ʎɹoɯǝW uǝppᴉH


asi4_icon.gif dana_icon.gif delilah3_icon.gif elliot_icon.gif wright_icon.gif zachery2_icon.gif

Scene Title ʎɹoɯǝW uǝppᴉH
Synopsis Asi approaches Elliot to ask that they repeat a memory-indexing exercise they've tried before, but this time using mind-altering drugs. In the process of getting LSD produced safely by Yi-Min Yeh, Raytech associates and their SESA observer are made aware of and observe the experiment as well.

And this time? This time things go differently.
Date January 29, 2021

1/24/2021 10:15 am
do you remember when we tried digging into my memories before?
we need to try harder.
i'm off work for a while. would you be willing to come meet me so we could try again?

Raytech Industries Campus

January 29

6:50 pm

In some ways, this feels oddly familiar. Deja vu.

The basement lab in Raytech; after hours. Again.

This was not where Asi envisioned this request to Elliot would end up, and it manifests in the nervous, repetitive bounce of her right heel on the ground— one she can't even feel— and the tight fold of her arms, thumb worrying into the pad of palm between her index and middle finger. She looks over the lab space, one with several monitoring machines set up to track the progress of this journey they're about to embark on, one filled with bodies numbering more than just her and Elliot's own.

No, they were being minded, because this technically ventured into unsanctioned science area yet again. She rubs her hand along the side of her neck as she realizes the truth of it, as private as she wished for this to be.

Okay. Okay, fine, this was how they were going to handle this. It'll surely be fine, between safely-concocted drugs, and medical professionals on hand, with a Raytech-based paramedic on call at the press of a button.

Surely, Asi thinks to herself wryly, even Mr. Stanley is likely roaming the halls if they need janitorial assistance later.

She exhales hard and leans against the cane that serves as a third leg when her right decides to function only fractionally. "On a positive note," because they surely needed those now. "If this works, maybe Thatcher can finally get the answers she's been looking for, too."

Elliot contains the background hum of anxiety he feels being here. Unsanctioned science in a brutalist underground laboratory owned by Richard Ray certainly touches a nerve. Being the person performing the experiment is a strange juxtaposition.

“Answers are the goal. Though,” he pauses. He’s already given Asi the rundown. They’ve been here before. He doesn’t want to add any negativity to what’s obviously already a stressful situation. “Maybe we’ve just been asking the wrong questions.”

“It’s been a while since I did this with supervision,” he admits. “Might as well get comfortable.”

Normally, this sort of thing wouldn't be something Delilah attends; but being as she works underneath of Dr. Yeh and has very personal experience with hallucinogenic and mind-altering drugs— her presence is more for notations, assistance, and a set of eyes. Dee's work is entirely disconnected from whatever this testing is actually for, so largely she has tried to purposefully keep herself in partial dark.

Whatever the details are, she doesn't need; what she does know is the basics, and that this testing is just one more way to try and fix things. Pencil skirt and buttoned blouse keeps Lilah more unobtrusive, though the unmistakable red of her long hair does enough to set her apart, noticeable quite quickly as she sweeps into the lab on the dot, a tablet under her arm.

"Oh," On seeing Elliot, Delilah's brown eyes widen momentarily in surprise. "Can't say that I expected you here. Not that I expect… people… to want to do shit like this—" An awkward laugh later, she's looking for a metaphorical exit and finds it briefly in the screen of her work pad. Yes, yes, reading, don't pay her mind.

Though he has been here a while, Dr. Zachery Miller has not said much. He pops back into view, dragging himself upright where he's been seated in front of several monitors on a little island of lab counters just off to the side. With all the enthusiasm of fresh roadkill, he punches in a few keystrokes on one the keyboards in front of him, and breathes out a slow sigh.

The image of a willing participant he is not. Delilah gets a nod of her head in greeting, before he sinks right back into tending to readings rather than people. "Here we go again," is all he grates, to no one in particular.

Here we go again, Asi agrees in silence.

But she looks up to Elliot with a more optimistic glance. "Yeah," she agrees. "Might as well get comfortable." Making her way to the tray-table by the machines Zachery mans, Asi snips the appropriate monitors to her fingers, settles a nest of electrodes to her head, and resigns herself to getting as comfortable as she's going to get. She leaves the cane she's been using leaning against the table. With her free hand, she picks up the laced tab and then settles back into one of the giant bean bag chairs she remembers from the last time they did illicit drugs in the basement.

God, she hopes this goes better than last time.

Asi lets the tab dissolve on her tongue, then braces her feet against the ground to offer Elliot both her hands palms up, sitting upright. "This time," she posits, "We've got a datapoint to chase: The girl in red. Asuko. I remembered a conversation involving her that… I've just never had. When I came to the US and met the woman who would have been her mother, Kam Nisatta, I told her something similar to what I heard myself saying then. But…"

She shakes her head, hands still upraised. "You'll see soon enough," she asserts quietly, then closes her eyes. She hopes to get through walking through Elliot both through her real memory of meeting Kay Damaris and Kam Nisatta on a tarmac and through the subsequent crooked nail of a memory from when she began to seize before the drugs hit.

According to plenty of studies on the type of tasteless, odorless, colorless drug she just ingested— they should have more than enough time for that.

“Sorry!” Comes from the doorway, a clipped apology from a short-haired woman clutching a laptop and other equipment to her chest. “So sorry!” Agent Dana Carrington exclaims as she shoulders open the door, followed by two white-jacketed lab technicians in their mid-to-late twenties.

“I had to round up our partners,” Dana expresses as she comes down a few short steps into the basement lab, setting her laptop down on a nearby table while she brings a very old looking and boxy device about the size of an inkjet printer over to the group around Asi. The lab technicians that followed her go about setting up the laptop while another pulls out a spiral-bound notepad and sits on a nearby stool.

“Hey. Hi!” Dana says to Elliot, leaning in with a broad smile and waggling one hand like a flipper while she holds the wood-grain encased device in both hands. “I’m Agent Carrington with SESA, technical liaison to Raytech. These are Raytech’s technical observers from the Department of the Exterior.” She says with a jerk of her head over to the lab techs.

“Asi?” Dana says with a quirk of her brow, hooking her ankle around a small, wheeled table to drag over to where Asi is. “Do you mind terribly if I put a couple of adhesive electrodes on your head?” As Dana is asking that she sets down the wood-grain boxed device she’s been carrying, revealing a brushed metal faceplate with knobs and dials—all analogue—and three thin wires dangling out from it ending with white padded adhesive electrodes.

A stenciled logo on the front of the device reads BIOSONE II, BRAINWAVE MONITOR in block print.

“I had the bright idea to try low-fi,” Dana says with a pump of her eyebrows. Dana Carrington loves unsanctioned science.

Elliot seemed to have been settling into the mental space for establishing the link when unexpected guests arrived. He’s slightly off his footing now, reeling at the sudden, all-encompassing nature of governmental oversight this experiment has. He barely stops himself from reaching forward to shake Dana’s hand before it turns into that enthusiastic wave.

He’s saved from responding to the greeting by Wright pinging from the hallway. He leaves Asi to interact with Dana and brings his attention to the door as it opens. As if he’s surprised there are more visitors.

Wright enters in her motorcycle jacket, running her hand through hair tousled by her helmet. Overclocking Elliot’s cognition for this project is almost a secondary consideration to keeping the linked pair in the range of medical oversight should the chemical component of tonight’s entertainment exhibit unanticipated interactions with the network. She smiles and raises a hand in greeting to Asi, then another to Delilah.

While Asi takes a comfortable place and Dana comes flapping in, Delilah is letting down her bag and setting her tablet folded out on its cover, keyboard in-waiting. She seems fine to remain offside watching the trickle of visitors, though 'Department of the Exterior' certainly gets a wary look from herself to the techs. There are a lot more technicians here than not— which, she supposes, is actually one more reason she's here. To be the responsible one.

Dee lets out a sigh, stepping over to help in the setup of any more AV equipment; Wright's arrival has her smiling in greeting, hands busied with cabling.

"Hey there good-lookin', how've you been?" She has a passing understanding of the connections formed from Elliot, thanks to socialization and briefing information; Dee is therefore not surprised to see one more Responsible Party in the mix, science notwithstanding. Looking over her shoulder, the redhead pauses in her task. "Oy, Dana, any special settings you want for this camera? You said something about avoiding interference, so…"

There is a groan from over by the monitors, certainly not from Zachery, and certainly also not in response to either the mention of SESA or the Department of the Exterior.

"Dana," Asi asks calmly, leaning forward to her a little with a placating smile. "Are you sure it's not too late to bring you over to the dark side, where we don't inform multiple governmental agencies someone's diving into a personal, preferably private matter?"

Dana stares at Asi for a moment, then just says, “They’re here to help!” with an excited smile.

Only then does Asi look to the equipment that the agent has brought with her, beginning to furrow her brow. As ever, there's the urge to reach out with senses that aren't hers to command. She sates the need anyway by placing a hand on the decidedly old-tech device that stands so in contrast to the comparatively space-age brainwave-reading cap she already has on. "Um… sure, if you can find some space," she allows, peering at the pads. There's only three, so that can't be too bad. Right?

"Just…" Asi tries patience on for size, along with continued pleasantness, papering over her anxieties with an easier-to-deal-with front. "Can we do it quickly? Elliot and I still need to sync before the, um…" She glances briefly at the other techs who've come in, and then to Wright. The appearance of a familiar face among the unsanctioned helps her dial back the tension in her before she looks to Dana again. "The stuff kicks in."

“Oh sure, sure, I’m really quick about this stuff.” Dana says, affixing the electrodes to Asi’s temples and one to her forehead. “This is a really old analog-model EEG.” One of the lab technicians brings over a pair of over-ear headphones which Dana hooks around her neck for the time being. “It pulls everything out as audio waves rather than a line graph. I’m listening for patterns, mostly. I have a theory, but I’m going to hold off on it. I want to see what your brainwave patterns do under the influence like this.”

Pulling up a wheeled chair, Dana sits down in it and spins halfway around—partially wrapping herself up in her headphone cord—and stops so to face Delilah. “Yeah make sure you attach the thermal spectrometer lenses and remove the lens caps. I want to see temperature changes while she’s under psychotelepathic strain!” There’s a little gleam in her eyes.

“Oh, and make sure you get Doctor Miller in frame too. He can be our control subject for temperature.” Dana adds, clearly talking to Delilah but looking at Asi. “Ok I think I’m all set,” Dana notes, affording a quick glance to Wright before pulling the headphones on. “Oh yeah your brain is a click-tick-tickin’!”

Wright sends Elliot a look of commiseration at the unannounced expansions to the roster. For something that basically started as, Any chance you can make LSD, this is beginning to look like a professional, carefully planned event. She gives Asi an encouraging smile as she slides a chair across the room to Elliot and drags one over for herself.

The two sit beside Asi within arm’s length. Elliot returns to preparing himself for the rigors of indexing while Wright cracks her neck and rolls her shoulders. Elliot and Asi have been at this before, she knows the drill. Less frequent is the presence of Wright for the event, though Delilah has been witness to what they can accomplish together.

“Okay,” Elliot says. He’s not one to exposit, but with so many lookers-on he feels the need to nip a few of the more obvious questions in the bud. “Wright’s already linked in today,” he gives the usual half-truth, “So we get to overclock the indexing process. Fewer search keys, but otherwise the process is the same. Call and response, no wrong answers. We’ll get to the pertinent questions once you’re in. With Wright providing cognition we’ll be able to dig a little faster than normal.”

They reach out to Asi and each other, forming a circuit between them. Wright’s eyes flutter closed, Elliot relaxes. He waits for Asi’s permission to begin. She gives him a nod after flattening her palms more comfortably against his.

“Firewall,” Elliot says.

Asi doesn't have a countersign at first, only taking in a sharp breath at the first memory that comes to mind. It brings up a visceral feeling rather than a word as she recalls leaving her sense of self to fall into the workings of a mainframe, and it takes her a moment to wind her way to the heart of that moment and summarize it in a single word. "銀行," she replies faintly on the edge of a laugh. As the link starts to form, he knows the word. Bank.

“Aerial,” he continues.

"Fukushima," she replies, her eyes not her own eyes in the memory. So many drones at once, looking over a shoreline that combined seemed as though it should belong to some third-world island nation. Smoke rises in the distance from multiple sources— some black, and a thicker, larger plume of white from a cluster of still-standing buildings. The power plant.


"Elbow," Asi answers, remembering the moment she sat before a veteran, his arm bending slowly in a test of the prosthetic attached to the stump of his bicep. She recalls the subtle awe on his face as he lifts his new hand, and with some effort, curls the false fingers on it into his palm. Both she and he are moved, and it's hard to tell who's going to tear up first.

She exhales as she feels very clearly the doorway between her and Elliot make itself present, one she approaches and opens with practiced grace. When she opens her eyes again, she seeks out his with the signs of peace she almost always has when she falls into the network. The surrogacy it provides her to what she's lost comforts her even now, anxieties about how many eyes and tools are on them almost forgotten.

"準備完了," Asi confirms unnecessarily. She's in.

It's a good thing that Delilah knows what she's looking for, running her tongue under her cheek while she assembles the additional lenses. The ask for the addition of Miller has her raising a look, but does what's wanted and moves the camera tripod into place; smile, buddy, you're on camera.

There is no smiling from Zachery, who promptly aims his one blue and one white eye straight into the camera with a maintained look of wishful hope for spontaneous combustion.

Watching the process that was described to her is different than hearing it; Lilah is quiet while she covers the camerawork, satisfied with the frame, finally lifting her chin to observe. It certainly did turn from 'let's test a thing' to 'let's have a party'. But— that's what being above board does. Figures.

Delicate ticks and glowing readouts in the lab are primarily what Dee has to go by in terms of changes; and, of course, Dana's antique currently hooked up to the electrodes. The camera's viewfinder offers more, in the ways of those additional thermal lenses.

Dana gives a nod to Elliot, adjusting the volume on her headphones and then takes out a spiral-bound notepad of her own and starts making notations on it with a ball-point pen. Her wide-eyed stare flicks between Asi and Zachery, then to the camera and back again, though most of her focus is on the noises her antique sensor is emitting.

Asi pulls back her hands and lets herself sink back into the bean bag chair, arms folding loosely over her midsection. "For comparison…" she offers up aloud, "The memory I know is mine."

"While I respect the Minister Ishida's decision to send a representative of the Mugai-Ryu to assist in our investigation, I'll be frank when I say that I feel Prime Minister Uchida's hand in this." Resting an elbow on a doorward arm rest, Kam settles her chin on the back of her palm. "The Ministry of Internal Affairs has been sniffing at Yamagato's ankles for a very long time, and the last thing I want is someone of your decorated background being wrapped up in a punching match between the government and the private sector. Especially here."

She guides Elliot to it easily enough.

Asi gently inclines her head to acknowledge the concern for her wellbeing, accompanying the gesture with a firming of her lips that might just pass for a smile. "Intrigue isn't something I intend to create or be anywhere near, Ms. Nisatta. I've spent a good deal of my career avoiding all that."

She begins to close her eyes after the memory finishes. "And then there's— what happened on the 15th." Her brow knits just for a moment. "I was already in the midst of the attack when I saw and heard what I did. Just… let me know when you're braced for that."

With the link set, Elliot and Wright are free to sit back and get comfortable. They both stream the offered memory in silence. Elliot takes that fragment of a memory and attaches it to the Black SUV, which he sets atop the pedestal in miniature. The pedestal itself, a simple wooden podium, stands before a wall. The wall has no detail until it does, and the room spreads out before him. Polished wooden floor, faded gray and green paint, lights strung up high above flickering on as they appear in the distance. More pedestals appear within steps of each other as the room reveals itself to be a Gymnasium.

It’s not the Palace, but the mechanics are the same. Each ensuing memory will be placed on its own pedestal, keeping every thought fresh for review as their task expands. With the Black SUV holding the first suspended memory, Elliot brings his attention away from the mnemonic device and back to Asi. “Good to go,” he says.

The memory here is more jarred, less-precise. Even thinking back to that seems to carry with it its own sympathy pains, an echo of a throbbing stab behind her right eye as she recalls the scene.

Asi’s head swims as she sees a child in the apartment, one that Kay seems wholly unaware of as she unlocks her phone.

It’s a little girl, maybe eleven or twelve years old — on the precipice of becoming a teenager. Japanese, disaffected, dressed in a carnation red hoodie and dark jeans, black headphones over her ears. She stares at Asi with purposeful intention, eyes narrowed.

"Intrigue isn't something I intend to create or be anywhere near, Ms. Nisatta. I've spent a good deal of my career avoiding all that." Asi hears her own voice as if outside of her own body. Her head throbs, stomach turns, fingers tremble and her right leg starts to jitter.

"I should get back to my friends. But it was amazing to meet your daughter."

"Stay rad, Asuko."

Kaydence is on the phone, but the tinnitus whining in Asi’s ears makes it hard to hear what’s being said. The young girl with the headphones in the red hoodie stares at Asi, unblinking.

She forces herself to remember for only that long. Everything after gets hazier and more painful yet, which surely… surely can't be of as much help here. Asi exhales a slow, deep breath away, unable to entirely keep the stress and worry she has from bleeding into her conscious flow of thought.

The new memory washes over Elliot. While uncomfortable, a memory of pain is not itself pain, and he doesn’t get caught up in it. Even then this memory contains a lot of conflicting perspectives. “I think,” he says quietly as he feels at the edges of what Asi remembers from two weeks ago, “These don’t all feel connected.”

For ease of access he starts by placing the memory of Asi’s attack in the apartment in a Red Hoodie. Folded, he sets it on the Gymnasium’s second pedestal. Here he’s unable to differentiate what is happening in that room as Kay calls for emergency medical help from Asi’s perception of the girl in red, so these facets remain linked.

The next memory within the memory seems clear enough to leave it undifferentiated from the Black SUV. The next two, implying a chance encounter in public and the meeting of a daughter, as well as the parting to Asuko, have little to associate them with, so for now both are tied to Blood Drops on the Floor, which are placed on the third pedestal.

“I can’t tell if any of those memories within a memory are related,” Elliot says. "Do you remember the context for these two?” He directs her to the Blood Drops on the Floor; I should get back to my friends and Stay rad, Asuko. “Were these the same occasion?”

"It was like it was," Asi insists quietly. "They were my words, but out of order, as though they belonged to an entire different conversation. I heard… myself say them. It was like I'd not been on a business trip when they'd happened, but rather, a dinner party."

After a moment of hesitation, she pries back into the memory of that moment again, tries to capture the bits and pieces she was aware of after with any clarity.

"助けて," she breathes out, pained and longing. Help me, please. Her eyes flicker shut but she forces them back open. "出来ないなら, 逃げて." If you can't, then run, get out of here. If the girl somehow is a manifestation of the piece of herself she's been missing, she aches to think what could happen to her as the result of a stroke.

Kay above panics. Not over Asi, but about her.

“No, she’s— fucking bleeding and on the floor!” Asi hears Kay say. In her peripheral vision she can see Kay turn, looking down at Asi with wide eyes and a hand over her mouth like she’s watching a stranger collapse on the sidewalk. “No I don’t fucking know what’s—

That didn't feel right either come to think of it. "Wait…" She cycles back in the conversation.

"どうしたんの?" Asi queries right away, her voice sharp with the irritation her headache affords her. What's wrong, what's the matter? One eye remains squinted slightly despite best efforts to present a good face.

“Information,” Kay says with certainty, wasting no time stepping into the apartment, “about your situation.” She flicks a look over to Asi, then around the apartment with a brief furrow of her brows.

That… hadn't been a remotely valid answer. Kay speaks Japanese, or Asi wouldn't have reached for its ease of use. Kay's answers over time had felt slightly off, and even in her fog she'd pursued that suspicion…

Kay’s phone buzzes in her pocket. She pulls it out and unlocks it with her fingerprint, then swipes away the notification from Asi’s text. Dark eyes flick back to the once-technopath, angling her head to the side. “Nakamura’s been unreachable,” she says with a hint of disdain in her voice.

But something had still been wrong there. Kay had passed biometrics, but not… humanity checks.

Asi blinks as she realizes how long she's spent on this thought. "Sorry— I…" Got distracted? "That was a little self-indulgent." She sighs hard, rubbing the inside of her hand not bearing the finger-clipped heart monitor along the side of her face, against her nose. She feels it on her face, even if her hand registers the action like an echo.

"Um, we were…" She struggles back to the moment. "Where were we?"

Interesting, Elliot thinks. The duplicate speech is extracted from the Black SUV and added to the Blood Drops on the Floor. Kay’s suspect behavior goes into Kay’s Phone on another pedestal. He looks at what he has so far, there’s a lot more context that needs to be found before he can do anything with this data.

“Let’s go back to the initiation of this interaction with Kay,” he says. “From the point you were aware she was coming over. That way I can get a feel around the edges of what’s memory and what’s sensation, they can bleed together at traumatic moments.”

He pauses before adding, “Which I understand isn’t ideal to reexperience, so take as much time as you need. We’ll walk through it together.” He looks at the clock. “We should have plenty of time. Though I do want to go for round two on the day of the abduction so we have that lined up by the time the stuff kicks in.”

There's not much for Asi to do but let go. She relaxes back, not quite limp noodle, but nearing there. It takes her a second to center herself, then start the memory over again to provide more clarity. She starts from the beginning, from the moments before she heard the door knock unexpectedly, eyes on the screen and her chat with a fellow technopath…

The memory blurs the longer it goes on. The last thing she recalls is being told it was going to be okay.

And feeling like she was dying.

Asi exhales away more breath than she has in her, her eyes flickering open for a moment. She recenters herself, anchoring herself in the present— in the sensation of being networked. She knows Elliot picks up on her stream. She knows Wright is nearby.

“This feels anchored elsewhere,” Elliot says. He draws Asi’s attention back to But it was amazing to meet your daughter. “What did you do just after saying this?”

But that's the thing. "I never said that," Asi insists quietly. "That doesn't even…" Her memory begins to churn again. "… sound like me."

Elliot releases the memory for a moment, bringing his attention to meatspace. “Let’s try this,” he says. “Ignore what happened on the tarmac. Say what you heard, as best you remember it, out loud right now. Like you’re addressing someone in this room.”

She does her own part to try and let go of her preconceptions, the way she's trying to force a narrative into place. She separates them, sets aside feeling awkward, and gives it a shot. "I really should get back to my friends. But it was great to meet your daughter." Even attempting to repeat the phrases, there's differences that come in her reproduction.

"Stay rad, Asuko," sounds so distinctly unlike her. The repetition jogs something finally, though. It sounds like…

"Monica?" Asi wonders, her thoughts travelling back.

“What did you do when you got back to your friends?” Elliot asks the question in a way that assumes it can just be picked up from that point. Keeping the effort anchored in the recollection.

"You're okay, big guy," she says, her hand squeezing his shoulder. "You with us?"

It's not Asi performing that reassurance.

Luther presses the cool metal can onto his head. There'd normally be the urge to gulp down its contents, but they've been in the country long enough to know the rules posted in every car. The line of tensions eases slightly under faint squeeze of Monica's hand. "I'm fine," rumbles out of the man with a clearing shake of his head and several forced blinks. "I'm fine."


As Elliot feels the sudden jump to a different memory he takes what was in the Blood Drops on the Floor and places them instead in the Can of Black Tea. It’s easier to sum it up once it’s not a memory of a memory intertwined with the trauma of Asi’s seizure. The duplicated tarmac conversation is likewise removed from the Red Hoodie.

This should be a point of relief. The memory sliding into place, the untangling of part of this ball of yarn, though, brings a slackening to Asi's expression like one might wear when everything begins lacking sense all over again. "But…"

She recalls the girl she saw while she was lying on the ground again, feeling her understanding of who she is and what she meant slip further through her fingers. The girl in red becomes a cipher to her anew.

Asi realizes she's been silent for a while. "What else?" she asks, trying to get back on track.

“What else?”

Asi’s stomach turns, looking down at her hands and feeling the tightness in her joints as she flexes them open and closed. The restraints around her wrists are tight and cold. The metal is not padded. Her heart races in spite of the stern expression painted like a mask across her face.

“There is no else,” the man standing in front of Asi says. He is tall, broad-shouldered and possessed of salt-and-pepper gray hair and a smooth, steady voice. “If you were trying we wouldn’t be so far behind, now would we? I’m going to—”

“Arthur, I am trying.” Asi says through clenched teeth.


“Well, I’m not sure I believe you,” is Arthur’s immediate response. “So we’re going to have to try some more… drastic measures.” He says, starting to reach out toward her face with one hand.

Asi's eyes flicker open, snapping focused on a point above her with a shrink of her pupils in horror. Her arms begin to shift by her side. What was this?

“Is that,” Elliot says as he lets this new barrage of memories wash over him, “That’s Arthur Petrelli.”

No.” Asi’s voice cracks and she twists against her restraints. “No!

Arthur leans in closer to Asi’s chair, his hand settling on the headrest, not her face. “Then you might want to try just a little ha—”

“I’m getting weird signal noise,” Dana suddenly chimes in, one hand held up to her headphones. “Major Tetsuyama’s brainwave activity is spiking. Alpha waves are highly erratic and I’m hearing some really weird theta waves.” She looks over to the technicians by the digital monitors, and they’re not showing anything of the sort.

“She’s reading normal.” One technician says, double-checking the cables. “Same waking-dream waveforms reported in all of the others.”

“I’m getting completely different results,” Dana calls back closing her eyes and listening to the noises in her headphones. “I can hear the registers, they’re not matching your screens.”

Wet concrete stinks of mildew. The drip of water from the ceiling of a ten-by-ten cell serves only to aggravate, falling in an unsteady rhythm. There is moss on the wall around the door frame, where concrete meets rusted steel. The smell of oxidized metal clings to the air as much as the mildew stink.

The horror in Asi's expression shifts, turning to confusion— apprehension? This…

Elliot feels the quality of the memory. It’s real, but… “What is this? This wave of memories feels like it’s been run through a filter. This isn’t me.”

Asi Tetsuyama is a prisoner, wrists bound in steel restraints, sitting cross-legged on the wet stone floor of a dank concrete cell. She watches the door slowly open with a rising beat of her heart. The woman who walks through, thin and severe-looking, has an expression of a permanent scowl that creases visible lines in the corners of her mouth and in her neck.

“Major Tetsuyama,” she says in a frustrated tone. “Have the last nine days given you anything to think about? Because the options we presented to you are rapidly dwindling.”

“Erica,” Asi says in a hoarse voice. “You’re looking radiant.


“And that’s Erica Kravid,” Wright says. “Do you know when this took place?” she asks Asi. “Because I’m pretty sure she died over a year ago.”

"It's her," Asi breathes out, sightlessly looking up as she relives the memory. Bits of context begin to build in the background, foggy and imprecise. She focuses less on Erica Kravid, Director, and more on this other self, this memory that should have no place at all for her. Sense dictates feeling the raw gutclench of the conversation and what she knows comes next in it…

“You can either cooperate or be stripped of your ability and returned to the Japanese government.” Kravid says without a touch of sympathy in her voice. “It’s up to you.”

And yet, Asi couldn't be happier to be experiencing it.

Asi looks down at her lap, to bare hands stained with grime from sleeping on the floor of this wet cell intended for an animal in the biodome. She looks back up to Kravid. “Go fuck yourself.”

"Is it you? Is it really you?" Asi asks absolutely no one at all.

Kravid slides her tongue across the inside of her cheek, then steps aside to reveal two broad-shouldered men waiting in the hall. “Fine. Option C.” Which wasn’t one of the choices she had been presented. “Take her.”

Asi springs to her feet, backing up to the wet wall of her cell as two sturdy men advance on her. She waits, considers her bare footing, then lunges out with a shoulder against the first one to get in striking range. Even with her hands cuffed together, she’s still dangerous. An elbow to the throat sends the first man collapsing to the ground, choking. She steps over him, hops and knees the second in the diaphragm and then drives her elbow down into the back of his head as he doubles over.

As Asi closes the distance on Erica, the older woman moves back a step, but finds herself too slow for the younger and considerably more athletic woman. Asi gets her cuffed arms around Kravid’s head, swings her around and smashes her skull against the wall, then with a crossing of her forearms uses the chain of her handcuffs as a strangulation device, knee at the small of Kravid’s back, choking the life out of her.

Even knowing how ephemeral this victory will prove to be, Asi brings both hands to her mouth, covering it over with a momentary gasp. This memory feels like hers— like hers, more specifically. It isn't the fog of a secondhand remembrance; it feels just like when that foreign, other her made up part of her being, or it's close enough to it she can't tell the difference currently.

“I said, go fuck yourself.” Asi growls as she struggles, muscles tense and back straight. Kravid’s face has turned from red to purple, but the brief struggle was all the time more security needed to arrive. Four more people pile into the room and manage to pry Kravid out from Asi’s grasp. The technopath is thrown against the wall, kicked, punched, and beaten with truncheons until she no longer puts up a fight.

Bring her,” Kravid says in a gasping rasp, pawing at her throat, “to the fucking lab.

"Elliot, please, you have to help me not let go of this," Asi airs, on the verge of tears. Her arms are folded tightly across her chest, eyes squinting shut to help her hold onto the memory. Like it'll help preserve her connection with whatever is feeding her this recollection.

"Help me hold onto her," she begs. Don't let the Red Oni go, even if all she had left to her were sorry tales and painful recollections.

“What’s going on?” Wright asks, placing a hand on Asi’s shoulder. “Do you know who’s doing this?”

Elliot is equally confused, but the torment in Asi’s question has him scrabbling for something he can do to help. He ties the first memory to the Metal Arm Restraints, and the second to the Handcuffs. Each is placed on a pedestal.

Could he—No, not without the others here. Even then he has no idea what this is, or if it would work the same way.

"They're not my memories, not—" Asi elbows her way to sit upright, pawing at her eyes as tears go streaking down her face. Never has she shown such a lack of composure in all the time those here have known her. "Th-they're the other oni's. And if I can hear her again, she's…"

Maybe she's not gone.

But try as hard as she can, no other experiences come. No blips.

Reluctantly, she allows herself to reflect on other things. She discreetly directs Elliot and Wright to a point in time most likely to give an answer to the person she's discussed in vague as much as impart the need for the topic to be brokered later… she hopes.

“As was policy at the time, the Company — the same one most of you have heard about in the trials, yes — moved in to cover up the situation. This was complicated when they discovered that in the midst of all the chaos, there had been an overlay effect between timelines. At least sixteen people had crossed over in one direction or the other.”

Richard pauses, giving Monica a wry look as she speaks, then notes, “The Company handled this event by altering the memory of everyone affected, and those around them, until nobody thought anything had been changed. This may sound outlandish and impossible, but Agent Baumann over there can verify this if necessary. This happened. Looking Glass was not only a way of looking into other worlds, but of crossing over as well.”

The entire time she's looking down, swiping away the tears from her eye with her thumb. "The last time I heard her," she explains aloud, "I still had my ability. I've… never gotten a sign before she still might be there." She finally looks up, the fingers of her other hand slowly opening and closing. Her fingers feel tacky, though there's no cause. Asi starts to speak again and when her jaw works, her tongue feels odd next.

"Oh," she notes with sudden distaste. Side-effect onset? She rolls her tongue in her mouth again, trying the strange sensation out a second time.

“I honestly can’t say if I had anything to do with whatever just happened,” Elliot says. He views the memory of Richard Ray and throws that one on a pedestal for good measure. “Was she a technopath? Do you think that was a transmission from her?”

For a moment he streams Asi’s sensations. “Yeah that’s weird, I’m guessing that’s the special ingredient.” He lets go of the stream just in case.

“We’re being spoofed,” Dana chimes in, looking up from the notepad in her lap she’d been writing on. “Digital signals are being spoofed to hide cerebral activity, I don’t know how they’re doing it, but something is masking the signals from an electronic sensor. It’s a lot harder to hide them in an analog fashion. Might be some kind of security countermeasure, maybe technopathic defenses? Not sure.”

Dana takes off her earphones and leaves them hooked around her neck. “Asi’s brainwaves are way more active than we’d been led to believe. Every time Asi is recalling a memory her mind goes into overdrive. I’d say upwards of three-hundred percent more active than an ordinary human baseline. Whatever systems are in play here can’t mask the waking-dream situation, and that’s definitely happening, but the whole of her brain is on overdrive.”

Dana looks down at her notes, tapping one scribbled line with her pencil’s eraser. “It’s uh, not to be alarming, but comparable to cerebellum activity in Parkinson’s patients or someone having an active seizure.” She adjusts her glasses, then slides off her stool and walks over to the digital sensors. “This is… ingenious.”

Asi can't help but feel ridiculous sitting as upright as she can manage in a beanbag chair, one hand still half-lifted to the side of her face while she focuses an unusual amount on the feeling of her tongue in her mouth, but she's still of sound enough mind to catch on to everything Dana says. Her eyes widen, then narrow in progressive and short order.

"Those bastards," she pronounces regarding the spoofing. She falls silent for a short period, during which she turns to look at Zachery with a progressively furrowed brow. This revelation takes the information Jac and Zachery initially brought them and turns it on its side. "Those fucking bastards," she repeats, like to some comment mentally shared only between her and him.

Asi Tetsuyama is not, nor has ever been, a telepath.

"You're going to have to be so much more specific," mutters Zachery, who — between the outsourced techs and the crushing weight of exactly how much context he's missing to make sense of any of this — has abandoned his watch to sink his face into his hands.

"Okay, so," she looks back toward Dana, trying to keep this latest bit of news from shaking her. It's just reality, nothing to get anxious about. "We are constantly going into overdrive any time we perform memory recall?" It's impossible for her not to draw lines here. "Like a nineties-era desktop?"

Bewildered, Asi asks, "Why is that ingenious?"

“Hiding brainwaves by faking digital signals knowing that modern medicine is over-reliant on digital versus analog?” Dana’s voice rises in pitch to match her rising brows as she delivers that breathless sentence. “Ingenious.

“I wonder if it’s different for,” Elliot begins, then cues up a memory of his own and draws Asi’s attention to it. For kicks, it’s his memory of gaining unlawful access to the Bastion the day he got hired back. “Stream this memory.” He turns to look to Dana, “And tell me if the effect is different.”

Dana nods, pulling her headphones back on. “I’ll wait to test this on Doctor Miller at some point too,” she says with a flash of a smile to him as she returns to her stool, “and probably others. I need as many points of data on this as possible.”

Permission from said Doctor Miller comes easily - in that it comes in a helpless shrug and nod before he turns his eye to the screens ahead of him ahead, noting tiredly, "I'll see what cats I can herd back together." Why not.

Asi leaves one hand still held up in a gesture of helplessness in the face of Dana's fascination— which she currently finds herself unable to share in owing to how it directly, negatively has impacted her. (Were the shoe on the other foot, Dana, she would absolutely find this interesting in a less-negative context, though.) She drags her attention back to Elliot once, and then a second time when for some reason the first attempt to focus on him didn't quite stick.

Only for her eyes to glaze over after locking on, reaching for the link opened to her to Elliot's perception and memory. She observes with the idle back and forth to her gaze like she's thinking rather than watching something like a television screen. Her focus sharpens after she realizes just what she's looking at, letting out a scoff. "Elliot, you're lucky you didn't break the door," she scolds him.

She tries to pull Wright's attention, set up in a way to indicate she'd like backup on this particular topic.

As time moves forward, all Delilah can do to not disturb the scene is remember that she has a job behind the camera. For now. The readings Dana is getting and the ones picked up by newer equipment aren't exactly reassuring. Dee can keep up to a point, and infer some of the rest; she's no scientist, but she's not thick either. Dana's assessment of the overreliance of digital gets a laugh from Delilah and her personal peanut gallery, which she stifles soon after.

"You wouldn't believe how many kids can't read clock hands these days." is what the redhead settles on, covering her uncertainty with a touch of lightness. Hands lifting from the tripod, it is a silent aside that she motions to the other spectators to keep an eye on it. Delilah pulls her bag from the counter she'd set it on, quietly rifling through it and some of the drawers before she appears satisfied.

There is no verbal interruption as Delilah makes her way to the chairs and crouches carefully behind Asi's with a bottle of water in one hand, a tissue box deposited on the side of the beanbag with the other.

"Here, love," The 'pop' of the bottlecap seal is a sweet little sound, especially when Delilah places it in Asi's hand, not letting go until she is sure the other woman won't be fumbling it. If anyone's an expert on psychotropics— "Sips." It's— funnily enough— the mom-friend. Lilah can leave the sciencing for the others now.

“Oh I’m right there with you,” Wright says, tagging a memory of herself providing color commentary while Elliot gains unlawful access to the Bastion on the day they got hired back.

When Delilah provides Asi with the water she gives a warm smile. “I’m glad someone knows what to do,” she says. “I didn’t even think of that.”

After a moment of listening, Dana shakes her head. “Same spikes. I’m not sure if that’s a peculiarity of however your ability works — which I would love to run some tests on in a lab environment — or a quirk of whatever hardware has been grafted into Asi’s brain.” Dana slides her tongue across the inside of her cheek. “But so far, identical results.”

“Let’s try to chip away at the night leading up to the event,” Elliot says, “Now that the bad ideas amplifier is beginning to take hold.” He centers himself, trying to settle down from the unexpected burst of memory and discovery.

“What’s the last clear memory you have of that day? Walk me through it.”

Wait,” he suddenly sits up straight. “Van Eck phreaking.” He looks to Dana, suddenly agitated. “If there’s data being transmitted it could be vulnerable to analogue eavesdropping.”

Dana takes off one headphone, eyes wide, and then lets out a small shriek and hops off of her chair. She vigorously grabs one of Elliot’s hands and brings it to her own to enforce mandatory high-five rules. “Van Eck phreaking! We could get a visualization of their actual brainwaves and possibly interpret them beyond statistical activity!”

Pirouetting on one sneakered toe, Dana stops with a stomp of her foot and a sway of her hips that throws her back into her chair. “That’s brilliant! Nobody makes lo-fi suggestions like that these days!”

Sipping tepidly from the bottle of water she's been offered, Asi provides Delilah with a murmur of thanks while peering up at the excitement Dana and Elliot both appear to be sharing.

In a flat voice, she shares something she'd never think of saying to this group otherwise. "For the record, this is doing wonders for my theory I've actually been turned into some kind of… advanced robot." Sarcasm aired, she frowns and takes another sip of water before setting it aside, fingers prying very carefully from the plastic like she expects they might stick for some reason. "But that's a great idea, Elliot."

As is the idea they dive back into her memory before her ability to steer her thoughts grows impaired.

Asi flops back into a more relaxed position, eyes closing again. Her hands wander the plush and mealy surface of the chair before she brings her arms to a tight fold before her to cut down on the distraction. Right. She had a memory to recall.

It's been such a long time since July of last year that when she goes fishing for what happened the night before the abduction, it takes effort to recall. There just wasn't… anything in particular she was doing that stood out. She recalls the sound of fireworks in the distance, occasional flashes of light at the corner of her eye. A codeset whose details are blurred after such a long time dance past the screen before her, but she knows it was something for Raytech. She pings the drone she'd set to perch on the roof of the Bastion to watch the fireworks, seeing through its roaming eye for a moment.

The moment doesn't stick out as belonging to any particular moment in time, though. With effort, she tries to remember the last time reflected back up from her on the screen of her terminal. She thinks it says 1:52 am. But even that number blurs, feels forced. She doesn't remember precisely.

Elliot sits back from the mandatory high-five with a stunned expression. He looks to Wright in his bafflement but catches Asi’s remark, then relaxes. “Sorry about that,” he says, mildly embarrassed, as Wright places a hand gently on Asi’s forearm. He probably never would have had the idea if not for the combination of a sci-fi novel he read and the fact that the computer equipment he used in middle school was decades out of date.

He settles back in to stream Asi’s hazier recollections, adding the bare details to pedestals as best he can in order to set up any chase they might need to run in order to pick up other fragments. A Computer Monitor showing lorem ipsum code blocks. A Bottle Rocket. A Clock Blinking 12:00.

Wright, also streaming, looks to Zachery and quietly asks, “Can we get a copy of whatever code Asi was working on for Raytech the night of the disappearance? To use as a memory prompt.” They may not need it with the acid in Asi’s system already having proved sufficient for unearthing hidden memories, but it would be good to prepare should this take longer than expected.

"I will get right on that. I'm just going to go ahead and…" Zachery replies, leaning off to the side to grab a pad of sticky notes and a pen.

"Tetsuyama," he says to himself in faux cheerful cadence as he writes. "I'm requesting, at your earliest convenience, the code you were working on early July. Cheers," and he shoots Wright, specifically, a dry look and quirk of a brow to go with this last part, his voice dragged downward. "The bio department."

Looking up to make sure that the camera is more or less being babysat, Delilah takes a knee there beside Asi in her crinkly seat, careful to keep the water in reach. It's not much to do, but sticking there matters in the long run. If the team is going to be so enveloped in results and what tests to run next, and Elliot is actively engaged with Asi and Wright, Dee's not sure that this role would be filled. When the woman sitting back goes to cross her limbs, Delilah puts a hand on Asi's shoulder while she closes her eyes to focus. It's not an intrusive weight. It's a weight that she knows benefits high as a kite. That little plastic anchor on a balloon.


Dana continues to idly write in her notepad, unaware of the sound that just banged against the back of Elliot and Wright’s consciousness from their link to Asi.

No, not drumming. Pounding.

“I actually might have that,” Dana says as an aside to Zachery, “Dee, could you grab my laptop?” She asks, motioning over to a nearby counter. “I can pull it up on the server.”

Claustrophobic sounds of panicked breathing

Dana looks back over to Elliot and Wright with a smile. “Unless Doctor Miller’s sticky-note suffices?”

Dark. Enclosed. A tiny window viewing a metal ceiling.

The suffocating darkness of an ACTS unit brings Elliot back to a special kind of hell. One that Asi shares with him.

Darkness. Enclosed. A tiny window viewing a metal ceiling. Fists pounding. Intubated. Throat raw.

Asi feels the backflow of reflexive trauma-induced recollection. Collective trauma. Shared.

She starts to choke where she lies, the memory hitting her harder this time. It feels real, even more real than the memory of being beaten did, that pain bittersweet but very much tender. She panics now the same way she does in the memory— tries hard to reach out with her ability— only resulting in a screamlike pull of Elliot and Wright toward her perspective.

It's hard to breathe. The tubing. Asi gags on it again, and begins to reach weakly for her throat, to a device attached to her mouth that isn't actually there. Her eyes tear up, focused on that window, while the rest of her focuses on creating breathing room in the coffin she believes herself to be trapped in.

Elliot flinches hard against the intrusive memory. Wright darts forward to take his hand just after it washes over her too. Hey, I’m right here. Elliot cuts off Asi's access to his shared memories just in case they should rabbit-role any deeper into them. He takes a deep breath and holds his hand over his eyes as the memory flickers repeatedly in his mind now that it’s found some freedom there. Each flash a little shorter, quieter. “Sorry about that,” he says quietly.

Wright turns her attention to Asi, sending a quick barrage of pings through the network to draw her attention back to now as the access to Elliot’s memory fades. She doesn’t want to crowd her physically while Dee is close enough to provide that support. She turns her attention to Dana. “That would be great, thank you.” She doesn’t have it in her to return Zachery’s sarcasm at the moment.

Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be much more of it on the horizon. Something more concerned flashes across Zachery's face before he turns his eye back to the monitors ahead of him, brow knitting with some unspoken discomfort.

Delilah is hesitant to leave Asi's side given the shift in tones, though to help Dana with the records she does so; it's a short trip to deliver the tech her laptop, yet one that still allows ample time for Shit To Happen.

"Well… fuck…" Pawning the computer off, Lilah steps away and back to Asi, this time a more physical reaction. Wright has it on the nose, when it comes to support. The redhead crouches down behind the beanbag and puts her hands on either side of Asi's face, a minor pressure and present warmth to try and bring her back from wherever she's gone. Only room for one in the ACTS.

"Hey, hey," A hushed volume, maternal, as she is wont to be. Delilah doesn't try to stop Asi's hands from invisible tasks. She just takes a knee there, hoping to be a reminder that Asi's imagination isn't the real world. The addition of medication certainly made things different, whatever's going on in there. "Hey there, I've got you. You listening?"

Dana is frozen in wide-eyed horror for a moment, gingerly holding her laptop against her chest. Looking away from Asi out of a sense of embarrassment, Dana pulls her laptop open and focuses down on the screen while listening to the clicks from her headphones. She navigates through her VPN into Raytech’s servers, then pulls up Asi’s work records.

“Here,” Dana says delicately, turning the laptop around and making a small gesture to offer it over to Elliot and Wright, but not so much as to try handing it to them. It’s a timing sensitivity, it’s there but when they’re ready.

The highlighted branch of code shows a flag indicating this isn't the most recent version of it, but the screen dutifully displays a concatenating series of ifchecks. Code notes appended inline indicate they're the startup checks for the SEER device.

Asi's panic, her fear, the need to get out and understand what's happening to her doesn't abate with the guiding of her back toward the present, but she finds her way back anyway, grounded. Wright's persistent pings are finally acknowledged, and Delilah feels Asi relax, sees her hands quit their crawling. She still feels as though wires should be plugged into her sluggish arms, but the present is more firmly acknowledged.

Hands trembling as she balls them over her stomach, she self-consciously begins to explain, "It just— one to the next. There was no gap. I tripped from one memory straight to the other. Like it was the same memory, the same time. There wasn't a period of time between. It just…"

One hand lifts to place over Delilah's gently to let her know she's okay for now before Asi sluggishly sits up again. "Sorry. Elliot." She gathers what had happened impacted him too, signals as much with a single, brief ping of regret.

“Not your fault,” Elliot says. “I’ll be fine.” He takes a few centering breaths while Asi reviews the code on Dana’s laptop. Wright taps at her phone for a few moments before showing the screen to Elliot, then letting it rest in her hand. The rest of her focus is on Asi.

Once Elliot is relaxed he talks softly. “Do you want to stop here?” he asks. “It’s totally fine if you just want to throw on some mood music and chill out, that was pretty vivid. We can stay networked or disconnect, your choice. But if you want to take one last shot at it I can do that too. We could have you split your attention between the code and watching a fireworks display through Wright’s perspective in place of your drone.”

“It’s entirely possible you were asleep the entire time, and there is nothing between what you remember and when you woke up.” He pauses to sigh as he racks his brain for any other options, and sighs. “If there was something you experienced in a dream state, I could hypothetically pull at the memories I just indexed while you’re in REM sleep and see if I can follow from there. It’s possible to pull another sleeping host into a dream with you, so Wright could sleep at the same time, and at least you’d have company. It’s kind of random when it happens, but… That’s the best I can think of right now.”

Delilah offers Asi a small brush of hand across hair when she emotes that she's alright, letting go and watching closely as the other woman sits up again. She knows it may not be over yet, but she hopes it is. This part. There's still the part where the rest of the Trip wants to go. They aren't always so unkind.

"More friends the better, right?" A light touch moves to Asi's back, the redhead beside her slowly getting back to her feet. Have to be sure she's fine. Dee raises both brows, lips in a thin smile. "Don't push yourself too far. A bad trip makes the next time even worse, trust me. "

Fidgeting, Dana’s outward demeanor has shifted from jubilance over this unique and fringe research to wary uncertainty. She slides off of her stool and takes off her headphones to loose herself from the tether of the device they’re attached to. Crossing the room, Dana confers with the small research team, pointing at Asi and shaking her head, speaking in hushed tones. One of the researchers nods and points to a line on the digital EEG and shrugs.

As Dana makes her way back, she lingers on the periphery of Elliot and Asi’s conversation, sharing a quick look to Zachery and Delilah in the meanwhile, sharing her own wordless concern. As she looks back to Asi and Elliot, Dana steps forward again. “Whatever you’re doing is working. It’s triggering deeply recessed memories, but I’ve never indexed brain activity like this before. I…” She offers a concerned look to Zachery, then back to Asi. “I’m not sure I’d classify it as traditionally human brain activity. But—I may need to review the data again.”

Inhibition significantly lowered, Asi can't focus on the code she's been given after Dana speaks, a laugh coming from her involuntary and somewhat embittered. "Of course it's not," she states emphatically. "私達はもう人間じゃないよ. I-it's like—" She breaks to laugh again, a hysterical note hiding in it.

"I had this project I was working on. I wanted to make a realistic android. It was a stupid side project, but something I thought I could use in de-escalation strategies. Put a piece of myself or two in the machine to manipulate it from afar as though it were real. Work through negotiations with a human enough hand. Except this— this thing that happened to us," said with a wild-eyed look to Zachery. "This goes beyond that."

"We… go so much further beyond that. We almost feel human. Almost." Her mood begins to dip, and her sense of self and humanity goes with it. She begins to rip off the electrodes one by one, the cap finally going with it. "But we're not," she laughs bitterly, the tears in her eyes from before taking on a different glean to them. "見世物だけなんだ."

They're fakes. Abominations. Why else are there robots in their blood, why else are there memories that have such an odd sheen in their heads? By human standards, they shouldn't be alive. What does that make them but inhuman?

Asi should be listening to Delilah, trying not to have a bad time, but as she decides yes, she is done with the science project portion of things, she throws the halo cap away from her as hard as she can. She nearly unseats the laptop on her knee, but she catches that with her left hand quickly, having much more appreciation for that device than the other. She sniffs loudly, rubbing at her face with the heel of her hand.

"Let's try this last thing," she says to Elliot and Wright, unable to look up at them properly. "Then I'm done. I wanted to hope I remembered anything before the plane crash. And maybe I do— but it's just…" She shakes her head, pained. It's just nothing actionable it'd seem.

But Asi Tetsuyama is nothing if not persistent. Maybe she doesn't recall what happened to the self in the coffin before waking panicked just before the crash, but maybe if she focuses hard enough, she can recall what happened to the self that wrote the code before her. It's a big if. "Let's try?" she hopes anyway, then smooths her hand over the top of the laptop in apology to it, looking down at the screen and skimming through it to the beginning, to work her way back through things from the top again.

Almost human? Elliot and Wright share a deep confusion. Is this the drugs? Their concern for Asi grows as she tears away the cap and electrodes. They lean forward in unison to reach out to her, but settle back as she settles back into the memory.

“We can stop this at any time,” Elliot says. “I’m going to block your access to everything but Wright’s perception, so there shouldn’t be a lot of distraction. Emotion can still go through, as we’ve just seen, so I will remain vigilant about keeping myself an impartial observer. Wright will watch my memory stream and slap me out of it if need be.”

“Slap the absolute shit out of him,” Wright promises. There’s a ripple of a laugh through the network. An affectionate sense of being here with Asi for this.

Somewhere, in the last few minutes, Zachery's stopped paying attention to the monitors he was watching. His focus has shifted from what's in front of him to something, somewhere else not within this room, stare vacant.

Those words though, almost human, are too hard to ignore. He snaps out of his haze only just managing to meet Asi's gaze, offering little more than an uneasy knit of his brow.

"I… I don't know what to say," he admits, reluctant. "We're here, we were injured, we healed - if quicker than normal. Some of us were operated on, by doctors who—" The implications are difficult to assess right here and now. "We're functionally…" What would be more words are swallowed back down with a shake of his head.

He forces his attention back to the monitors again.

Delilah looks up to Dana when the other woman pipes up again, brows knit in a look from her to Asi. Nothing is traditional around here- - spoken a little more curtly out loud by Asi herself. Of course it's not normal. And of course it weighs hard on the shoulders, Asi's next movements of disconnecting oneself from the machines finishing the thought process. While this time Delilah doesn't offer physical comfort, she remains to the side, watchful.

"I've met a few inhumans in my time. You're not one of 'em." It's Dee's turn to ride a flourish of something harder; a small and jagged edge to an otherwise softened demeanor. She smiles down to Asi, the prickle disappearing in favor of a squared shoulder and a nod. "Let's try."

It’s all they can do. Try.

Six Months Earlier


One minute, Asi Tetsuyama was working at her laptop, and the next minute she is sitting at the bar in a brightly lit diner. There is a man in front of her in a white, buttoned uniform with a little white paper hat. He’s bending down behind the bar, pulling out a tall glass and turning his back on Asi, heading over to some sort of drink mixer beside a pair of tall coffee makers.

The diner looks like it belongs in the 1940s, but so does Asi. As she looks down at herself she realizes she’s wearing a bright red sleeveless top and a black pencil skirt and sensible heels. Beside her at the diner bar is a man in a midnight blue suit with a gray fedora. Bearded. Unfamiliar looking.

There’s another man sitting around the corner of the bar, head down and face hidden by the brim of his fedora. The light coming from the diner illuminates a darkened and deserted urban streetscape visible out the wrap-around windows at the diner’s corner.

Asi has seen this before. It’s a painting titled Nighthawks.

She hadn't even blinked in the time she was somewhere, then somewhere else. Her eyes glaze over with the lack of screen before her to focus on, hair on the back of her neck raising as she lifts her head. The nature of her ability is such being trapped outside her body like this because of some misuse— a mistake— should run slim to none in terms of chances. But that hadn't stopped one iteration of her from being trapped multiple times in such a bind.

Still. It didn't make much sense to her that something like that could explain this. Though whatever this is, when she tries to expand her senses to ping for nearby electronics, there's aught but silence for her efforts. There's not even the feeling that she has successfully set herself to listen for signals.


A glance is afforded to the dark of the outdoors, seeing mostly a reflection of the interior off of the shined glass. A second glance casts further down the diner.

In the painting, there's speculation about the lack of exit doors here. Will she see one now? Or is she trapped after all? Her ankles uncross under the counter of the bar, feet pressing flat against an unseen baseboard. It's then she notices that, like the painting, her left arm is folded against the bar, lying across her body, the side of her hand against the palm of the man sitting next to her.

It's him Asi looks to next, her hair sweeping over her shoulder as she turns.

“Yeah, there's no doors,” the man says as if privy to Asi’s innermost thoughts and intentions. “That felt the most appropriate way to clue you in to the unreality of the situation.”

Asi knows that voice.


“So here's the deal,” Colin says as he turns to her. Asi can't be sure if the man with salt-and-pepper in his beard is what Colin really looks like or not. They'd never met face to face before. “The first thing I need you to be absolutely, one-hundred percent clear on here is that you are you.” His eyes search Asi’s. “You're Asi Tetsuyama. You're not an impostor. You're not a copy. Don't doubt your identity.”

Eyes meeting his, Asi can't hide her surprise. Not just at the advice, but at him. The hand reached across her body lifts, finding the curve of his jaw, resting her palm against the stubble there.

So what if this isn't real.

"Why would that ever be in question?" she asks him severely, her gaze stern where her touch is not. She gives it only a moment before she blinks, thinking about the greater situation with a hair more awareness than before. The slant of her brow deepens in angle, surprise giving away to something sharper. "Where the fuck have you been? I hoped to see you when I came to America, and you fell off the face of the fucking planet, v.iris."

Colin’s expression sags, he pulls gently away, leaning his weight on a single elbow at the bar. “Because whenever you dig this out of your head, you’re going to be questioning yourself.” The worried look on Colin’s face grows, paints itself in colors of grief. “You aren’t here right now, Oni. You’re somewhere else. We’re talking because there’s millions of dollars of cybernetics jammed inside your head.” He brings two fingers up to the side of her head, tapping on her brow.

Colin continues to back away, sliding off of the stool. At the same time, the man in white behind the counter finishes preparing a milkshake. He turns, bringing it over to Asi. A tall glass filled with a bright red milkshake. It’s then that she notices he doesn’t have a face, just a smooth curve of flesh where a face should be. The other man in the diner doesn’t either.

“I’m gonna get you out of here.” Colin says without acknowledging the milkshake or the faceless men. “If you remember any of this just—just remember that I’m sorry. I never wanted to be part of any of this.”

Now that she knows the unreality of her situation, she ignores the offered milkshake, too. The entire scene is unsettling the more of it that enters her awareness, as are the other details.

She most certainly does not have tech like that in her head. She'd sense it, for one.

Asi frowns regardless. She frowns at his implications, she frowns at how she can't feel her ability at the moment, feeling agitation work its way under her non-existent skin. "Do better than sorry. Whatever's happening right now, you do something. Throw open the door, and I'll run. I'll do the rest."

Her brow furrows as she looks to the side without much focus, looking out into the darkened street beyond. "I've been a part of so much I never wanted to, either. You know that. But the one thing that's never changed is that we look out for each other. Whatever this is—" Asi lifts a hand to flippantly gesture at her unreality as she turns back to him. "Open the door, and I'll get myself out. Hand goes behind me next to pull you out after me, whatever form that needs to take."

And she imagines, after such radio silence, whatever he's in needs a physical rescue. Luckily, she has the freedom to orchestrate that now. Luckily, for all her suffering, she's broken into two separate prisons now to free its inmates.

"You cagey piece of shit, I won't leave you to whatever this is if you don't leave me to it." Asi looks back to Colin with solemn gravity. Whatever this is she's fallen into, it's left her a prisoner in her own mind. She harbors no illusions of escaping without help now.

She just hopes Colin actually can pry her out of it.

"Who did this to us? Who do I go after after we wake up?"


Colin’s eyes show nothing but fear in them. He looks to his right, meeting the gaze of the faceless diner attendant holding a now overflowing milkshake of deep, bubbling red. Colin’s eyes follow the fluid running down the faceless man’s hand, dripping into plopping heaps on the floor.


When Colin looks back at Asi, fear is replaced by shame.


“Sorry is all I got.”


Present Day

Asi jolts in her seat with a scream, as if waking from a nightmare, right arm thrust up in a punch in front of her. The former technopath’s swing pulverized only air, but startles Dana enough that the SESA technician leaps away with a startle yelp.

Elliot and Wright saw everything. A memory, deeply repressed, buried somewhere in Asi’s subconsciousness between her last recollection before abduction and her first memories of the crash. It held the same filtered quality as the other unexpected memory they uncovered. But it was also overlaying something— that thudding sound of a fist on reinforced glass. Like reality seeping in through a waking nightmare.

As Asi’s awareness comes back into the moment, she can feel her heart racing and phantom pain in her knuckles.

And she's back where she started, trapped inside the ACTS unit, except this time— this time she benefits from her experience a few minutes ago. She doesn't fall victim to the vivid hallucination again, aware abruptly of what she'd been desperately seeking the moment she woke up: connection.

Elliot and Wright are both there in the network. Delilah's close physical presence provides a different sort of anchor.

Anguish of a different sort than the coffin memory gives her slams into Asi as she roots herself back in the present, her hands cupping around her mouth as she reflects on the unearthed memory. She sobs into them quietly, losing her composure again while tears stream down her face. She's tidier this time, her tears and rocking a self-contained thing following the initial outburst.

Her horror is plain from what she saw, her grief a silent and powerful thing. It's one born of reasons she keeps to herself for this moment in time. Whatever had happened to them… her friend was involved. Culpable, even.

Or so it would seem.

Without apparent cause, the clockwork in her starts turning again after a very brief interval. Horror slips away; she moves to grasp the laptop before her with urgency. Before she gets beyond intent to do something with it, she remembers it's not hers and gently, if un-nimbly, sets it aside. "I have to go." Trying to stand as quickly as she does sets her into an awkward tangle of limbs, falling back into the beanbag chair again.

Her reason for urgency manifests in flashes, in remembering a string of unanswered messages that now needed one more added to the end.

"I have t…" Asi blinks as her purpose manifests, but warps. She feels sick to her stomach. God, what even could she do, even if she got her feet to get their shit together? He didn't tell her where to find him.

Wright leans forward to rest her hand on Asi’s arm as the woman struggles to stand up. She leaves her seat next to kneel on the floor beside her. Asi’s emotions wash through the network, but Wright tries to offset them by focusing on her own feelings of concern and excitement. Perhaps some of that will give Asi another anchor as she works through this information.

“This is a good thing,” she says. “You are human. You’re you.” She emphasises the words with a soft squeeze of Asi’s shoulder. While Wright may not have understood exactly what Asi had meant earlier, this seems like clear proof that whatever anxieties she had about not being human were unfounded.

Elliot takes his time to carefully index the memory, creating association objects in the Gymnasium. He looks up to those gathered. “Colin Verse, a technopath with a standing bounty relating to crimes committed during the war, is alive,” he says. “He appeared to Asi in some sort of simulation by way of the ‘millions of dollars of cybernetics’ in her head.”

“It seems he was directly involved in whatever experiment happened between the abduction and the crash. He claimed to be an unwilling participant, and also said he was going to get her ‘out of here’, which I presume meant the ACTS on the plane.” He doesn’t speculate on whether or not Verse was the cause of the crash.

"You're not going anywhere, Tetsuyama," comes Zachery's firm addition from his side of the room. He's looking at Asi directly this time, having risen from his seat some time between her rejoining them and falling back down. "At least not for a few hours. You're fine here, or in a— wind-down room on-site."

He flicks a glance toward Delilah. That was prepped, right.

A pen he's holding is gripped too tightly - whatever information now out in the open seems to do little for the mood he's been in, even if he does breathe a little easier when he sits down again, continuing to take notes on one of the machines before the details are able to slip from his mind. "So she's herself," said to the tune of 'I told you so'. "And… well. I suppose she got out eventually, but if taking the whole plane down was part of the plan, then that was— the equivalent of hammering a nail in with a school bus, no?"

Asi's fitful attempts to get up or quell her emotions are exactly why Delilah hasn't gone far, just a step away; she extends a hand to catch the other woman if she needs to, but thankfully the bag below does the heavy work, and Wright is there now as well. Elliot's assessment of what happened on the inside mostly goes over Dee's head; despite that, she knows well enough to file away names and such for later.

Miller's insistence is a touch surprising in the moment, at least when he directs a brief look her way. Lilah just nods twice, mouth a firming line. Not prepped, per se, but doable on the fly. The redhead does form a discerning look for his words on the crash, of which she has only had a minimal recap of. A gentle voice tacks on, "…Whatever made it come down, making it sound like deliberate overkill isn't helping either." Asi's already a hot mess.

“Verse…” Dana mumbles the name, brows knit together. She looks distracted by it coming up, which means every available mental thread is spinning up something pertaining to him. She looks back to Asi, then around at the others and nods. “I should get this data back to SESA immediately, they’ll want to know the Verse connection. He’s been on our watch lists since the military went after Georgia Mayes.”

Packing up her laptop, Dana looks at the assistant technicians with a nod of thanks, then turns her attention to Elliot. “If you could provide me with a written account of what you saw it would be extremely helpful, in the event that there’s further details that might not have appeared significant at the time. They have my contact information at the front desk.”

Dana looks over at Asi again, jaw set and worry in her eyes. Then, with a look down to her feet she considers the many grave implications of what was unearthed here, and shakes her head again.

“If Asi has that much cybernetic technology in her head…” Dana muses, laptop clutched to her chest, “it’s not showing up on an X-Ray, and it might be connected to the cerebral damage the others are experiencing. But I’m not well-versed on cybernetics,” she explains with a shake of her head. “But I need to get there, understand what kind of software it may be running, otherwise…”

Dana hesitates to even suggest it.

“…the plane might not be the only crash.”

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