Trust Issues

Date: 2018-08-21
Pose Count: 34
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 02:36:15 95182
Gullwing Coffee was an ideal place for neutral ground in these circumstances - unaffiliated, public, and far enough away from common territories that they had a fair chance at holding this meeting without running into the unexpected. The atmosphere of the place, calming and lovely, would help too, or at least that was what Jadeite hoped. The setting was the last part of this plan that he was nervous about. No, his sense of anxious worry was focused entirely on the disguise portion of this evening, not so much because it was Mamoru?s appearance that he would wear, but because it was Mamoru's attitude that he would need to mimic, and mimic well enough to not alert Agera to the truth of matters.

He took a sip of the iced coffee that he'd ordered earlier, and did his best to block fear and anxiety away behind a wall of ice. Yes, it was Mamoru that he had to mimic, and yes, for the first few moments he had had to practice to keep from flinching at the sound of Mamoru's voice leaving his throat, but he'd gotten used to it now. This was no different than any other mission he'd completed, and that thoguht was ultimately what soothed him. They wouldn't have gone through with this if it weren't a solid plan - and if he couldn?t impersonate one of his brothers, he didn't have business calling himself an illusionist. Another sip of the drink, the cool rush of caffeine further soothing his nerves, and he nodded, faint. Everything was going to be fine.' were found.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-21 02:39:09 95183
One would think that a First Date would be a nerve-wracking thing; all excitement and the terror of not living up to expectations, not even knowing what those expectations are, and in general standing before the yawning abyss of First Relationships.

It's good, then, that Rashmi is treating this as practice, because nothing about it is remotely like a date except in the superficial sense.

When Mamoru called to make sure this meeting came with backup, she was more than happy to oblige. They'd set up at a corner table with her back to the room, leave an inconspicious cell-phone charm sitting on the table -- with an old flip-phone next to it, of course -- one quick Telepathy spell, and Rashmi and her 'date' can eavesdrop without it even looking like eaves are being dropped. The one maybe-familiar face can keep herself turned to the pretty boy across from her and perfectly obscured. All is in readiness.

Now if she can banish any concerns about what Jupiter would do to her if this entire outing is taken at all the wrong way...
Nephrite 2018-08-21 02:48:12 95188
Don't worry, if she could see me right now, she would be laughing too hard to be mad. Nephrite thinks loudly at response to Rashmi's nervousness. Oddly enough, for all the plots Nephrite has participated in that required some form of disguise, this is his first time using Usagi's Luna Pen. He finds it very disconcerting, even more so than Jadeite's illusions, because the transformation is so very thorough. That is definitely not his own hand holding a glass of iced latte. And this is so not an outfit that he would choose to put on his, or any other body he has possession of. For one thing, khakis. For another thing, polo shirt. He runs his hand through disconcertingly short hair. "I told this thing movie extra, not frat boy." Ugh, he even sounds like a frat boy. His name is probably Brett or Chett or something. "I mean, I know I live in a so-called frat house, but it's not actually a frat house."

But it's fine, of course, because any plan that involves tricking Takashi Agera is a plan that Neil is on board with. He smiles at Rashmi and tries not to think about what that looks like on this blandly attractive face. "So, come here often?"
Takashi Agera 2018-08-21 02:56:47 95190
Takashi Agera was okay with Gullwing Coffee, due to Gull's connection to Hannah and thus to Eclipse. It was like a six degrees thing. But still... even if Mamoru came alone, like he appeared to, unless he snuck out - someone would be watching, and that someone might have designs on Takashi's thusfar unpunched face.

So when he arrived, getting some sort of sugary chcolate-coffee drink that looks rather not like an evil villain's drink, he's on guard, looking around, both for Mamoru and for possible ganks. And drinking that caffinted chocolate slurry.

When he does find Mamoru... he waves. And nothing more, for the moment. The two studs in his ear, Axion in standby mode, seem... somewhat active.
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 03:04:43 95193
The faint hint of a smile on Jadeite's borrowed face doesn't dim when Takashi Agera enters Gullwing Coffee; in fact, it doesn't change at all, reflecting that same welcoming, but slightly nervous energy that he saw on Mamoru's face everytime he was approached in public by someone he didn't already intimately trust. It's almost easier than he thought it would be - true, Agera has a punchable face, but that isn't his job, and in this moment he isn't an angry, protective, brother. He's a professional, and professionals get results.

He waves back, just slightly, and pushes his drink away, just enough that it isn't in immediate sipping distance. There's plenty of room on the otherside of the table, and just one chair - Jadeite had moved the others away before even Rashmi had arrived, ensuring that they would have privacy for this. "Thanks for meeting me."

And if the words seem even the slightest bit less friendly, more neutral than might be typical - the difference wasn't so great that it couldn't be explained by the dying that had happened earlier in the week.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-21 03:18:03 95196
Rashmi can't help but chuckle at her date's idea of an opening line. "Kind of?" she says, toying with the Danish on her plate. "I mean I know the owner okay, she's pretty nice. What about you?"

<< Well he doesn't look like he's here for trouble, >> she says over the mental link. << ....Right? >>
Nephrite 2018-08-21 03:24:21 95199
Nephrite studiously avoids looking in Agera's direction. Obviously because he is trying not to draw attention to them, and not because if he looks at him, he will be filled with unmitigated rage that will likely spill over to the other two. << His existence is trouble, >> he mentally grumbles.

The not-Neph continues to smile pleasantly. "Oh, sometimes. I usually drink coffee at home where nobody minds it if you spike it. You know, when I'm not playing Madden with my bros or doing keg stands or whatever. Are the danishes good?"
Takashi Agera 2018-08-21 03:27:42 95200
Takashi looks at Mamoru. He doesn't sit down. Not immediately. Instead his mouth opens - but sound doesn't come out, and he looks like that annoys him. So he pulls out the chair and sits in it. Aggressively, but not at Mamoru.

You see, apologies are hard for even normal people. Apologies are harder, by far, for those with half their body and mind native to the Dusk Zone. And apologies for major transgressions can be harder still.

"Chib... " Stops. Fiddles with hands. "Mamoru-san. Sorry. For the soul. Wasn't my plan. She was out of my control by then. But...StillMyfault."
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 03:45:07 95204
He can't see what's happening at Neph and Rashmi's table, and he's glad for it. Oh, he can see the man sitting with Rashmi, can see that he may as well have walked off some sort of Ken Doll magazine, but he can't see their faces, or hear their voices, and that's the only way in the world he's managing to keep his face set. And it's important that his face is set, that it stays in the realm of Mamoru's expressions, eyes only slightly widened and body relaxed despite the aggression that Agera moves with, because those words - those words are not ones that he expected, not so easily, not so quickly. He was expecting to have to drag something like that out of him. He's stunned, but only for a few seconds.

<< He apologized. That was the first thing he did, and this is verbatim: Mamoru-san. Sorry. For the soul. Wasn't my plan. She was out of my control by then. But...stillmyfault. >>

His memory is excellent after a lifetime of delivering high stakes reports, but those words - he would have ben able to repeat them even if he had the memory of a goldfish. "Takashi-san," he starts slowly, glad that Mamoru tended towards taking his time before speaking, that he considered his words. "Thank you. I know that wasn't easy to say." And he'll acknowledge that, and not only because Mamoru would do the same. He's lived - and still does live - with people who find it difficulty to apologize, find it difficult to admit vulnerability, failure. It isn't as easy a thing to do as it sounds.

"I just - want to know why. Why did you create...her... in the first place?" And the hesitation is his own, but fitting, in this case. << I'm asking him why he created her in the first place. >>
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-21 03:48:08 95205
<< Oh good one, >> Rashmi answers, a flush coming to her cheeks. "O-oh, yeah they do pretty good pastries here. Their cookies are to die for, though, you should try one sometime!"

It's fairly easy to simulate being flustered by your date when you're actually kind of flustered by your date and digging pretty deep for anything to talk about...
Nephrite 2018-08-21 03:56:19 95208
Brett/Chett//Chaz audibly snorts at Jadeite's news. << Sure he did. >> He is not questioning Jadeite's memory or his sincerity. But the idea of a remotely authentic apology coming from the mouth of Takashi Agera is too alien for him to grasp.

"Sorry," he says to his supposed date, casting around at random for more to say. "I actually hate cookies. They're full of gluten or whatever. So what do you like to do for fun? I bench-pressed a goat once."
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-21 04:14:36 95211
<< Bench-pressed a goat, that's your line?! >> Rashmi can't help it; some things you simply cannot hold your mental mouth closed over. Poor Not-Mamoru.
Takashi Agera 2018-08-21 04:15:42 95212
Takashi sighs. "Just try not to freak out like Usagi-san did when I did this..." he says before he holds his hand out. A tiny, pearl sized orb of Dark Energy is there, but it's not an attack. Instead it forms a little sort of shadow puppetry display - a hand-sized diorama.

"So I know, now, a lot about the world before ours. The one you guys spirits come from... the Silver Millenium. The Golden Kingdom. The world my experiment 'rememebered'. Especially after I had my own Jupiter. Your energy is different - Earth proved it. Your linker core, your soul - all of you, in fact, have unique ones. Not like a normal person, mahou or not."

"But... you aren't the only things that old. The Jewel Seeds are maybe that old, too. And... well, I think they were designed to copy Usagi-san's crystal. And I needed to run tests on a subject... because the Jewel Seeds, I thought, would resonate uniquely with such old energy..."

"And, I admit, probably in a way that will not help my case, that I hoped she would keep you busy.. so you wouldn't be able to stop me from saving the world." At 'saving the world' the shadow diorama shifts to a card being hit by the Clow Key.
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 04:36:44 95216
Nephrite is the devil. No. Nephrite is a demon, because the devil himself (or at least an edgy copy of it) is sitting across from him. Jadeite-as-Mamoru doesn't freak out. His eyes widen with concern that isn't entirely false. The sight of dark energy flowing where blood ought to - it brings to the forefront memories that he can't manage right now, not with Agera pontificating before him and Neph's...Nephness happening in his mind's ear. His expression isn't touched by hilarity, at least - the horrified frustration he feels is enough to overpower any humor, and though he banishes the feeling, buries it in ice and snow, he isn't fast enough to stop the sensation of sick, horrified frustration from touching the link. There is so much to process here.

"So this time around, I died so you could gain knowledge that you might have gotten by asking, and sharing your intentions? You did that to Mako-chan, because you wanted to see our souls?" The words are carefully selected to minimize his emotional response, to temper it into something workable. The most important part of diplomacy was keeping the emotion out of it, was prioritizing the goal over personal satisfaction. He knows what Nephrite would say if he heard those words - my own Jupiter - so he's careful to keep even the hint of it from touching the link. << He did this for knowledge, and to distract us. To learn more about the Silver Millenium and the Golden Kingdom, and to test his theory that the Jewel Seeds would reonate uniquely with our souls.>> Even his mental voice is chill, cold with enforced distance.

"You're right. It doesn't help your case." But Mamoru wouldn't leave it there, and neither will he. Unfortunately, Mamoru wouldn't say what Jadeite wants to, which is - why did you pick him? Why didn't you pick one of us?

He wouldn't have wished that fate on any of his brothers, but he would have taken it on himself and he knows they would have chosen the same, if it could have spared Mamoru even a single moment of what Earth had inflicted on him. "Why did you need to distract us to save the world? Did you really think I wouldn't want to help you with that?" And the I is specific, the I is because Mamoru would always reach out his hand to help, even to those he disliked, even when those he cared for didn't understand it.
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 04:40:02 95217
<< He claims that he hoped she would keep us busy so we could not stop him from saving the world. And the image I see in him is of a card, hit by sme sort of key. >> And this too is delivered with icy acceptance, the frustration hidden away for a time in the near future that would hopefully be full of alcohol.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-21 04:43:41 95219
<< ....Okay I don't want to punch him anymore, >> Rashmi says along the link, frustration clear in her mental voice. << I want to draft a five-hundred-page Mahou Science Ethics Charter, complete with bullet points, bold text, and thirty spaces where he has to initial proving he's read and understood it, roll it up, and smack him across the mouth with it. >> Almost never does Rashmi threaten physical violence, but now she's put out. << ...Nico, make a note. Draft Ethics Charter, and Google templates I can use to structure it. >>

<< There's a story behind that card, Mamo-kun knows more than I do. But basically the distraction part is so nobody gets in his way of a running fight he has with a twelve-year-old girl. >>
Takashi Agera 2018-08-21 05:02:40 95226
Takashi wrinkles his nose, and sarcastically repeats - verbatim - what he said to Ami in the hospital. "Hi Chiba, I'm Takashi Agera AKA Riventon. Remember that time I saved you and the world by putting myself between a giant lance and getting run through dying instead of you? Fun times. Anyways I'd like to modify you on a level deeper than genetic with this weird magic item that came from a time I don't have a connection to and using a process that might not be reversible and could fail because of your possible contamination and the fact that I'm used to working with blank slates not existing humans.

"Not only do I see you accepting my offer, I totally think Usagi-san and your boy band would be super cool with it." Yeah. He was still an ass while apologizing.

But... he was getting upset, and not... angry. A sour, sad sort of upset. "Look, it's obvious things went poorly. You think that doesn't eat me up inside, deep down? Are you going to make me say it? Is that what you want? Is here good enough or must I climb to the top of Clover Tower and shout to the whole world that I fucked upp? That I let one of my own experiments get out of control, that I risked several of the things I was trying to save?" He was almost... like he was upset enough to cry. Not doing it, but close, before a deep breath stuffs it back down.

"And yeah, I'm trying to save the world while all of this is going on. And keep your relationship with Usagi-san safe. And my feelings for Ami-chan. And..." he stops and takes a big drink of the sugar java chip half-melted concoction, "You wouldn't take my side in this fight. I know you wouldn't, because it's spooky Dark Energy Scientist vs Happy Bright Tiny Girl. So yeah, I needed you to stay off the field. So I could prevent the whole world from getting botched."
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 05:33:31 95232
Jadeite would love to feel absolutely no sympathy for Takashi Agera. He would love to be able to separate himself completely, to tell him exactly what he thinks about his experiments, his plots, his failures, as he goes on, as he makes an ass of himself even while apologizizng, as he centers himself at the core of this, as if it wasn't Mamoru who'd had his soul stolen from his body, as if he'd been forced back to a place he hated, as if he had been in D-Point having his very soul twisted up and contorted so that the loyalty and affection and trust were given to someone he hated. He wants to loathe him. He wants to hate him as freely as Nephrite does.

But he can't. Because Mamoru doesn't, because Mamoru, safely away from the man who had orchaestrated his death, and caused all of this, that Mamoru, is confused, is hurting, is overwhelmed and it flows across the bond that links Jadeite tohis prince as surely as he's linked to his own flesh. It isn't a physical hurt, which is only barely better - it's an emotional one, soul deep, and considering that he was supposed to be with Usagi, was supposed to be safely monitoring the situation... He doesn't know what's caused this pain, but it's too raw, too deep, for him to completely condemn Agera right now. He wants to. The last thing he wants is to feel sympathy for this man. But this is his job, to put aside the still ragged wounds in his soul so he can try to prevent this disaster from happening again.

Putting aside what he feels is for the best anyway, because Mamoru wouldn't be condemning Agera for this, and Agera is only saying these thinggs because he thinks he's speaking to Mamoru. He needs to keep thinking he's speaking to Mamoru.

Mentally, he compiles all that Agera has rambled on about so that the link - and Nicomachea - can catch it, sipping his melting drink to by time for the recitation. << In sarcasm 'Remember that time I saved you and the world dying for you? I'd like to modify you with a magic item that I don't have a connection to in a way that might be irreversible and could fail for multiple reasons. I see you, Usagi, and your guardians giving this the okay. >>

"You - have a point," and the words come out easy, never mind that they feel as if they've been torn from his gums. "That wouldn't have gone over well. I wouldn't have let you do that to me, and even if I did, Usako and my Shitennou would have never allowed it. But that's why I'm here now - to try and understand, because you've never - you don't kill and I know that wasn't your plan. I know it wasn't what you wanted to happen. But I don't know what you wanted to happen, besides apparently distracted us all from your other plans. I think it hurt you, Takashi-san, to see all the damage Earth caused, to see what she did to me and everyone else - but I don't know if that will stop you."

And maybe that isn't entirely what Mamoru would say, but it's what Jadeite needs to say, and what they need to know. << He's saying that he fucked up and he knows it and he's angry about having to admit it, but I don't believe he's angry at us. I think he's angry at himself. >> He doesn't mention the way he sems close to tears, because he can't be sure he isn't projecting.

He swallows, hard. "Takashi-san, maybe I wouldn't have taken your side in this, but did you ever think that maybe we'd want to know, at least enough to know that Earth wasn't a real person? We - I - tried to reach her, for so long, through so much of what she did. Even if you needed to distract us, it's hard to understand why you didn't step in sooner, when you saw how far she was willing to go. I know you didn't want me to die, but - you aren't making it easy to convince anyone else of that."
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-21 05:41:28 95234
Perhaps Rashmi being at one remove from the Shitennou and the Senshi allows Rashmi to feel a bit more sympathy. Perhaps it's the fact that she hasn't even seen his face a dozen times since she fell into the Mahou game. Perhaps it's just that putting yourself in a mindset you don't have is a skill she picked up from Debate Club. Whatever the reason, she's not... quite so upset at Takashi that she can't understand his side. << I don't know how much is the Dark Energy and how much is just pure homegrown jerk, but, pretty sure the one thing that would've kept all this from happening is the one thing that just flat didn't occur to him. 'Hey, I'm worried about the world, I know you are too, can I help?' Nico, note: Inscribe 'Learn When To Cooperate' on outside of charter. >>
Takashi Agera 2018-08-21 05:47:50 95235
And here, Takashi looks sternly at the Jadeite-Playing-Mamoru across the table. Right into his eyes. "You... are entirely unaware that the question you just asked is either insulting to my intelligence, or your own, aren't you?" He leans back. "It... you... It's so simple, the answer." When self-loathing asserts itself, pride rises to shove it back down.

"If you knew she was a clone, that she wasn't real, you would've come right for me. It would've had the opposite effect. If at any time you realized she was a clone, well, it's gotta be me. It only worked at all because you believed she could've been real, and not a Nullheart." It's a stark, honest answer; she was designed to decieve in this way.

"But I guess there were other questions there, so I'll give you the truth. I lost track of her. I lost control of her. I was busy with opening a fucking hospital wing to care for people infected by Dark Energy and to investigate possible medical uses for it to save lives." He was... sour hearted, angry again. "And that gods-cursed overglorified youma ruined everything. And I ended up in my own hospital wing while they tried to figure out what was wrong with my soul - because it wasn't just yours she attacked. And maybe I deserved that and you didn't."

"And no, I don't kill. I don't need to. I'd never even considered doing what she did. The only soul I've ever sacrificed is my own. Despite, I assume, having the ability. Unless she got it from you."
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 06:10:10 95240
And the truth is, Jadeite-playing-Mamoru doesn't even get annoyed, because he barely hears him over the sudden roaring rush of HOPE that flows through his bond with Mamoru and Nephrite and Usagi, the feeling of hope and joy and love like liquid warmth and rainbows and sunshine injected directly into his veins, threefold as it pings through him, through Nephrite and back to him, through Usagi and back to him, a tidal wave that flattens every other feeling that dares to try and coexist in his mind at the same time. Frustration? Knocked flat. Resentment? Pushed aside. Anxiety for the future? Out of this world! It's optimism of the eyes-wide-open sort, pure and gentle as a summer breeze kissing the leaves of a tree, spreading the pollen of a flower. There's no room for pain in that moment of optmism and if he'd been on a rollercoaster of feeling before then this is freefall and he forgot his parachute on the plane. It's only rote habit that his him repeating Agera's words into the link, barely processing them, his repeitition peppered with commentary and reaction.

<< You are entirely unaware that the question you just asked is either insulting to my intelligence or your own are't you? Mamoru I'm going to float out of my seat It you it's so simple, the answer. I'm serious you two >> except he has his answer, he knows what's happening over there, because this is an emotional link yes, but empathy is more than just emotion, it was thought and memory too, all of it flashing together, so when those words crystalize in Mamoru's mind he knows exactly what just happened and the words come out of his mouth entirely on accident, "Yes -" only for him to realize what he's said, where he is, who he is, and it's a good thing that Mamoru is a blusher too, because his blush shows through the illusion, he's so embarrassed to have been swept up in the rollercoaster like that.

"Yes," he repeats, forcing his voice-which-is-Mamoru's level again. "We would have figured out it was you. We would have defeated her and then come to demand answers, but did you ever think about the fact that this is our world too? Did you never think that I, of all people, would dismiss you while you said the world was in danger?" And it's hard to lean into that Mamoru-esque mix of righteous indignation, disappointment, and hope when he's still half floating out of his seat withe the crest of that wave of pure love and joy, when he's sitting atop the knowledge that he has now, when he feels so much hope, so much love.

"Takashi-san, you can't save the world on your own. It's too much to carry by yourself, and we know now. This doesn't need to happen again. Let us help you."
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-21 06:12:24 95241
<< .....Guys I think something's scrambled, Nico says he's having a hard time connecting to your cell phones. ....Kitten videos need to be formatted in a proper codec, what? >>
Takashi Agera 2018-08-21 06:21:47 95244
And Takashi... feels sick. That's the feeling he gets, wether from the sugar or some outward reaction to the feelings Jadeite is getting being strong enough to sill over here, too? It passes after a moment, but Jademoru is blushing. "...I'll have to ask Corvus what the hell he did to the drinks today. You look a little... off yourself. Fever?"

He shakes his head, like he can physically clear it all away. And then continues. "It's not like that... it's not an entity you can pummel into submission. It's a challenge, a test. You have to be selected. Two of us were. I was trying to keep it from happening at all but apparently Clow Reed, that asshole, thought of that too."

"Look. There are penalties if one of us doesn't pass the test, a penalty only the grumpiest asshat archmage from past time would think of. And they don't just apply to me or her - they apply to the whole world." He looks at what's left of his drink. Pauses.

"Everyone... on the whole planet... will lose their feelings for the person they treasure most. I don't think you'll have to look far to determine the sort of catastrophe that would cause; would you and Usagi be able to stand against Beryl without that? Or even been able to hold off my stupid, crazy experiment? Those are the stakes, before I even get into my feelings for Ami-chan... That's what I mean by saving the world."

"And... before you think Clow is bluffing, he's not. He is likely the most powerful mage in history, and even the worst parts of you, Homura, me, and Precia don't compare to his capricious disregard."
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 06:46:19 95250
Mamoru and Usagi are a flood of joy and happiness and Jadeite is happy for them, is joyous for them ecstatic for them, cannot bring himself to be even slighly annoyed at the way all this hope and love and joy is throwing off his ability to do his job and interrogate Takashi Agera the way he needs to. He can't imagine ever being upset about anything again, and through his blush - which he forces to fade away with a slow, mostly natural look from the illusion, even if his own cheeks are still flushed underneath it - he says, "Maybe he added too much caffeine?" This kind of joy may as well be a drug. He's still noting everything Takashi says, though words run together as he loses control of his mental 'voice' with every new wave of joy to rush from Mamoru. << What he's saving the world from isn't an enemy that we can fight. It's some kind of tesst - I hatetestsmamoru youknow I hate tests - two people were selected. Agera and the twelve-year old Rashmi mentiond? He tried to stop it from ever happening but Clow Reed is an asshole and forced it to happen. He's drinking coffe for dramatic effect before he tells metheconsequences I can't believe you proposed in the middle of ->> "What?"

Those words get through to him, and he stops them from crossing the bond until he's gotten himself under control, accepting the barrage of joy and then sealing it away so that he can think consciously. "The penalty for failing Clow Reed's test is a punishment for the world." He isn't questioning this. Takashi Agera is a lot of things, but right now, he's the one person in the world who can tell him what he needs to know about this threat to Mamoru's happiness. That makes him one of the most important non-Shitennou-and-Senshi in the world right now.

"What are the rules of Clow Reed's test? You've told me the consequences of failure - so that means you have to know the guidelines for how you can win."

<< If neither of them passes the test then everyone on the planet will lose their feelings for the thing they treasure most.>> There isn't a way to lessen the blow. He hasn't even allowed himself to process what those consequences would mean for him, the aftermath of Mamoru and Usagi's perfect joyful moment underscoring Agera's threat.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-21 06:50:28 95252
<< .....Okay wait so one person is supposed to stand in for the entire world? That.... doesn't make any sense, and I'd be seriously annoyed at whatever jerk thought that would be a good idea. If we're all going to pay, why shouldn't we all help? >>
Takashi Agera 2018-08-21 06:54:49 95253
Takashi is oblivious to all the happiness, and just leans back. "I was hoping I could stall it like... forever. But apparently not. My... assistants... they tell me that we'll have to fight and the winner has to prove themselves worthy."

"I don't know how the girl got into all this. One of the cards came up to me of its own volition and got the whole path started. She's the Mirror, and she has a bit of personal agency... and she... doesn't think Sakura has the strength of will to win. So here I am. Trying to figure it out. I had to forge a Staff and peice together research from everywhere."

"And there, now I've laid out my secrets. My plans. And the thing I tresure most; knowledge. That's the pennance I can offer today. That and the alcohol..."
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 07:27:34 95258
'I don't know how the girl got into all this.' It's a sign of how shocked he is that all he can think of at this moment is 'what a relatable feeling', as if he were still a villain, as if the last years had been wiped away. Maybe it's because the threat facing them is so overwhelming that he can't help but revert, in the smallest way, to the man that he had been in the Dark Kingdom, utterly flabbergasted as one girl - and then a group of girls and then one boy - foiled their every plan. Perhaps it's because it's easier to fixate on that single sentence than it is to continue thinking about what Agera is saying. He can think about that rather than contemplate the utter incomprehension, the disbelief that has infected Usagi's joy. But he can't do that forever - he won't do that forever.

"Do you have to pass this test alone?" That's the crucial and critical thing he has to say about this revelation, and it's in the same vein as Rashmi's complaint - are they truly forced to the sidelines while the two people chosen by the man who had designed this horrifying punishment face his test for the sake of them all? Or can they help? Can they run interference, can they offer assistace, can they do something to save all that they hold dear?

He doesn't allow his trepidation to hit the link, to infect it. What he passes along instead, to Mamoru, to Usagi, to Nephrite, to all the people bound to his soul and life - is steadfast determination. It is the unrelenting nature of a glacier against stone, of ice that seeps deep and cracks concrete, it is the enduring drive of one who will do everything in his power to spare his loved ones pain. "I meant what I said. You aren't alone in this, no matter what you think. We can help and we will - even if you can't think of a way for us to do it yet." << We're not giving the booze back anymore. >>

Nicomachea carries Mamoru's words to him, the same sentiment, and even in this grim moment he cracks a faint smile. "Winning doesn't have to be a zero-sum game, Takashi-san."'
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-21 07:33:42 95259
<< Booze? >> Rashmi is not, after all, privy to everything that goes on, and she has been rather distracted with other issues. << Anyway; he's probably going to say no, because I'm pretty sure that's how his mind works. Free dinner says he's wrong, so basically it just became Super Important that Sacchan gets all the support we can give her. >>
Takashi Agera 2018-08-21 07:35:12 95261
Takashi sighs. But it's more exasperation. "I -did- mention he's a gigantic ass, ne~? I mean. It would be nice if I could hand the cards out to each of you an we could all just dogpile the challenge, but it's not some witch or monster."

"There's a Judge and it all comes down to him; but he doesn't even judge between the two of us. Not to my understanding... There's another entity, the Selector, that chooses just one of us to be Judged. I'm reasonably sure that's through combat. But after that it's all just one of us..."

"I wanted to bring a bunch of backup, you know... it's one of the projects I've sunk time into, but Mirror and the Judge both say that won't help..."

He shrugs helplessly. "So I've just been trying to make sure I have the best cards. But people keep helping Sakura so... we're pretty close to even. She even got Time so I couldn't go back with it and punch Clow in his stupid face."
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 07:41:16 95264
<< You have him pegged, Rashmi. He says that there's a judge and a selector who will decide who is judged, and that only one of them can be judged. I don't know if those are the rules though, or what his cards believe the rules are. >> It isn't that he thinks that Agera is lying - no, even if he doesn't trust the man, he fully believes that Agera is telling the truth, or at least what he believes to be the truth.

"I'm not going to argue Clow Reed being anything but a jerk," and the words are somewhat clumsy in his mouth, "But there's more than one way to help with a challenge. Are you sure that it has to be you or Sakura, or is it that in the past only one contendoer made it to the judge?"
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 07:46:16 95266
The next words come reluctantly, << He says it will come down to a trial by combat, which is why he wants the most powerful cards. >>
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-21 07:46:44 95267
<< Don't ask him this, but here's a fun question that'll keep me up nights; what if Taka-san's been wrong the whole time about what the selection criteria is? He's assuming it'll come down to a trial by combat, but that doesn't completely track with what the punishment for failure is, y'know? Anyway it sounds like whatever the criteria is, it has more to do with Sacchan than Taka-san. But... well, Taka-san. >>
Takashi Agera 2018-08-21 07:52:06 95270
Takashi shakes his head. "There's no precedent, it's never been done before; its an all or nothing deal to pick his successor. That's why the whole thing is so frustrating; I was thrust into it too, I didn't choose this one. It's not my specialty or anything, even if I did seem to pick up on it quickly."

"But... I'll ask the two experts I've got. And do some digging; I've been looking for anything related to him in my limited spare time between... all the other things. But I will see if I can get any help at all once it starts without breaking any m..." he catches himself. "Without breaking any rules." He says firmly. "Maybe you can come wherever this is happening and cheer, and if she gets selected, fuck it, cheer her too. Ami is... How she makes me feel is... more precious to me than anything." And here it's Takashi's turn to blush for a picosecond "And if you tell anyone I said that... I'll... remake Earth or something..." he doesn't seem serious about that but is suddenly SUPER SERIOUS about finishing his drink until he's loudly sucking air through the straw. And then he's standing up abruptly.

"S...I.. apologize again, for my... lack of control." It's quick and there is no bow, and then he's gone, tossing the drink cup into the trash on his way out.
Saburo Yukimura 2018-08-21 07:54:49 95271
It all happens so quickly - Jadeite can only blink in surprise, staring at the back of Agera's back as he goes. << I was going to warn him not to try that again - not to mess with us the way he did with Earth again - but I think he gets the picture. And besides... I'm sure that we're going to have a chance to talk to him again. >>

He doesn't say it, but he's thinkng - maybe they'll even let Mamoru actually be the one to talk to Agera, when that time comes.