Nothing Is Futile


cat_icon.gif helena_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title Nothing Is Futile
Synopsis Cat, Helena, and Peyton experiment and brainstorm.
Date August 24, 2009

Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island, formerly known as Welfare Island and before that Blackwell's Island, is a narrow island in the East River of New York City. It lies between the island of Manhattan to its west and the borough of Queens to its east. Running from Manhattan's East 46th to East 85th streets, it is about two miles long, with a maximum width of 800 feet, and a total area of 147 acres.

The island is part of the Borough of Manhattan and New York County. Together with Mill Rock Island, Roosevelt Island once had a population of about 12,000 prior to the bomb. The land is owned by the city, but was leased to the State of New York's Urban Development Corporation for 99 years in 1969. Most of the residential buildings on Roosevelt Island are rental buildings.

Following the bomb, Roosevelt Island suffered a great deal of damage from the throw debris from the explosion of Midtown Manhattan. The tram service connecting Roosevelt Island to Midtown was destroyed on the midtown end, leaving one small bridge connecting to Long Island City in Queens as the only means out of the city. Subsequent fires, looting and food riots on the island left what was once a prosperous neighborhood in ruins in the aftermath of the bomb. Business began to close one by one, residence left for the outskirts of New York City, and now Roosevelt Island is like a shell of its former self, a proverbial ghost-town with a population of only 700 on the island. Streets are untended, cracked and dusty, weeds growing up between the broken pavement. It is not an uncommon sight to see old newspapers blowing across the street and the boarded up windows of shops and apartments.

She's on her way out of the Suresh Center, the second seminar of the day being over now, and Cat's mood has very quickly become sour. Waiting for her when she was done holding a discussion of law and ethics around the use of extrahuman abilities was word of Elisabeth Harrison being MIA after an encounter with Humanis First. It's a dire situation, one she's even now seeking to address in a proactive way. Her iPhone is taken out and put to use, she being very grateful of the security Wireless provides for such communications. The phone number for Peyton Whitney is acquired, typed in, and the call button is pressed.

Peyton looks at the number on the display for the incoming call — not one she knows. She hesitates, about to let the machine pick up, but then picks up anyway. She is feeling less afraid and less like hiding, especially after her chat with Cardinal, Jessica and Brian.

"Hello?" she says into the phone, walking into her kitchen and opening her refrigerator. She pulls out a bottle of water while she waits for the voice on the other line to speak.

"Peyton," she starts, her voice all business. "Cat here. I need your assistance with some matters. Have you met a woman named Elisabeth Harrison before?" She keeps moving, to make her way off of Roosevelt Island and get home where things she needs for this are kept.

Surprised at the directness of the voice on the other line, Peyton frowns, closing the refrigerator and moving to the sofa in the living room. "I don't think so," she says with a shake of her head. "Should I have?" She reaches for the remote control and turns the television on mute.
"It may not matter," Cat replies. "Do you have access to a computer and the internet, a way to receive files and maybe join me in a video conference? I've some images to show you."

"I … I don't think I can see anything from someone I haven't seen in person, but I'll look." Peyton doesn't know she has seen the woman in person, at Aaron's audition when Wendy managed to piss off Liz. "Yeah, I have a computer." She gets up and moves into the study, opening up her laptop. "Why, what's wrong?" she asks, realizing something must be wrong for Cat to have tracked her down and asked her this.

"She's missing," Cat informs. "Give me the details on how to contact you for video conference and I'll tap you in about twenty minutes when I'm where I need to be. Maybe you can see through her eyes, maybe not, there's only one way to find out."

Peyton gives the contact information, spelling out the user names on the messaging system. "All right," she says, her voice trembling a touch. She hasn't had to do anything this important with her power yet. "I can try. Is it Humanis First?" Her voice cracks on the last word, and she wonders vaguely if she will ever be able to say those two words together without a shiver or shudder running through her.

"They may be involved, yes," Cat shares. "I have images of some of their people also to show you in case you recognize them." She hears the way Peyton's voice cracks, but doesn't acknowledge what it may be like for her. There's business at hand, this comes first, and she believes Miss Whitney will understand so very well those guys mean deadly business.

Peyton nods, then realizes that just won't mean much to Cat on the other line. "I'll do what I can to help, Cat," she promises, her voice fortified with a little feigned courage and determination.

"Thank you, Peyton," Cat replies tersely. Then she taps the proper button and the call ends. She continues on home. When she reaches the penthouse the office space is gone for, she accesses the materials needed in her files, and fires up the messenger program with the webcam on.

The Verb, 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.

Thirty minutes after her call to Peyton started, there's a prompt on her messenger screen stating GuitarCat is seeking contact. Cat's webcam shows her still wearing a suit jacket and pale blue blouse, as if she'd just been conducting some sort of attorney or other professional business with her hair pinned up in the back. Very different from how she looked when they spoke at the safehouse weeks before.

Peytie_W, her own screen name rather uninspired, accepts the web cam. She herself is dressed casual in a plain t-shirt and her hair in a ponytail; there's no makeup and she's very un-diva-esque. "Hey," she says to the Cat on her screen. "So this woman, how long she been missing? She's not down at the docks like we were?" Of course not, HF would be stupid to use the same locale twice. She fiddles with a half-empty bottle of water as she looks nervously at the computer, her eyes on the screen rather than on her own camera.

"The docks?" That's a useful piece of information. Kept at the docks. "Unknown, and unknown again. I was only told of her being missing just before I called you, Peyton." Her hand moves the mouse and she sends the first image through the messenger program. Elisabeth Harrison. "This is her, Peyton." And a question follows. "What can you tell me about where on the docks you were held?" She cues up two more image files to transmit, not yet sending but having them ready to do so. Her eyes and face suggest Cat is deadly serious, she seems prepared to move heaven and earth in search of Elisabeth. Personal connection with the woman, a desire to defeat Humanis First, or both?

"The docks… Brooklyn harbor, dock 8 or 9. We were in a shipping container and got out by taking out the air conditioning unit," Peyton repeats as she watches the picture download. Once it's complete she frowns, tilting her hair and staring at it. "I … I think I have seen her before. Is she friends with a red head chick?" she asks suddenly. "Is she an aud—autokinetic?" She gets the word wrong. She always does.

"That's her," Cat replies with a nod. "She manipulates sound." And a pause follows, she looks briefly thoughtful. "Shipping container, Brooklyn harbor, dock eight or nine." Places like it could be worth checking out. Her hands move with the mouse and the second image is transferred. Emile Danko. "Have you seen this man before, Peyton?"

Beyond the movement of the mouse, Cat isn't doing anything with her hands. There's no indication at all of taking notes.

That image gets a gasp from Peyton, a more frightened one than the one of surprise at recognizing Elisabeth. "I haven't met him," she says in a quieter, somber voice. "But… a Homeland Services agent showed me his picture, asked me if I knew him. The name on the file was Emile Danko," Peyton explains, in case Cat doesn't have a name to go with the face. "It said he was suspected Humanis First." Another visible shudder at the word. "Um. The guy who called the cab that took us, he said something about an Emile, that night in Old Lucy's." She pauses. "The guy who had us kidnapped, he works with him."

"That's him," Cat confirms. "I don't suspect he's with them, I know he is," she opines. As she speaks, the third image is sent. William Dean.

She doesn't look surprised to hear Old Lucy's mentioned, Abby told her they were picked up outside the place.

Peyton drops her water bottle and swears as she moves to save the power outage from getting drenched. She disappears from the screen for a moment and pops back up. Her eyes are wide. "That's the guy from the bar, Cat. That's the guy who called us the cab. He was really interested in Wendy after he knew she was Evo." Tears begin to well up in her eyes. She hasn't learned to channel the fear and hatred into anger yet.

There's coldness in her eyes now at the word of Bill Dean being involved in what happened with Peyton and Wendy. Cat likely has a special level of hell on earth to show this man if she had the chance. "Thank you, Peyton," she replies quietly. "You're doing just great. See, what we're going to do next is a way to start taking back the power in your life. It won't be easy, I get that seeing the face is hard. You've never experienced anything like this before. I was kidnapped once too," she shares. "They made me watch while my lover was tortured. Then they killed her. But we beat the organization they were from."

"Keep your head up, Peyton," she encourages. "You're a survivor. Getting yourself out, that shows you've got more strength than you knew you had."

Peyton's hand shakes as she reaches to push her hair out of her eyes. "I'm okay. I'm sorry for what happened to you. That's so much worse." She nods, as if to assure herself of what she's saying. "I'm okay," she repeats, then tilts her head, looking at the new image on her screen. "What's his name?" she asks, her chin rising with some resolve.

"His name is William Dean," Cat answers with a cold smile. "I have some plans to make his life really suck, and soon. But that's for later. Right now the priority is Elisabeth Harrison. I'm going to log this off and stay right where I am until I hear from you, okay? I'd like you to concentrate on her, on seeing through her eyes and looking for any detail of where she might be, who's with her, that could help in locating her. Can you do that, Peyton?"

"I will try. I've only seen her once, but I think I can picture her all right," Peyton murmurs, trying to shake the feelings of anger and fear that might keep her from focusing correctly. You want me to call you or just message or what, once I'm done?" She looks at the picture of Elisabeth, trying to remember the woman's laughter in the lounge, the way she saw Wendy and Peyton looking at them, Wendy running into the woman to get a grasp of the audiokinetic's gift.

"Signal to restart the video conference," Cat answers.

In her office area, with an instant messenger program and her webcam active on the computer monitor before her, Cat is seated and still clad in lawyerly attire. She came here right after her second Monday session at the Suresh Center. Her features are dark, there's anger in the woman's eyes. It's perhaps 20:45 now, and she's waiting for something.

There's no image or activity in the IM screen right now, it's dark.

Peytie_W logs out from Cat's chat and Peyton stares at the picture. She concentrates on the woman's face, remembering Liz's laughter that night at the lounge where Aaron played. She thinks back to Wendy bumping into the woman, then pointing her out to Peyton, and Liz and Cassidy watching them, Liz sending them a round of drinks, apparently amused. The computer screen in front of her goes out of focus, but nothing else comes in — darkness. For a few seconds, and then even that is gone.

She frowns and clicks back on, messaging Cat once more, and inviting her to view her web cam. She waits, feeling … disappointed? That she didn't get to play the hero? She's not sure. She's worried about that woman, and she doesn't know enough about her power to know what that meant.

Helena comes bustling into Cat's office at breakneck pace. "Cat," she says breathlessly, "What do we know?"

"Not a lot," Cat tells Helena as she enters. "I was in seminar, got the message afterward and came right here to start working," she adds. "I'm in contact with a former safehouse guest who's had her own experience with Humanis First, and a very interesting gift. She sees through the eyes of others."

When Peyton's prompt comes, she taps the mouse to accept it and Peyton's image comes onto the screen with her own going out. "Welcome back," she greets somberly.

Peyton's face is solemn and she shakes her head. "I'm sorry, I didn't see anything. Well. Darkness, that's all. And just for a moment or two. I'm not very good yet. I'm working on it. I want to be … useful." She pushes her hair out of her face, tucking a strand behind an ear. "My guess — I might be wrong — but either her eyes are closed or she's in a dark room or something. Before — in the hospital, I could tell when the guy blinked. It was like I was blinking. Only this was too long for a blink." She frowns. "I'm sorry. I'll keep trying."

Helena frowns a little bit. "So all we know is that Humanis First took her after a raid on a Ferrymen safe house? That's a whole lot of nothing." A pause. "If my dad's involved, I remember hearing a boathorn. He mentioned shipping containers. All she can do is see, right? No other types of senses?"

"Don't be sorry, Peyton," Cat tells the woman firmly. "There was no guarantee here. The worst that would happen from trying was we'd not learn what we already didn't know, understand? Nothing to lose at all." She glances at Helena for a moment, holding up a finger to indicate patience, and moves on. "What I'd like you to do now, Peyton, is the same sort of thing. Elisabeth is in a dark room or her eyes are closed, but hers may not be the only eyes present. We can't know if they're around, but what they're doing right now is interesting anyway. I'd like you to try looking through the eyes of the two men whose pictures I showed you earlier. Will you do that for me?"

If Helena looks at the screen closely, she may see the bit which says three photos were transmitted earlier. Elisabeth Harrison.jpg, Emile Danko.jpg, and William Dean.jpg.

Helena peers at the pictures. "You want her to look through my father's eyes?" That produces a shudder for her part. "What can she tell us about what's happening?"

Peyton frowns at the faceless voice she hears. Surely she heard that wrong. Better not to focus on that. Instead, with a bit of a shudder, she concentrates on Bill — his loud, boisterous voice, his unctuous mannerisms. Her eyes, staring at his picture, once more dilate, though this time Cat and Helena can see her. She looks almost if she were in a trance.

The clairvoyant swallows hard, then speaks, though her eyes still have that far-off gaze. "He's talking to the guy who … the guy… Oh, God." She sobs, and covers her eyes — she doesn't want to look at that man, the man who made her say those things to the video camera, the man who put a gun to her head. She sits there for a long moment, and they can only see the top of her bowed head, her shoulders shaking, for a moment before she looks up. "I'm sorry. Coney Island. I think. On the carousel."

She listens intently as Peyton uses her ability and reports what's seen. Her voice is calm, soothing, in speaking her reply. "It's okay. Nothing at all to be sorry for. Nothing. "I'm asking her to look through the eyes of anyone we know is with HF," Cat replies, "in case they're with Elisabeth. It's a shot in the dark, there's got to be a lot of them and many might not even know him or Danko, but we lose nothing trying. And knowing their habits is useful anyway."

Then her head turns toward Helena, Cat explains "She said Elisabeth's in a dark room, or her eyes are closed. It felt longer than a blink, she doubts it was that. Presumably Elisabeth's someplace where she can't see. And Peyton told me she and Wendy were held in a shipping container near dock eight or nine, in Brooklyn."

Then she looks into the camera again, speaking to Peyton directly resumes. Cat has another angle to try; Elisabeth could be with other members of HF and having been held as she was Peyton may have seen them, be able to look through their eyes. And a question forms. "What about Danko, Peyton? You couldn't see through him? Could you… could you think of anyone else who was involved with holding you to see if they're around Elisabeth?"

"I'll try," Peyton says in a small voice. The man that Bill Dean was talking to was the Irishman who manhandled Wendy. The man who shows up in her dreams at 3 a.m. in the morning. The man who makes even breathing right now a difficult chore. She takes a deep breath. "I didn't see many of their faces. Just the one guy's. The guy who's talking to William D-Dean so we know what he's doing right n-now." She bites her lip and concentrates on Danko, trying to make that picture more realistic, thinking his name. Her eyes stare at the image on the screen, but never fade into that far-off look. She thinks of the others — going through the other men, the masked man and the cab driver whose face she never really saw. It's a long, tense few minutes, before she frowns and puts a hand to her head. A headache is the only reward.

Her eyes shift over to the web cam again, as if she were making eye contact with Cat. She shakes her head. "I can't see anything. I'm sorry."

Helena murmurs quietly, "There's a shipping yard in Brooklyn, with the one in Staten across the water. They might be holding her at either one of those. But even if we had the manpower to scope both places, there's a million places they could be hiding."

"It's okay, Peyton," Cat tells her with a slow nod. "Maybe you have to have met a person physically, have a connection of some sort, to see through his or her eyes?" She's speculating about the limits of her ability. "Thank you for doing this, really." Her head turns toward Helena again.

"They've used it before, and might be stupid enough to use it again. Checking it out can't hurt. I wish I knew if one of our contacts is back in touch with birds, we could ask her to put airborne eyes on Bill and see where he goes. Or we could ask another contact to get in touch with some far smaller friends to check out containers."

Then there are some silent moments where she ponders a range of options. "Our shadowy friend could perhaps check the docks out. He'll be speedier than most would at it, too. It is so very needle in a haystack." Frustration is building, Cat's no stranger to situations where people are held and in danger from the murderous type, it calls up memories of Dani, but she's not letting them take her over. Outwardly all she shows is calm and methodical confidence. It's a Cat hallmark at tense moments: to think of possibly failing, to dwell on it, increases the chances of failure. Of self-fulfilling prophecy.

"This could get very ugly." Helena says softly. Yeah, she's thought of Dani, too. "We can get in contact with our shadow person and our bird person, see if they're willing to do some kind of recon. But neither will probably be as fast as we like."

"I doubt it would be the same one, unless they were really stupid, and I don't think they were… but we were in a maroon shipping container," Peyton adds, trying to remember other details. "And at some point I think we were in a … what do you call those things at the cemeteries, like a mausoleum or a tomb or something?" She shivers. "That was where he made the video."

She wipes her eyes again and reaches for one of the ubiquitous Ibuprofen bottles that lay everywhere in her apartment — between her and Aaron, they probably go through a bottle a week. "I'll keep trying on your friend and on … the others." She doesn't want to, but she will.

"Don't overtax yourself, Peyton," Cat counsels. "Take it easy, make your viewings sporadic over time. They make good practice, in any case, and over time you can build a log of things and places seen. Identify landmarks, places they like. Keep records. But don't tear yourself down. Dealing with these people is going to be a long and drawn out thing of learning as much as we can and moving when the time is right. Time may be short for Elisabeth Harrison, but it's about so much more than her."

Helena is addressed again, Cat being pensive. "We could call the cops, tell them a suspect in the Peyton Whitney kidnapping is at the Coney Island carousel. Maybe even pass on that a cop is their captive. Bill's eyes could be used to keep aware of his location so he can be grabbed, too. But the risk is of them being tipped off and taking countermeasures to avoid surveillance."

Or option three, which she won't say right now in front of Peyton. Sending some folks with guns and large heavy objects to grab Bill and friend so they can break every bone in their bodies in hopes of making them tell everything they know. Then kill them.

"I… the only thing," Peyton says with a start, remembering something, "if you tell the cops, um, try not to let them know what I can do. I had to register, I didn't have a choice, but I downplayed it. I made it sound like it wasn't in my control and that I don't understand any of the visions I get when I get them. So that they don't know what I can do, so they won't try to use me, like you said." Large, panicky eyes look into the web cam as she makes the plea. "I don't know how you can tell them that and I don't even know if they know that Bill guy is a suspect but you know, if you can… downplay it." She takes a deep breath after the long rant.

At the moment, Helena can handle the thought of Bill being put in the ground. That does not particularly mean she wants to witness it, participate, or particularly relish the prospect. "I think it might be wisest to leave him unknowing of the fact that he can be surveilanced. I think we'll gain more from that than we would if we just inconvenienced him or enraged his conspirators." She sighs wearily. "I'll speak to our contacts."

"If we took that route, Peyton," Cat assures, "we could do it so the info on his location is given by anonymous tip without you being involved. As to telling the police about Bill, it'd be best if they weren't told you talked to us. What I suggest is you look online for a car. A Hyundai, to be precise. There's a dealership of used cars in Tarrytown, New York, which has a website. On that website, you'll see the face of one of your captors. That could be passed on to the police, but not until we're sure the cops won't just swoop in. For this to work, there needs to be enough evidence that he can't just get a good lawyer and squirm away on he said, she said."

Cat looks at Peyton's onscreen image and Helena in turn to see if they get her meaning. "When we put the cops on them, it has to stick and be so thorough he won't ever make bail."

And it seems she's ready to end the video conference. "Thank you again for helping us, Peyton. Every little thing we do, each piece we pull up, helps take back power in your life. Nothing is futile."

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