ff_asi_icon.gif asi4_icon.gif

Scene Title 君と繋いで
Synopsis 目を見てくれないあなたのその目を
Date June 19, 2021

Two Worlds At Once

Another knock at the door that could be any door, but is the door that leads to her mind brings Asi back to the moment again. She takes in a deep breath, hands in the pockets of the cotton jacket she's drawn on today— one that's helped her to fend off the chill of the AC as much as the feel of the abnormally cold weather where Elliot is.

Silently, she lifts her head and invites the wary, outside presence in to her perspective. The 'shape' of the 'hand' she accepts by drawing her other self into her view is a strange one. But ultimately, it's not as surreal as she'd thought it might be.

Her own experience with the Network grants her a certain grace her counterpart doesn't have, who exhales in surprise and blinks twice as she feels a body that is and isn't her own. "«Unreal.»" she breathes out with a slight shake of her head.

It leads Asi to shake her own, a sympathetic smile pulling the corners of her mouth without actually inspiring them to move. "Very real," she answers. "«No matter how jarring.»"

"«Semantics,»" her other self dismisses her with a flicker of impatience and self-righteousness. Asi's tone doesn't sit well with her. She juts her head up slightly, asking with unfocused gaze, "«So what did you want? Why all the effort?»"

It's her turn now to exhale a laugh away. "That's a… great question," Asi answers. It's not meant to be a play for time, and yet it becomes one as she begins to pace her quarters, one hand coming to rub the back of her neck. Her open laptop on the simple desk prickles her other self's interest, but she's not paying attention to that. "«There's not a single answer to it, though. I suppose— if you had the opportunity, would you not take it?»"

"No," the other Asi answers so flatly as to be hostile, without hesitation. "No, I don't really give a damn about your world. It's not mine. It never will be. Why bother with the what ifs and the wondering?"

It takes her off-guard, but it also doesn't. Their situations were so different. Carefully, pace halted, she lifts her voice again. "ここは違うんだ." It takes her a moment to qualify it, but she explains, "«Here, other realities aren't questions, they're unavoidable. They have their dangers, but someone opened the door, and the least we can do is look out for those who have bled over.»" She rankles at that, but holds her tongue, posture squaring. Asi quiets for a moment in acknowledgement of that before charging on undeterred. "«And it leads one to wonder about the people those people left behind.»"

She turns to begin another slow walk about the room, hands tightly balled in her pockets as she explains, "«I've wondered about you ever since I saw a glimpse of you. Ever since Silas saw my face and decided on that merit alone I was a person he could trust.»" A wry tug at the corner of her mouth accompanies a breathy, "«I don't think you realize how few people trust me. And how few people should.»"

"You looked out for him," her other self acknowledges neutrally.

"I did," Asi answers, following the switch in language again without blinking.

"Why?" she asks with bewilderment.

"Because you would have," Asi replies with just as heavy a dip in her voice, brow furrowing. "Because you matter to him and he matters to you, and you would have wanted someone watching out for him."

The silence that follows is complicated and grudging, no single set of words sufficing enough that they come to the surface. Thank you is a difficult enough sentiment to navigate, especially owing to the awkwardness caused by the sincerity of it. It ends up being her who speaks again, trying to offer something up to keep the conversation moving. "I figure it might be worth mentioning you're not the first other self I've met," she offers up.

Perplexed, it's her turn to furrow her brow this time. "Is that so?" she asks cautiously, still on guard after Asi's honesty. Her gaze flits to the side as a packaged memory makes itself apparent, fingers twitching as she mentally reaches for it. She breathes in sharply at the amalgamation she's exposed to, brought back to— for the first time— the Praxis Ziggurat. She feels her hand place directly to the black dodecahedron that holds what's shockingly her own mind; is overwhelmed by the tragic memory so close to the surface, followed by the request to help her by letting her go. To let her stop suffering by being the center of everything and at last rest.

"いや," she breathes out in a sudden gasp, refusing to resign even this briefly-known self to such a fate. To wink out into nothing after being denied peace. Her head turns to the side and she sighs relief to know that Asi did not allow that to happen. In the last of the memory, she feels the way that Asi's mind expands and twines with her other self, integrating and becoming the Praxis network. She's over a hundred drones at once, the lifeblood of a life support system for an entire city, the servers of research facilities and everything they hold— the nerve center of an entire seeming star system of activity.

Which makes the silence when she stops perceiving the memory that much more jarring. It highlights the way the obvious technology in the room with Asi doesn't feel— doesn't feel right. In fact, it doesn't feel like anything at all.

"What happened to you?" her other self asks cautiously.

"I drew every bit of her into myself," Asi answers. "The subprocesses I let go of when the network collapsed. I was—"

"No," she snaps. "What happened to–" She reaches out for the board she's rewiring, feels her power gather in the tips of her fingers and pulse through it. Feels it, however faintly and briefly, light up in her senses as a live electronic object. "What happened to you? And— to her if…" Her brow begins to furrow. "To us," she clarifies, suddenly strangely protective of the thought of anything happening to the Red Oni as well.

Asi can only sympathize with that surprise and strong gut feeling, the sudden shift in priorities to cover protection of all selves, especially the ones that can't fend for their own. And she can't help but be caught off-guard by the rapid demonstration of her other self's ability, both the same and yet different from her own.

But she doesn't have an easy answer as to what happened to her. Grimly, her mouth firms into a line. Her eyes dip, hesitating on drawing attention to memories she doesn't want to relive. "Technology is different here," she evades answering directly. "Someone found a way to…"

She doesn't follow up that thought, all too aware how the complicated nature of her situation can take up so much time— and potentially reach ears she doesn't want worrying about her. Asi forces a small smile. "She's still there. I was able to confirm she is still there. And that's what matters."

Her other self chews on that in silence, jaw setting by the and. She grants a bypass on explanation, in the end. "«Understood,»" she answers with grudgingly-granted grace. Her eyes lift and she reaches automatically for the remaining wrapped snack that Elliot had earlier delivered. "Though…" The powerful, terrible memories shared between them are hard to clear from her mind, and eventually she furrows her brow, focusing on them again. "«That face,»" she murmurs as she digs through the bag. "«I've seen that face.»"

Asi begins to arch an eyebrow slowly, putting her attention back to the part of the memory her other self is fixated on. "Erica Kravid's?"

To that, she can only frown. A name was never said. Her eyes flutter shut as she focuses on the memory, calls that day forward from the past and brings her back to where she stood next to a seated and blindfolded blonde woman holding a single dogtag in her hand, both of them witnessing an event happen live as though they were there in the moment.

That contains a recently acquired technopath asset who we were able to artificially extract from her body and place her mind here in the storehouse.” Kravid motions to the solid state drive plugged into the array. “It goes by the name ON-1. We’re going to transmit it through the aperture to the other side and set it about the systems. Hopefully,” Kravid bobs her head from side to side, “ideally it will be able to find a way out of the Geopoint facility to give us more data.”

"ありえない2," Asi whispers in disbelief. "私もそう思っていました3," her other murmurs in return, though they're both remarking on different aspects of this.

“Just a copy of the technopath. Right?” Cassandra sounds a little wary as the clamps are buckled, the focusing lens of the laser bouncing a little in its mounts as the chassis is attached. “You’ll be able to get ON-1 back, though, right? This is just a copy or something, isn’t it? You were able to retrieve these logs, I’m guessing through a wireless signal of some kind. Is the signal strong enough for us to get ON-1 back, and can we leave the gate open long enough to transfer….”_

“We won't know until we try,” Kravid says with a raise of her brows, turning to the team that awaits her orders. She says nothing to confirm or deny this technopath is a copy, of such a thing is even possible. Raising one hand, Kravid gives the technicians what they've been waiting for: “Open it!”

Asi swears, letting the eerieness of things settle deep into her even as she sets about arranging the pieces offered up together into a cohesive timeline. Between Asi's relived, conduited memories, and her Flood counterpart's memory of the memory viewing, they both come to a better understanding of what happened in those moments when a different Asi than they was held at gunpoint with her back to the Looking Glass. Part of her stayed– and part of her went. Subprocesses and fragmented conscious remained behind and were used in additional Looking Glass experiments, while her body went through only to be resurrected and reconstituted. For a time, maybe even an overlapping time, there were two of them at once in the same period of existence.

Until Kravid burned out yet another technopath in her Looking Glass experimentation. A loss that was made permanent when the blonde, postcognitive scientist was transported to another world.

All she can do is purse her lips together, thinking past that moment where their memories have blended together in strange ways– back to something that's blurred and hers.

"… But why did you care, anyway? Why were you so attached?"

“Because she deserved more than that.” Cassandra answers this almost without thinking, looking over after a moment. “That woman you saw, Erika Kravid, was….singular in her pursuits of Looking Glass. That portal thing you saw me jump through. The one she sent ON-1 through. She didn't care. Not at all.” Cassandra’s fingers start to move. A nervous gesture that she mostly stops by holding her hands together. Mostly.

Cassandra's eyes close and the words just come. “ON-1 wasn't a tool. She was someone. Someone with hopes, dreams, and a family. Friends. And Erika forced her into that box somehow and then just threw her away like she was nothing. They could have sent a backup. A copy. A robot for chrissakes!” Cassandra’s voice raises before she tamps her temper back down. “And when the transfer failed, she was more concerned that Looking Glass was damaged, not that she killed…” Cassandra sniffles, wiping her eyes, taking a slow, shaky breath. “That she killed a soul. That magic, she just threw away. I was attached because she deserved someone to try. For her.”

Remaining aloof is a challenge that grows harder, hearing and seeing Cassandra. It feels bizarre to say the least, knowing that in some way it's herself that's being discussed, but the alcohol suspends her disbelief enough that her stomach doesn't do too many somersaults.

"I don't know that ON1. I'm not her. But whether she died for hubris, because she was betrayed, or…" Asi waves a hand dismissively, broadly. She knew what she meant to say. "I know I'm glad someone tried." She looks at Cassandra pityingly, her voice light in an attempt to be kind.

"But listen. The world doesn't care. Bad happens. Evil creeps in. And it will destroy you." Having leaned in at some point, she sits back up and cocks her head. "You can't waste your time being attached to what's gone. You can't fight for the past — it won't change anything. What's gone is gone." She waves a hand flippantly again, numb to any emotional response to that, in her current state. "Just charge forward, and burn anyone who tries to fuck with you."

Her brow lifts up and she smiles. It could be mistaken for a gentle one, but her eyes are cold. "あくまで4," she advises, each syllable deliciously separate from the last.

Asi's gaze flickers in silence at that last bit, pupils widening at nothing as she comes to a sense of realization regarding how they both ended up with the names they share. Hers– because she turned being a devil feared into her armor. But in a Flooded, crueler world, she resolved to become whatever devil was needed to survive. She feels her hair stand on its end as she settles her chin and lets out a tone of acknowledgement for what's been shared with her. That, though, is all she has to offer.

Or rather, it's all she wants to offer. The rest is kept firmly to herself, that aspect of the network much appreciated in this moment.

That time it takes for Asi to contemplate that is spent with her other self unwrapping the rice ball and considering its shape. "«Despite that,»" she notes, "«when Cassandra offered to ferry a message to the next future she saw, I leapt at the opportunity. I lost myself for a moment and thought to help others at no benefit to myself, to send a message warning about the Vanguard. To slip you a note from yourself so you could compare it with your own– how things were the same. How things were different.»" She pauses for a moment to reflect with a dull pang in her chest, "«To pass on memory of what here was lost.»"

Tongue to cheek, she reminds them both quietly, "But you never got the message in a bottle, so what does it matter anyway?"

Asi's hands fidget out of her pockets to fold her arms tightly before her chest. "If she arrived," she notes absently, "it's likely her message may have been lost. Either because of the events leading up to the Crossing, or the jump itself." She's pulling at the fringes of the knowledge she's learned by association with Eve– by reviewing data collected by Raytech. "I'm given to understand those transitions didn't play well with any electronics passing through, much less persons. That as many of the Travelers arrived in Sunspot safely and at all was nothing short of a miracle, so…" But now she's rambling, trying to provide assurances where none have been asked for, and maybe none have been needed.

The sound of chewing fills the silence, though her double lets out a disaffected tone of acknowledgement for the complexities she's decided she no longer cares about. Instead, she focuses on what she can ask here– what information she might like to know from another universe. The spontaneous volunteering of information just now indicates there's an opening for it, at least. She takes a solid moment to mull over what even to ask, finally figuring that if it was going to be anything, it might as well be to swing for the fences. "«Unrelated, but…»"

"«Is the world ending?»" she asks herself bluntly.

This isn't an answer she should give. "へい," leaves her anyway. "There's an Entity with powers beyond what anyone should have, and it's decided to use them … in that way."

Maybe the details could be avoided.

"«Does it have to do with the sun?»" she asks plainly, offering up the memory— and emotions associated with realizing Silas' suspicions could hold credence.

Ah. Maybe they couldn't, then.

Seeing Silas again through the shared memory brings a complicated pang to her chest, and an unexpected smile despite the circumstance. "頭がいい,そのヤツ." A huff of incredulous laughter leaves her, bittersweet. "It… I wish I had another answer," Asi apologizes.

"Hmph." She starts to scowl before drowning the expression by taking a large bite out of the seaweed-wrapped snack in her palm. The silence that follows is heavy, but appropriate. Isn't it? Given the subject matter? At least, this is what she tells herself.

Asi bides the time by coming to sit down at her desk, one hand resting against the ledge of it. She starts to glance at her current work, then shakes her head. "To be honest, it's not clear to me what your world has that ours doesn't."

"«Maybe it has to do with the papers we found in Japan. Kaito's Hail Mary.»"

"たぶん," she allows. "«But that's not why they're there. And to be honest, I've tried not digging into that.»"

"«They're going to Alaska,»" her other self offers up helpfully with a mouthful of rice. Then she withers slightly on feeling the tired exasperation Asi expels on hearing things she doesn't want to know too many specifics of. After all, she's just done what she wants Asi not to do to her, and she had the same reaction she herself would have. She reflects perhaps they're not completely different after all.

"«I… have too much on my own end I need to remain focused on,»" Asi deflects with strained politeness. "«Our own mission here to try and survive past the end of the world if the people there fail.»" Tongue in cheek, she swivels her head back to the computer.

"頑張って下さい5," her other self asks of her with a voice dripping with embittered sarcasm.

Asi purses her lips together. She has nothing she can offer the Flooded world in terms of advice save for, "«There's always trying what we're doing: digging an extraordinarily deep hole and hoping we still don't crisp when the solar flare comes.»"

"I suppose it makes me feel slightly better the plan on your side is also to hope blindly," her other self notes just as acerbically, head tilting back with that reflection. "I would have expected your end to be better off than we are— what with your reality-traveling technology and all."

"Yeah, well," Asi's voice lowers down into a teeth-grit mutter. "Would we have sent people there had we any hope on our own?" The silence that follows her question serves as its own form of answer.

She recognizes the two of them both are dancing around each other with knives in strange ways; attempting to connect while also pushing away and acknowledging separateness and separation in equal measure. It makes this next lapse of quiet harder to circle back from. For all they might be the same, they are different. Her thoughts are arrested, though, when her other self must be wondering the same thing, one hand coming to touch at a gruesome scar on her abdomen. It brings her to blink. "What's that from?" Asi asks before thinking.

Her other self's lips curl in a private smirk, her touch coming down on her side more firmly. Her battle scar is a source of pride. "«I received it while sinking the Sentinel's submarine. One of theirs—»"

But Asi is letting out a shock of laughter. "やばい," she exclaims automatically. "マジ?"

Brow knitting in a sudden scowl, she insists, "Yes." She scoffs and looks off. "«Why would I lie about that?»"

"«No, that's just— that's just amazing.»" The half-grin from her laugh persists as she leans back. "«I feel like I should step up my game in comparison,»" she laughs without true self-consciousness.

Peering at nothing, her other self quizzically wonders, "«But you've said no one trusts or should trust you. Aren't you some…?»"

"«Terrorist. Yes,»" Asi acknowledges with a sobering tone. "«I was an agent of the Evolved special forces in Japan, known as the Mugai-Ryu, for ten years and then was sold upriver by my superiors and branded a terrorist. I then staged a prison break to free wrongly-imprisoned Evolved in Japan, and followed that up by…»" She blinks abruptly, looking to the door. The hair on the back of her neck stands on end immediately, a deep-seated fear of being overheard and her life once again turned upside down for it being unrooted in an instant. She takes a deep breath, slow, her head turning toward the closed door of her quarters as though it has ears. Or eyes. It very well could. After all, she can't truly confirm anymore if it does or not. "«But we don't talk about that,»" she explains carefully.

"I get it and all," her other self sympathizes with a laconic air, "but that still sounds kick-ass in its own right." One corner of her mouth pulls back in a smile after she feels Asi snort in amusement at her. She takes another bite of the rice ball to finish it off and wipes her hands together, then on her pants. "Deal with it," she suggests with another partly full mouth. "You might be without your power now, but you have my reputation to live up to. You won't let me down, will you?" She arches an eyebrow expectantly.

The sudden shift to comraderie is so unexpected she lets out another huff of breath. "Of course not," Asi mutters to her other self, very quiet and very serious both. "We have a reputation, after all."

Clearing her throat, she rocks to her feet again and begins to ask, "«So. I assume you had actual questions you meant to ask. What were they?»"

Christ, she'd nearly forgotten. "«Right,»" Asi segues. "Right. I meant to ask you how you got to New York. Why you went. Silas said Kaito Nakamura had told you to go?»"

"Yes," her other self answers, suddenly awkward. That wasn't information she had expected to be socialized. She begins obsessing over the pointless organization of jars on the shelf in front of her. She's just finished rearranging all this only a few days ago, but here we are again, now. "«Kaito-san and I knew each other from before. He had insights that were helpful, the last of which being that the world as we knew it was about to end— and that I would find 'new purpose' again in New York after that happened. The latter part I had forgotten about until long-after Kyoto was razed. I— followed the Sentinel to Kobe before losing their trail, and eventually left from there to the Pelago.»"

Alone, Asi realizes. Her brow begins to furrow.

"«I never expected to go back, but Silas— he had a wild hair after he came home. So I had to show him the way.»" Now it's her turn to let her hand hang off the back of her neck, realising she's nearing something she can't get away with avoiding addressing.

"«Did you see your family at all when you were there?»"


Her eyes close to assist the even tone with which she explains, "«They're dead.» She focuses on the feel of the glass under her fingertips. "«The Sentinel.»"

"申し訳ない," Asi apologizes softly. "«On my end—»"

"Don't," her double harshes out in a warning tone. "Don't." It can't be compared, whatever the circumstance, and she doesn't want to know, besides. She's grateful for the silence that follows, even though it takes a second for her to breathe and her hackles to settle. She sighs out, "But yeah, that's how I'm here. Kaito gave me a key, and it was used to unlock the treasure box we found on his family residence. It all came full circle."

Asi only can sit there, brow still furrowed. She breathes out slowly from her own tension after being cut off, looking across the room absently. "«I see,» is all she can think to say at first.

"You?" she's asked in return, because it's only fair.

"«Silas called it 'fearful symmetry'. A Nakamura tasked me to come to New York to investigate a bombing that took place technically on Japanese land. The daughter, Kimiko.»" Asi pauses as she senses how her other self's brow furrows; feels the confusion flow. Daughter? She hesitates on noting that emotion, but only shakes her head to go on regardless. "«The Nakamuras here are all dead, for what it's worth.»"

The way the Nakamura family pieces don't line up is let go of in favor of present reality. "Well, on that point, things are the same as here, then," her double volunteers drolly.

"«And for what it's worth,»" Asi interjects over the top of both their previous thoughts, "The space after you come full circle can be the most rewarding. I hope you get the chance to explore it fully."

Solemning suddenly, she chews on the inside of her lip and feels a pang of longing. Sorrow. "Yeah, well…" Emotionally turbulent, she mutters, "We were working on something great over here." Both not wanting to have to explain, and also wanting it to be well-understood just what she's referring to, she focuses on several memories and pulls Asi's attention to them. "We went back to Japan, but not just there. An island off Alaska. We went to Hawaii. We went to— we were going to do so much. We were going to connect the world back together again, slowly but surely."

Her eyes close hard, her voice raw with her desire for the weight of what this world— what she— is losing to be felt. "I had this hope for better things. Snickers, he—" Her eyes flutter open with the need to overwrite what she's said. That's her name for him. No other version of her. Never. "Silas inspired us all, I think. And now we're all fucked and nothing matters, and you people are here to strip a dead world of the last bit of value it has," Asi's double shifts hard toward bitterness for what she's losing, owing to the end of the world.

It brings an undercurrent of alarm to Asi herself, sitting upright to try and salvage the conversation. "We're going to do everything we can to—"

There's no bringing things back around, though. Her eyes begin to narrow in false pensiveness. "You know," her other interjects disaffectedly, not even interested in hearing the end of whatever hollow promise was about to be made. "I'm sure you are. Good luck with that.

"Have a nice life, Tetsuzan, for whatever's left of it."

Asi's Quarters

The Bastion

It's positively jarring the way Asi is suddenly thrown from her Flood counterpart's perspective as the other woman ejected herself from reach, and then let the link to their host unravel entirely. She's lost for words, blinking once, then a second time.

"Fuck," she whispers, more frustrated than she thought she would be. It's followed quickly by embarrassment over her reaction. "Jesus fucking…"

Her elbows hit her knees, face in her hands as she swallows down the rest of the Avi-ism. Her fingertips pinch the bridge of her nose as she tries to shake off the disorientated dysphoria caused by the rollercoaster of emotions that just was all the way down to she's certain she's hung up on people exactly like that before. Instantly, her mind floods with a half-dozen things she should have brought up or asked, as minds tend to once the opportunity to do so is lost.

Asi takes in a deep breath and lifts her head again, centering herself and willing herself to move on. It's done. She can wish for things to have gone more smoothly than they just did, but at least her other self merely holds resentment over her better environment for facing the end of the world rather than… something worse. Something deadly, even.

She'll make proper peace with it eventually. For now, all she can do is sigh one last time:


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