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 Halcyon

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Genpaku

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PostSubject: Halcyon   Wed Jun 18, 2014 5:40 am

Hephaestus City, as some people called it, was a sprawling metropolis that stretched out around the Academy.  It was vaguely sequestered off into different districts for ease of navigation; there was a shopping districts, a housing district, a district that housed most of the eateries.  These districts weren't set in stone though, metaphorically speaking.  This is why a small restaurant had managed to slip in among what was mostly housing buildings, in the blurry boarder between one of the shopping districts and a housing section.  It didn't look remarkable from the outside, it didn't sport any fancy signs, it lacked anything that would particularly catch the eye.  A simple sign hung above the door, the word 'Halcyon' in simple letters.

This was one of the main reasons it was one of the best kept secrets at the academy.

The restaurant wasn't particularly new, but its existence was a strangely guarded thing.  The main reason for this; people didn't want to wait for the food, and they didn't want the food to run out.  This wasn't a bad thing; the person who ran the little restaurant didn't hurt for money.  The smaller crowd made it more manageable where preparations were concerned.  It also reminded her of days long ago, but that was neither here nor there.  The inside of the restaurant was well furnished, mostly done in hard woods that would have been hard to find anywhere local.  There were several tables scattered around made of solid wood with matching chairs.  There was a large fireplace to one side, but it sat empty and clean; it was made of solid dark stone.  The whole place looked a little out of sorts with the rest of the modern design of the Academy as a whole really, but there was something comforting to it.

It was more a tavern than a restaurant, and that was the point.

There was a bar along one wall, the bottles polished to gleam in the lights.  There were modern conveniences, such as several televisions that were hidden in the walls.  Something more important filled Halcyon at this moment though; the smell of food.

Potatoes, onions, carrots, spiced meat; these were just some of the ingredients that had been portioned into several huge pots and left to simmer over night.  The exact mixtures and full ingredient list is classified; a recipe thousands of years in the making is a thing to guard you see.  The tavern wasn't open yet, for obvious reasons; the food not being ready being the main one.  In fact, it was only open some days; others it remained closed all day.  This was not to say it was deserted of course; a single woman practically danced about the kitchen.  Her golden hair had been tied back to keep it out of her work space, and she moved with the efficiency of someone who had done this so often it had become instinct.  Truth be told, you'd be hard pressed to find a group of chefs that could keep up with 'Natalia Stone' as she worked.

She paused in her movements, looking over at a far smaller pot that was coming to a boil.  She slipped through the kitchen to it and removed it from the heat, pulling the lid off it to let it cool.  It was not another serving of stew, but her own personal meal; a rather simple chicken based soup.  She gave a small smile and went back to work.  Soon she was certain she was ready, and she removed her apron as she moved into the dinning area.  She picked up a damp rag and noted the time; she had an hour yet till she'd open the doors.  She set about shining the counter tops and checking other essentials.  Once she was reasonably sure those were set, she walked back into the kitchen and poured her soup into a bowl.  She took it upstairs, where her personal “home” was.  There was a balcony that looked out over the city as much as any could, and she took her meal there, enjoying the warmth of the soup.

The artificial sky was...a good approximation.  The stars all lined up right.  The temperatures were mimicked well.  They even managed to replicate breezes.  But it was a fake, and Natalia could tell better than most.  Still, it was a nice gesture if nothing else.  The sun wouldn't be setting for a while yet, so she enjoyed the simulated warmth for what it was.

Then the time came to open up.  She could hear a small group gathering below, which brought a smile to her face.  It looked natural there.  She rose and headed back down.  Without preamble she set her bowl down (only half finished yet) and walked to the door, opening it wide.

“Come in, come in.  Find yourself a seat, make yourselves comfortable,” she said to the small group of six or so, holding the door for them.  She followed them in, and prepared to set to serving out their meals for the night.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:09 am



"Ahhh, it's pretty much useless! I'll never find her at this rate!" With a frustrated noise, Michiko chucked the map that was in her hands into a trash can, grumbling to herself quietly. The name 'Ayame' was warming her mind, her tongue, and her lips. It had only been a few hours since she'd been left alone, but she really wanted to find this girl again--even if to simply say hello and to thank her for the night. She'd gone to the Central Hub and asked about a girl named Ayame who had recorded personality changes, and while they didn't give Michiko an address--that much was forbidden--they did permit her to know that she was in the same section of the City as she. Which really did narrow down her searching area. However, as you'd expect from a search with minimal clues, she really was getting nowhere, fast. So instead, she had simply resigned herself to being unable to do anything in this situation, stuck searching over six hours for the ghost of a girl, that she wasn't sure would even want to see her again. She sighed softly and folded her arms over her chest, looking around and realizing that she was now in unfamiliar streets. Even though this was the quarter of the City that she lived within, it was still nothing that she recognized; her own travels rarely took her to this side of the quarter. Her footsteps echoed in the empty and silent street, and another noise would be made that caused her to look down and groan slightly. Her stomach was grumbling, but at least she had money! Despite this, there appeared to be no nearby convenience stores. Shouting out in frustration, Michiko looked around to see what she could scrounge up--and then she noticed them. A group of about six people, traveling with what seemed to be both intention and evasive secrecy.

Keeping herself slightly low, she decided to tail them for a bit. They looked suspicious, therefore it was her duty as a student to make sure that they weren't up to anything that was against the rules! Not that there was much against the rules. Hephaestus had no legal drinking age, nor did they really have any bans on anything too harsh. It was expected that most of the students would learn to take care of themselves, or have parents living with them to raise them until they reached an old-enough age to be able to look after themselves later on. It was a simple thing, really--most, if not all, of the students here had some kind of power. If they couldn't even keep themselves fed and cleaned, then how could they control something that required more than just brute force? The sigil on her chest burned momentarily as if reminding her of its existence, and she sighed. The most irritating part of it all was that Michiko didn't actually have a connection to Ayame for some reason. Was it because of the different personalities? She knew that the powers were here and available, since she'd accessed them before. Strangely enough, however, she couldn't feel Ayame like she could normally feel other contractees. It must have something to do with the difference in personality, so Michiko gathered that Ayame wouldn't feel her either. While slightly disappointed by that, she decided to keep moving on as stealthily as possible, watching the group enter a rather unassuming building. As Michiko approached even closer to the building, she stopped. Her stomach felt heavier, the closer she got. It had something to do, she assumed, with the amazing scents that wafted through the front door.

Her hunger got the better of her, and she approached even closer towards the building. A sign above--'Halcyon'--provided enough evidence for Michiko to realize that this wasn't simply a residence, and was actually a business of some kind. Pushing her way in through that door, she looked around to see that there were chairs and tables in this place. A bar--with as far as she could see some pretty decent top-shelf--to one side, and a definite kitchen in the rear. This was... a tavern? Here, of all places? She tilted her head to the side and watched the group that she'd tailed get seated. Well, then. She blinked and waited, since it seemed that people were being served personally here. If she was told to find a seat, she would do that quite quickly. But seriously, it smelled amazing in here.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:19 am



The idea of food seemed to be a very distant dream at this point. Ai could not help but bring another friend into her home when she saw that she could have a red panda delivered. It was just bad that the little cutie was eating her out of house and home. Now, she was walking through the streets, cradling an energetic puff ball in her arms and with a black and white snake coiled around her neck, though not tight enough to hurt her. As they walked, Ai's stomach growled and she could practically buckle over in the pain from her stomach cramping, but refused to because she was holding something precious. Her newest friend was named Kuma, Japanese for bear. He was a little chubby, but always fully of energy and ready to play. He was the perfect companion for Ai, just like Kiokure, the black and white Malayan Krait, was the perfect guardian for her. The three of them made quite a pair. Of course, this was actually a very strange sight for most people.

As they passed people by, so many young girls wanted to come up and pet the cute little sweet heart that rested happily in Ai's arms, but the moment they saw the slithering reptile around Ai's neck, they feared coming to close. "Is that thing like... poisonous?" was something she heard quite often. Her answer was always yes, which was true, but she was unsure whether it was fatal. She could have sworn that it wasn't, but at this point who knew? Kiokure actually enjoyed that so many were nervous around him. He wasn't someone that enjoyed being surrounded; it made him feel edgy. Kuma, on the other hand, loved it. The little guy loved being out, being surrounded, getting attention, and finding new fun things to sniff and eat. Of course, one of these things caught his eye right as Ai was glancing off in a different direction. With her grip a little loose, the one-track-minded ball of fur went leaping out of her arms and running down the street.

"KUMA!" she yelled for him, taking aback by the surprising amount of strength the little guy had when he jumped off her. Ai began running after him, praying to keep him in her sights and his chubby self ran along the sidewalk. She kept chasing him, Kiokure also yelling for Kuma, but the little guy was just after something. He turned a corner and went down an alley way that she did not recognize. She sped up, pushing herself a little more to make sure she kept him in her sights. As she turned the corner, she saw him running into some building and hurried on. "Oh no, KUMA COME BACK HERE!" she yelled. Little did she know, she was heading toward a tavern of sorts. It wasn't a place she recognized or would normally go in. As she ran, suddenly her foot caught on something and she went tumbling into a few trashcans. An extremely loud crash could be heard from the back of the restaurant as Ai knocked a few of them over and a couple rolled along.

"Ow..." Ai groaned, actually in quite a bit of pain from that. She slowly pushed herself up, but as her hand pressed against the floor, she felt a sharp pain and quickly got off it. She twisted her wrist around a bit and it still hurt, but not as bad as when she put pressure on it. "You alright?" she heard a raspy voice, like one of a young boy talking to her and looked over to Kiokure. She smiled weakly and smiled, but quickly realized that Kuma was still in the building. She pushed herself up to her feet, careful of her left wrist and then was actually limping toward the back door of this place. She glanced inside, wondering how the hell Kuma got in, since she assumed the door was previously shut. "Kuma..?" she said, wincing a little with each step, but continuing to look around. "I-Is anyone here?" she called out a little louder. She couldn't even imagine what Kuma would want in this place, unless he smelled that amazing food that made Ai's stomach growl angrily at her.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:22 pm

Natalia had just about made it back into the kitchen when a shadow rolled into the doorway, causing her to glance back.  A young woman stood there, obviously a little lost.  The girl stood there, waiting for something.  Natalia gave a small smile and waved at the girl.
“Go ahead and find a seat miss.  Open seating.  I'll have food out for everyone in-” she began to explain, but was cut off by the sounds of collision coming from the back.  From the way it sounded, someone had ran into the trashcans.  Natalia rolled her eyes and started back into the kitchen once more.  Strange...hadn't see closed the back...

She came to a stop, looking at the red-furred creature that had just been caught in the act of moving towards one of the large pots of stew.  The two stood there for a few moments in silence.  Then a voice called out from the back.  Natalia looked in that direction, then back at red panda.

“I assume you're Kuma,” she said with a wry smile, and walked straight over to the little creature.  With little preamble she picked up the small creature, petting it gently on the head.  Normally, you'd expect a creature to react violently to a strange person handling it.  However, animals seemed to like Natalia.  Maybe it had something to do with the energies within her.  Maybe it was simpler than that; they say animals can tell what kind of person one is at a glance.  Natalia was a kind person, and maybe animals picked up on it.

She walked further into the back, turned a corner, and found a young woman at the back door.  She smiled at the girl, as though there was nothing odd going on here.  Natalia noticed several things about the girl; she was keeping weight off one of her legs, and her one of her wrists was being kept carefully still.  Based on the trashcan slowly rolling away, this was the one whom had fallen into those cans.  And injured herself in the process.  She looked down at the red panda in her arms.

“Somehow, I suspect you're to blame for this,” the older female said, before she passed the small furry animal back.  She was careful not to actually make contact with the girl though; she had power.  Natalia had sensed it the moment she had started back into the kitchen.  Natalia's power may have been incredibly well hidden, but direct contact would have given it away, and that was a hassle she didn't need yet.

Then she passed by the girl and started straightening up the cans.

“You should probably get off that ankle.  If you head in you're welcome to one of the seats inside.  I'll have food out shortly.  Just head through the kitchen into the seating area and find yourself a seat,” she said, walking a looking farther away to get the can that had nearly managed its escape into one of the streets.  She reclaimed it, hefting it up and carrying it back to the rest.  The trash on the ground she wasn't worried about; it wouldn't really go anywhere.  She clean it up along with the rest later that evening.

With that she headed back in, making sure to lock the back this time.  She started dishing out bowls of the stew and within a couple minutes of the last two girl's entering she reappeared in the tavern proper, carrying half a dozen bowls.  Without fanfare, she passed them out to those six that had come in first.  She disappeared into the back almost as quickly as she had appeared, and then reappeared with another pair of bowls for the last two that came in.  She dropped a bowl off at each of their tables.  With everyone fed, Natalia took her seat behind the bar once more and went back to finishing her own soup.  It tasted almost as good cold as it did warm.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:21 pm



Within the first few moments of walking into the building, Michiko felt the safest she had felt in pretty much her entire life. She didn't know why she felt like this, and she figured that feeling like this could be a mistake if she was in the wrong place; but right here, right now? She felt like she couldn't be hurt. She felt like she couldn't be taken away, or advantage of. And then she was spoken to, looking up and smiling at the woman who spoke. She was blonde, and rather pretty--if a bit haggard looking, in her own way. She looked like she'd had to deal with a lot of shit over her life. “Go ahead and find a seat miss. Open seating. I'll have food out for everyone in-” Michiko made a noise that sounded a lot like a 'yelp' when the sound of something crashing came from the rear of the building. While it would normally be intelligent for her to remain away from the loud noise, Michiko decided to follow this woman through the kitchen (obviously being a bit of a rubberneck) and out the back. A voice called out--a voice that sounded familiar to her--and then a little red ball of fluff came into the kitchen itself. Michiko blinked and looked at it incredulously. Who would keep a Red Panda as a pet?

She stepped forwards to keep watching, not looking where she was going and losing her footing a little bit. She tried to make a noise to tell people to get out of the way, but as Natalia turned the corner, Michiko realized that it was too late. Dipping into the borrowed powers, she managed to counter-fall--this was enough to at least stop her from knocking Natalia over, but she definitely felt their bodies collide slightly, just as Natalia looked to see who was outside.

Her heart skipped a beat. Time stopped flowing for a moment, and Michiko swallowed slightly as the feeling washed over her. She almost wanted to see more of it--the power in her body definitely wanted to--but she instead stepped back and bowed slightly, trying not to show it in her face, "I'm really sorry!" She swallowed and then looked over Natalia's shoulder through the door... and sighed. Of course. Who would keep a Red Panda as a pet?

"Ai, of course," she whispered to herself before quickly backing away, red in the face. She already felt like she'd done something wrong, so it was up to her to at least be at her table in a good place, before she felt the possible wrath of this being she now knew was out of her league. So very much out of her league. I'll have food out shortly. Just head through the kitchen into the seating area and find yourself a seat,” was spoken as she left the kitchen, and she hurried over to a seat with a soft sigh, looking back at the kitchen door and waiting for Ai to come through. As she passed through, Michiko reached up and waved Ai over with a smile, "Aiii!" She said--voice raised, but not quite shouting. She didn't want to be more of a bother than before.

If Ai sat with her, Michiko would immediately get into small talk. It wouldn't be very important or even that interesting, but it was enough to break the ice. She didn't want to sit there looking down about Ai's injuries for too long--she hadn't seen this girl in ages! If she didn't sit with her, Michiko would simply wait for food to be brought out.

As the bowl of stew was placed in front of her, Michiko looked at it, inhaled the scent and then clapped her hands together: "Itadakimasu!" before picking up a spoon and digging in.

Angels were born under choir. Her body felt warmth and homeliness like never before. She felt like she would be able to simply sustain herself off of this stew for the rest of her life, with absolutely no repercussions whatsoever. It was the greatest feeling. She immediately turned to Ai and smiled brightly, "This is... really good!"
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:37 am


It would have been an extreme understatement to say that Ai felt comfortable the moment she stepped into this building. Even with the sharp pains she felt through her body, there was something about this place that made feeling of warmth wash over her body. She even felt her mental state calming down as she stepped further in. And then she saw her. She stepped in through the door. Her head was hung low to look for the small ball of fluff that wandered it's way into this place. Unfortunately, the little guy was found by someone else. They came toward her, Ai first seeing their feet and then, as she looked up, she could almost cry. The woman standing there with Kuma in her arms, made her feel oddly at home. Sure, it likely wasn't this woman that was making her feel that way, but Ai didn't know that. The moment she made eye contact with her was the moment she stepped fully into the building, so it wasn't shocking that the two could be confused. Feeling accepted, understood, and at home was very odd to Ai. Even her mother couldn't make her feel that way; It wasn't something she was used to.

“Somehow, I suspect you're to blame for this.” the woman spoke to Kuma and Ai immediately snapped out of her warm trance. She blinked once, returning to focus as Kuma was placed into her arms. Ai's smile returned and she immediately brightened as the little fluff wiggled his way right back into her good graces. As the woman stepped passed her, Ai actually pushed herself as far out of the woman's way as possible. She felt like this woman deserved something beyond respect, but couldn't figure out what that was. "Sorry, Mumma." the little guy said, though only to the young girl who could hear her. Ai's attention was caught by the red panda in her arms again and she just kissed his forehead. “You should probably get off that ankle.  If you head in you're welcome to one of the seats inside.  I'll have food out shortly.  Just head through the kitchen into the seating area and find yourself a seat.” Ai turned back toward her and nodded, choosing to do as the woman said, especially since Ai felt too weak to walk about.

At this point, Ai had not even noticed that Michiko was in the room. Ai stepped in toward the dining area where she sat at the first table that she saw. Of course, the moment she went to sit down, she heard Michiko call out her name and looked up to see the lavender haired friend sitting a few tables away. Ai would have gone over to her, but it was obviously by her ruffled appearance that she was currently not in the best of conditions. She even struggled to sit down at the table she chose. Once she did, she kept Kuma in her lap and motioned for Michiko to come over. Ai would have understood if she did not want to, but at this point, Ai was unsure whether she could move normally and sort of wanted to wait out a bit of the soreness. "Sssstubborn little pesssst." a certain black and white chose to make his appearance by slithering out the right side of Ai's collar, "Next time listen. Look what you've done. Ai's hurt cause of you!" Ai narrowed her eyes at the snake, Kiokure, and tapped him on the head.

"Stop it... He's just a baby. He's allow to be adventurous." Ai said in a snakes tongue, though both animals would understand, "Aren't you ya little fluff ball." Ai pulled the hyperactive panda into her and nuzzled her cheek against his. "Loves you Mumma." he said to her, only brightening her smile even more. All anyone could see was fur wiggling about as the little guy happily hugged his mumma back. As the food was brought, Ai froze. It smelled so good and her stomach growled really loudly right then. Kuma even looked at her belly at pat it with his paw. "Eeeaat it." Kiokure used his head to nudge her cheek, but she shook her head no. "I can't..." she spoke normally and turned to the woman, "I don't have any money, I couldn't pay you." Ai immediately looked away, embarrassed by her situation. If Michiko were sitting there after choosing to come over, Ai would even look away from her. She had been using her money to feed these two; she didn't have enough to also feed herself along with her pets. It didn't seem to work that way for her.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Sat Jun 21, 2014 5:44 pm

Focus too greatly on one thing, and something else will slip by you. Or into you, as it were. Natalia had been so focused on the small animal that had sneaked into her kitchen she didn't notice the girl that had decided to come along behind her. The girl seemed to trip, and all but fell into Natalia; she felt the girl's power, and given the way she reacted the girl had certainly gotten a taste of her own. This...could be a problem. The girl apologized, looked over Natalia's shoulder, and seemed to recognize the girl. Well, this was getting to be a strange day now wasn't it?

Most of that was settled, and Natalia had just set down a bowl of stew for the animal-loving girl when Ai declined the food. For a reason as old as society, in many respects. She looked quite ashamed of it too. The others in the building were too busy enjoying their food to notice the little interaction going on. Natalia gave a small wave of her hand.

“Eat. Don't worry about the money, we'll figure it out,” she said simply. Assuming she got a questioning look, she'd continue. “Maybe you help me clean up after people leave, maybe you come back and do some chores on a day you're free. No matter, we'll figure it out. For now; eat, drink, and keep off that leg,” she said, and walked away.

She took her seat behind the bar, eating at her stew. Her mind was a little farther away though; she was figuring out what to do about the girl who had bumped into her. There were many reasons why Natalia kept the existence of her powers a secret, even in a time when such things were more or less accepted. Chief among those, for now, was that she wanted to find out some particulars about this academy. It was easier to move about as a 'normal' human as it were. A few rumors could start to cause problems, so she'd have to talk to the girl.

She also kept an ear out for anything that might have caught her interest. She'd had a very long time to get very good at eavesdropping, and by now it had become almost second nature. However, there were things she also had to take care of. Someone called for a drink, someone else asked for seconds (which she gave since everyone had been given at least one bowl). At one point one of her trips brought her back past the table with the two girls, and she stopped.

“Anything I can get either of you? Perhaps something for your two little friends?” she asked, the second question obviously aimed at Ai.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:33 pm



Seeing Ai beckon her over caused Michiko to immediately--not hurriedly, we didn't want to look desperate for company--get up from her seat with a graceful expression and walk over to the table that Ai had basically slumped at. She smiled brightly at the girl and sat with her, noticing Kiokure poke his little nose out. Her body stiffened momentarily, but she quickly remembered that he was safe and that he wouldn't bite her. Recognizing this thought as a form of 'calm the fuck down Michiko', she instead decided to get straight into the food, looking up at Ai every few seconds to see how she was reacting to it. Instead of a hungry Ai gulping down this amazing stew, she was met with something quite the opposite. "I can't... I don't have any money, I couldn't pay you." Michiko, in response to this, frowned, swallowed her mouthful and prepared to offer to pay for them both, when her words that she had yet to speak were interrupted.

“Eat. Don't worry about the money, we'll figure it out. Maybe you help me clean up after people leave, maybe you come back and do some chores on a day you're free. No matter, we'll figure it out. For now; eat, drink, and keep off that leg,” Michiko breathed a sigh of relief; as did her wallet. While she was more than happy to pay for Ai's meal, she did have to go shopping tomorrow. She'd put it off today because she decided that she was going to go searching for Ayame--but tomorrow, she needed to buy food to keep going for the next week. Therefore, her monies were safe in preparation for what she needed them for! As the woman walked away, Michiko looked at Ai and tilted her head to the side, blinking a couple of times. "So, along with the snake, you now own... a fluffball?" She looked incredulously at the little red panda, only knowing what they were from the few photos she'd seen. She had as much knowledge of them as she did of Kiokure. "You... are eating properly, aren't you?" She looked at the two of them and then back at Ai. "Pets aren't cheap, especially ones as exotic as yours." She folded her arms and frowned lightly, trying not to make eye contact with Kiokure in case he found that to be a challenge.

“Anything I can get either of you? Perhaps something for your two little friends?” Michiko looked back up at the woman who had been serving them, before tapping her chin lightly. "If you have it, something to drink would be nice... actually, could that possibly be a white wine?" She blinked, looking over at the bar, "Academy City doesn't have a drinking age, but I'm old enough anyway. If not that, just a Coca-Cola, please." She nodded, before waiting for Natalia's reply and Ai's request(s). She hadn't noticed it, but Natalia had already filled her bowl back up with more of that delicious stew. She had to hold herself back from drooling openly.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:23 pm


Ai was actually rather happy to see Michiko. It had been a while since their last meeting and she wanted to know how she was doing, and figure out whether she was still able to talk to animals. It may sound selfish, but Ai didn't want to share her powers with anyone. They were hers and they made her feel special. Before the two got a chance to speak, the food was brought and Ai's situation was quickly explained; it was likely obvious that she used her money to pay for her pets food. “Eat.  Don't worry about the money, we'll figure it out,” Ai blinked a couple times, unsure of what that could even mean at this point. Apparently the look on her face made it clear that she was confused because the woman continued to explain. “Maybe you help me clean up after people leave, maybe you come back and do some chores on a day you're free.  No matter, we'll figure it out.  For now; eat, drink, and keep off that leg,” Blinking once or twice more, Ai got an "ohhh" look on her face and then showed a hopeful smile. She'd not mention it yet, but she had been looking around for a job quite desperately recently. There was someone that she needed to pay back.

Apparently Ai wasn't the only one glad to see Michiko here. As they began to eat, Kiokure slithered down Ai's arm and across the table. If allowed, he'd slither right back up Michiko's arm and sit around her neck and shoulders the way he normally did Ai. It wouldn't be surprising to realize that it made Ai a little jealous, but it was also cute. Kiokure didn't exactly have many friends or get much attention, unlike Kuma, who was leaning into Ai's tummy and just laying there at this point. Even though it was only the afternoon, he had a pretty eventful day. He was tired and was going to rest, at least until his next burst of energy. "So, along with the snake, you now own... a fluffball?" Ai coughed a couple times when she said that, a little food getting caught in her throat before she fully swallowed it. Shaking her head a couple times, Ai took in a deep breath before she was able to explain. "He's a red panda." she said, gently petting the top of Kuma's head. He looked up to her and you could see the happiness in his eyes just shine. Too cute. Way too cute. "He's just a baby, about... six months old, I believe. He's hyper, happy, and loves running around to find new things."

"You... are eating properly, aren't you?" Michiko said and Ai looked away. Was it really that easy to figure out? "Pets aren't cheap, especially ones as exotic as yours." Okay, well, yeah. That was beyond true. "I'm eating fine..." she said reassuringly, but it was obviously a lie, so she continued, "It's just... a little hard without a job." Ai couldn't look at anyone at this point. She hates to admit it, and she'd die before she got rid of either of them, but these two were eating her out of house and home at this point. She wasn't able to keep her fridge or pantry stocked up. If you went there now, you'd see a jug of water and three eggs in the fridge and then a box of crackers and a third of a loaf of bread in the pantry. There was nothing else. “Anything I can get either of you? Perhaps something for your two little friends?” Michiko spoke up first, causing Ai to blink a few times. Did she have that much money on her? Actually, how much did white whine even cost? Ai didn't know, but when it was her time to answer, she just looked down toward Kuma who actually was hungry and then to Kiokure who shook his head. "You eat." he said, "The child already has."

"No thank you..." Ai said regretably when she saw a sad look on Kuma's face. Oww. She couldn't handle the little cutie not being happy, which is why she's in this situation! He's a little piggy! "We'll get you something to eat later, okay?" she told Kuma in his animal language and he perked up again, laying his head back on Ai's tummy to soon fall asleep. "I need a job so badly..." she sighed and her eyes kept shifting around the place. Even with how much she was freaking out about money, she couldn't help but feel calm in here. She smiled and took up some stew, finally being able to actually enjoy that extremely delicious taste that she was not used to. The moment it hit her tongue, her eyes widened and she looked to Michiko in shock. She chewed for a bit, savoring the taste, and then swallowing slowly. "Wow. I don't think I've had a meal this good in... months? If not longer than that, actually..." Ai said and took a second bite, savoring it like the first. "Michi... What do you think of this place? It's a little odd, huh? I feel... at home, in a way." Ai said, glancing around while eating and keeping her back straight so Kuma could sleep, "It's so homey... Do you come here often or something?"
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:20 am

OOC Note: Feel free to have as much conversation as you guys want before you get to the later part of my post. I just sorta did a mini-time-skip to keep things moving so I was doing more than just running around serving food. I do enough of that at work xD

---

Natalia gave a nod to Michiko, and gave a list of white wines that were on hand. After Michiko had made a selection Natalia would head back to the bar and seem to disappear behind it. There were more than a few secreted little rooms around, though the one behind the bar was a little different. Firstly, it was not behind the bar but under it. Secondly, it was used to store other alcohols and the wine racks. No, it was not easy to install such a room. It was here now though, and that was what really mattered. Natalia returned to sight a minute or so later, and set down a glass for Michiko before retiring back to the bar. She had a few things to think on.

The rest of the night would go on more less that way; Natalia would take care of different orders as they came up. As the 'sun' set, she would actually light the fire in the fireplace. She refilled food as she could, and there was a little sadness when she finally announced that the stew was indeed gone. As the evening turned into full fledged night two of the other students rose and left. It wasn't too much longer before the other four followed suit, leaving only Ai and Michiko in the tavern. At some point one of the televisions would have come on at a request to see some game or other. Natalia had been in and out of the main room several times by this point, clearing plates and the like.

However, she re-entered the room and took up station at the bar. She cleared her throat, just loud enough to catch the two girl's attention, and beckoned them to take a seat at the bar proper.

“It so happens that I've got business to discuss with both of you,” she said, her tone not cold. However, it was not quite as warm as it had been; it was more serious, as suited the topic she would have to cover. As the two girls moved to the bar Natalia would walk out from behind it, motioning once more to the bar stools. She walked across the tavern room to the door, shutting it and flipping a switch the turned the light over the doorway that illuminated the sign off. She drew the curtains as well before she returned to the bar.

“So, let us get this out of the way first,” she said simply, and looked to Michiko.
“You know one of my secrets because of your little fumble earlier, and I sincerely believe it was an accident. I believe you are just a young girl who tripped at the wrong time and that you aren't working for the people who I perceive as my enemy. This is why I am talking with you. I would prefer it if the knowledge you gained did not leave this room; yes, you may fill her in on it,” Natalia said, motioning to Ai as she moved away from the pair. She grabbed a bottle off the shelf, and began pouring an amber liquor into a small glass. She poured yet more into two other glasses as she Michiko filled Ai in. Granted, part of this was a chance for Natalia to figure out what exactly Michiko had been able to discern.

Once that was done Natalia moved the three glasses over to the bar, but she did not yet pass them to the girls.

“I should apologize; I complete skipped introductions. My name is Natalia Stone. I run this place. I am also a teacher at the Academy, and as far as anyone in this city is concerned I am a normal teacher lacking any special capabilities,” she said, holding out a hand to both of the girls. After that was done, she looked between the two and waited to see what kinds of questions would come out of them. There were always questions.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:18 pm



Michiko's expression got more and more towards the side of concerned as Ai attempted to explain away her eating habits with a few obvious lies. She wasn't keeping eye contact with anybody, and though Michiko had never professed to be some kind of genius when it came to reading people, Ai was making it extremely clear that she wasn't having the best of times. From their meeting, Michiko had pretty much garnered that Ai put her life pretty much totally after the lives of her animals, but if she wasn't doing anything to keep herself alive, then those animals would be without home pretty quickly. She sighed softly, reaching up and sliding away a hair from her face as Ai continued to look worried. A refusal for a drink was given, and then she watched Ai begin to eat. Everything was made clear when the food touched upon Ai's lips. Michiko understood everything at that moment, letting out a long sigh and shaking her head. She exclaimed over how good the food was, and that she hadn't eaten a meal like this in a long time. With another sigh, Michiko placed her fingers on the table, drumming it as their drink was finally brought over. "I wish I could offer you help with your situation... but I can barely feed myself anymore. It turns out that borrowing a physically-inclined power has basically caused my body to use more resources than usual. It's weird being hungry more frequently." She reached to her left and picked up the wine glass with a pair of dainty fingers, bringing it to her lips and sipping it lightly.

"Michi... What do you think of this place? It's a little odd, huh? I feel... at home, in a way. It's so homey... Do you come here often or something?" She tilted her head to the side, shaking it and smiling softly, "This is the first time I've ever come here, honestly. I followed that group," she motioned with her head towards the group, "And they lead me here. As for how it feels... I wouldn't say it feels 'homely'. I didn't have much of a home. But it feels safe. That's how it feels." She smiled softly and closed her eyes, tapping the table and breathing in the atmosphere. "I like it. I might come here more often."

Time went on, people started to leave, and Michiko and Ai would continue to talk happily between themselves. Michiko had finished one or two more glasses of wine, and it became obvious that her words were starting to slur. She giggled at any of Ai's jokes, and finally looked out to see the  darkness slowly encroaching. She breathed out as the server beckoned them towards the bar. Michiko got up and approached it with a slightly confused expression. “It so happens that I've got business to discuss with both of you,” She gulped. “So, let us get this out of the way first. You know one of my secrets because of your little fumble earlier, and I sincerely believe it was an accident. I believe you are just a young girl who tripped at the wrong time and that you aren't working for the people who I perceive as my enemy. This is why I am talking with you. I would prefer it if the knowledge you gained did not leave this room; yes, you may fill her in on it,”" Ai was motioned towards, and Michiko nodded, turning to Ai, letting out a long breath.

"I don't know exactly what I felt. I just know that it was... big. Bigger than anything I've ever felt in this school. So much so that... well, I don't think my powers have ever desired something as much, but I know that contracting her would be dangerous. It's... really hard to explain. But I can safely say that she is simultaneously the most beautiful and frightening woman I have ever met." She moved some hair off of her face, letting out a small breath and tapping the bar with her fingers. She then turned back to Natalia and smiled kindly, "I know how it feels to have something that people could quite easily persecute you for. This secret will not leave this room; I promise." Glasses were placed on the bar, but not motioned towards the two yet. Instead, the woman held out both hands, “I should apologize; I complete skipped introductions. My name is Natalia Stone. I run this place. I am also a teacher at the Academy, and as far as anyone in this city is concerned I am a normal teacher lacking any special capabilities,” She chuckled and nodded, placing her hand on Natalia's with a smile.

She had to take herself aback for a second, but immediately tried to control herself. She had only managed to have a brief moment of contact with Natalia before, and she had felt a great deal from that one moment. Here, however, she didn't exactly know how to feel. Have you ever stood at the foot of a mountain, looking up at it and staring in wonderment and awe? Now, try to shake hands with that mountain. Feel its majesty. And then imagine that mountain to be made of an entire concert of people, all jumping up and down and shouting with the fullest degree of life. That's what Michiko felt when she touched Natalia's hand. And her power wanted to meld with it so badly.

"My name is Michiko Hasegawa, Spirit Medium by name, Student by trade." She chuckled and winked lightly, shaking Natalia's hand and pulling away after a second. She would let Ai do her thing, and then business would likely be brought out.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:10 am


"I wish I could offer you help with your situation... but I can barely feed myself anymore. It turns out that borrowing a physically-inclined power has basically caused my body to use more resources than usual. It's weird being hungry more frequently." Ai shook her head and sighed. "It's fine; I don't need any help. Once the checks come in and I'm able to get a job, I'll be able to buy more food and pay a friend of mine back... I couldn't believe I had to borrow money from him." Ai rolled her eyes at herself, unaware of the fact that she was not taking something into account. The checks the school offered came once a week and she got paid yesterday. Her money went immediately to her pets and she was going to have to figure out some way into getting an early check, or something.

"This is the first time I've ever come here, honestly. I followed that group... And they lead me here. As for how it feels... I wouldn't say it feels 'homey'. I didn't have much of a home. But it feels safe. That's how it feels. I like it. I might come here more often." Ai blinked a few times and then looked around. She glanced over to the people she had been referring to and then back to Michiko. She wasn't as comfortable as Michiko. Sure, she felt comfortable, but she couldn't help but feel that something about this place was off. It wasn't normal to feel like this in a strange place. It wasn't a bad feeling at all either, which is why it confused Ai more. Time went on and the place began to empty; Ai was surprised time flew by so fast just by talking to someone. It wasn't often that something like this happened. She blamed the oddly comfortable place she was currently dining in; it's too comfy.

Ai jumped when the relaxing atmosphere was interrupted by the clearing of a throat. She looked back a little surprised and saw the woman who owned the place beckoning them over. Ai glanced toward Michiko first, waiting to see what her reaction would be to this and then ended up following her over, carefully juggling a now sleeping Kuma in her arms. “It so happens that I've got business to discuss with both of you.” Ai stopped a foot short of the counter, standing a bit behind Michiko. It was shocking Ai that Michiko was much more comfortable than she was here. Wasn't Michiko usually frightened of everything and it's mother? “So, let us get this out of the way first. You know one of my secrets because of your little fumble earlier, and I sincerely believe it was an accident. I believe you are just a young girl who tripped at the wrong time and that you aren't working for the people who I perceive as my enemy. This is why I am talking with you. I would prefer it if the knowledge you gained did not leave this room; yes, you may fill her in on it”

Ai's arms curled a little tighter around Kuma, though he still did not wake. She looked toward Michiko and blinked a few times, waiting for whatever explanation this was about to be. "I don't know exactly what I felt. I just know that it was... big. Bigger than anything I've ever felt in this school. So much so that... well, I don't think my powers have ever desired something as much, but I know that contracting her would be dangerous. It's... really hard to explain. But I can safely say that she is simultaneously the most beautiful and frightening woman I have ever met." Ai raised an eyebrow and glanced over to the woman and then back to Michiko. That was probably the oddest way of describing someone that she had ever heard. Big? Beautiful? And Frightening? Ai was no way near close to understanding what that meant. "I know how it feels to have something that people could quite easily persecute you for. This secret will not leave this room; I promise." Uh, what? That sounded like something that needed to be reported. Ai kept glancing back and forth between the woman and Michiko, wondering which part of her fight or flight reflex was about to kick in.

Suddenly, Kiokure decided he was going to return to Ai's neck and shot himself over toward her shoulder and then back around her neck. He nuzzled his cheek against her, trying to comfort her since he could tell that she was uncomfortable, no matter how perfect her poker face currently was. “I should apologize; I complete skipped introductions. My name is Natalia Stone. I run this place. I am also a teacher at the Academy, and as far as anyone in this city is concerned I am a normal teacher lacking any special capabilities,” Ai's eyes widened. So she was that powerful and the school didn't even know about it? What the hell was she hiding?! Ai glanced toward the door way, still contemplating that fight or flight reflex, though right now it was leaning toward flight. She watched Michiko take this woman's hand and just looked on, frightened. How was Michiko not afraid of this woman? If anything that was being spoken was true, why the hell was she acting more confidence than Ai? The last time Ai saw her, she was cowering in a corner by the mere motioning toward her. How was she able to suddenly be so... confident?

"My name is Michiko Hasegawa, Spirit Medium by name, Student by trade." Michiko said when introducing herself. It was apparently Ai's turn because she was turned toward. She glanced down to the woman's hand and actually took a few seconds to contemplate this situation. Since Michiko seemed to get first glance by bumping into her earlier, maybe this was the best way of her figuring out what the hell she should be doing right now. She stepped forward and placed her hand in Natalia's. The moment she made contact with her, her gaze raised toward the woman's eyes. There was no way for her to describe this overwhelming experience; it was a strong rush that she could not explain. Because of this, she immediately pulled away and stepped back. At this point, she wasn't sure of how to react to anything. The only thing she wanted to do was go inform the higher ups of the school that this woman was lying to them. The only thing she feared was some sort of retaliation. With the amount of power that Ai just felt coming from this woman, there was no telling exactly what she would or would not do.

"My name... is Ai..." was all she managed to mumble out while glancing away from them both.

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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:09 am

Natalia studied the reactions of these two girls closely as the introductions were made.  Funny that her assessment of them would end up, in the long run, being strangely backwards.  She had no way of knowing that Michiko was normally the frightened one, nor could she know that the fact that she wasn't acting frightened was what was setting Ai so much on edge.  Ai's constant glances at the door did not go unnoticed, nor did the fear that crept into her face after the two had shaken hands.

Perhaps Natalia had made a mistake.  It would not have been the first time, and doubtless it wouldn't be the last.  Though she might have separated herself from humanity in many ways and mindsets she was still human.  She gave a small smile to Michiko at their introduction and her promise of secrecy.  However, the problem with Ai was something that needed to be sorted out posthaste.  If plans were going to need to be changed, then she'd need all the time she could get.  Natalia made up her mind; it was time for Ai to make a choice.

Slowly Natalia got up again and walked around the counter and started towards the door once more.  She didn't move in haste, and there was not a trace of intimidation or aggression in her body-language.  She reached the door, unlocked it, and held it open; the night air rushed into the tavern.

“If you want to leave, Miss Ai, you can.  If you want to inform the authorities of this academy, you can.  I won't stop you, and I won't strike out against you.  If you think me that great a threat, then that is your choice.  Clouded, misguided, but your choice all the same,” she said bluntly.  There was no malice, or anger, or negativity in her tone.

“Or you can stay, and I'll explain,” she said.  It cost Natalia something to say that too.  Part of it was her own personality to be sure, but the less these kids knew the better they'd be in some ways.  They couldn't be ignorant though; that was just as dangerous.  When she had woken up this morning she had not planned on the day panning out like it had thus far.  When she had decided to talk to these two she hadn't planned on the conversation panning out like this either.   She had planned on just leaving it that she didn't want people to know about her and move ahead that way, but it was not how the situation seemed to have fallen.

So she stood, and waited, for Ai's decision.  She cast a quick glance out the door in case anyone was in ear shot before she looked back.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:56 am



"My name... is Ai..." Mihciko's gaze turned to Ai as she tilted her head to the side, looking at the girl with a somewhat-worried expression. She let out a long breath of air and turned back to Natalia, watching both of them now to discover any interactions that the two of them may make. Ai was, to say the least, scared--Michiko could see her occasional glances towards the door, and Michiko really didn't blame her. There was a lot that Ai didn't know right now. In fact, there was just as little that Michiko knew as well. Sighing softly, she planted her hands on the bar, watching Natalia get to her feet and walk over to the door, opening it wide to show Ai out. “If you want to leave, Miss Ai, you can. If you want to inform the authorities of this academy, you can. I won't stop you, and I won't strike out against you. If you think me that great a threat, then that is your choice. Clouded, misguided, but your choice all the same,” Michiko blinked and looked back at Ai once more. “Or you can stay, and I'll explain,” Michiko's gaze went from Ai, back to Natalia, then to Ai again. She then turned to the bar in front of her and took two of the glasses that Natalia had poured, handing one of them to Ai and smiling brightly in her direction.

"Want to know something? I'm scared out of my wits right now. I feel like I've chanced upon a situation that may change my life forever. If I leave, I will probably keep my mouth shut for good--but right here? I don't think I want to leave." She raised her own glass up to her lips and took a sip, letting the amber liquid wash down her throat. A bit of it made her want to cough from the roughness, but at the same time she was willing to take that while she tried her best to give Ai a reason to stay, "So calm down, Ai. Trust me--I told you that I felt an amazing power, yes. But it wasn't a dangerous power. At least, not to us. I don't think she means us any harm, nor does she mean any harm to the students of this school. She could have harmed us all by now, if that were the case." She turned her gaze to Natalia, and stared at her for a moment or two. She was scared of this woman, there was no doubt of that. But at the same time, she was intrigued, attracted and felt the need to help her.

Because for some reason, she felt like there was going to be something going on. She didn't know what, just that there was something.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:39 am


How was Ai supposed to react to any of this? Natalia shocked her by pretty much showing her the door, but she wasn't sure whether it was a threat, a "just get out, or an honest way of trying to make her feel better. Ai was always horrible at trying to read people; this is why she chose animals as her friends. They were so much less complicated than humans. They were straight forward; they either liked you or they didn't. There was no in between confusion with animals like there was with humans. Though her sights were currently set on Natalia, she could tell Michiko was moving out of the corner of her eyes. She turned toward the lavender haired girl and took the glass she was currently being handed. She was so calm in this situation, yet was speaking about being scared? This was not the Michiko that she met and she didn't like it. Well, the better way of explaining the way Ai felt was that she did not trust the way Michiko was acting at the moment.

"You... changed." Ai stared at Michiko for a few seconds. Ai looked at Michiko like she was the strangest thing that she had ever seen. "You're not even acting like yourself." Ai told her, setting the glass down without taking a single drink. She curled her arms around Kuma, who was still sleeping in her arms. He was like her teddy bear at the moment, something to hold onto to comfort her. "What the hell is wrong with you?" Ai asked her, her voice shaking, "Last time I saw you, you were cowering in the corner of a damn park. You wouldn't even let me come within five feet of you. You freaked out at seeing Kiokure and only trusted that lady with the tiger. Do you really expect me to believe that there is nothing wrong!?" Ai was trying to keep her voice down to not wake Kuma. She turned toward Natalia and narrowed her eyes. "Are you doing that to her?" she asked accusingly, "I've felt weird ever since I stepped foot in this place; is that you!?"

"It's okay, Mumma..." Ai turned her attention down to the small animal in her arms, realizing she had raised her voice a little too much. "I'm hungry! Food, food, food." the little guy just jumped out of her arms and onto the nearby counter, looking around for something to eat. The moment he'd find anything that wasn't to hot, he'd chow down as happy as can be. Ai on the other hand, would merely sigh and look to Natalia. She'd stare for a few minutes and nod. "I'm listening." Ai said, standing there and waiting for whatever explanation either of them had.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:14 am

It cost Ai something to say that as well; to agree to stay and listen when none of this was adding up.  She felt off balance because some of the simple truths of her world were coming up wrong.  It was something Natalia had seen a million time, and doubtless she'd see it a million million more.  She gave a nod, and shut the door though she avoided locking it.  She walked away from it, and past the two children.
“I hope you won't mind if I do some work while I speak.  Things need to get done eventually,” she said, her tone light as a feather.  She started cleaning up the bar top as she spoke.

“In ancient times, Hephaestus was the god of forge.  He was a disfigured god, but he was the one who made Zues' thunderbolt, and many of the armaments of the Greek pantheon,” she first said as she cleared some glasses and began to wash them in the sink behind the counter top.
“Over eighty years ago there was a group that delved into the research of mankind and the sudden bloom of powered individuals that had begun.  Shortly after that, a school was created to help those people.  To refine their powers.  It took many years, but eventually the money was raised, the materials acquired, and the first students were brought in.  Of course, I'm speaking of this place.  Its a fine place, a place that needs to exist.  She placed the glasses back in their locations, and moved to shinning some of the bottles that sat on the mantle.

“However, there are things that don't add up.  The group that had been studying mankind's capability for powers vanished years before the school came to be.  The funding for this school comes from no direct source.  Additionally, there is a vast potential for something terrible to take place because of this school.”  She looked up then, at the two (assuming no one had bolted out the ungaurded door.  Even if they had, it wasn't like she'd have chased them).
“Hephaestus was the god of the forge, and he refined weapons of great power that were said to be what allowed the Gods to defeat the Titans and rule.  I fear the name of this academy speaks more to that ancient purpose than anything else.  A place to make weapons.  To make people like the two of you into weapons.”

She put one bottle down.  Picked up another, letting the silence hang for a moment.
“With this fear in mind I decided I would look into this place the only way one could; from the inside.  I hid my capabilities.  I hid my identity.  I joined up as a teacher.”  She put down the last bottle, looking at the two once more.
“And I've found nothing.  But my gut tells me that I am not wrong.  That something greater, darker is at work within this place.  Not something quick like fire or lightning.  Something slow and corrupting.  I fear there will come a time when the students of this place will be called upon to be weapons for a person or group to bring about something.  Such power, and such potential, lead to great temptation.  This is why I hide what I am.  This is why I will only discuss this here, in the privacy of my place where I have done extensive searches for any type of listening device or magic.”

Technically, Natalia was not lying.  Much of this was true about the current situation.  However, she hid her identity from the world for many reasons.  This just happened to be the newest one.  She reached down and produced another glass and a rag and began to wipe at it.
“As for the strange way your friend is apparently acting, Miss Ai, I am not directly doing that.  I figure it probably has to do with something far older that much of the world has forgotten.  You are my guests here, and so I will do nothing to harm you as long as you give me no reason to.  As I said, neither of you are in danger here from me.  Now that you have the facts, you have a decision to make I assume.  I'd like to know your decision; if you should choose to turn me in I would greatly prefer to have the time to pack my bags before I go.”  Natalia looked up then to meet Ai's gaze, eyes unwavering.  Once more there was no anger in them, no intimidation.  More than anything there was curiosity.
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PostSubject: Re: Halcyon   Sun Sep 21, 2014 5:23 am



"You... changed. You're not even acting like yourself. What the hell is wrong with you? Last time I saw you, you were cowering in the corner of a damn park. You wouldn't even let me come within five feet of you. You freaked out at seeing Kiokure and only trusted that lady with the tiger. Do you really expect me to believe that there is nothing wrong!? Are you doing that to her? I've felt weird ever since I stepped foot in this place; is that you!?" She frowned, looking down a little. Did she really seem that different? She knew that she felt different, but did she really seem that different in Ai's eyes. She looked down at her drink before bringing it up to her lips and draughting some of it back. She wasn't sure what to respond with--she couldn't explain what the difference was. Truth be told: Michiko was scared out of her wits right now. She didn't want to completely accept it, but she felt like hiding in the corner and letting everything pass her by--in fact, if she wasn't that hyped on Ayame's powers and the feeling that came with it, it would quite honestly be the same. But Ai was right. There was something about this place that felt completely different. However, Ai seemed to calm down--at least a little bit--and sat to listen to the story that this woman was going to give. She turned her own eyes towards Natalia and began to listen as well.

At first, the story seemed simple enough. “In ancient times, Hephaestus was the god of forge. He was a disfigured god, but he was the one who made Zues' thunderbolt, and many of the armaments of the Greek pantheon,” She nodded in reply--this was a well-known thing. It was why the Academy was known as Hephaestus, since it was forging the students to becoming the best that they could be. “Over eighty years ago there was a group that delved into the research of mankind and the sudden bloom of powered individuals that had begun. Shortly after that, a school was created to help those people. To refine their powers. It took many years, but eventually the money was raised, the materials acquired, and the first students were brought in. Of course, I'm speaking of this place. Its a fine place, a place that needs to exist.” Again, something that every student in this Academy knew. It was common knowledge--the benefactors, Hephaestus. The Academy, Hephaestus. There wasn't much of a 'two-and-two' deal going on. It was this, and nothing more. She simply nodded in acceptance and understanding, waiting for Natalia to continue her story. “However, there are things that don't add up. The group that had been studying mankind's capability for powers vanished years before the school came to be. The funding for this school comes from no direct source. Additionally, there is a vast potential for something terrible to take place because of this school.” She frowned, “Hephaestus was the god of the forge, and he refined weapons of great power that were said to be what allowed the Gods to defeat the Titans and rule. I fear the name of this academy speaks more to that ancient purpose than anything else. A place to make weapons. To make people like the two of you into weapons.” Her frown increased, and she tilted her head to the side.

"But that doesn't make sense," She began, "If this school was created to forge us into weapons, why would there be students without powers?" She finished with a soft sigh, looking around, "Not to mention students like Ai, who're... not exactly combat-based." She tapped her chin, blinking. A shiver ran down her body as she thought about the situation they'd been put into. This knowledge was something they should not have, and Michiko was scared. With this fear in mind I decided I would look into this place the only way one could; from the inside. I hid my capabilities. I hid my identity. I joined up as a teacher, and I've found nothing. But my gut tells me that I am not wrong. That something greater, darker is at work within this place. Not something quick like fire or lightning. Something slow and corrupting. I fear there will come a time when the students of this place will be called upon to be weapons for a person or group to bring about something. Such power, and such potential, lead to great temptation. This is why I hide what I am. This is why I will only discuss this here, in the privacy of my place where I have done extensive searches for any type of listening device or magic.” She let out a long breath, placing her hands on the table beside her drink, looking over at Ai with a worried expression and then back towards Natalia.

“As for the strange way your friend is apparently acting, Miss Ai, I am not directly doing that. I figure it probably has to do with something far older that much of the world has forgotten. You are my guests here, and so I will do nothing to harm you as long as you give me no reason to. As I said, neither of you are in danger here from me. Now that you have the facts, you have a decision to make I assume. I'd like to know your decision; if you should choose to turn me in I would greatly prefer to have the time to pack my bags before I go.” Michiko blinked a couple of times--was her way of acting really that unusual? She frowned again and looked right at Natalia.

"That... explains a lot, actually," she began, just in case Ai wanted to immediately go into a tirade of 'we should get rid of you', "Recently... how do I put this? Recently, I've been watched. I don't... know by who, or by what. But... stepping into this building, it made me feel safe. A fortress, if you will. I think... if I step back outside, I will... simply become afraid of everything. But in here, I don't need to be afraid, right?" She looked at Ai and gave her most reassuring smile, before turning back to Natalia, "As for why... I think I know why I'm being watched now. I have... a certain power that could be desired," she blushed a little bit, twiddling her thumbs, "I have the power to... duplicate... powers that others control, and keep them in my body. By an accepted contract, or a touch of the lips, I can borrow someone's powers and hold onto them... I could even borrow yours, but I feel that it would destroy me from inside." She shivered at the thought and tapped the table, "But... enough about me... what... do we know what would bring about their plans?"
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