A Chance Encounter

Lacrima comes across Nightbell recuperating in the Dusk Zone.

Date: 2018-06-28
Pose Count: 19
Akari Hayabusa 2018-06-28 16:44:25 92275
Deep in the Dusk Zone, some shambling ruins can be found. It's clear that something exploded in the past, or was blasted into the Dusk Zone, and there are bits and pieces which vaguely suggest something laboratory-like.

Infinity University wants to protect its new investment, so they requisitioned a few youma-bots. Now, early Saturday morning, eight of them are standing guard among the ruins in a wide circle facing outward, ready to defend Nightbell from the dangers of the Dusk Zone while she recuperates from her loss on Thursday night; one of them shows visible signs of damage. Bell sits in the middle of the circle, dressed in a red tank top, black and white track pants, and gray sneakers, with a pendant hanging around her neck in the shape of a black double-barred cross with a ruby inlaid in the center of the upper bar, and covered in cracks if you give it a close enough look. She munches on a Duskfruit and pores over a holographic screen which shows a diagram of a longsword, and which seems to be produced by a large round black bell with an emblem in the shape of her pendant etched into the side.

"Yeah ... that should do it," she mutters. "With this new spell, you'll have a ranged attack, Rubindorn!"

Ping! <<MIR SCHEINT ES GUT, HERRIN!>> says her pendant in its cutesy voice, sounding faintly distorted.
Lacrima 2018-06-28 16:53:31 92276
Lacrima was doing a routine field trip into the Dusk Zone to check on the 'Titans'. (They're not seen from this part of the Dusk Zone.) and explore an area where she found a recent example of Mister Squiggles specific youma-type. This happened to be near these odd old ruins. Structures like this aren't really all that uncommon in the Dusk Zone. Things from ancient pasts being sucked in, or from potential futures and other worlds and dimensions and other weirdness.

Lacrima remembers the Escher staircase. She had to jump off it to get off it.

But what catches her attentions, is the presence of the Youma-bots. Eclipse doesn't usually... garrison the Dusk Zone like that. She'd been the only one for a while to place any sort of 'tent' in an area.

She's lucky she's wearing her researchers badge--- the youma-bots should be able to detect it's signature and let her approach un-hindered, or with a cursory check.

"Hello?..." she calls out, poking around the ruins.

"...Is this an expeditionary team?" she calls out, trying to figure out if there's anyone actually here or if Eclipse is just protecting these ruins for some strange reason.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-06-28 17:09:43 92277
The black bell pings and a popup appears on the screen, and suddenly half of the robots cluster a bit closer into a semicircle, all of them facing Lacrima and looking somewhat threatening ... but then one of them scan her badge, and they all immediately relax and move to their previous positions, as the bell gives another ping and the popup text changes.

"... Huh." Nightbell switches off the screen, and gets up and wanders over to meet Lacrima, leaving the bell behind. "Nah, just me," she calls back as draws nearer. She puts her hands on her hips as she sizes up the girl. "Wasn't expecting to run into a friendly face out here," she says. "M'name's Nightbell, I'm one of Eclipse's new 'assets.' Lacrima, right?"
Lacrima 2018-06-28 17:35:54 92278
Lacrima probably isn't as tall as Nightbell. But still, she has a badge! and it has her name on it and picture and it matches so this isn't some sort of trick right? Right! "Yes." she says. "La Crima." she adds. "But many people just say it as one word, which is fine. I don't care." she says softly.

She looks around. "What is this place?" she asks. "Just another ruin or is it specific to you?" she asks, as she gently takes out a computer tablet of some sort.

She looks back. "You don't have protective wear." she observes. She isn't going to scan Nightbell or anything. That's rude without asking. Not to mention-- Lacrima isn't wearing any either. Besides that labcoat.

"Um. You haven't seen any. Big orbs with eyes and tentacles in this area, have you?" she asks casually.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-06-28 17:52:11 92280
Bell looks over Lacrima a little bit more, then just nods. "All righty, then." She glances around, and gestures to the ruins at large. "This is where Eclipse salvaged me," she says. She starts wandering back over to the bell, gesturing for Lacrima to follow. "I was ... 'constructed' by this conspiracy on Belka -- I mean, 'Ancient Belka' -- but ... near as we can figure out, before they could activate me or even test me, the powers-that-be showed up and wiped 'em out, something blew up, and this whole place got blasted into the Dusk Zone. Including the Storage Device containing me, Ritterglocke here." She nudges the bell with her foot.

"As for why I'm here now ..." She lets out a self-deprecating chuckle. "Two words: 'Purification attack.'" She gestures with the half-eaten Duskfruit. "My body is somewhere between thirty and fifty percent Dark Energy. I don't need protective wear, cuz the Dusk Zone has literally been healing most of my injuries and speeding up repairs of my Armed Device, Rubindorn." She gestures with her pendant, which pings and lets out a distorted, <<HALLO!>>

Bell peers at Lacrima when she gives the description of the monster. "Dunno," she says. "These bots have been protecting me from pretty much every other kind of Dusk Zone monster, I guess? I stopped trying to categorize them after a while, they seem kind of annoyed by me for some reason." (Which is to say, they don't recognize Bell as one of them.)
Lacrima 2018-06-28 18:07:33 92284
Lacrima mmmmphs. "So you're a construct. But not a dark energy construct." she says as she takes a note on that tablet computer. "I'm.. something similar. But not quite. I'm a full dark energy construct built around a human soul. I mean. My soul. Specifically. I'm effectively a youma with a soul that needs to drain energy to keep coherent, but the more obvious term is 'Vampire' so that's what I am." she says.

"Mmphh. As long as you're not a full dark energy construct, someone of these things will show interest in you, but it depends on how much you are filled with." she says.

She winces. "Purification hurts, yes. But you won't die from it if you're not full dark energy. But I would still get to a place like the Dusk Zone fast, yes."

SShe nods. "Hallo, Rubindorn. Wie geht es dir?" she asks. She speaks a very very old dialect of German that's probably closer to Belkan than modern day German is. It has a Spanish accent to it however.

That's how she remembers he talking it. "Ah. I haven't named that species yet." she says. "If only because a young one imprinted on me as 'mother' or 'caregiver'." she says. "And I feel I need to take my time with that one." she says with a lopsided smile, of sorts.

"...Though not a lot of things from Belka exist last I checked. It isn't my specialty. That would probably be Riventon-sama's thing." she says. "I just study Dusk Zone flora and fauna." she says.

"I discovered those Duskfruits with Riventon-sama, for example. And we named them." she says.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-06-28 18:24:31 92287
Bell nods. "The technical term for what I am is 'living magical program'," she says. "Basically I'm a living breathing AI made out of magic. I dunno if there's any others that are currently ... functional." She peers down at Lacrima. "... so ... are you ... formerly human? Or did I just get completely confused by where your soul came from?"

She nods. "Yeah, I got hit twice," she says, and then hesitates. "I ... both times, it felt like a weird kind of ... I dunno ... almost relief, kind of? But before I could actually figure out what I was feeling, the first one started stinging like hell, and the second one ... took me out of the fight completely."

Ping! <<ICH FUHLE MICH SCHRECKLICH, DANKE!>> says Rubindorn.

Bell chuckles. "I don't know if her AI is just being weird or if she was designed like that on purpose, but she's kind of a smartass," she says. "Ah, I've heard about Riventon! Sounds like someone I'd like to meet. And it's nice to meet someone who named the fruit I'm eating, too!" She gives a quick, graceful bow, then theatrically takes another bite out of the Duskfruit. After swallowing, she adds, "So how urgent is the search for your metaphorical 'child'?"
Lacrima 2018-06-28 18:40:00 92290
Lacrima nods. "Former Human. I bought a necklace in a secondhand shop, which was actually the container of the remaining power of a former vampire. It infected me. Killed me. Turned my body in this and now I'm this." she says quietly. "I still remember everything clearly though." she says. "I mean. About my life. In General." she asides a little morosely.

She head tilts at the device and purses her lips. "I can't comment on that, like I said, Riventon-sama would be better for that kind of question." she adds.

"As for my search, he's in a containment chamber in my lab room. I'm merely looking for others of his kind to study." she says.

"...I named it Mister Squiggles." she asides.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-06-28 18:50:38 92292
Bell nods slowly. "I ... have never been human," she says pensively, sounding like she hasn't actually thought much about this topic before. "Still ..." She glances down at the faintly-glowing markings on her arms, and then points at her bright red glowing cat-eyes. "I sure as hell know I'm not, y'know?" She grins. "Might as well just enjoy being a monster. Not like I have any choices that aren't make-believe. Hell, from what I've heard, I'm not even the weirdest thing that's ever showed up on Earth."

<<DANKE TROTZDEM!>> says Rubindorn in response to the comment about the question.

Bell shrugs, and grins. "I don't particularly care much either way, to be honest," she says. "I just like Rubindorn the way she is! Apart from the whole 'badly damaged' thing." She gives the pendant a gentle poke; Rubindorn doesn't respond.

"Mister Squiggles, huh," says Bell. She glances at one of the robots. "I don't know much about biology, especially in the Dusk Zone, so ... do they even have specieses? I mean, I guess you'd know about that better than I do." She make a face. "Like I said, I stopped paying attention to the individual monsters. Sitting in the middle of ruins gets boring after the first twenty-four hours, when there's nothing you can do about it and you aren't in any serious danger."
Lacrima 2018-06-28 19:19:00 92298
Lacrima nods. "I have to piece myself mentally and physically together again, and depending on the damage, can take quite a bit of time." she says. "So I get being bored in a dark energy vacuum." she says. "Also there's always a quirk after for a small bit. For me I mean. Everyone is different and handles it differently."

Lacrima nods. "Being comfortable with that will help you. Early on I wasn't. And it lead to the darkness manifesting itself in my head and I'd argue with myself. In my head. In my dreams." she says.

"They do. There are different types of creatures that share body structure and mannerisms." she says.

"Sometimes there's only one or two of a creature though. Not everything is samey. Sometimes things are Unique."

"...or it ate all it's others and that's why it's big and bad." she says curtly.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-06-29 19:08:46 92312
Nightbell nods. "All I know is, I didn't wake up until after they started giving me an ... emergency dark energy transfusion, so to speak." She shrugs, and looks at Lacrima with faint concern. "Do you have a handle on things now, at least? You don't seem ... constantly angry or crazy or anything like that."

She nods along as she takes in the information about monster-species. "... Being organic sounds like it's really interesting," she says dryly. "I mean ... my body works just fine for the most part, but I have a few ... approximations, I guess you could say." She chuckles suddenly. "... heh, I can't help but notice that this is the first time I've had, like, an actual 'casual conversation', instead of being all business or battle-banter or whatever."
Lacrima 2018-06-29 19:27:07 92313
Lacrima raises brow. "Ah. Yes. Um. Contact. Contact is key. That is. Being around others and talking at the minimum, making 'friends' at the most." she says. "It helps ground you. It is very important, to realize that- the Dark Energy controls you, you don't control it. But you can guide it where it needs to go. You can't stop a river from flowing, but you can guide it, or install dams to control the flow. Things like that, do just that." she says.

"Though. Riventon-sama made a device for me that slowed down the flow for me and keeps me generally doing things like cackling and and all that." she says.

She smiles, just a little lopsided. "Talking with your associates in this organization will help. There's a casual meeting room, at the top of Sunset Tower where we can drop the 'not magic' act and chat and talk." she says.

"Do you uh. Have some sort of. Disguise?" she asks.

"I'm Norie Okana. That's who I was. Before this. That's my disguise. But. She's... 'run away from home'..." she says. "So. I had Riventon-sama make another setup for me in the device used to control my dark energy flow. Maria Hanazawa." she says. "Who goes to Seishou." she says.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-06-29 19:39:08 92314
Bell nods along at the suggestion of contact, as if she was getting a suggestion for a battle strategy or other some such. "Makes sense that it's the one in control, sort of," she says, and then hesitates. "Now that you mention it, that makes me think that ... I wasn't originally 'built' to be full of dark energy, it's just a result of being right here for nine hundred eighty-two years." She shakes her head. "But, uh, yeah."

She hesitates at the topic of visiting the Sunset Tower and of disguises. "I mean, I know you just told me your disguise's name, but, you can keep things an absolute secret, right?" The subject seems a little bit touchy to her. "It's just, I'm 'programmed' so I feel like I'm not supposed to just tell people who aren't part of my chain of command, so even saying that much feels weird even if I know I'm not technically in the same situation and that you're an ally ..."
Lacrima 2018-06-29 19:57:26 92315
Lacrima purses her lips. "I wasn't originally supposed to be a vampire but I am now." she shrugs. "The idea is just to learn to deal with it at your own pace." she says. "I mean there's goods and bads with being infused or made up of dark energy. The bads are usually a loss of control in certain situations. Or the dark energy influencing your feelings and choices." she says quietly. "The goods tend to be that it can make you powerful if you channel it right. And if you're primarily full of it, you can just step into this place at your own will and out somewhere else." she says quietly.

"and for me... well I'm practically immortal. As long as an attack isn't purification based, I'll usually be able to reform from it, given enough time and how severe it was." she mutters.

She shakes her head. "I told you, but 'who I am' is pretty much an open secret at this point." she says. "Even to the 'opposition'." she says quietly.

"I'm sure you have reasons why you wanna keep it secret who you are. So do so." she nods a little matter of factly.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-06-29 20:06:03 92316
Bell listens carefully as Lacrima explains the dark energy. "Good to know, then!" she says. "Yeah, the thing that made me realize that I wasn't 'supposed to' be dark is that I don't have any preprogrammed knowledge about it the way I have about things like ... fighting, life on Belka, maintenance on Rubindorn, that kind of thing. So it's good to have someone who can show me the ropes, like, I didn't know about the teleportation thing either." She hesitates, then adds, "I'm pretty sure I'm immortal, too. At the very least, we don't think I'm going to age. But that's part of being a living magical program, not the dark energy."

She actually looks relieved when Lacrima says she doesn't have to tell her secret identity. "Okay, got it," she says. "My 'true identity' is Nightbell, but, yeah."
Lacrima 2018-06-29 20:31:56 92317
Lacrima nods a little. "Identity becomes hard when you're not really sure. I am Lacrima but I am also Norie, but I am also Maria a little." she says softly as she shrugs. She gently straightens out her labcoat. "I work for UMBRA division, btw. We're the experimental wing. 'Skunkworks' I think.. Riventon-sama used one time?" she says. "Basically if we think we have something new and exciting to test , we do so. Stuff the other project groups can't or won't touch." she says.

"My research is part of that. It turns out, no one's really taken an interest in cataloging these creatures for a long time." she says.

"Mind you that most others in this organization might need a special suit or something to explore without dying." she mutters and shrugs.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-06-29 20:53:25 92318
Bell peers at her. "I might be biased towards my own situation," she says, "but if you're 'sort of Maria', wouldn't that just mean that you made her ... partly a reasonable facsimile of yourself? The best kind of lie is one that's got a basis in truth, after all."

She carefully says, "I'm sort of attached to Infinity University at the moment." She gives a faint shrug. "Yeah, I know a little bit about UMBRA, we actually got these Type-Six battledrones from 'em." She gestures towards one of the robots. "I might have to look into dropping by UMBRA to see if they can't figure out anything new about me. Or about the teleporting thing," she adds. "I, uh ..." She stares off into space for a moment. "... yeah, I'm ... not sure about how to do that at all, actually."
Lacrima 2018-06-29 21:19:08 92319
Lacrima nods. "Well. Come around when you're able. It's mostly just Riventon-sama and me nowadays." she says quietly. "Stuff. Happened and.. it's mostly. Other things that work around the offices." she says nervously.

"That teleportation I'm talking about. We usually call it a 'Dusk Step'." she says.

"It isn't hard to pull off, I mean for me it was kind. Of innate? I just sort of knew I could do it when I became this thing." she says. "Along with how to feed and basics like that." she says.

"I'm sure you can be taught it if you can get to the Dusk Zone by yourself though, maybe." she says quietly as she ponders deeply.

"I should. Be getting back to the lab. I only intended to do a quick search and I met you instead!" she says sheepishly. "-which ... is interesting and it's nice to meet someone new, but it doesn't add to my research really." she adds. "and results matter." she says gravely.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-06-29 21:24:59 92320
Nightbell doesn't comment on the presence of Other Things, since she considers herself and Lacrima to be part of that category. "Well, sounds like it'll be a useful skill to know," she says, and then grins. "Be really convenient to get here, too ... I mean, not that I've actually found anything new, but." She lifts up the Rubindorn-pendant and looks down at it. "Might as well be sentimental about something," she says finally.

"Results do matter," she agrees. "And, I mean, the whole point of the fight the other night was testing out my combat capabilities, so even though I lost, we got good combat data and I learned a thing or two." She smiles easily. "I'm gonna have to stay here for ... probably until tonight or so, but it was nice meeting you, Lacrima! It's always great knowing you're not alone."