The Basics


cat_icon.gif delilah_icon.gif

Scene Title The Basics
Synopsis Delilah has them laid out for her.
Date May 28, 2009

Village Renaissance Building, Cat's 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.

She's been busy over the last few days, running information through over and over in her head. Pinehearst. Primatech. Knox. Rickham. Humanis First. Edward Ray, Tyler Case, that whole gang. Among those topics has been Delilah and how far in to bring her. Inquiries were made, information learned, and a decision taken. At least in part.

At about 11:23 on this Thursday morning, as Delilah is working, Cat calls and asks her to take the elevator to the top floor. There Cat is waiting for her with a decent lunch on the kitchen table. She seems calm, and businesslike, though cordial.

That is certainly a lot to be thinking about all at once- but at least it seems it will be easier to handle the smaller things first. With Delilah, perhaps one of the easiest, depending on how it goes down.

When she is called up, Delilah has it ingrained to finish what it was she was doing and head up as soon as possible. The result is an almost eerie timeliness, in which she happens to appear within a minute. Today is jeans under a plaid mini-dress, and the dull noise of sneakers on the carpet outside comes before she reaches the door. As she is let in to an apparent lunch date, Delilah hovers for a moment(at least until it is a good time to sit), in the end facing Cat with a questioning expression and a casual tone. "Something on your mind?" No pun intended.

"Please, sit, relax," Cat invites when the redhead arrives. "On my mind? Always." Such, it seems, is life for she who never forgets. "Thank you for coming, Delilah." Little else is said then, she takes a drink from a glass of cola before her, and lifts a fork to taste more of her food.

That silence is left to ride for a minute or two.

"I would turn the question around, actually. Are there things on your mind, Delilah?"

Sometimes it is not hard to tell when something is coming, and today is one of those days. Even as they sit down for lunch, Delilah's inner thoughts seem to zoom back to whatever they had been worrying about- only to be on stage when Cat yanks up that metaphorical curtain. The younger woman looks up past a sip of her own soda, sheepish.

"What's not on my mind, is a better question." Touche. "There's been… a lot of things going on lately."

"Yes," Cat agrees in an even tone. "There have, and there will be a lot more in the days and months to come. You're a good worker, Delilah. You don't talk about things I asked you not to, and you've eschewed asking questions too. Thank you, for that, kindly."

Delilah nods quietly at the beginning, simply staying in agreement with what Cat says. At the next part, however, her eyes lift open from that more docile state and into a sharper one. "Draw me further in?" How much further can that be? Sure, she knows she is basically working for the Ferrymen out-of-pocket, so to speak- but all of a sudden this feels like she has been standing in the shallows and getting her feet wet.

If hiding fugitives and helping the downtrodden dictate the shallows, what makes up the deep end? "How much …'further' are we talking, here?"

"No more than you're comfortable with, Delilah," Cat replies simply. "What exactly do you think you're involved in, to start?" She, it seems, is curious as to the redhead's conceptions of what they do, what her speculations and attitudes might be. "Speak your mind, don't hold back," she encourages. "I don't bite." There's a smile flashed then.

Delilah grows a tiny smirk, and she tilts her head to watch her hands in thought. "Basically, a twenty-first century Underground Railroad. That's what it feels like, right now. I like to help the people that you bring here, even if I don't know a thing about them." She just knows that if Cat brings them here- they are worth helping. "I know they're people like us, with nowhere else to go, for whatever reason." The last few words bring a crease to her brows, and a tighter expression.

"And sometimes they're the worst reasons."

"You're very astute, Delilah," Cat replies. "What you said is very true, the people brought here are often not the best of people. Some of them could be said to belong in prison, by all rights. But I'm not in that business, nor are the people around me. If DHS and the Government were still working under the Constitution, not locking people up indefinitely without trial, I'd view it differently. If some of those people turn out to be criminal, that's the fault of DHS for not following due process and being trustworthy with the power they have."

The late teen is watched in silence for her reaction to that.

"That's all why I can never register. Even if I wanted to- all they'd do is lock me up without a trial. And I'm no criminal. It's unconstitutional, to say the least." Lilah ends bitterly, clearly thinking of some more colorful things to say. "Even if the people here aren't all the best- they deserve a head start anyway. If just to spite DHS." Fffff.

"And sometimes they're like me and are just people that have to run away for silly reasons- like they registered and then some spooks came to their house at night with burlap sacks. It's ironic- that we can feel so powerless, but we're the ones reading minds and making it rain."

She smiles, a slight smile. "Good," Cat shares. "So we understand each other." And she moves on. "What would your thoughts be on proactivity, Delilah? Not just helping people who come to us, but going out to find them, rescue them from where they might be locked up, and acting against the people who did it?"

"And on some occasions mounting operations aimed at threats which have nothing to do with resistance to government excessess?"

Proactivity? The first thing that comes to mind is something comparatively silly like some sort of rally. But then Cat explains- finding them, rescuing them? Teaching the people that did it a lesson? That kind of proactivity.

She seems to understand the first part, rapt at attention and watching Cat like a hawk. But the next part, that makes her head tilt visibly. "They're… my people." It sounds strange out loud at first. "Of course I'd help them." Vengeance isn't so far off either. "But what did you mean, that last part?"

"There's all kinds of nutjobs out there, Delilah," Cat explains, "and the things they've been up to might turn you blonde to think of them. Literally make your hair go white. Viral plots, ambitions to create drugs which would give abilities to anyone injected with them… These people tend to be ruthless, the Government at times isn't up to the job, or may have been in on it through sloppy security or outright actions of their contractors. We have, at times, taken action and forestalled such plans. On other occasions, we've done more minor things in lawless areas like Staten Island. Maybe you heard of a fight club where people were kept against their will?"

Viral plots? A manmade epidemic, what? The giving abilities thing isn't quite as surprising as the viral plotting. That's disturbing, and it shows. If she had food in her mouth at the time, it would be falling back out. She trusts Cat, apparently enough to hang on her words as truth. Conspiracies are true, oh fsck.

"I did. Yes. I did." Dee sits up straighter. "And- who is we?" 'Surely she can't mean the Ferrymen?' says her tone.

"I'm sure you've heard of us, from time to time," Cat replies with a calm expression, observing the teen's features while they converse. "Maybe you might even guess soon enough." Perhaps she intends to be cryptic for a bit longer. "As to the place where people were held against their will and forced to fight, you know they got hit by some armed group that wasn't the cops or the Feds, and had the places used as pens burned to the ground."

"We find slavery very offensive," she adds after taking a drink and lowering the glass. "If we see it, well…" Delilah can finish the sentence.

Lilah's tongue feels a bit heavy all of a sudden, but it is the good kind of heavy- the one that sends your inner butterflies twirling into a cyclone of horrible butterfly death. "You burn it down, obviously." Not the most eloquent of answers, no, but the redhead still seems to be searching around for something more than 'that's fucking awesome', or something equally colorful.

"When we can," Cat supplies. "Obviously making an attack without learning things and having a plan of sorts would be suicide." This much she seems to believe Delilah can understand and not need elaboration. "But that isn't all we do. We've designs to do things of a far more peaceful nature, aimed at ending fear, changing perceptions. Maybe you remember that whole Miracles thing last fall?"

Drinking again, then lifting her fork to take a bite.

"Yeah. I remember that too. I-" Oh, wait. That was whoever Cat is with, but- "…was that Abby?" Delilah speculates out loud, having a moment of difficulty drawing bridges between Abby helping that, and Abby not knowing about anything above the third floor. So one but not the other? "I'd like to do… something." The redhead finally admits, pushing food across her plate. "Something more. I'm doing something now- but it's not the same as doing. I'm not making a whole lot of sense, am I?" A fork of food finds rest in her mouth, effectively quieting her and a visibly growing frustration at the at-hand topic.

"Abby and we don't see things exactly the same," Cat explains, "and for that reason there are a lot of things we don't tell her. Don't let her see. In part it protects us, and in part it protects her, since some of the wrong people know her ability. We keep it so she doesn't have to lie if she gets asked as much as possible. But yes, she's worked with us on occasion. Like the Red Cross, y'know. She has no idea I'm connected to this building, of course, and I want it kept that way. After what happened to her on Staten Island, it lets us keep watch over her without her knowing we are." Delilah is studied to be sure she gets it.

"We're called Phoenix, if you haven't gotten there yet. And I get what you mean. You see things happening, read about Humanis First and attacks on people like us, it makes you angry. You want to go out in the street, grab someone, and take some measure of revenge."

She had the feeling, but didn't want to say it. "Phoenix." Just the word carries so much along with it now. "Maybe not as drastically vengeful to someone off the street, but yes." The leak of frustration spills over into her volume now, slightly changing pitches. "I'm sick and tired of it. People like Humanis First are the reason those dozens of teenagers killed themselves. They didn't want to live in fear." She tries her best- hence, her near constant shade of brightness, literal and not. Delilah shakes her head sharply, lips pressing together. "And we shouldn't have to."

"I know," Cat replies, making eye contact, "but you also, I hope, understand why that would be very bad. It isn't targeted, it's just anger. The problem, all the way around, is fear. They fear us for a number of reasons. We have powers they don't, they don't understand things, you name it. Being violent, killing them, only makes them more afraid. It's why terrorists aren't just wrong, but stupid. Making scared people terrified only stiffens them to wipe us out. No, we have to take two course. Fight when fights come, respond to attacks, and work to make the rest less afraid."

"The situation is dire. Things are getting worse, so we're pulling things, and people, together to prepare on several fronts. The first step, for you, is what I'm telling you now. Extending the branch of trust. It doesn't mean you will, or won't, be asked to do anything more than you do now. This is very valuable. Hiding places may become very much more so. Don't discount that."

"But, Delilah, you need to understand some things straight up. If you take part in operations, you could have to kill. You could be killed. You could be captured, tortured, and left to die. There could be occasions…" Cat pauses here, the words now spoken clearly something she has experience with. There's loss and pain in her eyes, "… where you might be captured and left to die because we can't, or won't, get you out. The operations have to come first sometimes, before people."

"Maybe I'm trying to scare you off, maybe I'm telling it straight, maybe both. But one thing you won't be is ignorant of risks."

If this were any other day before, Delilah would probably answer along the lines of 'I'll think about it'. But today- there is a storm on the horizon, quite literally. Delilah isn't afraid of death- possibly nervous about causing it, nervous about seeing the light, and nervous about pain- but there is no outright fear of The End. Apprehension, perhaps, but little true fear. She watches Cat closely as the older woman goes on through speaking of being left behind, a sympathetic look unconsciously working its way to her features.

"If I were worried about those things, I probably would not go to Staten Island on a regular basis." Which is small potatoes when you compare it, but the same exact principle. "I know the risk of going somewhere like that. Teo thinks I'm just naive. I'm not. I know I could be hurt, but I never go there without a reason." Which is what Phoenix is, right? Putting yourself at known risk for a reason. A damn fine reason. "And I think- that if there was ever a reason to put myself in harm's way, I think that what is happening now could be it." Dee seems to be searching for some signals that she is on the right track, and not babbling into the wrong direction.

She's watched carefully as she makes her reply, Cat's eyes calm and searching for signs of rational acceptance. "You're seventeen, Delilah," she states, "which gives some people pause. It does me also, to a degree. But I also understand the ways of the world. The young historically are asked to fight. A solid number of American soldiers fighting and dying on battlefields around the world in years past were also seventeen. The people who sent them aren't looked down on for that. FDR, Truman, Eisenhower…" Which is, basically, to say in Cat's eyes Delilah is just old enough. "And in all of this, also, the battles may often find us. Then it doesn't matter how old, young, male, or female anyone is." She trails off to silence, lifting a fork and taking a long drink before continuing.

"Now you've been told the basics, and I'm sure you've no illusions about risks. There'll be more as time goes by. Right now, let's enjoy lunch." It's her intent to let it rest there, after eating Delilah would go back to work with talk of so many other things coming another time. Another day. Plus introducing her to Helena on these new terms.

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