No Title Set

Date: 2018-05-05
Pose Count: 21
Kazuo Takeba 2018-05-05 00:46:30 91096
It is not the usual entrance. Homura and Madoka know perfectly well that there are three other apartments up there, near-mirrors of Mamoru's; they've seen them in detail, though not seen them finished, exactly. The one Kunzite routed them to is the west-facing one, almost always locked.

They may or may not have been expecting to find out that it now houses a piano.

Where the main apartment is designed to stand rough use, this one holds delicate things, fragile things: the carpet is beautiful, the furniture is well-chosen and expensive, there are paintings on the walls and a Go board set up on an endtable beside a wingback chair. There is hot water ready for tea; there is, inevitably, a plate of cookies, because this is after all the same home even if it's a strange and mutant part of it. There is quiet.

(There may be a tiny bit of shed fur lurking here and there, granted, but only because it's physically impossible to keep anywhere entirely clean.)

Kazuo lets them in, and locks the door behind them against the possibility of anyone else trying it. The jeans and rolled-up shirt sleeves look particularly incongruous against this setting. "Thank you both for coming," he says quietly. "Have you been settling in acceptably, so far?"
Madoka Akemi 2018-05-05 01:03:49 91097
    Madoka had seen all the rooms when they were in the process of being built, but once the actual furnishing had begun her part was over. It's quite a surprise to see such an elegant and beautiful area as she arrives through the side entrance, letting out a soft, "Ohhh," as soft pink eyes sweep slowly across the area, pausing to look at the furniture and exquisite paintings. It seems out of place in a set of apartments she mostly knows to be rowdy and rambunctious a fair amount of the time, with various visitors sweeping in and out either at a whim or, as this one is, planned ahead of time.

    Silently she chides herself; not all people or even all boys are the same, even in such a tight knit group as this one.

    She's wearing a simple light pink dress with a few white frills around the collar, hem and shoulder height cuffs, with short white socks and matching white shoes adorning her feet, though the later are duly removed immediately upon entry.

    "Thank you for inviting us, Kazuo-kun," she replies with a smile, walking in a little ways and then looking back to him as he locks the door. "Things at home have been... difficult, but they're starting to get better. Mama and Papa are getting over the shock of me being back. Tatsuya acts like I was never even gone; though he's grown so much since I last saw him that--" She cuts herself off there and blushes a little, looking shy for a moment while she realizes she'd started prattling on.

    It only takes a moment for her to recover, and she looks around the room again rather purposefully and replies, "I like what you've done here. It's very refined." No comment is made about any potential hair; Amy leaves plenty around Homura's house so she knows how impossible it can be to keep it all cleaned up. So long as it isn't allowed to get completely out of hand it's simply a fact of life if one keeps a pet around.
Homura Akemi 2018-05-05 01:11:21 91098
    Homura has most certainly hasn't seen these rooms furnished, so this is all new to her.

    After thanking Kunzite for welcoming in and entering the room, the first thing she notices is just how clean and delicate everything is. It's a little surprising, though the only surprise she conveys is a soft, "Oh!" and a slight widening of her eyes. Her purple gaze stays on the piano for a few moments before moving on to look into the rest of the room.

    She quietly notes that the door is locked behind them. It was also locked before they came in. This is a private place.

    "Well, it's been a bit jarring at times, but I think I've adapted. In some ways it's less jarring than jumping backwards in time. At least everyone remembers you."

    She flips her hair behind her, letting her locks fall against her white t-shirt top and eventually reaching down to her black skirt. Shoes are left by the door, because of course they are, even if the apartment wasn't as nice as it is.

    "It's a nice place," says Homura, if her cool gaze hadn't already made that opinion clear. "It suits you."

    The fur is barely even noticed. Not all of the hair found around Homura's house is Amy's.
Kazuo Takeba 2018-05-05 01:23:14 91099
Kazuo bows a little in answer to the compliments. "None of it to my credit," he says. "Izumi, however, indeed has excellent taste. Zoisite, if you happen to know that name. He and I share this part of the place. He's with Mamoru at present, so far as I can guess, and our other frequent visitor is asleep. So we have little chance of being interrupted."

He regards Madoka for a moment, lingering. "I'm glad to hear that your parents are adjusting quickly. But then, they have the best of reasons to. And I'm likewise glad," he says to Homura, "that you've been able to catch up without much delay." Even if the news is sometimes deeply strange, well. That's always the case. And even if he's suggested there are other things to catch up with ... well. "Would the two of you like tea?" He's already moving to arrange this. Of course. Because whether or not they want the tea itself, it's only polite to have props available in case they're desired, in certain kinds of potentially-awkward conversations.
Madoka Akemi 2018-05-05 01:40:04 91100
    "Then please pass my compliments along to Izumi-kun," Madoka replies, wanting credit to go where it is due. She looks over to Homura briefly and follows her gaze, tilting her head a little when looking at the piano, motioning to it lightly she looks to Kazuo and asks, "Does one of you play?" Now without presumption it may be one or the other, since she'd already been corrected once.

    She gives a warm, genuine smile to Kazuo as he responds about her parents, "So am I, very much. It was very hard at first but once it sunk in that I wasn't going to disappear on them again they were just happy to have me back. I feel bad for having put them through it though." After a moment of pause her smile turns slightly apologetic, "Both my family and my friends."

    Using the tea set and cookies as a guidepost when Kunzite inquires about tea, Madoka goes over and sits to get a little more comfortable, though is notably careful with the elegant, potentially delicate furniture if it's to be used.

    "I think I'd like some tea yes, thank you," she replies. Were they meeting in the main room she might decline, but seeing that it's all ready and the effort to prepare has already been made she decides it won't be too much of a bother and if Kunzite is going to be a gracious host she may as well allow him to be so to his fullest.

    Besides, isn't there something very nice about having tea in such a elegant setting every once in a while?
Homura Akemi 2018-05-05 01:48:19 91101
    'Deeply strange' has been an apt descriptor for Homura's life for far longer than it hasn't. Adapting quickly is normal for her, even to some extremely ridiculous and unfair situations. She offers Kazuo a small smile, "Thank you. The fun never ends, does it?"

    "Please," says Homura, in response to the offer for tea. She will probably drink some, just to be polite, and if she does get nervous she might drink a bit more. Either way, Homura is not one to refuse Kazuo's hospitality. She watches carefully as Madoka goes to find a seat, and then follows suit to sit next to her. Homura seems right at home with so much elegance, sitting properly and politely as she is.

    "I'm glad to see you've all been holding up all this time, despite difficulties. It really feels like you've all come a long way in the past year or so."

    Homura glances away for a moment, then back at Kazuo, without so much as moving her head. "Sakura-san is probably the biggest change. I've never seen her so... mature."
Kazuo Takeba 2018-05-05 02:02:45 91102
"Izumi plays, yes. He's rather good at it." Nobody tell Kazuo how often the things he plays are thieved from video games, granted. Blithe in his ignorance, Kazuo moves to provide the tea as he listens. The cups he hands Madoka and Homura are matte-glazed, with a casual line or two of contrasting color. Good enough to fit in the room; mundane enough that clearly no-one will worry if anything happens to them. He takes one for himself and settles across from the pair. (That wingback chair is casually left empty, as if someone unseen were already somehow sitting there.)

"Sakura-san has a remarkable amount of potential," Kazuo says. "And is at an age at which people sometimes begin to realize it very quickly. I'm pleased to hear that she may be doing so; it's been some time since I've seen her, myself, but I'm aware that she's been going through a challenging time. As one does." Homura's right. It never ends.

(He does not reply to Madoka's not-quite-apology, per se. But the briefly awkward glance away suggests that he doesn't think the apologetic part is warranted.)
Madoka Akemi 2018-05-05 02:18:35 91103
    "That's wonderful," Madoka replies readily. "It'd be lovely to hear him play sometime, if that's something he does for others." The qualification comes because she's noticed exactly what Homura has, that this is a private space for both Izumi and Kazuo. Kyosuke Kamijou may be the type of person who wants to share their talent with the world, but Madoka understands that others might prefer to play only for themselves and those closest to them, for whatever reason.

    The teacups may not be as delicate and fine as the other things in the room, but Madoka will still be careful with them, holding her saucer in one hand and cup in the other for maximum balance.

    And no, she does not extend her pinky. Is that actually a sign of high class, or just the plebian representation of it, anyway?

    She takes a sip of tea and smiles lightly to Kazuo afterwards as it is good and pleasant, speaking up about Kyouko afterwards, "She's very protective. I'm not even sad she seems a little suspicious of us still, because it shows just how much she cares about Mamoru-kun, and everyone else. It makes me happy that she's found a family for herself here, even if it took a lot of pain and struggling." Because as Homura and Kazuo have pointed out, there is always pain and struggling.

    Her interest is piqued however, "Is something difficult happening with her now, though? That isn't related to Mamoru-kun and, um, 'Earth'?" She heard about that second hand through Homura, so she is cautious about misspeaking while knowing so few details. Even moreso she's aware whatever Kyouko's challenges might be are possibly not for Kunzite to speak of if she hadn't heard already.
Homura Akemi 2018-05-05 02:26:28 91105
    Tea arrives, and Homura is all too happy to take a cup of it in her hands, letting it warm her palms for a moment before taking a sip. The teacups are a little more practical than delicate, and that's fine with Homura: the girl who once slept with an ammo crate under her bed.

    Potential. Well, that's one way of putting it. In a way Homura is glad. In another way she's quietly hoping that Kyouko doesn't decide to make a threat out of herself. Well, a threat to Homura anyways. She hasn't quite caught the fact that Kunzite might be thinking of a different Sakura-san altogether, though she does note the lack of familiarity in his choice of words.

    "I had a conversation with Kyouko-san the other day. She mentioned a few things about Sailor Earth, but she also mentioned a few things about Kyubey and the White Flower. The issues with Grief Seeds and Grief Cubes doesn't seem to be a pressing problem, but the implications of it are disturbing."

    Yes, it's Kyouko-san and not Kyouko-chan. It will be a long time, if ever, before it's Kyouko-chan to Homura.
Kazuo Takeba 2018-05-05 02:39:10 91106
Kazuo answers Madoka's suggestion about Izumi's playing with a wordless nod of his head. It would be lovely if Madoka could hear him play. Kazuo hasn't the faintest guess whether or not that will ever happen; Zoisite is forever a mystery to him, in many ways, and while Kazuo appreciates that greatly, it has the occasional side effect.

Other mysteries: names, apparently. Names are definitely a mystery that Kazuo is having trouble with solving correctly tonight.

"I apologize," he says to Homura. "For some reason, I thought of the wrong Sakura; Kinomoto-san, the girl with the cards, was the one that came to my mind. But ... yes. The change is not an immediate problem for Kyouko, no more than it is for the two of you. I suspect it may be an immediate problem for some of the less experienced and less skilled Puella, but finding them to assist them is beyond my own skill. I haven't heard of anything terrible happening with Miki-san, at least. But ... yes. The implications are disturbing. So is the fact that Kyubey paid us a visit to speak of the matter."

He pauses, studying the tea in his cup; holding it steady, so that the surface bears no ripples. Then glances up to Homura and Madoka, each in turn. "Hana Shiroi is apparently attempting to steal the Puella system from the Incubators. All of it."
Madoka Akemi 2018-05-05 03:01:18 91107
    Alas though there is beauty in mystery one can not contend with the fact that the enigmatic are, in fact, an enigma. That Kazuo doesn't respond to her comments verbally is enough for Madoka to understand he isn't at liberty to say, though not why that may be. Perhaps she'll have to ask Izumi in person, should they ever meet.

    "Oh!" she reacts with slightly widened eyes when the name mixup is revealed. She's glad that Kyouko isn't going through any difficult personal matters, but it isn't exactly good that someone else is. She sets her tea down for the moment when the issue that she came here to discuss is brought up, leaning in a little while Kunzite speaks. She nods along as he mentions the reduced energy renewal from Grief Seeds not being an enormous issue for seasoned hunters, though quite possibly for those who are less skilled. A small bit of relief is visible as she hears that Sayaka is okay. She definitely is going to have to catch up with her soon.

    She's about to comment on Kyubey showing up as Kazuo pauses, only to settle as he looks back to her, and then Homura. Her eyes widen and she looks to Homura in alarm, almost jumping out of her chair, only to reconsider and set herself fully back down. "I don't like it. It's scary to think of what a Witch might do if she took control away from the Incubators. I don't know everything that happened, except that she was very powerful and very dangerous."

    She sits back and crosses her arms lightly, thinking over the implications. "What Kyubey does is terrible. He tricks girls into making wishes knowing and expecting that their hope will fade and drive them into despair. He uses us like tools, because he wants to extract something from us, the energy he colletcts." She's quiet for a moment and shakes her head, "But Hana Shiori, if she had control... I can't help but feel that she'd use it to harm us and menace us directly. As terrible as Kyubey can be, he doesn't act out of malice, or hate, or despair."

    She then looks directly at Kazuo, and then Homura, "...but the fact that taking control away is even possible, even a little bit, that might be worth learning about." Almost instinctively her flick about, to shadows and the corners of walls, and just outside the window, looking for beady little red eyes.
Homura Akemi 2018-05-05 03:11:29 91108
    Homura raises an eyebrow. Sakura Kinomoto? Oh, well she supposes she was being a bit vague by using Kyouko's last name. Homura's still a little bit used to there being only one Sakura-san in town. "Aha. Well that explains it. I thought it was strange that you would use her last name so formally."

    Homura considers the prospect of new Puella Magi dealing with this situation as she carefully sips her tea. It's true that it'd be a problem, but Homura has been out of the loop for so long that she doesn't even know who the noobies are anymore. Miki should be able to handle herself by now. Homura might've said as much, but what Kazuo says next completely derails her train of thought.

    Homura listens intently to Kazuo. A visit?

    Then more details are given, and her purple eyes narrow. Her voice is a cold angry tone as she says, "Oh really?" Her eyes meet with Madoka's for a moment. Homura is not happy about this, and it's not hard to see it in her eyes.

    She slowly takes a sip of her tea, trying to gather her thoughts on that bit of news while Madoka says her piece. When the cup parts with her lips, she wears a wry smile. "It's true. Anyone else, and I might commend their effort. However, as bad as Kyubey can sometimes be, I can only imagine Hana Shiori being far, far worse. She has made it clear that she considers magical girls to be her enemy."

    Her gaze levels with Kazuo, watching him over the rip of her teacup. "I wonder how she hopes to manage such a thing. It's a little late for her to use a wish."

    She lets her teacup rest in her hands for a moment, and then she looks down into it. "I remember her. She called out to me, from within her Grief Seed. She called me a kindred spirit... Though I think she only said that because she wanted me to release her. That one... is unique among Witches."
Kazuo Takeba 2018-05-05 03:35:59 91109
Kazuo doesn't speak until the other two are done; he waits, and takes a quiet sip of tea, and listens. Trying to sort what they're saying and compare it to what he knows. Trying to find an efficient way to give them information without overburdening them.

(At least he has a far easier audience to do this with than Homura did when she gave her mass warning about Walpurgisnacht.)

"Hana Shiori," he says finally, "considers herself an artist; her medium is reality. She appears to have a limited range in some respects. But all Witches shape the quasi-reality inside their own Labyrinths. I don't know what her limitations are, there. I do know that her primary interest is her own survival, at all costs. Kyubey implied to me that her intent was ... mn. Not precisely to destroy the universe, so much as that she found the destruction of the universe an acceptable, or possibly outright convenient, side effect of her goal of reshaping reality to ensure her personal survival."

He turns the cup in his hands, without looking at it at all now. Glancing between Homura and Madoka again. "Kyubey also claimed that the Incubators created the Puella system as a kind of ... patch on the universe. A bandage. That the Universe is -- 'not self-sustaining,' is the description it used. Forgive me, and understand that I will understand if you choose not to answer this, but -- do either of you recall it saying anything similar in the past? It chooses very carefully which parts of the truth it chooses to tell. But I've seen already that its choices at different times may, when compared, shed more light than it would prefer. And I think you both have known that far longer than I have."
Madoka Akemi 2018-05-05 03:59:05 91110
    Madoka frowns a little as Homura says Hana considers magical girls as enemies. It jogs her memory, about how Hana was almost indignant about preying on people, just as Puella 'preyed' upon Witches. It's true that that's how the mechanics of the system Kyubey build played out, but the dream Madoka always held about becoming a Magical Girl was helping and protecting people, not going on a rampage to massacre Witches. Especially not after she learned the truth.

    Perhaps more than anyone she holds a great sadness for them in her heart, seeing them as little worse than fallen comrades in need of help, lashing out in pain at the world around them that had seemingly betrayed them. She's also uniquely in the position to be able to do so.

    "...I should talk with her. I never have, but I should. She must have some reason behind her actions. At one time there had to have been enough hope inside of her to make a wish with Kyubey. I wonder what it was. Did anybody ever find out?" She looks over to Homura, who as far as she knows has the most experience with the White Flower out of anyone in the room.

    When Kunzite speaks up she blinks a little in confusion. "An artist?" she ponders aloud, though waits for him to finish before saying anything more. Then her eyes turn upward and she sighs a little, "I suppose a Witch does create a little reality for herself in her Labyrinth, though I'm not sure what they create brings them comfort and joy so much as it lets them wallow in their despair."

    Now thoroughly thoughtful she relaxes her arms back in her lap and taps one finger against the back of the opposite hand, "But... Hana Shiori doesn't have a Labyrinth, does she? She does something to the world around her instead. The only other two Witches I've ever known to do that were Walpurgisnacht and-- well," she fidgets a little for a moment rather than outright saying 'me'. Her head briefly shakes, "But the reason there was because they were powerful enough not to need a Labyrinth. And when Walpurgisnacht was badly injured we saw she had one after all."

    She looks at Homura and Kunzite again, speculatively, "What if Hana doesn't have one? Like not at all. She'd have no choice but to affect the world around her, instead. I could kind of understand that, except..."

    Back to sighing again Madoka looks down at her hands, "If she really wants to destroy the universe just to play god in her own little world, I don't think that's something we can let happen. It's not even something we should let her try, especially if she's hurting Puella Magi in the process."

    On to the next point of order Madoka nods a little to Kazuo, "Entropy, right? But he's never said anything about how long that will actually take, and when I looked it up that's going to take a very, very, unbelievably long time." She purses her lips and for a moment squirms about in her seat, looking very uncomfortable. "Maybe you don't know this, Kazuo-kun, but Kyubey doesn't care about Earth or anybody on it at all. Homura warned you about Walpurgisnacht, but she isn't the only terrifyingly powerful Witch. It's possible for Witches to become powerful enough to destroy all life on the planet, which is what Kyubey actually wants-- because that's what will get him the most of the energy that he's after." She isn't making eye contact with anyone for the next several moments.
Homura Akemi 2018-05-05 04:07:38 91111
    It's true. Homura was speaking to a wide, and somewhat unmaintainable, audience. Compared to that, Kazuo's audience is rather well behaved.

    Homura meets Madoka's eyes, but shakes her head no. Homura never found that out, nor does she know anyone who would know. "Madison Perry might've known. Good luck tracking her down though, and good luck getting anything from her even if you do."

    Homura considers Hana's lack of a labyrinth as well. It was a detail she had forgotten, but now that Madoka mentions it it's quite obvious. However, with what Madoka says next, Homura shakes her head. "Close, but I think you're missing the fact that it's Kyubey who was the messenger."

    Her eyes go between Kazuo and Madoka as she talks, including them both in this conversation. "That creature has always been careful with its words. It claims not to understand deception, but it has a pretty solid grasp regarding what topics it wants to avoid, and it knows exactly what topics will upset the... unreasonable cattle." She gestures to herself with that last line, making it clear who's being referred to as cattle here.

    Homura considers her next few words with a scowl. Kyubey would put it like that, wouldn't he? "I think that bit about the end of the universe a trick of language. A bit of clever wording on the incubator's part. While it's true that the existence of Puella Magi, as well as the Witches we turn into, sustains the universe, and while it's true that destroying the Incubator's 'system' would interfere with that, as Madoka-chan says I highly doubt that this universe would end within our lifetime."

    She swirls the teacup in her hand thoughtfully, looking across the table at Kazuo. "The universe is running out of energy. The Incubators call that entropy. Puella Magi create energy when they turn into Witches, and the Incubators harvest that energy to keep the universe going. I imagine what Kyubey is saying... is that without them controlling the Puella Magi system, entropy will eventually outpace their efforts."

    Homura takes a sip of her tea, then looks into her teacup. "Unless Hana has the power to spread her Labyrinth across the entire universe, I doubt that the cosmos are in any immediate danger."
Kazuo Takeba 2018-05-05 04:24:55 91112
"I'm working under the hypothesis that Kyubey stopped empowering new Puella Magi for that while because he was using Earth to see whether the loss of energy in the universe was still occurring," Kazuo says quietly to Madoka. "Given the results of that, I agree that Kyubey views this planet and its population as a disposable tool."

He weighs his cup in a hand, turning to Homura. "I should clarify. I am not concerned that the loss of the Incubator system would result in immediate destruction of the universe; my interest in that is because of a less immediate matter than Hana Shiroi. Something that's been reasonably stable at least as long as the Incubator system has existed can certainly remain a side issue for now.

"The problem arises because Hana Shiroi is, evidently, displaying the previously unsuspected ability to divert energy within the Incubator system. This is not merely a claim of Kyubey's; the Flower has herself made related assertions. If she manages to divert the entire sum of energy within the Incubator system to support her own reality-manipulation abilities, then we have a problem.

"After all. The Flower's interest is in personal survival. But your existence, and hers, are evidence that any system can under the right conditions produce unforeseen anomalies. If she is to make absolutely certain of her survival, then, she needs to eliminate any system that could conceivably produce an anomaly that might threaten her. This is reasonably likely to include one or both of 'life' and 'free will.'"

Kazuo's voice has never drifted away from the casual, matter-of-fact thing it usually is. He pauses for long enough to draw a breath and consider, then adds to Madoka in much the same lack of urgency, "My understanding is that the Flower has been seen passing in and out of reality, more than once. Whether that involves a labyrinth, and whether labyrinth is her own or whether she is using some other Witch's, or both, I don't know. There has been some interaction with her; Naru Osaka has conducted an irregular series of conversations about art, and I have spoken with the Flower myself. But that question hasn't been asked. Nor, so far as I know, has she been asked what her Wish was. Naru might have asked and simply not mentioned it. You might find it useful to talk with her."
Madoka Akemi 2018-05-05 04:47:37 91113
    Madoka has no desire to chase down Madison Perry and ask her questions. So far as she knew that one was little more than a psychopath that enjoyed hurting people. There could be more to the story, true, but relishing the act of hurting others is never going to be something Madoka will agree with.

    Madoka hums a little when Homura notes that Kyubey is the one who potentially gave information about Hana's attempt to control reality, "Then that's even more reason we should talk to her. I don't know if she'd be willing to, but I'd speak with her even if she poses such a danger, so long as it wasn't immanent." If Hana was on the cusp of destroying the universe as they knew it Madoka would shoot first and wonder about questions later, but luckily they seem to have the luxury of time, what with Kauzo's relaxed demeanor.

    That he isn't inherently troubled about the impending death of the universe is also reassuring. She tilts her head a little when he mentions having an idea for why Kyubey stopped making Puella, but for the moment doesn't press him on his reasoning. Earth still being disposable to Kyubey isn't a surprise to her at all, however. He probably figures it's little more than a matter of time before he gets what he wants, now that she'd contracted with him.

    Madoka had no plans on making it so easy for him, though.

    "It's a lot of energy she'd be taking if that's what's happening. Especially if what she's doing is affecting more than just Earth. Who knows how many planets there are that Incubators are active on? I doubt Kyubey would ever say, given our disposition towards him." Madoka looks a little confused for a moment and leans back against her chair, staring at the ceiling for a moment. "She has to know trying what she is will force us to try to stop her. If her great interest is simply surviving, this is a very strange way to achieve it. She must be very confident in herself if she thinks she can succeed when what she'd do would put everything all of us care about at stake."

    It's becoming abundantly clear to Madoka that a lot of what they're talking about hinges on a large number of assumptions. It's hard to know how immanent the threat might be when she isn't sure how much of Kazuo's word she can take as fact rather than simply 'the best and most current hypothesis'. "If Naru-chan has spoken with her, I think talking with her would be very helpful. It'd be nice to talk with her about other things, too."
Homura Akemi 2018-05-05 05:02:41 91114
    Homura frowns at what Kazuo says. She's not really sure she believes Kyubey's words completely, and she's not hearing a lot of reasons to change her mind. A Witch that could end the whole universe... Not even Kriemhild Gretchen could claim that. She closes her eyes for a moment as she considers, only opening her eyes when she's chosen what to say. "Well, I still think that Kyubey is twisting words, but I can't deny that Hana's very existence is a threat to us. In the end it doesn't matter if the scale we're talking about is the universe or Tokyo. We'd have to deal with it either way. It's the same way with all Witches."

    She turns her gaze towards the nearest window for a moment, lips curled into a frown as she stares thoughtfully at nothing. There's a lot here to take in, and it's hard to separate fiction from reality.

    "Kyouko told me to talk to Naru, too. I admit it's on the to-do list. I almost wish I could talk to Hana directly, but that may not be possible. It wouldn't surprise me if she didn't want to speak to me."

    She focuses her gaze on Kazuo again, not at all put off by his matter-of-factness. This is, after all, a fairly straightforward matter. "I suppose it all comes down to understanding what she's after, maybe even what she really is. I call her a Witch for lack of any better term, but she's hardly like any Witch I've ever seen."
Kazuo Takeba 2018-05-05 05:16:56 91115
The best and most current hypothesis. Kazuo is not a Puella. Kazuo has spent a year and a half trying to unriddle these things in the absence of the Puella who care most about the details. And all of his other sources lie.

"Agreed, that Kyubey is twisting words," Kazuo says to Homura. "It is after all its primary weapon. The Flower deals in misdirection, too. Madison Perry says whatever amuses her at the time. Miki-san treats what she wants to be true as if it were true. Momo Sakura does the best she can, but it's difficult for her to stay on a concrete topic, let alone an abstract one. Kyouko would be the first to tell you that this isn't her kind of problem. We've been wrestling with smoke for a year. Before you two arrived in Mamoru's living room, I was giving serious thought to asking Miss White if she'd noticed any changes in her pet Witch's behavior, because that seemed like the only available remaining option for getting another check on the situation. Despite the fact that the most certain course to disaster out of all of this is letting Miss White get the idea that it might be possible to tap the Incubators' certain for power. Mamoru is glad that you two are back solely because it means you two are back. My own reaction will be forever split between sharing his, and somewhat impressive levels of relief."

He falls silent for a moment, again, another brief punctuation between topics. And then he asks Madoka, all hypothesis now: "What do you think might happen if a Puella wished never to have to be anything but herself? And what do you think might happen if she fell?"
Madoka Akemi 2018-05-05 05:50:09 91116
    Madoka looks between Homura and Kazuo, considering Homura's words along with Kazuo's question. "That's a self defeating wish, though a Puella who made it likely wouldn't know it. Simply by making the contract you're not exactly who you were before," she comments while idly running her fingers over her Soul Gem ring. "That's a hard question to answer though, Kazuo-kun, because the way Kyubey grants wishes is odd. It has very much to do with the exact way the wish was made. You have to be very careful with what you wish for, and it is granted exactly as you wished it, and to a fault. If a Puella knows exactly what she wants and is very careful about what she's wishing for, she'll get exactly that. But if she wishes for something that she thinks will give her what she wants rather than her actual desire, well... that's the currency Kyubey trades in."

    She's quiet for a moment, leaning over to pick up a cookie and nibbling off a piece of it while she thinks. After finishing her bite she says, "I see what you're getting at, though. If she made such a wish she might have had to know about Puella and Witches beforehand to make it work? That isn't impossible though, nor is that she could have been very careful about her wording without knowing. If she did, though? I think she'd be exactly who she wanted to be- or exactly who she thought she was. She'd probably be very confident in herself, and think she was amazing to make a wish like that and have it come true."

    She looks into Kazuo's eyes then, meeting them while shaking her head, "But the thing is? If a Puella like that fell it could play out in several different ways, but it'd all be very predictable. She'd become a Witch that either loathed herself or loathed everyone for not recognizing or appreciating her for who or what she was. But she'd be no different from any other that we'd recognize, and I wouldn't think she'd be especially powerful."

    She breaks eye contact, tilting her head down again, "You have to understand what's at the core of what being a Witch really is. A Witch is the girl who fell, left only with despair and regret. There's no hope left in them, only endless suffering and turmoil. It's every painful memory that haunts you at night when you can't sleep, but with none of the good and only figments of your own tormented soul to keep you company. They don't have any choice except to lash out and drag people into their misery and suffering, it's the only thing they know how to do. It's usually by putting their own torment on others too- the Witch's Kiss."

    She finally lifts her head again, looking over to Homura while reaching over to squeeze her hand, partly for comfort, partly for support. "When you think about it, a Witch doesn't sound anything like Hana Shiori at all, does it? A Witch wouldn't want to ensure her own survival so desperately to do what she is; not unless it's because she felt she deserved eternal punishment and nothing should ever get in the way of that."
Homura Akemi 2018-05-05 06:39:42 91117
    Homura watches Kazuo as he explains his position, and the conditions he'd been working under for all this time. She crosses her arms and leans back, but also gives him a commiserative look. Puella Magi aren't the easiest group to work with, and Homura knows that as well as anyone.

    However, that last thing Kazuo says. What would happen, with that wish, under those circumstances? The gears turn in Homura's head, and as she listens to Madoka's reasoning she considers it carefully. She squeezes Madoka's hand tightly, holding it but not really looking at it. Until Madoka finishes, Homura almost seems as if she's in her own little world.

    "I agree. Hana Shiori is not a Witch, at least not a normal one, but she's not really a Puella Magi anymore, either. I'm not sure there's a proper name for what she is. Besides, you saw her Grief Seed with your own eyes, and touched it with your own hands. Even if it was a little strange, didn't it operate the same as any other Grief Seed? I'm not sure what to call her, if not a Witch, even if I know that term doesn't fit."

    Homura turns towards Madoka, tilting her head to the side. "It's a little strange that Hana Shiori would know anything about Witches and their origins before making a wish. If she did, and she wanted to avoid paying the price, she could've just directly wished to never become a Witch... but that doesn't really seem like the kind of person she is."

    "For Puella Magi, the alternative to becoming a Witch is to die first. If Hana knew the details and wanted to live, she'd never had made the contract to begin with, and if she were forced into it she could've made a more direct wish."

    Homura glances off to the side, looking out a window again. "Besides. It's not the wording of the wish that matters. It's the intention. Think about it. What does 'being yourself' mean, aside from the literal definition? To exercise your own agency, to not give in to external pressures, to feel free to express your opinions and desires without fear... You have to admit that Hana Shiori has never failed to 'be herself'."

    "Normally the ego takes the forefront, and the id is hidden and suppressed. However, when one becomes a Witch, the id and ego swap places. The id is the one in charge, and the ego is the one hidden away. Since Witches have no agency over their actions... can that really be seen as an expression of the self? Can that really be called 'being yourself', in the way people tend to use that term? I'd almost argue the opposite: you never do what you really want, you've given into external pressures and live terrified of being found out."

    Homura closes her eyes again, and shrugs. "Of course, this is all hypothetical. It could be completely off, and I can't help but think I've overlooked a few things, but to borrow from the freudian model I think it's fair to say that Shiroi's ego is still in charge. Even if we're close, the exact intent of her wish might be different."