Girls' Night Out


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Scene Title Girls' Night Out
Synopsis Candice Wilmer comes to Kay Damaris with an offer she shouldn't refuse.
Date May 5, 2021

Kay’s bag slips from her shoulder to catch briefly against the slight crook of her elbow before finally dropping entirely, the handles just caught before it can hit the pavement. “Wilmer,” the PR woman breathes out in astonished horror. “Jesus Christ, I thought you were dead.” Now, she’s thinking she might be.

“Is this an abduction? Because Yamagato’s benefits package is very generous, but it only covers one kidnapping per year and I’ve already hit my allowance.” While she’s being glib, she’s also starting to go pale. If Nakamura were still alive, she’d already be rehearsing her pitch for her next raise. She suspects Kawahara would be just as happy to see her gone as to see her return from this — whatever it is — safe and with intel. Hell, he seems like the type who’d deduct from her salary as time lost.

While Kay doesn’t make any moves, toward the car or otherwise, something else begins to act on her behalf.


Jiba, are you there? It appears Ms Damaris may require some assistance.

“If I wanted to kidnap you I would’ve gotten you in your house, looking like your daughter, while you were asleep.” Candice says with a saccharine sweet smile before rapping her hand on the hood of the car. “I’m actually here to talk about your most recent kidnapping, so…” She opens the passenger side door and makes a fingergun over the roof toward Kay. “Why don’t we take a drive?”

Meanwhile, digital white noise stirs to life in Kay’s phone that vibrates in her pocket. While she may be able to compose a text without looking at her device, she can’t read the reply so easily.

“God, you’re a fucking creep,” Kay utters under her breath, though not without the intent for Candice to hear her. “Thanks. I appreciate the forthcomingness.” She takes a look around slowly. For the love of fuck, don’t let Redd be around here, too. That’s a gang she does not want to get back together.

“Sure.” The moment the phone buzzes in her pocket, Kay silently wills it to shush. Why can’t she get the port in her head to beam her messages right to her brain or something?

No. Scratch that. That is terrifying and she’d like that never to happen, thank you.

Pulling the handles of her bag back up to her elbow, Kay reaches into the purse. “Since I know what you’re like, I’m going to let you know I’m not bothering with a weapon, because I know you’ll just misdirect my aim. For all I know, you’re actually sitting in my back seat right now.” What she does procure is a case with a pair of glasses, which she slides on. Tapping the arm twice, they shift to a yellow tint intended to assist her night vision. “It’s a hell of a story,” she promises as she closes the case back up, drops it into the bag and sets it on the floor in the back of the SUV, waiting for whatever message has hit her phone.

Holding her thumb on the ignition switch and her foot on the brake until the engine thrums to life, Kay asks the first question: “Where do you want me to start?”

Candice settles comfortably into the passenger seat. “Head to the north side of the Park, Cherryblossom Noodle Cafe.” Kay knows the place, open seasonally. Great food. “And you know, that’s a really good question, all things told. I want to know why Renautas-Weiss kidnapped you, replaced you with a ginger shapeshifter, and if that had anything to do with why your company just tried to flatline Weiss herself.”

Candice tilts her head toward the passenger side window, giving Kay a side-long look. “Weird times we’re living in, huh?”

“Been a spell since I’ve been there,” Kay muses. “Sure. Good a place as any.” Turning her head, she eases the vehicle into reverse and rolls backward out of her parking spot cautiously. “Stranger than a rodeo clown at a wedding rehearsal,” she agrees.
At the same time, she summons her waiting message with a glance to the HUD on her smart glasses.

{Shall I contact security? An armored response vehicle could be at your position in 3 minutes.}

And all the while, she keeps talking. “For old time’s sake, I’ll be honest with you and say I’m not sure why I was targeted. I reckon it’s probably the obvious. With the hostile takeover, getting someone inside would be a smart move.” She gives a shrug that might suggest I would’ve done it.

“Especially with Nakamura dead. I would’ve been next in line for that seat.” If there’s any bitterness there, it isn’t about being passed over for promotion, but the fact that the new boss is a shortsighted idiot with greed where his acumen should be. If Kimiko could have known what Kawahara would do to her company, Kay can only surmise that he would have met with an early grave.

“Hypothetically speaking, if you were kidnapped and experimented on, wouldn’t you want to flatline the assholes responsible?” Kay asks with a glance over to Candice out of the corner of her eye. “But c’mon, Candice. You know me. If it were up to me, I’d want her alive. I’d want to know why.”

Candice side-eyes Kay, then looks back out the window, changing the subject entirely. “Funny, ‘cause you got kidnapped before Nakamura died. But let’s let that slide. Phil Haas,” she looks back over to Kay, “the ginger shapeshifter who replaced you. Yamagato has her detained somewhere, and I figure you might know. Because I may have heard from a little bird that Cecilia Weiss had fuck-all to do with your abduction, and that Phil Haas might know who did.”

She eyes Kay again, one brow raised. “Wouldn’t you wanna flatline the right person? Or do you like having your own personal motivation used to fuel someone else’s corporate war?”

“You don’t think her death was an assassination?” It’s clear Kay does. But she wasn’t there. She didn’t witness any of it. She only has her gut and her concern.

And that ghost.

Not just yet. I am monitoring the situation. Do you have any access to the Mugai-Ryu? I am curious about the whereabouts of Ryuji Sako. Is he on premises?

While T1siphone seeks more details from Jiba, Kay moves along with Candice. “Let’s say I’m not disagreeing with anything you’re saying. Why do you care about this? I know it’s not because you’re somehow concerned about an old colleague.”

{No, Ms Damaris. Major Sako is currently on planned PTO until the 9th.}

“Kimiko was abducted, apparently sick or made to be sick, and died in a locked office. I don’t think it was an assassination, I think it was the same old shit happening again.” Candice says with a click of her tongue. “It’s like a page out of the Company playbook. Abduction, experimentation, catch-and-release. And the whole world knows how fucked up that got sometimes.”

Who else is aware of this? Sako was spotted on campus only a few minutes ago. I would think his team would have been confused by this change in plans.

Candice looks to the road ahead, then back to Kay. “I have two black marks on my neck that make me care, Kay. Somebody is picking up the old playbook and they’re bringing back the hits of the past. Not a fan of the oldies, personally.” She folds her hands behind her head. “You were insulated from the worst of it, working in Linderman’s shadow. But now?” She shakes her head.

And please, I’m called T1siphone or T1.

“Next question: When you were captive with Renautas-Weiss, did they ever ask you anything about an inheritance?” Candice asks, and a distorted machine voice echoes in Kaydence’s memory:

Is the i̶̢͚̦̜͓͈̳͊́͊̋͗̈́̐͜n̴̟̼͓̲̞̓̌̄̂͋̚͠͝h̸̠̩̖͉̭̃̔ẽ̵̳̟̭̭̗͓̟̩͎̈̾̍̅̕r̷͓̟̺̫̞̗̪̣̔͒́͜ï̷͇̹͎̅̀̉͒͠t̵͍̄̑̾̓̇̕͝a̶͙̘̲͈̙̾͒̂̐͌͝n̵̳͔͍͔͓̺͌̀͒͑̃͝c̵̡̡͖̖͓͓̦̠͐̑̀̐͐̋̕e̷̡̨̧̩̹͇̼̤̯̅̎̓͊́͑̀̏̎͠ safe?

Kaydence Lee hits the brakes a little too hard when she comes up on the stop sign at the end of the block. She’s clearly rattled by the sudden stop herself, looking bewildered when she glances over to Candice. “Sorry. That wasn’t—” A quick shake of her head means to suffice for whatever might neatly finish that sentence.

Taking a breath after a hard swallow, she looks both ways again before starting forward.

I also require information about Philomena Haas. Do you know where she’s being kept?

“Inheritance? Nah.” Kay pulls away from the stop, belatedly hitting her blinker as she turns left onto the next road. “They just asked me about Linderman. What I used to do for him.” If she were talking to anyone else, she’d be expressing some level of shame right now. But between the two of them? Kay has far less blood on her hands, she’s certain.

“Ya know anything about Lucien Crane?” Kay asks, briefly glancing in her rearview mirror.

“Never heard of him,” Candice says as she runs one hand through the side of her hair. “What did you used to do for Linderman, anyway? I feel like we had very different experiences with the dearly-departed.”

“CTO of Renautas when we still had control. Reason why we don’t still,” Kay explains in short. “Telepathic piece of shit.”

Jiba’s response pops up in the corner of Kay’s glasses.

{Yamagato Building, S-Level.}

S-Level? That doesn’t even sound familiar.

{High-security research and development. It is run by Doctor Cora Wenyi.}

That is a problem. Who else has access to that space? I doubt Ms Damaris’ credentials are authorized.

T1’s however…

“Really?” Kay lets out a surprised little breath of laughter. “I honestly thought you knew.” If Candice wanted her dead, she’d be dead. She doesn’t need blackmail material to make her do what she wants, so Kay shrugs her shoulders and decides to be honest about it. “I used my status as an NYPD detective to make problems disappear.” Her mouth quirks upward a little. “I worked Vice most of the time I was on the payroll. Pretty advantageous position. Especially given that I was usually undercover.”

{S-Level is Restricted to Executive-level security and members of the Biosciences Research Division.}

“Linderman wasn’t big on sharing,” Candice says, folding her hands behind her head and putting her feet up on the dashboard. “Neither was the Company. Where those two intersected? Even worse.”

Glancing out the passenger side window, Candice considers the cityscape beyond. “But it sounds like you were a cleaner. Tracks. But that doesn’t put you in Linderman’s inner circle, doesn’t leave you privy to any of the real dirt. So why pick you out of a lineup of his former associates?”

Candice looks back to Kaydence. “Did you know they grabbed Nicole Miller too? The people who took Nakamura?” She raises a brow. “Coincidence? Maybe. But that’s two people close to Linderman, three if you count Nakamura-by-proxy, abducted by mysterious operators.” She sighs. “From where I’m sitting, it feels like the old man had something powerful people want, and it doesn’t sound like they have it yet. Which leaves me wondering: what’s worth all this trouble?”

Candice angles a look at Kay. “Because it sure ain’t his missing fortune.”

How would someone with clearance go about accessing S-Level, Jiba?

“Figures,” Kay huffs with a roll of her eyes about the sharing nature of Linderman and the Company. She gives her head a shake. “That’s what that Crane creep seemed to want to insinuate, that I had more… access than I did. I was a nobody. I accepted the money and kept my head down.”

{Security access request from Doctor Wenyi or Hachiro. Alternatively, S-Level is a part of Yamagato’s security network. I have unfettered access.}

Although that interrogation planted seeds of doubt regarding her own recollection of things. Of her own history. How fucked is that?

Her next breath feels heavy in her chest. “I did hear that Nickels was tangled up in that mess. Now, I’m more the type to believe in coincidence than most, but even I think this one stinks.” It feels equally heavy when she exhales again. “I’m inclined to agree with you. If anyone had secrets worth sussin’ out, I can imagine few people more worth the trouble than Daniel Linderman.”

What condition is Philomena Haas in?

There’s no question there that needs answering, so Kaydence makes a shift back while she sits at the traffic light.

{She is being detained in an offline cell. I have no optic or thermoptic vantage point. Assumption: She is being hidden from my senses intentionally.}

“Let’s say I’m resourceful enough to find Haas…” With the light red, she turns to look at the woman in her passenger seat. “Joint operation?” She lifts an eyebrow. “I don’t think I have access to wherever they’re keeping her. But if we pool our respective resources…”

A small grin spreads across the exec’s face slowly.

“Muscle isn’t an issue.” Candice says with a wave of one hand through the air. “And you know I’m good for a trick or two. We’ve got a couple other folks in the city waiting to find out where Haas is so we can grab her. This wouldn’t be a solo thing, provided you’re willing to meet with the man in charge?”

Candice tilts her head to the side. “That’s the million-dollar question.”

Would you be willing to assist me in gaining access? I think it is important to ascertain what Phil Haas knows about Ms Damaris’ abduction. Are there any files on the subject?

“What do you intend to do with Haas once you have ‘er?” There’s a flicker of a glance out of the corner of her eye to check the light before that gaze narrows on Candice, scrutinizing. “I’m willing to play ball as long as we both get what we want out of the deal.”

{I can, but doing so may cause an alert within Yamagato’s systems. My control is not as comprehensive as it once was due to my redistribution.}

“I just want her information,” Candice says with a shrug. “I don’t give a flying fuck what happens to her after that. You ready for a meet-and-greet?”

Redistribution? What does that mean?

Kay looks coolly at Candice for a moment, then nods her head just as the light turns green. “Alright.” She begins to drive again, eyes back on the intersection, where she hesitates just long enough to be sure no one’s going to run the red.

Lips pursed faintly, she asks the next question that needs asking: “When and where?”

“Here and now,” says an uninvited guest in the back seat.


“Please don’t scream,” Samson says with a little put-on wince of anticipation. Candice, meanwhile, can’t keep her cat-who-ate-the-canary smile in check.

While Kay doesn’t scream, she does gasp and wind up holding the steering wheel in a white knuckled grip while her shoulders attempt to jump clear to her ears. “Fffffuck!” is more a growl of frustration.

Jiba, are there any security personnel near the Noodle Cafe? I am asking as a precautionary measure.

{None, Ms. Damaris. Should I call security?}

The blonde breathes out hard and steals a look at the horizontal ribbon of face she can see in her back seat. How are you not dead? she wants to ask Candice, if that’s the company she’s keeping. Last the former detective knew, the man in the back of her car was more of a team slayer than player.

T1. Alert Sun Xiaolu. Tell her to be on stand-by.

“Samson Gray,” Kay remarks dryly. “ I’ve studied a lot of your work.” And she can’t say she’s a fan. “Never thought I’d actually meet you face to face.”

“Hadn’t intended on it.” Samson admits, reclining back against the seat. “Not until you got in the middle of all of this.” He spreads his hands wide, then folds them in his lap. “Unfortunate, really, your kidnapping. But it put you on my radar and, as I know you can imagine, that tends to make people nervous.” The emphasis he adds on the word nervous is forced through his teeth with a frustrated smile.

He’s not wrong.

“So,” Samson continues, loosening up, “the long and short of it. I would like your help in asking some questions of this Philomena Haas. From there, you’re free to do with her as you please. Should our arrangement be an amicable and mutually-beneficial one, I might also be open to pursuing where it goes…”

Samson’s eyes slowly narrow, and Kay can see his expression changing in the rear-view mirror. “Because, if I know my nose—and it never lies—I smell that you’re more than meets the eye.”

Kay feels nauseous. If not for the hold she maintains on the steering wheel, her hands would be shaking. While her secret was something she hoped to hide from everyone, she’d hoped to hide it from this man in particular. The encounter between he and Major Housen flashes through her mind briefly.

“I’m fairly confident I can gain access to Haas,” she admits. Saying she can’t would potentially render her useless, and that’s worse than cooperation. “I’ll likely need your help,” she glances briefly to Candice, “on that front, however.” Perhaps interestingly, her accent slides back to something indecipherable in origin as anxiety creeps in. “I don’t have access on my own, but I know who does.

Candice looks back at Samson who gives her a silent nod of approval in return.

“You got yourself a date,” Candice says with a wink and a click of her tongue.

{Sun Xiaolu has been notified, Kay.}

“It sounds like we have all the makings of a deal,” Samson says with a slow spread of his hands in the rear-view mirror. “I’m not one to make a long meeting, suffice it to say Candice here can handle the details, and provided everything goes smoothly we won’t need to have any interactions beyond the immediately necessary.”

Candice blows a bubble of gum which pops obnoxiously loud.

“Sixty days prep time,” Samson says flatly. “July should give you enough time to come up with a plan and consider all the variables. Ms. Wilmer will remain in touch via in-person drop-ins like this on a bi-weekly basis, to make sure nothing is slipping through the cracks.”

Candice gives Kay another wink.

“All things as they stand,” Samson says smoothly, “I get what I want, and you get what you want, and nobody but the people between us and that gets hurt. Sound amicable?”

Kay doesn’t like to admit it, but, “Perfectly.”

Consenting to visits from Candice is a pill she swallows begrudgingly, but she’s not likely to get answers on her own. Maybe everyone here can get what they want, and it can be done without her getting screwed over.

Now you’re just doing it willfully.

It takes effort not to sigh and roll her eyes at the AI, but her attention is split enough to focus on the flesh and blood people in her car. Jiba refusing to address her as she’s requested is an issue for another time.

Thank you, Jiba. I will be in touch if further needs arise.

One corner of her mouth tugging into a wry smile, Kay glances to Candice out of the corner of her eye. “We can do lunch. It’ll be fun.” Like a trip to the dentist.

“That sounds wonderful,” Samson says with a toothy smile as he breaks apart into a swirling cloud of ash and smoke, sinking down into the seat and then slipping through the cracks in the seatback where it meets the frame, before billowing out the back of the car as Samson reforms on the side of the street, waving to Kay’s car as it drives off.

Candice turns and flashes a side-eye at Kaydence, then pops her gum.

“I think he likes you.”

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