Prologue Patchwork Lives Blue Phoenix was a perfect headquarters for many of the same reasons the Koneko had been; a small, moderately busy venue on the outskirts of a centralized business and entertainment quarter of the city- though in Aya’s opinion a bar was infinitely more suited to clandestine meetings and far less suspicious than a flower shop. Full circle and back to serving drinks... And while San Francisco gave Tokyo a run for its money in ‘studio’ apartments at least he had his own place separate from his day job this time. You could have afforded something a little roomier than this closet though- honestly sometimes I think you deliberately set these jokes up- Aya washed two codeine down with the rest of his beer and slumped back into his couch, reveling in the quiet. His apartment was on the seventh floor and half a block from the Blue Phoenix, he could see both entrances of the bar from his one window, and had only two doors, the front door and the one to the bathroom. It went a long way towards appeasing his paranoia. He must have slept- the buzzing of his phone woke him sometime around three in the morning and he tried to remember what time it was in Japan. “Weiss.” “Prodigy. My apologies the Director couldn’t call you himself. You received the files.” It wasn’t a question. “It’s not much to go on.” Aya rubbed his eyes. “I’ve been in contact with Escritoire; she’s remained in connection with Komar, and she’s been using a self-deleting encryption to email the others. The meeting is scheduled for the Blue Phoenix in two days- Keys is flying in from Mexico- will the Director be live for orientation?” “Yes.” Aya paused, leaning forward carefully to flip through the folder on his coffee table. “I have some reservations about The Ego. I’m looking at six agents who’ve vanished trying to bring her back in.” “We’re aware of this. The Director believes now that things have settled she will be more inclined to return to the organization.” “She’s a psychopath.” Aya said flatly. “Why hasn’t she been turned over to the police?” “Sociopath. And at this time there is not enough evidence to prosecute The Ego for her crimes. Also, she is too valuable. For not being Talented, she is the best in her field.” “You’re sure she isn’t Talented?” “I.. Yes. We… The Rose and Cross investigated her some years before the former Director picked her up for The Critical Eye. The scans were clean. Even if that has changed, we still believe you are the best choice to make contact with her now.” “Speaking of which.” Aya snarled. “Tell your mother if he doesn’t shut up and let me sleep the truce is void.” There was silence on the line for the length of a sigh. “I will speak to him.” Aya hung up and glanced over the information Omi had been able to piece together on what remained of Kritiker’s west coast operations. The survivors. Keys- Frank Hector- had been successfully extracted from the situation in Mexico and Aya was meeting him at the airport tomorrow to set him up with a new residence in the city. Komar and Escritiore, Dimitriev and Bianchi respectively, knew of the time and location of the meeting at Blue Phoenix… Aya had had Bianchi email a generic flier advertising the bar’s hours to Briggs, coded to get past her spam filer and delete itself an hour after it was opened- Even if she printed it, the only tell it was from Kritiker was the Eye watermark at the bottom of the advert. Confirmation of other surviving agents was still… pending, but the world does not stop turning because we, for a moment, are overcome. It was time to get back to work.