The Snake In The Garden



Scene Title The Snake in the Garden
Synopsis {taste the apple}
Date January 9, 2019

The Yamagato Fellowship Building is the only museum in the perimeter of the New York City Safe Zone that isn't somehow dedicated to the events of the civil war or the people who died in it. When it isn't the focus of a gala or press event for Yamagato Industries, the white-walled and elegant structure sees a small number of visitors from outside the park. Primarily, it serves as a showcase for historic Japanese cultural pieces owned by Yamagato. But it is, always, open to the public.

At the center of the Fellowship Building’s historic Japanese displays is a section on Shakushain’s Revolt, a historic rebellion of the indigenous Ainu people against the advancement of imperial Japan. Among the figures renowned for their participation in this period of conflict is a swordsman known as Takezo Kensei, a man better known to some as Adam Monroe. The armor he wore centuries ago sits on a rack behind glass, along with his helmet and — up until recently — the Kensei sword. Now, missing.

An informational card sits inside the display case, detailing the significance of the armor.

First worn by Takezo Kensei during the battle of Shibuchari River Basin in 1665. It is believed to have been last worn by Kensei at the battle of the Hidden Fortress in 1671 whereby Kensei defeated the Tokugawa-allied Ainu traitor Umakashte, or “Whitebeard” as he was more commonly known. The armor was found in a cave on the isle of Hokkaido in 1982 along with other historic Ainu relics.

Reflected in the glass of that display case, Kaylee Sumter stares into the recesses of history, looking at both a name and — after her trip to Kansas — a date that holds such boundless significance. She hadn't come here looking for a connection, and it's possible she hadn't found one. But to find the year 1671 tied to a man so woven into her own history… felt less like coincidence.

And more like fate.

“Fate,” Kaylee whispers quietly, followed by a soft huff of amusement. Because of her father’s meddling it felt like a foreign concept. But, with all the visions and now this date of 1671 having fallen into her path again, the word seems… appropriate. Was there a predestined path she was destined for, one her father had manipulated her away from?

Then again, she just might be crazy.

To everyone around her, Kaylee’s appearance is haggard and pale; eyes darkened with stress and a lack of sleep. In fact, she looks nothing like the business woman she is. She doesn’t really care, her thoughts focused on the mysteries that had been presented to her lately. Brows pinch together and lips pressed tight against not just the growing wave of nausea and the pain that slowly twists at her insides, but also at the empty space where the sword had been. Just standing there, thinking about the sword, about him, about the past; It was killing Kaylee. Still she couldn’t stop it.

Cursed in an attempt to save her and told countless stories; Kaylee still didn’t hate him. She had seen a different side of Adam that few had seen. Which is why standing there looking at his armor, a hand pressed to her upset stomach, she felt something she hadn’t in some time…

Kaylee… missed him a little.

Joseph had saved her from a dark path, but Adam pulled her from a far darker path. His wasn’t the most wholesome, but better then the monster she had started to become.

Kaylee sighs heavily through her nose, before breathing in cooler air between clenched teeth in attempt to calm her stomach. “Damn trigger,” she hisses out under her breath, when the action only causes another painful twist of the invisible knife. The telepath closes her eyes to hide her view, but the memories, faded and dull with time, continue to plague her, driven by the dark whispers in the back of her mind. It missed him more.

Kaylee Sumter.” The sudden presence of a voice, but not a mind, causes Kaylee to jolt around.


A woman stands behind her, not far from the display case of an ancient scroll. Dark, bronzy skin, black hair wound up in a knotted plait at the back of her head, a black suit with red pinstriping, gold jewelry. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you…” Taking a few slinking steps from the display case at her side, the woman offers out a ring-laden hand and arches one thin brow.

“Kam Nisatta,” she introduces smoothly. “Interim President of Yamagato Industries for the United States. Primarily, caretaker of this place.” Dark eyes search Kaylee’s, silent and expectant.

Startling a telepath is no ease feat, so it takes a moment for Kaylee to recover herself… blankly staring at the other woman for a moment. How? The world around the telepath is silent, except for a few guards. Last time she had seen Kam had been the gala, but never ended up meeting. There had been to many minds around her that is was no wonder she had never noticed.

It left her uneasy.

Kaylee straightens, hand falling away from her stomach, as she realizes that she shouldn’t appear weak before this woman. Or more like the darkness whispers a warning to her in the back of her mind, prompting her to react. Despite the twinge of nausea, a smile slowly forms on her lips. Only a hint of the strain she is feeling is betrayed by the paleness of her face. Blue eyes meet darker ones without any hesitation. “Ms Nisatta,” Kaylee offers pleasantly, “What a pleasure it is to finally meet. I wish it could have been sooner. You’re company has done so much for mine and the Ray family is eternally grateful for that.”

Looking down at herself, Kaylee knows that she is dressed only in her more casual clothing, including an old worn brown leather jacket she has had for absolutely years. “You’ll have to excuse my appearance. You seem to have caught me on a day off.” Twisting a little, to motion to the case behind her, the telepath adds, “But, I just couldn’t resist coming to see it again.” Looking at the armor, she tries to blank her mind, but her stomach still gives that familiar twist. “I have always enjoyed history and the story of Takezo Kensei particularly.”

“You aren’t alone,” Kam admits, though to which point isn’t clear due to how belated her response is. Her dark eyes dip down to the floor for a moment, then flick back up to Kaylee. “Yamagato Industries is interested in the resurrection of America, and Raytech’s goals align with that. Your company has done just as much to rebuild this nation, just in less flashy ways.”

Kam approaches the display of Kensei’s armor, looking at the red and black lacquered wooden plates, the ferocious dragon-like mask that would’ve covered his mouth, then over to Kaylee again. “You don’t seem to be enjoying it,” she says in hushed confidence, one dark brow raised slowly. “Do you need some air?”

Kaylee’s head shakes a little, a small smile on her face, turning to fully to face the case again, “It’s not that I don’t enjoy it. He… was a fascinating man,” saying that statement is a little strained, but truthful. “It’s… just complicated? I guess is the best way to explain it.” Which sounds weird, but how does she explain being are under a sort of curse, just the thought of saying it is odd for her.

Focus shifts from the armor to the reflection of the other woman, studying her for a long moment. Deciding to take a leap of fate, Kaylee decides to confide in the woman a little. “Do you believe in fate, Ms. Nisatta?”

Her gaze moves to where the sword once sat, but clearly lost in thought. “With precogs and probability manipulators more prominent in the world, if feels more like we are at the mercy of them. And just when you think that something was fated or destined, you find out that it might not be.” She trails off, looking up at the mask, her expression turning a touch wistful.. Only to turn into a barely contained grimace. “I believe in fate; but sometimes, it feels like such a foreign concept and when my own father was a probability manipulator.” A sigh escapes her. “It’s hard to know what is fate… and what has been manipulated.”

“There is no fate,” is Kam’s resolute answer, disregarding the remainder of Kaylee’s conversation. She circles the tall glass case holding Kensei’s armor, coming up to sidle up on Kaylee’s other side. “There are only the machinations of people who have a long enough reach and perspective to push you where you needed to be.” Then, she takes a step away from Kaylee, walking a few paces before turning around, keeping that ancient scroll in its case at her back.

“That isn’t to say there isn’t free will,” Kam suggests with an include of her head to the side, brows furrowed. “But,” her dark eyes flick back up to Kaylee, “not everyone has the same strength of will.” There is a sinking feeling in the pit of Kaylee’s stomach as something slithers out from behind Kam, up over her shoulder climbs an ink black snake of gut-wrenching familiar countenance. It coils down one of Kam’s arms as she raises it, and rests its head in the palm of her hand.

“Welcome home, child.” Kam murmurs in a sibilant tone, her dark eyes partway lidded by red-painted lids.

When the other woman starts moving, Kaylee’s eyes snaps from the mask to follow her. Hands half tuck into jean pockets, trying to seem relaxed even though she was far from it. Though she herself doesn’t move to follow those movements, only those eyes… shifting to look at Kam’s reflection when she needs too. There is a wariness, but also a curiosity as she listens. Kam was making sense, but only because her own life was so manipulated by Edward Ray.

Or was it?

Kaylee turns when Kam steps away, not really feeling comfortable enough to keep her back to the woman. It makes sense why, when she catches that first flash of glittering scales and the familiarity hits her… Her stomach gives a painful twist, remembering Joseph’s vision and the snake wound around Adam’s arm. Eyes widen and breath catches. Instinct has a hand going to her throat where she would normally find the same glittering scales wraps around her neck, but finds it empty.

What was going on?

It wasn’t registering what she was seeing and she feels a tremble start as her back tenses. “I-I,” she tries to speak, but she finds herself staring at the snake. “H-home?” Kaylee whispers in confusion, looking back at that dark hooded gaze, brows furrowing. “I… I don’t understand.” There is a step taken back; but, of course the case at her back prevents her from going any further.

“You still don’t get it, do you?” Kam takes a slow step forward, eyes shifting from brown to gold, brows furrowing and lips pursed. “There is no fate,” As Kam’s eyes change, so too do the serpent’s, shifting to spheres of glowing gold, like hot metal pulled from a raging fire, “just manipulation.”

The acting President of Yamagato Industries comes to stop within arm’s reach of Kaylee, gold eyes shimmering softly. “A long time ago, I was burdened with power and purpose. A long time ago, someone stole that from me, and left me a shell. But one day… I saw an eclipse, and my blood sang to me a story with words I did not even know existed.” Eyes halfway lidded, Kam tilts her chin up and regards Kaylee through the fringe of dark lashes. “I remembered what I was host to, what purpose I served, and my every waking moment has been to get back what was taken from me.”

The air around Kam vibrates with a sonorous hum, a low, bass-filled tremor. “Where do you think your father’s power came from?” Kam asks in a hushed exhalation. “Whose voice do you think whispered in the back of your mind, pushing you. Guiding you.

Those gold eyes narrow, and Kam lifts the serpent up to Kaylee’s face. “I am the serpent in the garden,” she says with honeyed tone, “and I will see the face of God again.”

Her head thumps softly against the case as she tries to get away from the snake. The moment that become aware of it, wound around the necks of her and her husband… Seeing it out in the world…. wrapped around Kam’s arm… There was something frightening about that. “All these years I thought I was going crazy… thought I—” Kaylee lets out a slow shaky breath as her world again in her life seems to upend itself. “Why?

Then almost as if something click, something connects the dots. “The face of- “ Kaylee’s blinks and her focus goes from the snake to the woman. “So everything that Edward had my brother doing? That was you?” She doesn’t flinch away from those golden eyes, even if she can’t read the woman’s mind, she can guess. “To eventually, build the Looking Glass? That is one heck of a long game.” But Kaylee knows she had the time if everything she’s seen has anything to say about.

“But… Why me? You had Richard, he has always blindly followed my father,” Kaylee’s head shakes slowly, a nervous look flicked down to the snake again. A part of her wants to reach for it, it’s been apart of her for so very long. It felt a little like losing a part of herself. A part of her knew she should be running, but curiosity is why she was still here… and why she asks, “Why did I need guiding?”

“Not everything. Not all things. It wasn't me, so to speak.” Kam dithers, her eyes narrowing. “You wouldn't understand, can't understand. Because you, like I, can't see far enough. We don't have the perspective that a higher power does. We exist here, in the moment, in this second and the second that follow.”

They exist outside of time, outside of space. What is time, to them?” Kam raises one brow, spreading her hands and carrying the snake with one. “Not a line, surely. More… a web.” Looking to the armor of Adam Monroe’s past life, Kam looks momentarily wistful, then settles back on Kaylee.

“Everyone is connected. Every choice impacts someone else. To come here, to stay there, who you love, who you leave behind. It creates a maze of forking paths representing our choices in life. Those inside the maze can only navigate the passages they can see. But from above…” Kam smiles softly, widely, “the maze becomes a pattern of lines.”

Kam steps one pace closer, now near enough for Kaylee to feel the woman’s body heat and smell the subtle scent of her perfume. “I was given a gift, Kaylee. We all were. And we…” She begins to reach out toward Kaylee’s brow with her unburdened hand, “are— ”

There's a look in Kam’s eyes, a momentary glimpse of uncertainty, or opaque confusion. The snake turns to her, and then flickers away like an illusion made of smoke and nightmares. Kam’s gold eyes flicker, turn brown, and there is a look in them not of confidence and strength but of fragility and uncertainty.

“Kaylee— ” Kam whispers hoarsely, “run!

“A web…” Kaylee whispers in response, remembering the intricate web in her father’s head… or even the one behind a secret door at Raytech. It explained so much, but also destroys everything she ever knew. How much of her life was manipulated by the snake— this woman? She felt her body go cold from the realization that her life might not have been completely of her own making.

There is no real chance to ponder that, to turn it over in her head, because Kam was moving closer. Her body tenses, trembles with the tension and her own uncertainty; and, unable to press herself any further away.

But then something changes… The uncertainty in this mysterious woman is jarring. Kaylee blinks and startles a little as the snake flickers away. Blue eyes go a little wider as her gaze moves to stare at that spot where it had been, confused as to what was happening.

But soon, Kam’s words sink in through the shock and the horror of this moment. There is no questioning, no voiced doubt, and no being stalled by curiosity. Something in that one word, ’run’, finally triggers the response the telepath should have had when the woman’s eyes turned gold. Jerking to the side, along the case, and without another look back…

Kaylee runs.

The hallways of the Yamagato Fellowship, dark as they are, serve as winding corridors composed of glass containing glowering statues of Jomon-era figures, old tapestries and scrolls, suits of armor and weapons. One scroll depicts a red, serpentine dragon coiling around a mountaintop and a samurai in red and black driving his sword through his own chest. The image strikes Kaylee, sticks with her.

As she rounds the corner toward the doors, Kam is waiting for her. The black serpent stays there, motionless, waiting like a stalking viper with its eyes focused on her. Kam, too, levels dark eyes on Kaylee. “Exactly how fast do you need to run…” Kam says in a silken, hauntingly familiar tone, “…before you can outrun yourself?”

Startled by the sudden appearance of Kam, there is a sharp gasp from the telepath. It brings her to a stumbling and sudden stop on the slick, highly-polished floor. However, her shoe treads fail to catch and the telepath ends up on the floor. Momentarily stunned, she barely registers the sharp pain of her knee hitting the floor before she ended up on her backside. Fear drives her to ignore it and scramble away from the other snake laden woman. Blue eyes never leave the sight of her. “Get away from me,” she hisses out in a mixture of panic and anger, voice quavery. It doesn’t register that it might not even be real.

Kaylee is truly scared.

Her heart beats like a wild animal against her breast bone. It is amazing that the thumping wasn’t echoing through the corridor. What Kaylee was feeling is a terror she hasn’t felt in a long time. The situation bringing back the horror of being stalked in a cold drafty castle by a faceless man and being stabbed repeatedly. That same terror is driven by the fact she is feeling helpless. The space where Kam was standing is just a void; nothing for her ability to latch onto.

Once her feet are under her, Kaylee turns and tries to run in another direction; frantically searching for a door out. She didn’t want whatever was in control of Kam to touch her. It felt like a bad idea.

Staring Kaylee down, Kam’s voice is heard at the telepath’s back. “You know you can’t run!” But she tries anyway, scrambling back through the museum displays, past glass cases containing diorama of her mother’s apartment in Cambridge, past a mannequin dressed in a sweater vest and khaki pants with a pair of wire-framed glasses perched on its nose, holding a ball of red thread in one hand, past a painting of Hokuto Ichihara in her yellow-eyed dreaming state, holding a black serpent in porcelain pale hands.

EXIT the red sign above an approach door reads, and as Kaylee charges toward it, unable to question the nature of her reality while so close to it, she pushes through the door by slamming her body against it. The door flings open, spilling out to blinding white light and—

Sumter Residence

2:23 am

Kaylee’s eyes snap open, sweat clinging to her brow, blankets tangled around her legs and shoulders. She can feel the warmth of Joseph behind her, his arm around her midsection. The bedroom is dark, the sky beyond the bedroom windows lit by the shimmering curtain of an aurora, and her own muted reflection in the bedroom windows dark and indistinct…

…save for her rapidly dimming gold eyes.

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