Right Hand, Left Hand


skyler_icon.gif evan_icon.gif

Scene Title Right Hand, Left Hand
Synopsis Harlem's latest power couple compare notes on subversive activities, and come to suspect that the same people are pulling them into the bigger picture.
Date December 17, 2010

Skyler's apartment

Sky's efficiency apartment is a spartan thing. The style'd be called Japanese minimalist, if it wasn't so obviously "I have zero cash and I want the place to look like Japanese Minimalist." There's a big beanbag chair with blankets, sheets, and pillows next to it. There's a shoji screen that separates that off from the rest of the room that looks nice enough until you get close and realize that it's cardboard and copier paper, and hand made. And there's a low, polished wood table that is, on close inspection, an ordinary table with its legs cut very, very short. Probably another Goodwill refugee. The floor looks vaguely like tatami, but turns out to be made of indoor playground matting. And on top of the matting are computers. Lots of computers. A whole network of computers, ranging from one modern macbook air to obvious dumpster refugee computers. Also, there are tools - soldering iron, magnifier, flux paste, solder, a toaster oven.

The kitchenette is more ordinary. The fridge has the usual quick to prepare meals in it. There are a few pots and pans, most dating to the 1970s, like the silverwear and plates.

Bathroom? Itty bitty tub, shower, toilet, sink. Plunger, super-soaker, rubber duck, and so forth. Sky lives simply, at least in her real life.

Skyler is sitting, legs folded in lotus, in the middle of her efficiency apartment. Her eyes are closed, sunglasses on the floor beside her. There aren't many monitors in the room, so it's hard to see what she's doing, but the various drive lights on the working computers flicker, and whatever it is that's growing on the circuitry breadboard in front of her flickers some LEDs now and again. All rather unobvious. If this were the movies, there'd be cool graphics of where Sky is going on the net, and what she's doing there. But this isn't the movies, and her macbook air is in screensaver mode. Her eyes do flick back and forth under her eyelids, like someone in REM sleep. Maybe that's it.

The door creaks a little as Evan lets himself in, setting down a box of takeout pizza before locking it again behind him. He starts to call out a greeting to Skyler— but oh, she's in the middle of her work, it seems. Can she see or hear him at all while she's in this state? Looking over the oldest survivors among the relics, he leans over the nostalgic keyboard of a blocky light-blue-on-dark-blue screen and taps in a message of sorts.


The computer answers immediately, "HELLO WORLD." A moment later, this scrolls off the screen. "Hello Evan. :)" it says. "The Matrix has you." Sky can't timeshare much just from her brain. But whichever computer she's connected to? It can. With barely a flicker of effort. The cryptic message is followed up by, "Pizza. Give me a sec." And with that, the flickering lights on the various computers drop back down to their normal levels, and Sky's eyes open. "Hey hon." She says, and smiles. "Welcome to my little corner of the world."

"Isn't the Matrix supposed to be green?" Evan says, mostly to himself, before sitting down next to the dwarf cousin of a coffee table and waiting for her to pull herself out of the trance. "I like what you've done with the place. Are they hooked up to the outside world yet, or does it just cover the room?"

Skyler laughs and untangles her legs. "I'm still looking at options for net access. I'll probably just go with cable modem, and gateway it through that one." She points at one of the older PCs. "Make it run route-d, I guess. Old fashioned, but it works. I'm on a budget here." She gets up and walks over to Evan. "You really like this place? I mean… I tried, but in my mind it keeps looking cool, and through my eyes it keeps looking like a complete shut-in lunatic lives here amid her delusions of grandeur.

That went slightly past Evan's own computer savvy, so he merely shrugs and takes it at face value. "I do, yeah," he says, answering her other question instead. "No one's going to ocnfuse it with a Victorian dollhouse or anything, but— well, you can tell that you actually paid attention to what was going into it. A lot of places don't have that at all."

Skyler nods a little. "I discovered, after five minutes on Ikea's website, that I have a champaign taste. And a Rebel Yell budget." She chuckles and sprawls back on the floor, resting her head on her elbow to keep up eye contact. "I've done some initial research on the job you wanted me to do. I wanted to make sure they haven't changed anything on me. So far so good. I'll let you know."

"Fingers crossed. I haven't had any problems with it so far, at least. And if anyone ever questions why I didn't take the subway for X number of months…" Evan shrugs, pulling the pizza box closer and opening it up. Pepperoni and mushrooms. Was that the one she used to go in for? Is it still? "Well, I could come up with an explanation, but anyone bothering to dig that deep might not trust the card anyway."

Skyler nods. "I would avoid using the card until I tell you, frankly. I'm still figuring out how to put an existing number into the system and not have it flag it as an error. Or worse. There's a pretty good chance you're going to wind up with a new card mailed to your address when I'm done, but I might be able to sneak it in as a correction, if I can figure out how to tell the system that no, you have a valid number, it's just lost the data on it." Sky chuckles. "Now this brings back memories. All that's missing is a bottle of gin and some glasses. Other than a life of sin and misery dodging the law and hanging out with loose women… namely me… what've you been up to?

"Other than all that - and the day job and the engineering research - well, I picked up an interesting batch of data a couple of days ago." The top of the box is pulled down again, serving as a makeshift plate while Evan relays the story.

"Apparently there's a group of people trying to look into the future, do their best to keep things from getting really bad. Mass die-offs from disease, a second civil war, that sort of thing. I guess. Anyway, they think some people are coming back in time and trying to screw things up to their own benefit, and they want to see if I can figure out anything new about it all… It's all anonymized, though, pretty tough to wade through any of it."

Skyler is just about to take a bite out of a slice of pizza when Evan drops that bomb. She just… stares at him. "Wait. Are you talking /time travel/? Evan… are you serious?" Sky takes a bite out of the slice of pizza. "Where did you get this data, if you don't mind me asking."

"She is, anyway. Says they aren't sure that's what it is, but they think so. I mean, with all the other abilities running around there, it's not exactly out of the question— not that I have any idea how it would actually handle a grandfather paradox." Evan, at least, seems to take the concept at face value. "I got the information from a friend of the man I first talked to, I don't know where she got it from. I'd like to learn more about these people, believe me."

Skyler nods slowly. "Can you tell me the name of the man you first talked to? There's so much conspiracy swirling around these days, that the more I start following threads of it, the more I find out it's all interrelated and everyone fucking knows each other."

Evan thinks back— then shakes his head. "You know, I don't think he mentioned it, we just talked for a few minutes and he said he'd call at some point. That was back in July. I'll point him out if I see him again, though. The woman's name is Elisabeth Harrison, does that ring any bells?" Or at least that's what she said it was.

Skyler nods. "Okay." Sky chews her pizza thoughtfully, and gets up, returning moments later with a couple paper towels for herself and a couple for Evan. "This one's your napkin, this one's your plate. Don't mix 'em up." She sits back down and gets another slice of pizza. "Do you know anything about this Cardinal guy I keep hearing about?"

There's a difference between them? Well, whatever; her place, her rules. "Well," Evan continues, "I've seen the guy around a couple other times, in passing. That might be his name, I'm not sure— What have you heard about your guy? Anyone mention what he looks like?"

Skyler shakes her head. "It's like chasing a shadow." Sky sighs. "I'm involved in this clusterfuck somewhere, and I don't even know where. I'm well paid for my involvement, but I keep expecting it to bite me in the rear. I dunno. This wage slave stuff is way more nerve wracking than I expected. I'm starting to think I could make a lot more money with a lot less stress going to Vegas now and then." She blinks. "Come to think of it, you were in that casino when we ran into each other. Does your ability let you see the weaknesses in a slot machine? Like, when it's going to hit?

Evan rolls his eyes. "If only it were that easy. I might be able to, if it was one of the old mechanical types— but these days, they've all got electronics controlling how long they spin. You'd have better luck cracking them than I would. I've tried it with roulette a couple of times, but it always moved so quickly, I ended up getting a headache pretty quickly." He purses his lips at the mention of limited information once again. "Next time I see either of them, I'll ask if they're dropping a lot of cash on any computer experts. I don't know how much we'd actually be able to combine efforts, but at least we'd know that we could talk it over with the same people."

Skyler laughs softly. "Evan, what do you think I was doing in that casino? I wasn't cracking it so much as just watching to see which ones were about to hit anyway, and making sure I bet large on the one I knew was going to hit." She listens and nods. "I'd like to know who these folks are before I get more involved. It'd be kind of embarrassing if I'm already involved, you know? Just to stay off each other's toes."

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