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No title.
(2014-03-31 - 2014-04-01)
No description.
Professor Hojo Hojo is, for once, as good as his word. The restauraunt he takes Alise to is a nice little place in Goug. It's not super-fancy - it's actually a cafe - but it's a *nice* cafe, the kind of place you could chill for a while and people-watch. It's certainly upscale. It's no slum bar or sleazy sort of cafeteria, that's for sure.

Hojo is dressed in...his lab coat. Over a suit that actually looks pretty sharp on him. It's surprising how the man looks when he bothers to look like something other than a greasy scientist.

He sits down. He does not pull out the seat for her. He is not a gentleman. He does, however, pop open his menu and peruse it for a moment before deciding he's going to order something filling and let the staff figure it out. Roulette!
Alise Alise is, as always, as good as her word.

The faint din of chatter from the patrons of the swank little establishment dims into stunned appreciative silence as the young woman steps through the front door and into the main lobby. Gone is her sharp-looking but business-like attire and carefully groomed up-do. Gone are her solid black tie and routinely polished dress shoes. She's even done away with the sling for the occasion.

Instead, Alise's body is molded perfectly by a brilliant scarlet dress that drapes over her curves like a silk curtain. She isn't particularly model quality in that department but she has enough to show off that it's worth looking. The fabric of the dress hangs down to her ankles with a sharp V-shaped split up the side along one leg to allow for ease of movement and tantalizing glimpses of her soft pale skin.

The woman's hair hangs free now, teased lightly to give it a voluminous windswept look which leaves several thick locks draping elegantly over her bare shoulders. Surprisingly, Alise even took the time to put on make-up, outlining her soft eyes with a thin layer of black and a modest bit of red for her cheeks and lips.

Despite her appearance, however, she remains somewhat stiff of movement though that is primarily due to the incredible amounts of pain she's in. Still, she knows how to strut her stuff and she gives it a decent effort. Taking her seat, the former Turk glances around a bit quietly.

"Are you sure this is the best place to talk, sir?"
Professor Hojo Hojo watches her like a hawk watches a bird that it's going to eat. That 'predator' thing is pretty evident here. That said, there's a second layer to his blatant checking-her-out - the scientist's analyzing stare. Hojo is, after all, a legitimate genius. While a lot of people assume he's just a lunatic, they're not the sort of people who are smart enough to be able to tell the difference. Hojo's eyes sweep across Alise not merely out of his own skeevy nature but because he is breaking her down. Staring through her. Deconstructing her, piece by piece. It's a creepy effect, and perhaps more intense and creepy than his usual demeanor. Being the object of his insane affections (if you can call it that) is bad enough. This is like being a lab experiment.

It passes, and he goes back to being normal levels of creepy.

"Are you kidding? Where would you rather talk? A padded cell in absolute silence? A secluded corner of my laboratory?" Hojo raises an eyebrow.

"I mean, I'm not averse to that, but you seem like you'd rather be out in public, in the daylight, with lots of people around who aren't paying any attention to us. Also, you know, *fed*."
Alise Alise's expression remains stoically neutral through the visual oogling. She isn't the kind of person who can deconstruct other people's personality or intentions through a mere glance so she remains blissfully unaware of the inner workings of Hojo's devious mind.

"Yes, sir," she says after a few moments trying to push that constant nagging voice of paranoia that's been present for as long as she can remember into the back of her mind for the time being. Since it will likely be a few minutes before the wait staff are able to get around to them, Alise decides to get right to the point. She produces a small case and flips it open before sliding it across the table to Hojo. Nestled in a small dimple is a circular green bead that is easily recognizable as materia.

"Restore," she says. "You wanted to know why I haven't been healed. Please, try for yourself."
Professor Hojo "Aren't you going to order anything?" Hojo inquires as he takes the materia and plays with it for a moment. He spins it on his finger in a surprising display of manual dexterity for a spindly nerd, then drops it in his pocket and equips it to his...pocket protector.

Or his calculator. Or something.

Hojo taps his finger to his glasses for a moment as he leers at her. Magic pours out of him and into the materia, and then the materia charges...and the heal spell is cast!
Alise The magic works as it always does, filling the air with a shimmering field of green light and twinkling sparkles. Alise sits calmly as the mako-fueled energy dances around her and, though their antics draw a few glances, it's nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

However, what is out of the ordinary is the way the magic seems to just linger listlessly, as if it can't seem to find anything to latch onto. After a few moments the power is expended and the light fades away with the young woman looking no better than she before. Small traces of green wispy light swirl around her exposed arms before it too fades, though instead of merely disappating the energy seems to seep into her skin.

Alise's eye glow a dull yellow throughout the few short moments that this all takes, fading back to their usual light blue quickly after. She sits quietly, allowing the scientist to process this phenomenon for himself. It's not like she could do much to explain it to him even if she wanted.
Professor Hojo "Oh you are just a *jackpot*," Hojo decides cheerfully as he watches her absorb the magic. "I am going to spend a *lot* of time examining *you*. That is just...that is just fan*tastic*."

He has no idea how it works. But the back of his neck is tingling. If he can figure out how to genetically reproduce that, he could add yet *another* wing to his SOLDIER project. Or a whole new thing to the Jenova project. Or...ohhhh, the possibilities were ENDLESS. He rubs the back of his neck, his grin widening as his leer becomes more intense.

"You are going to spend a lot of nights with me, Alise. I hope you've cleared your schedule. We're going to figure out exactly," he enunciates every word, "how," every single word, "you," EVEN THAT, "tick."

Hojo traces his finger along the table. If Alise pays attention, he's actually calculating things. He's doing math on the table with his finger as he stares at her.

"So.../not/ going to order anything? I feel like taking a woman out for a date should always be accompanied with a meal."
Alise Alise listens quietly while the doctor unleashes his joy at the strange properties she seems to possess. It is only when he badgers her again about the food that she lets out a soft sigh and picks up the menu, flipping through the pages until she sees something recognizable. Never one for passive waiting, she flags down the first waiter that passes by and relays the order.

"To be honest, I have no idea why this happens. At times, magic simply fails to effect me while on other occasions it operates normally. It's been like this for... well, as long as I can remember."

Which isn't very long. But that's another story.
Professor Hojo "Possibly something genetic. Do you have family? Children, siblings?" Hojo asks almost automatically, "We could test it directly if you do, or if you were willing to wait."

The mechanical, casual, blase attitude is possibly worse than the creeping. At least the creeping is showing some human emotion. This is just...detached and horrific scientist.

"Then again, if it isn't genetic, that won't do any good. I wonder if it could be emulated? Hmmmm...." Hojo taps his finger against the table some more as he trails off. The food arrives, and Hojo skewers some of what appears to be fish on his fork as an afterthought, popping it into his mouth to chew thoughtfully.

"Perhaps if I still had access to Angeal, we'd be able to test that even more thoroughly...hmmmm...."

Hojo leans over the table, getting very close. He takes a sniff, thoughtfully, then slumps back in his chair and rubs his chin. "Possibly some chemical you exude? You smell normal but there might be something in the oil of your skin."

He takes another bite of what he is now reasonably sure is not fish. "Well, whatever. By the way, you have absolutely /stunning/ eyes. Has anyone ever told you? They're *stunning*."
Alise "My family is dead," Alise says matter-of-factly. Her brows furrow up slightly but she shows no other signs of emotion about the subject. "They were Wutai citizens that tried to sell state secrets to ShinRa. The government found out and had them killed. I only escaped thanks to the Turks."

She goes quiet again to let Hojo muse. Her own food arrives soon afterwards, apparently having been something quick and easy to make, and she dutifully starts to make it disappear with a fair amount of grace while glancing up at the doctor every so often.

Alise pauses with her fork in midair when Hojo rather blatantly takes a whiff of her, peering quizzically back at him. The comment about her eyes actually causes her to blink and stare for a moment, completely confused by the sudden compliment.

"I... no, no one has ever said that."
Professor Hojo "Wasteful idiots," Hojo sighs distantly, "And children would just *take* too long on the time frame, even if we got started right now. We don't have that kind of time, not with my current predictions. Oh well. In the old days I had plenty of time to mess with that sort of thing." Another distant sigh.

"They're *very* nice eyes," Hojo observes after a moment. "The glowing effect is very similar to the SOLDIER glow. That might be a key to your strange nature. I'll examine that further later, too. But they really are very beautiful, my dear."

Hojo dusts off what he is now certain was not fish and goes for the dessert menu, just out of curiousity. "Cactuar Crumble. Who ever heard of such a thing? Sounds repulsive. I *have* to try it."

"So tell me more about you. You've piqued my interest in more ways than one, my dear."
Alise "Oh, I can explain that," Alise says after taking another bite of her food. "I was a member of SOLDIER for several years."

She leans back in her chair and closes her eyes, sighing a little. "When I was rescued, I made a childish promise to avenge my parents. It's what kept me going. I enlisted as soon as I finished school and was fighting in the Wutai War within the year. I don't know if I was good or just lucky but I earned a reputation for surviving where no one else did."

She opens her eyes and shrugs. "Eventually all the killing started to feel pointless. I lost my appetite for it. Instead, I started volunteering for all of the quiet dirty jobs. Something to get me away from the fighting. I survived all of that too and eventually I caught the attention of the Turks."
Professor Hojo "A member of SOLDIER?" Hojo pauses, staring at her as he hands his dessert menu off. Which one was, hrm, no point. He'd go hunt down her file later. "Hm. You'd think I'd recall! But I don't. Odd. I rarely forget a face I like, especially if they're involved in the SOLDIER project."

Hojo leans back in his chair and waits for his Cactuar Crumble. It comes shortly enough - it is a green-dyed crumble in the shape of a cactuar. He prods it experimentally with the new fork. "Hrm. I bet this is cactus. Cactus juice is really very sweet."

"Ahhhh. So you decided that killing people was no fun, so you became a janitor and cleaned up other peoples' messes. Well! No need to worry about that anymore. Now you work for me! That means you've moved back up in the world."
Alise She offers him a thin-lipped smile that looks strangely close to genuine. "I didn't mind being a janitor. It's thankless work but there's a strange sense of pride I got for doing my job well. Less politics too."

Alise digs into her food again, apparently finding her appetite. "I don't remember much about those old days but I'm fairly certain that I didn't have this strange... power back then. A lot of my memory is still hazy. A side effect from some head trauma I received when I was transferred to the Turks."

She pauses to peer at Hojo's strange dessert then elaborates a little just to be sure. "My transport crashed enroute due to engine failure."
Professor Hojo "Dear /God/," Hojo swears, and for a moment, she might even think that he was swearing about her story. He makes a face. "That was MUCH sweeter than expected. Cactuar Crumble is too rich for my intake, bleh. A bad habit and a figure-breaker waiting to happen."

"Head injuries usually don't cause memory loss that severe. It might've jarred loose some inhibitor or something, or opened a floodgate in your brain that wasn't there before. Maybe later I'll pop your skull open and see if there's something under the hood worth seeing," Hojo decides idly.

"Mmmm...maybe not right *now*, though. Need some more practice. I'll have to find something to practice on. Goblins, maybe, nobody cares about any goblins but the King."

Hojo runs his fingers down his chin and cuts some of the Cactuar Crumble to pass to Alise. "Here, try this, confirm that I'm not crazy." What a loaded statement.

"So. Tell me, Alise. Are you happy at ShinRa?"
Alise Alise gives the man across from her an amused look that very clearly asks 'did you really just say that?'. Still, she's a good sport, so she grabs a clean fork and takes a small bite from the offered piece of dessert.

"You're right, it's quite sweet." Subject change from potential lobotomy talk, full steam ahead. She quickly takes another bite. "Fortunately, women have a higher tolerance to that sort of thing."

There's a pause as she considers his question. "Happy. I suppose I've never really thought about it too much. I do what I do because I'm good at it."
Professor Hojo Hojo is either the most self-aware man in the world or the most deluded one. The answer to that question keeps a lot of people awake at night in mind-numbing terror.

Hojo is not one of those people.

Hojo sleeps like a log.

"Yes, so I've noticed," Hojo agrees as he takes a second bite. He makes a face and winces.

"Mmm. Well. Do you want to know the secret to happiness, my dear? It's really quite simple. I figured it out a very long time ago."
Alise Ever the diplomat, Alise decides to indulge her new boss. "I'm all ears."
Professor Hojo "Be useful enough to the people in charge that you can get away with anything, anything at all," Hojo says, "Then do that. Anything, anything at all. If you're useful, people will let you do *anything*."

"Ruling the world, being rich, all those things? Chore. You ask me what I want more than anything else in life, I'll tell you - a fully-stocked lab, a functionally-limitless black budget, and at least one attractive intern and my beach house in Costa Del Sol. I have all of those things. Because I'm useful."

Hojo takes another bite. "You get it? Be useful, and nobody cares what you do."
Alise "I see."

Alise leans back in her chair, setting the silverware aside. Happiness isn't really her thing. She's surrounded by insanity and the worst humanity has to offer on a daily basis. People like Hojo and Rhiannon, who are allowed to do whatever they want because of their so-called usefulness, create the problems that she's spent most of her adult life cleaning up. Killing people isn't even something she bats as eyelash at now, even if she does try to avoid it when possible.

"I think if I was a person who desired happiness, I would have quit or died a long time ago. I am quite 'content' to merely be useful, however."
Professor Hojo Hojo is pretty much the worst thing in the world, it's true. There are bigger evils - cosmic evils - but there aren't many worse *humans*, not things so fundamentally and wrongly human, anyway. Not like Hojo. He's one of a kind. For which everyone is thankful.

"Content is a kind of happy, too," he points out faux-sagely as he finishes off his half of the Cactuar Crumble.
Alise "I think there's a difference," she counters. "Happy is being excited or glad about the things that you do. You look forward to it when you get out of bed in the morning. You think about it when you lay down at night. You want more of it."

"Content is knowing that what you do has a purpose, even if no one appreciates you for doing it. Not even yourself."

She smiles and waves her hand lightly in the air to dismiss the heavy atmosphere. "That's what I think... anyways."
Professor Hojo "Mmmm. Alright. I tell you what. I'm adding another objective to your list. Find something that makes you happy. I don't want to work with a boring Intern whose only good qualities are her butt and her face. You need to find something that excites you while you're also baiting that idiot SOLDIER and running errands for me." Hojo levels the fork at her.

"You're going to find what makes you happy. Then I'm going to scan your brain while you're happy and while you're content, and compare the two scans, and we'll see if you're right. Check your brain chemistry and everything."

Hojo drains the last of his drink, stands up, and pays the tab. He tips. The waitress was cute. "I want to see if your theory is correct the only way I know how."
Alise Well, that's certainly not what she was expecting to hear from the creepiest person she's ever met. The part about the scanning and comparing results, however, is. Trying to quantify something like happiness should set off all sorts of warning bells for a normal well-adjusted human being. Fortunately for Hojo, she's anything but.

"I will do my best, sir."
Professor Hojo "You are my new third favorite person," Hojo informs her with the air of a man giving an Academy Award. "Come on, let's go shoot science at things so I can teach you how to do neat stuff."
Alise Alise smiles for real this time, a faint gleam in her eye that isn't from the mako energy swirling in her body for once.

"Yes, sir."

This scene contained 26 poses. The players who were present were: Professor Hojo, Alise