Start A Revolution


asi_icon.gif marlowe_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Start A Revolution
Synopsis A seed of a revolution is planted.
Date July 4th, 2021

Outside the ruined Brooklyn Museum, near Prospect Park

Park Slope

When it comes down to it, Marlowe’s emoji-laden messages are often underestimated as an indecipherable exuberance of emotions boiled down into hieroglyphics meant for social networked youths of the ages. She’d argue that they’re just as efficient in transmitting the point. It might take some people a little extra effort to decrypt, that’s all.

And sometimes, it’s a tell on the woman’s mood when all that’s transmitted is: 🙏🏾👀🏛️🥦↗️

Not a sparkle or heart to be seen.

It’ll be a few hours before dusk and the inevitable boom-pops of fireworks (and possibly gunfire) begin in earnest for the Safe Zone in celebration of a national holiday that rings a little hollow in more recent times. At least the weather’s kind of nice. It’s not raining. Which is why Marlowe has chosen an outdoor meeting spot on the steps of the Brooklyn Museum, still closed - likely permanently - to the public. The facade of the building has long been graffiti’d with all manner of messages tagged on it, and its halls emptied of anything of value since the War. The museum’s location being situated at the border to the under-served Park Slope neighborhood means there is no electricity or running water for the building either. It’s a purposefully blacked out spot to gather, for there is much to be discussed and reason to not risk being tracked or surveilled in the Safe Zone.

Sat on the top of the steps, Marlowe gazes out to the weeds and hardy plants poking up in the cracked concrete, surviving and thriving without any curating hand, and further to the denser wall of trees in the untamed forest encroaching from the border of Prospect Park. Her hands clasped, fingers intertwined, elbows on her thighs, chin leaned on knuckles, she is her own version of the Thinking Man, pondering silently and sitting in wait for the messaged to show. If they show.

"What the hell," Monica says as she approaches Marlowe's spot from the wrong side of the building, "is the broccoli about?" It's a miracle she figured out where she meant at all, frankly.

She comes over to sit next to Marlowe, pulling a thermos out of her bag. She passes it over, offering it to her friend first. "Coffee," she says, "the top cap is a little cup. Very convenient. And I've got whiskey, too, if it's that sort of meeting." She likes to have all the bases covered. It's been… such a time lately. And Marlowe looks stressed. Which is not a good sign. Monica used to bend herself into knots trying to keep the stressful parts of their lives away from Marlowe. No one else took up the task when she was fired. Obviously.

If they'll show? Of course they'll show. Asi is the last to, but she's made sense of the broccoli and appeared, too– one hand curled around an unopened bottle of whiskey, because for her, that's this sort of meeting. She looks to the south to the shade of the greenery and overgrowth and remarks to herself, "Can't believe the last rain knocked out the smoke smell as well as it did. Almost magic." There are no cups for the drink she contributes, and as she begins to climb the stairs to join Marlowe and Monica.

"I'm always a fan of seeing new and unusual places, but this one surprised me. Are we sticking nearby or is this a walking adventure?" she wonders, not sitting down just yet. A beat pauses before she admits, "I'm glad you reached out. I'd been meaning to talk and probably would have put it off until too late otherwise."

The comfortable bond Marlowe has built up to not startle with Monica's unconventional approaches really shows. "It's green, grows in trees," answers the woman quietly. Her eyes finally shift from the larger forest to the offered cup and she takes the coffee gratefully in cupped hands. "And it's cute."

She sips the coffee. Black.

Marlowe makes a face at the bitter tang, but doesn't request a mixer of whiskey yet. For the moment, the woman's grimace from the coffee twists into something of a warmer smile as she looks more fully at the pair gathered beside her. "I'm glad you came. Because yeah, this is, well it's a little more than a social call." She knows that they know. To say it aloud seems to solidify the wobbly, anxious nerve threatening to seize up her throat.

With the thermos cap in her hand still, she stands, not to start moving from the museum's steps but to stretch stiffly and warm up some of the circulation in her legs. How long she'd been sitting there, hands on her phone, the message drafted and unsent… they could guess hours. "But, you both look good," Marlowe says after an assessing scan of them. "Everything's… still running smoothly?" she asks Monica with a free hand motion to the Knightwing. "And you, Asi? How's work?"

They can tell already, even without the usual physical invite of a friendly hug, that Marlowe has other things on her mind. She’s stalling.

"They don't make tree emojis?" Monica asks the question, but doesn't seem worried about it actually being answered. She shifts to look at Asi when she appears and gives her a bit of a wave in greeting. Usually, she's more enthusiastic about seeing her friends, but the mood here tonight is weighing on her.

Her attention moves back to Marlowe when she starts in on small talk moments after claiming this is more than a social call. Her brow furrows. "If the arm wasn't working smoothly, you'd both already know about it." Which Marlowe definitely already knows. "What the hell is wrong?" Her tone is serious and her muscles tense, like she might need to jump up and fight for their lives at any moment. It isn't panic, as well they both know, but readiness. And willingness.

Asi pulls the bottle she's brought properly in front of her, grabbing the cap of it and twisting the metal seal until it breaks. "Well, I'm taking some time half-off of work and half-not to not go causing some international incidents because I've finally got a solid lead on where the real me is, so–"

She lifts the bottle clear to head-height in cheers before tipping it back to take a healthy gulp off the top of it.

"Monica's right, though," she points out, and offers the bottle out in full encouragement to switch from social call to serious talk. "Whatever's going on with us pales to whatever has you like this. What's going on?"

The way Marlowe's eye corners twitch at Monica's directness causes a lurch in the already balking sense of the woman's attempt to smooth her way into the conversation. She takes another, longer sip from the coffee filled thermos cap.

"Everything, Moni. Everything."

The words nearly choke to a stop as Marlowe looks to the whiskey, considers, then slowly holds out her cup to Asi for a pour. "You warned me," she continues with a volume thinned to a whisper, "You said Yamagato was corporate and cutthroat, and I— I didn't want to see it… I didn't."

Marlowe sucks in a quick breath, using air to push back the water threatening to spill from her stinging eyes. "Kawahara pulled all the plugs," she says grimly, "Anything that was potentially 'financially insolvent', he axed and replaced it with developing military drones. I'm working for fucking Palpatine." Marlowe's grip on the cup tightens even as her hand shakes. "I work for the damn Empire." Not of Japan, at least not anymore, and maybe not ever, she’s finally realized. She looks to the pair, pleading worry pushing the first tears over the edges and down her cheeks. "Please don't hate me."

Monica listens in silence, letting Marlowe get her thoughts out without interruption. But there's nothing like hate in her expression, nothing near judgment. Just sorrow and regret. She reaches out, wrapping her arms around Marlowe. The hug is meant to be a comfort, reassurance, but there's a fierceness to it.

"We don't hate you," she says first, because she wants to clear that up before anything else. "Don't be ridiculous." That's added with a hint of a tease, because Marlowe certainly knows neither Monica nor Asi have clean hands. She looks over at Asi, her expression considering. There is a small, but growing list of people that Monica has been debating putting her… old skills to work on and Asi can practically see Kawahara's name being added to it.

"So he's dropped the pretenses. Interesting." The assassin formerly on Yamagato's payroll is not at all shocked by the shift to military hardware— and she's not ruling out that her insubordination likely pushed the company away from human weapons. Unreliable. Emotional. "We should find out who is buying the drones and when and how they're being shipped. Asi— I know you have a lot on your plate but if you find yourself with a free moment, we could use your expertise."

A plan has obviously already formed.

Asi's brow furrows in sympathy for Marlowe, and she pours a dollop from the bottle into Marlowe's cup before setting it down on the stairs next to her in case she'd like to add more than the modest amount that's been presented. "Yamagato…" she starts carefully. "was a different company under Kimiko Nakamura. I think that's worth saying. You're seeing what it's like now when less work is done to hide a thing's worst nature, when it's leaned into because it could supposedly be more profitable."

She swings herself down into a sit on Marlowe's other side, drawing an arm around her shoulder too so she and Monica make up two parts of a Marlowe sandwich. "Don't forget– I still haven't been fired as a contractor for them, at least not officially. You're not alone in feeling uneasy about what your work might be asked to be used for." Then again, if Kay were to call her now, Asi would be able to and would have to decline. Marlowe doesn't get that opportunity.

"I may be out of pocket for a while," she laments quietly, "But Jiba could help us find out where they're going. And once I'm back for good, we can dig into what those people are doing with the drones once they're received." Her first instinct is to squeeze Marlowe in a tighter hug of comfort, so she does, wishing she could lessen how terrible all of this is somehow. "If there's any sign they might be going to Pure Earth like Praxis' tech apparently had… we'll make sure its value is short-lived."

A slight lean forward to look past Marlowe to Monica precedes a thoughtful, "Or far under its purchase point."

From the moment Monica's arms wrap around her, Marlowe shudders like a dam on verge of breaking into a flood of overwhelmed tears. But she doesn't pull away or try to break out of the squeeze between the supports on either side. The need for them is there, before there's the possibility of collapse.

Still, because the women muse on the consequences aloud, Marlowe fights for her composure. She knuckle-dabs away the twin lines streaked into her makeup, reaches for the whiskey, and takes a quick swig of it. "He knows what he wants," she says grimly, "and what he's doing. Praxis Heavy's designs are already in our databases, the Tetsujin, the AHUN drones, and the… intention… to entice the highest bidder with upgrades I suppose." Upgrades that she's in charge of. "Bidders like Cedric Hesser. No doubt to entrench Yamagato's influence further into the government, secure market share by slapping a USA-Made sticker on the label and flying them under the flag."

Asi's mention of Jiba and Kimiko have Marlowe's mind in a whirl. "That's not even all of it," she adds. "Jiba's. We cut him loose," she confesses further. "Because… because I need help with other things. And Kimiko's…" Her gaze cuts to Asi, her words halt. But, recalling Monica's forthrightness, Marlowe swallows another gulp of liquid courage. "Hachiro saved her, kind of. She… she's not whole. Not complete. After she died, he digitized what he could of her. And now she's in the system. She's with Jiba. I'm working on stabilizing her, but Kawahara's got me dancing on hot coals." Marlowe can't bring herself to look her friends in the eyes, so she looks to her cup, to her wobbling reflection in the surface of the spirits.

"It wasn't that different a company." Monica herself is proof that Yamagato has always had cruelty and ruthlessness under the polite veneer. She doesn't argue the point further, though, because they're both aware of what her job was. And how Kimiko removed her from it. How cruelly and ruthlessly she did so.

She's quiet for a long moment after Marlowe explains further. She hasn't ever talked to anyone about her emotional connection to Jiba, or that saying goodbye to them was somehow more painful than the surgery that separated her from her arm. So instead of any comment on Jiba specifically, she lets loose only one thought.

"So she's alive?" She sighs. "How disappointing."

But then, she takes the whiskey to add it to her own coffee. "So. We sabotage the shipments. We study your boss and find a time when he's vulnerable. We stop this nonsense at the source." As if it were so easy. But then. It was her job to do exactly this for years. And before that, for the fight.

Asi only nods tightly for the news about Jiba. "Jiba paid me a visit at the Bastion. Them and a disembodied technopath. Both recent– after I found out my latest bit of news to chase." She settles back into the cushion of the concrete and reaches for the bottle of whiskey when it's set aside to take another sip straight from the bottle. Swallowing twice to clear her throat, she agrees, "Monica's plan would be quite thorough. But…"

She dithers for a moment, considers taking another drink. She doesn't know if Monica knows about this yet, doesn't want to peel that back right away.

"… Is there even time for that?" Asi asks carefully. Since she was last briefed on the pending end of the world, things looked grim– and that's been almost two months ago. "Or do you have to just work around him for the time being and hope for the best?"

Marlowe can't help the softened cough of a laugh from Monica's disappointment of Kimiko's semi-living state, but she nods slowly to confirm it. The woman looks surprised to hear Jiba's communication to Asi, lips pursing in thought of a technopath in cohorts with the AI. The implications are many. She decides not to focus on it too much.

"We could do both, to make sure the warlord doesn't have his way fully, and sour his supporters to him," Marlowe says nodding slowly to Monica's suggestion. "But." There's the but. "There is a lot to do, little time to do it, and no room for errors. Not when some extinction level event is said to be coming." She finishes off the first cup of whiskey-coffee and sighs heavily into the empty cup. Marlowe's eyes close for a moment, her brow pinched together, fighting against the overwhelming thought of the impending apocalypse.

And whether or not she believes it even still.

When her eyes reopen, she looks steadier in the emotional turbulence. "I'm sure you both know about it now. The flare? The bunker that Raytech and Yamagato are building on Vashon Island. Project Agartha out west. There's… not much room, and we're basically under oath to keep silent on it to not… not cause war again." Because that is surely what would happen. "You both have spots there," she reassures. Marlowe hasn't much by way of immediate family here, but what could they do if she quit over not letting those she had bonded with in on the list? She frowns at the thought. "What bothers me is, well. A lot. But the most? I think… I think Kawahara is planning on coming out of this alive and holding all the cards. To be the one dealing protection like… a fucking yakuza." Marlowe lowers her head further, forehead once again pressed to the backs of her hands.

The lack of surprise on Monica's face is probably the most telling. She lets out a heavy sigh before looking at the other two. "I've been trying not to think about it since Luther told me. Not that I haven't thought about how to punch the sun, but I'm assured it simply isn't possible." That's probably a joke. Probably. "I can't imagine," she continues, more solemnly, "sitting in a bunker while the world ends."

She didn't do that any of the times it's been offered to her. But her struggle this time is that she's not sure where the fight is, how to stand between the world and its ending.

"That guy, your boss. I'll do whatever I can to make sure he doesn't come out of it holding all the cards." Ideally, she'd like him to not come out of it at all. "This bunker. Do you trust it? Do you think it's going to do what they're claiming?"

"Before Richard Ray went off with Eve, Chess, and others to the flooded world– he left trusted Raytech employees with marching orders to find … solutions." Asi doesn't know what else to call it than that. "Some were meant to find ways to contain the Evolved responsible for the oncoming end. My own piece of it was between brainstorming shielding methods that would allow any ark tech to outlast the end of the world, and also…" She tongues one canine and looks aside before reaching for the bottle again. "Pushing SEER tech to do what companies like InVerse and Renautas Corp have already achieved in their areas– digitizing human consciousness."

Her brow creases and she takes the drink she desperately needs. "I don't know one hundred percent if I trust any one group ambitious enough to outlast the end of the world, but I think there may be enough groups working together to cover their collective asses that so long as no one unit emerges with more chips than the other, maybe that whole thing will work."

"As if my team wasn't already tearing their hair out over underground worries, I don't want to think about trying to build something that'll put out the eye in the sky," Marlowe sighs deeply. "Even though, I guess, it wants to put us out instead." She slowly shakes her head, torn on her answer to Monica's question, and even more skeptical when Asi mentions the prospect of multi-dimensional travels to save their world.

"I… I have to. I have to trust it, if that's what it's going to take to save us." Marlowe finally answers as she reaches for the whiskey that Monica brought. It's an appropriate time for two bottles, apparently. She tips back a large mouthful of the spirit as she considers Asi's conceptualizing of possible collective and cooperative groups. "You know me, though," her words roll thickly, "I don't give anything less than a hundred percent. Minimal tolerance of error. And, it's not only gotta work perfectly, it's gotta look good." A humorless smirk quirks at the side of Marlowe's mouth. She takes a moment to pour a refill into the thermos cap.

Marlowe offers the whiskey back to its purchaser, eyes glimmering wetly and somewhat puffy as she looks from Asi to Monica to between them. She really shouldn't look in a mirror right now. "I need to protect Hachiro, Jiba, and by way of that, Kimiko. Yamagato, it cannot fail. Too much depends on it now. So, what can I do? What can we do? Where do we even start? With Kawahara?"

"Save us?" Monica can't help a laugh there, bitter as it is. "How many bunkers are there? How many can each bunker fit? Fifty thousand? Less?" She shakes her head, cybernetic fingers running through her hair in a nervous gesture. This is why she's been trying not to think about it. "And that handful that survive— assuming they do at all— what sort of world will they walk back into? What are they being saved for?"

And will it be worth it, being one of those survivors, given what's likely to be left for them?

That's the question she doesn't voice. But for someone who has fought and fought to save the world, to make it better… knowing that the universe itself is about to make that all for nothing—

It's hard for her to think about.

So, instead, she switches gears, moving to something she can do. "Information," she says, as for where they start with Kawahara. "Information and access. Like collapsing a bridge. Target his supports, the whole structure collapses. We don't want to stop him only to have the next guy in line step right into place. We want to crack the very foundation." It's a tactic she's used before. And is likely to use again.

If they live that long.

Asi places a hand on Marlowe's shoulder briefly when she notes her feelings about the project needing to continue and look good in the process. Finding ways to normalize and keep moving in times like this had to come in whatever ways possible.

"Monica has the right of it," she says softly enough. Then she looks ahead, thinking for a moment before saying carefully, "For me, though, I think for my involvement in any of it you're going to have to wait until the real me gets back. If either of us get back." She runs her tongue along her teeth uncomfortably at that. "I have–"

Without so much as a breath, Asi suddenly sinks forward, elbows to knees, bottle set down so she can take her face in both hands. "No fucking idea how this is going to turn out. But either we find the answers that keeps this me going, or I get the real one back." She mutters, "The one with the power to do something in all of this. Not… not the one breaking down worse by the week."

"Which, honestly," she notes with a broken laugh. "What a Looney Tunes set of things to say."

"Twenty." Marlowe's retort hasn't any bite to it, and it drowns in a shallow pool of despair. She hasn't figured out any solution to increase that number that won't risk further lives. "Twenty thousand," she echoes, licks her lips, and reaches again for the whiskey. She takes two deep swigs out of the bottle, no longer bothering with a pour into her cup, but just as soon sets the glass down and nudges it away with a sniff of breath. Her throat burns, her eyes sting on the edges with tears as she turns to Monica. She's listening.

Marlowe doesn't say very much upon the description of those tactics, but the way her eyes widen shows she knows exactly what strategy her friend describes. The tried and true plan saw much use in the war; she personally saw bridges fall and buildings topple as a result of her lending her power to the fight. Slowly, Marlowe nods in growing understanding of Monica's metaphor. Her features shift, tighten, and sober.

"Hachiro and I are working on everything we can in the time we have. Daijoubu," Marlowe says quietly, this time moving her hand to pull one of Asi's aside, to clasp with a squeeze of reassurance. With her other, she reaches for Monica's to link together with her friends, to form a chain of strength. "It's going to be okay," Marlowe declares with dry, stark clarity. "We'll beat that old dinosaur, and inherit the earth. The revolution starts, now."

She looks between them, but the movement causes her vision to swim a bit with the rapid intake of alcohol hitting her system. Marlowe winces, a faint groan escaping her. "Okay, maybe after a short walk."

"Hey," Monica says to Asi, her tone firm, "you're just as real as each other." To her, both Asi's are real, both her friends, and she worries about losing one as much as she does not getting the other back. "And you'll figure all this out. No more falling apart, no more missing person."

She ends up taking Marlowe's hand a little more firmly than she means to. But the list of problems they're dealing with is piling up, reaching insurmountable. It isn't a position Monica is familiar with and she's decided she doesn't like it. Despair prowls around her like a hungry wolf— a predator she's been trying to outrun her whole life. But now? Today? She feels the heat of its breath and isn't entirely sure there is anywhere left to run to. It's all she can do to compartmentalize. Lock each problem up in their own tower and climb one at a time. Until the heat death of the universe. Which looms distressingly.

"Revolution starts once the hangovers pass."

Linked with Marlowe and encouraged by Monica, Asi is pried loose of the ball she'd otherwise sink into. They're all dealing with their own weights, which makes sharing the load harder than normal, but… they all still try. And that has to count for something, right?

"We'll have to have a hangover first, is what you're saying," she poses wisely as she looks sidelong Monica's way. A small touch of smile graces her demeanor before she sits a little more upright. "Good thing we're near the road– going to have to call a ride if we intend to drink that much."

She picks up her own brought bottle again, proposing gamely, "To inheriting the earth."

Marlowe doesn't even mind the strength of the grip Monica holds her hand with. In a way, she relishes the sense of firmness and stability. "Yes," her agreement comes readily with another nod. At Asi's toast, Marlowe pulls both hands to herself so that she can pick up her cup and the whiskey bottle she'd set down, doling out the remaining half of liquid to her vessel, and pressing the bottle into Monica's hand.

"To the revolution," she says evenly, touching the rim of the cup to Asi and Monica's respective bottles before bringing it to her lips.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License