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Dive Into The Heart: Shiki Misaki
(2013-02-07 - 2013-02-07)
Shiki falls into her own dreams... and begins a strange journey.
Shiki Misaki It's been busy in Fluorgis.

Shiki doesn't usually get this tired. Busting Noise is starting to take it out of her, and she doesn't know why it's worse than usual.

The worst thing is, she hasn't seen a Reaper or the Game Master in weeks, either. None of these have been ... missions, exactly. She hasn't been officially told to get rid of anything, and she wonders why. If Fluorgis is in such a state, why not take advantage of it?

And when it's not the Noise, it's the Heartless. Or monsters. Or...

She sighs, and walks into the girls' side of the dorm after another long day of rooting around for corruption and dismay. Shiki tosses her hat onto the hatrack, sits Mr. Mew on a desk, and collapses into bed.

She feels lonely. She hasn't hung out with Reize or Leida or Lily or Lenn in days either. Or even Ivo. Surely, if they all came up with a plan together, they could do something to lick this and put a stop to it...

Mysterious Voice Her sleep turns into dreams. Strange dreams. She finds her standing amidst darkness. Pure darkness. Her footing is sure though. Before her, she sees a boy - small sounds coming from the headphones he is wearing. His hands slowly move to his headphones and draw them off just as he turns away from her. And amidst that turn, his shape changes to that of Reize... walking away from her. "I can't stay here." She can hear him say, just before there is the sudden sound of glass cracking.

Then, with a violent shatter, the glass bursts out from beneath her feet, and she suddenly finds herself falling and drowning in a thick water. A water of darkness, one that weighs heavily against her body. A water that draws her deeper down towards the bottom of this seemingly endless ocean.

Had she heard the rumors? The rumors that Reize wanted to leave? And what about Neku - the one that had helped her survive those first games?
Shiki Misaki It... sort of happens, yes.

Shiki dreams, and the detritus of the day's comings and goings make up those dreams. She didn't hear about this entirely from anyone in the Shard Seekers, but it sort of came to her as she sifted through the thoughts of the civillians while hunting for Noise. Someone hears something, rumors get distorted. That's all she took it as.

Or did she?

Because this is a strange dream. It's dark and painful, and cold, and...

And there's a boy. A boy of her dreams, although not a specific one, of course. But...

She notices him and starts, taking a couple quick steps towards him, hand out, but then he's gone.

"Running away, huh?" she asks, bringing the hand back to her chin. What is it with the boys in her life and running away, anyway? "I don't want to start worrying it's my fault again... I don't want to go back to that frame of mind."
Mysterious Voice The girl continues to fall down through the heavy water, further and further, until her boots finally touch the bottom of this dark ocean. And finally, some of that darkness is dispelled. The heaviness of the water disappears as the light spreads out from where her toes touched the water, and she continues to be gently set down by an invisible force as that light turns into beautiful white doves.

Beneath her, a beautiful round figure forms from the scattering light, the stained glass image of Mickey holding his keyblade up alongside Donald and Goofy - who raise their own weapons to the tip of his. The power of the trinity. In circles in a half-moon shape around the center figure, are a series of emblems of womens' faces. Might she recognize some of the Princesses of Heart?
Shiki Misaki Probably wouldn't have gotten too far chasing him, anyway. Can't swim.

The identity of the figure tickles Shiki's mind, but it's replaced in a flutter by what happens when she hits solid 'ground'. What a beautiful spectacle! She watches in surprise as all the birds take wing, hands in front of her heart- it's certainly nicer than city pigeons. But even that's not as impressive as realising what she's standing on.

For a few moments, all she does is run around, delicately of course, marvelling at how much detail there is in this strange tableau. And she's... not sure she recognises any of these, but it's nice all the same. Weren't some of these people in those paintings at the auction? Or someone like them, maybe? She's SURE they're familiar.
Mysterious Voice Then suddenly, a voice. A voice she might experience as /very/ familiar. It sounds like her own voice. Not 'her own voice', but... the voice with which she speaks now. "So much to do..." The voice wails to her, before adding, "Such a long road ahead..." It truly comes from out of nowhere. Yet... all directions. It's clear as day to her, that voice.

The ground begins to shake. Then, stones break to the surface. Without damaging the actual stained glass, three diases rise, in the directions of a perfect triangle from the center of the pillar around her. And when they finally come to rest, a light appears above each. One by one, a magical light brings entities to life above those pedestals. They appear, each baring the symbol of the Trinity. A Sword, A Staff, and a Shield.

"Power sleeps within you...
... If you give it form... will give you strength."
Shiki Misaki "So much to do... such a long road ahead," says Shiki. Well, of course she says it. It's her voice, and her dream, right?

Also: it's true. Not just busting the darkness in Fluorgis, but that's important too, of course. This is the road to the dream of the Shard Seekers, isn't it? We'll be fighting worse things than this if we try to take back all of those.

She realises, subconciously, that this dream is more lucid than what she's usually used to. She is... aware of herself. Aware of the fact that she has control and choice.

Aware of something shaking. Oh no, the glass!

Oh. It's OK. That's good. Something else is there, too.

She walks up and looks at what's sprung up out of the ground in front of her. The sword, regardless of its appearence, is easy to dismiss: that sort of thing has hardly ever been her style, so she barely even acknowledges it. But what's with the other two?
Mysterious Voice As she approaches the staff, she may hear a voice - her voice - ringing in her ears once more.

"The power of the mystic.
Inner strength.
A staff of wonder and ruin.

Is this the tool you would 'choose'?" Will she move on to the shield, to hear the voice's take on that item as well?
Shiki Misaki "That's interesting," Shiki says, examining it from all directions, walking slowly around it. "I don't really know if it goes with my outfit, though," she jokes to herself. "Besides, I don't really strike myself as a 'ruin' kind of girl."

What about that shield, though? She saunters over to it, and says...
Mysterious Voice "The power of the Guardian.
Kindness to aid friends.
A shield to repel all.

Is this the tool you would 'choose'?" Although it is 'her' saying these things, they most certainly are not coming from her lips!
Shiki Misaki "Now that sounds a lot more me," Shiki says, and since it seems so inviting, plucks it off of its stand. Whether or not it's her saying it, it's her voice, and she feels as if it's 'her'. And she knows that this feels appropriate.

She doesn't know what it's all leading up to, but it feels appropriate.
Although as she reflects on the words, she feels a little sad that it can't apply to Neku...
Mysterious Voice "Then then is the power you choose - you will walk with the power of the Guardian." The voice keeps using the word 'you', not 'I' or 'me', and as she keeps hearing the voice, it becomes a bit more obvious each time. The shield she'd taken from the pedestal suddenly shines in a brilliant white light, and then disappears. The pedestal itself rumbles and burries itself back down into the area below the stained glass that shines so beautifully from beneath her.

There the voice is once again though, "But everything has a price. What will you give up in return?" There remain two items.
Shiki Misaki Shiki Misaki is beginning to realise that there may be a little more to this than she initially gave it credit.

And she's OK with that. She's not surprised when the voice becomes... not hers, in a way, although it never really was, and... well, she knows what she's talking about.

The last time she held a weapon, it was a polearm, she reflects, which technically has the same purpose as this: keeping yourself safe and protecting yourself from the enemy, but as the voice said, also keeping other people safe at the same time. The opposite of those, of course, would be...

She's not entirely sure how to reject the sword, but she does so anyway, dismissing it even harder than she was already doing.

Not to be too hard on Reize, and all that, but they're just too easy to get hurt using, you know? And as she's had experience with, when you get hurt, it tends to bring everyone else down. Standing together is a better idea.

Mysterious Voice "Then this is the power you forfeit." The voice comments as she rejects the sword, and the ground begins to rumble beneat her again. The Diases all fade into the circle of the trinity, just before the flood shatters into a brilliant burst of light and she's left falling down amidst the darkness, rapidly traveling with this sick feeling in her stomach as she comes upon the next. This one, she can see from above before she even lands on it.

It's a beautiful view of Tokyo - Shibuya region to be exact. Shibuya 109 stands at its center, red numbers on its television screen. There's all kinds of fashion amidst the circles. But this world, it seems wrong somehow. There's a 'crack' running through the world, as if to show that it's no longer whole. "You must not forget..." The voice whispers to her.

As she gets closer, her velocity reduces, and she's eventually, and very gently at that, set down upon this new station. "You must not forget..." The voice repeats.

"Many times you will be expected to fight. You must not forget..."

"Shiki... Emi..."

"You must not forget..."

From the ground, a foursome of heartless slowly come up. That's when she realizes, she doesn't have her player pin within this dream. Instead however, the shield is summoned to the back of her right arm.
Shiki Misaki Oh nooooo the stained glass! It was so pretty!

No wonder Shiki's feeling sick. That sucked. She feels kind of bad even though she didn't completely know who any of those people were. She's pretty sure she couldn't dream of something like thaSHIBUYA.

Aah! Now this is definitely something she can dream of! She looks and smiles...

And then immediately stowrongness this image presents. Not just because of the countdown, and all it represents, and not just that... crack... but something more to it. It hurts, it hurts to see Shibuya looking like that.

Shiki breathes in, and she realises she's shuddering. She squeezes her eyes shut for a moment...

And when she opens them again, she's landed. And the voice is speaking to her, telling her that closing her eyes is a bad idea.

Eri, it says, for a moment. Why is that?

And then something happens which makes Shiki's stomach flip. The Heartless are here, in this drea... this place. She reaches for her pocket... and realises all of a sudden, it's not there. No player pin, no Mr. Mew, no partner.

'The time will come when you have to stand on your own...'

Well, she had expectations of this shield, didn't she? Put them into practice, girl, she thinks. Grasping the shield and holding it in front of her chest, she takes a breath and waits for the Heartless to make their move, using the shield to counter-thrust them back and keep herself as close to the centre of the platform as possible. Falling off is not an option!
Mysterious Voice The girl's attempts with the shield do 'something'. Every time a Heartless jumps at her, they bounce off and clearly end up worse for wear. But it'll take a while if she's going to defeat the heartless like this. Will she stand her ground like this, calmly wittling them down as they try to surround her and even dive beneath her - using the shadows deep within the ground?
Shiki Misaki Well, she can't exactly do anything to them when they're under there, can she? Shiki does indeed go with the slow, cautious route: light on her feet despite using the shield, she does her best to slip away from the Shadows moving underneath her. However, she begins to put more and more force into her thrusts, trying to perhaps knock the Heartless off the edge herself. Nobody ever said she had to play fair!
Mysterious Voice "... You must not forget the light in your heart. Shiki." The voice tells her, as the girl takes the steady-as-she-goes method of taking care of the heartless. And while she doesn't manage to bounce any of the heartless down into the bottomless pits besides the pillar, she does manage the explode the lot of them after a few good pummels with that shield! And she comes out without a wound on top of it too.

This gives her a moment of respite here, standing upon this Station of Shibuya... to think for a moment about her travels so far, and reflect upon her life so far. As well as perhaps that voice.
Shiki Misaki Shiki huffs a little.

"I haven't," she says, suddenly, perhaps presuming that this voice- which is like hers- will listen. "But it's a light that shines brighter when other people are around to be lit up by it, I guess?"

She admits she wasn't aggressive, but she's just not used to getting in there and giving people knuckle sandwiches! And that's OK. Relying on her friends and fighting together is what she's comfortable with, and they've told her- she doesn't need to strike out on her own with aggressive solo action.

Man, she's gotta go on an adventure with the gang again soon.
Mysterious Voice One might wonder if she had noticed, on further reflection, the hearts that had drifted up from the Heartless upon destruction. Something they didn't really do normally. As she stands there, thinking about things, the area seems calm. Like a few flecks of her own darkness had been dispelled right along with those Shadows. But then suddenly, there's a loud CRACKing sound, "But..." The voice speaks, as this plateau too shatters into a burst of light, and she comes to fall again. This time, she falls towards the final station. That last station... her own final station.

There, beneath her, she can see it. Herself in stained glass, laying back, floating. MrMew under one arm, hugged against her chest. Her little hat slightly forwards and her expression so peaceful. In her left hand, the one visible to her, is her Player Pin. But there is another form. Her TRUE self. The way she Truly looks. Shiki, laying back, facing the other way, opposite to who she knows would be called Eri in Shibuya.

The true Shiki too sleeps, her right hand holding a Player Pin. She too holds a Mr Mew. And unlike most stations she's come across, the entire arc around the figures is filled with those circles. Symbols such as the Player Pin and her favorite brand... but also people. Reize, with his silly little Ahoge - the Shard Seekers - but also Neku, Beat, Joshua... and who could ever forget little Rhyme? With that bright smile.

She's softly set down upon this station - and she has a moment to notice that there's another thing here. A door, a door through which a brilliant line shines.

"The closer you get to the light..." The voice speaks.
Shiki Misaki She did! And the implications aren't lost on her. But Shiki had nobody to point it out to, so it went unsaid.

She hears the crack, and even though it's a warped, somewhat incorrect image of Shibuya, she looks at it again one last time because it's better than nothing. And perhaps there's more significance to that cracked image she can ponder, if she captures the memory of this vista.

She can see a third, too. But whereas she viewed the first and second with wonder and trepidation, this one just leaves her... speechless.

It's her! Herself and herself, in fact. Ah, the stories she'll have to tell Eri if... when she finds her again. And of course, all of her friends. If this is symbolism of some kind, she approves heartily of it. Ha! Heart.

As she lands, she moves slowly around the entire platform, eventually coming to her own image. She kneels down to put her hand on it.

Some day.

And then a light comes on behind her, catching her attention immediately. What a pleasant light, she thinks. It reminds her of... that light she saw after she and Neku beat Higashizawa.
Mysterious Voice "The closer you get to the light..." It repeats once more, "The greater your shadow becomes." And in that moment, she can feel this 'jerk' behind her. This pull as her shadow starts to elongate and tears away from her. <"I want it..."> A different voice. This time, it's her own voice. Her true voice. SHIKI'S voice. <"I want it..."> she speaks again. <"I want /that/..."> A black figure rises from her shadows, /absorbing/ her shadows, until Shiki carries no more shadow...

Only her shadow remains, its eyes yellow, its body pitch black. <"I want it..."> It points at her, the shadow's fingers looking like yawn. <"Give me that body!"> it then hisses and yells out, and suddenly jumps at her, trying to grab her and dig its claws into Shiki's arms and body!
Shiki Misaki Oh.
It's suddenly kind of obvious, isn't it?

Shiki turns around to look behind her, a sudden shock of sickened realization on her face, as her shadow- her /voice/- lurches up behind her, darkness growing and rising up.

A little while ago, the irony is, she faced something similar to this- the mirror image of herself, an image of her true self- but this is different.

There's darkness here, and craving. That voice makes her want to puke!

In an instant, she raises her arm up to block it, but there's no counter-surge behind it this time. Just a SLAM.

"You can't have it!" she snaps back, narrowing her eyes. This thing can speak, so maybe it can listen. "You don't /need/ it," she adds, a low mutter.

This incenses her in a way the shadows didn't. Her stance is aggressive, putting distance between both of them. If she doesn't have Mr. Mew, neither does this, and she's the one with the weapon.
Mysterious Voice It really kind of is. But then, the heart is rarely subtle. The heart is a place full of shadows and light, and it can show the most disgusting side of oneself. And in this case, it is that lingering jealousy that once created Shiki into who she is today. That desire to be someone else. Something else. And indeed, irony has it, now it is coming back at her.

The creature of shadows hisses as the shield touches it. It flails and scratches at it, and the painful sound sound of almost metalic nails /scratching/ over further metal shrieks through Shiki's ears as the shadow tries to get past her defenses. It has a weapon! Those claws, if those touch her, the meeting will be /more/ than painful! <"It's not yours!"> It yells out. <"I need it more! Let me take it out! Out there! Let me take it out into that world! They will like me better in that body!"> It hisses, lashing out at her.

<"Reize will pay attention to ME! Let me take control, you will have Reize all to yourself!">
Shiki Misaki Irony fight!?

Shiki's hand grips the Dream Shield's handle until her knuckles turn white. Nothing could have prepared her for this, really. Not even the malice in the mirror.

And she can't do this with half measures. The things her shadow is saying are hard and fierce. Just like... sheesh, /claws/? What a shocker.

Well, if it's a fight I want, then it's a fight I'll get, Shiki thinks.

"Right!" she shouts back at her shadow, using her shield as a buckler on one arm. "And I don't need it either."

"I'm keeping it safe, for the person it really belongs to," she snaps back, trying to get to the shadow's side to slam it in the shoulder. "She wouldn't be happy if I lost it!"

"I don't /want/ Reize to myself!" she snaps back as the shadow continues, but this refutation has less conviction to it. Just a little. She tries to put the thoughts down by concentrating on slamming and shoving the shadow around. "Lenn and Lily -!"
Mysterious Voice "Lenn and Lily want him too! But you are jealous! I am jealous! Be honest to yourself!" The Shadow hisses, being slammed back by Shiki and quickly pools close to the ground, almost dripping down into the ground. But it's latching onto this lack of conviction of Shiki's. "They want him! Lily wants him. Lenn wants him. Leida wants him. YOU want him! All these girls. They're in the way." The shadow coughs loudly, twitching its his and fingers creepily, like this was some girl that just crawled out of a television.

"We need this body. Our own is gone. We can't give it back! If we give it back, we die!" Shadow-Shiki then suddenly utters, its eyes wide. "We must have this! I must have you! I must have it all!"
Shiki Misaki No, thinks Shiki.
That was a mistake you made there.

She scowls: she doesn't LIKE the image of that shadow slinking and smearing across the stained glass. But, she supposes, it's part of herself.

She can't destroy it, but she can certainly give it a smack down.

She breathes in. "But they're my friends," she says, and her voice is suddenly absolutely full of conviction. "Our friends."

She stares down her shadow, squinting as it makes a bunch of creepy moves which... just seem kinda tacky, really, by comparison. "And I don't value them more or less because of th- because of /anything/."

"And our friends," she shouts, rushing forward with the dream shield out. "Will help us!"
"They will help us get back to the way we were!"
"Shiki and Eri, seperate and side by side!"
"I'll find her again! We'll Seek her out! And Shibuya! We'll save them! TOGETHER!"
Mysterious Voice The shadow seems to get angry as Shiki gathers her conviction. It springs out of the floor and flails at her, only to land against the shield. And with all that power, light, and conviction within Shiki's heart in that moment, the shield lets a mighty beam of white light come forth, shattering and disintegrating the figure that was once her shadow. "~ never... ~ have him..." The shadow utters as its final words... and then...

Then Shiki is alone amidst that final station, with just that door left to step through to come back into the world of the waking.
Shiki Misaki Would I be happy, Shiki thinks, if it didn't work out?
If Reize eventually chose one or the other of them over me?
If we still managed to remain friends, even so?
...Without Neku to go back to?

He breathes in and out, her breathing eventually evening out again, remembering that this... is the darkness in her heart. It's her doubt. Of course it would say these things, because it's what she's afraid of.

All things will be answered in time, she thinks to herself. Once they free Fluorgis, anyway. That's got to come first.

And she steps through the door, wondering what new wonders are beyond.

This scene contained 29 poses. The players who were present were: Mysterious Voice, Shiki Misaki