Description: Three strangers, all of whom are strange in some way, meet in a strange place. Things are discussed, and situations are brought to light.
Not too terribly far from the city, there is an old shrine. It may not be that odd that it's more than a few stories tall, but odder still is that it's only that tall on ONE side. The building faces towards the direction the weather moves from, leaving its lower side facing the weather. Which might also seem odd. The shrine is built around a small courtyard.
And another thing that's odd... is that the place seems recently lived in. There's the smell of a recent campfire in the area. There's lumber stacked along one side of the building, ready to be used for repairs. And if one gets close enough to the building, there is indeed a campfire burning in the courtyard. It's well-contained, and doesn't appear to be in danger of burning anything it shouldn't.
But the fire looks recently tended... and there seems to be no one here...
Zach Glenn had been touring shrines since his assignment to the island nation of Japan. Even if the one he really wanted to see wasn't even a little accessable to him, it didn't stop him from seeing others. He found the sheer amount of devotion that went into them, devotion that repeatedly passed the test of time, held a certain appeal to the psion.
This one, though, wasn't quite the same as any of the others. Zach looked around, spotted the fire almost as soon as he smelled it. Someone was here. Recently. Zach stands utterly still, questing out with his mind. He wasn't about to get ambushed like he almost was in... so many other places. Other times.
It had taken hours and hours for Jam to get her restaurant back into working order. The entire dining room was a complete disaster and not to mention soaked. But thanks to having a little help (Zach) and some extreme determination on her end, the young chef was able to salvage her business.
But the entire episode has left the poor girl exhausted and she was just dying to do something outside of her kitchen and restaurant for once. And so, she decided to go do a little exploring herself. Jam did know that exploring on an empty stomach was pretty silly, so she did come prepared. The young cheong-sam wearing martial artist carries two huge plastic bags from her restaurant that seem to be weighing her down a little bit. She may have packed a little heavy, but Jam just couldn't help it sometimes when it came to over-cooking. And so, the intrepid young day-tripper makes her way towards what looks to be a shrine of somesort. Ooh! That looked like the perfect place to grab a quick bite.
Jam quickly runs up to where there still was a totally useable fire still going. "Perfect, I'll have a tasty meal ready in no time!" She exclaims. With no actual survival skills to her name, Jam would have had to eat her meal cold. It looks like Jam's luck had finally turned around! It is only then that she notices the statuesque Zach nearby! "Aiya!" shouts the chef in utter surprise as she brings her bags of cooked Chinese food up to defend herself.
Zach will be able to sense it IMMEDIATELY! There IS someone here, someone besides Jam. It's a presence... unfocused, and it's hard to track exactly where it is. But it... seems like it's EVERYWHERE! It's an extremely strong presence, a concentrated source of very strong chi. Hopefully Zach has some way to guard himself because otherwise he might be about to get a pretty bad headache. That presence is like a sledgehammer against a very open psychic sense.
And not too far from Jam, there is a disturbance. Blue lightning begins to crackle near where she stands. Zach will probably also feel that presence coalescing into a more 'solid' feel (presuming he still has his psychic sense open). And then a person forms from the blue lightning, his shape appearing as if literally forming from the lightning itself.
He is a very tall Asian man with a few facial features that look distinctly not-Asian. The man is dressed in a white monk's robe with what looks like a blue rakusu over it, and a conical hat on his head. His eyes are completely blank white in color, and seem to glow in the shadows of his conical hat. For the time being he regards the pair of them silently, with an unreadable expression.
Zach is about to put Jam at ease, and maybe ask for some of that divine food she has when he gets... Zach's eyes go wide with pain and shock, and drops almost immediately to one knee while grapsing his head with one hand. He grits his teeth and then there is a light show.
Zach narrows his eyes as he tries to watch the spectacle before him. Before the... being fully forms, Zach pulls himself fully upright, and interposes himself between the thing and Jam. Jam might be able to defend herself, but Zach has always ever been a protector.
He doesn't say anything yet. He is not sure that the presence is hostile, but he's certain it's not human.
Bags of Chinese food still in jeopardy, Jam windmills her arms down in a low martial arts stance before she realizes whom it was that she was surprised by. However, the gathering blue sparks near her gives her reason to not let her guard done quite yet. She quickly spins herself around and runs to ther other side of Zach after he had interjected himself inbetween her and the probably dangerous light show.
Peering around the side of Zach, Jam watches the sparks gather together to form a...man...no a monk...someone in a conical hat with blank white eyes. The young woman reels back slightly before holding onto the bags of food in her hands tightly. With her hands full and her long red cheongsam still on, Jam was in no position to start fighting and there really was no reason -not- to use Zach as a potential lightning rod.
Cautiously looking back around Zach to where Raiden formed out of nowhere, Jam eventually does raise her voice in greeting. "Um, hi!" She says in a very unsure sounding greeting. Just what was he? A being that just appears out of nowhere? Alien. That's it! He was an alien that was after her food. "There's more than enough food here for anyone, so you don't need to kill us and take my tasty food back to your home planet!" She implores of the white-eyed being quickly.
He certainly looks human, this strange man who's appeared. All but those eyes. Zach's near-immediate protecting of Jam causes a smile to crack the man's unreadable facade. His expression gentles, and if Zach can still sense him, he may note that the man's presence becomes calmer. More tranquil. Though he does not speak until Jam greets him.
He takes a few steps back, and bows politely in greeting. "I have no intention of harming either one of you," he notes evenly. He makes his way to the other side of the fire and takes a seat. "I am Raiden. I apologize for startling you," he offers quietly. He gestures to the places around the fire, indicating the two should sit if they like. "What brings the both of you here?"
Zach is still grasping at his head with one hand as Raiden speaks. He eyes Raiden with, if not suspicion, then definitely wariness. Glenn straightens himself up, still wincing at the headache he's certain he will be nursing for a couple of days at least. He takes a deep breath, but doesn't relax; he is too busy putting up the mental walls that this Raiden's appearance blew aside like a stack of fall leaves.
"Gods don't exist," Zach mutters darkly, reaching for the wellspring of his own power. It may not be much in comparison to Raiden's might, but it is not insignificant, either. "So who... or /what/ are you?" he asks stubbornly.
Zach clearly recognizes the name, but is most certainly wary even still.
The strange man from the sky's smile does a lot to comfort Jam. You can tell a lot of things about a person by the way they smile or not smile. And alien or no, this guy seemed alright when it came to smiles. And for that, Jam beams radiantly back as she steps out and away from Zach for now.
And what he actually has to say disarms the young chef even further. Bringing the bags of food in front of her, Jam bows at the waist towards Raiden in proper greeting. "I'm Kuradoberi Jamu!" She says cheerfully as Raiden thankfully doesn't take any offense to her previous alien comment. "I saw the shrine and thought it would be a great place to have a meal. And then I saw the fire, um, your fire I mean! Anyways, I was hoping to use it to warm up my food!"
Zach's comment causes Jam to look back his way with a completely confused look on her face. "Huh? Why bring that up?" She then cheerfully makes her way over to the fire, pulls a small frying pan from the bags she was carrying, and dumps a mixture of noodles and vegetables onto it before busying herself with warming it up. Looking over her shoulder at Zach, Jam smiles again. "You want some? Like I said before, I have enough to share!" The young girl then looks quickly back over to the not-as-scary white-eyed man. "It's from my restaurant and it's reallllly good!" She adds with a giggle before going back to minding the food.
Raiden doesn't seem upset by Zach's belief that there are no gods. "As I said, I am Raiden. A protector of Earthrealm," he answers calmly. That much shouldn't be so hard to believe, anyway. "I apologize. My presence seems to have... rattled you somewhat." Again he gestures to the area around the fire. "Sit and regain your bearings, meditate if you wish. You are in no danger here apart from what you place yourself in."
Jam's observation is most definitely true. Raiden has a kind smile, an almost fatherly smile. There's nothing sinister in the expression, and it doesn't look like he should be twirling a mustache with his smile. It's an honest one. "You may indeed use the fire to warm your food," he replies, with a nod.
And at the mention of sharing what was brought? "If it would not be too much trouble. It does smell wonderful." A pause. "You own a restaurant?"
Zach shakes his head back and forth in a slow movement. But he stays standing, his eyes locked on Raiden. This talk of 'Earthrealm' gets set aside for a moment; it makes less sense than the being in front of him. He doesn't smile, doesn't relax, but doesn't remove certain mental blocks he keeps in place either. He stays ready. He doesn't understand what is in front of him. It makes him understandably nervous.
He spares a quick glance and an even swifter smile for Jam. "I'd love some," he says to her before turning back to this Raiden.
"So you..." Zach scowls, coming straight to the point. He does not fill his next statement with derision, or fear, or anger. Just a need to know. "What are you," he asks. "I know you are not human."
Jam crouches down to tend to both the fire and the food some more. She flips the pan here and there, but it doesn't take long for the food to warm up since it was pretty fresh to begin with. She then turns to scrounge for something to serve the food in and frowns slightly. But she suddenly has a bright idea! Taking two folded to-go containers of rice, the creative young chef unfolds them flat. Jam then divides two big portions on these flattened plates before sticking some chop sticks in each.
"Come and get it when you're ready!" she announces happily before blinking as what Raiden said finally registers with her. "Protector of Earthrealm? Oh! You're like Nightwolf then?" She supposes quickly. They both were protectors or some sort and had some pretty mystical abilities. Raiden's own question causes Jam to nod her head emphatically. "Yes! Everyone seems to call it the 'Sleeping Dragon' and its located over in Chinatown, Southtown."
When Zach says he would like some, Jam carefully grabs one of the unfolded plates of food and brings it over to Zach. "Here you go! More repayment for all your hard work!" She says while beaming another smile at Zach. Now Zach's exchange with Raiden causes Jam to gesture grandly towards Raiden. "If he's the kind of person I think he is, he's here to protect us from lowlife, bill-skipping vampires and other evil creatures." The young Chinese girl then pauses and looks to Raiden. "Right?" She adds with a slightly nervous laugh.
The scowl from Zach gets a confused look from Raiden. And at his continued insistence at standing instead of relaxing is a little concerning. But Raiden meant it-- Zach's only in danger from him if he places himself in it. Like by attacking someone else. But he does answer the question. Sort of. His statement is a calm one, without malice. "What I know myself to be is something you do not believe in. Therefore, to you, I am nothing. No one."
Jam's mention of Nightwolf gets a surprised blink. "Nightwolf and I do work together in protecting Earthrealm, yes. Are you a friend of his?" he asks. He will collect the other unfolded plate, the one Jam didn't bring to Zach, and move back to where he had been sitting. "Thank you, Miss... Jam, did you say?" he confirms. And as for 'bill-skipping vampires'? Raiden raises a brow. "That sounds like a very specific sort of creature." He may or may not be kidding, given the amused smirk. "But to answer your question, yes. I do protect humanity from evil."
Zach is in full-on scowl mode at Raiden's answer. There are about a metric ton of questions running through his head. Jam's presentation of the food stops him short. Only manners, and an appreciation of her cooking, get Zach to take the food and sit down. He starts in on the food; it helps the headache somewhat.
However, he keeps his eyes on Raiden. "You're definitely /not/ nothing," Zach says with certainty. "Nothing wouldn't leave me with a headache like this." Mentally, he latches onto the comment about vampires. He turns to look at Jam. "Vampires," he says somewhat curious. "You mean suck your blood, can't go out in sunlight vampires?" He is clearly not sure what to make of that. But pieces are, perhaps, falling into place.
"Next you'll be telling me rodents of unusual size are a thing," he mutters just barely loud enough to be heard.
With one plate given to Zach and the other one claimed by Raiden, Jam clenches her hands together into fists and gives herself a little jumping cheer. She loved seeing others be excited about her cooking. Her cheer done with, Jam heads back over and does the same things for herself. Her meals looks a little more exotic than what she gave Zach and Raiden, but its still all made with the same noodles. Just the meat vegetables are different.
Sitting cross-legged on the ground, Jam takes her chopsticks up into the air and exclaims "Itadakimasu!" in what she believes is the tradtional Japanese before eating thing to say (as she's not actually from Japan). She then digs in on her food herself. It would be pretty bad if a cook didn't like their own cooking!
She does nod quickly when Raiden says her name."That's right! You can call me Jam. And...um, yeah! We train together sometimes and he's helping me in tracking down this deadbeat who trashed my restaurant, twice now!" Jam says with a slight baleful gleam in her eyes. "He said he was a vampire or Dark something, but I just know that he better pay for to have my restaurant repaired!"
Zach's vampire talk causes Jam to stop eating for a moment so she can concentrate. "Well, I don't know!" She declares most helpfully. "Nightwolf asked if he was a so-and-so vampire and then the vampire got all mad and said he was a Dark whatever and then he disappeared into his own cape and dodged his bill!" The rodent comment causes Jam to look at Zach wide-eyed. "Rats are no laughing matter! If I had any money I would definitely pay someone to get rid of all the rats in my restaurant's cellar. But, that's why I let so many cats run around in my restaurant!" Zach had seen the usual crew of cats when he last visited her restaurant. They all were more or less stalwart rat-catchers. Except for Mister Fat Cat, he just sort of knocked things over.
"Perhaps not," Raiden replies, in response to Zach's mention of what 'nothing' did. "But you did say yourself that I do not exist. What other explanation is there?" He pauses, to take a few bites of food. "Ah, this is indeed excellent, Miss Jam. I will need to visit your restaurant at some future point." A pause, and he smiles. "I will not skip out on the bill," he promises.
Jam's mention of 'a dark something' gets a pause. "A Darkstalker?" Raiden inquires. "I have heard that some of these beings mean harm to this world. I do intend to fight against those that do. But please do not let your judgment of all Darkstalkers be colored by that one. I have also met those that do not intend harm."
Zach ponders that around a mouthful of heaven. "Or maybe you only /think/ you're a god," he says, "With abilities far greater than what humans can achieve." He takes another bite of food, letting out a quiet grunt of appreciation for the food. So very very good. However, he is clearly not willing to buy into Raiden's claim of divinity.
"It's a pretty big world," he finally admits. "Takes lots of kinds."
Jam beams happily at Raiden when he first says that her food is good and then again when he says that he will become a -paying- customer. "There's a big dragon on the roof of my restaurant, you won't be able to miss it!" A beat. "But, don't come crashing through the roof!" An odd request, but a needed one to make these days. "That Darkstalker guy really trashed the place! I don't really care that he's a Dark whatever! I more care that he pays for what be broke."
The young chef then taps the side of her chin before snapping her fingers as if finally remembering something. "Oh! I almost forgot about that big order for tomorrow! I better get back so I can get started early!" Jam quickly gathers up what is left into one bag and leaves a few leftovers in the second bag for Raiden and Zach.
Turning to Zach, Jam proudly gestures to herself. "My abilites in the kitchen far exceed that of a ordinary human. Does that make me a goddess?" She asks coyly before giggling to herself. The young girl then bows before taking a moment to straighten her cheongsam. "I'm off! But don't be strangers around my restaurant! Especially you. Jam states joyfully before winking towards Zach.
And then off Jam goes to perhaps go to her restaurant and perhaps get herself into even more hijinks.
"This is true," Raiden replies. "Perhaps I was... transformed, as I have seen happen to others. Perhaps mine was on a different level entirely than what I have seen thus far." He's actually considering the possibility, not instantly blustering and demanding that Zach acknowledge him as a god. Which perhaps also speaks for him, that he's willing to consider other possibilities.
Jam describes her restaurant, and he nods. "I will remember. Perhaps I can also assist in repair, if your restaurant is still in need of it," he adds, when she mentions the roof being damaged by a Darkstalker. And when she seems to remember something she needs to do, Raiden nods. And chuckles at the mention of her culinary prowess. Whether the question is rhetorical or not, Raiden has an answer. "It may yet, one day," he notes mysteriously. "Take care, Miss Jam. And thank you, both for the food and the company."
He waits until Jam has left, and then turns back to Zach. "To pose a counter-point. Nightwolf calls me by 'Haokah'-- the name his people know the god of thunder by. I recognize it. 'Lei Gong', the name I used in the battle against Rugal, is a name for one of the gods of thunder in China. I remember it as well. 'Raijin'. 'Zeus'. 'Thor'. 'Adad'. 'Shango'. I recognize all of these names and more, would likely answer to them the way you would to your own."
"Or maybe you really ARE an alien, like Jam thought," Zach counters, kind of warming up to the conversation. "And you've studied long enough to put up a good act," he suggests, emphasizing the point with his chopsticks.
Zach considers for a moment. "Clearly," he finally says, "You are a being of immense power, and a presence unlike..." Zach stops short, a hammer of memory slamming into his thought. A man who claimed to control time itself, and had the ability to more than back that claim up. But... that didn't really happen, did it?
"Unlike anything I know that I have encountered before." Very specific word choice there. "You're someone to be respected, certainly," he says, trying to play off that awkward pause. "And I think you are on the level," he admits.
Raiden assures Zach calmly, "If I had another answer, I would have offered it instead. It is not in my nature to lie." He does indeed note the pause. The look on Zach's face... as though he'd been reminded of something, but something that confused him? "...Are you all right?" he inquires.
Zach seems to come back to himself, and he tilts his head at the statement. "'On the level'? On which level?" A pause. "But this talk of names... this reminds me. You have not given yours. Might I ask it?" he inquires politely.
Zach shakes his head slowly back, then forth, then back again. The movement might strike Raiden as one of habit. "I'm fine," Zach says quietly. "Just... it's hard to explain. It's not something I really understand." At all. He takes a deep breath, recentering himself on the now.
"Zach," he answers truthfully. "Zach Glenn."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Zach Glenn," Raiden replies. He pauses, a thoughtful look on his face. He seems to be thinking of how to phrase something. And when he speaks again, it's slowly, as if he's putting the sentence together as he speaks it. "Earlier, you protected Miss Jam when you thought she may be in danger. Is this a common occurence? Not for Miss Jam to be in danger, but for you to protect others who may be in danger?"
Zach ponders that around a mouthful of food. The question is a simple one, and at the same time really not. "It's... what I do," Zach finally answers. "It's what I've always done, even when I was little. Even before I came into my talents." It's not boast. Even without the cultural mindset of the United States Marines, the protection of others is something fundamental to Zach's character.
"Not everyone can protect themselves from the things that prey on them. Someone needs to stand in the gap," he says. "Helping people is... something of a family tradition," Zach comments with a grin that is only brought about by fond memories. "It's expressed differently from person to person. Mom's a doctor. Dad's a counselor. I protect people, when and where I can. My grandfather was a soldier. But we all help people."
Raiden watches Zach's facial expressions change as he speaks, the thoughtful expression to the fond smile. He is unlikely to see subterfuge there, if Zach is telling the truth. He waits until Zach's done speaking before he notes in return, "I see. Nightwolf protects people as well. He is a Sin-Eater-- he can sense evil... draw it into himself to lock it away, or temporarily make himself stronger in the face of what evil he fights. Though it damages him to do so."
He tilts his head, and then notes, "We have been seeking people of like mind to join us. There is an invasion imminent." A pause. A question first-- "Did you hear of the recent attack by the woman in the purple outfit? She attacked a well-known fighter and injured him rather badly."
Zach's eyes narrow as Raiden explains the concept of 'sin eating.' "That..." Zach thinks about the mechanics of it. Intentions are power. Few people understand that concept as well as those who wield the power of the soul. "What this Nightwolf person does can be extremely dangerous. He risks tainting, twisting himself every time he does that." It's not something Zach could do, but he certainly seems to understand some of the underlying principles behind it.
"Where is this invasion coming from," he finally asks, a fire in his eyes.
"Yes, I know," Raiden returns quietly, to the mention of how dangerous 'sin-eating' is. "So does he. It is a tradition of his people, and he is their shaman. He knows that it will one day kill him. He takes this burden on so that others do not have to. Not until the day he can bear it no more. And then another will take his place."
However, Zach seems to want to get right to the crux of the matter. "Outworld, there on the boundaries of where the Earthrealm becomes less cohesive. That woman is a Tarkatan, one of the many twisted creatures who inhabit Outworld. Here, those of us who intend to stand firm when the invasion begins make our stand. Our numbers are few now, but any who intend to protect Earthrealm from the invasion of Outworld is welcome here."
The concept of such a place... it's not one Zach can easily grasp. He takes in the information, and simply nods once as he finishes off his plate of culinary paradise. He stands up, cleaning up his mess as he does so. He looks to Raiden.
"Then," he says slowly, "I suppose that here is where you'll find me." The psion's voice is quiet, soft, but there is a layer of bedrock underneath all of that. His passion doesn't shine, doesn't burn, it simply /is/. Formidable, undeniable. "I'll keep my ear to the ground. Metaphorically speaking."
Raiden stands as well. "Do you have a contact number? Nightwolf has one of those... cellular phones, so he will be able to contact you more easily." Nope, he has no idea idea what a cellphone is. But there's a reason he asks. "This way, if Outworld invades sooner than expected, we will be able to let you know."
Zach nods at this, not showing surprise at the concept of Raiden knowing anything about cell phones. "He and I should probably talk anyway," Zach says politely as he pulls a small business card out of a pocket. He offers it to Raiden with one hand, holding his take-out tray in the other. "I might be able to help him with that sin-eating thing," he offers. "Or maybe give him some good advice."
Accepting the business card, Raiden looks at it. He commits the information to memory. Though he looks up when Zach mentions speaking to Nightwolf over the sin-eater business. And nods. "If you can ease his burden without causing harm to yourself, I would be grateful," he says quietly. "Nightwolf's... profession is likely to end his life very quickly. We have both prepared for this, but if there is a way to stave it off without harming another, I myself am willing to listen. Perhaps he too will be. I thank you."
Log created on 22:56:24 01/01/2015 by Zach Glenn, and last modified on 20:33:30 01/04/2015.