Description: While her fellow soldiers wage open war against the monsterous hordes, Corporal Renka has found herself saddled with less glorious but equally important tasks. After retrieving a handful of strange collars from a group of fallen dark stalkerrs, she has been ordered to further investigate the source of these attacks by tracing a weak signal that was able to be isolated from their heavily encrypted circuitry. The trail takes her to the edge of the city this time, somewhere along the coastline. Unfortunately, her meddling has been noticed and the only thing awaiting her at the beach is more trouble.
Corporal Renka Kaneko had returned to the NOL's Southtown base with the collars in hand. Turning them over to the Intelligence division to investigate, she took time to clean up and change uniforms out of the cat-scratched bloody mess she showed up in. Waiting to hear back on whether her clues would lead the investigation anywhere, she busied herself with the paperwork that was supposed to accompany and reinforce any combat actions in the field.
Filing her preliminary summary in the system with an overview of the enemies encountered, clues uncovered, and lethal outcome of the battle, she turned to filling in the far more detailed, lengthy report that would document every part of her adventure. She never failed to follow through on the reports even though she had gotten the impression that many of her fellow soldiers had found no consequences for being less than diligent in doing so.
Leaning back from the computer terminal she had been typing away at, she stretches her arms over her head, re-reading her report. Frowning a little, the supernatural soldier leans forward, fingers tapping away as she makes some important edits. She changes the report to downplay the injuries she suffered... after all, the catscratched kitsune looked bloody but barely injured by the time she got back to the base. Then she goes on to remove any mention of having taken the final feline's soul to restore her own strength.
Leaning back, she reviews the report a final time, nodding in satisfaction that her edits removed anything that would draw undue attention to her supernatural endurance or methods of restoring her stamina in an emergency.
Submitting the report, she has some time to wander by the cantina, the facility open around the clock as the entire Southtown base is in full alert status.
Thirty minutes later and she's back in the Major's office, the tall man in a black uniform decorated with several ribbons of distinguished service holding a paper copy of her report in his hand.
Standing at attention in front of her temporary commanding officer, Renka waits quietly, expecting him to take a while to go over the report in detail. But by the time he finishes scanning the front page summary, he's lowered his arm, studying the darkstalker openly.
"Killed all four, huh?" questions the Major.
The Corporal nods her head, "Yes sir. But as you will see in the full report, I followed the protocols for-"
The Intelligence Division Major waves his hand, cutting her off, tossing the stack of papers aside on his desk, clearly not caring to waste time deliberating whether her kills were within compliance with signed accords between the NOL and Japan.
"The geeks downstairs found something on those collars." The man reaches to his desk and picks up a small device with a small screen and one button below the display. He tosses it underhandedly toward Renka who pulls her hands from behind her back to catch it quickly, looking down at the tracker with a blink.
"They whipped up a device for following the signal those collars were putting off. Kept it simple so even you can handle it. Find out what's at the other end of it."
Renka glances back and forth between the Major and the tracker, the slight at her ability to manipulate it seeming to roll right off her back.
The Major watches the fox's glances for a few seconds before his expression hardens, brow furrow, "Dismissed, Corporal!"
Renka blinks, snapping a quick salute, "Yes sir!" And then quickly begins to back toward the closed door behind her. Turning to reach for the handle, she hears the growling man's voice as he sinks down into the chair behind his desk.
Renka glances over her shoulder.
"Good work tonight. We're counting on you."
The fox-tailed soldier perks up, eyes widening, mouth starting to twist into a smile. "Yes-"
"Now get to it!" the Major demands, cutting off any reply as she quickly escapes into the hall outside his office.
The device is as simple as promised. Pressing down the button activated a dim display with an indicator of approximate direction to go. The signal was too weak to be precise at this distance, but hopefully if she managed to find her way closer to the source, it could get more accurate.
Unlike her last trip from the base that took her East into the heart of the metropolis, this time Renka finds herself headed southwest, toward the coast. Starting with her issued small four-door white sedan, she checks the tracker periodically as it leads her ever closer to the shore...
It has been one week since first this most recent of nightmares has been unleashed upon Southtown. While the city has seen more than its fair share of troubles in the past decade, no threat has until now managed to actually place the citizenry under direct siege. Even the mighty army of Gears led by Justice were repelled at the border before the head was cut off of that proverbial snake. This attack, however, was far more insidious, striking without warning or time to prepare.
The aftermath of only a single week is nothing short of devastating. Thousands of citizens and defenders both lie dead in the streets, their corpses rotting and abandoned alongside the fallen monstrosities that laid them low. While the ever-present aura of smog that lingers over any large metropolis would normally be the most prominent scent lingering in the air, it has been replaced by a cloying miasma of sickly-sweet putrescence - the scent of death, carried by the wind to every corner of the city.
Those tasked with defending Southtown against these demons believe that the worst of the slaughter has already passed. The ambush, while devastating, was not a fatal blow. Indeed, it seemed like the beasts were all but completely mindless in their rampage, targeting the weak and helpless rather than focus on military installations or strategic stockpiles or production centers. Though hard pressed to establish defensive checkpoints, the magical might of the NOL supported by local PDF was more than capable of blockading the feral creatures away from the evacuation shelters in less than fourty-eight hours, their efforts bolstered by the heroic actions of individual fighters.
If this was meant to be the opening salvo in an act of war it was very poorly executed. But all evidence points away from such a thing. Multiple sources have confirmed that the creatures, despite appearances, are following commands. The high-tech collars retrieved from the corpses revealed the unpleasant truth upon being examined - tracking devices, obviously, but also emitters of a sort designed to broadcast high-frequency noise that has yet undiscovered effects on the mind of those wearing it. The only conclusion to be drawn from this data is that the attacks were intentionally directed at the helpless citizenry by some unknown hand.
This wasn't the first strike of a brand new war - it was an act of deliberate and barbaric terrorism.
Of course, such information is being kept hidden for the moment. The soldiers in the field and the citizens who managed to escape to shelter have enough on their minds without having to worry about some sinister hand moving in the shadows directing their foes towards some mysterious goal. Better they direct their anger towards the obvious threat; no one at the NOL is going to shed any tears for fresh tensions with the dark stalkers, after all. If anything, this may prove to be the catalyst needed to spur the world into action against their extra-dimensional new neighbors.
But none of that is the corporal's concern at the moment. Instead, the quickly assembled tracking device directs her attention to the south where a tangible goal potentially lies within reach. The signal that it follows is quite weak. Either the NOL's device isn't able to key into properly or someone is actively jamming the attempt. Either way, the kitsune is forced to take a meandering path through the abandoned streets, her progress slowed considerably by frequent impediments such as streets blocked off by abandoned vehicles or the odd groups of dark stalkers feasting on the carrion.
Fortunately, it seems that the creatures have little interest in harassing her vehicle, lacking perhaps the weight of numbers to confidently challenge the metal carriage to a game of chicken. By the time she has managed to zero in on something closer to a solid signal the majority of the day has burned away. The sky is an orange smear of pastel color as the sun begins its daily journey down towards the horizon. The brilliance of the afternoon light is muted by a thin coating of clouds that stretch out across the heavens like a layer of gauze. It doesn't look like there's any threat of rain but whatever light remains in the day won't last much longer.
To her left, the Southtown boardwalk stretches out along the coast, a thin snaking line of gift shops, strip malls, and restraunts meant to cater to the thriving tourism. Like the rest of the city, the once bustling thoroughfare is little more than a desolate shell of its former self. Not even the ghosts linger here to rattle the windows and whisper haunting cries into the wind. And ahead of her lies the destination she seeks - Sound Beach.
In the light of the obscured sun the almost snow-white sand of the famous beach seems to glow a faint orange as if attempting to mirror the moon's lust for its celestial illumination. Despite the breath-taking visual, the scenery is wasted on the current crisis. Not a soul moves among the sand. Even the birds seem to have been drawn elsewhere, likely enjoying the greatest feast of their lives in the corpse-strew streets. The sight is beautiful but also silent and eerie, like an old dust-covered painting hanging from the wall of an abandoned mansion, a tiny vision of utopia surrounded by stale air and creaking boards.
The signal is most certainly coming from the beach, though even this close the device fails to provide anything other than a general direction towards the sandy crescent. Somewhere down there, among the lapping waves and loney sun chairs, is what she seeks.
Renka had seen the undercurrent of distrust for darkstalkers building amid the soldiers she worked with. Though the ranks of the NOL were littered with animal-eared or otherworldly inhuman allies, they were an extreme minority of the organization's overall membership. Renka had always made every effort to fit in, to be supportive of the soldiers she worked with... indeed, some of her slowly growing collection of medals were directly linked to her putting her own life at risk to protect her human comrades.
But even though she had more than won over most who worked with her during her time with the Librarium, her sharp ears could pick up on things murmured by others around the base about the darkstalker invasion and more than once, she caught a suspicious stare out of the corner of her eyes before deploying back out into the field this late afternoon. Driving along, it's difficult to maintain speed with all the obstacles present in the streets. But while she felt a sense of urgency in helping uncover the truth behind the attacks, the fox-eared Corporal also appreciated the time alone with her thoughts.
Now and then she'd slow to a stop to fiddle with the tracker, studying the indicator provided for a while, always trying to discern whether she was getting closer or veering away from whatever was to be found at the other end. The science behind the tracker was a mystery to her. While she had grown as comfortable with modern devices as any mainstream consumer, the underworkings of it all generally defied her comprehension, not that she had ever put too much effort into figuring it out. And this device only had the all of one button to hold, so it wasn't exactly inviting of curious tinkering anyway.
She stops the nondescript white sedan when she finally decides that the only way to satisfy the demands of the indicator is to move off the paved road. Exiting the vehicle, she holds the tracker up, button pressed - all signs point to the beach it seems, rather than something hidden in the vacant markets around her.
At least she doesn't have to try breaking into the buildings to find her target... But the openness of the beach is none too inviting either. She was a creature of the old forests, where cover was abundant, the shadows plentiful, and the places to hide without number. The sun-painted sands of the shore ahead of her offered none of that, and the openness of the beach was far more unsettling to her than the vacated shops lining it.
Moving onto the sand leaves the uniformed darkstalker feeling exposed, ears flicking every which way, nose paying sharp attention to anything she can pick up against the interference of the salt water mists, of the decaying of food wafting from the abandoned restaurants, of the rotting dead of those who's bodies had still been neglected even a week out from the attacks.
Yet in spite feeling far too open, the beach was marked with plenty of places she couldn't see. While many of the umbrellas had tipped over or been driven along the coast by the ever-present sea breeze, several still stood, leaning hard into the sand. Again she glances down to the device in her hand, thumb pressing against the button. What, exactly, was the source of the signal? There was no sign of a base of operations here, was there?
Without hordes of people teeming about on the beach the cold sea breeze carries with it the undiluted scent of brine from the deeps. Combined with the ever-present reek of death festering in the sunlight, it doesn't make for a particularly pleasant bouquet. More importantly, the heavy mask of salt makes it difficult to pick out other smells that might be lingering in the air, effectively dulling one of her early warning systems against danger.
As she has been keen to notice, the beach is not without its own nooks and crannies. In addition to the large umbrellas meant to shield relaxing tourists from the sun, a handful of stalls lie scattered around the sands, places for vendors to hawk overpriced gifts and unhealthy food. Each of them represents a potential hiding place for danger. Yet without inspecting every single one of them one by one, it's impossible to proceed completely certain in the knowledge that nothing lurks in their shadows, for no single path exists that doesn't expose her flanks or rear to one potential threat or another.
The tracking device does little to improve the situation. If anything, it seems to be conspiring with the unfavorable terrain, insisting that she move directly into the center of the mass of suspicious obstacles with soft but persistent beeps that grow steadily more excited the deeper she wades into danger.
It doesn't take long before an obvious target presents itself. Nestled right in the center of the wide expanse of sand, a single circular structure towers above the rest, though 'towers' is a matter of perspective. A single crescent shaped counter surrounded on its exterior with cushioned stools marks the building as an open air bar. Several rows of colored bottles line the shelves arranged on the wall behind the counter, each one marked with an overly fancy label proclaiming various brands of cheap liquor. Drawing nearer to the building would spark an enthusiastic uptick in the device's already steady chirping. Whatever she's looking for is probably inside.
At a distance, the bar offers an unpleasant amount of danger. A pair of doors leading into a back room give any potential ambusher a perfect place to wait. The counter itself blocks her view to the interior such that she might be jumped by an unseen attacker the moment she draws within range. Without electricity, whatever lights might have illuminated the interior of the hollow egg-like structure lie dormant, creating a disturbing array of darkened shadows large enough to be a form of concealment all their own.
And, as if to taunt her, a small box lies sitting on the seat of the centermost stool, neatly wrapped in black paper and bundled with a bright red ribbon.
Corporal Kaneko has only the guidance of the tracker to point the way as nothing her eyes stray across serves as a clue as to the signal's source. Grunting softly, she moves out onto the sand, her steps soft against the fine grains, leaving the brooding structures behind her as she embraces the open stretch of coast.
The soldier makes a concerted effort to not be too focused on the device, glancing down at it only between cautious sweeps of her surroundings, vain sniffs of the air, and pausing to listen. Though the steady wind of the shore serves to foil her sense of hearing as well, the rustle of wind across her upright ears causing more interference than she would ever have experienced in a calm forest night.
While she doesn't want to feel rushed, there is too much urgency to her mission to methodically search every shadow, every unseen corner between the sidewalk and the lapping waves. She will simply have to move with caution and trust in her skills.
The will of the tracker becomes indisputable eventually, the fox-tailed fighter studying the beach bar with a faint frown. Canting her head to the side, left hand resting at her hip. Rows of bottles catch the last of the light but the labels hold no interest for her as she finally resolves to move closer, double checking her tracker and then leaving it off once the signal's source can no longer be of any doubt.
She doesn't realize she's been holding her breath for some time as she quietly moves in closer, eyes sweeping over the structure looking for anything like an antenna or other electronics that would suggest that the bar was more than it appeared, but it's the box that catches her attention at last.
Blinking at first with surprise, a frown works its way across her features as she steps closer, coming up next to the stool and staring down at the beribboned container. Eyes narrow, the fox's teeth grit as the truth of her discovery takes hold. She wasn't sneaking up to catch someone off guard, she wasn't on the verge of uncovering a major breakthrough... someone wanted her to find this, wanted her to end up here.
Her right hand clenches and the audible crunch of broken plastic is audible as she crushes the tracker and drops it to the sand. She'll have to file that away under lost equipment in the report later.
Facing the box there was no choice but to investigate it. She knew it was deliberately left her and that the chances of it leading her anywhere remotely useful were nonexistent, but she couldn't simply turn away either. She would always be left wondering...
Bracing herself, she kicks her foot out from the limit of her reach, knocking the stool and the box on it toward the open sands outside of the bar, clearly testing to see if violently jostling it triggers anything.
Only if that proved uneventful would she move closer, drawing her sword to slice the ribbon at arm's length before using the tip of her sword to poke into the paper wrapping and seek to open it, expression maintaining a scowl of annoyance that after all this, there doesn't seem to be much to show for their efforts besides lost time!
Despite her worries that the strange package might be some sort of trapped explosive, the box fails to detonate at her rough handling, instead merely tipping over to land with a heavy thud in the sand. Obviously whatever is inside has some weight to it. The ribbon and paper slices away easily beneath the sharp edge of her weapon revealing a nondescript cardboard box underneath the wrapping, the sort used for shoes and jewelry. It offers no resistance when she flips it open to reveal the contents.
The inside of the box is lined with a layer of soft red cloth upon which rests two objects. The first is a small piece of black plastic, roughly the size and shape of a portable radio. A handful of colored LEDs blink on the front of it and the unmistakable slender protrusion of a rubber-encased antenna protrudes an inch or two up from the side; the source of the signal, no doubt.
The second object, however, is far more worrying. Nestled carefully around the transmitter is a familiar loop of black steel - the very same type of collar that she had retrieved from the slain cats. While those had been devoid of any sort of markings or identification, the exterior of this collar sports several extra silver chains that dangle down across the front, serving no clear purpose save to liken the choker to a piece of jewelry. And, very clearly engraved in large elegant calligraphy font across the center plate, is a single word.
"Do you like it?"
A voice that sounds like rough gravel being churned with a bucket of glass rumbles out to grind against her senses from within the darkened interior of the bar. Despite her supernatural senses, the speaker remains unable to be seen for a handful of seconds until the shadows seem to congeal into the shape of a towering furred beast.
The werewolf that strides into her view is massive, at least seven or eight feet tall. Unlike his feral cousins running rampant in the city, he is clearly in command of his own mind, though another of the dull black collars is visible beneath the scruff of wild fur at his neck if one looks close enough. A leather bandolier encircles his torso, dozens of tiny loops along its surface filled with oversized shotgun shells in red and green casings; ammunition for the equally huge sawed-off double-barrel boomstick resting in a holster on his hip.
"My master had it made specially for you... Corporal Renka Kaneko of the Librarium."
The great beast smiles at her, lips peeling back from a wolfish snout to reveal rows of dagger-sharp teeth stained black from use. He offers no immediately hostile action towards her, despite having the clear advantage of surprise. Her attention had been so intimately focused on the box that he likely could have struck her without warning at all. Yet, it would be impossible to mistake his choice not to exploit that option as good will. Every word drips with open condescension and the already thick smell of decay and blood grows substantially in the grizzled predator's presence as if his very soul is stained with death.
Ears perk forward a the thud of the box in the sand, Renka looking about ready to leap behind the bar given the slightest cause for alarm. But it lands inertly and she's left staring at it in silence for several seconds, breath held, before she finally braves moving close enough to cut the ribbon, slicing the paper open, bumping open the folds of the box all at the reach afforded to her by the her sword.
Only when nothing dangerous seems to happen does she finally exhale a long held breath, shoulders falling slightly. Oh well, she thinks to herself. They got toyed with. But at least nothing bad happened...
When she takes a step forward to look down into the open box on the sand, however, the NOL soldier realizes that her relief was premature. The device is noticed first, its blinking LEDs drawing the eye easily. She'll have to turn that over to the techs back at the base, maybe they can make something of it. She certainly won't be able to do anything with it.
But then her eyes flick to the second object occupying the soft red padding and Renka freezes. Even before her eyes fully take in the decorative collar, her stomach feels sick, muscles tensing, breath ceasing once more. But when her eyes trace across her own name emblazoned on the surface, easily visible in the waning sunlight, the blood in her veins freezes.
So blindsided by the discovery, her mind reels to even accept it. Is she dreaming? Is this some twisted dream born of the worry over the attack on Southtown? She takes a step back, wanting to rip her gaze from the box but unable to stop staring at the choker with her name on it.
Slowly, she starts to shake her head, denial of the reality before her wrestling with the truth her senses are telling her - this is no ephemeral nightmare. This is real.
Dozens of thoughts rush through the surprised fox's mind when the voice growls from the shadows. Whirling, right hand going to the grip of her sword, Corporal Kaneko whirls around, eyes glaring into the dark. Her body is tense, leaning forward slightly at the waist, feet planted, knees slightly bent. She's already in a combat ready state, prepared to attack or flee in an instant.
The deadly beast that moves into her view an instant later completely towers over the diminutive kitsune. Renka tilts her face up slightly to take in his fierce visage as his suppressive aura radiates around the two of them. Werewolf. Not just any werewolf, but a huge, monstrous incarnation of the species. Dangerous predators feared by man and darkstalker alike, when it came to brute strength and natural weapons in the forms of claws and teeth, he had the fox-eared soldier beat in every way imaginable.
"H-how thoughtful," Renka manages to force out, the stammer robbing her attempt at a flippant reply some of its bite. "Well," she continues, managing to keep her voice steady now with concerted effort. "You can let her know I won't be needing it."
He would be dangerous enough without the heavy gauge shotgun at his side. Renka had made it this far in her life without having ever been shot by a firearm, but she had seen what the things could do to to people and wasn't about to take the threat lightly.
"How... how did she know?" He may not have specified his Master's gender, but the cats had let it slip. How could this have happened? Was she spied on? Was there someone on the inside? A leak? How far back does their knowledge of her go!?
The burly wolf's feral grin only widens at Renka's obvious disorientation, both at his intimidating arrival and the realization that she is known to the master. His beady eyes slither across the kitsune's body like snakes as she speaks, slowly regarding every inch of her with the intensity of a butcher mentally sectioning up a cow ready to be slaughtered. Thick ropes of spittle drip from the hunter's bared fangs as he literally salivates over the unsavory thoughts running through his mind created by her slender hybrid body. He doesn't actually lick his chops but the comparison to an old cartoon wolf looming over an unsuspecting sheep is easy to draw from his expression.
The sword she bears draws his notice but unlike the ancient fox he holds it in no special regard. He has faced countless foes armed with blade, bow, and gun across his many years stalking the forests of the Makai and none have managed to best him yet. That being said, he isn't a fool. His body bears the marks of countless scars, reminders that being unprepared for danger was as good as inviting it upon himself. He maintains a distance well clear of the reach of the blade, though not so far as to suggest that he is afraid of her; cautious, not cowardly.
"Humans are surprising creatures, I have come to find," he rumbles at her in response to the question. "Though they lack claw or fang and most lack any form of magic, they have created an equally deadly tool in the form of science."
He glances down at the box, jamming a thick taloned finger at the objects resting inside of it.
"Your defeat of the scouts was not unnoticed, nor the removal of their collars. Few have had the insight to make such a discovery. My master..."
He pauses, snout scrunching up for a moment before correcting his words, dropping the mysterious sobriquet since Renka seems to be aware of the Dragon's gender somehow. Stupid gossiping cats and their wagging tongues.
"She commanded that your indentity be uncovered. It was not hard to pick up your scent at the scene of the battle. Once you had returned to your lair, I needed only wait and watch."
A partial truth but enough of one that it shouldn't raise questions. The extent of the Dragon's information network has been one of her greatest weapons since the days when she was merely a fledgling warlord freshly escaped from Russia. She was a firm believer in the idea that victory favored the prepared and the only way to prepare against everything is to know everything. An impossibility, of course, but one should not settle for what is merely acceptable simply because perfection is out of reach. As an information broker who has been operating for over a decade, her files on every major organization in the world are probably the most detailed and robust collection of secrets, dossiers, and potential blackmail in the history of humanity. Add on top of that her covert control over several old military spy satellites and it became almost impossible for someone to hide from her once she started looking.
"The Dragon values those who possess the ability to make such rational judgements and deductions in the field," he continues, preparing to throw the same old pitch yet again.
Few are ever smart enough to take it on the first offer; fewer still get the chance to rethink their folly after refusing. But, the Dragon had been rather curious about this dark stalker who chose to align herself with those who probably hated her kind the most, particularly since she seemed so competantly able to defend herself.
"She extends to you an invitation to join her," he says, kneeling down to scoop the fancy collar out of the box. The wolf offers it in her direction, his monstrous palm turned upwards to present the choker as if it were a gift, maintaining enough distance that she will have to come to him should she wish to accept it. "She has given her promise that, should you do so freely, you will not suffer the same fate as the mindless beasts that now run wild in the streets. She has no need of further shock troopers but wishes to grant you a place as one of her lieutenants, such as myself."
Shadows stretched long on the sun-painted sands of the abandoned beach where the kitsune and werewolf stand facing each other. When she confronted the four felines, the situation was reversed. She was hunting them. While they teased and toyed with her across a prolonged, time wasting chase across the district, it was their numbers that gave them any chance at all against the fox-eared predator pursuing them.
As Renka looks up at the salivating maw of the veteran warrior in front of her, she knows full well who the hunter is here. If they had encountered each other in a location closer to her natural habitat - the old forests of Japan - then the kitsune would possibly already be falling back on her instincts, of racing through the woods, of using the dense shadows, abundant cover, and her own illusions to give the werewolf the slip.
But out here on the beach, no such options were available. Places to hide were scarce, and her illusions would never last as long as needed to make it out of the open before the furred warrior before her caught up. Added to that was the knowledge that the location was far from any of the safe zones and too remote to be actively patrolled by any of humanity's defenders.
Teeth grit slightly as the realizations settle into the darkstalker soldier's mind. Everything about this setup seemed targeted at her specifically, and that was reflected in the calm confidence of the enemy lieutenant looming over her. He knew her reach and stood just shy of it, the old injuries barely visible beneath his thick fur proof that he had survived countless fights before now.
His explanation of how she was identified is plausible enough that she doesn't question it further. It was easy to become complacent when surrounded by humans all the time, with their dim hearing and poor sense of smell... In the werewolf standing before her, she was reminded that she faced enemies just as gifted as tracking as she was if not more so; creatures with access to innate senses or abilities not found among the humans.
"I see." she allwos softly, acceptance of his explantion clear in her tone.
The thought that she had been watched all this time, stalked without awareness, was just one more unsettling detail among many. She was used to being the hunter not the prey. But there is always another predator up the chain and one stands before her now, armed with an implicit threat and explicit offer.
He mentions a moniker new to the Corporal - The Dragon. Not familiar to her, but noted all the same. Every detail might help... if she can get it back to headquarters. She takes a quick step back the instant he moves to reach down into the box. Some might have mistaken the moment as an opportunity to ambush him with his guard down, but she could tell better than that. Though she lacked the patchwork of scars to tell her story, she was no stranger to the hunt herself.
He speaks of an invitation, and, while holding out the vile choker, a promise of leadership within the enemy's forces. Renka blinks, the surprise and confusion easily read on her face as she's once more thrown a curve ball. The collar wasn't a taunt then - at least, not solely - but also a token of the offer to align herself with the mind behind the violent attacks?
Once more, her stomach twists in knots. This was a recruitment effort by the enemy, by the enigmatic Dragon behind all of this? Why her?
The fox's expression reflects an inner wrestle with the question and the invitation. The thought of throwing in with the forces that were setting back human/darkstalker relations nearly back to ground zero was anathema to her heartfelt vision for the future. Their goals, whatever they might be, could not possibly be compatible with hers. Yet at the same time, it could be a look at the other side? A breakthrough in information if she were to be allowed into their ranks...
Her eyes reflect indecision rather than steely rejection of the offer. "I don't understand..." Renka replies with a slight shake of her head, her tone doubting. "How I could possibly be trusted if I were to devote my loyalty to a new cause just like that?" The cats had called her a traitor for her allegiance to the NOL. But if she entertained the werewolf's promise, even in the slightest, then she really WOULD be one, in her own eyes. Unless... unless it was just to gain intelligence? No one knew anything about the attacks, and even this one clue the NOL thought it had had proven to be a trap.
But she could also tell this Dragon was cagey. Whatever machinations were behind the bloody violence of the last week, they were not reckless or without planning.
"What are you not telling me?"
The aged wolf waits silently as Renka mulls the offer over, his heavily muscled arm remaining outstretched with the fancy collar on offer. The mixture of emotions on her human-like face is easy enough to read - disgust, confusion, possibility. That she hasn't outright rejected the offer out of hand places her markedly above the majority of the Dragon's enemies who have received such an offer in the past in terms of common sense. Even if she has no intention of accepting the invitation, anyone with two brain cells to rub together would realize that you don't send an eight food pile of fur and muscle to deliver a message if he's stupid enough to get sucker punched while making his delivery.
At her question, the werewolf sneers, somehow revealing yet more finger-length teeth within his elongated maw. He lowers his hand, fingers closing around the collar as his arm droops to rest at his side casually.
"The Dragon is not ignorant of this conundrum, little fox. Once a traitor, why not twice, yes? And your kind is well known for their flippant attitude and trecherous ways. The legends of Tamamo-no-mae, Da Ji, and Lady Kayo have endured through the centuries."
The hulking predator chuckles, a sound so dark and sinister that it grates at the soul like sandpaper. He rises up to his full height, his naturally stooped posture straightening nearly another full foot, changing his stature from looming to towering. The fingers of his unoccupied hand flex and relax several times, the long wicked claws seeming anxious, perhaps hungry to bury themselves into fresh warm meat. The beast's shaggy brows furrow slightly as he peers down at Renka, his eyes faintly glowing beads of blood red light.
"Two reasons why these issues do not pose a problem to my master. The first, as you may have guessed, is that any attempt at betrayal would end very..."
He leans forward, not to hunch over this time, but to lower his face in the corporal's direction slightly, adding a menacing emphasis to his slowly growled words.
"VERY poorly for you. Your face is known. Your name is known. That which you would call home is known. The Dragon commands vast resources, moves in circles that your Library masters do not even known exist. Should she wish you dealt with it would be little more than a trifle. And even were you to strike her down with some act of deceit, there are many who rise to take her place and avenge her. There would be no rest for you ever again, no safe place from which to escape her reach. You would be hounded to the ends of the world, run down like a fox before the dogs."
The werewolf sinks back onto his haunches, the menace deflating from his posture somewhat after having delivered the threat. While it is always fun to watch lesser creatures squirm beneath the intensity of his full attention, he isn't here to bully this female today, merely lay out the full scope of the folly that would be any attempt to betray the Dragon's trust. Better she deny the offer out right. She would die all the same but it would merely be an act of business not revenge. He had seen what happens to the people unfortunate enough to draw the woman's personal ire. Even he felt a little sorry for what was left of them.
"The second, and perhaps more pertinent reason, is that you will find that the Dragon's goals are not as barbaric and cruel as they might appear. Your reasons for enlisting with the humans was one of self-preservation, yes? A desire to avoid persecution through cooperation."
The monster places his empty hand upon his barrel of a chest, tapping it a couple of times. He smiles, or attempts to at least, but all those blood-covered teeth make it difficult to tell the difference between that and his snarl.
"We are not so different in that regards. While you may not understand the reasons why, the actions being taken now are necessary for the survival of humans and dark stalkers alike."
He extends the collar towards her again, taking a step forward, boldly moving into the reach of her deadly blade without fear. If she is to trust him, then he must show her the same courtesy. One does not make friends at arm's length and someone has to be the first to take initiative in any new relationship.
"Take it. It is not a slave's chain but a symbol of trust and a declaration of loyalty to someone with the strength to do what must be done."
Not once does Renka take her eyes off Fenrir. Whatever intimidation she might feel from his imposing appearance, worry at his armaments, or revulsion at the looks he keeps giving her, she doesn't look away. While she might recoil physically at the slightest hint of him drawing closer, while her heart beats rapidly in her chest, she can't allow herself to look away for even a moment.
As the beast references the reputation created by a legendary fox spirit of the past, she presses her lips together tightly, a mix of flustered frustration manifesting in her expressive features in the way her cheeks redden slightly and jaw tenses. "Tch."
It isn't hard to tell that there might be a sore spot there, that her trustworthiness is called into question simply because of the mythos surrounding her supernatural species. In fact, it isn't too hard to tell what she's thinking at all. Either she is a doyenne of manipulating her visage to project whatever emotions she wants others to see in her as one might expect of a long lived trickster fox, or... she's painfully transparent.
Her face tilts up as he stands to his full height, the long shadow cast out to the side of him along the sands. He speaks of the price of treachery among the Dragon's organization and the kitsune's face pales slightly. She had no way of knowing the accuracy of his threat, the futility of trying to hide afterward, or the indescribable hell that awaited her were she to transition from an object of curiosity of his master into a target of revenge so intense that even the veteran of death standing before her felt a prick of pity for such a fate.
Corporal Kaneko swallows, her breaths continuing to come as quick, tiny things. She wasn't on the verge of hyperventilating, but her body was clearly operating in response to the aura of dread so thick in the air around her, no amount of ocean breeze could hope to dispel it.
But after the threat, the werewolf delivers the more... unexpected prediction. The idea that she would find what she was clearly must be seeking for among the Librarium by joining forces with him and the Dragon. The beast's intuition into her motivations wasn't the entire picture, but he had certainly zeroed in on one aspect of the fox's nature - a relentless, clever pursuit of survival against the overwhelming odds of trying to exist in a world dominated by humans.
And there was no denying that she was known to the mastermind behind this, that she would be found, no matter where she went. Even if she could escape him now, possibly fight him off long enough to retreat back to the safety of the NOL base, what then? What hope did she have being this Dragon's enemy? Is accepting this offering, to be willing to force down the bile in the pit of her stomach to wear the collar, the only viable path forward to survive?
He steps forward and this time she doesn't withdraw to keep the same space between them but nor does she draw or lash out as the werewolf steps within arm's reach, offering the token of her surrender once more.
He speaks with such purpose, such fealty to the one who's collar he bears, and it's not difficult to tell that she's tempted to yield to the show of force, the expression of confidence in his master's cause, that it is what is best for humans and darkstalkers alike.
But while his assessment of her motives of draping herself in the insignia of the NOL was accurate, it wasn't the whole picture. He wouldn't be aware of the times she had put her life on the line to protect her fellow soldiers - of standing in the path of the White Void, Hakumen, fighting sword to sword to keep him from taking one more step toward slaughtering her allies. Of the battle against The Hunter, of standing between the killer and the only other surviving soldier against his rampage, bleeding, wounded, on the verge of collapse, but unflinching in her resolve to be the barrier between him and her comrade's life.
The kitsune was uncharacteristically loyal, to the point of self-sacrifice, when it came to protecting others. Perhaps somewhere in her pedigree existed a drop of hound's blood, so fiercely protective the fox-eared creature could be.
Her eyes move from Fenrir's lupin face to the collar he holds out, its silver chains glinting as they sway, catching the dark gold rays of sunlight from across the sea.
"I can't." Renka states, the words forced from between her teeth. "I can't hurt people like you and yours did. I can't stand with one who would..." She seems on the verge of choking, her throat constricted by the maelstrom of emotions coursing through her.
"Who would cut through all those people. T-that undirected bloodshed," Renka grits her teeth, standing close now. The smell of him is overwhelming, cutting off scents of the shore, or of specters of dead-filled buildings beyond it. "Is against everything I'm fighting for!"
She shakes her head, eyes moving from the hateful collar back up to the powerful werewolf's face. "I do pursue survival, yes. But not just for me! Are it not your brothers and sisters dying in the streets too? Do- do you feel nothing for the ones treated as disposable weapons?!" Her left hand tightens into a fist at her side, her eyes reflecting open shock now as she weighs the enormity of where her thoughts have landed after so much conflicted inner turmoil.
"I can't possibly be a part of that!"
Her left foot slips back in the sand slightly, not to retreat, but to brace herself. "So do what you must!"
Fenrir watches the little fox war with her own soul as she considers the options. It's clear that she feels some inherent disgust at the notion of taking up the collar. Surprising, considering the organization that she seems to attached to would no doubt throw her away without a second thought should they be given the opportunity to do so while profiting from it. He finds it hard to believe that the forest spirit would be so naive as to think the Library of all organizations holds the value of life in any particular regard. They demonstrated their bigotry against non-humans openly, going so far as to execute dark stalkers merely suspected of raising their hands against others in violence.
Not that he feels a particular kinship with the mewling fools who had blindly charged into the world of humans only to find that the weak and pathetic creatures of yore, once little more than cattle to be picked off at leisure, had evolved into terrifying wielders of deadly technology. They had accepted defeat almost without a fight, thrown themselves at the mercy of their enemy in a pathetic plea for co-existence. They deserved whatever fate the humans forced upon them.
His choice to join the Dragon had been out of respect for her strength and will, a respect that she offered him in return. He is a valued lieutenant, a deadly weapon for her to direct at her foes, unlike his cowardly brethren who rolled over and allowed themselves to be muzzled. Which is precisely why he is here now, speaking with this poor deluded creature instead of snarling mindlessly at anything foolish enough to draw within striking range.
The towering wolf tilts his head at her, not in surprise or rage, but contemplation. His jaw works slowly, a soft grumble coming from his chest as he ponders the words to best explain the problem with her thinking.
"You are a creature of the forest, yes? One, no doubt, old enough to have seen nature's various methods for survival. Call to mind the trees and how they react to insects feasting upon their bark. One tree finds itself under attack, its bark stripped bare by hungry predators. Yet with its demise it releases a scent that warns all other trees in the area that danger is present, causing them to secrete a protective resin to coat their bark and ward off future attacks."
He turns and glances towards the city behind him, gesturing at it casually.
"The forest, one of many. There is a storm coming, a terrible threat that will see not only their kind stripped to the bone but all life. But who would believe such a thing? Humans are arrogant and lazy creatures. They think themselves the masters of their own destiny. They act only when prodded to do so, only when the danger is clear and often when it is far too late to avert disaster. One needs only read their histories to see this foolish cycle repeat itself."
Fenrir snorts derisively. The Dragon had insisted that he study such books and despite his misgivings they had been a wealth of insight into the world he now resided in. That the Makai had split away from their world hundreds of years ago was perhaps more of a boon to the dark stalkers than mankind. They seemed more capable of destroying, terrorizing, and traumatizing each other than any of the monsters ever had.
The wolf's talon shifts from the general vicinity of the city towards a particularly unpleasant spire that stands out amongst the others - Jedah's embassy. The disgusting organic exterior of the tower looks like an exposed skinless finger jutting up from the surface of the Southtown's center, out of place and strangely horrifying in its alien nature.
"That very threat sits nestled among the very humans it threatens. The madman Jedah raises an army the likes of which Earthrealm is unprepared to fight. You have seen his tower, yes? The so called 'Embassy' that he created without permission nor warning. And yet, what repercussions has he faced for such a blatant violation of human sovereignty? None. Because those responsible for authorizing such things have chosen the coward's path. They hide behind excuses such as politics and co-existence and the weak pathetic masses do nothing because they do not wish the illusion of happiness with their boring, meaningless lives to be disrupted."
He is borrowing heavily from words that are not his own now. The Dragon has ranted on many an occasion her disdain for the common folk, calling them blind sheep, weak fools, and many far more unpleasant things. But behind her overt rage there was always something a little less obvious. As far as he could decipher her emotions, it seemed like she was embarrassed by them, annoyed that they would embrace such mundane existences when they were capable of so much more.
Fenrir turns back to face the corporal, his body language remaining calm and composed despite his instincts telling him to strike. His master had ordered him to remain more civil while conveying this message than his last attempt to do so. So long as she does not strike him first, he will restrain his urge for bloodshed. Perhaps he might even make a convincing enough argument to sway the fox's mind. Such an accomplishment would surely come with ample rewards.
"And so," he continues, "the Dragon takes upon herself the mantle of a villainous beetle, tearing down a few trees so that the forest will be driven to prepare its defenses against the true threat. The time draws near for her to take the stage and play her part in the survival of humanity. The role may be distasteful but she has proven herself to be a creature of great strength and will, capable of doing whatever must be done to ensure success, no matter how vile or dishonorable. I would sooner serve a commander willing to be a monster than a prideful coward unwilling to get their hands dirty at the expense of those who have placed their trust in them."
The volume put behind Renka's protest might be more for herself than the werewolf towering over her. The werewolf, on the other hand, remains calm in the face of her outburst, his rumbling voice carrying more than enough weight that he has no need to speak louder for his message to be heard. He isn't the one that needs convincing here, after all.
He correctly touches on her history. The forests of prior centuries were were the fox spirit first became aware, first began to learn of the world around her. She even acknowledges his statement with a slight nod, her jaw set, mouth pressed to a thin line as she listens to what comes next. Of trees and beetles, of the response to a threat with defensive resins once the alarm has been raised.
For the first time since he stepped out of the shadows, she looks away from Fenrir. She was far from relaxed in his presence, yet she also knew full well that if his objection was to harm her, he didn't need to rely on deceptive tricks to do so... and they certainly wouldn't be having this conversation right now.
Her eyes follow his gesture toward Southtown, its tall buildings still illuminated against the night in spite the lock-down taking place in the city. A forest, he says, one that would be oblivious to the true threat he hints at, one that needed to lose a few trees so that the defenses would properly be deployed...
He draws her attention to the grotesque spire and a frown crosses her features. She couldn't help but recall the feeling seeing the dark edifice's appearance evoked the first time... how she and others within the Librarium were eager to lash out, chomping at the bit. Surely there would have to be a response... The confusion and disappointment that followed, when their commanding officers explained there would be no assault, that the politicians of the island nation had authorized the abomination to be constructed... all of it is brought back with a fresh surge of frustration.
The fox-eared soldier's left hand clenches at her side as the wolf speaks of the dire threat the so-called embassy represented. She nods again slowly, almost absently this time. He is speaking to the choir now, on this matter, there seems to be no gulf between them. There is no sane reason such a building should exist, and even less explicable is the inability to do anything /about it/!
As he turns toward her, she mirrors the motion, facing him again. Her expression is as torn as before, his words have had an impact. She could broker no argument as to the target of his master's ambition. But the /means/... unleashing the storm of violent bloodshed, the massacres in the streets of Southtown... there HAD to be a better way!
Renka opens her mouth then closes it again. The old wolf was persuasive as he was assured in his own convictions, convictions that were no less important to him than hers were to herself. She felt herself being swept up in the logic of it all. After all, it was nature's tendency to care about the whole of the system, not the individual pieces that might have to be sacrificed along the way. One tree to save all the rest, thousands of humans so that the whole rallies in time to survive another day.
"I-" she closes her mouth again. Didn't she rationalize her own loyalties in a similar manner? She wasn't oblivious to the abuses conducted by some within the NOL against darkstalkers... but as unpleasant as it was, it might cause other darkstalkers to seek a more cooperative existence, to not force situations that resulted in such violent outcomes. A few darkstalkers sacrificed... so that the rest can make it to a better day.
Renka's shoulders fall slightly.
"I don't know-"
She had always been so sure before. Either both sides of this equation were right... or both were wrong, and the inner wrestle with this profound dilemma clearly had the creature at a loss.
"Almost, I find myself understanding..." The words come out slowly, as if she can't believe she's saying them until she hears them herself. "But I can't... I can't do what you've done, what she's doing. Our target is not so different-" She glances, only for a second, toward the embassy again. "But her methods... I could never..." Renka swallows, shaking her head slightly, eyes widened as she looks up at Fenrir, trying to imagine moving through the city, cutting down any people unfortunate enough to be caught in her path, to be the vicious monster so many of them believed her to be. Impossible! Those days were behind her now, left in the distant past.
"I could never be apart of that!"
The kitsune reiterates her exclaimed statement from before. Her resolve no weaker in her decision, even if it's clear that she's quickly coming to realize the situation developing around her is not so clearly black and white as she had allowed herself to think, that the line between right and wrong was proving increasingly difficult to even see.
Fenrir's response to the impassioned outcry is terse. Once more he resolves not to lash out at the little fox despite her insistence on declaring herself his enemy, though the effort makes his claws itch in frustration. Talking has never been his strong point. Perhaps it had been the Dragon's intention when she nominated him to be her messenger that he expand his skill set. She always seemed inclined to push those around her to better themselves, if for no other reason than it made them more useful to her. The raw practicality of such a motive is something that he can respect.
"Unfortunate that you would choose morality over survival. The Dragon will be disappointed. You would have made an excellent ally in the fight against the demon."
It would be a lie to say that he wasn't a little disappointed himself. While the ferocious mercenary queen was every bit as vicious and unrelenting as any monster, having others like himself around would have been a pleasant change. Particularly one so easy on the eyes. It would be equally a false, however, to claim that he expected any other outcome.
Kira's methods are brutally practical and ruthlessly rational but in his experience very few people are capable of making such difficult decisions which in turns makes it difficult for them to empathize with their necessity. Her actions in this matter were always going to label her a monster, earning scorn from the very people who survived only because she was willing to make a hard choice that was only necessary because of the incompetance and corruption of their sworn defenders. The woman seemed to thrive on infamy so he doubted she would lose much sleep over it, but it did make recruiting others to her cause a great deal more challenging.
Fenrir tosses the collar back into the box with a casual flick of his wrist, the heavy metal ring landing with a noisy clatter. He reaches for one of the many pouches lining his bandolier and withdraws from it a small device. His posture remains relaxed, so the likelihood that he's reaching for a weapon seems small. When he reveals the object to Renka it turns out to be a human-sized cell phone, the rectangle of plastic almost comically small in his massive hand. He extends the phone to her just as he had the collar, offering his upturned palm in her direction.
"But, the Dragon also anticipated your response. She wishes me to tell you that she holds no ill will for your decision, so long as you do not stand in her way. Should you wish to change your mind or share information, you need only dial the first reserved number."
She can see hints of his struggled restraint in the clenching of his claws, in the tension riding just beneath the surface of well-muscled, fur covered arms. She doesn't know his standing orders or the way he wrestles against his baser desires in order to fulfill them. What she does know is that everything about the old wolf defies her own expectations.
From the moment he appeared, she had been ready for an attack, her mind racing to anticipate what vector it would come from. Would he use his natural resources, lashing out with claws capable of tearing through cloth and flesh? Would he sate his hunger plying those dagger-sharp teeth in a vicious chomp? Or would he fall back on the instruments of man and demonstrate his skill with the shotgun holstered at his side? With his stature, the dangerous weapon seemed woefully undersized but she knew full well that it too was a devastating threat.
Instead he response verbally, expressing that it was unfortunate she landed where she had in her choice. The words were not without their own weight. Morality over survival... to die a fool rather than survive a traitor twice over... was she really ready to commit to that being her brief, simple epitaph when this all said and done? Where did that line where her honor would finally break exist?
Renka unclenches her hands as he speaks. Her place in the food chain of supernatural creatures leaves her well attuned to what it is like to be the hunter and the hunted, a creature caught in the middle between prey and apex predators like the one standing before her. And as he speaks, her instincts tell her the immediate threat of attack is either nonexistent, or so well concealed that she simply cannot sense it.
He says the Dragon will be disappointed and Renka finds herself torn over that comment. Was it, perhaps, a bit of kindling for her ego that she had even been noticed by one capable of masterminding such havoc, of holding such vision or ambition that the sacrifices were worth it? How could she feel a prick of regret at disappointing the enigma she only knew by what the wolf and her actions said of her? The kitsune suppresses the reaction, conflicted by its existence as she is by the very dilemma the battle hardened werewolf forced her to confront.
He reaches for a pouch and she watches, wary but not alarmed. He holds out the phone in his palm and for a moment, she is confused as to what it is, its scale confusing when set against such a large hand. Realization hits, reinforced as he continues to speak, her brow furrowing as she realizes what he offers is a second chance, an option to reconsider.
Not retreating in fear from before such a creature was one thing. Actively reaching out to take something from his open hand, on the other hand, required more conscious effort on her part.
"I... will consider it."
The phone could be a clue, perhaps, linking back to the Dragon. But surely she would have taken precautions against that... and turning it over to the NOL would only make clear the fox's refusal to back down. No... this detail... indeed, much of her encounter with the werewolf, would never make it into her reports.
She wasn't aware she was holding her breath as her right arm raises, hand open, fingers stretching out, but he would notice, just as easily as he would read the hesitation in how she reaches toward his outstretched hand. The last few inches are far quicker, hand snapping down, fingers closing over the phone with the intent of pulling it back.
Never show fear to a predator. That one simple rule was learned early by those who existed outside of the cities of mankind where such creatures were rarely seen outside of cages. But even in the inner streets of downtown the occasional wild dog emerged to remind its citizens just how low they are on the food chain when pitted unarmed against a hungry beast. To stand and fight would be a fierce battle but to run would only mean dying tired.
Renka's skittish behavior plays havoc with the aged wolf's instincts. He enjoyed causing fear in his victims, particularly the looks of terror on their faces when they realized there was no escape from his claws. There was a primal lust for death that writhed inside of him, a thirst that could only be satiated by blood shed with his own hands. Were he a few decades younger he might not have been able to restrain himself from lunging when the fox goes to snatch the phone from his hand.
Fenrir lets out a low growl that rumbles up from within him like a pair of boulders grinding together but regains control of himself before he can strike at her. Despite all of his years of experience and an iron-clad willpower, he can't stop his claws from twitching or his jaw from clenching as her slender arm darts out in a sudden burst of movement, a ripple of barely restrained killing intent traveling up his muscular body like a wave.
Once her hand is clear of his grasp, the wolf takes a step back, moving quickly away as if unable to trust himself to remain in control should she show obvious signs of panic at his reaction. He glares at the kitsune for several seconds, his wide beady eyes full of pure malice. The limits of his restraint were already strained by such a lengthy conversation; now she was playing with fire.
"Consider also," he says, snarling each word around his mouthful of razor fangs, what little tolerance for diplomacy he possesses exhausted. "How much pleasure I will take from hunting you down should you fail to heed her warning."
On that cheerful mental image, he turns to leave, stalking silently up the beach towards the ruined city. The collar and transmitter are left behind to do with as the fox wishes. Neither would offer any further insight into the Dragon's plans. She was about to reveal herself as the mastermind behind everything in a grand fashion and there would be no questions left about her identity or location by tomorrow. The only thing for anyone to decide would be how they react to the carefully placed bait.
And, if the Dragon is right in her predictions, tomorrow will be a fine day for hunting.
The phone in her grasp, Renka's eyes flick back to studying the werewolf's features. He was old, she knew, though when it came to creatures like he and her, narrowing it down more than that was rather difficult. She had behind her a few hundred years... which made her young by standards of legendary kitsune that unraveled nationwide alliances and brought emperors to their ruin. Werewolves weren't known for their longevity, but that had more to do with their reckless pursuit of violent battle until it finally caught up with them than succumbing to the frailties of old age. Whether the one looming over her now hearkened back to the pre Meiji Era or not she couldn't be sure.
His words can't make her any more tense than she's already feeling as she regards him and his warning with silence. He can be assured she's very much already considering just that very thought. Her next steps will have to be considered carefully.
What will she write in her report? She has to explain the source of the signal, but what of the werewolf? What of the collar inside the box with her name emblazoned on it? She can't leave the stuff here and the NOL will want the radio source anyway, even if it will prove to be of no use in answering a question that soon all will be fully aware of. Of the phone, she will definitely say nothing. She will have to decide its relevance in the days to come, but either way, it will be without the Librarium's knowledge or input.
But regardless the concerns racing through her mind, the sight of the Dragon's lieutenant turning to walk away is the most welcome relief she can possibly imagine. The urgent adrenaline rush of being on the verge of having to defend herself bleeds out slowly, her breaths returning, fast at first but slowing eventually.
As the last sliver of sun slips below the western sea, the kitsune soldier, self-proclaimed protector of humans and darkstalkers in need of help, is left all alone with her thoughts.
Log created on 18:17:16 04/23/2020 by Renka, and last modified on 21:30:48 04/26/2020.