This Argument


cat_icon.gif francois_icon.gif

Scene Title This Argument
Synopsis Cat and Francois's egos clash over Cat's secret correspondence with Kazimir Volken or Peter Petrelli, and Francois' actions based on his discoveries.
Date December 29, 2009

USS George Washington

As the sun is in the western skies, but still some time from sunset in these sub-equatorial waters, Cat is alone. She's spent some time in one of the carrier's exercise facilities, working on a physical training maintenance regimen and practicing Krav Maga moves while the day pressed on for the sailors and officers aboard, and while Francois had his meeting with Sarisa. Concerns over the mission's direction and the shortness of time are thus pressed away from her mind, along with thoughts of things lost in the past year. Stresses she doesn't let on having relieved.

And right now, she's emerging from that place in a sports bra and a pair of workout shorts bought at the NEX facility, a t-shirt in one hand about to be pulled on over her head. The towel she brought along is rested briefly on a rail, to be picked up again.

It started raining a few minutes ago, driving Francois off the deck and out of the way, unsure of what he seeks when he goes below apart from dryness. He hasn't seen Team Charlie since Christmas, and very soon, it will be New Year's, and they probably still won't have quite saved the world. Even with that in mind, and his recent encounter with Kershner, Francois doesn't feel accomplished, exactly, and as he moves at a purposeful stride through the carrier, he's barely seeing where he's going. Let alone actually have purpose.

And so when Cat comes into sight, obscured briefly when the T-shirt goes up over her head, Francois comes to an uneasy halt some distance away, overdressed to her athletic garb in his heavy coat and scarf, hair windswept and damp from the abrupt downpour clattering against metal overhead. He says nothing, at first, hands in his pockets as he glances once over his shoulder, and back to her.

Like a key-turn toy wound back up, he resumes his meander forward.

"Bon soir," she offers, spotting the Frenchman as he nears, while hands finish pulling the garment into place on her torso and grab the towel. "It's good to see you aboard the carrier, there's still work to do." Cat takes a few steps in his direction, oblivious to what's gone before. "Could do without the rain," she observes, "but at least things aren't entirely frozen."

Cat is moving towards him, so Francois stops short, his expression free of anything other than quiet interest as much as his green eyed gaze rests avid on her features. "Catherine," he starts, the word slicing off the end of her final word abruptly but gently, a hand up as if he could silence her. Retracts the gesture again, rubbing his fingers against one angle of less-than-shaven jaw, words silently vying for attention, all wishing to be said first, spilled out between them. "I— have talked to Sarisa Kershner." His voice comes out vaguely uncertain, before gaining a little bit of steel as he continues, "She had me go on an errand. I found something interesting."

"Do tell," she replies with her head tilting to one side. The French man's features are studied to gauge mood as he speaks, Cat clearly interested in what he discovered on that errand. She glances around to either side briefly as an afterthought, to ensure there aren't shipboard personnel around who might hear something they shouldn't. Were such present, she'd recommend going someplace devoid of traffic.

For now, at least, they seem to be granted some measure of privacy — and if they weren't, it doesn't seem as though Francois is prepared to go much further. As for his mood, it's kept concealed as best he can, although tension is overt and something he can't quite clear, not from his shoulders or the clip in his voice, hands huddled in his pockets. "There is a church that Kazimir once went to, in his— relative youth. I found it, went to check if he— had left anything behind. Loyalists. Those old enough to remember memories passed down. These things I did not find, but a priest who had heard the confession of Volken himself, but a month ago. A young American man, who seemed to wake up after the confession was done, lost and confused as to where he was."

It's Cat's turn to be studied as he speaks, and subtle though it might be, Francois doesn't try to conceal the fact he is angry, voice still quiet and eyes still searching. "Catherine, how could you not tell me you had corresponded with Volken? How could you be so certain that you did not tell us?" An assumption, arrogant enough to assume that if she did not tell him, she did not tell anyone but Sarisa.

She, for her part, seems unaffected by his anger. Cat's poise remains, calm in demeanor as she generally is. "He is not Volken," she asserts, "and the reasoning is simple. I know you have history with him, Hiro Nakamura told me on one occasion he spoke to you in a laboratory where Kazimir was performing cruel and barbaric experiments upon you. Would you, earlier or now, be prepared to listen to and accept my reasoning for taking that man's word? I would not expect you to believe my conclusion. You haven't seen what I've seen of the man Kazimir's ability resides in.

"He, while held on the inside of a firm working to create a serum for injecting persons with SLC abilities, managed to stay under his radar and get into position for ending his father's illicit ambitions. His father, notably, is a telepath. I have, thus, witnessed his abilities at infiltration at first hand."

To his credit, Francois listens, and at the mention of his own history, his chin raises as if physical defense were required against such memories. But he listens, and still, shakes his head. "Do you know the man who has my ability now? Do you know how it has affected him? Abigail says that sometimes his eyes will go and he will begin to talk as if he is me," and he punctuates this by curling his hand inwards towards his chest. "As if he were possessed by the gift inside him, the same personality and motivations. Volken retained his ability even longer than I did mine — you are so sure that your friend in Argentina is not him?"

"I've heard her speak of it, and I've had encounters with Mr. Petrelli since he became host to the Kami he carries," Cat relates. "He distanced himself from the persons closest to him, distressed and fearful over what his touch would now do. Even his niece, who is involved with this mission. She's one of the people sent ashore in Madagascar. Yet he also remained watchful. I've told you of Else Kjelstrom."

She pauses here, to let what she says sink in, be processed.

Then, resuming, she states "It was he who rescued her from attempts on her life. He has also been in communication with another person who has precognitive talents, and taken an interest in deciphering the mystery. It's not been a secret, his behavior. One of the people who assisted him in rescuing Miss Kjelstrom is also on the ground in Argentina, she knows full well the Kami is inside the man. Agent Kershner also knew he's there."

"And Agent Kershner now believes you are wrong." Francois takes a step forward, brow creased as he studies her, now, lapsing into a brief silence as they are passed by by one of the carrier's residents, green eyes closing, opening. "Volken confessed to the priest of his sins, of his mistakes that he's unleashed upon the world, and said that only a Flood would undo it all. Perhaps it is not only Monsieur Petrelli who has taken an interest in these prophecies, non? It was clear to the priest that he had transformed in some way. I tell you, that you may know your friend and his talents, but your friend is not as in control as he has led you to believe, if he even realises it himself."

Now there is anger, not in the volume of his voice, but the harshness behind it. "Kershner told me that when we captured Grigori alive that night, it was under Volken's orders to do so. What about Teo's face, Catherine. My hand. Merde, even Ethan almost got killed, doing this thing for you, at the whims of this pretender. You know Petrelli, but I know Volken. You think you have a greater insight than I do, so much so you would deceive us all?"

"You tell me, Francois," Cat rejoins without her calm being disturbed, "why Kazimir would send for Grigori if he were at the wheel? The weapon is in play, if it isn't found it detonates and brings about his objective without any aid. All he would need do is go to someplace, picked by him, to wait and survive. Yet here he is, working to forestall this plan. Tell me, is Kazimir not the kind who would simply go where his surviving lieutenants are gathering to ride out the results themselves, and let all others perish? Even those who served him? He was prepared to do just this eleven months ago, when the virus was to be released."

But now her features shift, anger starting to bubble through despite containment. "You may think me a fool for accepting it. If you do, you do. But I tell you this mission comes first. So many things sacrificed… Ethan held me and my lover captive, cut off her thumb because I wouldn't tell him what he wanted to know. Then he later killed her, because we wouldn't hand over a technopath in trade. We couldn't find her, there was no way to rescue her. So she died."

"And still I am able to tolerate his presence, because the job is more important than any other thing. You think, after this, I would let myself be Volken's stooge? Dani's life, your hand, Teo's face…" All of the pain, the grief and the guilt shows through cracks in the poise normally shown.

"This argument is the reason I didn't speak of it. And now, as you've said Kershner believes I'm wrong, that means she'll have the place in Argentina bombed into rubble, likely killing all of our team members on the ground there and ending any chance we have of succeeding in this mission."

And now Francois' voice raises, bouncing its echo off the walls, hands splaying as his arms lift up from their slack rest at his sides. "But you do not know what goes on in Argentina! We know nothing of Wagner and his plans, of what Volken has done, of any of the status of Team Alpha. You only have a madman's word and nothing more, and it is you who are willing to risk millions of lives in favour of it, as opposed to me, the lives of— what? Five? Six men and women?— against it." The callousness is not becoming on him, for a moment stealing away his words as he rocks back a step, warped hand up to the back of his neck to rub away the tension gathered.

He's pale, too, and quieter when he says, "Do not say I have helped end the chance of succeeding in this mission. Do not. I have given everything I have to its cause. And I trusted you, all of you. I never withheld information, I never doubted your competency or your opinions, despite the fact you are all children who refuse to grant me the same respect."

Veers off a little, moving to lean his back against the adjacent wall, head thunking back against it as he tilts it back, regarding the ceiling. "Holden was a double-agent, working for us, but he never said. I found out through the other side, believing him to be a mole. I could have killed him. If you do not see the harm in someone working with things of such importance such as these missions, and not knowing all they can know, then oui, I believe you are a fool, because you make fools out of the rest of us. I am sorry about your lover, still. I know sacrifice, Catherine."

"You've not answered the question, Francois," Cat rejoins, her face red and eyes blazing. "Why would Volken bother to be in Argentina and undertake to subvert me, if it is him and not Peter Petrelli impersonating him? Why would he not be off by himself, to let it all happen?"

"It's not a surprise Holden infiltrated the Russian cell and aided us. He played a part in defeating the viral plot, by turning against Kazimir in the eleventh hour. We all knew that to be true. As did you, it's why he was even brought to Russia."

"Above and beyond Petrelli's impersonation of Kazimir and whether or not it's wise to accept it, the truth here is we have little choice. Time grows short, we've no idea where the Verano is. Sometimes it's necessary to hold one's breath and take that leap. Now is such a time. We will find and dismantle that weapon, if the airstrike soon to happen doesn't wipe out whatever needs to be retrieved on the ground in Argentina."

Barely listening, if not interrupting her, Francois briskly shakes his head and pushes off from the wall as she speaks, pacing as if caged, a hand up as if he could ward away her words before running sound fingers through his hair, itching his scalp restlessly. "Listen to yourself," he murmurs, gesturing, "'whatever needs to be retrieved'. You do not know Volken and his motives — you cannot say with certainty that he would only retreat to safety and wait it out. You do not know if there are things he needs there, people — he can care, Catherine, he has that capacity. For Eileen, for Grigori's rusalka.

"Or perhaps it is not to do with that at all, but he is providing only a distraction — perhaps his location in Argentina is exactly your theory, a stronghold against the Flood? Perhaps you are most correct, and it will only take an airstrike as opposed to flooding to reduce this hiding place to ruin?"

He stops pacing, arms out again. "There is your answer. Speculation. Guesswork. Just as yours is. Only if you are wrong, the death toll is so much higher. But I will rest assured that at the very least, Kazimir will be dead."

"He doesn't know we have Yvette," Cat relays. "When we spoke today, he asked about her. Kershner indicated not to share that with him, so I didn't. I accept he can care, but I posit he would not. He would have no care for Eileen, she turned against him before Ethan did."

And she's done arguing. "Should fortune smile upon us and all hope not be wiped out in that airstrike, we will find and dismantle the weapon. And when I am proven correct, you can come to me and display your appropriate contrition. Maybe then we shall talk further of the world and the state it's in."

Feet go into motion, she seeks to move past his position and show her back in walking away.

Laughter follows her out, the despairing, disbelieving kind, muffled for a moment which is indicative of his hands rubbing his face, but his words follow her clearly. "Monsieur Petrelli asks for the daughter of the man he is only pretending to be? And Kershner would hide it from him and you still— " Francois cuts himself off by then, a hissing sigh, before the sound of his foot steps join her's — in the other direction.

She turns back as he laughs, eyes settling on his face. "He didn't ask for Yvette, Francois. She was mentioned when he said we needed Grigori. I asked him how we could go about defeating Grigori's ability, and he told me a facet of her ability allows her to be immune to his illusions. He told me how to secure her cooperation. It fortunately turned out not to be necessary."

Then she shows her back again, path and steps away from him resuming.

"Ah, oui, we perfomed that task so well on our own," is fired right back, clashing information with that flare up of anger and only that, pivoting on a heel to do so, before indeed, Francois continues his own march for out, heading for the decks — regardless of how hard it may be raining.

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