2019-10-09 - Will You Defect?


Koa and Keiko are visited by Witchfire

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Oct 9 05:16:52 2019
Location: New York

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Theme Song



It's all the same. Only the names will change. Every day it seems we're wasting away.
Another place where the faces are so cold. I travel nights just to get back home.
I'm a cowboy. On a steel horse I ride. I'm wanted dead or alive.

Koa has a steel stringed ukulele which sounds a bit weird when it's playing Bon Jovi but he's good with it. It's a bit tinnier than that song usually is but Koa's voice more than makes up for it.

It's around lunch time and the agent had been out checking on the pillars with Keiko. They have a lot to do. Well, Keiko and Illyana has a lot to do but Koa's not exactly sitting around waiting either. He knows that when they make this move the other side is going to react. He wants to make sure that reaction isn't going to be 'checkmate.'

So the pillars are warded, he put the wards up himself, and a WAND task force is keeping an eye on them. Koa's unclear if Illyana's friends still are, but if they are they're more than welcome to be doing so.

Keiko had gone to… pick up a bite to eat? He thinks? She'll be back. And at the moment the park is rather pleasant, filled as it is with the smell of hot dog and the sound of Bon Jovi.

Keiko isn't far away really, just at the hotdog vendor down the way. By the time she gets back, she's loaded up with enough food to feed her family - except it's just for her and Koa.

"Here, you need to eat." She says, juggling the offerings and putting them down next to him.

"You play well. And sing well." She doesn't comment on whether she can or not. If she can, no ones ever hear her.

"How much do you think I eat?" Koa chuckles as he glances down. He's a big guy, he can put away a fair bit but he usually doesn't. Instead he lays the Ukulele aside and picks up one of the hotdogs. Deli mustard and onions. His favorite.

"You've been rather unusually quiet since we got back from Limbo." Granted eventually they had all slept but she has been a bit reserved today that he's noticed.

"And thank you. I've been doing both for a while." Though it took her a bit to actually get to see it.

"I don't know how much you eat. I know how much I eat though…." Keiko answers. She's terribly serious and since her time in Limbo, as far as Koa knows, she's not smiled once. "… and I'm hungry."

"Have I?" Been quiet she means, those cat slitted eyes look up into Koas as she answers. "I'm thinking. There's a lot I have to do to be ready. Some of it with Illyana but some of it, I have to do myself." He has to realise she's thinking what provisions need to be made for her daughter.

"You seem … very comfortable around the Dark—- Illyana"

Koa takes a bite and shifts his seating so he can look at Keiko while he talks to her. "I am. More comfortable than most get, likely. Also I don't think you have to be particularly careful about not saying her title. She doesn't appear to have a problem with it."

Indeed Keiko had been looked upon with some favor, or so it had seemed to Koa. She'd told her 'no more kneeling for you' and also had been very concerned that she survive what they were about to attempt.

"But yes. You're worried? About Elena, perhaps?"

"She might not, but it has power and here … she … her name is appropriate." beat "and I see… Did you resolve the issues of your Nightmares, then?" It's been awhile since they spoke on it and Keiko's collar hadn't been playing up … as much.

"I'm …" Koa should know better than to ask Keiko about her weaknesses. "I have things to put in place for my daughter, yes. If I don't come back … she …" beat "… will need people to look after her."

"There is her father, you know." Koa points out. "But making provisions in general would be good. That said, neither Illyana nor myself are going to let it happen lightly that you don't come back." Illyana seems to have a lot invested in Keiko and it is generally Koa's nature that he doesn't let people pay prices that he can pay himself. Sometimes he doesn't have a choice, but when he does… well… that's how he wound up in some of the situations he's wound up in.

"We did. Well. She did. Negotiated with the being tormenting me and then chastised me for not telling her sooner." And also wondered why WAND hadn't come to her because 'he's hers'. That might be interesting later.

"What arrangements do you think need to be made? WAND might be able to help with some of them."

Keiko doesn't say anything about Elena's father, letting that slide for the moment. "I … want her to know who I was, Koa." the peruvian finally says quietly. "If I'm not around, I want her to know her mother." Keiko keeps her emotions under tight control but for the first time in a long time, Koa can see the pain in her eyes.

"I want to make sure she has carers. There is Illyana, of course. I was hoping … you would …" she shakes her head and looks away, eating the hotdog that she's holding.

"I'm glad she freed you from Nightmare, Koa."

"If you don't make it and if by some chance I do…" Koa has to stipulate that because most of the scenarios in which Keiko dies also result in his death. In fact most of them result in the destruction of this reality. Even Illyana might not make it out of that, at least not in any form anyone cares to recognize. The whole thing is not something Koa wants to think on but considering this sort of outcome is literally his job. How can he plan for it otherwise?

"… then yes. I'll look in on Elena. As will her aunt I'm sure." And again. Her father. Piotr has been often away but if Keiko were gone then surely he would expect to be the girl's primary caregiver.

"I am too. I'm not sure how much longer I could have lasted, really." Koa admits that quietly. He probably still wouldn't have given up his friends but he may well have cracked in other ways. In fact he may have already cracked in other ways. Injuries that no one can see, that he doesn't know about or won't admit to himself.

"It would have been better if she had not." Comes a woman's voice from behind them both. Keiko and Koa will both know it. Ananym. Witchfire.

Keiko gives Koa a frown as he talks "You're coming into that plane with me?" He might try to get her and die trying but there's every possibility that she'll be attacked once she's in there and once she's in there, they don't know if they can get her back. "But if you would… "

She still has things that she needs to do but that settles her mind a little. That is until that voice sounds from behind them.

Quickly enough, the peruvian stands to face her. "Ananym. What do you want?"

Koa is not doing that no. He rather expects he'll be busy when it happens and anyway he doesn't have a way to interface with the network like she does. But he doesn't get to say that. Because there's trouble here.

She looks surprisingly normal. She's in jeans now and a white tee rather than the hooded and rather tattered coat she'd been in the last time.

"I wanted to get a look at you two. See you. Say how sorry I was that it has to be the way it is. Don't raise a fuss. I'd have to cut this short and the next time we meet won't be so friendly."

"You've already tried to kill us once." Koa poitns out in the friendliness department.

"I didn't want you to suffer Koa." She looks at Keiko. "Well, her I just wanted to get because the Darkchilde would have suffered."

"At least once." Keiko sort of corrects, glaring at Ananym as she stands there. "So that's why you stabbed Koa through the heart then? So he'd die quickly and not suffer? Sorry to tell you, but you failed. Just like you've failed at everything else so far."

It's no surprise that the other woman would want Keiko to suffer to get to Illyana. That doesn't even warrant acknowledging.

"What do you want?" She's not raising a fuss, but her fingers do curl about the rod she carries. Beating this woman to death sounds good.

"I wanted to see if you would reconsider about what side you were on. You have to know at this point what has been done to you." Done to them. As if Illyana had inflicted this on them on purpose. Or indeed as if there had been any solid purpose to it at all.

Koa glances at Keiko and shakes his head. He won't, of course. He knows she won't either.

Ananym seems to sense this and steps forward. "Then let me offer you a quick death. Even if you win, what's coming for you both is far, far worse."

"Done to me?" Keiko just stares at Ananym and shakes her head. "I was taken as child and inducted into a cult, I know well *what was done to me*. I will not change my mind, I am the Darkchildes now and forever."

With Ananyms next words, Keiko laughs bitterly. "You tried that once and failed. Are you really so stupid?" Yes, she's goading her. Anger makes people dangerous but it also makes them careless. "Yes, I rather think you are. Look at you. Fighting for … a dreadful excuse of a boss."

The rod extends to a staff as the peruvian stands there. "Do you really want to try the two of us together?"

Ananym takes a step back as the rod becomes a staff. Koa hasn't moved but Keiko knows he can be battle ready without doing so quite easily.

"You don't understand." The woman says in a frustrated tone of voice. "Look at yourself, Keiko! Look at what you're becoming. Do you really think when you're finished transforming you're going to be a fit mother for your child? At BEST you might be a toy for her, but that's all. Do you really think you'll still be you?! Tell her, Koa. You know what I'm saying is true."

"You can't know that Ananym." Koa says. "Stop all this. Let me take you to WAND. We can isolate you from Siffror. We can take you home to your family."

"I… I have my family now. And I'm making a home for them. I won't let you stop us. But I can be merciful. I can end your corruption before it gets too out of hand. Both of you. He's worse off than you are Keiko. His heart… tied to the very gate of the Elder Gods themselves."

"I understand, Ananym, that I have more freedom now than I've ever had in my life. I have a family a who love, a partner who looks out for me…" Koa gets a glance at that "… and a job that I'm proud to do. We all change and transform. Some more than others. We don't know what is happening to me, no one can. If I become a toy for my daughter, then I will be a good toy."

Do the words strike at Keiko's heart? Yes, yes they do. Does she show it? Not at all.

"Yes. So I've heard, Ananym. I saw who did it too. Was he one of yours? The horsefaced demon?" beat "You're welcome to try and stop me, if you like. You're just a child who plays at being warrior."

"The what? No, we don't have demons. Well except for occasional defectors." Apparently the horsefaced demon wasn't hers which is sort of all the more worrying. It means there's a third party in play and they don't know what it wants.

"I see I won't convince you, then… or you Koa."

Koa shakes his head. "I made my choice, Ananym."

The woman sets her mouth in a line. "We will meet again. I pray the fates are kind to you despite your stubbornness." She backs away and then turns to leave. No flashy magic. She just walks away over the green.

Koa sighs. "That's bad. On several levels." He says to Keiko. For one thing it means she knows how to find them. Koa probably. Keiko was occulted. Hidden from magical sight. Koa though, was not.

Though attacking him directly would be a bit tricky.

"Pray to Siffror, Ananym. It will do you little good. What do you think the God of the Lifeless Realms will do to you and yours when he's done with you?" Keiko frowns as Ananym just walks away. "I can call Cullen to follow her …"

"Because she can find us? She knows where I live. Yes, the house is warded but all it would take is to wait outside and jump me. And why didn't she attack us now? Or use her magic to leave?" That makes her wonder.

"What other levels am I missing?" beat "And why try to take us like this, Koa? This doesn't make sense. You don't approach an enemy like this unless they're stronger and you think you could intimidate or weaken them."

"Do it." Koa says very quietly. "Just shadow her. I want to know where she's going." If she just pops through another portal that's all well and good but if she's going to contact supporters in the city, Koa needs to know who and where.

"I don't know why she didn't leave by magic. I suspect she was not prepared to attack us now or hoped she wouldn't have to. As to why speak to us… I suspect Ananym is not doing all as strategically as she otherwise might. She's got personal investment in this and I can't say what all of it is but some of it is she wants to pay me back for being the agent who was looking for her when she was kidnapped."

The rest of it? Unclear.

"But just because SHE may not be playing a larger game doesn't mean Siffror isn't. If she's making offers like this it's only because he wants her to, and those are the other levels. He might hope there's an off chance that one of Illyana's will start to question her, but he has to know that's a long shot. So he's got to be after something else. Like…"

Koa's eyes narrow and he sighs. "A good look at the both of us. Yeah… that's rpobably it."

Keiko touches the tattoo of Cullen and a few seconds later a large Barghest appears. It snuffles at Koa's hand and looks at Keiko who gestures. "Hunt, Cullen. Keep your distance your distance though." There's a weird double vision that Keiko gets when her pets are tracking like this. Koa should be used to the odd look in the Peruvians eyes.

"If she wasn't prepared to attack us now, then this was orchestrated…" Keiko nods as Koa sums things up. "Trust me when I say, most kidnapped children who end up like me, don't … think about revenge. They become so indoctrinated that …" she shakes her head. "If Ananym wants revenge, she's not unredeemable, Koa and that might give us an edge."

Keiko winces at the thought that Siffror wanted a look at them. "He will know that we were the ones to betray Plokta to him, then. And he'll know how far gone each of us are."

"And he'll know what exactly has happened to the both of us." The last time they ran into Siffror, Keiko's back tattoo was very new. Now she's gotten used to it and it has gotten used to her. Koa didn't have 'teeth' filled in on his neck either. And he hadn't been put through the wringer by Nightmare, rescued by the Darkchilde and much as Keiko, openly declared that he was hers.

So yes. There's a LOT of valuable information that just having an agent look at them could reveal.

"He knows better than to make a move against Illyana…" Koa is thinking out loud. Keiko will be used to that. "He… ah. He wants to know what the other pieces in the game are. This might mean that our plan to sabotage the networks is going to be a tighter squeeze than I thought." It's still their best chance but they're going to want to get on it.

"If she wants revenge, yes Keiko. But… does she? Or is she just acting on the last shreds of humanity she has left?"

"Either way Koa - wanting revenge means she has a shred of humanity left. Something that's rebelling. You can play on that. We… maybe. I waited till I was nearly … twenty one I think … before I ran but all the time, there was something inside me that knew there was more …"

It's a think angle but an angle none the less and one that might save them in the long run.

"Yes, what would you do, if you were Siffror?" Keiko watching the way that Cullen went. "He's still following her. Keeping his distance … If it was me, I would hit at the most vulnerable. Caden, Piotr and Elena. They all mean something to me and Illyana. And you, you'll sacrifice yourself for a rice cracker sometimes."

"Hey if it buys the rice cracker a better life…" Koa snorts. He knows she's exaggerating but yes. He's been very willing to lay himself down. In some ways it's as if he thought he deserved no better.

"If I were Siffror I would move to close the vulnerability. But I don't think he can in this case. I expect he WILL make a move though. Just means we need to make ours more quickly."

Koa takes a deep breath and finally picks up his hot dog again.

"Before yesterday all of this hinged on Illyana. Now it hinges on both of you. That means you need to be very, very careful until we've got this done."

"How did I know you were going to say that…" Keiko gives Koa one of her flat looks. The one that never seems to have any effect on him. "He can't close the vulnerability but that doesn't mean he won't try and try to shake us by doing so. Let me call the School and have them put some extra eyes on Elena. Do you have Cadens number? Call him and tell him to watch out too."

She snorts at his last piece of advice "And when am I ever not? I work and I go home and that's about it. I'm not going to do anything that will jeopardise this, Koa. I'll die trying to stop it but I won't die till then."

"It's true." Koa stubbornly holds his ground on that one. "I don't have Caden's number no, but it won't be hard to find." Illyana will have it if nothing else though that is probably not the first place Koa will look. She can be out of contact sometimes, after all.

"Call the school. And then we should get moving. Let me know if Cullen picks up anything unusual." Otherwise they'll make note that Ananym is definitely in the area and if the chance arises to take her off the board… act on it.

Before she acts on them.

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