I've Always Hated Technopaths


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Scene Title I've Always Hated Technopaths
Synopsis How to find a teen with valuable information.
Date March 11, 2010

Ruins Of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

Curfew is in effect, but she's been assured she won't be caught by the entities which inspired this nocturnal trek across cold and icy Nuked York City streets, into the most nuked part of it. At approximately 23:30, the snowmobile riding woman stops her vehicle in the most secure and obscure location she can sight in the vicinity and makes a slow, careful approach to the library. She's quite certain not to make any move which might cause anyone within to believe she comes bearing arms or hostile intent, and equally certain to let herself be picked up by any variety of monitorina cameras they possess. There be dragons, the technopaths said, so she does nothing to inspire sudden exhalation.

Somewhere near the entrance she stops, taking a position the occupants can readily see her in, but one which hopefully doesn't catch notice from anyone passing by on the street.

In another place, a clock's arms tick slowly towards the witching hour, minute after minute slipping by as the woman waits outside upon the back of her snowmobile. A minute before those twelve bells ring out, there slips a shadow through the darkness, a tattered remnant of something once-whole that keeps just out of view. The voice carries, though, a hollow and eerie whisper that echoes through the pale night.

"I've always hated technopaths," whispers Richard Cardinal, "They cheat… I suppose he's still upset that we foiled his little stunt with Norman White…" Norman White…

"I find them extremely useful, although inscrutable, at least this particular set. They don't quite seem themselves, however. The operating method is a touch different." Cat's reply is dryly voiced, her eyes briefly moving to track the shadow voice's source if possible. "Case in point," she remarks in addition, "leading me to familiar digs of a thought-dead associate. How you managed to remain among the living is, I'm sure, an interesting tale, Mr. Clemens."

"The teenager in question, I've seen here before. A day and change ago, at Central Park, in the company of Dr. Brennan and others. Curious, she seems to have little guile, little experience of the world, and some ability to manipulate wind. I was told of her importance then, but the time wasn't right to make an approach. And I haven't exactly found Dr. Brennan an open-minded person."

"Who said that I did remain amongst the living, Catherine…?" Cat… A whisper from the shadows, Cardinal's voice sounding less solid, more wavering and echoing than it once did, "…I'm not familiar with Doctor Brennan. Is he with the Ferry?" The Ferry…

"The technopaths you cited hatred of, Mr. Clemens," Cat answers, "who told me I'd find you here when I asked. They also claimed I'd not be caught out after curfew coming here, but warned to tread carefully, there be dragons here. " Her head tilts to one side, the face and eyes showing some brief speculation, before she utters "If this is indeed you."

Sometimes one must take leaps of belief, and this appears to be such a time. "Brennan's attached to the Ferry, does some work with them, but isn't apparently on board all the way. I recently asked Ed's daughter to introduce us, I was hoping for some assistance, but it became clear I'd need to convince him I'm not a conspiracy theory nut when I gave the broad strokes about Kazimir and Shanti."

A hollow little chuckle stirs in the night. "You can't just thrust someone into our world all at once, Catherine… they'll think you're completely insane…" Cardinal's silent for a few moments, "…Kaylee? I'll have to speak to her, then, perhaps she can contact him for me." For me…

"In the same conversation in which I'd showed him a photo of a virus which came from the CDC, and had the letters of that agency on it, the man said I should take what I know to the CDC, and it was necessary to remind him that's a Federal agency. It was clear then he's not ready to hear more, so I abandoned the hope of getting him to gather blood samples for microscopic photo'ing and of assisting in developing vaccines which aren't in Federal hands. I am instead working to get images of 510 from a Mt. Sinai researcher. After that I'll know better what we're dealing with. And perhaps be able to prove my case to skeptics better."

A process of thought takes place, regarding his mention of Kaylee, followed by a chuckle. "How do you connect her with Ed, Mr. Clemens? I only told one person about that. Anyway, the girl's name is Liette. She has an SLC ability, something to do with wind. I saw her make small snow tornadoes when she tried to join kids having a snowball fight."

"Did you forget that I work for Edward? Do you really think he wouldn't have me keeping an eye on his children…?" Children… A stir of echoes through the wintry landscape of Midtown's devastation, "…I've known Kaylee for some time. And to be entirely honest, Cat, while you're an extremely intelligent woman, you sometimes lack… a bit of tact. Once we locate Doctor Brennan, let me send someone a bit less— blunt to speak to him?" Speak to him…?

"I would think it perhaps better, Mr. Clemens, not to speak with him at all," Cat suggests. "The girl is somewhere in the Ruins, we were told. It may be possible for you to sweep through and find her, having the advantage of immunity to doors. Or, failing that, to trail the doctor and let him lead you to her, after which we make a plan to simply collect her and let the man believe Feds found her." Feet move a few times, evidence of activity aimed at promoting muscle warmth.

"And you wonder why people don't like you, Catherine…" A dry whisper from Cardinal, "…but I'll take the suggestion under advisement. I have resources I can put to work locating the pair. If she is somehow connected to the missing scientists…" Scientists…

"I don't wonder," Cat replies with a chuckle, "people like me just fine. Problems occur when someone such as Doctor Brennan refuses to see the perfectly obvious. I had hopes when we talked, until he suggested I contact the CDC with a picture which came from the CDC right in front of him, which said clearly they already knew." After taking in a slow breath, she quietly tacks on "Sometimes the will not to believe is strong. Stronger than reason, stronger than logic and evidence. Stronger than tact."

"You'll fit in well with the rest of Rebel's agents, Catherine…" The wry response to her words comes from Cardinal's unseen form, "…no compromise, no cooperation. You've tried your way. Now let me try mine before we do anything… rash, alright?" Paranoid…

"I'm already compromised far more than anyone ever allows credit for, Mr. Clemens," Cat answers in quiet volume. "I've worked with the Company, kept their secrets because it's expedient. It burns like sulfuric acid, makes me want to shower twenty times just to think of it all, but I did, and do, because it was and is necessary. Discount what I tell you if you choose. If I had asked the man to help design vaccines which wouldn't be in Federal hands, after he refused to see what was shown, his only reply would've been there's nothing wrong with registering and getting vaccines that way. Getting him to see and accept the truth will require proof I don't yet have, and weeks we can't afford to spend."

"I don't particularly care about his cooperation with the virus, Catherine, I care about the girl that he's with. If we can't find these men and either rescue or eliminate them, the government will use them to do things that will make H5N10 look like the common cold," Cardinal replies sharply, a hiss rising from the snow, "And I suspect that I have just what I need to get the girl to cooperate. If he cares about her, then he'll go along too." Go along…

"For Liette," Cat replies, "all you really need to do is ask, from what I've seen. She appears very trusting, pliable. Figures of apparent authority gain her cooperation easily. I'm interested, very interested, in the scientists the government has. I'm also interested in finding a way to stop the spread of what's already released. There's more than one urgent mission afoot in this. And mine is made more complicated by the existence of Russian nazis. They're like fucking roaches. Stomp one nest underfoot, there seem to still be more."

"I'm aware. I'm told that it's possible that Kozlow has been infected with H5N10, which would… certainly at least help in catching the assassins," the shadow murmurs thoughtfully, "It would be nice to have one of our problems taken care of, at the very least. We'll eventually run out of more remnants of Kazimir's madness… eventually." Someday…

"He attacked Delilah Trafford," Cat mutters, "she was already coming down with 510. If she hadn't been, Skoll would've died in the attempt." Her head shakes, she's silent across an extended stretch, before speaking again on a different subject. "Who else knows you're still with us, Mr. Clemens?"

"They do say that every cloud has a silver lining… perhaps he'll pass it to the others," suggests Cardinal, silent again for a long moment before answering in that echoing whisper, "Those who need to. My agents… and Rebel, apparently, although I don't know if he's told his people. I suspect he hasn't. I would appreciate it if the fact was kept fairly quiet. Particularly from Sarisa Kershner." The Queen…

"Sarisa the Shark doesn't need to know I know anything at all. It would not be good if she heard anyone were looking for scientists of whom two were taken into custody during her operation. Steel and Gregor. Whatever it's all about, she's probably tied to it. It's possible they were taken from her control and she has no involvement, but I'm doubtful." Quiet now, Cat's eyes turn toward where she left the snowmobile.

"As am I." As am I… A stir of tattered shadows along a snowdrift as she turns, Richard's voice drifting, "I'll have someone send you an e-mail so you'll have an address to contact me. I'll see what I can do about collecting Liette…" A pause, "…just let me try it my way first, mm?" Please…

"Time will tell," Cat replies. "However she's obtained, I'm interested in hearing the girl's stories. Rebel haven't contacted me since before we landed on the ice shelf. That they've done so now says my memory talents are somehow needed. Good night, Mr. Clemens." Feet go into motion, boots carrying the woman back to her wintry vehicle.

"Good night, Catherine." Cat…

The shadow slips through the drifts of snow towards the library's doors, trailing like an oil smear across the arctic, a final whisper from Richard Cardinal not meant for anyone's ears. "May God save us all from the righteous…" The righteous…

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