Blessed Harvest
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"Shuren! The kids say they'll be here in a small hour!"

"Ou! I'm almost finished here!"

Shuren went back to his harvesting, steady and firm as he had always been. He thought of topics to discuss with his children, things that they would be interested in. Meiyun would be the hardest to approach, as always. As the eldest sibling, Meiyun got tired of the life on a rice farm faster than the other four, and had set off to the big city's University. Shuren thought himself lucky that Meiyun did not extend her distaste for the farm towards her parents, having agreed to a reunion once per year. Meiyun's siblings, except for the youngest, had all left the nest. They would all be coming to the reunion as well.

Shuren turned around to the next row, his boots sinking and rising through the mud. He bent down and started collecting another bundle of rice. He was 54 now, but every breath continued filling him with energy. Pluck, step, pluck. His harvest would be great again this year. He never knew what caused the upturn in harvest when he had taken over the farm. He thought it may have been the seeds, or maybe the water, but his wife always said it was just his love for the rice. So he gave his heartfelt thanks during every meal - although he prayed to nobody in particular.

Next row. Another deep breath. A breeze blew against his heated face.


Hanying peeled her eyes away from her husband. She worked beside him most days, falling a little behind to get a better look. But today she was inside, making a meal for the whole family. None of their children had grown to be picky eaters, but she would still make a great variety for the occasion. She had gone all the way to the market for today and bought enough to fill two baskets. With this much, she would still have some leftovers to experiment with in the coming months.

She turned her thoughts to the duck, securing it inside her husband's custom stove. Months ago, she had only been thinking of making this dish, but Shuren had caught on and made the stove within a week. There should be a limit to how wonderful Shuren could be… ah, focus. Hanying went back inside to check on the soup.


Meiyun looked up from her phone. The last of what little remained of cell reception just went out. Not surprising, considering she was now deep in the mountains. Still, she appreciated the technology being available on the long bus ride. Her sisters were sitting next to her, chatting about what they hoped would be for dinner.

The four of them, Meiyun included, had much more regular contact with each other than with their parents thanks to the modern era. It couldn't be helped that their parents lived so far from the city.

"Ah. We're close." Meiyun said, looking out the windows.

"Big sis, how can you tell?"

"You can't? The feeling changes. In the air, or something, didn't you feel it?" Meiyun replied. She sat up straight in her seat, trying to describe the gentle nostalgia surrounding her.

"Nope."

"Didn't notice."

"Big sis loves home after all. Even from here, she could walk home." The youngest sister giggled at her own joke.

"Hm." Meiyun went back to looking at the forest outside.

Meiyun always knew. There were no special landmarks, no special trees nor smell of water, but she always knew. Every year she would feel they were close, and every year she was right. In just a couple more minutes, the four of them would be walking a familiar path through the forest.

"Why do you think mommy would make a duck?"

"I'm just guessing."

"But you always guess right!"

Meiyun continued looking outside, but she caught some of her sisters' conversation. Duck, huh. Meiyun started salivating a little at the thought. Maybe she did like coming home, after all.

"I think there's something following us."

"A fox?"

"Let's lose it with the shortcut."

Even a fox could see the value of four blooming flowers, Meiyun thought. She sped up nevertheless. The four sisters hopped and bounded through the forest with luggage in hand. Soon they emerged uphill on an unused road. Just like the road their bus had taken, it was an unremarkable path of gravel and mud, but the sisters knew just where to keep climbing. Their father had taught them of this path, and the siblings had perfected it in their childhood races. Not even a minute later, they emerged out of the forest.

"I win!"

"Haa.. haa…"

"What's the score now?"

"I thought we were running, not racing…"

The girls broke into laughter as they started to walk between familiar hectares of paddies.


"Hey!" Shuren yelled from across the fields, waving with mud-stained hands.

The girls called back, each saying something slightly different, but all of them waving. Shuren pointed to the house, signalling for them to drop off their things.

"Ah… her hairstyle's gotten more complicated again. And lil' sis has some new fashion. A lot of luggage and souvenirs, even though we told them to stop… Oh, some new travel stickers." Shuren made quiet remarks as he looked at the four from across the fields. "Where's the little runner? He usually comes out to take some luggage." Shuren put his head back down, eager to finish up the bundle.


Hearing the commotion outside, Hanying felt a smile spread across her face. She cleaned up a little and started walking towards the door. Her youngest, the only boy in the house, had been helping her in the kitchen today. He had been helping out around the farm recently too, and it made Hanying's chest warm up with pride. The little one had been acting up today, looking out the window every minute.

He must be looking forward to seeing his sisters, Hanying thought. As she opened the door, the little one caught up, hiding behind the corner.

"Aren't you going to greet your sisters?" Hanying asked, right before being ambushed with a group hug.

"Mommy!"

"Mama!"

"Momma!"

"Mother." Meiyun felt it was her responsibility as the eldest to act mature. She joined into the group hug anyway.

"Mmm." Hanying returned the hug as best as she could around her four daughters. "Are you all healthy?" she asked.

"We're good!" One of the rare times the four were in unison, their voices chimed like bells.

"…" The youngest child wordlessly came out of the house. He said nothing, staring out into the forest.

"Are you shy? Come greet your sisters," Hanying scolded him.

"Someone's out there. Watching us," He replied with fear in his voice.


Something's wrong. Shuren turned his gaze upwards, straightening himself for a better look. His family were gathered in front of the house, but.. two men in suits? When did they get here? What's going on?

Shuren barely got his feet back on a solid path before his heart dropped. One of the men had presented a teddy bear, and lil' sis had slapped him in return. It's hers, Shuren realized. That teddy bear was one of the first things Meiyun had brought home, and lil' sis had been keeping it ever since.

The suited man that lil' sis slapped had fallen to the ground, and was holding his neck in pain. They were yelling now, screaming. The other one - a gun?!

Shuren dropped his basket and started to run, aiming to get between his family and the strangers. A sudden wind howled at his back, granting him the speed he wanted. Stones cracked under his boots with every stride, but he was so, so far away.



On 1988/08/14, Agent Zhu, Agent Min, and Agent Shao tracked a series of anomalous items to a rice farm in ███████, Hunan, China. The creator of the items, designated POI-5674, was brought into custody. Sedatives and amnestics quickly became entirely ineffective on POI-5674. Subject made multiple escape attempts within the week, with each attempt causing progressively more structural damage. Anomalous measures have so far been effective in suppressing and containing POI-5674.

POI-5674's remaining family possessed no knowledge of any anomalies. They have been amnestized and released. A list of items confiscated from POI-5674's residence, as well as the residences of his immediate family, are as follows.

Item Description: One brown teddy bear. If left unobserved in a room overnight, the bear will be found in a slightly different pose, and the room will have been lightly dusted.

Item Description: One white pillow. Anyone sleeping on the pillow will have a dream about flying. The dreamer has free control over direction and speed of flight, and can change the dreamscape at will.

Item Description: Two handheld dirt scrubbers. Applying one of these scrubbers to any mud-stained clothing immediately cleans off all visible dirt from the applied area, including dried mud stains.

Item Description: Seven decorative flower charms of varying design. When one is attached to a load-carrying container, the total weight of the container is halved.

Item Description: One suitcase with various travel stickers applied. The suitcase has a mild effect on attention, influencing anyone in a 1.5m radius to look at the suitcase. This item's presence at the ████████ airport influenced off-duty Foundation Agents, which led to the investigation and capture of POI-5674.

Item Description: Two animated wooden doors which actively attack nearby Foundation-clothed personnel. The doors originally only showed aggression against Foundation Agents, but began to attack any Foundation-clothed personnel soon after retrieval.

Items secured in anomalous storage.

In addition, a spatially incongruent path located near POI-5674's residence has been fenced off.



Lil' sis,

I don't know what you're up to, but your little brother's worried about you. Every day, he tells me he's worried about all of you. I'm also worried. Please mail me back.

Hanying




"We found dad with divination."

"He's tied up in chains."

"We'll get him back."

Three maidens spoke to a small portrait in a public cemetery. Meiyun's portrait did no justice to how she was in life, a caring and attentive older sister. But it was the best picture that the three had found.

"Grandpa, sorry to visit you like this."

"Next time, we'll bring better news."

"We'll visit again soon."

The sisters said their farewells, and bowed three times in perfect unison. Their senses worked better when they kept in sync, so the three now acted as one. Moving together had become a habit, and they even walked out of the cemetery while maintaining their favored triangle formation. Their thoughts, once separate and distinct, now echoed through each other's heads. The sisters walked around a corner, knowing they would be out of view of the other visitors.

"Ground lines guide roads," they chanted in unison. They dropped through the earth.

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