Aftermath 1

Jaito
…they keep Michael and Night in adjoining cells. Xiao didn't get that luxury. The last they saw, there was a bag over her head and cuffs on her hands and feet. It had only been an hour, but….it felt like days ago. There weren't any questions, not yet. The chaos was still being sorted out.
4:48 PM Night_Misaki
They'd never sort it out. They'd never find the why…not the Khakham, not the police, no one.
4:49 PM
Night hasn't felt the need to punch someone so hard since she was 12. "…Michael, are you awake?"
4:51 PM Michael_Lin
Michael just curls up blankly. The motion as he turns his head in her direction is really the only indication that he's at all responsive.
4:53 PM Night_Misaki
"…Michael, your mother was part of creating the gnOsis code." It's his to know, and she isn't feeling charitable enough to wait. "She worked with my father…and someone else I don't recognize, before we were ever born. The code is what's making parts of the game real, although for what purpose I don't know."
4:55 PM Michael_Lin
"O-oh." it…makes sense, now that he thinks about it. It…makes sense. It shouldn't surprise him, and it doesn't. There's no surprise in his voice, or anger, or anything other than a blank serenity, a bleak acceptance.
4:56 PM Night_Misaki
"…Why not get angry? They stole your life from you. If I'm right…it's the gnOsis in your profile that makes the game react oddly to you. …Shousei too, I'm sure." She has to find out why, and right now she's feeling like the best way to get answers is to punch her father until they fall out, but that still means she has to find him first.
4:57 PM Jaito
"You'd be wrong about that." A woman walks up to them, beret tilted down over a long, dark coat.
4:57 PM
"Or at least incomplete."
4:58 PM Night_Misaki
"…Epimetheus." Night sighs, rubbing her face. "Then fill in the blanks. He at least deserves to know."
4:59 PM Michael_Lin
"…a-aunt I-Iris." his tone doesn't shift at all.
4:59 PM Jaito
"He-" She blinks. "…I….why is he here?!" Iris Lin stares at Michael, horrified.
4:59 PM
"…I thought…I thought that Xiao would be down here…."
4:59 PM Night_Misaki
"They took her away, I think they're treating her as responsible."
5:00 PM
Night looks rather…tired, more than anything else. "I think we're past the point of pretending knowing can do more harm than good right now."
5:02 PM Jaito
She sighs. "…Kisses…" Her eyes look pained…and she's still not looking at Michael. "Rapture and Eden are active."
5:03 PM
(For anyone with a Lore score - they're the sky ladder satellites that collapse and inflict the supernatural horror of the world upon the Paradise game-world)
5:03 PM Night_Misaki
"…That's less than good."
5:04 PM Michael_Lin
…oh.
5:04 PM Jaito
"I tried to stop it. I did…." The guilt is palpable. "But the pieces have been in motion for years. Yamazaki…Naito…and, and…."
5:04 PM Night_Misaki
"…Yamazaki?"
5:04 PM
Oh, no.
5:05 PM
That would make everything fit, wouldn't it?
5:06 PM Michael_Lin
It really would…

5:06 PM Jaito
"I…always wanted to think that I was better than him…even Emily only wanted the best. 'Have you never ached to be free? To pass that freedom down to eternity?' …oh, Emily…" She slumps back, eyes turning wet.
5:07 PM Night_Misaki
"…There's no point in stopping it now. And finding the why…well. I want to, but what needs to happen now is making sure as many people as possible survive."
Jaito
"I…I just built the links. It's software architecture…interface…I mean, I didn't MAKE it…so…I…so I…"
5:08 PM
"…I tried to STOP it."
5:08 PM Night_Misaki
She sighs. No, this is a clearer picture…even asking 'why so many people' didn't matter, the people who mattered to her father were so few. "There's no time for guilt now."
5:08 PM Jaito
She is clearly not entirely there.
5:08 PM
"There's no time for anything. I made a mistake."
5:09 PM
"…Hiroyuki was right."
5:09 PM Night_Misaki
"…Right about what?"
5:09 PM
"Some of us would like context for what we
5:09 PM
're punching our parents for."
5:12 PM Jaito
She chuckles. "Rapture and Eden are divergent and incompatible plans. So…they decided to let things settle naturally. I…I coded something. Because I believed that Rapture would never fail…reason and order would never fail…oh, Hiroyuki…."
Night_Misaki
"…And he thought you were too optimistic and naive."
5:13 PM
"What did you make, Iris?"
5:13 PM Jaito
She laughs. "He said that it was a mistake. That we should have left it to others…but I wanted to believe that I could beat back the darkness all by myself…"
Night_Misaki
"…" Night pinched the bridge of her nose. "…Yes, yes he was right."
"What. Did. You. Do."
5:14 PM Jaito
"You've never seen Yamazaki's eyes!"
5:14 PM Night_Misaki
"I've seen a pair that are pretty close, I'll bet."
…Er, wait.
5:14 PM
No, not the time.
Jaito
"I stole part of the system. The Rapture construct…except I already have some…modifications. I couldn't use it."
Night_Misaki
"…The sword?"
Jaito
She checks her watch. "The sword's nothing. Just an early test, probably Yamazaki getting impatient. I…I'm not ready for this. I have to get Xiao out of here. She needs treatment!"
5:16 PM Night_Misaki
"…Lin, what is it you stole? Let me see it."
5:16 PM Jaito
She pulls herself up. "You'll be fine down here for now.
5:16 PM Night_Misaki
"She needs a hug and a nap."
"And you need about a week of sleep."
"Stop dodging this. If I'm going to be treated as if I've inherited your mess, then I need to know what's going on."

5:17 PM
"Well…" She pauses, smirking. "Not just your mess. But I was left with everything /else/ of his."
5:17 PM Jaito
"She's a tech specialist…and was at ground-zero of a massive surge. The….understanding, if you've looked at gnOSis…imagine having that complexity running unfiltered through your head, but untranslated."
5:17 PM Night_Misaki
"…Ow."
5:17 PM Jaito
….no wonder the crafters in the game all have 'quirks'…
5:18 PM Night_Misaki
Maybe they should start teaching them language classes.
Jaito
"Just..whatever you do…don't let anything happen to Michael. If he's….if he's hurt…" She spares a moment to look at him.
5:19 PM Night_Misaki
"…I think you should be more worried about him hurting himself."
5:19 PM Jaito
Fresh tears fall. "I swear I thought I could stop it. I just…I just….I knew she'd try to change you, try to mold you…I knew she'd try to give it to you, no matter what Yamazaki planned. So…I saved you from her. I'm….no matter what happens, I'm sorry."
5:20 PM Michael_Lin
"…o-oh. T-that's w-what she meant."
5:20 PM Jaito
The pain in Michael's chest. Emily's disappointment and rejection…the voice.
5:20 PM Michael_Lin
It all makes sense now.
5:20 PM Night_Misaki
"…" This was not good. "…What did you do?"
5:21 PM Jaito
"…you're very special, Michael. And…if you need someone to hate for all this, hate me." She looks at her watch and pales. "I've got to go!"
5:21 PM
The lights start to flicker…and Night gets a familiar ache of fear in her chest.
5:21 PM Night_Misaki
"…He's here." Oh, no.
5:21 PM Jaito
"I love you, Michael." And then she runs up the stairs. Police officers shout above, but they're quickly cut off.
5:22 PM Michael_Lin
….
5:23 PM Jaito
At the end of the hall, the lights die one by one….and the frame of a man in violet light burns and draws closer.
5:24 PM Night_Misaki
"…Michael, get down and cover your head."
5:25 PM Michael_Lin
Already curled up. He hadn't really moved this entire time, except to look at his aunt, and he's not really moving any now.
5:25 PM Jaito
The presence stops. "….Michael…?" The voice is thickly-accented, low as a rumble of thunder….and immediately very fascinated.
5:25 PM
Step. Step. Step.
5:25 PM Night_Misaki
Oh, fuck her life, why does this keep happening.
5:26 PM
Why is she the one taking care of this?
5:26 PM Jaito
Darkness falls…and the weight of the world passes right by Night, as if she weren't important. It stops in front of Michael's cell.
5:26 PM Night_Misaki
…Every goddamn time.
5:27 PM Jaito
"…They tell me to be you. But you…are not even you. I think…yes." Knock. Knock. KNOCK on the bars. One is warped horribly. "I think…now, I wil be me. I think….yes. I think I will keep what I have held."
5:27 PM Michael_Lin
…shrinking back away.
5:27 PM
Instinctively.
5:28 PM Jaito
Another voice, young and beautiful comes from nowhere. "This is acceptable. You…are perfect. You will represent me much better. You are the true fallen angel."
5:28 PM Michael_Lin
but he's looking now, and can't look away.
5:29 PM Jaito
…teeth, pale-white and sharp, break into a grin. "Do you hear that, Misha Nikaia? I am the chosen. I am the son. I am the end. And one day…one day, I will wear your skin like gloves. Because I know you. I have been you. I love you."
5:29 PM
And just like that, the violet lights fade entirely. In the distance, there's the sound of broken glass. And a young boy's pleased laughter.
5:30 PM Night_Misaki
…Night is beginning to wonder just what the fuck is wrong with the Lin family.
5:30 PM
"…Why does everyone keep talking like Nikaia is different than you?"
5:31 PM Michael_Lin
"B-because h-he i-is." and he is more certain that he /needs/ to crack this shell.
5:33 PM Night_Misaki
"Of course he's not. He's you, all your anger and disdain."
5:36 PM Michael_Lin
just shakes his head.
5:37 PM Night_Misaki
sighs, leaning back against the wall between them. "Michael…why don't you ever want anything? He always felt like the parts of you you denied…but why deny them anymore? You have nothing left to lose by being."
5:40 PM Michael_Lin
Silence. It's probably something she expects.
5:41 PM Night_Misaki
"…You don't have to fight tooth and claw. But you don't have to be what they want you to be, either. Find something you want." She's no good at this, she knows it. Augh, where is Masaru? Or anyone with people skills.
5:41 PM

5:42 PM
Does she know anyone else with people skills?
5:42 PM
Why is this her life.
5:43 PM
"…We don't owe our parents anything. Maybe it's breaking the promise I made, but…" She reaches up, pulling off the long, brilliant blue earring she always wears. "….But he wasn't there to protect me, either. I think you could use the protection more than I can."
5:44 PM Michael_Lin
shakes his head. Doesn't take it: his fingers are very firmly closed.
5:46 PM Night_Misaki
Doesn't mean she can't stick it in his pocket. "…You saved my life twice, Michael. And I don't think you want it, but that means I can at least try and give you one of your own."
5:50 PM Michael_Lin
It's wasted effort. One of his own…he's never wanted a place in this world, and it seems like what they /need/ is what he's only a shell for.
5:51 PM Night_Misaki
"…Michael." There's something in her tone. A dangerous edge he's…probably heard before.
5:51 PM Jaito
More steps follow. "My, but haven't their been disturbances." The lawyer, from before. A guard is with her, who unlocks and opens the doors. "The matter has been handled. None of you are culpable in Miss Xiao's terrorist actions."
5:53 PM Night_Misaki
"…Terrorist?" Is that what they're calling it?
5:53 PM Michael_Lin
Apparently…
5:54 PM Jaito
"Come along, boys…well, and girl. Forgive my slip of the tongue." She's practically licking her lips. This is /fun/ to her. "You should be resting at home."
5:55 PM Night_Misaki
"…" Night, for a brief, wild moment, considers if it's worth it to break a lawyer's face. The answer is no, but it's close.
5:55 PM Jaito
"Is something bothering you, Misaki-sama?"
5:56 PM Michael_Lin
just tries very, very hard to fade into the background.
5:57 PM Night_Misaki
"I was just thinking it seems a little dangerous to 'come along' with people I hardly know, is all." And she smiles, perfectly and terrifyingly…cheerful. "Michael, can you stand?"
5:58 PM Michael_Lin
He does so.
6:00 PM Jaito
"Then….I will leave him in your care. After all, there's not much else you can do, Misaki-sama. You have no particular gifts, no talents in the coming future. The best you can do is make yourself useful to the new elite."
6:01 PM
…odd. The guard is just staring ahead…as if entranced.
6:03 PM Night_Misaki
"…" Night's smile grows…dangerous. "If that's all you think, you're a bigger idiot than you are trashy. Michael, come on."
6:03 PM Jaito
Her grin cools down to a chill. "I should be kinder. After all, it's not like you were properly raised." She turns to leave, the guard waiting to escort them out.
6:04 PM Night_Misaki
…Can't punch a lawyer can't punch a lawyer can't punch a lawyer…Night's clenched her hand so hard into a fist it might just be bleeding.
6:04 PM Michael_Lin
is just going to quietly follow after.
6:05 PM Night_Misaki
Home. To her home. If nothing else, distracting Michael with a kitten might buy her time.
6:05 PM Michael_Lin
is going to try to slip off once he has his bag back.
6:05 PM Night_Misaki
"Michael."
6:05 PM
"Don't even fucking think about it."
6:07 PM Jaito
Michael..has a lot of experience in being overlooked.
6:07 PM
And Night has a lovely back to want to snap in pieces the whole way.
6:07 PM Night_Misaki
Goddammit.
6:07 PM
Goddammit, goddammit, goddammit.
6:07 PM Jaito
…in fact…when she turns and Michael isn't there…the lawyer is grinning.
6:08 PM
"Not the first time your family's lost valuable equipment to the Lins."
6:08 PM
She winks.
6:08 PM Night_Misaki
"…" Something in her…snaps, reaching out for the feel of gnOsis. Maybe it won't last, but a momentary spark is all she needs.
6:15 PM Jaito
Her COMP starts to smoke…and suddenly, she KNOWS the words. She can understand them…and on some raw, basic level….? She knows that this woman is only playing at being human.
6:15 PM Night_Misaki
"…Hah."
6:16 PM
"No wonder you cake it on so thick."
6:16 PM Jaito
The lawyer waits for her to strike, She draws a finger down her neck, to caress a black mark along her left shoulder.
6:16 PM
Her eyes narrow. "….what was that, you overripe little tomboy?"
6:17 PM
There is something…odd about the way she said 'ripe'.
6:18 PM Night_Misaki
Night…snickers. Something feels right…something feels better. "You'll only ever be playing at human." Wake up, Jack. She's not waiting for him to wake up on his own time anymore. She will wake him up with sheer force of will if she has to. "No amount of makeup's gonna hide a wolf in sheep's clothing."
6:19 PM Jaito
Jack manifests beside her, grinning…and she can SEE something real and solid meshing into his form like a fog. "…I can roast her right here-ho, if you waaaaaant…"
6:19 PM
…he's like Danu now.
6:21 PM
The lawyer…smiles. "You certainly are your father's daughter…now, whether that 'father' is who you think…? Hmm." She turns her back. "Good night, Misaki-sama. Should you need anything else, seek me out."
6:23 PM Night_Misaki
"…Hah. No, Jack, it'll take an age to get the smell out of burnt hair out of the walls." Night shakes her head, and grabs her bag…where Michael could be now, she doesn't know, but she's got work to do. "It doesn't matter who he is, he's still my father…and if Yamazaki wants him, he'll have to get there before I do."
6:24 PM
He left her everything. The clues are in there, whether he meant to or not.
6:25 PM Jaito
She shrugs and leaves, apparently satisfied.
6:25 PM
Which mean that Night has work to do…with a little help from a coder, she's SURE she can unravel the rest of the code now…she can get to work.
6:26 PM Night_Misaki
Yesss. Yes. She can't help a little bubbled laughter. Oh, she can get this all to work.
6:28 PM
…She'll call shiro when it's done, he wanted her to warn them.

6:28 PM
Not that they can do much but survive.