This was . . . odd. There was Noise present, here. The power resonating within him called out to it, and he felt himself absorbing it in waves; it was incredibly dense.
Element City looked like a war zone, just as Nightshade had informed him it was. Buildings were left as carcasses, streets were torn apart, the ambient pull of destroyed and corroding data strung through the air. An interesting choice, designing a city out of code for the Navis that inhabited the Net to live in. Interesting how the humans of this world interacted with their technological alternates. Burai did not try to wrap his head too much around it, though, as Element City was in no shape to be compared to; not as much as Creamland had been, but he could only barely see it through the boundary.
What surprised him most was this Noise that fed through the air. He didn't think that the density of the technology present in this time would be sufficient to create Noise; it would require a lot of specialized adaptations. Waves generated Noise because of their density and how they hung in the environment; he couldn't imagine anything with enough data density and affect on the environment to create Wave-Based Noise in this era. How strange and peculiar. He allowed his internal systems to absorb it nonetheless, the air becoming less filled with static and perhaps even more hospitable to Nightshade just by his presence. There was more than enough noise present for him to finalize a few times over if he so chose . . . he didn't let that bother him too much, though, and went on with his efforts to look about and observe.
"Tell me, Nightshade, is this a more beautiful place when it isn't in ruins?" His voice was somewhat sad, distant, but still clear. It held a lot of similarities, but it wasn't quite the same. He couldn't quite see those that didn't make it out of the rubble alive - he would guess that they had gotten deleted, and would have faded away.
Physical bodies didn't fade away after a Ruination.
"Well, we are where I requested you first take me. If it so fits you, you may flee to your hearts desire. If not, know that if an altercation arises, I fight on my own. I will answer more of your questions to pass the time until the trap inevitably springs."
"Yeah. It was. A lot of people used to live here. Now it's a ghost town." Nightshade replied, jumping over a piece of concrete. "Not so different from those eighteen worlds of yours eh? Either way, better get used to the sight, Blondie. It's all you're gonna get." He would add as he came to a stop. That was the place. He fulfilled his end of the bargain. Though he wouldn't leave yet. As he said, he was quite curious as to who exactly was looking for his new acquaintance.
He gave the other a shrug as he once again told him he would fight alone, which was fine to him. It wasn't his fight anyway. "Well, since we're here you can start by explaining to me what a Murian is and why exactly you'd want to come to this god-forsaken place. Oh, oh. If you're from the future or something like that, no spoilers. There are already enough people toying with space-time as is, we really don't need to throw the Butterfly Effect on the pile as well."
As Nightshade and the mysterious stranger chat and wait, a mere block or so from them a commotion arises. However, for once it's not the sound of chaos and carnage, but of construction. Near the central area of Element City, a crew of Navis have gathered and are working on refreshing and restoring the data of the fallen city at a surprising rate; a rate that suggests that the job will be completed by nightfall. Among the Navis also stands another; a Navi with blue skin that's wearing what appears to be something of kin to black suit with blue protrusions on the shoulders, arms, and boots. The Navi is obviously in charge of the group of builders, and is not terribly far away, though oblivious to Nightshade and Burai's presence as he oversees the rebuilding.
Burai scoffed at Nightshade's short-sightedness, but was at least welcoming of the curiosity. The Murian culture is a rich and beautiful thing, that in his many years of life he had few reasons to share with others.
"Based on the fact that I can enter your time means that this is an alternate time line. A decision was made at some point in our histories that caused our world to separate into two different ones - one with that decision made, and one without. I come from a place that is in the same year as yours, but my world looks very different.
"A Murian is what I am - a biologically immortal human from an ancient, but highly advanced civilization. Feared for our power, we were hunted to a number, and in our last days of desperation, our people slaughtered one another to maintain their safety. The history can get much deeper than that, but, the true secrets of the Murian culture are unlocked by those that know the history - therefore, I cannot share it in full with another."
Burai turned from where he stood to look at the construction work, noticing the one with the blue armor that acted as the leader. He looked very similar to another being that Burai knew, but knew that this similarity was pure chance. He felt himself acclimating tot he world around him with each second, finding it easier to stand about without constantly focusing on it, but still felt slightly like a toddler finding his bearings. Just existing here was a struggle; to fight on such terms was going to be an interesting situation, but, if nothing else, it would also make the fight more difficult for his foes.
If all went well, there shouldn't be much of that going on today. He should still be able to hold his own well enough.
Grom saw it all with a mix feeling of bemusement and disappointment. So they were fixing up the city now? What a waste of effort he thought. At the very least they may as well do it after the situation at large was taken care of. Was it to show that they could continue to perservere no matter how bad things became? Different strokes for different folks. Electopia would handle this how they saw fit while they would do the same. If nothing else they at least were getting to work in a timely fashion, likely a result of having to do this so many times now. Either way he imagined this wouldn't be quite so peaceful for much longer, work and all. It wasn't difficult to know when their mark had arrived simply by keeping track of the one who kept running about everywhere with a mark tied to him, so that was at least easy on the required leg work. And just as expected, there was another new face involved now. Well, may as well entertain the civil approach first. He'd expect one of the two to be long gone before this escalated if given the chance anyway.
"At least while history repeats itself, it continues to select different points for ground zero. You at least have had the courtesy to not take a city or more out on arrival in some fancy show of force, so I can at least offer the courtesy in return to ask what you're here for."
Approaching next to Grom was Feint, a face they'd both recognize from the scene earlier. She had nothing to add and figured Grom was better at the talking anwyay, given her track record.
Seeing Nightshade without the globe and recognizing the symbol on the new face's chest was enough for her to put two and two together, but she'd listened to what he had said prior and took an interest in knowing that he was human too. She'd give him the chance to respond to Grom, letting his answer add to her knowledge before she went on searching for more.
He felt their presence before he knew to look for them, another pair of individuals within range of his Isolation Zone. Glancing away from the construction work, he pointed his attention at the new comers, and immediately recognized one of the individuals from the previous encounter - the woman in the suit was all he knew her by.
Now, however, without the dimensional boundary hindering his sight, he knew her in a different way. The code surrounding her body melted away before his gaze, his eyes seeing directly through the sheen of data and piercing a glance at the human underneath it. Feint and Grom would both feel the effect of his stare, as though the very air was losing its warmth, but Feint, in particular, with his gaze directed at her, would find herself unconsciously creating a distance between herself and Grom, as if those eyes could inflict their lonely gaze upon anyone they glanced at.
There was a weight carried by those yellow eyes, turned purple by the visor worn over them, that almost made the palpable sensation of supreme and epitomic loneliness make sense.
"I had thought for a moment that perhaps technology had allowed for humans to walk as I do - but yours is incomplete. Your human body . . . it is not underneath the code, but, rather, supplementing it. It rests while you walk in their world." There was no judgment in his voice, just a statement of his understanding of her situation. It made sense, of course, that their side wouldn't have the technology to create a man-made Wave Conversion - if they did, they would've had to have accomplished it without the years of advancements his side had made.
Creating a wave conversion is still blasphemy in his eyes, of course, so, perhaps this was another thing that made this side of the timeline more profitable. He turned his attention, then, to Grom, who would feel that Isolation Wave now pointed at him. "I've come to your world in search of artifacts that are no longer present in mine. Based on what I know of the histories, there should be enough congruencies for me to find what I am looking for, but, the differences in technology will require me to return to this 'Net,' as you call it, to attune to the items that I search after.
"There is also a being in your timeline that, if I am patient, should eventually make his way here. When he arrives, I plan to delete him. He also bears something that I need. In the simplest of terms, there is a single entity I wish to destroy, and a collection of five artifacts I wish to collect. All of these tasks will require trips into both the real world and the Net world, and, if it would meet your fancy, I would even welcome a chaperone to ensure I was of no immediate worry."
That was quite the gaze that this one had for certain. And one that betrayed no illusions that they did not stand all on their own. What a curious individual that they happened upon here. He would admit that he was starting to get too accustomed to dealing with less than understanding individuals. So for this one to be compliant so directly without all the excuses he kept hearing from the others these days was rather refreshing in actuality. Was it so difficult to be sensible these days? It shouldn't be and yet one would be led to believe it if their only interactions happened to be a certain bit of jelly paired with a cat. In a way he understood how Feint felt when she went in expecting one thing and getting another.
"Relic hunting and a single execution, huh?"
Artifacts in their world that no longer existed in his, huh... from shared histories? He wasn't a genius by any stretch of the term, but there were a number of factors that could play into this. But largely above those was the potential behind the encounter. He imagined there were plenty of others that would want in on this all for their own reasons, but he got to it first. In that regard it was better to learn from it and utilize it properly, in the event that it became a necessity. And to also ensure that he continued doing his job as well. He could see the potential risks involved in this as well if this either went sideways or if someone with less than magnamious purposes got the upper hand. In that case his course of action was simple enough.
"I'm willing to take you up on your offer. With the information you can provide and having a chaperone to alleviate any concerns that could arise from leaving you to your own devices, sharing information to better understand the overall situation is mutually beneficial."
Feint still said nothing as her superior continued handling the situation; the contrast in her attitude being impossibly evident compared to how she'd behave when left to her own devices. It showed her sense of loyalty, but also showed an immaturity about her -- a deep desire not to overstep somebody that she respected, just it was very difficult to acquire that role to her subconscious, and just as easily to lose if not handled right.
" ... "
While Burai didn't sound judgemental, there was definitely an implication that he was able to do what she did, just better. The alternate timeline talk was a bit more than she would blindly accept, but she knew how to test its validity now if the need ever arose.
The loneliness in his stare wasn't foreign to her, but it'd betray its own namesake if she could say she reflected it completely. In terms of his goals: she wasn't concerned with what he was doing if it didn't involve Netopia's safety, and Grom didn't seem to mind either. A chaperon was an unlikely offer for someone with a loner's vibe, but even she could admit that it wasn't out of place in the pursuit of gained trust. Her neutral stance on the matter remained: he knew how to make his intentions sound honest, and she had no reason to look past that or even question it for now.
The two paired before him obviously did not understand much of what he was saying, and seemed skeptical about his assertion of alternative timelines, but, he knew what he was saying was true. That was all that mattered. While true he disdained the idea of having someone follow him around, he accepted it as a necessary discomfort to make his mission somewhat easier. The addition of someone else was twofold, of course - not only to keep the authorities complacent, but it would also allow him someone who knew the area better. The world couldn't be that much different, but, his side included entire islands and countries completely constructed out of Matter Waves.
"I will also give you the courtesy of warning you that the real world locations I hunt after may not be the single most welcoming or safe to those unprepared, and I have no intentions of going out of my way to protect your chaperone, or even to make sure they keep up with me. I will move at my own pace, and I will leave it to whoever you send with me to keep up. A self-sufficient agent on both sides will be necessary, as I also suspect my presence is attracting the attention of some of the more powerful entities on your side," he explained further, turning for a moment to consider the uncharacteristically silent Nightshade.
"I don't protect anyone, and I don't need any of you to protect me. The limits of our arrangement is simply that I will concede to being monitored and observed. If information needs to be shared for the purposes of the situation, I will share it, but much of what I know on your side would be best left unsaid until the issue arose. I doubt any knowledge from my side other than the entity I expect will eventually arrive here would be useful, due to the differences in technology.
"I will tell you this, though," he went further, suddenly turning the tone of his voice. The fire on his wrist, the intensity of his stare, and the Isolation Zone he radiated became so much stronger in an instant, it became difficult to even look in his direction, much less want to be talking with him. "Become an obstacle for my mission, and I swear by the pride of my blood I will obliterate everything you hold dear, for that is what you would be keeping me from."
"Wow. This got real all of a sudden." Nightshade quipped from his position high up on a ruined building's balcony. He was part cat after all, there should be no surprise he'd listen to the whole exchange from a high up place.
"Honestly speaking, this went better than I expected. I thought you people would be tearing eachother a new one by now. You know, like all the movies where aliens come to Earth." He would add as he stopped dangling his feet paws over the edge and slipped off his perch, only to gracefully land a few steps besides Burai without making a sound. The Murian was good with the shadowy things, but he too could tango a little on his own when it came to stealth. Once again, there was that fuzzy feeling Nightshade could percieve creating some interference with his buggy code but couldn't quite understand. The feeling was unpleasant enough as to make him not want to walk any closer to Burai though he still had to understand if this was because the guy was an alien or just another of his abilities.
"So, five artifacts out there in the material world. Are we sure they even exist? Can you like...feel them or something? You did say this timeline we are in is the result of a decision about something not happening just a moment ago. Wouldn't that also affect the things you're looking for? Also yeah for the record I am quite sure that gathering artifacts together would for sure make Forte's job at tracking you that much easier."
Feint spoke up now, not wanting to let the cat-navi inadvertantly foil her once again. That, and spewing out a certain person's name has literally gotten people killed in the past -- it was a mercy that it hadn't happened to him yet, but she wasn't going to be around when it actually did.
She turned her attention back to Burai, having opened her mouth already and having no need to keep it shut anymore.
" If you want someone with access to both sides, I'm your best bet. "
There were two others she knew of, but they'd be much more flakey about the unknowns in this situation. Out in the world, there were probably even a few more out there that fit the bill, but in the present moment they weren't here.
She turned to Grom now, still respecting his authority despite taking a bit of charge just now.
" Sir -- "
-- deliberately carful not to use his name here --
" -- permission to monitor the stranger. I shouldn't have a hard time keeping up with where ever he wants to go, and I'll make it known if our intentions end up no longer being in alignment. "
She didn't like the idea of NIA losing track of him, and she'd be lying if there wasn't an additional interest in what he had mentioned earlier about the technology she used. Grom already showed interest in giving him a chaperone, so what was left was just picking one at this point, a task she presented herself as being eager enough to do given the scene.
He listened intently to what Burai had to say, though he couldn't help but chuckle a bit at Nightshade. While it was more irritating than it ever was amusing, he did enjoy finding out how much common sense the cat was lacking. But it was of little importance in the face of the bigger picture. For now was ascertaining and taking care of everything with the stranger.
"I don't exactly have blood, but I do possess a similar outlook and extend the same courtesy. I won't allow obstructions to my mission. If you fail your mission on your own, that's fine as well as long as you do so after telling us about the unknown entity."
His job was and always would be the same. It was why he eliminated the ones who would remain as obstacles to it. It was why there were ones still here that he would take care so they didn't endanger his purpose once again. That was why he served as the commander of the NIA instead of anyone else. As for who would best serve as the chaperone, she already had spoken up on the matter herself, looking to address her next.
"Permission granted. I'll be looking forward to hearing of favorable results."
This would have it all taken care of. Which would leave finding out what was at the end of this thread of events. So things would be wrapping up here and he would be able to return with everything in a non-compromising position.
Burai looked back up at where Nightshade had apparently found himself atop a building, scoffing at his comment. In a world where unnecessary combat, especially when neither side knew what the other was capable of, could lead to permanent destruction, there was no need to enter any confrontation with a show of force such as that. He was not here on a mission to show his power, or to subjugate those that were here. He was here for what he claimed to do, and intended to do just that.
The power he carried with him was only a safeguard for the powerful forces he believed would very likely stand against him, and the adversary that he expected to be arriving at almost any moment.
"I do know where the artifacts are," Burai answered Nightshade's question, simply, knowing that the longer answer may be a bit confusing. The timeline split only occurred 500 years ago, based on the records, and what he was seeking after are thousands of years old. They would still be in there resting places, he was sure.
Hearing the leader's response was an interesting courtesy extended. It made him smirk at the thought - which would be able to hold to their promise? Who would have the strength necessary to support their mission? It was a question he pitted against his rival so very often, and every time, their strength canceled each other out. He turned his gaze to stare once again at the human that would be accompanying him both ways, seeing both the suit of data she wore and the human form underneath it.
"I will say once again, it is for the best that I do not mention anything to do with the unknown entity. I am sure you are aware of the power that names have," he said, turning his attention back to the leader whose name he still did not know. "knowledge of his coming is sufficient. I will know when he is here. You will not mind that I wish to delete him. That is all you need to know for now."
He didn't want to start a panic, so, this was the best course of action to take. However, he did need one more thing from this arrangement, and it was going to perhaps be the most difficult to provide.
"I also have one final request. I need a sparring partner; one of sufficient strength and skill, to match against mine. I need to learn the limitations of my abilities while in your world quickly, and how to supplement what I have lost due to the change in technology as efficiently as possible. I wish to be well prepared to defend myself on return trips to the Net, as well as being as prepared as I must should I need to face the unknown in the Net instead of on their home field. I do not wish to be still learning how to walk, run, and properly interact with your world when I am trying to fight."
This was a dangerous game, as this put it very evidently that he was in a weak position right now. If these individuals wanted to use that against him, he would not be in his most preferred fighting position. He was quick to learn, though, and they would need to be very skilled to take advantage of his own mistakes. He also had more than enough power at his disposal - he couldn't quite get a sense of the leader figure, but, at least comparing what he could read of Nightshade and the human woman, he knew he far outmatched the both of them. Already he could detect that much of their power difference, and he was figuring more out with each passing moment.
Feint stood silent at the offer, but then steped forward to accept it.
" I might as well do that too, though I'd prefer we take it somewhere else. "
It'd be a bit easy for anyone to just intervene here; a secluded network was better to avoid interruptions. It reinforced the trust factor as well -- neither of them able to receive sudden, outside help was off the table too, so there couldn't be any dirty play at hand.