Plausible Deniability


cardinal_icon.gif cat_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Plausible Deniability
Synopsis Serious business is covered.
Date April 27, 2009

Somewhere in Greenwich Village

She's not at home right now, in fact Cat is a few blocks away from home. She slipped out the back and avoided the crowd of reporters outside her building with Abby on their minds, making a call to Elisabeth along the way to say they should meet. There's information to share and talk over. Not far from the designated location there's one of those open-air newspaper and magazine sellers.

Here Cat stops, her eyes drawn by the New York Times. She buys a copy, and as she's ready to move along she notices an arts publication for indie lifestyles. It too is purchased and slipped under her left arm.

Just a few minutes later she's at the meeting place, seated with a vanilla mocha cappucino before her. The guitar case and backpack are next to her table, she's in a tank top and short skirt of pale colors and running shoes. That arts publication is set down and spread out, being perused.

The tenor of that call didn't sound good, so Elisabeth slipped out of her precinct and headed to meet Cat. It's easy enough to do these days, since no one seems able to keep track of where anyone in SCOUT is at any given moment — although Liz is seriously considering asking Hana to find some kind of freakin' lo-jack system for humans so she can lo-jack Felix's ass.

Arriving at the stand, she glances around and moves toward Cat's seat, dropping into the chair across from her. "Hey… what's up?"

Somewhere along the way, the policewoman picked up a shadow. She might ordinarily notice it, given that it's her job to not be tailed, but she can be forgiven in this case, as it's a /literal/ shadow.

It's okay, though. It's a friendly one. Mostly.

It's an outdoor cafe, sure enough, her seat in a shaded area a bit away from other people to make conversation less overhearable in addition to the officer's talents. There are even shadows for the Shadow to blend in with. Cat doesn't know he's here yet, but he has others of his kin to associate with and blend among just the same.

She looks up at the woman joining her and offers a thin smile. "Interesting things," she answers. "Information from Tokyo, and a conversation with a minister I had." Yes, it does seem this is a good time for a Cone to be conjured. Her eyes lower again, she moves to the next page in the arts paper.

Once she slides into her seat, Elisabeth does erect the silence bubble around them to avoid eavesdroppers…. though she doesn't realize there's a third person within the boundaries as yet. Elisabeth smiles faintly. "Please, God, tell me Hiro had some kind of useful information for us." The minister part she'll get to in a minute.

The shadow's just about to make itself known, in fact, when the mention of 'Tokyo' and 'Hiro' cause it to pause. It blends and mingles with the shadows beneath the table for the moment, and Richard Cardinal listens. Always best to enter a conversation informed, after all.

"I didn't talk to him directly," Cat begins, her face clouding into a less than happy expression. "I talked with his sister. She tells me the man in the photo is the one who switched his ability." Silence there for a few beats, what comes after is the bombshell. "With Nathan Petrelli." The arts paper is neglected for the moment, the page with information about current and upcoming features at art house theatres showing.

Elisabeth goes very still, shock etching her features. "It was Tyler Case?? Well, I'll be a goddamned monkey's uncle," she breathes. "Wait…. doesn't he have to have proximity? How the hell did the PRESIDENT get into proximity of a raid on Moab and no one hear about it? And … are you sure they're switched? And are you sure it's into each other and not into some random other person??"

None of this is good news. Somehow, the shadow's unsurprised - it's never good news. It's informative, though, so he keeps quiet for now.

When she next speaks, some light is potentially shed on the officer's question. "Teo didn't say he was at Moab when I told him," Cat reports, "and Hiro's sister says it may be a future iteration of Nathan Petrelli. So my guess is at some point Hiro, Tyler, and the alleged President were co-located."

Her cappucino is tasted, then set down, Cat then continuing.

"I was given a vision recently, in which I was at a theatre. A film was playing. There was a clock which got ripped apart after suffering from opposing forces trying to move the hands back and forward. The film died out, people started to leave, and then… there was a woman with sky blue hair speaking to me. She said it was ironic the last thing she saw is the lives of others. It will all change, and hasn't happened yet, because 'he' came back. Injuries appeared while she spoke. Split lip, bruises on her throat, she was dying."

On the page of that arts newspaper there is a quarter-page ad, a black and white poster.


Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

NOTE: This film will not be subtitled and will run in its original German.

The film is listed as playing at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village. It plays for three nights, from the 30th of April til the second of May, 7:30 PM.

Elisabeth looks completely confused. "So…. you got a vision of going to see this movie?" She's totally not following.

There's a terrible view from under the table, unless one counts legs. Which are very nice, in Cardinal's estimation, but not particularly informative. So the shadow slips up the leg of Elisabeth's chair, up her back and whispers down over one shoulder so that he can see the paper and the other woman. Of course, while she might not notice - Cat might notice the contrast of a shadow falling over Liz's shoulder while nothing moves to block the light.

Quite apparently Cat hasn't noticed the advertisement yet. Her attention is with Elisabeth, making her head tilt a bit at the odd shadow action. The spot is stared at for a long moment, and a quiet smile forms on her features.

"Yes," she starts, "so then there I was, getting the image of Richard Cardinal enjoying the carnal company of three Hollywood actresses and two members of the New York Liberty WNBA squad burned into my brain. I tell you, I never needed to see that!"

But just a few beats later she's explaining things for the officer a bit. "Clock being broken, hands coming off after being manipulated by opposing forces trying to move them forward and back. Think about it," she encourages. "Then the woman saying everything would change, 'he' came back. And being told Hiro got switched by a future iteration of Nathan Petrelli."

Okay, now she's REALLY lost. Elisabeth has this expression on her face of 'W.T.F??' "What on EARTH are you talking about, Cat? Are you okay?"

A low, hollow chuckle stirs right beside Elisabeth's head, as Cardinal observes with a hint of amusement in his tone, "You know, there could be other shadow-walkers in the world, Cat. You shouldn't assume." A pause, "Don't mind me. I just have something to talk to you both about when you're done."

Elisabeth literally jumps two feet in the air and lets out one of those short girly screams of startlement, her head whipping around to see … nothing. Right behind her head. "God fucking DAMN it, Richard, DON'T DO THAT!!" Her heart is racing a hundred miles a second now, and she says, "Ugh! You know, the least you could do if you're goign to slither around me is make it worth my while!"

Then she looks at Cat. "Okay…. so what you're telling me doesn't have anything to do with this?" Liz points at the movie ad. "I thought you were telling me you'd dreamed that before you saw it or something. If our people went forward in time, it stands to reason some future people might have come back… and holy fucking shit is that a big problem! They could change EVERYTHING or ANYTHING they didn't like."

Her eyes watch the officer nearly jump out of her clothing and roundly curse the Shadow, the expression one which suggests a mild boredom. "Yes," Cat states with her eyes on the spot from whence the unbodied voice comes, "he was getting busy with all these women. It made my eyes burn, almost bleed. But there was a trace of humor." A smile spreads, she lifts her right hand to place the thumb and index finger close to each other, just millimeters apart, and nods once without saying more, hoping Elisabeth will get it.

Then she goes back to business, apparently thinking her jab will cover the subject of unannounced arrivals by Shadows well. "I don't know about people coming back, and haven't seen any proof of ours going forward, though their absence could be for that reason, nor is it proven still this is the real Hiro and sister. It's just likely they are."

Only then does Cat look at the ad and read it. She goes quiet, just staring at the thing.

That may have been a laugh in the middle of the screaming and cursing, but the only comment from the shadow - as the police officer settles back into her seat - is a mild, "Well, if you were all interested in a threesome, you only needed to ask."

Rolling her eyes at Cardinal, Liz doesn't dignify that with an answer. She smirks at Cat's gesture, catching the reference with a wink at the other woman. "Well, if they were co-located with a future version of the President…." she pauses.

"A jailed version? We know that the people we've recovered so far have been scattered in time, we just have to hope that none of them have gone back in time. And the idea of a future Petrelli in there would support the idea that they went forward … just further forward than you or Teo did, Cat." She sighs. "Still, that leaves us in the dark on how to fix that." While Cat looks at the ad, Elisabeth asks Richard, "So what is it that you needed, shadowman?"

"The lives of others," Cat remarks under her breath while reading the ad. "She claimed that's the last thing she sees, and it's ironic, just before telling me it would all change and 'he' came back. "He' is probably Nathan Petrelli. But it could be other people too. A group. And ours could be where they are. The painting, the mirror image…"

"We have three days before the film starts playing to check the theatre out. I'll go there soon and see if the woman is around. She could be someone who works there, attends films regularly there, or will attend this one. Maybe all of those possibilities. For whatever reason she's important, and it seems someone intends to murder her."

"A group of people…" A thoughtful sound stirs, rasping, from the shadow, "…I may have something for you there. I'll consult the Brill collection." Cardinal holds on his own business, however, until they're finished with what Cat's discussing about the theatre.

Elisabeth blows out a breath and says quietly, "It could also be a completely subjective dream — this particular movie may have nothing to do with it. I just thought you were talking about how you'd dreamt about seeing that movie, that's all. It was a leap in logic." She shrugs a bit, leaving Cardinal to tell or not tell as he likes.

"But by all means, go to the theater. It's not like we have any better leads that I know of…. aside from the fact that there might be TWO Nathan Petrellis here or something."

"Nathan Petrelli manipulating space and time," Cat remarks, "at that. If they came to alter things, why? Is Nathan trying to undo something he did, do something he didn't, or is it all just random that he, Tyler, and Hiro were co-located?" Lacking more info, she settles on the one thing it does appear she can have an effect upon. The woman.

"I'd like you to come with me if you can," she requests. "And I've another project to tackle soon. Dispersing the press crowd Abby's drawn to the building where she lives. But first I'd like to try convincing her to embrace it. Who are we to say God didn't put the injured and dying man in her path so she'd be captured on camera and become a sympathetic figure in the public eye? We all know she is who she is. If the situation or one similar played out in front of her again, she'd do the same thing. She wouldn't let someone die, cameras be damned, and that fact means she may have to simply accept such attention."

"It's all that humility," opins Cardinal, a drapery of shadow across Elisabeth's shoulders, "She doesn't want to… take credit for, or reward for, 'God's Gift'. You'll have a hell of a time convincing her otherwise."

"I'll come with you if you want," Liz replies. And then she grimaces visibly. "Christ…. and then she went and gave an interview. I wish Abby hadn't done that part, but… if she or the building's owner complain, I can put a couple of uniforms on the door to the building." She grins a little. "I'm pretty sure I can get Harvard to approve that — what with Abby's high Evo profile."

"It'll be difficult to get them dispersed, since no laws have been broken, they're on public property and don't impede access or exit," Cat remarks. "I'm not sure she gave the interview, it may have been some kind soul using her face to try and help get the heat off. But I don't see it as an entirely bad thing. Except for my concerns over such attention on her possibly leading to those she associates with."

"Her humility does weigh in, but she's a rational and practical woman. She won't be able to say with certainty all this wasn't God's plan to put her in place as a sympathetic symbol showing that an oppressed people aren't all bad, we needn't be feared. In the Bible, also, there are numerous stories of people enduring hardships for their faith. Who are we to say she isn't being shown the same? God works in mysterious ways, after all.

"Then there's the practical fact she'll draw attention again at some point. She's the Red Cross, she heals all comers, and if a man lay dying she'd heal, cameras or not."

"Perhaps," Cat suggests, "she should tell the story of how her name was leaked from the Registry and it caused her to be abducted, held on Staten Island. Shine the spotlight on someone else who wants it not."

"It's not a bad idea," admits Cardinal, "I still don't know if she'd go for it, but, if she's giving interviews now… she seemed kind of weird about it, come to think of it, when it came on… anyhow." There's a moment's silence from the shadow, before he asks in careful tones, "I… need some information, and a favor. And I can't have anyone knowing I asked for it, outside of you two and the people involved."

Elisabeth purses her lips and contradicts them both forcefully. "No. First of all, we only have Logan's word — which doesn't, to me, constitute a reliable source — for the idea that it happened. And second of all, if she goes public with that accusation, it will be a serious allegation that she has no proof to back up. And it may turn the cops against her. I want to be able to call in help for her at any time, and allowing that allegation to get out without anything to back it up jeopardizes me being able to mobilize them — at this moment, she needs to remain as sympathetic a figure as humanly possible."

She looks at Cat. "In addition, even SCOUT can't pull up names of Tier 0 Evolveds on the computer databases we have access to. So if it did come from a cop, it came from Homeland somehow. And that's a pretty big mess right there. Again, with not a shred of proof to back up the allegation. Let's not go there."

Elisabeth glances toward the shadow and asks, "What kind of favor?" She's a little suspicious — after all, the last one he asked of her put them both in some jeopardy, possibly.

She thinks in silence for a long moment, seeming to come to a middle point. "She doesn't have to say she was exposed through the Registry, true enough. Her activities could have been witnessed by someone who told John Logan, and it doesn't matter how he found her. The important thing would be putting press attention on him for having abducted and abused her, yes?"

"Or we could shelve the idea, this time, and work to disperse the attention without comment to Abby. This time. Because I think we each know there'll be a next time."

Once silent, she eyes the Shadow's last location, waiting to hear his favor.

"There'll always be a next time, with Abigail…" A pause, and then Cardinal says quietly, almost reluctantly from his shadowy sprawl, "First, I need… information about two former members of the Vanguard. A man named 'Adam Monroe', and a man called 'Ethan', reputedly very good at making people die."

Elisabeth doesn't agree with them … if only because she keeps hoping that they're wrong, that Abby will never have to suffer that way again. The sight of the emaciated healer they rescued has even put paid to her teasing of the healer about being a kidnap magnet. She glances at Cat when he asks for information on Adam and Ethan. "The only thing I know about Adam Monroe is that Sylar was after him. Ethan…. Cat's a better source than I." If there's anyone higher on Cat's shit list than Homeland Security, it's Ethan. "But why do you need to know?" she asks the shadow.

She hadn't meant that Abby would be kidnapped or in danger again, but rather the healer will be who she is, and in doing so will gather attention. The press exposure will recur, and embracing it brings her benefits. If she were to be taken and vanish again, the sheer numbers who could be mobilized to search for and rescue such a sympathetic figure… Police wouldn't be able to claim excuses for not getting busy, under that scrutiny… But Cat sets that aside for another time.

Cardinal's request has an effect on her. "Ethan…" Fingers grip the table, the knuckles become white, her features harden. "… is someone I'd like to kill. Smash each bone in his body with a hammer until he begs to die. But I won't, unless he becomes a threat to me and people around me. Eileen Ruskin, for whatever reason, sees him as a father figure, and she asked me not to. There's no point in punishing her, and holding on to vengeance gives him power over me."

"But I never said I wouldn't share what I know with anyone."

"That tells me enough about him, then…" Cardinal doesn't answer Elisabeth's question, not immediately, silent in thought for passing moments before he asks, "…and Monroe? Do you have anything on him?"

"Adam Monroe was once featured in a piece of precognitive art, clad in Samurai gear. He is known to regenerate, and was a target of Sylar, before he began using the name Gabriel and turned to less murderous pursuits," Cat shares, calling up her mental file on the man. I know little else. But Ethan…"

The memories are fresh as any other, like they just happened moments before. "He's a sadist, he likes to play games. My partner and I were taken captive by him and Odessa Knutson, a woman who once worked with the Company and stole the virus Kazimir Volken intended to use from them."

"When we woke, we were bound. He started by saying he doesn't play games, then played a game. He said he would ask questions, and if he didn't like the answers, he would amputate body parts from the other person as penalty. Answers he didn't like, mind you. Not just false answers. That told me it didn't matter what we did or said, the likelihood of getting out alive was none. So I told him nothing, and he cut her thumb off."

"Samurai armor." A bemused repetition of Cat's words, as Richard considers them as if they had some meaning to him - or, at least, suggest at some meaning. Then he falls silent to listen to the explaination given of Ethan. Once she's stopped speaking for a moment, the shadowman replies with a sound of revulsion and the flat comment, "Lovely."

The muted rage and the steely restraint remain in Cat's eyes as she resumes speaking. "I was traded for Eileen Ruskin, against my will. I tried to resist being let go when I realized we weren't just being moved, and failed. Dani was kept, her release tied to an impossible demand of giving up a technopath working with us. It was weeks later when I was contacted and told her bones were found in a field, her body was burned."

"But, to be fair, he did in the end work to take down Volken and end his plans. As did Eileen."

"Pleasant fellow." It's dry as ash, that whisper from the shadows, and silence follows for long moments before Cardinal says in tight tones, "The favor, then. I need to be placed in touch with Nakamura, and I need to be in touch with him as soon as possible if what I overheard earlier from you two was true. His life may well depend upon it."

Her features don't shift much, the eyes remain on the spot Cat believes the Shadow occupies. "I will make contact, and tell him how to contact you. I would ask you tell me some details of what the situation entails to send when I make that contact, that you are given credence through being linked to me."

"It's no longer a favor, Mr. Cardinal. Hiro is a friend, and threats against him are serious."

"Tell him…" A lingering pause, "…that the sins of the father are being called to account. It is not just he that is in danger." The shadow spills over the table, the long shadow of a bird resting there upon the flat top, rising and falling with the texture and the newspaper it falls across, "I'd tell you more, but this is… a delicate situation. If they find out that I'm not… entirely on board with their intentions… you understand my situation, Cat."

"I do," Cat replies somberly. "I will pass on that Adam Monroe and Ethan are the ones making that call to account. Do you, also, know where Eileen Ruskin is? I would like to speak with her, very soon. As to Adam, I hadn't known he was attached to the Vanguard. I can't say from direct knowledge what kind of person he is, but him having been among that lot speaks volumes."

"Laudani told me that she was dead after John decided to make an example of her," replies Cardinal in tones of dark humor, "Although he wasn't terribly convincing. I take it that isn't entirely true?"

"I don't know at present if she's alive or dead. Since we last spoke, John Logan may have done so. I can neither confirm nor deny what Teo told you. But if it was false, it was perhaps that he needed Logan to believe it true." It's a minefield for Cat. How to speak of Eileen without contradicting Teo. It makes her fume a bit inwardly for not having known there was a story out there of Eileen allegedly being dead in potential need of support. Not that she wasn't already in the turf of rage from being reminded of and speaking about Ethan.

A faint chuckle stirs in the shadow at those words. "Plausible deniability," Cardinal murmurs, before there's the rasping hiss of a sigh from the shadows across the table as they begin to recede, "Thank you. I'll let you know when there's… more that I can let you know."

"Thank you, Mr. Cardinal," Cat replies. Then she turns to Elisabeth. "We've a theatre to check out when you're ready, and I have a call to Japan to make." Cappucino is downed, gear is gathered, printed materials taken in hand, and she departs the location.

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