Thank You


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Scene Title Thank You
Synopsis Hiro is repeatedly thankful as things are discussed.
Date March 7, 2009

Village Renaissance Building, Recording Studio

Studio A is spacious and bright, with dramatic views to the north and east along Lafayette and 4th streets. The abundance of natural light provides our clients with a relaxing environment in which to work. This tracking and mixing room features a 72 input SSL 9000J series console and a ProTools HD 3 Accell system.

Studio B is a perfect vocal tracking, overdub and production facility. This wing features a comfortable control room with a Yamaha DM 2000 console and Protools HD 3 Accell system as well as an intimate live room, ideal for both vocals and instrumentals. In keeping with the atmosphere throughout our facility, both our B control and live rooms have plenty of natural light with views of east Manhattan. A separate lounge adjacent to the studio rooms provides a place to relax while maintaining our clients' complete privacy from the rest of the studio.

Studio C is a production and writing room.

"My woman from Tok-y-ohhh, she makes me seee, my woman from Tok-y-o, she's so good to meee…" Cat is in the studio with guitar in hand, the instrument in turn plugged directly into the recording consoles on the other side of the wall. Said machinery is visible through a window. There's no engineer or producer present, however; she's laying down this cover track of a Deep Purple tune on her own to see how she translates to the medium. Her plan is to edit the silence before she started and after finishing away.

Near her are two phones; the iPhone and a disposable one. Fingers work the guitar's strings and frets in her best approximation of Ritchie Blackmore's playing style.

One of the phones rings. It's the one Hiro has the number for, the ID on the call showing up as the phone that Cat gave to Hiro. So obviously, Hiro is calling. Not that anybody who didn't literally remember everything they ever saw would know that offhand without a lot of attention paid.

Her fingers go still, she picks the device up and presses the appropriate button. A cursory glance at the number tells her who's calling. Cat doesn't keep numbers and such in the memory of her phones, there's really no need, and it's a minor security measure. If one were ever lost, persons finding it would need connections to access commercial enterprise phone records. They can't simply check out data kept stored.

Her voice follows. "Good evening, Hiro." It sounds like she's in a decent mood.

"Hello, Cat. Would you mind a visit? I have some things to talk about." comes Hiro's voice. He's gotten noticeably more considerate since they've developed more of a rapport.

"Not at all, Hiro." Her voice reflects intrigue. Hiro having things to talk about catches her interest easily. "I'm on the fifth floor right now, in a part of my recording studio which corresonds to the row of windows facing the street on the top floor." Cat isn't sure he needs the description of her physical location to arrive safely in his customary manner as Anne does, but it certainly can't hurt to provide one. And she won't insist or even think of him arriving just outside a elevator on this level and using the door.

"Oh yes. I know that spot." A pause and he says, "I'm waiting outside the studio." Sure enough when Cat bothers to give a look, Hiro's there hanging up the phone. He's in his usual mode of dress, sword and black coat and everything.

The guitar is set aside, she moves to open the door and let him in. "Welcome, Hiro," Cat greets as she pockets her phone. Standing aside, ample room is provided for the sword-carrying Master of Space and Time to pass through the portal in a very mundane way. "It's good to see you, as always," the jean and t-shirt wearing woman adds. Warm days equal lighter clothing, especially indoors.

A slight smile and a nod and Hiro enters as invited, getting right to the point. "I need to ask a small favor, but also I need to ask for some help." He passes Cat and gives a look toward the guitar with the mildest pang of envy. Sooner or later everyone wishes they could play. It's like a part of being human.

Then he faces Cat and asks directly, "Do you know anything about a Homeland Security agent named Minea Lancaster, or Minea Dahl?"

"I know Agent Dahl," Cat answers. "She was allied with us in the effort to defeat Kazimir Volken and his Vanguard. She claims this was only to honor the actions of a partner who died, and afterward turned away from us, though she stated she had no desire or intention to act against us. I'd classify her neutral, at best; I ran across her once after the jobs were done and she cautioned we shouldn't be in the same place and time again after that point. However, she did also say an offer she tendered to provide false identifications still held, according to her agreement with Conrad Wozniak."

"It's interesting she now works with Homeland Satan. At the time she and I spoke, she claimed not to have been reassigned yet. Since that time, one of our organization's former members sent word she seemed to be attempting to gather intelligence on us."

"But that may not be a problem, as leadership was informed and still saw fit to end our gone to ground time. Organizational headquarters are now judged safe for use. Notably, also, the data we secured from Agent Carmichael doesn't reflect anything he might've learned from her."

This whole laundry list of information is listened to with a hardening expression. Hiro politely waits for Cat to finish before stating, "She drugged me in a place I've been staying. Somehow found out I was staying there. I was this close to killing her." He holds up a pinch of forefinger and thumb. "But I let her go. Thought better of it. You're starting to make me wish I had." With a sigh he shakes his head and knits his fingers behind his head, looking down. "Stupid. Well. At least there's no way she got any information off of me. She said she bugged my clothing and stuff so I got rid of everything. New clothes. Still have the same laptop but I got a new case."

Funny, his new clothes look a whole lot like his old clothes.

"That's disturbing," Cat replies grimly. "But also very refreshing to hear she underestimated you so completely. She found you once, and may try to do so again. Perhaps we should play with her a bit, feed her a false location and observe from a distance to see if a raiding party attempts to seize you there. When you aren't, of course, present, it would undermine her standing with her bosses."

A devious expression has taken residence on Cat's face.

"Well I could just actually be there and so long as there's warning I doubt they'd get close enough to actually do anything to stop me from leaving." suggests Hiro. He doesn't seem particularly thrilled at the notion, but he's not knocking it down either. His hands come down and he crosses them, looking up to Cat. "I had that flash drive in my pocket. I've checked it to make sure it's the same. I know for a fact she couldn't copy it and didn't take it, but that was too close for comfort. I have no safer place to keep it than on me at all times, and if this woman is going to be finding me and putting drugs in my drink that is not a good situation. This brings me to the favor I need to ask: Could you arrange some kind of safe storage for me? A place I can keep my things securely?"

"Certainly," Cat answers. "You've seen the security I have here, how cameras cover the building so well, I don't doubt, and how the elevators and stairs above the third floor have such controlled access. I can put a safe in my office area which only you have the ability to open. And you know getting to and from it won't be troublesome at all."

An unspoken mental note is made: get as many teleporters as possible to be allies, since they can't be secured against. Yet.

A slight bow of the head and Hiro says, "Thanks. I had a feeling you wouldn't mind. My father has a lot of places that would do, and I sometimes keep my sword safe that way. But I would rather not risk the information we've gathered leading back to him or my sister." He pauses and asks, "I will be in your debt."

"I don't consider it a debt to be paid," Cat replies simply. The unsaid part is she won't refuse when/if he moves to repay it. "And you're very welcome." Her backside rests against a wall while she speaks, her posture a bit relaxed, but still poised. "There may be an operation happening next Wednesday, we're moving to set free some people held against their will on Staten Island then, I believe. I need to speak with leadership and be sure of some details, but… your talents could make the whole thing go much more smoothly." Cat won't ask, he'd volunteer or not.

And she has something else on her mind. "What do you know about Primatech, Hiro, that you'd be willing to share with me?"

Heh. Hiro can read between those lines. "Of course I'll help." Setting free people held against their will? He's there on principle if not on the fact that a friend is asking, in her own roundabout non-asking way. "Invite me to the meeting and I'll do what I can. As for Primatech…I'm not really sure. What are they?" And that's genuine enough.

"I will," Cat replies. "I'll tell the Top you're interested in accompanying us. Thank you, Hiro." This operation she seems to consider not so much of a danger: while no such thing is without risks, it isn't taking on genocidal Nazi nutjobs with snipers, mortars, tanks, ships, and soldiers in the hundreds. Or even in the same league to her as invading Carmichael's apartment. Or the really big job. Moab.

"The Company," Cat supplies. "The more formal name of the business they use for their operations, which in turn owns Biomere, the publicly known employer of Roger Goodman."

Sudden understanding lights up Hiro's face. "So that's their front. I know about the Company." He's also more than a little disappointed but unsurprised that they're still kicking around. "Where did this intel come from?" he asks, looking sidelong at Cat with renewed interest.

"From Agent Carmichael," Cat replies. "It was mentioned in the report I wrote on that operation," she adds. It's calmly spoken without appearance of criticism; she knows most don't have her steel trap memory. "Primatech often acts in tandem with Homeland Security. In some cases their agents carry federal badges, and may have actual federal authority to go along with them. The virus we stopped Kazimir Volken's gang from releasing was stolen from Primatech, and altered by a scientist Volken got to help with the effort, either by her own will or by coercion. I can't be certain which," she states, as her features darken, "but I do know she was directly involved with the kidnapping and murder of someone close to me. Very close."

This Hiro may well recognize, given the demise of Charlene Andrews. That pain of loss, and of helplessness at having been unable to do anything, magnified by knowing her for seven years. "It's believed she perished at the laboratory where her work was performed."

Very slowly Hiro nods while watching Cat explain all this. "If you'll remember I couldn't really hear what was being said when we had Carmichael. And I just haven't had time to read the entire report you put together. Or go through the data I downloaded." But all this seems to be really suspicious suddenly. There's an iota of a chance in his mind that Minea might be working with the Company after all. And he DID ask her. If it's so, she's a liar in his eyes, which is of course the least of her crimes. "So the Company had this virus initially. I wish I knew more. I'd tell you right away."

She nods once. "Thank you." A slight smile appears. "I'm very much a collector of information, one never knows when it might prove useful. One of our people was with the Company for some time, aside from Mister Bennet. I don't think he would be too willing to share, but the other one might. He's a cranky one sometimes, with a classic training method. He attacks with a stick, and the trainee gets beaten or figures out how to stop him."

"Anything I learn, I'll share with you, of course."

Hiro clears his throat and admits, "That…actually is a very popular training method in a particular place I've been, too." Memories of that kind of training and how hard it can be on a body give him sympathetic pains all over. "Bennet. Hm." He looks down and distant, nodding at a thought. "The Cheerleader's father." Yes, that's a name that rings bells all right. Glancing back up to meet Cat's eyes he asks, "Tell me more about these people being held against their will?"

"At least one of them is a healer, kidnapped and held for the use of her talents on people involved in some variety of fight club featuring Evolved person," Cat relates. "It's unclear how many of them are there of their own accord and how many are coerced. I also need to secure more data from the Top on how the operators manage to restrain them, given the presence of abilities. Another of the persons there is one of our operatives who fell injured during operations versus Volken, and apparently washed ashore on Staten Island. The area where the club apparently functions also holds a brothel. That region of the island is called the Rookery."

All this Hiro turns over in his head as he listens. "Interesting. Well. As I said let me know how I can help." He fishes the flash drive out of his pocket with all its sensitive information on it, then holds it out to Cat. "In the meantime, you'd be doing me a favor if you kept this safe. Somewhere apart from your own copy, just in case. I'll want it back just to go through it myself, but with the situation I'd feel better if there was no risk of it being captured if something happened to me."

She nods once, accepting the flash drive. "I will." A slight grin forms on Cat's face as he mentions her copy. She now has two, because she read the contents. "I'll be in contact soon regarding the Fight Club Liberation."

"Thank you." Hiro's beginning to feel like he says that to Cat often. "I keep that phone on. The one you gave me. I'll try to make sure I stay within its signal range."

"You're very welcome," she replies. And this Cat has a bit more curiosity. "I've been reading a book on the Japanese language, and taken a look at some texts written in it, transliterated with Western alphabet, and some with the traditional symbols. It's made me wonder, was it especially difficult learning to read and write English, Hiro? Surprisingly enough, my memory makes it harder for me to master reading and writing Eastern tongues." She takes a brief pause before explaining. "I read dictionaries which translate from English, which go left to right, so when I try to read in the other language, or write something, I find myself automatically going at it backwards."

"In Japan it's part of the normal school curriculum." explains Hiro briefly, managing to look a little sheepish as he admits, "I was never very good with languages, English especially. It took me a long time to be able to speak it this well. Ando was always much better than I was at it." He scratches his head and admits, "The direction thing. Left and right right and left, that confuses me from the other direction. But yes, I had the same problem. Only worse than you I think."

"I was struggling in school too, at college," Cat shares quietly. "I wanted to study music, Father wanted me to focus on political science, pre-law. I wanted to make him happy, to be the dutiful daughter, and I wanted to follow the musical dream, so I set out to do both. Carrying a double course load, in the Ivy League, I was falling apart. Sleep and study had to be chosen between, and even then there just weren't enough hours in a day."

This may all be a heart-sharing moment on the surface, but Hiro can't help but smirk a little and observe, "And now you're Dr. Catherine Chesterfield, super-genius." Taking a deep breath, he lets it out as he adds, "I know how you feel."

"Super-genius," she repeats with a forming smile. "Not quite. People like Einstein write the bigtime theories. I just read and remember them." What, Cat has a touch of modesty about her?

"I was a minor programmer at Yamagato Industries. My father's company. He made sure I started out at a modest position. It was Character Building." Hiro explains with a reminiscent air, leaning back against a chair. "I was never much of a student." He wavers a bit. "Well. I was good with programming. But only good. I wasted so much of my time on manga and…" he just sighs. "Sometimes I wonder where that part of me is anymore. Or why I had to be so stupid."

"Stupid is one thing I would never accuse you of, Hiro," Cat rejoins. "I've got the lawyer's education, and the licenses, but I'd rather be dead than working in a corporate office. If the world were different, I'd be spending my time on stages, playing guitar and singing. But… I am who I am, and the world needs other things from me. Someday I'll get back to the stage, when it's safe to be publicly known and recognized again, if it ever is."

She's wistful now.

Rather than argue the point, Hiro merely agrees with part of what Cat says. "We do what we must because it is demanded." Then he looks around him. He is, after all, in a recording studio. Her studio. "At least you have a piece of what you wanted. That's good." he says with a note of approval.

"I think in bigger terms than I once did also," Cat replies. "This area of New York City used to be known for music and the arts. I need money to finance some of the organization's activities, and a way to raise those funds so my own don't run out. The building provides housing for people, and the money they pay covers expenses, helps to keep me even. The restaurant and music club in the basement is for me to play in occasionally, and to provide a place for starting talent to perform. Much the same with the recording studio. It may house a record label, which draws more money to finance operations while further boosting new artists."

"Thus the name Village Renaissance Building," she comments. "Working toward that goal. But, of course, the studio here also has a purpose larger than that. Carrying out operations, liberating people from prisons, those are needed acts, but brute force isn't enough. Around the country there are lots of groups like Phoenix. There needs to be a national leader, someone all of them can rally behind. A person who can defeat the fear so many have of us."

Hiro's brows raise and he hmms. "I didn't think you were the kind to see yourself as the symbolic leader type." he says simply. Though he can't help but wonder if he's misunderstanding the woman.

"That person isn't me," Cat replies with a chuckle. "Most people roll their eyes if I even begin to speak this way. They mock and ridicule the way I analyze information, try to think strategically, to think of and cover all bases."

"No," she muses, "that national leader needs to be someone who didn't come from a privileged background, someone who can be sympathetic by the events of his or her life. Someone whose mother was a gardener, murdered by a mob simply because she could make plants grow. Someone who just wanted to attend culinary school and instead was sent to prison without trial, for no crime."

From the look on Hiro's face it's clear that he doesn't know who Cat's talking about at first, but he comes to the conclusion that seems sensible. And nods. "That seems to be a good person to fill that role." he agrees. Then, "Well. I've got nothing much else to do tonight. I need a new hiding place. Might as well get to finding one."

"Thank you for listening, and not rolling your eyes at my lofty ideas, Hiro," Cat replies solemnly. "It's all too rare." She takes a few steps toward the door. "Take care. I'll be in touch soon about the fight club operation." A brief thought is given to restating her offer of shelter, but it's open-ended and she believes he knows this; if he wanted to take her up on it he would without being reminded.

Most likely, in her mind, he will soon cease to be present in the style he's shown as customary.

March 7th: Middle Ground?

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…
A Very Frail Thread

March 7th: A Parting Of Ways
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