A Far Better Course


cat_icon.gif f_edward_icon.gif f_john_icon.gif mason_icon.gif

Scene Title A Far Better Course
Synopsis Cat has unexpected visitors.
Date April 27, 2009

Village Renaissance Building, Cat's Penthouse

Arriving by any of four elevators, visitors will find they open into three foot corridors facing wide double doors made from sturdy southern pine which swing outward and have the strongest locks available. The stairs lead to single doors, also outward opening, at the end of three foot corridors. Entry requires both a key and a keycard; other security measures are a video camera and voice communication terminal at all doors. The 4th Street side has floor to ceiling windows interrupted only by the access points. Cream colored curtains are normally kept closed.

This level has enough space for sixteen apartments. There is an office space with reception area, conference room, and executive office; a room for archery practice and other forms of physical exercise; a very well appointed kitchen and dining area; a music zone with an array of instruments, electronics, and amplifiers; an entertainment area with an HD set covering an entire stretch of wall from floor to ceiling; a locked room where security footage for the building is recorded and can be monitored; a laundry room; a staircase for roof access; central air and heating; the main bedroom and a few smaller guest rooms; plush deep wine carpet everywhere except the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms; and track lighting everywhere overhead. The light levels can be lowered or raised in the entire place, or selectively by segments. The overall decor suggests the occupant is a woman.

Sunlight shines in deep orange shades across much of Manhattan, the fiery orange glow of a cooling sunset. The unseasonable warmth of the last few days is finally beginning to seep out of New York City, finally beginning to return the city to the brisk and crisp coolness of early spring. Where once skies were clear and blue, clouds have begun to gather in, spotting the purple-stained heavens with shades of gray.

It's in these late hours of evening, just past the rush hour when the sun has dipped behind the highest remaining skyscrapers, when the shadows are long and the warmth of the day is creeping back out of sight that a sound chimes out through Catherine Chesterfield's penthouse. It's not so much a buzzer like in other estates, more of a plesant to the ear chime, a series of four notes ringing over one another, followed by a flickering green light on the voice communication terminal near one of the four elevators that lead up into the spacious abode.

Shifting from side to side in view of the security feed from outside, an all too familiar form shuffles in the monochrome display of the screen, a familiar unched-posture and circular-lensed glasses shadowing large eyes, standing just a touch too close to the pinhole camera displaying his receeding hairline. Fidgeting, Doctor Edward Ray flips up the collar of his tweed jacket, and presses the call button again, sending those four notes ringing out thorugh the penthouse as he paces back and forth down on street level outside of the building.

It was bound to happen eventually.

The security staff can see him there, fidgeting outside the building and pressing that button. He can see them also through the glass front. The leader of that function studies the man, and presses his own button. There are reporters outside as well, but most of them seem uninterested in the man. He isn't Abby, after all, and they maybe haven't taken a good look at him. A voice comes through, addressing him, from the watcher. "How may I assist you, sir?"

Several floors up, around this same time, the chimes draw Cat to the room where she keeps the camera feeds to have a look. On sighting the bespectacled one, she lifts a phone and immediately calls the desk. The same person who just addressed Edward now presses another button to unlock the door and admit him, then speaks. "Please, do come in, sir. I'll set the elevator to take you all the way up."

"Ah, good I— " Edward looks up from the button he was pressing, across the street to an empty park bench. His eyes narrow for a moment, and he turns towards the building, tipping his head in a quiet nod as he makes his way up and into the ground floor, one hand constantly rubbing over his chin. From the first moment she saw him on the cameras, Cat could tell there were too many differences about Edward. A person with an ordinary memory might not notice the extra wrinkles, the further receeding of his hairline, the sagging under his eyes. While Edward has aged gracefully, it's readily apparent with a quick glimpse of past events that this is a man who looks ten years senior to the Edward she knows.

By the time all those memories of Edward's appearance have been compared to the more recent memory of the man on the other side of that screen, the elevator is already ascending the floors of the penthouse, one chime at a time as it rises from the lobby slowly up to the fourth floor. When those doors finally open, Doctor Ray stands humbly, hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks, head bower and eyes upturned, looking beyond the doors as they slide open, watching with an eager uncertainty as probability and chance unfold and the odds are played.

She knows he's coming, and is thus there waiting for him when the elevator opens. The double doors into her personal residence across from the lift are open. Cat stands near one of them in shorts and a t-shirt, comfortable clothing worn about the place. Her expression is neutral but curious. The woman's head tilts to one side, and she speaks.

"It's interesting to see you turn up here, Doctor. Please, do come inside." She might ask how he found the place, but he seems ten years more aged. Perhaps come from the future. Maybe it's known she lives here then? But, then again she knows he has little trouble finding people he's looking for in the same way he turned up during the action on Rickham's behalf.

The vision from Joseph is recalled, the woman saying 'he' came back. A short time ago the most likely person was Nathan Petrelli. Now it seems there are two with equal billing.

Straightening his posture, Edward slips out of the elevator with a quirk of his head to one side, blue eyes following Cat's quietly across the room. "It's good of you to be so cordial, I figured after…" he hesiatates for a moment, unnaturally, then continues, "after I left without so much as a trace following the incident with the Vanguard you and yours may not want to have much to do with me." Quietly, Edward begins pulling off a pair of slim leather gloves, folding them up to tuck into the pockets of his tweed jacket. "You seem to be doing better for yourself now," his eyes wander the apartment while tucking the gloves away, and there's a certain oblique and unspoken question in the locations he's looking, as if to suggest where should I sit down?

She closes the doors behind him and secures them, then turns to join him. With her right hand Cat gestures to the seats in the entertainment area. Comfort abounds there. "I've always been of certain means," she replies with a dry chuckle. "An experience last December motivated me to use them for reasons of safety, and a more visionary purpose atop that." And, more somberly, "Mixing with someone's dying instructions to live well.

Her eyes come to rest on him again, she speculates on how much to share. "Your vanishing was abrupt, yes, but you never did guarantee permanent association. You did what you said, and went on your way. Where did you go?" She inquires, even though she knows to some degree.

"That's— " Edward crooks one brow and looks in the direction of the offered seats, making a presence of formality enough to go in and sit down, but never with the comfort of removing his jacket. "That's a surprisingly long story, Catherine," despite his outward formality, there's a laxed tone to his voice, no more titles and surnames, "though one that is at least tangentally related to why I came here today." Fidgeting once he's settled down into the seat, Edward folds his hands on his lap, eyes wandering the walls of the penthouse, like he's looking for something in particular — though the crease of additional wrinkles on his forehead and a shake of his head indicates he may not have found it.

"When was the last time you spoke to your father?" When Edward chooses his questions, it's always well thought out, carefully considered. This one, pointed as it is, is likely each of those things.

The course is set for now. Cat will keep how much, and how little, she knows to herself and see what he chooses to reveal. He has an agenda, she's fairly certain. Doctor Ray isn't one she believes would have come to find her without one. This fact, unspoken, is part of the reason behind her cordiality.

And her father is inquired of. The reply is calmly given. "April 6th, almost exactly three weeks ago," she tells him. "Would you care for something to eat and drink?" she offers next while remaining on her feet.

There's a pause, just long enough to be considering the dates as Edward bobs his head into a nod, but his words don't match the gesture of agreement, "No — thank you. I'm not particularly hungry or — " he reconsiders for a moment, looking around the apartment before revising his statement, "I'd love a drink, perhaps, if you could just fetch me a glass of water?" Blue eyes screen over to a doorway he can't fully see into, then back to Cat again. "I know this must seem to be remarkably personal questions, "he hardly misses a beat jumping back into the conversation, "but were you and Mason ever particularly close? Did he ever explain to you what he did for a living?" There's a certain gravitas given to the last few words Edward speaks, the way his eyes linger on Cat when he asks them, searching her expression for some other recognition.

"I— it's not that I want to pry," he chimes in before she's given ample time to answer, "It's just— a curiosity of mine, all things considered." He doesn't ask about the recent conversation, doesn't ask about the specifics of much, his hand seems to be trying to feel where the broad strokes lie. "You do know he's back in New York, correct?" And that there, is entirely rhetoric. Edward knows the answer to the question before he even finishes asking it, but sometimes the proof isn't in the answer, it's in the telling.

"Ours isn't the warmest of father/daughter relationships," Cat answers. "He's a driven man, a great deal of his focus was on the business, his work. Insurance. CEO of that firm for some years now," she adds. "You know him, and what he does," she muses, "you yourself told me of his Evolved ability being similar to yours. Neither he nor I have ever spoken of such things. Growing up, his interest was always more on seeing me become the proper daughter than on being happy. It carried over even into Yale."

A few steps are taken toward the kitchen, perhaps sixty seconds walk distant from the entertainment area where her guest is seated, she pausing there to turn back. "He is," she confirms. "Mother too. I saw her, and a few days later he called me." Oddity of oddities, that. To the kitchen she goes, returning with a glass of water after a journey of two minutes duration spent speculating on the reasons behind his queries. The game's afoot. Just what are an older Nathan who has Hiro's ability, an older Edward, and Tyler Case up to in the here and now?

Reaching out to take the glass, Edward stares down into it for a moment as he speaks. "I said I think your father's ability is similar to mine. It— it's all rather complicated, and I'll admit to being wrong every now and then," blue eyes track up to Cat when he says that, as if to make a point by it. "I need to ask you a very frank question, Cat, and I'm hoping that despite the tension between you and I at time during our last…" he hesitates to use the word, "professional work together, we still have a measure of respect for one another." Bringing the glass to his lips, Edward hesitates on drinking, and instead offers up the remainder of his caveat, "All I ask is that you keep an open mind."

She sits after handing off the glass, crossing her legs at the ankles. Her back remains straight, the head held high. Poise is a standard for her in most cases, this is no different, and curiosity rules now. Everything about him is made note of. Especially his choice now of calling her Cat rather than Catherine or some other more formal title. Now it would seem they come to the putting cards on the table part of this encounter.

"I'm listening," she replies. "But I caution, just as you have questions, so do I."

"If I told you that I needed your help, to protect the Company from collapse, and that in requesting this help could put you at odds with some of your friends, would you agree?" Ducking his head down slightly, Edward's eyes never leave Cat's, but the gravity of the question laid out there is one that not even Edward's shoulders can bear without some slacking. Sipping the water he holds in both hands, he lets the question sink in, and watches Cat's reactions for something, still seeming like he's searching for something here.

"You asked me to have an open mind," Cat answers, her face going stony after hearing the question asked of her, the mind behind her eyes forming questions of her own which pile onto others she already had. "And so I'm listening. Why on earth would I want to do such a thing? To protect the agency which makes people disappear, cloaks itself in the false authority of DHS, leaves dangerous viruses in existence to be stolen and potentially used to depopulate the human race?"

"An entity that, as I understand it, currently has you in a dark hole somewhere for attempting to assassinate the usurper President who lacked the guts and decency to out himself when he exposed all of us. We've no idea where, sadly. If we did, we may well have sought to raid the place and break you out. What redeeming value can they possibly have, and why do you want to make sure you never see the light of day again?"

"Lately, there are anomalies occurring. I have to wonder if you have any connection to these events, Edward." She doesn't elaborate, being interested more in what he'll tell her in reply.

Blue eyes shed no secrets — not initially, anyway — and Edward's cold stare lingers on Cat before she receives one of his traditional and pragmatic answers, "Because if the Company falls, if it collapses, something far worse — far more oppressive — is going to climb up and take it's place, and I can't allow that to happen," he looks down into the glass of water, then quickly back up to Cat with the cadence of his speech hastening some. "I need to know what side you're going to be on, when it comes down to it, Cat. I can't just have you straddling the fence, or if you're going to reject this— I need to know." He always needs to know, it's perhaps his one greatest flaw, his insatiable curiosity.

"I'm imploring you to listen to reason though. I may have made some hard decisions, I may have put people's lives at risk, but when have I ever led you astray?" He says it with such emboldened conviction, the forked tongue of a snake-oil merchant who begins to believe his own lies. But with the topic of discussion, it's hard to say whether Edward is deceptive or not, "the Company is in peril of being demolished, and I know," emphasized again to differentiate between just a gut feeling, and something more distinctly Edwardian, "that what comes after is the end for too many of us."

"The Company, and its ally the DHS, has begun to ratchet up the heat in what bears so very much resemblance to the marking of people with yellow stars of David, at the start of a path to concentration camps and Zyklon-B showers, then the mass crematories. It's difficult," Cat deadpans, "to get more oppressive than that. But I sense there's a story here, regarding what you say takes up the Company's mantle. I wish to hear it, all of it."

"But for now, I will tell some tales of my own. Recently, I am told of a man I once tried to keep out of Company clutches resurfacing and causing people to have abilities other than their own. One of these persons is an allegedly older version of the usurper President, the coward Nathan Petrelli. The man you're now locked up for trying to kill. Friends are missing, some of them people locked up by the allies of the people you want to protect for the shocking crime of daring to stop the Company's virus from killing ninety percent of us."

"I would suggest a far better course is to dig out proof of all the Company has done, discover the foundations of whatever would rise in its place, and unite factions all across the country to drag both entities into the light of day."

Listening, Edward sips at a glass of water quietly, one foot beginning to tap anxiously on the floor. When his bouncing heel stops, Edward looks up from the floor to Cat, "Your friends are safe enough, for the time being." There's no emotion when Edward says that, just impassive certainty, "but that could very quickly change." He dodges rather obviously the topic of Nathan and Tyler, taking a long and quiet sip from his drink before cradling the glass in both hands.

"The Company is a lesser of two evils at this point, Cat. It all comes down to whether or not I can trust you to do what is in the interests of the greater good, or some misguided sense of nobility and patriotism." The words come off a bit sharper than the Edward she knows, more clipped and impatient. "I need to know if I can count on you, Cat." His head shakes very subtly from side to side, "That's all I'm here for… but if I know you're with me, and that I can trust you, we can start talking about how to stop what your father is trying to do."

Throw out the line, let the bobber dance in the water, watch the ripples on the surface…

She still has her agenda. Cat believes Edward Ray would show up with evidence and exhibits to show, as he had with the items sent to him from his future self before. Now his future self, instead of sending things back, has come on his own. That makes sense, given he's in some dark Company hole. And now he mentions her Father being up to something. She's wondered at this also. And she's wary, perturbed, by the veiled threat and the avoidance.

Part of the picture around this man's presence has formed, so much more is unrevealed, and she needs information. The voice speaks again, with an edge to it.

"Tell me what my dear father is up to."

"Your father's a psychopath." The voice comes not from Edward, but from another man in Cat's kitchen. Thumping footfalls come from the doorway as a tall, broad-shouldered man with sandy-blonde hair walks into the room just as the electricity goes out in the entire building in one crackling pop. The backup generators fail to kick on.

"John," Edward emphasizes a name that does not go with the face of Tyler Case, the weary and tired face of a man easily ten years older than he looks in his police photos, "I was wondering if you had forgotten to tell everyone else about our little arrangement."

Blue eyes track back to Cat, brows furrowing, "While John here is a bit baised against your father, I can corroberate that he is indeed a dangerous man, working for someone far more dangerous than he is. Which is," Edward leans forward where he sits, "exactly why I need to know if I can trust you."

Her eyes track across the room toward the voice, and she stiffens when the power goes out. Forcing herself to be calm, Cat looks again from one to the other and a dry chuckle escapes. "This would be the part where you say if I don't see things your way, Mr. Case, Tyler Case, does to me what he did to Hiro Nakamura. I'd ask how he got in here, but then you do apparently have the altered Nathan Petrelli on your team."

Attention goes back to Tyler as she speaks. "It's been just weeks ago, you were sighted at the scenes of a few murders which got you on the Company's radar. One of their agents was temporarily given an ability from a man who could replicate at will. She made several copies of herself, but they were unstable and collapsed into a liquid mass reminiscent of results from attempts to install abilities artificially. Your name, sir, is Tyler Case. Not John."

"So," she seeks, "tell me more about my father."

John's expression sours, and he looks over to Edward with an expectant expression, "She's the one who's going to tell me everything?" His eyes narrow, and Edward looks up to that expression with both brows raised. The faint smile he affords John is all the answer the younger man needs, and the tired sigh that slips out of him is proof positive of his displeasure for the whole situation. Moving across the room, he wanders to one of the windows, pulling back a curtain with one finger to look out at the street, "Jesus, he took out the whole block…"

"Your parents," pluralizing the problem, Edward rolls his tongue over his teeth, then looks up to Cat with a lopsided smile. "I'm not so sure show and tell is actually the right option here," he moves to set the glass down on the table, "so instead, we'll do things a bit differently." Edward leans back in the chair, resting his arms across it in the rather casual gesutre, one leg crossing. "I need you to rally your compatriots in Phoenix to help with some work, undermining the Pinehearst corporation and ensuring that a man named Roger Goodman does not betray the Company's darkest secrets in just a few short months, thereby turning the world on its ear."

Blue eyes dart over to John where he stands by the window, then back to Cat. "I need you to get in touch with your father and arrange for a meeting between the two of you. This will… rather immensely help our operations, if you could. We're trying to prevent a rather dire fate from befalling all of us, Cat. I need you." His brows crease together, as if to emphasize the importance of this, "the world needs this to happen. You get your father to meet and talk to you, and he'll tell you everything about what your parents are doing."

Again she looks from one to the other. There's another person involved with them, one who affects electricity and took out a whole block. She didn't hear an explosion, so it doesn't seem like there was the outright destruction of equipment to cause it, and the backups didn't come on. Cat's head tilts to one side, she asks Edward "EMP? Point's made, you can turn the juice back on now." Great. More fodder for the reporters Abby drew here. Thank you very little, Edward Ray.

"My associates and I will talk soon," she assures, "and there will be actions taken." She does remember something from Wireless after she was released from capture saying to avoid Pinehearst, true enough. This does reinforce what they're saying here now. And she knows Goodman is connected to the allegedly not dead Arthur Petrelli. So that's why Carmichael asked which side she's on.

"A very intense and frank conversation between father and I is long overdue," she remarks some moments later. "That will soon take place."

"Your electricity is off for other reasons, don't worry." Edward breathes out a sigh, one dark brow rising slowly as he hears Cat's response. "When you have the meeting with your father set up, send a text message to," he rolls his eyes, "Robin Hood." Restless, John moves away from the window and comes to stand behind the chair Edward is seated in, looking down to him, and then interjects when he's sure he's not going to stumble over Edward's words.

"Ed, we should get going. Remember you said — " All Edward does is give a quiet, disappointed look to John, and the younger man lifts his hands off of the chair and backs away with a shrug and a fine, fine expression on his face. Managing a feigned smile to the reaction, Edward turns his focus back to Cat, head tilting to the side.

"I hate to be like this, Cat, but," Edward satands up slowly, brushing off his slacks, "I'm going to have to insist that if you try to do anything that might be considered dangerous to myself or the people I work with, John and I will come back," he feigns a concerned tone, "and I assure you what happened to Mister Nakamura will be a plesant alternative to what we'll be forced to do."

The gears are turning behind those eyes. Her reply is given in a solemn, curt tone. She has to wonder what goes in in this future he describes to make him act so. To be secretive and threatening. Where are the exhibits, the documents detailing future dangers and the specific details? What the hell happened to Edward Ray?

It has to be, she speculates, more personal involving Pinehearst than general for the world. If it were on the level of genocide and depopulation he would've come out and said so. Hell, she'd have bought that quick. If he'd told her Pinehearst takes over the world and starts using the Evolved as slave labor, he had to escape prison with no proof she'd have bought that too. But threats, to Cat, only cause her to stiffen in her instincts to attack in both directions as Patton once famously said he would if surrounded by Germans and Russians.

"You had Hiro's powers switched, deprived us of a valuable ally, Edward. So he must be a threat to you. I guess doing that wasn't enough, though. Now you have to see him dead by sending Adam Monroe and Ethan after him."

"Your father is much better at the guessing game than you are, Cat." Edward brushes off the front of his shirt, and motions to John to come over with one hand, "if you're looking for someone to point the finger at about Adam Monroe," blue eyes look her up and down, and take in that information about Ethan Holden quite carefully, "you might want to do so in the direction of the man he works for."

Sliding his hands into his pockets as John comes over, Edward raises one brow, "See how your father responds to that question." There's a sudden rush of air, a displacement Cat is well familiar with, which heralds the disappearance of John and Edward from the apartment, and in what feels like a split second, Cat finds the power in her apartment back on, though notably devoid of the two guests she entertained just a few moments ago.

When they're gone and the power is back, the woman left alone there scowls. Anger rises, the rage and frustration of her position. Threats. Secrets. There will be consequences. But she is also patient. First things first: gather information.

Cat stalks over to her phone and takes it up, putting in the earbuds and bringing up the number he contacted her from three weeks before. Then she waits for the other end to pick up.

Ringing, long and predictable, he never was one to answer his phone on time. When finally there is an answer, it's not the voicemail that she expected, but rather a tired sounding voice on the other end. "…Catherine?" It seems he's surprised to hear back from her, surprised that she's decided to call today of all days, and perhaps it's that tone of surprise in his voice that is most telling.

"Father," Cat begins, walking across the penthouse floor to the windows where she looks out and surveys the street, "we should meet. There are things I need to confess to you, and it should be done in person, in private." Her voice is calm, she's holding back the darker emotions coursing through brain and heart right now. "When might you be able to schedule it?"

She listens, then, revealing nothing other than she already has and ends the call with the meeting arranged and the standard pleasantries or what passes for them.

And with that done, Cat pulls up the text message feature. She taps at the screen, then presses send.

To: Robin Hood.

Subject: Meeting.

Tell your boss Cat says it's set.

There are more things to be done now, with the message sent. Send terse word to Teo, Elisabeth, and Wireless that Edward Ray has surfaced and desires assistance versus Pinehearst. Scope out the cameras to see how things are around the building.

Finally, there is beating the hell out of a punching bag with Krav Maga moves.

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