Family And Genetics


asi_icon.gif chess3_icon.gif

Scene Title Family and Genetics
Synopsis Asi drops in on her new neighbor Chess for an impromptu interrogati— bonding session
Date January 4, 2019

Cresting Wave Apartments

Asi's knuckles rap lightly against the door of the newest Cresting Waves neighbor, a half-drank bottle of whiskey grasped loosely in her offhand. She's forgone donning her usual jacket since she doesn't really plan on going anywhere. If the bottle in her hand wasn't enough of an indication, her clothes speak to the presumably casual interaction she's looking to have. The technopath stands in a layer of tank tops, one black and snug while the other is larger, loose and grey— in jeans and plain sandal slippers.

"Room service," she calls through the apartment door, a hint of humor in her expression as she glances at the tiny camera set in the doorframe.

The knock rouses Chess from where she’s dosing on the couch. She reaches for her cell phone — it miraculously works here — to check the time. She’s alone, for once; her two sisters off having dinner or singing karaoke or otherwise having a good time in a way Chess simply cannot, not in the dreaded month of January at least.

The last two days were spent willing herself not to take the single dose of Refrain she has stowed away, and suffering for it. Kim and Alix, assuming she had a flu, gave her space and a few containers of chicken soup, and she let them think she was sick, and not dopesick. Today, she’s on the clean side of dopesick, though she looks a bit worn out. At least she managed to take a shower and change her clothes, abandoning the sweat-saturated garments for a clean pair of flannel pj bottoms and a Ramones t-shirt.

“I didn’t order any room service.” The mutter can be heard even as the door opens and Chess leans against the door. Seeing Asi with a bottle of whiskey, Chess lifts a brow. “Wrong room?” she guesses.

"Joudan datta, joudan," The corner of Asi's eyes wrinkle with a smile as she hoists the bottle like an offering. "Right room." she clarifies quickly, and in English this time.

"It's — Chess, right?" The offering is lowered, the contents churning as she gestures lightly with the bottle. "I'm Asi. I thought it might be good to make your acquaintance." Now she does smile, thin and faint. "I also have far more left in this bottle than time left in the States to drink it, should all go well. Would you mind some company?"

Chess shakes her head to indicate she doesn’t speak Japanese, but there’s some recognition at the name Asi — Monica must have told her the other woman’s name. Still she looks a little wary, leaning her head against the door as she studies the other woman.

Her brows lift at the comment on time. “Yeah? Leaving in an hour?” she replies — a quip of her own. She studies the other woman for a moment, then lifts a shoulder and opens the door wider to allow Asi to enter. “Sure. I’m not really good company, though, so it’s probably a bad decision on your part.”

She goes to a small bar to pluck out a couple of glasses and gestures to the living room. The coffee table ruins the clean lines of the apartment with its clutter — a couple of empty water bottles, an Advil bottle, a few books, and a plate with an uneaten piece of toast left on it.

"There's worse decisions that could be made," Asi announces, cavalier as could be as she steps into the apartment. There's very little in layout to take in that's different from her own apartment, so she spends the interlude heading to the balcony door to see how the view differs. "And good company or no, it's better than spending the evening alone, or doing something that requires an escort."

The top on the bottle is twisted free before she even makes it back to the coffee table, Asi letting out a quiet click in the process. "How are you finding it so far?" She makes a small sweeping gesture with her wrist to indicate … everything, by the vagueness of it.

“Is it?” Chess says, a small, cynical smirk at the assertion that any company is better than none. She’s spent most of her the past four years with none, after all.

She glances to the window at the question, to consider the glittering lights of Yamagato Park on the other side, as if the answer to how she finds Yamagato lies in their shine. She lifts a shoulder, settling in on the sofa, one bare foot curling up underneath her.

“It’s nice to have hot water and free WiFi,” she says, as if this is the best that YP has to offer. “But it feels a bit excessive and I feel a bit like a bird in a gilded cage.” She can come and go, it’s true — but with going comes a host of troubles she can’t manage on her own — and that’s the true trap.

"With a country that looks the way it does, I bet it does feel that way here." The remark is more thoughtful than sympathetic, made as Asi pours them both a finger's worth of the whiskey. It's a shocking contrast if unexpected, after all.

She lets out a small laugh at the comment about gilded cages, offering the glass back out to Chess. "I'll drink to that," she supposes in a dry tone, lifting her own glass.

"Gānbēi." Asi announces before tilting the drink back.

Decidedly not in Japanese.

Chess’ brows lift at the Mandarin toast, and she lifts her glass to repeat it, and takes a healthy swallow, halving what’s in the glass in one swallow.

“Before Alix, I was actually just squatting in a half a dozen spots out in the city,” she says, glancing to the window again. “By choice, you know? I had money. It just never felt normal to be in a house or apartment or whatever, after the war. To be near civilians, I guess.”

She lifts a shoulder. “I’m not judging, by the way. My younger self would’ve loved to live someplace like this.” After another swallow, she finishes what’s in the glass. “You? You’re from Japan, yeah? You like it here, or wanna go home?”

"Yíhàn." Asi quips over the top of her glass once the contents are drained, noting the look she's given. "I could not help myself." After that much in English, she slides back into Mandarin without a second thought. "«You're someone I've been wondering about since your name was first mentioned. Someone with a difficult digital footprint and a heavy, hidden history, it seems.»" She smiles briefly, almost apologetically. Her curiosity's about to be getting away from her, after all, and the line of questioning doesn't have to do with Chess's war history.

"I'm wondering just what it is that Kimiko Nakamura sees in you that she wanted you in particular brought under Yamagato's protection — but I'm also wondering how much of my business I should make it."

As for which environment she likes better, she offers no immediate answer. "My assignment will be completed shortly, and I'll return to Japan. My involvement here with this intrigue will end, and any continued interest beyond that just… a curiosity." Asi lifts her shoulders into a comfortable shrug before admitting, "Things could be different, were I to call in a favor." Her head tilts in interest, eyes narrowed as she weighs the pros and cons. Her hand gestures with the glass as she lines up one side over the other. "Yamagato would make an interesting employer. It would mean working with interesting people, in an interesting place." She looks over her shoulder toward the window and the lights of the Park.

"… but for the gilded cages." When she looks back to Chess, her glass finally falls over to the other side of that invisible column. "I am not so sure I want to trade one for another. So, the circumstances must be right."

The glass is tipped forward in Chess's direction, in favor of her rather than talking any more about herself, her brow lifting inquisitively. "Do you have any idea what they want with you?"

“Difficult’s often a word used to describe me,” Chess says wryly in English, though it’s clear she understood the Mandarin. “But not my digital history. I mean, I had an Instagram and Snapchat and all that. Except for nearly blowing up a swimming pool full of teenagers, I had a pretty typical childhood.” Her tone is nonchalant, but her eyes are a bit guarded, narrowing, studying Asi. “Shouldn’t be that hard to find.”

At least Francesca Lang isn’t.

The questions make her reach for the bottle to help herself to another splash of whiskey and she lifts her shoulder again. “I don’t think there’s anything particularly interesting about me that makes Nakamuro interested. Just that ‘heavy history’ of mine that has both nothing and everything to do with who I am.”

That guarded look is exchanged for a sharper one, angled Asi’s way. “I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Asi lets out a short laugh at the acknowledgement about Chess's incident. "No, that wasn't hard to find." she admits, watching the seated woman lean forward for the bottle. If nothing else, at least they were making progress with drinking.

There's a twinge in her expression and a very slight shake of her head at the rest of it. "That's the funny thing — histories. They're tied to us whether or not we want them to be. They make us interesting, especially if they're harder to uncover. And yours?" Her brow lifts skeptically now as she leans to administer her own glass with a sizeable refill. "I saw the description of that pool incident. Saw what you were classed as. Perhaps Monica did or did not say, but my work means I deal closely with abilities - reading and evaluating them at a glance, determining the threat they pose." Her other hand comes to support the bottom of the tumbler, thumb brushing the side of the glass.

"You either had an idiot that classed you, or you had a guardian angel looking out for you." Asi's chin tips indicatively toward Chess. "I'm not a strong believer in coincidences. Coincidences tend to be truths you just haven't been able to prove yet." she remarks in absent thought.

Thought that's expelled away with a short sigh from her nose before she lifts her shoulders with a decidedly apologetic look. There's nothing she particularly enjoys about springing so undesired an interaction with someone she thinks she'll be working with.

"The reason I'm here sharing a drink with you, instead of drinking alone at a bar in the Park, is because I am not allowed that aloneness, currently. There was an attempt on my life last month by triplets that Nakamura stated you were 'tied' to." Asi tilts her head carefully as she points out, "So I have cause to be worried about it. If not for my sake, then for yours, as you are clearly just as much in danger, if not moreso."

She drinks from her tumbler, and then settles it back on her palm like one would set a teacup on a saucer. A very different mood than the initial shot she'd thrown back. "If you are 'connected' to them, then you're either a former Praxite — which, the evidence resoundingly points to no — or you're involved in the…" Asi's eyes narrow. "I believe she called it a mass cloning experiment, which include the three Praxites that attacked me." Her attention goes back to Chess, nodding ever so slightly each time as she says the names of, "Vi, Val, and Ivy."

"Whatever it is you're in danger from, I would posit you're in danger because of your ability. Because of your genetics."

Not particularly helpful information when it wasn't clear yet what they wanted to do with it, but information worth sharing if she wasn't already aware.

Chess listens, staring down at her nearly empty glass, as if studying the amber liquid within might reveal any hidden meanings or intentions behind Asi’s explanations.

“To gilded cages, then,” she says, lifting her glass, and tossing back the remains of the last pour. “I don’t know what Nakamura wants you to know or not,” she says suddenly, “and I don’t trust almost anyone, so don’t take anything personal, when I don’t explain things. I mean, I’m pretty terse in general, these days.”

She slides the empty glass back on the table, but doesn’t reach for the bottle again. Instead she settles back against the arm of the sofa, relaxing — a little. She at least doesn’t look poised to make a run for it any time soon.

“I know I should have been blackholed. I didn’t know about Level 3 then, but I do now. But there’s a lot of people who probably should have been, so it’s not my ability that’s that interesting to anyone. I can make shit blow up, but there are people who can do a lot worse, yeah?” Chess lifts a shoulder. That leaves her genetics the likely suspect. She gestures to her face. “I’m not one of them, either.” She doesn’t offer up that she’s their half sister, though.

Asi lifts her glass, taking a much smaller drink from it. A sign of solidarity, if nothing else, but that acknowledged reality wasn't worth downing the rest of her generous pour. "Guarding your trust is a good practice in any business," she concedes, shifting her weight from one foot to the other.

"But as for what she wants me to know or not know, I couldn't say. What I do know is she brought me here to dig — to find certain truths, to see how all the pieces line up when that is done." Asi firms her lips into a line before she admits, "And so far, it's all been connected. All of this. You and your story are another part to this … whole."

Chess's insistence she's not 'one of them' is met with a slightly skeptical look, but no verbal doubt. "Well, there's a connection somehow," she replies mildly, fingers drumming along the side of her glass while she thinks. "And I don't know about you, but I'm in the business of getting out of gilded cages. If you shared what you know, perhaps I could help you with yours."

“Good to know,” the younger woman says. “I’ll keep it in mind.” The words have the dull ring of finality about them, and Chess looks down, chipping at some navy blue nail polish left on her thumbnail for a moment. Without looking up, she begins to speak again.

“I’ve spent about half of my adult life not trusting anyone. I’ve let a couple people in because I trust them, and a couple people out of necessity, because someone else said I can trust them. So don’t take it personally if I don’t open up and tell you what I know just yet,” she says, suddenly sounding exhausted. “I can tell you I knew nothing about Praxis until a few months ago and that I’m only here because it doesn’t seem like I have much choice.”

Chess crosses her ankles, sitting pretzel-style and dropping her hands into her lap. “For now that’s about it. I’ll see if you make it into the friend zone eventually.” There’s a small smile for the misuse of the term. “For now you’re still just ‘super sketchy acquaintance bearing whiskey.’”

Asi can't help but grin at that, lifting her glass in acknowledgement. "No offense taken." She drains the rest of it, letting the tumbler settle down next to the bottle before she speaks again. "For what it's worth, I don't make a habit out of playing twenty questions. But, given that there's not a lot of time currently, it was worth being direct and seeing what there is to know. So thank you, for being as forthcoming as you have been."

She settles down into a seat on the other end of the couch, dramatically and deeply considering her current, sketchy state. "I will take that," she announces, elbow resting on the couch's arm with her head against her knuckles. "And endeavor to improve that opinion — possibly with more bribes of alcohol." Her eyes close for a moment while she chuckles. "Or with whatever your poison. I am fond of unplanned adventure, personally."

When her eyes open, she looks across the apartment with absent thought. "As for Japan…" she remarks, thinking back to Chess's earlier question. "Things are quite different there. More restrictive for the Evolved, certainly. I cannot say I enjoy being one of the people to enforce those restrictions, but if anyone were to ask, that's just the whiskey talking." Asi's eyes narrow at a stray thought. "Being a part of the Mugai-Ryu has afforded me numerous opportunities, though. International travel has been an excellent perk, as an example."

"I do miss Japan," she admits freely. "As it means being away from my sister. Feisty, nosy, combative and possessive of me as she might try to be." Her eyes glimmer in fond amusement as she lets out a soft chuckle.

The younger woman listens curiously — she may have a question of two of her own, given her expressions that play across her face like scenes on a screen. She really should never play poker, because she isn’t adept at hiding her emotions physically, even for her taciturn nature.

“Siblings are like that,” Chess says, her gaze turning to the window again — wondering what her sisters are up to. The ones that she’s invited to be her family now.

And the ones who are trying to kill her.

“My brothers,” she adds, because maybe she feels she’s giving away what she hasn’t meant to, “used to fight with me all the time. But no one else was allowed to.” Chess gets up suddenly, padding in bare feet to the kitchen area to grab a bag of Doritos, of all things, dropping them on the sofa cushions, then resettling on her seat. Apparently she’s decided to contribute with food rather than good small talk.

“I’ve never been to Japan. At least I don’t think I have, but maybe briefly when I was a baby,” she admits.

When Chess leaves to grab a snack, Asi pours them both a little more to drink and scoops her glass into her palm again. For something to do with her hands, if nothing else, though she smiles at the offering of snacks. She looks a little thoughtful as she thinks about her home country, head quirking at an angle. "Well, it's less flat, for sure." is what she leads with, instead of something more obvious like 'it's not war-torn.'

"There's something about the mountains you can't really put your finger on. Things that make you wonder if all the old stories about them might not be real, sometimes." She rolls one shoulder in a shrug to dismiss that sentimentality before noting, "There's also something remarkable about the juxtaposition between city and country living, which … probably is universal, in some aspects. Urban living can be quite high-tech — the fastest, the most efficient, most connected everythings. But elsewhere, people cling to old ways, old infrastructure… old ideas."

She taps her index finger against the side of her glass, something heavy underneath that phrase. With a glance back at Chess, Asi elaborates, "Japan is not unlike America and other countries in that it suffers due to anti-Evolved beliefs. The difference being plenty of countries took it lying down and continue to embrace bigotry, while yours tore itself apart in defiance. That 'all men are created equal' ideology burned into your culture set you all apart." Her eyes narrow, something appreciative in her gaze.

"The war here, ending how it did, triggered a rollback of restrictions on the Evolved in Japan." she offers, in case that nuance wasn't previously known. "And the message it sent to the bigots about what a major government can look like when it openly embraces all its people… along with the threat of what can happen when it does not…" Asi smiles thinly, drinking from her glass. "Well. That was priceless."

"Where did you fight, if I might ask?" Her voice lifts delicately.

Reaching to open the bag of chips as Asi talks, the bag rustles when a few of the orange chips are pulled out, and these Chess eats while her guest waxes poetic and philosophical about Japan. She smiles at the mention of the mountains. “I miss Colorado sometimes,” she says — the Rockies are very different than the Japanese Alps, but mountains just the same.. “I used to snowboard. Haven’t since…well. 2011.”

At the question of the war, Chess looks to the window, as if she could see the war waging outside of the glass. “Draw a straight line between Colorado and Virginia, then hook north to Pennsylvania, “ she says, pausing for a moment, before adding, “I was at Raven Rock at the end. Well, the official end, anyway. Luther and me spent some time fighting the asshole militias who refused to accept the news they’d lost. I mean, they still haven’t, but look at the south where people still fly confederate flags. They may never accept it.”

Her gaze moves from the window back to Asi, and she seems to come back into the present. “I’m glad it helped. I believe in what we did, but the losses for me…” there’s a glimmer of tears in her eyes for the briefest of moments before Chess blinks and it’s gone. “On a personal level, it wasn’t worth it. I’m glad it was, you know. On a bigger scale.”

Asi's eyes sharpen on an invisible map of the United States, working out geography as Chess explains her path. Even though her memory of where certain states are is fuzzy at best, she has enough of a grasp on it to understand it was a long journey. Colorado… "That's — still in the Dead Zone, is it not?" she asks absently.

She turns to Chess when Raven Rock is mentioned, her brow knitting. What a fight to have been at. Her look hardens at the mention of those who'd carried on even after the war had been called, mouth pursing into a solemn line.

Those stubborn tendencies carried for both sides of the war, it seemed.

Chess's shift in tone, the hard blink, brings Asi back into focus and her posture settles. Wordlessly, she nods to acknowledge that loss as well as the gain, and lifts her glass indicatively toward it before taking a long drink. She tilts the glass to better stare into it pensively before letting it settle down toward her lap.

"Luther… I'd never had the pleasure before our meeting last month. You fought together?" Asi tips her head toward the window, probably to indicate 'wherever Luther is', and muses, "His input was … interesting. Refreshing." None of those words particularly fit what she means to voice, and it shows as she clicks her tongue before amending it with, "Decidedly non-corporate, or at least the kind of 'corporate' multi-national organizations comport themselves with these days."

There's a touch of derision for that concept as a whole, though she drinks again rather than offering any elaboration.

“Yeah. Everything west of the Rockies. I haven’t been back. Nothing to go back to.” Chess’ tone is flat, punctuated by a rustle of the chip bag. She doesn’t say whether her family is gone or just forgotten; Asi’s research into her may have answered that already, but the information isn’t forthcoming from the terse young veteran.

Her lips quirk, however, at the description of Luther as non-corporate. “Yeah, I have no idea what he’s doing working at Raytech,” she says. “I guess he used to know the guy back when.”

Chess crunches into one of the chips, before answering the other question. “A little. Mostly at the end.” Her smile returns. “I call him ‘War Dad.’ He’s family.”

Asi lets out a breath of laughter at that, setting the tumbler on the arm of the couch as she finally reaches for the bag to snag a chip for herself. "There's worse nicknames, and odder pairings. And, for what it's worth, Richard Ray definitely has a 'non-corporate' slant to him as well." She pauses to look down into the bag while reaching in. Her voice takes on a thoughtful lilt as she adds, "Though definitely presents as the type to do whatever it takes to get what he wants, so, not entirely. Not sure if it extends into his business practices — I've no experience there." A deflating sigh escapes her while she crunches on the chip, fingertips rubbing together and causing a smearing of orange dust rather than a ridding of it.

"Nothing wrong with working for driven people as long as they're propelled by something worthwhile," is the point she means to drive home. "It sounds like that group will need someone with a level head looking out for them. They sound like they were digging for trouble — 'War Dad' might be the sane head that either pulls them back from the ledge or has the sense to know when things should come to blows." She sounds slightly skeptical, more at the business Raytech finds itself in than the man who is tasked with safeguard of its personnel.

Hand dipping into the bag again, Asi glances back up at Chess. "I've asked plenty of you. Feel free to ask away in return if it pleases you." she suggests with a hint of mirth, the touch of a grin pulling at one side of her mouth. "Though I 'reserve the right' for it to be my turn to say 'don't take it personally'."

“I don’t know him,” Chess says of Richard, with a shrug. “But I know that insanity doesn’t listen to sanity, so I’m a bit less optimistic about Luther’s influence. I know he stopped trying to make sense to me when I wasn’t ready to hear it, and just sort of stayed nearby to do damage control if I needed it.” Her smile turns a bit wry. “But he’s good at that, and there’s a place for that too, I guess.”

The role of interviewer turned over to her, Chess lifts a brow, and smiles again, a self-deprecating thing. “I’m not great at conversation. Really great at internal monologue, though,” she says, taking a chip and biting into it.

Still, a question does form, and she tips her head to regard Asi. “You said your assignment is ending and you don’t want to swap one gilded cage for another. What’s your assignment? And are you here against your free will? Blink twice if you need help.”

The last bit is probably a joke.

Joke or not, it surprises Asi, and she blinks once. Then twice for a doubletake. And realizing what she's done, she bursts out laughing at herself, hand clapping on the side of her leg in amusement as much as embarrassment.

It's probably safe to say she'd not been expecting that one.

"Oh, I've never actually heard anyone say that out loud before." Her hand comes up to press into her chest as she sighs, amusement still plain. She sips again from her glass before turning back to Chess, her smile a little more measured since the discussion is slightly work-related now. It's serious business.

"I was brought from overseas to conduct an investigation into the bombing that occurred last April. I don't work for Yamagato — I work for the JSDF Mugai-Ryu." Her head cants to the side. She sounds very serious, though her brows arch. Her expression is a little too serious, maybe. "An Evolved-Crimes Taskforce. Not like SESA at all, to be clear. An actual police force when it pleases the the powers that be, and a non-permanent fixture when it doesn't. The difference in duties when the administration alternates those stances … tends to vary little, truthfully." Her eyes close and she lets out a chuckle at that.

"Kimiko Nakamura requested me specifically for the investigation, as I understand it. It would have been rude to say no, though I could have. My good friend, my former partner," There's a certain heaviness to that word. "he was disappointed I took the assignment. I believe he thinks I won't come home." Her voice curves again to a melodramatic presentation, this time in pity. "Poor him. I don't know if he knows what he'd do without me." She sighs at him and his ways, looking back to Chess with a shrug.

The burst of laughter takes Chess by surprise, too, and her smile broadens a little — her jokes aren’t the type that usually elicit such a response, ironic and understated as they are. And rare.

“Oh, you said that before — Mugai-Ryu — but I didn’t know what it was and figured I probably should, so I didn't ask.” Chess doesn’t look too abashed for not knowing — and clearly had been content in continuing not to know. “That sounds interesting. And dangerous. Putting yourself on Praxis’ radar is either brave or crazy or both.”

Chess on the other hand didn’t put herself anywhere.

“I was half worried when I heard about the bomb that they’d haul me in for questioning, just because of what I can do. Not that I’d even been to Yamagato Park at that point.” she adds, reaching for another chip. “Praxis missed the chance to frame me.” There’s another smirk at another attempt at a joke.

"And a glad thing they didn't, otherwise we'd never have had the chance to meet." Asi remarks fondly, waving her offhand at Chess. Afterward, her smile wanes slightly. "You were never in any danger of that, most likely, because the bomb was an actual bomb and it was spirited into the Fellowship Center via a teleporter." The smile persists for only a moment longer in an attempt to be reassuring before she looks off across the apartment. "That power of yours, unique as it is, is definitely not teleportation." Perhaps that's her own attempt at a joke, the overstatement.

"You know, I've wondered about that, on occasion — what it would be like to have a different ability." Asi remarks with sudden vigor. Her eyes narrow with that curiosity. "I like myself and who I am too much to dwell on it long, but sometimes I do wonder. Then I consider what it would be like to not feel the world around me the way I do, and it all becomes unappealing very quickly. Feeling the hum of technology brings me a sense of … peace, I suppose. It's hard to ever feel alone when you're immersed in that."

She blinks away the sudden reverie, lifting her glass to sip again. "Sorry," slips away from her self-consciously. "It's been a while since I've chatted like this." After admitting as much, she glances down at what remains of her drink. There's no suspicion directed the way of the whiskey — she knows what's causing it: the placebo effect of drinking just as much as the actual alcohol.

Chess fiddles with a thread on the hem of her pajama bottoms, her eyes cast down at the talk of teleporters and bombers. It’s a combination she’s well familiar with, and one that brings about a wistful expression, before she looks up at Asi’s musings about other abilities and her description of what her own feels like.

“I can feel mine too. I can’t quite explain it. I would guess it’s sensing the kinetic energy of everything around me — not that I can do anything with it, unless I can touch it. It’s sort of like white noise, but not… not audible,” she explains, breaking off a miniscule corner of a chip and charging it with her power before she drops it onto the coffee table to let it spark and fizzle out in a tiny pile of ash.

Chess juts her chin to Asi. “You could just get away from technology for a bit, I suppose, if you want to see what it feels like. But it doesn’t sound like you’d like it,” she adds. “I’ve thought about what I would want. Mine’s… well. It’s useful. It’s not subtle. And I’m lucky I wasn’t dark holed, but I worry about what’ll happen the next time they decide we’re too dangerous to let be.”

That seems a little too dark even for her, so she tips her head to regard Asi with curious eyes. “So a technopath? How does it work?”

Asi's eyes flit back and forth between the dropped bit and Chess's fingers, expression shifting with interest. She quirks an eyebrow before leaning forward, setting the tumbler back on the table. She lets out a quiet, almost dismissive laugh at the suggestion to distance herself from technology. "The few times I've been negated in my life, coupled with spending a brief time in the Dead Zone on the flight out…" With a tut, she shakes her head. "Not for me. No interest in reliving that."

Leaning back again, she looks rather than turns to Chess when the other woman expresses interest in her ability. "Ah," Asi intones, looking off. "It… works like…"

She's possibly self-conscious.

Her brow furrows, though. Maybe it's just a topic requiring a lot of thought. "You know, I don't really know." she admits with another faint laugh, her shoulders shrugging. Her free hand lifting, she flexes it. "Mostly, when I touch a device, I just…" Asi reaches out, miming touching something in the air. Absently, she grins at the impossibility of trying to describe it casually. "I sink in, and it becomes me, or the other way around. It's both, and neither. I stay me, but can give bits of myself away." Her hand turns over as she looks to Chess finally, clarifying, "Which is different than others I know."

With a tip of her hand toward the table she asks, "Have you met anyone who can do what you do?"

“I’m pretty solidly on the side of keeping my bits to myself,” says Chess with a laugh, after listening with curiosity to the description the other woman gives of her power. “But I can see how you wouldn’t want to be away from it all. Unless you really needed the quiet.”

The question makes her think for a moment, before she shakes her head. “I’ve seen people who can absorb kinetic energy and use it for themselves. Kind of my worst nightmare, really,” she says with a small smile. “It’s hard for me to fight that. Mine seems to work only on objects, not people. I think I’m glad about that.” Her expression turns a little wry. “It’s useful in ways besides explosions though. In the war, I picked up archery. I can make things go faster and harder than they would without my ability, so… arrows like bullets pretty much.”

Chess picks up a chip, holding it for a second, before flinging it with a flip of her wrist to send it whizzing the length of the room to hit the far wall. She’ll rub off the orange dust later. “But sometimes arrows that burst into flames. I’ll save that demonstration. I don’t really want to test the sprinkler system.”

"Kind of your worst nightmare," Asi agrees, remembering how Ivy had taken being shot in the chest and redirected that energy into a ballistic nightmare. Rather than pointing out the closeness in abilities between her and Chess, how they both take kinetic energy and redistribute it, she just returns the small smile in an understanding way.

When the chip flies at the wall, her brow lifts. She half expected it would get stuck like a disk for the speed it took off at. "Well," she murmurs. "That's certainly flashy." Feeling compelled to perform a demonstration of her own ability, she rocks onto one hip while she frees her phone, beginning to frown in thought. "Now, what I do is much less flashy," she states modestly. "But it is helpful. My ability helps let me test things quickly, and plan for the unexpected. I can…" Asi glances to Chess out of the corner of her eye, reframing her description accordingly. Talking about 'subprocesses' here would likely feel alienating.

"I can take a part of myself and send it off with a task. 'Try this, this, and this.' I'll be free to continue doing what I'm doing while mini-me either succeeds or fails, and when she comes back to me, I'll know what my next steps should be." She shrugs a shoulder, explaining, "Mini-mes are very useful when I'm designing a new machine. I run tests through them before adding it to the finished design." Asi tips her head before adding, "Mine does not work wirelessly, which can be a challenge at times." With a grin, she admits, "Though the challenge makes the reward that much worth it."

Chess’ brows draw together as if she’s trying to envision a tiny Asi running around in some intricate Tron-like world, performing tasks and experiments. “I can see that being useful. Especially for an investigator. Or detective. Whatever you call yourself on your special force,” she says, before adding, “Time saving,” with a nod. It’s all too theoretical for her to truly wrap her head around.

She doesn’t even own a computer, and most of her cell phones are burners.

“Do you ever think about how abilities match our personalities? Or sometimes they don’t. Or maybe our personalities evolve — no pun intended — because of our abilities,” Chess muses. “That would be an interesting sociological study, maybe.”

"I'm not sure any firm studies have been done on it. You could be the first." Asi suggests knowingly. "But I think you could be onto something — that our abilities might lie somewhere between nature and nurture. That they may change because we change." She speaks slowly, thoughtfully, which brings out more of her accent than usual. "Our genetics certainly play a role. But perhaps they are just the blueprint, and we build them accordingly. Some stick to their pre-destined paths … and others add their own flourishes while they grow. Knowingly, and unknowingly."

Her brow arches with interest. "Or, you know what could be interesting too — seeing how abilities vary across lineages. Some families are very similar, while others are different." Her mood mellows and she deflates where she sits. "… Some very different." Asi muses, thinking of her own family.

“I’m sure both are probably the subject of a lot of grad students now. Or soon,” says Chess with a small smile. She doesn’t have much to add on the topic of evolved families, which is probably not surprising.

Instead, she volleys the question back to Asi, noticing the sudden deflating. “Don’t get along with yours?” she asks. “I was always a black sheep in mine, which I chalked up to being adopted, but they turned out to be anti-evolved. None of them were, of course. They just won some sort of ironic lottery when they got me, doing their part to fight communism or whatever.” She lifts a shoulder, reaching for the whiskey bottle to splash some more into her glass. The words aren’t slurring yet, but she’s got a rosy flush coming over her cheeks, courtesy of the alcohol.

Asi is very still, but otherwise draws her lips back over her teeth in a sympathetic grimace. She takes in a breath, shoulders settling. "It's…" she admits before letting out the rest of it in a deflating, but brief sigh. "The issues you had with your family sound very similar to the ones I had with mine, growing up." As soon as she says it, she invites herself to another drink and lets her nearly-forgotten phone fall away to her lap. "The difference is, I deliberately made life difficult for mine, so they had a reason before they found out about my ability." Her words are starting to become heavier, emphasis more clearly present in them where she normally speaks smoothly.

She clicks her tongue off the side of her cheek, looking back to Chess with a wry expression. "Joke was on them. They were forced to re-examine blaming my ability for every errant aspect of me when they found out their other daughter was Evolved, too." Asi's grin grows. "Their hate mostly went back into the closet, or it at least disguised itself as, 'Why couldn't you have an ability like your sister's?'"

She looks off with a scoff, staring at a fixed point like she's engaging directly with an invisible party. Her glass hand gestures outward. "Ja, tou-chan, nande yanen?" The sarcasm, pointed as it is, makes universal the query: Why is that?

Asi shakes her head, letting her arm fall while she continues to stare off. "Kuso idengaku." It becomes obvious she still remembers where she is and who she's with well enough as she immediately turns to Chess, asking hypothetically, "Fucking genetics, right?" No oh well type of shrug accompanies it. "You can't pick your family."

Exhaling shortly out her nose, she finishes off the last of her pour. "You're stuck with them, even if you cut them out. They keep existing, regardless of how well you ignore them." Asi blinks slowly. "They come back, no matter how…"

Her free hand comes up to her face suddenly, massaging every bit of skin her fingers can work themselves into while she grumbles into her palm. "She is very persistent, Chess." she laments, head tipping backward to lay over the back the couch.

Chess doesn’t try to follow the Japanese — the feeling behind the words makes itself clear and is relatable to everyone with family members who don’t quite approve in some way or another.

She murmurs against the rim of her glass, “Unfortunately,” in reply about the family members that keep existing and coming back… her mind is on a few sisters of sorts, who seem to want her dead. Her reason for being in this gilded cage at all.

“What’s your sister do?” she asks, because it seems like the obvious follow-up question. “Maybe you can fake your own death or something,” she adds. “I’ve thought about it,” is added, with a small smirk.

"I've already tried that," is something Asi would normally never say, but she normally doesn't drink this much in unusual company. She blinks as her hand slides off her chin, adding "Basically." as she sits back up. Despite the trouble the whiskey has already gotten her into, saying things she doesn't mean to, she tries to take another sip out of habit. On realizing her glass is empty, the glance she gives it makes her reconsider that tragedy as a good thing instead, sliding it back onto the coffee table.

Aware of her oversharing, she has to now more carefully consider if that highly personal question should be answered. Would Chess be in a position to use that information against her in the future? Tie A to K and back again, even though on paper she had no ties to her family? Someone aggressive and determined enough could do that, especially with the specific knowledge the answer would provide.

The risk is weighed.

"Shokubutsuseiryoku," Asi answers quietly. "She grows plants."

After a beat, she looks back to Chess with a thin smile, attempting to inject some levity back into her voice. She'd grown quite solemn for a moment. "Very different ability. Interesting, isn't it?"

“Yeah? Didn’t go over well, I take it,” says Chess with a smirk, but she doesn’t press, setting down the once-more empty glass on the coffee table, and leaning her heavy head back against the cushion of the couch.

The answer of plants makes her tip her head for a moment, considering it. “Different. Useful. Can probably always feel the world around her as well. So not that different from you, in some ways,” she says, glancing at Asi, with brows lifting.

“My brothers were going to be professionals… CPA and dentist, if they managed to finish.” That’s a big if, given the war that interrupted everyone’s lives. “I’m sure in some other life, I’m still a disappointment to my parents who compare me to them for some other reason. But sometimes we can choose our families. Sometimes we can’t escape the ones we wouldn’t choose.”

Her words aren’t eloquent, but with the amount of whiskey in her, perhaps she thinks she’s being profound, as she adds, “Sometimes we have both.”

Chess's insight is sobering, and Asi's brow climbs in impressed surprise. Their expressions almost mirror each other. She'd never considered that binding thread of similarity between her sister's ability and her own.

Following her next comment, the technopath looks to the bottle of whiskey, judging what remains. She surmises it is just enough to splash a little more in either of their glasses.

"I'll drink to that."

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