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05 June 2006 @ 03:14 am
Journey's End  
Lakshmi looked down on the coastline of Kauai as the small plane came in for a landing. She'd waited until the next day after arriving in Honolulu to catch this flight to Lihue with one of the small local airlines - even with a stopover in Tokyo, the flight from Mumbai had been painfully long, and she had needed a break. This last leg of the journey was just a short hop, but still, enough was enough.

Besides, the prospect of spending an evening in Honolulu hadn't been exactly unappealing. Despite jet lag, she'd headed out for the evening after booking a room at a local bed and breakfast and dropping off her things there. She'd especially wanted to see a hula performance, after reading up on its cultural role as a means of storytelling, prayer and transmission of oral history. It tied in nicely with some of what she'd learned about Indian folk dance in university, but it was hard to know, as a newcomer, which events might embody the authentic spirit of the art and which were merely staged for tourists. She'd have to wait until she'd made some local contacts. In the meantime, she settled for doing a bit of club-hopping, so that she could at least work off the stiffness of the long plane ride with some dancing of her own.

In the morning, she'd sorted out the next step of her journey, and now the island of Kauai was coming up beneath her. The plane touched down, and soon Lakshmi was stepping out of Lihue's smaller airport.

With a wistful glance at the car rental agencies, she thought to herself that she really would have to learn to drive one of these days. Growing up, her family had always had a driver for that -- learning to drive herself would have been like learning to wash dishes or mend her own clothes: easily done, but why would you bother? At university, everything had been within walking distance. And since then, she'd kept meaning to do it, but there was always something more interesting going on. In any major city, you could usually get by with walking, public transit, and maybe renting a bicycle, and have a more interesting time that way. It was only at times like this, when wanting to travel into a rural area on her own, that she found herself wishing for a car. But even so, there always ways around it...

Some people would have said that while hitching a ride might be easy for a pretty young woman alone, it wasn't necessarily the safest way to travel. But those people probably didn't have the ability to shapeshift into a large black panther at a moment's notice. Not that she'd ever actually needed to go that far -- Lakshmi had never encountered any problems hitchhiking that couldn't be solved by a combination of charm, confidence and occasionally veiled threats. Sometimes, the knowledge of what you could do was all you needed to see you through such situations.

The tourist who picked her up this time was good company at first, helping her with her luggage and pointing out some of the sights to her en route to the north end of the island. But alas, the point came when he got a little too friendly, and had to be dissuaded. "Darling," Lakshmi purred, with a dazzling but not altogether friendly smile, "You must understand, you have two possible courses of action here. One involves apologizing, and being a gentleman for the remainder of the trip. The other involves... many things, none of them pleasant, and some requiring medical attention. And I am not referring to a sexually transmitted disease. Do we understand each other?" Apparently they did, for the rest of the trip passed in awkward silence.

After dropping her suitcase at another local bed-and-breakfast, in Princeville, she dressed in her one dedicated set of clothing, threw a few necessities into her daypack, and headed out to the scenic lookout across from Princeville shopping centre that was apparently as close as members of the public were allowed to get to the wildlife refuge where the caern lay.

Her first thought looking out was that it looked far less wild than she'd anticipated -- the valley seemed to be for the most part a patchwork quilt of taro plantations. But there was a caern in there somewhere -- she had only to find it. And there was enough forest around the edges that she could probably travel unseen -- once she got down there, at least.

She glanced down at the incline -- steep, but not exactly a sheer cliff. A human likely couldn't have scaled it safely, but then, she wasn't a human. She'd timed her visit so that dusk was almost falling, and it would be easier to disappear this way. She waited, walking back and forth slowly while looking out at the valley, until a point came when no tourists or security staff were immediately nearby, then quietly slipped over the edge.

Shifting on the way down was a gamble, but she hadn't wanted to risk being seen in mid-change if someone had unexpectedly appeared. But her luck held, and she hit the side of the slope on four feet, not two. Her claws found purchase on the steep hillside, and she disappeared into the trees, a moving patch of darkness amongst the evening shadows.

Entry successful, she thought. Now, to find the caern... She focussed on all her feline senses, and the mystical awareness that let the cat-folk sense magic, sometimes, as she began the final stage of her journey.

(( OOC: This would be an excellent opportunity for Lakshmi to meet one of the other characters, who could perhaps inform her about the party the story will begin with. ))
Current Location: Kauai, Hawaii
Current Mood: determineddetermined
Current Music: Solace - Rebirth
maya_garoumaya_garou on June 5th, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC)
Stepping out of the same airplane at Lihue Airport is a fairly tall white woman. She has dadelion-fluff-short hair and brightly colored, beaded and braided bangs dangling at either side of her face. She jogs down the stairs from the plane's exit to the tarmac, carrying a backpack slung over her shoulder. She stops outside the small plane while the baggage handlers unload carry-on luggage that was too big to fit in the miniature storage compartments, and picks up an electric guitar case with a variety of stickers all over it.


((OOC: You might find Maya at the same B&B you reserved a room at, but she'll have taken a bus or airport shuttle to get there.))
Lakshmi Visvanathanlakshmi_v on June 6th, 2006 04:47 am (UTC)
Stepping lightly off the stairs, Lakshmi glances over at the woman with the guitar case and pauses, nearly entranced in the way that only a cat watching a dangly thing can be. ** Oh, my -- look at her hair! All those colours, and the beads... It's so unique! I love it when people do things like that... **

Gradually she becomes aware that, once again, she's blocking other passengers from disembarking, and hurries over toward where the baggage is being unloaded, still stealing glances at this most unusual-looking woman. ** I really must stop behaving like some sort of poster child for attention deficit disorder -- one of these days I'm going to cause an acci-- Oh! Look how the beads catch the light! **

Lakshmi is dressed quite colourfully, in a silk salwar kameez (long tunic and pants - see examples here if you're curious) in various shades of rose, orange and gold that look a bit like the colours of a sunrise, sandals decorated with elaborate pattern of silver and gold-coloured beads, her long hair pulled back into a ponytail with flowers tucked into the tie, and enough jewelry of various sorts to set off an airport metal detector.

Maya might also notice that one of the suitcases that has been unloaded is bright turquoise with purple trim and a scattering of sequins sewn on in what was probably an actual pattern before it went through several baggage holds but now looks fairly random. It's probably not hard to connect the two...
maya_garoumaya_garou on June 6th, 2006 07:43 pm (UTC)
Maya notices the exotically dressed woman as she picks up her turquoise suitcase. ** Nice outfit! ** she thinks. She flashes the exotic woman a smile as she walks past with her guitar.

As the plane at the next gate pushes back, its engines whining as they spin up to taxi speed, Maya wrinkles her nose at the smell of jet fuel and diesel exhaust and walks toward the airport door, hoping to get out of the noise and mayhem as quickly as she can. She hopes the B&B where her father reserved a room for her is in a quiet place.
Lakshmi Visvanathanlakshmi_v on June 7th, 2006 06:32 am (UTC)
Lakshmi returns the smile, then feels a definite prickling of something out of the ordinary as Maya passes her, and tries to focus on the other woman as she departs, hoping to get a clearer impression. The impression she gets is startlingly clear (Perception + Awareness = 8, 4, 10, 9 - decidedly better than my pathetic attempt at stealth, below), but a little late, as Maya disappears into the airport.

** Was that...? Was she...? ** Lakshmi stares after Maya, belatedly trying to make sense of what she felt. ** Ah, too late, she's gone. Well, if what I thought I felt was correct, I have a feeling I'll be seeing her again before long. Too bad I didn't pick up on it sooner -- I might have been able to find out from her where to go. Oh well, I'll just have to find it on my own... And perhaps, if I'm correct, I'll see her there. **
maya_garoumaya_garou on June 7th, 2006 07:53 pm (UTC)
(( OOC: I started a thread for Maya at the B&B. Feel free to join in when you return from your adventure. ))
Lakshmi Visvanathanlakshmi_v on June 8th, 2006 04:25 am (UTC)
(( OK, I'll drop in there as soon as I wrap up this scene. ))
andreu_blackmanandreu_blackman on June 6th, 2006 12:05 am (UTC)
At the Refuge
((OOC: This assumes any interaction with Maya doesn't change your final destination))

Andreu smiles at the sky as he lumbers out of the small glade where he had his lunch. After reverting to human form he adjusts his uniform and looks around. ** Hmm... Better make sure I avoid that nest... ** Having had a few days already to get his bearings, he starts walking a circuitous around the caern and bawn area. True, he really shouldn't be inside the refuge, but at least he has the authority to be there. ** Here's hoping that everyone knows to meet at the opening of the Center. **

Andreu checks that his radio is turned as low as possible, in case someone decides to check on him. ** Last thing I need is for everything to bolt because they want me to check in **
Lakshmi Visvanathanlakshmi_v on June 6th, 2006 05:11 am (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
((OOC: Well, I don't think I can change things I've already posted, so we'll have to just work her encounter with Maya into what's already there -- a brief catching sight of each other at the airport, and then probably a later encounter at the B&B, presumably after this. ))

Padding through the forest in feline form, Lakshmi catches a whiff of a scent that stands out: human. (( I'm assuming shapeshifters in homid form smell fairly human? )) ** Oh dear -- hopefully I can avoid whoever it is, but I'd probably better shift, because a lost tourist in here will raise fewer eyebrows than a decidedly non-native animal. Unless maybe it's one of those I'm looking for? But until I know, I should probably be careful... **

A moment's concentration, and where there was a panther, there is a young woman, dressed a little more practically than in the airport scene above -- black jeans, an emerald-green choli top (the little midriff-baring tops that are usually worn with saris) covered with embroidery and beadwork, green leather boots, and a blue and green scarf threaded through the belt-loops of her jeans in lieu of a belt.

Quietly she moves closer to the spot the scent of human had seemed to be emanating from, trying to get a look at the other without being seen herself.

(( Dex + Stealth = 3, 7, 3, 2, 3 -- not as quiet as she'd like to be! You'd only need one success on a Perception + Alertness roll to spot her... ))
andreu_blackmanandreu_blackman on June 6th, 2006 12:21 pm (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
((Per +Alert = 7, (10), 2, 4, 5, 9 (re-roll = 8) -- I spy with my eye...))

Andreu pauses as he hears a few birds scatter into the air a ways off. ** Hmm? ** He slows down a bit and listens for what may have spooked them. The sound of brush slowly moving catches his ears. He pats his gun to make sure it's secured before turning towards the source of the noise. ** Can't take the chance... Whatever it is, it's too big to be native fauna.** He starts walking towards Lakshmi, not trying to be stealthy.

((OOC: When you see him, he's 6'2", with a stocky frame, wering the uniform of a Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge Officer (tan shirt, green vest, etc). He has black hair and hazel eyes.))
Lakshmi Visvanathanlakshmi_v on June 7th, 2006 06:54 am (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
** Oh, damn! Feline grace, years of dance training -- you'd think I could walk through a forest without startling everything into moving! And he looks like some kind of official! Well, no help for it now. I'll just have to rely on charm and... a little creativity with the truth. Well, all right, blatant lying is probably more like it. He's a man, so with any luck, damsel-in-distress should work. **

Stepping into view and feigning a look of relief, Lakshmi says "Oh, thank god I've finally found someone! I've been lost in here for hours! I was at the scenic overlook and I slipped." Realizing she probably doesn't look like she's just had a bad fall, she adds "I was able to catch onto a branch so I didn't hurt myself, but I couldn't get back up - the only way to go was down. I was hoping I'd find another way out, but I just got lost. Can you help me?"

At the same time, she tries to focus a bit of cat-magic into making her hopeful smile more likely to win him over. Unfortunately, the spirits do not seem to be with her today, and she can feel the gift go awry almost as soon as she tries it...

(( Sweet Hunter's Smile gift, Manipulation + Primal = 1,1,2,3 - a botch! Fabulous. :-/ Not sure exactly what happens with that, I guess it's the mod's call, but I'm guessing it'll make you trust me less instead of more. ))
andreu_blackmanandreu_blackman on June 7th, 2006 12:41 pm (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
Andreu tenses slightly as Lakshmi comes into view, then relaxes and puts on his "no-nonsense official" face. As he listens to her little tale, his face shows concern. ** Geez I better get up there and call it in. Wouldn't want someone to get seriously hur... **

When she smiles, his eyes narrow and his face becomes stern again. ** Wait a sec. Lost for hours...? I don't think so... ** He looks up in the direction of the outlook for a second, then back to Lakshmi as he steps forward into her personal space. "Ma'am, this refuge is closed to the public. Let's go," he says in a very flat tone. He points southward and leads her to a point where there seems to be a barely there trail, mostly overgrown. "I hope you haven't scared off any of the native fauna. With modern development, many of the endangered birds here have no other place to thrive. If they don't return, they won't survive." He continues with other admonitions about disturbing the animals in the refuge, some about disturbing nests of chicks who parents may now not return, and even a comemnt about bothering the bats. He also throws in a little bit about the possibility of a fine up to $500, jail time up to 6 months, or both depending on the severity of the damage she caused.
Lakshmi Visvanathanlakshmi_v on June 8th, 2006 12:33 am (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
While outwardly doing her best to appear meek and apologetic, and to play along the image of being an overly curious tourist who snuck in on a whim, Lakshmi sighs inwardly. ** Well, that certainly could have gone better. Then again, it could also have gone worse. At least he hasn't tried to shoot me. Yet. **

She wonders what the earnest refuge employee will think if he traces back her steps to see if she caused any damage, and finds that the human tracks only appear briefly before the spot where he found her, and that before that are tracks of a decidedly different kind. Mind you, a panther traipsing through the woods is probably scarier to the wildlife than a human. She ponders idly whether she could get a ticket for unauthorized shapeshifting.

** NOW how am I ever going to find the caern, or whoever's supposed to be guarding it? I suppose I can always try to find the woman I spotted at the airport... But who knows where? Unless... I wonder... **

She glances sidelong at Andreu. He doen't seem like a particularly "wild" type... More officious and tedious, really. Then again, she'd clearly made a bad impression with her attempt at using her gift, so perhaps he'd normally be more pleasant. And what better place for one of the caern's unofficial guardians to hide than under the guise of being one of its official guardians?

Almost afraid to try using any other sort of supernatural ability after the way this day's been going, nonetheless, she has to try. Curiosity, if nothing else, won't let her leave the question unanswered.

(( Attempting Perception + Awareness, hoping for better luck this time. ))
Lakshmi Visvanathanlakshmi_v on June 8th, 2006 12:46 am (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
(( 3, 3, 1, 8 - not a botch, but not a success, either. ))

** Damn, I can't get any kind of impression from him at all. He could be king of the werewolves, a powerful shaman, or just an ordinary civil servant, and there's no way of telling. I suppose all I can do is try to drop a few vague hints and see if it sparks any recognition... **

When they get to the edge of the refuge, she thanks him for showing her the way out, and apologizes again, then adds, "If you need to get hold of me, about any damage to the refuge or anything else, my name is Lakshmi Visvanathan, and I am staying at the White Sands Bed and Breakfast in Princeville.

"And by the way -- you might want to let the residents of the local communities know to keep a closer eye on their dogs. I saw some tracks that I thought for a moment looked like wolf tracks, but I must have been mistaken. I know Hawaii doesn't have any native wolves. At one point I even thought I saw something that looked like a large cat. But it was only for a moment. If there ever was some kind of cat here, I'm sure it's gone now."

And with that, she smiles again, and leaves.
andreu_blackmanandreu_blackman on June 8th, 2006 12:54 am (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
As she goes to head off, Andreu coughs. "Not so fast." He pulls a ticket book from his hip, flips it open, and appears to start writing. "Can't go without your summons, after all."

As he scribbles, Andreu keeps talking, "Wolf and cat tracks, hmm? That would be quite worrisome... you an expert at recognizing such tracks?"
Lakshmi Visvanathanlakshmi_v on June 8th, 2006 04:20 am (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
"I wouldn't say an expert," Lakshmi says, turning back. "Certainly not on wolves -- I've never really encountered one, to my knowledge at least. But I've spent a fair bit of time in the national parks of India, and cats have always been of interest to me."
andreu_blackmanandreu_blackman on June 8th, 2006 12:11 pm (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
Andreu nods, "Well, if a large cat is here, it would have to be careful about being seen by the wrong people. I'm sure it wouldn't want to be 'tranq'ed and caged in a zoo." He gives Lakshmi a glance, "If it met the right people, who knows... I'll also have to keep an eye out for those wolves. Wouldn't want to have the locals spooked." For a refuge employee being told that there are predators in a bird sanctuary, he seems rather blase.
Lakshmi Visvanathanlakshmi_v on June 8th, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
Lakshmi is clearly enjoying the multi-levelled conversation. "Understood... Of course, since cats are not native to Hawaii, any cat found here would have had to come from far away, and might not yet be familiar with the lay of the land. Caution would indeed be wise.

"Well, I must say this has been a very educational trip thus far. My intention was to encounter forms of wildlife I had not yet become familiar with, and while I am certain that I still have much to learn, I think that perhaps I have made a good start -- despite my inadvertent violation of the rules." She smiles slightly after this last, as if acknowledging that they probably both know there was nothing inadvertent about it.

"So I suppose I must accept my summons now?"
andreu_blackmanandreu_blackman on June 8th, 2006 11:11 pm (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
Andreu actually puts pen to paper at this point, writing out the time and date of the opening ceremony for the Information Center. He hands it over, saying, "A good way to start getting the lay of the land. If you need to find a particular spot, I'm sure I might be able to point it out on a map at least."

He winks, the seriousness of his not-so-veiled threats gone.
Lakshmi Visvanathanlakshmi_v on June 9th, 2006 04:27 am (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
"I believe I may take you up on that, my friend, once I have settled in here a bit further. And I will most certainly attend this ceremony -- it sounds like it could be most informative. Now, I should probably leave you to your duties, but before I go -- I don't believe I caught your name?"
andreu_blackmanandreu_blackman on June 9th, 2006 12:06 pm (UTC)
Re: At the Refuge
"Blackman. Andreu Blackman." He smiles.