|Welcome to Bucketheadland|
Everyone's gotta eat, particularly in a mall. A lot of walking around means a lot of people using energy and getting hungry. And conveniently enough, there is a food court in this mall, as tends to be the case with malls!
Kazuki is not really important enough in Twisted that he can't just walk around in public without it being a pain. A few people recognize him, but it's nowhere near dangerous or even mildly annoying. This being the case, Kazuki has been walking around in this mall for a while. So he's headed for a counter at a rather provocatively-named restaurant counter.
He places the order without even looking at the menu -- seems to be a regular! Music is also enjoyed -- he's got some of those wireless ear buds. And he's just sort of blending into the scenery here, just a regular patron. Maybe a slightly darker patron than usual since he's wearing all black.
He sets the small bag of cloathing he managed to scrounge money for on a table, surveying the court with a cautious but hungry eye. He spots Kazuki's outfit, but doesn't see his face given he's up at the counter. The pilot falls into a line at the next shop over, staring at the menu rather unhelpfully. "Hmmm"
And because Kazuki can't just walk up to someone and greet them like a normal person, he actually approaches the person he thinks might be Russell from outside this poor fella's field of vision. Once he's close enough he pipes up, "Their 'Big Boy' meal is pretty good. Just be aware they're basically gonna bring you a meatloaf between asscheeks, like you could just unhinge your jaw to eat it."
....Real smooth, Kazuki.
But, that said, if Russell remembers Kazuki? That's his voice. And if he turns to look -- hopefully without throwing a punch -- that's definitely him in that outfit, with that hair and girly face.
"Waaaaiiiit... Kazuki? From Dawnb- nah, can't be, you do look just like him, though, damn." He just shakes his head rapidly as he tries to dismiss what his eyes are telling him.
Though the smirk gentles after a moment, and he notes, his voice a bit softer, "...Still. Much as I hate you got pulled away from everything, I'm glad to see you reasonably safe. And I'd be lying if I said it was anything but great to see you again."
He looks up at the menu again, and mutters, "I still haven't quite gotten myself settled in yet." He motions his head toward his small bag of clothes, "At least I've got some damn socks now, thought... Aside from ending up here, hopefully it's treated you better then our world did."
The mention of Russell having clothes gets a tilt of his head. "Do you have a place yet? The Integra Arms are there for displaced people to stay in until they get on their feet," Kazuki recalls. As for being pulled away from everything else? Kazuki waves a hand dismissively. "There wasn't anything left there for me anyway. Not after Alexander died. I have a reasonably stable existence here -- nice, boring life, I'm making enough to survive, and not having to interact with people that tear my heart out over and over, like Prometheus's eagle."
Pause. "I mean, I know that was his liver, but you get the idea."
His head nods a bit, "Yeah, that's where I've been crashing since another soldier here pointed me in that direction. He's a teacher I guess, so this place has existed long enough for people to grow up here, not just random kids getting pulled in." He makes a face, and then says, "Glad to hear that you fared pretty well, all things considered. That helps a lot, this place can't be all bad then." Russ rubs his chin, and adds, "That was definately you I saw on that magazine cover when I first got here. Figured I was just suffering a concussion."
A nod to the mention of the school. "It's an academy, so they probably have adult students too. Thought about taking some courses there myself." He smirks. "Maybe I can get a trade I can actually ply when I'm too old to look pretty."
A magazine? That gets a surprised look. "Huh. Must have been an older one, yeah," he agrees. "When I first got here, I threw myself into performing, since it was all I had. And it was a damn sight healthier than drinking the contents of a medicine cabinet. Eventually had to slow down, but by that time I'd worked out whatever ridiculous crap I had in my head that I needed to be someone 'important'."
Yeah, that's what always got him in trouble... trying to be 'important'. Trying to prove... something, to someone. He seems to have shed that in the intervening years. And he does look just a bit older, like he'd been here a while.
"So, stepped back from the stage into an easy retirement I take it? Well, it couldn't have gone to someone more deserving of a break, at least. Or if nothing else, just do the odd gig on the side." Russ hrms, "I'm still in that acclimation phase, myself."
Kazuki tilts his head. "Not exactly retirement, but yeah, I only do the occasional gig, when I feel particularly motivated to do one. As much as I ran myself ragged when I first came here, it also meant that I could relax later -- well, 'later' being 'now', actually, but yeah."
"At least there's a fresh start, and that's got to be worth something. You get the chance to put it all behind you and just move forward." He considers there, and adds, "If there are concerts and the like going on, then at least that means people are able to relax a little, which is a very good sign indeed."
He obtains his food, and sets it at the table with his bag on it, "I can't see that as a bad thing. At least the other guy from your universe is one you got along with, eh?"
Once more he nods, at the mention of a fresh start being worth something. "It's worth a lot," he replies. "I guess that Death Card finally managed to get flipped right-side-up." He refers, of course, to the nose art of his Valkyrie while with Dawnbreaker -- the Death card, number 13 of the Major Arcana in a deck of tarot cards, pictured upside down. 'Death' being a card of forced change, when flipped upside down, indicates that this change is needed but will not come.
He heads to the same table as Russell once the food is gotten, and offers a smirk at that last observation. "Yeah. If it'd been Oisin, I'm not sure how I'd have reacted. Or, more to the point, how HE would have. Zhorein was a double-agent; those two probably made up and became besties once everything was over. I willingly joined the AUN. I can't see Oisin ever being able to forgive me for it. Not that, you know, I really give a shit. I'm done caring about people who only see me for what I can do for them."
"I bet that most folks here give you the benefit of the doubt at the very least. And everyone I've dealt with so far has been rather helpful. I wager that having random people appear from all over the damn place has something to do with that." He hrms, "So other then that, what goes on around here, anyway? Just people taking care of the newly immigrated? Or are there actual industries or something?"
A pause here, and then (since talk of romantic partners was made) he admits, "...Honestly, I never got totally over Zhorein. I dealt with it, put it behind me, but I never really got over it. Stupid, I know. But I've always been an emotionally-motivated sort."
He nods at the mention of generally getting the benefit of the doubt. "Yeah. Having random people show up here is kind of a Thing, so for the most part people here have learned not to assume anything, really. There's everything from humans, to anthro canines, to snake-people. And probably a lot more that I'm leaving out, or that aren't noticeably different but are."
As for what goes on around here? "Well, there's plenty of stores in here," he notes. "There's small quick-stop type shops, medical places -- other things you'd expect in a normal city. There are establishments that are concentrated on seeing to newly-arrived people, but aside from that most people are just trying to survive." Pause. "Oh yeah. There's a red-light district. Fun, but watch your footing. Literally, since the street's a little... broken out that way."
"I've heard there's a whole rainbow of folks here. I've only seen human-lookin people so far, though." He then nods and seems to take mental note of the places the singer was listing off. "I did notice we have a mall, at the very least." Then the mention of a Red Light District, "-Yeah, I'm going to take a hard pass on that. I'm not keen on my little Valkyrie to suffer through an otherworldly STD, if I can possibly avoid it." He munches upon a fry, "I can imagine the burning now."
As for the people? "There are plenty of people who aren't human, and a lot of people who look human, aren't," he notes. A snicker then, at the mention of Russ's 'little Valkyrie'. "Yeah, you don't want your... disk to pop off." Of course he had to make the joke. "That said, there's actually a little more than just whorehouses down there. Couple of mercenary places, bars that are a little seedier than you'd expect, and I've heard there's a black market down thataway."
"I... See. not being human and looking human sounds mostly like Micronized Zentradi, but I'm sure there's even more strangeness to be had."
"uhhhhh, wait, If this place is as strange as it is... I cannot imagine what the hell would even consitute a black market. 'Observe our Eldrich Horror in a Jar! Just three easy payments of Five human souls!'" Russ saying the last part in the most stereotypical announcer voice he possibly can.
He pauses, thinking. "I don't think I've met any Zentradi here, actually. It's really weird," he observes. "But then I'm not really one to grill people about what they got goin' on under the hood, you know?"
A snicker, then, as Russell mimics an announcer. "I don't know -- I generally stay away from it," he admits. "Probably drugs, mostly. Stuff people aren't supposed to have. Though I don't think weapons are actually forbidden, since monsters do show up on occasion. Gotta have a way to defend yourself when you don't have super-powers, right?"
"Yeah, I'm usually good at spotting them out from human folk, but haven't seen any either. I'm mostly worried about being startled and being unintentionally offensive because of it. I've heard there's someone here who's, like, a living collection of building blocks and there is no way I'm not seeing how high I can jump when that image enters my visual cortex."
"Yeah, probably a good idea unless you're after something VERY unusual. They probably have the Cthulhu Jars right next to the boxed Honest Lawyers and actual lucky game dice." He snickers, before Kaz points out the fact there are monsters and he's a mere human, "As soon as I get the money together, I aught to go find what passes for a gun shop round these parts. If those creatures attack, I'd best be able to hold my own until Law enforcement or the sherrif or just some superhero shows up to take over."
He snickers at the mention of weird commodities, though he nods. "I heard that a gun shop recently opened... or is going to open soon, I forget which," he admits. "I might go too -- I lost my distaste for shooting things a while back. That said, the People Who Can usually Do when it Needs To Be Done." Capital letters are heard.
"I'll have to figure out where that shop is and have a good look around. The odd jobs I do don't pay all that much, so it'll take a while to save for a decent weapon." He chuckles at Kazuki's comment, "Yeah, you do what you gotta do when it comes down to it. Might regret it after, but hey."
As for that shop? "Yeah. I should do that, too. I'll take a look around, and when I find it..." Pause. "Wait, do you have a cell phone?" he inquires. They have providers in Twisted, though the coverage doesn't extend to the Wastelands (in all likelihood).
"I did before I came here. Tended not to take it on the Valkyrie - which sadly didn't come with, my survival gear would have been nice." Russ then gives a shrug to that notion, and adds, "I'm sure there's probably a cellphone company, too."
As for shopping? "...Y'know, I never really did like shopping that much either," he agrees. "Even if it was shopping for 'Nadine'. I'm pretty tall, and they just don't make clothes for women that tall. There might actually be that sort of, uh... 'specialty' shop in the red light district, but I honestly haven't checked."
He can't say much about Russ's survival gear, but he does frown a little -- sadness! But he does confirm, "Yeah, there's providers here. At least one. Want me to put you on my plan? You can pay me back when you get on your feet, and then you can either have it switched over to your own, or just pay your line. It's usually cheaper to add a line than to start a new account."
"Same, it's so damn boring. And it just feels odd to stare at a bunch of stuff until I decide one of that stuff is good enough to take home or something." He laughs, "I'm sure there is a speciality shop in the hooha district, but I don't think a Gimp Suit is appropriate interview attire."
"Thanks for the offer, but I'll manage. Don't have anyone to actually call - this place doesn't seem big enough to warrant a phone company at first glance, but I'm sure there are whole sections of town I'm completely unaware of."
A snort here, at the mention of 'specialty gear'. "I mean for Nadine," he notes. "You know, drag queen shop? I do still do the female impersonator bit on occasion. Though if you were interested in going the Lou Reed route, I can give you some pointers." He's kidding, he knows Russ isn't going there!
As for the city itself? "Actually yeah, it's about the size of a good-sized city," Kazuki notes. "I'll have to take you on a tour sometime. I've been here long enough that I know my way around pretty well."
Russ might have expected the jest, but a spittake still happens, "Oh God, Please no." His head shakes RAPIDLY "Nononono.... Though I do have to get more actual streetclothes. No sense looking like I'm going off to war every single day. That'll get really old, really fast, let me tell you."
"Honestly it didn't seem all THAT big - but I'm used to a Macross-class city. Everything being crammed in so tight fucks up your sense of scale. Like something fierce. It's JUST the city then? Like what happens if you just get in a car and drive out of town, do you dematerialize or something?"
And he outright laughs at the 'nonononono' response. "I'm kidding. Though I do know of some clothes stores here, I can show you where they are," he offers.
And he tilts his head at the explanation. "Yeah, that's true... though Mabase is more on the level of a human city in the 21st century. And I guess I've just been here so long that it seems normal to me." The mention of driving the car out of town gets a blink. "...Actually, I don't know," he admits. "I know you'd end up in the Wasteland, but I'm not sure if the car would still work. The Wastelands acts funky on stuff from the city."
"I'll have to take you up on that when I've got more coin. I was able to get socks at least. I knew those would be the first to go if I had to use my only outfit. Can't go wrong with basic jeans and a leather jacket."
"I... See." His chin is rubbed throughtfully, "The... Wasteland. That sounds positively inviting." There are drips of sarcasam in his voice, then.
As for the mention of having more coin? "Like I said, I can spot you 'till you get back on your feet," he offers. "Worst comes to worst I hire you as security for one of my gigs, so you don't feel like I'm just giving you money. That sound a little more palatable?"
A smirk then. "Yyyyeah. Never been there myself. Contrary to my attitude before I came here, I've gotten to like staying alive."
The proposal for being muscle is offered, and he seems to mull it over for a minute, finishing off his soda and staring at the paper cup it had come in. "... Aye, I could do that. Would at least give you something in return for the expenditure."
"Well, I've no intention to go wandering out there without VERY good cause, but I imagine everyone here has gotten a bit stir crazy seeing the same town over and over and over again-unless there's a handy holodeck just... lying around somewhere, hah."
As for not going into the Wastelands? "Yeah, it's usually very much recommended to not go there unless you have to," he agrees. "Some people do go out there and hunt monsters, but I don't suggest doing it solo or lightly-armed."
"What, do the come into town and start trouble, or are they just valuble because of leather and munchies?" The man asks, looking very curious. "I'd imagine the work at least pays well."
As for the monsters? "They're monsters, they cause trouble. Dens can set up too close to the city and need cleaning out, et cetera. Sometimes they'll find their way in, and sometimes they're really smart and sneak in, and we don't find out for a while that they're here. There might be people who use them for parts, but I don't. Other than that, I'm not really sure."
"I see, so mostly highly dangerous pests, then. Might be something to do after I get myself established and/or get another mech." He hrms and looks down at his wrist, before realizing he forgot to even set it to local time, "I suppose I should be going at some point here. I'm glad to see someone I actually KNOW. And I'm especially glad that through it all, things have treated you well."
Something Russ says makes Kazuki think. "I've honestly not seen a mech since I got here... I don't know if they even make them. Everything here is city sized, and... I don't really think there is a 'space'." Pause. "It's easier not to try to understand, trust me."
He nods as Russell starts to make his farewells. "Since I don't have a phone number for you, if you need me, come and see me." He gives the address of where he's staying. "You know me, I'm up at all hours of the night, so coming by late ain't a problem." Kazuki smiles then, and notes in response, "Thanks... It's good to see you too. As much as I'm sad you had to leave so much behind, I'm glad you're here, and that you're reasonably safe."
"We destroyed so many buildings - so I wouldn't be suprised if Mecha exist, but are completely banned - and I'd probably want to go check the library to find out if the sky isn't actually a glass dome like the Truman show or something before I went and tried to go orbital."
"Will do, you take care of yourself, Kazuki. I'll be in touch as soon as I stop regularly getting lost on the way to places."