In The Loop


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Scene Title In The Loop
Synopsis Claire is given the beginnings of what she wants.
Date August 4, 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.

Tuesday morning, the tenth hour comes. An invitation is extended for Claire to venture up into Cat's place on the floor just under the roof, where Doctor Chesterfield awaits. It says she'll be in the area she uses as office space and there will be coffee. Food too.

The reception area in that space is unoccupied, but there are items spread out around it. Most of them are segments of printed maps which feature geological data such as faultlines under New York City and state, a small amount of material on a program called the Munin Satellite, and some news articles. One announcing the satellite program being restarted, another saying elements of a group called the Vanguard may have stolen Soviet nukes, and others about seismic events in the area along with mentions of a nuclear plant above a fault line.

She isn't exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed when she arrives, but at least Claire is awake. She's even dressed rather than arriving in her pajamas. The items in the room get a glance, a few items making her slow a touch as she frowns at them in confusion, not sure what she's looking at.

Stifling a yawn, she picks up an article about Vanguard and nukes. Claire calls out, "Cat… I'm here… What's up?" all the while her eyes scan the article, before setting it down carefully.

Behind the desk, casually clad with her bare feet up on one corner, Cat watches Claire arrive with a calm expression and a slight smile forming. She's leaning back in the office chair, one a CEO would have behind a desk a CEO would have too. On the wall above her are three diplomas bearing the seal of Yale University. Two at the bottom are side by side: Music and Political Science. The third, atop the others, is a Juris Doctorate. Each bears the name Catherine A. Chesterfield.

"Thanks for coming, Claire," Cat greets with a gesture toward a fresh cup of coffee next to cream and sugar, "that's yours if you want it. Now… you wanted to be in the loop…"

Closing the distance between her and that mug of coffee, Claire nods a bit. "Well, I was curious what you'd want." She settles into the chair nearest the coffee, "And yeah, I would actually. You know I've never been one for sitting on my thumbs when there is a potential crisis on hand." Slowly she starts to add things to the coffee. "I need to know what is going on."

Nodding, Cat turns a computer monitor on the desk to where Claire can see it, then slides over a wireless keyboard and mouse. On the screen is a directory featuring several files with subject names which may catch her eye. "It's a bit whimsical, what we call this," she begins, "the Catabase. It's got extensive data on past operations and people of interest we've come across. Some may be out of date, but I'll soon fix that. The purpose is double: It provides a backup of everything in my head about our business matters, and is a copy I can show to others so they're informed."

"What your uncle was talking about, though, isn't an entry yet. I've just begun to think about that, to gather information. It starts with the precognitive visions of two people. One is Eve, the other is Else Kjelstrom. Eve's dream predicted a large bird with feathers that fall and make mushroom clouds among other things. She said the past is prologue, and suggests parts of the Vanguard will soon make a play. Else's tune is similar. You've probably heard it, all about Munin blocking out the moon, and beaches on 34th Street, like somehow the coastline changes."

Claire takes up the mug in both hands and blows on the contents as she eyes the computer scene. "That's everything past?" There is a curious look on the blonde's face as she takes a sip of the coffee. "I'm curious, but it's the present stuff I'm really worried about. I heard about what you've said.. I've chatted with another. It's sounding like there is some really scary stuff coming."

She takes a deep breath and let's it out slowly. "So all this is what you and Eve were discussing when I was sick that day?" There is a slow shake of her head. "So we're heading for another… even worse Midtown?" Eyes drift to Cat, "All sounds a bit like Armageddon."

"It's possible," Cat replies solemnly. "But not if this can be figured out and moves taken to stop it. We've got a decent track record on this sort of thing. Kazimir Volken intended to release a viral plague which could've killed ninety percent of humanity." Her fingers reach for a cup of coffee and lift it, a sip being taken, as she goes silent and lets Claire do the math in her head.

"Well, lets pray that luck is on our side." Claire murmurs softly, before lifting the coffee to her lips. "So… you think it's possible they are trying to get that plague out again? I mean." Her eyes unfocus a bit in thought, "Nuclear explosions are a really bad thing. Destroy the world kind of stuff, not just wipe out the human race." There is a small frown. "So…. what are you all working on now for figuring this out?"

"I'm researching," Cat replies, gesturing toward the maps she has printed out, "and learning as much as I can. What I've come up with so far is there's no faultline under or near 34th Street that could be triggered by nukes. The power plant is a concern too, if something happened there it might cause flooding. What I need is to figure out what sort of force would be needed to make the visions happen and what the best places to trigger it would be. If I can work that, those spots can be watched. I've also looked into the Munin satellite program, since Munin was mentioned in the song, and there's the nuclear feathers in Eve's dream. Technopaths checked into the people associated with that project, none of them have ties to the Vanguard."

"I don't think they're trying to let the plague out again, no, we destroyed all of that with thermite grenades on the 28th of January, the day the Verrazano-Narrows bridge fell. It fell from damage during one of the battles. That's how Helena was snatched and taken to Moab."

"Thanks goodness for that then. Never hurts to ask…" Claire gives a soft sigh and nods, her eyes dropping to the table for a moment. "Is there anything I can do to help?" Setting the mug on the edge of the desk she sits back in her chair and lifts her brows curiously to Cat. Not the first person she's offered help to on all this.

"What're your skills, Claire?" Cat asks, "other than acrobatic athletics and shotguns. Do you speak languages, are you a fast and accurate typist? Or into science? You're a woman of action, that much I get, a lot of things might bore you to tears." Her eyes go distant, focused on a wall while she speaks. "When I was your age, I chafed. Felt miserable, because what my parents wanted for me and what I wanted were very different, but at the same time I wanted to make them happy. My dream was, and still is, to be a big rock star. So I studied music, fronted a band for a while, and became an attorney too. Then I moved to New York last autumn, and life got really interesting."

A frown creases her brow and Claire looks like she's going to say something, but then she closes her mouth and sighs. "What your saying is there is no need for a bull right now." Pushing her chair back a bit, the ex-cheerleader climbs to her feet. "Fine, I get that. But don't assume, Cat, that shoving my gun in peoples faces and dying over and over is all I am about." She steps around behind the chair and rests a hand on the back of it, her eyes dropping to the floor.

"I don't know what my skills are exactly, beyond what I have learned. But until people start putting faith in me and actually giving me a chance I won't know." Those last three words are a bitten off one after the other as her anger slowly surfaces.

"That's why I asked the questions, Claire," Cat answers calmly. She watches the younger one stand and make her declaration without moving from her seat. "Because I don't know the answers, and I'm trying to find them out. I don't assume your only value is in being a shotgun arm or in being nearly indestructible. I imagine you've got hopes and dreams like anyone else."

"Beyond that, there's training. Things you want to learn, or are willing to learn. The best thing you can do to help is getting and being ready to be more than the obvious. I have faith in you, and will give you that chance."

"Hopes and dreams?" Claire says with an half hearted chuckle, rolling her eyes a bit and glancing back at Cat. "Hope and dreams are for normal people. I gave up on those a long time ago. Now all I do is try to survive." Bitter much, Claire?

She nods to the mug of coffee. "Thanks for the coffee and the information Cat. I'll try to do what you need, even if it's on the job training with others. I — appreciate the chance at least."

She knows the younger woman has anger issues, that was clear from day one and reinforced many times. Like when she opened a vehicle door and immediately shot a man's face off when they rescued Deckard. The source of them Cat isn't quite sure of, beyond the current situation around the US and wanting to be taken seriously, not seen as just a cannon fodder woman who gets up to be shot again. It's this she'll now seek to encourage and help with.

Standing, Cat moves around to the front of her desk. "There's things you can teach me too, I think," she muses. "Cheerleading doesn't often get the credit it deserves. It's a sport, with athletic conditioning involved. Choreographed dance, acrobatics… These are things you know which can be valuable to anyone who sometimes does dangerous things, right?"

And there are brain things to focus on too. "Someday we'll get there. That place where the world isn't afraid of us and we can live some of those dreams. Part of it is helping ourselves with more than violence. What's fair, and not fair, uses of our abilities?"

The t-shirt is pulled over her head, revealing a sports bra under it, as Cat heads out of the office and toward her training room.

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