Like The Odessa File


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Scene Title Like The Odessa File
Synopsis Information is provided and analyzed.
Date December 17, 2008

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

The things she asked Hana for take time, and such was allowed for the technopath to work, especially given that part of the project may have involved physically going to Dorchester Towers and gaining possession of video camera footage for the night of their abduction. She isn't certain yet if success has been achieved on all fronts, but it may have been. So a message was sent out an hour or so after she woke… well, okay, after she woke for the fifth time. Sleep's not something she's been able to stay in so well lately. The message said she's at the Phoenix headquarters. The contact was made by instant message from the terminal where Cat now sits.

Appearing in person is a different prospect than replying electronically. The latter took mere seconds, no more than a thought, informing Cat her message was received and that the technopath would be along shortly. The actual arrival involves travel time, but not overly much of it. Hana doesn't ask for directions when she arrives; just as well, since most people are asleep; the sparse population of waking Phoenix members are less aware of one another's locations. She starts by looking for the computer from which the message was sent, to which her reply was directed — and needs look no further. "Cat." Not Catherine, this time.

She's there, casually dressed. Jeans, athletic shoes, hooded sweatshirt in the colors of her alma mater and the word Yale across the front. A backpack is by one foot, and a guitar case which is open near the other. The instrument it held is in her hands, an acoustic model. Fingers hold a pick, but she isn't playing. Cat's just holding the thing.

It's set aside when Hana arrives and draws attention with her voice, the woman quietly saying "It just doesn't sound right now, even though it's in tune." She puts it away and speaks a greeting. "Morning. Thank you for coming out."

"You're welcome," Hana replies, as she continues walking, coming to a comfortable distance and then pausing. This being a more normal meeting than their last, she's dressed in her typical all-purpose garb, in its usual dark tones. Reaching into her jacket, the technopath produces three slim jewel cases, the discs within neatly labeled with only two things: 'Cat' and the dates of video they cover. The abduction, half a day after, a day and a half prior. "If this isn't enough, it'll be easy enough to get others," Hana remarks, just a touch of disdain lurking deep within an otherwise normal, casual tone.

"Thank you," she says, her fingers closing around the discs and accepting them. Her mood shifts a bit, the evidence of wallowing lessens and her eyes turn back to the screen, where she has the Catabase up and the tab for Kazimir Volken et al open. Being busy, it seems, is therapeutic for the one who remembers so much. Activity, after all, keeps the mind from calling up memories and guilt. "Richard Santiago," she recalls, preparing to enter that as an alias for the man.

"Yes," Hana agrees. She tilts her head, looking at the computer screen — it's relatively rare that Wireless actually contrasts what she perceives with how everyone else interacts with computers. She waits for Cat to type in that alias — and then more text writes itself underneath, by technopath's magic. Everything that Hana was able to attach to that alias.

The (now defunct) accounts with a Russian satellite-phone company. Purchases of military hardware. Ownership of a decommissioned missile silo in Nevada. Properties in the western US and in Europe. Recent purchases of hazmat suits, mortars capable of dispersing a biological agent, refrigeration units. The lack of purchase of any actual traditional biological agent. The deed to a warehouse in Providence, Rhode Island. Two cargo ships purchased from Brazil in 1997. Connections with Mexican drug-runners and pirates. A great deal of money — more than the GDP of quite a few small countries — once held by Swedish banks on his behalf. Then there's the historical data — Richard Santiago the FBI agent, and Kazimir Volken the Nazi scientist. Details there, however, are markedly less profuse.

She watches as the information appears in the record before her, and reads it. Her eyes widen at what's seen. "He's a Nazi… Of course, that explains the genocide angle. This bastard wants to pick up where his asshole Fuhrer was stopped. But… the target is us. He didn't buy any agent, so… the plan must involve stealing it, or making his own. Maybe both. Steal some, incubate more."

"Presumably," Hana agrees. "I don't know what that 'agent' would be… but I'm going to find out," the technopath promises grimly, her expression set, dark eyes glinting. "Manufacture, at least. He probably has the equipment for it; I doubt I've more than scratched the surface."

"This almost reads like someone trying to bring some spy thriller to life. Like the Odessa File, or the Boys From Brazil. Scattered Nazis around the world trying to restore the alleged glory of Hitler. He… he has to be at least eighty-two years old. If a person joined the armed forces at the war's end in 1945, at the legal age of 18, that's the age he'd be now. But, since this one was a scientist, he was possibly somewhere between thirty and forty. Ninety-five seems a good age to guess. Is he the leader, or is it Ethan?" Cat's mind is at work. "The Flood is a plan to set up some version of a Nazified world, run by him as Fuhrer, I'd guess. To bring that about, what would he need to pull off, above and beyond release of some biological agent?"

"Is it a plan for world control — or is it simply a cleansing, as the Flood of Noah was? We can't know." Not without more information that they simply don't have. Hana takes a step back. "Are they all Nazis? Unlikely, given the spread of his contacts; most are probably dupes, mercenaries, unknowing and uncaring. Some, perhaps, follow that creed. What did you think of Ethan?"

"Ethan is a sadist," Cat replies. "He's got no qualms with torturing or killing. When I was captive, he first said the rules would be no games, among other things, but then he proceeded to play a game. One of the rules was any answer he didn't like would get the other person injured. Not that false answers would be punished, just answers he didn't like. Not surprising, really. People who claim not to like games actually do, they just like being the person in charge, setting the rules. He asked me if I was smarter than him, and I gave a stoic answer: I didn't know, but I was his captive, so the evidence wasn't in my favor. He didn't like the answer, and kicked Dani."

Her fists clench, the knuckles go white as she speaks, it's clear she's pulling the whole experience up and replaying it in the mind's eye. "It was then I decided neither of us would ever be let go. That he'd torture to learn what he could, and kill us both." Her voice trails off into a silence which lasts long seconds, followed by a calm question. "Hana, if you have in your clutches, operationally, a woman who never forgets, and you torture her lover, do you ever let her go?"

Hana regards Cat levelly, the slight flare of her nostrils the only indication that the other woman's words affect her at all. "I wouldn't torture the lover in the first place." It's not really a moral objection — she just doesn't have the patience or the sadism necessary to indulge in torture. Beat information out of someone, yes, but there's a subtle and key difference between those. "But I know what you're asking. No. You don't leave that kind of loose end free."

"That's why I'm smarter than he is," Cat states. "I made my peace with dying. He should have killed me. He didn't. I would like to kill him, I really would. If the opportunity exists, I'll take it. You might, given my personal involvement, suspect I can't be trusted, that I might put vengeance first. I won't. Tearing this house down, that's the priority. We could simply kill Ethan, take out Kazimir, on the theory if you cut off the snake's head the rest withers and dies, but… no. Volken thinks big. He has to have thought of that and shared his ideas with someone. More than one person, probably, to continue if he falls."

"So… let's start with the Nazis. It was the 1930s, there was a worldwide depression, Germany's economy was in the toilet. It created the kind of desperation which helped Hitler become Chancellor, aided by Nazi thugs in brown shirts attacking people who opposed them…"

"No," the ex-operative corrects calmly. "I'm not concerned." She doesn't explain why, just lets that statement stand on its own. Hana folds her arms across her chest as Cat begins to pontificate, a hint of impatience creeping into the Israeli woman's expression. But she is still listening. For the moment.

The impatience is spotted, and Cat's relating of history cuts short. Hana went to school, she studied these things, no need to go over it all. "It was an unstable situation. To enact his plan, then, he probably wants to create the same conditions. Murders of people found dessicated to stoke fear of the evolved, maybe hijack the name of factions and do things to shock and horrify, spread fear…" While doing this, she takes one of the discs, puts it in the drive, and plays the abduction time frame.

Hana would be impatient even if she hadn't had some familiarity with the Nazis. She watches as Cat puts in the disc — a copy, of course, with the originals having been returned to their place in Dorchester — observing the abduction recording in her own fashion. "Do you need me for anything else?" the technopath asks. Not intending any discourtesy, just being her usual self.

"Not right now," Cat replies, as she watches the footage of the man creating the disturbance which prompted her to open the door and let in both Ethan and Odessa, the man's departure… "I'll just be brainstorming, working over Volken's game in my head, and later seeing if I can learn what apartment if any there Ethan lives in. Thank you, Hana."

Good. If Cat starts lecturing again, Hana doesn't have to be here. There are other uses for her time. The technopath nods once. "You're welcome," she replies, as she often does; then she retraces her path out of the room and the building at large.

Any additional notes fall to the bottom.

December 17th: Finder's Fee

Previously in this storyline…
Put Your Foot Down

Next in this storyline…
How Not to Eavesdrop

December 17th: Timelagged
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