Organ-ick things

Makoto's been asked to check up on Ami. Ami is SCIENCING. ... not entirely comfortably. Makoto gets to learn things about Linker Cores. And vampires.

Date: 2017-05-13
Pose Count: 17
Ami Mizuno 2017-05-13 02:36:49 76370
Of late, Ami has been disappearing more and more into the Command Center, though just what she's doing there is anyone's guess. 'Research', 'Science!', and 'smart stuff' are probably some of the answers senshi might give if queried as to Ami's intentions, and they're not wrong; however, it's not, strictly speaking precise. More to the point, however, is not what she's doing, but how much she's doing it. Ami went from school earlier in the day directly to the command center, and she hasn't come out since.

While Mama Mizuno is quite understanding of her daughter's independence--especially now that she knows the truth about magic--there is a limit to allowing her daughter to be utterly irresponsible. She hasn't seen Ami all week. (The girl's been literally sleeping in the command center .. or at least, she's been staying there all night; sleep is a questionable activity.)

Thus, late in the evening, when Ami's mother came home from a long shift to find her daughter still not there, without even signs that she'd come home to change, Seako decides enough is enough. There's one girl she knows can find her daughter no matter what, and so Makoto receives a short text: Could you please find my daughter and remind her that superheroes still need showers?

Admittedly, it's not quite that bad; Ami's hygiene isn't too much in question, since she's able to shower in school after PE class. But she has been neglecting much else, this week.

Deep in the Senshi Command Center, Ami is indeed still dressed in her Seishou school uniform. She hasn't henshined, but there's still clear magic at work: a visor over her eyes, a little black ball of darkness hovering in the air before her, held in place by a cage of coruscating energy. Little streaks of silver emerge from nowhere to probe at the darkness, but Ami seems to be taking things careful and slow, for the moment.
Makoto Kino 2017-05-13 02:53:32 76373
"Ami-chan...?" Makoto's voice precedes her down the stairs, hesitant, careful not to startle her friend while she's working. As she calls out, she's picking her way down from the arcade above - she'd already changed out of her school uniform when she got Dr. Mizuno's text, so she's in street clothes, a t-shirt and denim skirt and a canvas tote bag tucked securely under her arm.

She stops when she sees the ball of darkness inside that cage of bright energy. Her eyes widen, flicking from the ball to Ami and back, full of questions and uncertainties that she doesn't give voice to.

What she actually says, after some moments, is simply, "...what's that you're working on?"
Ami Mizuno 2017-05-13 02:56:38 76375
"Down here," Ami calls to Makoto without ceasing her work. The little silver rays begin slowing their assault on the core of darkness. It's still a few moments until the bombardment stops entirely, at which point, Ami sighs and leans back a little. Closing her eyes, she raises a hand before her, and the ball of darkness recedes towards the far distance, where it is locked away somewhere in the subspace of the command center.

The energy dies down, and the corona of power near Ami retreats with it. Her visor vanishes, and Ami turns to look up at Makoto with curiously raised eyebrows. She does look tired, but not in bad shape, at least. "Alexis Raskoph's ... mmm. Vampire Core? I'm not sure what to call it. It's not a Linker Core, but it functions similarly. Or it did, anyways."
Makoto Kino 2017-05-13 03:02:17 76377
When the ball of darkness is out of sight, Makoto comes the rest of the way over to where Ami is. Unslinging the straps of her bag from her shoulder, she sets it down in the nearest convenient place and studies her friend for a moment.

"I've never really understood that whole 'linker core' thing to begin with," she admits wryly. "But does that mean he's not a vampire any more? Since you took that thing out of him, I suppose."

A beat passes before she adds, in a mild tone, "Your mom asked me to check in on you and make sure you remember to shower."
Ami Mizuno 2017-05-13 03:05:33 76378
"..." Ami stares at Makoto, dumbfounded at the bluntness a moment, then opens her mouth to protest. Then she pauses, takes a moment to think, then nods and continues with her indignation. "I showered yesterday! Just after PE. You were there," she points out. A pause, then she asks, "Why is she wor--you know, if I have to ask this question, I should probably already know the answer. I guess I haven't really talked to her this week," Ami notes thoughtfully.

"Anyways," yep, there it went, back to the matter at hand she goes, "that's correct. But I didn't just remove his linker core; I actively severed it, and severed his ties to the Dusk Zone, so that when his new linker core regrew it would do so without the dark energies that were feeding the evil. Mamo-kun had to do a lot of physical restoration, as well."

There's a bit of a pause, then she asks, "Do you want to understand linker cores? Or should I avoid the detailed and possibly confusing explanations?"
Makoto Kino 2017-05-13 03:18:38 76380
Makoto pauses to consider that, but only for a moment before she shakes her head. No, she's not especially motivated to seek a proper understanding of linker cores. Not right now, anyway. "I'm more concerned about you right now," she says. "It seems like you've been spending a lot of time shut away working on this. Your mom's not the only one who's getting concerned."

She's quiet for a short space before she reaches for the bag she just set down. "Anyway, I brought you a change of clothes and some dinner. I bet you haven't eaten yet, right?"
Ami Mizuno 2017-05-13 03:24:55 76382
That Ami's stomach takes this moment to complain is no accident. The though of food reminds her that she's hungry, and Ami's expression of gratitude is as genuine as it gets. Politely, she doesn't rush the bag, but she does take an optimistic step forward. "W-well," she says, "I could probably eat." Okay now she's just lying. And she isn't even any good at it.

There's a frown as Ami comes to that realization herself, then admits, "See ... this is th e most successful I've ever been at dealing with Dark Energy safely. It's proof that I can cure him," Ami notes. The him is probably not Alexis. "But it's only about a third of the puzzle. But I'm finally making headway, Mako-chan. I'm starting to understand the link between life and magic in ways I never thought possible, and if I can just find enough time to complete my research, there are so many things I can achieve. I don't even know the possibilities, yet, but I've started to get some inklings of what they might be. I can't stop now, Mako-chan. There are too many people depending on what comes out of this research.

"Not the least of which is Takashi," she she mumbles, and not as an after-thought. There's shame in her tone and expression. She looks away from Makoto and the bag as she says it, then looks back worriedly. "He's getting worse," she says softly. "Or maybe I'm just starting to notice things that I refused to believe before."
Makoto Kino 2017-05-13 03:30:03 76384
The step forward is met with an invitation: Makoto holds out the bag to Ami, handing it over to let her freely raid its contents.

"Maybe it's a little of both?" she hazards. That this comes back to Takashi is not exactly a surprise. "I mean, I haven't run into him lately, which is probably best..."

Here she hesitates a little, absently clasping her hands together. "When you put it like that," she says in a slightly softer tone, "I can't really argue with you. But even though what you're doing is important... don't forget to pace yourself, all right? I'm a little worried that you've been working yourself too hard."
Ami Mizuno 2017-05-13 03:39:56 76386
Ami dives into the bag almost head-first, and comes out with the food first thing. Clothing can be changed later, right now she's starving. Drawing one of the small chairs from the extradimensional space, Ami settles down and puts the food on the shelf. Opening up the bento, she finds a deliciious veggie stir-fry with veggies, and little tamagoyaki. "Oh my god you're like an angel," Ami declares as she grabs the chopsticks and starts stuffing her face.

After a few bites, she swallows and nods her head, looking up to Makoto quietly. "I'll try," she says, "but if you catch me doing it you should probably warn me again. I honestly hadn't even thought of how much time I've been at it this week; I just know I've been making progress, and that if I keep at it, maybe a year or two from now I'll actually be able to share that progress with a much wider audience." A year or two.

Ami wrinkles her nose, finishes another mouthful of food (she's almost emptied the bento already), and then turns to glance at Makoto again. "He was attacking a factory; using his magic to turn the workers to youma. When I asked him how it could possibly attain his goals, he told me that the people writing his checks asked him to do it; that it was the price of having a funded lab. And when I told him I could help him get alternative funding, he just turned me down. He said he thought my ethics would get in the way of his progress!"
Makoto Kino 2017-05-13 04:01:17 76389
Mako can't help but grimace a little at that - even though this, too, she can't really call a surprise. "Sounds like he is getting worse," she says. "Or else he's just stopped trying to show his best face for you. Either way, that's no good."

She sighs softly and subsides a bit, quieting to let Ami eat. Despite the troubled shadow cast over her face, she can't help but smile fondly at the enthusiasm with which Ami's attacked the bento. It's always nice to see her friends enjoying the food she's made.

"It'll be okay," she says after a bit. "It's good that you've been making progress. I'll just have to keep reminding you to take breaks... you know, so your mom doesn't worry."
Ami Mizuno 2017-05-13 04:08:48 76391
The bento is emptied in short order, and Ami turns on the madeleines. One bite in and it looks like she's taken a bite of heaven. Her hunched, hungry nature is replaced by a slow shift towards bliss and pleasure as she chews the rose-honey cakes. The tension in her shoulders and back all fade away, and she smiles. Licking her fingers clean, Ami opens her eyes to offer Makoto the most appreciative expression she owns.

"These are so good," Ami observes as she reaches for a second little cake. "Anyways, I'll try and take the rest of the weekend off after tonight," she agrees. "And I'll set an alarm," she promises, "so I don't lose track of what 'after tonight' means. Thank you for coming to drag me out of myself."
Makoto Kino 2017-05-13 04:14:13 76393
"You're welcome~" Makoto's answer is a cheerful sing-song; it seems her mind has been set at ease. "Mamoru-niisan needed some emergency baked goods to feed Kunzite's dad. I thought maybe you'd like them, so I saved some for you." She grins and flashes Ami a quick wink. "What else are friends for?" It's clear she doesn't just mean the madeleines.

"Anyway," she adds presently, "that sounds like a deal. I don't want to get in the way of you making progress... I'd just hate to see it swallow you up. You know?"
Ami Mizuno 2017-05-13 04:31:08 76395
Ami slides off of the seat, after shoving the second madeleine in her mouth, then leans forward to give Makoto a tight squeezing hug. She'd probably say words here, but her mouth is full so instead she just holds on for a few moments, letting sturdy Makoto provide the stability.

When the hug finishes, Ami lets go and peeks back into the bag to start pulling out her change of clothes. She doesn't hesitate to start changing; Makoto's seen it all before anyways. "Mmm, so. Linker Cores," Ami says in the same tone she uses when tutoring, "are like ... your heart or your kidneys. Another organ in your body. Except instead of regulating your physiological functions, it regulates your magic. But they're not the only things that can do this: the Chara-bearers have their heart's egg, which as far as I can tell is the same thing as a linker core. We've got something similar, too, but I'm not sure what to call it. Previous me described it as our magical center, but never really named it. Mmm, modern texts might call it a chakra or ki point. Anyways, it's an organ. But if you pluck it you don't die; it regrows, just slowly. Unless it's prevented from doing so. So it's kindof like ... a finger nail, in that respect. Does that make sense?"
Makoto Kino 2017-05-13 04:41:32 76397
The hug is welcomed and returned, Makoto's arms wrapping warmly around Ami for as long as the smaller girl leans against her. No words needed - the meaning is clear enough.

When Ami pulls back and returns her attention to the bag and the change of clothes, Mako finds something suitably innocuous to lean on and listen to the impromptu lecture. "I guess so," she replies after some moments of thought. "It's a magic thing, not physical, right? That sort of abstract stuff always goes a little over my head. But I get the general idea - it's related to our magic, and it grows back if it's taken out, or at least it should if nothing's stopping it. Right?"
Ami Mizuno 2017-05-13 04:47:05 76398
"Correct," Ami says as she finishes adjusting her new shirt and skirt, smoothing out the wrinkles. She turns back to Makoto, now far more casual, and explains, "The interesting thing is, people without any magic seem to have them, too. The Chara-bearers noticed this first; or at least are the most willing to state it outright. 'All kids have a heart's egg', they'll tell you. And adults don't, usually, because they never reach their dreams.

"Except that's not quite true," Ami says as she leans against a suitable upright, facing Makoto. "Adults still have a magical organ, but it's different from the organ of a child or a teen in a way I don't yet fully understand. Unfortunately, to get to that point, I'd probably need to replicate the surger I did on Alexis Raskoph with an adult, and I'd rather avoid that. Even if it grows back, there's something awful about stealing someone's magic."

Ami's lips twitch in thought, then she explains, "I can remove them, though. A year ago I couldn't have done that. Hannah White figured it out before I did. And I know Taka-kun's done it a few times, too. Honestly, I got the inspiration from them, which ... feels a little dirty, too. But when someone needed it, it worked, and it seems to have had the intended positive consequences. I'm optimistic that the act itself is morally appropriate in the right circumstances." And that she's having to even say that may be a little worrying. "But I don't like having to do it. So ... I'm going to do a lot more research, and hope I'll find some better ways to manipulate the organ before I have to take that step again."
Makoto Kino 2017-05-13 05:03:44 76401
Really, it'd be more worrying if Ami wasn't thinking this much about the moral implications of her research. Makoto simply nods, not seeming much concerned, though from the way her brows have drawn together it's clear she's still parsing some of what Ami's said. "Well," she says eventually, "if anyone can figure that kind of thing out, it's you, Ami-chan. And it's definitely better to work on trying to figure out a better way of handling it now, before we need it."

A beat, and then she laughs. "And here I am, saying the obvious. What I mean is, I think it's a good thing you're studying it like this. I can't really help, but I'll definitely be here to support you with food and reminders to take time off and things." She's smiling as she says it, absently rubbing her hand against the back of her neck under her ponytail.
Ami Mizuno 2017-05-13 05:08:00 76402
"Mmm, thanks," Ami replies. She hesitates a moment, then reaches for another cakey rose-honey madelein. Whiel her mouth is stuffed with cake, Ami pulls out her tablet and quick-taps in instructions for a reminder, then glances back up at Makoto, smiles in her eyes. "Tell momma I'll be home tomorrow," she begs, "and that I'll be home all weekend? I promise. I just need to finish my current experiment, and then I'll be outa here."