7126/At The Chase's End

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At The Chase's End
Date of Scene: 08 March 2020
Location: Kamurocho
Synopsis: Seifer tries to make amends. It doesn't go well.
Cast of Characters: 6928, Seifer Almasy

Riku (6928) has posed:
    Kamurocho. A city that never sleeps, a city that is more alive at night than the day. It's a place that speaks to Riku. One would think that he would avoid such a place, but even he needs a moment to rest and catch his breath sometimes.

Hence why the white-haired teen exits the batting cages, sighing as he steps back out into the night. People constantly walk by, lights flash, signs advertise all kinds of things, but Riku has none of it for now.

    For the moment, he walks, trying to lose himself in the crowd. There's no telling when his pursuers might arrive... And he's not sure which would be worse right now. He looks tired, haggard, worn down from weeks on the run. Maybe that's why he's angling towards one of the local restaurants, perhaps.

Seifer Almasy has posed:
     Riku doesn't get to the restaurant.

     Seifer's there, leaning against the wall. He's got Hyperion over his shoulder, like he always does. He's big, he's broad. He's not the anime prettyboy Riku usually deals with - a big blonde linebacker with a big square jaw and a big cut across his face in a big broad trenchcoat. He's probably twice Riku's mass, maybe thrice, considering Riku's flight.

     He pushes off the wall. "Not here," he says before Riku can say anything, "C'mon. Alleyway. It'll slow that guy down if he has to go through all those people, and there's people holding him off in the meantime. We'll have time to talk. Not much. But some."

     "It's not safe out in the open, though. He spots us and we'll be in trouble. I can probably take him but I'm not gonna risk it when I've got something more important to do."

     "Let's go."

Riku (6928) has posed:
For all Riku's demands that Seifer come out and deal with his issues himself, having Seifer actually do it is the last thing Riku would want at the moment. He grimaces, clenching his teeth as someone passes by and Seifer is just /there/. Isn't that supposed to be /his/ schtick? Or maybe he's lapsing in paying attention to his surroundings. Who could blame him?

    Riku doesn't say anything at all. He simply turns around... And pauses, looking over his shoulder when he gets addressed. "Gggh." He sighs to himself, and then he turns and steps into the alleyway. For once this one seems to be empty of thugs, giving them the space to themselves for the moment.

    Before Seifer says anything, Riku simply says in a tired voice, "Why the hell should I listen to anything you have to say? You've been sending people after me for ages too, remember."

Seifer Almasy has posed:
     "You probably shouldn't," Seifer says as he walks in behind Riku, one hand in his coat pocket, the other tapping Hyperion on the shoulder, "In ideal circumstances you probably wouldn't. You wouldn't need to."

     "But right now I figure you've got maybe a couple hours before the thing chasing you catches up. An' I'm the only person here. So the way I see it..."

     Seifer stands there for a moment, watching Riku carefully. His guard's down, but that doesn't mean anything - Seifer's fast enough and skilled enough that 'having his guard down' is basically just his way of saying 'come at me if you want.'

     "...the way I see it," he finishes, "You can listen to me or you can keep takin' your chances."

     His hand comes out of his coat pocket and tosses something at Riku. It's a wrapped square block. Unwrapping it reveals, "Iron ration."

     "Tastes like crap but it'll help wake you up. No poison. Ya oughta know that I'm not that guy. Even if ya don't, killin' ya wouldn't get me what I want, anyway."

     "But right now that's not what I want. Right now I want you to eat and get some strength back so we can actually talk, instead of you lookin' like a deer in the headlights. Take a minute. Breathe. Eat."

     "An' I mean talk."

     "I'm not here to fight."

Riku (6928) has posed:
    Riku shakes his head and leans back on the wall of the alleyway, fully expecting to be attacked the moment they're clear of bystanders.

    It doesn't happen. That doesn't make Riku let down his guard though. "Yeah. It's usually a couple hours, then he finds me again, I run through the Darkness, we repeat." He shakes his head. "Tch. Why am I even saying this to you?" A hand goes up to his head, his jaw clenching again as his eyes close... And then he shakes his head and straightens. He doesn't bother going straight for Seifer when he puts his own 'guard down'. Riku knows Seifer well enough that it's effectively just another pose.

    The iron ration comes out, he takes it and unwraps it, frowning for a moment before he shrugs and starts eating. There's a grimace, but he eats anyway. There's a sense that he's probably eaten worse at some point. He turns and stuffs some yen into a nearby drink machine and pulls out a Staminan, using the cheap energy drink to wash down the ration. "I know you're not that guy. But you still want something from me."

    Nevertheless, he takes that couple of minutes to eat the ration, and he simply leans back against the wall, sighing. "So, do you think this is going to make me tell you what you want, finally?"

Seifer Almasy has posed:
     "'cause you know right now I'm the best shot ya got."

     Seifer taps Hyperion on his shoulder again. "You're half-dead from exhaustion. You're half-starved from running. You probably haven't slept right in weeks. Eaten right in less. You're spending whatever time you can wherever you can to hide and try and disappear, lay as low as possible, and it ain't workin'. You can keep runnin' but he won't stop, so you're gonna run out of energy eventually, he'll catch up to you, and then he'll kill you."

     Seifer leans against the opposite wall, staring at Riku. "Talking gives you some time to catch your breath. Ration's better eating than most of the crap you're probably scrapin' by on. An' two bodies is better'n one if he shows up."

     There's a moment of silence. Seifer shrugs. "I do want somethin'."

     "I wanna say I'm sorry."

     The words hang in the air for a moment, amidst the hustle and bustle of Kamurocho.

     Seifer scratches the back of his neck and stares up at the sky. "Don't get me wrong. I ain't apologizin' for why I did it. I need to know where Sora is. It's important to me. It's real important to me. But..."

     "You ever do somethin' you know is correct, you're positive is the thing you need to do, without seein' any other way to get it done...an' then realize that it ain't right?"

     Seifer looks back at Riku. "I was talkin' about Sora the other day when I realized that what I was doin'..."

     "Well, it was correct. From a military standpoint it was right. Add to your exhaustion. Break you down. Force you into a situation where you either got caught an' tortured or gave in and told me what I needed. That was correct."

     Seifer scratches his neck again. "But Sora wouldn't like it. Sora's...I mean, we both know. He's the dumbest person alive, but he's got the best heart of any of us. He'd do anything for you. But he wouldn't do this. He'd find another way."


     "I'm sorry."

     "An' if you don't believe me, then..." Seifer shrugs. "I'm no good at bein' Sora, y'know?"

     "I don't remember what happened at Hollow Bastion."

     Seifer locks his eyes with Riku. "There's a whole lotta reasons an' some of 'em have to do with injuries an' some of 'em have to do with the Multiverse but the long an' short of it is that I don't remember what happened. I believe that you beat me. I believe somethin' happened that put us in a situation where me, Sora, an' Molly had to fight you."


     "I forgive you."

     Seifer shrugs. "Whatever it was, it was probably somethin' you felt desperate enough to do, or somethin' you felt you needed to do, or...who knows. Who cares. Sora'd forgive you for it. The minute you gave him a chance he'd give you a big hug an' say 'it's fine, Riku. I understand! Now let's go find Kairi - together!'"


     "...so I'm tryin' to live up to that example. He thought I could stop bein' a bully. Here I am, givin' it a shot."

     "I forgive you. Whatever happened. Whatever you felt you needed to do. For whatever reason you did it."

Riku (6928) has posed:
There is a long silence when Seifer begins apologizing to Riku. Riku stares at him like he just started speaking another language, or like he grew another head. "You... are sorry. You... forgive me. How can you..."

    Again, the hand goes over his face, and he laughs bitterly. "How can you forgive me when you have no idea what to forgive me for? You don't even know why." He shakes his head. "Sora... What a sap. I guess he did get through to you somehow."

    He looks back at Seifer, his eyes haunted, rings under them. It's clear that every bit of Seifer's estimation was perfectly on target. He's already about to crack.

    "But he's an idiot. He's never going to give me a hug, Seifer. He's never going to tell me to go find Kairi with him." He looks down at his hands. Seifer can see them trembling, flickers of shadow and dark fire surrounding them. The movement isn't natural.

    "But even now, you're still trying to be the big man." Riku's voice cracks slightly. "Do you want me to thank you for this? What do you think you're going to accomplish? You don't even know what you're dealing with. Do you think your forgiveness can undo what happened?"

    Finally, he pushes off of the wall and takes a step towards Seifer. His eyes grow a little wild, his tone edging towards manic. "So fine, Seifer. Since you're being so kind to me, I'll tell you why Sora is never going to do any of those things. Why you're an idiot to forgive me."

    He spreads his hands. "It's because Sora is gone. He's a Heartless now." Darkness erupts around him, the black energy shrouding him as he speaks again, his voice cracking.

    "And I did it. It's all my fault."

Seifer Almasy has posed:
     Seifer takes a long, deep breath. The Darkness is unpredictable. The Darkness is dangerous. But...Riku's in trouble. And he can hear Sora in the back of his head.

     "Yeah, and?"

     Seifer grabs Riku by the collar of his shirt. "You want me to beat the heck out of you, huh? You want me to put my fist through your face and keep hitting you so you can feel bad about it? So you can feel like you're gettin' what you deserve? Is that what you want?"

     His hand tightens around the collar. He's risking the Darkness right now, and he knows it. He's risking a lot. Riku might flip at any moment. Something *wrong* might happen. But...he's gotta do it, right? Gotta get through to him. Owe it to Sora to help his best friend.

     "'cause I'm not gonna do it."

     Seifer's eyes are locked on Riku's now, hard as any soldier's eyes. "I'm not gonna do it because you don't deserve it."

     "You're a scared, stupid teenager. You think I ain't been there? You think I ain't almost got people killed? Look into my eyes, huh? Look at me. I'm a soldier. I've seen people die. I've killed people. I've got blood on my hands that I ain't ever gonna be able to wash away. We all carry that crap with us. We all beat ourselves up over it. Even me."

     Seifer stands there for a moment, hand on Riku's collar.

     Then he hugs him. It's a one-armed manly guy-hug kinda hug, not the warm two-armed buddy hug Sora might give. Seifer's not great at this. It's definitely awkward. Even if the Darkness burns, Seifer still gives him that hug, though he might let go faster than he would otherwise.


     "I don't want you to thank me."

     He releases Riku and turns around. "I ain't doin' this for accolades. I'm not here for thanks. I'm here because I'm tryin' to do right by Sora. An' if he's gone - if he's really, permanently, for-reals gone - we'll deal with that when we get there."

     "But right now his friend's in trouble, an' that means you're my friend, too. An' if he saw what you were doin' to yourself he'd get mad at you. He'd get mad at me for not helpin' you out. He'd get mad at both of us an' we'd get an earfull. An' that's not even countin' what Molly'd do."

     Seifer turns around. "Look. I've got a place you can crash. I never use it an' he won't be able to get in there without a *load* of trouble down on him. It's better than anything you've got right now an' you might be able to get a couple days' rest. Even if he catches up to you there'll be people to slow him down."

     "Don't get me wrong. I'm mad."

     "But I'm not gonna hurt you anymore. I can be mad at you and still forgive you for messin' up. Somethin' I..."

     "Let's say I didn't learn *that* one from him, huh?"

     Seifer grins. "I don't think that moron has it in him to be mad at anybody for long enough for it to matter."


     "You're in pain. Even I can tell. You're scared. You're hurt. You're broken down."

     He holds out a hand. "Lemme help you."

Riku (6928) has posed:
    Riku doesn't even resist as he is yanked into the air. Contact with the sizzling Darkness around him burns, only increasing the longer he does so. "Yes." Riku says, his voice practically pleading. "Do it. DO IT!" He all but demands, staring back into Seifer's eyes. What Riku sees, he doesn't say, but Seifer sees into Riku's eyes. There's something Wrong there. It's not just fatigue. Not just guilt, even if that is a big part of it. It's not just anger or pride.

    here is a choking noise as he pulls Riku around, hugging the seething teenager and trying to reach out to him. It hurts. Even so, Seifer's been through worse. When he finally drops Riku, his expression is one of incandescent torment, the teenager shaking as he collapses directly to his knees. Seifer speaks his piece, makes his offer, but Riku doesn't seem like he's really hearing it. At this point, Riku is more looking /through/ Seifer than /at/ him.

    Seifer holds out his hand, offering him shelter, a chance to deal with his problems. A way forward out of the hell he's lived in.

    Riku opens his mouth, but the only thing that comes out of his mouth is a strangled, "Run...!"

    A moment later, there is a flash of blackness at his chest, Riku doubling over in agony before there is a surge of black-purple flame that roars upwards, rushing over him.

    And when it passes, what is left is a tall, tanned man in a long coat and pants. The Heartless Emblem is resplendent on his chest, and he stares back at Seifer with dispassionate golden eyes, framed with white hair.

    "I must thank you, boy." The man says. "In recognition of that thanks, I will allow you to leave intact."

Seifer Almasy has posed:
     Yeah, actually, Seifer'd expected that.

     Well, no, he hadn't expected *that*. Hadn't expected Riku to grow three sizes that day, from a scared teenager to a tall, dark stranger. Hadn't expected Riku's darkness to be more than physical, more than magic. Hadn't expected that.

     He'd expected his attempt to fail, though.

     He's not Sora. He never could be Sora.

     Even when he tries he still screws it up.

     Gloved fingers tighten around Hyperion's hilt. Index in the trigger. The rest around the grip. Eyes fix on the stranger in front of him, the tan man who seems to have taken over for Riku.

     "So you're the other guy, huh."

     "You're the guy our friend was chasin'."

     "You're the guy he was willin' to kill a scared teenager for."

     His other hand clenches into a fight fist. "You're the guy he was willin' ta chase that kid all over the Multiverse for. The one he was willin' ta put a kid through Hell for. The one he was willin' ta hurt anybody who got in his way to get to, no matter what the reason."

     "I don't know you. But you're not gettin' away that easy. An' givin' me that 'thanks, I let you live' thing..."

     His lips curl up in a defiant grin. "That just makes me wanna kill you harder!"

     Seifer lunges at him. Seifer is fast. He's not lightning fast, not lightspeed fast, but he's fast, and his gunblade is no joke. It swings inwards, tip dancing like lightning. But that's not the goal.

     His index finger slips out of the trigger. He snaps, an awkward motion. There's an explosion in front of the other man's face.

     And then Seifer slips in range to slide a transmitter into his pocket.

     He's gonna eat it for this. He's gonna eat it real bad. But this...


     Guys like this don't expect that kind of thing, do they? They expect big posturing. They expect big magical explosions. They expect somebody they can push around to show how superior they are.

     Alright. If that's the way he's gonna play it.

     Seifer comes around the other side, Hyperion swinging around for a neck-shot. Gotta make it look convincing. Seifer can make it look convincing. Seifer can take this beating and minimize the damage to himself.

     Seifer can make that guy ignore everything but the pleasure of kicking Seifer Almasy's ass.

     "C'mon, tall, dark, and cliche! Gimme your best!"

     "Can't be much! Hidin' inside a teenager like that!"

     "Can't be nothin' but a chicken-wuss!"

Riku (6928) has posed:
    Seifer tried. But the deck was stacked against him from the start. There was no way he would have known about this. Why this was happening. What the true identity of the 'old man' Riku let slip was... And the entire time, this being was attempting to take control of him.

    Seifer lunges at the man... And a black creature interposses itself before him. A dark, bandaged horror of a Heartless, the Gunblade skidding along the creature's surface. The snap of an explosion causes him to jerk back for a moment, closing his eyes. Even he can't prevent that reflex, albeit not being harmed. The transmitter goes into the pocket, and the man simply smiles. Does he know?

    "You shouldn't have listened to that foolish boy. You are much more effective when you put him out of your mind." There is a rush of dark power as burning purple light wraps around him in a wireframe, Seifer being forced to give ground as he lazily lifts off the ground and drifts forward else he be run over by the sizzling magical barrier.

    This gets considerably harder when the Guardian sweeps in behind Seifer and begins harrying him with wide sweeps of his claws, trying to force him back into the barrier.

    "Your words are hollow and meaningless. You were no more effective in Hollow Bastion, and this time you do not even have the Keyblade Bearer to save you. You should have taken my offer."

Seifer Almasy has posed:
     If Seifer's worried about the man knowing, he doesn't show it. No, he doesn't think this man knows. If nothing else - if *nothing* else - Seifer is confident in his sleight-of-hand. He was an orphan first, and then paramilitary. He's smarter than most people give him credit for. And this guy thinks he's invincible. The likelihood is low. And if he does, then, fine. It was a gamble.

     The Heartless is the problem right now. The Heartless and the energy barrier. Seifer skids backwards away from it, eating a burn on the hand to stop himself from parrying it with his blade. That might be worse. Might be better. Not sure yet. Can't tell. The Guardian's a bigger problem.

     Hyperion dances. Hyperion dances like the wind. He's faster than the thing, fends off the claws, but he can't fend off being pushed into the barrier. Shock. Blast. Pain. Seifer bounces off it, hitting the ground, smoking. He grinds his teeth. Have to make it look like he's frustrated. Have to make it look like he's angry.

     "Yeah? You didn't leave much impression. Probably why I don't remember what happened!"

     The Heartless isn't the biggest threat on the field, but it's the most immediate one, and it's the complication. Seifer rolls to avoid another claw-strike, snapping his fingers for a barrage of blasts. "No wonder. The whole cliche. You're so generic I don't think you could slip into anybody's mind. Man I'd be embarrassed if I talked like you." Another roll out of the way. He grabs his side. "You got a bargain-bin name to go with the bargain-bin haircut? Somethin' like /Mister X/ or /Lord Destroyer/ or /X-Death/?"

     He skids backwards at the next claw-strike, the gunblade shot propelling him backwards more than his own feet. He can feel the burn on his back very, very acutely. That's right. Keep underestimating him. Seifer was counting on it.

     Well. Underestimating his intelligence, anyway. Not his combat skill. He could probably figure out a way through the barrier, given time. But he very much did not have it.

Riku (6928) has posed:
    The strange man is imposing, but he doesn't appear to be omniscient. If he understands the nature of the SeeD and what it means, he isn't showing any sign of it. Then again, he seems to be also not simply jumping for Seifer's baiting, as if he thinks himself above it. "Is this truly your best? You could have been so much more, if you remained in the Darkness."

    The Guardian gets smashed, gets blasted, gets carved apart. Seifer's bladework is impeccable. Clearly, he can win through if he just hold fast-

    The Eidolon suddenly warps, blurring past Seifer and slamming into the barrier itself. Instead of bouncing off with burns, it absorbs into the barrier, a churning black wave surging over it... And shattering to reveal the man once again... Except the Heartless has merged with the man, replacing his arms with the massive knife-like claws. Black flame erupts around his body, a deadly aura surging forth once more.

    "You think your braggadocio means anything to the power of Darkness? FALL INTO THE DARK!" A moment later, he spins, a churning, brutal spinning claw spiral that shreds a line through Seifer's position, crushing concrete and a chainlink fence like they are butter. Even should he manage to mitigate that, the man rises, holding his hands up. All around the area, debris flies up, inexorably pulled towards a burning black hole that surges into existence over him. Even some playground equipment nearby gets ripped out of its mountings, absorbed into the mass that gathers there... "BEGONE!" The power crashes down, hurled in Seifer's general direction. Unlike Riku, this guy seems to have no concern for collateral damage as the energy blast crashes down, obliterating a chunk of the pavement and exploding outwards in a devouring shrapnel blast of superheated rock and metal.

    When the smoke clears, the man floats backwards. "I am Ansem, the Seeker of Darkness... And soon, the source of all Darkness will belong to me. Your struggles mean nothing here!"

Seifer Almasy has posed:

     Good. He had an idea of what kind of person this guy was. He had an idea of what he needed to know. Superiority complex. Power to back it up but a superiority complex all the same. Obsession with a dangerous power - and a lot more control over it than Riku had. That was good.

     The Guardian gets carved apart.

     That's good, but it's also bad. It's good, because it means it can be beaten (probably). It's bad, because Seifer's not trying to win.

     Which is good, because the other guy isn't gonna let him.

     The line of cutting force slashes through chain and concrete. It doesn't cut through Hyperion - the blade snaps around in an impossible angle, catching the strike. It still sends Seifer skidding backwards - and probably breaks a bone in his arm, judging by how he tossed the blade to his other hand - but it doesn't cut him to pieces.

     The gravity ball, though. That's a problem.

     It smashes right into him. The explosion hits him dead on. Shrapnel, rock, metal, gravity, energy. It hits Seifer more or less dead-on. The best he can do is, on automatic, parry away shots that would otherwise be lethal, carving aside hits that would go straight through his eyes, his mouth, his brain, his vital organs. It's almost pure instinct. He's not getting up again after that.

     Yeah, he hits the ground. He manages to mutter out what he came for, and then he's still and quiet.

Riku (6928) has posed:
    It's a brutal battle. Were it more protracted, Seifer could take his pound of flesh from the Seeker of Darkness, but Ansem has no desire or interest in toying with the man. It's not hard to see or hear or /feel/ what just happened. Anyone with magical senses anywhere nearby would have felt the surge of Darkness crushing the area. This man is not subtle.

    But in the end, Seifer is left blasted flat onto the ground. It's to his credit to his incredible, inhuman tenacity (and possibly Gilgamesh) that he is still alive. Ansem floats there, hanging imperiously over the fallen SeeD. "A pity. Were you more willing to open yourself to the Darkness, you would have been a useful tool."

    But he doesn't finish Seifer. "It is time to put an end to the pitiful lie of the Light." Should anyone appear at that moment, they will see the Seeker of Darkness vanishing in a curling wash of shadow that ripples over him and disappears, leaving only the devastation in his wake.