Yuki Sonoda was having trouble concentrating on the lesson. The old, semi-senile teacher was droning on about some war which wasn't even mentionned anywhere in the history book, and most of the class was ignoring him anyway, passing little notes and playing games on small portable consoles.

Yuki was a good student, and usually tried to pay attention, but today she had way too many internal distractions. Thoughts of the shy blonde American swirled in her head. His sketchbook. The drawings. The voice on the phone. The girl in the store...

And Asako and Mami, sitting on either side of her, were certainly not helping, with their constant knowing looks and little whispers. She only managed to catch a few words from the teacher every now and then, like-

"<...and then Draegos announced, 'the rivers will run red with necrophile blood!', to which Tragic Bill replied, ...>"

Yuki blinked. Why did those names seem so *familiar*? She checked the book in front of her, but of course it didn't contain anything even remotely resembling the teacher's ramblings.

At that moment, a note saying, "<What was it like when he kissed you? -A.>" landed on her desk. With a small snort, she uncapped her pen and began an annoyed response.


Across the street from Shirtsou Daitou, there was a small cafe. Seated at one of the tables was a scruffy-looking gaijin, completely unremarkable except for his light blonde hair. Sipping a milkshake, he idly checked the time every now and then. At the foot of his chair sat a slightly battered bookbag.


The front gate of the Temple of Ping swung open majestically. A visitor entered, and, as first-time visitors tend to, he stopped and gawked.

The Temple of Ping took their name just as seriously as the Church of Miho did, although not quite in the same way. They developped a system of philosophy based around the contemplation of the true nature of the robot girl (and her fondness of pie in particular). They liked to use small electronic gadgets as accessories, in the manner of the famous "earblade thingies". And, since they had a Temple, they filled it with murals depicting Ping in all aspects of her cute glory.

The particular piece opposite the entrance had been entitled "Ping flood", and its effect on the unwary viewer was much like the effect of its namesake on computers.

The stranger stood and gawked for a while, until a polite cough interrupted him. Sabyr, the Pilgrim, and an important teacher of the Way of Ping, smiled at him. "Welcome, brother", he said. "Have you come to join us, or maybe to learn about the Blessed One?"

"Good morn to you, good sir", the visitor replied. "I have other allegiances, I'm afraid, but the nature of Ping-chan intrigues me. I wish to know... about her emotions."

Sabyr's face lit up in a smile. "Then you will find no better place, and no better person to talk to. Come, let us walk in the garden", he said, indicating a side door.

The stranger nodded, delighted, turned away from the mural and followed the Pingfan.

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