asi3_icon.gif chess4_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Triforce
Synopsis Three wise, courageous, and powerful women reunite in the Safe Zone to toast to their triumphs and to looking forward.
Date June 21, 2020


The dark interior of this Williamsburg bar — with deep, leatherbound booths and rich wood with hints of brass — suits Chess’ purposes. It’s the sort of place and pricy that was upscale before the war and is now “reasonable” — the alcohol here isn’t the toppest of shelves, but the supply is diverse and abundant. Dimly lit with white Christmas lights and candles, it could be seen as romantic — or just a good place for someone who still doesn’t want to face the world at large.

The woman sits in the last of the booths with her back up against the wall — a position that, even with its connotations of being out of options, does allow her to keep an eye on the door. It also gives her a great view of the bar and the bartender, so she can signal for more drinks — and she sort of expects they’ll be drinking a lot.

She’s already ordered three glasses and a bottle of sake — those sit untouched yet, while she nurses a double whiskey. Neat.

Tonight, no work. Executive decision. Tonight is for better things. It's decreed.

Asi clings to that as though it we're a decision she was beholden to and not one she's imposing on herself, free from guilt as she steps in from the street, motorcycle helmet in hand. Looking across the bar and finding Chess brings her duty-driven posture to relax, smiling without so much as turning up the corners of her mouth. She turns halfway back for just a moment, eyes flickering a grey-blue hue to issue some final command before she invites herself forward.

The only way she'd be able to relax is if she were still looking over her shoulder, and thankfully, she's got drones that can help her with soothing those anxieties.

"Chess!" Asi finally enthuses when she's close enough she can do so without calling attention from more than just the target of her affection. "It's good to see you." Setting aside her helmet on the bench of the other side of the booth, she goes a step farther in saying hello, stepping around the table to issue a one-armed hug.

From the vantage point Chess's booth seating affords her of the front of the bar, and from the angle of Asi's hug, both women have a crystal-clear view of the door swinging open a third time to reveal a face they haven't seen for months.

Dr. Yi-Min Yeh. Slightly better known to Chess, maybe, as her cheekily-bestowed nickname of 'Dworkin.'

The ex-Praxis scientist looks much the same as the last time either of them had met her, but also profoundly different. It's in many little things at once rather than anything single or overt: the much more casual, free-flowing clothing she wears, replacing the cold austerity once embodied by her lab uniform. The old serenity of her expression is all there, but it also now seems somehow unbound by her liberation from that environment.

"Hope you do not mind if I intrude," they hear her proclaim as she approaches them, connotation as lively as her tone is mild. Her dark eyes are bright with life.

The morose expression Chess wears shifts to something brighter, happier when she sees Asi’s approach and she rises half out of her seat to hug the other woman. Her hugs (to the few who get them) are quite like Chess herself — a little fierce and rough, emotions easy to pick up even for those without special abilities to sense such things.

“Thank God you’re here. The bartender thinks I plan to drink this bottle all by myself, I think,” she quips to Asi — not that she hasn’t done so before, but usually she saves those occasions for her own apartment.

When Yi-Min opens the door, she smiles — she knows the other woman less well than she knows Asi, but now that they’re not on the left side of the continent surrounded by devoted Praxis employees, Yi-Min has been bumped up from “possible ally” to “friend” in Chess’ regard.

“Look at you, walking around like a free person and stuff,” the youngest of the trio says, before reaching to give Yi-Min a hug as well.

Asi lets go of the hug when she sees Yi-Min enter, her brow lifting in interest at the visual difference between them. As she'd been told herself recently, she thought Yi-Min looked freer in many senses of the word.

So she actually laughs when Chess says as much out loud, patting her on the arm.

"There's room for precisely one more," she reassures, pushing aside her helmet into the corner of the booth to make better room. She pulls off her leather jacket, revealing a chiffon blouse a slate-blue shade, lacking just enough opaqueness to it that the shape of a black tank can be seen underneath. Tossing the jacket on top of her helmet, she scoots in and gestures to the space either next to her, or next to Chess. "Coincidentally, the spot is yours."

Yi-Min spreads both her small hands wryly when addressed in this way, as though not only acknowledging, but briefly basking in just how free she is looking. "This isn't a bad look for you either, Oni," she notes with approval in her voice, plainly eyeing the Japanese woman's current choice of attire up and down.

Definitely not the look she would once have envisioned for a black-hat hacker.

The hug takes Yi-Min by surprise, and it shows at first, but she is swift to respond in kind. "You too, though," she whispers fiercely at the height of it, and Chess can tell that the sense of gladness imparted by those three tiny words is too heartfelt to be referring to prison alone.

But, then the moment is over— and she's sliding herself into the leatherbound booth next to Asi, who just so happens to be closest to where she had started. "It would appear I got here just in time," she quips herself, and definitely not while glancing directly at that large, inviting bottle of sake.

For her part, Chess hasn’t changed outwardly too much — though the leather jacket she wears is a new one that’s a little more polished, a little less weathered. Her hair is longer, some attention paid to it unlike the last time either of the other women had seen her. She slides back into her seat and reaches for the bottle to pour.

“Of all the questionable choices I made while in Japan,” she says wryly, “learning to love sake is the one I regret the least.”

Chess pours the rice wine into each of the glasses provided, then reaches for her whiskey to finish that off in a quick gulp before she reaches her glass of sake.

“Thank you, by the way. For what you guys did in California.” Her eyes study the clear fluid in her glass, brow furrowing slightly. She forces a smile and lifts her glass. “Fuck Praxis.”

"Fuck Praxis," Asi articulates in a pointed echo, downing the first of her sake like it's a shot for how emphatic she wants to deliver her agreement. It's warm and familiar in a way that just feels right at the moment, though she takes ownership of her enthusiasm by reaching for the neck of the bottle herself.

"I reserve sake usually for celebrations, myself, and what is this if not one?" she proposes, pouring herself another glass delicately. "We faced what seemed impossible, insurmountable, and came out stronger. Freer. Hopefully wiser, but I still think what we did took a certain amount of blind courage that can never be overlooked or let go of, either."

"But," she looks to Yi-Min, crossing one arm across her chest to hold a single finger to her lips, one eye closed in a wink. "All things said, it's Asi in public." Eyes opening again, she sets the bottle aside.

She looks back to Chess, noting how the topic still seems to be one prone to darker thoughts, and decides to opt for the presence. "I'm freelancing again now, just… more publicly than before. I've got contracts in each corner of the city, it feels like. I'm living full-time with Wolfhound, of all people." Her nose wrinkles for a moment at that, shrugging her shoulder. "Their leadership indicated they had an open position for a technopath, and offered to help navigate legal matters with the US on my behalf. I refused to step foot in any facility, or any courtroom." Asi shoots a sympathetic glance between both the other women, knowing their own experiences.

She'd lived overtrusting government to do right by people who helped them more than once before, though, and felt it was not worth that risk.

"So I've still been living with my bags packed because I wasn't sure things would work out… but, a green card arrived for me, so there's that." She lifts her glass again, taking only a sip from it this time.

"Fuck Praxis," Yi-Min echoes several degrees more flatly than the other two, analytically boring her gaze down the center of her glass as though she expects to see something truly terrible floating at the bottom before quaffing from her own drink.

So much of her life. Devoted to this one pursuit.

She does quirk a candid smile Asi’s way afterwards, folding her feet deftly beneath the table. "I am glad to hear that things have been falling into place for you. Wolfhound seem like decent people— at least, as much as such a group may ever be. And no, trust me— taking one step towards any type of courtroom was a first for me in my life, too. Ai, if only freelance science was a thing."

But alas. Without losing shape, her smile devolves into a somewhat drier smirk. The alternative for her, even in terms of career resources alone, was far less glamorous than it would have been for someone like Asi.

"Did you have any trouble with your particular 'legal matters?'" That's directed thoughtfully across from her, towards Chess.

The dry tone of Yi-Min’s “toast” earns her an apologetic look from Chess, given that the woman had been used for her expertise without knowing the cost — and that she’d risked everything to set it right so many years later.

She lifts a brow at Asi. “A finger in all the pies, eh?” she says lightly. “And I get the packed bag things. I haven’t unpacked a bag in nine years.”

It might sound like a joke.

It isn’t.

Her dark eyes return to Yi-Min for a moment, then drop as she shakes her head, those long golden locks falling forward to veil her face for a moment. “Once they sorted out I wasn’t Checkers,” a feeble attempt at levity, “it was pretty easy. I mean, I cooperated. I wasn’t trying to hide anything.”

Chess makes a small grimace at that. She feels guilty for her honesty, at times. “At least not much.” She looks back up. “You? I mean. Obviously you were holed up a lot longer than I was. I’m sort of still surprised things weren’t worse for me and I’m kinda waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

At the comment regarding a lack of freelance science opportunities in the world, Asi slides a look to the shorter woman beside her. "Well, Raytech shielded Odessa Price from the arm of the law in exchange for freelance science for several years, and also employed me under the table for longer than I've been employed semi-officially…" With a quirk of her mouth she admits, "But that advice comes months too late, I realize."

She looks back to Chess with a small, tight nod. "Can't be lashed down by any one organization if multiple owe you favors," the technopath reasons quietly, then returns her attention to Yi-Min. She's interested in her tale, too.

Yi-Min only quietly laughs away this advice from Asi, giving her head a few short shakes at the well-meant suggestion. "I should think that Raytech is under a great deal more scrutiny now, legal and otherwise, because of what they did for Odessa Price. I would not expect them to want to pull the same trick under the table right now, especially for someone so embroiled in all of the current political fallout from Praxis."

And yes, speaking of.

From the way she continues to sip from her sake, calm past the point of insouciance, it would seem like this is the one thing in the world she cares to focus on at all. But that slow, light cant of her gaze on Chess tells a different tale.

"Well, let me put it to you this way. I went in with the intent to be nothing less than cooperative, no? Expecting that I would be questioned heavily about Praxis. The Vanguard as well, perhaps. You know— any of these things about my life that would make sense. Except, this is not what I got. Not even a little bit."

Asi’s talk of favors draws a smirk from Chess and she leans back, lifting the glass for another sip. “I should probably learn how to do something useful besides blow shit up one of these days.” The words are said wryly, but there’s a hint of truth to them, of self-consciousness, as she speaks with these two women who are experts in their fields.

“Speaking of Raytech, I feel I should thank Richard Ray and his folks for not just shooting me on sight. And for saving the kid,” Chess adds, but it’s said like it’s something she’ll put off for a while if she can. “Do you send a fruit basket for that, or maybe cheese? One of those Edible Arrangements, maybe? I don’t suppose Hallmark has a line of cards for that occasion. Kinda, you know. Specific.”

Jokes made, she looks over to Yi-Min with a curious cant of her head. “What did they ask you about?”

Asi lets out a note of mild disagreement regarding Raytech's unwillingness to act under the table. She has her own situation she can hold up as a perfect example otherwise.

But she digresses. There's more interesting topics on the table.

"A handwritten note goes a long way, if you're determined," she suggests to Chess off-handedly, turning back to Yi-Min with an arched eyebrow.

There are also other things Yi-Min feels Chess probably shouldn't be so keen about thanking Raytech for, but this, too, is a digression.

"Oh, just all sorts of things about alternate dimensions. Uluru. Not the tourist destination in Australia, either." Sip. One of Yi-Min's own brows has arched finely at Chess, gauging if any of this might be eliciting a match in memories. She is still in no hurry, extremely frank implications of concern in her tone or not.

The rest of the sake in Chess’ glass is swallowed down, and the youngest of the three women reaches for the bottle to splash in some reinforcements, then does the same for the others — whether they’re empty or not.

“Nothing about alternate dimensions, thankfully, because I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to know about those so much, or people from them, for that matter,” she says with a smile, thinking of Miles and the NDA that Lynette mentioned when she had met the alternate version of the man she had known years before.

She sets the bottle back down and looks back up. “Uluru, yes, but that was…” Chess shrugs. “Relevant.” Too relevant. She had been face to face with the Entity — or face to face with Eve. Her brows draw together as the echoes of that day’s pain and loss surge up — dampened by time and knowledge that Eve somehow survived. She takes another swallow of the sake and sets the glass back down, wrapping her hands around it.

“I don’t think it’s gone,” she says quietly. Everything was for nothing.

The hair on the back of Asi's neck begins to raise, involuntarily, to hear that of all things that happened, Yi-Min was drilled over the Entity and alternate realities. She looks off at nothing in particular, not reaching for her ability just yet, but working on forming what query, what notes it is she means to take here.

"The Entity wasn't even involved in the work we did out in California," she notes, even-keeled yet distant. "So for them to ask you…"

Something didn't sit right about that. "Was it in regard to projects you worked on for Praxis? Did they mention any in particular in their line of questioning?" Asi looks back to Yi-Min with a small frown, reaching for her cup to sip from it again thoughtfully.

Chess's comment draws her visual attention away, the hardness at the corners of her eyes softening. "I don't think so either," Asi agrees, wishing otherwise. "The question remains who the new host is, in that case."

Yi-Min only pauses to slide a look of deep thanks towards Chess for refilling her rapidly-emptying drink without even having to ask.

"It's certainly not gone," she affirms in more of a murmur, appreciating the renewed heaviness of her glass as she pulls it back towards her, but not lifting it up in hand quite yet. "At least, the man who interviewed me definitely did not give this impression. No, there was nothing particular. He just wanted to know everything that I knew. He was as secretive as possible, about everything. Including his own employers."

There is a moment of silence from Yi-Min, brow furrowing just a little further. "This is something I have concerns about. You are well aware that I never had to actually go to trial, Asi." Asi is just as aware of how shocking a development this had turned out to be, following their long weeks of collaboration. Of expectation. "Well, it would appear that this man was the sole reason why."

“Shit.” That’s the eloquent summary that Chess gives of the unanimous agreement the Entity isn’t gone. She knew it wasn’t, but still, there was always the thinnest thread of hope.

Her scowl deepens at Yi-Min’s elaboration on the man who had questioned her, and she tips her head curiously. “I talked to someone who wouldn’t tell me who he worked for, too. But he said he’d recommend that I was released. I’m not sure how much was his doing or how much was just… confusion with what exactly to charge me with and making it stick,” she says wryly.

Turning the glass slowly in her hands, like the worry stone or baseball she used to carry, Chess tips her head. “He looked afraid, talking about the Entity. That’s when I knew for sure it wasn’t gone.” Her eyes find Yi-Min’s again. “My guy’s name was Harris.”

Asi's eyes flicker a grey-blue hue as she takes down that detail. It's not a name that rings any bells. And this mysterious agency— surely it wasn't DHS. Homeland Security had been the ones holding her, so it would be bizarre to obfuscate that. SESA surely did not hold that power, and the agency— for all the secretive things it got up to— didn't seem the type to not at least self-identify. PISEC was a known facility of theirs even when the prisoners there very well could have been remanded to any kind of black site to perform their work, given the dangerous secrets they were dealing with there.

So. CIA, then?

"This is just an outsider's viewpoint," she prefaces with a tilt of her hand, "But even if it was the CIA, would they have had the singular ability to throw your case out?" Her eyes narrow. "I would wonder why now in terms of their sudden interest in taking the Entity seriously, but Detroit speaks for itself. Some people need to see to believe, even if they'll cover up the truth of it until their last breath." She ends this in nearly a mutter, sounding a touch derisive in her armchair observations.

She pauses a beat only before she realizes a potential immediate issue. "How much did you tell him?" Asi asks too calm compared to her earlier tone. The shift in the nature of her assessment is palpable. Her eyes shift to Chess in particular across the table.

God, did they know about the Japan trip?

"Harris was the one who came for me, too." When Yi-Min's gaze links with Chess's, it's as still as the brief death of a breath of wind. Hearing Asi's perspective causes her expression to change thinly— the flickered curve of a smile, all mildness and little humor. "He made it rather clear that being tortured horribly in some CIA black site was an alternative to me giving him the information he wanted, right then and there. No. I think I have reason to believe this is something else entirely."

This is clearly the perfect break for another long, composed drink out of the glass she has been nursing, which she takes, because she deserves it.


"Because it gets more bizarre." After placing the glass back down before her finally, Yi-Min continues straight on as though she hadn't just thoroughly interrupted herself, deferring Asi’s last question with a tiny dismissive wave. "So this Harris person, yes? He came to me for questioning twice. The second time I really do not know how to describe what happened— save that there was some sort of reality manipulation or other form of trickery. Dream manipulation, perhaps. He took me to some place he referred to as his office."

'Took' might be a generous interpretation, but finding the right phrase seems nearly as slippery a thing as whatever had occurred.

Asi’s look is returned with a upward tic of Chess’ brow, but Chess stays quiet to listen to Yi-Min talk. Her frown returns at the mention of dream manipulation, trickery, and it’s clear for a moment she’s connecting dots — maybe wrongly — in her mind.

“Nothing like that for me. I did have a weird dream — a memory? Just before he got there. But I was sleeping. It might just be coincidence.” Is there such a thing?

Her gaze returns to Asi. “I didn’t talk about what we did in Yamagato or in Japan, but I told him what Adam told me… not in a lot of detail, but he didn’t ask for a lot of detail. About it knowing when it’s talked about, why that made me trust in his plan not to share the plan,” she says, shaking her head in anger at herself for her part in that.

She looks back to Yi-Min, with an apologetic smile. “I wasn’t trying to protect him when we met in Praxia. I wanted to tell you more,” she says, a little more softly. “By the way, that rum was stellar.

Which brings her gaze back to the sake in her glass. “I told him that it was who gave Adam his power so many years ago, but that the bargain came at too high a price. And that in Detroit, it tried to bargain with me, too.”

A tear slides down her cheek for what she could have had, had she said yes. And for what was lost at her refusal — at least some of that has been returned to her.

Chess looks back up. “So his office wasn’t really an office? We just went to a conference room. I must’ve gotten the cheap tour.”

So very little of any of this is reassuring, Asi must think to herself. She takes another long sip from her glass, leaving behind only dregs. When she tips the bottle to top herself off, it's moderately done, only so it doesn't look like she's done, even if her mind is wandering now.

"I feel like the logical conclusion here must be they learned about Praxis' investment in tools related to sensing movements related to the Entity, and wondering how much else…" But even then she trails off, not really certain.

Asi only frowns. "I mislike this all already," she pronounces for a lack of anything better to observe about the situation. "And I'm not even sure what their aims are. Is the US government intent on digging itself a hole in regards to the Entity, or does it mean to do something about it?"

Not your average bar chat, but at least they're in their own little corner instead of chatting about it seated along a counter.

But Yi-Min only banishes Chess's note of apology with a light, almost bright-sounding laugh. "Oh, no. I would hardly have expected you to spill your life secrets to a suspicious stranger that you met once. Don't worry about it. I am glad you trusted me enough not to pour out the rum, though."

Honestly, she should have taken that opportunity back in Praxia to acquire a lot more of that rum.

Oh, well. Hindsight.

Her levity subsides back into something gentler when she notices the tear that Chess sheds, even if she doesn't understand the full context behind it. "You probably did well not to trust whatever it offered you, but… all the same, I am sorry for whatever you suffered," she states quietly, gaze furrowed with the warmth of a sympathy she allows to linger on into her next words. Finally, at least, she can answer one of Asi’s questions. "As for me, I told him what I knew about the Entity that I thought might aid them in killing it, as he made it seem like they were highly keen on doing. Likewise, they asked me about the bioweapon I was working on for Monroe."

Something else is turning over in Yi-Min’s mind though, and she lays it out so simply and suddenly that it seems like a non-sequitur. It isn't, though. "I don't know what it was. There was a hallway, lined with paintings. When I walked past them, I saw scenes from my life. There were some intimate things that they could not have known about beforehand, at least without some manner of deeply invasive probing. I originally thought— well. That these had been put up in some twisted attempt to toy with me. Truly, this would all be much easier to deal with if I could have been left with the confidence that that was the case."

The flat doubt in her voice heavily suggests otherwise.

One thing she is certain of is that she needs more sake for this.

Chess raises a brow at the description of what it was Yi-Min saw in MF Harris’ ‘office.’ “Yeah, that’s a bit creepy,” she says. “I didn’t see anything like that. Just the dream, but… I think that was a memory from being a kid. A toddler, you know. Before I left China.”

She lifts her glass for another swallow of the clear liquid, then looks to Asi to answer her question with the not-really-an answer that Harris had given her. “He said they were in a ‘fact-finding phase.’” She huffs out that short laugh of hers, though the humor doesn’t make it to her eyes. “I actually offered to help if they were going after it. It’s like that thing they say?”

Reaching for the bottle she splashes another couple of ounces into her glass. “The definition of insanity is repeating the same things and expecting different results.”

Her gaze returns to Yi-Min. “What made you think that wasn’t the case?” she asks, curiously.

It's belatedly that Asi realizes from Yi-Min's tone that she's missed out on something, the blue in her eyes flickering back to their mundane hue. She sees then, properly, what's in front of her again instead of in chops.

The light in her eyes shifts when she looks back to Chess, tight-lipped and uncertain how to approach the topic. Or if she'd even want any further attention on the topic, the terrible choice she had to face. Her lips part to speak, but ultimately she bites back the comment, twisting her cup on the table.

It's different, now that Eve's returned to them— it's not as heavy as it once was. But it still didn't erase the yearning, and no one could say with certainty what would or would not have happened had she agreed to champion its cause.

So all she does is lift her glass in a tiny tip of acknowledgement for Chess' decision, the strength it took. Asi said more on the topic once, but she hardly remembers it. She was … exceedingly drunk that night.

"Something supernatural was happening there." is all she agrees finally, quietly. Her gaze shifts from Chess back to Yi-Min, letting it serve as a silent echo to the already-spoken question.

The next time Yi-Min sets her sake back on the table, it's with a much emptier-sounding climk. The disappearance of the unnatural blue from Asi's eyes draws her attention, and for a few moments she can't help but wonder what the woman sitting next to her might be thinking.

Doing so forms a pause in her dissection of her own thoughts, light and mildly inquiring, but the distraction doesn't last for long. "According to him, he saw something else," she responds with a slight, dubious dip of her chin. "As though it were different for each person who looked into the paintings. 雞掰洨—"

Those last three syllables definitely aren't Mandarin, and the sharpness of the otherwise near-silent expulsion definitely suggests a profanity.

By this point, Yi-Min's gaze has turned dark and dry. Her small fingertips trail about the divots circling the base of her glass. "Ai, but this is all useless. Without something more concrete to present, this may as well only be the ridiculous dream it sounds like. What did he say to you, when you made him this offer?" To Chess.

Reaching for the sake bottle, Chess pours more into the empty glass Yi-Min sets down. Her brows lift at the explanation, and the corner of her lip tics up at the uttered swear. She doesn’t know what it means, but the start is similar enough to things she might say in Mandarin.

“That makes me stupidly curious but I also know I would not want to see whatever my mind might create,” she says wryly. Her nightmares pull up enough imagery she’d rather never see again without the help of some magical office with memetic artwork, thank you very much.

She lifts a shoulder at Yi-Min’s question. “Not much. That was when he left, said they were fact finding and to make sure I was somewhere he could reach me if he had further questions.” She wrinkles her nose. “And not to leave the country for the foreseeable future. Wonder if he knows I have a teleporter in my pocket?”

Her gaze returns to Asi. “Can you find anything about this guy using your computer voodoo?”

Asi regards Chess in return out of the corner of her eye. "With the nameless government agency, and a single last name?" she counters with skepticism. Sarcasm is a thing she's started to weave into her everyday speech with all this time she's spent in Wolfhound's company, absorbing the worst of their mannerisms like a dried sponge.

"I could do more with a physical description, possibly, even better with a photograph to run through records databases, perhaps," she relents, already regretting her own unhelpfulness. Her mouth quirks to the side. "But I don't suppose the latter is available to us."

"Naturally. No photograph," Yi-Min says with regret even though it’s an obvious thing, slightly raising her glass at Chess in a clear gesture of thanks after her sake is refilled again. Cheers.

"I could help with a description, at least. African-American man, I would say probably mid-30's to early-40's. Well-built, very tall, too. I would guess 1.9 meters, or even more?"

Yi-Min holds her sake in a level position just beneath her lips, letting her take a contemplative sip for several unbroken seconds as she thinks further. It lets her hide a flit of a smile at Asi’s sarcasm, too.

"One last thing. According to him, my boss at Praxis used to, ah… cut pieces off him to study his power. This would put in mind that he has some Evolved ability that permits him to regenerate, at the very least." That might help to narrow down Asi’s search in whatever databases she has the power to go through.

The sarcasm draws a huff of breath in Chess’ terse variant on laughter, and she meets it in kind. “Sorry, I didn’t have a chance to take a photo, no,” she says wryly, but a small smirk remains — all in the name of friendship.

And sake.

She looks to Yi-Min when the other speaks and she nods her agreement to the description. “About Luther’s height, but not as, you know. Bearish,” Chess adds.

But the last detail makes her eyes widen and the smirk slip off her face.

“Jesus Christ. Wu? Please tell me you guys killed that asshole.” She hasn’t gotten a complete run-down on what happened in Praxia and asking for details seems impolite. “That makes me a bit more sympathetic to him. Fellow victim of egotism and mad science.”

Asi arches an eyebrow as the identifying detail slips into place, her own humor dispersing. Well, that was a bit more of a lead than running vagueries through a skiptrace. They did have a cache of files they were able to extract from Praxia, after all…

"We never directly crossed paths with Wu," may not be comforting news, but it is what it is. "I believe he was one of the evacuees that was arrested, though. Where he is…" Her head cants to the side in a sort of shrug. She was more interested in getting information and getting out rather than headhunting at the time. "Maybe in holdings similar to the ones you both were in?"

She pulls her cup a little closer to herself. "I'll see if we had Wu's lab notes, and see if I find anything that screams it might be Harris. My concern there is they tended to use identifiers aside from names, so I may learn plenty about him aside from… who he actually is." Lifting her sake to drink from it, she offers up tepidly, "But it'd be something, at least."

"I wish I could tell you, but yes, what Asi said." Yi-Min doesn't physically shrug, but there isn't much more she can offer besides. Headhunting isn't her priority either, even if she can certainly sympathize with Chess might want to do to him.

On the subject of Harris, at least, Yi-Min can tip her head in slightly more pensive agreement on both counts. "I do think he may have told me what he did in order to arouse sympathy," she reflects, hand not leaving the glass she had just set down. "But perhaps more to reassure me that what his people are after is not motivated by mad science." Of these two things, she knows without a doubt which one had succeeded in moving her more.

Yi-Min returns Asi's lukewarm response with an equally sedate nod, an acknowledgement of the possibility that they might not find anything useful at all. "I'd guess it would be old material, if you do find anything at all. Likely from before my time. I know that Wu never mentioned anything about him to me, identifier or otherwise."

“Probably not super useful as to what he’s doing now, no,” agrees Chess with both Asi’s and Yi-Min’s assessments. “I kinda figure with what Yi-Min has told us, they’ll be safeguarded against any tech attempts to find out more about them these days.”

Yi-Min’s words draw a slow nod from the youngest of the trio. “If his job was to find out more from you, he either had to scare the shit out of you or find some common ground, and I’m pretty sure the first wouldn’t work well,” she says with a small, respectful smile, tipping her glass in the other woman’s direction, then looks to Asi to include her in the compliment.

“Neither of you seem to scare easily. I feel like everything I do is just a reaction based on fear — sometimes it’s the right reaction. Most of the time, it’s probably not,” Chess says, a little wryly. “Maybe I should try yoga or something one of these days. Calm my shit down a notch.”

Asi squints one eye thoughtfully, resisting the urge to reach immediately for her ability. "They might have his current identity well protected… but if he's kept his name, there's a possibility the old registry might have information about him. But— that's a tomorrow problem, certainly." The squinted eye closes entirely and she relaxes, looking between the two. "For today, let's celebrate what wins we do have, mysteries be damned."

She lifts what remains of her glass, the corner of her mouth pulling back in a wry smile. "Wins, and good sake," to which she drinks and sets down the emptied glass for a refill.

The technopath even lets out a quiet laugh at Chess's suggestion at her own expense. But then she sobers. "Listen," she imparts with a serious glint, even if it's without her usual solemnity.. "When I was more or less your age, I rotated between fear and righteous anger so much I had a hard time differentiating between the two. But you learn. You grow. And if you have reached the point you realize fear is not always the answer, you are growing. Maybe even faster than I did."

"Yoga," Asi allows, though she doesn't sound particularly keen on it. "Could be a way to focus— any art could help. The most important thing is to keep moving forward." Now she takes on a more thoughtful glean, careful with her words and how they provide insight into her own processes. "Reflect, and move forward."

Sake halfway to her mouth for another gulp, Yi-Min too laughs out loud at being unexpectedly complimented in this way. "And listen. I would not use me as a role model for anything. I have, ah. Remarkably poor self-preservation instincts for this kind of thing." Attaching so little value to her own life in the grand scheme really isn't something she would rush to recommend to anyone else. Brow lifted with bright drollness, she finishes taking the drink that she's on, then shifts her gaze over to Asi in agreement.

"I personally find yoga to be incredibly boring. Physical movement is good, though. Anything like this in general can help you to focus. Above all the biggest mistake you can make is to fixate on what the right reaction was, because I ask you, what is the point of this? The moment is over. ‘Reflect, and move forward.’" It's a deliberate reinforcement of what Asi had just said, underlined by a very curt nod from her.

Chess listens, and it’s all good advice, to which she nods slowly. It’s clear she’s listening and that she respects the advice of the two women she’s drinking with.

Of course she has to ruin the moment.

“Did you just ‘when I was your age’ me?” she asks Asi, eyes widening slightly in mock amazement. “Jesus Christ. You’re not old enough for that shit, either of you.”

She lifts the glass she holds. “Reflect and move forward,” Chess offers in a new toast. “I got the reflecting down, but the moving forward’s a little sketchy.”

Asi lets out a laugh as she reaches for the bottle to pour herself more, and in the process, tops off both of the other women's glasses as well. She's wearing an amused grin she can't help herself from holding even as she looks back up, shaking her head before setting the bottle aside. After nearly saying something and holding back on it, she relents, "You know, I think I'll just take that win." Chess thinking she's too young to be making comments like that.

Better than the younger woman gawking to hear she turned forty this year.

"The moving forward part's the hardest," she confides instead. "Especially when fear and anger are involved. And don't get me wrong— sometimes moving on from that isn't justified. Some people just need punched repeatedly. Physically, metaphorically…" Asi lets out a note of mirth.

"Hey, now. Respect your elders!" This admonishment from Yi-Min comes with an air of mock-primness and a face that is completely straight except for the most lightly arched of brows. It's with all of her usual placidness that she picks up her glass again though, her expression even more deeply entertained than Asi's. She'll most certainly be interpreting this as a win, herself.

There is slightly more authentic interest in that expression the next time her attention is pulled by Asi's words. "Anybody in particular whom you'd still like to punch repeatedly, physically and/or metaphorically?" she has to wonder aloud, tone dry and inquisitive.

She keeps learning things about Oni this conversation.
Chess leans back, smirking a bit at the laughter from the other two women. The sake has found its way into her blood, and her cheeks are rosy and there’s a bit more of a dewy glow thanks to the warmth of the alcohol coursing through her veins.

“On that, we can definitely agree,” she says, lifting her glass in a new toast. “There’s a word in German that means a face in need of a fist: Backpfeifengesicht.” The foreign word is spoken slowly and not in the least bit fluently. “Miles…” she glances at Asi and her mouth tips into a small, sad smile, “not the one you know,” she adds, “told me that.”

She takes a sip from the newly-refilled glass. “I really hope it’s not hereditary, that sort of face, because if so I am screwed.” It’s mostly a joke, given she looks very little like the person she’s not naming.

Asi's caught with her hand in the metaphorical cookie jar when Yi-Min circles back to the technopath's demons she'd like to assault. She pauses with her glass halfway lifted back to her lips, slowly lowering it back down. "Oh," she admits in a wistful sigh, staring off in a moment of unguarded thought. She can't decide what angle of answer she'd like to provide.

"Several old friends," she admits, her dark eyes elsewhere. It's honest, but vague. "One for something that wasn't his fault, one for many things that are, and a third still for vanishing and not allowing me to be a better friend."

When she comes back to the moment, she asides, "The middle one has one of those faces, but I've never physically hit him before and I'm not in a geographical position to start now."

Jaw rotating for a moment in thought, she looks back up to Chess. "Speaking of that friend and Miles in the same breath, how is he— do you know? I still owe him after he kept me from being captured when the Mugai-Ryu assaulted the steelworks."

Yi-Min isn't going to try to repeat that strange string of syllables, or even replay it in her head. The warmth of the sake is now starting to rise to her head, too, and nobody needs whatever garbled thing would fall out of her lips if she tried.

"Fair enough," she declares shortly but quite cheerily to Asi, content to leave it there. One of those faces is a fairly standard description, and one she knows unhappily well. More interested in the turn the conversation had taken, she directs her gaze to Chess over the brim of her glass, taking another silent, leisurely drink.

“Oh, friends. I don’t have any of those I’d like to punch,” Chess says. “I think I’m that friend in the relationship, I hate to say, after this past year.”

She can still picture Luther’s unhappy face from a year ago in Japan.

The question regarding Miles draws another shrug. “He’s been doing a little better, I think, kinda getting used to this version of the world. I mean, it seems like, even with how shitty the past year has been, it’s still better than Sea World, right?”

She fiddles with her glass for a moment, turning it between her palm and the table. “I don’t think he thinks you owe him anything. The more people he knows that don’t compare him to a different version of himself, the better. He’s probably appreciative of you just for that, you know?”
Angling an apologetic glance at Yi-Min for talking about someone she doesn’t know, Chess offers a quiet explanation. “Mutual teleporter friend who was in Japan with us. Happens to look a whole lot like someone I lost in the war.”

Chess is quiet for a moment, before she adds, “The one I lost was what it offered me in Detroit.”

Mention of the world that Miles came from hits Asi in an unexpected way, almost certainly encouraged by the drink she's taken in. She's rendered speechless for a moment, unable to even let out an idle tone of agreement.

She's not thought about Silas in a while. It tends to be like that, making each time he crosses her thoughts bring with it a fresh wave of loss.

Finally, she gives a small smile, even if it's forced. "Well, he'll forever rank highly in my book. He embarrassed Genki for me, properly shamed him for being the laziest smart person I've ever heard of. And it serves him right for his higher-than-mighty view of himself versus Evolved he has to deal with." She tips her shoulder in a shrug, a bit more fondness to it. "Anyone who reminds him we aren't merely tools or things to be controlled slaps him in the face better than if I did it myself, I suppose." One eye closing, she segues into admitting, "But I have to say, the handful of times teleporting with him are probably enough for me in this lifetime."

The topic brings her back to the present in a roundabout way. And to a topic that can be appreciated by more than just two parties. "Scylla— Clover is doing well, by the way. Cagey as ever, but hale, and somewhat close by still, last I knew."

Though neither of the other women mention it outright, neither of them need to for Yi-Min to pick up the obvious subtext from all of this talk of 'different versions' of people. Listening from the background, she gives a distinct nod of appreciation for the explanation, but otherwise her expression stays hushed. "My god, I am sorry," she conveys for the second time that evening, softer and more heartfelt this time now that she has a clarified picture in her head of what Chess had undergone.

The solemnity in the air is infectious. In that fresh light, she finds herself meditating on what had been said of the Entity's offer— and next to it, the figures in her own life only technically there because of some form of wild interdimensional roulette. The two concepts conjoined together as one are almost too painful to dwell on, even if only in abstract (and slightly intoxicated) fashion.

"This is a wonderful thing," Yi-Min murmurs emphatically when Asi brings up Clover, glad to be able to seize on those words. "I am happy to hear she is doing well. Has she called you, yet?" Her focus has switched to Chess again along with her new question, this time with the keenness of awaiting news.

The reactions from the two women draw a motley crew of reactions from Chess in turn, including a small smile of amusement at Asi’s anecdote of Miles and Genki, a furrowed brow of amusement at the mention of Scylla or Clover — whoever that is — and a small smile of thanks to Yi Min for her condolences. That turns to confusion again at the question the latter poses to Chess, and she tips her head.

Her response is a single syllable.


Asi's expression shifts in a surprised tic. Wait—

Yi-Min's does too. She just looks at Asi, perturbed, before transferring that look back to Chess. "Clover?” she repeats, as though doing that will somehow spur more recognition.

One slow, hard blink later and Asi's confusion turns into a flicker of acknowledgement. Regret. "Oh, shit." There's no rhetorical questioning of did this really never come up before, because somehow, it hasn't.

She sets aside her drink and sits up a bit straighter, taking the longer explanation. "While you were gone— Monica and I discovered my superior officer's missing granddaughter and the missing clone from the Hiroshima pod were one in the same. Some time after that…" She shifts a look to Yi-Min then with a tip of her shoulders, resisting a frown. Chess's situation was different, after all. "Dr. Yeh had me loop in Scylla for assistance with planning for the assault on Praxia. And it became clear, then, that Scylla was the missing clone, and her reason for her attacks on Praxis— the hack of their site and the exposure of their dirty laundry— was for revenge regarding…"

There's no easy way to phrase it. "Everything that happened to the clones in the Flower Garden project. She— I'm pretty sure she didn't realize you survived, either, for what it's worth."

"I met her in Providence. I gave her your cell number." is Yi-Min's much blunter follow-up explanation for why she is bemused, though there is gratitude present at not having to waste words on the more technical details thanks to Asi's exposition.

The Taiwanese woman’s tone takes a slight dip downwards, becoming brooding. "Back in February, just before my assault on Praxia. I introduced myself then, and explained who I was. I revealed to her who you were— and who you would be to each other. I… perhaps she did not trust me enough to even try calling?" It's the only explanation she can think of offhand for so much time having passed and Chess still remaining unaware. But surely, this wouldn’t still be the case after the depth of her betrayal to Praxis had been revealed?

That or, rather more dubiously, "Have you changed numbers since then?"

Chess’ dark eyes move from one woman to the next and back again, her brows drawn tightly together until she leans back in the booth and stares down at the table for a long moment.

Her head shakes sharply. No, she didn’t call. No, Chess hasn’t changed her number.

Her lips press together, and when she looks up again, her eyes glisten with unfallen tears. After a hard swallow and a blink, she lifts her shoulder in a shrug that’s far more nonchalant than her expression.

“She must not want to know me,” she says quietly. “I don’t blame her.” Her mouth tics upward in an attempt at a smile, but it falls again. “At least she’s not trying to murder me, so that’s an improvement over the other pod.”

Asi pushes aside the glasses to reach across the table, a hard look given to Chess even while she offers her her hand. "Like all things when it comes to family, it's never that simple. And yours is not a simple family."

Her brow tics into a furrow to drive home her insistence. Humor would be a nice supplement, but this feels too serious for that. "So much was happening then, and so much has swept us up since. It is no excuse. I don't know her reasons, and I won't pretend to. But not want to know?"

She shakes her head once. "She attacked a megacorporation singlehandedly over the sisters she did know existed. Imagine what she would do for you once she gets to know you."

"Nonsense," Yi-Min asserts after Chess's reaction as though it had caused her personal offense, instantly prim. "She does not know the first thing about you to make that conclusion.”

Throwing another single, meaningful look of agreement Asi’s way, she re-hones in on Chess’s face after that. "I think she is frightened. The girl may be this fierce Scylla creature behind her keyboard, but she was much more timid in person. That is not an excuse on her behalf, but I suspect it to be the case." Letting her cheek rest right on the balance of her curved fingers, she recedes into a form of silence, her eyes as hard as little glittering diamonds. Her tone when she next speaks is gentle, but also unyielding.

"I may not know much, but I know about the importance of lost family, and more particularly of not letting opportunities like this pass by. I shall facilitate some kind of first meeting between the two of you, if that would be easier on you."

Chess takes Asi’s hand and squeezes it, and shakes her head again, this time more softly. “She doesn’t need an excuse,” she tells each of the women justifying the lack of action on this unknown sister’s part.

“There shouldn’t be any expectation on her, from me or anyone else. I don’t know what she knows about the others — what Vi did, or Lanhua or Val. Or what I did. If this last year taught me anything, it’s that loyalty isn’t coded in our DNA. They haven’t mastered that, or at least not at the time we were designed.

Her hand releases Asi’s and brushes across her eyes. “Only if she wants it,” Chess murmurs to Yi-Min. “I respect her choice if not. Don’t make her feel obligated, yeah? As Asi says, my family is complicated. Noping out of it would be pretty tempting.”

"Either way, your chosen family will support you," Asi asserts, and only then does she feel satisfied enough to pull her hand back to herself and reclaim her sake. She lifts her cup, feeling confident in saying as much partly from a strong sense of knowing, and partly because…

Well. The alcohol, at this point.

Speaking of which, "How much of that bottle is left? By our powers combined, we should be able to finish it off…" This is clearly a Very Important Topic, and Asi leans comfortably against the wall while she waits for a report back, in for the long haul. She takes only a moment to check in with the drone stationed outside, refocusing on the moment as soon as she's reassured nothing bad is gearing up to happen outside.

Now she can relax and enjoy the moment again.

"I will talk to her," is the promise that Yi-Min makes in regards to Chess's request, somber despite its curtness. It would be as Asi said. Either way, she understood.

"One last thing, before we demolish the rest of this bottle according to that superb suggestion." Before Yi-Min potentially gets sloshed enough to forget all about it. Reaching down to feel into her bag, she removes a small object from a pocket, sliding it forth onto the table within easy reach of Chess.

It's a flash drive, encased in nondescript black plastic.

"Everything that Praxis had on you. Genetic profile, medical assessments, history until your escape. Things of that nature. You might know most of it already, but… aside from time," and possibly now a single sister, "this is all that I can give back to you." The flow of alcohol in her blood is lighting the embers of a vague wish that she could give something more substantial, and it's visible as a faint forlornness for a few seconds. “Anyhow. It was yours to begin with. So.”

Picking up the bottle, Chess pours the remains into each of the three glasses, Asi’s getting the last few clear drops of liquid before the bottle is set down, empty, with a thud.

She stares at the flash drive set on the table for a moment, before her hand reaches for it, holding it in her hand for a few seconds before she tucks it into the inside pocket of her jacket. “Thank you,” she murmurs, the simple syllables full with sincerity. “Both.”

Lifting her glass, a small smile returns to Chess’ face. “By our powers combined, this is an accomplishment we will share.” She takes a hearty swallow, and adds, “along with the hangover tomorrow morning.”

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