Finding Munin


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Scene Title Finding Munin
Synopsis Cat gets her tarot reading.
Date October 1, 2009

Ichihara Bookstore's Back Lot

Under the yellowed glow of the back light, the paved lot is secluded from the rest of Roosevelt Island by buildings cornering it on four sides. Only a narrow alleyway between two red brick buildings directly across from the bookstore's back entrance gives it an outlet, and fire escapes bolted to all of the walls here aren't just an industrial addition to the old, plain brick buildings; creeping ivy has overgrown the entire back lot.

Growing up between spaces in the pavement and crawling between the brickwork, the ivy has wound its way around the fire escapes, up the walls and around the windows. Amidst this odd contrast of urban and verdant setting, the black iron garden furniture seems to blend in well. The chairs are made of the same wrought iron, four circling the table where an old oil lamp rests along with a box of matches and glass cylinders containing pillar candles that are arranged around the table.

On occasion, an old van is parked here in the middle of the lot.


It's the sound of a pastrami on rye with dijon mustard and provolone cheese landing on an iron table. The wrapper is loose, but the food inside still perfectly warm. Dark brows rise up as Hokuto Ichihara looks down at the sandwitch with a broad, hungry smile, arms folded across her chest. "I told you it wasn't that far of a walk," she notes with a nod of her head, threading one lock of dark hair behind her eat as she moves to stand behind her chair.

"So…" Those chocolate brown eyes drift from the food up to Cat, regarding the woman over her shoulder as she and Helena come in from the alley, back from their trip out to the sub shop, "If you're going to entertain this reading," she says with a Cheshire smile beneath the dimming glow of fleeting sunlight as evening approaches, "what is it you want to ask about?"

Helena is a growing girl, and she's hardpressed not to open her sandwich - almost exactly the same as Hokotu's, except it's corn beef instead of pastrami - and start noshing right there and then. Angst makes you hungry. She takes her seat, but this time to the side, letting Cat take the querent's chair and only then does she attack her food, munching while watching the other two women and momentarily displaying chipmunk cheeks.

So many things to ask about. Wheels turn behind Cat's eyes as they focus on Hokuto and study the face across an extended silence. Is this woman a precog? Is her ability something else? Did she lie to Magnes and have no ability? Is she in league with the Company? Will the Yankees win the World Series? Which Nathan is in the Oval Office? Where is Sparrow Redhouse?

As she settles into a seat and places her food off to one side, Cat knows she must narrow it down. "What are the main body of Volken's followers up to, and how can it be stopped?"

Blowing out something of a sigh, Hokuto tilts her head to the side and turns her chair around, sidding in it backwards as she rests her arms on the back, her chin down on her folded arms. "I— I'm not sure that's something I can really ask. I mean, it's a really specific question, and the cards are— well like I said, the card's aren't special at all, they just sort've help you sort out things you might already know, but haven't considered, or offer advice. Even Helena's question," she nods towards the blonde, "was a little difficult to put into words. That sort've thing, that's what you ask someone who already knows the answers. The cards— " she waves a hand at the stack, "they don't. They've only got what you bring to the table. Maybe… think of a better way to phrase it?"

"There's a lot of people who would fall under 'Volken's followers'." she says. "Are you talking about the Munin Project, Cat? You might ask something like…umm, what would be the best means of resolving the situation, or something along those lines."

Back to thought, acknowledging both Helena and Hokuto with nods, Cat speculates on another question to ask. "That was why I said the main body," she remarks quietly. "But that's an interesting path to follow." Then she studies Hokuto again. "You keep saying they're just cards. I take it your ability, if you have one, isn't precognition."

After another stretch of silence Cat regards Helena again. "We were told the one we know isn't the original Munin." Eyes shift to Hokuto. "How do I find the original Munin?"

"Now that," Hokuto nods to Cat, "is a question the cards can answer." But yet absolutely no answer comes to the question of her ability, or lack thereof, just a Cheshire smile that comes with a tilt of her head as she moves her sandwich aside and begins shuffling the deck. "Feel free to eat, I mean, the only reason I'm not is because I have to be able to talk." Her brows rise up as she regards Helena and her food, "It's the best — and I guess only — sandwich shop on the tiny island."

Once the cards are cut and shuffled, she slides them towards Cat. "Shuffle those however feels most natural to you, stack them back up and hand them back to me once you're done." More instructional than she was with Helena, but it wasn't the blonde's first time at that particular rodeo. "So… you think I have an ability?" She finally asks, one dark brow raised. "I guess it's a fifty-fifty chance these days."

"I think you do." Helena remarks, but in a peanut gallery sort of way. Now that the reading's begun, she's content to be quiet, and study the cards as they are revealed.

"I didn't know it was you," Cat replies as she takes the cards and shuffles them easily. It's an exercise of dexterity, a thing Cat has no shortage of. Maybe she could even be a Vegas dealer. While doing so, eyes remain on Hokuto's face and the story continues. "But I met someone who saw a tarot dealer with the RNA strand on her cards. He said he asked if you had an ability, you told him yes. Then I spoke with another, who mentioned this shop. Finally, I'm asked to come here by a third person, and discover we'd seen each other before. It's interesting how things connect. This happens again and again."

When she goes silent, her fingers still and place cards at the table's center.

"Oh?" Hkuto raises a brow and cracks a warm smile, "that's an interesting thing to say, but my mother's deck is somewhat unique in its design, even if the iconography is just Rider-Waite. I guess I do have an ability then," she adds with a playful smile, beginning to lay out the cards, but unlike with Helena's zig-zagging path, Hokuto only lays out three cards, all side by side. Her dark eyes lift up to Cat, one brow raised as if testing her considerations of the reading already.

"This is a simple spread for a somewhat complicated question — three fates. It examines the past, the present, and the future to give you insight into what is going on in the question you asked. Given how far back in time all of this seems to stretch, I figured it was appropriate." Leveling her hand over the far left card, Hokuto's eyes halfway lid and then lift as she regards Cat again.

"This card is the element of the past that plays most heavily into your search for the real Munin." She says the alias with some ironic inflection, "even if you aren't looking for either thought or memory, the influences of the past can often times weigh heavily on the decisions and actions of the present."

The card is turned over, revealing a very detailed and colorful image. A naked man and woman stand on opposite sides of the card, with an angel watching over them in the background, the angel being colored all the shades of the sun, with one shining behind its head like a halo. The Roman Numeral VI is printed at the top of the card, and The Lovers is printed below.

Curiously, Hokuto is silent when she sees the card, on ebrow raised as if trying to puzzle that out. "The past, the origins of your search for Munin and how to find the original, is tied to emotion rather than logic. Something in the past, your past specifically, a lover that influences you. But the card also represents that you must maintain spiritual and emotional control in the present, despite whatever this lover represents in your past. Doing so, keeping a clear, rational head will allow you to find what you seek."

"I'm untroubled with rationality," Cat replies in a neutral tone as the card laid before her is looked at. Past, present, and future. That fits with what Eve reportedly said about past being prologue. And the lover that influences her, this is not hard to settle on. The slain woman's birth anniversary was just the previous day.

Back to silence, her eyes and the simple fact of perceiving writing every detail into her memory, Cat awaits the turning of card two.

There's just one, succinct nod as Hokuto lays her hand over the next card. "The present," predictably. "This card will show in influences going on right now that you can start looking for an keeping an eye open to, influences that could possibly lead you towards uncovering the location of the original Munin." Her fingers slide beneath the card, deftly turning it over to reveal the image of a robed figure sitting in a boat, their identity concealed while an oarsman ferries the boat towards a distant island. Several swords — six in total — are thrust into the bow of the ferry. "Travel." Hokuto states rather quickly, as if she had half-expected this card, but it only merits her with some marked confusion afterwards. "Look for an opportunity to travel abroad, look for intelligence and information that leads you far away from where you currently are, and utilize that intelligence to seek out answers."

This also makes sense. The Munin project is Scandinavian, Kazimir and the others came from Europe, the stolen nuclear weapon is Russian. That the object of all this would be overseas fits. Is this precognition, Cat wonders, or does she simply have enough knowledge of the Vanguard to assign meanings to the card.

"Winters are mild in the south of France," Cat muses.

"I've never been," Hokuto laments with a shrug of one shoulder, "I've always wanted to travel abroad, never really been able to. My job before this kept me grounded to the city, and so did my family. I've never even been overseas to meet my distant relatives." There's a mild smile offered to that, as she reaches out towards the last card. "This is your future, the event you need to be aware of that is coming further away, this is what will show you the truth, this is the sign you need to be observant of to find what you're seeking. It could be literal, it could be figurative, like all the cards they have multiple interpretations, and mine are only a suggestion."

As she turns the card over, Hokuto reveals an image that Cat may have almost been expecting — a moon. Glowing bright at the top of the card marked with the Roman numeral XVIII, the card's artwork depicts two towards flanking the low hung moon, a river and a wolf howling up at the light in the sky. "The Moon," she intones with a notion of interest and curiosity. "This… says to watch out for what things appear on the surface. Deceptions that may work to your benefit or against you. Something that seems dangerous, but in truth is not. Something that seems safe, but is in actuality extremely lethal. The card also represents very dangerous situations in very dangerous times. When you are at your most threatened, when everything around you seems to be at its worst — that is where you will find what you are seeking."

It's all absorbed without any shift in her poker face. Much of it again makes sense. Dangerous times, dangerous situations, deceptions. Cat speculates again, internally, on what ability Hokuto might have. Precognition is possible. But there is another which a person who makes such readings might have, one very useful in making them relevant to the person she's conducting it for. No verbal speech is employed.

Instead Cat speaks to Hokuto mentally and calmly observes for signs of a reaction which might betray the presence of what she wonders about. Are you hearing me? Seeing what's in my head? What follows is calculated to shock. The perfectly recalled imagery of when she helped Abby stuff parts which had gotten out back inside a man's body so he could be healed.

The way in which Hokuto's focus immediately goes for her pastrami sandwich is indicative that she isn't finding revulsion in the innards of Allen Rickham's tortured memory slapped upside her face. Instead, she's finding warm rye bread and steaming meat with still gooey melted cheese hanging out the sides and just enough saurkraut on the bread to give it bite. "Ahhh, there is nothing, nothing better than this on a fall evening."

With the wrapper unfolded in her lap, Hokuto looks up to Helena, then over to Cat. "So… was that any help? Or— sometimes I'm kind've a miss with these things, and this wasn't a particularly easy question too. So… hopefully you pulled something away from it?" A sheepish, hesitant smile.

Two possibilities. Not a telepath, or very skilled at using it and not showing any reaction to what it brings her. Cat abandons that particular segment of memory, opting herself to take up the food. Roast beef and cheese with mayo and ketchup. Pepsi to drink.

"It was intriguing," she replies mildly. "There are directions to cast inquiries, to be certain." Sandwich is lifted, she bites into it carefully. Society manners apply.

Helena has been omnomnoming her sandwich, albeit quietly, throughout all of this, peering at the cards with interest. "It was helpful," she agrees, wiping at her mouth daintily. "And I'm sorry for flipping out at you, Hokuto." She still looks a little bleak about the reading, but for the moment melted provolone is a minor distraction from her troubles. "I have to ask, though…you said something about a diary? Francois Allegre's diary? Who did you give it to?" Gabriel, she wonders? Abby, perhaps?

Biting down on her lower lip, Hokuto considers Helena's words more carefully than she does her food, pulling up half the sandwich and just taking a huge bite out of it with about as much manners as a truck stop attendant. With a little horseradish on her lips, she lowers the sandwich half and wipes at her lips with her thumb, cleaning it off on the wrapper as she looks around for where she left the napkins — failing to realize she never got any. "Oh ah— " she swallows, realizing that was terribly rude, "A girl, Eileen." She figures no last name is safe enough, anonymous enough, or at least polite enough.

"A good friend of mine named Abigail came in after the fact with her… husband?" One dark brow raises uncertainly, "Boyfriend at least. But they seemed like a married couple. I ah— they should've been the ones I gave it to, and I told them to track down Eileen. They seemed to know her."

Her food is placed on the table and the cola lifted while she listens to Helena's question, then Hokuto's answer. "If that was the Abigail I'm thinking of, I doubt there was a husband. She's something of a nun, the eternal virgin." Cat takes a brief drink, seeming to think a bit more while doing so, before turning towards Helena. "I believe you recognize potential symbolism in some of what she says about these three cards as well as I do."

Helena snorts. "Cat, she's not nearly as removed from the idea of men as you think she is." Helena shakes her head, which then transforms into a nod. "Yeah, but I've never quite been as connected to the Munin problem as you…it's been a little more difficult to wrap my brain around."

"I think you'll figure it out…" Hokuto affirms quietly, "these things— they have a way of working themselves out when you least expect it." A hesitant smile is offered, but dark eyes wander towards Helena with an uncertain scrutiny. She's looking for something in her expression, watching Helena the way someone does when they're trying to assess body language, but it's fleeting. "Her friend's name was Flint, and— I know them both pretty well. Or— well enough at least. I try not to pry into their relationship more than they ask me to." That's something, unusual.

"My mother had a saying…" Hokuto suddenly saysm rubbing her forefingers and thumb together to try and work some of the grease from her food off. "That 'Everything arrives in its own time.'" There's a quirk of her head to the side at that, "She used to say if you sleep on it, deliberating from a larger problem, you might find the answer. I've — more often than not — found her right."

One of her napkins is handed over to Hokuto without comment as Cat's eyes remain on Helena. It isn't much of a reaction, just the lifting of a brunette brow in that Spockesque way which perhaps says 'Abby got married. Huh.' To Flint? They do have a bond. Former host of a kami and current. Weirder things have happened.

Moments later, back to Hokuto. "Confidence is often the largest part of things."

Helena shrugs a little bit. She knows what she saw in the future, and she knows what she's heard recently. Her body language is perhaps a bit at odds - she's still tense, and there are tell-tale signs of unhappiness, but they appear fairly compartmentalized, her casual air pushed onto her by her own effort. "Listen, Hokuto. Aren't you worried at all? I mean about Humanis First giving you problems? I was worried in the first place after the attack, but you seem really laid back about some things most New Yorkers would flip out about."

"Like I said before," Hokuto responds with a roll of one shoulder, "if my time comes, my time comes. But I like to think that— given the life I've led and the things that happen in this world, I don't have a lot to worry about. I'm just one small bookseller in a tiny backwater neighborhood crammed between Queens and Manhattan. I'm nothing special," she notes with a quirk of her head to the side, "so I don't think they'd have to worry about me."

"If I don't stick my neck out, if I'm not outspoken, if I don't make myself a target?" Hokuto doesn't answer her own question, the answer is obvious and the question rhetorical at any rate. She just shrugs again, taking the offered napkin to wipe at her mouth. "I just go with the flow."

She's silent again, her eyes seeming to have gone distant. If they're focused on anything it's the wall in her line of sight. Cat lets memories play out from the days just before their joint abduction by Ethan and Odessa, searching for things which might shed light on the Munin question.

Helena gives a delicate shrug. "Humanis First doesn't wait for people to stick their necks out, they act as they see fit." But Helena isn't Hokuto's mother, and there's a line between concern from someone and being too invasive. "I just want to make sure you're okay." Helena says in brief earnest, and doesn't push it beyond that point. "At least you got some of my kick ass lemon bars out of this whole thing!" Always look on the bright side of life! "I'd tell you the secret, but my mom would roll out of her grave and whack me upside the head."

There's something of a mild smile offered for Helena's consolations, Hokuto's eyes peering back through the door into the shop in consideration of the snacks awaiting her, then back to Helena again. "They don't?" Her dark hair spills down from behind one ear, framing the side of her face. "You should consider that, sometime. The targets, who they've gone after and why. Sometimes things are a whole lot simpler than what it seems like on the surface… at least by law of odds."

Wrapping the other half of her sandwich up in the paper, Hokuto looks ready to save it for later. "I don't know much about them— about Humanis First— but if I were in the business of figuring them out, I'd exhaust all options. Because really— they're the closest thing to a clear cut enemy anyone could find. And there is that saying about the enemy of my enemy and all that."

A knowing smile flashes across Hokuto lips, even if it doesn't quite reach her eyes. She looks, and has looked since the walk back from the store, exhausted. Only now when the sunlight has faded and the back light comes on, are the dark circles around her eyes evident. She clearly isn't getting enough sleep. "It's getting late…" she admits quietly. "I hate to be a bad hostess, but— I haven't been feeling entirely well the last few days. I've had— bad sleep."

"No, no." Helena says, rising and giving Cat a tilt of her head, come on, let's boogie!. "You look like you really need to hit your pillow. Thank you for the readings." Helena says, and starts to dig into her pocket, fishing out a two crumpled twenties.

Pale fingers pinch one of the twenties. "Ten dollars per reading, and I'm only charging you for one since you brought snacks." There's a flash of a smile across Hokuto's face as she folds the single bill up in her hand. "Give the other one to someone else, it might serve you well to treat a friend out to drinks?" Her shoulders rise and fall in a gentle shrug, one hand moving out to rest on Cat's shoulder with a gentle shake. "You look like you could use some rest too… what with that thousand yard stare of yours."

Being touched draws her out of whatever she was doing. "I meditate sometimes," she remarks by way of cover. Cat takes up her food and rises, looking subdued as compared to poker-faced like she had been. "Thank you, Hokuto, for your time," she offers.

Feet then carry her away, she remarks quietly to Helena "Abby got married to Flint? Wow. Never saw that one coming." A ghost of a smile shows for mere moments.

After it's faded the subdued semblance returns. "Yesterday was to be her twenty-seventh birthday."

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