быстро (Bystro)


cat_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title быстро (Bystro)
Synopsis Cat and Francois go out.
Date November 24, 2009

Ryazan State University, Ryazan, Russia

The errand is nothing short of menial — that is, if you're soulless. The architecture of the Ryazan State University is beautiful, pristinely white and classical. Francois had noted to Cat that it was among the many parts of the city that has hardly changed in his eyes, though, he explained, its function had expanded from teachers' training through to its full university status. Snow and ice had lined the pavement upon their approach, though they're protected from the elements once inside the academic library that smells of paper and dust.

It's been some time, now, since they've both run their fingers through the paper archive for anything that even seems a little Vanguard, with Cat's trained knowledge of their recent tendencies and Francois' knowledge as to their foundation. They've been in companionable silence, something Francois himself excels at.

For only so long. The newspaper in his hands comes to rest against the wooden table top as he leans back in his chair and stretches his arms, and only shakes his head to deny having found anything. Late light streaks in through high windows, and students move silently through the shelves, sit down, stand up. Some have been here even long than Cat and Francois. Finally, he is moved to make conversation, voice quiet. "Holden told me you remember everything. You will have much about Ryazan when you go back home."

"I do," Cat confirms with head turning and eyes coming to rest on the man. "I've been busy since soon after arrival, first in the Professor's study with his books and later in other places. I've looked at a map of the city, and gone past that to maps of the country itself. Locations of towns and cities, roads leading between them and their status."

"And I bought a balalaika," she adds as an almost afterthought. Operation or not, when Cat goes somewhere her core musician comes along for the ride and will be indulged in some fashion.

That gets a soft snort of amusement from Francois, as he picks up another paper to scan through, passing the next to Cat. These are moderately recent, with Cat tackling the news from the past few months and Francois delving into time before even that. "I could have used such a talent, while in Russia especially. It must be difficult for you to get lost. Do you know how to play a balalaika?"

The best kind of information is the kind you directly stumble into, if it's only a sliver. It takes Cat perhaps a page flick to find the report on the missing person's, and the word Evolved is even in English, as if the journalist wasn't entirely sure how else to phrase it. As eyes quickly scan, or as quick as they can given the different language assimilated into Cat's knowledge pool via her ability, the article, information unfurls. A recent case of a missing person, the girlfriend of openly Evolved doctor Aleksandr Kozlow had disappeared - and now, a body recently discovered a few miles away from the Ryazan ironworks.

Speculation tells Cat that it was the doctor targeted specifically, rather than his woman, although by what is not printed out in quaint Times New Roman.

"I will soon enough," Cat replies to the question. "I'm a guitarist, so the instrument is similar. Picked up some material on balalaikas as well." Eyes are trained on the paper handed to her, and on encountering the article she taps the page with a finger. "Read this," she suggests in French.

Francois lifts a hand to receive the paper, patiently reading, before double-scanning for anything possibly familiar about the incident. "Well," he concludes, after a moment. "It is more than we had before. Perhaps it will match anything the others have been able to dig up, oui? I would suggest we have this copied, but— " His lifts his chin to her with a slight smile. "I suppose we already do." Another glance, before he's setting the newspaper aside. "It would not be above any of the Vanguard - it occurred only a few days before we arrived, also."

"It also wouldn't be above the Vanguard to have grabbed her because they wanted something from the doctor," Cat replies somberly, "and if she's the body that was discovered, to have murdered her if he didn't provide what they demanded. Or maybe even to have killed her anyway if he did, just because they felt like it." She doesn't say so directly, but the way in which she speaks, the expression it brings into her eyes, suggests she may have suffered such a loss at firsthand.

After speaking, she's moving to look into the doctor somewhat, hoping to find something which cites exactly what his SLC ability is and gain insight as to what they may have wanted from him. While doing so, a glance is directed the Frenchman's way, accompanied by a question.

"What else did Mr. Holden tell you about me?"

"Not much." In kind, Francois also picks through the newspapers, searching for the recent most articles related to the story. "But I got the impression in the ride to the train station that you two have a history." One is located reasonably easily, based off the time frame — the missing persons story itself, smaller than the drama of a corpse located, and holds no new information. All the same, he hands it off to Cat to memorise, at the same time he regards her with clear question in his eyes as to Holden.

"He murdered my lover," she supplies tersely without looking up from the text again, "after torturing her. So I still have issues with the man. I would like to exact revenge upon him." The article he passes over is read and committed to memory, then she moves on. A computer terminal is sought, one in which she can enter the doctor's name directly and seek information on him. Anything at all; biography, profession of the doctorate, location of his office, what his ability is.

"But I won't. He doesn't get to have that kind of power over my life, and for whatever reason someone who sees him as a father figure asked me to set vengeance aside. So I have."

"You won't need to worry about me letting issues between he and I get in the way of more important business."

Francois rises from his seat to wander towards where she attends to the computer, silent and somber at this news. A hand comes up to rub at his face, the back of his neck. "Merde. I am sorry, Catherine. I have been trying to understand Holden and failing, I'll admit, and now— well, it makes it all the more complicated. That is noble of you, however. To be able to set aside your misgivings. But bitter, I am sure."

"The person I spoke of, with whom I made that agreement, is one he sees as a daughter. She was captured by agents of DHS before he was, I suspect this truth is part of what causes him to be part of our team. Beyond his knowledge of the Vanguard… I surmise her situation is tied to his willingness to take part. But in fairness, he did turn against Kazimir Volken last January and help wreck his plot."

"It's a curiosity," Cat muses, "of mine why he would be part of an organization aimed at wiping out people with abilities beyond the human norm, yet come to see one of us in such a light. I have to suspect at some point in the past a person of supernormal talent did something he sees as a personal wrong, which was superimposed on all of us. It's probably a common tale among members of such groups, whether they're Vanguard, Humanis First, or any other faction."

As silence takes hold, Cat focuses on looking up Doctor Kozlow.

And Francois allows her to do said research, returning to his preferred hard copy newspapers that smear his fingers with ink. By the time he's gone through the archives without little success, and Cat has returned with just as much, the archived papers are neatly put away, and the two members of Team Charlie move back out of the library at a leisured pace, Francois adjusting a peacoat back around him, pale fingers slotting buttons back into place.

The hallway they find themselves is lined with doors, polished wood and brass handles that match the name plaques of professors fixed into the wood. Francois' eyes travel boredly over them as they move. "Holden," he says, rather suddenly into their silence, "told me that his father was like us. You, I mean. Evolved. And he told me he killed him. I am not sure how to think of such a person, although he would not be the first…"

And his voice trails off at exactly the time Francois abruptly stops walking, his attention snagged on a door — or specifically, what's written on it.

Cat doesn't comment on Ethan's claim of having slain his own father, whatever thoughts she has are kept to herself. Her voice returns only when he stops, she too eying the door which draws his attention, while she asks "Qu'est-ce que c'est?"

Two names written on the door, and the one Francois happens to be staring at— "Carlisle Dreyfus," Francois mutters aloud, and glances towards Cat. She receives no verbal response beyond the reading of his name, simply a slightly wide eyed look from the Frenchman before he casts a glance up and down the hallway. Taking a breath, he knocks on the door, very lightly, tension lining his shoulders and waiting for a response. As if ready to flee should he get one.

And he gets none. He sets a hand upon the doorhandle, testing— when it gives, he mutters, "Quickly," and, impulsive, he slips into the office with as much subtlety as he can muster.

She is behind him, moving with equal finesse, eyes searching ahead for anything of note which may lay inside. Cat doesn't know exactly what the name is tied to, but she's interested to find out.

The door is shut behind them both, to the small office that looks to belong to two professors. Francois ignores one side entirely after a quick glance around, heading for the desk. There is nothing among his books and papers that looks suspicious, text books reading titles about philosophy and modern languages, though Francois reaches a hand out towards a family portrait place beside the computer, of a man who appears older than Francois— appears, anyway, with his wife and child.

Stealing a breath, he casts an apologetic look towards Cat, words coming out hushed. "This was the man— this man was sent to kill me, in 1994. He was one of Kazimir's, here in Russia— forgive me, I will explain more, but you must believe me in this."

Over his shoulder, ignored by the Frenchman, is an ordinary map of the world, with pins stuck in various countries. A pattern emerges, after a second glance. Black pins stand out among the rest. One in Argentina. One in Madagascar, another in China. One in Russia.

Another in New York.

"Oh, I believe you, Monsieur," Cat replies simply as her eyes travel the interior. She eyes the photograph he indicates and draws out her iPhone. It's a quick thing, to use the camera function for catching an image of that portrait, then she returns to a general survey of the office itself and finds the map. Not a word is spoken, she instead steps toward the thing to get a clear view of exactly where in those countries pins are placed. It's only after she's been able to look at it well enough to spot any details which stand out that this exhibit too is photographed and the device tucked back into her pocket.

"I do not recommend we linger here more than is needed to discover things of note. An unlocked office suggests the occupant may soon return, and it would not be at all good for anyone tied to our quarry to have even the faintest hint of being found."

As Cat makes her quick pictures, Francois gently paws through whatever he finds— which is a lot of nothing, school papers and printed out emails. He doesn't even touch the computer, and simply points out other images for Cat to capture, such as that of a young man, fifteen or sixteen, perhaps a relation. "Oui," is his brisk agreement, after almost upending a cup of pens in his movements made slightly clumsy. He lifts said hands to take a moment to stop his own heart from pounding, before giving the desk another quick scan over.

Nothing more to do. Francois isn't even sure what he'd find, anyway. "Oui," he says again, nodding towards Cat, and as focused as he was before. "Let's go."

Images are captured of whatever Francois indicates as desirable to record, she in the process quietly pointing out the map to ensure he saw it and the pins in nations across it, before she makes her way to the door. "Hopefully nothing is disturbed in such a way as to indicate someone was here," she murmurs. At the door, on opening it, she does so with a cloth to avoid placing fingerprints on the surface and remove his from before. Her head sticks out a bit to survey the corridor and verify emptiness before emerging from the room altogether.

The map is glanced to, a scouring look cast over it before he only nods in mute acknowledgment. A few minor touches are made to make sure that things are at least vaguely the way they were left, before Francois is on Cat's heels, waiting for her to get a visual confirmation on the coast being clear before he steps out with her. The urge to get out get out get out doesn't end there, however - his features are pinched with worry as much as his movements are economical, panic sheared off into a more useful kind of prioritising of leaving before he can be seen.

It may have been fifteen years ago for Dreyfus, but it was less than a month ago from Francois. He grips Cat's elbow briefly to urge her along with him at a brisk pace just shy off jogging, releasing it once she complies, as they make their way from the university's warm buildings.

On the outside of the door, after closing it, the cloth is used once more. No fingerprints from Francois are left on it. She herself touched nothing inside, and Cat is confident nothing he touched will lead to them. It's only after they're clear of the building and in the open, with no ears around to hear, that she speaks again. "That was interesting, the map. We should perhaps seek to meet with that man at a time and place of our choosing, while not letting him contact anyone afterward, and ask him some very pointed questions. I'm also interested in speaking with Doctor Kozlow." The iPhone is used again, fingers pulling up the messaging feature, as she composes a quick one to Wireless.

Seeking information, complete background, on Carlisle Dreyfus, professor at the University in Ryazan. Subject known to one of our party, was sent to kill him once by Kazimir Volken. Has map in office with pins in various locations, photographs to follow.

The photos taken in that office are attached, then she presses send.

"We'll see what the others have to say," Francois agrees, clasping his hands together before rubbing his palms to warm them. A light snow is starting to fall, clinging to their darkly haired heads and forming minute, crystal droplets in their clothing. "I would volunteer myself to go, but I will leave that to all of you. I would not wish to compromise our secrecy, although perhaps if I were alone, it would distract them from the true enemy."

Which is the rest of them. "Fifteen years," he marvels. "The scars I bear resemble that of fifteen years also, thanks to my former ability." A beat, and then an acidic observation; "Dreyfus aged quickly."

"Perhaps he did," Cat muses, "or from your perspective seems to have. You may be getting a taste of how memory works for me. Things which happened seven years ago can be recalled, replayed, with as much clarity as if they were two minutes ago."

Having said that, Cat closes her eyes and pulls up imagery from the corridor they were in outside the office, then the interior of that place, and finally the computer to check whether or not there were cameras in view.

Cat's memory reels out in all its vividness in her mind's eye to offer a reassuring piece of information — she didn't see any cameras in her quick glances around the office or the hallway immediately from it. Francois watches this process from what he can see, which is a woman standing with her eyes closed on the pavement, although neither of them really gain a second glance. "Tell me," he asks, after a moment, "do you recall only what you see and hear, or do you recall also what you feel? Can you recollect such things?"

"No cameras, far as I could see," she reports on opening her eyes. A few steps later, his question is answered. "All senses add information to memory, and it's all kept. Perception in some form is all it takes. Like most things, it's a sword with two edges. Many things I'd rather not remember which will never fade. Sometimes the simplest of triggers can bring them out, make it as though I'm right back in that place."

Which would explain her behavior on reaching the minivan at the airport and seeing Ethan.

"The key to sanity is collecting new memories through staying busy as much as possible and forcing myself not to dwell on the negative more than needed."

"My method of sanity is to pen down things I wish to forget but cannot. But your way, I imagine you'd fill up like a brimming cup, n'est-ce pas?" Francois asks, his hands cupping together, palms curled, as if illustrating this idea. "But I suppose that is the nature of your gift. That you would never overflow. I pray you do not find a limit, however. Would you like to have a drink before we bring out tidings to the rest of them?"

The question is almost sudden - talk of cups overflowing, perhaps, moving him to make such a suggestion, or his brush with their recent discovery rattling nerves needing to be soothed.

"I like stout," Cat replies with a forming grin, "among other things. Wine, coffee, cola." Nearby there must be a place where the students go to take advantage of such libations. She doesn't let herself dwell upon limits and whether or not she might find one.

"Then we shall find stout, among other things," Francois agrees, picking up the pace once more as they head from the university in search of the nearest tavern. Fortunate timing, as the snow threatens to come down all the harder.

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