Never Quite Over


cat_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Never Quite Over
Synopsis Russian tormenters, brewing problems, impending natural disasters, research projects, and food.
Date February 7, 2010

The Verb, 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.

Approaching 13:00, Cat made a call asking the Frontliner to drop by. Then she set about acquiring food, choosing Piccoli's as the source, and set up a few things in the entertainment area. CBS programming is on, part of the marathon run-up to Super Bowl 44.

Half an hour, in the Verb's lobby, a courier from Alley Cat's original location, who has no idea the recipient is his overall boss, walks up to the front desk with two decent sized bags from the Italian deli. He looks at the package, reads the name, and speaks up. "I'm looking for a Doctor Chesterfield, says she lives in the penthouse, I'm supposed to check in here." A man behind the desk in a golf shirt marked with a Verb logo answers him. "I'll let her know." He picks up the phone.

Unknown to both of them, Cat is expecting the arrival of both food and Elisabeth about that same time, she's thus in the security monitoring room watching people as they enter and exit so she'll know when they turn up.

In point of fact, Elisabeth is not far behind the delivery guy at all. She hears the order and waves to the guard. "Don't worry about it, I'll take it up with me," she tells him with a smile. Not like she's a stranger around here. Tipping the delivery guy, she takes the bags and heads for the elevator, expecting Cat to be expecting her. When she steps off, wearing a pair of jeans and a heavy black hooded sweatshirt, she glances around briefly and heads for the kitchen/dining area.

"I love it when things time up perfectly," the one who fails to forget remarks to the wall with a chuckle. Cat gets up and heads elsewhere on the spacious top floor. When the elevator arrives at the Penthouse and Elisabeth enters, a voice seeks to interrupt her path to the kitchen/dining area. It comes from the entertainment room with the massive HD set. "Over here," she calls out, gesturing inside to where a small refrigerator holds various beverages and condiments, among other things. The door is opened, she takes out two bottles of Guinness Stout, one of them offered toward the blonde.

The CBS studio crew go on talking about various facets of the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints.

Altering her path, Elisabeth brings the food with her to the entertainment room. She looks a bit tired, as if she's not quite gotten enough sleep. "No, thanks. A soda'll be fine," she tells Cat quietly. "So what's up, lady?" Setting the bags on an end table, Liz looks around the room quietly, not paying any attention to the pregame show.

The door re-opens, one stout being exchanged for a twenty-ounce Pepsi which is handed over after she closes the cooler with a movement of her backside. "A few things," Cat answers on the way to examine the food and ensure the order was correctly filled. "First, there's eating good food, then business. I spoke to Abby not long ago, today, after hearing some things on the Ferry's grapevine. And yesterday I had a meeting with John Logan." In reporting that, her eyes rest on a folder obtained from him.

A brow slides upward on her forehead as Elisabeth peeks into the bags and takes the sandwich that Cat proffers as hers along with the Pepsi. Instead of sitting on the couch, she takes a seat on the floor in front of the coffee table and settles in. "Logan, huh? What the hell for?" She doesn't open the sandwich yet, apparently preferring to at least begin chatting now. "I just saw Abby Tuesday — I grabbed my old partner to have him see if he could get assigned to Tanya's murder case, too."

"Ran into Logan on the way to tackle the Nightmare Pussy again," Cat relates, "he recognized me as connected to Helena from the classroom thing Hokuto conducted in dreamscape, and said he had information for me. So I met with him, and he gave up data on a major stockpile of Refrain. Names, place… Said he has no desire to see the stuff make it beyond New York and help the entity follow it out across the country. I didn't commit to anything direct, plausible deniability remains for both of us, but I think the drug stash will soon fall to a weird natural disaster. Or…" she pauses, "the people watching over the stuff may suddenly decide they hate it with a fiery passion and smash it all themselves."

"Now, as to Abby," Cat goes on to say, "it seems Skoll is in the United States."

Elisabeth smirks faintly at the information on Refrain. "Well, now, imagine that. John Logan has something of a conscience. Who knew?" She purses her lips. "Sounds like a reasonable plan to me, if someone were to ask me what I thought about it." She then nods to the last part. "I know. She told me. I've got cops crawling all over her, and I put word in to the Shark that he was confirmed in NYC. I'm pretty sure Abby reported it to Parkman, too."

"Ordinarily," Cat murmurs, "drugs would be simply a law enforcement matter, to call the police about, but in this case I think it best to take other paths. That particular substance is far better being utterly destroyed, not winding up in an evidence locker. There are some forty-thousand units. Do you agree?" she asks.
"Yes," Elisabeth replies immediately. "Whatever intel we can gather on the source might be helpful too — since it looked like they were making the stuff in Madagascar. But destruction has to be the first priority."

With that covered, Cat turns to another topic. "About Skoll, Abby told me she'd been in touch with Parkman, says he might want to speak with me. So I might get out in front of that and pay him a visit myself. What Kozlow's intentions are, I can only guess at, but I don't believe he intends to kill Abby. At least not immediately, anyway. I think he has idea on making her his terrified girlfriend. Plaything."

"Skoll came at Felix and I one night," she relates, "attacked with nitrous oxide and guns. Wanted info on Munin. Managed to pin me against a wall and demand answers, which I didn't give. Then he commented on how he had 'protected' Faina for years, and could 'protect' me too if I let him. The nature of the note he left suggests something of that sort."

There's a long, slow blink at the information that Cat thinks he might want Abby. "That's…. even more creepy, honestly. But yes, it's consistent with his actions so far. My main concern is the question of whether Tanya was some kind of warning or attempt to frighten Abby or merely someone in the wrong place at the wrong time, or particularly targeted herself just for something unrelated. Nash is going to come at the investigation from the angle that it's entirely related to Tanya and not Abby, because I flat can't be objective when it comes to Abby's safety. In the meantime…. between Parkman and cops watching, and I asked Sawyer to also check in on her, I feel a little better. The girls will keep an eye on her too, and I'll be home in a couple more weeks too." She grimaces. "I pretty much feel like we've done what we can to cover her."

"I have to wonder, also, if the shooting of Teo's mother is connected to this, now," Cat expresses. "Shootings of two people connected to us is curious." Her bag of food is opened and a sandwich pulled out, the other bag left for Elisabeth when and if she chooses to partake.

"Abby also tells me Francois is in the city now," she quietly shares.

Elisabeth blinks and says in a startled tone, "Teo's mother was shot? Seriously? Is she okay?" She had been moving to unwrap her sandwich but sets it down again. "Is Teo okay?" And then she nods. "Francois survived and I guess he and Deckard had it out in Mexico… both powers are, supposedly, dead again." There's a bit of skepticism in that comment, if only because we THOUGHT it was dead before.

Her head tilts, this seems something Cat hadn't yet heard. "Interesting," the woman murmurs. "It's true we thought Kazimir was done in a year ago, but this… It sounds different. Abby still had the healing power afterward. If both powers are gone, the death kami just might be permanently gone. It makes sense that to eliminate one, the other also had to go. Canceling each other into oblivion."

And from there she turns back to the matter of Teo's mother. "It was in a news report on the 31st. Amadora Laudani, twin sister of Italian film star Lucrezia Bennati, 45, was injured after an unknown gunman opened fire during Saturday mass at church in Palermo, Sicily, killing a priest."

Elisabeth is spared having the rest of the news article recited from memory, though Cat is quite ready to do so if she wishes.

That didn't answer what, to Liz, is the most important question. "Is she okay? And how is Teo holding up?" she repeats, just in case Cat got sidetracked. "And yes, it does sound plausible that both are now dead. Plausible doesn't make it a fact, though, as you know."

"The report said she's in critical condition, I've not heard any updates," Cat reports. Rather than recite the rest of that article, she writes it down on paper and offers it up. "I've not seen Teo. Is he even in New York? I'd simply assumed he flew to Italy," she admits.

"No…. apparently he was in Mexico with Abby and Francois and Deckard," Elisabeth replies. She shoves a hand through her hair and finally opens the Pepsi. "But I didn't know about his mother when I spoke to Abby either, so I have no idea if he's back in New York or headed for Italy or what." She nibbles her lip. "If it's Kozlow, Abby's under surveillance. Cops, even Company people are checking in on her. It's possible that Tanya's death is just a byproduct of the city, Cat — people in this town get dead every day, especially in that neighborhood. Teo's mother is…. a tragedy. But questionable at this moment about whether it's not just a coincidence. I mean…. we cannot keep seeing patterns in every random thing that happens to us. Cuz sometimes it really is just random. Hell, it coudl have been someone after Lucrezia for all we know." She blows out a breath. "Shit."

"What we have," Cat states quietly, "are Skoll having shown up at Old Lucy's and leaving a note in Cyrillic for Abby, the shooting of Teo's mother in Italy, and the murder of Tanya outside Abby's bar. It's true these could be random coincidences and the shooting of Teo's mother could be all about Lucrezia," she admits, "but the common thread of connection to people who took on the Vanguard in Russia remains. Experience teaches me coincidences are rare."

"So my eyes are open," she tells the Frontliner, "but I'm not letting it tear me away from the research projects I've got going. Or from brainstorming how to locate any camps being built."

Elisabeth considers the instances laid out. "If Kozlow wants Abby as a girlfriend or whatever sick little amusement he has in mind, the killing of Tanya could be a warning — he wanted to protect you, after all, and probably wants to do the same to her. Which is why I've got all my contacts keeping an eye on her, cop, Company, and Endgame alike." She pauses.

"Someone's got Veronica checking on Pinehearst-related names too. Zimmerman and some others I didn't recognize. I'm keeping tabs on that, so I'll let you know if anything pops. Meanwhile…. Danko is apparently in rehab. He's been doing a lot of digging on Phoenix personnel, and I put a private investigator on him. Normally I would send Alec in, but he's spread too thin and unavailable right now. I'm kicking around letting the PI try to get in, but given that it's Danko, that could put her on his radar and I'm reluctant."

"Tanya's murder, as you said, may have been a case of wrong place and time. It could be a warning to Abby. It could be she herself was targeted for something unrelated. But the first two options," Cat postulates, "aren't exclusive. A shooter waiting outside Old Lucy's for someone associated with Abby to come out who murdered the first target of opportunity is also possible."

Conversation on multiple tracks continues, with Cat after a pause inquiring about Veronica. "Did Rebel contact her? What were the names?" And Danko, too. "Rehab. For what, exactly? Him looking into us could be a good thing," she speculates, "we could arrange for him to find something juicy and false, lure him into attacking and getting taken down."

Shaking her head, Elisabeth says, "I don't know if it was Rebel. I'll have to get back to you on the names, I don't know them off the top of my head." She shrugs a little and grins. "I don't have the memory you do. Zimmerman I remember because I was looking into him at one point, and I remember him from the Pinehearst run. And … one of the guys from Antarctica. Hector Steel. The other two I'm drawing a blank on." She shrugs a bit. "Based on what the PI has been able to gather so far, he's going to be in detox for a while, but no one will say what for."

"Hector Steel was on the helicopter with us," Cat informs. "He was the one talking to Francois by radio, brought up by Magnes along with Teo. I think he may be some sort of mechanical genius, the one who built giant robots for the Vanguard in Argentina, given that he was radioing instructions on disarming the weapon."

"Zimmerman the formula scientist and the robot maker. Odd combination of names."

"Yeah. It seemed like an odd combination to me as well. Like I said, I'm not sure who the other two were, but Sawyer's looking into it and she'll keep me apprised." Elisabeth sips from her drink.

"Last I heard directly from Rebel," Cat shares, "they told me Hana's signature had been detected in a battle with another technopath and they were going to help her out. They expressed a chance of failure, a possibility I might not hear from them again, but a few days later they made contact to say her physical location had been nailed down and help would be arranged. Since then, all I have is what they put out to anyone of the public who tackles the hints."

"Went to see West Rosen a few weeks ago," she goes on to say, "he being a person Rebel said they were interested in last summer as a person who'd do the right thing. I was seeking to make contact based on maybe needing him for wherever this leads, since he seems to have remade himself as a journalist. But it was disappointing. There's little or no change from his time with Pariah. He claims Rebel emailed him after the mission at the pole was ended and said we'd taken deals from the Feds, made it sound like Rebel was actively discrediting us. But my research in the days just after that shows he exaggerates. No talk in blogs of such thingsa about us. Hell," she dryly laments, "we were barely mentioned at all. We've got close to zero public profile now."

For a moment, Elisabeth considers. "Interesting," she finally says. "I've heard through the grapevine that Hana's in one piece but not in good shape. But that's all I know. I've never met West Rosen, but Rebel's always had their own agenda. We'll have to see how it plays out. Right now, I may have a lead on another technopath who could potentially help us with satellite footage. I'll let you know if it pans out."

Nodding, Cat adds "It was disappointing. West was, at least, told of the cleaned slates which does suggest he had contact from Rebel. I couldn't, though, get him to act and think like a journalist. I asked what he made of the photo Rebel distributed, the one from the south pole site, and he didn't answer. Never stopped to consider it. Might've at least led to a discussion of me neither confirming nor denying anything if he had."

"Hana is in friendly hands. It seems the technopathic battle she was in left her comatose."

"And I could use a technopath," she states. "Camps being built leave footprints. It suggests outdoor locations, spartan places either recently completed or under construction visible from above. Things shown in the photos Rebel had concealed in the site. They'd likely be in remote areas like Moab was, with a good deal of open space all around for access and approach control."

Her eyes close briefly, she calls the images into mind one by one. "One of the pictures was from an office/computer lab," she muses, "in the top left corner are the words Institute Site C. At the left bottom is INST.CAM A. Right bottom: NOV 17/09 - 17:23:33. Such a common name, researching institutes for a link would be pointless. I could Google the word and spend more time than Claire Bennet will have centuries of life trying to get through all the results."

Elisabeth smirks faintly. "Yeah…. that won't do us a lot of good. I don't know how it'll play out." She sighs. "Damn, Cat, things are never quite over, huh?"

"I became convinced I was cursed by a Chinese person more than a year ago," Cat responds. "The expressed wish I may live in interesting times. But… I'm doing more than tracking all of this. I've launched research into just how effective mainstream, legal resistance can be. Feasibility of suing over the way Registry sites partial information for Tier 1 people, and complete data for Tier 2. It's a hard thing in the public eye, arguing against claims Registration is needed for public safety. But I would at least hope the Feds can be skewered again and again and again over the needless exposure of people to the public, which makes them easy targets. Tied to this is researching crime rates against people on those tiers."

"So when and if we make renewed claims against the act, we know we've looked into all of it directly and can cite stats."

Food is then given attention, along with the dark Irish brew.

Elisabeth looks thoughtful at that bit of research. "Now there's a tack I would be interested in seeing followed up on," she admits, unwrapping her sandwich. "My father's expressed some interest in getting into the field of Evo law, too. Might not be a bad idea to have the two of you bouncing ideas back and forth." She smiles a little. "It's going to be a wide-open field of practice."

"It's taking time, digging out all the information. I've done some of it myself, hired people to do most of it, with the requirement of me needing to see all of it. But when complete we're better armed to back up activist claims and justify other measures should it come to that. Speaking with your father is a possibility." From there she goes quiet, content to enjoy her food and drink. Save for asking about the wisdom of contacting Veronica Sawyer directly.

Finally digging into her sandwich, Elisabeth shrugs slightly. "Let me know before you do. I'll want to warn him ahead of time." He'll keep the fact that he knows damn near everything to himself, tight under lawyer-client privilege if nothing else, but she'll want to talk to him first. "This is good… thank you for thinking of lunch."

"Piccoli's is always good." With Elisabeth not having objected to direct contact with Veronica and requested forewarning if she seeks to speak with Doctor Harrison, Cat returns to enjoying her food while the CBS studio crew for The Super Bowl Today holds her attention.

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