Some More Aftermath of the Mooth

Ursa Diner(#179RAJh)
You step onto a cracked but clean tile floor that was probably once red, but is now a faded salmon pink. A large, rectangular communal table seating about 10 takes up the middle of the floor, with mismatched smaller tables arranged near the large front windows. The long counter in front of the kitchen door sports plates of fragrant bread, cookies, and muffins and bowls of fresh wild fruits. A small, rattling fridge in the corner holds a selection of juices and cold spring water in reused bottles and jars. Atop the refrigerator is a can for cash donations; next to it is a box for barter payments. Scrawled on the box in black marker are the words "Pay what you can, when you can."

Sashenka steps into the dining room, carrying a large tray loaded with fragrant pies, and starts unloading them onto the counter. The pies are steaming, and the pans must be hot, but Sasha handles them quickly enough that they don't seem to bother her, even without potholders.

The pies have not yet stopped emitting steam when Higami enters, in an open grey kimono over his business clothing. He carries a black cardboard box about 2 1/2 feet by 1 1/2 feet by 1 foot. He transports this to the counter and sets it down beside the pies.

Sashenka finishes with the last pie and wipes her purple-stained fingers on her apron. "Hello, Higami. What've you got there? Can I get you anything? Pies'll be ready to cut in about 10 minutes."

The door opens a second time, admitting the large figure of Haven's new blacksmith. A sharp gust of wind follows on his heels, carrying with it a handful of dead leaves. "Hullo!" he calls, his smile warming at the sight of the diner's proprietress.

Sashenka grins and waves, her fingertips still purpled. "Hi, Lucas! I was just telling Higami the pies'll be ready to cut soon. Anything else you can have now."

Lucas stoops to collect the leaves which accompanied him in, then looks around for a waste or compost bin in which to deposit them. "Looks like Ah have good timing, then. They smell terrific."

"I have payment for you today," says Higami simply to the hostess. "I have finally received the supplies I ordered from the Communications division of the Guild of Technology. As you know, I have never partaken of your food here, but for the use of the building, a range for making my tea, and most especially, the food, company, and hospitality, I felt as if I should make my payment now, because, as the sign says, I can." He opens the box. A modest array of smooth, black-cased electronic devices, none of which are larger than an oversize hardcover book, each encased in bubble wrap. His head turns to the door, to examine the newcomer. "Ah. Lucas. Forgive me for not knowing your last name, and thus lacking an honorific for you. I am pleased to meet a fellow businessman."

Sashenka peers into the box. "Oh, my. What are they?"

Higami dips one hand into the receptacle. "Let me see..." he pulls out a small brownish pyramid with rough-cut edges, and two vertical slats almost hidden on one side. "This is an orgone generator," he announces. "It collects energy from the ambient bioelectric field, from Gaia's bioelectric field, to be specific, and harnesses it as alternating current. It could be used as an all-purpose generator, and requires no fuel, although the wattage is low, enough to sustain only one high-energy appliance, or several low-energy ones." He lays it on the counter, one of the bubble wrap cells pops as he does so.

Sashenka blinks, and reaches a hand out to touch the pyramid wonderingly. "Oh, Higami, I couldn't take this! It must be terribly valuable."

"Mmm. The potatoes sound good to me, if there're any left," Lucas says. At Higami's greeting, he ambles over, still cradling the leaves, to peer curiously at the box and its apparently former owner. "Lucas Maker," he supplies. "A Technologist, you say?" There is the tiniest suggestion of hardness under his friendly greeting. "Whoa," is his assessment of the objects being pulled forth.

Sashenka turns and swiftly spoons a huge serving of potatoes onto a chipped rose-patterned plate, handing it to Lucas with a smile and then turning back to the precious object on the counter.

Higami nods to Lucas. "Yes, Mr. Maker. I am a Technologist, by current vocation. From the Communications division. I have come from the Crystal City in Japan to experience America. My services are at your disposal." He nods his head formally. "I have heard rumors of your vocation, but I would be indebted if you would enlighten me as to what it is that /you/ do." Turning back to Sashenka, he confides, "Don't be ridiculous. It is not overly valuable. Besides, your generosity has been extended to many who cannot pay. I would be honored to pick up some of their tab for them, if that is how you would like to think of this." He smiles a little.

Sashenka bows her head a little, bashful. "Well, then, thank you very much, Higami. A... A magic generator will certainly help -- I hate to think how much energy that old behemoth uses." She gestures toward the refrigerator.

"There're a lot of pieces of America closer to the Crystal City than here," Lucas remarks conversationally, stuffing the dead leaves into a pocket of his heavy work jeans. "You must've seen a lot on the way -- or did you come straight here ? If you don't mind my prying." He grins easily. "We got quite a mix of folks here."
Lucas takes the plate of potatos off the counter with a grateful smile in Sashenka's direction.

Sashenka notes Lucas' action and smothers a chuckle. She uses her toe to push a little garbage can around to the front of the counter.

Higami allows his own question to Lucas to go unanswered. "Prying? Not at all. The answer is, unfortunately, uninteresting. I merely switched planes at the Guild outpost at Norad City. I have seen none of America, except for the surrounding environs. And please, do not hesitate to ask questions of me. I enjoy conversation a great deal." The youth adds to Sashenka, "And the portable phone I gave you will need to be recharged. An orgone generator would be perfect for that task. If you would like me to describe some of the other objects in the box, I would be happy to. You may have your choice of them."

Sashenka looks between the box and Higami, but curiosity gets the better of her. "I think the generator is enough, but I would love to know what else you have in there!

Lucas looks momentarily bewildered. "But there can't be an airport within a hundred miles of here, at least," he observes. "Though Ah reckon Ah haven't seen much to the south of here." He takes another mouthful of potatoes, still standing at the counter. He must have worked up quite an appetite, for it's clear from his expression that he very much wants to get his hands on that generator. "And to answer your question, at least Ah think it answers the question -- Ah make things. Swords, armor, cart axles, horse shoes, pots... Nothing as high tech as this stuff, though."

Higami smiles at Lucas. "Water landing," he says simply. "And a blacksmith's art is not ever to be underestimated, as we Japanese pride ourselves on knowing. The blacksmith was the only member of the merchant class who was eligible to be in direct employ of the Samurai Lord, in days gone by." He then rummages in the box again. "Sateh..." he mutters. Then, more loudly, holding up the largest item in the box, which looks very much like a 13 by 11 inch matte-black picture frame, 1 inch thick, with the insides filled in, he identifies another item: "A copy machine, which can copy pages of books or letters in .6 seconds..." He draws out a very small black pad. Pressing a button, it switches to life, glowing blue all along one side. "Personal data entry pad... information can be written and stored inside unto, for all intents and purposes, infinity... it makes a useful journal or recipe/document/personal information storage unit..." This is switched off, and he removes another smooth, black instrument, only slightly larger than the petite data pad, and containing a few jacks along one side. "A personal translation unit. It has dictionary entries for sixteen of the world's foremost languages, and will display foreign language equivalents of spoken words using voice recognition technology and phonics matching. In short, speak into it in any language, and the proper word will appear on the screen, in any other language, although the voice receptor and the screen must be preset with the proper languages before beginning, of course, and it will only translate one word at one time... a one-second pause is neccessary between words." He continues to rummage.

Sashenka stares at the parade of devices. Finally, she comments: "Wow."

Brett listens to the bell ring as he pulls the maple door open. "Evening."

Lucas' eyes widen. "Woah. Been a long time since Ah've seen this much tech in one place," he comments. The chipped, rose-patterned plate has been divested of any trace of potato; he sets it carefully on the counter, away from the growing pile of gadgetry.
You paged Higami with 'Is any of this stuff spiritually active ? Meaning -- any spirits or spirit residue ?'.
You paged Higami with 'sense magic is also in there, now that I look at his sheet.'.
Higami pages: The orgone generator has something vaguely spirit-ey about it, but none of the other stuff does.

Higami takes the translator in hand and switches it on. His fingers fly across the small settings touchpad in a very practiced manner. "Brett-sama. Ohisashiburi... desu... ne." He speaks into it, holding the device up so that Brett can read the English words parading across the screen slowly, translating.

Sashenka looks up from the gadgetry as the doorbell cracks against the door. "Hello!" she says brightly. "Can I get you anything? The pie's still warm -- it should be just ready to cut."

Brett tilts his head, watching the parade of technology. "Oye vey. That's quite a bit of tech lying about."

The screen displays: "Master Brett. + + ///processing/// Master Brett. It has been quite a long time since I have had the pleasure of meeting you, has it not?"

Lucas takes the opportunity to examine the generator, casting a glance at Sashenka for permission before touching it.

Brett chuckles. "Nice. Now, can you get it to say 'all your base are belong to us?'" He unslings his backpack, taking care to rest it on an undamaged piece of floor. It lands with a heavy thump.

Sashenka nods to Lucas, then starts cutting pie, though no one has actually said they want any. "That's really impressive, Higami." She laughs. "At least, I assume it was right."

Higami pages: It's the only item here which seems to be made entirely out of natural materials, as opposed to synthetics, die-cast and plastic, which may partially explain why it still seems to radiate spirit of some kind. The materials are arranged in layers, with what appears to be alternating levels of organic material (something like soft wood) and inorganic material (some kind of stone conglomerate). It subtly emits good vibes.

Higami turns the screen to face himself. "Close enough for lowest-bidder work," he says to Sashenka. Laying it on the counter, its glowing face now staring up at the ceiling, he asks Brett, "Was that a reference to some mid-twentieth-century event?"

Lucas pokes at the little pyramid rather gently for someone with such large fingers -- fingers which are apparently used to hammering steel. He's begun humming softly to himself. "Now how are they holding all this together, I wonder?"

Brett smirks and says, "Early twenty-first century cultural virus, actually." He settles into a chair, eyes on the translator. "No one could kill it. We found copies of the Shockwave file that started the whole thing down in Washington and can't get rid of it."

There's a small thump from the back room, and then Rowan, blinking a bit, emerges from behind the curtain, looking as if he just woke up.

Sashenka looks at Brett with total incomprehension.

Brett gazes up to Sashenka and says, in all seriousness, "It's better not knowing. Please trust me on that."

Sashenka shrugs. "Okay, then, I'm grateful. Good morning, Rowan. Who'd like some pie?"

Higami turns to Lucas, his gaze looking appreciative. "How very perceptive of you to notice that property of it, Mr. Maker. Orgone generators have been held by secret societies who experiment with alternative energy forms for centuries, but their models have fallen apart, biodegraded under the force of their own energy, relatively quickly, and thus could not be sold to those who did not know how to make them themselves. The Guild's recent breakthrough in alloys, however, based on spiritual physics, created a bonding adhesive which is made of pure magnetic energy, which binds the metal elements in the wood to the elements in the stone. It is a /very/ strong magnetic field, and self-generating. The illusion of a perpetual motion machine." Higami nods to Rowan in greeting.

Rowan blinks vaguely. "What kind," he asks, before heading for the kitchen to start some water boiling.

Sashenka doesn't bother to grace Higami with a look of incomprehension. "Concord grape!" she calls to Rowan in the kitchen.

Lucas looks up from his examination of the generator to listen with keen interest to Higami's explanation of the thing. Then -- "Pie? Oh, yes ma'am." He sets the machine gently back on the counter.

The bell jangles in protest as the door is flung open with sudden violence. Niska (who else?) stands in the doorway, unmindful of the gusting wind or the little leaf-devil which skirls around her ankles. She stays in homid as she swoops into the room -- she's been staying in homid more and more, lately.

Rowan gravitates out to the main room again, once the kettle's on the fire. "You're appealing to my baser nature, Sasha. I'd love some." There's a brief pause and he adds, "Hi, Niska. How's tricks?"

Sashenka starts serving pie onto a succession of mismatched plates, looking up in surprise as the door bangs open. "N-Niska..." she says, then perhaps too brightly, "Want some pie?"

Lucas perks up noticably at the now-too-familiar name attached to this unfamiliar -- to him -- face. He studies the girl carefully, his expression neutral.

Higami notes to Lucas, "It is not a perpetual motion machine, of course. It is just that its source... Gaia's bioelectric field... is so vast that it can never lack fuel for the transformer." He falls silent as Niska enters, head bowing to her and smiling, his eyes to the ground.

Brett reaches over and picks up the small, black pad. "What type of interface does it use? Voice? Stylus? Good old-fashioned keyboard?"

Niska is looking at trifle wild-eyed, and a little more disheveled than usual. Her eyes scan the room's occupants, oblivious to all the faces but one. "Rowan!" she calls, her tone an odd mix of command and entreaty.

Rowan says, all question, "Niska?"

Higami points to a more identifiable device, still in the box. "A keyboard option is available," he says to Brett. The keyboard within is functional and flexible, and looks as if it can fold up twice on itself. "But a stylus is provided with all models."
Higami is still keeping one eye near Niska.

Sashenka realizes she's been holding a plateful of pie in the air for a while now, and sets it on the counter with a clatter.

*Now* Niska notices that the room is full of people. Her eyes dart from one face to the next, catching briefly on Higami's before returning to Rowan. "I --" she begins loudly, then drops her voice. "I need you. C'mere." She tugs on the Garou's sleeve, attempting to draw him toward the door.

Brett runs his finger along the datapad's edge until a small, black stilus pops free of the case. "Ahh. Nice." He seems entirely too comfortable with this device. "Higami-san, what--" His sentence cuts short as Niska catches Rowan's sleeve.

Rowan says, "Hold that thought," disengages, and gets his pie. He then puts Niska's hand /back/ on his sleeve, apparently quite ready to follow. Though he does ask, "What's up?" before he goes anywhere.

Lucas catches Rowan's eye, brows lowering. He shakes his head in a silent negative.

Rowan pages: As in, don't follow her?
You paged Rowan with 'that's what he's trying to say, yeah. But then, he's new here, and a little paranoid. feel free to ignore him '.
Rowan pages: Oh, I will. *grin*

"C'mon, c'mon, c'mon!" Niska flutters around Rowan. "I gotta ask you something!"

Rowan takes a bite of pie, since she seems not to be going anywhere. "What?"

Casting dark glances at the room's other occupants, Niska drags him out the door into the street.

Niska pushes open the door and walks out onto Main Street.
Niska has left.

Higami murmurs to Sashenka, "It smells wonderful, by the way, Mother Bear. If I were not forbidden to eat anything which I did not kill myself, I would indulge. How is the child?"

Rowan shrugs and follows.
Rowan pushes open the door and walks out onto Main Street.
Rowan has left.

Lucas looks at Sashenka uncertainly. "Is that a good idea? Letting them go off alone?"

Higami turns to Lucas, giving him a vaguely puzzled expression which his eyes aren't in on. "Why would it not be a good idea?"

Lucas regards Higami opaquely, and does not reply, looking instead to Sashenka for guidance.

Brett glances up from the pad. Somehow, he's managed to awaken it. The stylus clicks like a Flaminco Dancer's shoes as he flies through the device.

Sashenka looks at Higami, eyebrows lifting. "Oh! That's why you never eat anything!" She nods, looking satisfied. "Eve is fine. She's asleep in her crib in my bedroom." She returns Lucas' gaze, and her shoulders droop slightly. "I don't know, Lucas. I -- Niska's never been dangerous, never hurt anybody. She's Rowan's friend, and he can take care of himself. And -- I don't want to..." she trails off, plucking disconsolately at her apron.

Higami now does seem interested. /Very/ interested, for Higami. "You believe that Niska would try to harm Rowan, for any reason? Why? I would like to know." He is asking both Lucas and Sashenka.

Lucas puts his large hands on the counter, near Sashenka's, but not touching. "But what if she's heard? Maybe all along she's -- " at Higami's inquiry, he falls silent. "Do you want to explain it?" he asks the Nittak-itta. "I don't know this man's place here."
"Nothing personal," the smith quickly amends to Higami.

Higami assures both, "I feel certain in saying that I know both Rowan and Niska /very/ well."

Sashenka sighs. "Well... you know that we incorporated the ghosts at the old village into the Wards on the Caern?"

Brett quietly places the datapad on the table, then lays his hands atop it. He watches and listens, but says nothing and does even less.

Higami nods. "And I know that they will not allow Niska within the caern, and that she is disturbed by this."

Sashenka says "Yes. And at the Gathering the other night, the ghosts said that Niska --" she takes a deep breath, " -- that Niska killed them. All. And it's just not *possible*, but they were so certain...."

Higami relaxes. "Is that all, then? Naturally, you are suspicious of her, now. Was there any other reason?"
Higami does not seem very surprised by this at all.

Sashenka shakes her head. "No, that's -- what do you mean, *all*?"

Lucas watches Higami closely, a small frown starting between his eyebrows and working its way down his face to his mouth.

Brett reaches into his coat and removes a rather low tech device: a notebook and a mechanical pencil. He opens it to a blank page and begins sketching. Not deliberately. Brett's hand moves, slowly, as if waiting for an image to form.

Higami seems to consider something. "Well, I believe her to be no immediate threat, at any rate. She carries the mind of her predecessor within her, and so it is somewhat likely that the dead humans would confuse her identity. To the best of her knowledge, she hatched only four years ago. I admit that there is much that she seems to keep hidden even from herself, and the depths of the truth may go deeper, but I see only two alternatives as explanations for the spirits' accusations, and neither worries me overly. I could be mistaken... my beliefs are only founded on studies of her character and trends in probability. My deductions could be entirely wrong. But, in the end, any one of us holds the potential to destroy or raise up this community. Trust, as far as can be taken, is the only way for me to look upon those around me, right now, and I suspect it is similar for others as well."

Sashenka nods, looking up at Lucas. "Trust begets trust," she says softly, and a smile touches her lips. "I said that to Rowan about another friend not so long ago. I don't want to forget it."

Lucas blinks at Sashenka's admonition, and his face clears somewhat.

Brett lowers the notebook. Rough sketches of black birds merging with humans, stretching to a rough horizon. "Did the wraiths call her by name?"

Higami gives the nod of the head and the raised eyebrows that are the universal symbol of telling someone else silently that they just said something smart to Brett.

Sashenka nods. "They did. Very, very loudly."

Higami hums to himself. "Interesting. I suppose they called her a betrayer in addition to being a murderer?"

Brett simply says, "Interesting." His hand begins to move again, more sketches forming in the notebook. Figures; humanoid figures, one inside the other, like a puzzle box containing another puzzle box. He shakes his head as he mirrors Higami for a moment.

Sashenka smiles at Lucas again, then turns to Higami. "Umm, probably. I don't actually remember. There was a lot going on."

"They did," Lucas fills in the gaps in Sashenka's memory. "Said they saw her fly over."

Brett lifts his eyes. "Fly over? Just that?"

Higami says nothing, for once, watching Brett draw.

"'She betrayed us all for the sake of that handsome bastard,'" Lucas quotes, watching Higami. "They said she'd been trapped here for a hundred years." He pauses. "Were any of you here when Niska arrived?"

Sashenka's eyebrows draw together as she considers. "I think so. Of course, I suppose she could have been around before and I just hadn't seen her. I think she used to spend almost all her time in her animal form."

Higami shakes his head no to Lucas' question, his face a blank. "But I repeat: she believes herself to be four years old. If she did something regrettable in the past, the distant past, it is so mentally repressed as to not be an immediate threat."

Brett drops the pencil and closes his fingers around his palm. The joints pop. "Also, one should consider that the spirits may simply see who Niska was a century ago. Not who she is now. Anger does blind."

Sashenka nods. "At any rate, I feel that we would be doing both ourselves and Niska a disservice to treat her any differently now."

Lucas regards the Japanese youth coolly. "'There are more things under Tengri... '" he quotes. "And Ah never like to think Ah've seen 'em all."
In response to Sashenka, Lucas adds, shaking his head, "But we'd be doing both a greater disservice not to keep our eyes and ears and noses open."

Rowan, plate now empty, wanders back inside, looking morose.

Sashenka smiles. "Oh, yes, no doubt of that." Her head swivels around as Rowan comes in.

Brett quickly closes his sketchbook and tucks it into his coat. "Rowan? What's wrong?"

Higami looks to Rowan as well.

Rowan shrugs. "I like Niska, I hate we're having to eye her like she's some kind of pariah, and I have a splinter in my finger." After a pause, he adds, "On the bright side, your pie was great, Sasha."

"What did she want?" the smith asks.

Sashenka fishes in her apron pockets. "I know I have some tweezers somewhere." She brightens at the compliment to her pie. "Thanks! I'm glad you liked it."

Rowan shrugs, looking at the smith almost challengingly. "To talk. We're friends. Friends do that."

Higami places both hands on opposite sides of the carrier box, as if to ask permission to close it as he looks at Sashenka. "Shall I leave the generator with you, then?"

Sashenka crouches and rummages under the counter, emerging after a moment, triumphant, tweezers held aloft. She holds them out toward Rowan. "Can you get it, or do you need some assistance?" She turns quickly at Higami's question. "Yes, please, Higami. I'm flattered by the gift. Thank you."

Smiling warmly, Lucas replies to Rowan, "Ah know Ah'm the outsider here, and you all are fond of her -- it's important for a Gumi to back each other up." He continues reasonably, "But maybe mah fresh eyes can be a help. Ah'm sure we can agree that sharing info about this girl would be a good way to start helping her, eh? She sounded like she was pretty upset about something."

Rowan runs a hand through his hair, and sighs. Not quite meeting Lucas' eyes, he says, "Yeah. I guess. Mostly, she wanted to know if she was evil because of a /dream/ she had." He casts a brief glance at Higami, and adds, "About a snake putting stuff in her blood. I was like, 'believe me, there's better reasons to wonder if you're evil than that,' but I didn't say it like that. Anyway." He shrugs. "She's really fucked up and worried now. So." He turns to Sashenka, and asks, "You mebbe help? Sounds weird, but I kinda hate poking into myself like that..."

Sashenka follows her expression of worry with a smile. "Of course. Give me your hand."

Higami does now seem to be thinking of something. His eyes met Rowan's as Rowan threw him that glance, and it seems to have delivered some food for thought via his retinae. His hands rest on the still-open box.

Rowan gives the woman his hand. And carefully avoids looking at the tweezers.

Sashenka lets Rowan's hand rest in her big, soft one as she examines the affected finger. She carefully reached in and pulls out the splinter in one quick movement.

(I had to leave here. Must get the rest of the log from someone else.)