In Search Of Aria...


aria_icon.gif cat_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif felix_icon.gif

NPCs by f_niles_icon.gif

Scene Title In Search Of Aria…
Synopsis … Because Cat has a message for her.
Date April 27, 2009

Greenwich Village

In a time that seems long ago, Greenwich Village was known for its bohemian vibe and culture, the supposed origin of the Beat movement, filled with apartment buildings, corner stores, pathways and even trees. There was a mix of upper class and lower, commercialism meeting a rich culture, and practically speaking, it was largely residential.

Now, it's a pale imitation of what it used to be. There is a sense of territory and foreboding, as if the streets aren't entirely safe to walk. It isn't taken care of, trash from past times and present littering the streets, cars that had been caught in the explosion lie like broken shells on the streets nearest the ground zero. Similarly, the buildings that took the brunt of the explosion are left in varying degrees of disarray. Some are entirely unusable, some have missing walls and partial roofs, and all of the abandoned complexes have been looted, home to squatters and poorer refugees.

As one walks through the Village, the damage becomes less and less obvious. There are stores and bars in service, and apartment buildings legitimately owned and run by landlords. People walk the streets a little freer, but like many places in this scarred city… anything can happen. Some of the damage done to buildings aren't all caused by the explosion from the past - bullet holes and bomb debris can be seen in some surfaces, and there is the distinct impression that Greenwich Village runs itself… whether people like it that way or not.

The IFC Center in Greenwich Village is deserted of patrons midday, but not of staff. The early show starts at 6:45, so teenagers and college staff mill around and prepare for indie film buffs to arrive. The Lives of Others isn't playing yet. Tonight it's Into The Wild at the early show and a piece of French experimental film at the late.

She's alert as she approaches, her eyes moving around to take in all the details of the place. "This is it," Cat says to the officer with her. Her first move is memorizing the exterior just by looking at it, determining if the place has an outside kiosk for buying tickets or if that's done in the standard way just inside the doors. She is also looking for the woman from that vision.

"Thanks for coming," she offers.

Elisabeth walks along next to Cat, and she smiles faintly. "No worries. Not like I've got anything major going today." She glances around the theater thoughtfully. "I'll be surprised if we turn up much," she admits to Cat. "But you never know. Following up on it is the only lead we've got so far."

Four glass doors, the ticket point inside. Cat steps up to one of them and pushes/pulls it open, then holds it for the blonde. Once they're both on the interior, she takes a look around to see if the blue haired woman is in view and if not approaches the person closest to them.

Liz is mostly along for the ride — she can't see what Cat saw, so she's primarily an extra set of eyes and ears, looking for anything that strikes her as odd.

There's no blue-haired woman to be found, just a handful of employees and a man who approaches them briskly. He's got spiked hair and a pair of bright red, plastic-framed glasses. "Yes, can I help you ladies?"

"Sure," Cat says to the man. "Do you sell tickets in advance, dude?" She adjusts the guitar case over her left shoulder to handle its presence better while speaking, then shifts the backpack on the other side. "We're thinking of checking out The Lives Of Others when it starts Thursday evening. I ran into someone who I think works here at a vendor where I saw the ad, she said she's seen it before and it's really good, but I can't remember her name. Her hair was streaked with a lot of blue."

Elisabeth merely looks over the man quietly, letting Cat do the talking.

The man, whose nametag reads 'Luke,' seems a little disappointed at what they're here for. He was hoping they wanted to book one of the theatres for a special show. "Oh. Well, the ticket booth opens in an hour. You can buy in advance if you want, but I doubt the shows are going to sell out. And as for a girl with blue hair - no, she doesn't work here."

A kid behind the counter perks up. He's got a skunk streak of white through his black hair. "Hey, you mean Aria?"

"Thanks, Luke," Cat replies, showing him a grateful smile. Then she turns to the one with skunk streakage. "I think that was her," she remarks, adding "But I can be terrible with names, y'know? Forget them all the time. Is there a way I can maybe find her? When we talked at the newspaper vendor we both had something that looked similar, and I think we got switched."

A hopeful expression, one saying please please help me, comes over her features.

Elisabeth wants to laugh at Cat's act. She really does. Because in her mind, it's kind of overkill. But she asks curiously, "Do you know her?" of the kid behind the counter.

"She's a cool girl. Think she lives in the Farm. Last name's something German. Maybe tutors down at the language center. Think she said that once." The kid sounds a bit stoned. He scratches at the side of his head and squints at the two of them. "Berlin or something." He means Berlitz.

"Sorry ladies, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave. Frankie, please finish cleaning the machines." This tone is longsuffering. Luke looks over the top of his glasses.

"Sorry Mr. Luke. Uh, what's your name? I'll tell Aria you were looking for her if she comes by."

"Thanks, Frankie," Cat answers with a nod. "I'm Joan." Then she turns back to Luke. "Got it, dude. No worries." She turns for the doors and starts to make her way out, saving any further conversation for once they're outside the theater.

Elisabeth shrugs easily to Luke and grins sympathetically at his tone. "Have a good day," she tells him. And when she and Cat are outside, she starts to chuckle. "Wanna tell me what that was all about? I mean… really."

Frankie lifts a hand towards Elisabeth and Cat, but another look from Luke sends him scurrying back to the popcorn machine.

"What was what all about?" Cat asks once the pair are outside. "So the woman we're looking for might be a German speaker. I don't think there's one called Berlin. Probably Berlitz, and she lives in the Farm. Is that the trailer parks just outside the city?" Her expression has become pensive.

"Yeah, Jefferson Farms. The source of a bunch of things weird." Elisabeth considers. "If she's living down there, you may have better luck checking that out without me. I'm not like immediately known, but I've had to be down there a fwe times asking questions, so some people know I'm a cop. And they're not too well-disposed toward cops lately. But I can check out the language center — if she's tutoring immigrants or something, she might be pretty easy to track down."

Nodding, Cat replies "I might check out the language center too." A laugh follows, her words after spoken quietly enough for only the officer to pick up. "If I weren't rich, I could easily work there myself as a tutor. So I'll check both of them out and get back to you with what I learn?"

Elisabeth chuckles at her friend and nods. "All right, then, I'll leave you to it. If you want me along for the ride, just let me know. I need to check into the office for a while." She grins. "Just got the news that I passed the exam," she adds to Cat. "Later!" She turns and waves over her shoulder to Cat, heading off to work for a living.

Time passes, but not that much.

Financial District

In spite of itself, New York's financial district has weathered these tough times like it has other crisis' in the past. The neighborhood and it's people certainly aren't a strangers to them. The Financial District has its own scar, and it's own Ground Zero, though from an admittedly earlier tragedy. While the memorial to the September 11th attacks stands out amidst the skyline of this hub of New York's commerce, it is a wound that the city learned to survive, just like the events of November 8th.

Despite it's proximity to the fallout area and the Red Zone, the Financial District has bounced back onto its feet well. Public and private corporations funneled billions of dollars into the economy of the neighborhood to ensure that Wall Street didn't collapse along with the remainder of New York's heart. This multi-billion dollar effort was not without obvious results, and this neighborhood of New York is almost exactly as it was before the Bomb. While the western edges of the borough at Battery Park City were temporarily evacuated during the initial fallout scare, this region hasn't seen the dive in property values or spike in crime as strongly as other similarly hit areas such as Staten Island and Queens has.

Buildings in the area look well-tended, the city streets are kept clean, and the NYPD has a strong presence here. Overall not much has changed in the local attitude since the Bomb happened, save for the jagged northern skyline, and how the neighborhood slowly begins to degenerate in condition the further away from City Hall and Wall Street you go.

After that interval, Cat is approaching the offices of Berlitz in the Financial district. It's still the middle of the working day, so she surmises Aria may be there instead of at home. The door is reached, she opens it and goes inside.

Once upon a time, Berlitz had some great facilities. But after the bomb, the company downsized considerably and moved into an office building vacated by a business that pulled out of the city entirely. Everything's fairly shabby, but Cat's greeted with a smile from the woman behind the desk.

"Yes, can I help you?"

"I'm interested in learning German," she tells the woman who greets her, showing a calm expression. "Do you have any classes I can join?" Cat lets her eyes wander a moment or two before settling again on the receptionist.

"Mmm, not a very popular course these days," says the receptionist. She types something into the computer and squints at the records. "We've got a few German teachers, but they mostly coach immigrants in English. Were you looking for a classroom setting, or one on one?"

"One on one," Cat replies smoothly. "I know a few people who've taken your courses, and they recommended a tutor named Aria."

The receptionist can't quite hold back a bit of laughter, but she bites her lip. "Really? Well." She clears her throat and tries to smile politely. Seems she doesn't quite believe that Aria would come recommended. "Well. Miss Baumgartner's taking personal leave right now. A friend of hers was recently murdered. Did you see it in the paper? Horrible business. Electrocuted. They don't know how. Anyway. She won't be back for a few more days. I can schedule an appointment for Monday?"

"Oh," Cat replies, raising a hand to cover her mouth. "I… I'm sorry to hear that. Oh, God, I'm sorry." Her eyes close for a few moments, and her head dips. "I. I'll try back on Monday. Thank you for your time."

Then she turns to go, and heads for the trailer park.

More time passes enroute to the Farm.

Thomas Jefferson Trailer Farm

Before the bomb, this was Thomas Jefferson Park. Some of it still is, stretches of grass and trees that far fewer people visit than once did.

Some of it is not.

Faced with the sheer number of people displaced from their homes after the bomb, but too stubborn - or without the means - to move from Manhattan, this is one of the many places the city and various federal agencies have given over to shelter the refugees. As such, what was once meticulously maintained greensward has been turned into dirt road and trailer lots. The grass has been worn thin by the repetitive passing of hundreds of feet. Trailers sit all but side-by-side, with room only for a car and perhaps a few chairs to be parked in between. Younger children run around underfoot, seemingly undeterred from their games; older ones might slink behind the trailers with hungry eyes, resentful of those who have more, while the adults seem more heart-weary and worn-down than not. These are the people who have nowhere else to go; some have jobs, but many do not, surviving on as little as possible. Alcohol and drugs are common; so is suicide, for those who have passed from desperation into surrender.

It just so happens that Cat arrives at the Trailer Farm just as the members of the community are beginning to gather around a little white trailer with yellow curtains in the far corner of the cluster of ramshackle homes. There's a group of about twenty five or so people. Many carry candles and wear long faces. Among them is a young woman with a bright pink hoodie and washed-out blue hair.

An older woman stands on the steps to the trailer. All around the base are candles, flowers, flanking the picture of a young Greek woman with short, dark hair and nose ring. Thea Barberis was known here, and she had many friends.

Felix is in his Look at Me, I am Totally a Guvmint Suit suit. Honestly, sometimes it's painful. He's appropriately somber, but not the least bit griefstricken. He knows this girl only in death.

She spots the gathering and heads toward it, but doesn't approach so closely as to draw attention to her yet, this twenty-something brunette of five feet and eight inches in the t-shirt and short skirt with backpack and guitar case across opposite shoulders. Cat opts instead to observe for a few moments, that decision reinforced when she spots the one with the blue hair. Her memory is consulted, the image from that vision instantly compared against the flesh and blood person in view.

In watching, she stands near a car parked a few trailers away from the assembled mourners.

Even as time passes, the gathering doesn't get much bigger. Thea is one of the forgotten. There was only a brief mention of her death in the newspapers. No one pays much attention when people die in the Farm.

Aria is standing next to a tall Italian with an angry scar across his face. All her attention is on the picture of Thea flanked by candles. Her gaze doesn't even shift when the woman standing on the fold-out steps begins to speak.

"Thea was…always such a bright and sunny girl. She enjoyed baking for the neighborhood and worked at the Blue Moon Diner. You might not have known her name, but everyone would recognize her smiling face." Despite the unconventional setting, the memorial proceeds as most do. Praise is heaped upon the deceased, words about being 'snatched in the prime' are uttered. There is an edge of politics to the whole proceedings. Harsh words for the police not only for the investigation, but for the many ills of the farm itself.

And Fel can't blame them. Not really, honestly. Cat, he recognizes, and she gets a distant, respectful nod…..but there's curiosity evident in the man's angular face. And after a little, as subtly as he can, he moves to her side.

The man is glanced at briefly when he stops next to her, and she speaks in a quiet voice, intending it to carry neither to the group of mourners nor anyone in the trailers closest to them. Her face has taken on a somber expression; seeing and hearing their expressions of remembrance triggers her own. Cat knows grief at first hand, her uncommon memory makes it more so for her than most.

"Afternoon," she greets, drawn from her memories by his presence. "You're looking into the one they call Thea being electrocuted?"

The memorial continues with individual members of the community coming up to say a few words. A few of the park's children lay bunches of dandelions or drawings. One is of a cupcake. Thea was baking when she was killed.

There is a rather defined group of twentysomethings forming off to the left. Among them is Aria, the tall Italian and a few others. Many have dyed hair, piercings and tattoos and clothing that is rough on purpose, not just because of wear.

"I am," Felix says, grimly, looking around. "Did you know her?" he wonders, flicking a sidelong glance at Cat. He definitely sticks out like a sore thumb, here especially.

"The one they're calling Thea? No," Cat replies. "It's the one called Aria, with the blue hair, and don't look at her, please," she asks in hopes he won't make her seem tainted by copness while they talk. "Funny thing: I met someone who passes visions of future events and spoke with him. The one I'm scoping out was in the vision. We were in a theatre, and she was dying. Bruises appeared on her throat and her lip split. She commented on irony of the last thing she sees being the lives of others."

"It just so happens a film by that name, at an art house she likes, starts Thursday evening."

The Fed is getting suspicious, hurt and angry looks from the gathered mourners. Cat's getting some of the spillover by virtue of the fact that she's speaking to him. But for the most part the people are polite and keep their attention on the woman running the service. The tall Italian keeps glancing their way in a vaguely threatening manner.

Felix pointedly does not look at the little cluster of mourners, face serene. "That's an excellent movie," he says, almost as an aside. "Brutal, but very well done. So, here to warn her? Prevent that death?"

"You know, you shouldn't come out here wearing a suit, ever," Cat deadpans. "Unless you're looking to be lynched. Strategy is at present undecided. If I can get close enough to speak with her, I may give warning. Given you investigating," she surmises, "you believe the one called Thea was murdered, and by their attitude so do they. So I have to wonder if the potential death of Aria Baumgartner is tied to that. Do they have a common enemy, or enemies?"

There's whispers amongst the young group, discussions punctuated by increasing glares in Felix's direction. But fortunately for the Fed, the service is still on. They have too much respect for their dead friend to start shit in the middle of it.

Felix slants a look at Cat. "That's the dresscode. I'm not undercover. Wearing a suit or not isn't going to save me. Yes. There's a pattern of similar deaths, in various places, which makes it our bailiwick, rather than the NYPD's," he says, calmly. "I don't know. This is the first I've heard of Aria Baumgartner."

She's said her piece on the agent's attire. It's his death to suffer. "I learned her name by doing recon. She works as a tutor at the Berlitz place in the Financial District. Kid called Frankie at the theater told me she's called Aria and works at the language center. The receptionist at Berlitz gave me the name Baumgartner."

Then she's silent to think.

"So the thing to do seems to be asking her if there might be a common enemy. If we can get her alone."

The cluster of twentysomethings give off the impression of being a gang, or at least a tight group of friends. Now that they're all assembled, no one is straying very far from the flock. The woman running the memorial motions towards them.

"And our hearts go out to the missing as well as those we know have passed. Marcus, Sammie, Niles. Those who have been forgotten by the system and have vanished somewhere in this dirty city. As sad as Thea's passing is, at least her friends have the comfort of knowing her fate."

The list of names causes visible bristling from the crowd. The tall Italian can't take it anymore. He dislodges from the group and goes charging towards the Fed. "What are you doing here, huh? You should be out looking for them, finding the killers, you fucker. Not hanging around here!"

"Gio, stop." But Aria's gaze narrows on the Fed even as she calls Gio back. She spits on the ground and mutters, "Drecksau," in his direction.

Felix doesn't flinch. He's used to considerably worse. "That's precisely what I'm doing. But I'll need your help. You were her friends, I know you want her killer brought to justice."

She'll remember it all, the list of names spoken, the tall Italian Aria calls Gio. And for the final confirmation Cat compares the woman's voice with the one speaking to her at the theater in her vision from Joseph. But from there she's at a loss, not quite knowing the details of Thea's murder. Electrocuted how, for one.

"I'm sorry for your loss, fraulein," Cat tells Aria. She's suffered loss, knows it all too well, this is plain on her features. I'm not with the police in any fashion, but I do know this man. He's not your enemy, but I don't expect you'll believe him. The only way he can achieve that is by solving the case. As with most things, nothing works better than proof."

The members of the group exchange looks with each other. For a moment it seems like Gio is going to surge forward, but a brief hand on his shoulder by one of the others draws him back.

Aria squints at Cat, then glances to Felix, then back to the woman. "We've seen it before. The way she died. But it makes no sense. And he wouldn't do that."

"Aria, don't talk to them, they don't give a f—"

Aria gives the kid who spoke a sharp look, then turns her attention back to Cat.

The memorial seems to have concluded. People start to move off or approach the cluster of candles and the photo to pay their respects to Thea.

"On the contrary, I do," Felix says, gently. "I'm here to find out who killed her and put that person away. Anything you can tell me, anything at all, would be helpful. From the eulogy, she sounds like someone who'd have few enemies, and little to steal. What do you know of her death? And you've seen others, before?"

Her eyes settle on the various people in the area as if assessing their likelihood to attack and moving on when they seem not so inclined, finally settling on Aria. Cat is quiet as she listens, until after Felix has spoken. In a plain voice she tells the German speaker "I have a story to tell you which may be found interesting. I can tell you here, or in private. Your call, fraulein."

Aria takes a moment to examine them both, like she's dissecting them with her eyes. Felix is given a dirty look. "Thea was a sweet girl. Her father disowned her when she got pregnant. Then she was hurt in the midtown explosion and lost her child. She took care of children here. Babysat so that people could try to work. We watched out for her and she for us. Because people like you do not, drecksau."

Then she turns her attention to Cat. Her face twitches and suddenly there's a voice inside her head. I don't trust this pig. But I will tell you. She was killed in a way that is very much like the power a friend of ours has. But he would never hurt her, and he disappeared a month ago.

From Felix's perspective, the silence and prolonged eye contact with Cat might seem odd. The others in the group seem to realize what's happening and eye the woman warily.

It doesn't take Fel long to clue in. "I want to stop what happened to her from happening to anyone else," he says, quietly, still refusing to take offense. "Who else did you know who died like she did?"

Innnnteresting. Cat meets the gaze of the blue-haired Aria calmly, and her head tilts to one side. She's had this experience a number of times. Telepaths in some cases, in another from Eileen Ruskin who claims she can only send, no receiving. Is Fraulein Baumgartner a telepath? Can she receive? There's a very proactive way to find out. Not a word crosses her lips.

Here's the story, Cat thinks in a way she expects to be easily picked up, In Greenwich Village there's a church, where Reverend Joseph Sumter works. He can give people visions of possible future events. I met him recently. Following that, she transmits images of the church exterior, the man called Joseph Sumter, and the church address. Then her thinking voice returns. Stay calm.

The whole vision she received, from start to finish, is called up into her mind's eye for Aria to witness herself.

Aria is indeed a telepath, and one who has a great deal of control. She doesn't read anyone unless she absolutely wants to. She tunes in as Cat makes it clear she's projecting and receives the other woman's thoughts. Silence falls and stays that way for several long minutes. Only after the whole thing has been relayed does she speak again.

"Mein gott," she says aloud. "What does it mean?" She sounds quite alarmed, but understandably so. It's not every day you receive a vision of your own death.

Felix is ignored for a good long moment, until one of the younger girls speaks up. "Niles Wight," he says. The others glare or shush her.

"But Niles would not do this. I know it. He was close to Thea." Aria's tone of voice pleads with them to believe her. "But it may be someone with the same ability."

Felix suggests, tone perfectly neutral, "Perhaps so. But you said you'd heard of other deaths by the same power?" He neglects to mention that your killer is most often someone you know.

Cat is still silent, choosing to speak with Aria solely in the telepathic plane. The clock being affected like that to me suggests the manipulation of time. One force trying to move forward, the other trying to turn it back, and the clock breaking under the strain. Given the metaphor of time, and you saying someone came back, it could be someone from the future. Or it could be entirely mundane. What grudge would Mr. Wight, or anyone with his ability, hold against you and Thea? Or a joint grudge of multiple people, since you don't seem to have been electrocuted in the vision?

"No," says the same girl who said Niles' name. "But we've seen his power and know what it does." Or rather, they have seen the people Niles has killed. But his friends are not about to tell a cop that he's a murderer. Not at this point in time though. Every single one of them will eventually turn on him, but that eventuality is five years or so in the future.

Aria keeps her eyes on Cat, a frown creasing her face. None that I can think. We are his friends. He's been missing for weeks now. We think the governent may have taken him, or someone killed him and disposed of his body. We know of no one who can manipulate time. A pause and she draws in a shaking breath. I want to go to the theatre on Friday. I will be ready for whoever it is. But if I do not go, then whoever it is may still come for me. At least this way I know where and when.

"And you haven't seen him, himself, in some while?" says Fel, in the faintly clipped tones that means English is being particulary difficult for the moment. Most likely because he's thinking in Russian. "When was the last you saw him?"

You do have the drop on whoever might come at you, Cat confirms. Telepathy is a very formidable tool when used proactively. I've seen it used to create illusions. If you can do so, you can perhaps make an attacker believe you die. The suit here will also know the show times of that film, and can prepare to deal with any attack on you, arrest the attacker or attackers.

She glances over at Felix, telling him quietly "I've got places to be." Projection returns when she looks at Aria again. I will probably find you again before then. If you want or need, I can show you places of safety.

Turning, Cat then makes to calmly leave the Farm.

"Some friends of ours saw him'n Marcus get grabbed and taken away," says the girl.

Gio sniffs and rubs at the side of his face. "I saw 'em. Fuckers in suits like yours took 'em. But all this shit's in your files somewhere, rotting away. We filed a report when they disappeared but no one gives a shit."

Aria nods to Cat's telepathic words. Then she steps forward and very genuinely murmurs, "Danke," and touches the woman's arm. And then, without another word telepathic or otherwise, she spins on her heel and starts to briskly move off. She seems to be something of a leader amongst the little group, because the other twentysomethings turn to follow. Only a few shoot fleeting venomous glances Felix's way as they go.

"With whom?" Felix says, quickly. "The police? Was it Homeland Security who came and took them?"

The only response Felix gets is a one-fingered salute held up behind his back as Gio moves off.

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