A Fountain Of Information


cat_icon.gif leonardo_icon.gif

Scene Title A Fountain Of Information
Synopsis Leonardo Maxwell meets Cat. He does, and doesn't, get what he's looking for.
Date March 23, 2010

The Verb, 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.

It's a Tuesday. A day, or more, since she got the phone call on a specific number from a corporate executive who claimed Munin sent him. He even had a time and date, following the avian telepath's advice. Cat had been terse, but intrigued, by that fact having been set out. Afterward, she undertook to research the man and learn all she could from publicly available sources. Being well informed is always a good thing.

Upon his arrival at the Verb, the man was greeted by a member of the security staff. "Mr. Maxwell," he began, "Doctor Chesterfield is expecting you. Please take the elevator in the right hand corridor." A temporary keycard and key was provided, to be left in the penthouse after conclusion of business, with explanation of how to open the access panel which hides buttons for reaching the top three floors.

When the elevator doors open with the customary chime on the sixth floor, Cat is awaiting him across the short corridor with double doors leading inward open. Her attire is a business suit from Brooks Brothers in light grey with skirt and heels, hair pinned up off the collar. "Mr. Maxwell. Good afternoon, sir. Please, do come in."

"Ms. Chesterfield." Leonardo greets with a confident smile, wearing an expensive black suit with a matching briefcase in his right hand. He approaches her, taking in his surroundings, extending his wide sense of metallic objects almost out of habit when entering a new building. It's nice to feel the structure you're standing inside, and if your host is packing heat. "I was told you had an interest in this Rebel character, and H5N10."
She is unarmed, it would seem, the only metal registering on her person being in her hair and in the area of her chest. Underwire to a bra, perhaps? Once he's entered, she closes the entry doors and secures them. "Doctor Chesterfield," she rejoins, "if we're to be formal. Otherwise Cat is sufficient." The man is eyed as he speaks of subject matter, and her manner shifts subtly.

"Those are most interesting topics indeed. If you'll come with me to the entertainment area, you can relax and remove your coat." She is prepared, having a computer set up to display pertinent things on that immense HD screen, as well as food and drink. It was a telling thing, that he was given the name Munin to drop, which suggested this encounter would involve somewhat clandestine matters.

The way is led to the aforementioned place.

"Ah, excuse me, Doctor Chesterfield. For your age, you certainly know how to command respect." Leonardo compliments with a slight grin, starting to unbutton his jacket as they walk. "I have people keeping track of those little messages Rebel continues to leave, and trying to break those little puzzles of his. So far we've used his information combined with our own extrapolation to come up with a theory of the nature and purpose of H5N10."

"I was raised in society," she smoothly replies, "and have three degrees from Yale." Cat emits a slight chuckle, following up by stating "Along with having seen things most women of twenty-seven years haven't, aside from military service if they so choose. The past year and change, since I came to this city, have been nothing short of interesting and in some cases painfully tragic." The last is spoken with a more somber tone.

On reaching the place in question, which features comfortable seating along with that wall-length and ceiling height HD screen, is found a small refrigerator and microwave. Food has been laid out, as claimed, along with a selection of items to drink. Nothing is as yet displayed of her collected data on the subjects at hand. "Do tell, Mr. Maxwell," she invites. "Theories do intrigue me."

Leonardo carefully removes his jacket and places it on the back of his seat, then sits back and places the briefcase into his lap, taking out various files and handing them to her. "At first these seemed like completely unrelated events, but between news reports, Rebel's warnings, and the apparent effects of this flu, we believe it was manufactured by the government. These camps Rebel speaks of, we believe they were made with the intention of allowing infectees to die in them, thus culling the Evolved civilization."

He points to various timelines laid out in his files, nodding for her to take a look. "We've also factored in the idea that this blizzard is a part of the grand scheme as well, being used to keep Evolved, especially the ones rendered homeless by the Midtown disaster, indoors so that the flu will incubate and spread faster. Again, this all seemed rather far fetched at first, but the more time passes, the more things seem to be fitting into place."

"That it was engineered," Cat agrees, "seems likely." She taps a few buttons on a computer keyboard and moves the mouse, causing the screen to emerge from saver program and display items. Visible there are the complete contents of Rebel's website at various points in time as it's been changed, and the source items which pointed toward that site as initial announcements and prompts about change.

"However, at this stage all of this amounts to what most call conspiracy theory, absent undeniable proof. I found, on checking, that three persons disappeared after receiving H1N1 shots in Midland, Texas, and that these persons were SLC registered. I also have a report from a person on Staten Island of a similar event." Cat doesn't so much as look at the screen while speaking, she seems perfectly able to cite things without glancing their way.

"The weather, I posit, does potentially have the effect of creating favorable virus conditions, but it does have a silver lining. It discourages people from moving around the city as much, thus possibly limiting transmission, and interferes with mass transit to and from New York, which may contain it. So…" she muses, this perhaps being an angle she hadn't considered yet, "the goal is as you say, to not cause a widespread reduction in our numbers but to effect a partial reduction."

"It seems reasonable to believe the government's decided the Evolved population is too large for them to handle and they need a headstart so they can get all of these FRONTLINE units established." Leonardo theorizes, arms crossed as he patiently takes in all of the data on screen.

Something in particular seems to catch his eye, and he looks over at Cat with an inquisitive gaze. "Is this information impying that the government is possibly going to turn Summer Meadows and other such places into these camps?"

"That theory, about an oversized population, does seem to fit the facts gathered," Cat remarks. "Proof is another matter still. The same applies to Summer Meadows and the other places Rebel cited. Being made into ghettos is possible. Research aimed at verifying those claims shows that one location did indeed have problems with local crime, and a fence was set up to convert the place into a gated community in response. It's possible that's just a smokescreen, just innocuous enough to cause claims of ill motive to be dismissed as conspiracy theory until the trap is sprung. I am seeking to get some friends to make background checks on people who're appearing around Summer Meadows, in search of evidence about agents being planted. Proof," she states as eyes settle on the man's face.

"Even if it's found, caution is needed. Make it public the wrong way, riots could happen and play into unfriendly hands. It's also been suggested Summer Meadows isn't meant as a camp, but rather the hospital and military base being set up on Staten Island." She pauses, fingers moving the mouse again to bring up a folder and open files inside it one by one.

"Now these," Cat informs, "are medical records from 510 flu patients in hospitals which I altered to hide names and other privacy data, showing a near total correspondence between 510 virus and having gotten H1N1 vaccine. This is backed up by a report of fatalities a few months ago from tainted vaccine. I don't, however, have any data on patients not in hospitals having been vaccinated for H1N1 or not." Must speak with Melissa and ask her to find out.

Leonardo takes short pauses every now and then, trying to really process the amount of information he's given. He unfortunately has no superhuman memory. "Well, Munin has been given resources to fall back on, in case things get majorly out of hand with the flu. I saw to it. But these fatalities… do you think those vaccines perhaps contained early test versions of the flu, one that killed them too quickly?"

She is merciful, having stopped with the increasing amount of data that her guest might have time to read through it and keep up. Cat's fingers instead copy the already provided info and some others not yet touched upon to a USB drive. It seems, perhaps, she will furnish him with it. "Unknown," Cat opines, "but it may have served its purpose. People got the faulty vaccine and became ill outside of hospitals, thus having had time to spread it around, and the people thus infected spread it further. Have you," the hostess asks, "seen the most recent issue of Pause magazine?"

"You really are a fountain of information. I was originally going to speak with you myself, about those Pariah rumors, but Munin led me to you by pure convenient coincidence." Leonardo smiles, laughing slightly when she mentions Pause magazine. "I'm in the most recent issue of Pause magazine. They seem to have cut out the part where I ask the interviewer out on a date."

"What I found most interesting was the article on page 57, about Doctor Jean Martin Luis. I did some research on him." Cat brings up another document which contains her findings on the man and the place where he works." Next to that document she places the viral image Rebel had on their website at one time. "This," she explains, "is the Shanti virus. A rather lethal strain was nearly released fourteen months ago by a man called Kazimir Volken. He was stopped by non-governmental forces, the viral payloads were destroyed with thermite grenades." Her right hand comes off the mouse.

"A fairly non-communicable strain killed a girl called Shanti Suresh sometime during the 1970s. It's how the virus got its name. I at first thought perhaps Shanti virus and 510 were related, given the placement on the website, but found a researcher to show me images of the 510 virus. They're not the same. So… it was a mystery why Rebel would use that viral image in connection with all this until I read the article and researched the doctor." A few beats of silence pass.

"Isn't it interesting, Mr. Maxwell, that Doctor Luis's daughter died of an unknown virus she picked up during a visit to India in the 1970s, and he now works with a man sharing a surname with Shanti Suresh?"

"I can see two directions you're going with this…" Leonardo looks rather pleased, not so much at the subject matter, but at the general situation and flood of information opening up. "He could be creating new viruses to understand that one virus, giving them to the government and getting funding to continue his research. Or he accidentally created the Shanti virus in the first place. Though I'm no biologist, I simply hire those people."

"Or," Cat opines, "Rebel putting the Shanti virus on his site was a cryptic way of pointing toward Doctors Luis and Suresh. They ask a number of times what we're missing. This could be it, a small clue for people to find and explore. It's speculation, to say or believe Juliette Luis and Shanti Suresh died from the same illness. It's speculation to allege the 510 virus and other angles we're discussing are tied to this institute, but something is up there. Hidden away somewhere in this city is a girl Rebel managed to spring from her handlers," Cat explains.

"This girl may be another daughter of Doctor Luis. Appearances are she was raised in a lab, given she seems to know little of the world and has no guile. She mentioned people at her father's lab being kept asleep in tanks, said he performs tests and would be eager to perform tests on people with certain abilities, and recognized the faces of two scientists believed to be in government hands."

"And what exactly do you intend to do with this information?" Leonardo appears to have either run out of things to add, or is possibly considering his own courses of action, hands gripping the seat while sitting back as if he simply belongs here. "I could attempt to buy my way into this institute, if possible. Though you're a woman of wealth yourself, so I imagine you've already considered such things."

"Your resources run deeper than mine," Cat replies. "Buying your way in would be too overt an act, I think. What's needed, I believe, is to keep learning whatever the girl can be persuaded to share, and to also look directly at the source. To infiltrate and discover just what's happening in there, without anyone tied to the place knowing anyone's paying attention. If proof is found, my desire would be to blow the lid off of it."

"To publish it all in such a way as the Feds have to take action and shut it down, unable to sweep anything under the rug or make people who know too much disappear. At present, sadly, anything made public would only be derisively dismissed. They'd not need to cause vanishings, all they have to do is call it ludicrous and join the raucous laughter. But if they learn people are checking them out, don't underestimate what they might do to keep their secrets. It's an easy path to being the occupant in one of those alleged tanks. Or worse."

"Somehow I doubt their ability to do such a thing to me." Leonardo confidently says, regarding the tanks, though doesn't bother with elaboration and simply moves on. "Is there anything I can provide you with that would make information gathering any… easier? If I'm already buying islands, I imagine I'm in for the long haul."

She's curious, she has to ask. "Which island? Is this tied to your business with Munin?" Moments later, Cat's moving along. "The first step, I believe, is surveillance. Any kind of lab needs technicians, doctors, and researchers to do the work. They have to come and go from the place, unless they're housed inside and kept semi-hostage. They can be spotted, photographed, and studied for their habits and other things. Perhaps at some point some can be approached and bribed into sharing data. Also… if the stories of tanks and such are true, at least one person inside would have to feel crises of conscience. At the same time, we can try to find people with knowledge in the right fields to seek and gain employment…"

Leonardo smirks slightly, though it's hard to determine his reason for doing so. "Oh, no, it's just classified business stuff, you know how it is." He casually shrugs. "I can possibly supply one or two people in the scientific field to you, provided no questions are asked."

"I do," Cat agrees with a slight grin, "and I won't forget. I've got some more preliminary details to gather and tend to, but I'll be in touch." At this point she seems ready to set aside business and turn attention to food provided for here. Perhaps to Mr. Maxwell's dismay, she doesn't seem likely to tackle him over a coffee table.

Though on the subject of tackling him over a coffee table, "So, since everything seems to be in order." Leonardo starts looking over the food himself, demeanor becoming more playful than before, not that it was anything but casual to begin with. "You're the type to keep things strictly business, aren't you? That's simply the… impression I get."

"It depends," she tells him quietly, "on the situations. I've been known to indulge in hedonism at times. But I'm also focused. Staying busy is the best way to cope with things in my life that've happened. To always make new memories and avoid dwelling on what's been lost." Cat fills a glass with cola from a two liter pepsi bottle, then retakes her seat. "There are always things to do. And learn."

Leonardo takes his own glass, appearing almost vaguely surprised at her answer. He expected at least the words 'highly' and 'inappropriate' somewhere in there. "I'll tell you right now. I'm not one who does much separating of business and pleasure. My general train of logic is, I have the skills to make up for that minor breath in my ethics."

He holds the glass up in a bit of a toast, then takes a sip. "Though I'm very interested in this hedonism of yours."

"If," Cat begins, "you someday discover what my hedonism entails, Mr. Maxwell, it will come with the understanding of no attachment, and that discretion applies. Not to mention such things are entirely outside of and separate from any business matters." She shows a slight smile, but there's an aloofness to her bearing, a manner which suggests she at times indulges urges and desires but isn't one to let someone close. Suggestive of having done so before and suffered, whether through fatality or other outcome.

"I wouldn't have it any other way, Doctor Chesterfield. One simply wonders how a seemingly straight-laced and highly focused woman like yourself unwinds." Leonardo takes another sip, his own smile mostly flirtatious. "And how I can aid in such an endeavor." He is rather shameless and confident about it, though appears to be attempting a great deal of tact.

"I have my ways," Cat tells him. "Krav Maga, archery, firearms, guitar, and other instruments. Should I indulge in hedonism with you, I'm certain it will be an unforgettable experience." She realizes he may not get her full meaning, but isn't inclined to explain. The future is an open question, but for today fortune sha'n't smile upon him in the way he hopes.

Cat will simply enjoy her food and drink along with his company.

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