A day after the end
Steve tended to the camp fire he had set up in the woods, making sure to keep the smoke rising so that witch could find her way. He had hoped the smoke didn't alert any unwanted intrusion, especially from the military, but it ultimately wouldn't be anything more then a nuisance. After all, what could those mortals do? He had regretted not taking any of his servants with him. Life is much easier when you don't even have to lift a finger. His animosity towards his Animus kin only grew the more he thought about how they stuck him on this job. That hag's little pet... "Oi."
A familiar voice rose softly over the sound of the fire. The familiar form of Yui Tachibana had appeared from the woods, her approach almost completely silent. Her usual outfit came with the addition of a pair of jet-black sunglasses, which she quickly removed. A dark suitcase hung at her side."Am I interrupting anything?"
The PHANTOM agent asked, looking at Steve with a genuine sense of curiosity.
Smoke signals--really, it might have been more discreet to shine the Bat-Signal into the sky. Not that Ravenna really had a reason to question anything about it. Expecting her benefactors to keep their heads in the current trends was probably too much. The medium hummed to herself softly as she ambled through the woods, images with too many unspoken words buried into each detail guiding her path. Somewhat.
Dear little Lyra was probably making it a point to take the barista on the scenic route.'Lyra, dear, I do have to meet Steve eventually.'
Another flicker of an image. Annoyance. Impatience. Disapproval.
Lyra still cut to the chase, bringing her partner to the appointed destination. One that was occupied by two familiar faces instead of one. Amusing, perhaps. Ravenna flashed her usual smile at both, as though meeting acquaintances at the market instead of in the middle of the woods. "My, my... I didn't expect a reunion so soon, dears."
Lie. "And to what do I owe this pleasure?"
Steve had been dressed in an old-fashioned suit that looked like it came from the 19th century, a tail coat with a black vest and white cotton shirt. Not the proper place to be wearing such clothes, nor was it a modern trend. His hair was slick back, and after he was annoyed by an unwelcome guest, he fetched in his tailcoat pocket for a cigarrete. He'd light it with the tip of his thumb, before placing the smoke in his mouth. He leaned back on the log he sat on with his left leg crossed over his right. "Well this meeting was for Animus only."
He grumbled towards Yui, before he turned his attention to Ravenna's Arrival. Right on time at the very least. "But I suppose it wouldn't hurt to have you stay. I am sure the both of you are aware of the sudden...emergence of rogue spirit-wielding activity that spiked along with that raid we pulled.""Perhaps it wouldn't have spiked if you hadn't needlessly attacked so many civilians."
Yui said with a glare. "A life in danger is a great opportunity for any Shade looking to make a Pact."
While moments ago she was in a good enough mood to return Ravenna's smile, said raid was still a sobering subject for her. She took a deep breath and let go of her aggression; better to look towards the future, for now."Though I don't see why this "spike" has to be a bad thing,"
Yui said, turning her gaze towards the trees. "At least for PHANTOM. It could be quite the opportunity, if we play our cards right.""Hm... I can't say I appreciate competition as much as the next person."
The words were murmured under Ravenna's breath, the only hint of their contents left in the faintest fade of her default expression. A surreptitious glance drifted over toward Steve, quickly hidden behind a fluid transition to inspect her nails before she spoke for her audience of two. "Well... I certainly hope that I don't step on any of PHANTOM's toes then, dear. I'm afraid I'm not given much information to work with."
Ravenna wasn't entirely sure that was a lie."Though I suppose there aren't many cards little old me can play in this situation, yes?""We shouldn't have any trouble if you get them to defect to PHANTOM, but otherwise, they present an unknown variable in any further effort made here."
He said before turning his attention to Ravenna. "Given your location of business in this town, I had to come to inform you that you're expected to... investigate anyone that happens to be like you. Nothing sinister, yet anyway, but we need to find out what kind of people are making contracts, and if they will be an obstacle in the future. More urgent, however.."
He puffed his smoke, as he looked back between the two. "The titans we faced on the lake were the original guardians, but the removal of the orb and their destruction as left a rift between our worlds. Its expected that more spirits will enter this world through it periodically now. I suppose that would make it an ideal place for research among your PHANTOM folk, but there will be obvious potential for disaster here."
The man tapped out his smoke, as he smirked over to the witch's pet. "Of course, if you were working for me I'd make sure you'd have a safe place to run your business." "We know,"
Yui said with a nod. "My friend has been very interested in the lake since we received the key. She's been making me gather samples."
She gestured to the suitcase at her side."These Spirits, though..."
She continued, staring into the distance with a thoughtful frown. "Who are they, exactly? Those who were banished after the first Pact? Are you hoping to recruit them to ANIMUS?""Many of them are, I presume, however much of them are simple minded or feral. Some can be recruited, but many of them will just get in the way. With our little girl scout here, hopefully she can pick out which ones want to talk and which ones want to bite." "Hm, such high praises. I'm sure I don't deserve them,"
Ravenna said. Part of her came to life at the thought of the assignment, a part that she wasn't comfortable with quite yet. So many years chasing it, and now she didn't quite know what to do with it. Fill? Bury? Flood? An airy laugh escaped her. "I'll be certain to leave some honey out for the flies then, though I'm quite certain that even I will reach maximum occupancy."
At least, that would have been the ideal."Though perhaps PHANTOM might be interested in any spirits that I can turn to a fresh recruit?""Perhaps,"
Yui said with a nod. "Any Spirit that might share our vision is of great value to our cause. I think it would be greatly appreciated."
Of course, recruiting Spirits or Mediums was proving to be quite the ordeal, but perhaps that wasn't the best thing to say out loud."Of course, if we can't recruit them, then I humbly ask that you continue to allow me a share of the spoils."
Yui produced her most recent card seemingly from nowhere, the image of a large wand shimmering faintly in the light. "They have proved to be extremely... lucrative."
She wasn't sure if that was quite the right word, but she suspected it was close enough."Either way, unrecruited spirits on a feeding frenzy will prove to be an annoying obstacle. I'd like to emphasise that while we can recruit them, we aren't opposed to sending them back to where they came from. Ravenna, and I suppose you too since you seem to be hanging around, expect danger a bit more frequently here..."
He motioned, as he looked over to the empty treelines. "Course it ain't only other spirits we have to worry about, I think those mortals know something too; keeping their soldiers here and all.""Of course they do,"
Yui spat, letting out a weary laugh. "Not even one day passed by and the bastards already started rolling out plans to militarize the entire country. They knew something like this was going to happen and they knew exactly how to profit off of it. I think you should watch your backs; they're more of a threat than they seem.""Well, humans are known for putting their noses into business that they don't belong in, yes?"
Though it wasn't like Ravenna didn't understand. There were things that spirits were capable of that humanity simply wasn't. "I could always do a little more prodding if my dearest benefactor feels the need. That aside..."
Her smile grew. "Using my name now, dear? Such an honor on this little pawn."
Steve rolled his eyes at her. "Don't get too attached dear." He smirked. "Regardless, Yui, you are right. We have to be a bit more careful here."
He'd look over to the camp fire, as he smothered it with a boot. "We'll have to spy on them too. The last thing we need are spirit wielders joining their ranks."
Yui nodded."It's something I won't be able to help with."
She admitted, frowning. "I've had to do my best to lay low. Let me know if you ever get the chance to get more... confrontational with them, though.""I don't think subtlety is one of our fortes. I'm sure we'll tip you off if explosions don't,"
Ravenna chuckled. Though she had to be fair, there hadn't really been explosions in their last little tiff--just very large guardians and veritable monsters. The woman twisted a stray lock of hair around her finger as she leaned lightly against a tree. "Dear little Yilan and I can handle reconnaissance to an extent. So long as it doesn't lead unsavory types to my little cafe."
Steve nodded to the both of them. "Good then, well, thats all the info I had to share with you." He yawned as he stretched his arms. "All this travel just for that...""I'd best be on my way, then."
Yui said, giving a quick wave. "Take care, you two."
She put her sunglasses back on and slipped away into the woods."Well, she's an interesting one, isn't she?"
Ravenna hummed. "I wonder what we can expect from our dear allies in the future."
It might be interesting, after all. "Maybe you'd like to discuss it over some coffee, dear?"
He'd nod to Yui as she left, before turning back to Ravenna. He had an awful grin. "That sounds just lovely, 'dear'."
He mocked, as he put out the fire with his boot. "You'll have to cover my tab though."