Life And Death Kami


cat_icon.gif hiro_icon.gif

Scene Title Life And Death Kami
Synopsis Hiro visits Cat.
Date July 7, 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.

She's alone here as the hour passes nine in the morning, seated at her kitchen table in clothing meant for sleep. Coffee is at hand along with steak and eggs, there's also orange juice. Current issues being faced are pushed from Cat's mind, she's taking this time to enjoy the meal and commit the contents of the New York Times to memory. Page by page she goes, between forkfuls of the breakfast and imbibing the liquids before her. It's a daily exercise, at the current moment she's exploring the arts and society section in search of up and coming rock musicians.

Mention of one such person causes Cat to lift her eyes from the page and focus ahead in the way she does when replaying a memory. A smile comes to her face as she recalls the crowd, the way they thrashed around wildly as she prowled the stage providing them with punk rock. It's the Clash her guitar emits, Rock The Casbah. And her eyes settle on the table she kept reserved for her use during breaks, where for this particular performance Helena and a man perhaps twice her age and then some are present. Without emerging from the recollection, she speaks three quiet words.

"Thank you, Conrad."

"Who's Conrad?" asks a familiar voice from around a wall's corner. It has a bemused manner to it, like he knows he's being intentionally tricksome. The owner of the voice reveals himself to be Hiro as he steps around that corner and leans against it, arms crossed. No sword, but the coat and garb are pretty much identical to the last time he was seen. Seems a bit rude to invite oneself closer (or to the table), although he seems to never have trouble inviting himself into her home.

The voice is recognized, the sound of it draws her out of the mnemonic journey to late 2008. Cat's head moves, but she doesn't turn toward the man. It does draw a solemn reply. "Conrad Wozniak." Then she rises from the table, features shifting into a smile. "It's good to see you again, Hiro," she offers. The question of his abilities is on her mind, but she refrains from asking it. The fact he at one moment was elsewhere and the next had commenced to be here tells her that problem has been addressed.

But at the same time she remembers another thing of concern. Is this really Hiro Nakamura? The possibility it could be someone sinister using his face is all too well known. "How much did you once owe a store in Tokyo, after having needed to obtain something from them in an irregular way?"

Hiro's features go into a thoughtful frown at the question. "Uhm." He hesitates. Gosh, so much has happened. There's no way Cat could know from his perspective. He holds up a finger and says, "Do you mean the two jump drives I took from them? I don't remember right now…hold on."

And he's gone. Just like that. And a heartbeat later back and walking BACK around the corner, "Forty thousand yen." he says. "Was that a test?"

"It was," she replies quietly, with relief coming to her features. "Unfortunately needed, Hiro. A very dangerous adversary has the ability to steal powers from others, and one of them is showing false faces." Cat scowls briefly with the thought of it, this seems very personal to her. "Life here has been busy, as ever," she adds. An understatement if ever there was one.

"You mean Arthur Petrelli." agrees Hiro, inviting himself to the table now by pulling a chair out and spinning it around to sit in it backward, chest to chairback. He leans forward and looks at Cat. "How've you been?" he asks with gentle concern, the kind one offers a friend.

As he takes the seat, she remains standing long enough to get a glass for orange juice and a mug for coffee. This is filled with the dark liquid and placed before him, then the picture of orange juice is brought over. If he wishes, Cat might even have more steak and eggs.

"That's him," she confirms quietly. "Father was, is, assisting us with gathering information from the inside. Once I contacted him and he told me things were dangerous, I should leave the city. So I arranged to meet him at the house in Hartford the next day. It was Arthur that showed up, impersonating him, and when I agreed to help Father against him my reward was having my ability ripped away, being thrown out the second floor window, and left there as the house burned."

"Since then I've had myself repaired and gotten back into contact with him through a technopath. How am I?" She lets out a quiet chuckle. "Busy as ever, staring at seemingly impossible tasks and thinking of how to pull them off. Yourself, Hiro?"

"Glad to be back." deadpans Hiro in a voice that speaks to the opposite. Like he finds being 'back' to be rather less savory than he'd like. He takes the offered coffee and smells it briefly. Because coffee smell is half the point of the drink. "I learned things. And I have my half of the Formula. And I know how to make it whole. But there's a decision to make about the Formula as well as…something else." He frowns and looks distant. "My father is dead, killed by Adam Monroe. And I have things I want to tell you, because you remember." His eyes glance to her. "That must've been hard, not remembering." Only then does he sip the coffee.

"I know," Cat replies quietly. "I read of it in the news, I sent messages of support, but hadn't heard from you in all this time." Understanding settles on her features, in her eyes. She knows the pain of loss so very well. "I was effectively nineteen again, Hiro. Seven years of information became nothing more than bits and pieces I couldn't access well. Helena and some others found me in Hartford when the technopath picked up on the house fire, brought me back here. Very confusing. I had a driver's license and a car which didn't look like any model I recognized, the photo was me seven years older."

She lets out a quiet laugh as her seat is retaken. "I remember the look on my face when I saw myself in a mirror, the proof I really was twenty-six suddenly. A few days later I was taken to a woman called Delphine who set things right. I'd offer to take you to her, but… you don't need that anymore."

That line of conversation piques Hiro's interest visibly. He looks at Cat a little sideways and says slyly, "No. I took my power back on my own." Let that percolate in whatever way it needs to. "So this Delphine person can undo Case's power switching ability? That's good. Good to know." He sets the coffee mug down and adds, "I'm sorry I missed that. Getting to see you as you were at age nineteen. Although I guess I could if I wanted to, that's…there are all sorts of good reasons not to do that sort of thing."

It does percolate in, Hiro's confirmation of what his having commenced to be here tells. "Does that mean," Cat wonders, "Nathan did the same?" Her head shakes, she lets that go. "Delphine does, yes. Her ability is to set things back as they should be, genetically. Tyler Case was busy here as well, several people were struck. Some of them have been set right, others have been told and will come in their own time. One of them, though…" It's puzzling. "The healer, Abby, hers was taken but when Delphine tried to restore it she said there was nothing to fix. Her body never should've had one."

"It's good you have your half of the formula," Cat states. "Arthur doesn't have it, Father says, confirmed by other sources. He told me it's been edited so subtly no one else but him could tell. The lack of it put Arthur in a bind, he had a demonstration to make yesterday, so he decided to use a failed version for the display. One that would give the subject an ability long enough to satisfy the Pentagon people he can boost the ranks of Frontline. Sometime afterward, though, the person will biologically reject the serum. It causes extreme cell damage."

"It makes the person simply melt."

"That's because I don't think Abby was ever truly Evolved, Cat." reveals Hiro with a solemn voice. "That's one of the things I wanted to talk to you about. I want you to know." He waves a hand at the talk of the Formula and Frontline. "Listen. About Abby. How much did you understand about Kazimir Volken?"

"The earliest record we found on him was from the Second War, he was one of the Nazis," Cat begins. "We estimated he was older than 100 years, able to literally suck the life out of people and reduce them to dust. He could also possess others, he did this to an FBI agent called Richard Santiago and later to Gabriel Gray. His organization, the Vanguard, had hundreds of members around the world and quite a few assets. We at first believed he intended to eliminate people with abilities, but later learned the virus would kill ninety percent of humanity. Our suspicions started when one of his operatives bragged about a flood. Given his Nazi past, it made me think in biblical terms."

"There was something about her ability which was poisonous to him, anathema. She literally healed him off the face of the earth."

"Good. Then you understand half of the story already." asserts Hiro. He takes another sip of coffee. "Kazimir Volken was not a real man. Or, I don't think he was anyway. He, or it, was more like a spirit. I think of it as the Death Kami. I met him with his old body, the German one, as he was vivisecting a man named Francis Allen. Or Francois Alleynde, I think it was. I may have the last name wrong." His eyes lock on Cat's then and he reveals, "Francois was the host of the Life Kami. The opposite force of Volken. Like Volken it crosses generations and possesses new people. Unlike Volken it's a thing of goodness and light, and doesn't seem to overwrite the personality of its host. So no, I don't think Abby was ever truly Evolved at all."

Her eyes don't blink when he locks with them, she's listening and recording intently. "That's intriguing," Cat replies. She'll have to look up and read about kamis later, what religion the word comes from, anything she can find. Buddhism, Shinto? One or the other, given the source, she believes. "Tyler Case took it from her, and placed it in the body of Flint Deckard. Abby and Mr. Deckard are fairly opposite themselves. She's a young religious woman, he's a hard drinking and grizzled man probably more than two and a half times her age. An arms dealer at that, who used to have x-ray vision."

"I….would be willing to bet," begins Hiro carefully, "that it only went where it wanted to go. Abby is a devout young lady. And she believes that her gift came from God. I think she was actually right, in a way that may not be entirely what it sounds like." He frowns momentarily and fishes a cell phone out of his back pocket, flipping it open and reading a text message on it distractedly. "I had a lot of time to think it over. How this all falls into place. It's possible that at some time in the past there were Evolved people who somehow transferred their consciousness into these kami and have just carried over all these generations. If we could find a way to get in contact with the Life Kami itself, and not just its host…maybe we could learn something new."

"So," Cat replies, her head tilting to one side, "you believe when Tyler pulled it out of Abby, it went into Deckard of its own accord? If that's so, I have to wonder if the kami itself may be working on Deckard. Abby said he refuses to see Delphine and have himself made right until Abby has her ability back. He's so very much not the sort who'd want to have and use an altruistic ability such as this. But he does. When I was taken to him after Arthur's attack to have cuts from going through the window and a broken arm repaired, the man actually refused payment for services."

There's silence for a short time, she composes her thoughts before resuming.

"Abby and I don't agree on religion. When she couldn't be given the ability back by Delphine, she saw it as more evidence God's favor had passed on. I'd apply a more scientific explanation. It made me wonder if perhaps she was given a synthetic ability by means of the formula. Father told me, when I was directed toward him to learn about Arthur and Pinehearst, I'd been adopted as a child. That my bioparents were two researchers with Primatech who worked on the formula, and I'd been injected with it as an infant. Manifestation didn't come until age nineteen. The bioparents, I was told, died in a lab fire which destroyed all stocks of the serum. Afterward, at the suggestion of Charles Deveaux, the Chesterfields took me and raised me with the name of their own deceased infant. They just slotted me into their lives and went on as if their own daughter hadn't died."

"Abby's situation made me wonder if that story had been false, if I hadn't truly been given the serum. If Abby had been an injectee, that would explain her result from Delphine. Her genetics wouldn't have originally had the Suresh Linkage Complex, and thus not be alterable that way.

But," she admits quietly, "I also couldn't disprove a spiritual link."

Something Cat just said makes Hiro's face go pale. "Catherine, I'm sorry. I never knew…" Probably about her parents.

"It's okay," Cat tells him with a slight smile forming. "I'm tougher than that. It seems surreal, really, the whole story. I never knew them, being so young. In my head, the only parents I've known are Mason and Jennifer Chesterfield. And the ability, whether naturally gained or from a needle, is still mine. Blessing and curse both."

"My theory that the story Father told me, which Arthur confirmed when I met him the first time, seemed false after what happened with Abby, but now it seems true again. In Pinehearst, when I went there, I was able to see a small part of a database with names. They could have been adopted as I was, given the formula as children, or both. Maybe some are both and some aren't."

One hand reaches out to rest atop his, if he'll allow the contact. "They're on the inside with Arthur. Father says he's gone mad and is no longer willing to help him achieve his goals. He will help as best he can with blocking them. When the time comes to stop Arthur, my intention is to get them out too." Her eyes and face are very serious there.

Hiro's not going to just stop the contact for no reason. In fact he turns it into contact of his own, listening to Cat's words and nodding intently, listening to her. But his hand grips Cat's and he looks at her. "Listen. This doesn't change anything but you deserve to know. Your birth parents didn't die in any accident. That fire was intentionally set. They were murdered." Really as he said, it changes nothing.

Her face hardens, Cat doesn't object to her hand being gripped. Hiro is watched intently. "I sense a story here," she remarks, afterward going silent to hear it.

There is a story, of course. There's always a story. A whole web of stories. But Hiro says only, "The Formula was the end result of decades of research and failed attempts. In the end Arthur Petrelli decided it shouldn't be used, so in the late eighties he had the researchers involved in it rounded up and killed in a faked accident. The fire, explosion, whatever you want to call it. Your birth parents were some of those researchers. They had a hand in making the Formula. My birthright." God what a heavy phrase that is becoming.

She flinches, but her hands remains steady, it doesn't seem to strike her that deeply, or come as a surprise. "I knew they were with Primatech then, Father told me they'd worked on the project. He said they left Primatech sometime after that, they'd been away more than a decade when Arthur brought them on board for his current attempt to revive the serum. But he didn't tell me the fire and the people dying in it was arranged. This raises a new question: Do they or do they not know the full truth?" By the look in her eyes, Cat intends to ask them. "All in all, though, it doesn't surprise me, Hiro. Primatech's crimes are many and historic. One of their agents managed to get documents out of there, nearly being shot in the head while trying. I'll show you all of them. The dirty ones are Adam Monroe, Arthur, Angela Petrelli, and Daniel Linderman."

The time traveller's eyes remain fixed on Cat's as he nods his head slowly. He lets go of her hand after one brief squeeze and says, "I'd like to see that. There are some other names that ought to be in that file, but they didn't live to make it this far. The truth is, one of those names ought to be Kaito Nakamura." The way he says that, it drips with shame.

"I know," Cat replies understandingly. "Father told me after the stocks of serum were destroyed, your father ordered the formula for it locked away. Arthur sent Adam to Tokyo to retrieve it." This much she said in her messages prior to the murder. "There are documents in the files, also, which speak of Primatech having created the Shanti virus, and Adam Monroe being locked away for thirty years after he tried to release it. The order was given by your father. He seems the most honorable of them."

"About Pinehearst, too," she broaches quietly, "Arthur has become very powerful by stealing abilities. He touches someone, and it feels like the heart being torn from the chest. A silhouette of the person moves toward him, and the deed is done." She saw and felt it. He can regenerate, he stole that from his own granddaughter. He can make clones of himself. He's telepathic, from Matt Parkman, and has Molly's ability too. Matt's father works for him. Claire is staying with Abby now, the last I heard. We're getting her to Delphine as soon as we can, and made the same offer to Matt." But then she goes quiet, making eye contact again. This is the part she thinks may strike Hiro hardest.

"Peter Petrelli is at Pinehearst. Arthur stripped away his abilities and messed with his memories."

"Peter's also been injured and is in a wheelchair."

The news of Peter makes Hiro frown darkly. He looks down at the coffee mug and watches the dark liquid within as if it might be a scrying bowl to answers. Good luck with that. "Claire. Does she still have the Catalyst? Or did Arthur extract it from her?" He's sure he knows the answer to that.

"The catalyst…" Cat breathes out slowly. She hadn't known it was in Claire, but it makes sense, and if it were in her it would've been taken when he took her regeneration too. Thinking of it now, she realizes Arthur must have it. If he didn't, the formula itself having been edited wouldn't be an issue. They'd never have gotten as far as a testable version which failed due to that corruption. When she speaks, it's to share that thought process and conclusion with Hiro.

That's the answer Hiro expected all right. "Well. I have the complete other half. The part that'll make it work. In fact," he holds up his phone, still out, "I have to go see someone about that right now. And then I get to decide whether I ought to destroy it forever." That's his cue to rise from the chair. "Thank you for the coffee."

"You're welcome," Cat replies. "Stay in touch, I'll have the documents on Primatech for you, and all we have on Pinehearst too. It may not be long before it's time to move on Arthur, forces are gathering, and there's so much to share. I've a conference later with Father, one of our allies, and a technopath to ask about the viability of a way to kill Arthur."

"Take care," she advises, expecting he will within moments cease to be here.

True to expectations, Hiro apparently intends to do just that. But before he does he walks past Cat and puts a hand on her shoulder as he says, "We're all more closely linked in this than we knew. But I want you know I'll never give up. I'm always going to be on this side of the fight." He takes the hand away and walks toward the doorway out, fading out of view mid-step into that space between clock-ticks.

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