colette_icon.gif joanna_icon.gif

Scene Title Burdened
Synopsis Colette Nichols is burdened with a self-imposed task of preventing a terrible future from coming to pass. Joanna Renard is burdened with the weight of that very future and her daughter's secrets.
Date August 26, 2010

Solstice Condominiums

Solstice Condominiums has had some questionable things happen in the past and alarming incidents. The murder of a Heiress one floor down, the subsequent suicide of another occupant just days after, security has always been an important thing at the building. But Colette's access is easily granted by the fact that her own sister lives a floor up and across from the district attorney.

A long day at work, building cases, riding legal assistants and preparing for court the next day, not to mention the expectation of a grumpy ex who might materialize out of the mist and waggle a DVD in front of her face and demand to know just what she meant by what was on it.

The elevator dings it's warning of the approaching carriage, doors opening to disgorge Joanna who is hopping on one foot to peel off her heels and let stockinged feet meet carpet. Black skirt, tailored jacket tossed over her arm, soft sided briefcase filled with necessary files to work on at home. In her other hand is takeout from some Indian place down the street. Perils of living alone, one doesn't like to cook for herself and there's no dinner party happening. Her life isn't so glamerous as television makes it all out to be.

No one's life usually is, not even for a revolutionary.

Getting in to Solstice Condominiums wasn't the hard part for Joanna Renard's stalker, getting into an apartment belonging to someone else was considerably more difficult, involving physical theft of secure keys and more skulking around reception desks and security offices than one teenage girl ever wants to handle.

The first sign that something is amiss to Joanna is the disturbance of vertical blinds rustling by one of the windows from the disturbance of air. "Please don't scream," is a sheepish way to introduce yourself when you're stalking around someone's apartment when they're not home.

Near the blinds she disturbed, Colette Nichols makes sure to reveal herself across the apartment from Joanna, so as to not give the impression of cornering. She fades into visibility like someone dissolving the background of a painting to reveal a figure that was not there before, colors swirling and blurring to drain away from where she stands and form her outline, then depth, color and tone. Dressed in black jeans and a burgundy tanktop there's little about her attire that says spy, but more moody teenager.

Around one shoulder, Colette carries her ubiquitous olive-drab courier bag, one hand gripping the strap tightly, her other hand raking back inky black hair from her face. "I need to talk to you."

When your daughters girlfriend is slinking about your apartment and using her ability - she has an ability! - the first thought is not how she got in. Obviously, she lifted it from Tasha. If she knew how Colette really got the key, she might be even more upset than she is, faced with an intruder and faced with a possibly tense conversation.

"You have two minutes to state your case as to why I shouldn't just shunt you out my front door for breaking and entering my abode Colette and my daughter had better no be your reason unless she is laying in a hospital and dying"

Tensing up, Colette's first reaction is the normal one. Tasha's mother is scolding her because she did something she knows was wrong. That's why there's the sting of emotion in her eyes, why her posture tenses and why her back stiffens up the way it has. But Colette has to put aside the human relation here, has to turn this into Ferrymen business, which it partly is. Putting herself into the same frame of mind that allowed her to hold in Magnes' blood with her bare hands on the roof of a hospital, putting herself into the same frame of mind that allowed her to not have long lasting psychological damage from her experiences in Pinehearst, Colette is able to compartmentalize her emotions.

"How about if you're lying in a bed, dying?" Dark brows furrow and Colette looks towards the front door, then back to Joanna, walking with carpet-softened bootfalls towards Joanna. "His name is Sasha, your Russian." Your Russian sounds so strange when offered like that. "The one you saw in your vision, his name is Sasha. I have a photograph of him on my cell phone," Colette moves her hand down to the back pocket of her pants, demonstratively and slowly, as though she were dealing with one of the Ferry's multitudes of paranoid contacts.

"I have a lot I need to talk to you about, and Tasha doesn't know I'm here." A pause, tension in her voice, "Can't know I'm here."

Tasha told Colette. Well of course Tasha told Colette. That's what you do when you pillow talk after you've had…

Joannas getting derailed and closes her eyes, closing the door with a foot so that anything heard in the apartment isn't heard by anyone outside the apartment. The jacket to her suit tossed onto a coatrack, she starts heading to the kitchen with a very unhappy look on her face.

"It was on the floor, in a parkade. And if she managed to find the man from my vision, I'd rather not see him if it's all the same to you. Measures have been taken so that whatever happens to me that week, won't be happening. Do you have a habit of breaking into homes Colette? Or just that of your girlfriends. If you were any other person young lady, you'd be fleeing out the door as I called the cops" As it stands, she'll likely call vincent after this and debate as to whether she informs Tasha of what Colette has done.

"You might as well come in properly, I'm going to have dinner. Do you like Indian?"

"I don't want anyone to have probably reason to connect you to me," Colette offers in a way that implies this is really only going to get worse, though of course she's taking the offer of dinner, moving in towards the island in the kitchen, unshouldering her courier bag and setting it down on one of the stools. "I figured it'd be easier to deny I was here if nobody saw me come in or out for the last couple of months." It's hard to imagine it's really been that long since she was last here.

Climbing up onto the opposite stool, Colette sets down the phone on the countertop, then opens up the front flap on her courier bag and takes out a digital video camera and sets it down on the countertop next to the phone, flips open the side and slides out the memory card. "This is for Vincent," is probably the most unlikely thing Colette should be saying in this situation as she presses the memory card down and slides it over across the island.

"It's a copy, a video record of a government-funded black operations squad that was masquerading as CDC transport over the winter." Sliding her tongue over her lips, Colette warily takes her hand off of the card. "Vincent's the only guy I know that— that I think I can trust in the government, and I can't deliver it directly to him. There's video footage of the vehicle, a— coffin… thing, and some of their hardware. They were illegally transporting a captive, I've got a picture of her on the SIM card on that phone, same one with Sasha on it."

Clearing her throat, Colette leans back on the stool and folds her hands in her lap. "You deserve to know what's going on, and Tasha… didn't think you'd understand, didn't want me talking to you. So, I— I went behind her back because you deserve to be aware of what's going on, and because I need to get this and… some other things to Vincent."

"So you're going to use me, as the mule, to bring this to my former husband, Tasha's father, because you can't do something like… drop it off at a place like say.. alley cat couriers, or handing it to another person within your little group" Little group. "are you banking on me delivering this to him and not to someone else within the government? What if you can't trust Vincent Colette, and he turns this over. Are you hoping that my position will grant me some immunity from the questions that will arise from the contents of that memory card? How are you so sure that I won't give up that it was you who passed to me and where it came from?"

Joanna turns, gathering two plates from a cupboard and placing them down. Spoons and forks, knives soon follow and they're laid out for Colette to help herself to what she wants.

"Why do you want me to see this Sasha person's picture? If Tasha doesn't want you doing this, why do you feel the need to go behind her back. That's not very kind of you or respectful of my daughters wishes."

That's a whole damn lot of questions.

Lifting her hands up to brush her bangs back from her forehead, Colette exhales a sigh and slouches forward, folding her hands together and resting them on the top of the island, shoulders hunched forward and brows furrowed. "I know you'll do what's right, what's safe for Tasha, because that's what I'm doing. If you want to protect her like I do, then these go to Vincent. I know Vincent's trustworthy because…" there's just a moment of faltering where Colette studies Joanna for a moment. "Because Vincent helped my network once, when he didn't have to. He fought these people and saved one of our operatives from getting kidnapped. Because he deserves a favor done for him in return."

Swallowing nervously, Colette looks askance to the bag at her side, then back to Joanna. "All I care about is Vincent getting that data, and making sure you stay alive. Running away on a cruise… it— it might work, yeah. But I don't want there to be a might or a maybe. If the riots never happen, that's… better."

Mis-matched eyes move to the Indian takeout, and Colette's stomach makes a protesting noise demanding action be taken. Looking up to Joanna, Colette offers a strained smile and reaches out for one of the takeout boxes, then a fork to start portioning herself out something to eat.

"I love Tasha, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind." Those words aren't Colette's and their spoken in a hushed tone of voice. "She's afraid of telling you the truth because she loves you, doesn't want to lose her mother, doesn't— think you'd understand." Looking up to Joanna, Colette's brows furrow and her head shakes slowly. "I want to believe in you like I believed in my dad. Like I believe in Vincent."

"Who's your father again?" Joanna inquired, portioning out her own food onto her plate just precisely so. Work might have to be put aside for the night.

Both of Colette's brows come up as she angles a crooked look at Joanna, mis-matched eyes settled on the brunette for a long, steady time even after a hungry portion of Chicken Vindaloo has been scooped out onto her plate. Of all the thing Colette offered out, that is the one thing that Joanna attached to. Wary eyes consider the lawyer for a moment before the box of takeout is set down and the fork is resting on Colette's plate.

"Detective Demsky," Colette offers in a hushed tone of voice, "Judah Demsky, he works homicide. I showed him what's on that video, told him what's going on… he listened." That's about all Colette needs to afford at the moment. "That's all I'm asking you do too, because— because I think all this information I have can help stop what's coming. So Tasha doesn't have to worry about— about maybe losing her mother, or… or me."

Lawyer face is on, has been on since Colette spoke and laud the memory card on the table. The name of the young womans father is marked down in her mind, filed away for later. "It's a lie, a falsehood that at times, you must be cruel to be kind. It doesn't work. Mister Lazzaro and I are proof of such, and our separation and the impact that it has had on Tasha's life and upbringing" Done with filling her plate with food, the China heaped high and a spoon dug in in preparation for a bite. "The only time that one should hurt to heal is in surgery"

"You're asking me to do a lot more than you think Colette. Think very carefully and hard, and of the potential consequences of bringing this to me and asking this of me. Is this worth, quite possibly, what you have with Natasha" The one hand that isn't shaking the spoon side to side to make loose food drop, is reaching over to pluck up the memory card.

"Or the consequences to the relationship between myself and Tasha"

"I can't put a value on another human life," Colette responds with, sliding the plate of chicken vindaloo over to herself. "Not especially your life or the lives of thousands of other people in this city. I love Tasha, I— I love her so much. But I know that if these riots happen, there's a chance she could lose both of us, far more permanently than just— than just being mad. You… aren't the only person who saw themselves die."

Shifting in her seat, Colette's brows furrow as she pokes at the sauce-covered chicken with her fork. "I have another memory card with me, it's in my laptop," there's a nod to the bag, "and it has some audio edits of confessions of flash visions that were had by people in my network. I edited out some stuff that… might not be good to go around, but all the kind've important information is there. I'm pretty sure it's information the government doesn't have… or, I don't think it's stuff Vincent has."

That she hasn't eaten yet likely speaks to her nerves. Looking up to Joanna, Colette's brows furrow and she only maintains eye contact for a few moments. "All I'm askin gyou to do is watch a couple videos and pass along the information. There's nothing illegal on the footage, I'm not asking you to break any laws. I'm just asking you to take this anonymously delivered information to Vincent, because he can… I don't know, I'm— grasping at straws here. He can help, I hope. If nothing else I'm trying to repay him for helping us out when we needed it."

Exhaling a slow sigh through her nose, Colette closes her eyes. "Somebody once told me that you can't do anything without the right information. That if you don't learn, then you're bound to ff— uh— well he swore a lot but anyway he had a point." Colette looks up from her meal. "I'm offering to be completely truthful with you… if you think you can listen. If you don't want to, then just watch the videos, listen to the audio, and make sure it gets to Vincent."

"You can't, but many people can and do put a value on life, be it monetary or even their own. You would die for my daughter, I believe it just through your words alone. So right there, that tells me that you can put a price on a human life. You're putting one on mine when you came over here to give me Sasha's name and his picture"

She pauses, to shovel a modest bite of her indian food into her mouth, the spoon set down on a paper napkin so she can fish around a cupboard for some glasses for some milk. Combat some of the heat.

"Sometimes, ignorance is bless Colette, have you ever heard of that saying? But ignorance is not an excuse by law either" Down clink the glasses on the marble counter, followed by the milk jug. "What do you hope, other than passing along this to Mister Lazzaro, do you think I will take from this Colette? A better understanding of what Tasha has joined up to be a part of? You hope that i'll understand, what if I already do, but don't agree"

"Uninformed people can't understand anything," Colette offers with both brows raised, "do you just go into a trial and wing it or do you actually do some research?" That much is a little sharp, but she's trying to make her point. "I just want you to listen, whether you agree or not— that's your choice. But you deserve the truth. I also hope that by recognizing Sasha's face, by having something concrete of him you might be able to… I don't know, avoid him better, or avoid places he's in. What I saw's all fuzzy by now, I don't know if you ever saw his face in your vision, so I wanted to give you as much info as possible."

There's a furrow of Colette's brows as she considers Joanna. "I'm hoping that even if you don't agree, that you at least understand a little better. If you want to stay ignorant, you can just pass the stuff along and not view it. If you'd rather just… ostrich everything, cool. If that's what you gotta' do."

She jabs at her food again, "But if you want to know, want to actually know everything…" Colette hesitates, then reaches down into her pants pocket and pulls out a business card, not quite offering it out yet. "I can give you the name of a place to go to, where all your questions can be answered better'n I can. You say no, I tuck this card away and you never heard a word about it again."

"You are a fairly righteous young woman, and I suspect quite a zealot for the cause" Not necessarily a bad thing. Or maybe it is. "You're important to her" What significance that holds. "You've recorded accounts of others, who had visions? Did this Sasha see me as well?" There's a gesture to pick up her plate, head on out into the livingroom area. The A/C keeping the condominum to a nice comfortable temperature. If the young girl knows how to hook it up, Joanna doesn't know, but there's a chance for her to show Joanna what she's talking about.

There's a faint smile offered, a little conflicted, at the comment about her righteousness. "I'm stubborn," she offers in slightly self-depricating fashion. "She's seen the video of the… vehicle and the…the coffin. The testamonies of the flashes, she'll see soon… but she hasn't yet. You're not the only person I've given this to though."

Taking a break between words, Colette is actually forcing herself to eat, anxiety may be trumping hunger, but she knows she has to get the food down or she won't have the energy to make it all the way back to the Bronx tonight. She's quiet while Joanna gets herself situated in the living room, then finally gets up once she's scraped her plate clean, grabbing the video player and the memory card, then her courier bag in a jumble of too many possessions.

Sliding down off of the stool, Colette leaves the plate on the island and follows Joanna's path into the living room. "You sure you want to see this?" Colette doesn't go for the sofa, but instead focuses on moving towards Joanna's television, settling down on her knees and moving the video camera to the floor. A moment later she's opening cabinets beneath the television and rooting around in bundles of wires, looking for the right connectors. Thankfully, standard RGB cables are abundant in most home entertainment centers, and finding the right wires is just a matter of perseverence.

"Your insistence, is that I do, and I will not pass it over to Mr Lazzaro without knowing what it is that I'm passing over. I want to see all the .. evidence for myself, so to speak" The matriarch of the Renard family speaks. "How is Tasha. She hasn't come around in a few weeks" Which is long and ancient in time between mother and daughter.

That's a good question, and Colette's answer is deliberated on in a way that Joanna recognizes from seeing people on both sides of the witness stand. "She's… scared." There's a crease of her brows, fingers rubbing together slowly before she starts plugging in the cables into the side of the camera, then into the side of the television. "She's afraid of telling you stuff," Colette starts to explain, "we had an argument about it." Mis-matched eyes go up towards Joanna, then down to the camera as she debates on which tape to put in. "Now I'm here."

Leaning up on her knees, Colette presses the power button on the top of the television, then waits for the screen to warm up before switching the menu to auxilery as she settles back down to sit on her heels. "Otherwise she's doing good, getting ready for her classes. She's— she's really excited about that, and I think it'll help take her mind off things. She told me about the cruise too…" but that's really all Colette has to say on it.

Finally deciding on which video to show first, Colette slides in the memory card and looks back up to Joanna, one brow raised in expectance, waiting for the signal to start the show.

"Which is colette speak for I won't tell you, it's Tasha's choice to tell you why she's scared" Fair enough. She could browbeat the girl into telling, put on her lawyer voice and not just her lawyer face. "I wanted to do the cruise in september or October. Not the week of november. Week of november I wanted Tasha with me, here, and safe with the security that is being provided. The same was offered to have you come and I surmise, that Tamara will have to come since I believe she's part of your family"

Regally, as if this weren't a big deal, she gestures for Colette to carry on with what she's doing, start the halftime show. She's make popcorn is she wasn't concerned that possibly, this was not going to be something delightful.

Tamara's name earns a look over her shoulder, having forgotten that she'd been mentioned around Joanna. Bobbing her head in a reluctant nod, Colette swallows awkwardly after offering a smile and looks back to the television, then down to the recorder as she presses play.

What shows on the screen is immediately disturbing when juxtaposed to the screaming coming over the television. Grainy footage shows a willowy blonde woman jolting up out of what looks like a molded plastic coffin. Dressed in a medical gown, her long-limbed frame flails around, panicked, wide brown eyes resembling that of a scared cow's. Blonde hair hangs in damp ringlets, and medical tubing is connected from where it is taped against the inside of her wrist to machines on the inside of the case.

«Hold her down! Jesus, hold her down!»

It's a British woman's voice coming over the camera, one off-screen. There's blurry figures dressed in heavy winter clothing trying to keep the panicked woman down inside of the container, though there's a deep man's voice speaking in an American accent. «Calm down, calm down. It's alright. You're safe now.» Jensen Raith's voice isn't a familiar one to Joanna.

«Where— Where are they!? Where are my children!» Maeve Buchannan is also not a familiar face or voice to Joanna, and out of context — much as Colette saw this happen — the display of Maeve panicking and asking for her children seemed heartbreaking. Knowing the truth about the former Moab inmate, however, would make it all the more sinister for different reasons.

The video cuts out around here and when it comes back on, it breaks mid-way into another recording. «Is it on? Okay— alright this is… recording one.» Colette's voice comes over the television, and the camera swivels disorientingly, showing her face up close, a redheaded young man over her shoulder with round, dark sunglasses and a nother view of an old cottage's interior and a crackling fireplace. «Um, recording of… //» there's a voice off screen, muffled a little, «Shut up Tash, I've got it. Um, recording one of whatever the hell this is.//»

Colette's camerawork is jerky and horrible, bouncing up and down as she brings the camera out through the front door of the cottage into a snow filled front yard surrounded by thick pine trees. A beat up old pickup truck with no license plates and riddled with bullet-holes passes by on camera. Laid out on the snow, there is a large, black plastic coffin-shaped container. Colette walks over, zooming in on the IV wires attached to the open hood, the tubes, camera auto-focusing in and out on the lettering, then pans down to the padding inside. «This is where we found one of the… I don't know like, prisoners. They were hooked up to these tubes, sedated and locked up in the back of a van. There's— one more. Weird, it was out here last night…» Colette's camerawork moves to tire tracks, then swivels over to the redheaded young man standing right in line with the camera. <Where's the other one?»

The video cuts out, then comes back again and shows a distant view of a rail-thin blonde woman, now dressed in borrowed clothing too big for her. She sits silently at a table in the cottage's kitchen, hunched over a bowl of soup with tangled blonde hair hanging down her face. The camera lens zooms in, then out, then the image cuts out again. When it comes back on, there's footage of the coffin, this time a close up of the medical tubing and machinery inside the lid.

«I don't know what these all were,» Colette's voice again and her somewhat shaky camerawork, «Eileen said this one is a tranquilizer,» and Colette's hand comes on camera to point to a plastic tube on the inside of the lid marked with writing. «She didn't know what the other drugs were. We found that woman in this one, and apparently there was a woman named Juliette in one of the others, Liette's mom. I… I really don't know what the hell this is. God, it smells weird inside still.» The camera zooms in on the synthetic padding, then back out again. Then the video cuts out.

Colette presses stop at this point, looking up and over to Joanna, brows furrowed. "Her name is Maeve, the uh, the woman that was in there. She didn't say how she was captured, but she was being hauled like an animal inside that thing…"

Nothing on Joanna's face. She could be in a court room, listening to testimony, preparing her counter arguments and questions to toss at the witness on the stand. All with a plate of chicken on her lap. A palm rises just enough to sweep outwards, a gesture for Colette to carry on with the tape if there's more. Careful neutrality on her face and eerie at that.

The look on Colette's face is one of marked uncertainty and nervousness. Her brows furrow, eyes avert to the floor and she looks down to the video player. For a few moments she's just still and silent, not really sure of what to do. When her thumb slides over the eject button for the memory card, Colette replaces it with the other one she'd had.

"I cut the video out from this one…" She says in a hushed tone of voice, now a little awkward for all of Joanna's dispassionate reaction. "It— yeah." When she presses play again, there's just audio that comes over the television, the screen itself black, though showing the green Play icon.

A southern young woman is speaking when the audio finally comes on. «Uhh, I was in a bus when it happened, on a bridge. In the vision, I was with Delilah Trafford in a store, empty and I think I'd broken into it. She was on the stretcher and we were delivering her baby. She named him Walter. I remember seeing the ambulance on it's side and broken, can hear people rioting streets over and our siren going off. In the back of the ambulance, is a body, a cloth draped over it, pretty sure that it's a guy at work that we call the Vegan. Trevor. His neck was broken. Probably sometime around early evening. I think, not sure.»

Colette shifts her attention over to Joanna, brows furrowed, then looks back to the screen. This time it's a woman with a strong Irish accent. «So, the… visions, right? I saw, like… I was running through a hallway, carrying my violin case, a paper, and uh… a flashlight. — It was on fire, heat an' flames everywhere. I was just about t' get out when I tripped, fell. Think I broke my arm, and my violin went slidin' on out. Probably would have died, part of the ceiling started to give. Some woman stepped in and kept it from falling while I started to get up. And that's really it, I think. That good— »

Cutting out abruptly, the audio skip to another sample, it's a teenage boy's voice. «I was evacuating… I dunno, it looked like somewhere on the mainland. There was smoke and shit, all up in the sky. Had to be late in the afternoon, or maybe sometime in the evening. The sun was still up but it was like… setting, you know? Everything looked like it was on fire 'cause of the sunset, even though some shit really was.»

Then Colette chimes in on the recording with a question. «What was on fire?»

«Everything, I dunno…" the boy responds. "nothing right nearby. It was like… a bunch of blocks away, but the whole skyline was like, fucking orange. Everything was burning, there was so much smoke, even where I was that it was hard to breathe. I was with that big, old guy. Jensen? The one who's with Eileen all the time. There was some other guy I didn't recognize with sunglasses on, probably the same age maybe older.»

«What were they wearing?»

«Uh, I… Jensen was in regular clothing, some kinda' heavy jacket and jeans. The other guy was dressed in camouflage stuff, like a soldier, right?»

«Like a uniform?» Colette asks in return, «Did he have his name on it? Like, on the front, on his chest?»

«Yeah, it— uh, it said Camden now that you mention it. We were evacuating to a helicopter. There were some other kids with me, my age, I didn't recognize them. We all had backpacks though… matching ones.»

«A helicopter?»

«Yeah, like, a pretty big one. It had two sets of propellers, one on top of the other. It was touched down in a parking lot near the building we were all coming out of. I think I remember hearing Eileen at one point and a lot of birds crowing, but it might've been someone else with a similar accent.»

«"Someone British, you mean? Okay, and you said you were coming out of a building, did you see what it was?"» By now Colette's tone of voice is starting to sound anxious and the boy's no better.

«"No, no… It was brick, but it looked like every other building on the street. I didn't see any signs of anything, it was like— » He sounds choked up. «I could hear gunfire, loud, pretty close. There were people screaming. I could see people, through the smoke you know? They were running… just, running. It was like they didn't even know where they were going. I remember seeing some people, just like, walking through the smoke looking lost. They were covered in ash and soot and they just seemed to not know what was going on. Some of them were hurt, bleeding, it was like— it was so red, I mean, it got the ash all wet and red and— »

Once again the boy's voice cuts out, sounding emotional. When he starts speaking again, there's an obvious waver to his tone. «I saw a lady… she was like— I dunno, in her twenties? She was just… shuffling down the street, had a hammer in one hand, and it— God it had hair stuck to it, like— hair and skin from a person. She was just walking, it was like a fucking zombie movie— it— her guts were hanging out and she was just walking. Then she just— stopped, and fell over.» By now the boy sounds on the verge of tears.

«It's okay, it's— it'll be alright.» Colette tries to reassure him, sounding choked up herself.

«How's it gonna' be al— »

The sound cuts out again, then comes back on with a much older man's voice, speaking in a thick Brooklyn accent. «I don't have too much time, but this is important and it needs to go down on record.»

Once more, Colette is asking the questions. «Okay so… start from the beginning, I guess. What did you see when you blacked out on June tenth?»

«I was here, this safehouse. It was dark outside, but I couldn't see a clock anywhere. I was alone, for what it matters. Sitting at the table in the kitchen and… I could hear people coming in to the buidling, shouting. They'd already gotten in, before I started 'seeing'.»

«Who were they?»

«United States Armed Forces. Looked like National Guardsmen to me, they'd battered down the door and had come in armed and demanding everyone in the house surrender themselves. It was just me though. I stood up out of my chair and they demanded to know where everyone else was. I stated to them my name, my rank in the United States Army and my serial number.»

«They arrested me on the spot, no charges announced. I didn't resist, let them zip-tie my hands behind my back and they frog-marched me out through the living room and out the front door. There was an APC waiting outside…»

By now Colette is sounding a little incredulous, or just plain confused. «APC?»

«Armored Personnel Carrier. It wasn't for me, though. I could see more National Guardsmen across the street, knocking in doors and searching buildings, flashlights in windows. They took me out onto the sidewalk and knelt me down, told me I was under arrest as an enemy combatant and I complied willingly with their orders. You look confused.»

«Why— Why didn't you fight them? I mean— the [BEEP] is armed to the teeth. I've seen the armory in the basement I— I don't underst— »

«I will not ever raise arms against my own country, I didn't serve as many years in this country's service to take up arms against my own countrymen. I am not, nor will I ever be, a terrorist. I love this country, probably more than most other people in this whole network do, and there will never come a time where I will fight her.»

«That's all I saw, [BEEP]. There were probably fifty to sixty men on the street we were on, and I could hear gunfire at a distance, probably five to ten blocks up deeper into Manhattan. I know other people have said they saw fires, but it looked just like night to me where I was.»

Pressing pause on the tape, Colette swallows anxious and looks up to Joanna, brows furrowed. "There's more, but… do— you want to hear the rest?"

It's an important question, how much more of this does she have the heart to hear through all the way.

"I want to hear Tasha's" Joanna demands. Was there a reason she hasn't showed Tasha's? Vindiloo is untouched, plate shoved to the coffee table. "You did record Tasha's did you not?"

"I recorded mine," Colette explains in a hushed tone of voice, "It's… it's next." Sliding her tongue over her lips, Colette looks down to her lap and furrows her brows, fingers trembling as she lowers her head, brows furrowed. "I didn't record Tasha… be— because we both saw the same thing, and… and I didn't want to hurt her by making her have to tell me it again." Sliding her tongue over her lips, Colette looks up and creases her brows, then looks down to the floor as she presses play.

«I could hear Tasha shouting Tamara's name…» is the first thing Colette says in the recording, «She was far away from me, further down the street. I um… I— everything was burning, buildings, the sky. Ash was falling like snow. I— I was laying in the street. I could hear people… um, people all around me screaming, running. Running away from something. I couldn't move.»

As she listens to her own voice on the recording, Colette's own expression becomes distant, eyes glassy and threatening tears, face turning red. «I was… I was on my back, Tamara was cradling me in her lap. I was bleeding. A lot. My hands I— I was trying to hold in the blood from my stomach. Tasha was screaming my name. She— she was too far away.»

Swallowing dryly in the recording, enough to audibly be heard, Colette continues. «Tamara was crying, and— she dropped a bloody knife onto the asphalt. She… she told me she was so sorry, and… pressed her cheek to my forehead.» Those last words are choked out on the verge of a sob before the recording ends and Colette presses pause.

"Tasha," is hoarse when Colette says it. She clears her throat, then looks up to Joanna, lips pressed together firmly. "Tasha says she saw what I saw, just— from a distance. I— I didn't want to put her through that again by asking her more."

"You can turn it off now" Unreadable again, palms clasped in her lap and listening as Colette relays what she and Tasha saw together. "Well. Clearly. The three of you shall have to be seperated for that week" Clearly. Joanna rises from the couch, hand coming down on a box of tissues in a delicate square carved box and dropped beside Colette to take care of those possible tears that might fall.

Breathing in deeply, Colette reaches up and takes the box of tissues with a thankful smile, setting it down by her side and tugging one out to dab at her eyes with. "Yeah… yeah I agree," Colette offers in a hushed tone of voice. "I— I know Tasha won't, but… but that's what I was thinking we'd have to do. I was gonna' go somewhere, all on my own. I figure Tasha can stay with you, keep you out of trouble and make sure you don't get hurt." Theres a wryness to Colette's smile when she says keep you out of trouble.

"But… you're right. I can't tell Tasha that, though, she— she's really protective of me, she wouldn't understand. But after everything's done… if the riots do still happen, then…" there's a slow shake of the teen's head, "then she'll understand, when we'e all alive and safe again."

Looking up to Joanna, Colette swallows a little noisily, then looks down to her lap. "Are you going to deliver all this to Vincent?"

"You will go with your father. I will if necessary, send you both on a trip somewhere. Tamara, as much as I get the indication that you are close with her, will have to fend for herself and the kindness of other friends. Tasha will remain with me, here. None shall see each other, and that, is that"

So says Joanna.

"I'll deliver it" Joanna carts her plate back towards the kitchen, an unhappy line to her lips.

Agreeing for the sake of easiness, Colette offers a slow, bobbing nod of her head and swallows awkwardly again, lifting another tissue out of the box, this time to blow her nose. When she's done, the tissue's balled up and stuffed in her pants' pocket. "The cell phone," Colette explains with a jerk of her head to the island. "It— it's a disposable I picked up for you. It has my number in it, in case you need to get in touch with me. It's also got a SIM card in it that has the photo of Sasha on it and a photo of the woman we pulled out of the coffin… thing." Keeping her hands busy, Colette starts unplugging the RHG cables from the camera.

"That's… yours to do with what you want." Glancing askance to the television, Colette remembers what else she has tucked into the pocket of her jeans, and reaches down to her back pocket to finger the corner of that business card. "There's… more. Depending on— on how much you wanna' know. But you have to go to someone else for it."

Once more that business card is pulled out, while Colette's other hand is shoving her video recorder back into her courier bag and taking out the memory card to leave on the floor by the television.

"Did you want it?" Colette asks, holding the card's black backside up.

"Leave it with the other stuff" Joanna waves towards memory cards and disposable telephones. It's much to take in, somewhat akin to finding out that no, no really, your client did murder the guy and you have to decide whether you keep working for them in legal capacity or cut loose and bail.

"I'll get back to you, regardless. If you would so kindly pass to Tasha that I wish to have lunch with her at her convenience?"

At her convenience.

The term makes Colette exhale a sigh, realizing that Joanna has put on the same business mask Colette has, even if their courts of business are so far removed from one another. Slowly rising to her feet as she picks up the courier bag and slings it over her shoulder, Colette takes the few steps over to Joanna, then looks up at her and offers an apologetic smile. For the barest of moments she looks as though she was going to try and hug the older woman, but the affection is withheld and Colette instead turns for the coffee table, laying down the business card on the surface, face up.

"I'll go," she whispers with a hitch in the back of her throat, looking up to Joanna with a weary smile. "Can you— go out into the hall, check your mail box or something so I can slip out without anyone noticing? I— I figure you probably don't want anyone knowing someone like me's come around…"

"You realize that I have a fire escape yes?" That the girl doesn't need to creep down hallways and out doors with her little trick. "I can just open a window for some fresh air and you can go that way, avoid any security camera's and the like" The lawyer points out to the younger woman.

Fire— escape? The look on Colette's face says it all.

Huffing out a breathy laugh, Colette lifts up one hand to scrub at the back of her neck as she offers an awkward smile, looking over to one of the windows, then back to Joanna. Sliding her tongue over her lips, Colette starts to backpedal away from Tasha's mother, head ducking sheepishly and face a bit more red now than it was before. She's not the best ninja in the business, really.

As Colette backs away and turns, she's distorting like too much water mixed with paint. Colors swirl and blot away, then everything on her body bleeds to black and white until even those values fade away and Colette disappears from sight, save for the depressions her boots leave in the carpet.

She walks to the window and it slides open, seemingly of its own volition. "Thanks… for dinner," because it's the least Colette can offer as she noisily clunks out to the fire escape and then clanks her boots down on the metal. The window is left open, at least for now, leaving the premise of it being opened for a good reason behind as bootfalls clunk and clank out of earshot.

The breeze blowing curtains away from the window catches the business card, flips it up off of the table and sends it spinning through the air until it lands face up at Joanna's feet. There's a sharp, crimson colored bird shown in profile, partly constrained in a black circle, along with an italic logo.


We Protect Your Future

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