A Matter of Choice


abby_icon.gif bennet_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif cat_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif grace_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif mcrae_icon.gif

patrick_icon.gif peter_icon.gif scott_icon.gif seratto_icon.gif susan_icon.gif tien_icon.gif

Scene Title A Matter of Choice
Synopsis Messiah and Endgame appeal to the Ferrymen's organizational council. Reception is mixed.
Date August 9, 2010

Deveaux Building

Suffused with the last fifteen minutes of daylight, a misting rain paints the rooftop of the Deveaux Building in glittery shades of palest blue, deep purple and indigo, silver where moisture gathers on its concrete lip and the sculpted edges of the statuary that looks out over Midtown's skeletal remains. As the sun sinks over New York City, the figures assembled on the roof resemble dark silhouettes, their identities safeguarded by shadow, a mystery to everyone except one another.

Susan Ball doesn't like it. Dressed in a long white coat worn over an ivory blouse and navy slacks, a matching umbrella tucked under her arm, the redheaded council member has obvious misgivings about revealing herself — and the others — to the individuals she's been summoned here to meet. At her side in a slick black raincoat, his arms folded across his chest, Yuan Tien is at home in the rain and seems not to mind the rivulets carving paths down his face and jowls. What he feels toward the strangers in attendance, on the other hand, is a mystery — there is simply no reading his dark eyes or the stubborn jut of his chin and mouth, but he, like Susan, wouldn't be here if he wasn't willing to at least hear them out.

A utilitarian Eddie Bauer rain parka on top of a t-shirt and jeans, Patrick Hale moves to lean against the railing. The firefighter glances at his watch. "Oh, good, thought I was gonna be late. Traffic sucked on the way over," he says easily. He's one of the furthest away, out in Long Island, and rather than rely on public transportation, he drove his Jeep to the city before then relying on the subway and then walking the rest of the way to keep anyone from knowing the whereabouts of this meeting. He gives a nod to those who have already assembled, glancing at the strangers amongst them curiously.

Grace seems fairly unflappable, for her part; the dark-haired woman is dressed in jeans, a dark blue shirt, and a rain-damped windbreaker that all look black in the evening's dying light. Its hood is drawn up over the woman's head, but no doubt provides only minimal protection from the falling damp. She sits nonchalantly on the rooftop's boundary wall, ankles crossed and hands braced against the wet concrete to either side.

Park the rental, run like hell to where the meeting was. The last call on the ambulance had been one that took forever and so Abigail had been one of the last ones to arrive, still in her uniform, little dark splotches on her navy shirt and pants that she hadn't had the time - nor inclination - to change. She still had much to do after she got finished here. But there she is with the others on the roof, not caring about an umbrella to protect her from the rain, her work jacket and a baseball cap fit loose will have to do. The edges of purpling just barely visible under the cap. "Everyone and their mother needed the rigs today, I don't think I ever did so many runs" Commiserating with Patrick.

Serrato is there too, black umbrella, jeans and polo beneath his own waterproof jacket and boots, waiting for whatever will happen during the meeting. A glance to susan then back to everyone else, the black man is tall, broad shouldered and silent.

As usual early to these meetings, Joseph simply stands and waits patiently for everything to begin, the sooner they can then leave and get out of the rain. His hair has gone near jet with the continual light fall of rain, neglecting hood, umbrella, hat, as if it were too fine for him to bother, and so moisture beads brunette strands, dissolved into general dampness when he thinks to comb fingers through. He leans a hip against stone, arms bundled around him in a neutral fold, and doesn't seem reluctant to be out here, rain and all. The sky's gone interesting colours and captures his attention, regarding bruisey sundown from this height up on rooftop, and the broken up city spread nearer.

The shadows cast by the pigeon coop disgorge the shape of Richard Cardinal, the jacket he's wearing tugged into place about him as he adjusts to corporeality. The man's expression is just this side of grim as he steps out into the cool mist descending from the ominous clouds stirring above the building. No words of greeting are spoken, merely a serious nod before he steps along over to the edge of the rooftop, one gloved hand falling upon the cracked cherub statue as he gazes out over the ruins of Midtown.

Occupying a position which overlooks the street below, eyes on the spot where she stood just short of two years before and observed this building after hearing Peter Petrelli speak of a meeting, Cat too is quiet. A light hooded raincoat shields her from precipitation, umbrella use having been eschewed. Storms are roiling within the woman's mind, of a temper more dire than the one providing water to the city, as she awaits the commencement of business at hand.

Scott Harkness and Noah Bennet seem to have very different reactions to being on this rooftop. Harkness' focus is squared on the vision of Midtown as a bristling backdrop of ruined buildings and the ground-zero crater in the distance. Silence is admittedly all Harkness can muster on this particular vista, and for all his years of living in New York City, he's never quite seen the ruins of Midtown from this height and this perspective. Maybe that's why he never personally went to Hotel California, who's eviscerated skeleton can be seen several blocks away from here. It spared him the view.

Noah has more of a personal stake here, and his looming position over a particular spot of rooftop real-estate adjacent to the unique sculptures up here mirrors where he stood the day Kaito Nakamura thrust an infant Claire into his arms. There's visible tension in his expression, but that is not just because of the histories this place has, but because of the young man he's presented with here that he has not seen in a very long time.

"I'm glad we could all get together like this," Peter Petrelli. "I'm sorry for making you come out here in the rain," he admits with a lopsided frown, one of his arms bound into a sling against a rain-dappled gray t-shirt. Dark jeans don't show the dampness as much from the rainfall splashing up from shallow puddles on the old roof. He looks casual, if nothing else, and remarkably devoid of a characteristic scar that several people here last saw him having.

Looking battered and more tired than he did earlier, Peter takes slow steps around the rooftop. "I think you all know what I'm going to ask of you," Peter explains with a look towards McRae, meeting the shaman's stern and pale gaze with a darker one of his own, "what I'm going to ask the Ferry to help with. We have a responsibility to the people imprisoned in the Staten Island Hospital to liberate them at any cost to ourselves, a responsibility to the people we try and protect. I don't want to speak in absolutes about situations like this, but it's hard not to. It's hard not to say that if we turn away here, if the Ferry stays passive, that we might not actually succeed."

Dark brows crease together as Peter looks over to Eileen, then Grace. "Richard Cardinal's group and my own have lent as much as we can to this cause, but we need the Ferry's full support for this to work. I know most of you have been briefed on what is at stake here, and I don't think I could live with myself knowing that we didn't do everything in our power to rescue our own."

Turning dark eyes to Eileen, Peter breathes in a slow and tense breath. "You all understand the risks of what participation in this would entail," and sweeps his eyes to Joseph, "but you also have to realize what will happen to the people in that facility if we fail. Death would be preferable to the torment they're undergoing, to the human experimentation and forced internment."

Brown eyes meet Susan's briefly, "I used to be passive," then to Patrick, "I used to be a part of the Ferry and a member who refused to get directly involved," then to Abby, "I used to think I was done fighting," then across to Serrato and Noah, "I know differently now."

Peter takes a few pacing steps around the group, his attention squaring on Scott Harkness. "I know some of you are reluctant to fight, but I know some of you brought up arms against the Vanguard in the past." Peter's attention drifts to Cat, "I know some of you would join this fight without hesitation…" then finally he's made his full circle. "But we don't need the individual. We need the network… or this isn't going to succeed."

"You need cannon fodder." This from Susan, who feels compelled to raise her voice just a fraction louder than is strictly necessary to be heard. "You're talking about launching an assault on a heavily-guarded scientific facility in the Reclaimed Zone right next to Miller Field. You'll be lucky if you can get past the checkpoints, never mind infiltrating the hospital itself — and then what? We fend off the National Guard while Messiah liberates our people so they can execute the lot of us as soon as you set foot outside the building."

While this would normally be the perfect place for someone like Eileen to interject, the Englishwoman is strangely silent beside Joseph. The mockingbird perched on her shoulder meets Peter's gaze in her stead when he directs it at her, its glittering black eyes sharp and alert. Both bird and Ferry operative are dressed in shades of gray with darker accents, but it's the textured combination of leather and wool that allows the latter to blend in with the rain-slick concrete's muted tones.

"How many fighters are you asking for?" is what Tien wants to know, his query tersely spoken but neutrally phrased. After what happened at the Armory, it's no surprise that he's more open to the idea than Susan is.

Patrick's brows furrow when Peter glances his way, wondering if the younger man is suggesting that those he's addressing are all of those flaws Petrelli once saw in himself. He glances at Susan, part of him seeming to agree as he gives a small nod, but he frowns deeper. "It's worse than death, like he said. I mean, we're hypocrites if we don't try," he murmurs. "Gotta be voluntary, though. No one should feel forced to do that, or that makes us as bad as the other side. Totally volunteer. We have too many damn kids in our ranks, and I don't want any of 'em to feel they have to fight if they're not ready to." He gives a shrug. "I'll go. I don't got anything better to do."

Those who know of Patrick's history know he means he doesn't have anything else worth living for. Might as well die for the cause.

"It's called it getting back members of our group who have been with them too long. Messiah numbers are strong, Cardinal's faction, have numbers too. I don't normally advocate violence, nor trend towards participating in it, but they have many of our members. We've been waiting for a time to decide what to do, maybe finally, we have the chance to do it" Abigail donates her two cents on the matter.

"over three quarters of our number were taken in Canada and they were still there, waiting for folks who might come back. They have Gillian, had Joseph, they now have Teodoro. I'm the last person that would likely say we need to help, but this time, this is the time. They won't be expecting us to assist in something like this" She looks to Peter then to Cardinal. "I'll help. Regardless. If it means I gotta.. do what I can do, or I walk in with you all so that if anyone gets hurt, I can drag them out, I'll be there" She's seen the look on Francois's face day after day. It's time to get Teodoro, and the kids need Gillian back. She didn't like to see the fast fading hope in their eyes.

Serrato just grunts, yet nods his head to Tien and Patrick. "Volunteers only." But he doesn't volunteer. "Some folks can't risk their real lives to go running into a death trap"

There is a loosening of tension in Joseph's shoulders, from its initial build during Peter's words, gradual decline as those offer their opinions — Abigail included. "They've hit us too hard too many times, and being passive, being non-militant, don't mean takin' abuse. I don't believe we're bein' asked to be cannon fodder," he says, when it seems like it's his turn to speak, a glance towards Susan. "'s a cynical outlook, if you ask me. I've been rescued in this manner before, and it'd be selfish if I were to vote no 'gainst others gettin' the same chance I got. Volunteers only, like the others say.

"And keep it on a need to know basis when we pass out the information. Be smart about it. We don't need kids showin' up." Though they have a tendency to do anyway, Colette, which might be exactly why Joseph makes that next point a little louder. He also isn't volunteering, quiet reserve in his lean beside Eileen, hands folded together and hanging loosely.

"The situation's worse than any of you know." That from Richard Cardinal in quiet, serious tones, his fingers sliding over the cracked and blackened stone of the cherub's head as he turns around to look at the gathered members of the Council, "I just got an intel report from my agents today. This has gone beyond just… us against the Institute. There's no more hope for negotiation, no hope they'll release the people they have trapped there. If we don't do this, Teodoro, Gillian, Lynette, Noriko, all the other Evolved being kept prisoner there - they're all dead. The Institute isn't in control of the hospital anymore. It went dark this morning, and when they sent in a team to investigate, they immediately lost contact.

"The inmates are running the asylum."

Silence is kept as Peter commences his spiel on the mission, though Cat does turn to watch him as he speaks. Features are stony, and only get stonier as the details are laid out and names are mentioned. It's only when Abby speaks that she chooses to break quietude, the voice coming out sharp and almost hissing. "They grabbed Teo too?" That's a surprise, clearly. Fists clench for some moments before releasing as she reigns in temper. "My stock has sunk so low as not to be kept in the loop," she mutters, "though I shouldn't be surprised." Her head shakes a few times, eyes leveled on the Shadowman, before she proceeds to the mission itself.

"It's crucial to have a solid idea what opposition we're likely to face there. Beyond what we'll be able to see directly, we need be prepared for reinforcements." Like the helicopter assault forces at Moab. "I caution also that the Institute has at least one of its own Frontline teams, and urgently recommend anyone taking part wear biohzard suits."

A rasping, gravelly voice adds itself to the mix. "The Ferry's always stood by choice, and the right to choose. Those who want to go, let them: provided they do not compromise the network when they do." Grace glances to Abby. "Anyone who chooses this and gets burned for it, we can't afford to go rescue again. It doesn't make us hypocrites," she continues, looking over at Patrick.

"The network is not special forces, hostage rescue, or even experienced burglars. Or terrorists," Grace adds in a dust-dry voice, blue eyes flicking to Peter with the slightest of sardonic smiles. Her humor does tend to come with edges. "We are not Endgame or Messiah: the network exists to shelter and succor. We, most especially the we who are here now, have an obligation not just to a few people, but to many: the network follows our lead.

"Whatever we endorse," Grace continues, looking past Cardinal to each of the Ferry members present in turn, voice growing more roughly hoarse as she speaks, "needs to aid the Ferry's capability to shelter, or at the absolute least not reduce it. We need to not lose sight of that," she concludes, gaze skipping to Tien, Patrick, Abby in particular. "If we try to be something else, we'll only lose what we've built.

"We can support. We're good at supplies, at preparations, at fading others into the city. Beyond that, what individuals choose to do is between themselves and their consciences," ruined voice grinding into a rough whisper, and finally silence. It was a rather dense little monologue, for Grace.

Dark eyes narrow at Susan and Peter offers her a measured frown for a long, steady while before turning his attention around the group, settling on Cardinal when that grim news is offered out. Exhaling a sharp sigh, Peter's head bobs in slow nod as he tries to collect and compose himself. "The planning of the attack can come over the next few days. We're looking to move on the hospital no later than Thursday and we will have electronic countermeasures in place to delay the arrival of military backup. As for how we get in to the facility, once I know who we have to work with, I'm going to coordinate a planning session between Messiah's chief tactician and tactical elements from the Ferrymen and Endgame in order to establish a plan of action on the assault that will not result in us being trapped there."

Exhaling a sigh, McRae dips his head down into a slow and solemn nod. "You'll have my help, without hesitation and without the council if need be, but you also have my vote when it comes down to it." There's a crease of McRae's brows, "We are still deomocratic, aren't we? Voting before we make decisions for the network as a whole?"

There's a look from the bald atmokinetic to Grace and Susan, "I think that those of us who didn't experience Moab personally like Peter and I here did," there's a tap of two of McRae's fingers on a scar at the side of his neck that matches one Peter has partly concealed by his beard, "don't understand what it is we're fighting against. Me and mine will help, we've fought and died for the Ferry before, and this ain't much different from Humanis First…" which had McRae's expression turning more solemn, remembering the death of Carolina rescuing others from Huamnis First's captivity this time last year.

"I'm going to abstain from direct involvement in this," Harkness notes in a quiet tone of voice, "While I agree that we cannot sit by and let our people be taken advantage of by the Institute, I also cannot openly support violence against a branch of the United States Armed Forces. PMCs like Stillwater is one thing, but I have certain convictions and reservations about fighting young men and women who are only going their due dilligence to protect this country, misguided as that may be at the moment."

Scott's attention driefts briefly to Grace, with an affirmative nod, before he turns to look back to Peter and then around to the rest of the council. "I abstain both from my vote on this matter and my own involvement. Neither I nor McKeon or Young will participate in this, however we will help with whatever tactical assessments you may need or post-op medical or logistics. It doesn't go beyond there."

"Peter," is said in such a way that Noah's voice has Peter jerking around, brows furrowed and eyes somewhat wide at the addressing of the former Company agent. "I don't know when this became a war that we were involved in, and I don't know when you thought you'd become the martyr for it… I don't agree with what you or Messiah are doing, and let me be specifically clear," now he's taking a tone, "that I do not approve of what you have had my daughter doing," and advancing on Peter, "but…" and there he stops his approach.

"But I agree that we need to work together on this, and I agree we can't allow this to continue." Breathing out a slow and tired sigh, Noah lifts up one hand and rubs his fingers across the creases of his brow. "My vote goes for the network as a whole to be made capable to assist in this, not just on an individual basis. I say we have safehouse operators approach their membership and ask for their assistance and go from there, but this is something I'd like all operators to be made aware of. I'd also request to be present for the tactical assessment and planning."

Surprised by that and a little intimidated, peter stares up at the taller frame of Noah Bennet for a moment of awkward silence, then dips his head down into a slow nod. "You've got it," he agrees whole-heartedly. Then, however, Peter looks to Cat and Cardinal and back again. "If the Institute's lost control of their pet project, do we have any idea what they might try and do? If the entire facility is a loss to them…" he doesn't want to say it. But in the back of Peter's mind, he can almost hear Kazimir's voice speaking a very specific phrase.

Cauterize the wound.

"How many people can you possibly hope to save?" Susan demands of Peter and Cardinal, but mostly Bennet on the tail of his proposal. "A dozen? Two? How many of us are going to die for only a handful? There's no guarantee, none whatsoever, that this operation is going to succeed if the network agrees to help." Blue eyes flash at Patrick and Joseph, accompanied by a curling lip and thin scowl that does ugly things to her face. "Volunteer only doesn't mean a damn thing and you know it. You're on the council because people trust you enough to make their decisions for them. The kids especially, and where do you the draw the line? Eighteen? Nineteen? They're still babies at twenty, and they want to fight. We have a responsibility to keep them safe and everyone here is nodding their heads when Petrelli tells us we should be making them martyrs."

Something about Susan's choice of words has Tien's forehead rumpling, silver-threaded brows knit together as he considers the implications of her argument and what Cardinal has brought to the table, but it's Grace's words about choice that ultimately solidifies his decision. "Eighteen is old enough," he says. "We've all seen and met with Liette Fournier and know that the Institute has no mercy for children. They should not expect mercy from children, either."

"We can commit the network to opening a field hospital out of the Greenbelt's nature center to treat the wounded." Eileen's voice has softer edges than Susan's shriller tenor or the gravel in Grace's, and although her accent contributes to the gentleness of her tone, it's also very quiet. "Those who desire to support the operation without risking their lives can volunteer under Young and Beauchamp's supervision. My vote lies with Bennet's."

"And mine," Tien puts in, and it's fortunate that he had no plans to elaborate any further because Susan is cutting back in again on the last syllable.

"You're a coward, Scott," she snaps, though there's something subdued and defeated about the way she says it, steadily losing energy. She knows when she's lost. "You may as well give them your fucking vote."

"They have minds and hearts, and it's not up for us to make those for them, even if we support the cause. If they're strong and old and smart enough to sign up to put their lives in danger every day for the people we shelter, they're strong and old and smart enough to make this decision, as well," Patrick says evenly, though his soft-spoken voice is a touch louder than usual as he looks at Susan.

The firefighter nods to Noah, indicating his vote as well, though he'd already agreed. "And we can veto volunteers. If they're a danger to the operation, better not to let them go, no matter how willing to be 'martyrs.'"

"Language" Abigail snaps at Susan, despite the fact that others may have actually said swear words while present. She looks like she might have a few choice words for Susan if the look on Abigail's face is any indication, or the hands at her sides curling into fists. "He's not a coward" He says instead. "He's doing what he feels is right in his mind and his heart. If you don't like it, then you don't have to like it, and if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all Mrs. Ball. But you don't sit there and call the man a Coward after all he's done for this group. No one here is a coward if they choose not to go in guns blazing, or even helping man a medical station. We all dictate out own level of involvement and do as much as we want to"

That said, and jaw tight. "I'll participate, medically speaking and will help work up a medical station and try to get the other houses that take our medical issues ready to recieve anyone that might need the attention. I'll work with Megan to draw up a list of supplies in excess of what we might need so that the ferry stores will be dented into as little as possible."

There's silence for several long moments from Cardinal, as he turns away from the question to look out over Midtown - the blasted ruins created by an uncontrolled release of nuclear power from the very man that just made that inquiry. The answer, when it comes, is all the more ironic because of it.

"It's been… suggested," Richard admits reluctantly, turning back to the others, "That they might… ensure that nothing remains by deploying a small nuclear weapon. That isn't confirmed, but even their operating procedures, it does make a certain kind of sense." That said, he falls silent for a moment, allowing the potential horrors of Staten Island being nuked to settle into their minds before he speaks again.

"This might not just be about saving a dozen people anymore, Ms. Ball. This might well be about saving the entire god-damn city. Even if they don't decide to sanitize the site, there's enough viruses and other biological nastiness in there to make Shanti look like the common cold, and I guarantee that the monster that used to be Dmitri Gregor won't hesitate to release them." He gestures to Peter, "I'm with Bennet - I don't agree with Petrelli's methods in the slightest, and I think Messiah's hurting our cause more than helping it, but we're in total agreement that this needs to be taken care of."

The Council's regarded seriously, and he admits, "I wouldn't want any non-volunteers with us in any case, though. This is too dangerous to force anyone to participate in."

"There's no need of casting insults upon each other," Cat states evenly, "people act according to their consciences. We have no need of martyrs, I would say that much, but guarantees can't be made no one falls in this action, or any other." Her eyes rest on Scott briefly, as she asserts "Whether or not we agree on the subject of action against soldiers who violated their oath to support our Constitution by being tied to the Institute, practicality says it's better not to fight them. We need some means of inspiring them to run away instead."

Here, Susan is faced. "If you assist us, we can locate their commander and he might be persuaded ordering his troops to disperse is a very good idea. Barring that, it would also help if we let them know just what they're defending, and so if they remain they've made a conscious choice. They're no longer in any way innocent."

"That one's free, Susan," Scott notes in a quiet rumble, "but you say it again and you're getting a time out…" is all Scott has to say to Susan's accusation of his bravery. "Maybe when you actually have to fight for something that isn't handed to you, you'll learn what it's like to have to make a hard choice." He turns, brows creased with a jerk of his head towards the skeletal framework of the greenhouse as he walks through the center of the group, directing Grace to come with him.

As he makes his way out, Harkness offers an askance look to Susan with one brow raised, then crunches broken glass underfoot with the doubled footfalls of Grace's departure behind him. Peter lifts up a hand to rub across his forehead at that, then slides his tongue across his lips and takes a steady backwards step and turns to look back at McRae and some of the others at his flank.

"We don't know if the military at Miller Field is connected to the Institute at all, for all we know they're just there to help keep the peace in the Reclaimed Zone. Stillwater Securities PMC is directly Institute-owned, and they'll likely be the first problem we have to deal with…" and therein lies Peter's scrutiny on Susan after narrowing a squint on Cat, then looking back around the rooftop.

It's not just for Peter's own safety that he quietly lays out the Haitian's negation down on Susan while he continues the conversation. "It looks like you have majority on agreeing with Bennet," sounds appreciative from Peter as he looks up to Noah, then background the group. "I'll want two or three people from the Ferry and likewise from your group, Cardinal," there's a nod to the shadowmorph, "who can offer tactical assistance to myself and Messiah's lead tactical operative. If someone has a facility we can use to plan, all the better. But I think right now the motivation behind wanting to get involved is clear, we're beyond the vote… now we just have to make it all work."

Susan's jaw sets, and there's something dangerous in her eyes that wasn't there before the next time she looks to Abigail, irises shadowed by thick lashes that have begun to run black under the rain. Shining, they flick to Cat. "My ability doesn't work that way," though she probably wishes that it did if it meant minimizing the loss of life and she's as adamant against people dying as she seems to be. "Moab, Pinehearst — it's this way of way of thinking that put us where we are. Norman White. Refrain. Maybe you should consider whether or not you're really making things any better for the rest of us. If what Cardinal says is true, you're just as likely to let loose what you're afraid the Institute will."

The majority of her wrath, stilted and clipped though it is, she directs not at her fellow council members but at Peter and Cardinal. "You're not revolutionaries," she hisses. "You're a bunch of selfish children with a God complex, and you're going to destroy everything the rest of us have worked to build. Do what you will."

Heels click against the pavement underfoot. If this was strictly a council meeting, she might not be walking away but there is no table to push away from, no chair to rise off, and Harkness and Grace have already done it. Turning away and steering herself around the pigeon coop is a simple thing, and she does not look back over her shoulder when she does.

"She has not seen many of the things that you have," Tien says on Susan's behalf as Eileen's mockingbird turns its head to watch her go. "But her heart is in the right place. Jensen Raith and I can offer our assistance, and if Megan and Abigail will be converting the nature center into a field hospital, then maybe we're best off using that as our base of operations. It's central enough."

"She's seen and done more than you think" Abigail manages to get off, watching Susan take off. "My head hurts, and my days not over, I need to go. I'll get with Megan and with the rest of you regarding the Center" A hand gingerly rubbing underneath the brim of the baseball cap, the medic turns, so she can start heading off too, though in a less huffy manner.

Serrato has remained mostly silent, watching the blow ups and with nothing to contribute in the positive or the negative, he waits, silently, in case there is something else.

Joseph studies Susan's departure with what could probably be disappointment, mouth thinning in a line, before he takes his weight off the wall. "Excuse me," he tells the rest of them, an apologetic flick of a glance towards Cardinal and Peter — maybe for his own leaving of the meeting, or for Susan's words, for as much as she's already been spoken for. There's been a lot of that tonight, and he's managed to offer his part of it in the midst of more articulated debate.

When he goes to leave, a little ahead of Abby as she gives her slightly more excusing goodbyes, Joseph's departure seems more direct and purposeful — he's not leaving because he'd rather not be here, but instead, pursuing Susan.

"I never claimed to be a revolutionary, Miss Ball," is Cardinal's response, almost amused, as he watches her through shades that are beaded with the grace of rain's misting, "I never claimed to be anything other than what I am. Can you say the same?"

He rakes a hand back through hair dampened by the weather, head bowing with it, then he straightens up, "Alright. As much as I trust your tactical expert as much as I can throw him, we'll be there, Peter. I don't want to go in this without a solid plan."

Those departing are watched as they go, Cat's features still stormy. Anyone who'd encountered her in a dreamscape might be able to picture that black panther which featured as her persona pacing and snarling, ready to leap out at Hokuto's evil half or whatever else presents itself, though she retains the poised demeanor. There are curiosities as well, hints of things taking place outside her perception. What has Susan done? What did they get from Bella Sheridan?

Drawing her mental focus back to the meeting and what needs be planned, Cat resides in silence to hear out what plan is proposed and sort out where she fits best into it, so she can also offer commentary when the time is proper.

"Rebel will provide tactical assistance against whatever electronic measures he can, and he's already told me he's going to be speaking to Wireless about getting her help as well. While the Institute itself may have more physical than electronic security, jamming communications aside from our own will help us control what's going on in the field," something Peter learned from Apollo, and something he was further educated on by Rupert.

Looking around to those who have remained, Peter exhales a sigh of tension relief and lifts one hand up to rake through his hair, sweeping his bangs from his face. "I appreciate all of you going out of your way to meet me here, weather and all," he adds with a roll of his fingers over damp locks, "and I appreciate you all giving me the support you have, regardless of whether or not you agree with what Messiah is doing and how it's done. Messiah plan on taking full responsibility for what happened, to draw the heat away from others involved… we're going to learn from our mistakes, save our friends, and make sure that nothing like this happens again in our own backyard."

Offering a plaintive smile, Noah rests a hand on Peter's shoulder for a moment, then just nods his head. "Enough preaching to the choir," he urges quietly, "let's just put one foot in front of the other," there's a look from Noah out to the ruins of Midtown with his brows creased together, "…and take this one step at a time."

At least now they know where they're going.

And that they all might not make it back.

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