Description: The aftermath of the war has left a number of mysteries unresolved and the burning life draining wasteland outside of Southtown is on the minds of a few of the powers that be. This leads the Zepp colossus-soldier Potemkin and Korean Tuner Kum Haehyun to investigate and the two seem poised to produce a potential alliance as a result Suddenly: TERUMI AGGRO.
Though the war between the Mishima Zaibatsu and the forces of the UN has ended, Japan is left with many problems: roaming Gears, lost without commanders; escaped monsters that have slipped through broken seals; once forgotten gods given a new chance to claim this realm as their own. All of these are problems the world must face in the coming days, but for some--for some there are other problems. Disrupted energy flows, places where the flow of energy from the earth is disrupted. It is this last sort of problem that has drawn a visitor to this dark forest to investigate.
A giant of an old man who stands over eight feet tall walks through the disturbed forest. While the woods are recovering in some places, here it is different. The animals stay far away, and the grass and trees refuse to grow near it. The old man's heavy clogs clunk in the dry, cracked earth. He strokes his moustache thoughtfully, pulling one side of the fu manchu to the side in contemplation.
"Mmm," his voice is gruff and weathered. He mumbles something to himself...is that Korean?
A jagged wasteland stretches out from the edge of the forest, spanning as far as the eye can see. A blasted scar of ruin and sapped lifes essence with perpetually burning bonfires of green scattered here and there, sending aloft a sickly palor of green into the sky giving it a perpetual cast of that sickly green usually associated with tornado weather or worse. Needless to say, it aint pretty looking and it's not the sort of place that the normal or the sane would deliberately seek out.
"Identify yourself!" booms a deep voice, rumbling with the tenor of an earthquake given the ability to articulate itself. A bassy rumble so low as to be almost unintelligible, thrumming from the depths of a chest as massive as a highway is wide.
The speaker is a true giant, looming even larger then the titanic elderly Korean by some noticeable inches but built with proportions that some might assume to be machine like given the size of his arms and upper body compared to his muscled lower body. Few machine parts are present here though. The impossible tonnage of his vastness super-hard muscle that radiates a raging fire of barely contained chi focused purely on enhancing strength and durability and barely restrained by the tight fitting military uniform worn by the giant.
He addresses Kum from the vantage point of a towering craggy overlook that had been forcibly jutted upwards from the earth below by whatever shockwaves passed through the area. A massive armored fist is clenched and huge red gun gauntlets lock into place as he settles glowing white eyes upon the Korean. "This region is off limits. Turn back."
The elder Korean suddenly stops his moustache twirling. "Hm?" He tilts his head suddenly toward the sound of the newcomer, and he changes languages to match the new voice. "Off-limits? An unfamiliar uniform...and two sets of five strings. Amazing that your body can handle it..."
The old man takes a step toward Potemkin, and he runs his hand through his beard as he does. The other hand remains folded across his chest and tucked in his robe.
"Do you know what happened here?" The old man glances at one of the lingering fires. "Everything is out of tune. This will only get worse given time."
The huge soldier studies Kum with narrowed eyes that do little to betray his actual curiosity. Duty calls and all but it's clear that the massive Korean is of some interest to the Zepp born giant. Still, one has priorities they must attend to.
"I do not know what you mean by 'five strings' but I assure you that my body can handle more then most realize." This last bit is said with the faintest hint of snark as if Kum touched on a nerve there. The titan tires of having to prove his value having already had his worth tested by Kagura and the Black Knight claiming to have found Potemkin's limits. The loss stung somewhat even though he was sloppy and brazen during the fight, yielding carelessly to such a powerful foe.
But that' s not here and now and he shakes his head as if to dust out the cobwebs.
"Off limits. I am a Zeppian Envoy with permission to investigate this phenomenon on behalf of my government with our hand extended to the local government to provide aid in quelling this should our data prove helpful. You - however - have yet to identify yourself. If you come closer you will be in danger. An aura of death seeps through here from the blast zone, draining life and putting all at risk. Slowly spreading. " he clips his words at that, refusing to yield more information until this newcomer proves he is worthy of it.
As Kum draws nearer to his perch, Potemkin leaps.. his enormous body hauls skywards and then drops the distance like a massive military trawler with legs. He thunders to the ground and then straightens up to face the approaching giant.
"Oh ho! A foreign envoy, Zeppian no less. I have heard Zepp has remarkable technology -- and an equally remarkable leader following a rebellion. To think that I would encounter a Zeppian here..." The old man speaks with confident, arrogance even. He speaks as though he's well-traveled and confident in what he knows.
"--oh, hah! No no, that is a compliment! Your body composition -- your chi -- is uniquely potent. Most would not be able to handle that sort of power without tearing themselves apart," he says with a half-chuckle. He then adds, more quietly: "Or tearing the world apart around him..."
"Whatever the case!" the old man points at Potemkin, unintimidated by his bounding leap even if it makes the old man take a step to maintain his balance. "I am Jonryoku Kum, emissary of the Kum family. I have come here because of that aura of death. If the forest around here is retuned, perhaps there is still time to stop its spread."
Well now, it is fortunate that Potemkin is not hot headed nor thirsts for battle for once Kum explains himself in further detail, the goliath is forced to pause and consider the situation logically and from the standpoint of the authority he has to exercise here on behalf of Zepp.
"Truly? Hmm..you are also perceptive for you aren't far off in regards to your observation of my chi and strength. It's pretty much as you say.."
Kum's words do much to quell the situation and keep things from getting hostile or out of hand and Potemkin re-examines the other giant cautiously but thoughtfully before saying, "Nevertheless, I cannot advice that you continue any further in." He raises a truck sized arm and points in the direction of the jagged scar and ruined wasteland with the ever burning flames, "If the perimeter drains life as such I can only imagine what happens the deeper in you go. What is this..tuning..you speak of?"
Kum Jonryoku makes a nose that sounds like a short, stiff laugh. "I would be a fool to not perceive a man of your stature carries a great deal of power, but yes." The old man turns to look at the damage, appraising it quietly.
"I am more resilient than my age would imply, but yes. I would avoid the 'eye' of this particular storm without proper percautions." He pauses, looking downward slightly with those white eyes.
"And besides, I fear the damage done may be beyond my power to correct further in. Containment may be the only option..."
But then, Jonryoku turns toward Potemkin. "What is tuning? That is an excellent question, yes," he strokes his beard. "Since you did not question it earlier, you are aware of the existence of chi, yes?"
"I'm loath to admit it but the matter may be beyond normal technological means. Perhaps something enhanced by Chi-Tek.." muses Potemkin as he considers the wasteland. He then turns and listens as Kum goes into further detail. "Precautions?" he asks.
When Kum poses his own question, Potemkin nods "Hmm? Quite so, yes. There are many ill explained things in the world.. Chi is but one of them but only a fool would claim that it did not exist.
"Mm," the old man mutters. "Yes. Perhaps it is strange technology, like the Gears." He continues to stroke his beard. "Or perhaps it is something more supernatural. This region is known--well, known by some--for its supernatural potency. It is a holy place with many seals to contain evil."
"Think of Tuning as one thinks about music, except the instruments in this case are the world and what lives in it. Anything with energy can be tuned. Plant, animal, sometimes the earth itself where its aura is dense. Tuning has many benefits. It is not to be wantonly."
"I see." responds the other giant. Potemkin straightens up to his full height, resting both of his immense arms at his sides as he considers kum, "You have this ability to 'tune'? Impressive but.. You mention that anything with energy can be tuned. What about things that are dead and dying?"
Potemkin indicates the wasteland and the forest edge with a sweep of an armored hand, "There seems to be a spreading ring of sickness that is causing this place to die and lose life and reports of the blast zone indicate it is utterly incapable of sustaining life. I suppose you could compare it to the soil and surface of a place like the moon. Maybe less then that. what could tuning do for that?"
"Mm," the old man repeats. "That is the difficulty. What is already gone is beyond my help. Tuning is powerful, but I cannot repair an instrument that is already broken." He steps forward, crouching down from his great height to inspect some of the green flames. He keeps his distance, inspecting them from a safe position.
"But if this is left uncheck, it will continue to spread. Retuning that which still lives might slow its advance."
"Do not get to close." warns POtemkin. To this point, he himself has been staying car enough from the border of where the aura of death -seems- to be spreading to with the nearest of the flames further in behind the rim of the wasteland.
"We know to little of this deathly aura. If it might impact those who get to close or if it can even be transferred elsewhere..."
The warning give, the huge soldier returns to a more neutral stance and rumbles, "When you attempt this 'tuning' are you vulnerable? Will you require protection? Is it possible to do a quick test?"
Kum Jonryoku looks at Potemkin, his lip curling slightly upward at the show of concern. "I see that you heart might match your stature. Zepp does well to have you in its service."
And then, the old man draws his hand out from the folds of his robe. He raises it in front of him. He places his other hand against it, fingertip to fingertip to make a pyramid shape. With deep breaths, he closes his eyes and focuses with a deep, resounding hum of meditation.
And then, purple threads--like the strings of an instrument--start to weave through the air. The curl out from the left and the right, tracing through the air in faint purple. Where the aura touches and the ground is barren, there are none. Likewise, those that are threading through the air curl around the weave around those spaces, changing course to stay outside the perimeter.
"A soldiers first duty is to the citizenry. It would be both wrong of me and a lapse in my duty to allow you, a civilian, to come to harm even though I suspect your strength is only slightly hinted at by your build. Potemkin gestures with a huge hand as he speaks but then quiets as the old man begins his demonstration.
"Fascinating.." concludes Potemkin, "Perhaps there is some merit in arranging to have you attempt to do something about the perimeter but..we shoudl be wary. We don't know what caused the destruction and if it may be lingering and we dont' know if there are any side effects yet. But it might be worth a try.."
"Admirable indeed," Kum Jonryoku says with a nod, continuing the process. There's a faint thrum that sounds like someone is plucking at a zither. "I will do what I can to strengthen the tuning around it. Perhaps it will hold until we can get to the bottom of this matter."
For several moments, the old man maintains his meditative posture as he engages in the isoteric art of Tuning, but then, he speaks up:
"What is your name?"
"I am called Potemkin." rumbles the giant as he observes the tuning continue to strengthen and thrum. He squints his eyes curiously and then explains further. "As said before, I am the elite Presidential Guard of Zepp's President Gabriel. I was dispatched to Japan during the war to aid in the recovery of the stolen Chi-Tek and then remained to render aid during the attacking gear armies and the aftermath. I returned briefly in the interests of maintaining diplomatic relations with some of the local groups and to investigate these matters on behalf of Zepp."
He swivels his gaze from one edge of the disaster zone to the other, "If these threats pose a possible global risk, we should learn about it and deal with it swiftly."
"Japan was went through many troubles as of late," the old man notes with a quiet rumble. "But perhaps diplomacy is possible with the Mishimas no longer negotiating for the people here."
"Even if the threat is local," the Korean continues. "It would be best to stop here and now and keep it that way."
"We do not have enough information and even what you do now eludes me, though you've explained it somewhat. I feel it is alright to trust you, though. Regardless it was so close to the activities of the rogue Gears and the wars that it merits investigation, yes. At the end of the day, aside from you confirming what I already speculated..it seems I'm coming up with empty handed. I was hoping I'd maybe encounter some NOL members here as well as they were to also be investigating and we have mutual interests."
He quiets then, allowing the massive Korean man to continue his efforts while studying the less decayed areas to see if there is any sort of impact yet.
The tuning finds something strange surrounding the scar. The chord seems to resonate in a strange way; unknown to Kum Haehyun as they begin to rectify the massive damage, this wound is connected to the aura of a very specific being. Far away within a humble building, a hatted figure jumps. "Oh, my. Someone's trying to fix your mess...?" There's a sigh as the door is locked casually, Hazama then settling into his chair and pulling out a small pill. "Guess I'll be dying again..." He flicks it up and catches it in his mouth before swallowing, shifting his bowler hat over his face so anyone peering in might think he's simply napping...
Suddenly, magic swirls around the area. A single point of blackness seems to manifest, and a strange entity begins to draw out of it. Black limbs stretch out in some malformed resemblance of something humanoid, before a green heart beats into being and emerald leylines swish throughout. A single green dot appears on the left side of it's face, crimson line stretching into a wicked grin.
"What are you doing here...? Tch... I see, that man from Zedd and... someone in a puppet?" states the ghost-form. He feels like neither chi nor psi, but something else -- Kum would realize almost immediately, it's nearly the exact same as those fel green flames and the corruptness that destroyed the land...
Such things are beyond Potemkin's ability to sense, of course. He's firmly rooted to the physical world and so such things are beyond his senses. Nevertheless, his Zepp-forged suit and equipment plus his own eyes and soldiers instinct are more then enough to sound warning and he tightens up to an more defensive stance as the magic swirls to life and the strange entity makes its presence known.
"What? You know of us?" he questions, surprised by that first off though he squints his gaze at the mention of the word puppet.
"You are a spirit of some sort? Responsible for this destruction? " his mind races to consider the possibilities. With the reports of angry gods and displaced immortals after the destruction of Mount Fuji, this hypothesis isn't unreasonable,
"If you are angry because of the destruction of your sacred mountain...you should know the war is over and those ultimately responsible will have justice served. There is no need to seek vengeance on this land."
"Hmmmm," the old Korean exhales deeply, taking two steps back and turning to face the newcomer. If there is one thing the old man is not, it's agile. The old man's eyes narrow, but he does not step away from Potemkin's side.
"Yes," he says firmly. "This one is the source of these fires. The pitch is the same. It is...unique," Kum's feet slide further apart, his knees bending slightly. "It is unlike any chi or psi I have seen before. Why have you come here, creature? What do you gain from this great wound in the land?"
Slowly the strange, black creature begins to grow. Arms and legs stretch out further, seeming to fill out with a shape far more humanoid. Gradually the oddly elastic ghost begins to descend, and as one foot steps upon the dying ground the shell erupts off in a spray of blackness. A tall, slender man stands there then; dark skinned, leanly muscled physique clad in a rumpled formal black suit with much of the top buttons undone and the tie hanging loose around his neck. Over this is a long yellow jacket with erratic black markings, belts running up either arm. Kum Haehyun might be taken aback; the chaos in this man's soul is incredible. It is like a nest of agitated bees, constantly rebounding off each other in a wild, hectic manner.
"What... why? I did it to send a message." Terumi coos out, stuffing his hands in his pockets and leaning back. Green fire seems to burn around him, sending his clothes billowing in the uncanny wind of his fel emanations. "There's a few people I was hoping to lure here... so far I've got two of them down, but another's just slacking off!! What a waste!!"
His left eye gouts out green energy beneath the shadows of his hood, grinning wildly at the pair. "I didn't expect to meet someone who could fix my little mess here, though. Aren't you interesting, my little matryoshka doll!! It took a lot of effort to do this; I can't have you FIXING it just yet!! Why don't you go run off and die..."
A dismissive flick of the wrist follows, as Terumi hunches forward to grin at the pair. "Or I'll send you both there myself!!"
Potemkin steps forward slightly, thrusting out a huge arm in front of the giant Korean, in a gesture that would be considered ridiculous considering how large Kum is..until you consider how large Potemkin is. His gorilla like proportions more then capable of acting as a physical shield for the other immense figure. No matter, it seems adopting a defensive posture and retreat is on his mind. He knows killing instinct and tremendous power when he encounters it. Potemkin is not one to truck with the supernatural without being more prepared than this.
"If you strike either us down now, it'll only make your mission harder. It would only attract a far larger investigative effort here, one possibly including those with power that far outstrips ours. Certainly that would pose a problem for whatever you're attempting." He looks to exchange a glance with Kum, "We can depart."
" A message..." the old man trails off. "If this is how you get their attention, I doubt I would want to meet them myself." Danger or no, Kum's clogs dig into the dirt as he slides into the stance of a martial artist. That is, until Potemkin puts an arm forward in his way. The old man tilts his head and looks up at the greater giant.
"Hrrm," Kum says. "That may be wise," he nods. "But do you plan to let this spread until you find who you seek?" he calls to Terumi past Potemkin's hand.
"Aren't you two so reasonable." Terumi says, almost appearing to coo. "If they haven't come now, I doubt they are going to now..." There's an annoyed sigh from the mage as he stands near the edge of the magic circle, looking it over with disinterest. "I probably shouldn't leave such things laying around, where people can get their greasy mitts on them." He then extends his hand, and all of the scattered green flames surge into the air. Whirling overhead in a great dragonlike rush, they descend to slam into an opened sigil on his hand, vanishing over a stretch of almost a dozen seconds. When it finishes, the air of the scar feels different. The deathly void is gone, although the massive wound still remains behind, anything but stable. "But... more powerful investigators, you say?" Terumi flicks his hand, a few motes of green embers whispering down to be stamped out by his loafered foot. "Like who...?! I'm rather curious if there's any strong people I've yet to notice in the world!" Eyes shift to Potemkin, a wild expression curling his face. "That Gabriel fellow... he's awful enigmatic. I hear he's strong... would the world care if I tried to rip off his head, you think?"
Potemkin does not have a reputation for being cool headed and tactical for no reason at all. The attempt to bait him into an angry retort rushes against his immovable frame with the effectiveness of a wave brushing up against an atmosphere piercing mountain. His eyes narrow ever so slightly at the threat but he makes no forward movement and instead rumbles, "You are rather well informed for a supernatural magical being. Yes, he is quite strong. Should you decide you'd like to try and make good on your threat, you will discover for yourself how powerful he is. Let's just say, I do not advise that you make the attempt. Some things are best left enigmatic."
He looks over the now doused wasteland and then lowers his massive arm to take a few steps backwards until he's side by side with Kum now, "Interesting.." To Kum he says, "Let's go.." While we still can is unsaid but is practically shouted through Potemkins' narrowed gaze.
"Fascinating..." Kum says, watching the flames disappear back into their source. "You are certainly a powerful one, but one who is unfamiliar to me. Perhaps there are some spirits who have escaped my records..."
He runs his thumb and forefinger along his moustache thoughtfully. The mention of Gabriel likewise gets his attention, Kum watching Potemkin with curious eyes.
"Yes, let us go."
"I suppose... you could call me a spirit..." Terumi comments, seeming disappointed. Two stoic, resolved souls; although the one in the armor has a well of unseen power like he's only seen a few times in his life. Curious, but not applicable to his current efforts. Hazama had made no mention of that particular quirk. Still, it's clear that any violence here would do little to add to his resentment, and do much to add to the knowledge people hold about the strange ghostly mage. "Tch!! Whatever... fix my little hole if you want, Mr. Doll..." He peers instead at the interesting soul lying at the heart of the massive man, grinning sadistically a final time. "Although I'm sure at least one of you might see me again someday..." A parting glance is sent towards Potemkin, before a black disc appears beneath Terumi, spiraled by green chains. Slowly he descends into it. No reason to waste his limited reserves of self-observation here... two people fell for his bait, and that will have to do for now...!
Nope. Not trusting he's gone just yet. Potemkin withdraws, pulling back some distance with steady pounding steps until he's at least partially confident it is safe to speak..and really it might not be ever truly safe to speak considering...well..magic! Terumi could very well be around so it's all a moot point. At anyrate he rumbles,
"Whatever that thing was, if it was capable of creating that wasteland, attempting to engage it in battle at its baiting would have been foolish of us. Once he identified that you wre actually capable of interfering with the effects of his..whatever it is he did..protecting you became priority number one. Your ability might be the only thing we know of at present that can do ..something..about these effects. If it happens again, or if we need to do something about this scar.. You'll be needed."
He pauses and then rumbles, "Certainly not a good idea to let you get killed then, wouldn't you agree?"
Kum Jonryoku does not object to the retreat. There is plenty of work to be done, but attempting to do with such a powerful newcomer -- spirit, deity, or darkstalker -- seems profoundly unwise. The old man takes heavy steps, adjusting the chain wrapped around his arm.
"Yes," the Korean says with sobriety, his voice low and heavy. "--your concern is appreciated. I am certainly capable of defending myself, but strong allies are needed if that is the sort of threat waiting in this place.
He takes a deep breath, then drops to the ground to assume a seated lotus position. He rests his hands on his knees.
"Tell me--do you really have such strong allies?"
"I am also capable of defending myself but I also believe one must fight only when necessary and we were at a disadvantage. Your protection was my new prime directive. This knowledge of 'tuning' is perhaps the first clue we have about what can be done to help this region and possibly be ready should that 'thing' strike again elsewhere."
Potemkin considers the follow up question and then slowly nods his head, "President Gabriel is extremely powerful in ability and is growing in strength diplomatically. Furthermore I believe that the NOL has good intentions - or at least members who are worth being allied with. There are others as well. With an alliance of like minded forces, there are few things that can't be accomplished, no?"
"Hrrrm," the old man makes that noise again. It seems to be a default for him. "You are wise beyond your years, Potemkin. There may be other solutions to this problem, but I am certain that given time I could mend this place--at least in part." The old Korean sits in silent contemplation for several moments before speaking further.
"I am relatively new to the country, but I have heard of the NOL. I am a bit wary of their need for control, even if their intentions are good." He turns toward Potemkin. "But even so, these sorts of threats cannot go unchecked...nor can they be stopped alone, I fear..."
"I do not disagree with your assessment." says Potemkin, "Right now they are an independant party but if nations begin granting them more and more authority, it could become probelmatic. At the moment, though, they provide support that can help deal with these unusual occurances. Its probably best to let it continue as is for now, until evidence of dangerous activities makes itself known."
Potemkin straightens up and offers Kum a salute, "I must go report on these matters. I would not remain here for very long, on your own, if I were you."
"Of course." Kum says, head bowed in thought. He remains silent for a long moment, letting Potemkin move to leave.
"Wait," he says abruptly. "At least take a contact number. I am impressed by your resolve, and you may still need a Tuner." The old man digs around in his robes before producing a small note to offer to the much larger man. "This has a number and an email address you may use. I may look old, but I assure I will receive the message."
The Zepp giant gladly accepts the number, pinching the note between his massive fingers. "You have my thanks! I am interested in learning more about what this tuning may do for me. When things have relaxed somewhat, I will be in touch!." responds Potemkin, quite sincerely.
As Potemkin withdraws, Kum Jonryoku closes his eyes, apparently lost in deep thought. Is he sleeping? It is unclear.
Inside the old man, Kum Haehyun sinks into her chair with an exhausted sigh. The young girl, probably still a teenager, runs her hand through her purple and white hair. "Phew. I thought for sure he was going to ask about all those puppet and doll comments. I can't believe that thing saw right through the robot. Spooky."
She digs a water bottle out from a side compartment, unscrewing the cap and taking a drink. "NOL...Zepp...this is going to be quite a mess, isn't it, Jonryoku?"
The robot says nothing.
Log created on 21:56:01 01/10/2018 by Potemkin, and last modified on 02:22:32 01/14/2018.