Please Do Not Be Mad


kimiko_icon.gif marlowe_icon.gif

Also Featuring:


Scene Title Please Do Not Be Mad
Synopsis Marlowe confronts Kimiko about her own suspicions and learns more than she bargained for.
Date July 27, 2019

“No, have him meet with accounting first. My schedule is too busy.”

Quickly storming past her reception desk, Kimiko Nakamura moves briskly into her spacious office and slowly shuts the door behind herself. “I don’t care what the trade commission says, someone else can handle this. I have a CFO, don’t I? Exactly where is Kensuke?” A self-satisfied smile crosses Kimiko’s lips at the answer she gets on the other side. “Then it looks like his vacation just got cut short.”

Terminating the call, Kimiko starts to move toward her desk. But as she’s halfway there a holographic ball of white light manifests over the desk, forming into the concentric rings of Jiba’s self-representative symbol. «Hello President Nakamura,» the synthesized voice emits through hidden speakers.

“Hello Jiba,” Kimiko says in a terse voice, not quite sure how the AI was active in the room while she was out. As she takes two more steps Jiba chimes in again.

«Please do not be mad.»

Kimiko stops and blinks a look over to the hologram.


President’s Office

Yamagato Building

Yamagato Park, NYC Safe Zone


6:33 pm


Despite the voice being softly spoken and feminine, it carries a creepy pitch. A brown-skinned hand appears, bedecked in glittering metal rings and iridescent nail polish, rising up and clasping on the edge of the desk. Following it, an array of thickly, naturally curled strands compiled into a fro that can only belong to Technology Director Marlowe Terrell.

The woman pushes up over the edge of the desk, eyes golden in the irises and tiny electric blue-white sparks zapping at the edges of a piece of elastic rubber she'd used to contain the hair as she works under Kimiko's desk.

Marlowe lifts her chin proudly, her gaze slowly reverting back to the normal brown once she squares a pinning stare on the woman who owns the company. Technically, Marlowe's boss.

"You've been avoiding me."

“Nanite kotoda,” Kimiko mutters as she pinches the bridge of her nose with forefinger and thumb. “Jiba— ”

«I said: Please do not be mad.»

And then Jiba’s hologram disappears from top of the desk.

Exhaling a sigh through her nose, Kimiko cracks one eye open and— Marlowe is still there. “Good evening Director Terrell,” she’s trying not to dignify this entire exchange, playing it off as if nothing is weirdly awry at all as she circles the long way round to her chair behind her desk. There’s a clatter as he toe hits something, knocking an empty paper coffee cup over.

How long were you in here?” Kimiko’s words are as strangled as they are confused.

When she's finished fussing with the elastic, Marlowe has gained a new ring on her left pointer finger. "Don't blame Jiba. At least he convinced me not to plant a device that plays Careless Whisper on the office floor on loop every time you sat in your chair."

Said ringed pointer finger drum-taps on Kimiko's desk. "Long enough to know that you've had enough coffee to put you on my caffeine schedule." But all stares aside, Marlowe leans against the desk edge the way a certain International PR personnel would. Monica's habits, or Marlowe's natural inclination? She can make the guess. But there is a certain physicality to the engineer's next gesture, a lift of her hand to swing side to side as she speaks.

"You've been running around everywhere dealing with things. And, well, I kept getting turned away by your receptionist. We need to talk. About a lot of things." Marlowe's gaze turns over her shoulder for a moment, then it's back on the other woman, the barest perceptible bracing for getting turned down again evident in her stiff shoulders.

Eyes closed and momentarily statue-still, Kimiko exhales a slow breath and allows her brows to rise up in a relaxed expression of both surprise and acceptance. “You have five minutes,” Kimiko says as she settles down into her desk chair.

And waits.

And when Careless Whisper doesn’t start playing, she blinks a look over to Marlowe that is at once expectant and patient.

Five minutes. Marlowe’s initial expression flits with an embracing of the opportunity presented. “Jiba, onegai,” she speaks to the assumed everpresent AI. Into the photoreactive air, an advanced CAD specification drawing shimmers into view. It’s the YX Cestus arm, which Marlowe gestures to and its parts animate to blow out into cross-sections.

A few key parts highlight in bright red outlines.

“I was going over the specifications of the Cestus, and what I found was…” she starts, pauses, and looks back at Kimiko in a long stare. “Thermite charges, with remote detonation rigs? A concealed neurotoxin storage bank next to the Nevrazene compartment, labeled as a backup! And not as a defense mechanism but as a kill switch.” Marlowe's nature is to get excitable when dealing with mechanical engineering issues. And defensively aggressive when affronted. “Sore wa taihen na mondai desu,” she sweeps between Kimiko and the floating display. “What the hell was all this for? Monica was PR, not a— she left that life behind when she joined our team!”

Not that the mentioned bearer of the Cestus was currently in possession of it, but the director’s bond to Monica had been steadfast. So was her tie to the company. “I want… I want this explained,” she comes out with, straightening in posture as she regards the seated president.

Kimiko pinches the bridge of her nose with forefingers and thumb and slowly leans back into her seat with a supple freak of leather. “Jiba, kill all outbound transmission lines and jam across all frequencies.”

«Done, Ms. President»

A red light shines at the corner of Kimiko’s desk where once there was none. “I'm honestly surprised Monica didn't tell you herself.” Suddenly Marlowe is talking to a different person, or it feels like it. Gone is Kimiko’s tense and rigid posture, gone is her precise tone of voice and formal vocabulary. Even her expression changes so much that with the way the tension lifts from her brow she looks subtly other.

“I need you to answer a question for me, Marlowe.” Kimiko says, motioning with one hand in the air, slouched back into her chair like a deflated parade balloon. “In what reality does it make sense for a public relations liaison to have a cybernetic arm with ballistic shielding, enhanced strength, and a musculoskeletal enhancement? None of that is needed for fine motor control if she wanted to continue playing the violin.”

One of Kimiko’s dark brows rise slowly. “Monica really didn't tell you?”

“That- that wasn’t the point of those added enhancements,” Marlowe states, blinking at the shift in the executive, unsettled by the command to jam frequencies. Slowly, she approaches the desk from where she had been standing to articulate the arm display.

The distance between her and Kimiko lessens. “We knew these prosthetics were aimed to appeal to not just the public market.” Marlowe presses painted lips together for a finely tailored if conflicted moment. Her eyes shift off Kimiko, staring at her reflection off the sheen of the desk. “We… we wanted them to give opportunities where there normally wouldn’t be. This country, these people who suffered a war. To give them a chance to be able to rebuild, to make their homes again with two hands, and stand on their two feet.” But as much as she iterates the logic behind those enhancements, Marlowe is crumbling.

Her gaze lifts back up to Kimiko’s arched brow. “What should she have told me?”

“Monica was an assassin.”

Kimiko’s brows furrow when she rips off the band-aid, following it with a deep breath and a sharp sigh through her nose. “She was hired because of her skills, Marlowe. The entire Public Relations department has been, since my father’s time, a secret weapon wielded against Yamagato’s enemies. What you were told, the lie you believed, was Monica’s cover story.”

Bracing her head with splayed fingers and an elbow propped up on the arm of her chair, Kimiko seems already drained by the weight of this conversation on her conscience. “It's true we used the arm for all the purposes you were told, for veterans, to help promote a better future. But that future has been paid for in blood for years upon years. Monica knew what she was signing when she joined us, and that it was a lifetime commitment.”

Kimiko’s eyes lid partway and her brows crease together. “If it weren't for her, the people on Praxis’ side of the fence would have killed us all a long time ago. This entire company, my entire legacy, is leveraging my father's fortune and his insight to make the world a better place. We build with one hand, and we protect with the other. And sometimes, we fail.”

By contrast, Marlowe reacts to the reveal of Monica's true career path with a soft, near imperceptible gasp. The woman's eyes go wide, like Kimiko had come up from behind her and shanked a vital organ. Every subsequent statement following, another slide of an invisible blade into the soft, exposed beliefs that had held her together for so long. She shuts her eyes tight against hot, wet tears forming. When the tears finally loosen and fall, Marlowe doesn't stop them.

Really look at Yamagato Park, Monica had told her. And then look at the Safe Zone.

She turns her head away at the thoughts that tumble, clearly awash in all the interactions and scenarios that have happened through the years.

"Usotsuki," breathes the woman when at last she regains her voice, strained like an overtightened screw. Her eyes snap back open, once more pinning on Kimiko and meeting the lidded gaze. "Uso dake, uso bakkari!" The accusation levied comes with heat, invisible flames fanned by an internal panic and surge of adrenaline. Fight or flight. Marlowe's heart, rebelling with her mind.

Suddenly, Marlowe's hands plant on the desk's edge to steady her and she looks briefly weakened, in need of the smooth glass top as a support. "What the fuck, Kimiko?" And while she may have overstepped her bounds in the realm of power and position, Marlowe abandons propriety in light of emotional survival. "What am I supposed to do with that? 'Paid for in blood'? Damasu na! Saying that Praxis would have killed us… They already bom—"

Her rant cuts short. A swell of anger and hurt surges up, and in looking down at her reflection on the desk top again, Marlowe belts out a frustrated yell. Her grip tightens on the edge and blue-white sparks crackle out over the glass as it shatters into an infinite spiderweb, a stringing of all the circumstances that have brought them up to this point into a visceral visual.

From red-tinted watery whites, golden irises stare accusingly again at Kimiko. Her words hissed, demanding. "You need to make this right.”

Kimiko rubs her eyes with one hand again, then brushes her bangs from her face. “That glossy black cabinet has a bottle of thirty year old Suntory Hibiki in it,” is her first step in making anything right. There's a dismissive motion of her hand, making sure Marlowe knows that it's for her, though the sake set on top of the cabinet has cups for two.

“There's nothing to make right,” Kimiko says quietly, even as a few flashes of lightning and a muffled rumble of thunder echo outside. “I never filed Monica’s papers. Everything she signed when I fired her was theatrics. Even… the removal of her arm. My relinquishing Major Tetsuyama back to Japan, all theatrics.” Too tried to sit forward, Kimiko watches the reflection of lightning in her desktop from her slouched position in her chair.

“We were infiltrated, Marlowe. Praxis, all of our worst fears, we are infiltrated. I couldn't just tell Monica to go to Japan, I couldn't tell Asi to go with her, and I certainly didn't know if I could even trust Kaydence with that knowledge. I had to keep the secret as close to my chest as possible. I'm the final signature that didn't get signed, Monica never left Yamagato Industries…” she says with a slow look up to Marlowe. “She just needed to believe it, to do what needs to be done.”

A sharp exhale blows about of Marlowe for that dimissive motion. The mention of the whisky seems to only glance off the surface of the woman's angry glare. Gradually the golden color fades from Marlowe's eyes, darkening back to brown even as her expression turns dour. Disappointment creeps in at the corners, tugging at mouth corners and pushing loose tears down her cheeks.

Marlowe pulls back and away from the desk's edge, clearly still reeling from the previous downward hill of the emotional rollercoaster and only just catching her breath as they climb another. That the leader of the company kept so much a secret, that she wasn't privy to a damn thing.

Marlowe casts a glance over her shoulder to the aforementioned black cabinet in her periphery. After a check back to Kimiko, she turns and strides to it, pushes open the door, extracts the Hibiki and the two cups.

When she returns to Kimiko's desk, setting down the twin cups, it's without a word. Every action is deliberate, measured, a ritual practice. Each cup is poured carefully, filled to its customary capacity with the expensive alcohol. Not a drop spilled or wasted. The whisky sets down with a soft clink of glass on glass. Marlowe sits.

"«You didn't trust them,»" concludes Marlowe with a slip into their shared native tongue. "«You don't trust me. Or, do you, Kimiko-san?»" She reaches over to take her half of the cup count, holding it between her fingers but staring over the cup's brim at the other woman.

“«The last time I trusted someone,»” Kimiko says as she reaches out and takes the small ceramic cup in hand, “«I lost an arm, a leg, and a husband.»” The metallic clink of her prosthetic fingers touching the ceramic is the period on the end of that sentence. But Kimiko doesn’t drink right away. Instead, she reclines back against the seat and nurses the glass.

“«When I was a young girl, my father brought an orphan home. She was… maybe sixteen. I didn’t know then that my father worked for the Company,»” Kimiko begins this story, cradling the cup between her hands, “«but I always wondered about her. My mother didn’t speak of her often, only in hushed tones to my father. My younger brother didn’t like her, and truth be told neither did I. She only lived with us for a year before Kaito found her a proper home, but she stayed around our family, working at this business.»”

Now, Kimiko drinks. All of it.

“«I was five years old the first day I met Kam Nisatta,»” and Kimiko’s dating of that moment, with her as a child and Kam sixteen, doesn’t correspond to either of their apparent ages. “«When my father died, he left a small fortune to her. A seat on the board of Yamagato Industries, and a lifetime of mentorship that he divided between his biological children and Kam.»”

Kimiko leans forward, setting the glass down on the desk. “«Kam repaid that in blood. It turns out she has been conspiring with Adam Monroe, behind my back, for at least six years. I trusted her like family, and she repaid that trust by turning everything against me. It was her espionage that led to the death of my husband, the death of Kin Egami and all those people in the bombing.»”

The expression on Kimiko’s face is one of absolute disgust, so much so that she’s shaking. “«She didn’t return to Japan.»” Kimiko blinks a look up to Marlowe. “«I killed her in this office.»”

In several moments through the story, Marlowe looks like she has questions. But she doesn't ask them and doesn't interrupt, taking a slower drink of the whisky. Normally she'd be appreciating the drink and the company, engaging in unplanned boisterous behavior.

Kimiko can see the moment the whisky sours, right about the same time the accusation of Kam's espionage leads to the bombing of Yamagato. Following that, the confession to a murder.

"«That's a lot to have weighing on your conscience,»" Marlowe equivocates as she takes a second drink that empties her cup. Given both glasses set down, she leans forward to pour out another serving for the both of them. Cost be damned.

Another sip follows, silence broken by another name dropped. "«And Erizawa?»" Marlowe looks almost visibly pained as she considers the involvement of the company's chief of security. And others.

Marlowe straightens in her seat. "«Otomo? Just how deep is this crack in Yamagato's foundation? How many more have to be hurt or die for this secret war?»" Her chin lifts, her brows too. "«I fought in one already, and it'll be too soon before I'm drafted into another.»"

Kimiko laughs, bitterly, and takes a swig of her whiskey with all the grace of a dockworker. “«You were drafted in to this war the moment you were born,»” she says with a flinty tone of voice. “«The true power behind Praxis Heavy Industries is a three-hundred year old man who helped found the Company, murdered my father, and has been slowly accumulating power and influence for a decade since well-intentioned idiots accidentally let him out of a prison.»”

Looking down at her muted reflection in the glass, Kimiko shakes her head. “«Eizen has been with my family for years. He knows all of the Nakamura family’s darkest secrets. His father worked for my father. You could call him… my retainer. Hachiro…»” Kimiko shakes her head. “«He isn't a part of this. I didn't want you to be either, but I assumed Monica may have told you. I… honestly am surprised at her candor. She's very good at what she does.»” Once again, Kimiko drinks.

“«And…»” Kimiko’s dark eyes lift to meet Marlowe’s. “«This isn't about conscience. I do not feel remorse for a single thing I've done. I just feel tired. Because one way or another… this war is ending soon.»” Kimiko sets down her glass and pushes it in front of herself. “«One way or another.»”

Lips pressed together, Marlowe contemplates quietly as the woman before her expresses no remorse for the events that have transpired. She can feel the creases of skin when her brow pulls together, and the faintest relief of Hachiro Otomo not being an accessory to all of the hidden misdeeds dragged out into the space between them. The note of assumption about Monica earns Kimiko another sharp glare. She bites back a retort, takes a drink and twists the glass in hand.

"«It's always some man»," she sighs frustratedly over top of her drink, dark eyes meeting tired ones. "«But. This doesn't explain his actions against this company. Why go after you? If he were that angry, that powerful, he could have finished us all off last April.»"

Marlowe pushes back up to her feet to pace before the shattered desktop. She only gets a few feet's worth of traveling in, stopping to sling down the rest of the drink and then motioning, pointing, to Kimiko with the empty glass holding hand. "Why would an ancient-ass man, three hundred years old, act like he's three?" Her English switchback contains emphasis on the oddities. "If he was holding some grudge against your father and killed him for it, then shouldn't he have been done by then? If Adam was interested in a hostile takeover, he could have gained enough wealth over three lifetimes to do whatever he wanted."

Her head shakes, cheeks warmed not just by the alcohol but by simmering anger. The accusatory gesture lowers, her hand falling to her side. Marlowe stares briefly at the half emptied bottle of whisky set upon the desk, at war with the urge to swipe the rest of it and retreat from the field. But she stubbornly holds on. "Just tell me," she pleads after the pause. "What do you want to do? What do you want us - this company - to do?"

Kimiko stays slouched in her chair, shoulders rolled forward and brows creased. Her eyes are cast to the side, narrowed. “I don’t know,” is her answer to everything at the moment, cradling the empty ceramic cup in her hands. “I don’t know why — other than being a fucking narcissist sociopath Adam would continue targeting my family. Maybe he won’t be satisfied until…” she looks down to her lap, “until every last Nakamura is dead.” Blinking a look back up to Marlower, Kimiko is clearly put-upon by the weight of this entire situation.

“Yamagato Industries is more than just me, I would be just as egocentric as Adam if I thought any other way,” Kimiko explains, leaning forward to set her glass down on the desk with a soft clink. “The company must continue attempting to build a better world. It’s why I’ve tried to keep people like you and Hachiro out of this… shadow war. Because at its heart this company is an investment in the future.” She looks down to the desk, to her muddied reflection. “But in the margins of our expenses, the only way I can continue to fight the cancer Adam represents is by leveraging my father’s fortune and… everything I have to stopping him.”

Casting her eyes toward the door, Kimiko grows quiet. “For now, all I want you to do is leave for the night.”

“We can continue this talk later.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License