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The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating
(2013-04-25 - 2013-05-02)
Isaac gets some visitors. Emi asks an important question.
Isaac Hanlon It's late afternoon in Traverse Town, which, of course, means its dark outside. Cloud Nine has been as active as ever, but the TDA above has been a little less so. With the resident wizard down for the count, the atmosphere is a little bit more grim, though everybody who really knows him knows that Isaac would be cracking jokes to break up the tension right about now. It's worked so far... sort of, anyway.

Some days, eternal night just kind of gets to you.

Isaac is laid out in his own bed on the third floor. His room is at the far end of the hall, tucked into a corner with a door with a simple, ever-present 'ON AIR - DO NOT DISTURB' sign hanging from it. It hasn't kept anyone out since he was injured. He's been unconscious since Garland did... something... to him, laying still as a corpse and looking white as a sheet. He hasn't stirred yet.

Isaac's room is like a deliberately messier version of the rest of the one-bedroom apartments that make up the third floor. The living room is predominantly covered in electronics of all sorts, with cables tucked out of the way to prevent any unfortunate accidents, and with a shelf covered in old-looking books (some might call them tomes) resting opposite. His kitchenette has an intricately-stacked monument of soda cans dominating one counter, with dishes in the sink and a mostly-empty basket of snack foods making it definitely seemed 'lived-in'.

His bedroom only contains three truly personal effects: a thin and extremely old-looking leather-bound book on his nightstand, and two framed color photographs on top of the dresser, both of them group shots of a bunch of people who could be anyone from Manhattan.

The door isn't locked. It hasn't been in a while. People have been in and out; more visitors certainly wouldn't be strange.
Emi Dennou Emi hasn't forgotten Isaac's reaction to Dr. Chambers (who is continuing to perform social services through the Disneyfied Prison System as we speak). Emi also, notably, hasn't forgotten that Isaac is directly responsible for the return of Shida to the fold.

Which means, of course, Emi is considering whether or not Isaac is going to die and she'll have to pop over to Hades and try to work out a deal.

Well she probably shouldn't decide Isaac is dead before going to visit him and make sure whether or not that's the case. She doesn't bother knocking as she pops the door open to Isaac's room and steps inside because if Isaac has set up any sort of secret knocking system regarding magical traps or whatever, it may be more beneficial to set them off and hopefully wake him in the process than to actually by considerate.

And if he does wake, Emi intends to ask some questions.

It's hard to imagine an eldricht entity getting the better of Isaac, though. Even that Garland fellow, so the full 'hit' hasn't quite gotten to her yet. It isn't until she notices Isaac IS still on the bed that she pauses, brow furrowing in concern, and then she takes a look around the room, noting the photographs and the ... book ... as well. Well a detective's job is to snoop, of course, but she slinks towards Isaac first to verify his condition since that's more important to her at present time.
Avira In a tragic tale of role reversal, Avira is sitting beside Isaac's bed.

She comes to visit pretty often and stays for long periods of time, often shirking her need to finangle reconstruction or console heartbroken friends. Being the 'strong one' in this case, she discovered, was exhausting and only know could she really comprehend the burden that TRON had felt these past few months. But as long as Isaac wasn't conscious, she didn't have to put that brave face on.

When Emi enters, she might catch that look of intense guilt upon Avira's face before she hides it with a carefully controlled neutral expression. It probably isn't hard to guess why she might feel this way either, given Isaac's current one-arm-zeroed state.

After another passing second, she gives Emi a weak smile, then a nod in greeting. "Hey."
Maira Isaac was at the top of her list of people to pay a visit to for some healing. She'd been there, she'd felt the horrible darkness, saw him when he woke, bleeding profusely, his arm missing. The man had been seriously maimed, he certainly needed a great deal of healing energy.

Maira creeps toward the door, peeking her head inside. The girl looks worse for wear herself, though not nearly as bad as those who took the beating. Maira simple looks tired--tired and with ashes smeared on her cheeks, reeking of smoke.

Maira sighs quietly and moves inside, spotting Avira beside the bed as the door opens fully. Upon stepping into the room, Maira discovers Emi as well. She blinks, smiling slightly in greeting. "Avira, is he? I brought a bunch of potions and I'm rested enough for some healing spells...." she says, moving over toward the bed, preparing to go into healer mode.
Isaac Hanlon Isaac is unconscious, but doesn't seem to be laboring for breath or bleeding into his bed. His status hasn't really changed at all since the first bout of pouring healing spells into him: alive, but unresponsive. He's stirred a couple of times while Avira has been here, but only tossing and turning for a second or two and then settling back into immobility. Nightmares, maybe.

Other than the paleness and the lack of a limb on his right side, he's fit as a fiddle.

The two photographs on the dresser are turned at an odd angle, like they were pushed away. You'd have to get a closer look. The little volume on the table is an unnamed volume with the name 'John Dee' pressed into the spine. It definitely /feels/ old, though it's in surprisingly good shape for something written by a 16th century occultist.
Emi Dennou Emi feels she is in an adventure game for a moment. Maybe if she combines the volume with the photos and a slice of lemon with a wire stuck in it, Isaac will wake up? Isaac doesn't look to be in that great of shape but in any event, she approaches the photographs first to take a good look at them, moving nonchalantly because there is company.

"Thank you for keeping him company, he is a survivor from our world. To be more precise, he has provided assistance to us back then as well, indirectly, and others of course more directly. He is important to us, The Network explains. To see him in this state is as concerning by its nature as its being uncharacteristic of him." She will move onto the book shortly if not stopped. Just call her Snoop Dawg.
Avira "He's stirred a little but he hasn't woken up. I'm a little afraid to shake him." Or smack him, which Avira had briefly considered as a wake-up method. Though she had experienced a deep-seated desire to haul off and punch something until her knuckles bled, she'd rather not have a dear friend be the target.

Avira will not stop Emi from snooping through Isaac's things. He's a wizard, so Avira figures his 'secrets guard themselves' or other such MYSTERIOUS WIZARD STUFF. She herself hasn't touched them out of respect for the guy who stood up to Garland and sassed him.

She sinks in her chair a little, "He's important to me too." Just by her tone, it seems she's a little hesitant to admit it-after all, she knows what'll happen to those she /cares/ about now.
Maira Maira moves in further, frowning gently as she nods to Emi and Avira. "He'll have lost a lot of blood, he'll probably sleep for a while," she says, stepping over near the bed. She takes a deep breath, then reaches down to place a very warm hand on his brow, beginning to channel the healing energy in the form of cure spells, as much of it as she currently has energy for.

It wasn't so long ago that she'd been by Angan's bed after he'd protected her--he'd been unconscious for days. This is becoming a very disturbing trend she hopes doesn't continue, but knows probably will.

"Sorry I haven't...been back to HQ," she says to Avira, wincing slightly. "I'm sorry--about the fire. I've lost control again...I don't want to burn the rest of the building down in my sleep," she continues quietly.

This is what happens when you stand up to Garland. She can't think on it. No accidents today.
Isaac Hanlon The two photographs are placed in plain wooden frames behind glass. One is older than the other, a little faded by time but not enough to indicate that it's unusually old or anything. The older one is a bunch of people Emi has never seen before, though one of them, a young woman, bears a remarkable resemblance to Isaac himself. Another possibly memorable thing is a young man in a tall hat that, if one had been to the underworld recently, they might have seen on one of it's residents.

The other is somewhat more recent. The backdrop is apparently a bar, though there's no indication as to which or where. It has Isaac in it, grinning like a loon at someone off-camera and standing among a group of strangers, with his arm around an equally-strange girl. Oddly, both Mercade and Will are in the photo, with Will reaching for a plate of food next to Mercade and trying to be sneaky about it. They don't look like they've aged a day.

'Combining the volume with a slice of lemon with a wire stuck in it won't help me right now,' Adventure Game Emi's Inner Monologue says. 'Maybe if I had a rubber chicken with a pulley?'

Isaac stirs again when Maira puts her hand on him and channels what healing she can spare. His complexion improves a touch more, and his left arm twitches at his side, fingers clenching and unclenching slightly. He's broken into a cold sweat, now.
Emi Dennou Emi, sadly(?), doesn't seem to be setting off any traps. She does however take a bit longer with those photographs than she likely anticipated herself. She runs her hands across the frame and adding, "These are old photos." She tells the others. "Thinking on it, there are some strange similarities." She is more murmuring to herself, but Maira and Avira can likely hear her just fine. Why Isaac's mother is standing next to 'The Boss' is another question entirely. None of these answer the mystery (evne if it's one Emi made up in her head) as to how Isaac had such a hard time with Garland. Sure, he's dangerous, but Isaac's middle name is Danger. Or she presumes, she doesn't actually know what Isaac's middle name is, but it's fun to think about it.

She is about to reach for the book when Isaac starts stirring. She doesn't want to get CAUGHT by Isaac and even Emi has limits to her presumptuousness. She heads on back and wishes, for some reason, that she had a rubber chicken with a pulley.

"Don't blame yourselves. Isaac is this way. It can't be stopped, The Network attempts consolation." Though the fact she's kind of deadpan about it may inhibit its effectiveness but hey, she's trying.
Avira Avira likes to imagine that Isaac's middle name is 'sassmouth.'

She looks to Maira with a sad look upon her face when the young mage mentions she's been losing control of her magic again. It'd been quite a long time since that had happened too, hadn't it? Avira was so proud. She could see her friend getting stronger! "It's understandable, Maira. I...I'm sorry I couldn't have told you about what was coming. If I hadn't kept it secret, it would have become...worse."

Avira doesn't like to imagine how worse it could have been, frankly, because the whole situation was miserable enough. No, onto happier things, "I think that's working, Maira, keep it up."

She looks up as Emi remarks on the photograph and stands to go look herself. Clearly the only ones she recognizes are Mercade and Will, but the others...something about them...

"I don't blame myself for Isaac actually." Avira sighs, "That's the only part of this I know I can't. Knowing him, he probably said something to Garland." Isaac was also primarily responsible for Morrighan getting away.
Maira Maira turns her eyes back to Isaac as he begins to stir, casting yet another cure spell upon him before she removes her hand. "I'd have a glass of water ready, I think he may be waking up," she says, looking up to Emi and Avira.

In response to Avira, Maira looks down. It is difficult sometimes, to believe that Avira knew it was right now to tell her. She wants to ask how it would have been worse, but she can't. She can could have been worse, she supposed. It doesn't feel that way though. " he lost...?" she asks, her voice barely above a whisper.

Maira turns her eyes back to Isaac, wondering if she has another healing spell in her. The mage takes a deep breath, digs deep, and brings up another cure, the greenish white energy washing over her. Then, she flops backward into a chair.
Isaac Hanlon Isaac Danger Sassmouth Hanlon doesn't really have a ring to it.

Another Cure. It's nothing particularly groundbreaking, nor impressive, as far as white magic goes. It certainly won't heal the worst injury he has. It does give a certain edge to recovery, though. He settles back down, arm ceasing its motion, and, for a while, he's quiet again. Did it actually help? Maira is drained from even that much, and it doesn't look like it /hurt/...

"You shouldn't do that if you're that tired," Isaac says, his voice scratchy and dry. He hasn't sat up, but he's opened his eyes a little bit, squinting against the light in the room. He's looking at Maira. "D'you want the bed for a while? I'm good, honest."

Apparently it did.
Emi Dennou "Oh, good, then there is nothing to worry about." Emi says blankly.

She could have thrown electrohealing but has elected not to do that because it's not a very pleasant method. CURE is a lot nicer.

"Good morning, Isaac." Emi says. "Would you like a wet cloth for your eyes, The Network offers?"

She really can't do anything for the arm. Could he just regrow one? Isaac has done many amazing things, it's hard to understand his limits. "Everyone made it out." Well more or less anyway.
Maira Maira smiles brightly then, leaning forward toward Isaac. "I'll sleep a lot better now that you've regained consciousness," she assures him. It may even be the truth, she'll see!

"You're going to need a good bit of rest, so don't be jumping out of bed just yet...but you're going to be alright," she says, smiling still. It is truly good to see him wake. To see that one can survive against Garland. Not entirely whole...but alive.
Avira "" she says quietly to Maira, "I don't want to think that." But honestly, whether or not Angantyr was 'lost' was a determination Avira couldn't make. Only Angantyr himself could truly answer that question. Anything she says would just be her aching heart longing for the mentor she once had.

Avira just barely restrains herself from flinging herself upon Isaac and hugging him when she realizes he is awake.

She has no words to offer, remaining there with a concerned look on her face as she gazes upon Isaac.
Maira Maira looks back to Avira, nodding a little. "We can talk about that later," she says, standing once more even though her legs very much seem like they don't want to support her any longer.

Maira doesn't know Isaac well, and now that he's awake she's not sure she should be here. His close friends will want to see him, and she doesn't want to crowd. "I have some more folks I need to check in on...but let me know if I can do anything else to help, okay?" Maira asks, looking between all three of them as she heads for the door.
Isaac Hanlon Isaac has a nose for sniffing out half-truths and outright lies. He looks at Maira for a second, still blearily, and just kind of nods at her. She's got to go, and he gets that. He's a little surprised she was here in the first place... but, well, she's always kind of struck him as a proactive sort of do-gooder.

"That depends," Isaac murmurs at Emi, "on if it is really a wet cloth, or is actually just another stage of a particularly vivid dream." He starts to lift his arm to wipe his eyes with the back of his hand. The problem is, he normally does that with his /right/ hand. He looks a little puzzledly down and to the right, and his eyes widen for just a moment before he regains his composure.

Isaac squeezes his eyes shut and mutters, "Right. Handicap parking." It is totally meaningless and probably entirely out-of-context. Maybe he got hit on the head, too?

He opens his eyes again, fighting down his equal parts panic and despair. "That's --" He clears his throat. "That's good. That was a bad situation. How long, uh..." He hesitates for a moment. "How long was I out?"

Another brief pause. Isaac looks at Avira. "And how long have you been sitting there?" He smiles a little.
Emi Dennou Emi thinks about that for a moment before adding, "We cannot put dreams on people's eyes, it is beyond our capabilities, so this one thinks you are safe for now." Nightmares? She is about to comment further as Maira flits out. She gives the young lady a small nod as she does so. She may be a detective but she didn't seem to read her 'true intent' there. She hasn't thought much of ANgantyr and his role in this mess as of yet. She has worked with him on numerous occassions and indeed gave him a measure of trust, but he's never been exactly quiet on what he was. She's frankly unsure on how to react as much as anything and her focus is on the one friend she's got still from that world.

"A couple of days." Emi answers, having resisted the urge to make up a story about how it's seven years in the future and Mercade is a cyborg and Will is a mutant and Max...nobody's seen Max since the day he infiltrated Dark God Garland's castle. Some say he was captured, others say he was destroyed by his eel traps, nobody knows.

She looks to Avira for a few moments. She's never been that great at showing emotion, should she be sobbing at him or something, she wonders. She'd like to show some degree of affection for him, but what would be an unrude way to go about it? He just woke up, and she's been hoping to ask questions. Ugh. "We were in Fluorgis so we had to travel to get here. Avira has been here earlier."

What could she say to show her fondness for him? Hmm....

"This one snooped through your belongings a little." She offers hopefully.
Avira "Yes, later." Avira says wearily. She's spent enough time thinking about Angantyr lately. She, honestly, wanted a bit of a break. Preferably a break that involved going somewhere and punching something.

"Uhhh....collectively or just during this particular visit?" Avira tries to be casual about it rather than reveal the embarassing number of visits she's made. The guilty look on her face probably says as much though. "...glad you're awake, though. I was afraid one of us would have to go to the astral plane to get you back."
Isaac Hanlon Isaac would have accepted a dramatic exclaimation welcoming him to the world of tomorow. Probably.

"Oh. Well. Uh..." Isaac looks around the room. He slowly sits up, pushing himself back clumsily, one-handed. "I... don't have a lot to snoop, I don't think?" He's not sure what Emi is doing besides owning up to poking around his room. Given how often it is locked up tight, he can't really blame her.

Isaac looks back to Avira just in time to catch her looking guilty. Politely, he doesn't comment on it. "Ah. Well... thanks. Don't worry, I can handle the astral if I need to --" The last couple words are a little choked. He coughs a few times, then manages, "Could -- water?"
Emi Dennou "Certainly." Emi says. "And if it's alright, this one was hoping to ask a couple of questions." Right after she admitted to snooping too! Emi is more or less shameless, but she has actually asked for Shida to go get that 'wet cloth' a while back but now Shida has to go back and get just water water in a glass and of course since it's Shida she decided to bring along extra 'stuff' to begin with so there is a fair bit of noise outside as Shida rushes around to fulfill the 'order'.

When she finally makes it in, she has a wet cloth in one hand, a glass of water in the other, a plate with a bowl of soup on it balanced on her head precariously. She is holding a smartphone by her chin and she's nudging along a pair of detective novels along with her feet, you know, in case Isaac wants something to read as he recovers.

Shida very slowly approaches Isaac. "I h-h-hope you recover soon, Isaac, if there's anything you need, please just give a hoot, not a literal hoot Shida of the Network clarifies as an aside."
Avira Avira is thankful of Isaac's gracious show of politeness this evening. That must've been difficult!

"Oh, right, water-" Avira's about to get on it, but the Dennous beat her to the punch-unsurprising. They are a super coordinated network that can pull this sort of instant awesome collaboration off. As she starts to settle back, only now does she try to sneak in that quick hug to Isaac.

"Questions...?" She tilts to Emi. Avira's apparently a little confused still herself but she has yet to realize this. She was certain that Isaac was from Manhattan. He replicated the TDA office that one time after all.
Isaac Hanlon Shameless Emi is shameless. Well, at least some of her sisters aren't /quite/ so bad -- though Shida, in being the complete opposite, seems to be somewhat worse. Isaac openly stares for a moment when Shida comes in with far too many objects to her number of body parts designed to hold things, and then shakes it off before he embarasses her or something. "Wow. Uh, yeah, thanks. Just --" He nods a little at a desk to the side, clearly hoping she puts things down before she, say, dumps hot soup on herself.

Isaac does not return Avira's hug, largely because it would be awkward with one arm and remind him that he's /missing/ an /arm/. He smiles a little more widely, though, apparently approving. He clears his throat and looks back up at Emi, then. "Yeah, go -- go ahead." What could she possibly want to know that has to do with snoopi--

Emi Dennou Emi, to be fair, is only being as shameless as she'd expect Isaac to be. His impertinence has often served him well, hasn't it? And of course sometimes it made him lose an arm. She hasn't checked to see if there's some sort of scar on the other one.

Emi slowly facepalms as she sees what Shida has done. You'd think that as a hive mind they'd stop finding ways to surprise her but somehow, despite having access to their thoughts, they manage to do it. Maybe it's the books. The books were a bit above and beyond. "Shida, you could have asked for help." Emi admonishes.

She gives a small nod to Avira because, really, this is about as 'private' as she ever expects to get with Isaac. He's a busy sorcerer after all. "Our world." She says carefully, furrowing her brow again as Shida starts setting up stuff around on Isaac's desk carefully (and slowly). Shida's eyes are a bit puffy and red and she avoids looking at Isaac directly.

Emi is always struck by how individual she is sometimes. "Our home. You mad reference to how it fell before, but we'd like to know. This one apologizes for the timing, but perhaps telling will help, if even just a little."
Avira Admittedly, Avira's pretty curious about this too now. Heck, she always wants to learn more about her friends. the same time...

...this conversation-the direction that Emi takes it in feels like something that should be a lot more private than it is right now. Avira stands, stretching. "I think I should probably take off." Avira points out. "You're awake now, Isaac, which is the important thing. I'm...sorry about what happened to your arm." But hey, he's Isaac the 'unfettered' so maybe he'll figure out a way around that.
Isaac Hanlon Unfettered, shriven, free. That doesn't necessarily mean 'miracle worker.'

But sometimes...

Isaac watches the two Legionaires for a moment more. Their interplay is always something interesting to him. Maybe it's the hive mind thing, and exactly what Emi is thinking -- that sometimes, they still manage to surprise one another. He has an idea as to how that was even done, too, but it doesn't necessarily mean he knows the mechanics behind it.

With his only hand, Isaac reaches out and takes the water among the objects. He takes a sip, clears his throat again -- this time with less of a sound effect like sand paper in his throat -- and then says, "Thanks." He offers Shida an honest sort of smile. He gets that she cares. He gets why, too... or he thinks so, at least. He turns back to Emi, frowning, and takes another drink rather than answer her immediately.

He lowers the glass, looking into it. It's half-full, now. Maybe half-empty, these days. Isaac looks back up, nodding at Avira. "Yeah, alright. You've probably got some work to do. I'm, uh... I'm sorry I couldn't keep the HQ from getting beaten up." It is, perhaps, a little amazing that he feels like he's got to apologize for that after he got Garland to leave, even at great personal cost.

He waits a minute more, finishing off the glass of water in the interim. Then, he puts it back on the nightstand. "I guess..." Isaac looks back up at Emi. He hesitates again.

"You deserve to know," he finally says. "You made it out, so you should --" He clenches his teeth for a moment. Inhale, exhale. "Do you know anything about the Tower?"
Emi Dennou Emi doesn't really have any care if Avira knows about their past, but if she has things to do, then she has things to do. It's nice of her to be considerate, in any event, and she settles to keep that in mind for the future. "Avira, thank you again for staying with him." She tells her. "I'm sorry I wasn't there to hlep." She bows her head briefly but, really, she likely would not have been much assistance if this Garland guy was able to do this to Isaac--she imagines--but maybe she could have helped keep down the damage a bit.

She listens to Isaac as he asks what she knows so far. "Well," She says. "We are aware of the basic events at the time. There were a lot of ... problems ... in the city. Most people had left, for us we were using the opportunity to use Urban environments against Cronus whereas before we were held in lab environments. We were in the lab when the world ended, however, but we did see the tower. And we know it was unleashing ... more problems. It was rather impossibly large...but we had not seen the Heartless until the very end."
Avira "I'm sure there's going to be more opportunities in the future, Emi." Avira smiles sadly, "And don't mention it. Isaac's a friend and he did the same for me." Sort of. Close enough. Isaac did something a little more that she was eternally appreciative for.

"Man, of all the things to apologize for..." Avira shakes her head, "It's only a building, Isaac, we can rebuild it. If destroyed buildings and hurt people-" and broken hearts, "-are enough to satisfy that <GOOSEHONK>'s need for revenge and punishment, then we're in a pretty good place."

She takes a few steps away from Isaac's bed, but stops to turn to face him. "I didn't hear what he asked of you, but if it was anything what he asked of me, you did well to refuse and sass him."

She turns back around and heads out the door to his room to leave Isaac and Emi and Shida to speak. "See you around, Isaac."
Isaac Hanlon "Still..." He looks sheepish for a second, and then abruptly grim. He looks right at Avira, expression completely serious. "He wanted a piece of my soul, in exchange for his 'mercy,' his 'forgiveness,' and to go away and never bother Traverse Town," or you, "ever again. I told him what barnyard animal to fornicate with instead." Well, not literally, but close enough. He raises his good hand in a sort of wave as Avira heads for the door.

Isaac waits for Avira to close the door to his room before he, finally, nods at Emi. "Problems was putting it lightly. Near the end, people were turning into animals. I tried to stop them -- I think some of them calmed down, but it was..." He shrugs a shoulder. The one with an arm attached. "It was the end. I suppose we couldn't really expect anything else."

He looks away from Emi. "The Tower is -- was -- called The House of He That is Called I Am. That's God, capital-G, but with more words to explain it. It was in the netherworld, which was a special kind of hell made from His corpse. It turns out that on our world, he killed himself to keep his mortal creations, his children, from being destroyed by having a being of infinity around."

"It didn't really take."

"His archangels went mad, and the Tower was supposed to be Judgement Day. We had a plan to stop it, but..." Isaac shrugs again, helplessly. "Everything went wrong that could go wrong. Murphy screwed us."
Emi Dennou It's an interesting conundrum. Refuse Garland and he makes you and those you care about suffer. There seems to be a sort of antithesis for peaceful coexistance there. Sass Garland and he will focus on hurting you. Perhaps there's a lesson there, but Emi isn't confident in making such a gamble. Perhaps she is a bit cowardly upon realizing that she has something to live for and, as such, is rather less apathetic about dying.

Such a conundrum.

"Capital G God killed himself?" Emi asks, shocked. Of course there's plenty of stories about lowerf case g gods killing themselves, but this is capital G God! That's totally different! Or at least, so some would like to believe. Nevertheless, Emi isn't so certain she'd call herself a creation of God. It's always awkward listening to Faruja as a result. 'Well actually, Faruja, I'm an abomination upon his name!' is not something she has been eager to express.

"I suppose when one makes the rules they can feel free to defy them." Emi murmurs. Look, she's named after a biblical entity, she did look up a few versions. "And I suppose that answers the adage whether God can make a rock so strong he cannot break it."

There are plenty of martyr gods too, perhaps that's how those legends came to be, she thinks.

"'Impossible' is just a word people use to feel better about giving up'," Emi quotes in a murmur. "...We certainly would have said stopping that would have been impossible. What was your plan? Could it have worked?"
Isaac Hanlon Isaac lets that sink in for a second. Mostly he's having a hard time talking about it, so he needs a moment. He lets Emi say her piece, and ask the big question: could it have worked?

"It wasn't impossible," Isaac says firmly. "It was... it was difficult. I think we would have had it handled, if it wasn't for --" He stops. He's getting ahead of himself. He takes a breath. "Okay. So... we had our own version of the TDA, which I think you already knew. And Mercade, and Will, too." He almost stumbles at that. It's an uncomfortable subject. He presses on. "Mercade had a piece of the archangel Metatron in him; it was subbing in for his soul. There were a bunch of other people who did, too. Our plan was to have the Metatron with us, the Voice of God, and to have him plead our case. They had a sort of... Highlander thing going on, though. One of them has to kill the others to get their pieces."

Isaac looks at the empty glass. It's something to focus on. "I thought I found a loophole. I'd done a big favor to the guy who made these people the way they were -- who made Endgame, too -- so he was going to do me one back. We were going to gather them up and kill them on the operating table, and then revive them with a sort of... placebo soul in them, after the shards left. In theory, it could work. There might've been complications, but in /theory/..."
Emi Dennou "In theory it would have worked, The Network summarizes." Emi says. THe idea of a 'Highlander' system isn't so strange to her, in a sense the Cronus experiment was a slightly modified experiment based on a Highlander principal. Of course, Emi has no idea what Highlander is, but the explanation does it justice well enough that she doesn't need to. Emi wishes she could be a bit more endearing to try and soothe Isaac over, but she's actually pretty crummy at that. She's not all that empathic or rather she's not very good at showing it. Or emotions in general, she supposes. She's got her way and well--

--well as much as she'd like to soothe him over and say he can stop, that's against her job and her instinct.

Still, she can say, "This one appreciates your willingness to speak on this, we understand it must be difficult. So--thank you. What was--'everything'?" She pauses and looks back over to where the photographs were, but she doesn't comment on them vocally. Mercade and Will exist in this world too, so it must be strange for him. And they remember seeing that man in Hades, too.

Moreso than it was strange for her though it may have influenced her decision to approach the TDA in the first place.
Isaac Hanlon Isaac has ranks in Pop Culture lore as part of the DJ package. He can't help but make reference to things that way. If he were in a different position, he would be boggling at Emi having no idea what Highlander is, and then logic-chaining into 'have you ever heard Queen?' in a desperate kind of tone.

But he's in /this/ position, right now.

"Yeah." Isaac looks down again. He nods, once. "Yeah, difficult is a good word," he murmurs. He takes another breath and starts anew. "Surtr, for a start. Surtr the Worldflame, interim leader of the Ragnarok crew. You're probably at least familiar with him -- tall, skinny, red hair, androgynous, hot to the touch." Endgamers in charge of different groups tend to be high profile. Surtr took over after Isaac and Co. talked Fafnir, the former leader, into joining their side. "He had a piece of Metatron, too. He was an experiment to see if they could use it as a base for the Endgame process. We didn't have him, but Professor Chance had some way to call all the Project D people, so..." He makes a small hand gesture, as if to say 'there he was.'

"He came into the operating room, conscious, when only Mercade was supposed to. John -- Will and I jumped him, beat him down. It wasn't easy; we got pretty banged up in the process, but we did it. We /thought/ it worked, but it was..." Isaac shakes his head. Breathe. Inhale, exhale, Hanlon. "Mercade got it, and something else. It might've been Heartless, or it might've been the Requiem, but it was bad. It was driving him crazy. He couldn't contend with the reformed Metatron and whatever it was that was in there. Will couldn't do anything, I had to help Bee --"

Isaac clams up. He squeezes his eyes shut and clenches his jaw. There's a pause in his telling.
Emi Dennou "He must have been very brave to volunteer for that." Emi says. She knows of Queen, that's a bit more of a central pop culture icon than Highlander. Why were they made, she can't help but wonder, was it really just to 'feed' Cronus? There were definite goals of the organization--commit cruelty for the sake of cruelty itself was unlikely their paradigm, what was the benefit of a time mage to them?

"Dr. Chambers likely wished to return to a time before that experiment, either to influence it, stop it, or something else. This one doesn't know if it would have worked. But this one supposes the methodologies used have proved themselves to have a tendency to backfire." Whether it was Surtr, something inherent to the process, or something else--it's unclear. But what is clear is that Mercade went nuts. A chilling prospect, since Mercade--as she knows him--is a rather stable dude. Ambramson is not someone she remembers but she knew so much about these projects. There's a mystery around here, but Emi can't figure it out. She sets it aside, ultimately, to think about later.

This means so much to Isaac, she thinks, that once again she can't help but wonder--why did he save her to begin with? It's not like it was a 0 chance.

She shuffles her feet, a touch, before adding, "I'm sorry."
Isaac Hanlon Isaac is suddenly and inexplicably minutely less concerned about Emi's knowledge of pop culture icons.

"Yeah, I guess so. Endgame and the Project D subjects were never really that controlled, nor were they volunteers. I think that Surtr was a golem. Mercade... he's Mercade. A little different, I suppose, but he was the nicest guy you'd ever meet. He didn't volunteer, either." Isaac opens his eyes. There are dark circles under them. They're a little more noticeable, with his awfully grim expression. "I asked. I assumed, and I asked. How could someone like him say no?"

Isaac shakes his head slightly, slowly. "I should be saying that. If it wasn't for me, we... neither of us would be sitting here. We'd be in a place without Heartless, with Vitatech's worst elements expunged, with Endgame stabilized and without a reason to be fighting all the time, with the TDA still together and everyone living happily ever after --"

He stops again. Just a moment. Then he goes back to it, though flatly.

"Obedience, the girl in that picture, was falling apart. A golem. Her creator was gone, so she was... coming apart. I put a piece of my soul inside her to keep her alive. Will and I were hurt, Mercade was going crazy, Ben was getting restless -- and when the Wyld Hunt is restless --" He takes a breath. "We pushed on anyway. Out into the streets. Most of the Requiems just let us pass, sensing Mercade, but some of them... the Heartless got to some of them, I think. There was a lot more fighting before we finally got to the Tower."
Emi Dennou "Mercade is one of the nicest guys I've ever met, This one believes you." Emi agrees. "Whether it is arguable or not whether this one would even be presently alive if not for the Heartless invasion, it is absolutely certain we would not be alive if not for you. It is possible Cronus was some manner of backup plan, The Network supposes, but with that experiment come to an end we will never know for certain as to the intent." She isn't even sure she wants to question the remaining mad scientist she knows about. Hard to trust someone when they say things like evil science is immortal.

But still, the idea that Isaac would put a piece of his own soul inside a golem...

"...The Network doesn't wish to presume." She says. "But it seems so far rather strong to say 'It wouldn't have happened if not for me'."

She has more to say, but she doesn't want to cut the story short, she nods slowly. The Tower, she remembers, is where it all begins and ends.
Isaac Hanlon Isaac looks off to the side again. His voice is still flat. "Bee wanted to leave. Mercade didn't want anything to do with this supernatural stuff. Ben was going crazy because he ate something that used to be human, and the Wyld Hunt didn't like it. I talked them into staying and sticking with it instead of saving themselves. Will..." He shrugs his good shoulder. "I could've talked Melody into taking him and going somewhere else. I didn't."

Isaac has a good reason to think it's all his doing, everyone getting screwed.

"Michael let us in, when Mercade got to the door. It was kind of surprising, but I suppose a Nightmare Lord doesn't really notice the darkness hiding in something so bright, either. When we finally got inside, we were... different. We got turned into, I dunno, representations of our true selves. Mercade, the Angel; Will, the Fool; Ben, the Beast; Bee, the Doll. I suppose when you go into the House of God, you're practically inside the Conceptual, and that sort of thing just... happens. We weren't the people we pretended to be; we were the things we were at our core."

"Judgement -- the Arcana, or the one who held it, a fragment of God -- met us. He told us there would be tests. It was..." He looks back at Emi. "I expected a fight. You know? Or fasting, or something to prove how devout we were. The archangels were all crazy as hell; the fact that we didn't get attacked was staggering. When we just got asked questions... I figured it was a trap. A trick, somehow. I was always looking for a way out, just in case."

His voice gets tight. "I should've been looking out for Mercade."
Emi Dennou Emi notes that Isaac doesn't say what his true representation was, but she doesn't ask for it. That is a touch outside the scope of what she asked for--wouldnt' be fair. The one thing she is of certain is that the strangeness of her own life pales in comparision to this--well one could possibly call it something of an adventure. "In such circumstances, what sort of God to anticipate--must have been difficult as well." If the heartless were invading, and archangels going crazy--it's not hard to make the leap that God might not be so open to discussion.

Emi doesn't want to ask, really, she feels like she's twisting the knife. But she vowed to be a detective and a detective neither looks away from the truth--and a detective tries to help others that can't get help from anywhere else. The only question is, can she? And she'll never know until she knows what happened. Until she knows the cost of her happy life today.

"What happened?" She asks.
Isaac Hanlon "He killed himself," Isaac says distantly.

"We got asked questions. To prove our willingness to abide by His decisions, to prove our trust in Him, to show we were devoted to humanity and to forgiveness. We got asked questions, I skirted around them and nearly cost us everything right then and there, and while we were talking, right at the end, Mercade drew his gun and shot himself before we even knew what was happening."

Isaac's hand is shaking. He's balled his fingers into a fist. He's white-knuckled. "He wouldn't bring him back. He said it would invalidate the point of his free will to do that. We didn't have Metatron anymore, and everything went to shit. Will attacked Judgement, Ben was starting to lose it, Bee just broke down, and I couldn't do anything but stand there."

"And that's when the Heartless came," he whispers.

"Imagine a tower. Imagine a tower infinitely tall, with you and your sisters inside and standing at the bottom. The doors behind you swing open, and all you see outside is pitch blackness snuffing out the lights in a city on fire. You look up the endlessly spiraling staircase, and at the top, where there should /be/ no top, there's the same blackness, with eyes looking down out of it where there should be none. He Who Is Called I Am doesn't give a clue whats happening, and the Arcanas in the room with you are flipping out. How do you feel?"

"/Terrified/," Isaac supplies in the same harsh whisper.

"We ran up the stairs. I guess there was nowhere else to go. Heartless tried to get into the room behind us," he says, voice taking on a manic edge, "and John and Ben tried to stop them. Mercade was gone before we could even try to do anything else for him. Bee dragged me upwards, and I was just so -- I couldn't move, couldn't go /anywhere/, and up was just as bad as back --" He takes his head in his hand.

"They got to us from the top. I tried to -- I tried to hold onto Bee, but it didn't help. Everything turned dark, and cold, and... and then she was there again. She took the darkness, and pushed it away from me, and told it to send me away. She gave me the part that was keeping her alive, and just..."

"She just let go."

Isaac lapses into silence again. His eyes are shut tightly, and he doesn't even have the self-consciousness to try not to let her see him cry.
Emi Dennou Mercade...shot himself? Emi has managed to be relatively calm, if sympathetic, but something about just hearing that moment. She stumbles back and rests a hand on the counter to steady herself. It isn't the Mercade she knows--at least, not the one she has grown to depend on. But the most shocking thing of all was how unlike him it seemed. She doesn't like the idea that it might have been Isaac, too eager for results. She doesn't like that thought. It feels innately wrong in spite of the supporting evidence.

Emi reviews what she learned. God killed himself, it didn't quite take. This was to protect the world from himself. Mercade may have been infected with something beyond Metatron or perhaps due to BEING 'The Angel', he knew something the others did not? Or it could just have been madness. God wouldn't undo his choice but, well, that seemed pretty Godlike to her. There were meant to be tests, that could mean a lot of things besides just those questions. But is she reaching here because she doesn't want Isaac to suffer? At least--not as much?

She breathes out, closing her eyes. She approaches Isaac, once she feels ready to move, and sits down next to him. She doesn't say anything for a while. She doesn't comment on the tears.

Nor on anything else for a while. She is not good at expression, she thinks, maybe it'd be better if she didn't say anything.

But eventually she realizes that even saying the wrong thing would be better than saying nothing. Isaac wouldn't appreciate her giving up without trying. He would berate her if she gave up without trying!

"I understand." She says slowly. "I had many close sisters I could have saved, possibly, had I only done some things differently. This one's circumstances may have been what others would say was extreme--but the same would be said for you, or for any number of people. The truth of the matter is, for a long time I failed them. And I failed Cronus, by letting him be the killer. This one understands they wouldn't blame me, but it is not their opinion that makes me dream of the train. It would be our own."

"There are some outside factors beyond your control. Do not blame yourselves for them. There were inside factors that may have been in your control, but I know the sorts of people you associate with. Always caring for others. The sort of people you don't ask for help but come anyway. You're all like that. That is why you're good people, that is why none of you should have been called to make choices like that, but you were the people willing to try. If it was your fault, then it was our fault moreso for not trying, or thinking up something better, or something else."

She goes quiet again for a bit after that, then looks up and looks for Isaac's eyes. Tears are in her eyes, she doesn't actually bother trying to hide them--she isn't really like that.

"You can be rather arrogant, Isaac. This one is not meaning to criticize that, it is in fact a trait we find rather endearing. It takes a certain degree of it to accomplish great things, and to--not be blinded by what one thinks is impossible. Isaac, you've brought back a world before. You've even brought back the dead. There is /nothing/ you can't do, should you have just cause--and you do have just cause. Maybe your Mercade is dead--maybe he is not, divine beings have proved incapable of destroying themselves so easily before--but if there is one thing you taught me, is that there is little that is permanent. We can better understand what happened that day, we can seek to correct it. And maybe we will fail..."

She breathes out, wiping at her eyes. "But The Network will be by your side. We promise. At the very least, we owe you our lives, and Shida's doubly so."
Isaac Hanlon Nothing gets said for a while.

Isaac doesn't have a problem with the silence.

It's comforting, in its own way. Familiar. He grew used to it when he first appeared in Manhattan -- something he doesn't want to relate if he doesn't have to. It's a particularly shameful period to him, a time of mad obsession in the periods of lucidity between irrepressible melancholy and overwhelming grief. He hid away in the worst parts of the city, the parts that neither man nor beast would go to for fear of... /something/.

He shivers, very slightly. Silence. Comforting. Not again.

Emi says her piece. Isaac rests as he is, still clutching his head with his one hand, still doubled over. He thinks, but he does not speak. If he is at fault, so is she, she says. If he can gnaw on himself for choosing incorrectly or not always having the perfect solution, so can she. That's not how it is, though. That's not how this works. He /did/ screw up, and cost the lives of who knows how many people, directly or indirectly --

-- but that /is/ how it works, isn't it? He screwed up because of an outside force, something he couldn't have possibly predicted. There wasn't anything wrong with his plan; there were just factors that his ability to plan couldn't encompass, even at the height of it. If he's at fault for anything, it's not being in better control of himself in the end. He let everyone else do everything, all because he let it all build up for too long.

Isaac doesn't look up at first, but Emi catches his eyes after a moment. He watches her hollowly for a long moment, then squeezes his eyes shut again, swiping the back of his hand across them. He blinks a few times. There's a little life there again.

Without a word, Isaac leans over and gives Emi a sideways, one-armed hug. He's still a little too overwhelmed to say anything, but he's still thinking things over. It was horrible. It will always have been horrible.

But next time...
Emi Dennou Making Isaac feel a little better, that's a win in the Dennou playbook and all they can really hope for. The Network can promise very little, their capabilities compared to much of the TDA are rather meager--especially the original TDA--but Isaac is alive, she is alive, it's not over yet. And maybe power isn't the solution anyway, but tenacity.

For a while Emi worries she said to much, or didn't say the right things, but hugs are a good indicator that maybe she managed to help.

And she's so relieved to see that bit of life she just flat out, and strongly, hugs him back. With both arms, cause she's still got 12 of those (only using two for hugging purposes, however). She cries a bit. She cries for the cost, she cries that she never really knew people she would have very liked to meet, but she mostly cries for that little spark of life that she barely realizes she saw.

This scene contained 43 poses. The players who were present were: Avira, Maira, Emi Dennou, Isaac Hanlon