Heaven Will Betray


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Heaven Will Betray
Synopsis There are consequences for every choice.
Date January 16, 2021

In the basement there are two rows of coolers to keep flowers fresh in a perfectly climate-controlled environment. But the small basement storage area hides greater secrets. It isn’t the only basement in the house. A trap door under a Persian rug leads down into a walled off section of the basement beneath the floorboards, partitioned off from the others. Some habits are easier to give up than others.

Yi-Shan Yeh emerges from the trap door hatch, closing it behind himself. “Ah-Min,” he calls out, looking around the dimly lit farmhouse. The last few rays of daylight filtering through the branches of pine boughs that surround the house. Yi-Shan flips a lock of hair over his shoulder, then stalks toward the noise of the kitchen.

The farmhouse has a simple charm. Dried herb hanging from the exposed beams, fresh flowers set in a tall mason jar on a shelf, wildflowers pressed in a hardcover book on the arm of a couch beside a stack of paperback novels. It’s home.

"Ah-Shan." The returned term of endearment comes floating to Yi-Shan's ears well before he finishes entering the kitchen, and there is a grade of fretfulness carved into those two syllables he knows so well.

Whatever it is likely isn't directed at him, Yi-Shan can guess. Though his twin sister has come to live out her days here in Providence as capriciously as a cat, she hardly gets angry. Even more rarely is such anger ever intended for him. She does get vexed on frequent occasion, though, and the current source of that vexation appears to be the small, old-fashioned radio faced towards her on the countertop where she is occupied.

Normally, in the darkness of afterhours, it blares with the cheerfully omnipresent distraction of whatever radio stations they can pick up out here as background noise while she attends to dinner before Kara returns. It's as much a part of the home Yi-Shan knows as the sights and scents of this little rural haven.

Now, the radio sits in silence.


Medical Wing
Yamagato Building
Yamagato Park

January 16th
4:04 pm

Yi-Min Yeh never woke up from her operation. Laid out as she is in a state of the art Yamagato medical facility, it is clear that something went dreadfully wrong with her procedure. Yi-Min’s head is wrapped in layers of bandages, one of her eyes covered by a gauze pad. She is breathing on her own, though she has intravenous fluids connected to her right arm. A wall-mounted monitor shows her vital statistics, blood pressure remarkably low and brain-wave activity erratic.

Doctors have said it is a miracle she survived.

A miracle she survived.

It’s what Kara Prince has had turning over in her head since Yamagato Industries first reached out to her regarding the results of Yi-Min’s surgery. It was a miracle she was in cell phone reception range, a miracle that just that morning before she received the call she’d been talking with Thomas Redhouse about this very nightmare scenario. It doesn’t seem so metaphorical now.

In a chair beside Yi-Min’s bed, all Kara has is metaphor…

…and memory.

It's been nearly a day. Shouldn't Kara have stopped crying by now? She wonders, but doesn't care enough to try and get herself together. All her usual anxieties have been replaced entirely with the new reality that's before her. She whispers an apology as she holds onto Yi-Min's hand, laid over the side of the bed onto her.

If only she'd thought of this sooner. If only they'd talked about this sooner.

Maybe they could have done something, anything different. At the very least, she thought they'd have time to sort through this. That it would be how things had gone when Zachery Miller had had his implant discovered and removed.

She doesn't know, entirely, what went wrong. She's just so very sorry that it has.

And she isn’t the only one.

The door to Yi-Min’s room slides open with a soft hush into the wall. Hachiro Otomo is an unfamiliar face, though his voice isn’t. He’s the one who called Kara. “Ms. Kent?” Hachiro says with trepidation as he enters the room, a pair of prosthetic legs whirring with a soft, mechanical hum as he steps in. Kara can’t see them for what they are beneath his slacks, but she can pick up on the noise.

Hachiro looks like he has had a long night. His eyes are puffy, sagging, and his pallor drained. He looks like he may have been crying, though it’s hard to imagine he would have been for a woman he does not even know. All the same, Hachiro has the energy of a man put through a wringer. “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to—that no one was able to—really explain anything to you last night. It’s…” he swallows dryly.

“Do you have a moment to talk about her condition?” Hachiro asks, motioning to Yi-Min with a subtle nod.

Kara— or Clara as these people think she's named— pulls herself upright when the door opens. She prepares to extricate herself for whatever doctor's come in now to examine Yi-Min and ensure her health. Hachiro maybe visited before, maybe even introduced himself, but in the blur of so many faces and the shock of the entire situation, it might as well be their first meeting again.

"Yeah," she says hoarsely, lifting a hand to gesture a hand blandly at the room. She keeps her seat. "Yeah, I've got a minute. I'm not leaving her, though."

“I wouldn’t ask you to.” Hachiro says softly, moving over to take a chair and sit down. He is exhausted. “Yi-Min’s condition is… unclear. I know that isn’t a helpful answer, but what we thought was going on inside of her brain when she agreed to the procedure in our labs is a far cry from the fact of the matter we discovered on the exploratory phase.”

Pressing his hands together, Hachiro stays focused on the seam dividing his palms. “Our surgeons removed an implant from the temporal lobe of her brain, successfully and without issue. However, on an exploratory examination of the rest of the surface area of her cerebral tissue, we discovered a… an anomaly in her brain tissue. A fibrous area, not entirely unlike tumor cells. It was some sort of seam, a… a branch that snaked down from the outside of her brain to the core of her Thalamus.”

Hachiro looks up to the computer screen on the wall, though his eyes are unfocused. “The surgeons discovered a mass around her Thalamus and attempted to cut into it to take a biopsy, but… tore some sort of sac filled with cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid caused a pressure build up inside of her brain and she suffered a severe seizure.”

Hachiro looks back down to his hands, rubbing them together. “Ms. Yeh suffered significant neurological damage from the procedure, but we have yet to identify why or how. Our current understanding is that the cerebellum may have been compromised by the leak, and that if—when—she comes to, she may suffer permanent mobility loss or impairment. That’s… just an educated guess at the moment. There may be other repercussions we aren’t aware of. But she’s stable, breathing on her own. That’s… the best we can say right now.”

For how little she understands of what all that means, she understands it sounds bad. She hears the if that Hachiro tries to cover up in regards to Yi-Min ever waking up again. And Kara's jaw trembles, her hand finding Yi-Min's and holding onto it tightly again.

All she can do for what feels like an eternity is sit there with her eyes closed. But she eventually remembers to breathe, and it jogs loose a very important question. "So did you find anything else for your efforts, or no?" Her voice grows terse and tense. "Why was anything exploratory being done in the first place?"

“I’m not privy to what she and—” Hachiro’s voice hitches in his throat, “what she and Ms. Nakamura discussed. They made an arrangement of some regard to gather as much information as possible. We… we haven’t had much time to analyze the findings. The implant, the data from the cerebral probe.” Hachiro swallows dryly, then looks down at his feet.

“The last twenty-four hours have been very trying.” Hachiro adds, then looks over at Yi-Min as he notices a twitch of her brow and a tremor in her right hand. Fingers curl against Kara’s touch. Yi-Min draws in a sharp breath, first through her nose and then through her mouth. Her unbandaged eye flutters open.

A white ceiling greets her. She feels pressure on one hand, follows it to Kara’s hand holding hers. Then to Kara’s face:

Gray, black, white. Gray eyes. Gray hair.

There are no colors.

The pressure on Kara's hand increases further as Yi-Min's fingers respond to the immediacy of the touch, though feebly at first. In such a way, it serves as a lifeline— that which she uses to anchor herself back to the waking world.

And, she needs it. Yi-Min's efforts to comprehend the image that congeals before her single eye seems pained, as though try as she might, she cannot bring it into satisfactory focus. Not— quite.

The air leaves her chest all at once again, and when it returns to her, it's with a new influx of quiet emotion.

"Kara." Beneath the hum of the surrounding machines, interrupting her endeavor, the word falls from her lips like a stone. As it thus becomes real to her, a true and solid thing, she transforms it into a second personal anchor: a little light, laid out just beside the spark of the first.

No matter that even these are subject to the bewildering new limitations blinkering her vision. Never mind. Never mind.

Perhaps if she religiously focuses on these, these and only these, color would return to her world.

Would that Hachiro's answers sated Kara's growing frustration, tied to her belief that Yi-Min's condition was caused by going too far. Her expression tightens. "Trying? What I'm hearing is she's in the state she's in because you saw the equivalent of a landmine and went and stepped on it rather than step back to reassess, and—"

Then she hears the sound of her name and every negative sentiment in her voids immediately. Kara takes in a sharp breath as she turns to see Yi-Min's eyes open, her own widening and softening.

"Yi-Min," Kara breathes in return, taking hold of her partner's hand between both of hers now. "我的心肝." Her relief that her partner's awake, speaking can be found not just in her tone, but the tears that begin to flow freely again. "I was so worried you'd gone somewhere I couldn't follow."

Otomo draws in a deep breath and slowly stands. Any question or ire that Kara had delivered to him is cast aside in the face of more pressing issues. “Jiba, please contact medical. Ms. Yeh is awake.” A soft chime emits from all around the room following Otomo’s request. He then moves to the foot of Yi-Min’s bed, watching her in tense silence.

“Ms. Yeh,” Otomo says quietly, resting his hands on the foot of the bed. “Please, take it slow…” He then lays a concerned though sympathetic look on Kara before looking back to the woman in the bed.

As Yi-Min becomes more aware of her surroundings, other new and frightening sensations become apparent as well. The first is the difficulty she has seeing, that one of her eyes isn’t focusing — whether properly or at all she can’t be sure of. More harrowing is the immobility of her right arm and right leg coupled with a prickling pins-and-needles sensation of a limb that is asleep.

Whatever Yi-Min had been about to whisper next towards Kara is arrested by the sound of Hachiro's voice. Privacy is not something that is theirs, so it would appear. Instead, her head lolls towards the third obvious presence in the room, and she tries again to get a firmer bearing on the surroundings that seem to swim about her senses like water.

As she draws out the next several seconds, gathering them into a knot of slow concentration as she tests out first one of her limbs, then the next, Yi-Min soon discovers that isn't color isn't the only sensation missing to her.

Neither her right arm nor right leg are responding to her mental commands.

"What of the operation?" she asks aloud as though to nobody in particular while this is going on, her voice strangely wispy and hoarse — a mask for her mounting dread. "Is it out?"

"It's out," Kara confirms quietly, her eyes shifting along with Yi-Min's movement attempts. They're subtle, little more than a shift of sheets, but she notes there's none from the right side. Her IV-laden hand doesn't twitch.

"Yi-Min, other things happened, too," where other in this case means complications, but she's trying to not draw as much attention to that. She speaks slowly, calmly, her tone demanding attention. "We can take that one thing at a time, though, all right? They were just saying they didn't know if you'd wake up again, so let's just—"

But if she was going to be trapped in her own body, she would want to know right away, too, if it had been worth it. The rest of her plea is exhaled away.

Kara relents, and turns back to Hachiro, posture straightening. "I'm sorry. I— interrupted you." She wipes at the corner of her eye as she tries to nudge conversation back. "Is there anything you learned from the results yet?"

Hachiro is cautious as he visibly deliberates his answer. Drumming his fingers on the footboard of Yi-Min’s bed, he shakes his head in the negative, then reconsiders and exhales an exasperated sigh. “Answers that led to more questions, I’m afraid. Yes, the implant is out but we haven’t had any time to examine it.”

“There’s less directly-related matters, but…” Hachiro looks between Kara and Yi-Min. “I think they’ll have to wait. Ms. Yeh is in a delicate state right now, and…” he shakes his head. “As per your agreement with Ms. Nakamura, your medical expenses will be fully covered by Yamagato Industries. You have my assurance that agreement will be honored.”

"Perhaps I would be in a slightly less delicate state if you did not keep me in a state of suspense, waiting for answers I was willing to give my life for," Yi-Min's voice rasps, noticeably devoid of any of the tension otherwise besetting her body. Whatever else she's lost, she still has all her old wryness. Her head plunks back down into the fabric of her pillow with a softness that denotes increasing thought, and she doesn't let go of Kara's hands with the one of hers that is functioning normally.

Hell if she's letting go of that.

Her lone eye stares calmly up at the monochrome, relentlessly out-of-focus ceiling. "Why… would there even be a question that my agreement would not be honored? What other things happened?"

There's a part of Kara, inexplicably, that wants to correct Hachiro. It's not Ms, it's Doctor.

She swallows down the sentiment for the moment. It's a tone she's more than willing to take with the doctors later, if they try and belittle Yi-Min's ability to intake information. Because otherwise… Hachiro is right. Just now, right after she's woken, is maybe too early to have any news that's satisfying.

Except for the one piece. Why would her agreement potentially not have been honored?

Kara looks back to the man at the foot of the bed, silently echoing Yi-Min's question.

Hachiro’s expression is a tense one. He looks at Kara, then Yi-Min, and then to the door in the hope that a doctor will interrupt him. None as of yet arrive. Which is, among many things, unusual.

“In the hours after your surgery,” Hachiro says with his eyes downcast to the foot of Yi-Min’s bed, “Ms. Nakamura suffered a fatal brain bleed. By the time emergency medical was on scene, it was too late. Kimiko is dead.” Hachiro’s jaw unsteadies, his eyes glassing over. He looks up from the foot of the bed to Yi-Min, and it becomes clear this is deeply impacting him. It is more than a professional loss. Kimiko was his friend.

“I am acting CEO until Mr. Hayate arrives from Tokyo.” Hachiro explains, and therein lies the rub. “I am going to do everything in my power to ensure the details of your arrangement are not changed and that you remain safe. With everything in my power.”

Of all the things Yi-Min could have let get to her, this is so far the one that's had the greatest unintentional success. Her gaze swerves through blurred lines of space back across the room to Hachiro, lingering on his face for several seconds too long as though to ensure he's actually being serious. Then, she takes in a sharp breath through her nostrils. "Kimiko is dead?"

Suddenly, much more of her present conditions made sense.

This was also incredibly complicated news. Yi-Min does not miss the cloud of heaviness hanging over the elderly man, but suddenly, there were a hundred other things closer to home adding to the tension in the air. For the first, she almost instinctively seeks out Kara again. "And, the rest of us…?"

Kara Prince has very little idea who Kimiko Nakamura is— no, was beyond her name, her position, and the fact she was a crash victim the same as Yi-Min. So she too is rendered speechless when it comes out that Kimiko is dead, fear and dread clawing at her soul and dragging it down all over again.

Perhaps Yi-Min would be safe, now that she had that chip out.

Or perhaps it'd do nothing at all to stop whatever degradation was happening to them all.

Kara tries to come up with a question to tack on, but her lip rolls back up, bitten down on hard. She turns back to Yi-Min, threading their fingers together tightly. She gives a slight shake of her head, brow furrowing up.

Hachiro shakes his head, lacking the answers Yi-Min needs. “You’ll live, for now. But this isn’t a tenable situation. If the surgery we did doesn’t come up with long-term answers, I’m very afraid for what the future looks like for you. For all of you.” He wishes there were better news to deliver, but Hachiro wasn’t going to lie to Yi-Min and Kara.

“In the interim, I have an advanced wheelchair I can offer you until physical therapy is an option. Even then, we have fear you may never fully regain mobility in your right extremities. But we’re going to do what we can to investigate the nerve damage and see if there’s a path to repair.” Hachiro walks to the door right around when a red-clad doctor steps in, pulling up a red cloth mask over his nose and mouth.

“They’re going to go over your vitals, make sure you’re taken care of.” Hachiro says in the doorway, head hung and shoulders slack. “But, you two deserve privacy. Time to adjust.”

The weight of Kara's hand is heavy in and around Yi-Min's. As the moments lengthen, it fades into the one presence that registers in her mind, physically and otherwise; all else seems to recede into the lonely gloom of her thought.

皇天不负苦心人. Heaven would not betray those who are trying their best.

Would it?

And it feels like they have been doing nothing but trying so very, very hard.

Before Hachiro can disappear all the way through the doorway, the sound of Yi-Min's voice rises again to meet him, somehow carrying more clearly for its quietened volume. "Thank you, Mr. Otomo. For… this, and everything." Her vision might be damaged in several ways, but what she is just a little bit more certain she can discern is the shape of a man with a decent soul.

Hachiro lingers in the doorway a moment, taking that thanks in so much as can. His wordless, subtle nod back to Yi-Min shows the breadth of his own regret for her predicament. A moment later, he’s gone. The doctors that take his place check Yi-Min’s vitals on her monitors first, affording one final moment of privacy to the couple.

Even in the state she's in, her partner does a better job than Kara herself at displaying insight. All she has now is a heavy heart, and a heavier mind as she looks away from the other in the room and back to Yi-Min.

"We'll get through this," she promises softly, lifting up the clasp of their hands, giving a subtle shake to help emphasise her point. "All right?" And for Yi-Min's sake alone, she forces a small, but sad smile.

They will get through this. They'll recover and adapt with all the grace both of them can manage both separately and together.

But after what's happened today, the ill portent of Kimiko's death and the collective degradation of health in the other Sundered… even Kara is beginning to lose hope they'll find answers in time to save Yi-Min from growing worse.

"I love you," she promises as fiercely as she does softly, kissing the top of Yi-Min's hand.

Sometimes, love is enough.

Years Earlier

Sitting on a couch in front of a black and white television in a wood-panel console, Yi-Min Yeh's tiny head slouches against her brother's shoulder. Yi-Shan reaches up and wraps a small arm around her, then rests his small cheek atop her head. Invasion of the Body Snatchers plays on the television, and Donald Sutherland raises his hand and points toward the screen, mouth opening to unleash a hellish cry that identifies the protagonist as a human being and not a pod person. The young Yi-Shan laughs softly, smiling, and he turns to ask his sister a question… but he sees she is asleep.

Yi-Shan watches her, with her eyes closed, breathing softly and peacefully.

And he lets her sleep.

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