The Fog Of War


ash_icon.gif ling_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title The Fog of War
Synopsis Peter comes to see Ash after making a decision about the situation with Messiah, and Ling Chao takes the opportunity to confront both men.
Date October 11, 2010

Howland Hook Facility

The medical bay of the Howland Hook facility isn't much to look at. A few folding cots laid out side by side, a cheap desk that looks like it was pulled out of a heap of someone else's trash or a long-since abandoned building, and a few stacks of first-aid kits. The entire room is cold and unheated, with glass windows covered with newspaper to keep out prying eyes but still let in a modest amount of light.

Right now, during the late afternoon, Sasha Kozlow is nowhere to be found, but his only patient — Ashley Williams — is. Laid up on the cot he's been on for almost a week, Ash is under strict orders not to move around and push himself too far, stitches healing, bruises fading and all the battered cuts and bruises he sustained from Round Two with Michael Spalding getting better under Sasha's medical care.

Knocking on the frame of the door, as if worried he might disturb him, Peter Petrelli has finally managed to coincide his visits with Ash into time when Ash is awake. Standing there in the doorway, Peter looks as sullen and dour as always, but perhaps more put upon by the weight of the division within Messiah driving the group further and further apart.

"Hey," he offers, stepping in to the makeshift clinic with his hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks, peacoat buttoned down to stave off the chill in the air, red scarf wound around his throat beneath the jacket. "Sasha tells me you're healing up pretty well," Peter admits a bit reluctantly. "I'm— I was hoping you might be okay to talk about something?"

Ash is awake, though his attention is fairly focused. He's laid up on the bed, in a partially sitting up posiition, with a book in his lap, and two others sitting on the table right next to his bed, he's most of the way through th eone in his lap, turning pages at decently quick pace. he reaches his hand to the right, picking up the nutrient enriched water, that tastes like cough medicine, and taking a long sip of it before putting it back, his eyes on the book.

When he hears a voice he looks up, blinking several times to let his eyes adjust to staring at something other than letters on a page. "Peter." he offers with a slow forward tilt of his head. He's got his own scarf wrapped around his forarm snugly, never letting it away from him. He marks his place in the book and closes it, setting it to the side before he motions for Peter to come on over. "What's on your mind boss man?"

There's a rueful snort at the title Ash offers, followed by a slow shake of Peter's head. "I'm not so sure I'm deserving of that title…" he admits in a hushed tone of voice, moving over to where Ash's cot is. Halfway there, Peter snags the back of a folding chair, carrying it with him before swinging it around as he sets it down, then straddles the chair and folds his arms over the back, slouching forward against it as he sits.

"I'm… pretty sure we've been screwed over by Rupert. He's cut off all communication with us, nobody knows where he or a good third of Messiah's other members are. I've heard reports from— I guess not people I trust, but people I believe— that have said Rupert's a plant for the government or something. It's— " sliding his tongue over his lips, Peter sweeps his hair back from his face with one hand.

"Do you think you'll be fit to get up and around in a few days? I want to take you and a couple other people and go check out Rupert's estate, figure out the truth for myself. But this— it isn't a mission or anything." Peter's brows furrow, "It's me asking you for a favor."

Ash shrugs his shoulders a little bit. "Every group needs one. Just because you fucked up in a royal way doesn't mean you're not still it Petrelli." He leans back, getting comfortable as the othe rman approaches, Ash's eyes closing for a few seconds while he waits. He's moving stiffly, but he's moving, though, not much since he's still in the bed. He pulls in a slow breath, then exhales long and slow as well. His eyes open as Peter takes a seat and he listens to the man.

"Did Rupert lose his power Peter?" he asks his head tilting ot the side a little bit. "Because he told me he had." Yeah, a bit of a random question. "Pete… I could have told you Rupert wasn't straight, and I in fact did try to if you recall." It's not a rubbing it in statement though, despite the statement itself. "Learn to trust your people's instincts Peter… it'll help you alot. But yeah, there's been one too many fishy things with our missions for me not to have expected this." He grumbles then, smoething about he should have shot the man when he had the chance. "I'll be fine, though if you think his estate isn't booby trapped, monitored, and set up as a trap for us then you'd be sorely mistaken there boss. But yeah, I'll go."

"You would only be so lucky, if Rupert had really lost his ability." A thin, whispery voice, despite its quietness, suddenly rings out through the room, one that both should recognise as belonging to Ling Chao. She had been hoping to meet Peter for several days, but had been waiting to make a decision on… certain arrangements, and with handled and her Rebel left message seeming to fall on deaf ears, she has made her way out to Howland hook.

It would seem, just in time to hear something she had been hoping to hear.

"Hello Peter. Hello, Ash." A thin layer of smoke begins to cloud the floor - Ling's clearly here, but not yet deciding to make herself whole. Just in case. "I had been hoping to find someone here. It is fortunate, it seems, that I arrived when I did."

Wariness crosses Peter's face the moment he hears Ling's voice, stealing away any response he may have been forming for Ash's question — and an important one at that. When Peter turns, he's rising up off of the chair, the edges of his body becoming indistinct and smoky, wisps of gray bleeding off of his skin as his fingers spread, then curl into fists.

"Ling," sounds defensive, accusing, nervous, all these things wound up into the ball of stress that Peter has become. There's many things Ling Chao is, but Peter had hired her as an assassin, and if Rupert Carmichael would send anyone to try and kill him, it would be Ling, wouldn't it?

"Convenient to run into you now," Peter accusingly spits out, his lips downturned into a slightly crooked frown. "Where were you?"

Ash sighs and nods his head forwards a little bit. "I really need to find Kaylee." He mutters, his head shaken angrily, but he settles down quick enough and tilts his head up to look back up to Peter, only to blink as he reallizes Peter didn't say that. His head turns, and his eyes flicker around the room, only to rest on the smoke and he rolls his eyes some. "ling." He murmurs before tilting his head back and closing his eyes, th eman shifting in his bed a bit, a wince of pain crossing his features.

He sighs and shifts in the bed, his arms slipping beneath the covers, and his body relaxing a little bit as he watches Peter and then watches Ling. "It's a damned good question. We could have used you." He comments in Ling's direction, though his gaze slides to Peter for a couple of seconds, and then back. "And you would interupt just as I'm finally getting ot sit down and talk to Pete here."

There is a moment of silence, followed by a "Hmph." Smoke swirls upwards, forming into a vaguely humanoid shape. "If I am interrupting so much, then I can leave. My absence from the meeting is why I came here." There is a moment of pause, a smoke form hand rising up and waving dismissively. "However, Ash, I can help you find Kaylee, if I am thinking of the same woman. I am in the process of arranging a meeting with her anyway."

A smoky head turns, looking at Peter. "I was too busy making arrangements for a certain wayward youth at the Little Green House. That, however, is a matter than be discussed after you two… finish your business." There is what can only be assumed to be a chuckle. "I am only here to offer my assistance. I heard what you said about Carmicheal. I'm afraid evidence points to his… betrayal being fact, rather than conjecture."

Trust his instincts, Ash says. Peter sometimes hates having advice that seems so easy to accept.

"Kid's safe?" One brow lifts as Peter offers a look to Ling's smoky form, then back to Ash, his body solidifying as he makes eye-contact with the rough-shod soldier. "Yeah," Peter finally answers Ash, "it— everything I've heard implies that Rupert still has his ability. I talked to Richard Cardinal a few weeks back, thanks to Edgar setting up a meeting, and he told me that he'd heard from a reliable source that Carmichael had kidnapped me after I returned from… overseas." Overseas is easier than explaining Operation: Apollo.

"He said Carmichael… screwed with my head, made it hard for me to question his lead. I— I started realizing Cardinal might've been right after I picked up Claire's ability. It— I…" Peter closes his eyes and exhales a sharp sigh, looking down to the folding chair. "I can't sleep more than three hours a night, and I think Rupert might've been responsible for that. But when I got Claire's ability, I— I needed less sleep. My mind started clearing up and… and I noticed I have holes in my memory. Spans of time I don't remember, I… don't even remember how I met Rupert, or even when I joined Messiah."

Looking up to Ling, there's a slow shake of Peter's head. "I need to figure out what happened for myself. The only way I'm going to be able to do that is if we take Risa to Rupert's place, have her show us the past. Regardless of whatever's there. But right now it— it looks like this was all planned from the start. I just… I can't figure out what Rupert has to gain from all this."

Ash sighs softly at Peter, his head tilting back and remaining there for a long little while now. He breathes slowly, chest swelling, and relaxing, exhaling. "Probably is. Kaylee is a mind fucker, crazy little jedi, but a good person, and at one time a very good friend." He lifts a hand, rubbing fingers over hsi face and then back through his hair, giving it a few hard tugs. "Well Peter, that is very very easy." He shifts his position a touch. "The utter annihilation of every major point of resistance ot the government that exists." He looks to Peter, seieng if the man gets what he's pointing out, and then explains anyway.

"He gathers together, all the most powerful, dedicated, and capable people who would fight against the government. Unifies them, turns them into a unit, sacrafices a few things here and there to make it seem legitamate, then destroys it entirely and absolutely, killing, capturing dismantling, whatever have you, the most effective fighting force of resistance." He chuckles a little bit and then lifts a hand again, rubbing it over his features. "That or he forges his own personal evolved army of mind fucked powerhouses. Either one makes perfect sense." He smiles and shakes his head slowly, sitting up a bit more. "Well, based on the fact that he told me he'd lost his power, I'm going to assume I'm compromised." And he does not sound at all happy about that idea.

Finally solidifying - if only as a show of trust - Ling offers a bit of a nod to Ash. "Kaylee was able to determine that Melissa was compromised. She may not be Messiah, but I believe she will be a useful asset to us. I am planning on taking Kendall to her, for keeping with the Ferryman instead of the Little Green House," Ling states simply with a gesture of her hand, stepping up to the pair. If they hadn't heard of Kendall's return before now, well… that could make this conversation interesting.

"Unfortunately, it was Cardinal who spared me this information as well. His willingness wo spread such information about was something I was suspicious of, for some time. It would seem, however, that he has proven at least somewhat correct." A look over to Peter, an unusually sympathetic look given. "I'm afraid I've known for some time about Rupert's purported lies, and his supposed… working you over. I would have said something, but I was not sure how… well he had done his job.

A hand reaches back, running through long hair. "Melissa and I had been planning to furtively bring members of Messiah to Kaylee, to see if they bared the marks of Rupert's tampering. I am sure the Ferrymen know of his handiwork going about, I'm afraid." Never mind that she told her to tell them. "But I'm woefully unsure as to what Rupert plans now. As I heard it…Messiah was the work of Vice President Mitchell, through Carmicheal. Did he tell you this, Peter?"

Peter's silent, ruefully so, eyes narrowed and lips downturned into a frown, hands clenched into fists at his side. Once more he was used like a puppet and thrown away at the earliest convenience. Midtown, Apollo, too many times he's been someone else's pawn and caused untold damage for it. Lifting up one hand to his forehead, Petr breathes in deeply and steps away from Ling and Ash, exhaling a heavy sigh as he rubs his forefingers over his brow.

"He told me," Peter quietly murmurs, "I… I don't want to just trust Cardinal though, part of me is just screaming to push him away, but I can't be sure if that's me talking or if it's Rupert's mental conditioning." There's a look, wary. up to Ash, then over to Ling. "You should take him to Kaylee, yeah. If there's anyone I trust, it's her. I still don't know what happened to Claire, Huruma, practically everyone."

Worried, and rightfully so, Peter looks down to the floor as his hand lowers from his brow. "I need to see what Rupert was doing for myself. Otherwise I'll be second guessing this— I'll be second-guessing people who are just trying to help. Whatever Rupert's doing, he can't be done because we're all still alive. We need to figure out what his plan is."

Ash blinks rapidly, his head whipping aorund, eyes wide, though it draws a hiss of pain from him. "Kendall is alive???" He asks with an oddly hopeful and strangely earnest expression, hopeful and earnest for Ash is a very odd thing to see on the man. "Cardinal is a gloater. He enjoys knowing more than you do and enjoys shoving your face in it. Doesn't mean you shouldn' tlisten to what he has to say though." he grunts, though he clearly has no particular love for Cardinal. Then eyes flicker to Peter. "Rupert is probably why you wouldn't let Kaylee come around. He was afriad she'd find his tampering on the members of Messiah, and yourself in particular."

A frustrated growl escapes Ash, but when he sees Peter's feratures he frowns. "No. You don't get to go mental on us Petrelli. If this shit is going ot hold together, and it damn well fucking better, then we need you to keep your shit together. You're going to go see Kaylee, and she's going to fix your fucking head…" He pauses a few moments, then blinks. "Where the fuck is Rickham?" he asks in a rather random and out of place manner. "I haven't seen the pres in quite awhile…" he looks to Peter, then back to Ling before shaking hsi head. "Sorry… miss the metal man and haven't sene him since… fuck… the hospital." He shifts on the bed, swinging his legs out to the side, a wince of pain crossing the man's face. "So, the government thing was the right one then. It's what I'd been expecting for a long time, and something I've brought up in the past that us getting togheter in one big group like this was a bad idea."

He huffs a heavy sigh and looks to Peter. "Rupert has a fuck load to answer for Peter. Make sure you keep your head together long enough to make sure tha thappens."

"Kendall is… a long story. One for later, unfortunately." Ling's arms cross as she looks over at Peter, frowning. "I understand that hesitance, Peter. I do not want to just trust Cardinal either. If you ask me, it is rather convenient, particularly given that he refused to give up his source. But… like I said. What he says so far has proven true, in some form or another. So, for the moment, I'm willing to buy in." She takes a few steps towards the Messiah "leader". "Making sure is wise, however. It is always wise to be sure. I have… interest in making sure this stays together, so if my help is needed for anything, let me know." Not a typical offer from the Chinese woman, but abandoning a project such as Messiah is not in her blood.

There's a pause as she looks back to Ash, shaking her head. "Kaylee was unwilling to actually mess around with any of the triggers within Melissa, unfortunately. She seemed worried there might be adverse effects for doing so. Melissa, however, was not the first one to show signs of mental tampering it seems. For whatever it matters, she mentioned Magnes Varlane had been having similar problems as well."

"The last time I saw Rickham he was with Rupert," Peter admits with a slow shake of his head, "he hasn't called in yet, hasn't responded. He— he might still be working with Carmichael." Look back to Ling, Peter closes his eyes and exhales a sigh, but when his eyes open and he's focused on Ling, he can't quite be certain that she's not screwing with him a little. Kendall is admittedly a topic of reservation, and one of guilt from Peter, his expression demands explanation, but he doesn't vocalize the demand. He'll ask Melissa, later.

"Lynette and Perry want to meet to discuss the future of the organization. They were… really helpful at the last meeting, Perry refused to allow us to be broken apart by what was happening, and Lynette…" Peter slowly shakes his head. "Griffin is firmly on board too, he talked me out of just disbanding everything and hiding while we could. I don't… I don't like the idea that I might not be able to trust my own judgement, which…" Peter furrows his brows and shakes his head. "Anyway…"

Lifting up one hand to rub at the back of his neck, Peter offers a look across to Ling, then Ash. "I'm taking Cardinal and Risa to Rupert's place tomorrow night. If either of you want in, let me know. I'm going to borrow Kris' ability so that we can get in there without being seen. If nothing else it might help us figure out what the hell's going on. I— I'll see Kaylee if she wants to see me. I tried to convince myself to before but— " Peter covers his face with one hand.

Did he drive her out of his life because of Rupert?

Ash curls his fingers into the bed beneath him, and then pushes up and to his feet, a groan as his back pops and cracks, his whole body really, stretching after a week of inactivity and laying around. He pushes up and to his feet fully, standing and stretching, though there's pain on his features from doing so. "Well, at the very least she can give us commands not to obey Rupert. I've watched her have men shoot themselves before, I know she can do it. And I'd bet my life on her abilities, I have before, and I'd do so again."

Then Ash's eyes pull back around to Peter and he frowns, deeper. "Damnit…" he grits his teeth, and shakes his head, clearly not happpy about that little tidbit. "He probably has no idea…. or he's been screwed with as well." He rounds on Peter then, and looks like he might very well backhand the other man for what he's just said, talking about breaking the group up and running and hiding. "Is that all this whole thing means to you? Really? It's something you could just walk away form because one fucked up thing happened? One thing didn't go out fucking way? This is a war Petrelli, not some little spat that will work itself out. I really thought oyu understood that."

His jaw sets hard and his eyes bore into Peter, anger plain on his features. "I'm still with you for that, but I want to know that you're not going ot abandon this thing Pete. People's fucking lives are on the line here."

"Not a war. Not yet." Ling's eyes close, shaking her head. "If Rupert, or Mitchell, or whomever is in charge has their way, then we will have a full scale war. What we've been doing so far is a statement." She eyes Ash for a moment, managing to glare at him without having any sense of anger or frustration. "From what I understand, if Rupert or whoever is having the strings has their way, November eighth is when the war begins." A hand reaches up, rubbing her face. "Another one of those things from Cardinal that needs to be looked in to. But from what I heard out of that manifesto of Rupert's, I am genuinely worried he may just as bad for us as anyone else." She may be over extending herself a bit with that accusation, but there it is.

She paces a bit, looking up and nodding at Peter. "I am unsure of what I could do, but I would like to come. If only for my own peace of mind as well. I wish Melissa were around as well, I imagine it was a solace she would seek as well." A pause, and Ling furrows her brow. "Now that I think about it…" Ling grimaces, and then looks up at Peter. "Melissa was taken in by DHS recently. Willingly, to have her name cleared from her time in Moab. From what I understand, that is sorted out, though she has been relocated to Roosevelt Island. However…" Ling looks thoughtful for a moment, before nodding. "She said someone in DHS handled the triggers in her mind. That Kaylee wouldn't touch. This is a curiosity, is it not?"

Once more Peter is morose in silence, arms folded across his chest and head bowed, not confirming that he's still in the game or not, just glaring with that thousand-yard-stare of his down to his feet, lips downturned into a frown and brows furrowed. He's gone distant before, always listening, but never answering. Sometimes it's hard to tell what he's thinking at any one time. Kaylee herself can profess to that, with some irony.

"Her uncle is the DHS Operations Director," Peter murmurs as his eyes narrow, "Jason Pierce. She confided in me that secret the last time I talked to her. So Melissa has family high up in DHS' organizational structure," there's a look to Ash, then Ling, "she conveniently disappears right as we're planning the assassination, and Kendall winds up being alive when we all thought he'd been killed. We know the kid is an illusionist…"

Peter's scowl grows, head shaking slowly. "She left the Ferry because she'd said something to me about being a bridge between the Ferrymen and the Department of Evolved Affairs. I don't…" Peter's eyes search from side to side slowly. "Now she's just… gone? Gone when the rest of us are getting hunted and arrested? They put Melissa Pierce in the custody of Matthew Parkman of DHS, and you're telling me they didn't find out she was Messiah?"

Now he's furious. "Ling, maybe she's been one of them this whole goddamned time?"

Ash looks over to Ling, and hsi head is given a slow shake to her statement. "No, what we've been doing has been carrying out a war. A small war. A guerilla war, but a war none the less. You don't fight battles involving the national guard, jet fighters, tanks, FRONTLINE, and all the other bullshit we've faced and it not be a war." Ash shakes hsi head, not in annoyance, but in exasperation.

However, he does settle in and listen to the rest of what Ling has to say, but makes no comment on everything he hears out of the woman.

Ash turns his head, and his eyes on Peter, and then, with a simple motion, he cuffs Peter upside the head, rather firmly too, smacking the man's head before he grabs a hold of his shirt and shakes him a little bit, but doesn't remove his hand from the man's shirt. "Petrelli, before another fucking word is spoken I want you to look me in the eye and tell me you're still part of this, still part of this fight, and that you're not going to fucking lose it on us. I can go back to hunting individuals on my own, fucking with the government in whatever way I can. I've got the skills, the arsenal, and the fucking lack of consience to do it. But most of the group does not, and they need someone to give them direction. I'm not that man. I can lead men, but I'm not a leader of men. Big fucking difference. They'll follow me into a fight, and to their deaths even, but I would have to be with them, they wouldn't go to their deaths on my orders. People will do that for you. So grow the fuck up. Shit happens, you deal with it and move on, or you become useless. Which are you going to be? Fucking useless? And let the fuckers who used you win? Or are you actually gonna be a man about this shit and fight back?" Yeah, it's a bit of a pep talk, and a bit cliche, but ther'es passion in Ash's words. He means every word he's speaking.

Ling grimaces as Ash both denies her assertation, and takes Peter upside the head. Not the reaction she would have chosen, but hopefully effective. "I have to agree with Ash," she remarks after a moment, giving a bit of a nod. "As for Melissa, she is unreachable because she is out of the country. I believe participating in a trip into space to eliminate government satellites, which is just as remarkably crazy as it sounds. But regardless. You do not have to worry about her, Peter, I can assure you of that much. She is one of the few people in this city I actually trust."

A weary sigh follows, the businesswoman furrowing her brow as she looks at Peter. "Kendall is… from what she tells me, and other sources, there is some sort of time war going on between Hiro Nakamura and… a Sullivan fellow. Apparently, Kendall's survival is a result of this, or so Melissa says. I am still half inclined to believe that Refrain is making circles once more." Ling gives a bit of a shrug.

"That's the best information on that matter I have. But believe me when I say I ahve been looking into the information I ahve, Peter. It's what I did long before I became a drug pusher, or entered the business of terrorism. I know what I am doing, and nothing points to Melissa being in on any of this. You will have to trust me on this."

There's a lot happening at once.

Peter is recoiling from a whack upsie the head, yanked around by Ash, staring wide-eyed at him, and then Ling is trying to be helpful, but when the topic of one chubby Japanese time-traveler comes up, Peter is all wide-eyed and confused. That he's staring at Ash perhaps makes it look like Ash is the one he's confused at, and that might be the case in the moments before Peter turns to so much smoke between Ash's grasp.

Ash knew a smoke shifter once before too, it didn't save her from him. Only Adam's mercy did.

When Peter solidifies a few feet away from Ash, he straightens his shirt and stares silently at the soldier, then looks over to Ling, brows furrowed. "You cannot trust Hiro Nakamura," Peter admits with a wary tone of voice. "Trust me, he has his mind set on one thing, and one thing only. No one here," Peter waves his hand around, "no one in this world matters to him aside from that one goal. If he succeeds? Maybe none of this even matters."

It's only then that Peter turns to look back at Ash, exhaling a slow sigh through his nose. "I'm trying to decide if I'm trustworthy enough to be leader. Rupert screwed with my head, Ash. He made me— he flipped switches in my mind that made me drive away people I cared about, made he trust him unconditionally, and they're not gone. That people are willing to follow my lead to go out and die makes me terrified now, because what if it's not my orders we're all acting on, but his?"

Peter lifts a hand up to his cheek, rubbing slowly. "That's what Lynette, Perry and I are going to talk about. I… I might need to step down from leading Messiah until we're sure that the weeks Rupert spent tailoring my brain to his needs aren't going to jeaopardize more people. In the meantime, I have someone in mind who everyone else will listen to. But I'm not going to make a decision on that till' I've talked to some people about it."

Peter rubs a hand at his forehead. "I'm not going to lead Messiah to their deaths, because of something Rupert did to me."

Ash grumbles a little bit. "One day I'd like to meet this Hiro guy. I've heard alot about him." He shakes his head a little bit, and goes to let Peter's shirt go, only to have the man turn to smoke. When he reappears Ash has his pointer finger aimed at Peter, and his thumb sticking straight up. He pops the thumb down in the unniversal 'bang' gesture. "Then you're fucking useless and you admit it. Go home and cry to your mother Pete, cause you'll get no sympathy from the likes of me. I'm in this with the full knowledge that I won't come out of it alive. So what if your head got fucked with? Mine did too. You going ot let something like that stop you fom fighting back? If so, then fuck you, and you never deserved Messiah's loyalty." He shakes his head and turns to walk around a little bit, stretching muscles, joints popping as he moves, slowly working the kinks out of his body.

"People have died for you, for Messiah. They didn't die because of Rupert, though their blood might be on his hands. They died because they believed in the fight, and believed in you. They were willing to die for it. Lacombe. Jessy. The list goes on, and you know it as well as I do. You going to let their deaths mean nothing? Because if you do that, then their blood will be on your hands, and Rupert will win. He'll have used you, and he'll have won."

"Who Hiro Nakamura is and what he wants isn't my concern and I have no reason to trust him. I am just telling you what I know." Ling shakes her head, hands moving to her hips. "I think, Peter, the fact that you are thinking clearly enough to step down, even if temporary, is a good sign." She rolls her shoulders, resuming her pace in somewhat of a disagreement with Ash's assessment. "However, Ash is correct." Or so it seems. "At the end of the day, many of us are here because of you, whatever the reason may be. They will help and follow you. Find a way to take advantage of this. To prove that you're the person you can be." Her eyes narrow on Peter. "That's the easiest way that this is going to reach it's end."

"I wouldn't trust you to lead in your condition either!" Peter shouts with a point of his hand to Ash, but his riee is boiled down when Ling— agrees— with— Ash?

Stranger things have happened.

Looking to Ling, Peter's hand lowers slowly, and he snorts out a frustrated sigh. "You have to trust me on this, if you think I'm good enough to be some sort of leader than you're going to trust me that I don't know if I can trust myself right now, not to give you orders that wind up ruining everything." Peter snaps his attention away to Ling, then marches past her towards the door. "I need to try and mend some of these bridges I've been burning since I joined Messiah. I've— I turned my back on a lot if friends at Rupert's advice."

Pausing by the doorway, Peter turns and looks back to Ling and Ash. "I'm going to see if I can track down Catherine Chesterfield, if someone knows what's going on— it's her. After that, I'm going to see about finding Kaylee for myself. Tomorrow I'd like it if both of you came with Risa, Cardinal and I. It'll help to have different perspective on what she shows… you know how that can be, Ash."

Ash looks well… rather surprised that Ling is agreeing with him so much on this stuff, even if she might not like the way he's going about it. Ash walks over to his bed and tosses up the covers on it, only to lean forwards, fingers curling into the bedding as his body shakes and his eyes close up tight, pain showing clear on hsi features. "Going to kill that fucking piece of….." He grunts in pain, his jaw clenched, teeth grinding a bit before the pain passes and he's able to straighten up. "Start carrying around some fucking C4. See how well the punk ass soldier boy deals with an explosive fucking kick me sign on his back."

Ash sucks in air, and lets it out, calming himself before he straightens up. He reaches over, picking the blankets up again and fishes out the gun he had beneath them. it's a big gun. Desert Eagle fifty cal. It's modified too, extended clip, laser sight, a few other mods on the thing. Normally? Way too loud for a mission, but self defense item when you're not sure who you can trust? Yessir.

He then fishes his pants and everything else, since he's been in his boxers and t-shirt thsi whole time, from the chair at the side of his bed, but his eyes go up to Peter as he goes quiet, then speaks. "You were good enough to be the leader when you didn't know your mind was fucked, why shoudl knowing your mind is fucked change that?" He scoops his gun up by th ebarrel, big hand dwarfing most of that gun as he walks to peter, handle out towards the man.

"Here, take it, pull the trigger." he offers Peter the gun, showing the man an incredible amount of trust, showing that he trusts him despite his mind being messed with. "Living in fear of what may happen is admitting defeat, and i'll die before I do that. I'll go with you tomorrow night, but after that, you better damn well fucking decide on whether you've got the balls to continue on, and not sit here moping and whining like a little fucking girl. Shit. Happens. Deal with it." his eyes settle on Peter as he waits to see whether the man will take the gun or not, though his eyes do flicker to Ling every so often.

Ling remains quiet as she stares at Peter for several moments, before nodding. "If you find Catherine Chesterfield, tell her to find me. I know Melissa wanted to meet with her at one point. If I find her first… I will pass on that you wish to speak with her. For now, do what you need to do. Business can be worked out once things are in order." She wrinkles her nose, eyeing Ash as the gun is offered to Peter . "No operation can survive on a faulty base. We need to know where we all stand." Smoke begins to drift off of Ling's form, the woman taking several steps towards Peter, leaning forward as she narrows her eyes. "I trust that you don't trust yourself. Figure out how to fix that, and do it."

Ash mutters in irritation. "One of these fucking days I'll get to meet Cat as well. Everyone fucking knows everyone else but me." He glances over to Ling and his head nods to her statement. "I'd rather have a foundation that I know is cracked, and where it's cracked so I can deal with it, than a foundation that could crack at any moment under the pressure of it's own weight."

He turns his eyes back upon Peter and narrows them. "Also, I wouldn't rely on the smoke power too much in a bad situation Peter. It has it's faults." He flashes the man a very very predatory grin, then flicks his gaze over to Ling for a few secodns, and then back, only to sigh and shakes his head slowly.

Peter looks down to the gun, then back up to Ash, lifting one brow in response to Ling's comment about a faulty base in suggestive motion to Ash. Likewise, as Ling turns to smoke, so too does Peter, breaking apart into a transparent gray cloud that rises up into the ventillation ductwork and slithers out of sight, leaving a few coiling wisps behind before disappearing entirely out of sight.

Ash is, once again, left by himself down in the clinic with his books, with a gun, and with the distinct impression that the war he's been talking about, the war he wants that will justify his ability, justify the skills he's taken in life, and give him purpose isn't over.

"Sometimes, I swear I'm the only one with a brain in this joint." Ash snorts and turns back around and begins to get dressed.

The war has only just begun.

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