Quitting While You're Ahead

Lacrima tracks down Akari at ... her home. They have a serious discussion about Akari's desire to leave Eclipse. (And names.)

Date: 2018-10-16
Pose Count: 10
Akari Hayabusa 2018-10-17 00:04:57 99059
Dr. Murano sent Lacrima a worried message: on Sunday, Nightbell went off to fight her old enemy Tessen, but after that was over, she apparently went and messed with the security system Dr. Murano had set up in "Akari's" apartment. Now Dr. Murano is ninety percent sure that Nightbell hasn't slept in that apartment since Saturday night, and ninety-nine percent sure that she's there that very minute.

It's a multi-story apartment complex in Mitakihara; Dr. Murano would have given Lacrima the keys to let herself into the building and from there into the apartment on the third floor. Frau Doktor then stayed behind, because she'd learned her lesson from the incident that put her into the hospital.
Lacrima 2018-10-17 00:19:53 99060
Lacrima enters the apartment silently. She isn't trying to be sneaky stealthy, but she's trying to not make her presence obvious. She adjusts her right glove a moment as she 'ughs' into her head internally. She doesn't really want to have this discussion. Or this fight. Or whatever is about to happen.

She takes a deep breath and rather than smash the door open or kick it open or just Dusk Step through the wall, she-- knocks. Knock knock knock.

"Bell?" she asks. "Bell we need to talk. Right now. Please." she says. Her tone is terse, but not terribly angry. At least not yet.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-10-17 00:28:15 99061
There's a click as Rubindorn remotely unlocks the door. "Come in!" calls the familiar voice of Nightbell, although her voice sounds less gruff and at a slightly higher register.

It's a perfectly ordinary apartment, with the kitchen and dining area right inside. Akari is sitting at the kitchen table in what Lacrima would know as her "infiltration form", wearing a loose but stretchy-looking sweatshirt and sweatpants; Rubindorn sits in front of her on the table in sword-form, with a hatch open to expose the complicated mechanism for its cartridges. Her large round bell Storage Device, Ritterglocke, is sitting on the table next to it.

Akari scoots the chair back and turns around to face Lacrima. "Hey, Lacrima-san," she says. "Yeah, we probably really do need to talk. I, um, would prefer if you called me Akari Hayabusa from now on, though. Um, even when I'm in ... that other form." She sounds ... very apprehensive.
Lacrima 2018-10-17 00:42:38 99062
Lacrima is dressed in her light lavender suit. She's here for business obviously. She crosses her arms and sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose as she takes a deep breath. "Alright then, Akari-san." she says softly. She's willing to do that much. She's had her own battles with 'naming' in the past and that's not an issue she's going to push too hard unless she has to.

And right now she doesn't seem to find it important to. "So tell me. What happened the other night. With the robots the doctor made." she says softly. "And---"

She says softly. "I want the truthful version. Not the one record version. Please." she says as she keeps the bridge of her nose pinched as she takes a deep breath despite not needing to breathe.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-10-17 00:52:09 99063
Akari looks relieved the minute Lacrima acquiesces to the name. And then she considers this a moment, looking very thoughtful. And various flavors of worried.

Finally, she sits up a little straighter. "They spent the entire fight reaching out to me," she says. "Then, after Sailor Jupiter body-slammed me when I tried to charge her directly, I lost control of my emotions, and turned into a crazy-angry monster again." No need to mention that Sakura got her powers back and now has a very bloody-minded guardian angel ... "And my sister literally hugged it out of me. Then I ... gave up, I suppose." She shrugs.

And then she looks Lacrima directly in the eye. "So, I've been meaning to ask you something, ever since the Zerobot horse," she says, a little too casually. "Have you ever had to fight Stahlritter? As in, you were on a mission, and Riventon-san told you it was of vital importance, and the only way to complete it was through him."

... '-san'. Not '-sama'.
Lacrima 2018-10-17 01:18:03 99064
Lacrima mmmphhsss. "Sailor Jupiter is seeming to have this effect lately." she says grimly. She sighs and runs a hand up across her face and through her hair. "I know that spiel. But I don't belong with people like that." she says softly. "I'm a horrid monstrosity of dark energy with a human soul stuck inside. There's no helping what I am." she says. "I belong with Riventon-sama and UMBRA. Others like me." she says.

She ominously doesn't talk about where Akari belongs. Not just yet. She looks at Akari as she answers that question. "I've not, no- needed to fight Stahlritter-niisan. I'm not sure if it'll ever happen. I know Riventon-sama chucked him through a wall but..." she shakes her head. "I wasn't a part of that fight. I'm not sure what'll happen if I have to. If we need to fight. Id we need to. Stalh-nissan isn't Sakura-c--" a deep breath. "Sakura. He can take what I can throw at him and vice versa. He's been something like what I am almost. It's a long dumb story and I hate talking about it." she says almost sulking before standing up straight again.

"Look..." she says quietly. "I don't see a point in sugar coating this. It's obvious you want out suddenly." she says flatly. "Please don't try to deny it. It's dumb. Your caretaker already suspects things and knows about the sabotage you've done the monitoring devices here." she says.

She raises a hand. "If I was here to fight. I'd had acted already. For the record." she says lowering it.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-10-17 01:40:45 99065
Akari nods, looking somewhat relieved. "I know, I know," she says. "I don't blame you for this, I understand perfectly well that you need Riventon-san. And he needs you, especially at a time like this, when his powers are out." She makes a face. "... No offense to Frau Doktor, but ... I don't need to see you and Paige in action to know that you'd be way more effective than a Zerobot."

She wisely doesn't comment on the slip-up about Sakura's honorifics. "Well ... yeah," she says. "Sakura-imoutochan can't take it. She throws herself into danger, and nearly gets killed because of it, and ..." She shakes her head. "More to the point, I used to think of her as horribly naive, but ..." She shrugs. "She's one of the most important people in the world to me now. I'd much rather be someone she can approve of. And I do have the option of ... not being a creature of darkness." She seems so different from the way she acts in her other form. "... whereas Stahlritter kind of nearly beat the crap out of me a few weeks ago, because he still sees me as the one who almost pulverized Rashmi Terios."

She closes up Rubindorn, which pings. "The 'suddenly' is because this past Sunday, after I beat Tessen, I met up with Hagane-chan, who ... well, it turned out her civilian identity is my girlfriend ..." (She doesn't know that Frau Doktor spelled this out to Riventon and Lacrima in an earlier email.) "... and, well, I revealed to her that I'm 'Nightbell', and, uh ... long story short, her Device scanned me and found out that I'm only five percent dark energy in this form, not forty percent." She looks away, over at Ritterglocke. "And I realized that 'Akari' has always been the real me. 'Nightbell' is ... a corruption, basically." She still sounds uncomfortable saying 'Nightbell.'

Her gaze shifts down to Rubindorn. "... I was sort of waiting to do something needlessly dramatic to announce that I was quitting," she murmurs. "But ... I dunno if that's really an 'Akari' thing to do." There's a surge of darkness, which causes her to flinch visibly, as Rubindorn transforms into its pendant form.
Lacrima 2018-10-17 02:09:28 99066
Lacrima crosses her arms. "'Disguise' forms tend to mask dark energy reading by default. It's why no one magical or otherwise picks us up out of a crowd. I could turn into Norie. Or Maria. Right now, and I'd give off either very minute or no dark energy trace like that, so you may want to make doubly sure." she frowns.

She obviously soften a bit. "You shouldn't... be ashamed of a name." she says softly. "It's what you... make of it. When I became this thing, I am now. The power renamed me 'La Crima'. Tears. Teardrop. To cry." she says softly. "Because I did not want it, and it knew it would make me sad." she says. "-and for a while. It was hard to get that name out of head. Because suddenly..."

"I was La Crima. And Noire was a disguise for Lacrima. A sort of weird magical matter version of what I used to be." she says quietly. "It got so bad I got up and yelled in class one day 'I'M NOT A DISGUISE!' and threw my desk down and It was one of the first incidents where I acted out because of all this... dark energy coursing through me." she says.

"When Riventon-sama designed my first power filtration device..." she raises her right arm showing off the odd bracer going up her wrist like some sort of weird medical device. She lowers it. "I was able to think more clearly. I realized it's possible for me to be Lacrima. AND Norie at the same time. In an odd way." she says.

"That's when the voices stopped for me, primarily. When I was able to find peace with- 'who I was'." she says. "I mean. I still dislike, a lot, what I am. But I can look at myself in the mirror without punching it... or throwing random things in school... or shoving random people that try to talk to me or say either name." she says.

"I'm sure you'll find your peace Akari-san. You need to. You HAVE to." she says.

She sighs and sits down and crosses her arms. "Look... I'll just. Get straight to the point." she says. "You want out of UMBRA? Fine. Fine you're out. I'm not going to try to keep you in. What the hell good is someone that doesn't WANT to be there? At that point you become a liability. Teamwork only works if you're a team." she mutters with a sigh.

"What I can't do. Is get you out of Eclipse. I mean I COULD try to wrest control of your project from your doctor but she has seniority and that would be months-- maybe years of bureaucratic battles. If an opportunity came up to snatch the project, I could take it and maybe THEN I'd be able to do something but I can't make it any easier than dismissing you from UMBRA without hassle." she says quietly. "The Doctor has no authorization to make you be a part of UMBRA-- I simply won't okay it. That may not stop you from using you in her schemes though and she's still in UMBRA so---" she huffs.

"There is a single stipulation. I have-- on that." she says. "On releasing you from UMBRA without--- it being a dumb stupid-- right dramatic gesture." she says.

"-and that's you need to keep Riventon-sama's current condition a secret. Zip your lips. That's all I ask." she says with a soft hard breath.

"-and that will be that. I won't purse, chase, demand or anything." she says. "I think this is fair." she says softly.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-10-17 02:37:38 99067
Akari nods. "I'll double-check it at some point," she says. "When Tarnished scanned me, her Device got this entire map of where it was in my, uh, in my other form. I'll have to see if Hagane-chan can do something like that, but ..." She shrugs. "I know that my Linker Core's output is suppressed in this form, including the dark energy it produces. It instantly made sense to me that when it 'constructed' my infiltration-form, it also suppressed how much it 'infected' me, so ... yeah."

At the promise and stipulations, she grimaces. "... Well, that's both better and worse than I expected," she says. "But sure. I'm ... kind of bad with promises, since I was just programmed to obey whatever orders were in front of me at any given moment, but I think that one will be easy enough to keep." She hesitates, then adds, "And I won't do it as an 'exact words' kind of promise, either, I won't try to wrangle out of it or do something that's 'technically not breaking it' or whatever. I'll ..." She frowns. "... I'll have to be careful about telling Sakura-imouto to keep it a secret, since she knows too, but she'll probably accept it if I make a big deal about how it's to keep me safe. And him safe, for that matter."

She smiles weakly. "As for Frau Doktor ... I guess we can at least ask her," she says. "I mean, she has fun making Zerobots and energy-draining machines, and she was examining Ritterglocke here in the first place because her main job at Infinity was studying Belkan artifacts." She shrugs. "But really, handling a Lost Logia Belkan Knight is kind of outside of her skill set. Yuki-san's never known what to do with me besides run interference for her Zerobots and stuff. And possibly throw me at problems to stab them, but she never had a need to do that specifically."
Lacrima 2018-10-17 03:08:28 99068
Lacrima crosses her arms. "There are countless other things I could ask. This is a simple thing to ask, Akari-san." she says. She sighs and rubs a finger up the bridge of her nose. "Belkans." she exclaims as if this explains literarily every thought she has on the topic.

She sighs. "Yes." she says. "We'll ask. But another day. Tomorrow maybe." she says as she rubs a hand up her face-- again. "I apologize if I am entirely less angry than you expected in this meeting, no doubt, but I burned off any anger I had earlier in the evening in a powerful shrine ward being angry at Sailor Mars for doing what she did to Riven-sama." she says softly.

"Now I am tired and I probably should go feed before I actually go retire for the evening." she mutters as she begins to stand. She pauses.

"If 'Frau Doktor'..." a pause. "Gives you any trouble in the meantime let me know? We'll... we'll try to figure something out." she says quietly. "There's no point in trying to retain someone who doesn't want to stay. It's counter productive and makes you a liability more than an asset." she says.