The Dock Of The Bay


bao-wei_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title The Dock of the Bay
Synopsis Sittin' here resting my bones, and this loneliness won't leave me alone- -
Date August 21, 2019


The Bay Area has always been notorious for its fog; the clouds of summer, the heavy globs of winter haze. Thanks to the geography, even in this new period there is a sense of systematic weather. Praxia's watersides have their own sense of purpose. The ocean's still there. Docks sprung up again in little time, and remain there, largely dealing with the heavier shipping. Construction supplies, equipment, tech out for testing. It does not lack for its dock culture, though there is certainly an expectation of behavior for any employee of Praxis Industries.

Those in the Ziggurat who venture beyond the property often do so for business; still, in a once-time San Francisco, it keeps the lure of salty coastal water. It isn't unusual for the permitted to be out near to it. The sunset is still nice. It doesn't go away, despite the vastness of ruin past the gates of Praxia.

Evening is a lull at the docks. Shipping containers are prepped to go, or emptied out from the course of the afternoon and waiting to be used again, stacked in pairs like giant's legos on the other side of fencing. Boats are still, for the most part. A truck rumbles out somewhere past a warehouse. The concrete walls and lower docks offer walkways, canal locks clammed up here and there. Miles of bayside property gives itself to wanderers, and stolid patrols.

The duo lounging at the lip of one of the wide, eroded wooden jetties extending out into the water is neither of these, judging by their stillness within the nighttime world of these docks— an artificial life that continues to move in gradual measures around and about them both. Under a darkening sky, the sheer immenseness of the ocean backdrop means that without care, even the looming bulk of a whole titan's form might be glossed over as yet another prosaic piece of a busy, sweeping scenery.

Until one zooms in on them and looks more closely, and then the curiousness becomes much more pronounced. The smaller of the mismatched pair by far, a woman in a woolen shawl wrapped over a dress that clings to her figure in flowing folds, reclines some distance apart from the mountain-like shadow of her conversational partner. Superficially, they look the part of aberrants. Outsiders to the uniform, purpose-driven milieu of the kingdom that Praxis has built here.

At the same time, on a deeper and less explainable level, both of them seem like they have somehow always belonged. It is in the way they compose themselves, and more.

«"Do you miss what you left behind?"»

It is a question from Yi-Min that comes suddenly, breaking a shared silence that had stretched like a feather-light but sleepy interlude atop the cadence of the waves. There is little context to it. When last they had spoken, in what already seems like a comfortable eon ago but had really only been a few minutes, it had been of somewhat lighter matters.

Lounging may be a misnomer, at least for one of them. If you asked, he'd say it made him sound lazy. Even though at times he can be. There is no energy to conserve, yet at the same time all he's known has been periodic spans of quiet amidst noise. It's no different now.

One could think he'd fallen asleep there, hunched over the end of the jetty. Maybe he has. It's not quite sleep. An 'off'. The voice stirs wandering thoughts back to the present. Oh. Yes. There was someone here. Awareness flickers back like a cold lightbulb.

Ice floats in pieces alongside the dock, a salty crust spread out around him and webbing on the water's surface. The weather is lukewarm, and it brings a faint cloudiness to his various angles and planes, and those flaky crystalline spines.

«"What I left behind was blown to hell."» The deep hollow of his voice comes a touch more clearly as his head and joints crackle and segment into something more alive. Bao-Wei Cong doesn't move away from his solidified perch, however, mostly grown into place. His eye fixes on Yi-Min, lightening from a dimmed gold. «"I miss what left me behind, rather.**"» Ever contrary, to his own degree.

«"What left you behind,"» Yi-Min corrects herself with easy readiness, seemingly tickled by this little gesture of contrariness. Though she has only been here in Praxia for the space of a few swift days, the more time goes on, the more Dr. Cong seems suited to filling out the role of an ornery grandfather.

The reality of his anatomy as a colossal, monstrous being extruding a net of ice around him like a spider at the heart of a web seems less and less an obvious contradiction to this. The soul inhabiting that mass is what matters, after all.

She does not seem inclined to break Bao-Wei out of his trance of relaxation too quickly, either. There is a pleasing loneliness to this spot where they are. The blackness of the lapping water.

«"You mentioned that you once had some kind of family."» A laid-back invitation to share, if he so chooses.

Flakes of ice make their way down from his head as it angles more fully towards her. The eye, mostly unreadable, dims and flickers in an effort to contest just that. Dark water catches the brief illumination, and the Doctor cannot help but tip his attention away to look into it.

A rankle of features grinds his jaw together, the faint crackle of it not unlike a bird at rest. Near enough to something more contented than his laboratory manner. He didn't protest when she decided to stick around. Just kept looking inward, idle.

«"I did."» Mention it? Have a family? Both are true. «"I was triad, in New York. Not a Ghost."» Old bitter tastes in one's mouth never fully leave, and there is a notable distaste in his voice. «"The Flying Dragons had New York. For a long, long time.

«"Triad. You don't say."» This is at once surprising and unsurprising to Yi-Min. He had mentioned that he had run a clinic, and this ties those two strands of information together. «"They were always a large fact of life in Shanghai as well, especially in the earlier years I worked there. Hands everywhere. Strong ties: stronger hatreds. I suspect you had a fair few missing limbs to replace, in your time.»"

There is a somewhat strong wryness to the way that Yi-Min says this last sentence. She feels Bao-Wei's alien-like eye turning onto her, acknowledges it slightly in the placidity of her expression, but otherwise chooses to keep gazing out over the expanse of water as though idly thinking of something deeper. «"In what manner were you recruited?"»

«"Took them off, too."» It says more that he shares it in the first place. His shape reflects some of the light coming off the water, moreso when he cranes his neck, dislodging a palm from its gargoyle grip on the pier. Fingers flex, a phantom sort of sleepiness. One place too long. Even with no muscle, the memory sticks.

«"When I was a young man. I worked under an armed forces surgeon during conscription- - after that, I went to New York."» Brow furrowing, the planes of his face do much the same, as if concentrating that far back brings its own host of problems. «"I went to Columbia. I was asked to recuse myself halfway through studies. The Dragons noticed. Fixed it, in exchange for my service. You know… the whole… deal with the Devil."» Bao-Wei's ease with saying it speaks of his ease with the triad itself, his free hand gesturing vaguely to the air in a curl of fingers. «"After men, the Devil isn't so bad.

He fit in, once.

No judgment there. Only recognition, as at-ease as Yi-Min herself. Like Dr. Cong, Dr. Yeh is no stranger to dealing with so-called devils. If the notion of the Vanguard had not bothered her, the notion of triad life would not either— after all, had she not made such a deal of her own, once upon a time? Long ago, in times that might as well be forgotten.


«"Sometimes, those two things are one and the same."» Yi-Min says as though musing about the concept. There is a sharper glint inside her dark eyes now, of something. It is subtle, but there, amidst the screen of darkening air and sea-spray. «"And are you happy with what it is you are doing in life now? With what… we are doing."» Of course the two of them work in different fields, but aside from that paper-thin distinction, it is easy to recognize that the perspective of her question falls under that of a wider, more meaningful umbrella.

«"If I said yes, would you call me a liar?"» The gold of eye turns to Yi-Min again, more intent than anything. Cong lifts a set of digits to his face, dragging free fractured pieces, leaving more man behind than beast. He doesn't need to, and yet, something prompts him. Expression, maybe. Or personal reassurance.

He doesn't think on it for long.

«"Sometimes the same, I know. But at the very least it gave me what passed as a family- - I see that as a distinction."» Thoughtfulness betrays his delving into memory, and fails to mask the flux of life in the ember deep in his brow. «"A distinction that didn't save them, but it is there nonetheless.

«"And then… there is this."» Bao-Wei jerks his chin up, head shrugging in the direction of the pyramid silhouette against sky. «"So for your question… I am as happy as I deserve to be.


At first, it seems like Yi-Min is going to let her echoed word trail off into an introspective nothing. A murmured half-life of assent, and nothing more. But the way in which it lingers onwards, in the air and inside her eye, is different than if this had been her intent.

Instead, along with the rise of the distant pyramid, it serves as a smooth setpiece for what she says next. A very quiet, latently charged spark, wrapped in velvet.

«"Whomever we could, or couldn’t save,"» a textbook case for both of them, «"It does little good to keep dwelling on the past. Despite the temptation, that is not practical. Though… leaving aside the past for the future, and leaving aside, too, what you think you deserve. If I told you there was a way where you might reclaim something of this purpose you lost in your past, would you?"»

«"The past is the only certainty."» Something in him sounds amused. «"Maybe. I suppose that is the reason I'm still here."» Physically. Perhaps he has checked out, in one place or another. Pockmarked desires and goals. «"Hard to tell what I would reclaim otherwise. Could reclaim.

«"You aren't the first to ask me this."» There's the amusement again. Bao-Wei's frame shifts and pulls free from the dock, moving to the far end to perch there; he looks over his shoulder to Yi-Min. «"I've had a lot of chances to start again. It tends to be a better idea than- -"» He looks away, expression crinkled at the water, thoughts petering out a flush of air from the bellows of his chest. The deep voice grumbles over the decision of words appropriate enough.

«"- - nothing. Better than floating away. Sinking to the bottom. Most of the time.

«"Not the first, and perhaps not the last. Who knows? Wherever I am in line, here I am to tell you, here may be another chance to start again."»

Amusement met only by the same quietude, Yi-Min's gaze lifts discreetly and easily to the pyramid, the last long lines of light on its surface dulling into the grayness of night.

With the light of day gone, so too does it become easier for one's imagination to take hold of the darker things that take place in the belly of the monolith.

«"You tell me you once did healing work, Dr. Cong. Ran a clinic, or such. And now you, we help to breed generations of monstrosities and failed monstrosities in the basement of Praxis, to feed a machine of destruction. Of desperate, neverending waste. Tell me. Is this better than floating away? Better than nothing?"»

Thoughtful questions for thoughtful times.

There's a note of platitude he senses in her initial answer, but that could just be him.

The longer she goes on, the stonier he seems to get, however. Yellow eye narrowed, he tips a look and turns his face away.

«"No. It isn't."» Ice cracks underfoot as one arm moves to the surface of water; it hardens under the weight, thickening with each step outward he takes. «"I was not involved with the original programmes for the clones, if that is what you're getting at. I do provide care where others lack knowledge."» His tiny ice floe sinks, water pooling in and crawling up limbs.

«"The machine… no, I do not like it. My work does contribute to Praxis' bio-divisions, but there are… differences."» Doctor Cong's countenance shifts with a snap of ice, splitting in clean lines, trickles of water reshaping the rest. His features warp, inhuman again when he fixes that eye on Yi-Min from the water. The pulse of voice comes punctuated with a rapping of sound into the shallows, low and metallic.

The form he's taken is flooded with lines of clear water between the fog of old. Serpentine; long, jagged face, moisture freezing in creeping spines and points. «"Gemini is not as inhumane as some seem to think. A far kinder thing than how I changed. The means behind it belong to Praxis. To Yao Sze. The use of it has become frivolous.

«"It is not the only thing she and I disagree on. I suspect she does not care much for me."» A laugh, earnest, rattles through crocodilian teeth, eye sharp in its dark socket.

«”Surely, yes. Gemini's results pale in comparison to what happened to you."» That's something Yi-Min clarifies without looking, her eyes consciously narrowly a little in reaction to the crackling metamorphosis of ice taking place beside her. Eventually she does turn her head more fully towards him, not only out of curiosity as to what is happening to his form, but also so that she can look Bao-Wei in the face.

Whatever currently constitutes his face, anyway.

«"However I would hesitate to call some of the side effects of Gemini 'kind.' Especially repeat… applications of that process. Do not get me wrong, Doctor. I am not opposed to science performed for the work of a meaningful cause. But under Miss Yao Sze we have been dealing in "frivolity" for many years, and no, I am not speaking of only Gemini, or the work with the clones. The rabbit hole goes down much further than that, in the work of more transformative projects," Hydra and others, "and there is blood all the way down."

Blood and piles of viscera, etc.

A sculpted, flared head stares back at Yi-Min, long maw parted, fog sluggish through the hollow of neck. A floe, shape beneath the surface muddled by the stirring of silt.

«"I am intimately familiar with the depth of Dante's Inferno. If that's what image you may have in your head."» Despite the idle lap of water, the bobbing of his frame, that head remains still and avian peering back at her. It has, not that it was easier before, become much more difficult to discern any physical expression.

«"That said, I know the strength of its lowermost fires. I would suppose that I am not here for Praxis itself. I have more singular loyalties… which have shifted. To what ends, I'm unsure…

Cong's distaste for feeding a machine runs deeper than he'd like to think; he speaks it in tone rather than words. «"Trust that I know everything sits on the moral spectrum. There is always a void. The business of changing the world fails to notice it, much of the time."» It runs deeper than pockets, or weapons, or information.

«"I know. You are here for Adam."» It's as direct as direct can be; there is no actual use beating around the bush there. Both of them know to what Bao-Wei owes his greatest reticence.

«"He is an immortal, with many years and also many dollars under his belt. Whatever his game, I think it fairly safe to presume he would recover from an indirect blow. Understand that I bear no enmity towards him, at least, not in particular. Not nearly so much as this—"» She gestures a hand at the whole Ziggurat. Dismissive, graceful, as much as her tone is perfectly frank. «"Entity under his command."»

For that spell of time, as clouds mist over the little whorl of a nascent moon, Bao-Wei and the Ziggurat seem to her eyes like some great misshapen dragon silhouetted against an ominous mountain. It elicits the gentlest of inward smiles from her— it's oddly beautiful in some very quaint fashion, unreadability and other variables notwithstanding.

«"When I mention blood, I feel I should clarify— for my own sake, if nothing else— that this does not come from a perceived place on some moral spectrum. I was once Vanguard. I don’t feel like this leaves me much moral high ground left to claim."» It's Yi-Min's turn to be subtly amused. «"The distinction may not be so readily apparent to some, but what I object to is scientific talent like yours, and mine, and many others, being bent towards feeding the hungry mouth of a global Chinese military-industrial complex."» The hungriest, bloodiest toddler in anyone’s secret imaginings.

To her, this twisting of greater purpose constituted the greatest misuse possible, and a crime that was all the greater for the scale that it occupied.

'Entity' under his command. What a loaded statement. Bao-Wei is uncertain whether she knows more than, or if irony is simply the order of the day. He continues his silent little vigil as she speaks, eye panned ahead.

The further she goes, the more his focus becomes some degree of tunnel vision. Of course she can pinpoint where to stick him with something so obvious that it has tucked behind blinders.

He remembers compulsory. Lingering tastes of must and will. He remembers reading about the sisters. Every set. Gemini was different. The recycling of things unwanted. Taking from others what they either never deserved or never desired.

The cannibalizing of work that he helped with, being used to sharpen the programmes, it has never sat well. He might have cannibalizing another's gifts in common, thanks to his method of extraction- - but he has always kept grave, solid hold upon its pendulum.

Personal taste, to resist the twist.

The military edge of Praxis does not have these qualms. The pendulum is uninhibited, despite any previous notions of excising some control over what the branch gets from him. Cong cannot speak for the rest of his teams, or the other labs.

There's always an agenda- - none on Earth lack one.

«"We are the ones to be burdened with glorious purpose."» Yellow flares against black. «"…Aren't we?"» Whether that means sacrificing one's sense versus issuing revocation of one's work…it's unclear. A coward versus - - anything but.

To Yi-Min, given the paths in her own life, it is a distinction that could always have gone either way. And she gives recognition to that divergent possibility now in the shrewdness of her tiny smile as she gazes back out towards the sea.

«"I think…"» she says, expression breezily neutral and undecipherable in spite of everything that seems to be written there, left between every line,

between each oscillation of an unspoken pendulum,

«"I think that the time may be getting close to make this be so, once again."»

Bao-Wei Cong may be the epitome of a self-made man, but- - he knows the outstretching arm of opportunity when he sees it. The eye bores into her smile, tight as it is, matching as it is. It certainly fits her, as does her pin-sharp execution. Leading him right into remembering his pride. Whatever principles he's forgotten in time. It's what got him here in the first place, both of those paths. What is he if not a cog in a machine, now?

Yi-Min has reminded him of what he used to be, rather than what he is now. In a sad fashion, it is something that has been since lost in the tide. The next wave- - physical and emotional- - rolls in, carrying with it a sour taste.

There are times when all you need is a third eye to tell you about perspective. What you're doing.

What is he doing?

This isn't Adam's fight anymore- - is it.

«"I see you."» Cong's icy face splits in long rows of spiny teeth, the length of maw and layered together in rows. A hiss of air escapes as it cracks out of the surface of his skin. The jaw comes down, clacking back together in a crunch, yellow eye stark with the pin of pupil. Of course he knows what she's doing, and yet, Dr. Yeh doesn't find herself being wholly devoured instead of being left to watch his irritation.

«"I see you, and you are not wrong."» Frost trickles up the pier and nears her, a creeping blanket. «"They have no idea what burden means. They waste us, same as they waste all else. Perhaps that is the itch I have had for some time. Knowing. Not seeing…"» Ice snaps again, the long neck splintering with fault lines before it shatters completely.

The entire head splashes into the water, surface churning in a whorl.

As for the rest, it remains floating there, a hunk of inanimate glacier.

Dr. Yeh is on her feet again by now, a minuscule figure in her windswept dress versus the membrane of ice expanding up the girders of the jetty. One frosty little tendril pokes up close enough that it seems yearning to touch the fringe of her sandal. She very politely removes this from out of its reach, before staring out towards where Cong had broken apart and plunged into the gloom of the water.

Well, one way he would certainly not be seeing anymore is if he lost his entire head.

A-gong a?»" Yi-Min calls out the Taiwanese term for ‘grandfather’ with some amount of bemusement, feeling as though she might be talking to a literal wall here. But, there is also audible concern. Between the ocean's natural foggy murkiness and the late hour, it is nigh impossible to discern what exactly is going on down there beneath the water's surface.

Pieces of the bay monster fall off of the bulk of it as it floats away. The ice crystals at Yi-Min's feet glitter as they thicken, and for a moment all that her voice does is echo off of the water's surface.

The splashing underwater dissipates after half a minute. Ice crinkles at the edge of the walkway as water lurches up against it. Yi-Min will no doubt see the eye first; no smaller than before, beaded with the black of pupil and set deep. Surrounding it is the remnant of the sculpture's head, twisted in absurdity and changing silhouette as its occupant claws up onto the side of the dock.

Much smaller now, yet no less intimidating. Low and quadrupedal, as if God came down and struck a crocodile with a mallet. Again, a twisted sort of absurdity.

Cong is stone silent when he regards Yi-Min once more, frost blooming on the new, freshened frame. His ice has more clarity now, at least on the outer layers.

«"Forgive me."» A spell of forgetting himself. They come and go. Bao-Wei's voice comes from nowhere and everywhere, a vibrato inside of the ice. Another pause, just as stony; then, a further sort of apology which is very clearly more the man inside the monster.

«"Sometimes I lose my head.

Too bad she can't hit him with a shoe. She'd never get it back.

As… Dr. Cong, or this smaller evolution of him, crawls back onto the half wave-soaked, half rime-spiked wooden beams, Yi-Min stands a step or two back to allow him space to accommodate himself.

"«No forgiveness needed. I mean, how could I be mad at a face like that?»" Yi-Min's own face is straight when she says this, the high arch of one slender brow the only real indicator from her that anything remotely out of the ordinary has happened. Just another day in the life.

Crossing her arms lightly, she casts a correspondingly stony gaze up and down this newly animal-like shape, as much to take in all the details of the changed form as to gauge the form's health. The brief, mild flare of concern in her manner has gone back to something much more tranquil. Amused too. "«Are you feeling better, now?»"

Bao-Wei seems amused in turn when she appears to take him in stride. Moment of emotion aside, the irritation is down to a simmer.

«"I do have a face that begs trust, don't I?"» Sure. Feet leave scores in ice when he lifts up and steps back towards the shore. Ice drags behind, that face angles back to Dr. Yeh. «"I am, thank you for asking. Now- - where were we? I think it was being taken advantage of."» Clack, clack. He starts moving again.

She can walk and talk at the same time, right?

Why, as a matter of fact, walking and talking does happen to be one of Yi-Min's many talents.

«"That sounds about right,"» she says musingly as she meanders along at his side, as soundless as he is clacky, in the tone of somebody who is only really musing on an artificial level. «"Specifically, I think one of the last things you said was, 'they waste us, same as they waste all else.'"» Then, something about itching. Then Bao-Wei’s head coming off.

That doesn't seem nearly as useful of a rewind point, however.

«"And they do. Waste. At least with my past work, I made every one count."» Sour notes sit in his reply. And they tried to end his projects anyway. He'd been progressing and the command to stop working on the Formula will always be a sore spot. Not in the least because he chose to use himself at the last stage.

«"I cannot begin to number the body count. Limitless, with the right ones. Still wasteful. Perfectly good subjects for other purposes… but it would seem no purpose is quite as important as a war machine."» Bao-Wei makes it to the concrete of the walk, a portion of water moving up to join him, shaping him into something in-between.

«"So they destroy what they cannot make into perfect examples. There are fortunate ones. Some of them are here. I expect you already know of Lanhua."» That. That is an understatement.

«"Waste, I cannot abide either."» Yi-Min smiles at once sweetly and grimly, placing one small foot in front of the other with intuitive meticulousness even while her mind is clearly elsewhere.

«"Perhaps I was spoiled in my past life, but I am long-used to precision, and I will admit that it has been difficult for me to bear otherwise. In everything. From a life taken to the smallest nick of a blade, it should not matter. All should be performed with thorough care for the results.”» With grace, not even moving on to mention purpose. «”And then, you have this thing. This endless charnel house. The little and the big, wherever it is you look. All the aspects of it are wrong.”»

She tips her head consideringly in Bao's direction as the new surge of water melds up into him, her eyes still cool and distant as she watches. They are a little bitter too, in the light of that understatement. «"I am all too familiar with Lanhua Chen. The fact that I would consider her a fortunate one amongst all the others is… well."»

All things considered, she probably does not need to finish this sentence.

«"Mehhhh."» It sounds more like a hiss than a groan, but there you have it. «"I have a suspicion that she will run out of luck, sooner than later. Perhaps that is for the best."» For all that he is a man-turned, there's something like pity in his tone, and a silence to follow which lasts the whole way onto firm land. Here he leaves less of a trail, still in a sway as his frame moves, plodding, as you do. It gives a bizarre image. It does not bother him in the least.

«"Charnel house."» Cong's eye swivels to meet Y-Min. It is hard to tell if the re-stating means agreement or otherwise, so he simply clears it up, «"I've been in a few,

«"Every burial mound is filled with bones. Somewhere in that disarticulated mass is a good one. Maybe a fistful more. But if I poisoned an apple and put it back into the bushel- - most will not touch it. I've made marks, this way… moving things how I want them to. Letting people such as you see the hill for what it is. A scramble for foothold, inside. I did what I needed to do to be here. Now.

As for Lanhua, Yi-Min's silence suggests her concurrence. there Fate would dictate how, and when, Lanhua would run out of luck. But there were few doubts in her mind that this would eventually happen.

«"I learned an American saying recently,"» Yi-Min says more lightly, mostly from the memory of it. Maybe too lightly for what she is actually saying. «"A few bad apples spoil the bunch. What would you call the reverse of this? A pile of poisoned apples with a few decent ones buried somewhere, if that?"» It doesn't seem unreasonable to ask, and the distinction seems important, from one no less well-acquainted with burial mounds.

But as for the view that Bao-Wei has gotten here by moving things the way he wanted, Yi-Min's brow pokes up a little. If that was his view, she would not contest it. «"Now that you are here, this hill beneath our feet, what do you think you will do?"» He would not go down with it, surely.

«"Diamond in the rough."» Bao-Wei grumbles, pausing in his journey to angle his head towards her. The look is one given plenty over the rims of glasses; what the construct lacks in closeness it makes up with some distinctive emoting.

«"Stay, perhaps see where it goes…? I could leave anytime. I haven't. Maybe it will burn like Cambridge… I do not mind carrion."» A faraway look takes that golden eye, brief but pointed. «"If an earthquake were to swallow this place into the sea, I do not know that I would lose sleep. So to speak. Possibly for the ignorant ones. The ones that never asked to be here. But…"» Ice scrapes as he starts moving again.

«"Entropy is unsparing. The universe is larger than this soggy little planet. Eventually it stops caring, and so will I. Eventually. Today, I care. Enough to see this anthill collapse. To see it go through its umpteenth Big Crunch.

He's rambling. Again. It happens to be very easy for a-gong to lose his way, and she already knows this.

Under normal circumstances, Yi-Min would be perfectly content to listen to this rambling, basking in it with the same sort of fondness reserved for listening to a senile grandfather with the same repetitive stories to share. She was not a woman who lacked in patience, after all.

Today is different from other days, however.

"A-gong a," she stops him, gently. It is not a physical movement as much as an implication of one; she keeps her unhurried pace beside him, and yet the look in her eyes is firm with what she seems about to say. «"Help me to level this anthill. To lay down the foundation for this earthquake. The universe may not care tomorrow, but there are smaller gods who care today."» Who those smaller gods are, she doesn't mention. Maybe that's a metaphor.

"«…That is,»" and this is milder, more teasing, "«If old age has not rendered you incapable of making a little mess, still."»

Yi-Min Yeh's voice in the air nearby seems to attract a response more than her words, still processing a step behind; trying to crawl back from whatever existential moment has swallowed him up. Thoughts of stardust and gravity, reaction and causation.

The frame he wields now slows in its pace, just a half-step, neck crackling to arch a look to the woman. For a moment, a disconnect, flickering in and out. As if her presence is at the same time a surprise and something to be treated with caution. It's gone by the time she pleads her case to him.

Proposes, rather.

Bao-Wei allows his gaze to linger. Considering. The amber eye tilts away from her once more, scanning the paths and buildings ahead.

«"I have not been rendered incapable of anything."» Pride bubbles forth with a click of ice that grinds in his head. A hurmoring huff, if she ever saw one. Age means nothing anymore. He gave up paying attention. But once a Dragon, always a Dragon. «"I am most assuredly able. I still know how to knock heads, Doctor Yeh.

When Bao-Wei looks down at the woman by his side, who is now slowing down her pace to perfectly match with his, all he sees is innocence.

Innocence, hung like a calm, internally lit veil over the watchful air of her gaze. The pull of promise deep behind her expression seems as irresistible as the endless sea she smiles over.

«"Then, show it to me. The time of reckoning is coming relatively soon, Dr. Cong, and I shall not be alone when it does. When it does, I invite you to stand by our side. To help me take things here towards their inevitable conclusion."» And maybe knock around a good number of those heads in the process. Who said that scientists like them weren't allowed to have a little fun?

He knows better than to underestimate the look of innocence. Song had it too. She didn't have the same poise, by far, yet something about the depth of Yeh's look has him comparing the two in his head.

Maybe she came back to haunt him again, with that ebb and flow of energy. Doctor Cong allows his mind to wander just enough for his mind's eye to unwittingly superimpose one face over another.

«"I felt that one was coming. When it shifted. When he- - changed. Something changed. Reasons…"» On reckonings, «"I have ridden through several already. What's one more." »

What's one more, indeed.

Seemingly satisfied with this answer, Yi-Min shifts her cryptic smile to Dr. Cong for the last time tonight. «"You will be called,»" she informs him very simply. 'Be ready' is implied afterwards, but not said aloud. «"Farewell for now, a-gong. We shall have a time of it.”»

Then she is turning away to head back up the long path of the dock alone, the short diaphanous train of her dress flowing along behind her like a sylph's bridal veil— and her footsteps, as always, as light and untroubled as her heart.

The only confirmation Yi-Min gets in return this time is an affirmative rumble, all gravel and broken ice. That golden eye rests on her back as she retreats, leaving Cong to his devices. He disappears quickly for something so ungainly, frost left behind as he warps and squeezes through the gaps of stacked shipping containers.

Crackling, popping, a groan of metal as ice spills down the other side of the warehouse district walls. A floe spreads across the water, and crashes its way through the grate of an outflow, shattering into a thousand slivers which rejoin deeper into the pipe.

Wherever the iceman's gone, it is decidedly not the Ziggurat.

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