Clandestine, For Now


ling_icon.gif melissa_icon.gif

Scene Title Clandestine, For Now
Synopsis Ling turns to Melissa with the information recently gained from Richard Cardinal
Date September 17, 2010

Little Green House

The house tonight is quiet, most of the rooms dark. Downstairs there's only a lamp on in the living room, and though Melissa is sitting on the couch, the TV is off, no movie playing. She has her brow furrowed lightly as she thumbs through a book, not seeming to be enjoying it very much. Though, from the way she's flipping through pages, it doesn't look like she's actually reading it. Perhaps she just can't focus on it right now.

There is absolutely no leading indication, or sound that heralds the sudden repeated tap on the back door tot eh Little Green House as Ling Chao, dressed in an outfit suitable for a business meeting, knocks until she has Melissa’s attention drawn to her. As soon as she does, the door is cracked open. “Care to join me for a cigarette?” she asks, quietly – already a kind of odd question from the Chinese woman, not known for inviting others to smoke with her. Perhaps, then, it only accentuates the oddity when she very carefully mouths “no phones”.

Glancing over at the sound, Melissa nods at the question. The two silent words have her brows lifting, but she nods, setting her book aside, and leaving both her phones on the coffee table before heading over to the door and outside. She shuts the door quietly behind her before looking at Ling in concern. "What's wrong? You okay?"

With Melissa’s nod, the door s closed and Ling proceeds walking a bit further out into the backyard of the Little Green house, waiting for her friend to follow after her. “Perhaps,” she remarks obliquely at Melissa’s question, before taking a few steps further into the yard. “If you don’t mind, I prefer to be out of the way of prying ears. “ Or more specifically Rebel.

Ling is followed, and mention of prying ears has Mel glancing back to the house. "Ahh. Yeah, I've done that a time or two myself," she says before looking back to Ling. "I gather this is Messiah business then, since we don't want Rebel hearing?" she asks, head tilting.

Once Melissa is on her heels, Ling stops and does a half turn back to Melissa, her neck craning the rest of the way to face her. The Chinese woman gives a short not, before looking on ahead. “Tell me, Melissa. What do you think of Rupert Carmichael.” A pause. “And more importantly, what do you think of Richard Cardinal?”

Shoulders go stiff at the mention of Rupert. "Though Peter says he trusts Rupert, I don't. I think he's a weak, cowardly bastard with intentions for Messiah different from Peter's. Or mine. Did you know that he wanted us to target Registration Centers?" She shakes her head, looking disgusted. "Even if I hadn't nearly been blown up in a Humanis First attack on one, I would've fought that one. As for Richard, I've only spoken to him once or twice, why?"

“I have a potential job offer from him. I met him at the… triage centre, back last month.” Which is mostly true, but not entirely Ling’s reason for asking. She’ll save that for later. She clucks her tongue at the mention of registration centres, shaking her head. “Perhaps, Melissa, you should an interesting piece of information I came across today.” Smoke drifts up from Ling fingers as she holds her hands up, before finally withdrawing the promised cigarettes, one offered over to Melissa. “Did you know Rupert is apparently a confidant of Vice President Mitchell?”

That news has Melissa staring for a moment, before she frowns. "Before I comment on my opinion of that, I'd have to ask where you got the information. Actually, no. Full honesty here. While I don't trust Rupert, I also don't trust anonymous sources. And there are people out there who would love to bring down Messiah."

She takes a cigarette, lighting it up and exhaling as she ponders this news. "Though I would think that if they were going to do that, and had information on who's in Messiah, that they'd do a better job incriminating Peter. I mean hell, he's the president's brother. There are plenty of reasons for someone who doesn't know him to distrust him." She shakes her head. "Still, despite the fact that I don't disbelieve this news, I'd like to know who told you this."

Ling’s eyes close, and she grimaces. “I only tell you because I know I can trust you not to pass this on, Melissa. Not yet.” She turns to face her fully, lighting a cigarette of her own. “I had promised I would leave him as far removed from this as possible, but I met with Richard Cardinal this afternoon, with… someone else from our ranks.” Huruma, at least, can go unnamed for now. “He paints a rather… interesting picture, even if painted with a source held close to his chest and circumstantial evidence.”

"So what you're saying…is Richard got a couple members of Messiah, told a nice little story, but didn't give any real evidence and didn't name his source so any of this could be verified?" Melissa says flatly. She sighs and rakes her empty hand through her hair, taking a few steps further from the house and looking over the moonlight reflecting over the nearby harbor.

"You know, Ling…I'm really getting to hate all this cloak and dagger bullshit. It makes everything so fucking complicated. Rupert can't tell us everything because he claims it puts Messiah in jeopardy. Richard won't name his source for whatever reason. And then I find out that someone I invited into my home is fucking Interpol." She shakes her head. "This is all bullshit, and I'm sick of it."

She glances back at Ling. "What do you mean though, not passing this on yet? You mean you don't want me to tell Peter? Don't you think he should know? He, of all of us, is in a position to find out. Well, unless we happen to get a telepath to probe about in Rupert's brain, anyway. More, as leader, he's the one who can kick Rupert out."

Ling furrows her brow at Melissa, for a moment wondering if she’s made a mistake – but at this point, it would likely be worse if she just said “nevermind”. “Personally, if what I was told is true, I would prefer to be out with it myself, Melissa. But if you’ll hear me out, you might understand why that’s a bad idea. If not… we finish our cigarettes, and go back inside. And I trust you not to repeat any of this.”

Sighing, Melissa turns back towards Ling. "I didn't necessarily say it was a good or bad idea. I just stated the obvious reasons why it would be logical to tell Peter. Besides, it's not like I'm going to do anything tonight in any case, and wouldn't even if I wanted to. So yeah, I'll hear you out, Ling. It's the least I can do, and I trust you."

Ling’s arms cross as she eyes Melissa for a second. “Perhaps you’ve been talking to folks already, given the Interpol agent?” She doesn’t sound accusing, rather curious. Perhaps there’s more going on than she’s aware of even at the Little Green House. With this, Ling begins to pace, smoke trailing behind her as she walks back and forth, trailing behind her hands as she makes motions with her words. “If word is to be believed, we can’t talk to Peter because he’s been in on it. Worked over with Rupert’s ability some time ago, before this all started.”

"No, I didn't kn—" Melissa stops short as the rest of what Ling says sinks in. "I…that's not possible. Rupert lost his ability," she argues, shaking her head, even as she frowns. After all, he was the one who told her he lost his ability. "No, I don't think Peter is in on it. Ling, not long after the hospital raid…Just a few days…he pulled me aside. He wanted to talk to me about Rupert's plans, because he thought they were too extreme, and wanted to make sure he wasn't just…I don't know…being a pussy or something. That was the Registration Center thing. He didn't agree with Rupert either on that score."

Ling takes a deep breath, eyeing Melissa. “To be blunt, I was told that Messiah is not working for itself.” She lets that sit for a moment, ceasing her pausing while she speaks. “We are… Mitchell’s pet project, at Rupert’s hand, tools of Humanis First and the Institute.” She resumes her pacing, hands folding behind her back as she walks. “It’s why Rupert’s plans are so perfect. Why he has me killing a highly public figure. Why everything we hit is so empty.” She lets out an amused chuckle. “If this is true – and I am not saying with certainty that it is – then Rupert is leading us straight towards a future that will have me murdered on in a hallway.”

"It makes no sense though!" Melissa protests, though it seems half-hearted. "If we were working for Humanis First and the Institute, then why have we been hitting targets like the hospital? Or the plant that made the tracking guns? Hell, Biodynamics? The tests? That was my idea. I suggested it to Peter!"

There's a long pause. "I suggested it as an alternative to Registration Centers. A more acceptable target. And one more in line with our previous targets. But all they did was get the government on us. Someone was taking credit for all the explosions. Someone for Messiah. And now we've got my uncle and all his thugs after us," she murmurs softly.

Apparently, the hospital was already lost,” Ling remarks, staring carefully at Melissa. “I saw Bao-Wei Cong and the lower reaches of that building myself. And you/ saw Gregor. The Institute was no longer in control of that building. We, it seems, were their cleaning crew.” Steepled fingers are placed under her chin, Ling sighing. “Circumstantial evidence. But I do believe it makes some amount of sense if you look over all of Messiah’s operations. How empty they are. How //eager we are to take credit. We are potentially giving the government the exact backing and funding they need to put us in tubes.”

Ling falls silent for a moment, and then shrugs. “I am not saying I have fallen hook line and sinker for such a thing. It is sudden, and it brazen. However, looking over what I’ve seen since I have joined Messiah, I do not discount the possibility that we have all been lied to at all.”

"I've never liked it that the government was always told we were responsible," Melissa admits slowly. "Never bought Rupert's give them someone to be afraid of thing." She falls silent as well, puffing away on her cigarette. "The odd thing? I was going to talk to Peter about Rupert before all this. Find out why we need him. I mean, he claims he lost his ability, which makes him the only non-evolved I've seen in Messiah. We don't recruit the non-evolved, so it's made no sense to me."

She looks back to Ling, her head tilting. "We need to figure out a way to verify this. Rupert's connection to the vice-president. Peter's potential…" A hand is waved about as Mel searches for the right term, "psychic working over. The latter we'll need a telepath for, and I only know of one. And she and I…not exactly on good terms." There's a pause, a frown. "A telepath could also help with Rupert. Or maybe I could see if Mama Petrelli could find out. Talk to the president or something. Or hell, maybe there's something on the 'net for all we know. The Ferry has a technopath. Maybe she could be convinced to help."

“I agree,” Ling replies succinctly, giving a bit of a shallow nod. “However, as much as I know you said you hate cloak and dagger, we must not be overt about this. We must avoid tipping off Peter, Rupert, or Rebel, at least for now. As Richard said, we must build a conspiracy to counter Rupert’s conspiracy. Otherwise… we risk putting ourselves in great danger. Or having someone just up and kill Rupert, which… apparently would be a disaster.” Ling scoffs, loudly. “Personally, I don’t see the problem with offing him, quietly one night.”

"As much as I don't trust Rupert, I don't trust Richard either," Melissa says with a frown. "You said he offered you a job. Trying to recruit you to his group? I'd be careful there. But either way, you're right about us being quiet about all this. Which means the fewer that know, the better."

She grimaces as she remembers their newest roommate, then slowly smiles. "Edgar. While he's new to Messiah, he could come in handy with trying to figure this whole mess out. He can go into places, be in and out before anyone knows he's been there."

“While I am… less suspicious of him than Rupert, Melissa, I am not one to fall into bed with others without good reason.” Ling grimaces a bit. “He has mentioned the possibility of work. I… was under the impression he meant legitimate work, for the company on the business card he gave me several weeks back. I am hoping so, at least. While I do not mind being around… I miss work. I feel cooped up here sometimes. And unfortunately, it is no longer for me to get a job just anywhere.”

A sympathetic look crosses Melissa's face as she rests a hand on Ling's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Ling. I hadn't thought…A job would be good. Get you out and about. I'd offer you a job at Tartarus, but I don't see you delivering booze to drunken goths," she says with a faint smile. "As for the other…Give me a few days, and we'll talk again. See what our best course of action is, hmm?"

“I will never be a waitress in a club again. Rapture was enough.” Ling visibly cringles as she remember her work at the Linderman club. “Though I imagine you’re better t’ work for that Zarek. If you ever need a business manager, however, I might be willing to come to your club.” Ling cracks her fingers, pacing up to and past Melissa. “Remember, Melissa. Be careful. Clandestine, for now. We’ll see how things look soon.”

Business manager? Melissa smiles. "I could always use someone to take part of the load off my shoulders, actually." The the smile fades and she nods. "Still supposed to talk to Peter soon, but I'll be discreet and not mention this. Consider what I said about Edgar too. And if you come across any telepaths that we can trust…"

Ling snickers. “Perhaps, then, I will come by one evening, if you don’t think it is too much of a risk.” As Ling passes by Melissa, she pauses. “Remember, Melissa. Do not be alone with Rupert, in case his ability has returned.” Her walk resumes, cigarette butt flicked off into the yard somewhere.

That warning has Melissa going pale. "Ling? I was alone with him at the barbeque. I took him into an empty room to yell at him for showing up. Was in there a minute or two with just him until Daphne showed up. And I went to his house once, just after I joined Messiah. Aside from a servant bringing in drinks, it was just us," she says softly.

Ling stops dead, turning back and peering at Melissa, eyes narrowed. “You say a telepath can tell?” she inquires just audibly enough for Melissa to hear. “Speak to her, if she’ll hear it. It was advised to me that I avoid being alone with Rupert.”

"I don't know for sure, but if telepaths can read thoughts, it would make sense that they could get something, doesn't it?" Melissa asks, looking worried. "Dammit. The only one I know is Kaylee and she…Peter…Shit. I'll have to do it. Tomorrow, if I can. You should come too. Just in case. Better to know for certain for both of us."

Ling wrinkles her nose as she steps back towards Melissa. “Are you sure you can trust her?” Ling asks with a deliberate manner to her words. “As far as I can remember, I have yet to be alone with Rupert. However, I suppose it is wise to be sure. Let me know when, and I will be ready.”

"I'm not. But she's the only telepath I know," Melissa admits. "Though I do know someone who has a dreaming ability. Damn, but she got arrested a week or so ago. I'll figure something out, and let you know. And if it works, then I think we should get the other members of Messiah checked, one at a time."

“If it’s necessary. That… may be too much of a risk, I’m afraid.” Ling shakes her head, sighing. “Even one at a time, the more go, the more talk about it. The more it becomes knowledge shared among others, even if unintentionally. Perhaps, though, she could be convinced to see Peter.”

Though she's still pale, Melissa stiffens at that suggestion. She grimaces faintly, then reluctantly nods. "It might not be a bad idea," she grumbles. "Though I'm not sure she would. They were…involved…for a while," she says, a touch of bitterness entering her tone.

“I see.” Ling grimaces, only for a moment, before a half smile forms. “Perhaps, then, that can be used to urge her to cooperate, if it comes to that.” Now, that sounds like the typically callous Ling, the woman turning to continue her walk towards the building. “Keep me in the loop, Melissa. But please… be careful.”

"Depends on how forcefully he shoved her out the door," Melissa mutters softly. Then she nods. "I will. And you do the same. And keep your fingers crossed. We're gonna need all the luck we can get."

“If we do this right, Melissa, luck will be irrelevant.” Ling stops just outside of earshot of the building, hands behind her back. “If we do this right.”

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