DXN - Welcome to City N Again - Closing Scenes

Feb 16th, 2016
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  1. [00:00] <Cherem> === C L O S I N G = S C E N E S ===
  3. [10:24] <Cherem> It's been a day since the showdown with "Uncle", and you, Operator, find yourself multitasking with the speed of at least three veteran MMO players, switching between your game (Mid-raid), the JPN stock market (Down), and a constantly flashing communication program.
  4. [10:24] <Cherem> You've got your clan arguing with the sound turned off, police chatter-to-text, and... that's new.
  5. [10:26] <Cherem> Another name pops up: "Meerkat". "You heard about the arson spree?" Another Overed, specifically an information broker, who has operated in City N for over a decade.
  6. [10:34] <Otomo_Reiko> "Arson spree? That something on the news or one of those conspiracy bulletin boards?" She didn't exactly feel bad playing dumb with Meerkat, better to know what the info broker knows before revealing her own hand.
  7. [10:37] <Cherem> There's a pause, before "Meerkat is typing" flashes a second, "You really don't leave the house, huh?"
  8. [10:38] <Cherem> "It wasn't on the news but somebody was burning down houses and stuff."
  9. [10:38] <Otomo_Reiko> "People are sick like that."
  10. [10:39] <Cherem> "Same old. Heard it was a setup though, kids getting involved. Figured you might've heard something."
  11. [10:43] <Otomo_Reiko> "What's your interest in it? Sounds like something for the police."
  12. [10:44] <Cherem> "UGN got all over it. Felt like something a few years ago. I noticed somebody went into their files :3 "
  13. [10:44] <Otomo_Reiko> "It was delt with."
  14. [10:46] <Cherem> "Oho :3" Another pause as they rapidly type, delete, retype, "Good to hear. What happened to the kids? Files said they were in the High School."
  15. [10:48] <Otomo_Reiko> "At this point I have no idea. Someone else is dealing with them."
  16. [10:49] <Cherem> "Somebody picked up two kids? www" And there's a little bit of a silence, then, "So, two overed kids. UGN'd be all over that."
  17. [10:49] <Otomo_Reiko> "I'd rather they not be."
  18. [10:51] <Cherem> "Same. I have a friend who knows people, if they need to move. Worst thing that happens is UGN gets ahold of more kid soldiers."
  19. [10:55] <Otomo_Reiko> Haaah. She wasn't particularly attached to Mii-kun and Akane but she has no love for the UGN. Could be trouble for Tindalos and the Yuu family.
  20. [10:56] <Cherem> "Just let me know if something comes up. I'd say we should do coffee, but I think I know better :p"
  21. [10:58] <Otomo_Reiko> "Talk to you later Meerkat."
  22. [10:59] <Cherem> The name changes to "Meerket: Away (Real work is hard TT_TT)" and goes silent. Thankfully, your guild has stopped fighting at this point, and the raid continues.
  24. [00:00] <Cherem> ======
  26. [12:17] <Cherem_> Ai, you finally get home after a long day of, well, fighting. Seems returning to school is out of the question. Honda's car pulls up to your house, where Michio disembarks with you.
  27. [12:17] <Cherem_> Michio looks uncomfortable with the situation, but nods a little, "So... This is where you live, Yuu?"
  28. [12:19] <Mr_Rage> "Mhm!" Ai gestures for him to follow, plucking her hat off her head and letting her tails free to stretch.
  29. [12:19] <Cherem_> "Hold on a moment. I'm coming with you." Honda gets out of the car, shadowed by the other folks. "I need to thank your father in person, and discuss this with him."
  30. [12:20] <Cherem_> Michio nods a little, eyes trailing along your tails with some curiosity in his eyes, before following along. "It's nice-" He hesistates as Honda declares his intentions, not too comfortable with the Tindalos agent just yet.
  31. [12:21] <Mr_Rage> "Ah--alright. I'll show Michi our guest room."
  32. [12:22] <Cherem_> Seemingly unlocked, the door opens and you're welcomed by the sound of two voices. Seems they don't hear the door open
  33. [12:22] <Cherem_> "Look, I don't know who taught you, but you should be careful. Knives aren't toys." Your father's voice is calm and measured.
  34. [12:22] <Cherem_> There's the rapid "tap tap tap tap" of a knife on cutting board, "I know how to use a knife. I know what it feels like, when skin and flesh-" Akane's voice is raspy and low, mumbling almost.
  35. [12:22] <Cherem_> "Enough of that, please." You hear your father clear his throat, "You're in no position to attempt to intimidate me. Just finish cutting the apples."
  36. [12:23] <Cherem_> As you enter, Michio is careful to avoid stepping on the threshold, taking off his shoes aftet stepping inside. He looks around with wide-ish eyes: seems like it's been a while for him.
  37. [12:24] <Cherem_> And following is Honda, Doyle, and Goeman, both of them giving off the impressions of shadows far, far more impressive than the man himself.
  38. [12:25] <Mr_Rage> "We're home!" A gentle smile for the boy, and she steps aside to let Honda and his muscle meet her dad first. A look to Michio, measuring whether he wants to go see Akane or the guest room more.
  39. [12:26] <Cherem_> "Oh, Ai! You're back. Did you bring along that troublesome friend of yours?" He steps out, wiping his hands on a cloth, "Ah, I needed to speak with you, Honda."
  40. [12:27] <Cherem_> At this the Tindalos agent looks a bit thrown off-balance, but waves a little, "Hello, Mr.Yuu, I need to thank you for-" He's cut off by your father, who comes right up to you, inspecting you carefully.
  41. [12:27] <Cherem_> His hand runs along your arm, looking for any injuries, checking your eyes, poking your tummy, and finally ruffling your hair. "Did you have a good day?"
  42. [12:28] <Cherem_> Michio steps aside, watching this casual interaction with a mildly confused air.
  43. [12:29] <Mr_Rage> "Ahfm--Daaad!" Despite her attitude, her tails twitch happily, enduring the inspection with a small puff. "Yeah--I think so. It was... busy."
  44. [12:30] <Cherem_> "I can see." He sniffs the air and laughs a little, "Alright. Miss Akane and I were carving apples. Why don't you two go and visit here, while I give Honda here a stern talking to?"
  45. [12:31] <Cherem_> You notice that the chopping of apples has stopped, and drifting just barely out the side of the kitchen doorway is a bit of black hair.
  46. [12:33] <Mr_Rage> "!" Ai bounds over, sliding to a stop in hopes of catching her other houseguest unawares, a devious little >:> on her face.
  47. [12:35] <Cherem_> The rapid feet on floor catch the other child unaware, and with a leap and a bound you're at the corner, face to face with a surgical mask, a shroud of hair, and a badly cut-up apple. The girl freezes as you appear before her, dropping the knife with a loud clatter. There's a very quiet moment as her words catch up to the rest of her body, and she manages to get out, "You're alive."
  48. [12:35] <Cherem_> Behind you, Michio follows carefully, while Honda follows your father upstairs. Seems like they're already getting into it, as you can hear your father talking about how much spare futons cost.
  49. [12:38] <Mr_Rage> "--well, yeah!" The Chimera stands a little taller, hands on her hips. Far more confident in the safety of her own home. "I'd never leave Papa."
  50. [12:40] <Cherem_> "Mm. Papa. Your Father." Akane states the obvious, looking around, "And he's still alive, right?" She almost steps past you, getting a little bit too close in order to look around the corner. Her eyes fixate on Michio, before turning back to you. She offers you a piece of the apple, holding the rest of it firmly in her grasp.
  51. [12:42] <Mr_Rage> Ai considers the slice for a long moment, understanding the gesture--or maybe reading too much into it. Either way, she pops it into her mouth, munching it between glacier-fangs. "Mf. I'll protect Michi, too."
  52. [12:43] <Cherem_> "Michi?" They both respond, before Akane follows up, "Michio-SAN. You don't know your japanese?" She looks at him, "And a pet name already?" She turns her back, returning to the kitchen. "Enemy of all women."
  53. [12:44] <Mr_Rage> The Chimera blinks, bewildered, and makes to follow Akane fearlessly. "Akane... are you gonna stay with us?"
  54. [12:46] <Cherem_> "Don't know." She goes to cut the apple more, before hesitating, realizing she's dropped her knife. "... Michi. Knife." She waits for him to pick it up, turning her attention back to you. "Your father is a strong personality."
  55. [12:49] <Mr_Rage> "Uh--yeah." Ai laughs, collecting a fresh apple, but she stares into it rather than biting right away. "He taught me how to control myself, and he was never afraid of me..."
  56. [12:50] <Cherem_> Akane has the knife in her hand a moment after, "Mm. Uncle was like that, but I think he feared us. What we could become." She looks at your apple and holds out her hand, "It'll cut it for you."
  57. [12:53] <Mr_Rage> Ai hands it over, smiling. "Papa's smart. He can fix anybody."
  58. [12:54] <Cherem_> "Fix?" She digs the knife into the apple, cutting through it shakily. "You can't 'fix' the renegade." She sets half the apple down, tracing the tip of the knife along the skin. "It was never broken."
  59. [12:55] <Cherem_> Michio clears his throat, "What I think she means is, you probably weren't broken, were you?" He smiles a little, plucking a bit of apple from Akane, just barely avoiding his hand smacked.
  60. [13:01] <Mr_Rage> The Chimera makes a face, picking her words more carefully. "I mean, Papa can... show people how to be more. Believes in people. More than they do, sometimes." Munch. Ai turns to find a dinner-chore for herself, letting things hang in the air between her and Akane.
  61. [13:05] <Cherem_> Akane goes quiet, focusing on the little picture she's cutting into the apple skin, while Michio follows you. "It must be nice, having someone like him." He smiles a little, "For the longest time, it was just Akane and me, relying on each other. She doesn't want to admit it, but even she's a little sensitive sometimes."
  62. [13:06] <Cherem_> This is punctuated by the solid TUNK of a knife going straight through apple and into the wooden cutting board.
  63. [13:09] <Mr_Rage> Ai snickers, handing the boy plates to set the table. "Well, now you have me and Papa to rely on too."
  64. [13:10] <Cherem_> Michio takes the plates gratefully, "That would be nice. I'd like that, I think." He smiles warmly for the first time, turning to set the table. Behind you, seems like Akane is still petrified at the cutting board, her eyes hollow and staring right into the apple. Give her a minute to reboot.
  65. [13:13] <Cherem_> ~
  66. [13:14] <Cherem_> After setting the table and getting dinner somewhat started, Honda and your Father finally return from upstairs. The Tindalos Agent doesn't sit, while your Father does. "We talked about some things," Honda begins, "And for the time being, we're going to have you two stay here. You
  67. [13:15] <Cherem_> You'll be attending school as before, but in I think a week or two, Michio, you're going to be coming with me."
  68. [13:15] <Cherem_> Michio blinks, not exactly the answer he expected. Meanwhile, Akane takes this moment to... not say a word, instead staring at your father with a very level, even gaze.
  69. [13:16] <Mr_Rage> Even Ai tilts her head, questioning that last bit. "Going where?"
  70. [13:17] <Cherem_> "Living with me." Honda continues. "I have a spare room, it's nearby, and we avoid certain... Issues." He glances at Akane, who still has her eyes on your father.
  71. [13:18] <Cherem_> "We're... being seperated?" Michio frowns, looking at Akane. Still watching Father.
  72. [13:19] <Cherem_> "Once everything's settled. There's a matter of keeping you two seperate from the UGN, keeping a low profile from the police, having you attend classes, and, uh..." He looks between You and Akane awkwardly.
  73. [13:23] <Mr_Rage> "Papa..."
  74. [13:25] <Cherem_> Your father sighs a little, "As much as I would like to, he does have a point. At least for some time. The UGN is looking for a rogue salamandra, and they won't look here." He looks at Akane, "It won't be permanent, but for the time being it's safer."
  75. [13:30] <Cherem_> Akane hasn't said anything, but eventually turns to look at her plate.
  76. [13:31] <Mr_Rage> Ai waits in silence, tense as a piano wire, for Akane to act.
  77. [13:31] <Cherem_> And Honda clears his throat, "Look, don't worry about it. We'll figure it out. And, we'll leave you to it, I'll keep in touch. Yuu." He gives you a look, "We'll have a debriefing I think... sometime in the next few days, the weekend."
  78. [13:31] <Cherem_> Akane doesn't say anything, but from where you're sitting, you can see her hands on her knees. Clenched so hard that her knuckles are white and her knees are giving way, her mottled, strange skin
  79. [13:32] <Cherem_> paling at her supernaturally powerful grip.
  80. [13:33] <Mr_Rage> "Ah--alright." She nods towards Honda, but her attention's back on Akane. A tail reaches, wrapping around the Salamandra's wrist. Gently, but insistent if the girl tries to pull away.
  81. [13:34] <Cherem_> She doesn't budge, but after a moment a shuddering, slow breath seeps from her mask. Her hand slowly takes your tail, holding it like a child holds a cat. That's... not very comfortable, but she's not about to tear her kneecap off anymore.
  82. [13:35] <Cherem_> Michio is watching carefully, but he goes to see Honda off after a moment. The door closes on the scene as the Tindalos agent leaves, and a heavy silence falls on the house.
  83. [13:37] <Cherem_> A moment passes, and your father clears his throat, "Right now might not be the time to discuss this. You may need rest: Ai, you can take her to your room. Michio, the guest room is down here, we'll get the futon out."
  84. [13:40] <Cherem_> Michio stands, going to Akane and taking her other hand, "Come on. A nap would be good."
  85. [13:40] <Mr_Rage> "Okay. Good night, Papa, Michi-san." Ai's happy to let Akane hold her tail, leading the girl with it.
  87. [00:00] <Cherem> ======
  89. [13:57] <Cherem_> The evening has come, and you, Doyle, are "off". Honda let you go with "We'll get drinks tomorrow, how's that sound?" after leaving you standing outside Yuu's house for a good half hour. No fun at all, but he took your excuse for "rest" well enough.
  90. [13:58] <Cherem_> You have a more important meeting.
  91. [13:58] <Cherem_> Middle of downtown, take a bus. Get off on fifteenth street, and make your way down until you reach an office building with four boarded up windows: five, you've gone too far. Go around the side, the fire escape is down.
  92. [13:58] <Cherem_> Climb up it, and up to the top. The jump across the alleyway to the neighboring rooftop doesn't give you trouble: your feet slam onto the concrete, and your limbs make a little buzzing noise. The door into the building from the ceiling is unlocked: down two floors, and into the fifth office room.
  93. [13:59] <Cherem_> Inside, the office is rather clean, for one abandoned in the flight after black Saturday. Rumors have it that this is owned by a dummy company, cleaning money for the Yakuza. It's nothing so interesting.
  94. [14:01] <Cherem_> The office itself is home to a chair, a table, and a box of cigarettes. An Ashtray is resting, and a cigarette still smoking. There's a telephone hooked up there: as you enter the room, it starts ringing.
  95. [14:02] * Cerys_Doyle makes her way over to the table sitting down. After another ring she picks up the phone.
  96. [14:05] <Cherem_> "Doyle." A thick voice answers over the line, the kind of voice suited to an old yakuza or triad. A voice layered with age and experience, kind of like an uncle that has a few too many scars, a few too many tattoos, and gives you a lopsided, dead-eyed smile when you ask about them. "You found the phone well enough."
  97. [14:06] <Cerys_Doyle> "Easy peasy stuff for a girl like me." She jokes even if her sense of humor went unappreciated.
  98. [14:07] <Cherem_> "Good to know." There's a pause, almost like a cigarette being pulled on, "I'm impressed. Honda was sort of an easy bet, but you've kept him breathing. Good job."
  99. [14:10] <Cerys_Doyle> "He really seems to like stickin his neck in danger don't he?" she picks up the lit cigarette and plays with it in her fingers. "That other bloke, flame hands, thick skull. He one o yers?"
  100. [14:12] <Cherem_> "It's the danger of watching too much hero anime as a kid. People these days, you know, they think being a hero is something you can do without sacrifice." He laughs a little. "Ah, yes, this Goemon. He's a guard, through and through. Not mine, though. I'm not sure if he's on Honda's own personal payroll, or some other member of Tindalos. I'm more curious," there's a slight cough, "In this Uncle you killed."
  101. [14:17] <Cerys_Doyle> "Oh o'course o'course. Overed we tracked, seemed to be gathering up strays under him, training to be his minions or muscle. He was cocky though, couple good shots dropped him just like any other. What do ye want to know?"
  102. [14:18] <Cherem_> "Did he have any contacts? Anybody else working for him?" Another pause, and the soft sound of exhaled smoke. "See, this kind of thing happens occasionally, and last time it happened, a lot of children went missing. A lot. If you look through UGN records, you'll find it eventually."
  103. [14:21] <Cerys_Doyle> "He didn't make much with the talking. Contacts? Likely, don't have names yet. Others he was working with? Most likely. The kids we took in mentioned something about others but they were never introduced."
  104. [14:24] <Cherem_> "Alright. That will be something to follow. Honda won't let them be, men like him are predictable. So figure out if there were any more, when the chance arises."
  105. [14:25] <Cerys_Doyle> "Ye want me to check on those old files? See if there's any match ups?" Of course she wouldn't be doing that work herself.
  106. [14:27] <Cherem_> "Please do. As far as I'm aware, one of the children from the last time is still in City N. Two, actually, although I suppose you'd have to actually hunt down the second one, and her friends are too much of a bother." He sighs, coughing away from the phone. "Find any links between this... 'Uncle'... And others. Report to me when you have anything. It's a story I'm tired of hearing."
  107. [14:30] <Cerys_Doyle> "Aye, will do. Anything else, or that'll be it fer now?"
  108. [14:30] <Cherem_> "Keep an eye on Honda. I think your skills will be coming in handy soon. He needs a gun at his side, and one that can actually shoot. Remind him to actually make sure a round is chambered next time."
  109. [14:32] <Cerys_Doyle> "Aight then. Til next time love." She hangs up the phone and crushes the burnt down cigarette into the ash tray.
  110. [14:33] <Cherem_> The cigarette gives a cloud of smoke, curling up to the ceiling. Outside, the lights are starting to turn on for office buildings, and... love hotels. Classy area.
  111. [14:33] <Cherem_> The buzz of cars is prominent as music starts to filter in, even this high up. It'll be a trek out, but at least you've have sleezy music to do it to.
  112. [14:36] <Cerys_Doyle> Really, they could've made the path here a little more fun. She hops to and from buildings, windows, ladders and whatever else she could gfet a grip on as she made her way back down to street level.
  114. [00:00] <Cherem> ======
  116. [15:00] <Cherem_> An apartment. Two floors, with twostaircases going up, one on each end of the "U". The entire "complex" is surrounded by fencing, and is home to a somewhat treated flower garden in the front. It's painted an off-blue with white trimming, and doesn't stand out too much from the other houses and units.
  117. [15:01] <Cherem_> There's a few security cameras, although several of them don't seem to be active: at least, they aren't flashing the LED lights to indicate that they are. However, if one watched them closely, the would all seem to look around occasionally.
  118. [15:02] <Cherem_> Life in this neighborhood is usually pretty peaceful: people keep to themselves, although it's known that some of the residents meet up in the garden once or twice a week and have a potluck, eating and talking about recent events.
  119. [15:02] <Cherem_> However, this last week seems to have been cancelled: a car bombing will do that, and while the people are still occasionally chatting, there's still an air of fear and repression around the block.
  120. [15:04] <Cherem_> In the garden, there's a woman on her hands and knees. She'd probably pass for young if you don't look at her too hard or in an off lighting, but her long, black hair tied behind her head has a few deadly strings of gray, and her eyes, while in their own manner sultry and playful, seem to look at you and take in you in whole.
  121. [15:05] <Cherem_> She's wearing gloves, working at the soil with a trowell and bag, pulling out weeds and snipping away at the flowers to make them more pleasing. Occasionally she sits up, wiping the sweat from her brow and taking a drink of water.
  122. [15:06] <Cherem_> She's dressed in a pair of worn jeans and a simple, plain brown t-shirt under a green apron, complete with little yellow chick on the front.
  123. [15:08] <Cherem_> It's as she sits up with a fist full of weeds that you find yourself, Doyl, burdened down with a giant box past the size of your torso, lugging it towards the apartment complex with a purpose. As you approach, the woman waves at you with a warm smile, accented by her slightly flushed cheeks. "Are you having trouble with that?
  124. [15:10] <Cerys_Doyle> "Eh? Oh nah. Thanks though." Despite it's size she really isn't having any issues with it. It is just a clumsily large case after all, though it did make carrying the bag of take out she had a bit harder.
  125. [15:11] <Cherem_> "Mmm? You sure about that?" The woman stands up, pulling her gloves off and adjusting her hair, "Do you want some help?" Her eyes are playful and her tone teasing as she approaches you, eying the box with curiosity. "This looks... familiar."
  126. [15:14] <Cerys_Doyle> "Fragile contents, I'd rather not have something happen to it and ye take the blame."
  127. [15:16] <Cherem_> "Aah, then I do remember it." She laughs a little, covering her mouth and grinning, "You're friends with Otomo-san, I take it? I delivered that to a friend of hers, I guess that was you?"
  128. [15:19] <Cerys_Doyle> "Aye, I'd be the friend." She works her way slowly towards her destination, not trying to be overly rude and just leaving her behind. Not yet at least.
  129. [15:22] <Cherem_> "Oh? But you're so strong..." She reaches out in breach of all ettiquite to touch your arm, "And she made me carry that all the way there! I have trouble with carrying that kind of big thing. I can't quite get my arms around it. So now you're bringing it back?"
  130. [15:23] * Cerys_Doyle pulls back from the touch. "Eh yeah, don't need it no more. Was filming some stuff, I do parkour and stunts and shite like that. Me girl 'ere was nice enough to lend it to me."
  131. [15:25] <Cherem_> "Oh?!" The woman lights up, "Do you really? I want to see!"
  132. [15:27] <Cerys_Doyle> "Maybe once I get some o' the video done." This chick was clingy.
  133. [15:28] <Cherem_> "Eeeeeh?" She stops, hands on her hips, "Stingy. I guess you can leave it outside, she'll eventually come out and get it. Maybe."
  134. [15:30] <Cerys_Doyle> "If'n we're talking about the same girl, not likely. Sorry, don't mean to be rude and all, it's just, ye know, it is a big box I'm carrying."
  135. [15:32] <Cherem_> "I did offer to help you," she grins, "Second floor, second from the left. Be careful on the stairs, the steps wobble a little under too much weight."
  136. [15:34] <Cerys_Doyle> "Thanks." She doesn't even offer her name, heading on up to the door.
  137. [15:37] <Cherem_> The stairs make an awful groan, enough to make the landlady turn her head in worry at the noise, but you make it up without any trouble.
  138. [15:40] <Cherem_> The door itself is... plain. There's a door, no mail slot, a number panel in the front marking 02, with a little peephole in the 0. There's some mail scattered around the front and a letter written in painstakingly fine kanji to "please remember burnable trash is on Thursday, other is on Saturday, and compost is appreciated for the flowers".
  139. [15:41] <Cherem_> Beside the door there's a speaker, seemingly unique to this apartment from a quick glance around, with a tiny lens at the top, a speaker, and a press-to-talk/ring button.
  140. [15:41] * Cerys_Doyle presses the button. "Oi it's me."
  141. [15:42] <Cherem_> There is one more object of note: Hanging under the speaker, there is a sign: "No Solicitors. Yes, We have Cable, No, we don't need the paper. No, I am not interested."
  142. [15:44] <Otomo_Reiko> There's a small delay before someone, Reiko obviously, responds. "You brought the case?" Her voice is a little rough, largely under used most days.
  143. [15:45] <Cerys_Doyle> "Course I brought it, that was the point aye?"
  144. [15:47] <Otomo_Reiko> The door opens just enough for an eye to peer out from the dark apartment interior.
  145. [15:49] <Cerys_Doyle> "It's just me out here."
  146. [15:52] <Otomo_Reiko> The hikikomori makes a sound and closes the door. She goes through the process of undoing five locks before the door opens slowly. "Y-you don't get to come inside every time you come over you know."
  147. [15:54] <Cerys_Doyle> "I won't bring the takeout next time then and just leave the box at the door." She doesn't exactly smile but it looks like something of the sort.
  148. [15:57] <Otomo_Reiko> "I d-don't even open the door for the pizza guy. I p-p-pay him under the d-door." Reiko crawls up onto her plastic-wrapped chair and draws her knees up under her chin. She still stuttered nervously when someone shared the same space as her but at least she'd stopped wearing the surgical mask and gloves.
  149. [16:00] * Cerys_Doyle sets the case down and closes the door locking it behind her. "Well, he ain't as cute as me I figure."
  150. [16:04] <Otomo_Reiko> "No one looks as cute as a shrimp and mayo roll crust pizza during a late night raid."
  152. [00:00] <Cherem> ======
  154. [09:53] <Cherem> Six hours. You've been in this same room for six hours. It's not a very stimulating room, one long table, several kind of squishy chairs. Sitting across from you is your agent, producer, however you want to call him, drumming his fingers as he and his assistants go back and forth with ideas for your next performance.
  155. [09:54] <Cherem> "I don't know, maybe something a little faster." "More upbeat? It clashes with the image." "Well, we can have it faster and angrier." "But then the music..." "Are we even considering a band yet? Who will we..."
  156. [09:55] <Cherem> The space between gets filled occasionally with suggestions for names, as other artists come up, genres creep up, and every so often, as they come to an impass, your producer will give you a look like, "Well, you're going to be singing, what's your opinion."
  157. [09:55] <Cherem> It's boring. Dear god it's boring. Everything good about music is not here, and this is just.... slow brainstorming.
  158. [09:56] <Cherem> It's very different from your previous days. In fact, you were able to put this off because of your latest "stunt".
  159. [09:57] <Cherem> "Well, with the latest thing, we could maybe make that into a thing?" An assistant points out.
  160. [09:58] <Cherem> "A thing?" Your producer clears his throat, glancing at you. "Miyu-tan, that school visit. How'd that end up?"
  161. [09:59] <Shinjou_Miyu> Six hours and Miyu is doing some drumming of her own. She looks every bit like a bundle of teen angst that hates the world and wants nothing more than to slit her own wrists and make people choke to death on the gushing blood before she finally keels over herself. "I got to meet some girl in school who'd been through some harsh stuff. She seemed pretty happy about it before she passed out."
  162. [10:00] <Cherem> "Passed out?" One assistant murmurs. "Must've been overwhelmed. It is our Shinjou-san." Another replies.
  163. [10:01] <Cherem> Your producer rubs his chin, "Mm. I have to say, I was surprised about that. I wasn't expecting that kind of move." He laughs a little bit, "It's good PR, that's for sure. She was happy to see you?"
  164. [10:03] <Shinjou_Miyu> "Yeah. Turned out she was a fan. As good as this kind of thing is for PR I should probably take it easy on the autographs if this is going to be a thing."
  165. [10:04] <Cherem> "Wouldn't want to strain the mic hand, right?" Your producer covers his mouth at his own (bad) joke, "Well, we're not going to be doing handshake events, if that's what you're afraid of."
  166. [10:05] <Cherem> "Well, it's not like it's bad for sales." "But CDs getting thrown away is bad for our rep." The assistants continue to talk between each other, before there's a sharp tapping at the door.
  167. [10:06] <Cherem> "Eh? I thought I said no interruptions." Your producer sits up, stretching, as one of the other assistants goes for the door.
  168. [10:06] <Shinjou_Miyu> "My mic hand is made of iron." Miyu says a bit flatly. She looks to the door, eyes narrowed.
  169. [10:07] <Cherem> "Miss Shinjou, you have a visitor." The receptionist glances inside, "I told her you were busy, but she was insistant on delivering the message herself."
  170. [10:08] <Cherem> "Mm..." Your producer looks at the clock, then at his watch as if to compare the time. "It has been quite a while. Want to stretch your legs a bit?"
  171. [10:09] <Shinjou_Miyu> "Gladly. I'll probably be alright with whatever you guys come up with as long as it isn't porn or something so sickeningly cute it'll make me diabetic." And with that Miyu gets up, waves, and heads out the door.
  172. [10:11] <Cherem> "We couldn't get away with that." "No, pink and frills wouldn't work." "Frills might. Gothic lolita?" The conversation veers off in a different direction as the door closes behind you, the receptionist smiling warmly as she walks beside you. "She's waiting in the lobby. I'll have some tea for you in a moment."
  173. [10:12] <Cherem> The office building isn't that large, small enough that you can hear somebody humming one of your songs as you walk. The door to the lobby is transparent, and you catch a glimpse of black hair and public school uniform.
  174. [10:13] <Shinjou_Miyu> "Gothic lolita! Do it!" Miyu calls back to the door. Then she's off with the receptionist, the amusing turn and the vacation lifting her spirits a bit. A little looking around and then Miyu is off in the direction of said black hair and school uniform.
  175. [10:13] <Cherem> Standing and reading over a bulletin posted on the wall, Ginyomi the Tindalos advisor is aimlessly, off-tune humming one of your songs. At sight of you she smiles a little, relief covering her face, "Ah, Shinjou. It's good to see you well." A light bow, "I'm sorry to disturb your meeting."
  176. [10:15] <Shinjou_Miyu> A little bow comes in return along with the hint of a smile. "It's all good. I might've just blown up if I stayed in there much longer. Better to disturb the meeting rather than risk me erupting, right?"
  177. [10:17] <Cherem> "Mm, I can only imagine the headlines online. 'Idol explodes, takes whole office with her." A grin crosses her face, before sobering a little, "Can we talk somewhere a little more... private?" Probably more Overed stuff.
  178. [10:21] <Cherem> There would be several. You could step outside, but there's also the quiet rooms of the office, rooms with sound-proofing, for practice and contract discussions.
  179. [10:22] <Shinjou_Miyu> "In a place like this and with a person like me privacy is a valuable, rare commodity. Keep that in mind. We can either hit a practice room or the throne room."
  180. [10:23] <Cherem> "... Practice room." Ginyomi hesitates a moment, "The bathroom? Isn't it a bit early for that kind of step?"
  181. [10:25] <Shinjou_Miyu> Miyu heads off to a practice room. "Yeah, the bathroom. I feel that if people get too intrusive or pry too much around there I can really go all out on them and no one will hold it against me."
  182. [10:28] <Cherem> "I see. And I was worried you would try bullying me." Ginyomi follows, her schoolbag carried in both hands in front of her. As you enter the sound-proofed room, she looks around in wonder, "So this is what a Practice room would look like." It's home to three chairs, a table, and a monitor mounted on the wall for lyric documents and the like.
  183. [10:31] <Shinjou_Miyu> "As if I'd bully you. Pfft." Miyu says jovially, obviously amused by the notion. She stretches out a little in the room before doing a little twirl. "Yeah. And they muffle the outside world really nicely. Anyway what's on your mind?"
  184. [10:32] <Cherem> Ginyomi watches with a smile, "I wanted to thank you, personally, for your help this last week. Honda filled me in on what happened, and I wanted to give you my thanks."
  185. [10:33] <Cherem> This is accompanied by a deep bow, "I wasn't expecting this kind of issue so soon after my return, so, again, thank you for your help."
  186. [10:39] <Shinjou_Miyu> Miyu pauses, looking a bit awkward after the bow, and then for a moment distinctly unhappy. "You don't need to thank me for it. It's what friends are supposed to do, right?" she says, her voice going quiet and slightly off.
  187. [10:41] <Cherem> "Mm. I suppose it is." Ginyomi raises her head a little, "I guess you'll have to forgive me then. I mixed work and pleasure." She takes a seat, crossing her legs neatly. "I should say, Honda requested your presence at a debriefing of sorts. He wants everybody's opinion on the two children he's adopting." She lifts her phone, and you catch a glimpse of the angry Akane's face. "She seems a little familiar, don't you think?"
  188. [10:47] <Shinjou_Miyu> "Don't get me wrong. I liked it and I liked meeting that fan. The powers that be apparently liked it, too. I just... eh... I'm weird. I'd do it again." Miyu mutters before looking at the phone. "I don't pity him, but if he wants me at the debriefing I'll come."
  189. [10:48] <Cherem> "Was it nice being a hero?" Ginyomi grins a little, "I was listening to your latest album on the way over, you know. Nothing wrong with an anti-hero rebel, right?"
  190. [10:54] <Shinjou_Miyu> "I'm always a hero. Even when no one knows about it." Miyu says with a cheeky smile. "You really think there's going to be a need for that?"
  191. [10:58] <Cherem> "Mm..." Ginyomi's fingers drum against her leg, "The last meeting with The Board was... dangerous." She purses her lips, a shade falling over her eyes, "The UGN representative was unusually aggressive, and it's put me in a spot of worry." She almost sounds like she'll continue, but a sharp knock at the door marks the arrival of your tea.
  192. [10:59] <Cherem> She's mentioned this "Board" before: the Tindalos members who have enough clout to consider themselves leaders, meeting and discussing pertanent issues as an organization.
  193. [10:59] <Shinjou_Miyu> "This should only take a few." Miyu rises and moves to open the door.
  194. [11:00] <Cherem> "Of course. It's an unsavory topic anyways." Ginyomi smiles as the door opens, the receptionist bringing in a plate with tea and rice crackers, as well as a little bowl of cough drops. Maybe she thought you were performing a duet. Probably not.
  195. [11:04] <Cherem> As the door closes, Ginyomi lets out a little breath, "Mm... Well, it's nothing. The UGN has been too busy with their own private wars elsewhere."
  196. [11:05] <Shinjou_Miyu> "Thanks. You're the best." Miyu mutters to the receptionist before she goes. Then she takes a seat again and munches on a cracker. "Feel free to help yourself. I guess if they're occupied elsewhere it leaves a gap here."
  197. [11:07] <Cherem> Nibbling on a cracker after you offer, Ginyomi makes a complicated face, taking tiny bites and furrowing her brow, "True. We should consider more action on our part." She takes a sip of tea and continues, "It's too bad you're so busy, I'm sure we'd work together fine." She pops the rest of the cracker into her mouth, "But I also like this way now."
  198. [11:10] <Shinjou_Miyu> "I know. If I quit the job entirely who would provide battle music for those times when conflict is inevitable?" Miyu says with an exaggerated sigh.
  199. [11:12] <Cherem> "I'm sure there's a Black Dog with a sound system built into their chest. Maybe a name like 'Kill-owatt' or "BoomBox"." Ginyomi stifles the noise you recognize as her laugh with a quick sip of tea. "Do you want to do more happy music?"
  200. [11:16] <Shinjou_Miyu> "Kill-owatt is pretty clever. I like that." Miyu takes a little sip as well before she makes a face. "I don't think I could do happy music for the foreseeable future. I'm comfortable with where it is now."
  201. [11:18] <Cherem> "Hmm... I wonder if that's good." Ginyomi makes a show of worrying about your future and outlook on life, "I can't say I dislike it, but I'm sure one day you'll make a 'daybreak' song." She takes another sip, before her phone starts going wild. A look of annoyance crosses her face as she finishes her glass. "I think that's my cue."
  202. [11:21] <Shinjou_Miyu> "We'll see what the future holds. As long as these meetings don't make my head violently explode." Miyu says as she rises. "I'll let you go then. Unless it's a prank call."
  203. [11:23] <Cherem> Ginyomi stands, glancing at her phone, "I wish. I'd be able to get mad at them." She sighs a little, offering her hand, "Again, thank you. I'd say I'll make it up to you, but aren't we friends?" Her eyes flash mischeviously, hand waiting.
  204. [11:29] <Shinjou_Miyu> "That we are." Miyu says as she takes the offered hand, muttering in a playful tone. "I'll try not to enable your freeloading tendencies too much."
  205. [11:30] <Cherem> "Aah, the least I could do is maintain my image, right?" Ginyomi smiles as she steps out, "You should probably get back to your meeting. I'll see you soon."
  206. [11:31] <Shinjou_Miyu> "See you." Miyu waves and then wanders off to the dismal world of meetings.
  208. [00:00] <Cherem> ======
  210. [13:57] <Cherem> It's been one hell of a week for you, Mako. Begining with a bombing, you've been embroiled in the effort to discover the culprits and put down the man behind the curtain of it all. However, this has been punctuated by work, of course, weekend-warrioring with the JSDF. However, you've noticed something, and your superiors haven't been able to give you a straight answer: Miyuki's not been showing up.
  211. [13:57] <Cherem> "She got pulled for the week for another unit. Stop worrying about it and pick up the slack."
  212. [13:57] <Cherem> And that was that. And now, you've woken up at the crack of dawn, shuffled out to work, and... there she is! You catch the back of her head, her hair pulled into a low ponytail.
  213. [13:59] <Kisami_Mako> "MIYUKIII-CHAAAAAN!" Her spirits are renewed at the sight and she goes in for an uncharacteristic hug! The roles have been reversed for one, and the tough lady she is was suddenly replaced by a not-so-tough and upset friend. "Where the heck have you been?!" She ruffles her hair roughly with her knucle, as if dishing out punishment for going out like that,
  214. [13:59] <Kisami_Mako> without even a text or a call!
  215. [14:01] <Cherem> "Gyaaa!" Miyuki shouts out, clearly taken by surprise, "E-eh?! Mako, what are you- my hair!" She squirms, trying to escape, "What's with you today? Miss me that much?" She gets a grin, mouth curling up into a "w".
  216. [14:07] <Kisami_Mako> "You're lucky I'm not punching you, you brat! Where have you been, even?" It's so odd to her. Despite all of her injuries a week ago, she was good as new after a simple nap. Her own uniform is ruffled afterwards, but she seems too glad to see her friend again to be concerned with that!
  217. [14:10] <Cherem> "Brat's a little unkind... What do you mean where have I been?" Miyuki frowns, adjusting her hair, "I've been here, even." She reaches up to poke your cheek, "Jeez, are you okay?"
  218. [14:12] <Kisami_Mako> "No, no! They said you've been transfered to another unit for a week! In our time of need! What did these suckers make you do, wasting your precious time on lesser duties!" There's a fake pout as she drags her with her now, making her way to her post.
  219. [14:13] <Cherem> Miyuki follows, frowning, "Eh? Another unit?" She raises an eyebrow, "... Ha ha? I've been here."
  220. [14:14] <Kisami_Mako> "...But..." She seems concerned, all of a sudden. Was she going insane? "But you didn't give me a single call, not a word, and you didn't even update your blog! I know you!"
  221. [14:15] <Cherem> "We've been busy! And what do you mean I haven't called you?!" Miyuki steps up, puffing up her chest and pouting, "We went out two nights ago! We've BEEN working!"
  222. [14:16] <Cherem> "If this is a joke you're going a little too far, don't you think?" Her eyes give you a solid look, like "I'm being serious now."
  223. [14:18] <Kisami_Mako> She decides to cheer up for now, and be glad to have her friend back. Yet... something was off. "Oh, yeah! I guess... I guess I've just been overworked. Maybe it was a dream? It just seemed like you were gone for a week."
  224. [14:19] <Cherem> "Muuu... Have you been working too hard?" She reaches up to touch your forehead, her hand nice and cool against your skin, "You should be more careful you know. The Sergeant will chew you out if you make mistakes even if you are sick."
  225. [14:21] <Kisami_Mako> "Ah, you don't have to worry. You know I'm totally different, no-BS policy when I'm at work!" Though, the thought that she was either insane, or everyone started hiding things to her was upsetting.
  226. [14:24] <Cherem> "You say that, but you've made a few mistakes this last week. First there was the miscatorgized ammunition, the SNAFU with the civillian contractor, that whole... uh..." While you don't recall those things ever happening, you manage to catch a glimpse of her eyes as she looks down at her feet, trying to recall... something.
  227. [14:26] <Kisami_Mako> "...Why would you lie to me? I thought we were good friends. You're my best friend, my -only- friend!" There's a genuinely upset look on her face now. "Listen, if you don't want to talk about this, then don't. But I'm not insane. I won't pretend like this last week did not happen."
  228. [14:28] <Cherem> "Lie...?" Miyuki blinks, and she looks up. Her eyes meet yours, and there's a moment that her pupils are just covered in a thick slime, like cataracts that fade from existance the moment you look too hard at them. "This? This what? What's with that face you're making?" She grins, "We haven't even started working yet, shouldn't you be more relaxed?"
  229. [14:32] <Cherem> You remember this. An afterthought, a bad memory of the past decade. That cataract flash, that sudden clouding of the pupils, was the renegade in action, working it's ability on the mind of the observed, namely, the links of the memory.
  230. [14:33] <Cherem> In fact, you remember it right after your own awakening, other members of the JSDF who encountered the Overed, would disappear for a day or two, and return with no memory. Instead, they would come up with justifications, events, working on the mind's own unaltered memories and creating false ones.
  231. [14:33] <Cherem> It's a dark reminder that certain things should be kept to oneself, certainly when they pertain to the monster among humans.
  232. [14:34] <Cherem> When pressed, the victims would grow hostile, unable to connect the lines around or over the whitewashed event. If pushed too hard, the mental gymnastics would be too much, and would usually result in fainting spells.
  233. [14:35] <Kisami_Mako> Ah, so they knew. Which means they probably know about her, now as well. She doesn't know if she should feel guilty or otherwise. "Ah, yeah, just... Don't worry worry. Let's do our best, alright?"
  234. [14:36] <Cherem> "Hmm... Good!" Miyuki smiles, her hostility dropping down and forgotten, "Let's do our best today, and walk home together!"
  235. [14:39] <Kisami_Mako> She pats her shoulder in the most friendly manner she can, and walks alongside her. "Ayep! And hopefully, the Sergeant won't chew me out today!"
  236. [14:40] <Cherem> "Mm, just double check, triple check, check it until you're blue in the face!" Miyuki grins, stretching as she walks, as perky and upbeat as ever.
  237. [14:43] <Kisami_Mako> Hopefully, then, that job last week would be the last in a while. Things have been too excited recently, and stopping one maniac was enough for her.
  238. [14:43] <Kisami_Mako> With that, she makes her way to her post, ready to perform her duties after dropping off her friend~
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