|Lost in Binary|
A large well-lit room with two huge windows nearly taking up the whole of two opposite walls. While the glass in the windows has mostly been broken out, each side has benches set up and lookout telescopes once used to gaze at the city skylines. In the center of each non-windowed wall a lone door opens up to a tiny balcony for those who prefer the feel of the breeze - or fly in it. All along the walkways are ropes and planks connecting various airships which are docked at the moment.
Leaning against the railing at the top of the Plowse Bridge stands a young lady in very gothic attire. The white face paint, black lipstick, a black blouse with a black skirt. Black boots. Lots of black, lots of little upside down crosses. She could easily pass for anyone in or around a Hot Topic and out of the corner of your eyes one could swear some of it still had security tags on them. Raising an eyebrow the girl leans OVER the railing dangerously, reaching into her purse and pulling out a large brick. Her expression changing to one of mischievous glee, she holds it carefully in both hands and lets it drop just to hear the chaos it causes as it hits on the bridge below... Nice kid.
"That's a terrible name, you're just not a... T-Bone, my dude."
"Hey, if she can have tentacles, I can be called what I want!"
"Wow, get over that already."
A disarmingly innocent giggle wafts up through the bickering voices below, as a small, sharp gray object whips with irritated speed through the darkness off the end of Plowse Bridge. Far below, approximately in the path of a speeding brick, the young woman known as Emi - consummate service professional, nice person, and possibly rock star - tosses a goodhearted grin to her bandmates, reaching up to ruffle the hair of the tallest and fattest. She has to stand on tiptoe to do it. She doesn't think about it, and presumably therefore does this kind of thing all the time like it's natural. Yes, it's adorable.
"You can be called whatever you--"
Everybody freezes, wide-eyed, except for the scrawny, pimpled youth who moments before was skimming bits of broken masonry off the bridge. He leaps to the very edge of it, pinwheeling his arms and staring with bloodshot eyes as he screams, "WOAH, DUDE!"
The head of the... thing known as Ipsum, their erstwhile friend and bandmate, is so much mulch, a tangled mess of greenish-purple flesh cords that have apparently exploded at contact with that missile from the heavens. The brick itself is lodged firmly in what seems to be a neck stump. Dimunitive Emi slowly releases her breath, and looks down at her feet.
"That's really unfortunate. Please don't fall off, Chaz. Here, let me..."
Tilting her amber-eyed gaze back up to Ipsum, she steps gently forward and pulls herself up on her toes once more, biting thoughtfully on her lip as she tries her best to keep her hand clean, settling it on the edge of the brick and starting to tug.
"E-Emi? Is she..."
"S-SHIT, WE'VE GOTTA GET OFF HERE!!"
"You're the one who wanted to throw this crap around!"
"Please, everyone, be quiet!" Emi raises her voice, a stern edge creeping into her tone that seems to boom off into the swimming, extraplanar darkness, echoing around the stones of the dilapidated bridge. "I don't really know how this works.
"I-Is she dead?"
"I said BE QUIET! Please!"
Her long hair stirs as she half-rounds upon the two disturbed young men, eyes narrowing.
From up above the sounds of cackling can clearly be heard. She knew what she did and she enjoyed every second of it. Not that anyone is likely paying attention to the gothling. There's a few stomps on metal that follow and soon she's sliding down the railing making her way down to see the violence for herself. "FUCK YEAH!! That was Hella-cool!" Without even considering anyone else's reaction, the girl makes her way as close as she can to what was once Ipsum and cackles again. "Your friend really shoulda learned to PAY ATTENTION when walking through a BROKEN BRIDGE. Jeeze, man. Hahahaha!" She points mockingly at the corpse? and holds her arm against her stomach. "From the Pinnacle To the Pit for real!" Yeah, she's a bit of a bitch, ain't she?
"I SAID..." Emi grits her teeth, letting the half-extracted brick slide back into its anatomical nest as that cackling raises ire she rarely displays. It's in the best just before actually losing her temper that her brain reconsiders it. "Oh," she blinks, "That's not you guys, is it? Because you only *act* like-"
"Dibs!" Chaz isn't looking at Emi, because honestly she's not that much to look at compared to the leather-and-lace apparition that suddenly explodes into view. T-Bone sighs heavily, and wipes at his eyes, not sure whether to be distraught or irritated.
"...a couple of girls." It comes out slowly, and Emi thinks for a second before stepping away from the eldritch monstrosity, which - or who, if we're being polite - hasn't teetered or toppled whatsoever since her head exploded. As the noisy interloper jabs a finger toward Ipsum, though, Ipsum raises a juicy tentacle from her side.
"Squelch," burbles the gaping neck hole around the brick's edges.
"It's not 'cool' to murder people," Emi translates helpfully, and rather damningly, which garners a scowl from Chaz, his mouth opening as if he's just about to mansplain something. The amber-eyed vessel throws her hand out, a finger raised in warning. "It isn't cool, and I think you should apologize."
"She's right, though."
"You're right, though," Emi acknowledges with a shrug, and a wistful sigh, turning around and this time going right for the brick, pulling it out with a mild grunt and tossing it over her shoulder past Chaz and T-Bone. "I'm sorry my friends are idiots. You should watch out, too. Those boots are awesome, but they're not very practical. It would be a shame if you slipped." She smiles brightly, adds, "Into the 'Pit'."
"I'm not a dude, Chaz."
"Ugh, you two are so lame! Hey, good-lookin', I'm Chaz."
"Did she though?!"
Emi wipes some goo from her hand and rubs her forehead like a long-suffering mother.
"Hey, those boots ARE awesome, did you steal 'em? That's awesome. You seem awesome. We should be awesome together."
Hekit's mood, the girl if that's not obvious, seems to falter to learn she realize she DIDN'T just murder someone but the girl doesn't stop smiling. Hey, praise is praise. "Jacked 'em from the mall a couple of nights ago." Yeah. She knows she's cool. Her head tilts at the abomination and grinning widely she rather mockingly states, "Oh, I am terribly sorry I mocked a brick crushing your head." She closes her eyes and nods, "The 'gravity' of the situation hadn't occurred to me. I'm sure it's a huge weight on your shoulders being murdered and all." Oh yes. She puns too. "So a quartet just happens to come across my bridge without a care in the world, huh. Neat." The girl rocks back and forth on the heels of her boots, folding her hands behind her back. "Any of you got a smoke?"
"Why?" Emi asks, entirely innocuously, tipping her head to one side and restoring her sweet smile as her hand shifts across her chest, the other arm folding across it as she leans back casually. "Don't you have any money?" Her shoulders lift just faintly in a shrug that approximates an eyeroll. She's treating Hekit like a bad customer.
Ipsum's neck hole bubbles a little more in what might be equivalent to a 'verbal' shrug for the apparently-living horror, still otherwise motionless on the bridge. The cords of what was once her face hang despondently down, and for just a moment there's the faintest optical illusion of a face. A sad emoji. :(
"I've got money!"
"Shut up, Chaz."
T-Bone hasn't moved much either, though it's worth noting he's actually stood beneath a pretty solid part of the structure, and seems to be the sensible one - discounting Emi herself. He's a big slab of vaguely Hispanic-looking meat, older than either of his probably-human friends, with a sad attempt at a scraggly beard and kind, sad eyes. Attire amounts to a clean Opeth t-shirt - Earthly in origin - and a pair of skinny jeans that frankly look awful, even by the standard of skinny jeans. Chaz, meanwhile, is dressed like he couldn't afford Hot Topic himself, but approximated it using a combination of thrift store rummaging and his mom's closet. His eyes aren't so much sad as desperately lustful; if he had more apparent backbone, they might be predatory. There's something at the edges of the pupils though, a digital pattern that flickers in the dim light every time he shifts his head upon his long, scrawny neck.
"Well," Emi sighs, pointedly uttering the syllable to cut off any more interruptions by her fellows. "Technically that *was* an apology. Worse and weirder things happen here every day, and Ipsum will be... fine, I think." She frowns and looks askance at the abomination, whose tentacles twitch noncommittally. "She'll be fine."
"I've got a smoke too!"
"Dios mio, Chaz..."
"It's in my apartment though. My pad is awesome. We should-"
"You really shouldn't," Emi, once more very helpfully, interjects, leaning across Chaz and reaching up to slap his mouth shut with dainty fingers. "Smoking's bad for you, and too much Chaz is bad for your brain. Trust me, I'm basically his mother. Next time maybe you could aim a little to the right?" She positively twinkles with that, and tightens her grip on Chaz's mouth as he starts to object.
"How about instead you explain how this is in any way your bridge? I know there's not much of a council to speak of, but there's bigger, scarier things than you around. Last time I checked, this is a free..." Country? "...subspace anomaly?" Nailed it. Ignore the fact she sounds like she's just regurgitating those words. "And you don't get to make the rules just because you're poorer and louder than anybody else." Her smile broadens, and she rocks back on her heels, glancing up at the lookout tower. "You're very good at falling, though. Practice much? What's it you say, Chaz? Mad props?"
"Mad props!" With a dainty grin, Emi thrusts out her free hand in a fist.
Hekit's eyes follow around each person as they speak in turn, not really participating in the conversation so much as observing. 'Falling' gets a wider grin, somehow, and the girl bows a little too elaborately as a response. "Mad. Yes. We're all MAD here, aren't we Alice?" Reaching into her boot, she takes out a small cigarette case and plucks one out, lighting it somehow without a lighter as she puts it away. "And it's my bridge because I'm standing upon it. Ownership is theft, and there for theft is property. Ain't that how it goes?" She takes a long drag from her cig and lets the smoke slowly weave it's way between her teeth as she smiles. "So clearly you're the brains of this group, that's cool." Another drag. "You just hang around these guys to make yourself look smarter, or is there a reason they bark at your heels?"
"H-Hey. I don't think-"
"Then you shouldn't talk, Chaz."
Emi puffs her cheeks out a little as the cigarettes emerge, a faint 'pop' sounding as her tongue flicks out her bottom lip. "I'm not mad," she opines softly, "Just curious. And I'm really not sure that's how it works; but woe betide *me* to tell *you* not to steal tarts. We've already lost one head, I'm quite certain we can spare another. They bark at my heels," she continues on with a faint upturn of her chin, amber eyes gleaming with a brief and fiery sort of pride. "Because I write all our songs."
"It's okay, Toby-"
"...dogs are wonderful, I think it was a compliment! Right?" That saccharine-sweet smile comes back to Hekit, as Emi wipes her hands once more - having removed from Chaz's mouth a few seconds ago. Apparently he's a dribbler. "Anyway, we're Aki-Onna. If you were at the mall you probably saw our posters? You better have. I'm Emi Goodman, this is Chaz Wild, T-Bone Sanchez, and... well, you made an impression on Ipsum already." Emi flinches slightly at her own off-color joke, this time pointedly not extending a hand as she finishes her introduction. Leave her hanging, will you?
"She's just called Ipsum, we're not sure why. She doesn't talk about herself much."
"That's... not how she normally talks. She's into philosophy, and you know, drumming." Chaz grumbles something about tentacles, beneath his breath, and spits off the edge of the bridge. "Chaz is mostly into being a jerk, but he's a much better guitarist than he is a person, and T-Bone is-" she suppresses a giggle with a cough, "Obviously our bass player. I'm surprised someone as 'cool' as you doesn't know us already."
"We're pretty hot shit."
"If you look somewhere inbetween," summarizes Emi, folding her arms and nodding perkily, "You'll find the truth. I've not seen *you* around before. Don't eat much?"
Hekit finishes her smoke while everyone is introduced, snickering of course at poor Ipsum's lament when it's called out. Well, perhaps at the joke that was made instead, but who can say? Somewhere in the midst of it she grins at Chaz's comment about compliments and shrugs. Her smile drops for only a moment, "Actually I do really like dogs, so if you want to take it that way cool." She doesn't say much else until it comes around full circle and the butt flicked casually into whatever exists beyond the bridge. "I've been around. I just usually keep off people's radars. Tends to be better for everyone that way." Hekit crosses her arms as she lets a single name roll off her tongue like a rotten piece of meat. "...Emi." She bites her bottom lip a moment in thought before slipping back to things. "I've been called Hekit. It's as good a name as any." Idly she taps her elbow, arms still crossed. "Yeah, yeah. I'm sure you guys are total shit." She pauses and grins again, "Hot. Shit. Sorry." A low maniacal laugh slowly builds as she uncrosses her arms. "You guys play around here? I'm always down to hear a little hell raising."
There's the first, actually genuine smolder of warmth from Emi as Hekit professes the excellence of canines. She somehow resists the urge to say something about ducks. "I suppose that makes sense, it's not hard to slip beneath the radar amidst all of this." A tiny hand flickers out and turns a spiral around and behind the group, coinciding with a shriek of metal and a far-off explosion as at the head of the bridge, a rusty El Camino pulls up shy of a malfunctioning battle mech. Completely normal, nothin' to see.
The girl's startling amber eyes narrow faintly at the hesitation over her name, head canting to one side before she renews her smile with a shifting of slender shoulders. "I'd say I'm pleased to meet you, but honestly in a roundabout way you *did* get goo on my jacket, and some of us paid for what we have. With money. We earned."
"She's the only one with a job."
"You really need to believe in yourself more, T-Bone. Yes, we play around here, and that only happened *once*, why can't anybody let that go?" There's that wistful sigh again, but long-suffering as aspects of Emi seem to be, nothing quite places a dent in her upbeat and forthright resolve. It's a little jarring on such a small and unthreatening individual. "You know the Usual? Maybe that's a little mainstream for you."
Chaz scowls and grumbles something about 'selling out'.
"I mentioned he's a jerk, didn't I?"
"Whatever," Emi agrees with a brisk nod, reaching out to pat the misanthropic youth on a bony shoulder. "I'm going to be honest, I know I've been here for years but I can never work out how time... works. We definitely booked a gig there, and we're definitely going to be playing, it's definitely going to be a break for us, and Chaz is most certainly not going to ruin it by sleeping all day. Night. Week. Oh, here."
Holding up a finger, she pauses to rummage inside her oversized overgarment, biting her lip and looking skyward as she searches for, and produces, a folded square of paper. Flipping it open, she holds up one of the posters that have been thoroughly plastered around the fractured city. 'Aki-Onna', confirms the legend beside the band's grotesque logo, an artful duck silhouette brooding cutely from the bottom corner.
"Ipsum does our artwork. Bring this along and you won't even need to sneak in through the restroom. That way we can handle the shit, and you can try to have a good time. I'll even ask the owner to stand you some drinks from our tab. It's the least I can do after you attempted to murder our drummer. You should come, add some color to the crowd."
This time she doesn't veil her sarcasm, and Chaz sputters, "B-Black is a color! Fuck!"
The fire-haired gothling snatches the poster and gives it a scan, raising a brow at the duckling which she can't help but comment aloud as if reading off a checklist. "...a duck." She looks up as one eye narrows, "Emi and a duck." She licks her teeth slowly as she looks the young woman over and then carefully vanishes the poster into her purse, "Sounds like a blast. I'll check it out." A mischievous grin is given to Chaz though, "Pup? Black is ALL the colors, especially in the absence of light." Yeah, he's going to be called 'Pup' now. Congrats on being a real character now! "So, uh. 'Emi'? I know this is totally out of left field, but you think we can step away from the pack and have a private chat? Just for a moment?" She offers her hand as if to shake, "You can trust me. Emi."
The faintest flush creeps across the diminutive girl's cheeks as she's scrutinized, and it's only with mild defensiveness - and a strong dose of sincerity - that she murmurs, "I love ducks..." Aww. Clearing her throat oh-so-gently, she toys with a long pigtail, before all but echoing the grin Hekit sends at her jerk guitarist. With something bordering tickled joy, she exudes, "Hey, we needed a nickname for you!"
"Chaz is my nickname!"
"It's a bad nickname, amigo."
"You're a bad nickname!"
"That's true, he is." Sighing and smiling simultaneously, Emi looks back to the discount rebel. A frown is quick to follow, the unspoken question fairly clear by the way her name - her actual, real name - is pronounced. She eyes the extended hand, cocks her head in that quaintly birdlike fashion, and then gracefully extends her own with an outheaval of breath. "I probably can't, but lay on, Macgoth, and damned be she that first cries, 'Hold, enough.'"
"Ipsum, it's fine." She bobs her head reassuringly at the mass of tentacles and ruptured cords. With her final words, she tightens her grip. It's stronger than you might think, for such a frail-seeming little thing. "It's me."
"It is her."
Hekit grips her hand briefly and uses it to lead her towards the lookout above, or more accurately to the stairs that lead up to it. "I promise I shall bring her back to grace you in only a moment!" She lets out a laugh as she heads up only continuing to hold Emi's hand if she doesn't take it away. It only takes a moment before they reach the top, maybe because of the weird way time works or maybe just for narrative ease. As soon as the door closes behind them a strange thing happens. Loud music begins to play seemingly from nowhere. Lights flash around them and the world seems to fade away leaving Hekit standing on a stage. With a snap of her fingers her outfit vanishes, being replaced by a studded leather bathing suit and tall spike covered boots. She reaches up to the sky, bringing her head down in a chomping gesture - her teeth now gleaming rows of shark teeth. Behind her back a pair of glowing batwings appears for the briefest of moments before the spectacle vanishes, leaving Hekit standing as she was before only now with red skin and a pointed tail flicking beneath her skirt. "Sorry for the theatrics, babe. It's the only way this is going to work without opening up a portal directly." Her eyes suddenly go completely white as her entire body language changes. Her arms drop to her sides as she stands up quite a bit straighter. With a sharp crack of her neck a very male voice begins to speak through her lips. "Ahhhh, Emepherea. So this is where you've been hiding from me." Hekit's tail swishes casually behind her as the new personality controlling her gazes upon Emi for the first time. "...I like the hair, personally."
Dubious expectation yields to the rapid pattering of footsteps as Emi follows at a brisker pace than her erstwhile leader - she only has little legs, after all. Her hand is not relinquished, though she barely grips after the initial contact. Just before the apex she lets out a huff of breath, her skin flustered, body warm beneath her jacket. Composed as she may be, she's certainly no athlete.
A fact which pales into distant significance a moment later. Her first reaction is to stiffen, then bark out a laugh, betraying in the process just why her embroilment with her less-savory bandmate somehow works - they do appreciate similar things. And then it gets the kind of weird that would send 'normal' people into extremity, at which point any semblance of willing contact is withdrawn, the young woman taking a half-step back; but only a half-step, unsure as she is if the stair, or gravity, remain.
"Hold, enough?" Emi echoes her earlier words, amber eyes wide more with surprise than fear, wry humor positively dripping from the uttered phrase. There's a tremble of doubt in her tone that may provide due satisfaction for the theatrics, however. The wild and rocky world of food service prepares one for a lot, especially when that same one inhabits an extraplanar sub-void packed with wild and wicked shenanigans. "If this is some kind of sex thing, I'm flattered but after that time with Chaz's sister..."
She trails off, waiting out the next gap in a conversation she has to yield to Hekit. She keeps herself as gracious as she can, under the circumstance, but she's definitely not in Arkansas any more. So the other woman is a... demon? This is happening.
"I... think you have the wrong person. Or entity?" Her nose wrinkles, and Emi raises a hand, wagging a finger as if to deny some nagging thought of her own from manifesting in the void around her. "Thanks, though." She glances down at a trailing pigtail, and promptly coughs, sharply and abruptly, almost choking on the extrusion. Reaching up to her nose, eyes widening further, she rubs at the tip with the back of her hand, clearly experiencing some level of discomfort. "I like it... too?"
"I'm not positive I like whatever this is. You're not a dream, are you? I dream a lot. I feel like you'd be bigger if I was dreaming you. Honestly, this is probably going to be easier if you explain everything, and I pretend I'm supposed to be here." Her hand extends again, halfway toward... the other presence, her palm open and facing outward. "Stay over there, though. I'm not confident I can survive *my* head exploding."
Something stirs in her gut, and she puts her other hand to her abdomen, fingers tightening until she can feel her own body through the swathed fabric. Her amber eyes don't shift from 'Hekit'.
"It is a lot to take in, yes," the thing that was Hekit says while glancing vainly at her nails. "After I lost my last assistant, I thought maybe it was time I brought in another." Shadows seem to pull towards her and for a moment, somehow, her body is lost to those shadows becoming a towering shape with glowing red eyes that looks down at Emi and somehow smiles, "Is this big enough for you?" The shape of course is that of Senor Diablo, as if it needed to be illustrated any more than it already was. A moment later the shadows fade and 'Hekit' cockily puts a hand on her hip and grins, "Sorry for the theatrics. Sometimes I just can't help myself. But you know that don't you, Emi." Her face changes to a scowl as she shakes her head back and forth. "I'm not sure what's happened to you, and I'm not quite sure I care, but you are still bound as one seventh Council to me. So, until your place is made vacant I must ask why you've avoided your duties." The demon tisks, "Although from what Hekit says you might not realize. Fascinating. I dare say I think she likes you, you know. You do have that effect on people. Normally she doesn't care much for the living."
"I'm good at my... many jobs," Emi lamely offers by way of explanation, still wide-eyed and taking in the spectacle with every attempt at remaining non-plussed. That dissolves as an eerie howl transmits itself from the dimensional bonds laced betwixt she and this humbling display, the alarm of a packbeast sensing threat to one of their number. Her head tipping once more, the young woman risks another glance down, but this time with concern for something that shifts just left of her grasping hand. "One moment," she murmurs, before exuding an effort to disengage her digits and slide them into an oversized pocket. This time she produces a quivering, yellow bundle.
A duckling. It chirrups and mirrors Emi's own gesture, but with a very animal terror. Softening her tone, the amber-eyed vessel lifts the bird to her lips and gently brushes its head. "Shh, it's okay, Buddy." The duckling stirs and tries to settle, cradled in both hands now, drawn back to her abdomen as if to comfort the pair of them.
"If I knew what you were talking about, I'd tell you," she rejoins with a breezy calm, just the flutter of uncertainty amidst her apparent honesty. "I'm sorry, but my name *is* Emi Goodman. I live in the Sweaty Pits, I've lived there moreorless since I woke up here, in an alleyway, scared and alone. I'm not scared any more, but I am very confused. And nobody is ever alone when they're home. This is my home."
She looks around to best gesture that she means... all of it, everything she was aware of and is now divorced from. "What service do you believe I owe you? I'd be happy to help if I knew how." She draws her chin up, boldly, determined not to be cowed, meeting that fiery stare with her own, balanced and clear. A stare somehow as old as time, and older still beneath the light of Diablo's infernal blaze. "You can trust me," she pauses infinitesimally, finally restoring some brightness to the smile she secretes as she finishes, with more of that delicate humor, "Devil."
In the very heart of the Hells beneath, a sigh far older than the girl who stands there.
"Speak to me as if I'm a fool, because it's plain indeed you don't know who or what I am. Besides, you're scaring my friend."
There is a very obvious blink of confusion at the sudden plucking of a duckling into the mix, but as always it's quickly ignored by the cold indifference Senor Diablo tends to extrude with his general attitude. However explaining things is a hobby, so he's happy to oblige a request. "Devil is correct. If I must talk down to you, so be it. I am Senor Diablo. Lord of the Lower Depths of Hell, Master of it's Archives, and one seventh Council. The body standing before you is my assistant, Hekit, who is lending me her body so that I might communicate to you. Despite whatever you may be now, you were once the Lady Diaduin Emepherea - or at least enough of your soul that mandates it is still bound to our cause. By that extension you have inherited the title of 'Lady of the Heart of Chaos, Keeper of the Balance of Hell, and one seventh Council.' The title is bound to you until your life is taken from you, barring special circumstances whereupon you choose a successor to serve in your steed - but even then you still retain that position until the end of your days. It means while you may be a pauper on Twisted, you are royalty in Hell and as your title implies someone we considered the metaphorical heart of our Council." Somewhere in the midst of this speech, Hekit's body began pacing with her hands behind her back. She pauses a moment as her eyes flicker back to normal. The girl pretends to gag before saying with her own voice, "Jeeze he's an old windbag, isn't he?" Her eyes flicker back to being pure white and her mouth twists in momentarily disgust. "I'll be done in a moment, child..."
Little Emi's head is swimming. When you make a hobby and budding profession out of writing melodramatic, gothic-tinged songs, performed amidst smoke and spotlights to unwashed crowds of ne'er-do-wells, it's astonishing how dizzying the apparent reality of that subject matter becomes when presented in the cold dark of infinite gloom. She tries to roll her eyes at the small repetition, but scolds herself inwardly that she asked for it, all too aware any reaction she has is founded on disbelief.
And stranger things have happened, haven't they?
It comes out small, tiny, as tiny as the girl in her large white jacket, if not quite so miniscule as the duckling she protectively cradles. She closes her eyes momentarily, whispering the reassurance that, "None of this is me." Apparently believing it, too. When she unlids her amber gaze it meets the momentary, strangely-comforting familiarity of Hekit - who doesn't seem half as intrusive now. She even genuinely laughs.
"You're done now," she rejoins with renewed certainty, and another brisk nod, "I don't believe in past lives, and I'm not religious, whatever you might construe from playing our music backwards. I don't believe *you* think you're lying, or trying to mislead me, but I know you've got the wrong woman. I told you who I am, and I'm happy. I love my life. I love my home. I even love my stupid friends. If you want to worship me, please. Be my guest."
That sparks a grin, and she untwists a calming hand to stroke the head of her fluffy companion. "I'm the heart of Aki-Onna, and I give that heart to whomsoever I please. You're clearly very powerful, Mr. Diablo, and that certainly means you don't need a waitress to help you do your job. You call me a pauper, but I'm exactly as rich as I hope to be - I don't need crowns, palaces, servants, or fancy titles."
She draws and releases a breath, pats Buddy a couple of times, and then opens her mouth with a soft 'ah!' as a final thought occurs. "But! You seem quite lonely, and clearly need people to talk to. Why don't you come and see us perform? That way, if we have an electrical fault, or the dead rise to strike down the living, or a thunderbolt from heaven cleaves the Usual Restaurant in twain, you can protect me and keep your kingdom intact. Who knows? If Buddy takes a liking to you, maybe he could 'rule in my stead'."
She raises the little duckling aloft, and grins, amber eyes sparkling.
"Or there's always Chaz. He's a jerk, you'd hate him. Everybody does."
Hekit, or more accurately Senor Diablo, does not appear amused. "Dearest Emi," those white eyes abruptly turn red, "I frankly don't give a damn what you chose to believe." The red fades back to white. "Like it or not what I speak is the truth, for while I may get referred to with such a silly name as the Prince of Lies, it does me no good to speak them. The truth is always more powerful than fiction. You may continue to live whatever fantasy you've created for yourself, but know that when the time comes that your presence is required you will be summoned and you will come kicking and screaming whether you like it or not." The demoness folds her arms across her chest, "I'd prefer to simply ask, I'd rather it not come to such an extreme out of respect for what you once where, but if this is the state of the world so be it." A wicked smile crosses her lips as his voice lowers still, "Of course we could also simply end your life now and be done with it..." The smile fades quickly and his normal speaking voice returns, "...but let's save that for a last resort, shall we? I gave your predecessor a gift, that gift is now in your possession via whatever falsehood you chose to tell yourself. What you do with it from here, if anything, is not of my concern, but know that others may come to take it from you and be prepared. If you come to your senses or need anything else, I'm sure Hekit will make herself known. Good day, Emi Goodman." With that the girl blinks and her eyes are once again normal. Rather than say anything herself, she reaches into her purse and pulls out a compact of white powder trying to cover her skin up before anyone might notice her.
What hope does any mortal have faced with this spectacle, these threats? The girl only has the hope she clings to every day, living as a normal, squishy human being in a dimension populated by the sundry mass of creation. Carving out her own normality has been a trial, she cried and sheltered herself for months, years, or some other passage of time now lost to her insignificant perceptions. She wears her smile as she wears her pride; at her core as much as upon her innocent face. This isn't her fantasy...
It's all she knows to do. All she can be. All she wants.
In spite of her apparent defiance she listens all the same, struggling to take it in, struggling not to rage harder at the apparition of doubt. But she's worked hard for her balance, and she won't lose it even if she faces death. That's the last time she'd want to. As impeccable as her front might ultimately have proven, its maintenance takes a toll upon Emi, her slender shoulders slumping in the seeming aftermath of the encounter.
Caught between, 'I don't understand', and, 'I can't bring myself to', she stands quietly for a few moments, carefully settling the duckling back in her pocket, reaching into the other to purposefully feed him some orange, triangular seeds.
"That was very strange," she admits at last, peering over at Hekit, afraid to move from her position lest anything else occur. "But not complete nonsense, was it?" A gentle laugh breezes past her lips, fluttering on the still air. "How deep does this rabbit hole go, I wonder? And why am I asking you?" Releasing a breath she didn't know she'd begun to hold, her head lowers and she turns around, placing her back to Hekit.
"If I'm going to die over this, please wait until after the show. He's wrong, though. If you believe him, you both are. I'm just me. Just... Emi, whatever that means."
No mother, no father, no history she can remember. She woke up like this, albeit more naked still. It's not beyond the realm of reason there's truths she has yet to face - but that's also, purely, the human condition. In a place like this, that's intensified.
"Whatever *you* are, I'm sorry. It seems you're in the thrall of the devil."
There's a flicker of warmth, a beautiful little smile, and she looks over her shoulder, past a long pigtail.
"You know, I get a discount at the mall if you want more of that. I'd rather buy it for you if you're just going to keep stealing. Everyone here is trying their best."
Hekit seems to finish covering herself, forgetting momentarily about her tail which occasionally swishes beneath her. "Christ, no one's gunning to kill you. I sure fucking don't want to hold your position." She crosses her arms and lets out a sigh and as if an explanation for that and a slight response to Emi's last statement, "...I LIKE stealing." The girl lets out a shrug, "Look, most demons are total rule-mongers." She makes air quotes abruptly as she recites, "The Devil's In the Details" in a bad impersonation of her employer. "Sometimes I think I was born on the wrong side of the heavens." That wasn't really a statement for Emi so much as something she's commenting to herself. "I'm not sorry. Well, maybe for Senor Diablo being a jerk, but... he is the Devil." It's about that time she finally notices her tail and clutches it tightly. "Look, I like you Emi. You're a bit of a prude, but you seem fun. I hope you don't hold all this against me."
"To be perfectly honest, if I'm not going to hold attempted murder against you, do you think my moral compass is so absolute? Everything's relative, at the end of it all. I won't stop you doing what you want to do, or believing what you wish to believe. I'm not the Lady of the Heart of Chaos, or the... Diaduin? What does that even mean?"
She shakes her head, amber eyes flicking up and around, not so much rolling in exasperation or disbelief but searching for a meaning she knows, herself, she won't find in the air around her.
"There's," She flails over a breath, hunting for the words, knowing none are truly worthy of this bewildering torrent, "No meaning in this world-between save that one forges for oneself. The same goes for his rules. We make our own rules, Hekit. Our own *roles*. I serve, you serve, we all serve something beside ourselves. I have tiny, human hands, so I grasp for my meaning with these. Look." She holds up her hands as she turns back around, standing there in an exaggerated shrug, delicate fingertips splayed.
"What could I possibly be but myself? I'm small and silly. I like ducks."
She can't not laugh at that, an edge of mania creeping into the sound that quickly ebbs away. Turning the shrug downward, she flops her arms to her side and suddenly looks very, very tired.
"Can you... send me home somehow? I'd rather not explain this to my friends."
Hekit listens to most of what Emi says in return with a frown on her lips. During that time she's managed to finagle her tail back out of sight as well, and the less we say about that the better. "Look, bitch. Keep telling yourself that. Maybe you'll keep believing it." She walks to the edge and looks down, even though she could have sworn they walked in a door before all this started. "I can probably manage that, but uh... I promised them I was going to give you back to them, remember? Can you call them or something first? That's a thing people do, right? Phones and such? Hell doesn't really get wireless service since Alastor took over the radio tower."
"No offence," Emi begins with a metaphorical nod and wink to Hekit's own words from earlier, "But what does a thief and servant of Satan care about promises?" She doesn't let that hang, in fact she's already moving to peer over the edge, where down below she can see T-Bone and Chaz already arguing about something. Ipsum has, at some point, restored the mess of corded tentacles that typically make up her 'face', and for a wistful second it all seems like lovely, peaceful normality to the diminutive vessel.
Suddenly she sucks in a breath, and from her throat comes this loud, monstrous growl, far bigger in scale than the girl herself. "HAIL SATAN!" Her death scream draws their attention, and they look up to see a grinning Emi. "I'm fine!" She calls in her usual, clarion tone, "Come round later and we'll get pizza!"
Since they're up so high, she mimes a round pie, and takes a bit from between her raised fingers. Smile, shrug, wave, and promplty back around to Hekit, tipping back on her heels and folding both hands loosely in her lap.
"They'll understand. Weirder things happen every day. Beam me up, Hekit."
A suffocating darkness seems to immediately fall upon Emi. The skies turn black and the streets turn a strange white in blotches and cracks across the darkness as if the world had inverted. Hekit offers her hand and the second it's taken the world will blur past them as she effortlessly leaps from white shadow to shadow at a speed that would have taken the air from any human who attempted it. Amusingly there are some people traveling in this manner as well, including a certain maniac who dresses very similar in style to Hekit and seems very confused to be passed along his way to wherever. But as soon as it begins it's over and the two are standing in front of the Sweaty Pits as if nothing strange had just occurred. "Demons are inherently bound to promises. Deals with the Devil and all that. Hell's a place where the dammed go to be punished. That doesn't mean demons can't be trusted." Her grin returns to her face suddenly, "Just means we know all the best ways to do all the worst things." She swallows her humor down abruptly and asks with all seriousness, "You gonna be okay?"
It's not immediately clear if Emi has any reason to be fine with this, but it's been a day. She takes that offered hand, sucks in a breath to prepare herself, and then the ensuing blur passes as exactly that. She'll dream about it later, and wake up wondering why she's done so, before turning herself over on the couch she habitually crashes out on, burrowing into her blanket and falling back into the vividity of sleep.
But that's later.
Now, she staggers as they 'land', catching herself with a hand outflung onto a filthy, rust-eaten pipe. She leans there a moment, slowly blinking amber eyes, and then straightens with as much pride as she can bring to bear. Determined to take the rest of this day in her stride, she listens to Hekit's explanation with the sort of frown that says, 'this makes sense'. She laughs even as the 'joke' is squirreled away, and shakes her head with a smile that almost speaks some fondness for this rude, crude demon.
"Always," is her simply reply, with an upright shrug that says it all - the very human spirit she fosters, the drive to survive at any cost. "I'm small, but I'm not a weakling. This doesn't change anything about me, you know, none of it. I know who I am, and who I mean to keep being. Even if it was true... so what? I can only do my best."
She pauses to insert a single earphone, hand slipping to the seed-bearing pocket before a low, bassy rumble emerges from the quivering micro-speaker.
"It'll be good enough. Look after yourself, too. Nobody else is going to." It's a very pure sentiment she expresses, blunt but considerate, her nod a call to inner strength. "And make sure you don't miss the show. You can marvel at what a prude I am, hmm?"
Bobbing in time as drums and guitar hit in her ear, she extends her hand with deceptive speed and aims to 'boop' the demon's nose before she can do anything about it, wearing a mischief that will carry easily if she's evaded. She just wants to know if she can.
"See you soon!"
With that, she'll disapper as quickly as stumpy human legs can carry her, into the building and up the stairs to a Perfectly Normal Evening and the disturbed rest that awaits her in the night's hollow din.
Hekit will in fact be booped despite how much it will churn her stomach to have it done to her. It'll amuse Emi more that she can not only accomplish it, but it causes the demon to flail her arms dramatically as she tries and fails to stop herself from falling over from the shock of it. "AHH! CHRIST!! MY TAIL!!!!" It just unravels at that point leaving her cradling it as Emi cutely bounces off. She watches the girl's wake, tucking her tail away once more and dusting her skirt off with some forced grumbling. "Stupid... humans..." Eh, if Emi's going to call herself such she might as well too after all. It takes her a moment before she steps off the porch as if the demon can't quite decide what to do next. It'll probably involve kicking something or playing with puppies. Not kicking puppies, mind you. She's not a monster.