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Devon Yu agreed with Danika, and created a team to work on not only the support system for the pirates, but additional materials that would require shipping outside of spacial enchantments.

His own suggestion was a 'heavy water' that wouldn't be a nuclear power source, but that would be a magical one that might be used in the steampunk movement later. He didn't want it to dissolve into nothing either, just to have its power absorbed by the enchanted space.

--

When Danika finished work, she skipped her exercises for once, and hurried to get ready to meet Mei at the train station.

Before she left she also messaged SaltySiamese: "I can't meet up tonight, but you can test a theory I have, and if it works you can start gathering the materials without me. You have your archery high enough that you can shoot arrows with string attached to them accurately right? I already checked, and suction cup arrows that can hold up to 10 kilos already exist. And your cat form is less than that, so we should be able to pull you up to the next step if you can hit it. You just need a strong enough string that you can shoot with. I think about 18 kilometers of it if you can't reuse it, or you want to leave the string path in place."

She almost arrived at the train station later than Mei, but a stranger assisted her at the gate, and she made it just in time. It reminded her that there were at least as many kind people in the world as there were troublesome ones.

Shinichi had showed her the photos that people from the restaurant where they'd first met her father together had posted, when she'd asked why there hadn't been a scandal already. Apparently she and her father weren't very photogenic, because they'd been cropped out every time, and all of the posts focused exclusively on Shinichi.

She suspected that no one who was trying to make money off of celebrity photos had caught up to them yet. Mei waved frantically when she caught sight of her cousin, and Danika grinned and waved back once, and then waited for her to push through the crowds.

Mei was a little taken aback that they were taking public transportation to Shinichi's place. "Seriously? He actually lives somewhere that you can just walk up to?" she questioned incredulously.

"From the outside it seemed like a pretty normal apartment building. It's just divided up differently, and even has a pool on the roof," Danika explained laughingly.

"That's not even very unusual Danika," Mei complained. "Tons of middle class places have things like that. Ugh, I haven't even seen it yet, and you've already killed most of my expectations!"

Danika grinned and suggested, "Then stop asking about it and just look around for yourself when we get there."

--

The Jade Emperor reduced the size of the Empire even further in order to make the copy in the space that had been created apart from the Empire. The space he had already emptied of ships and stories held only a single silver cat when he finished. It was perhaps ironic that he could create a copy of the cat when he could not access the data contained by it himself.

He had only been able to access the space by using the path of a celestial dragon, because even the Jade Emperor could not directly place himself into the expansion test area. He was as careful as possible as he absorbed the King of Cats. He made sure to keep every fragment, because he didn't know where the information he sought was stored.

There was only emptiness where there should have been something. He exited the space the same way he'd come, but the copy's functions were either still limited to the expansion test area, or needed access to something that he didn't have.

When he returned to the Jade Palace, the King of Cats asked, "Can you see the door now?"

"No," the Emperor answered simply. "I may require the original."

The King of Cats commented as he vanished, "Rude."

--

When they arrived, Danika hesitated briefly, and then approached the front entrance at ground level. When Mei gave her a look, she explained, "I've only come by car, and we went in from the garage, but Shinichi showed me this entrance on our tour of the place."

"They're not going to let you in without him," Mei predicted dourly.

They were both a little shocked when the key that Shinichi had given her activated a scan at the door that resulted in a quiet announcement as the doors opened, "Welcome home Danika Belova, and guest."

"Um, okay, maybe it's fancier than it looks," Mei said nervously.

"Yeah," Danika agreed. "There was nothing like that at the parking garage entrance."

She half expected the door to comment like her celestial dragon assistant might, but it didn't, and they entered quietly. Danika was relieved when she accurately remembered the way to the correct door. It helped that there were only two others on this level, and it was the only one down the long hall past the elevators.

At the door she hesitated again. She wasn't sure if she should knock. She glanced at her cousin, and thought of how Shinichi always entered her place now without any hesitation, and gathered up her courage.

The door opened almost silently, so she called out as she rolled through, "We're here!"

Ryuske's voice answered immediately from below, "Welcome back, Shinichi's late, but we don't have to wait on him if you're hungry."

Danika waited until Mei had followed her through and shut the door. Then she gestured for her cousin to position herself beside her chair, and pressed the button that lowered them to the first floor. She grinned when Mei gasped and exclaimed, "Wow!"

"Cool right?" Danika asked.

"When are you moving in?" Mei asked jokingly.

Ryuske was waiting for them beside the kitchen counter, and Danika glanced at him before answering. He just grinned at her and raised his eyebrows inquisitively. Danika blushed.

"I was just joking," Mei said quickly.

"I know, but I mean…" Danika replied nervously. She shrugged and told them both after a moment, "I don't know. In some ways it would be really convenient to do it right away, but that's so…" she hesitated again. They both gazed at her with surprise, and she said quickly, "This is my cousin Miyazaki Mei, as I'm sure you've guessed. And this is Shinichi's dad, Kobayashi Ryuske."

Mei held up a hand and tossed, "Pardon my rudeness for a moment," toward Ryuske, before exclaiming as the elevator finished settling, "Danika!"

Danika flinched. Mei had been so doubtful of her relationship with Shinichi, that she was certain that Mei was about to protest her admitting that she was already thinking of moving in.

"What gives?" Mei demanded. "That's so what? Improper? Improper for who? I swear, if you're holding back because of what aunt Hati will say, I'll smack you!"

Danika stared at her cousin open mouthed for a long second, startled by her seemingly lightning speed about face. Then she swallowed and glanced at Ryuske again. He grinned at her and protested, "Don't look at me! I see nothing improper about it, and I'll only benefit from you moving in!"

"Benefit?" Danika asked blankly.

Mei turned and grinned at Ryuske like they were long-time co-conspirators, while Ryuske replied with gentle amusement, "Well, for one, he's been home almost a week now, and I've seen him twice for a few minutes?"

Danika's blush renewed, and she apologized, "I'm sorry."

"Don't be," Ryuske said quickly. "I'm glad for both of you, but I mean it. You're welcome any time."

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About the author

gusdefrog

Bio: I'm not actually a frog... but frogs are cool! They have tiny little hands! And some frogs can even fly (glide)! ...and my name isn't actually Gus, but I've been wearing it long enough that it is?

Since beginning to lose my vision, I've been writing to replace the creating I used to do as drawing and painting.

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