That Particular Coven


cat_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title That Particular Coven
Synopsis Cat and Veronica compare notes.
Date February 15, 2010

The Verb 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.

Stepping out of the elevator onto the top floor of the Village Renaissance Building, Veronica is rather happy to be back in her "own" clothes instead of the motorcycle gang costume she'd been wearing undercover as "Sam" while she investigated the mental status of one Mortimer Jack. Now back in her simple but designer clothes — jeans, a wool coat, boots, a sweater — the Company agent waits for Cat Chesterfield in the foyer of the apartment, confident that the owner of the space is very aware of Veronica's presence via camera and monitors. Vee stands, looking curiously around what she can see of the apartment as she waits patiently for Cat to appear.

The doors across from the elevator Veronica took to reach the penthouse are open when she arrives, allowing her entry. From that vantage point, the agent can see the place is spacious; Cat uses the entire floor as her personal residence. Most of the various rooms have closed doors which conceal their functions, but some are easy to see. Across open space from where she stands at the far end, the kitchen is visible. Much closer, however, is the open door of the entertainment room with its immense HD set covering the entire wall.

It's this space which Cat gestures toward as she strides across the open space. "Thanks for coming, Vee." She's timed her approach of the doors Veronica came in through very well; it helps to both be expecting someone and to be able to watch the arrival through security cameras. "Make yourself comfortable," she invites. "Hungry, thirsty?"

"Hello, Cat," Veronica says amiably enough. The company agent seems to have recovered from the injuries Cat last saw her with — she's no longer on crutches and moving without a limp. "No, I'm fine, thanks. Had a Starbucks on the way across town." She moves toward a couch to sit, waiting for Cat to join her. "Nice place," she adds with a smile. "Nice change of pace as I've been on Staten the last couple of days."

Waiting for Veronica inside, resting on a coffee table, is the complete array of items Rebel had concealed in their website and research Cat's done on her own. As she enters behind the agent, a small refrigerator is opened and a twenty-ounce bottle of Pepsi pulled out, then a sandwich. Food is slipped into the microwave and set for one minute, then she turns toward the guest.

"Thanks," she replies with a chuckle. "It's comfortable. Staten Island… been there a few times. Never a fun location." Naught else is said, she opts to let Veronica peruse the goods and see what her reaction is.

The agent doesn't flip through the files, though she does notice them, glancing at the papers that are spread about on the table, and glancing up at Cat with a curious glance. "No, Staten never is. I'm glad to be back in civilization, so to speak, though it looks like most of the Islanders are clearing out, due to FRONTLINE coming in. I expect there'll be some issues with that, as they'll need to find places here. Probably more squatting in Midtown, too," she muses, then nods to the paperwork. "This isn't my department," she adds, with a smile.

"Rebel says there are camps being built, and cites disappearances at sites where innoculations for H1N1 were given," Cat summarizes. "Also provided are some blank documents about quarantine procedures for New York state, phots of men wearing biohazard suits entering a home with assault rifles, some images of a field marked with yellow tape and biohazard suit-wearers in a field. Test tubes in a lab, a screencap of what seems to be red blood cells, and an overhead camera view of a lab with the words Institute Site C in the top left corner. It all suggests someone out there, with government support, is doing what Rebel alleges. Notably," she adds, "there were news reports of a tainted version of H1N1 vaccine causing illnesses, and stats show people with the SLC having greater infection rates of that flu virus than persons without it."

"Things like this, to me, say Company, but it could be some other entity. Mother and I were discussing the matter recently, and she suggested I speak with you. Said you got an anonymous call asking about a few names…"

The agent listens, brows knitting at the implications of what Cat says, and she shakes her head, not in disagreement but in worry. "I haven't heard anything about any sorts of quarantines, and as far as I know, the vaccines weren't Company distributed, but then obviously we're on a need-to-know basis and they don't tell any of us everything." She doesn't look happy at the thought that it's related to Company at all. At the news of her mother passing on that Veronica had a phone call, there's a wry chuckle. She's not supposed to speak of the conversation she had with Bob out of his office, and yet here it is coming back to her from an unexpected source. "You know the names?" she asks, eyes narrowing as she regards Cat.

"I do," Cat replies with a nod. "One of them was with Pinehearst, Dr. Zimmerman. Mother says he vanished from there shortly before we took the place down. Another is the doctor Rasoul had in Madagascar, Gregor. And the third is the apparent robot man picked up in Argentina, Hector Steel. She doesn't believe the Company has any ties to this, she insists it's being reformed, but I don't discount the chances they could be and won't tell her. The Institute could easily be a replacement front for the Primatech paper company they shut down, one they tell very few people about. But…" Cat allows speculatively, "evidence does suggest the Company may not be tied into this. After all, you told someone there about the call you got, and word came to Mother. You weren't visited by Rene."

"My suspicion, just the same, is the Federal government has some secret project in the works tied to all this. Maybe an attempt to recreate the SLC formula. The pieces fit: Gregor being in Fed custody where he can be put to work doing just that, Zimmerman being in on the serum the Company destroyed in the 80s. Viruses are used in biochemistry to work with altering DNA; Arthur Petrelli used the thing which caused people to melt in demonstrating a formula he didn't have when his back was against the wall."

"You're missing a name," Veronica says, her face mostly stoic but for a slight twitch at the thought of a visit from Rene — one of her worst fears. "The person at the Company pretty much gave me the off-the-record nod to look into them, so I wouldn't think those four are working for the Company. Whether they're part of those virus and quarantine situation or not, I'm not sure. Not certain what Steel would have to do with such a thing." She leans back in her chair, crossing her legs as she looks from the coffee table up into Cat's face again.

"It was suggested — and your mother probably knows this as well, but otherwise I'd keep it rather quiet, until we can get more information on it — that it has something to do with FRONTLINE. I have someone inside looking around for me, but I'm not sure what else I can do without more resources." She doesn't know that Liz tipped Cat off as well as to the names.

"The fourth name is probably Maury Parkman," Cat supplies, "Matt Parkman's father. Mother says he's the most likely person to know where Zimmerman is. If that's not the same fourth name you have, I'm curious to know what it. And the Frontline connection, well… that's not surprising. Arthur's main goal was developing the serum and using it to pad its ranks artificially. The Feds who stood to gain from that aren't likely to just let it lie. Which suggests to me Sarisa the Shark and General Autumn are involved."

"I, like you, would very much not want them to have any idea this is being discussed. Looked into. About the call you got, I don't believe it was Rebel, Rebel would say so directly. Might be someone in communication with them, though."

"Not Parkman, though it sounds like asking him would just tip them off that we're looking for them, if he's aligned with them at all," Veronica says, holding the other name for a moment. "Carpenter's the fourth name. Another doctor. You know of him?" She doesn't offer the information on "Doc," waiting to see if Cat knows the man's specifics or perhaps even knows him personally.

"Doctor Carpenter is a name I've not heard," Cat replies honestly. "Fairly common, even if I had, though his field and accomplishments could make one among the many stand out. What is his field, anyway? Lots of doctorates," she tacks on with a chuckle. "Every field has them, in fact all attorneys are doctors too." She lifts the bottle of cola and opens it.

"Medical doctor. Escaped from Moab. His ability is what makes him noteworthy, and he makes that particular coven terrifying, to put it bluntly." The agent is apparently uncertain as to whether she should share the information or not — she may be sympathetic to the plight of the Evolved, given her own personal interests in such matters, but she is still Company. "So why am I here, Cat? Your mom said we should chat? To what end?"

Her head tilts as the information is shared, and her brows furrow. "I don't remember seeing a man named Carpenter among the people who were in Moab, but there were a lot I didn't see," Cat muses. "Closest I can pull up is a guy called Doc who hung around Norman White out on Staten Island. He's got the ability to duplicate lifeforces. Copy a person's essence, basically, and put it into another body." Marilena the speedster , created when Helena was captured by HF. "If that's him…" She freezes, things falling into place.

"The formula wasn't just chemistry, Vee," Cat states some seconds later, "it also requires a catalyst which has to come from a person. Doc could duplicate and place it into a serum."

"That's the guy," Veronica says with a nod — interesting to watch the panmnesiac come up with the information, and perhaps that was partially her intent. Vee is, after all, her father's daughter, interested in the mind and how it works. "So you're saying… he would need to duplicate the 'essence' of the Evolved whose ability he wants that particular serum to administer?" she says, with a frown. "And paired with Zimmerman…" she shakes her head at the implications of such a pairing.

She narrows her eyes a moment. "Bishop brought up some place called Coyote Sands, but when I didn't know what it was, he dropped it," she says, husky voice questioning in its lilt.

"It's a blanket thing," Cat replies quietly, "as part of his efforts at Pinehearst Arthur ripped away Claire Bennet's regeneration. That's how he got the catalyst. As to what ability surfaces in a person given the serum, or in a person who naturally has the SLC, it's a crapshoot. It often manifests as whatever someone needs at the time. My second year at Yale, I was trying to handle two degree programs and drowning under the load. Until things kicked in, and it got much easier. Coyote Sands, though, is a place I haven't heard of before." A stretch of silence follows, before she states "When Mother and I talked about this, she suggested I contact you and we try that teamwork thing again. So I asked you over to compare notes." Which she's done, in sharing the Rebel exhibits.

"So Claire Bennet is the catalyst somehow?" Veronica says, brows furrowing. She's only a clearance-level three; while she knows of Pinehearst, she didn't know all of the things they managed to do — just that such a formula was being worked on. "I knew there was a formula in the works but not that a formula existed. So does that mean they have enough of this catalyst, or is Bennet in danger, since Petrelli's gone, and thus their supply? Can this Doc replicate her 'essence,' without having met her, or should we focus on keeping her out of this group's hands?"

Her mind's whirring with the possibilities. She finally sighs and shakes her head. "It's … it's gotta be government but not Company, or else I wouldn't be encouraged to be looking into it — My guess is they know they can't officially do anything about it, but maybe hope it will get taken down somehow. Maybe by people like you and yours."

"She was," Cat replies, "and perhaps is again. The restoration of her ability I'd think rebooted that too. The serum doesn't exist, though. The Company had the serum in the 80s and dosed a number of children with it, but later decided it was too dangerous so they destroyed all their stocks on Arthur Petrelli's order, which included killing everyone involved in the research and application. Many of the children came from the researchers, and were slipped into the lives of other Company personnel. In some cases, they were given the identities of children who'd died." Her eyes flash in speaking of it, which suggests a personal connection.

"Arthur was kept from recreating it at Pinehearst. Some of the formula he already had, the rest of it was in Japan with Kaito Nakamura. That's why he was murdered by Adam Monroe. But Adam never got the real thing, he was slipped a corrupted version to give Arthur. Because the formula he had was incorrect, Arthur resorted to faking it with a failed version which would grant an ability long enough to show the Frontline people, but be biologically rejected soon after. You've seen what that is," Cat tells her somberly.

"Now, about Claire, I'll warn her of the possibility. Doc I believe would need to be in her proximity to duplicate her lifeforce." When she goes quiet, her brow furrows, she seems to be considering pieces of the puzzle and the conclusions just reached.

Veronica's stoic mask slips a bit at the mention of the children who were tested on. Yes, there is a personal connection for her — namely, Brian and Gillian. She also frowns at the allusion to her own experience of being an Evolved for all of five minutes — a very painful and disorienting five minutes, of which she sometimes still has nightmares. How Brian can do it, she doesn't know.

"All right. So we need to make sure that Claire is kept from them. Would Monroe's blood work as a catalyst too, or is Claire's special for some reason?" She frowns at the idea. One more reason to fear and hate the man and his ability.

"I don't think Adam has the ability to catalyze the serum," Cat opines while still thinking over the pieces of puzzle they've cobbled together, causing her to sound distracted. "If he did, Arthur would probably have ripped the ability away from him as he did with Claire." Silence then for a stretch of seconds with a finger tapping on the soda bottle.

Which she breaks by stating "Something doesn't add up, Vee. I mean, it could be the goods Rebel put out and the people we talked about are related, it makes sense they'd be pulled together in hopes of creating the serum. But the call you got, with those four names, could be about something entirely different, too. Right now it's speculation about possibilities and likelihoods. But if what Rebel's called attention to and the four people mentioned in the call are about the same thing, something just doesn't add up. If they're making the serum, why build camps? That suggests keeping large numbers of people captive. And why would the people, all registered SLC persons, reported missing after visiting H1N1 innoculation centers in Midland, TX, be rounded up? They've got abilities, it's pointless to try testing serum on them."

"It could be two different things," Veronica muses with a shake of her head. "Unless they're trying to do something else, using the people they've rounded up as test subjects. I'd think if it was Rebel trying to get me to look into it, I'd get more than a phone call that led to a lot of dead-ends. I'm not that high up the totem pole, and if Bishop didn't share what he had, I wouldn't know as much as I do." She taps her fingers on the files on the coffee table for a moment. "Bishop told me to watch Sarisa, so it seems that the higher ups think it's FRONTLINE related. Unless…" And the cynical Veronica with her conspiracy theories shakes a head. "Unless it's a redirect."

"We're still very much in the information gathering stage," Cat replies, "action comes later when things are more clear. I should take these theories to Mother, see what she thinks of them. Whoever called you I think will probably call you again, unless the goal was simply to start you digging up information and asking questions. Rebel's actions are aimed at that, as far as I can tell, what with publicizing that satellite photo of the mushroom cloud over the south pole and the other goods. Planting a seed, then watching to see what grows."

With Cat, at the very least, the seed has been planted.

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