Kaji’s… new digs are large enough that they technically need a zoning permit. The fact that they are both mobile and armed mean that the City desperately wants to keep them away from the Coalition though so they’ve cleared a large flat space near the docks of cargo so that Kaji can put it there.
It’s been parked long enough that Kaji has had time to explore it. There are sleeping quarters in it, for a start and surprisingly even a (very small) kitchenette with just enough equipment to store food – much of it was presumably rations – and heat it. There isn’t running water but there are places to store it and, well, providing fresh water is a simple magical trick. One only needs to go down to a technowizard to get an appropriate crystal.
So essentially it’s like a studio apartment with most of the room taken up by a reactor and the controls of a small battleship, but with only one person in it, it’s roomy enough. Kaji… could live there if he decided he wanted to do so.
Aiden has come around after some rest to check in on him. He taps on the door in the leg. Which does – as it turns out – lock. Glancing up he wonders… is Kaji in? Or has he gone elsewhere? Like… to Gran’s to work.
A mobile suit…apartment. It’s like the best thing ever. It nearly makes getting stuck in some whacko-magical post-apocalyptic future dealing with undead and aliens that aren’t aliens and other crazy powers-that-be worth it. Okay, so there’s been a lot of good things to balance it out, but getting permission to keep a mech of his own definitely goes right on up there on the list.
Kaji’s still been pulling his shifts at Gran’s, but whenever he gets the time to do so and more so, right after his shift is up, he’s usually found here, familiarizing himself with the big metal monstrosity. By now he’s gotten things cleaned up, not that it seemed to need very much, and he’s got a pretty good idea of its layout. When there come a knock on the hatch serving for as well a ‘front’ door as any, he makes his way on down, tucking his cat into the hood of his coat as he makes his way down.
“Heeey..!” he greets Aiden when he swings the thing open.
Slaine is with Aiden when Kaji opens the open the door. She waves and smirks just a little at the youth.
“Settlin’ in? I bought ye gifts …” over her arm is a basket, which she doesn’t hand over yet, but Kaji can smell fresh baked bread.
“Can we come in?”
Aiden looks up at the looming, massive warbot and just shakes his head at the grandiose scale of the thing. “We figured we’d see how you were settling in. And… I won’t deny being somewhat curious about this thing. I can’t think of a single instance or story I’ve ever come across of anything remotely like this, not from the Golden Age anyway.”
He pauses. “It’s… really impressive isn’t it, Slaine? It’s got lots of… desu.”
What that exactly means Aiden is not entirely sure but people in scattered areas of North America still apply it to things like giant robots and young women. It means something like ‘presence’ he thinks.
Kaji grins, nodding at Slaine and Aiden, brows lifting high as he notes the basket. He manages to restrain himself from making grabby hands at it.
“Sure, come on in! It’s…not that much different from when we found it. I started putting in some things to make it less technical office-space and more homey but there’s not much you can do in that, heh…”
He steps back to let them in, reaching a hand up to gently cup Kiri’s head as the cat clambers partially out of his hood, forepaws balanced upon his shoulder. Aiden’s comment draws the most flat-eyed look ever as the young necromancer stares at him.
“…Slaine, I think Aiden’s been possessed by aliens- can I smack him upside the head?”
“Desu?” Slaine stares blankly at Aiden as she shifts the basket, blinking at the cat as it balances on Kaji’s shoulder. “It looks good Kaji, though it’s always going to look like … a robot, really.”
She chuckles at Kaji’s comment and glances at the psychic, raising her eyebrows “If ye don’ min’ gettin’ tossed across yer house, be my guest. Also … what’re aliens? I don’ know that type of D-Bee that is.”
Finally she holds the basket out to the youth. “Gran always told me these make good “house warming” gifts.” She sounds a bit … sad. Moira’s been gone for weeks with no word.
In the basket, Kaji will find a loaf of bread with a not attached saying “May those in this house never go hungry”; A tallow candle with a note “May you always have light in your darkest hours”; and a jar of honey (heavens knows where she got that) with a note that reads “May you enjoy all the sweetness life has to offer”.
Surprisingly, perhaps, the notes have all been written by Slaine.
“It’s a type of mythical demon with two mouths, I think. Never seen one myself so I assume they don’t actually exist? It’s a story from the Golden Age.”
It is really hard to tell if Aiden is trolling. He seems so very serious so he’s possibly not trolling but you know…
Aiden sees the notes when Kaji reads them and looks at Slaine. When he’d met her she couldn’t read or write, which is fairly common to this day. Seems she’s been studying hard.
“I trust that this thing isn’t… haunted or booby trapped or anything like that. No secret compartments or world ending super weapons hiding in here?”
“I think we had a discussion about aliens way back, and it didn’t go very well because apparently your version of aliens and mine are totally different,” Kaji smirks. “They come from outer space, beyond the sky and this world. At least the ones I’m thinking of, ‘cept they’re largely fictional.”
He side-eyes Aiden before accepting the basket when Slaine offers it to him, hooking it over his arm so he has a hand free to go through the items within. His smile grows wider with each attached note that he picks out to read, and at the last he lifts his head to look back at Slaine. “You’ve gotten pretty good!” he says, lifting the basket slightly. “Thanks so much. These mean a lot- more so with your notes.”
Shifting his shoulder as his cat decides she wants to say hi to everyone by climbing further out to use his arm as a bridge, Kaji glances around before grinning crookedly at Aiden. “Nah. At least I haven’t sensed anything ever since we’d taken it out of that hangar, restless spirits-wise.” When’s he been so sensitive to those? “And I haven’t come across any death traps either. It’s all pretty straight forward. Helps that some things are labeled!”
In English too! English that Kaji can read no less that hasn’t been corrupted by three hundred years of exposure to interdimensional language groups. Which is good. If Kaji ever took a look inside a Dogwood mech he might find some of the older ones are permanently set to Quebecois French, not that anyone around here actually speaks it.
“All good to hear.” He pauses before that massive computer, the one that requires a person to interface with it. It’s quite a marvel, really.
“What are you going to do with it? With a second person needed to operate the computer, it’s not like it’s drivable solo. And Slaine’s the only one with experience, er, being the brain.”
“Oh right. Outer Space. Another dimension that you didn’ use Rifts to get to. It was all a bit confusin’.” Slaine says vaguely, flushing bright, bright red at Aiden’s look and Kaji’s compliments.
The writing is extremely childish and some of the letters are probably written backwards.
Childish and slightly reversed as the writing might be, it’s a long way from having been unable to read or write at all. Kaji’s so proud of her! Also he thinks it gives a bit of charm in this cute sort of way but he supposes he won’t say that part aloud.
Kaji follows after them, moving Kiri to hold in his arms as they come to the computer. “Not sure. I mean, I’ve been curious about how it works exactly. I’ve been wanting to plug in to see- not go anywhere or anything, but I wanna know how much can actually be controlled from here, function-wise.” He glances at the two, smiling sheepishly as he scratches his kitty’s head. “I just wasn’t sure I wanted to try doing anything like that without someone else around. How was it, Slaine?”
“Well if you wanted to try it now I can stand by here and pull you out if anything goes wrong.”
Kaji’s caution is well warranted. Even if something didn’t happen to HIM, it’d be all too easy to, say, accidentally discharge a massive railgun or plasma cannon at the docks, at a boat, at a building. It’d be bad.
And then Vesper would be forced to lay siege to Kaji’s house. Because seriously this thing is big enough that you’d just about have to lay siege to it to get inside if the door were locked.
Probably best not to say anything, no. Slaine is clearly self conscious of it, even if she went to the effort to do it. “I’m glad ye like it…” she says quietly, watching as Aiden and Kaji look at the computer.
“How was it?” How on earth can she answer that? With the Crown in her head, it was almost a relief to connect to the computer but she can’t say that here – not with Aiden standing right there. “I don’ know how to explain, Kaji. It was like I had extra bits to control – more arms, more legs … and it was a bit noisy.”
Will it be like that for him? She doesn’t know.
Looking from Slaine to Aiden, Kaji nods a little in consideration, his eyes trailing back towards the computer console. Slaine’s description of her experience is a pretty basic idea at least, and Kaji imagines she can only compare it so vaguely because of a proper lack of reference. He’s not even sure if the other mechs he’s seen around here function in such a way other than manual control, but he’d never thought to ask anyone about it.
“If it’s like, computer-speak then I can imagine it’d probably get pretty noisy. But I’ve had plenty of voices in my head so maybe it won’t be so bad?” He laughs a little, moving to set the basket aside and out of the way. He holds out his cat to Slaine. “Could you?”
The exact nature of this computer is indeed unique. Even Aiden who has some experience working with large mechanized military units has never seen the like. He moves off to the side and looks at the cat.
Like. Really looks at it. Like he’s making sure it’s not a faerie in disguise. One might laugh at such paranoia but… these things have been known to happen.
No terrible set of riddles seems to be forthcoming so he awaits Kaji’s experiment.
“Slaine we might want to move over to the weapons consoles and keep an eye on them.
When Kaji plugs in… well it doesn’t hurt. But it’s not an entirely pleasant feeling either.
And then he’s… more. There’s no other word to describe it. He can feel the body of the mech like it’s his. Which is… weird. It’s not like a human body. There are things he can tell aren’t directly connected to the ‘brain’ and the sheer load of everything means that just regulating basic functions – like the power – could take most of his concentrations to say nothing of trying to aim and fire weapons. No wonder there’s a separate pilot.
But still. He’s suddenly seeing through the bot’s sensors. Feeling the thrum of it’s reactor in his chest. He’s just… so much more than he is when he’s human.
This could be addictive to the wrong kind of mind.
He can still talk though. He’s still… aware of his own body, tiny insignificant thing that it is.
There’s no way Slaine could describe how it feels – words aren’t enough to do that. “Of course …” she murmurs, taking the cat gingerly “What’s his name?” She juggles the small feline trying to cradle it properly in her arms.
“Are ye sure this is a good idea, Aiden?”
“Kiri,” Kaji informs Slaine, smiling as the cat tries to make herself comfortable in the redhead’s arms. Kiri’s a purrfectly normal cat. Megana had reassured him of such when she let him pick one for his birthday from the litter of kittens she’d been housing.
There’s a hint of barely contained excitement from Kaji as he moves to plug into the computer. He waits for his friends to get into a more cautionary observational position before diving in.
It’s disorienting, to say the least. The world around him seems to expand, and simultaneously he feels like he’s grown. He gasps at the shift, his mouth hanging open as he tries to let things settle for a moment.
“Oooooohmygosh I was not ready for that,” he breathes, chuckling nervously as he tries not to get too overwhelmed by everything. It’s too easy to do that, what with so much more to see and feel, so much more that he’s suddenly become aware of. Kaji swallows, trying to narrow his focus down a little, pulling his concentration to the sensors. It seems a good place to start. Can he see outside? How does it look from this perspective? What’s the range..?
“Nooot… really…” Aiden says to Slaine. “That’s why I’m keeping an eye on this weapons console.” Hopefully if something happens they can… disconnect the power or something. Slaine can bend metal and materials so it’s possible she could forcibly disconnect Kaji if she had to. The… bot might be a bit broken at that point so hopefully it’s not necessary.
And in fact as Kaji starts to ‘connect in’ the ‘power’ bar on a nearby console starts to go up. Fairly sure that’s for the right arm cannon. So does the ‘heat’ bar.
“Kaji? Are you… okay?”
“I… Wait, waitwaitwait what’s it doing–”
His voice sounds so faraway even to his own ears. Or is he even listening through his ears anymore? This is so weird. Is he thinking too much? Kaji’s beginning to think this is a lot more complicated than he’d thought.
“Ugh. Okay, okay, calm down…” he tells himself, drawing in a slow breath as he tries to reorient himself, or the bot, or…whichever it is. He tries pulling back to a more broad overview again.
When he gets nervous the power output of the reactor starts to go up and consequently the interior starts to get rather warm. Aiden looks nervously at the consoles.
Thankfully at that point Kaji starts to calm, which makes things return to normal. But it’s at that point that something strange happens.
Kaji finds Slaine. Or, well, not really Slaine but an echo of her left on the computer interface. Like a fingerprint on a window. And Slaine knows the moment she does because she hears her own voice over the speakers. ‘Hello Kaji.‘
Slaine cradles Kiri, stroking the cat to try and keep it calm as Kaji does his thing. She’s watching ever so carefully.
When his nervousness spikes, she moves to the youth, to hold his gaze if she can “Kaji …” she says at the same time her own voice comes over the speaker. “… breath. Remember yer meditation lessons with me …”
In Slaine’s arms the cat perks, looking around anxiously as she nestles snugly against the mystic. She has no idea what’s going on but the warmth had been nice while it lasted? Maybe?
“Slaine..?” If Kaji sounds confused, it’s because he is. The voice of the real Slaine does prompt reaction from him at the reminder, and at least he manages to calm down even as he puzzles about the mystic’s presence. He can sense her, and it’s different than knowing that she’s there where he and Aiden are.
As Kaji starts to meditate the power output goes down until it bottoms out at the ‘minimum’ needed to keep things running. Aiden lets out a sigh of relief. The sensation is still massive. Unlike anything. No wonder Slaine couldn’t describe it.
And then Kaji feels a tic in the back of his head and he realizes he’s… updating?
Oh. This thing still has software. Its… performing maintenance. It may… be a good idea to let it do that and connect later for this again.
Calm, Kaji, Slaine’s voice says. Just calm down. Relax ‘an rest… Beat. Twenty seven out of four hundred fifty eigh’ updates complete.
“Don’ figh’ it, Kaji …” Slaine pets Kira some more, hoping the feline doesn’t struggle and try and to escape. She looks at Aiden and then console. That’s good, he’s got that under control.
“Yer doin’ well. I know it’s a lot to take in.” It’s updating? That earns Aiden a questioning look.
“Y-yeah… Good idea,” Kaji murmurs upon Slaine’s (Slaines’??) suggestion. He’s sure not going to stand here and wait for early five-hundred updates to finish up.
Slowly he closes his eyes, letting himself disengage from the computer. “…heh. My house is talking but it’s not a Sarah, it’s a Slaine,” he says, sounding almost delirious for how unlikely either of his friends will get the reference. Smiling wearily, he opens his eyes again, finding his perspective so oddly limited now that he’s no longer plugged into the computer, and doing so is just as disorienting, save in the other direction, not to mention surprisingly draining.
He takes a step back. And promptly starts to fall over.
Aiden catches Kaji, by which we mean he floats Kaji with his mind so he doesn’t hit the deck. “Well, it’s a good thing he wasn’t alone.” The psychic says.
“Come one, let’s put him in that bunk in back. We can lay his cat on his chest until he either wakes or suffocates.” And in the mean time they can poke around a bit too.
Kaji won’t mind, right?
“Come on Slaine. Come on, Mister Fluffybutt.”
Aiden and Slaine come to visit Kaji at his new...mobile apartment. While they're there, Kaji takes the main computer for a spin.
February 06, 2412