2018-11-27 - TIMELINE 1: A Bear Island! For Bears!

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Mikoto goes searching for friends and finds a bear instead! Luckily, it's a very sleepy bear, and she and Niramo are able to slip away unharmed.


Mikoto Minagi, Niramo Umokeshi


Hokkaido Snowy Island

OOC - IC Date:

2018-11-27 - 2013-12-22

.*********************** Earth - Hokkaido Snowy Island ************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Hokkaido Snowy Island +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 Japan's northernmost island and largest prefecture, Hokkaido is
 traditionally known for its chilly climate, virgin forests, and association
 with Ainu culture. About the size of Ireland, this least-developed of
 Japan's four islands is a popular vacation spot. In the winter, it offers
 the country's best ski resorts and its famous Snow Festival, and in the
 hotter months it is a refuge from the heat, not to mention the sticky rainy
 season, which has no power in the cool mountain region.

 Travel to Hokkaido is effected by plane, ferry, or the lone tunnel that
 links to the main island of Honshu. The island possesses a variety of
 terrain; farmland, active volcanoes, coves, hot springs, and marshes are all
 abundant. Its only large city, Sapporo, is also its capital, but it is also
 home to few small cities, and a large number of scenic towns and villages.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Winter! It's Mikoto's very first winter away from home - and her first holiday, too! She's never been to a place like Hokkaido, but she's eager to spend time with the friends she has made here.

And also eat crabs. So many crabs. That's a very important life goal.

Right now, though, Mikoto has something more important than any of that. She has scaled a great beech tree in order to watch for... a new cat friend. School, after all, has taught her a great many new animals. There is a cat who lives in the snow, and she is convinced it must be here, on this island which is so snowy.

She has not yet realised that snow leopards do not exist in Japan in any way, shape, or form.

What does exist here...

It's big. Much larger than a cat, even the ones in the pictures at school. It looks a little bit like one of those cats, but the shoulders are all wrong, and the jaw is too long. The reason for the shape miss-match becomes clear when it rises up on all paws, going sniff-sniff-sniff. Oh, Mikoto thinks. This isn't a cat. This is a bear!

And then there's a beat... and another beat...

Oh, right, Mikoto thinks. Bears aren't usually very fond of people.

Could it be that instead of a cat island - this is a bear island?! For bears?!

(Obviously this is a bear island for bears, but Mikoto was sleeping through that part of the Hokkaido primer. Travel is tiring, after all.)

The bear sniff-sniffs and Mikoto sniff-sniffs and realises she is the most sniffable thing here, and so she thinks quickly and..! Grabs a handful of snow from the branch beside her, lumps it into a solid ball, and gives a powerful swing which arcs the snowball over the bear's head to land in the distance behind it, where it puffs in a little explosion of snow.

The bear makes a grumbly little noise and turns to start lumbering over towards that, instead.

Mikoto puffs out a sigh and leans back against the trunk of the tree, where Miroku's case is balanced behind her. A squirrel balances on a branch above her, nose twitching as it investigates the sudden movement, and Mikoto looks up at it. "Shock..."

Talking to squirrels is as weird as talking to cats, which is to say not at all weird.

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (7)] has posed.

Winter is here, and has been very firm on reminding all those that step outside that it is indeed that wonderful time of the year for snow, chilling temperature and warm mugs of triple hot chocolate to warm you back up. Niramo has only been on a trip to Hokkaido once before, when she was in her first year, but that was with family. Now she's here to spend time with friends both old and new, from Juuban and others that attend the Sister Schools.

(Crabs are certainly on the list of food to enjoy, but pales to the manna of the gods that is hot chocolate.)

However, events has conspired to preventing Niramo from enjoying the dark sweet liquid in the safety of the lodge. Saburai-sensei has been chosen as one of the teacher chaperones from Juuban, and it seems as if being forced to go on a school trip and help look after three school's worth of students has only worsen his normally cankerous attitude towards the student body. Namely, he was recruiting any and all students 'lazing about inside and wasting their no-good time' to help decorate their rooms to be more festive. And know just how popular she is with the Juuban mathematics teacher, Niramo had managed to evade capture at the last moment by retreating outside.

But with being outside and Wakatsuki-chan having been left behind to fend for herself in Niramo's haste, this has left the Juuban girl with no plans on what to do. She's rather rusty when it comes to skiing, and the idea of trying out ice skating for the first time by herself spelt a recipe for disaster.

This leaves Niramo huffing and puffing though a thick forest-green scarf and traversing the woods near the lodge in search for natural beauty. And the small clearing, with a beautiful, snow-frosted beech tree in the center is a sight to behold. But she's not the first one here, though it seems as if the massive brown bear slowly plowing through the snow on the other side of the clearing is just leaving.

"Whao..." Whispering to herself so as to not disturb the scene (and to not draw attention to her - were wild bears friendly?), Niramo starts to step forward slowly through the snow. Not something she expected to see when she fled from Saburai-sensei, but this? This was amazing. Maybe she could get a better look at the bear...

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Mikoto, of course, slipped out in the confusion, because there is nothing Mikoto does better than escaping supervision to go climb trees.

The bear lumbers off towards the snowball, curiously. It is, at least, not a hungry bear. Mikoto is quite sure she has gotten away with it - except...

... there's Niramo, plodding forward in the snow! Thinking quickly, Mikoto lobs another snowball over the bear's head, this one landing in the forest beyond the clearing. The name of the game is distracting that bear, and luckily, the bear seems to fall for it. The squirrel squeaks in protest at the sudden motion, and disappears back up into the furthest boughs of the tree. If it didn't like that, it'll hate the way Mikoto whispers: "Psst!" From her perch.

Grasping Miroku's strap, Mikoto slips off of her own branch, landing in the snow. Hopefully not right in front of Niramo, as she sometimes does, because this time she's trying not to startle her.

Mikoto straightens, shrugging her case onto her back, and goes to reach out for Niramo's hand. "Niramo," she says, eyes wide, "bear island."

The first question, naturally, is why Mikoto sounds so surprised to say it, when everyone knows Hokkaido is home to, just, so many bears.

The second question, why Mikoto tugs her hand to take her in the opposite direction to the bear who just wants to know what's going on with all this ambulatory snow, is probably directly answerable by the first one.

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (7)] has posed.

The majestic grizzly bear of these woods doesn't seem to notice or even care about the noise of crunching snow as Niramo cautiously makes her way towards the beech tree. Sure, the tree itself is beautiful, but this is the first time she has ever seen a bear that wasn't in a zoo enclosure! There were plenty of trees to look at later. "...is...is it a he? I never seen a bear this big before."

Well, there was a panda car controlled by a wicked man, but this bear was all natural. No magic or anything!

The 'piff' of a snowball making landfall further in the woods has Niramo freeze where she stood, wondering if perhaps that was some sort of another forest animal that lives out here. It wasn't really recognizable...maybe it was a bird call of sorts? The hissing sound universally known as someone trying to discreetly draw attention to themselves isn't one of nature, and Niramo has to crane her neck back up to see Mikoto starting to make her descent from the beechwood. She didn't even know the Ohtori girl was there...maybe she came here to see the bear as well?

(Niramo has long given up on questioning why Mikoto always seems to take to the trees whenever they spend time with one another. It's more of a matter of if any nearby tree looks like a Mikoto ambushing tree.)

It seems today Mikoto was giving a warning when she was about to land down from a tree, and so Niramo has time to tug down her scarf and smile at her friend. But the wide eyes on the expressive girl has the Juuban student pausing before saying anything, and before she even realizes it, Niramo is getting tugged away in the direction she just came from. Surprise has the short girl stumbling along for the first step, but she quickly keeps up the pace with Mikoto after the third.

And even if the hand-tugging isn't required now that Mikoto has her moving, Niramo's fine with letting the older girl take the lead.

"Mikoto-san, it's not all bears, you know. I mean, they're native here and everything, but you just don't see one moving along at this time of year. I thought they all hide away in caves and sleep the winter away." Besides, it's not like the bear was going to do anything bad. It was just taking a walk as well, and there's nothing wrong with that.

You might be able to take the city girl out of Tokyo, but she still lacks the common sense a country girl would have when faced with such a massive creature.

The pine trees, while not as big or spread apart as the beech tree was, still offered a clear view of the beautiful weather as the pair goes through the woods. The frigid air was crisp and smelt far cleaner than the air in Tokyo, that was certain. "Anyways, since we're both stuck out here for a little while..." A free hand reaches into a deep coat pocket, floundering around for a moment before pulling out a slightly-squished package of daifuku. "...we might as well have a snack to go with the good weather!"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

And so, Mikoto and Niramo go in one direction, and a lumbering bear goes in the other, and crisis is averted.

Once they're back in the forest, though, Niramo explains that the island isn't just for bears, and Mikoto pauses, looking back with big blinking eyes. "Sleep..?" Maybe that's why the bear seemed so casual. It was sleepy! She hums, looking up in thought. "... what woke bear up?"

It's an extremely valid question which Mikoto fully fails to focus on as Niramo brings up something much more important: food. She lights up in that characteristic fashion, smile broadening her cheeks and eyes wide and sparkling. "Daifuku!" She chirps, happily. Mikoto has always been able to be diverted with the promise of delicious food. It's just a universal constant.

Glancing about, Mikoto hops up on a low branch of a nearby beech, offering Niramo a hand up. "Come on!" She insists, eagerly. It's a good seat!

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (7)] has posed.

Not knowing just how close things were to becoming grizzly, literally, Niramo is just happy to find a friend out in the realative wilderness.

Niramo wasn't quite sure just how much Mikoto knows bears. She's certainly not one who speaks her mind often, but baggage-toating girl was a fountain of knowledge, even if that knowledge is considered pointless by institutes of academics. The prime napping spots, the names of all the cats Niramo comes across (all of them!), and how to pay attention to a person's body language.

That one is a big help with understanding Mikoto.

A frown crosses thin lips, and Niramo puts a finger on them. "Um...maybe hunger? Maybe it's trying to find a river for some fresh fish?" Huh, would there even be fish in rivers at this time of the year? They had to go somewhere, right?

Only after she is offering Daifuku to her equally vertically-challenged friend does Niramo realize her mistake. She really, really needs to learn not to offer food and ask a question at the same time. Only one thing is going to win out, and it's not the pursuit of knowledge. Laughing as Mikoto's eyes light up at the sight of the sweets, the Juuban girl follows Mikoto and, with a surprisingly strong grip, gets a seat on a tree branch.

It's...certainly different, but the view from just a few feet up gives a different perspective on things. Getting her balance, Niramo unwraps the daifuku and takes a few for herself before handing it over to Mikoto. And if Mikoto gets the larger half of the snacks, that perfectly fine!

Sure, it's cold and severely lacking in the hot chocolate department, but anywhere can be comfortable as long as you have friends to share it with.

"It's just...so quiet here." She finally says after finishing off one of the daifuku. "You never realize how loud it is back home until you get away from it..."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Perhaps the bear was hungry! Perhaps it had a bad dream! Perhaps it got caught up in a NEFARIOUS DARK PLOT to steal all the best nap spots from the bears. We'll never know.

The pursuit of food is, of course, essential to the pursuit of knowledge, because no one can learn anything on an empty stomach. Also, food is delicious, according to this empirical study Mikoto has conducted. Sure, her sample size is one, but...

She happily takes the rice snacks offered in her mittens, munching in contentment. She's no fan of the cold, but good snacks are good snacks, chilled or otherwise. Besides, she's bundled up good against the snow. Perhaps her roommate was concerned..?

Nomph-nomph-nomph, and then Niramo speaks up, and Mikoto opens her mouth to reply, realises she cannot possibly do so with sticky daifuku-filling gumming up her mouth, and takes the time to swallow. (People are trying to teach her manners, but, well...) She tilts her head, confusion scrunching up her features for a moment. "Niramo doesn't notice?"

It's such a foreign concept to her. Everything is loud in Tokyo. It's either loud in an abstract sense, when there's enough room around for the noises to bounce off of things, or loud in a very confronting sense when they're in small spaces and all the noises amplify each other. (Trains are, just, the worst.) Sure, she's gotten used to the noise, but that doesn't mean it isn't loud. What a strange concept, to think other people can just forget it's loud!

But even aside from Tokyo being loud, there's another aspect to what Niramo says which confuses her, and it's one she can actually speak on confidently.

"This's normal noise," Mikoto insists, with all the certainty of an expert. She hums in thought, and then points, with a hand freed from one of the daifuku which is now safely in her stomach, to a nearby tree. There's a songbird twittering there, perhaps easily overlooked in the rustle of the snow-laden branches. "Like birds. When stuff really gets quiet, means look out. 'Cause something's startled everyone."

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (7)] has posed.

Taking a smaller bite out of a second rice cake, Niramo wonders if there's some truth to how the atmosphere of where you eat can change the taste of the food. Yuhira-chan told about that before, how grilled tuna can taste so different when eaten at home compared to a hotel buffet. Niramo countered with how it must be the different cooks, and the quality of the fish, and several different little details that can change everything about a dish, but perhaps the fashion-obsessed teen has a point.

Maybe it's the cleaner air, the pure white snow covering the ground like a blanket or, yes, the near lack of sound around them that makes the cheap convenience store snack taste that much better. That, or maybe it just a better batch than usual.

Shaking her head and sending her short hair swishing with the movement, the Juuban girl looks over at Mikoto. "I mean...not until now, really. There's always cars going any which way, people talking, families laughing next door or the latest 'Top 10' song blaring out on a radio somewhere."

Having always lived in Tokyo for all her life, there was always something making noise no matter what time of day it was, making it feel like something exciting was happening even when it wasn't. Even when vacating outside of the great city, there's other travelers talking and having fun nearby. But now, in the woods and with it feeling like there was nothing around for miles...it was surprisingly a little scary.

It's just something you became used to, to the point that when it isn't there, the sound of silence itself is startling.

"Normal...noise?" The fact that something as calm, as collected as this was actually normal has Niramo blinking owlishly at Mikoto as if she had suddendly grown a second head that spoke Russian. The girl always carrying her burden motions towards a tree nearby, and Niramo only stares at it in confusion until the realization that a bird was tweeting cheerfully within the branches strikes her. Just how did Mikoto figure out where it was coming from so quickly?

The chirping doesn't seem to have a rhyme or reason to it at first, but after the hidden singer repeats its' tune several times does she only just start to realize that while it sounds similar each time, some notes were higher or lower each time. Niramo wouldn't even have listened for the songbird unless Mikoto had motioned to the tree in the first place.

Nodding her head in understanding, Niramo looks back down at her daifuku, thinking back to the clearing. "Maybe that's why it was so quiet when I was getting closer to the clearing. Do you think all the birds were spooked by the bear?" Tossing the rest of her nibbled rice snack into her mouth, she chews as she listens again to the songbird, though not focusing on the taste for once as she gives Mikoto's words some thought.

Mikoto Minagi is a clear reason why you shouldn't judge a book by its' cover. You're going to miss some wisdom without even realizing it.

Finally, Niramo conquers her snack and sends it to the dungeon that is her stomach, a smile peeking out from behind her lips. It's only ruined a little as her body shivers on top of the branch. "Maybe I should try going to a park doing the summer, for my birthday. I think I could get used to his."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

For Niramo, normal noise is a car horn blaring, a salaryman yelling in frustration as someone pauses in the middle of the pavement when he's already late getting coffee for his boss, a child babbling happily about a toy in the window of a shop to her parents, music playing through car windows, the swish of automatic doors opening and closing, a thousand-thousand footsteps echoing against the concrete.

For Mikoto, normal noise is the crunch of a fox's footprints on the ground, the sway of a branch as some creature alights upon it, crickets or cicadas or frogs throwing up a sunset chorus, birds twittering to let each other know precisely where they are and aren't welcome, bark being stripped from its trunk by a family of deer.

Being attuned to one makes it difficult to hear the other - but they're both complicated environments, full of many layered noises. And perhaps they're not as dissimilar as either girl would think. Get the bird a cup of coffee, have the young deer point out a doll instead of a branch it can't yet reach...

Well, that's why they call it an urban jungle, after all.

Mikoto nods, brightly, when Niramo asks about 'normal' noise, with an affirmative noise. And once she's done explaining, Niramo wonders, and Mikoto cants her head. "Bear's big," she supposes, and Niramo is spared the indignity of Mikoto pointing out that city girls are not very quiet in snowy wildernesses. "Everyone worries about someone else out here, but all worry about biggest ones." She doesn't have the words for 'apex predator', but she's certainly seen the effects of them.

She kicks her legs, gently, as she thinks, taking another bite of her rice ball as she does. Chew, chew, swallow... "oh! Like angry teacher! Don't wanna be noticed." Mikoto nods, firmly, confident in her airtight metaphor.

That metaphor, though, makes her realise something very important. "Niramo, need help sneaking back?" Mikoto's good at slipping in and out of places unnoticed, so of course her first instinct is to help her fellow fugitive escape negative consequences for her actions. Never mind that Niramo must have snuck out successfully, too, to be out here without a ruckus!

On the other hand, Mikoto's probably much better at navigating back to the ski lodge without getting turned around in this foresty place, so perhaps her offer isn't without merit. She's in no hurry to get back - first she'll finish her daifuku! - but once the cold gets too much to tolerate, she'll happily engage Operation: Slip By Unnoticed.

This is a sneaking mission, Niramo!