Description: In the midst of tracking down potential leads on the identity of his green-haired stalker, Heidern approaches a Knight of the Sacred Order for any information she might have. The Mercenary finds that there may be more sides to the shadowy 'NOL' than he had first anticipated, as he finds an earnest and loyal warrior in Clio St. Jeanne.
Afternoons. They are not the favored times of Clio St. Jeanne, but she is out and about, covered in the heavy and overdone cloak of the Order's uniform. Mostly, she wears the thing to conceal her exposed arm, the chain making light clinking noises when she movies it around too much. Mostly she thinks it makes her look like a belted umbrella. In the patrolling, she's also taking ideas of what to do when not actively persuing details on the gear army. There's a lot to do in Southtown Village. A few museums and coffee shops could be nice. A stop at a bookstore. it's a shopper's paradise.
There are a number of people in the shopping district, a lot of them young. She would blend in a little more were she not in uniform. And her relatively short height hides her outside of her uniform. She walks, eyes half-lidded like a cat that doesn't want you to think she's paying you any attention. She stops by a window and looks up at the marquee. She's not entirely minding her job at the moment, it seems, feeling somewhat dulled by the high sun and the crowds.
Ever since the chance encounter in the deep woods outside of Southtown, Heidern has been a man on a mission - even moreso than usual for the driven, relentless Mercenary Commander. A man used to knowing all the pieces on the chessboard, found himself taken by surprise while observing United Nations troop movements... by an unknown player in the game. A dangerous man with green hair, and a power that the experienced Heidern has never felt before... no, not even from Shadaloo's psycho powered monsters.
This was something different. Something new.
And... the man mentioned his 'daughter'. Indeed, it might have been his only mistake in the battle, as the rage drove the Ikari CO into a frenzy usually unseen by the professional soldier. It allowed him to, barely, defeat the unknown stalker... and yet, the man still had the strength and wits about him to make his escape before Heidern could finish questioning.
This is troubling to the man used to having Intel on everyone. Troubling enough to divert a portion of his attention to tracking down this mysterious figure.
Those efforts brought him to a debriefing record from Leona herself... an encounter with a 'Lietuenant Noel' of a subsect of the 'Novus Orbis Librariam' - within reported ties to, of course... the UN.
They may be new players to Heidern, but they've already established themselves as a priority target, thanks to the words and actions of the butterfly-knife wielding Hazama.
As Clio wanders about the shopping district, she might not even notice the cloaked figure watching her from the shadows. Owing to his experience and skill, Heidern - in uniform under a billowy black cloak, hood pulled up to conceal his recognizable face (it is, after all, enemy territory) - peeks out from behind corners, up from shipping boxes, around market stands, always keeping Clio in sight with his keen eye.
And then, she pauses and stops by a window, glancing up at the marquee. And in a second, he's there, standing tall at over 6' behind the more diminutive Sacred Order officer. The style of dress is so similar, and Clio has been spotted in Southtown by his own Ikaris running recon... perhaps the UN has gotten too complacent in this occupied country.
"Sacred Order, Novus Ordis Librariam. Don't deny it."
The words come out in a harsh whisper, suddenly, from behind Clio's shoulder. If she turns, she'll be faced down by the Mercenary General, arms held stiffly at his sides, one good eye glaring down at the woman.
There were things on Clio's mind, the words from Relius Clover primarily. The opportunities for more than she already has. There are a lot of threats and dangers in this world, a lot of things bump in the night for her to bump back against. And Relius hinted at what she knew; she has never truly been tested since joining the Order. Distractions aside, the war with its distant guns growing closer would bring with it the chance to learn where she stood on a world stage.
And then someone gets the drop on her. Harsh words. Direct operational ties. Her hand grips the spiked end of her chain. A rippling energy runs along the markings on the metal.
"I'm not. The fashion should give it away if you already know who we are. You haven't hit me with anything yet, so is it safe to assume I can turn around? Doubt you're that ugly," humor, disregard, defense mechanisms given with a smirk. Especially as she can look into the large window display to her side and see reflections in it.
At first, there is no response to Clio's words - the man codenamed 'Heidern' simply regards her face in the reflection of the storefront window, much as she stares back at him using the same. From the Ikari's part, there is a visible lowering of tensions as she makes no effort to disguise her true nature, even if the organization's purpose remains shrouded in mystery. With any luck, this conversation will proceed more smoothly than his... 'encounter' with the green-haired man turned out to be.
Finally, after a few moments of silence, the lanky, cloaked man speaks. "The outcome depends on you," he states simply and firmly, no edge to his voice but a definite hard, unwavering quality about it, "And what you can tell me."
That humour, that dismissiveness... he encountered much the same from Hazama himself - might the NOL really teach their soldiers and operatives such a lack of manners? Is their power so great, that they truly DO fear nothing? This concerns the usually stoic Heidern - though he would hardly be one to show it... it's almost as troubling as Hazama knowing so much about the only family Heidern has left...
"No sudden movements," is his only warning in regards to her query about turning herself to face the man - he stands a foot or two away, but looms heavily over Clio all the same. "I'm here with questions. All you need to worry about, is providing answers."
A pregnant pause as Clio waits for the man behind her to react. She rolls her chain between her fingers, passes the spike from one hand to the other underneath her cloak. She looks the reflection over, gauges distance. She doesn't want to fight, not in the sunny afternoon when she could be napping, and not with so many people around.
She sighs, heaving a tired exhalation. She turns around to regard the man behind her rather than his reflection. She gives a little overacted shrugging dance to make the cloak jostle around. "I'm in a giant bag, not much sudden happening here." She yawns and blinks, still half lidded as she looks up at Heidern.
"Listen, I'm a little sleepy and it's really bright outside, so forgive me if I'm not as peppy as I could be. But, nice eye patch. Have you ever considered doing something with it? All seeing eye of Odin maybe? Go good with you knowing about things, and you seem to already know something or other since you're looking for a person like me about my employer." Verbal judo begins now.
Heidern's eye catches everything, the rolling of the chains, every tiny movement that the unusually-dressed, and... startingly calm soldier makes. He has seen what one of these individuals is capable of, and though Clio hardly seems as mysterious and bizarrely dangerous as the green-haired man he met in the woods, the Ikari CO is taking nothing for granted.
The fact that she is confirmed as being tied to the UN keeps the man on his guard, though his posture doesn't seem to give off any real sense of menace, hands still firmly at his sides. The cloak still conceals the majority of his face, and covers his uniform but for the knee-high leather boots he almost always wears.
"They teach you those jokes at the NOL, soldier?" comes the stern, unhumorous response from the disguised Ikari - clearly he doesn't share the sense of levity that Clio seems to have about this entire situation. But then, she might not know what SOME members of her organization are getting up to in their free time... she might, truly, believe their actions are... innocent.
"You might have all the time in the world for banter. Some of us have work to do."
One hand raises up, gloved index-finger pointing firmly at Clio as Heidern's single eye narrows. "Your organization. Who are you? And, more importantly, WHAT are you doing here?"
Clio smiles, inclines her head just a little in approval at the soldier's directness. She clinks the chains again, fingers tapping to cause the noise. A light fidget to make the time seem longer. "There's a lot of people around here," she notes. "It's my job to keep them safe, even if they don't know. I'd rather not cause a scene in a place I want to shop in tonight."
She looks around and back up to the soldier. "And no, my jokes are my own. Officers don't really like it sometimes, but it defuses tension. And where did you get your boots. Serious question. I think I want a pair."
She smiles again. "If you're willing to go tit for tat, I can do a little. We're a peacekeeping organization. There's a lot of monsters out there. We fight back against them." She leans back on her heels. "Now about those boots?"
"This isn't an exchange," Heidern says suddenly, immediately after the offer to trade information. He may not make any openly aggressive moves, but the quickness of his reply should be proof enough that he has no intent on bantering back and forth with the Sacred Order soldier.
There are questions, and Clio might have answers. That's ALL this is to the Ikari CO.
He steps in closer, crowding her heavily, his right hand moving out immediately to grab the thick chain resting around her arm - the only visible weapon the diminutive soldier seems to possess on-hand.
"PEACEKEEPING organization? If you're with the United Nations, you're an ENEMY COMBATANT in a time of WAR," he says sternly, voice lowering to whisper the words into Clio's ear as he stands ever-closer.
"You do realize what this means, if you don't cooperate?"
"At what point did you make it clear you were with Japanese authorities?" Clio asks. She close, direct and being crowded by a very creepy older man in a public location. Her lip curls and her left hand grips the weighted portion of her chain. The coils glow faintly with violet light, chi energy infusing the metal.
"You've clearly already made up your mind about the Knighthood and myself. If you want to satisfy your bloodlust, I'm willing to give until I can't, but I won't have you endangering all these people." She looks Heidern in the eye. Her eyes are wide now, aware, and stone serious. The chi flows through her chain and she loses that bit of a languid slouch and the tired appearance. "Even if I lose, I can still say I bought time for them to run from a madman who accosts women who don't give him what he demands."
The woman's response... actually causes Heidern to pause, his remaining, uncovered eye narrowing sharply at her words. Not wanting to risk lives...
Isn't that what the Ikaris are here for? To save lives? Could it be this woman is just an innocent soldier, following her orders as she believes best, unaware of the cancer eating away at her organization from the inside? Likely she's never even MET the green-haired man... if Heidern was any less perceptive, it's likely even HE wouldn't have discovered him that morning in the woods.
Releasing his grip on Clio's arm suddenly, the Ikari CO takes a half-step back and pulls the hood of his cloak down off his head - revealing his short, black hair and famous, one-eyed visage to the Sacred Order member.
He doesn't respond to the mention of being with the Japanese authorities - it's likely that Clio will recognize the world-famous soldier and mercenary, and realize who she's talking to.
No longer crowding the woman quite as much, he still remains facing her down with a grim look on his face as he speaks in the usual hushed whisper, ensuring no passers-by eavesdrop.
"I'm not looking to make more enemies, soldier. Enough of those around: I had a run in with a man. I have reason to believe he's tied to your organization, though I'm not sure..."
He reaches into his cloak, making it clear with the precision of his movements that he means no harm to Clio as he does so... and pulls out a hand-drawn sketch of Hazama; outfit, hat, green hair, douchey smile and all.
"Do you know this man?" he says, holding it up for Clio to see.
The chi flowing into the chain around Clio's arm fades, but the arcane markings etched into the metal remain visible. She holds her ground and looks the man over. Her face is still stern. She's still ready and sparking with as much anxiety as a cat raising its hackles. The only thing she's not doing is hissing.
Another clink of the chain, another moment bought as she looks at the picture put up for her appraisal. The suddenness of the picture gets her on her back foot. Part of her guard lowers, but the half-lidded ennui doesn't quite return.
"Dumb hat," she comments. "It's a hand drawn picture, so I can't be too precise, you know that, right?" she asks and leans back on her back foot. She knows of him. She's heard him. She was probably on that plane with him over to Japan. But she doesn't really know him. So she half-truths. "I don't. But I do know that someone looking like that caused a hitch in a rescue." It's not really a lie. "Was it in the woods?"
A rescue in the woods?! Could... did the green-haired man use their encounter as some cover story to feed to his own organization? There was no rescue that Heidern is aware of; he had his men comb the forest for any signs of Hazama or others after the fact, with no results...
"Right," he says instead, folding up the sketch and placing it back in his inside pocket with a slight nod, "The woods."
There's a long pause as he sizes up the woman opposite him. She doesn't seem to be taking an aggressive front, she's not feeding him obvious lies like the green-haired man did. She seems... oddly genuine. She reminds Heidern of some of the soldiers in the Ikaris, in fact... someone looking to follow orders, without knowing where those orders might lead. Too many good men and women find themselves in such a position.. and without a hint of malice coming from her, Heidern relaxes noticeably.
"I know what it is to follow orders, soldier. You think you're doing the right thing. You think your loyalty means something. They're going to use you up, then toss you aside once they're done with you."
A momentary, distant look passes over his remaining eye - the proverbial 'thousand yard stare', a small memento of the things he's bore witness to throughout the years.
"I advise you to re-evaluate your loyalties. I'm not here to fight..." he says, then pauses, index finger again pointing out at Clio as he finishes sharply, "If I meet you on the field of battle, however.. I'll know you've made your choice.."
A nod is given to Heidern. She looks at him. He's an earnest man. A rarity. Possibly completely mad, but possibly having a reason. And he isn't attacking now. He's backed off. He has a face she can more thoroughly look up later. But for now she just has to see him for what he is, a threat that may provoke some sympathy.
"I prefer knight," she tells him, a quick clinking of her chain. "And look around you, they all use you up. It's what we're here for. It's the nature of the business, being a protector." She looks at all the people going about their lives despite the tension. It's admirable, and a reminder of the reality of what she does. "They won't adulate you. They won't pay your bills. A lot of them might even hate you. In the end, you'll burn up, because there's always something else out there. That's why we're loyal. Because we know where we're all heading and we go there willingly. Because us going there means they don't have to."
She looks back at the window of the store behind her. "Sorry. I figured you're one of those who likes a bit of serious talk. The 'field of battle' stuff. And it's Clio. Clio St. Jeanne. Remember it."
Something about the innocence and earnestness of the female Knight has disarmed whatever menacing intent Heidern had when he initially approached her. Intel on this 'NOL' organization has been scant at best; he truly had no idea WHAT to expect from this individual, particularly considering his previous encounter with the bizarre stranger in the woods.
Taking another step back from Clio, the Ikari CO lets out an audible exhalation of breath, no doubt a response to her words. So young, and yet she seems to already understand some small part of exactly HOW the world works - far better than most soldiers of her age and apparent rank.
He lowers his eye momentarily and shakes his head, back and forth, just the once. He's seen enough good men and women in service to evil causes, without even understanding it themselves. Might she be another victim of things beyond her control? Does she believe she's a true 'knight', defending the innocent? It certainly seems like it...
And so, Heidern simply responds in the calm, clipped tones of a professional mercenary:
"Clio St. Jeanne. Commander Heidern, of the Ikari Warriors. The man with the green hair was following me. Bird-watching," he says that last bit with a scoff, obviously still upset by the man's act and the puzzling notebook he left behind.
The menace is completely gone from his voice; his tone now that of a man addressing a soldier he respects. Her words strike home to the life-long professional soldier, although he realizes the emptiness that lay at the end of such a path... he's been there himself.
"You can call yourself whatever you want. Knight. Soldier. Monster. What matters is who and what you serve. Look around you, Knight," he says, this time being sure to use the woman's preferred term, "Is this the future the world deserves? Right now, you're on the wrong side of history. Consider stepping over that line - before it becomes too late."
In some ways a victim, in others willing. She is driven, though. She is also loyal. Naivety is not a driving factor for her. Though some may call the false wisdom of acceptance to be a form of naivety. She remains looking at the advertisement in the window. She has a small laugh that stays caught in her throat. "Over dressed for bird-watching," she comments, "And if you're some kind of were-bird, tell me. Because that'd actually be kind of cool if not monstrous."
Humor and dark tones are gone, she just seems sort of tired for an afternoon. "Don't think Japan is so innocent," she says. "We're not here to be evil marauders. No one is. The people in charge of me. They might have aims that aren't good, but find me someone in power like that that doesn't."
The chains rattle again. "The big things are happening regardless. This," she gestures to her uniform, "This gets me here. This gets me a direction. Maybe people like you are going to butt heads with my superiors, but let me do what I can to keep them safe when the monsters that crawl up with the giants fight back and forth."
'The gruff mercenary can't help but grunt in agreement with Clio's words about 'people in charge' - Heidern has spent his entire life seeing what the men of power are capable of; first serving under then, and then fighting against them as head of his own Mercenary company. Who is he to judge the choices this woman has made? Certainly, he has made his own share of mistakes throughout his many years...
Sometimes, people just have to figure out for themselves what is right. For the first time in the encounter, there's the briefest moment of genuine emotion on the Ikari CO's face, as he regards the Knight through his one watchful eye. In another life, she might have done some good... and who knows, she may yet prove herself worthy of the title 'Knight', for a proper cause.
It's not his place to preach. He's just here for information, after all, which it appears the woman has little enough of, regarding the bizarre 'Hazama' (whose name is still unknown to Heidern and his organization).
"Maybe nobody is righteous, Clio," he says, after a moment's consideration, "One day, you might realize the most noble thing a person can do... is find the right cause, and pursue it. Alone, if necessary."
Though he is no longer looming or even acting threatening beyond the usual vibes of a professional soldier that he exudes, he still points that index finger at the Sacred Order Knight one more time, as he backs off another step.
"I know what it's like to be fooled into working on the side of demons..." he says over his shoulder, after turning his back to Clio and just before pulling the cloak's hood back over his head to disguise his features.
"Better to realize it sooner, rather than when it's too late..."
Log created on 12:36:03 11/24/2017 by Heidern, and last modified on 15:55:40 11/25/2017.