The Eight Headed Serpent, Part V


monica_icon.gif nia_icon.gif

Scene Title The Eight-Headed Serpent, Part V
Synopsis Monica is given a mission.
Date April 29, 2019

“In time, all things shall pass.”

Nia Dawson once said that to a young Monica Dawson shortly after hurricane Katrina, after the death of her parents, after her world was upended in a way she could have never anticipated. Today, Nia Dawson sits with her granddaughter in the small kitchen of a modest browns town owned by SESA and leased out to charity workers who commute to the Safe Zone. As a member of the Deveaux Society, she’s come and gone frequently since she and Monica were reunited, paying it forward for others like them.

“Now, I forget who told me that… but it's a good saying.” Lifting up her teacup, Nia regards Monica over the brim, brows furrowed and head slowly shaking. “Those Yamagato folks don't know what they've lost with you, love. Maybe it's time you go to work with that nice friend of yours, Richard?”

Nia is worried. Not just for Monica’s future employment prospects, but for her granddaughter’s mental health. She wasn't there for her during the war, but she's heard a small amount of how dark those times were for her.

And she doesn't want that to repeat.

Nia’s Residence


NYC Safe Zone

April 29th


It's been three days since Monica was forced out of Yamagato Industries, two days since they detached her YX Cestus prosthetic arm and severed her connection to Jiba. Her apartment is mostly boxes right now, less than half finished putting the entire life she's built for herself since the war ended away, with no real certain direction for the future.

It was precisely why she needed to see her Nana. If anyone could make sense of what happened, offer some unbiased perspective, it was her.

There's reason to worry. Monica has been starting down the middle distance for some time. But when she hears that phrase again, she turns to look at Nana. Her fingers wipe at her face and she tries to appear more together— a pointless exercise in this moment, in front of this woman. Monica isn't okay and it's obvious to anyone who knows her.

"I don't know what I would do for Richard," she says, her shoulder rolling in a gesture of discomfort. "I know he would find a place for me, but I don't know what I…" She trails off, leaving more self-pity unspoken as she smiles softly at her Nana. "It is a good saying. And you've always been right about it." Her hand reaches out— her one hand— to take her grandmother's. "I'm sorry I'm such a downer. There just isn't anyone else I want to see but you."

Nia nods, squeezing Monica’s hand gently. “I'm glad you did. The thought of you, going through this all by yourself. Maybe I can talk to Ms. Dalton, see if the Society has call for a war hero with a big heart.” Nia sets down her tea with her other hand, then takes Monica’s hand in both of hers. “Your strength was never about your muscles, love. It's always been in your heart.”

It's clear that Nia is struggling, seeing Monica like this. “But we’re going to find a way… when you're ready, however long that takes and in whatever shape it comes in. You've got me in your corner, and you know Nana Dawson ain't a quitter.”

"I'd appreciate that. I wouldn't mind doing something… different." Monica curls her knees up to her chest in her chair, looking over as Nana takes her hand. She tries to keep it together, she really does. She nods along with her words, because she can't quite make any of her own, but it isn't long before tears start to fall down her face. "I don't know how strong it is anymore, Nana. I don't know how much of me is left," she says, voice cracking as she admits to something she's been ignoring for years.

She tips her head back, as if this might help her stop crying. It doesn't. Her hand grips onto Nana's, clinging like she might fall apart without that anchor. "I'm not giving up," she says, "but I don't know where to start."

“Japan.” Isn’t Nia’s advice. Certainly isn't Nia’s voice. It comes from the doorway to the living room past the kitchen, where the rough voice of an elderly man with a British accent stands. Nia bolts out of her chair so fast the chair falls backwards into the tile floor with a clatter. One hand at her chest and eyes wide, Nia stares at this intruder into her home with frozen dread.


The intruder is an old white man, somewhere in his seventies or eighties. His tired, blue eyes regard Nia and Monica with an old, distant fondness. His suit is crisp and black, necktie matching and the white undershirt making him look like a federal agent from a prohibition-era film. He tilts his chin up, one brow raised. “That would be where you start,” the intruder says calmly, as if he had been invited and asked.

Monica is up on her feet, too. She moves between Nana and the man. Her arm hovers around her grandmother, since this is obviously not someone she was expecting. She doesn't seem to relax when it turns out to be an old man, because she knows not to underestimate age as much as she wouldn't underestimate a woman with only one arm.

"What's in Japan?" she asks first. "And who are you? You're scaring my Nana." Not her, of course, she's wary in the way a cornered tiger would be.

For a moment the old man's face twists into a look of confusion and doubt, tinged strangely with hurt, but it quickly subsided with something more like recognition. “Ah, yes. I meant no harm…” Nia stands frozen still, watching this stranger with wide eyes and one hand faintly trembling. She steps forward enough to bump into Monica, placing a shaking hand on her granddaughter’s shoulder.

“Who I am isn't as important,” the old man says with a crease of his brows, “as what I have to convey in the limited time I have to convey it. Japan is where you will head next, where the answers are, and where you will find yourself… and the enemy you've been hunting.”

Nia nearly says something, lips parting in almost speech and half-formed words, but stops herself. The old man’s expression softens subtly, after which he adds, “but if you must call me something, you may call me Mr. Renautas.”

Soft looks and hurt expressions don't go unnoticed, it makes Monica's own turn more curious than suspicious. Richard had mentioned a rash of people forgetting things when they talked about her grandmother. She reaches up to put her hand over Nia's, to reassure her.

"Mr. Renautas," she says, nodding to the introduction, "you obviously know a lot about me, if you know what I've been looking for. What's in Japan? Where in Japan?" She looks back to Nia, giving her an apologetic look. This is her life, and it seems to intrude whenever it likes. "What do you mean," she says when she looks back, "find myself."

Renautas stands with shoulders square and hands folded behind his back. He regards Monica with a raised brow, but his attention has briefly shifted to Nia, and then down to his feet. “Unfortunately, Ms. Dawson, I am not omniscient. Japan is where you were, Japan is where you find your answers. Beyond that, if I interceded any further than to accelerate the timeline, I may risk never being able to find you again.” He looks at Nia. “Either of you.”

How do I know you?” Nia interjects, her voice trembling as she stares at Renautas. He closes his eyes, one corner of his mouth raised in either a difficult to read smile or a pained grimace. “It's like you're…”

“A distant memory?” Renautas opines, brows creasing together and shoulders tensing. “A story for another time, when there is time. For now, know that I am trying to help as delicately as possible, because we have a common enemy.”

And before he can say another word, Renautas disappears like a candle flame blown out by a sharp breath. His disappearance causes all of the lights in the apartment to flicker briefly, before returning to normal. Nia, tears welled up in her eyes, is overweight with emotion and confusion as she looks back at Monica, hoping for some sort of answer.

For anything.

His answer leaves Monica with more questions. As does his disappearance. She lets out a heavy exhale and turns to pull Nana into a hug. "I'm going to figure all this out, Nana. I promise." Comforting her grandmother comes first, though. She pulls a chair over to her instead of making her cross to one herself. "I think you're right that it's time I went to see Richard. He'll help make sure you're safe. And that we find out what's happened to you." Her fingers are gentle when they move a piece of hair back from Nana's face.

Obviously, having a mission of some kind helps steady Monica. Having someone to protect.

"The enemy he was talking about— he's been coming after a friend of mine. Sending people after her. I have a few friends who have been trying to figure out how to track him down. We've found out that his operation is a lot wider than just hunting down this friend of mine. And obviously," she says with a wave toward where Renautas was, "he's gathering enemies pretty widely, too." Strange enemies. Herself included. "Right now, I need to learn as much about him as I can."

The look of concern in Nia’s eyes is evident from the moment Monica finishes her last word. But for all that her grandmother is both worried and confused about the world her only surviving family has gotten caught up in, she can't help but also recognize the vivacious expression on her face. Moments ago Monica was sullen and without purpose, and now… now the drive has returned, like a light switch turned on.

Nia breathes in deeply, putting a hand on both of Monica’s shoulders and looking at her squarely in the eyes. “You aren't the baby girl I knew,” is said with pride, not derision. “You've grown up into a ferocious woman, with convictions, and beliefs. A woman who protects the people she cares about… and the people she doesn't even know. If your parents could see you now… I know they'd be proud of you.”

“I'll take care of myself. I'll contact the society about that strange man,” Nia continues. “And they'll make sure I'm safe. They've got plenty of resources. Don't you worry.” Nia squeezes Monica’s shoulders. “The whole world needs you right now…” she says with a certainty in her eyes that Monica hasn't seen in years.

“They might just need Saint Joan again.”

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