Become A Public Heroine


f_cat_icon.gif elle_icon.gif

Scene Title Become The Public Heroine
Synopsis Cat meets with Elle Bishop. She learns things, floats an idea, and schemes behind her eyes.
Date April 11, 2019

The Village Renaissance Building roof

Thursday morning in New York of the Bright Future; April 11, 2019. There's a mystery to solve, and she needs information, as well as the issue of Elle and her motivations. Cat has never met the woman, although she does still have what was learned about her in the past while she and her friends were resisters and not opposed to violence when it proved necessary. Like, say, when Nazi nutjobs try to wipe out ninety percent of humanity. Or when the Federal government started locking people up without trial indefinitely simply for being born. One operation successful, another not so much.

She sent word to Abby's apartment by the security staff that she'd like to see one of the recent guests on the roof. It was phrased as an invitation Elle could turn down or accept, to have breakfast. Here on the roof, where the city of 2019 can be overlooked at least partly, there is indeed that meal. Steak and eggs, fresh coffee, orange juice, toast. Fine fare. It's waiting for her at a table just off the elevator which would bring her here.

Cat won't have to wait too long. It isn't as though Elle has a whole lot else to do; any invitation to talk, even if it does come from one of those wussy friends of those so-called resistance fighters, is an invitation to something more than sitting around for yet another few hours.

When the elevator doors slide open, it's to reveal a very bored-looking Elle, fingers tapping on the side of the cell before she takes a single, calm step out. It's fairly chilly from being early, so she's wearing a jean jacket over a low-riding tanktop. She's also wearing a pair of Abby's pants that the healer had worn back in high school. Hey, they fit!

She's standing by the table, clad in a Brooks Brothers ensemble which one might wear to a courtroom or office building. Light beige jacket; blouse, skirt and shoes of complementary colors, hair pinned up neatly so it doesn't go past the bottom of her collar while she's standing erect. Cat has poise and polish, the air of confidence and breeding about her; a brunette whose heels raise her height from five feet eight inches to 5' 10". There is no folder in sight, she has all the information about her arriving invitee stored in the massive files of her brain.

"Good morning, Miss Bishop," she calmly greets. "Thank you for coming. Please, do sit and eat." Her expression is calm, she remains standing until the inadvertent traveler is seated.

The smaller woman flicks her eyes upwards towards Cat, her lips shifting in a slightly reproving smile, before she pulls a seat back as bidden. Her gaze stays locked where it is, uncomfortably, until finally it subtly moves down off Cat's face to the spread of food when she sits. "You must be Cat," she says shortly. …And right back up it goes. "What is it you want?"

After all, few people invite Elle Bishop to breakfast just for the sake of making small talk about the weather.

"A number of things, Miss Bishop," Cat answers with her own slight smile as she smooths her skirt and settles into another of the open seats where food is also placed. "For one, I want my lover back, murdered ten years ago by someone working to release a virus created by Primatech, one so poorly guarded Dr. Odessa Knutson was able to steal and pass it along to Kazimir Volken. But I can't have that. She's dead, it just is what it is." Fingers of her right hand wrap around the handle of her coffee cup but don't lift it.

"Another is information. If anyone is to go back where they came from, we need to figure out how they came to be here."

She? It takes a moment for Elle to decide whether Cat is using that pronoun for Odessa, or for her lover. Evidently lover, though both are, presumably, dead.

Both forearms extend forward onto the table, and she leans inwards a little, though no move is made towards beginning to eat. There will be none of that until the proverbial ice is broken. "There's a few of us who'd like to get our hands on Odessa," she answers with placid coolness. "Even now. But how do you know so much about all of that?"

"I'm familiar with Doctor Knutson," Cat shares, "because she attracted my attention when she assisted a man named Ethan in kidnapping me and my companion from our apartment. She used her Evolved ability to manipulate time, injected us with a drug, and we woke up with our hands tied. Ethan then proceeded to cut off her left thumb."

"Now," Cat explains, "I had been associated with Phoenix before that point, but we didn't quite understand exactly what the organization called Vanguard was up to. After their operative Ethan kidnapped us and murdered her, I made the Vanguard very much my concern. Less than a month later we stopped them from assassinating Allen Rickham. In doing that we came across a man who perceives probability, and his assistance was key in both sorting out the Vanguard's agenda and making a plan to stop it."

She sips from her coffee.

"As you can see because you're, well, still alive, we succeeded in that goal. You may thank us now." A slight smile forms. "You may disbelieve, but the public record here holds the proof of it. The word got out, and we became celebrated for heroism."

"Special little you," Elle murmurs somewhat icily, fingertips of one hand fluttering in tiny, mocking motions a short distance above the table. She remains dour even when this stops, though that doesn't prevent her from reaching out to pluck a slice of toast off the stack. And then picking at it, as though it was a plaything.

A slight lift of her eyebrows denotes her surprise at everything Cat just chosen to tell her. "Ff— I'd always guessed that's what Odessa's ability could be. But I was never sure." This is almost to herself, before she picks it up in volume again, eyes narrowing a little. "You sound like— a Wikipedia article, you know that? I think I'll ignore most of what you just picked to spill to me. If you have something specific to ask me, ask it, but I'm not impressed with either you or your hero buddies."

She remains poised, her face calm, almost even neutral as she listens to Elle and observes her behavior. Impressed or not, Cat has had some practice speaking with the connected and the influential over time. She looks like money, she has this building, she sounds educated and well informed. Lawyer? Businesswoman? Both? The mention of being like a Wikipedia article draws a quirk of her lips, but she doesn't comment on it directly. Elle, Cat realizes, may at some point figure out the nature of her ability, but she isn't going to tell.

It very much remains that businesslike, respectful tone when she speaks again. "You may want to return to 2009," she suggests, "or you might choose to remain here and blend in. We can help you do that, or we can help you return to whence you came. To do that for you and the others, or the others without you, it would help to figure out what happened at Moab. If you would kindly give me your account of the events there…"

Once upon a time, technically speaking, Elle had had her own connections to the the filthy rich and influential. Through her father. She's no stranger to the concept of being around such people, though of course, neither had she been saturated in high society as Cat has. And that's something that can be seen. "Of course I want to return to 2009," she affirms, irritation receding into coolness as she sends another dark, considering glance Cat's way. "There's nothing I even want here."

Everything she had known, everything that had mattered to her, is all about ten years that way.

"I'll tell you what I know, but it might not be helpful." The decision comes curtly. "As someone probably already told you, I was in the lowest level of Moab— what they call Red Level— when Phoenix showed up and started banging around. I won't regurgitate everything that happened, but as far as what you're interested in? There were lasers and stuff going off everywhere, I'd just attacked this dark-haired chick with glowing purple eyes. Peter and Hiro were just standing around, but for some reason that set Sylar off. Real bad. He slammed me into a wall when he saw me do it, and."

Her eyes travel up, and to the side, and back foward again, mouth quirking upwards at one corner. "Next thing I know, I'm here. I was out. Sorry. Missed the actual moment of time warping."

She listens intently, her eyes showing thought, the evidence of consideration and calculation as she takes it in. Lasers, Cat knows, was Gabriel Gray. Hiro, Helena already said, was on Green when they jumped. Gillian, Peter, and Gabriel were on Red when Helena came up so she didn't see anything from that point. What was clear is that people in different places were displaced, and the displacer didn't come with them. The dark haired chick with purple eyes setting Sylar off, that must've been Gillian giving a power boost, coupled by his swift reaction to assaulting Gillian.

When Elle is finished Cat lifts her coffee again and sips, still clearly assessing. The principals who could've done this are Hiro and Peter, in separate locations at the time. Hiro wasn't seen to do anything, Helena told her earlier. That leaves Peter, and in the presence of Gillian at that. It wouldn't be the first time he went into overdrive and out of control. She has the explosion of Midtown in her indelible memory courtesy of his telepathic transmission, she saw the man nearly go nuclear again the first time he met Gillian, and she's seen other people go into overdrive by simple exposure too.

There will be more interviews with others there to confirm things, but this seems a very plausible explanation. "Thank you, Miss Bishop," Cat offers. Her fork is picked up and she lifts a bit of the food before her. "Is the food unpleasant? I regretfully didn't know if you're vegetarian or vegan. It's my hope you'll accept the meal and enjoy it."

And Elle watches Cat's eyes as the other woman spins through her calculations, raw curiosity starting to show through in hers. She can't know what it is the other is thinking, though if it has anything to do with getting all the pieces on the chessboard back into their proper dimension, it'll be worth it. Hopefully.

"If I was a vegetarian, I'd have starved years ago." This is said dryly, and she does pick up a nearby pitcher of orange juice so she can pour herself a glass. "It's good. Nice of you to put in the extra mile just for me. I could've probably told you all that if you'd asked me in passing, you know."

"I could have," she replies, "but there was no way of knowing how you'd react." Cat sips at her coffee again. "In any case it doesn't hurt to be a gracious hostess. For all I know you think we're all the devil. We have some time, an opportunity to perhaps arrive at seeing each other in different lights."

Her coffee is set down, and the fork taken up again. "I've never understood vegetarians, really. The cycle is for doing what we do. Even vegetarians kill. That plant they eat used to be alive, after all, and its seeds won't become new plants. But we all eventually die, and return to the bottom of the chain. It seems very much that whether we eat meat or not we become food, there's little point to worrying about the karma of eating animal flesh."

Elle's gaze lingers at that, looking at once musing and deeply more amused. No. If she's seeing anyone in a different light, it's because they'll eventually be useful to her in helping her get back to her own time. Until then, she's willing to play nice and establish an unspoken truce, but after that…

There aren't any promises.

"Philosophical, aren't you." Once the orange juice is poured, she takes an exploratory sip before moving with both hands to some of the steak. Cat can't know it, but she's extraordinarily hungry; it's the kind of meal she has almost never gotten at the Company. "It's true. We all kill. But the difference is that plants don't feel pain. Animals do." She smiles, oddly. "And if they do, then I doubt anyone cares."

It's a dance of sorts, both women having agendas and not necessarily placing all cards on the table yet. Cat knows Elle could go back and run straight to her boss at Primatech, give Roger Goodman up and try to save that nefarious operation, but here she is being a good hostess. Sounding the potential continued adversary out, perhaps. She also knows Elle could give them all up to DHS and Primatech, knowing what she does just by being here. Hiding the broad strokes, well, that would be pointless. The woman is here.

"I've an active mind," she replies after swallowing that last bite, demonstrating the refinement of not speaking while food is in her mouth. "What questions would you ask of me, Miss Bishop?"

Elle also waits until swallowing to speak again, though more because she's in thought than because she really cares for something as trivial as table manners. "I know what questions I want to ask you," she replies brusquely, focusing on cleaving her steak apart with careful, surgical slices. "Abby said you'd know a lot more about what I want to know. But I don't know what you will tell me." She isn't dumb, either. It would be foolish for her to tell everything and give up ammunition to a very-possible enemy, should their positions be reversed. She wouldn't do it herself.

"Ask," Cat invites. "Maybe I'll answer, maybe I won't, on an individual basis. You've nothing to lose, if I don't answer you just won't have what you already lack." Her food is continued with, and her eyes close. It's a warming day in April, nice clear skies.

Elsewhere on the roof, should Elle's eyes explore beyond this dining area which features a grill for cooking and eating outdoors in warmer months, is an enclosure for a child to play safely in, a helipad fenced off for safety purposes, a few machines for climate control inside, the elevator she arrived in, a service elevator in another corner, an area with planters set up where seeds were perhaps newly sown, and an area that looks like it was designed for impromptu musical performances overlooking the Village below.

And they do, if just for a little while. Elle's blue eyes drift, idly but searchingly, touching various points around her surroundings before refocusing on the distance between Cat and her. If nothing else, it's the aura of the environment they're in that still feels so strangely different. The calm. The warmth and greenness, especially of Unity Park, lurking just out of mind's eye but not out of feeling.

"Fine, Miss Know-It-All. What happened to me?" A breath of silent air exits her nostrils. "When the Company imploded. Did I…go down with it? What happened to—" She'd been about to say Dad. No. "—my father?"

"We're looking into that, Miss Bishop," Cat replies. "One of us theorized that perhaps each person who traveled forward has no current counterpart, so we're researching. I can't promise the answers we find if we do turn up anything will be palatable or reassuring, but we are looking. Your father… we can seek data on him also. What's his name?" Cat speculates here, poker face in play, that maybe it'll be enough if Elle is able to somehow engineer herself and her father not going down with Primatech.

A snort. "Think about what you just said. Miss Bishop. You can figure out who my dad is, if you really know everything else." Robert Bishop, of course. The very head of operations of the nefarious Company of which they speak. "And if you don't know that, then tell me something else. How did the Company go down? When, and how, did Goodman make his move?" It's worded and spoken casually, but there is a certain stability in her eyes, now, as she tranquilly surveys Cat. A need to know.

"He was interviewed on television in 2009, autumn," Cat shares. "A few months prior to that, information was made public by an anonymous source which started the downfall." Her head tilts, and she considers. "The odds are perhaps against you. Secrets have a way of eventually coming out. You could go back and stop Roger Goodman from doing that. He may even have been the anonymous source, or he may not have been. Nothing says you can't be that source, or do it in full public view along with your father, to become the public heroine who blew the whistle."

Cat calmly continues eating.

But as far as Elle knows, that anonymous source had been Goodman. If she did, somehow, succeed against the astronomical and probably accurate odds that Cat is posing, then this future would never have existed.

They wouldn't be eating steak and drinking OJ and coffee right now.

What a curious idea. Funny how time travel works, isn't it.

The other idea is just as quaint. Elle sticks a bite of steak in her mouth, critically examining her bare fork tines with a small twist of her wrist once it's out. There's a hint of a smirk, once she has swallowed. "Nooow. Why do you think I'd do that?"

"Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn't," Cat replies between bites. "History says tyrannies and fascism doesn't last. The Soviet Union collapsed, the Nazis failed. KGB operatives were exposed when the USSR splintered, a lot of them became jobless and some turned into the Russian mafia. Still others weren't so lucky. When Primatech goes down for all its crimes, people who work there will be in similar situations. You've got the advantage of seeing how it all turns out and protecting yourself from the fallout by being someone who makes things public. If the Company has any redeeming value, after all, they can stand the light of day. If not, well, that will be what it will be."

Meanwhile, she's also realizing the info exists. If Elle won't make sure it gets out and joins in the outing, or acts to stop Roger Goodman, there's still no way to stop it. She can send copies back with each person returning so one of them can release things even if Primatech rounds some of them up.

Cat will not, of course, say this to Elle other than by inference about odds. There's just one potential obstacle: Making sure she can amass the exact data that was released or enough other info to achieve the effect of wrecking Primatech.

The poker face hasn't shifted, she continues to eat and drink coffee.

After another couple bites of her own, Elle's lips draw themselves into a thinner, wryer line. It isn't a sure thing that what Cat is mentally proposing will work. If the outing doesn't come from someone already inside the Company, it's much less likely to have the desired effect. Who's going to believe a surly twenty-something, or even a couple of surly twenty-somethings, without the credibility that comes from being involved?

"I don't know how all this extra-dimension-y, future stuff works," she says tartly. "Don't really care, either. But futures can be changed, I'm pretty sure. Even something little can change the way things work out. You should know that, with all your calculating."

"My friend Helena Dean is dead," Cat says quietly, setting her fork down. "The Helena here now knows she's likely to die, and still she chooses to go back if she can and live that life, however short it might be." There's a part that Cat isn't saying there, and it's a big segment of what she counts on. That a painting was once done of Helena being impaled by a piece of rebar.

It didn't happen that way, at the time the work indicated it would. But, sure enough, there she was on May 18, 2011. Dying after the suicide bombing with rebar in her heart. The parameters changed, but the outcome… Helena is dead. Maybe what she has in mind will work. Maybe Elle will do the self-preservation thing and help expose Primatech, maybe not. Maybe she can send copies back and have them distributed by others in case Goodman goes down because Elle knows, and maybe not.

But Cat will try just the same. Her friend is a martyr, the one here now will likely become a martyr.

Doctor Catherine Chesterfield will be damned if she lets that happen in vain without a fight.

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