The Devil's Advocate...


cat_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title The Devil's Advocate…
Synopsis … isn't Keanu.
Date May 5, 2009

Village Renaissance Building: Cat's Penthouse

She'd said the meeting would be at one in the afternoon, at Tavern On The Green. She stated she'd call as soon as it was over. But time has passed, it's later in the day, and still there's been no word from Cat on how things went, no sharing of what was or wasn't learned. No contact at all. Any calls to her phone go unanswered, the only result is voice mail.

Did something happen to her?

It's not as if Cat's not an adult, though the lack of contact at all has Elisabeth worried. Far more worried than perhaps she ought to be…. but it's not paranoia when people really are out to get you. When she got up this morning and the panamnesiac still hasn't gotten back to her, Liz throws on clothes and heads directly for the penthouse apartment that Cat inhabits. She's not fooling around, either. Jeans, black shirt, her pistol and a couple of extra clips. She stops at the desk and demands of the security personnel whether Cat came in last night before heading for the elevators.

"Yes, Detective Harrison," the man spoken to replies. "I saw her at about 1500 yesterday afternoon. She looked okay. Is something wrong?" He seems puzzled, there having been no indication anything was out of sorts. "But she's not been in contact since. It's all been quiet, we've not needed her for anything." The man, the head of the security staff and the only one among them who knows anything about her, studies the Detective's face.

"I hope not," Elisabeth murmurs, though her countenance remains worried. "She's just not answering her phone, that's all. It's not like her." She forces a smile for him. "Now that you tell me she got back, I'll stop being paranoid. I'll let myself up." She heads for the elevators, using her key and key card to get up to Cat's floors. When the doors open and she steps out, she glances around, looking for the brunette. "Cat?" she calls quietly, using just enough of her ability to let her voice carry at that same soft volume throughout the apartment.

The place seems quiet, there's no sign of her being present at first, but there is evidence she was here. Near the exercise room there's the remnants of a punching bag which someone destroyed. In other areas of the penthouse there are empty bottles of Guinness stout lying around. One of her guitars, the favored red Fender Strat, is off its stand and the mini-amp she at times takes with her when she goes out is also missing. The exercise room still has Edward Ray on the archery target with several arrows protruding from his face. The large bag is gone, the straps that would hold it just hanging loose. There is clothing on the floor, the components of a lawyer suit she removed after getting home.

The only things which indicate where she might have gone are the draft of cool air coming from the stairwell nearest the kitchen, the one which leads up to the roof and the sounds of guitar which filter down from it through the open door at the top.

There's a soft whistle at the ravages in the apartment, and Elisabeth immediately follows the sound of the guitar up the stairs to the rooftop. "Hey lady," she says gently, her voice carrying over the music as she approaches with her hands shoved into her pockets. "Well…. now that my heart's begun to beat normally again instead of being full of dread that your parent kidnapped you or something…. What the hell'd he say to you?" Because clearly it was bad. "You okay?"

There are a few more bottles of stout laying on the roof near her when she's joined, Cat being found seated near a small area designed for outdoor cooking and dining. The guitar is plugged into the amp, her fingers are running over the strings and frets idly. She looks disheveled, having only partly taken her hair out of the neat arrangement she uses when dressing like an attorney headed for court. It doesn't seem she's been to bed yet, if she slept it all it was wherever she happened to be at the time it took hold.

"Catherine Chesterfield died on April 30, 1986, at age two."

Elisabeth stops in front of Cat, tilts her head, and narrows her eyes to study the other woman. "Really?" she asks as she squats down in front of her friend. "Who, then, might you be?"

"Allegedly," she replies with eyes closing and breath containing the scent of much stout, "Jane Forrest, the daughter of Alisa and Harold Forrest, Company scientists, yes, that Company, who died in an explosion at their lab. The formula they were working on was destroyed." Her words are slurred a bit, further testimony to her partaking of very dark beer.

Whew…. Lord, the woman smells like a brewery. "Cat…." Elisabeth sighs. "So you didn't know you were adopted, then. IS this response due to that bombshell, or are you more upset that your biological parents worked for the Company?"

"That's just the tip of the iceberg," Cat shares. "The formula they were working with that was destroyed, it was one designed to give abilities to people. I was injected with it at age two." She's silent then, her eyes settled on some distant point, for some moments. "Father said he too was with the Company for a long time. He said Charles Deveaux had suggested they take me and raise me, and as their own daughter had died so recently they opted to use her name. Have me become her."

Elisabeth blinks and stares at Cat. "Holy shit," she breathes. She doesn't even begin to know how to respond to this one. Normally she'd reach out and hug Cat, but the brunette still has her guitar. "So reckless," she murmurs softly. "God, Cat… are you all right?" Clearly not, but… what else should she say here?

"I will be," Cat replies. The backbone is still in there, working its way to the fore now that she isn't alone. "You never saw me like this, Elisabeth. It didn't happen." The guitar is slipped over her shoulders and set down as gently as a drunk person can manage. Not so bad, in the end. But her coordination is off. "Meeting with Father was very informative. He now works with Pinehearst, in Fort Lee, New Jersey. And some things have fallen into place. I didn't get to ask if the insurance firm is real or a front. Father says the Company classed his ability as Hypercognition, the capability of multi-tasking thousands of actions at once, able to make calculations and predictions on the fly based on available data. Mother's is Biological Transmutation, allowing her to manipulate the genetic structure of living matter to reshape its very base chemical and molecular nature."

There's a faint smile at the brunette as Liz replies, "Of course not." It's a given — Liz never saw Cat get drunk off her ass, and Cat never saw Liz puke her guts out over Trask's apparent death. She helps the panmnesiac put the guitar gently on the ground — Cat'll have a fit if she damages it in her inebriated state, and listens carefully. "All right," she comments softly. "So now the question becomes…. is Pinehearst's rise sufficiently terrifying enough that we want to not take down the Company? Or are we looking to take down both and see what other nastiness might rise in its place? Cuz so far… we've only got the word of a bunch of criminals about how bad the future is — and yes, I realize that's like the pot calling the kettle black and all, but … seriously, I'm a little leery of just taking their word for it, you know?"

"I talked to Wireless a few days ago," Cat shares. "She counsels working against both Pinehearst and the Company. I still agree with that, Elisabeth. If one succeeds it could be more than twice as strong as the one which fell. Father… He and I still have some talking to do, there are things to share on both sides. Allen Rickham didn't just walk away from the Presidency, Daniel Linderman and Angela Petrelli are Company founders, as is Hiro's father. So much more to learn. He apologized every step of the way, Elisabeth. He seems to have a conscience, to have remorse over things that went before, we agreed there should be an end to secrets between us."

Elisabeth listens quietly and then nods slowly. "My concern is … if we take down both of these…. what comes next? We don't even know that Pinehearst is a bad thing, Cat. That's the trouble with people coming back to the past to change the future. We only have their word for what needs changing. We know the Company needs to be taken down, and Pinehearst is trying to do that. Well…. honestly, if they're going to play ball and have transparency in place? I'm not against them. So far, aside from experimenting on children which should absolutely be something they're brought up on charges for, are they doing the right things? Do we know?"

"It was the Company who made the formula the first time," Cat states. "After the lab that had all of it was destroyed and the formula with it, Kaito Nakamura decided to lock it up, prevent it from being used again as too dangerous. I think Pinehearst is trying to recreate that formula for giving abilities, Elisabeth," Cat answers quietly. "I've seen firsthand what failed versions do. Remember the remains of the agent copies associated with Tyler Case. When I mentioned seeing people melt, and what I was told of the Shanti virus possibly merging with a serum to give abilities, my father let slip something he didn't intend to. His wondering what 'she' was up to."

"I've not spoken with Wireless about the meeting yet, she'll be briefed soon. When we talked a few days ago, she gave her opinion the only difference between the two is one being linked to the government through DHS."

The image of Hana speaking about Pinehearst appears in her mind, the words are heard again. "It's the same fucking thing, Wireless said. Manipulation, lies, and secrets. Just hiding behind a different name."

There's a frown. "The situation with Tyler Case was that Case has the ability to swap people's powers… and she got yanked out of his range or something before she actually spawned her dupes, which proves Brian's dupe was there," Elisabeth muses aloud. "Nothing to do with a formula of any kind, so far as I know. Unless you're saying Case is one of the formula Evos." But Liz does nod to the manipulations and secrets part. "No matter how many ANYONE wants to admit it, there will always be manipulations and secrets, Cat. It's about which ones we can live with and which ones are not for the betterment of society as a whole. If you're trying to root out every organization with secrets who manipulates people….. you're going to have a sad, unhappy life tilting at windmills, my girl."

"Information is power," Cat replies, "and we still need so much more. I'll keep talking with Father and learn all I can. He knew so much, things I didn't expect he would, and the expressions to his face when I spoke about the formula, the guilt… You didn't see it, I did. It makes me wonder if the formula in the future Edward came from didn't go horribly wrong, but at the same time I wonder why he didn't just come right out and say it if that was so. I'm simply saying the jury is out, very out, on all parties. Our best course is to compile data and be in a position to act whatever way we need to."

Elisabeth nods, in agreement with at least that much. "In the meantime…. I've read Felix Ivanov in on all this because of what Wight did." She grimaces. "He needed to know. And I have an appointment later today with Minea Dahl. I'll leave out the time traveling aspects, but …. I don't know what else to do. They've already got wind of the problem thanks to the situation with Aria."

"I told him myself of the vision from that pastor when we came across each other at the Farm," Cat nods. "I may soon make contact with Edward through Robin Hood and try to learn more of his agenda, his motivations. He definitely isn't acting as I'd expect him to if there was a real threat looming. It's just that I'm also very inclinded to distrust any agency tied to a person who was once with the Company. Like Arthur Petrelli."

Elisabeth just sighs. "And round and round and round we go," she murmurs. "We all have to stop and trust someone sometime, Cat. Again.. it's about the side effects you can live with." She moves to stand up, grimacing at the ache in her knees from the squat she was in. "I don't have much of value to offer here. We know the Company is bad. We only have the word of people we know are criminals in the future — and none of them have explained why they were in Moab in the future. If that question gets asked and answered, I'd be more inclined to believe them, honestly. But I think if we take down both the Company and Pinehearst, something else will rise to replace them. Is Pinehearst a devil we can live with is the big question in my mind right now. I don't think we should just assume that they're bad."

"You have me," Cat replies, "telling you what I saw and heard. The look of horror on Father's face when I told him about seeing someone melt and later learning about experiments with a serum to give abilities. The way he asked reactively what 'she' was doing. Tried to play it down, made excuses he didn't himself seem to really believe." But she moves on from that topic. There's more proof needed if the argument is to be convincing, and perhaps more than the force of her thoughts. Hana's are needed too.

"He told me Rickham didn't pull away from the Presidency, said he was forced out. Robbed. The test. Someone used it on him and forced him to step aside or be outed, Father says. That at least makes sense as the reason."

Elisabeth shakes her head. "I still think you're making an assumption when it comes to Case — one that you don't have enough facts to back up. The melting thing still doesn't cut it for me as a case of the agent being experimented on. Not in light of Tyler Case's return to the present and the accompanying wierdnesses — like Hiro and Nathan swapping powers. I'm not saying you're wrong that they may still be working on it, but … I think that particular situation is more likely NOT one of those." She shrugs. "As to Rickham,…. frankly, I'd already assumed someone found out he was Evo and threatened him with it. Either threatened to out him unless he stepped down or whatever. That's not really news to me."

"Elisabeth," Cat replies in a stricken tone, "I told you I've seen it firsthand. Last fall, here in the Village. Gillian was there too, she saw the same things I did, and Peter Petrelli turned up. He was working with the Company briefly then. Two people with abilities were destroying property and hurting people. One looked like he might explode, the other seemed to have acid hands."

"One of them had glowing hands, I couldn't tell if he was making things blow up on purpose or if he was out of control. All I knew was something had to be done fast. I'm not you, able to knock someone over with a concussive force, or Helena who can blow him into a wall and knock him out. The only tool I had was my bow. I put an arrow in his chest, and he went down. Then the other one just melted. When Peter arrived, he said they were sick and in pain." Eyes close, her head shakes.

"If you want to believe I'm an idiot, or Donna Quixote, you will. You didn't see that happen, and you didn't see how Father reacted when I told him that story. You're right. Proof is needed. If Pinehearst is undeserving, I have to rely on Father to find out and get that proof. Trust in his conscience, work to boost it. I want to know all he knows, and I will."

She continues after a pause. "He knew more about me, and us, than I expected. He asked if I was in the city for the blackouts and riots, I told him there was a story to share, and he already knew about us."

Elisabeth shakes her head. "I don't think you're an idiot. I'm saying that you're making leaps in logic about it, tying together what happened with that agent to the thing you saw." She sighs and shoves her hand through her hair. "Look…. you make intuitive leaps based on the skinniest of leads, and right now? I'm not seeing the things that tie this together for you. The only thing I can tell you is that we need more proof, and maybe you should sit down when you're fully sober and write down for me the bits and pieces that make you tihnk the agent is related to this."

"Because the agent in question is still alive, not melted into goo." She grimaces. "And it shouldn't surprise you he knows. He's got spies just like we do — people on the streets watching what happens. It does'nt take much for an intellect on your level to pull together strands of information. I only dispute that sometimes the conclusions you draw don't sound quite right to those of us with normal-range IQs. And it's my job to question you and make you find the facts to back up your intuitive leaps." She grins at her friend. "When you're not drunk."

"Do you trust Hana's judgment, Elisabeth?" Cat asks quietly. "I'm a little drunk. Not as much as I was now. Stopped drinking hours ago." But had apparently had enough for it to still be with her to a degree. "My IQ isn't that much higher than most people's," she asserts. "I don't know what it is, really. Never had it tested. I think it's just that when a person can't forget and has an active mind, there's so much better retention than most have, and the ability to analyze is also improved. Can't prove what I believe, yet. But I know you're a good detective."

"If you'd been there, saw what I saw, you'd suspect and want to keep pulling at that string. The one thing we agree on is there's so much more to be learned from Father. I'm going to keep drawing out as much as I can from him, and if possible get him to come away from Pinehearst. To do the right thing, whatever that is. He has guilt, I saw it. I doubt it's false, I don't believe him that good an actor."

"It troubles me, also, that you might not have an open mind on this. Be inclined to dismiss misgivings. Father knew about Phoenix. He says Arthur Petrelli wants to meet with us, fund the organization. Help us fight the Company and the Government. Says he has a plan to bring it all into the light. Can you really say this doesn't have a slight smell to it, of the too good to be true, what's in it for him, kind?"

Elisabeth grins. "Pull at the string. Far be it for me to tell you to ignore your gut. I'm just advocating not acting on it until you can dummy it down enough for me to follow you, 'kay?" She tilts her head and says quietly, "I trust both you and Hana, Cat — but let me reiterate this for you. We all have prejudices. When you can lay out the facts for me so that I can follow the lines of your logic to the same conclusion — hell, even if I don't AGREE with your conclusion, so long as there are clear lines leading to it! — I'm going to trust you. And I'm not saying Pinehearst is the 'good guys' any more than I'd suggest that … NYPD is the 'good guys' all the time. All companies are made of people, good and bad."

"What I am suggesting is that NO organization will ever be squeaky clean and all about JUST doing the 'right thing' because there will never come a time when everyone agrees on exactly what the 'right thing' is and how to implement it. So yes… I'm taking this argument against Pinehearst with a grain of salt because Phoenix cannot be made up of just conspiracy theorists. There have to be checks and balances in our system. So… call me the devil's advocate, if you like. Before we move on taking down Pinehearst, I want more than nebulous concerns about your father feeling and looking guilty when you tell him things and the unsubstantiated, uncertain trustworthiness of the word of people like Niles Wight — a murderer — and Edward Ray. Everyone's got an agenda. Before we forward theirs, I want to know what it is and why."

She laughs. "Edward. He definitely has an agenda. I don't know what it is. But he has to have one. I should probably contact him, tell him about the meeting, and see what he says in response. I had hoped to speak of Edward with Father, the opportunity didn't come. There was so much already being covered. One thought does occur to me, which it surprises me you didn't suggest yourself. I want to get a sample of Father's DNA and test it against mine. His claims on my parentage won't otherwise be verified."

Quieter then, entirely somber. "The whole thing shook me, Elisabeth, more than most things do, to have me like this. Hearing not only that I'm not me, but also don't have a naturally developing ability, the memory being the product of lab experiments, knowing I got lucky not to have been turned into a melted mass by the people Father says sourced my genetic code… Father agreed I was fortunate. He said many of the Company's test subjects all those years ago suffered from 'severe biological rejection'. Lately, there was the case of what I saw last autumn, and the things Edward told us when he designed the plan against Vanguard. That in the material sent to him, it was said the Shanti virus merged with a serum for giving abilities and that's what made it so much worse."

"And now we hear Adam Monroe is after Hiro, he mentioned the sins of his father. And his father, Kaito, is who Father said locked away the formula after all of the serum that worked was destroyed."

Elisabeth grimaces visibly and this time she merely moves to wrap her arms around her friend. Tightly. "I can't imagine how terrible it must feel to you, knowing all this. Try to get some sleep today, okay? Let me take you downstairs, tuck you in, and get you a lot of water. Sleep a bit, and maybe things will look a little better this evening, all right?" At least Cat will be thinking more clearly. "I have to go in, and I'm sorry for that… I wish I could stay here and just be here for you. It's time to bring full force to bear on Wight and his cronies, though. We need more eyes on the streets." She rests her cheek on Cat's head and urges the brunette to her feet. "C'mon. Bed for you, little brainiac."

She doesn't protest, picking up the guitar and moving down the stairs into the penthouse below. Cat hadn't counted on being found like this; it's her way to keep it all together in front of others and crack only when in private. She's not likely to speak of it again, ever. It didn't happen. She wasn't found drunk and shaken to the core by what was told to her at Tavern On The Green. But even Cat can crack, she's inwardly relieved not to have been found earlier when she was much more drunk and talking to a ghost.

The door to the roof is secured, then there is bed, and sleep. Reports to Hana and Teo will come later.

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