Description: Every so often, Honoka needs to catch up with her boyfriend, to make sure he's not getting into any kind of... trouble. Not all meetings have to involve getting violent or angry with one another!
Another unfamiliar hotel room.
Honoka Kawamoto rubs her eyes as intrepid shafts of sunlight creep across the floor, welcomed in by a small part in the hotel room's blackout drapes. Seated upon a rolling chair, and dressed in a set of silk pajamas, she begins to run a thick, bristled brush through her hair, idly glancing over towards the soundly sleeping form of Zach Glenn upon the bed.
She, herself, would be backlit -- a small array of tablet computers spread out upon the desk beside her. The half-Ainu woman rarely gets a full eight hours of sleep, even when she has perfectly good cause to: running a criminal network is a full-time job. And there are lots of leads to follow up on.
The psychic's attention is drawn towards the door.
And she rises to her feet, walking over to the door with almost no sound at all.
The door is unlatched -- and the de facto leader of the Akatsuki accepts a food tray from the well-dressed man on the other side.
The door latches shut again -- and Honoka deposits the tray on the endstand beside the bed. Spread across several plates is a wide array of ham, bacon, sausage, eggs... and even a small order of chicken-fried steak. Her nose wrinkling lightly at the strong breakfasty aroma, Honoka takes one bowl of soup and a rather large roll with her, back to the desk.
She crosses her legs, a gentle smile playing across her face when she's -not- partaking of her own share of the breakfast tray. After all, she knows from experience that she won't need to wake Zach -- his nose and his insatiable hunger will do that for her.
They really do. Zach rumbles a bit as he starts to sit up, scratching his head as he does so. His eyes aren't quite open as he looks around for a moment before looking at the tray. He climbs out of the bed, stopping long enough to slide pajama pants on before picking up the tray.
His own steps are nearly silent as he pads over to Honoka and kissing her on the forehead in a chaste manner. He sets the tray down, and takes a single piece of bacon to chew on while he grabs a chair of his own to set next to the desk. Only once his stomach has something to process does he finally speak, in a lazy and very contented tone.
"'Mornin'," he says.
"Hey, you," announces Honoka, once she sees her sleeping boyfriend awake. Her expression is warm and welcoming, and she makes sure to not press the issue of 'conversation' until Zach is able to respond in kind. She leans into the kiss, however chaste it may be -- Zach would know the psychic thrives on emotional connections.
She sips at her mug of piping-hot tea, grinning. After a moment of looking back at Zach's lazy smile, she reaches over to tousle his bed-headed hair.
"I couldn't sleep any longer." She gestures to the tablets with a sweep of her hand. "All the proverbial fires have been put out, and... I figured you wouldn't mind breakfast."
"Always a good bet," Zach murmurs as he grabs some bread. "It /is/ nice to see things being slow for once," he agrees. He sits back down. He chews on his food thoughtfully. "It was a pretty wild ride, though." He glances over at the screens, wondering how she multitasks like that first thing in the... morning? Is it morning? He glances at the clock to confirm that yes, it /is/ in fact the morning.
"How's the school going?" he asks.
Honoka, meanwhile, starts in on her soup. She nods quietly as Zach asks about the school: "Oh, it's going great! Pirka and Makaotari have been teaching classes during the afternoons. School's pretty much ready for extracurricular activity, but we'll need to get some assessors in before we can take on students full-time."
Honoka glances over at the screens, plucking one in particular apart from the pack. Her finger prods at the screen, swapping to another tab.
"But, hey... tell me about this."
Her smile dims slightly as she holds up the tablet -- and its news article, showing a rather large (if blurry) picture of Zach clinging to an airborne Dizzy.
She tears off a piece of bread with her teeth, giving Zach her undivided attention.
Zach squints at the photo, chewing on the bread for a long moment. He swallows. He points at himself. "Looks like that could be me," he says, points at the Rat and the Wolf who are also clinging to Dizzy, "Two members of a Darkstalker trio who were mugging people in the Vatican that I'd been hired to track down and deal with," he says in a tone that suggests that while killing was not option the first, it was certainly on the table. He points at the Wolf, "That one had stabbed a woman they were trying to rob. I heard she is going to be okay," he comments.
Then he points to Dizzy. "I'm not entirely sure what she is," Zach says, "But she called herself a Gear. Her name is Dizzy, and it's probably the most fitting name for anyone I have ever met." He pauses, "And she knows Raiden as Kamui Kanna."
Honoka is calm.
Zach, of all people, would know this -- she's not advertising her curiosity, but she also is making no attmept to hide it.
And yet, he would probably also sense a note of playful teasing.
"Surely there are more elegant ways of traveling around Italy... were taxis not a thing?"
She rests the tablet down -- all things considered, she'd rather be holding up her soup spoon.
"Well, that's interesting. She's been in the village long enough to look up to him -- and yet, Kamui Kanna wanted us to kill her."
She scoops up a spoonful of soup, downing it as politely as one can.
"So she's dizzy, hmm? Tell me about her. Why is Kamui Kanna so hellbent on destroying her...?"
"Walking's actually better, there. You see more that way," he says half-flippantly. Then he heaves a sigh. "Given that she had just blasted a hole in the street to get to me and the trio," Zach says after a moment, "We kind of had to get out of there in a hurry."
He frowns a bit as she talks some more; it was a bit more information than he had first gotten. "She's... yeah, she... flighty, if you'll forgive the pun. One might say naive, or innocent. I'm not really sure why Raiden," Zach uses the name from his first meeting with that being; the name one gives matters, "Would want her dead. She..." Zach thinks about it. "She's powerful, really powerful. I probably could have done what she did, but I'd have had to work up to it, and then I wouldn't have been able to do much after that. But I do not think she's willfully dangerous. She just doesn't think things through, like, at all. She saw a problem, and moved to fix it in the most direct manner possible, with little thought towards consequence." Zach thinks carefully.
"Weren't there two Command Gears?" he asks. "The one who blasted Mount Fuji and this one?"
"Oh, I remember Italy, Zach."
As Zach would likely be reminded by her narrowed eyelids and sultry smile, she remembers what happened immediately after watching a particular fight in Venice.
In all fairness, there are worse things to hold against Zach's neck. The fact remains that he got to speak to the Command Gear, and she did not -- and she's more interested in listening to that narrative. She nods attentively, enjoying the aroma of her soup as she listens.
"That's... unfortunate. But if she wields power and lacks the control to -use- it, then I can see why he would be concern. I imagine your NOL friend would certainly want to instill some kind of control on that."
She nods slowly, in response to the latter questions. "Three, by my count. Justice, Dizzy, and some weird one with a pumpkin fetish. Maybe even more than that. But those're the ones Nakoruru and I were tasked with eliminating."
She scratches the side of her temple. "I suppose the deadline's been moved back now, but it's still something I need to come to grips with. If she has such... -power-..."
Honoka closes her eyes, leaning back in her chair.
"If you think her keepers are able to keep control of her, I'm fine picking a different battle. But I need you to tell me you're sure."
Zach remembers Italy, too. Zach's expression is, well, showing the same basic emotion. "Funny," he says, his voice a little lower, "I remember the fight, I remember /after/ the fight. Don't recall much of the city, though. View in the hotel room was too good to pass up." Then he blushes a little before going back to his food. He gnaws on his bacon, considering for a moment.
"It's not like she has no control over it, I don't think," he finally says. "It's more like..." Another pause before hitting on an analogy. "It's like she's a little kid. No experience with anything, no real grasp of why you might not want to blast a hole in a street when you simply find access elsewhere. I think if they can plan accordingly, it'll work itself out." Then Zach gets sober. Well, more sober.
"I... might have mentioned that I went up against a bunch of Gears, before this whole mess started? Or maybe they were rejects, or prototypes, or rejected prototypes," he says. He taps his temple, "She didn't feel like any of those," he says. "In fact, if it weren't for the wings and the tail, I'd have thought she was a normal person. Not a Gear, or a Darkstalker." He takes a deep breath. "Maybe she deserves a chance to learn about the world, and decide how she wants to use her power. Raiden took her in at one point. Gave her shelter."
Honoka listens quietly while consuming her soup and bread. So far what Zach is telling her jives with the conclusions the Ainu manipulator had reached herself. And yet, there is one key piece of information conveyed by Zach's manner of speaking.
A finger is raised.
"I just wanna say that 'Maybe' is not 'Yes, oh light of my life, I am sure.'" She smiles with a hint of good nature, showing her protest is only a token. "... I get you though. But I guess something I need to know is... does she know, or do -you- know, who -created- the Gears? The very fact that someone like Dizzy exists in such a... pure, innocent state is just a sign that whoever -made- her wasn't able to instill some kind of command hierarchy in her. Which suggests it's not an -entirely- artificial process."
She sighs, before sipping at her drink.
"Mm. Do you think I should go -meet- her?"
Zach shrugs as he piles eggs onto a plate with some sausage. "Can't /give/ you 'Yes, oh light of my life, I am sure,' oh light of my life," he says before added a hint of salt to the eggs. "I'd be willing to put someone else's money that she doesn't know anything immediately useful."
He pauses to shovel some more food down. He sets the fork down to glance at Honoka. "Though I /can/ tell you that either it was a United Nations project, or work being done by someone who /thought/ they were working for the UN. The person running the facility I saw," he very carefully does not say 'I had reduced to a crater', "Called herself Doctor Lindburg. Fairly certain she did not survive what happened." Which was certainly in the newsfeeds at the time.
Another pause for thought and food. "Maybe something happened before they could install those controls," Zach suggests. "I got the impression that she was basically hiding out while living in that village, before whatever happened to it happened."
Another pause to grab and bite into some bread, "As for meeting her," he says carefully, "I'm not sure that's a good idea. Her, uh, current benefactors might not take kindly to surprise guests. The situation was pretty tense still when I left it." Another bite, a swig of orange juice, "Though if it was that important, I can try asking."
"What a chicken-shit wager -that- would be," is Honoka's wry comment, offered with a wag of the piece of bread in her hand.
She seems... a bit -more- interested in the mention of the name Dr. Lindburg though -- to the point where she swivels the chair back to tap the name into one of her many tablets. "... No, but having a search term is going to give a better paper trail. ... -Someone- is still on the hook for this nonsense."
"It's not... -that- important that I speak with her. If I trust your half-assed wager -- and, sadly, I do -- then it's kind of a moot point." A sardonic smile is offered, before she takes a bite out of a pickled vegetable.
"... I do have to wonder, though. How... is the Vatican? Does it feel like 'home' for a Christian, or... y'know, does it make you uncomfortable?"
"Actually," Zach says after another slug of juice, "The term that applies to me would be 'lapsed Catholic.' I was baptised, but the last time I attended Mass or went to a confession was right before I left for the Corps. So according to canon law, I'm still Catholic. Just... not a practicing one." He shrugs.
"It was a nice place to visit," he says. "Really beautiful buildings, and there's... a /feeling/ to attending mass there. A /charge/ to it, you know? All those people in one place for a specific purpose..." Zach shudders a little at the memory; that particular morning was... intense. Not in a bad way, or in a good way, but it was a very strong sensation.
"Didn't get to see the Pope though," he says. "We were still tying up a loose end that day. So there's at least one reason to go back if I wanted to."
Lapsed Catholic. "Such a rigid and formal way of putting it..." comments Honoka. She may be prodding her boyfriend, but the fact remains that she's having fun intermixing her two prominent personalities around the monster hunter -- saying things 'Honoka' would never say, without sharpening words to the degree that 'Dahlia' might. Her amusement and joy would be unmistakeable, possibly even intoxicating to a psychic as well-attuned to her moods as Zach.
And even his answer to her question fills the juggler with good cheer. Sure -- she may be a bit salty at her -last- interaction with a Christian -- and Zach might be able to feel some kind of response there -- but she can definitely respect how -Zach- feels.
"That's... pretty wild. I... I guess that's what I'm hoping to replicate with our school. To be able to have so many followers in one place, resonating as one. To have a spiritual leader, guiding the path."
The performer smiles, just about on the verge of sighing with delight.
To be a follower, instead of a leader.
"... So what's next for Zach Glenn, now that I've so selfishly ruined a night of your schedule?"
Zach takes a deep breath. It's been... interesting to him to see that mixing of personalities Honoka has been showing. It's refreshing in a way. He takes a last swig of orange juice.
"Well," he says, "That World Warrior thing is still going on. I'll still need to have Takehiro take that ComBot apart to see what all it does. What it's learning and sending out, as well as how it takes in information. I wasn't sure if Nakoruru wanted or even /needed/ her share of the prize money, so you're getting six hundred thousand of it. If she doesn't want the money at all we can figure that out too, but it'd be wrong to not even offer her her share. Radel's getting a hundred thousand to make the division easier."
Then he gives Honoka a look that reminds her sharply of that night in Italy, and the recollection of it. "I am not at all sure you ruined anything of the sort," he says in a low, pleased growl. "Oh light of my life," there is some tease to that; he thinks it's a cheesy line, but it's a flavor of cheese he's okay with.
"World Warrior, tch." Honoka idly sweeps her fingers through barely-tamed hair. "I hope you have fun with that. I don't know that I would. I mean, perhaps it's better to fight for the approval of a boastful German man than to see who can bare the most skin for whatever tournament your boy Rei is putting on."
Her jovial mood is discolored with a darker pattern of thought, there.
"... Which is -bullshit- by the way, but I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation..."
Closing her eyes for a moment, she sighs and lets that thought disspiate. "But the point is... while fighting the best and brightest in the world does have its appeal, I do enjoy the opportunity to kick back and take a break for a bit."
She smiles faintly, her mood of good cheer returning. "... I can send you our engineers' teardown of the AY4M3 robot if you like. It's remarkable stuff, I'm sure -- the bigger question is the fighter database. Do we just get -one- fighter, or do we get to pick? As much as I ... liked having AY4M3 to practice against, the program has its limits..."
The money, of course, would go towards the school or community. But she isn't of a mood to talk about money while Zach is setting her heart aflame.
"If I wasn't meeting with investors today, I'd be happy to occupy your daytime as well."
"Actually," Zach says, with a slight frown, "I would be willing to wager that Rei found out about that match about the same time everyone else did." He scratches at the scar over his left eye thoughtfully. "Doesn't seem like a thing he'd sign off on otherwise."
He considers, for a moment, Honoka's offer regarding the technical specs. "I'm guessing that Takehiro was using operational security as an excuse to dig in on one of these things when he brought it up." Still, the offer's a good idea. "Send the information to me, I'll make sure he gets it when it's done. Maybe the combination of reports will bring up something interesting without me having to go into too much detail as to why you have such a thing." Zach has well-informed suspicions, but he's not going to out and out say them even here. "I'll ask about the database whenever Violet Systems gets in touch with me."
"That sounds fun," Zach says in a tone that suggest that he knows it will be anything BUT that. "Perhaps you need *me* to needlessly ruin *your* daytime plans," Zach says, in that low, pleased growl.
"... Tch, you don't want me to have any fun."
It seems, from Honoka's mock-pout, like she may have -wanted- to corner Rei the issue.
"Eh, it's pretty obvious the two 'prizes' are the skeevy ones there, I guess. You ever talked with either one before?"
It'd be practically a non-issue for the Dahlia to provide specs to Zach or Takehiro with the specifications -- so subtle, in fact, that rather than respond with an acknowledgement, she pulls over another tablet and starts typing out a memo.
... She gets distracted, though, when Zach mentions interrupting her plans. And as she looks up from her tablet, she bites her lower lip -- and claps her hand over top of his. Her skin may be a bit warmer than usual -- Zach can thank the tea for that.
"... Down, boy," she demurs. "Eat your breakfast first."
Her words say no, but her eyes aren't quite as opposed to the suggestion.
Zach considers for a moment. "I feel like I should know Alma," he says after a moment. "But not the other one. But if you want to go after them for it, you go right ahead. It..." Zach frowns. There are times and places for that sort of thing, but televised? Involving minors? /Pass/. "Yeah, the whole thing is just..." Zach shakes his head to dispel the thought. He's... less than pleased.
Zach reaches for some of the ham, a confident smirk on his face as he eats slowly. His eyes suggest that he catches her meaning.
Honoka rubs her thumb across Zach's knuckles, smiling warmly. "You know me, I'm gonna do whatever I want whether you tell me to or not."
Zach slowly takes a piece of bacon, and nibbles on it lightly. His eyebrows do a quick bob. "Oh," he says, "I know."
Log created on 11:43:29 02/20/2018 by Honoka, and last modified on 02:02:22 02/24/2018.