The Walled Garden, Part I


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Scene Title The Walled Garden, Part I
Synopsis Chess, Luther, and Monica travel to Japan in search of answers regarding Adam and the Entity.
Date June 5, 2019 (Local Time)

A drop of blood glistens in fluorescent light.


That bead of blood sits on a small chrome square built into the end of a matte gray handheld device with a small touch screen display near the back of the pistol grip.


The security officer checking the panel notes the screen turn blue. He says something to the officer next to him, points to a few technical items displayed in a mixture of kanji and hiragana, then looks up to the woman standing across from him.

«Code Blue.»

The device chirps in synthesized English. The other security officer slides the chipped end of a plastic ID card into a separate console mounted to the floor with a plastic pedestal. A photograph of the same woman pops up on screen, along with a litany of private information scrolling down the screen. One subsection is highlighted in yellow, displayed in both English and Japanese:

Francesca Liling Lang
Kinetic Manipulation
Class 2

The device spits the passport card out, followed by a printed ticket with a red foil stamp. It’s slotted into a small folio with the card and handed back to the woman across the checkpoint. The armed security guard smiles as much as is required by his training and says confidently:

Nihon e yōkoso.

Welcome to Japan.


(Narita International Airport)


Narita, Chiba


June 5th

8:11am local time

The sterile and glossy white environs of the Narita International Airport contrasts with the vibrant neon colors of vendor kiosks lining the concourse surrounding baggage claim. Several hundred people stand around the chromed carousels awaiting deployment of the baggage from the international flights that just arrived. Among the crowds gathered around the carousels, Monica Dawson and Luther Bellamy wait patiently.

As Chess comes walking down the concourse from the customs and immigration checkpoint, she is greeted not only by the baggage claim area but the stunning view from the massive twenty foot high and two hundred foot long curving wall of glass overlooking the Japanese countryside. Her first view of Japan isn’t what most Americans expect. Narita International Airport sits amid low rolling hills of vibrant green dappled with the darker shades of pine forests that ramble across the hilly countryside. All that green is interspersed with patches of concrete gray, where highways, roads, and towns cluster together. Tokyo is more than thirty miles to the west, sight unseen in this vista.

For someone who has never known the world outside of war-torn America, it feels like landing in not only another world… but another time.

One hand clutches the passport, the other rests lightly on the strap of her carry-on — her ever-present courier bag that’s been cleaned out of her usual arsenal of hubcaps, metal pipes, and ball bearings. That’s not to say she doesn’t have a few items that would be useful for turning into explosives, if the need arrives — but these are less likely to draw a questioning eye from customs. After all, anything’s a weapon in Chess’ hands.

Her dark gaze alights on the vista outside the window, and for a moment, the veneer of cynicism she wears like makeup fades from her face. Her lips part and she takes a breath, before she turns to look for Monica and Luther, turning that way to join them.

“Worried for a sec with the whole blood thing,” she says under her breath, thumb rubbing against the pinpricked finger.

Monica looks out over the view, too, rather than at the baggage. It would be more useful to watch for their luggage, but she knows better than to expect theirs to magically be the first off the plane. She's seen this view before, traveling for her former job, but somehow it's different this time.

She turns when Chess joins them, giving her a sympathetic smile for the blood drawing. "That definitely could have changed the tone of our whole trip," she says, half-teasing. "But we got here. Time for sightseeing and jet lag."

Sightseeing wasn't officially part of the plan, but it seems Monica wants to fit it in anyway. Plus, she has a small boy she needs to bring a present home for.

Suffice it to say, Luther has never in his five decades of living sat in an airplane seat as long as the flight to Narita airport had taken. He’d gamely hung on, not once having used the little courtesy bags. But the moment they’d touched down back to solid land, the man finally had a reason to stand tall again, and regained some of the right color to his features, not the green that nearly matched the stunning landscape seen outside the airport windows.

“Nothing to worry about,” he reassures Chess, attentions not on the beautiful vistas but on the baggage carousel and tops of heads of people. So, so many people. There’s absolutely plenty to worry about, but Luther stays as still as he can as if doing so might not draw the attentions of the crowd and give them the chance to focus on baggage retrieval.

A chance glance over to one of the digital clocks displaying the time serves as a grounding point. “Isn’t quite like Yamagato Park, is it,” notes the man. “What’re we doing about food?”

Luther’s words earn a snort from Chess. Leave it to Luther to worry about food immediately. “Don’t know about you but I’m eating nothing but sushi for days,” she says with a small grin. There is time to worry enough about the reasons they are here and the dangers they are inviting into their lives by being here.

She spies a familiar duffel bag on the conveyor belt — army drab but with a hot pink ribbon on one of the straps to help identify it as her own. Not that she’d needed to —most of the other luggage is shinier, newer, made of synthetic materials or metals, rather than the heavy cotton canvas bag she’d used throughout the war. At least any blood stains have faded enough in the sun and wash that they aren’t recognizable — even if she knows they are there.

She strides forward to grab it and throw it over her shoulder, a murmured “excuse me” to those she has to duck between and around to get to it, then watches for Monica’s and Luther’s.

"Well, whatever we eat, it isn't gonna be at the airport," Monica says as she gives Luther a pat on the shoulder on her way to the carousel. Her suitcase isn't visible yet, so she takes a moment to send off a text to Asi.

We're at baggage claim. Everyone's hungry so I hope you have food recommendations ~

Everyone, not just Luther. Because she's a good friend.

People seem to give Monica space when she moves to grab her luggage, whether out of awkwardness or thoughtfulness, she's not sure. But she'll take it. Hers has wheels, so she drags it along behind her when she joins the others. "I'm sure we can arrange sushi," she says with a nod to Chess, "the problem might be in narrowing down which place to go." Not a problem for any type of meal back in the Safe Zone at the moment.

There's a strange vibrating roar that passes over the airport, like an aircraft with an unusual Doppler effect. Out the enormous windows overlooking the horizon from baggage claim, the craft comes into view headed west. It looks like a gunship of some kind, matte black and accented with blue, a pair of ducted rotors on the side and a single one on the rear, some sort of pivoting turret on the underside. It banks to the north after a moment, revealing a tail designation that reads in block print, MUGAI-RYU - 066.

The aircraft moves out of sight after just a moment, but the sound it makes is distinctive enough to lodge itself in memory. The Mugai-Ryu, the organization Asi works for, have a long reach and a storied history within Japan. Their version of the doomed FRONTLINE initiative. Except here, history took a different course. The sight is a reminder of what lies beyond the picturesque forested hills and verdant splendor.

Luther gives a grunt at the shoulder pat, attention breaking away from peering at the bags. "The finger of miso on the plane wasn't half bad," rumbles the man. Cup for most, but seemingly a finger for him. He can't help it. "Sushi's good too," he muses while the ladies retrieve their luggage. Once he spots his suitcase - a grey hardside spinner, nothing fancy - he goes to retrieve as well.

He's lifting the case out of the carousel when the Mugai-Ryu plane rattles the air. A spike of alarm shoots up Luther's spine that causes him to straighten abruptly with grip tightened around his luggage handle. Tension cuts through him, freezing shoulders and kneecaps as the vibration conjures memories of those times of war. How many drones, how many gunships like the one flying over now, had he run away from or brought down with his fellow soldiers? Too many.

An awkward clearing of a throat nearby slings him back into the present where the normal sounds of the rolling baggage claim, airport kiosk callers and general people milling about return in an invisible wave. Luther looks down to see a woman trying to get around him to go after her suitcase. She bobs her head in silent excuse. "S-sorry," Luther notes and lurches back to his own. Once back at Monica and Chess' side, he forces himself to relax with a long exhale. "They didn't even notice," he says uncomfortably, looking around at the people going about their business.

The rattle and hum of the airship draws Chess’ eyes skyward before she notices Luther’s tension. She doesn’t say much, but when he’s back at her side, she simply tucks a hand into the crook of his arm, a silent reminder that she’s there and that they’re here, not back in Pennsylvania or Virginia or New York or any of the places they fought.

“Is that Asi’s ride? Some people heli-commute. Does she get that?” she asks lightly. She pulls out her own phone, waiting for it to power up. Despite being under Yamagato’s supervision protective services, Chess rarely keeps the thing on out of paranoia caution. And when she does text, at least her two sisters, it’s in the code the three of them devised.

At CVS. Want me to pick you up anything?

Which is to say, we’ve arrived, what’s your status?

Yelling across the airport is generally considered to be impolite, and Asi is putting on the impression of being a well-behaved public servant, so she navigates the crowd in the baggage claim without calling attention to herself. The well-worn black leather jacket with its dark, golden-bronze studs along its neckline does that enough for her, anyway. She's more than used to the glances and the sidling away, so she takes advantage of the relatively easy path it cuts her to well, wherever the hell she wants to go.

In this case it's directly to a familiar, well-missed medley of Americans.

By the time the aircraft is roaring past, she figures she's close enough, and she overhears the sound of her own name. She doesn't smile, but a tinge of warmth carries in her voice as she lifts it up so it travels the last few feet to them. "Only in emergencies. The rest of the week, I take the train like a good citizen." Coming up from behind Chess and Luther, she gives them both a curt nod.

To Luther, "I'd heard you'd been injured. Good to see you doing well." To Chess, unfortunately, nothing, because she's noticed what's missing from Monica.

You can hear about these things, but nothing compares with seeing it for yourself.

Her expression shifts from somewhat warm to one of intense consideration, either pain or sympathy flashing in her gaze before she musters the reaction back down. Somewhere between Chess and Monica, she states with a thin smile, "We should be sure to pick you up some souvenirs before you leave. But first, food? If I'm hearing right?"

With a tilt of her head, she gestures in a general away direction from the baggage claim. "There's vending machines on the train platform, may want to grab something to tide you over until we get into town." She finds herself sidling over to Monica, with a gesture indicating she'll drag the suitcase along. It'll let her feel helpful, anyway.

"Is your heart set on sushi, or can I spoil you?" Asi asks with teasing derision toward the thought of having a whole country of options and settling only for sushi.

Monica stands with Luther as the ship passes by, just hoping a peace of familiarity might help ground him. "That's just life for them," she says to his comment, "our war didn't reach this far."

She looks away when she catches sight of Asi and she smiles at the sight of her. It falters a little when she sees where Asi's attention catches. There's a moment where she seems like she might not give over her suitcase at the offer, but with a sigh she lets Asi take it. "It's good to see you. Thanks for coming to get us." At this point, she's partial to friendly faces.

She does seem to perk up at the mention of food, though.

"I'm saving all my appetite for Tokyo," she says, dropping an arm over Asi's shoulders. "I'm gonna have some of everything while we're here. Especially the okonomiyaki, I've been thinking about it for hours."

Chess’ phone finally chirps.

uh but seriously maybe like
Somebody’s pukey

The chime draws Chess’ eyes and she snorts at the screen. “The others are here. Kimberly’s not faring so well with the portkey, I guess. We need to bring her some Pepto or something,” she says.

Miles being referred to as the portkey might make it easier on Chess, or maybe she doesn’t want to be seen as a hypocrite by Luther, who’s not allowed to talk about Miles unless given permission.

“You can definitely spoil us,” she tells Asi with a smile. She likes their tour guide, even if the last time she saw her wasn’t under the best circumstances.

Got it. Talk to you soon.

Fingers fly over the screen to fire off the quick text, then the phone is pocketed to follow Asi out of the airport. “I can wait,” she adds, regarding food, with a nod to Monica. She glances at Luther, unsure of how long the big man can wait.

Almost comically, Luther is easily lead by the slimmer hand of Chess back to the present reality. He nods his head in grateful thanks, mustering half a lopsided smile to his traveling companions to show he's alright. He's here.

He turns a look over his shoulder at Asi's rear approach, a slow blink following another short nod. The note about souvenirs turns his neutral expression towards the wry. But he focuses on what he's best known for, first. "Maybe they have a buffet with all the options?" Food motivated Luther is normal Luther.

But given the ladies are willing to wait, he follows with a short shrug and eased out smile. “I’m followin’ your leads, ladies.” A quick glance to Chess’ hand with her cellphone, and now he has more reason to feel better. Everybody who needs to make it has made it, even if a couple of them (himself and Kimberly) are a little worse for wear. “Think we got everything now, so. Let’s get to a place we can talk.”

Looking over her shoulder as well as she can given having to consider both the rolling case and Monica walking by her side, Asi arches a brow in silence. Others? She turns away from Chess to direct the question in silence at Monica in particular.


"まったく…" she mutters, and while it might not be clearly understood by any of her guests, some things are rather universal. In this case, it's the weary and simultaneous exasperation and acceptance of whatever else is happening that wasn't brought up along formal lines of communication.

"I should have known," Asi laments with a twinge of amusement, patting Monica on the back as they walk.

Rulebreakers, the lot of them.


National Public Safety Commission

Tokyo Restricted Zone

Tokyo, Japan


As Operations Director Banri Komura steps into his office, his verbal command causes the wall of windows behind his desk to darken and dim the bright morning light that spilled through. It looks like dusk outside now, and Komura’s office is lit primarily by the azure glow of his large fish tank. Moving to his desk, Komura pulls his mobile phone out of his pocket and taps a speaker icon, then sets it down on the corner of his desk as he continues the path to his chair. “«Go on,»” he says to the party on the other end of the line.

«We had a facial recognition match come through Narita International,» the woman on the other end of the phone says. «Monica Dawson, material asset for Yamagato Industries. We’ve been informed she’s been released from her contract with them. Which means— »

“«Former wetworks operative entering Japan,»” Komura finishes the thought, nodding as he settles down into his chair. “«Continue.»”

«The only other red flag was a possible false identification,» the woman on the other end says. «We processed an ID for a Francesca Lang, 26, American, Registered Evolved Kinetic. But we already have her on file.» That has Komura raising a brow, reaching down to pick up a cigar from a small box on his desk.

“«How did immigration not catch that?»” Komura asks, retrieving a cigar trimmer from the same box and clipping the end, then fetching his lighter from his jacket pocket.

«It has to be a matter of delay cross-referencing photographic files from where she registered in Yamagato Park.»

“«Who’s the person we have on file?»” Komura’s question hangs in the air with a moment of silence as he lights his cigar and takes his first, languid puff.

«Chen Lanhua,» the woman on the phone states. «She is here on a work visa from Shanghai. Praxis Heavy Industries security. Registered Evolved Kinetic.»

Komura nods slowly, taking a slow drag from his cigar and letting the smoke waft from his mouth in a gentle exhalation. He watches the way the smoke coils, twists, and turns. Then, looking to his phone on his desk asks, “«Why isn’t Ms. Lang in custody, then?»”

«That’s why I called,» the woman on the other end says in a quieter tone, and Komura raises his brow once more. «Someone came and picked her up at the airport…»

«It was Asi.»

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