Civilized People


bennet_icon.gif cat_icon.gif sabra_icon.gif

With an appearance by…


Scene Title Civilized People
Synopsis Three people sit down at a table to share food and information almost as if they were old friends. Some of them are.
Date April 12, 2010

An upscale restaurant

Meeting Noah Bennet outside this upscale place, to discuss a matter of curiosity and speculation, Cat has come clad in a lawyer suit from Brooks Brothers, light gray in color, with pants. It's too, too cold for skirts. And boots grace her feet. Thankfully Helena and cadre managed to cease the snow, but that doesn't tend to what's already on the ground.

Pleasantries have been exchanged, and the bombshell dropped by he who wears glasses with horned rims. They're going to meet Sabra Dalton, a local director for the Company. It's given her pause, she won't pretend to suddenly have become a friend of that organization, but she elects to forge ahead. It was one of the Founders, after all, who'd dropped the name in question to Veronica and by doing so implied she should investigate.

"This should be interesting," Cat murmurs with her poker face settling in.

Asking after the Bennet party gets the two guests shown upstairs, to a small and cozy room set aside for just such private gatherings. The lights are comfortably dimmed, a level easy on the eyes while still illuminating clearly; the two small votive candles are mostly present for sake of decor and atmosphere. An elderly woman is seated at the table, her garb a simple but elegant charcoal suit-jacket with tan pants; a man some twenty years her junior — give or take half a decade — stands nearby, his pinstriped black suit equally neat and proper, hands clasped loosely before his waist.

Vividly blue eyes settle on them with their approach from the stairwell, the lines in Sabra's face deepening as she greets them with a genial smile. "Noah," the director begins, pleased warmth in the single word. She rises, before looking to Catherine. "Cat." Choosing to use first names, whether they will or no; such is the privilege of age. "A good evening to you both. You had no difficulty in travel, I trust?"

Ashton steps forward from his waiting position, politely drawing out a chair for the young lawyer. Noah seems to be on his own in that regard.

Noah can take care of pulling a chair out for himself, thankfully. Could have something to do with all that fine training the Company had invested in him, once upon a time. There's barely a discernible difference between the smile he gives Cat and the one he turns on the two agents sharing the private room with them. His eyes are harder to read by candlelight, privilege of those characteristic horn-rimmed glasses.

Yellow light refracts off the panes in twin accents of sharp, hot light. A suitable replacement for the windows into Mr. Bennet's soul, possibly. "A good evening to you too." As soon as the young lawyeress is seated with Ashton's assistance, he settles into his chair neatly, and draws his cloth napkin out of its origami fold and shakes it loose enough to splay on his lap below the level of the table. "Getting from point A to B's a more complicated matter than it was last week, but it was no trouble for me.

"I'd guess you have an agent or three looking into this?" Small talk, Company-Ferry-Phoenix style. Larking around classified subjects in classy restaurants.

"Good evening to you as well, Sabra," Cat replies genially. She settles into her pulled-out seat with the grace taught to her years before by Jennifer Chesterfield, part of training for the blueblood world. "Travel of late has its challenges, none of them insurmountable. Thank you for asking." She takes the napkin before her, neatly placing it in lap, and defers in conversation to Noah as he broaches a businesslike subject.

Ashton steps back from the chair once Cat is settled, returning to his earlier abeyant pose; as if he were a waiter in anticipation of their orders, except that a member of the restaurant's staff steps up with an obvious I can help you demeanor indicating he has claimed that role. "Would the ladies and gentleman care for something to drink?"

It isn't until after they've all placed requests for beverages and the waiter has departed to fill them that Sabra picks the thread of conversation back up. "We do," Sabra allows, inclining her head faintly. "Though we remain spread rather thinly. There are, as ever, a great many brushfires and a finite number of hands to draw upon. I imagine you are well-acquainted with the scenario yourselves." She already has a wine goblet before her place, half-filled with something red; the elderly lady pauses to take a sip from the glass.

Lacking various luxuries that Ms. Dalton's position gives her, Noah doesn't drink on the job. His cup has nothing in it but water, presumably, and he drinks from it without apparently being perturbed by the small cuboid pieces of ice afloat in its transparent meniscus. His order had been pasta, combined with some variety of meat and vegetable, cream sauce, with sun-dried tomatoes, little doubt a pragmatic tack to the weather. High carbs, heat conservation.

He's just a little late in taking the wool of his outer-coat down its buttons, leaving it splayed out on the chair back behind him. If he's armed— and of course he's armed— it isn't outwardly visible underneath the clean gray of his suit. "We are," he answers. He flits a brief glance up at the doors, long since shut behind the waiters' retreat. "Actually, we've appreciated your assistance, with the forewarnings."

If she's armed, it likewise is well-concealed. Cat's request in terms of food is for ribeye steak with baked potato and mushrooms or whatever gourmet variety of the same this venue proffers. For liquid fare, she opts for a red wine. Eyes move between one and the other at table as they speak, the brain behind them duly recording it all without seeming to. She isn't, at the moment, certain if director and former agent are speaking of the Institute, or other matters. To further establish her bearings in that regard, silence is retained.

The older woman inclines her head once more, acknowledging Noah's expressed gratitude. "It was," she replies simply, "the least we could do." Cordial and pleasant her tone remains; warm, even. It seems sincere. The wineglass is returned to its place, and Sabra looks to Cat as her hands fold on the table's edge. "I wouldn't wish to exclude you from the conversation," she remarks. "In fact, I'm given to understand that this meeting is ultimately at your request."

An opening if there ever was one.

"The situation is intriguing, and quite probably dire," Cat replies in grasping the opportunity. It matters not that she's still asssesing just what they spoke of, she can maybe sound that out while also advancing her own agenda. "A person I met on recent foreign efforts told me she'd been contacted, it being suggested she look at the possible locations of some scientists, two of whom passed into Federal custody at the conclusion of those efforts. That person met with Mr. Bishop, and was told the group of them together would make for a particularly terrifying coven. A place called Coyote Sands was mentioned during that conversation, but Mr. Bishop didn't elaborate. The source believes it was an encouragement, without encouragement, to look into that place." Eyes regard Sabra's face as she speaks, her tone calm with just a hint of intrigue.

"I asked Noah about the place, and the result is this meeting."

Noah tucks his mouth into a smile, thins his eyes behind the lenses of his glasses. The expression somewhat lacks for cavorting cherubs of mirth, but it's a kind of sincerity that's in line with what Sabra's wearing. Wonderful. The forewarnings. Never mind how many of the sick have been accosted, and how many others scared out of their wits by having their doors booted down by fascists in uniforms. That aside. "I did some research of my own while I was in the Company, but I'm afraid I lacked the time and resources to learn as much as I would've liked to.

"I know that that the facility's operations were before my time— and more importantly, before the Company's time. I know that Dr. Chandra Suresh was involved with it. Why Mr. Bishop encouraged this line of questioning is beyond me." And possibly the subject of great interest for Sabra? Noah folds his fingers on the tablecloth and watches the woman for even the most infinitessimal quirks of surprise. Or else, displeasure.

One silvered eyebrow quirks at Cat's pronouncement. "Dire?" she echoes, with a faint hint of amusement in the curve of her lips. "Dear me. There's no call for melodrama quite yet." Gentle amusement, amiable in its delivery; fading in short order, as the conversation turns to the heart of the matter. "Coyote Sands," she echoes musingly. Sabra Dalton rests her elbows on the edge of the table, folding her hands across one another and propping her chin against their wrinkled backs. "How history repeats."

She doesn't elaborate, not at first. Not for a few measurable moments, as those bright blue eyes gaze into the distance of their quiet, private dining room. "Coyote Sands," the woman finally continues, "indeed predates the Company." Straightening, she lowers her hands to rest loosely clasped in her lap, looking first to Noah, then to Cat. "You could say it is the place where the Company started, under the aegis of Chandra Suresh's drive to understand." Sabra's lips thin, her genial expression becoming something more somber. "It is a little-known chapter of Evolved history, and I will warn you, Catherine: like so many others, it does not have a happy ending."

"Pieces do seem to link together," Cat muses, "in that we have an institute formerly owned and currently staffed by Mohinder Suresh sold two years ago to the DoD, the scientists of interest possibly in the institute's hands, possible links to the less troublesome strain of Shanti virus, and Coyote Sands where Mohinder's father operated." She pauses here, somberly looking from Sabra to Noah and back again.

"Many stories lack happy endings, but given the topic's been raised it seems this one is still being written. Or," she muses with her head tilting, "a sequel is being crafted."

Sabra regards Cat for a long moment, expression inscrutable as she considers the young woman. Presumably her remarks also, but the elderly lady's visage gives away little — and her eventual reply, even less. "I can tell you things," she continues, "names: Shaw and Deveaux, Linderman and Bishop, Suresh and Zimmerman. The intent of Coyote Sands was not ill, and indeed, the research was conducted quite scrupulously. But they are nonetheless dead, the subjects of that research; you could likely count on two hands the number who survived."

Calmly, unruffled by the subject of conversation, Sabra takes a sip of her wine. "Perhaps you would care to visit it yourself," the Company director adds, as she lowers the glass to the table, looking between Cat and Noah. "Experience, after all, is far more powerful than any words." Blue eyes flick to Ashton, fingers of one hand flowing through a motion they're well accustomed to; shaping the contours of a familiar sign. Her aide steps forward, laying an unmarked folder on the table, equidistant between the Ferry representatives.

The folder is slid over to her seat slowly, eyes resting upon it, and opened. Cat's features remain neutral as she commences to look at the contents. Not read, in the way one might normally seem to read, but just to look at. Page by page, until she's scanned each of them, then she slides it over toward Noah. "I've never been to Arizona," Cat remarks in a tone which suggests she may believe the time has come to do so.

Now she begins to read, calling imagery of the documents into her mind's eye to review and process information. Project Icarus, address location and GPS coordinates, Suresh and Zimmerman, the Shaws and their abilities, Deveaux, Bishop, Linderman… Doctor Chesterfield turns her attention away from running the information through her mind, there are some questions to ask of Noah later when Sabra isn't present.

"Thank you, Sabra," she offers sincerely, "it's quite enlightening. Doctor Zimmerman surfaces in the most interesting places. I was told he left Pinehearst not long before the raid there, just slipped away, and what became of Doctor Alison Meier is unknown. Zimmerman, reportedly, was one of those who felt Arthur had gone mad but were unable to just leave due to Arthur's expanding power set. One of which he stole just before throwing me out a window and setting the Hartford house on fire. I suspect, if he's involved with the Institute, they may have something coercive on him."

"You're bound to see a few unpleasantly familiar faces in that circle," Noah nods at Cat. "There are only so many experts in the field who have the ethical flexibility, blackmail vulnerability, and personal passion to wind up with the Institute, Pinehearst, or other research programs like those." He can probably guess that Catherine has other questions, but he's content as a crocodile in shallow water to wait until those skim by on silver fins. Even among his closer associates, Noah subscribes to reptilian metaphors.

"I did wonder how the Company started." The man turns his eyes toward Sabra now, smiles as evenly as if it had been stencilled on his face. It is possible he's lying, to a point. He makes it sound like it was mere intellectual curiosity, when doubtless, he'dve had an angle at the time or openly receptive to the probability he would develop one eventually. "Interesting: that doesn't explain how they roped you in, Ms. Dalton. But that probably isn't conversational fare for a business dinner."

Haw haw. Joke.

"What do we owe you for this pleasure and the help you've given us so far?" The door to the room is beginning to lilt open, no doubt before some waitstaff or other. He makes his elaboration quick, in words a little too casual to match the sentiment underneath. "This is an interesting friendship we seem to be cultivating. All these gifts." A gesture that encompasses nice restaurant, warnings (however general and incomprehensive) about Homeland Security—

"Come, now, Noah," the elderly woman chides, blue eyes twinkling with her smile. "One never owes for gifts. That would be terribly rude." Clasping wrinkled fingers loosely around the stem of her wine goblet, Sabra shakes her head. "Downright barbaric. This is a civilized place, wouldn't you agree? And we are civilized people."

That smile says nothing about how she joined the Company, and leaves no openings for such inquiries. "I do believe dinner is served. Shall we eat?"

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