A Dead Horse


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Also featuring:

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Scene Title A Dead Horse
Synopsis Helena and Cat muse on politics, Cat pushes her agenda, Hel's boys show up at the end.
Date October 30, 2008

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

She arrives before the scheduled time of the debate, clad in moderately dark colors. A forest greenish hooded sweatshirt, jeans, athletic shoes. Her hair is tied back into a ponytail, and she's got the combo of backpack and guitar case across opposite shoulders. One hand carries a portable radio. Little sound is made as Cat crosses the library since she isn't wearing heels, her eyes wandering around to spot whoever might be present, and she heads to the place set up for archery.

Once there she sets the radio down and tunes it to whatever station is carrying the debate, likely a choice of several, then unslings her gear. The pack is opened and two large photos are pulled out. One is of Nathan Petrelli, the other of Daniel Linderman. She pulls a quarter from a pocket and tosses it into the air. "Heads the Senator, tails Mr. Gestapo," she murmurs while it's on the fly.

Helena is apparently aiming to go listen to the radio in a seperate location - the library's fairly huge, and there's lots of places for various activites to be housed. But she passes by Cat's setup, noting the toss of the coin and the commentary. "Linderman's not running and Senator Petrelli is pro-registration. Makes the coin toss kind of moot, doesn't it?"
Cat flips a coin. It comes up tails.

RADIO: Moderator says, "Good evening from NBC Studios in New York City. I'm Vicki Hale, and I welcome you to the final presidential debate between the Democratic candidate for president, Senator Allen Rickham of New Hampshire, the Republican candidate, Senator Andrew Mitchell of California, and Independent candidate Nathan Petrelli of New York. The debates are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, and they will be conducted within formats and rules agreed to by the commission."

RADIO: Moderator says, "The questions and the subjects were chosen by me alone. I have told no one from the campaigns or the commission or anyone else involved what they are. There's a small audience in the hall tonight — they are not here to participate, only to listen. I have asked and they have agreed to remain silent for the next 90 minutes, except for right now, when they will applaud as we welcome our candidates…"

RADIO: Moderator says, "And now, the first question. As determined by the flip of a coin, it goes to Senator Mitchell. Senator Mitchell, visiting NBC Studios for the debate tonight, you've seen, firsthand, how much New York City continues to suffer almost two years after the explosion of 2006. Do you have a plan to continue relief aid in an effort to restore the areas destroyed by the bomb?"

The coin hits the floor and stops; she steps over to it and looks down. "Tails. Looks like you're the target for now, Mr. Gestapo." Cat's head turns toward the sound of Helena's voice, and she chuckles. "That doesn't mean we can't have a little fun with him while the debate is going on, does it? Mr. Gestapo's name is on the Act that might see us exterminated, after all." Linderman's image, blown up to fit the target, is tacked up. Then she steps back. A bow she already had here is hefted, and an arrow drawn from the nearby quiver. She sets the arrow into the bow, turns sideways, and pulls back the string. Her right hand is next to her mouth. "Should I aim for his nose or an eye, Stormy?"

Helena's mouth crooks in faint amusement. "Whatever fluffs your pillows." she says lightly, and seems intent on moving along to her own chosen spot to listen to the debates.

The bow's tension is released and Cat's arrow flies. It's a short distance to travel, the missile impacts with the sound of paper and cushioning being impaled. Tail feathers now stick out of Linderman's left jaw. "Damn," she mutters. "Missed both." A glance goes over to Helena; she asks "How are you holding up. Stormy? And do you want to learn while we listen? It's good for stress relief, at least."

RADIO: Mitchell says, "First of all, let me say just how appreciative I am to be here in the great city of New York. Everyone here, those who have lived through so many crisis this nation has weathered in the last decade, are all such resiliant people. I am fortunate — blessed — to have the opportunity to be among such strong and proud individuals. This city has seen remarkable suffering at the hands of irresponsible wielding of power. We, as a nation, were unprepared for the devastation such unknowns could cause. In order to supply the relief, the hope, that the people of New York — and the world at large — require, will be the first and foremost concern of my presidency. Both of my opponents, Senator Rickham and Senator Petrelli, are resistant to the idea of raising federal and state taxes in order for our nation, as a whole, to shoulder the burden of this great wound inflicted on us. They would rather out-source our debt to other nations — nations that do not regcognize the importance of the Linderman Act — to help bail us out of this financial and social crisis. I propose, as I have firmly held up to over the course of my campaign, that a raising of taxes across the board will go directly towards the reconstitution of New York City, and preventative measures to ensure a disaster like this doesn't happen again."
Helena looks faintly intrigued by the prospect. "Sure." she says, walking forward. Listening, she sighs. "Raising taxes. No one ever likes to hear that, even if it is a good solution."

Her head shakes as she listens to Mitchell's answer. "No good, asshole," she breathes. "The right answer is you'll uphold the Constitution as the Presidential Oath dictates and strive to repeal the Linderman Act accordingly." A moment later, Cat's eyes are on Helena as she goes for another arrow. "It's necessary, and never popular. Work needs to be done, the money has to come from somewhere. Hell, tax me double. I can afford it easily."

The second arrow is brought to bear slowly so Helena can observe her body mechanics. "You still didn't say how you're holding up, Stormy," she softly notes.

RADIO: Petrelli says, "If I would respond to this question also, it's one very dear to my heart. I'd first like to thank the Commission for funding this debate, and NBC Studios for hosting it, as it's an honour to be here tonight to talk about these important issues that plague all of us. Now, I cannot stress enough how important it is that we as a government, we as a people, work together to fix the devastated New York City. Not only is it my home, but it's home to millions of American who, to this day, suffer the loss of their homes and the loss of people dear to them. Senator Mitchell would suggest that I am against taxes because perhaps my party does not care enough about this issue, but in turn, I would suggest that it's because we care that we are looking towards international aid to restore New York City. This is beyond who and who does not agree with the Linderman Act, it's about a rescue that does not burden our people more than this tragedy already has. Two years it's been since the bomb - it's time to do something different."

Helena snorts a little and shrugs. "I'm doing fine." she says, which is Helena for I Don't Want To Talk About It. She takes in Cat's stance from off to the side and matches it, observing how the places her feet, what she does with her hands.

RADIO: Mitchell says, "I would like to remind the listening audience that Senator Pet —"

RADIO: Rickham says, "You know, I have to wonder exactly where this idea comes across that I support Senator Petrelli's foreign aid policy. I keep getting balled up in his camp, and it's simply — No offense Senator Petrelli — ridicilous. Not only am I in support of Fair Tax, in order to change the way the nation's taxation system work, which according to financial estimates will not only strengthen our economy but also double the available funds towards the reconstruction efforts of New York and New Jersey. People seem so eager to forget that the Garden State has also suffered a tragic loss of both life and property from the nuclear fallout. In addition, neither Senator Mitchell nor Senator Petrelli have bothered to elaborate on their plans to involve privatized corporations exclusive rights to the reconstruction efforts instead of utilizing local and regional businesses in order to help bolster our failing economy. Instead, the rich get richer and the —"
RADIO: Mitchell says, "I do not support privatized resources in the reconstruction effort, Senator Rickham I —"
RADIO: Rickham says, "Then exactly where did yor Haliburton lobbyists plan on —"

RADIO: Moderator says, "Gentlemen, I want to remind you that you all agreed to the terms of the debate before stepping out onto the floor. Rebuttals are acceptable, but I'm sure our audience would appreciate them more if you gave one another an opportunity to speak. Senator Petrelli? Do you have anything you'd like to say in response to Senator Rickham's allegations?"

There's a moment spent in silence as the debaters exchange responses and allegations, with Cat's eyes on Helena. It's a quiet assessment made, that the two of them are similar women. They present poise and a staged persona to most, few if any get to see the real person fully. Only one person is privy to Cat's weaker moments, only one witnessed her true reaction to having shot a man after it all sank in. "I think if things were different, you'd be an Ivy Leaguer, Stormy." She holds her position for a stretch of several seconds for Helena's benefit, then looses the second arrow. As it flies she lowers the bow and offers it to the blonde.

RADIO: Petrelli says, "Absolutely. Senator Rickham's concern is a valid concern, one that might be better directed if pointed towards Senator Mitchell rather than myself. I have no interest in using the economic strain the disaster has caused us to somehow benefit wealthy business owners, if that is in fact what he's implying. My focus is on doing what we have to to bring New York back to its former self, no more and no less."

Helena takes the bow awkwardly. "How do I…?" she seems uncertain of how to hold it and the way to angle her bow arm, but she does seem to savvy the pinch of the bow string from observation - the first three fingers of the appropriate hand. "I don't know about that. I'm a lot different then how I was in high school."

RADIO: Moderator says, "That's a very poignant statement, Senator. Senator Mitchell and Senator Rickham, is there anything else that either of you would like to add before we move onto the next question?"

Cat's arrow strikes the right cheek of Linderman's photo this time. It's regarded for just a moment before she moves with Helena, standing behind her as the bow is taken up. One hand reaches out to steady and gently lift the back elbow so it's straight. "Touch your mouth. The hand with the string should be near your mouth. Then you draw in a breath, release the arrow, and breathe out once it's gone." Her head shakes. "Am I crazy for having hoped at least one of them would support the Constitution and basic civil rights, want to see that America remains America? Home of the brave, land of the free, not the home of stupid cowards who let fear dictate their lives."

RADIO: Mitchell says, "I think the most important point that is needed to get across on this topic is that we as Americans have to give up something in order to get something in return. We've all suffered, and I think the American people are aware that belts are going to need to be tightened in order to make it through what is coming. The people of New York all know this already, they've been dealing with worse conditions than anywhere else in the country at the moment. I'm assured that in time, given the proper tax increases and with the assistance of an oversight comittee put in place to observe the reconstruction efforts, we'll be able to rebuild New York — no, rebuild all of America — as a stronger, greater force in light of what has come to pass."

"I thought that was Rickham's agenda." Helena comments, doing as instructed. However, since Helena doesn't understand archery aiming principle, she aims too high, and the shot ends up somewhere in the upper space of the pinned up photograph.

RADIO: Rickham says, "And how much of the rebuilt America would be owned by foreign interests? Exactly how much is our sovereignty worth on the open market to interested parties willing to take advantage of a wounded nation struggling to get back up on its feet? Between the subway collapse in London caused by a terrakinetic and the entire Madagascar Incident the world is struggling just as much as we are as a nation. We should be supporting ourselves, not leaning on the rich and powerful nations for our own support. We should be our own support, we're strong enough for that, without having to carve off a pound of flesh in order to do it."

"Not bad," Cat comments, as she gets another arrow and hands it over. "Try again. Keep the mechanics of your body, close one eye as you prepare to loose and line the tip up with where you want it to go, Stormy." She stays back, not seeing the need to have hands on the blonde this time to demonstrate things. "And don't sell yourself short. I think you've the brains and the spine to handle Ivy League."

There's another stretch of silence as she takes in Rickham's most recent response. "He's at least partly right. We're the nation that helps others. We've got the money to fix ourselves instead of passing the hat. Again, tax me double. I can take it, and I'm hardly the country's richest woman."

RADIO: Moderator says, "The next question is for Senator Petrelli. Senator Petrelli, speaking of foreign nations, what immigration policies will you undertake with countries who do not currently enforce registration of the Evolved?"

RADIO: Petrelli actually chuckles a little before he responds. "We could go back and forth all night about this issue, Moderator, especially with the two Senators standing beside me tonight, but let me say that first off, we as a nation have to recognise that the world changed the day the world discovered the existence of Evolved, and so we have to remember this when we look at issues we've been wrestling with for years. It is our right as a country to at least know who steps foot on our shores, and I would readily suggest a policy that allows for the screening of these individuals to see whether or not they are Evolved and if so, the nature of their abilities— "

RADIO: Rickham says, "Screening? The very existance of the Linderman Act's proposal to create a screening process to discern Evolved from Non-Evolved on a biological level is the single largest abuse of human rights in our lifetime! It brings horrible possibilities for the future of Evolved and Non-Evolved integration into our culture, it creates a divide, a blatant and flat line that can be drawn between one or another. Do you really want that? Do you actually think that somehow letting —"
RADIO: Mitchell says, "Senator Rickham and Senator Petrelli are both wrong on this matter. I've made it known time and again in my campaign that the very foundation of our border protection over the last two years has been abysmal. Not only are foreign Evolved allowed into the country, they're not required to register. Let's say a man approaches customs and declares that he can bend metal with his mind — just imagine that — Customs is under no obligation to force that man to register under the Linderman Act, and is not legally allowed to do any more than forward his information to Homeland Security. Sure, he might not be able to get on a plane leaving the United States, but the potential damage is already done and on our shores. I have promised, time and again, that if I am elected president there will be means put in place to not only know the identity of registered evolved, but be aware of their position within our country or any other at a moment's notice. The EvoTac chip could revolutionize our —"

RADIO: Rickham says, "EvoTac? Since when has the Mitchell campaign been using Brave New World and 1984 as its playbook? The very idea of subdermal microchip tracking is an abhorrent and terrifying concept, and to force that very thing onto visitors of our own country wouldn't welcome others to come visit America, it wouldn't open doors, it would be an iron gate slammed in the face of any innocent person. It treats human begins like wild animals to be tagged and tracked!"

"Not everyone can." Helena points out, adding, "I don't think college is in my future anytime soon. We have a long, bitter war ahead of us, and as I've said, it'll get worse before it gets better." Following Cat's instructions, she aims again, and manages a shot to the forehead, somewhat off to the left.

RADIO: Petrelli raises his voice a little as he interrupts with, "While Senator Mitchell and I are both in strong favour of the Linderman Act, I would just like to emphasise, before I'm once again put back in his camp, that under no circumstance do I support this suggestion of this computer chip project he likes to sell to us. It only adds legitimacy to Senator Rickham's fear that the Linderman Act is there to somehow segregate the Evolved from the rest of the population. However, a simple screening test, the act of registration, will ensure that we know about any possible threats before they can occur. It is not an invasion of human rights, and it will not allow the potential for another New York City 2006 to occur. The Linderman Act was created as a response to public fear and cannot be used to incite that fear, nor can it be taken away."

RADIO: Moderator says, "Senator Mitchell, would you mind elaborating on how you plan on implimenting the EvoTac chip if you were to be elected? Not all of our viewers and listeners are familiar with the technology— or rather the theory behind the technology…"

RADIO: Mitchell says, "Gladly. One of my campaign's many supporters — As Senator Rickham's camp likes to point out, as if it were a secret — is currently in the developmental stages of micro-technology designed to serve as a tracking and registration device. The chip would be about the size of a pinhead, a one-point-five millimeter chip placed in every registered Evolved citizen over the age of thirteen. This chip is designed to be able to be scanned and registered by law-enforcement agencies and federal beauearus in order to keep a vital and pin-point accuracy on the locations of any Evolved wearing the chip. However, we understand the resiliance to this plan, so we're willing to not only give tax benefits, but also monetary incentive to early-adopters of the EvoTac chip. It will be completely harmless and the procedure fast enough to be done on a lunch break. Once implanted, the chip can be detected much like an RFID, used as a form of biometric liscense. It would synchronize with government databases, and be remarkably difficult to counterfit. In fact, if EvoTac is enough of a success, it could be instituted in every day Americans as well, in order to add convenience and speed to daily lives. Imagine never forgetting your credit cards, liscense, or any other vital document at home? All stored on one tiny chip. It's security and convenience."

RADIO: Moderator says, "Senator Rickham, if segregating the Evolved, whether it be in the form of specific identification or some other method, is not the answer to how our government and society must deal with the Evolved, what do you feel is the best method for policing circumstances in which the Evolved have an effect, yet without violating their civil rights?"
"Idiot," Cat murmurs. "Are you really that blind, Petrelli? The only one with any sense is Rickham." The whole mention of tracking systems and chips has made her entire body tense. Her jaw is set, there's stoking fury in her eyes. "We have to hope people will understand that letting this happen, allowing government this power, is saying it's okay to do to anyone. And when we're gone, they'd find a new group to single out. That's why I wanted to use the eagle from the US Seal as our emblem. It's an American symbol, to remind the world we're Americans and we want the America our Founding Fathers created, not Amerika with a k."

She forces herself to be less rigid a short time later, and resumes speaking. "Things are mended with Dani." The voice is quiet, saying that. But it gets louder when Mitchell speaks of implanting the chip in everyday people. "Exactly! Thank you for being honest! Stormy, he just showed his hand and gave us solid ammo."

Helena says simply, "I respect your idea Cat, but I don't think it's fitting to what we want to do. And not all of us are American." Then, "That's good. About Dani, I mean." Her tension level just spiked higher at the thought of the EvoTac chip; she sets down the bow to focus on listening.

RADIO: Rickham says, "The Evolved should be treated like any other member of society, policied in any other way possible. They are an advancement not unlike a technological one. We used to have jail cells you could pick the locks of, and as technology advanced so did the technology used to handle criminals. I'm not going to say there aren't Evolved who would use their powers for ill intent — no one needs to say that for us to know it. But take a look around, look at the resources that we're not utilizing. Anyone can build a bomb, and someone with enough motivation can bypass security, no matter how good it is. We don't live in an age where walls and doors can keep people out. — Do you know why they stopped building castles? Because the defenses weren't with the times. We have to stop thinking like the age hasn't changed on us, we have to take steps to work with the future that we're living in, not try and strangle it and keep it held down. I have, and always will, propose that the Evolved are treated as anyone would be. People of proven and tested precognitive nature on police forces, Evolved able to suppress abilities on planes, the possibilities are limitless. Registration is perhaps a necessary evil, but a voluntary one. Someone using a firearm without a liscense to — without training to — gets a fine. They don't get locked up in a dark prison of your choosing. This is what we need, cooperation. Training. Education! Teach the evolved how to use their powers, support them into joining the workforce to help the country. How much do you want to bet, that out there somewhere, there is an Evolved who could remove the radiation from the Red Zone in New York? Someone who could restore the deforestation of the Amazon? But they're all too afraid to come forward because the fear we all have. Fear that —"

She also listens intently, recording every word the moderator and candidates say as she has since the debate started. Cat speaks again only when a brief lull in the broadcast gives an opening. "Our best chances of success in swaying people lie in reminding people what America stands for. Even those of us who aren't American came here for a reason. Those principles probably are the biggest part of their reasons. It's not about Evolved versus non-Evolved. It's about being America. And how when forced we'll fight to preserve it. Anyone who wants to lock me up in a deep dark hole will risk his life trying to get me there, and if I can I'll make them kill me first."

RADIO: Petrelli says, "If I may interrupt you there, Senator Rickham, because the ideals you're communicating are ones that the Linderman Act, that you so strongly oppose, holds in high regard. If we think for one second that the man responsible for the wreckage of New York City would have readily signed himself up under a voluntarily policy in regards to the Act, then we're setting ourselves up for another disaster. Senator Rickham's analogy of a firearm is incorrect - we assume that someone who picks up a gun does so willing, with responsibility and with control. Evolved did not pick up their powers and they do not necessarily know how to responsibly wield them as a result. Registration is not a necessary evil, is it just a necessity to prevent further acts of evil from occurring. Absolutely, we should make an effort to ensure that Evolved remain unafraid to come forward with their abilities, which is why I do not side with everything Senator Mitchell has to say on the topic, but Senator Rickham's suggestions will only lead to danger. It's our responsibility, as a government, to protect, and we must do so with authority."

"Let it go, Cat." Helena's tone is firm. She continues to listen to the radio, her expression growing into dislike.

RADIO: Moderator says, "Let's take this one step further, Senators. What about stem cell research? What if this research could help determine who is Evolved before birth? What then?"

She puts it aside. For now. Cat's face goes neutral, the mask of poise slips into place. Impassivity is displayed in response to what she hears from the radio. Fingers take the bow back up and an arrow is retrieved. She takes aim and looses, the missile finding the center of Linderman's forehead. Another follows, which finds his left eye.

RADIO: Petrelli says, "It is a parent's right to know if their child is a boy or girl, has any health issues to be concerned about in the future, just as it's their right to know if their child is Evolved or not. It would certainly enable registration to integrate easier into daily life. Should this technology be developed, I would not keep it from the public. It's a matter of choice and responsibility and I think we can trust the American people with this responsibility."

RADIO: Rickham says, "If I can just jump in here — The moral implications of a test such as this, based on stem-cell research, to indicate the possibility of Evolved status in unborn children worries me. Not only is there worry on the very validity of these tests in and of themselves, but the kind of fear and paranoia that gets raised because of them. However, this may be one of the few places Senator Petrelli and I see eye-to-eye, it is a mother's right to be able to know the health and status of her unborn children, to control her body and what she does with it. I have always supported these things, and I will continue to. However, the registration of unborn children stands against many of the issues I have a firm holding on, and I do not think we should ever consider the shouldering of that sort of burden to both a mother and family."

"Did you need me for anything else?" Helena's got a bad taste in her mouth from the debate. "Because I may go off for a bit and have a think."

RADIO: Mitchell says, "This is a point of contention between Senator Petrelli and I. There is a certain sanctity of unborn life that I feel needs to be retained. As my constituents have known for years, I have a strong anti-abortion stance that will continue into my prospective tenure in the White House. The implications of discovering the Evolved status of an unborn child is not only unreliable, but also unrealistic and amoral. The potential for this to give rise to so-called back-alley abortions is just too high of a risk. I have been against the development of stem-cell research for some time, and I would patently veto any bill that crosses my desk if I am elected President that follows this line of research and development."

"I wanted to ask about what we share with Dani regarding recent developments and things we've learned about testing blood." Cat's voice is steady. Any trace of emotion in it has been removed, as if she'd opened up something of herself to the blonde, offered guidance and the benefit of her education, only to be slapped in the face. Aside from speaking, she's still taking in the debate. Every single word.

RADIO: Moderator says, "I'd like to touch on the issue of registration one last time before we move on to the next set of questions. Senator Rickham, how will you respond if the United Nations declares the Linderman Act an unacceptable invasion of civil rights and threatens to revoke membership? Assuming it isn't repealed before the beginning of 2009?"

If Cat's going to have an emotional wig or an ego meltdown because Helena's asked her to drop the issue of their branding image, that's not something Hel can do anything about. "I've already said I don't want to release that yet." Helena says patiently. "I want to talk to Bennet about our next steps first. He explicitly asked me to keep that quiet save to people I've got trust in, and I intend to stick to that."
RADIO: Rickham says, "My stance on that, I feel, is fairly simple. Cooperation with the united Nations to repeal the Linderman Act and the placement of less intrusive measures into the global culture. We can't expect every nation in the world to bend down to our own requests simply because we say so. America shouldn't become a Father-Knows-Best state, and it's leaning towards that way right now. I feel that with a fast-track to repeal the Linderman Act, we can cooperate with the United Nations to develop the kind of safe and secure alternatives that will not make us an antagonistic force in the eyes of the global community. We need to reach out to other nations with a velvet glove, not with an iron fist."

RADIO: Mitchell says, "That's exactly the kind of closed-mindedness that my opponent's campaign continues to spew out. You see, this is exactly the problem I've been talking about this entire campaign season. If the United Nations seeks to repeal our membership because of support for the Linderman Act, yes, we're going to need to reach out with a velvet glove to handle the matter. But not simply rescind our safety and security because of misunderstanding. I would work with the United Nations to make amendments and changes to the Linderman Act, and negotiate with the nations in an attempt to find common ground in the security and safety that can be afforded to this. Failing that, there is always the option of economic sanctions that could be applied to nations that continue to side with the UN over this matter. I do not want to use the iron fist if necessary, but when it comes to the safety of the American people, I will drop that hand like a hammer if it is necessary to protect the people of this great country."

Alexander has arrived.
Teo has arrived.

RADIO: Petrelli says, "Senator Rickham and Senator Mitchell are both attacking this issue from very extreme points of view, which is why I was moved to run as an Independent in the first place. This issue is outside the political landscape as we know it, and we have to make some drastic changes. There has to be a middle-ground when we handle this issue, and the Linderman Act is that middle-ground, which is why I would champion it when appealing to the United Nations. We do not have to be an iron fist to defend what our government believes is right for our people, but nor do we—"

"Rickham's the only one worthy of support," Cat quietly opines. "What're you thinking?" Meltdown? Ego wig? Not at all. She's calculating. What does Helena actually believe in? What makes her tick? She thought she had an idea, but now it seems she doesn't.

Helena shrugs a little bit. "I agree, Rickham's the one we should back. But I think he's going to lose. People are still afraid. And I don't know. Stuff." Helena doesn't seem inclined to share, at least right now. She wants to think about the debate. About Claire. About Peter. About leadership. About being afraid.

Watching the Financial District protest had been interesting, but then it clearly became time to leave. These days, Teo's chronometer to determine when it is time to retreat indoors is his nose. When it is beginning to acquire that nerveless, rubbery, frost-bitten quality, it is time to run away from New York City's atrocious barometric frigidity and into the safety of the sweet, sweet indoors. Or, at least, the dusty derelict bowels of the Public Library.

Passcodes ready, he made it in past the sentry and stamps noisily into one of almost interchangeable rooms, his hands cupped around his nose and his face contorted around the expression with which a fourth-grader might confront cooties or an overcooked eggplant casserole. "Buona sera," he calls out, his voice gone nasal for obvious reasons. He's trying to get feeling back into that thing.

RADIO: Sounds of gunfire suddenly break out over the radio broadcast, mixing with screams from both the crowd gathered in the studio, and that of the moderator, "Oh my god! Oh god!" More gunfire, and the sounds of screaming and a struggle, as the broadcast continues. "Jesus christ where is security!?" Senator Rickham's voice bellows out, "Oh my god! Oh my god! Someone call security!" More popping of gunfire fills the broadcast, screaming and chaos fills the air, and then the sounds cut away in an instant as the broadcast is terminated.

Al is deliberately staying ignorant. He can read the transcripts later, or something. "Man. It's colder'n a witch's tit in a brass brassiere," comes the redneck's voice, echoing down the hallways and breaking that august hush. He doesn't seem much dismayed by the cold, however. Far from it. He seems almost cheerful, in fact. He's in a worn Army parka, trundling after Teo, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth.

Her head turns toward the male voice entering the room where she and Helena are listening to the debate. The archery target has Linderman's face on it, several arrows are sticking out of the image. Cat's still got the bow in hand, but isn't shooting now. Her eyes are on the blonde. "He probably will," Cat replies. "But all is not lost. Hope remains. Mitchell came right out and said he wants to implant tracking chips in everybody. The question will only be what they fear m…" All that gunfire and causes her to go silent and stare at the radio.

October 30th: An Uncertain Future
October 30th: If You Had Been There
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