The inside of the Kukai Foundation looks like someone took out a slice of a planet and bottled it up inside. This, however, is not the case, while too small to be like a planet, it has all the functionality of a habitable planet. The colony is very technologically advanced, the atmosphere and weather maintained by nanomachines on a large, yet unseen level, and even the weather can be changed at a whim. For most cases, however, conditions are very pleasent inside the Foundation. There is a very large ocean at the center of the Foundation itself, which serves a twofold function--it is where ships come to dock with the colony, as well as where the Durandal locks into place, its red spire often present as an island-like building.
The sectors that most of the Foundation citizens occupy takes up a little over fifty percent of the colony itself, from skyscrapers to apartment buildings. Businesses and indusrtial complexes are spread all over, from the Foundation's very own A.G.W.S. Shop, among other profitable businesses run by the Foundation and its members. The other half of the colony is mostly unoccupied, but it consists of beautiful forests and mountain ranges, truly giving anyone who wishes to live within the Foundation a wide variety of living options. The Foundation is truly a multi-faceted organization, from fighting off the Gnosis and U-TIC, to being on the Galactic Finance 500's "Top 10 Fastest Growing Corporations" list.
The weather is lovely today. Of course, in the Kukai Foundation, the weather is as lovely or as ugly as Gaignun Kukai or Gaignun Jr. wish it to be; they're the ones who control the remote, after all. But it's lovely regardless: bright and sunny with a few cumulus clouds, with warmth pouring in through windows, especially those of restaurant cafes where the Kaiser happens to have decided to get his dinner for tonight. Jr. is off somewhere else, so it's just him tonight, sipping coffee and enjoying a light salad while he reads an advanced text on macro- and microeconomics. Seems as if he's brushing up, but then, much of his time of late has been devoted to the Foundation. It's not terribly surprising.
"Gaignun Kukai." Abruptly comes Ziggy's voice from behind the Kaiser. It's probably not too startling, Ziggy can't exactly sneak up on someone unless he's in stealth mode, which he isn't. "My apologies if I disturbed you, but I was wondering if I could have a word with you again?" Odd for Ziggy to be in this area of the Foundation on his own, perhaps he was meeting someone? Nevertheless the cyborg doesn't make any further motion until Gaignun responds to him.
Not to mention that Gaignun *is* a telepath, meaning that upon hearing the kchnk-kchnk-kchnk of the android's movements, he could easily check to see who it was. That's why, just as would be expected of him, the black-clothed man turns to gaze up at Ziggy with a polite smile. "Hmm? Hmm. I suppose if you've come all this way, it would be rude of me to decline. Have a seat, Ziggurat." The URTV sets down his coffee and gestures at the seat opposite from him. "What is it you wished to discuss with me?"
As he sits, Ziggy places a box on the table. He almost seems, agitated, surprisingly. As if it's something he'd rather not talk about, and is embarassed to bring up. "You must understand, I hate to ask this of anyone." The small box he laid on the table has the Ziggurat Industries insignia on it. "But I was wondering if I could ask you a favor. You see, Ziggurat Industries' former cybernetic division no longer produces the parts my body requires. I've been getting many of my parts custom made for the past couple of decades, but many of my usual supplies can no longer meet my requests either. It is likely, however, that a number of parts are still in various places across the Federation, treated as antiques mostly. With your connections, I was wondering if you could help me search for a number of them?"
Hmmm... Noting Ziggy's mental state as well as how he up-, Gaignun muses that it's not surprising that he neglected to arrange an appointment. The matter on which he needs to speak is too...personal--embarrassing, perhaps is a better word--for him to go through such red tape. Gaignun personally sees nothing over which to be embarrassed, but at the same time, he understands why Ziggurat would be.
Either way, he nods, setting his mental and physical sustenance aside to accept the box and look over its contents. The Director nods as he listens to the cyborg as well, evaluating the pieces within--checking the make and so on. "I'm sure we could work something how. Do you need all of your parts replaced, or only certain ones?"
"It is always helpful to have a number of replacements on hand. I do not immediately need many specific replacement parts right now, however I've noticed a pattern when it comes to certain parts breaking under extreme duress. Ergo I have opted to keep a number of those particular parts on hand, but I will soon run out, and there are no more available from my typical suppliers." He glances at the box, probably pointing out that it contains one of those very parts, probably the last one he could manage to find.
"Do not trouble yourself too much on my account. There have been times when these parts have gone long periods without breaking, but it is better to be prepared than unprepared."
"I'm sure it won't be much trouble, Ziggurat; we have many cyborgs here at the Foundation, after all. Besides, I quite respect the school of thought of being prepared. So then, which parts do you need the most?" Gaignun queries, setting the parts back into their box and leaving it be for now. He regards the cyborg sitting across from him and continues, "Or, shall I say, for which parts do you have the least replacements?" That is essentially what Ziggy's asking help with, after all.
Meanwhile, someone else is taking advantage of the sunny day--by stretching out over there probably fifteen feet away from the cyborg and the CEO, curled up on his back and looking like he broke his spine to get in *that* particular position as he enjoys his sunbeam. ...Oh, you thought Albedo wasn't serious about that?
And those are all the parts that he needs *most*? Mm, mm, mm. Gaignun does listen carefully and file the list mentally, nodding a few times as he retrieves his Communication Gear from his pocket and make sure to mark those all down in a file so looking them up later will be simpler. He looks up a couple of times--then a shadow crosses his face as he notices a spot not too far away near a window, the floor near it blocked from sight, with a beatiful sunbeam flowing it.
Jutting out from behind the enclosed area, a draped table between Gaignun and Whomever Might Be Lying There, is a tuft of white hair.
Hnn. The URTV narrows his black brows slightly, then glances back at Ziggurat with a slight smile and a nod. "All right, I believe I have everything down," he replies. "Many of these parts sound familiar, so they shouldn't be too difficult to come by."
Of course, that little quailpuff of white hair rapidly disappears as the owner rolls over into an equally back-breaking pose with a contented sigh in a rather...familiar voice. HMM WHO COULD THAT BE? ...And why is he happy to just conk out in a sunbeam while he could be killing a family member?
Ziggy nods. "Thank you. I'll compensate you for their costs and your troubles. Should they come at a higher price than I expect, perhaps we could make other arrangements." Taking up a job, perhaps? "Besides, I'm not going to need to hunt from one end of the Federation to the other finding parts for much longer anyway..." There he trails off, as he blinks when the sigh is heard. The voice IS distinctly familiar, though he doesn't make any visible reaction yet, merely turning his head in the direction of the sunbeam, then looking back to Gaignun.
If Albedo notices the fact he's--been noticed, he gives no sign of it. He's still flopped out over there, recharing his solar batteries. And...purring, low in his throat.
Hmm... If that *is* Albedo, and he's just sprawled out there, purring his damn fool head off in a sunbeam... Even if he's doing so /right in the Foundation/, Gaignun is willing to let sleeping URTVs lie. Pestering him when he's ostensibly in a good mood is unlikely to be a good idea.
On the other hand, knowing what Albedo's doing here would be nice. Hrm. Well, let Ziggurat do something, and Gaignun will react to that. For now, he merely nods, by all appearances ignoring the happysigh, and replies, "You're quite welcome. Although, what did you mean by that last comment?"
Ziggy pauses, as he seems fixated in Albedo's direction for a moment. He can't fully see, so he can't be fully sure. He refrains from checking his infared sensors for the moment. He's content, for the moment, to follow Gaignun's lead instead. It's his foundation, his brother, and he'd hate to wind up causing undue damage should he wind up confronting Albedo. Though suspecting he's here makes him even LESS comfortable to talk about his situation. "It's nothing." He eventually admits. "Just don't be too concerned with finding too many replacement parts. No more than two years worth, for certain." His eyes turn back to Albedo's location, and his voice lowers. "Is it who I think it is?"
Well, Albedo is eavesdropping--that's for certain--it's just that he's far too interested in warming up and lying there in blissful contentment to actually act to hurt anyone. So for now, he'll continue listening--and purring quietly to himself. Mmm, sunbeam.
Gaignun can't blame Ziggurat for being reticent with That Man in hearing distance. He nods once, accepting that explanation at face value (for the moment, at least), and replies, "All right; I'll keep that in mind, Ziggurat."
He pauses as the cyborg lowers his voice, and returns his Communication Gear to his pocket. A slight frown in the direction of the sunbeam, and just the faintest glimmer of green in his eyes. ...Well, that confirms *that*. Gaignun glances back at Ziggy and nods once. "If he's willing to stay where he is without wreaking any havoc, though, I can tolerate leaving him be."
Ziggy pauses again, silently musing over something it seems. "Actually..." He finally says. "...there's been something I've been wanting to ask him." Ask Albedo? What on earth could THAT be? He doesn't get up though, it seems he's willing to see Albedo's reaction first. He knows the URTV can hear them, so will Albedo respond to Ziggy's comment? Or will the cyborg have to go over there and stand in Albedo's light?
"So long as you leave the sun on," Albedo's voice drifts up lazily from where he's sprawled out. "And keep it from raining, I think I can--" He's interrupted here by a jaw-popping yawn. "--refrain from blowing up...your colony. Mmmm." Sunbeam = <3. He pauses, then mmphs. "What is it you want, chien?"
"--How generous of you," Gaignun remarks dryly, crossing his arms, as Albedo makes his comment from the peanut gallery. However, Ziggurat's question was for the white URTV, and that URTV has responded, so... Unless things go rapidly downhill from here (and the Director does frown slightly at Albedo's French), he feels no need to cut in. For now.
Ziggy ignores the chien comment, frowning only slightly. Albedo should know that comments like that won't work to set Ziggy off like other people. Still rude though. Ziggy pauses again, wondering just how he should word this, as if he doesn't want Gaignun to know everything either... he hates digging up his past. But Albedo is the one who opened that old tomb, and Ziggy would at least like some closure on something. "How did you know 'that' name?" He finally asks. What Albedo said to him while he was masquerading around the Palace as the phoenix. Albedo has a knack for knowing things he shouldn't necessarily know, but the /that/ name? Ziggy wants to know how he found that.
"Now there's an...interesting question," Albedo murmurs at length, still stretched out on his back in the sunbeam. What, him, give up a moment of solar-derived pleasure to answer someone's life-changing question? Pssht. Don't make him laugh. --Or do, but... well. Not that that's hard. "Oh, and don't worry about talking about it in front of Nigredo--he's close-mouthed. But if it's such a problem, maybe this is something we should discuss in private, chien--and of course, I'll want something for it...myself. Otherwise, I'll just stay right where I am. It's comfortable. You should try it sometime."
"If this is such a sensitive matter, it may be best for you two to find a more private place to discuss it," Gaignun remarks, nodding over towards the other diners in this restaurant. "If you're simply worried about who hears, you needn't worry about me; as Albedo said, I can keep a secret. But there *are* other people here, even if they're further away." Sometimes it's lonely, being the prestigious Kaiser of the Kukai Foundation--and sometimes it's very convenient. It depends on how much privacy Gaignun wants at a given time.
It's not so much privacy Ziggy is after. If he was he wouldn't have abruptly brought it up in the first place. More than not wanting Gaignun to hear everything, it's also that Ziggy really doesn't want to mention that name himself either. He just dryly answers Albedo "If 'something' is what you've asked of me in the past then you already know what my answer is." Now Ziggy actually stands from his seat, though he doesn't take any steps towards Albedo yet. "There was no reason for you to be familair with that person, I doubt my past interested you that much to make the effort to look it up. Why do you know of him?" It should only be a simple answer, Ziggy isn't even expecting Albedo to /get up/. But if he continues to toy with him, well... the cyborg can cast a large shadow.
If Ziggy should peer over in the direction Albedo is, he should be treated to the admittedly bizarre (and almost painful) sight of the mad URTV sprawled out on his back, twisted into something that's almost a complete circle. How /does/ he do that without breaking his spine? Or maybe he already has; this is Albedo, after all. He's got one hand over his face and closed eyes, the fingers of his other hand toying with what looks like a ball of string. Look harder--it's not actually string, but something that glitters with a light all its own. Reddish, too. Gaignun, insensitive as he is to U-DO's energy, might still be able to tell exactly what that "ball" is...
"Let's just say that he and I are...coworkers," the madman purrs at length. "And that's all you need to know if it, if you're going to be so /stingy/."
Given that things seem to be tensing a little, Gaignun has quietly risen to his feet and stepped over to the other side of the table behind which Albedo lies. His arms are still folded, and he listens without comment to the conversation, taking in what he can of it. There is an interest in seeing his brother again--however... Once he has the older URTV in view, Gaignun makes a slight noise of surprise, furrowing his brows as he sees that orb. No actual comment--but is that...?
"..." Ziggy is silent, though he doesn't move to block Albedo's sun. "..coworkers?" There is a part of him that really wants to know. What's worse than not being able to piece together your own memory? It's only a little infuriating that someone like Albedo knows pieces of his past he can barely remember. He seems to be about ready to press the subject, but he seems to ultimately drop it as his tension relaxes.
"..Fine. I doubt I can convince you further. I am certainly not going to indulge you with what you want." Like he would be ABLE to anyway. "As long as I have anything to do with it, you won't go near her." Should be obvious by this point what Albedo wanted from the cyborg. He almost looks like he wants to force the truth out of Albedo... or other than that try and put an end to him on the spot. But he knows that he is likely not capable of it, and that starting a fight here would only prove to be futile, and destructive.
There is a long silence here, before Albedo rolls up to a sitting position, one knee tucked against his body and the other leg stretched out in front of him. That little reddish ball disappears all of a sudden into the midafternoon sunlight, as the URTV stares at the cyborg for several long seconds with predatory intensity in his purple eyes. "You won't be able to stop me when the time comes, cyborg," he says slowly. "I can outlast you and you know it. Why not make it easier on all of you and give me what I want, instead of forcing me to rob her of you--and her innocence as well? She's awfully fond of you, isn't she?"
Gaignun appreciates that Ziggy isn't going out of his way to provoke Albedo...but where MOMO is concerned, it's difficult not to get the white madman fired up, is it? The darker URTV merely frowns slightly then when the Realian is mentioned, watching both other men carefully. He doesn't comment on Albedo's question, however. The 667th retrovirus is questioning a principle of the heroes of the Palace of Power, after all: never give the villains what they want.
Ziggy doesn't appear agitated by this, but he certainly seems more than a little annoyed. "No, I don't know that, actually." He responds, staring right back into Albedo's predatory eyes with a look of absolute defiance. "Why don't we wait and see, 'when the time comes'. I've outlasted many people myself." Ziggy is NOT handing MOMO over to Albedo. That much is crystal clear. It's more than just protecting the Y-Data, it's protecting HER. "And however fond she is of me isn't the issue, I'll put a stop to you either way."
"Of course it is. Two years? Is that all you think it will take to complete your mission?" Albedo picks himself up off the ground with feline grace, strolling toward Ziggy and not looking straight at the cyborg until he's right up next to him. /Then/ he stops, staring into Ziggurat's eyes at a very short distance. "You know," he breathes. "I'm not going to do anything to her that's different from the fate you're already delivering her to. Why, if anything, I think I'm doing her a favor--a more human touch to things, instead of the complicated machinery they'll put her in--ma pÍche, ma petite papillion, caught in a steel spider's web. At least you and I care about her as more than an object, the poor little doll." He smiles. "Which I can't say for the rest of the universe. What do you say, cyborg? Give her over to me for just a little while, and I'll return her as good as new, with her mind and her spirit intact, and Joachim Mizrahi's stain removed from her.
"Or let me take her by violence. It would be more fun for me--but I don't think you want that, do you?"
Oh, he's pushing it. Ziggy's brow narrows ever so much more. He even resists the impulse to grab Albedo by the collar, for all the good it would do, at the mention of 'doll'. He pauses for just a moment to straighten his thoughts out, he's not going to be intimidated by the infected URTV. "The very fact you call her 'doll' is more than proof enough not to let her fall in your hands. Besides..." His face hardens, he stares right back at the URTV, he wants to make this point clear. "...she is following her own will. More than my mission, I'm seeing the end of this because she wishes it. To do it for Dr. Mizrahi and everyone else, irregardless of how they may see her." He's certainly not going to hand her over to someone that would remove the 'stain' against her will, whether or not he'd be more gentle about it, which is something Ziggy doubts.
And Gaignun is still watching and listening silently. Go him!
Albedo smiles even wider--he can pick up on that impulse, though he's not going to act on it just yet. He has a line of patter to keep running, tangling Ziggurat up in his words and picking out how the cyborg really feels about matters. How much of what he's saying does he believe? And how much of it is exquisitely tailored to get a response? "But isn't she?" he replies. "A doll--perhaps even Pandora herself! Crafted to be perfect in every respect, but still, in the end--" He clasps both his hands to his chest, looking up toward heaven and fluttering those pretty white lashes of his. "--still bound to do exactly what her DADDY told her to, in hopes she'll become a real girl! You see? She doesn't even think of HERSELF as a real person--let alone what any of /us/ care." He turns away from Ziggy with a flip of his cape, stalking through the tables like he owns the place, before turning back to regard the cyborg with a lofty stare.
"What you call a choice made of her own 'will' only confirms that. A /parent/ would know that sometimes, willful children need to be stopped from hurting themselves or others because they don't know any better. Does she want to see to it because she truly believes it's the right thing to do--or because someone /told/ her to? Is that what you call will--doing the 'right thing' because someone told you it was right?" Albedo shakes his head, turning away.
"Shame, shame. Why not just stab me in the back right here? That's the /right/ thing, after all."
Gaignun narrows his eyes as Albedo feels fit to get up and stride around, provoking a few stares from the restaurant-goers. Still he makes no comment, allowing the two men their verbal battle--better than a physical battle, to be sure--but if things get too bad, then he *will* step in.
"No, that would prove futile." Ziggy replies matter-of-factly, before continuing. "Analyse her situation all you wish, what you're proposing is no different. You claim superiority in knowing what is and is not best for her, and you impose that judgement under the premise of having her best interests in mind, just so you can use her for no more than an object yourself. I don't claim to have all the answers either, but I will protect her from people like you and help her exercise her own will, now matter how she comes to the decisions she makes." Besides, it's not like he has a whole lot of choice in the matter anyway. Words are nice, but that's all not the true reason he has to bring her to the UMN Control Center. Still, he also believes what he is saying, it just happens to coincide with his mission.
"Why am I not surprised that another machine is supporting the right of a Realian to follow her own programming?" Albedo inquires, examining his claws absently. "That's all you're doing--playing out your preordained roles in hopes that they'll be the right one--because you have no other choice in the matter. It's a shame, don't you think? But wait--you'll just tell me how /wrong/ I am to think that."
He glances back over his shoulder, grinning broadly. "In the end, though, I'm still the one with the answers you want. You may want to be a little more conciliatory, if you ever want any insight into what actually happened."
"And you will continue to rebutt me as well. So perhaps we had better leave it as it is." Ziggy replys, his tone softening just a bit. "Like I said, I don't have all the answers, neither do you. And I'm not a machine, not yet." He says... almost regretfully. If he were he wouldn't have to worry about things like this, he'd just focus on his mission. KOS-MOS must have it easy. "I won't be more conciliatory. You misunderstand me. I'm certainly interested in your connection with Weber, but I don't need to know. I can live without it, I have more important things to worry about. All I need to do is protect MOMO from you, and others, and see my mission through. If you think you're the worst thing I've encountered in 100 years then you think too highly of yourself." He almost sounds threatening on that final sentence. Almost.
Albedo merely shakes his head at most of this--before laughing merrily on the last point. "Webber took your family, Jan Sauer--but I can take your soul. Think on that, hm?" With that, he turns and heads out of the restaraunt--presumably to seek another sunbeam to nap in.
Ziggy just says silently, partly responding to Albedo, partly affirming something to himself and the entire world. "Jan Sauer died a century ago, his soul went with him." It's a simple fact, really. How does Ziggy know he's nothing more than Sauer's corpse re-animated by the cybernetics?
Was there not a point at which Ziggurat told Jr. that in order not to lose one's head with passion, one must focus not on one's loved ones, but solely on the mission? But things do change once one enters Videoland. Yes... Quite a bit indeed. Gaignun knows that well himself. His eyebrows remain furrowed as his older brother saunters out of the restaurant before he shifts his gaze to the cyborg. Part of him wants to ask what that was all about, but the Director's diplomatic instincts instruct him to leave the matter be. "Now that that unpleasant piece of business is over with..." he begins, a touch curtly, "is there anything else you with to discuss with me?"
Ziggy pauses briefly, recollecting himself and replies. "..no. That will all, thank you." He steps back to the table and picks up the box which has lied forgotten during the entire debate. "Let me know if you come up with anything." He nods once, and heads out of the cafe, let the Director have his peace and quiet back for another little while.
"Take care, then, Ziggurat," Gaignun bids the cyborg farewell, nodding slightly before he returns to his table, ruminating on what just occurred.
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