Description: Zach talks to Honoka about his meeting with Nakoruru. Plans are made.
Zach had a long, and for the most part boring night. Aside from that one visitor he got while making sure Daniel "Total Bastard" Little did not make a mess of things. It left him with a pair of fairly pertinent questions, one of which he can get an answer to fairly quickly. He heads back to the room he was sharing with Honoka, and pauses outside the door. Realizing that she's actually awake, he knocks once on the door to let her know that he is about to enter before actually doing so.
"Hey," he says quietly. He sounds a little tired, but seems a little excited; he's been up all night and generally prefers about eight hours of sleep that he hasn't had yet. He debates playing around with the matter, but decides to skip to the chase.
"Nakoruru was by the Academy tonight," he says. "She wanted to see the place."
When Zach enters, the Ainu woman looks up at him with weary eyes. She exhibits none of the makeup that distinguishes the Dahlia persona, and none of the hair extensions that typify the look of the Twilight Star Circus juggler. Just a bleary-eyed Ainu woman in a camisole top and pajama bottoms, lit from below by the glow of LEDs from three separate tablets.
In stark contrast to Zach, Honoka rarely sleeps for more than five hours in a single stretch. Which means that a lot of the time, she can be found huddling over a trio of tablets on a desk, working multiple tasks in parallel. Each tablet allows the Akatsuki-gumi advisor to juggle all her current business interests for maximal effect. This is all the sort of stuff she -couldn't- do openly, before admitting the one most obvious truth to her boyfriend a few months prior. But now... well, the boyfriend gets to deal with the master manipulator at her best and her worst.
Like now, when she'd just woken up from a brief nap some five minutes prior.
"Hey, you." A languid smile crawls onto her face, blue light reflecting in her eyes as she gives him a brief nod of acknowledgement.
... And then, as news is delivered, an eyebrow is arched. "Nakoruru?"
She falls silent, looking at the floor and blinking for a few moments.
"... This better not be a joke."
Zach returns the smile as he leans against the door. He folds his arms across his chest and sinply shakes his head. "If you thought /that/ might be a joke," he says, that smile still on his face, "Wait until you hear this one." Zach takes a deep breath.
"She and I are teaming up for King of Fighters. She wants to see what the world has become since the last time she was here, but the scope of that kind of thing was a little intimidating for her I think. I figured that the King of Fighters would provide a little focus, make it a little less daunting. She also like the idea of possibly seeing some of the people she met on that island in a... less lethal context."
He takes another breath before continuing. "And while I might be an idiot about some things, I'm smart enough to know that you had better be the first person we asked about filling out the rest of the roster. Nakoruru is willing to have you on if you are willing to join us. But both of us can accept the idea that you would rather be doing what you are doing right now. It's important work, and important to you. There is no pressure or wrong answer on this."
Zach absolutely means that.
As Zach talks, Honoka eases back against her chair. Retrieving a hairbrush from her desk, she slowly begins working out the raven-black tangles of hair. With each of Zach's sentences, she 'wakes up' just a bit more, breaths growing longer. The urge to react wildly is suppressed, as she mentally reminds herself of the need to stay calm.
Reminds herself that none of the tablets are really a topic of discussion right now, nor should they be.
Her mouth presses into a thin line as Zach states his question in the form of statements. There is no urgent need to respond, no pressing for an answer. She could get back to him.
And yet, she answers after only a few moments.
The word is delivered quickly and clearly.
"I'll join you."
There are a number of thoughts going through her head at the moment. But the chance of working with the Avatar of the Kamui is not one she will pass up.
Zach smiles a bit at this. He's glad Honoka is joining the team. But then he tilts his head to one side, looking at his ladylove with unmasked curiousity. "What's on your mind?" he asks quietly, wondering if she'd be willing to metphorically lean on him regarding whatever it is that has her thoughts at the moment.
Brush, brush, brush.
"Mm? ... Just wondering... what brought her by. Like."
She thinks for a moment, and then her brow furrows as she finds herself at a rare loss for words.
"... I dunno... Was she here for very long?"
"She was not here for very long," Zach replies. "She wanted to see the school, I think. Maka was on the property," refering to Makaotari, "But... I kind of got the impression she was there to see me, even if she didn't realize it until after we were done talking."
Always/ acted on it. Sometimes he got beat up for it, sometimes he did some good. Sometimes it was a little of both. I get the impression she does much the same thing."/Zach smiles faintly as Honoka takes the comb to her hair. There is something about the almost ritual-like movements that Zach finds... oddly calming. He pushes away from the door, and carefully makes his way around the desk where Honoka is working. He takes a long breath, gathering his thoughts while throwing a quick glance at the tablets. "Glen, when he was alive, had this thing where he felt like he had somewhere to be, after he came into his talents. /Always/ acted on it. Sometimes he got beat up for it, sometimes he did some good. Sometimes it was a little of both. I get the impression she does much the same thing."/Always/ acted on it. Sometimes he got beat up for it, sometimes he did some good. Sometimes it was a little of both. I get the impression she does much the same thing."
"... She was there to see you?" Very slight emphasis on the last word; she isn't trying to imply that Nakoruru has no business with a sisam. Being a bit groggy still, she does share a look of crestfallen disappointment. "I have been asking Apehuchi for an audience with her, but perhaps..."
She trails off as Zach walks around to her desk to stand behind her. What's on the screens? Emails are on the screens. Lots of really short emails in clipped Japanese. Honoka spares a glance at the content of the screens before ultimately deciding that random glances aren't harmful -- the contact names are obscure the point only the Dahlia would be able to match one name with the other.
That said, there is a slight uptick of anxiety when he does look. And it is not long before the Ainu woman locks the tablet nearest her, stacking it neatly upon the other two tablets. It is certainly not the first time she's closed down tablet windows to focus on a conversational partner.
"I suppose that's what it is. I... I doubt I'd have been as motivated to do what I had on the island if not for her being right there beside me."
She diverts her gaze momentarily, returning the brush to her hair, before flicking her eyes back to Zach's. "... But no. I... I'm somewhat concerned about the Academy while we're off fighting. I think I can work around it."
"Not intentionally, anyway," Zach says simply, smiling a little as she shuts down the tablets. He was mostly looking to she how she reacted to the move. "I'm not sure. She's worse than Ichijo when it comes to giving straight answers, and I don't know how the whole living legend thing is supposed to work to begin with."
He returns the glance that Honoka gives him. "I'm sure you have people," he say with no heat. "I also happen to know some people who are really good with physical security and are equipped to deal with a wide variety of unwanted guests. Who are also fairly discreet." He shrugs.
"It'd be a matter of how much you'd want to tell them," he says after a moment, "But that shouldn't be much of an issue."
If Zach wanted to be called out as nosy, he would have to try a little harder than that. But hopefully the message of 'pay attention to your girlfriend and not her nefarious underworld connections' is communicated plainly enough by the gesture.
"It 'works' on faith. You believe in the kamui, and the kamui may decide to help you in your day to day life." Her tone is patient, and plain; she knows who she's talking to, and she believes that Zach has an appreciation for things he feels but cannot see. Even though Honoka's 'faith' is bolstered by supposedly -meeting- her gods and their avatar, she does not press the issue any further than that. "All I know is that her visits are a blessing, and the opportunity to play tour guide to the world is... not something I can pass up."
As to the mention of discreet followers, Honoka shrugs mildly. If he wants to help, then it would certainly be appreciated considering Elise's earlier caution about the fae world. "Well, you can tell them your girlfriend's school needs help while we do the thing. Unless you're planning on donning another secret identity this year, too?"
Paying attention to said connections may just BE a way of paying attention to said girlfriend. Zach's not exactly been shy about wanting to learn more about Honoka and what makes her tick, but he's willing to respect set boundaries.
"I was talking more about how it works for her," Zach says by way of explaination, "I don't think she sees herself as anything divine." He thinks for a moment at the question, though.
"Not sure there'd be a point," Zach finally answers, frowning slightly. "The mask... didn't really help much the last time. Not in any real way." Then that grin breaks out again. "Besides, the knowledge that the team has a bona fide world champion on the roster might make for good publicity for everyone involved." Maybe he *did* learn something about the showmanship side of business? Hard to say.
"Exactly, Zach. She does not see herself as anything divine. That's why it works." Shoulders shrug, just moments before locks of tangle-free hair fall onto them.
"Mm... is that a fact? That Honoka Kawamoto of the Twilight Star Circus saved the world? Admittedly, I've been in Kushiro for a while and perhaps I don't know these things, but I had understood that the Scarlet Dahlia only has one win under her belt."
Zach turns a slightly confused look towards Honoka. "I meant publicity for the school. The tournament would be an excellent platform for that."
Honoka flashes a more cheerful smile in response. "There you go. And aside from an awesome opportunity to see the world, it'd be a good opportunity to give gentle reminders to everyone else that there's going to be -another- Mortal Kombat tournament in a hundred years. We... should probably be trying to get people ready for that, hmm?"
"Perhaps," Zach agrees. "But who is going to believe that, other than the people who survived this last one?"
"Well, for starters: There is a jar, back home, filled with formaldehyde and what's left of Goro's head." She resumes brushing her hair, closing her eyes softly as she considers her next words.
"Realistically, I don't care if they believe or not, so long as the world is invigorated about -fighting- for what's important. Right now... we can start slow. Build on the enthusiasm that's already taking place. This Pandora's Box of danger that Lee Chaolan brings to the table... well, that'll end poorly, I'm sure of it. And there will be armed conflict again."
The locks fall like a curtain around her shoulders once again. "You've noticed that massive outbreaks of war happen on a cycle, right? You had the Crusades... then you had the Renaissance. And then more war. And then more peace. Each time, humans get more and more efficient at killing one another..."
Legs cross. The brush rests gently atop them.
"But technology has made us lazy. Rather than hone the body, mankind has leaned upon its tools, its weaponry. Guns and machines, rather than the simple sword, or spear, that relies upon muscle power, brute force to leverage."
Honoka arches one eyebrow high. "But there may come a time when we stop waging war with weapons. And return to the basics. Fists and feet, claws and talons."
"And sometimes the end of one war is just drawing up the teams for the next one," Zach says with a nod. He very carefully does not mention the Goro head. That thing kind of skeeves him out, and Zach kind of hopes Honoka will one day donate the thing to science.
"Plenty of people used firearms on the island," he says, maybe focusing on the immediate details, "I'm one of them. Using one in a fight at our level is not as straight forward as it is for most conflicts." Zach shakes his head, dispelling the thought.
"Besides," he says, "People who /can/ fight at our level are... really rare. We make up less than a single digit percentage of the world's population if I had to make a guess. Humanity's strength has almost /always/ been one of numbers. And for that kind of fight, teaching how to use a firearm is far more practical."
"Plenty of people used firearms. And all of that gunpowder would have failed to make a mark in the skin of the Shokan Champion. It is a monumental waste of effort to spend all of your training time learning a weapon that has no effect."
The brush is waved like an instructor's baton as she continues: "War is in our nature. But diligence and hard work are something that humanity has tried to ignore. We speak in an air-conditioned room insulated from the elements, lit with artificial lights to chase away the darkness, even when the temperature is mild outside and the stars have been enough to keep us company for an eternity. Let humanity use the weapons for war. But let us never forget how to fight with our bodies and minds, mm?"
Honoka leans back in her chair, glancing sideways to the yo-yo seated near her stack of tablets. Reaching over, she trades the brush for said yo-yo, looping the string about her finger. "The Circus is all about pushing humans to go further."
The yo-yo snaps out, sideways.
"To press their limits, and exceed them."
Log created on 13:47:05 07/24/2017 by Zach Glenn, and last modified on 03:00:43 07/26/2017.