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Dueling Forks
(2013-07-12 - 2013-07-12)
No description.
Alma-Proxy So right, it had to happen eventually, the bringing home the boyfriend to meet the family thing. Even if her only remaining family left was a singular older sister, and she still wasnt sure if it was alright to even openly call him her boyfriend.. yet.

As it used to stand in the Hyral family this was always a grand affair whenever a carefully screened candidate for future betrothal for one of the patriarchs and matriarchs daughters to come to their home and meet the family. It usually resulted in that individual being put through the literal wringer. One of the many steps in their long courting process, Alma had several memories of said individuals leaving their fathers study pale as a sheet after one of their little /talks/.

...she definitely wasn't thinking of marriage yet, that was so far removed from her mind that it didnt even register and Kyra certainly wasn't thinking along the same lines either, being the least traditional member of the family. She was just happy to actually be in some sort of a meaningful relationship with someone. Even so, she was anxious, despite telling herself over and over, whats the worst that could happen?

She realized that she probably already jinxed herself by asking that question in her head. But at least Kyra was allowing her to do the cooking, which she did gladly, not only because she didnt want her boyfriend to be exposed to repast of mass destruction, but also because it allowed her to clear her head and calm her nerves a bit prior to his arrival.

Deciding that less was more, she just went with cooking simple peppercorn steaks, with mashed potatoes, and a medley of grilled vegetables. She was dressed in the same outfit Seloria made for her. A white dress with a V neck, and a knotted waist, though right now she had an apron on, and still had her hair up in a bun, given that she didn't want.. she definitely didnt want the dress to get mussed up prior to his arrival. Nor did she want to get any of her especially long hairs in the food. That'd be.. awkward.

She barely spoke to Kyra while preparing the food, mainly because she had a feeling that if she allowed herself to do so, shed just be a rambling incessantly as the bundle of nerves that she was. Besides, she trusted that her sister knew.. the unspoken rules of what to do and what not to do, right? Right?

So Alma just continued to busy herself in the kitchen while she waited for him to show...
Alma-Proxy Riku sat in his room, leaning against his bed with the black journal in his lap. He flipped through the pages slowly. Some of the pages had been torn out and others were starting to show a little bit of wear around the edges. Whatever enchantment had been put on it, it was slowly starting to wear off.

He flipped past a couple of pictures of Costa Del Sol, so bone-weary that just the act of flipping the pages was enough to make his muscles ache. Political history notes. Clippings of information he might use in the high-speed information game, now somewhat defunct in the assault. The temporary housing got more and more empty every day as people were reassigned. He felt like a ghost sometimes, just drifting.. drifting without any real sense of direction.

Riku flipped through the pages.

He wished he had drawn something of his parents.

Riku smiles very faintly.

He had a /very/ good reason for not having any pictures. He took the disposable camera out and turned it around in his hands several times. Finally he tucked it away and put the journal back where it belonged. In the place it went when he wasn't looking for it, wherever that was.

Riku shoves himself to his feet and wonders how he should feel about any of this. He looked off to one side and sighed quietly to himself, fidgeting with the long blue sleeves. He rubbed at his hands, the skin unmarked. He rubbed at it hard with a thumb, as if convinced the black was laying just under the surface but stopped before the scraping actually started to hurt.

He ran a brush through his hair a last time and.. just shoved everything to one side. He had no idea how this was going to go. But he'd just have to be quiet.. and patient.. and see what he would see. That's all. Riku shrugged the short black jacket over his shoulders and made his way towards the house.

A short while later, there was a knock at the door. Hesitant and then a second more obvious one covering up for the first.
Alma-Proxy Fortunately for Riku, he would not have to meet the parents. Maybe if he did, this budding relationship would be destroyed immediately! At least that's Kyra's honest opinion on the matter. Usually it wasn't someone being "brought home" anyway but a carefully selected son or daughter from another family that had already undergone some screening from the Hyrals. Kyra herself had bore witness to the process multiple times throughout her life and, reflecting upon it, had a strong desire to never experience it herself.

That thought was looking to be the reality. There was no sign of their parents in this brave new world. So as eldest of the Hyral line, it was upon Kyra to forge ahead the new traditions. While to some degree Kyra did want to evaluate whoever Alma took a fancy to, gone was the need to select a mate for her, despite Alma's earlier insisting that she undertake this duty.

In fact, Kyra could not be more pleased that this happened naturally. She's actually a little excited to formally "meet" Riku today.

Voluntarily excommunicated from the kitchen tonight, Kyra waits at the table for their guest, fussing around with her Ma Belle. Perhaps in stark contrast with what Alma is wearing, Kyra didn't exactly go through any extra steps to get 'dressed up' for tonight. Her ever-present moogle hoodie is currently not on, though, which will give Riku a good look at her face and hair tonight. Through this, he can easily see the family resemblance between the Hyral sisters. While Kyra's hair is not long, it is the exact same shade of red. Her face and eyes look like a slightly older version of Alma, though lacking in the innocence of the younger Hyral. Alma didn't have any piercings through her nose either.

The knock sounds and Kyra immediately rises, knowing Alma is busy preparing the dinner for tonight. "I'll get that~" she says, leaving the Ma Belle on the table behind her. Quite awkwardly, Riku will find the door yanked open during his second knock. Kyra stands there, a big friendly grin on her face. "Hello Riku. Come right on in, dinner should be quite soon." she greets smoothly, sidestepping so he can enter.
Alma-Proxy When the knock sounded, Alma literally tenses up, and has a deer in the headlights look for justttt a moment. And then she whispers to Kyra to stall him, taking off the apron before she heads to the bathroom, quickly unbinds her hair, then brushes it down rapidly.

This was all done in about the space of thirty seconds, though she's still brushing her hair when she comes out of the bathroom. For some reason the context of the situation almost gave her a sort of traumatic flashback to when Saitei Dennou was still the Beetleborg and someone /else/ was knocking at the door. Someone with the power of /Force Choke/!

And then she hides the brush in the kitchen in one of the bread boxes(?), and she's returning to just idly cooking like nothing happened.

Her voice sounded pretty cheerful when Riku entered, though it definitely had a timbre to it that showed she was rather anxious. That wasn't strange at all given Alma's usual mien.

"Hello So-.. Riku." ...she still had no idea where that nickname came from, she blamed their current fondness for Manhatten movie marathons. For some reason she instinctively had shoved aside the idea of calling him Annie, since they both really hated the prequels.

"...glad that you could make it, with your graduation coming up so soon and all."

She offered a smile, then realized that given that she wasn't /done/ yet shed have to leave the two of them alone for a bit, Oh Cosma /WHY/, even so, that couldnt be too terrible, right? "Ill be done soon, why dont the two of you have a seat and get to know each other?"
Alma-Proxy And quite awkwardly, Riku pitches into the living room at the second knock a step before jarring himself to an upright halt and staring at Kyra. He then gives her a small and chagrined smile. "Hello Kyra." he pauses for a moment and then enters as she moves to the side.

"..It smells good already." He looks at Alma and gives her a raised eyebrow expression, perhaps even a little bit of a teasing mute admonishment followed by a not so mute comment.

"I don't mind, Alma. Although the imperial army is probably going to go looking for their food supplies after your done. Did you bring half, or just a quarter?"
Alma-Proxy Strange how Kyra seems to be getting the door for all of Alma's visitors lately. Kyra's not really sure how this keeps coming to be but a small part of her gets a little jealous about that. As for stalling, well, Kyra's already letting Riku in but seems to be attempting to engage in conversation with him to slow him down. "Refresh my memory, you've been to this new place of ours before, right?" Since Kyra doesn't really know, or really care, who Alma invites over to their place in Archades when she isn't around. All the stuff Kyra leaves behind in this apartment pretty much guards itself.

Guests have only themselves to blame if they touch one of Kyra's experiments (in cooking or otherwise).

Alma finally makes her appearance, albiet brief, and Kyra smirks a little as she right away notices that Alma took the time to brush her hair in those thirty seconds of stalling. "Oh, well, I hope we don't have to wait much longer. It smells delicious in here."

Cheerfully, she waves Riku over to the kitchen table and sits herself down. One of her hands scoops up her phone and takes it off the table, depositing it in the white mage's lap. Other than that there doesn't seem to be any other instance of "Kyra" lying around in this apartment. Her laptop isn't visible. There aren't any test tubes or explosive materials lying around. No crystalized viruses. ...she does live here, right?

"So what's this graduation you have coming up all about?"
Alma-Proxy "Hey, low blow, you only need to blink the right number of times to signal that I'm trying too hard, remember?" She makes an admonishing gesture with the spatula she was using to turn the steaks, as her voice took on a teasing tone, "...and only about an eighth of their supplies. I didn't get greedy this time. I'm trying to do that normal person thing of cooking a meal with only a single course and dessert. I find us strangely bereft of cakes at the moment, so I made pie, like the cheater that I am."

Nope, very little of Kyra laying out. After all, Kyra is a completely well-adjusted normal individual that totally will not infect her boyfriend with flesh-eating bacteria, the ebola virus, or dissolve his innards with curry. Right?

...but yeah, anyone who touched one of her vials, cultures, or anything at the back of the fridge without smelling it first would have probably deserved their fate.

As for the other questions.. she decides to let Riku fend for himself! Sorry, the question of whether her boyfriend had stayed over before and his graduation were not something she could offer backup on.
Alma-Proxy "Once before, yes." Riku lingers along with Kyra and rocks back and forth on his heels once with his hands in his pockets before walking over to the kitchen table and sitting down.

He doesn't elaborate and in fact congratulates himself for his self-control in not smashing mirrors and thereby leaving evidence as he watches Alma dart back into the kitchen. "I think that's called 'taking undue advantage' in the law texts, Alma." he calls after her, but doesn't follow up.

He turns his attention to Kyra. "Judge-Cadet training was accelerated considerably since the attacks. Usually, you gather the components for your armor personally and with careful research. Now, it's more a matter of getting people out where they can help."
Alma-Proxy No, Kyra would absolutely not infect Alma's boyfriend with Ebola. Her /ex-boyfriend/ on the other hand...well....

Accidents happen!

"Good, good." she says to Riku, "So I can skip the five-minute tour of the place." Smirking, she leans forward, propping her chin up on threaded fingers and fixes her bright green eyes upon Riku. Unlike Alma's, right now they glitter with mirth and mischief.

"Ah, that's right, Alma did mention you were a Judge-Cadet. Though yes, I can understand why they'd want to accelerate the processes now. How curious, though, I was not aware that crafting their ornate armor was a part of the process. I had assumed that it was an outcome of successfully completing the Judge training. Then, it would reason, that each Judge's armor is completely unique."

Kyra nods appreciatively. She definitely values crafting your own stuff. "So out of curiosity, when and where exactly did you and Alma meet?"
Alma-Proxy "More like a thirty second tour." She calls out idly from the kitchen. After all, it was temporary housing, nothing too fancy until the Upper Archades restoration as finished, not that she minded. She actually owned very little, and didnt care too much about most luxuries. Even if there were a few things she did miss from their stay in Upper for all of... three days, maybe?

It was pretty brief before Kuja and Alexandria decided to be jerkasses and mess everything up.

She starts placing the steaks on the plates, and portioning out the peppercorn sauce, made from mid-shelf quality cognac, oil, peppercorns, cream, onions, and beef broth stock over each one in turn.

"Yeah.. he might also be interested in enrolling as a student once we open the new Academy."

As to how they met.. she lets Riku fend for himself on that one too.
Alma-Proxy "Yes. Something like that." Riku responds with a nod, leaning back in the chair and reaching up to rub the bridge of his nose. His time sense is still slightly off and so he looks at Kyra with a slightly frustrated frown as he tries to remember.. and something finally, mercifully, comes to mind.

"Alma had practically figured out the one place you could see the sky from Lower Archades. That was.. eye catching since I was down there myself rooting out some potential trouble."

The thought is immediately interrupted by the next statement. "Yeah." he says awkwardly, his expression showing that he still doesn't really know what to think about that. "At least looking into the idea." he pauses. "What did you think of the Academy, Kyra?"
Alma-Proxy I'm pretty sure I can make it last five minutes in the kitchen alone!" Kyra calls back, "Not saying it'll be that interesting though!" She grins. "Yeah, I think you told me that already...about the enrolling thing. Well, we need a school first...I'm working on that."

She glances to Riku, "Someone's gotta or else we're going to end up going to Murasame Academy and nobody wants that."

The details of Alma and Riku's first meeting go uncommented upon for the meantime as Riku asks about the school. "Me? I loved it! Alexander Academy was the best experience of my life! I do hope we can one day restore it to its full glory...though we will need to find the right teachers to do that. I think that was the best part of the Academy." she sighs dreamily, "The teachers."
Alma-Proxy Sweatdrop, Alma had used a few crates of Mogbreeze and a quarter barrel Sodium Hydroxide to cleanup the kitchen after Kyra's latest attempt at potroast. Kyra probably could give a five minute tour of one of her weaponized culinary creations.

She finished portioning out the steaks on plates, adding the sides of garlic mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. She then came out of the kitchen and set down Kyra's and Riku's in front of each of them before going back to retrieve her own. The table had already been set in advance with utensils. "What can I get you both to drink?"

She just had a glass of water, plain old ordinary water for herself.

"And yeah... Id prefer it if Souji kept his nose out of the Academy business..." She pushes up her glasses on her nose just slightly, "...can you imagine what a business ethics course taught by him would be like?"

She listens to Kyra talk about the Academy for a moment, before agreeing. "Well, Ill admit, I can't say such glowing things about the people there.. but that was sort of my fault for allowing myself to be treated that way. I loved it there otherwise. The classes, the education, the teachers.." Well most of the teachers, there were a few that were thoroughly horrible to her, "...I was a little heartbroken when Mom and Dad withdrew me early, so Id really like to go back and graduate."
Alma-Proxy Riku as the outsider here stays mostly quiet, having no real memories of school except a few vague recollections of being restless and bored most of the time. He had always wanted to be outside and moving.

So the teenager instead looks at the dinner presented and comments on that. "That looks great, Alma. Just water." and cutting into the steak without further delay. "Why did your parents withdraw you so early if you liked the place so much?" And he points a fork at Kyra asking.

"What was so great about the teachers?" he raises an eyebrow and then chuckles. "Yeah. Business Ethics as taught by that guy." he snorts faintly. "Science.. as taught by the good doctor Alberic." said with faint alacrity.
Alma-Proxy Do we have any soda left, Alma? If so, get me one of those. If not, well, I'll go with water." Kyra's quick to offer, her prior incident in the kitchen with the pot roast certainly not on Kyra's mind right now. Said pot roast is probably waiting somewhere to be deployed as a weapon of mass destruction-but nowhere in sight, of course!

Kyra makes a face, "I'd rather not imagine what one of Souji's classes would look like. He lacks the...passion to be a teacher." Not to mention the whole 'caring about other people' thing teachers ought to have. Now it's also quite a bit of a surprise to Kyra to hear Alma admit that she brought all the bullying she experienced onto herself. Which was SORT OF true.

"I too would like to graduate! As for the teachers." Kyra picks up her fork and points right back at Riku, "Passion. A lot of the teachers were really passionate about what they taught. I can really get behind someone like that! It is probably why I enjoyed the science courses so much. As an academy for the best of the best, they put extra care into getting the best teachers."
Alma-Proxy She walks back to the kitchen, rifling through the refrigerator and opening a can of soda, before pouring it into a glass of ice, then Riku a glass of water, also with ice! Ice was one luxury that was a precious commodity right now in the Lower City. She came back, placed them in front of each of them, and sat herself down. And then came that question, Oh.

"...we had an older brother there, named Ramza. I'm rather certain that anything we did, he reported to Mom and Dad so..." She quiets down audibly, "...after our sister passed... I think he let our parents know just how relentlessly I was being bullied there and they.. withdrew me because they thought I couldnt handle that while we were still grieving."

What she doesn't add is that.. they were likely right, even if she resented it. That was a tough time for her. She grew pretty eerily quiet during this time after she finished speaking, finally taking the time to cut into her steak and nibble on a small bite of it.

Luckily the topic changes back to the teachers, and she nods, "Yeah, they were all passionate about what they taught, and most were the best at what they did. The best warriors, mages, scientists, writers.. you name a subject, and the Academy had the best possible teacher for it. And even though we had students that surpassed them.. like Kamon for example was good enough to best most of the instructors in swordsmanship.. they all took pride in seeing him do that."
Alma-Proxy "Hmm." Riku says quietly. "I can agree with that." he wants to say more, but his thoughts on how passion can tip right over the side of the well into stark obsession stays in his head where it belongs rather than on the dinner plate between them. He lowers the fork and uses it to spear a bit of the delicious and moist steak instead of the air near Kyra

He looks at the clattering ice in the glass as if transfixed for a moment and then shakes his head, rubbing the side of his head for a moment as he tunes back into the conversation. "People will usually do what they think is best. Sometimes.." he then trails off.

"That actually sounds.. kind of interesting. Definitely not like the school I used to know. Or even the academy here which is more.." he rolls his eyes. "extremely narrow focused." He shrugs one shoulder. "And for good reason, I guess."
Alma-Proxy Likewise, Kyra's gone pretty quiet herself when the death of her older sister is brought up. She doesn't seem to have anything to say about Ramza and his spying either though she herself was certain that he was doing such a thing. For now, she just sips her newly-gotten glass of soda.

But she will, however, chime in at the mention of Kamon. "He's good. Really good. Anything becomes a deadly weapon in his hands." Kyra's all too cheerful to point this out. Ulterior motives? Nah.

"Oh?" Kyra seems interested and gives Riku a curious look. Alexander Academy was the only school she's ever attended, home-schooling aside, so all of her points of comparison came from books and TV shows.

"What's this Judge academy like, Riku?"
Alma-Proxy She actually gives Kyra a ruminative look as they discuss Kamon, before looking back towards Riku, "You know, Riku is.. pretty amazing himself at swordsmanship. Maybe the two of them should meet for a sparring match. If nothing else it'd be fun to watch, but they might learn a few things from each other."

...She fails to mention that Kamon recently defeated a deity of their world, who is totally not a deity at the same time. But Kamon was a pretty peaceful guy who didn't go overboard in sparring matches, so she wasnt exactly worried.

And then she looks towards Riku, trying to gauge his reaction to the question. She felt pretty guilty that he likely got his butt whooped on multiple occasions or was disciplined in other ways for missing training on account of their dates.
Alma-Proxy "Painful." Riku says with a grin. "It's full of people like your friend Kamon, all of which are happy to squeeze any remaining ego that your mentor hadn't managed to get out of you quite yet. Sometime you should see his honor Zargabaath spar with his crewmates. It's.. definitely something of a spectacle." he chuckles.

"The rest is a lot of history, politics and law. The law isn't actually all that hard. There are only a certain specific set of rules. After that, it's just applying those rules in different situations."

He seems to be content with eating his steak after that, eating some of the mashed potatoes. "But yeah. That sounds like a good idea sometime. It'd be nice to have more variety in the people I spar with. "
Alma-Proxy Kyra got the whole Kamon vs Gilgamesh fight on film. It was pretty effing awesome. Every now and then she watches it all over again, not only because of the GILGAMESH star power, but because of ~Kamon~. "Well if you ever do take on Kamon, Riku, I certainly would like to watch."

Making a good assessment of Riku's fighting capabilities was also part of the evaluation. After all, good boyfriend material meant someone a white mage like Alma or Kyra could safely hide behind.

"Sounds like a good deal of memorization." Kyra remarks regarding Riku's learning of laws as she cuts into her own steak. "But true, in contrast, Alexander Academy did offer a wider variety of subjects. Law is definitely one of them but I doubt it was as stringent as the ones here in Archades."

She pops a piece of meat into her mouth and chews ponderously, "But to backtrack, tell me a little more about when you and Alma met."
Alma-Proxy Alma had also watched said fight on the video she posted. It was in fact, pretty effing awesome. It ranked up there amongst her top ten Dragoon Man fights. She wished they had had time to catch the Zombie Dragon fight on film too because she would have wanted to compare Kamons jump attack to the Dragoon Man footage.. Given that he currently ranked as her number one candidate for being the man behind the helm.

"Well, let Kamon know, Im sure we can make a thing of it..." She already knew that Riku was more than capable of defending her in a pinch. In fact, she was rather proud of his fighting prowess, so she really wanted to know how that'll turn out.

She takes a bite of grilled zucchini, before cutting into her steak again. Then after chewing on the small piece of the steak, washes it down with a sip of water.

"Yeah, law courses would have been interesting.. I think Mom and Dad always wanted me to go the medical school path afterwards, while raising a family at the same time, spreading the faith..." She shrugs, then hand wobbles, "...It'd probably have been interesting at least, but I dont think it would have been for me."

And then the subject comes back to how they met, and since its directed towards Riku, she falls quiet, but she starts to wonder where her sister is going with this.
Alma-Proxy Riku decides that the truth, carefully applied, has served him well in the past. So he gathers his thoughts together and his expression is extremely dry as he explains. He eyes Alma and smiles with that same extreme dryness as if saying 'feel free to jump in at any time' mutely as he looks back at Kyra.

"When I first came to Archades, I didn't know the rules. So I stuck out in a big way. In all sorts of bad ones too when I was being mentored by a Judge Magister. Archades runs off of information. Especially in the upper city." he snorts,

"So giving out something for free is pretty much putting a dinner sign right on your back, or sharpening your own knives for anybody foolish enough to take it. Of course. If you are simply an out of town idealist who had been recently mistreated by an insane corporation, you tend not to think of these things. I'm 9th bureau. Which means that, one way or another.. I get to know things I want to know eventually. So I tracked this rumor down to the docks, because all Archades needs is /another/ white-magic scam going on.. and there is Alma. With her telescope and the only unobstructed view of the sky." he chuckles.

"Let's just say for the next little while neither of us really got exactly what we expected from the other."
Alma-Proxy "Oh I'll pass on the word~" Kyra promises with a pretty worrisome tone in her voice. Just what exactly was she...passing on? That a Judge needed to see Kamon and that Kamon was in trouble!? That he could be arrested so he shouldn't hold back!? What a misunderstanding that would be~

Unable to help herself, Kyra rolls her eyes, "Just like every other woman in our family. White magic, family, spread Cosma. No individuality at all. Well we don't have to worry about /that/ anymore now, do we?" A big grin spreads across her face, which continues as she puts Riku on the spot again.

Fortunately, Riku seems pretty well to preform, painting a pretty dismal picture of Archades in the process. Privately, Kyra had noticed that outsiders were not held in high regard in this city, even if they could provide useful skills and services. Following the attack, though, some of those attitudes had been put aside but there were still plenty of people letting pride get in their way.

"Go on. From what I understand, you actually couldn't stand Alma when you met her." Kyra remarks, idly taking a drink of her soda.
Alma-Proxy Alma catches that tone in Kyras voice and wonders exactly what she is up to in arranging the Kamon fight... weird.

And then the next subject catches her off guard about their intended path, "...Well some of the above admittedly is what I'd want.. just, we dont have to worry about it being forced on us anymore."

Alma listens to Riku tell the whole tale, before giving Kyra a bewildered look at her response, "Um. Did I really give you that impression when I told you about him? I dont think /can't stand/ are the right words.. he probably just thought I was a pretty suspicious individual. That's.. pretty fair really, given where Id just come from, the healing services I was offering for free and..."

She cuts off a piece of steak, chewing idly, and swallowing...

"....Kyra, if you had very little hope for the restoration of your world ever being possible, and you happened on someone who coincidentally had a way to potentially make it possible, wouldnt you be a little dubious too?"
Alma-Proxy Riku smilles at Kyra, but this time. It is not nearly so nice. His eyes glimmer with amusement as he takes a bite of the steak. "Is that so?" he asks Kyra.

"Would that be the carefully omitted word, or the harmlessly indirect one? Because it seems to me that you already have an idea of what I am going to say, whether or not I actually say it." He looks towards Alma and then back.

"As to 'like' or 'dislike', I don't trust easily because of the way I came to these worlds. It was a rather abrupt lesson and a habit I never got around to breaking." He waves the fork briefly before spearing some zucchini,

"Tell me, I know so little about you and your work Kyra. Where is it that you've set up shop?"
Alma-Proxy "Yeah you did." Kyra points out, "I got the impression he didn't know what to do with you. Like he couldn't make up his mind between running really far away and sticking around." Her words are blunt and brazen. The eldest Hyral clearly feels no need to censor herself. She points her fork at Alma, "I'd be suspicious and I wouldn't believe it, at least not at first. But even before you came up with that method, there were a few instances of worlds being restored out there. least pieces of worlds being restored."

A smirk forms upon her face as she turns to Riku, "You'll just have to find out later, won't you? I'm intent on keeping /some/ thing secret for a little while."

But then a sigh escapes her, "I really haven't set up shop anywhere yet. I was supposed to pay a visit to the Draklor Laboratories here but the sudden war has delayed those plans. For now, I just do what work I can with what materials I have in this apartment. Unfortunately, the neighbors don't really appreciate science as much as I do. My background is chiefly in microbiology and genetics. With full laboratory access I can craft genetically modified organisms with practical applications. I would show you an example in my specially gestated leeches but...well, I don't think I should be bringing those out in the middle of dinner."

She shrugs, "For now, I have lent my skills in chemistry to helping Archades recover and prepare-not to mention investigating the ongoing missing children case with Alma."
Alma-Proxy Riku nods. "Well. I hope you know, without full equipment or not, that your efforts are appreciated Kyra. I don't know much about Draklor, but I have the feeling you would fit right in. Everyone has their secrets, after all. And they more than most." he chuckles.

"And I can afford to be patient." he looks to Alma and teases her. "Talking about me behind my back, huh? You know.. I think she's right. I don't know what to do with you. You are a rather brazen cheat on top of everything else." he looks at the plate.

"Although. Maybe I'll postpone the running. Just until dessert." he then takes another bite and chewed thoughtfully at he leans back in the chair and regards Kyra thoughtfully.
Alma-Proxy Fortunately while Alma was a bit of an idealist when it came to romance, she had no silly notions of love at first sight or anything of the sort. So after a moment she just quietly states, "I don't think I really knew what to do either Kyra. Its not like there's a guidebook to this... so there was a lot of flailing around on my part at complete random. I don't have a wide breadth of experiences to draw upon here..."

She nods slightly, "That's not really the point though, the point is that until its proven, it sounds like a scam. Especially when it comes from someone talking about their dreams, and grand ideals... sometimes those are the most dangerous people.. I say that even knowing that Im a bit of a radical dreamer myself and definitely an idealist."

As for Kyra's work, she just shrugs, her sister really didn't discuss much on what she was doing as of late with her work in science, and she didn't pry into it,

"Yeah, we think one of our neighbors is taking offense to her experiments with that spam mail we've been receiving... just can't really pinpoint who... kind of frustrating."

She laughs at the mention of the leeches, facepalming as she spoke, "Yes, as I discovered after I'd been tricked into taking my first drink ever, those leeches were a wonderful hangover cure.."

She gives Riku an embarrassed look, she hadn't really actually said all that much about her and Riku to Kyra.. it was almost all just on the relationship side, asking for advice but.. "Hey, she is my sister.. and being my advisor and confidant is part and parcel with it.."

She actually gives Kyra a teasing look, "But I dont tell her all that much really, just like she doesnt tell me anything on what shes doing." And then a glance back to Riku, stating in a deadpan voice, "...the most brazen of cheats, really. But as I said before, all is fair in love and cake war."
Alma-Proxy She shrugs, "For now, I have lent my skills in chemistry to helping Archades recover and prepare-not to mention investigating the ongoing missing children case with Alma."

"Thank you, Riku. I don't really hear that kind from the people here, so it's nice to know that someone appreciates what I'm doing."

Very quietly, Kyra cackles at the pair, where Riku agrees that, sure, he'll run far far away. Then Alma admits to bumbling around. "Well I know this is Alma's first shot at this sort of relationship. What about you, Riku? Have you had experience with girls like Alma before?" Sure, it sounds like an innocent enough question, but answered in certain ways...well...

All the sudden, Kyra is grinding her teeth, "That spam mail! I finally had it all canceled by suspending our mail service. Unfortunately, anything addressed to us will be destroyed at the post office so if someone wants to send you something, Alma..." she glances to Riku, "They'll have to hand-deliver it personally."

She looks mock offended though, "Don't tell me all that much? Are you kidding? You were /constantly/ asking me for boy advice~" she teases.
Alma-Proxy "Are they? I am having trouble wrapping my mind around drunk leeches." Riku takes a bite of steak and potatoes and moves the food around on the plate. There is a faint click, click of the fork.

"But I think I'm getting the general picture now." he smiles slightly and raises an eyebrow, hand stopping briefly "I'll keep that in mind, Kyra. As for.. what else you asked." he sighs and looks haunted, then bemused in quick succession.

"Only once. But that didn't work out so well. So Alma will have to forgive me for being cautious. Even if I will put cupcakes in her shoes if she persists in her ultimate domination through pastry."
Alma-Proxy She actually sputters a little at Kyras teasing, her cheeks flushing a deep scarlet, as she insists, turning it back on her justttt a little, "That was just about, you know, boys in general. You have a lot more experience in that.."

Alma doesnt comment on... Riku's past experience with girls. In fact she falls pretty quiet until he makes the joke at the end.

"Yes..." She holds up a hand, two fingers close together, "I was /this/ close to getting ahold of the Insane Industries plan for world domination through pie last night...." She continues to hold them together, "...this close, really! But Minette has a will like iron, and would not fall to the pastry bribe."
Alma-Proxy Evenly, she nods when Riku admits that he has tried with another girl before, but it didn't work out so well. Honesty, good, Kyra likes that though at the same time she had to wonder why exactly it didn't work out. Apparently it was enough to make him cautious though.

Smiling mischievously, she turns and wags a finger, "Oh no, Riku's name popped up several times, so it wasn't just about boys in general!" She doesn't say anything about having more experience in general, though. She'll fully admit that's the case, though not really when it comes to a proper relationship.

"So. Do you see this relationship getting any more serious, Riku?"
Alma-Proxy Riku gets a slightly distant look, tapping the fork against the plate as he considers that question. He looks sheepish and more than a little awkward, half because he was and half because it was probably expected. "I don't know how to answer that question, Kyra. I really don't."
Alma-Proxy Alma knew whom his past experience was likely with. She also knew she could not possibly compete with her memory. The thing is, she wasnt even trying to do so. So she didnt bring it up for that very reason.

She groaned, and almost wanted to bury her face in her hands at Kyra continuing to insist that she asked for advice on more than just boys in general. As it stood, she still dropped her fork with an audible clink against the ceramic plate in faint annoyance.

And then Kyra asks /that/. Now it was Alma that wished that Riku was a different kind of Judge, so he could red card that question. Forbidden: THAT QUESTION.

But this is one she wasnt going to let Riku fend for himself on, as she looks at Kyra with a steady, even, look, "....I don't think either of know how to answer that question, Kyra. For my part, its because I really have no experience with this. Were just taking things at our own pace, that's all."
Alma-Proxy "Hmmm." Kyra looks thoughtful, "I'm going to say that as 'too soon to tell' on it."

She seems completely oblivious to Alma's discomfort. That or willfully ignoring it (more likely) at Alma's expense. What kind of sister would she be if she didn't make this meeting painfully awkward? They both should be glad that Anastasia and Delita Hyral are not doing this!

This time Alma also chimes in with an answer to her incredibly awkward question. After a few moments, Kyra laughs. "Well good. You do what you guys gotta do. I'm not looking to start the wedding planning anytime soon /anyway/." Kyra winks at Alma.
Alma-Proxy Riku looks even more awkward at this point and busies himself with the business of eating and pointedly. /Pointedly/ pretending this part of the conversation did not even exist.

There is only the scrape and clatter of the cutlery as he toys with the zucchini for a bit before pushing to one side and finishing the mashed potatoes by piling it onto the remaining steak. When that particular bombshell is said to have passed, he raises his eyes to Kyra again.

"Tell me more about work, Kyra. You said you were a biochemist? How did magic and technology get along on your world. Was there rivalry, or did they work together? I've heard.. that traditions can sometimes get in the way of either."
Alma-Proxy If their parents were doing it, Riku probably wouldnt have made it to the door. Lack of a surname, much less coming from an elite family, check. Darkness user when their parents were Champions of the Faith and likely could sense that, check. Scruffy-looking? Check. Thats a one two three combo of How not to make a great impression to their parents.

She realized that Kyra was going far easier on him than either of their parents would.. that didn't cut down on her awkwardness.

She was half-tempted, HALF-tempted, to ask Kyra if she should start making wedding plans for her to marry Kamon and Helena at the same time. She really was, but shed made a promise to herself not to meddle in her affairs and relationships anymore. And honestly she really did want to see it work out for her with both of those individuals, despite whatever reservations she had about Helena, in the end, she did want to see Helena and Kyra happy.

Still awkward silence is awkward, and Alma is blushing so fiercely that her cheeks look like she just received a terrible sunburn at Costa Del Sol. Instead she works a little at her mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables after picking up her fork.

She decides to start Kyra off just a little bit at this question, "It depends on the type of magic.. but our faith, and thus most practitioners of White Magic, generally didn't get along well with technology. The faith approved of medical training to make our magic more effective, but opposed many advances in biotechnology on /moral/ grounds. Most were pretty unreasonable expectations to hold on the populace. So traditions got in the way a lot.. experimentation with White Magic and it's applications in most technological advances was outright forbidden by the Church. Completely taboo."
Alma-Proxy Kyra barely avoids giggling at the redness on Alma's face. This was kind of fun! She had to wonder if her parents actually too delight in terrorizing prospective mates.

Riku rolls for a SUBJECT CHANGE and succeeds.

Though Kyra seems to be pretty interested in that particular topic Riku blatantly brings up, "They worked together to some degree. True integration was a bit difficult to achieve and sometimes opposed by the older families. You know, adulterating magic with technology and all that. Honestly, I thought that was a load of crap. Magic is energy when it comes down to it. Whether or not it's a fire spell or a battery, it still runs on the same molecules changing their states and releasing...well, energy."

She sighs, "But like Alma said, when it comes to white magic, research was...more or less prohibited. Medical technology and white magic operated independently at the behest of many of the Cosma sects."
Alma-Proxy "It must be nice to not work under those restrictions anymore." Riku says idly, peering at the mashed potatoes and finishing up the plate so that only a smear of sauce and grease remains.

"Considering how much can be done to help people, given the right tools." he leans back and yawn, rubbing his eyes and murmuring. "Excuse me." as he settles back into the chair again. He chuckles at Alma's beet red status, but doesn't say anything.
Alma-Proxy "I feel that way about most of their restrictions. There was so much more that could have been done to help people.." While she's not quite finished with her steak, it sounds rather like she has a bad taste in her throat, "...but sometimes I think that some of the restrictions at least were there for a good reason."

She looks vaguely haunted for a moment, before shaking her head,
Alma-Proxy "I feel that way about most of their restrictions. There was so much more that could have been done to help people.." While she's not quite finished with her steak, it sounds rather like she has a bad taste in her throat, "...but sometimes I think that some of the restrictions at least were there for a good reason."

She looks vaguely haunted for a moment, before shaking her head.

"I'll um.. leave you two to it, I should go check and see if the pie has cooled." She rises from her seat, and retreats back to the kitchen, at an even pace.
Alma-Proxy "You have no idea. Though I was kind of discarding them anyway while at Alexander Academy for a while. Without Ramza around, there really wasn't anyone to police me." she spears a piece of grilled zucchini with her fork. "So I had the opportunity to play around with some white magic. Or at least tried to. My control over white magic isn't always the best. Nevertheless, I did find some interesting breakthroughs. I was well on my way to being published."

And disowned by her family.

Left alone with Riku, she studies the Judge-in-training critically. After a few moments of silence she speaks up. "You seem like a decent guy, Riku. You're honest. I like that." she says in a low voice, "But if it turns out that it's not going to work out with Alma, continue that honesty and be up front about it. If I find out you've been stringing her along instead of breaking it off, I'll break your face. Understand?"
Alma-Proxy Riku gives that less than pleasant smile again, but it warms a little as Kyra threatens him. "Okay." he says with a chuckle. He says in a low voice, putting the fork down as he taps his fingers on the table once.

"I'll agree to that. You seem to be fond of your sister, and I will always respect you for protecting her. But if that stops happening and you hurt her, I will put you in a hole so deep that men, fae or genuine gods would shudder to go there. I think we understand each other, and there is pie. Which makes everything better, yes?"
Alma-Proxy Awkward conversation is awkward. Alma doesnt return until after Kyra would have adequate opportunity to respond to that. Riku might even have adequate time to respond to her in turn if he wanted. She's already cut the pie into slices. It's just simple apple pie, nothing extravagant. And shes brought a tub of vanilla ice cream with a large ice cream scoop in it. A trio of small plates.

Pie makes everything better right?

She serves it out in silence, apparently it improved her mood as shes at least smiling again, she doesn't appear to be in another of her fits of melancholy. Entirely oblivious to what just happened when she left.
Alma-Proxy Kyra narrows her eyes.

The air seems to become notably colder in the room. A thin smile spreads across her face. "Oh, I think we understand each other." she says shortly. Awkward silence follows afterwards, only broken by the clatter of plates against the table as a slice of pie is put in front of her.

Kyra doesn't offer anymore words for the moment and digs in.
Alma-Proxy Riku has pie. He is content.

He picks up the fork and twirls it around idly for a moment before setting into the delicious apple pie, cutting into the melting ice cream on top and seeming extremely pleased.

"..Alma, you should think about trying to convince Max to teach at the new school. I think people would benefit from cooking this good." Besides, a thief teaching cooking at a school for elite adventurers sounded crazy enough to be just another Tuesday, all things considered.
Alma-Proxy Okay they were talking, now they are not. Alma gets the impression that they were likely talking about something they didnt want her to hear. Thats also okay, entirely expected.

She doesn't have the first clue on what it was, or even that the interaction between them just got decidedly chilly.

In fact she still looks decidedly cheerful when she sits back down, with her own slice of apple pie ala mode.

"So.. I'm thinking I need to have an academy pie war next. Since the Murasame Zaibatsu.. well I have a lot of friends there, but some of them are sticks in the mud. Pretty sure Souji would storm out of his office if he caught wind of them doing it on the ship."

She actually shudders unconsciously when Max is mentioned, "Um, well the thing is... Max's training methods are actually quite deadly.. as in, you'll become a genius cook but youll nearly die at least three times a lesson. I'm not even joking. Pretty sure thats too intense even for our combat instructors, much less a cooking one."
Alma-Proxy Riku thinks about it and then nods. "Yeah. That sounds about right. Even more reason for you to convince him. He'll fit right in." he chuckles,

"Because. An academy pie war needs to happen, and so does the ..what does that word mean. Zaibatsu? " he shakes his head.

"Nevermind. I'll look it up. Even if you have to scale the heights of the corporate tower and splat every employee in the corporate ladder up to Souji. Pie solves everything."
Alma-Proxy "Don't board the ship. The last thing I want to do is deal with more disruptions from that Feige annoyance." Kyra scowls quite suddenly. She is /ever/ so sick of that woman picking on Alma. "It's an older Ramuha word, by the way. It doesn't quite mean company, but it's close. There's more of a feudal flavor to it. Like mini-kingdom."
Alma-Proxy "I wouldn't board the ship anyway, Souji banned me from stepping foot on it when I resigned." She shrugs her shoulders, "I'd probably just have them delivered, with a note which states /surprise/, and instructions on how to hold a pie war."

"And Feige is well... dead, or decidedly indisposed... Emi told me the other day that she unleashed an actual deity of Chaos in the world, and the Twilight Detective Agency killed her, or at least came close, theyre not sure." She twirls her finger around in the air, "/Huzzah/ apparently her god was Chaos, not the Jewish Yahweh after all. So there it is, something else for us to imprison, defeat, or destroy."

She continues to eat at her pie, "...and thus, my efforts will have to turn away from trying to bring some joy to Souji Murasame's life, through pie.. because of that."
Alma-Proxy Riku nods. "Huh. Alright." he pauses and then nods. "..makes sense." He then mentally sweatdrops. They went most of the conversation without one of Alma's infamous infodrops of doom. He lets it fall to the wayside . "Such a shame." and continues to eat pie.

This scene contained 52 poses. The players who were present were: Alma-Proxy.