Luca, as always, is a bustle of activity. The Blitzball stadium isn't on right now, but it's still alive with activity, Sphere Break junkies loitering in the halls while Blitzers wander around, anxious about the upcoming season. Of particular note here is the bar in Luca's main square; while all but impossible to enter for the collosal crowd, during Blitz season, as it is the bar is somewhat more sedately populated, including by one woman of particular garb who some among us may recognize as the young woman named Paine. She's between missions, the others are...well, elsewhere, and Paine has a few hours to kill before they need to come pick her up. So here she sits, drinking some Spiran concoction no doubt banned by Yevon until the Spiran church was destroyed along with Sin, two years ago.

Entering into the city from the Mi'hen Highroad is a particular blond cyborg. Walking down the steps, Ziggurat 8 observes the architecture, and the inhabitants. He's taken it upon himself to try and learn more about various zones in Videoland, his interest especially sparked by an encounter with the Queen Metroid in the Puzzle Zone a few days prior. Looking around he notices what looks like a bar, and since bars are primary hubs of information (he comes from an RPG too) he heads towards it. As of yet he has no specific interest in Spira, though he is always willing to learn.

Ahh, the bar. The watering hole; the social focus of any decent community--in an RPG, at least. Even if Albedo doesn't have a Gamemaster's knowledge of the realm, he does know at least this much by instinct alone. And the retrovirus had his own reasons to be out looking for information, now that the Heartless were defeated and he had his own mission to resume. So it is that Albedo--his blood-stained uniform slash flightsuit switched out in favor of civilian gear for the moment--too comes striding up to the door of the bar. He slows his steps, though, as he catches sight of a half-familiar blond entity before him--might Fate be conspiring to give him a hand once more in this...? Hmmm. Slowing a little further, and letting a knot of kibitzing Blitzers wander between him and Ziggy, the retrovirus heads toward the door of the bar with his eyes on the cyborg.

Already having wandered here- through various warps and what-have-you- from /Dreamland/ of all places, Ms. Amano has found her way into the bar as well. She quietly sits down a couple of seats from Paine, looking a little frustrated. Her lower lip is, notably, bleeding a little. And, since she's a friendly person, she waves a little to the girl a couple seats down. "Hello, how're you?" she asks, picking up a napkin and finally getting rid of that nasty little trickle from her lip.

Paine glances up at Maya as she arrives. She looks at her neutrally, as if not particularly interested in just whether she exists or not. "...hi," she grunts, then goes back to her drink. There. Pleasantries. See, Yuna? Paine can be cool.

Other new entrants are ignored, because Paine doesn't care about them.

Entering the bar, Ziggy walks up to a seat. He has an odd feeling, like he's being watched, though he dismisses it. He's realized since he entered the city that people with mechanical limbs don't appear to be common, though the world does have moderately advanced technology, he still must be an odd sight to the locals. So he ignores the odd feeling, thinking it just must be a curious resident. Addressing the bartender he actually orders a drink.


Well, Ziggy can't really consume MUCH, his remaining organic parts are sensitive and he needs to watch what he consumes. Alcohol is a no-no, and so is just about everything else besides water and registered nutrient packs from Ziggurat Industries.

If only it were, and not something significantly more ominous--if not malevolent! Albedo narrows his eyes slightly as Ziggy enters the bar; that was not unexpected. Once more, he bides his time a minute or two before stepping to the door and shoulder his way in. He stands in the doorway for a moment as a human might to let his eyes adjust to the dimmer interior lighting...then steps over to the bar, taking a seat by Ziggy. He gives the bartender a polite shake of the head as the man looks his way, before turning his attention to the cyborg at his right. "So-o, out for a walk, are we?"

Maya rapidly finds out that Paine is not in the mood to talk. As such, she picks one of the new faces who've recently entered the bar. Hmm... on one hand, guy with spectacular cyberware, and Maya has had horrible experiences with things like the X units... or, on the other, a /relatively/ normal-looking guy. I think we all know which choice we'd make in such a situation. She looks at Albedo, and waves a little, and says, simply, "Hi!"

Paine sits there. Sip. Spira's been getting some weirdos lately, but as the zone has typically been fairly remote - Blitz apparently caught on outside, but Yevon and then...well, coincidence, managed to keep Videoland secret from just bout the whole damn world for two years - Paine doesn't really register the possibility of outsiders. She glances briefly over her shoulder at the other two newcomers. The cyborg gets some attention, but she's seen that kind of thing before. Paine summarily returns to her drink.

Ziggy had just finished his glass of water when Albedo speaks. He pauses, considering the posibility of it being a coincidence, of a local that just happens to share the same voice. Though briefly turning his head would prove it's what he fears. He blinks, then places the glass down on the bar. "...Albedo." He says, his voice still as calm and solid as always. He turns to face him fully, rightfully suspicious "What is your purpose here?" He doesn't really expect a straight answer, as if Albedo has /ever/ given anyone a straight answer, but he still feels obliged to ask.

How likely was that, really? More than the voice, Albedo just has this way of speaking that's unlikely to be duplicated by, well--much of anyone. The retrovirus shifts a little in his seat to face Ziggy, leaning an elbow against the bar and smiling wryly at the cyborg. "I could ask the same of YOU, Ziggy," he remarks. "This is a little -far- from your normal haunts--and I TRUST ma pÍche is in good care, since you're out /here/--hm?" Answering a question with another question--typical Albedo.

As Maya greets him, Albedo looks over in her direction, arching a white brow as he mentally places where he's seen her before. Oh--she was Heartless, too. A moment more, and he has a name. "Ahh, Miss Amano. Hello. I trust you've been doing well since getting your heart back?"

... Oh, so /that's/ why she gravitated a little more toward Albedo- besides, of course, the fact that he's moderately less imposing than a massive cyborg. It... kind of makes sense. "I've been okay! Though I... can't say the same of a lot of my friends, unfortunately." She sighs a little, but quickly forces herself back up to a more cheerful level, adding, "But it'll work out in the end! How have you been doing, then? Have people been suspicious of you, too?"


Paine stops drinking mid-sip. Hmmmm. Ex-Heartless. Not worth it.


"I always ascertain to MOMO's safety, not that she is any concern of yours." Ziggy says to Albedo, emphasizing the last part of that sentance. "As for what I am doing here, that is also no concern of yours. However, you on the other hand, can be up to nothing less than sinister." Heartless aside, Ziggy doesn't trust Albedo because he's /Albedo/. You didn't need to encounter him with a Heartless insignia on his chest to know that he's dangerous. And downright starkers to boot.

"As you can see, Miss Amano, I don't even need to be -Heartless- for them to suspect me," Albedo replies with a smile to Maya, once Ziggy's done making his response. "It's an -occupational hazard-, I suppose." Turning those mad violet eyes back to the cyborg, the retrovirus smirks openly at Ziggy. "She's of -every- concern to me, Ziggy," he chides. "I'm as interested in her wellbeing as -you-, cyborg. A point of similarity between us--? Ahh yess--she DOES have a way of bringing out the humanity in people, the essential nature of things. Observational--in more ways than one?" He chuckles to himself, as if at some private joke. "So, so. I'm up to something sinister. I'm no longer -allowed- to simply explore the wider world without having some MOTIVE behind it? Tsk, tsk. Such paranoia! I'm offended." He grins.

"You're also irritating," Paine supplies blandly from the bar. Then she takes another drink.

"I could do much worse," Albedo replies smoothly to Paine.

"Probably." Siiiiiiiiiip. That's a deep drink. Must be Plot Device brand. Never empty until I say so!

Well. Albedo's certainly an /interesting/ person... and his stance is certainly understandable. It /is/ hard to walk around Videoland without attracting some degree of suspicion. "I see... that must be hard," Maya replies to Albedo, once he's done responding to Ziggurat 8. "If you need any help, just ask! I'd be happy to help someone in the same situation as I am..." She gives Albedo a genuine smile, showing quite painfully that she has /no idea/ whatsoever how evil 'bedo is.

Paine is currently the Peanut Gallery until someone speaks to her. Poor Paine.

"So you're offended." Ziggy states. "And you have given none of us any reason to believe you would be up to anything less." He doesn't respond to his spiel about MOMO, though it's not ignored. He'd rather not see his point, and he doesn't wish to be placed on the same level as the retrovirus. But he doesn't let it get to him, he's aware that Albedo is trying to play mind games. As Paine walks by and comments to Albedo, Ziggy merely glances in her direction once, then turns back to Albedo. Maya is also noticed, and acknowledged, he certainly doesn't need someone to give Albedo a hand for any reason, should things actually get ugly.

Albedo Piasora notes Maya's words, casting her a look that is somewhere between amused and almost--appreciative? He can sense something about this girl; maybe it's the painful innocence that reminds him of MOMO. Maybe it's something deeper. Either way, it's worth keeping her in mind. "I--/appreciate/ the offer, Miss Amano," he says, aloud. "I'll be sure to keep you in mind." Uh-oh. To Ziggy, he says: "I'm noticing a disturbing TREND here. The last time I spoke with Nigredo, he was just as hostile--and went so far as to attack me unprovoked! Now, Ziggy," he -smiles- here, not smirks, and it's not a predatory expression but an almost innocent once, "isn't a man innocent until -proven- guilty? I've done nothing to harm ma pÍche while acting outside the influence of the Heartless--you can ask her yourself if I -have-."

Maya, for now, listens to the conversation between Ziggy and Albedo. And Albedo is making a /very/ good case for himself in the face of Ziggy's continued accusations. She remains quiet, however, letting the two continue their 'discussion'.

"It is obvious Gaignun Kukai and Junior have their own history with you, and the reasonings for their actions I'll leave to them." Ziggy pauses "I am not about to attack you outright without provocation, it would only serve to endanger the lives of others around us." He says that, despite the mission he is set to complete. He has to defend MOMO, and regardless of what he says, Albedo is a pretty big threat to her. The protocols of Ziggurat Industries would have him do what he can to remove Albedo's threat. Luckily he is able to complete his missions as he sees fit. When Albedo goes on about being innocent, Ziggy doesn't seem impressed. "Don't attempt to talk yourself into innocence, I know much of what you've done and what you are capable of. If you wish for proof of your guilt, then your assistance on the attack on the Kukai Foundation is proof enough." Happened awhile ago? Perhaps. "If you wish to play on innocence, try elsewhere."

"What is between me, Rubedo, and Nigredo is our own business," Albedo says archly--and quite promptly. Probably because he was expecting the Kukai Foundation to come up -somewhere- along the line, and had that answer waiting. Does he seem almost disappointed? Maybe a hint of it leaks into his tone--it's not like it's so HARD to paint him as a villain, but... "That Rubedo -decided- to involve himself with MOMO and then -abandon- her," or so it looked to Albedo, "had nothing to do with ME and everything to do with his own -faithlessness-." Now there's a trace of disgust and anger in the madman's tone, his smile disappearing. "But, come. Why I -chose- to attack the Foundation had nothing to do with hurting her, and everything to do with the fact we're at WAR. --Or did you notice? Whatever moves the hand of Fate around here decided to place me with the rest of the antagonists of the story." The smirk returns, twisted. "And I have unfinished business with my other half. If he continues to -ignore- me, I'll continue to try and get his attention, so we can put this to rest. Tell him that, -if- you see him."

And Albedo continues to make his case well. This is probably the first time Maya's been exposed to a villain plan that wasn't rationalized with something /utterly insane/, so she's surprisingly receptive to the URTV's answers. That, and she identifies with her fellow ex-Heartless on a certain level that only they'd probably understand. She still doesn't say anything, though.

If Paine knew Maya was sympathizing with this wacko, she'd drag the girl outside and knock some sense into her. As it is, she looks around lazily, bored. Why the hell is it taking so long for the Celsius to get here, it's not THAT far from Bikanel...

"I am not a messenger." He says, as he stands. Though, he'll probably mention this to him anyway. "At war or not I still have a mission to complete, and allies to assist. Maybe you say it's between you and them, but they are still my allies. And they are MOMO's allies. So no matter what I will not let you either interfere with my mission or endanger my allies." Saying that he heads for the door, though turns back for a moment "I have seen enough of war to know that often the sides are not black and white. Often they are grey. But I also know that it is still possible for there to be individuals who are either black or white, and they are not as hard to spot as one would think." He probably waits a moment for a retort from Albedo, whether one comes or not, he leaves afterward.

"But you'll tell them anyway--won't you?" Surprisingly, Albedo stands as Ziggy does, giving the other man a polite, brisk nod as he turns to leave. When he chose to, the retrovirus -could- be exceptionally polite. It's just that the madness is -always there-. "Black and white, hmmm? Then which do you think I am?" he continues, with a wry wink and a toss of that white hair. "Look a little harder at your allies before you make that decision, cyborg. You can be just as EASILY blinded by standing too close to the light..."

He trails off, shaking his head, as if he doesn't expect Ziggy to understand. "So. So. Adieu, cyborg, until next time."

Then he glances back at Paine and Maya, favoring both women with a surprisingly searching look.

Online Life is graciously hosted by RPGClassics.