s no coincidence. These are… part of the Hakutaku part of me.”
“Wait, you’re a youkai too?”
“Technically, one-thirtieth youkai. I only transform during the full moon, like you Kagerou. However, I have been having some troubles recently…”
She held up the creature, as the pile of youkai got back up to their feet.
“As is the case when I become more youkai-like, my hair becomes a bit uncontrollable.”
“Ugh, tell me about it!” Kagerou grabbed her hair. “This stuff is impossible to deal with, even the morning after.”
“This creature, what I call the Sukusuku, comes from my fur. Every morning after my tail sheds or loses fur, if too much of it clumps together, they form into… these. They’re becoming more of a pest than anything.”
Wakasagihime looked aghast. “How DARE you call such a precious creature a pest! Have you tried caring and petting them?”
“Yes, they are cute, but I need you to come with me…”
The trio followed Keine into the village. “Don’t worry, the villagers are aware of my hakutaku state. They will not panic if they see you together, too. I do business with youkai here all the time.”
They neared Keine’s schoolhouse, and she invited them in. Walking in and up to the bedroom, Keine opened up a sliding closet, revealing dozens upon dozens of Sukusuku. They were all stacked together in the closet, staring happily at the guests.
Wakasagihime shrieked in joy, as the other two stared in awe.
“They don’t need to eat or drink anything, they’re friendly, and I’m glad the one you found was friendly to you too. But they have been multiplying quite a bit every full moon. I think exponentially, the more together, the more my fur is attracted to them.”
“Why not just release them?” Seki asked. “Seems like an easy enough thing to do.”
“Because that would be wildly irresponsible. I’m unsure what flooding Gensokyo with a new creature would result in. I still would hate for anything bad to happen to them, and that lousy shrine maiden might just do that if she spots them en masse.”
Wakasagihime had leapt into the closet, snuggling with every sukusuku. Her joy rivaled all the celestials in Heaven.
“I think I got a good idea.” Said Kagerou. “Why not give them away to the humans?”
“That’s still irresponsible! I doubt they know how to properly care for a pet!”
“Well, you said they don’t eat or drink anything, they just… Vibe. Why not offer them, and give a teaching course on how to if needed?”
“Hmm…” The teacher tapped her chin. “They are very low maintenance… As long as the humans treat them fine, I don’t see any issue!”
The following morning, the Grasroots Youkai Network had set up a small booth in the market, and had a large basket full of sukusuku.
“COME GET YOUR VERY OWN HAKUTAKU! HAVE ALL THE POWER OF HISTORY IN THIS CUTE LITTLE FLUFFBALL!”