Living In Interesting Times


eizen_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Living in Interesting Times
Synopsis Eizen Erizawa calls on a seer for a security consultation.
Date April 23, 2018

Yamagato Building

The lobby of the Yamagato Building is a bright and spacious structure, with plenty of natural sunlight filtering through the glass walls in the morning hours. Tall stands of bamboo grow up in well manicured, miniature forests from rectangular planters flush with the gray tiled floor. Cascading tiers of white stairs spiral up and around the lobby like a double helix, reaching internal tiers of additional floors where birds flit from indoor trees, their songs carrying into the air.

Eizen Erizawa is a sleek silhouette of subdued blue and red against the building’s otherwise neutral canvas. Leaning up against one white column near the front doors, he casually checks his mobile device, waiting for the arrival of his morning consultation appointment. It isn’t so much an important security issue he addresses on his mobile, so much as it is a color-matching puzzle game at such a high difficulty level that his thumb flicks left to right through the color blocks with a steady rhythm, eyes too darting back and forth to consider the puzzles as they take shape.

It's a woman dressed for business that approaches the Yamagato Building, white pants and shirt under a navy-blue blazer and above equally dark-toned flats. Bronze glitters at her throat, next to blue stone; silver and white on her left hand. Her hair is loose, its blond length distinctive in the Park's environs; there is nothing professional about the bright and cheerful smile cast Eizen's way through glass door.

The seer doesn't need to guess on what the security chief has so fixated his attention.

Her steps are quiet as she walks through the door; her gaze flicks briefly to one of the space's discreetly placed cameras, which she gives a smaller, softer smile. But it's to Eizen that her attention returns, and in front of him that Tamara stops. "Good morning, Mr. Erizawa."

Tucking away his mobile, Eizen leans away from the column he'd been resting at and meets Tamara with long-legged strides. He's quick to offer a handshake, even quicker to motion to one of the spacious, glass sculpture lined halls. “I'm glad you could make it, Ms. Brooks. If you wouldn't mind accompanying me, there's a…” he suddenly dithers, turning to look at Tamara. “You know what?” She does. “Let's go upstairs. One of the sun parks is much more comfortable than a stuffy conference room.”

Eizen about-faces, motioning to one of the zig-zagging staircases instead and allowing Tamara to take the lead. “I've been looking forward to this meeting for a while, I've heard quite a lot about your business and you have a… somewhat colorful personal background.” He had to do his due diligence. “I'm glad to see you've made such a strong name for yourself,” implies past tragedies impersonally listed as deceased in transcripts and familial records.

There's no hesitation in completing Eizen's handshake, and only a good-natured grin as the security chief changes his mind about their destination. She hadn't even started in the first direction indicated; does proceed in the second, leading the way up the stairs without any evident question as to where a 'sun park' might be found. But then, it's not where she's been before that matters here.

"Somewhat colorful," Tamara echoes amiably. "Colette would say I'm very colorful." She fails to indicate whether she considers that good or bad, and leaves it to Eizen to make what he will of the word's intended meaning.

Blue eyes flick to Eizen after his last words, the mind behind them filling in implication by way of the many, many questions she doesn't ask, but could. "You might imagine, it's natural for my focus to turn forward." She presents no sensitivity in tone or manner, no defensiveness despite the potentially personal nature of subjects touched upon.

"Is there something particular you're looking forward to?" Tamara asks curiously, giving him an inquiring look.

“Colette?” Eizen asks, as if he weren’t fully aware. It’s a politeness, after a fashion. “Ah, yes, your partner. I imagine she may have a particular perspective on color, wouldn’t she?” Conversational, but also informative of personal knowledge. Eizen follows just two steps behind Tamara as they ascend one half tier, then switchback up to the top. There, the ground isn’t flat, but rather swells and rolls like a gentle hill. Appropriately, the hill is covered with an immaculately manicured grass and live trees, willowy and thin with dark green leaves. Some of them are fig trees, others are carolina ash with their almond-shaped leaves.

Sunlight spills through the hanging photovoltaic curtains that shield the glass walls from direct sunlight. It instead creates a lambent glow made somewhat dream-like by the way sunlight phosphoresces off of the gas in the air. “By all means, pull up some grass or take a seat at one of the trees. I think you’ll find the space liberating and comfortable.” Though Eizen is quick to navigate to talk of business even as Tamara finds her space, and he follows at her heel.

“My objective in this meeting is to consult with you about alternative security measures. We have a robust digital security system here at Yamagato. Infrared sensors, facial recognition, a host of advanced technological security redundancies…” he breathes in deeply and exhales a sigh. “But even with myself and Mr. Mott, we are not a comprehensive net by which to prevent the more…” he gestures in the air, fishing for the right word in English. “The unconventional.

“As a precognitive, I was hoping you might be able to provide insights into how to protect against emerging threats from unconventional means. Phasing, shapeshifting, teleportation.” Eizen smiles faintly. “Precognitives.” He looks down to the ground, then around to the floor and up to the curtains beyond the glass walls. “Though that is a… somewhat broad question, I understand.”

Tamara casts a quicksilver smile over one shoulder as Eizen plays at diffidence. "She does," the blonde agrees as they pass from synthetic stairs to artificial hill. In someone else, the setting might evoke unpleasant associations; here and now the seer simply appreciates its charm, pausing to finger the pinnate leaves of an ash and glimpse little birds flit from branch to branch higher up. It is a moment worth savoring, because all too soon, the moment is gone.

At Eizen's invitation, she settles herself beneath the very same tree, back to its trunk, legs stretched out before her, and never mind that white might pick up grass stains. Bleach exists for a reason. There is a reserve in the woman's expression now, as Eizen steers the conversation into business matters, an opacity lurking beneath natural affability.

She does not like the question he's settled on, not one bit. But she does not preempt his speaking, lets him finish what riddle he's chosen to pose.

She does not speak immediately after, either. Tamara tilts her head back to lean against the tree's crackled bark, peering up towards sun-dappled leaves and the haze that seems to cling to them. "It is," she says at last, tone shaded faintly, "almost the broadest of questions, yet wanting the most specific of answers." Blue eyes close, and the seer spends another breath, two, weighing the balance of probability — not as relates to the question, but for herself.

"If they all did the same things, they would be conventions," Tamara points out, looking over at Eizen with eyes gone dark in literal sense. "I can find things that may happen, tell you what may help then. But the tapestry is always changing; those threads may be dropped, others come to the surface. Others that don't have the same answers."

"Even a few are needles in very large haystacks; it is not a small question." Silence then, expectant, a moment given for the security chief to consider reconsidering.

The small noise Eizen makes in the back of his throat is an assessing one, as though remarking on the type of answer given rather than the answer itself. Conversational paths branch away, lead the security chief down an entirely different path than the one considered most likely a moment ago. “I apologize if that was a bit broad. All precognitives are notably different, and there isn’t exactly a comprehensive breakdown of your capabilities available to us, or… I presume anyone.”

Eizen comes to settle down on the grass beside Tamara, folding his legs and resting his hands in his lap. “I suppose the follow up inquiry would be to put the onus more on yourself, if that isn't too presumptuous of me?” Eizen flashes a smile, one that is also subtly nervous. Tamara has seen it before, as not everyone is completely comfortable with the prospects of her ability. Even if considered in the margins of what it might be.

“How best could Yamagato Industries make use of your gift?” Eizen raises one brow at that inquiry. “You, more than anyone, should know best. It's our model to allow talented people to guide their own path and manage their own skills. Subject matter experts as they are, after all.”

Tamara smiles ruefully as Eizen resumes speaking. There is a moment where she considers the subject he's raised, the implicit query behind it… a moment that passes quickly. "No," she states, simple and brief, confirmation — though only within the narrow confines of Eizen's assumptions. But it's true the information is not precisely available, and some was deliberately muddled.

There's a stretch of quiet after Eizen poses his new question, the seer's gaze turning towards the distance, observing the play of light through prismatic fog. There is no evidence of discontent on her part, at least, with this query — only the sense that she is giving it due consideration as her eyes trace the upward stretch of walls, the vault of the ceiling.

This isn't precisely easy to answer either, for different reasons. Extolling her capabilities will not in fact make the security chief rest easier. But some degree of explanation is appropriate to guide their interaction.

"Choices. Consequences. The play of interwoven threads," Tamara says at last, outwards attention returning to Eizen. "The more focused the question, or the nearer its relevance, the easier to answer. Farther out, broader subjects… those become hard. Maybe impossible, or impossible to make meaningful." An open-palmed gesture implies the security chief's prior query. "Spread the net wide enough, and almost anything can be."

A momentary pause. "It is… difficult to define more than that," the seer concludes, tone hinting at apology. "Some things seem broad, but can still be answered. Others seem easy, but only from the outside."

“So…” Eizen laces his fingers together in his lap, looking down at the grass in a moment of contemplation. “It’s like being near-sighted, in a way?” His head tilts to the side. “All of the things up close — in one instance physically, in the other temporally — are clearer. But the further away you get,” he unlaces his fingers and extends one arm in front of himself with fingers spread, “the blurrier the picture becomes.” The nod that follows bobs along with his thoughts on the matter.

“I suppose that makes for difficulty in long-term planning,” Eizen admits with a crease of his brows. “Distant security threats, being able to predict problems long before they arise, are the Holy Grail of my line of work. But being able to circumnavigate the…” he weaves that hand he extended like a fish through water, “the… differing currents? That is still a useful tool, obviously. Though one that requires a precise target. The unknowable must be, at least, vaguely quantified?”

Eizen raises one brow, looking to Tamara to see if he’s at least in the ballpark of the right answer on how to understand her ability.

Tamara contemplates Eizen in much the same way he contemplates her own words — pensively, figurative gears obviously winding behind blue gaze. If truth were to be told, the seer despises these conversations, the attempt to bridge what she comprehends intuitively and symbolically with the linear, quantized mode of understanding nearly all the rest of the world operates by. Even worse is translating what they say into something she grasps, when the meaning is this specific, this precise.

There's always something lost in that translation. Always.

"…Not blurry," Tamara corrects after a long pause. "But… your threats, they have their own pieces on their own board, their own decisions to make. Next year, next month, next week… they have not committed, and what is not chosen can be discarded, changed. Many do change. If I say now it is most likely to be the teleporter, but they call in a phaser instead — or do nothing at all — I have not actually helped you."

There's a look in Eizen’s eyes when teleporter and phaser are raised. A more serious demeanor dawns on the chief of security, and he unfolds his hands, bringing them to rest on his knees as he leans forward, cross-legged on the grass.

“These are very specific examples,” Eizen insinuates, “have you seen something? Or— have you seen the possibility of something?” Fishing for the likely in a sea of maybes is challenging, and Eizen imagines that is doubly true for the seer herself. “Any specifics you might have… no matter how insignificant seeming,” and in that he reveals his ignorance of how Tamara sees significance, “could save lives.”

Tamara regards Eizen sidelong as he leans forward, considering what he asks, what she herself just tried to convey, the abyssal crevasse in between.

"You ask that," she says quietly, allows quietly, "like seeing is a sometimes thing."

She leans back once more, closes her eyes, draws in a breath. Lets it out again. "You hope to build a wall, a shell, a barrier to keep all harm away. It is a Holy Grail — a horizon ever receding. There is no wall that cannot be breached, because even as you build, others seek just as much to tear it down. If they didn't," she says with a quiet sigh, a sympathetic look, a rueful half-smile, "we would not be necessary."

Tamara closes her eyes again, continues. "I do not need to tell you that bringing everyone together creates opportunity — but I will, because what you do not know is that they do. They have not decided what to do with the knowing; when they do, if they do, it will be in a rush of dominoes falling: you will not have time to prevent."

A pause, a breath, a slight ebb in the line of her shoulders. "There are no silver bullets here. I will not be there then, and any specific advice from now may be as wrong as it is not, cost as many as it may otherwise have saved. What I can tell you is to watch, to be aware, to act and not merely react."

"When they go, they are gone," she concludes, eyes still closed. "See to your own; save the chase for later. Because there will be later."

Eizen isn’t sure what he was hoping for with this encounter, and the ominous portents that feel torn from the pages of a Shakespearean play sit ill at ease with him. Awkwardly shifting in his spot on the grass, Eizen looks up to Tamara with tempered frustration. It isn’t in her, so much as it’s in his own inability to leverage the resource sitting just outside of arm’s reach.

“So… an extant threat, looming.” Eizen looks away, down to his lap. “I’m familiar with the concept you’re trying to convey, not… preventative measures, but also not reactionary. I suppose it isn’t what everyone imagines when they think of seers. Everyone wants an easy road to the future, clear of disturbances.” His expression takes on a somewhat rueful quality. “I suppose that’s the dream, but the reality is…” he searches for a word. “How did you say it? There’s no silver bullet?

Eizen’s smile takes on a more reserved and measured quality. Smiling just so, but never finding the joy in it. “I suppose I can take some measure of relief in knowing that we’re not dealing with a werewolf,” is his attempt at a bit of light-hearted humor in the face of this revelation. “But, does our antagonist have an identity? One you can visualize.”

Eizen's evident frustration is met with sympathetic apology from the seer. Tamara imagines, inasmuch as she imagines at all, that it can't be any easier for him than it is for her — though at least she is habituated to letting events develop in their own time. Including the progression of their interaction.

"Dreams give people things to strive for," she remarks. "But an easy road…" Tamara closes her eyes, breathes deeply, says nothing else — just lifts one shoulder in a shrug.

Her gaze sharpens then, not at Eizen's humor, but at his question. This is met with another quicksilver smile, the bright cheer of the woman who admired the birds rather than seer's somber gravity: the question is definitively better. Still, it too is given a moment's thought, but briefer, the pause more suggestive of considering notes than struggling to compose an answer.

It's still vague enough that she has to decide which identity to provide.

In the end, Tamara's response is a single, declarative word: "Praxis."

The color drains from Eizen’s face. It isn’t that the concept is a surprise, so much as the level of threat it exemplifies, and coming on the heels of a strike against some of their own. Eyes now wandering the air as if seeing something that isn't there, Eizen presses his hands to his knees and unfolds his lanky frame into a standing position.

“Were this a Zener Cards test,” Eizen grimaces, “you would have just passed with flying colors. You've lined up enough pieces to alarm me, in a way that is decidedly close to the line of comfort. But I suppose when you ask a seer to explain calamity, you should not expect a peaceful answer.”

Politely, Eizen offers a hand down to Tamara to help her up. It feels as though her revelation, her confirmation, sets up enough pieces to have Eizen on edge about prospective events. The mention of a teleporter, of gatherings, of Praxis. It's emblematic of so many known warnings.

“This has been… harrowing, and enlightening.” Taxing and confusing as well, but Eizen would prefer the tenure of her services today end on a high note. Or as high as can be managed.

Tamara looks on as her answer sinks claws into Eizen, as he processes it, and as he returns his attention to the present moment. She waits for and accepts the offered hand, gives him a lopsided, sympathetic smile. "Cards," the seer remarks ruefully, "are much easier." In more ways than one.

She pauses to look around the sun park, though in truth hardly sees its artificial landscape at all. "You would not thank me for the comfortable answer," Tamara says at last, giving him a sidelong look and another crooked smile. "It is not who you are, not the path you pursue."

"But if you want to play with cards sometime," the woman continues, that smile straightening out, restored cheer stopping just short of mischief, "I won't mind coming back for that at all."

The smile Eizen gives in return is honest, if tempered by the new worries storming in the back of his mind. “I suppose you’re right… ah, that I wouldn’t be satisfied with any other answer. In so much as I am satisfied with this one,” is just a touch wry. “But, you’ve given me — and likely my entire team — a considerable amount of things to think about over the coming weeks.”

Eizen regards the landscape in a reflective manner, not in so much as he would view it himself, but trying to imagine how it is Tamara sees it. His smile dims, some, but it gradually returns as he looks back to Tamara and begins to lead her back to the stairs they’d first come up from. “I have a feeling this won’t be your last consultation with us, though I certainly hope that the next time is under less strenuous circumstances.” He pauses, looking over his shoulder.

“But I do fear we may be living in interesting times.”

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