2019-05-02 - Branded By Fire


After a busy day working in Central Park, Keiko heads to her last job and Agent Koa Turner doesn't like the brand she's received.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu May 2 05:52:23 2019
Location: New York

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Keiko has had a long day and fixing benches in the Park isn't easy work. At least it had been pleasent-ish, she'd had some company, but it's not over yet. There's a job to do at Koa's office and the matter of that pesky mark she'd received.

Which is why she's chained her bike up outside the WAND agents private office and has let herself in. She's not sure if he's there or if he will be, but that cabinet door is in dire need of fixing.

Stripping down to the tank top, she sets to work, absently rubbing her chest where the mark was left.

Koa has a leaky faucet, as he had mentioned. Said faucet is in the back room of his office and he is indeed there when Keiko shows up. The door opens to admit her. Less chinese food now than there was last time.

"Thanks for coming by. I'm about to loose a screw to that drip and- say. Is there something wrong with your chest?"

"Loose a screw?" Keiko peers at Koa as she enters, still rubbing her chest absently - but carefully. Koa can see part of the angry red scars that form the mark, as they peak over the collar of her shirt.

Keiko sighs at the question and puts her toolbox aside, shifting the fabric of the shirt a little so he can see. "You might say that, Agent Turner. It hurts and it itches… all at the same time." He'll recognise the curling script at least.

"Go crazy." Koa clarifies. She doesn't do vernacular or slang. He's gotten that. But the holes in her understanding to surprise him quite a bit.

Koa frowns when he sees what's under the shirt. He recognizes that script alright. He just finished writing the report about locking it in the vaults. In the very, very heavily warded vaults.

"Did that happen last night?" Because he suspects it did and he's not sure what that tells him but he's positive it isn't good.

Keiko sometimes does vernacular which makes it confusing for those speaking with her. It's hard to tell what she does and doesn't know. Blame Netflix.

"Oh, well, I'm here now and can fix it." She lets the collar of the shirt go, watching the Agent. "Yes. When you dropped me home, I fell asleep despite the pain. It was … there when I woke up." beat "It … sort of looks like the marks on that relic we recovered last night, doesn't it?"

She could show him it all but she knows that people here get funny about … showing that much flesh.

"Did you want me to look at the tap now, then?"

"No. Well, yes, but let me look at you first. How far down does it go?"

Koa's already going to his desk to dig out his report, which has some pictures of the tablet that he sent in with it. There it is. "Over here." He motions.

"Okay, firstly have you had any murderous impulses, inexplicable dreams about sunken cities or a strong desire to eat raw flesh?" He thinks not but it's best to get these things out of the way when dealing with Cthonic.

"You want me to take my shirt off so you can see it?" Keiko answers. "Down to my waist, to answer your answer your question and covering my chest and my ribs." That has to hurt, doesn't it?

Following Koa to his desk, the tattooed woman puts her toolbox down, giving him a strange look. "Murderous impulses? Only when I'm hungry. Sunken Cities? Only when I'm dreaming about Major Shepherd. Raw Flesh? I like my steak rare to medium, does that count?" She's not sure he'll get some of the references but it's been a long day. That's her excuse at least.

"Why are you asking?"

"Uh, no. No don't do that. Just lift it up off your navel a bit so I can see." He peers at it, scribbling. "This is not a language I am especially familiar with but I have a few reference materials."

Her answers to his questions just get a look. "I'll take that as no." he says dryly. He got at least a couple of those.

"Well the writing on you is very elder-god ish and that can happen in accute cases of corruption. Sit down. I need to test this thing to see what it's doing to you. Where is my… ah."

His pendulum. "This may feel funny."

And it does. When he starts drawing sigils on her skin? It feels COLD.

Keiko smirks at the dry response and Koa being all diligent and scribbling in his notebook. "Are you sure you can help me, if you aren't familiar with it?" Elder Gods has her grimacing "Are you saying you think I'm corrupted?" Hard to tell if she's teasing or worried.

Pulling the shirt up to just below her breasts, he can see how … fit … she is. Not heavily built to start with, she's fairly wiry.

"Hey…" That pendulum, she's seen what it does. "… what are you doing?" her voice goes up as she's chilled by the touch.

"I'm saying that there was a chance you might be, or might have been…" Koa mutters. He looks disturbed. "This is just a test rune. I need to see what it is exactly that's on you…"

Poof. The moment Koa finishes the rune it explodes into a shower of colors. In this case, lots of oranges. "Well… that was kind of unexpected."

The face he's making. It's not a great one.

"So… this thing is projecting a spell into you. It looks like some kind of mental or emotional… push. Not quite compulsion but something that's trying to play on and alter your state of mind."

"I might be corrupted, Agent Turner?" Keiko asks dryly. "I belonged to a cult that stole children and marked them. The fact I worship Lord Plokta has received more lectures than a college student gets in a six year degree." She might be exaggerating. "And you say I *might* be corrupted…" There's a slight degree of bitterness, punctuated by hisses of discomfit as he continues to draw that rune.

"Is it supposed to hurt like tha—-" she screams in pain when the rune explodes. That has to say a lot - he can see the amount of ink she sports.

"Alter my state of mind …" What the hell does that even mean?

"Well…" Koa peers at the scrip and then goes to one of his shelfs to pull off a book and look through it. "I'm not quite sure. Well that's not quite true. I'm sure in general what it's supposed to do. It's an alignment spell. The goal is to make you behave consistently with a particular belief or moral or… something similar. What I'm not sure is what it's supposed to do. It seems to be keyed to your…" Koa taps one of the words. "Not quite sure how to translate that. Anger. Wrath maybe. Fury, possibly." Align her with Fury? This may start to sound familiar. Were not the trials she underwent meant to make her 'exemplify her virtue'?

"I don't mean corrupted like that Keiko. I mean something that runs deeper. Soul deep. Not mind deep. There's a difference."

Keiko doesn't move as Koa works. She didn't move when that rune exploded either. So very well trained to endure the pain and discomfit, it probably doesn't pay to think on that too much. She just stands there, face set, shirt held up as he asked.

She frowns though as Koa talks, trying to think. "I … my Fury? I'm … " she was going to say she's not an angry person, but in a way she is. Angry and contemptuous when she's pushed. She swallows instead.

"When when they tested us, we had to prove we could master the spirits they bound to us. For me … they chose ones that pushed my temper. The more furious I got, the easier it became … well, as easy as it got. Is is is that what you mean?"

She snorts at his explanation. "You don't think what I've done hasn't touched my soul, Agent Turner?"

"It's possible that's what I mean." Koa says shutting the book and turning back. "I am not sure what that magic does, I will be honest and I think we should probably get you into WAND medical so that people more expert than I in this manner of branding can take a look at you."

It's almost a normal medical type procedure. Just a lot more involved. And ritualistic.

Okay it involves ritual purification among other things.

"I'm sure it has Keiko. The question is: Has it marked your soul." The Agent pulls over his chair so he can sit down near where Keiko is. "Human beings do things to their souls every day. Sometimes they're hurt, or torn and rather badly at that. But they heal. Usually. The question for you is: Has what you have done, or been through, touched your soul beyond that?"

And given that magic is involved, a 'yes' answer is a real possibility.

"I … don't know Agent Turner." Keiko still stands there, holding her shirt. One day Koa will work out that she requires direction. Somethings are deeply ingrained in her psyche. Like … not moving when you're told not to move. "WAND Medical? Into that building again? I … don't think so… I have work to do."

She's going to be stubborn, isn't she?

"How would I know if it's marked my soul? How do I even know if I still one?" That's possibly an equally good question. She must, musn't she? Plokta doesn't work that way, does he?

"If I do, I don't see how what I've done can't have …" Or perhaps, what's been done to her.


"Yes into that building again, do you know of someone else who can diagnose complex magical curses?" Koa doesn't. Well okay, Koa knows 'of' people who can do that but he's far from certain that any of them would and he doesn't have a way to contact most of them.

"I can assure you, you still have a soul. Soulless beings act in particular ways and are vulnerable to particular things. For starters it's not likely that you would have been capable of defying your old masters had they removed your soul. As to whether or not it's marked, we'll need magi more adept than you or I to confirm that."

But from his tone, Koa thinks it likely.

"You can, uh, lower your shirt. I'm done looking."

Keiko lowers her shirt, taking a moment to straighten it.

"I know Magi who could." The woman answers as she picks up her toolkit and moves to the sink. She's clearly not happy about any of this. "But I can't ask them now, can I?" beat "What if I don't want to go?"

"So I have soul then, that you're sure of. The rest, it's likely … " she knows what's she done. She knows what she's been through.

"This won't take me long to fix and I can be out of your hair."

"If you don't want to go then you're not going to get that thing, off are you? And it's going to keep doing whatever it's doing and THAT will definitely have an effect on you." Koa gives Keiko a look as if to say 'why are you being so stubborn about this'? But perhaps she is being MADE to be stubborn about it. That's possible. It'd be difficult to tell honestly. She's a bit… what's the word? Ah yes. Ornery.

"I don't think my faucet is our biggest problem right now." Koa says though he's certainly not going to stop her from fix it. He might try to stop her from leaving though.

It's not that the faucet is that important. It's that it gives her something to do while they talk. It … masks things. Hides body language and lets her focus differently. Total avoidance techniques. Koa might recognise them if he thinks about it.

"I'm marked already, Agent Turner. Or didn't you notice?" Keiko says quietly, crawling under the sink under turning the water off. When she emerges, she finds her wrench in her toolbox and starts loosening the faucet so she can inspect it.

"I … don't your building, Agent Turner." That's honest at least. "I don't want people looking too closely at me."That's probably programming. She doesn't talk much about herself or her experiences, so it's possible.

Stubborn is a good word for it.

"You're marked in a slightly different fashion now." Koa says, standing over her as she does her work. "This isn't a question of magical GPS tracking. This is something meant to alter who you are. Or at least who you behave as. And it's not just about controlling your actions. It's about tempering your character. Making you more like someone they want you to be. Or more like someone the tablet wants you to be at any rate. Either way it's a terrible idea to just let it go."

"What exactly is it that you're worried they're gonna find anyway? I think we've seen more or less everything you can do, yes?" Or is there something else she's hiding. Or… hiding from.

Koa's taller than Keiko, by a bit, and much much broader. It might seem to the woman that he's looming.

"My tattooes are not magical GPS, Agent Turner. The animals become a part of me, if you don't think that changes you …" she shakes her head and keeps working. The faucet is off now and she looks at the threading. "You need a new washer, there's one in my tool box … It should fit."

He can get it, or she will. Either way.

"I don't know what they'll find, we were always told …" The tattooed woman lets out a long slow breath "… to never let it happen." She's not sure if he's being dismissive or not but her jaw sets.

Stubborn creature that she is.

"And who's to say that one of your magi won't decide I'm better off as a tool?"

Koa crouches down and looks for a washer. No, that's a lug nut. That's a drywall screw. There. He hands it over. Yes he might seem like he's looming, unfortunately. He isn't, but it defintiely might seem that way.

"If the awful people that you ran away from told you never to let a thing happen, don't you think that's probably a pretty good reason to let a thing happen?" Beat. "Besides, we don't operate that way. If you were uncontrolled enough we MIGHT lock you up for everyone's safety but even that's kind of iffy." Mostly because there are lots of things - and people - it won't work on.

Keiko takes the washer, yes it is a washer, Koa goes up in her estimation. He got it right. Not many would. She's quiet while she works, fitting the new one, seating it in before she starts to put the faucet back together.

"Maybe it's a very good reason to be sure I know what I'm doing, Agent Turner." Keiko finally answers the question. "I've been used all my life, well all my life I can remember at any rate. I have … some freedom now. I can make my own decisions and be pretty much as I wish to be."

A hard won victory for her and one that's being threatened right now.

"You don't operate that way? You don't take people into custody and detain them?" She looks at his pendulum and other trinkets around the office "And you don't dispell, disperse or in any other way try to harness arcane things that might be harmful?"

"I don't want to go, Agent Turner. I trusted you, and you alone." And still he encouraged her to turn to Illyana. Maybe it was jest, maybe it wasn't. Keiko's not good at reading the room on that.

Would she really take the chance on that mark though?

"We deal with things that are a danger to the public, or the world at large. You're not either of those things. We do detain people sometimes. When we have cause. You haven't given me cause."

Yet. Koa is concerned that if he leaves that mark on her she MIGHT give him cause. He doesn't say that though. He's not sure she'd receive it well. She seems to think she might be… at some risk.

"I won't make you go. But I AM concerned for what that marking might be doing to you. You got it from an artifact somehow connected to the Elder God Cthon. I can't think of a single good thing that could possibly come of it."

"No, I haven't given you cause but your Magi … might decide otherwise, mightn't they?" She sighs, turning the water on and then testing the tap. "There you go. No leaky faucet for you. You won't … loose a screw." Strange thing to say, but there you have it.

"You don't think my Lord will protect me from this Elder God?" Maybe one day, she'll stop doing that. Plokta. Absently she rubs the mark as she packs up her tools "You'll give me your word, you'll take me out of there, no matter what, if I ask?"

"I don't think they would but…" There are procedures that have to be followed. They'd need just cause to detain her and all that. Not that she knows that. And not that she has any reason to put faith in that either. Police forces in some of the parts of the world she's been to can be pretty damn corrupt.

"I think it's entirely possible that your Lord is using or being used by an elder god." Koa isn't sure what the connection is. It might not even be at Plokta's level. It's likely for example that the Nightfall has simply appropriated artifacts that it can find regardless of their provenance.

"I'll promise that I won't let them detain you while you're there." He'll release her. After that, though, if she needs detaining, she might want to watch out.

"But you can't say for certain…" Keiko finishes that first sentence. "We don't know if the Nightfall have managed to … subvert anyone." That's not likely possible but she had said she'd run.

"If my Lord is being used, or using, then don't you think this is what he intends for me?" the tattooed woman gestures at her torso before rubbing it again. "Why would I question his Will?" Oy Vey. Poor deluded girl. "That it was one of the Nightfall Magi who was trying to use this, though. That brings … some question to my mind."

She lets out a breath at his assurance though. "If you think this is necessary, then we can go …"

"That's… possible." It's a disturbing possibility but one they do have to think of. Then Keiko is… invoking her god again and Koa makes a face.

"You are not helping my case for not putting you into therapy." He mutters but doesn't press it any further than that. She really was rather brainwashed, it looks like. "I think it is the only safe thing for us to do. I can possibly find someone outside of WAND to look at you but that will take longer if I can manage it at all."

Brainwashed, perhaps. Or all she ever really knew. She was raised in a society that venerated Plokta. It's not easy to just turn that off like a … tap.

"You really … don't like my Lord, do you …" Keiko looks to the door as she shifts her toolbox. "Why is he any different to the other one? The blonde one…" Because Illyana is, as far as Keiko can tell, a splinter-lord that Koa seems to like. If not like, tolerate at least.

"I said we can go, Agent Turner…"

"Well Illyana Rasputina does not as yet have a cult who is actively engaged in abducting children. So… yes." Koa tests his faucet and smiles. Lo and behold, it does not leak. And this is a small miracle given how batty it was driving him earlier.

"Do you wish to go now or would you be more comfortable doing it later?" They can go, and they should go, but it doesn't have to be right this second. Koa will be satisfied if they can do it in a day or so.

Well, provided she doesn't go on a rampage or something.

"That you know of, Agent Turner." Keiko points out. "OK. So you might be against abducting children … " she sighs. Still … no, she's no comeback for that.

"We can go whenever you want to. I was just going home to have a hot bath and watch Season One of Space Trek 2062 again." That might make him blink.

"And get dinner."

"Why don't you let me get you dinner and take you home. Save you having to bike." Koa says, grabbing his keys. And it's not like he doesn't know where she lives at this point so she wouldn't be giving anything extra away. As for Space Trek.

Well, he thinks the older stuff was better.

He won't ask her about Plokta again. Today. But that's going to come up, she can be sure. Worshipping dark gods seems to be a sticking point with him.

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