Mission Accomplished


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Scene Title Mission Accomplished
Synopsis Marlowe and Monica discuss the ripples running through Yamagato in the wake of the attack.
Date May 7, 2018

Yamagato Park: Medical Facilities

It’s only been a week since the bombings that struck Yamagato Industries, but for most of the company employees the wounds are still too fresh. The medical facilities have been at capacity, no doubt stretching the abilities and energies of those who could help and those who needed to help.

For Marlowe, the week has been one in need of distraction from the grief and the hurt. She’s found it in work, and no amount of doctor’s orders has managed to keep her from it. As a main engineer for the company’s New York branch and project leader in their endeavors, she hasn’t taken a break in working on the Ghost Network, the company’s drone-based VoIP network plan to provide better communications to the Safe Zone. No, to America. Not to mention there’s the matter of the Tetsujin project, the construction robot whose prototype Saisho saved the life of its very creator the day of the tragedy. Hachiro Otomo clings to it still, silently, in the private room behind where Marlowe currently sits.

The glass is tinted down to near black in a privacy mode, letting the comatose man continue recovery in quiet. Out front in the common room of the private suite, Marlowe has cajoled her way into being allowed to work there when not at the office labs. She hadn’t gone to see Monica. Hadn’t gone to treat Foggy to his favorite crackers. After the incident at the Cresting Wave, her focus has been singularly on making sure the work gets done and that she’s there when it’s after hours so Hachiro has someone on watch.

The evidence of her presence there comes in the form of a neatly folded Japanese futon mattress, blanket and pillow next to the couch. Technically, she could have taken a bedroom in the spacious recovery suite, but there are boundaries to be respected. Ironically, she’s not taken very good care of her own injury. Her dislocated shoulder and stitched up arm would be weeks to recover, and several more to truly fully heal. Even then, there’d possibly be a scar from the long cut.

That, she insisted, would not happen. Nope nope nope.

But in the meantime, Marlowe doesn’t need to physically lift anything heavy. Her drones are designed digitally then produced by advanced 3D printer-esque machines. Same with the tetsujin robots. And so she’s currently found tinkering on one of the fabricated drone shells. But she seems distracted, distant, her small Phillips screwdriver tapping idly against the carbon fiber shell.

"I'm no expert," Monica says from the doorway, "but I'm pretty sure that's not how a screwdriver works." Who knows how long she's been standing there, watching Marlowe drifting off into her thoughts. But, the pair of coffees in her hands are still steaming, so not terribly long. "Working on AH/UN Jr?" She steps in now that she's announced herself and she comes over to offer one of the coffees out toward her. "One cream, five sugars," she declares, because she knows how her friend likes her coffee. Which is not to taste very much like coffee at all. Monica, on the other hand, still hasn't gotten the hang of fancy coffee and takes hers black.

"I thought I'd come by and see how you are. How Hachiro is." From her tone, she assumes both are not well.

Coffee smells not even managing to break her lack of concentration, surely a sign of the woman’s deep exhaustion, Marlowe twitches like she’d just been shaken awake. “Oh hey Moni,” she greets with a pull of her lip corners up and a wave of her screwdriver holding hand in. “A screwdriver is a very versatile tool… and percussive instrument when needed.” So she claims. Said tool waggles at the drone shell in question before Marlowe sets it down and accepts the coffee gratefully. “You’re practically Jiba,” she says teasingly with her friend’s knowledge of how she takes her coffee.

A foot pokes a spare chair out from the work desk she’s been using, easily sliding the furniture over polished flooring. Marlowe then resettles in her own seat, a sip of the hot drink stalling her reply. Monica does assume correctly, yet the engineer looks determined to ignore this by sheer stubbornness. “Hachiro’s a lover of life,” she says, “and I’m a fighter. And we both know how to work from the ground up…”

Thus far, Marlowe hasn’t really dared to look directly at Monica. But Monica can see the turbulence in the woman. She’s been shaken by the experience.

“Jiba feeds me tips,” Monica says, tapping her temple, a crooked smile on her face. She doesn’t need Jiba’s help for this, of course, but plenty of other things.

When the chair comes out, she sits, swinging one leg over the other. She doesn’t push for an answer, just sips her coffee and lets Marlowe come to it in her own time. “I have no doubt about that. The two of you together can do anything. Have you started designing his new, sweet robot leg?” A question designed to prod out Marlowe’s pride, jostling her back to herself.

The mention of Jiba feeding her tips gets a small smile out of Marlowe. “Really?” she murmurs, a thoughtful, verbal wondering. “I hope it’s all good things that he’s saying about me, ne, Jiba?” Her gaze goes up to the general air around them, a knowing glance shared.

Jiba’s smooth masculine voice chimes in with a polite acknowledgment, “«It is intrinsic to the way Hachiro programmed me, Marlowe.»”

Privately, though, Monica hears an additional tip out of Jiba in her mental connection when the A.I. anticipates, “«Marlowe Terrell has had approximately 4 hours, 28 minutes, 39 seconds of sleep including 2.4 REM cycles, in the past 48 hours.»” There’s a pause of quiet before Jiba adds, “«And, including this latest addition, 62 fluid ounces of coffee, not including additional measurements of creamer and sugar.»” After Marlowe takes another long sip, he amends, “«63 ounces.»”

The question about designing a new prosthetic does jostle Marlowe, but perhaps not in the way Monica intends. The engineer sets her cup of coffee down, her eyes that are on the AH/UN new prototype lifting her gaze up finally, but only to the YX Cestus limb on the woman seated opposite from her. The smile that was there fades. “I’ve been directed to continue with the Ghost Network development. The project announcement last Monday was intended to be a jump off point, to ‘tease the investors’ into loosening some pocket change…” She blinks again, eyes fighting back a wetness, jaw working, chewing on the emotions and swallowing them back down. No, it wouldn’t do to have a breakdown now. Not outside of Hachiro’s door.

Although clearly she might be wanting to break something.

Monica listens to Jiba's rundown of Marlowe's current state, her head nodding in acknowledgement. Or maybe to Marlowe's wonderings. But Jiba is familiar with Monica's need to sometimes communicate covertly. Like now.

Her head tilts as Marlowe reacts to her question, taking in the words, yes, but more so the threatening tears and the tightness in her muscles, in her jaw. The emotions nearly breaking the surface. "You're allowed to be upset," she says, which is a non sequitur for anyone following the conversation, but flows perfectly well from Monica's point of view. "You're supposed to be upset." Monica herself doesn't seem to be, for all that her words are sincere. "We just walked away from a near death experience. In a conference hall. Not in a war zone. At home. Some of us didn't walk away. You can funnel all that into work if you want, but I'm here. You can let a little of that out."

She may have put up a brave face like the rest of the company’s masses during Egami’s services. She may even try to put on a brave face now. But under a combination of the grief, stress, pain, sleep deprivation and a whole lot of coffee, the words from Monica tip it all over the edge. The permission to grieve, it seems, isn’t something anyone has said to her thus far. Or, rather, something she wanted to hear.

It starts with a single tear.

Soon, Marlowe is an utter mess of open weeping and shuddering sobs. She turns from Monica, having a vague sense of mortification underlining the episode that lasts for what seems like a long while, though in reality is but a minute or so. At least the suite is already set to privacy, so the moment of the breakdown is captured by none except Monica.

When eventually the breaths slow down to soft hiccups of gulped air, Marlowe sits there elbows on knees, hands and the summits of her cheekbones stained in mascara. “God damnit,” she whispers, angry for having lost the control she had so tightly wound, embarrassment flushing her skin with dark and hot. Then, she looks up to Monica, dark brown eyes rimmed in red and bloodshot veins of exhaustion. For the moment, Monica is the picture of poise and composure that Marlowe fights to get back in her own body.

It’s not a fight she manages to win, but the struggle continues.

“I don’t know if he’s going to wake up,” Marlowe says from behind her hand covering her lower face, eyes downcast again in dread and doubt. “I don’t know what… what I’m supposed to do if he… if he doesn’t…” She doesn’t finish the thought, not verbally. Her frame shakes with another wave of emotion. Her head shakes too, caught in the net and fighting to free herself.

When Marlowe starts to cry, when she turns away, Monica reaches over to put her hand on Marlowe's back. It's not quite a hug, but supportive all the same. And hoping to let her own that she doesn't need to be embarrassed. Monica herself is composed, though she has a sympathetic smile on her face.

"I don't know, either," she admits, her hand moving to squeeze Marlowe's shoulder. "But I don't believe that's how this will shake out. He'll come out of it. What was it you told me? We take care of our own, right? The doctors here will help him. And you will take care of his legacy until he's better. We all know he likes you the best and I know he wouldn't want anyone else messing with his projects."

Her head tilts a little and she falls quiet for a moment before she adds, "You're okay. It's okay. This is all just between us."

Nodding slowly to Monica’s supportive words, Marlowe takes a few deep, steadying breaths. Get a hold of yourself, Girl. One more shudder, a shake of her head, and she finally looks up at Monica, cheeks dribbled with black and eyes puffy, nothing like what she’d normally present herself with and none of the facade. This is the raw Marlowe like one of her material blocks she works with. A side few, if any, get to see.

A smile of thanks crosses her lips and glimmers wetly in her gaze. “Please, I’m not his…” Daughter, is the word that drops off as she reaches a hand up to dab her eyes dry. “What I am is a mess,” even she says as she manages to compose herself. “And, I do have some ideas about a prosthetic leg… But before, Hachiro would be able to digitize the model prototype with Jiba providing exploded cross-sectional viewpoints. I… I don’t have that power.” Her fingers try to wipe the mascara off her palms, though it makes the black marks smear a little more. “It’ll have to be done,” she says, her brow knitting with a look of somewhat troubled thoughts, “the ‘old fashioned’ way.”

Marlowe quiets after that, troubled thoughts lingering. When she speaks again, the woman has a different tone in her voice, one Monica surely recognizes as a cold knot of anger. “Did they figure out who that girl was?” she asks her friend. Having not exactly been connected or mindful of the world outside of Hachiro’s suite and the lab, she realizes she has some catchup to do in a different sense as well. Dark eyes peer up and over at the other woman. “God. I didn’t even ask… how are you?”

The raw Marlowe gets a gentle hug, one arm around her shoulders in a tight, but brief squeeze. Then Monica is back in her chair again, sipping her coffee and pretending like there was no breakdown at all for her friend's sake.

"You understand his work. And his way of thinking." No, not daughter. But something else. Monica chuckles as Marlowe goes on, though. "Yeah, but a hot mess," she says, giving her a crooked smile. It grows wider as Marlowe works her way around to the fact that they'll all be doing their work without powers for a little while. "Oh my god, tech sketches. Do you remember how?" she teases gently. But teasing falls away when the conversation turns back to the attack. "I haven't heard anything definitive. We're keeping in touch with Tokyo's team, as well, trying to figure all this out. We'll get there. It just takes time."

Monica's eyebrows lift, as if surprised. "Me? I'm fine. I was barely bruised."

She’ll remember later to thank Monica properly, somehow. As is Marlowe’s much more typical way to express thanks, be it via actions or some crazy gadget custom tailored for one thing or another all in the name of gratitude. It’s all part of the dance.

The bit of teasing brings out some more of that pride Monica originally aimed for, because it gets a soft scoff from the engineer. “Damn right I do. Some of the guys here wouldn’t know what to do with layered drawings if I passed it to them, hard copy. I’ll do it with chalk and a blackboard if I have to,” she says in a quiet but fierce whisper around her mug of coffee.

The note that things take time is a reminder she needs to hear. Closing her eyes briefly, Marlowe sighs into her cup. “Yeah,” she says after she opens her reddened but calmer eyes, shifting her gaze up to Monica. “And when we find whoever’s responsible? It will be their biggest mistake. They say ‘Payback’s a bitch’, right? Her name’s going to be Marlowe.” Her mug of coffee lifts up for a far too dainty sip, a quick beat as she regards Monica’s face, her robotic arm, the woman on the whole. “Her middle name can be Monica.”

And noted with the surprise is Marlowe’s second wind, the woman standing up to cross back to a small bank of monitors set up beside the workspace desk, watching the rotating views of the twin drones she’s been working on in the interim. With a quick tap of her tablet screen, it switches to a model of a prosthetic leg and foot, one suited for a more traditional attachment with braces and straps. Marlowe steps aside to Vanna White the prototype to Monica. “What do you think? Of course it’s embarrassingly nothing near the Cestus. But, seeing as you’re the one working it, I’d love to hear what you think.”

"I'm sure we can find you some dry erase markers, at the very least." Smart board, maybe. Something better than chalk and a blackboard. Monica sips at her coffee, eyebrows raising as Marlowe muses on the nature of revenge. "Oh, I'm just the middle name, huh?" That part's a tease. But she turns more serious after a moment. "Marlowe. Whoever did this? They're going to get caught and stand trial. I know that's not as much fun as going full Liam Neeson, but this wasn't just some random incident. People who do this are willing to do anything. We need to be focused on protecting our people, not vengeance. Your projects will be invaluable to that protection."

When she gets up and starts to go again, Monica watches, but doesn't join her until the prototype shows up. She even sets her coffee aside.

"We wouldn't want to throw something like the Cestus on anyone until we're sure all the bugs are worked out anyway," she says, ignoring the fact that it is on someone right now. She studies the model, as much as she can understand of it with her practical knowledge, rather than any formal education or talent. "It's elegant. Quick to manufacture, yeah? He might not need very much adjustment time if we have it ready when he needs it. You should make it fun. Different color casing. Something he could design himself, if he wanted. Oh my god, storage space."

Or, she might use the chalk and blackboard as a point. But Marlowe has filed that notion away for now, to come up later when the other engineers are arguing about some project or other no doubt.

Monica’s reminder about needing to protect people rather than get revenge draws an uncertain grimace from the other woman. The look on Marlowe’s face, one side of it twisted up with that ‘Buuut Monicaaa’ expression, relents to the cybernetic woman’s common sense. So that’s when she turns to one of those projects - the leg prototype - to show the other robot-limbed woman.

The displayed model stops rotating as Marlowe seems to drag the picture from the screen into a display in the very air between her and Monica. It’s still a thing of wonder for many people, no doubt, and for people like Marlowe, also a little reminder in the back of the mind exactly how much Yamagato has built. By the man whose life (and now possibly limb) depend on it.

The mention of making the prosthetic fun, though, shifts Marlowe’s thoughtful look to a smile more like the woman’s normal manner. “Maybe instead of the Skywalker hand, it can be the Skywalker leg,” her tone suggests with a returned humor. Storage space, though. The miniature Death Star model in Hachiro’s office, the first ‘hey boss’ gift she’d brought him those years ago, had it too. Tapping a finger on her cheek, Marlowe reaches out to the middle space of the HUD and with a few finger gestures, pulls the model leg apart at the joints into the lower calf section and the foot itself. “I had been thinking of where to put the movement mechanisms - they’d naturally want to be in where the calf muscles are. But. Maybe if…” And there she goes, muttering to herself under her breath as she fiddles. Tinkers. One thing she does, though, is change the display of the limb color so that it’s a sleek looking black and silver rather than a skin colored item.

“Red and gold too ostentatious?” she wonders aloud, “Maybe.” Or maybe not.

Monica seems to have acclimated to the wonders at work around them here at Yamagato. So much so that she barely notes the display hanging in the air. At least, not with any difference from how she was looking at it on the screen.

"Someone in Star Wars had to have lost a leg," Monica says, moments before she puts her mind to it and notes, "Oh! Darth Maul. Fancy new legs." She watches Marlowe work, her head tilted a little. The schematic is cool, of course, but her attention is on the woman herself moreso. Tinkering, thoughtful, mind on something positive and productive, rather than destructive. Her fingers slide over the surface of her prosthetic, her expression darkening somewhat.

If anyone around here was going to be destructive, it would be her. Not Marlowe. Not with her talent and her mind.

She shakes off the expression, though, and tilts her head in the other direction. "Red's good in Japan, right? Plus, the Iron Man factor." These are points in favor of ostentation.

“Maul was a psychopath, and he killed my favorite not-couple,” Marlowe says with a wrinkled pursing of her lips, again tapping of her fingers on her cheek as she eyes the leg. “But I do see your point. His legs were bad ass. As was his makeup designer. Because damn.” On the whimsical note, she turns back to Monica, missing the darkened expression, and with a couple taps of the display turns it so the black and silver gets reskinned into red and gold, just like Ironman’s suit.

The displayed limb hanging in the air follows Marlowe as she moves back to her chair and sits, looking from her mug of coffee back to the other woman. She flashes a small smile, tempered by a return of deeper thoughts. “You’ll keep me updated with what’s going on, right? Out there?” The awareness that she’s shut herself away apparent, she picks up her coffee to take a long sip and leans back into her chair, the exhaustion in the aftermath of having a cathartic bout of crying also showing. “Tell Foggy I’m sorry I haven’t been by, and all that?” She’d already told Jiba not to alert her when the parrot called for crackers, which was a sign of things being serious.

“And I have to go talk to Leroy about the drone program, maybe some kind of programming he can come up with to uplink a leg.” She sighs and leans back, eyes closing as she does. And while she doesn’t mean to be a rude hostess, eventually it’s clear that Marlowe’s dozed off in the chair in spite of the caffeine in her.

"But Hachiro isn't a psychopath, so it'll be okay." See, Marlowe, she's thought it all out. "But if Obi-Wan shows up, we'll have to take the leg back, just to be sure." Monica looks over at her friend, smirking a little. It's her favorite not-couple, too. She doesn't move to sit again when Marlowe does, but she comes over to the little workstation. "I will. Whenever I get updated, you'll get updated." When she mentions Foggy, Monica's smile turns more gentle. "Just make sure you bring a lot of crackers next time you come by, he'll forgive you."

Monica doesn't speak up again, though, just listens and watches as Marlowe winds up her last stray thoughts, as the exhaustion sets in. Once she dozes off, Monica picks up her phone, flicking the switch to silent and setting it on the other side of the room. Chairs are moved, the futon pulled out, pillows in place. Monica is as careful as she can be when she eventually picks Marlowe up and puts her down there, trusting those many sleepless hours to keep her asleep now.

"Alright, Jiba," she says once Marlowe is tucked in, "Mission accomplished."

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