2018-12-01 - TIMELINE 1: Struggling To Communicate!

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Title: TIMELINE 1: Struggling To Communicate!

Mikoto happens upon Eas while investigating the bears of Hokkaido. Eas doesn't find that story very convincing. And so they fight - but Eas is willing to talk, in the end.


Mikoto Minagi, Eas


Hokkaido Snowy Island

OOC - IC Date:

2018-12-01 - 2018-12-23

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

As we have established, this is a bear island, for bears.

But Mikoto has been asking around the lodges, and she has learned that bears really aren't supposed to be awake during winter. No bears at all, in fact! It's part of their biology! (Which is a fancy science word to mean 'their nature'.) Responses to her concerns have ranged from the amused intellectualism of Infinity (doesn't she know about hibernation?), to the vague barbs of Ohtori (well of course she wouldn't know something like that...), to the cheerful comradery of Juuban (it's okay, they wanted to see bears too!). She has not bothered to tell anyone why she was asking.

It's a question which eats at her, and now, finally, she's slipped out from under the watchful eyes of her teachers again, as Midori chats animatedly about history of Hokkaido with a high-school student on the ski grounds. Mikoto unclips her boots from the skis - they're awkward slabs in the first place and they keep making her fall down and it's so unpleasant, it's like she doesn't even know how to move - and, well, it's difficult to make a quiet escape through the snow without snowshoes, but she at least manages to make a low-key exit.

If all the bears are supposed to be asleep, Mikoto thinks, why was a bear awake? Maybe it's nothing, but maybe it's something interesting.

In any case, it's not a question she's going to be able to answer by the resort. And so she tromp-tromps through the snow - it's hard, when she's so short, even the little snowdrifts seem like they're specially designed to mess with her, and the further she gets from the lodges the less paths there are for her to rely on - striking out on her own to find the answer.

It does not occur to her, as the sounds of skiing merriment are replaced by bird-trills and squirrel-skittering, that perhaps it is not a question she wants to answer on her own.

After all, they're just bears, and she has her sword...

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Snow, ice, rock. They're weird. This concept of worlds in 'nature' that aren't fully tamed by civilization is backward and strange enough, with their 'seasons', but this? The elevation is high, and it's not suited to human life at all. Nevertheless people come here for... fun?

Eas, as she stands, frowns down at her feet, pokes the snow with her heel experimentally. Walking in heels on the snow isn't ideal; her feet tend to sink in harder by each next step. There's a whole trail of footprints behind her for this reason as she stands in the snow, among... trees.

"Whatever," she mutters. "It's not like I could understand where she 'grew up' anyway." Eas shakes her head, starting to turn as she considers if the whole outing here was a waste of time anyway--

But Mikoto might see the movement there. On the side closest to the lodge, Eas is there, stepping out of the cover from a tree. She is in black leather as always, black with hints of too-pale red, with white hair and red eyes. Her attire hasn't changed at all for the cold, and she doesn't seem to notice or care about the temperature.

...But her eye settles on Mikoto as she notices her.

"You," Eas answers, wary, harsh. "...None of you can leave well enough alone, can you?"

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

Some of those animal calls - they almost sound like people. Twitter-trill. Twee-twee-twee. Skrrk. 'Wh..tev...' Tut-tut. Yip!

It takes a moment for Mikoto's brain to go back and realise that one of those sounds doesn't quite fit with the others, taking it on faith as she is that she is in nature and no one is out here having a conversation. But it catches on at the tail end, catches 'anyway,' and she glances back just in time to see black leather.

Oh, she thinks.

That's a problem.

But though Mikoto's golden eyes narrow to see Eas's red, and she turns to face her (tromp-tromp go boots in snow too high), there's something which gives her pause. There's no Nakewameke, here. There's usually one of those... so why is she alone?

... maybe...

"Just worried about bears," Mikoto tries to explain herself, in her clipped manner, and though her tone is neutral it is not overly unfriendly. She does not stare at the other girl; she focuses her gaze somewhere around the high collar by her shoulder, instead. "Eas know why they're awake?" Not 'what did you do to them', but 'do you know what happened'. It's a subtle and important distinction.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Eas wasn't expecting anyone out here; so far as she knows, the students aren't encouraged to go this far from the lodge alone, and she'd hear most coming... But Mikoto isn't most people; a cat's grace wins out over someone barely paying attention easily, and now, Mikoto can see the red accents that indicate this girl is Eas.

There's no monster here, no; there's not even the red data diamond that Eas would be using to create one. And the answer Mikoto gives...

Eas frowns sharply. "Bears?" she asks. "That's a ridiculous excuse. No, I don't know why they're awake. I don't keep track of your stupid human 'animals' enough to care."

"...It doesn't matter. How long until your little friends arrive? I don't know how you found me here, but don't imagine you're going to stop me."

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

Mikoto can't be silent in snow, not without snowshoes, but she can certainly make herself sound like some other creature instead of a lumbering human. She doesn't really think about it; it's just a fun little game to her. Unfortunately, it's a game which has led her to surprise Eas.

But there are no monsters here.

Eas snaps at her, and Mikoto frowns, humming frustration. But she doesn't sound like she's lying, and if she doesn't care, that probably means she didn't do it, even if she doesn't like her much. "Not excuse... but okay, Eas didn't do it." It's a wary enough olive branch, but one offered nonetheless.

Unfortunately, there's something else Eas is trying to do. Mikoto's gaze flicks up to scan her face, concern and confusion written on hers. "I'm -" - uncertainty curves up her brow briefly, and she frowns, glancing away in a way entirely unlike her gesture of friendship before. This is not reassurance; this is vulnerability. She has a decision to make, and she has to make it quickly.

The corner of her mouth scrunches up, and finally she returns her gaze to Eas. She's never been very good at talking to the girls who are doing bad things, but Mai tells her she should be kind, and she shouldn't fight so fiercely. What if she can do something? She recognises Eas's fierceness, after all. "I'm alone. No one's here to see." She does not realise it sounds like a threat, to someone who might recognise her ferocity just as well. "So - so tell me what Eas's doing."

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

A terrible game! ...Well, if it weren't one thing it might be another--Those who actually get to talk with Eas tend to find sooner or later how quick to anger she can be. So as Mikoto hums, as she suggests Eas didn't do... whatever it was...

There was a lie in there, though. Maybe she wasn't lying about the thing Mikoto saw, but she does know a little about bears--largely because Inori Yamabuki had a lot to say about them one day in Eas's presence, when she was disguised, and like it or not she retained a good amount. This, of ourse, only makes her more defensive, not less.

Concern; confusion; something unpleasant, a frown, seems to Eas to be setting this conversation into a mode that makes a lot more sense. "So that's how it is," Eas responds, standing up a little straighter, lifting her chin and looking down at Mikoto as if thinking, deciding something. "You come alone so that you don't have to worry about one of the soft ones getting in the way. ...I can understand that. It's bolder than the most of you. ...With a weapon like yours, you must find other fighters annoying to move around."

"But it's not going to be that easy. Haah--" Eas takes a step back into what's obviously a combat stance, and there's an invisible shockwave--a feeling of being mired, dragged down, as the oppressive darkness Eas carries exudes outward like an aura.

Then she suddenly shifts and slams her first downward, hitting a knee before the snow between them rushes upward from the force of Eas's strike.

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

Eas says she understands, but there's something in the way she straightens that sets Mikoto's hackles up. It's an instinct well-served as she goes on to say just what she understands, and the smaller girl's face twists in frustration and alarm. "No!" Mikoto barks, taking a half-step back. "I'm not-!!"

... trying to be threatening.

Maybe it's true that it's hard to move around her allies sometimes, but she didn't come here to fight Eas! She just wanted to talk, she just --

But Eas tells her it won't be so easy, and Mikoto knows it's pointless for her to try. Maybe someone like Sailor Moon or Madoka could have gotten through to her, but Mikoto's never been good with her words. Her case swings about, she draws her blade - her moments trying to convince Eas of her good-will have cost her. She is caught in Eas's dark gravity-well before she can leap away.

Perhaps it's a metaphor.

The snow parts like a great inland sea, and as a tidal wave it catches Mikoto and flings her back. She lands in a drift which consumes her, a little dark dot collapsing into white. She coughs from the impact. There is snow in her mouth and it is the most terrible thing because snow is cold.

There's a moment ticking by, one, two...

... but Eas must know by now that Mikoto is harder to put down than that. She can be made to retreat eventually, but she's remarkably stubborn. The drift explodes out as a furious bullet of a girl charges forward, blade kicking up a snowstorm behind her as it drags along. "Didn't WANT THIS!" She yells, furious, as she brings it about in revolution.

It's the flat of the blade, still, as if she still can't bring herself to harm a real girl. What a shame, when Miroku's edge has carved through Nakewameke so cleanly.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Eas isn't listening by the time Mikoto makes her denial--but then, she wasn't really listening in the first place. Stopping to talk, stopping to hesitate... They're all signs of weakness, and she isn't about to show them to her enemy and let her go tell the others.

The fact that she didn't really want to fight either just makes her angrier about it.

Maybe Eas could've struck straight for Mikoto--but she didn't. Using the terrain instead to take her opponent off-balance, Eas uses her extra time to ready herself, to gather up her energy. When Mikoto lands backward, Eas adopts her stance again, waiting. ...That wouldn't be enough to take down most, would it?

"Want, want," Eas snaps back at Mikoto, staring down the coming storm. The sword swings towards her, flat--and Eas notices the flat.

She throws out her forearm, the limb making an 'L' with elbow bent as she blocks the great obsidian blade outright, a crack sounding through the air as dark obsidian meets a different kind of dark entirely. "You humans are always talking about what you want and then acting in ways that won't get it for you! You don't make sense!" Eas slips to the side then, wary of an immediate continuation of the attack, and then drops, leg sweeping out to try to trip up her opponent outright.

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

That's the frustrating thing, isn't it? They never listen, even when it's so hard to talk. Mikoto tries her best, because everyone around her provides the best model she could have for how to make things better. It doesn't make it easy.

She didn't want to fight...

... but Mikoto's still fighting.

Eas snaps back - and it seems to Mikoto quite plain she's mocking the way she talks, instead of expressing her own frustration. Obsidian meets arm, and the great slab is angled wrong to cut, a measure Eas is right to consider deliberate. She presses in, instead, straining force against force to try and knock the Labyrinth girl over.

But - she doesn't make sense?

"I make sense!" It's an almost nonsensical accusation, to someone who is plain and honest about her desires, and the confusion written on those sharp eyes provides ample opportunity for Eas to slip aside. Mikoto hisses in a breath, and twists in a side-step to catch her with her blade, hoping to use her own momentum to bowl her into the snow.

Unfortunately, Eas isn't there when her sword passes over her. She's lower - low enough to sweep through the snow with a heel entirely impractical for the weather. Mikoto's eyes widen as she finds gravity plays favourites, and she falls backwards into the snow.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

They're always droning on about things Eas hasn't experienced--has maybe just seen, at best--and Eas isn't about to let it be obvious when she doesn't know something. That's not a weakness she plans to show off.

Mikoto doesn't move to cut with that sword of hers, no; in the moment of contact, Eas can wonder why she's holding back if her whole plan was to get her alone.

"No you don't!" Eas retorts, and her voice comes from lower; she's beneath a powerful swing, and when Mikoto falls, Eas rises back up again. She glares down for an instant. "You say you didn't want this, but you made a point of sneaking up on me and pointing out we were alone. You all claim that you want these nice things, but--"

Eas's foot rises, her leg sweeping upward until her heel is above her head--and then slams down, meant to catch Mikoto straight in the stomach while she's down, because fairness is for suckers. "I know better!"

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

Why is Mikoto holding back?

What a complicated question.

Enemies must be defeated, after all...

... but there are lots of ways to defeat someone, and Eas isn't a monster.

And time - after time - after time - the shining girls of Tokyo have demonstrated that there is nuance to a fight. There has never been a call to brutal violence against their own. It's not how they do things here, and Mikoto is an attentive learner.

But she is, after all, still just learning...

Eas glares down, and Mikoto glares up, defiant and not a little angry on her own part. "Wasn't sneaking!" She snaps, in her defence. "Just wanted to--"

In an instant her eyes widen, and she throws herself aside instead of finishing her sentence. Snow blows up beside her, disrupted by the force of a heel which might as well have been a stiletto in that moment; she is not quite fast enough to avoid its pointed toe, which drags as it catches the edge of her ribs in her roll.

For a single moment Mikoto curls in on herself, the pain writ in the grit of her teeth and the flare of her nostrils. But with a strangled gasp she forces herself to move, planting a hand in the snow and pushing herself up. Swiping her sword out on reflex to keep Eas from closing in again, she leaps away; she staggers on the landing.

"I didn't --" she coughs, chokes out the words. "-- come here to hurt Eas..."

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Some might disagree. Eas might not appreciate being considered so lightly. ...But then, it's true that Eas herself causes mayhem but not, as a rule, fatal troubles. There's no reason to do anything drastic; Mobius-sama plans to conquer, not destroy, and so of course that's how she should act. And yet...

Mikoto says she wasn't sneaking. Eas rolls her eyes in the way that only a teenage girl can, the sheer derision and disbelief in the motion itself palpable.

Her kick lands hard enough that Eas drops down lightly as a result, shifting her foot back to stand up again properly with hands up, prepared to strike out, to block, to handle the next part of the battle. It should be more of a rhythm, frankly, but the other girl isn't going on as much offensive as she'd expect. Still, Mikoto gets the moment to curl, then the movement--the sword hacks empty air between them, and Eas begins circling, looking for her opening.

...Her expression, though, becomes skeptical as Mikoto coughs. The Executive looks her up and down, frowning. "...I almost believe you," she says, dour. "Let's say I believe you. Why else are you out away from everyone else, past where the others aren't allowed to go?"

...It's obviously not weird that she'd know where students aren't allowed to end up. Right?

...Not even slightly unusual is the fact that she remains wary, on guard. ...But she doesn't strike again yet.

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

Eas circles, and Mikoto turns to face her where she steps. She doesn't take her eyes off of her, sharp and assessing and - behind all that - frustrated. Everyone makes it look so easy, just talking to them. It's not easy.

It's obviously not weird that Eas would know something like that; in any case Mikoto hardly thinks to question it. There's actually a flash of brief surprise, as if it hadn't occurred to her that someone might care she's breaking the rules. As someone who comes and goes as she pleases, she's used to the people around her being used to it by now.

"Told Eas already," Mikoto says, and to her credit she does not strike out, either. "Bear's acting weird. Got worried, so I came to find if something's wrong." On her own, though she has so many friends. "Nothing to do with Eas!"

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Frustration is like anger, so it's good enough for Eas to read in an enemy. Despite her time on Earth so far, reading emotions is not her strongest suit; it requires a certain amount of empathy or detachment that in either case is not... her strongest suit. Sometimes she can, sometimes she can't.

Surprise--but surprise at what? Eas keeps herself ready for the likely outcome that this entire thing is a trick. Humans lie all the time, even to themselves--not like the superior denizens of Labyrinth.

"...Bears," she repeats, dully, her red eyes still on Mikoto. She's still frowning, but she lets herself glance about the area just a little. Briefly. "What, are you some kind of trainee veterinarian or something?" Eas remains wary. "Why are your bears your concern? They're probably sleeping or whatever anyway. In their... caves, or whatever you humans call them."

She frowns harder, starts to rise. "Whatever, bears are weird. Who cares? If you weren't here for me, fine. Just tell your friends that if anybody does come, they'll regret it. You saw."

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

"No, that's 'Buki!" Mikoto insists, to Eas's question. Perhaps entirely so she can demonstrate that she knows what 'veterinarian' means. She realises as she says it that she really could have asked Inori for help with this. Oh.

Well, she's still learning.

And all the students were so dismissive when she asked.

Maybe there was a little pride involved in the way she struck out on her own, after all.

But Eas dismisses the train of thought with the summation that bears are weird, and Mikoto takes a step back as she rises, to signal her own deescalation. "But... I don't get it," she says, an edge of sadness in her wary tone. "What's Eas doing that Eas doesn't want anyone to see?"

Mikoto hadn't really been paying attention - but it hadn't sounded like Eas was doing anything particularly heinous before she noticed her...

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

"There can be more than one!" Eas snaps back, irritated and... something else that she can't entirely identify. She crosses her arms, dropping out of her combat stance to scowl in the vague direction of the snow. "Who else worries about bears? And who lives in cold like this anyway?"

Pride? Eas wouldn't know anything about--Oh of course she would. Still, when Mikoto steps back it seems good enough for the moment, though Eas certainly doesn't so much as breathe a hint of apology. Obviously.

"What?" She asks, and scowls harder, looking up and then glaring. "I wasn't--I wasn't doing anything," she answers sharply. "What, like there's anything I'd care about in this stupid place? It's just a bunch of rocks and junk and weirdo white... whatever!"

Eas rolls her eyes, gestures dismissively at the whole thing. "I was scouting, that's all. And I don't like being bothered. And there aren't even any bears here!"

"I don't have to put up with this."

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

Mikoto grimaces, because as much as she might not like Eas, she cannot deny that Eas is entirely right on this one specific point. "I dunno," she says, nose all crinkled up as if to protest the chill. "Cold's bad. Not good home."

But Eas wasn't doing anything, she insists, and there's suspicion in her eyes until the Labyrinth girl goes on to say she was just scouting. That makes sense. And maybe it's something she should stop, but... Mikoto knows she can't face up to Eas alone, at least not without doing real damage. And if she did that, Mai would be sad.

Besides, the pain in her side is a distinct reminder that one of them isn't holding anything back. The fact is, even if she fought without reservation from here on, she'd still lose, because Eas has already pressed her advantage. It's knowledge she can't get away from. She can't just dismiss her read of the battle because it's inconvenient.

"Didn't mean to," she offers, on bothering her, after a moment's pause. "I'll leave Eas alone." Mikoto takes a step back, another. She presses her lips together, hums uncertainty through them, and adds: "... lodge is warm."

Maybe it's an invitation, or maybe it's just a statement of fact. It doesn't sound like mockery, but...

Either way, her legs bend, and she leaps to gain distance from the other girl.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

"Huh," Eas answers, appraisingly. "I guess some of you can be right some of the time. At least you see it." That's the closest to a compliment she's likely to give in these circumstances, of course. The closest to anything like it. ...But Eas can see the point at which Mikoto seems to... change her demeanor, a little, and she thinks maybe it's that she realizes who's winning here.

It's her, obviously. LIke it should be.

"...Hm," the Executive answers, looking over Mikoto as she steps back; she makes no move to pursue her. Mikoto mentions that the lodge is warm...

"All right then," she answers. "..."

"...I mean maybe it's a little nice to look at, I guess," the girl from Labyrinth mutters as she looks back around the clearing, and considers Mikoto's retreating form.

Eas turns towards the trees. "...Whatever. Bears. ...I should probably check just to make sure I don't get surprised by something weird," she says to no one in particular, "...It's not like that means I care or something." Eas disappears into the trees, stepping quietly.