It's Just The Beginning


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Scene Title It's Only The Beginning
Synopsis At sea, Cat and Redbird compare notes.
Date January 4, 2009

USS George Washington

Observation decks on this carrier are popular places for the non-military participants in Operation Apollo, it seems. One of them is once again partaking of the view they provide, this particular one overlooking the flight deck as shadows lengthen and multiple colors form over Madagascar and the western horizon. It may be the brunette of five feet and eight inches even expects a man of shadows might venture here soon, given the spread of dark and the fading of light which causes him distress.

Cat is for the moment alone with her thoughts, mulling over such memorized maps of Antarctic ice fields as she's been able to obtain and look at. Where, in all of that frozen expanse, is Munin to be found?

"Who's Yvette?"

The question's asked quietly from behind as Cardinal walks along up, pausing to stand behind her; hands clasped at the small of his back, CIA badge hanging from a chain around his neck but his outfit otherwise bereft of insignias. One hand soon frees itself to scratch at his neck, grimacing as pale, scaly flecks slough off onto his shoulder, the badly reddened skin still peeling something terrible.

"A woman Kazimir Volken called daughter," she provides. Cat doesn't turn to face him, the voice being recognized is enough. "I had thought you might wander out this way," she proffers, "and hoped for it, at that. Someone says you and I should have a conversation." No elaboration yet, perhaps the panmnesiac expects him to already know who that would be.

"Interesting. No wonder he wondered if you'd found her…" A turn of Cardinal's head regards her with a faint smile, one brow lifting, "…really? He say what about, particularly, or just…" He waves his hand vaguely in the air, "…a conversation?"

No commentary is made on whether or not they did find her, Cat choosing to follow a slightly different path as eyes continue to observe and record this particular sunset. "She was mentioned as a possible way to catch Grigori Zhukov, her ability having some defense against illusions. It wasn't needed; Francois, Teo, and Ethan secured that target. Also without needing to put a whole forest to the torch."

"And yes. Mr. Petrelli suggested you and I should speak. I reminded him he no longer needs to carry on the act aboard ship. He seems not yet ready to give it a rest."

A quiet chuckle stirs itself upon Cardinal's breath, his head shaking ever so slightly as he looks back up towards the sunset, his lips curving in the ghost of a smile - but no more. His eyes, as ever, hidden by dark lenses until that sun is gone.

"It's not," he says quietly, "Entirely an act, you know. He's slipping."

"My credibility is staked on this," Cat reports somberly, "and already called into question. It was necessary to share that I'd spoken with him, after Kershner was told I had contact from Argentina and advice to capture Grigori Zhukovsky in it. She accepted my word on it not being Volken and called off an airstrike, but my judgment fell into question after Francois reported back of him seeing a priest less than a month ago. The priest told him Kazimir visited his church and made a confession in the body of a young American man, then seemed to wake up."

"You believe Volken is gaining power over him, Mr. Redbird? Of course," she remarks speculatively, "that would be why you told Claire to stay close. An anchor."

"He's been driving everyone with a… emotional connection to Petrelli away," Cardinal says, voice quiet but gaze still on the sunset, "To protect them, of course, but there hasn't been much reason for him to be Petrelli. I think he can be saved— I'm working on a plan, after I heard about that vision Claire had. Hopefully I can work out the little niggling details before it's too late."

"Francois… I thought he was dead, though? Well, as dead as either of those can be, and I know it's not the old man on board."

"It seems Eileen Ruskin and Abby put their heads together," Cat shares, "then got lucky and found Hiro Nakamura. They went back to 1994 Louisiana and snatched him to here and now." Her eyes close. "I'd like to find Hiro right now. It would make all this easy. Find Munin, freeze it in time, fling all the parts into the sun individually." She shakes her head.

"But I know we won't get that lucky. It's difficult enough to find the thing in the vast frozen haystack of Antarctica. To me, the most likely place is one where Chinese scientists did some deep core drilling early last year."

"Ah, Hiro…" A faint chuckle, Cardinal's eyes closing, "…always complicating things. I like the man, but— I don't envy him that power. Can you imagine the temptation?" He slants a look over, one brow lifting, "I imagine Volken can lead us right to it, Cat."

"Peter can." Cat agrees, stubbornly not acceding in any way to Volken being in the driver's seat of that body, "using Kazimir's memories. And it is a distressing thing. Exposure does cause corruption over time. I warned Mother about that, when she told me she went back to the Company. Her mayoral campaign is thus unsupportable. She's made herself a Linderman puppet."

"But that's not important right now. What exactly is he planning? Gillian told me about the Master Of Robots, presumably he plays a part in the plan; to be the disarmer. Where does Grigori Zhukovsky fit into things? His illusionary ability is suppressed, I was told we didn't need it."

"I know. I talked to her, briefly… I was feeling her out as a mayoral candidate," Cardinal admits, a faint chuckle bearing with it no humor, "…it didn't go well. She still supports most of what Pinehearst did."

He scratches at his cheek, grimacing at the sting, "No idea. He's got his own plan, above and beyond Kershner's. I don't think he plans to survive it."

Her eyes close. "Not surprising, on both counts. Mother's never been one for striking out on her own, she seems to need following leaders. Male leaders. She even went to one of the Seven Sisters when in her time it had become perfectly possible to attend an Ivy League school directly. It's unclear to me how much influence Allen Rickham has over her now. I want to speak with him, ask his opinion of her linking with the Company and Linderman by extension. I can't believe he endorses this, unless as a plan of infiltration. And that's dangerous enough; outfits like that are experts at opening ranks, admitting opponents, and corrupting them. Simple proximity is tainting." What she doesn't speak of here is the role Rebel might play in the whole thing, the best beam of hope which remains regarding that situation.

"And Peter's been pushing people away, unmistakably, just as you say. It's a very convincing act. Francois Allegre will never believe it isn't Volken at the wheel. Whatever plan Peter has, we simply have to hang on and trust it. There aren't any other options at this point. He did well enough undercover within Pinehearst, managing to conceal intentions from his telepathic father."

"Your mother still claims that most of what Pinehearst was doing was right. Whatever influence that he might still hold over her, Cat, I think she's squarely in the camp of our enemies…" A faint twist of dark humor at the end, Cardinal's lips twitching slightly, "…not that we're entirely on the same side in some ways, but we both have the same enemies for the most part."

He looks back down towards her, then, considering her for a moment before asking, "Why do you trust him so much? He's a Petrelli."

"Sadly, I have to agree. My influence over Mother is zero. As to Peter, it's simple. I met him a week after moving to New York in '08. It was through him I met my associates, and through him I learned a good deal of what I know. He played a part in turning them away from terrorism. I've seen him shine, and I've also seen him be intensely misguided. Evil, though, that I've not seen from the man. Nothing indicates he's a puppet for his brother, or his mother. Do you have evidence to the contrary?" Then Cat veers onto a slight tangent.

"What do you make of Sarisa Kershner?"

"I couldn't tell you," Cardinal muses, regarding Peter, "I've never met the man. Maybe I will sometime soon, though."

The latter question has the shadowman silent for a bit, lips pursing in a tight line. "I'm… not sure. I'm reserving judgement, for now. My boss clearly wanted me to work with her - or sabotage her in the process - but I'm not sure which, just yet, or what it is she really wants."

"She's an enigma," Cat agrees, "claiming to be the only person in the Administration who doesn't want us all darkholed, who went out on a limb for us. That may be true. Pragmatism in this regard makes sense. She appears to kiss our asses, also; saying the right things about Moab and offering pardons, clean slates. At the same time, Federal agencies collected some of us for this by being themselves and just grabbing people. In both cases, it's unneeded. We'd have helped finish the Vanguard job without bribes or coercion." A thin smile forms. "That doesn't mean I won't take the bribes, of course. Maybe she really does believe in the Constitution. I'm not going to challenge her by suggesting she doesn't to her face. I don't know how informed she is about what went on with Rickham, or if she knows about the older and younger Nathans. At the very least, she needs to be carefully and thoroughly studied."

"So the question, Mr. Redbird, is will you share whatever you can learn from studying Agent Kershner? Shadowness makes you so much better at such things than I am."

"She knows a great deal that she shouldn't," Cardinal murmurs thoughtfully, gaze hooded behind his shades, "I'd like to see a background check on Ms. Kershner, personally, I like to know who I'm dealing with."

"I'll tell you if I find out anything I think would be important to you," he says then, nodding slightly, "She claims to be on our side, to be against the current administration, but we'll see how serious she is about it. Assuming any of us survive this mission, of course."

"One thing is certain," Cat opines, "the woman is a shark. She's politically savvy. One doesn't get to where she is by being nice. High level at the CIA, ties to the Oval Office, director of Frontline. And I have to wonder what her opinion about Pinehearst is. Frontline was going to be packed with soldiers hand-picked to receive the serum and SLC abilities, turning it into a Gestapo. Without the serum, it's much harder to carry out the full plan, I'm sure. They can't make members at will."

"I'll ask for a check of her background," Cat offers after a pause, "and pass along what comes up."

"She doesn't like Petrelli, or Mitchell… but she won't say who she is backing. She's keeping her cards close to her chest, there," Cardinal muses aloud, "We'll just have to see. I get a feeling this mission isn't the end of anything, Cat."

"It's just the beginning."

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