devon_icon.gif eizen_icon.gif emily_icon.gif godfrey_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif isa_icon.gif isis2_icon.gif kay_icon.gif

kimiko_icon.gif marlowe_icon.gif remi2_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif sahara_icon.gif ff_silas_icon.gif tibby3_icon.gif yao_icon.gif

Scene Title Showcase
Synopsis Something moves beneath the surface as Yamagato Industries and Praxis Heavy show off their 2020 tech.
Date May 24, 2019

Sometimes it’s hard to remember there ever was a war.

Crowded in on Governors Island, with the sounds of thousands of guests, the streak of floodlights tracing a path across the sky and enormous projection displays showing looping footage of cutting-edge technology, it feels like perhaps it really is the future, not just the broken down corpse of the past.

Theater Athena is the official name given for the open-air presentation stage nestled on the banks of the Hudson River. It is a general admissions open floor event site, surrounded by metal scaffolding hung with midnight blue curtains that glitter with the effect of starlight woven into the fabric. A forty foot tall projection screen displays technological advancements from the trinity of major corporations contributing to the World’s Fair: Crito Corporate, Yamagato Industries, and Praxis Heavy Industries. Today, both Yamagato Industries and Praxis will share the glossy, black stage to showcase their civilian technology developments for 2020.

Roughly seven hundred people are gathered in Theater Athena, filling the standing room event hall. Rows of folding chairs are arranged further back up a tiered hill for those who don’t want to stand and walk the theater floor. Overhead, enormous lights are set to provide atmospheric illumination as the sun sets in the west, and make certain that the stage is lit and focused. As the crowds are still filing in, music is playing over the video displays and the audience is preparing for an hour of technological marvels. The going rumor is that both companies will be unveiling technology not on the public schedule at the end of each of their presentations.

In these conditions, it’s easy to forget there ever was a war.

Theater Athena, World’s Fair Grounds

Governor’s Island

NYC Safe Zone

May 24th


Security is hard to see under the dim light conditions. There’s people working the stage, black-jacketed with ear-pieces, but no one is visibly carrying a firearm or even so much as a Raytech Banshee. There’s a few small drones in flight, buzzing around the arena, capturing everything on video as they do. There’s an energy in the air, a vivacity, a sense of life and hope. It feels like, in this moment, the future may not be as dark as once predicted.

What the audience doesn't get to see behind the scenes is the army of those moving around, prepping for the battle of performances. Yamagato's engineers work quickly and as efficiently as humanly possible in preparing their working displays for the imminent show.

Overseeing the activity, Marlowe suppresses the urge to just jump in and nitpick. So she toys with the asymmetric positioned zipper on her sleek black suit's blazer, recently shined and matched with the wide polished silver buckle of her belt and 3D diamond shaped mirror-finish earrings dangling in the lights. Her hair's left long, loose and wavy for the business professional look. The theme of black and silver meant to not showcase her today, but the company's newest and finest creations. The display clicker in her other hand gripped in anxious excitement, she sidles along until she finds a spot to peek out towards the gathering.

Silas is wearing his good suit again, the plum one with the green overcoat, with the same blood red tie. What's more, he's actually managed to nab a good seat; center of his row, close enough to the stage that he can actually see what's going on without binoculars. That's important to him, being able to see things up close and personal; sure, they can zoom the cameras in and show all kinds of detail on the big screens, and the speakers can blast the presenters' voices throughout the whole theatre, but Silas has always been one to trust his own eyes and ears first and foremost.

The show hasn't started yet, but already there's an energy to the crowd that's unusual, a furtive sense of optimism that seems to be hovering in the air like static electricity. A sense of excitement and wonder and maybe hope for the future. Hopefully this doesn't turn out like the Pink Tie Gala, he thinks to himself… but there's no real worry in it. If it does, he'll try not to get trampled or stabbed or whatever, but until then he'll be content to wait with bated breath for the show to start, just like everyone else.

“I didn’t realize this was going to be so…” Isis, or the totally normal and merry Joanne as she tends to anwer around Sahara, gives a theatrical little shimmie of her hands up by her face. “Tech-geek, yes. Tech-chique? That was unexpected. Good thing I wore my nice jeans.” Dirk would be so disappointed. Still, the denim skinny jeans are nice enough. A thick, chunky-chain choker, however, might have appeared a bit edgy were it not for the nice, sleeveless blouse with the gossamer sides. It’s a bold choice, further emboldened by her stylized garnet locks left in wild waves around her shoulders. She’s taken this girl’s day out seriously enough, it seems.

Joanne returns to their claimed seats, close to Silas’s choice location in fact, and passes Sahara a glass of something rose-hued and bubbly. This is, what, their third round? The redhead appears a great deal more relaxed for it as compared to when they initially entered the crowded fairgrounds. “To swag bags!,” she salutes her blonde friend and sips.

Between Raytech and Yamagato, there was already a vast array of things to see; when you add Praxis Heavy and Crito to the mix, even more. Although there is one other thing that comes with the presence of Praxis, and while she knows it is there, Huruma is not certain of what to call it yet. The Fair has carried her closer to the orbit of the company than ever before, and here at the Showcase, it may be the closest ever.

Not that she is worried, per se. Just curious. Mainly, about how close she can get without mental klaxons sounding on either side. Or actual klaxons.

Not that she is worried about security, either.

Huruma hasn't come alone, part of this attendance being work-related— but any current company is not within her personal space; station and association has gotten her closer to the stage, and she still hangs back for the sake of the shorter. An already towering presence is made a little moreso by the heels of her shoes. The spring weather favors showing some skin in the form of a tight-fitting dress with the sheen of faux-leather; it cuts above the knee, plunges low at front and back, straps leaving athletic arms free. Gold glints from the plated belt, ears, wrists, throat.

A severity in expression and the angular edges of jewelry keeps most from an approach— or at least those that do not already know her.

“You’re doing yourself no favors by looking out there, love,” is said from just behind Marlowe in a distinct British voice. Godfrey had slipped into the back, for just that purpose. Doing that support thing friends are supposed to do. “But rest assured, you have quite the audience waiting for you to dazzle it.”

Godfrey gently tugs Marlowe away from the curtain and turns her where he can get a look at her, plucking a hair from her shoulder and brush a bit of lint clinging to her back. “You look stunning as always; make-up perfect, clothing that will make jaws drop and show you are serious, and hair on point.” He has dressed for schmoozing with those businesses that want to get in league with Yamagato or are interested in this tech or that. His dark gray suit has its own muted shine that comes from the threads that make up the sutble striping. The rest of the suit is shades of royal blue.

“You got this,” Godfrey offers with that cocky grin of his. “And I’ll be right here cheering you on, while you make the rest of these blokes look like amateurs.”

Despite the event being open to all comers, Emily can’t help but feel out of place with some of these well-dressed faces, the business movers and shakers of the world all here for a reason instead of just because it was something to do for the afternoon. It’s not often she’s the first to initiate physical contact, but her hand has slid into Devon’s and she’s holding on tightly as they linger at the back of the amphitheatre-like arena while scoping out the best place for a seat.

Well, that was the first part of the equation. To stand, or to find seating? “What do you think?” she murmurs to Devon at her side, practically glued to him. She’s not sure what she was expecting here, but all these people are a bit much for her.

When it comes to huge crowds like these, Remi is a bit like a clingy girlfriend with Silas. Through circumstances and the fact that he has become her closest friend, the man has the dubious honor of being her new rock; normally, Jasper would have had this honor (and been fine with it), but of the two, he is definitely the less alive of the pair. Also his body is probably floating in a flooded morgue in another world, so there’s that too.

The redheaded telepath has taken up a seat next to her friend and business partner, one hand casually laid upon his arm. I feel like we are a bit safer here. The gala was a much easier target with specific things to steal, this is much bigger. She smirks to Silas.

Her own outfit isn’t similar to the one she wore to the Raytech reveal; she wears a black suit much like her companion’s, but there’s no collared shirt here — just a plunging neckline that reveals the barest hint of cleavage. Dresses are fun and all, but suits are better for crowds. And much more comfortable.

Sahara laughs on being handed her next drink, lifting it in salute. “To swag bags!” she quips cheerfully in reply, beaming happily. Hell yes they were pretty underdressed in their summer casual fare, but who cares at this point. Not IsisJo, and certainly not Sahara! She wears a near-sheer spaghetti-strapped teal blouse, shoulders and biceps comfortably covered over with a light cotton cardigan with a cream to sea-green gradient at its bottom. Sitting cross-legged, she bounces one heel-strapped foot with a pleased hum as she looks out to the stage. Flipping her wrist up, she considers the time on the leather-banded watch she wears and then glances back up to the screen. “Should be any minute now,” she remarks thoughtfully.

Speaking of thought, one’s just hit her and she leans to her side to swat delicately at Joanne’s arm. “You know, maybe they’ll include one of those techie wearables in a bag, and we can put that on and look proper tech…ified.” She sounds very wise, at least in her own head.

The crowd is overwhelming. Devon shares that sentiment as his eyes wander not on the stage but on the people already present. He squeezes Emily's hand, encouraging and supportive both. They may not exactly fit in with all the well-to-do and professionally dressed technophiles, but the showcase was one of the highlights of the fair.

He looks to Emily, brows furrowing over the question. Dev scans the seating, picking out gaps between heads that look promising. “Looks like there's a couple of seats,” he suggests, motioning to a point on an end several rows ahead. “Not too close, and we can make a quiet exit if needed.”

Conversation is suddenly deafened by a blast of music from the angled walls of amplifiers flanking the stage. An upbeat tune pops with synth and carries across the auditorium, blanketing conversation and demanding attention. The images on the massive screen shift to show a sleek gray car with a somewhat boxy and retro design speeding down a rainy, urban street. The Yamagato Industries logo flashes on the screen, and then there’s an image of an eight-legged robot with a scorpion-like tail equipped with a 3D printer on the end, printing blocks of concrete in a dirt lot.

«Technology is the world’s future»

A deep voice bellows over the music, and the screen comes to show shots of Yamagato Park and the far-less familiar skyline of the California Safe Zone, depicted as a distant city overshadowed by a towering pyramid-shaped skyscraper.

«Today, we live in an ever-changing world of science fiction, come science fact.»

The screen shows a team of construction workers laboring alongside a bright, yellow-colored TX Tetsujin construction robot. One of the flesh and blood workers flashes the robot a smile and it turns sharply to him, then gives a sudden thumbs up.

«Tonight, that future comes to you.»

From opposite sides of a stage, a pair of women emerge from the backstage area. One is dressed in a sleek black suit with a white wide-collared blouse beneath. Her suit is specifically tailored to have sleeves that split at the elbow, allowing her arms from elbow down to show. Proudly, she displays a cybernetic arm with a bare metallic finish. Her dark hair is worn up, and she waves with her mechanical hand.

The other woman is dressed entirely in white, with a high collared jacket and dangling gold earrings. Glittering gold eyeshadow with a thin line of red accents her dark eyes as she walks confidently out onto the stage, carrying some sort of small handheld device with her. She, likewise, is waving to the crowd and smiling.

«The 2020 World’s Fair is proud to present»

The woman with the cybernetic arm stops at the front of the stage, blowing the crowd a kiss.

«The CEO of Yamagato Industries, Kimiko Nakamura.»

The woman in white comes to stand beside Kimiko, holding up one hand in a casual and cheerful wave to the audience.

«and COO of Praxis Heavy Industries America, Yao Sze.»

Applause fills the air as the two women, often depicted as bitter corporate rivals in the press, continue to share the same stage and greet the World’s Fair crowd. As the applause dies down, the logos for Yamagato Industries and Praxis Heavy Industries come up together on the screen.

“Thank you, New York,” Kimiko says to the crowd, her voice projected loudly over the theater. “It’s a pleasure to be welcomed here tonight, to be able to showcase to you some of the amazing things that Yamagato Industries has in store for you all…”

Yao picks up immediately where Kimiko leaves off, clearly a well-scripted moment. “We’re here tonight to give you a look into how Praxis Heavy Industries is shaping the course of the future — your future — and how the United States of tomorrow will look very little like the United States of the past.”

Kimiko’s face is broadcast on the screen behind her as the focus shifts to her. “But before we get to our tech showcase, I wanted to give my peer — Yao Sze — a moment to talk to you all about the California Safe Zone.” Yao nods once to Kimiko, and steps to take focus on the stage. The screen behind her now focuses on Yao’s confident expression and posture.

“For the past several years, Praxis Heavy Industries has been endeavoring to rebuild the west coast of the United States, ravaged as it was by tragedy. Today,” and behind Yao, a video of the skyline of the California Safe Zone is displayed, including a shot of the remains of the Golden Gate Bridge, “we’re proud to announce that construction on the first fully functional district of the CSZ is nearly complete. Our industrial center, Praxia, was finished in 2017. Since then, we’ve been laboring to repair what was once the city of Oakland, to prepare for our move into what was at one time San Francisco.”

On the screen behind Yao, video of those spider robots building concrete houses plays. “I’m here to announce that on December 25th, 2019, Praxis Heavy Industries will have a Christmas gift for all Americans… then official opening of the California Safe Zone.” As Yao delivers that news and humbly smiles to the crowd, a riotous applause builds up among the spectators, as video footage of stunning modern houses of concrete and glass in verdant parklands dance across the screen.

“The future is here,” Yao says over the riotous applause.

From behind Godfrey and Marlowe, Isabelle walks and stops as she catches the beginning of the presentation. The walking out together is interesting but not confusing, competitors operate together it's not unheard of. "Look at that goddamn arm. Amazing." She's dressed in a black suit, her chest exposed in the center but the rest covered by the blazer.

One hand hangs in her pocket as a wealth of warmth washes over the pair of Yamagato employees, she's a new hire. Something in the science division. The pyrokinetic has not had a drink of her flask but it's here…. somewhere. Isa's half lidded hazel eyed gaze sweeps over Marlowe and Godfrey. "What's up friends. Wanna go to the beach?" Eyebrows waggling.

In the back of the place, as far back in the corner as she can be Tibby Naidu sits with a head bowed. Listening to the words of the two women.

California. That place. Tibby read about it, she lived there. California. Casp- The small woman clamps down hard on that thought and leans against the wall, her blonde hair pulled back into a high ponytail which for her meant it maybe came up to someone's shoulder. Maybe she would take a trip. There's a small hiss from her, between clenched teeth. Fishing in her jacket pocket for a bottle of pills, she fishes out three and pops them dry swallowing immediately.

It would take a minute for them to work but the pain would go away, the pain behind her eyes. Her head. Maybe she would take a trip to California.

Kay Damaris stands in the wings, just a bit away from where the other cluster of Yamagato employees have congregated, nodding along with the presentation on the stage. When the crowd begins to cheer, she smiles thinly. She doesn't like Praxis Heavy much, of course, but she's pleased things are going well so far. Keeping the crowd happy is important. Her gaze slides to where Isabelle, Godfrey, and Marlowe stand, a nod of assurance given to the latter.

As Yao concludes that surprise revelation, Kimiko steps in as the screens dim, then illuminate again showing aerial images of the New York City Safe Zone, a far rougher work in progress. “Thank you, Ms. Sze,” Kimiko says with practiced graciousness before stepping to the front of the stage. “Tonight, you’re going to hear a lot from Yamagato Industries and Praxis Heavy Industries as we discuss our technology initiatives designed to improve the state of the nation…”

Kimiko looks across the crowd, and the image behind her changes to a shot of the devastated Roosevelt Island, with buildings flattened down to the ground, sloping piles of rubble spilling out into the river. Not a single structure standing where once there was a small, thriving community. “But, as Yao said, the future is here.” The image changes to a hyper-realistic 3D model of Roosevelt Island with new buildings up and down its length, verdant parks, glass-walled tenement buildings with green designs, rooftop gardens, and dozens of computer-generated children playing in one of the parks.

“In 2019 Yamagato Industries is beginning the Roosevelt Island Reclamation Project, a push into the ruins with the intention of redeveloping the entire island.” Behind Kimiko, the images keep changing, showing projected outcomes of this revitalization. “Eight thousand new apartments, a full-sized facility for the Crawford-Winslow Academy, acres of green parkland, and a state-of-the-art green energy power plant that will completely eliminate the rolling blackouts in the Safe Zone.” That last bit causes some uproarious cheer from the crowds.

“But I’m not the expert on this project,” Kimiko says as the screen behind her darkens. Spotlights angle downward to her. “It is my great pleasure to introduce… the new head of Research & Development at Yamagato Industries America…” The spotlights move to the curtain.

Marlowe Terrell!

It would be difficult for anyone to seriously call Raytech a competitor to either of the companies putting on a showcase this evening, but Richard Ray’s here with the air of checking out the competition all the same.

Even in the wilds, the smaller predators need to keep a wary watch on the greater, after all.

A black suit with a black shirt beneath sheathes him in midnight hues, matching dark glasses that only the right angle will show a glimpse of light from within - some sort of prototype HUD glasses, probably - and a red near-holograph-patterned tie a glittering slash of color down from his throat. There’s a Spot™ pacing along to his right, with a large grey briefcase magnetically attached to its back so he could keep his hands free - a camera attached to the manipulator arm of the small robot scanning the area and watching the performance.

As Marlowe’s announced, his hands come together in applause, a smile tugging to his lips - but his gaze on the stage is focused on its shadows, and Yao Sze.

"Godfrey!" Marlowe startles and turns, caught redhanded in the cookie jar. Said hand reaches up to brush errant locks away from her face, but her curls will do as they want tonight, especially with the outdoor nature of the stage. Still, she matches him grin for cocky grin. "Damn right," she says, bolstered with growing confidence, "and damn straight. You better be ready for the cue too."

She's turned back to watching the showcase introductions with Kimiko and Praxis' COO Yao sharing the platform. Marlowe can't help the slight misgivings and competitive stirrings within. Isabelle's greetings gets a reflective uptick of her impeccably done brow line and a considering crooked smile. "Absolutely. It's practically summer, and tradition. But, after this." One thing at a time, right? She also catches Kay's nod, which is gets her a clicker-hand salute. Just in time for the sounds of cheering to the announcement of Roosevelt Island. "That's the cue," singsongs Marlowe with a significant glance back to the dark grey suited Godfrey. And off she turns to approach from the left wing of the stage.

A smooth piano intro, familiar to a majority touched by Freddie Mercury's music, slides its way into the speakers.

Tonight, I'm gonna have myself a real good time

I feel ali-i-i-ive

And the world, I'll turn it inside out, yeah

I'm floating around in ecstasy

So don't stop me now…

Don't stop me

'Cause I'm having a good time, having a good time!

Marlowe quick-steps out onto the stage like a shooting star. As much as the showcase isn't meant to premiere Yamagato's newest Director of Technology, the woman doesn't exactly miss the opportunity to put on the show. The important part of it all is putting out the energy, with her body just about leaping through the sky and landing beside Yao Sze with a feline grace.

She turns, flashes a broad smile out to the crowd as Don't Stop Me Now runs on in the background as it goes (and goes and goes) without stopping. Marlowe saunters around Yao and moves to Kimiko's side in step with the beat. At "supersonic man out of you" the lyrics are notably altered to "cybernetic woman of you" and she points over at Kimiko's mechanical arm, passing an exaggerated wink to the crowd for the laugh. She's having a ball, y'all.

And even though she'd rather not stop at all, Marlowe presses a button discreetly on her clicker to fade off the music into the background so she can finally speak with the mic discreetly hidden in her hair picking up her voice over all the speakers over the fading lyrics. "Thank you, President Nakamura! Let's hear it for Yamagato, yeah!" cheers the tech director. "So that's right, I'm the new Tech Chief here in Yamagato America and tonight we have new and exciting projects and products here to show you. For your world now, for the world tomorrow, and for the world of our future!"

"…Quite the show, isn't it?"

The row behind Devon and Emily comes to life in Devon's ear first; aside from the abruptness, it takes him just a moment to pin the voice. Only one it could really be, given the timbre and pitch.

"Yamagato has some gorgeous wheels coming up." Huruma crosses her arms and leans on the back of the seat next to them, white eyes flicking across the pair. Not Batman, just Catwoman. The gold at her ears sways, same as throat.

"Is this a date? Am I dropping in on a date?" She sounds positively tickled by this possibility, teeth flashing in a smile. Please say yes.

Claiming the seats were easy enough. With everyone’s attention grabbed by the spectacle on stage, Devon and Emily snagged the pair without noticing who was around them. Part of it, for Devon anyway, had to do with his attention split between trying to follow the announcements while not losing Emily to the press of people vying for a better vantage point.

So when he hears that familiar voice from behind, he stiffens a bit.

His head turns first, and he looks at Emily. His expression is somewhat apologetic. Teasing is something he should probably expect, given the closeness of all his teammates. But still.


Shifting more in his seat, Dev turns to look at Huruma. Really? Are we 12 ?. “Yes.” A straightforward answer, and maybe with a touch of challenge to his tone, daring the woman to say more. Not that he waits for it, because he turns around to watch the presentation.

Joanne’s fozen with her drink half way to her lips. The extravagant entrance of all the tech bigwigs seems to have interrupted her drink. Once everyone has been introduced, the redhead leans in her seat towards her blonde companion. “When did geeks become so cool? I shoulda come outta hiding years ago…” She uses a free hand to gesture towards the stage. She pries her hazel gaze off the stage to give Sahara a conspiratorial side-eye and playful wink. “Then again, Dungeons and Dragons isn’t quite the same as building bionic arms, I suppose.”

The young redhead leans forward in her seat then to let out a whoop of excitement along with the rest of the audience. When in Rome and all that. A brief turn of her hazel eyes has her attentive gaze sweeping over those around her, including Huruma and company in the back, but she fails to recognize anyone or anything and turns her attention back upon the stage.

That piano music everyone was hearing?

If one looks carefully, they would see in the shadows near where Marlowe exited, a figure in a dark suit stands at — /Oh god why did he let Marlowe convince him to using it. How humiliating! — a decent sized keyboard, wired into the speaker system, controlled by the woman on the stage. That figure was Godfrey Wells providing the live accompaniment.

He is just as well put together and groomed as the new tech director. When the swing of pulsating lights swing over his suit shines a bit, but it’s muted compared to her. She was the star, he was just the music.

Fingers dance over the keys with the same enthusiasm as the first time he and Marlowe met. He looks up and watches her with amusement, enjoying the spectacle of it, even if for the umpteeth time. God how they had practiced and practiced.

Even as the sound fades back a bit, Godfrey’s fingers play absently over the keys, waiting for the next cue.

The sound of the voice behind them, sudden as it is and apparently directed at them draws an immediate turn of Emily's head. On the outside, she's fine. Raised hairs on the back of her neck are next to impossible to see in this low lighting.

But it can surely be felt by the empath who caused the reaction.

Already, though, Emily is breathing deeply, taking well-practiced steps to calm her biorhythms and — by extension — her emotions. Much better control than she's ever displayed before.

It leads to a small smile given in the direction of the sneaky Hound. "Hello again, Huruma." Emily murmurs. She looks back to the stage with a calm expression, lacking enthusiasm in it. She's really not all that impressed at the Chinese and Japanese patting themselves on the back for putting her country back together at a profit for themselves. (Surely there was profit.)

Her eyes light with interest when Marlowe takes the stage though. She looks American. She speaks like it, too, and Emily's posture shifts in response. She's open to hearing whatever this woman has to say, for sure — way more than the other executives, at least. She might even slip her hand from Devon's to clap.

Silas watches the bit about the California Safe Zone with some interest — new markets, new targets for expansion, after all. He doesn't really know a lot about the California Safe Zone, though, or about Praxis, the company running it; that's something he'll need to nail down before he starts making too much in the way of expansion plans in that direction. Come to think of it, might want to learn a bit more about Yama if I'm gonna be operating in their backyard, he muses. So far the company's been nothing but helpful to him, but the Pink Tie Gala had demonstrated that they definitely had enemies.

He's still musing on that, and still carefully considering the vision Yamagato's laying out, when he hears a rather familiar name get cited; he blinks… and then blinks again as Marlowe steps out onstage. Yep. It's Queen Lowe. He stares at the stage in shock for a moment… and then he starts to laugh quietly. Another face he recognizes; maybe not a queen here, but seems she's doing well enough for herself. He shakes his head and claps along with the rest of the crowd.

"Lovely." Huruma can't help but just grin back at Devon when he glowers at her, her eyes hooded in a moment of mirth. She doesn't say anything in terms of 'what about it', or even mention Emily's inward skitter of emotions.

"Hello, dear." She answers Emily with that same smile. "Your father's looking well." Is all the more that Huruma passes the girl's way. Considering the last conversation they had at length was about the boy sitting here and his death, it's a wonder she doesn't mention it in small talk. Huruma reaches up to tousle Devon's hair just a wee bit before she sits back, eyes on the event and the stage.

Teammates, closeness, nephew Devon, et cetera. Fortunately, that appears to be the depth of her intent to be a Cheshire overhead; Huruma's gaze focuses instead on the lights, appreciative of the aura around her. The crowd is mostly warm, receptive, excited. Watchfulness moves from Marlowe and her theater to find Sze, a falcon in the audience that keys in hungrily.

From the side stage, Kay brings her hands up to her mouth, cupping them to amplify the sounds of her own cheers. "Yeah, Marlowe!" she crows as the engineer is dancing around the stage. This is exactly the vitalization the PR director wants for their image. Young, vibrant, ready to usher the world into the future.

Next to Silas, Remi’s gaze lights up at the talk about the California Safe Zone. San Francisco…I had an apartment there, once upon a time in a far away land, she mentally notes to the man, a small smile on her face. Marlowe’s name, familiar to her too, prompts the telepath’s eyes to swoop to the stage, brows lifting a bit. She’s done well for herself in this life, it looks like. She smiles just a bit, clapping for the woman.

Yao takes a step back as Marlowe takes the stage, just after Kimiko begins to break away and allow Marlowe to take the spotlight. Some of the improvisations in Marlowe’s speech, especially that which draws attention to Kimiko’s prosthetic arm, elicit a sheepish smile from the CEO but she takes the focus in stride. She and Yao seem perfectly amicable on stage, there is no apparent tension between the two and both women flash perfectly precise smiles at the crowd and cameras. For those out of the know, it would be hard to imagine that there was anything other than professional competition going on beneath the surface, or that both women had so much blood on their hands.

Though she is certainly paying attention to the presentation while she scans the stage, Huruma's eye only partly focuses on Marlowe, another part on the projection, a sliver on Sze, the source of the accompaniment.

Though here for all the former—

It is the latter which her gaze hovers on, a lingering, almost drilling thing. Any look over Emily's or Devon's shoulders to answer her commentary moments ago is met by an empty seat. Huruma is gone in a silent sweep; Devon can probably find her in the dark from habit, slinking away down the side of the arena towards the corner of the pit. Just Huruma things. Nothing to see here.

Perhaps she's leaving out the quiet way; the tall woman ducks through the backstage door; rather than leaving— she remains, watching the flurries of activity from the wall, presenting that she belongs there.

Now that she's on center stage, Marlowe adds in a short applause for Godfrey off to the side, blowing an invisible kiss of thanks in the piano man's direction. A hand for the band, everybody. She then returns to the presentation at hand.

"President Nakamura provided you with a sneak-peek at our developments for Roosevelt Island. And as you've all no doubt discovered, travel through our Safe Zone has been a challenge to manage. Our busses have been steadily increasing with expanding routes as our infrastructure continues to improve," she continues on.

"It is our hope that this country returns to a state of excellence. It is our expectation that by looking at our past, we find the innovation needed in creating what New York and indeed America will grow into. For that, ladies and gentlemen, I present the first looks at our newest spotlight showcase of the Yamagato vision for personal automotive transportation. Get ready to go back to the future!"

With a wave of her hand (and a click of her remote device in the other), Marlowe activates the unveiling of eco-fleet to the masses. As "Elevate My Mind" by Stereo MC's plays, the video display features all seven vehicles from the Altum to the Ventus, cycling through AH-UN drone-cam captured displays of the vehicles being driven in conditions designed for their targeted markets:

The luxurious Altum sedan and Magnis limousine call to mind an officious dignity of their passengers as they drive down a fresh paved solar-tiled roadway, all glossy windows and shining chrome accents.

Side by side, the Civis sedan and sporty Civis-R weave around each other in obvious nods to a lovechild of a DMC DeLorean and Lamborghini Countach.

A Yamagato Lapis climbs at seemingly impossibly steep angles of a mountainside and splashes through muddy puddles, much to the delight of the family bouncing happily (and safely) along.

The muscle car feel of the growling Predator rolling over city streets looks as if it could chase down the sleek, agile form of the Ventus motorcycle ahead of it as they both weave around roadside urban obstacles with ease.

Smiling broadly, Marlowe controls the video presentation as it separates out into all seven types driving along a free and clear, open road surrounded by green fields. In a cut onto a flyover cam, the fleet of cars come together in a "Y" formation. "But don't let these pretty pictures dazzle you," she adds once there's been time to watch the display. "These aren't merely prototypes or far-off concepts or a lofty dream. These? Are real."

The stage backing splits into half, revealing all seven vehicles that drive out in the formation displayed on the screens. The Civis and Lapis forming the right branch, the Civis-R and Altum forming the left, and the long bodied Magnis headed by a central posted Ventus and Predator form the trunk of the Y. As they drive out, the muscle car and motorcycle pull forward to a stop behind the presenter, and she steps off to one side. The display on the upper central screen shows the evolving formation shift from the Yamagato Y into a Peace Sign as a circle of floor spotlights turns on and blasts bright illumination skyward.

And all the while, Marlowe continues smiling proudly as she looks out towards the crowds, gauging reaction and response.

Sahara is whooping excitedly from her seat. Now this was worth being around for. "Ohhhh, look at that one!" she coos, pointing with a lift of her finger off the side of her glass. New housing was fine and everything, but she lived here, and more importantly, she had a road trip coming up to look forward to. This presentation just got worthwhile for her. "Jo, which one do you like the best?" she asks excitedly.

Pale brows start creeping higher and higher as the presentation goes from imagination to reality in an inspired sweep of the stage backdrop. “The peace sign is a nice touch,” she admits with equal levels of sarcasm and approval. Credit where credit’s due, even if it’s big money playing on hopes and dreams. “Which one? How does anyone choose just one chocolate from the box?” She shakes her head, tossing lazy waves around her shoulder as she laughs and sips her drink.

Silas nods agreement at Remi's thought… but that's all he has time for, because damn. All he can do is nod, grin, and clap with increasing enthusiasm. She's hitting all the right notes with her speech — 'return to excellence'? Hell yes. The vehicles are pretty damn nice, too; he definitely wants one of them at some point down the line. The hard part is deciding which one! The Predator looks like fun, whereas the Magnis… maybe someday he'll be rich enough to have one of those. And the Civis… well. He's always been a sucker for the DeLorean, ever since Back to the Future. Maybe three or four years down the line, he muses, considering financial projections.

Emily's smile fades at the mention of her father, the outward bubble of emotions from her inverting into a well. She more associated Huruma's overall presence with the Ryans father than her own, and the surprise mention of him leaves her a blank slate.

She looks away for only a moment when the presentation screen blares brightly with light and calls her attention, but that's all that Huruma needed to slip away, apparently. Emily settles her hand more tightly in Devon's as she turns back toward the stage, more distanced from the glamour of the presentation than she was before— not that it makes any difference overall. She wasn't cheering before and she's not cheering now.

Emily does lean over to Devon to nudge him, though. "See? A roof and everything," she asides lightly.

While the crowd cannot hear what else is going on, they can see during the dramatic display as the stage is cleared for the eco fleet to enter, Kimiko Nakamura slipped a phone out from her pocket and ducked behind the stage curtain to receive a call. It didn’t look planned, and everything about her posture seemed to indicate it wasn’t an expected call either. That brief departure is not lost on the representative from Praxis, who levels a look in Kimiko’s direction and then squares her attention on the back of Marlowe’s head, keeping her distance on the far right side of the stage while Yamagato’s ostentatious show goes on.

From the crowd, a pair of World Expo security move up the stairs at the ground level and into the rear seats. Their attention is focused on the guests, not on the stage. In the crowd, a tall and thin man in a black suit is scanning the audience, his long and dark hair tied back into a ponytail, beard neatly trimmed. Few people here outside of Yamagato Industries recognize Eizen Erizawa for who he is, but the chief of security for Yamagato Park wasn’t here when the demonstration began.

In Marlowe’s pocket there’s a vibration, a text message.

Still standing at the piano and playing it when needed, Godfrey continues to watch Marlowe for the keys, but also with a touch of pride for a fellow co-worker. However, it is hard not to notice the exit of Kimiko… more importantly… like an itch between his shoulder blades, he feels eyes upon him. The source isn’t where he can see it past the glare of lights.

Something tells him to look towards the darkness of the wing next to him, movement pulling his attention. For a brief moment, Godfrey looks startled, in fact… his stalker feels it. But then the look bleeds away into a smug and confident smile. The man, gives a slow and reverent nod to Huruma to acknowledge her presence. Just a brief thing before he goes back to his job… else Marlowe have his head. (Which is up you the reader.)

He was always a little better about feeling the stare, somewhere between intuitive and smooth tension. Huruma is there, lingering, arms crossing as she takes a lean against the wall of the passage. Though she makes no move to get any closer, remaining far enough from the stage entrance to be ignored.

Startle gets a smile, of course. A sliver of white amidst her lips. The taste of smugness earns something more, in the shape of lowering eyelids in a look of appraisal. The rise of her chin comes at his nod, her own way of it.

Just as good with his hands as always, it appears.

The razzle dazzle of Yamagato's eco-fleet getting a great response from the crowd gives Marlowe the bolstering energy she feeds off of. Her smile is wide but lips held together, her breath still kept in check as she feels the buzz of a message in her pocket about the same time as Kimiko's exit. Not that the new tech director has noticed yet. A demure glance down, a slip of her hand into her pocket.

She steps back into the central circle of spotlight as the eco-fleet rolls in formation around the stage once. Using the vehicles movement as a distraction tactic, Marlowe could be mistaken for using the moment to check some presentation notes rather than the text on her phone. But those close enough to the stage, those watching her on the big video screen, might note the flicker of surprise, then a shadow over her expression at the contents.

But it's only just. Because her fingers flick through a return text that reads only:

w んp MK 🙃💜

Then her phone slides back into the pocket when it came as the eco-fleet drives away backstage.

"So you liked that, huh?" Marlowe turns to focus back to the crowd and smiles brightly. "You're going to like this more. Because not only are we rolling out our eco-fleet designed for you in mind, but those of you on the go should get ready for all the meet-ups and connections you're going to make with my personal favorite, our brand new Awasu mobile device."

Bright words flash over the video screens: CHECK THIS OUT!

The sleek design of the Awasu modular mobile device appears in three configurations as it first appears as a typical widescreen tablet laying on a flat surface with a colorful World's Fair logo animated over the screen. A sharp dressed man picks up the device, carrying it along and enters a brightly lit, clean looking cafe where he picks up his coffee and finds a seat in a booth.

The tablet soon physically transforms the gadget into one capable of standing on its own varied and adjustable angles as the man swipes a camera into view, showing that he's conversing with a young professional woman. Soon, the woman comes into the cafe carrying another one of the devices, and she greets the man and they sit.

Finally, the man folds the angled tablet in on itself to shorten into a portable handheld mobile phone. Together, the pair take a moment to take a high-quality selfie with the Yamagato cafe logo in the background.

The whole time, the device's screen bends and adjusts durably, and the applications move deftly in real time according to the user's whim. And it wouldn't be properly Japanese designed without the appearance of a Yamagato logo and surprise emoji shifting into a big smiling emoji that fades into a world emoji. The kana characters for AWASU pop up last on the video screens.



Unite Your World

As the video plays, Marlowe keeps her eyes looking out to the crowd, hand on her palmed clicker.

Devon had already put Huruma out of his mind. At least that's what he'd like her to believe. His attention stays on the presentation, and he admires the vehicles that are displayed. But not with the level of excitement he'd had for the Mantis.

“Yeah, it's more sensible,” he agrees. It's hard to argue that it's not, even if it didn't have a roof. He leans over to avoid shouting to be heard over the crowd. “I mean… it wouldn't be a terrible thing to have one of those instead.”

The next display is intriguing. Not more interesting than the vehicles, but interesting in a new tech-toy way. Foldable tablets? How amazing is that! Dev turns his head to observe Emily's take on the gadget.

Kimiko’s departure is not lost on Kaydence. Keeping out of sight, she ducks behind the curtain and walks at a clipped pace until she’s at the CEO’s side. “Ms Nakamura?” she whispers, announcing her presence without reaching out to physically grab her attention.

There aren’t many things that would pull her off stage during such an important presentation. It’s Kay’s business to make sure things can and will continue to run smoothly, if at all possible.

Emily doesn’t offer a verbal take on the new product that’s showed up on screen, but she does sit up a little straighter, leaning forward as though it might let her get a sharper look at the images flying by on the screen. “Maybe one of them comes with a sunroof, just in case,” she murmurs back, belated and likely lost in the sound. She’s talking about the cars, but she’s fixated on the phone.

She’s weighing the benefits of having a phone that does all that versus her perfectly good one that still works. “I’d be worried about breaking that thing, if every angle on it is essentially a screen,” she finally says out loud. Even she knows that’s a weak argument.

Behind the curtain, Kimiko looks over to Kaydence and slowly shakes her head. “Security had a call come in, possible threat. Eizen doesn’t think it’s serious, a young man phoned it in to our front desk. I just— I…” Kimiko’s prosthetic hand clutching her phone is trembling, a fact which she tries to hide by taking hold of her own wrist.

The security up in the stands move quickly from row to row, trying to appear both calm while at the same time moving with swift urgency. They signal with two quick blinks of a flashlight to Eizen down in the crowd, who waves them off and makes his way to the side of the stage, beckoning Yao Sze over. While Marlowe has everyone’s attention, Yao comes down a few steps and leans in to Eizen. Whatever he says to her is short, but Yao looks immediately concerned. She looks back to where Kimiko was, then is escorted down off the stage at her request by Eizen.

In the crowd, no one is much the wiser about the situation at hand. And yet, Huruma can feel someone in the crowd emitting waves of anxiety and dread, but also anger and resentment and frustration. It’s like suddenly getting a whiff of a particularly sour fart, it ruins the ambience.

Meandering back from the restroom (duty calls), Isabelle catches the middle of Marlowe's presentation, there's no layer of sweat on her brow from running to the bathroom and back. God damn small bladder. The pyrokinetic rubs at her face, scar unlit but still warm just like the rest of her.

Noticing the mood shift backstage and the security sweeping through the crowd. Hazel eyes flick to Marlowe and Godfrey and then to Kimiko and Kimiko and the engineer makes way towards the two women with a raised eyebrow bringing her warmth with her. "What the hell is going on?" Isa's time at Yamagato has not dulled her edge, or cleaned her mouth out.

Sahara is on-board for the glam and the oohs and the ahhs of it all, but her eyes lose some of their honeyed warmth when the not-English floats over the screen. She adjusts her grip on her drink, sipping from it and righting her posture. In the moments after she falls out of being enchanted by the presentation, she catches sight of the security roaming the crowd, the flash of the light to signal each other.

Something doesn't sit right with her about that. “Mmm, Jo?” she asks suddenly, voice still bright and light if a little hollow. “Maybe we should head outside, see if there's any demos going on out there? I'm sure they have to be setting some up. Wanna be first in line?” Her eyes continue to scan curiously, the bad feeling in her gut unable to be shook.

The main focus of Godfrey’s attention is on Marlowe and her presentation, but slowly, things start catching his eye. Movement in the audience, the flash of lights. Praxis’ CEO leaving the stage. What on earth was happening? While there is a touch of concern… His thoughts are more curious. Security was gather…


Even as fingers play over keys, remembering each key without looking, Godfrey watches it all unfold, like a hawk watching the ground below.

Not again. Kay's expression remains stony, even if her mind is racing a hundred miles an hour. If she still had Monica at her disposal… A frown dismisses the thought. She doesn't have Monica at her disposal, and that's just the way it is.

"What do you want to do?" sounds a bit more like we should get you out of here. Kay glances down at Kimiko's trembling hand, then quickly back up to her boss' face. Her own phone is slipped out of her pocket so she can text a message to her daughter, who's sitting in the audience. "What do you want me to do?"

Though she is unseen behind a portion of stage right corridor, Huruma can feel the dots of negativity poking through the excitement like pinholes in paper. A silent look around the corner from where she came allows her to study the situation from a prime vantage point. Security, women sidling stage left.

The bitterness that she finds in the stands reminds her more of a bite into a sour apple. It sticks out, tart and acidic. The dark woman does not remain where she is for long.

In a few seconds time she slips out again, strolling her way along the edge of the audience. Huruma too, sticks out— but someone intently watching may note she is searching each aisle. For another bite, empathic fingers brushing strings as it goes. Eizen does his job well enough to absolutely see what she is getting at. Let the bloodhound flush it out, a bird in the bush.

Joanne's gaze on the cell-tablet-gizmo is skeptical, and thereby easily deterred at Sahara's friendly prompting. "Go? Are you su-…" Her polite, inquiring response trails away as follows her blonde friend's distracted attentions. The drink in her hand slips suddenly and clacks around awkwardly before she manages to right it. If she could pale further than her standard alabaster complexion, she would, but as it is her freckles simply stand out further.

"This is why I don't do crowds," Jo manages as a whispered squeak as her hazel eyes, flecked with winks of gold, track a guard. Where the handful of drinks and Sahara's contagious cheer had abated most of her earlier anxieties, the simple sight of security moving with calm but clear purpose sobers her quickly. She reaches out towards Saraha's hand but quickly corrects the motion and lays a hand on her friend's clothed shoulder instead. "Yeah. Let's do the thing. So many booths to see, so many swag bags to collect…." She stands and aims to lead her friend with a little tug.

Silas watches the display; the 'Awasu' thing looks pretty neat, but it's a little… out of his aesthetic, he guesses. When it comes to phones, he'd rather have something old and reliable, rather than some kind of new space-age laser phone/tablet doohickey.

Still, he watches the video dutifully, out of respect for Queen Lowe if nothing else… or he tries, at least. It's hard to stay focused. Why is that? His gaze turns away from the video, sweeping across the stage… where's the Yamagato CEO gotten off to? And over in the corner, the Praxis lady seems to be getting an update from someone Silas is sure is a security goon of one stripe or another.

With a nonchalance that comes of long practice, he sweeps his gaze over the crowd… there. Security goons have a look to them, and if that guy over there isn't a security goon searching the crowd, he'll eat his non-existent hat. Something's got the security frothed up. "Amelie?" he murmurs. He's not sure if it was an echo of something she picked up or his own finely honed sense for brewing trouble that drew his attention — or both — but Remi's definitely got the better radar when it comes to picking up specifics about anything that might be bubbling in the background… although he realizes that asking her to pick something up in a crowd of this size might be a bit much. Still, no harm in asking. You getting any vibes about something off here, or is it just me?

The Awasu model display fades into the Yamagato America logo, which in turn restores the World's Fair logo to indicate to the audience the conclusion on Marlowe's bombastic Showcase presentation on her company's behalf. The approach from Eizen to the stage side hadn't gone unnoticed, but the show had to go on. Only when the presentation finishes does Marlowe speak up again to address the crowd.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Yamagato Industries thanks you for your time and consideration. We'll now take a brief intermission. Please take the time to visit our booths, see these models up close and personal, and explore the rest of wonderful innovations at the World's Fair!"

Waving her hand with sparkling accessories glittering in the stage light, Marlowe makes her way off stage to join up with the remaining Yamagato personnel. Scattered 'good job's and thanks for staff and helpers alike given as she goes, she finds Godfrey first to clasp his hand and give her more heartfelt thanks. At least, by gesture.

She's already pulled the turned off mic mostly hidden in her hair and passed it off to a fair helper. The rest of her look says it all, anxious expression passed between Godfrey and Isabelle nearby. "I got a text about a threat… what is happening?" Her gaze sweeps over quickly to where Kimiko and Kaydence stand, and beyond that where the Praxis representative and their company's employees backstage have gone.

When Marlowe vacates the stage, so to does Godfrey. The gesture of thanks is returned with a cheeky smile and a small dip of his head that clearly says You’re welcome.

The surprise on Godfrey’s face says it all, he didn’t have a clue before Marlowe told him. “Really?” Even his tone suggests it, a glancing going back to the stage and the gathering beyond. “Well, that explains the sudden appearance of tall, dark and, chiseled.” Yeah, he saw Eizen out there.

Godfrey follows Marlowe’s gaze to where Kimiko is with Kay, but should she move that way, she’ll find him staying where he is. He’ll have a good excuse, but he’d rather not tempt fate.

“Eizen messaged me to say he may have found someone,” Kimiko says to Marlowe and Kaydence as the house lights start coming on and the crowd disperses for the unplanned intermission, “we need to— ”

Intermission,” comes the sharp interjection from Yao Sze as she comes storming over from the side of the stage. The Praxis COO has a phone clenched tightly in one hand, brows lowered and her face twisted into a severe scowl. “You have your gigantic showboat moment and then you cut to an intermission before I’m supposed to go on!” Whatever Eizen said, it didn’t seem to bother her as much as that.

“Ms. Sze,” Kimiko responds diplomatically, “I apologize, but this is for all our safety. Eizen has said he— ” But once again Kimiko is interrupted by a series of soft yelps of surprise from the crowd. People start spreading out around from a young man laying face down on the ground, backpack on his back and phone not far away. Security is slowly moving in, Eizen among them. In the crowd their respective heights allow Huruma and Eizen to share a momentary look.

No one else is aware of what happened, from the crowd’s perspectives someone just fainted. But Huruma could feel his emotions, the fox she was smoking out, she could feel them one minute and then zap, a sudden flash of panic and then steady psychic noise of someone who is unconscious. Eizen and the Yamagato Security scoop the young man up and make a show of seeing if he’s dehydrated.

“He’s fainted!” Eizen calls out, “let’s get him to the security tent.”

No need to panic, everything is under control.

Breathing in steadily, Kimiko looks back to Marlowe, Godfrey, and Kaydence. “We should get a safe distance, just in case. I want to know what’s going on,” she says sharply, followed by a look to Yao Sze who merels narrows her eyes accusingly at Kimiko.

But the crowd is thinning out, moving out of the theater, and security is hauling the young man away.

No one the wiser just how close things came to tragedy.

Just like every other day.

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