The Eight-Headed Serpent, Part VII


elaine_icon.gif kimiko_icon.gif

Scene Title The Eight-Headed Serpent, Part VII
Synopsis Elaine Darrow is presented with an unexpected opportunity.
Date May 9, 2019

It’s hard to imagine that Kam Nisatta is gone.

Once, she haunted the galleries of the Yamagato Fellowship Building like a specter of another age. Few people at the Fellowship knew the history of each piece of art better than she, and now that word has come of her swift retirement, the Fellowship’s halls have felt quiet. It’s been months since she left Yamagato Park without so much as a word to any of her subordinates, and for the remaining employees of the Fellowship there has been a sense of uncertainty regarding their future. Kam was not only the head of the Fellowship, she was the acting CEO of Yamagato America after Kin Egami’s death in the bombing. So much had changed in such a small measure of time.

But now Kimiko Nakamura has come to Yamagato Park herself to set right one of her company’s most important investments. Yet still, there has been no word through the Fellowship of what will happen now that Kam has retired. No one within the museum has been kept in the loop on prospective new hires, no new exhibits have been prepped, no old exhibits have been rotated. Salaries keep being paid, but nothing is happening.

It feels like at any moment the other shoe could drop, and then everything would change.

And then

It did.

Yamagato Fellowship Building

Yamagato Park

May 9th


Elaine Darrow has grown accustomed to her office at the Yamagato Fellowship, a spacious thing more like an art studio than a traditional office. The long room is dimly lit by overhead lamps, the long wooden table at its center laden with delicate manuscripts contained under glass. Leatherbound books five centuries old, scrolls seven centuries hence, partial engraved tablets in cuneiform dating back to the earliest known human civilizations in Sumer.

As of late, though, worry has worn the luster off of this place. Some old pieces moved in here still haven’t been catalogued, including a sixteenth century mirror from France currently shrouded by a drop cloth to keep dust from collecting on it. Elaine sits across the room from it, at her small desk, staring down at a tablet computer with a spreadsheet of artifacts still needing cataloging before display.

It’s the sudden knock on the doorway to her office that is the first and likely only disruption of the day. A soft, metallic rap of steel knuckles. Kimiko Nakamura stands in the threshold of Elaine’s office, having forsaken her blazer and rolled up the sleeves of her blouse, emphasizing the prosthetic nature of one of her arms.

“I hope I’m not disturbing you,” Kimiko says earnestly, looking around the office for the very first time since her arrival.

The appearance of Kimiko does startle Elaine slightly. There was plenty to do and little to disturb her in her work. The redhead sets the tablet on her desk, rising to her feet rather promptly. The look of surprise on her face is plain, but she doesn’t look disturbed. It’s a pleasant surprise.

“Not at all, Ms. Nakamura, it’s a pleasure. I do hope you will excuse the mess, I’m in the midst of quite a bit of cataloging. What brings you down to my humble workplace?”

“Business,” Kimiko says with a brief look to the cloth-shrouded mirror, “unfortunately.” Stepping through the threshold, Kimiko walks with a smooth gait, though Elaine can hear the mechanical whirring of one of her legs. Her slacks and the incredibly precise technology hides which of her legs is prosthetic, not even the movement gives it away. But the sound does. It’s a constant reminder, much as her arm, of the things lost since last year.

Kimiko comes to stand beside the table, looking down at the Sumerian tablets, then rests her hip against the table, crosses her arms, and looks up to Elaine. “So, you’ve probably seen that the Fellowship has been rudderless for a while now. Even when…” she looks momentarily distracted, briefly looking away before continuing. “Even before Kam retired, she couldn’t put enough of her focus to running it. The events suffered, the public outreach suffered, the museum suffered.”

Threading a lock of dark hair behind one ear with a mechanical hand, Kimiko looks around to the untranslated manuscripts and books waiting to be reviewed. “I’d like to imagine you know where this is going…”

“A job like that requires a lot of coordination and I imagine it couldn’t have been easy for her. She was always a kind person and a fair boss and I am disappointed that she left, but I absolutely understand any concerns as far as running the museum.”

Elaine glances from Kimiko to the rest of the room, examining the artifacts present for a moment or two. “I imagine you’re here to inform me of whatever plan you have for the museum moving forward… we’ve all been wondering.” She has, in the not so recent past, wondered if she should be on the job hunt. This conversation was equally as likely to be about her losing her job as it could be about anything else.

Elaine’s calm, rather than paranoia, elicits a momentary smile from Kimiko. It isn’t that she was testing her, per-se, but perhaps a little. “I’ve spent the last six weeks pouring over reports. Behavior, absences… performance reviews. Trying to get a handle on who it is exactly that works here. Then… I got to yours.” Kimiko leans away from the table’s edge and takes a few steps closer to Elaine.

“Former ward of the Ferrymen, school teacher come codetalker for the Resistance,” Kimiko raises one brow and crosses her arms again, “now this, and your continuing education. Kam… said in her performance reviews of you, that Ms. Darrow possesses a passion for history and knowledge that is uncharacteristic of people both her age and disposition.” With a sigh, Kimiko inclines her head to the side. “She had a way of making a compliment sound backhanded, but I believe she meant everything she said.”

Closing the distance to Elaine, Kimiko looks down to the floor for a moment, then up to the redhead. “I’d like you to continue your education, preferably toward completing a masters related to this field. You can expect one-hundred percent compensation from Yamagato Industries,” is something Elaine did not wager would come of this meeting, “which hopefully won’t preclude you from performing as the head curator of the Fellowship.” That, would be another.

“I’ve had a rather unconventional upbringing, yes. I like to think it gives a sense of perspective on all things.” Elaine smiles, just a touch, though the mention of her upbringing still manages to stir up the bad times as well as the good. “I’m flattered by her compliment, as backhanded as it might sound. History is always something that has fascinated me and I always relish the chance to learn more.”

There’s a pause as the redhead takes in the current information and processes it. This was not quite where she thought this conversation might go. “I’d love to go on and get a masters, it’s been something I’ve been thinking about for some time so the offer is very much one I appreciate and will gladly accept.”

But then there’s the last bit that has her a little more off-guard. “I am touched by even the consideration of a position and I gladly accept, I just wonder if there might be someone more senior than me within the organization who might be a logical fit. I’m a little surprised, is all.”

“That’s one of the reasons I’m dividing the role Kam once filled to senior curator and administrator. I want someone with your passion and ability to head up the curation of the museum, while someone more versed in the business aspects of the Foundation runs the day-to-day operation. I’m bringing someone in from Tokyo for that,” Kimiko explains, giving Elaine a once over up and down after judging her reaction.

“But you’re right, you aren’t the most senior person for the job. You haven’t been with Yamagato long, you don’t have the requisite degree, and you’re a foreign national.” Kimiko’s eyes narrow, assessingly, as she asks Elaine. “So why do you think I want you to do this, all things considered?”

There is some understanding expressed in Elaine’s eyes at the mention of Kam’s former position being separated — it makes sense. It would leave things stronger organizational wise. She inclines her head just slightly in a nod, but her brain is working on assessing herself.

“Well, if I were to look at myself objectively, it’s probably several things. While I don’t have a complete education, I’ve always continued to work to learn about history since I was a child — I have an interest in it, more than just the average person. I have a SLC ability that aids me in the translation of any artifact we might have, including the most ancient ones we might come across and that gives me a unique perspective. Then there’s the fact that I’m very dedicated — this is more than a job, it’s a passion. I have no problems attending events, staying longer when the job needs it, and helping others because it’s all something I enjoy doing. It’s something I’m passionate about.”

Elaine nods her head after a moment. “Kam’s assessment seems accurate to me, and while I am not normally one to praise myself…I am beginning to see why I would be a good option.”

Kimiko is smiling, a smile that grew as Elaine walked herself through her qualifications. “You are a singularly unique flower, grown amid a field of grass. All you need is an opportunity to flourish, and you will spread further than any field.” It might be a paraphrased quote, perhaps a transliteration of something from Japanese. It is a pointed choice that Kimiko makes to say it in English, let alone this whole conversation.

Reaching into her jacket with her mechanical hand, Kimiko withdraws a small leatherbound address book that looks decades old. She sets it down on the table beside Elaine, opening it to a bookmarked page. There are three names and addresses in there. They are written in English, but most of the other entries are written in Japanese. Kimiko’s fingers hides the full text of the English names.

“This was my father’s,” Kimiko says quietly, “a book of names and addresses, mostly belonging to the dead now. This is from his time with the Company in the 1980s,” she says, pivoting the book so the text is aligned with Elaine’s perspective. “I want you to keep it, and… when you're ready for an answer for what you're about to see, to take it to Richard Ray at Raytech. He will be better able to explain it to you than I.”

Kimiko pulls her hand away, and the three names and addresses are revealed:

D. Trafford 奥義
82 Hawthorne St.
Brooklyn, NY 11238

J. Harrison 奥義
43 Bellevue St.
Middletown, NY 10940

R. Darrow 奥義
41 Homestead St.
Brooklyn, NY 11224

R. Darrow. Roselyn.

“I believe our paths are more intertwined than either of us realized,” Kimiko says with confident certainty.

A blank look is given to the page, mostly because Elaine is unsure of what to say. It takes her a moment to properly absorb what she’s seeing. “The Company?” It’s certainly something she’s heard before, but not in any context for her to fully understand. It was all bits of information she’d never gathered together in her mind. But now she wished she had remembered more of it.

“It appears so, Ms. Nakamura. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention… it’s certainly something I intend on investigating.” She lets out a slow breath, staring at the entry for her mother. “I’ll be sure to visit with Mr. Ray. Soon… very soon.”

“There will be orientation for your new position, training, much paperwork and the onus will be on you to hire new museum staff and plan our next exhibits. But… all in due time.” Kimiko looks briefly at the book, the back to Elaine. “For now, take some time and relax, you won't have much time for that in the future.”

With that, Kimiko nods and looks Elaine up and down one more time. “I will remain impressed by your work ethic and your skill at language in the interim,” she admits with a soft smile. “What is language, if not the act by which thought is made into action. You,” she inclines her head to Elaine, “are the Tower of Babel amid a desert of the ignorant. You are the keystone in a greater construction.”

Smiling again as she turns for the door, Kimiko leaves Elaine with one final thought. “I look forward to seeing what it becomes.”

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