Description: In Metro City's scar of a central park, Clio St. Jeanne meets with a lord of the Darkstalkers, Demitri Maximoff. Thought may be the two share mutual enemies in the NOL, but the reality is deeper and more complex. All the same, the vampiric lord shows an interest in the uninterested and knowledge is gained about the truth behind the facade of the Librarium.
Metro City, nighttime, the Park. The big Park. Metro City has plenty of Parks, but this was the emerald in the crown. Since the Majigen Incident, the park has been a scar to remind the people of Metro what came with Darkstalkers. Reclamation may yet come, but not for some time yet. Now, the dead skeletons of trees claw upwards to dark skies, blackened further by the light pollution from the city proper. And all sits with the faint lingering bitterness of loss and hurt.
Clio St. Jeanne remembers the park in better lights. The blossoms, the flower beds, the grasses and stones. A natural place in the heart of the concrete, glass and steel. It wasn't too long ago she was a child here, before Majigen, before the NOL, before the world as she knew it began. But she also remembers the nights. A small child, sitting in wait. The eager near-madness of a child's anticipation. Waiting for the chance to pounce. Waiting for the mugger, or the thief to think themselves safe enough away from the authorities. Never really expecting a small child to come from the dark.
All because she wanted so desperately to save people, Clio thinks, swinging back and forth on the remains of a swingset left behind in the recesses of the abandoned park. Far from the first time she's broken in, will be far from the last. She feels a comfort here, despite the destruction. This is a reminder of things, and that things can hurt, and that sometimes hurt is good. Because it reminds her why she does what she does. That sometimes that crazed little girl hopped up on stories is right, even if unrefined.
Her hood is up, the leather cap ears a mimicry of her teacher, Jubei's. Her chain hangs from the heavy collar that dangles about her neck. It clinks in time with each of Clio's lazy and short swing arcs. Moving back and forth and back again with the tip of her boots on the ground.
She looks around, taking in the quiet and the dark of the night. It's a good night, she thinks. Just as soon as she figures out what she and Jubei will be doing with the upcoming tournament.
There's comfort in the night, though the things that usually find comfort at such a time aren't those that humans typically find comfort in being around.
A single bat flies from one of the trees, hanging upside down from the pole above the swing. It's innocent enough, one often sees a bat here and there at night.
Then another shows up, and another, very gradual. But after a while it becomes apparent that something abnormal is happening. The bats are entirely silent, eeriely contrasting shadows against the night sky.
Then, in the blink of an eye, an entire cloud of bats swarm down, entirely filling up the pole, hanging from old park lights, closer trees within her line of sight.
"Clio St. Jeanne. Former NOL officer. Deceased." comes a voice from seemingly everywhere and no where, deep and commanding. "I'm not here to harm you, as a show of good faith. I'm here to talk."
Movement. One by one, things arriving. Bat-houses aren't uncommon in the parks around Metro; they help keep pests under control. However, there hasn't been much living in this area since the Makai attempted to merge with the reality that is Metro City. Suspicion is clear when the former Lieutenant slows her casual swaying arcs.
She leans forward, forearms resting on her thighs. She watches the gathering with running her fingertips along the chain she wears. Coaxing it to unwind from her waist, and to start rolling her arm to bind it up in the metal links.
And then the Darkstalker appears. And the Darkstalker has information on her. She looks at the chiropteran cloud gathering nearer to her. Slowly, she lets the spike plumb of her chain hang down toward the ground. Hermetic sigils glow with a distant, violet light along the length of the metal coils.
"Not a good opening line," she says, eyes searching, sensing the area. "But I'm listening," she relents, head inclining, a small and distantly thin smile comes to her face.
"My gift to you, my show of good will in the form of respecting you as a living, autonomous creature, and not simply prey, is also the gift of honesty." Demitri says as the bats begin to swarm in front of her, flocking wildly in a vaguely humanoid formation, standing well over six and a half feet tall. Within the flock are two glowing red eyes that seem to open from no where. "Though it's never too late to be prey."
"Recently, out of mild curiosity, I decided to learn what the humans know of me. Apparently I have a bounty, a rather insulting one, but high nonetheless." The flock of bats forming the arm suddenly raises to point at her. "You escaped the organization. Which leads me to believe that you're probably willing to share information. In exchange, I can give you things, give you infinite comfort in this world, though I'm not sure if you're a righteous woman who only desires justice and peace without reward."
The smile drops. Clio reaches up, both hands, and pulls herself into a standing position on the swing. She moves, physical action to cover listening to the Darkstalker explain himself and casually posture in the way she's seen so many big guys do. Which is, in a way, partially why she stands on the seat of the swing, to boost herself up to the level of the glowing red eyes.
The spiked plumb swings slowly opposite the motion of the slow arc of the swing seat. When spike clicks against swing chain, small sparks and shadowed flame lick the air. "Don't take this personally," Clio begins, languid, swaying. "But there are a lot of Darkstalkers on the NOL's shitlist."
She shakes her head. Still considering, expecting in some way, the bats are a ruse and a cover for the real deal, but every moment that passes she can try to glean something more from the situation. "I need to know who you are before I can say anything. But," the arcing of her swing slows down, "whatever I have to say probably isn't impressive. And it won't stop anyone from headhunting you."
Demitri laughs, as if she just told a joke that he finds ridiculously amusing. Then, in a rather unnatural movement, one that almost anyone would interpret as aggressive, the swarm blurs forward and almost instantaneously shift into a very large man who would tower over most people. His cape sways unnaturally, clearly with more movement than the current amount of wind would suggest is necessary.
"I, Demitri Maximoff, care very little if humans choose to throw away their lives hunting me. It's a simple reality of my existence. Either in search of my teasure, my power, or my life. I care very little." He stares down at her chain, taking note of the fact that it's clearly no mundane weapon. "But the nature of their organization, the rumors of hunting for magical artifacts, the apparent hunger for power. It compels me to the challenge of perhaps putting them in their place, on principle of their audacity to believe they can put a bounty on me and go unpunished."
His aura, even when he isn't exerting an actual, visible aura, is thick. He shows no wasted movement, he doesn't bother with the trappings of breathing. He simply stands as a pure predator. "I don't expect you to be the proverbial nail in their coffin, but I wonder if you know their true purpose, their goals, what truly drives them."
Lt. Clio St. Jeanne has faced down demons that wished to invade her mind. She's stood alongside a war between a samurai cat and his zombie witch ex-wife. She's fought the Queen of Air and Darkness. She doesn't flinch to Demitri Maximoff. She licks her teeth, and drums her fingertips, and she smiles a mirthless little grin.
She got him to give up a name. Finally some honesty. But she sighs, distant and inwardly, at his statements. "I remember your file. Some of it. You're worth a lot to them. Probably more than when I was there."
She starts to swing again. "I'm only a Lieutenant. You'll want someone higher, but I can't suggest it."
She looks up to where the moon barely shines for the brightness of the city itself. "This isn't a suggestion, so don't blame me if you find yourself in over your head. But Captain Hazama. That's a name."
She looks back toward the vampire and his living looking cape. Her smile is gone, she just looks distant. For her youth, she carries herself as someone that's already been to war. And she has, internal and external. She just chooses to show it in her half-lidden quietude for a long, steady moment.
"I have little fear of your species." Demitri starts to raise his hand, as if he's already thrown away his former declaration of not harming her. But then he stops, staring curiously at her weapon again. "Tell me, what is that weapon you wield? It's clearly of no mundane origin. If you're of no use to me in punishing that organization for its insolence, then perhaps I can glean something of the people they recruit."
"Your lack of fear is deeply intriguing to me. My first instinct is to simply probe your mind and try to bend you to my will, but surely they've trained their soldiers to resist such things." He goes silent for a moment, then without any real warning he, well, follows his first instinct. He stares deeply into her eyes, immediately trying to test the will of her mind.
He's not outright trying to actually harm her, it's more of a test of mental fortitude, to see how she responds, to see if she -can- respond to an attempt to probe her mind. "I apologize, I'm prone to last second flights of fancy."
"Not being afraid is pretty stupid. You'll always underestimate your target if you don't have /any/ fear," Clio muses with each easy sway. And with her swinging and philosophy, her chain clinks out a rhythm with it's less arcane counterpart in the swingset. She's once more shunted aside the distant look for her awake, confident and musing smile. "It's not a weakness to gather intel."
She looks to the chain, the markings, etched into the steel, glow deep, still occasionally flit and flick with a lick of flame that doesn't seem to catch the young woman's sleeve alight. "This thing?" she asks, "It's just a chain from the docks. Nothing special." She tells him the truth, because the chain itself is nothing but that. She'd even consider the metallurgy inferior to the kusari fundo that the NOL supplied her with in the first place. She tells Maximoff the truth because she knows in a way that it makes it all the more mysterious.
And still she swings. Soon, the purpose behind the constant back and forth motion becomes more apparent; Clio is never truly looking the vampire in the eyes with any steady gaze. She's had a demon in her head, she's had a mage the skill of The Phantom glaze her mind. She's stood to Mab in a dreamscape. She isn't going to give the vampire such and easy purchase. "I'm afraid, I can read you. You're not a small threat. But you said you weren't after my rear and since you had all the chance in the world to jump me and you didn't, I figure that for now you're on the up and up."
The soldier shakes her head. "Besides, I've got friends and the Night's always been good to me."
"Not being afraid -is- pretty stupid." Demitri agrees, not trying to probe into her mind any further, perhaps getting what he wanted from seeing how she protects her mind. "Make no mistake about it, you are prey, even if ascended prey. But your attitude, your audacity, amuses me."
Moves on closer, looming down at her. "Tell me, what do you want from life, from this decaying world? What is your purpose?"
Swing, swing, swing. "C'est la vie, c'est la mort," she says. A stronger kick forward, and a stronger kick back. She reaches up at the zenith of her swingy arc and spins herself up to a perching position at the top cross bar of the swing set. Crouched up above, she lets the spiked end of the chain hang and sway.
"You always get this philosophical with people you consider dinner?" she asks. "Gonna consult a salad next?" She looks, away, pointedly, watching the rotten tree line with a steady and level purpose. "Why don't you go first? It'd make me more comfortable."
A look back toward, never fully at, but over the vampire, reading the motions in his body, in his cape, in the make up of bats that seem to have coalesced into him. "I've got a long habit of creepy old guys being real interested in my thoughts and feelings."
"Dinner? I wouldn't waste your potential by -only- feeding on you. You can be used for so much more." Demitri stares up at her new perch. He doesn't have much in the way of body language, but he does seem to be in a constant state of calculation, of perhaps weighing her value. "I want to kill Belial Aensland. Everything beyond that is simply for my own amusement or out of principle to put mortals in their place when they act against me."
He doesn't seem to hesitate in his answer, he simply goes quiet and stares, waiting for her response.
Keeping someone talking is normally a good way to learn more about them. Clio's used the tactic before, and Demitri is the kind of person that does seem confident enough in himself to talk on about it. She sits, perched on the crossbar, and she keeps up a steady sound by tapping a link of chain against the metal. "So, politics as usual," she comments.
Her look heads to the city in the distance. "And because the NOL makes an effort to stand against Darkstalkers like yourself, you go to war out of principle." She keeps tap-tap-tapping. "Listen, I'm not going to stand against you when you're running into danger. That's up to you. But I like to look out for people, even ones that might be stronger than me."
"War is something of a compliment on their part. I intend to destroy them. They can surely attempt to resist, throw their magic toys at me, their bombs, their guns. The same things humans have been attempting for centuries. I'll plan, calculate, and then it will end in fire." Demitri suddenly floats from the ground, moving above her eye level again to stare down at her.
Seemingly out of no where, he offers her his hand. "Perhaps a former member of such righteous hunters would like to see how a lord of darkness lives. I have no need to trap you, if I felt so inclined I would simply take you. But my amusement stays my hand."
Clio shakes her head slowly. She isn't the best at giving advice. And the vampire seems to be arrogant as expected. He did come out toward her though, so she doubts some of the sincerity behind his bravado. Still, he is making offers. Offers that she cannot entertain.
"Sounds like a great offer, but gotta say no. I've got a lot to do. Got this tournament to think about." She shrugs, a coy grin playing at her lips when she adds, "Got a cat to look after."
She stands, balanced on the cross bar like a gymnast, backing away with carefully placed steps. "Good luck, Demi, but I'll give you one more reminder. If you want to know about the NOL, you need to know about Captain Hazama."
Demitri actually smiles, possibly his first true show of emotion beyond a perpetual stoic scowl. "I'll meet this Captain Hazama in time."
Then, crossing his arms, he starts to slowly float away from her. "And when the time is right, I will return for you, and show you things beyond petty mortal concerns."
With that, his body just sort of explodes into a mass of bats, his laugh coming from all directions as they all fly into the night sky.
Log created on 11:25:46 05/23/2019 by Clio, and last modified on 12:06:49 05/24/2019.