Martyrdom Is Overrated


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Scene Title Martyrdom is Overrated
Synopsis Cat looks for advice on whether to Register.
Date February 4, 2009

Cat's Penthouse in the Village Renaissance Building

This particular Wednesday morning started out innocuously enough, if you're an operative in a clandestine organization that lately isn't so clandestine, after having a good amount of its members outed to various Federal personnel, one former almost President of the United States, and the man who helped Air Petrelli out the evolved population while leaving himself hidden. Oh, Cat would love to expose that, if she had proof. That causes a thought to form in her mind. Maybe Kinson can somehow be gotten to meet the President and order him to out himself by doing barrel rolls over the nation's capital, then hold a press conference and admit it was him, not some illusionist making it look like him. Or maybe they could find an illusionist and have someone impersonate him… Cat's doing what Cat does as she goes about the morning routine. Get up, have coffee, think, think some more. President Petrelli, friend in prison, fellow members also in prison, the need to get all three of them out, the still unaccounted for members of Phoenix to be found…

She has a copy of the New York Times out on the kitchen table as she sits to enjoy that first cup of coffee, and what she sees there makes her freeze.

Evolved Test-kits announced

Director Everett Hicks of Homeland Security today reported…

The article is read, and as she reads a filtered text message is sent to Officer Elisabeth Harrison. She needs to consult with her.

Replying via text about an hour later, Liz sends back that she'll meet Cat at her place. When she arrives and is let up the elevator, she still looks absolutely exhausted. "Hey," she greets when Cat lets her in. She's wearing jeans today, along with a black wool jacket — her NYPD jacket she left in her locker at work to wear. "What's up?"

She spends the time between her sending the message and Elisabeth's arrival memorizing the rest of the paper's contents, eating breakfast, and easing stress by using her archery target. That's how she's found when the officer is let in; in sports bra and sweats over athletic shoes, bow in one and, arrow and newspaper in the other. Elisabeth's question isn't answered with words. Instead she unfolds the paper and displays the article of concern.

Elisabeth nods slightly. "Yeah… got briefed on it this morning when I hit the precinct," she replies. "Funny how that works, huh? You ask and I say 'oh, no, not that I know of' and then out it comes." She grimaces.

"It's not unexpected," Cat replies. "We'd heard some time ago it was in the pipe, and that people had been abducted for experiments. Logic too says a test was coming, there had to be. Without one, there's no way to enforce the Linderman Act. So here it is, and me all unregistered." She isn't happy, there's a stern look to her features and in her eyes.

Nodding tiredly, Liz says, "Yeah…. I know. I wish I knew what to tell anyone," she says. "What are you going to do?" She's curious about how Cat will view it. "Registering up front has advantages… but I'm not sure how long that'll be the case. And it could take years to have everyone tested." PRactically speaking."

"I'm considering sewing the metaphoric yellow Star of David on my clothing," Cat replies. "I'd not want to get caught unregistered, and I can't discount that the Bar Associations around the country won't insist on attorneys being tested, with discipline and disbarment possible on top of the criminal penalties."

Her eyes close for a moment, and fists clench, almost to her knuckles turning white. "Remember when the only people we treated this way were sex offenders? Not convicted criminals as a general group, just people who got convicted of sex crimes."

But she pulls herself back to practicality, the eyes reopen and her fists relax. "I don't know if I can safely register, Elisabeth."

Elisabeth rubs her forehead and says softly, "Yeah. I remember." Her tone is a bit grim. "Believe me, it gets to me every time I have to think about it." She tilts her head. "Why would you think you can't?"

"It's fairly simple," Cat replies quietly. "If I walk into the Homeland Satan branch, do I walk out with my yellow Star of David, or do I get carted off to Auschwitz? At least one of their agents knows my name and knows exactly what I do. I have to presume my name's in their computers, and as soon as they enter it the cuffs come out. It's not just Parkman," she relates, "there was an encounter with Company agents last fall. Petrelli and Woods. Woods thought Helena was Sylar, he called for backup and was going to darkhole us both, until Stormy made it get very windy. You might remember it, there was damage to the lobby of Dorchester Towers from what they called freak winds. We escaped, but there has to be a file with my name on it, and it's reasonable to think they shared it with their Homeland Satan handlers."

Listening thoughtfully, Liz asks, "Do you know for sure that your name was turned in or that you were identified? My instinct here would be that *if* they know who you are, they're gonna knock on your door at some point. But if they don't… it's possible you could just walk in. I can't tell you what to do on this, though, Cat. I have no idea what DHS is going to do about people. The report says there won't be repercussions, but if they have you on a watch list…. don't you think they'd have already come?"

"I don't know if they'd have me on a list regarding the encounter with Woods," Cat admits. "And they could've come, this is true. But the Parkman variable remains. I don't know what he'd have told his agency about me. I don't know what would happen if he sees me again, as to my door being knocked on, of them coming for me, they don't know my address. Not this one, anyway, and they won't. Far as the world is concerned, Doctor Catherine Chesterfield lives in apartment 101, Dorchester Towers, and will continue to reside there."

Elisabeth crosses her arms, leaning against Cat's wall. "Cat…. it's not paranoia when they're really out to get you. The trick here is that while I'm not entirely convinced Parkman can be trusted, I am also not ENTIRELY convinced that he can't. He knows who I am, I conversed with him at the library. He knows where to find me. If Homeland wanted to pick everyone up, all they had to do was tail me — hell, if they wanted any of us, all Parkman had to do was tell them where we were hiding after he and Rickham left. So… my gut says that even if Parkman won't go out of his way to HELP any of us, he's also not going to go out of his way to fuck with us either. I don't have access to DHS files, I can't tell you what he may or may not have put in his reports, if anything. It's a toss-up. And you're going to have to take a chance one way or the other."

She's thinking as she listens, and coming up with something of a plan. "It could be possible for him to be let believe I might be somewhere at a particular time, and me not be there, but able to learn later if anyone just happened to show up at that same time." Cat watches to see Elisabeth's reaction to the idea as she moves along.

"I can't be captured," she states somberly. "Teo and I talked about what happened, he wants me to be nice if Brian… not if, when Brian comes at me for running away. I told him straight up what happened, and said if I knew Brian or Al would prefer being shot over capture, I'd have done that." A deep and slow breath is taken.

"I also told him that with all I have in my head, if it looks like I'm going to get taken and there's nothing else for it, I should be shot in the brain."

Elisabeth rubs her head. "I don't know what to say, Cat. I don't believe that martyring ourselves fighting DHS is going to change a single damn thing. No one will even know what you're fighting for. Martyring yourself, like Wozniak did, to stop that virus? That I can get behind and accept. It makes sense. Letting yourself get shot in the head just because you know who people are when it comes to fighting against encroachment on civil liberties….? Not so much with that program."

"I'm not in favor of dying," Cat asserts, "but I'm also not in favor of me being taken in causing the whole thing to get rolled up. I basically said that's what should happen. Not that I want it to happen, or don't, just that it should. The mission comes first. Keeping the others safe comes first." She hopes that makes sense as she studies the blonde's face in silence after speaking.

"The whole point of what we do is to fight back against injustice, Cat," Elisabeth finally says. "At least that's why I came in. Because there are things going on, people being wronged — both criminals and regular people alike — just for an accident of birth. I consider myself a patriot. If that means that when the time comes that I get caught by those assholes — who are also essentially just cops trying to do their jobs to the best of their abilities and who have no say in what laws are actually made except that they vote for Congressmen and Senators and Presidents — I go to jail? Well…. I knowingly broke the law. A law I don't agree with, that I don't believe is constitutional, but it's still the law and knowingly breaking it has punishments attached." She hesitates.

"I see us fighting people like Volken, and I'm proud to be part of this. I see us freeing Evolved citizens who've done *nothing* wrong except that they have a power that someone in the government has randomly decided is too powerful and they're treating like Typhoid Mary and incarcerated for the "good of the people"," air quotes are included, "I'm willing to fight them on a resistance level. Letting myself be shot in the brain because I have names they want or because I know the locations of things? That just seems stupid to me." Elisabeth shrugs. "Take the opinion for what it's worth… which is probably next to nothing."

A slight smile spreads out across her lips. "It's reassuring to be told I'm more valuable than the risk of someone getting what's in my brain," Cat replies. "I'll only say that I knew the risks when I came aboard, and what will happen will happen. If I go down, I go down. Cold decisions have to be made sometimes, and I don't consider myself or my life above that fact. Can't have people thinking I'll just bolt at the sign of trouble." Hoping that much at least is understood, she leaves the topic behind.

"Registration: If I don't, I could stay here and never go out, have things brought to me, be a recluse, but if I do that I'm not able to do much of anything for anyone lest I get tested and locked up, which I would effectively be anyway. It's a nicer prison, but it would still be a prison. Or I could take the risk of getting locked into the nastier prison, and act to keep myself as free as possible. No middle ground: prison all the way or freedom all the way. You estimate the climate and evidence says I shouldn't worry about being grabbed if I go in to register?"

Elisabeth considers the question. "At this moment, I'd have to say that they'd have already moved on you if they were going to. Especially in the aftermath of last week, Cat. Besides which, when you go in to test, they're going to learn that your ability is entirely passive — no explosions, no doing anything that's the least bit objectionable. You're a human encyclopedia due to an overdeveloped case of photographic memory. Sure, you *could* be paired up with other powers and be a threat to someone, somewhere. But in the current climate? I just don't see it." She glances at Cat. "You'd be listed at Tier 0, easily. Same as Sergei and every other passive power that I know of. Now… whether someone wants to LEAN on you to work for them? That's entirely different."

"How secure is the registry and the data in it?" Cat asks. "Could you get me access to it?" She's weighing it, and seemingly coming down more and more on the side of registering.

Elisabeth shrugs a little. "I probably can't. Law enforcement officials have access to it. The only information posted anywhere publicly about Tier 0 is how many exist in each zip code. Tier 1 has more information posted — names, addresses, and such. Tier 2, they post every bit of information they have." She grimaces at that. "In truth, Cat, the only reason I registered was because I expected that I'd need to use my abilities out there. And in fact, it's turned out well for me thus far. Aside from some nastiness in the precinct itself and some assorted bigotry in various places. It could be months or years, though, before they actually manage to roll out the tests for everyone — and even then, people are going to be in court all over the place with lawsuits. Accusing employers of firing them or laying them off cuz their Evolved and voluntarily registered, all that crap. I don't see how they're going to actually get a mandatory 'we will test every person in the US' kind of law passed. If you do no crime and have no reason to be tested, doctors shouldn't be testing it without your consent. But hell… what do I know?"

"My main concern is the legal profession, whether or not we'd be expected as officers of the court to demonstrate compliance with the law and/or nothing to hide by taking the tests. It also depends on what form the tests take, if they have to be administered by drawing blood, or if they can be used in the field easily. If they're easy use, people can be tested without knowing it happens. Someone finishes a cup of coffee, throws the empty away, it gets picked up as that person goes on and the dna is tested. But," Cat agrees, there is a bit of time. I wonder what Wireless can learn about how it works."

"I'll pass on what I know as soon as I have specifics, but it really only got sprung on us this morning ourselves, Cat." Liz sighs quietly. "Whatever you decide, I'll be behind you, okay? But I can't begin to give you any kind of an opinion on whether you should or shouldn't."

"For more purposes than my own," Cat opines, "we need to learn as much as we can. Figure out how it works, how to get around it, everything." Mischief appears in her eyes as she speaks. "Testing doesn't cancel the idea I had about bogging the system down with false claims. We could find a way to load them with people making false claims still, they'd have to take the time testing them all."

Elisabeth chuckles. "THat is still valid enough, yes," she admits. "But I think you should clear it through Teo, see what he wants to do. I believe Alex and Helena and Brian are his priority right now… though to be quite frank… I'm not sure we've got any recourse in those cases," she says quietly. "Cat…," Whatever she was about to say gets cut off by her cell phone, and she checks it briefly. "I need to get back to work. Call me later and we'll talk more, okay?" She's not trying to evade talking to Cat, and she says with a small smile, "I can't let them think ANYTHING is up at this point. Let me know if you want to talk out your thoughts more."

"Thanks for the sounding board, Elisabeth," Cat replies, as the officer makes her way out.

February 4th: Number Thirty-One
February 4th: Family Friends
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