Description: Hayabusa tracks down Aranha for their months-overdue post-King of Fighters match chat! Both have been busy-- and more is looming ahead.
When one gets to travel on someone else's tab, one would be a fool not to take advantage to see the sights, especially while you're still on standby for the standings and bracket matchups for NL tournament's final 8. As a result, Aranha finds himself at the base of the Great Wall of China, listening to an audio tour in English as he moves from one location to the next.
He's standing away from the crowd wearing bluetooth enabled shades with earbuds in them staring at one of the exhibits. The audio is on low volume due to a paranoia of people coming after him. He wanted to hear it if someone were to approach him from behind.
It's an auspicious place to find Aranha. And an appropriate one. An ancient fortress, built and rebuilt against eras of strife, now as much a monument to that struggle as a tool to win it. There's something comfortingly symmetrical about it all. The Spider's senses are sharp, his acumen with the flows of chi within and within noteworthy, but Hayabusa does not appear to even try to sneak up behind him.
Instead, the Dragon Ninja is simply above the other warrior, perched feather-light on one of the high towers overlooking the tour. Did he arrive there because of Aranha, or did Aranha wander beneath him? Did the master shinobi appear there? Wait-- didn't a falcon just fly by? Perhaps alight? It's difficult to place it, but there is no malice in Ryu's arrival.
"Aranha." The voice is projected as if by mystical ventriloquism-- did it come from the earbuds? Gust in on the passing breeze? Hayabusa drops with grace to a relaxed stance adjacent Aranha, his garb simple blue-grey cloth, his face unmasked.
"I apologize for how... late I am to this meeting." He frowns, and for a moment his attention is far away, on something beyond either of them. There is something new in the way Hayabusa carries himself, on this day. Beyond the weight he carries, there resides a resolute fatigue that suggests the last scion of the Celestial Dragons has been busy indeed.
Aranha is not looking up because most of his potential threats(Jedah probably has bigger fish to fry, Tessitore has been dead and doesn't seem to have any rumors relating to her return, and Daniel probably has some issues of his own) who could conceivably come in from above were likely to do so unless those more recent enemies he was making were to hire outside contractors. Which would be more costly than he'd probably be worth to them... for now.
When the ninja drops in from above, he raises an eyebrow. That was a surprise. His voice while good natured still contains a hint of professional(ex-professional?) jealousy, "Pretty good entrance." Aranha was not used to being upstaged in his particular wheelhouse of stealth and to watch him descend from that high and still be able to land with an effortless grace and silence was incredibly humbling.
He shrugs and moves away from the group that was doing their own tour as he indicates Hayabusa should follow him so they can get farther away from the crowds.
"It's as much my fault that we're having this overdue conversation now instead of after our match like we had hoped. So I apologize as well."
Like a leaf on the wind. Or, indeed, birdlike in his grace, as his namesakes demand. If there were enemies stalking Aranha from the Wall, it's likely they're dead now. The arrival of the warrior prince of the Hayabusa has that effect on a battlefield. The Dragon Ninja inclines his head to Aranha respectfully, both a polite acknowledgement and a humble acceptance of the praise. Jealousy or no, Ryu absorbs it wordlessly.
A gesture of his own mirrors Aranha's beckoning almost in tandem, and Hayabusa falls in step with the course they both prefer. His hands clasp at his back, nestled against Ryuken's laquered saya, his footfalls even but unhurried. Preoccupied with exhibits and history, it doesn't appear a single member of the tour group even noticed the new addition, oddity that he may be.
"Many things were in motion." It's not an excuse, not even really an apology. Aranha has walked the path long enough to understand; at the end of the day, their job is triage. There are usually more crises than there is time for those on the Path to handle it with their limited hands. They both had other things to handle. "They still are..."
The energies throughout Fuji have only recently truly begun to normalize again. Now the Dragon Ninja turns his head to see a gang war escalating between two immortals and a true zealot. "Tell me, then, in our limited leisure-- what can I do to help?" For all the threats, for all the drain the last few months have wrought on Ryu, the Shinobi Prince has lost none of his unassuming altruism.
It's odd that Aranha would be the one being asked what Hayabusa could do to help since when they last talked it was Aranha that would be the one helping since he had information on the various things that would've came up. He shrugs as the non-verbal part of his response as he says, "I'm not sure. I wasn't exactly part of Full Moon Society leadership before that attack on Bastion Village. Afterwards, we were all scattered. If I recall correctly though, I was supposed to tell you how I got this way."
His hand moves to the bridge of his shades, lowering it slightly allowing for his eyes with a blue glow to be seen for just an instant.
"Started from the Unholy Genesis tournament. You were a participant in it if my memory serves. Somehow I made it into a three-way match for the finals and after taking down one opponent, the other opponent dropped me and while I was unconscious, threw the match somehow making me the Champion. Apparently, the tournament's prize was becoming a darkstalker. I refused it as you heard when we were fighting Jedah."
He pauses for a moment to let Hayabusa absorb that before continuing the story. "Fast forward, to Mortal Kombat, and I had been informed that the Doctor in Counterfeit Louboutins was on the island and I figured that taking away someone who would probably be fighting for Outworld and transferring the power to the one who would ultimately be fighting for Earthrealm on the condition that my and her power goes to the final Earthrealm kombatant. During the fight, she injected me with something that turned me to this. My body is still changing."
Key to precise action is always intelligence. That very information. That Aranha knows things Hayabusa needs to know is expected, welcome-- the Spider is often examining the world's deadlier webs. There's a nod to the first summary, here and there. "It feels like lifetimes ago, now." The Dragon Ninja admits, softly. "Have you heard much of Domah since?"
A foe like Jedah is typically shunted quite far up the aforementioned triage priorities. It wouldn't surprise Hayabusa to find such hands in the chaos now unfolding. A considering glance is paid to those otherworldly orbs, to Aranha's aural core, but it is senses well beyond sight that truly attune to the hunter's nature; to his changing condition.
"Have you discerned... into what?" It's not precisely an easy topic to probe, but it's a necessary one. They've both seen how this can go. In fact, one of Aranha's King of Fighters leads going rather far afield was a portion of how busy the master shinobi -got- around that time.
"I tracked down Daniel Jack after your warning." Hayabusa intimates with deceptive slimplicity. ".. How are your instincts? Your sense of clarity and self?" Perhaps they both know the numerous reasons that's sadly relevant. Ryu approaches it with the soft-spoken politesse such implications demand. It may not be delicate, but Hayabusa tries hard to keep it respectful.
His tale coming to a conclusion ended up causing the Dragon Ninja to ask more questions and in doing so, helping the Dancing Spider form connections to things he didn't know were related. It was truly unfortunate that they didn't have this conversation sooner.
"I haven't heard anything from Dohma since. But unfortunately Heihachi Mishima and his attack sent me into a scramble and I have focused more on matters closer to home. My apologies on that particular front." Aranha thought to himself how he was surprised that Dohma wasn't stirring stuff up. Then again, it was entirely possible that he missed out on some things just because he couldn't see forest for the trees.
He's shaken from the line of thought by the next question. "No idea. I just know I have enhanced durability, enhanced healing ability that's significantly better when I'm at rest and the strange eyes."
When Daniel Little is mentioned. A frown forms on his lips as he remembers the torture he went through. Each moment more agonizing than the rest as the only thing that kept him silent and stoically enduring the torture was thoughts of making sure his sister was safe and to spite Daniel who was trying to feed off of his pain. Mentally he connects the dots. Tessitore was responsible for his change too. Not only that, the fact Hayabusa was asking about his mental state, clarity, and instincts was a clue that Daniel was made that way through his own changes. The ones that apparently saved his life.
"As much the same in my head as I've always been. But it was interesting that you mentioned Daniel though. When he was trying to shake me down for what I had done with the energy, he said that by killing her, I freed her from Jedah. And seeing as the type of creature and how usually brainwashed they are, I can't figure out if she just, stuck me with something and I lucked out, stuck me with something and then there was another process required to mess with my head, or if she was playing the long game and attempting to use me as the instrument for her freedom and didn't expect me to kill her while I was still human."
The other edge of the quest that saw Hayabusa focusing on corrupted Youkai and diverted ley energy is that the machinations of evil men has become a subject he's currently playing catch-up on. The problem is such creatures are, arguably, amongst the world's most dangerous-- even before the hidden manipulations of a beast such as Jedah are considered. It's not a situation Hayabusa is -comfortable- with or -happy- about, but he deals as he's always dealt: He puts his head down, he strides resolutely forward, he does his duty as best he can.
It would be hypocritical of the Dragon Ninja to hunt and judge every human touched by the supernatural: he himself is, by legend and by circumstantial confirmation, a hybrid creature. That hasn't stopped others in the past, or the present-- but it's enough for Ryu. "Touched by such powers some see their darkness amplified, justified. Others master the shadow with the same strength and humility they always possessed." Most walk a path somewhere in between, perhaps, but in such circumstances extremes are far from an oddity.
"Even if there were no other difference in the treatment--" clearly NOT what Hayabusa is really suggesting he believes, "Daniel was not taken by darkness, but taken -with- it. Seduced by the opportunity, the power, the validation offered in that evil." It is with sympathy and regret that the Dragon Ninja speaks the words. It saddens him, and he fully expects that he-- that one of them-- will have to kill Daniel to stop him. To /truly/ kill him.
"He tried to prey upon me when I tried to convince him to seek help, ritual purification-- I was forced to destroy him." Despite his victory, one thing is clear as the bright blue sky: Ryu considers this a failure. "The being he is now must be sealed and purged, however, not simply slain. He will have reformed by now; and he will be more deadly. The path he now walks can only build towards suffering and shadow."
A meaningful glance of those amber-flecked emerald eyes pans momentarily to Aranha. "Whether you interrupted the transformation, it is a different process, or you are simply of a different nature, you must be vigilant. For all humans, fate flows about us like the currents of a river, enticing us along this journey or the next, and it is all too easy to follow a tempting whisper into jagged edge or particularly stagnant eddy. For those touched by otherworldly power, the call to darkness and desolution may be more compelling both from within... and without. You must stay vigilant-- and never believe the voice in your mind that tells you it's under control should you begin to slip."
Aranha doesn't really see himself as a creature of shadow. He sees himself more as an individual dealing with the cards he was dealt as best he can and one of those cards happened to be running across a scientist with more brains than scruples and he happened to not get the raw end of the deal in that particular case.
The part that bugs him and will continue to bug him for as long as he shall live is that a large portion of what happened to him took his (and in a way, his sister's) agency out of the picture. He didn't choose for Howard Rust Jr. to throw the match while he was still unconscious. His sister didn't choose to be injected with a substance in an attempt to keep him in the portion of Metro City trapped within Majigen which eventually turned her into a darkstalker. While he did choose to go after Tessitore, he didn't choose to be injected with a weird substance to become what he is today. It get kind of murky due to the actions vs. consequence situation.
"Yeah. Daniel had been slain multiple times. It never took."
Aranha is quiet as Hayabusa reminds him to remain vigilant. Aranha's particular take on capoeira requires him to take stock of his capabilities, mental state, and physical state at all times. Lack of vigilance is not an option for him. This goes unspoken since it wasn't the most favorite of all topics and giving someone who has handed him one of the most vicious defeats he has ever known more information to use against him didn't strike him as the best of ideas.
Aranha decides to bring up something that has been on his mind lately. "What do you know of Illyria?"
While Hayabusa knows little about the intricacies of capoeira, he knows plenty about the need for a disciplined and objective mind alongside the honed physical weapons in both art and practice. There are few other options in this line of work. It's this self-same clarity, Aranha's harsh and precise measure and betterment of himself, that likely leaves Hayabusa at least largely comfortable trusting the Dancing Spider to manage the situation effectively in the first place.
A creature like Tessitore seldom sticks another being by force with a syringe of benevolent helpfulness, to Ryu's reckoning-- but at the end of the day it makes little difference. The path ahead is Aranha's, and he will face it and make his choices, much as Daniel Jack did. The Dragon Ninja can only quietly advise on the perils that conclusion will likely impose.
"That may have to change." Daniel's resiliency. There are always ways around it; everything can die. There is little sign of the dangerous competitor who fought Aranha in the King of Fighters, no note of arrogance or rivalry. To the Dragon Ninja such things are simple-- sport. So many heavier things loom, and in all of them, Ryu hopes to keep an arachnid ally.
"Not as much as some realms. It's a Fae Kingdom, is it not? They can be as chaotic in growth as the demonic realms are in death... and their tenders, powerful beings indeed. All the moreso in their own realms, but not easy to banish from this one, in many cases, either. I have heard some rumblings of recent events-- were you involved? I found myself..." Hayabusa's features darken notably. "Indisposed."
"Fae Kingdom. It is in a way, but in a way, it isn't. It would be more accurate to call it a Kingdom with Fae origins. After a fae incursion was turned away, a nation was formed in its place."
Though he wasn't involved, he had been paying attention to the events, especially since it would be important for the refugees to establish a new home.
"Anyway, this nation was formed, by the leadership of the Sacred Order, and from what have been seeing has been giving safe haven to the Gears and Darkstalkers and from what I know of them they seemed to have similar aims to the Full Moon Society. I was hoping to investigate them further to see if they were what they seemed to be. If so, I may have found a new home for those who lost theirs. I'm also planning on looking into the NOL to gain an idea as to whether I can trust them."
Aranha had to admit, if only to himself, that the Library was starting off with a lower level of trust due to its policies towards supernatural creatures not within their fold.
"And in the proper Realms, they say there are dimensions in dimensions, kingdoms large and small tucked infinitely in every nook, with no true accounting to be had." Or so they say. Something about the parallels seem to intrigue the Dragon Ninja.
"It is the content of a being's character that dictates their monstrosity, not their heritage." Ryu agrees evenly, accepting the apparent mission as a positive one. Sadly, agendas are all too rarely as idealistic as they first appear; or so it often seems. "I will have to have a look." The Shinobi Prince has... close ties to the Sacred Order, after a fashion, as Aranha may be aware.
"The Librarium, however..." There's a furrow of the young master's brow, perhaps at a momentary loss for how to phrase what he feels... politely. "They are militant, and insular. The many traditions and duties seen to by my Clan and those like us.... the Librarium would prefer to eradicate those ways, catalogue our arts and artifacts, and make their own decisions about what to do with our role in the cosmic fabric."
Hayabusa shakes his head. "They want too much-- they risk too much. And if their aims and ambitions are precisely as they appear, even amounting to assimilation, I'll prostrate myself and claim idiocy." The Dragon Ninja's eyes narrow, teeth grinding lightly. "They're after something well beyond stability and knowledge. Be /very/ careful."
It was comforting to know that Hayabusa didn't exactly trust the Librarium either though clearly for differing reasons and the more the Dragon Ninja gave him, the more he didn't trust them. That being said, he still had to be prepared to find good traits in them to see if he was willing to pay the costs. But he felt that he should probably reassure his ally.
Aranha lets his mind go back to the Illyria subject though since this was something he felt they could do to help each other. They each had differing reasons to look into Illyria, and chances are they both would be coming at the investigations from different angles. This also meant that they would probably gain different bits of information with potential use for the other party.
"One more thing. Since we both are going to be looking into the nation of Illyria, would it be possible to compare notes on our findings?"
If the NOL knew the truth of the Hayabusa lineage, their positions might not be half as different as Aranha believes... As it stands, that brotherhood represents a rapid and dangerous shift in the mystical balance of the world as a whole. To say that worries the young shinobi is a massive understatement.
"They were complicit in the crisis that built during King of Fighters--" the aftershocks of which keep him on the move, still. "As much as any of the other players. Part of that which made an Elder God so irate he turned on us all."
It's one more, rather ominous warning of just what kind of danger the NOL represents, in Hayabusa's mind. "If you find anything, or need me, call the curio shop." That unassuming repository of antiques, artifacts, and souveniers along one of the paths towards Fuji.
"If I find something, I'll be in touch." He has something of a knack for that. It's likely Aranha will need his help, and vice-versa, one way or another. There are a lot of enemies on the field, potential and imminent-- enemies from without, and perhaps also within each warrior.
Log created on 18:44:33 09/11/2018 by Ryu Hayabusa, and last modified on 11:14:06 09/13/2018.