A Precipice in Front, Wolves Behind


cat_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif rupe_icon.gif

Scene Title A Precipice in Front, Wolves Behind
Synopsis Catherine and Eileen meet with Rupert to discuss a very tentative allegiance between Messiah and the Ferry.
Date June 26, 2010

Carmichael Manor

The sun hasn't yet set on Manhattan by the time Catherine Chesterfield's car pulls up the driveway into the grounds of the Carmichael Manor. This gated estate is an immaculately tended thing, no other cars cluttering up the circular driveway and the last rays of evening sunlight catch in glittering fashion in the falling water of a tiered fountain at the center of the circular drive.

One side of the manor's double doors are open, expectantly, for the two women that have just arrived. Silhouette in that tall and narrow doorway is a slender and professionally dressed blonde woman. Curly hair is tied back in a tight bun behind her head, shadowed eyes are halfway lidded in a listless expression and her hands are folded behind her back. To say that the charcoal gray, pinstripe suit that Rupert Carmichael's personal assistant wears makes her look severe, that sedate expression on her face tempers it some.

Lights are on all across the manor, filmy curtains drawn creating the illusion that there is little more but diffuse golden glows cast in the lighted rooms, and from that open doorway more than just light spills, but also the subtle notes of a piano being played. This is certainly a change from clandestine meetings in flooded subway tunnels.

When the car's passenger side door opens, a slender leg tipped in polished flats appears and touches a toe to the pavement before the point of a cane joins it and a woman dressed in neutral shades of gray beneath a darker overcoat emerges from the vehicle, green eyes raised to where a raven with a bent back and dagger beak sits hunched at the edge of the manor's roof like a great black gargoyle with a dragon's talons for feet.

Eileen clutches the cane just below its snarling wolf's head grip with a hand gloved in soft lambskin. The other curls fingers around the top of the car door as she lowers her eyes to the front of the manor, then down to the small metal case she carries under her arm.

This is more what Munin is used to.

The driver's door opens mere seconds later, that occupant also exiting one leg at a time and standing to her full height before securing the vehicle and pocketing keys. Cat's attire is suitable for a high-powered corporate attorney headed into a courtroom. Navy blue skirt and jacket, white blouse, from Brooks Brothers. No briefcase is carried, nor is there anything else about her of note. Just the woman herself with hair arranged neatly to avoid falling past the bottom of her collar when upright.

She's familiar with places like this, indeed had once called such a residence home. Until Arthur threw her out a window and burned it to the ground. Feet go into motion, toward that half-open double doorway.

Like a motionless sentinel at the door, the blonde attendant offers a look that flashes between Eileen and Catherine before dipping her head down into a subtle nod. "Rupert's been expecting you," she quietly offers in monotone quality, turning with sleek efficiency as she leads the way into the spacious foyer of the Carmichael manor.

White painted walls manage not to have an asylum quality to them by way of rich woodgrain paneling halfway down and the vibrant earth tones of the carpeting covering oprtions of the floor. Christa steps aside as the two women come in, only to close the open half of the double doors behind them quietly. "This way," she instructs, stepping away from the front doors and heading towards the sound of piano playing to the right of the foyer.

Leading both Eileen and Catherine to another set of double doors, Christa's opening of them pulls on both sides, spilling out the loud and improvisational notes of piano playing echoing thorugh a warmly decorated and dimly lit study. Bookshelves line one wall and tall windows curtained with crushed red velvet another. "Sir," Christa announces, "Eileen Spurling and Catherine Chesterfield are here to see you."

The man she addresses sits at the far end of the study behind a baby grand piano, obscured to the doorway by the sheet music he's seated behind, save for his jauntily angled black fedora sat atop his head. When the music stops, Rupert stands and slides his hand off, holding it to his chest as a broad smile slides across his bearded face.

"Wonderful, Christa, thank you… ah, could you get that bottle of Vidal Blanc? This seems appropriate celebration enough." Optimistic sounding, Rupert steps out from behind the piano, arms outstretched in warm greeting and fedora still clutched in one hand. "Catherine, Eileen… it's wonderful to see you both."

There's no optimism in the austere expression Eileen wears on her pale face, lips pressed together and pale eyes veiled by shadowy lashes that do little to soften her angular cheekbones or the stern set of her jaw. Like the raven outside, she also resembles a statue, but one carved from a slab of cold white marble, skin so ashen that its ghastly complexion compliments her taciturn mannerisms, conservative style of dress and even the cane she wields, making her very much appear the surrogate daughter of the man who once carried it.

Fortunately, Eileen only looks like a walking corpse. Kazimir was one.

Although her breast rises and falls with every breath that she takes, the raspy sound that accompanies her breathing makes it clear to Catherine that the cane isn't just for show. The Englishwoman is putting a lot of her weight on it.


Neutrality settles on her features, the customary poker face of Catherine Chesterfield. Eyes move around on the way in, sighting and recording all details visible to her. It's a study conducted without seeming to be studying. Once further inside the piece played on that piano is identified in her mind, the remainder of it quite probably visualized in full. Staff, clef, notes, and all. A brief glance is given to Eileen at the sound of her voice, the labored quality of her breath, but no commentary is made. She opts instead to face the host. A handshake isn't offered, given her not knowing whether or not he's a psychometrist. Greeting, in match to Eileen's, comes in a single word.

"Well don't everyone offer smiles and handshakes right away," Rupert jokingly offers with a grimace and a dip of his head down. Motioning with his hat-laden hand, Rupert walks across the study to where a pair of high-backed armchairs and a chaise lounge are arranged around a low set chestnut stained coffee table with clawed feet that is cleared away of anything save for a single burning candle in a bulb glass sconce. Rupert takes up residence in one of the armchairs, hanging his hat over one armrest, then crosses one skinny leg over the other and folds his hands in his lap.

"I know this all might seem a bit unusual, us having to meet here like this, so I guess I'm just going to be out in the open and offer up my apologies for how our paths seem to have crossed before. I didn't personally order that unfortunate attack that happened before the storm cleared, the people I work with were operating in a cell-structure at that point, and I'm sorry to say that it was the brainchild of a more gung-ho operative and… had I known…"

Waving one hand dismissively, Rupert lets it fold back in his lap again, fingers lacing together as he makes motion with his head for Cat and Eileen to take up whatever seats they want. "I assume you both have a lot to bring to the table, and… opportunity knocked the other day to allow this meeting to take place. I figure you both have a lot to talk about, so— I'll let you both air your concerns."

Eileen's cane nudges against the corner of the table and follows its edge as she moves to take a seat on the chaise opposite Rupert's armchair, the coffee table situated in the short space between them. Only once she's sitting down does she shift the cane to her lap, freeing both her gloved hands so she can set the case down on the table and smooth her palms across its silver lid. Her fingers find the latches with ease.

Two simultaneous snaps later, followed by whisper of a well-oiled hinge, she's presenting to their host a pair of identical syringes filled with clear fluid and held in place by thick black foam that conforms to their skinny cylindrical shape.

It isn't difficult to guess what might be in them.

"A gesture of good faith before we begin," she says, nevertheless. "I'm sure you understand."

Settling into the remaining seat, Cat crosses her legs at the ankles and observes without speaking for the moment. As hands fold in her lap and the barest glance settles on the opened case's contents, her voice is heard. "That assault, had it come just moments earlier," she calmly states, "might well have prevented ending that storm. We were fortunate in that Liette had already managed to deprive her sister of ability to alter the weather and taken a step to prevent her from seizing it again. It was also unfortunate in the injuries caused to Messrs. Rickham and Rosen."

Grimacing in response to Cat's sentiments, Rupert dips his head down into a slow nod, brows furrowed worriedly. "Poor planning on their part, I assure you. Poor enough that… Allen can't turn back into his flesh state anymore, for fear of falling apart. It's— it's all really ugly, and there's a lot of freyed nerves on both sides I think, and I'd like to try and smooth them out." Rupert tilts his head to the side and shakes his head slowly, though, when he finally looks to Eileen's case.

"I guess you haven't heard…" casting his eyes askance to the bookshelf, Rupert breathes in deeply and then exhales a sigh. "Around this time last year, I was… I guess attacked is probably the best word to use." Dark eyes sweep back over to Cat and Eileen, brows furrowed. "It was late in the evening, Christa was— thank God— not here. I was alerted to the sound of the back door being forced open and the sounds of two of my other servants shouting downstairs. I tried to place a call out to the police, but the lines were dead."

Looking down to his lap, Rupert shakes his head slowly. "I came downstairs to find three men in my foyer. One of them I recognized immediately as former President Rickham, but… he was…" Rupert makes motions over his face, like claw marks. "Scarred, and I guess more disturbingly, metallic. He was with a shorter man with glasses that never spoke and never introduced himself to me, and a taller and younger man that I only learned later was named Tyler Case."

Rubers scrubs one hand over his mouth, brows creased together firmly. "The next thing I know, I'm being knocked off my feet by this— crackling red lightning. I didn't see what happened entirely, but it felt like my head was on fire. I blacked out, either from hitting my head or from what they did to me, I'm not sure."

Casting his stare askance to the partly curtained windows, Rupert fidgets in his seat then looks back up to Eileen and Cat. "When I came to the police were already present and my attackers were gone. I had to come up with a cover story, I— I didn't want the attention that the truth would've given. But ever since that encounter, I've been without my ability. I'll be honest, if I had it— I wouldn't even really be needing to have this conversation."

There's a faint crack of a smile from Rupert and a bobbed nod of his head. "I used to have the power of persuasion, making people do what I wanted to by ordering them. Unfortunately, I have to rely on more traditional oratory skills these days, rather than just getting what I want. Even if that weren't the case… if our situations were reversed, and I handed you a syringe, told you to— you know— " he makes a poking motion at his neck, "would you really do that on blind faith after what my people did? I'm still not sure if you're here to punch me in the mouth or not," Rupert admits with a nervous laugh, "but I hope not!"

Grinning sheepishly, Rupert slouches to one side in his chair and rests his chin on a closed fist. "I hope you understand why that isn't necessary and, why I politely decline."

"That's unfortunate," Eileen says, but she's closing the case at the same time and sliding her thumbs across the latches to pop them back into place. Whether she's talking about Rupert's loss or his refusal to cooperate, however—

"Whether or not you authorized the attack, what happened with Liette is unacceptable and any future assaults on Ferry operatives, wards or property won't be tolerated." She removes her hands from the case, straightens in her seat and tips up her chin, fixing Rupe with a level stare, though there's something not quite right about her eyes or what's happening behind them. "If our organizations are going work together, let alone coexist, we'll need to establish some ground rules about what actions are permissible."

And, presumably, what aren't. Eileen's thumb curves along the wolf's muzzle, the edge of her nail sliding over the grooves of its slavering teeth. "According to Mr. Varlane, you're having difficulty controlling your own people. Is that correct?"

If anything the man says surprises Cat, she doesn't let on. But she voices no objection to his decline of the drugs Eileen brought. Eyes rest upon him, shifting to the Bird Whisperer briefly, then moving back. It seems reasonable and understandable that he'd decline the compound; though it's very true everyone she knows was struck by Tyler Case aside from Abby recovered their normal abilities some time ago it's possible Rupert's dose never wore off. "It's possible something may be arranged for Allen Rickham's benefit," she offers sans specificity. "None of this needed to happen at all. Rebel made a serious error when they undertook to threaten Doctor Brennan's family. Instead of getting him to cooperate, it caused him instead to become paranoid, and seriously hampered my ability to learn anything from her, information I'd have passed along. I do not understand, at all, how things came to such a pass. And why Allen, having been brought to me by Rebel and being close to Mother before she was assassinated, would choose not to come talk things over."

Nodding his head to Cat, Rupert toys with his lower lip in a nibble of teeth. "Rebel never threatened Doctor Brennan. That much I can assure you both right here and now. He would never, ever threaten a man's family. There was a colossal misunderstanding there, and it's unfortunately precipitated the situation we're in now. Rebel told Brennan that it would be unfortunate if something happened to his family because he didn't follow the instructions, but it wasn't— " Rupert sighs deeply. "Rebel has a hard time with communicating subtleties. He is very direct. He meant that in all literal sense, no sarcasm or double-speak. Rebel was concerned that the Institute was going to do irreparable harm to the good Doctor if he kept Liette with him. The problem is… we believe there is an Institute mole in the Ferrymen network, based on radio chatter Rebel intercepted back in December on the Institute's side. We don't know who though, which has made it very difficult for us to approach anyone in your network…"

Wringing his hands together, Rupert shakes his head slowly. "We gave a moritorium on no contact with the Ferry for our membership, which unfortunately meant some very… untasteful ass-covering. West's odd behavior when you visited him, Rickham's absence… You have to understand, we're— trying to fight a superiorly armed and financed enemy, and our only advantage is the element of surprise. We lose that, and we lose the war."

It's only then that the conversation has taken the turn to properly address with topic of Mister Varlane. "According to Magnes we should all be wearing blue and yellow spandex," Rupert says with a tongue-in-cheek smile. "I'll be frank with you, and I'd appreciate this not getting back to Magnes, but he's… naive. He's young, he's idealistic, and I don't think he really seriously considered the ramifications of joining our organization. He came to me with… I guess you could say concerns, the kinds of things that I think would've made him do something he'd regret, that would get a lot of good people hurt or arrested if he followed through with them."

Rolling his tongue over the inside of his cheek, Rupert leans forward and looks up to the double door as they open, with Christa coming in carrying an ice bucket and an open bottle of wine, three glasses carefully carried by the stems in her free hand. Rupert doesn't pause with Christa in the room, his trust for her seems to extend to his extra-curricular activities.

"Magnes came to me with this— just a reckless plan. He was going to get himself hurt, going to get me hurt… I told him what he wanted to hear, and I'm keeping an eye on him. You understand what the importance of secrecy must be like, how one loose pair of lips can cause a cascade of very unfortunate things to happen. If I tried to talk Magnes down from the proverbial ledge, he probably would've jumped. I'm… hoping he starts to see things differently on his own. He has this— preconception of the kind of things we do, and it's all wrong. But there's no telling him he's wrong, I— I don't know, I've delt with students like Magnes before. He's… I guess special is the proper word to use, he has special needs. I'm trying to carefully work with him, but he's like a child with a loaded gun, he could make a very dangerous and very permanent mistake at any given time if something upsets him."

"In that case," says Eileen, "there will be no excuses if Messiah oversteps the boundaries Catherine and I are here to draw with you tonight." A rustle a movement at her coat's collar betrays a pair of glittering black eyes peering out at Rupe from under the lip of the fabric. The garden sparrow is unnaturally still, clawed toes hooked in the coat's material and body snug against Eileen's collarbone to keep it from losing its perch and tumbling out into plain sight. Its breathing, unlike its mistress', makes no audible sound, and neither do the rapid palpitations of its feathered chest.

"No civilian targets," is the Englishwoman's first edict. "If you intend to engage in shock warfare, it will be against government and military entities only. In situations where our organizational council deems that collateral damage is acceptable, the Ferry will provide your people with any support they require. In exchange, we expect Messiah to come to our network's aid if attacked by our common enemies. Homeland Security, Humanis First, the Institute."

"We find," Cat states quietly, "fear is as powerful an enemy as government agencies. Organizations which may be of a mind to imprison and exterminate all of us only become hardened in the face of it. More determined. This is why terrorism, despite the reasoning that government authority comes from the people and the people are thus fair game to punish, won't work. That said, Rupert," Cat inquires with an expression of curiosity settling in, "what are your goals, and what tactics do you intend to employ?"

"That depends on what you classify as civillian targets," Rupert notes with a crease of his brows worriedly at the term. "I'm willing to play ball with your organization, but… there's a certain about of flexibility we're going to need. There's a target we're looking at currently that is an installation where components for the H5N10 virus are being developed, and the lab workers there are wholly unaware of what they're producing. Civillian contractors entirely, but the whole facility needs to go up in so much smoke and fire that the Devil himself'll need to take a step back."

Grimacing, there's a shake of Rupert's head slowly. "We also have aims to perform liberations of imprisoned Evolved from Institute-sponsored DHS facilities, which again has some blurry lines, because there's a mixture of government and civillian security on those premises. I'm not at liberty to go into detail about our operations, not yet, but suffice to say that the Institute often hides behind a mask of good-natured humanitarianism. The bad guys don't wear matching uniforms anymore…"

Breathing in deeply, Rupert reaches up to scratch at his beard. "That isn't to say, however, that we're going to do things just to strike fear into the populace. That's not our intention, but we are going to hit hard and hit where it hurts. Everyone we've recruited, by and large, is willing to make the necessary sacrifices of their own lives or the lives of others. Our… goals are difficult to outline in simple detail, but suffice to say we're not going to rest until the Petrelli administration collapses under its own bloated weight when we kick out its supports from beneath it. Organizations like the Institute cannot be allowed to exist, and we will use every bit as ruthless methods in dealing with them as they would with us."

Looking between Eileen and Cat, Rupert's head shakes slowly. "Pacifism and activism alone isn't going to topple what, in all reality, has become a totalitarian regime. We're a few steps away from being true second-class citizens, and if we don't win this war before that happens, we're never going to."

"Facilities responsible for the development of any manmade viruses are fair game, though some of my colleagues may disagree," including the one sitting beside her, "in which case your actions will have my personal support when I speak to them on Messiah's behalf… provided that your people do everything in their power to minimize the number of lives lost." Eileen tightens her grip on the cane. "The facility and its production line are what you're after, and while some of the contractors you spoke of are inevitably going to get caught in the crossfire, I would be very disappointed if I heard from Magnes that they were treated inhumanely."

The sparrow tucks its head back under her collar. "Catherine and I were both present at Moab Federal Penitentiary and Pinehearst," she says. "Please don't make the mistake of labeling us pacifists or imply that neither we nor the people we represent are as invested in this struggle as Messiah. You're clearly an intelligent man, and I'm sure that you understand our organization has more assets to protect than yours. What you're doing puts us all in a very vulnerable position."

"One would hope, Rupert," Cat follows up, "when a place engineering viruses is struck that proof of their activity and the purpose for that activity are retrieved so it can be exposed to the public. Such viruses are of course, when found to be intended for use against humans with or without the SLC, weapons of war. Prudence does dictate eliminating the enemy's stockpile before it can be used. You're quite correct, activism alone doesn't bring success. But violence alone also fails. We must, while enforcing the Constitution through violent acts when needed, build an undeniable case to let the people see the full truth. Fascism requires an enemy to focus on, to justify the continuing abuse of power. We must therefore cause the majority to wonder, should we be exterminated, who'll be the next target." Fingers curl around the stem to one of those glasses, she raises it toward her lips to sip from the vessel, then lowers it.

"In addition to the actions against Pinehearst and Moab Prison," Cat tacks on, "have you ever wondered who caused that violent cell of Humanis First to disappear? It was fairly quiet, given the location they were holed up in, but it happened nonetheless."

"You're an idealist, Catherine, your mother was too. You sat on different sides of a very distinct political boundary with your idealism, but…" Rupert shakes his head slowly, "Several months ago the Institute performed a night raid on a Ferryman installation, or… at least that's what I've heard through the grape vine. The Ferrymen defended themselves, and all that the public heard about was an attack on CDC officials trying to look for the sick and homeless living in the ruins." There's another deep breath, a sigh and a slow shake of his head.

"We don't deal in fair play anymore. Not since Allen Rickham was forcibly deposed from his position in the White House. The Constitution might as well be toilet paper and the accountability of the government isn't going to come through whistle-blowing or telling the truth. Unfortunately, in this day and age, the truth is controlled by who has the most money and power and corporations hold almost as much sway as some governments."

Brows creased, Rupert looks up to Christa, who has been lingering by the table, pouring Rupe a glass of the Vidal Blanc. Holding out one hand, he accepts a glass for her and leaves it up to Catherine and Eileen whether or not they drink. Christa, in turn, dips her head into a silent bow and takes a step back before heading out of the study, closing the double doors behind her.

"As long as the Evolved draw breath, we will always be an enemy. Justified or not. I don't doubt your motivations or even your capability… but the only reason Peter didn't reach out to you both, was because of the uncertainty in who within the Ferry had been comprimised. That is still a concern to us. For all we know it could be Harve Brennan or… any number of people."

Lifting up his glass and taking a sip slowly, Rupert allows that moment of silence to be a spot to change gears in the conversation. "I can tell the members of Messiah what is acceptable and what is not, but some of our operatives may not follow orders to the letter. It's impossible to say how emotions will stir on the field… but Peter and I will do our level best to make certain that no cruelty is perpetrated."

Eileen's glass remains where it is, likely for many of the same reasons that the twin syringes are still in their case, untouched. Any indication of whether or not she ultimately agrees with Rupert's assessment of the situation is hidden behind glassy eyes gone cold and sharp, and a mouth that refuses to take a shape other than the one she's forced it into. She and Catherine do not see eye to eye when it comes to what knowledge should be made available to the public and what shouldn't, but for the sake of their united front she says nothing to openly contradict her companion.

Rupert's talk of a compromised Ferrymen network is met with flinty silence and a slow, carefully measured exhalation. She does not trust Peter Petrelli. Chances are that she doesn't trust Rupert Carmichael, either. Crossing pale legs covered in dark nylon at the knee, she squares her shoulders, further straightens her back and keeps her eyes focused on the man sitting across from her to maintain the illusion that her rigid figure on the chaise isn't relying entirely on the sparrow under her collar to see.

"That will do," she says finally.

"We could debate on the topic of making things public until we're both blue in the face, Rupert," Cat concedes, "and you might not ever be convinced. I would simply point out that after the raid you cited, the public were only told CDC workers were attacked and killed not because the government and corporations own the media, but because they had the evidence. They were in possession of dead bodies, and we had nothing to counter that. I would simply hope, when places engineering viruses and the like are dispensed with, that evidence is also recovered. Whether or not anything can be made to stick in public opinion, the biological weaponry would be made beyond useless as first priority. Anything else secured is bonus material, yes?" She lifts her glass again but doesn't yet draw from it.

"I'm also pragmatic, whether you'll believe that or not. There are a lot of things I'd like to make public, but haven't and won't. Telling the world Nathan Petrelli can fly would be pointless. It can't be proven and even if it were believed, resulting in impeachment and removal, all that does is make Mitchell the President. That's worse than the Petrelli administration, I haven't forgotten the reported links between him and Humanis First. Clearly, actions aimed at removing Petrelli need to wipe out any political clout Mitchell has too." A lapse in her remarks comes as a small sip is taken from the glass. Any commentary she has on possible leaks within the network will be spoken of to Eileen and Eileen alone, as well as ideas to find and seal them.

"Please don't think me naive because I refuse to give up hope in some regards. That's not at all the case. It doesn't make me ignorant of what fluid must from time to time refresh the tree of liberty, or unwilling to spill some." She just isn't saying who fired the bullets which wiped out most of those alleged CDC officials.

"Have the hope you need, but don't hold on to it too tightly… One day soon, all our heads are going to be on chopping blocks, it's just a matter of when we decide to stand up for ourselves." Carefully maneuvering his wine glass to the tall, glass-topped table adorned with a lamp beside his chair, Rupert uncrosses his legs and leans forward, hands clapping together and then rubbing back and forth.

His attention darts between Eileen and Cat, then down to the table somewhat vacantly. "I'm willing to give this a shot, an alliance, but I think that we're going to need to take baby steps on this. As long as it looks like the Ferry is operating without malice to us, we'll do the same. Openness in… exchanging information, that will have to wait. I will, however, cede to the point that if you come under attack that we should help, but I'd like that to be a two-way street. I'm willing to go to Rebel right after this meeting and supply him with a code, all you'd need to do is send this passcode through a text or SMS service to him, put some details on where you are and what the threat is and… the calvary will try to get there as quick as possible.

Brows furrowed together, Rupert looks from side to side to the two women, then narrows his eyes. "I'd like if we could perhaps go through your technopath if we have a similar problem. There's no reason we shouldn't be able to… cooperate in that regard. Fair?"

"I do not presume to speak for her." There's a sort of tentativeness at the end of this statement that implies there should be a but attached. It goes unspoken. "This is a matter that she and Rebel can negotiate on their own terms, though I don't anticipate any problems as long as Messiah keeps its end of the bargain. There are few people more protective of our network and those in its care than Wireless."

The sparrow splays its wings, bracing against Eileen for support, black-tipped feathers briefly visible when she turns her head in the direction that, judging by the sound of retreating footsteps, Christa disappeared. She drops the end of her cane to the floor, swings the handle up and catches it in the palm of her opposite hand, moving to stand with more effort than it should take a woman of her age. "It should go without saying that the Ferry will use lethal force to protect itself from external threats if it becomes necessary," she adds gently. "That includes Messiah and any of your operatives who decide to go rogue and target one of ours. Stay away from Liette Fournier."

Unassisted by bird or cane, Cat also stands. She finds no need for adding to what Eileen's just said, and so doesn't, on the topics of Liette and response to assaults. Commentary on Messiah including a teleporter can be made another time, as well as mention of the system she and Teo conjured up around Anne before she left the city. But that doesn't mean she's silent.

"I'd like to speak with Allen Rickham in the near future, Rupert." And possibly West Rosen. The reporter who, if he hasn't quit yet or been carted away by DHS, still works for Cat without his knowledge. Or so she believes, at least. If so, she can easily find him there.

"She's not a person of interest any longer," Rupert notes softly, "the window there's closed. As for Allen… I can see if he's willing, but he's rather playing the part of the Hunchback of Notre Dame since what happened to him. He's… self-conscious about the damage done to him, and, well, maybe talking to a friend would be helpful. I'll let him know you're looking and… then it's his choice."

When Cat and Eileen both rise from their seats, Rupert offers a measured smile before slipping away from them both and making his way to the double doors, pulling them open and then turning back to face his guests, hands clasped behind his back. "I appreciate that you had enough trust to come down here and talk to me." There's a look between Cat and Eileen at that, as if unsure which of the two was more responsible for it. "You'll be able to get in touch with me again through Rebel, the pass-code will be Rebel-911 for emergencies, and Rebel-411 for contact… he'll know to be watching for that SMS code by midnight at the latest."

Appropriately timed, Christa's arrival on the other side of the door comes with a curt nod of her head and a silent look between Eileen and Catherine, awaiting to escort them out at their leisure. "Hopefully, we can continue to keep this dialogue open… I'd hate to see us both dragged down when we've common enemies to fight."

Eileen retrieves the case from the coffee table and clasps it by the handle rather than tuck it under her arm. Aided by a furtive glance from the sparrow, the cane guides the Englishwoman around the squat piece of furniture and into the open. Almost anywhere else, it's the worst place to be.

Although she does not show Rupert her back, she might as well have; her immediate attention is no longer on her international man of mystery, her dark eyed companion about to rise from the adjacent armchair or even the manor itself.

Outside on the rooftop, Bran kicks off his perch and scissors down to the car still waiting in the driveway. A quick swivel of the raven's tapered head sweeps the property for any shadows that do not belong.

"A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi," she says, and this is also something Kazimir taught her. "Good night, Rupert."

"Farewell, Rupert," Cat offers to the host. "In parting, I should tell you your piano hands are decent enough. I've some experience with that instrument, as well as cello and balalaika. But I must confess my favorite remains the electric guitar. It's been so long since I had a large audience, but the rocker's heart remains."

After exiting, once clear of the building enough in her judgment to speak again, Cat addresses Eileen quietly. "There's a simple way to detect leaks, though it would take time," she opines, "by going to individual operatives and telling each of them some piece of false information our foes would find interesting. When and if they act on it, we have a good idea forwarded the data." Maybe Kazimir taught Eileen things like that some time ago, maybe he didn't, thus Cat floats the concept. Then, with that done, she addresses another matter.

"What sickness did you pick up, Eileen? If I said you look like you died three weeks ago and are still walking around, it might be considered kind."

Rupert tries not to intrude on the more private question, dipping his head down into a nod and watching Cat and Eileen's exchange. He could let it go at that, leave them to their conversation on the way out with Christa leading the way, but mirth and honestly good humor has Rupert lifting his eyes up from the floor to the back of the two brunettes on their way out of his manor, calling out after them with some amusement evident in his voice.

"Maybe when all's said and done," Rupert calls out to Catherine, "we'll hold a little concert as celebration for a war won. But…" his smile fades some as he leans his shoulder against the inside of the door frame, rubbing one hand over his bearded chin.

"We'll see who's still around in the end."

To: <kingofswords XXX-XXXX>, <knightofswords XXX-XXXX>, <eightofcups XXX-XXXX>
Frm: <aceofcups XXX-XXXX>

rc a liar

Message sent at: June 26, 9:02 pm

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