The Eight Headed Serpent, Part VIII


eizen_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif kimiko_icon.gif

Scene Title The Eight-Headed Serpent. Part VIII
Synopsis For Kimiko Nakamura, there is one enemy above all.
Date June 3, 2019

The Yamagato Industries corporate headquarters in New York is the single most advanced building in the United States. But above the white-walled and pristine halls of the lower floors, the executive levels are coded with black and gold aesthetics. The floors are lined with black marble with gold veins, the walls are papered with a matte floral print with a hush of gold leaf antiqued over its textured surface.

Frosted glass globes that shed warm light are suspended from the ceiling by black cords, and the mountain symbol of the Yamagato corporation is stamped above each tall doorway. The sound of shoes on stone echoes down the halls, past security desks, to the inner offices of Yamagato’s highest level executives.

Huruma Dunsimi is escorted by Yamagato security chief Eizen Erizawa. “Ms. Nakamura was insistent that she have time to speak to you about what happened. Given your… interpersonal connections, is how she phrased it.” It's an ominous portent to meeting the second in command of one of the largest corporations in the world.

More ominous is the metal bracelet around Huruma’s wrist, glittering with a single blinking blue light. A security precaution according to Eizen, so that the building's automated security doesn't detect Huruma as a threat. It seems innocuous enough, as all dangerous things are.

Yamagato Building

Executive Floor

June 3rd


When they reach the black glass doors of President Nakamura’s office, Eizen opens one side of the doors and motions for Huruma to head inside. Beyond the doors, the Presidential office rests in the building’s southwest corner, with one corner nothing but gradually sloping walls of glass clearly viewing the ocean and the dimly lit ruin of Liberty Island.

The office is cathedralesque in height, with tapered black columns trimmed in gold rising to the ceiling. Ferns and other potted plants are spaced around the room along with six foot high decorative trees. A single black slab desk rests beside the windows, behind which stands the slim silhouette of Kimiko Nakamura dressed in a sleek black suit whose sleeves split at the elbow and fall like petals around her forearms, showing off the bare metal aesthetic of her prosthetic arm.

Kimiko simply stands there. She has nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and the only way she's going to get away from these people is by going through them. She and Huruma are meeting eye to eye.


In one corner, Kimiko Nakamura, and in the other, Huruma, both ready for the other. It is Huruma that moves first, quick on her feet and moving after Kimiko with an arm drawing back- and once she is close enough, the punch lets out like a snake striking. Kimiko also has a smaller size and more dexterity against Huruma, now that it is clear that the taller woman suffers little for speed and agility.


It is the writhing to get away that seals the deal; Huruma moves the hand not on Kimiko's leg up to grab her by the arm, or the wrist- or if luck has it, both wrists, all in order to push her to the ground and pin her under a knee. Along with this comes the thin fabric of her mask stretching around her mouth as it opens in a silent snarl, white teeth barely visible through the weave. Her eyes are crystal clear, now, and the hiss just the same.

“It's been too long.”

Now comes the horrible part. The part where Kimiko's pride and desperation starts to melt into blood-curdling terror. Best part of the fight, for Huruma.

The door to the office shuts softly behind Huruma, with Eizen looming with his back to the door and brows furrowed.

“How are you?” Kimiko asks, as if her voice was replaced by steel as well.

Interpersonal connections.

Of course that's how she said it.

Though reticent about the bracelet, Huruma allowed it rather than turning heel. She knows it means something more. If it didn't, she would be shocked.

Appreciation for the upper floor and offices goes unaddressed, save for the roaming of eyes briefly in every space Eizen escorts her. Studying. Habitual.

The red, gold, and black of Huruma's frame contrasts to Kimiko's careful titanium manner with fire and blood, ultimately fitting at a time like this. As Kimiko comes into focus, Huruma sets those eyes on her, a memory in themselves. Her voice carries one too, dark yet poised.
"It has." A shaded leer casts from Eizen to Kimiko, before Huruma is slowly stepping forward, boots dulled clicks on the marbled tile. Her expression has molded from incensed to interested in the time it took to get here; there are far too many old acquaintances she has found again, after all this time.

"Ah, I could be better…" An accurate admission, obviously; though it is clear that time and war has tempered Huruma into something- - someone- - else entirely. Something more able to admit it at all, even in that deliberate cadance. "Especially after finding out about the hellish mess my daughter-in-law has gotten herself into."

She stops a step away from the other side of the desk, lingering as she often does, a slink in her movements. If there is more posturing to be made as she did with Eizen, Huruma is reserving it now.

“Yes,” Kimiko says carefully, “it is hard, having one's family square in the sights of Adam Monroe.” It didn't take long for that knife to come out, though it is flashed with civility and precision, as though a formal part of the conversation.

“I will confess, that I did not know the full extent of your family's history when they approached me for aid.” Kimiko comes from around the desk, tracing the fingers of her flesh and blood hand on the surface as she does. “I knew that Celerity had made a bad deal, learned later that Celerity’s CEO was married to the Malagasy ambassador to the UN. That her family fought for Madagascar’s freedom against imperialists and tyrants. Heroes,” she calls them.

Kimiko stops her approach in front of her desk, dark eyes fixed on Huruma. “I was not surprised when I learned their mother was a hero. Wolfhound, the civil war, putting tyrants and bigots into the ground. It made me all the more eager to open my arms to Celerity, to offer them protection in exchange for a look at the technology Praxis so badly wants. To stay eight steps ahead.”

“Imagine my surprise,” Kimiko says, tension rising in her voice, “when I see you enter the building. I did not recognize your face, but I would never forget those eyes. Then, once I learned who you were… I realized that I had let a serpent into my home. Again.”

Chin up and shoulders squared, Kimiko looks much as she did ten years ago when Huruma cornered her on the streets of Tokyo. But they are both older, wiser, and more patient people now. “Imagine my surprise to learn that you kidnapped me, and two days later stood by and watched as Adam Monroe killed my father.”

Kimiko’s voice is as cold as the steel of her prosthetic hand. “Adam Monroe, who murdered the man who once sat in this desk. Who bombed this building and killed a dozen innocent people. Who bombed my corporate headquarters and took my arm and leg,” her voice starts to tense, “Adam Monroe who murdered my husband in front of my while I lay bleeding on the ground. Adam Monroe who promised he would come finish the job when it was time.”

Swallowing down the fire in her throat, Kimiko breathes in deeply and legs the boiling pit of rage in her chest flow out of her. She is older, she is wiser, she is patient. “Here we are.”

The knife is expected, and the result is likely pleasing; the serpent in question turns her gaze away, hands one over the other, resting loose and forward-facing. Huruma knows exactly why she is here, of course. Her anger downstairs came to a simmer in the elevator, the further she got from others of similar anger. Dajan, foremost.

Huruma lifts her eyes back to Kimiko when the shorter woman comes to a stop in front of her. Those eyes. Those eyes, they aren't the same as years ago, when seen from so near. She remains silent, expression purely neutral, ears tuned intently to Kimiko. Undivided.

The staccato of Adam's name in her ears is a burning one. The phone in her pocket feels the same, a hot coal against her thigh. Parts of her want to say things were different. And yet, she still had such content. Such vivid memories.

Kimiko's inner storm is received and read, Huruma's ability a rod in the rumble of rain. She makes no move to influence it. Older. Wiser. Patient.

"Here we are," The tall woman's voice floats down like a coat of velvet, eyes once again pitching downward, just briefly. Just enough. "Ten years later. Vastly different people." Huruma can see through Kimiko as she would a clean window, but there is no wielding it as a hot brand like she once did.

Kimiko maintains a steady lock on Huruma’s eyes, then blinks her attention over to Eizen, then slowly begins walking back to her desk. “That bracelet you are wearing is a biometric identification bangle. It reads biological data and feeds it into Yamagato’s network. It can mark lifesigns friendly, or, with an access code, render them to register as hostile.” Coming back to her desk, Kimiko rests her hand down on the black glass surface.

“Our network manages everything within the Park, from traffic lights to atmospheric controls in Cresting Wave. Including this building.” With a touch of one finger, Kimiko causes a one inch square on her desk to turn a slow, pulsing red. “Our security system cannot complete an action that would result in the direct harm of a Yamagato Industries employee, or a guest with a biometric lock. Without entry into our system, or an external identifier like those bracelets… I could initiate a fire suppression protocol in an occupied medical bay.”

Kimiko’s jaw tenses. “Flood the affected room with enough Halon gas to suffocate the flame. And everything else.” At this point even Eizen looks nervous, his dark eyes flicking back and forth from Kimiko to Huruma. “I could have my revenge with one finger.”

“Right now.”

Kimiko exhales a slow breath through her nose, swiping the red square away like a drop of ketchup off a plate. The air hangs tense and still when the button is dismissed, and Kimiko’s body is rigid with tension from her neck to her calves. She is unblinking, unwavering, a softer sculpture of her father Kaito’s unflinching resolve as he stood before Adam in that park a decade ago.

“I choose not to.” Kimiko says flatly. “Because we have the same enemy now.”

Huruma knows what circling looks like. She knows it like the back of her hand, which is briefly regarded as the cradle for said bangle. But of course it is. Her mind is already slipping needlelike along Kimiko's, investigatory. She knows what this place can do to people; it is too intelligent. Yet…

She lets the woman have her moment in the sun, to speak, despite knowing full well the warring feelings inside. Which ones seem to be winning. Kimiko's moods become something more nebulous. For all of this, Huruma still straightens, eyes locking on Kimiko as that spot on her desk remains lit red; hands at her sides extend in a flex of flingers.

Eizen is still a static hole in her field of view; that said, she can practically feel his watching turning more intense. One watcher to another.

Right now.

But she won't.

I choose not to.

Called it.

"So it seems." Huruma answers, not quite clipped; acknowledging the owner of this particular dragon's lair with a lift of her chin. It is her turn to draw around the desk, mimicking the other woman's drifting touch. Even with what she says next, there is a hint of humor with it, more breathless than hostile. Relief, in part. Mainly the release of the springs coiled in her spine. "Though as an aside… do try not to underestimate my children's ability to tear a building apart."

"Adam… seems to have done just that, and look where it's gotten him…" Huruma links her hands behind her back, shoulders square, features sharp under the light. Those Eyes pierce the span of the office window. Nice view. "I learned years ago that I cannot change what I've already done. I used to have no care for such consequences. You know that." While she does not go on to explain how it is so past tense, her associations and actions speak more loudly than words could.

"Now… I can only choose more wisely going forward, without the spectre of madness crawling down my back." Huruma doesn't mean Adam- - she means herself. She isn't asking for forgiveness, but facts are facts, and reasons are reasons. Feelings are feelings. Even if they are dangerous, corroded, sad. Betrayed.

"Where do we go from here?"

“For the throat,” is Kimiko’s smooth and quick response. It’s only when it seems both women have set down their differences that Eizen even starts to relax, though he stays a tall and silent fixture at the door. Kimiko moves to the chair at her desk, steadying herself with her prosthetic hand as she eases herself down into the seat. She blinks a look up to Huruma, brows furrowed and intent. “Monroe is operating in an unknown number of host bodies or… copies. He co-opted cloning research done by a subsidiary of Praxis Heavy Industries and work done by the Institute for this purpose. By my best assessment, he may have upwards of twenty copies of himself, each interlinked with a shared consciousness. Not entirely unlike that of Brian Fulk, if you know him.”

Sweeping a hand over her desk, Kimiko begins keying into a secure system. “Jiba, bring up Project Hydra.” At that verbal command, a holographic image of a blue and white ring, like some sort of digital cyclopean eye manifests over Kimiko’s desk.

«Right away President Nakamura,» comes the synthesized voice from all around the room, like a ghost conjured by a digital medium. After the affirmation, three-dimensional images of vivisected bodies, floating icons of documents and photographs, and hovering file directories manifest around Kimiko’s vantage point and look mirrored in reverse from Huruma’s perspective.

“A Company project, one my father kept detailed notes on, was Project Hydra. It was started by the Nazis in 1942 when Adam Monroe and Kazimir Volken joined Project Icarus. It was intended to research the limitations of Adam’s regenerative abilities… at his own request. They tested grafting his severed limbs on to Non-Expressives — not that they had the terminology for that at the time — and a host of other grotesqueries. This was then given to the US government…”

Black and white photographs of US government research installations from the 1950s replace the original images. One of them is what is now infamous as the welcome sign outside of the Coyote Sands Relocation Center. “Adam did not come to the US as a scientist, not unlike Otto Brum and Kazimir Volken. He created a new identity for himself and through an act of sheer vanity kept the name Adam Monroe and none were the wiser. He was a US marine and stationed himself at Coyote Sands where the doctors there were continuing Project Hydra’s research…”

There’s photographs of Chandra Suresh and Jonas Zimmerman next. “The massacre happened, the Founders resolved to change the status quo, and by the early 1970s the US government’s research program on Specials was mothballed and quietly stolen by the Company thanks to their psychic manipulation of government officials.” Kimiko continues to dig through the files, looking for something.

“Then the Company, then the Institute… now Praxis Heavy Industries. Hydra has spread through these organizations, and only now has come back into Adam’s control. We’ve had numerous sightings over the last few years, of Adam in multiple parts of the world simultaneously. We’re not sure if our estimate on how many bodies he has in operation at once is accurate or the precise level of autonomy they have. But creating them does not appear to be an easy process.”

The doors of the shipping container explode open, broken pieces of chain flying in every direction as a hulking, monstrous figure erupts from within, exhaling a braying cry like a wounded elk and a terrified man all in one. The monstrosity is twice the size of Huruma, proportioned like a human being but stooped in posture with forearms that extend down like a spindly gorilla. Too many additional arms writhe at the creature’s bare abdomen, six arms in total, each twisted and bent in unnatural directions and of varying size.

The creature wears patchwork pants sewn from multiple pairs of denim jeans and may have even had something of a shirt at one point in time. Of all its gith, its head looks tiny. Proportionately human sized, though two faces fused together, one at an odd angle coming out of half of the other face. Matted patches of blonde hair sprout from the horrible abomination’s skull and injection marks pockmark its limbs.

“Hoo-roo-ma,” the monster bellows, sounding entirely like it’s calling for—

Huruma sees the beast, its blue eyes, its familiar face.

Or, faces.

Memory of the beast at Caspar Abraham’s trailer comes flooding back for Huruma as Kimiko speaks.

“So, killing him is not going to be a one-for-one operation, but at this point I simply do not see any other option. The sheer scope of his depravity and the work he has done to undermine governments, corporations, and personal liberties is staggering.” Finally finding what she was looking for, Kimiko pulls up an image of a dark-haired woman in a black uniform pulled from a traffic camera. Dajan is partly visible in the frame.

This is the assassin he sent after your son,” Kimiko says flatly, turning the image around as though it were a physical object to show to her. “Her name is unknown, but she is one of a handful of surviving clones from an early genomics project run by a corporation that would later be absorbed by Praxis Heavy. Three pods of nine clones. Adam has a pair of triplets, survivors of pod three, who are responsible for the bombing on this building and our corporate headquarters in Tokyo.”

Kimiko stands up from her desk, smoother than she sat, and looks from the images to Huruma. “Two survivors from the assassin’s pod were raised by civilians, unaware of their identities. One of them is Francesca Lang, who is presently in Japan alongside a…” Kimiko carefully considers her choice of words, “former employee of mine, Monica Dawson. They are researching Adam independently.” Though she seems remarkably well-informed about it in spite of that. “Up until your family was attacked, I was unaware this assassin was alive.”

And so, Kimiko comes full circle to Huruma, standing at the corner of her desk. “As I said, we go for the throat. I have more,” she motions to the desk, then looks back to Huruma. “If you’re interested.”

Kimiko's response is one that Huruma would have had, given a reversal. A look from her eases over the door, Eizen, noting the more visible shifts with a tightening of her mouth. He does not seem used to this side of things; or if he is, perhaps just not Kimiko's. Huruma looks away from him after a moment, tracking the shorter woman's path to her seat; she remains at the window, though angling towards her present company, accommodating.

Recognition is there at mention of Fulk, and the explanation of multiples makes so much more sense. A hive. Already the tapering ends of her memory come slinking back as she listens. A brow arches up at the disembodied voice, though the interaction with the console of the desk alludes to it being a companion program. Hydra. Icarus. Recognition is held back; Ms. Nakamura has a great many assumptions on what she knows. Let her have her exposition.

The longer it goes, the longer she cannot hold her own mind back. Autonomy. Huruma's face angling away can be seen in her reflection against the window, eyes pinching closed and jaw tightening. So did he do that to himself after all? Why Caspar?

Answers don't come to her like she wants them to. Kimiko's emotions signal her to turn around completely, gliding those few steps to the desk, eyes on the image. It mirrors off of her eyes, flicking up and down the snapshot in a rush of study, committing details.

Confirmation of something sets into her features when Kimiko mentions Monica; eyes move to the side, fixing briefly on darker ones.

"It feels as if everyone is researching independently." A hand lifts to dark face, fingertips drawn from chin to neck, a grounding line that ends with her palm resting on collarbone. Don't float away now, of all times. Stay rooted. "I believe I know this Ms. Lang already. I assisted in teaching a, ah, ward of hers in controlling his ability." How does one even describe Jibram?

"Wolfhound has an investigation. SESA, you, Richard Ray. …Unaffiliated parties." Such as Monica, Chess, Eve. Huruma's tongue presses against the edges of her teeth. "I can tell you about the clone I did encounter, if you wish. Because I am. Interested."

“Trust is a precious commodity in today’s world. I don’t trust SESA to effectively handle this, and I don’t trust Richard Ray to follow instructions.” Kimiko says crisply as she folds her hands atop the desk, leaning forward with a dark brow raised inquisitively. “You and I are cut from similar fabrics, even if we wear that cloth differently at times.”

With a tilt of her chin up toward Huruma, Kimiko says, “Tell me what you know.”

It’s an exercise in handling precious commodities.

SESA is still a bureaucracy, with some competency. Richard doesn't like to follow instructions. Huruma spares the twitch of her lips at that one, studying the lay of how the CEO of Yamagato holds herself.

"SESA has Benjamin Ryans, who is arguably the next best thing for… This." It's not favor, it's the truth. Huruma moves around the desk back to the visiting side proper, giving Eizen a casual look over her shoulder. It doesn't last long; she cannot sense him, so he earns extra scrutiny.

There is no comment on similar fabrics, nor the cut of cloth; the analogy is solid, Huruma knows that. Instead, she takes the chair across from Kimiko, sliding into it, one leg over the other.

"Mm. Where would you like to begin?"

With a deep sigh, Kimiko steeples her hands in front of her face and rests her elbows on her desk, regarding Huruma from across the glossy black surface. She is reflected, subtly, in the desktop. Huruma too.

“How long do you have?” Kimiko asks, intently. There is so much to do. So much of her company that still needs structure.

But for this?

Kimiko has all the time in the world.

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