KOF 2019 - Love Is Like An Open Grave

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Description: While news of Jezebel's disappearance has reached the global stage (somewhere back on page 4), the reason why is still a mystery. And nobody has been affected worse than her number one fan, Baby Bonnie Hood. But when Lightning Spangles appears to announce the King of Fighters tournament, the fangirl can't shake the simple fact that Jezebel is dead and buried, by her own hand. Discarding her disguise, Bulleta goes to investigate Jezebel's burial site to confirm she is still at rest. Unfortunately, Naerose is there to greet her. Her goal? To find Jezebel, and bring her back to life.

The song is the Indiana Jones Theme. It is song with every note punctuated with a 'dun' like a child might sing a song. The map? Tracking the movements of the Red Witch whom started here when she found a thermos and now returns. .. The map? Just covered in red crayon. Naerose has been all over and for random reasons, but somehow she finds her way back. Of course the body was never in the graveyard, that much Naerose knew already and so, having been on the scene first to the blood and the jacket (she's sure it is fake) she used the next best thing. A tracking dog service she found in the yellow pages. This having been months ago, but she never quite found the body. If she was even looking for that. She's back again and only has a vague ballpark of what she is looking for but this time? She has something even better. A shovel, a metal detector (because there's got to be metal right, jewelry, coins, teeth fillings and a phone.

"Lily..? This is umm Naerose, so remmeber we were like going to ressurect the bread," She says bread, but it's obvious what she means, "Well, so I'm out here, but I don't know, maybe like, I 'm a touch late " (about a month or so late to be exact) "And you're not here. I'll, ahh, get started with out you, just join me as soon as you're able and you get this message." She closes her ancient flip phone and shoves it in her hat.

She might not know exactly where she is looking of even exactly what she is looking for, but there are some clues. For example, if there is a tree, or roots or brush that couldn't have grown or huge rocks..? Well probably those areas are out. Still there is a lot of land to cover from her map of the vague vacinity of the buried treasure she'd zero'd in on and thus.. Now she just has to figure out exactly where.

'Where' could be anywhere; that's the point of burying someone in the middle of nowhere. A shovel and a metal detector can only do so much against miles upon miles of Sonoran Desert-- and /that/ assumes there's anything metallic to be detected in the first place.

(There is -- the contact sheathing the ex-Lightning Spangles' cyber-eye socket, at a minimum; lucky witch...)

One could walk for hours-- days-- /weeks/, stud the desert with holes, and never find her; one could /die/ looking for her, if they didn't know where 'where' was.

Unless one happened to have planted a bug in the dead woman's body months before burial, that is. If, by some chance, one /did/ happen to be so resourceful... one might find that the only thing keeping her from buried failure is the sweltering trek from Phoenix to 'there'. One might choose to go at night, because even if she /knows/ where she needs to go, she also knows that knowing won't make the mid-day desert any less fucking hot.

For all her preparations, of course, one might /not/ - /does/ not - expect to find another wandering within a few dozen yards of her mark as she crests a sandy hill on a dark red ATV. Wandering, shovel and metal detector - and /something/ else - in hand.

"/Fuck/," Bulleta hisses beneath her breath-- beneath the low rumble of the engine as she clutches the handlebars tight and creeps back down the hill as deliberately as she can manage.

She didn't /expect/ to find someone wandering out here, but she's /prepared/ for it. Once the vehicle's resting on the ground behind that dune, once /she's/ dismounted from it... her attention turns towards yanking away the dust cover drawn over the rear of the vehicle so she can retrieve her basket. Her red, hooded cloak's already wrapped around her body and drawn over her head; it's as good as any protective gear she might've worn otherwise. The hem of her red dress peeks out from beneath the cloak's lower edge, and red combat boots round the outfit out.

She's as silent as a sidewinder slithering over sand as she approaches the Red Witch.

Under normal circumstances the Red Witch has no right to be anywhere near her target, but luck was on her side. . mysteriously. The fact she is here when another shows up looking for the same thing and knowing where to look for it helps. No telling how many days or weeks Naerose spent here, unless you asked her and even then the chances were the answer would be unreliable at best. There goes the saying of a broken clock, but that assumes the broken clock is stopped and not simply running randomly, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes backward. Naerose might not be right twice a day, but occasionally. . .

She is horrifically unobervant though and so creeping up on her would be a piece of cake. She's just mindlessly humming her stupid tune which would surely have driven any companion mad, anyone who has to hang around her long enough mad. The tune, the Indiana Jones theme on endless repeat, like a broken record, like the broken clock. The fact that Naerose hasn't tried to dig anything just yet might lend credence to the idea that she actually knows what she is looking for and where to look, but that all changes when the metal detector goes off and she stops, gets her shovel ready and starts digging.

She's not actually on the right spot, not yet, but then zeroing in on it exactly would be too wild. If she's left to her own devices then a moment or two later she'll come up with something, a dust covered buckle that once held a spur on to a boot. The metal was probably brass and the right collector might like to have such a thing, even if it was essentially worthless. Naerose with her eyes wide enough to practically be seen around the rims of her shades examines it for a long time, cleans it off with her woefully out of place red dress, already utterly covered in dust. Somehow the buckle comes off dirtier than before she picked it up.

"Buck... " She says slowly as she tries to read the incomprehensible buckle. "Nineteen..." She has to hold it very close, but it does no good, the piece of history lost, worn away, like dust in the wind.

Bulleta's /always/ in training, but far be it from her to pass up free cake.

Of course-- this /could/ be a coincidence, still, couldn't it? She never got a chance to do a full sweep of the region, so for all she knows, there are holes /everywhere/ the other woman came from. And the metal detector makes /sense/ for someone who expects to find a metal eye...

"... excuse me?" ripples past her lips as she reaches for Naerose, reaching for the buckle, soft and uncertain. She goes for the cape hanging from the Witch's waist, tugging just forcefully enough to make her presence plain-- jerking her hand away once she's sure she has.


Big, blue eyes flick away from Naerose while Bulleta draws her bottom lip into her mouth.

"... god, this is /so/..." is murmured after a silent moment of chewing. Briskly rolling eyes screw themselves back to the Witch. "... okay," she exhales, "let's try again... hi." Another exhale, this time joined by a quick, stiff wave.

As her lips begin to spread in a nervous smile, she continues, "My parents are camping out here, and I /thought/ that I could find a place to just... ... but I got..."

She glances away for an embarrassed beat.

"I didn't expect to /see/ anyone else out here, do-- do you know where we are...?" she wonders, looking back up to the Witch-- and then down to the Witch's tools, then back up.

"Are you hunting for treasure...?" she quietly asks as her brow knits.

What does it mean? Is it a double rainbow? She is turning the buckle over. What she doesn't realize is that Buck isn't a name, but the word buckle, mostly worn away. She's pretty certain she found a piece of American History and not just a fella trying to make due in a world set against him by forces behind his control. A bad roll of dice, a bad hand of cards. It is with these thoughts that Naerose feels the first tug. She adjusts her shades, looks all around and then down.

Her expression changes from concern, curiousity, back to concern, confusion? She's pretty sure this is a child she is looking at, but she doesn't have a ton of experience with little people. There isn't even an ounce of suspiscion on the witch's face. Despite well, many suspcious things. First there is the manner in which the girl is dressed and her basket. Does it fit in the desert? Sure? Why not. Does the apparent nervousness trip any alarms? Is that really the way small children act? Sure! Okay, this little girl is clearly legit. Naerose will save you little girl.

"Oh I'm sure we can find your parents." Naerose tells the girl with a winning and overconfident smile, "You see I'm a real witch and that means I can do things like find parents." She just sort of drops her shovel and metal detector and goes for her broom instead.

"I'm not really treasure hunting, I don't think, I was looking for a friend who is probably around here somewhere. She used to call me Fishy friend cause I dunno, I guess I wore a fish custom once to one of her 'hoedowns'." She says the word like she's not sure what it means and then admits as much, "I'm still not sure what a hoedown dillo even is."

"A..." leaves Bulleta's lips in an astonished gasp. Eyes as wide as the moon above drift towards the broom, then back up to its owner--

A /real witch/, she says without moving her lips-- without a sound beyond tremulous shock.

Before she can ask to be /sure/ that Naerose is the nice sort of real witch, the other woman shifts right into explaining why she's there, saving Bulleta a few steps in the process. The blonde looks progressively bemused - who on Earth /else/ would be out here besides a girl looking for a picnic and a Witch with a shovel? - until Naerose says the magic word:

'Hoedowns' summons a slight, but sharp recoil... and then a flood of relief washes over her features. She steps towards Naerose and tries to catch one of the Witch's hands in both of hers.

"You /know/ her," hisses out, low and hopeful. "/Jezebel/. I--"

Her eyes slip sideways as a soft, shuddering laugh escapes her.

"-- the parent thing was--" Another shaky laugh, then she quickly shakes her head and sets her eyes squarely on the shades. "-- not /exactly/-- remotely true. Sorry! I just-- -- I mean, I-- I came out here for a picnic, just... not..."

Her eyes tremble, desperate to look away, but she doesn't let them go.

"... I... I heard that maybe... /maybe/, if-- if the rumors about what happened to her are /true/, then-- she'd be... ... I just... I've been looking, and /looking/, and..."

"Jezebel. . . " The Red Witch repeats the name like it sounded familiar, but the reaction probably wasn't expected. Naerose looks as if she's barely following what the little girl is saying, like she hardly knows what she is doing or why. The part that gets the most response is the parent part. She switches gears to big sister, if your big sister was completely unreliable and probably on drugs or something.

"Oh you shouldn't tell lies, it's not nice," She tells the blonde and then goes on to continue speaking, "But don't you worry, I'm not mad." Maybe she's misunderstanding something, probably a lot of somethings. She adjusts her shades and reaches down for her shovel and then continues to explain way too much.

"Okay so listen, I don't really know what you're talking about. I was in a graveyard and I found some interesting things, a thermos and I think maybe a jacket, or maybe not. I hired a fella, real nice guy, kept saying ma'am and tipping his hat." She digresses. "I digest. Anyway, his dog did the sniffing and kept wanting to dig, so I came back with a shovel, a few times actually not quite sure what I'm looking for." She points the shovel a few yards away. "I'm just sort of like I dunno, digging." She looks at the blonde as if that explains everything. Explains anything. Probably by now at least the girl has a measure of just what she's dealing with.

It explains plenty.

"Your friend, Jezebel Faiblesse," Bulleta softly says. She doesn't try to interject into Naerose's explanation any further than that, but she /does/ attempt to edge closer and loop her arms loosely around one of the Witch's.

"Maybe you knew her as 'Lightning Spangles'...?" is her response to the look that follows the other woman's logic. "She's the one you're looking for, with your dogs, and your nice men... right?"

She finally lets her eyes drop from Naerose's again, chewing her lip as if struggling to keep something dangerous from slipping free--

"What's--" Bulleta swallows, hard. "What's /your/ name?" she wonders, flicking her eyes back up. "Mine's-- you can call me 'B.B.'. All this trouble, just to /find/ her..." Her eyes rove over the tools, the broom, and the emptiness surrounding them.

"... you're a /really/ good friend, whoever you are."

"Oh I don't know what that is, Lightening Spangles? What even is a spangle. Let alone a lightening one. I'm Naerose, Naerose Delphine, nice to meet you umm, B.B." She looks around the emptiness and the things she brought and doesn't look like she thinks that it is that much work. She does take what she is being told for face value. B.B. is a child and children do not lie, therefore..

"That's right, I am looking for her. So I think what I need to do is dig, but I think that metal detector will help me figure out where. " She reaches down to the metal detector and holds it over the ground, "See it's nifty, when you find metal it beeps, that's where I dig, so far I've found an old can, empty unfortunately, and a bottle cap and even a coin!" She starts to wave it around the ground.

"So, umm, B.B. If you arn't here with your parents and you're here," Naerose looks back at her, "I mean to say, why are you here? Because I'm pretty certain that is really weird." As naive as Naerose appears, she seems to be capable of putting some things together. There isn't an ounce of suspiscion yet, but she is looking at the child as if waiting, expecting her to make some sense of what she's said so far.

The blonde's eyes narrow as Naerose tries to make sense of Jezebel's stage name. The smaller woman's confused, to say the least; all those /other/ details were there, but the /name/ trips her up...?

But who's B.B. to judge, really? Gradually, her bemused gaze falls to watch the metal detector demonstration and softens. Why is she /here/...? She tried to explain, but-- Naerose can hardly be blamed if she couldn't make sense of a lonesome girl's ramblings after who knows how long in the desert, right?

"I wanted to find Li-- Jez-- -- out mutual, hoedown-having friend too, because... ... well..."

Again, she pins her lip down to hold whatever wants to come out at bay, but--

"... do you even know what's in that thermos you found, Naerose...?" is whispered. Bulleta doesn't look up.

"Just-- well-- how much did you /know/ about her?"

"Oh, right to look for her," Naerose replies, as if that makes sense, but then asks, "But why here? I must be close if two of us came to the came to the same place." She resumes her efforts of finding something with her metal detector and occasionally starting to dig here or there. Meanwhile she speaks to B.B. mind you over her shoulder.

"What is inside? Well I guess I thought it was probably food. Like hot chocolate or feel good soup. I mean, what else do you put in a thermos, but I couldn't quite get it opened, yet. I'll try again later, I thought maybe I would just ask, but, maybe not."

She doesn't look thrilled to be doing the work of digging, but then who can she ask, the little girl? Despite knowing better she does cast a look or two over as if she wants to ask her to lend a hand. She doesn't though. She strains, and oh god is it hot out here. Well it probably won't be for long, supposedly deserts get cold. She read that somewhere. You don't have to be a mind reader to tell her attention is wandering.

The Red Witch pulls out a water bottle that is mostly empty and drinks some before tucking it away in her hat.

"Oh I don't know," She replies to B.B. "But I always got a nice feeling from her like, she wasn't mean to me or anything. I don't think I know much about her though."

Bulleta draws back; one hand, then the other disappears beneath her cloak.

"Her last known whereabouts were here, right? Not-- not /here/-here, but in Arizona-- maybe two, three hours from here...? And the /blood/..."

The diminutive blonde shivers. Her eyes are tilted down into the enshrouding, dimly lit circle of her cloak.

"If the rumors /are/ true, and she's-- /gone/, well... why /wouldn't/ she be out here, right? /Somewhere/..."

What's in the thermos...?

Bulleta lets the question - /their/ question, now - hang in the air for another thirty seconds before holding her hand out to show the other woman a phone screen.

"Do you know what sarin is...?" she softly wonders as footage of its horrific aftermath - men, women, children of all ages convulsing, cough-- /dying/ in field triage units - plays out. "It's a nerve gas, it's-- i-it's-- it's /horrible/, I--"

She doesn't let it play for more than ten, fifteen seconds before hastily killing the screen and clutching it to her chest.

"When she told me she /stole/ a /thermos/ of it, I-- I had to see what it did, and it's..." Shaking her head quickly, she fixes her eyes budding with tears to Naerose's.

"Our... /friend/, Jezebel, I-- I was one of her biggest fans-- her /friend/, I /thought/... and then she stole that /gas/, and when I-- god, I /balked/, she /left/-- she /disappeared/, she..."

Bulleta doesn't bother saying what happened after that, because they both know what it is they're looking for, out here in the Sonoran.

"I... don't think /either/ of us knew her as well as we /thought/ we did, Naerose..."

It is a decision point. How will Naerose react to being treated with a harsh reality? One that is very much not safe for children. Children like B.B. for the playing of the video she is silent. The expression on her face is not exactly somber, in fact it is very unexpressive. The horror on the screen doesn't play to her eyes, or at least it isn't visible. Instead the black shades reflect the screen back as the witch just stares silently until the video stops. Who can say how much of that the witch actually understood, followed. She starts digging somewhere.

"Wow, a kid like you should like totally not be watching that." She remarks, without any emotion, just continues the digging.

"I dunno anything about that. Sarin or whatever, anyway, I don't like have the thermos right now anyway." Naerose casts some dirt aside, every word is punctuated by slowly getting deeper into the hole. Perhaps she is trying to occupy herself with work until her remarkably forgetable mind can lose whatever B.B. said to her. Can anyone say if she is entirely with it enough to think of that. More sand is cast aside.

"I gave the thermos to my friend Lily. " Naerose says and smears a little dust on her forehead from the work of digging the hole. "Mmm, usually I find something by now." She thinks aloud.

"It's not really about the thermos," Bulleta murmurs, drifting towards Naerose's side so that it falls right into the descending witch's ear. "It's about what /she/ wanted with it-- god, Naerose, she--"

The little murderer in red glances aside and wraps her arms tightly around herself. The Huntress isn't any more ready to give up on digging than Naerose is. The Witch seems /eccentric/, and forgetful, and removed... but she also seems - so /far/, at least - inclined to listen to her. As long as /that's/ the case, Bulleta's happy to dig and dig, to probe for a place in the other woman's psyche where her story - bitter and awful though it may be - might take root.

"She helped the Shadaloo cartel, a-- a criminal /gang/-- kidnap /kids/, /dozens/ of them. And then she felt /bad/ about it-- bad enough to tell /me/, the last time I saw her. I-- I told her she should tell the authorities: the NOL, the police... /anyone/; do you wanna know what she told /me/...?" Cupping a hand around her mouth, Bulleta tries to lean in because the next part's only fit for whispers:

"She didn't wanna go to /jail/, so instead of taking responsibility... she'd just kidnap the kids right /back/. Kidnap them, then if they weren't grateful /enough/, she'd just... she'd /brainwash/ them, 'til they were happy-- 'til they /loved/ her. She stole a /bus/ for this; she stole that /gas/, because she thought she could use it to... to..."

Helpless, flailing gestures cut through the night sky as she edges back. "... /bluff/ them, /scare/ them," bursts out after a couple beats of grasping for understanding, "and she thought I'd /help/ her. I told her they'd just-- they'd /kill/ her, and they'd kill everyone /with/ her, and sh-she..." Her eyes blink rapidly and tears streak down her cheeks. "... she just-- she left /anyway/..."

More decision points. It is once again impossible to tell just what Naerose is thinking. She's digging, faster, faster, faster! The sand going over her shoulder. They say the eyes are a window to the soul, but what if the eyes are just a mirror? Naerose stares at B.B. for a moment, for a while as she speaks, the shoveling. . stops, but then it resumes. Faster than before. The entire time the girl speaks only a reflection from her shades. Often her eyes can be seen over the rims, or around them, this way or that, but now her shades are completely covering her eyes, as if covering her expression. Inscrutible. The hole is getting quite deep. Is she digging in the right place?

"Wow," She starts when the story seems to be coming to an end, "That sounds like real rough, I mean, it is but umm." She seems to be at an utter loss and then manages to say, "I'm sorry she did that to you, that isn't a nice thing to do to someone, to put them through. Like I dunno, a stain or something." Her red dress is brown with dust, brown and oddly a rusty red, the colors of the dust.

"I didn't know." She finally murmurs and then continues, "But.. it turned out okay, for everyone else?" She looks back at B.B. "Cause that's a kind of sad story."

The strain is forgotten but she's moved a lot of dirt, sure a lot of it ended up on her, but a lot is now outside of the hole. Finally she starts to slow, as if the emotional high was dying as if the horror of the story hit a point where now it needs to quiet down, like it is out of energy. She sets the shovel and breaths heavily, heaving.

"I think,.." She starts, "I think I dug in the wrong place."

"Someone rescued the kids, I think-- I /heard/ there were raids, but..."

B.B.'s close enough to the work that she sports several fresh smears of sand, sweat, and dust by the time Naerose begins to slow-- to /pause/.

"Shadaloo probably got their bus back; not the thermos, though, so that's... that's... good, right?" The blonde cracks a small, wan smile.

"I just... I saw that woman, that /new/ Lightning Spangles hosting the King of Fighters, and she-- she looked so /much/ like Jezebel..."

It's not long for this world, of course. This isn't the time or place for smiles of /any/ magnitude, not with death hanging over them. B.B. briefly winces and wrinkles her nose after trailing.

"I... I needed to know whether she was gone or not," she then admits in a small voice. "Because if that's really her-- if she was capable of-- of /that/," of stealing thermoses and children, she indicates with quick, hapless sweeps of her hands, "... /before/ whatever happened, just... just /imagine/ what she might be capable of /now/." Her arms curl right back in so she can hold herself through a bout of shivering, then one hand comes out, reaches up--

-- pauses--

B.B. bites her lip for a second--

"If she really /is/ gone, though" she murmurs, reaching for-- trying to squeeze Naerose's shoulder, "then maybe it's better to just... /leave/ her gone-- leave her /be/, y'know...? What good does it /do/, seeing her like-- /however/ she is, now?"

A long pause then. Finally Naerose turns to B.B. and says, "So umm, I may not be an expert of much," she says sounding perfectly serious and her shades still completely reflective. "You can't have it both ways, having cake and eating it to, things like never work that way, you either have to know or you don't. You can't both know and not know, so.. you either dig or you don't dig." She looks like she is done digging. She pulls herself out of the whole and sits on the side, "Woah this is a lot of work."

Though it is the desert, at night the tempature drops and it is starting to do that right now. It's getting colder and the sun is going away, frankly doing any sort of digging will become very quickly a waste of time, it's getting harder to see especially with shades on.

"Well, whatever you decide, you'll have a night to think it over cause I'm pretty sure the time has passed for today huh." She drags herself toward her stuff and sure enough, there is a 'tent' in there. A real survivalist tent though, it's mostly just a plastic sheet and a couple sticks, literally.

"So.. ahh, where are you.. I mean do you have a place to go , cause you probably should."

"Some things just... they aren't /worth/ digging for," B.B. softly suggests. "Maybe we /think/ they are, but they're just-- blood, sweat, tears, and disappointment."

The last is murmured as she looks down and brushes some of the dust from her clothes. Naerose gets all the room she could want as she climbs out of the hole because the blonde's shifting away. She watches the Witch claim her things, only to glance aside with a small shrug when she's pressed on her lodging arrangements. "I have a tent, yeah - just in /case/, you know - but otherwise..."

The desert gets a forlorn look, then she turns a shy smile towards Naerose.

"You wouldn't mind if I just pitched it /here/, would you? I mean," her eyes flick away as soft, nervous chuckling slips out, "what /are/ the odds we'd both be out here, looking for the same person...? It'd be nice to not be alone out here, right?"

Silence. Tumble weed and probably the distaint wail of a banshee. Actually it's just a coyote, but to Naerose who is like suddenly alert with fear it's totally a banshee. She responds like someone who is an adult in that they are grown up and look an adult, but the courage of a.. well, something smaller than B.B., since that is the one she seems to think will make this less scary.

"Oh no, .. way, that's totally fine, like no reason to be afraid of anything, I'm not afraid, so you shouldn't be afraid either." She adjusts her shades that probably do not help at all with the waning light.

"Say," She starts, with what is probably a dumb question, "Did you bring any food? Lily stole my Thermos which I was hoping to.. " Weren't they just talking about Thermoses and in fact isn't the one she was talking about full of deadly gas? Well maybe that thought crosses her mind because her words stop to a brief thoughtful silence.

"You know what, nevremind." She says and absently brings her shovel a few spaces over before planting it into the ground.

"I brought a few things..."

There's that picnic basket dangling from the crook of her arm, half covered by the cloak...

B.B.'s more interested in the shovel, though. Naerose herself seems to remember what's in the thermos, so there's no need for a reminder; there's just the promise of more digging.

"I figured I might /be/ a while out here... ... hey..." Her eyes flick from the metal point planted in the ground towards reflective lenses, thoughtfully narrowed. Her lips twist around the beginnings of-- something-- an apology?-- then flatten out as she swallows it.

"... look, I-- I know it's probably /personal/, but I /really/ have to wonder, just-- what-- what do /you/ want with her...? All that /trouble/ -- you hired /dogs/! -- for someone who's... I mean, /probably/... ... why?"

It was a question. A good question. So much of what Naerose does is probably done without even a moment of consideration. No thought, no idea why or what she is up to just ill advised action. Sweet sweet ill advised action. She leans against the shovel and thinks on that for a moment.

"I dunno," she says with her attention wandering, likely, like her mind. Somehow, the question isn't lost and nor does she stop answering it, but the answer is spoken in a sort of meandering voice.

"I hadn't thought about her or anything, but then there was this news report and it was a really good news report."

Pause. . .

"And for the first time in a while I had a sense of purpose. I couldn't even tell you what I had been doing before that." She licks her dry and dusty lips before saying, "I thought maybe I could ressurect that sense of purpose," literlly not figuratively.

"So here I am." Consequences be danged.

An absent-minded witch is still a witch. Bulleta's eyes keep narrowing when the Witch talks about 'resurrecting' her purpose-- rote metaphorical language from any /other/ set of lips, but from those...?

It's hard to say; she's a witch.

"But you're not the mean, monster-loving kind of witch, right?" the blonde tentatively asks. "You're the kind who can help lost kids find their parents...! You're-- you're a /good/ witch, so..."

Impassioned though her theorizing may be, B.B. runs out of steam and winds up staring down at her feet in pretty short order.

"... just... as hard as I know it must've been to /hear/, I hope you'll keep the truth about Jezebel in mind, y'know? Is it really-- is /she/ worth all this trouble? That /devotion/...?"

Pause. Thought. "Well, I dunno." Naerose replies after a long moment. "So like most of my magic is all destroyee and stuff. So like, I dunno. I guess hurting people is not nice." She states, but then shrugs again. "I watched this movie though, called the Iron Giant and it was really cool, with cars and jets and some explosions oh and an Iron Giant and that stuck with me." There is probably a relevance here, but Naerose does not spell it out. Instead she continues.

"Anyway, this isn't trouble, not really, I mean, it's kind of fun when you think about it. Treasure hunting and tombs and and raiding and traveling and seeing cool things and not really meeting many people, but that's okay too. I mean, I'm not sure if I have anything better to be doing right now. You know?"

Maybe there is a message that isn't quite getting through.


There's a pause, because by rights, B.B. should have to think about this. An admission like Naerose's borders on being an invitation, though, the kind Bulleta tries to keep herself ready for.

"... the news report you saw," she begins, shuffling towards the witch so she doesn't have to raise her voice too high. "Are you talking about the King of Fighters announcement? Because that-- whoever that was kinda /looks/ like our friend, and kinda /sounds/ like her, but I don't think it /is/, and-- well..."

Another, wary pause as the blonde clenches her jaw and fights to keep her eyes set on the Witch.

"... if /anyone/ could get to the bottom of /that/... it'd be a nice witch like you, right?"

"Get to the bottom of, who is behind the King of Fighters?" Naerose asks, looknig perplexed.

A looooonnng pause. She seems to be thinking, the gears are turning in her head and then she asks B.B.
"But you're saying that it would be easier to do that, then to keep digging holes here? Woudlnt' that like answer the question too? Unless you're trying to answer another question."

"Okay, so umm, what exactly.. do you think I should do? "

It looks like just maybe B.B. will get her way. The Red Witch, though apparently looking lost about what to do, could use maybe a nudge and off she'll go in another direction. Sure this is the way she's been used in the past to fulfill the aims of other people but..

A painfully long pause finally ends, and B.B. finally remembers to breathe.

"All you're gonna find out here is a dead body," she softly says. "If you're /lucky/. And what'll that tell you about who's trying to exploit her memory...? /Nothing/." Once she's close enough, she sets her hand on Naerose's, around the shovel handle.

"She was your friend, whatever /else/ she was," B.B. continues. "Seeing her... like she is /now/, what'll /that/ do for you? If-- god, even if she /could/ be brought back... you /know/ what she /is/, now... would that really be safe? So-- I mean-- what do /I/ think you should do...? Don't let /whoever/ is using her image ruin the memory of her any more than-- well, than /she/ did, by breaking down so badly at the end...!" Life flares bit by bit 'til blue eyes burn with determination. She /squeezes/ tight against the Witch's hand--

"Shadaloo, the Mishima Zaibatsu... the NESTS Cartel... there're all /kinds/ of awful people who could be behind exploiting who she was, Naerose. Instead of spending our time digging around out here, trying to put the past to rest... maybe we oughtta worry about /them/, and what they're planning for the future, that they feel this-- this /need/ to abuse her memory."

"I don't know who any of those people are, " Naerose admits and then looks down at the shockingly wise little girl, a red flag if ever there was one but of course, completely missed by the Red Witch.

"Can you be more specific with what I should do? Cause, I mean, I know what you are saying, but you see I'm here already with a shovel and it would be a lot easier to just stay the course, you know? I mean you don't know who or what or even any leads at all about what is going on with this?"

A moment passes, the witch takes her shades off, but you don't get to see her eyes, because she closes them. She takes a moment to wipe them off on the weird detatched sleeve thing of her dress. It's a weird outfit. She puts her shades back on.

"Like, if you were thinking all that why come here? What sort of clue were you hoping to find?"

"I just wanted to know if she was really dead," B.B. quietly replies.

"I wanted to make /sure/," she admits, quieter still.

She doesn't look up at Naerose again until the witch is done wiping her eyes, because she made a point of politely looking away while the other woman took a moment to care for herself. "Look into the Atelier Health corporation," she offers once she's looking into mirrorshades again. "Poke around the high schools in Southtown-- the NESTS cartel tried to use Atelier Health to get blood and DNA samples out of the schools, a few years ago, so anyone who was student then... It was /awful/; there were men with guns everywhere." She quickly shakes her head while her eyes wince shut.

"All I really know about them is-- I mean, there were /rumours/ after the school stuff, you know? So. Not /much/, just-- they're hiding some /serious/ tech, and a couple of their agents - one named Whip, another named Angel - moonlight as pro fighters, sometimes... and Whip was one of Jezebel's-- /Lightning Spangles'/-- /biggest/ fans."

The blonde halts there as a fresh look of dismay twists her features. Whip's fandom is a matter of public record: she declared it in the middle of a Golden Angel tournament match, minutes before lashing the actress' face viciously enough to leave the ragged scars she died with.

This is as good a time as any to let things sink in, to give the Witch a chance to understand.

"There's-- /something/ weird, there," she eventually murmurs with a slight shrug. "I dunno /anything/ about the Mishima Zaibatsu, really-- they've got an entertainment division, and they're /shady/, but..." The blonde bites her lip for an apologetic moment. Her hand disappears beneath the cloak, and so does the basket.

"Shadaloo had - has? - operations in Mexico," she says while rummaging beneath draped red, "so if you wanted to-- I dunno, do some destruction magic at some criminals down there, maybe they could tell you stuff about 'em...?" Her fingers graze over an apple, a liquor bottle... "They've probably got people pretending to be normal fighters too-- it seems like, just, every other fighter /out/ there is secretly a cop, or a criminal, or-- or a /werewolf/, or--" The girl's shoulders shake as she pushes out a heavy sigh.

"Sorry! I just-- sorry."

She sticks her hand out of the cloak so she can pair a penitent look with a couple of granola bars. One's studded with chocolate chips.

"That's just so many wildly different possible leads though right, I mean.. did you umm, like totally just name all of the bad organizations that you know of?" The Red Witch adjusts her shades as she stares at the blonde, but the effect is lost, it is gotten dark and .. and there is food. Her attention is drawn toward the chocolate chips, so abruptly that she just can't tear her eyes away.

Her mouth waters, she licks her lips, she considers something and then says,

"Lets say, you wanted to umm, like .. find the truth and you needed more people to help you do it.. because there is a lot of umm, ground you just mentioned and.." She seems to be formulating a little thought in her little witchy brain.

"What would it be worth to you ? I mean to have a little extra help?"

Pause a moment. Reflect. This is a grown woman talking to a child and trying to shake her down for money. Is there shame? No, but then from the way they were talking you'd think the adult was the kid and vice versa.

"There are, just-- a /lot/ of bad people out there, and some of 'em had ties to her..." B.B. murmurs, looking further and further down the longer those shades stay fixed on her.

So not /very/, thanks to chocolate. Her eyes still remain down, because Naerose follows her quick shift in focus with a tentative grasp at a proposal. "I--" she stammers.

Naerose is a witch, or a woman who believes she's a witch.

Naerose is forgetful. She seems very credulous; she isn't /stupid/, but she's /strange/. She seems careful to keep herself hidden behind those shades...

Somehow, she got /this/ close to Jezebel's body by sheer chance.

She seems to be a fan of chocolate.

She's /persistent/...

What's Naerose worth to her?

"-- I don't have /much/, but I've got some fight purse money saved up," she slowly, softly says. "A few hundred-- it'd buy a /lot/ of snacks, if-- y'know, if that's what you /need/... /anything/ that helps me sort this stuff out so I can just-- move /on/ with my life... I'd appreciate it."

A proposal is made, though the promise of money doesn't seem to move Naerose very much she jumps at the chance of other forms of payments. You know -other- forms of payments. We're talking the real goods, the treats, the snacks.

"I'll take a years supply of Gojo berry chocolate crunch bars and you're on." She can't seriously be.. but then that must have some sort of value, after all, a company makes (probably) this nutty bar, with the dried goji berries mixed in with granola and melted caramel then coated in milk chocolate. A favorite amoungst those who really desperately want to eat a candy bar. . . but feel like they're eating something maybe healthy. It even contains nutritional information that has things like vitamins listed and protein and uses words like daily servings. . .

Of course. . There is 120 grams of sugar per serving which is listed on the package as a quarter bar. But whose counting.

"I'll start looking around umm, lets see, the high schools.. mmmm." She seems to think about this for a moment.

"Probably not the high schools, King of Fighters is a much more grown up type of tournament, right like not a bunch of kids. This isn't Rival Schools."

She paces off a few steps lost in thought.

"Deal," the blonde replies once she's killed the smile that couldn't help flickering across her lips.

Maybe she'll just keep things simple, the next time she needs to buy a candy-loving witch's service...

"That stuff with the schools, with Atelier Health... it's the only time NESTS has ever done anything /public/, that anyone knows of. Whatever they're doing /now/ probably doesn't involve students, but if you wanna find people who know anything about 'em..." B.B. suggests as she lifts her eyes to the lenses. "Whatever you think is best, though; you're the witch! Though-- it might be a good idea to stay in touch, right?"

"Oh right, because you need to know where to deliver the Goji berry crunch. " She rubs her hands together, clearly excited at the prospect of getting the berry chocolate goodness.

"Here," She fiddles in her hat until she finds a piece of paper that used to be a coupon and a crayon. She writes a phone number on it, imagine that, she has a phone.

"This is like totally how you can call me." She passes the paper over to B.B.

"And you've gotta be able to keep me posted on what you find out," B.B. casually adds. "I'll make sure you get your first box soon, but for now..."

There really is a tent. It's a densely folded square of plastic tucked into the basket, a necessity for someone who spends as much time staking out strange places as she does. She doesn't seem concerned with it for the moment as she sticks a hand into the basket again, rummages...

"I've got some /non/ chocolate-bearing fruit, but I'm guessing," she says while trading the paper for a granola bar with a jam filling, "that that's not really your thing, is it?"

The coupon/phone number disappears into her cloak and she follows her question with a set of digits. After thinking about it for a second, she decides to just grab a marker and a sheet of notebook paper to write it down for the Witch-- so she's /sure/ the other woman has it.

"We'll worry about all that business stuff tomorrow, yeah? Tonight, let's just... focus on staying warm, and how lucky we are to not be out here /alone/. I brought a couple packets of curry! We can share..."

Log created on 15:22:56 06/18/2019 by Bulleta, and last modified on 18:23:58 06/21/2019.