Where Those Swallows Soar


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Scene Title Where Those Swallows Soar
Synopsis Your point of origin is where you can do the most damage.
Date December 12, 2019

When she drinks, she does so casually, as if she hadn't just used a name never before spoken.

Asi takes a moment to look down into her cup, judging the tea with a deadpan expression. "Odd, mad fellows they are." Asi tacks on as an afterthought. She looks up from her pondering to finally glance back at him. "Are you bringing something to keep you lucky?"

Silas only snickers a bit harder as she gives him the side eye… but it's replaced by a look of genuine surprise as she drops that name. Tetsuyama Asami, he repeats mentally, committing it to memory; after all, given the fact that he's known her for this long and never actually heard that name, he's not about to believe it's an accident.

Her question takes him a bit off guard, though. "Something to keep me lucky? Can't say as I am. Don't, uh, think I have anything like that," he says, frowning thoughtfully. "Why, you have something in mind?"

"Fortune favors the bold, and the superstitious." Asi remarks with some humor. She's reaching into her pocket as she explains belatedly, "My name, in case you don't return. And some luck, that you might."

A single pearl free from its string spins on the bartop as she lets go of it. She's taken to carrying it around to keep its memory with her, without it being so flashy as the full necklace that could cause trouble for her again. Asi considers it for a moment, not exactly hesitating, but pausing to recognize the significance of the tiny orb.

"I'd bullshit you together a proper omamori, but this will have to do on such short notice." She's not disgruntled, finding that the valued object might just be a worthwhile substitute. "You'll need all the luck you can get to come through. You, and the rest of the crew. " Asi's expression softens as she asks, "Give them my best, will you? We will fight hard so that you all have a home to sail back to."

Silas's expression grows entirely serious as he sees her put the single pearl on the bartop. He looks from it to her, uncharacteristically silent for a moment.

"Heh. Can hardly refuse something like that, can I," he murmurs after a moment, nodding. He reaches out to very delicately pick up the pearl, studying it for a moment before looking back to Asi, pearl still in hand. "I'll accept this. And I'll definitely let the Forthright crew know that you're wishin' 'em all the best," he says, grinning.

"'Course, in the spirit of fairness. Since you're gonna be here and all…" Silas begins, grinning as he lays a keyring on the bartop. "You'll be around here, I won't. Worst comes to worst and the Sentinel manage to get boots in the Pelago, maybe a decent flat with a good lock will come in handy; give you enough time to wind up and kick their teeth down their throats. Plus this way I know someone I trust has got the keys to the place."

He sobers. "Seemed appropriate. Like you said - you're fighting for our home, after all."

"I'll water the plants and keep the cats fed until you're back," Asi teases in reply, warmth in her eyes. She leaves her fingers over the keyring for a moment before closing her hand over them, the fight that lays ahead of them both inescapably in mind now. Despite that, her positive (if occasionally solemn) humor is unshakable.

"The Sentinel will fall." she swears as she accept the keys. "I'll be sure to kill one or two just for you."

Asi lifts her hand with a wry smirk. "After all, you've given me the keys to the city. Least I can do."

Silas grins and chuckles, raising his glass. "I'll drink to that."

One Year…

…and one World Later

Herkimer Apartments
Elmhurst, The NYC Safe Zone
December 12, 2019
9:12 am

Memories of the past drain away like the ocean at low tide, ebbing out of focus as the dreary gray skies viewed out of grimy windows come to replace those fond recollections. Silas Mackenzie’s world is redefined by a dull, throbbing pain in his abdomen. Laid out across an old, threadbare couch and covered with several blankets to keep off the cold in the unheated apartment, his eyes wander the fractal patterns of ice at the edges of the old, uninsulated windows. This wasn’t a boat, his or any other, this was something of growing familiarity.

This was a safehouse.

Swallowing down a dry lump in his throat, Silas spies a half-empty glass of water on the end table beside the couch, frosted on the outside from the chill in the air. An orange bottle of pills sits beside it, the label reading hydrocodone, something for the pain. Two months ago Silas had survived multiple gunshot wounds to the stomach, spent more than a month in the hospital recovering from surgeries and complications resulting from an internal bleed. He was in and out of operations, under police protection following Kain’s report to the NYPD of the shooting. That precluded him from being able to see Asi. This world’s Asi. Life had become complicated.

Two days ago Silas was released from the hospital and Kain picked him up in the dead of night, whisking him away and out from the watchful eye of his police detail. Kain Zarek had spent a large part of his life working for organized criminals, hiding from murderers in a virus-ruined wasteland, and on the run through time. He knew how to lie low. But it was never, ever, in style.

Muffled voices draw Silas’ attention to what sits next to the pill bottle and the water glass, a loaded gun. Someone is coming down the hall to the apartment, heavy footsteps, two voices. Unlikely to be his would-be murderer. Especially once the voices come into clarity.

“…rough around the edges still, so go easy on ‘em.” At least one of them is Kain.

It hurts.

It seems to Silas that it always hurts, anymore. When he wakes up.

The physical pain is the easiest, in a way. He can pretend that that doesn't bother him, for a little while at a time — a gift his little trick affords him — but it always creeps back in, eventually. The pills are a longer term solution, and every now and then he does pop one, but… he doesn't like them very much. No, if he's being honest, they scare him. When he pops one of those, they make him feel… disconnected. Like I might do anything at all, he thinks, his gaze drifting for a moment to that loaded gun.

He lets out a shallow, shuddering breath, forcing his thoughts down different lines. The gun. Maybe it'll do him some good. Probably it won't. But… better to have it than not. Probably.


The sound of footsteps draws his attention back to the present. Gingerly, he eases himself partway into a sitting position — even that, even moving with agonizing care to avoid pulling any stitches, hurts like snakes chewing on his guts — but he wants to be ready. His eyes settle on the gun…

…until he makes out Kain's voice. He lets out another shuddering exhale, carefully, slowly, reaching for the water instead. No pill, though. He already had one today, earlier, and if there's one thing he doesn't want to do it's lean too heavily on those pills; he's read the side effects on those things. At least three times now, for lack of anything else to read. Be a hell of a thing if I finished my evil twin's work for him, he thinks, and that thought draws an almost-snicker from him.

Silas takes a sip of water, and waits to see who's coming.

"There's nothing easy about this," says someone on the other side of the door, voice lowered to not carry. In case Silas was asleep. There's a lack of ambient noise created by any central heating to keep it unheard, though. To keep her unheard.

"But I'll do my best, all the same." Asi promises.

The doorknob turns and then swings in, revealing her on the other side. She's bundled against the elements, black sweater sleeve visible beneath the cuff of her leather jacket. A black and blue-speckled scarf is bound several times around her neck, covering over her mouth practically with how it's bundled.

It's thin, though, so her breath passes right through it as she breathes out "You're awake." upon seeing Silas with open eyes.

Kain doesn’t say anything as he comes in, just quietly shuts the door behind himself and locks the deadbolt. There’s a crinkle of paper in his arms, a small grocery bag from the bodega up the street. While Asi greets Silas, Kain quietly makes his way into the small kitchenette of this one-bedroom apartment, setting the bag down on the counter in plain view of the others. From in the bag, Kain pulls out basic necessities; bread, milk, a couple boxes of weird Japanese cereal, some bottled water because the apartment’s smells eggy.

Silas knows that voice; his lips are already starting to curve into a smile by the time the door opens. It's a tired smile on a waxen, haggard face, but it reaches all the way up to his eyes. "Asi," he says quietly.

"Yeah," he agrees to her assertion, a faint ghost of something resembling actual mirth flickering in his eyes for a moment. On the heels of the mirth, though, comes an echo of that old pain he'd felt when he'd first woken up — the kind of pain that his gift does nothing for. The pills do work for it… but only because they efface everything. That's yet another reason he tries to stay clear of them until the pain gets unbearable. Heh. Grief and omamoris — what's left when all else is lost, he thinks, masking the pain behind a thin shell of wry humor.

Silas's eyes flicker to Kain as he heads to the kitchenette without a word, and Silas can't help but smile fondly at that, too; having a friend who's got your back when you're bedridden and being stalked by a major league murder professional is worth more than gold.

But he's spoken with Kain more than once since his catastrophic run in with his evil twin, and there's not really a lot to say that hasn't already been said; in Silas's experience, there's only so many times you can hear someone express gratitude before the very sound of it starts to grate, and it'd be bad form to drive someone nuts when they're bailing you out of this much trouble. Asi, though… he hasn't had a chance to speak with since the boat.

"I was… starting to wonder if I'd imagined you, ha…" he says, letting out a chuckle… one that almost immediately threatens to set off a bout of coughing. He manages to get it under control, huddling more tightly under the blankets Kain got him… then looking back to Asi and smiling again. "It's good to see you."

Standing how she is, it's harder for Silas to see the line Asi's mouth takes on, but it's easy enough to follow her gaze as she assesses the apartment in silence. She moves away from the door only to assist with that act, flinty eyes sparking a lighter hue briefly to bring variation to an otherwise unreadable, unchanging expression. Her hand slides down the strap of a bag she has slung over her shoulder, pulling it around to dig a hand into it.

"I wasn't sure if there would be a good use for this," she explains while she looks at the window, beginning to pull something bulky free. "But now I am glad I brought it."

Her hand is bunched around a thick fleece blanket, smooth on one navy-and-black plaid side while the other is covered in off-white warmth-entrapping naps of fabric. The bag slung to her positively deflates once it's freed, and she only looks back to Silas as she steps closer and offers it to him.

"You have become a hard man to find," Asi observes quietly, obliquely glossing over the worry that had caused. Because: "That's a good thing." A phone call to Kain had put concern and a preparation of arms to rest, anyway, leading to the grocery store ambush, and now this. Her gaze lifts, favoring that ice-framed window again, eyes narrowing at thoughts she keeps to herself.

You can't see the high-tech Yamagato Park from his window, but she knows it's there. Only a few miles away.

“Lucky for Smiles here,” Kain says from the kitchen as he puts the sparse groceries away, “Ah’ve got a good head on mah’ shoulders for hidin’. Don’t live as long’s Ah’ve managed to without knowin’ where t’lay low. Other’n that old Russian lady upstairs,” Kain motions to the ceiling with his thumb, “we ain’t got neighbors that’re all that nosy.”

Turning to the refrigerator, Kain stoops down and puts the milk and bottled water inside. “Blanket’s appreciated, ain’t much for heat here. Ran outta’ oil a few nights ago, landlord ain’t exactly what you’d call prompt.” All of this feels needlessly domestic, especially for Kain. But it’s clear that the touches of normalcy are helpful to anchor both he and Silas in this situation.

“Was hopin’ you wouldn’t mind pullin’ guard duty,” Kain says as he makes his way out of the kitchen, angling a look at Asi. “Ah’ve been stayin’ here every night, ain’t left me with much time t’do much’f anything else.” Somebody has to keep an eye on Silas, and the more people coming and going from the apartment building the more suspicion it could draw from—

— well, from Silas.

A Silas.

Silas nods a bit ruefully at Asi's assessment of his becoming harder to find; under other circumstances, he might have offered an explanation… but she already understands.

At the proffered blanket, his smile grows a bit wider. "Thanks, Asi," he says quietly, gratefully taking the blanket she's offering. Silas glances over to Kain as his friend — roommate at the moment, ha! — speaks… though as he asks Asi if she's willing to stay on guard duty, though, his eyes widen a bit in surprise. That explains those boxes of… what the heck kind of cereal is that, anyway?… but he hadn't expected that she'd be potentially staying with them.

Silas frowns thoughtfully, his eyes flickering from Kain to Asi, then out the frosted window. He's thrilled that Asi's here, and he'd be pleased as Punch to have her keeping a lookout — not least because he has an idea of how his evil twin's ability works, and how Asi's ability works — but there are still a lot of questions marks about how and why she's here. He doesn't speak up just yet, though, instead opting to remain silent and listen… though he does regard Asi with a questioning look.

Asi hadn't expected she'd be staying either. It's evident in how quickly she looks back to Kain, the flicker of surprise in her expression. Seconds tick by, the technopath stacking factors one on top of the other without bothering to divvy them out into pros and cons. There were pieces all making up her own situation, Silas's situation, and apparently, Kain's situation. He could likely use the time off.

"One night," is all she offers, distance to the grudging concession. It may even be more time than he expects. "And then I have my own unheated hovel to return to." The humor in that is deadpan, delivered without a trace of a smile. She looks to the door, then back to Kain. There's a condition she means to impart. "Kain: Your phone rings, you answer it."

She's not domestic in the slightest. The idea of having a panic button in her back pocket probably serves herself more than it does him. But she relents to this all with a nose-exhaled sigh, beginning to unwind the scarf from about her neck. Asi assumes she's going to be here a while.

“Y’all got one fer me?” Kain asks in retort, tugging a Toblerone out of his jacket pocket and tossing it to Silas, “because y’shot m’last one, might Ah’ remind.” Hands on his hips, Kain looks from Asi to Silas and back again. “It ain’t like Ah’m rollin’ in money, Ah’ got let go from mah’ contractin’ gig on Roosevelt on account of mah’ ass injury, an’ gig work’s been low paying.”

Kain steps from beside the couch to settle down in a ratty old armchair across from it, kicking his feet up on the coffee table. “Besides, Ah’m worried he’s got some phone trackin’ nonsense.” Kain refuses to call Silas’ would-be assassin by his name, mostly because it confuses him. “Figured better safe’n sorry.”

Silas can't help but smile as Asi agrees to stay for awhile… although the notion that she's staying in an unheated hovel, too, is not as happy.

The mention of Kain losing his job is definitely not happy, at all, and draws a sympathetic frown to Silas's face. He hadn't realized Kain had been outright sacked.

But hey. Toblerone! Silas squints as he sees Kain make his pitch, and with a lazy looking motion he reaches up to catch it; for a moment it looks like it's going to slip out of his grasp, but he's able to recover it and pulls it down, grinning. Not bad. He raises the candy bar to Kain, flashing a grin of thanks before he tears open the wrapper, breaking himself off a triangular piece of candy and popping it in his mouth. Mmmm.

That near-fumble, though… that definitely wasn't on brand for him. Maybe I should see if I can practice some coin tricks. Get the old hand-eye coordination back into shape. He ponders trying with a knife instead, just in case. That might be a good idea once he's gotten a little more back into shape.

The mention of phone-tracking, though… that's interesting. Would his doppelganger do something like that? He thinks about it. It's… not impossible. He doesn't think his evil twin is the sort who'd really dive into that sort of thing… but he can't rule it out. Who knows? Maybe his evil twin knew a guy who put together a gizmo for him or something. Although if he did…

Silas's gaze drifts to Asi as he swallows the Toblerone piece. "He probably doesn't," Silas offers. "My take on it, anyway… which, admittedly, could be off-base. If he did, though, that might be something we could take advantage of," he sighs. After a moment's thought, Silas offers Asi her blanket back, a questioning eyebrow raised; much as he'd love to add such a warm looking blanket to his pile, she's definitely going to need a blanket of her own if she's going to be spending the night here. On the bright side, if she's staying the night, he'll finally be able to ask her those thousand and one questions he's got for her. About what happened in Japan. About what brought her over here.


Asi doesn't say anything more, but she visibly struggles to accept that somehow Kain doesn't have a cellphone with him after a month. Job or no job. A hard look at him confirms what he says, though, no hum of technology coming from his person. She clicks her teeth, feeling partially responsible, but doesn't move to offer him her current burner.

Besides, then what would she call him with?

She scrubs a hand along the bottom half of her face, eyes closing. The technopath begins another slow pace from one end of the living space to the other. "Get a new phone," she advises, as if it were that simple, jobless as he is. "How else are you supposed to…" She gestures vaguely at him in a you know gesture. "Keep in touch with everything?" Her world is much larger than what's immediately in front of her, and she's not been exposed to too many people who think differently. Most of them she's left behind in her life, some more recently than others.

Asi issues a look to Silas in a silent bid for backup. Surely he understood where she was coming from.

“Well Ah’ was thinkin’ of writin’ you a letter,” Kain says with a dramatic raise of his hands. “Dearest gal who shot me in the ass,” he begins his dictation, “it is mah’ fifth day of vigil over our fallen comrade, food supplies’ve run short, an’ Ah’ fear General Lee will lead his men over the ridge any day now. I will write t’you again on the morrow, should mah ass not be dead.”

Touching a hand to his chest, Frozen in a moment of overly dramatic narration, Kain slowly opens his eyes to stare at Asi. There’s a long moment of awkward silence. “Or, y’know, there’s still payphones in some places.”

Kain’s brows crease together and he straightens himself, then looks over to Silas. Something clicks into place in his head. “Wait, did you just suggest bein’ bait?”

Silas is… probably not the best person to look to for backup on that particular point; he looks a little apologetic, but he's not that heavy into technology anyway and he's sure not about to chew on Kain when the man is literally hosting him in his safehouse.

Then Kain starts talking.

Silas tries not to laugh. He tries very hard, and to his credit he's mostly successful! But even he can't quite entirely stop the grin that his lips are twisting into, and his face is rapidly reddening with the effort of stopping the laughter that's trying to bubble up at Kain's spiel. Carefully he reaches for his cup again; there's an audible snicker or two before he drowns it with a drink of water.

But then… back to business. Silas sighs, looks to Kain regretfully, and sets his water down. "Way I see it… this isn't gonna last forever, Kain," he says gently. "You've bought me a stay of grace, and I'm grateful as hell for it, but… a reckoning can't be delayed indefinitely. I figure one way or another, we need to get ready for the inevitable. Try and make sure that the next time is on our terms, not his." Silas's lips take on a hint of a wry smile at that; the words are a variation of what Kain told him awhile back. "If he's tracing any number, most likely it'll be mine; we could use that."

He means to stop there, but maybe he's still a little fuzzy from the pill, because his next thought is aloud instead of in the depths of his mind. "Christmas Eve, most likely…" he murmurs.

Asi's expression is stoic, long-suffering and unbreaking in the face of Kain's sarcasm. Not all his references need to be understood to interpret his tone and find it unfunny. She waits the long pause without so much as a blink, only looking away when Kain does. There's not much shift in her demeanor as they discuss luring out Murdering Mackenzie, save for her look becoming stonier than before.

Silas' mumbling is when she finally lets out a sigh.

"Not that I have an abundance of trust in your government," because she does not, "but what other resources do you have to ensure future confrontations happen on 'your terms', and end in his arrest?" A beat passes. "Or death." Asi amends, her attention shifting solely to Silas to see his reaction to that potential end result.

"Because even two on one," a brief look to Kain to indicate she means him as the second in that, leaving herself out of this hypothetical. "I still don't like your odds."

“Dickie wants t’load you up with personal security,” Kain says, realizing he might need to clarify, “Richard. Carrrr— Ray.” Kain grimaces, scrubbing one hand at the back of his neck. “Ah gave ‘em the brush off. Liz wanted t’dump half th’ police on you too, which Ah’ figured would just end in your gettin’ dead by cop in some mixup. Ah’ ain’t too trustin’ of no government types either, no matter how many pats on the back they give me.”

“Ah’ know what it takes t’kill somebody like that,” is Kain’s coded language to Silas, still somewhat unsure of where Asi stands in full understanding of interdimensional chicanery. “He’s overconfident, trusts his ability. Ah’ say we play dirty. They had this gas in the…” Kain’s brows furrow, he can’t say wasteland. “In the uh, the war. Knocked out people’s powers, smelled like a boiled asshole.” He looks from Silas to Asi. “How’re your black market connections, Shooty?” He’s still test-driving her nicknames.

Silas hesitates a moment at Asi's mention of death… but if only one of the two of them is going to make it out, Silas knows which one he prefers it be. I didn't come all this way to be my own evil twin's lucky 5000th victim.

If Asi's watching him for a reaction, though, it's not hard to see the exact moment the implication of her two on one comment sinks in. For a moment — just a moment — his smile falters and dies… but then the moment's passed and it's back again, sadder but not without understanding. She saved his life once… but this isn't her fight. She's good people, but she isn't Aces, and it's not fair to her for him to keep leaning on her like she was.

God that hurts.

Silas takes a drink of his water to buy himself time to get his expression together, and listens intently when Kain starts to speak. An eyebrow rises at hearing Kain's nickname for Richard — that one's too damn good. As is his nickname for Asi, come to that. I'm Punchy, she's Shooty. Get Kain a nickname and we'd have our very own knockoff Three Stooges, Silas thinks to himself dryly.

"Yeah… bringing the cops in would be a nightmare. Private security too, for that matter. Too easy for someone to get spooked and put a bullet in the wrong target," he says, nodding to Kain.

He frowns a bit at the mention of gas, though. "Taking away his little disappearing act is gonna be necessary if we want to beat him, yeah," he says, frowning as he thinks. "But…" Silas's frown deepens as he remembers how fast his counterpart had moved when Asi had drawn on him. "I'm not sure I'd want to have a firefight in a gas cloud with that guy, though; even without his trick, he's damn good. And he's not recovering from a triple gutshot, either," he says, giving Kain a worried glance.

"Cameras or the like might work to help pin him down, too. Or unusual sense types…" he muses.

Asi's visual attention sticks to Silas for some time without comment or acknowledgement of his reactions— though a knowing, derisive glance is sent the Cajun's way when he fumbles with describing where he'd encountered negation gas. Little does she knows she's utterly wrong with assuming it was the same place Silas came from. A thoughtful frown passes after Kain's black market question before she looks back to Silas, keying in on his description of the 'disappearing act' his doppelganger was able to pull.

"If it's an illusion or some other kind of mental tampering, cameras could work. Then again, what about using infrared?" Her arms come to a fold before her, thumb brushing the leather of her jacket. "Negation gas is highly illegal and essentially out of manufacture, but negation darts … slightly more accessible. Combine goggles with a good shot and you get the same effect as the gas. Perhaps."

She looks back in Kain's direction, thinking for a moment. There's disappointment in her voice as she explores the nuance of their potential assets. "Raytech's security forces took a major hit in January, or it might be worth leveraging them. Their chief of security, actually…"

And she trails off, just like that. Her gaze slowly swivels back to Silas, a surprised expression on her face. She's almost looking through him, running through a scenario mentally with him as her focal point. "… that could work." Asi voices in a slow murmur. Her muted reaction to her own idea is exceptionally unlike the Asi Silas is familiar with; no quiet bluster and bravado and patting her own back. Not yet, anyway. Or maybe not at all. When she speaks again, she's still clinical, distant.

"BOOM could work." she repeats at a more easily-understood register. She comes back to the present and refocuses to Silas again, looking him in the eye this time. "There is a small group I would trust with this. Three people. They would be bold enough to both buy in and make the plan succeed."

Her confidence is slightly less as she looks back to Kain, a key detail held in mind. "I am not certain where my goodwill extends with all three currently, but they might be willing to take the case anyway."

“Ah’ve seen them drugs in action,” Kain drawls, arms crossed over his chest, “they're good but slow actin’. The gas is immediate, laws be damned. Ah’ ain't about t’worry m’self over illegality when we’re here plottin’ a murder.” Kain looks between Silas and Asi. “That is what we’re plannin’, right? Because we sure as shit ain't gonna turn his smiley-ass over t’ th’ cops.”

Starting to pace around again, Kain looks down to the floor. “But… maybe we’re barkin’ up th’ wrong tree here.” Asi clearly had the technological aspect locked down, so Kain focuses on one of his strengths: people. “Silas, you remember Ling Chao?” It's somewhat rhetorical, Ling Chao is hard to forget. “She popped back up a few months ago, we’re still in touch. Maybe that smoke we need…” he raises one brow, “is a smoke mimic.”

Silas frowns thoughtfully as Asi offers suggestions, but he doesn't speak. Not yet. He's seen that look on that face before… but it's not followed by any gleeful crowing or cocksure bluster. Blue ON1, to Aces' red… he thinks to himself with a tinge of amusement and no small amount of hopefulness as he watches her run the numbers on whatever it is she's cooked up. He arches an eyebrow at her mention of 'BOOM'. Blowing up a building on him would probably do the trick, but… he starts to think, only to trail off as he realizes that he can't really come up with an objection to follow that 'but'. It probably isn't overkill and they probably could get the explosives, and they probably could find a spare building, leaving him with nothing beyond a general sense of concern.

Luckily that doesn't seem to be the kind of BOOM Asi is talking about; apparently BOOM is a group. Wonder if Dagger's one of these BOOMers? he thinks idly; he remembers Dagger implying they were with Asi in Japan.

Silas's expression shifts into a deeply troubled frown at Kain's words… though the Cajun's mention of Ling being alive wipes it cleanly away. Silas sits up straight, eyes wide, his aching guts forgotten for the moment. "Are you shitting me?!" he asks, expression brightening into a huge grin. Silas hadn't been super close to Ling, but she'd been one of them… and she'd been someone who hadn't made it to Sunspot. "That's great, Kain!"

He laughs… then glances over to Asi. His grin fades a little as he composes himself, but hints of it still seem to linger at the corners of his mouth, and in his eyes. "Ling was with us on the trip that brought us here," he says. "She was one of the ones who didn't make it through, though. I thought she was…" And here that smile fades, replaced for a brief moment by a thousand mile stare as he remembers that last, eerie leg of the trip, through the backstage of reality and across the scope of possibilities. "…lost," Silas finishes, suppressing a shudder.

Then he laughs, eyes turning back to Kain. "I'm glad to hear she made it. And I'm certainly not gonna say no to good help." And being able to turn into smoke when someone shoots you is a pretty good trick, too, he thinks. His gaze turns to Asi. "That goes for your BOOMers, too. If they're willing, and if you think they're up to this, I'd be happy to have 'em."

With that said, a thoughtful frown steals over his face. There are some things that need to be covered here, while he's got the steam for it, and the first of them is his evil twin's disappearing act. Silas doesn't really like talking about his trick that much — because it gets a lot harder to capitalize on putting the whammy on someone when they know what the whammy is and how it works — but here it might be the difference between life or death. For this one time, then, it might be alright for the magician to reveal his secret.

"As to my evil twin's disappearing act… assuming his trick's the same as mine — and I've seen no evidence to suggest otherwise — then I can shed a little light on how it works," he pronounces. "It is mental… but it's not exactly an illusion. Not really. It's like… if you're driving down the road, and you come up on a stoplight, and you only realize it's red about three seconds before you rear end the car in front of you. It's not that you're blind or anything, it's just it doesn't register. That's the trick he can pull. He's not really even invisible, just… unnoticeable." He shrugs, a bit awkwardly; there are a couple of other explanations he can offer, but this one is probably the most concise and helpful. "Goggles probably wouldn't work, because you're still seeing him, just in funny colors. Weird sense types — like, the really weird ones — take a little longer to figure out how to mess with. Provided he's not already run into them, anyway."

That's the easier of the two points dealt with; with that, his attention turns back to Kain, his troubled look returning. He starts to speak once, then frowns and falls silent. "No," he says after a moment. "We're not planning a murder."

He raises a hand placatingly. "If it comes to that, then so be it. But if we can take him alive without anyone else getting killed… there's a couple of good reasons to at least try for that." Silas lowers the hand he'd held up, now raising a finger on the other hand instead. "First… if this guy's been killing ever since he dropped off the radar — and I'll bet you cash money he has — then he's been doing it silently. Given how busy he was before he went quiet… there's probably a lot of bodies he's put in the ground, and probably no one has a damn clue. He's the only one who can shed light on that." He raises a second finger. "And, from a practical standpoint… if he's been killing people, then someone's probably been paying him to do that. I want to know who it is before all the rest of their guys come knocking at my door with high explosives."

There are personal reasons, too, of course. Questions that Silas wants to ask that only his evil twin can answer… but be damned if he's going to throw someone's life away just for that.

Silas's excitability always takes Asi off guard. His joy is noted with a blink from her, filing away the name Ling Chao, because it's one she'll need to get acquainted with. When he goes on to invite 'her' 'BOOMers' along on their plot, she takes a moment to mentally go through the unspoken thought of 'no, Boomer is in California, but' without actually voicing it. It's a detail that they wouldn't appreciate, likely, not knowing either BOOM or Boomer, as Eve called her.

Asi's semi-permanent state of not sure what to make of Kain Zarek Leblanc doesn't abate with his latest string of comments. Maybe her arm would be twisted to call in a favor for this one. She only had so much money left, Kain certainly wouldn't help foot the bill, and her own endeavors weren't exactly cheap. When Kain goes on to insist murder is the only option, she can't exactly disagree, but she looks back to Silas anyway for his confirmation of their goal.

A small smile tugs at the corner of her mouth when he states their course. It's fleeting, gone in a flash, but it was there at all.

It leaves her to ponder everything he's said about their shared ability, and about potential backdoors to it. "Sensory manipulation," she supposes out loud, though that doesn't feel right, either. She doesn't have the words for it presently. But she does ask: "What is the range? Could we use that to our advantage?"

She takes a moment to level a glance back Kain's way. "I agree, for what it's worth. Knowing what might come after him after Mackenzie is dealt with is worthwhile. Capture and zodytrin.” Her brow lifts as she adds, “Not to mention, if he has one, collecting on his bounty would be a nice way to offset the cost of it all.”

Collect a bounty— what’re you Boba Fett?” Kain splutters in Asi’s direction, followed by a stressed drag of both hands through his short hair. “A’right, this is yer personal boogeyman, Smiles. You wanna gamble, Ah’m not gonna stop y’all from rollin' them dice. But me? Ah’d stuff a grenade down his pants and call it a day.”

But Kain relents, exhaling a sigh in defeat as he does, pacing around the apartment in contemplative frustration. “There's only a couple people on God’s green earth what might know anything else about this shit, but Ah’m not s’posed t’make contact with ‘em.” He eyes Asi, then Silas, not having missed that journey remark earlier.

“But Ah’m not useless. There's a couple people Ah’d like t’talk to, while you babysit,” Kain says to Asi with a motion in her direction. “An’ maybe you can track down one'a Danny’s old knives he used t’keep in a drawer fer’ a rainy day.” Circling back to Asi, Kain lowers his voice.

“Her name’s Kaydence Damaris.” There's a brief, warning, look given to Silas. “Hear tell she works for Yamagato Industries these days. Don't care how y’do it, but she’d know somethin’.” But then, swallowing down a little bile in the back of his throat he adds, “whatever y’do don't mention me at all.”

Silas nods to Kain; frustration or no, the fact that Kain's still in means a lot. "Thanks," he says quietly… though the image of stuffing a grenade down his evil twin's pants does provoke a twitch of a grin. His gaze grows a bit more intent as Kain brings up Kaydence, though; that warning glance the Cajun flicks his way is enough to tell him that he'd guessed right as to what had made Kain drop his beer that day on the boat, too.

But that glance is also enough to tell Silas that whatever story might be lurking there, Kain's not willing to part with it. Fair enough; the man's already going out on a limb to help him out, poking at whatever skeletons lie buried in his closet would be bad form. There is a certain dry irony in the tidbit about Kaydence coming full circle, though — from Asi to Silas, to Kain, back to Asi again. It really does all come back around, doesn't it? he thinks, settling back into his blankets.

Meanwhile, though, there's still Asi's question to answer. "Range… thirty feet?" His frown deepens. "Mm… maybe more like fifty." He gives Asi a slightly apologetic look. "I've got an idea of how far it reaches, but I haven't exactly measured it."

"It's not exactly sensory manipulation, though. It's more like…" he sighs. "There was this old radio show. It was old even when I was a kid, but there was this AM station that ran it, late at night. 'The Shadow', it was called; who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows… heh heh heh heh…"

Silas's ominous chuckling gives way to a single nostalgic chuckle. "The guy on it had the power to cloud men's minds; he could be right there and you wouldn't notice." He shrugs, looking a bit embarrassed. "That's how I always thought of it. Clouding minds. Like a fog rolling in off the sea, into a city, shrouding some of the lights." Which (he now realizes) is maybe the least useful information he could possibly provide, but oh well. Besides. If you screw this up, you won't have to worry about rambling anymore. Ever, he thinks to himself, prompting him to grimace and pull his blankets a bit tighter.

Asi lifts her shoulders in a shrug in reply to Kain's exasperation with her. At least it's mutual. She watches him pace with relative calm on her own part, not missing the glances. "Yes," she cuts in forcefully when Kain says he's not supposed to contact anyone from his old life. "The last thing we need is to face whoever would come after Kain Zarek, on top of all this."

It's subtle, but she's swung her way back into the 'we' of everything again. Was she ever really out?

Her own look darkens at the mention of Kaydence Damaris, a glance given to Kain. After everything that happened leading up to leaving Yamagato, and everything that's happened since, she's not entirely sure where she stands with Kay. But she almost certainly would be a good resource to leverage.

"Like I said," she reaffirms. "The last thing we need is for this drama to get bigger."

Looking back to Silas as he curls up on the couch, she hears his coherence and detail and then his mumbling, wondering where the split between injury and pain medication and himself lies in how he trails off. "We can work on a tighter plan while you're out. Kain." Asi suggests.

Sliding a tongue over the inside of his cheek, Kain offers a slow nod to Asi while regarding Silas with an askance stage. Breathing in slowly, he exhales a sigh and nods, then goes to retrieve his ratty winter coat from the hook by the door. “Ah’ won’t be gone long,” he glances back to Silas, watching him nervously. But there’s only so much comfort Kain can have in an arrangement like this, only so many blinds he can pull down at once before it’s suspicious how closed up the house looks from the outside.

“A’ight,” Kain murmurs, opening the door and stepping out into the hall. “Nobody worry their pretty little heads about me.” Is tongue in cheek enough to cover his discomfort.

“Ah’ve got this all under control,” Kain adds as he closes the door.

Some Time Later

Sheepshead Bay

NYC Safe Zone

The glow of the end of a cigarette tints Kain’s face a subtle shade of orange as he stares out at the coast. Here, not far from the roar of jets across the water in Floyd Bennet Airfield, the ocean laps up against a shallow, rocky shoreline. Snow has started to fall, dusting the ground and bringing with it a low fog that makes for the discrete arrival of small watercraft an easy affair. That’s what Kain’s here for, an easy affair.

Flicking his cigarette into the water, Kain watches as a black raft coasts in on the current with its motor off. The driver brings the draft up to the shore with the push of an oar, allowing the square-jawed man inside room to step out onto the snowy rocks with tentative footing.

Zarek,” he says with a narrow of his eyes, “I thought you said no public meetings?” He looks Kain up and down, eliciting a flare of the older man’s nostrils.

“We need t’talk about your attack dog,” Kain says in a guttural growl. The man stepping off the raft glances back for a moment, then slides a stern look at Kain. “Y’all didn’t tell me Redd was alive.”

Kain’s confidante shows nothing in his expression, but he moves off the shore and closer to Kain. “I suppose that makes us even then.” He looks Kain up and down. “Two dead men, tellin’ no tales.”

“I need a meeting with Gideon,” Kain demands. To which his contact shakes his head and clicks his tongue. “Don’t fuck with me, Ah’ ain’t in the mood for i— ” Kain’s words are swallowed behind the feeling of immediate strangulation. His feet rise up off of the snowy ground and eyes widen. The man he’d been speaking to takes another step forward, fingers on one hand crooked into a claw.

“Shut your mouth, Cajun.” He smiles, like a knife.


“Gideon wants a meeting with you.”

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