The New Old Kids On The Block


asi_icon.gif devon5_icon.gif elliot_icon.gif huruma4_icon.gif wright_icon.gif

Scene Title The New Old Kids On The Block
Synopsis Two Old Hounds come home anew, bringing with them a reinvigoration of trickster energy in the Bastion.
Date September 21, 2020

The Bastion

11:39 am

There might be plenty of other things worth doing around the Bastion at this hour, but none of them smell this good.

Maybe Asi's counting on it to lure the new blood to the cafeteria. Technically, she should be meeting them in the office she'd been provided to get them properly processed, IDs generated for them for the electronic admission system she'd installed to the Bastion's external doors, but…

Well, she's getting a late start.

The former Mugai-Ryu operative has all the humor of someone who hasn't had their coffee yet, because she's only halfway through her first mug, which sits on the countertop behind her while she pushes multiple pans at once. The growing length of her hair is swept back into a tie, brown eyes narrowed at peppers and squash that will be done before the fish she laid. On the back burner, a griddle pan sizzles with bacon. A rice cooker on the counter clicks and emits a melody indicating it's done. It all looks like a lot put together— enough that anyone passing by might think some of it's free for grabs.

She's quick with that spatula, though.

Her temper's grown shorter over the summer, too. Whatever it is that happened to her over the fourth of July, and there are rumors, she came back without her ability. No fierce electric glow shifts the hue of her brown eyes anymore. Once, she could have handled processing of this electronic paperwork while she had her morning coffee. Now, though, it has to happen on its own pace.

In the corner of the kitchen, a radio sings waves it picks up from Yamagato Park, a rock song in Japanese ending to give way to a new American release in English. It's a mix of cultures the same as the breakfast being prepared. Sifting through the cooking vegetables, Asi takes a moment to listen— and in the process tunes in to the sound of movement behind her. She looks over her shoulder, eyebrow raised in advance in silent inquiry.

Elliot fills two mugs with coffee and takes a moment to breathe in the scent. It’ll have to do. He lifts the mugs and turns toward Asi, starting as though he wasn’t expecting her to be standing right behind him. “Good morning,” he says, moving awkwardly past her toward a table, “Didn’t see you there.”

Across the room, with none of the quiet subtlety of Elliot, Wright enters the room. She seems to ignore Elliot as he passes her a mug of coffee on his way to take a seat. “Hi,” she says, “I’m Wright, the sneaky rude one is Elliot.” She takes a sip of coffee and luxuriates in it. “This is good,” she says.

“It isn’t,” Elliot replies quietly.

"It's better than it could be," Asi opines, looking back to the stove with a shake of her head. "A distressing number in Wolfhound think that their coffee is no good unless it has the consistency of liquid tar."

That number remains elusive and anonymous in this moment, but is definitely greater than one.

Dials flipped one by one to cut the fire to the range, she sidles alongside the counter to grab plates from the cabinets, sneaking a healthy sip from her own cooling coffee after settling them down. "You two are the 'new' ones?" Even with both hands occupied, the airquotes can be heard. "I was hoping to shirk that label, but from what I've heard, you've been here before."

She kicks the rice cooker closed with the heel of her hand after plating a portion, tipping the pan with vegetables after it, chasing it with contents from the other two shortly after. It's only once her hands are free that she bothers with an introduction, arm extending to Wright in the process. "Asi Tetsuyama. Nice to meet you."

Wright smiles warmly and shakes Asi’s hand. “Nice to meet you. We’re old enough, and have been gone long enough, that we might as well be new. We got out a while after the end of the war. This all smells delicious, by the way.”

“It does smell amazing,” Elliot chimes in. “On our last tour with the company, mess was,” he pauses, “Wildly inconsistent in quality. Also, apologies for the abrupt appearance. I was curious how far I could get into the building without being stopped, and followed my nose here.”

"Ah," Asi remarks airily, a deadpan humor to it. "My lure worked. Excellent." Only the corners of her eyes turn up in a small smile. "Saved me the trouble of having to find you."

Pulling out a drawer from the island, she fishes herself out utensils before closing it back up with her hip. "The doors around here stay locked these days, but I left the front open this morning for you." Slicing off a bite from the cooked fish with a practiced split of dark chopsticks, she gestures to the general space with a tilt of her head. "There were issues with unwelcomes letting themselves in, so swiping your ID is required to get into the entrances now." Attempting to be of good humor about it, she adds, "It was time to rejoin the twenty-first century. Only took two break-ins for it, besides."

It was more than two, actually, but she doesn't know that to say.

Asi glances back between the two, brows lifting slightly before she even asks her question. "I haven't dug much into either of you yet. What can you tell me about you?"

“They're a couple of reckless, insubordinate hacks,” Devon gruffs from the kitchen doorway. Arms are crossed over his chest, a shoulder presses into the frame. A look of serious appraisal passes from Elliot to Wright and back again. Still, something about his regard seems to imply a knowledge the pair of newcomers well enough to give them the Wolfhound flavor of companionable shit. It's good for morale.

He pushes himself from the doorway to follow the smells of breakfast. It's stronger here than they were out in the hall — and it looks like Asi cooked which means it’s going to be edible and not that questionable slop that frequently ends up in the back of the fridge.

“Sorry for interrupting,” Dev says quietly once he’s closer to Asi, after casting passing looks to Elliot and Wright. The skillet of food is regarded, but it ends up being the coffee he goes for first. A mug is filled from the pot, with a feigned long suffering sigh for its perceived weakness. He doesn't go so far as to comment on it though.

“Devon,” Wright says agreeably, “You’re looking well, have you lost gravity?” Elliot slowly blinks and turns to her, giving a shrug that seems to say, Really? “And reckless,” she continues unfazed, “That’s fair, but hacks?”

“Also fair,” Elliot says. He turns his attention back to Asi, “Wright and I grew up together in Northeastern Mass, parted ways in our teens and surprisingly collided again years later working different parts of a relocation job out of the Brick House. We were just volunteer operatives then, but got on the Ferry full time shortly thereafter. Logistics leading to Intel for me, multipurpose manhandling leading to Special Activities for her.”

“After Cambridge,” Wright continues for him, “we relocated to Bannerman’s Arcade and Amusement Park shortly before the Grim Field Trip Into Canada. Came back to the states a few weeks later, with my future wife in tow, for some patriotic rough-housing and fell in with disreputable ne'er-do-wells like our friend Devon here. Don’t look at me like that Devon, you know it’s true. Anyway I’m usually a strike team commando and Elliot’s role is in the neighborhood of deep cover and pretending to be in deep cover to sleep through reveille.

“That was one time,” Elliot says, exasperated.

Lost… gravity.

Asi's attention floats back in Wright's direction following that comment, biting off any commentary she was about to pass regarding don't touch the rest of her bacon. She catches the look that passes from partner to partner, brow twitching in amusement.

Their flow is remarkable, she thinks to herself, mulling over the actual information in it with a touch of her breakfast. She reaches her limit and ends up letting out a short snort of a breath when Elliot balks, pressing the back of her hand under her nose to keep from anything else more drastic happening. She only shakes her head, swallowing hard after that. Somehow, it's a better reaction than she'd started to have— a threat of quiet melancholy over the missing ability she'd tried to reach for in silence upon hearing their stories.

To ensure she doesn't give the emotion room to root, she begins to tell her own. "I grew up in Japan. Technopathic exploits caught the attention of my government, and we came to agree my talents were better put to use on their behalf, and I worked almost a decade with the Mugai-Ryu." Her wrist rolls, chopsticks gesturing in a stiff flick while she thinks aloud. "Think… SCOUT, but if there were an Army division dedicated to Evolved special forces."

Asi looks back to Wright over Elliot, head tipping to the side in a sort of shrug. "And then Mazdak tried exceedingly hard to frame me for the murder of a high-ranking official. So—" She digs up a bite of rice, looking appropriately pensive in a way her dismissive tone doesn't quite match. "now I freelance."

"Usually I stick to the back line. 'Technology specialist.'" she summarizes, punctuating the thought with a bite of her food. But then her gaze wanders, and settles on Devon next.

It's rude to point, but it's not the only bad habit she's picked up lately. Her index finger leaves its position propping up her eating utensil as she gestures vaguely at him. "Your turn."

“Lost it, found it again.” Devon shrugs a what can you do about it attitude. And still with his back to the room. It's so he can sip his coffee, and top it off again before he faces the others. Besides, it gives Elliot and Wright a chance to explain themselves to Asi — and vice versa. So by the time the technopath is pointing to him he's ready to fully join in.

“Joined the war a couple months after I turned 18, mostly doing supply runs at first.” Dev half sits against the edge of the counter, pauses to take another sip from his mug. “Met up with Hana and everyone when the fighting got intense. Then one day these two show up and it's like the best worst idea ever. Enemy militia couldn't tell who or what to fire at because we've got so much smoke and explosions filling the air.”

He grins around the rim of his mug. “I kept my reputation of being a daredevil. Went head to head with some hunter-bots a couple years ago, blew up some zombies.” It might be slightly bragging, but it's also just Devon relating past missions and his part in them.

“Somebody had to keep the action going while we were luxuriating in our unemployment,” Elliot nods to Devon. He stands, gesturing toward the food as he passes Wright. She nods without looking up.

“Yes, absolutely disintegrating into relaxed euphoria in our blissful, stress-free time away from gainful employment. Marthe and I just lotteried into Phoenix Heights, taking our blessed, low-upkeep and predictable daughter Ames with us. Closer to the academy was the biggest selling point, working around the proverbial block was certainly a determining factor in our return.”

“For you,” Elliot adds, “I have to hoof it from Red Hook.” He places a plate in front of Wright, who orients it before her without looking, picking a biteful with her fork.

“Ah, the torments of owning a townhouse in the most redeveloped section of the Zone,” She says, eating and savoring her bite of breakfast.

Elliot sits beside her, casting an amused eyebrow as he takes a moment to take in the scent of his meal. “This is wonderful, Asi. We’ll have to cook sometime.”

Asi develops the intuition that sarcasm's possibly these two's first language rather than anything else. It's a suitable distraction that keeps her from leveling possibly well-deserved side-eye at Devon over his proclamation of daredevilry. After all, it'd gotten him killed.

And he'd forgotten to mention that little detail.

She shakes her head to head back to the prevailing topic, though. "Well, better halfway across the city than halfway across the world." Elliot slipping past her to skim a plate from what she's prepared is allowed, meanwhile Devon will receive a look should he so much as sniff longingly in the direction of the pans.

The (new) old kids get a pass it'd seem.

Asi cants her head to the side graciously to accept the compliment. "I'll look forward to not being the only fully-functioning adult around the Bastion," she remarks, lifting her coffee mug in cheers.

There's nothing so much as nearly amiss with Devon’s version of things. It's his story and he told it the way he told it.

He catches that side eye though, as well as Elliot serving up a plate from Asi’s cooking. Another time he might press his luck, but for now he just returns stare for stare. See if she gets any of the cookies his quasi-family tends to send him on occasion.

“Yeah,” Dev opines, tacking onto the technopath’s snark. “Asi’s still getting used to the idea that except for the commander, we’re all fairly immature in some way or another.”

"Don't remind me."

"Hello, you… " Huruma is sudden in her appearance at the entryway, as is her custom. Her pale eyes are resting on Elliot and Wright, stuck on them even while she makes her way inside. "…two." Her clothes are all clean lines and professional cut; a black skirted suit and the blaze of a crimson blouse against dark skin. Fresh from some meeting or another, it appears.

Whatever has her so intent on new old faces has her looking over her shoulder while she gets a cup of coffee, brows furrowed in a look of suspicion, uniquely cat-like in her side-eye to them. "So you heard Epstein's pitch and decided to bite, hm?"

As Huruma enters the room, Wright speed chews a mouthful of food, holding up a finger as if to say, Hold on, I have something for this. Elliot opens his mouth to speak, but Wright sweeps the raised finger in front of his mouth as she swallows the food. “Huruma you look amazing, as usual. It’s wonderful to see you,” hitting the end of each sentence with a bit of up-talk in her bubbling, nervous excitement.

“It is good to see you, Huruma,” Elliot says, equally happy and a touch worried, gently nudging Wright’s hand away from his face. “We’ve missed your ability to sniff out our hijinks in the developmental stage. I promise that I have not been inside your office yet. And certainly not Avi’s,” hand on heart, sounding… sincere? “And yeah, Avi. He produced a document from the California job which could have,” Elliot pauses, “Personal ramifications for me. Cambridge. For us, really.”

With the additional company in the room, Asi is more than content to fall quiet and let the others do the talking. Huruma receives a hello in the form of a ripple in her otherwise still emotional pool, and she enjoys her breakfast while she can.

It's a short thing, after all, when the California job is mentioned. She glances up to Eliot, attempting to read into his words in a way she can't anymore— unable to determine in the space of a few blinks what specific information Avi had passed along to snare the two Hounds back into the pack.

So, she has to speak after all. "Which part specifically is personal to you? Praxis was up to… far more than anyone knew."

Elliot’s eyebrow hitches. Wright looks to him, quietly setting her fork on her plate. Elliot sighs. “By the late Ferrymen days I was an infiltrator. After a lot of work I got placed inside the Ark. May of eleven.”

Wright clenches her teeth. “I missed my extraction date,” he continues, “Got black-bagged. I’m hazy on a lot of the details, spent a lot of time on ACTS. I got,” he considers, “Activated there. It was bleak. Didn’t see daylight until November.”

“Praxis seems to have inherited the department I was run through.”

Dev sends a look to the doorway when Huruma speaks. He doesn't seem particularly surprised by the commander’s arrival, but he does angle a glance to Wright and Elliot. Even Asi gets a brief and silent regard again, but only when she begins asking more questions.

He turns, a full second later, and tops off his mug. If he's not getting food just now, he's going to fill up on half passable coffee. Besides

“I need to get back to my desk, I’ve got some training to complete.” Dev slurps from the rim of his mug to keep from sloshing and wasting anything as he starts to cross the cafeteria. He tosses a, “Welcome back,” to Elliot and Wright as he passes them.

In all likelihood, Huruma was privy to the contents of the pitch, though out of consideration she has left it set apart. The others don't need to know unless Elliot and Wright decide to tell them; her questioning was simply a test to see where they stood. The back and forth of the pair in question— it's much more quick than she remembers, too.

"Likewise." and a smooth smile is her answer to compliment and courtesy. It's been a while. Huruma takes in the colors of Asi and Devon, before he steps out; she busies herself with making the opposite of Dev's tar-shade coffee, ears pricked. The line of questioning that the old Hounds are subject to does get a discerning look to Asi, though the empath does nothing to stop it. Their story, not hers.

"You're familiar with the scope of things, Asi…" Huruma's deep voice stays there, tone deliberate. "Consider this to be just one more of the many transgressions Praxis has dropped in our laps. Fortunately, with this one—" The empath turns, a light-handed gesture towards the pair. "There is someone willing to help."

Personal, and all.

Regarding the Arcology, Asi can't relate. But having pieces of something personal picked up and used by Praxis— that's intimately familiar to her, though she keeps her reaction hidden by her mug. Mostly. Even so, the shift in the light in her eyes isn't impossible to miss.

It touches on something dark, another ripple in her emotions. But appreciation emerges next, silent and sure.

"A part of myself," she shares carefully, avoiding too much of the specifics. "Was shunted, separated, and found by Praxis. They were able to bring her back online, initially with the goal of giving her 'freedom', but…" Asi's mouth twists into a bitter smile as she sets her mug down. "What a lie that was. When we found her, she was serving as the brain for Praxis' operation. The brain at the center of an immense network of drones, the heart of Praxia, keeping the ziggurat running— and the hand that directed them all."

She drifts into thought for a moment. "The story didn't have an unhappy ending, at least," Asi feels fit to mention. "She didn't go down with Praxia." Her lack of enthusiasm, the sense that wasn't really a victory is something Huruma is more keenly aware of— seeds of improperly handled mourning unearthed by an accidental sweep.

Setting aside her chopsticks with a definitive snap of wood to countertop, Asi looks back up at the two. "Anyway— did you two come prepared for picture day?"

For all that she tries to forcefully inject levity into that, it comes from her nearly deadpan.

Ripples of overlapping memories of conflicting grief and guilt smooth out as Wright grips Elliot’s hand beneath the table. “I’m sorry,” Elliot says raggedly as he exhales and returns to the moment. Calm. Acceptance and release. “I am always ready for picture day.” he smiles slyly, “Do we have to do a full class photo too? I always have to stand in the back because of the tallness and I feel like you miss a lot of me that way.”

“I should have done a whole look!” Wright laments with a shake of her fist. “It’s not a real security badge photo unless everyone who sees it has heart palpitations. Hold on I may have something in here.” She digs through an inner jacket pocket, exposing for a brief moment an underarm holster. She removes a slim pouch and lays out a palette, spinning toward Elliot who watches bemusedly as she stares at him and begins applying cyan eyeshadow with a soft brush.

Huruma watches the pair across the table with all of her senses, concentrated more on the inside story. She snorts into her coffee just a little at Asi's mention of picture day.

"I'm sure we can get you an ID when you're ready. " A look skips to Asi, amused despite knowing she isn't all in it. Sometimes you just need to say what you can. "I asked if we should do a fundraising calendar a long time ago— was about 50/50."

'It is good to see you again. Though you'll have to… enlighten me on your…condition, sometime."

Asi looks between the two with a quirk of bemusement for Elliot's behavior, shaking her head in response to him. Wright's follow-up changes the shift firmly toward amused, and she looks down at her coffee before downing the last of it. "No group photos," she relents with a touch of mirth. "It's just onboarding, not yearbook day."

Was she using Elliot as a mirror? Anyway.

With a look toward Huruma, she nods and leaves her plates where they lie. She'll come back soon enough.

"When you're done brushing up, meet me down the hall. I'll leave the door open for you."

“About that,” Elliot says, glancing to Asi, “I feel like I should preface this by saying that nothing is broken, I just wanted to kick the tires on this job a little before committing. I did not come in through the front door.” No humorous grimace, just laying his cards out. “Sorry about that.”

“I used the front door which you so kindly left open for us Asi,” Wright interjects, “I will speak with my friend here about manners while I finish making myself presentable. And thank you for the delicious food, which I am only now realizing that we were not explicitly offered,” she turns back to Elliot, “Oh my god I’m as bad as you.”

The last 'yearbook' type photo that Huruma remembers being taken was— some time ago, not counting things like press, or events, or hell, the medal ceremony. But she only knows of one in any sort of frame. It makes her pause, only for a few breaths while Asi explains the deal. Coffee still in hand, Huruma waits out the exchange between the trio, and then Elliot and Wright with each other. It's all very— mundane. Sometimes it is the mundane which Huruma can most appreciate.

"If you have any questions," Huruma lifts a brow towards her old comrades. "Now would be the time to keep kicking tires. I've work to finish upstairs, and you are welcome to sit-in and chat while I do."

Asi stops in the doorway when Elliot makes his comment back to her, holding in place. When he gets to explaining, she slowly turns back over her shoulder, brows arching high at him. He did what? God, she was going to have to go make sure whatever he did didn't damage the systems. "If you break it, you bought it," she warns him first, sternly.

Then she lets out a relenting sigh.

"まったく. You really will fit right in around here, won't you."

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