Rock, Paper, Scissors


alvin_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Rock, Paper, Scissors
Synopsis Monica reunites with an old Ferrymen acquaintance. Alvin is mistrustful.
Date April 19, 2018

Yamagato Park

For the past few days, Eileen Ruskin has been a specter around Yamagato, seen in shadows and through security cameras as she leisurely explores the building like a lanky, black overdressed cat. Her face is exactly as Monica remembers it, but her clothes are unlike the pragmatic wool and leather that the former Ferrymen council member used to bundle herself in. Instead she looks chic, more French than English in long black slacks that tie high on her waist and white blouse with a plunging neckline. A velvet blazer in deepest emerald green completes her outfit, which doesn't look terribly out of place with the way New York street fashion has been trending lately.

She's at least done her research.

She's chosen a perch in one of the brighter corners of the building this morning, and lounges on a communal sofa between a window looking out over the district and a living wall of lush, vibrant greenery that spans the distance between the floor and the ceiling. Yamagato employees call it the vertical garden with good reason; it's complete with its own koi pond, miniature waterfall, and shamisen music piped in through the building's speaker system.

Her heels are tucked neatly under the sofa on the floor so she can place her bare feet on the furniture's edge without guilt as she jots down notes inside a journal, fountain pen poised between long, pale fingers.

Monica, at least, is in a position to have been forewarned about the possibility of seeing the ghost around, maybe to help her not freak out when they inevitably ran into each other. Therapist's recommendation, no doubt. She's been benched, so this morning has her away from any sort of office. She looks— well, mostly the same as last time she and Eileen crossed paths, aside from the cybernetic arm and the very crisp suit that she's sporting. She's come up in the world, one might assume. Far from hoodies and sleeping on rooftops, anyway.

Actually seeing Eileen still gets a blink from her, though. But just a blink. It's hardly the strangest situation either she or Eileen have experienced. So she makes her way over, claiming a spot on the couch. Gently, so as not to ruin her writing.

"I'll be damned. You look well for dead."

Alvin is shadowing Eileen today. Or has been for the last half hour since he replaced one of the other security guys so they could go home. He's quiet, unobtrusive, and doesn't stick too close to her, giving her a bit of space. He's got some things of his own that he can tend to while he keeps an eye on her. He's currently leaned back against a spot of wall twenty feet or so back. One hand is tucked into the pants pocket of his pressed grey slacks, the other is holding a small tablet that his thumb occasionally swipes against as he looks through something. Security stuff more than likely. Alvin doesn't do personal things when he's on the clock, so it's undoubtedly something security related. Procedure reviews, things like that. Not things he has any authority on, but things he gets conferred with on. He's billed as a security specialist after all. His head lifts when he sees someone approaching, but there's no concern when he spots Monica, just a slight nod in greeting before he ostensibly looks back down at the tablet, though really he's watching the approach still at the edge of his vision, observing.

"Don't let appearances deceive you," Eileen tells Monica, "I'm as melancholy as ever."

That's a joke. Maybe.

She raises her eyes from the page and shifts her feet closer to her body, making more room for the other woman on the couch even though she isn't taking up very much space as it is. Her pen rests in the cradle of her hand. "It's good to see you," she adds, a little sly. "Very posh."

If she's aware of Alvin's presence in the room, there's nothing about her body language to indicate it, although he can't quite seem to shake the feeling that he, the watcher, is himself being watched.

Eileen lowers her voice. "Your friend is handsome, too. Will you introduce us?"

Monica acknowledges Alvin with a smile and a nod, but her attention is understandably on Eileen. Whose reply gets a chuckle. She's taking it as a joke, even if it's one laced with truth. "Yeah, well, try to smile. You don't want to see the koi when they get sad." The pond gets a look, like she might be checking on their mood, too.

"Oh, thanks," she says, with a glance to her outfit. "It's weird. I have business cards. A phone linked to my actual name. An apartment. It's kinda nice." Her tone implies that this is a surprising turn of events. her gaze flicks back over to Alvin, then back to Eileen with an amused smirk. "Don't blame him, they won't let me give the security staff ninja lessons." And then, louder, "Alvin!" Which really ruins any subtlety he might have been going for. She waves him over, too, so hopefully that work he's doing isn't too important.

Alvin isn't troubled by being watched in return. He'd be probably be more worried if he wasn't being watched in return. He keeps his attention on his tablet for the time being, giving Monica and Eileen their privacy. Or at least the illusion of it. There might just maybe a faint smirk at the melancholy comment. Whether it's a joke or not something about it strikes Alvin as amusing.

"Don't need ninja lessons." Alvin remarks with a small smile as he approaches. Since he's being included in the conversation. By Monica. There's an ever so slight raise of his right brow at her, but amusement colors his features, a slight pull at the corner of his mouth as he walks a little bit closer, the tablet being slipped into the pocket of the suit jacket. It's a small tablet. "Miss Dawson. Miss Ruskin." He moves into a smooth bow, practiced and perfected over years of working for Yamagato.

It's hard to bow when you're already sitting down, and shaking hands seems like a strange formality, so Eileen offers Alvin a gentle smile instead. "Mr. Mott, it's comforting to be able to put a face to your name," she says. "Mr. Erazawa speaks very highly of you."

She folds her journal shut. "I hope you don't mind." Her pen disappears inside her blazer's interior pocket. "President Egami has been so kind to me these past few weeks, I've been wanting to return the favour and was hoping you and Ms. Dawson might be able to help."

Monica also doesn't bow. She lifts a hand to wave. But then, in general, she isn't too keen on formalities except in very special cases. "Everybody can use ninja lessons, Alvin," she notes, a personal opinion that she doesn't mind stating as fact. And seeing as she doesn't need to actually do any introducing, she lets the two of them sort it out themselves. In fact, her attention seems to drift off into the middle distance. Perhaps the melancholy is catching.

But the use of her name brings her around again and she smiles over at Eileen. "What did you have in mind?" After all, the President has taken good care of her, too. Even if she already returns the favor.

There might be a touch of surprise that shows on Alvin's face when Eileen uses his last name. His lips part to speak, to ask a question but she answers it when she mentions Mr. Erazawa. "That is good to hear." He admits with another small smile of his own. "I'd be happy to help in any way that I can." Implicit in that is that it doesn't break Yamagato rules or anything of that nature. Because that he most certainly won't do. "What were you thinking on?" He shifts his stance just a bit, a step back and to the left to put him in easier conversation position to both the others.

"Ninja lessons are never a bad thing no Miss Dawson. That much is very true." He just… doesn't need them. There's another small softly amused smile on his lips, a tilt of his head to her in acknowledgement of her point though.

"Yamagato's technology is cutting-edge," Eileen says, "and their security is the most advanced on the East Coast, but there are still weak spots— points of vulnerability that can't be combated by even the fastest computer processors." She stretches out her legs, toes curling. "Because they're human."

She swings her feet over the side of the sofa and place them flat on the floor. "Someone with the right ability, or combination of abilities, could still infiltrate this building. Vanguard was extremely good at that sort of thing, and I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility to assume that President Egami's enemies have access to the same recruitment pool Volken did."
This line of thinking that Eileen brings to the table, it brings a more serious demeanor from Monica. She's had her run-ins with Vanguard through the years. Hard to forget, that.

"I think it's pretty much a given, yeah," she says. Not that she has any real place to be making such a claim, but she does it anyway. And with enough authority in her tone to imply that she has no reason to question this assumption and neither should anyone else.

"Fact is, there's no way to know what sort of abilities are or could be and that makes them difficult to build security against. Not to mention the variations on known abilities that would need to be accounted for and basically, it's a giant mess. We know," she says with a glance toward Eileen, "that being back into a corner makes people creative. That's also difficult to plan for."

"Yes, yes they were Miss Ruskin. They were very good at that sort of thing. Probably still are." Alvin admits, his head tipping to the side a moment as he considers that. "I have a difficult time believing they've been uprooted entirely." Alvin admits with a little half shrug of one shoulder, though his tone of voice suggests his own personal experience with them in the past. "But we have planned for as many Evolved abilities as we can, and as many skill sets as we can. But there is no such thing as perfect security. Or a perfect plan. And new insights should never be turned away without careful consideration."

"Oh it's not that hard to plan for. Planning is easy. But plans rarely survive the actual engagement they've been made for. Most people have a fight or flight response. People infiltrating are more likely to have a flight response to avoid discovery of their identity. Because then they can always try again. Though sometimes they stop and fight instead. Also easy to plan for. Variables of abilities can be difficult admittedly. But if someone is say incredibly fast… the why or how of them being incredibly fast is usually besides the point. You just have to know how to deal with someone who can move or react at incredible speeds. Of course again… no such thing as a perfect plan. And blanket reactions won't work for everything." A meaningful glance to Monica. After all, tricks won't work on her more than once.

"We start with a list," Eileen suggests, her hand on the cover of her journal, "of known abilities, and our working knowledge of how they commonly manifest. Invisibility, phasing, or even something as complex as, say, quantum movement. Then we identify other abilities with a demonstrated record of being able to counter or withstand it."

She reaches up and tucks a flyaway strand of brown-black hair behind her ear and the rhinestone earring that dangles there. "Think of it like an elaborate game of rock-paper-scissors. We can play together."

Monica has no comment on Vanguard's status, possible status, theorized status or any such line of thought. There is only a look sent Eileen's way, a lifted eyebrow, and a nod toward Alvin. "You're right about that. The responses have to be as varied as possible. Adaptable. Unpredictable." Her gaze flicks toward Alvin, to adds, "I did security for a while." Before her bosses blew up their own building for reasons.

"Ugh, quantum movement is such a pain." Monica smiles, though, because she's always up for this sort of game. "Alright. That sounds doable. Make sure time nonsense is on there because that one is the worst." That's its technical name.

"We can certainly add to our existing list. And I can speak with Mister Erizawa and see if I can furnish you with that existing list so there's no double work going on. I'm sure he'd be more than happy to include the insights of someone with your unique experience." Alvin was able to add to that list rather extensively himself. His time with the Company was a fruitful time knowledge wise. "Quantum movement being instantaneous teleportation without passing through the space between?" He asks of Eileen with a curious note to his voice.

"Time nonsense." Alvin murmurs with a faint chuckle. "Time manipulation is almost impossible to counter without having your own temporal manipulator. Quantum movement is often fairly limited. Many teleporters are limited by line of sight. And the ones who aren't still require knowledge of where they're going. At least in my experience. I know that there are the rare occasions where someone capable of teleportation doesn't. Though in cases such as that it's usually more of a temporal displacement than a quantum."

"Time nonsense," echoes Eileen, "is more common in our circles that you've been led to believe, and finding Yamagato its own temporal manipular, assuming the president doesn't already have one hidden up his sleeve, is exactly what I mean to do."

She rises from the sofa in a stretch, limbs unfolding like an anemic, pale flower opening its petals. "Let's take a walk. Start at the beginning."

"You should never feel safe, Alvin," Monica says, her smile crooked. "For every limitation you believe in, there's an evolved who doesn't believe in any." She lifts her eyebrows there, a playful sort of expression, like this might be part of the game.

She stands with Eileen, nodding to her observation. "Way more common. I mean… They have to have Hiro on tap, right?" If anyone can even pin him down.

Alvin doesn't seem surprised by Eileen's statement about time nonsense. But then he's been privy to quite a bit of the time nonsense that's gone on. Not all as not all is known outside certain circles, but a lot. "I'm quite sure the company's possession of a time manipulator would be knowledge quite above the level of anyone standing here. I also doubt the company would turn away the resource that another temporal manipulator would offer." After all it would be flat out stupid to do so. And the people that run Yamagato are not stupid.

Alvin is assigned security, so if Eileen is walking so is he, his hands tucked into the pockets of his suit as he starts to walk with the pair. "Safety is an illusion Miss Dawson. But you already know that. And trust me when I say that I am intimately aware of that fact as well. The last time I felt truly safe, the Vanguard kicked down the door of my apartment in Paris and chased me through the streets for two days before I managed to lose them."

"I'm sorry about that," Eileen says, bending at the middle to slip one foot and then the other into her heels. She runs the edge of her finger along the shoe's lip to ensure a comfortable fit. "Daiyu was nothing if not persistent, that old snake."

She makes it sound like she was there, and maybe she was. "Nakamura moves backwards and forwards." Eileen draws a sharp, straight line in the air. "You want someone who rewinds time, not someone who travels back and forth on their own volition. Popping all about averting disaster is all well and good, but it doesn't do shit for the people who are left behind.

"Yes, I do," Monica states evenly, as to the matter of safety being an illusion. "Don't apologize, Eileen. It's an important lesson, yeah? But then again, here we are talking about how to build up our own safe illusion." A gesture is made to the room around them.

"On that, we agree. Alaska taught me something, you know? All that hopping around averting disaster, all the futures we were supposed to be murdering? It was kinda bullshit. Bit disappointing, that." Her tone, oddly enough, is still chipper. She could be commenting on the koi pond again. "Did you have someone in mind? A time rewinder. Temporal VCR."

"It was a long time ago. But I haven't forgotten the lesson it taught me. Never be complacent." That name though is one he didn't have, and one he tucks away in his memory to look into later as he walks along, his steps slow and even. "The illusion isn't for us. The illusion is for everyone else. The people outside the walls. The people who want inside the walls. The people who want what Yamagato has. The illusion is for those who don't realize that safety is just that." He does fish the tablet out of his pocket to check on something before tucking it back in, probably just a check in with main security or something.

He's pretty curious too about Eileen's response to Monica's question. "There is no question that Hiro Nakamura caused a great deal of chaos. Something that troubled his father to no end." There's a faint and slightly fond smile on Alvin's lips as he says that.

"Yes, that." A temporal VCR, Eileen means. She starts across the room, heels tack sharp underfoot. "And a clairvoyant. Psychic medium, oracle— precognitive. Whatever they call them these days." The Englishwoman wags a dismissive hand at that. The world she left behind is much different than the world she woke up in; there was a time when people just called them Evolved. Now it's SLC-Expressive, and she's still having a difficult time committing that to memory.

A lot can change in just six years.

"Do you have a clairvoyant?" she asks.

"Alvin, that was practically poetry," Monica says, teasing a little. But she doesn't disagree with him, in fact she seems a little more settled once he explains who he builds his illusion for.

"I'm not sure. Alvin's in a position to know more than I am. My… supervisor doesn't really like our department mingling with others. But Barbara's here, at the very least. I'm not sure she— but then, she probably would in a pinch, at least, yeah?" Monica looks over at Eileen, then over at Alvin, "I know a precog, but uh. I mean, her predictions are tops, but her stability is shaky."

Even if Yamagato had a Clairvoyant Alvin isn't sure that's information he could give out, so he keeps quiet on the subject, offering no indication one way or the other. "Clairvoyant works. The official terms are just another way to try and control what can't really be controlled. SESA seems to be pretty adamant about people using them though. It's fun to use the wrong terms and watch them twitch. Like it's a personal affront to them that we don't use their new terms for the Evolved. Makes regular people feel inferior."

"Practical poetry." Alvin quips with a wink and a brief smile. Though that smile disappears with a blank look. "If you're referring to Miss Mas…" The NOPE is clear and strong on his features. All the NOPE. "Unfortunately Miss Ruskin I'm not sure what level of information access you're to be afforded so I wouldn't be able to give any kind of answer to the question of whether we have a Clairvoyant or similar ability available to us." All in a flat, monotone 'company line' sort of voice.

“Corporate secrets.” Eileen’s mouth curves. “I understand. I’ll just prepare the report, shall I? Let Mr. Erazawa do with it as he pleases.” She leads them around the edge of the bubbling koi pond, past the vertical garden just as the misters pop on, washing all three of them in a fine, refreshing cloud of microscopic water droplets.

They bead and cling in Alvin’s hair and on Monica’s eyelashes. Eileen turns her face up toward the spray, and lets out a high, giddy laugh. Her hands go to her cheeks, wiping away the water’s sheen and some of her eye make-up, which comes off black on her fingertips. “Fucking brilliant. I love it here.”

"Look, I'm agreeing with you," Monica says to the implied nope, although it comes with a laugh. And, she asides to Eileen, "Transitioning from terrorist-freedom-fighter to law-abiding-citizen was easier on some of us than others of us." She glances over at Alvin, though, as he explains his opinions about word choice. Her own opinions aren't stated, but it might be clear that she disagrees with something in there.

The mention of Mr. Erazawa gets a smile, perhaps a wistful sigh, but it comes at about the same time as the mist turns on. She watches Eileen, her smile turning warmer at the laugh. She hasn't spent time dead, but she can understand how Eileen's circumstances would make someone appreciate the little things.

Her hand, the flesh-and-blood one, comes out to feel the spray, too, although it is the other arm she's thinking of when she notes, "I love it here, too."

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