Cat And The Fiddle, Part I


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Scene Title Cat And The Fiddle, Part I
Synopsis After a long search, Monica Dawson and Asi Tetsuyama close in on the clandestine location of Ami Nakamura.
Date June 4, 2020

Just outside of Kansas City proper lies Kittyhawk Ranch, a modest-sized equestrian stable and riding grounds that remained untouched through the Civil War. The original owners sold the land after the first explosion in Midtown in 2006 and moved to Canada, and the property languished on the market for several years before being purchased by a charitable organization called the Petros Foundation.

Nearby to the stables there is a sixteen room mansion tucked back from the road and nestled in a dense forest of ash and elm trees. The long driveway that leads up to the estate grounds is secured by a gated fence and a call box to the mansion proper. The twelve foot high rod iron fence that surrounds the entire property feels like an unusual layer of security for a place otherwise so discreet. The grounds themselves are covered with small security cameras mounted in the lower boughs of the trees and wirelessly networked to a central security hub inside the building.

Beyond the fence, the grounds of this estate are patrolled by four armed security officers in plain clothes. They belong to Malachite, a small private military company that is discreetly owned by the Petros Foundation.

It’s only 200 feet from the fence to the grounds of the mansion. The doors are monitored by a private security system and there is extensive security camera coverage within the mansion itself, which consists of three floors sprawling across the grounds. There are five more plain-clothes security officers inside, all connected to a radio network for regular comms updates.

In the backyard of the estate, by a circular pool, Ami Nakamura sunbathes on a lawn chair, eyes shadowed by overly large black sunglasses, hands folded behind her head. Not far away, a man and a woman decades older than Ami sit in quiet conversation, both somewhere in their sixties. They are each smiling, drinking tea and playing cards in the warm summer sun.

On the outside this estate resembles nothing more than a wealthy family that had a child at an unconventional age.

But the truth goes so much deeper.

Kittyhawk Ranch
Kansas City, Missouri

June 4th
2:12 pm

«Please drive through.»

The voice over the loudspeaker at the security checkpoint greets the passengers of in black SUV. The driver, Jo Bevilacqua offers back a cheery, “Okie dokie!” Then she rolls up the driver’s side window.

Okie-dokie? Aria Baumgartner mouths from the passenger seat, looking over her shoulder to where Monica Dawson and Asi Tetsuyama sit in the spacious comfort of the back seats. It may look like a vehicle built for luxury, but the fact that this SUV weight close to a ton more than others of its make and model is on account of the security plating on the outside and the reinforced bullet-resistant glass. It isn’t so much a car as it is a light tank with rims.

As the gate to the estate opens, Jo pulls forward along the crushed gravel driveway. She looks up into the rearview mirror, catching Monica’s eyes. “So, you’re sure you want me to wait in the car?” She asks, one dark brow raised in anticipation of fisticuffs.

Monica can't help a soft laugh— not at Jo's colloquialism, but at Aria's reaction. It's so unlikely anyone in the Deveaux Society ever said the words okie dokie before this moment. One for the history books.

"For now, yeah. If things go wrong, we'll send up a flare." Which is to say, Jo will receive a text inviting her to join them in the fisticuffs. "Hopefully, this all goes smoothly." Because so many things do. Monica sighs a little at her own words, but reaches up to give Jo a reassuring shoulder squeeze. "But I promise not to bogart the punching if it comes to it. And hey, maybe you'll get to drive the battle tank through the front door."

And now that she's mentioned it, she's jealous that she isn't behind the wheel.

Damn it.

Asi's eyes are glowing blue as she looks out the tinted windows, elbow along the arm rest while her fist is propped against her chin. A tiny drone in the far distance feeds her information about the estate's exterior, eyes dragging slowly across the horizon as she looks through the drone upon the back of the mansion rather than what she sees directly before her.

"We're in the right place, at least," she murmurs to Monica. "Daughter's out back, relaxing. Definitely doesn't appear under duress in any way. There's…" Her eyes narrow for a moment, consulting the other faces she sees. "Athan Stone is also outside with her. The third is an older woman— Not immediately sure who she is. I'd speculate, but… well."

She turns away from the window to look over to Monica, head leaning away from her hand even if her arm doesn't fall. "So long as we don't fail any test they might put to us, this should be fairly straightforward. With Zimmerman and Shaw's deaths being public knowledge, along with your installation as the new Deveaux leadership…"

So long as Stone isn't playing by some other rules now.

"Not being turned away's a good first step," Asi notes. She's trying to think positive here, or at least make it look like she is.

“Your call boss,” Jo says as she leans toward Monica, tipping her mirrored sunglasses down the bridge of her nose. “You make the call, I’ll come in hot.”

When Monica and Asi exit the vehicle, they are greeted by a member of the house staff security. His earpiece is subtle, but still obvious to people like Monica and Asi. “Please, if you’d join us out back. Mr. Stone is expecting you.” He directs the pair of women up the steps into the estate, through a spacious foyer, and out a pair of French doors to the back patio.

That’s the first moment when Monica gets a glimpse of Ami Nakamura. She’s older than Monica would’ve expected, with how Kimiko talks about her being her baby. She’s practically an adult. Ami seems disinterested in both Monica and Asi’s arrival, lounged back in her poolside chair taking in the sun.

Athan Stone is more of a cipher to both women. He rises from his seat at the black wrought-iron table with a brisk smoothness. “Monica Dawson,” Athan greets with a perfectly aligned and pearl-white smile, “and Major Asi Tetsuyama. It’s an honor.” Athan doesn’t offer his hand to shake, but rather extends an offer for the two women to join him at the garden table under the warm sun.

It’s only then that Monica gets a good look at the older, short-haired woman sitting with Athan. Her wide-brimmed sun hat hid her features right up until she looked square into Monica’s eyes…

…and Monica recognized her.


It’s Kitty.

The situation quickly becomes something far from what Monica expected, but it's hard to tell if she's put off balance, because she merely sweeps her gaze across the trio before landing on Athan with a smile. "It's nice to meet you, Mr. Stone. Please, just call me Monica." She moves to take a seat, settling in with a look to Kitty. It was difficult to see her like this. Monica remembers Cat as a complicated person, but with such a gift. She gives her a smile, "You can call me Monica, too."

She looks to Ami, giving her a nod that should serve as a greeting if the young woman decides to engage, but not actually disturb her if she doesn't. But when she ends up turning to Asi, it's with an odd expression. One that her friend knows means Monica has changed the plan and that she's improvising.

One hopes, with less parkour and gunfire than when she usually goes off script. But seeing an older teen instead of a young child— well, it does change things.

Asi's expression goes unchanging when she's spoken to using a title that's no longer hers. She settles for dipping her head when addressed, looking to Athan and then to his guest in respectful turn. When Monica turns to her, the look is met without outward sign other than to ease herself into a chair.

It wouldn't be the first time they'd pursued a lead regarding a missing child together— to come upon a child nearly an adult, and apparently in anything but dire straits.

"Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Stone," she replies with mild regard, then notes with a lift of her brow. "This is a remarkable estate you have out here."

Athan smiles demurely and waves one hand in a politely dismissive gesture to Asi. “It belongs to Raymond Praeger, actually,” he admits as he settles back down at the garden table, pulling his chair in and picking up his delicate ceramic cup from its saucer. “Mr. Praeger has gone to great lengths to make sure the Ferrymen and their associates are taken care of, within the extent of his power, and the ones that need protection receive it.”

Sipping from a cup of tea, Athan smiles to Asi over the brim, then looks to Monica and back. “Pardon my manners here,” he says apologetically as he sets down his tea, motioning to the older woman sitting by his side, one who hasn’t so much as made meaningful eye contact with either Monica or Asi. “This is Kitty,” he says in a gentle tone of voice, “and since you’re here with Miss Dawson—” he corrects himself, “Monica/, I assume it’s safe to admit she’s one of the remaining refugees from 2040 that we’ve kept in confidence.”

Kitty slowly blinks a look over to Asi, her thin brows furrowed. Coal-dark eyes look at her as though the old woman was staring through her rather than at her. “I don’t think we’ve met,” Kitty says with a weary voice, offering out a hand across the table with a polite smile. The skin on her hand looks as thin as parchment paper and just as fair, her nails delicately maintained and painted the color of a candy apple.

By the pool, Ami angles a look over at Monica, then sits up in her folding lounge chair, adjusting her sunglasses. She doesn’t say anything, just watches the exchange and considers the people gathered at the garden table with quiet introspection. Then, with a dip of her head, she takes a few steps forward and smoothly dives into the pool.

Athan smiles at Monica and Asi, motioning for them to join him at the table. “Come, sit.” He invites.

“I’m sure there’s plenty to talk about.”

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