History Lesson


hiro_icon.gif zoe_icon.gif

Scene Title History Lesson
Synopsis As promised, Hiro visits Zoe to talk about Kensei, but other issues are discussed as well.
Date February 20, 2009

Linderman Group Building - Archive

And in a blink, Hiro is there. Again. In the same place he was days ago. He fades in coming fresh from just speaking to a Zoe that was a few days younger, hand going to the hilt of his sword Just In Case. Because in spite of best efforts the girl is about as trustworthy as her uncle allows her to be. Provided, that is, that Linderman truly did not know (or is playing this so close to the chest) that he didn't know about Hiro's first visit.

Zoe didn't tell Linderman, but of course that doesn't mean he might not know. Despite the fact that she's waiting for him, even has some artifacts prepped to show him, she still lets out a little yelp and starts in her computer chair when he just appears like that, and puts a hand to her heart. "Mr. Nakamura!"

Still for a moment as his eyes cut side to side, Hiro waits about five seconds before concluding that things are okay. Then he looks at Zoe and unfreezes himself, hand coming off the hilt of his sword and walking toward her at her computer. "Why're you surprised? I just came from three days ago." Beat. "I need something to write with."

"Well, you're not there at all and suddenly you are," she says, blinking owlishly and pushing her glasses up her nose. "It can be very surprising, you know." Dutifully she digs into a drawer, pulls out a legal pad and a pen, and holds it out for him. "I have some things for you to look at. Artifacts belonging to Kensei and one of his later wives."

The legal pad is taken briskly but with a terse, "Thanks." And Hiro begin writing down what he just got done being told by a younger Zoe about five paintings. Because it's very important to get those details down when they're fresh. "Give me a moment." he requests, silent as he mumbles to himself in Japanese as he writes, closing his eyes a few times as if to help the recall process. So far the information's still fresh, because it was mere minutes ago that he heard it. Once it's committed to paper, Hiro sets the pen back down on the desk and rips the top three sheets off of the pad, folding them all up and giving them a home in his inner coat pocket. That way there'll be no easy way to gather what exactly he wrote on the pad, since pen impressions probably won't go down farther than the third sheet.

"All right." he says, standing upright from having bent over to write against the desktop. "So. Kensei's stuff." And he seems to only now hear something Zoe said. "…later wives?" Hiro frowns and looks at Zoe. "Nothing from Yaeko?"

Zoe blinks. "No. Yaeko, the swordsmith's daughter, she married someone else. But she is rumored to be the author of mysterious written document called 'The Kensei Scrolls'. But they're practically legendary, no one knows for sure if they exist. I have this, though…" She rises and moves to one of the shelves, tapping in a series of numbers on a keypad.

A metal length of steel slides out, and then a glass pane carefully braced on it. Two in fact, and sandwiched between them is a kimono, bright red as might be worn at a wedding. "This belonged to Yumi, great granddaughter of Yaeko. It was she who married Takezo Kensei in the eighteenth century."

Out of curiosity Hiro follows Zoe to the shelves and stands behind her. Once the shelf slides open he stops and leans close to it, looking at the kimono. From his heavy silence much could be inferred, but when he breaks it at last all he says is, "I never knew her." Slowly Hiro puts a hand over his mouth and slides it down his chin. Then asks, "Tell me something. Where did you get the name Carp from? I didn't think it would be written anywhere."

"The ceremony was quite beautiful - Yumi was terribly in love with him. She was devastated when she thought he - oh, that." She smiles faintly. "My ability." she explains. "It's a very specific form of psychometry - it works strongest with old objects. Ten or more years, but the older, the better. I see what's happened around the object like I'm watching a movie, like I'm experiencing it as it happens."

Oh. Well. That does explain some things. And therefore this girl saw a very different Hiro, he knows. He takes a deep breath in and very slowly nods while watching her, taking a moment to turn the thought over in his head. "Which is why…I understand now. Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you. You were saying about Yumi? What did she think about Kensei?"

"She thought he drowned." Zoe says. "She loved him very much, but I don't think he - I don't think she was what he expected. She looked rather a lot like Yaeko, but they weren't the same person." She shrugs faintly. "He's popped up throughout the years. I've seen him in bits and pieces stretching from the time you met him til about, umm…mid to late nineteenth century. I only saw you the once, though." Her gaze becomes curious at that. "Why are the paintings so important to you?"

"I thought I explained that. There is a chance that they predict future events. I've seen that happen before." Boy has he. Hiro looks away from the displayed kimono and at Zoe to drive the point home. "The subjects of those paintings may be specific…shatterpoints…of spacetime around which future events are determined." Yes. He got that from a Star Wars novel. Mace Windu said it. It's really a good term for the phenomenon, in his opinion. "Why, was there something else about them you haven't told me?"

Zoe looks faintly sheepish. He did tell her that. She blinks. "What? No! My uncle wants them back of course."

A single acknowledging nod and Hiro says, "What else do you have?" He gives a cursory rap of his knuckles on the sliding steel shelf in which the kimono rests.

Zoe looks momentarily fretful. "Be careful please!" she says, reaching a hand out to gently steady the non-swaying steel bar, like she thinks he's going to do something awful to it. Well, curators and their toys. She taps another code, it slides back into place. "You saw the armor faceplate. And this…" another code tapped, another shelf extension, and there is Kensei's black and red war banner. Or one of them, at any rate.

Eyebrows go up. Hiro can't help himself this time. He really does reach for the artifact and run a finger lightly across the sigil of Kensei, that very same sign embossed on the hilt of his sword. "I've forgotten how many of these I've ruined. I told Kensei he needed to have a lot more extras because we'd get them shredded. He could heal, you know. So when he went into battle it was always him charging in letting himself get chewed up. Swords, arrows, he'd take it all, and then we'd have to get another banner because the old one looked like it belonged to someone who lost every battle he was in." The recollection seems to amuse him.

Zoe makes a little noise in the back of her throat, like someone having an anxiety attack while their darling baby is in the dentist's chair. "You're going to leave smudges on the glass." she says plaintively. "The last time I saw him, it was a few months ago. I think I mentioned. It was at a local club. I haven't seen him since." There's a pause. "You're going to try and stop what's happening in the paintings, right?"

"Yes." Hiro says after jerking his hand back, looking ever-so-slightly like he feels scolded. Shouldn't be feeling up the things he once dealt with in another life. "If it's bad. I mean, sometimes it's a good thing. I've saved lives because of Isaac Mendez' artwork before. There was a little girl in Tokyo that he illustrated being saved from being hit by a bus. If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have known to save her." He frowns and looks down, troubled. "The problem is trying to find a way to make the bad things fail to happen. It's hard to derail Destiny."

"Isaac Mendez…the illustrator for 9th Wonders?" Zoe perks like a meerkat coming out of its hole. "I have several of those, but I haven't actually, you know, read them. Would you like to see?"

That offer gives Hiro pause. He considers it. But just this moment he's not sure he needs to be staring at the things that he and Ando used to do. "Later." he decides. "Why don't you read them? I'm in some of them. Isaac saw and drew a lot of what was to happen to me." This has to get back on task. "Miss Porter, I don't mean to pressure you, but I thought you wanted to talk about Takezo Kensei?"

"I - " she blinks a bit and then, "My uncle has asked me to look into their theft. And it's interesting to me that you're going to a lot of trouble to find them." She starts walking back to the desk. "I didn't know you were in them. But now that I do, I may."

Unfortunately for Hiro the thought occurs that if someone believed everything they read in 9th Wonders they might actually end up knowing quite a lot about him. And these days that is a bad prospect. But there really is nothing to do about that because there are copies of that manga from here to Japan. For better or worse that information is out, hidden in the form of comic book fiction. The thought gives him pause before he begins exploring the archive passively, looking at what there is to see. "I would like very much to know where Kensei is at now. I know you said you don't know. I'm just…he was not a very good man back then. How did he seem when you met him?" People could potentially change quite a bit in a few hundred years.

"Distracted." she admits. "Suspiscious. It was hard for me to convince him I want out to do him a harm. I mean, I wasn't, but…" she gestures vaguely at herself. "Look at me. What did he think I was going to do, chase after him for his library card?"

Slowly Hiro turns to face Zoe and look her over, then says cryptically, "You look like I used to look." Lets that sink in.

Zoe stares at him mutely, like she's not sure how she's supposed to take that. "I'm just a curator."

"Yes. I know." replies Hiro neutrally. So Kensei was paranoid. Not a good sign, that. "Well. I guess what I did before I left Kensei worked then. Because he wanted to conquer Japan. And with Whitebeard's arsenal of guns he could have. Whitebeard was going to move on the Emperor and become Shogun. After I defeated Whitebeard for him, I made the guns disappear. Gathered them together and left them in the caldera of Krakatoa before it erupted in 1883. I know that didn't make him happy."

Zoe blinks a little bit. "When did this happen? I mean, for you. How long ago? In your personal time frame of reference?" She frowns a little. "Talking about things like 'when' with you is going to be very confusing, I can see."

Finally Hiro betrays an actual grin. "A-hah…I know." He tries to think it over. "The problem with that is things like timepieces really have no use to me. At least not any I could carry on my person. Because they'll never match another clock and that's really why people carry them, to synchronize what they do with the world. So I couldn't say exactly how long ago it was to me, but I want to say…five years?" He looks distant, thinking. Slowly comes to a nod. "About five years. Maybe. Maybe a little more." And he just left this timeframe two years ago. "I was busy after that. Learning things that I needed to know."

"So you returned from feudal Japan five years ago in your perspective, and all this time…" she blinks, shakes her head, and then her eye is caught by something over his shoulder. "Is that Kensei's sword?"

"Not anymore." Hiro says, the barest hint of indignancy in his voice. It OUGHT to be called the Nakamura Sword. Much better name for it really. Then a thought occurs. "You get a reading when you touch things, right? That's what psychometry means?"

Zoe nods. And she really, really looks like she wants to ask him, and it's probably likely that he knows what she really, really wants to ask him, but she keeps her mouth shut and eyes the hilt of the sword like it's the last cookie.

Hiro's not dumb by any stretch. He knows what she wants. So he gets something of a smirk on his face and draws the sword quickly. Its blade is brilliant and gleaming, reworked again and again where its been nicked and bloodied and even once broken in two. But nonetheless, a well cared-for blade for all its abuse. He cradles the blunt of the blade against his left palm and the heel in his right hand, extending it hilt-first toward Zoe. "Go ahead."

Zoe's eyes just light up. "You'll have to move my hand off of it." she says. "Or um, otherwise prompt a response. Slapping works." She doesn't wait for a reaction though, she reaches out, curls her hand around the hilt. Almost instantaneously, she's thrown into trance, her chin lifting as her eyes go wide - and completely silver, without white or iris evident. It's a shimmery, liquid mercury sort of color. Hiro's seen Star Trek. Those silver pinball eyes from 'Where No Man Has Gone Before'? Exactly like that.

Hiro could always just twist the sword out of her hands. He's really not inclined to hit a fairly harmless girl who means no ill.

What Zoe sees is everything the sword knows. Except perhaps some of the most recent things. The sword's forging so long ago, its owner Takezo Kensei, the drunken Englishman making his way through Japan. Conning the village of Otsu into paying him to be their protector. Kensei himself being too cowardly, too drunk, and mostly just too lazy to actually do that job and rather hiring patsies to PRETEND to be Kensei. And then one day a bespectacled young Japanese man with sad eyes appeared and showed him another way. Their adventures. Their battles. Their friendship as Kensei discovered his abilities and began to fulfill his legend. Their falling out as Kensei's ambitions went farther than the legend and decency allowed, and Hiro's betrayal when he took this very sword and cut off Whitebeard's head with it, then took all the guns. The sword was there when Hiro returned and explained to Kensei what he'd done and why. A shouting match. What was almost a fight. Some of it's strange because it's seen from the point of view of TWO swords, as Hiro had the future version of the same sword simultaneous to helping Kensei holding the original.

And then things get blurry the closer it comes to the present. Another time in old Japan. A cold-eyed Samurai with a hideous skin condition. Something to do with America. Warplanes. Finally two things: An eclipse of the sun, and Peter Petrelli, bloody scar across his face.

Hiro pulls the sword from the girl's grasp. "Are you all right?" He asks.

"No, wait - " the sword is pulled from her grasp, and she'd seen so much detail. She blinks, and suddenly her gaze restores to normal, with her staggering slightly. "It's seen so much…" she says in a gasp. "Did you go back in time - only much more recently? World War I, or II?"

"I had to learn English. To speak it better. And I wanted to learn something else." Hiro explains, hesitating. He might as well say so. "During World War II President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. Do you know what that was?"

"I have a masters degree in history." she offers furtively. "The order establishing the internment of those who belonged to 'foreign enemy ancestry'," she finger quotes. "Not the proudest moment in American's past."

"Sound familiar?" Hiro asks heavily, resheathing the sword. "I deserved to experience it. What it was like. To be imprisoned for what you are and not what you've done. Because I had no right to fight for people when I didn't understand what they fight against." He motions toward the window and therefore the city at large. "This is very much like that. But yes. I spent the war in an internment camp for Japanese Americans." He hesitates. Sighs. "Anything else?"

"This - this what?" she asks, completely lacking any idea of what he's talking about. "Anything - no, I suppose not, I.." she trails off, completely flustered. "Wait. What will you do, if you find the paintings? I mean, you just want to look at them, right? You don't have any other purpose for them."

"I don't need to look for them at all if what you told me was accurate." comes the reply. Hiro gives Zoe a probing look and asks, "Is there any other detail you can add about them? It'll help. Anything."

Zoe frowns. "I think I might have seen one of the people in one of them, but I'm not sure. If you find the paintings…could you bring them to me? My uncle really wants them back." She offers a pleading, sheepish smile.

That makes Hiro snort. "Miss Porter, you're a sweet girl, but I could give a damn what your uncle wants." Though he thinks about it. "If I run across them and they're no real use anymore then yes, I'll bring them to you."

Zoe blinks in confusion yet again, and then looks, well, she actually looks a little angry. "I don't know what your problem is with him," she says, "But he's a good man. He's known me since I was a little girl, and he made sure I had everything I could ask for when my parents died." She takes a breath - after all, he did just more or less say he could help her. She tries to look less indignant, and ends up feeling embarrassed. "Thank you." she says, feeling oddly guilty.

If Hiro understands one thing, it's how one's family can hide secrets from you. Only in his case his own father was hiding something both terrible and wonderful. Such, if it were the case, would surprise him deeply about Linderman. "I hope you never find out differently about him." Hiro says simply, perhaps out of respect for familial bonds. Because he does understand. "Thank you for helping me, Zoe Porter. I won't forget it."

Then once again and like the last time, he ceases to be there.

February 20th: Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps
February 20th: In Passing
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