Off To See The Wizard


cat_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif jake_icon.gif

Scene Title Off To See The Wizard
Synopsis Jake and Liz await Cat, Oleander gains some control.
Date March 12, 2009

Somewhere in Jersey

The rally point for this little project wasn't anywhere on New York proper, since Staten Island was out for obvious limits and Manhattan and the other ares of New York are a little too overrun with authority to just come in with an unauthorized aircraft with no flight plan and clearly illegal armaments on board. Since he was the Element Leader of this little mission, Jake spent all his time on board the helicopter with Zuleyka and Fedor.

Don't think he doesn't realize the Leader assignment wasn't just a way to keep his ass out of the fight.

Because of that, Jake's a little cranky. But just a little. The sun's just breaking over the horizon and because of that he's got sunglasses on. They're the reflective shitkicker types that aviators love to wear so much. That and his scuffed-up leather jacket, faded BDU cammie pants, boots, plus the dog tags hanging around his neck just complete the image of some grizzled veteran.

Also he's thrown out his folding nylon chair to sit in while everybody else gets a little rest, and is cleaning his pistol in his lap with an old t-shirt and some 3-in-1 oil. Quite a few of the people that went along for the ride have already skipped out, especially that group with Isabelle and Huruma. They weren't sticking around for crap. But Jake's here. He works here.

Elisabeth stayed behind to let the others get Abby out of here — she was clearly the important one to evacuate. Trask also remained to negate the stone-manipulator's power, and they are just waiting for Cat to return with a second vehicle — we hadn't expected to need to transport people separately. She and Trask have had several muted conversations, but now with her petrified arm in a makeshift sling, the blonde steps out of the hangar with a cup of coffee to watch the sun come up while they wait. She nods briefly to Jake in greeting. "Fun night," she comments mildly.

"Yeah what-the-fuck-ever." mutters Jake, sounding just the vaguest bit petulant rather than hostile. "Some of you had fun. I got to babysit a god damned chopper." Though he'll never admit how much he enjoyed watching Zuleyka at the M60. There was something of a father's pleasure at watching his kids on Christmas Morning in that. Seriously. He's adopting her. The merc looks up at the woman with the stone arm and asks, "How's your busted wing?"

Elisabeth shrugs the good one, the one holding coffee. "Heavy," is her reply. She glances back. "Hoping he can turn it back, but at the moment not willing to take the chance unless Abby's well and able to help." She turns a little pale. "She can… regrow things, but I'd really like to not go that route. Just… weirds me out."

Though Jake's expression isn't too easy to make out, the frown is clear even from behind those glasses. "So she can regrow your arm if she's gotta?" he asks, pieces of pistol in his lap. It doesn't break down into tiny pieces like a rifle bolt carrier group would.

"Well… never seen it. But been told yes," Liz replies. Not that she disbelieves, she's seen too much of what Abby can do. "Takes a lot of out of her, though, I'm betting. She's too hurt right now to manage that."

With a half-shrug, Jake hmps and says, "No problem then. We can just break it off where the rock meets the meat and she can heal back what's left. You can keep the leftovers for a paperweight. Souvenir or something." He grins to himself, using the old t-shirt and his pinky to ream out the chamber of the pistol barrel, "Wish I had one of my own arms turned to rock. That's be one hell of a fuckin story."

Elisabeth turns her eyes toward him. "Trade ya," she comments mildly, then takes a sip of her coffee as she looks back toward the road. "I hate firefights, and that's just…. yeah. Might have to happen if Thespuda doesn't figure out his ability and reverse it for me."

"I'd do it if I thought I could get it healed back." Jake says without missing a beat. He nods a head toward the helicopter, its cargo door still wide open. "Got another chair or two in there if you wanna borrow one. So you're not standing there lookin lost. I'm Jake. What're you gonna tell me your name is?" Not What's Your Name. He's already used to the bullshit secrecy these people seem to think their world requires.

There's a grin. "Oh, sorry…. Liz. I'd shake your hand, but well…." Elisabeth shakes her head to the chair. "I'm actually hovering and walking around because if I sit down, I'm going to crash for like a week. And I gotta call in to work in about ten minutes and tell my boss I'm sick today. So can't crash."

"Why not do it now? Is ten minutes the magic hour or something?" He's certainly not much for beating around the bush, is he? Jake is direct and has no apologies for himself. "Saw you packin' a rifle. Was that a short AR-15 or did you guys manage to get your hands on M-4's somehow?"

Elisabeth squats to set her coffee cup on the ground and pulls out the cell to look at the time. She considers. "Eh… he might be in there. M-4." She flips the thing open and dials a number on her speed dial. Someone clearly picks up and she says, "It's Harrison… taking a sick day. …. Nah, nothing major. Just haven't slept more'n four hours in two days. My cases should be okay for a few hours. I'll be in late this afternoon and pull some of the evening calls. … Yah. Bye." She makes a face when she hangs up, mumbling under her breath.

Jake would've said something but doesn't wanna step on Liz' phone call, so he keeps his mouth shut until she's done. "Man where'd you ladies dig those up? I can't get Fedor to grab NATO military hardware without major arm-twisting. He always wants to go for that old Warsaw Pact shit." Then he grins and looks at Liz. "Trade you a select-fire Uzbekistani AK-47 for your M-4." Like they're baseball cards or something.

Elisabeth grins at him at that. "Hell no. I'm keepin' it. We used to have a guy who was good at getting stuff…. not sure where he got 'em, actually." She picks up her coffee again after putting the phone in her pocket. "He died. Don't think we've managed to find anyone with his contacts so far."

"Aw c'moon. It's a good AK." Jake says in mild protest. He means it! He wants to trade. "What do you want for one of those rifles? Name a price. I just want one for me, that's all." He even takes off his sunglasses and sticks them in the cupholder of his folding chair just to make eye contact. "I'm serious now…"

Elisabeth looks thoughtfully at him, not dropping her gaze when he meets her eyes. The grin at the corners of her lips is almost playful. "Yeah? Hrm… well, I might think about that. We could probably spare one," she admits. "Tell you what, you can keep mine here. Call it a thanks."

That offer makes Jake grin. Good! He got a deal. But he offers one bit of protest on it. "US government pays about six thousand bucks a pop on those things. I'll give you six gees and the AK-47 for it. That way maybe you can replace it and then some. Cool?" And then he actually fishes out a wallet from his butt pocket, scootching in his foldout chair while trying not to let pieces of disassembled pistol fall to the dirt. Out of the wallet he begins counting hundred dollar bills. Who the hell keeps that much cash on them?

Elisabeth looks stunned. Who the hell keeps that much cash on them??? "Whatever," she tells Jake finally. "I never argue with a man who wants to pay his way." Shaking her head, she moves to stand up from the squat she was crouched in.

Outside the location, a blue Dodge Neon rolls up and stops. The lights are doused, but the engine remains running. Cat places the car into park and steps out of the driver's seat. She isn't at all happy about it, but things are what they are. There's no avoiding being within the proximity of Norton Trask, and she'll be just as confused, foggy, as she was on the helicopter ride away from the rusty warehouse.

It had been obvious to all present what her ability entails, though her face was covered against recognition, in that she'd had no apparent idea where she was, or what she was doing with weapons and in a helicopter.

Apparently the answer to the question of who keeps that much cash on them is: Jake Hunter does! He holds out the wad of money to Elisabeth and says, "Pleasure doin business with you. It'll be nice to get my hands on a rifle that didn't come out of Ivan's hands first for a change. We're filthy with Kalashnikovs up in here. I'd kill for a good old fashioned Colt." Glance over his shoulder at the car pulling up. "This your ride?" He doesn't seem much worried at the prospect that it might not be.

Elisabeth rolls her eyes and sets her coffee down again, taking the money gingerly. She looks toward the Neon, a smile gracing her face again. "Yeah, that's our ride." She knows why Cat doesn't want to be the one to handle this, but there's no help for it. She looks at the bills in her hand and just waits for Cat to approach. She'll give the money to her — Liz hasn't got any place to put a stack of $100 bills equaling $6K. That's a big stack — how that man SITS on his wallet is beyond her. "Doesn't your ass get sore?" she actually asks.

She stands next to the vehicle, not trusting herself to drive when in such unpleasant proximity. The ski mask is gone from her face, her weapons, body armor and comm gear stashed in the trunk and in a guitar case there for double coverage. Care has been taken to not appear on traffic cameras as if they'd been doing anything untoward; Cat doesn't say why she has concerns about such devices beyond the general claim that license plates are visible and cops can track things based on them, after reviewing pictures, which they must occasionally do.

"Not now that you got all my bills." answers Jake simply, grinning as he adds, "I was gonna party it up but instead you people hired us for a job so instead of a party I got to babysit the fuckin chopper. Not a total loss now that I got a weapon I want out of the deal." Again there's a glance over his shoulder and he looks at Cat briefly. Then asks Liz, "Something wrong with your friend there?"

Elisabeth waves Cat to come over. "He's inside," she says quietly, projecting her voice to the other woman from where she's standing. She shakes her head with a grin to Jake's reply. "Aw, sorry to ruin your party," she says with no evidence of sincerity at all. "Yeah, she's worried about our negator. Her ability is in the mental arena, and his negation messes with her head."

Walking over, she takes position near the shorter and far blonder woman, letting her eyes wander around slowly. Her concern seems to ease off when Elisabeth speaks to her. "Can't think straight when he's around, it's all a fog," Cat mutters. "I'm suddenly nineteen again, a freshwoman at Yale who doesn't know where the hell she is or how she got there."

Jake is quiet for a moment while Cat comes to stand and look around all significantly. At which he looks back to Liz and remarks, "You're the only one that's not fuckin' weird aren't you?"

Elisabeth laughs at Jake. "Everyone's weird in *some* way, Jake," she comments. She reaches to take the key from the taller woman and says, "Well… now that you're here, let's see if we can talk Oleander Thespuda into attempting to reverse this crap on my arm. Cuz Jake here's offered to help chop it off at the meaty part and let Abby just regrow it for me. If he makes my arm worse, though…. it might be the only option."

"Need help convincing him?" asks Jake, having reassembled his pistol while speaking to Liz, glancing at Cat, and snarking at both. And without looking at what he was doing. He racks the slide on the pistol a few times and dry-fires it before slapping the mag in it, putting a round in the chamber, and reloading his spare round in the mag. Somehow the prospect of getting to Convince a bad guy of something makes Jake grin.

Her brow furrows as Cat takes a moment to think. "First," she suggests, "let's experiment before we let him touch you again, shall we, Elisabeth?" Her eyes wander out to find some objects not made of stone the man can touch and transform, then change back, as practice. "It'd be a good idea to help him get control, figure out what he can and can't do on stuff not attached to a human body, yes?"

Elisabeth eyes Cat and says, "I suppose — although if they have to cut my arm off at the shoulder, he can practice on my lower arm just fine, you know." Her arm is stone from elbow to almost shoulder because of the way Thespuda grabbed her last night but from elbow down to hand, it's still flesh. "But sure, I'll tell Sergei to step back far enough, we can try it." She looks at Jake seriously. "He didn't do it on purpose — this is the guy who accidently turned his wife and kids into statues. He was on the news a while back, presumed washed out to sea when he fell off the GW Bridge. So we wouldn't mind bodyguarding if you want to join in, but I doubt he's going to be a huge threat."

"Oh that guy. That poor fuck." Yeah, not so much on the threatening and motivating the well-intentioned but incompetent. Jake gets up and puts his pistol in the small of his back, belt-slung. Then shrugs. "Yeah I'll watch."

A nod, as she gathers some items for that practice, and consults her memory. That time Cat sat and read Grey's Anatomy pays off from time to time. Sewing up Gillian's forehead after a Sylar attack, helping to put Allen Rickham's in bits back when they got out after… a Sylar attack, and now possibly in consideration of needing to amputate Elisabeth's arm. "That'd cut the brachial artery," she advises. "Before we make that move, I'd recommend being very, very close to Abby first. Or having something really hot to press against the wound and cauterize it fast. Because there'd be about a minute to stop your bleeding."

Then the gathered materials are set down.

Elisabeth nods and heads into the building, calling, "Hey Sergei… step out range, okay? We're gonna see if Oleander here can reverse it." When the Russian steps back, he mutters, "I'll be outside." Liz gestures to Cat, "Feel free to try it with other stuff than my arm first."

Oleander Thespuda is a massive man, but he's the sorriest-looking huge guy Liz has ever laid eyes on. He is sad, but no longer frightened of the people who've rescued him from the hellhole that the cages were. "Am I going to get thrown in jail?" he asks Elisabeth, glancing between Cat and Jake as if expecting they'll help haul him off.

"No, Oleander… not at this moment. Cat's going to help you see if you can gain enough control now that you're calm to reverse the process. If you can, I'm going to make arrangements for you to see your family, okay?"

Jake gives Cat a look like she just suggested something strange and mutters audibly to her, "Why don't you just use a pressure dressing to keep her from bleedin' out? People survive that shit all the time. I can do it with a belt and a stick." Although he gives Oleander a look too that comes with its very own Shake Of The Head. "Don't lookit me, brother. Only reason I'm not in jail is nobody's got the nuts to put cuffs on me."

"That too, Jake, if we have to," Cat replies. But of course the safest way she knows to not have Liz bleed out is not to bleed at all. Her attention then settles on Oleander, and she seeks to make eye contact. It's a calm voice she speaks with, one meant to encourage and impart confidence. "I'm not in the locking people up business, sir," she informs him. "When you're under stress, afraid, or upset, that triggers the ability, from what I saw. So, what we'd like to try is having you pick up one of these things," she gestures with one hand, "and turn it to stone."

Elisabeth slants a glance at Jake and comments mildly in an undertone aimed at his ears alone, "Oh, now that's a cryin' shame; I didn't know you were batting for that team. But I know a guy who's probably dominant enough if you wanna play submission games." Blame it on adrenaline, her mind is *totally* in the gutter this morning.

Oleander nods to Elisabeth and then turns his attention to Cat. Inanimate objects don't scare him, but he *is* tense here. "I can turn anything into stone — I just haven't been able to turn it BACK," he tells Cat softly, mournfully. He picks up objects one at a time and turns three of them immediately to stone. He stops there and looks at the woman in front of him.

Jake just looks at Liz with a scowl and goes, "What?" Like it made zero sense to him. Obviously we're not talking about a great intellectual here.

Her focus is on Oleander as he turns the object to stone, and she nods. "So you've been able to do this at will before, sir? To start and stop it, when you're calm?" Cat scans the objects he transformed, and in her head she's wondering about the mechanics of this. Is it a molecular effect, where he rearranges them into stone, or a transmutation where he changes elements into other elements? Interesting.

Then she makes a quiet suggestion, spoken with confidence he can pull it off. So many times just believing is good enough. "Concentrate on what the first item was composed of when you touched it, made it change, and think of it becoming that again, please."

Elisabeth smothers a chuckle. "You know… cuffs, nuts. Never mind." She waves it off, watching Cat and Oleander's interaction.

The man shakes his head. "Only since I fell in the river," he says. "I have had time to practice. And I remembered that the woman," he nods toward Elisabeth, "she say that maybe I could turn my family back. So I try every chance. I can make stone when calm… but …" He shakes his head, but he does what Cat tells him, picking up the paperback novel that she handed him first. To make it into stone, he doens't have to think of anything — it's automatic. "I try to take stone back," he tells her. That's not working, so what the heck? He can try this way. Eventually, the corner of the book turns back, though not the whole thing.

The look Jake gives Liz is unsure, but he lets it go. And then, amazingly, he tries something that MIGHT be helpful to Oleander. "Hey buddy, how about this." he begins, trying to get the man's attention, "What do you do when you turn something to stone? You know what I mean? Is it like, you tense up? Or are you thinking something, or what? What's the feeling that makes you go Stone?"

She watches, her eyes on the paperback novel, and the corner that shifts back from stone to paper. "See?" Cat indicates that segment, then makes eye contact again. "You can do it. You did it, just now. So keep trying, work at it, remember how it felt when that area was changed back. And yes," she nods in Jake's direction, "thinking about how you feel when it happens can help too. Identify all the on switches, y'know, and from there you can control the ability, instead of it controlling you."

"The first step, in any case, is believing you can. And you did." She points out the paperback corner again.

Elisabeth looks at Jake thoughtfully. He might be no brain trust, but he's got a clue. Then she looks back at the other two.

Oleander looks toward the soldier and seems to think about the questions. "When I am… excitable," he responds slowly, "afraid or angry or excited. I think of nothing, it just happens. But… now, when I am calm?" He ponders and reaches for the book again, this time with a look of concentration on his face. The corner of the book immediately turns back to stone, but he doesn't let go. Instead, slowly — like his uncertainty is reflected in the power use itself — the spine of the book starts to shift back to paper, a little at a time. It looks like it's far harder for him, though; sweat pops out on Oleander's forehead.

"There you go, man." says Jake, encouraging as the book shifts back slowly. "Stop tryin' so hard. You're gettin tense. Look…" He tries to get Oleander's attention with a Look Here gesture and says, "Keep your hand on that book and look at us. Don't think about the book. Just think about letting go. Relax. You spend your time thinking about it hard, you'll fuck it up. Trust me. See, I gotta trick I do that works kinda like yours. When I tense up, it goes one way. When I relax it goes the other."

The entire point to this seems to be to keep talking to the guy while taking his mind off of what he's trying to do exactly.

Taking a cue from that, as Jake speaks with the man, Cat moves away to stand by Liz for the moment and watch. Her head tilts to one side. Confidence is already established anyway, he's seen he can make it go both directions, now it's just a matter of practice and growing comfortable. Her expression tells the blonde things are shaping up well, she should have her arm back before long.

And sure enough, when Oleander hits a point where it starts working and he's trying too hard, the book starts reverting back to stone. Oleander gets that mournful look again as he glances at Jake, but he listens to the other man without taking his hand off the book. If Jake could only see in his head, he's chanting the mantra It's a book. It's a book. It's a paper book. "What is it that you do?" he asks the soldier-man.

Elisabeth grins at Cat in elation, because now that Jake is talking to Oleander man-to-man so to speak, the book is rapidly becoming paper once more.

"Atomic density. I think. I dunno the physics of it but when I want to I can make myself harder than steel. And about that strong. But if I go the other direction I turn light. The cool shit is it works on anything I'm carrying." Jake keeps right on talking to the other man, keeping eye contact with him.

Jake says, "I found out when I was in a helicopter crash. The whole bird went down with me in the cockpit. By the time I hit the ground I was fucking rock-tight. You couldn't haul a needle out of my asshole if you pulled it with a tractor.""

"But it turns out tensing up is what does it for me, makes me nearly invincible. Some dipshit in Singapore or Thailand, I forget which one it was…I was really drunk…tried to stab me in the gut? Bent his knife on me. But I learned to relax and go the other direction too and," Snatch! Jake grabs the book away from the man and holds it up for him. Paper book. "Good job." Jake says, tossing the book down and standing there with a very cocky look. Like he just worked a magic trick.

She watches and listens, not having anything to add. Cat just nods in reply to Elisabeth's grin, a smile of her own forming.

Elisabeth is forced to laugh at Jake's description of the crash, though the situation itself was not funny. Oleander is amused by it as well, and the book ultimately pops back to normal as he chuckles. And then Jake has the book, and Oleander looks stunned. And for the first time, hope fills his dark eyes. "I can… get my wife? My children back?"

"Oh man," the blonde cop whispers, a smile lighting her face. "Oleander, my man…. we'll have to figure out how to work that, but… yeah, it sure looks like it." Liz grins at him. "I just gotta figure a way to get the statues out of lock-up; they're evidence. And Homeland's looking for your body still, so far as I know." She pushes her good hand through her hair and grins!! "Hot damn. Like it's not hard enough around there. But I'm sure not running you in."

She doesn't say anything as the success is achieved, Jake's gotten the man there, and the statues are outside of her reach. Cat just glances at the blonde, then her arm, and over at Jake as if to say in silence that Mr. Thespuda isn't done here.

"What do say, brother?" asks Jake after reading Cat's look. He gestures at Liz and asks, "You know you can do it. So you gonna give it a shot at fixing her arm or do we have to tear it off and get her a new one made?"

Oleander looks very seriously at Elisabeth, though, and says, "No. I should go to the police station. It was an accident. And now, since I can learn to control it, I want to be able to go back to my life. My house. I will go to the police station with you. I will not tell that you broke me out of the cages — I will just come in the front door and ask for you, and turn myself in. You promised on the bridge to help me. And this is what I must do so that my wife and my children are safe. I must go and let them test me, make sure that I do not do this to anyone else again." He smiles slightly. "I come to this country, and I live by the rules. I work hard. I do not want to be fugitive. I am American now." He smirks at Jake. "Come, come," Oleander gestures to Elisabeth. "I try. And I am sorry for this — I did not mean to hurt you last night."

Elisabeth watches the man and nods slowly. She may not agree with forcible registration, but she completely understands his viewpoint. "All right," she says quietly. "We'll do that when we get back to the city, okay? Cat will take you to a safe place. Don't come to police headquarters until 4pm." It's barely 7am right now, so he'll have the day to do what he needs to, but honestly? Elisabeth has things she needs to do, too. Not the least of which is grab some sleep. She grins at the man and says, "Yeah…. I know you didn't." Stepping forward, she'll offer her petrified arm to the man who made it that way. Oh yeah, she's nervous as hell, but… well, if he starts at the elbow, at least if it goes wrong, she's not losing MORE of her arm, right?

"I'll get you to shelter for the day," Cat replies with a nod. "Then you can go to the police from there and do what you feel you must, sir, after 4 pm." She speaks quietly, and reallyreally hopes he doesn't wind up in Moab after registering, or when trying to register. He's going to have a hard enough time sorting things with his family after what happened, but hopefully they love the man enough to accept he's getting help and not be terrified. However it turns out, the choice is entirely his.

Satisfied with himself, Jake apparently has no fear of this guy turning him to stone because he pats Oleander on the shoulder before walking away. "I'm gonna see if there's any cold beer left in the cooler. I told Zuzu to pack it full of ice. We'll see." Beer is, after all, a priority.

It takes a little bit of time, Oleander's a bit nervous and there are several moments of 'whoops, we backstepped!' But ultimately, he is able to turn Elisabeth's arm back to its normal state, and Elisabeth's grin is nearly as big as Oleander's. The relief makes her actually have to sit down for a minute. And then she looks at Cat and says, "let's get the heck out of here." She grins toward Jake. "Nice meeting you, Jake. Hope we get to work together again!" she offers. And then she rounds up Oleander and Trask and Cat, and well…. they all drive back to the city. Follow the yellow brick road and all that jazz!

March 12th: What Side Of The Line Are You On?
March 12th: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
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