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Paranoia [Sousuke]

An oval structure of steel and glass, this is where those of the Journeymen Order meet to discuss future designs, undertake lessons to further their educations, and a place to build. The ceiling consists of a stained glass design consisting of crossed hammers and anvils. Each Journeymen is given a key to their own vault where they keep their wares and their secrets. Upon entering one can hear the sound of industry be it the banging of hammers, the sharpening of blades, or the pouring of molten metals.

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Paranoia [Sousuke]

Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:33 am

Yatamaru dared not move. For how long, he couldn’t quite remember? Hours? Days? It didn’t matter.

A dark corner was more than enough to hide one who has nothing more than time to kill, a body that can withstand neglect, and a trove of information to scour over. His mind was not here. It was consumed, wholly, by the small red ruby gripped tightly within the balled fist of his right hand. Over, and over, and over again, he replayed the message. The interaction. Reviewing the words. Looking for something he’d missed. Something that would give him a clue. It seemed he’d replayed it a thousand times in his head.

The actual number was eight hundred and sixty three times. He was halfway through the eight hundred and sixty fourth.

Where was the paranoid puppet? Waiting for Sousuke, of course. He had known no other place to turn to — no one else whom he felt he could trust completely with his temporary madness — and so had absconded in the dead of night to the small workshop he’d visited once before with the tinkering Takahashi. Yatamaru knew Sousuke would show up here eventually. He was sure he hadn’t been followed; at least, as sure as his fragile psyche would allow for at the moment. It was possible that someone else was en route, instead.

That’s why he held the kunai in his left hand, behind his back, in case someone else decided to crash this meeting. That, and the various poisonous smoke traps that he’d set in hidden locations throughout the workshop, set to unleash their deadly payloads upon command by the puppeteer, was his contingency plan.

Despite his viewing of his memories, he was aware of his surroundings. Yatamaru stirred not until the door opened up, he could confirm the identity of whoever entered, and he could further confirm that it was Sousuke. If it was, there would be no violence. ”Sousuke,” he would state quietly, ”were you followed? Are you alone?” The hand with the kunai would drop to the side, the point facing away from the man, the sapphire still clutched tightly in his clenched fist. Yatamaru’s eyes were wild. Terrified. Shaken. ”I didn’t know where else to go. Something is wrong. Someone is planning something. I don’t know how to stop it.” His eyes darted to the door, then back to the Sennin’s face. Yatamaru looked more closely. He was suspicious of everything — even his own ability to recognize if this, truly, was his friend. He didn’t know what to expect anymore. "Do you know a woman who calls herself Michi? Maybe Fuu? Dark hair, short stature, and scribbles furiously in a book as if her life depended on it?"

There was another possibility, though. An unintended guest could enter. They could be looking for him. They could have stumbled in accidentally. It didn’t matter to a man who couldn’t tell what was what anymore. Silently, with the stealth of one who knows how to eliminate their presence entirely, the mechanical man would attempt to sneak up behind any such unwanted visitors and pull the kunai up to their throat. He was not himself. But then again, this situation was not what he was accustomed to, either. ”Don’t move. I’ll kill you — I swear on the sands above and the depths below — I will.”

Yet still, there was the possibility his intended and unintended guests were one and the same. A rouse. A deception (to add to the growing pile), intended to trick him. A disguise? If the person who entered looked like Sousuke, but was not Sousuke, Yatamaru would point the kunai’s tip directly at them and ready himself to strike. In such close quarters, it would be hard for anyone to defend themselves. And if strength would not do it, no one but him could withstand an onslaught of poison gas.

Yatamaru was prepared this time. He’d vowed not to be caught off guard again. He intended to keep that vow.

[ooc]
Using CRPJ to replay, over and over, the conversation recorded in [this] post.
Crystal Drive: Fast-Forward ⏭Show
Approval: [Link]
CRPJ's Effect: Using his Crystal Drives (CDs) to store text data, combined with the upgraded capabilities of a puppet-body, Yatamaru is able to absorb information at an accelerated rate; by burning chakra, he can consume the contents of an entire book's worth of text stored in a CD within a minute. Using this skill while imagining practicing a technique has the effect of boosting the level of perceived practiced focus — it's like he's running simulations of training in his head. Mostly commonly helpful for learning new subjects, finding important information in a large stack or pile, and just plain not wasting time reading things manually (Yatamaru is creatively lazy). Can be used for the duration of one thread, then requires a week cooldown before it can be used again.
Reason why it cannot be used in battle: Requires complete mental focus, and makes Yatamaru physically unable to move his body. Opponents would be able to strike him directly, making this a poor combat tactic.
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Re: Paranoia [Sousuke]

Mon Dec 31, 2018 12:13 am

The dead of night was one of Sousuke's favourite work times. Now it was not. The number of things that went wrong during the night were astronomically higher. Sousuke came to see Yatamaru. It was a rare thing, but there was a strange urgency in the man who was sober. Soberness and Yatamaru were a rare pairing. The summons of a sober Yatamaru was rare itself, and concerning. The Steward walked through the darkened hallways. He for a fleeting moment considered treachery. The Steward's eye glowed red as he walked the darkness. He knew the place too well. He would find the meeting spot. He would enter the room which was in fact his workshop. He opened the door without hiding the action. He would open the door to find a solo Yatamaru by himself alone in the dark. The Steward would turn on the light.

Yatamaru would find the Steward to be slightly different than their previous meetings. The Steward was well dressed. He wore a navy and white pin-striped suit. It was a three piece suit. He wore jewelry. On his right hand he wore two rings, a silvered band on his ring finger, and a golden band on his index finger which had the symbol of the Journeymen. He wore a another golden bang which sat upon his left ear as it was an earring. "Followed? No. Alone? Well not anymore really considering I'm in your presence." Yatamaru spoke and spoke quickly. There was a concern or at worst paranoia present. The reason for all of this was revealed quickly enough. Michi or once upon a time she was known as Fuu. Once he spoke the name he sighed. He raised his hand and called to metal in the room. He formed a table and two chairs. The metal scrapped across the floor as all of them were collected together. Despite the threats and all else, the Steward did not allow himself to be concerned with such. He rubbed his chin. "I know Michi. Used to be known as Fuu. She was an Oracle. She isn't the last Oracle. Not anymore." He spoke being neutral in all things. "She's ... the one who revealed the Orders to me." He admitted. He would motion for Yatamaru to have a seat. Regardless the Steward himself would have a seat.

Did Sousuke trust Michi? She did not lie to him. She was a former member of the Cabal. "So. I'm going to make a couple of assumptions here. Michi or Fuu is this person planning something? Do you wish to detail it?" He would inquire. Michi had asked him to ... host a party for Kazuki. A bachelor party. What was it that Michi had asked Yatamaru to do? He was genuinely interested in this. What was it?
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Re: Paranoia [Sousuke]

Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:26 am

Yatamaru tensed up as the door slowly opened, the lights flickered on, and a man with an unfamiliar fashion style walked in. He looked like Sousuke, but dressed like a Merchant Lord. He wore jewelry. An earring, and two rings. This was not the practically-minded Journeyman that Yatamaru knew.

"Followed? No. Alone? Well not anymore really considering I'm in your presence." Yet, as soon as he spoke, Yatamaru knew all was well. Only Sousuke would interpret his words so literally. His tensed form relaxed. He closed his eyes in relief, let out an unnecessary sigh (purely idiosyncratic), and stowed the kunai knife away in a compartment in his back. His paranoia was obvious. ”Thank goodness. For a moment, I thought you might have been an impostor — your new fashion sense is refreshing, but the timing of it couldn’t have been worse. I’m not myself right now...”

Sousuke summoned a set of seats for the two to use. Yatamaru was thankful and took a seat without prompt. While he didn’t feel the aches and pains of a body that had been standing for hours without rest, his joints were still subject to wearing down and appreciated the reprieve from gravity’s grasp. Sousuke kicked things off right away. No need to ease into this discussion. "I know Michi. Used to be known as Fuu. She was an Oracle. She isn't the last Oracle. Not anymore." Yatamaru listened intently. This made sense — her notebook and constant note-taking must have been a habit picked up as a scribe. Or, perhaps, the order of cause-and-effect was reversed? Maybe she had become an Oracle to better aid her natural inclinations? "She's ... the one who revealed the Orders to me." Also interesting. ’How far back in Suna’s history does her reach extend?’ This question worried Yatamaru. How many more strings was she pulling that he couldn’t see? His concern was only growing. "So. I'm going to make a couple of assumptions here. Michi or Fuu is this person planning something? Do you wish to detail it?"

Yatamaru’s right hand reached for his left arm. The inside of his forearm. If Sousuke watched carefully, he would notice the small clasp that Yatamaru’s fingers grasped for. If he listened carefully, he’d hear the soft click of a latch unlocking. The mechanism was completely hidden — it was designed only to be opened using puppetry and chakra strings, for safety reasons — but regardless a small panel would open up to reveal a set of crystals: a ruby, a sapphire, and an emerald. There were a few other slots available, though currently empty. Yatamaru retrieved the ruby, laying it on the table between them, before closing the compartment.

”Indeed. She came to me, at my former place of dwelling, with a business proposition. She wanted life-like puppets — fifty of them — which she claims to be used as security for her wedding to Sennin Senju Kazuki. She claims you could corroborate the truth of this arrangement.” Yatamaru looked worried, however. There was more. ”I don’t trust her. The request seems odd. She claims to be able to ‘operate’ them all, but even I couldn’t accomplish that. If she wanted them to be life-like, it would follow that the puppets ought to move naturally too; and yet, no one could make fifty puppets move naturally. I suspect she has a secret motive for their use. Something simpler. I suspect the wedding is a cover up for something else.”

”What’s more, she was very specific about telling me that the only person she did not want in attendance was Sennin Okayama Roku. She implied they used to be former lovers, or enemies of some kind, but the fact that she went out of her way to tell me this makes me think she really does want him there. But why? I’m afraid to warn Roku, to involve him, because that might be exactly what she wants me to do. Or, maybe, she wants me to not warn him, out of fear of playing into her hand?” Yatamaru’s gaze was on Sousuke, but it was almost as if he were looking through him. He was lost in his own thoughts. He was desperately trying to put the pieces together.

”What concerns me, however, is the payment she used to purchase these puppets with. I may have made a mistake here, but I asked her for information on Mikaboshi, Ancients, and Hybrids. Their abilities, history, and current whereabouts. I was very demanding, requiring a very long list of details, and yet she complied after some tweaking. I had asked for unaltered texts of hers, notes and books, yet she claimed she could not do so. She seemed caught up by the letter of the law, so to speak.” Such phrasings were usually not best used with Sousuke, as his literal interpretations often made such phrases lose their meaning, but Yatamaru didn’t know a better way to say what he was thinking. ”It’s like she was bound by something. A code? An ethos? I’m not sure. Either way,” the puppeteer pushed the ruby crystal slightly forward, towards Sousuke, indicating its importance, ”she complied, though in her own way. Word of mouth. Possibly untrustworthy, but the entire transcript of what she said is recorded here. There is much that was said, but it seems like there is some truth to her words. How much, I’m not sure.”

Should Sousuke desire it, he could simply touch the crystal to learn its information. Should he do so, the full transcription of Michi’s explanations would fill his mind like a whisper in the back of his head. Yatamaru’s method of recording information was more focused on convenience, secrecy, and compactness; to be able to fit a near limitless supply of information into such a small crystal required eschewing unnecessary details. To Yatamaru, everything besides her exact words were unnecessary.

”I apologize, my friend, for throwing so much at you all at once. However, I’m at a loss. I don’t know this woman, or her capabilities, and was caught completely off guard by her skills in deduction and subterfuge. I came to you for advice, a second opinion on what she’s told me, and anything else you might be able to tell me about her. She’s dangerous — that much is clear. I might be playing right into her hands, at this very moment, which bothers me on a very deep and fundamental level.” Yatamaru looked downright petrified. His mind was racing at a million miles per hour, and not for a second did it appear to be slowing down. ”I didn’t know who else to trust. I figured you might have some answers for me.”

[ooc]
Crystal contains a transcription from the linked thread. This is a use of my CRPJ linked below.
Crystal Drive: Read/WriteShow
Approval: [Link]
CRPJ's Effect: By combining the rigid matrix of crystals and the flexible nature of chakra, Yatamaru has learned to make a portable, high-storage, chakra computing device. The crystal's natural piezoelectric properties, combined with precision chakra control, allows the user to manipulate data into and out of specialized Crystal Drives (CDs). Acts like a book of never-ending pages, allowing Yatamaru to store as much, or as little, information as he wants into each CD. Performing this technique does not require a conscious effort on Yatamaru's part — much like how his consciousness controls his puppet body by instinct, so too does it inscribe his thoughts into the CD once he begins the technique. Only text may be stored with this technique, as anything more complex would take too long to input, or output.
Reason why it cannot be used in battle: Does not have any offensive qualities. Could be used, but would only record the details of the fight for later review.
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Re: Paranoia [Sousuke]

Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:46 am

Yatamaru made the statement that Fuu/Michi could use fifty puppets at a single time, "My father at his prime could control a legion of puppets, but what defines a legion, I don't know. It did make a good story, I will say that." The Steward would offer as a bit of news? Takahashi Judori was a legendary puppet user, at least in terms of modern legends. The Steward's expression remained neutral as he was trying to figure out why fifty and why fifty life-like puppets. "Michi has no family. I suspect it is supposed to make at least one side of the room seem less empty. Michi was a member of the Cabal when she was known as Fuu. She was not responsible for the explosions, but she was associated with them. She was ... and hopefully will remain that way, the mother of Shouki, the general of the Soverign and the bastard son of the Daimyo." Sousuke revealed. He still had that sinking feeling that Shouki would return one way or another. It was a feeling that always lurked in the back of his mind. He cleared his throat. "Michi is a very dangerous woman. Equally you and I are both dangerous people. The only thing that makes one more concerning that others is intentions." Sousuke's intentions were clear cut. What were Yatamaru's? Not something the Steward was immediately aware of.

Sousuke gave his fellow Journeyman an odd look when he mentioned that Michi and Roku were former lovers. Were they lovers at any point? That would be highly ... awkward. Would explain why Roku asked Sousuke at once point to make Michi 'public enemy number one', and to make it so she was to be arrested on sight. That was petty though. Roku was above that. "Sennin Roku and Michi? More likely enemies than lovers." He would assert after breaking eye contact and looking at the wall. It was possible. He thought about it for a moment. Roku generally had been unwell in the extreme lately. Maybe it was best to leave him out of this? "Michi is a hybrid. She is Half-Ancient. She cannot lie. Supposedly." That being said, she was capable of concocting plots and plans which may not be for the best interest of Sungakure. The Journeyman Anbu spoke of what he asked for in terms of payment, which was interesting to say the least. Yatamaru had an obsession with Mikaboshi. Yes the man was wronged by him. Sousuke placed his hand palm down on the table. He thought about it more so. "More than likely she is bound by her new heritage. Ancients are bound to a particular characteristic. She is more than likely doing this because she is bound to it - bound to a concept of truth that is. Yet ... I'm not sure how it works for hybrids. They're a rarity." The Lord Steward remained silent for a time. He was processing this. He tapped his fingers against the table for a number of minutes. "Michi, unfortunately, is my superior in terms of raw intellect and certain abilities. I will confirm that there is a wedding to occur. I'm to host Sennin Kazuki a bachelor party, but she is visiting one Miroku Akkuma to secure the location of this party." His eyes flickered over to Yatamaru. Akkuma was someone who was under Roku's radar as well. Sousuke did not like dealing with the man because of key character qualities. Corruption be it of the flesh or the spirit seemed to be one of those characteristics which made Sousuke wary. "I think it is best we do involve Sennin Roku."
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Re: Paranoia [Sousuke]

Thu Jan 03, 2019 7:38 am

NPC: Mikaboshi

"I find my name is on your lips a great deal in recent days, Oda Yatamaru."

Yatamaru had relaxed for only a moment and in that moment when his guards were down it seemed as though the universe saw fit to punish him for his lack of vigilance as the temperature in the room plummeted suddenly and the lights, soft as they were, flickered under the strain of a heavy gloom that set in about them. His foot falls made no sound whatsoever as the Lord of the Deep Court appeared in the room in between flickers of the lights, leaning against a wall a few paces away from where Sousuke and Yatamaru were sitting. Mikaboshi's appearances were often sudden and without warning which had been a significant reason for the respect that his name had once commanded within the ranks of Sunagakure. It was often said among the ranks of the ANBU that the director of the ANBU Corps could hear his own name being said no matter where it was within the village and that he could listen in on the conversations being had about him.

Whether that was the truth of the matter or not was irrelevant. No one was anxious enough to test the legend of Mikaboshi and potentially incur his wrath to ever truly disprove it and the fact that so many believed it to be so and that faith in the legend made it as good as real.

"And what's more... I come to call upon you and I find you with not only my own name in your mouth but other such fascinating words. Ancient. Hybrid. Michi." Mused the King Under the Sands out loud, turning his hooded head towards Yatamaru and tilting it sideways at an angle which was jarringly inhuman for a creature that had such a humanoid shape. "How very curious."

How had he found this place? How had he known that Yatamaru would be here to meet with the Steward? Had he been following Yatamaru or monitoring him somehow? Were the legends about the former director of the ANBU corps true after all? Dangerous questions, all. But perhaps the most relevant one was the most dangerous of all...

What did he want?

"I hope I am not... interrupting you. My sense of timing has ever proven to be... inconvenient for others." Mikaboshi growled, his voice a low whisper. It was always somewhat hard to tell simply from the tone of his voice if Mikaboshi were attempting to be threatening in his tone alone given that threatening was pretty much his default setting.

Pushing off from the wall, Mikaboshi began to stalk closer though his body language presented no obvious threat of violence. Perhaps the most dangerous thing about him was that Mikaboshi required no need of his body to harm or kill. The shadows that coiled and slithered around him like living serpents could become as lethal as blades in a heartbeat's time and without so much as a tilt of his head to command them. Raising his right hand, Mikaboshi would reach though space and the small ruby sphere upon the table would begin to float upwards if either Sousuke or Yatamaru made no attempt to stop him from spying it. The sphere would hover only for a moment giving either of them only a split second to come to a decision on whether or not they wished to stop him from calling the crystalline device into his grasp but regardless of what they chose there was a prize to be won for Mikaboshi.
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Re: Paranoia [Sousuke]

Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:47 pm

"My father at his prime could control a legion of puppets, but what defines a legion, I don't know. It did make a good story, I will say that." Yatamaru recognized the name Judori, though he only knew cursory knowledge of him. That the man had been a master puppeteer, or that he was somehow able to claim even a small possibility of accomplishing such a feat, was all news to him. Yatamaru considered this, before responding, ”I suppose it’s possible. It’s not unheard of to be able to control fifty or more puppets — I simply have never heard of anyone, even one who possesses a similarly…well…unique biology to my own, being able to do so with anything approaching life-like finesse. Battle combat is one thing. Making a puppet move like a human is another.” It’s true, in battle sometimes having a puppet act like oneself as a deception, or a ruse, could be incredibly beneficial. Drawing out an attack, or creating a diversion, were useful strategies. But fifty puppets? All acting life-like? Yatamaru didn’t buy it. ”Perhaps I’m making an unnecessary assumption; but, why go to the trouble of getting life-like puppets if they will not act life-like? That seems a necessary prerequisite to maintain the illusion of being life-like. I still maintain that, given her likely motives for using such an armada of automatons, I am not confident she could pull it off.” Yatamaru was not angry, or mad, or confrontational. He merely sought the truth. Answers to questions that made no sense. Perhaps he was assuming too much, though?

"Michi has no family. I suspect it is supposed to make at least one side of the room seem less empty.” Yatamaru…hadn’t thought of that. He knew nothing of the woman, let alone her familial relations (or lack thereof). ”Michi was a member of the Cabal when she was known as Fuu. She was not responsible for the explosions, but she was associated with them. She was ... and hopefully will remain that way, the mother of Shouki, the general of the Soverign and the bastard son of the Daimyo." Yatamaru’s memories of his time as an ANBU during the Cabal attacks were…somewhat repressed. This would have been when Mikaboshi — ’Cursed, be that name,’ he thought to himself — had most made use of the puppeteer’s talents, blind loyalty, and willingness to please the ANBU. He hadn’t known she was related to those incidients…but why not? That seemed…pertinent. Like…something he ought to know? But why didn’t he? He found it hard to concentrate on this line of thinking. His thoughts slid over the subject, like oil over water, drawing back to the now. "Michi is a very dangerous woman. Equally you and I are both dangerous people. The only thing that makes one more concerning that others is intentions." This was true. Sousuke had a very clear view of things — it was one of the primary reasons Yatamaru had sought him out. Where Yatamaru made assumptions and leaps, Sousuke was measured and stable. Certainty first. Look before you jump.

Yet Yatamaru couldn’t help himself. He felt he was on the cusp of something. No amount of reason, or measure, would be satisfying enough to restrain him. Perhaps that’s what she was counting on?

There was something interesting in what Sousuke said. ”Do you mean to tell me that she…and the Daimyo…” His words trailed off. Something wasn’t right. "Sennin Roku and Michi? More likely enemies than lovers." Most probably. But then, why did she mention enemies and lovers? She had said an unintended guest might arrive, but might there be more than one unintended guest? "Michi is a hybrid. She is Half-Ancient. She cannot lie. Supposedly." If Roku was the enemy…and if she’d intended for him to think otherwise…then who was…

”Oh no…” Yatamaru looked shaken. A revelation, of sorts, had occurred to him. ”…she said…she said that the more people there were at her wedding, the greater the likelihood that an unintended guest would show up. She mentioned former lovers and enemies. Roku…he’s the enemy. I’m sure of it now. And the former lover?” Yatamaru looked his friend in the eye. He was sure of himself now. ”She intends for the Daimyo to make an appearance, doesn’t she? Him…and probably his entire army…” Every sort of alarm was ringing in the puppeteer’s head. She had never lied, not once. And yet, she hadn’t said she didn’t want them there. ”I admit, it’s a leap, but…” His words trailed off, again. The gears in his head were turning.

"More than likely she is bound by her new heritage. Ancients are bound to a particular characteristic. She is more than likely doing this because she is bound to it - bound to a concept of truth that is. Yet ... I'm not sure how it works for hybrids. They're a rarity." Sousuke’s words only made Yatamaru more certain. Things were lining up. So far, what she’d told him hadn’t been wrong, but neither had it been particularly true in the way he’d expect. For a member of the Deep Court, as she claimed to be, that seemed to fit the bill. "Michi, unfortunately, is my superior in terms of raw intellect and certain abilities. I will confirm that there is a wedding to occur. I'm to host Sennin Kazuki a bachelor party, but she is visiting one Miroku Akkuma to secure the location of this party. I think it is best we do involve Sennin Roku." More affirmation! Sousuke could, indeed, corroborate Michi’s words — just about all of them. And, unfortunately for Yatamaru, the growing worry inside of him that he was dealing with an opponent who could out-smart him, at every turn, was restated by one whom he considered equally his better. His despair was growing. His desperation, too. This was not a battle he could win.

They needed to change the rules of the game.

”You’re right. Roku needs to know. I…I’ve never met the man before…not really…” Not directly, anyways. Not as far as he knew. This whole situation was proving rather difficult. He knew a little about the man, about how he was rather eccentric, seemingly muscle-brained, and that he frequented bars almost as frequently as Yatamaru did. It’s a wonder they’d never ran into each other, yet. ”I’ll find him, somehow. But it’s got to be a way which Michi isn’t anticipating. She probably knows I’ll seek him out — if she’s planning something, I refuse to play more into her hands. I’m done being others’ puppet. First, it was Mikaboshi, and now-“

"I find my name is on your lips a great deal in recent days, Oda Yatamaru."

The words caught in his throat. If he’d had a heart, it would have doubled — no, tripled! — its beats per minute all at once. His head snapped towards the source of the all-too-familiar voice. His eyes were wide with disbelief. His arms retreated, defensively, closer to his body so he might defend himself, if necessary. ’HOW?!’ Rage. Hatred. Fear. The puppet was shaken beyond action. He couldn’t even move. He couldn’t even bring himself to respond to the specter, which whispered like a wisp on the wind, to tell him how much he despised, loathed, and blamed his former superior for all the horrible, awful, things which had befallen upon the ANBU — how it was all the Ancient’s fault, and how he had sworn complete and total revenge upon the shadow which plagued his waking nightmares. Yet he could feel the familiar coldness emanating from the Ancient’s presence. It was the same feeling he got whenever Senju Kazuki was nearby — or, rather, perhaps it was the other way around?

"And what's more... I come to call upon you and I find you with not only my own name in your mouth but other such fascinating words. Ancient. Hybrid. Michi." The Deep Court Lord was toying with Yatamaru, and he was powerless to do anything. He wanted to renounce him. Spit at him. Revile him. Cast him down from atop his terrible throne of malice, and do unto him which the puppeteer felt had been done unto himself. Yet all he could do was sit there, trembling, as the Deep Court Lord twisted in the most inhuman, most horrible, way to face him, directly.

Yatamaru stared into the inky blackness of that hood, and he could swear he felt the darkness itself staring back at him.

"I hope I am not... interrupting you. My sense of timing has ever proven to be... inconvenient for others." The shadow stalked off from his perch, drawing closer to the table and the two sitting by it. While the monster’s body language was not threatening in-and-of-itself, Yatamaru found everything about him threatening. Mikaboshi’s presence was enough to make the puppeteer rabid. It was the Ancient’s next action, the attempted collection of Yatamaru’s prized notes, his hard-fought-for research, that finally did it: a jolt ran through Yatamaru’s body, his will returned to him, and movement once again allowed. The puppeteer grasped out, as quick and precise as a machine, and attempted to snatch the ruby back into his left hand; simultaneously, he jumped out of his chair, backing away from the approaching specter, and grasped for a hidden scroll containing his collection of puppets. He was preparing for battle.

”Don’t you come anywhere near me!” Yatamaru was completely agitated. He was like a scared animal caught in a corner. His eyes were wild. ”I promised myself I would find you…that I would destroy you…that I would pay you back for all the things you did to me. THE LIES! THE BETRAYAL!” He was shouting. He didn’t care anymore if Michi was watching them, spying on them, or was even still searching for them. Nothing else mattered to him. He was feral. He wasn’t thinking. ”YOU USED ME! And now you think you can call upon me, again, like some sort of obedient pup?! I don’t care what Sousuke says,” Yatamaru had almost forgotten the man in question was there, still, witnessing this all, ”I don’t care how human he thinks you are. To me, you're nothing but a monster!”
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Re: Paranoia [Sousuke]

Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:57 pm

"You've met Roku before. You just do not know it." Sousuke spoke quietly when Yatamaru spoke of not having met his fellow sennin. He broke eye contact and looked skyward for a moment. He was mulling something over in his head. "Michi isn't always watching. There are some things she is not aware of." This much was true. If it was true, he might have had her following him his entire life. Watching him heal in the hospital. Watching him fight enemies upon enemies. Watching but not helping. Helping was something she did not do often. She did help him in giving him the knowledge of the Orders. He was grateful for that. She had other secrets too, but it was up to her to give it to him or not. Michi had this saying, you had to ask the right question to get the right answer. That was perhaps in play as well. His thoughts were disrupted as Mikaboshi appeared. Excellent. The plot thickens. There were few ways this could end. The Steward wondered if what Michi said was true, call Mikaboshi's name enough times and he just appears. Sousuke seemed unphased by Mikaboshi's arrival, but his mind was already making plans within plans.

Yatamaru was over reacting. Mikaboshi was unbound and very powerful now that he was very much his own being. This was the first time in a while Sousuke had seen his old employee, his old enemy, his old companion. Mikaboshi was many things. This was going to be difficult. Each of them had the ability to destroy the Hall of Hammers. Luckily most of the people were gone for the night, save for these three. Sousuke would turn his head around. "Good night Mikaboshi." He greeted the Ancient casually with a bow of the head. He would turn his head back to Yatamaru. He would make a gesture to slow down, and to calm down. From one machine to another. "We're not going to brawl in the Hall of Hammers. We're going to unravel this mystery." He asserted with a calm, cool, and practice speak which was neutral in all things. "Michi is a ... spawn? ... Child? ... Kin unto Mikaboshi. He's perhaps unaware of what is going on between his fellow court members." Sousuke found it strange that Michi did not approach Mikaboshi to ask him if it was within her right to marry Kazuki. In a weird sort of way it was cousin marrying cousin, or at worst sister marrying brother. Sousuke knew that Michi and Kazuki were not blood related, but they were related in a way that the human mind nor a machine mind could comprehend. Was it elemental? What were the rules in this thing? "I don't think of Mikaboshi of a human. He is an Ancient." A pause. "Let's figure this out first and foremost." He turned his head back to Mikaboshi. He was hoping that Yatamaru would be able to comply and see things differently. This was bigger than all of them. This was something that was going to change things. What was to change? That remains to be seen. "Are you aware, Lord Mikaboshi, that Lady Michi intends to wed Lord Kazuki? What is your position on this?"
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Re: Paranoia [Sousuke]

Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:03 pm

NPC: Mikaboshi

Yatamaru's reaction was more or less what Mikaboshi expected. Few that had crossed paths with the Night King during his tenure as ANBU sennin had particularly pleasant stories to tell about their interactions with him but Yatamaru even more so than most. Yatamaru had run afoul of Mikaboshi's darker side at a young age when he was vulnerable to temptations and made an ill-thought out request of the antediluvian creature.

He had wished to become a hero.

What he could not possibly have known is that for all of his power and scope, Mikaboshi was still a limited being in his world view. Even if he had not sought to bend Yatamaru to his desires through the wish, Mikaboshi would not have even understood what it meant to be a hero in the first place and so Mikaboshi fashioned Yatamaru into the closest thing he could conceive of: he made him into a weapon. There was a great deal of other consequences to that deal which Yatamaru clearly laid at the feet of his sinister benefactor but that did not concern him in the slightest.

Yatamaru snapped the information sphere out of the air almost as soon as it began to rise and shot to his feet, curses and threats upon his lips as he did. He called Mikaboshi a monster and though no expression showed through the inky darkness of his hood, Mikaboshi understood the emotion that was being directed at him well.

"You wished for power and I granted that wish for a price. I even taught you an important lesson that power cannot be won without sacrifice free of charge." Mikaboshi reasoned, retracting his hand now that the object of his interest was no longer within his grasp for now. "That you are experiencing buyer's remorse now is no fault of mine."

"We're not going to brawl in the Hall of Hammers. We're going to unravel this mystery."

"Yes, do calm yourself Yatamaru. After all, at the behest of your king we are allies now." The sneer was evident in his tone of voice even with the lack of facial expression presented in the gloom of his hooded head.

"I don't think of Mikaboshi of a human. He is an Ancient. Let's figure this out first and foremost. Are you aware, Lord Mikaboshi, that Lady Michi intends to wed Lord Kazuki? What is your position on this?"

"My dislike for your Ranger Lord notwithstanding, Michi is free to do as she likes. Marriage is a human moor and has no meaning to me. What I am most interested in is your interest in it."
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Re: Paranoia [Sousuke]

Thu Jan 17, 2019 9:55 pm

"You wished for power and I granted that wish for a price. I even taught you an important lesson that power cannot be won without sacrifice free of charge. That you are experiencing buyer's remorse now is no fault of mine."

Yatamaru had no words for the shadow before him. His thoughts had often been plagued by visions, scenes, and expectations of what it would be like to confront the Deep Court Lord since he’d set his convictions on vengeance. He had thought that, given the chance, he would be able to avenge the hole in his life that the loss of his body, his self-purported freedom, and the countless dark deeds that he had done in Mikaboshi’s name. He’d never really given much thought as to what that vengeance would look like. It had seemed a thing that he’d just know when the time came. But now that the moment so long dreamed about was here…

’It’s not possible,’ Yatamaru thought to himself, ’how can he be making sense?’ All he felt was confusion. He eyed the shadowed hood before him, trying to gain some semblance of understanding, finding nothing but emptiness. The anger, which he’d concealed from himself for so long — which he’d directed towards the Ancient Lord before him — turned inside out. ’If I’d never accepted his offer,’ Yatamaru thought, ’none of this would have happened. Is…is it all my fault?’ He didn’t know what to believe anymore.

"We're not going to brawl in the Hall of Hammers. We're going to unravel this mystery. Michi is a ... spawn? ... Child? ... Kin unto Mikaboshi. He's perhaps unaware of what is going on between his fellow court members." Sousuke’s words rang through the haze of darkness filling the puppeteer’s mind. They were words of reason and restraint. Yatamaru realized how tightly he’d wound himself, how much power he’d given his emotions, and just how close he’d come to brawling solo with an Ancient Lord. This was not what needed to be happening. Not here, and not now. This was a distraction from what the real issue was.

Yatamaru learned a valuable lesson this day: he cared more about the safety of the village then he did about his own struggles. He set aside his vengeance. There was something more important to do.

"Yes, do calm yourself Yatamaru. After all, at the behest of your king we are allies now." The snide tone was almost enough to set Yatamaru off again. Almost. Yatamaru, still in his battle-ready stance, closed his eyes. He took an idiosyncratic breath to calm himself, though no air passed through his system, and opened his eyes. He stood, and relaxed his posture. He withdrew his grasp of the hidden puppet scroll.

”I regret not facing you sooner,” said Yatamaru, his gaze still cold and fixated upon the infinite depths of darkness within the hood of the Ancient Lord, ”for now I see my anger was misplaced. I thought I wanted to kill you for what you did to me, but now I see that’s not quite accurate. I think, now, I understand a little more of what it means to be an Ancient.” He let his words hang. He pushed the disgust and virulent hatred aside. There were more important matters at hand. Turning to Sousuke, with eyes filled of regret and shame, he stated simply, ”A pixel is a point. Many points make a circle. How many more points do you think I’ll need to go through before I end up back where we started? Before the pattern of the circle becomes clear?” He knew Sousuke would understand. The good soldier, with a different master, fell back into line.

"Let's figure this out first and foremost," Sousuke began, taking charge of the situation that had developed. "Are you aware, Lord Mikaboshi, that Lady Michi intends to wed Lord Kazuki? What is your position on this?"

"My dislike for your Ranger Lord notwithstanding, Michi is free to do as she likes. Marriage is a human moor and has no meaning to me. What I am most interested in is your interest in it."

Yatamaru steadied himself. He felt the hesitation and mistrust spreading within him again, recoiling from the bait Mikaboshi had dangled in front of him, wishing not to fall into the same pattern of call-and-response. But this point was but a mere addition to a circle. Yatamaru couldn’t change the curve of time if he’d wanted to. He had to feed it. He had to ride the cycle.

”My interest with it is directly proportional to hers,” he began, gauging the reactions of the two before him. ”She came to me with a request, for services rendered at a cost, yet the manner in which she gave the request seemed suspicious to me. I trust her about as much as I trust you,” he couldn’t help but wiggle in an insult, ”and even less so now that I understand more fully what it means to make deals with a Deep Court Ancient. She speaks in riddles and misdirection. Her intentions are unclear, yet one thing seems clear to me: she poses a great danger to the safety of Sunagakure. I am interested in her insofar as I can help to prevent disaster.”
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Re: Paranoia [Sousuke]

Wed Jan 23, 2019 12:41 am

The situation defused itself. Cooler minds prevailed and that was the best one could ask for. The Steward in his mind quietly thanked the two for being non-confrontational for now. Katuso was responsible for the current situation with Mikaboshi. Sousuke only helped it further by giving Mikaboshi his freedom by forfeiting the contract he had with Mikaboshi. In the ongoing setting of mystery and war, one did not need to have further collateral damage. Sousuke watched Yatamaru stand down. Even a machine could be wound up and prone to act irrationally. Sousuke knew it himself when he reacted emotionally to things. Sousuke would give Yatamaru a nod of the head of the head in appreciation for what he had done.

It was a funny thing. Sousuke had seen Mikaboshi in his true form. It was unexpected. It was humanoid with wolfish aspects to it. This shell of metal and clothe was something that was misleading. Sousuke expected that under that hood, there was a grin with prominent canine teeth. Sousuke expected the Ancient to be far less humanoid and elemental. Did Sousuke speak of this to people? No. This was something he kept to himself. The only other one was Katuso who had seen the true form of Mikaboshi. In typical Mikaboshian tact and cunning, the Ancient refuted Yatamaru. The words spoken were of a particular breed of politics. Mikaboshi was adherent to the concept of the positive-negative sum game. One gains benefits at the expense of another. Yatamaru needed to not worry about certain human aspects and was able to push himself harder, but it came at the experience. In the case of Yatamaru it was feeling. The machine felt despair, and drowned it in alcohol. Not the best combination. Sousuke too was subject to this. Being a genius came at the cost of other aspects. Sousuke too had mechanical aspects and features. He too suffered from a lack of feeling in certain things, but it was incomparable to the level that Yatamaru functioned on. Yatamaru made reference to an old term of speak the two had. Some might call it an inside joke, but it was not that funny. "Tens of thousands pixels." He would answer the question lowly.

Mikaboshi answered Sousuke's questions. Kazuki once wanted to open up his own court and called it Death Court, which Mikaboshi thought was absurd. He was unphased by the concept that Michi wanted to wed Kazuki. Sousuke wondered about the notion of loyalty within Mikaboshi's household. He was called the betrayer, which wasn't really fair. He understood how Ancients may resent him, but for humans? They should be thankful, and at least Sousuke was one of the few who were. It was unfair what the Sunahoshi had done to Mikaboshi. Yatamaru gave his answer as to his interest, which aligned itself with Sousuke's primary function. Sousuke would close his eyes and rub his forehead with his index finger. "Lord Mikaboshi, can you offer any insight as to how many individuals have knowledge that Fuu was or has become Michi? In terms of individuals who outside of Sungakure not including your court."
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