Speak Your Mind. Please.


cat_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Speak Your Mind. Please.
Synopsis A meeting some time after bitter arguments.
Date February 16, 2009

Cat's Penthouse in the Village Renaissance Building

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.

Though the weather has warmed up enough that - when out of the wind - the temperature is marginally above freezing, Ygraine has still chosen to wrap up warmly (and anonymously) for her trip across town. Clad in her all-black biking gear, she has worked her way through the layers of security to arrive at Cat's penthouse pad. Once there, she remembers to remove her helmet, hair coiled up in a heavy bundle of braiding and pins, the loose end tucked down the back of her jacket.

She knew the visitor was coming, and acted to make the elevator come to the top floor, watching her enter by means of the camera monitors she keeps in one of the locked rooms. Shortly after Debater reaches those doors Cat opens them and lets her in.

Found in a pair of sweats, athletic shoes, and a sports bra Cat seems to have been doing some sort of exercise. "Debater," she greets calmly.
The corners of her mouth lift, in a quick, nervous smile, that is matched by the tentative raising of one hand. "Hi", Ygraine says. "Ummm. May I come in?"
"Of course," she answers, moving toward the interior of the place a bit. Cat lets out a quiet chuckle. "If the answer were no, would you have gotten this far?"

Ygraine shrugs nervously, then manages a chuckle of her own. "Depends on how angry you were with me. You could just have left me staring at the inside of a steel box for a while." She does move to get out of said box, glancing around as she follows Cat. "How blunt or carefully polite would you like this conversation to be?"
"Why would I be angry with you?" Cat asks, closing the door and securing it. "You weren't the one threatening to have me and everyone close to me in this city locked away in deep dark holes. I've not told anyone else about that. And I don't plan to."

She starts toward the kitchen, asking "Thirsty?" over her shoulder along the way, followed by a calmly said "Speak your mind. Please."

"You… were upset", says Ygraine sadly, though she follows behind. "And yes, please, to a drink. Fruit juice, or… d'you have hot chocolate? I'm somewhat addicted. Ummm. Anyway." She glances down, turning the start of twisting her hands around each other into a move to strip off her gloves. "I was worried that it was at least partly with me. You… you did say some things that hurt, so I was worried I'd hurt you, too."

It takes some time to reach the kitchen from the door at the far left end of the penthouse, Cat a bit quiet along the way. When she gets there, water is set on to boil and chocolate powder pulled from a cabinet. "It wasn't in any way pleasant, no. My temper let loose in a very rare way, this is entirely true. It troubled me you weren't aiding. I'd said everything concerns were spoken about would be worked on, and still found myself under attack. Treated like dirt, despite having bent over backwards to ease her mind."

She moves over to check the water for readiness periodically, musing "How would replication be worked in tandem with other abilities?"

After all that, she's actually brainstorming ways to address the issues raised.

Ygraine musters a wry smile. "I don't even know what other abilities might be available to combine with it. Heck, I think I might now know more about the Sailing Club's routine operations than I do about Phoenix's - I was explicitly told when I joined that I was just being shown the one site, the Library, and that more'd be revealed if I proved trustworthy. D'you think I've had run-downs on what people can do? I had to push to even find out what my _mission_ team-mates could do, in detail."

Ygraine chuckles and shakes her head. "But I'd certainly like to have the chance to study it in a safe environment. Find out if Jennifer can perfectly copy data stored on various media, and if so, how stable it is. Whether she can duplicate batteries with charge. Whether she finds some shapes easier to work with than others. Whether some matter is easier than others…. We _could_ try this at home, but… filling the place with duplicate televisions, computers, and items of furniture might be good training, but'll get us visited by the cops as we suddenly turn into retail suppliers of household goods."

The Briton pauses momentarily, then rather sheepishly asks, "or, ummm, were you asking about Brian's ability?"

"Brian? No. I don't call that replication. I call that self-cloning." A quiet chuckle escapes as Cat sets down two mugs and looks over at the water again briefly. "It also fits to study her limits and expand them. And there are underlying talents. We may be returning to media projects soon. That could require an actress."

"But what's also needed is a place to do so safely, and store what's created. And her cooperation, which isn't likely, given her decision to hate me for no reason."

Ygraine sorrowfully shakes her head. "Mis-communication on both sides. And a severe case of shooting the messenger, I fear. It was in large part Jen's fiery passion that… made her stand out so much for me. It's not as if I've never seen a hot girl before in my life, and I've even met ones who were both hot and smart. But… that fire does have its drawbacks when she's infuriated. Phoenix, she feels dehumanised her - and then people seemed anxious to defend dehumanising others, even if that had seemingly been taken to the extent of throwing their lives away in a half-planned operation that didn't bother using all the resources available, or even finding out exactly what resources were available…. That it succeeded, neither of us have attacked. Nor have we said that nothing should have been done. We've just dared to conclude that people dying while others sat idle should be taken as firm proof that things could have been handled better."

Ygraine sighs. "Now, that may well be an entirely unfair representation of what happened - but it's the impression she has, and that I partly share, albeit in… less complete and vitriolic form. But the… tone of some of the responses to her at the meeting merely reinforced it. You… you got things taken out on you because you supported Phoenix - which she took, in her anger, as meaning that you supported Phoenix as she saw it, and as she'd experienced it. Basic conflictual behaviour, unfortunately. Sadly, in inter-personal communication, the truth of a situation is often invisible - what people respond to's what they think they see, not what's really underlying things. And… she saw you as the defender of an organisation that chewed up and destroyed people. And you were wanting us to commit to staying in, to _be_ chewed up and thrown away in future. I think she's wrong - but can you understand her anger, given that perception?"

She's quiet and calm in face and words as she speaks now. "I save my anger for Kazimir Volken and his Vanguard, for making the situation exist. I said the plan could've been better, time and time again. Any operation like that is risky by its very nature."

"No amount of training would have made it less so, even if we were all as highly trained and practiced as a team of Special Forces operators… in your parlance, SAS members. To make my point," Cat pours water into a mug and spoons in drink mix, then stirs it, "we couldn't possibly anticipate New Jersey police being where I went with Al and two Brians. But there they were, and I believe that drew Homeland Satan down atop us."

"I made my peace with dying at age twenty-six when Ethan had me captive, I never expected to be released. The things we do, in this organization, are important enough for me to kill, or die, for. I get the distinct sense from you, and her, that you aren't willing to take that risk, that you won't accept any plan which isn't perfect and won't guarantee absolutely no one is killed or captured. If that's so, then it's so and I'm not troubled by that."

"But what positively makes me want to throttle her is threatening to turn us all in."

Ygraine lifts her brows, then chuckles dryly. "You still think that? I _know_ I've told you that I risked my life - my only one, in its entirety - to spare Brian from experiencing the death of another clone. D'you really think that I'd do that if I thought I was so special, worth so much? This isn't about eliminating risk - it's about valuing people. Eliminating what risks _can_ be taken out, yes - but I'm a speed freak who tackles downhill descents wearing a cycling helmet and lycra, even if what happened at ConEd's ruled out as some sort of strange aberration not worth considering."

The Briton moves to prop her rump against a suitable supporting surface. "Personally… most of my anger after I came to my sense enough to feel anything other than ill and confused was directed at Edward. The bastard blows our identities to Feds, at a meeting to which we were specifically told to come incognito. Feds then swoop in and grab people at _every_ site for which he provided any sort of detailed plan. The only site I know of at which they don't grab someone is the only site for which his total plan was "make something up". That looked _really_, really suspicious to me. Now… I'm less sure, I admit. The Feds appear to have no interest in me, even though punting me out of the country'd be a matter of a phone call to Immigration to get my visa rescinded "on suspicion of criminal associations", and it looks like those Feds who were there are helping with some sort of cover-up… but for a good while, my fury was aimed at Ray, for - I thought - fucking us over so very, very badly, and for planning such a cocked-up mess. That we achieved our main aim's always been fabulous, in both meanings of the word - believe me, it really is. But…"

Ygraine shrugs ruefully. "Neither Jen nor myself will join in with what some others - not you, I know - seem to want, and eulogise the whole thing as fabulous because the events are sanctified by the demise of the honoured dead. For me, to fail to try to do better is to fail to put _real_ value on those deaths. But… that's in part a different conception of conflict. I could witter on about the different notions of what constitutes an elite force as an illustration, but I'm already nervous enough I'm lapsing into lecture-mode. Sorry."

She listens, just listens, until the Briton has spoken her piece. It's only then Cat replies. "I started on that the morning after the battles, Debater. Finding people, getting accounts of what happened, what went wrong, thinking of how it could maybe have been better. You're assuming no one else thinks that way. You're assuming they don't value people. I tell you, again, you're wrong. If that were true, we'd not be working on ways to get the imprisoned back without getting others locked up in their place. I've told you again and again I'd be bouncing ideas and analyses off of you."

"But it's never enough. I keep talking, and talking, and you won't let us move forward to see what develops. If it came to an operation in the future with a plan you felt was hopelessly flawed, that would be the time to speak up. As is stands now, I can't move beyond what's already done in any conversation with you. So I choose not so discuss the matter anymore. I'll simply focus on finding ways to use abilities in combinations and exploring other talents."

The stirred mug is handed to Ygraine.

Ygraine chuckles again, accepting the mug. "I'm here _to_ try to move forward. But… it's only going to work if you also accept some of the things _I_ repeat, y'know, otherwise we'll still be mired in the past whatever I say or do. I know I refuted your… accusation of valuing my "sacrifices" more than other people's - even Dani's life - there at the apartment. Yet you came back to the idea, in milder form, just now. And if I didn't want to move forward, to see things improve, none of this'd matter at all. There'd be no reason for me to be here. But I made contact, and I came."

The Briton shakes her head, taking a cautious sip of the hot liquid in her mug. "D'you honestly think I'd be here if I weren't eager to find a way _to_ let us help each other help the world? I'd like to find some way to avoid having to choose between Jen and any sort of association with any member of Phoenix. And yes, that'll involve trying to show her other points of view, too. I think she's right to be angry at how she was treated, among other things. I think that she may well be better-suited to the Ferrymen than Phoenix. I think she's wrong to have taken it out on you - and I've said so, to your face, already in this conversation. And I've said I know that you're wanting to change and improve things."

The Briton shrugs once more, taking another, longer sip. "If you still think, for all that I deny it, that I put myself above others and am paranoid about risk - then yeah, you'd better count me out. You can't rely on me if you don't trust me. But if you're willing to accept the word of someone who thought she was a friend, then… I'd like to help. Even if I have huge doubts about Helena's leadership, she's not in charge now. Teo made the right noises at the meeting, about seeing that things improved for the better. Recognising your role de jure to support the de facto situation was a good move, as I've said before. And if I thought you were evil, Hell-bent on getting myself and Jen slaughtered - I sure wouldn't be here sipping hot chocolate. Even if I am best used as a consultant, or house-sitter, or courier for the Sailing Club… I _want_ to be best-used. Part of that "best use" is the long-term goal living a happy life with someone I love… that's an active good, if a minor one in terms of its impact on the world as a whole. But I honestly think that I can do more."

Debate has ended. They'll do what they'll do, Cat realizes. Jennifer will return, or she won't. Teo will take her back, or she won't. Debater will stay, or she won't. She doesn't give more thought or words to things gone before. Instead, her focus goes to the future as she makes her own mug of heated chocolate. "We need a good place to experiment with what Jennifer does, and I'll try to cook up some role for her in media operations, where she can put her talent and studies to work aside from the replicating ability." It's a minefield, Cat knows, to mention that, as it would need Jen's cooperation and risks just taking them back into hashing over what happened again and again infinitely, but she has to try.

Ygraine laughs gently. "I… well. I make no promises as to results. I'm all too painfully aware that I'm an analyst, not an eloquent charmer. But… I'm eager for all three of us to check out options, rather than ruling them out through anger. Or having them ruled out by other people's. I'm not at all sure that _other_ people in Phoenix will want to work with either of us, but… all I can try to handle is my end, eh? I'll have another chat to Jen about this, and see what she thinks now that things are calmer. I'd hazard a guess it's safe to say that the "old" leadership'll only ever get her services indirectly - she's totally lost faith, there. But I do have hopes that I can persuade her that helping you won't be condemning either of us to a needless death."

Another cautious sip, followed by some pensive eyeing of her drink - then Ygraine peeps up. "How much should I read into you saying nothing in direct response to my mention of friendship?", she asks nervously.

"Does anything need to be said, confirming that, Debater?" Cat asks. "You're here, we're talking, and I kept it quiet what was threatened. I should think that says it all. If we weren't friends, it wouldn't be like this.

Ygraine lets relief show clearly on her face. "I… was worried. Given what you thought about me", she confesses, albeit apparently to her hot chocolate. "I'm not sure I could like someone who was like… what you said about me."

Nothing is said now, Cat simply enjoys her chocolate, her face showing that savoring.

Ygraine peeps up again after a few seconds of awkward silence, then musters a lop-sided smile. "Either I'm fretting too much, or you really suck at reassuring worried friends", she observes, tone somewhat teasing. "Or both, of course. I think that might be the accurate option."

"I've been told I suck numerous times," Cat quips deadpan. "I'm sure there'll be many more times to come."

Ygraine snorts, then pokes her tongue out. "No teasing the prudish Brit", she protests. "I… sympathised with Dani about the stresses of having a far more gorgeous, visibly talented, creative girlfriend. Even… of late, when some of your words really hurt, I've wanted you to be my friend. I like you enough to risk Jen's ire for speaking to you. I was _really_ scared… well. I'm babbling again. How out of character."

"She undersold herself, time and again, each time I'd say nonsense," Cat recalls, her eyes going distant and settling on a wall. I never thought her less than equal for not having an Evolved talent of her own. Dani was enough, and more."

When she emerges from that, she simply offers "There was nothing to be scared about."

Ygraine chuckles softly. "I don't think that she was envious of the Evolved ability, per se. Not that I saw, anyway. More… the breadth of your talents. And being beautiful to top it off was just a needless extra gift, from whatever source you deem appropriate to hold responsibility."

"It was the blueblood way, making me something of a renaissance woman. Ballet, ballroom dance, music, top-notch schools and academics. Father and Mother drove me to learn bits of just about everything. In Father's eyes it would help me in the business or political world, and in Mother's it would make me all the more valuable as the wife of a CEO or politician, all the more able to aid his career. I worked hard, wanting to please them, and was miserable. Got worse the first time I picked up a guitar. Tried to study music alone at Yale, Father insisted I aim at being a lawyer. So I started taking two degree paths."

Ygraine cracks a wry grin. "Doesn't quite explain the talent at such things, however. I'm an above-average musician, bridge-player, chess-player, runner, footballer…. I only actually excel at road and track cycling and the academic analysis of failing systems of communication. Everything else, I was good enough to be on the team, or play in the school orchestra, or…. I can draw a picture which'll recognisably be a picture of you - but no way is it professional standard. You… your tendencies towards polymathy are a bit intimidating at times, and I _had_ the comfortably-off exposure to many options and paths."

"My talent and passion is music," Cat offers with a slight grin. "Everything else is just stuff I know, in my eyes. Law is extremely useful stuff I know, along with the political science. The kicker is my memory means everything I perceive is stuff I know. I went back and re-read things I read before it started, to have that recall. It doesn't make me more than you. It's just a different tool in the box."

"Can be a scary one", says Ygraine with a warm smile. "And I've been told that I scare people. At least given my tendency to obsess about pushing myself to do more. Still… at least you're moderately modest with it, eh?"

"Yes," Cat replies, returning to her chocolate.

Ygraine sticks her tongue out once more, expression fond, then once more returns to her own mug of cocoa.

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