Be Good for Goodness' Sake


kaylee3_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Be Good for Goodness' Sake
Synopsis He's making a list, he's checking it twice ~ he's gonna find out who's naughty or nice ♪
Date January 13, 2020

Neutral Grounds, border of Phoenix Heights and the ruins of Queens

The name of this dank, dingy coffee shop squatting on a bare fringe of civilization is either grimacingly awful or quite clever, depending on who one asks. Halfway between a dive and a literal hole in the wall, the little establishment shelters just beyond the far eastern shadow of the Safe Zone like a beetle bravely darkening one tiny corner of a spreading canvas. The view out the bars of the front door is one of collapsed concrete, of the last corners of razor-wire fencing wrapped generously around this particular stretch of the border. Beyond: an abrupt cessation of any remaining presence, or pretense, of law. And ruins, of course. An unbroken landscape of them.

But inside the cramped confines: the perfect rendezvous site for those uninterested, or unable, to pass through the requisite checkpoints into the Safe Zone proper. No ID is needed for the luxury of meeting here under entirely casual yet covert circumstances, and to those with a good reason to make use of the premises, Neutral Grounds had become thoroughly familiar as exactly that.

Nobody really comes here for the coffee.

“Neutral Grounds.”

Bob reads it in a flat tone, before giving a short laugh… The man could appreciate a good pun. “I like this place already,” he declares with hands on his jean clad hips, clearly ignoring the shady look of it.

Kaylee angles an amused look over her shoulder at her bodyguard and Security Chief. Though at the moment she wasn’t dressed like a CEO of a big tech company. She didn’t look like the type that would step into a boardroom, with her jeans and leather jacket. “I dunno how you stay married. You are such a dork sometimes.”

“Pffah, she loves it,” Bob comments, moving to hold the door open for her.

“Mmm… I doubt she’d say the same,” Kaylee quips back, before letting the gloom of the place surround here and refocus her to why they were there. “Find a place, keep watch.” She didn’t need him looming over the conversation or making comments like he often does. He gives a wordless affirmative, before breaking off for a table, leaving his boss to approach the one that called them there.

The bird had been a surprise, a pleasant one. It meant Eileen was alive and well enough to still use her ability. The telepath would be lying if she said she didn’t think of her and Gabriel often. She also hoped the avian telepath would have put in a good word… or that her brother spoke positively about her. Else this meeting might not go well.

When Kaylee and her escort insinuate themselves into the heavily stilled, aromatic mustiness of the little shop, they do not draw many eyes away from the thinly scattered patrons already present, despite the lack of subtlety in their entrance. There is only a cursory glance up towards the duo from the one or two that are sitting closest to the door when it swings open— and these linger for only a few seconds before dropping again, re-focusing on mouths and mugs and the odd newspaper.

Here inside Neutral Grounds, all visitors enter on a tacitly understood footing. Here, one's business is generally understood to be one's own.

Based on this one unwritten rule, it is not a complicated process to discern the identity of the sole woman there who appears to pay them any true heed. Because, as might have been expected, Yi-Min is already there waiting: a slim shadow set amongst deeper shadows, arms folded over the belted overcoat that she wears.

"Glad you've made it here," she offers genially to Kaylee by way of a greeting once she has emerged into reasonable murmuring distance, flickering only a single look at the figure of Bob seating himself at a table behind them. The small Taiwanese woman is not smiling, but she appears serene and untroubled, and her voice is light and level.

“Mmm. I’ll admit it almost didn’t happen,” Kaylee offers truthfully with a small smile and shoots a significant look over her shoulder at her bodyguard. For Bob’s part he looks less than pleased to be there; watching people coming in and out of the establishment. “With my brother’s kidnapping, my Security Chief was pretty against it, but the method of the message’s delivery compelled me.”

Focus returned to the other woman, the telepath offered an apologetic, “Richard told me about you a bit ago.” The fact that she was there was telling for the information. A slender hand motions to the chair across from Yi-min, “May I?” Kaylee asks for permission, even if it wasn’t necessary. It was the polite thing to do.

In response to the request, Yi-Min inclines her chin in a swift and silent 'yes, of course.' She is already sitting down in the appropriate seat herself, and though she arranges herself in it without further ado, she does not opt to lean against the curved plastic of the back just yet. Instead, she remains comfortably poised as she is, attentive to the slight changes in the other woman's facial expression as the semi-apology is given.

“Of course. I can understand that. I was— am sorry to hear about the kidnapping." By the faint, delicate shadow that settles over Yi-Min's face just before she says this, it seems that she means this genuinely, in a deeper sense than just a comment on the obvious disruption to their business.

It was sometimes too easy to forget, in this world of spycraft and plots and the necessity of wearing faces, that a more personal touch lingers behind every mask worn.

"You must be incredibly worried."

“Thank you, I am,” Kaylee says the pleasant smile fading into concern, it wasn’t an act. She was worried.

There is a grace to the telepath, as she sits across from Yi-min. Much like the other woman she doesn’t slouch back into the seat. Her back straight and shoulders squared, Kaylee couldn’t quite shake the mark her travels into the past had placed on her. Not completely.

“But, sadly, the world doesn’t stop for worries and kidnappings. We soldier on.” There is a sort of resignation to that, but also hope. Which she confirms by adding, “Plus, this is Richard. He always has a way of surviving.” As he had so many times before. “I cling to that.”

Then something shifts in Kaylee, falling back into the business in hand. All emotions are shut away and that pleasant smile returns. Yi-min is studied thoughtfully and a decision made. To be honest. “I will admit, when my brother told me to sit on what I learned, it was tough.” No doubt, Yi-min knew she was a cop. Kaylee was trusting her brother, which meant that blood was often thicker. “What I saw in Miller’s mind was concerning, but Richard told me you had the situation well in hand.” By the upward twitch of those blonde brows, she was hoping that it was still true.

That was a practical attitude. Good.

Small hands folded neatly in her lap, Yi-Min lets her gaze slant downwards slightly, a gesture of acknowledgement that also allows for a sliver of the reflection she is very candidly performing to show through.

"At the current moment, yes, I do believe that I have matters in hand, at least in my small corner of the web. But I am not so foolish as to believe my precautions to be unshakeable. That fate may not still upset everything regardless— this is Adam Monroe that we are dealing with, after all, and I will not make the mistake of underestimating him. Hence, why I believe in the necessity of still meeting with you."

To that end…

"What were these things that you saw in Miller's mind? If you do not mind that I ask. I have questioned him, of course. But, to be able to see it firsthand. Well." Obviously that is on quite another level altogether.

There is a soft sound of amusement that escapes the back of Kaylee’s throat at the mention of Adam Monroe. It translates to a smile on her lips and a dip of her head, “Sorry, as someone who once worked for Adam, I couldn’t agree more.” Much like most of the Ray siblings, it seems that Kaylee once worked on the side of organized crime.

The question is expected, of course, a corner of the telepath’s mouth tugs up a little. “I wasn’t able to linger long, else he would figure out I was digging around; but I saw a man. I believe named Garza,” It was the name associated with the person she saw in Zachery’s memory. “He asked Doctor Miller, with the assistance of his prisoner Doctor Allan, to create a version of Gorgon to kill something else. Or that is how he put it.” There is a slow shrug of Kaylee’s shoulder. While she knew what Gorgon wasn, the rest was beyond her.

“Garza gave him a vile of the virus and a sample that was ‘close in proximity’ to what they were wanting to kill. If you trust me enough, I can give you that memory,” A hand is held out with palm up, as Kaylee offers. “I won’t be insulted if you refuse.”

The dark focus behind Yi-Min's eyes does not waver, though it does take on perhaps an extra glint of curiosity at Kaylee's mention of also having worked for Adam. A story to inquire after at a later point, clearly.

For now, however, she only dips her head as well in a similar sign of mute permissiveness—

—and after only a slight moment of hesitation stretches out her own palm, with a tentative, wordless grace, to place facedown onto Kaylee's own.

The moment Yi-min’s hand rests on Kaylee’s own, the memory is suddenly there; just like she lived the moment herself. While the other woman witnesses the event, Kaylee can’t help but look relieved that she was given trust.

Garza picks up the case and flips open the latches, then lifts the lid. A low-hanging mist pools out of the refrigerated case, revealing a single metal vial ensconced in foam padding and beside it a circular plastic dish usually reserved for cultures or tissue samples. “This vial contains a lethal virus known as Gorgon, it attacks the nervous system of people like us,” he says with a gesture to his chest, “and causes fatigue, paralysis, and eventually brain death. I need you and Doctor Allen to develop a new virus based on Gorgon, but one that targets something else.”

“Inside this dish,” Garza points to the plastic case, “is a tissue sample from as close a proximity to our target as we can get. Doctor Allen should be able to help you replicate cells from this necrotic sample and produce new, viable nervous system tissue to test this new virus on.” For a prisoner, Doctor Allen doesn’t seem too surprised by any of this research, nor nearly as confrontational as Zachery would expect.

“This is important work, Zachery,” Garza says with a graveness in his tone. “This is the kind of work that will save the world.”

Once the memory is placed into the other woman’s head, Kaylee gently pulls her hand back. “It’s not much, but like I said, we were trying to be subtle at the time and digging deeper would have been noticeable, I fear.” Finally, leaning back in her chair, she lets her concern show. “You can see how hard it was to sit on it. Though it sounds like it was only for an individual, but… it only takes a small mistake and they - from what I can tell - don’t exactly have the best facilities for messing with a virus like that.”

For Yi-Min, trusting Kaylee about this is something of a non-question in light of the necessity of the situation. What reservations she may have are irrelevant.

When the experience concludes, though she does not entirely let it show, Yi-Min is left robbed of some of her breath after Kaylee takes her hand away again. From the look on her face, certain words have already risen internally and are being given contemplation, all creeping in careful turn through the space of her thoughts.

Now Yi-Min has a face to attach to the name of Garza, for one thing.

But regardless, it seems that she has no issue in choosing what to ask after first. "Was there any more to this memory?" This comes with a note of low-sounding, pressing exigency that had not been present before. "How would this save the world?"

The question gets a small negative shake of Kaylee’s head. “My window closed, too quickly. But considering Adam’s obsession with stopping what we’ve been calling the Entity, it stands to reason that it might very well be the intended target.”

The telepath is quiet for a moment, eyes unfocusing, letting her ability reach out around them, touch on those closest to ensure they’re not listening. Once she is satisfied her focus returns to Yi-min. “Adam believes he is the only one that destroy a being called the Entity, which he had failed twice to do. It keeps returning to our world.” A smile tugs at the corner of her mouth, apologetic for its craziness. “I’ve seen some of what it is capable of from the memories of others and I agree, it needs to be stopped.”

Kaylee sighs out heavily, attention falling to the hands in her lap, “But this… if this is his plan, it feels like playing with fire in the middle of a hay field.”

"You were there too, weren't you."

It seems to come out of nowhere, but Yi-Min's tone carries a small underscore of recognition. They had both been there, after all, at Eve's little dream-inspired get-together. Rally. Whatever it was.

On seeing that apologetic expression from Kaylee, Yi-Min gives her head the slightest of shakes as though to dispel the notion that any of this could possibly be too crazy. They are already far, far past that point now. "I have also heard much about this thing, in recent days. It is still hard to believe that one being could pose such danger that even to talk about it is unwise."

Like a boogeyman of myth, if such a boogeyman could actively draw power out of fear.

"If such was indeed Adam's plan, it would make sense for him to wish to keep it as secret as possible. To us— to those of us involved with it under Praxis, I mean— he seems bent on giving the impression that what we are doing is for the sake of genocide. The banner of a violently pro-Evolved cause."

As if that horrific notion was somehow preferable.

And perhaps for Adam, it is exactly that.

"Yet I must ask, how can you be so certain? What is your history with him?"

She was there and by the look of realization, Yi-min is right. “The nightmare.” Kaylee offers, along with the other woman’s thoughts.

She doesn’t linger on that moment, moving on to the more important issue. “Preventing genocide. That might not be too far from the truth or at least what he thinks he’s doing.” Kaylee offers with a sheepish smile that pulls at the corner of her mouth. There is a hesitation in giving her full background. She can, however, give some clarity. “To be honest, I can’t be certain, but being a telepath gives me an advantage, in that I can witness what postcogs and seers see.” Postcogs?

“I know Adam had been dealing with this thing for at least a thousand years or more. Trapped it twice, only to have it escape.” Kaylee presses on, offering some of what she knows of it. “I’ve seen portions of both events through postcogs. The last attempt being in the eighties by him and the Company.”

There is a hesitation on this next part, not because the telepath doesn’t want to tell her… Kaylee looked mildly disturbed. “But, genocide… I witnessed an event where it somehow wiped out a whole city of people down to the smallest baby and did it with Adam’s help.” A hand lifts to stall Yi-min’s judgement, just yet. “I believe that he has been mentally enslaved by it many times in the past and will again. Golden eyes are an indicator, but not for everyone, and a part of me thinks he is still being manipulated somehow, though I don’t think he’d believe it.”

Here Kaylee pauses, taking a deep breath. It was a lot and most of it sounded crazy to her saying it outloud. Studying the woman across from her, she says softly, “Look, I know I’m not Richard, but I also knew Adam, just like he did. While we both worked for him when we were young, Adam treated me like family.” When she was young, clearly not the case now, even if there are obvious lingering emotions there.

"No, not preventing genocide. The very opposite of that. This is, at least, the outward face that he puts on." The sound of this correction from Yi-Min is tersely soft. Insistent by necessity, yet unhappy to have to flip such a misconception on its head. "He has— been involved in propagating pro-Evolved, anti-human rhetoric behind the doors of the company as of late. It is troublesome for more than one reason." As Kaylee can conceivably imagine, evidenced silently but unmistakably by the very existence of Shedda Dinu.

"I have been tasked along with Zachery with working on this Gorgon virus, and our deadline approaches. This is why it is so vital that I receive some insight into Adam's true motives. Does he really wish to attack those without abilities, as he appears willing to make it seem? Is this— yet another instance where he has been 'enslaved' by this thing, as you said he has been in the past? Or, as a third possibility, does he secretly wish for a weapon capable of ending it?"

There is a great deal of opacity in all of it, and thus, a great deal of frustration on Yi-Min's part. A black mire of possibilities, of branching dispositions and futures, none of them truly open to her.

But to a telepath, much less one who apparently viewed Adam as family at one point in time, this might be a different story altogether. "I am unsure of what to do to get better answers. Speculation is not enough, not anymore. Not as time runs short." There is a thin, prim lining of defeat in Yi-Min's calm voice as she says this. An iceberg's tip of chagrined helplessness.

A placid plea.

“I’ll help the best I can,” Kaylee offers with a weak and mildly uncertain smile. “You know how to contact me, you’ll have my personal number too.” Which Bob clearly doesn’t like, by the flat look he tosses their way, he’s tense.

“One thing that is bothering me,” Kaylee says, brows still lowered in thought. “ All these clones and he hasn’t spared to check on y’all himself? This is kinda a big thing. If this virus is as important as y’all have been told, his ego is big enough to have his hands in it and would want to see to it himself. At least check in on it… the man has ways to do it.” THe telepath’s head tilts a bit as if considering another thought. “And if he has the whole of Praxis and Praxia, why hide it away in a basement in a place like Providence, and simply walk away from it without checking it yourself?”

Hands move in a helpless gesture, Kaylee’s head shaking, “I don’t have all the pieces, neither do you, but something feels like it is missing.” Maybe she was stretching for a reason to think he wouldn’t do something so low, but Adam has said it himself he was different… but in what way? “Question I’d be asking, is what’s being hidden from y’all?” Brows lift a bit and she seems to be hesitant, but eventually she asks, “Have you tried talking to him? Directly? Does he even know what you have been tasked with? There are a lot of miles between y’all and Praxia.”

The tenseness emanating from Bob’s large figure is strong enough for Yi-Min to notice. It’s something she acknowledges briefly, turning a faint but forthright smile his way as though to convey her understanding in the one limited way possible.

Worry was understandable. More than.

Much larger things are at stake, however, so this lasts for all of about a second before Yi-Min's gaze is settled on Kaylee again. "Yes. This is something I have thought on, many times. This odd decision is what makes me think that he has another, more secretive goal in mind— one which he must keep hidden away in the backwaters of Providence, at least until it is ready. One that involves that which is dangerous to even name: it may be that it is dangerous for him to draw attention to any of us. As for talking with him, I have… tried. Dialogue with him is not possible."

In multiple respects. So far as Yi-Min is concerned, Adam is as closed off to her as a literal fortress.

As the two women sit silently near each other, however, another thought grows in the stillness of Yi-Min's mind, and Kaylee can feel it as it stirs to life and then amalgamates into something clearer in form. "I know of a way that you may be able to help," she utters more slowly, quietly. "Adam is not the only one I potentially have to turn to. Zachery has revealed to me a list of those that he is working with. He is far from the most trustworthy source, god knows. But perhaps, with the aid of your gift, we might approach one of these."

As Yi-Min shares her thoughts, Kaylee nods along listening. All of it made sense and not beyond Adam. Even YI-Min’s ability not to be able to talk to him. He was a particularly hard person to get a hold of. The Ray family should know, especially, Kaylee. “Pity. He’s really got things that locked down, huh?”

The request is surprising, brows tick up. “A list?” While it isn’t unusual for her to be asked to help, Yi-Min is new and trusting her quickly. Though, it also makes her smile. “I’m here if you need me. If my brother comes back, I have to go back to my day job at the PD,” there is a glint of mischief when she says that, “So we’ll have to tread carefully when that happens.” How easy it was to fall into old habits…

“Otherwise, as long as whoever you have me help with isn’t mentally booby trapped, I can help,” Kaylee says, “Groups like Shedda-Dinu have a nasty habit of making my job… difficult.” Or deadly.

"Yes. A list of those who are purportedly members of Shedda Dinu, as… kindly contributed by Zachery Miller. Each name will of course have to be checked, and re-checked, and re-checked again, with the utmost care. This is something I have intended to pass onto you and Richard, for you have far more resources than I do to perform such a followup. Here. Please."

Yi-Min's hand reaches into an inner pocket of her overcoat, and retracts with a precisely folded rectangle of paper. Clandestinely, but without any delay between the two actions, she offers this out between two fingers for Kaylee to take.

Within lies, as she had promised, a lengthy list of neatly alphabetized names and surnames recorded in Yi-Min's tidy, spider-like script.

"Any future dealings with Shedda can probably be assumed to be difficult, by default. It is what it is, I suppose. I almost daren’t ask what you mean by ‘mentally booby trapped.’"

The list disappears into the fist of the telepath, only to open in front of her, her body covering it from view. There is a moment as eyes move over the handwriting, before air is sucked between clenched teeth in surprise.

Some of the names clearly mean something to Kaylee.

“Thank you for this,” she says softly, folding the piece of paper again and tucking it into the inner pocket of her worn leather jacket. “I shouldn’t be surprised at some of the names.” Kaylee shakes her head, folding arms on the table. Relaxing a little, maybe. “I worked with them when I worked with Adam and others currently work for my family now.”

Brows lower as she offers, “So you know, Ash and Curtis are the same person and he’s dangerous.” She warns, even if the woman in front of her seemed capable. “He has a trigger in his head that flips between the two, it’s the trap I was talking about. If I had pushed into his mind, I’d be mentally split too.”

Kaylee looks down at the table as she tries to explain… “There are people with the ability to place triggers in a person’s mind. I can’t simply remove it or mess with his mind too much, without becoming a victim of it.” A finger taps her temple, “It will imprint in my own head. The hazards of telepathy.” She shares a sheepish smile to the woman.

“In Curtis’ case, his trigger took away all his inhibitions and made him the killing machine that is Ash.” Kaylee’s shoulders lift again, slower this time. “I have a family, I can’t risk that happening to me.”

In the meantime, Yi-Min's gaze rests on Kaylee's, quietly monitoring the reaction to some of the finer points of that list. "Again, you will have to be careful," she advises as her new acquaintance concludes the inspection. "Investigate all of these names, but do keep in your mind the source. There might be any number of mistakes, born of malice or ignorance." Either/or were possible, knowing Miller.

As to the exposition on the mental dangers posed by this Ash, Yi-Min can only cast her brows downwards a touch when she hears it, a darker look shading her face. Knowledge of telepathy was hardly her forte, but she did not need any in order to react to how deeply unpleasant this sounded.

"Tian a," Yi-Min murmurs out, voice still dark and marked out by heavy distaste. She inhales faintly, and seeks out the other woman's eyes again with a little bit of wryness. "Well. Perhaps not this one, then. But, there are many others on the list to choose from. Tell me." A more abrupt question now. Curious.

"Is your telepathic ability capable of removing memories?"

What a question to ask…. Kaylee’s brows lift, but she still answers the question. “Sorta,” Kaylee offers with only a bit of reluctance. “I am better at manipulating the narrative, slight of hand, and breaking through doors. My own blocks, however, crumble away over time. Only a few months at most.”

Pulling out the list again, Kaylee looks at it but doesn’t unfold it again. “And don’t worry, I’m the last person you have to worry about doing anything until I talk to these people. I’ve been where they are. When I joined, back then, I was pretty lost and he kept me from becoming something worse.”

Glancing across the table again, Kaylee adds, “I got out and I personally believe people deserve second chances.”

If Yi-Min takes note of the increased reticence in Kaylee's reply, she doesn't remark on it. She also doesn't remark on her own concern being much less about giving second chances, than simply wasting time on false trails.

That difference of opinion doesn't seem terribly important, at least right now. Not as much as: "Even if it would only be temporary, this is still very useful. If worse comes to worst, a few months should be… all that is needed." After all, in that amount of time, the gathering storm would already have come to a head.

Yi-Min's mouth is unreadable, lax in an expression of deadly calm. Her eyes do the smiling for her.

"I think I know just the place on this list to start."

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