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[12:51] <Ai> >Soejima 5 Dorm Lobby.
[12:54] * Ai had been particularly bored and antsy, and she had … seemed to feel that all of the others were either out, or at least not likely to go downstairs. So it was, that after she picked up her dinner plate, Ai decided to just… set up her computer in the lobby, pulling the table closer to her seat and starting to play. …She had her phone's earbuds on, and was trying to focus on what she was doing… Some kind of JRPG,
[12:54] * Ai Super Famicom (SNES) vintage, was displayed fairly large on the screen, with a bit of antialiasing to make such zoom more tolerable. The way she tapped away at the keyboard whenever her turn came up in battle, or to dodge enemies on the dungeon map… She was clearly in a gaming trance.
[12:55] <Ai> …The screen, however, was visible from the entryway.
[13:05] <Dinah> The walk home from school had been subject to a few detours. The start of the week was always the hardest, the freedom of the weekend - relative to what they had anyway - was gone and the adjustment period always took a couple days. And then by that point, you were mostly just looking forward to the weekend again. She'd only had one cigarette during her walk through the park that JC
[13:05] <Dinah> had introduced her to and since it was on the way back, she figured she might as well head that way. Well, it was on the way back the way she'd gone. It probably wasn't very efficient. But wandering was good for her.-
[13:08] <Dinah> Still, she eventually found herself in front of the door to the dorm and the question of staying outside to smoke again versus just going to her room entered her mind. Debating it for a time, she erred on the side of the latter, though when she stepped inside, something else caught her eye instead. The screen of Ai's laptop, for as far away as it was, had a game she was very familiar
[13:08] <Dinah> with on it. Lifting a brow, she made her way over to the sight, leaning forward to look over the back of Ai's seat and get a closer look. She was silent, simply watching, though this close her presence was fairly undeniable - she didn't /stink/ of cigarettes but there was the scent of it there, masked by whatever semi-flowery spray she'd grabbed for just that reason.
[13:14] <Ai> … …It…
[13:16] <Ai> It actually took a full five seconds for Ai to notice Dinah was there, even with ~eau de fleur~ all up ins. …But when she did? She suddenly jumped a good few inches in the chair, her earbuds falling out and a finger immediately jabbing … whatever on the keyboard had been assigned to pause. "D-D-Dinah?! You… EVERYONE w… was out righ-" Beat. "…People can end up coming home, right." Slow, slow pause. "W… Were you interested or something…?"
[13:23] <Dinah> Dinah considered there would be some sort of reaction like that from Ai, considering how jumpy she was normally, though knowing wasn't preparing and even preparing wouldn't do much in the face of the reaction she gave. Jumping away from the chair herself, her expression cycled through a few different ones - surprise, annoyance and then just something along the lines of 'tired' that
[13:23] <Dinah> moved to a more neutral look - as she re-centered herself. "Yeah. I just got back. Just kinda…wandered around 'tween here and the school."-
[13:24] <Dinah> Sniffing, she nodded and moved back to where she'd been standing before, looking down at the screen. "Been a while since I played that one. Just brought back some memories when I saw it." She thumbed back to the doorway, noting that it was pretty obvious from there even.
[13:27] <Ai> "…" Ai did look at the doorway. "Shimatta, I didn't think of that…" But leaned back into the chair. "It's pretty late in the sufami… Super Nintendo…? Release cycle, but. I. I know I've read it's supposed to be a classic there too." She noted, wiggling her fingers. "…Emulation's all this thing can handle that isn't some small independent thing."
[13:32] <Dinah> "Can't imagine how it wouldn't be a classic anywhere. It's a really good game." She sniffed again and leaned more on the back of the chair, getting somewhat comfortable, or at least as comfortable as you could be when you were hunched over a chair. "Better than anything I've got. I've tried the phone emulators and they just suck. I wanna get myself a console or something here
[13:32] <Dinah> eventually. When I scrape together enough spending money, anyway."
[13:38] <Ai> "About that…" Ai began. "Shizeng actually told me about a game store some friend of his runs, and that I could get ahold of an older console." She frowned. "I mean with the modern stuff being in the hundreds-k (yen, obviously) range it's a bit beyond what we could manage from… …" She paused. "Mou, is there even anywhere else here hiring part-timers that isn't that damn messy music store?"
[13:45] <Dinah> Rubbing her chin, Dinah thought about that for a moment and eventually shook her head. "Not that I can think of. That place is a damn headache." She was still a little grumbly about losing out on pay because of Asaka but that was neither here nor there. "Still, that's cool. I was just gonna see if Wally'd run across one. He's got a little side business, repairing stuff. If I send
[13:45] <Dinah> him business, he gives me some discounts."
[13:47] <Ai> "I see, I see. But I don't think so. Old gaming systems are probably not as big a deal in smallerish towns like this?" She briefly daydreamed. "…Leaving Tokyo meant giving up on so much shopping opportunity, but… It wasn't my money anyway…" But soon Ai sighed again. "But uh. We could try to find more two-player games? …A-as much as the really old ones were mostly alternating…"
[13:56] <Dinah> "That's true. Might be too much of a stretch to expect. Still, he knows to keep his eyes open for one." Shrugging, the proposal of playing with her came up, leading Dinah to look away for a moment, clearing her throat. "No. No, it's alright. I'll just watch, if that's okay."
[13:57] * Ai blinked. "…Uhm. Okay? I just thought if … well I mean for RPGs it'd be kinda bad anyway…"
[14:01] <Dinah> "I get a little…into it, when I play against someone else." She cleared her throat, still not looking back, though her gaze did eventually drift back. "I might've given my little brother a black eye once."
[14:14] <Ai> "…" Ai looked down for a few seconds. "Oh. Th. That makes more sense then. Competitive. …" She thought. "M-most of my competitions aren't …l-like that?" A nervous smile. "I've been trying to break into speedrunning for a while but I'm not good enough yet."
[14:21] <Dinah> "In my defense, he was being a shit." Adjusting her posture somewhat, she eventually stood and moved to scoot one of the other chairs closer to hers, sitting down in it. "But yeah. It's probably just better if I watch. Speedrunning is pretty fun to watch. That's…kinda the whole point, really."
[14:23] <Ai> "I wish I could play the buggier games and execute glitches better, o-on that note." She noted. "…Mn. RNG manipulation is… usually the tech I need to learn so far." But she then nodded. "Y-you're right though. Like. Th-there's a beauty in just breaking the rules in ways that look insane, that are so crazy, an-and you're like 'screw you, physics, I do what I want'! It's so coooolll."
[14:32] <Dinah> "Yeah. I watched one, it was like, ten minutes to break one of these games. Didn't have to collect anything, just glitching through all the walls and shit. It was insane. I dunno, though, I wouldn't wanna try to do it, just watch. What makes you wanna do it?"
[14:39] * Ai said it with almost brutal simplicity. "Power." But she let that word hang. "…It's. Not the kind of power a guy like Asaka wants. …To just be … cool. In a way where you just… reject boundaries, do the impossible, and then know that someone recognizes what you did, and is amazed." She sort of, managed to say. Managed, because it was as if Ai was shuffling between nerves and welling pride. "S-so for me it's like
[14:39] * Ai having gotten the Persona and powers and stuff. I can do things now, that nobody but other Persona-users can." -
[14:40] <Ai> "If the world, the Sea - if human consciousness - was a video game." Ai finished with. "Then we're the people that can glitch through the walls and go where nobody can and still win without doing anything they have to."
[14:57] <Dinah> "Huh. Well, if anyone can get that, it's me." She rolled her shoulders as she leaned back in her chair, propping her feet up. 'Power' definitely did seem to be a Dinah thing, no matter what the form. Holding up a hand, she let a small flicker of fire roll around her fingers with a nod. "I guess I see what you mean. This whole thing must be kind of a dream come true for you, then,
[14:57] <Dinah> huh?"
[15:00] <Ai> "Yes and no? …Mostly yes." Ai nodded her head… and when Dinah let the fire light, she bowed her head. ["It's beyond anything I've known."] she said just once telepathically, before continuing in words. "…But it's still hard. Hard questions, hard practice, risking our lives. B-but. I'd be nobody and weak if I didn't take those risks with this power, s… so." She was starting to clench one of her fists. "Yeah. Pretty much. I
[15:00] <Ai> mean, you don't clip through walls without getting hella practice with the inputs. Why would real superpowers be any different?"
[15:18] <Dinah> Throwing the little fireball up, she 'caught' it with her hand as it came back down, only for her to open her hand and reveal it to be gone. "It's rough, yeah. But it's worth it. The stuff we get to do is wild. I kinda hate all the bullshit around it but I remember taking down those Mothmen when I first got it. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I actually got to control
[15:18] <Dinah> something."-
[15:20] <Dinah> Her own hand balled into a fist as well, with her gaze stuck on it for a long few moments, opening then and leaving her to sigh somewhat and look back to the laptop screen. "So…what game do you have the most practice in?"
[15:25] <Ai> "Y… yes!" Ai burst out with. "Exactly! C-control after so long without…" But then she just, stopped, mostly to instead move to the question. "…Dragon Quest 3. Which is really really optimal. I'm trying to figure out more action games I can do well in, b-but I already have the RNG manipulation a bit down."
[15:55] <Dinah> They all had a lot of issues, it seemed, and the fact that they could agree on some of those problems was probably a bad thing. But right now, it served to help bring the two of them a little closer. The two who couldn't be more different on the surface, it seemed. But that wasn't the only thing bringing them together, as evidenced. "Fair enough. You more lookin' to try games people
[15:55] <Dinah> do a lot or some of the ones that others don't really touch?"
[15:58] * Ai tilted her head left… then right. "Gotta be middleground. Something that gets recognized. The English-speaking side has enough special features going on for bad or obscure games, but… most anything decent has a community. Still…" She stared at her computer a bit. "Maybe if I could run more things…"
[16:09] <Dinah> "Makes sense." With a nod as she mentioned running more things, she shrugged again, gesturing to the laptop. "You'll get something better eventually. But hey, like you said, you gotta practice. So at least you got something to do that with."
[16:11] <Ai> "I do, I do…!" She said. "…I hope I can make something really cool to post that you'll watch and I can do all the commentary over and… s-stuff." She said, starting to flush brightly. "… …It's so weird to be scared of people I live with, and the dorm is so small that I can't just dismiss it. Th. This makes me happy, Dinah…"
[16:20] <Dinah> "You do it and I'll watch. Promise." Giving her a light smile, she chuckled a little at the last part, her normal, slightly sour expression returning. "I'd tell ya that you don't have to worry about me but…well, that'd be kind of a lie. I ain't gunnin' for you or nothin' at least, but I've already hauled off and punched Adrien once. And got close to it a dozen more times. Ain't
[16:20] <Dinah> like I never knocked a friend around a bit."
[16:22] <Ai> "Ain't like." Ai 'repeated', trying to basically agree in the same time. "…I'm still trying to get him to chill the hell out. …And me to, f-for that matter. We'll see. If not, well. He'll be … schooled in hard knocking up."
[17:08] <Dinah> "Yeah. I'll be happy to punch Adrien as many times as I need to." Cracking her knuckles, she looked back to Ai, a little more directly. "You actually get along with him?"
[17:12] * Ai nodded. "Yes and no. …He teases me, messes with me, but…" She … shook her head. "We first met on the first day of school. He was really ~familiar~ with me, doing that thing. I… had already had people greet me 'cause they read the book and I forgot to, so I got that… but. When he got weird? I actually lectured him and 'made him' let me start trying to train him out of that stuff in exchange for joining his 'conspiracy'. …Shizeng and
[17:12] * Ai company trying to get rid of Asaka." Ai explained. "That's why I keep talking like a teacher at him? A-and. He's annoying and tries to gaslight people into liking him, but. …It." She … looked down for a moment, rather than at Dinah. "It almost seems like it's working? Just last week I ran into him on the streets and he pointed out all the cool places in town I could take a date to, after we did a bit of stupid banter. …And gave me some
[17:12] * Ai money to afford it."
[17:23] <Dinah> "Oh, he did the thing where he walked up to you and talked to you like you were best friends? He tried that with Sachiko an' me. We weren't havin' it. One of the times I almost punched him." In reality, most of the situations where they were close were the times she almost punched him. That…was just how it was, really. "As long as you're making progress. Forgive me if I don't
[17:23] <Dinah> believe it 'til I see it."
[17:27] <Ai> "It's slow, and harder to see with him and you." Beat. "Probably because, yanno, punching. He's a tease, gadfly, all that. …" Ai then stopped, again, because she was blushing brighter. "I. I think my whole 'cuteness' thing made him decide, after I yelled at him enough, to … p-pick a different kind of teasing or something. Roy's doing it too but I'm more scared to talk to him." She siiighed. "Being the only not-Adrien with telepathy at least means I
[17:27] <Ai> can argue with Roy when he thinks he's being clever with his 'only I hear it as not a meow' thing."
[17:40] <Dinah> "You'd think the punching would speed things along." She was quiet for a moment after that, frowning. "But I know he just wants attention. Good or bad, doesn't really matter. I try to ignore him. Really do. But he tries harder to be noticed, I guess. Can't wait until he's a decent guy. It'd be nice to be stuck around someone you don't want to keep hitting every time he opens his
[17:40] <Dinah> mouth. Even if it's just to breathe."
[17:43] <Ai> "…It'd be nice to not worry I'll get knocked around by a fistfight whenever the annoying guy we're stuck with even tries to breathe, too. I'm … I'm for punching things that ask for a punching…" She smiled, but then pouted instantly after. "B-but it's so tiring when we could die if we get too distracted by that! S-so I keep trying to stop it. A-and I'm tiny, I could get knocked over by it!"
[18:05] <Dinah> "Oh, it won't be much of a fight. It'll be one punch and then he's down." She chuckled at that, crossing one ankle over the other. "But as long as you stay away from him when we're all together, you probably won't get knocked around. Difference between talking to him and being in the splash zone, after all."
[18:14] <Ai> "…A-aheh. Still, I'm gonna work for a day when you don't need to punch him! And instead punch someone much worse!" Ai… almost fistpumped. "Or something like that!"
[18:24] <Dinah> "Fair enough." She stood, finally, stretching her arms up over her head and letting out something of a yawn. "I got plenty of punches for just about everyone, though. I get what you're gettin' at, though." Fishing a cigarette from her pocket, she popped it in her mouth and made her way toward the stairs. "Anyway, I'm gonna head to my room and catch a smoke break. Have fun with your
[18:24] <Dinah> games."
[18:25] <Ai> "Sure thing. I'll try not to be too loud once I walk up to my room. Chill, okay?" Ai paused. "Well. That's… what you're doing, isn't it? Well, seeya~"
[18:53] <Minaplo> [ Thou art I; I art thou.-
[18:53] <Minaplo> [ Thou hast glimpsed a new path of thine heart, with which to rewrite your story.-
[18:53] <Minaplo> [ With the first meeting of the Magician Arcana and the Justice Arcana, the beginning of your transformation and that of the world begins.]

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