A Time For Action


charity_icon.gif eileen2_icon.gif kara_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title A Time For Action
Synopsis Kara and Yi-Min return with news, only to discover someone has come to Providence…
Date April 8, 2019

Sunken Factory

The factory is dark.

That’s not at all unusual. Eileen has strong opinions about light pollution and the importance of secrecy; apart from the low, flickering glow that illuminates the edges of windows and is only visible within a few hundred yards of the building, there are few outward indications that it’s even occupied, let alone the home base of Providence’s friendly neighborhood militia.

As Chris tends to their horses and stables them for the night, Kara and Yi-Min climb the gnarled concrete steps that lead inside. It stopped raining some time ago, leaving only shallow puddles and muddy footprints to commemorate the earlier downpour. Now the springtime air is warm, balmy and fragrant, carrying the honeyed smell of wildflowers and saltwater on a gentle breeze.

Still: Something feels different, and not in the way that the homestead had felt different when they crested the hill overlooking the tumbledown family barn on their morning patrol.

Maybe that’s because it’s Charity who greets them at the door. Whatever the situation at home, it must not be dire because she’s dressed in her nightgown and a silk kimono tied at the waist. Fuzzy slippers fashioned from a strange combination rabbit fur and some sort of sleek synthetic material protect her small, pedicure-perfect feet from the factory’s interior chill.

“You are expected,” she says, when she really could have just began with hello. “Eileen wonders where you both have been.” If there’s an accusation there — and there is — it’s a playful one. A smile crooks up in the corner of her petite mouth.

Because of course she knows about how they’ve otherwise been choosing to spend their time. That’s why Eileen and Iago keep her around.

"On patrol." Kara answers, ignoring the glance and all of its subtext. Equally terse is her followup, "We found something." What exactly isn't mentioned, because either Charity has seen that, or Kara will have the satisfaction of giving her a look of exaggerated disappointment when she asks. She has quietly-held opinions about the woman's ability and what value it actually has.

Her steps pause as she considers the gut feeling she has that something is slightly off, trying to divine what that might be. They were expected had an odd air to it. She continues to look past Charity for signs of Eileen or others, turning to the clairvoyant only as a last resort.

"Any news?" she asks, slipping the rifle off her shoulder to hold it by its body. If the answer is no, then maybe she'll have enough time to store the weapon back in the armory before seeing what Eileen wants.

As they reach the top of the entryway together, Yi-Min gives a slightly impressed sideways glance to Kara when she manages to answer Charity's jibing in a perfectly unfazed manner.

But it is the correct reaction. Of all the interests occupying a space in Yi-Min's mind, including the sensation of something elusive but vital having changed in their environment— which she is tracking, attempting to figure out— Charity Thornton ranks somewhere beneath the composting she is doing in her lab to dispose of organically based residues.

A skeptical look does grow on her face when the Frenchwoman is asked for news; if they receive an answer that is any less snarky or more useful than the first, it will be a true miracle. She does not bother to unsling her own rifle from her back, yet.

"Eileen knows very well where we've been," is something dry she bothers to say, because this would be true. "But you can run along in those ugly slippers and tell her we're on our way."

“Or,” Charity suggests, a little more mildly, “I can show you to her.”

She tips her chin in the direction of the corridor that leads to one of the larger chambers on the factory’s ground floor, among the first renovated and repurposed upon their arrival here. Most evenings, it’s used as a communal gathering space where the weary can either warm themselves by the fire or retreat to play cards around squat wooden tables and mismatched furniture arrangements salvaged from the region’s nearby ghost towns.

Liquor flows freely there, as it had in the courtyard during the celebration thrown to honor Chris, and even from the other end of the hallway they should already hear voices floating down the corridor. Except that they don’t.

The common room’s doors are closed.

Charity leads them both in that direction anyway, in those ugly slippers.

The Remnant participated infrequently in blatant closed-door discussions. Community consensus, or the illusion of it, acted as a driver for the community's movement.

Charity didn't answer Kara's question, at least not directly, but the sight of the shut doors indicate there's conversation occurring where outside eyes and ears are unwanted — whether that be from the observer, or the other conversationalists. Given the state of affairs here didn't sound grave — yet — there's an easy assumption to make here.

"Who are our guests?" Kara asks in the same even, down-to-business tone as before. In contrast to that is the look she casts back toward Yi-Min, disapproval of the goading comment visible before she looks back to the common room.

Yi-Min had not meant to goad. She had literally not meant to anything, given how little she cares about Charity, which is why she briefly meets Kara's look with what amounts to a minute shrug of innocence in her expression. That the third woman is actually performing a useful function for once is appreciated, however, and soon Yi-Min's attention too falls back on the direction in which they are all heading.

The relevant question had been spoken for her. She is silent, meanwhile, pensive and alert in her own unreadable fashion.

“Old money,” is Charity’s answer. Kara at least knows she isn’t purposely being obtuse; this is just the way her brain works. Or rather the way her ability has conditioned her brain to work. “There is blood under his fingernails,” she says, “but it is dried, a long time ago. He wears his remorse like a badge of honour. A strange thing for a man to be proud of, I think.”

As they draw closer to the common room, she holds up a thin, angular hand, gesturing for silence. She’s as curious about what’s happening on the other side of the door as they are.

“One percent of the population is a vanishingly small number of supporters.” The voice is muffled, masculine, almost frail in spite of its intensity. Charity was apparently being quite literal when she used to word old to describe their visitor. “It's only a matter of time before that number reaches zero.”

It reminds Yi-Min of dust. Maybe that’s because she’d relegated it to a neglected, cobwebby corner of her memory. She knows this man, even if she can’t assign a name or a face to his voice.

“We aren't an endangered species!” That’s Eileen, throaty and hoarse; although she isn’t shouting, it sounds like it’s taking her a great deal of effort not to. “We're human fucking beings, the same as you. So you can take the divisive rhetoric and bury it with the rest.”

If Charity's indication to hold wasn't enough to make Kara pause, Eileen's raised voice does the trick. Her jaw works in silence, gaze sliding to the nosy clairvoyant first before she carefully, quietly shifts her feet to look back to Yi-Min next. What she overhears keeps her from reaching for the door right away. However expected they might be, Eileen was in the process of driving home a passionate message.

Far be it from Kara to interrupt her thunder.

Kara doesn't recognize the sound of the old blood, and quirks a brow in Yi-Min's direction to silently query if she does.

More unexpected helpfulness from Charity, in her own way. Yi-Min indicates subtle but ungrudging appreciation by studying her when she says it, storing the words to go over them as the trio attains their destination.

Even well before the halt is called for, her attention has shifted onto the closed door from a far distance, careful and seeking in early observance. She looks away only when she feels Kara's eyes on her and answers the glance smoothly with one of her own, those few seconds conveying a great deal of meaning. Recognition, if not complete. Intent, also— that of lending support, of seeing for themselves what is happening.

If Eileen had truly been wondering where they were, she will have to wonder no longer.

Yi-Min calmly eases open the imposing door, her dark eyes piercing straight into the vastness of the room, and enters.

“Maybe human by the strictest definition. But no ordinary human being can do what you do. There is a clear genetic difference between you, and me. That is precious, that is what gives you strength, wisdom, vision.”

With the doors open the source of the old man’s voice is clear, coming from a tall and dangerously thin old man dressed entirely in heavy black clothing that once may have been chic fashion. But the seams on his suit have seen better days, the holes in his wool coat are stitched by a hand not belonging to a tailor. In spite of this, he carries himself with determined certainty and strength. His eyes, downcast to Eileen’s hand gripping his arm, are patient. Their proximity at a weathered table nearly as old as Sharrow is intimate and not as sharp as raised voices may have implied. Their posture, both, is more familial.

Because, in a way, they are.


Charles Sharrow is a specter from Yi-Min’s past, immediately recognizable as soon as she sees his weathered features. He's a little thinner than she remembers, but the years between 70s and 80s has done little else to his countenance. “I only want what's best for you,” Sharrow says as he rests a hand atop Eileen’s, turning his attention to the new arrivals with a slowly raised brow.

Kara studies Sharrow intently as she first enters the room, pauses, wordlessly passes her gun from one hand to the other. There's something about the scene that jars her — the way this world manifests in him, hand on Eileen From Her World, and insists it knows best. Her grip shifts around the stock.

She carefully lays the weapon aside next to the doorway, letting it prop itself up, and in so doing lays aside that potentially misplaced frustration in the stranger. The fresh, jagged gashes across the flesh between almost all of her knuckles is visible as she sets it down, the wound looking apt to start bleeding again. It crinkles as she moves her hand, much like the dried mud on her pantlegs crinkles as she steps away from the wall.

"Need a word," Kara says to Eileen directly, not so much as giving Sharrow a second glance, nor saying what exactly it is in front of the stranger.

As she takes one light footstep into the room, then several more, Yi-Min lets the doors to the rest of the factory drift shut again behind their backs without bothering to check up on whether Charity had trailed them in. Her gaze instinctively hovers first on Eileen, ascertaining her state, and then upwards to the almost grandfatherly figure bent over her. There is a note of instant comprehension when it hits this point: despite having heard that voice from out in the hallway, now that she has a face and memories to attach to it, the association has become a more fraught one.

In contrast to Kara, when Yi-Min speaks out, it is definitely to address the fragile visage of Sharrow first. "Sharrow xiansheng," she says a frank sort of civility as she looks at him. The ingrained courtesy of her greeting is a throwback to the dynamics of the working relationship they had once shared, when even she had found it difficult to buck all cultural norms of respect. Not that she had really desired to, with him.

But that had been then. In the present, the story had long begun to write itself into unexpected twists, with an ending left wide open. "You have come a long way to us. To what do we owe this visit?"

Eileen appreciates Yi-Min’s instincts, not only because they are perfectly aligned with her own, but because they afford her the opportunity to shift her focus to Kara without completely abandoning Sharrow. She squeezes the old man’s hand through the soft calfskin of her glove to communicate that she hasn’t yet let this disagreement come between them, and — unmoored — drifts away from his side.

Her footfalls carry her across the room to the lithe, willowy blonde, whose posture reminds her of a poplar tree: tall, lean, elegant in spite of its uneven edges.

When Kara says that she wants a word, Eileen assumes she means in private. And although she’s unwilling to excuse herself from the room for as long as Yi-Min and Sharrow both occupy it, she makes an effort to keep her voice low when she asks, “What’s wrong?”

Because something must be. Worried eyes look to the gash across the back of her knuckles and the dried blood caked between them. “What happened?”

Sharrow grows quiet, watching the exchange between Eileen and Kara with one raised brow. It’s only when he gets the general tone of their interaction that he languidly swivels his attention over to Yi-Min. “I apologize, my Mandarin was never that good. I’m more a fan of the romantic languages, but it is good to see you again.”

“I’m here to offer my assistance to you, to Providence, to your kind.” Sharrow’s gray brows crease together, his chin alights and he regards Yi-Min the way someone might a prospective recruit during a time of war. “Things have changed since our time, Yi-Min. I am not the man you once knew, nor do I represent the organization you once knew. I come bearing the blessings of the Sentinel,” he says with the most mild of smiles, “and the word of Kazimir the Redeemed, in the hopes of setting things right.”

“But perhaps most pragmatically,” Sharrow says with an incline of his head, “I have come with money and strong hands.” Not his, surely. “To help Eileen, to help your community.”

Of course Yi-Min knows the stranger. Of course another member of the Vanguard would show up the same day they discovered what they had at the old barn. Kara shoots a glance at the interchange that happens, Yi-Min replacing Eileen, and decides to take what she can get as far as privacy goes. She waits until the other two are speaking before she replies in an equally low tone, "Best as we can tell, the intruders came back and used the Kauffman farm as an experiment. They broke in, killed the patriarch, gathered the rest of the family — maybe some others — in their barn and locked them in."

For just a moment, she glances to the other conversation before returning her gaze to Eileen, jaw set. "They lured the machine to Providence. There's nothing left of the barn, nothing left of them. Just like Shih. Some of the kids got into a cellar underground and made it, but the rest— " Kara shakes her head to finish the end of that statement, her voice still just above a murmur. "We need to get moving on that plan, and we need to get the community together to get the word out: Keep the groupings of Evolved to a low number to avoid attracting it back again."

She pauses for only a moment, tongue on the tip of her teeth as she tries to lessen the bite of what she implores next. "This isn't the time for fucking around with old Vanguard associates. Unless the preacher has anything he can produce within a day, send him off."

Such is the hand that fate has dealt them. Yi-Min is not surprised, at least. Huo bu dan xing. Misfortune never comes alone.

But does this have to be so? There is the slightest of smiles from Yi-Min back at the venerable old man, a tiny, considering thing that just barely extends the line of her lips outwards and conveys a nominal amount of acquiescence. "Mr. Sharrow," she clarifies very simply of the address she had made, perceiving the inaudible mutter of Kara's more heated tones to Eileen farther away from her but not turning her head to look.

The approach may not have been particularly tailored to her, but within the reaction to it, Sharrow may see that there lies more inherent potential for acceptance from Yi-Min. If there is something that he might remember of her from their days together, it is that she had been both pragmatic and earnestly cause-driven. But there are many questions in the cryptic coolness of her gaze, even if old familiarity does soften it at the edges.

"You must speak in far less lofty terms. First of all, where do these promises come from? And why the change of heart from before?" Another thing he may well remember of her is that she deeply appreciates words that are plainly spoken.

Eileen’s expression darkens as Kara details the sequence of events that brought her and Yi-Min here. Her jaw works but her mouth does not move; Kara can see something happening behind her eyes without a full understanding of what that something is, only that it does not bode well for the intruders.

The Englishwoman would probably use a stronger word.

Under normal circumstances, she might hesitate and wait for Sharrow to answer Yi-Min’s carefully measured queries rather than bombard him with additional questions.

These are not normal circumstances.

“How many men do you have with you?” she asks him in a steelier voice than the velvet murmur she’d reserved for Kara. As she does, she turns enough to address Sharrow with more than just her angular profile. More matters than his answer to this; she wants a good look at his face when he speaks to Yi-Min’s concerns, because they are hers as well.

Sharrow blinks a look away from Yi-Min without answering her question and his attention comes to settle on Eileen. “Twenty,” Sharrow says, “it was forty before that unfortunate incident in New Jersey with your… friends.” But what happened in Atlantic City feels like a lifetime ago to Eileen, and in many ways was. “What I brought with me are primarily those without abilities, and I fear the ones I do have who are more than human will not avail you against what sounds like artificial opponents.”

Turning his attention back to Yi-Min, Sharrow merely offers her a grandfatherly smile. “I would be glad to discuss that with you at greater length, my dear, once your apparent crisis has been remedied.” It is with that promise that Sharrow looks back to Eileen. “I would be glad to lend assistance to your community, in exchange for being permitted to stay here and further discuss the future with you, at a less… trying time? Now is the time for action, words can come later.”

Sharrow steps closer to Eileen, laying a hand on her shoulder much in the way Kazimir used to. “Whatever you need, I will do my best to deliver to you in the time you have.”

It'll have to do. Kara can save airing her suspicions for a later day. Sharrow was right — this was a trying time. Her eyes slide past him, settling on Yi-Min as she works through keeping her silence about the old man's mannerisms, his insistence on touching and, in her eyes, belittling Eileen even in his apparent deference to her.

He was, after all, donating twenty men toward their crisis.

"Gray," Kara interjects quietly, turning back Eileen's way. "Was there anything on this end?" It may end up being there wasn't — perhaps Charity's earlier remark that they'd been missed was little more than an announcement of something she'd intuited.

Otherwise, her posture states, she would be going.

"It is a conversation that I am looking forward to," Yi-Min says smoothly to Sharrow, but there is a brusque steel of promise in her tone. That actions are more important than words now is something that can be agreed to by them all, at least, even if the latter is not something she will soon be forgetting about.

Otherwise, she too watches Sharrow impassively as he rests his frail hand on Eileen, her expression as impossible to gauge as before, despite there remaining something aloof and catlike about it.

There would be talks to be had later, and not just with the old man.

She holds her peace aside from this, the picture of guarded patience as she waits for any further words to be heard, especially from Eileen.

“We did not consolidate power in the West through inaction,” Eileen says. “The Kaufmanns are dead because we’ve waited too long to make similar moves out here in the East.”

She reaches up to place her own hand atop Sharrow’s withered one. “Kara: Take Sharrow’s men into the deep woods. Find who did this and kill them.”

Her straightened back and squared shoulders leave little room for interpretation. She means all of them.

“Leave their bodies to rot where they fall. Let the smell be a warning to anyone else who thinks they can inflict death without inviting it back home with them.”

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