|Scene Title||Little Girl Lost, Old Woman Found|
|Synopsis||Jaiden and Elisabeth are working on setting up the Redbird Security Offices when Mika arrives, chased by MESSIAH members?|
|Date||August 18, 2010|
Description of location, if any.
The basement of Redbird Security Solutions has been specially prepared to handle the noise levels that are planned for the locale. There are still acoustic ceiling tiles that need to go up, but Elisabeth is working more on the makeshift firing range, turning it into a more permanent range. The rails are mounted on the walls to slide targets back and forth — that was done before we left for the Institute — but Liz is putting the final bolts into place to hold the bulletproof wall behind where the firing line will be. She's sweaty and has apparently been at this a little while, her clothes an old pair of cutoffs and a T-shirt well suited to sweaty or painting kinds of work. She glances toward the firing line and smirks faintly, watching the man she pressed into service to put the counter in place work. Mmmmm. He definitely has a cute behind.
Reaching up to wipe at the sweat on her forehead, Elisabeth watches him quietly also to ascertain how difficult moving is for him. She saw the mess of his back and how many stitches Young put in. "If you pop those stitches before they're supposed to come out, Young's going to kick someone's ass — and it'll probably be yours," she observes mildly.
The white under-armour t-shirt Jaiden wears doesn't show any signs of blood as he moves, just evidence of dirt and grime from lifting, bending and flexing, sliding on the smooth concrete floor to get beneath the firing line counter to countersink a couple of bolts to hold the heavy surface to the supporting structures. He's bent over at the waist presently, working on something on the other side, giving Liz a perfect view of his rear in shorts. When Liz gave him a call the previous evening, asking for his help in setting the range up, it took a little re-purposing of his schedule and a little extra work to get a car finished in time, but right at the appointed hour he was there, bag of tools in tow. He's dressed in the aforementioned Under-Armour t-shirt and a pair of cargo shorts, tied at the waist with a drawstring, pockets bulging with bits and bobs culled from different portions of the project - all stuff that can be used and probably will be. Boots on his feet and white socks complete the outfit.
He winces as he straightens, gingerly pushing himself up from the bench using his arms and the counter instead of his stomach and back, which pulls the stitches something awful. "Oh, I know. She gave me a poke in my backside that I wasn't expecting. I bet she could hold her own in a fight or two, too." He's favoring his right leg too, keeping weight on it, and as he walks, she may see a bit of a limp. Jaiden has been pushing himself for the past few days, helping out at the Nature Preserve when he wasn't keeping up appearances, and even having to deal with a robbery at a natural grocery store that he was having lunch at the previous day.
"The woman's a vet and she's been like head nurse of St. Luke's ER for years. If she can't put you on your ass and leave you wondering how the hell you got there, I'd be shocked and amazed," Elisabeth admits. "She's stitched me up a few times back when I was on the job," she says. She puts aside the socket wrench she was using to tighten down the last of her bolts.
"C'mon…. I could use a break. I left a cooler of water upstairs and I could buy you lunch if you're interested," Elisabeth offers with a grin as she climbs off the floor.
Okay, that sounds good, actually." Jaiden puts his wrench aside on the bench and, grabbing a bit of rebar that he's been using as a temporary cane, starts toward Elisabeth and the stairs upstairs. "A good lunch, a cold drink, and beautiful company. I don't think a bloke could ask for more after toiling in the darkness below."
Elisabeth smirks slightly. "You're good for my ego," she tells the Australian as she heads up the stairs with him. "I think we're almost done with the soundproofing for the range. Other than that, we just have to finish upstairs and then I think the apartments on the upper floors are the next on the agenda," she tells him. Stepping into the main foyer, which is set up as reception for the business, she is heading for a cooler behind the front desk.
It's just as they're coming up the stairs and into the lobby that something happens. The door is very suddenly flung open, and in bolts a tiny Japanese girl that Jaiden might recognize quite well as the little girl who pretty much single-handedly took out two would-be grocery store robbers. She's wearing comfortable-looking clothes to match the weather, with a pair of capris and a tank top.
And the little woman looks terrified, as if she's running for her life.
The two in the room are abruptly ignored, the little girl turning around as soon as she's inside and backing away from the door, her posturing indicating the terror that is reflected on her feature. "Oh god, oh god, don't find me, don't find me…"
Jaiden is halfway to the cooler, just behind Elisabeth, when the door crashes open and the girl from the tire he changed and the grocery store robbery comes in, looking all the world like she's being chased by something. "Oi there." He's quiet, hobbling up, using his rebar-cane to keep weight off his bad knee. "If you're being chased, close the door behind you." The door, as if on command, is closed by a push from a ball of water that appears out of thin air. "Open doors just invites pursuers to look." He does stop, looking at Mika closely, then peering out the door behind her. "Miss Mika. Who's chasing you?
The crash of the door flying open also puts Elisabeth on high alert. She whirls toward the open portal, blue eyes wide and alarmed… but also ready for serious trouble. She skirts around the desk immediately, letting Jaiden handle the girl since he seems to know her and heading for the front door to check on pursuers.
The petite woman's posture stiffens as she hears Jaiden's voice, and she turns a fearful eye toward him for just a moment, before relaxing, if only a little bit. She backs up to the point where her rear bumps back against the reception desk, her attention still on the door. "Jaiden! Oh thank god, I'm so glad to see your face!" She stares at the door that's now closed for a long moment.
For a moment, she looks hesitant, glancing between Elisabeth and Jaiden…then, suddenly, she changes. It's as if she just de-aged 15 years, her form shrinking just a bit until it's a child of no more than 12 that stands in the lobby, her pants laying in a heap on the ground, with her shirt being used as a dress. She hurriedly grabs these up, throwing them behind the desk.
"Please…you two have to help me…I…" She glances between the pair with an uneasy look…but then, apparently she decides that it's better that they know, so she can get away from whoever she thinks is chasing her. "I'm running from some people. Messiah. I was out on the street, and I'm sure I saw one of their thugs…
Seeing something like that again, right in front of him, does give Jaiden pause. His brain tries to figure out where the extra mass goes when a person can shrink or de-age herself and, well, let's be honest, fails miserably. He shakes his head and gives Mika-teen a warm smile, tottering up to peer out the door along with Elisabeth, as if the magical shrinking girl was the most common thing in the world. "I haven't heard of Messiah." Truthful in that regard. "Some christian group wanting to convert you?"
Elisabeth's gaze narrows slightly, her posture shifting subtly as her gaze sharpens on the clearly Evolved girl/woman. Her expression is neutral, carefully professional. "The street is clear," she informs Mika quietly. "Why don't you start at the beginning and tell us what's going on."
The child relaxes visibly, sinking down onto her rear with her back up against the desk, rubbing at her eyes. It takes her a long moment before she finally begins to speak, her childish voice high from distress. "Messiah. They're a terrorist group. They were involved with the terrorist attacks that happened recently." She fidgets with the hem of the shirt turned dress, peering up at the two with a frown.
"I…I worked with them. I didn't do any of the stuff that they did in the news, though. I was…a head hunter, of sorts. Scouted Evolved talent. I only really knew Rupert Carmichael. I…I don't agree with how violent they are these days, and I wanted to try and get out." The little girl shudders, hugging her shoulders as a bit of a terrified look forms on her features.
"Rupert— he found out that I wanted to quit working for him…" She frowns, hugging her knees as she stares up at the two, tears suddenly springing up into her eyes. "And once you get in with them, you can't get out! I'm scared…I think they're gonna kill me!" And then, the child is crying.
The door is given another glance by Jaiden, Liz looking out of it, before he starts hobbling across the floor. His rebar - with a wad of duct tape on the end to keep it from marring the floor - thuds softly as he walks, taking a seat in one of the assorted chairs scattered around the room, looking over to Liz with a look that positively screams 'you want to take this one, illustrious leader?' But just in case…. "Nah, no-one's gonna get you here. We're a security firm, after all. We'll figure out what's what and get everything squared away."
The ponytailed blonde meets Jaiden's glance with a shuttered one of her own. "You're a metamorph of some kind?" Elisabeth asks mildly. The girl — or woman — has already used her ability in front of both Jaiden and Liz, after all. "I'm going assume that you're on the Registry since you just openly used that ability in a public venue without any compunction," she says as her blue eyes flit back to Mika. "How old are you?" she asks then. "Do you have family to go to? We could potentially speak with the owner of this company to help you out with a bodyguard or something for a while, but…." The unspoken question is 'why the hell did you run in here — we're clearly not open and for all this girl knows, we could turn her in to Homeland Security in a heartbeat.' Call Liz a little skeptical. If Messiah wants us, they know exactly how to get in touch.
The little Japanese girl takes this all in stride, tears still streaming down her cheeks as she watches Elisabeth. Her knees are hugged to her chest, and the little girl wipes at her eyes with the back of a hand, all but hysterical. "I-I'm not a Metamorph, ma'am. I can change my age at will." Elisabeth's next question prompts the girl's eyes to widen, and she shakes her head quickly. "Please, ma'am, I'm not Registered…please, don't call anyone. Please." Those tears only come swifter, and the child sobs slightly.
It's through her sobs that she answers the blonde's next questions. "I'm 91 years old, ma'am. I don't have any family to go to, and…well, I'm scared to go back home. Rupert…he knows where I live! Please, I left my apartment in Chinatown today and I saw someone wearing a red scarf, staring at me. They're gonna kill me…I don't want to die yet!" The child really is a mess right now.
Jaiden sits quietly, listening, the rebar leaning against his right knee, fingers interlaced as he watches Mika and Liz converse. "I don't think anyone wants to die just yet - and being 91? I'd think that staying alive for a few more years would be at the very top of my priority list." Jaiden chuckles softly and stands, hobbling over to the cooler to get some water - the original goal of him climbing the stairs in the first place. The cooler burps and bubbles as he fills two cups, keeping an eye and an ear open.
One eyebrow shoots up. 91 years old and …. after nearly a century of life and all that she had to have seen and lived through, the woman is falling apart like the 12-year-old she appears to be at the fact that she saw someone in a red scarf staring at her. Reaching up to scratch the back of her head in a movement that perhaps betrays her skepticism, Elisabeth considers carefully. So far as she's aware, Messiah isn't in the habit of running about killing people who decide not to be part of their clique. It's out of character for Peter Petrelli, and Rupert Carmichael …. well, Liz doesn't know anything about him except that he is potentially dangerous.
"If you're looking to hire someone to act as a bodyguard, we may be able to help you out. If you're looking to…. what, get out of town? Again, we can probably help you do that without being spotted." Liz pauses, her blue eyes steady on Mika. "It would help if you told us everything you know about this man, Carmichael. Considering what he's wanted for, I think protective custody would be a good idea — you're in a position to give law enforcement all the information they need on how to find the man behind Messiah. It's probable that we can work out a deal for you not to wind up on the Registry or something, though age manipulation of self would be considered a Tier 0 power and of no interest to them anyway." Her tone is careful — this woman has approached the legitimate business of Redbird Security and she's walking a fine line. She's not technically an employee of the company. And she's not sure how Richard would handle this. "Unless you came here for a different reason," she offers Mika the opening to play it a little straighter. Bringing Messiah intel straight to Richard Cardinal? Hmmmm.
Jaiden takes a few swallows of water, remaining in his seat, watching the show.
The child sniffs, wiping at her face as she does her best to calm herself, nodding slowly as the blonde speaks and explains her position. After a few moments, she seems to calm herself, save for a few shuddering breaths. She looks up at Elizabeth, frowning for a long moment.
"I…I came here for a different reason, actually. I'd heard, before I decided to leave Messiah, that this is where I can find Richard Cardinal." She frowns quietly, hugging herself as if she's comitting a sin just by doing this and she fears a death sentence. "I haven't heard much, but…I've heard that he can help me far better than any normal bodyguard could." She shudders, looking back down to the ground with that frightened expression on her features.
And there's the bit of information that was missing in this whole 'you gotta save me' story. That this woman was specifically looking for Cardinal with a particular goal in mind. "Now you're speaking my language," Elisabeth says quietly. "What is it that you think we can actually do for you?" She's curious about what tales Mika might have been told.
Jaiden has actually spent the time that they were talking retrieving Mika's clothes, folding them neatly over the arm of a chair before sitting on one of the desks pushed against the wall. She's bumped into jaiden so many, many times….how can this all be coincidence?
The girl frowns. "I don't really know what you actually do. I just know, from hearing Rupert speak about him over the phone to another person when I was giving him information, that he isn't too fond of Richard Cardinal. At all." She frowns up at Elisabeth, hugging her legs. "And…well…I go by the old saying, 'The enemy of mine enemy is my friend.'" She breathes a few times, resting her head back against the desk and closing her eyes as she takes a deep breath, the fear and adrenaline finally starting to wear off.
Liz is carefully watching, but more to the point… she is carefully listening. To the heartbeat of the petite woman in front of her, to the tone of voice. She's watching how facial reactions are presenting themselves, how or if Mika meets her eyes when she's being questioned. All of these things are indicators of truth. There's no foolproof way, especially when faced with someone who has worked with a Persuader, but…. Mika's reactions of fear appear genuine to her. And Elisabeth purses her lips and nods slightly. She has no desire to expose Jaiden's safehouse to Messiah if this is not what it seems. But all of Messiah is aware of Cat's ties.
"I can put you into a safehouse apartment until Cardinal can talk to you. We're not set up for that here as yet — nothing's even livable," Elisabeth offers. "I don't know how quickly he'll be able to meet with you. It could be a couple of days. Will you be okay if it takes that long, if Jaiden and another friend of mine check in on you regularly?"
As elisabeth wanders off to make her calls, Jaiden and Mika-teen are left alone in the quiet of the foyer, Jaiden on the desk, Mika in her T-shirt and undewear, still looking all of 12 years old. "Well, Miss Mika." Jaiden chuckles softly, rubbing his left knee idly, sitting up straight. "It was a shock watching you shrink to child-size in the market, and now, seeing it happen again in front of my very eyes." He shakes his head. "Amazing to see."
The Japanese child nods slowly up at Elisabeth, her heartrate slowing as she is rewarded with a sense of safety among the pair. "Th-thank you, ma'am. I really do appreciate that…I just don't want to be out there, alone, with the red scarves. I may be old as sin and able to change my age at will, but I get hurt just as badly as anyone else, and I can die just as easily." She suddenly raises to her feet, offering both Elisabeth and Jaiden a very traditional Japanese bow, deep and respectful for the two who have apparently just saved her life.
She nods quietly as Elisabeth excuses herself to make her phone calls, turning to peer quietly up at Jaiden with an expression that would look more suitable on an old woman than a child. After a moment, she offers the barest hint of a smile. "I'm sorry to shock you so much, Jaiden. I saw that guy waving a gun around at innocent people, and I certainly couldn't just sit back and watch while they robbed the place." She slowly raises to her feet, pulling the t-shirt down a bit. It makes a pretty good dress. She probably wears such long shirts for such events as this, when she has to change.
After a moment, Mika moves to a seat nearby, sitting down and looking very helpless in her child form. "It seems like we meet everywhere, recently. Either you're stalking me, or fate just keeps on bringing you and I together, for some reason."
"No, no. It's okay. I, of all people, understand that when things need to be done, they need to be done. We needed to help people, and you took a more…proactive stance in doing so. It seems a girl…woman…" he catches himself. "A woman like you would have experience and contingencies on top of plans, just in case things happen. That knife that fits your child form, for instance." He gestures to Mika in her seat, giving her a smile. "Aye, we do. And I'm not stalking you, I promise. The world moves in mysterious ways and pushes people together or pulls them apart. I just never thought bumping into a 91 year old who looks 12 would be part of it."
It seems the girl has calmed down, though an occasional nervous glance is cast toward the door as she speaks to the hydrokinetic. "The knife is good for any form I take, really. It's small enough to be easily concealed, but large enough that it can cause some damage. As I'm sure you saw last night." She offers a smile to the man, leaning back in her chair and kicking her legs a bit, not unlike a 'normal' child would do, her feet not even reaching the ground at the moment.
"Well, I can tell you from experience, the kami work in mysterious ways. Perhaps they changed my mind about Messiah for a good reason." A kind smile is offered to the man, the girl still fidgeting at the hem of her t-shirt dress.
"I'm still not that familiar with Messiah," Jaiden says after a moment or two, offering Mika a glass of water before re-taking his spot across from her, sitting gingerly thanks to some unknown injury to his back. "And Kami? I'm even less familiar with. I just know that any deity or higher power, I want to keep on my good side. It makes life that much easier when the universe isn't conspiring to kick you down, y'know?" Jaiden gives Mika a small smile. "So…how did you learn you could change ages?"
The child cants her head toward Jaiden after sparing another worried glance to the door, as if she expects someone to come barging through the door at any moment. However, Jaiden's smiles seem to bring her away from that fear, if only a little bit. "The Kami are the spirits that are in everything. According to Shintoism, even your desk has a spirit of its own." She smiles softly to the man, relaxing a little against the back of the chair.
"In the 1950's in Japan, I had children. One day, I was watching them play in the rice fields, and I wished that I could be their age again, play like they did, have a life like I had given them." It's suddenly like she's in another place, her eyes trailing up to a spot on the ceiling and losing their focus. "And suddenly, I was eight years old again. I ran away after that…my children are probably grandparents, by now."
"Have you ever looked in on them to see how they were doing?" Jaiden asks quietly, looking toward the staircase where Liz wandered up. "Looked to see how they grew up? If you're a great grandmother?"
The girl slowly shakes her head, a sad expression forming on her features. "No…I haven't. I left Japan some time ago, in 1958, with an American." She smiles to Jaiden, looking far older than the 12 years she appears to be, for a moment. "I don't know if I could handle seeing them, to be quite honest. I…well, I don't grow old, you see. I could choose to grow old and die if I wanted to, but…I'm certainly not strong enough to put my foot down and decide to die of old age."
"How many people are? We, as a people, are generally wary of anything that would cause us to lose our mortality and shuffle off this mortal coil. Most people aren't given a choice. It seems you've got the best of both worlds - immortality until you grow tired of it." Jaiden takes a sip of his water and looks into the dimness of the lobby, out toward the street. "Messiah'd send a thug after you, with a red scarf, to get you in the middle of the day? That doesn't sound like they're very smart if that's the case. If you revert forms to the age you are when you die, they'll have killed an innocent old woman. If you don't? A innocent little girl. They'd be boned either way in the press."
The woman nods slowly, staring down at her water for a moment, before taking a few sips of it. "I— I don't think they were going to kill me in the daytime. Messiah doesn't wear their red scarves all the time, just when they want to be recognized by other Messiah members." She glances up to the man, then, tapping her fingers against the cup. "I think they were showing themselves to me on purpose. Wouldn't surprise me…" She sighs softly. "I didn't even know who it was. Nobody I referred to them, certainly…"
"Still seems rather sloppy." Jaiden says with a grunt. "Tactics dictate that making a target aware of you makes it that much more difficult to succeed in the mission. Even if they were wanting to send a message, they would have been smarter…." And Jaiden stops talking. "Sorry, military training going into play there." Telling Mika exactly how Jaiden would go about eliminating her with a minimum of fuss on his part would probably not do much for building bridges.
She's been listening while speaking on the phone in a low voice upstairs. Perks of being an audiokinetic. When Elisabeth comes back down the stairs, her blue eyes are still cool and she flickers a glance at the two still in the main room. "My father is legal counsel for Redbird. He's agreed to allow you to stay at his home for a night or two, until I can get hold of Richard for you and we can make arrangements for a safe house." With strict instructions not to fall for anything the woman tells him, not to let her see the security system, and to make sure he locks his bedroom door and takes the baseball bat to bed with him. Mika is not to be trusted, she is questionable at best.
"You should avoid telling him anything about your situation, since he doesn't know anything more about Messiah than what he sees in the news and his first instinct will be to contact my old partner in the PD to have you placed under protective custody if he knows they're involved," she says bluntly. "He will not ask you anything about what's happening, doesn't want or need to know." Elisabeth pauses and says bluntly, "And if anything happens to him, I will be extremely upset." She laces her last words with menace and with a subsonic emphasis that should engender a serious sense of forboding in Mika. The blonde will not hesitate to take Mika out of her father's custody and dispose of her if harm comes to the one person she loves above all others.
Elisabeth adds, "And I highly recommend you make yourself over into someone of legal age and don't use your ability while you're in his home, because I don't want him to know you're Evo."
"We could always just put her in an extended stay hotel, paid for with a throwaway debit card or, better yet, cash, until we figure out what's going on. Then we can expose her to your family." Jaiden says after a moment.
The child offers a frown to Jaiden as he speaks, her expression becoming just a little fearful again as she listens to him. "Th-that's okay…" A nod is offered after his apology, before the little girl blinks up at Elisabeth as she comes back downstairs, her brows raising.
Then, she nods slowly along with Elisabeth's instruction. "Thank you, ma'am. I really, really appreciate your assistance. You have no idea how much this means to me…I owe you my life."
She raises to her feet, making her way over to the desk and picking up her pants. She puts her feet in her pants, pulling them up. As she does so, she grows, re-aging up to perhaps 17 or 18. Fastening her pants, the girl glances to Jaiden. "W-would that be safe?"
Elisabeth pauses to consider the alternative suggestion. "It wouldn't be as …. controlled," she admits. "My father's house has a basic security system, but he's also got obvious ties to me and if Messiah traced you this far, they could potentially be watching to see where you get put." She purses her lips. "It's a toss-up on what would be safer. The hotel has the advantage of anonymity — so long as, again, you appear to be of legal age, no one's going to notice one more person in a hotel."
"We find a small one, kind of out of the way, with a little kitchen, a fridge, and the like. Set you up there with a week's worth of food, a cell phone so you don't use the hotel phone, and a number or two so you can get someone we trust just in case you need 'em. Anonymous works a lot better for what's going on, Liz." Jaiden smiles. "We could get you some clothes, too, so you're not going around in the same threads for four plus days."
The girl watches Elisabeth quietly, running a hand through her hair. She nods slowly, fidgeting. "Well…I certainly wouldn't want to bring any harm to your dad…I'll happily go with the hotel. I wouldn't want anyone to get hurt on account of me." She smiles softly as Liz hands the cash to Jaiden for such things, and turns to the man with a faint smile.
Jaiden is handed cash. Woo! First thought…Tijuana! But no, that wouldn't be ethical or right at this time. He pockets the cash and motions for Mika to follow. "C'mon. let's get a taxi to a hotel. It'll be a fun trip." He gives Liz a grin. "The things I do for you, Liz."
After a moment, an elderly woman is standing in the teenager's place, probably in her late 60's. She follws Jaiden at a slow shuffle, smiling up at the man. "Thank you so much, Jaiden. I really do appriciate the help, from both of you…"
Jaiden slows down his pace, even offering Mika-ba-chan an arm to hold on to, like he's a nice boy leading an elderly friend around for a walk. Out the front door they go, to the street where Jaiden hails a cab after a few moments while keeping an eye out for anyone with obvious intentions of harming Mika. When the cab pulls up? In they go, Mika first, then Jaiden, who hands the driver a note.