Description: Two legends meet in the wake of a number of explosive battles, just outside Castle Illyria.
Well things could be better..
Leo Whitefang races through the rugged terrain and twisted woods that separate the Basecamp from Castle Illyria. His brow is knitted in frustration and his teeth gritted in a form of determined anger that is directed at himself.
It's not that Leo regrets the various distractions that have come his way especially considering one led to an a former NOL lieutenant of true nobility, opting to find a new path for her to pursue justice. A worthy distraction that, as was stashing away the allied (?) Gears that have joined them in the aftermath of the prison break -- It's just...he had hoped to reach the Base Camp much sooner than this and as he sees the glow of the blazing fires just over the horizon his heart sinks ..and his anger grows.
"Is this all falling apart?? What's happened to Ky??"
The world offers no answer he's looking for. Instead fate again intervenes as a sudden explosion of wood and debris as three ogres erupt in front of the Great Knight, shaking the ground and sending a plume of dust billowing into the air. The wailing howls of distant Banshee's and Goblins can also be heard.
Leo reacts, but it's a touch to slow. He's fast enough to bring forth his iron-cross blades in a whirling surge of liquid metal - but a club lands home, lifting the large man and sending him tumbling backwards through the air and then back to the ground hard where stabbing his blades into the ground to arrest his sliding movement is about all he can do.
"Huurkk!! Good! Your timing couldn't be better monsters. Come on then!"
Even the world's mightiest heroes are not immune to damage.
The One-Eyed Twin Lotus was left with much to consider after his stint in the World Warrior tournament. Decades of penitent introspection had honed his battle senses to a degree few mortals could touch. And yet, though he had fought so hard to bury pride beneath dozens of years of training and muscle memory, the foul malady common to all great martial artists nonetheless showed itself in the waning moments of his two defeats. And both of those who had defeated him faced off against one another in the finale -- small comfort considering the horrifically powerful prize in storer.
But while one evil slumbers, waiting to be unleashed by the victor of said tournament, a darker, more insidious evil lurks in the land of Illyria. And while neither Wolfgang Krauser nor Geese Howard was the shining paragon of good intentions the ancient cat felt they ought to be... they were only human after all -- and thus predictable.
The forces lurking in Illyria, less so.
The ogre wheels around, swinging his club through a vicious arc as both a means of expressing bravado and as a simple follow through. But when the club is reversed, swung around as a bludgeon in a second strike to the downed Whitefang? The club is neatly cleaved in twain -- and half of it sails off in an unrelated direction.
Two tails, black in color, and tipped with white, swish back and forth in front of Leo. Their owner -- a black cat, clad in a bright orange frock -- crouches low, reseating the infinitely sharp weapon within its scabbard. The nekomata's sole eye glares up at the ogre, but as he speaks in his ancient Japanese accent, it is to Leo he speaks and not the ogre.
"There will be plenty of time for death wishes later, Whitefang. We need to talk."
The ogre may have been stunned by the arrival of the four-foot-three cat in front of him. The moment of speech gives him time to recover, swinging half its cudgel towards the crouching kitty.
But in the next moment, the cat leaps forward, unsheathing the blade once again, a smooth scrape of metal against lacquered wood slicing through the sky. Light catches the blade as it describes an arc across the ogre -- an arc further punctuated by a splash of crimson as the Legendary Hero Jubei slashes diagonally upwards, bounding to the second ogre even as the first begins to fall back.
As he sails through the air, taking another elegant swing against the second ogre's bulk, his calm voice continues: "My name is Jubei. It seems we may have some common ground."
Leo Whitefang has seen a lot. With the Sacred Order's primary mandate through Interpol to deal with matters of the supernatural, Darkstalkers and other similar elements.. he's been exposed to all matter of surprises and bizarre happenings and especially creatures that are inexplicable by most uses of logic.
He can't say he's ever seen anything like this before.
And so he just sort of stares, eyes squinted in confusion as what -seems- to be a talking cat at first glance, not only saves him but cuts down his opponent in a flurry of motion that takes Leo an additional second to register. "What in the.."
His confusion doesn't remain overly long though. He is Leo Whitefang, after all. It also helps that he sees the third ogre attempting to come at him from his flank and this snaps him out of his brief lethargic moment and sends him into a dashing movement of golds and browns as he steps into the Brynhildr stance. Wood shatters and iron bends as Leo's rushing strike cleaves through the ogres weaponry and continues onward to cut a gash through the beasts midsection. All three creatures howingl and baying loudly as their prey turns out to be far more then they anticipated.
Leo Whitefang says, "Jubei!? -The- Jubei??" He says the name with some familiarity. Likely through at least some awareness of the World Warrior finals even with all The Sacred Order was dealing with. He shakes off being flustered though and remarks "..I've no death wish, but thank you for your intervention."
His blades whirl around to counter the sloppy follow up from his wounded monster and the ogre drops to the ground before the knight.
"What common ground are you speaking of?""
"The Jubei" is eager to move onto a more fluid form of conversation, less harried by the urgent demands of ogres. The second ogre appears barely fazed by Jubei's first slash, but that's soon rectified as the Legendary Hero whips about, bisecting the first ruddy wound with a second -- at which point, the fleshy mass underneath begins to burst loose with a more profuse splash of crimson. The second ogre staggers backward, clamping one hand upon the gushing wound with every intent to grab hold of the rapidly-moving cat.
And then, with another bound from the orange-smocked hero, the ogre gets kicked in the face, falling backwards like a felled log, even as Jubei uses the move to spring right back to the first assailant.
One of the Dream Blades is loosed again from its scabbard -- but rather than the impossibly sharp cutting edge, the butt of the hilt is brought to bear. A hollow impact resounds through the goliath's skull. And he, too, falls like a log as Jubei flips back to the ground.
The sword is re-sheathed with a smooth, effortless motion, as the bicolored cat looks up to Leo with a faint smile.
THUD. The ground rumbles as the ogre's unconscious body hits the ground. "Just pretend I'm sayin' some heroic junk about saving the world, I guess. Never was much good at thinkin' up that kinda stuff." His whiskers twitch, as his tails swipe back and forth in amicable fashion. "Librarium's gone an' shown their true colors. Wisht I could've warnt you about it before, but me and the Librarium... "
The mild sarcasm in his tone fades, his smile falling into a wistful sigh.
"We got history. I got a grudge against them. But it ain't one I hold against you."
So..that's two to his one..in about the same amount of time. Leo squints his eyes as he takes this in but, fortunately for him, he doesn't have long to dwell on this as Jubei makes his intentions more plain as the topic of The Librarium rears its head.
"I see.. Yes you are correct. Honestly I had concerns about The Librarium as soon as the war in Japan had ended. They so swiftly gained police power and I saw one of their leaders execute prisoners after deciding on her own they had no worth..." Still a sore spot for him. Less for her actions and more for his being caught off guard and not intervening.
"He shakes that off though and puts his weapons away with a flourish of movements, "Still, the treachery of The Librarium isn't public knowledge ... yet...and they beat us to the punch with that news broadcast about their prison center..though they did not reveal who it was that broke in. They're probably trying to save face and maintain the look of wanting to work together with us until this crisis in Illyria is over." Leo pauses and then inclines his head curiously, "Exactly..how much do you know about what's been going on?"
The one-eyed cat's ribcage heaves as he draws in a large gulp of breath. His whiskers flutter as he gets a better sense of the breeze -- perhaps not enough of a respite from the banshees and goblins, perhaps less so considering the blazing fires. But enough to enjoy the relative safety of the sanctuary amidst warring hotspots.
"To answer your earlier question -- I ain't sure what you mean by 'the' Jubei, but I can surely answer: probably? I don't hear about a whole lotta other cats goin' around with that name."
The nekomata's twin tails level out, sweeping languidly from side to side. In keeping with that amicable expression, the samurai rests one oversized paw on what must certainly be his hip, while the claws of his other paw fan out, gesturing with an open palm.
"I know at least one of the folks who started the whole thing. And he's about as bad as they come."
The cat angles his hooded head over towards the castle. "Yer right about one thing -- they want your help. There's more energy concentrated there than they've had on this planet in a long time -- and the Librarium wants it. An' they don't care who they gotta kill to get it, either."
His nostrils flare as he draws in a breath, his gaze going distant for a moment. "... Or who they gotta bring back to life, as the case may be."
His crimson eye snaps back up to meet Leo's. "So yeah. I know a bit. I can't let m'self get caught by the NOL, so -- apologies -- I've been watchin' from your team's side of the fence. But whatever's goin' on..."
Pride swells his chest.
And then, almost as quickly, it deflates.
Enough of that, he chides himself.
"Let me help y'all. Give me somethin' to do. I can't just stand around and watch the Librarium get their grubby hands on this place."
Leo listens, though there is a moment of brief embarrassment as 'The Jubei' is made note of. Of course it's 'The Jubei' - How many samurai cat's might there be?
..Though perhaps it's best to not ask that..
"I'm sorry, Jubei. It's just..I was surprised by your appearance here. I followed as much of the finale of The World Warrior tournament as time permitted. The matches that were broadcast from Strolheim... You're no longer an unknown to many who keep an eye on such things and try and keep track of people of considerable scope.."
He clears his throat, regaining more of his typical bearing and demeanor though it is accompanied by a grim but sincere smile, "And of course.. We would be glad to have your help. It's sorely needed. I think things are about to get much worse."
Leo leans back slightly, folding his arms and resting his chin down against his chest as he works this out, verbally, more for his sake then Jubei. Attempting to put all the pieces together.
" What you're saying seems to be confirming a lot of my suspicions. We have word that a dread faerie queen named Mab is intent on using this castle and the complex beneath it to perform some sort of..ritual. The dragon we were told about, these monsters we're fighting..it's all her doing. The one who told us about this queen was adamant that The Librarium not learn the details of her warning..but if what you imply is true...it's possible the likes of Colonel Relius knew this all along.." Leo glances back to Illyria Castle, "In fact, I would daresay that the power of a Command Gear pales compared to what they could do if they gain control over Mab or the Telluric Complex.."
Leo's face settles into a deep etched frown now, "In fact..it makes me wonder more if Dizzy was simply a means to set all this chaos in motion and that Relius probably couldn't care less that she's free as long they get this complex..."
Aside from a glance back at the fallen ogre nearest him -- groggy but no longer entirely knocked out -- the One-Eyed Twin Lotus focuses the majority of his attention upon the words of Leo Whitefang. "I hope you got an eyeful of everyone /else/ in that tournament, too. More than a fair share o' shady folks, there."
The itinerant samurai thinks for a moment, and then lifts his hood up, unfurling his full and shaggy mane of black and white fur to the open air. Perhaps the old warrior is feeling self-conscious next to the leonine Sacred Order commander -- or perhaps he's just wanting to enjoy some of the breeze before he goes diving headlong into flames or banshees.
"Mab," he repeats, eyelid lowering as he considers the words. "... That's some new information, yeah. And I'm sure the Imperator wouldn't mind if it's any more -or- less powerful, considerin'."
The name 'Relius' draws a frown from him -- and the thought of what he could do with -Dizzy-, even moreso.
"Pardon -- your talkin' about Relius and Dizzy in the same breath is makin' me think they got some business together. What all do you know about those two -- and where's she at now?"
There's a pause here, a brief one. This is..sensitive information after all, close to his heart and known to few but some degree of common sense prevails and he's already revealed much that was shrouded in secrecy. And then there are the subtle cues as well:
"Huh. Dizzy.. I just sort..by habit..naturally referred to her by name and you acknowledged it and seem familiar with her at that. She's not simply an object, or a weapon or the 'Command Gear' but..Dizzy.."
That seems to settle any concerns he has and he nods his head,
"Dizzy is safe. But to give you some context - She is what..sparked much of what is going on. She was in our custody and care because we knew of some deep rooted corruption in the United Nations and after she demonstrated a desire for peace and to show the world she means no harm we took her in with the intention of preparing her for a public reveal. Unfortunately..we were sloppy and The NOL discovered we had her and tricked her into surrendering herself to them. Commander Ky Kiske discovered the location she was being kept in and ..Relius was trying to 'program' her, from what I understand. We..freed her in a raid...along with other Gears that just wanted to be left alone."
Leo pauses here but then says with emphasis, "But the information the NOL has released is a fabrication. I was personally very restrained in my offensive. They're attempting to paint a picture of 'monsters' attacking and that's not what happened.."
He takes a deep breath and then says, "Dizzy is with Ky and is likely being moved from place to place until this crisis is over. I was planning to meet up with him at the Base Camp."
Jubei's eye widens with alarm, as Leo talks himself back through the apparent secrets he's spilling to an unaffiliated stranger. A Legendary Hero, sure, but a stranger all the same. He holds up both paws, cracking an amiable smile.
"O' course she is. I never thought of her as any diff'rent." It certainly helps him to have Leo connect the dots just so that he's -sure- he's not missing out on any juicy intel, but the fuzzy samurai seems to be paying adequate attention to the explanation.
"Yeah, I... ran into a guy right after she flew out of the Vatican, I guess. I knew y'all had her at one point -- was just hopin' she's safe now. Which, bein' that she's with a Knight of the Order, ought to be a given."
Jubei gives a pointed glance in the direction of the base camp -- and without much further ado, starts walking towards it. "Well, time's a wastin' -- we can chat on the way." The way he walks, he drags his gigantic paws along behind him. Aside from the very notion of a cat walking on two feet, it seems to be a particularly -odd- gait -- but it'd be easy to ascertain that the paws are not simply armor, but mechanical extensions to the feline's real paws.
"And one thing I learned about the NOL a long time ago was that a real easy way to tell when they're lyin' is when you see their mouths movin'. Knowin' Relius is still alive and kickin' in there's enough to make me angry, but hearin' he did anythin' to Dizzy just makes it worse. I'm just glad there's people out there like you, doin' the right thing."
He raises his nose, sniffing at the wind lightly. "Still. I got one silly question -- laugh if you're gonna, it don't bother me much. Does every member of the Sacred Order gotta be a practicin' Christian?"
It'd be difficult to ascertain any particular emotion from the cat as he asks that.
Straight to the point, to much so, is Leo Whitefang in regards to giving information. But he also considers himself a good judge of character and If one wishes to be an ally then so be it. Over confidence..probably. Well. Yeah. But it's mostly worked in his favor. Also, as he sees it, the time for secrets is coming to an end with the world possibly at stake and the reputation of those who stake their flag in the Sacred Order's camp.
Well..the time for secrets is -mostly- done. There yet remains something he's holding close to his chest.
But that is pushed aside at Jubei's query and he does indeed burst into a quick rough laugh before taking a hand to his forehead as it may seem he's less laughing at Jubei and more the Order itself, "Yes. It seems we need to work on our marketing material and presentation more. The short answer is no you do not."
He chuckles but then explains further while keeping pace with the samurai's movements, "We have SO members that range from Oni and other Darkstalkers to users of Shinto techniques and Buddhism. Commander Kiske is...in some ways the face of the Order and is very devout but we aren't an arm of the Catholic Church and never were. No such requirement exists. I'm a little 'lax' in my faith activities myself, I have to admit.."
He let's that sink in and then swiftly adds, "As to the rest....I appreciate your words and vote of confidence. I just hope we're not to late to bring this all to an end. My dealing with Relius have been limited, personally, but even then I can't say I've ever met anyone who so embodied treachery and misdirection. If more like him lies at the heart of the NOL.." his voice trails off at that and he just shakes his head.
With the ogres left behind, the fires of the base camp loom ahead. Running... could be an option, but the feline samurai will maintain a brisk walking pace unless Leo decides to pick up said pace. The old cat does not feel that haste will change the outcome of whatever it is to be found there, as the fires have been burning for quite some time.
"That's a relief," comments the cat, a hint of a smile working its way onto his features. "I always felt religion was a personal connection. One you gotta establish, and maintain, all on your own. All I mean to say is -- I ain't one to judge." He chuckles briefly, his large sword scabbard jostling about on his back, his tails lazily lashing about in his wake. "It says a lot for your organization that that was my biggest fear about joinin' up."
He falls silent, as Relius and treachery are intertwined together. "... Don't get the wrong idea, for every bad person in the NOL there's probably two or three honest workers. Met a few that I'd trust. The rot runs deep though."
His eye twinkles lightly, reflecting the fires in the distance.
And after a long pause, he finally asks the thought on his mind.
"What about the Phantom, mm? You ever run into her? Long robes? Tall for a woman? ... Crazy hat?"
"I know..though perhaps I have to take care to remind myself. But yes..I've met a noble member of the NOL and she gave me the names of others such as a Colonel Kagura Mutsuki.. As you said, it's what lies at the heart that concerns me."
He does blink a few times though as Jubei reaffirms his intentions on joining up with the Order. In Leo's mind, Jubei's offer to help was relevant to this battle but ..beyond?
"Right. We would never impose any sort of religious belief on anyone. It's not our mission and it wouldn't be right. A false faith, really, if you're 'forced' into it. Artifical."
He pauses and then rumbles, "..It remains to be seen what exactly will happen when this is all said and done. The NOL certainly could declare war on The Order. We're a small group. Essentially a paramilitary strike force but the NOL seems to have the resources of its member nations. A virtual army. " His head shakes as his pace does indeed pick up subtly..but much like Jubei, he suspects rushing heedlessly into danger is pointless.
The description of Phantom does give him pause though and he frowns mildly and then shakes his head, "No.. No I haven't. Perhaps Ky has? I did encounter a strange gigantic cyborg. One, Iron-Tager, the Red Devil of Sector Seven. I made an attempt to see if there could be an alliance there but things didn't bear much fruit beyond some initial exchange of information..."
A noble member of the NOL... Jubei nods quietly, in recollection of the young lady unfortunate enough to witness the reappearance of the Phantom. And her introduction to the bizarre nightmare he calls a life. He smiles detachedly, his jaw parting as if to ask the name...
But then his ear twitches at the name Kagura. That name sounds familiar, somehow...
"I'd say you're right on the money, there," agrees the cat as he continues striding onwards towards the camp. "When you got people that wanna give you orders, that's fine. But when they start tellin' you how to live your life when the work shift's over, that's when you know you're on the wrong team..."
He considers Leo's words, occasionally pausing to sidestep a shrub, or leap over a large gathering of rocks. Jubei's short legs mean he's going to have a bit more trouble negotiating landmarks than his leonine companion.
"I have a feelin' somethin' big's gonna happen. But we're just gonna have to make sure that the NOL doesn't get up with this Mab person, whoever she is. Gotta feelin' that's gonna be a door you can't shut once it's open."
Jubei continues to stride at a brisk pace, quirking another ear at the mention of Sector Seven. "... So she's been poking her nose around this place too, then..."
Jubei snorts with a faint half-smile on his feline features. "I guess she figured the Sacred Order didn't have more information than she had. Or else she found herself a way to bypass..."
The smile falls. And Jubei stops in his tracks, turning his nose back towards Castle Illyria.
"... Whitefang... er. Can I call you Leo?" Regardless of answer, the old feline continues, "Has the Sacred Order established any form of communication out here? I got a bad feeling about somethin'..."
Tager spoke of a she as well, back when they fought. There was considerable respect and maybe even a little fear as well. Now Jubei. Leo's curiosity is piqued, but, as they near the camp, Jubei's words refocuses the great knight's attention on matters more immediate and pressing.
"We have lines for communication set up ... but ... I'm getting nothing from the camp." He grimaces. Did the dragon already strike. Is that what those flames are?
"Mab's forces can't have prevailed against both the NOL and the Order...." He grunts to try and assure himself that all is well.
Nevertheless, , he picks his pace up now. It won't be much further..especially as concern and alarm begin to drive him forward with a steadily building rushing speed.
The One-Eyed Twin Lotus has a gigantic target painted on his back. The NOL wants him dead for a number of reasons. And being seen walking practically arm-in-arm with the Sacred Order commander could create a number of complications -- particularly if he is seen within the very base camp that the pair is running towards.
He'd considered that beforehand. And he'd stopped just short of inquiring about becoming an -official- member of the Order for that particular reason. With the base camp rising on the horizon, the chance for a misunderstanding that could damage the Sacred Order's autonomy rises exponentially."
Jubei turns towards Leo, his claws rooting himself into the dirt. Much as he'd -like- to provide assistance, he's got his own reservations.
"Check on them, Leo. I'll see if I can't find out what's goin' on with the Telluric Complex." Even though he's staying in place, the grizzled old cat's voice is loud enough to carry across the widening gap.
The cat offers a smile, and snaps a quick salute. "Glad to talk with you, Leo. You got allies out here, even if you can't see 'em. I'll catch up with ya soon."
Perhaps it's not the best time for the cat to join the Sacred Order. But perhaps that time will arrive soon...
Although the percise circumstances of Jubei's feud with NOL are unknown to him, the thought had also crossed Leo's mind as well. He was just willing to go along with it and press forward if Jubei was .. but some degree of caution is a good thing and he nods his head as he hears Jubei opt to hold back and put his talents to use in another way.
Though urged on by the need to get to the camp, Leo does slow just enough to offer Jubei a friendly salut ein return and he calls back, "It's clear we need all the help we can get and one of your caliber watching the Order's back puts me more at ease. I will encounter you again, soon!"
And with that he dashes onward in hopes of putting his fears and unease about the rest of the Order members to rest.
Log created on 15:20:19 05/15/2018 by Jubei, and last modified on 15:50:03 05/16/2018.