The Body


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Scene Title The Body
Synopsis Following Kimiko Nakamura's death, the head of Yamagato Industries' biosciences division seeks answers.
Date March 20, 2021

Ever since Kimiko Nakamura’s passing, Marlowe Terrell has spent more time in one of the highest security sections of the Yamagato Building, the advanced AI and biosciences lab known as Deep Vault. Here in the glossy, white corridors of something that feels more like the compartments of a spaceship than a corporate office Marlowe has learned just how far her security clearance as head of the civil engineering & technology division can get her…


…and where the borders of secrecy begin.

Yamagato Building
Deep Vault

Yamagato Park

March 20th
1:16 pm

According to Marlowe’s diagram of the Deep Vault level of the Yamagato Building, beyond this door lies the biosciences division, one of the smallest branches of Yamagato Industries. Remarkably, it is also one of the most well-funded. This fact, one that isn’t well-advertised by the company, is a revelation born of Marlowe’s own investigation into Yamagato’s work and the secrets that Kimiko herself may have been keeping from her employees.

The medical facilities for Yamagato Industries are located just off of bioscience’s offices and past this barrier, the corporate morgue. The final resting place of Kimiko Nakamura. The robotics division rests not far away, workstations where a second generation of Tetsujin workers are being prototyped, spaces Marlowe is permitted to access. But it is the unknown that picks at the corners of her mind. The what if’s contained behind porcelain-white doors.

“Marlowe Terrell?”

The voice is one Marlowe isn’t immediately familiar with, and when she sees the middle-aged woman standing behind her it takes a moment to put a name to a face. Thankfully, introductions are made before it can become awkward.

“Cora Wenyi, biosciences chief.” She introduces with an offer of a black-gloved hand. Cora Wenyi is at once regal and matronly, a woman approaching sixty who carries herself with a Queen’s regality. “It’s a remarkable pleasure to meet you.”

By virtue of her first experience earlier and the private network of files available to executives, Marlowe strides through the corridor with aplomb. Straight down the middle rather than hugging a side, she's unaccompanied on her journey down this particular brightly lit rabbit hole. Or is it, perhaps, a serpent's den? Her stop doesn't take her to Robotics but to the doors marked for the morgue, and there she is halted by large warnings displayed and clearance security locks. Her lips purse in thought.

A thought that is interrupted by her greeter. Marlowe dips her head as customary respect would dictate. "よろしくお願いします1. Likewise, Ms. Wen-yi. I believe our paths are not often crossed in person enough in proportion to our digital discourse." Certainly, as recently as the months following the turn of events that brought a flurry of concerns regarding certain VIPs of the company, there had been messages. But here, a physical handshake exchanges, polite and professional. Nothing said yet about the gloved hand. Then, Marlowe steps to a side and gives way for the Biosciences chief to take more ground. With another second short nod, she acknowledges the shift.

"Was it my poking around here that alerted you, or…?" Her brow lifts, head angles in indication of the denied access.

“Coincidence,” Wenyi says with a mild smile, “but a fortunate one.” She doesn’t depart onto whatever business had made her cross paths with Marlowe, instead she offers an askance look at a nearby technician, then steps in closer. “I was actually hoping to speak with you, in private, sooner rather than later.”

Wenyi steps away from Marlowe and over to the door to the biosciences division, moving her hand in front of the biometric scanner, turning the light green with a pleasant chime. “Do you have a moment?”

Does she ever.

Marlowe's quick to catch the short look to the other parties present and casts a nod of her own to the staffers before stepping to follow Cora. Once she's flanked the woman, Marlowe taps a few points on her tablet screen and folds the device together to send it to a quiet mode. "Hearing the news from home base was a shock," she starts in once they've gotten enough away from audible (at least by normal means) range. "A part of me still doesn't want to believe it. Not 'til I see with my own eyes." And even then, maybe, still. "But also, Ms. Wenyi. Thank you for all the work you've done, especially in the biosciences division. The smallest cog is the quickest turning, we mechanics like to say."

Cora offers a modest smile at the praise, but that is her only acknowledgement. Instead, she steps toward the door and it opens silently for her. “Mr. Kawahara has been very interested in seeing Ms. Nakamura’s remains, likely for the sense of confirmation that you yourself may have wanted, but also because of the extenuating circumstances around her death and her personal desire to avoid an autopsy.”

Cora leads Marlowe through the door into the secure Biosciences wing. Pausing, she glances back over her shoulder, as if to say something, but then doesn’t and keeps walking. “Which, of course, was a lie. Ms. Nakamura had no such living will.” She lifts her chin up subtly. “She had other, more material concerns.”

Doubtless and in agreement about Kawahara's interests, Marlowe steps through the opened door in smooth gait. But it's Cora's ready admission of the living will being a lie sends a short huff out. "Mr. Kawahara of course has his prerogative as acting CEO to conduct investigations. But knowing how much Ms. Nakamura valued personal privacy, I'll say that I'm not surprised she's gone to such lengths to protect herself." Given the givens.

Marlowe sends her gaze around the new surroundings, eventually settling back on the other woman. "But what do you mean 'material' concerns?" The word sticks out more than the others. “Surely, not as in wealth.”

“No,” she agrees. “Not wealth.”

Wenyi says little else as she escorts Marlowe through the windowless, white corridors of biosciences. It isn’t until they enter an area where the walls turn to transparent, haptic feedback touch-screen glass that Marlowe has any idea of what goes on in here. It’s here that she sees indoor botanical gardens maintained by UV grow lamps, tended to by scientists in red polymer uniforms. Many of them have what look like some kind of VR display headset on as they interact with the plants.

“Ms. Nakamura’s current health crisis is something that did not go widely known within the company.” Wenyi says rather candidly as she breezes through the lab and into another sterile, glossy, white hallway. “We’ve known for quite some time.” Wenyi says, stopping at a door to scan her hand over a biometrics reader and then enter a six digit passcode as well.

The door slides open into the wall and Marlowe feels a wave of cold radiate out from the room beyond. As Wenyi walks in, she motions for Marlowe to follow. “How much do you know about the abduction that happened, and the plane crash?”

Enough. The answer to the other woman's inquiry is 'enough', but Marlowe doesn't reply straight away as she's caught taking in the many sights of unknown sciences tending to what sorts of research happens in this secured division. "I'm sure she was extremely quick to consult. But, yes. There were some reports. Biological level alterations that sound, well. Wholesale DNA changes that somehow erased SLC-E genetics? Sounds impossible. And yet, I'm sure you have on file what happened to Leroy Jackson." She's already convinced here is where the staff must have taken the man whose own genetic sequencing came out to be a reverse effect of what happened to the abducted. It was quite a lot to bear in mind.

"So… here we are. What's behind there?" The chill coming from the room beyond, she can feel a similar one crawling up her spine. Marlowe straightens.

Wenyi doesn’t say anything regarding Leroy, but the look she gives Marlowe is at once knowing and purposeful. The door closes behind the pair once they enter the morgue, and it is readily apparent to Marlowe that is exactly what the room is on arrival. The arrangement of tables on wheels, the wall of lockers.

“There were no genetic modifications,” Wenyi clarifies as she walks over to the lockers. “We suspected there were, given precisely what you said. But following a voluntary surgical procedure with a Doctor Yi-Min Yeh, we determined that the modifications were more… advanced in nature.”

Wenyi keys in a sequence on one of the locker faces, then uses her thumbprint to unlock it. Without hesitation, she pulls open the door and then slides a body out of the locker, one completely covered by a paper sheet. Dark hair spills out from beneath the sheet, and Marlowe can see that the body is missing an arm.

It’s Kimiko’s body.

“I need an explanation.” Wenyi says with a look from the covered body to Marlowe.

Wenyi pulls the paper sheet back, revealing that more than a third of Kimiko’s head is missing. Her skull has been hollowed out like a watermelon, no blood, no viscera, clean. Her eyes are missing, as is most of her skull down to the bridge of her nose. The texture around the edges of the skull are blocky, pixelated depressions in bone and flesh.

“And I would like that explanation now.”


Wenyi is thus treated to far too natural a swear from Marlowe, whose hand lifts in a cover of her mouth at the sight of Kimiko's body. Well, most of it. What she doesn't get is sick. A tensing of her jaw marks precursor to the calmer, quiet veil that drops over her expression. The kind of expression warranted to soldiers who have seen the horrors of war, those supporting from the side as much as those on the front.

Marlowe doesn't look to the other woman yet. Her attention is riveted on the skull, the texture too clean. She steps closer, hands slowly lowering towards the surface of the skull. Fingertips brush along the bone. "How long has she been like this?"

A timeline of events coalesces. Marlowe feels a heat stinging along the edges of her eyes despite the chill of the morgue around them.

“I was hoping you could tell me.” Wenyi says as she rolls the paper sheet down to collar level, then folds it over itself and creases it so it stays down. “Our medical examiner was quite baffled, as this does not appear to be a surgical issue, or anything pertaining to sub-cranial pressure. Nothing was excised, nor did anything explode.”

Wenyi reaches into her jacket and produces a pair of latex gloves, pulling them on. She then, with an iron stomach, pinches a piece of Kimiko’s cranial bone that would be behind her ear, and rotates her head to the right. “Her brain, all the way down to her brain stem, simply is no longer present. You’ll notice around the edge of the first vertebrae, this blocky texturization that looks almost like… pixelization.” Wenyi points out the same effect around where portions of Kimiko’s skull are simply missing.

“There is no blood, no trauma, it is as if this matter was displaced.” Wenyi says, looking up from the body to Marlowe. “The forensics expert I had review the body corroborated our suspicion that this was caused by an SLC-Expressive ability. We were hoping you may have some knowledge of what kind of power could do this… given your own unique gift.”

Gifts, as Marlowe considers what she's looking at, that at this moment are proof that God has the worst sense of humor of them all. She pales slightly under the other woman's scrutiny, only to regain color when she mentions the forensics expert. A worrisome development.

"Miss Wenyi, how long have you been with the company?" Marlowe finally turns her eyes away from Kimiko's remains to meet the older woman's gaze. Her tone holds but a light pressure, compared to the heavier meaning weighing on the next. "Or rather, I think I should ask this: What do the Nakamuras mean, to you?"

Marlowe’s question elicits a stiffness in Wenyi. “I’m not one of Kaito Nakamura’s adopted grandchildren,” is her acerbic response. “I know that Yamagato Industries was founded on his beliefs, and that his ghost still runs this company many years after his demise. I joined Yamagato after Kaito’s death, I never knew him.” She lies without so much as blinking. “I know Kimiko, I know her family’s reputation. None of that holds a special meaning to me.”

Her answer is pragmatic, sensible. It dresses up her personal grievances for the way Kimiko may have run things in the wake of her father’s death as reasonable criticism, not the ravings of a Praxis-aligned Monroe-sympathizer.

“The Nakamuras mean little to me,” Wenyi says with stubbornness. “What does matter to me is my job, my safety, and the safety of those who are under my supervision. What matters to me are variables.” She motions to Kimiko’s disfigured skull.

How Cora Wenyi has responded garners little change in Marlowe's neutral faced reaction to it. She nods once to the emphasis on variables, turns back to the remains and focuses her gaze upon what's left of the face. "I do agree with your forensics expert. My own ability allows for the manipulation of nonliving biomatter. This level of detail, though, takes time and effort."

"What I can tell you," she considers after a long pause, "is that the safety and security of you and your staff are utmost priority. Until we figure out a path forward that won't endanger anybody else. You saw what happened with Yi-min Yeh's elective procedure. I have a feeling this is related." Marlowe exhales slowly and turns to face Wenyi more one-to-one. "We are indeed dealing with a lot here. And given Miss Nakamura's status, looks like we should keep this one at bay for as long as possible. Until Mr. Erizawa has had a chance to conduct his full investigation."

In hopes of buying time, Marlowe negotiates with a mind on the cost. The older woman seems reasonable enough. "Allow me to make a suggestion: use the bio-printers to form a temporary replacement of the missing parts. Anybody outside of yourself, Erizawa, or myself, asking questions with regards to the remains is, as you say, a variable."

Cora’s eyes narrow subtly. “Are you asking me to cover this up?” Her tone is impossible to read, her posture even more so. She has spent her entire life honing that measure of obfuscation.

"I am."

Marlowe's reply comes blunt as a hammer, but just as strong to strike a nail sticking up. Her eyes don't leave Cora's. "There are few people who would seek this information out and use it to bring the company down. That we don't yet know who, why, or the how they managed to strike at the head of Yamagato Industries that has left little trace? It's unacceptable." She plants a hand down on the cool metal of the table holding Kimiko's corpse.

"We're all targets here, Miss Wenyi. Right now, I don’t know who’s got such a problem with us that they’ve gone to such lengths. But I'm asking you to trust that I've got the company's best interests in mind and at heart." Her words, by contrast, are fueled by an inner heat of anger against the injustice and frustration felt in Marlowe's person.

Cora rests her hand on the edge of the drawer, eyes fixed on Marlowe’s. There is a silence that hangs between them like the red flag of a bullfighter, but it isn’t clear in the moment which of them is the bull and which of them is the Matador. Or who would survive in either analogy.

“Do you know what caused this damage?” Cora asks with precision wording, motioning with a finger to Kimiko’s skull. Not a question of how, but if.

Job security might be taking a flying leap at this point. But she had made a promise. Marlowe doesn't break off her stare even as Cora motions again to the skull.

"Yes. As you mentioned before: an Expressive's ability," she states evenly, her tone quieting to a thoughtful regard of the other, older woman. "Does that scare you?"

“Whose?” Cora asks without hesitation. She does not blink, does not move her eyes from Marlowe’s. She shows no fear.

Brown meets brown again. The staring contest plays on, and in the continuing tense moments ticking away silently Marlowe stills. Physically, she's not moving at all. Mentally, she's spinning gears frantically. But then it all comes to a halt. Her chin lifts by a couple defiant degrees, as do her pupils that seem to widen ever so slightly once she makes her move.

Verbally, she draws. "Otomo, Hachiro." The shot fires.

Doctor Wenyi’s eyes take on a distant quality as she looks down at Kimiko’s body again, then pulls back the cover. She looks up at Marlowe, tucking her chin into a subtle nod. The two exchange a wordless stare, and Marlowe can feel the atmosphere in the room has changed, but she can tell whether it’s to her favor or not.

“Consider the line of inquiry dropped,” Doctor Wenyi says with another glance to the covered body. “I recommend you return to work, Ms. Terrel. I will handle this situation with… the discretion you hoped for.” She blinks a look to the body and back to Marlowe. “I agree with your assessment, for the time being.”

Then, Doctor Wenyi steps forward, closing the distance on Marlowe. Her voice is low, hushed in conspiratorial tones. “But when the time for secrecy is over,” she says in a husky whisper, “I will ask why this happened.”

She leans in, whispering in Marlowe’s ear. “And then, you will tell me.”

Some Time Later

Deep Vault
Biosciences Division Offices

Slouched into her high-backed chair, Doctor Wenyi stares down at a tablet filled with forged autopsy data. She flicks her fingers up the screen, transmitting it to the medical department. The blinking light on her door indicates a queued guest is waiting, and when Wenyi says, “In,” the light level rises slightly and the door hisses open into the wall.

The woman on the other side of the door is many years Doctor Wenyi’s junior, dark-haired and dark-eyed, dressed in a sleek white suit and wedge heels that click on the floor as she walks in. “Doctor,” her guest greets. Cora sits up straight in her chair, tugging down the front of her buttoned blazer.

“What do you have for me?” She asks her guest.

The dark-haired woman produces a small mobile device, flicking data from it to the holographic projector on Doctor Wenyi’s desk. There, a 3D reconstruction of a young Japanese woman springs to life.

“Miko Otomo,” she says and Doctor Wenyi inspects the woman’s projection carefully.

“I remember her. She passed away the year before the Safe Zone opened.” Doctor Wenyi says with a squint, looking from the projection to her guest.

“Correct. At your suspicion, I pulled her autopsy report. Her body was tended to by Yamagato Medical, but there were discrepancies in the report.” The woman says, looking from the projection to Doctor Wenyi.

“What kind?”

“Inconsistencies on time of death and time of autopsy. After speaking with staff who are still here from that time, the described chain of events indicated that Ms. Otomo was pulled from the wreckage of her car with her father and both were alive. Ms. Otomo suffered a severe traumatic brain injury that left her in a vegetative state.” The doctor’s guest explains, transferring a host of files from her mobile device over to the doctor.

“Furthermore,” she says with a look up at Wenyi, “I spoke with a surgeon who saw Miko’s body prior to her cremation. When pressed about what he remembers, he said that her injuries were ‘more serious than he remembered’, and that it looked like ‘part of her whole head was missing.’” Her brows rise, as do Doctor Wenyi’s.

“That is an interesting detail,” Doctor Wenyi says with a thoughtful noise in the back of her throat.

“There is one more piece of data I thought you might appreciate,” the woman says, holding up her device to Wenyi. “This is the date that Miko Otomo’s body was cremated. And this…” she flicks to another screen. “…is the date Jiba went online.”

Cora’s eyes slowly widen and she looks back to the holographic projection of Miko Otomo. At first there is shock in her eyes, then confusion, and slowly, a dawning look of comprehension that comes with a slowly growing smile.

This is it,” Doctor Wenyi all but whispers. Her guest smiles, pleased with herself, and steps into the doctor’s field of view.

“Shall I inform the weavers?” She asks in a quiet voice. Doctor Wenyi shakes her head, eyes narrowing.

“No. No, I need to figure out how to deal with Hachiro first.” Wenyi says with an irrepressible smile. When she returns her attention to her guest, there is a gleam in both their eyes that borders on delirium.

Ombi-in isaiba amar sutiya,” her guest says, in reverent recitation.

“You have done excellent work Ms. Jahandar.”


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