Nena - Captain Ryuko and the Space Cats from Neptune

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Description: Nena Memory Archive 104: Today, while Rafferty, Eden and I were on a picnic, I met a cybernetically enhanced female teenager. As an ordinary teenage girl, I found the experience enlightening. Note to self: remember to headbutt a subterranean locomotive when the opportunity presents itself.

It's mid afternoon on a pleasantly warm Monday in Southtown. It's the kind of day where being at the beach is definitely preferable to being stuck inside a classroom, which is why three Pacific students have made their way here to eat lunch. Sound Beach has the advantage of being in close walking distance to the playing fields of the school, but the atmosphere seems a world away. Quiet and tranquil, the trio pretty much have the place to themselves. Well, along with a certain white cat of course.

Rafferty lays down a blue Ralph Lauren towel with a red logo on the sand and proceeds to plant his derrière upon it. His outfit is not a traditional one for a beach visit. Instead of a swimsuit, he's dressed in beige chinos, a cashmere sweater and some Gucci loafers.

Taking a small tupperware container from a brown leather backpack, he inhales the scent of the contents, before offering a perfectly ripe strawberry to his companions. Next from the bag, he produces three mini sized bottles of champagne and straws to go with them. It looks like the blond is in the mood for a picnic!

Eden looks around, she didn't seem familiar with spending time on the beach, by the way she was acting, although she looking the park, in a dark blue swimming suit, with a towel around her. Storm (the cat) is with her and seems to be more at ease currently with the sand. Storm speaks. "You see Eden, the beach can be nice." She nods her head but still seems unsure.

After a moment, she goes to where Rafferty is setting things up. She sees the mini bottles, and the strawberries. A sign appears beside her head. "Where is the chicken?" Storm who is follow her, shakes his head. "Don't worry our poor Raff Eden. He will think you're getting upset at him." He looks at Rafferty. "She's not upset at you. Thank you for bringing this." But Eden looks at Storm with eyes that basically say "I am not?" She giggles a bit after, and puts the towel around her waist, to the ground. Storm picks a corner to Settle in. Eden glances a moment now, at Nena, see what she is doing, still thinking of that mystery.

Accompanying Rafferty and Eden is Nena, who seems to have missed the memo on beachwear altogether. Instead, she is dressed in her usual school uniform: a white sailor-style shirt, bright blue pleated skirt, a red necktie and white high-heeled knee boots. She hasn't brought a towel, either, and when she observes that both Rafferty and Eden each have one, her expression remains blank for a moment.

"I do not have a towel for myself," she announces flatly after a moment. "Rafferty, will your towel accomodate the addition of my posterior?" she asks, tilting her head to one side. She takes the strawberry that she is offered, examining and sniffing it briefly before popping it into her mouth, leafy crown and all, and starts to chew it silently for a moment before swallowing.

Though not a part of the little picnic gang, another person is present on the large slice of blinding white sand nestled up against the coast. Ryuko leans against the side of a large rock not far away, her presence obscured from the trio of students as they set out to enjoy a pleasant lunch on the seaside. While aware of the new arrivals, she doesn't pay them much mind at first, her attention focused elsewhere.

Some ten miles or so down the long strip of beach, a large heap of blackened stone sits atop the horizon. Even reduced to rubble, the remains of the Black Dragon Casino continue to glitter in the warm light of the sun as if trying to retain some sliver of their former majesty in death. Only a few short months ago the building had been home to a crazed foreign mercenary responsible for unleashing an army of dark stalkers upon the city. Now there's little more than a few scattered piles of debris left to mark that it had ever existed at all. A testament to the thoroughness of the NOL's demolition skills.

She'd heard plenty of stories about the crazy powers that the Librarium soldiers were able to wield. Actual magic, some people said, like wizards straight out of some fantasy RPG. That alone is enough make Ryuko jealous. While her mastery of the sword already puts her closer to an adventurer than your average teenager, there's just something appealing about the idea of bending the very elements of the universe itself to your will. The closest she's managed to come falls into the realm of typical martial arts stuff, a few bursts of colorful energy here and there, but nothing particularly noteworthy.

Strangely, her parents, who are usually quite in favor of developing her budding martial skills, were quite adamantly against the idea of her signing up with the paramilitary mages after she finishes school. Their reasons were strangely vague, mostly seeming to involve a lot of distrust for the organization due to it being run by foreigners. Her parents have always been strongly in favor of nationalistic policies so that doesn't surprise her too much, particularly after so many outside forces have been responsible for all manner of trouble in Southtown over the past decade or so.

Oh well. Her parents have never steered her wrong. The dreams of donning her wizard robes and casting magic missile at the darkness will have to remain the stuff of fantasy.

A strange scent wafts across her senses, disrupting Ryuko's idle daydream. Even amidst the briny tang of the sea breeze, there's no mistaking the tingle of alcohol in her nostrils. Strange. Most people should still be busy at work at this hour. The only place close enough to be within walking distance is the nearby school and no high school student is old enough to be drinking. Those voices definitely did not sound like a handful of teachers slipping away to take the edge off either.

Curiosity gets the better of her. Peeling away from her resting place in the shade, the teen slips out from behind the rock and heads in their direction. Dressed in almost pure black, the interloper makes a rather striking first impression at a glance. Her clothes are clearly of exceptional quality, obviously some sort of name brand, but she wears them casually. The sleeves of her dark blazer are folded back to the elbows giving her some reprieve from the heat. Likewise, the top few buttons of her white dress shirt are unfastened, though a checkered blue and black tie keeps the blouse from falling open to expose anything inappropriate. A pocketed skirt serves as a resting place for her hands as she nonchalantly strides across the beach, the cut of the hem well above regulation for any respectable student but not so bold as to be scandalous.

However, it isn't the fancy clothes or the lit cigarette, half burnt down from use and hanging loosely from her lips, that stands out the most. Instead, it the pair of odd electronic devices worn on her head. At first glance, one could be forgiven for mistaking them for odd novelty headphones. However, as she approaches it becomes more clear that the flat teardrop shaped panels aren't resting on her ears but are in fact seemingly attached to her skull. The slender antennae whir and hum softly as she approaches, tilting towards the group in a manner reminiscent of a dog perking up its ears.

A lone amber eye scans across the trio of students curiously, the other hidden behind a curtain of raven-black bangs. Definitely not old enough to be drinking. Not that she can throw stones about breaking the rules with an illegal tobacco product currently smoldering away in her mouth. Nor was it her plan to chastise them. If anything, she's surprised to see the students of a proper 'prestigious' school playing hooky in such a blatant manner. Maybe discipline has slipped since the invasion.


Flashing the teens a grin, Ryuko removes a hand from her pocket to give the group a quick wave. Another spot of black in her attire reveals itself in the form of a short leather glove, the sort used by bikers or athletes. Both the middle and index finger are missing on this one giving it a bit of angsty delinquent appeal.

"Never seen you lot hanging around here before. They let class out early or have standards slipped so far that the good little boys and girls of Pacific openly drink in the middle of the day now?"

Rafferty points a long finger at Edenlith "Chicken would have been good and I bet Storm would have enjoyed it too. My bad. Next time there will be chicken, maybe on some Ciabatta rolls, with salted butter." He licks his lips at this prospect and then takes a bite of his strawberry, causing the red juice to dribble down his chin. He quickly produces a white napkin and dabs at it, mindful of any getting on his expensive sweater.

When Nena enquires about sharing his towel, he shifts so she can comfortably sit beside him. "Plenty of room for you, babe" he responds, with a dazzling smile. Should Nena seat herself there, she will find an arm quickly wrapped around her shoulders.

Expertly popping open his champagne bottle, with his free hand, he inserts a straw and takes a long drink, sighing with pleasure as the bubbles slip down his throat. The cork is tidied away in his backpack. He may be an underage drinker, but he's not a litterbug!

All in all, the platinum haired Pacific student, is in a pretty relaxed state, but as Ryuko makes her approach, his posture becomes more alert. He looks admiringly at her clothing ensemble, giving her a nod of appreciation for her fashion choices. An easy smile appears on his handsome features, as she addresses their group and he offers a welcoming wave of greeting.

"We had a free period," he explains, lifting his bottle to take another sip from it. "Besides, there's nothing wrong with having a drink to wind down in the afternoon. It's not like we're getting wasted or something."

As he continues to look her over, his blue eyes lock in on the unusual headwear. "Cool whatever that is" he says vaguely, gesturing towards the girl's skull. "Did you get it online?"

Eden nod her head as Rafferty admits he should have brought chicken, but that was not fun. She idly wonders if there was a way to make him mad, and actually make him start a fight in someway. She thought about hitting Nena, but she looked like she could more than handle herself, so at best it would make her have a fight with her, which was an interesting prospect. Maybe... Storm suddenly speaks up. "No Eden, not now." As if he knew what she was thinking. In all actuality he just knows her well.

After being lost in thoughts for a few moment longer, she reaches for a strawberry, and puts it all in her mouth, like it was her newly made nemesis, and chews into it with an open mouth, like World war III was happening in her mouth. Again Storm speaks up. "Your mouth Eden, keep it close, those are like your privates, keep it all hidden." She gives one of those looks at Storm, who promptly shuts up.

While she finishes chewing her food, with her mouth still not quite as closed as it should be, yet not quite the horror it was before, Ryoku comes into play and that seems to captivate Eden at the moment. She even stands up, at the same moment as Storm backs up a bit as he wasn't sure what to think of her. Meanwhile, Eden now on her feet, skips toward Ryoku, to be in front of her. A sign appears near her head. "Hi!" Curiosity in her eyes, she brings one hand toward those headphones wanna be.

With the spot on the towel now offered, Nena finish chewing her berry and presumably swallows - the maceration process terminates, but there's little sign of the expected gulp to follow. She moves over to the empty space and, with stiff abruptness, drops down onto the towel beside Rafferty with a *whump,* narrowly missing landing on the boy's thigh in the process. Some instinctual part of him may feel lucky at having been avoided.

"Thank you for the strawberry, Rafferty," she says in an even tone, staring out glossily at the sea before turning her head sharply at Ryuko's approach.

"Hello. I am Nena Washington, an ordinary teenage girl," she greets the other teenage, her eyes lifting and seeming to focus in on the attachments on the side of Ryuko's head. "What is the function of your cranial accessories?" she asks with none of the polite hesitation that an ordinary teenage girl should have.

Her head then turns toward the bottle from which Rafferty is drinking.

"Rafferty. Consumption of alcohol amongst teenagers is illegal in Japan. Please desist from consuming your alcoholic beverage until you have arrived at the minimum age of twenty years. I do not wish to be party to criminal activity."

While she remains as dispassionate in her vocalization as she does when speaking on any other subject, there doesn't appear to be a faint stiffness that suggests she is, in fact, concerned.

Not even bashful about it. Definitely not the response she expected.

Ryuko's grin widens at the retort and she waves her hand in the air dismissively as if to scatter away the insinuation that she might be accusing him of improper behavior.

"Oh, no need to justify yourself to me. I'm certainly in no place to throw stones."

She clasps cigarette between two fingers with the practiced ease of a long time smoker and pulls it away from her lips, puffing a thick cloud of gray mist up into the air. The sizzling red embers accumulating on its tip are flicked idly into the sand where they quickly blend into the other bits of particulate matter covering the beach. No need to worry about being tidy when the entire place is one big ashtray.

Inevitably, all eyes go towards the rather obvious bits of tech on her head. There's no signs of surprise or annoyance on her face about it. Pretty much everyone asks and she's not hot-headed enough to be self-conscious over something that practically demands some sort of explanation. Even in Japan, the land of cosplayers, they stick out pretty badly.

"Nah," she says, a hint of amusement in her voice. "I challenged a speeding car to a game of chicken. Turns out my skull isn't actually as hard as my parents claim. Weird, right?"

Putting the cigarette back in her mouth, the girl takes another long drag before tapping the side of her temple with the butt.

"Scrambled things pretty good upstairs, so now I get this neat designer head gear to keep from going cross-eyed and drooling everywhere. That's only fun when you're drunk."

Shifting her mental focus from the ground to a spot on the ground behind her a couple of times in rapid succession, Ryuko wiggles the antennae playfully. Someone in the past had described them as being like big adorable cat ears. She isn't sure that 'adorable' is the look she's gunning for but she's pretty good-natured about the way people react to them.

"You might be able to get your own pair, if you really want. Try head butting the next subway train you see, that should do it."

Here Comes A New Challenger!

As Eden all but skips right up into her personal space, Ryuko's eye darts sideways towards the strange girl like a startled predator. She doesn't flinch away or scream, she just moves, and something very weird happens. Reality seems to skip, like an old movie reel that hasn't been properly cared for. One moment, the teen is inches away from being manhandled by the overly curious student and the next she's almost a foot backwards from where she was standing before.

With her hands once more resting casually in her pockets, Ryuko gives her would-be molester an amused look, her eyebrow Spock'd up a few inches. She still seems pretty chill but there is an obvious edge of wariness in her stance that wasn't there before.

"Well, hello to you. Someone's parents forgot to teach them about personal space."

Rafferty is seemingly oblivious to Edenlith's intentions towards him. He simply raises a well groomed eyebrow at Storm, when the feline gets vocal again. "You keep her in line, Storm" he laughs, throwing a wink at the cat's human companion to keep the mood light.

He watches curiously as his eccentric, blue haired classmate approaches the newcomer. At least her sign seems relatively friendly for now.

Nena's arrival on his towel seat is met with a slightly confused look. Surely that sound couldn't have come from his petite girlfriend? Maybe it's those heavy boots she wears. Whatever the cause, it's not the only thing that feels heavy. He runs his hand up and down her arm soothingly, as she warns him of the dangers of alcohol.

"It's all good, babe. We're not doing any harm. Here, have one yourself." He pops open another bottle and offers it to the brunette, with an encouraging smile. Ah, the joys of peer pressure.

Turning his attention back towards Ryuko, he gives her a nod "Glad you're cool. Sorry to hear about the accident though, that sounds like some crazy shit." He runs a hand over his own head, as if to check all is still in order there.

"So it seems like there's two of us with cat ears now then" he muses, glancing briefly at the white cat and then back towards Edenlith and Ryuko. "Don't mind her" he comments of Edenlith. "I was freaked out when we first met, but she's growing on me now."

Storm chuckles at Rafferty, he was so much... less annoying then Eden could be. "I do my best. Eden seems to grow on everyone, go figure." He watches what is happening. "Though there are some things I can never change." He also glimpses at Nena. Not caring about the mystery of Nena, like Eden is. He just considers her a friend, like Rafferty, and cats are notorious at looking at people, and he's a cat, and he will look at people when he wants to.

Meanwhile, one second Eden is about to touch the device, the next, the other teen is out of reach. She makes a confused face for a second, then another sign appears beside her head, after the first one disappears. "Again?!?" The look in her eyes shows she wants to remove the distance between them again, but for one reason or another she doesn't do that. Instead she ponders her options.

Then she hears Rafferty compliment her, well, rather nicely considering how she picks on him. She runs toward him, as if now Ryoku was forgotten for the moment, and if she has her way, assuming Nena doesn't stop her along the way, tackles down Rafferty from his sitting position, to laying down, which could look like an aggression, or inappropriate, but at this moment, was the closest thing, to showing real affection to Rafferty.

"I see. I will remain vigilant for the presence of subterranean locomotives," Nena replies with deadpan sincerity.

The brunette's green eyes hone in on the bottle of champagne that she's being offered. She remains silent for a moment as she processes the offer with a stony expression. Finally, she speaks.

"Rafferty. I am an ordinary teenage girl. I am also a law-abiding citizen. I cannot violate my code. I apologize, but your request is -"

Suddenly, Nena's chastising is interrupted by Eden's attempt to tackle Rafferty off of his keister. Her head tilts slightly to one side at the turn of events, before rotating back to look at Ryuko with a continually nonplussed expression.

"Cybernetic enhancements notwithstanding, my sensory faculties detect that you also are an ordinary teenage girl. What is your name?"

Ryuko watches the odd mute girl with a strangely intense stare for several seconds, waiting to see if she tries to go for another grab. Her posture is loose and casual but anyone skilled enough to be able to pick up on the minor cues she's giving off would know the teen is coiled and ready to spring at a moment's notice. Maybe that will be to dodge away again or she might just be prepared to disabuse the handsy girl in a more direct manner.

It might sound like a harsh reaction to someone just being curious. However, sometimes a big sister has to straighten out bad behavior with a dose or reality. And Ryuko is everyone's big sister, even if they don't know it yet.

Turns out neither option is necessary. Instead, the blondie manages to accidentally rescue her by making himself a more appealing target. As always, no good deed goes unpunished.

Once she's sure the threat of being glomped has passed, at least for the moment, Ryuko takes a few steps back towards the group.

"Don't worry about it, was a couple years ago. Can't remember much about the whole thing anyway. Ironically, my memory is a lot sharper after the whole ordeal. Guess that's what happens when you wire a computer to your noodle."

Ryuko smirks as she makes her antennae fidget again producing faint whirring sounds along with some flashing neon purple lights from a few small LEDs on their surfaces.

"Beep boop."

Abandoning Rafferty to his fate, Ryuko turns her attention to the third member of this strange little coven of misfits. Nena's apparent inability to process the concept of sarcasm is noted. Not the first person she's met who seems oblivious to colloquial dialogue. Nor the first person she's met who appears to be utterly devoid of emotion either. This kid must be a barrel of laughs.

"Sounds more like a robot than I do," she mutters, rubbing the back of her neck awkwardly.

Her own perceptions likewise register all three members of the beach patrol to be relatively normal, at least from a bio-readings standpoint. Though Nena's density seems to be way off for some reason. Probably a glitch, wouldn't be the first. Shoving all of the data being fed into her mind into the recesses of sub-conscious awareness, Ryuko shifts her head slightly to regard the last of the three Stooges.

"Not sure how I feel about being labeled ordinary... but I'm Ryuko. Ryuko Tenjin. Nice to-"

The teen's voice trails off and her gaze slides sideways, settling on Storm as if only just now noticing him for the first time. Her eye narrows and the widgets on her head swing forward as if giving the little beast a suspicious look.

"I'm sorry, did that cat"

Rafferty lets out a surprised cry, as Edenlith launches herself upon him. Thankfully his head is cushioned by the luxuriant fabric of the designer towel, as he's knocked backwards.

"Woah, easy girl" he says, trying to laugh off her assault. Looking up at her strangely red eyes, he attempts to sit back up.

The calmness of Nena's response to Edenlith acting like an excited puppy seems to add to his own ease and he brushes off his girlfriend's rejection of his alcoholic offering. "All the more for me then."

His gaze shifts to their furry friend, as Ryuko asks about him. "Yeah, kind of a mind fuck huh? I'm getting used to that too and Storm is a cool dude."

Eden actually squeezes Rafferty in what looks like a hug. Was that more scary than what she usually does... perhaps. When she's done squeezing, she does let go.

Storm speaks. "She's strange today, not sure if that's good." Today, as if she wasn't strange the other times. "I can speak. Before Eden, I would hide that fact, but with all she does, it's harder to, less it's in class. Won't speak in front of everyone. She might MEOWL!!!. Eden changes target, play tackling and fighting with Storm, though the cat seems like he's spooked at first and fighting for his life, till he calms down, catching on.

When she's done with Storm, which doesn't take long as her attention right seems to be about as strong as a puppy chasing many tennis balls, she tries to tackle Nena, which would probably give unexpected results for Eden. Would Ryoku be next after... She was the last living being in the vicinity after all.

"Yes," Nena assists the others in answering Ryuko's query regarding Storm and his predilection for human dialogue. "He is a special cat." This seems to be a sufficient answer for her own satisfaction.

Rafferty's response to her refusal of his offering draws her attention back to him. Even without a significant emotive reaction, Nena's displeasure is evident. She seems to be stirred up somehow, although it's hard to identify the exact tell - it sounds like she might be letting out a long, slow, nearly inaudible exhalation, if one listens closely.

"Rafferty. The consumption of alcoholic beverages by teenagers is illegal in Japan. Please -"

Before she can finish repeating herself, she's almost blindsided by Eden, though her eyes shift sidelong in the last moments before she's tackled.

With the full force of the other girl slamming into her, she's toppled over onto her side - but it takes what would seem like an inordinate amount of effort to do so. While she's soft enough on the outside, there's something incredibly solid about Nena, like tackling a statue.

"Warning," she says as she finds herself on her side, shoulder in the sand. "Aggressive posture detected. If you continue to behave in a bellicose manner, I will be required to engage self-defense measures."

She doesn't seem to be in any particular hurry to do so, and actually seems to be rather rigid on the ground, eyes focused ahead.

Yep, that cat is definitely talking. That's a new one for her.

The fact that no one else seems particularly surprised by this is actually more unusual. Heavens knows if she found a talking cat every damn person in the city would know about it by now because that's actually amazing.

"It is... a dark stalker?"

Ryuko peers down at the cat as if he is some sort of bizarre alien slug she's trying to analyze for classification. She drops down into a low crouch, her eye narrowing at Storm. She's never heard of a dark stalker this small or this normal looking before but she's hardly an expert on the matter. Her information is pretty much limited to whatever gets posted on the Internet and what she's seen personally; neither of those amount to much.

"Genetic experiment? Freak lab accident? Hmm, no. Alien parasite?"

Her speculation is cut short as the hyperactive mute hurls herself through the air only a few feet away. For a moment, the teen seems ready to leap aside as if to avoid being jumped by a hungry tiger, but it would seem that she is not the intended target. Instead, the unusually emotionless brunette suffers unexpected glomping, taking the tackle with all the fiery temperament of a tranquilized panda.

Ryuko eyes this exchange and takes a few steps back, starting to get the feeling she's stumbled upon the three weirdest knuckleheads in the entire public school system. And she's seen a lot of crazy characters in her time at Gedo, so that's saying something.

"Starting to think the cat is the least strange of you lot."

The teen model reacts rather well to being manhandled by his classmate. It's almost as if he's used to such things. He certainly appears less alarmed by this behaviour than some of her previous antics.

He does seem relieved when she finally shifts however and he is free to smooth down his clothing and re-perfect his hair. He's just finished the task, when Edenlith is back again and this time her target is Nena!

He looks across at the wrestling females with alarm, smoothly rolling out of the path of their potential destruction. Getting to his feet and more importantly to a safe distance, he calls out "Leave Nena alone, Eden." His honeyed voice trembles as he delivers the command.

Looking between the scuffling school girls and Ryuko, he asks with confusion "What's a darkstalker? Oh you think we should break those two up?"

Storms watch Edenlith interactions with amusements and worries. Nena is so calm, yet so to the point. He had no idea how Edenlith would react to that. He also hears all the theories of Ryuko on his origins, which did not please him, yet it wasn't really insulting either. It's only when she says he would be the most normal of the group, in not quite those words, that he speaks up. "Ain't I? Thank you!"

Meanwhile Edenlith grins at Nena. "Is that a threat or a promise?" The way she looks at her, she could do anything from saying sorry, to kissing, to hitting her, but nothing happens, when she hears Rafferty give her an order, a sign appears beside her head. . "Oh my God, you're a boy, you grew some balls!" She lets go of Nena. Another sign "We needs the color blue, coming out of a balloon, or in the middle of a cake, or something!!!"

After a moment, she takes a deep breath. Yet another sign, they come and go rather quickly "I am fine... Yes yes, I am fine." She glances at Ryuko, and the sign changes to this "You don't want me to tackle you, do you?" She looks around. And the last sign of the moment "To be fair, neither did they."

For a few seconds, it seems that Nena is content to remain toppled on her side. Eventually, though, she places her hand against the ground and slowly returns herself to an upright position, rolling back onto her backside. Granules of sand spill from the side of her face, her arm and out of her hair, but none of it seems to bother her.

"I do not require solitude at this juncture, Rafferty, and I do not wish for Eden to leave. I believe that she is engaging in a form of social bonding, likely passed on by her owner."

Her head turns between Ryuko and Storm, a few more sabulous grains spilling from her cheek and ponytail as she does.

"My uncle slash guardian 'Simon' is a scientist. If he would like, Storm may submit himself to my uncle slash Guardian 'Simon' for analysis to determine whether he is an alien parasite and or genetic experiment and or lab accident."

"What is a... have you literally been living under a rock for the last couple years?"

Ryuko stares with open confusion at the pretty boy, unsure how anyone could fail to know about the most hotly discussed development in human history. Now she's sure of it. They're all aliens. This is some kind of bizarre scouting party from Neptune sent to attempt engaging in normal human social behavior and failing miserably.

Her eye narrows on Storm again, this time with more suspicion in her expression. He must be the captain of these invaders. She always knew cats were untrustworthy, always acting so superior and aloof. They knew all along!

Unfortunately, as entertaining as that little daydream might be, she still has to deal with the reality of these clowns. Her gaze shifts to Eden as she seems to suggest that another attempt will be made to invade her personal space. The antennae on the girl's head swivel aggressively in her direction as if marking her as a source of potential conflict to be watched closely.

"You can try but don't blame me if you end up eating sand."

Turning her attention back to Rafferty, Ryuko frowns at him.

"I'm not really sure how you haven't heard about dark stalkers. They're... sorta like monsters straight out of the old fairy tales. Werewolves, vampires, undead, all that crazy shit."

She half turns to point one finger at the distant rubble that remains of the Black Dragon Casino.

"You know, those things that attacked the city and killed tens of thousands of people a few months ago?"

Shifting her gaze to Nena, the teen shakes her head in disbelief.

"Maybe you should get your 'uncle slash guardian' Simon to examine blondie's head for concussions. His memory is clearly faulty."

"Pretty sure I always had balls" Rafferty states, his eyes glancing Southwards as if confirming this statement.

Nonetheless, Nena's calm response to Edenlith's attack is very welcome. He lets out a nervous sounding laugh, breaking the tension he was feeling and moves to sit back down next to his sand strewn girlfriend.

"You know, I still haven't met this Simon guy. We should set up a dinner sometime. He can be assured that my intentions are honest." He follows this with a grin, suggesting they may be anything but.

The grin soon vanishes though, as Ryuko makes her verbal attack on him. "I only moved to Southtown in January" he responds meekly, which is quite a contrast to his usual confident tone. "Besides, all that stuff you said is made up, isn't it? Like Buffy The Vampire Slayer or something. I saw the reruns of that."

His blue eyed gaze looks down the coastline, to where Ryuko points and he shrugs his shoulders. "I guess it was all kinda crazy huh?"

makes a face. Something was starting to bother her. She went straight to Storm, and picks him. "Woah" He says, as she does so quickly. She looks at everyone in turn, and although there is no sign, her eyes clearly shows if anyone tries to grab him there will be a problem. Storm ends up curling up in her arms, like it's nap time.

When it looks like she has calmed down, she puts up one sign "Lucky I am not in the mood anymore, or we would see if you could make me eat sand." She then looks at Rafferty as the sign switches up. "I think your mind is just fine. And it works on its own!" She moves and sets her ass down on the towel she had, and grabs another strawberry, remove everything nasty, and feeds it to Storm. Storm seems to enjoy the nice attention coming from her. A last sign, at least from the moment comes from her. "I will destroy absolutely anyone trying to take Storm away for any reason whatsoever. He's mine, he's family. I don't care if an uncle, or whatever wants to see him."

Nena stares at Ryuko throughout the latter's side of the conversation. Her eyes seem to focus particularly on the antennae as they swivel toward Eden, her own head seeming to tilt to and fro in time with them as they maneuver - not unlike the sort of thing one might expect from a cat.

Perhaps Ryuko is onto something about the Space Cats from Neptune.

"Very well. I will request that Simon schedule a full cranial and optical examination of Rafferty. Would anyone else like to be scheduled for a full cranial and optical examination?"

Her expression remains stoic as she shifts her eyes from Ryuko to Eden, then finally down to Storm, eyes wide and questioning. She turns her head to Rafferty eventually.

"Rafferty. The invasion of Southtown, while predating our arrival in the city, is a matter of extensive written, visual and auditory documentation. Creatures known by the designation of 'darkstalkers' have received widespread recognition since the invasion of Metro City some years before. They are not a matter of fiction. Ultratech is a leading manufacturer in anti-darkstalker -"

Nena is interrupted at that point by Eden's interjection regarding Storm, and the ordinary teenage girl's head turns as she falls silent.

"I apologize, Eden. I do not intend to separate you from Storm. My uncle slash guardian Simon would not seek to retain possession of Storm without his consent. I would assure him of your potential grievances were Storm to submit to classification diagnostics."

After a few second's, the corners of Nena's lips pull into what one can only assume is the faintest and most unconvincing of attempts at a smile.

How is it the emotionless robot seems like the most normal thing here? Most of the time she's the one getting all the weird looks thanks to the implants in her head. But, after five minutes with these nutjobs, she doubts she'd hold a candle to their antics if they all found themselves in the same room with a bunch of randos. That's strangely comforting, in a weird 'Land of the Blind' sort of way.

"It is... definitely not made up," she responds slowly, keeping her response measured.

More than a few people she knew died in that attack. Eiji, the store clerk who used to smile at her whenever she got the munchies in the middle of the night and slipped out to the local convenience shop. Mr. Moto, the old man who always sat on the park bench on Saturdays to feed the birds. Ms. Tokawa, the old widow who used to go to yoga class with her mother. Rinko, the noisy cheerleader who never stopped yammering on in her math class no matter how many times she got rebuked.

She could go on but just thinking about it makes her head hurt. Sometimes having a nearly perfect memory kinda sucks. And the idea that there's people out there who just brush it all off as some kind of media hoax is damn near infuriating. Ignorance is bliss, huh? How nice it must be to have never experienced the pain inflicted by those damn monsters.

While the two broads go on about the stupid cat, Ryuko's friendly smile has morphed into something a lot less pleasant. She gives a cold look down at the privileged brats, a dark and ugly emotion starting to build up in her chest. Normally, she isn't the sort to engage in the kind of behavior her fellow delinquents are well known for but right now the urge to kick a big pile of sand right in their faces is starting to become difficult to resist.

But, resist she does. As much enjoyment as she might get out of it in the moment, she'd feel like garbage about it later. Let them have their innocence while it lasts. They'll find out sooner or later what the world is really like.

"Enjoy your meal."

Turning abruptly away, Ryuko starts to stride further down the beach in the direction she came. Her hands slide idly back into her pockets, fumbling for the packet of cigarettes she keeps tucked away in her skirt. With her back now turned to the trio of picnickers, they'd would now find themselves presented with a piece of information that had previously been hidden. Embroidered large across the back of her dark blazer, a wreath of crackling black flames forms a halo around a stylized demon's head. The oni glowers back at them, its fanged mouth parted into a sinister grin. Filling in the empty space around the monstrous silhouette, a field of russet brown highlights the edges of the logo, picking it out from the field of black cloth.

The symbol is easily recognizable by anyone who's ever seen it before. No doubt these three would likely be familiar. But, in case their knowledge of the local school system is as lacking as current events, a pair of dull yellow characters in large blocky print clearly spell out a single word: Gedo.

Rafferty turns his attention to Storm. After all, the two males in the group have a history together and he's concerned for his welfare. Seeing that the cat appears relatively calm, he attempts to offer comfort to his owner instead. Not being his natural forte, it may come across as rather clumsy.

"Just chill, yeah babe?" he suggests, throwing in an encouraging smile for good measure. "Nobody is gonna take your cat from you or anything." He grabs the bottle of champagne, that was rejected by Nena and sucks thirstily from it.

"As for the head checking, I think I'm good, babe" he informs Nena, rubbing at his scalp. "I just tend to filter out things that I read online, you know? There's so much fake news out there and what you guys are talking about seems pretty out there."

He remains silent as Ryuko makes her angry exit, sensitive enough to know when to hold his tongue, now he realises how upset she is. Once she's out of earshot he murmurs the word "Gedo". He visibly shudders and leans closer into Nena, as he adds "Like that guy with the knife."

Storm was calm, as he knew if he wasn't, Eden would be even worse at the moment, and it wasn't a good time for her to be worse. It was already a thin line. He opens his eyes, to give a smile to Rafferty, and then one to Nena. He had no problem with either of them. He had no problem with Ryuko either, but she was walking away now. He noticed the sign was the same.

Eden listens to Rafferty and gives him a smile that was as fake as Nena's, but not for the same reason. She was annoyed, and she couldn't do anything concrete about it right now. She couldn't leave Storm alone could she. She does make a sign. "it's all ok Nena, Rafferty."

She stays quiet after that on the sign side of things, until Ryuko starts leaving. She sees the symbol, and then it clicks in her head. "Just like the fun idiot with a knife, that ran away like he was the one pursues by a knife wielding individual. At least he was fun for a while."

After a moment more, she puts Storm back down, on the towel.Apparently she felt like he was safe enough now. She stretches and stands up, looking around as if she was looking for something in particular.

Nena's head turns toward the departing Ryuko as she walks away, the plastic smile that appeared briefly on her lips fading as the Gedo student departs. Optical receptors focus in on the symbol on the back of Ryuko's jacket.



"Please have a pleasant day," she bids Ryuko with a tone whose sincerity or irony is virtually inscrutable. She continues to watch her leave diligently - and perhaps slightly creepily, if anyone were to notice - until Ryuko disappears from view.

Finally, she turns her head toward Rafferty, noticing the bottle.

"Rafferty. I believe that you have failed to understand my concerns regarding your illegal alcohol consumption. Allow me to reiterate..."

Perhaps it was best that Ryuko went her own way, at this rate.

Log created on 12:53:04 03/15/2021 by Nena, and last modified on 18:51:46 03/19/2021.