Even the tiny ones.
So now it was mostly just a matter of getting to Alluka. Probably. Maybe? Shortly after slipping past the giant dog, they had found a pathway that they'd been following for quite some time now, on a walk that would probably have been lovely and quite scenic under different circumstances. Ahead, there was a second wall, much shorter than the first. Only about waist-height. And the closer they got to it, the more twitchy Jono became.
The powerful auras from the members of the family, he'd been expecting. Maybe not to the degree that he was sensing now, no. But to be able to open that bloody gate all the way to the top, somebody had to have one hell of a lot of power. But beyond that?
//Not arrogant,// he muttered, to nobody in particular. //Just in possession of their own small army of superhumans, is all.//
The unfortunate thing was, Alluka was also on the other side of that wall.
"How big of a small army?" Kathy asked, chewing on her lower lip. Because--with the possible exception of Dr. Lecter--they were a small group of superhumans. Or powered humans, anyway.
But there was a big difference between a 'small group' and a 'small army.'
//Big enough that if I were to start counting now, we'd probably be buried under them by the time I get close,// Jono offered, brow furrowed. //And they're strong.//
Strong enough that he was worrying about it, anyway.
"Looks like Plan Charge In Guns Blazing is out," Kathy murmured, not that she thought that it was ever a real possibility anyway. "Looks like we're better off sticking with Plan Smart And Subtle. We came in through the front door anyway, so as long as we have a tacit invitation in, we'd be fools to waste it."
"So that means no throwing fire at everything that moves," Anders noted, shoving his hands in his pocket. "Pity. That's more fun than Smart and Subtle."
Ringo had been pretty quiet since the doors. "Um, I know this might not sound much like me," she allowed, looking around at their surroundings, "but I think I'm okay with the subtle approach this time?" Everyone try not to have a heart attack at this revelation.
"More fun, but less safe," Kathy said, slinging a companionable arm around Ringo's shoulder and squeezing. "And we're far too young and pretty to be murdered by assassins today. Or made to murder anyone, either."
Kathy had pretty heavy lines that she drew. Subduing someone was all right, but killing? Very no. And these people didn't look like they'd settle for anything less.
"If I have my way, we can leave with Alluka trading nothing but words to get her." Giving Anders a crooked grin she added, "Sorry, I know. I'm the fun-ruiner for everyone."
Really, Kathy, you were the fun-ruiner?
The two girls that appeared, as if out of thin-air to stand by the gate were the real fun-ruiners.
One was black, and short, the other was white and tall. They both wore the same empty expression, and the slim black suits that marked them as butlers of the Zoldyck family.
"Leave," Canary, the black girl, said. "You are trespassing on private property."
Jono looked at the pair that had appeared before them, eyes slightly narrowed. They appeared to be deceptively harmless. The aura that was hammering at his senses said very much to the contrary.
//I'm afraid we can't,// he said, squaring his shoulders and what would have been his jaw, if he still had one. //Not until we talk to a member of the family.//
"You're not allowed to be here," Amane, the white girl, snapped. "Just because you passed the door doesn't mean the butlers have allowed you onto the domain."
Canary exchanged a look with Amane, who nodded.
"Well, whatever. We will tolerate you before this point," Canary said. "But if you pass this point, we'll kill you."
And, it should be noted, that they were not the only butlers in the woods.
"We just want to talk to people," Kathy said, holding up her hands and attempting to look harmless. "No reason to jump to instantly murdering us for trespassing. We just want to talk. So how do we get from being here to talking to the family without crossing any boundaries into Murdertown?"
"You don't," Amane said simply. "The masters have not ordered such a thing."
//And what, pray, would it take to change their minds about that?//
Because Jono was perfectly willing to stand here and be stubborn about this for a while, but sooner or later he was going to probably try to cross the murder line regardless.
"Who knows," Canary said dismissively. "They never have before."
Well, there'd been the Gon situation, but Killua-sama had left of his own free will. Alluka-sama had not.
"Has anyone informed the family that people are looking to talk to them?" Kathy asked, hammering on the 'being reasonable' as hard as she could. "I'm sure if they knew that Alluka's friends were here and wished to confer with them, this could all be handled. Civilly."
With a complete lack of murder for anyone! MURDER WENT AGAINST KATHY'S MORAL CODE, OKAY?
"Even if you are friends, what proof do you have?" scoffed Amane. "That's the oldest trick in the book, and the masters know that."
//The hell of it is, she's right,// Jono muttered, though he was squaring his shoulders all the same. //Right, then. So what would it take to prove that we're her friends? Because I'm telling you right now, I have no intentions of leaving until I've at least spoken to somebody about Alluka.//
And he could wait here a very long while.
Kathy sighed, annoyed. Still, she'd asked for a chance, so she was going to play along. "Alluka loves pink dresses and princesses," she said, tone short. "Her favorite food is chocolate, but I drop off sandwiches and snacks for her that are healthy so I know she's eating some veggies. And other food groups. She'll only eat granola bars with chocolate chips, though. Her stuffed bunny is her most important toy, though at this point, she's amassed quite a collection--including ones I've given her and I think Mr. Starsmore and Dr. Lecter have, too. She likes tea parties and going shopping, though she can get overwhelmed with too many choices. She also likes having her hair brushed and playing at makeovers." Glaring now, Kathy asked, "Is that enough? Because it sounds a lot like friendship to me."
"Or somebody who has done their homework," Canary retorted, shifting her staff to both hands. "We are here to keep you from getting any further. There is no negotiation."
"What she means," Amane added helpfully. "Is that you should leave."
They were fine with either.
"Well, that's just not going to happen," Kathy snapped. "Not until we can talk to someone in charge, rather--"
She swallowed down the rest of that, which would have involved the phrase 'glorified flunkies.' She was trying to keep things peaceful.
"--rather than people who are just rightfully trying to do their jobs," she finished, though through gritted teeth. "But are not the ones who can ultimately help us reach Alluka."
"I don't suppose just asking Alluka is an option," Anders said mildly. "She can speak for herself. If she says she has no idea who we are, we'll go. Quietly."
Both of the butlers looked bored. So bored.
There was a pause and then Anders' voice rang out:
"She can speak for herself. If she says she has no idea who we are, we'll go. Quietly."
"That's a recording you didn't even notice was happening," Canary said flatly. "There are many more ways to fool someone into thinking they are someone they know."
"Do you think that would fool a member of the family?" Hannibal asked, curious.
"Our jobs are to keep you from having the chance."
//It's a neat trick,// Jono mused, shrugging at Hannibal, //if you've never seen a tape recorder. I wonder if they can manage that one with my voice.//
It was a little trickier, he figured.
Anders turned to Jono. "When we aren't in the middle of this, I'd like to hear what recording a voice has to do with fooling anyone," he said, conversationally. "But it doesn't seem as though these ladies are impressed by my logic."
Which didn't actually bother him (except in the way the whole thing bothered him). He knew logic wasn't his best quality.
"Well then what's left?" Kathy snapped. "We've tried talking, we've tried logic, we're not leaving--what's left that we haven't already tried?"
Well...there was the obvious. But Kathy didn't see how fighting was supposed to help them make their case any.
Too bad certain butlers probably didn't see it that way.
Canary did not quite roll her eyes. Amane just looked haughty.
Of course they did. They had good reason to as Jono's voice rang out:
"It's a neat trick, if you've never seen a tape recorder. I wonder if they can manage that one with my voice."
You weren't all that special, Jono. Not in this world.
//Still a neat trick. I have a phone that does the same thing,// Jono muttered, rolling his shoulders and then cracking his knuckles.
He glanced over his shoulder at Kathy.
//Looks less and less like we're going to be able to talk our way in, Sunbeam.//
Kathy looked profoundly unhappy with this revelation. "That's stupid," she said. "It proves literally nothing other than that we may actually be the threat they fear."
Or maybe strong enough to be respected? Who knew how these people thought?
"Fine, but they're throwing the first punch. I don't start fights with people who aren't actively engaging in crime." She said nothing about being there to take that punch, though. She was principled, not stupid. "Tend to finish them, though."
//Nah, but they can take shifts, and you lot will likely starve to death before they give up,// Jono replied, surveying the doorway in the wall. //Might have to force their hand.//
If anyone had any objections to him just starting to walk toward that line they'd drawn in the sand, better speak now, because there he went.
Hannibal had no objections; he was rather curious how this would play out.
He was, however, going to politely step out of everybody's way.
Kathy just set her jaw and shook her head. Not at Mr. Starsmore, but this whole stupid situation.
She was pulling her heavy oak bokken out of its sheath on her back and slinging her shéng biāo across her shoulders. "If we must," she sighed. "Let the record show I really hate this option. I'll be writing a sternly worded letter to the Zoldyck estate to express my displeasure at their take on hospitality."
Ringo took a deep breath as her eyes swept the area. She was careful about how she stood, avoiding putting too much weight on her injured knee. She could fight with it, but it was only going to make the injuries worse.
Well, she'd fought with way worse before. She'd manage this time, too, if that's what it came down to.
Canary and Amane waited patiently, with expressions falling between alert wariness and professional boredom, and watched as the man with half his face hidden away approached.
They did nothing.
And they wouldn’t, until he crossed their line.
Really, Jono didn't expect either of them to do much until he actually overstepped those boundaries that they'd laid out. Though he had to wonder as he approached the line, why set those boundaries at all? They'd made it through the front gate, and the guard there had known what it was they were after. Why did they wait until they made it this far in particular to stop them?
He gave his head a little shake, hands twitching a little, ready to grab at his wrappings in an instant, eyes on the two girls with the impressive auras who were poised to stop them.
And then, with a defiant lift of his head, he stepped over their line.
[OOC: NFB for distance! Follows this! There's some OCD within for the intrepid rescuers for some liveplay goodness, but what's above was preplayed with the wonderful never_dull, soniaroadsqueen, not_every_mage, spin_kick_snap, and that_oldsaying (Who was also amazing and coded this whole beast!)]