Terumi - The Snake's Den

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Description: Hazama is confronted by Tsubaki after she receives information from Ragna, interrupting a meeting with Katarina. She finds the truth she desires... but at what terrible cost? And someone new may be found worthy of the Imperator's true goals...

The Intelligence Headquarters. Tsubaki would recognize it well. The squat, unassuming brick building on the edge of Southtown, in an area ill suited for looting and pillaging and mostly free beyond vagrants and the fearful hoping the dense structures and fringe will allow them to survive a nuclear impact. Nothing on the outside indicates what lies within, although a small entryway with firm secretary easily vets a pair of NOL individuals. Katarina, of course, has free reign to associate with Intelligence at her discretion, but has been invited to this meeting personally by Captain Hazama. A strange man, by everything she'd know, but at the moment he is the Acting Colonel of all Asian Intelligence affairs, by degree of the Imperator herself, and his station cannot be underestimated.

He's currently within the third story office, room dark beyond a single dim light. Settled behind a large desk, everything excessively neat and tidy. The hatted black figure still wears a number of gauze bandages from his conflict a week prior, although is hardly showing any signs of duress. Keen to state allowed entry, he's carefully going through a few manilla folders, humming lightly to himself with just the ghost of a smile.

Katarina's arrival comes without much fanfare, a small unassuming black car pulling up infront of the equally dull and boring exterior of the Intelligence office. A uniformed NOL soldier steps out of the driver's seat and moves to open the rear door, stepping aside quickly as the young officer immediately swings her booted feet out onto the road almost before he can get clear.

Unlike many of the agents of the Intelligence branch, the uniform that Katarina wears is much more formal and clearly military in design, though it still bears the deep black color of their occupation. Golden gilding and epaulets adorn the trim of its design in sharp contrast, giving the entire outfit an almost parade-like appearance. Her tall hat, with it's golden lion's head surrounded by beams of sunlight, only makes it even more ostentatious and her presence is anything but subtle as she makes her way into the building, almost radiating a palpable presence of invisible magical power like she wants everyone take notice.

Clearly, her talents do not lie in field-work. Rather, she possesses other particular gifts that make her an exceptional hand at interrogation and surprisingly skilled at detecting sedition or dissent within the NOL's own ranks. Thanks to the heavy-handed nature of the NOL's authoritarian approach to law and order, such sentiments are almost inevitable. The Ikaruga uprising had proven that. In the wake of that particularly unpleasant bit of business people like her were in high demand as the guaranteed death penalty for any form of traitorous behavior only made those with grudges become more careful and secretive.

Thus is it not an unusual circumstance that Katarina finds herself in today, summoned specifically by the currently acting head of the local division. Only a few days ago she had been tasked with a subtle interrogation of Lieutenant Vermillion with the hopes that her talents would be able to dig up more information from the wounded woman's memories. She had succeeded, somewhat, but the information gathered was... suspect at best. She'd put it down in her report with a strong emphasis that the words used were Noel's and not her own.

Upon making her way through the winding corridors and flights of stairs to the exterior of Hazama's office, she knocks and announces herself, stepping smartly into the room and offering a crisp salute to the man behind the desk. She knows that Intelligence typically doesn't like such formal acknolwedgement in public but within the confines of their own domain it shouldn't be an issue.

"First Lieutentant Shimotsuki, reporting as requested, sir," she says, her voice a soft wispy thing that still somehow projects clearly across the room.

Tsubaki meanwhile, does not have her own car or transportation. Even with small indulgences from her own personal funds that being a member of one of the Duodecim families, 0th Division work coninuously assured she would be slumming or needing to maintain a low profile normaly. Today however as she stepped out of the subway and made her way to the Intelligence building she was once more dressed in the white cloak and mask of the Wings of Justice.

Her meeting with Ragna the Bloodedge from her own investigation had cast suspicion on just what Captain Hazama had been angling at. If what Ragna had divulged were true, Captain Hazama had betrayed the NOL, attacked Noel, and was now...what? Trying to cover his tracks? He was going about it an odd way if it were the case. When she had recieved notice that Captain Hazama hadn't wanted to speak with her again, she knew something was wrong.

Her cloaked figure walks right past the receptionist. Noting someone else ahead of her. She's going to be more direct. If she is to be a blunt instrument of the Noel's justice, she's not going to hide as she makes her way to the elevator and emerges on the floor that Hazama's office is situated. She's surprised to see someone else at the office. This may change her approach. Given it's obvious how she's choosing to approach this sequence of events Tsubaki does not salute. She's here to judge Hazama. "Captain Hazama." is all she states, standing imperiously, projecting that refined nobility even through mask and cloak, the authority that Tsubaki so wanted back and only in small moments was allowed to exude.

There's a moderate number of quiet black-clad individuals in the building. Each gives a salute towards Katarina as she passes, standing straight with fist to the chest. Such is mere formality, as they return to unknown duties almost immediately afterwards. Tsubaki is not afforded the same, instead given passing glances. Someone from the 0th Division is not nearly so important to manage a good reputation with. Hazama doesn't lift his head entirely, the rim of his hat still concealing most of his face beyond the wan smile. "Ah, First Lieutenant. I've heard good things about you. Do you have your report from Ms. Vermillion?"

Of course, then there's three upset eyes settled not far away, and this makes Hazama lift his head up the rest of the way. "Oh? First Lieutenant Tsubaki! I didn't expect to see you so soon. Do you have a report for me, to?" A somewhat casual gesture is done in the woman's direction. "Shimotsuki, this is Tsubaki. Top of her class in the academy, and a fellow Duodecim. Tsubaki, Shimotsuki. Much the same. Given you interrupted my meeting, I presume you have some important information, First Lieutenant Tsubaki...?"

He leans back then, closed eyes still seeming to somehow peer intently at the masked female, twirling and dancing the pen in his fingers dextrously. The room is utterly silent beyond a large clock, each 'tick' seeming to ring oddly loud in the dark room. "Anything you have to say can be said in front of First Lieutenant Shimotsuki."

"Ofcourse, sir."

Katarina returns the Intelligence officer's smile with a faint one of her own as she takes a step forward to present a thin metal cylinder, likely containing a magical seal of some sort, which she withdraws from one of the long cases affixed around her waist. However, a second voice stops her in her tracks and she turns to peer at the new arrival with a long sideways glance over her decorated shoulder.

The younger woman's lower face is hidden by the tall neck of her greatcoat leaving only her bright crimson eye visible to Tsubaki but even that is enough to betray the faint hint of amusement in her expression at this interruption. The turbulent emotion running through the red-haired woman's soul is plain to see - or hear, in point of fact - the power of the Music Box filling the air with a warbling etude that seems cautious and uncertain in its soft tones. Naturally, she had heard of the infamous 0th Division, though her station had kept her elevated away from those with such an...unpleasant posting. What did surprise her was that someone from a family as prestigious and with such a good record would have chosen to take that job.

Katarina says nothing as the introductions are made for her, remaining enigmatically silent and aloof save for a single curt nod. She waits patiently for this interruption to play itself out, rather curious what business someone like this would have with the head of Intelligence himself.

A frown, so it seems Hazama was going to delay things. Turning her head, Tsubaki's masked face nods to Katarina. "A shame we could not have met under happier circumstances. I merely came to report some findings I've head Captain Hazama, but they can wait till Lt. Shimotsuki has finished." had he planned this meeting? Calling on her the same time Shimotsuki would be there? Strange if that were the case. But it's lending more to her suspicions. Damn it all, was she to be stopped by someone with more power more directly now? Was she being set up? She will have to wait and see.

"..." Hazama's smile slowly fades. He lifts his head slightly more, and for the first time ever, Tsubaki will see his yellow eyes slit open. The twirl of the pen in his hands increases in speed, more and more, until it's a surprising show of finesse and dexterity for someone with gauze wrapped about his palms. "First Lieutenant Tsubaki. You come in here, unannounced. You interrupt a meeting I had arranged. You refuse to salute. And then you presume to tell me how this will play out? Have you forgotten your place? You may be a Duodecim, but I have this."

He then opens his drawer, and pulls out a piece of paper. Unfurling it, both present would likely immediately recognize a decree from the Imperator. The absolute final world of all Novus Orbis Librarium matters, transcending rank, nobility, and all else. It's held up long enough to make it clear that Hazama is acting under her direct will in his role as Colonel. Moreso, that he is under unspecificied duties that grant him even greater authority, if he has need to enforce it.

Carefully rolling it up, it's replaced in the drawer. "This is an order. First Lieutenant Tsubaki. You will tell me exactly why you barged in here." His yellow eyes then flit over to Katarina. "...Tell me if she lies. If she does, I will have her stripped down to the unenlisted, and she can spend the next decade in the bowls of Central Headquarters, processing promotions for everyone else in NOL who didn't make the same *mistakes.*" How would the woman in the room be qualified to know such things? Well, that's hardly important for what comes next...

Katarina's smile seems to tick upwards a couple of degrees at the oddly presumptuous answer which provokes an entirely unsuprising response from the Intelligence commander. She would laugh if it wouldn't make her look as uncouth as the intruder right now, so she simply revels in her superiority by remaining silent and respectful while Tsubaki gets dressed down.

The presenation of the paper causes her gaze to shift away from her fellow officer out of curiosity and she goes rigid almost immediately upon recognizing the Imperator's seal. She stands up straight, heels clinking together as a hand flies to her chest in the formal Imperial salute, all trace of amusement gone from her face in that moment of solemn respect towards the authority contained within that symbol.

"By your command, the Imperator's will be done, sir."

Katarina's smile returns as she turns to face Tsubaki directly for the first time, giving the other woman a good look at her elegant patrician features, her hands clasping behind her back as she relaxes to a parade-rest stance. Those red eyes stare directly into her own without any shame or fear, her expression a casual and almost friendly mask of soft warmth that is completely at odds with the tension hovering over the room.

"I suggest you speak the truth, Lieutenant. It would be a shame for someone of your pedigree to suffer such an ignoble fate."

Tsubaki's eyes widen beneath the mask. She offers her own salute as well. What was this she had been baited into? Why was it command would toy with her so? She doesn't know what Katarina's capable of, but best to leave mask in place. She has no intention of telling a lie. If Hazama wants his accusation laid out, very well.

Tsubaki states, "I have concerns of your loyalty Captain Hazama. According to a witness account of Lt. Vermillions assault, the 'Chain Man' you've set me to find, is in fact, you." one gloved hand lifting to poit at Captain Hazama with all of the confidence she can muster. She's not lying, this is what she knows to be true. Even if she's omitting who she heard it from, and that was intending to attack Hazama if she didn't like his answer, though that Imperial Writ changes things to more complicated.

"...my, my. This is a very serious accusation." Hazama says, after giving Katarina sufficient time to confirm whether this is a falsehood or not. "I take it you would not come here to level this at me without a thorough investigation, verification of facts, and a reliable, trustworthy witness. So please, tell us how you came to this conclusion. If First Lieutenant Shimotsuki agrees with your reasoning, I will step down and allow you to take me into custody for a full investigation." His eyes have slit closed once more, although his mouth remains pulled into a frown. Hands are brought up to loosely lace together, pen dangling down in the middle.

Well now, isn't /this/ interesting.

Katarina's eyes narrow ever so slightly once the full measure of the accussation is laid out, her head tilting forward to obscure the broad smile she now sports behind the tall neck of her greatcoat. The musical crescendo of Tsubaki's convictions into a lilting aria is clear enough evidence to let her know that, at the very least, she believes them to be true. Noel had said something along the same lines during her interview, a stated confusion at how the events she remembered did not seem to add up with the facts. Most curious.

Perhaps even more interesting, however, is the fact that the Captain-slash-acting-Colonel produces no music at all when he speaks. There are very few instances where this has proven to be possible. Most likely he was heavily shielded by protective magic that guarded him against any form of scrying. That would be a logical defensive measure for someone with his rank and job description but it is still somewhat surprising.

It also makes her ability to tell which one of them might have the more compelling case that much more difficult. On the one hand, traitors to the NOL are high on the list of things that Katarina has a personal burning hatred for; and on the other, the Imperator herself had given Hazama her blessing. To doubt the will of the Imperator is tantamount to treasonous itself. If the Intelligence officer is indeed a traitor he has covered his ass rather well.

"She speaks the truth," comes the soft reply a few moments after Tsubaki finishes speaking. "Or her perspective of it, anyways."

Hazama is quick to point out the flaws inherent in the simple accusation - where are the witnesses, what are her sources, what evidence does she have to make such a bold claim? Having the outcome of this matter thrust upon her own shoulders only makes the entire scenario more bizarre but she revels in this brief bit of power, her smile almost genuine now.

"Yes, please share the details of your findings, Lieutenant. I am... most interested to hear them."

"The description of the man you gave me on Lt. Vermillion's attacker is very close to yourself Captain Hazama." she lowers her hand, clenching it into a fist. This is dangerous ground Tsubaki is treading. Her source being the only other witness and he's considered a criminal. Nevermind she let him go. She has no way of telling just how the other Lieutenant's ability works, and Izayoi, while powerful, is almost strictly destructive, meant to destroy powerful beings. It is better then to use her conviction here to try and draw Hazama out, he's already not the normal smiling face. She's touched a nerve, she's certain of it.

"I questioned Ragna the Bloodedge. I managed to track him down, and his claim is the person I'm hunting for matches you. Unless you have a twin brother Captain Hazama?"

"...You questioned an SS-Class bounty? I wasn't aware that he was caught. Did you hear anything of the sort, First Lieutenant Shimotsuki? Without interrogators and Ars Magus reinforced truth incantations, his testimony would hardly be admissable. I mean, would the man who attacked me and Second Lieutenant Noel Vermillion have ANY reason to set the officers of Novus Orbis Librarium against each other?"

One of the manilla folders is then picked up. "We recieved a tip that someone who might have been Ragna the Bloodedge was seen in a restaurant. You responded that you were going to investigate. Yet I don't believe we ever got your report on your findings... despite this."

Hazama then places a picture down on the desk. It is a shot of Ragna the Bloodedge and Tsubaki, mask off, drinking tea at a table in a chinese restaurant. "I had Intelligence go to confirm the report independently. First Lieutenant Shimotsuki. What is the proper procedure for encountering an SS-Class Bounty, the highest possible threat assessment by the Imperator's will? Does it involve having a drink with him?"

This time Katarina is unable to completely stiffle the laugh, though she turns her head aside and brings one of her mailed fists up to try and make it slightly more dignified. That's it? That's the proof she's using to justify this? The word of a /known criminal/? It almost beggars belief. Didn't Hazama say this woman graduated at the top of her class? My, how far she seems to have fallen if she's putting faith in the most wanted man alive over the integrity of her own superiors.

"No, sir. I was not made aware of any such developments," she adds in, somewhat gleefully, taking particular pleasure in the direction this meeting is going. It isn't every day she gets to be involved in something quite so... dramatic.

As a cherry on top of this already scrumptious snack, the photo is produced. Katarina struggles to hide another chortle though her eyes actually widen in amazment at the implications of the image. Fraternizing with the enemy and then barging in like she's some kind of righteous vindicator? What on earth is this woman thinking? She straightens up again as Hazama tosses the ball back into her court.

"Sir! The individual making the discovery is to report immediately to headquarters and request backup and further instructions. They are not to attempt to engage the subject directly or reveal their presence if at all possible. In the event of an unavoidable conflict, they are do their utmost to retrain the subject until help arrives. Having a drink is most certainly not part of proper protocol."

She pauses, looking thoughtful for a moment before smirking openly.

"Though perhaps the Lieutenant thought that she might seduce the man with loose morals. It would certainly be in keeping with her liberal interpretation of Imperial policy."

"As one of the 0th Division I am allowed autonomy in performing my duties." she's glaring under her mask now. The picture produced, so, she was being followed, she had been foolish. But it was not in her nature to decieve.

"I chose to appeal to something he would value, his life." she folds her hands behind her back now.

"You speak of questioning my loyalty where my record speaks for itself Captain Hazama. Yet, the sequence of events you present on the attack of yourself and Lt. Vermillion has no witnesses except for a known criminal and a mystery figure who matches your description. Yet no one seems to know the identity of your mystery clone "Chain Man." she's on shaky ground now, but unless attacked she will not resort to violence, or if Hazama lets slip with something she can use to justify. But in this situation she's hoping to bait something, ANYTHING. Tsubaki was drawn into a trap.

"Your record does speak for itself. You ended up amidst the trash, despite your prestige, family name, and significant records. All because of this. Do you really think I'd be so stupid that I would send you to investigate myself? How would I know Ms. Vermillion wouldn't have memories? Wouldn't I know Ragna the Bloodedge saw the entire thing? So short sighted. You trust your heart, Tsubaki. ...But your heart does not lead you to true justice. Your heart does not follow the will of the Imperator."

It's then that Hazama pulls up another manilla folder. He comes up with a blurry photo, and then places it beside the one of Tsubaki. It is a slender man, wearing a yellow coat. On the back is a cobra-like emblem. The sleeves are rolled up, and countless belts run down the arms. He's wielding two butterfly knives, and green chains are whirling around him. Just barely past the hood, a hint of green hair can be seen.

"While you were allowing SS-Class Bounties to escape, more competent field agents caught this picture of the 'chain man'. I don't believe I'd wear something so gaudy. Classified information implies he is a man known as Yuuki Terumi. A rogue magic user... who specializes in deceit, and misdirection. You cannot trust your memories, encountering him. He can manipulate memories, and even change his skin."

A slow sigh leaves Hazama as he leans back, tugging down the front of his hat. "It appears he intervened due to some personal feud with Ragna the Bloodedge, and had no interest in Novus Orbis Librarium. That is why we were not killed by Ragna the Bloodedge. Or perhaps you are right. Me, a man trusted explicitly by the Imperator and having met her personally, am truly some sleeper agent evil chain-man."

"Which of the two seems more likely? First Lieutenant Shimotsuki?"

A barrage of harsh words comes at Tsubaki from both sides as both Katarina and Hazama unload shot after shot openly at her shoddy claims and at her besmirched character. Though she was not made aware of this situation ahead of time, the white-haired heir of the Shimotsuki family seems to have fallen into the role she was expected to play with great gusto, relishing the opportunity to rip apart another person who should by all rights be her equal in both blood and accomplishment. She has little tolerance for fools who so openly tarnish the name of the NOL and, by proxy, the Imperator.

The second picture is glanced at and she makes a quick note of its obviously lesser quality, though that in and of itself means little, but from a certain perspective might be somewhat suspicious. No doubt the Lieutenant would try to use it as a matter of contention, but Katarina assumed that even that fact had been accounted for by the slipper Intelligence commander. Each piece of evidence had been withheld until it had the most impact, allowing Tsubaki to make a fool out of herself repeatedly. This would probably be no different and, as she is rather enjoying the the thought of watching the woman shove her foot just a little bit deeper into her own mouth, Katarina says nothing on the matter.

"Hard to say, sir," she offers after a moment of careful thought, making a show of closing her eyes and rubbing her chin. "He /does/ have the same color hair as you. Fairly damning evidence... to some people atleast."

Tsubaki can only stare in shock as more ammunition is piled against her. How was this possible? Clearly she had been set up, it was too perfectly timed, too convenient for Hazama to have a foil to each of her own. SHe had only been wanting to intimidate the man into confessing or giving her more information she had felt he held back, and now, it was turned against her, each moment destroying her more and more. In front of another Lieutenant no less, and one of the Duodecim. Her hands ball into fists and she grit her teeth beneath the mask. What was she supposed to do?

They all used her, beat her, spit on her. And all she did was do what was expected. Noel had taken Jin. Makoto coddled her. Hazama was playing this sick game with her. Katarina may have only just now been brought into this shaming, but she too was undermining her. Years of dedication, and now it was all to be destroyed by this man making her chase shadows.

Something snaps, and that normally calm elegance that Tsubaki cultivates is broken as the cloak vanishes with Izayoi's activation, stabbing the blade into the picture as ice cold eyes stare across the desk.
"Convenient this intel was never passed to me. Convenient that when I asked for particulars they are unavailable, and when I'm summoned and I arrive to ask Intelligence for what I need it contradicts everything I was told before." That gloved hand trembles on the blade. It would be easy. But it would be against everything she is. What was there for her anymore? She was living on borrowed time now anyway with the use of Izayoi.

The suddenly produced weapon doesn't appear to cause any concern for Hazama, although it really should. Tsubaki, if she actually succeeded in wielding the weapon properly, is an incredibly dangerous force. Even then, she should surpass Katarina martially, and Hazama is known as a non-combatant. But instead Hazama claps his hands slowly, his smile growing wider. A hand indicates to Katarina to take no action, which is itself an unusual decision. At this point, she should be restrained and imprisoned for daring to bring her weapon to bear against an acting Colonel so aggressively.

"There it is. That's the look I was after all this time. First Lieutenant Tsubaki. That... is your justice. Your conviction. I knew this position was wasted on you." Slowly the slender man pushes to his feet, hands slipping to his pocket as he moves to walk around his deck. The utter silence making the muffled loafers seem somehow loud, ominous, the constant clicks of the clock like the revolver in a twisted game of Russian Roulette, constantly striking the empty chamber.

"I asked you to gather information. Nothing more. You verified our reports that a green-haired individual used chains. This is commendable. But look what you've done...! You've turned it to ash. You trusted the addled words of a terrorist instead of rationally presenting these findings to me. You forgot your PLACE. First Lieutenant Tsubaki."

His arms then spread, solemn. "The messengers and hammers of the Imperator, come to deliver righteous justice! Let sinners be punished! Let justice be done! ...That's right, isn't it? But where in that does it say YOU are judge and jury? It is the Imperator who guides you. It is the Imperator you follow. Through the Imperator, you will be recognized and adored."

Slowly his hands move to slip back in his pockets, slender shoulders shrugging. "Tell me truthfully. Do you wish to serve the Imperator's will, with all of your heart and soul? ...And do remember, we have someone here who can sense ~lies~..."

The move for the weapon brings a faint gasp to Katarina's lips, though it is not fear or surprise that drives the sound from her, but excitement. The pieces had been placed very carefully, set against the foolish knight come to slay the bishop, only to find that she has been outmanuevered at every turn. What then would she do, when facing her own failures? Succumb to her emotions? Weep for the embarrassment she had brought down upon herself and her house? Lash out in anger?

The younger officer's hands unclasp from behind her to fall down at her sides, the fingers of her metal gauntlets moving in a slow pattern to the sound of a song that only she can hear. The time for talking would soon be over. The cards have been shown, the dice rolled, and Tsubaki's bluff called. Next would come the clash of strings and the resounding of the horns as a battle march blossomed within the small room.

Katarina's expression becomes something dark and eager, her eyes shining with a faint hungry gleam for the promise of pain and bloodshed that would bring the sweet music of the spheres once more into crystal clarity, the purest sound of raw joy and ecstacy that was forged only in the fires of destruction. Her hands flex as the blade of the Izayoi is thrust forward, magic swelling within her palms, preparing to bring forth the killing blades that she wielded in the name of the Imperator.

And yet, she is stopped. Hazama's lifted hand gesture freezes her in place for a moment as she stares in confusion. For a moment, she considers asking him why he is holding her back but then that would make her little better than the woman before her. Clenching her fingers into fists, Katarina lets out a soft almost inaudible hiss of annoyance but takes a step back to give the commander room with which to deal with the situation as he pleases, glaring daggers at Tsubaki from the side.

That hand trembles on the grip of the blade, a light rattling noise in her own ears the dam burst of emotion continues. Anger, sadness, envy, and fear. All those subconcious dark thoughts twisting Tsubaki's face, and all in front of one of the other Duodecim.

As Hazama's words worm their way into her head her grip tenses, her body trembling. He was right, she had overstepped her role. One that had felt a punishment for her loyalty. But had she been so truely loyal? Now was that doubt in her prior convictions questioned. Those blue eyes blinking, was Izayoi already beginning to take her light? The world was blurring... No it was....she could feel the hot tears beginning to run down her cheeks as that final question is asked.
"Yes. I want...I want to serve the Imperator with everything I am. I...I want to be not her wings...but her spear at the enemies throat!"

Though she is still glaring, Katarina's eyes narrow as the heart-felt words and tears spill freely. After a long moment, she relaxes and exhales sharply, the anger fading to mere disappointment.

"She speaks the truth, sir."

"...you're wrong." Hazama says towards Katarina, then.

A hand reaches out to grasp Tsubaki by the mask, and force her to turn towards him. In the same motion, he makes to pull it off. "She IS lying. Although I'm not sure she's aware of it. You want justice, Tsubaki Yayoi. Justice in this cold, cruel, unfair world. That is the truth. But that is not all you desire, is it? You want to make your family proud. You wish to show them that they were not wrong to entrust Izayoi with you. And you do not want to rot in the Garbage Disposal Troops. You did nothing wrong. You aced your classes. You are the head of a respected Duodecim house. So why are you here?"

He moves to lean closer, and whisper into her ear. "Speak your mind, First Lieutenant. There is no shame in venting injustice..."

Katarina recoils as if slapped upon being informed, matter-of-factly, that she is mistaken. How could that even be possible? The Music Box revealed only the truth of that which lay within an individual's soul. And even as much as she wants to rip into the woman, it is obvious that Tsubaki has been broken by the onslaught of abuse. Does she possess some power that has of yet been kept secret?

Biting back her initial annoyance at being corrected, she watches to see precisely what Hazama means and only once he has laid out his own views on the matter does she start to understand. She wasn't wrong - not exactly. The music had been very clear that Tsubaki wanted to serve the Imperator and repent for her mistakes. However, it was the motivation behind that claim that she had been unable to ferret out - a deep rooted feeling of resentment and self-loathing that is entirely alien to Katarina's mind.

Everything that she has she had earned with the effort, skill, and grace expected of her lineage.Perhaps if she had done all that was expected of her only to end up cast aside in some menial and undesirable role she might have more sympathy for the woman. As it is, she merely watches, waiting to hear what grievances she chose to get off her chest.

What was this? Tsubaki tenses as that hand pulls the mask away, revealing her shameful state. Her eyes widening as he speaks. What more could he want of her? Had Katerina's confirmation not been enough? Always more tests, more demands, why must everything be a game?
THe hand not gripping the sword hilt presses into the desk. Why must this shaming continue? There's a choked sound and she tries to hold back her sobs, even as she finds herself spilling out her guts.
"Jin was taken from me...N-Noel stole him from me...M-Makoto just coddles me..." why was she saying this? Why? Would excising all these demons really save her?

"I've killed so many of our own, enemies within, and I am given a pittance! I am surrendering my light for the Imperator and I have NOTHING! NOTHING BUT DILLUSIONS!" SHe releases the blade and attempts to clutch onto Hazama's jacket as she screams.

"When will I be rewarded!? Why is it not enough!? Am I not allowed to have some happiness again?" her rage was beginning to peeter out, her sadness, it was all so much, and why was it this man who had been the one to draw all this out of her? Tsubaki Yayoi sank to her knees, trembling.

"No. You don't have nothing." Hazama says, reaching up and placing a hand atop his hat.

Slowly he takes it off, and immediate Katarina will begin hearing something. Deep, cold, terrifying notes. Like razors on taut wire, that which is played before a great monster is seen. Before the innocents die. Before all light and good in the world is extinguished, in a pyrric ending. Golden eyes slit open once more, and the hat is placed on the desk.

"You have the Imperator. Don't you?" His hands move to press on either side of Tsubaki's face, and tilt it up to meet those serpent's eyes. There is something darkly entrancing about them, a spell within to capture her in rapture, as her soul and emotions are bared and vulnerable. The horrific orchestra of a second presence builds louder, green energy shimmering around his form to cast the room in a wicked emerald hue as he attempts to entrance the hapless bearer of Izayoi.

"Follow the Imperator's will. Tsubaki Yayoi. Do so, and all injustice will be burned away. All of it in this world, until only cinders remain. You wan't that?" A hissing rattle seems to echo around, like hidden serpents in deepening shadows. The door is stuck fast, a shimmering barrier sealing the room as Hazama's hair begins to slowly invert.

"Don't you...?!"

The atmosphere in the room changes so fast that it sends a chill down the snowy-haired girl's spine, her skin suddenly crawling as if the air itself has become uncomfortable to stand in. She watches with a growing sense of dread as Hazama sheds his hat and with it the veil that had kept her from sensing the music of his soul.

Squealing strings and ugly blares of warped instruments echoed through her mind, a sound more horrific than even the usual corruption that had stained the once pristine melody of the world as the grimoire had taken root in her soul and turned the darkest parts of her hidden heart into a gnawing madness that she had to fight to conceal every waking moment of the day. It is a cacophany of raw chaos and seething hate, a maelstrom of emotion and sound like nails upon her brain, eclipsing even the darkness of her own tormented soul.

And it is... beautiful, in it's own dark and demented way.

Katarina's eyes widen as she takes in the true form of the man before her through the magic of the Music Box, her voice stolen away by the sheer power of his presence magnified to terrible heights by the direct window to his vile soul. She can do naught but tremble and watch as the serpent bares his fangs upon the wounded creature, frozen in place by the haunting melody that whirls around in the room like the wailing of countless tormented souls.

For the first time a question that she should have asked at the start of this mess comes to the fore, squeezing through the pressure of the music to dance at the front of her mind: Just what the hell is going on here?

It's strange, it almost feels like everything about her is numb. She can't hear that music, but what she sees before her as Hazama approaches would once have drawn resistance, but now? Now can only tremble as those hands take hold of her head. Her blue eys locking with those golden ones. And her gaze seems to go distant as it's locked into place. What was happening? Her mouth moving on it's own.



A moment later, a green serpent slowly slithers out of his mouth, made of pure energy. It hisses and rattles, before striking out to impact Tsubaki between the eyes. Slowly it would worm within, burrowing into her very mind, wrapping it in countless coils before slowly merging with her very soul, until it is almost impossible to percieve. A seed; it remembers all of her current rage, her current frustration, all of it. A dormant seed, a Mind Eater planted in fertile soil.

Then he lets go. "First Lieutenant Tsubaki Yayoi. Well done presenting this information from Ragna the Bloodedge. Now... find him again." He pulls out a small green gem, a simple Ars Magus. He takes his hat, and places it back atop his head as green hair settles back down. Instantly the music stops, right in the midst of a crescendo. Deathly silence.

"You do not need to win. Merely press this to his body at some point in the fight. Intelligence will take care of the rest." He shifts to press his fist to his chest, and performs the salute. Tsubaki's mind has been adjusted, slightly. She confronted Hazama, but he proved there was another individual, this Yuuki Terumi, was the real culprit. And Ragna's crimes remain, unpunished.

"You... First Lieutenant Shimotsuki... stay here so we can finish our meeting~"

That sudden abrupt silence as the music is cut short is almost worst than its presence. Katarina swallows hard as a cold sweat runs down her back, her body shivering in the wake of the paralyzing beauty of that deathly dirge. It was not the crystal melodic harmony of the world in true balance to which she had become so addicted; infact, it could perhaps be described as its exact opposite, a jumble of pure chaos and discord, yet no less entracing for its divine nature. Its withdrawal left her feeling as empty as the World-Song.

Tsubaki's orders are observed in silence. It isn't until her name is spoken aloud that she gives a start and realizes that she has been holding her breath without even realizing. Katarina inhales sharply, time seeming to slow down for that brief instant as she considers her response. She has no idea what just happened, no idea what is going on here. Had she just witnessed some crime? Was Izayoi right to accuse the commander of misdeeds? And even if she was, did she have the full story?

In the end, it is the Imperator's seal that decides her course. Even if this man was somehow doing something wrong by normal standards, the idea that he could fool the most powerful woman in the state was impossible to consider. Her will was law, no matter what other pieces of paper or regulations might say. Pulling her scattered wits together, the lieutenant stands up straight and gives a sharp salute, fist thumping a little harder than necessary against her chest, her voice steady and confident once more.

"Yes, sir!"

A part of Tsubaki is screaming inside to run, but something keeps her in place, watching the snake as it issues forth from the Captain. Before it strikes between her eyes, letting out a gargled sound of panic as her head is knocked back, eyes wide with shock, glowing red for a few moments before dulling back to that vivid blue. Tsubaki remaining on her knees, staring upwards as the spell does it's work.

After a moment Tsubaki's body slumps forwards and she's blinking, looking up to Hazama as he presents her with the Ars Magus. Standing once more she brings her fist to her chest. "Yes Captain Hazama." The Izayoi's blade vanishing in a shimmer of light as she turns to the other Lieutenant and nods, "Forgive my intrusion Lieutenant." Tsubaki Yayoi placed back on the righteous path she had strayed from, seeking out the target her sword was meant for. She reached over to retrieve her mask before she turned to leave the office.

The photos are carefully taken one by one, placed back in the folders, then most of the assembled intelligence is carefully placed into one of the filing cabinets. Finding his clothing a little disheveled, Hazama adjusts his tie and hat, before lifting up his chin to smile towards Katarina. Having seen something of his true face, how well of an act this mask is might be far more apparent. "I'm sure you have a lot of questions, First Lieutenant. Why don't we start off with you asking them? Get them out of the way, so to speak~" He scratches at his throat, where disturbingly clean white gauze is still wrapped tightly around his supposed wounds from Ragna the Bloodedge. "But *do* make them good ones. Consider this an interview..."

The young officer watches in silence, much as she has done throughout this strange meeting. The pictures are put away including the one of the man with the spikey green hair which now has a great deal more relevance to the discussion. That Hazama is so casual about what she just saw, as evidenced by the way he takes the time to tidy up the place, tells her two very important things.

First, that he isn't worried about any sort of threat she might pose, should she at some point decide that he is infact a danger to the organization. For someone who is notible for lacking any sort of in-depth combat training, atleast on offical records, this indicates to her that his true capabilities are meant to be a secret. Upon reflection this is not so hard to swallow, considering his position and occupation, and after what she's seen here, she can understand why such a thing would be kept quiet. It raises a lot of uncomfortable questions - questions which she now has to ask.

Second, is that he is very confident that she won't be able to expose him for what he is or reveal the events that transpired here. That could be because he can simply do to her what he did to Tsubaki, altering her memories and perhaps even her thoughts in some insidious manner should she fail to prove herself trustworthy. Or he could simply kill her. With the Bloodedge and Gears running rampant in the city it wouldn't be difficult to stage some sort of unfortunate fatal encounter. The way he skillfully manipulated the evidence here today had proven his ability to make reality twist to suit his needs.

Katarina meets the colonel's plastic smile with one of her own, the corner of her lips twisting up slightly on one side in a manner that she hopes looks confident. So it is to be a test that decides her fate, is it? Very well. She'd made a name for herself thanks to her wit and dedication, acing every one of the Academy's many trials. It wasn't just the weight of her name that had gotten her promoted a full two years ahead of the other cadets. She is smart, talented, and more importantly astute; and if she needs to prove it again then so be it.

"Hmph. As you wish, sir. I suppose the most pressing question that comes to mind, considering all that has transpired here, is whether or not Lieutenant Izayoi was correct in her assessment of the situation."

Her voice, as always, is soft in its tone but by virtue of her control over the sound waves it projects as if she were standing right beside the man, speaking directly into his ear, granting her words a more robust timbre. She meets the man's heavily-lidded gaze with her own bright red eyes, a faint glint of intrigue reflecting within them.

"/Were/ you the one who assaulted Lieutenant Vermillion and Ragna the Bloodedge?"

Hazama simply watches, seeming somehow expectant. Warm, friendly, like some uncanny valley of someone who's grown so good at faking being human that they cause a feeling like nails across a chalkboard. Again, amidst the ambient noise of Katarina's power, the regular ticking of the clock comes forth. To her incredibly adept hearing, she'd likely begin to notice Hazama is... lacking some things. Although he seems to breathe, there's no apparent heartbeat. No sound of blood in his veins. It's as if he's some kind of empty puppet, which might have much to do with why her unique abilities do not work. She's no mage, unable to see any proper methods of barring her ability, but the fact that his lungs are audible makes that unlikely.

"Really? That's the first question you ask? I expected better." Slight disappointment on his face. "But I suppose that you're at a disadvantage here~ You can hear souls, correct? I don't have one. I'm just an empty shell, you see." He takes off his hat once more. And again his eyes slit open, golden orbs visible as another powerful surge of energy roars into being, again causing that cacophony of noises. Chaos, destruction, anarchy. But the greatest, deepest, richest melody is pure despair.

Hair once more flares upwards as a side effect of the power coursing through him. Magic ripples along the walls, sealing it so it won't be detected by unwanted individuals. His gaze is wild, soul chaotic, but a soul it is. Her powers work on it, if potentially deafening, like she stands before a massive stereo system at full blast while trying to hold a stethoscope.

"Is this better?" His voice has changed. Body language, mannerisms, every nuance indicates that someone else is now wearing Hazama's skin. "Hee... well, I'll answer this question. Boring though it is. No, I did not assault Noel Vermillion. And yes, I ripped Ragna the Bloodedge apart. Next?!"

Within him, she can feel it. The thrums of truth. It's surprisingly clear. There's no deception there. If he's lying, then he has the greatest mastery of his personal spirit she has ever encountered. But that seems contrary to the raging inferno of his being, fiery and untamed like a wildfire desperate to breach the breakzones in a forest fire and consume all...

It takes every bit of willpower she can manage not to physically stagger under the weight of the presence that leaps to fill the deafening silence as Hazama removes his hat, once more unleashing the terrible beast that sleeps within. Despite her efforts, she finds herself closing her eyes tightly and taking a deep ragged breath as the onslaught of wonderful chaos tears at the edges of her supernatural senses with pleasant scratching noises that threaten to overwhelm the personal discipline she'd developed over many years of enduring the grimoire's twisting influence.

Even as she reels, however, her mind is still working to process the information she is given. Hazama's claim not to have a soul is absurd, complete nonsense, and yet she cannot deny the utter lack of sensation that his presence provides when that hat is on his head. Speaking of the hat, she notes that it seems to be some sort of trigger for his strange transformation. Could he truly be a construct? It would seem that if she is to take him at face value on his other claims, she must accept this one as well - for now, atleast.


Katarina fights to get her power under control and after a slow laborious few seconds she manages to force her eyes open once more and return to parade-rest, though her hands clench tightly together behind her back.

"Then... my next question... if you don't have a soul then what... what is this presence that I feel?"

The real question, ofcourse, would be why his mere existence would be able to overwhelm her in such an overt fashion. She'd been close enough to feel the souls of people of great importance since acquiring the power of the Music Box, prestigious instructors of the Academy, famous war veterns, even Hero of Ikaruga himself once or twice. Though each had their own unique melodies to share with her, none of them had come even remotely close to this storm of intense raw energy. It is almost primal in nature, like a storm raging in the confines of a bottle, thundering against the walls of a prison far too small and inadequate to contain such power.

"Who /are/ you?"

"Hazama's just my merry little puppet. A house I live in." the man states, beginning to laugh lightly once more. He seems to be phrasing this purposefully cruel. Hopefully whoever he's inhabiting can't hear, since they clearly have a different if similar personality. "Me...? I'm Yuuki Terumi. A name you don't know. And a name I wouldn't repeat. I have many enemies in this world..." The last sentence is said very pleased, with a contentful sigh. Still, the powerful drumbeats of truth roar out. "But you're still not asking the right questions...! Come, come! I'll give you one last chance, before I rip the thoughts from your head! He said this was an INTERVIEW, didn't he?" Leaning forward, Terumi flicks out a butterfly knife and then sinks it down into the table with a sickening thud, beginning to slowly twist it back and forth as wild eyes stare at Katarina. Like she were prey. All that she wears in armor. Her grimoire, her station, the Librarium, the Duodecim. It means nothing against this man. She has no protection beyond her personal power, and there is no doubt what the outcome would be in a conflict. "And this interview will determine what, if anything, stays in that HEAD of yours...!"

Yuuki Terumi.

He is right, it isn't a name she knows, other than from when Hazama mentioned it earlier during Tsubaki's interrogation. Even with her dutiful studies of the NOL's history books she'd never come across a name like that. Which is quite odd, considering the incredible power that he seemed to wield. If he has many enemies, then who might /they/ be? Other people she's never heard of? Yet more secrets? Just how much of the truth has been kept from her eyes?

She can't help but notice that the man seems to take pride in the claim that he is hated by many. Even within the torrent of chaos that is the song of his soul, she can still pick out the familiar chords of specific emotions. Unfortunately, her focus on this means she gets blasted by the full force of his gleeful delight at the prospect of carving the memories from her mind. She'd seen what he did to Tsubaki. Not something that looked pleasant in any fashion and an outcome she'd like to avoid. Who knows what he might put in her mind?

And then a terrible sickening thought comes to her, one that makes her blood run cold as ice. If this man has such incredible and terrible power that he can alter the minds of those around him, using his 'puppet' to remain hidden in plain sight... could his endorsement by the Imperator be a result of that treacherous magic? It's hard to fathom. The Imperator is the greatest being alive, surrounded by only the most potent of servants. But still...

Swallowing hard, Katarina pulls herself up straight, arms coming down to rest at her side. Her fingers curl inwards towards her palms ever so slightly, bending into the arcane gestures that would summon forth her mystical sabers at a moment's notice. If the answer she received to this question was unsatisfactory then she would have no choice but to commit to the path of resistance. She had swore herself to the Imperator's service, looked up to her as a beacon of inspiration in dark times. She simply cannot abide the thought that this /snake/ had poisoned her.

"Alright then," she says, her voice even softer than before, yet laden with a subtle sinister tone that was not present before. Her eyes narrow upon the knife, lingering for a few moments as if not quite able to move up to meet his predatory gaze, until finally she summons up the courage to lift her chin and stare him directly in the eyes.

"My final question. Does...does the Imperator know what you are? Have you corrupted her Majesty with that... mind-eating magic? Have you tainted her with your poison?!"

Sudden embolded, as if merely speaking the words aloud had sealed her fate, the lieutenant brings up hand, whipping her wrist in a complicated gesture as smoothly as only one who had practiced hundreds of times can manage. A long curved blade appears in her fist and she points it at Terumi, blocking out the maelstrom of his presence from her mind through the power of her own righteous outrage.

"Answer me!"

"..." Terumi just sits there in his chair, leaning back heavily. Both feet heft up to rest on the table, arms crossing before his chest. Green hair continues to hiss upwards from the energy; naturally it would lay flat, but he is such a potent font of power that he seems constantly surrounded by a fierce wind. The very leather of his chair seems to be burning from the sustained proximity. "Ah... you finally ask me an interesting question. Maybe you're not so predictable. After all, it doesn't matter who I am or what I want, if the Imperator doesn't condone it."

The knife is left impaled in the desk, walls continuing to shimmer from the powerful sealing magic that makes this not only private, but also a potential tomb. "I work for the Imperator." he finally says. There's discord in his soul. Some quiet resentment, some unhappiness. But truth. Undeniable truth. "Our goals are one and the same. I'm an incredibly potent ally for her brand of justice. I may not be her favorite pawn, but I am one of four who know her true being. And her true ambition."

Terumi leans forward, grin still feral. "I never lie." Somehow this thrums as true. "I might not say everything, or say it clearly, but I hate such base deception. You are not wrong to follow the Imperator. She wants to change this world, permanently. And this organization is the perfect vehicle for her divine ambition. She is a God, just like me." The latter part might be a little surprising. This odd figure is... like Izanami? Yet he, at least, believes it to be true.

"But this path... hahahaha! Oh, the music you would hear. There will be BLOOD. There will be DEATH. The non-believers, the ignorant, the desperately resisting... all those who deny the Imperator will need removed. I am merely here, to maintain this organization. To prune it like *weeds.* To make sure that the Imperator's true goals can go forward... which is why people like Tsubaki need to be properly managed."

"So tell me this. Does that sound like something you can accept...? I'm not offering it for nothing. If you do as I say... I will grant you an audience with the Imperator herself. And she can speak with you. Then, you can make the ultimate decision on your own!!"

The sword hovers in the air before Terumi, its tip quavering slightly in the unsteady hands of the girl who believes that she might be about to face her demise. She continues to stare, her expression intense and grim, demanding an answer from the man who could simply swat her like a fly.

And when she finally receives it, her entire world changes in an instant.

Katarina's blade slowly dips and then drops towards the ground, her eyes wide with a mixture of disbelief and shock. She reaches out with her magical senses, ignoring the sweet pain that screams through her mind as she exposes herself to Terumi's soul once more, sifting through his words with a fine-toothed comb for any trace of falsehood or deception, only to find the clarion call of truth ringing out clearly at the end of the song.

The Imperator... is a god? Ofcourse, she has known that Izanami, blessed be her name, has been hailed as a beacon of perfection, a model for all to aspire to, divine in purpose and authority. But for that to be more than just metaphor meant... what? What does this mean for her? Does it matter at all what she thinks? Would this new personal revelation have any bearing on the world at all? And yet, like everything else she has been told by Terumi, the irrefutable sound of the truth behind it hangs in the air.

"Her Majesty is... a god?"

If that is true then there could be little greater calling other than to throw herself in utter devotion to the woman who had already shaped her life so much without even knowing it. Katarina loved the Imperator more than her own mother. She is an ideal, a light for those lost in the darkness... a god. And yet, a god that would employ a creature like Terumi to do her bidding. Her gaze shifts away from the point in empty space where she had been staring over to the face of the man, no, the god that sat casually in the large chair, grinning like some kind of hungry hyena. Her skin crawled underneath that wild stare but somehow knowing that he was on the side of the Imperator made her less afraid of him.

New words are spoken to her, prophecies of the destruction that her choice would herald, should she decide to walk the path as a discipline enlightened with this new knowledge. Blood. Death. Destruction. For a moment, she is silent, frozen with the magnitude of the choice. And then she started to laugh.

Like the rest of her vocalizations, it begins as a soft thing, hardly more than a faint reverb within her chest. The faint shudder of her shoulders and the quiet choking sound might even be mistaken for sobs at first. Then, a steady swell in power and tone, a crescendo of emotion that spills forth from her in an uncontrollable outpouring of raw emotion, becoming a brief window into her carefully guarded soul.

"Can I accept it?! Hahaha! This is... this is a dream! Haha! Not in my wildest hope could I ever ask for more!"

Her empty hand rises, clutching at her face as her pretty features contort into an expression of the pure madness taken root at her core. Her lips peel back into a wide grin, her eyes wide and staring through the gaps in her mailed fingers. Her laughters die down into a series of soft giggles after a few moments but her manic mask remains.

"The music! I can hear it already! The panic! The wailing! The /screams/! Ahaha, it makes the most beautiful sounds! Please! Please...! I want this! I /need/ it! The Song... I... I can't hear it without the scream! Please! Let me prove myself! Let me show Her what I can do!"

"Oh, yes. She is indeed a god." Terumi responds simply, appearing little affected by the rather awe-struck manners of Katarina. He watches with genuine curiosity; for he, too, can see every fluctuation and flutter of emotion, peer in the mind, understand one's soul. Having become incredibly jaded with an effective eternity between the cracks of reality, it's somewhat interesting to see the pure reaction of a simple mortal to a revelation that means nothing to him.

And his grin becomes far more genuine when Katarina begins to respond.

"Hahahaha...! So there's some mortals in this world I might like!! Fine. I've let you peer through a crack in the looking glass. And I won't take away your sight, girl. I need agents free from the gaze of certain people. You will do nicely. Your first order of business..." A look of utter distaste. "That Black Knight. Kagura. He is one of the most powerful and influential members in all of NOL. And I cannot say he is truly with the Imperator's will. Try to find that out for me, hmm?" She likely knows of him. It's hard not to, when he's the chief of all twelve houses.

"And..." Terumi then holds out his hand, concentrating as he begins to form a powerful series of magical formulae. Liquid seither begins to drip from his palm, slowly forming what seems to be a mask. It gradually takes shape, before becoming a simple white plate. There's no eyeholes on it, and it lacks any ornamentation. "If you get any 'urges'... wear this. It will hide your soul. As long as you do not get caught... it shouldn't be traced back to you. We all need to let loose now and again, don't we?!"

The mask is flicked over to Katarina, before Terumi sighs and grasps his hat. "Well. The Imperator's Will be done. I'm a busy man. Come back to me when you have something useful on the pompous womanizing knight. Impress me enough... and you can visit the Imperator herself. Just like I promised."

A moment later, and the hat's popped on his head. Like a switch, he's the cool, collected Hazama once more. And, compared to Terumi, far more unreadable. "Well, scurry off, then. First Lieutenant~"

Katarina soul, repressed for so long, seems to positively sing at being allowed into the light. Her usual soft voice and reserved demeanor vanishes as she opines her desire to be cut loose so that she might indulge in the dark business of suffering and destruction. And, for once, it seems like she might have the chance to do just that.

Her mind safe from the oily grasps of Terumi's magic, the girl struggles to contain herself once more, forcing her crazed grin into something closer to a wild smirk, though the bright and hungry twinge of madness remains visible in her eyes as she listens intently to the orders she must carry out.

"Kagura Mutsuki."

She says the name with evident disgust. Oh she knows of him, alright. There are few who haven't heard of his philandering ways, particularly among the nobility, where such gossip flows free and fast. That such an uncouth individual could hold such rank has always disturbed her. Knowing that he might not truly be a traitor... no, that word isn't adequate any more - knowing that he could be a /heretic/ is somehow pleasing.

"I will do this. You have my word."

The mask is caught in her empty hand and she gazes down upon its blank surface with a curious expression, eyeing it not with suspicion but interest. An artifact that could conceal her soul? And he can simply create such a thing on a whim? Perhaps that claim of godhood is not far-fetched. She clutches it tightly in her fingers, her smirk flashing a show of teeth again for an instant.

"Yes... we most certainly do!"

The mask vanishes into her greatcoat and with another flick of her wrist the saber she is holding vanishes once more into the aether even as she brings that hand up to offer a sharp salute to the once more be-hatted Hazama. Her own mask of demure calmness slides neatly into place a moment later, all traces of her insanity evaporating as neatly as the magical blade.

"By your leave."

Turning on her heels, Katarina stalks to the door and slips out into the hallway, making her way through the winding building and down the stairs to the lone exit below. The guard gives her another nod as she steps out into the street and into her car, the small vehicle disappearing down the road to carry her back to the makeshift headquarters currently acting as NOL's command structure within Southtown. Soon enough there would be a proper facility constructed here and though she has always taken her duty as one of the chief engineers in charge of such projects seriously, she is filled with a new sort of resolve that would see this base become her grandest work yet.

"For Her glory."

There's a bit of a laugh from Hazama at this, before he shifts to sit up straight. He places his fist over his heart, and then intones solemnly, "Dispatched, in mankind's darkest hour. We are the knights of the blue flame! For the glory of the Imperator." His hat is not removed, which might not be surprising if it somehow acts as a toggle between the pair's personality. Once the woman finally leaves, he flips open the last of the manilla folders, pictures of Katarina settled within. He dangles the butterfly knife between his fingertips, before sinking it down upon one of them. "Well, then. The chess board is getting more and more interesting. That's two pieces for us. I can only wonder how my dear, sweet enemies are faring for the coming war...~"

Log created on 15:25:42 12/13/2017 by Terumi, and last modified on 18:43:45 12/20/2017.