Description: Unable to resist the lure of the strange and terrible energy scar left behind by some unknown explosion near the edge of Southtown, Sector Seven's head researcher herself takes to the field in an effort to unravel this mystery - only to find herself trapped with the one person in the world she's been waiting her entire life to meet. It goes about as well as expected.
The Black Scar.
That is the name many are using to reference the strange, perfectly circular wound on the ground. It is perhaps a mile in all, with the center overlapping a sizeable mountain. Despite such, it seems the heavy stone was no barrier to whatever caused it. The ground is overall shockingly level, beyond piles of ruined matter and great burning green pyres. Even from a long distance away, it exudes energy readings that are decaying slowly. At the current rate, it might be decades before there's any progress if left alone.
Many mundane scientific groups have taken interest in it, cordoning off the area and setting up a basic line to keep curious people away. Such is little barrier to the likes of Sector Seven, and many of the more simple investigations are disturbing. There's a nearly perfect line, dividing what is destroyed and what remains. Some places have still-upright trees, the trunks shaved away as if an infinitely sharp razor swept past. The aura of the scar is doing a number on vegetation and animal life, causing creeping death to go out in all directions. Estimations put it that all life might no longer be able to grow for another five miles more, more or less, although the full effect of that may be some months away.
The matter is all uniform. Ash, of some sort. Yet everything doesn't create the same ash like this. Rock, dirt, trees, all of it has been reduced to the same silty sediment that extends a few meters beneath the area of effect. Kokonoe's analysis is sufficiently brilliant enough to confirm...
There IS no difference. Everything was reduced to this state. A state that's best described as 'utterly destroyed'. It is useless. It has no energy. No reactivity. As if the very energy and lifeforce of creation was vaporized, and the tangible evidence of nothingness was left behind. Even her experimental prowess might be unable to duplicate it. This is a unique destructive force... something divine. The power of a god, or other such equivalent creature, that breaks the laws of reality.
More troublesome is that the wound is seeping dimensionally. It seems that reality itself, quite literally, was damaged. Although one can teleport in, for hundreds of meters past the scar, teleportation out fails. Ars Magus and standard magic are both negatively affected, as is traditional efforts to gather chi. Proper measurements will require setting up many beacons along the outskirts, and then a final one in the center, to attempt and observe the phenomenon from 'farther out'; it seems like it might somehow be almost affecting the Boundary.
Who could have done it? Not humans. Not those who made the Gears. This... was something else. But without this final test, answers are going to be elusive...
The green flames are less curious and more curious all at once. They are whatever caused the destruction in the first place. Divine fire. Continuing to seethe, and threatening to consume anything that interacts with it into the same black ash as the surrounding. If not quenched in some manner, it may burn until the end of creation. Luckily, it does not seem to spread...
At the far outskirts of the devastated land, Kokonoe watches the blighted circle of ruined earth with a cold stare, no outwards signs of her displeasure evident from a casual glance at the cat-woman's impassive face. Despite this the work site around her is filled with people who seem to be working with a purpose, constantly casting furtive glances in her direction as they unpack and move various pieces of expensive and complicated equipment out of a handful of large trucks. Her twin tails, while often as lazy and restrained as their owner, twitch back and forth in near constant motion as she surveys the area, each sharp flick sending fresh motivation to the gaggle of workers scurrying about as if they were the lashes of a particularly unforgiving taskmaster.
The initial readings of the area have proven both interesting and disturbing, a combination that she had quickly grown used to upon beginning her long career of studying the unique energies of the Boundary. Almost every experiment seems to bring with it some new possibility and that meant new ways to abuse it by the idiots who seem to think that casually tampering with the very essence of reality is a quick way to gain power. In most cases, such fools tended to sort themselves out as the Boundary was as deadly to those who wished to wield it as those they would turn it against, but there are atleast a few people capable of creating the sort of abominations that might cause this kind of wound on existence. She isn't particularly keen on dealing with any of them.
By contrast, the existence of this scar actually pleased her in a few ways because it gave her some new insights that she did not have before. Whatever had caused this damage was something far beyond the scale of anything that has thusfar been deployed and merely knowing that this kind of destruction is possible means that she might be able to devise some means of countering it; knowing is half the battle and all that. More importantly, the fact that this energy somehow prevents teleportation is something that she finds particularly juicy. Despite her distaste for the stuff, Kokonoe is a practical woman and her skill with sorcery has not been neglected over the years, a fact which has paid off on more than one occassion in her life. Yet, teleportation magic is one of the few things that even her own genius has yet to devise a counter to.
Her musing on the potential applications of her finds here is interrupted as one of the lab-coat wearing men jogs up to her side, his face somewhat red from exertion and the obvious signs of sweat soaking his clothes. Kokonoe's tails twitch irritably again but she maintains her mask of nonchalant calm as she turns to regard the man, her eyebrows quirking upwards in silent askance regarding his presence. The man hesistates only for a moment at this before making a gesture towards a nearby piece of machinery.
"The final sensors are being put into place now, as you asked. We can begin the initial scans once they've been calibrated."
A thoughtful noise rumbles in her chest but after a moment she nods, reaching up to grasp the thin white stick protruding from her lips with two fingers and removes the large cat-earred sucker from her mouth to speak.
"Good. Tell the others to clear out once they're finished, I'll handle the calibrations myself. With this much interference I want to make sure the readings are clear."
'And I don't trust you idiots to do it right,' comes the unspoken implication behind her request. The lab assistant seems to grasp this immediately but says nothing on the matter, merely nodding and rushing off to deliver her message. Kokonoe watches him leave with a faint frown but turns her attention back to the energy field for the next couple of minutes before finally heading towards the first sensor herself, buzzing noisly across the grassy terrain on her custom segway.
A pair of lab technicians turn to stare at her in surprise as she wheels into range of the thing, a large circular device mounted on four stilt-like legs. A couple dozen wires of various shapes and colors protrude from its surface like umbilical cords, feeding it power while taking the information it receives in exchange. The pair of techs each hold a large tablet, a single wire connecting them to the sensor which feeds data onto the screens in a constant steady stream.
"Professor? Why are you...?"
Kokonoe cuts the woman off with a frown, glaring at her. "What the hell are you doing? Didn't I tell you to clear out?"
"What? You were serious about doing the calibrations yourself? It'll take hours to align that many sensors alone!"
"Then I guess someone better go put some godamn coffee on, hadn't they?!" she responds, half shouting in annoyance. The assistants recoil at this as if slapped, unhappy with being demoted to gopher duty, but after sharing a quick look neither of them come to the conclusion that arguing is going to provide favorable results. They wander off towards the camp at a sulking pace, leaving her alone with the device.
Exhaling sharply, Kokonoe ignores the pair of dolts and turns her attention to the sensor, plopping down into a seated position on the large metal case which had previously contained the various components before they were assembled. She gathers up the two tablets and rests one on each leg as she folds them into the lotus position, her long nailed fingers already beginning to dance across their transparent holographic surfaces as she attempts to sort out the weirdness of the local energy readings from what would normally be present.
"Time for another all-nighter..."
Interesting this scar is, but it was not created by magic. It stands a step beyond the realm that Kokonoe dabbles, in the domain of the creators. In this case, the one who unmakes. Susano'o's energy, the ultimate weapon manifest that can remove anything that the Master Unit creates. The shell of it may exist on Hakumen, but he is little more than a man wearing the hollow shell of a turtle. Terumi is the core of the Destroyer, it's will, and only he possesses this ability to channel it's true power. Such is not to say Hakumen hasn't managed his own tricks with the wayward god's instrument, but it's not quite to the degree of laying waste to reality in this manner.
Still, divine or not, things that break the rules still INTERACT with the rules. From what Kokonoe is beginning to understand, this power has done something strange. As if each individual mote of energy bloomed outwards until it popped. The ash, if one wished to go the route of the laymen, is like the kernals left over. If a God can do it, then it can be done. It's as simple as that, and only a manner of 'how' and, depending on the scope of time, 'when'. The emanations from the scar continue to warble energy nearby, like light before heat on a burning desert road, and it makes traditional attempts to trace a line into the Boundary and utilize it to rebound to another point incredibly difficult. After all, even the illustrious Rachel Alucard had to retreat a distance away to return home. For Kokonoe, her own teleportation is scrambled. She could end up in the atmosphere, underground, inside a tree, or in another continent. She can devise a way to counter it, but it would take time. Still, she at least is not permanently barred from operating in this aura. Which means if the user did it again, she'd not need to be locked in here...
Those who walk in the scar, leaving heavy footprints behind, would complain of feeling weak and lethargic. Indeed, it's damaging to the soul to be within it. Luckily, it would be confirmed that this is not from exposure to the Boundary. It seems those green flames will erode away the very life of those nearby. The sensors won't last forever... but they should last long enough.
When the network finally activates, Kokonoe is given a three-dimensional view. Indeed, as she suspected, it's a perfect half-sphere. She can calculate precisely the center of it. By locating each of the flames, they seem to align in interesting ways, as if some force scoured the area repeatedly, some more intense than others. And, like she suspected -- and a major cause of the difficulty with teleportation -- reality itself was injured. The laws of physics are slightly 'off' inside. Minorly, but it should be impossible. Even though such a word is fairly meaningless to the scientist. Time and space don't behave exactly as they should, and the damage has extended to adjacent dimensions. The 'wall' between here and the Boundary as well is much thinner... It is likely that a cauldron could be forged here, if someone had a mind. A large one. Might this be one of the methods of creating them? A powerful blow so mighty it rends open a hole between this realm and that of the infinite void?
Unsurprisingly, the disturbances are strongest at the epicenter, but even at the strangely perfect edge, they remain strong. The life essence of the planet itself was scarred. And, she's finally concluded... beneath it all, and within the flames of the green fire...
It is the same as Susano'o, which Hakumen wears. How? He didn't do this, she'd be almost certain. Although Kokonoe is privy to many mysteries in this multiverse, that Terumi's true identity is the will and soul of that strange suit is not one of them.
Yet then the readings begin to spike. A dimensional disturbance is happening nearby. Someone's arriving...! A perfect black circle slithers into being on the ground, so black it seems devoid of light itself. And then a slender man slowly rises out of it...
Wearing a yellow cloak with sleeves rolled high, clamped with engraved steel, black sigiled hood drawn over his head, Kokonoe would recognize a man she had glimpses of. Whenever she looked at him, even in the past, even in the Boundary, when it should have been impossible... an unnerving feeling he could almost look back at her. Many belts wind about his arms, which are stuffed deep into dress pant pockets, a formerly fine pair of black pants and undershirt disheveled with the tie dangling unknotted before his chest. Green hair is inverted upwards, crackles of green energy the same color as those eternal flames going through him.
"Well, well. If it isn't the baka-neko." he calls out derisively. How her team and any defensive force might respond to this intrusion is questionable. "That's the pleasure of throwing chum into the waters. You never know what sort of little fish might come to nibble on it as well!!" It should be almost impossible to observe here. ...to normal individuals. But if the hypothesis is correct, and somehow Terumi did this damage, both the teleportational disturbance, the weakening, and the inability to 'see' here would all not work on him...
Despite her assistant's protests about the sheer difficulty of the task she had assumed, Kokonoe finishes her calibrations within only a few hours. The first few adjustments had taken up the lion's share of the time and effort but once she had managed to ferret out the source of the distortions by digging into the local Boundary surface and comparing it with the geographical map of the surrounding 'landscape' at the edges of the damage it had been a relatively minor task to figure out what had been twisted where and make the necessary alignments.
Ofcourse, such a thing would have taken almost anyone else days, perhaps weeks, depending on how long it took them to realize that the Boundary itself could be used as a reference so long as one knew the proper framework to Observe it from. That fact did not escape the small army of assistants when she had returned and explained, rather matter-of-factly, how she had accomplished her work so quickly, as if it had been no more troublesome than locating a faulty wire in a light socket or an obvious typo in a piece of simple code.
Once that had been accomplished the real work had begun. Analyzing patterns was always a giant pain in the ass, particularly when she had nothing to act as a starting point. The still smouldering plumes of unnatural fire could be incredibly important or they could be a meaningless byproduct of the damage that had been wrought, tiny bruises on reality left in the wake of someone giving the universe itself an epic titty twister. That meant she had to figure out what the hell the damn things were first.
The first breakthrough came when her staff started to complain of lethargy, particularly those which had been sent into the crater itself. She had immediately ordered a full withdrawal from the scar and had lab rats, the actual animals, not her staff, placed in cages near the flames to see what sort of effect it had on them. When that had proved fatal after only a short time, she had the rats put /in/ the fires, which proved to be fatal after a much shorter period of time. Long story short, 'fire bad' continued to be a good rule of thumb to work with.
Following this thread as well as what she knew about the very small handful of beings who could interact directly with the Boundary, much less damage it in some way, she had compared her notes on the experiments run on Hakumen. It had been a long shot but since none of the other people on her short list had 'volunteered' to let her analyze them yet, it was as good a place to start as any. Imagine her surprise when she found a match.
"What the hell? This doesn't make any sense. Even if he could do this, there's no way that... hmm?"
Sitting behind a makeshift desk of stacked crates, Kokonoe's ears perk up slightly as a small warning begins to beep at her from the pocket of her jacket. Fishing a small phone-like device from the pocket, she peers at it in annoyance, only to rise to her feet a moment later, eyes narrowing behind her small glasses.
"Well, well. It looks like our meddling has bee noticed."
All around the camp the lab workers begin to chatter and shuffle about as their own instruments pick up on the dimensional disturbance, though none of them seem quite aware of what it means. Kokonoe strolls out into the open, silently waiting for whoever their unexpected visitor might be to pop into view with her hands resting lightly in her jacket in a nonchalant fashion.
The scientist's eyes narrow once more as the black circle manifests before her and spits its unpleasant passenger out of the void and into clear view. Several of the nearby staff let out shouts of warning and clear cries of surprise but Kokonoe herself remains motionless save for a clear downward tick of the corners of her mouth as she openly greets the green-haired man with a scornful frown.
Suddenly a whole lot of things about this situation start to become a lot more clear. While she isn't aware of the full nature of her long-time foe, a man who, until this very moment, she had never actually met in person, Terumi's powers had always been a matter of concern. Anyone with the strength to survive in the Boundary for such a long time was a force to be reckoned with. Anyone with the power to kill her mother, the most powerful Mage to ever live, was something she did not plan to underestimate. Now that it seems he might be responsible for this phenomenon as well, his threat rating gets a few more points tacked on.
"Barely out of your cage and you're already going around mucking the place up. This is why you don't get to go for walks any more."
"Ooh? That's a fair amount of resentment you have towards me. For a man you've never personally met, on this side of the line. But if we're talking leashes, a beast like you is more fitting to wear a collar. Or that man you've got frozen on tap?" Terumi coos, almost playfully. But his attention begins to shift, towards the scurrying figures of the researchers. Kokonoe would see it in his eyes. The look of a predator, one attracted to fear and movement. He could kill them all. He might. And Kokonoe lacks the preparations to do much about it. Alas, her forte is hardly in the field of civil discourse, so that threat hangs like a guillotine over the air. Ultimately, whether they live or die will have little effect on what comes next between the pair, with the exception of Kokonoe's mood.
"Yes, yes. I made a bit of a mess, here. It felt good to stretch my arms out, though... it's a message, you see." His eyes are still everywhere but the two-tailed girl, lazily flicking out one of his balisongs and beginning to dance it, like someone with a twitchy nervous habit. "To my enemies in this realm... that Terumi's back in action, and their pathetic attempts to keep me down didn't work... and such..."
Like a poised cat, he's going to move any moment. Kokonoe can try to distract him, let it happen, or directly interfere. Either way, the first course of this interaction... trying to handle the whims of a sadistic psychopath.
Kokonoe's response to the implied threat is a dismissive snort, an indication that she is clearly unimpressed with his attempt to show off. While she might not know precisely how he pulled it of just yet, he had shown one of the cards in his hand for no reason other than to inspire fear. Clearly, he was not aware of the sort of people he had managed to piss off over the years. Or perhaps it was not aimed at them but rather the people who are not quite as imbued with the knowledge that they might actually stand a chance of surviving an encounter with someone as powerful as this man.
Her eyes follow his gaze to the clusters of researchers and she lets out a mental curse. With Tager occupied elsewhere, she has little in the way of reliable defenses that she can call upon. Even her own usual back-up plan of simply teleporting out would prove extraordinarily risky in this situation, thanks to whatever it was Terumi had done to the place. Baiting the hook, indeed - and she'd swallowed it completely.
"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to find you're behind this," Kokonoe quips, popping the sucker from her mouth nosily. "It has all the hallmarks of someone severely compensating for something. You could have left a scar like this the size of a quarter and I'd have noticed it eventually. But no, you had to go and prove how big and scary you are by shitting all over the place."
Her tails flop lazily to the side as she shifts her posture, one hand withdrawing from the pocket of her to rest on her hip like a disappointed teacher scolding an unruly student. If his little knife-show is of any concern to her, she shows no signs of it, and he would likely know instictively that her anger towards him is quickly bleeding off into something much less useful - contempt.
"Well, I hope you've enjoyed your fun. Because I'm going to stick you right back in that prison and let you rot in obscurity for a thousand more years."
Terumi seems to not be paying much attention to the words from Kokonoe, until the latter one. Then his golden eyes snap back to her, and his grin spreads wider. "Oh? Well. That answered the primary question I had coming here, then..."
Green aura suddenly burns around Terumi, and his left eye suddenly flares and seems to burst. A great wound pours out powerful emerald essence, cracks running across his cheeks as the very vessel of Hazama burns open by the power he exposes. His hands thrust upwards, and the nearest great gouts of divine flame in the black scar past Kokonoe suddenly spiral upwards. This is not magic. No. He is directly manipulating this destructive energy through will.
It splints into four tornado-like spirals, impacting the ground and searing a circle. A few of the researchers got past, but not all of them. In a split second, the otherworldly flames have entombed the group about thirty meters out. Her machinery goes even more haywire at these new readings, and even she would feel a sudden chill in body and soul. It's not hot. It's cold; like a sharp knife sinking into the flesh.
"I thought you were a reasonable woman. But it seems you've taken more after Valkenhayn. All bark and no bite, they say!! You're a WILD CARD, Kokonoe! You might be harmless... but shuffle the deck enough times, deal enough hands, and you just might create a royal flush, hmm?!" Too long in this constrained area, and the researchers will begin to die. No, not die. It's worse than that. If there is an afterlife, some grand place human souls go to in the afterlife, it will deny them that. These fires grant only oblivion to those who succumb. As the prodigy of Konoe and Jubei, the twin-tailed girl is in no danger for quite some time, but watching her associates collapse to the ground and sizzle to black ash one by one is poor consolation. Then again, Rachel had warned her the Destroyer would try to antagonize her.
"I came to speak with you because I LIKE you. We're not so different, you and I. Willing to do anything for our ambitions. And believe it or not... I'm not a fan of magic either. You should know the Terumi clan; ancient sealers who butted heads with the Mage Guild in bygones past!! I suppose my first question is simple..."
"Why do you hate me, young cat?" Well, he's one of the few beings ancient enough to say that with a straight face. "Is it because I killed the mommy you never knew? Or because I devoured your father's memories of you, and you've spent decades abandoned in this world without him even knowing his beloved spawn was left alone?"
Terumi suddenly blinks, and moves a hand to cover his mouth. "Ah...! You didn't know that, did you? Hahahaha!! Here, the script is a LITTLE different. Oh, I still threw Konoe in the Boundary... but that damn cat... after hiding you away in an attempt to keep you from me, I ripped out almost every last memory he had. I left just enough inside his head to properly play the part of an absentee father... well, not that it took much coaxing. He sure left you alone just fine without my intervention elsewhere, didn't he?!"
The divine fires burn more intensely. The grass beneath, already wilting, blackens and dies in a visibly short span of time...
Kokonoe's head swivels as she turns slightly to watch the calamity unfold behind her, her expression unchanging and impassive even as the maelstrom of killing energy surrounds the majority of her subordinates. Even to an accomplished sorcerer such as herself that power remains alien and strange, the mere attempt to feel it out with her magical senses filling her with a sudden internal numbness as if she had submerged her very soul in frigid water. A rather unpleasant experience to say the least.
She focuses on that sensation, letting the numbness spread throughout her in the hopes that it might dull the fires of anger she already feels welling up inside. Kokonoe is a harsh woman to work for, a terrible slave driver and an unreasonable perfectionist with a foul mouth and a short temper - but despite her rough edges she actually cares about the people that work for her a great deal. Unfortunately, she's also ruthless enough to sacrifice them if necessary; a strange pair of values to hold.
She visibily blanches at the idea of being 'liked' by the twisted creature, the first sign of any emotion other than pointed disinterest, but it is fleeting at best. The idea that they are anything alike is ludicrous. Sure, she's willing to go alot further than most people, unconstrained by the common bonds of petty morality based on the primitive social mores humanity has established over thousands of years of ignorance and staunch refusal to adapt to new information, but even she has limits that are not to be crossed. Or perhaps her ambitions are simply less selfish.
Kokonoe's frown tightens slightly at the mention of her mother. While she is hardly so obsessed over the fact that she grew up without ever meeting the woman that she could be considered to have 'issues', the simple truth is that Terumi robbed her of the chance to do so. When she was young that might have been enough to set her off but at this point in her life she's come to terms with that and turned those fires of indignation into a cold fuel for her determination to deliver justice to the one responsible.
That second statement, however, drives a fresh nail into the cold rock that she had replaced her heart with. The scientist's eyes widen at this and for once she gives Terumi the reaction he has been hoping for, shock clearly visible on her face. Her delving into the Boundary had shown Kokonoe many things, countless possibilities and things that might have been. She had seen countless worlds where her father had made the difficult choice to abandon her in a misguided belief that it would offer her some protection from his enemies, leaving her in the hands of the very people who wished his demise in order to throw them off the trail. It had still been painful for her to see but atleast there he had reasons to leave her all alone, unlike the world she currently existed in.
And now she learns that it could have been different? This strange world in which so many disparate elements had been cobbled together had offered her an opportunity that failed to manifest in so many other places, an opportunity that she had not even been aware of. It is impossible to long for something that one does not even know exists but the revelation of that missed possibility is like salt in an old wound which has just been torn open anew.
Kokonoe's fists clench tightly, her nails digging into the soft flesh until tiny trickles of blood begin to drip down her fingers. Her teeth clench together tightly and she snarls at Terumi, fangs bared in a sudden burst of uncontrollable outrage and aggression, her tails becoming stiff and bristly like pink exclamation points.
"You...! What did you just say?!"
The fires continue to rage around. Minutes, perhaps. Her subordinates have moved to huddling in the center, as far from it as they can. But the ground is seething, smoke beginning to rise, as the things within begin to turn into the same devoid black ash as the scar. It is not damaging reality as it did, beyond the intense disruptions, but the destructive force is no less meaningful. Of course, Kokonoe has her gamble. That with the data thus far, she can send herself somewhere likely not to be fatal. That is to condemn those who took the risk to following her to something worse than death. She can possibly save someone lost to the Boundary. Arakune still exists, because of that belief. But she cannot save someone who no longer exists. Those destroyed by Susano'o's power will no longer even manifest in the Boundary... cursing them to ever-fading memories that will never again see the light of day.
"You heard what I said." Terumi responds, simply. His green eye continues to seethe, as he maintains the divine power around him. But it seems to be weakening him; he doesn't appear able to move properly. He is only cracking open the lid of the power within him, and after expending the Black Susano'o, he could not sheathe it fully around him right now even if he wished it...
That means two things. That the damning fires seem linked to concentration, and... the subtle readings show something else. Terumi is physically here. To manipulate the fires, he had to become tangible.
"But don't be a bitter fool. Look where you stand. You are a create almost breaching on the works of God. Your will, your drive, all of this is thanks to ME!! If I did not slay your mother, if I did not defile your father... you would have lived a quiet, happy family. You'd have learned spells. You'd have learned the sword. But you'd have lived in their shadows your whole life. Achieving nothing. Tell me... honestly..."
"Would you rather have happiness... or this?" He gestures at herself. The strong, able woman, one of the brightest minds to ever live. A product of her hard childhood, her abandonment, being forced to fend for herself and forge her own path. "You're a rational being, Kokonoe. Even the men dying behind me are not people, are they? You have more in common with Relius than you thought. They're STATISTICS. Them dying is a loss of TIME INVESTMENT. Your mind must be reeling at having to request new people, to train them, to get them used to your eccentric personality... that's less time to spend on YOU, YOU, YOU!!"
There's another mad laugh from Terumi at that. "Because THAT is why we are so ALIKE. THAT is why I LIKE you. To both of us... THE WORLD REVOLVES AROUND US!! Everyone else is only a PAWN!!"
Kokonoe listens to Terumi's monologue with open outrage, though she makes no attempt to interrupt him. The longer she can keep him talking the more likely she might be able to find some way to deal with him or atleast distract him long enough to make an escape possible, even now continuing to quietly calculate the options available to her.
Her burst of anger, while empowered by genuine emotion, is mostly a ruse. It is quite simply exactly what Terumi wants out of her and she is happy to play the part he expects if it will buy her a little more time. It is a calculated risk, ofcourse. Rachel had informed her of Terumi's irritating ability to gain strength from the hatred that others have towards him. By playing his game, she might very well be feeding him power but at the same time she doesn't really possess the tools necessary to deliver a decisive blow. Subterfuge is her only option.
Fortunately, it seems that gamble is going to pay off. Even as he slathers her with his slimey compliments, Kokonoe's glasses flash with the faint light of scrolling data being displayed via faint holographic projectors on the sly. The hand still in her pocket twitches with slow but careful movements as she presses the buttons by memory, constantly adjusting the instruments via remote control as they probe the arrogant bastard the same way she had done to the seeping wound in reality.
And then she finds it. A simple answer to her problem which she had overlooked until just now. Even if Terumi is but a disembodied soul, the form that he currently has is purely human; or composed of the parts that make up a human atleast. That body of his is likely a temporary vessel, a homonculous without a soul like the Murakumo units, a flesh suit for him to parade around in for convenience - but that also means he is bound to it. Suddenly a problem he had created to trap /her/ becomes the solution for dealing with /him/.
"You're right, Terumi." Kokonoe relaxes suddenly, her voice becoming cold and composed again in an instant. "It is your fault that I've lived the life I did. You are the one responsible for giving me the drive to become the best at what I do. YOU are the reason that I've pushed the boundaries of my knowledge to the point where I can play in the stars with the so-called gods."
She withdraws the hand in her pocket, holding the small phone-like computer in her palm. Casually, she taps the screen with her thumb, keying in a new set of instructions and as she does so her neutral expression becomes an arrogant smirk as if she knows something that he does not.
"So I hope you'll appreciate the irony - assuming you survive that is."
A soft beeping noise fills the air as she depresses the final key, a steady chirping pulse of digital sound. Kokonoe whips her arm forward in a flash of motion, hurling the device directly at the gloating figure of Terumi, sending it spinning end over end at his chest like a shuriken. A few moments after it leaves her hand there is an ominous crackling like static over the radio as the teleportation device in her lab locks onto the locator beacon and attempts to initiate the transfer she has requested - just in time to drag him into the pocket of shifting space.
Well, Terumi did one of the more fatal things an individual can do. Underestimating Kokonoe. He had just called her a wild card, after all. He can taste her hate, but beyond that, he knows the true depth of it. "Ahh... I like your angry face, even if it's a little faked. But I've stoked the fires in you. We'll see if it can find kindling. Don't get me wrong, Kokonoe... you'll either hate me, or you'll die. I've no use for meddlesome pests you are WORTHLESS to me!!"
As he wastes further time with that monologue, she then flicks out the item and sends it spiraling in his direction. Momentary surprise, but she vastly underestimates Terumi's speed. However, he made a terrible mistake in interpreting just what she was doing. "What's this? Some kind of bomb? Give me some credit, baka-neko--" He brings up a magical barrier, although the burning divine fire whirling about shrinks as a result. Her subordinates are starting to hiss and sizzle, shifting and shouting less and less...
And then the teleporter hits the barrier, before with a CRACK he violently displaces. A moment later the whirling tornados of green fire dissipate. The transplanted flames he brought slowly seethe away, leaving that strange black ash where it lay and a badly damaged surroundings. Of course there's plenty more within the black scar, but the death trap is now nullified.
An important point learned: Don't combat Yuuki Terumi anywhere near here.
He does not immediately come back. Given that, her gambit must have succeeded to some extent. Had he appeared in the air or somewhere trivial, he could assuredly just teleport right back. So what did happen to the hapless destroyer?
Terumi finds himself staring up at a bunch of tree branches, apparently horizontal and some amount off the ground. "...?" Glancing down, he notices his midsection has been impaled by the trunk of the tree. A decidedly fatal outcome, to say the least. ...If Kokonoe's assessment had been right. "Tch..." Green fire flares in his hand, and in a swing he severs the trunk, ripping himself free and falling a good twenty feet to land in a crouch. The attempt to stand falters. He has a great hole in his belly, but there's no organs. Blackness where insides should be, and a large amount of essence leaking out. His entire body is a Blue Grimoire -- sustained purely by the power within it. That doesn't mean that vastly compromising it is any less of an issue, however. A small amount of blood stains his shirt, a cheap imitation from Relius to give the illusion he is more real.
"Hahaha... little bitch..." he exhales slowly, grasping his wound. He attempts to reach out towards the Black Scar again, but his head swims. No; his essence is too defiled to return. Frustrating though it might be, her gambit paid off. "Well... no matter. I planted my seeds. Let's see if they bear any fruit!!"
He then thumps to the ground, resting his back against a tree as he pulls his power inwards, preventing the further loss of his essence. As the one who made the Azure Grimoire, he is best suited to repair it. Unlike prior, when his connection with Hazama had been so minimal, he doesn't need Relius' intervention. Merely time...
Time to stew, and to plan his next action...!
Several long tense moments pass as the bright light of teleportation engulfs Terumi, barrier and all, sending him flying away on a scattered stream of particles. Kokonoe watches cautiously, waiting for some spike in the readings on her instruments, some burst of that terrible green fire to rise up again.
A full minute passes before she finally relaxes, exhaling a sharp breath which until now she had been holding without realizing it. She frowns at that but quickly turns her attentions to the pile of wounded assistants, rushing over to start pulling them one by one away from the circle of blasted ground. A few of the braver individuals who had managed to escape the trap reemerge from the forest and quickly set to aiding her in this task and within a couple of minutes all of the surviving personnel are in the clear.
A quick cursory inspection shows that many of them are in bad shape, some unlikely to even survive the trip back to Sector Seven. She curses out loud at this but doesn't allow her emotion to slow her down as she begins to bark orders to get the wounded loaded up into the trucks, leaving the expensive equipment behind. Just like Terumi had said, these people are an investment to her. Machinery can be replaced easily enough but the time she'd poured into her assistants, learning their strengths and weaknesses, guiding their pursuits along paths that could be useful in the long run - none of that is disposable to her.
As the last of the techs pile into the trucks, Kokonoe turns to stare at the burning scar one final time, her expression once more having settled into its carefully neutral mask. The power held within this place is certain something impressive, perhaps even a key to methods of destruction so dangerous that even Terumi could not ignore them. But is she willing to wield something as devastating as this? To turn the power of a god against another human-being?
She smirks at the bit of introspection, amused by her philosphical mood. Anyone who's seen her private collection would know the answer to that. Turning away, the scientist hops into the passenger seat of the lead truck and begins the long trip back to the nearest transport hub, already beginning to run the calculations through her head.
Log created on 01:40:52 12/22/2017 by Kokonoe, and last modified on 17:10:30 12/26/2017.