Description: Having found an unexpected treasure in the depths of the Boundary, Kokonoe puts the finishing touches on her most recent creations.
SECTOR SEVEN, SOMEWHERE IN RUSSIA
The broad expanse of the garage within Kokonoe's personal facility is almost night-and-day compared to the cramped confines of the small lab where she spends the majority of her time. The majority of the floor is an open square of polished steel and while it is free from the clutter of furniture, equipment, and stacks of print-outs that litter her private office, the woman's chaotic habits can still be seen clearly in the form of scattered piles of raw materials and idly abandoned power tools.
The lightning in the garage is bright and intense, yet another diametric opposite to the dim and somber setting lit only by the neon glow of holographic displays and humming machinery that she typically prefers. The later is present here, atleast, the soft rumbling of hidden generators feeding power to the project upon which she currently has devoted her attention.
Kokonoe sits atop a small stool as she works, her face hidden behind the large bulky plate of a welding mask. Sparks fly up in haphazard plumes as she goes about her work, cutting and sautering and adjusting with the casual ease of someone who knows exactly what they are doing. Her tails swish back and forth in the air in a lazy fashion and anyone who has known her for some length of time would be quick to note that this is a clear indication of content from the scientist, a rare thing to see in recent days.
The subject of her focus which has left her in such a good mood is that of a tall mechanical doll in the shape of a young woman. Minerva stands utterly still, her body unmoving in the way that only something which is not truly alive can achieve. The dull red glowing eyes in her pretty face stare emptily ahead at nothing, unblinking and still as her creator slices and welds pieces of her body like a doctor performing surgery. It is only when she responds to a spoken question aloud that it becomes obvious that the doll is 'awake' and aware of its surroundings.
"Hmm. There. Give me a power readout on circuits A5 through D9," Kokonoe commands, her voice distorted behind the baffle of the mask.
The dull glow in the doll's eyes flares momentarily as she complies and a few seconds later she speaks, her metallic face bending as easily as soft flesh.
"Test complete. Detecting a point-zero-four percent increase in power efficiency. Power output remains unchanged."
"Well, it's a start I guess."
Kokonoe leans back, stretching her arms into the air and lets out a long sigh. The welding mask is flipped up and she reaches for a small cup nearby, bringing it to her lips and downing a gulp of the dull brown contents before giving a small choke and frowning.
"Shit, cold already? Guess I've been working longer than I thought."
The last two days had been amazing, It was like a dream. Well no, her existance prior to two days ago had been more like a dream. A floating ephemeral sort of half life where memories played back again and again and she was only vaguely aware of it merely existing to replay said memories. Though sometimes it felt like the memories were hers but also not hers like they were out of order somehow? But she didn't question it merely experienced it again and again in timeless loops, a dreamy sort of purgatory.
Then something bumped against her in the great twilight beyond her dream like world. What ever it was it had some sort of pull and she found herself drug along with it...or maybe it was merely a part of her from that place? She didn't really know or understand it well enough herself to fully say one way or another.
Slowly as she was pulled from the twilight, there was a voice asking her questions, at first she was amazed to hear something that was outside of her memories as foggy as they were. Then even more amazingly something she'd not felt in a long long while happened, time started moving forward again. She started to respond to the probing and getting to know this new voice.
Maybe it was destiny but the voice wound up being none other than her niece, not that she knew she had one...or did she? Either way time was moving forward, someone new had made themselves part of her memories, and she was family on top of that.
Things moved quickly from her perspective from there in what seemed like moments, light, feeling, touch, taste, smell, and sight returned to her...as the fluid she was suspended from drained from the tank that first breath of air was the sweetest sensation she'd had in a long long time, "Good Morning!" Was the first words she'd uttered after satisfying her lungs.
That'd been two days ago and the girl had returned to herself, Celica Ayatsuki Mercury, Kokonoe had reminded her of that just a day ago. She felt oddly silly that she'd even forgotten something like that in all this time. Then again the real world was full of experiences, thoughts, and sensations she'd only half remembered at best. Like the simple scent of the french vanilla hot cocoa that wafted from the cup on the tray she was carrying.
"Little Kokonoe!~" Celica enthused cheerfully amused by the thought of her niece's reaction to calling her little as she entered the garage, "How're things going?"
Seeing the two tailed girl choke on her beverage, Celica only smiles and shakes her head feeling she'd made the right choice to bring something out to the garage. She silently offers the piping hot sweet beverage to the younger...well no maybe same age girl as she focused on the machine woman across from her.
"Is...is that Nirvana?" She pauses and shakes her head, "No, she looks different."
"She looks cool though!"
Kokonoe's ears perk up as the sound of footfalls echo through the wide room, turning her head to regard the new arrival with a lazy but curious glance. Her frown deepens somewhat upon being referred to as 'little', not yet having acclimated herself to the odd quirks of her newly ressurected aunt. At this point, she's atleast twice the age of the other woman, if one counts only the time that she was actually alive, yet Celica insists upon doting on her like some sort of child. It's mildly irritating but she's found herself strangely patient about dealing with it.
Setting down her welder, the cat-woman accepts the offering and placing the cup of expired coffee on the tray in its place. She sips at the steaming beverage a bit finding the sweetness and the warmth rather pleasant and her tails flick jauntily in appreciation.
"Hmm? Oh, that?"
Her gaze drifts back up to the metal doll and she idly rests her chin on a fist, propping her arm up on her knee. She sighs again and shakes her head slightly, frowning in thought.
"No. Nirvana was lost a long time ago. This is my attempt to recreate the design but without the original schematics I'm working mostly blind here. I do have some notes that Nine and Relius left behind but a lot of it has been guesswork. It's functional, atleast, but I just can't seem to get the power output where I want it."
Celica offers her niece a simple endearing smile as she takes the cup of cocoa. There's a part of Celica that'd love to cuddle her niece and give her limitless pats on the head, but somehow Celica is sure Kokonoe wouldn't enjoy that at all so she refrains from it and instead settles for mearly dotting on her like a good aunt.
"You're very welcome."
Folding her hands behind her back and the tray gently tapping against her back, Celica closes in with the doll leaning in for a closer look and giving a gentle hmm or hoho when something catches her attention from Kokonoe's project. She doesn't touch anything least it upset the cat woman though at the mention Nirvana being lost and of not being able to get the output where she wants it, Celica looks to her niece.
"Oh...I see." She sounds sad and looks away for a moment before continuing, "I'm sure you'll figure it out soon enough! You're a super smart girl!" Then her head tilts back as she thoughtfully looks at the metal doll, "What's powering her right now?"
"Is it this?!" Celica enthuses as she points and touches the power plug that is the end of the metal doll's long pony tail.
Kokonoe sips at the cocoa some more, apparently drifting off into her own mind as she mulls on the problems that have been facing her for the better part of the day already. She's been in the garage almost since the moment she woke up, pushing herself complete the final adjustments on the guardian into whose care she would be placing her aunt's life. Well, the life of the thing that had taken on her aunt's memories, atleast. She no more considered this homonculous to be her relative than she did Lambda to be her child. They are both creations, tools that she can use in the war against Terumi. Getting attached will only make the inevitable purpose for which she summoned the remnants of what was once Celica A. Mercury into being all the more difficult.
Her musing is distracted as Celica steps up to inspect her handiwork. Despite her usual grumpiness, she finds herself faintly smiling at the upbeat encouragement. Perhaps its the sugar.
"It uses a reactive furnace. I miniaturized the design to make it fit. It took me quite a bit of time to get the components for that without raising a bunch of alarms."
The sudden outburst nearly gives her a heart-attack. Kokonoe sits up straight, her eyes going wide as Celica reaches out to touch something, sure that she will find some way to cause some sort of catastrophic damage. Though the woman has been in her life only two days, that has been long enough for her to realize that her aunt is a magnet for trouble. Fortunately, with the doll in lock-down, there is little harm she can actually cause.
"Ah...! Aaaah..." Kokonoe exhales long and slow as she sinks back onto the stool, relieved. "No, that's not her power source, per se. It is how she draws in seithr to fuel her weapons systems, however. She's equipped with an Idea Engine, so she draws energy from the Boundary like a nox nyctores."
Celica diligently nods her head at Kokonoe's explanation of how Minerva is powered, her fingers brush against the massive plug that ends Minerva's pony tail. The girl who would claim to be Kokonoe's aunt gets a thoughtful look as she thinks about Kokonoe's words. Her thoughts turn to the idea of the plug being stuck in the boundary directly would solve the problem for Kokonoe, not that she was that great with magic well non healing magic, she wasn't Konoe after all.
Deciding to keep her lips shut least she annoy her niece with useless ideas, she stands back up straight and faces the scientist with her hands again folded behind her back.
"How's the cocoa? It's not too hot is it?"
While Kokonoe might be mentally distancing herself from Celica, She couldn't be more pleased with her niece and wanting to do her best to make the grumpy cat girl smile as much as she can. With that thought she steps forward about to ask if Kokonoe would like some more when something tugs at her ankle...rather persistantly. Lookind down she realizes far to late that somehow her foot had gotten caught in between the plug tongs...
With that she overbalances, falls over backwards while pin wheeling her arms, and her foot launches the plug airborne. Nothing should've happened, she totally hadn't flashed on her thought of plugging it directly into the boundary...
"Oh...is that where that goes?"
Her childlike wonder is directed at the plug hanging in mid air in a slight distortion, somehow she'd just plugged it in. Nothing at all bad could happen from this could it?
"It's fine, thanks."
As if to prove it, Kokonoe takes a bigger gulp from the cup now that its had time to cooldown to something less lava-like in nature, downing half the contents in one go. It's actually quite good, which is surprising considering the woman's accident-prone nature. She'd expected Celica to be as much of a disaster in the kitchen as she is in lab but it would seem she atleast managed to do alright with this.
All hints of praise vanish as the bumbling woman manages to get her leg caught in the most unlikely of places. Kokonoe rises halfway to her feet, a hand outstretched as if to catch Celica, but she isn't quick enough to prevent the pellmell tumble to the floor. She winces at the loud crash that accompanies the tumble as Celica manages to land amonst a pile of paint cans, all of which are fortunately empty or unopened, but no less unpleasant a landing zone for that fact.
"Haaah... it's almost hard to believe I'm actually related to you."
The cat-woman rubs the back of her neck with a frown, unsure if this clumsiness is somehow related to being a fragment of someone's shadow pulled into a new body. Maybe she'll get over it in time.
More importantly, however, is the fact that she managed to activate Minerva's systems without any knowledge of how. Kokonoe eyes the plug hanging in midair, its wide twin prongs seemingly having vanished into a rift in reality. The doll's eyes glow with a fresh surge of energy and it stands up a little bit straighter as the energy of the Boundary flows through its body.
"Interesting. You managed to interface with her already. I guess that's not too surprising considering you were the original owner of Nirvana. Well, that takes atleast one worry off my mind."
Celica catches the comment about being related to her and seems slightly hurt by it, she hadn't meant to do that at all it just happened that wasn't her fault at all. Though her eyes then turn towards the machine doll's glowing eyes. Unlike some, Celica isn't intimidated by such having had Nirvana by her side so much she was used to things like that and it no longer unsettled her at all. She then offers Minerva a smile.
"Are you awake?"
"Huh? What do you mean Kokonoe? Did you think I couldn't interface with her?"
Hurt edges into her voice as she crosses her arms and slightly puffs out her cheeks, it was clear her niece looked down on her and she wasn't going to have that. No she wasn't!
"Now listen here Little Kokonoe, I am your aunt as surely as Konoe is my sister. Don't you dare doubt that! And I am just as talented as her in different ways."
With the last statement she gets probably the hardest set to her features Kokonoe has seen her give in the last two days as she reaches out to the Doll inferfaced with her and lets her healing magic spread through Minerva. While technical abilities aren't her strong suit healing magic was well within Celica's wheel house. Thus while Minerva isn't damaged Celica's magic races through her systems, optomizing them, making even Kokonoe's godly welding abilities seem utterly flaw as if the welds themselves vanished an the parts were just meant to be that way...like they'd grown that way naturally. While it doesn't complete Minerva, Kokonoe's going to find that Celica's magic just made the need for days and days of lengthy shakedown time for Minerva's systems utterly needless.
With that last indignant sound at her niece, Celica dusts herself off, collects the tray and walks back over to Kokonoe with an unusual amount of dignity and maturity despite her humilitingly clumsy fall a moment ago. Laying out the tray as though to say 'Are you finished?' with the cup cocoa Kokonoe might not even remember she's holding after Celica's demonstration.
Minerva's body glows green as the healing magic floods the air around her, causing Kokonoe to leap to her feet instinctively, moving away from the unexpected phenomenon. The scientist watches in quiet awe as the various welds and half-fused circuits seem to melt into liquid metal and flow together to create perfectly smooth surfaces wiping away the scars of a dozen hours of work that she had not yet had time to buff out. The doll seems to relax in the embrace of this warm light, its uptight posture slouching slightly as the cold glow in its eyes dims back to normal levels.
When the magic fades, Kokonoe rushes forward to inspect Minerva, her hands seeking out the surface of the doll's arms where the most recent work had been done only to find them smooth and flawlessly cast. Ignoring Celica's indignation, she quickly does a more complete inspection, circling around the machine to poke and prod at various access points to assess it.
"Minerva, status report."
The doll straightens again as if coming to attention. Its eyes flash as it runs through various checks and programs, and at one point its head turns from side to side, glancing at each woman in turn for a few moments before returning its empty stare to the far wall. Eventually, it speaks in a dull monotone but obviously feminine voice.
"Diagnostic complete. Structural integrity: Nominal. Sensory Systems: Nominal. Power Systems: Nominal. Weapons Systems: Nominal. All systems green."
Kokonoe takes a step back, her expression one of incredulity. Out of habit, she fishes around in the pocket of her Kaka jacket and withdraws a small sucker, tearing the wrapper off with a single tug and stuffing the cat-earred silvervine lollipop into her mouth, the cup of cocoa abandoned by her stool. This seems to focus her a bit and she snaps out of the surprised daze, her expression becoming thoughtful for several seconds before she turns to regard Celica again.
"I see. I guess I underestimated you. That is quite the spell. I doubt I could come even remotely close to that level of restorative magic. That's certain to come in handy at some point."
Celica goes over to pick up the abandoned cup of cocoa, setting it quietly on her tray, she quietly frowns at Kokonoe as she focuses entirely on Minerva and the state her resorative magic had left her in instead of being properly impressed with her abilities. It also doesn't help that her cocoa had been forgotten, poor little cup don't worry it's not your fault you were forgotten...you were delicious.
"She'll be in perfect working order."
Celica's voice is strong and confident coming from behind Kokonoe. As Minerva reports that she and her systems were in 'nominal' condition. Celica would've said 'great' condition but Minerva was bound by her programming there, poor thing. Suffice it to say she was very proud of her restorative abilities and she wanted proper wonder from her niece regarding them.
"Even Konoe is not a match for me with healing magic. I'm glad you understand that you hurt your aunty's feelings now and can see I'm not some feeble goof."
Celica seems to take Kokonoe's comment as the proper level of awe and an apology for doubting her. She carefully sets the tray and cup down and then reaches out wrap her arms around Kokonoe's shoulders and give her a gentle hug from behind if she's not stopped or pushed away. She quietly adds..
"Right now you're the only family your aunty has Little Kokonoe...I'm alone besides you."
The idea that her mother was outclassed in anything regarding magic is something difficult to imagine but then it's not beyond the realm of possibility. Mages have strengths and weaknesses, her mother would have been no exception, no matter how strong she was. The fact that Nine's sister appears to have been equally powerful in her own way, while surprising, isn't that difficult to accept. The fact that even this small fragment of her soul retains that strength, however, is something to take note of.
Kokonoe frowns around the thin white stick of her candy at the accusation of having hurt her aunt's feelings. She had certainly not intended to do so, merely stating her opinions based on obeservational data. Celica has come across as something of a klutz even in the short few days she's been around, though her desire to be helpful has certainly been quite admirable. Kokonoe's assistants could stand to learn a thing or two from the woman.
"Hey, don't put words in my mouth. Besides, just because you know how to cast healing spells, that doesn't mean its okay for you to wander around on your own. Even before you died, Nine had to give you Nirvana to keep you safe. There's no way to tell how being pulled from the Boundary will affect-"
Sensing the approach, Kokonoe starts to turn to peer at the woman, only to be engulfed in a sudden hug. Immediately, she tenses up, her tails twitching irritably back and forth in sharp snapping motions as a look spreads on her face like someone swapped her candy out for a big slice of lemon. The scientist opens her mouth as if to protest then sighs softly, her ears folding down as she purses her lips in annoyance.
"Yeah... yeah, I know. Don't worry, I'll make sure Minerva is up to the task of protecting you. You have my word."
Celica's forehead is currently pressed to the crown of Kokonoe's head as she argues that she hadn't meant her words to her Celica. She notes the flicking tails of her niece as she responds back.
"Your mother was always a little overprotective, especially of me. I'm not a complete pushover in a fight e-even by myself!"
Sensing the annoyance her sudden familial affection was causing Kokonoe, Celica lets her go and makes she her back is turned to the scientific cat-woman as she gently wipes away a couple tears that had escaped her eyes and run down her cheeks. Life was amazing and better than the endless loop she's been trapped in until now but that didn't mean she wasn't a little intimidated by her situation and that there was no one she knew around her.
Putting on a cheerful face and picking up the tray, she turns back towards Kokonoe with a radiant smile. She peeks over the cat-scientist's shoulder to peer at Minerva and give the doll a smile as well.
"I'll look forward to it...and you're not that unlike your mother."
She starts to head towards the door and then pauses for a long moment before she turns to look at the cat-woman.
"Need anything else right now? If not I'll start making you a snack for later."
Kokonoe's irritation seems to dim once she is released, her ears perking back up and her tails calming to a more steady swishing motion. Definately not a hugger. Her face settles back into its usual casually lazy expression of mild disinterest, as if nothing in the world has the power to keep her attention for long, but she keeps her gaze focused on Celica as she gathers up the tray and makes her way towards the exit. If she notices the moment of emotion, she makes no efforts to acknowledge it, remaining cold and professional in her response.
"No, that won't be necessary. I'll have to run some more diagnostics to see how that magic you used affected Minerva's systems. From the looks of it, there shouldn't be any problems, but I'd rather know for sure before sending you into a dangerous situation. An ouce of prevention, etcetera, etcetera..."
The scientist is about to turn and do just that when a thought occurs to her and she pauses, pulling the sucker out of her mouth to speak more clearly.
"Speaking of, I'd like to run a few more tests on you as well. I'm not sure channeling that much seithr with a body you've only just recently acquired is the best idea, I want to see if it's affected your vitals in any way. You're no good to anyone if you die again for something as foolish as overexposure. We'll schedule that for this evening, if that's alright with you."
Celica can't help herself she's a hugger but she also doesn't like making people uncomfortable. In the end it wasn't that hard to let her niece have her personal space. Perhaps she's glad that the scientist doesn't probe her about her feelings at that moment as really she's just figuring it out herself. It's not often one is dead and gets a second chance, well outside of video games that is.
Celica nods her head and turns back to leave the garage and head back into the facility proper to figure out what might be the best snack for Kokonoe, something warm for sure maybe a fish stew...but would that be stereotyping her niece for being part feline, it'd been two days but she still had a lot to learn about the world as a whole.
"Then I'll see you later Little Kokonoe! Good luck with your testing!"
With that enthusement she makes her leave or so she thought until Kokonoe speaks up again and stops her short by worrying about her. She is indeed like her mother a great big worry wart when there was no real reason to be worried about her she felt fine and if she didn't she'd speak up. But she holds her tongue and remembers it'd been a while since Kokonoe had, had anyone that was family close to her like this and that she owed her for bringing her back from within the Boundary.
"Sure! If you think we need to, I'll make sure I come by. Anything you'd like for dinner then? Gotta keep your strength up after all, Little Kokonoe."
Two could play the worried about you game!
"Hmph. You don't need to worry about me, I've managed to survive just fine on my own until now."
She puts a little more emphasis on the 'on my own' part than most people might, perhaps unconsciously, though she's never been bashful about letting people know exactly what she thinks of her wayward father and his decision to abandon her all those years ago. Ofcourse, if Terumi is to be trusted - a daunting proposition to say the least - then that might not entirely be his fault. It's not that easy to let go of resentment that's festered for this long, either way, and hers is potent indeed.
"We've got a fully staffed cafeteria. You don't have to worry about such menial tasks. Why don't you go relax? There's a library on the second floor and some spare terminals set up in the rec room for entertainment."
"That's because I died before I could be there for you."
Celica fires back almost immediately. She didn't know all the details yet but apparently Kokonoe's father abandoned her and her mother had died as well...the sisters weren't batting well there were they, she muses to herself. There's a nagging sensation there that not only had she let Kokonoe down by dying but she'd let some others down as well, but she couldn't nail down an approrpriate memory to go along with it so it was a very frustrating feeling.
"But I like looking after you, I know I don't look it not with this body but I am your aunt and I should be doting on you right? I'll get caught up with things like that later and it's fun to do things right now...I just existed in the Boundary so it's very nice to live how I like."
With that statement she seems to get a thousand yard stare and focus far beyond Kokonoe and this conversation, before she snaps back to herself and her smile goes from a vague and far away to genuinely warm.
Celica chuckles gently at the silliness of them trying to worry about the other more, "You deserve a few smiles little Kokonoe."
Kokonoe sighs and rubs her temple, her ears twitching in annoyance. Apparently her intentions have been entirely misunderstood. While she certainly has concern for the well-being of her aunt's doppleganger, it is born purely out of practicality. A dead tool is of no use to her. But the last thing she needs is someone hovering over her shoulder all the time.
"Fine. Whatever, do what you want. I'm sure the kitchen staff will appreciate the extra pair of hands."
She pops the sucker back into her mouth as she turns around to focus on the doll again, pointedly picking up a datapad and tapping on its screen to indicate that she's got work to do. Minerva responds to the signals with quick and precise motions, her arms going through a series of positions as she runs through a routine motor-function test while Kokonoe stares at the readout, her fingers tapping on the plastic screen every so often.
Celica can tell that something irritated Kokonoe but she doesn't know what it is exactly about their conversation that had done it. Her smile a tad confused and less bright she turns quietly as Kokonoe makes it clear she's been dismissed. Not wanting to upset her more the time displaced soul wanders back to the facility leaving the cat-scientist to her work and the cafeteria quietly before cleaning out the cup and sitting thoughtfully staring out the window at the Russian landscape beyond. Quietly she says almost to herself...
"What did I do wrong?"
Log created on 16:38:46 01/01/2018 by Kokonoe, and last modified on 23:21:33 01/01/2018.