2018-10-02 - Her Most Important Person

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Title: Her Most Important Person

Soular reminds Mikoto of what's most important to her.


Mikoto Minagi, Soular


Tama Outer City - World Tree

OOC - IC Date:

2018-10-02 - 2015-05-17

.****************************** Tama Outer City *******************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* World Tree Plaza +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 The World Tree Plaza is both a social and mystical center in Tama Outer
 City, a huge concourse with chairs and benches and shopping situated beneath
 the eternally gentle shade of the titanic World Tree. The tree itself is a
 100-meter behemoth that commands the local skyline, visible from many miles
 away. Stairs and walking paths - first concrete, then hewn into the bark and
 branches - allow climbers and hikers to clamber over a dozen meters above
 the ground. Its size makes it a reliable landmark, popular both for giving
 directions and for meeting friends. Although visitors find the World Tree a
 stunning sight, for citizens of Tama, it's simply a beloved local landmark.

 The World Tree's true identity is the sacred tree Bontou, a site of enormous
 natural magical power. Every 22 years, Bontou releases a tremendous rush of
 magical energy. The city around the tree has been groomed by the Magic
 Association for more than a century, and so six points of power harness the
 Tree's power at all times: Five in a pentacle around the tree, and one in a
 cavern beneath the trunk itself. At the moment, the Infinity Institute sits
 directly on top of one such control point; the Institute's Library Island is
 in charge of another. Another point supposedly contains the local Magic
 Association headquarters...although an unwitting visitor would find only St.
 Ursula's, a small church and Catholic school with distant ties to the
 Infinity Institute.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The Kanda Matsuri festival went wrong. Through a combination of Yumi, Signum, and Mikoto's magics, the modern float Majestia was animated. When its form was shred true, the eye which opened on that amorphous spherical form...


It's the sort of thing which stays with a girl.

It's the sort of thing it's best not to think about.

It's an overcast day, clouds threatening rain but not quite following through on their threats. Midterms loom like the weather, and yet they're the furthest thing on Mikoto's mind. Mai would prefer she be at home studying, surely, but she just can't focus on numbers or equations right now.

All right, be fair. She never really can. She came to numbers late, and it's always been a struggle. But it is more difficult, now. Because there's too much in the clouds, too much looming overhead, and the rain has long since flooded that garden in her heart. The rose-petals are rotten, fouling the water. It is not fit for cats or girls any more.

More things it's best not to think about. She can't do anything about it. Not yet.

She said she was searching, and perhaps, at first, she was. A search which took her in long arc about Tokyo, from Shibuya to Akihabara. But Tama is at the outer reaches of the city, and there is something here she wished upon, not so long ago.

It is the way of things that a girl will occasionally find her way to the place she most needs to be, and in this way Mikoto Minagi finds herself at the World Tree. The clouds have chased away some of the people who might have otherwise been out here, and so the crowds are sparser than they could be - but it is still the World Tree, and there are still people enough in the plaza.

That's fine. Mikoto has no interest in sitting in the plaza. She's going up. There are walkways enough to lead up into the World Tree's height, and it is only after alighting a stairway carved into the bark that Mikoto finally sits herself down against one of those pathways, high enough to avoid the gazes of all but the most curious groundbound onlookers.

It is, after all, a universally-acknowledged truth that cats prefer to be high up, and twelve metres above the ground is an excellent position from which to survey the world.

And the World Tree is a thing of innocence and hope.

And Mikoto helped make that, too.

So it must be all right - mustn't it?

<Pose Tracker> Soular [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Lots of things go wrong, all the time. Just ask Soular.

Actually, don't bother to ask Soular. He'll never admit to it.

But he'll think about it, because thinking is what he does, and frequently too much of it. Even with his absolute, unwavering faith in Lord Moebius, it's hard to deny that things have not gone as they should have over the last several years. More specifically, ever since he and his fellow executives came to Earth. While at first all was fine, gradually this planet has caused... problems.

This is not Lord Moebius's fault, of course. The Supreme Leader's control and management of Labyrinth is perfect and without flaw, but if he could extend that perfect control beyond their homeworld, then there would be no need for Infinity. But there are problems. The biggest one is that, even after all this time, he and Westar (and Northa, he supposes) have yet to find, much less capture, Infinity. The second biggest is Cure Passion, once known as Eas. After all, the problems are numerous... but the one that brings Soular here, to the World Tree Plaza, today, before midterms, in the uniform of Labyrinth, is... well, the World Tree. He had done (in his opinion) a considerable amount of work sneaking the plot to seize hold of its energy from under that shadowy organization, but after Northa arrived on Earth, dealing with it had been reassigned to her. Soular hadn't been keen on that, though at least it meant that when the magical girls of Tokyo had thwarted their attempts, the responsibility had fallen on Northa's shoulders. But...

Well, after all that, the World Tree is just a tree once more. It'll be another twenty-two years before it blooms again, and in that time, Lord Moebius will be in control of all worlds in all parallel universes. And yet... Soular leans on the World Tree's trunk, standing on one of its thicker branches, gazing blankly out at its foliage as he keeps his arms folded over his chest. And yet... He can't take comfort in evading responsibility for failure, when any failure on any Labyrinth executive's part, whether as a solo endeavor or as a joint endeavor with their Dark Fall allies, means a setback for Labyrinth as a whole. And Lord Moebius's patience has been growing short. The Sorrow Gauge is so, so close to full, yet far enough away from it that it would still require several Nakewameke before it can fill. What plan will take them all the way to the top? What plan will finally lay Precure and the other magical girls low for good? What plan will reveal Infinity for the glory and good of Lord Moebius?

Movement stirs the leaves to his left. He tilts his head, green eyes narrowing, and spots a young girl--an Ohtori high-schooler, he recognizes from the school uniform. Second year, if the color of the tie is any indication. Somewhat surprising, to see such a girl so high up in the World Tree, but it's not as if she's gone off the trail yet. He peers at her for a moment longer; then he sets his gaze back forward, content to ignore her.

...If he's ever met Mikoto before, he apparently doesn't recognize or remember her right now.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

There is a man who plots and plans, a hundred gears turning in perfect uniform concordance. And then again, there is Mikoto, utterly percipient, who so deliberately does not think on much at all.

Perhaps there would be nothing to say about the two of them; he is on the ground, she is so high up. But she is looking down, at that precise moment he looks up; bright gold and bright green, and there is something about it which sets the hairs at the back of her neck standing upright. He is not like the visitors to the plaza. He is dressed too strangely, carries himself with distinction.

She could leave well enough alone. She could wait and see what his purpose here is. She could do any number of sensible things which are simply not in her nature at all.

Here is what that highschool girl does instead: she stands, slings the black case beside her back onto her shoulder, and leaps down from stairs to walkway to flip down onto the next level, as if going down the normal route were simply beneath her.

To be fair, that's not the entire truth. It's also quicker, this way.

Perhaps a little alarmingly quick for a girl who was twelve metres above the ground just a minute ago to leap down to Soular's lower branch, landing with a palm pressed against the wood. She straightens, fixing those bright eyes on him with an assessing gaze.

"What are you doing here?" She asks, the question perhaps a shade uncomfortably rude.

<Pose Tracker> Soular [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Soular had been willing to leave Mikoto alone. He's not here to start any trouble, after all; that's why he's up in the branches of the World Tree, if one of the lower ones. He's not even here for research, not technically. It's more for... reflection. Observation. Which is a part of research, but it's a more passive form.

On the plus side, he's about to get a truly superior opportunity to observe something very different from most Earthen life-forms.

The branch, lower down as it is, is more than thick enough to support Mikoto's weight when she jumps down onto it; nonetheless, it trembles under the impact, which is sufficient to get Soular to blink at her. She demands to know his purpose without fear or hesitation. He blinks again, then narrows his eyes at her thoughtfully.

"Are you a magical girl?" he counter-asks. It's, in his mind, a reasonable question. While it may be possible that this girl is just uncommonly brave and direct for a normal human, in his experience, Earthlings who are this bold generally are so because they have power to back up their boldness--and she's the right age group, after all.

Really, it's the question itself that Soular asked that's unusual for him in its forthrightness, but something about her demeanor inspires him to return like with like.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It is plainly true that most Earth girls do not do what Mikoto has just done, but it's hardly unique. Perhaps she's a gymnast. Except - she looks up at him, and even though he is quite tall and she is quite short, there's not a trace of trepidation in those eyes.

If he knows the words, she sees no reason to lie.

"Yeah," Mikoto replies, though it would be so much more sensible to sheathe her claws until she knew whether she was dealing with a threat or just someone brooding. "I'm Mikoto."

It is a name well-identified in the magical community, thanks to SEARRS' efforts. It's a foolish thing for her to just give out, but she has never let herself be cowed by her uncowling. Let the world know what she is capable of. It makes no difference to her.

Her head tilts back a little more as she considers him, chin jerking up with the motion. A corner of her lips scrunch in her frown. "And you're different." Flatly incisive, it's not a question.

<Pose Tracker> Soular [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

"Mikoto," Soular repeats, each syllable distinct as if he were trying to taste them. IT's not inaccurate, in the sense that he's aiming to analyze the name. It sounds familiar... Come to think of it, wasn't it announced when that certain organization made a major move? What was it--SEARRS. Yes, Soular remembers them. Specifically, he remembers when they took over the Sister Schools. To this day, he doesn't understand why the other II students were so stressed and afraid and upset by the incident. They conducted business perfectly normally to his eyes. Westar had even agreed.

"I am," he agrees, the corner of his mouth rising, as he nods back to her. "But I'm not here to cause you humans any trouble, rest assured." ...Not today, anyway. "My name is Soular." He doesn't say 'of Labyrinth,' but then, he doesn't feel he needs to. The name Soular alone should carry enough weight on its own that anyone who hears it can automatically fill in the blank that follows. "Are you in a bad mood today, Mikoto? You seem like you're itching for a fight."

...Of course, that's every day, but Soular only just met her, so.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

'Humans,' he says, as if he's not one of them. 'Soular,' he says, and that intimation makes sense. "Like Westar," she makes the connection, and she does not smile back.

There is a tenseness to her, as he confirms her fears, which squares her shoulders and draws her cheeks taut, pressing her lips in thin line. She does not like people like this at the World Tree, so soon after what happened. She is plainly suspicious, despite his reassurances.

It is an utterly unfriendly thing.

Perhaps it's no wonder, then, that Soular makes his own connection. Mikoto's eyes narrow as she hears it, glaring up at him. "If Soular's not causing trouble, I got no reason to fight." It is not quite a denial. She does not like to lie.

<Pose Tracker> Soular [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

'Like Westar,' the dark-haired girl concludes, and Soular nods once, smile unabated. Normally he's loathe to allow comparisons between himself and Westar, for pride if nothing else, but when it comes in terms of Us vs. Them... it's acceptable. After all, the one thing that Westar has over all Earthlings is that he is a denizen of Labyrinth.

"No? And do you need a reason to fight?" Soular wonders politely. 'Politely.' "I've encountered those among your kind who were all too eager to spill blood, whether I was immediately causing trouble or not. And as I said, you seem absolutely spoiling for a fight. So? Does Mikoto need a reason to fight or not?"

It's perhaps risky to pursue this line of inquiry; if Mikoto realizes, hey, actually, she DOESN'T need a reason to fight, he might have a battle on his hands--and while Soular is confident in his fighting skills, he really isn't in the mood to throw down today. At the same time, though, if this is going to end up in violence no matter what, he'd rather get it over with sooner rather than later.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Does she need a reason..?

Mikoto frowns, a hand curling around the strap of her case - but for all the tenseness to her, she doesn't seem like she's getting ready to fight. Soular, in his surgical precision, must know well the lines of tension on a girl's face which suggest struggling with hard questions.

At the mention of spilling blood, she glances down and away, because she can't deny it. They return to him a moment later. The damage is done.

"I..." She shakes her head, braids flicking at her face. "I fight people who get in my way. People who attack me. They're - reasons. Even I need reasons..." But she doesn't sound entirely confident in the conclusion.

Because it's not the whole truth. She attacked Westar despite him not getting in her way, not attacking her. But Westar thought she was like him, and she could not abide by it. She just fought him because she was angry, and she did not like what she heard.

<Pose Tracker> Soular [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

"Oh, well, as long as you have a reason to brutally murder anyone you disagree with," Soular remarks, and even Mikoto will likely be able to hear the snideness in his tone. But then he waves a hand as if attempting to waft away a bad smell. "Excuse me. That was a little too far. I'm thinking of someone else at the moment." Though, given the way she looked down, the way she appears to be grappling with this most simple of questions, he has a feeling that it's not too far off the mark for her, either.

Then he rests that elegant, gloved hand on his chin, regarding Mikoto. It's not often that he has a... reasonably peaceful conversation with a magical girl... and whatever other tendencies she has, she seems... straightforward. So, he asks: "Are those the only reasons you fight, then? Surely you have more stake in all the battles of Tokyo beyond, 'That person got in my way.'" He smirks--almost sneers. "'Friendship' seems a popular excuse among your peers. What about you?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto sucks in a breath through grit teeth, lips curling around them and pulled down as she looks away again.

It's true, isn't it?

That's what she does.

That's what her power does.

She does not restore the world, or incapacitate her enemies. There are no second chances. There is only -

Soular excuses himself, and Mikoto makes a dissatisfied little grunt of acknowledgement as she returns her gaze to him. There is trouble to her, lips drawn in thin line, the crease at her eyelids as her brow knits. Irritated - and conflicted.

"... I'm looking for my Lord Brother," she says, and the antiquity of the word stands in stark contrast to the simplicity of the rest of her speech. "And..." For a moment she trails off, as if it's strange for her to think she might have any other reason. But she has lived in Tokyo for two years, after all. She came here with one purpose; she found another. "... yeah. I made friends."

Her grip around her shoulder-strap tightens. "I'll protect them."

There's no conflict between her two aims. There can't be. Even though Mikoto Minagi works exactly as intended...

<Pose Tracker> Soular [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

While Soular may have excused himself for projecting another magical girl onto Mikoto, he does rather enjoy the way she sucks in a breath, the way his projection strikes home anyway. For one, it's far more telling than he'd anticipated; for another, he's just a jerk that way.

"Lord Brother? He sounds very important to you," he observes. Whether she trails off after that because of hesitation, or because he'd made his own suggestion and she just happened to let him speak, is somewhat difficult to tell, particularly with the fervency of her oath to protect said friends. That's why Soular nods twice, and then asks, "Who's most important to you, then? Your friends, or your Lord Brother?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nobuo Uematsu - Who... Am I? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4M4TSaK7ZU

Mikoto has lived in Tokyo for two years. She came to love Mai Tokiha's cooking, and then she realised she could love Mai, and then she realised loving Mai was different to loving everyone else.

And there were so many other people she loved. There was love she was not permitted to entertain, the forbidden sororal affection she could not wish she had for Eri Shimanouchi. There were people who she loved despite hurting her, like Kasagami Araki. Love she relied on, like Yumi Ohzora. Love which saw a kindred spirit in Setsuna Meioh. Love for people who expanded her horizons, like Natsuki Kuga and Nao Yuuki.

All those and more besides, because she loved and loved so much.

It would be a story of triumph, wouldn't it, if the love she felt for dozens of girls were strong enough to matter?

If the most important girl in the world were important enough to tip the scales?

But a Lord will always be greater than the force of any girl.

Here is the sad, sad truth: Soular asks his question, and Mikoto does not hesitate for a moment. "My Lord Brother," she says, automatically and with conviction.

And there is no regret in her eyes.

There can't be.

<Pose Tracker> Soular [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Mikoto answers with unerring, unhesitating conviction, and this is how she can get an inkling that her choice is wrong:

Soular approves.

"Oho," he utters, silver eyebrows rising in mild surprise as he gives her a slight nod. "I'm surprised. I rather expected you to dither about it, or to say that they're equally important, or to choose your friendship. To choose your Lord with no hesitation..." He nods again, this time in acknowledgement. "It speaks well of your convictions."

No regrets. Why would there be? Soular knows that conviction well too, after all. No matter how much he's come to care about Westar, no matter how much he may privately miss Setsuna, in the end everything is for Lord Moebius. If he were to choose, he too would choose his Supreme Leader without hesitation.

That is what it means to be a denizen of Labyrinth.

"So if he matters to you so much," Soular then continues, because of course he wouldn't stop there, "what's keeping you from seeking him out even now? Did you part ways with him just recently?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Soular supposes she might have been conflicted, and Mikoto frowns. Another girl would have been, she knows. But...

She nods, to him. She is convicted.

And what an interesting way to carve that word.

He goes on, and Mikoto cannot meet his gaze any more. She bows her head, hand releasing Miroku's strap to curl at her chest - no, something beneath her shirt. "No," she says, and the word is miserable in a way which might be delightful to a Labyrinthine man. "My Lord Brother left... long time ago."

It's not anger on her face, any more - it's shame. "Came here to search, two years ago. I - I still haven't found my Lord Brother. Still looking." She shakes her head, swallowing at a dry throat. "I just - needed to think - so I stopped here..."

<Pose Tracker> Soular [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

In fairness, it's not delightful to Soular because he is of Labyrinth. It's delightful to him because he's an asshole.

That being said, it's actually less pleasing to him than one might think. After having given Mikoto his approval, he peers at her now, frowning, when she reveals her Lord Brother left a long time ago, that she's searching even now, and stopped in Tokyo to think for...

"Two years?" he repeats, a ring of astonishment in his otherwise even voice. "Surely you didn't need that much time to 'think'? Unless you have conclusive evidence that he is somewhere here in Tokyo--" as Lord Moebius does Infinity, the trouble of course being that Tokyo is one of the largest and most populous cities on Earth, so it's very easy indeed to hide someone or something here, "--then the logical thing to do would be to move on."

He pauses a beat, and then adds, just to twist the knife, "Unless your Lord Brother is not that important to you after all?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nobuyoshi Suzuki - Living Failures https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiboHWwr12M

"No, I..." Mikoto tries to answer Soular, but her voice is too subdued to compete. Shame hobbles her as he goes on, those big golden eyes widening in dawning horror. Her hand curls around that thing beneath her shirt as her breath hitches in her throat, as if air is at once forbidden to her.

Tha-thump, tha-thump, she can feel the rapid beating of her jagged obsidian heart.

Mikoto finds her breath again, rapid and shallow on parted lips. "No!" She cries, taking a step back bodily, as surely as if he'd struck her. "My - my Lord Brother's in the land of Fuuka --" though how she knows is blurry at best, she is sure Grandfather told her, "-- it's here - my Lord Brother's here and I --"

Nobility-pale skin is whiter still, but as the knife twists, she finds her anger again, hot and seething as her teeth grit under curled lips. "My Lord Brother's the most important person in the world," she insists, with a more dangerous edge than her panic ever had. "Don't ever say my Lord Brother's not important to me!"

<Pose Tracker> Soular [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

The land of Fuuka. Hmm. Soular's never heard of such a place before. Perhaps, if he has the time and inclination, he'll search around for reference to it... though as of right now, he has no real reason to pursue this lead, beyond that it is apparently in Tokyo, and if it's in Tokyo then it's worth knowing this additional secret. Perhaps if Lord Moebius deems it so. He'll be reporting this to the Supreme Leader, after all, as he does everything.

Mikoto shouts and protests and seethes, closer yet to violence than ever before. "Then you should look to your own actions," Soular replies, calm and unfazed. "I'm only commenting on what I see and hear. If the very concept is so upsetting to you, ask yourself: 'Why might someone think that my Lord Brother is not the most important person to me? What am I doing that might give them that impression?'"

He pushes himself off the trunk of the World Tree lightly, just enough to straighten and take a step forward. He smirks faintly as he half-turns away. "...If you're going to spend so much time thinking, perhaps you ought to think on that."

And then he leaps down the entire twelve feet to the ground, landing nimbly and with grace, and begins to stroll away.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto's anger meets a mirror, and it is an effective way to give her pause. Mid-step forward, she hesitates, uncertainty leeching onto her angry face again. It's unthinkable to her that she would be anything but devoted to her Lord Brother... but Soular looked at her and saw...

He steps forward, and she makes no motion to stop him, gaze downcast again. She hears condemnation in every word, because she does not need to think on things at all. It is not her role in life to ponder anything. She acts, she fights.

She has a task she must complete.

"... I..." The word is small, and hesitant, and wounded, and it cannot be enough to keep Soular from his exit. She watches as he goes, brow upturned and lips tugged down, with eyes which cannot hope to mask the pain there.

Because Soular is right.

But she has made promises on promises on promises, and she will shatter beneath the weight of them. She cannot renege her word. She was made to be too loyal to simply let them down.

A hand grasps the bead beneath the cloth of her uniform as Mikoto's eyes scrunch shut. "I'll work harder," she promises, though there is no one left to hear. "I will."

If she just works a little harder, she can make everyone happy. She'll find him, and she'll protect her friends. She doesn't have to let anyone down.

She can make the world fair - right?

She does not idle at the World Tree any longer. She leaves; she searches. This is what she can do. This is what she has to do. She just has to keep moving. She can take care of everything. She doesn't have to think about scary things at all...