To Best Serve


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Scene Title To Best Serve
Synopsis The Yamagato Fellowship prepares to extend a warm welcome to visiting representatives from Praxis Heavy Industries.
Date March 31, 2018

The top floor of the Yamagato Fellowship building is reserved for executive staff only. It is a sprawling, open space that is a study in value. The floor is a polished plane of jet black marble that mutedly reflects the spherical hanging lights suspended from the ceiling. The walls are inwardly angled translucent panes of photovoltaic nanomaterials that are both windows and solar collectors. The vaulted ceiling is eggshell in color and makes the office feel cavernous.

But for all it's bright light and airy modern design, it is not an empty space. Rectangular glass display cases contain historic pieces of Japanese art; painted scrolls, wood carvings, terracotta statues from the Jomon period. But there are also two century old suits of armor, mounted swords, wood-bound books written on papyrus, statuettes of mythological creatures and figures. It is a private gallery belonging to the curator of the Fellowship alone.

Yamagato Fellowship Center

Director Nisatta’s Office

At the back of the room from the elevator and stairs, is a desk that looks to have been sculpted from the floor. A single diagonal stem of marble supports the black slab top, layered with an inch thick sheet of glass, suspended within are computer displays and CCTV feeds like flies in amber. Beside the desk, a copper and brass telescope is a pop of color against the monochromatic field. Kam Nisatta is as well.

Dressed in a carnation red suit and crimson vest, she sits behind the desk like one of nature’s natural warning signs: bright colors mean poison. Her dark hair is swept back from her face in an immaculate coif, dark eyes focused on her desktop from her reclined position in a leather upholstered chair.

She looks up, to the sound of approaching footsteps echoing off of the marble. Bringing her chin to rest against her palm, Kam shifts to sit to one side, a single dark brow raised expectantly.

“Nisatta-san,” Kay greets as she draws near enough for her soft voice to carry. Something about this space always seems to make her feel like she’s disturbing the sanctity of it. “Konnichi wa.” Her accent plays hell with the shape of the sounds, but she’s been making an effort to learn more of the language at any rate.

Her suit is a shade of aubergine with a peek of coffee-colored lace above the V where her jacket overlaps. There’s no jewelry accents, and she wears enough makeup to achieve that look that men call natural. With her palms against the front of her thighs, she bends forward to bow briefly. Her blonde hair, worn down in loose waves, curtains her face for a moment. When she straightens up again, she smiles. “Red really is your color,” Kay compliments with genuine appreciation for Kam’s attire. “How can I best serve the Fellowship today?”

Kam’s expression is a languid one as she slides the back of her hand under her chin, tracing one manicured nail along her own jawline. There's a single dark brow raised at Kaydence, followed by a look at a screen displayed in the surface of her desk. With a swipe of her hand she turns the image around and then pulls it up out of the desk.

Kaydence has seen this trick before, she knows that there's some kind of phosphorescent photoreactive gas in the building, something about laser-scanned images and projected holograms, some long-winded explanation from Hachiro and Marlowe. It still looks like witchcraft.

The hovering image is a two-dimensional representation of a broad-faced and heavy Chinese man with a determined scowl and chalk white hair. “Wu Shengjiao,” Kam explains, leaning back in her chair and folding her hands. “He is the head of the genomics and genetic research division at Praxis Heavy Industries. A fledgling arm of their corporation, started in 2013.”

Kam’s eyes level on Kaydence. “Prior to joining Praxis, Mr. Wu served a different master.” Her eyes avert to the desk, then pluck at another image and flick up a picture of an old latino man with wavy gray hair and wire-rimmed glasses. “Kazimir Volken.” A man who, thanks to history’s turn, needs no introduction.

“Wu was the CEO of Huang Bio Research, a company founded in 2007 following the revelation of individuals who possess the…” Kam lingers in silence for a moment, “Suresh Linkage Complex. Huang Bio Research was little more than a eugenics farm sponsored by the Vanguard. They dissolved in 2010 after a joint Chinese-American military operation breached their secure facility. Wu leveraged political clout to avoid prosecution.”

Kam dismisses the image of Kazimir. “Wu sold his genomics research to Praxis Heavy Industries on exchange for his safety. Now he's the head of their genetic research division, and at least three of his agents are here in New York today under… false pretenses.”

Kam spreads her hands slowly. “How do you think you can best serve, Ms. Damaris?”

Kay has long since learned how to keep her expression mild as she watches images lift from screens to thin air. Even if it is incredible to witness. The science is well over her head, but all she needs to know is that it works.

Her expression, however, does not remain mild when the name Kazimir Volken is brought into play. She looks like she’s just sucked on a particularly sour lemon, and for a moment she remembers being made helpless, strapped in to a wheelchair and held captive in that awful, crumbling hospital. Absently, Kay’s thumb brushes over a scar on her left wrist.

The Public Relations Director hums thoughtfully. “Well,” she drawls with a sweetness that’s all artificial sweetener and no real honey, “it looks like I’m going to have to put together a welcome package for our friends at Praxis.” She folds her arms across her midsection and leans to one side slightly. It’s obvious she’s already thinking about how to handle this problem. “I assume we have dossiers. I can have the asset up to speed and ready to move tonight.”

“Jiba has already forwarded that information to your mobile,” Kam explains with a slow motion of one hand to close the screen floating in front of her. “There is a further, potentially inactionable wrinkle in this otherwise clean situation.” Kam inclined her head to the side, regarding Kay with a narrowed stare. “We have reason to believe Praxis may have successfully continued Wu’s eugenics program.”

Another screen is opened on her desk, and a short video loops on it. It depicts nine mixed-ethnicity children with dark hair in matching gray jumpsuits stenciled with numbers. They are roughly eight to ten years old. In the video the children one by one speak in Mandarin, then the video ends.

“That was taken in 2002 and smuggled out of China by an international operative of the Company.” Kam sees no need to explain how Yamagato came to possess it. “The children are explaining their ability. Clairvoyance, kinetic absorption, teleportation, clairaudience, molecular deconstruction, friction manipulation, flight, telekinesis, and pyrokinesis. We believe these children were a part of three parallel generations of eugenic soldiers bred and raised by Wu.”

Kam dismisses the video. “One pod of nine was smuggled out of China sometime around 1995, shortly after the children were born. We don't believe any survived long after this. A second group perished in an earthquake in 2001. The third group, from the video, we believe may still be alive.”

Leaning back in her seat, Kam folds her hands in her lap. “Our fear is that Praxis, with these children — now adult soldiers — could threaten our state-side operations. They were all born in 1993 from different surrogate mothers. Each part Chinese with mixed ethnicity.” Kam threads a lock of hair behind one ear. “The dossiers I sent you — none match that criteria. But I have a fear that perhaps they have an undocumented SLC-Expressive operator traveling with them.”

Kam’s dark eyes briefly flit to her desk and then back to Kay. “Something to keep an eye on with this assignment. I've been told the Praxis representatives should be given a New York Hello.

“My God.” Kaydence is stunned by the video and the explanation that goes with it, but it doesn’t last long. This is far from the strangest thing she’s ever seen or heard of in her career. It’s galling, and as a mother she finds it more upsetting than she otherwise may have, but she’s good at abstracting these things and impersonalizing when she needs to. She has to be.

At the instruction to give Praxis a New York Hello, a slow grin spreads across Kay’s face. “It would be my pleasure. I’ll make sure my operative is extra friendly.” The opposite side of the coin means she can find some measure of enjoyment in her work from time to time.

Kam’s response is a smooth nod, one hand dismissing all of the images that had been displayed from her desk with a wave as though she were a stage magician. “Have the Asset keep an eye out for additional spaces where supplementary occupants could stay. If any of these child soldiers are present in the US we need to keep a close eye on them.”

“Additionally,” Kam leans back and folds her hands in her lap, “if any of these experiments are encountered they are to be taken alive. We know precious little about the full extent of Praxis’ eugenics program and that shortcoming must be mitigated.” Kam’s dark eyes sweep the room, flitting over the historical relics scattered around it, and then square back on Kay.

“Questions?” Kam asks flatly, one dark brow raised.

“None, ma’am.” Kay has no shortage of confidence in her operative’s ability to uncover the information Kam wants. “I’ll brief the Asset myself. If the evidence is there, she’ll find it and bring it in.” Even if that evidence is another person.

The grin softens into a pleasant smile, like all of this is terribly normal business. — Well, for them, it is. “If there’s nothin’ else, I’ll get right to work.”

Silence is the only response for a long moment, and Chairman Nisatta considers the surface of her desk in that contemplation. Finally, after more thought than Kay anticipated, Kam merely shakes her head and flashes a practiced smile.

“You have your orders.”

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