Palace of Power - Grand Hall

A red capet stretches across the floor of the Grand Hall, the largest room of the Palace. Meetings are held here, as well as buisiness, the place the main area for diplomats from the many game worlds to meet. There is always activity here, the lack of night making the place seem timeless. A few guards stand here, Hylian knights and Mushroom soldiers making sure things in here stay civil.

It seems that--for /once/--things are perfectly normal in the great hall. No feathers, no ice-slicks, no birdsong, no freezing breezes. It's just an ordinary early afternoon; the Mushroom Guards are squeaking about, the Angel Centurions looking suitably ominous, and life continues as normal. Nothing could possibly go wrong--right?

Ziggy isn't a comical, nor supersticious sort. So 'nothing can possibly go wrong today' is not a thought that crosses his mind. He is aware of the odd disturbances which have happened in the Hall lately, but unable to comprehend any rational explanation for them he merely took note and opted not to look into the matters. Perhaps those members of the Palace Guard more magically or psychically inclined would be better left to it. Nevertheless, as he patrolls down the lengthy hall he is attentive, for what he doesn't know. It never hurts to be cautious, words he lives by. ...exists by. Whatever the definition is for him.

Maybe it's because Ziggy is so prosaic that he should attract the distinctly unusual things in life. It's almost as if some aspect of fate's whimsical nature has declared the most stolid and "normal" people should be those cursed to run into the strangest things in life. Like the nagging sense the cyborg might get of something or someone dogging his steps just now, walking a pace or two behind him with eyes fixed on the back of his head.

The past 100 years Ziggy has spent as a cyborg have caused him to rely on facts, logic, and what his systems tell him to be real. He rarely relies on gut feelings, because that means relying on emotion, and we all know where that can lead a person. Nevertheless he is not immune to the ever-present sensation that someone is dogging you. He hears no footsteps (not like he would with his feet, and this grand echoy hallway) though he slows his pace anyway, not stopping right away. His ear twitches and he turns his head as he finally comes to a stop and spins around.

Nothing. There is literally nothing there to have been causing that feeling. The nearest Mushroom Guard is some ten feet away, and looks up, startled, when Ziggy spins around in his cacaphonous way. "--Is something wrong, mister?" the little fungus inquires, his eyes big.

Ziggy pauses, his eyes narrowed, for a few moments before he responds. "" Is the only reply he gives, before resuming his course. oO(Perhaps one of my sensors is on the fritz.) he thinks, tapping the side of his forehead as he walks. Or maybe he's just making excuses. He can't deny he felt uneasy back there, but with his outdated body who knows if it wasn't malfunctioning in some way...

Maybe it is merely an artifact of Ziggurat's aging sensors, but that feeling is back again. This time it seems stronger, almost enough to imagine dull, muted bootsteps right behind Ziggy. What's weird is these chimerical sounds should be audible even over Ziggy's thudding tread. Like someone wants him to hear them--or imagine them.

This time, Ziggy doesn't stop. Though he eyes the various Mushroom Guards to gauge their reactions, and see if they seem to notice anything. He just made note that no one was behind him, and thus no one else SHOULD be, and if there would the Guard should react with surprise. That's his logic anyway. If they don't react to anything then it has to be him, in which case he'll have to schedule a tune-up.

None of the Mushroom Guards seem to be aware of the thing following Ziggy. That sensation of being followed and watched continues all the way down the hall until the cyborg should make his turn, then seems to disappear once more. Maybe it really is just his sensors on the blink.

That doesn't explain the abrupt feel of an ice-cold hand grabbing at the back of his neck.

Despite the nagging, almost overwhelming, sensation, Ziggy continues to ignore it, as the Guards show no sign of noticing. It HAS to be him. Well at least he isn't on a mission, a malfunction during a critical time could be disasterious.

Turning around at the end of the hall, he has a brief moment of relief when he sees nothing. Though he hardly takes a step when he feels the icy grip on his neck and freezes. His facial expression doesn't register the shock he feels, though he does quickly dart his hand up to his neck.

Is that the sound of faint mocking laughter at Ziggurat's shock? It could be. The laugh should be familiar--high-pitched, splintery, and without a trace of sanity to it. At least whatever-it-is didn't try to grab him again.

His expresion still doesn't change, but there's something unwelcome and familiar about that laugh. He rubs the back of his neck for a moment, just to make sure that the nerves are transmitting the proper signals to his brain.

He hesitates a moment, before walking down the hallway again, while mentally reviewing a few notes. There have been incidents in the Palace, one of which the girl Maya specifically mentioned Albedo, and that laugh... But both Gaignun Kukai and Junior have insisted Albedo was dead, and there has been no sign of him since. Ziggy was skeptical at first, but eventually allowed himself to believe it to be true. Even when he was alive he didn't possess the ability to appear, disappear, or cause such sensations that he has been feeling, not to Ziggy's knowledge. And the cyborg doesn't believe in ghosts. So what is this...

<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Does anyone present now have any first-hand experience with the unexplained incidents that have been occuring in the Palace?"
<Fac-Palace> Princess Lana says, "I'm here, Ziggy."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "Do you mean the disappearing ice bird phoenix thingy?"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "We need to catch that thing still!"
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Yes, though I have not seen a bird myself. I've merely felt like I was being followed... then experienced the senstation of a cold hand grabbing the back of my neck. I also heard faint laughing..."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "...creepy."
<Fac-Palace> Jacques says, "Ghosts."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Though it is entirely possibly my systems are malfunctioning... it has never happened to this severity..."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "...yeh. Kind of like how Maya was..."
<Fac-Palace> Princess Lana says, "It certainly *sounds* like a ghost. I wish Luigi were here to make sure."

The ghost--no, surely it's not a ghost--the thing (Albedo, perhaps? Even if he is dead, stranger things have happened...) now seems to fall in step alongside Ziggurat. There's a definite sense of presence now, even if nothing is visible--those tiny electrical signals that seem to jitter across your skin when someone gets especially close. The laughter has gone silent, but all the Mushroom Guards appear to be watching Ziggy now, puzzled by the odd behavior.

<Fac-Palace> Captain N says, "..."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "Have you tried examining it with thermal goggles?"
<Fac-Palace> Captain N says, "I can fight ghosts too, y'know..."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "I have been using a number of optical scans available to me, though I have yet to cycle through them all, nothing has come up yet."

Ziggy outright ignores it for the moment. This cannot be a mere malfunction, there has to be something. Issuing some mental commands to his eyes, Ziggy activates a number of scans in his optics, normally used to detected cloaking, heat signatures, radiation, anything. He keeps turning his glance in the direction of the sensations, though he trys to remain subtle as to not give the Mushroom Guards the wrong ideas about him. There is still the slim possibility it is just him...

<Fac-Palace> Terra Branford says, "There isn't a train station anywhere in the Palace, is there?"
<Fac-Palace> Dragon Hero Ryu says, "The only train station I am aware of is down in the city."
<Fac-Palace> Terra Branford says, "There, um, are others. But... well... sometimes ghosts might wander off, I suppose."

Eventually, the Mushroom Guards do stop watching Ziggurat, and return to their assigned duties. Every so often, one will cast a glance out from under his cap, wondering at the cyborg's strange behavior, but they don't approach him.

These same Mushroom Guards are the only thing that seem to show up on Ziggy's optical scans. Heat signatures, radiation, life readings--all come back null, except for the things Ziggy can see with his natural sight. Except for the faintest whiteness flitting around the edges of the radiation scan, like the wings of a bird disturbed from its nest fleeing as quickly as it can.

There's another quiet laugh.

Ziggy quickly saves the Radiation Scan to observe later, it was almost nothing... but that's still something. The laugh comes again, though he doesn't react to it, in any way the Guards would notice anyway, and merely closes his eyes and breathes deeply. True he doesn't need to breathe, but it is still a calming impulse he has not been able to shake the entire century. About half-way through the corridor he slows to a stop and glances up at the cieling with his arms folded. He doesn't personally beleive in ghosts, though there have been reports of them in other worlds. Albedo is not from those other worlds, though, but could the chaotic nature of Videoland made it possible?

<Fac-Palace> Princess Lana says, "He was just being himself, sweetheart. It's all right, he didn't mean it."
<Fac-Palace> Captain N says, "If he even thinks about touching you... he's a dead man."
<Fac-Palace> Princess Lana says, "Kevin... *she sounds strangely happy, though!*"
<Fac-Palace> Dragon Hero Ryu says, "I think you're a bit late on the thinking about it part, Captain."
<Fac-Palace> Captain N growls. "Okay. Calming down."

Might it? And certainly there were many things stranger than mere ghosts in the Xenozone. As Ziggurat slows to a stop, so does that sensation of presence, only to wink out completely for a moment. It's quickly replaced by a sensation of bone-cracking cold on Ziggurat's right shoulder. Should he look down, he'd find himself face to beak with the little white bird everyone's been talking about. It looks smug.

The sudden cold is enough to cause even Ziggy's trained reflexes to jerk his shoulder in surprise and extreme discomfort. His cybernetic arm grabs his right shoulder for a moment, before he looks down. It's difficult for a bird to look smug, bit this one is pulling it off. It certainly wasn't in the Hall a few moments ago, and it matches the vague descriptions he's heard. He doesn't say anything, or make any sudden movies, only stares at the bird for a few moments. And in the process try to get a few scans of it, even if he has a feeling they'll come up blank...

<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, suddenly "Princess Lana, it was a white bird you witnessed, correct?"
<Fac-Palace> Princess Lana says, "That's right."
<Fac-Palace> Princess Lana says, "But I think it can take any form it wants."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "I see."
<Fac-Palace> Princess Lana says, "And the eyes were purple. I think that's one way to tell the original from the fake."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Understood."

The bird is jostled somewhat as Ziggy grabs his shoulder, but merely shifts so that his hand doesn't smash it. It gives a flick of its wings as the cyborg actually looks down at it, bobbing its head in an oddly formal gesture. Almost as if it's greeting him. And from the wicked glint in those purple eyes, that might not be a good thing. The scans...are strange. They are getting readings, but completely incongruous with the little white bird seated on Ziggy's shoulder. Bioscans, temperature readings--all of them come back filled with garbage data.

The cold is quite uncomfortable, but Ziggy bears it for the time being. The bird has his full attention, whether or not the Mushroom Guards think he is crazy. His eyes narrow at the results of the scans, all garbage. It's not statistically likely that all of his systems are alfunctioning to the level to produce this illusion, and since others have already seen this bird.... oO(There's something very familiar about those eyes...) Ziggy thinks, as he regards it for a few moments.

Well it has one similarity with Albedo, this playful and patronizing desire for attention. Appearing and disappearing to the point where it is impossible to discern what it wants. Given all that has happened, this bird has to have SOMETHING to do, one way or another, with Albedo. Deciding to try something, he speaks slowly, in a low voice (low to the point even the closest guard can't hear anyway) "What do you hope to accomplish?"

The bird seems to perk up as Ziggy goes so far as to talk to it, looking up from grooming its wingfeathers with its beak to tilt one purple eye at him. It gives a self-satisfied chirp in response to his question, sidling up his shoulder with tiny, cold feet. And then it promptly returns to preening, though it keeps an eye on Ziggurat as it attends to the covers of its right wing. Hm.

Is the bird patronizing him, or is it just a bird... well none of the other guards can see it, apparently, and previous reports obviously give him the impression there is more to it. Not to mention, Albedo always seemed oddly pleased whenever an effort was made to speak to him, and not just assault him on the spot. Though, what on earth can Ziggy say to a bird only visible to him? And to what end? Situations like this are not his area of expertise. He spends so much time just thinking about it that he doesn't make any more actions, for the moment, against the bird and its seemingly oblivious behavior.

The Mushroom Guards certainly don't see anything, to all appearances. The bird finishes with its grooming, looking up at Ziggy and giving another self-assured chirp. This time, though, more than just a noise comes along--there's a sort of sentiment, like a proto-telepathy, that the bird certainly is appreciative of the attention it's receiving. Meanwhile, one of the Mushroom Guards has started sneaking toward Ziggurat. "...sir?"

If this bird is related to Albedo, or IS Albedo, what is the point of this? Something Ziggy cannot yet understand, apparently. The sound of the Mushroom Guard's voice is almost unwelcome, though Ziggy replies to it nevertheless "...yes..." He says, removing his hand from his shoulder and turning his head slightly. "...I'm fine." He says, to pre-empt the question he knows is coming.

Or perhaps it's a part of Albedo, but not all of him--as one's hand might be a part of one. There's a thought. The bird makes an eerie, almost human chuckling sound as the Mushroom Guard nods and retreats again. "Fine." An echo of Ziggy's voice. "I'm fine." <yes yes yes> <fine fine fine> (on the way to oblivion)

Ziggy doesn't react to the bird's taunting, lest he drive the Mushroom Guard back over here again. Though it certainly seems to disturb him on some level. He pauses for a moment, still conscious of the icy grip on his shoulder, and once again starts walking down the hall, perched on by a bird or not. There is no doubt some sentient force trying to affect him, though for what purpose he cannot imagine. So he goes back to what he was doing, patroling the Grand Hall.

<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "Weird weird elf people."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana sounds pained. "Hylians."
<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "They still insist that they arn't elves."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. | Courtain says, "Then maybe they're not."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, "They're not elves. They're Hylians."
<Fac-Palace> Mega Man says, "they're not elves! they just look like them!"
<Fac-Palace> The Hero Of Spielburg says, "What's an elf?"
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "Every time I hear 'Elf', I think of this game Otacon tried to get me to play once. Castles and Cauldrons or something like that."
<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "Somebody with pointy ears, lives in woods, and back areas, and uses a bow and arrow."
<Fac-Palace> Mega Man says, "... That certainly sounds like some Hylians. maybe they are elves after all. Then again, I've never met an elf before."
<Fac-Palace> The Hero Of Spielburg says, "Oh, right. Like Christine."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. | Courtain says, "I think the Hylians would know what they are better than anyone else, don't you?"

The bird flares its wings out and gives another human-like chuckle as Ziggy lurches forward again, before resettling itself. <so curious> (thought you'd get over it) (i thought wrong(?)) (i thought wrong(?)) <still protecting her? (peche) (peach) (pretty pretty) (mine mine mine)>

<Fac-Palace> The Hero Of Spielburg says, "Yes that's true."
<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "Still. Its just somewhere thats away from my problems..."
<Fac-Palace> Mega Man says, "... maybe they never seen elves either?"
<Fac-Palace> Jr. | Courtain says, "Elves are also inherently magic creatures said to live 'underhill' in a dimension that isn't ours. They also steal human babies and replace them with their own. I don't see hylians doing that."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "Elves steal human babies?"
<Fac-Palace> Mega Man says, "... Elves do that?"
<Fac-Palace> Jr. | Courtain says, "According to myth, yes. The elf babies left behind are called changelings."
<Fac-Palace> Mega Man says, "I never heard THAT before about elves."
<Fac-Palace> The Hero Of Spielburg hums... "Elves are Faeries, right? I think I recall something like that."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "But why would they swap babies like that? Do they like human babies better? And wouldn't the human parents notice the pointy ears?"
<Fac-Palace> Jr. | Courtain says, "According to myth, again, it is because elfin children are not as healthy as human. They have magic that can disguise their ears."

Ziggy can put up with, and ignore, a number of things. But MOMO is a soft spot, and most everyone knows it. Rather than put up with this relentless heckling just to keep the attention of the guards off of him, Ziggy decides to act. His cybernetic arm darts up to his shoulder to try and grasp the bird, even though he doesn't fully expect to come in contact with anything, at the very least the bird may disappear (for lack of a better word) from its perch. He can explain himself to the guards after, the presence of this 'ghost' is common knowledge, at least. "No, not yours. No one, but her own."

<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "This is Solid Snake. I've just succesfully inserted onto Shadow Moses Island. I'm infiltrating the tank hangar at the moment."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "That's a little unfair, that means the human parents have to work harder and..and...and it's kidnapping! Kidnapping is wrong."
<Fac-Palace> The Hero Of Spielburg says, "I knew a few Sidhe."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. | Courtain says, "Yes. In myth, elves and fairies are not happy friendly tree hugging nature lovers. They are dangerous, and often hostile to humanity."
<Fac-Palace> The Hero Of Spielburg says, "The sorceress in Spielburg's magic shop is one. Theatrical, overdramatic, cryptical."
<Fac-Palace> The Hero Of Spielburg says, "And cheats at Poker, according to Erasmus. Unless that's Baba Yaga."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, " elves are really dangerous, hostile to humans, and overdramatic? Well...they don't seem like it anymore at, I hope. We don't have elves in the Terra least I don't think."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. | Courtain says, "In myth and legend, they are. Every zone differs, I am sure."

The bird does not allow itself to be grabbed, no. Instead, Ziggurat might find his hand will pass through it, for another moment of pure, bone-chilling cold, before the little ghost ends up seated on his fingers. It seems to be giving him another smug look, though it abruptly appears crestfallen and ducks its head. <not mine?> (of course mine) <important, important> (peche is important) (to you?) (to me) (to you) (to them) (to us) <have to find her> (have to have to have to)

<Fac-Palace> Station says, "--Anyone from around Teth'alla listenin'?"
<Fac-Palace> Paula hmms thoughtfully.
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake synchs in from another frequency. He sounds quiet, and like he's straining. "This is Solid Snake, I'm currently on Shadow Moses island. Please confirm transmission."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "Hi, Snake."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "Good enough... just so someone knows where I am if... something goes wrong."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "'righty. If you get too over your head, give a yell."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "SHould be fine... going into... the armory..."

Luckily that was Ziggy's cybernetic hand, and while it does register the cold, it's not painful in any way. Ziggy would almost look aggrivated by the stubbornness of this bird, but he's not about to let it, Albedo, whatever it is, get any sort of smug pleasure of knowing it got to him. With the bird perched on his fingers he continues walking anyway, whether or not some Guards take notice of what happened. "You won't get your hands on her, not in life or in death. Even if no one can come to her aid she's more able to take care of herself than you think." Oh yes, she's important, and it is precisely that reason Ziggy cannot let anything happen to her. Not by Albedo, not by U-TIC, and not by evil ice phoenix.

<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "Wedging self... between walls... damn hard... to keep up...."
<Fac-Palace> Paula giggles, "You almost sound like that guy on Space Trek."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake, actually, is sounding strained, and like he's getting tired quick.
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "Hard to talk... wedged against ceiling... in elevator..."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "That sounds painful..are there guards in there, Mr. Snake?"
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "Several... trying to avoid... being found... can take them... but want this... to be quiet..."
<Fac-Palace> Paula, cheerfully, "Good luck, Mr. Snake!"
<Fac-Palace> Station says, "--Heh-loooo."
<Fac-Palace> Station says, "Lloyd, Genis, anyone?"
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake, over the *ping* of an elevator, "Thanks..."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "Hi! ..I'm not from there, nevermind."
<Fac-Palace> Station says, "Heh."
<Fac-Palace> Station says, "Sorry, soh. Just tryin' to figure out if we've got a runaway or somethin' on our hands here."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "Can't help ya there."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "...that reminds me."

The bird moves to Ziggy's metal wrist, its icy little claws digging gouges in the metal there as it climbs up toward his shoulder once more. It seems agitated now, where it was smug before. (/need/) it insists, as if Ziggy can't seem to understand. Aren't there stories about how ghosts often linger to finish business they left incompleted in life? (need) (pretty pretty pretty) (need her) </momo/>

<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake kthmp-"Hup!"-thmplermble. "Hhhah... hhaahh... made it..."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "You can do eet!"
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "Maybe you should contact Mr. Aurion?"
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "I'm out of the elevator. Stopping to give my arms and legs a bit of a rest."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "What are you looking for?"

It's not that Ziggy can't, it's that he won't. He doesn't want to understand Albedo's 'need' for MOMO, because that would result in justifying it in some way. "No." If this is unfinishied business, Ziggy's going to see to it that it remains unfinished, somehow. "You won't get her. I, and many others, will not allow it." She's not as weak as you think, she will not merely succumb to you as much as you desire it.

The little bird puffs out its chest feathers in a sigh, then hunches its entire body down--a charicature of utter misery, if ever there were one. If this is what Albedo's been reduced to in death, God surely has a terribly cruel sense of humor. (just a little?) (need need need) (peach) (to see her) It pauses, then straightens up, slicking all its feathers down and looking surprisingly businesslike for such a little animal. <want something?> Apparently, it's asking if there's something Ziggy wants. This is confirmed when it continues: <want oblivion?> (can give it) (need /her/) (you--need oblivion) (oblivion?)

<Fac-Palace> Station says, "Who, me, or Snake?"
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "Snake. I can't help you much on the looking for Teth-wherever people."

This actually registers some visible shock on Ziggy's face, if for a moment. Oblivion? His eyes narrow again. Yes there is a desire to ultimately die in Ziggy's heart. The mortal man is only supposed to live so long, and Ziggy has gone far beyond that. Though his mind is not quite the same as your average man, anymore, much of it still remains, along with the desire to finally come to an end. But, something else has become more important to him, more than just a protocol or a Federation law. "...Not while I still have a job to do." And he would undermine that job by brining Albedo/This Bird to MOMO.

The little bird raises its head, purple eyes hopeful as Ziggy actually seems to respond to its offer. When he denies it, though, the bird hangs its head again. (just a little) (once) <please?> It emphasizes this with a shrill, descending chirp. <miltia> (go to miltia) (two) (second) (go there) (job over) <oblivion?> It looks back up, flaring its white wings at him. (give it to you) ("All that exists is a longing to be free...")

<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "What the..."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "There's someone here. Other than the Genome Soldiers."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "Station? you think speaking to Kratos would help?"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Speaking to Kratos about what, Paula?"
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "There... seems to be someone here, talking with a Genome about the arms stored here on Shadow Moses. I think he may be trying to strike a deal with Liquid, but Liquid's off doing some thing or another."
<Fac-Palace> Station says, "--It might just. All I really need is a..."
<Fac-Palace> Station says, "--Maya, are you sure about that?"
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "Well, I'm just telling him about the bounty thing, it's only fair because that's why I hired him in the first place, so our contract is technically over. Station is having um...something. I'm not sure."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Want company, if you're going to talk to him?"

The bird is persistant, that's for sure. But the bird seems to have misunderstood what Ziggy meant. "I do not mean my contracted job." Even if his contract would technically be 'over', he still wouldn't feel right if he KNEW something like this was still after MOMO. Lingering paternal instincts perhaps? Or leftover regret? Either way, he's not so selfish as to sell MOMO, or anyone, out just so he can finally have peace. It's just not who he is. "Perhaps you're the one who needs to accept oblivion."

There is something suddenly and oddly tragic about the bird's demeanor as Ziggurat says that. It blinks its eyes once, then tilts its head down, stretching out one wing, and then the other, as it examines them critically. Almost if it can barely understand what's happened to it. Then it looks back up at Ziggy. <...daughter?>

<Fac-Palace> Captain N says, "Hey guys. Just to let you guys know, I got somebody comin' to the Palace. His name's Roy. He's a friend. So like um... don't shoot him. He's got my blessing."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "If I were at the palace, Kevin, that'd be good to know."
<Fac-Palace> Captain N says, "Awww, Snake. Did you get lost in your box again?"
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "I wish. Might make this mission a little easier."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "I got doused on insertion, though, and my box got ruined. Gotta rely on stealth cammo. I hate doing that."
<Fac-Palace> Captain N says, "... I'm sure you'll do fine, man."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "I'm all right so far, but the stealth cammo is unreliable. ...By the way, I'm looking at a guy. Seems to have black hair, a brown trenchcoat... some sort of gun-arm... Kinda reminds me of Ocelot, the way he dresses. Anyone know who it is?"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Is he wearing a speedo?"
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "...No, he's not wearing a speedo."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Oh. Then it's not who I thought it was."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "About six feet tall. Black shades, circular lens. Blue dress shirt, red tie, brown pants."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "I don't think Mr. Wilder would be up there..."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, "Gun-arm?"

"...Son." At least he's quite certain, most of his memories are shattered or scrambled. He can't remember everything about his past life, but he is quite sure he was a father. And his son was named.... "..." Is he trying to explain himself to this visage of a bird? Here he is talking almost casually to it, admitting something he really hasn't told anyone else, though he wouldn't really withhold it should someone confront him about it.

<Fac-Palace> Station says, "--Well, Paula, I just need to know if white hair and purple eyes are normal around here."
<Fac-Palace> Station says, "'Here' being Teth'alla."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "Just saw a glimpse of it out of his sleeve. Looks like he has some kind of minigun on his arm."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "Mr. Aurion says it isn't."
<Fac-Palace> Station says, "...Okay. So I can assume this kid ain't from around here like he says he is?"
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, "--Wait. White hair, purple eyes?"
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "Probably, from what Mr. Aurion says. Must be lost."
<Fac-Palace> Station says, "--Yeah, white hair, purple eyes, says his name is Endymion."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, "Endymion, hm?"
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "Hmm...I'd ask him if he knew the name, but he had to go take care of something with conveyor belts."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, "He's wide awake and physical, I take it."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "Wild Dog. The Genome Soldier just referred to this guy as Wild Dog. Anyone know the name?"
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "Oh! That's the first speedo-man."

This is something that seems to surprise the little bird. <son,> it repeats, quizzically. It hops a little further up Ziggy's wrist, taking a perch on the middle of his forearm, now, and watching him. Oddly, it doesn't seem quite so cold as it was before. <how?>

<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "...Speedo-man?"
<Fac-Palace> Station says, "Yeah, the kid's...yeah."
<Fac-Palace> Jin Saotome says, "He broke into Li's apartment not too long ago. Big time jerk."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "Who, Wild Dog?"
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "They're pictures of him in the Palace database-well, of him in a speedo that one time he and Mother Brain tried to steal Red's hot springs."

This gives Ziggy pause. How indeed? He has memories of being with his Son, a definate sense of losing him, but nothing to connect the two together. For some reason he also has an image.. of a man in a black robe, but he can't discern who he is or what he has to do with it, the memories are just too fragmented. "I don't remember." He responds. It seems he is about ready to end this, as he swiftly drops his arm, to let it hang at his side with his other, losing the perch the bird had. Not that that would stop it if it were determined enough.

<Fac-Palace> Maya says, "I'm quite sure about it Station, the kid is the spitting image of em."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake fzztcrackle. Pause. "Oh, SH-"*BLAM*BLAM*BLAM* *thumptumbleroll*
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake growls, "*THIS* is why I hate relying on stealth cammo!"
<Fac-Palace> Station says, "Ziggy?"

The little bird very nearly hits the floor--apparently, it was startled by Ziggy's sudden move. It manages to catch itself, flitting back to Ziggy's shoulder and giving him a sober look. (dead?) it inquires, though it seems pretty certain about this fact.

"Dead." He states, matter-of-factly. Though with how much time has passed, that was a given, all things considered. But it's more than that, he can't say just how, but he's certain that his son died before he did. Ziggy shakes his head, why is this... whatever it truly is, pressing this matter? What purpose does it possibly serve? Albedo always loved his mind-games, if this bird is related to him.

Albedo certainly did. But what could he hope to gain by this? <need,> the little bird whistles, forlornly, shaking its head. (dead dead dead) (and gone) It sidles up to his shoulder again, giving another chirp. <need> (help?) (you scratch my back i scratch yours)

"What could you possibly do?" Ziggy asks, this time with a bit more... anger... in his voice. Just a bit though. This is going nowhere, he can see what the bird is going to request, and his response will be the same. Even if... even if it /could/... he still cannot. "I can't trust you anyway."

<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "Rrrgh!"
<Fac-Palace> Terra Branford says, "Snake?"
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "Just took a hell of a graze to the side."

<much> The bird flares its wings, giving a few trilling notes of that eerie song of its--and a cold, white fog begins to condense around both of them, promising with it a great deal more cold. Several ice crystals even begin to form on Ziggy's metal bits, condensing from the water in the air. It just as quickly dissipates when the bird drops its wings. <trust> (what is trust?) <just need to see her> (that's all) (need to end this) <find the way home>

Ziggy shakes his head. It would be a lie to say he wasn't interested, but he's not about to risk MOMO for his own personal gain. It is more than just a coded prime directive keeping him from doing anything that could potentially harm her, it's not something he could really choose to do under any circumstances. He gives a clear, definitive answer. "No." Perhaps the bird should find someone more willing (and gullbile?) to believe it. Liiiiike... Jr?

<Character Discussion> Zax says, "Question. I'm thinking of writing an app for Gwen, the conquoring princess from Gemfire. Now...people in that game age. As in, they can age and die. Is she still effected by the videoland anti-aging thing?"

The little bird isn't done yet, though it seems bitterly disappointed by this answer. Might it turn vindictive and attack him? (fortitude) it mumbles to itself, then turns a violet eye on him. (will you tell?) (will you say?) (find rubedo) (let him know) (hurt him more) (tell, tell?)

Tell Junior? There's no way he cannot. MOMO will need to be warned of this, of course he'll have to inform everyone of what transpired here! The bird shouldn't even need to ask, and Ziggy merely replies with a glance that tells exactly that. The bird was almost insistant that he tell Junior, perhaps it is part of its plan, that is certainly how Albedo worked, yet he cannot afford not to.

<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "Has anyone seen my copy of Song of Susannah?"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Song of Susannah?"
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "It's a book."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "...oh. Drats."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "..Looking for more music?"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Always, Junior!"
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "I'll send Mintchip your way with some more unique stuff from 'round here, then."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "That'd be great, Junior. Thanks. Anything I can do for you in return?"
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "Nah, 's all good."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Alright, but I owe you one now."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. giggles.
<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "Hey, young elf, is there anything that a street punk from the Terra zone can do around here in this weird area?"
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "If he's an elf, you're a monkey. /Hylian/, not elf."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "...was he just talking to me?"
<Fac-Palace> Jin Saotome says, "I think so, short stuff."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "Yeah. He seems pretty stupid, we told him before you're not an elf and he keeps thinking you are."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "I see."
<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "He's got the ears, the cap, and the outfit. Whatcha expect?"
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "Link's a Hylian, not an elf!"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says cheerfully, "Then yes, I have the perfect place for you to go. Head south. A lot. You'll see a giant mountain, and a door. Knock on the door. Ask for Shadowkin. He'll give you a tour~!"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "...uhm.. wait. No. Don't do that."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "There's bombchu bowling.. but people get mad.. hmm. Oh. Wait, all seriousness, I know what you can do. It's a real time killer to. There's these cuccos. They look sorta like chickens. And they get loose. I'm sure someone would like them to get gathered up. And yeh, you have to hold them -really- tight."
<Fac-Palace> Jin Saotome says, "*laughs* ...You're telling him to gather up birds?"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Hey, those cuccos can give you stuff. And so will their owner."
<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "...."
<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "I'll stick to drawing then to chicken ranching."
<Fac-Palace> Colonel Scott O'Connor says, "I daresay the answer is mass slaughter of cuccoos."
<Fac-Palace> Jim Raynor says, "I have never seen anyone able to kill one."
<Fac-Palace> Colonel Scott O'Connor says, "--Shh!"
<Fac-Palace> Colonel Scott O'Connor says, "...and hey, it /is/ possible. They're highly flammable."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "It's the feathers."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Well, there's always talking to my Shadowkin. But he's grouchy."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "'grouchy' in the same way mine was."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "You can call him an elf too, if it makes you feel better."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link hee hee hee.

The bird dips its head, as in acknowledgment, before taking another step up Ziggy's shoulder. It looks him in the eyes, surprisingly sober, though it seems to be smiling from the slight gape of its beak. <thanks> (thank you thank you) <have a present> ("His name was Elrich Webber.") And with that, the little bird abruptly disappears.

To leave Ziggy standing in the middle of the hallway, with a Mushroom Guard tugging at one of his sleeves. "Sir--? Sir? Are you okay?" There's no indication of the bird having been there, except for a single white feather on the floor before Ziggy's feet.

<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "I still don't get the differnce from an elf and Hyrurain."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Hy/lian/."
<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "I mean, what exactly is the difference?"
<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "Hylian."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Though, technically, I am Hyrulean. Or Kokiri."
<Fac-Palace> Colonel Scott O'Connor says, "...Edge, what is the difference between a Frenchman and an Englishman?"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "First, my ears stick out to the sides. Not straight up. Second, we don't grow up tall and lanky. Third, the only dark ones we have is my Shadow. Fourth, I don't do Christmas toy creating."
<Fac-Palace> Colonel Scott O'Connor says, "..Or that!"
<Fac-Palace> Jin Saotome says, "Or dentistry?"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "..huh?"
<Fac-Palace> Jin Saotome says, "Never mind."
<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "Difference between a frenchman and an English man? I don't know, they're a long way away from me."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Ghhkk!"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "...and the difference between you and a Neandrathal is?"

"...!" This.... this.... that name which was mentioned... why... why does it spark such a feeling in the cyborg? Why is it so hatefully familiar? Oblivious to the approaching Mushroom Guard, Ziggy grasps his head with his still organic hand. What is this he's feeling? He doesn't understand... He doesn't know who Elrich Webber is! But something.. something is telling him he should! There's an unnamed hate welling up inside of him that he doesn't recognize... but... oO(Who is he...?!) A brief image of a bald man in a uniform flashes in his mind and fades just as quickly... Staring down at the feather, Ziggy kneels to pick it up "...I'm fine." He repeats again, obviously lying.

<Fac-Palace> Eiji 'Edge' Yamada says, "Muscle. But I got brains."
<Fac-Palace> Demi says, "So how is everyone doing this evening?"
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana sounds annoyed. "Would you two-- --what was that?"
<Fac-Palace> Young Link has apparently been paying attention in class. <3
<Fac-Palace> Zax says, "The difference between French and English is not a valid analogy to that of Homo Sapiens and Neandrathal."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, "Hello?"
<Fac-Palace> Colonel Scott O'Connor says, "I'd say it is. If you've seen one of the English Royal Family, you'd /swear/ there was a resemblance to the latter..."
<Fac-Palace> Zax says, "..."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "...this.. illusionary bird has left. And I have a few things to report."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, "The bird? --Go ahead, I'm listening."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "I'll cover it in an official report. Though it becomes clear to me that this must have something to do with Albedo, in some way."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana is silent for a moment. Then: "Are you certain?"
<Fac-Palace> Colonel Scott O'Connor whistles The Cat Came Back
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "After this, beyond a reasonable doubt. Else it is somehow orchestrated by someone else to make it appear so."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, "Because I believe we just had another, similar false alarm just a few minutes ago."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Oh?"
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, "Station and Maya just encountered someone who looked similar to Junior, only with purple eyes and white hair."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Curious..."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "I'll cover what happened in my report, perhaps the incidents are related..."
<Fac-Palace> Zax says, "Has it occured to you that in the millions of zones, it is inevitable that there be multiple beings with purple eyes and white hair?"
<Fac-Palace> Meis Triumph says, "Aaaaaaaaah, Junior is having babies!"
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, "The same person--or at least a similar one--was also represented in that altered X copy of Cogito."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "I ain't old enough to have kids! Freak!"
<Fac-Palace> Meis Triumph says, "...What are we talking about again?"
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, "Nineteen's storyline. Nineteen, the one with the bird."
<Fac-Palace> Meis Triumph says, "And I know that, that's why I was screaming, Junior."
<Fac-Palace> Jr. says, "Freak. /Freak/. Augh, littler mes, they'd be like, eight inches tall!"

The Mushroom Guard obviously doesn't believe this, but he does nod and back off as Ziggy says so. "Okay, sir." He pauses, then in a whisper: " it the ghost again?"

Ziggy doesn't bother responding, and merely stands and resumes walking out of the Grand Hall. He has... much to think about, but first... first he has responsiblities. He has all the time he needs to ponder this name, once he's taken care of what he needs to. As always, he must put his responsiblities first, always first....

<Fac-Palace> Grom Hellscream says, "Jim, are you busy?"

============================ BB Post in Progress =============================
Group: The Palace of Power
Title: Ghostly Ice Bird
<Palace Guard spinny. Text only, no images or sound for you!>
Report: Sighting of mysterious ghostly bird
Location: Palace Grand Hall

This evening while I was making a patrol of the Palace grounds I encountered several odd occurances in the Grand Hall, which resulted in the appearance of an odd bird. Icy to the touch, the bird seemed invisible to the other Mushroom Guards around me. I can only conclude it is the same that has been witnessed in previous occasions. After a lengthy.. encounter, I have more than enough reason to believe that this 'bird' is in some way connected to Albedo, though how it is connected I cannot guess. As it 'spoke' to me, it became increasingly insistant I deliver it to MOMO, often refered to her as Albedo does, and also referred to Jr. as Rubedo. It is also possible that someone else is using the famliar habits and mannerisms of Albedo to make it appear that this apparition is somehow related to him, but given all that it said to me, I have moer than enough reason to believe that somehow it has to be directly related to him. Either he is not truly dead, or this is some final game he set up before his death, either way it is a concern. I ask that careful attention is paid to MOMO, as the apparition seemed intent on finding her to resolve its unfinished business. It also made a mention of hurting Jr. on top of that. I attempted several scans of the bird while it was present, but all thermal, magnetic, and radiation scans came back with nothing. Rather in the space the bird occupied, all the scans picked up was garbage data. This incident leaves me with more questions than answers, though I ask that anyone else who encounters this to exercise caution, especially anyone at all related to Albedo.

--Ziggurat 8

<End of file.>

<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "I would recommend against summoning it intentionally unless you had a specific plan of action to use on it."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Well, it can teleport, so putting it in a jar is out.."
<Fac-Palace> Durandal says, "Can't take a hint, can you?"
<Fac-Palace> Durandal says, "I told you. The bird is bad candy. Leave it alone; he's coasting on the attention you're giving him."
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake rrghs. "This is... Snake... Have the medbay ready, I've got... gunshot wound, to the shoulder. Banged up pretty bad... cracked a rib... maybe a concussion, dunno..."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana's voice sounds monotone. "Engaging an unknown, potentially hostile entity of unknown capacity was unwise."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana continues, still monotone. "However, you have obtained information that supports multiple hypotheses of mine. This is good."
<Fac-Palace> Young Link says, "Maybe you're right, Durandal. But we can't just let it run rampant in the Palace.. uhm, no offense."
<Fac-Palace> Meis Triumph says, "...Cortana, I think at least two thirds of the heroes here have fought an unknown potentially hostile entity of unknown capacity. It's like one of the staples of being a hero."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 sounds pre-occupied "Hm."
<Fac-Palace> Colonel Scott O'Connor says, "Hyperion Sattelite Virus, over here."
<Fac-Palace> Durandal says, "If he starts breaking crap, stop him."
<Fac-Palace> Durandal says, "If he doesn't, don't encourage him."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana, still more-or-less monotone: "The Flood were such an entity. But we had no choice in that matter."
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "..are you okay Miss Cortana?"
<Fac-Palace> Solid Snake says, "This is Snake... I repeat... Palace, I'm gonna... need a doctor or two... when I get back..."
<Fac-Palace> The Master Chief | Cortana says, calmly, "Just fine. I'm dealing with several outstanding issues right now. Namely an officer who expects me to play the role of emotionless drone. I'll be done in five minutes."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "I will be in my quarters if anyone requests elaboration."
<Fac-Palace> Meis Triumph says, "Few of us do, Cortana. You need someone for pick-up, Snake?"
<Fac-Palace> Paula says, "Ooh. I see."

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