Avoid The Blowfish


castle_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Avoid the Blowfish
Synopsis An Agent drops in on Yi-Min to check on her well being and ask her some questions after the plane crash.
Date September 7, 2020

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office : Employee Parking

Dr. Yeh is late for a date she doesn't know she has.

The shadows of evening are beginning to set in as the Director of Biotechnology finally makes her way across the expanse of Raytech's main parking lot, darkening clouds swallowing up the last pinks and orange-golds of sunset. One of the benefits of her schedule is that it is immensely variable according to her personal desires for any given day, and on this day, she had made the decision to stay several hours later than usual.

The doors to her silver Ioniq unlock all at once with a cheerful little bwip bwip aimed from her remote, and her keychain jangles quietly as she opens up the driver's side door to get in.

It isn't until Yi-Min is already partly through the process of sliding into her seat that she notices something… very off. Her alertness to assorted ambient scenery cues had been allowed to slip lower than normal; she had been wrapped up inside the skein of her own thoughts, and darkness is falling besides. But as soon as she picks up that first instinctive tell of suspicion, she much more swiftly becomes aware of somebody slumped in her backseat who definitely has no business being there.

In diligent silence, she reaches down for the snubnosed revolver concealed in the holster beneath her car seat. Its blunt, protruding snout is plainly visible from the angle of the backseat when she announces aloud, eying her rearview mirror with deadly calm:

"You have twenty seconds to explain what you are doing before I shoot you."

The man(?) in the backseat seems to be dressed in dark clothes, a suit by all appearances, but the buttons and tie have come undone and the dark curls have fallen onto their forehead. The closed eyes also have a hint of darkening to them, like eyeshadow and eyeliner that might confuse the image further. With a snort that’s half a snore, it takes a moment for them to wake up but then there’s a soft voice that almost has an accent to it, “Mum?” and those eyes open, pale and mysterious, maybe green, maybe blue, maybe hazel, hard to tell in the lighting, but they quickly widen. Suddenly Castle is very much aware. “Nope, not my mum.”

Hands come up splayed fingers, showing he’s brought no weapons, but really, some people just don’t need weapons, do they. “Sorry. I got bored waiting and when I tried to make an appointment there was this mechanical dinosaur thing that kept making sounds at me in this cutesy voice telling me that the desk person was away and it was really freaking me out. I’ve seen movies with dinosaurs and robots and neither end well for the people in them you know? So I just thought I’d wait by your car, but then I got tired of standing so I figured it looked more comfortable inside and— I guess I fell asleep. Sorry about that.”

Those eyes shift to the weapon and then back up at her with a sheepish smile, “Please don’t shoot, my boss would be very upset.”

Some people don't need weapons, no.

"The doors were locked for a reason," Yi-Min points out flatly, but after several tension-filled moments (perhaps partly from the real moment of bemusement from being addressed as 'mum'), she appears just mollified enough by this offering of logic to ease up on dissecting it for further flaws. In fact, she issues the smallest of snorts at the description of what they had encountered at Sera's desk— "I would not blame you for being put off by the mechanical dinosaur. This terrible thing scares so many people off."

Not that any of this actually leads her to lower her revolver as a result. Evidently, her willingness to gloss over the initial excuse-making has more to do with her uninterrupted focus on the rest of the situation, and so her stare into the mirror remains as cold as ever.

"So. Who sent you? It cannot be SESA. They know how to get in touch with me."

There’s a look of genuine surprise, mouth opening wide and a gasping sound to the voice that seems truthful, “The doors were locked?” It sounded very much like a ‘no way’. But she knew they had been locked when she opened them. That really wasn’t a question. Maybe this person was just a little insane.

“I’m not SESA, no, but I did know how to find you too, it’s just house calls are so boring,” Castle says with a groan, as if that has been the main concern. Well this meeting definitely would not be boring. It had already begun at gunpoint. Hands remained up, but the Agent didn’t really look scared, really.

“I’m Castle. Agent Castle. With a specific branch of the government that pays attention to cases like yours. You met someone I work with once and he said not to play games with you. Looks like I already failed at following that instruction.” There’s a sheepish look at that bit. “I’d tell you more, but I really can’t. Classified and all that. But we’ve taken a personal interest in your well being specifically and wanted to check on you, make sure you’re coping well with the situation that you found yourself in. With the plane crash and all.”

…Very, very slowly, Yi-Min reclines her seat down just far enough to turn her head on her headrest and train her skeptical gaze onto Castle directly, rather than resorting to the intermediary of her mirrored reflection. Her thumb and forefinger readjust loosely around the grip of her revolver, and she keeps it resting on her shoulder, tip pointed nebulously at her car's ceiling.

"You do realize," she says, her expression one of serene mildness, "that if this is all you have to give me, with no official identification or anything, I have no reason to see you as anything other than a mysterious intruder who broke into my car and is now telling me unverifiable tales."

With the sudden metallic click of her revolver's hammer being cocked with a strong flick of her finger, she extends her arm so as to aim the squat little weapon dead into the center of Castle's forehead. The interior of her car is fairly spacious, but they have no trouble at all seeing straight down the black, void-like hole of the barrel.

"And… after all I have been through, I do not have a lot of patience for mysterious intruders in my life. I hope you understand."

There’s a moment, when Castle seems to be a little confused, almost as if they don’t quite understand how their charm has failed them this time. Or perhaps they just underestimated the level of ‘don’t play games with this one’ that they should have paid attention to. After a moment, there’s a small click of the tongue and the Agent is leaning back in the chair, closing their eyes and taking in a slow breath.

When eyes open once more, there’s no more smiles, expression more serious. “You know the hallway,” The Agent’s accent isn’t even the same anymore, hinting toward Irish now. “The one that Harris took you through. I don’t know what you saw, I just know he took you there when he talked to you, cause that’s where people go when it’s for questions less routine than these— One of my images is always a lighthouse. The waves hitting rocks, with the gulls crying out. Well, guess you can’t actually hear the gulls, but I always felt like I could. I could see them, so I felt like I could hear them, you know? It’s strange. You were there, you know.”

Hands spread again, eyes close, there’s a moment where Yi-Min can almost feel a hint of something, like a soft brush of wind inside the interior of the car. Eyes open again and that smile returns, along with the more American accent, “If that’s not enough identification, then I guess you can shoot me and see if you can clear things up with my bosses to stay in the country a second time.”

All throughout this description that is undoubtedly familiar to her, Yi-Min does not seem particularly inclined to show much of an outward reaction to any of it. Her gaze remains cool and stony, like that of a recalcitrant cat, at least beyond a ghostlike flicker of some shade of meaning when she feels that incongruous breeze.

But, at long last, she lowers her chin in a tiny gesture that is apparently meant to convey her satisfaction. Her revolver arcs downwards, out of Castle's face, and she begins leisurely decocking it again.

"Thank you. That is enough for me on that front. I daresay you can lighten up a touch on the charade — I know you work for the Department of the Exterior, Agent Castle. One thing I do not understand, and that you will have to explain to me, is what information I could possibly give to you that the DoE could not have obtained straight from SESA."

At the mention of the Department of Exterior, Castle cocks their head to the side like a curious bird, but lets their hands drop down since the weapon no longer seems to be a threat. “That’s surprising,” they say with that same grin, surprising, but apparently somehow still amusing. And not something it seems will be denied, either. Why deny what was already pretty much confirmed? After a moment, there’s a shrug. “Maybe we don’t trust SESA to ask all the right questions.”

Now that they can move more freely, they start to stretch a little, rolling shoulders, twisting arms, lifting legs a little. Understandable since first they had been napping in the back seat, then sitting pretty damn still to avoid getting shot at. Mostly. “Or like I said, we’ve taken a special interest in you, yourself, Yi-Min Yeh, and wanted to talk to you personally. Hear it straight from you, not from some second hand file passed on through a paper pusher.”

Yi-Min arches a single eyebrow up, finely, at the notion that some kind of personal interest had been taken in her. "Taken a special interest in all of the survivors of the plane crash, I presume," she half-corrects, half-questions.

"I would imagine that an incident like this one would have created a great number of puzzling questions your people would love answers to. Go ahead, then. Ask what you would."

It's a real invitation, or at least appears to be so. She checks over one last, minute detail on the dull shine of the revolver's dark surface, then slips it away out of Castle's sight.

“Touche~” Castle says with a grin, as they finally move their hand anywhere near their person. Under the fabric of their jacket, to pull out a few things. First a small notebook with a pen sticking in it (a left handed notebook from the direction the spirals are on) and a small flip wallet, which is pulled open.

A badge can be seen, which is held up.

Department of the Exterior. Agent Castle. A picture of the Agent’s smiling face. It even has a series of numbers. But no first name, no additional information. “I probably would have shown you if you insisted further, but, I wasn’t reaching for anything while you had a gun on me.”

The Agent is most definitely left handed, as they shift to put the badge away, resting one leg on the other and the notepad on the raised leg, the pen held deftly in their left hand. “But you’re right. We’re interested in all the plane crash— ees? The people in the plane crash. No, I like plane crashees. I’ll stick with that. But yeah, they wanted me to ask questions, see how you’re doing, make sure you’re not— you know, ready to do something completely awful or anything.”

Impassively, Yi-Min watches on as Castle pulls out their little assortment of objects. She studies the badge that is flipped open before her with swift but scrupulous care, paying special attention to that series of numbers. "Honestly, I am surprised you would show me even this," she comments idly once done, leaning back into her seat again. "Your associate Harris seemed quite keen about not revealing anything to me whatsoever when I was in detainment. Your agency included."

Hearing the last remark causes a pinch of wryness to siphon into her expression, and she can't help but reiterate for clarity. "’Do something completely awful?’”

“Hurt yourself, hurt others, shoot charming young Agents who show up unexpectedly and fall asleep in your car,” Castle says with a wry grin, a hint of a wink that— is not really a wink because really both of those eyes closed for a second. Some people just can not manage a good wink, and it would seem that Castle is one of those people. “You didn’t shoot me though, so I’m checking that you’re not overly violent. My buddy Harris will be so glad.”

With a flick of the pen, there is a small notation made under something halfway down a page, before the pen is poised again near the top. “How’s your appetite been? Still enjoying all the foods that you used to?” There’s a pause. “Though I guess with your ability you might have been able to eat things you really can’t now, couldn’t you— I hadn’t really thought of that. You could have been eating poison food before this for all I know and maybe your appetite changing was necessary.”

There’s definitely a ‘huh’ way in the rambling.

"That you broke into, I might remind you once again." Yi-Min articulates very dryly. "I am no more violent than I have ever been, and my appetite is fine. No, I was not in the habit of eating 'poison food.' Whatever that means. Are you… is this really the type of answer that you couldn't have gotten from SESA, and must bother me with now?"

“You know, poison food, like, blowfish sushi and stuff,” Castle says, waving the pen as if to dismiss the question that was just asked. A moment later, that pen starts drawing lines through writing on the page. ““The script is boring, isn’t it?” After a few lines have been crossed out, with soft murmurs under breath of, “How’s your dreams, probably terrible. How’s your depression and stress levels, probably none of your fucking business Agent Castle. Have you been able to return to your usual schedule, blah blah blah.”

With all that scratched out, those light eyes that seem some kind of mix of green and blue and hazel and brown all at once look back up at her, and there’s a challenge there. “Do you often see things in the corner of your eye that aren’t there when you look for them?”

This time, there is a short, somewhat matter-of-fact pause before Yi-Min answers. "Do I often…" she murmurs, voicing the first part of the question aloud as though to help herself run through it in her head. It's an instantaneous answer to her, but the way Castle asks the question is what causes her to give it slightly more doubt. "No. I do not. The crash dislocated my arm; it did not addle my brains."

“I would never accuse your brain of being anything but impeccable, ma’am,” Agent Castle says, even though the pen scratches against the page in a much different way this time, not scratching out a whole line, but instead making a notation. “Close your eyes for a moment and try to picture your earliest memory. What’s your earliest memory? Something vivid— like a taste, or a sound, or a place that you can still feel your way around without even looking. A place that you know in your soul. I want you to describe it to me.”

For all her latent cynicism and sharp edges, Yi-Min appears to have slipped into a more accommodating mood once the direction of Castle's inquest had been steered away from 'blowfish sushi,' and towards something resembling actual seriousness. She does as bidden, threading her fingers together across her lower abdomen and leaning her neck more comfortably against the bottom of her headrest.

"Behind the apartment where I grew up, in Taipei," she muses easily, staring out through the ever-darkening glass of the windshield. It serves well enough as a screen that she does not need to close her eyelids to enhance the memory. "There was an alley leading out to the streets of the rest of the city— I still remember that archway well, though it has been decades since I was there. The thing I remember best of it is the smell. It was this unique mixture of the scents of home behind, and the odors of the wide city ahead. Leaves, home food, street food. We lived by several eateries. Motorcycle exhaust," she adds the last item more wryly. "Some incense, through the open windows."

There she pauses again, lolling a look sideways at Castle, who is no doubt assiduously taking notes at this moment. "Shall I continue, or do you have what you need yet?"

For a moment, Yi-Min could swear she feels that same rush of air that she’d felt earlier— only in reverse. There’s even a small flicker of something around Castle for a moment, just a hint, but then it’s gone. It’s hard to tell what it was. Whatever it was, though, nothing seems to have changed beyond that sensation, and this time the agent didn’t even close their eyes. Those eyes that seem to be of many colors in different lights. “No, that’s good enough. Never been to Taipei. But then I haven’t been to a lot of places. Planet’s a big place.”

There’s a few more scribbles of words, but there’s no way that they could write down everything that she had said, so there’s no change they even tried to, instead, they move down another line and look back up, “Have you ever had that feeling of deja vu— where you feel like you’ve been somewhere, seen somewhere, but you know that there’s no way you should have ever stepped foot there before?”

Once again, this should be a quick response for Yi-Min, at least in theory. In practice: now she lets her eyes slip closed, at least for a second. It lasts as long as a long blink, but is rather more thoughtful. "The closest I can say I have gotten to that feeling is when Harris took me through…. wherever that was. But, from what you are describing, I still do not think that fits. So, no."

Pressing the end of the pen against their lips, Castle seems to ponder that for a moment, watching her, before jotting another few things down on the pad of paper. “What about people? Ever meet someone you think you’ve met before, but they didn’t recognize you or didn’t know you? Or the reverse, met someone who knew you, but you didn’t know who they were? Not including like, famous people or stuff like that?” That sounded very much like— well

A round about way of asking if she met someone from another world, really.

It's a roundaboutness that Yi-Min has little trouble seeing through. Fortunately for her, the particular phrasing Castle uses makes it very easy for her to respond:

"That has never happened to me, no."

Which is the truth. Everyone she has met from another reality has been someone whom she'd met on fairly equal footing, at least in terms of mutual recognition. So far, no duplicate issues of the exact sort Castle is describing.

If Castle noticed any hint that she might have been spared something by the way the question had been worded, it doesn’t show. There’s a scribble of the pen against the page again, a short-hand notation of some kind, and then there’s another question that follows, but this one is the last one on the page, unless there’s more pages.

“Not including the crash, but was there ever another time when you lost a significant amount of time and woke up in a strange location with no idea how you got there?”

"Unless you count my getting blackout drunk for basically the first time in my life last week due to not having my ability, no. Listen, Agent Castle. I'd like to be frank with you. Well. More frank with you."

There is a strange new look Castle can detect in Yi-Min's expression, discernible even in the fading light. It's a feel, more than a look. Her dark-eyed gaze holds onto the agent's lighter-hued, more changeable one with the curious stillness of a deadened sea.

"I know you are bound by your official oath of secrecy or what have you. So, I understand if this is not an answer you can give me. But I feel I can surmise from the content of your questions that you are trying to determine if there is something fundamentally changed about us."

It's not an accusation in her calm voice.

It's concern— and all the quiet earnestness thereof.

"Do you have reason to believe there is?"

“Of course something’s changed,” Castle says simply, tilting their head to the side again like that curious bird once again. “One day you had an ability, expressed a gene that gave you that ability, now you no longer appear to have that gene, or that ability, and no one understands why. Of course something has changed about you.” With that, the notepad flips closed and the pen gets put down into the spiral once again, pushed into the inner pocket of the Agent’s jacket.

“I think we’re done for now, though. I’m out of questions. But it was nice meeting you.” Scooting aside, Castle makes their way to the passenger door and reaches to open it, but when they do—

The door’s locked.

“Oh, sorry. Can you unlock this please so I can— ?”

Yi-Min doesn't unlock the door.

"Please. Beyond the ability." Well, back to sounding dry. The lightly altered quality of her expression doesn't go back to what it was before, though.

"There are ways to explain the ability loss. As I would assume you would know. Nothing supernatural or otherworldly required. But there must be suspicions beyond what conventional science can explain, or else you would not have a reason to get involved." All the medical tests performed on them thus far, official and unofficial, point to this being a sinister possibility.

The abnormally high white blood cell counts; the unexplained EM fields emitted by all the bodies of the survivors, preventing MRI imaging.

"If your department has access to resources that we do not, in our own search, I invite your people to use them on me. Take me in. Do what you must." The keenness in her eyes remains grave in tone, as though she is looking at the agent from a great distance. "Find the answers that we cannot." And might not, until it could be too late.

With hand on the door handle, Castle looks over at her with an innocence that seems to make them look, well— just young really. But then they seemed younger in many ways already. Not just in their face, but in the way they acted. Some people were just like that.

“We don’t have any evidence to say anything about what’s going on either way, right now,” they say after a moment, voice a little quieter. “But I don’t really have the authority to take you in, or the authorization to do so. SESA is still in charge of your cases. We’re just an interested party who wanted to see the picture from a different angle.”

There’s almost an apology in the way that the Agent smiles, “Just keep your eyes open and— call your local SESA office if you notice anything out of the ordinary.” It was probably not at all what she wanted to hear. “So you're gonna to let me go now, or do you wanna to take me home for dinner? Cause I’m hungry.”

"No offense, but I didn't think you would. Ask your higher-ups. Someone who would have the authorization. Regardless, my offer stands." Yi-Min just seems placidly amused as she reaches a hand towards the strip of buttons aligned by her side. The door next to Castle comes unlocked with a ker-chunk.

"If you really want to accompany me to dinner, I would not stop you. I am about to head for a nice little Japanese place that my partner recommended. Otherwise, it was nice meeting you too."

For “no offense” Castle is very good at feinting offense, placing a hand against their chest and making a shocked face for a moment. But that dissolves into a grin again, and they nod, opening the door now that it’s clicked unlocked for them. I’ll bring it up to my boss, but right now we don’t really have any— evidence this is in our area of expertise. I think you’re better off cooperating with SESA and assuming it’s ability or technology related.”

Because— well— that’s not what they do.

WIth that, they step out, adding with a sly grin, “Just stay away from that blowfish sushi.”

The door starts to close, then stops and they lean back in one more time. “One more question… For my own curiosity. Where did you get the name Department of Exterior from anyway?”

"'I'd tell you more, but I really can't,'" Yi-Min quotes with outward mournfulness, lifting one shoulder in a bare shrug that is visible should Castle happen to glance up at the rearview mirror one more time. If the DoE was allowed their full house of secrets, so she would keep the few she had to herself.

"I will mark your advice on the blowfish, though. Good night, Castle." With that, she honks her horn one single time to make sure that the agent has cleared out of the path of her car before she begins backing it up. She may have come dangerously, blithely close to shooting them nearer the beginning of their encounter, but running them over also isn’t her goal right now.

With a disappointed expression, Castle closes the door, backing away a step as she honks the horn and pulls out of the parking lot. They stay at a safe distance, watching her drive away, without moving until she is out of sight. If she circles back around, the Agent is already gone, as if they’d never been there.

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