cat_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Conditionally
Synopsis Raith is gotten to agree to something, with reservations, among other topics.
Date June 5, 2010

The Verb, Cat's Penthouse

Arriving by any of four elevators, visitors will find they open into three foot corridors facing wide double doors made from sturdy southern pine which swing outward and have the strongest locks available. The stairs lead to single doors, also outward opening, at the end of three foot corridors. Entry requires both a key and a keycard; other security measures are a video camera and voice communication terminal at all doors. The 4th Street side has floor to ceiling windows interrupted only by the access points. Cream colored curtains are normally kept closed.

This level has enough space for sixteen apartments. There is an office space with reception area, conference room, and executive office; a room for archery practice and other forms of physical exercise; a very well appointed kitchen and dining area; a music zone with an array of instruments, electronics, and amplifiers; an entertainment area with an HD set covering an entire stretch of wall from floor to ceiling; a locked room where security footage for the building is recorded and can be monitored; a laundry room; a staircase for roof access; central air and heating; the main bedroom and a few smaller guest rooms; plush deep wine carpet everywhere except the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms; and track lighting everywhere overhead. The light levels can be lowered or raised in the entire place, or selectively by segments. The overall decor suggests the occupant is a woman.

Four days into the month of June, the fifth having started eleven hours earlier, Cat's standing near a set of open double doors, waiting for two things. The first of these is a delivery of food from Piccoli's Delicatessen, being brought by a courier from Alley Cat's Chelsea branch, where only a few have any idea Cat owns the place.

The other is a young Englishwoman of the pardoned kind, who has also gained citizenship. The courier is on the way up, she saw him arrive on cameras and was told by the front desk. The guest might not be far behind. It's her plan to play hostess in the entertainment room.

The guest isn't far behind the food, and that is, in fact, the order they arrive in. First, the eatables, and next, the greetables. Eileen Spurling is two things tonight. One is on time. The other is not alone. Arriving with her, and standing next to her when they appear just behind the courier, is Jensen Raith, his hand still in a brace but almost certainly just about healed. How exactly this works, the ex-spy leaves up to his companion. For all the combat they've seen together, Raith's acquaintancey with Catherine Chesterfield is still minimal. For all he knows, she's expecting them to come swinging in through the window like Tarzan and Jane. Hopefully, she's not.

Because Eileen isn't fit to be swinging anywhere.

A fine dusting of rouge applied to her cheeks gives her face a healthy flush contradicted by dark circles under dim eyes and a quiet kind of lassitude that dulls the sharpness of her gaze and the acuity with which she usually wields it. She and the other woman are both pragmatic enough that she can afford to eschew a formal greeting without needing to worry about hurt feelings. As she enters the penthouse, not for the first time, she removes the handkerchief she'd been holding against her mouth with one gloved hand and tucks it into her coat pocket, saying nothing at first. Stubborn refusal to acknowledge the fact that she's still catching her breath from having taken the stairs, which isn't unusual in itself. Her asthma is a pre-existing medical condition and, at least for the man at her side, no immediate cause for concern.

The courier is dealt with first, by the expedient of Cat moving toward the entertainment room and expecting him to follow. "Eileen, Jensen," she offers with a nod to those who come after, "I'm set up over here. The small refrigerator has cola, juice, and beer. There's also coffee and tea." Earl Grey at that, for those with fairly British tastes. Unmentioned is the presence of wine bottles. "Thanks for coming." Surprise at Raith's presence is concealed.

Inside the entertainment room, she directs the courier to set the food out on a coffee table and tips him generously, whereupon he departs.

If there is anything to be said about the gaggle of Ferrymen gathered in Cat's penthouse, it may be that there is not a 'crude American' among them. Raith nods his greeting back to Cat, enters and follows to where he is directed, and waits until the courier has left before doing anything else. First his coat comes off- not the fur-lined one designed for arctic weather, but rather, his more usual, and casual long coat- and is folded and placed on the back of the chair. No surprise that he's come armed, both with a sleek Glock and the much mightier Wilby. After the most recent mess with Messiah, he can hardly be faulted for being 'prepared.' But even those come off, shoulder and belt holsters draped atop his coat. "Funny how those always seem heavier strapped to your waist than when you're holding them," he remarks.

Finally, the former spy takes a seat and relaxes a bit. "But who cares about that? Thanks for having us."

"I tend to favor the .40 with silencers," Cat replies after she's escorted the courier out and secured the doors, "with the M16 for rifle needs." Not that either are much good when one is faced with and punched by a man of iron. Items from the bags are set out, placed for the taking by her visitors should they find item or items to their liking. None of the offerings is taken by Cat, she leaving them first choice.

Business is entered into with a terse comment. "New York is so much nicer with spring on the way."

Thinly sliced pastrami and corned beef with Swiss cheese and kraut on rye bread, cold cuts of Genoa salami, sopressata and capicola, pasta salad smothered in pesto with fat chunks of mozzarella and cherry tomatoes—

If the Remnant ever eats this well, it isn't on a regular basis. Eileen's gratitude, like so much else, goes unvoiced and is conveyed with a simple look instead as she takes a seat on the sofa, surveying the meat and a small box of eggplant parmigiana cut in two with the flat side of a plastic fork but does not yet move to make a selection, if she intends to make a selection at all. Her appetite might not be any better than her sallow complexion. "I don't think we'll be having one." Spring.

Raith's shrug is his way of voicing agreement. "If we do, it'll last for a few days at most and then swing right into summer," he says. It's a moment later than he ceases to sit down and stands up. "What'll you ladies have to drink?" Maybe he doubts that this is a purely social get-together, but even if it's pure business, that's no reason to be impolite. Especially since it's been months since he's had a meal that consisted of more than rice or beans (or rice and beans), cured meat, and some hard bread if he was really lucky. Times have been tough for the Remnant.

"I've a taste for stout," Cat furnishes. Guinness naturally. "And yes, this is true. Short spring, if at all. Unfortunate that unexpected visitors nearly ruined the activity at hand that day. I still don't quite know how they found us." As the visitors have yet to choose food for themselves, she continues to eschew the same.

"The technopath who sent them was once, and hopefully will again be, a valued ally. As was Allen Rickham. It would be a good thing if we were to acquire what they want and provide it, without them acquiring Liette."

"Coffee," Eileen says to Raith, relaxed but straight in her seat, back flush with the cushions. Rather than remove her coat as her companion has, she unfastens the topmost buttons and loosens the scarf at her throat, exposing a pale sliver of bare neck beneath, no other jewelry to accompany the faux pearl earrings winking at her lobes or the silver chain hanging out of her coat's interior pocket, briefly visible as she tugs off her gloves and — like her handkerchief — deposits them out of sight.

"We don't know what it is they want. If it was information, Rickham could have asked. It's not as though he doesn't have a relationship with you and Helena." Eileen uses her knife, produced from another pocket, to sliver off a bite-sized piece of hard cheese — the label reads asiago — and wraps a paper thin slice of salami around it with slim, dexterous fingers. "We're lucky no one was killed."

"Lucky they didn't get Liette." It's not exactly an afterthought that Raith adds as he moves off to pour Eileen a cup of hot coffee. Fortunate that Cat thought to brew it ahead of time. Popping the small fridge opened, two bottles of Guinness come out. Darker beer than Raith would care for, but not too dark, either. "Liette being, coincidentally, what they want. Iron man wasn't playing around when he was tossing me around, you know. Lucky I didn't break my arm again." One coffee onto the, well, the coffee table, two bottles of stout beer, and….

"Opener?" Raith asks, "Looks like this is as far as all that luck we've been having gets us."

The opener is in easy view atop the small refrigerator, which Cat indicates in a paucity of words. "By your left hand." And she's returning to discussion of business. "It's true we don't know exactly what they want, the reason they seek to grab her. I do know that in my last contact with Rebel, some months ago, they said she has crucial information about the Institute. Can't verify that's the only reason they want her, and that they choose to make attempts to take her away is worrisome. Rickham's state of mind I also don't know. He and I haven't spoken since before Mother's campaign began. They had become close, but he'd not been around at all after the assassination." She exhales a slow breath.

"I think it's safe to say her knowledge about the Institute is part of what they want, and is also very valuable to us. We need to learn all she knows. As to Rebel, again, in dealing with the Institute we'll need all the allies we can find. Had Doctor Brennan not been present, I might've been able to spend more time working with her and coax things out. Have any attempts been made to learn from your daughter, Jensen?"

Eileen washes the cheese and salami down with a mouthful of hot coffee, heedless of its temperature. Spring or no spring, the weather outside is still uncomfortably cold, and it's a long trip from Staten Island to Greenwich Village. She warms her hands against the porcelain, lips resting on the rim, and watches the pair from behind a veil of steam as she drinks.

"No, no attempts have been made," Raith says with a half-snarl. With his left hand, he snatches the bottle opener from atop the fridge and returns to the coffee table. "I've been a little busy lately, between the weather, and managing Remnant affairs, and keeping my home from collapsing. One building falling on me is enough, thanks very much." With a bit more aggression than is really necessary, Raith pulls the cap off of each of the bottles of Guinness. "Not to mention spending time making sure that there aren't information leaks that might causing a giant man made of steel to fall through another ceiling. Understandably, my schedule has been tight."

She is stoic in the face of his half-snarl, not seeming fazed by it. "I understand that," Cat provides quietly, "it's not a criticism. But the time is present to do so. I would hope she can be coaxed to provide in full detail, Jensen, and am volunteering to make the attempt." Here she pauses, mentally lamenting the fact of not having this conversation privately with Eileen first so she can sound her out on his receptiveness to such things before raising them with him, but it is what it is. A choice is made to bite the bullet.

"If coaxing doesn't work, we could employ gentle yet unfortunate means to change that."

When Eileen removes her mouth from the cup, the next thing to go is the smudge of lipstick, which she sweeps away under her thumb. "Sharing information with Rebel shouldn't be a problem," she concedes, finally, "but I'm concerned about what's going to happen if he insists on fighting this thing by making a spectacle of himself. The only ground Helena's managed to gain that way is extra publicity, and that's not much help when the government controls the media. They raid one of our safehouses and suddenly we're indiscriminately murdering CDC employees.

"The louder Rebel gets, the more pressure he puts on the men in charge, and it's only a matter of time before they start making moves to silence the lot of us. Even those with quiet voices like the Ferry."

"Ever wonder why the Democratic People's Republic of Korea continues to have the government that it does?" Raith asks on the tail-end of Eileen's statement, "Control. The government controls the media. No messages get out. And if one does get out, it has no power. We're in the same boat, see?" The food won't eat itself, and Raith makes the point that it won't go to waste by heading for that eggplant parmigiana, taking just a little bit for himself that he carves out with a plastic fork of his own. Just a bite.

"The government controls the media, because the government controls media access. They play ball, they keep their share holders happy, and anyone who actually has something worthwhile to say gets screwed. Anyone who with evidence that the government is screwing the public is never heard from again. And anyone who still says we live in an open, democratic society is either an idiot, or a liar." But that's all the speaking for now. A forkful of parmigiana quickly occupies Raith's mouth, giving Cat the chance to retort.

"I would dispute that," Cat provides, "in part. The government don't control the media. The press will report honest stories critical of them. They will tell the truth. The problem is instead getting that truth to the press. Yes, it's true a safehouse raid gets reported as unprovoked murder of CDC workers; not because of collusion with the Feds, but because the Feds control the proof. They have the bodies and the ability to make documents supporting their story." With Raith having commenced to take food, she picks up the stout bottle and a sandwich for herself, holding them at ready while still speaking.

"We won't take down an outfit like the Institute by direct force of arms. We could at best strike an installation or three. The only way is to dig out all their secrets and air them with concrete proof. That may be possible, with the help of Rebel, but…" She pauses to drink briefly.

"We first encountered Rebel a year ago. They brought us Benjamin Washington, called Knox, and Allen Rickham. They also said an earthmover named Sparrow would be needed. What for, I don't know… I once thought it was to counter Norman White. In any case, I believe I can still reach her should that time come. Rebel also said a war was coming, advising to gather people who'd do the right thing and take steps to survive. Rebel then, and Rebel now, aren't the same. They were two technopaths, now they're three, and the recent changes in methods I believe come from the third. Threatening families, attacking allies, that's the influence of a Chinese Vanguardite they absorbed while rescuing Wireless. I have to wonder if their goal is to spark that war they saw coming, and if so the original advice applies. Duck, and survive."

"If that were true, then people would have believed Phoenix when Helena came forward about Moab Federal Penitentiary," Eileen says. "The truth means absolutely nothing unless the public is prepared to believe it, and they're not. Add to that the damage groups like PARIAH have already done and Rebel's right. A war is coming, but he's also trying to start it early without any regard for whether or not our network is ready."

She traces her thumb along the curve of her cup and rubs the faded lipstick between her fingers. "I've spoken with Noah and Scott about the steps the Ferry needs to take next. Central organization. Establishing formal leadership. I'm putting together a council that represents different points of view within the network so we can make decisions and run things with more efficiency than we do now.

"If it clears, I'd like you to be on it."

"Formal leadership is what we need right now. If everyone has an equal vote on every issue, then nothing will get decided, nothing will get done, and people are going to die." It might be worth noting that there is, unmistakably, a chance in the way that Raith is speaking when discussing the Ferrymen. In the past, it was always 'you.' Now, it's 'us.' Whether it was the mess with Liette, the long winter, or something else, Raith's viewpoint has apparently changed, and Ferry problems are now considered Remnant problems, too. Or, at the very least, they're his problems, too.

"Where does the island Leonardo Maxwell told me he bought for you fit in, if anywhere, Eileen? We do need structure, and a solid decision making apparatus. Being democratic has its value, its time and place. I posit that central leadership doesn't invalidate democracy. It remains in people choosing to take part in the organization. If they don't desire to follow orders, they can leave. We'll find others who will." Cat's speaking voice is somber, solemn. "I'm very interested in serving with the council." A draw from the stout bottle is taken.

Afterwards, she drifts back to another topic. "Do you agree to learning all we can from your daughter, Jensen, even if we need to use a persuasive tactic such as Kaylee Thatcher can provide? War coming or not, the evidence indicates they're actively building camps, working toward large-scale internment. Recently, Noah led me to a source of information on a place called Coyote Sands. It was an internment camp in Arizona. Four of the Company founders were housed there in 1961. Researchers included Chandra Suresh and Doctor Zimmerman. Things there ended in a massacre. The effort was called Project Icarus, and the Institute is apparently a reboot of that. Sometime soon I'll be taking a look at the site."

The corner of Eileen's mouth hooks up around a pained smile at the mention of Leonardo. It does not surprise her to learn that managed to tell someone about their arrangement before his death. That this someone happens to be Catherine isn't as much of a relief as maybe it should be. "We're starting work on Pollepel later this month," she says. "He left me two hundred thousand dollars for reconstruction and renovations, but given the size of the property and what needs to be done to make it habitable again, we're likely to need more than that."

She lowers her cup. Places it on the coffee table with a gentle clink. "It's important you don't tell anyone about what we're doing up there. The fewer people who know about its location, the safer a fallback point it's going to make if we ever have to evacuate the city. Apart from the three of us, the only operatives who've been filled in on the plan are Gillian, Noah and Scott. Can I trust you to keep it that way?"

Of Pollepel, Raith has nothing to add. However, it's clear from his expression and body language, dead clear, that using Kaylee or anything of the sort to extract information from Liette does not sit well with him. And he says just enough to make sure there is no misunderstanding this: "Evening assuming she does know anything, and assuming that Rebel is not insane and imagining things that aren't real-" Because Rebel has done so well to give Raith the impression that he/she/they/it is not insane and imaging things that aren't real- "No kids. That's the rule."

"Pollepel Island sha'n't be discussed beyond the scope of people who already know," Cat assures. "If more money is needed, I can maybe arrange for some to be added into the pot. If that time comes, I'd recommend informing Wireless of the plan to avoid having an audit trail linking to any one person. You would, of course, know in advance of that, having stated a need for assistance." From there, drawing in a slow breath, she turns to Raith.

"No kids, in what capacity? I certainly don't advocate or intend to use children for active operations. Learning what Liette knows isn't entirely about sharing information with Rebel. That's a side benefit, possibly forestalling future attacks aimed at seizing her. Most important is us knowing what she does. The Institute, I've been told, has a few people of extreme interest and danger. Edward Ray, Doctor Zimmerman who was with the Company and Pinhearst, the man called Doc who hung out with Norman White's gang, and a fellow picked up in Argentina. Hector Steel. These four were described as a particularly frightening coven. Liette recognized Doc Carpenter as a man kept in one of their tanks at the place where she was held by Jean Luis, and Zimmerman as working with Luis. She didn't recognize Gregor, though. But I wouldn't be surprised if the Institute has him." She hopes he will see the importance of things more.

"Just for clarity, are you forbidding seeking information Liette has?"

Now, Raith finds himself in a spot. If he says 'yes,' then he loses several allies, and they'll extract information regardless. If he says 'no'….

"Conditionally," he decides after a moment, "Not without my supervision, not without her mother's permission, and not with a telepath unless absolutely necessary. Do you realize how hard it'll be to impress upon her that it's not cool to just read someone's mind unless there's no other choice if we have someone do it to her?" Parenting is hard.

"Yes, I fully understand," Cat replies. She remembers all her seminars at the Suresh Center on the ethics of power usage and how much of it focused on things such as telepathy. Every. Single. Word. "I doubt it would come to that. Liette at times would say she wasn't allowed to tell about things, but in saying she wasn't allowed to tell, she was telling some things anyway. Time has passed for her attachment to Doctor Luis to fade, and to build links with you and Lorraine. Added to this, she can maybe be convinced telling us things will help reunite her with her sister. Help us figure out how to get Julie away from them. Getting your other daughter free and clear is perhaps even more important to you than the overall picture." And she kicks herself mentally for not having led with that. Stupid Cat. "Thank you, Jensen."

Then, in taking a moment to mull some things over, a flash comes to the panmnesiac. "Eileen," she starts while turning to face the Mistress of Avians, "I think you should meet Sparrow Redhouse, the earthmover I mentioned, and maybe bring her into the Pollepel Island project. It'll hold costs down, and she can maybe make underground shelters, things that have no paper trail of construction work and supplies moved there. Completely clandestine."

Eileen arches both her dark brows at Cat's suggestion. "Not if she has ties with Rebel. He's already turned on us once. I'm not about to put information in his hands that will allow him to pull the same trick twice."

"I don't know if she has ties to them, has become involved in whatever group they've assembled," Cat replies, "they may have contacted and recruited her. Can't rule that out. All I can verify is what they told me at the time. To keep her safe, because she'd be needed. Keeping her safe isn't the easiest of tasks," she laments, "given free will and desire to move about. So there could be risk. But I think it's worth looking into, finding out if she's on board with them and the others." Silent then, she imbibes a small amount of the dark brew and commences to eat.

"If you can determine where her allegiances lie," says Eileen, "then I'll revisit the decision. Until then, the contractors I've hired through Maxwell Development can continue laying the groundwork. Pollepel used to be a historic site before I had him purchase the property for Ferry use. As far as they know, it's a just another renewal project."

"And that's how it should stay. No need to draw attention to it." And for Raith, that's that. Finally, he takes a swig of his ale, and snatches up a sandwich for his own consumption. Cat's eating proper, so why shouldn't he? Or anyone, for that matter? It could be the last time he eats a sandwich.

Acknowledgement of Eileen's statement comes with a slow nod as Cat has her mouth full at the time, and isn't one to break politesse by speaking under such condition. She chews slowly and thoroughly, her mouth closed and not making noise in doing so. Occasionally there's a drink taken from the stout bottle, she not letting any of it escape. And there's contentedness in letting the guests eat in silence too. But she does eventually speak in a moment where politeness allows, to ask a question of Eileen.

"Do you play an instrument?"

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