2019-10-15 - What Do You Keep Hidden?


A trip to a Cryptography convention turns out to be anything but.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Oct 15 05:26:37 2019
Location: Staten Island

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There is a reason that ancient Greek writers assigned not one but three of their gods to the administration of Fate. They believed the grand pattern ruled the lives of both men and gods. In modern times that is scoffed at by people enamored with the notion of free will but those like Alexander Aaron know better.

As with most things, it's complicated. It isn't that all lives are predistined, not by a long shot. But there are hidden designs that make things happen just so. The favored method is 'coincidence'. Things that just happen to occur while the right people are in the area.

So it is surely a coincidence then that there is a cryptographers convention on the grounds of the school that Alexander attends. And it is surely coincidence that the convention is happening right across a route that he travels frequently. And it is surely a coincidence that in the middle of it is another convention entirely. One of secrets and hidden beings, hiding in plain sight. Step into a little lecture hall and it's all suddenly much stranger with minotaurs and goblins and nyads and maenads and tengu and kappa and all manner of things that decidedly aren't human. Going about their business, unnoticed by anyone but those who fate brings to find them.

Oh, and of course this hall is much much bigger on the inside.

Happenstance is entirely the reason for the blond youth's presence in the hall somehow in the depths of New York University and yet somehow not at all. Much like that bar in the city with its magical entryways and portals to various parts of the world, this convention seemed to exist on another facet on this particular shard of reality. It is a place of heavy enchantment, and magical abundance all around with so many beings… and likely with several forms of enchantment to prevent the simply passerby to realize what it is.
So when someone so apparently 'normal' looking as Alexander Aaron enters and gives the place the once over, smiling as he starts to move about the crowd… not all the looks sent his way are exactly what one would call neutral. Some of them are actually somewhat unfriendly. And perhaps even some from the Shinto supernatural side of things… might well be pointedly hostile.
But such is life, not everyone can be pleased, nor should one try to do so. And Alexander is there for now, moving to observe the small areas set up for education and business, but what grabs his attention first… is the seemingly alive messageboard with its extravagant floral embellishments, likely a creature from the Wild of the Fae. But at the moment Alex finds the schedule of events more interesting.

Of course a Cryptographers Convention would capture Barbara Gordons attention. She's no slouch when it comes to programming a computer. Whilst not the best of the best, she's certainly up in the top echelons - six years in a wheelchair provides a lot of time to learn.

It's the displays that caught her attention and the reason the redhead is making her way slowly through the entrance of the hall, leaning on her cane heavily. She recognises Alex, of course, but apart from a faint polite smile as they pass, she doesn't give any other recognition.

There's the booth that she wanted, just over there. Crytpocurrency.

It's the hint of a wing that tells Barbara that she has maybe stepped out of her element. A dragonfly wing. Just for a moment. And then a glimpse of a horn around a corner. Slowly, steadily, she finds herself drawn inward despite whatever intentions she might have, toward that little lecture hall where the sign says 'Cryptography and the Secrets of the Sixth World'.

That seems a little out of place but it DOES sound interesting does it not.

Wait. Is that… that man over there. The young one. Looks like a student. Is that… Kitty?

Another chance glance to catch the youth there, Alexander is standing in a small area with a bevy of individuals of particular interest to the mystical world though he might not be entirely fully aware of the for what they are. The place where he had wandered to after reading the event calendar left him to stand in front of a display that proclaimed proudly, // How We Influenced The War! //
And down on the tables were little runic engravings seemingly lifeless yet some may insist they carried with them the tales of the arcane. Perhaps to someone knowledgeable of the mystic arts might be able to perceive whatever it is these magic pamphlets might be trying to convey, but likely Alex does not have the craft to do so.
Instead he's standing there, chatting pleasantly with two androgynous beings, attractive and pleasant and unlikely to stand out save for their beauty and the flared beetle wings that they 'wear'.
"So the enigma machine, that was you guys?" Alex asks.
"More our cousins, but yes. You'd be surprised the areas we touched."

Babs is just tired, that's why she's seeing things right? She's a logical woman who believes in the real world. Or does she? She's seen things recently that make her wonder, her green eyes narrow a little as she follows Alex - a few steps behind.

Coming to a rest beside the man as he speaks the people, the redhead looks a little perplexed. "The only Sixth World I know of is a dystopian corporation run future. When you have time, perhaps you might explain …"

She's pleasant and offers Alex a slightly warmer smile "Forgive me for interrupting."

"The Sixth World is the present world, which started in the last century as people began to explore realities powered by oil, and then atomic fire and finally information. It's sometimes called the Sixth Sun." One of the beings talking to Alex replies to Babs.

"Then it must be recent. The Mayans called their era the Fifth Sun and it only ended in 2012 did it not?" The person who asks is a Japanese man, very serious looking in a leather coat. No swords but by build and voice it shouldn't be too hard for Alex to realize who he is. Babs of course has other reasons for knowing that.

The beings smile. "A popular misconception, but one that our panel will address in a few hours. You should come see it."

The Asian man nods and looks to the other two. "Gordon-san. Hello. And to you as well sir." That's to Alex. "I did not mean to interrupt."

A step back and a turn of the shoulders is all that's needed to allow Barbara and Ken further into the small conversational circle. The two beings with wings seem amenable to their joining, though the shrouded figure who sits behind the display and the kiosk folds his arms gruffly with an audible 'grumph'.
"Please," Alex says, that friendly and light tone of voice she's heard from him when he's on 'social auto-pilot' when he's simply trying to fit in. "We were talking about the splitting of fae intervention into aspects of World War II, amongst other things." He turns to look at the figures.
One of those figures bobs its head pleasantly, "And beyond."
"But yeah," Alex says, elaborating a bit on what the other said, "Sixth World. Though…" He looks back and asks, "Didn't that fellow that learned from Herodotus…" Accurate citing that, "Mention that there was a movement to split the ages up further?" Making it all the more complicated.

Well, this is … awkward. Good thing that Babs is practiced at this. "Harada-san. I am surprised to see you here." The smile the man gets is warm though. "A pleasant surprise, actually. What brings you this way?" she adds before turning to Alex and the beings.

"So the Mayan Fifth Sun and your Sixth Sun are different then? I know. We should attend the lecture." She … might just do that. Out of curiosity. If she has the time.

"Barbara Gordon." She introduces herself to Alex and holds out a hand. "Not a student of the histories like you seem to be."

"Hey, good to meet you." Alex offers at first as he gets a better vibe for Harada and then says casually, "They have a really interesting exposition on masks and their cultural significance in a few hours." Though he's not wearing one at the moment. But he seems still a bit pleased or amused, then he turns back to the social circle and accepts Barbara's introduction as he takes her hand.
A small shake is given, just business-like and precise before he draws back. "Alexander Aaron. But I wouldn't say student more just… if the Greeks had anything to do with something he was all into it, Herodotus as well."
And for some reason at that statement some of the beings around them are inclind to give a polite chuckle.

"Yes," The fae being answers Phobos with a certain level of enthusiasm. "And that's one of the things we're here to talk about. It's partly about the way that people categorize things and get them wrong, but it's ALSO partly about hiding information. After all, people can't figure out what to do with an Age if they're still arguing about which one we're in."

Bab's question gets a smile. "Very perceptive, but allegedly the same. It's just that the Mayans had the dating slightly off. Hard to fault them. They were clever for their time and-"

There's something out of the corner of Babs eye. A little flitting. Or maybe not so little. Phobos may or may not sense it when a muscled man with wings 'lands' lightly behind him and the wings vanish. Like the other newcomer, he's Japanese.

"Hello Flit. Float. Who have we here?"

"Oh just people attending the convention." Either flit or Float reply.

"Indeeeeeeed." There's a look given to Babs and Alex. A look that's rather… intense.

"Pleased to meet you, Alexander." Babs turns at the flutter, wanting to hear the end of Flit or Floats statement but she can tell a predator when she sees one. "Indeed." She answers the being cooly but politely.

He's looking at her like the Joker or the Penguin might.

Stepping back, to beside Ken, Babs leans on that cane as she assesses the newcomer. "Are you giving the lecture in a little bit on the ages?" She sincerely doubts it.

"That makes sense," Alexander says to the Fae about needing to come to an agreement on terms when there are larger issues facing them. He nods a few times then smiles away from Flit and Float, lifting a hand to wave cheerfully toward the large muscular being with the wings. The greeting is accompanied with a casual, "Hi." As if this were the most natural thing in the world to be around.
"You know how it is." Alexander begins in perhaps his most infuriatingly casual tone of voice when discussing such a thing that many people find objectionable. "Kismet, Karma, Fate, Happenstance." He folds his arms over his chest, perhaps giving some insight into his true feelings as he adds. "Sometimes things just come about for a reason."
There's a nod given towards Ken and then Babs, his brows furrowing slightly before he looks back to the Japanese winged fellow. "Personally. I think it's mainly just that Clotho is a jerk."

The muscular man returns the smile and holds a hand to his head as if trying to recall. "Let me see. Alexander Aaron. Barbara Gordon. Kenuichio Harada. Do I have that right?"

The Asian man, Ken, quirks a brow and nods. "Have we met?"

"No but as Alexander here just said, some things just happen for a reason. And it's less that Clotho is a jerk and more that she has her own ways of amusing herself. And her own Agenda. Or is that Verdandi? It's hard to keep them straight sometimes. No, Barbara. I am not giving that lecture but… I think you should come with me around the corner. I had not expected to see the three of you here but since you are I think there's something you all should see. Together. Since you will or maybe have been, viewing a lot of things together…" He pauses.

"Oh. I'm Shin. Nice to meet you. If we haven't met already that is."

He motions to the three headed for an area that's curtained off. Not really anything that keeps people from walking in and yet… no one seems to be just walking in either.

Ken glances to Babs and then to Alex and then gestures as if to say 'shall we?' Though they might balk a little. There's an electric feeling coming from the area. Something of… serious power.

"As my friend didn't introduce himself…" Babs smiles at Alex "This is Kenuichio Harada. Harada-san, Alexander Aaron." For the moment, the redhead doesn't acknowledged Shin, though she doesn't take her eyes off him.

The beings assentation gets a quirk of her red brow. "We haven't met, Shin-san. I would remember if we have. But I take it … time is … fluid with you?"

No, she really doesn't want to go around the corner. This man is strange and strange men seem to like to shoot her. But Ken is moving, and likely Alex, so Babs moves, her cane ticking on the floor as she uses it.

"I … where are you taking, Shin-san?"

One of the problems of spending time with Alexander is that around him one might at times develop an attitude of, 'Why not?' It's common for his sort of blase attitude about the world and what risks it may hold when one is not affected by fear nor trepidation. Some might consider it arrogance, since in some ways he feels as if there's little that he can't overcome. But how much of that is confidence in his skills and more just that he doesn't /really/ feel fear very often.
And the thing is, he also sort of causes an aura of courage around those he spends time with since his attitude can be quite infectious for those he considers 'on his side.'
So /of course/ his answer to Shin is a casual, "Sure!" And he follows after.

"Not far." Shin responds. "As I said there's something I want you to see…"

The curtain is pulled aside and Shin steps in. When the others follow they see a marble pedestal with a small violet glowing gem placed atop it. Around that gem is a barely visible ripple in the air that extends out in a cylinder eight feet in every direction. And inside that cylinder there's grass. The lecture hall doesn't seem to exist. Just grass, a little bit of a stream flowing through it. And flowers. And bees. And sunshine.

Shin waits until everyone is present and watching and then he steps into that area. And just like that he's something else. Not human. He's…

"Tengu…" Ken breathes. "Winged mountain goblins of Japan."

"The very same. Time is fluid with me Barbara because time is fluid for everyone. But people don't realize how to turn back the clock to… times they might prefer."

"What is this…" Babs asked as they move behind the curtain. "This is all rather irregul- oh, well then." She doesn't start, but there's no way she's getting closer at the moment. "Tengu? Named after demons if I remember my reading at all."

Which, of course, she does.

"Is this what you wanted us to see? If so why? As to time being fluid, you seem to have trouble deciding when you are - I'm not sure that's such a good thing at all."

A time she might prefer? When would Babs go, if she had the choice.

"What do you two know of this?" That's to Ken and Alex.

Once behind the curtain, Alexander strolls in just far enough to get an eyeful of the pedestal and the glowing gem, though he eyes the depiction of a peaceful vista as it's presented to him. He looks over at Ken, however, when he mentions the name of 'Tengu' as well as their explanation. There's no twitch of derision on his features, though he does sort of twist them up into a sort of scowl hat would make McKayla Maroney proud.
He takes a deep breath and looks at Barbara, then Ken in turn before he looks back toward Shin and lets that breath go with a calm exhalation. However he is moved to answer Barbara as he says with a small smile, "I don't know much of it, Barbara." He looks over toward Shin and Ken and admits this failing openly. "Ever since my childhood I've sorta… cultivated a state of ignorance about some aspects of mystical Japanese beings. Other than what's kinda been forced on me." What with everything that's passed.

Ken shakes his head. "I know what the stories say, but little else." Which is true, Kenuichio's encounters with otherworldly beings don't really cover the fairy tales of his homeland.

"This is what I wanted you to see yes. A prior time. A better time. A world in which everyone can be who they are. Would that not be better? People spend a lot of time… hiding."

"People? Or beings like you?" Kenuichio asks.

"Beings like me. Beings like him." He points to Alexander. "Beings like her." To Babs.

"Of the group I think you're the one hiding the least, Kenuichio. But you still have things you'd rather people not discuss. Wouldn't you."

Shin looks between the three. "And if I'm not mistaken you three will do a lot of discussing."

"We are … in the past here?" Babs asks slowly. She's really not stupid but at the moment she wonders herself. "No. It would not be better. Some people are monsters on the inside and hide that behind a veneer of civility. I don't care to see what they really are."

"I am a human." She says deflecting the Tengu's 'accusation'. "That is all." That's true. Batgirl is just human - an extremely well trained and equipped one.

To the group she shakes her head "I discuss things with Harada-san, it is true. Over tea." Right now she wishes she had a Batarang to stick between this Tengu's eyes.

"Not a fan of Japanese mythology, Alexander?"

"Not really," Alexander says with arms still folded as he continues to look not exactly thrilled. But to be fair he's not being exactly condemning either. "Winged Mountain Goblins sounds like a euphemism for some sort of medical condition." Ok that was mildly condemning.
He pushes away from his place, arms unfolding finally as he frowns and looks behind them, as if expecting something to be wandering up as they chat amiably. Then it's back to the Tengu, "I don't have a connection to a time past that I consider a better time. I have a connection to this time with all of its flaws and foibles."
He lifts a hand to rest it on the back of his neck, "But it's nice I suppose you're offering to let those of us you deem worthy to tag along on your world changing plan. Since yeah, that sort of thing never goes wrong."

"Tag along? You misunderstand me. I wanted you to know what it is you are opposing so that you can really think about if you want to do so." Shin smiles. "And, when it finally happens despite your efforts, I want you to know what you're in for. Maybe you'll survive it. Maybe not. Go ahead and take a look if you like. Take notes. Maybe it will convince you."

Shin steps out from the effect and his appearance shifts to that of a man again. He heads back in the direction of the hall.

"And I really do suggest you attend the lecture. It's fascinating, Barbara. You in particular might get things out of it. Things about… the danger of hiding from the reality of what is."

"I don't think, Alex, that he's …." Barbara starts but fades as Shin finishes the thought more succinctly. "You want us to … explore this setting, learn it?" It's just a field isn't it? A very nice one, to be sure, but a field none the less.

"You're not making much sense, you know that?" she finally mutters, quirking a brow at the Tengu for his last warning. "At least I'm not confused whether I've met someone yet or not." She points out before looking to the two men with her. No, she's not revealing what she knows or who she really is.

There are too many secrets that she keeps for that.

Alexander waits a bit for the man to take a few more paces when the youth says a little sourly, "Sir, I regret to inform you. It's… you have a chronic case of Winged Mountain Goblins." His tone isn't terribly humorous, maybe he's dead-panning, or maybe he's just not too pleased about what's being thrown his way.
Then he looks over at Barbara and Ken and adds, "I'm afraid there is no known cure." But then he takes in a deep breath and holds it, grumbling to himself about it for some reason that has him perhaps acting a touch away from the norm.
"Could be a portal to another time, easy way to get people out of the way somewhat." He straightens up a little and says, "My dad always said don't trust a stranger's portals, right up there with don't take candy from them, or get in their van."

"And it is invariably fatal." Kenuichio mutters. He's looking at the pedestal and walks over to the edge of it. He sticks a hand into the area and as he does it changes to be coated with samurai armor. Blinking Ken withdraws his hand and then pushes it forward again. Armor once more.

"Well. This is entirely out of the ordinary and I regret I have less than any idea what it has to do with you both. But perhaps we should discuss it later. Over tea at my dojo."

Barbara knows where that is but for Alexander Ken produces a card.

"Now if you will both pardon me. I do not think I wish to spend much more time in proximity to this thing. I shall be back in the conference if you wish to find me."

And with that he heads back and away. "Barbara, if nothing else we will speak of this when next you visit."

That might be something to discuss with Alex later. But either way, for now, Ken has had enough of this.

"I hope it's not transmittable." Barbara adds, watching as Shin saunters away.

When Ken moves her eyes follow, green eyes widening as the armour appears. Oh no. No way is she going near that - that's a dead giveaway.

"I agree with you, Harada-san. I'm not one for hiking, as you can see. I think I'm going to finish my tour of the conference and attend that lecture. It might be enlightening or it might be done by a crackpot.

"I look forward to tea …" With a look to Alex, Barbara starts to move off "If you would like to walk with me, I've no objection to the company. I don't talk a lot though, be warned."

The card is accepted and Alexander smiles then to offer a nod, at least one positive thing came of the events here. He tucks it away into the pocket of his jeans. He lifts a hand to wave after Harada as he departs, then nods again towards Barbara.
"Sure, one second." He holds up a hand toward her as he turns and steps over a few steps back to the portal on the pedestal. He extends one hand toward it, and over his form seems to slither the depiction of bronze armor, clinking together into place to cover his wrist and fingers and forearm. His eyes widen a little.
"Oh neat." He leans in closer and then leeeeeans further in until his head and arm get the treatment, letting him turn back to face her. A sileverish circular shield rests on his arm with the Spartan Logo Vector on its face. His head becomes encompassed in what looks like a metal helm but when he speaks is actually his face turned… bronze, though he wears a large crested helm with a bright red coloration.
His voice has a distant hollow echo to it, "Can you take a picture?" If phones work here.

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