Difference between revisions of "2019-09-24: Reap More Than That"

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Revision as of 21:24, 11 October 2019

  • Log: Reap More Than That
  • Cast: Amaterasu, Kaguya Alathfar
  • Where: Crusader Forward Base
  • Date: September 24, 2019
  • Summary: Tempers flare beneath the ice.

<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    LAST TIME

    Amaterasu cuts a swathe through the Odessa ranks, as the melee turns into a free for all. There is the impression of heat, of Ifrit's great presence. She turns as flames lick outwards, the fate of one figure and one alone her sole focus.

    LAST TIME

    The force of the eruption of Ifrit's flames catch one frail form and casts it out onto the ice.

    Kaguya falls.

    NOW

    The ice shatters under Kaguya. She plummets downwards.

    NOW

    A tall form leaps through the ice; it splinters upwards in a spray. The figure lands on a crosswalk further below, uses that as a pivot point and leaps, a mere blur under the ice.

    NOW

    As neatly as a cat catching a bird, Kaguya is plucked out of the air as she falls. The landing, soon after, is jarring.

    Amaterasu sets her sister down on the ice beneath. Releasing a weighty breath that fogs the air, her faceplate slides back up, revealing her face as she gazes down on her younger sister.

    "You need to be more careful, Ka-ya," she says, her expression stony.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

THEN

Kaguya's gauntlet scrapes across what's left of the ice before she ends up briefly in free fall. The weapon she'd been charging is lost, but was designed to accomodate such an event. So that's a problem that isn't a problem. The ground... Her radar's not functioning well enough at this speed and this moment. She can't quite etll where it is. The icy cliff before offers no reasonable handholds that wouldn't jar her arm--

NOW

A powerful hand grips Kaguya out of the air--

NOW

The smaller Veruni rolls with the momentum just enough to take a few extra steps, stopping in place and turning around towards Amaterasu. "I didn't ask," she answer sfirst, the words sharp and clear, before she rolls her shoulders, shakes out her arms of the extra snow. "A little fall doesn't matter much to me."

A look, upward, towards the battlefield far above, invisible for the moment--

The device already slipping into her hand flickers, crackles--

"Tch," she mutters. "...Whatever. Battle up there doesn't matter anymore anyway."

"Have any more negotiations to hit?"

<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    "No, because you were falling," Amaterasu says, using that biting tone she favors when in a more foul mood than typical. "What was I supposed to do, watch you fall?" She folds her arms over her chest, regarding her sister for a moment before striding towards Kaguya and kneeling alongside her.

    She doesn't ask permission before doing this either, resting a hand on Kaguya's upper arm. The ghostly image of a section of armor congeals around Kaguya, before it sinks into her body.

    She lifts her head soon after, moving her arm away.

    "What negotiations?"

    There is a moment's pause.

    "Between you and that... human?"

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Kaguya rolls her eyes. "Yeah, whatever. It's fine." She doesn't have a great answer to that without getting into something a lot bigger, and... Well, in the next moment there's the matter of 'help' which Kaguya lifts an eyebrow at and--

Leaves it. "Yeah," Kaguya answers, focusing on that instead. "I was going to see if we could maybe avoid opening another war front immediately while we're already fighting a bunch of people. I have a contact with Odessa's forces--I might've been able to make a more advantageous arrangement for the moment, which we could overturn or not as necessary later. We don't have the manpower to fight literally everybody."

<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    Amaterasu's response is short and to the point.

    "A contact? With Odessa?" She pauses. "Why have you not mentioned that prior? I had thought I would have to fight a war on two fronts. In war, presenting any information that might be of use to affected parties is of the highest priority, Kaguya."

    She's dropped back into her sister's proper first name. This...

    May mean that she is either being overly formal (unlikely), is very worried (unlikely), or is actually angry (highly likely).

    "I am well aware that we do not have the bodies to fight a war on so many fronts."

    ...Make that definitely angry, given the edge creeping into her tone there.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

"Because Odessa was a world away and you didn't need to know," Kaguya answers, definitely catching the name change. "Because you would've made a big deal about who it is in the first place. But the doctor who brought over all my reports? Yeah, she apparently signed up with Odessa just before we all ended up here in Spira. It took me a while to make contact with her to confirm that and get the details, and since I don't report to you, it didn't come up."

Kaguya shakes her head, scowling. "Yeah you say that, but every time I try to work on a way to get us more manpower you pretty much act like I should be treating all of them like they're expendable. That preserving our human assets is a 'waste of resources'. And hey, you know."

"Maybe I don't assume that the first response to any enemy force showing up is to start chopping heads off!"

<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    "And the fact that they have appeared here in Spira wasn't enough of a reason? That isn't 'a world away', Kaguya, particularly not for an organization that sent us here in the first place. If you know something about what they might be planning, now is the time to tell me."

    This argument has gone from heated to downright icy. Amaterasu gazes at her sister in silence. "That doctor? The one you mentioned time and time again? So she is with Odessa, then--"

    The temperature down here manages to drop several degrees more.

    And this is the point when

    Amaterasu pulls rank:

    "I am a Commander under Sentinel Fereydoon himself, Kaguya. For all intents and purposes, you do report to me, and to Sentinel Elvis, in the absence of any other hierarchy here. Is that clear?"

    She may as well be carved from ice. There is not a trace of friendliness to be found in her expression. "I do not waste my time toying with trash. I am no cat, playing with her food. They are killed and killed properly so that they do not trouble anyone further." Her eyes close for a moment.

    "As for the humans."

    The strongest resemblence they have is in the eyes. Hers are a mirror of her sister's, when she reopens them to stare Kaguya down.

    "That," she says, on the subject of the humans being a waste of resources, "is because they are. In a few more years, it won't matter how many of them are left standing."

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

"I don't. If I had useful information I would've put it to use by now." Amaterasu is icy--Kaguya might be mistaken for it. But instead it's something different--more like a barely contained heat reaction, something on the edge of fusion. At first at least though--she maintains the same grumpy posture, not quite standing up straight, loose, not relaxed but not concerned. ...At first.

An eyebrow lifts up at Amaterasu as she invokes rank. She doesn't immediately answer it. She definitely doesn't salute--no, this icy figure... Maybe this particular clash has waited for a long time. "Right. Trash. Because that's been serving us super well so far."

But she pauses, suddenly. She pauses--staring right back--and goes completely still, save for those eyes that focus and refocus on Amaterasu's as if she will find some answer in them, findable from the sunken sockets of her own.

There are many retorts she could make. Many things she might consider saying. But instead...

Instead, she watches, and it might seem that she's taking it under advisement--that she's backing down, like she once might have. Before--

"Explain," she instructs. "Explain to me exactly what you mean by that. By how it 'won't matter how many of them are left standing.' Because if someone out there has some grand plan to solve everything, they sure haven't shared it with me. The one on the front lines, actually accomplishing something instead of managing to hold a tiny amount of territory for an entire century?"

<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    Fire and ice, between the two of them... and destined for a catastrophic explosion.

    "Think what you want," Amaterasu replies. "But I only treat as they present themselves to me. I have yet to meet many humans worthy of regard beyond their immediate capabilities."

    Amaterasu stares down at her sister, her tanned skin and flush of health a far cry from Kaguya's own condition. Even here, on the moon...

    And yet, the flesh may waste away but the spirit is still strong. Amaterasu takes a step back at her sister's words, briefly startled.

    But she regains her composure. She has had a long time to practice at it.

    "I suppose you should have been told some time ago. ...Well then." She inclines her head. "No doubt one of the Sentinels would be the better to tell you, but under the circumstances I will have to suffice."

    She unfolds her arms to gesture at the glittering ice all about them.

    "The reason is simple in the end. We have developed the means to save our people. Or perhaps, I should say, we have found it. The legacy of the Ice Queen, the TF System. ...Do you know, Kaguya, why it is that we have found misfortune on Filgaia, our ancestral home?" She inclines her head, as if waiting for her sister to interject.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Fire is a means many plants employ for the purpose of growth--not directly, no, but its results are what allows their expansion. The division between fire and life is perhaps artificial. ...But the interaction is not a pleasant one.

With the matter of this 'solution', the retort Kaguya could have made about human capabilities dies easily. It's unimportant, in the face of it. Unimportant, in the face of that sudden stare from Kaguya, the way that even Amaterasu steps back. Kaguya doesn't move. Not then.

"Go on," Kaguya answers, the barest incline of her chin the only movement she makes at first--but then, as if thawing too, she glances back, and forth, towards the glittering ice. 'Simple'. Developed... Or found the means.

But her eyes widen as she hears the words 'TF System'--it is clear, in the moment, that it is not the first time she's heard the term. But what has she heard?

Still tense, still strangely... controlled, Kaguya frowns. "...The legacy of the Ice Queen?" she asks. "That doesn't make sense. ...Of course I know. The Moderates caused a cataclysmic reaction, which caused us to leave to begin with; we were hoping the planet had recovered in our absence, since it didn't have to support our civilization in that time. But when we returned, that hadn't been the case. Instead, the 'Guardians' have taken issue with us... Punishing us for what happened, I guess. I wasn't aware we actually had a concrete, provable reason yet--I'd still been searching it out."

"What does the 'TF System' have to do with any of that? And if it's such a simple solution, why wasn't I told?"

She's cautious--not quite as stiff, not quite as utterly unyielding as an instant ago, but she has not relaxed.

<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    "Correct."

    Amaterasu inclines her head in a single nod that would under other circumstances indicate that she was pleased.

    "It took our scholars a very long time to work that out. At first, it was conjecture -- the planet is a living thing, and perhaps, it was the fact that we have been so long offworld that we no longer register as people of Filgaia." She shifts her stance, quite slightly. "We are dying because the planet rejects us. Hence, VR Syndrome -- Veruni Rejection. Like an immune system..."

    Her lips press thin as she studies her sister.

    "That is where the TF System comes in. With it, it is possible to terraform the planet so that it becomes more hospitable to us. Do you understand what this means, Kaguya?"

    "You'll live. We only need a few more years -- we only need to bring the system up to its full capacity. There is something preventing them from doing so, though I know not what." She glances sidelong, as if in thought. "Perhaps it may be the age and nature of the system."

    Her attention returns to her sister. "...I, myself, only learned of this fairly recently."

    There is a pause before she continues:

    "Of course... changing Filgaia will have its consequences. Analysis suggests that as we change the planet, humans and others become the rejected ones. Eventually it will be completely inhospitable to them."

    Eventually, the planet will belong to the Veruni and the Veruni alone.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Under other circumstances, anyway. Their scholars...

"Right. Rejection--Hence the connection to the Guardians, the implication that their will may have something to do with it. ...Though I was starting to see evidence it might not be the case, that it's correlative instead of causative."

Naturally, Kaguya has studied; the research available to her... her own experiences. But the TF System--

"So... we already have a cure," Kaguya repeats, disbelieving at first. After all--she's considered inevitability for some time, the likelihood that it would happen too late, maybe with her research. As long as...

"That's something I could help with," Kaguya says of the 'something' preventing them. "I've gathered a great deal of data about how our technology interacts with the various changes in Filgaia's ecosystem."

Amaterasu learned of it recently. But the pause--the pause is ominous. 'Consequences', she mentions. Analysis suggests...

Kaguya's eyes sharpen in realization, and she looks suddenly at Amaterasu again, scanning her as if for more answers. The way Kaguya looks as she's working out a problem never does change--

"Zopt Syndrome," Kaguya answers, immediately. "...It's Zopt Syndrome. That's the source. The reason it has symptoms nearly identical to the VR Factor, is because it's... the same thing. It--We're..."

A little laugh, mirthless, builds up in the back of Kaguya's throat. "...So we're fixing it by foisting the problem onto the humans. That's all. What's a little genocide between neighbors, right?"

Her movements are stiff--she turns, but it's less that she turns and more that suddenly instead of her head facing the other way it's facing this way, and it's difficult, impossible, to remember the intervening steps exactly.

"Because of the TF System. Because of the thing that caused the planet's collapse in the first place. And we're using it now. ...No. It's not 'now', is it? It's not new, not some wondrous thing we uncovered by surprise, IS IT?"

A piece of the rock behind Kaguya explodes, suddenly, showering shards and shrapnel over the snow some yards away. There is no pulse of Ether whatsoever to explain it. ...But the temperature, abrubtly, is growing colder. No obvious explanation comes except for a feeling of pressure without apparent source.

"The 'Ice Queen's legacy', you called it. ...We didn't recover it from the Moderates."

A faint black smoke trickles from the cuff of Kaguya's sleeve. It has no scent, no 'signature' at all. "...That's it, ISN'T IT? SHE USED IT! WE DID THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE! And now--hahaha, now we're just coming back and flicking the switch back, right?"

Kaguya's hand snaps out suddenly with more force than should be possible, reaching for the front of her sister's armor. "TELL ME! WHERE DID WE FIND THE TF SYSTEM!?"

<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    There are... always consequences. There is no free lunch in this universe.

    "I am no doctor," Amaterasu says, inclining her head as Kaguya stitches the pieces together, "but it appears that it is so. What of it?"

    Does it matter if the natives of Filgaia die?

If it means that her sister will live then... it is an acceptable price.

    "Yes. Need I remind you that our other option is extinction, Kaguya?" She blinks and outright recoils when she says it, a rare moment of visible guilt in the older sibling. "..."
%TSilence on her part eventually breaks. "We do not have a choice, Kaguya. The System is our only hope. You know as well as I that the Locus Solus will not fly again. We cannot recreate what our ancestors crafted. We are here on Filgaia for good." She stares down at her sister, her brow wrinkling as Kaguya goes on.

    "You do not know that for certain, Kaguya. It is said that it was the meddling that caused the System to go out of control and cause the disaster that sickened the planet." Her gaze snaps away from her sister as something behind Kaguya explodes -- purple-green light is as a hazy barrier behind the younger sibling, shielding her from harm with merely a jerk of Amaterasu's head. "Once we return to Filgaia, I am certain that the Sentinels will permit you to inspect the System yourself. With your talents--"

    Her sister keeps going. Brow creasing further, Amaterasu watches her as if wary.

    "...I suppose we did not," she says, of how it was not obtained. "What of it?"

    And Kaguya... Kaguya snaps.
    There is no other word for it. In surprise, Amaterasu again takes a step back before again becoming as a statue, stonily watching her sister as she shouts more or less in her face. She stays like that, right up until--

    Amaterasu bats her sister's hand away. "That's enough, Kaguya! This is no time to act like a child!" She draws in a breath, as if to calm herself. Gazing down at her sister, she at least does answer her question: "...I do not know. You would need to speak to one of the Sentinels, or Lord Volsung himself."

    She is silent herself for but a moment. "If you are done, we should reconvene with the others. No doubt they are seeking us after that battle."

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

Does it matter? ...Did it matter to begin with? The pieces all come together. Kaguya even sees the guilt in Amaterasu's eyes for a moment, hears her speak of choice... and what they have to do, and what they can do, where the two overlap. Sure... she doesn't know for certain, maybe--doesn't have all the proof--

"I know enough," Kaguya says, and her voice is much colder than the ice around them. ...If Amaterasu looks, she might have sworn for a moment that the strange barrier of light seemed to seep towards the smaller of the two. She turns, looks over Amaterasu for a moment. "...No," she answers simply. "You wouldn't know all of it, would you? You're a soldier. You do what you need to. No, it's not you I'm angry with."

There's a strange quality to Kaguya's voice, here--it's distant, doesn't entirely match her location, as if coming from no particular direction at all that can be bound down. It's darker than it was.

Her hand, shaking, curls into a fist; that black smoke that smells of nothing is pouring fourth to a greater degree, as Kaguya... closes her eyes, and appears to focus. She breathes--

...It stops. Slowly. The air lightens. The sense of pressure lessens. Still, there is no feeling of Ether.

"Does it seem childish?" Kaguya answers. "...Maybe a little childishness, then, is what our people need. All this time... and I've accomplished what they couldn't."

"Yes. I will examine the system. I will learn the truth of what caused the disaster that sickened the planet. And I will speak to the Sentinels, and Lord Volsung."

"...But," she says, turning towards Amaterasu. "...Don't pretend that I'm a child. I slept far longer than I should have because of their desire to protect me already. But I understand the VR Factor, now, the Syndrome--I know it in a way that the others don't."

"...I told you already. Your power isn't just your own. It's the force towards you that you can redirect. And I have the force of a planet arrayed against me."

"Don't strike me again, sister."

<Pose Tracker> Amaterasu has posed.

    Amaterasu does not shirk her sister's gaze here, though. For all that she's done--

    This, she regrets not in the slightest.
    Let everything else that lives upon Filgaia die.
    And let her sister live.

    It is a trade most fair.
    Even if her sister does not appear to appreciate it.

    "I know as much as I must," she says simply, shaking her head once. "It is enough."

    She pauses, as if taking her sister's measure.

    "But I do understand now. You have... that relationship with that doctor. It is not merely professional." Her eyes close, she exhales a sigh. "Have you never heard of what befalls those who attempt to bridge that barrier? Humans... and Veruni..." Her gaze is heavy-lidded when she opens again her eyes. "...You will reap only tragedy, Kaguya. I know this."

    She has seen it after all. Time, and time again.

    "It does. You claim to understand what you do not. This is the world we live in, Kaguya. These are the options we have! We die. Or we survive."

    She is again a statue, staring down her sister even as her sister's rage makes itself nearly nearly manifest.

    "Then do so. That would be a more fitting use of your talents, once we are able to leave these humans and this moon behind. I have told you before, Kaguya, your talents are--"

    It is the look in Kaguya's that stops Amaterasu dead.

    She slept far longer than...

    Amaterasu's expression darkens.

    "You should be grateful. Everything we have ever done," he says, her tone sharp-edged, "has been for your sake and your future. Do not dare act as if we have done you ill by safeguarding you." She starts forward a step only to linger, there on the ice.

    There, when Kaguya tells her exactly what force is arrayed against her -- against Kaguya.
    And that she is not to hit her again.

    "You--"

    There is a low rumble from further above.
    Ice rains down.

    Is someone above...

    There is a larger rumble soon after. A murmur of shouts.

    And an all-too-familiar horrific scream.
    Sin has returned.
    Amaterasu has not forgotten the last time. Nor forgiven herself for it.

    "--Tch," Amaterasu utters, her faceplate slamming back into place. Her decision snaps into place just as easily. Whatever she might think, want, fear... this is the point where she must stand and fight. "We will talk about this later!" Out comes Valkyrja, and sighting a gap above, the commando begins her ascent.

    If this 'god' has made its return--

    She will have to become the blade which cuts it down.

<Pose Tracker> Kaguya Alathfar has posed.

This, Kaguya can understand, in a way that as a resentful teenager she couldn't entirely. The fact that both truths coexist; Amaterasu's single-minded protective action... And her own anger for the time lost. But there are others, too.

"Yeah. I believe it is, for you," Kaguya allows. But that measure--before, Kaguya didn't want to get into it, didn't want to have the argument, but it matters less, now, that version. So when Amaterasu brings it up--

"Yeah," she says. "That's right. ...I've heard of it. But at the time... What kind of worse was I going to find, right?"

What she understands, what she doesn't. Her talents. There's more, than that now. And maybe there was something she didn't fully understand.

They linger on the ice--and the noise comes. It doesn't change Kaguya's posture, at first. She looks to Amaterasu, in the moment. "...Maybe I should," she answers. "And I understand now, what you intended."

But it doesn't mean she is. Amaterasu's decision comes; she mentions they will talk later, and Kaguya watches her beginning her ascent, watches her becoming the blade.

Finally, she looks up, towards where Sin must be. Towards the sounds of something assailing it.

"No, I think..."

Kaguya looks down to her hand; a strange energy gathers in it, before she closes her fist, lets it wink out. "...I'll reap more than that."

The small Veruni extends her hand; in the cliff before her, ice begins to shear away, rock begins to crumble. As the ground itself rots, liquefies before her, a stairway is revealed up to the next station.

Kaguya doesn't jump. She just starts to walk, boots crunching against the revealed steps.

"Maybe it's an omen," she muses as she goes to see what's happening.

DC: Kaguya Alathfar switches forms to Calamity Embraced!