Description: Two parties on a random course have a fairly random meeting. One party leaves with more questions than answers.
In the aftermath of the battle against Alexis, father and son are no longer safe by the edicts. One would imagine at this point, in their incapacitation, someone would jump and skewer the poor boy on the spot to make a point to the man who had otherwise interfered and gummed up the works almost every step of the way he's been there.
It seems odd, then, that the two would once again mill about the purple-hued wastelands like two people simply walking about a (far greener) park, to seemingly no intended destination, and otherwise carry on like relatively normal in so much that descriptor can ever apply to a boy with no apparent combat ability, and a father with a seemingly poor grasp of just how dire the situation is for the place they call home.
The boy, Jao, is in dirtied and soiled robes. His nose has been broken, bandaged about as well as it could be for the situation. The grown-up has, somehow, recovered his usual half-mechanic, half-tourist get-up, his hair done up in braids. Not a whole lot of words are said between them, for once, which... could be a contrast from the usual babbling one of them gets up to, as they both come to a stop upon an unoccupied hill and sit down.
Maybe they're watching the sunset (sunrise? sunanything?) from where they rest...
Zach Glenn had been taking an enforced rest after his run-in with Daniel "The Lady Butcher" Little. At the end of the recommended week of doing effectively nothing, the former Marine felt a need to move about. So he went for a run. Not a hard run, by any means, but enough to get a good sweat going. The path was more or less random, but it took the young man to the graveyard.
He looks around carefully while he takes a few to cool down before starting his trip back. It's then he spots the pair on the hill. Zach's eyes narrow as he makes his way up the hill to investigate. Zach's wearing sweats with the hood down, allowing the wind to lightly ruffle his ash white hair. The slave shackle is still on his wrist, the link attached to it clinking occassionally from movement. He doesn't say anything at first; he does not know what he is walking in to.
As the jogging man does his leisurely run across a countryside - no, let's go with warzoneside, this is definitely a new word that should be introduced into the Queen's English post-haste, happening upon two live souls...
The younger one slouches forward, head buried. Wordlessly, the father has their right hand on their upper back. He points out towards the distance with his left hand, as if to point something out. (If Zach's eyes try to follow what it is, it's not clear what he's pointing at, or why it's interesting. There's nothing but purple haze here. Purple haze, death, sadness, and sometimes a fire!)
The boy, eventually, turns his head slowly towards the approaching ex-marine...
And promptly jumps up with a surprised yelp, sending the father tumbling over the hill... and down... and down. There does not appear to be any deadly exposed bone spikes or anything at the bottom of said hill, but it does sound like it hurts with every small bump.
I mean, there's an 'ow,' every so often too, that's probably a good clue as any.
The boy - a young teenager, Zach will intuit as he gets closer - still at the top of the hill, cowers and hides underneath his clothes.
"D-Don't hurt me," he whimpers.
Zach's gaze does, for a second, follow the gesture before looking back at the pair. The young man's panic is palpable, which draws a slight frown from the psion. Zach shows open, empty palms to the young man as he slows his steps. There's a faint but of confusion on Zach's face as he approaches.
Zach stops, and hunkers down a bit to match his height somewhat to the young man's "Why would I," he asks calmly.
The kid continues to cower without a clear answer. He's hurt - that much is plain looking upon his face, with a nose that has gone crooked with a bandage plastered across it. There's still some dried blood visible underneath one of his nostrils... the discoloration from a bruise on his forehead should say plenty. He may have just escaped mortal danger by only just so much!
On one arm, underneath one of the weighty sleeves, Zach may spy a series of golden beads that carry the same kind of shine - a glimmer - compared to similar accessories the warriors of Mortal Kombat bear.
"Oh, hello!" Comes a voice that is much, much too cheery from below.
The voice may be familiar, in fact, from something not all that long ago, as the overweight older man that recently took an awful tumble down the hill just makes his way back up with far too casual a stride considering the fear displayed by his charge, a friendly wave of his right hand.
Said right hand bears a sapphire-hued set of misshapen beads that are a match for the boy's... the coloration, aside.
They are - or were - both kombatants. They do at least appear to be alive, if only for now.
"Ahh, don't worry," the older man says as he comes back within arm's reach of the younger, "it's all right... yep! I'm still here." He looks back up towards Zach. "You want to watch the view, too? It's a beauty out there."
No, it's not beautiful at all. Everything about this place is /wrong/.
Zach's eyes lock on the beads for a moment, his mind running down the possibilities. It's... probably a good thing he did not have anything to actually eat before the run. Then the older man cuts in. Zach straightens up and backs away carefully, showing nothing like bad intent. The man speaks, and Zach winces.
"No," he says. "This place, this whole /island/ is just... it's just /wrong/." He looks a little ill for a moment before continuing. "This place isn't safe." He pauses. There is not any place that really qualifies as safe on this island. "We probably shouldn't stick around here."
This island is a terrible place. There is only misery and death for the weak, of which a vast many would be put under that particular umbrella. Where they trod now, there may be remains of warriors - or innocents - trampled and left to rot to dust from ages past. The purple hues that dot the wastes are a solemn reminder to those foreign to the island and the greater Outworld that this... is not home.
"Then what's right?" Asks the older man, who sits down next to the panicked son that does not seem to relax any even with Zach's care to not offend, to keep a safe distance.
The boy eyes the shackle, and cowers ever more until he outright switches sides with his father so that the older man is who sits between the two of them.
"I wouldn't worry too much," so speaks someone who must be ignor-- wait, that blue bracelet. Of course, he might have little to worry about. He's safe from death directly, isn't he? Is he failing to comprehend the true dangers that his boy is subject to? "Been out and about at," he gestures vaguely with his right hand, "I know lots of places!"
Places that he seems delighted to share, as though returning to a fond site of some long-forgotten memory. There is no way anyone could form a happy memory of /anything/ happening here.
"Not this place," Zach offers. "It's... hard to explain properly." Not to someone born without a trace of psychic talent, at any rate. "It's not a healthy place. Or a place of health, for that matter." He glances at the younger man, then at the shackle. He brings it in front of him, regarding it for a moment.
Zach takes the effort to look around and past the older man to regard the younger one. "I'm not going to hurt you," Zach says. "I promise." Zach then offers the shackled hand to the young man as if offering to shake on that.
In fairness, even for those without a trace of psychic talent, the common - correct! - instinct would be to run away and not look back, to cast this horrible place out of mind and sight and pray that whatever rock they hide under would be missed by whatever would-be conqueror.
The younger among them shakes his head a few times as Zach tries to move past the father to address him personally. To look upon him... is to see fright. Barely restrained, overflowing fear that even hard reason would be nigh-on difficult to imprint upon and overcome. Zach is witnessing this young man struggle to maintain any sort of emotional anchor that keeps him together, like he's on the verge of a complete breakdown. It's disheartening thing for anyone attuned to emotions to witness.
It might even make Zach feel even more ill.
"Ahh... sorry, buddy," the father rises up again, casting that top-heavy shadow about the landscape that falls upon Zach. The purple gives way to the black, for a moment, equal heights between ex-marine and an idiot giving the latter a small advantage only due to his elevation.
"That's my son, Jao. He's always been kind of shy around fighters," he says, bringing their right arm around said young boy. "Bad run of fighter-terrorism in Thailand, while back."
Jao - this boy, who on closer inspection does not look at all related by blood to this man - hides his face away from Zach. He looks as though he's ready to re-live just about every primal fear from a time long since passed...
Zach offers a soft, but genuine grin as he leaves his hand out there for a moment. Then the man speaks up. Mentions the incident in Thailand. He takes a deep breath as he recall. "I... heard about that, while I was in the Corps. My commander told me it was a total mess," he says softly. "I'm sorry. It had to be hard." He keeps his eyes on Jao, though. "My name's Zach," he supplies as he straightens up a but before regarding the father. Wheels are turning. The two look nothing alike, after all.
"How... how did he enter this tournament, then?" Zach demands. "He's obviously not a fighter, and yet he's here?" He might be sounding a little outraged at this. The young man does not look like he could fight his way out of a wet paper bag, and yet the father enjoys protections the son does not?
To say it lights a fire under Zach might be an understatement.
This is the first time there's anything suggesting anything really... solemn, or sad, in so far as this man goes, giving Jao another look as the youth at least doesn't tense up any further than he already has. Progress? Kind of? One may as well take what they can get in these environs. Zach is in the company of one of the walking scars of history, now under the wing of... that idiot.
Given how the kid clings to him, he must be doing something right to earn his trust. Commentary goes to a lull about the whole ordeal, until Zach introduces himself.
"Ahh, nice to meet you with, Zach! I'm Howard Rust, Jr.!" That name - the first two words. Those words should be familiar, but then there's that last bit appended at the end. "Famous adventurer, professional ninja, licensed home improvement contractor, and... lots of other things my wife would say, yep," his voice drops off a bit. There's a goofy smile as he rubs the back of his head with his left hand, "lots of things."
There's lots more things to say, as Zach segues to the more important point - why the hell is the kid here?! A question that has been asked before by one of Outworld, even...
"Funny story, this," it's not funny at all, NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS FUNNY. "You see, ehhhhn--"
"Father... he was working on the house," Jao finally speaks, startling the father again that the older man nearly tips over the hill.
One leg kicks up and outward in exaggeration, arms waving as if to keep his balance. This balancing act will mercifully keep Zach from further dumb commentary for at least as long as it takes for Jao to speak.
"Father... he... he got a call. He wanted me to hold onto his hammer," he produces a very strange object. Well, it's not strange in the shape it is. Handle, hammer head. That's a hammer.
Except the hammer head is made of an odd greenish metal that doesn't seem like the sort of thing that'd be on Earth... a curious artifact, used for something as mundane as home improvement?
"N-Next thing I know, I... I wake up surrounded by, and... and..." It's so frightening to the boy to recount. The idea of being removed from everything they knew, without apparent cause, surrounded by strangers. Engulfed in the shadows of the strong whom, one would surmise, have been chomping at the bits to eat his soul...
"Looked all there!" The father calls as he regains his balance. "Next thing you know, bunch of ninjas show up... you know how it is when you're one." Is he really? This buffoon?! "Few drinks with each other later, here we are!"
...Did this man really have friendly drinks with the emotionless, doggedly loyal, almost machine-like assassins under Shang Tsung's command? (This would be the least weird thing about the whole picture given, in fairness.)
Nothing about this is remotely fair, but, the same could have been said for the world in which everyone involved is far more familiar with. Maybe the true beauty of Outworld is that they have long since stopped pretending otherwise.
"I wouldn't know from ninjas," Zach says evenly, somewhat /floored/ that something as monumentally important as this tournament would have such elements of random chance built into it. The hammer looks odd, sure, but like anything /special/. One would have thought... well... no. Apparently even this tournament has deviated from the norms in a few ways.
Zach knows that this man, it's not the man from his memories. But maybe?
"I think I might have known your father," he says quietly, almost on impulse. He blinks in surprise at the statement. "Maybe."
It has been said that all is by the will of the Elder Gods. They probably would swear up and down that anything and everything involving this man was as they predicted. This man's continued existence... that might be a bit of a reach, but then again, he does have that particular blessing that protects him from death.
"That's not a surprise," so says Jr. as Jao resumes shrinking, huddling down in a seated position upon that hill as though he could just melt into the dirt and be left alone by the rest of existence.
"My own father's famous!" He'd have the right of it - Howard Rust, Sr. is nothing short of a legendary figure unto themselves, and it would seem that his blithering idiot of a son will be covering the basics as to relieve the narrative of its duty to relay such. "When I was growing up with the rest of my family, we went all around the globe with! Been all about there. Gee... if I were, uh, writing about it," he mimes a pen with a finger from his left hand, "to someone right now, it'd take me... mayyyybe... four hours? Before I could hit enter at."
The narrative would prefer to stop at twenty minutes, itself, barring external circumstances, but nonetheless...
"It's not that big a surprise you'd hear of him, eh? Been a whole lot of years since we last seen one another in... sure could say a lot now." This is, of course, assuming that the man in question is still alive. This man before Zach is in his mid-forties, maybe late forties? The impeccably amazing hair may throw off figures to make him seem a bit younger, but he's getting up there. How much older must the original be now?
More importantly... why wouldn't /he/ be selected to be an Earthrealm champion, then?
Zach considers the words for a moment. Then he considers recent events. Daniel is keeping track of Zach, in an attempt to get at Honoka. The psion has no way to know if, or how, Daniel would know whether Zach was /with/ her at any given moment; the Detective turned Darkstalker was working on experience in tracking down suspects. He goes pale, his skin matching his hair.
Daniel might come after these two.
"I've got to go," he says hoarsely, as he turns to start moving. "You two should probably find some other view to enjoy."
"Ahh, that won't be hard," so says the older man who may be missing the signs of fear in Zach's voice, or the draining color of his face, "there's plenty, eh?"
If by 'plenty' one means 'nothing,' then yes, there are plenty of breathtaking and beautiful sights worth taking in - what the hell is wrong with this man? Are the two of them even that safe? Is that kid even safe having someone like him as a legal guardian? Absolutely nothing about the whole picture makes sense between them...
"L-Let's go, father," Jao says, as though agreeing with Zach as he stands up, "it's... it's hard to breathe here..."
"Oh, all right." Where else can they go? Shouldn't they be, like Zach is doing, keeping on the move? They are no longer in the tournament, after all. Anyone, at any time, could jump out and demand kombat. The younger boy's life and very soul is, almost surely, an inevitable forfeit...
Zach has, at least, done his good deed for the day.
Log created on 13:53:50 11/19/2016 by Zach Glenn, and last modified on 11:56:16 11/21/2016.