2018-12-23 - TIMELINE 1: How To Approach Executives: A Feline Perspective

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Title: TIMELINE 1: How To Approach Executives: A Feline Perspective

Mikoto finds Eas and talks to her after their battle. Eas manages to ask a question about a personal issue which has been bothering her for some time. They eat donuts!


Mikoto Minagi, Eas


Shitamachi Low City - Akihabara Electric Town

OOC - IC Date:

2018-12-23 - 2014-08-07

.**************************** Shitamachi Low City *****************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Akihabara Electric Town +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 Brave Akihabara, holy land of nerds, Akihabara of the cartoony signs and
 gumball-machine colors. One can buy anything in Akihabara, as long as it is
 computer gear, electronics or anime merchandise. The main strip is the
 glitziest, with a large percentage of the visible building faces covered in
 electronic signs, huge posters, or garish paint jobs, and there one can
 purchase coveted new items at (or just a hair before) their street dates.
 The streets to either side are home to a messier brand of store, where one
 can, with a little luck and persistence, find used goods like that rare
 out-of-print first edition Sailor V figurine or vanity press Pretty Cure
 doujinshi. These smaller stores compete ferociously for space, and can be
 found crammed into alleyways and spilling out onto sidewalks as well as in
 more standard configuration.

 Those whose tastes run more to programming than fandom can find the area,
 also known as Akihabara Electric Town, quite rewarding as well. It's the
 perfect place to shop for computer parts and other gadgets for projects both
 personal and paranormal, with the venue ranging from a posh cutting-edge
 robotics store on the main strip, to tiny stalls wedged into alleys that
 sell high-grade electronics on the cheap. The latter category manage this
 feat of thrift by selling unpackaged items taken from wholesale lots, and
 piled up for display like supermarket apples.

 It's relatively safe to be seen wearing unusual clothing here; it's likely
 to be taken for cosplay, or the uniform of one of the diversely themed maid
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The defeat of a Nakewameke, like any youma, is something possessed of light and magic; lovebeams and courageous blades. When Eas set out to terrorise the devotees of Akihabara, with a monster made of mechanical trinkets, she found a group effort pushing her back. The Covenant of Style is hardly willing to stand by and let her mock their technology..!

But there's something to the increased desperation of Labyrinth, the way they have stepped up their attempts to bring despair to the world, which Mikoto cannot help but notice. Perhaps Summer is just something which attracts monsters -- but the Executives are not mindless beasts. There is something which is pushing them to these limits.

For this reason, Mikoto does not stick around after the battle, to check on her allies and perhaps go out for well-deserved ice cream. She's gone almost as soon as the enemy is.

Her blade is sheathed; Eas has already been defeated. She needs her hands free in any case to grasp the signage and the windowsills, as she leaps from building to building in determined search. It is difficult to find a girl after the battle, because the nature of the masquerade means each one of them is excellent at blending in; it would be impossible if she elected to release her magic and take advantage of inhibition.

But Mikoto has a sense that Eas would not elect to become a normal girl - if she even can; this has always been a point of some confusion, with the denizens of Dark Fall. She thinks that Eas, surrounded by enemies, would want to be battle-ready even if she cannot fight any more. It's a very natural sort of thought which she does not question at all.

It means she has a chance, however slim, to sniff her out amongst Akihabara's side-streets. She has run into Eas enough by now to be familiar with the way she smells, leather and sterility and a hint of fake strawberries; she has at least learned enough by now not to comment on it. (Mai was insistent that it was rude, which struck Mikoto as a little strange, but she has no reason not to trust Mai on matters of socialisation.) Unfortunately, all those things - even the strawberries, thanks to a particularly cute maid cafe - aren't unfamiliar to the electric town, which makes things a little more complicated.

A sensible girl might give up after the first dead-end... but Mikoto happens to be very good at never giving up on her search.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

It is stupid technology though--Eas was very clear about that. Backwards and primitive, barely even useful. Obviously they're so backwards because they don't understand how to run a world...

But there is something different. The tension in Eas's voice was more obvious than usual. She's always a little grouchy in these fights, when she isn't being smug, but her fuse has gotten even shorter. She's gotten mean, even more than usual.

But at the end of the battle, as her monster dissipates, Eas disappears. ...But it's just trickery; she can't actually teleport, unlike some Generals. So instead she's simply left in the confusion...

The path that Eas has taken is circuituous; only Mikoto's heightened sense make it possible to follow, because Eas has leapt from roof to roof, making her way past alleys, and then down into the side streets. Whether or not it's possible for her to change...

She certainly hasn't yet. When Mikoto makes it, it's after many dead ends, a search that would've taken someone bigger and less scrappy much longer. But Mikoto drops into an alley, and sees Eas, facing away. ...Eas, uninjured from the battle in which she didn't need to participate. But she turns, the black of her outfit faintly gleaming in reflected sunlight for an instant--

And scowls. But it's Mikoto, the same girl who bothered her back on the trip...

So Eas doesn't attack her immediately this time. Instead she just keeps scowling. "What do you want? The system has to recharge before there's another Nakewameke for you to try to stop. Is there a reason you're bothering me?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto doesn't know much about running worlds, but she's very good at absorbing the emotions of the people around her like a sponge, and so she's a little more clever when it comes to Eas's own feelings.

Eas has left a rooftop trail and most girls would find it impossible to follow, without their vestments about them. Unfortunately, Mikoto is a little more acrobatic than her peers, and it's not so difficult to follow. She can fit through the tight squeezes and hop up onto the precarious ledges, with all the fearlessness taught to her by her feline friends.

And finally: here is Eas. Still dangerous, certainly; Mikoto knows firsthand that the Executive can fight on her own terms as well as sending out her monsters to do the dirty work. But Mikoto's hands are empty, held at her sides as she straightens from where she's leapt into the alley, and she turns them so her palms are visible, a deliberate effort to communicate that she is not here to fight.

She doesn't approach too close, either - just to comfortable speaking distance. Eas asks what she wants, and in the question reveals her agitation. "I wanna talk," she says, plain as she always is. (It is at once very easy and very difficult to manipulate Mikoto in the field of battle, because she is too forthright to be taken in by subtleties, but also too honest to hide the damage which strikes true.)

Mikoto lets the statement sit for a moment - perhaps it is also a request. But she carries on: "Eas is fighting lots more. You all are. Did something happen?" Eas is an enemy and so her tone is more cool and even than outright concerned, but certainly it is not calculating, in the way one might expect a foe to press in on their problems.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Eas has plenty of emotions, and one of those is the emotion of punching anyone in the face who tries to tell her that she has emotions. ...She at least doesn't mostly claim not to have any at all, anymore, but she does ostensibly claim not to be ruled by them like the Earthling plebs. But...

Here she is, and Mikoto can spot it easily--it's not rage, not really, and it's not fear, and it's not the anxiety of being defeated it's just... annoyance. Eas has very little body language, but there's enough projected--she wants people to read her as irritated, after all--that Mikoto, with long experience, can tell. Her arms are crossed, her shoulders are straight, but her breathing isn't fast, her blood isn't pumping hard with exertion or emotion.

...And Mikoto's hands are up, and even Eas knows what that means. So, she watches her for a moment. "Yeah," Eas answers, and then says, "So talk." At least she answers, right?

But when Mikoto asks... Eas was already scowling so it doesn't really make much of a difference that she keeps glaring a little. She remains quiet for the moment instead. Then, "...You talk too much," Eas says, because she has no sense of irony whatsoever.

"...Eh, whatever," she allows, shaking her head and leaning against a nearby wall with a turn. "It doesn't matter if I tell you. This makes us even for before." She lets that hang a little, "We've been at this for a while. Mobius-sama wants the Fuko Gauge filled sooner than later. If you'd just get out of our way, we'd finish with it and then none of you would have to fight anymore. ...But, whatever, I know you're not going to do that."

That is... an answer, but it doesn't have the charge to the words that suggests it's everything. "Anyway other than that you losers have just been getting on my nerves, that's all."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Of all the things Mikoto was expecting to hear in the wake of what she says, that accusation did not number amongst them. She blinks in blank confusion for a moment, before fixing Eas with a skeptical look which says far more than any query could.

But Eas concedes to talk, and Mikoto nods as she supposes it evens the scoreboard. She's used to this sort of back-and-forth - no give without take; it makes perfect sense to her that it's a way for Eas to be able to help without feeling too threatened. She listens as Eas explains, without interrupting.

With a thoughtful noise, Mikoto considers it. Eas has to fill the Fuko Gauge quickly. The 'or else' is implied but seems perfectly obvious to her; it wasn't so long ago that they helped Fate away from her mother, after all, and so Mikoto has seen what passes for job security in Dark Fall.

"Yeah," she agrees, after a moment. They can't let Labyrinth achieve their goals; the time has long since passed that any of them could be convinced Mobius's world is superior to their own.

(It's a very simple question, to Mikoto. She just looks at how unhappy Eas is, and knows her home can't be very nice.)

She doesn't dwell on that sticking-point, though; it never goes anywhere. Perhaps other girls might try and convince Eas that her goals are ill-considered, but Mikoto knows that she is not very good at words, and also that Eas's devotion is not something she can inexpertly dismantle. She leaves the impassioned speeches to the Sailor Moons and Madokas of the world; Mikoto has a different way of approaching her enemies.

Instead she tilts her head as she settles on the other thing she has shared. "Stressed," she supposes, without much judgement about it.

There's something there which Mikoto doesn't press on - the fact that she can't have gotten so annoyed at everyone if she hadn't spent more time around them recently. After all, strawberries aren't really a Labyrinth sort of smell.

"... offer's still open," she shrugs a shoulder, not bothering to specify what that offer is. "Like Eas said, can't make another Nakewameke yet, right? So it doesn't matter if Eas eats." Oh. That's what the offer was. For all her spontaneity, there are some things Mikoto is terribly predictable about.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Eas stands behind her ridiculous statement. Look or not.

She sees no harm in explaining something that she shouts about every time she brings out a monster--and fighting Mikoto right now would be a waste of her energy, wouldn't even collect Misery Energy. Right? Of course right.

The unspoken 'or else' is something that she lets be for the moment; it's not necessary, and it's not something she's dwelling on in precisely the same way that someone might expect. But...

Of course Mikoto won't just let them work. Not a surprise, not a fight Eas cares to bother with.

...So when Mikoto, once again, doesn't try to convince her to throw away her plans, then that's all well and good. Eas doesn't expect it out of this girl at this point. 'Stressed', Mikoto suggests, and Eas shrugs. "I guess you could put it that way. Nothing I can't handle, obviously. I'm one of Mobius-sama's chosen Executives after all."

A beat, as Eas doesn't pick up on what Mikoto doesn't say. Instead she mentions the offer... Eas glances at Mikoto, lifting her eyebrow and considering her. "...Guess I'd be eating something anyway, that's true." She considers, "But it's not like I can walk up to one of your food stands without scaring a bunch of you skittish humans." On account of being a Dark General, and all.

...Unless she disguised herself, of course. But then, well...

"But it's at least not worth the effort to fight you and that sword of yours right now."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Of course - one of the chosen. There are a lot of things Mikoto can understand startlingly well about people like Eas, though she doesn't care to examine why she can comprehend their point of view so well. As she has come to try and help them more often, she has found the best results when she doesn't try to act like her friends, but instead follows her own intuition. Things got a lot less frustrating when she realised that she has her own way of helping.

"Eas is tough," she supposes, on the topic of her stress, and it's a literal as well as metaphorical statement. After all, Eas has stood being slammed into with the flat of Miroku enough times to prove she doesn't fall down easily.

Eas makes her considerations and declares in utter magnanimity that she will not destroy her. Not fighting is as close as the two of them get to affection - Eas is too irate and Mikoto too frosty around their enemies to get much further. But within the bounds of their method of communication, it's an easy way for Mikoto to tell that Eas's snappishness hasn't reached a boiling point of annoyance yet.

She nods, with an affirmative noise. "I'm too tired to fight more," she offers in agreement, and it is an olive branch on two fronts: acknowledging that Eas's Nakewameke was strong enough to wear her down, and confirming that she has no intention of turning this into a fight, either.

But there are many ways in which talking to Eas resembles talking to one of her skittish stray friends, and Mikoto wouldn't ask one of those cats to come to a ramen stand with her, either. "No," she says, with all the tone of 'of course not', "I was gonna bring Eas something." Because, in fact, the trick is to bring the snack to the cat.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

It's... Pretty close to actual affection, frankly. If Mikoto knew the disguise Eas wears, it might make sense. But Eas isn't planning on revealing that for now. ...Neither is she going to comment on the fact that Mikoto is different and thus is able to parley with her in a way that most simply can't.

"That's right," Eas answers about being tough. "...And you're not as weak as most Earth girls." This is the closest to a compliment Eas is going to offer, and it's delivered not quite grudgingly but with a teenager's tone. She is... Well, she's younger than Mikoto, frankly. But even so.

When Mikoto answers though, Eas even accepts the tone, considering Mikoto's very logical suggestion. It obeys all the reasoning she has laid out; it fits within the framework she's already deemed acceptable. And so, very much like a cat...

"Sure," Eas allows then. "But it's dirty down here. That roof--" Eas points up to one bordering the alley--"Is secluded enough that nobody'll bother us."

It seems that Mikoto's succeeded. Eas, when she's delivered her verdict, pushes off of the wall, nods at Mikoto, and casually bends at the knee to leap upward--and walk a little forward.

The edge makes a good enough bench as anything. ...She didn't give any suggestions on what to eat.

But that's probably fine.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

It's for the best; Mikoto would just be confused by those comments, after all.

Less confusing is the comment Eas does choose to make; Mikoto nods and does not make a fuss over it, but privately thinks it's a vast improvement over the insults she used to hear. ... she still hears a lot of those, of course. Mikoto is one of those humans Eas keeps disparaging.

But fortunately - or unfortunately - Mikoto goes to Ohtori, and has long since learned how to filter out unkind words. They're just words, so they're harmless.

"'Kay," she nods, as Eas suggests the roof. She raises no complaint about getting up there, but then, Eas has seen her acrobatics more than enough to know that it's no object by now.

And she turns and leaves the alleyway...

... with no idea what Eas wants to eat.

But this isn't the first time Mikoto has approached Eas without intention to fight her; while of course they fight a lot, she does make the effort to reach out, in her own way. She still remembers the time she came across Eas eating donuts, insisting she'd taken them from Westar, as if being spoils of war meant it was perfectly acceptable for her to have them on hand.

Mikoto is not very good at some things, but Mikoto is very familiar with how people act around food they like, because Mikoto is very good at things she has personal experience with.

For this reason, the answer to the cat-snack question is plain as day.


It's not too long before Mikoto appears on the rooftop, leaping over from a nearby awning, as if she didn't need to think too much about what she was fetching. Two bags swing from where they have been hooked over an arm, and she approaches long enough to hand one over to Eas without commentary before she steps away.

The contents of this bag, of course, are a box of donuts. Some are iced, some are cinnamon, and they smell fresh.

Mikoto got herself some, too, of course, in the other bag, and she grabs one and munches on it as if to demonstrate to Eas that they are perfectly normal donuts.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Humans. Eas sure looks like one herself, more or less... But a lot of Generals do. It's definitely been established though--from being in close combat with her--that she is much colder to the touch than an ordinary human should be. ....Which might be why she can put up with leather and fur in Tokyo summer.

Eas, for her part, assumes that Mikoto can easily make the leap up, even without drawing on her magic. She's seen her do it often enough. But indeed she doesn't so much as suggest a dish, doesn't mention anything she's in the mood for...

But Mikoto is smart.

When she shows up, Eas turns her way, looking her over and spotting the bag quickly enough. When Mikoto offers it, she opens it up, and sees--

Her red eyes widen very slightly--and for an instant, she isn't scowling. She looks positively neutral, not angry at all. "...This is fine," she says, and it means of course that Mikoto made the right pick because she proceeds to set the bag in her lap, open it up, and take a donut in both hands and--

Nomph. Bite right from the top.

She doesn't even prompt a question or offer an insult. ...Donut. Donut is happening.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Eas runs cold, and Mikoto runs hot. But then, Mikoto is a normal human, so there must be some mundane explanation for why she's warmer than some of the other girls in Tokyo.


Mikoto presents the food and Eas isn't acting angry for a moment, and she says the food is fine, and that means that she's happy with it. Mikoto sits herself down nearby, laying her sword-case on the shingles beside her. It's on the side further away from Eas.

She chews on her own donut, and Mikoto is a startlingly honest girl. For all she's guarded around her foes, right now she is eating a delicious snack, and so all her chill assessment goes out the window in favour of a perfectly content expression. She enjoys food! She enjoys this food! It's delicious!

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Surely, there is some explanation.

But Mikoto has successfully read Eas, and is wise enough not to tell Eas that this is the case, and so for a few moments they sit in near-silence like the cats that they are. Obviously Mikoto has her weapon present, but she does not draw it, just as Eas does not adopt a ready stance to get punching.

...And for the span of eating her donut, Eas actually allows herself to enjoy something a little. She goes less grumpy. For now. And then... she finishes it. And she considers, glancing at Mikoto.

"Is that really what you wanted to ask? Just why we're out working more? I know you all are because you're not at school because this world has all these breaks built in. It's weird. You're just going to forget everything you were working on and have to build back up your habits again."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Chew, chew, swallow. It's a good donut. Mikoto blinks as she looks back over to Eas, in the wake of her question. Eas says more than she means to say and perhaps someone else might have picked up on it, but Mikoto just thinks it's perfectly sensible for Eas to know her enemy's movements.

Look, neither of them are very good at this.

"Yeah," she says, more casually now she is in the middle of snack time. "Knowing why's important. Lots of reasons to fight more. Why not ask? Better than assuming." She doesn't quite get as far as saying that she was worried Eas was in trouble, let alone that her worries have not really been assuaged.

She cants her head as she looks up at the passing clouds. "And if I asked why Eas was more angry it'd just make Eas mad. Then we'd have to fight and Mai would get worried 'cause I was hurt again." Mikoto does tend to try not to strike lethally after so many lessons from her friends, which puts her at a clear disadvantage to someone determined to win. It's a notable omission in her strength, compared to how she lays into Eas's Nakewameke.

It's a startlingly honest assessment, perhaps unwisely so, but Mikoto isn't known for her social graces.

She does scrunch up the corner of her mouth, though, as she glances back to the other girl. "... Eas really worried about that? Learn something right, and it don't go away just 'cause you don't do it all the time. Habits are hard to make and stop. Don't go away that easy." Mikoto mixes up the phrase of 'breaking a habit', but the basic meaning is still there.

Of course, Mikoto isn't really thinking of schoolwork at all as she says it. Naturally, she'll have forgotten everything her teachers at Ohtori tried to drill into her head as soon as she gets back into class. But then, Mikoto has never been the most diligent student... at least since she came here.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

They are good donuts. They are not, of course, the highly specific donuts from a certain stand... But Eas is a villain, and she is perfectly content to cheat on her first donut seller in this way. Her relationship with donuts could be the subject of long verse.

...Also yes, neither of them are all that great at this. But Eas asked, and so she gets an answer.

"...All right," the Executive allows after a moment. It's honest, yes, but that doesn't bother Eas, who is pretty blunt herself by preference and by lack of understanding of social nuance. Eas watches Mikoto for the moments she speaks, and seems satisfied with that much.

However, the way Mikoto glances back, asks about learning--Eas frowns a little, but some of it is a little defensive. "I'm not worried," she corrects quickly, and then once that gives her enough distance, she continues, "I mean, it's not a problem for me. Labyrinth denizens understand discipline. But humans are always trying to get out of their work, complaining about having to do tests..." She thinks of a few in particular. "You wouldn't let your muscles go soft laying around doing nothing all the time. It's the same with school. You take days off every week here, and then whole weeks off later."

Eas lets that hang for a minute, then glances forward again. "...You just waste all your time on 'fun' and then what does it get you? You're another year older and you're not closer to accomplishing your goals. Girls like that don't make any sense to me. ...Going on and on about pointless subjects, making jokes... And another thing, humans don't know how to keep a clean space. There's so much junk around your living areas all the time. How do you even manage that? It gets on my nerves. Put things back when you're done with them. You don't have to clean as much if you just do it as you go."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Eas has a lot of thoughts about work, and Mikoto lets her talk, nibbling on another donut as she listens. She wonders if there are any cats in Labyrinth. Surely not - if there were, Eas would have a model for idle time.

"Outsiders notice stuff like that," she supposes, once the complain train pulls into grudge station. She, too, does not realise she's said more than she meant. "But fun's a goal, too. It's, um..." Mikoto tilts her chin up, tapping her finger on the rim of a half-devoured donut as she thinks of how to explain it to the Executive. Perhaps her uncertainty is another thing which speaks volumes. "Talking and laughing's way to get closer to people. If they're laughing, it means everything's okay, and there's no danger, even if it seems like a fight. And different stuff says things about friends. Tough people are good at hiking, but if someone can't do it that means they're not as strong, and I should keep an eye on them. Someone really smart is good at puzzles. If someone talks about making snacks when we get them, they probably cook!"

(Mikoto cannot hide her enthusiasm on that last one.)

She takes another bite of her donut, swallows. "'Sides, doing nothing helps with doing stuff. Gotta rest so training's effective. Can't learn much, too tired, and it's easier to get hurt too." If there are no cats in Labyrinth Mikoto will impart the cat lessons herself.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Eas has may, many thoughts about work. But Mikoto--

Eas should probably notice that Mikoto implies that she's also an outsider, but she doesn't appear to stop and think about that. Instead, having vented a little, she glances back to Mikoto and waits. ...And pulls another donut and nomph on that one too as Mikoto explains.

She's pretty good at eating these. It practically disappears. She is an expert, somehow.

"...So what, keeping your eye on their habits is a way of learning more useful information about them?" She looks... skeptical of that, but she seems to immediately accept that Mikoto isn't sure either.

"You almost make it sound like all those things are something worthwhile." Almost. Obviously not definitely. But--

"Sure, we sleep in Labyrinth too. But I don't know that filling your time with all these other activities is that good for resting." Pause. ....She frowns a little.

"...I guess," she allows, and slouches like a professional. "What's so good about getting close to each other anyway? It just makes it more awkward when you need to leave." Eas doesn't look at Mikoto for this part. "It's a distraction. You think about them instead of about what you have to do, you change your routines to match up with theirs--and for what?"

The white-haired girl looks down at her donut. "...And if you do something together then how do you handle who gets the credit? Or..."

Hiking, huh. Hiking...

"...I guess hiking's okay. But that's it."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Yeah," Mikoto replies. "People like attention!" Here she pauses for a beat before she adds a cautionary disclaimer: "Except sometimes not too much. But it's good to ask people good at stuff for help, or help people bad at stuff. It's," she hums for a moment as she tries to think of the right way to say it, "social."

She doesn't really have the air of someone explaining something obvious, right now. Mikoto has had to learn many of these lessons herself, because there were no girls on the mountain. Having learned them, she passes on the knowledge without any particular judgement or aspersion.

Maybe that makes her the worst person to try and explain something which is second nature to the girls of Tokyo...

... or maybe it makes her the perfect candidate, especially as Eas concedes that she almost has a point. Mikoto listens as Eas goes on to talk about rest in Labyrinth, and she hums consideration as she thinks about it. But she doesn't know enough about the underpinnings of resting to say why idle activities help with those more active ones. She simply doesn't have the words for it.

And then Eas is going on, and Mikoto doesn't have words for an entirely different reason. Sadness crosses her features, upturned brow and downturned lip, and she is reminded of the vast gulf between them.

Labyrinth is not a very nice place to live.

"... can't control the future, Eas," she says, finally, because she has the sense Eas is not in control of a great many things. A certain wistful melancholy creeps into her tone. "Maybe Eas will have to leave... or do something bad... but, today Eas is still here. Today Eas can eat donuts, or go see girl with messy room and tell her to clean up, or pet a cat. And that still matters." She shakes her head, braids flicking at her face. "Tomorrow's too big to worry about."

She looks down at her donut, puffing out a sigh. It shouldn't make her as sad as it does. "I like hiking, too," she offers, instead. "Nature makes more sense than city does."

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

People like attention--but not too much. Social. Eas considers Mikoto's findings on these matters, and lifts an eyebrow as if skeptical of the idea, but because of the way it's presented she doesn't immediately argue it down. She just lets it pass for the moment instead, talks about Labyrinth...

But what is that expression Mikoto has for? It's not as if Eas doesn't know the very taste of sadness, the scent of it, but in the moment it seems strange, and off-putting. Eas frowns--and Mikoto says...

"I do things humans think are bad all the time," Eas points out, but the contention of it is a little half-hearted at the moment. "...Yeah, yeah. If we could control the future, Mobius-sama wouldn't need us to go to other worlds to gather energy. ...But it'd be easier for all of you if he were in charge. You wouldn't have that kind of uncertainty. Why hang onto something like that? To not knowing what comes tomorrow?"

Eas looks out over the cityscape. "...Today..."

She can't quite bring herself to argue that part.

"...Hiking's fine," Eas says, tonelessly. "I guess that's kind of true. With animals, you can predict how they'll act--they act in sensible ways, according to their needs. They'll find food, shelter, whatever, fight if threatened, otherwise just act. But... it's not saying much."

"Nature's... weird. All that greenery, all that stuff out there--unplanned, disorganized... chaotic. Who decides what direction the branches should grow in? Nobody, they just... go wherever. It's inefficient, and it's dirty, and habitats of different aimals just fold up on one another."

"...But the same is true of the city here. Everything's plotted out haphazardly, according to too many different ideas of what should be here. Everybody walks around without any direction, it seems like--you never know what you're going to see around the next corner."

She sounds, if anything... kind of uncomfortable with this concept.

"In Labyrinth, you know how things were yesterday, how they are today, how they will be tomorrow. You can focus on your tasks without all this... distraction."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Eas protests, but it's token, and Mikoto just nods slightly in acknowledgement to her affirmation that she does bad things. "... 'cause I decide," is her only reply to why she denies Mobius's vision. Being able to choose her own path is a thing unique to Tokyo, even if she has duties she must uphold, and it is why she cannot abide his conformity.

Hiking is a safer topic, and Mikoto listens as Eas shares her gripes on this aspect of the Earth, too. She glances over to her, in surprise, as she talks about branches, but she doesn't interrupt as she moves on to other locales, instead.

Still, it's that part she goes back to, as Eas pauses her complaints. "Branches aren't random," she points out. "Leaves want light, so branches grow to get most sun. But trees are slow, so sometimes it don't look right." Sometimes people build towers right over a tree so they don't get sun any more. "But tree knows what it's doing."

She looks out over the edge of the roof they've perched on. "Gets harder when there's lots trees, or other stuff. 'Cause they gotta share. It's just like city... everyone's got some idea what they want. But, there's lots we don't know neither, 'cause everyone's here. It's not so bad, Eas. I run into friends lots, and sometimes we do stuff I never thought of doing alone!" Like karaoke, or shopping, or racing.

"Sometimes it's distracting," she concedes after a beat, because it's true. "But sometimes distractions help with tasks, too. Might run into someone who saw something, or knows something. Even if I get distracted for real... it's okay. 'Cause I know I can get it done eventually, and lots times I can help friends I find. That's important task, too."

She shrugs a shoulder, glancing over to Eas again, and adds without any real consternation: "... 'sides, if we were no good at unplanned stuff, we wouldn't be good at fighting you guys. Not like Eas sends out invitations."

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Because she decides. That's the answer they always give--that there's something important and noble about that choice. Eas just shakes her head, and doesn't bother arguing it this time. They can do that some other day. And hiking...

In this, Mikoto seems to be more of an authority. As she points out the logic behind the branches' growth, behind the forests' growth, Eas considers it. "...So like with animals. Still--they'd get more light if someone who knew where the light was going to be would direct them, instead of making them do it themselves with their limited knowledge."

Sharing... "Wants are what make things complicated. Everyone wants different things... And because no one can decide whose wants should win out, you hurt each other. That doesn't happen in Labyrinth."

"...So, distraction is fine because there's a chance you'll get something good out of it?" She stops, rolls her eyes. "Yeah. More of this socializing. ...But..."

Eas glances back to Mikoto. "That's true. I don't. I guess that is one advantage you have." Pause. "Not that I think your way's better. But if you were all total weaklings and idiots, it wouldn't be taking us so long to get this done. I thought you were just stupid and weak, at first. ...Now I know I need to work harder."

She keeps watching Mikoto, like she's studying her expression. "...You're not that different from us, either. You don't need to make all this... stupid talk about the weather, or any of those things humans use to fill up silence." She looks down again, pulls another donut, and meditates upon its roundness. "...If they were all like you it wouldn't be so..."

Eas shakes her head. "Whatever."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"We have those," Mikoto points out, plainly, when Eas says trees would do better with guidance. "They're called 'gardeners.' Just don't garden all trees." There is room on Earth both for the most perfectly-shaped bonzai and the wildest oak.

She grunts as Eas insists wants are the source of all hurt. "Yeah," she says, because she has certainly hurt people in her ignorance before, "but that's too simple. If we don't know, we hurt each other. But knowing what other people want can make them happy, too!" Here, Mikoto takes a bite of her donut, quite deliberately.

(She does not, directly, say Eas wanted donuts, because she gets the sense that would make her feel threatened. She is an enemy, after all, and it would probably unnerve her to know Mikoto has an idea of how she works by now.)

Mikoto nods as Eas summarises her next point, apparently unbothered by the selfishness of the sentiment. She can't help but smile as she concedes by omission that they are not all, in fact, incompetent. "And I'll keep breaking Eas's stuff," she says, remarkably humble over her own skills at chopping down her Nakewameke.

She notices mid-smile that she is being examined, but she doesn't seem terribly self-conscious about it. But perhaps that expression just makes it more obvious when Mikoto blinks in momentary confusion as Eas claims their similarity. Luckily, Eas provides an explanation a sentence later, and she cants her head as she considers it.

She should be careful about what she says to enemies, but Fate proved that they could drag girls out of the morass which was Dark Fall, after all. Perhaps her involvement with that has given her more confidence with this.

"Yeah," she says, after a pause for her deliberation. "I'm not from city either, Eas. So... I kinda get it. I think it's weird no one here knows how to hunt, or climb good. Don't get why I'm supposed to say 'fine' when someone says 'how are you' instead of answering question. And everyone needs lights at night even though moon's there." She tosses the last bite of her donut in her mouth, munch-munch-swallow.

"But I like it here," she continues. "'Cause there's donuts, and nice people, and lots stuff I never knew about. Food here tastes really good, and there's lots more cats! I never knew the world was so big! I never thought I'd have so many friends." Here, Mikoto smiles again. "So it's weird, but it's good, too."

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"Oh." Gardeners. Thinking of that makes Eas think of someone she knows who looks over plants... And the matter of Northa makes her shiver lightly, thinking better of dwelling there. "Right. Gardeners. They..."

"Sometimes things are simple," Eas contends. "...Sure, if you know what someone wants you can influence them. But I'm not sure what's so good about being happy. It's temporary, it's not... stable, or useful. I don't have time to be concerned with something like that."

If she sounds defensive, well... Mikoto is at least managing it. Eas does want donuts. She wants a number of things.

"Yeah," she grouses, "I bet you will. Maybe next time I'll find something stronger." Like... invitation. If it's strong enough, then she can draw them to it instead of trying to operate without them, count on it...


Eas listens to Mikoto, and maybe that itself is a sign of how far things have changed for both of them. "...Yeah. I'm from a city, sure, but... not like this. Not with all this extraneous information, all these... choices..."

"You do. ...You really do just..." She shakes her head. "I don't understand you. I just... Sure, there's some things that aren't so bad. Dealing with humans isn't as irritating anymore as it was at first. It..." Eas stares out into nothing. "She wouldn't understand," Eas mutters. "Nevermind."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Temporary, huh..." Mikoto trails off as a sad thought occurs to her, glancing aside as she presses her lips together with a quiet hum. "Lots of things are." Like their lives. She's seen enough magical girls die - which is to say, any number greater than zero - to know that they carry with them certain occupational hazards. It's just a good thing magic and miracles exist. "It'd be boring to be happy all the time," she says, instead, as she pushes aside the sad thought.

Eas says she'll find something stronger, and Mikoto just nods to her. It's not a dismissal; she just has no argument as to Eas's ability to create strong monsters, so she doesn't bother wasting the words.

(If she knew Eas was getting a terrible idea from her own words, she'd certainly protest, so it's a lucky thing Eas keeps silent on her plot.)

And then Eas talks, in trailing fashion, and Mikoto listens too. She can hear the difficulty, and she tilts her head up to look at the clouds rather than focusing on the other girl directly. "I think," she says, finally, "humans are pretty good at understanding stuff. Just different people understand in different ways. There's people at school who call me dumb 'cause I don't care about talking like them, or 'cause I don't care about class. That mean I don't understand stuff?" With a chuffing noise not unlike a tiger, "I think I'm doing okay."

She shakes her head, looking back over to the other girl. "If Eas doesn't get it, ask," she says, cutting the knot right down the middle. "It's how I learned stuff." Well, she often still has to ask about the more obscure aspects of the world, but at least she's familiar with most of the core concepts by now.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Lots of things are. That's true; Eas has seen it, too. And fighting the way that these girls do only seems to risk getting closer to that. Eas, of course, is not so friendly with magic or miracles in the same way. But when Mikoto mentions it might be boring, Eas glances over. "...Boring," she repeats, still skeptical.

But there's a little more weight to it in the moment.

Eas will work on the monster later. She'll have to find suitably well-made invitations, naturally. ...Only Eas would do this without planning to make it some nasty, underhanded trap, naturally. Just the normal kind.

It is difficult, though, to talk about this. A lot of things, but this kind of subject in particular. So Eas remains quiet as Mikoto finishes, looks back. ...Ask, she suggests. It's how she did it. Around most, Eas would immediately insist she didn't need to understand anything, and the frown she gets suggests the start of just that. But...

She sighs, instead, looking down to the roof ahead. "...I don't know if she'd want to, though. I mean--yeah, what you say makes sense. You're not an idiot, even if you're behind on school... But those subjects don't relate to your function, so it doesn't matter." Her 'function'? Well, maybe that's not so bad. "You understand what you need to. But..."

"All right. You've dealt with humans a lot. Let's say... You had something to tell someone that you think they should know--maybe should've known a while ago--but it's something bad. What's the best way to make sure that they... They get it, and don't ignore it out of some... stupid optimism, or pretend it's fine?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

It's strange to think a positive emotion could get boring, isn't it? But every static state is boring on a long enough timescale. Perhaps that's something Labyrinth has more experience in than they realise.

Mikoto tilts her head as Eas looks for a moment like she's going to claw at her suggestion, like a cat who's been pet too much by someone ignoring their twitching tail. Well, let's be fair. It's not that she's ignoring it, exactly - she's aware that she's pushing Eas a little out of her comfort zone as the conversation goes on - she just thinks it's still worth giving attention to someone who needs it. But then Eas sighs, and keeps talking instead, and Mikoto looks down at the box in her lap as she listens.

Phrasing it as her 'function' is a little strange, but it's not really wrong, either, so she grunts wordless assent. More important, perhaps, is the fact that this nameless girl might not want to understand, by Eas's reckoning. She glances over as Eas finally consents to ask, nodding quietly, and then tilts her chin up to look at the clouds rolling above.

She hums consideration as she thinks, and doesn't speak for a moment. "Maybe I'm not good at this question," she admits. "There's stuff I don't tell people, too, 'cause they wouldn't get it, or..." Mikoto shrugs, rather than say it would make them suspicious.

"But, I think... be honest," she says, after a beat. "And say how Eas is worried she'll ignore it. 'Cause maybe that's how she deals with bad stuff, pretending it's okay. Mai's like that." Mikoto scrunches up a corner of her lip as she taps at the side of the donut-box with a finger. "But... if she really cares, she'll probably try and help. Doesn't mean she's ignoring it... just, humans look out for each other. And humans get attached to lots of things which aren't humans," she adds, quickly, before Eas can protest. "Same treatment."

She once saw Takumi apologise to a roomba. Eas, as an alien functionally identical to a human, stands no chance.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Maybe they do. But most denizens of Labyrinth would claim--perhaps accurately--to feel almost no emotions at all. ...Eas, however, has always been a little different on that front. The very same drive that fuels her also sets her apart, for better or worse. ...And in Labyrinth, that's usually worse.

Mikoto's assessment is apt; if not for the fact that Eas is more interested in working out what's on her mind than proving that there's nothing wrong, she might've left the conversation right there. Still--Function, mission, purpose; it's the same thing, really.

"Yeah, that's fine. Somebody good at this kind of thing would give me some kind of trite saying about feelings or whatever. Nauseating." She thinks it's perfectly reasonable to keep some secrets, after all. But...

Honest gets some surprise--Eas for once watches Mikoto's face as she speaks. Usually she does nothing of the sort; her body language is often at odds with her words unless it's irritation, as if she just never learned all of the same unconscious cues. But here...

"Mm." Eas has not seen Takumi apologize to a roomba. On the other hand, she regularly turns inanimate objects into monsters, so... Wash?

"...Yeah. If I tell her directly, then she'll know. It sounds obvious when you put it like that." Which Mikoto didn't exactly, but that's how it worked in Eas's mind. "...Yeah. I'll be prepared for that, I guess. I've seen it, they do. ...I see it a lot. Even when they realize the difference."

"...She's too... optimistic, to run off. But what she should do is walk away. It'd be better for her." Eas looks a little gloomy, if anything. "...I don't really think there is a solution."

She considers, and looks over to Mikoto. Mai, she mentioned. "You probably have to take care of your Mai because she doesn't notice what she's running into anyway." Eas takes another bite of donut, chews thoughtfully, swallows. "...I don't entirely mind that, but..."

"Anyway. That sounds like a good track. Maybe by the time I see you again it'll all..." She trails off, shakes her head. "Whatever. ...You know it's way too hot in this city. You don't even have temperature control on your main roadways. How primitive is that?"

...There's not a lot of venom in her complaint this time, at least. Maybe it's just a way to shift away from something harder to say.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

For all she just claimed to be keeping secrets, Mikoto seems remarkably bad at it: everything she feels is reflected on her expressive face. And when she tells Eas to be honest, she does so without reservation or concern. It really does seem like she thinks it's the answer.

Mikoto shakes her head, with a soft noise of complaint. "... it's sad when people leave," she murmurs, looking down at her box in momentary misery. "I think... leaving must be sad, too." It must have been the hardest thing - right?

But the thought of Mai brings a warm smile to her face as she dismisses the sad thoughts in the wake of her, and she shakes her head. "Lots of stuff I don't notice Mai does," she says. "Mai's always telling me new stuff about how I'm supposed to act." Like how she's not supposed to leave before her clubmates in Animal Care, or apologise if she has to. What kind of ridiculous social rule is that..?

She nods, as Eas seems like she's sorted things out, and doesn't fail to notice the way she switches to complaining about the city again. This time she takes heed of the lashing tail, as she looks out over the rooftop again. "Lots things think road's good for naps," she says, instead. "Had to save lots of lizards." For all she speaks cat, Mikoto does care about other animals! Even if she hunts them sometimes.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Is it...?" Mikoto echoes, sadly. Is it better for her to be sad? Could there be something worse than being left alone? She doesn't sound convinced, but it also sounds too personal for her to lodge a proper complaint.

She is not thinking, in the moment, that she should hide her scars from a girl who needs to make them hurt.

Perhaps it speaks to the foundation they've managed to build even across enemy lines.

Mikoto has built a great many foundations since coming here, but Eas is correct to divine that Mai is something special. "Yup!" She smiles, and perhaps it is greater cheer than Eas is used to seeing. She manages to restrain herself from extolling Mai's virtues, at least. Somehow.

"No one can tell lizards where to go," she says, with all the authority of someone who has seen it personally. They're ten tonnes of ornery in a two-pound bag. She once saw one hissing at a deer many times its size. Perhaps that explains why there are no lizards in Labyrinth - but Mikoto doesn't miss the fact that there are apparently no animals there.

(She was right! There are no cats in Labyrinth! No wonder Eas has so much trouble.)

And then Eas decides she's had enough, and Mikoto looks over to her again. Surprise flashes over her face briefly as she's warned about her timing - it's not something Mikoto would expect from an enemy - but she nods, and files away the fact that Eas knows Mikoto's favoured food, too. "We'll do something good. Thanks."

Mikoto straightens, too, slipping donut-box into bag and shrugging her sword-case back onto her shoulder as she turns away. "... good talk," she offers, warm enough that she must be smiling, but she's kind enough not to look at her as she does. With that, she hops down onto the street via the next building's fire escape.

<Pose Tracker> Eas [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"Sad now, or sad and hurt later?" Eas starts to answer Mikoto's echo... but she doesn't more than that, just shaking her head. It makes enough sese. It's fine. And for now...

It's funny, but with all Eas has learned about people, she just doesn't lean on their wounds in quite that way. She doesn't have the cruel genius Soular does, just as she doesn't have the wide inventiveness of Westar. Her approach has always been more direct. ...And what they've built...

Maybe it suits that.

"So you don't tell them. You just move them. It's what you do, isn't it?" It's so easy for Eas to draw the similarities, backed up by years of learning, raising. But it's true that Eas has no stories of animals there at all.

No wonder is right.

Eas bulls right through the surprise, ignoring it because obviously if she said it it wasn't a big deal. She just inclines her head once. But Mikoto darts off faster than she does, so the Executive has the chance to watch her leave for the moment. 'Good talk'.

"...Yeah," she says, somewhat tonelessly. "Good talk."

She lingers until she doesn't hear the sounds of catlike tread anymore, and turns to jump down and walk away.