The Nakamura Code Part I


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Scene Title The Nakamura Code Part I
Synopsis Richard goes to Elliot for assistance in breaking a portentous cipher.
Date June 18, 2021


The rain’s just been coming down worse and worse, proving that what the locals were saying about the storm was one hundred percent on target. The dirty yellow hood of a poncho is up over Richard’s head as he makes his way below-decks in search of his teammate, boots thumping their way down the stairs.

The call of the man’s name has a hint of urgency to it, but no edge of alarm. Whatever it is, it’s not an emergency.

Elliot startles awake, blinking away confusion. What time is it? How long have I slept? He has the impulse to cringe against the sudden recollection of a nightmare, but there’s nothing. He remembers sharing the dream with Asi and Wright but he isn’t sure how much of that was lucid.

He pushes himself upright, sending a blanket he doesn’t remember crawling under sliding to the floor. He sits behind the table of the common area, scrubbing life into his face with his hands. Was it daytime when I came back here? Is this the same day?

He finally puts Richard’s arrival into enough context to look up at the man. “What’s up?” he asks.

“You, uh…” Richard pauses, taking in the other man, “…I was going to ask if you needed coffee but I’m not sure if we have any.”

He drops down to sit across from the other man, his tone wry, “…truly, this is the worst of all possible timelines. You alright?”

Elliot tries to hide the confusion as to why Richard might inquire as to his well-being. It comes back to him slowly that Richard also has a vested interest in everybody succeeding, which would require Elliot to be at his best. To be what he can’t be. “There is coffee,” he corrects amiably. “Though buying it makes you indebted to the monarchy.” He shrugs, because honestly being indebted to the queen of the Mafia might be worth being more awake for this conversation.

“I’m okay,” he says, brows furrowing as he comes to grips with the truth of it. “Been having some rather righteous nightmares. Separation anxiety, maybe. Never did too well far away from Wright.” There’s truth in it, but plenty of deflection.

“What can I do for you?”

“Nightmares…” A dip of Richard’s head in rueful understanding, one hand coming up to rub against his forehead briefly, “I know that one. Been trying not to sleep too much, myself…” His hand motions vaguely through the air, “Can’t imagine any of us are sleeping well. Well.”

He corrects himself, nose wrinkling, “Maybe Eve. If she even sleeps anymore, I’m not even sure.”

“Just slips further into a wool cloak of weed smoke, most likely,” Elliot suggests. He drums his fingers against the edge of the table and breathes in some resolution. He stands as much as he can, making his way around the table to where he can be fully upright.

Once free of the boundaries of the bench that formed his bed he takes a moment to stretch. Do I have anything left to eat? The days of being awake yielded him sustenance, but little more than what was required for staying awake through a day. Staying awake through a night? Through all the days and nights between? There’s no amount of nutrition that can keep a body aloft. He’s barely had enough to survive the plummet back to earth.

So he pretends he has the type of nightmares that other people do. “I’d cook you something,” he says, casting about the kitchenette with his gaze, “But we’re low on the type of food that doesn’t make the locals try to throttle you when you mention it.” Because he doesn’t know what time of day it is. What side of the building is Yeah Buoy! docked to? What side of the building is east of here? That the sun casts light into the bowels of the ship does him few favors.

“I might try my hand at fishing soon, I have a hunch I might be good at it…” Richard leans back a bit, hands bracing at the small of his back as he stretches– grimacing slightly. “Nnh. Getting too old for this shit, I really am.”

Resettling again, he offers over wryly, “Once you’re awake, need to ask you a favor– maybe, if it’s even feasible.”

Elliot’s pull of Wright’s attention finally bears fruit. Wright scrubs sleep from her eyes, pivoting slowly to a seat on the bunk. She reaches for her phone to check the time, power nearly depleted. “Fourteen hours,” she says. It’s tomorrow after all.

“I’m up,” Elliot assures Richard. “I think a giant hole in reality demonstrates that anything’s feasible.”

“I wish you weren’t right there,” Richard chuckles, shaking his head, “So, I’ve got a guy– he’s got some papers in code, something computer-generated, also written in fucking Japanese. I don’t think anyone we’ve got here is capable of decoding it, so– I thought maybe Wright could find someone who could?”

Elliot’s interest is piqued. “Interesting,” he says, pouring himself a mug of water. “I may be able to help you with that.” He drinks most of the water from the mug before refilling it and returning to take a seat at the table.

“If it’s in Japanese I’ll need to link somebody who’s fluent,” he says as he makes himself comfortable. “Otherwise Wright won’t be able to copy it down. The local Asi is an option.” The home Asi as well, but no need to get into that right now.

“What’s the altitude in relation to the board with this job,” he asks, “above, or below?”

“Below,” says Richard with a shake of his head, “At least until we know what it says– it was set up specifically for us as far as I can tell, which usually means either predictive or time travelling shenanigans. And I don’t trust Marcus Raith as far as I can throw him out a goddamn window.”

A vague motion of one hand, “He’s up to something, and I don’t care for it.”

“Yeah,” Elliot agrees with a laugh. “Fuck that guy. Wright and Rue’s composite memory of Nick decking him square in the fucking mouth is a frequent rewatch.”

He considers for a moment, drumming on the tabletop with his fingers. “I can get the code to Wright,” he says. “That’s easy enough. The difficult bit is her getting it to anyone without the Office knowing about it. She’s in KC currently, due to the encroaching fires in the Safe Zone.”

“There is another option,” he continues, eyes focused elsewhere as he continues to tap rhythmically. “We crack it ourselves. Or I crack it ourselves. Math and computer sciences are the only things I was good at in school, and I’ve kept up to date. I also have experience with cipher breaking.” He may never have finished high school, but he’s employed the skill recently enough.

“I don’t have a computer here, obviously,” he admits, “but I can take advantage of an aspect of the telepathic network that doesn’t come up often. Hosts can volunteer their cognitive capacity to another host. The more volunteers, the easier it is for the focus host to overclock their abilities. This works for mental class ability as though the user is being amplified by an Expressive amplifier, but it also works with any purely mental skill. Math, computer sciences. Cryptography.”

“That’s the only way to guarantee the OEI doesn’t get their eyes on it,” he says with a sigh. “I realize there are roadblocks to this option, including my own reticence to let other people in on my ability.”

“I am deeply jealous of your ability to just call that memory up, and I just want to say that if you get a telepath and a technopath together you can put memories on digital for later playback and we can sell copies to all the OEI agents,” quips Richard with a grin, shaking his head, “It was a damn good punch, too.”

At the revelation about the other man’s network, his eyebrows go up. “Well, shit, that could work then. The guy that has the info– Silas– I’d trust him as much as anyone on this team. He was working with us back in our timeline before he got unceremoniously booted back here by the Entity.”

“We thought he was dead, but he’s here. Conveniently with a package he picked up in Japan that he doesn’t have the ability to translate, but we do. I know when someone’s putting bread crumbs in front of me.”

Interesting. Elliot already trusts Silas at Asi's recommendation, so that's easy enough. He doesn't bring that up, he'll have to consider the ramifications of letting Richard know she's linked in after he wakes up a bit more. "I'm not sure how many people I can link in," he says. "My current record is five including Wright, but I think I could maintain the network with more. Just never had the opportunity to see how many."

“Considering everyone else on the team has to this point declined the opportunity to link into the network,” Elliot says, fingers ceasing their drumming, “even for training purposes, I’m not sure how many we’ll get. Consent is a big factor here, since links break without it. Obviously more co-hosts is better in this situation. The amount of cognition transferred isn’t one to one, it’s harder to underclock than it is easy to overclock.”

It occurs to him that Asi could be the person to transfer the data to a codebreaker in a worst-case scenario, though the clock is ticking on that opportunity. “Do you have the ciphertext already?”

“No,” replies Richard with a shake of his head, “I can set up a meeting with Silas whenever you’re ready, though– I didn’t know how much other-world wrangling you’d need to be doing.”

He chuckles, “So, basically whenever you want.”

“Yeah,” Elliot says, looking puzzled for a moment as he runs down the list of tasks in his mind. Now that he’s slept, there’s nothing stopping him from getting a few out of the way. “I’m going to talk to the local Asi in the next couple of days, hopefully I can get her onboard. Also were we invited to a party? I have a very hazy recollection of that.”

“Sounds good– and yeah, the local Marlowe did,” Richard admits, “So we should pick up some clothes for that, I think Eve had something in mind– I shudder what. As soon as you’re ready, I’ll call the meeting.”

He pauses, “But try and get more rest, eh? You’re looking a little peaked.”

"It can’t possibly be good,” Elliot surmises. “Though, I have no understanding of what makes that woman tick, maybe it will be something normal.” He lifts his mug and polishes off the water in one long quaff.

“I apparently just slept for fourteen hours,” he says. With any luck the beast in his nightmares will lay low for a while, give him time to figure out a way to banish it again. “More sleep wouldn’t do me any good right now. Food maybe.” He looks down at himself, expression settling on unimpressed. “Bath maybe.”

“Well,” Richard quips, pushing himself to his feet with a chuckle, “Water is the one thing they seem to be in good supply of here. Let me know when you’re ready, eh?”

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