All The Rowboats


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Scene Title All The Rowboats
Synopsis When Kimiko Nakamura learns of Claudia Zimmerman's kidnapping, it sets off an unexpected chain of events.
Date February 12, 2020

Yamagato Building

Yamagato Park

Despite the fact that she arrived home to sleep around 4:00 AM, she stands tall and alert even as the clock reads 5:58 AM. Kaydence steps off the elevator and walks through the reception area that serves as an antechamber to her office, eyes sweeping the empty space. Her secretary won’t be in for another two hours. The sun has yet to rise, but the stars are fading even more than the neon lights of the city already cause them to.

The door slides open to grant her admission based on her credentials. The lights gradually come up, just enough to illuminate her way through the expansive glass-walled space. Kay hesitates in the middle of the room, struck by the view out those windows. Her windows.

“Good morning, Jiba.” Brown eyes scan the room as though she might find some physical evidence of the AI’s presence, even if she’s always taken it for granted that it’s simply there. Kay resumes her stride, setting her shoulder bag on the polished surface of her desk. The glass is dimmed for the moment, since she hasn’t stirred the computer to life just yet.

Routine dictates that the next thing she does is sit down and start addressing any missives that were too important to respond to on her phone, state-of-the-art though it may be. Instead, she crosses her way to the window.

How many times had she found Kam Nisatta standing in this exact spot, staring out at this same sky?

Give or take a few stars, is she staring out at this sky right now?

Kay can’t decide whether that notion would bring her comfort or not. Her muted reflection stares back at her, but she stares past it to that skyline she inherited.

It’s like Snow White’s coffin.

Good morning Ms. Damaris, Jiba’s voice fills the air with warmth. I have started your coffee and prepared your emails. You have 16 new messages on your voicemail. One of which is from President Nakamura, it was sent 12 minutes ago.

It would seem as though Kay isn’t the only one burning down her life in pre-dawn hours.

“That’s convenient,” the director murmurs, lips pursing faintly. Her vision refocuses, the skyline obscures as though photographed for bokeh effect. She studies her face briefly, draws in a breath. “You can call me Kay, if you want to.”

It’s a little thing, but Asi said a little reaching out is likely to go a long way. She’ll find out how true that will or will not hold for her.

“And, ah…” Kay sighs heavily. “Play the message from Ms. Nakamura, please.”

As you request, Kay.

There’s a soft chime, followed by a deep and breathy sigh. The voicemail plays from several speakers concealed around Kay’s desk. «Damaris,» Kimiko says with the quality of voice someone has when they’ve only just woken up. There’s a soft chime across the office in mid-playback. «Secretary Zimmerman was kidnapped. I just received word from SESA to confirm, they were checking on Barbara. I’m on my way to the office. I’ll»

“Meet you there,” is heard in multiple layers as Kimiko Nakamura comes stalking out of the elevator. Kimiko doesn’t look like she’s slept, there are dark circles around her eyes and her hair isn’t as immaculate as it usually is. She has forsaken heels for flats, nails undone, she has all of the posture of a woman who has put herself together but is not in fact together at all. Kay has never once seen her like this.

With her back to the door, Kay hopes Kimiko isn’t able to see the way the sudden layering of voices shoots a jolt of fear straight down her spine that absolutely shows on her face in a widening of her eyes a sudden slackness to her jaw. A steady breath puts herself back together. “Thank you, Jiba. You can stop playback.”

Darting her tongue between her lips, Kay pivots on her heel, prepared to greet her employer with a smile, in spite of the dire nature of the news presented. “Ms. Nakamura, I—” The sight of her is not encouraging. That smile falls away, and she has to debate for a moment how much or how little to let her poker face slip.

Telling the boss she looks like hell is probably not a wise career move.

“What do you need from me?”

“Data,” is Kimiko’s firm but breathless response. She comes in like she is riding a bolt of lightning, carrying an uncharacteristic coffee in one hand, which she sets on Kaydence’s desk before sitting down on the corner of the desk in a remarkably casual gesture, resting her shoulder bag down on the floor. “Jiba, what camera assets does the city have installed in and around the Clocktower Building?”

Unfortunately, Ms. Nakamura, there are Zero cameras in the area. The Clocktower Building has private cameras, but I am unable to access them due to security parameters placed on me.

Kimiko pinches the bridge of her nose with forefingers and thumb, then looks up and over to Kay. “I need to know who moved on the Deveaux Society,” sounds like this was a personal offense to her, even though there’s barely a thread connecting Yamagato and the Deveaux Society. Even Barbara Zimmerman only works for the Department of Energy and liaisons with Yamagato, her connection is simply by blood. Perhaps that could be enough, but it seems unusual. “I need to know who kidnapped Claudia Zimmerman, I need to know when, and I need to know it yesterday.”

Kimiko’s voice cracks and she nearly knocks over her coffee, gesturing as she does to punctuate her sentence. In all her years of service, Kay has never seen her like this.

It occurs to Kay to possibly ask for some kind of assurance or confirmation of Kimiko’s identity. That she is who she appears to be. In a world of illusionists and shapeshifters and god only knows what else

But she got through security to get here, and they required more than just wearing the right face. The hesitation ends and Kay steps away from the window and toward her desk. “Well, as it happens, I have an insider at Deveaux.” She smiles tightly. Whether that insider is going to say two words to her is uncertain. Thanks to the woman sitting on the corner of her workspace.

Though she pushes her chair out from her desk, she doesn’t sit. Instead, Kay leans forward, resting her hands on on the glass surface and the displays spring to life in an instant. “I can arrange a meeting. I imagine they’ll be just as keen to figure out who’s fucking with them as you are.”

Her head tilts slightly, she corrects herself: “As we are.” As always, the desires of Yamagato Industries are her desires as well.

“Jiba, clear my calendar, if you please. And can you please call my daughter and have her pull my car around up front? Tell her to go back home when she’s done. I’ve got my keys, she can take hers.” Because wouldn’t that be the pits, to have her car stolen from the front drive?

I’ll be right on it, Kay. Jiba chimes in quickly.

Kimiko hides her face behind her paper coffee cup, sipping at it with a subtly trembling hand. Her dark eyes wander the floor of Kay’s office for a moment, then angle back up to the woman who has taken over for Kam Nisatta. It feels like every day a piece of the empire Kimiko built up is being chipped away, but this is something else entirely. “Did you ever meet Jae?” She asks, looking back to a distant point in space.

“Thanks, Jiba.”

Kay allows Kimiko the space and dignity to go through her emotions, turning her attention instead to the glass cases left behind by her predecessor and the relics held within. She walks the rows without comment until the other woman finally speaks up.

Looking up, the tip of one nail is still touching the glass even as she looks away. “Yes,” she confirms softly. “Of course.” If this is what has Kimiko so upset, Kay can’t even begin to blame her. She knows better than most the horrible pain she must be experiencing.

It makes her think about Spencer. She hasn’t done that in a long time.

“He was always kind to me.” Not everyone affiliated with Yamagato Industries is.

“We had a daughter,” is something no one knew about Kimiko. She looks over to Kay, tension in every facet of her expression. “Ami,” she says in a single breath, the way someone might describe a season in one word. “We adopted her after the Fukushima earthquake. Kept her out of the public light. We— we wanted her to grow up safe. To have a normal life.”

Kimiko’s grip on her coffee cup dimples the paper. She closes her eyes, a vein at her right temple now visible. “After the bombing, after Jae…” she doesn’t finish the sentence. “I had Ami brought to the states and made a deal with the Deveaux Society to hide her from Adam.” When Kimiko opens her eyes and looks up to Kay, there are tears in them. It is a level of compromise Kay has never experienced from Yamagato’s CEO.

“If Adam did this,” Kimiko says with a hoarseness to her voice, “if he hurts her…”

Silence hangs between them for a moment. Kay processes this new information, mouth shut firmly around all the wrong things to say. And even when she does trust herself to finally speak, she’s not certain she’ll ever come up with the right things. “You should’ve told me. We could have protected her. I could have—”

No, that was definitely not the right way to begin.

“Alright,” she pronounces. “So what’s happened has happened. You’re sure he has her?” She’s watching Kimiko live out Kay’s worst nightmare before her eyes. If anyone threatened her daughter… Well, this is precisely why her relationship with ‘Ella is so strained. She’s always made that distance. Tried to keep her safe that way.

“I’m going to get her back.” Would Yamagato put their resources together if the same had happened to her? It doesn’t matter, does it? Kay is determined. “Get your purse. We’re going for a ride.”

Kimiko wipes one hand down her mouth, leaving her half-finished cup of coffee on Kay’s desk where a brown ring forms against the glossy white surface. “I don’t know,” is Kimiko’s belated and distracted answer as she bends down to pick up her purse. “I don’t know. I tried to call the security detail they attached to her and it— I didn’t get through. Claudia knew,” Kimiko says with a hitch in her voice, “she knows where Ami is.”

Fear and guilt each take a seat on Kimiko’s shoulders as she seems to be framing herself as the reason why the Deveaux Society was hit. “Where…” she starts to ask, adjusting the shoulder strap of her purse before realizing she’s already following Kay. “Where’re we going?”

“Well, first priority is we’re going to get you the hell out of here. You need to be somewhere you don’t have to be Kimiko Fucking Nakamura,” Kay insists. “So that means we’re going to go downstairs, get into my car, and we’re going to drive somewhere and watch the sun come up while you tell me everything you know.”

That coffee’s going to— Well, it doesn’t matter. Better it pool on her desk than soak the boss’ clothes.

Kay marches back to her desk and grabs her own bag, holding the handles at her side and canting her head toward the door. “I need you to trust me,” she tells her. “Before you ever came along, I spent my life chasing down bad guys. I can do this if you trust me to do it my way.”

Kimiko’s expression is one of placid uncertainty, trying to hide the tempest raging inside of her head. She looks aside, to the glass antique cases lining the office walls, vestiges of Kam Nisatta’s decor choices. She looks back to Kaydence, with her only recognition being a wordless nod of assent.

Not Long Later

Kaydence’s Car
Yamagato Park

Kimiko hadn’t said much on the way out of the building. She made a purposeful detour to avoid passing by Eizen’s office, telling Kay all she needed to about her current state of mind without needing to use words. Now, she seems just as disinclined to talk, elbow propped up on the door beside the window, forehead resting against the splayed fingers of her right hand, eyes unfocused as she looks vacantly out the passenger side window.

It’s unseasonably warm today. The snow that was supposed to come is falling as rain now, streaking in forking paths down the glass. The rhythmic electronic swish of the windshield wipers are the backdrop to Kay and Kimiko’s non-conversation, though it’s clear enough to Kay that Kimiko is waiting for her to start the conversation.

Kay allows Kimiko her silence for a time. She remembers not wanting to talk. Not knowing where to even begin. It isn’t until they’re in they’re beyond the limits of Yamagato Park and on the streets of New York City proper that she attempts to chip away at the ice.

“You need to tell me more about Monroe.” It has to start somewhere, so she’s starting it there. “Who is he? Why does he want to hurt you so badly?” Sure, Kimiko has enemies, but they should be people like Yao Sze. “I understand that whatever it is, it’s going to be deeply personal.” These sorts of acts of terror aren’t done just because. “But anything helps. People like him, they…”

There’s a pause for a breath and a red light before she turns right onto Kings Highway. “They like to retrace steps. Significant places or events. They dwell in the past, and that’s why they do these things.”

If Kay only knew.

“It’s not a fucking Rubik’s cube, Kay.” Kimiko says those words at the window, flat and exhausted. “My father had him imprisoned for decades. He perceives that the Company betrayed him in ways I don’t even understand. My brother…” she closes her eyes and shakes his head. “My brother only fueled that resentment. Adam has always hated the Nakamuras. I’m the last of our bloodline left…” to which she adds in a small voice, “presumably.

Closing her eyes, Kimiko leans away from the window and looks across the car to Kay. “His motivations are selfish, short-sighted, petty things. Because that’s the man he is. He is a cruel, stupid, and violent psychopath with a bruised ego. I’m certain we’ve both dated those men.” She says in an attempt to defuse some of her own tension with a joke. Another thing Kay has never seen or heard her do.

“I don’t know,” Kimiko says with a deep sigh. “He’s become a cipher to me since the bombing. It’s like… it’s like he’s playing poker, covering his hand, playing a bluff. When he came after me during the bombing, when he…” she looks down to her leg, then her hand. “When he butchered me, I understood him. It was the same demon I’ve been chasing all my life.”

Kimiko looks over to Kay, brows furrowed. “After the bombing, something changed. There was a security breach I… don’t think you knew about. It was when Kam was still with us. Eizen helped handle it.” She looks back to her prosthetic hand, slowly opening and closing her fingers. “My family had a secure vault, in the mountains of India. My father kept some of his most dangerous possessions there. Adam and his people infiltrated it in May of last year. He left everything.”

Slowly, Kimiko rests her prosthetic hand on the armrest. “Everything except a penny encased in glass.” Her attention shifts to Kay. “It is a… storage device, for psychically-imprinted memories. I wasn’t aware of that then, but I am now. Adam must have somehow gleaned information off of it. Changed his tactics based on it. But I don’t know what it could be. What he learned. My father kept no records of it.”

“We moved the vault,” Kimiko says in a small voice. She makes no offer to tell Kay where to.

Kay’s been shot at many times over the years. Getting dumped by Matt Parkman was the deadliest bullet she’s ever dodged. Her fingers grip the wheel a little tighter as she considers the ramifications that would have come from being Mrs. Parkman in this world. She doesn’t even consider insisting that he had been a good man once. Once upon a time doesn’t change the narrative.

“Sometimes,” Kay muses airily, “I’m not sure why you bother keeping me on the payroll. Or why you supply any electricity at all to my office. You seem to like keeping me in the dark.” But Kimiko flexes her own artificial fingers and Kay is reminded just how not about her this whole situation is. And she’s telling her now, so that counts for something.

The car slows to a stop outside of an apartment building in Phoenix Heights. “This is a safehouse,” Kay says simply. “Once we get inside, I can get in contact with my person at Deveaux. I’ll piece together what happened and work on finding Ami.” Revenge for all the pain inflicted can come later. That child and her safety come first.

The mechanisms inside the doors click audibly as Kay presses the button to unlock them. Her door pops open after she habitually glances to make sure there isn’t another vehicle coming to pass on the left. “Come on.”

Kimiko remains quiet as she gets out of the car, looking back in the direction of Yamagato Path to the south before she shuts the door. Her stare wanders up to the building, her eyes keeping secrets of her own interpretations. “Kaydence,” Kimiko says flatly, standing beside the car. Her attention levels down across the vehicle to the blonde. “What’s going on?”

Gone is Kimiko’s wistful tone, her worry, there is the steely certainty of the CEO Kaydence has served for years coming out clear now. Perhaps the drive helped clear Kimiko’s head, perhaps Kay’s confidence actually had made things easier for her. But now, outside of the relative safety of her proverbial ivory tower, she questions just where it is Kaydence has brought her. It was the word safehouse that did it. To Kimiko, there is nowhere safer than Yamagato Park, behind walls of security and in the enveloping embrace of Jiba’s all-seeing eye.

Here, in Phoenix Heights, there isn’t even reliable water.

It takes a moment before Kay realizes Kimiko isn’t following behind her. It’s when her name is spoken, not entirely unlike the way her father says it when she’s gotten on his nerves, that she stops and turns back.

“I am not stupid enough to betray you, Ms. Nakamura,” Kay tells her with some sense of resignation. Seeing Kimiko with her armor back on is enough to put her on edge. Enough to give her a healthy dose of fear. “I am not going to wind up in some fucking hole in Yonkers with a bullet in my head like my husband, because I wouldn’t play the goddamn game.”

The fob that will allow her SUV to activate is held up for a moment, long enough for Kimiko to register what it is. “You want to leave? Fine. Here’s the keys. But you hired a detective to do this job. I have sources and connections all over this city. We were bombed on our own fucking home turf.” Her arm sweeps out in the direction of Yamagato Park. “Our fortress is not impregnable. Everybody needs a safe place to fall back to, and this one is mine.”

Damaris stands there then, jaw set tight against all the emotion and the passion she’s just thrown out. “You can come with me and we can look for answers together. Or you can go back and try to do it without me. You’re the boss.”

There’s a weird hum that comes from Kimiko’s prosthetic hand when she curls her delicately sculpted fingers into a fist, then relaxes them. She closes her eyes, breathing in deep and then exhaling a sigh through her nose. The hum fades and Kimiko relaxes that fist, turning a dark-eyed look back to the neon glow of Yamagato Park in the distance, only to return a more troubled one to the building they’ve parked in front of.

Kimiko’s assent to this predicament is acknowledged only with a curt nod and her return to forward movement. She catches up to Kay and follows a few steps behind her, the smooth cadence of her procession interspersed by a whirr-click-tk with every other step, coming from the servos in her mechanical leg. Kimiko follows up the granite steps of the tenement building, looking at how many windows are lit versus how many aren’t, her pupils widening to saucers for a moment before narrowing to pinpoints, then normalizing again.

Kay doesn’t expect the cold, firm grip of a mechanical hand at her right elbow before she opens the front doors to the tenement building’s lobby. Kimiko holds that arm with a firm but gentle grip. “Kam Nisatta was an extenuating circumstance,” she says with an adamant tone and unblinking eye contact. It isn’t unrelated, so much as it is an assurance that Kay will not end up like her late husband.

As Kimiko releases her grip from Kay’s elbow, she adds quietly, “proceed.”

For a moment, Kay wonders if she’s about to be blown away with an energy blast like Iron Man when that hum resonates from Kimiko’s arm. It shows in the parting of her lips and the widening of her eyes. But she’s always been determined to die with her boots on, and so she holds still, waiting.

The hum fades and Kaydence lets out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. Swallowing uneasily, she turns and leads the way up to the building. The grip on her arm has her flinching, eyes lidding for a moment while her lips press together and she draws in a deep steadying breath through her nose before turning to look at Kimiko with a neutral expression.

Kimiko’s gaze, darker than Kay’s own, is held. It’s clear she’s still rattled, but she nods her head anyway. She’d like to believe she won’t end up like Kam, but even if it’s not for the same reasons, Kay expects the only way she’s leaving Yamagato employ is in a bodybag.

Unless another war topples this organization, too, but Kay’s not expecting Lady Luck to smile on her twice.

“S’just up the stairs,” Kay says quietly as she pulls the door open and heads into the stairwell that will eventually lead them to their destination. Rat-tata-tat go her knuckles on the door of an apartment. The number has long since fallen off, but the faint outline of it can still be made out where the stain is just a shade different.

Having been warned ahead of their arrival, both by text and by sensing the approach, the door opens only a moment after and without the person on the other side of the door looking surprised at all. "Kay," Asi Tetsuyama acknowledges her with a nod, then looks past to the other woman with her.


It's been almost a year since the last time Asi saw Kimiko Nakamura, and she sees the weathering of recent events on her just as plainly as Asi's circumstance is impossible to ignore when looking at her. Regardless, Asi opens the door to the apartment and gestures inside with the flat of her palm. "Ms. Nakamura," she greets quietly. "Douzo ohairi." She slides a step back on socked feet, dressed comfortably. Black lounge pants are worn with a long-sleeved grey shirt, indications she's caught the technopath at home, or near enough to it.

The four-room apartment is practically barren, a worn-down couch sitting in the middle of its living space without even a table. A serious-looking router and modem are hooked into cabling in the walls, which snake to a closed laptop— a far cry from a proper workstation for a technopath. There's a small bar table set in the open kitchen visible through a half-wall separating it from the living space. No personal decoration adorns the space, save for a set of decidedly low-tech sticky notes plastered to the top half of the combination refrigerator.

"It's not much for comfort, but make yourself at home." As Asi steps away from the door, she pushes her sleeves up to her elbows. "There's tea, if you'd like some," she indicates while already walking to the kitchen space. Even if they don't want any, she's seeing to the stovetop. Once she rounds the corner, it's easier to look over the half-wall at them both. "I'm assuming something's come up on your end if we're meeting here instead of someplace more neutral." Flicking a look to Kimiko, she deadpans, "But if there's nothing, I'm more than happy to lead with what it was I needed to discuss."

Kimiko is frozen in place, standing in the doorway like a person confronted with a gun. Her prosthetic hand curls into a fist and remains clenched as she keeps eye contact with Asi. Kaydence has never quite seen this look in her employer’s eyes before. “Mazdak,” is the first thing out of Kimiko’s mouth, and she levels a look of betrayal on Kay, a look of hurt and horror. She can hear Kimiko swallow down the lump in her throat from across the room.

“So…” Kimiko manages with a shaky breath. “This is how it is.” The news of Takumi Seko’s murder reached Kimiko long ago, remained in international news but gained little coverage in the US. Now faced with Asi Tetsuyama, Seko’s alleged killer, Kimiko begins to slot pieces of the puzzle together that may not entirely fit from a broader perspective. If she had all the points of data.

“Am I to be sent to Adam Monroe?” Kimiko asks, her voice like steel. “Whole? Or in pieces?

“Asi,” Kay greets in kind. No more Tetsuyama-san between these two. “We have a situation, and I thought of no one better to help me address—”

When she realizes that Kimiko’s posture and entire countenance have shifted, Kay turns and regards her with surprise and confusion for a moment. “No,” she says firmly. “That’s not—” A hapless look is sent to Asi as Kay reaches out to rest a hand on Kimiko’s flesh and blood arm. “Unless she’s about to shoot me,” there’s a look of and you ain’t, right? flashed in Asi’s direction briefly, “we’re going to help you. Do you believe everything you read in the papers?”

It’s supposed to be light, a small joke. But Kaydence just can’t keep the concern out of her eyes. Having entered the room first, she at least presents a physical barrier between the two women. If they mean to fight, they’ll have to go through her.

That they’re both plenty capable of doing just that is certainly a point of concern.

Still in the process of fixing hot water over green tea, Asi pauses in her pour, a flicker in her gaze. Her mouth presses into a thin line.

A cup for each of them it is after all.

Beside her, nestled in the corner of the kitchen and invisible to those in the living room space, a robot wakes from its rest. A red SPOT bot with an NYPD logo stickered to the top of its body comes to its feet. She offers out the ceramic cup she's already poured in its direction, which it responds to by carefully articulating its arm and the pincer at its end. Asi arches a brow at it meaningfully before nodding in the direction of the living space, and off the SPOT trots, dutifully making its way with careful steps as to not spill any tea.

It's with a certain amount of grace that the robot pauses a small distance from Kimiko, offering up that cup.

Asi's coming around from the kitchen shortly after, a second ceramic cup in one hand and a solo cup in the other, both steaming. She offers the ceramic to Kay before she shifts a glance to Kimiko finally.

"I forgot your ability must not distinguish between what people believe and what is actually true." she remarks deadpan. Asi sips delicately from her tea, holding it by the rim while one hand slides into the pocket of her pajama pants. Only after she's done with that, still holding onto the cup in a way that helps her avoid being burned through the thin plastic of it, does her expression lose some of its tension. She tries not to fault Kimiko for her assumption.

"I was set up, Nakamura. Framed. If I were working for him, if I was going to kill you,— I would have done it when I had direct access to you. And I certainly wouldn't be doing it in my pajamas." Her hand holding the cup shifts to the side as she opens her posture. Her voice doesn't shift in tone at all as she half-jokes, "I have more respect for you than that."

“私が言いとき、あなたは死にます,” Kimiko utters, jaw steady and tense. The word Adam Monroe said as she lay disfigured on the ground of her office beside her dead husband. Kimiko exhales a slow sigh, brows pinched together and pupils growing saucer-wide. Her teeth clench together, tightly, a vein rises in her brow and then subsides as the tension fades. Her pupils contract to a more normal width, and she breathes out slowly through her nose.

Dark eyes blink to Kay, and Kimiko walks in with the soft whirring of her prosthetic leg in each step. “I want answers,” she is quick to demand of someone she sent packing back to Japan. Someone who owes her nothing.PISEC?” She asks, one brow raised. “Was it you at Liberty Island? How is this connected to Adam?” Her hands clench together, the prosthetic hand humming softly with a brief, melodic note.

Kay’s Japanese has improved greatly, but not so much as to understand all of what Kimiko’s just said, but enough of it to be worried as she shuts the door in her wake. She locks it, because if they decide to pull some kind of Mexican standoff here, it’s not going to matter if that door is unlocked or not. And if they don’t, it will matter if someone’s followed them.

The obedient servant, Kay holds on to the tea given to her carefully in her left hand, stepping off and to the side to give the other women room to have their conversation.

The poor little Spot bot stands in place, arm pivoting in gentle motions to try to pin down the best angle to pass off Kimiko her tea at. Asi glances at it with all the pity she's not directed at Kimiko directly, shaking her head at it before it goes still. A sigh escapes her as she wills herself to be the calmer party.

"Monroe has become a pawn in his own scheme. Whatever he planned, Mazdak has overridden it. His resources no longer answer to him, not in the way he thinks. His people will turn against him before long— Praxis, Shedda Dinu… the Ghost Triad leadership might have, too, but now they are dead." Asi glances down at her cup. "Mazdak wanted the research at PISEC claimed for themselves. It turned out to be research regarding how to kill Monroe. Before you get your hopes up, one of the researchers sabotaged those efforts."

"All that effort, that waste, that risk for … junk data." Asi's only a little bitter, given what happened then and after. At least Mohinder had been saved and secreted out.

"Liberty had nothing to do with me. It only made the task they flung at me that much harder." She frowns. "The man who approached me, asked me to produce a miracle at PISEC the way I had at the Tokyo prison, he called himself Nabu. He's someone higher up within Mazdak, possibly one of it's surviving founders, of which there are few. He said if I did what was asked, I would meet Baruti Naidu again. They kept their word, reeled me in like a fish on a hook, then tossed me back to sea."

It hadn't been her intention to let her anger about that flare or manifest in any way, but here they were.

"None of this was what I meant to discuss with you, though." Asi points out, attempting to rein her passion back down to a calm.

Kimiko stalks into the room like a tiger tricked into a cage, sniffing the corners of her cell for an exit. The click of her heels on the floor comes in a steady rhythm backed by the subtle whirring of her prosthetic servos. When she comes to a stop it is by the sofa in the middle of the room where Kimiko comes to sit-slash-lean against the back. The wariness with which she considered Asi a moment ago has diminished, now there is something more placid. The businesslike demeanor of steel that she is more known for. Kimiko has left the room, Ms. Nakamura has taken her place.

“You’re walking a knife’s edge, Tetsuyama,” is Kimiko’s critical but not inaccurate assessment. “When I sent you back to Japan, I’d hoped you might attract a lure of Adam’s people, but I had no idea the number of mouths that would be gaping toward you like hungry carp.” She glances back at Kay, more relaxed now than before. “My investment in Monica didn’t pay the dividends I’d hoped when I let her go, but it would seem you did.”

It takes a moment for the gravity of that to slot into place. That Kimiko knowingly cut Asi and Monica loose, to make them appear to be appealing targets for Adam to offer an olive branch. A lure to bring the fox out of their hole. Kimiko’s brows pinch together for a moment, then relax. “But I’m willing to further discuss the particulars of that later,” she says with a calm clarity as if she hadn’t been having a panic attack earlier.

“What did you want from me?” Kimiko asks before she regards Kay out of the corner of her eyes. Wondering just how much her head of public relations knows in advance.

When the boss looks her way, Kay’s expression is passive. Listening, of course, but with her gaze — the illusion of her attention — diverted elsewhere. But as she listens, as Kimiko continues to explain just exactly what she did and why, Kay’s jaw sets rigid. It takes effort to keep a straight face. Her fingers start to curl into fists.

The other women’s attention is directed back to her when Kay gives a yelp of surprise. She’s shaking out her left hand, the tea having been transferred to her right now, and drawing in a breath as a hiss between her teeth. Without so much as an apology for the disruption, she turns, shoulders hunched and head down, to march toward the sink, where she can run water over her hand.

The veneer of calm Asi has sprouted cracks in the form of hairline fractures, broken in a way that's almost impossible to perceive at a glance. There's a cool distance to her gaze as she sets her cup aside. "I'd like you to carefully rethink what you just implied, Nakamura," No Ms., no -san. "That you knew I was going to be betrayed by my superiors and fed to Monroe's allies, and did not so much as warn me."

Their last interaction is cast in an entirely new light. I just hope that you understand we're on the same network. We're just on different sides of the firewall. The words sit in her memory like acid.

"You were burned for failing to share vital information previously, and said you would change tactics. I could have been prepared for what happened." Her voice climbs as she seethes, little care given to how it looks. It's not like she has a job on the line to be concerned about any longer. "They destroyed my life, Nakamura, and so help me, if you knew it was going to happen…"

The delicate precision the stolen Spot bot exhibits in holding the ceramic cup slips, the pincer at the end of its arm shattering the cup and sending pieces of it scattering.

"I was going to help you."

Ms. Nakamura doesn’t so much as flinch, though her attention does flick to the bot and then back up to Asi. “It was already happening, whether you were in Japan or not.” Is Kimiko’s flat delivery of fact. “I was unaware of the depth of betrayal happening within the Mugai Ryu, but I knew if you went back to Japan it would flush that out of the system and draw people into the open. I’m not a precognitive, I just have some facts. It was a risk and one I put you in because you were the only human being qualified for the task, alongside Monica.”

Kimiko leans off of the couch, crossing her arms over her chest with one whirr of her mechanical arm’s elbow. “If you knew going in it would risk an enemy being aware of your awareness. Mazdak is more than just guns and knives, bombs and powers. They’ve been around for hundreds of years if not longer in some form or another… a cabal of precognitives. How do you fight that?” Kimiko’s brows go up. “You blind them.”

Shifting a look over to Kay, apologetic in a fashion for roping her into this mess, Kimiko pauses before settling a look on Asi. “But you’re right, it did destroy your life. I owe you that, at the very least.” She shifts her weight to one foot, fixing a square look at Asi. “You know the influence Yamago has in Japan. I might not be able to change the choices you made here in the States, but we all have to start somewhere.”

Kay keeps her head down, literally and figuratively, as Asi works her way through what was allowed to happen to her. What was done to her. The water runs over her hand, soothing the burned flesh, but it does nothing to soothe her own pain. She’d abandoned Monica because she’d been led to believe that her asset — her friend — had chosen to walk away. Because Kay believed she was the one who’d been left behind. And there’d been no replacing her. Every audition since Monica’s departure has been a bust. There just isn’t anyone like her.

And Kay was left feeling like a failure for it. She catches Kimiko’s glance and returns it only with a stony expression of her own. In a way, she’s grateful to have been pulled into this. This opens her eyes to a side of things she only suspected but never had confirmation of.

But it’s the shattering of the mug that has her flipping off the faucet and crossing the room again. Casting an accusing look to the robot dog seems a bit ridiculous to her, but she does it anyway, before she looks up to Asi instead. “Maybe send your dog to the other room,” Kay suggests.

But if they’re being fair, Asi should have her dog, being as how Nakamura has hers.

"There is no going back. I had a unique opportunity for a fresh start once already in my life with the Mugai-Ryu. I have already gone through the metamorphosis of wanted criminal to decorated officer, and it took time, omissions, outright lies, in some cases. And last time, my face wasn't plastered all over international news." Asi lets out a humorless slap of laughter, gesturing with one hand. "I sympathize with wanting to say sorry, but you can't fix this. This isn't a fairy tale where you can convince an entire country, the entire world to forgive me for what I didn't do, and forget what I did do after I had been betrayed."

She looks away with a shake of her head, biting back incredulous and bitter comments. Asi runs her hand back through her hair to smooth the moment away, eyes closing. God, she could use a cigarette.

Hand dropping back down to her side, she doesn't look back to Kimiko. "I'm finalizing plans to make a run at Praxis," comes from her quietly and without emotion. "I've got a window where I can do significant damage, I think, and given it would be in your interest to see them hurt I had wanted to ask if you had any special requests." Now Asi does look back at the executive, expression flat. "Data to steal or expose, or particular areas of business to cripple, should I get the chance."

Her head quirks to the side as she shares, "I'm already taking a special interest in digging for more information on the Flower Garden project and its original purpose once I have access to their system…" Asi's look softens just slightly, but not kindly. "But I have a suspicion only your father might have had those answers."

Kimiko’s posture is a stiff one, more statue than woman for the moment. She briefly regards Kay out of the corner of her eyes, but keeps her focus primarily on Asi. “I’d be interested in those answers too. My father took them to his grave.” It doesn’t feel like deception, but with Kimiko it’s increasingly hard to tell. “There were things my father did, secrets he kept, that I have only just started to discover the truth of. We were all lied to,” though it isn’t clear who the we is in this situation. “He made no exceptions for family.”

“As for Praxis Heavy, they’re already dead, they just don’t realize it yet.” Kimiko opines, confidently. “On a corporate scale there will be no coming back from the inquest the American government is beginning. But this isn’t a victory for us. China has been waiting for an excuse to seize Praxis’ assets, and if the company falls in the United States, the Chinese government will capture the Shanghai arcology and all of the company’s secrets with it.” Which leads to Kimiko’s ask: “It all needs to burn.”

The sheer scope of what Kimiko is asking is almost unfathomable, even for a technopath. “If we’re to deal a blow to Praxis Heavy Industries as a corporate entity and prevent the malign work they’ve done from spreading further, it all needs to be rendered to ashes. Their corporate mainframes, the Shanghai arcology, all of it needs to collapse or we’ll trade one devil for another. But I don’t know if this is even possible, or if they’ve let a genie no one can hope to control out of the bottle.”

If Praxis Heavy has Monroe’s Gemini technology, that would mean it could be released on a global scale or held by the Chinese, a nation with the single-largest Expressive army on the planet. Their intentions aside, Gemini itself is a technology rife for misuse and the violation of human rights.

“As for your identity and national sympathies…” Kimiko finally moves, taking a step closer to Asi. “You would be surprised what propaganda can do for a person. Baruti Naidu already tricked the world into thinking you were a criminal, Asi. I am more than willing to fight fire with fire, even if it will take time for the fire to spread. Whether you want to return to Japan or not, I imagine your family would breathe easier knowing a semblance of the truth.” Her head inclines to the side. “Or whatever truth is most comfortable.”

This is the part of the job Kay’s always liked least. Somehow it’s always felt kinder to simply kill their targets. Blackmail, as she knows so very intimately, is sordid at best. Life altering — life ruining at worst. Life ending? Well, that’s the simpler way out of a more complex problem. Even if what Kimiko’s proposing is a quid pro quo, Kay has to wonder where it ends. For her, it never did. Not until every last person with dirt on her was under the dirt themselves.

And even then, not after that. She landed this job for a reason.

“A vote of confidence might be to offer her a position,” Kay says quietly, as though if she can keep her voice soft enough, the suggestion will be subliminal. Immediately, she flashes an apologetic glance first to Asi, then to Kimiko, before dropping her gaze back to the SPOT between her and the floor.

Asi shifts a look back to Kay only briefly before returning her thoughts back to the challenge of destroying all of Praxis' research data. There's no guarantee that there's a path between Praxia and Shanghai that Asi or the other technopaths with her can manipulate. Hearing that China already had its eyes on Praxis' assets should not come as a surprise, and yet it does. She's had a lot on her mind lately, and the global politics she'd been considering had been of a different sort.

"If a powder trail can be lit all the way back to China, it'll be done," is a promise she doesn't so much as blink before making. It's certainly a concern she'll bring back to Scylla for troubleshooting. "That speck of insight is precisely what I was hoping you would offer. Thank you."

The words come a little flat, unable to forget what had been said moments before as much as the carrot dangled in front of her now. Whatever truth is most comfortable. She shouldn't touch the subject, shouldn't get into another long-term engagement here, but…

There was a chance it could help far more than it could hurt. And not just for herself.

"When the time is right, leak the truth. I was on an undercover assignment, and it was not my hand that killed the Minister. —That honor belonged to Naidu." Shade enters Asi's gaze, her head tipping forward as she goes on, "What happened was clever, and worked to preserve my cover. The Mugai-Ryu, especially Director Komura, should be praised for their assistance in maintaining my cover. They acted admirably, humbly, and with the highest levels of dedication to public safety."

"Barring that, unseat the interim Minister of Justice. Force him out of office— Find a way to shame him into resigning by calling into question his Anti-Evolved rhetoric and background." The corner of her mouth turns down into a frown. "How deep things went with Seko in charge… Fuse would bring them closer to the surface in the worst possible way."

Asi lets a beat pass once the request is made, her arms pulling into a fold before her. She lets her posture settle, and the Spot bot folds its arm back down so it comes to be as flush as possible with its back. "Regarding other secrets related to Monroe, his whole web is crashing down around him. Aside from Mazdak outplaying him, the sword he has in the organization Shedda-Dinu is on the verge of breaking. I reached out to SESA to inform them of the organization's headquarters, its front, and several of its members— and they did not seem particularly surprised." Her head shakes once. "The Ghost Shadows Triad has been beheaded— twice— and the lieutenants with ties to Monroe largely are disposed of."

"It's not just over for Praxis. It's over for him," Asi tells Kimiko without sympathy. "His influence wanes, and so many are after him. Governments, demigods, determined terrorists… at least one of them will pin him down before long now."

Kimiko considers Kaydence’s request with a subtle narrowing of her eyes, gears spinning behind them and thoughts crystalizing. Her pupils widen, then contract, too fast for it to have had any occult meaning beside a change of focus. When she finally looks back to Asi, there is a subtle tension in her mouth and neck, a crease of worry in her brow that only Kay knows to spot.

“No.” Kimiko says in a way that is — at first — hard to quantify. She’d been silent for just long enough to be awkward, just long enough for the thread of conversation to snap. She realizes it in the moment, circles back to find the context of her denial. “Monroe isn’t beat until he’s in a prison cell or dead,” and Kimiko doesn’t even seem certain of that. “One thing my father was right about, one thing he died proving, is that Adam Monroe is never defeated when he appears so. He is only defeated when his confidence is at his highest. He is a serpent, coiled in the tall grass, playing dead while lying in wait for the clever fox to get close enough to…”

Kimiko exhales a sharp breath through her nose. “The moment you let your guard down,” she raises her prosthetic hand, “is the moment he takes everything from you.” Kimiko looks away, over to the Spot, then back to Kaydence. “Did you have a job offer in mind, Ms. Damaris?”

With the spotlight turned on her for the first time since their arrival, Kay suddenly feels uncomfortable under the focus and the metaphorical heat of it. But she doesn’t hesitate. This question Kimiko has posed has an answer, and it’s an easy one. “I could use a technopath on my team. There’s a lot I can do, but there’s a lot more Tetsuyama could do faster and more efficiently than I’ll ever manage.”

It’s difficult for her to admit that an Expressive has an edge on her. Even after her run-in with Praxis’ own technopath — the way she fell for a phishing scam that wasn’t even overly elaborate — she never requested someone more skilled than her in such matters. She’d simply vowed to learn from her mistakes and she redoubled her efforts to learn how to better support her assets in the field.

But this is a big ask, and it requires a legitimate need. Kay looks up to Asi, and it’s all she needs in order to spur her further, turning back to Kimiko as she continues to state her case. “She’s proven herself useful to us on more than one occasion. Without her assistance, we wouldn’t have been able to retrieve assets of ours from agents of Praxis.” Her chin lifts slightly at that. She’s just admitted to having fucked up royally, and having needed help off the books to fix it.

But that’s Kay’s job, isn’t it? To fix shit without making it Nakamura’s problem.

“I’d like to keep her at command with me, but she’s more than capable in the field.” Kay dips her head a little as she gives it a shake. “She wouldn’t need a babysitter. I’ve trusted her with my life before, and I would do it again.” With that final piece, she stills her tongue and waits for Kimiko’s pronouncement behind a mask of quiet determination. This, she insists tacitly, is the right call.

Asi offers no argument against Kimiko's doubt about the state of affairs. It would and will take seeing the results for the woman who's lost everything to Adam Monroe lower her vigilance against him. And even then, maybe she'll still doubt— still wonder what traps are left waiting even when no one is left to actively maintain them.

"We can discuss a contract after I come back from California, if you're determined about this. No sense in getting ahead of ourselves and committing to an agreement I may not even be alive to accept." At that, Asi allows herself a small smile. It's fleeting, as she recalls something that robs her of that lightness.

"The last thing I had wanted to tell you was Kam Nisatta lives again. The thing Naidu worships found her, resurrected her, though for what purpose I'm uncertain. It would seem after they were done with her, they abandoned her somewhere Mazdak was able to obtain her." Her head tips just slightly to the side. "When I encountered her, it was not long enough to determine anything aside from her fear toward Mazdak, and her sense of helplessness regarding her circumstance. So I could not say if, given the chance…"

If she'd hold ill will toward Kimiko, or if she'd have even seen her standing in the hall, firing the shot that killed her.

Nisatta,” Kimiko says like a curse. “My father’s awful secret.” Starting to pace the floor without realizing it, Kimiko brings her flesh and blood hand up to thread a lock of hair behind her ear. “We had her body in cold storage in the medical wing for evaluation, there was no next of kin or family to send them to. It… disappeared from the morgue, security cameras picked up nothing but thermal sensors showed a body heat exchange. We suspected a teleporter and an illusionist, but…”

Kimiko closes her eyes, exhaling a slow sigh through her nose. Something about that heist had always stuck in Kay’s craw. She’d known about the theft, but unlike other intrusions into Yamagato, Kimiko seemed less adamant about getting to the root of it. Certainly, Eizen did a number on the facility and interrogated staff, Jiba was set to do security audits, but it’s like Kimiko didn’t expect them to find anything. Perhaps that’s to be with her ability, but there’s still a thread of something resembling doubt there.

“Everything my father feared was going to happen, is. The most powerful of all of us to ever live walks among us.” Kimiko looks to Kay, then over to Asi. “All the Company’s secrets eventually come up through the topsoil, like a poorly buried cadaver.” Her dark eyes track back to the floor. “I won’t concern myself with fighting the moon,” is a euphemism, of sorts. “Let us focus on our more terrestrial problems.”

Namely, Praxis.

“We can reconvene about this after you return from the west,” Kimiko says with an unearned certainty. More of a willful hope than anything. All of this focus, all of this business had served to distract her for a time. Right up until she remembered the panicked car ride that brought her here. Asi can see Kimiko’s mask practically side off of her face as her hand moves over her mouth and her attention drifts to Kay, then the floor.

“But I need your help,” Kimiko says into her palm, fixing a look back at Asi. Not a favor, not business. This isn’t Ms. Nakamura that’s asking. It’s a side of Kimiko that Asi has never truly seen before. The vulnerable underbelly of the corporate armadillo.

Whatever frustration Kay is feeling for all of the ways she’s left in the dark in her own position, it’s buried deep. She’s a pro at that, putting aside her own priorities, her own pride, to focus on the job. What’s needed and what’s expected of her.

“I’m reaching out to the Deveaux Society,” Kay explains to Asi, “but given the givens,” there’s a brief glance to Kimiko at that, and the situation she’s created for her, “I might need a little assistance coaxing our mutual friend to give me a meeting.” The wedge that was driven between her and Monica may prove difficult to overcome. Or, it may not. Kay has no way of knowing until she tries. And this, she believes, is worth the effort.

“Ms. Nakamura has a daughter.” If they’re going to do this, Kay’s going to be transparent about what the hell is going on. “She was a ward of the Society, and we believe she may have been taken with Secretary Zimmerman and Director Shaw. Monroe, Praxia… They may have her. We don’t know.”

Kay keeps her gaze on Asi steady. For her, this is business, because keeping Kimiko’s affairs in order, whether personal or professional, is her trade. All the same, there’s earnesty in her appeal. “I was hoping you might help.”

Whatever Asi thinks of Kimiko's commentary or plea she keeps to herself, her attention fixing away from her and toward Kay instead for the explanation provided. It's only after it begins does her expression shift at all, a widening of her eyes. She breathes in to ask a question that doesn't need asked, ultimately, but swivels her attention back to Kimiko finally all the same.

It takes but a moment to think about the possibility, the potential severity. Her gaze shifts, hardening to a problem-solving blue. "Did she have a phone, some other device with her I could try to locate? Do you know who specifically should have been with her?"

With a short shake of her head, she allows, "I will do what I can to look, and to help query Monica," not Dawson, "for as long as I can. I have quite a bit on my plate, but…"

Richard's SEER project once again gets bumped to a further backburner mentally, upcoming tasks mentally restracking with a small frown from the technopath. Before she gets ahead of herself, she simply looks back to Kimiko, brow lifting. "An exertion of similar effort on your part to address my requests will ensure the level of prioritization you're hoping for out of me." Her gaze shifts to Kay only secondarily, given most of her own asks were political in nature.

“It’s not safe for her to have electronic devices,” is Kimiko’s rather flat statement about her daughter’s phone. “She would have been somewhere off-grid, not directly in the Society’s care in their headquarters. But they… they may have had records. I don’t even have a reliable way to contact Ami without going through Claudia Zimmerman, for her protection.” Which means Kimiko has no reliable means to be a mother to her child, to live in so much fear of her daughter’s safety that keeping her isolated was her best choice.

“I don’t care what you think about me,” Kimiko suddenly says, a heat in her voice she usually never allows herself to express. “But Ami is innocent in all of this. She’s a child.” Kimiko’s voice cracks at the end there, color flushing her face. She angles her head down, uses the side of her thumb to discreetly dry one eye, then looks back up to Asi with a steelier expression.

If anyone understands isolating their daughter for her own protection, it’s Kay Damaris. The choice to drop the professionalism for a moment is a bold one, but she reaches out and squeezes Kimiko’s organic arm firmly. “I am gonna find her for you,” she insists. “And I’m gonna bring her back.” Provided where Ami is found is somewhere she needs being brought back from. With any luck, she’s wherever Claudia Zimmerman hid her away and they just don’t have direct contact to confirm it.

But in their line of work, that’s too much to hope for, isn’t it?

“I’m going to call Deveaux soon as we’re done here, see if I can get myself a meeting with Ms Dawson on my own. Even if I can, given the shell game Zimmerman’s been playing, I may need help sifting through the electronic records that are left behind for any clues.” While Kimiko may firmly believe in the danger any sort of data on the location of her daughter would represent to her safety, that doesn’t mean Zimmerman agreed. Or that she didn’t believe herself too clever to have any of it be meaningful to someone who might not know what they’re looking for.

Being a detective, Kay is used to weaving together seemingly unrelated threads to create a larger tapestry.

Asi doesn't appear to react to Kimiko's break in demeanor, either because she's not phased by it, or because she's certain the woman wants no pity leveled her direction. Her gaze levels back at her for a long moment before shifting to Kay instead. "I'll work with you on combing things through. If you get a meeting arranged on your own, more than happy to go with you as moral support… or whatever capacity is needed."

She steps back from the conversation, ignoring the shattered mug for the time being. With a glance she checks her step, reaching for the cooling cup she'd left behind. "No one is able to pass without a trace. Even if we can't find her directly at first, the people who look after her will have lead lives that leave their own trails. Crumbs for us to follow, even if takes offline work to chase down those leads."

Cup palmed from the counter, Asi looks back at Kimiko, clarifying, "I'll help you." in case that wasn't clear yet. But for all that she means to make that obvious, it's clear she'll not do it for nothing. She's no longer at a stage in her life where she can afford to. All she can do, though, is hope Kimiko follows through on her end, too.

Kimiko’s dark eyes search the floor, avoidant from either Kay or Asi’s stare. “We need to make preparations,” she carries on the thread without even so much as missing a beat, pushing down the concerned mother and sealing her inside the iron casket of a CEO. “If the Deveaux Society has been compromised, we need to know what our future options look like.”

That much is more for Kaydence than anything, but there’s a subtle tactic in letting Asi in on the fringes of planning. The Deveaux Society supported Yamagato’s claim to working in the United States, helped foster the relationships that led to the creation of the Safe Zone. Those ties are looser between the government and Yamagato itself, especially if the current regime changes with the tides of the next election.

“We help each other survive,” Kimiko says with a certainty in her voice. “Then we can see where we are when the storm passes…”

“…and count all the rowboats left in the water.”

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