LLK Act I.War - War : Taking a Stand

Description: With Shurui having recently recovered from her fight with an unknown psychic force, Hotaru's guest is at last back up on her feet. Perfect timing for a war to roll into Southtown! Safe for the time being, Hotaru and Shurui discuss how they might each in turn make a difference against the hostile invasion.

The Futaba Estate. A three floor mansion filled with expensive decorations, a number of beautifully designed rooms of varying purposes, and a staff of hired help that is around during the daytime hours. Shurui's stay should have been a comfortable one thus far - such as can be managed in her condition, that is. Hotaru would have kept tabs on her nearly any chance she got. Offering her 'medicinal teas,' plush animal gifts to try and lift her spirits, or even leaving Itokatsu to keep her company from time to time when she'd have to head out.

During the day, there was a staff that prepared meals, kept the home clean, tended to the yard. Pleasant people, they would have treated Shurui with the utmost kindness and respect, trying to see to her every need whether she was interested in letting them do so or not. The accommodations of the home are a mixture of traditional and modern. There's a living room with a respectably sized television, for example, but there's also literally a home theater in the back of the first floor. A music room off in one wing with a wide array of instruments to chose from... a gaming room, an indoor pool, a sauna...

The Futaba Estate - the dwelling of an upperclass Japanese family with generations of money. A peaceful, tranquil place, with every creature comfort Hotaru could come up with for Shurui as the other girl has tried to recover from whatever it is that plagues her. Such an idealistic spot. And right now... it's located in a city at war.

The northern reaches of Southtown Village have been mostly ignored by the invasion forces. Standing in her living room and gazing out the window toward the streets, the girl has seen from time to time a troop transport, or a parade of uniformed solders marching by. Thus far, the home has been left alone however, and the presence of invading forces has been limited in the area, as if whatever they were here for wasn't particularly located in the rich neighborhood...

Hands clasped behind her back, the girl is dressed in clothing she often wears around the home. Even dressed casual, she tends to have a Chinesed theme to her wardrobe. Black pants and a comfortable, long sleeved, floral embroidered Mandarin blouse today for example. Behind her the living room's large television is turned on but the volume is muted. News reports from around the city flash across the screen, showing incidents playing out all around Southtown. Confusion and pandamonium reigns, but it seems... so far at least, the invading force has not been making targets of civilians, sticking to fighting with the National Guard.

Breathing in and then exhaling softly, the girl clasps her hands behind her back. What a mess. What is being done about this? What /can/ be done about it? She becomes distracted when a blur of yellow leaps up from a soft chair at her side onto her shoulder. Hands come up to grip the ferret and pull him into a hug in front of her, "Oh, Itokatsu..." she exhales softly, staring out the large window. Smoke rises in the horizon. She can't imagine what might be burning over that way.

So many people to worry about, wondering if she can be out there making any kind of difference or if she'd just be in the way. The news reports don't seem to have a clue about why this is even happening. For now... she'll wait. She might need to provide housing for more than just one guest depending on how things begin to evolve.

Before she recovered, Shurui was a zombie, shuffled from hour to hour with depressed lethargy. And yet, as time went on, something seemed to respond to Hotaru's care, even as Shurui was just as likely to be seen attempting to do some of the staff's work herself or stare dumbly at the vast array of wealth at Hotaru's fingertips. .... All this. Hotaru could have simply lived in luxury here and not lift a finger to help anyone around her or at the YFCC, much less some stray K' brought in out of the need to see her situation resolved. She still remembers that kiss he gave Hotaru- will he forget that and only remember those words he said before? About how he didn't need anyone?

Even when Hotaru was somehow corrupted, she didn't become a creature of gluttony but of power; it seemed to not be in her character at all. Hotaru had to face a part of herself; Shurui has yet to understand what sorts of rage or dark emotions are within herself, if any. Could someone manage to do that, with only four years underneath their belt? A true four or five year old holds no true grudges or complaints; is she the same?

Then Alma came, and the world changed for the both of them. Shurui slept for what sleeped like forever after that, only getting up to groggily answer the call to nature as well as to eat before sleeping some more. And even then, groggy with the debt of so much sleep upon her, there was a pink to her skin and a clarity to her eyes that suggested health. The day she finally seemed to truly wake up, she was everywhere. Washing dishes, cooking, keeping her room in top shape... It seemed to be an order Shurui was proud of keeping, and the fact that food was on Hotaru's table seemed to make her even better. She wanted to do something back for Hotaru; that much was certain even if she voiced no such concern.

Shurui would have gone to school today, having fully recovered.

Ever since the soldiers came, Shurui hasn't stopped stalking through the house, wandering around like a pent-up tiger in a cage. Occasionally, she'd finding Hotaru and stand by her, a quiet presence sharing in the tense sadness before wandering back off. Nervous energy. She can't stay still.

The next time she comes into the room, Shurui finally speaks, helplessly holding her cell phone. "... I can't get through. The lines are packed." Visibly shaken, she walks up to the window, staring back out with her found second sight. Auras, she can see; little dots running through the streets before disappearing out of the range of her senses. Nothing coming here; either they don't know who's here, or they're not interested in stealing. She snaps back open her phone. "I was gonna go back today. To Gedo. I was actually looking *forward* to it!" Her breath hisses in her throat. Her eyes wince shut. She braces her head against the window pane, allowing the coolness there to seep against her skin. "Probably the YFCC too. Dunno about Chinatown... My dad's business... I hope the new owners are okay..." She mumbles. "... They have two kids. Fraternal twins. I suppose they could have hid upstairs in the apartment Dad and I had..." She's mumbling aloud. ".... If I went out there, Hotaru...." Her head turns, dark eyes looking towards the young girl's face. ".... Would you..." She closes her eyes. ".... No. I can't..."

Her sigh collects against the glass. "... I want to keep you safe too... Two fighters are better than one, right...?" Something in Shurui's face tells a completely different story. A conflict.

Seeing Shurui recover was all Hotaru could have hoped for. What befell the girl or what transpired to make her feel better were not any of her business and she had mostly left the grey haired girl free to share what she would like but otherwise never pried. Her role was to make sure she was as comfortable as possible through the course of her ordeal. Whatever matters the girl wanted to keep private were her business. She was glad to see Shurui getting better if regretting that it would be likely that she'd need to return to the southern end of Southtown - to Gedo High. The home would be lonely again, but that was perhaps to be the way of things.

As her guest joins her in the comfortable living room, Hotaru tears her attention away from the window to give a supportive smile to Shurui. "I'm sure the phones are tied up with so many people trying to call in or out... I can't help but wonder if the right thing to do is just get as far away from this city as possible." She shifts her posture to face the other girl directly, falling quiet as she speaks of how she was looking forward to getting back to school. "I bet your friends have missed you. At least Kenji was able to swing by, right?" she asks, having been aware of the visit even if not able to meet the young man at the time.

Her furry friend slips from her arms back to the floor, scurrying off toward Shurui to run circles around her ankles for a moment as the Futaba girl falls quiet again. Azure eyes blink slowly as she takes in the concerns of the Gedo student thoughtfully. As she speaks of going out there, the corner of Hotaru's mouth curls into a faint smile, "You're not going out there alone, Shurui. You've only been back on your feet for such a short time. I have no doubt you can defend yourself, but..."

A soft inhale and exhale as she continues to ponder the options before them. "You know... the invaders don't seem so strongly present in this area. Whatever they're here for, the news seems to place them as pushing closer into the more dense areas of Southtown. Downtown area, business district, Gedo street area..." she continues, sensitive to how worried Shurui might be about the situation way own at Gedo. "I have... a lot of room here. I don't know... maybe we could find people and have them come here if they need a place to stay while this all plays out?"

She glances back toward the window, frowning faintly. There were reports of fighters trying to take stands out there but she had yet to leave. Not while she wasn't sure about Shurui's condition. Not until she knew where she should even /go/. She rests one hand behind her head, looking back toward Shurui, "We could fit a lot of people here if we needed to. I could open up the dojo for more space too..."

If K' hadn't found Shurui and taken her here, there's no telling what Shurui might have done. Maybe, she would have placed more people in danger by being around them, or, perhaps, fail to be suspucious around the wrong people. It was clear by the time Shurui met him that her plan wasn't doing well at all, and, like everything that's happened since she's fallen into this predictament, she was desperate. A girl who only asked out of neccessity at the expense of her pride now clinged to what she could out of fear of what would happen next. And Hotaru was there for her, giving Shurui more than the girl could ever possibly ask for, and then some. She became a stabilizing factor in a world that Shurui saw as increasingly dark, and when it became light through the influence of her and fellow friends, it became so clear what a precious resource Shurui had.

"Yeah." Shurui slowly nods at Hotaru's words, her brow wrinkling in thought. "Don't think it'd be good to abandon this place, though, unless we plan to never come back. Strategically... we have something. Besides... This is your home. You have memories here." She looks up. "If you wanna send the staff away, though, that's fine. I can take care of things." Well, immediate things, anyway. The mansion's too large for one temp maid. "Besides.... depending on what's attacking the city, they might have you or me on their lists already. We're not high on their lists. At least we're not alone, here."

Come to think of it, Hotaru probably gets lonely here, all by herself. No family. Such a huge estate should mean there is a family to support it, and yet, only Hotaru stands here. As Shurui thinks on this, the agile ferret winding around her ankles draws her attention, showing up as a fainter aura than her and Hotaru's own. Not that the ferret had less of a soul or whatever; from what Shurui could tell, it might be more that her sight is attuned to a certain wavelength. Fellow humans presented the most danger, animals second. Plants, none. Itokatsu's pulse brings a small smile to her as she kneels down and tries to pet it, drawing away if it seems to object. "Y-yeah. Kenji was here. We talked a bit. He was giving me the homework that I missed." She looks upward, a motion that's more a mannerism to continue her thought rather than to look directly at Hotaru. "I didn't invite anyone in, though."

She continues to carefully pet Itokatsu, seeming to be calmed by both his and Hotaru's presence. Her eyes close in thought. "..... I wonder what they're trying to do, attacking Gedo... I have to go there. I'll come back here, though, once I figure out when I can. I don't intend to leave you alone anytime soon. Not until I think it's alright to leave you." She stands. "This house is larger than any I've been in before. Too large. Maybe the way to pay you back..." She tilts her head, thoughtfully. Carefully. Unsure of her words. "Maybe I can do it by just being here. I did that for K' and Whip- I can do that for you, after all this is over. Would you be okay with that? I can promise you that it'd be okay with me."

Shurui suggests that they keep to the estate for the time being and Hotaru nods slightly. Leaving the city might be prudent, if possible. But it would also put her far away from her friends. She can't just depart Southtown without taking care of tracking down a lot of people first... and if they won't leave, then what? Perhaps she's here until there's no other choice. "It is," she acknowledges with regards to the place being her home. "But I've left it before."

She glances to the side, eyes tracing over shelves of figurines, framed photographs. There was a time when it didn't feel like home at all. But that did change eventually. Her attention snaps back to the other girl as she mentions the idea of 'lists' and the possibility of being on them. "Hm," she muses thoughtfully, glancing back through the window. "I don't think so... They seem focused on the heart of Southtown so far. If they were coming for us, they're taking the long route." she manages the faintest hit of a smile to suggest that she's just trying to lighten the mood moreso than refute Shurui's point.

The creature at Shurui's feet slows when she crouches to pet it as Itokatsu seems grateful for the affection, churring softly as it holds still at last. Shurui mentions Gedo and her need to go to it and Hotaru nods hesitantly. "If you think it's a good idea. Be careful..." It's a long ways from the wealthy northern Southtown Village region. A lot could happen. "I'd come with you... but I need to make sure a few people are safe before I leave. I'm still waiting for some replies to messages left." Kentou. Frei. Alma. Where are they now? Why hasn't she heard anything.

As Shurui continues, however, Hotaru's attention focuses back upon her, a faint, gentle smile crossing her lips, "You don't owe me anything, Shurui. But you are welcome to stay for as long as you would like. Just make it back safely, okay? Direct calls seem to be difficult to make, but text messages are getting through." Her hand comes up to her face to rub over her eyes for a moment, releasing a quiet sigh. "Bring anyone you can find back here if they'll come. I don't think it's safe to be scattered around out there. I'll be helping my staff stockpile everything we can get our hands on in terms of supplies in the meantime."

"..." Shurui gives Hotaru a nod. "... I guess the main thing is that we can use this as a place for people to come to. They might lock the city down, at this rate, and when that happens, places like hospitals will be filled, providing easy targets for whoever's trying to invade." Who *is* trying to invade, anyhow? Who'd pull something like this off? Not even NESTS seemed this crazy, at first glance. .... Not unless they had some help.

"Well, not now, but maybe later." At first, the Gedo girl seems to not immediately understand Hotaru's need to cheer things up, not until she looks up and gazes at the fellow fighter's aura. "... Oh. Sorry." She manages a sheepish smirk, her fingers settling against the now stilled Itokatsu's soft fur. "Yeah, we wouldn't have to worry about now, would we?"

"It's... not a matter of it being a good idea. If you asked K', me going anywhere would be a horrible idea." Her lips turn in a wry grin. "However, I can't sit here not knowing what's going on out there. To my friends. And I don't want to ask someone else to check on people important to me when they're in the same situation." Her shoulders lift in a shrug. "Besides, if one of my friends at Gedo gets it in their head to play epic hero, I'm going to have to be there to smack some sense into them."

It would make sense that Hotaru would need to check some people herself; the pig-tailed girl has earned Shurui's consideration. There's also a second layer to this, one that lies in the ties between them. "I'm going to Gedo. If you can, tell me how the YFCC is. I... really owe Alma and Frei." She looks down. "... Alma did the same thing for you, right? Once?"

The question comes vague and out of nowhere, the first admittance to Alma's visit and its effects. However, as if to dismiss any obligation to reveal anything private, she adds, "You have a good heart, Hotaru. I can see why even K''d trust you."

"We should use this place for as long as it's safe," Hotaru replies, "And no longer than that." Leaving again... it would be harder this time. But ultimately she would let it go rather than stay behind. Not the sort to weather a hurricane in a home that won't hold against the storm, the girl's emphasis on surviving anything thrown her way is too high for that kind of mindset. "With a lot of people here, we might be able to hold the line if it comes down to it."

Shurui admits what Hotaru had suspected. She's well aware that going out there isn't a good idea. If she felt it were her place, she would advise against it. But while K' entrusted the girl into her care for her sickness, he didn't make her her mother by any means. She's a guest, not a prisoner. If she wants to leave... "I wish I could go with you." she admits as she starts to pace the living room floor. "But you know the area at least. And the people there. Just be careful... I have a feeling they're going to need your help."

She stops her pacing, turning to face Shurui again, her right hand resting against her cheek as she continues to look both stressed and thoughtful at once. "I'll let you know as soon as I find out anything. I might just need to head over there myself.." Her voice fades as Shurui glances down and fires off another comment that seems to derail the Futaba girl from whatever she was about to say. "I-" She closes her mouth, eyes blinking before she turns to the side again.

She stays silent, up through Shurui speaking again, commenting on the nature she sees in her. "I never told anyone." How does Shurui know? Would Alma tell? Maybe... it didn't seem likely though. She puts such speculations out of her mind quickly. It doesn't matter. She trusts Alma and she trusts Shurui. She decides to leave it at that. "But yes, he did. I'm glad he was able to help you. It's a relief to see you up and about again, looking so much better."

She bows her head, folding her arms in front of her. The compliment wasn't missed, in spite her quietness on the matter. A faint hint of pink at her cheeks is all the allowance given it. "Thank you. Take anything you need with you. Be careful, Shurui. And bring back anyone who needs shelter. That's all I ask."

"Yeah." Shurui considers this, a finger tucking underneath Itokatsu's chin to rub it. "Feels bad to leave your home behind, but it's better to stay alive." She tilts her head, her gaze still on the ferret. "No use for a home when you're dead. But." Straightening from her kneeling position, Shurui ponders something over in her head. "The idea of getting people here is a good one. If it gets bad enough, we can sneak people out through the forest, maybe." And then what? ".... We'll then..."

... Shurui can't think of anything, despite that urge to keep formulating answers to each and every 'what if' scenerio she can think of. Truth be told, she's not even sure if the forest outside Hotaru's estate leads to anywhere that could be useful as an escape measure. "... I suppose it's as good as any place to collect the wounded," she finally adds, closing her eyes. "Once I come back, I'll do whatever I can to help."

Shurui's cheeks blanch at Hotaru's admittance; she casts her eyes to the floor. "... Mn. Sorry. I just saw a brief glance in his mind's eye. ... I didn't see anything personal, beyond that. Just you, being happy about something. Facing him. Something about a similiarity." She regains her composure, letting out a soft sigh. "It didn't make me feel so awkward when I woke up, thinking that you did the same thing. I felt I didn't have to explain anything to you. Why I was well. Why it wasn't just because he came. You understand, right?" She shrugs. "... I'm not gonna talk about any of this with anyone. It'll be awkward enough to explain even if I had the nerve to do it."

Hotaru, Alma, K', Frei, Kenji... everyone had a hand in making her well. Shurui has to extend some hand back, or she'll miss the truest friends she's met in her short time here. However, in going, one thing is certain; Shurui will be alone. This prospect does not seem to concern Shurui too much, as Hotaru's concern is waved off with a lax hand. "Focus on your friends. I'll focus on mine. We'll get the info out, and convene when we have to." Her eyes open, her mouth now creasing in a charactistic frown. "Focus on keeping yourself alive and well; I better not come back to a body. What would I tell K' or Alma?"

.... Shurui's back to normal, more or less.

Log created on 02:17:04 02/14/2009 by Hotaru, and last modified on 13:34:17 04/02/2009.