Mortal Kombat - Cost of Living

[Toggle Names]

Description: The Scarlet Dahlia drops by to see how Aranha is doing after their fight.

The Dancing Spider didn't leave his quarters since he was dragged unconscious from Shang Tsung's throne room. The first few days was spent unconscious from his head clapping the marble. A couple days were spent resting due to self imposed concussion protocols. Then the rest of the time since the fight with Honoka was spent exercising or at the very least what little of his exercising regime he could do without spinning or going upside down.

Aranha played back the events of the fight in his mind wondering how it all went wrong. While he did that, the spiritual counterpart in his Soul Shard was playing back a fight of an alternate world wondering how both fights could've gone so wildly different. The Aranha of this particular world couldn't help but marvel how he was able to process both the fight with the Scarlet Dahlia and the Honoka of a different world. Neither Aranha could figure it out and both were feeling frustrated since they knew he was capable of so much more than he showed in either of his fights.

As he finishes the last of his lunges, he slowly makes his way to the towel he had on the drawer close by and wipes his brow.

The Scarlet Dahlia knows of the other selves, but only through secondhand knowledge. On the one hand, it places her at a marked disadvantage to those such as Zach Glenn and Ayame Ichijo who have been able to fully unlock the memories of their alternate existences. But on the other hand, not experiencing deja vu in every interpersonal encounter may be a blessing in disguise.

It was only a few minutes after her encounter with Aranha that the Ainu woman had ventured down to the condemned excavation in a harried attempt to find the spirit of the aforementioned Zach. From there, the rest of her days had blended together, nights into days and vice versa -- for, like Aranha, she had spent many of those hours unconscious, deep in recuperative slumber.

Unlike Aranha, she awoke to find fewer spiritual companions at her side than before -- that, and the eagerness to complete some unfinished business.

Knock, knock, knock -- the light rap of knuckles along the threshold of Aranha's quarters. It was not the first visit she had made, but perhaps it would be the first in which she had sensed the capoeirista to be truly and actually -awake-. "Aranha, it's me -- the Scarlet Dahlia. If you are well, I... have an apology to make."

She is dressed in an outfit more like the one from the first evening -- a lovely red cheongsam that hugs every one of the acrobat's slight curves. The honey-yellow gemstone hangs upon her right hip. Her knees show the faint pink scars of her traumatic damage -- toughened skin showing the fruits of healing powers and several days of bed rest.

When she is able to see Aranha face to face, she bears a sincerely apologetic expression. "I... chose my words poorly. It was a contrived artifice for a particular goal, and I am very sorry to have offended you."

She pauses for a moment, adding, "And I let my emotions get the best of me. I am... sincerely sorry for that."

There's a few moments of toweling his forehead before he hears that light rapping on his door. He thinks nothing of at first, hinking it might've been someone bringing him food. That is until he hears the Dahlia's voice. Bitterness and anger comes to the surface. Anger at her voice being the reminder of his ineffectiveness and at the fact that he had to swallow his pride resurrect someone who almost killed him someone who he'd sooner kill himself. Who in turn smacked him for being insolent because of something that wasn't mentioned in the deal. The things he goes through to insure the safety of his sister.

When the door is opened, the Shadow Advisor is greeted by a bare-chested man covered in grotesque scars from neck to waist telling the tale of someone who had lived a rough life and severely marring an otherwise aesthetically pleasing musculature.

The tone of the Capoeirista's voice is tense, "I'm listening..."

When the Scarlet Dahlia then proceeds to apologize to him. He's quiet at least at first but a single eyebrow gets raised with a look of incredulousness probably shaded by his current emotional state.

"I appreciate the fact that you're coming to me at this time."

On one hand, he has a feeling that the Shadow Advisor has more to say. On the other, he's not exactly feeling all that hospitable so while he's not slamming the door in her face(as much as he would like to) he's not exactly inviting her in either.

Even to someone without the Dahlia's sensitivity to emotions would be able to sense the tenseness emanating from the capoeirista. And really, all things considered, it is not unwarranted.
The Ainu woman can definitely appreciate the candor with which Aranha resisted the terms of the modified agreement, after all.

During the fight, the Scarlet Dahlia was a creature borne of purpose, raw and unrelenting in her attacks. But her presence is completely different now -- soft and airy where before she was rigid and unyielding. Her expression softens -- her apology honest. "It is regrettably easy for one to become so singlemindedly focused upon one's own search for social justice that they ignore the trials others fight every day. It comes as small comfort, I'm sure -- but I can say that I should have communicated my intention with you in our shared vision."

She pauses. Never once has she looked away, or shown the signs of someone who might be lying -- her gaze had remained fixed upon Aranha all along -- with concern, not the intense stare of a predator.

Pressing her lips together for a moment, the Ainu woman instead changes topics -- sensing that further pursuit of the apology line might be -less- sincere. While not welcomed inside, she does take a less direct stance, shifting her hips to the side and folding her hands amiably before her. "How do you feel? I do hope you were treated well after our fight."

Her concern, after all, rests upon Shang Tsung's treatment of the young man. Her gaze shifts slightly, towards the Dancing Spider's prominent facial features. She suspects the Sorceror may have taken... liberties with the traceur in the time apart.
Judging from Shang Tsung's parting comments to her, her inspection is intended to determine whether the the wizened sorceror had taken -more- than just liberties.

The Dancing Spiders both the one of this world and the one of the alternate world trapped within his Dusty Yellow Shard carved in the shape of a spider worn around his neck would find the various behavior masks that the Dahlia wears intriguing if not for his current moodiness. Are they illusions suited towards the beholder or are they just different aspects of the person themself and that when merged form the complete picture of the person that stands before him.

When she mentions her quest for social justice, he thinks back to Metro City and the days after the Twin Towers fell due to terrorism and how for a short time racism on the black man eased up as the target shifted to Muslims. His mind then thinks back to the chaos of Metro City being pulled into Majigen and the Majigen Series Tournament and how the target shifted off of African Americans once more and this time towards Darkstalkers and how it affected him with his sister being a Darkstalker in addition to being of African descent and feeling an obligation treat them as they come to him out of a desire to avoid hypocrisy. A desire to not subject them to the treatment that he suffered as black man living in America.

Thankfully she lets that line of thought go and inquires after his well-being. He then tracks the Shadow Advisor's gaze. It leads him guessing that the concern is because of his current appearance. "Yeah. I'm ok. No ill effects other than a headache." He then glances down at his hideously scarred chest. "These are just old scars." The tone of voice indicating that he's not going to go into more detail than that.

Detailing the Scarlet Dahlia's numerous mental disorders would probably fill an entire psychological volume -- but as often as the enigmatic psion chooses to wear masks, it would be difficult to penetrate the current facade. Contrary to the norm, her concern for Aranha's well-being is as honest and heartfelt an emotion as can be possible for the young Ainu woman.

A hand flutters to her chest, as her ribcage heaves with the relief of a heavy burden. "Oh, thank goodness. I... overdid it, I think. And having the Sorcerer -right there-..."

She presses her lips closed, taking a half-step back. The traceur's mind is walled-off to her, invigorated by his recent workout. His resistance to supplying further detail is noted, and appreciated.

With a sigh, she releases her held breath. "Just hear me out for a moment. You have no reason to trust me, and I suppose that's fair. If we had met in a Neo League fight, perhaps things would be different. But the fate of Earthrealm rests on us. And as I said before -- I need your help, and that of every able-bodied fighter on this island."

"The mysterious artifacts granted us by the Elder Kamui are extraordinarily powerful. They can grant us swiftness, strength or fortitude. Or..."
The acrobat lifts her left knee, brushing the side of her hand along the healing scar tissue.
"... They can heal wounds. And in the right circumstances, they can even reverse death."

The Shadow Advisor lowers her leg, her face fading back to neutrality. "I do not get the sense that you'd used any of these -gifts- in your fight against me. If I had been... a true =monster=... would you have?"

The Dahlia traces her fingertip along the edge of her gemstone. "Because the demons of Outworld will not hesitate to kill us. That is why I am working with a cabal of the best. That is why I look after them, train them -- and hone them. I hope that for every blow Earthrealm's forces are dealt, we deal -more- of an impact to the forces of Outworld in the process."

The Dahlia tilts her head slightly askance. "I feel I can make an impact. But in order for that to happen, we need as many boots on the ground as we can. I want to bring back more of our warriors -- but I lack the power. I do not -want- to kill for it, as those of Outworld have."

The Dahlia pauses, lowering her head.
"I ask for it."

The Dancing Spider is quiet when the Dahlia goes through what he pretty much considers a sales pitch. One that he had already been mostly sold on in their shared vision. Mostly. There were important details that were left out that became a source of tensions that now the Dahlia is attempting to smooth over.

"I had been already working under a similar mindset, reserving its use for the Outworld and anyone I considered to be detrimental to my or earth's survival. That's why I didn't use my gem against you or Glenn. In Glenn's case, he didn't really give me an opportunity to either. After what he did to me, I definitely was considering using it on him just because he's just that damn dangerous to our own people. I still can't believe I agreed to helping you bring him back after someone else killed him."

He shifts his own stance with one arm folded across the chest and the elbow of his other arm resting on the hand. It was the type of stance he used to take on constantly when watching over his now deceased sister as her bodyguard and was quite comfortable in it. Relaxed but guarded and not as easily trapped as the standard folded arms stance.

"Like I said in that shared vision, it's up to him to show me that it wasn't a mistake to help you bring him back. It's now extended to you. Don't make me regret agreeing to help you. I'll be your ally, I'll be your eyes in places where others may not be able to get to. I will help you, but I will never agree to be anyone's house nigga."

Aranha does not like using that word. His current conversation companion can actually feel the disgust rolling off of him as that last particular word leaves his lips. But the Dancing Spider felt that word was needed to drive the point home.

The Dahlia has said a lot -- and as much as she values the opportunity to pontificate at length, she also makes for a fantastic listener. With Aranha's terse responses up till now, the muscles of her face respond to each sound -- taking in each syllable with patience and attentiveness.

She is, in a word, pleased. For the Ainu woman does not see that Aranha needs very much in the way of convincing; he already understands her point, that Earthrealm fighters need to work together.

"I am glad you agreed," she assents, while Aranha shifts his weight. "Princess Kitana of Outworld is much more representative of the cutthroat attitudes and mores of the Outworlders. Beautiful -- but brutally deadly in ways that most of Earthrealm cannot even perceive."

She holds back her words for a moment, listening carefully. As the onus is placed upon her and Zach to prove their worthiness of his assistance, the Dahlia draws in her breath quietly. It's not quite... bristling, but perhaps that's the closest word for it. For her vision and her path to be questioned so...

But she reminds herself of the statement made just after she had unfortunately knocked Aranha unconscious. The one -directly- pertaining to the uncomfortable epithet repeated by him.

She reminds herself: she'd said that the two were equals.

She closes her eyes at the memory. Taking a gulp of air, she nods her head. "Noted. Even with my aim of sweeping you under my wing so that the Sorcerer would not have the leverage to keep you, it was foolish, arrogant, and presumptuous."

She bows her head, glancing downward at the gemstone on her hip. Twisting it sideways, she removes it from her sash. As she holds the honey-hued gemstone out to him with both hands, the colors swirl within, as if it were filled with a viscous liquid.

"While you were resting, I... needed to act quickly to save him, at the cost of halving my own potential stores." The gemstone is only a fraction as bright as during her battle with Aranha. "And from what I know of the Princess, what I have now will be insufficient."

She smiles faintly, bowing her head. "She, and anyone else from Outworld, will be my target in the tournament. Any contribution you can offer would be most appreciated."

The Dahlia is not... exactly accustomed to asking for favors.

When the Ainu speaks, it's his turn to nod and give grunts of comprehension as she goes over her particular target. One that he definitely finds agreeable. Take out one of their particularly brutal members? That was something he could get behind. The question was he even capable of it. The one that died at her hands was the same person who almost killed him

When she explains her reasoning, he gets it but it would've been someting he would've been willing to swallow his pride on if he had known. The problem was, he didn't. And even then, he was thinking up phrases which would've been more agreeable to his ears.

"They will be my target as well. Do you know of any other Outworlders of note I should be looking out for?"

The Dahlia frowns faintly. This is where she wishes that her reconaissance were based in technology, rather than hearsay and rumor.

"... There is one known as... Cyrax, if I remember correctly. I -believe- him to be one of the Outworlders, though I am not entirely sure. There is also a darkstalker by the name of... Lotus, if I recall -- reportedly responsible for slaying one of our own."

She casts her eyes downwards. "A swordswoman who I had hoped to speak more with. Who had a... peculiar aura about her, not unlike that of..."

She trails off, lost in thought for a moment.

And then she looks up, at the dusty yellow shard, shaped like a spider.

"You might think this silly, but perhaps you would know her. Somehow. Aya Tsukitomi."
Another pause.
"That's a friend, not an Outworlder, of course."

The Dahlia bows her head lightly. She can sense that Aranha's shard has faded somewhat since their battle -- and yet, she yearns for -more- power. Power to replace that which she sacrificed. "There are more -- certainly there are. Their guards, of course -- which my little cabal -ought- to be able to handle. But there are also champions -- the legendary champion Goro, for instance -- of the four-armed race called the Shokan."

She looks back at her gemstone, and the slowly-swirling energies within... Will it be sufficient for taking on -any- of the dangers she just rattled off?

The capoeirista listens as the Shadow Advisor goes over the list of people of interest, connecting the names to announcements as well as any results he might've heard about by way of gossip of the staff that brought him food while he was under self imposed room restriction for the sake of rest. It's interesting that two of the names rattled off in a row are actually connected.

"Lotus, the one rumored to have killed one of our own, was supposed to face Aya. Could that mean..."

His lips turn downward into a frown at the possibility that a person of interest that is on their side was taken off the field. He doesn't like this one bit.

"Well... I've been given some direction. I guess it's my turn to make sure you don't regret keeping me alive."

Did he just admit that proving themselves was a two-way(in his mind he was considering Zach and the Dahlia a single entity) street? Yes, he did.

The Dahlia nods in agreement with Aranha's realization. "The very same." The Ainu woman had spoken with Aya on many prior occasions, and while there were certainly connections to be found, the swordswoman's standoffish nature had made it difficult for the Dahlia to learn more about their overlapping histories. She nods quietly, frowning.

When Aranha admits the two-way nature of their relationship, the Ainu woman nods to that as well. "I never regret taking the time to make a friend. But... that brings to mind the one last issue I would like to discuss before leaving you to your day. Unless, of course, you would like some salmon that should have just finished broiling..."

The Dahlia's features harden somewhat. In her earlier attempts, she tried to take her objectives by force. The Elder Kamui, it would seem, have taken steps to prevent that -- the soul shards deflect any attempt at intervention. The prize can only be offered in two ways -- either offered willingly, or yielded via kombat.

"On the verge of defeat, you had agreed to grant me some of the soul energy you carry along with you. I admit -- I no longer have no bargaining pressure to apply."

Her expression lightens once more -- an open admission. "After all, you already know I want you to continue fighting for Earthrealm. So if you feel it is not in your best interest...?"
The Dahlia's smile fades a degree, as she gives a placid shrug. The well of soul energy in her hands swirls about, like a small bowl of amber-colored soup. "... Then perhaps I will be disappointed, but we'll consider the matter settled just the same. No strings attached."

Her expectant smile takes a more hopeful uptick.

"You do have leverage though. And it's not in either of our best interests at this time for you to need to use it."

She does have leverage. And he helped her obtain it. While Zach lives, there's two people who can just as easily come after him.

Internally, Aranha finds the idea of being considered a friend an odd concept. Because of his previous line of work, he either had allies or associates. Never anyone he considered his friend except his late older sister, Karen, in this world a promising R&B singer. He thought of how she was taken away before her career could truly blossom. He could protect her from others but like his counterpart from another world though under different circumstances couldn't protect her from herself. The other one he could consider a friend was his younger sister, Kelly, in this world, forcibly turned into a Darkstalker.

He pushes those thoughts of his family aside. He needed to focus on the here and now or else his remaining sister won't have a future. "I greatly appreciate the offer but I should probably wash up. I'm not sure that you'd appreciate me wearing Eau du Workout."

The Dahlia's smile grows tight for a moment at the suggestion that she -could- enact some sort of... punitive measures for failing to comply. But that expression disappears almost as quickly as it appears, replaced with a soft gale of laughter. "Is -that- the act of a friend? Threats? What kind of monster do you think I am, anyway?"

The Shadow Advisor shakes her head slowly. "No, no... in the heat of battle is one thing. You've proven that you are made of sturdier stuff, Aranha. You were willing to stand up to me even when I had the proverbial knife at your throat. That means more to me than an entire platoon of Outworld soldiers. No -- you are a man of principles."

She nods quietly. The gemstone in her hands lifts, ever so subtly, as her gaze droops to the dusty yellow shard, carved into the likeness of a spider, that rests upon Aranha's neck.

"This tournament is a battle of principles."
Her eyes lift back to Aranha. "And that is why we shall win."

She glances away, nodding once more with faint amusement. "I haven't minded in the past several minutes, why would I start? But, yes, as you wish." She looks expectant for a moment, as if anticipating another exchange. She would press the point -- but she said no strings attached. Whenever he's ready -- if at all.

"I won't keep you any longer. Standing offer, of course. I have a number of tasty -- and nutritious -- recipes to share if you are interested. We must maintain our strength for the battles ahead."

Log created on 19:17:57 10/13/2016 by Honoka, and last modified on 14:33:31 10/14/2016.