2019-06-10 - Caretaker Needed.


Koa calls Keiko in to discuss more work and finds out some of the effects from the raid of Sifror

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Jun 10 02:26:59 2019
Location: WAND Office

Related Logs


Theme Song



"So how much work do you figure you do a week now, Keiko…" Koa is in the WAND Cafeteria. He'd asked Keiko over for lunch mostly because he wanted to check up on her but he couldn't leave work. He's definitely kind of working while he eats. There's a big thick binder on the table in front of him with what looks like property listings.

The food is good. It's hot, it's made to order. It's occasionally served by someone who looks a bit weird but for the most part WAND people are human. Folks like Big Red are the exception as it turns out. Not the rule.

Keiko is still wearing some dressings from their encounter with Siffror and the usually quiet tattooed woman has been even quieter. The collar that Illyana had placed around her neck is still there and there's probably a number of consequences from their actions that Keiko is yet to realise. What she does know is her spirits are causing her problems - not that she's admitted that to anyone, some about her might have noticed.

"How much work?" She has to think on Koa's phrasing and then spend some time to work it out. "Martha Wayne Foundation gives me 15 hours a week, that's the only contract work I have. I get up twenty hours, sometimes more, from listings…." She frowns. "I'm earning enough to feed myself and pay rent, Agent Turner."

Agent Turner. Again.

"Mmmm. So almost full time…" Koa says absently as he turns one of the pages. They look like they're property listings. He finally looks up and frowns slightly.

"Koa, Keiko. My name is Koa." Does she feel less comfortable around him? Or is it something else? Does she feel maybe betrayed by how things went?

"How are you feeling? You're still bandaged." He doesn't know about her spirits but it wouldn't be hard for him to guess that. What happened struck at the core of the link she has with them. That would have destabilized them at the very least.

"Full time? It depends on my listings and how well they do. Sometimes I don't get much at all. That's when I eat cup of noodles all week." It's the way freelancing goes, right? "Yes, Agent Turner, Koa." She answers quietly, looking over at the well built man. They hadn't really had a lot of time for her to call him Koa, before they confronted Sifror and then … she had act as a pet.

Maybe it's just that. Or maybe it's something else. Koa had looked at her like she was food after all. It's also possible she's not quite sure what she's experiencing - life had been fairly simple for the Nightfall spirit caller.

"I … " He can see her consider words, weighing the options she has. Weakness isn't something she readily admits. "… am surviving and healing. Glydril and Bella are potent foes." And those two, plus the others, nearly tore her apart.

As she sits there, he can see her wince slightly and the parts of the tattooes that aren't covered seem to ripple.

Koa sits up slightly and watches them do that. He seems tense. Alert. Like a dog watching a rabbit. After a moment, when it seems like they're not going t obreak out - not yet anyway - he relaxes. "Still fighting you, are they?"

He's learned what it means when they move like they're alive. Well, they are alive. They're biting at the bars of their prison at the moment. Koa wonders if this would be so hard if she had a better… relationship with them.

"Have you tried making friends with them, Keiko?" He'd suggested that before. Play fetch with Bella and Connor. But he suspects she didn't do that. She seems to view her spirits the same way Koa views his gun. A tool.

Keiko really has to focus to get the spirits to settle, finally giving Koa a short sharp nod. "Yes. They … They're worse when you are near." she says quietly. "But generally unsettled. Since we … we went to see Sifror." There's a slightly haunted look in the peruvians dark eyes, as she meets Koa's gaze and drops them again.

"I haven't been able to call them properly since. And before that … I didn't really have time."

"Worse when I am near?" Koa repeats slightly incredulous. They'd never been anything of the sort before. Of course a lot of things have happened since then. A lot of rather important things. Like Keiko being used as a conduit for a GREAT portion of Koa's power. Well not Koa's power per se. But power in Koa which is close to the same thing.

"Are they afraid of me?" He asks finally, quietly. There's only so many explanations to this after all and that's the one Koa thinks makes most sense. He's a big bad predator. And they know it. And Keiko knows it too.

There is something painfully young about Keiko in that moment, the way she raises her eyes to Koa and drops them again. "Yes. When you are near. You know I can feel magic through the tattooes themselves, the spirits seem to know that it's you. They are restless." Keiko had had a lot of power dumped into her, through her. Koa's though was the bulk of it.

Not to forget what Illyana had done to them, with the collars they wear. Nor what Koa had done when he'd taken a piece of her soul.

Koa though, should know better than to ask if she was afraid. Or if her spirits were afraid. He can see the instinctive refusal rise to her lips before she stops. "They are … cautious."

"Cautious. That's why the writhe and squirm and bite at you whenever I get near…" Koa isn't buying it. But he knows she won't admit weakness. It's not an entirely silly thing to do. She knows what Koa is and her spirits do as well. However there seems to be a bit of pathology to her insistence on keeping up appearance.

That's neither here nor there, though. "What are you doing to regain control of them?"

She'd said it'd been a battle to get them the first time. Then she'd fought them individually. Now…? She may not have that luxury.

"Not all the time …" comes the sullen reply as the peruvian keeps her eyes down. "And that's cautious, isn't it? Not wanting to get too near? You … wanted to feast on me the other night and you've admitted my spirits make you hungry." Pathology or not, Keiko seems to be unable to put on a stoic front.

"I go through my exercises, the mantras and meditations and assert my will over the most dominant one. Then the next and the next till they calm." It's a battle every damn time just about and there is absolutely no way this can wrong.

"How do you keep your other you in check?" It's almost a challenge but not quite.

"I starve him." Koa admits freely. "But that's different since the other me doesn't really have a mind of it's own, or feelings of it's own. It's just me. Me with a different outlook on life. Your spirits aren't that. They're not aspects of your personality. They're living beings with their own needs, and wants and feelings and desires and…"

Koa trails off, having made his point. She's almost challenged him yes. But not quite. Not quite.

"If they like you, things will go much better. They'd want to take care of you instead of waiting for the chance to claw their way out of your skin."

"You starve him…" Keiko blinks, raising her eyes for the moment but not quite meeting Koa's. She hadn't expected that answer, clearly. She can't starve her spirits, they're so bound to her they feed from her. It's nigh on impossible to starve them.

"You keep saying that but that's not how it work, Agen—— Koa." Keiko says just as quietly. "And even if it did … I'm still having trouble. Somethings … changed. Do you know if they would try to take care of me for certain?"

The tattooed woman doesn't thinks so but she's upset enough at the moment, sit hunched in that chair. Not eating.

"Nothing is certain Keiko. But I've dealt with a lot of spirits in my time. They can be reasoned with." Mostly. He doesn't say that. Some spirits are so elemental, so removed from human points of view that it's just not possible to deal with them in any but the most basic fashion. However, spirits like Kilkenny prove that it is possible to establish a rapport.

"Your philly is getting cold…" He says quietly. Which it is. "And yes, something has changed. They had grown comfortable in their captivity. Now they are not, whatever the reason. The best way I can think of to change that is to make sure they are not… captives."

"You don't understand. Something has changed." Keiko says again, looking at the philly on the plate in front of her and picking at it listlessly. When she looks up at him again, her eyes seem to flash blue-white instead of the dark chocolate brown they are usually. Maybe that was just a trick of the light.

"When I can summon, they are … different." beat "And I don't know how to make them anything but captives. That's … what they are."

She does wonder how he is. He'd been pretty ragged himself the other night and then some.

"You were only taught to make them captives." Koa points out, eyes narrowing as her own change color. He's not seen that before. She's done a lot of things but none of it involves her eyes changing color. There's an old saying that the eyes are the windows to the soul. That is more true than most people realize. When dealing with magic… pay close attention to people's eyes.

"And you were only taught how to be a soldier in a cult. You learned how to be something else though, didn't you." Koa sighs. "What's changed?"

"I can't set them free, Koa. You know that. They are as bound to me, as I am to them." After the other night, that might be more true than anyone knows. "I … can show you, I think. If Bella behaves …" She looks up, checking to see if summoning the spirit here would be allowed.

Koa's not given the chance to respond though. Bella appears on the ground between them. She's slightly larger than she was, still clearly shaggy grey wolf but something seems … off. Maybe it's the way the wolfs eyes glow blue/white, the way her canines seem to protrude from her mouth or perhaps it's the way her claws look vaguely talons. All in all, it's hard to tell what's different but something is.

"I don't mean free them Keiko. I mean befriend them. Don't dominate them. Soothe them. Comfort them." Koa shakes his head as Bella is summoned into the room. This being the WAND cafeteria the reaction to spirits being summoned is curiosity rather than alarm. There's a reason the cafeterias are separate. This is a big one, though not the only one. Some few WAND agents have special dietary restrictions also.

Koa looks over Bella, frowning slightly. She is different. Off. Something is ever so slightly wrong. He holds out his hand to the not-quite-wolf.

"Here girl…"

"Bella!" That alone should tell Koa that Keiko hadn't meant to do that. Hadn't meant for Bella to appear as she did.

The wolf turns though blue/white eyes of Koa and lets out a growl before lowering her head and slinking towards him, ears plastered back on her head. Koa will recognise the behaviour as submissive. An animal recognising something bigger and stronger than it.

"Bella?" Keiko frowns and shakes her head at Koa. Maybe she'll try that, later.

Koa quirks a brow at Keiko's surprised response. She hadn't meant to do that? That doesn't especially bode well for her control but then neither of them have had very good control recently. Koa's wild half had been… hungry. And it has threatened to get loose without his conscious direction. He knows that means that his subconscious has been much stronger. That he WANTS to get loose and eat things. And that's worrying.

He wonders what it is with Keiko's spirits?

"It's okay girl." Koa strokes the spirit-beast's head, recognizing the behavior of a being that is somewhat… frightened. "I'm not going to hurt you…"

It's possible that Keiko's spirits want to be free. Or rather want to assert mastery over their conqueror. Or it's possible that something has changed sufficiently that it's trouble Keiko's having - calling her spirits is just far, far easier. If that's the case, what could it mean.

"Do you still wear the collar?" the young woman asks quietly, watching as her wolf plays beta.

Whereas before she would have padded forwarded happily towards Koa and nosed his hand, she does indeed act … scared. There's another low growl, her head dipping a little but rising as the Agent starts to stroke her. Bella whines, moving closer to Koa and licks his hand.

To Koa's senses, this spirit is potent. More so than he remembers from the last time.

"Do you see what I mean by different?"

"Yeah…" Koa tugs at the collar of his shirt to show. "It's not like it comes off and I haven't dared to try cutting it yet." It was made and reinforced with magic. It's possible that it's just leather and would come off easily. However it is ALSO attached to Koa's neck and if it were to have some kind of reaction that is not somewhere that the spirit-eater wants it.

"It's okay girl. It's okay…" Koa soothes the spirit. "She looks different, yes. And there's more power in her. But she's also scared. She's not acting the same. But see…" When the wolf starts licking his hand he nods down to her.

"She still knows me. Have you tried doing this with your spirits? Calling them for this?"

Illyana had said something to Keiko the night she'd collared her but the small peruvian can't remember what it was. "That tooth formed the night … you burned me…" She can see it, in the middle of the silver filigree, just like that gem that Illyana had put on hers. "Do you want to try and cut it off or you know, just ask her if she'll remove it?"

Bella whines and pushes against Koa's hand as he starts to pet her. Still submissive but the fear is starting to receded.

"I used to…" The peruvian answers quietly, looking at the WAND agent and her spirit with almost jealousy. "I used to call her when I bound her, and snuggle next to her late at night. But the Magi caught me doing it …"

"You haven't been beholden to the mages for a few years now…" Koa points out as he scratches Bella. "Why not do that again? I think you'd like it. And I think they'd like it."

Koa is virtually certain that the root of at least some of these troubles is the authority based relationship between spirit caller and spirits. Which worked well enough when she had a whole cult to support her. Now that she doesn't…

"I don't particularly want to try to cut it off no." As to asking 'her' if she'll remove it, that's tricky. That's partly tricky because Koa knows that for reasons that have nothing to do with actually wanting to keep the collars on them, her instinct will be to say 'no'.

"I don't want it to blow up my head if it turns out to be storing mystical energy."

Keiko watches as Bella rests her not quite wolfs head on Koa's knee. He'll hear the spirit groan almost happily. The Wolf still acknowledges Koa as her better but the fear isn't all there.

"I …. can try …." Keiko sounds hesitant. She had really become detached from simple emotion due to her training with the Nightfall. This … just feels wrong. Like she's being weak.

"My roommates won't like it, I'm sure…" Not that they enter her room, but the spirits might roam once Keiko is asleep.

"Well what are you going to do then?" About the collar she means. Koa might notice that she's not touched on what he did to her the other night.

"I do not yet know…" Koa admits quietly, looking back down at the binder in front of him. "You should eat, by the way."

He's quiet for a little bit. And then looks up frowning. "You have a room mate? You clearly need to move in to a nicer place. I was just looking at a list of properties that WAND has acquired over the years that need… caretakers. They're all problematic for one reason or another and they're all kind of in disrepair".

Bella happily leaves her head in Koa's lap, sitting herself down almost happily.

With her attention recalled to the food in front of her, Keiko tries to eat a bit more. It's nice she's just not … hungry at the moment.

"House mates really. I have a room in a place down in Jersey." the peruvian murmurs. Had Illyana mentioned that? She can't remember. "It's not very nice but I can afford it and they don't need me to have papers to rent." Koa might understand that. Paying Keiko was a little problematic.

"Caretakers? Is that why you were asking how busy I was? How many do you want to visit and over what time?"

"Well over the next several months ideally. A lot of them are vacant and I need to know how bad off they are. I'm keeping an eye out for people who might want to live in them. Or be able to handle living in them. If I can find any I might need someone to provide more steady services. Probably not more than twenty or so hours a week. Twenty five perhaps. You'd still have time for other things."

Like the Martha Wayne Foundation. Or other things she might pick up.

"That's an if though. At the moment I just need a bunch of work done, but it's not super urgent. Well, yet. I suppose I need to have a fire marshal look at some of them."

If he can arrange for that without the fire marshal getting possessed, or eaten or otherwise disappearing.

The Agent scritches the wolf's head a bit more. This one's quite affectionate. He suspects she'd respond well to Keiko offering a softer touch.

Bella rumbles almost happily at the extra scritching. Maybe she'll respond to Keiko or maybe she'll try her.

"I'll have a look. What's the worst that can happen? I fall a hole into another dimension where a Splinter Lord uses my body as interdimensional skype? Or an astral being decides to take a bit of soul and that maybe I'm good eating?"

It's dry but like that, Keiko is probably right. She might find things that are horrifying but she's been through a lot lately.

"My usual rates, though. You have them recorded don't you?"

"I do yes. Though have you considered revising them?" Koa looks up and closes the binder. She likely knows what her worth is work, and also what she can get for it and those are not always the same thing. She's got some difficult things to overcome.

And then there's everything magical about her which has been horrifying for a little bit. "Good. We'll start the visits after lunch if you don't have anything lined up then." She can assess what work needs to be done and they can draw up a schedule. And IF he can get some caretakers into one of these places, maybe he knows someone he can call to do the maintenance.

"Why don't you feed Bella something? Bet she'd like it."

"Why? Do they need to be lower for the ongoing work?" Keiko's rates are the lowball side of contracting. They're probably almost right for ongoing, retainer, style work. "I have my toolbox with me. So that works." What she hasn't realised is the rest of what Koa is offering. Caretaker - she thinks he means to just visit.

"She doesn't need food." the tattooed woman frowns but remembers some recent occassions and calls to the wolf, taking some of the philly from her plate and holding it out.

It looks ridiculous the way she's so tentative but Bella trots over, delicately taking the morsel for Keiko's fingers, licking a bit as she does.

"I was thinking higher." Koa sighs. "Your rates are competitive I'm sure but you do want to make enough money at the end of the day, don't you?"

"There you go. That wasn't so hard was it?" Koa says. "Pet her? Let her stick around. Treat her like, I don't know. A fried. A pet. Not a tool that you use when you need her to fight and get hurt for you. After all, you wouldn't appreciate that, would you?"

He knows she wouldn't. Doesn't. And he can't blame her given her background.

"Higher? You're not a very good negotiator, you know that, right?" Keiko answers, frowning at the answer. "It's not like I have much to spend my money on … Koa. With the regular check from Martha Wayne Foundation, I was going to see if I can find a new place but … most places want papers and I don't have those."

It's a small dilemma for the ex-Nightfall.

"I am tool." There's no ire or resentment in her statement. "I was tool for our attack on Sifror. There's nothing wrong with that." But she'll try. "She'll only be around for a little while long and then she'll just go. I'll call her back and I'll try…" the pat she gives the wolf is a little amusing, but Bella seems to respond to it.

"Even a tool gets taken care of, or it breaks." Koa points out. "And you are a person." They both are. Though… these collars they both have on - and can't take off - to pose something of a dilemma to that argument. Koa's just… not going to mention that and slide on past it.

"If I wind up needing a… live in facilities person, I'll let you know." He pauses.

"You don't mind haunted houses, right?"

"Maybe." Is all Keiko will agree as she touches the collar. He doesn't have to say it after all, she's already thinking it. "I'm glad to have work, Koa and I'll try with Bella and the others. Where I'm living isn't so bad." Just don't ask Illyana to confirm that. She's been there.

"Haunted houses? I don't know I've never been in one. Do you think they're as scary as Miss Rasputina?"

"Few things are." Koa snorts. "Finish your sandwich. And then we will get going."

Haunted houses, maintenance, and spirit wolves are just part of Koa's life. He used to think he could deal with the weirdness pretty well. Now he wonders what's going to get him first: The his own magic, or the things gnawing at the edge of reality.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License