At What Cost?


cat_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title At What Cost?
Synopsis Cat brings a summary of Wednesday's losses.
Date January 29, 2009

Elisabeth's Apartment in Dorchester Towers

When Cat called, Elisabeth had barely come in her front door from a shift. She told Cat to go ahead and come over, jumped in the shower quickly, and by the time the other woman arrived, Liz was ready…. mostly. She opens the door to admit Cat and then locks the door behind her, heading for the kitchen. "Drink?" she offers.

"Please," Cat replies as the door closes behind her, then sets down the guitar case and backpack so she can get out of her coat. After doing that, she pulls up her iPhone, looking at the date and time on the display. "And thank you."

Elisabeth gets drinks for both of them — herbal tea instead of coffee. She sets it on the dining room table and gestures for Cat to join her. She looks weary. The shower did help ease a little of the tension, but … "I cannot imagine that you've come to tell me good news, Cat," she admits softly. "So… come, sit. Tell me what news you have."

Thursday, the 29th of January, the iPhone tells her. 9:07 a. m. "It isn't good," Cat admits gravely as she settles onto a chair and faces the blonde. "Missions were accomplished, as far as I've heard, but people have been taken, others are missing. Still others I've not made contact with yet." She lifts the mug of tea and closes her eyes for a moment, replaying the conversation with Abby in her mind.

Elisabeth nods slightly, having been out of contact completely since all hell broke loose. "The news I'm getting through cop sources is garbled, at best. The virus being killed is great news, at least. Gimme the rundown," she invites, sipping her tea.

Bad news first, Cat decides as she emerges from the memory trip. "The people taken in are Al, one of the Brians, and…" Her eyes cloud over, hands forming white knuckle fists, "Helena." Silence follows then, she lets the Scoutist have time to process it.

Elisabeth flinches. "Fuck," she says succinctly. "The grapevine said some arrests had been made. This is *not* good… they're taking in all the good guys." She pushes her wet hair back and sighs softly. "All right. Put that on hold for moment, cuz I'm assuming here that you're going to be the one coordinating for a while. Give me the rest and we'll come back to it."

It's a slow nod she prefaces words with, speaking solemnly. "Abby, Gillian, Anne, Sergei, another Brian, and Anne were on the bridge and went into the water. Sylar, Eileen Ruskin, and Ethan Sadist also fell into the Hudson. Of these, only Abby is accounted for. Homeland Satan has a person or persons, or a device, which can make a person's limbs numb and not work right. I experienced the effect, and was told it occurred on the bridge too. I believe that same effect caused the capture of my team's remaining Brian and Al."

"Sergei was swept off the bridge by a support cable broken with lasers by Kazimir, who possessed Sylar."

Elisabeth listens intently to the list, processing. She looks tense and worried about them all, though it's not until the end that she reacts with more than worry. At the 'how' of Sergei's disappearance, she visibly pales, her face going chalk white. "Okay," is all she says, struggling to hide her very physical reaction. "A lot of this will just… require time." She swallows hard. Twice.

She's quiet then, one hand reaching out to cover and squeeze the blonde's hand gently. Cat drifts down the path of memories then, replaying her run from the scene with thermite fire behind her, and unfriendly boots on the ground.

"What about the ConEd team?" Elisabeth forces past the gorge rising in her throat.

With a slight headshake, Cat replies, "I don't know. I've only heard about the bridge team, Invierno, and my own. I hope to have contact with them soon."

When Cat's finished her recitation, Elisabeth barely has time to excuse herself before she has to flee. From the kitchen there is only the sound of retching for what seems to Liz like it must be forever… though it's far less. There's only so much a body can handle.

That sound is telltale, and Cat comes off her seat quickly. Seconds later, Elisabeth will find a hand rubbing gently at her back and another gathering up her hair to hold it.

Elisabeth is shaking and rests her elbows on the counter. "I'm okay," she says quietly. "I'm good." Or something. She reaches out to run the water in the sink… and thank God for garbage disposals. She rinses her mouth out with a handful of water, grateful in some measure for Cat's presence and the comfort she offers. "So … do we have any contingencies on where we go from here?" she asks in a controlled voice.

"I'm just starting to figure that out," Cat replies after the Scoutist washes her mouth with the water. "The first step is this, which no one else seems to be doing. Taking stock, hearing action reports, learning who's taken, missing, or dead. Hopefully soon we can regroup, figure out if our locations are compromised. I don't know of previous plans for such situations. Kazimir Volken is dead, Abby cleansed the planet of his existence. The virus at my location is gone, I set the thermite off myself. The bridge, I'm told, fell because Kazimlar snapped cables with lasers, and Helena had to bring lightning down on a truck."

Elisabeth nods a little bit, waiting to see if it's going to happen again without moving. "We'll need a report from the ConEd team, and I can tell you for sure that my team took out their virus." And killed a bunch of guys, which… well, is probably part of this response. "Once we've got a full head count… assuming Conrad and his team are okay and make it back in… you'll have at least him from the leadership." She looks at Cat and says quietly, "I'll find out what I can through official channels about who's been taken and where, but it's going to take some time. I can't afford to stick my neck out too far. Harvard…. had to be read in a little. I *think* he's going to cover my ass… but I can't know for sure."

"The truck, there were people on it, Helena sterilized it." Meaning she killed them, but Cat's sure the meaning is known without having to say it directly. "Con-Ed I hope to hear from soon. What I've learned so far will be passed on to Wireless to see what she can find out. Unidentified people in hospitals, movement reports and HomeSatan communications." Bodies in morgues… "Teo may be missing too. My contact thought so, but I've not heard directly from anyone with him."

Elisabeth drops her head, letting it hang between her shoulders for a long moment. And then she pushes upright and nods, moving slowly back toward the table to sit back down slowly. "Christ….. this is as bad as we ever dreamed," she murmurs. "Heading off the virus was the objective, but …. Jesus, Cat… the cost…." Not that any of us were unwilling. We all knew it could come to this, certainly.

"New Jersey police saw someone suspicious at my location. One of them tried to investigate, set off a tripwire, and it turned into a Vanguard versus police firefight in all three buildings. We arrived to find police cars and flashing lights, one of the buildings collapsed already, and a wounded officer who told me the situation. They had a sniper armed with what sounded like a tank gun. One round killed a Brian, nearly parted my brain, and broke the wall I was close to."

"Our virus package was in the third building, Al got it out with telekinesis, then the building blew up. We were thrown across the street, and the virus box got dropped. I had to crawl there and set the thermite off, my legs were numb. But the further I got toward it, the better they worked. After setting off the charge, I bailed."

Elisabeth groans. "*That's* what Will was talking about. Fuck." She squeezes the bridge of her nose tightly. Blowing out a breath, she looks at Cat again and says softly, "The only thing I'm telling you right now is tell them ALL to lay low. REAL low. Don't meet, don't be out in the open, *don't* draw any attention to themselves by sneaking around or being out after curfew… just…. be invisible. For the next week to two."

"I didn't have any injury that would make my legs not work, there was no tranq dart, no reason I can think of for the numbness. Drugs wouldn't wear off that fast, anyway. It was like an area effect, I think Al and Brian got it bad, they just stayed down. I couldn't help them without going back into that field. That would only mean three captives instead of two. So I ran. My contact thinks that same effect made her fall off the bridge, and got Helena. She said Stormy just went down. Dropped."

Her brows lift. "What was Will talking about?"

Elisabeth rubs her forehead and waves it off. "I told you. I had to read Will in some…. that there were boots on the ground out there unsanctioned. He asked me about a bunch of gunfire and such out there, and I wasn't sure exactly what he was talking about." She shrugs. "He hasn't got any names at this point, and he won't get them from me either. Just…. are you going to be the point of contact for this? Cuz everyone needs to stay WAY under the radar. HomeSec is pulling people off the streets and carding them. Anyone picked up without a card *will* be run in, and there's nothing that can be done to stop it. They need to stay WAY low. And for as long as humanly possible, until the roadblocks are gone. If we can keep all our people on the down-low, things will settle back down in a week or two. If anyone pulls shit, it's going to keep the heat on. Stay in touch with just the texts and disposable phones." She sighs. "Cat… I can't stress it enough. As of this moment, the only people who can contact me are you and Conrad. Anyone else who needs me either goes through you or you get me and tell me where they want to meet. I don't know if HomeSec has me under surveillance."

She takes it all in quietly, her expression grave, showing Cat understands the seriousness of it all. Her head tilts, though, at something she hears, giving rise to a question not asked until the blonde is silent. "I'll do that," she says with solemn sincerity. Lay low, stay clear. It's true they're pulling in the good ones, but they are who they are. If you came onto a hostile scene, you'd arrest anyone present if you didn't know their story and figure it out later. The difference is you don't lock people up indefinitely without trial. Homeland Satan does."

"I can't be sure they won't come after me, won't put a telepath on Stormy. I get it, I really do, but…" She comes back to the question. "Carding people how? Registration cards? I don't have one, but… are you saying they have a test?"

Elisabeth looks alarmed at the very thought. "Not so that I've heard," she replies. "But yes, they'll be carding ANYONE out there after curfew. With or without cause in terms of Evolved abilities. And if they happen to come across anyway, they'll run them in."

Relaxing, but only slightly, Cat nods. She expects there to be tests at some point, there have to be, otherwise Linderman's Act is unenforceable, above and beyond what those of her organization know. "That's a relief," she lets out. "Standard procedure of police, identify anyone they speak with. Anyone showing an ability gets asked to show registration on top of that."

From there she's musing, and looks at the Scoutist, making eye contact. "Do you want to know whether or not we'll try to get Stormy and the others out?"

Looking startled at the question, Liz blurts out, "Hell fucking yes!" And then she pauses, thinking it through. Then she nods more slowly. "Yes. I do want to know if you're going to try it. Because even if I can't help or be involved, I may be able to cover a few bases for it." She shakes her head. "I think you're going to need me, even if it's only as someone to sound off with, Cat." She looks at the other woman, her expression full of pain but candid. "If you're taking on the leadership, you're going to need people you trust to help you weigh the options. Conrad and Alex were good choices for Helena. I'd like to think I'm a good choice for you to add to your roster, unless you have someone better." She shrugs a little. "I have no desire to lead this group myself, but I do want to keep all of you as out of trouble as I can."

"I didn't want to lead, and still don't," Cat replies. "If I'd wanted that, with my resources, I'd have started my own. But we're hurt, and someone has to step up. If Teo turns up and wants it, it's his. But he did say he wanted to step aside." Silence follows while she considers Elisabeth's advice. "I do need that. I have you, and Debater, and anyone who sounds sensible rather than heckling just to heckle." Which those familiar with her will take to include Brian, in his many incarnations. "I'll be asking Wireless what she can get us on places they might be so things can be planned, as to rescues. I asked if you wanted to know, because of your position. I've no desire to compromise you."

"Sometimes the person who wants it the least is the person best suited to do it," Elisabeth says softly. "Let me worry about what compromises me. It's not your problem. You tell me whatever needs to be said, and if it's something I know I shouldn't know… I won't know it. Unless I get mind-raped by someone." She shrugs a little. "But I know how to compartmentalize my own information, Cat. And I can't leave the lot of you hanging out to dry, either."

She nods once. "I'm worried about that too. Stormy knows things, and they can have telepaths sit in her cell and chip away as much as they want now. I… don't always make the right choice. That building where I now make my home, only a handful of people know about it. One of them is now prisoner." Cat spends some time studying a wall then, in silence.

Elisabeth nods slowly. "Jesus, Cat…. we are fucked every which direction right now, aren't we?" She blows out a breath, seeming to be mostly recovered from the episode of nausea. She picks up her teacup and sips very slowly. "Tell me what you need from me. What I can do to help you."

"We need to find out if the Midtown library is compromised, and the same for the new place on Staten Island, so if not they can be used again. That's after, or while, we work to find missing people. You can do that too, maybe, by forwarding reports of unidentified persons in or near the Hudson coming to hospitals, jails, morgues, or HomeSatan you might come across. To plan breakouts, we first need to know who we still have and recover those we can, without it we don't even know our own assets."

Elisabeth nods. "I'll start looking when I'm in the office. I've been on the streets since I reported in yesterday," she tells Cat quietly.

"Then you should definitely rest," Cat replies. "Can't help anyone, do anything, dead on your feet." She goes to slip her coat on, and shoulder the gear, then depart. "I'll be in touch soon, Ears." Yes, she's found a label to apply to Elisabeth now.

Elisabeth moves to stand up, to walk Cat out. And when the label pops out, she forces a smile for Cat around a shimmer of tears. Because that job? That used to be someone else's job…. and she can only hope that the person who is SUPPOSED to be keeping his ears open in the cop shop comes back alive, along with all the other missing operatives. "I'll be back on duty in about six hours, but I'll have the cell. If you hear anything, or you need me…. just text. I'll be checking."

She pauses as she sees the shimmer of tears, and replays the conversation, back to when Elisabeth became ill, just after speaking of Sergei. No one else triggered that, just him. Cat moves closer and asks "Is someone missing closer to you than others?"

Elisabeth hesitates and then merely nods. "Yeah…. a couple of them, actually." She adds softly, "Sergei's the best friend I've ever had… and more, though."

No words are said. Cat just opens her arms and steps forward to hug Elisabeth, giving support and comfort in the gesture. She knows loss, and the feeling of uncertainty around it now.

January 29th: It's Not Impressive
January 29th: Hell And High Water
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