2018-11-19: Cucco Hug Delivery

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  • Log: Cucco Hug Delivery
  • Cast: Riesenlied (playing Janey, Mikaia, Cetiri), Noeline, Lydia Seren
  • Where: The Fereshte
  • Date: 19th November 2018
  • Summary: Noeline, Janey and Mikaia reach the Fereshte following the kidnapping... and a mysterious cucco comes to cheer them...!


<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

It's been a harrowing few hours since the kidnapping, and the Outreach has essentially been on the highest alert since. Escorting the refugees to New Arctica was no problem with the Ialdabaoth and Alhazred himself well out of the way, but the trip back to the Fereshte has been...

Well...

Mikaia's been on overdrive, more or less -- it's perhaps something that the two share in common as she dotes over Noeline's injuries, washing and bandaging and essentially gloaming over her as best she can.

And Janey's been on a hair trigger ever since on their way back, uncharacteristically quiet.

The Fereshte, perched upon the underside of a cove, looms nearby... and a certain dog-shaped robot mother apparently has heard the news from the advance scouts providing the news back to the ship.

She's equally pensive, as pensive as a dog-shaped robot mother possibly can.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Some of Noeline's most self-deprecating moments tend to stem from the fact that, however hard she tries to ignore it, there is always a pragmatic little voice at the back of her mind that stubbornly clings to a detached kind of common sense. As of late, she's had to learn to ignore it - to tamp down her fears as she faced down Guardians and Quarter Knights and whatever else crossed their path.

But it's that side of her that takes over in the immediate aftermath of the attack. It tells her they don't have time to stay. It tells her they need to move now, or else the loss of Riesenlied will be for nothing. It tells her that there's nothing that can be done, not right now. For once, she's happy to let that side of her take over, staggering exhausted to the caravan as she yells orders she doesn't clearly remember giving, picks Lydia up from the floor with a strength she didn't think she could muster.

... it also tells her that Alhazred won't kill Riesenlied, not when there's alternatives he could pursue, and she barely manages to repress the heaving shudder before Mikaia can notice.

Only once they're moving does she risk letting anything show, and what she does show is absolutely nothing - she can't find the words to say to Mikaia or to Janey or to Lydia, not yet, and all she can think to do is lower her head and sag her shoulders, curling a little around the two pieces of the Dragon's Tear held so tight in her hands it's as if they could fuse back together.

The Fereshte, safe and sound, is at least the tiniest relief. She grimaces as she steps down from the carriage, but not from any pain - it's because of the sight of Cetiri, and the stab of guilt in her gut. "... I... I am sorry..." she mutters thickly.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia didn't return to the Caravan or to the Fereshte--at least not willingly, Noeline could pick her up but it was probably really unpleasant and she probably wanted to gauze up her hands or something later. She did go off to help Catenna with a project that she felt obligated towards and only now, freshly regenerated, has returned--though she still hasn't brought back that armored shell she had around her earlier. Looks like it DOES come off if she gets exploded enough. It'll probably be back in a day or two.

Then again it might be tough to tell that it's her under the giant cucco costume she is wearing as she waddles towards the Fereshte. It looks, well...

It looks a bit like this: https://image.dhgate.com/0x0/f2/albu/g4/M00/65/BF/rBVaEFfHtDuAaXWoAADc-9F3ZDs839.jpg

Lydia tried her best ok and this was originally made in advance for an unplanned party for Riese in the future but she had it available so here it comes.

The mysterious cucco waddles--squishes? It's kind of a waddle-squish with cute sound effects with every step as it gets close. It's probably not actually Lydia, come to think of it, she would never wear something like this.

The giant cucco mascot spreads its plush wings wide as it waddles towards the trio stepping off the carriage.

It falls over halfway.

It gets up and falls over again.

Then it finally catches up to the trio.

A stammering mascot voice speaks out from behind the costume.

"C-c-cucco hug delivery! Special delivery, 100 percent off for the best family on Filgaia. How do you c-c-cucco do?"

Behind the mascot head, Lydia blushes severely but extreme situations call for extreme measures.

She aims to guide both plush wings around Noeline, Mikaia, and Janey.

"It's okay to c-cucco cry if you want to," The mysterious cucco says. "I'll be here for cucc-you!"

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Cetiri is the very image of a statue for a moment, perhaps as something internal processes in her for a moment. Eventually, she goes with what she believes might be a workable approach:

"I am glad /you/ are safe," she intones in that voice of hers that's the mixture of a lounge singer and a cement mixer.

A pause. "I am overwhelmed with a strange feeling of pain and grief. My hydraulics are attempting to... leak from my blinkers."

Mikaia swallows, but as she actually hears Noeline say something she just... limpets onto one of her legs from the side, and Janey's staying close too...

... at least, before her face falls when she sees the giant cucco costume. "I'm-- seein' things..."

A pause, as she hesitates for a moment... before it speaks up-- and she can't help but...

Well, first, she cries. Tears just start streaming down her cheek. "Aagh... cucco, you're workin' so hard even when you got your skin melted off, gosh...!!" She kinda has that tone that knows she knows it's Lydia but is playing along with it.

She runs up by the side and tackles the cucco with a hug. Mikaia pauses for a moment longer too, before sniffling and nodding. She stays by Noeline's side, though.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Noeline hadn't shed tears, not yet - it was something she felt she couldn't let herself do in front of the children so soon, couldn't bring herself to give the refugees clustered in the caravans even more reason to lose hope. Swallowing the lump in her throat wasn't easy and wasn't subtle, her teeth clenched against it throughout the ride back as she replayed that moment in her mind, but she has managed thus far.

And yet... there's something in Cetiri's uncertain, clinical appraisal that makes it rise back to the fore. "You-- surely you should know by now what that is, as her mother-- as any mother--" she rasps out, her voice still hoarse. The step she takes has none of her usual poise, and whatever else she was going to say is lost as she staggers forwards and feels herself drop to her knees.

Eyes suddenly blurred, she hiccups wetly twice as she clutches the children fiercely to her, before bumping forwards as she awkwardly tries to encompass Cetiri in some kind of odd group hug. Her pride makes her hide her face, burying herself against the shoulders of the two girls, but the way she shudders bodily and lets out a low, keening noise is unmistakable.

Her face is tear-streaked as she lifts her head, abject confusion written across it at the sight of the giant cucco - and more specifically, the moment that it falls over. There's a wild, unfocused jolt in her as she briefly mistakes it for one of Riesenlied's more unsteady moments - unfortunately, reality comes rushing back to her in the next instant, but it's still enough to drag a soft and bemused chuckle from her. "Wh... what on earth are you..." she mutters, her voice still wavering as she tries to rub at her face - but before that, it seems more important to nudge Mikaia forwards after Janey, and raise her arms herself.

It's been a long time since she's ever looked bashful in front of anyone else, but she knows when she needs a hug.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Mysterious Cucco Brought to you by Lydie Inc (LydINC?) only supplies the best quality hugs but it doesn't provide the best quality balance. Luckily Lydia IS able to stay standing when she's tackled by a Janey and if the rest of the group comes in for hug, they'll get one too. At least Janey will, having actually asked for it! Such power!

Lydia of course feels just awful herself, but she shares a secret with Janey. And Noeline and Mikaia. And Cetiri. Okay maybe it's not a secret. "Lydia is sorry for running off. Lydia just needed some time to herself. Umm... Lydia wanted to say...that even if it seems really bad right now, an important friend of hers once told her to Never Give Up. And she didn't. And she found the most wonderful family. U-umm..."

MEANWHILE

In an office building, a man rushes over to an important business meeting with a slew of hand drawn charts from his hand.

"Sir! We're losing investors as we speak...! I--I think we need to throw in the towel!"

Skeleton (now wearing a business suit) looks back at the man, sweating faintly.

"...No...I see it in your eye sockets, sir... We must /not/ give up...! I'll see if they'll give us one more chance...! Thank you sir!" When he slams the door shut, Skeleton's head rolls off.

HERE

"We'll get her back. And we'll kick Alhasbeen's butt. Um. Lydia also said that."

She realizes she hasn't been cuccoing.

"Cucco."

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

"... I know. Yet," Cetiri murmurs with a slightly more off-key intonation that echoes out of what passes for her speakers, underneath her throat. "I still find myself... overwhelmed. That I could be privy to such feelings..."

A pause. "It is proof of the love that has been inspired... that has been shared between us. That we can feel so strongly."

A pause, as she flicks her tail forward and kind of strokes it against Noeline's hair as she tugs her in with an odd hug. "I want to care for you as well, Noeline. For everyone here. That... that is... a mother's prerogative."

Janey burbles out, "We love you, Ceti-mom, Noe-mom, Lydia-mom--" Wait lydia's a mom now? "Aaagh...! Waah..."

Mikaia wipes her tear as she proves herself to oddly be a bit more resilient in this moment, or perhaps a little bit more reserved; she squeezes Janey's hand and says, "Remember... what we all said? It's okay to be scared..."

Janey pulls her head up as she burbles and gazes towards the cucco. Then to Noeline. "We're gonna get mom back... we're gonna... no matter what... right, mom?! We'll be with you to... to, do whatever it takes!"

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Noeline wipes at her tears - not that it does any good - and sinks into the odd, multi-directional hug with another hiccup that sounds too young and too tiny to be her. The pile of affection is haphazard and a little ridiculous and she sobs with laughter and released tension at the thought of it, but she can't summon up the ability to be the aloof Noeline right at this moment.

"Lydia is a terrible actor," she huffs in mock unhappiness, managing to spare an arm for a moment to crush the poor cucco against her; she shudders again, but her hand curls into a fist, bunched amongst fake feathers.

"... thank you," she whispers, and swallows, feels her voice turn stronger. "... and, thank Lydia. You should tell her that she should be proud for how she did her best."

She sucks in a breath, and it's with an effort that she manages to centre herself, to feel the world stop spinning around her just a little. It lets her chuckle raggedly as she leans against Cetiri's side, feels the odd touch of the dog-shaped scientist's tail. "... I-- I'm not all that used to being cared for, I think..." she has to admit, looking quietly lost and a little amused at her own admission. But there's acceptance there too; she's not protesting, just admitting it. "But I'll do my best."

Meeting Janey's gaze and Mikaia's quiet resolution, Noeline feels a familiar instinct of protection; she sets her expression into a determined frown, and meets the girl's worries with a solemn nod. "We will get her back. I promise you. No matter what, no matter how," she swears, and though her voice is steadier now there's a fierce undercurrent.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia isn't going to, like, force Mikaia to act out or anything.

The Mysterious Cucco continues to smile with goofy eyes but behind the mask, Lydia is crying freely, pulling an arm in so she can wipe them away. Resulting in a floppy wing.

It's okay to be scared, Mikaia says and it's true that right now, Lydia is more scared than she's been in a very long time.

But in a way, she is so scared that she has managed to make it back to being determined. In a lot of ways what happened happened. It can't be stopped now. It can only be fought against, and made right. It's a kind of reassuring certainty. They can't afford to lose, so the option can't even be considered. A dangerous position--but Lydia has always been reckless.

She doesn't corret Janey on calling her a mom. She can be a mom right now right up until The Return of the Mom happens, like a stewardess of the momly line.

"Thank you," She tells Noeline. "For being here."

She pets Janey and whispers reassurances.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Mikaia does have a tired and deeply fond, sad smile as she helps offer a handkerchief towards Noeline, brushing away some of the dirt on their faces. She goes right back to the hug, though, since she can't exactly go for long without right now. It's like a recharging symbol has appeared over her.

"You really did... we're-- all really proud of you, Lydia," Mikaia burbles.

Cetiri lets out an electronic 'harrumph' as she teases, "I /hope/ you just mean care from me, because if you have not been experiencing care from Riesenlied, then I shall have sharp words with her when we rescue her," with a kind of odd pride in the ex-spy who she's also gone to consider daughter. A pause. "Yes... thank you, for being here," she chimes.

Janey rubs at her eyes further, sucking in a deeper breath. "We won't lose... cause losing's not acceptable right now!" she burbles. She nods at the Mysterious Cucco. The petting seems to really reassure her.

"At-- at tough times like these, keepin' optimistic the way Lydia is... that's what makes us us, and not-- you know, those really old people who're like, bwaah I've loved and lost like three hundred years ago and now I'm a BAD GUY!"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"I know right?" Lydia says as Lydia. "Like get over it, dude."

"Cucco." She adds.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

This time Noeline's laugh is stronger, if rather self-deprecating. "That is what I am here for," she says back to cucco-Lydia, "Even if I remain just the worst possible second-in-command that Riesenlied could ever have picked. Despite the words, it sounds more like her - more like the flamboyant Crimson Noble, rather than the lost spy who still can't figure out the course of her life.

She puffs up in return to Cetiri. "I just meant I've been lax in my daughter duties," she grumbles, but when Cetiri mentions sharp words there's a slight pause, and an uncertain look flashes across her features. "... I didn't know what I could possibly say to ease her doubt. What I could tell her, to reassure her that whatever identities she felt she had to choose between, in our eyes she is simply herself. In the moment... I was too forceful," she mutters softly to herself.

She shakes it away, sucking in a breath as she looks to Janey. Whether she knows it or not, their daughter has raised an excellent point, and Noeline tucks it away quietly in the back of her mind. Perhaps, if she can reach Siegfried...

... but it isn't the time to dwell on that further. She gathers Janey back to her, then takes care to do the same for Mikaia, doting over the winged girl a little in her worry. "... the same goes for you, Mikaia. It's alright to cry," Noeline offers as she strokes her hair, and then-- opens her free hand, to show the Dragon's Tear still resting in her palm.

"... would you like to look after this, for the time being?" she offers. Parting with it is something Noeline is almost loathe to do right now, even to her daughters - but she has a quiet inkling it might be what helps most right now.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

More hugs are inbound. Her hug game is strong today.

"Riesenlied...before she was taken," Lydia says. "She was worried she was being a burden." If she knew it was influenced by Ethius's words she probably would've bopped him! Regardless, the cucco head dips towards Noeline.

"Don't sell yourself short," She admonishes. "Even as a joke." She pauses for a moment before admitting, embarrassed. "I mean...sometimes I worry...it's how you actually feel about youruself. You're a great person too, Noeline! And a good mom!"

She pets Janey some more, but you can probably imagine that her cheeks are puffed out a little.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Janey and Mikaia give Noeline a bit of a look, even inbetween Janey's more emotional bawling and Mikaia's reservedness. They look at each other and at Lydia like they're gonna go 'you wanna go' or--

  • whap*

Cetiri bops Noeline over the head very, very gently. "It's fine to not know what to say. It's fine to make mistakes," she lectures. "It's not fine to beat yourself up over it, even if that self-same habit is probably why Riesenlied is in part so drawn to you."

A pause. "I have watched you grow your identity, from a newborn who had no place in the cruel halls of the Photosphere, to someone consuming literature and human identity at a rapid pace, to someone bravely accepting responsibility in the face of danger and scorn."

She furrows her brow. "It didn't take you a night. It took you years. And it will take Riesenlied years too, perhaps." She lets out a kind of electronic noise. "And I'd want noone else but you, and Lydia, and the rest of us there to let her grow alongside."

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

After a moment, Noeline closes her eyes towards Lydia's rebuke, chuckling quietly. "... I-- you're right. I'm sorry. It really isn't the time for something like that, is it?" she grumbles, then settles back with a lopsided smile. "... I suppose that I should--"

And then Cetiri bonks her as well, and she yelps with surprise before throwing a pouting look upwards. "Excuse me! It isn't as if I used to be this way! I used to be very, very good at ignoring those sorts of worries, in fact!" she grouses as she folds her arms, somehow managing to do so while keeping the children in a close hug.

That motion seems to mollify her a little; she lets out a softer breath, and looks between the clustered family as she chews at her lip. "I will do my best to look forward, and not back. I cannot say I'll manage it immediately - right now, to be honest, I don't quite know what to feel," she admits the weakness with a lopsided smile, "... but I will not take it out on myself. I promise."

She listens solemnly to Cetiri's lectures, lowering her head. Fears over Riesenlied's state still dance at the back of her mind, but her hand slowly closes around the Dragon's Tear once more. "... of course. And we will get her back, so that she can."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia has never asked about what the Photosphere was like. Honestly, she didn't even ask where it WAS which is a pretty useful thing to know, probably, but that's because Lydia doesn't know them from that life. She knows this life, that's the life she wants to protect more than anything. But she does relent, at least, when Noeline apologizes. "It's fine. Feeling bad is okay too, sometimes, but you're not alone. None of us are."

She pauses. "Should I...keep this on?"

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Janey does address the topic of the Tear, though. "... we'll be okay. You'll be the one reaching out to her. That's... that's a symbol of her, you know? It's like, the tool in which she expresses herself through, right down to chipping herself away so much that she can't realise what a perfect jewel she is to you 'n me."

Mikaia would give Janey sass on how strangely eloquent she can make things sometimes, but now's not the time.

"It's okay to trip 'n fall," Janey says. "I did that a heck of a lot 'n Mickey's still with me. Sharin' it... whether it's bein' scared, or makin' mistakes... it's all good. Cause that's what a good family does -- help through the tough times, 'n celebrate the good times too."

Cetiri pauses for a moment... then says, "... somehow, I imagine... Riese can sense you're wearing that. That you prepared that for her." She rumbles.

"Let's surprise her with it again when she comes back."

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Noeline studies her daughter's expressions for a moment, and gently tilts her head in a nod. "... alright. I don't disagree with you-- to be honest, I'm glad to keep it. But I felt I had to make the offer. You're just as much part of the family as I am... and I may need the two of you to help in reaching her."

The idea of taking them to the Photosphere in search of Riesenlied... it makes her heart jump a little, honestly, and not in an upbeat way. But they share her resolution, and they're just as much survivors as she and Lydia are. Whatever happens, she promises herself under her breath, she's not about to let the Photosphere claim any more of them.

"... where did you even-- get it," she finishes uncertainly, one eyebrow raised in deep suspicion.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia laughs awkwardly because she tripped twice today. "That's right Janey! You're both brilliant types! Don't be afraid to use your brilliance--" Pause. "--Though no more stowin' away." Pause. "Because you can just ask and I'll hide ya for ya."

She grins at that behind her mask before wobbling her cucco head at Cetiri. "I'll ride into battle with this on if it'll bring her back."

Hopefully that won't be neccessary!!!!

Lydia then looks towards Noeline mysteriously, considering her question.

"A...A lady needs her secrets..."

FLASHBACK

Lydia buys it in November City.