Last Minute Shopping


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Scene Title Last Minute Shopping
Synopsis In the middle of the last-minute supply rush following the announcement about the encroaching Sentinel, Cassandra and Asi encounter each other one last time.
Date December 20, 2018

Lowe's Marketplace

The Pelago has been alive since the captains all adjourned from their gathering, as the news was brought back to the people and the citizens reacted. It reached each community and word spread like a virus, eliciting frenzied reactions from all. Some, immediately beginning preparations to fight. Some, immediately beginning preparations to flee. Some were left without a choice between the two. The Sentinel would be here before some had the luxury of figuring out their indecision. But for some, evacuating young children took priority. Treading north to escape the coming invasion flirted with its own set of dangers, but at least two small boats were willing to make that trip, unwilling to take the risk that the fight here might not be won.

"Here," Asi says to one of the men on the docked pontoon before she passes down a heavy package of provisions across the gap to him. He accepts it with a grunt, finding space for it soon after. She steps back to find another item to transfer, waiting to find another spot in the line to help finish off the loading of the supplies to be sent to those boats.

The simple repetition helps give her momentary purpose, distracts her away from her anger. She's not come to terms with Mad Eve's demand for crew and ships to go piloting into the Stormfront at a time like this. She understands that the venture needs completed to help the travelers get home but —

Why? Why push forward now, of all times?

She'd heard heard disgruntled retellings of the meeting from Trawler crew who were loudly bemoaning everything about to happen after their Captain had returned. Even if they had been broadly overexaggerating what Eve had actually said, it was enough to incense her.

"'Yes, some of you will die at the Sentinel's hand, and I'll just — take perfectly good'," Asi pauses in her mutter to herself, grunting as she lifts a heavy crate of canned goods and comes back to her feet. "'Men and women away from making sure less do.' Great plan, Eve. Truly your finest yet." She'd punch something if her hands weren't occupied. Her brow furrows as she carefully leans over to make this next exchange. "Careful, this one's a sight heavier." she warns, and the man aboard the nameless craft nods as he accepts it.

During the captain’s meeting, Cassandra was entirely unsure of what was being discussed. There was a package to deliver to Eve, the seer cackling when the glitter-infused box was passed over, muttering cryptically about strains and seeds and devoting a hold in her ship entirely for growing. That brief meeting was the cherry on top of confusion that she had been dealing with for the longest of times. The last two times she jumped realities, it was without planning on her part at all - a lucky break that got her to the Wasteland, and a lot of planning that she wasn't a part of to get her from Wasteland to Flood. But the meeting? That was insanity, but it was also the only chance she had to get home.

There were dozens of ships at the docks today. Some were unloading various supplies, but most were loading up people and things to get them and theirs as far away from the incoming sentinel as possible. Cassandra wasn't one to leave the heavy lifting to the others so she was busy helping out as best she could. The ship she was on, the Weathertenko, was moored near the middle of the dock, supplies being pushed down a ramp and into the hold. Apparently Cassandra was doing something below decks, emerging into the light after a particularly large load, calling back down. “I haven’t worked on anything like that before, though!” She's talking about an engine, it seems. “I'm sure there's a mechanic here somewhere….on the docks by the market?” She pauses, getting a murmured response. “Okay, I'll get him over here, then.”

Shimmying to the deck, Cassandra makes the quick hop from the ship to shore. Dressed comfortably in pants and a sleeveless shirt that shows off her arms, she waves to the steering house and pivots, weaving through the cacophony on the docks to the repair shop situated just over there.

They had just been here for two months and already they were running into danger again, or running to their only chance to make it out of here. It was very time sensitive, from what she understood, and connected with an aurora, somehow, that allowed their eclectic mix of abilities to punch through the world and into the next. This ark supposedly held answers, and safety, and a person they needed to bring along, according to Eve. How much of that was true? Well…leap of faith.

Wouldn't be the first time.

"Asi, here!" A male voice calls out by Cassandra's head, right as a bound brick of blankets just barely misses her as it flies inches in front of her face. Asi's turned barely in time to catch the twined bundle, brow furrowed down in annoyance.

"Oi, ちょっと!" she yells back at the wincing, but unrepentant twenty-something that ducks his head in acknowledgement of his poor judgement before heading back into the crowd to make another last-minute barter. Asi roughly turns the bundle over to get a better grip on it to toss it aboard the pontoon, her attention slowly turning to whoever it was that had nearly been clipped by the young man's bad timing. "Hey, sorry—"

That's about as far as she gets into the thought before she recognizes Cassandra. She says nothing, brow arched high as she looks up and down the dock in confusion before turning back to the other woman. What are you doing here? her confusion implies. At the sound of her assumed name from the woman standing aboard the pontoon, she looks away and leans toward the edge of the dock to lob the blankets away much more carefully than they were tossed at her.

Active loading zones are places that people should not go when they’re not in the middle of doing the loading, because it’s extraordinarily easy for someone to accidentally get bowled over when people aren’t paying attention. Usually all this work is done with machines, but with the flood putting most of the machines out of commission, manpower is the only way for things to get done. An active dock isn’t something that Cassandra is really used to being on, either, and as she backs out into traffic, she moves into the path that goods are taking to go into the ship. She quickly learns that there are places you go and places you don’t on a dock.

She hears the name called and stops, turning just in time to watch the tightly-wrapped bundle fly past her head, stopping in an instant, taking a step back and very nearly falling on her butt. “Aie! Faites attention!” she snaps at the man who threw the bundle as he retreats back into the crowd to do more bartering, waving her hand as he vanishes. “Hey! Ne t'éloigne pas de moi!” She stomps her foot - cutely, actually. “Imbécile.”

It’s no wonder that the thrower got away as quickly as he could. Being yelled at in Japanese and French at the same time from two separate directions - one of the sources being Asi - shows that he’s skilled at avoiding conflict. That’s probably why he’s fleeing the Pelago to get away from the Sentinels.

Cassandra turns towards the voice, bobbing her head. “Hey, it’s okay…” She stops once she sees who it is. “Hey, Asi.” She takes a step back, out of the flow of traffic, closer to the side of the docks and the boat instead of in the middle of a loading zone, where it’s easier to talk. “Just helping out.” she replies to the unasked question. “Just sitting on the shore and watching everyone work…it’s not right to let everyone else do the hard stuff when I can help out.” She jerks her thumb toward the market. “I’ve got to go find a mechanic….want to come with me?”

Asi just frowns. She looks for the man that's disappeared back into the crowd, wondering when his next buy will come flying out of nowhere. With some impatience, she looks back to Cassandra and then turns to the boat, explaining with a few short words she needed to move on. "Best of luck," she conveys with a quick handshake, expression serious but not negative as she says her farewell. The frown returns again as she rounds back on the reality traveler.

"Go," she indicates stiffly, gesturing down the dock toward the ramps and ladders up to the higher level. "And then you get back to wherever you're supposed to be. None of this is your problem. You should be with Eve, and the rest of them." Asi only shakes her head as she takes off after Cassandra, steering her out of the way of potential collisions if she has to.

“Probably.” Cassandra concedes as Asi follows along behind her, stopping in one of the less-trafficked areas, crossing her arms across her chest once she’s stopped. “Being up there with Eve and the others is probably where I should be, but my family didn’t raise me to let others do all the work when I can help out. Just sitting and watching when there’s things that need to be done…” She shakes her head. “People already resent us enough for heading to the Stormfront tomorrow. No sense in adding more because they think we’re lazy, too.”

Accusing Cassandra of being lazy isn’t something that anyone who has worked with her over the past month could even consider. The library’s book collection has grown by at least fifty different titles, thanks to her ability to see into the past and Sumi’s ink ability transcribing pages almost as fast as they appear in the vision. And that’s when she’s not working in the kitchens, or cleaning, or helping in the gardens on the roof, or telling stories to children, or any number of tasks. Finally she speaks. “No.” Cassandra fixes the dark-haired woman with a stern gaze. “I’m not going until tomorrow. Until then I’ll stay and help out as much as I can.”

When they stop, Asi has to look away for a moment to center herself, keep herself from yelling. She turns back and places her hands on Cassandra's shoulders, lightly to try and not give the impression of being too forceful with her take. "There's not some scale of opinion you're going to tip by trying to help." she pleads quietly. "Some people are rightfully angry able hands and ships are being taken away from the fight. I am angry along with them." Her voice twists for a moment, that anger clearly conflicted. Her expression smooths with a short exhale.

"What if they go early and you are not there?" she points out, attempting logic for that brief moment. "You shouldn't be here. Your job is to move on." To that effect, she tries to nudge Cassandra into forward motion again.

That question actually gets Cassandra to contemplate for a moment or two, blinking, looking down and then back over her shoulder toward the tower that the travelers have called home for the last two months. She holds that view for a second or two, turning back to Asi, her expression deflated. “It’s not to tip some scale of support, Asi. We’re not here long enough to even have a chance at that. It’s just…I can’t just sit, Asi. So many people are doing so much for us, all based on Eve’s say-so. It’s not enough for me to just take what I can get and leave. I’ve got to do something. I mean…it’s why I’m helping out as much as I can.”

"Cassandra," Asi sighs out in that same pleading tone, her shoulders dipping. Trying to tame the other woman's good intentions was something she felt woefully unprepared to handle. One hand lifts and then settles back on her shoulder as she struggles between instincts about how to direct her from here. "Walk and talk," she decides, attempting to curb her curt tone. "Complete your current obligation first."

She turns away, unwilling to wait for Cassandra to make up her mind on her own. She starts walking, intent on leading her to a mechanic. Her feet are sure, heading where they should be, but her thoughts start to wander. Speaking of mechanics, there's one she's wondering about now. Asi's jaw sets as she glances back to make sure the other woman is following, head shaking as she turns forward again and clambers up onto the higher level of dock in the hopes it'll be an easier walk. She crouches to offer her hand. "You can only do so much," she warns, even as she's helping her up. "In this case, you being there and ready is the best thing you could do for yourself, and for them."

Nodding numbly, Cassandra falls in behind Asi, step by step, the mismatched shoes she’s wearing sounding different with each footfall. Tap thump, tap thump, tap thump. The glance back would show that yes, Cassandra is following, mounting the rungs of the ladder one-at-a-time as Asi climbs to the higher level of the dock, reaching up to take the other woman’s hand in a firm grip, pulling herself to the higher level which offers a view of the waterfront and less traffic to contend with. It’s a conundrum to be sure - and one that Cassandra never thought she’d be a part of. She feels so useless here; like a fifth wheel on a boat, so doubly useless even. A drain on resources that she’ll never be able to repay. It’s why she’s working so hard, it seems.

As they get further from the crowd and toward the place Asi is leading them, Cassandra lets out a soft sigh, wiping under her right eye with the knuckle of her right forefinger. “It’s just so hard, you know? Feeling like this. And there’s nothing I can do but go along the rails and hope that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, bringing people along with that might die to get me and the other travelers to that particular spot. And we don’t even know how this is supposed to work, except for cryptic comments from Eve which…” She chuckles. “Well, you know how those go, I guess. Probably just as coherent as the Eve I knew from the last place I was.”

"Eve knows what she is doing. If the echoes are guiding her, you are on the best possible path you could be on." Asi voices without looking back, though she slows her pace until her footfalls heavily come to a halt. She frowns. A new gaggle of people are gathered in a small crowd around a nook, which was presumably her destination. She peers down the row, seeing that it's much the same in other clusters as well. Reluctantly, she pulls them forward toward the small line. Would be great if we could just find Silas. she thinks ruefully.

She finally turns back to look at Cassandra again, giving her a slight shake of her head. It's meant as a sign of encouragement rather than exasperation, but her expression is solemn all the same. "You get to leave this. The Sentinel are not something you will have to face. If you are lucky, where you go, there are none at all." Asi's brow lifts. "Stow your pity for us, your worry for us. We will fight, and we will win. And you? You will continue forward. You will find the way." She seems assured of that, like it's the only option.

“You’ve said that. Over and over again you’ve said that and I can’t help but feel guilty because of it. It’s…” Cassandra moves into the shorter line, standing behind Asi with her arms crossed across her chest. “You’re right.” She looks up. “You’re right. It’s what we do. We find a way to survive no matter what. I haven’t told you anything about what we went through to get here but, suffice to say, it was….difficult.” She’s leaving a lot out of that, of course, but how can you really tell someone that you fled a nuclear explosion with only the stuff on your back and not sound insane?

The same way you convinced them that you’re from another world, of course.

“I’m supposed to be the optimist.” Cassandra counters after a second, reaching out to rest a hand on Asi’s shoulder. “I’m the one that’s not been ground down by this world just yet, running to another one before everything goes mad.” She corrects herself. “More mad.” She’s heard tales of the Sentinel purges in the time before, and now they’re coming here. It makes no sense that they’re doing this - she’s expressed that sentiment enough in private - but that doesn’t change the fact that they are coming. “You’re right.” she finally says, leaning over to look down the line of people to the nook that they’re heading towards - hopefully one with a mechanic. “I’m not the sort to lay down and vanish just because. I guess I just want to make a mark while I’m here, since the last place I was, I wasn’t able to…” Her hand lifts to her neck, rubbing the little medallion dangling there with the flat of her thumb.

“When we’re done here…” She says quietly. “Let’s go get a drink somewhere? Something to eat? A night to remember before?”

Asi closes her eyes for a moment to work through developing a more caring response to Cassandra's guilt. They open again when she feels the hand on her shoulder, expression deadpan as the other woman bares her soul. She's attentive, though, gaze flitting back and forth with each change in tone, each tiny shift in the way she holds herself. The edges around Asi's eyes soften, even if the rest of her doesn't, but she looks away regardless.

The line for the mechanics moves slowly, even with some requests being brushed off simply because there's not enough time to fulfill what needs done. Too complicated, part not on hand, not enough time for a mystery issue… Asi shuffles forward each time the gap between them and the foreman for this bundle of shipwrights grows smaller, each time shoulder to shoulder with the woman beside her. Cassandra's abrupt question seems to throw her, features twisting as she turns to look at her incredulously. Now? her look says, before she faces away and tilts her head up to the ceiling to silently ask for patience.

The line moves forward again, them both with it. "あほう," she murmurs under her breath, shaking her head at the question. Asi looks back at Cassandra, more weary than anything. The night would be long, she rationalizes it out, trying to balance the traveler's need for closeness against more practical things. She would need to eat at some point tonight.

It's taken her this long, but she finally does address her. "It will be okay," Asi voices, because it's something she feels Cassandra needs to hear. Her voice is far gentler than it normally is. The back of her hand brushes against the traveler's knuckles. After a pause, she concedes, "After this," nodding to the front of the line. They can see the frazzled foreman between other bodies now. "We can go."

Cassandra has a way of working between the chinks of a person’s armor unconsciously - it’s a talent that she’s used since she was six to great effect against educators, preachers, and angry people on the street. It’s not something that she could pull out at a whim or even choose to use, but when it magically happens, it happens hard.

The question came out of nowhere, surprising Cassandra for even asking it out loud. It’s not like there were very many restaurants - most of the places to eat were little stalls with fish or other things gleaned from the ocean. The rarity of meat or grains and vegetables was evident on any trip through the market, with the few thin chickens or bundles of greens grown in greenhouses on top of buildings or imported from inland at great cost commanding top price. She nods finally at the declaration. “After this.” She underlines the statement with her words. “Once we find a mechanic to check out the Weathertenko, we’ll have a meal and a drink.”

She knows she’s being frustrating, but she can’t help it. As the line moves closer, people leave the stall with parts, notes, or one of the mechanics relaxing in the background. When they make it to the front of the line it doesn’t take long for Cassandra to direct one of the mechanics to the ship she came from as well as giving the message ‘Corrosion in cylinder 3 and 4.’ as directed.

“Weathertenko, right?” the grizzled foreman asks. Cassandra can only nod.

“Great.” He rolls his eyes and turns. “Gonzales! Cylinder re-sleeve. 3 and 4. Weathertenko. Go.” He shouts and a man, more than likely Gonzales, gets to his feet, grabs a bag of tools, and heads off into the crowd towards the ship. The foreman motions Asi and Cassandra out of line, the next person in line shuffling closer to share his tale of mechanical woe.

Cassandra turns to Asi. “So.” she finally says. “Lead the way?”

They're not the only ones who are looking for something to eat at this time of the evening, which thankfully means someone's cooking. Roasted squash and potatoes, however bland, at least make up a hot, hearty meal that they can carry with them in their search for an accompanying drink. "We'll go up," Asi says with an indicative nod to the guarded stairwell and lift area they'd used to get to Asi's storage room previously. This time, she's a much confident leader, a bar in particular in mind.

"Do you have everything ready, at least?" she asks as they climb the stairwell. They only needed to go up a few floors. "Your kit? My package?"

Bland is okay. Salty is the common denominator with foods around here, and if you’re lucky enough to have a small thing of pepper or Tony Chachere’s bouncing around, any meal could be fit for a king. Cassandra has none of this, of course, but looking toward the guarded stairwell and lift for a second, she nods. “Let’s go.” And they go.

As they walk, they converse. Shoulder to shoulder, Cassandra nods. “So far, yes. Everything packed up except for what I’m wearing on my back. A few little things. Your package is wrapped up tight. Assuming I make it in one piece, your package will make it okay. I did add a wrap of metal screen and more plastic - makeshift faraday cage thingy, since the last time I went through ON-1…” she sighs with a shake of her head. “You know.”

"Good," Asi says, choosing to focus on the preparation rather than what lead to her knowing the precaution would be needed. "If for some reason things go wrong here, at least your next world might be well-warned against them."

Elbow-firsting her way through one of the landing doors, she waits for Cassandra to pass through before letting it swing shut behind them. There's a large, open area on this floor — a community space — that isn't seeing too much activity tonight, though there are people around. Some milling, some on their way elsewhere. No children at play this evening, though.

"Come on, old faithful." Asi murmurs under her breath, a lingering note of hope escaping her as she continues across the floor, eyeing a curtained doorway with a wooden sign propped up against the wall beside It. It bears a Japanese symbol for alcohol, as well as designates in English the converted conference room is meant to be a bar. She doesn't wait, just rushes ahead and sweeps the curtain aside to look in. The lights are on, at least, however dim they might be. "Still open?" she asks across the room, as if the handful of patrons weren't clue enough.

"Until it's time to trade steins for swords," the woman behind the bar chimes back with a wry smirk. Though the phrase sounded pretty enough, a shotgun normally stowed under the bar is showcased atop it tonight. Asi returns the grin with one of her own, beckoning Cassandra in with a jerk of her head. "Here. The place I would have brought you last time." The seating is mostly well-worn lawn furniture matched to similar-looking tables, though there is a long set of cabinets converted into the bar the tender stands behind.

Asi opts to seat them at a table of their own, and two drinks are brought to them, along with a glass of water brought at the Japanese woman's request. Conversation floats around them, in open rather than hushed tones. Those here were ready to fight to defend their home, and had their share of practice already doing it thanks to those fools who thought to test Lowe's security. She tunes it all out, popping a bite of dry, roasted potato into her mouth and washing it down with a sip of the drink.

She's serious suddenly as she looks back to Cassandra, repeating what she feels the other woman needs reassurance of. "It will be okay," Asi repeats, voice soft. "Both here and there."

Cassandra pays attention as they walk as much as she can, noting large landmarks, corridors, and graffiti sprayed on the wall that act as signposts, indicating that way to the gardens or this way to the docks with little cartoon gnomes standing atop signposts, pointing in the directions with word bubbles calling out. Some have been altered, of course, with the gnomes saying rude things, but it’s all in good fun and doesn’t obstruct the message that’s being given.

When they reach the drinking establishment, she brushes the curtain aside as she walks in, hesitating in the doorway to look around at the gathered people. Her attention moves to Asi when she jerks her head, indicating she should follow, and she does, keeping up with Asi as she moves to the table she’s claimed. It’s one near the back, just outside the radius of light coming from a fixture hanging from a slim wire, the two of them sitting in a small nimbus of darkness, able to look out easily without being easily seen.

“Last time was late. They were probably closed.” Cassandra says as she sits, scooting the lawn chair close to the table, resting her hands palm down on the weathered surface as drinks and a plate of roasted potatoes is brought. Taking a bite, Cassandra blows out a breath at the heat in the potato - those little starchy cubes hide a lot of heat beneath their browned exterior, and it’s quickly washed down with a small sip of…well…whatever it is, it’s strong, but it washes away the heat of the potato and combines with it in her stomach to give a pleasant sensation.

“I know.” Cassandra says. “But I don’t know, either. I have to believe it will be for all our sakes.”

"Last time was the middle of the afternoon," Asi replies quietly, brow furrowing more at herself than anything. She was the one who had been that far out of shape so early in the day, after all. She lets out a long sigh at remembering that situation, biding her time by eating. Her posture in the seat is more relaxed than usual, elbow against the side of the table.

Comforting things aren't something that come to mind easily, but she tries her best to summon a positive thought or two for Cassandra's sake. "ま…" she starts, glancing back up at her thoughtfully. "Just look forward to the pizza, perhaps." A small smile accompanies the phrase.

“Well, we were having a lovely conversation anyway, and didn’t need to be in public at that moment.” Cassandra remains seated, pacing herself, trading the liquor and water, going sip for sip. This stuff is considerably stronger than she’s used to and the fact that she’s not been drinking much at all over the past few years means that if she’s not careful, she might lose her inhibitions. The promise of pizza, though, gets her to smile. “Pizza.” She actually sits up a little, lifting her glass in a quiet toast. “That sounds wonderful.” She doesn’t know what to expect, but anything would be better than the meals they’ve been getting lately.

When Cassandra smiles, Asi's turns genuine. Feeling her work has been done, she looks back down over her food, taking her time in the moment. It occurs to her there's very little she has in the way of small-talk, herself. At least sober as she is. Her own hand dances between the water and the alcohol, indecisive. She ends up taking another sip regardless. "So what do you want to remember from here, hm?"

Small talk is good, though. Small talk allows those in the conversation to feel out limits, edges, and basically makes sure that information is shared but something improper isn’t. The liquor, whatever it is, slowly is drunk over the course of a few minutes, that familiar warm feeling starting to spread through Cassandra’s form as she waits for the pizza, snacking on the roasted potatoes. “There’s so much to remember from here.” she says, crossing one leg over the other, leaning back a little in her chair. “I think the library and all the work done to keep it going after the flood. Just goes to show that knowledge is something that can’t be kept down, no matter what the circumstances. And whoever managed to keep power running to this place…” She lets out a low whistle. “Just the sheer amount of ingenuity required to keep this place…ahem…afloat, no pun intended, is mind boggling.”

Hearing the appreciation for the work that's been done is something that makes her smile again. It was rare the work here was remarked on by outsiders fondly, instead of that fondness leading for them trying to take it for themselves. Asi scratches the side of her face as she looks Cassandra over. "Yeah, it is something. A lot of work, a lot of abilities have made the Pelago what it is." Suddenly, she's not seeing the woman in front of her, though. She blinks rapidly. "It's … foolish, really. The Vanguard changed the world, attempted to destroy us, left no government standing and yet…" Her eyes flicker back to the traveler. "It's us that stands the best chance of reclaiming what was. It's us that found a way."

Her smile's gone as she shakes her head, the humor found in that fact fleeting.

“I think that you’ve said all that needs to be said about that.” Cassandra reaches across the table to take Asi’s hand, giving it a light squeeze, sitting back again after a moment or two of that closeness. “Fear of the unknown makes people do foolish things. It makes people insanely short sighted and willing to sacrifice far, far too much to make their goals, no matter how insane, a reality. Vanguard and the Sentinels…” She shakes her head. “They were willing to sacrifice billions to get rid of the evolved ‘threat,’ and just look at how well that worked out for them. We’re still here, surviving, making our way in the world or, in my case, through the world to the next, and the entire pelago is moving to stand against them.”

She looks out of the conference room window, the setting sun on the horizon, the threat of the Sentinels over the horizon somewhere but coming here. “If I could see the future, I’d tell you what comes. You will get through this, somehow. We all will.” She turns to smile again at Asi. “You’ll get your corner office, surrounded by computers and technology. Hell, I bet that if you were given free reign, you’d have an internet up and running in a matter of months.”

Asi's brow twitches into an amused furrow as she holds back a laugh. Cassandra's endless, naive optimism always catches her off-guard. She reaches for her drink again, entertaining the thought for just a moment. Her. In an office. She's chuckling after taking a healthy drink, glancing back at the traveler. "Surrounded by whatever technology I can manage to find," she agrees, smile still on her lips. Her reply along the lines of the world needing far more useful things than internet when things were in the state they were goes unsaid as she takes another bite of squash.

"For not seeing the future, that's a pretty one you're painting." she remarks with a tilt of her head. "And what do you see for you?"

“That gets a little more fuzzy.” Cassandra says after a few moments of thinking. “I can guess, but it all depends on what kind of world we end up in.” Or if they even succeed in getting to the next one, but she doesn’t say that part out loud, to keep from bringing the mood down too terribly much. They’re both being very careful, it seems, to not spoil the mood between the pair of them. More of friends than associates now, it seems.

“This is a nice place.” A small subject change. “I guess every tower has its own little shop set up, here and there, like this? Where you can trade for food and drink and just socialize with friends?”

Since Cassandra can't see it for herself, Asi adopts a thoughtful expression. "You will…" she starts, leaning back in her seat. "Find some place where you are not the only optimist. You will find a place you can rest." Another bite is snagged, after which she adds, "A place someone like you deserves."

It was wishful thinking, if not an outright lie for what she saw in Cassandra's future. But a little feigned optimism wouldn't kill Asi, either.

She drinks again, either ignoring or not thinking her attempt at small talk worth acknowledging. The traveler would be moving on, after all, and as far as Asi was concerned every positive thing she could learn about this place was just another potential anchor. Another thing for her heart to grow fond of, to ache for, to want to help. And she had to go.

Cassandra snickers quietly at Asi's prediction. “Why not add in that I'll meet a tall, dark stranger and will go on a long journey? I'm sure there's someone who can roll the bones to see what our futures hold. We already know that one of those will definitely come true, though. A long journey of a few feet that will cover an eternity of time.” Girl has a way with words.

“Thanks, though. That's sweet, you wanting that for me.” Another touch for Asi’s hand across the table. “Truth be told, this isn't the worst place I've been. The last world was torn apart by anti-evo sentiment, with a giant war, disease, ability suppression, and it finally led to outright genocide. All this?” She lifts a hand to indicate this place, and the city in general. “The ruins of New York, what was left when we left, had just been turned into a giant radioactive crater. It's a lot worse off than being underwater, but not as good as home was…”

Asi being aloof about here, subtly moving conversations away so Cassandra doesn't grow attached, was easily missed. “What do you dream about, Asi? If the world could bend to your whim, right now, what would you do? Where would you go?” The lottery question.

Asi allows her hand to be taken, her own turning palm up limply. Her brow starts to knit at hearing just where Cassandra had been, just what it had been like when they escaped. It was apples to oranges, but that sort of world sounded like an absolute nightmare. A thought she'd lose herself in, were it not for the follow-up questions she's given.

"I don't often dream. Waking, I dream about a world in which we stopped the Vanguard." Who? Everyone, maybe. Did it matter? "A while back, I was so deep in my cups I could have sworn I'd seen it. Such a splitting headache afterward. But I saw myself in a workroom, could feel tech singing everywhere. The entire room was a projector — holographic controls, holographic views. I could feel —" Asi's eyes flutter in a blink as she recalls the sensation. Something had been nearby, something she had sensed. Like a gentle elephant treading the ground.

"so much going on." she finishes, unable to fully describe it. She smiles for a moment as she looks back to Cassandra. "It was impressive."

The smile fades, trading for a more thoughtful expression. "Here, though… Now… If I could do anything…" The corners of her mouth quirk. "There are a lot of people I would kill, Cassandra." She takes her time in ticking them off in groups, "The people who hurt my family, my home. The Sentinel who come now. I would find the Vanguard leader and torture him for the torture he's put the world through." Asi doesn't seem glum at all for it, enjoying the 'what ifs' because at least one aspect of them will soon come true — they will face and kill the Sentinel members who come for the Manhattan Archipelago. She settles, a more long-term idea passing by her. "… I would find a way to connect those who want to preserve the world and rebuild it. Each year that passes stands to put us years lost. Years with knowledge and resources that may never be recovered."

Asi pauses, shoulders lifting in a nonchalant shrug. "Little more than a pipe dream," she clarifies.

“Darkness and light. A good mix of the two. Not much more could be asked for or hoped for, but the beauty is that, one day, you will get to experience those things. What's the old saying? Wait by the river long enough and the body of your enemy will float by.” The whole torture thing, Cassandra doesn't agree with. After all, judging from the experiences she’s shared, she saw too much of it in her time dancing between worlds.

“Ignoring the impossible, the last two…those, I think, you have the best chance of achieving. Connecting those who are left, who are unafraid of the Vanguard, to rebuild the world and it's knowledge. If I were you, I'd see about finding the old museums beneath the water. Universities inland. Look for the old world left untouched by the ravages of war. Create the world you wish to see. Show the foolish the error of their ways and don't let this…” She turns her left arm up to show a long scar along the inside of her forearm. “Where they input the pump that would negate my ability. Don't let that happen to anyone here.”

"If I could get my hands on a well-powered radio tower with enough range to be heard across the ocean, we would attract as many pirates as pioneers," Asi replies, looking rueful for it. "As for the rest…" she would say more about the state of things inland, but the scar on Cassandra's arm causes her brow to furrow as she wonders… and it deepens as she understands. Fury courses through her expression, her hand on the table tightening into a fist. Most of the other world and its problems she's been able to put off any sentiment toward because it simply wasn't here — and there was enough to worry about here. Seeing its mark on Cassandra eliminated that distance entirely.

"Never," is the only thing she can swear in reply, her eyes dark and cold.

The moment of intensity doesn't exactly fade, but her anger becomes less prevalent in it. She reaches for Cassandra's arm, fingertips running over the scar. Her brow twitches, her voice very quiet as she asks, "They did this do you?" Asi didn't even know who they were. All she knows is she is suddenly, almost violently glad the last world Cassandra had seen went up in a nuclear explosion.

“They did.” Is all Cassandra can say, letting Asi touch the scar, watching finger move over the far paler incision site. “It was necessary to get to where we needed to be to jump. We surrendered and were processed into a facility that kept evolved separate. A ghetto, more or less. Hunger and thirst were rampant and we had to work to eat. Never enough, of course but…” Cassandra lets out a soft sigh. “We figured out a way. Found someone who could remove the negation pumps without triggering lethal allergic shock…we lost a lot of good people getting in, and most of us made it out, with a few hangers on. Squeaks. Lance and his little sister. A few others.”

The thought of a transmitter, broadcasting across the water, that brings another smile. “Once you win against the sentinel and take their ship…then you can start bringing the faithful home.”

"Better you are here than there." Asi says, the chill still in her voice. She amends after a moment, "… And better wherever you go next than here." Regardless of the slip, she doesn't pull her away, instead closing her hand over the scar to cover it over like the simple action could negate its existence. It takes her a moment to acknowledge what Cassandra's said regarding this world, but she finally does nod. It doesn't show, but the fixed point in the distance, that noble goal, gives her more to focus on than bloody revenge.

“When I was standing in front of the gate, before all this started…it was a leap of faith. I was so scared…” Cassandra's voice shudders at the memory, her free hand coming to rest atop Asi’s on her arm. “I was in the facility you saw, woke up from a deep sleep to find the whole place was under assault by people who wanted the technology we had. I had to make a choice. I could stay there and almost certainly be killed in a hail of gunfire or take the leap through the portal and see where I ended up, if I survived the trip at all. Since I'm sitting here, I guess you can figure out how that turned out.”

“That's the past, though. And can't hurt me anymore. Right now I'm here, with you, on the cusp of a new adventure, waiting on the first pizza I've had in almost a year. And I'm glad for that.”

Asi lets out a slow sigh, her pensive expression remaining. She's relieved Cassandra's looking forward, instead of nerves about it overtaking her. Her sandwiched hand rocks back and forth for a moment on the other's arm, squeezing her encouragingly. "Keep your wits about you when you sail. Sawyer's people are vicious." she cautions, her voice gradually softening. "Be ready to fight for yourself and the rest of you."

“I will.” Cassandra nods. “The whole fighting part? That's the part I'm not looking forward to. Optimistically, we might miss them in the storm, or just get lucky and only run into a single ship we can escape before more arrive.” She pauses. “But…and there's a big but there, it's better to plan for the worst and not need it than to plan for the best and encounter the worst.”

She has to look forward. If she doesn't, nerves will take over and she will be completely useless. Her ability isn't a combat-based one; the best she can do is addle senses of people coming into range, making them see things that aren't there. Not something she wants to try in the middle of a gunfight.

Speaking of gunfights, Cassandra leans in slightly, whispering. “If you know anyone who has some ammunition for sale, I'd love to talk to them before heading out. See about getting a few rounds of common ammunition. 7.62, 12 gauge shotgun shells, 9mm, 30.06 and .32. Stuff like that. In case we find a gun, we can use it. And if not, more trade fodder.

"Ever the optimist," Asi murmurs, turning her hand up to take Cassandra's, preparing to impart on her with more seriousness the kinds of things she's heard, the kinds of things she's seen done… but the traveler relents about preparations, and the woman holding onto her hand relaxes some.

The comment about needing ammunition makes her start to frown, though. "I don't have a gun, and those who do likely will not be willing to part with any ammunition without significant trade, given what lies ahead." She shakes her head slightly. "But… We could head back down, look, and go our separate ways if you are determined."

“It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.” the seer says with a smile in reference to her optimism. The mention of heading back down is met with a shake of her head in the negative, Cassandra straightening a little. “No, no. That's fine. If I end up going heading down to hunt down rare ammunition, I won’t be able to spend the afternoon with you. You do have to admit that sitting here is a lot more pleasant than pushing through the crowds in a bustling market, trying to find the last little bit that you need before armageddon hits.”

Cassandra looks out over the restaurant, the gathered people sitting quietly in conversations, groups of two or three, the soft murmur of talk drifting over towards the pair. “Besides, I don’t think I have the spoons to barter for something as valuable as ammunition at this point, either. It’ll probably do more good for the people here to have it than for me to have it on a boat ride to some undetermined destination.”

Asi's brow furrows as she attempts to stifle a smile and remain serious in the face of the brazen optimism, looking to the side to better bite her tongue. When Cassandra says she'd rather stay here, she looks back, an eyebrow quirked. Oh? Her head tilts to the side briefly, her only agreement that others here would likely need the munitions more.

"This is pleasant," she admits in a measured voice, "but…"

She quiets, looking down at the table. There's conflict in her eyes, one that's become gradually becoming more pronounced the longer they sit here. Asi finally lets out a sigh under her breath.

Apparently Cassandra’s unbridled optimism is starting to wear on Asi just a little. Just imagine if she used that power for nefarious reasons - she could bring empires to their knees with judicious use. And as the silence grows between the pair, the brown-headed seer finds herself sinking more into comfort.

“This is pleasant. No buts about it.” Cassandra counters, giving the other woman’s hand a gentle squeeze, leaning back a little in her seat as the pizza emerges from the oven in the back of the room, crispy and smelling of good things that aren’t very easy to find around here. “Unless I need to take a bath or something, and happen to not be pleasant company.”

Her dining partner stands, edging around the table to stand by her side. Asi gives a reluctant shake of her head as she looks down over her, ignoring the attempt at humor. Her voice is soft, not attempting to argue the semantics of the situation. "All things come to an end. Or rather, need to progress onward." There were preparations needing made, introductions needing finished, a new crew to integrate with. Eventualities to prepare for, other last words to edge in before they weren't able to be said.

Still, she lifts her hand to Cassandra's chin, resting the side of her knuckle under it. "I hope you make it, voyageur." she tells her sincerely.

Now finding herself in the unfamiliar position of looking up at someone, Cassandra sits quietly as Asi speaks. Things do end - it’s an inevitability of the world - but with Cassandra’s ability, the past can be as vivid as the present at a moment’s notice. She lifts her hands to cradle the other woman’s, lifting it to her lips for a soft kiss on the back of her fingertips. “It’s all I can do to right now, Messager.

She squeezes that hand gently. "Take what time you need to. You're stubborn and won't do otherwise anyway." Asi's eyes flicker with amusement before she looks back to the doorway. "There's much to do here yet. I'm not as altruistic as you are, either. There are other selfish things I need to see done tonight, too." She smiles without any real apology to it as she looks back again.

"Good luck," Asi wishes her, for a lack of a better thing to say.

“Good luck is when you’re prepared for opportunity. Bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality. I’m prepared. And I will.” Cassandra’s voice is soft, the server leaving the pizza on the table, sparing a glance to the pair obviously having a moment, before she heads back off to continue her work. And then, to her surprise, she stands and catches Asi’s chin beneath a curved finger, leaning in and kissing the other woman on the mouth lightly. “Until we meet again in our dreams, Asi.”

Asi starts to smile, glad to hear the stern determination in her words to make her own luck. When the traveler stands it stills, curiosity in her gaze as she watches Cassandra lean in. After their lips brush, she nests the side of her head against hers for just a moment. Only that long, to not grow too comfortable and change her course. She lets out a thoughtful note at the parting words.

"その時まで," she murmurs, an apparent echo of Cassandra's sentiment.

There's reluctance to pull away, but Asi does. Instead of saying anything else, she brushes a stray hair from Cassandra's face with a quick smile. There's a flurry of minute shifts in her eyes, looking the other woman over with the intent to commit her to memory, seeing as soon, one way or another, that's all that would remain. It seems like she does mean to speak, is even at the point of forming words, but they're dashed as she presses a kiss to the traveler's cheek and turns on her heel to go.

She's not good at farewells.

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