Description: Fresh(-ish) from her battle with Ayame Ichijo, the Twilight Star's resident fortuneteller and mystic drops by to give her impressions and feedback to Honoka. The two have a frank discussion about mikos, alternate timelines, darkstalkers, and boys (obviously).
The Yokohama Landmark Tower is a remarkable feat of engineering; when it was completed in 1993 it was the tallest building in all of Japan. The upper floors of the building host to a five-star hotel, with plenty of rooms to go around.
Five of the rooms on the topmost floor, though, are generally considered off-limits: any attempted reservation will later find itself rebooked or cancelled in favor of keeping the rooms available.
It's in this room that a 20-something woman wearing a black dress will be seated, sipping from a cup of tea as she glances across her obsidian desk. Her white jacket is draped along the back of her seat, and her largely-ornamental glasses have been set off to the side of the desk. It's ten in the morning; the blinds have been half-closed to block out some measure of the gorgeous morning sky on Yokohama Bay. Why blot out the sun? It'd be hard to make sense of the array of tablet computers spread out upon the desk otherwise. Each display shows various replays from the previous week's Rumble In The Streets tournament.
The young woman takes one of the tablets and pulls it closer to her. She stabs the screen with a finger, rewinding the video -- and then releases to replay it.
"Hm," considers Honoka pensively. And after a moment, she quietly adds, "Go ahead and open the door for our guest, Shibaki."
Shibaki looks confused. He turns to the other guard opposite him, and shrugs.
That's when the doorbell sounds. And Shibaki laughs awkwardly, opening the door as bidden.
She's wearing the same opulent-looking white fur coat as she is in the very video that Honoka is likely watching on said tablet, but otherwise, all the showy trappings of playing A Witch™ are gone; cream-colored slacks with crisp pleats, tan low-cut boots, a long-sleeved purple top. Elise is apparently all business today. Yet she has a moment to glance at Shibaki with a grin before handing the man her purse and then her coat, after shrugging out of it. "She's just showing off," the witch says, before breezing past them.
With a practiced movement -- even a somewhat showy one -- Elise settles herself into the chair opposite Honoka, folding one leg over the other with easy grace and settling her hands on her thigh. She doesn't say anything at first, content to watch the circus ringleader continue to tap and glance away at footage on the tablets. Part of her is wondering if she should speak up first, or let the Ainu girl come at her with questions, but eventually she decides to break the ice before the silence smothers the poor hired help.
"So, I know what *I* learned. What is it *you've* learned?" the Scot asks, gesturing at the tablet with a raised eyebrow. "If anything."
The Yokohama-area gangs have proven to be quite the welcome addition to the gangs under the influence of the two women in this room. Even when Honoka started making moves here, Yokohama wasn't -quite- as far under the heel of the Yamagcuhi-gumi and the mysterious Syndicate as other cities to the north and northeast -- with the right promises, they were eager to make a clean break.
Honoka can't help but smile as Elise calls her out, but all the same, she motions to Shibaki and his companion with a hand: "If you two could grant us some privacy, please...?"
The subtle pressure of a psychic compulsion wouldn't be missed by Elise, but the two guards don't know the difference. Their mysterious guide asked them to do something; the only choice is to follow. They take positions just outside the door.
Once the door shuts, Honoka looks up at Elise with a wry smile. "That she likes bicycles." She remains silent for a moment, but she is quick to keep the train of thought. "And she has an... interesting fighting technique. Tell me... more about these." She taps the screen, dragging left on the playbar until she reaches a moment where two tendrils of black energy seem to have ensnared Miss Elise.
"Her emotions when she released them. And what it felt like. Are they purely her own, or has she been tasting the forbidden fruits of a demonic realm, I wonder...?"
Ah, yes. _Those_. The expression on her face says that Elise does not have pleasant or fond memories of being groped by mystical tentacles, even if she got a crowd-pleasing line out of the equation.
"Well I was a *little* distracted at the time," Elise says with a hint of joking reproach, before leaning back in her seat and crossing her arms across her chest, adopting a mien of thoughtful recollection. "She's *very* tightly controlled. More than even she knows, I think. I get the impression that whatever she's locking down..." There's a pause, and Elise stops talking. Considering the witch's usually glib conversational strategy, this sudden break to rearticulate may come as a shock to someone who knows her decently well like Honoka. Elise brings a finger to the tip of her nose and lets her gaze wander, over to the shrouded windows, looking off into... something. "You might think she's trying to keep from being taken over by whatever force she may have unleashed or trafficked with, right? But I don't think that's the case. I think there's a thing she's afraid of. She's protecting herself, but not from 'cutting loose'."
Folding her arms again, Elise shrugs. "I know the dark forces when I see them, obviously," she adds, with the ghost of a grin. The topic of the Harkness family heritage as Dark Hunters very rarely comes up; of the people in the circus, perhaps only Honoka knows its full extent. "She has some sort of supernatural connection. But I don't think she's made any sort of Faustian bargain."
Where is the fun in questions that are easy to answer? Honoka can't help but smile in response, though of course Elise knows it's all in good fun.
"Hmm. That's... very interesting. Do you think it would be a sign of... dominance, then? Not so much of a -bargain-, per se, but more of..."
Honoka frowns. The words aren't flowing as clearly as she'd like. "I guess what I mean to say is... she's full of herself. Confident, arrogant even, and not really one to make bargains of -any- sort. She's right, and everyone else is wrong -- that's the impression I got of her. Would you agree?"
The raven-haired puppetmaster looks over her tablet once more, before setting it upon the table again. "She immediately noticed how many Twilight Star cast and crew were present -- cheering you on, of course. What threat could she pose, do you feel -- and do you think she would even care to bother us?"
"I would," Elise says with a nod. A 'bargain'... no. The impression she got from Ayame was a woman who would rather die than put herself in serious debt to another. No... control is the name of her game. Tight control. When she realizes a few seconds have passed and this internal monologue has gone by in silence, the witch clears her throat and vocalizes the rest of her thoughts. "Agree, I mean. Consider that I literally had to put a knife in her back before she took me seriously. Remember, the part when I teased her about having fun?" she asks, tilting her head toward whatever tablet just happened to have footage of their fight running when she came in.
Tilting her head back, eyes closed, the witch raises a finger to the sky and repeats Ayame's words in a stentorious tone of voice: "A life of frivolity and distractions is a dead end. I'm here for work." With a shrug, Elise opens her eyes again and spreads both hands, palm out, in a "what can you do?" gesture. "That's the thing, right there. She's under control, tight control... but tight like a piece of plastic wrap stretched over a bowl. Find the right point, and: pop!" Her hands spread apart away from each other to emphasize the point. "She's doing all this FOR something. But I don't think she's the kind to want to be in anyone's debt. It's because of honor, or duty, or some other... typically easily-manipulated motivation." You're such a good person, Elise.
With another shrug, she continues her evaluation. "Do I think she's going to bother with us? Not on her own. But if she perceives that we're in the way of her 'duty' -- whatever THAT is -- then she absolutely would, without hesitation. And you'll notice, 'work' is why she said she was taking part in this tournament at all. So if you're concerned about her, you might want to find out exactly what her 'work' entails."
There's a pause, and now it's her turn to ask a question. "You said you think she knows something, right? About this..." There's another pause, and then a circular waving of the hand. Whenever the issue of 'another life' or Honoka's strange deja vu comes up, Elise becomes very vague... partly out of confusion, and partly out of respect. "All this... thisness. Yes?"
Honoka allows Elise to mull the thoughts over -- as is often the case, the two women often seem to think along parallel lines.
"Right, that's the impression I got. If there are... " Honoka makes a wavering hand gesture to indicate her uncertainty in the matter: " 'spirits' or some such working for her, then she definitely seems to believe that she has full domain over them." The puppetmaster hesitates to put too many thoughts to voice, though -- as she doesn't want any of Elise's carefully-obtained intel to be overshadowed by her own conjectures.
She nods quietly to the assertion that her seeming control -can- be used against her. The idea of Ayame spending all her time honing her arts for 'duty' is... laughable, but at the same time, illustrative of ways that she can be controlled. "Singleminded devotion. Or, to paraphrase, 'All work and no play makes Ayame a dull girl.' Which is... amusing, really, for as enigmatic as she insists on selling herself, she really -is- simpler, to hear your side of the story."
She reaches for her cup of tea, but stops herself with widened eyes. She instantly rises to her feet and pours a hot cup for Elise, pinning a bag of Earl Grey between outstretched fingers.
She presents the teacup and saucer to Elise, with a mild bow. "Where -are- my manners, eheh. My apologies, I've been poring over these all morning."
Leaning softly against the edge of the table, she taps her chin as she glances out over the Yokohama coastline. "Yes, from talking with... him, she knows that the other me was... stopped in mid-takeover of the nation of Japan. I get the impression that the... Empress she knows of was brutal and did not take her time. So..."
Honoka looks back to Elise with a heavy sigh. "I really don't know. Perhaps it's as simple as staying out of sight and out of mind, in hopes that whatever duty she sees herself fulfilling just happens not to involve us..."
She takes a sip of her tea. "Do you think her work has to do with her duties as a shrine maiden? That, perhaps the Ichijo clan is simply local competition for the Harkness lineage?"
Accepting the cup of tea and sliding the tea bag into the water, Elise holds the cup in both hands, mulling silently (much as the tea is doing). The gesture is primarily symbolic, as this fancy-pants building upper floor is well heated despite the winter chill, but the warmth spreading through her fingertips is welcome all the same. "I don't know much about the Ichijo family, other than rumor and what anyone who travels in our circles would know. East and west don't exactly mix when it comes to our familiar lines of work, you know. Always a bit of a rivalry, to be honest. But as you can expect, clans with long traditions about this stuff can be... demanding, to say the least. I'm sure that sense of duty comes with a list of serious personality problems a mile long."
Extracting the tea bag from the cup, Elise gingerly sips her tea and then says, with an utterly straight face, "Not like me, of course."
For a moment she says nothing. The issue of the other world always makes Elise contemplative, if only because she wonders: what was the 'other' Elise like? Was there one? Did she know Honoka, and was she a victim of the same downfall the 'Empress' had?
Another sip of tea. Not much use dwelling. She'll never REALLY know the answer, will she?
"That's the mystery. I don't know what this 'duty' is... and since she didn't seem to know anything about me or my abilities, I doubt her presence in the tournament was why she was really there. Unless you've been making deals with a literal devil and not a figurative one?" she asks, quirking a brow and a smile at Honoka. "Don't answer that."
Leaning back again with her cup of tea, Elise shrugs. "Do I think Ayame Ichijo is a threat? Yes. Do I think she's a danger to what you are specifically trying to do with this whole folderol? Probably not. I imagine such earthly matters must seem beneath her."
Honoka gives a mild and appreciative chuckle at Elise's deadpan humor. Both instances of such. "Ah, from what I've gathered, the Meian Jinja is where she calls 'home.' It's a Shinto shrine not far from Southtown. It has been run for hundreds of years, as far as anyone's been able to tell. When last I visited, it seemed to be in fairly good repair, though nothing of the... supernatural sort really seemed to jump out at me."
She pauses, then adds, "Well, no more than any other Shinto shrine does."
"Though Zach did... give me some rather conflicting reports. On the one hand, she was a possible contact if that shaman hadn't helped me with that Butcher affliction. But in his own words, he cautioned against trusting her entirely. So whatever... aid we need from her should definitely be... Limited."
She pauses to take a sip from her tea, before looking over the rim of her cup at Elise. "We... did gain some creatures of the night, as you might be aware. A snake girl, and a wolfman stagehand." She knows of Miss Harkness' family history, to some degree, but the -direct- response is one she hasn't had the chance to address directly with her: she watches Elise's expression with guarded concern. "It's clear that Miss Ichijo would have a problem with them, but I was wondering -- what are your thoughts on our new additions?"
By now it's almost certain that Honoka can tell the difference between Elise's 'actually neutral' expression and her 'carefully maintained neutral' expression. What she wears, when Honoka asks her this particular question, is the former: she really doesn't seem to have strong feelings one way or the other. "I imagine they've got... useful skills," she says, being very deliberate in her word choice. "So I'm certain they'll be handy. But you can never really trust that type. You know that, right? That world is..." She pauses, then shrugs, looking down into her teacup. "For many many generations the women in my family would kill werewolves and other such things, fey or fell, because the idea was, they were inherently bad and that's what we did, as witches." A shrug. "That's not how I operate."
She looks at Honoka over the rim of her teacup with a serious expression, after saying this, though. "But the world of demons and spirits works on fundamentally different rules. Sometimes they come into our world and agree to play by ours. Sometimes they don't. They need watching."
Honoka nods quietly. "... Noted." She can tell that Elise would rather not have them around if she'd had any say in the matter. But, considering she's dating Zach against the Scot's objections, she's probably going to do what she wants here as well. "I don't want to be a halfway-house for the lost and confused, but sometimes, that's what it takes. There are people who are disenfranchised, and -upset- with the way things are going, and if they happen to not be people in the you-and-me definition of people, well..."
Honoka presses her lips together tightly, thinking for a moment. She was about to say something rude, but thought better of it.
"You're right, I probably should have asked you -beforehand-. But..." She allows herself to smile, here. "I knew what you'd be likely to say. Rest assured, they are being watched -- Zach himself has a hankering to destroy them."
Honoka draws in a breath, inhaling the slight aroma of her tea. "The one who worries me most right now, though, is Agent Daniel Little. I wanted him to find out /some/ news... but the detective is poking his nose into areas -other- than the paths left before him. But I do bring him up, as he may end up being an ally. It seems he has... favor for the nightwalkers, after his trip into the darkness of Metro City."
She gives a light shrug, as punctuation to that. "Oddly enough, that little piece of trivia may come into play."
"I didn't say not to use them," Elise says pointedly, giving her (ostensible) boss a curious look. "I got away from that life because that simplistic way of looking at who got the right to live or die got on my last good nerve, to be honest. But that doesn't mean I can't recognize potential problems when I see them," she adds. "If I were a third party back in the day, I'd have warned you about *me*, too." At least she says this last with good humor, saluting briefly with her teacup before taking another sip.
Setting her now empty cup on the desk, Elise gets to her feet and brushes off her blouse. "Well, now that I'm not in the tournament anymore, I've got some free time. Perhaps I'll look into the matter... but the nosy ones are always trouble. Just... do me a favor," she adds, almost as an afterthought. "Be careful with how hard you play and nudge people. This might sound hypocritical of me, but you can't treat them like chess pieces," she says, inclining her head at the various tablets. "The trick to a good con isn't always grabbing them by the head and pointing them. Sometimes you have to make them want to do the things you want them to. It's a bit like a sales pitch... or wooing a man."
There's a pause, before she says, with a wolfish curl of a smile, "Don't start dating Daniel Little."
"I doubt I would have taken that suggestion, in all honesty," confides Honoka with a warm smile. She normally reserves a cold, cynical frown for her blue-eyed facade, but the expression doesn't look terribly out of place for one of the few people allowed to speak to -all- of the young puppetmaster's personas. "I don't think I would have felt comfortable dealing with her without knowing your impressions. Thank you for sharing what you've learned with me, it's been..." She laughs, in spite of herself, at the way she's already trying to talk as she would to anyone else. "It's been educational," she concludes with an amicable smile.
Setting her own teacup down, She practically sits on the table as Elise shares her afterthought, showing some signs that she feels boxed-in. But the anxiety and tenseness in her stance only lasts a moment, as Honoka realizes that Elise is giving helpful advice, and not -necessarily- criticism of the plans. It's polite, and it's helpful -- one of the many reasons that the Ainu woman has chosen to let this particular Scot in on her plans.
Her face lightens up, as it becomes clear that she's about to voice her agreement. But before she can actually do so, she's... cautioned against dating Daniel Little -- the perennial, good-natured, thorn in her side. And the puppetmaster frowns, at that.
"Oh... there's no chance of that, I assure you."
Log created on 20:19:58 02/16/2016 by Elise, and last modified on 19:24:52 02/17/2016.