2020-01-16 - To Track A Keiko


Koa tracks Keiko down after she leaves Adirondack National Park. (Backdated scene)

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu Jan 16 05:38:14 2020
Location: Botanic Gardens

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Keiko had left Adirondack National Park and just flown. It wasn't really Keiko who had left - well, it was and it wasn't. Either way, it had taken her long enough to return to New York proper. Not home, though - she wasn't going there.

By the time Koa catches up with her, she's found a spot by the river that runs through the Botanic Gardens and is crouched, wings folded against her back, watching the water. If there had been ducks there, it's not clear - there aren't now.

The obsidian scale armour still covers her body, making her resemble the flyer that she bound.

"You know we have retrieval teams for this kind of thing, Koa." That's Pandora Peters on the phone as Koa is driving. This is the reason he owns a truck and a 4x4 to boot. Driving offroad is necessary more often than for most people.

"Yes I do, which is why I'm doing this. They'll get themselves beat to hell. She's got a stick you know."


"Stick. A big stick." Koa reaches over to the phone. "I'm nearly here. Call you when I've got her." And then he kills the call.

The truck pulls up about a hundred yards away and Koa gets out. The only hint that something had been wrong a little bit ago is the fact that his eyes are solid silver orbs.

"Keiko…" The agent has his gun but doesn't have it drawn.

It's probably a good thing they haven't taught Keiko how to use a gun properly. She's a terror with that staff, not stick!, and who knows what she'd do with a gun.

Koa's collar has been pulsing since she left, indicating that something isn't quite right with the small peruvian.

As the WAND agent approaches, Keiko looks up - yellow eyes glowing and fangs bared. There's no sign of her staff, but it's never far from her hand.

The peruvian hisses, eyes narrowing, though Koa can see her jaw clench and feel his collar send a jolt through him.

"Go away."

Koa winces and rubs at the silvery lines on his neck. "No. Also ow." He looks at her carefully. She is fully demonic which means the spirit in the tattoo is out and in full force. That spirit doesn't like him very much and it's no wonder that Keiko herself might not want him around right now.

"Tell me you didn't eat the wildlife mmm? That's not good for you." That's partly a joke but it probably isn't in fact great for her. "Keiko get ahold of yourself."

The spirit doesn't like much - least of all Keiko. If it can hurt her, it will. The yellow eyes flash and watch the water for a moment. "Not good eating. Too stringy." She answers in growl, before looking back up at Koa.

"Trying …" And there it is again, the sharp pain. This time, the scales start to recede slowly as Keiko starts to take control. "… go away. Don't want you to see me like this…"

Why had she chosen the botanical gardens? Surely there was a bellfry or tower she could have perched on.

"Like I haven't seen you like that before." Koa snorts. He rests one hand on the butt of his pistol and settles. It gives him a vaguely cowboy look the way his hip is slightly cocked. "What's the worry, huh? Just focus on your breathing and don't think about the network or G'frn or anything like that. Think about Elena and Piotr."

That's sure to lower her blood pressure right? Thinking about Elena and Piotr?

He hasn't really. Not this bad and not struggling to control the spirit. Normally she can banish it well enough. Normally she doesn't run off either.

"Are they alright? Elena?" That gets that glowing yellow eyed look. It probably hasn't helped a lot, putting her mind on her daughter, but the scales recede even further, leaving a bare armed Keiko, crouched by the river starting a Koa.

The collar has spiked several times during that battle - if it's hurting Koa, it has to be hurting Keiko and yet she doesn't show it.

"Why are you still here?" There's anger in her voice as she speaks to Koa. Not the flat, controlled tone she normally uses. "Why are you here at all?"

"You were planning on getting home otherwise how exactly?" Koa says, quirking a brow. "I didn't want you to bet up a retrieval team. So I figured I would come get you and everyone goes home happy and nonhospitalized."

Unspoken, Koa is fairly confident he can take Keiko in a fight if it comes to it though the last time they had done this it had been a fairly close run affair.

"Why are you here anyway? There's a dozen places you could have flown off to. Why here?"

"Walk. Or fly." Keiko answers, the anger and frustration still evident in her voice though she's slowly pulling that back to the neutral, emotionally constipated, tone she normally uses.

"And you weren't worried that I would hurt you?" The last time, she'd stood down and had control of her demon to a much greater degree. This time?

Looking around at the garden, the peruvian kicks her legs out and sits. It's not warm, but she doesn't seem to care at the moment. "I forced it here. I … Piotr bought me here not long after we got back. It's … peaceful."

"Not seriously, no." Koa says. He finds a tree to lean against and leans. Unlike Keiko he's got a coat on. One that says SHIELD on the back. Sort of like an FBI windbreaker but… trendier. And less obviously cheap and government.

"And you thought you could get ahold of it here?" Koa says. He watches Keiko as she tries to control her anger and emotion and sighs.

"You know what the trouble is don't you?"

Keiko's jacket, along with her backpack, should be in Koa's truck. "You better hope you never find out." Is all she says to the Agent, though. The last time it had been close. "You think I would hurt others, though."

"I … don't know." It's the first time in a very long time that Koa has heard Keiko say those words. "I … just remembered I liked it and didn't think there'd be many people around." There's still some of Keiko left when the demon takes over - and she'd clearly been trying to think straight.

"What trouble? I'm corrupted and corrupting and I've no self discipline. You should put a bullet in me and end it."

"I think you'd send them home with some bruises. Maybe some broken bones." A bunch of agents coming here telling her to get in the van probably wouldn't have gone over well. Nor would a pair of magi with warding charms. None of that would have gone over well.

"Actually I was going to say the opposite. You've got too much discipline. Most of the time you've got all the emotion of slightly wet paint. You never let anything out. You're afraid to, I think. And when stuff like this happens as a result you're a bit overwhelemed. You can't keep it all inside and it seems to slip your control as a result."

It's likely the magi wouldn't have got near her. Keiko's learned a lot since Koa first met and she was good then - but seven years in Limbo and WAND training has just improved on that.

"Probably. They would deserve it for trying me." The peruvian answers, the even tone slowly returning as they talk.

Koa's not being fair to wet paint, really. That has more emotion than Keiko most of the time.

"You don't show emotion, Koa. It's not done. If I did in the camp, I was punished. In Limbo, it signified weakness." Maybe she is afraid though there's an awful lot of conditioning there. "The demon, it fights me when I get angry and with the others gone …" she sighs, looking at the bare skin on her arms. "… it's harder to control."

"I show plenty of emotion, especially compared to you." Koa snorts. His hand finally comes off the butt of his weapon. "It uses your anger, and you've been angry often. And afraid. And fear leads to anger. And anger to hate. And hate to suffering."

The WAND agent pauses to see if Keiko realizes that he has just quoted the Empire Strikes Back. Which should at minimum get a roll of the eyes if not a laugh.

"Demons know how to use anger. And fear. It's their native land. And it's always going to be better at it than you because it's older. You need to have something else. Something it doesn't understand and isn't good at manipulating."

Which is why he brought up her daughter. "Elena is fine, by the way, so far as I know. As is Piotr."

"I didn't mean 'you'. I meant …" Keiko shakes her head. It was lost in the translation, clearly. "I don't know how to, Koa. It's all very good for all of you to say 'just do it', it's all I've known for most of life."

Even when they'd first met, she'd been reserved. Nowhere near as bad as this but it was still there. "And I'm not your padawan." She got the reference. Of course she did - pop culture queen that is … was.

As vulnerable as Keiko is right now, she can't hide the relief to hear that Elena is well. It softens her face and the thought of the moppet makes her nearly shine. It's one reason Illyana had melded Keiko's memory of her mothers love into the collar - but it's something that Keiko has forgotten.

"I don't want them to sully my memory of my daughter …"

"They can't if you guard it. Guard it like you would guard her. Keep her memory sacred. Make a place where you can center yourself." Koa might be talking a bit like a Jedi or a fortune cookie but he knows all too well what emotional control does for people who wield arcane forces.

"Find joy and let it be your armor. Wear it and don't let the demons take it away from you. Do that and they'll have a lot less power over you. And possibly you won't need to fight them so hard. They'll be weaker."

The Agent levers off his tree and looks around. "This is a nice place. What was it like when Piotr took you here?"

Keiko gives Koa a look. "I don't know what joy is, Koa." She shakes her head and picks up a pebble from the grass beside her. With a practiced flick, the stone skips across the water - yellow eyes following it to the other bank.

Maybe she can just start by remembering how Elena makes her feel.

"It is nice. There were ducks and the sun was shining. It must have been close to the start of Summer? Not long after we got back …" From Limbo she means. "It was one of the first times we actually spoke without arguing …"

It seems so long ago.

"How do you do it? Control your predator?"

"Very carefully." Koa says. "It's a balance. I have to let it have some things. But I can't let it have everything it wants. Like any other part of me, and my predator is part of me." An aspect of Koa's psyche. A warped aspect of it but an aspect all the same."

The WAND agent takes a few steps forward. "Joy is what you just felt when you thought of Elena being safe. Joy is what you felt when she was born. Joy is what you feel like when you think of her growing up happy and safe." Koa's never had a child, but a mother's bond to her child is well… known.

"I was terrified, Koa, when she was born." Keiko admits, shifting a bit so he can sit if he wants. The collars have stopped hurting and although her eyes are still yellow, they aren't glowing anymore. "Terrified they'd hurt her. Terrified I'd hurt her."

Keiko shakes her head. "I'm not a mother, Koa. You have to know that." That's not true, but she isn't a 'typical' mother.

"I … can try though. I miss my other spirits, Koa. I … was just getting to … be friends with them."

"Do you have a daughter? Do you love her? That makes you a mother and you're no less qualified to be one than anyone else who has never been a mother. Which is every woman who has never had a child before."

"You'll get them back. The quicker we have this network taken apart then the quicker we can get them all back. How far do you think you damaged it the last time you were in it?" He doubts it's completely down but what she did to G'frn had to have SOME kind of an effect.

Keiko doesn't answer the first question. It's part of her process, to not argue. Koa will call it emotional constipation, he might be right.

"I hope so. I see Arananet with Miss Potts and wonder if she might not just be better off with her, though." She sighs, skipping another pebble across the river in front of them. She's shivering a little now.

"A bit. More than I expected to. I doubt they'll be able to repair it. I want to see another one in the network but I suspect they'll be weaker. I hurt G'rfn a lot when I was in there." Which reminds Keiko… "How's Agent May and Darkstar?"

"They're okay. Darkstar is unconscious and needs medical but my sense is she will live. Agent May is as Agent May ever is. Frowny and… Asian."

Like a disapproving Chinese relative. With knives. And a gun.

"I do not think in the long term PEPPER is better off with a spirit that will inevitably if slowly corrupt her. Same for Steve." And the others she has given out. Some of them are in jars but he knows the spirits will eventually wither if they are left.

"So we need to get this done and take them back."

"You're right of course." Keiko mutters about Pepper. "I just don't think Arananet is going to like coming back to me. Or Mirlo. Glydril might …" The dragon had literally dragged Steve half way across New York to see her.

"Well, do you want to go and do the next one then?" Keiko starts to rise, dusting her trousers off. Her hair has fallen from its pony tail - and is a bit of a mess. But none it makes Keiko more resolute to try and get this finished.

"If we need a next one, which I suspect we do." Of course there may be more problems. But he doesn't think so. It sounded like Eclipse and Darque had been stuck or trapped in the Network and Koa does rather wonder what they were doing there but he can't very well ask them now.

"I have a couple of ideas where to go next. We've mapped the network so we have a fairly good idea where it's critical points are. The next one, though, isn't local."

Meaning they'll need to get to the teleportarium, probably.

"What are you waiting for then?" Keiko looks at Koa. "We've hurt them, we have to keep moving. If we wait, it will give them time to regroup."

She considers as that stoic nature seems to settle back over. "What were those two doing there, anyway? Darque and Eclipse? It sounded like they had been caught in the network. I wonder if that was the case to begin with or if we somehow trapped them when we messed with Sifror and the like."

"I was wondering the same thing. I'd love to ask them but we don't exactly have them to hand do we? Given the way that the darkforce energy was interfering with things I suspect they'd gone in there deliberately and something had gone wrong."

Koa takes a breath and motions for Keiko to follow him back toward the truck. "Possibly Plokta is trying to find his way back into this game. Which is worrying but I don't think it's something we can deal with now. Are you hurt at all?" No one had a chance to look but she was armored and that should have protected her quite a bit.

"Maybe next time I'll ask them to tea instead of trying to hit them with my staff." It's delivered deadpan but it's highly possible she's joking. "I mean, it worked so well for Elena with Agent May."

No, no it didn't.

Keiko doesn't look injured, cold and bruised but there's no major injuries evident. "If I said I was, would you say we have to wait?" There's a shake of her head though. "Not in any way that matters, anyway."

The peruvian follows Koa back to his truck and swings herself up into the passenger seat. "I want you to teach me to drive."

"Hit them with your staff and THEN ask them to tea. The concussion may make them think that's a good idea." Koa can joke too. He smirks a little bit over at Keiko as they get to the truck and get in.

"Sure. That is probably something you should learn. Just not in my truck." He's going to grab a SHIELD vehicle to teach her. Because he doesn't pay the insurance on that. Weirdly he's less worried about her crashing it than he is about her getting frustrated and ripping the streering wheel off.

"It would depend on how bad it was." Some levels of injury you can work with, especially on a time crunch. Some levels of injury are just too dangerous.

Keiko's not that strong. She's skilled and she's fast. Or, at least, she hasn't been strong. Does the demon give her more than that? Might be interesting to see.

The small peruvian doesn't settle immediately, but scrambles around till she finds her SHIELD jacket and shrugs into it. "Put the heater on. It's not as warm here as it was in Limbo." She may never learn to phrase things as a request again.

"We can start that tomorrow, then." Learning to drive she means. Koas last statement just gets a sharp nod "Then all you need to know is that I'm not hurt in any way that matters." She wouldn't tell him if she was, anyway.

Koa snorts. At least she isn't telling him what music to play. Which is good because when he turns it on there isn't any music. And he's a concentrating a bit. He does pause to text Pandora to say that he's got Keiko and they're on the move again. He gets a 'thinking' emoji in response which makes him snort more.

"We can start that tomorrow if we don't get ourselves beat up finishing what we're doing now. Anyway. It's going to be a drive back into New York." Because they're upstate. "Did you want a burger or something on the way back?"

Music? Why would Keiko want music? She'd be more likely to just turn it off. Snagging her backpack, she takes out her phone, sending a message to Elena via Piotr.

Poor Piotr.

"Even if we do. We both heal." She doesn't heal all that quickly really. "A burger, fries, root beer and ice-cream." Where she puts it all is anyone's guess.

"Let me write that down." Koa mutters as they drive. Eventually he gets back to the road and he puts the hammer down. They roar down the mountain roads toward flatter ground and civilization. Koa has an agent to feed and then they both need to go some place… chilly.

Should be fun. If they survive it.

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