Under Illusions


aoi_icon.gif kitada_icon.gif sako_icon.gif

Scene Title Under Illusions
Synopsis When Aoi returns injured from a covert operation, the Mugai-Ryu investigate the circumstances around her deployment.
Date May 5, 2021

A heavy rain falls from the dark night sky.

Aoi Housen rolls onto her side, gripping the edge of a solar panel to keep her from slipping off and falling several stories to her death. The skyline of Yamagato Park blooms in colors of teal and pink against the night, neon gloom clinging to low lying fog. Blood runs out of tears in her matte black stealth suit, washed away by the pouring rain.

Suddenly, she is bathed in a floodlight as an AH/UN drone whirrs around the side of the building. Little red lights flash on the small drone’s underbelly, and a moment later Aoi can hear the roar of a twin-rotor helicopter as it circles the hotel. The mountain and river symbol of Yamagato Industries on its side paints a pale relief for Aoi, as does the presence of a broad-shouldered, white-haired man hunched in the open side of the helicopter.

HOUSEN!” Ryuji Sako shouts from the helicopter, then waves at the pilot to pull closer. Aoi squints against the bright spotlight of the drone that found her, and rolls onto her back, letting the rain pelt her face.

Rescue had come, but the string of failure remains.

A Short Time Later

The Yamagato Building
Medical Center

Yamagato Park

May 5th
8:19 pm

“I didn’t get a good look at him,” Aoi says, laid back in a hospital bed with a bandage around her head, bruising evident around one eye, her lip split and covered with a butterfly bandage. “White, tall, dressed in dark clothes. Had long, curly hair… some gray in his beard. I didn’t recognize him.”

Sako looks enormous, sitting backwards on a small chair at Aoi’s bedside. He hunches over the back of the chair, arms folded across it. “He had multiple abilities?” Sako asks, squinting slightly.

Aoi nods, then looks away to the window. “Nothing I did hurt him, except the gas. I could’ve had him.”

Sako frowns, shaking his head. “If they hadn’t sent you alone this wouldn’t be an issue. But they did.” He stands up from the chair, turns it around and returns it to the corner of the room where it belongs. “I’m gonna have words.”

Aoi looks at Sako, squinting. “Why?

Sako cracks a smile, running a hand through his shock-white hair. “Because you’re part of the team now. And if somebody fucks with the team, they fuck with all of us.”

Aoi looks away, guiltily.

“Who gave you the order?” Sako asks, lowering his voice. “To go after Weiss?”

Frowning, Aoi looks over at Sako. She’s surprised he’s that well-informed, but he is a seasoned spec-ops agent. With age comes experience, especially when dealing with corporate bullshit.

“Damaris.” Aoi says quiet, giving Sako a warning look. Don’t dig into this. Sako seems undeterred, however.

“Get some rest.” Sako says on his way to the door. “We’ve got your back.”

Only once Sako has left the room and shut the door does Aoi whisper the word, “Thanks,” to herself. It feels foreign on her tongue.

Out in the hall, Sako nearly bumps into Aoi’s nurse. “Oh, hey. She gonna be alright?” Sako asks, motioning to Aoi’s room with a thumb over his shoulder. The nurse nods, cradling a tablet to her chest.

“Minor fractures, a few sprains and torn ligaments. She’ll be out of commission for a few weeks, but she’ll make a full recovery.” The nurse indicates, then starts to edge around Sako to head into Aoi’s room. Sako steps aside to let her pass, then turns to walk down the hall, satisfied with the answer.

A Short Time Later

Security Operations Command
Yamagato Building

What used to be a floor dedicated to social and community initiatives has been rapidly converted into a nerve center for the increased levels of security at Yamagato Industries. Sako has to badge through three checkpoints and a thermal body scanner on his way in. He begrudgingly adheres to the theatrics and makes his way to the nerve center where the Mugai-Ryu have been given run of the roost.

There, he finds Sasuke Kitada hunched over a laptop in the operation center, an AH/UN drone situated on the desk next to him with a docking cable connected from the drone to his laptop. When he sees Sako come in, Kitada sits up straight and lowers the laptop screen. “やっぱり!” He exclaims, slapping his hands on the desk.

Sako sighs and shakes his head. “C’mon, I’m trying to get better at my English.”

“I knew you wouldn’t take time off.” Kitada says with a smirk, rising from his desk. “You didn’t even last two hours.”

Sako shrugs, walking over to Kitada’s desk to sit on the corner. The desk groans under the strong man’s weight. “You working on footage from the Ryokan incident?”

Kitada nods, opening the laptop and turning it so Sako can see. “All the hotel’s security camera footage was erased. I have to suspect that Weiss had a technopath working for her.”

Sako nods, leaning in to look at some grainy footage. “So what’s this?”

“The GhostNet drones that supply wireless internet to the Safe Zone have mounted cameras on them,” Kitada explains, pulling up a map of the hundreds of drones currently deployed to the city. “This one was returning to a charging station in Yamagato Park and was flying on-route past the Ryokan and caught some of the fight on its camera.”

“Wait,” Sako says, looking from the laptop to Kitada. “You’re telling me the whole Safe Zone is under surveillance by these things?”

Kitada nods. “The cameras are concealed, And the the general public doesn’t know. Yamagato doesn’t share the footage outside of the company, either. Since the cameras aren’t intended for surveillance, but as security to identify anyone who damages or steals a GhostNet drone, the footage isn’t even shared with the Security Division. In fact, I don’t think they even have access to it.”

Sako’s brows raise and he leans in closed, pointing to a flash of blue on the grainy footage. “And what’s that, a transformer blowing? Lightning?”

“That’s Housen.” Kitada says. “Her electrokinesis being… I don’t know, absorbed?”

“Do we have any footage of her attacker?” Sako asks, to which Kitada shakes his head.

“No. We’ve identified her security entourage,” Kitada says, pulling up six photographs, “but there are no Registration records for them that we can access. So we don’t know what any of them are capable of. It may not even be a member of her security team.”

Sako nods, then slides off the desk. “How much do you know about Kaydence Damaris?”

Kitada raises a brow, then sits down in his chair. “She’s the head of the Fellowship, right? Antiques and art?”

Sako frowns softly, then looks at the drone. “What’s her background?”

Kitada sits forward and opens his laptop, starting to run a search. “Hm. Widowed, back before the war. Husband was a police officer here in New York. Has a daughter from that marriage, Coleen. Teenager. Damaris worked for public relations at the Linderman Group for years.”

Linderman Group?” Sako asks in surprise.

Kitada nods, continuing to dig deeper. “No records of what she was up to during the war. Didn’t testify at Albany. Then she was hired here straight after the war ended, worked for Kam Nisatta.”

Sako nods, starting to pace the floor, arms crossed over his chest.

“Why the interest in Damaris?” Kitada asks, closing his laptop again.

“Just a hunch,” Sako says quietly. “Who does she report to?”

Kitada checks the laptop again, then tilts his head to the side. “Looks like she reports directly to Kawahara-sama. I would have expected a level of insulation there.”

“What’s she been up to in the last year? Anything in Security’s records? Anything suspicious?” Sako asks, continuing to pace around Kitada’s desk.

Kitada hums softly to himself, then squints at his screen. “面白い.” The tone is enough to get Sako to walk over, looking at what Kitada uncovered. “She was abducted and detained at a Renautas Corp building earlier in the year. Looks like corporate warfare. She was replaced by someone to cover for her absence a…” Kitada hisses. “A shapeshifter?

Sako puts a hand on the back of Kitada’s chair and leans over his shoulder. “Show me.

Kitada pulls up a file showing a red-haired woman next to a photo of Kaydence. “Philomena Haas.” He says distractedly, scanning her file. “Looks like she fled the US a decade ago, resorted to mercenary work. We have her… detained here?”

Sako stands up straight, frowning. “Where?

Kitada shakes his head. A red banner popping up on his laptop. “Restricted? I should have security access. That… doesn’t seem right.”

“It sure does.” Sako says quietly, then turns for the door. Kitada stands again.

“Wait, Sako!” Kitada calls after him. “Where are you going?”

Sako glances over his shoulder and waves Kitada off dismissively. “Nowhere,” he waves off Sako’s concern. “And hey, Kitada?” He pauses, turning in the doorway to face his team member. “We didn’t have this conversation.”

Kitada nods, then sits back down at his desk, frowning.

A Short Time Later

The Yamagato Fellowship Building
Parking Lot
Yamagato Park

It’s been a long day.

The alarm on Kay Damaris’ car chirps as she approaches under the cover of a pale white awning. Rain is hammering the city outside. As she approaches her car, Kay sees someone rise up from behind it, sending a jolt of nervous energy through her.

Ryuji Sako may not be tall, but he’s a bear of a man. He rests a hand on the roof of Kay’s car and drums on it gently. “Ms. Damaris,” he says, gesturing to the door. “You wanna come in and…”

Sako’s voice changes, warbling, shifting.

As does his appearance.

“…catch up?”


Maybe a girl’s night?

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