/simu/ - Simulacrum

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>Date: March 24th, 2017
>Location: Sanctuary City, Industrial District - Archeon HQ
>Time: 12:00 PM

"I'll get back to you later. Good to hear about your promotion."

>Aiden puts down the phone as he shuffles a bunch of papers around his desk. Internal assessments, performance indicator reports and general financial documents are then placed neatly into a manilla folder. As he does so, he checks his watch - seemingly unassuming in appearance. After denoting the dual hands pointing straight up, he then thinks to himself:

{"Good. Right on time then."}

>He then slowly stands up and adjusts his shirt as he looks around the office. Moving around his desk carefully, he then picks up a pair of keys. After getting a buttoned jacket from a nearby rack, he puts it on and walks out of the room.

>Time: 12:10 PM
>Location: Sanctuary City Highway

>As he drives his customized muscle car down the SC-10, one of the internal highway systems connecting the entire city, Aiden lightly taps the side of his right cheek with his right hand. Carefully directing the steering wheel with his other hand, his mind slowly begins to drift towards different subjects.


>As he slowly rounds another turn on the SC-10, he recognizes a distinct overpass. Remembering the past, he closes his eyes and sighs.

{"Right….The Ryozo guy."}

>Remembering his altercation with the masked assassin on the highway, Aiden's mind then refocuses on his main goal, going to see Hiyuki Hoyokazi.

"….Really hope she hasn't done anything with that thumb drive….."

>The car then continues barreling down the highway system, its engine roaring with sustained strength.


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>12:00 PM
>Hoyokazi Tower, Financial District

>Surprisingly, for a company the size of Hoyokazi Industries, Hoyokazi Tower itself is a rather modest addition to the skyline of the Sanctuary City financial district, dwarfed by the spires of the various banks headquartered in the city, and practically completely shaded by the UP "Hive", the modest nature of the tower hides the complex network of connections going in and out of the tower below ground, the building acting as a nerve centre for Hoyokazi's operations in North America.

>Near the top, in a sparsely decorated, but very large office, Hiyuki Hoyokazi stands in front of a laptop, the web camera on it pointing to her for a conference call.

"[I expect you to keep them in line while I handle our operations here, Hiroki.]"

"[Of course cousin, when have I ever let you down?]"

>The digitally translated voice of the other side seems to almost make it sound like they're smiling, somehow.

"[Twenty-two times, by my estimation. . .]"

>Another voice comes through from the other side of the line.

"[Is that Hiyuki? Hi Hiyuki! Make sure to smile while you're in America - I mean a proper smile, not the fake ones you usually use. It's good for-]"

>The sounds of a struggle on the other side come through as the original speaker comes back.

"[Formal tone, A-]"

>Across the room, a snort comes from a rakish woman, Kaiyo, lounging on one of the couches in the office.

"[I expect regular reports, now get to sleep, you have an early start tomorrow.]"

>Hiyuki closes the call and looks over to Kaiyo.

"[You can go distract yourself somewhere else if you're bored, you needn't stay.]"

>Kaiyo shrugs and takes out a small knife, twisting it around in her hand.

"[Very well then. . .]"

>Hiyuki takes a seat, turning to a second laptop on her desk and opening it, looking at a stream of information that passes by.

"{[Interesting information, but little usable for our ends, I should send him the original back when the backup is complete.]}"


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>As the sports car exists from the SC-10 and makes its way down a specific street, the skyline of the financial district becomes more visible to Aiden from his field of view.

{"….Never realized just how tacky that UP design looks."}

>Aiden's phone then rings as he looks at the automatic caller ID. He then reflexively groans as he answers the phone.

"What is it Phoebe? I'm busy."

>Silence from Aiden for a few seconds.

"I'm on lunch break, obviously. Where else?"

>Slight noise from the phone can be heard - denoting the loudness of the reply.

"You're overreacting. I'm just going to get the thumb drive, and I'll be back out."

>More silence.

"Except she didn't try to kill me - the guy in the mask did. Besides, I have a feeling she'd try something more subtle if she did. Fits her general…..'vibe' more, I'd say."

>The car then slowly drives up to the parking spaces outside of Hoyokazi Tower - with Aiden picking a spot perpendicular to the front doors.

"I'll be fine, Phoebe. When I'm done, I'll call you and Jonah both. We've got more important circumstances to discuss."

>Aiden then ends the call and then looks up at Hoyokazi Tower. He thinks to himself for a moment.

{"….What am I even doing here? I could've just stolen the drive and been done with it. Maybe I still should….."}

>Blinking, he now thinks rhetorically, he continues his thoughts:

{"….Yeah sure you could've. You know the real reason you're here. You're about as subtle as a brick through a window."}

>Aiden then begins to flip his phone through his fingers around his glove - instinctively and effectively without even looking at it. After a few moments, he then flicks a finger and starts typing a message with his hand to Hiyuki.

["I'm outside. I need to talk to you about the drive."]


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>In the office, Hiyuki's phone buzzes as it receives a message. Picking it up, she sighs.

"[Americans, no patience. . .]"

>Putting the phone down, she looks over to Kaiyo.

"[Escort our guest up, make sure he doesn't touch anything.]"

>With a smirk, Kaiyo stands up, putting the knife she was playing with away, and melts away into the shadows.

>Down in the lobby.

>Kaiyo appears out of what looks like nowhere behind Aiden, giving him a light tap on the shoulder. Nodding at him, she points upwards, then to herself, then shrugs and walks into the building slowly enough for him to easily follow her.


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>Blinking for a moment, Aiden then says to himself:

"….Nice to see you too Ninja lady."

>Aiden then walks forward, taking in the interior of the tower's lobby, as he thinks:

{"Just need the drive. Don't say anything you'll regret, Aiden. Keep focused."}


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>Kaiyo looks her shoulder at the comment, then opens her mouth for a few seconds and closes it in an exagerrated copy of talking, with no sound coming out the entire time. Once she's finished proving her point, she taps the button to call the elevator to go up.

>The trip up the building is relatively short, if rather awkward without the small talk to speed it along, and the pair soon find themselves walking into the office near the top of the building, Kaiyo making some hand motions that Hiyuki watches closely.

"[Of course you can, thank you for escorting him.]"

>Hiyuki turns her attention to Aiden as Kaiyo moves back to her chair from earlier.

"Assuming this is in regards to your loan, Mr Grayson, the answer is in fifteen minutes."


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>Aiden crosses his arms and glances around Hiyuki's apartment for a few moments. After doing so, he brings his attention and gaze back towards Hiyuki - stating:

"Take your time. I'm not exactly in a rush."

>Ruffling the back of his hair slightly, he then elaborates:

"Everything I needed the drive for more or less got resolved a week or two ago. So it's probably best if I just wipe the MRD data from it when you're done."

>Looking at Kaiyo sitting in her chair, Aiden then gets reminded of his other question.

"…..Also what exactly happened to your cousin again? The one who tried to cut my head off, that is."


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"He went home to reflect on his actions. Ryozo is well-meaning, but ill-suited to politics, he just needs reminding that he needs to think before he acts. . ."

>Kaiyo let's out a snort, an apparent approximation of laughter.

"[Be mindful of maintaining reputation, sister.]"

>Kaiyo rolls her eyes, looking at Aiden for a moment, then takes out a knife and some wood and starts carving.

". . .as I was saying, Ryozo is simply resting and considering his actions, I assure you that he won't attack you again."


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>Aiden crosses his arms again, but makes a gesture with one of his hands as he starts talking again.

"I don't have a problem with him having something to prove. He's not really skilled enough to fight me anyways."

>Aiden then looks more closely at Hiyuki for a moment, before stating:

"I only asked because I wanted to know what you ordered him to do - given how you seem to be the boss of your family. As long as he's not dead himself, I'm fine."

>A new thought crosses his mind for a moment, as he then says:

"….You haven't really seen much of the U.S. before have you? Even Sanctuary City I'd bet."

>Looking at Kaiyo for a moment, he then looks back at Hiyuki and states:

"..Are you and Kaiyo busy for the rest of the day or do you have time to talk more extensively? Preferably with some good cuisine."

>Aiden says, with a slightly sheepish and amused expression on his face.

"If spicy food is too much for you though, I get it."


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"If you are trying to measure if me and Ryozo are the same when it comes to our pride, I am afraid your experiment is a failure. That said. . ."

>Hiyuki removes a thumb drive from her laptop, and twists it around in her hand.

"I do 'owe you one', as you say here in America, so I will 'take you up on your offer', if it amuses you."

>Hiyuki offers out the thumb drive in her hand, where Aiden can easily take it.

"Of course, you could just simply take the drive and be done with us Hoyokazis, I do know you Graysons love to despise us. . ."


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>Aiden looks down at the drive in Hiyuki's hand, then looks back up at Hiyuki herself. Staring her right in the eyes, he then says:

"Keep it."

>Before Hiyuki can respond, Aiden then continues:

"You want to know if I really do trust you? That's how."

>Sighing and exhaling, he then looks off to the side and says:

"…I know you're not like her. People could confuse the two of you at a glance, sure. But you don't give off that same feeling."

>He then says:

"I don't really care about what your family's like anyways. I'm more interested in you specifically."

>Silence for a few moments as Aiden stares at Hiyuki intently before snapping back to attention.

"….Oh and, since I asked….do you have any restaurant you're interested in? Kind of food you've been wanting to try?"


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"Many say I am the refined version of her, you know."

>Hiyuki flicks the drive off to Kaiyo, who moves her arm in a swift and robotic fashion, slicing the drive in two without looking at it before getting back to her carving.

"Honestly, I have no idea what the cuisine in the city is like, I typically have my own staff cater for me. But Kaiyo has mentioned an item called a 'burger' that she wishes to try."


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>Somewhat surprised, Aiden then says:

"Huh, I guess burgers aren't part of a balanced diet in Japan…..Fair enough. We can go get you both one to try."

>Aiden then looks at Kaiyo for a moment, then back at Hiyuki before saying:

"….Well, let me know when you're both ready to go. Then you'll get to see why we Americans love food so much."

>As he looks through the list of restaurants he's visited in the past on his phone, Aiden looks back up at Hiyuki, stating:

"I also appreciate the fact that you've kept my 'secondary occupation' under wraps. No really, I do appreciate that."


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"Your secrets are our secrets, Mr Grayson, as we say in the Hoyokazi family. It serves little purpose to tell the world about your inclinations."

>Kaiyo finishes her carving, blowing off any loose dust from it, and offers it out for Aiden to take.

"A gift from my sister, it seems."

>Kaiyo turns the carving around to reveal a simplistic carving of a dog.

"A hobby of hers, children in the Hoyokazi family are encouraged to hold multiple disciplines."

>Hiyuki closes her laptop.

"Take it, I haven't ordered her to kill you, and if I had, I would ensure that she did it far away from anywhere that would implicate me."

>Hiyuki smiles, a fake smile with no emotion behind it in her bespectacled eyes.

"Simply a macabre jest, I detest needless death. But I am ready to leave when you are."


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>Aiden looks at the carving in Kaiyo's hand and picks it up. Carefully examining it, he then says:

"Pretty good angles and control over indentations. The markings aren't too deep either. Texture's properly maintained as well. Not bad."

>He then gives Kaiyo a slight nod.

>Looking back at Hiyuki he then says:

"You know you don't have to smile when you don't want to. I'm not exactly a business partner here. Just someone trying to reach out to you instead."

>Checking his watch, Aiden then says:

"Sure, we can leave. I'm guessing you have a security detail besides your sister too?"


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>Hiyuki seemingly ignores the comment on smiling.

"No. Kaiyo is all I need."

>Kaiyo gives Aiden a look that appears to say "of course".

"With that handled, if you would lead the way?"


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>Aiden nods and looks at both of the Hoyokazi women, stating:

"Sure, why not? There's a specific place I had in mind - not crowded at all, and it's good that you agreed to it."

>Aiden turns around to leave, as he says:

"Because I already bought the place."

>Time: 12:30 PM
>Location: Sanctuary City - Downtown Section

>Aiden sits at a table in a small restaurant - across from both Hiyuki and Kaiyo. The restaurant is a relatively new pop-up in the city, and a local establishment as to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to them both. Even so, the entire restaurant was booked for roughly an hour in advance. True to his word, virtually no one is present, as Aiden had instructed personnel to give them privacy for an hour or so.

>Picking up his soft drink, Aiden takes a quick sip of it; his drink being a concoction with a dark red hue - presumably a mixture of cherry flavor and soda. As he does so, Aiden takes a moment to stare Hiyuki in the eye with an inquisitive glance - a flicker of curiosity in the shape of his eyebrow's slight closure. Afterwards, he sets his glass down and looks at Hiyuki before saying:

"I'm not exactly going to bite. There's no real trick here, and I'm just wanting to know if you're liking the food so far."

>Aiden points at the bountiful buffet before them both - large baskets full of cooked meat, fried food and other delicacies - filled to brim and almost about to topple from their resting places. The aroma of well cooked bread and meat fills the air around the table, as Aiden looks over the food items.

"Steak, medium rare. Hot dogs, as you'd expect from what you've read about them, deep dark grill marks. Burgers, just well done with some slight grill marks as well. Also lightly salted, just like the french fries."

>Pointing down at the plate of neatly sliced grilled chicken before them - he then says:

"Also the chicken. I made sure to ask for that in smaller portions, since I'm not familiar with your taste palette, or your sister's."

>Aiden says, giving a glance to Kaiyo.

"So, what do you think so far?"

>Aiden says, as he gestures to the unmentioned food items, an assortment of: ham, gravy, vegetables, fruits and other cuisine items on the table as well.


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"The cuisine is certainly. . . richer than what I am typically used to."

>Hiyuki looks over the spread while Kaiyo quietly and carefully takes some fruit, bringing out her knife to peel and cut it.

"Oh, and apologies for Kaiyo, she cannot eat any of the meat products, nor anything garnished with specific herbs and spices, due to religious beliefs."

>Kaiyo shrugs, bringing a chunk of the fruit up to her mouth and putting it in.

"I am not the same, but you will have to forgive the small portion size I have compared to your servings, I am simply not used to the sizes you use here in America."


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>Aiden blinks for a moment before looking at Kaiyo.

"Sorry about that, Kaiyo. I'll ask the chefs to prepare something else."

>Aiden makes a gesture with his hand - signaling for the waitress in the other room to appear. While she's doing so, Aiden then says to Hiyuki:

"I'm not much of a connoisseur myself. When it comes to cooking, I really love that - but not so much eating."

>As he takes a small bite of a french fry in his fingers, he then looks back at Hiyuki and says:

"Anything you like to do when you're not working all the time?"

>Aiden says, curious.


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>Kaiyo shakes her hand to say something.

"Kaiyo will have to refuse, she is perfectly happy with the fruit."

>Kaiyo puts another chunk in her mouth.

"And I am afraid I do not understand your question, apologies for my deficiencies in your tongue. Are you asking if I have any hobbies or interests?"

"If so, I am afraid you will find me quite. . . boring, matters of business and family take up far too much of my time."


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>Aiden nods at Kaiyo for a moment before looking back at Hiyuki.

"Boring's refreshing, as far as I'm concerned. I'm much the same way."

>He then eats another fry on his plate as he gives a shrugs slightly with his shoulders. A sheepish, but reserved grin then appears on his face.

"I don't do much either, running a business is a lot more resource intensive than I ever imagined it would be. Assessing strategic plans, PR responses to small issues within different divisions. Managing core expansion plans and setting the guidelines for all company wide key performance indicators to strive for….."

>Aiden then sighs after finishing his french fry, looking down at his place while lightly resting his cheek on his hand.

"It's so much to think of, to consider. Then there's also the factor that middle management also look up to me for guidance and morale boosting. 'What do we do about the possible data breach at our partner company, Aiden?' 'What about the potential lawsuits from disgruntled workers?'."

>He speaks in a slightly exasperated and exaggerated tone of voice, with a different inflection point to emphasize the shrewdness of the statements. Afterwards, he then returns to his normal cadence and tone of voice as he talks.

"People expect so much of me - and I'm lucky that I can even give them the right answers. But it can't always just be about looking to me for answers. I have a life that I want to live as well - and I don't want to spend every waking moment worrying about the family business."

>Aiden then sighs again as he moves a strand of hair from the front of his face.

"I want to be able to pick up my old hobbies again. I love cooking, like I said before. I really love the guitar. Building my mini inventions as a kid was fun too. I just want to be able to do all of that again……"

>Aiden, still resting his head on his hand, looks up at Hiyuki with the same wistful expression on his face - almost in a daze as he looks on, with a softer tone of voice to his upcoming statements.

"….But most of all? I just want to spend more time with the people I care about."

>Unaware of the honesty of his statement, he just continues looking at Hiyuki with a wistful expression on his face - almost one of desire and wanting.


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>Hiyuki picks up a fry with her fork, biting into it carefully and tentatively.

"Mr Grayson, if I didn't know any better, I would venture that you are trying to court me."

>Hiyuki spears another fry carefully and slowly eats it.

"Although my suitors typically go through a more formal process."

>Kaiyo chortles in the background


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>Aiden blinks for a moment as he realizes what he's done. Sighing again, he then says:

"Oh no. I doubt I'd ever be that lucky to marry you."

>He says, as a matter of fact. Taking note of Kaiyo's amused response, he then says:

"I suppose that I am at least honest - maybe too honest for my own good."

>Aiden is silent for another moment as he then raises his head. The waitress then appears with food for Kaiyo before quickly leaving. Aiden then resumes his speech:

"….But yes, you do mean a lot to me. I'm not going to lie about that. I….I don't honestly know why, but you do."

>Aiden looks away, cursing under his breath as he feels his cheeks turn red.


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>Kaiyo chortles again.

"What Kaiyo means to say is, the honesty is appreciated, those who typically try to put themselves forward as suitors are not so forthcoming."

>Hiyuki shoots Kaiyo a glare, and she stands up to leave the room.

"But I am afraid your feelings are likely for a false image of me, we all must maintain public images - especially those of us with more to prove thanks to the circumstances of our birth."

>Hiyuki puts her fork down, giving Aiden another fake smile.

"I cannot be the strong woman to fill the hole in your life like you seemingly want, I barely have the strength to keep my family from tearing itself apart."

>Hiyuki takes her glasses off for a moment and wipes them with a cloth without really looking.

"I only tell you that because I know there is little you can do to exploit that, no matter how much your family may wish to do so. I do not have the unbridled ambition and strength of my mother that attracted your father - and you, I suspect."


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>Aiden looks genuinely surprised for a moment before he takes a moment to collect himself. Still sitting upright, he rests his hands on his elbows in a crossed fashion as he looks intently at Hiyuki. After a few more moments, he then says:

"You're stronger than you think, for getting this far in your life - on your own. Don't ever discount that, or sell yourself short, Hiyuki."

>He then looks Hiyuki in the eye more intently, as his demeanor becomes more encouraging in nature:

"I'm not here to get anything from you. I meant that when I said it earlier at your tower - I don't care what your family is like, because I'm only interested in you as a person."

>Then at the mention of her mother's name, Aiden instinctively feels his teeth grit ever so slightly as he slowly looks away.

"….I'll admit, a part of me wants to say that your mother did some really horrible things - and she broke my dad's heart."

>However, Aiden slowly brings his gaze back to Hiyuki, still looking at her intently.

"….But you are not Katsumi. I can see it, and I can get a good picture of your own sense of ambition and desire. You want to help people in your own way - and you've been trying to prove to yourself that you can be better than she was. But you've already done that."

>Aiden, not even thinking and now acting out of instinct, places a hand on Hiyuki's own as he finishes his statement:

"That's what makes you so meaningful to me. You're doing everything that you can - and you're holding so much on your shoulders. But you don't have to do that alone. Because I-"

>Aiden then hesitates, as he feels his heart rate increase for the first time in a very long time.

"….Because I love you, Hiyuki. Regardless of what happens."


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"I. . . see. . ."

>Hiyuki carefully puts her fork down and stands up.

"While the food was delicious and it was interesting to learn more of your cuisine. . ."

>Hiyuki indicates for Kaiyo to approach her.

"I am afraid I cannot answer your feelings currently, I am sure you are a wonderful man, but I simply do not know you."

>Hiyuki gives Aiden a forced smile.

"So as it is, my answer is no, but that it is not a complete denial, I do wish to speak to you again, and perhaps one day. . ."

>Hiyuki pauses for a moment, thinking over her words.

"Perhaps one day the answer will be yes, but that day is not today, not after only two real conversations."

>Kaiyo puts her hand on Hiyuki's shoulder, and shadows begin to rise around the two.

"Still, I wish you the best of luck."

>Kaiyo and Hiyuki disappear in a cloud of shadow, the only indication of their presence being the thumb drive lying where they once sat.


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>Aiden looks down at the drive for a moment before sighing again.

{"Nice job, Grayson. Can already hear Phoebe laughing at that."}

>As he stares at the drive for a few more moments, his mind bounces between embarrassment and self-criticism. Afterwards, he takes the drive and begins flicking it between his fingers.

{"Some debonair man you are."}

>Now taking the time to look at his phone, he finally sees the messages sent through text, 3 different messages from 3 different people.

>Aiden reads the first message:

["Phoebe - 'Done wasting your time yet? Whenever you're done, we need to talk to Jonah about the plan to find the labs."]

["Dani - "Hey Aiden, been a while. Still thinking about that business offer my company gave Archeon? Call me when you're free."]

["Damian - 'Need to talk. Situation appeared in Hydroponics. It's more Humour shipments"]

>Aiden's eyes reflexively widen at the last message from Damian, as he knows the implication.

"….Not again. I thought I told him to leave the country."

>Aiden mutters under his breath, his mind now racing. Looking back at the drive, he then pockets it in his jacket; then he stands up and puts his phone away, turning his attention to the staff in the kitchen.

"You guys can close up for the day, I'll cover the operational costs. Thanks for setting this up for me on such short notice."

>Nodding at them, Aiden then turns around and leaves the shop - rapidly considering his options.

"If he's not going to leave the city, then I'm going to have to push him out and keep him out."

[The End]

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