2019-05-26: Some Killers Are So Hard to Reason With

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  • Log: 2019-05-26: Some Killers Are So Hard to Reason With
  • Cast: Jacqueline Barber, Talia, Lydia Seren, Ivan
  • Where: Mi'ihen Highroad
  • Date: May 26, 2019
  • Summary: After stopping Ivan's murder attempt by knocking him out with a potion, Jacqueline, Talia, and Lydia attempt to persuade him to stop trying to kill people.

=============================<* Thunder Plains *>=============================

The Thunder Plains, occasionally known as the Gandof Thunder Plains, are an open, barren landscape connecting Guadosalam to the Macalania region. It is an area that is constantly - yes, /constantly/ - bombarded by lightning and thunder. Crossing the plains was all but impossible due to the never-ending storm, until an Al Bhed named Bilghen set up several towering lightning rods to draw the storms' fury and provide travelers with a (comparatively) safe road. He was in the process of setting up the final tower when he was struck by lightning and killed, something which lesser minds would regard as irony, but which the faithful know is poetic justice for a blasphemer against Yevon.
I mean, they'll still /use/ the road. Because Yevon wants them to. 
Clearly.
BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Gea_xz-cJ8
Dodging Lightning BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYS0EeaAUMw
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"No, it's okay. Everything will be fine - just try to relax, okay? You'll be alright." Jacqueline murmurs reassuringly, as she notices drowsiness starting to overtake Ivan.

-

That was a while ago. Immediately after her mixture took hold, she whistled, calling her chocobo and the wagon back to her.

Going right to the Travel Agency with an unconscious, tied-up person seemed like...maybe not the best idea. It would attract too much attention.

And so, they've retreated back to an overhang one of them had noticed before. It should keep them dry, if it starts to rain, and it's near enough to one of the towers that they don't have to worry about getting struck by lightning.

There's a fire going, at present, and her chocobo, unhooked from the wagon, is off to the side, curled up and taking a nap.

Jacqueline tends to the fire, occasionally glancing off to wherever Ivan currently is. She's...not actually sure what to do with him when he wakes up.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"Ah, Ivan, it is..."

Talia tries to finish that, but he falls asleep before she can.

    -=-=-

The former assassin is now seated underneath one of those overhangs. She has her cloak off; that leaves her sitting in her sleeveless shirt and long pants, with Mirage buckled to her side. Her parrying dagger is out, idly spinning between her fingers.

She sits next to Jacqueline, and she keeps an eye on her, but most of her glances are spared for her brother as she sits there.

She hasn't tied him up, but she has a dagger loose and ready. She trusts herself to throw it through his hand if he wakes up.

She doesn't say that to the others. It might trouble them.

It troubles her, a little, that the life she led has made her consider that a relatively inoffensive method of restraint. (Healing magic can tend to such wounds easily, after all.)

She smiles, a little, though. "...I almost forgot what his snoring sounded like, no?"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia reaches towards the sleepy--then sleeping Ivan, towards his cheek and--

--scoops off some of that blitzball ice cream off his face and shoves it into her mouth.

"Ugh this cake is delicious." Lydia says, taking another scoop with her bare hands and just putting it into her mouth. "Man this is amazing cake. Mm.... He missed out! Unless some accidentally got into his mouth. What do you think Talia?"

-=-=-

"Wait how long has he been a snorer?" Lydia asks as she chills out, still mostly melted and with a skeletal face though with cake kind of mushed around her face.

"Honestly," more cake scooping. " This could've gone a lot worse though he's going to be really insufferable about this, you know? Like 'ohhh you saved me you shouldn't have done that I'm sure an unforgivable jerk.' and we'll be like 'oh ok but we're still gonna do it' and..."

She exhales in a faint huff. "...Yeah anyway." Scoops more cake up and offers this to Talia.

"Want some?"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

The last thing Ivan remembers is mumbling something irate and probably incoherent at Jacqueline Barber when she tried to reassure him. Though the circumstances of falling asleep mid-battle were distressing, it was honestly a great nap! He feels quite rested. And... confused.

He bolts up to a seated position, looking around to find everyone he was just fighting with sitting calmly around a fire, and... his hands are tied together. Did he lose? When! How! He doesn't remember that! He remembers getting drowsy... was it his illness? Or one of those potions?

"What happened! Did I pass out in the battlefield and you lunatics brought me with you?!"

A prophecy, fulfilled.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline smiles slightly as Talia remarks on Ivan's snoring.

"It sounds like he's resting quite soundly. I'm glad." She remarks. Her potion was working as intended, then. She didn't know if it would help anything, but maybe he would be easier to talk to when he woke up?

"W-well, um...to be fair, I don't know if we can really say we 'saved' him, since it, um...was kind of our fault in the first place..." She replies to Lydia. "...Though I guess it was also his for, um."

She hesitates a moment.

"Trying to murder me."

Before she can say anything further, Ivan begins to stir! Jacqueline freezes and watches him for a moment as he speaks.

"Lunatics...?" She repeats, a little. "We're not lunatics...but, I guess...yes, that's the long and short of it, actually..."

"How are you feeling?" She asks, a question that is probably* going to go over incredibly well.

(* not)

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia doesn't answer Lydia's first question, because she stares at the cake in Lydia's hand -- the same way she stared when Lydia ate cake off her sleeping brother's face. Her mouth hangs open and she looks, for once, disgusted.

"Lydia," she says. "Really. I think you should eat almost literally anything else, no?"

She sighs -- and then she tenses when Ivan stirs. But, once she is satisfied he won't immediately burn through the ropes, she stabs her dagger point-first into the ground, and gives him a long look.

"Van-ya," she sys. "We wouldn't leave you to die in the rain. There are giant iron men out there with big swords. I would be a bad sister if I let you get stepped on by one. Even if you are trying to kill my friends, no?"

She wrinkles her nose. "Also, we used a potion to knock you out."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren stares at Ivan with cake dripping from her hand.

"Did you uh think that...wouldn't happen?"

She puts her hand back into her mouth as far as her mouth exists right now. "I'm feeling kind of spicy right now." She tells Talia before considering Jay's words carefully.

"I guess." She says. "But like when someone tries to kill you or your friends and you just let them sleep it off, I feel like that qualifies under 'saved' considering what the alternatives could be, no?"

She considers Talia's words, though, like that there might be sleeping draught on the cake and just shrugs that off.

"Hey." She says. "What are you gonna do when you actually manage to kill Jay and Catenna and I guess Cyre?"

Who else was even there?? She doesn't know!

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"I can't believe I lost to a potion," Ivan complains. In his mind, he ought to have been able to overcome the potion in a battle of wills. Ivan doesn't really know much about chemistry.

He looks at Jacqueline, with her question and the implication of concern it carries, and a guilty grimace comes over his features that he tries to play off as anger. This is not helped by seeing the evidence that he burned Lydia's face off, either. Is it going to grow back again...? He doesn't want to face people he did such awful things to!

"You don't need to worry about what I'm feeling, and I'm not feeling anything, anyway!" he replies, obstinately, though even he knows he's being frustrating and absurd.

To Talia, he says, "I don't know what the rules are with you on the other side of this from me!"

Although it is good to hear that 'not leaving him to die in the rain' is still the policy, it's not something he wants to express in the current company.

Lydia asks what his plan would be if he succeeded.

"I'm not supposed to kill anyone named Cyre yet. But after I kill my targets, I wait to find out who my next target is. It just keeps going. He's got a lot of enemies."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"...I suppose so..." Jacqueline concedes to Lydia as she replies. Maybe they were both right in this situation.

But, Ivan's awake, and he doesn't seem too happy with the situation.

"Y-You'll find that my potions are very effective...!" Jacqueline replies, sounding a little hurt by the implication. This look fades quickly, however, as he grimaces and replies obstinately. She frowns, looking a little sad.

"...I don't know if I believe that." She replies quietly. "And yes, I do. Someone has to, especially if you won't - or won't acknowledge it. You might be after my life, but you're still a person."

She stresses that, if it that'll help it get through. She frowns again, though, as Ivan mentions that he'd just wait and go onto the next ones.

...She couldn't imagine that kind of lifestyle.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"I'd like it to be temporary, no?" Talia says to her brother, and though her voice takes that familiar playful lilt at the end, she doesn't have the usual cheer behind it. "But..." She frowns, looking downward.

Not feeling anything?

She gives Jacqueline a sympathetic look, and then she looks back at Ivan. "He will keep telling him who to kill," she says. "But--I know better than that, Ivan. Am I... I really to believe that you made yourself not feel anything?"

She looks back down. Talia swallows, and her fingers curl a little bit around the fabric of her shirt's hem. "...I know I left you behind, when I went to Filgaia. But you felt something about that," she says, quietly.

She winces, though, for even bringing it up.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"I don't get it." Lydia says.

That seems to be it for a moment because she seems at a loss as what else to say. But eventually she does continue to add, "You're workin' for a guy who you hate and doesn't pay you to kill people you do like, or are at least ambivalent to. You can stop at any time. Heck, you are working with an entire crew of noble paladin types like White Knight Leo who probably could help you get out of the situation. Like I don't know Leo too well, but he really doesn't seem like the guy to tacitly support assassination. Heck, he hasn't even tried to stab Cyre once yet and he's very stabbable. It just doesn't make any sense and I don't get it."

She looks to Talia. "Can you explain it?" She looks back to Ivan. "Is he holding someone hostage or something?"

She shakes any remaining cake off of her hand and stands herself up. "Ugh. I am so tired of melting."

She starts feeling away at that horrible metal skull of hers to try and feel out where she needs to work.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"I'm not a person, I'm a weapon," Ivan says.

He glances self consciously at Talia, because he's not sure he's done this routine in her presence before. While his stubbornness, sourness, and general lack of social graces are nothing new, there are things about him that have changed since her disappearance. The utter refusal to see a possible life outside of murder is one of those things. The insistence that he doesn't feel and isn't a human being are also rather new, though it's hard to say whether they're a consequence of the hard stretch of life without a twin, or just the weird result of having to socialize with people who know he's an assassin and keep trying to empathize with him anyway.

"This stuff I'm saying doesn't apply to you, Talia. You're an exception," he says.

How Talia can be an exception to Ivan not being a person is left up to everyone else to decipher. But the truth of the matter is that Ivan is essentially two different people, one for Talia, and one for everyone else, and the clashing of the two worlds is bending his brain about what he's 'allowed' to say and what will cause a colossal disaster. He doubts he has succeeded in that challenge.

Lydia cuts in, trying to decipher his motivations for following Lubov's orders at all.

"I like killing, and I don't like making decisions," he 'explains.' "I'm just terrible and don't want to change and there's no secret hostages or noble reasons or anything."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline nods, agreeing with Lydia. Leo was a good man, at least as far as she had seen. He didn't seem the assassination type - if he wanted something done he'd do it himself.

Talia sends her a sympathetic look, and soon enough Jacqueline sends her one right back. She knew this couldn't be easy for her, either.

She looks toward Ivan, then.

"...That's not true. You are a person, no matter who tells you otherwise - even if that person is you." Jacqueline replies. "You are not a weapon - you don't have to be a weapon."

She's not sure if it'll get through or not. But she has to try regardless.

She frowns slightly at what else she has to say...but she feels the others might be able to address that better than she can.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia is quiet, as Ivan talks.

He says that none of this applies to her -- and it makes her tense, because those thoughts have occurred to her. Those thoughts are ones that have gone through her mind: that she has killed too many people to be saved. She has, in the past, called herself a knife. There is a slight shake to her hand, as her fingers grip the hem of her shirt.

Her knuckles start to whiten. Her eyes look downward.

Jacqueline talks, and she hears her, but her words don't register. Her fingers clench tighter, and then she looks up sharper when Jay finishes speaking. Her red eyes have tears in them. "Why--why would you say that? Say that it is just you that has felt that way? I felt that way before!"

Talia forgets the dagger she left buried in the ground, point-first, to storm over to her brother, and sit on her knees in front of him. She puts both hands on his shoulders. "Why--why would you talk like that!? He made us do this since we were little! And no one... no one cared enough to stop him. Not Sasha, not anyone in the manor, or the mansion in Pendrago after it burnt down--"

She shakes her head. "No one wanted us, Vanya. No one! And now--now we're with people who want us, no matter what we've done, and you're so determined to throw it all away!"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Gnhaaaaa." Lydia says, managing to not execute Ivan here though it probably took a great force of will to not start shaking him. "Lying lying so much...!"

She exhales, trying to calm herself down as she pulls her hands from her head and listens to Talia. Maybe part of Lydia's frustration is due to doing this arc two times in her life.

Or maybe it's just feeling helpless that even in spite of doing this twice, she feels like she's not helping at all.

She justs lets her hands drop. "Okay." She says.

She crosses her arms, looking to the side. "Okay, I mean. You say you don't like debts, so why don't you live a debt free life? Nobody 'deserves' happiness, or a good life, or--a hapy ending or whatever. Not really! Some people are just luckier than others."

She points a finger towards Ivan. "Maybe it's just because I'm a merchant, but I take what I can get. And then I try to give what I can give too. It's the only way of livin' enough to balance any scales that might be out there. Cause who can really tell how much means to who?"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"I told you, I want to be a weapon," Ivan says to Jacqueline. His words triggered something for Talia, though, and she pours out some of her feelings about how she almost gave up on herself, too. He finds he can't look Talia in the eye after that speech. He knows she's been in his place, and that it must have been difficult for her to change, too. But now that she is different, and because she did it without him, almost as if it took being rid of him to give her the strength, it feels like she's simply better than he is, and he doesn't belong in the life she created. And she's always been more vibrant, and charming. She draws people to her. He repels them. She can function as an actual person. How could he?

"They're your people. They want you. I'm just being dragged into it like we're a two-for-one special." Ivan knows he's a problem -- there are innocent people he's supposed to kill if he's left to his own devices, and one of them is right here in front of him. Of course they want him to go easy on himself and come up with something else to live for!

But he can't just quit, either. An ocean may be between him and Lubov, but Lubov can afford to send people across it as often as he likes. And Talia's newfound freedom depends on Lubov believing she's dead. If both twins were to mysteriously dissappear, without solid evidence of their deaths, would Lubov find it so easy to accept that they had died, and not deserted? Somebody has to go on carrying out his evil agenda, so he's not motivated to wonder and seek retribution. It might as well be Ivan. And the idea of going to Leo and the Guard for help is just laughable. Help him? They'd probably put him to death!

But he doesn't expect anyone else to understand.

Lydia supplies an alternate model of looking at the world. "I can't just not be in debt anymore. I can't just change my whole way of thinking to what you think would be better."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline shakes her head, and her expression falls. Maybe their perspectives were just that incompatible, but...she couldn't believe it. She couldn't imagine anyone wanting to be a weapon - not without it being forced onto them.

She hears Talia speak, and the pain in her voice hits her hard. She listens quietly, saying not a word so as to not interrupt her, and remaining quiet even as Lydia speaks of her own views.

Jacqueline sits back quietly, clasping her hands in front of her and staring at the ground beneath them.

"...I know you may think I'm...hopelessly naive, but...I think...I believe...that you can be more than that." She says, looking up at him.

But what else could she do, if he didn't believe it himself? Maybe there was nothing she could do - maybe this was just how things would be.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia's hands fall away from his shoulders and she looks down, and there is regret on her face; some of it from saying that, and some of it from saying it in front of others. Talia, typically, doesn't cry in front of people. She doesn't get all that emotional, except for smiling and laughing and joking.

"If they wanted me, do you think they would keep trying to talk to you?" Talia asks, quietly. "Do you think--do you really think there is nothing good about you, too?"

She looks down at the ground, and then she turns away to put her back to him and everyone else. Better, she thinks, if none of them have to see how upset she is getting. "It--it is not like I... it is like Jay says, no?" she finishes. "We could be more than knives. But we should do it together, no?"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"I..." Lydia says, looking away. "Jeeze," She lowers her head. Honestly she did sort of not directly suggest she should just dump Ivan but that was to be honest before she knew Ivan was ALSO in a bad spot. And it was more like 'you should leave your family if they're expecting you to go around murdering'. She didn't have the full details or anything.

But then she met Ivan.

And she find out she kind of sort of maybe liked Ivan. And that maybe he could actually be super sweet in his own way.

"Dude," She says. "I want you out of this life because I know what it's like to have a shitty family. And yeah, sure, I want Talia to be able to have her brother back. And yeah maybe you can't just change your way of thinking because I'm asking you to, but you already have managed it once one your own so I know you can do it for yourself if you feel like it."

she looks towards Jay for a bit, then to Talia. She lowers her head.

"Yeah... you're family. I mean... What are you gonna do if Lubov asks you to kill Talia? Fuck, what are you gonna do if he asks someone else to? Talia isn't wearing a mysterious mask everywhere she goes, like, he's gonna find out."

She looks to Talia for a moment and then stands, "I 'want' you because you're you. Even though you're apparently super frustrating!!!"

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan takes in all their words, and is quiet for a while. "I've never had to defend what I do before," he says. "No one has ever known about it who wasn't a part of it. I don't have the words for it. That's why I don't sound like it makes any sense."

He gives Talia a petulant look. "I never made you justify it while you were doing it."

But, of course, why would he have? It would only have reflected back on himself. They both wanted to leave, theoretically at the same time, but never got up the nerve. Except for that one time... but that one time became a lesson in what can happen if they tested their father.

Lydia's question--and the accusation within--packs possibly the strongest punch.

"I'm not going to turn on Talia! But he hasn't found her -- and if he still has someone to kill for him--to actually kill for him, not to just fail again and again like I've been doing--he won't have a reason to look."

There's a sharp regret that twists his stomach after he says that out loud and remembers why he didn't want to--it's like putting the blame for what he's been doing on Talia.

"It isn't just about that. It's a million reasons, and you'd think they were all stupid, so they don't matter, and it's easier to just sum it all up with the kinds of stuff I've been saying."

There's a flicker of unease when Lydia contradicts his claim that their effort to reach out to him is just an extension of supporting Talia. He knows she keeps saying she likes him, but he simply doesn't understand how it could be anything but a misunderstanding. He sighs, shoulders sagging.

"I don't want to start trying to decide which of my targets deserve to live more than others," he says, quietly. "Probably none of them ever deserved to die. Or maybe there is no such thing as deserving to die. But this assignment... this assignment is the stupidest I've ever gotten. The person it's for doesn't even want it." He hesitates, as if he's choking on the words. "I'll see if there's any way to make Lubov understand that."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline doesn't respond. She's not sure she can. Yet again, she was faced with a situation in which she could do nothing. Words could only do so much - her words, especially.

"...I'm sorry. I didn't understand." She says, quietly, shaking her head. "I...still believe what I said, but..."

There was so much weight on him. If he slipped even once, it could crush him - and possibly those around him.

She could kind of understand the feeling, though the situations were completely different.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia grits her teeth when he says that Lubov might find her. She starts to snap out a protest, but as much as she hates the idea of it, Ivan is right: if he knows she isn't dead, he will send people after her. She bows her head, for a moment. "...I don't care," she concludes. "I would handle the hirelings, no? The danger, it would be worth it, if it meant you were there, brother."

She sighs, and then she leans her head down for a moment. She listens to Jacqueline talk, and she hesitates for a second -- and then she sits up a little straighter.

She looks over her shoulder. "...You plan to go back to him?" she asks. "To--to tell him to call off the attempt to murder the Kinship?" She hesitates. "...You... you won't just come with us, will you?"

She sighs, then. "...Then you better be careful, Vanya." She reaches over, plucking her dagger out of the ground. Then, she moves on her knees to him -- and cuts through the ropes binding his wrists.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren is unaware of that one time. She might prefer it that way. She's seen plenty of awful in her time and she's, like, a couple years into her culture's 'adulthood' here. Maybe growing up isn't all it's cracked up to be!

Her eyes widen as Ivan says he plans to go back to Lubov. And even tell him that the client doesn't even want the job. She bites into her own lip tightly and then lowers her head. She is shaking. It's just all so awful.

Lydia has never really wanted to kill anyone in her. Not even Krelian or the Solarians (which kind of disturbs her but she tries not to think about it), she doesn't even want to kill those people despite what they've done to her. The very thought makes her feel sick. It's not a matter of morals, or ethics, it just feels... gross. Blood everywhere. No longer moving. It just makes her ill to think of it.

But Lubov, she thinks, maybe Lubov she'd let herself get sick over him. Maybe that's all it takes, to see the suffering of others and feel helpless enough that a corpse is hardly deterrent.

"You don't gotta go it alone." Lydia says. She looks towards Talia as she cuts the ropes, then back at her feet. "But nobody can make you accept company neither."

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan shakes his head in answer to Talia's question about asking Lubov to call off the hit. "Nothing I say matters to him. I already tried to tell him Lord Leo didn't want it. But if Lord Leo said it... issued some kind of statement, or even contacted him directly... maybe then he would listen. I can tell Lord Leo... some version of what's been going on. I can try."

When Talia frees Ivan, he does not immediately return to trying to murder Jacqueline Barber! So, that's a good sign.

He stands up, and looks at the group of them. He shrugs uncomfortably at Jacqueline's too-kind apology--an apology to her own assassin!--and at Lydia's offer of company. It's only a small step he's offering to take--and offering it all just seems to underscore how much harm he caused that could have been avoided.

"I'm sorry I've been trying to kill you," he says to Jacqueline. "Maybe I won't do it again."

To Lydia: "I'm sorry I melted your face off. I have no idea if I'll do it again, you seem to show up at half my jobs."

And then, to Talia: "I'm sorry I dissappointed you. I'm pretty sure I'll do that again."

And with that, he starts off on his own down the Thunder Plains. Just before he's out of earshot, they can hear, faintly: "Did I have cake on my face for that whole conversation?!"

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline can only hope that Leo would agree to it. She doesn't know how he'll view it, but...she does have confidence in him as a person, even if they aren't on the best of terms lately.

"I...wish you luck, Ivan." She says. "I hope Leo is willing to listen."

Ivan apologizes for trying to kill her and Jacqueline nods.

"...I hope you won't have to." She replies.

She watches him leave, and makes no effort to try and stop him as he does so.

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia looks relieved that he doesn't, immediately. go for Jacqueline. The fact that she doesn't let the blade drop immediately might speak to her uncertainty on the matter -- and maybe just how much her experience as an assassin has made her unwilling to lower her guard.

She glances to the side, at his apologies. "It's... be careful," she concludes. "Don't get on Lord Leo's bad side, no?"

She swallows, and then looks up as he takes off. She watches him go... though her face screws up when he shouts that across the Thunder Plains.

Talia sighs, then glances down, glumly.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

HE DID.

Though Lydia ate some of it.

"It's no big deal," She says. "Happens all the time." This is actually true though Lydia ... doesn't really want to think about it.

She puts her hand back into her mouth as she watches Ivan leave.

She sniffs once because she can get a feeling for how that's going to end and instead of saying anything else, shambles off somewhere to mope out of sight.