asi2_icon.gif ff_silas_icon.gif

Scene Title 心配するな
Synopsis After hearing the news Asi is named a murder suspect, Silas reaches out to provide something she doesn't expect.
Date July 14, 2019

It's 8 am, and Silas is already up and about, sitting at his desk; a stack of documents sits in front of him — the ostensible object of his attentions — while a battered old clock radio sitting beside his equally battered old computer drones on, giving him some background noise in a vain effort to help him focus.

It doesn't seem to be helping much, judging by the sour look on his face and the irritable restlessness of his movements; things haven't exactly been going well of late.

"…going to be another hot July day in New York! Temperatures in the high 80s, with no sign of cooling down anytime soon!"

Silas grunts, flipping back a few pages in the pile of paperwork in front of him, comparing numbers. There's a lesson to be learned here, he's sure — something about counting your chickens before they hatch — but damned if it isn't a galling one. They'd thought the place was almost ready for a grand opening, but… nope! Apparently there'd been some kind of miscalculation somewhere or other, and they'd ended up short on sealant. On a bloody boat.

"In international news, our top story today is the murder of Japanese Minister of Justice Takumi Seko two days ago…"

So now work that had been done has to be undone, then done again the right way, and what was supposed to be a surplus of materials is instead a surfeit… leaving the opening of Fiddler's Green delayed, and their operating funds ebbing a little lower. They're not going to be able to open until August, and that's if they're lucky… and so Silas is playing the world's crappiest ringmaster, trying to cajole and coerce these stacks of numbers and make them dance through flaming hoops; it's discouraging, depressing, and so much more tedious than even running a long con, but he's not going to let a bloody spreadsheet kill his ambitions. He sighs and rubs at his eyes, casting his gaze down towards the bourbon drawer, idly considering fortifying his coffee a bit… but no. Math first, fun later.

"Currently, American Francesca Lang and Japanese Mugai-Ryu officer Major Asi Tetsuyama have been named suspects in the Minister Seko's murder."

Then there's the—


Hold the fuck up.

"…Luther Bellamy, former head of security at Raytech Industries, and Monica Dawson, former public relations liaison for Yamagato Industries, are also wanted for questioning in connection with the murder…"

The papers are forgotten. Bellamy sounds familiar — one of the people at Sunspot, he thinks — but he doesn't think he's ever really swapped words with the man before. But Monica Dawson… that's a familiar name, oh yes. Even if he doesn't know the person behind it in this world. The most pressing thing on Silas's mind, though, is…

"Jesus Christ, Asi… what have you gotten yourself into?" Silas murmurs aloud, shaking his head in disbelief. He eyes the phone, starts to reach for it… but thankfully, his instincts aren't quite that rusty just yet; he aborts the gesture mid-reach, letting his hand fall back to the desk. She's wanted for murder. They've got a manhunt on for her, which means they're gonna be listening in on her phone lines close enough to hear a mouse fart. Use your head, man!

Silas frowns… then, slowly, his gaze turns towards his computer. Battered old thing that it is, Silas hasn't used it for much more than the occasional email… but Asi had done some work on it, hadn't she? She'd secured a connection, back when he'd been worried about the government sizing him up as a scapegoat.

Maybe he can see about re-establishing that connection, now that Asi's government is after her, instead.

She is, perhaps unsurprisingly, offline when he tries to initiate a connection request. No direct contact available at the moment, and who knew what hours a fugitive kept. Chances are she'd probably still be up? Maybe? Maybe.

There was an odd-looking email she'd used to send him the files for that particular application he was trying to use, though. Maybe that could work? It didn't look like anything she'd use for official business.

And really, what other options were available at the moment?


Alright. E-mail it is. Silas is getting better at typing, at least; he's reasonably certain he'll never be one of those 90 word-a-minute jazzhand typist wizards — probably not even a 60 word-a-minute typist wizard, come to that — but he's getting decently adept at the hunt-and-peck style of mail composition.

Heard you've been busy; sounds like someone's raising hell out there, loud enough that I can hear the squawking all the way out here in New York.

Feel free to drop me a line; I'll be at the computer all day today anyway.

He hesitates for a moment, trying to figure out what to do, what to say; there's a knot of worry chewing at his stomach right now. Without thinking about it, one of his hands steals into a drawer in his desk, pulling out the omamori he brought with him when he came to this new world, and begins to absently rub at it with his thumb; he's always been the sort who thinks best when his hands are busy. After a moment, he lays the charm down and starts typing again.

Are you alright? Is there anything I can do? The squawking I'm hearing doesn't sound good; if there's anything I can do to help, let me know, okay?

Your friend,

He moves the mouse and hits send before he can overthink his message to death.

The number of people Asi feels safe to call friends or allies is a shrinking pool. It's been effectively halved since the events a few nights ago took place. One might expect her to not answer at all, given there is probably very little he actually can do.

Her answer comes within an hour anyway.

don't happen to know anyone who can rewind time, do you?
would be the fastest solution to this, anyway. »

There's barely a minute that passes before another message comes on its heels.

what do you think happened? »

Silas is poking around on the Google digging into modern Japanese culture when the ping lets him know he has an email; her response elicits a soft, pained laugh. "If only," he murmurs aloud.

He's debating how to respond to that when her second message comes… and that one makes him frown. What do you think happened. That's a good question, and one he's been trying to come up with an answer to for a bit now.

Silas's Googling has, if nothing else, given him food for thought. The criminal justice system has a 99.9% conviction rate, which is absolutely ridiculously phony. Silas has always held with Mark Twain's aphorism about there being three kinds of falsehood — lies, damn lies, and statistics — and that 99.9% smells an awful lot like a Type III.

Beyond that, though… the more he thinks about the setup, the more it smells rotten. Asi murdering someone? Maybe. Maybe he could see that… if she thought they deserved it. And if she did think they deserved it, enough to pull the trigger… well, Silas would be willing to bet she'd probably be right. She'd shown full well how meticulous she can be on her research.

But why in an abandoned steelworks? Even if she was inclined to murder someone… she's a technopath, for crying out loud. With experience conducting military operations, at that! Why not play to her strengths? Slip past electronic security with a like it wasn't even there, assassinate the man in his sleep, and slip out again like a ghost, with no one the wiser until the next morning?

So why was she seen on surveillance footage?! If she'd gone in ready to kill someone that highly ranked, she'd have done better homework than that. And… Mazdak? Maybe he could see Asi hanging out with biker gangs. Maybe. But terrorists?

No. Something smells rotten here. Rotten to the damn core.

I think something smells

He backspaces for a moment, thinks a bit… then grins.

I think that if this pile of crap they're trying to bury you under is the truth, then I'm the Queen of Egypt.

Silas hits send. He figures that'll probably get a laugh out of Asi even now, at least enough for him to compose a bit more of an in-depth response. Then he starts typing again.

The whole setup stinks. And I do mean 'setup', because I'm starting to think that what I was worried about happening to me ended up happening to you instead, and someone's decided that you look like a scapegoat for whatever mountain of dirty laundry they've got sitting around.

I mean, it seems to me like the Japanese government could probably bury this if they wanted to, but it looks like they're stirring it up as much as they can, instead. Supposedly the replacement Justice Minister guy was wanting the entire Mugai-Ryu suspended pending an investigation (which sounds more like an Inquisition to me).

In short: I think you're being framed. There's a rat in the woodpile somewhere, and it smells like it's been dead awhile.

Silas imagines it well, the chuff of a breath, the smile visible only in her eyes as she shakes her head at his message. The technopath writes off any additional replies for now, contented to know someone else sees it her way, but then the flood of an addition comes minutes later. Her knuckles slide out from under her chin as she reads, expression hard.

There's a period where she turns the message over mentally, examining it for intent. He cuts to the quick of it, and the tone in it sounds sincere, she decides. The cadence doesn't feel practiced, so it is likely actually Silas she's receiving a message from.

Even so, there is a better way to confirm. Asi double-checks her proxy before she thumbs across the screen of her phone, manipulating the VDI one scroll at a time. The manual action, instead of using her ability, buys her time to make sure she wants to actually do it. She opens the secure application she'd used to communicate with Silas previously, and calls him.

Her eyes close while she waits patiently, however long it takes. Elbow on the armrest of the chair she's on, she rubs at her eyes. "You're not wrong," is what Asi says in lieu of a proper hello.

"The last time I was this angry was over ten years ago," she reflects, a small 'tck' of a noise emanating from her cheek. "I was negated, then."

"I'm not now."

Silas's message sent, he turns back to the computer, pondering a bit more; he'd asked her to let him know if there was anything he could do, but… what can he do, for someone half a world away? There's money, of course… but then, a technopath could probably do plenty for bankrolling herself anyway, if pressed hard enough. Maybe Failsafe could do something? He's still not sure he entirely trusts them, but something is dodgy as hell here; maybe he should mention that at some point.

The soft chiming from his computer goes unnoticed for a couple of seconds… then Silas realizes that he's getting a call. From his computer. On the program Asi installed. He immediately flails into action, lurching over and digging in the drawers for his headset. Plug A, Slot B, check; he's got sound. He tugs the headset on, takes a moment to try to compose himself, then accepts the call.

Oh she's pissed. She'd been angry — furious — when she'd thought that he'd been the other Silas toying with her, but the tone in her voice now is so much worse. Her tone is calm, collected, conversational, and it sounds to Silas exactly like that deadly little click that comes when you ease the hammer back on a gun. No pleasantries, either… but that's fine. God knows, he wouldn't be feeling in the mood for pleasantries either, in her shoes. "Sounds like you've got a plan," he says, his voice quiet, approving. "That's good. Worst thing you can do when the chips are down is to lose your head."

Silas hesitates a moment… but there's an obvious elephant in the room, and it's big enough that it's just gonna continue to haunt the place until he deals with it. Better to just deal with it and get it out of the way. "So. You wanna talk about it? What happened, I mean," he asks quietly, his voice gentle — if she doesn't want to talk about it, he isn't going to force the issue, but the question needs to be asked.

There's a long pause, long enough that maybe the silence speaks for itself in a resounding no. It takes time, though, to mentally deconstruct the barriers of secrecy that had shrouded Asi's work. And additional time yet to consider how much she wants to say. "I was working on a case," she finally says, voice subdued. It's a distinctly separate kind of quiet from the kind she had when he first picked up. "Undercover. I was finally invited to a function. I went unarmed, dressed for the occasion. The goal was information-gathering."

There's a pause as she runs her tongue over her teeth, the thing she says next already leaving her with a bad taste in her mouth.

"I stuck my head out too far. But more than that, it was a set-up. I think— no matter how close I'd have gotten or how far away I'd observed from, the result would have been the same."

Asi's gaze slides unfocused as she reflects, trying not to lose herself in the could-have-dones. She shifts the phone in her hand, which amplifies the distance her voice takes on. "Instead, though, I tried to intervene. To get them to stop, even if it was to instruct them they were better off manipulating him from afar. I asked them if they wanted change, or chaos."

He's not there to see the pain that flashes across her face, the flare of complicated emotion that's present before she closes her eyes to silence it. "They gave their answer." And the chaos that resulted has only begun to snowball.

"I couldn't have stopped it." is an addition to that statement she hadn't intended on making.

Asi's voice lifts back to something more conversational, if still low. "Does the name Baruti Naidu mean anything to you? Here, or where you came from?"

Silas waits through the silence, wondering if he might have pushed too hard, asked too much. Maybe he has… but the question has been asked, and the ball's in her court now. Nothing he can do but listen, and hope… and then, as she at last starts to speak, he lets out the faintest sigh of relief. He says nothing as she speaks, though, doesn't move, barely even breathes as he listens to her tell her story.

A hint of a grimace disturbs his expression when she speaks of the crowd's answer, though; he doesn't need to see her face to see how much that must have hurt. To believe that people can choose the better path, to speak out for what's right, and then to watch as the worst happens anyway… it's a bitter blow indeed. And let's not forget that her own unit's after her, on top of it; think of what it felt like, leaving the Forthright crew, except add in that they think you're a traitor on top of it. Silas's wince grows deeper, more pained at that… but now she's come to the end of her story, and there's a question for him.

"Baruti Naidu…?" Silas echoes, considering. "No. Don't think I've heard it before." he answers. He frowns, musing. "I could probably do some digging, though." Maybe he should send an email or something to the Failsafe crew. Come to think of it, he should probably send an email to the Failsafe crew anyway, about the vanishing overpass or whatever. Is that even relevant to their interests? One way to find out.

"It was worth a shot," Asi says with a shake of her head. She reaches across her body to fish a burning cigarette out of the tray it's resting on, pinching it between her fingers before drawing it up for a deep pull. Exhaling a cloud of smoke, she says, "I'll do some more digging, but I had more immediate things needing looked into until now." The embers bounce as she flexes her grip on the cigarette.

"But he was the one who 'pulled the trigger', so to speak, with his ability. It was his call, his machinations at work, I think— unless the collective superior behind Praxis, Mazdak, and apparently the Ghost triads was the one who ordered it." Her expression hardens, nearing a sneer that she quells by taking another drag from her cigarette. "Would be something if I had his attention. Though…" She thinks back, remembering the attempt on her in December. "It also wouldn't be the first time."

It's tempting to sigh, but Asi holds her composure. "Silas, I—" Her jaw hangs, the words going unspoken. She throws them away by flicking the ash off her cigarette. Head shaking, she amends her statement. "I know what they're doing. This… game they're playing." Her gaze darts to the closed door, voice lowering.

"I am considering going along with it." she confesses deadpan.

For a moment, there is silence on Silas's end of the line as he processes what she's saying, considering her words… and considering, as well, the tone of her voice. The faint, jagged edge of what sounds like uncertainty hiding behind her words, a tone that makes him think of the shriek of steel girders bending and twisting under terrible strain.

After a moment, there's the sound of a long, slow breath being let out. "You're considering going along with it," Silas echoes in a carefully neutral voice, staring at some fixed point on the far side of his computer screen. "Alright," he says, his voice still neutral. "Why?" he asks.

Asi lets out a short laugh, hollow and sharp. There’s a rueful smile on her voice as she asks, “What else am I going to do?”

There’s plenty Silas doesn’t know about this version of his friend, but even what he does— being shorn of every last bit of stability, being turned on by her superiors and teammates, all while being branded as a pro-Evolved terrorist of a certain group in particular … there aren’t any easy paths before her. And what paths there are most likely lack resources.

Striking back requires them.

Silas is silent again, digesting what she has to say. Seems she doesn't have a plan; maybe she's not even sure wants one.


First thing's first.

"Fight. Live," Silas says; his voice is quiet, but there's a rock solid determination there. He lets out a sharp breath, scowling fiercely.

"There's somethin' I want to tell you, Asi." Silas says, rubbing at his forehead. "I know it's cold fucking comfort, given how badly everything looks to have gone to shit on you… but I want you to know that I am proud as hell to know you, Asi Tetsuyama. Even if you weren't able to change how things went. Even if nothing you did could've made any difference at all… you tried. You stepped up to the plate against a goddamn mob of bikers and terrorists and triads and god knows what else to try to stop things from going the way they did, and if they weren't willing to listen… well, that's on them. But that doesn't mean that you were wrong to try to make a stand. So don't stop fighting now! You stepped up to try to save Takumi Seko; now fight for Asi Tetsuyama!" he exclaims. "Whatever it is these asshats may be planning, they've already shown they're willing to commit cold-blooded murder to get it, and if it keeps working for them, they're gonna keep doing it. Don't let yourself be their next victim, because if you are, you won't be their last."

Silas lets out a long breath. "Anyway. That's the 'what'. Although I'd maybe also make see about leavin' Japan for awhile," he says, a certain species of dry graveyard humor touching his voice. "The current climate's… probably not good for your complexion. Maybe take an extended vacation; worst comes to worst, I've got a couch you could crash on, if you don't get seasick."

"The how is a bit trickier, admittedly," Silas concedes. "But if nothing else, you're not in this alone. They were sayin' on the news that there's some others they're after, too, and one of the names that got rattled off was Monica Dawson. If she's anything like the one I knew, she's got a heart of gold, a spine of steel, and is worth about twelve goons by herself in a fight." He taps his fingers on the desk, frowning. "And if need be… I could see about booking a trip over there." He hesitates for a moment. "My trick… might come in pretty handy in the situation you're in. Especially paired with yours."

Silas’ passionate suggestion for her brings Asi’s brow to a furrow, hand pausing halfway back to her mouth. It’s a surprise, how deeply he believes in her. The corner of her mouth tugs into a small smile before she finishes taking that drag, something quiet in her expression as she listens to the rest of what he has to say. She’s got time, after all.

Silently listening turns something more active when he suggests coming to Japan through legal means. “Absolutely not.” she seethes. “You risk indefinite detention trying to fly out here with a remotely threatening ability, not to mention the record that sits behind a thin veil for you. Our interactions shouldn’t show up on any radars as a third risk factor, but that is still too large a chance to take.” Adamant, Asi finds herself fiercely protective of him at this sudden turn, something she wasn’t entirely expecting.

She was touched, though. He seemed to care a lot about her, even though she wasn’t the person he knew; wasn’t his ‘Aces.’ She didn’t want him to get himself hurt over it.

“The thought is appreciated,” is as much as she’ll concede. “But no.” Her eyes flit over to a distant point in silence, expression evening out again.

“Monica is all those things and more, even with her left hand behind her back,” Asi adds absently. She is in good company for being branded a terrorist. “I know I am not alone, stripped for allies. She would be happy to help me set it all on fire, as would some of her friends.” Eve in particular might enjoy the opportunity to let loose, she’s sure. “I have resources I put aside, waiting for the day the government would try to put myself, or the shinkajin, down.” She pauses, shoulders shifting. “This Mazdak business is just … an unanticipated angle on that contingency. A nuisance I’d prefer to harness, if it comes down to it.”

Breathing out, she explains, “What Mazdak uncovered happening under the Minister’s eye is exactly the sort of thing I would want to assist in making public. Threats to the Evolved peoples of the world are only rising. Those threats need shamed, and they need destroyed. I’m certain Mazdak did what they did the way they did it to cause more chaos than change, but they are in a unique, resourceful position to effect change.” She flicks the cigarette again. Not entirely without a plan, it’d seem. Just not used to sharing her thoughts with others, laying them out and talking them through. The question was if Silas thought she’d been desperate and clipped of her wings, would Mazdak? Would they accept her appealing to them? “What is it they say, about the enemy of my enemy?” she asks, though she full well knows. “And about keeping friends close?”

“There is value in timing one’s punches,” is a near-dismissive add, as though in the act of sharing her thought process, she’s also trying to gloss over it. “If embracing pariah status gets me closer striking back at those who fucked me over, I will bite my tongue and bide my time.”

A beat passes where she thinks and lets out a small laugh. “It would be just like working for the Mugai-Ryu all over again.”

As satisfying as that sounds, she lets out a short sigh from her nose. Nothing is ever as simple as saying it, she knows.

Silas blinks, finding himself momentarily taken aback at the sharpness, the immediacy, of Asi's refusal. There's a little frustration at getting so summarily vetoed, but he doesn't argue. For one thing… she's right. She's right, and Silas knows it; as much as it galls him to be helpless to lend a hand, heading over there would be a risk even at the best of times, but now, in the aftermath of an Evolved murdering a high government official, it would be much more dangerous.

For another thing… it's kinda gratifying that even in the middle of the mess she's in, she's taking the time to worry about him. That's enough to bring the faintest hint of a smile to his face, strained as it might be.

Now, as she speaks, it's his turn to listen silently… but as she lays out her plan, his smile fades, his face settling into a more troubled expression. She has a plan, at least — that much is good — and she has preparations in place, resources that she can draw upon, which is still better.

It's the nature of this plan that fills Silas with worry. So… her plan is to get eaten by the dragon so she can punch it from the inside, Silas thinks, but does not say; as much as this plan of hers worries him, she's the one with her feet on the ground in this mess, and if it's bleak enough that she's seriously considering something like this as her best shot, well, be damned if he's going to throw any ridicule her way.

"It… could work," Silas says after a moment, his voice cautious. Then he lets out an unhappy chuckle. "Heh. And I guess you're not exactly swimming in choices at the moment, either," he says. "Just… tread carefully, Asi," he says, sounding almost hesitant; he's not even bothering to try to keep the worry he feels out of his voice.

"It's…" Asi squints at the topic, thumbing her cigarette before looking down at her lap. "It's worth investigating, if nothing else." After another short drag, she admits, "When Naidu … did what he did, he had some parting words."

Breathing the smoke away, her voice quiets. "He said that wasn't the day I'd pick a side, but that the day is coming soon." The words are left to hang for a moment before she adds, "So I believe the continued interest in each other may be mutual."

"I don't know. But I'll be testing the waters." Asi does know that much, and she decisively puts out the snub left of her cigarette, twisting the end of it in the dish.

"心配するな, Silas." she says. He's heard that phrase before. Something about not worrying about it.

Silas lets out another chuckle. "Heh. I actually know that one. And you're right, I suppose. Me fretting isn't going to do either of us any good." Bourbon, however, seems like it would do at least one of them a bit of good right now, so he reaches over to get into his desk's bourbon drawer… which, predictably enough, is home to a bottle of bourbon and several shot glasses.

"So," he says, pouring himself a shot. "I'll only say one more thing on the matter: tread carefully. I'd imagine those guys probably have experience in twisting people around to their way of thinking." I'm not my evil twin… but I'd be willing to bet that once upon a time, he was a lot like me, he thinks, and promptly tosses back his shot of bourbon to wash that evil thought from his mind. "'To thine own self be true'," he pronounces… but though he chuckles as he says it, there's an edge of something solemn in his voice as he speaks the words.

"Anyway. I'll ask some of my friends if they know anything about this Naidu guy; if I get anything back I'll pass it your way. Anything else I can do?"

Unseen to him, the expression of his concern takes some of the light out of Asi’s eyes, edges to her being softening. Her fingers twitch, yearning for the cigarette she’s just put out. The urge almost inspires her to reach for and light another, but that’s more effort than she’s willing to expend on it at the moment.

First, there’s an important question Silas has asked her.

“Don’t dig too hard,” she asks of him. “You … stay safe in all of this.” Asi lets her gaze lift, wander her immediate surroundings. “You have a grand opening to host soon, and it would not be the same without you present at it.

Truthfully, she’d prefer him not digging on her behalf at all, but he’s already taken one hard-to-swallow no from her tonight. And this one? She couldn’t stop him if she wanted to, at this point. “You have enough lying in wait for you as it is, don’t err and add Mazdak to the list,” she tries to deter him anyway.

Asi narrows her eyes at nothing, reaching across herself again to pick up the tumbler that accompanied her cigarette, one still half-full.

The mention of the grand opening brings an honest grin to Silas's face. Nevermind the fact that they're facing setbacks, nevermind the fact that his Hometown self is lurking out there somewhere and is probably gonna come skulking in sooner or later. Because she's right, dammit; there's a grand opening that's going to be happening somewhere down the line, and he intends to see it happen.

Who knows? Maybe she'll even be there. God knows it's unlikely with the way things are shaping up, but you've got to let yourself dream now and again, right? "I'll do my best to keep safe," he answers. "You too, though. And don't hesitate to get in touch if you want to talk!"

The comment brings Asi to pause with her drink raised. What he offers isn’t something she’s used to, by any means. Something that, given her current position, it feels like she shouldn’t have. A shoulder to lean on, a friend without some manner of ulterior motives, it’s…

It’s become foreign to her. Both on her part as much as anyone trying to engage with her.

And it’s not like she makes it easy for anyone who wants to try.

“じゃ,” she says lightly. Well, then. No witty or honest rejoinder to respond with there.


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