Riven Reports

Kazuo tells Ami and Ikiko about Riventon's reappearance, in the park, with Fate and youma. Okay, mostly with youma. This goes about as well as most conversations between Kazuo and Ami do. Bonus: Kazuo and Ikiko consider what this might mean for Ayana, who's still having her own problems.

Date: 2017-08-08
Pose Count: 34
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-08 20:03:23 81271
TXT from Kazuo: If you happen to be free, I'd appreciate it if you'd be willing to meet me at King Penguin Park late this afternoon. Near where they're laying down new grass. My apologies for the delay; I should have asked a few days ago, but it's been a busy week. This is also not so urgent a matter; homework, family, or hanging out with friends are all higher priorities; please only come if you are genuinely free.

That was sent this morning to both Ami and Ikiko, with which part of the park the laying-down-grass is in specified. Unsurprisingly, Kazuo ... has probably been waiting since before Seishou's classes got out. He's propped himself in the corner of a park bench with a sketchbook and pencil to explain his lingering. The white hair is, also as usual, about as much as anybody needs to track him down. It's as good as a banner.
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-08 20:11:29 81272
A park meeting in the afternoon? That works just fine for Ikiko -- enough time to deal with some minor club things, then head over to meet Kazuo.

When she arrives, she's carrying her bookbag and her 'feeding of strays' supplies. "It's about that time of the month for feeding the strays on Clover Street," Ikiko remarks when she arrives, taking a seat on the bench. "Saves a trip this way, and they'll be pleasantly surprised when I'm a day early."
Ami Mizuno 2017-08-08 20:30:19 81273
Ami's reply to Kunzite was a quick, "I'll be there." Despite summer break, Ami still attends Chess club, and has her own experiments to take care of at the Command Center. But she's got plenty of extra time for meeting with friends about whatever it is they need.

Even if there's extra baggage with this particular friend.

Ami arrives dressed in overall-shorts over a scratch-and-sniff Applejacks teeshirt. She has saddle shoes on her feet with frilly-laced socks. Wire-rimmed glasses on her nose and a book in hand whose title reads, "Sur l'Esprit et le Corps." It looks like a textbook.

As she approaches, the bluenette doesn't seem to be paying much attention, but when she draws near she observes, "You look like you've been sitting here for two weeks. Which I suppose explains why you forgot that we won't have homework during Summer break." Ami closes the book around her thumb, then smiles to Ikiko warmly. "Hello."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-08 20:38:40 81274
Kazuo glances up at Ikiko's arrival, and puts down the sketchpad. Thus revealing that it has about eight lines on it. A couple of them are relatively clearly intended to be tree trunks, but it is not always clear which tree, or whether one of the tree trunks somehow has three sides. Naru he is not. He nods to her, and starts to nod to Ami -- then pauses partway through at her greeting. He blinks. Considers that. "Apparently," he says, "neither my own school being on break, nor knowing that Kino-san was doing something with Nephrite during a weekday, allowed me to think of that. I may need to delegate a few more things."

He glances between the two of them. "Have the two of you met? I have information that I thought the two of you should both have, if for different reasons."
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-08 20:44:41 81275
Ikiko Hisakata glances at Ami. "Given that she knows you, we might have met on the rooftops, but we haven't met at street level," the younger girl shrugs to Kazuo.

Turning towards the bluenette, Ikiko smiles. "I'm Ikiko Hisakata, first year middleschooler at Seishou; pleased to meet you! I'm also known as Cute Wolf Tsukiko; perhaps we've met before?"
Ami Mizuno 2017-08-08 20:52:40 81276
"This is why I took on a kohai," Ami points out to Kunzite gently, studying him almost like he were a mold in a petri dish. The awkward silence hangs on for several moments, even after Ikiko's greeting and introduction, before Ami blushes vaguely and tears her eyes away. She looks ot Tsukiko and smiles nervously, then explains, "Ah, we ... have. But I am not fond of ..." she trails off, then sighs. "Ah, I guess it doesn't matter. Keeping these things a secret is almost more trouble than it is worth. Sailor Mercury," she replies softly. "And Ami Mizuno, first year highschooler at Seishou. I think I've seen you on campus once or twice. Are you friends with Rashmi Terios? I've been tutoring her in a few things."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-08 21:02:50 81277
"Who is unavailable at present." Kazuo might have had second thoughts about not specifying identity, though that could have been initiated at either end. Not going through someone who is currently on another continent is not about to be a source of guilt for him. Still. Whatever conversational workaround he was planning ...

... is rendered unnecessary when both of them give their other names. He waits for the exchanges to complete before he nods toward the work being done. "That," he says, "came courtesy of one of Riventon's most recent experiments. He's both working with dark magic again, and choosing to do so at a time and in a place where innocents were likely to be affected. I thought you both needed to know."
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-08 21:18:20 81278
"She's not what I'd call a close friend, but definitely a friendly acquaintance at the very least," Ikiko replies to Ami. She'd even call her a comrade-in-arms, but she's not sure how much Rashmi and Ami know about each other, and Ikiko isn't one to volunteer someone else's info for them; better not to mention it at this point.

The younger girl frowns at the work being done in the park. "Great," she groans. "What was he trying to do this time?" She briefly recalls snippets of the times she's gone up against Riventon; not someone she'd want to fight alone, but definitely someone who frequently needs to be stopped.
Ami Mizuno 2017-08-08 21:22:13 81279
Ami blinks with a complete lack of understanding about the availability of her kohai. Mental note: Contact Rashmi later to make sure she's okay. gnoring it in favor of the more present matter, Ami turns to study the 'that' in question.

Pressing her lips together tightly, the bluenette allows her finger to slip entirely out of the book. It disappears to who-knows where, and she takes a single half-step towards the new grass work. Then she hesitates, before turning to regard Kunzite uncertainly. "Was anyone hurt?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-08 21:30:22 81280
"The new girl with the thunder was hurt fighting a girl that Riventon referred to as his kohai, but we were able to arrange to take care of her," Kazuo answers Ami. Apparently the was-anyone-hurt question takes precedence. "Raskoph took a few bruises, but we were able to avoid any serious damage. There was no evidence that the youma involved was based on an actual gorilla, even though it had the form of one, so nothing there. And no bystander injuries, courtesy the lack of bystanders."

He turns to Ikiko then. "He was running an experiment," he says. "He released a youma, which abruptly changed behavior and body language at the same moment that one of Riventon's ... pets ... appeared in the area. My suspicion is that he was working on a method of controlling otherwise unreliable youma, letting them become a more direct channel for his own intelligence and magical ability, and wanted a field test."
Ami Mizuno 2017-08-08 21:45:21 81282
Rage is writ across Ami's face, for the span of approximately one heartbeat. Then it washes away, to be replaced only by a numb analytical expression. She stares at the workers placing new turf, then inclines her head just faintly. "At the moment, I believe he constitutes the second or thir greatest potential threat in Virtue's database.

"Hana Shiroi remains a higher priority, as does the reemergence of the final portions of the Arthra. I appreciate the information, but Riventon is ultimately just a spoiled child begging for attention." Ami's lips twitch a little, before she adds, "I'm not sure there is anything I can do about it except provide the much-needed spanking he deserves, when he is caught in the act." And she is definitely not hiding how deeply this issue is affecting her. Not at all.
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-08 21:46:29 81283
Ikiko Hisakata looks thoughtful for a moment about the 'new girl with the thunder' comment. Might be someone she's met, but not really relevant at the moment. "Why am I not surprised that Alexis found himself in the fight," she sighs.

She blinks a bit at the description of the experiment. "Riventon controlling youma like a puppet? That's... well, it's certainly different," Ikiko muses. There's a quick glance towards Ami at the older girl's comments, but Ikiko doesn't ask about it.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-08 21:59:37 81284
Kazuo glances to Ami at that choice of words, but -- the difference between a spoiled child and a bereaved one may be real, but is less than relevant to the people injured in the resultant tantrums. "Since he and Hana Shiroi have both displayed an interest in the Puella system, I am somewhat unsettled by their being named next to one another. But it's accurate. Neither of them are malicious for its own sake; the harm they cause is secondary to entirely different goals. And that means they remain dangerous for longer."

His words are clinical enough. He's learned enough about expression in the last year and a half that his tone manages to say 'I'm sorry.'

A moment later, he adds something closer to that. "I regret having to tell you that he's returned to activity. But you needed to know. And you deserved to hear in person." He glances to Ikiko. "And you needed and deserved the same, for different reasons."

A breath. "It's different, but it makes sense and is useful for him; it potentially allows him to take on more dangerous tasks, or access more physical strength, without risking his own body. And Alexis ... well. He's Alexis. At least this time he planned in a way that allowed for his own defense; he's learning."
Ami Mizuno 2017-08-08 23:00:44 81286
"It's reckless and childish," Ami replies to Kunzite, almost correcting him. His apologetic tone seems to be met only with brittle iciness. "But I have come to expect no different from him. He will continue crying out for attention, hoping that people will play his game and dance to his tune. He thinks he means well. He thinks he is trying to save the world. And all the while he would doom it for an insult."

A brief noise of irritation escapes Ami's lips, then she turns and starts to walk away. But she pauses and glances back to ask, "Is there anything else?"
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-08 23:12:13 81289
"Good to hear that Alexis is getting wiser in surviving magical fights," Ikiko nods. "And... thanks for the heads-up about Riventon. While it's not good that he's being more active again, at least this way I won't be blindsided by it."

She ponders for a bit on Ami's description of Riventon. "A selfish brat," the younger girl muses. "And self-righteous, to boot. That... explains a lot, really." Ikiko's known a couple of cousins who fit the former description, and one in particular who matched the latter description for a while. "Doesn't make him easier to deal with, but it at least makes him more understandable."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-08 23:20:10 81292
"Yes. And he is responsible for his own actions. He is a problem. But the source of the problem lies past him, not with him." Kazuo is answering Ami, but he glances to Ikiko with that last. Then to Ami again. "Do you want a little time to yourself before I tell any of the others?"

It's a more polite phrasing than 'you have three hours before I make sure Makoto knows you're upset.'

There may be more he's got to say to Ikiko, but Ami is going thataway, and that gets a priority.
Ami Mizuno 2017-08-08 23:29:33 81293
Ami's noncommital response is probably not reassuring. "I'll be alright," she replies. Which is a more polite way of saying, 'You can tell them whenever you want, I certainly can't be any more upset!'
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-08 23:47:09 81298
Ikiko Hisakata waits until Ami is a safe enough distance away, then leans over to Kazuo. "Will she be okay?" she whispers.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-08 23:51:20 81302
Kazuo rises and bows toward Ami's answer, without delaying her further. To Ikiko, he says quietly, "Eventually, I think. I tend to raise her hackles, but there are other people she can accept comfort from, and she knows know that I'll let one of them know if she doesn't do it first."

He exhales, and adds conversationally, "I prefer dealing with my housemates. Most of them would have just punched me. The question for you is: do you think Ayana will be all right? I worry about her. But I don't know how to properly support or foster a kitsune."
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-09 00:07:24 81304
Ikiko Hisakata taps her chin as she considers Kazuo's question. "I'm optimistic that she'll be alright, but I'll admit that what she needs is something that can define her on her own," she sighs. "I mean, I can support her as a girlfriend, and my family was able to support her as a 'girl who can also be a fox', but that's not the same as supporting her as a kitsune."

Another sigh. "As far as helping her, I think at best what we'd be able to do would be like when she went to ask Inari-sama to make her a true kitsune: lending a hand as she takes the lead," she shrugs. "Other than that... I'm not sure what we could do beyond what we're already doing."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-09 00:20:10 81306
Kazuo inclines his head to Ikiko. "She tried to be a girl for you, but being only a girl is against her nature. Now she is trying to be a fox, but being only a fox is also against her nature. What worries me is that, when she was with Riventon, she was acting in accordance with her nature at the time ... which calls her, because while it was dangerous and hurtful to her, she was also able to be wholly herself then. And sometimes she forgets the danger and the hurt; and sometimes she forgets that her nature is different now."

He looks down at his hands, frowning. There's a little graphite on them from the not-really-a-sketch. "I remember when I was not myself, and she drew me into her small world, and showed me more of who she was. That potential is still with her. But she's turned away from it for the moment. I don't understand why -- whether there's a hurt in her that is healing, or whether she was stretching too far and should not have. I don't know whether there's a way to give her all that she needs. If the images in the fire were right ... perhaps this is the darkness it predicted. Or perhaps there's worse to come."

He glances up at Ikiko, and his expression is wry. "Or, most likely, you are correct, and I should trust in her and in her patron and only lend that hand when she uncurls. Not easy. I hate problems that I can't analyze."
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-09 00:30:24 81307
"If being stumped on how to help from the head is anything like being stumped on how to help from the heart, then I agree that it's frustrating," Ikiko nods ruefully. "As a being of twilight, there is both light and dark within her. Trying to keep that balanced can't be easy, especially when she has more experience one way than the other. Sort of like trying to walk a balance beam while swinging a heavy weight around sideways."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-09 00:40:03 81308
"And the dark..." Kazuo trails off, still looking down at his hands. He frowns at them; glances off after Ami for a moment, then back to his hands. Then up to Ikiko, slow. "Darkness turns inward, first, doesn't it."

He's about to say something else, but it visibly occurs to him that he is talking with Ikiko. "... that's ... that may not be something you have experience with. I apologize."
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-09 01:12:32 81309
Ikiko Hisakata pats Kazuo's shoulder. "Not directly, no," she agrees. "There was that one vivid nightmare where I had become a fully-afflicted werewolf, but that's not quite the same as actually living through it."

A thought both insightful and cringeworthy comes to her mind. "I could ask my cousin about it, but that wouldn't be helpful," she laughs wryly. "And having her talk with Ayana would be utterly unhelpful."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-09 02:18:34 81311
Kazuo does something Ikiko has quite literally never seen him do before.

Kazuo makes a face.

It's just the slightest hint of one, a little twitch of wry rue, but it's held for long enough to make it clear it's deliberate.

"You're probably right," he says. "I admit to thinking your cousin is an interesting person. But she has rather ... pronounced views, that are not always flexible in the places one might find them useful. Still. You remember that she was still there, at Shiniko's heart, yes? Turned inward on herself at the same time that Shiniko struck outward?"
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-09 02:25:08 81312
Ikiko Hisakata nods. "Kinda like two sides of a coin," she remarks. "If it turns towards one face, then the other face goes away from view. And trying to get it to stand on its side so both faces are visible is hard, to say the least."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-09 02:35:28 81313
"Cycles and balance. And imbalance." Kazuo's faint grimace this time is a genuine one, not feigned for an attempt at comic purposes. "That seems to be a theme this summer. At least you seem already to have dealt with your iteration of it, in that nightmare."
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-09 02:42:44 81314
"And wound up with a bunch of wolf-motes in the process," Ikiko agrees. "Although their rough number varies..."

She grimaces as she sees the natural phrasing coming, but continues on anyway. "...by the cycle of the moon," she sighs. "At least it's just the quantity of them that waxes and wanes, and not their personality."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-09 02:53:51 81315
"Why would their person--" Kazuo starts, which probably says a great deal about how many movies he did not watch before Beryl got hold of him. At least he stops. "Oh. Yes. I see. Strongest when it's full?" He glances skyward, as if to check, but it is a full moon tonight. And therefore the moon is not, in fact, out during the day. "I'm glad that your tangling with that theme seems to have come out to your benefit. Mine has been ... less so. But Akashimaru has offered to help me with it; so there may be more nightmares in the offing, but they're at least much less liable to have worldshaking consequences. I'll call that a benefit, as well."

A moment's pause.

"Do they have personalities? Your wolves?"
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-09 03:06:22 81317
"Not as much as Reiko's koi, nor are they as actively visible," Ikiko remarks. "They only appear when I'm Tsukiko, and they're indistinct enough that it's sometimes hard to tell how many there are, much less tell them apart. Given the nature of their origin, it might just be a case of not having had enough time to differentiate themselves from simply being independent copies of each other."

She looks at her left wrist -- the one where she had wound up wearing the quartered circle like a hovering bracelet during that post-nightmare fight. "In terms of personality, they're sort of like adolescent dogs: young enough to have a puppy's enthusiasm, but old enough to focus on work when it counts," she muses. "Definitely friendly; in a way, they're reflections of a fragment of myself, after all." The canine fragment, but as the defeat of her nightmare showed, it's more blended in than separately identifiable.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-09 03:16:23 81319
(Kazuo is wearing a quartered-circle on his own left wrist even now; but it's more along the lines of a fancy watch than anything hovering. Far, far less impressive.)

"It delights me," Kazuo says gravely, "that you have such a pack. They may be expressions or reflections of part of yourself, yes. But too many of us spend too much time alone."

He doesn't glance after Ami this time. He probably doesn't have to.
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-09 03:30:48 81321
Kazuo might not have glanced after Ami, but Ikiko's eyes flicker that direction momentarily. "Having someone to share your emotions with is definitely helpful," the sometimes-wolfgirl agrees. "That someone being truly external is best, but internal reflections that show up outside also work."

She then looks over at her supply of dog food and feeding bowls. "Speaking of packs and friends, I should probably head onward and go feed one of the packs of strays," she remarks, standing up. She gives him a bright smile and a hug, saying "Thanks for letting me know about Riventon and Ayana. Definitely needed to hear about both, albeit for different reasons."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-09 03:34:21 81322
Kazuo's response to the hug is delayed and slightly awkward, but not negative -- after a moment, he folds arms cautiously about Ikiko in turn. Someone will catch her scent on him when he gets home. That's all right. He wasn't planning to conceal this visit from Ayana in the first place. "You're welcome to drop by anytime you're willing to risk my housemates," he says gravely. "They're a lot like the packs of strays, except less civilized."
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-08-09 03:42:45 81324
Ikiko Hisakata giggles at this description. "I'd say the simple mindset of dogs helps in that regard," she observes. "Give them food and comfort, and that usually helps them stay happy!"

She heads off down the path, turning and waving before heading out of sight. Definitely some food for thought, but now it's time for food for strays.