adam_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

lanhua_icon.gif val_icon.gif

Scene Title Failing
Synopsis Everyone is doing it.
Date August 16, 2019

It is with a flash of rainbow-hued light and a primal scream that three people come crashing down to the cold, hard ground.

Rolling onto her back, Lanhua Chen exhales a violent scream and flips onto her stomach, smashing her armored hand into the floor with a shower of sparks. “No! No, no, no, no!” Each outburst elicits another slam of her hand into the floor, teeth clenched and eyes wrenched shut. The sudden exhalation of a breathless gasp from beside her doesn’t even register. Neither does the sudden collapse Val’s pink-haired form onto her hands and knees, followed by the spattering of blood droplets from her mouth and nose. She cups a hand over her mouth, her stomach heaves, and a few trickling lines of blood drool from between her fingers.

Nearby, Yi-Min Yeh is dying. Blood pools out from her abdomen onto the cold concrete floor. Her fingertips and feet are freezing cold, breath coming in short and shallow jolts with an aching rise and fall of her stomach. She can feel the wetness — but not the warmth — of blood pulsing from between her fingers and an involuntary keening sound at the back of her throat. Lanhua’s screams are muffled behind the tinnitus ringing in her ears. Val’s stomach-twisting consequences of long-distance teleportation are a blurry shape in her peripheral vision.

But what she can see, as her head lolls to the side and tears well up in her eyes, is a rusting orange shape viewed out a panoramic window.

The Golden Gate Bridge.

Nine Hours Later

Praxis Ziggurat

Praxia, California Safe Zone

August 17th

1:19 am Local Time

The soft beep of a heart-rate monitor rouses Yi-Min from a drug-induced state of catatonia. Eyes fluttering open, she finds herself perhaps unsurprisingly in a hospital bed. Dark walls of concrete slope at a 45-degree angle to her right, turning halfway down the room into a wall of angled glass that shows the glittering silhouette of a nighttime cityscape. The lights in her room are dimmed, making an attempt to have the room feel both comfortable and calming. Sounds of gunshots still echo in her mind, pain aches at her abdomen and shoulder where medical gauze is pinned safely in place.

As Yi-Min stirs, she feels tension at her right hand and notices an IV shunt in the back of her palm. Dark liquid flows through the plastic tube connected to it, tracing back to an IV bag full of blood hanging from a wheeled stand along with a second line of intravenous fluids. She was shot.

Charity shot her.

And it was hard to blame her, given everything. Yi-Min would probably have shot herself as well.

It has also been years since she had endured anything comparable to this degree of physical injury. Compartmentalization comes as a task involving more struggle than it would otherwise, given the disorientation hazing her newly-awakened senses, but she successfully dismisses the sharpest of the details from her mind. The clairvoyant with a (now not-unearned) enmity for her is not what she really wants to think about now.

It is supplanted, as awareness of her environment increases by degrees, by a gratitude that she is apparently alive to reminisce about it at all.

After the chaos of the encounter she had just come from, the silence of the room she finds herself in feels like a heavy thing draped around her, and she unconsciously slows her breathing to match. To listen. Using her forearms, she levers herself up a little against the pillow that is behind her propping her up; not enough to try to sit up fully, but only enough to get a slightly better view of her surroundings. It also doubles as a reflexive test of the extent, and speed, to which she can move without receiving an immediate rebuke from her body. Dulled pain flares at her torso despite her ginger care, but she ignores it in favor of concentrating on external information. The muted cadence of the heart monitor. The long, illuminated skyline against a backdrop of darkness.

The Pine Barrens feel a world away in more than one sense. How long had she been out? Yi-Min scans for an indication of time, other than night.

She finds none.

That inability to place herself within a specific moment is disorienting. The confrontation at the factory feels like it was moments ago, but the dull ache of pain informs her of the likelihood of that. But before Yi-Min can spend more time arranging her thoughts, the door to her room slowly pushes open as someone enters.

“Oh, you're…” Adam Monroe looks surprised to see Yi-Min up. He finishes entering the room, letting the door shut quietly behind himself. It looks like he's just come from a professional meeting, what with his three-piece suit and tie, sharp lines of charcoal and blue shaping his silhouette. “How’re you feeling?”


Is the first answer to his question, judging by the way that Yi-Min watches his quiet entrance with an equally quiet attention from her resting position, one brow arching a hair when she sees who it is that steps through. Awake enough not to mistrust her own judgment in recognizing Adam Monroe: a face she had seen only once prior, and that in a far more business-like capacity, but which she would subsequently have placed anywhere.

A sliver of some apprehension slithers into the base of her spine, but it does not reach all the way to her face, which instead contains an expression of calm curiosity that she does not bother to hide. "In all truth, I have had better days. If days it has been," she observes with a mildness that passes for cordial, shifting her IV-tethered hand in such a way that it drapes across her midsection.

"But I am alive. And, cognizant enough to be surprised that you would come to pay a housecall."

“This, ah, cluster-fuck requires my direct attention,” Adam so cavilierly indicates. On his way to Yi-Min’s bedside he picks up a stool by the seat, setting it down next to the bed but not yet sitting on it. Instead, he makes his way over to the IV bag of plasma and turns the flow off. “I’m sorry you had to… go through all of this. I should’ve known better than to send Lanhua out like that, but sometimes I’m not…” he trails off, shaking his head and waving one hand dismissively at the air.

“Doctor Ford stitched you back up as best as he could,” Adam says, distractedly, as he disconnects the IV line and then moves to Yi-Min’s side to delicately disconnect the end of it in her hand. “It hasn’t been all that long, it’s the 16th— ” he reconsiders that, “17th by now probably. I was worried you wouldn’t wake up at all, to be honest. You lost a lot of blood, and I— wasn’t around.” Even as he says that, Adam walks away from her bedside and over to a small area of cabinets and drawers, fishing out medical supplies.

“What’s the last thing you remember?” Adam asks over his shoulder.

"Pain. A silence that was too loud, and too long." This would have been the adrenaline, Yi-Min knows. "Glimpses of Lanhua, both before and after."

There is a touch more depth to her recollections than this, of course. The expression on Kara's face, as though frozen in time. That one is a little detail that she thinks she'll leave out. "She, I assume, is the one that is responsible for getting me here."

The suggestions of weary shadows beneath Yi-Min’s eyes become more apparent as she tracks Adam's movements about the setting without lifting her head. Without commentary, either, when he leans in over her to detach the unit from her hand. Despite the unbroken patience of her vigil, if she is concerned by what he is doing, she makes no note of it. "How is she, speaking of which?"

“You have Val to thank for your escape,” Adam says, retrieving some clean tubing and needles, “but Lanhua is… resting. She made a grievous error in judgment and it's going to be up to both of us to rectify that. Lanhua doesn't understand how important Eileen is right now,” he turns, bringing the hosing over as crosses the room and settles back down on the stool, “or how much danger she's in.”

Both ends of the tubing have needles on them, and Adam unflinchingly slides one end into his forearm, then connects the other to the IV shunt in the back of Yi-Min’s hand. “I can't have you dying of the infection you have right now. I also can't wait for you to heal naturally.” Flexing his arm, Adam’s dark blood begins to pump into the tubing and head toward Yi-Min’s arm.

“So this is the shortcut,” Adam explains, blue eyes alight to Yi-Min’s darker ones. “Just relax. It'll take effect quickly.”

"That makes sense," Yi-Min affirms in a volume almost too low to hear, not indicating whether she means Val's role in her near-miss of a rescue or Adam's timely, personal presence by her bedside. Both, assumably. Her eyes trail down to the dark liquid as it begins to work its way through the tubing from Adam's arm into her own, and she manages to flash a shaded version of her normally stoic smile. "This must be very important, if it cannot wait. If you cannot wait," she remarks with a faint dryness. "I had been wondering what twists my path would take next. I cannot now return to Providence, for obvious reasons."

It's likely safe to say: any hopes of completing that particular assignment had evaporated as surely as Yi-Min had been forced to action in the wake of Lanhua's reckless antagonism.

Thanks Lanny.

"What manner of danger is Eileen in?" What danger could the wielder of something as powerful as a Conduit be in?

“You don't have much choice in the matter,” is Adam’s way of dodging her question and making it more about Yi-Min’s predicament. As Adam flexes his hand into a fist to facilitate bloodflow, he also stands up and makes sure his arm is higher than hers. “The way in which you were taken is likely to be a sticking point, they'll either want blood or, maybe to welcome you back. I can never tell with these people.”

As the blood makes its way into Yi-Min’s system she can feel it, an unnatural warmth flowing through her veins. With a surprising quickness is moves like a balm to soothe her pain. She can feel things inside herself realigning, the pressure of damaged organs in her chest shifting position, sealing shut, and strengthening. “I need you ready to return, potentially at a moment’s notice when I go to negotiate with them. To try and undo the damage Lanhua did.”

Adam flicks a blue-eyed stare at Yi-Min. “Is it working yet?” With her injuries bandaged, it's hard for him to tell.

This directive, more than anything Adam had said thus far, elicits a visible degree of surprise from Yi-Min. He wanted her back there?

"I almost literally stabbed one of their number in the back. Even had I not, at the end of things, it must have been clear to them that I intended to leave," she informs him impassively, one brow arching upwards. Perhaps this is a detail which had fallen out of whatever report he had received. Turned up a degree or two in magnitude, this would have contained a certain depth of subtle amusement— but the way she now speaks of it, it is only a very simple, very slightly concerned statement of fact. "If immediate negotiation with them is what you plan, I have my doubts that my presence would help. There is at least one among the Remnant's company who is assuredly not a fan of mine.” Guess which one that is.

When Yi-Min next slants her dark gaze upwards to meet Adam's expectant one, it is with a response that does not require words to elucidate. The fluidity of her transformation, once it broaches the barrier from internal to external, is clear. The raw haggardness brought about by physical injury siphons gradually away out of focus even as he watches her, replaced in spreading measure by her old, steady, nearly-reptilian purity of purpose. Her expression remains as placidly neutral as it had been, and yet it is cradled throughout by a strength that had certainly not been present only a few minutes prior.

She slides out a slim hand, tentatively, to grasp the railing of the bed she had nearly died in some hours ago. The movement is smooth and strong all the way through; she next turns her palm upwards and flexes her fingers, testing the extent of the healing, even as she had tested her body's limits to pain earlier.

"…But, perhaps. There are those who would trust me still, despite what I have done. Despite what I would do. Tell me what you would have me do."

“Don’t put the cart before the horse,” Adam explains, flexing his hand open and closed again. “I’m not going to have you there for the first face-to-face, mostly because I’m not completely certain they won’t just execute you on the spot. I need to talk to Eileen, explain as much to her about some… things… as I can.” He flicks a concerned look up to Yi-Min. “There’s some things about her that I hadn’t been made completely aware of, and it’s— changed my perception of events.”

Confident that the changes he’s seen in Yi-Min are for the better, Adam disconnects the transfusion cord from himself and pinches off the end of the tube, then stands up and carefully disconnects it from the shunt in the back of Yi-Min’s hand, then carefully pulls the entire shunt out while the blood is still working its way through her, and she can see the tiny hole seal shut as the needle is withdrawn. Both in Adam’s arm and her hand.

“I made the mistake of leaving management of their relationship to Praxis Heavy in the hands of a corporate presence,” Adam says with a twitch of his mouth into a momentary frown. “Yao Sze is motivated, but she treats everyone like misbehaving pets, rolled up newspaper and all.” All the while, Adam’s tone is conversational. He meanders over to the medical waste bin, dropping the tubing and the needles in. “You try and swat a wild dog with a newspaper and you’ll lose your hand,” he says as he’s turning back. The implication made perfectly clear: she swatted the wrong dog.

That's something Yi-Min can fucking agree with.

"I could have told anyone that from the very start," she sighs softly, neither the sound and the pronoun directed as Adam so much as exhaled in icy agreement with his assessment of things. "They are a den of murderers and former deathday cultists. What had she expected to happen, by deliberately prodding them?"

Yi-Min does not really want to spell out the fact that she of all people had been in a position to point this out, and yet. "I assume you shall be taking direct control from here, or assigning someone less belligerent to do so."

Now that at least one problem has been swept off the table, there are no further reasons for her to remain bedridden. She swivels one leg over the side of the bed and then the other, though she chooses to stay in a seated position on its edge rather than rising to join Adam in his pacing. One hand rests gently atop her lap as her eyes follow him, calm, to where he stops at the bin. "What is it about Eileen that you speak of? It is possible that I may be able to tell you more."

“I can’t say,” is Adam’s quietly dismissive answer. He brings the stool back to where he’d gotten it earlier, then turns to consider Yi-Min in the hospital bed as she is. “I’m going to handle things myself. If you want something done right, and all that. She wasn’t supposed to prod them, but she was supposed to express my displeasure with how they’re handling my resources. But it turns out I was unaware of some variables, and I never would have sent them in had I known.”

Exhaling a sigh through his nose, Adam looks to the window and the San Francisco skyline beyond. “It’ll probably be a week or more before I send you back, after I’ve smoothed things out there. Or, done my level best to.” He glances over to Yi-Min, then walks around the foot of her bed to stand in front of the window. “In the interim, you might be served well in getting to see some of the facilities here. Once we’re done in Providence, I’d prefer if you came to work here full time. Your talents are better served in a place that isn’t such a…” he looks over to her, “how did you put it? Den of murderers and cultists?

Of course he can't.

Following on the back of Adam's sigh, the somewhat similar breath emitted by Yi-Min serves as a sign of assent, if not an entirely happy one. Rather than also letting her gaze drift to the sights outside the window however, she turns it instead directly onto Adam's face. There it rests, coolly gauging some unknown quality behind his eyes.

"Well, let it be so. For now, perhaps there is a wisdom to sending me back after all. I've been able to build up a rapport there; yes, with those murderers and cultists, and after feelings have had time to cool, I cannot see that they will not eventually forgive me of my actions. Eileen and I have been friends for a long time." Here, she again raises a slender eyebrow at him, hands still. "And what shall I be doing once I return? Shall I be resuming my previous duty, as though nothing untoward had ever happened, or turning my attention to something else?"

Adam’s brows furrow, blue eyes cast to the side in consideration of a subtle discoloration on the wall rather than look Yi-Min in the eyes. “I’m going to be sending you to work with an allied operative, a doctor, and… a material asset. You’ll be tasked with finishing the development of a biological agent.” But he doesn’t go any further into specifics.

“I need you to trust me,” is a heavy ask for Adam, as he turns back to Yi-Min. “You’re going to see things, hear things, and more than likely be asked to do things that run counter to your personal beliefs. All I ask of you is that you trust me, because that’s how any of us are going to make it out of the— ” he cuts himself off, lips pressed tightly together and head shaking from side to side.

“I don’t even need your loyalty,” Adam pleads, “I just need you to do what you’re told. If at the end of the day you want to put a knife in my back, let it be once we’re done.

Though there is nothing humorous about any of Adam's request, something in Yi-Min's expression seems to recede in the direction of ease, or at the least amusement. Whichever one it is, the change is elusive. "As if putting a knife in your back would accomplish much," she points out helpfully, her mouth twitching into the wan hint of a smile. After a moment's seeming reflection, she settles her free hand demurely on the back of the one already resting in her lap, which seems to cement her intent to stay seated as she is. She blinks, peaceably.

"Truth be told, I'm not sure whether I should be taking some insult at all this. In my over ten years with Praxis… have I ever been disloyal? I do not know what is so dire that you must speak this way, but worry not that I will ever act for any cause but necessity. My personal beliefs can accommodate much." One need only look into her history to see how true this is.

A slight pause from her, leaving an empty space where a sigh might have fallen. But there is none, not this time. Only that same frank, level, cat-like gaze she has him fixed with. "At the same time, as a scientist, there is only so much I can take on blind faith. You can understand." Not even in her much-younger days under Volken, who had commanded a much higher devotion from her, had she ever fully operated thus.

Thus, it feels only fair to say.

“Love can make people do anything,” Adam says gently, without a point or purpose. It isn't so much directed at Yi-Min as it is perhaps informing his own perspective. Or perhaps it's both. His expression makes it hard to tell. “You'll have your answers,” he says with a subtle shake of his head, “when it is appropriate. I don't expect people to go on faith alone, just a measure of hope.”

Adam looks away from the window, turning to face Yi-Min. “I chose you for this because I know above anyone else you have the wherewithal to do what is necessary to accomplish a task set out before you. I chose you because of who you used to be,” though he does not invoke the name Saga as Sharrow is so prone to. “As long as you understand that, I have faith in you. Not blind, but informed. That's all I can ask in return.”

It would not have much mattered if Adam had. Yi-Min is not shy about most things, and this happens to include embracing the fullness of what she had once been.

In some ways, it is a skin she had never fully shed.

"Love," is the part of this that Yi-Min repeats with some curiosity and a minute tilt of her head, her eyes clear and bright and full of something that makes them appear especially canny in that moment, in the darkened ambiance of the room they share. Her relaxed posture lingers, nested inside a tacit acceptance of Adam's promise of answers to come in the future. He seems to have struck a strange chord with her. She is much more reserved now. "And is it love that drives you to do this?"

Adam’s blue eyes dip down to stare at the tile floor. His silence feels leaden, the muscles working at his jawline tense, and when he looks back to Yi-Min there is a steely quality to him that wasn't there a moment ago.

“I did things for love once,” is Adam’s tense and shaky response. A new silence, somehow weightier than the last, hangs between his words and what comes next as he moves toward the hospital room door, intent to leave Yi-Min to dress herself in fresh clothes.

“It didn't end well.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License