richard4_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Rooted
Synopsis In the midst of a storm, some plans can still tentatively flourish.
Date February 12, 2020

Raytech-Yamagato Greenhouse

On the ground floor of the greenhouse, accessible to both the public and the employees here, is a charming little cafeteria that serves mostly vegetarian fare - but it’s one-hundred percent grown right here in the building, and the promise of fresh produce is enough for even many hardened carnivores to give in to the temptation.

If one were being honest, though, Richard would shoot a man for a Big Mac. He hasn’t had one since the whole country went to hell.

He’s waiting for someone today, settled at a table off in a corner shaded by some lovely potted plants, one elbow resting on the table and a fork held in hand that he’s using to occasionally poke at the salad he’s been served.

It’s a good salad. But it’s not a cheeseburger.

This place may not offer cheeseburgers, but to Yi-Min, its existence is a minor miracle nonetheless. What a contrast it is to the ramshackle efforts of the folks out in the Pine Barrens, who must make do with the tools in their backyards versus this— literally blossoming wealth.

In the middle of winter, too. Not that this presents the slightest problem to the technology employed by Raytech, of course. Yi-Min has a soft expression on her features, shadowed by an upraised hood, on seeing the rows of foliage running down her line of sight.

Not that it's a sight she gets to fixate on for long, because it is sadly not what she has come here for. Her feet soon (too soon) carry her around the corner into view of the little cafeteria, where she spots Richard immediately.

Only when she casually slides herself into the corner seat across from Richard does she reach up, with both her small hands, to lower the hood of her wool coat at last. "Why, hello. It's good to see you back," she says matter-of-factly, her look of greeting now unobscured and plain to see.

“Don’t let anyone try and tell you that Iraq makes a great spot for an impromptu vacation,” Richard says. It’s a joke, but it falls flat. There’s no real humor in it; he’s just going through the motions of making a joke, because that’s what he normally would do. “It sucks.”

He spears a piece of tomato with his fork, head tilting to the counter, “Order something if you want, my treat. I know it’s hard to get fresh fruit and veggies around here. I don’t recommend the ‘Mystery Plate’ though, it’s usually whatever weird hybrid they’ve cooked up in the back. They tried to get me to eat a brussel-sprout-avocado monstrosity once.” A faux-shiver.

"I can imagine. Generally speaking, vacations are better when you are not forced to go on them." Recognizing the tired attempt at levity, Yi-Min quirks a small smile of commiseration. "I appreciate the offer. Strangely enough, fresh vegetables are one of the rather few things we can get around Providence rather reliably." Having multiple agrokinetics around certainly didn't hurt in that regard.

Vegetables aren't what she had come here to talk about, however. Instead, her interest lingers for a moment on the preceding topic: that of Richard's vacation. She sweeps a concerned look up the part of him that is visible above the table. "I’ve heard some of what happened. Are you doing alright?"

“No.” There’s no attempt made to claim Richard’s okay, one shoulder lifting up in a shrug before he devours the tomato on his fork, chewing and swallowing. He motions to her with a fork, “Shedda Dinu handed me off to Mazdak, who killed my cousin and nearly killed me. I’m rather far from alright, right now.” Flat explanations. The flatness not directed to her, but rather the subject matter.

He glances up from the plate to her, eyebrows lifting, “And speaking of Dinu, I understand you’ve completed your mission?”

The honesty is what draws Yi-Min's attention, even more than those words. Her gaze flickers down towards the surface of the table separating them, though without quite seeing it.

"I am truly sorry," she murmurs, lips drawn together grimly. Her voice is all the heavier from the brevity of this moment she has to express her genuine regret. Still, she lets the sentiment linger as long as she can. "If… I can offer any consolation at all, it is that the opportunity is coming to get back at them." When she directs her eyes up to Richard again, finally, he can see that they are as smooth as a gleam of dark iron.

It was not meant to be an empty promise. Not if they played their cards correctly.

When Richard shifts the subject again, her tone withdraws into something milder despite herself, mostly because of the phrasing. Her mission. For herself. How formal it all seemed. "Yes. The handoff happened, on schedule. And while I am not sure I can say it went well with a straight face, it did at least go exactly according to plan."

“I certainly hope so,” Richard agrees in a quiet, dangerous tone of his own, “I suspect that they’ve… already served their purpose and are being left behind as sacrificial fodder, but even so. Mazdak’s the one behind everything, even Adam is just a front, although he doesn’t realize it. We’ve…”

A heavy sigh, and he drops the fork on his plate, “We’ve been outplayed, they’ve been manipulating all of us for a long time. All we can do is hope to catch up. Still, I’m glad that Gorgon wasn’t released, in any form. At least that’s a weight off my mind. Glad I trusted you.”

Yi-Min acknowledges the provision of trust by letting just a little softness into her otherwise stony expression. A small, shrewd upturn of her lips.

"Yes, and hopefully it never will be. Based on the countermeasures we’ve taken, by the time Adam realizes the truth, it should be too late." The pinging of Richard's fork hitting his plate goes unresponded to, at least directly. Yi-Min's brow remains knit in distant thought.

"I will get back to this in a minute. First, I have been intending to ask. What plans do you have for dealing with these fronts? Mazdak. The Dragon. I cannot imagine that you do not have something in the works." Waiting to be outplayed by many different factors doesn't seem to be Richard's style, from everything she knows of him.

“I should have several. I should have teams already in the field. Unfortunately, I have…”

Richard’s expression twists into a grimace, “…nobody to send anymore. I’ve been manipulated into disarming myself, and I’m six steps behind now. I have a few things in the works, I’ve been piecing together everything that the Company knew about this step by step, trying to figure out how they managed to outmaneuver the Dragon back then, how they protected themselves against it. I hopefully will know how the programs they used worked - Umbra, and Tarterus. I’ve got people examining a splinter of the Dragon’s home timeline that it manifested down in Antarctica, of all things, and the information you provided means that Shedda Dinu will be going down soon. Still, we’re moving too slowly— but there’s nothing else we can do.”

“Best I can do is start preparing for the next thing, so I don’t get caught with my pants down. What are your plans? Seems like— “ A brow lifts, “— you’re out of a job.”

"Not officially. Not yet. What Adam sticks his fingers into in Praxis is mostly off the books, and so technically, I still have my job." The wry look forming on Yi-Min's face helps to visualize the quantity of the 'but' that is coming.

"This situation isn't going to last much longer. In the immediate future, my plans are to begin putting the last touches together for an assault on Praxia— something which I have only envisioned for years, but which may finally be on the brink of occurring. I have reached out already to the technopaths Oni and Scylla, and they seem charmingly amenable. Others as well, inside and outside of Praxis." As though in reply to Richard's grimace, Yi-Min's eyelids close for a moment, but there is much less emotion in her own slight change of expression.

"As for the rest, I shall help you in any way I can. Provide you with what I can. I hardly need to mention that the Remnant does not trust you. However… whoever it is that bears responsibility for the release of this monster, I do not think truly it matters right now. There are more important things."

And Richard appears to be hurting.

“I hardly noticed that the Remnant didn’t trust me, what with the way they literally laid siege to my building and killed dozens of my security guards rather than talk to me like fucking normal people,” Richard says in a deadpan tone, twirling the fork in the air before spearing a piece of lettuce and a crouton upon it, “Although, to be honest, I would really appreciate the chance to talk to Eileen right now.”

For reasons.

“Good. Good. Scylla definitely has a grudge, and Oni’s competent, and I think is still on our side,” he frowns thoughtfully, “Although tell Scylla if she gets Transceiver involved in this and he gets hurt I’m going to kick her ass. That kid deserves a better life than we’re living, and we’ve done enough to make sure he gets it.”

He takes in a deep breath, then exhales it, “Just keep me up to date on happenings. If there’s anything I can give, I will. I have some intel that might be… useful if you’re going to assault Praxis directly.”

"As I said. I hardly need to mention it, no?" Yi-Min repeats her own words with a very breezy shrug of one shoulder, the levity of it fully concentrated into her voice as opposed to actually being visible anywhere on her face. But, even that small moment passes when Eileen's name is mentioned, her gaze darkening from airiness back into seriousness.

"Eileen hasn't been doing well," she says with a soft exhale-turned-sigh. "I shall tell her that you want to talk, but. She…"

Has been dealing with things.

Instead of completing that thought, Yi-Min just moves onto the next one, her eyes slightly harder and much more curious at the question of Oni. "Any intel you can give me in turn would be more than welcome. What do you mean by, you 'think' Oni is still on our side?"

“If you do see her, tell her that I…” Richard hesitates a moment, tapping the fork on the plate for a moment, “…need help navigating the graveyard. She’ll know what I mean.”

He takes that bite of salad, chewing, swallowing. “I know that Naidu’s approached Oni already, but I don’t think she’s going to throw in with him. She has too many allies on— our side of things.”

He points the fork at her, “I can give you a— passphrase, as it were, that should get one of the people on Adam’s team on our side, if you run into her. We used to work together, before the war.”

What odd and curiously specific phrasing. Yi-Min's knowing look becomes just a little more firmer yet, but she doesn't question it— and if she recognizes what Richard is talking about, she doesn't say it aloud.

Rather, her silence and slightly lowered chin can be taken as some kind of assent. Probably. "I will gladly take this… passphrase, yes. Who is this person on Adam's team? And, you are familiar with Oni personally, I take it?"

“I try and keep track of everyone worth knowing. Especially since there are about six technopaths with the potential of launching nuclear missiles, and ON1’s on the list,” replies Richard in dry tones, scratching under his chin for a moment, “Which means they absolutely get on the ‘keep track of’ list.”

He shifts and pulls out his phone, flipping through a few things before reversing it and offering a photograph of a woman with long brown hair. “Sabine Hazel,” he offers, “If you run into her, tell her— tell her that I retrieved her copy of The Last Noel from Colobanth, and I’m keeping it safe for her return.”

That’s reasonable enough on both counts. Yi-Min narrows her eyes at the colors of the photograph as Richard presents it to her, absorbing the details of it into her memory. "I honestly have no idea if I shall ever get this opportunity. But, if I do, I will tell her," she promises.

Now, though. She presses an elbow onto the table's edge, curling the end of one hand up against her chin. Back to the more important question she has. "What is the identity of ON1?" she inquires, her tone dangerously level, though not in a way that is directed towards Richard. This technopath’s well-established resentment against Chinese excess, and against Praxis, had seemed real enough. But this was something new and unexpected. "I need to know that they can be trusted, whoever they are. I have risked too much in these past years. Sacrificed too much, to trust an assault on Praxis to this ‘'maybe.'"

A 'maybe' tied to Mazdak, no less.

“She was an infiltrator on my team, assumed dead after the Ark went up… I’m assuming that Adam picked her up thinking she was just some Institute operatives,” Richard says with a shake of his head, drawing the phone back, “Hopefully she hasn’t gone fully loyal to Adam, but— I guarantee you that passphrase will get her to turn on him, even if she is.”

At the other question, he considers his answer for a minute, taking a bite of the salad again. Chew, chew. Swallow. “Asi Tetsuyama, previously with the Mugai-ryu. She’s gotten herself into some deeper tangles right now, so she’s gone mostly underground - and like I said, been taking some jobs from Mazdak. I hopefully have thrown a wrench into there, and I get the strong feeling she doesn’t trust them either. I don’t think she’s going to stab you in the back on this op, but maybe keep an extra eye on her anyway.”

"Asi Tetsuyama," Yi-Min echoes quietly, several of her fingertips suddenly more rigid against the curve of her chin. The name is familiar, and not in a way that brings comfort. "The one who murdered the Japanese minister?"

我的个娘. Her breathing slows, growing more imperceptible as it grows more careful. What kind of can of worms had she potentially just opened? The fingers of her free hand coil gently together, right in front of her— just enough to serve as a distracted representation of discontent. "Would you happen to know her current whereabouts? For the sake of keeping that extra eye on her."

“I’m fairly certain that was a frame job, although…” Richard lifts one hand, fingers splaying a bit before they fall, “…there’s no way to be certain. As for where? Your guess is as good as mine— most of my contact is through the internet.”

Wry, “Always hard to tell with a technopath.”

With a sigh that is entirely internal this time, Yi-Min goes still again, letting the closer of her hands swivel back onto the table's surface. "I understand. Thank you anyhow."

At least now she had a real name to associate with the fake one.

Returning to watching Richard with a more neutral, settled expression, she tips the slightest of nods up at him. "As for the other, Scylla. I can relay your words the next time I expect to see her, sure." A mild note of curiosity comes into her tone. "What is the deal with Transceiver? She mentioned that this was a young technopath. She did not say how young."

“Sixteen? Seventeen? Too young to be involved in this shit,” is Richard’s firm insistence, “If the kid’s mentor hadn’t gotten erased in the EMP he would’ve kept him far away from all this shit, but…” He sighs, shoulders lifting, “At least he’s alright for the time being.”

A brow tic’s up, “Anything else you’re wanting to know?”

"Oh, many things." This reply from Yi-Min sounds as long-suffering as it is possible to get without broaching the border of outright sarcasm. Never has someone been so world-weary, or so one would think from the calm, airy woe in her voice. "Far too many things. You are too kind for indulging my curiosity, Mr. Ray. But you can rest easy, for I only have one more just at present."

"…And this is, whatever shall I do with the viral bioweapon that may or may not be on my person?"

What an incredible conundrum.

A quiet chuckle shakes Richard’s shoulders at that rhetorical question.

“Now that is a good question,” he observes casually, “You don’t want to use it, obviously, and you can’t just throw something like that in the trash. Even if you bury it, there’s the risk of getting it in the groundwater. If you get caught with it, that’s at least life in prison if not the chair…”

He taps a finger against his chin, then motions with it towards her, “I suppose I could take it off your hands, if you happened to have it, and make sure it was disposed of properly and the alarm still ringing in the CDC to be shut off. I could probably make you a generous offer for it, too…”

One brow lifts, and he suggests, “Maybe something high-paying, with good benefits, a stocked lab, and your own research assistant?”

Though her question had indeed been wholly rhetorical, Yi-Min listens prudently to Richard's thoughts on the matter. It's a contemplation that grows visibly when what sounds very much like a job offer is brought up.


"For now, I think I must wait until I see how my plans with Praxis proceed. After all, I might be dead by the end of the month." Best not to get ahead of things, right? Her brow also lifts, a fine smile hovering on her lips.

"Yet if I said that such an offer did not sound tempting, I would be lying. What would this position be? And… how much flexibility might you be willing to give me? For example, I have been undertaking a little research project while in Providence that I would be loath to abandon. I do think it might fit well into the vision your company seems to have."

“I mean, I’d need to go over your resume to figure out where you’d be best served,” Richard admits with a shrug of one shoulder, “Your areas of expertise, education, all of that. So we can hash out the details another time. But I know you’re competent and reliable, and we can always use someone with experience in Advent-derivative bioweapons since they keep cropping up every few years.”

He grimaces. He’d prefer if that particular ghost was put to rest forever, clearly.

“And we’re quite flexible. I let Miller have his little operation down in Providence, after all - and depending on what it is, absolutely, we might be able to offer official support to you.”

"To be sure. If you were looking for someone with experience in bioweapons, well, it is your lucky day. I spent more than my fair share of time with them in the Vanguard." Yi-Min sounds as dry as she had ever been. Her smile widens just a hair further, though something about it remains vague, and she dips a hand into the partly-opened interior of her wool coat. When she withdraws it again, there is something small, flat, and artificially blue clasped between her fingers.

It's a polyethylene case barely larger than the length of her hand: a neatly miniaturized version of the kind of insulated container normally used to transport vaccines.

Smoothly, surreptitiously, she palms this case to Richard across the wood of the table. "I will keep your words in mind, but I need nothing from you right now to give you this," she says softly, withdrawing her hand once the object is away from her and in his shadow. "The completed Gorgon virus that Monroe asked for. Unlike the one I gave him, this version is in full working order, so I cannot beseech you enough to be careful with it. If you would take my advice, begin working on a vaccine for it immediately. In a few weeks, if and when I return from California, I can aid you in this work."

The fork’s set down, and Richard reaches out to take possession of it. “What exactly,” he inquires with a brow’s slight raise, “Is it meant to do? I wasn’t clear on what that maniac’s order was.”

His hand lifts, and in a strange shifting of light the case is just gone. Disappeared into the shadow his hand formed. It’s safest somewhere that it can’t be at risk of spilling.

"What he told us was that it was meant to target the non-Evolved," Yi-Min responds as she places both her hands into her lap. "He has been very vehement in his rhetoric regarding this singular goal. Yet, when asked specifically whom the intended target sample belonged to, he would not say. Make of that what you will." There is a shrug in her tone, one which does not diminish as she goes on.

"I have some suspicions about whom it does belong to. Whether they are accurate or not, I cannot say. But with him stubbornly insisting on this thing's genocidal purpose, well." The implication there is simple: her hand had been forced. No sane person could take such a chance.

“Yeah, there’s really no way to tell,” admits Richard, one hand coming up to pinch the bridge of his nose, “It doesn’t make any sense given his current goals, but I can’t take any chances myself, since the sonuvabitch won’t talk to me.”

Briefly, he looks very tired as he says cryptically, “At this point, all we can do is play the roles we were given and hope we can make it through this.

"You and me both. Trust me, I tried, too." And suffered a great deal of pain for those efforts. Yi-Min's lower lip curls over with what seems like amusement, clearly affected by some distracting recollection. "You said it well. I am still planning on going ahead with my original plan, but at this point, I am prepared for literally anything to happen."

God help them all, if any of this anything did.

The small trace of amusement turns bitter in the short, flicker-like downturn of her eyes, revealing that in the end, it hadn't been amusement at all. "Until then, I… please take care of yourself, Richard. You and yours."

“You should be. Because I guarantee, whatever happens next…” Richard presses a gloved hand down to the table for leverage and pushes himself up to his feet, reaching to take hold of a cane that was sitting under the table and out of view, “…none of us have seen coming. Remember. You don’t have to play their game, and they’re trying to predict what you’re going to do next.”

A silver wolf’s head gleams at the head of a cane that once belonged to one of Yi-Min’s previous employers.

He offers her a faint smile, “You be careful out there. Take care of you and yours, and we’ll see each other on the other side.”

Because he’s pretty sure that the anything will be happening sooner than any of them think.

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