Far Too Often Unpalatable


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Scene Title Far Too Often Unpalatable
Synopsis Information from Minea is discussed with T.Monk and Allen Rickham
Date June 20, 2009

Village Renaissance Building, 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.

For once he's listening to the radio instead of classical.

«woke me up to a world, that I am not a part of, more than in dreams…»

Hands folded behind his head and feet kicked up on the armrest, Allen Rickham lays in silent contemplation, staring up at the ceiling of the entertainment room in the Chesterfield Penthouse at Village Rennaisance. On a day like today, where rain patters down on the windows and the skies are soft shades of gray, it's hard not to become somewhat wistful.

«it's strange, why you swallowed up the moon, cast it all to ash and dust, washed it all away to start again»

The radio's soft, lilting melody carries through the apartment with the rich texture of acoustic guitar and piano mixed with a young woman's voice. It's a song befitting of the weather, slow paced and somber, with a reminiscent quality to it. Allen's been like this for weeks now, holed up in the Village Rennaisance building, while Knox takes a more active approach of hitting the street for news.

«Standing on the shores of the empire state, beaches of 34th street…»

Turning his head to the side as he hears a door open, one of Allen's dark brows rise slowly. He begins to sit up, then reconsiders and just slouches back against the couch again, laying across it as if it were a bed. "You're back early…" Allen's voice projects over the sound of the music flooding the apartment.

«Lapping shores of the Empire State, building a new day from the remains, of all that we have been, for the nothing left behind…»

Reaching across to the coffee table, Allen palms the remote for the stereo, pointing it at the receiver and trying ot turn the volume down to no avail. There's a mild hiss through his nostrils, followed by a tired grunt as he pushes up off of the sofa and keeps pressing the volume button the whole way, until only finally realizing about halfway to the stereo that he has the DVD Player remote in his hand, and scowls, reaching down to flick the radio off.

«Munin, swallowed up— »

"Sorry about that, I— didn't think you'd get back for a while." The level of volume, he's sorry about, though he doesn't really elaborate on his apologies properly. Rickham's shuffling footfalls take him to the doorway of the entertainment room, leaning his shoulder against the door frame, head tilted to the side as he looks for the lady of the house on her way back in.

Her features are lit by a spreading grin as he lowers the volume and apologizes, one hand lifts as to signal "Don't be. I'm a rocker chick at heart, remember? Loud music would be my lifeblood." She's dressed like a person such as she described, a not at all uncommon thing. Tank top bearing the image of Robert Plant, dark shorts.

Her hands aren't empty. She has several folders in one and a laptop computer in the other, carrying the items into that entertainment room after the almost President. They're set down on a coffee table, the laptop is opened, and the folders are spread out with a gesture which invites the man to peruse him as they will. "These are going through a vetting process, Allen, some draw interesting questions."

She plugs the laptop in so as to preserve its battery while remarking "I'm hoping R.Ajas comes to visit us soon, one item among all that I'm sure will interest him directly and thoroughly." Her eyes settle on him, as she adds "And I'm hoping to draw on your experience before I talk with Helena again about all of this, as to the impact and advisability of releasing things publicly."

It's only then she settles into a seat.

"What's all of this now?" Walking over to the coffee table, Allen keeps his arms folded as he looks down at the folders, green eyes slowly lifting up to Cat with an arch of one brow. "R.Ajas… there's a name I haven't thought of in a while. Last I heard he'd sent Knox out to try and track down that kid, West, again." There's a twitch of Rickham's nose, followed by one finger scratching at the side as he comes to sit down on the couch slowly, grabbing one of the folders as he does.

Brows furrowed, Allen's eyes drift back and forth over the contents of the documents, lips pressed together in an uncertain expression. "I'm not sure if — " the sound of the radio clicking back on with nothing but soft white-noise abruptly cuts Allen off, his eyes darting over to Cat in the heartbeat it takes before a voice, unfamiliar in both accent and tone, comes over the airwaves.

«I apologize for the delay of response to your missive, I apologize once more for my disciple's inability to be present at this meeting.» Allen jerks his head up to look at the radio when it starts talking in that curious, difficult to place accent. His lips pull back into half of a grimace, eyes diverting to Cat before the man on the other end speaks again. «My monicker is Thelonious Monk. You may shorten it to simply 'Monk' if you so wish.» His manner of speech is far more formal that R.Ajas, and T.Monk's "voice" seems far older as well, having that heavy burden of age with it.

"This is information regarding the operations of Primatech, a firm currently partnered with DHS, which was begun some decades ago by Kaito Nakamura, Daniel Linderman, Arthur Petrelli, Angela Petrelli, Charles Deveaux, Robert Bishop, and Adam Monroe. They've a very nasty history, as you'll soon read," she states with no small amount of distaste. Kidnappings, torture, memory alterations, genetic experiments, attempts to release very dangerous viruses, imprisonments without trial…" Her voice trails off as the radio switches back on and the voice of her technopathic visitor begins. Silence continues as she listens, making a mental assessment. Older, maybe, given he comes through the radio instead of piping himself through the HD set as R.Ajas did. In addition to his speaking style.

"Thank you for coming, Mr. Monk," she greets. "The matter at hand I wanted to ask your disciple about is among a batch of information which was brought to us by an agent of Primatech from their files. I've a copy of it on the computer near me, under the name Election Rigging '06, which you can view, sir. It makes some allegations I find ludicrous."

«I see.» Monk's immediate response is a patient one, but tinged with something stressed beneath that tempered veneer. Rickham notices it with a quirk of one brow, but remains wordless as Monk continues. «In another life, I was among the initial compatriots of the Company. Though for many of the reasons that you may assume, I parted ways with them in the late nineteen seventies.» There's a moment of hesitation on Monk's part, followed by Allen rubbing at his forehead as he opens one of the folders again, his interest reluctantly renewed.

«Before I delve in to the theoreticals you have mentioned, I wish for you to understand something. The documentation you have presented here is based on something fallible — human perception. Allegations imply accusation, imply educated understanding. The field reports you undoubtedly have gained access to are unfiltered intelligence and speculation based on agent perceptions.» With a somewhat unsettling tone of voice, Monk adds, «Human perception is open to interpretation, misrepresentation, and outright fallacy. But you cannot fault the data with this, only the perceiver.»

The voice then emits from Cat's laptop, jumping from the radio entirely. There's a long moment of pause, followed by Catherine's laptop screen flashing through files and pages at a speed that makes it hard for her eididic memory to even capture and parse everything. Then, only a few minutes later, Monk's voice re-emerges from the computer's speakers. «This information is largely correct, in regards to Shanti Suresh and the virus developed from her unique sickness. The events that unfolded regarding Adam and the Virus is what preceeded by departure from the Company.»

Monk's voice dips down in a slightly lower tone, «However, the portion about the election rigging is incorrect. I know for fact that Hana Gitelman was not responsible, as the guilty party to that crime is in the process of paying for their misdeeds. This, given the coding on the documents and the names of agents, indicates to me that these are uncorroberated field reports. It is possible that the Company itself is unaware of the election rigging that took place, which — given the parties involved — rings true to me. Everything else here, to the best of my knowledge, is correct. However, like the writers of these documents, my perception is human, and flawed.»

"I don't believe myself that Wireless had any connection to that crime," Cat replies in a calm voice. "The purpose here was simply to pass it along, and let it be known Primatech's information accuses her of involvement. The action itself was spoken of once before, by R.Ajas, a mess he said he intends to clean up. Wireless herself has been told, and her reaction was, well, irate. I'd like to release that document publicly and smear Nathan Petrelli with it, but, sadly, I can't given the accusation against Hana unless we come into possession of other documentation which exonerates her. My presumption is, given data from other sources, Daniel Linderman has ties to the rigging of that election. His path to the presidency seems engineered, and my source claimed a coup had been carried out. There are many things I would not believe coming from that man, but this snippet I do."

"I also realize the fallibilities of human perceptions, and I do not discount the possibility of outright deceit. We're seeking to vet and verify the data given to us. It's possible the source's former employers arranged for us to receive things they chose to let out, whether she knows and is part of it or not. An attempt on her life was made as she met with our operative and a minor head wound suffered. It causes me to wonder if the sniper missed, or intended to miss so she'd look good. But in either case, the documents do confirm things already known. Mr. Monroe was imprisoned," this she knows because her associates broke him out, grr, "and we'd been told of Doctor Knutson joining the Vanguard, then stealing strain 138 from Odessa, Texas."

«You are correct in the ascertation that Daniel Linderman was involved. He and entities unknown to me outside of theoreticals perpetrated that act. However, concrete proof — even in my knowledge of the criminal that comitted the act of fraud — is not enough to bring doubt and incrimination onto the house of Petrelli. Furthermore,» Allen glances up from the documents, given the topic of conversation, «Impeachment of President Petrelli would put a man with a far more nihilistic outlook on the Evolved in charge of the government. Andrew Mitchell, a man with relatives who have known ties to Humanis First,» something that came up during his election campaign, «is too dangerous of a quantity to be allowed near the Presidency. Ultimately, we find ourselves presented with something of a Catch 22.» Allen exhales a tired sigh, slouching back against the couch as he tilts ihs head back and lays the open folder across his face like a blinder, trying to parse everything going on and not having anywhere near the levels of energy to do so.

«Is there any further information or intelligence you would request of my involvement in?»

"The choices are far too often unpalatable," Cat grouses after listening. "Encouraging Humanis First only increases our general national peril, and also bolsters the case for Frontline by their resulting actions." By the expression to her face and the tone of her voice, she seems close to boiling over. It's a torrent held back by force of will. "I do, however, find there may be value in letting out exactly what the Vanguard was up to, how close the human race came to being decimated nine times over, and how absolutely ineffective DHS was at doing anything but sweeping in to imprison people for saving the world after the work was done. It, I believe, would vindicate us as an organization and establish credibility in future efforts before the public eye. It is also our desire to expose the existence and operations of Primatech to public attention with the hope it will cause such an outcry as to turn the nation away from any and all extraconstitutional acts such as imprisonment sans trial and registration."

"Yet, I realize, this is all perhaps too close to home and I could be missing the long view, the consequences of such an action. I seek the benefit of your wisdom in what we should and should not expose from this recently acquired data."

"Additionally, I would like a roster and anything else available regarding Primatech's founders. Pinehearst, under Arthur Petrelli, is currently being studied with an eye to both ending its operations and preventing a re-creation of the serum to bestow abilities." This last, by the tone of her voice, also carries a personal attachment.

«//To tell the people just how close to the end of the world they came would only inspire fear and panic, to do the work that was not done by the deed itself. It's happened before, I pray that it does not happen again. Sometimes, the righteous fight is the one fought in silence, Catherine, not one fought openly. That, I fear, is the lesson your leader will come to learn in hard truths.»

Removing the folder from his face, Allen peers down the length of his nose at Cat, listening to her sometimes makes him wonder which side is more zealous than the next, and if any amount of zeal is ever the right attitude. But still, he listens, because in a way there's some kernel of truth waiting to be found.

Monk, however, has other intentions. «Pinehearst is not your battle to fight, and if you choose to engage this enemy, you will fail. Too personal are the lines drawn in that conflict, and too close are the ties of blood between allies of your organization and the man himself. R.Ajas and I intend to settle Arthur's debt another way, but I emplore you to conserve your strength for the coming storm. In so much as that is concerned, I have what may be a bit presumptuous of me.»

While Monk can show no facial expression, Allen's arched brow perhaps is a good stand-in. «I would ask of you a favor.»

"It's intriguing," Cat replies in a voice returned to calm, "your counsel seems to match with Edward Ray's desire to see Primatech spared from exposure and collapse, a goal I can't in any conscience support. But Pinehearst, through the simple making of contact with Father, I've come to see his point about in spades. In any case, Arthur cannot be dealt with by any one person, and by a group only with difficulty. Edward Ray, for whatever reason, has taken away an ally who would be key to that effort through his tasks assigned to Tyler Case. Without that support, our best means of success is removed." No guarantee he can be brought here to meet Delphine, in any case, and Hiro is out of contact anyway.

"We aren't ones to sit idly by and watch as things occur," she goes on to say. "We've found the most likely result is no one acts. But your counsel, Mr. Monk, is well taken. At present, plans are underfoot to infiltrate Pinehearst with insects under the control of someone who has that ability, and possibly also electronically by an engineer among our numbers. As to Primatech, if the battle is to still be fought silently, we still need as much information as is obtainable on the firm and its founders. The source who brought us what I've shown you has more, but will only provide it in exchange for data on Pinehearst which can be publicized as proof."

Finally, her eyes resting on Allen and his peering down the length of his nose and his arched brow, she asks the simple question. "What favor do you ask?"

«I, like Hana, will always advocate the collapse of the Company, in whatever form they take. But legitimate routes of authority — I feel — will not be the answer. Rebellion — //Liberitad — is the only option. But that is a fire long since burned out from your organization, and I feel that — despite its faults — PARIAH would have been the sword that cut the head off that beast. Now… it is less certain.//»

Allen gets up off of the sofa, not really saying anything as he lays the folder down on the coffee table and wanders out of the entertainment room towards the kitchen, the whole conversation seems to have been a great lot for him to take in all at once. He's always been a passive sort, though. «I entreat your assistance in an unrelated matter. However, this one will ultimately require assistance of an outside source of which I have no ability to contact. R.Ajas…» Monk hesitates for a moment, «R.Ajas cannot aid me in this task, so I come to you with the hopes that you may be able to lend aid. I need you to find a woman, one that I know has been operating out of New York, but has fallen off of the grid. Which limits my ability to find her.»

On the screen, the driver's liscence photograph for a woman listed as Niki Sanders appears. «I would ask that you find this woman, Niki Sanders, and take her to Mount Sinai Medical Center. It is necessary that she visits the room of Garabed Bashur. Everything should make itself clear at that juncture, but time is of the essence.»

"We aren't opposed to violence, and we are rebels," Cat asserts. "We have on multiple occasions taken up arms. The defeat of Vanguard, the attack on Moab. We aren't above doing it again. Our hope, in fact, is to inspire the people at large to take up the cause of classic American principles and rebel. To assert their authority over the forces of government in a way we can't without that support of larger numbers. Our past operations achieve important goals, but they change no one's mind. It was to this end I counseled Helena to publicize herself. This was discussed with R.Ajas, and he didn't disagree. Yet your counsel runs counter to that strategy. It seems you would suggest, while we continue to gather people around us, we do nothing while the new American Gestapo overruns the country and the Constitution dies to thunderous applause." Her head shakes, not that Mr. Monk or Allen can see it, having wandered to the kitchen.

In a quieter tone, after a few beats silence, she quietly remarks "I know Niki Sanders. She suffers with MPD and is phenomenally strong. I can't guarantee she'll come anyplace she doesn't want to go. If the Gina personality is driving, I can lure her with alcohol. If it's Jessica, perhaps I can simply hire her to visit Mount Sinai. Niki… I can just ask. I have to hope, if I find Niki or Jessica, she doesn't refuse to have anything to do with me. She stayed here briefly after returning from the future, but left in the dark of night without a word. Is there anything I can say or do which would overcome resistance?"

Surprisingly, the opinionated technopath has nothing to say about Cat's assertions about Phoenix. And, perhaps also surprisingly, he has nothing to say that could coax Niki into assisting either. «Nothing.» There's injury in his voice, but not clear on why. «Her actions speak far louder than any of my words. I fear that saying more may dissuade her, but I guarantee you she will be in no danger. This— this is something that only she can do.»

Then, leaping from the computer back to the radio as Allen comes back in with a tall glass of milk cradled in one hand, Monk makes his intended exit clear. «If that is all, Catherine, then consider that a fair exachange of services. In the future, I will endeavor not to burden you with additional responsibilities.»

"I'm not objecting to performing tasks, Mr. Monk," Cat replies. "I hope it doesn't seem I have. That's not the case at all. I sense, from the tone of your voice, offense has been taken. What have I said to cause it, that the matter might be remedied? I assure you, one way or another, Miss Sanders will be led to Mount Sinai, and the room of Garabed Bashur." There is more she wishes to cover, such as a possibility of locating her parents, if they're still alive, but given his latest tone she opts not to bring that up. Instead, she glances at Allen, and closes her eyes briefly. She looks confused.

«No offense, Catherine. Just difference of opinions. The world will go on.» Seeming more impatient than upset now, Monk's voice crackles and pops on the radio. «The satellite I am currently occupying is moving out of position for New York. I must move to a different location and continue my efforts in other theaters. I will give you this warning though, pay attention to the televised news on global conflicts. I feel — given what I am working on overseas — you and yours may be called upon for a different battle alltogether.»

Riddles, half-truths, ambiguities and vagueries — it is what Hana has put up with for so long, knowing Monk as she does. «I bid you good fortune on your endeavors.» From the doorway, Allen casts a sidelong stare at Cat, one brow kicked up silently at Monk's manner of speech, as if incredulous that someone actually speaks quite like that.

"Farewell, Mr. Monk," Cat replies. Then she goes silent and stays so for some moments, her eyes resting on Allen until the radio switches off as signal of Monk's departure. When she does speak again, confusion and irritation shows in her voice. "You were here, Allen, when I spoke of what plans were being considered, and not once was there any indication of that being a bad idea. Yet, now," she gestures toward the device and trails off.

"It causes me to wonder if there's agreement between mentor and younger technopath. Still, I don't presume to have infallible judgment, that's the reason his input was asked for. It just surprises to find so much distance between his position and what was, is, under consideration. I still believe Helena putting her face out there was a good move. And I can't quite grasp keeping what we've been given totally secret. Yes, there would be violent reactions, but the truth would be set free and that's key to sparking rebellion at a time when they say war is happening one way or the other."

"Do I, or we, sound like madwomen, Allen? Is all we've been considering all so much wandering down the wrong path?"

"I don't know the first thing about those two's relationships — or how people like that even think. From the sounds of it though?" Allen tilts his head to the side, pausing to take a sip from his glass as he winds his way back to the couch, grunting with the effort of sitting down, "it sounds like they're of two seperate minds, for certain."

Consideration is given to the latter question, because there's really no easy answer to it. "What I've got to wonder, given the way that Monk guy was talking?" His green-gray eyes shift towards the stereo, as if it were going to bite back with a retort from its silence. "I'm beginning to wonder if he thinks war's inevitable, because of the way you run your house." His eyes drift back to Cat, "If this," he motions around the house, "if Phoenix was the tinderbox waiting to ignite. I mean, Christ, you kids have a lot of power under your hands. The government's terrified of organized rebellion, and they're putting together an Evolved military for what?"

One dark brow arches, "It isn't for their health. Truth be told, Cat, and Knox is with me on this — I wouldn't be surprised if Frontline is being put together to put down groups just like Phoenix— Fighting fire with fire." He shrugs, not liking the sound of his answer once it leaves his mouth. "Maybe you're the ones who set this off? Hell, maybe we all are? I don't know— all I know is that I'm an old man, and I'm tired of this— and all I want to do is protect my family."

"That may be true, Allen, at least in part." Cat replies. "Because we are a threat, and we've had success. Because we wouldn't just lie down and let Daniel Linderman take over. Because we wouldn't just lie down and let Kazimir Volken wipe out the population. After you left the library, we never heard from Matt Parkman again. Not even a hint of a move to provide support for the tasks to be undertaken. They just happened to show up on the bridge right after Volken was defeated and put Helena in prison."

She rises from her seat and begins picking up the documents, then shuts off the laptop. She herself sounds tired now. "Family. I'd like to save mine too. Both parents work with Arthur Petrelli. Father is, was, on board with opposing Arthur. Mother, I don't know. Never got to discuss any of it with her. For all I know, he killed them both before or after he tried to kill me. Frontline, as I see it, is about Primatech and Pinehearst grabbing for power and cementing it. Arthur makes the formula, he wins. If he fails, Primatech keeps their hold on the government and has Frontline to crush opposition. And our part? We're the opposition. We, and anyone like us."

She lets a thin smile form as the stereo is turned on and a disc is chosen. Led Zeppelin, which she holds up for his input. "If I had my way, none of this would be happening and I'd be a famous rock star with three Yale degrees, enjoying life."

At that, Allen manages a meager smile, the expression creasing the corners of his mouth as his eyes fall sjut, leaning back and folding his hands behind his head. "I think if we all had our way," he notes with an unusual amount of whimsy, "the world outside those windows would be a whole lot different." Allen turns, looking languidly towards the ruined skyline with a furrowed brow, silent for a few long moments as he considers the implications of his words. "On second thought…"

Green eyes turn back to Cat, followed by a hesitant smile, "maybe we just all need to try a little harder."

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