A Hell Of A Lot Of String


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif rebecca_icon.gif

Scene Title A Hell Of A Lot Of String
Synopsis Elisabeth takes Rebecca home to meet the rest of her cohorts.
Date June 11, 2010

Elisabeth Harrison's Residence

The trip to the apartment hasn't been made in strained silence. In point of fact, Elisabeth fills Rebecca in on the journey that she, too, was one of the affected people the other day.

"I'm reasonably sure, just from my previous experiences with Evo dream bullshit, that this was a vision of some kind. Whether it's of someone's fears of what's to come or an actual precog vision of the path we're on? That's anyone's guess. For myself, I was in the middle of a major riot," says Elisabeth as she opens the apartment door to admit Rebecca into the apartment that is her sanctuary and haven. "It was a fucking mess. And now that you've seen what happened to Gillian, I have some pretty serious concerns that what people saw may actually be something we're already on a collision course with."

A few lights are on already when the apartment's owner opens the door, because Cardinal - and Peyton - are already in residence. The television is on, talking heads bobbing on the screen discussing various takes on what happened the day before, a scrolling marquee beneath them talking about other news stories. Accidents on the Williamsburg Bridge. A murder down in the Bronx. The latest sports scores.

Cardinal's walking — back and forth along behind the sofa anxiously, his head lifting as the door opens. "Hey," he says, a quick, tight smile that isn't very genuine, shades perched upon his nose, "How'd it go?"

Sitting on the couch, Peyton has been quiet, staring at the television though not really seeing it — a quick glance at her eyes would show she isn't in the throes of her clairvoyance, unless she's trying to "listen" only — the audio part of her power doesn't reveal itself in dilated pupils. But she turns at the turn of the key and the opening of the door, offering uncertain smiles to Liz and the woman she at first doesn't realize she knows but then recognizes — Rebecca is the private investigator who helped her find Faye.

Following Elisabeth inside, Rebecca Nakano recognizes Peyton immediately and smiles towards her. The conversation in the car might prevent it from being a more sincerely warm smile, but it's one nevertheless. What Peyton is doing here, that's an entirely different question for the investigator. She's about to respond to Liz, when Cardinal's question makes it really unnecessary. "I'm afraid I don't know any details, but at least we know what happened." That will more than likely require further explanation, for which she looks to Liz to take over from this point.

Nodding to the man standing behind the sofa, Elisabeth's faint smile is both softer than any Rebecca may have ever seen from the ex-cop and full of sorrow and worry. A nod is given to Peyton as well. "Glad you're here…. I have a feeling you're going to be getting a workout," she says on a sigh as she locks the door behind her.

Once they're enclosed in the apartment and the security system armed, something that is as second nature as breathing to Elisabeth nowadays, the blonde also encases the place in a room-wide silence field. Not that anyone within would likely notice it much, except that it tunes out things like the hum of refrigerator. Why she does this even Liz isn't sure, but it too has become something of a habit when talking about things she's concerned about.

"Gillian was definitely taken. I texted both Sawyer and Fulk — Becca was able to watch them take her. They used gas and tasers; she fought them. And when they took her out of there, it was in a van we couldn't ID."

"Okay." It's a quiet, simple word, no requests for more information, no secondary orders. Cardinal falls silent for a few moments, just looking at Elisabeth unreadably, and then he moves to cross the floor over towards her with a sudden urgency, reaching out to snake one arm around her waist and pull her in against his chest, a hand sliding up beneath her hair to pull her head to his shoulder. Wordlessly he buries his face in blonde hair for a few moments, just inhaling the scent of her, the uncharacteristic show of public emotion going without explaination.

What? Gillian?" Peyton's up from the couch, her eyes wide. Yet another person she knows, abducted — it really shouldn't surprise her anymore. The color drains from her face, except for the bruise across the cheek where she hit it against the metal pole on the subway, which stands out more garishly against its paler canvas. She sits back down and rakes a hand through her dark hair, and without being prompted, her eyes dilate, the black pupils expanding until their is only the slimmest ring of dark brown surrounding it. She shakes her head, brows furrowing, and remains silent as she concentrates.

The move is unexpected and surprising. He's never been one to really advertise that they're a couple. Elisabeth wraps her arms around Cardinal's shoulders, holding him tightly with her lips hidden in the curve of his neck. No words pass between them, but when he finally releases her Liz's worry has expanded to encompass the man who has his hands on her. One hand touches his cheek lightly as she looks up into those glasses that he wears. Now is perhaps not the time to ask, though she does what she can to offer whatever silent reassurance the embrace may offer.

Treating it as if it is a normal movement, Elisabeth glances toward the other two women. "Richard… this is Rebecca Nakano. Becca, Richard Cardinal and I believe you already know Peyton Whitney. Richard would be the primary partner in the security firm; Peyton would be the office manager if we can get this enterprise off the ground."

Stepping forward to offer her hand to Cardinal, she nods with a slight smile. She's still a little shaken up after everything they've talked about in the car coming over here, but in the end, she's going to have to suck it up and let whatever fears she may have fall to the wayside. "Pleasure to meet you." She also nods to Peyton, though whatever dealing these two have had in the past go unmentioned, since it is considered a confidential service. If Peyton chooses to mention it, then that's her perogative. "Peyton. Nice to see you again." The Asian woman looks around at those she would probably start seeing on a daily basis if this enterprise comes into fruition.

"Trust me." Cardinal's only words as he looks down to Elisabeth are quiet and enigmatic, almost pleading as he turns his face into her hand, pressing a kiss to it and then dropping back a step. Then the mask's back up, a quick flash of a smile as he reaches out a gloved hand to shake the one offered, "Rebecca. Don't think we've met before, but I've had you check into a few things via proxy before… welcome to the board."

A half-turn, looking over to where Peyton's sitting as she stares off into space, waiting to see if she comes up with anything.

Peyton doesn't respond to Rebecca's greeting, her ears and eyes elsewhere for the moment — getting nothing but silence and blackness. She shakes her head, and turns to look at them, pupils shrinking back down in her eyes. Her brows knit together, and she shakes her head again. No luck.

"Just dark… It feels the same as when I tried to look for … for people who turned out okay later," she murmurs, not wanting to name drop in front of the newcomer until things are settled. "I think she's … unconscious or asleep." As opposed to dead. She still hasn't tried to look through a dead person's eyes — she probably should try one day, but she hasn't mustered the courage for that.

As if he ever has to ask — she's chosen her side of the line. It took a bit of a push, but there is no going back. And if what so many people saw *is* the future… once again, the city will lie in ruins around them. Elisabeth simply smiles at him, her expression shifting to a more neutral one.

Watching Peyton, Liz shakes her head. To Becca, she says quietly, "Peyton can see through other people's eyes, so long as she's had a connection to them." The explanation that Gillian's either asleep or unconscious doesn't seem to surprise her. And Liz returns her attention to the man next to her. "Rebecca's interested in what we're doing; she doesn't want to come in unless it's all-in. And considering that whatever the fuck it was that happened to so damn many of us the other day put her in a position to watch someone she knows kill her…. she seems to be ready to hear a good bit of what we know and what we've been up to for the past year."

Elisabeth glances at Rebecca and says quietly, "I brought you this far because I trust you. From here on in, it's sort of like Alice and the rabbit hole, Becca. The farther in you go, the more you see… the harder it is to unsee it all and pretend things are okay. If it's too much for you, I trust you to walk away and simply keep your mouth shut; to not burn the people I care about."

Whatever Peyton's ability is, Rebecca never was made aware in their breif encounter. So, when she finally realizes that she's using it, a look of fascination passes over her expression and she turns to the others as Elisabeth explains what's going on. That, is an amazing ability and would make her job a little easier. At least in some scenarios. Rebecca finally pulls her attention away from Peyton and turns it fully on Liz and Cardinal, listening to the woman who has brought her this far.

She has heard each voice in this room and her gut tells her that none of the voices she heard in her dream match any voices in this room, so at least for that, she's visibly relaxed. At this moment, she feels that everyone here can be trusted, which was one part of her slight hesitation after yesterday. The more people she meets, the greater chance she meets the person who might kill her.. if these dreams do some true. "I think you know you can trust me, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I am of the complete belief that once I get involved here, there's no turning back. You know what I can do, ability aside. I'm willing to give it all to this project." She smiles, "You're stuck with me now."

A grim smile tugs up a bit at one corner of Richard's lips. "Welcome to Wonderland, then, Ms. Nakano. You're going to learn a lot of… unbelievable shit in the days to come. Try'n keep an open mind, because some of it's really, really hard to buy."

"Alright. They were using gas and tasers, so the gas was likely negation gas… combined with the fact that she's being kept unconscious apparently…" Cardinal starts to pace again, both hands raking back through his hair and pressing against his brow as he raises his head back, "…this sounds like an Institute snatch and grab to me. The timing— the timing, what day was she taken, Liz?"

Peyton gives a small smile to Rebecca, noticing the other woman's gaze once Elisabeth explains Peyton's clairvoyance. "And hear, now, too, though the audio's still less reliable. I seem to be able to get them together, but I'm still having trouble just listening without the sight — but I'm practicing," she tells Liz. "I didn't hear anything either, but I think I'd only hear if she's registering it. It's not like eyes where they're closed, but… I think she probably still has to be conscious… I hope anyway, that that's what that means."

"Ms. Nakano," Peyton begins, to explain to Cardinal and Liz how they know one another, "was the investigator I hired to find Faye, actually." No reason to have secrets, if they're all one big happy family of future-murderers.

Elisabeth didn't know about the audio and that brings her eyebrows up. Pretty nifty… and then Cardinal's words register. "Uhm… Tuesday or Wednesday, I think." She pauses and frowns. "The Institute? Are you fucking kidding me? Now they're grabbing people right off the goddamn street??" Shaking her head, Elisabeth says quietly, "I'm going to put a bullet in that fucking bitch's brain at point-blank range if she is behind this." Her tone is cold as ice just now — she clearly expects Cardinal to know exactly who she means. "And I'm taking a whole fucking squad of FRONTLINE in with me."

Now that Peyton has let them know how they knew each other, Rebecca is a little more at ease. She doesn't like to keep secrets, and from this point forward, it doesn't appear there will be any. As Liz guesses the day and time, it's Rebecca who can narrow it down a little further. "Tuesday, probably sometime after noon." She can at least tell them that much. It's the details that Rebecca catches that have given her the edge on most investigators, and forensic officers as well.

Though Liz's anger draws her curiosity, Rebecca has to ask. "What's 'the Institute?' and who is 'she'?"

"Liz." Cardinal raises one hand, shaking it slightly from side to side, "I don't think she's behind the Institute…" The reassuring tone drops a bit darker, "…but I think I'll be stopping by to talk to her about this, very soon."

A heavy sigh spills from his lips, and he leans a hip against the back of the sofa, hands dropping down from his head to rest against his thighs as he leans forward a bit, eyes closed. "The Commonwealth Institute. It's a think-tank that's paid out of the government's black budget, that's staffed by a mixture of kidnapped scientists, amoral sons of bitches, and war criminals like Dmitri fucking Gregor," he explains roughly, looking back up to Rebecca, "If there's bad guys in the mix right now, they're them."

"I'd imagine it's not a mistake that Gillian was taken — not just a random street grabbing, anyway, given her power, right?" Peyton asks, huddled in the corner of the couch, her arms wrapping around herself. The realization that yet another friend is lost — and Gillian, who's been through so much, too much — is beginning to sink in.

"Well, Kershner better get off her pansy ass and find something on these bastards, Richard. Something we can fucking use. They can't keep on kidnapping people for experiments and shit. First people from the Suresh Center, now people like Gillian? How do we know this isn't retribution for the shit that came down with the girl? Maybe they're just out there grabbing people who've pissed them off for their experiments?" Elisabeth is … not exactly calm. Perhaps the whole being grabbed off the street to be potentially experimented on is hitting far too close to nightmares that she barely manages to keep at bay. "That means everyone in the damn Ferry that they can possibly ID is going to be at risk, and I know for a fact there's not enough manpower to cover everyone." Agitation triggers anxiety, and the anxiety just makes Elisabeth more angry.

She paces toward her kitchen, yanking a glass out of the cabinet to hold it under the tap with a shaking hand. Her jaw is clenched tight to keep from having a complete conniption. On the up side, the bass hum hasn't begun yet. That's got to be an improvement, right?

Now that it seems that Peyton is no longer engaged, Rebecca walks over and sits down next to her. "Whatever they're doing, this most certainly isn't the first time. The way they grabbed her was smooth, precisioned. They've either got a very good contingency plan and have practiced it to perfection, or she's not the first they've grabbed."

She watches Liz for a moment, before asking. "What is it that Childs can do that they would want her? The way this went down, this wasn't just a random grab. I can promise you that," says the only real witness to what went down.

Cardinal's head shakes slowly at Elisabeth's words. "No. Liz. Think about it… Gillian gets snatched, and - what - one, two days later, what happened yesterday happened? If you don't think they're connected, then you're not thinking straight." He pauses, explaining to Rebecca, "Gillian's a power augmentor. The second most powerful I've ever known - the first one, thank God, doesn't have his ability anymore."

A tilt of his head sweeps his gaze up towards the ceiling, and he frowns at it, "Why, though? What possible fucking benefit would they gain from giving a million or so people visions… of the…"

A few shades of colour bleed from his expression. "…oh, Christ."

Dark eyes widen at the same time Cardinal says to think — Gillian helped her power reach a level she couldn't have on her own. What if… But then Cardinal is growing pale, and she shakes her head, not following his train of thought to whatever track it jumped to. "What? They're doing experiments or something, right? Like… like that guy Doc in his water tank, what the hell purpose did that serve? Maybe this was just an experiment that went wrong? I wouldn't think they'd want people to see stuff like what people are saying they saw… Riots and fires and shit? That makes it look like the government is not doing a good job — why would they want us all to see that? Not that they knew that's what they'd get… what is it, Card?"

He's right. The probability that the blackouts are Evo related was probably already damn close to 100 percent, but when he puts it like that — It really never even occured to Elisabeth that Gillian might have been the catalyst for what happened. When she looks up to see his face pale like that, Elisabeth drops the glass into the sink. "What?" she asks in alarm. She hates it when he does that — looks like he had a great epiphany standing in the middle of the living room and it's Armageddon all over again. And then she has her own epiphany, dropping the glass into the sink to let it shatter there without even paying attention to it as she scrambles around the counter toward her desk. Her movements are nearly frantic as she pulls the drawers out and shuffles things madly, finally coming up with a map of the greater New York metropolitan area. "If Gillian was the key, if we can chart the reports and come up with a full area of effect, she would have had to be the epicenter!"

Rebecca is rising to her feet as she follows Cardinal's train of thought. She can see where this is going because she also saw something she would prefer not come true. While everyone looks to Cardinal for him to explain himself, Rebecca is mulling Elisabeth's idea. "It can be done. The data has to be gathered from all parts of the city of it won't work. I.. I can do it, if I had the data." This is where she'll be able to come in handy. She glances at Cardinal, though she doesn't voice the other's request or him to explain himself, she's a feeling it's going to come, ready or not.

"Shit, shit, shit…" Cardinal's eyes close tightly, his lips pursing in a tight grimace as he pulls his shades off, hand raising up to pinch the bridge of his nose, silent for a long moment, "…that's not a bad idea. That's not… god damn. There's eight million people in New York City — maybe seven, six, with the storm. At least one or two million were probably caught in whatever happened. Two million views of the future, two million perspectives…"

He pushes away from the sofa to start pacing again, gesturing with a hand, "…it's data and even if they can only get a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand of the glimpses…" A look back to Elisabeth, dark gaze serious, "Liz, they have Edward."

The clairvoyant's eyes grow wide as she stares at Cardinal's pacing and number-crunching. She's never seen Cardinal look this frantic, this worried — at least not when she could see his face. Shadows don't show their anxiety as much as the worried man in front of her does. She shakes her head to show she's not following until he finally comes to that very pointed point — They have Edward.

"What… I know he could tell the future or whatever, right? But … wouldn't this many visions just confuse him? I mean, who could make sense out of two-hundred thousand different perspectives? Plus … I mean, yeah, we saw what we think might be the future, but things can change, right? Things can happen that makes whatever we saw … void, right? I mean, that's what Endgame is about, isn't it? Changing the future, stepping on the butterflies we need to to get the future we want. How can looking at a bizillion futures make any sense for anyone, when now everyone who saw their future is going to act differently — unless the futures we saw take into account that we saw them…" Peyton's voice grows in earnest urgency before dropping and trailing off with confusion. String Theory is not her forte — to put it mildly.

Elisabeth drops the map in her hand. Blue eyes fly to Cardinal, appalled. "What?" No… no, that can't be right. She stares at him. "No…. both Edwards were dead, Richard. We saw it." She moves slowly to sit on the edge of the chair nearest the other two women, looking pale herself. She's trying to wrap her head around it. "So…. they wanted to see the future with as many points of comparison as possible. They're…. trying to make sure of a particular outcome. And …. Gillian would have been able to augment whoever the precog was to this level. But…. doing it might very well have killed her, Richard." She swallows and processes. "I've seen Gillian do some amazing shit, but augmenting someone high enough to force half the city to have a precognitive vision would have to take some major augmentation. Maybe even kill them both. And now they're going to crunch those numbers to figure out how best to get their outcome."

Elisabeth pauses, her brain reeling. "If Edward Ray is alive…. he's the one who started us all on this path. But… can he even be trusted if they've had him all this time?" She glances at Peyton. "And if anyone in the world could make sense of a couple hundred THOUSAND visions of the future, it would be him. Seriously." She grimaces. "And now you're getting into the realm of giving Lizzie a headache — cuz that kind of thinking is exactly what I hate about this job."

Running her fingers through her jet black hair, Rebecca shakes her head. She doesn't know any of the parties they are talking about. She's only just found herself involved, but what they are spelling out, it doesn't sound good at all. "Can this be done? It seems incredulous. Outrageous. If this is all true, then what will stop them from doing this again?" Her next question is directed at Elisabeth, "How would they get numbers? From this Edward Ray? Can they serious get him to tell them every dream everyone saw?" This is inconceivable to Nakano.

Rebecca turns to Peyton, "You'd know if Gillian was dead, right? Wouldn't you?"

"He's alive," Cardinal says with a tight shake of his head, vanishing into the kitchen area to find out what sort of liquor Elisabeth has stocked at the moment, voice drifting back over, "Liette confirmed it; the last she knew he was comatose, and God knows what the hell Tyler's ability did to him when it struck his head, but that doesn't mean they haven't figured out a way to access his power, or transfer it to someone, and… fuck, I don't even know."

The freezer opens, closes. Ice clatters in glass, "The way Edward's ability works, the way I understand it, the more data, the better… no, they can't do that, Rebecca. They'd— fuck. People are going to want to talk about it. They're going to want to tell people. Hell, even if they just got every cop and government employee to tell them what they saw…"

A drink in hand, he walks back out, shaking his head, "We need to get this data too. But— shit. Alright. This is all— theories, that's all. Might be even worse, whatever it is. We were supposed to be talking business."

"The data… it won't be hard to get tons of the information, if not everything. There's no way to get everything," Peyton says with a vehement shake of her head. After all, there's at least one vision that isn't going to be repeated any time soon, and that's hers — and she would bet that there are others keeping theirs to themselves, too. "Or people can lie," she adds. "I mean, if you saw yourself robbing a convenience store, you're not gonna tell anyone that. But others — they'll tell people. They were talking about it on the street — someone could go around and listen and write things down… Hell, I bet," she says, pulling out her iPhone and starting to move her fingers across the screen.

"Yep — there are already people posting them online," she adds, brows knitting together — that seems an innocuous thing to do, except given Cardinal's theory. She finally glances back at Rebecca. "I … I don't think she's dead. I've looked in on unconscious people before," she murmurs. "It felt like that. I guess I should try to look in on someone I know is … d-dead, so I know what to compare it to… I just have a feeling I'd get a fail, though. Like when I try with someone I haven't seen before."

Blowing out a breath, Elisabeth says softly, "Babe… this is our business."

Looking at Rebecca, the blonde shakes her head and says, "Welcome to the revolution, kiddo. First order of business, …. let's see if we actually can make some headway on marking the area of effect. No matter what we find at the epicenter, there's going to be something worth knowing." She glances at Peyton and Rebecca. "Peyton, I want you to keep checking in on her. If you look in every couple of hours and she's not at least come to once in the next day or two, they're going to be keeping her drugged and it's pointless to keep straining. Rebecca … Gillian would usually be our research guru, and it looks like you're up for the legwork here. The area of effect is your bailiwick, see what you can come up with based on the online information that pops, and hell… go ahead and tap some of our cop resources and see what they're hearing on the street. If they'e noticed that people on one street were effected but two streets over they weren't, it might give us an anecdotal place to start drawing lines on a map."

Liz shoves out of her chair and moves over to take that glass from Cardinal, helping herself to a hefty swallow of the scotch in the tumbler before handing it back to him. "Second order of business, make some level attempt to pull together the money to build a security company that is fully legitimate. Under the table, we run about saving the world through sheer dumb-ass luck and grit."

"I'll contact K.Apila tomorrow," Cardinal murmurs against the edge of the glass, "Ask her to start gathering up what accounts we have… talk to anyone you know that saw one as well. We need to know what happened, time stamps especially, anything to tell what, where, when…" A swig of his drink, and he lowers it, his eyes closed as he continues to talk, as if afraid of getting distracted.

"Peyton and I were going to look at a building we had in mind. We'll check it out this weekend and see what sort of capital we'll need. It's got a basement, and I'm going to need that…" Dark eyes open once more, although he's looking at something that isn't there.

"…and I'm going to need a hell of a lot of string."

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