Legends That Wear Cement Shoes


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Scene Title Legends That Wear Cement Shoes
Synopsis This time, Cat doesn't have to throttle the answers out of Ghost. He volunteers a wide array of opinions, disambiguinations, stories about dead terrorists, best guesses, and unfortunate confessions of what he doesn't know.
Date July 10, 2009

Village Renaissance BuildingCat'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.

There's a stick of incense burning in the corner of the reception room: the first sign that something's off, if not outright wrong. Something with sanguine spice, a little bit of sweetness, probably available at the appropriate interest store under a name like 'Rain' or 'Ocean,' despite that no water Ghost has ever put his nose to has ever smelled anything like it. He's here.

Better late than never, eh? Days after Catherine had requested a meeting, without warning or, this time, waiting for an invitation, thes stranger is a long-limbed thatch of shadow propped up on the wall, away from the brightness of the afternoon window. Trousered and jacketed in black, clean-shaven and pale-eyed, walking cane in his hand, he remains coolly reminiscent of a vampire on a number of levels, likely. He says nothing, does nothing.

He seems to have homed in on her well, coming to the outer area of what she uses as an office, despite that office having no staff. It's just a place for Cat to work, when she needs to, here in the penthouse. If her life were such that she might operate a formal enterprise from here, she could easily. She doesn't notice his presence immediately, being engaged with typing something on a computer keyboard within what could be an executive office. It's that stick of incense and the scene it produces which finally garners her attention.

She rises, seen in so doing to sport rocker chick attire and summer comfort, and speaks a dry greeting. "Please, do come all the way in." One hand gestures at a chair, inviting him to occupy it. "I don't use this area much. And having guests here is very refreshingly rare." Because if it wasn't, that would suck. Living a boring, staid corporate life. She'd far rather Arthur had killed her when he did the defenestration thing.

She might well get her wish, the way things are going, though Ghost would deign to prefer otherwise. He pops himself upright, off the wall, rocks on his heels with a creak of rubber and worn leather. Passes rough fingers through the black of his hair, a token bit of disgruntled vanity that remains in defiance to the bodge-job Sonny did on his face and figure.

"Thanks." Once, he'dve said 'Grazie.'

A few seconds later, he is settling companionably onto the seat that the pamnesiac had indicated. Squares his heels on the floor, relaxes his shoulders against the back. Swings the cane end over end between forefinger and middle, an idle fidget, conductor's baton. "You look busy."

"You know me," she remarks with a quiet chuckle. "Busy most of the time on purpose. The best way to hold down old memories I don't want to surface very often is to make new ones." Cat's eyes rest on him assessingly, as if she were briefly contemplating again the risk of this perhaps being Arthur come to play and learn what he can, using a false face. Soon, though, she seems either satisfied or to have decided on taking the risk.

"Thanks for coming," she leads in Italian. "There are several things on my mind. One is Edward Ray the Younger, who still hasn't made contact. I'm interested in his thoughts regarding Arthur Petrelli. Last I spoke with Father, with technopathic assistance, he told me he and Mother had been working with him. He was in the grip of Pinehearst, but was freed somehow."

There's a slight unraveling to the ghost's already-relaxed posture, then. A stretch, confined to the cramped parameters of the chair. Click: the cane ends point down to the floor, wolf's head buried in the hollow of his palm, parking, suddenly stationary.

His knuckles push out in sharp angles, an experimental, lazy sort of fidget, and he squints around a smile. "I know you," he replies, presently, in the tone of agreement: it is. "Ray's with me. I got him out the same night I invited Matt and his little baby girl out of the dungeon. If he wants to see you, he either will or he's waiting for an invitation. Do you want me to pass one along?"

"That would be helpful, and soon," Cat answers. "It would be very much an advantage to know what he's cooked up since he last spoke with them, given the unlikelihood he's been in contact with them in some time. Father tells me Arthur had what he believed was the complete formula, but it had been edited in subtle ways only he was able to spot. It thus failed, causing Arthur turning back to Doctor Meier's virus to make a false demo for the Pentagon. This was to have happened on Monday afternoon. It would've caused the test subjects to gain abilities long enough to satisfy his military customers and buy time. Sometime afterward," she grimaces, "the subjects would biologically reject the serum, with the expected consequences." She doesn't elaborate, he knows what that means.

"Mr. Cardinal tells me he has a way to end Arthur's life, but won't share that with me, yet. We will hopefully soon videoconference with Father so he can ask about the viability of it. I'll be there, of course, to learn what I can of his method. From that point we can likely make plans on how to proceed with an endgame versus Arthur. Your aunt gave us useful intel on the interior, as well. There are ways in the architecture of the building doesn't block, and an element of intense concern. The bottom level has a nuclear reactor."

That should be an element of intense concern. Ghost's face doesn't change much as he listens to this review, but then again, the lawyeress probably hadn't expected it to. He inclines his head in ackowledgment of this bullet list of facts, comprehensive, dense but neatly organized. He knows that about her, too.

"I was planning on visiting Arthur myself," he admits, with a lift of his brows. "Give or take a little company and suppression equipment. Heard about Cardinal from the man himself, but the same bullshit vagueness.

'I'm pretty fucking sure it's neither his plan nor '19-Ray's, exactly, but one's using the other to achieve a final objective through means they haven't shared with each other. Fuck knows what's going to come out in the wash, there. Which plan's going to succeed, how they mesh, how many Arthur's going to take with him before someone takes him out.

"Who do you trust?" It may seem haphazard and sudden, this final question, tilted in, jolted forward as if Ghost had been leaning on it awhile, only to overbalance, abruptly, couldn't resist throwing it in there. Don't think he hadn't noticed the fact that he's here.

"I don't trust Adam Monroe, who has offered to help us dispose of Arthur and says he wants to be present, to kill the man himself," Cat begins. "I've counseled Helena to ignore his offer utterly. Whether that remains an option, I don't know," she admits. "This thing may require a Normandy style assault. Storm Pinehearst with just rifles, hoping sheer numbers are enough to overcome defenses and achieve the goal. I believe the best plan is one Gillian offered: to use two teams. One makes a noisy distraction to draw Arthur's attention in going for Gabriel's body while the other goes after him."

"I trust Father, and I trust Edward the Younger in that they were working together. I trust Mr. Cardinal, though it gives me disquiet he won't tell me how he plans to dispatch Arthur."

"Fortunately, we may not need to do this with an assault at all. Hiro Nakamura is back, his talents make it possible to immobilize Arthur and simply remove his head. He'd be on board for two reasons: Peter is at Pinehearst, and Arthur needs to be ended."

"I trust Helena, Gillian, Elisabeth, and you. I trust Eileen Ruskin and Senora Bennati. I don't trust Ethan, but that may have to be set aside."

The man with the cane blinks his eyes a few times. "You're either a selectively poor liar, or as crazy as I am," Ghost observes, dry as she'd been playing at, seconds ago. "Trust me.

"That's sweet." Not stupid, mind you, though praise from the ghost can probably be taken in any number of profoundly unflattering ways. He leans his weight on his left elbow, pushes his shoulder up under his ear, his posture going casually crooked as a delinquent perched upon the stair rail. "Hiro has his ability back? That's pretty fucking good news.

"Last I heard, Arthur doesn't have any kind of temporal manipulation in his catalog. I'm going to settle in and talk to Gabriel soon about what we know for sure he does have, and see what we can come up with from there. That's not a bad plan. I think so, and I don't even like teamwork." The ghost rocks his dark-haired head on its stem.

Angles a glance at the computer monitor nearest Catherine, fleeting curiosity, nothing particularly attentive. "Don't suppose your old man told you it was he and his wife were the ones who dragged me out to Pinehearst to dig up Ray."

"They didn't," she reports. "Your name was mentioned when I asked how to contact Edward Junior, by the technopath, T. Monk." Cat soon turns back to Hiro. "I think we need Hiro now more than ever, the timing couldn't be better. Arthur attacked the lighthouse and got a Brian's ability. He's still alive somehow, despite the attack, and perhaps still able to clone himself, but he was in bad shape. That same depression he goes into when one of him dies. Arthur, from what Gillian tells me, seems fairly good at using multiple abilities when cloned. We may well need to kill not just Arthur, but Arthur and Arthur and Arthur and…"

"Adding to the concern and desire not to make a physical attack if possible is that nuclear reactor. I've been told of two recent precognitive events. Eve dreamt of a large bird blocking out the moon whose feathers fall off to make mushroom clouds. She also heard Kazimir's voice saying the past is prologue. The other is from a musician who seems to write her visions into songs. She wrote with similar imagery, but including beaches on 34th Street and a mention of Munin blocking out the moon. I need to talk with her again. Having Else Kjelstrom looked into showed no connection to the Vanguard, but Senora Bennati says Eileen wasn't the original. Who the original is, she didn't say."

The ghost grimaces, abruptly, at news of the clone ability running rife somewhere within Petrelli's already staggering arsenal. Possibly, the idea of the man attacking children is alarming, also. He spares that a moment's critical consideration, his brows knotting downward, hooding both eyes with token shadows.

He scissors his jaws sideways, teeth clicking and grating teeth with a noise like sea chews on shore. "If I can get within line of sight of one Arthur Petrelli, I should be able to determine how many clones he has active and where they are with respect to Pinehearst at that specific moment. Unfortunate side-effect— he'll know someone's there and looking, and he'll probably come up with a cleverly brutal way to retaliate. Probably telepathic.

"It's a risk I'm willing to take, if we can't come up with anything else, anyway. Might give Hiro enough of an opening to get everybody else into position, if you do honestly plan to summarily kill the man." As if the ghost hasn't been dreaming fondly of that particular prospect for close to a decade. Mind you, watching Gabriel nuke him in the stratosphere the other month was chicken soup for his soul— but his soul's been parched a long while, now. He could probably find a fulfilling fate pursuing the man through a dozen different timelines, being party to Arthur's untimely demise in every incarnation of reality he could survive.

"Mason Chesterfield may be hiding more information from you," Ghost adds. "Something you can use, if for your own good. You might benefit from strapping him into the hot seat for a few minutes at that."

"I do plan to at some point ask him what he knew and when," Cat replies solemnly. "He said the 1984 fire which destroyed the previous version of the serum and killed scientists working on it was a lab disaster. Hiro tells me it was instead an execution ordered by Arthur. Father may not have known, but he may have. I intend to find out. Hiro also tells me the source of Abby's former healing power. He named a man who used to have it, and called it the life Kami. A spirit which passes from body to body across generations. Kazimir, in opposition, hosted what he called the Death Kami."

"And, given those precog stories, Kazimir may raise his head again in some fashion. Eileen said Arthur was after her memories when he attacked. He took her power, and didn't leave her mind a complete blank, so he must've meant to rifle through her brain with telepathy. I have to wonder if he has a clone out there rounding up Vanguard members for something, maybe even impersonating Kazimir. Or knowing just enough to get former members to pick up his ball and run."

"All of that might be unrelated, but… nuclear reactor at the bottom level of Pinehearst."

Yyyyeah. Many pieces. Possibly unrelated. There's a flattening of Ghost's expression, then a sharpening behind his eyes, more the thinking. This is peculiarly, almost painfully familiar to him, this strange conference, held without Helena but disciplined by the strict awareness that this has everything to do with her.

He had, after all, run Phoenix for months with Catherine before and after the siege on Moab failed. They'd grieved together for a few years before he chose to grieve apart. Nostalgia's an iron ball and chain, a clanking and dragging weight, a swinging weapon.

"I don't think Kazimir is related to this instance. He might be," Ghost adds, brow furrowing thoughtfully. "But Cardinal and I met another precog recently: Tamara. She tends to fill her riddles with symbols, and the ones she invoked were reminiscent of the shit we used to tag the Vanguard with. Wolf, a burning raven. She implied this becomes relevant after Arthur. The shit don't stop, but it indicates at least, I guess, that we have a reasonable chance of living to see the next clusterfuck.

"I can't remember anything of my future that I can readily associate with any of this. The premonitions, the Formula's history prior to '09, or the history of Abigail's ability.

"I'll try and let you know if I do." Cooperative, isn't he? By the grace of sweet-smelling oils burning in the room adjacent, maybe. Ghost rolls his head back, swivels his attention out of the doorway. "Who do we know understands how to operate the reactor?"

"No one, at present," Cat replies. "I expect to do some reading soon on such things, but I don't know exactly what type it is. I would have to hope there's some sort of emergency protocol to safely shut the thing down rapidly. People inside would know that answer, none of whom we have access to. Whether or not the events and images in the dream concern before or after Arthur, we can't go wrong in neutralizing that source of possible nuking. I met Tamara myself recently," she tacks on, speculatively. "It would be interesting to meet her again. We'd just begun to speak when Colette turned up and asked for her aid in finding the Ferrymen so she could return Abby's umbrella."

But then that subject is moved away from. Cat has another area of interest. "Tell me about the future you came from. Helena says very little. She only recently said she was dead in that time, and Gillian had married Peter after her death. Beyond that, all I've gotten from her is I've taken up piloting."

Exhale. Fucking nuclear reactor no one fucking knows how to operate except for— "Mason should be able to determine it. Give or take Edward Ray's help. I'll get some phone numbers around or some shit. I don't know of anyone who can manipulate radioactive energy directly.

"Maybe if Canfield was around, we might be able to…" There's a vague, and rather alarmingly haphazard swish of Ghost's free hand through the air, indicative of either a gopher's spastic tunnel action or the idea of the nuclear generator room sucking out into nothing. After a moment, scowling, the ghost discards this notion. Shakes his head, dragging the blunt of nails up the slope of his jaw.

The last question takes its time tearing a smile through his lips, but in the end, smile he does. "Why do you care?"

"There's curiosity," Cat gives as the beginning of her answer, "and more curiosity. If I took up piloting, maybe I'm not so busy having to be a rebel anymore. But, if Helena is dead… what I'd be into depends on the circumstances." This draws out a solemn expression, as if it's something she doesn't really want to think about but still has to. "I also know who I am, and how I think. In my head now are things Teo and I talked about. Building a national presence, having a sympathetic figure to rally public support, branching out beyond operations which are crucial, but do little to change minds and address all the hate which is the basic problem. I've started thinking of essays, even, on the ethics of using powers and how standard law can handle it all. In courts and in the public eye."

"A better question, truthfully, is what does and doesn't go well ideawise."

That conversation was a long time ago now, and even longer ago for the ghost. Still, he remembers enough of it that there's a vanishing wisp of a smile for recollection. "I've always been a pessimist, Cat. It's why Helena was the visionary between the two of us, and why I'm less susceptible to disappointment than your average idealist. Frankly, I think we're already fucked.

"When I come from, Arthur saves the world as we know it. He does this by thinking on the same continuum you do, but the other end. Ideas, manipulation and transmission and most important of all, symbols — but more specifically, symbolic destruction.

"For public gratification, Coliseum-style. The Company is the first to go because every era needs its villain. Angela Petrelli's empire second, to clear the way. Phoenix is the third— for love of martyrs. Humanis First! is the fourth, the coup de grace to the old ideology of fear. Arthur Petrelli kills them all.

"Not because it's just or fucking righteous, any of it, but because it's necessary. Because people need to be led with carrots, sticks, burning crosses, and never a good man."

In the end, Ghost looks strangely drained by saying all of this. A lot of words, a lot of ideas. He's older and more wilted for it, his next breath sucking hollows into his cheeks, some residue of smoldering irritation shifting his fingers on the armrest.

For her part, she too seems stunned. Cat remains silent for some moments, just processing what she heard. "You're saying Arthur helped us, setting us up to be acknowledged, then die to cement the legend? When I met him, when we were just starting to figure out what he was up to, he said he knew who we all were and claimed to want to help us, to advance our causes. But from talking with Father, it quickly became clear he wasn't a path to travel. Hana too warned against Pinehearst, said she'd not work with anyone who helps either them or Primatech. The goal is still to see both firms wiped out. Pinehearst is just the more pressing of the two. The more dangerous."

"Oh, God," she murmurs, "that's how Helena died? Does she know Arthur had her and thirteen others killed, or does she just know she was dead?"

But rather than wait for him to answer, she's seemingly drawing herself back to another topic. "I need to consult with Helena, Cardinal, and Eileen soon. I'll pass on what you've told me, and what you think is possible. Do you have any idea why he's keeping Gabriel's body? By now he has to have extracted all its powers, he must want or need something more or he'd simply have killed it."

"She doesn't know, or not that I've told her," Ghost replies, sitting forward, abruptly, a shift as abrupt and mechanically precise as the flip of a switch. He answers despite the fact that Cat presses onward, almost stubbornly, not in that defensively twitchy way of a man backing into the desperate need to justify his actions, but the insistence of necessitated understanding.

Necessity chnecessity. Ghost hoards those like a dragon his treasure, everybody reduced to toast in front of him. "I didn't want Arthur lifting that out of her head, or anybody else's. And it was two years down the road: the death of Phoenix wouldn't mean anything until fame made it so.

"You should consult with them," he agrees, skewing his weight further forward, onto his feet. He straightens his legs, balances across two feet and the point of the cane. "Eileen's been in knots, 'massing her own little army. If there are nuclear reactors and better alternatives to a physical invasion, she needs to know about them."

"She will," Cat assures. The woman is still stunned, her mind adrift with considerations of things that were forming in her head and the potential worth of them. She still isn't willing to believe it takes martyrdom to advance those ideas. The Founders didn't have to martyr themselves. Gandhi's work was already done when he died. Martin Luther King had already scored major successes before his assassination. It won't require such sacrifice now either.

But the top priority remains Arthur. Defeating the man who would pad a Gestapo with Evolved members and seize power for himself. It brings out the bitter thought to words. "One of the things that bites most in this is Humanis First being partly right. There is a plan afoot to build an Evolved army and take over the government. Those fools just don't realize all they can do is fan the flames and make it look more attractive." Her eyes close, she leans back in the chair for some moments.

"Thank you for coming. I'll be in touch."

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