Mai Natsume - Conflicted Heart

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Description: Southtown is reinforced as yet more NOL troops converge, the next nearest platoon to have arrived. They're Green, idealistic and dangerously focused on one another and making a good impression on the existing forces. Col. Kagura Mutsuki inspects the new troops and has a first-hand look at just how badly it might be sending these kids out to fight monsters.

The small headquarters of the main Southtown command is a lot more busy than it has been in months. During the war, it was almost constantly shut down, unsettled soldiers within forced to watch the lawless city without any ability to intervene. Now many soldiers enter and leave, given the onslaught of supernatural threats in the wake of the chaos wrought on the world forces a much more proactive hand to defend against threats from both surviving renegade Gears and other opportunistic enemies.

It is a simple three story affair of grey stone, and only in the last few days has a large sign been erected outside proclaiming it the Novus Orbis Librarium Commander Building. A new one is being constructed nearby, but until those efforts finish this is still where many of the officers reside, from Second Lieutenant up. Intelligence has a separate building, and many of the enlisted men are being kept in other facilities. Through the doors is a great open lobby of smooth stone and tall pillars, with a large front desk housing a beautiful secretary. Praetorian Guards are housed around, perhaps a dozen total, elites of the Librarium here to protect the most important officials. New arrivals would be vetted efficiently, before a call given.

The elevator in the back would slide open to reveal the tall form of the Black Knight, Kagura. He is not currently bringing his greatsword, but still wears the black cloak across his shoulders, slipping out with a confident stride. All of the guards shift in unison to stand at attention and salute, genuine respect and passion visible. "Colonel Mutsuki, Sir!!" Kagura lifts a hand dismissively, and they return to stand at ease. "I heard we got our new arrival of officers, is that right...?"

Mai would likely know him better than most, if not in her current form. Chief of the Duodecim, when he was young he spoke to many of the house heads, and made a point of associating with future heirs. They likely met a few times before the incident, and by all practical measures Kagura has done an excellent job managing the Twelve Originators and living up to the expectations of both the Library and his distinguished family name. There's rumors of his love life after leaving the rigidity of his noble houses, but... whatever that might be, it has done nothing to stem the sea of commendations, including his critical support of the Ikaruga civil war.

A young bespectacled girl in her travel and ink stain/blotched uniform, Suprisingly a Captain's attire being lead by her 1st lieutenant toward one of the benches provided in the lobby. Already carrying a heavy arm-laden load of paperwork the two have papers enough shared between them, clearly at a panicky loss for what to do in lieu of saluting with their arms full. Clicking their heels together and standing up straight.

Outside, Forty new souls: Arranged in a loose parade rest though still toteing their own packs and bedding rolls. Enormous regulation backpacks of many stapped and buckle fixed pockets in varying states of being worn or settled at their feet, these troops were humping an excess of equipment and personal effects. Varied and individual resulting effects; there were obvious signs of exhaustion and overheating amongst a group that has walked a fair distance. A positive atmosphere surrounding them. The second lieutenant only visible as a pair of blue hair antennae against a backdrop of a yellow bow tied ribbon, it bobs up and down in agreement where behind a mass of the gathered NCO's formed into a tight knit group.

A quick whip around the non-commissioned officers and herself was enough of a kitty (small reserve of money collected from numerous people) to send someone back down the street for some sodas and cold water, three of the corporals volunteering seemed enough. There was no telling how long the wait period would be before they were moved on to new accommodations. Already two of the troopers were in a state they'd been moved off to relax in the shade.

When the corporals take off at a run it exposes the second lieutenant standing next to her sergeant. Five foot four and with hair tied back into a ponytail it still falls to her thighs in length. Her figure obscured by the NOL heavy greatcoat and high collar that doesn't suit the weather in the slightest, no beret however; it's carried under the Epaulette on her shoulder.

A sweeping wave of salutes and coming to attention from the troopers triggers a curious glance from her rather than the immediate and timely response. Approaching at a steady pace she approaches Kagura and only when within a couple of feet belatedly salutes when well within speaking range.

"C-colonel! You came all the way out to see us?"

Oh dear, she'd send a handful of men away to get drinks. The captain would probably have fainted dead away if she knew that Colonal Mutsuki was inspecting her troops in this state, she was a little nervous about presenting and putting her best foot forward. There was a distinct level of awkwardness in the second lieutenants mannerism.

"Second Lieutenant Mai Natsume reporting for duty! with the 78th library regulars. 4th Magic Division"

Who were all standing behind her, watching. A cheerful and relaxed smile blossoms on her face once she gets past that point. She's more relaxed around him than a young woman should be given the reputation, but that's also a familiar face. A girl one of his younger relatives was dating or something similar to that, even the name rang bells.

Within, there's a brief meeting between Kagura and the two heads who went inside. It's likely a frantic affair that nearly involves losing the loads of paperwork, but they are sent over to the front desk to begin sorting things out with the secretary. Dealing with things that mundane, luckily, are not within his purview. There's a mild look of shock when he starts towards the front door, but Kagura bursts out into the sun with an abruptness that likely catches many off-guard. No indication or warning was given to any of the arrivals that the Black Knight himself was going to immediately come down, and those who retreated to the shade or to sit rather than properly stand to wait might be kicking themselves. He can tell much in a glance. General demeanors, capabilities, already sorting the top from the bottom on first impressions.

"Of course. What sort of leader would I be if I didn't see my own subordinates?" Kagura crosses his arms before his chest before taking in Mai. The first thing she would see is a brief, momentary flare of recognition. It immediately turns to confusion, as he squints at the blue-haired woman. "...? Have we met?" He extends both of his hands, one high and one low. Blocking out her face and belly. ...It's pretty clear the only thing he can see at the moment are her breasts. "I never forget a face... Natsume, you say?"

Mai quirks her head to the side and bobs down a little, curious and trying to peek as to why he what reason he was hiding his face from her, completely oblivious to where the sights were aiming. Was this another one of his wacky games or 'sage' advice that had sometimes been offered to a Very different and still much younger Mai.

"Ahhh... Yes. That makes a lot of good sense!"

She was positioning herself between the colonel and her troops. Giving them time to try neaten or beautify themselves. The palpable waves of hostility coming from the troop reflect a very keen awareness of what Kagura was doing. A sudden overprotective urge -- or unwillingness to share visible in many of those faces. The sergeant meanwhile was taking the opportunity to polish a recently unpacked halberd that was taller and broader than the moustachioed man himself, a glint in his eye. The captain inside was just now getting a handle on her breathin and nerves. Seeing what was going on outside would probably finish her off.

"I-a'hm certain we have... at the Academy. I was in the year under Taro and Jin Kisaragi."

Being familiar with one of his relatives and thus calling him by his first name, there was history there. She was also part of the same year as Noel Vermillion and Tsubaki Yayoi. There was absolutely nothing that could hide how familiar she looked. A possibly good reason for it being who she knew and assosciated with in school.

The settled hands do not linger uncomfortably long, although many in Mai's group likely know fully well what he was staring at. His expression is still more friendly and curious than anything else, arms once more crossing before his chest. Her attempt to buy time is rather late, as the majority of what he desired to know was decided in a second. But to do such for her compatriots all the same certainly elevates the girl higher in his book. Not that extending the time he's directly interacting with Mai is anything unpleasant. "Oh? You know Jinny? And Taro, that's a name I haven't heard in awhile. He's not stationed in this part of Asia, sadly. We've a lot of solid Academy graduates in this branch, and I've yet to see one disappoint me." But that doesn't entirely detract from his suspicions. "Hmm." is all he comments, before shifting the topic. "Well, inform your group to enter. It's too hot out here, and the paperwork won't get finished immediately." He sweeps his hand as he turns in a billow of cape, pushing back through in a rush of delightfully cool air. There's more than enough room in the front area for forty people, if they comfortably disperse.

The girl grins in response to hearing the Taro bestowed nicknames. He might not be here, and that was a disappointment. But the phrasing and delivery by a close relative who looked so much alike, It-felt like he was here.

A hand closes over and covers her heart.

A drawn out low tone then the blast turns shrill and piercing, a note that lingers and is drawn out. Finger in her mouth Mai was the source of and emitting the noise. The troops responding to it with a surge of activity as they understood the cue, hardly very energetic seeming while they police up all their gear and start an orderly file. All move but the Sergeant who continues to polish his halberd in a not -entirely- unthreatening manner. Someone had to remain to escort those corporals in, and watchdog over their gear (while getting first pick of what they brought back.)

The troops making way and falling into spots where they gravitate towards the air-conditioning vents yet away from the Praetorian guards. A few of the more academically inclined NCO's making their way over to the captain and gradually making a semicircle seated in front of her and aiding in ploughing through the paperwork.

Estimation of Kagura may have gone up in their regard! The majority of the troops are quiet and contemplative, bliss filled and heavens thankful it's a look that's mirrored on their second Lieutenant's face as well. Blank of face and eye she's just appreciating the cool air and fighting the urge to stick her face right up to one of those vents. If she opened her mouth would it have the same effect as a fan and make the funny noi-? ..!!

She assumes a more professional looking stance though she does unbutton the greatcoat as a matter of practicality.

"There was some problems with the trains running. We walked the last few miles into the city. The weather was reportedly bad in the area when we were dispatched..."

That explained the greatcoats and heavy uniforms most were wearing or had thrown back over one shoulder, a punishing thing to be wearing while walking about on a nice sunny day.

Kagura has headed back towards the Captain to begin speaking with her. In the midst he leans on the front desk, posture far more relaxed. His smile is devilishly charming, and he reaches out to carefully align her glasses. After conferring with her, involving no small amount of flirtation, Kagura begins to make the rounds and speak with people. Despite his rumors, he does not miss a single one, male or female, asking names, station, where they are from, why they opted to join the Librarium. It's always said he is the nicest Colonel to work for, but bearing witness to it is certainly different. One would expect a man of such high position not only in the Library but also the Duodecim to be difficult to approach, but no ego or arrogance exudes from him in the slightest. Of course, this takes him back to Mai in short order. "You're all free to take off the excess layers. I'm not going to be any more happy if you all remain in stormy gear just because you came here in it. Quite the opposite, in fact. We're trying to intercept the first flow of... impulsive attackers, and not just the Gears. Hopefully, the city infrastructure can begin repairing during this." He leans sidelong against the adjacent pillar, still peering at Mai as if trying to place her. "So where are you from? Why'd you join the Library? You here for the money, the dreams, the power?"

Once Kagura walks away, that Captain "Tessa" is laid out gently on the bench and fanned furiously with a batch of requisition forms by her subordinates. Lovely girl, incredibly high grades and testing but a bundle of nerves and stress applied mostly by her family and expectations of her, surrounded by people that cared about and were supportive.

Everyone has different reasons for being here and aspirations for what the future holds. Career, family, wanting to start a business, carry on traditions or just protect people they care about, or those they've never met. Idealistic and fresh troops.

Though Kagura makes the offer and there are more than a few smiles, not one trooper takes their coats off. Sweaty and suffering the outermost layers of their uniforms are probably the only part not sodden transparent or darkened with sweat. They were presentable as they were, and trying to make a good first impression. A few voices gripe or half-jest it'd be nice to and are silenced by others who equally want to shuck the sweaty uniforms.

"We're fine Colonel. I'm certain the captain would feel a lot better if she knew she made a good first impression."

The swirly eyes and red faced captain in question still not quite conscious and able to help with the paperwork herself.

Mai covers her mouth with a crooked finger to disguise her smile until addressed herself. Now suddenly on the defensive and thinking hard she's clearly filtering what she would say before actually speaking. Maybe to catch herself before she was caught in a lie or what otherwise was... okay to share. Her response

"Family... kind of! There was always the expectation I would join NOL when I was old enough. I -- worked hard on that basis for a long time, growing up."

Then 'Some things' had happened. She was yet further from following in her father's footsteps as heir and in a state that was making it look impossible. They'd abandoned and had no need of her. A pained look in her eyes and sad absence of a smile hinted at how much memories of those times still stung.

"And you Colonel? Would you still be in NOL if it wasn't for your family connections?"

The Duodecium had a prescription for how the heirs were to live, which classes of people they could love and marry. (Though that still varied greatly family to family.)

"If you're trying to impress me by being stubborn, it's not working. There's no rational reason to waste endurance due to pride. Mistakes and unexpected environments happen. I'll repeat. If you are doing it for my sake, take them off." This is said loud enough by Kagura for all to hear, a strange and powerful charisma evident as he brings forth his oratory skills. There's not judgement there, but expectation. As if to continue ignoring such would disgrace his desires, as opposed to maintaining them until now. "Especially you." he follows towards Mai, although harmlessly playful. He had an aura when flirting with the Captain, amongst many of the more receptive female recruits. By all aesthetic standpoints, Mai is amongst the more visually appealing, but he doesn't seem to be latching on to it. People more familiar with him might find it rather more surprising.

"I'm impressed. We're going to discuss her getting settled over dinner tonight with an informal briefing. No worries there." Hands rest on Kagura's hips now, smile unchanged as she worms around mentally. "Family? There's only one place where family expects one to join the Academy. The Duodecim. I know every single house. And every single secondary affiliated house. ...And the tertiary ones, too. There's not a single Natsume. Unless you are from a small family with a proud father who served, and wish to live up to his standards."

Although Kagura's smile grows wider. "Except there's no other soldier in the entire Librarium named Natsume. Intelligence and my secretary give me information on all new recruits. You had remarkable results from someone with no prior history of affiliation, and who joined before we became publicly popular..."

Letting that hang in the air, "We all have our path in life. Even if I'd like to relax and enjoy life, the world would be a worse place for it. I'm not so selfish. Sure, I'll try to have fun when I can squeeze it in, but fate is an interesting thing to me. None of my younger brothers would have done a better job as Duodecim, and I feel I manage well as a Colonel. Were I just an aspiring nobody in a farm...? Depends. I want to help people. And just like I did in this life, I'd go whatever path gave me the greatest reach."

A whole lot of smiles and broad grins, but not a single cloak removed.

A show of solidarity whether for respect for their captain, desire to fit in with their comrades and friends, or merely their own pride in their appearance. They had all worked hard to get here.

GACK! Oh no, she'd said to much.

When he latches onto that /sounding/ a lot like one of the duodecium families she nearly panics and raises a finger to scratch at her cheek wondering if it's something she can pass off as a 'well, you know.' and leave it at that. She was treading dangerous waters. ...but he was related to Taro, and one of her superiors!

" Really -No others? I -- picked that name myself. My family had no more need of me... so I entered the academy with an alias."

Her face heavily shadowed by a thick fringe, hollow eyes that dwell on those facts; it was entirely possible for a young noble to be thrown away or cast out on their own. I lived like a puppet. No, used as one. Those eventful days felt so fake. The days I have now are vivid and radiant, full of life. Being a girl is nice. Mai resolutely closes her eyes and lifts her chin. Since then she had made numerous precious and lifelong friends and was a thousand times more eager and immersed in the life going on around her. Peoples happiness, the challenges they faced or set for themselves.

The door opening behind her and corporals walking in laden with double plastic bags filled to near busting with cans of freshly chilled sodas are met with celebrity status levels of welcome and call-outs.

Natsume, Mai. Aged nineteen and struggled to get into the 4th Magic Division with 'unobtainable' or 'immeasurable' score ratings in magic proficiency. not because she couldn't use it but because none of the standardized systems used for measuring potential. Recommendation: Melee infantry, high physical and weapon proficiencies that were only just below those levels recorded by Makoto Nanaya.

She struggled a lot to make it into the fourth. But if she could, then she could follow the others like Tsubaki who were also trying to reach and support Jin. It would be like getting the gang back together.

"I like the sound of that, but I don't think there's such a thing as an aspiring nobody."

Just somebody she hadn't met yet, and it was a disservice to ever think of them as a 'nobody.' When she receives her drinks and the frost cans are passed into her hands there are the two, she offers both toward Kagura with a pretty smile and offer-

"Orange, or ...Citrus Blast Colonel?"

There's a mild grimace of distaste from Kagura when his near order to get comfortable is ignored. Still, he makes no particular show of it. He has nothing against passion, but stubborn people on a battlefield end up dead, especially those who feel they have something to prove. The stammering look of shocked horror is rather telling to Kagura, of course. He hides his strengths, after all. His true battle strength, and the depths of his intelligence and planning. Kokonoe grudgingly respects his ability in those areas, after all. "I do not know a Natsume, but I knew a Mai. Quiet, short lad. Very attractive mother. Father was always rather hard on him, but only because of his station. I think it's even worse than the treatment I got. I wonder whatever happened to him? Last I knew, he was going to join the same class you did." A deep, thoughtful sigh. It's unclear just how much Kagura might be pondering now. It seemed his statement was purposefully ambiguous. "Citrus." he agrees, taking the can. "I'll keep an eye on you, Ms. Natsume. Impress me with this monster hunting, and your stay in Second Lieutenant might not be too long." Popping it open, he takes a heavy drink before continuing down the line. No further one on one happens between him and the girl; after all forty people are met, he returns to the Captain a final time, speaking with her once more before slipping her a card with his number after giving it a playful kiss. With a wink, he turns to salute all those present. The Praetorian Guard again snaps to attention and returns it, with a "Thank you, Colonel Mutsuki!" Waving absently with a hand, he returns towards the elevator leading back up to the third floor, reserved for those of Captain or higher rank.

Her face is fixed in a pleasant fake smile. It's a relief he wanted the oddly flavoured and named drink. There was no telling what could be mixed into it. When he'd mentioned another Mai by name her orange drink slips in her grip. The condensation on the exterior of the can and sudden weakness bordering on paralysis in her limbs.

It was no simple feat to suddenly forget how overwarm she was a moment ago, icy cold running down her spine. From so simple and innocent seeming a question he'd all but stopped her heart in her chest cold. It's there in her face, nobody else knew, it was her darkest and most closely held secret.

Mai Hazuki was a man.

She'd lied through omission and accepted the generosity of those around her greedily. She depended on people liking her who might rightfully turn on her if they knew the truth. Her eyes turn downcast and away while Kagura is drinking. He was closely related to Taro, and she'd even agreed to go out on dates with him. He was a fun and cool older guy she looked up to.

That was too much to bear, Kagura suspected at best and knew about this betrayal at worst. It was one of his own family.

Freed from the colonels personal attentions she walks back outside and takes up a spot against the wall, lifting the can and pressing it to her cheek and the side of her neck for the coldness. She had a lot to think about all of a sudden. Certain he would be watching her for better or worse in future.

The captain was a slumped over mess gently having her face slapped in an attempt to bring her around, hands locked around the card. Inside the troops watch Mai go but instead get caught up in raising cans and glass bottles in cheer as often as they salute the Colonel returning towards his elevator.

Log created on 15:23:01 01/02/2018 by Mai Natsume, and last modified on 05:41:42 01/03/2018.