Description: While the circus is on tour in Nagano, an unexpected visitor arrives with an unsettling tale to tell.
Nagano is a bit warm right now, but with it being late August, there are certainly hotter places in Japan to be. With highs of 75 degrees Fahrenheit scheduled for the rest of the week, what better time to... enjoy the circus?
The Twilight Star Circus has been proceeding with their new "Mystical Journey" acts for the summer -- a long epic tale stringing all of the various acts together into a cohesive story. Many of the core performers have been pulling double and sometimes triple duty in the storyline, as both friendly acquaintances and dastardly one-note villains. It's a shallow story written by a high-schooler, but it spells good times for the kiddies -- if the record sales have been any indication.
Honoka, for her part, has just finished her set for the night as she walks backstage. She's supposed to be a cat-demon of some kind, twirling purple flame about -- it accentuates the pink highlights in her hair and upon her tights well, at any rate. "You were great out there tonight, Reika... the kids were -loving- the act!" Honoka and Reika have similar proportions and measurements, so they've been successfully able to pass as twins with the large distances onstage -- a little smoke and mirrors are all it takes to spellbind the kids in the audience into believing magic is real! "Though, your ears are getting kinda ragged... have you been scorching yourself with the flames? Hee..."
Zach had had a rough time of things after the fiasco in Mexico. He wasn't sure where /exactly/ he was when he awoke, but after some initial difficulties, knowing where he was after leaving was fairly straight-forward. His escape had taken him and one friend to Japan, removing the need to arrange return flights for either of them.
The psion was still pretty battered after the ordeal, focusing his energies more on making good an escape and ensuring that his partner at the time survived the event. He needed a place to lay low for a bit, sleep things off.
Instead of returning to his new residence in Yokohama (he still couldn't think of the place as home), however, he felt the need to find friendlier company. One visit at an internet cafe later, and Zach was able to figure out where he wanted to go. As he arrived, though, he realized that he might not want everyone to know he had shown up. Especially covered in wounds as he was. It'd cause problems. Of course, it'd cause trouble if he snuck in, too.
Damned if he did, damned if he didn't. Ease of gaining forgiveness won out over ease of gaining permission. Plus, a rope fence was not much of a security barrier. Glenn slipped in, and then quietly cast a mental net out over the area to seek out the one person who could best help him in this place. A couple of moments later, and Zach found her talking to someone else.
"...been scorching yourself with the flames? Hee..." Zach smiled wearily as he heard Honoka's voice. He stepped out of a shadow slowly. He's wearing jeans and a hooded jacket, and carrying a large bag that Honoka /immediately/ knows carries Drynwyn. His body language speaks to more than a few injuries. "Fire's tricky," he tries to say quietly. It comes out as a weak mumble. "Gotta..." Zach wobbles, and drops to one knee. The heavy, metallic impact sound confirms any suspicion about the contents of the bag. "Be..."
Glenn doesn't finish the sentence. He's too busy passing out.
With all the audience members present, it wouldn't be possible for the juggler to pick out -every- psychic signature in the crowd -- but, all the same, there was a certain passing familiarity to the person who approaches. She recalls who it is, the moment she finishes her sentence...
Too soon to do anything other than to squint her eyes back at Zach as he speaks, as if still questioning whether he's actually here despite visual, aural, -and- psychic evidence of such. She's surprised to see him, of course, but it's hard to really get her -alarmed-. "Y-yeah, it--"
She doesn't get to finish, though, as she can feel his consciousness fading away so rapidly. She lurches forward when he does, wrapping both hands upon his shoulders...
And slowly, gradually, extending her grasp into his mind. There are answers within, and the -cause- for him to seek respite within his girlfriend's presence is what fascinates her most.
"Zach, Zach, what is it, what's wrong?"
Her actual voice can seem so far away when consciousness is blocked behind a dense black fog. But her presence... perhaps he can feel the warm reassurance of Honoka's psychic presence within him, wrapping her warm embrace about him.
<< You're safe here. You can tell me... everything. No one will dare to hurt you, not here... >>
Zach doesn't offer resistance. Not physically, anyway. His body is not speaking with him at the moment, and Honoka can likely smell blood on him this close to him. She might be able to see under the hood, where it seems like half of his head is covered in bandages, and others wrapping over both shoulders.
Mentally, though, there is a bit of a struggle. The image Honoka might discover is a fortress that has recently shaken off a siege. Battered, but not completely broken. Still standing, if only barely. Whatever caused this...
Zach responds, though. Feebly, weakly. As if just the effort of responding is taking a lot out of him. <<...thank god. I... there...>> Honoka can likely sense the internal struggle. Zach's not hiding it; he's not really able to. <<...something I had hoped wouldn't be here... this time around.>>
Honoka does smell blood -- she's quite familiar with the scent, for reasons that need not really be elaborated on. And she can tell that there's... -quite- a lot of battle damage, wounds that would not have been caused by physical conflict. Wounds much... deeper, in an immaterial sense. Stronger than those she's ever inflicted on a person ever before.
Chasms not unlike those the Butcher had carved into her soul.
<< It's okay. You're here now, you're not alone. Just... let me help. >> Within, Honoka's presence picks up rocks and stones, trying to make sense of the carnage. Never before had she seen the internal structure of the defenses so lain bare... but now, able to see the floorplans with more clarity... now she has a better measure of just -what- Zach's been putting up to keep her out.
Her true voice is distant: "Reika, can you go get Sudo if he's not busy? Or someone else from the first-aid tent.."
<< Something ... strong, yes. Rest now... just rest, we can talk when you've got your strength back... >> As much as Honoka would -love- to find out what's going on, sleep -- or simply observing Zach's dreams and memories -- may be more illuminating.
It would become quickly apparent that Zach brought the A Game to keep her out. That Zach fully respected whatever capability he thought Honoka had. Whatever did all of this, though... Well... Zach would have needed something more. Though he hears Honoka speak.
"Both," he gasps and starts to stir a little bit. The need not only for first-aid, but for someone competent in security situations is readily apparent. Memories flit across Zach's memories. Shadows of a man, broad of shoulders, and brimming with psychic might. Zach, strapped to a table and shirtless as things are attached to his head. A young Indian woman, with large metal hands pulling him free. The sword, Drynwyn, burning with almost otherworldly power.
Zach groans, and goes limp again.
It isn't long before the requested help arrives. Zach will find himself pulled onto a stretcher and taken directly to the first aid tent. It's not as secure as Honoka's trailer, but, to say nothing of Zach's self-applied first aid, he'll need more considerable medical attention than the juggler herself can provide.
Besides, she's busy plumbing the depths of his memories, projected upon the walls as his consciousness sorts them into their appropriate long-term tucks and folds for safekeeping. The Indian woman, nattering about as she punches people and walls alike with her metal hands, clearing a path through to freedom. Lots of darkness, lots of shadowy figures.
And most of all... the deaths-head symbol, flanked with two stylized wings, with an ethereal halo of sheer power behind him.
Honoka shudders. She's... heard whispers of a man like this before. A man with such terrifying might to be able to hurt Zach in such a fashion. But the name... the place... escapes her.
Honoka runs her fingers through Zach's hair, reassuringly, as the medics go about their labor. She helps him as best she can in his subconscious, trying not to bother his mind as it goes through the necessary healing processes that had been put on hold during his flight from the evil man's fortress.
Another memory, this time of two men Honoka would not recognize. One of them bears more than a passing resemblance to Zach, with red hair instead of blonde. The constant between the two men, however is the sword they carry. The same one Zach has. These swords, however, are missing the large pommel. The memory has a voice-over to accompany it, a basso profundo, with an accent. "Yer grandfather, he kept some bandages and ointment in it," the voice says as the red headed Not Zach pulled a thin roll of gauze and a narrow tube from the bottom of the sword's grip. "His teacher," the other man, scarred, having eyes similar to both Zach and the Not Zach pulls a small metal flask, "He kept a flask of glavya."
A hand that Honoka recognize as Zach's pulls several items from the handle of the sword. Two very tightly rolled stacks of money (which are quickly stuffed back into the weapon) and an eagle's feather. The feather looms closer in the field of vision, and Honoka hears a single word.
"Nightwolf." And then everything goes white.
As the medics do their work, Honoka pulls up a chair. She's still in costume, seeing no real need to doff any more than the light jacket, draping it over the back of the chair. The cat ears can stay, for now.
Infinitely more fascinating to her are the memories. She doesn't know the people she sees, but she can wager a guess from the accent, and the sword. It must be quite durable, she notes, to have secret compartments large enough to carry something without sacrificing strength.
The feather, though ... that draws mention of something given her by Nightwolf. Again, she thinks of something a mere instant before it's elucidated for her -- though in this case, she has a guess as to what happened next.
"Nightwolf..." she murmurs aloud, brow furrowing. She still doesn't like that shaman much. But at least the gift got Zach out of a bind -- that's something.
"Can you get..." comes the voice of a medic. But judging from the look Honoka gives to the person, it doesn't seem like she's leaving Zach's side, until the medics finish their job.
For one thing, she's never actually -used- the feather before. So she's curious.
The white clears. Nightwolf, and the Indian woman. The latter of the two severly battered and falling over as the surroundings of a forest at night become apparent. There aren't words, but from the look of things, Nightwolf isn't happy about whatever is happening. However, the shaman leaves. Two hands, rubbing together as if to create warmth. A familiar golden glow sliding along them as the hands reach for the body of the woman. Another flash of light, and the woman is waking up.
The field of vision wobbles and sways dangerously, alternating between black and white around the edges. "Go," Zach gasps to the woman. "Tell them..." A cough, a wheeze, "...Tell them what you have to." The woman says something, concern evident on her face as the vision flickers and fades. "I'll live," Zach growls. "Go... better if..." If you aren't connected with me when you show up at garrison. Despite an utter lack of paper trail to explain how you got back to Japan, and an uncertain amount of time out of contact with your unit. It's unsaid, but Honoka somehow knows that this is the sentiment, despite it not being voiced. The scene is faint... weak... inconsistent.
Zach stirs with a groan before going quiet again.
More images, stills. Zach pulling the money out of the sword. She knows, without knowing, that the stack of money totalled about a thousand American Dollars. That it wasn't /all/ USD, but about half in yen. Another image of Zach acquiring bandages, and then clothes. Some time at an internet cafe, the website for the circus on the monitor. Some trains. A bus. The images aren't completely clear; Zach was clearly pushing himself to stay awake and somewhat aware but he was nearing the end of his reserves.
The Indian woman with the big hands... a typical girlfriend would be in the right to be concerned with her, but a typical girlfriend wouldn't be plumbing about in the depths of her boyfriend's memories -- or the feelings he'd felt when he'd had them. As such, it's easy to see that this... woman with the metal hands is just an acquaintance, and one Zach seems to be treating as a subordinate or peer of some kind. And from the sensation, she can tell that it's a sort of military connection.
Which makes sense. Zach's a Captain, from all Honoka knows, and that means he gets to boss people around.
And yet... he didn't give an order. He gave a -request-, as if he's trying to disavow something.
So Zach dodges a girlfriend-is-jealous bullet just to get nailed by the girlfriend-isn't-being-kept-in-the-loop bullet. Which might become apparent in a brief flash of frustration -- but nothing Honoka isn't able to control after a couple seconds of steeled thought.
Honoka absently runs her fingers through Zach's blonde hair as the medics finish wrapping up. She looks up to the nearest medic, tilting her head: "Is he safe to be moved...?"
Zach groans again at Honoka's frustration, before opening his visible. It flicks around for a moment, and as inside his head as Honoka is, can feel the brief surge of panic accompanying a sensation of being lost before the single emerald green eye that isn't covered in bandages locks on Honoka.
"Was," Zach's voice is tired, and more than a little hoarse; he did a lot of screaming during his time in Vega's not-even-a-little-tender mercies, "Gonna tell you about it... when I got back..." Zach pauses to catch his breath. "Didn't go as planned." Another groan, another flare of pain. "I think I can move," he murmurs. "Nothing broken. Couple of deep cuts. Not sure about the eye." This last is said quietly, as Zach fades out again.
"Tell me what?" is Honoka's quick-witted response. "You've got clearance. I don't have need-to-know." If she chose, she could probe deeper... perhaps find out the dark truth of the matter, that he'd left the Marines to help out the family business.
It doesn't change the fact that she'd rather hear it from Zach himself. But...
"Y'know, if you don't get some rest you're never going to get better. And you're sleeping in my bed, I'll take the cot tonight. Doctor's orders."
She pauses, then looks up to the lead medic. Who nods.
"Right. Doctor's orders." Honoka smiles down at Zach, planting a light kiss upon his forehead. "There'll be plenty of time to talk, unless you start saying that guy's name in your sleep."
Another pause. "Okay, -that- sounded really bad."
Log created on 21:20:43 08/28/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 09:03:26 09/21/2015.