Was This An Error?


cat_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Was This An Error?
Synopsis Cat seeks a second opinion on recent activities over lunch. There is food, and later an idea happens.
Date January 4, 2009

A five star restaurant on the Upper East Side.

She's taken to rising early in the weeks since the abduction, the trade, and the death. Moving around, every night in a different place, and her troubles getting sleep will do that. Since her conversation with Teo, it's sharpened some. Cat is being introspective, contemplating what he said, and the man himself.

So it is when Sunday morning arrives. As she has so many times recently, she got up, showered, dressed, stashed gear in her car, and went elsewhere. To a five star restaurant where lunch could be had starting around eleven. While still in her car, the iPhone is used to dial Elisabeth Harrison's number, and she listens for answer.

Elisabeth picks up the phone. "Hello. What's up?" The caller ID this time has not failed her. She's actually using today to fold her laundry — why is it that clothes multiply like bunnies when you work?

"Elisabeth," Cat begins, "are you hungry?" Her voice is calm enough, but it does carry the sound of having something on her mind.

There's a pause on the end of the line, and then Liz replies, "Sure. Where to, Cat?" Because the tone has her curious.

She gives the name and location of a place on the Upper East Side, one she may recognize as being celebrated for its fare. "Thank you, Liz," she offers. "I'll be waiting for you, they'll know you're coming to meet me."

After hanging up with Cat, Liz changes clothes to something more appropriate for the venue and heads out. The restaurant is one that she's gone to a few times in the past with her parents, or more recently just her father, so it doesn't take her long to get there. And she gives Cat's name to the maitre d'.

"Ah yes, Miss. Doctor Chesterfield is this way," the maitre'd replies when she arrives and gives the name. He shows Elisabeth in to where Cat's sitting, a quiet area where privacy and not being overheard is easy to be sure of.

Cat stands as she sees Elisabeth nearing the table. She's chosen a beige blazer, w cream coloured blouse, a skirt which matches the jacket, and two inch heeled pumps of a complementary color. Lawyer clothing, to wit. A business suit. "Thanks for coming," she offers with a slight smile.

Elisabeth is dressed a bit more casually, mainly because she can. Although she, too, is wearing a skirt — unheard of for her lately! — it's a sleek dark brown suede that stops above her knee topped with a cream sweater that has bronze and hunter green accents. Boots with a couple inches at the heel accentuate her legs, and her hair's loose. There's not a badge or a gun in sight, though she does carry a handbag. "Not to worry … though I was surprised that we were going a bit more upscale today," Liz laughs. "You've got me curious. How're you doing, Cat?" She slides into the seat across from the other woman, settling her bag on the chair's back as she does so.

"I'm surviving," Cat replies with a quiet grin, as she settles back into her seat. One hand smooths the skirt as she settles, and her hands are placed flat on the table. In a place such as this, and dressed in the garb of her doctorate's profession, she also exhibits the sort of poise often projected when people of the blueblood set interact. "You seem to fit well here," she observes with a quiet chuckle. "Were you raised into this sort of background also?"

There's a soft laugh from Elisabeth. "I was raised a couple blocks over, actually," she admits. My parents are both lawyers. Or… well, my dad's still a lawyer." She shrugs easily. "My becoming a cop was a little bit a step down for them, but they were very supportive."

"Father," Cat replies, "insisted I focus on pre-law and attend law school afterward, rather than music." Father and Mother, not Dad and Mom, perhaps no surprise to hear her speak that way. "Mother would have preferred I attend school as he did, and have the documents, but not enter any profession other than wife of someone destined for high office, in business or politics. So I obliged, wanting to be the dutiful daughter and have Father be proud of me."

Elisabeth nods slightly, listening to both what's said and how she says it. It gives her insight, a little, into why Cat's as formal as she is. In spite of the clothing, Elisabeth's demeanor hasn't changed much from the one Cat usually sees. When the waiter discreetly stops to take drink orders, she merely orders coffee for now, and then leans on the table with her elbows propped at the edges and her hands clasped beneath her chin. "That's a tough set of expectations," she comments quietly.

"A lot of the girls I went to school with were like that, but my parents both grew up working-class, so they understood. The running joke in the family is that being a cop must be in the genes. My grandfather and two of his brothers were cops in this city, and I have several cousins on the force, though we hardly see or know one another."

She's silent as Elisabeth orders coffee, and does the same, smiling politely at the waiter until he's gone, then her eyes settle on the officer again. "It was a challenge," Cat admits, "for a short time. Then it got really easy to go for two degrees at the same time. Father relented in time, dropped his opposition to my pursuing a career in music, in exchange for attending law school. Meanwhile I also reached age twenty-five, and…" She trails off, letting the table partner finish the thought.

Elisabeth nods slowly. Studying Cat, she looks thoughtful. "What's on your mind?" she finally comes right out to ask. Because clearly something is. "You sounded like you needed to talk through something when you called… it didn't sound like the usual."

A smile forms. Straight to business. "You've read my analyses, haven't you?" Cat asks quietly. "I was wondering your opinion of them." She leans back in her chair and rests eyes calmly on the Scout member across from her, listening.

Now Liz is forced to wait because the coffee is being dropped off. She gestures politely for Cat to go ahead and order, doing the same for herself. Only when the waiter leaves this time does she turn to the topic at hand, and she puts a silence bubble around the table so they can speak freely without being overheard. That little trick Conrad taught her is getting QUITE a great deal of use lately, she's finding. "I have. I'm not sure what you mean by my opinion of them. THey're very thorough."

She orders as well when the time comes, choosing steak and potatoes, with a vegetable side. Cat doesn't seem one afraid to eat, despite not being fat. Once the waiter is gone and the bubble raised, with Elisabeth's answer being given, she nods. "I mean as to their objectivity, and by extension, my objectivity." Her features remain calm, it's clear she's seeking an honest and straightforward opinion on that front.

Elisabeth's order is similar, though she gets chicken instead of beef. Her eyebrows shoot up, and she considers the question carefully. It's difficult to really assess that when the text is not in front of her, but she has a good memory. "I did not get a sense from your entries of any overt biases, I don't think," she answers carefully. "Much of what I remember from the entries seems factual with no opinions really being glaringly obvious. It's not like you wrote under Ethan's heading, 'the son-of-a-bitch can't be trusted'. Why?"

"Because concerns were raised regarding my objectivity, and how I've been acting of late, in particular regarding Eileen Ruskin," Cat states, not choosing to identify the source of the criticism. She adds cream and sugar to her coffee, and stirs it, while eyes remain on the law enforcer and sister in arms across the table. "I'm curious as to your take on that."

Elisabeth ahs quietly. Blowing out a breath, Liz thinks about it all. "I heard that you ran into her, but I didn't hear what happened. So I can't say for sure how your perceptions might be altered, but I can offer some educated guesses. Although I've yet to see you get angry, it's possible — and highly likely with most people, though I don't presume to say you're one of them because I don't know your mindset, Cat — that even if you're managing to subdue or subvert your rage and anguish over Dani's death into your dealings with others."

"Eileen Ruskin would be a prime target for that subverted emotion because although the intellectual part of you knows that it was not her fault, she's a living breathing reminder that you were traded for her and Dani wasn't. It's easy to be mad at her." She pauses, uncertain that's what Cat was looking for.

Her features remain impassive as she listens, and when she speaks following the opinion. "I did," Cat replies, "and she stated criticism of our actions in defense of Mr. Rickham. In fact, objecting that we tried to aid him at all. She refused to speak with me, and said she wouldn't give Teo any more information either. She also claimed to know everything I do, and opined there were a thousand different ways to have proceeded. I was calm in speaking with her, said plainly I have no fight with her, and still she opted to object that we took action, paying no mind to the fact if they succeed she's as dead as we are."

Elisabeth nods slowly. "But what I've read of her situation ….." She pauses again. "Cat… she's a child. She's seen and done a lot of things, but she's still a child for all of it. And she's scared. If I understand the notes correctly, she has been a protected member of Ethan's little group. It's possible she hasn't even seen action. And our actions may, in fact, have caused her to be cast out from the only people who've ever accepted her. That's sheer speculation, but think how you'd feel if you were barely out of high school and on your own like that."

There's silence for a few long moments after Elisabeth speaks, before Cat replies in a quiet voice. "Her background has no bearing in realizing they intend to kill her, along with all of us, the choices are to act or wait and die. I would hope, even out of high school, I would have some basic common sense and realize that. If I did not, and opted to defend persons such as these, would I not still be entirely responsible for what came after?" She sips from her coffee briefly, silent until the cup is set down, and continues in a somber voice.

"After that encounter, in which I restrained myself, the experiment in which photos of four persons were created took place. Agent Parkman was given no more information regarding her than was already present; he does however now possess her image. It was included with the others because the stakes are so high, and she may have badly needed information which she refuses to share, and time may be very critical. We've no idea how much, or how little, we have."

"Was this," Cat asks plainly, "an error?"

Elisabeth smiles faintly, perhaps even sadly. "Without knowing what her background actually is, Cat…. I can only suggest that after working in a high school for two years, I would be very surprised if common sense entered into her mindset. *If*, and I stress that because I have no idea if this is even remotely accurate, *if* these people have been the next best thing to family to her for any length of time, she would believe anything they told her. Including that she herself would be safe from any damage they inflict on the rest of the world."

She bites her lip, her hands toying with the coffee cup. "I believe that HomeSec has the best of intentions to protect this country — I *have* to believe that, even when at the same time I believe they're going about it all wrong. That said…. if you gave them only the information that Eileen is part of that group without giving them any context within which to work, up to and including the fact that she *did* help us thwart the attack on Rickham…. then yes. It was an error in judgement."

"That she gave us the confirmation of Mr. Rickham being targeted was in the files when they were shared with Agent Parkman, Elisabeth," Cat quietly reminds, as she sips from her coffee again. The face remains impassive, she not seeking to include her own emotions in what's being asked of and discussed here.

Elisabeth nods. "But she also volunteered to go back to the group, *and* to continue funneling information to us. In truth, I'm not entirely sure how Phoenix's actions in the midst of all this even came into question. The thwart of Rickham's assassination was done under the auspices of the NYPD. So if they made the leap that Phoenix stopped them instead of the NYPD, it's still a leap on their part."

She shrugs a little. "A correct one, but a leap of logic nonetheless." She considers. "I honestly can't say, Cat…. except to tell you that in my opinion, us turning ANYONE over to HomeSec is something of a breach of our stated goals."

"Eileen is, if she's telling the truth about being ousted from Volken's group, already targeted. She's out there, on her own, with nowhere to turn. And you…. who are already enraged and dealing with grief…. perhaps should stay away from any and all decisions regarding the girl. She played her part just as Dani did… and because we're not the kind of people Ethan is, she's still alive. But I'm not sure in some ways that's a blessing for her." She pauses. "What are you looking for here? A way to determine how to make these kinds of choices, or something else?"

"An independent critique of my behavior and objectivity, from someone who hasn't met Eileen Ruskin," Cat replies. "I would prefer to not have any dealings with Homeland Security beyond the perspective of bosses giving explicit instructions to employees, a thing we don't have sufficient electoral clout to do. Deals with the Devil always return to bite the persons who make them. History shows it."

"Supporting the Soviets against the Nazis. Propping up the Shah of Iran simply because he was anti-communist, which now haunts us in the form of militants who call themselves Islamic. Our choice, however, is stark: enlist their help, or fail and die. This is the exception to the rule about smart being not to deal with Satan. Do you disagree?"

She leaves that question to be mulled over and answered while moving onward. "So it is with Eileen also. The mission to defeat Vanguard must be held more important than her life, the same way as it was more important than Dani's life. Or anyone else's. Were I counseled on whether or not to make the trade, I would say to leave me in their hands. I do not apply harsh criteria to others I don't apply on myself. I knew what I was getting into when I became part of this."

"It was Teo who questioned my objectivity and actions since the death of Dani. Make no mistake: while I recognize the choice had to be as it was, I do and will grieve, this is not an act, and I do feel guilt I can't let go of despite Dani's own wish I let it go. I'm not so cold as to have no such feelings, and my memory's strength makes it all the worse."

Elisabeth reaches across the table to touch Cat's hand briefly, a gesture of sympathy and of friendship. "I have to admit that frankly? I worry more about you being TOO objective — I know that you grieve, but you do it at a level that most of us are not able to comprehend, I think," she says softly. She'll leave her hand there if it's welcome, but if Cat doesn't respond, she'll just as easily bring it back to her own side of the table.

"In terms of your objectivity, I just don't have a good answer for you. I haven't met the girl. I can only go by the information I have — and what I have is that she's a teenaged girl, in thrall to a grup of terrorists. We tortured her. We attempted to make her come around to our point of view. And then we sent her back into the lion's den with no support and no true friends left — Volken's group HAD to assume she'd been compromised, and we are forced to assume that any information she'd deign to give us is false. We didn't do ourselves any favors. So we tossed her to the wolves and we now wonder why she hates our guts?"

She shrugs just a little. "Even if she had the information you think she may possess, would we even believe her if she told us? And would her friends actually let her survive if she DID have it?

"There aren't any easy answers," Cat replies. Her hand doesn't retract from the one extended to touch it, she in fact moves the hand into that contact. "Only hard choices. To kill, or be killed, among them. We have a small army to undo, their plan to block, with only the department of Homeland Satan as allies up to the task. We know some things, but we don't know their base of operations, we only have photos on four persons connected to it, we don't even have surnames or addresses for any of those. If I had my way, the US Navy would be on the job, using satellites to find Volken's two ships and put them on the ocean floor. What role they play, I don't know. Taking them out seems prudent in any case."

"Lawyers, judges, and doctors recuse themselves when personal involvement with operational matters arise, such as mine with the whole affair of the Vanguard. I understand that. But recusal isn't an option. No one else steps up to comment on information as I do, to compose and offer analyses which can be counter analysed. There need to be others doing what I do."

A moment of silence comes, part of her taking and releasing a slow breath.

"There are questions of Teo himself. He said to me not long ago he intends to depart the leadership place he holds. He asked me not to speak of it with Helena, and would not relent despite my asking him to reconsider. He would not accept that he needs give me no apology, should feel no guilt, for Dani's murder. Vanguard alone is responsible. He desired me to have my eyes open for people who can fill that spot. I now have to wonder if he's capable of making the hard choices when they come, and partly agree with him on stepping aside."

Which leads Cat to the underlying question, now being asked. "Who do we recommend and build up to Stormy for that spot?"

Elisabeth squeezes Cat's hand when she moves it. And she listens carefully, nodding in appropriate places. "Recusal for you is NOT an option. And I cannot claim to have the kind of insight that you possess, but… if you need me to review your data and analyses, I can certainly try so as to act as a balancing agent. At least, unless or until we find someone with brainpower enough to match you."

She's not sure if that's something Cat was asking of her, but hey… she's a bright woman, she can volunteer herself in some capacities. "I've already been working security detail with Conrad, so… " She shrugs. Holding Cat's hand tightly, she squeezes one last time before she lets go, listening to the information about Teo with no appearance of surprise. He's looked so tired recently.

The food arrives, and Elisabeth is forced to drop the bubble so that it can be set on the table. She smiles politely, telling the waiter that they don't need additional services. When he departs, she slams the bubble back into place and makes sure they can't be heard again. "Cat…." She heaves a sigh, ignoring her food as she tries to choose her words carefully. "You're all so *DAMN* young," she says quietly. "I think the entire group could use older operatives in some advisory positions."

"I don't claim to have the experience myself, but … especially if we're going to hit HomeSec facilities, we need people who understand tactics, soldiering. Not just from an armchair perspective, but from a reality perspective. We need ex-military people who share our views. And we don't have time to go recruiting."

"Helena needs…. lieutenants she trusts that she can bounce ideas and thoughts off of. Teo is one of those, but … he doubts himself because he's young and he's made some bad choices." She nibbles her lip. "He is capable of making tough choices… allowing Eileen to be tortured qualifies as a tough choice. The problem is, if you make a call like that, you have to be dead sure you're RIGHT when you do it. And he isn't. Hell… none of us are."

Liz pushes a hand through her hair. "You know what. Lemme have a conversation with Conrad before we go any further with this line of thought. Because ultimately? You're right. We're fighting a war, and the only allies we have are sort of in the 'enemy of my enemy' category. He may have some thoughts, we may be able to work out some way to help Teo out."

Her food is picked at as it arrives, Cat too politely smiling for the waiter and stating a need for no services, otherwise silent until he's gone. "We have Claude among us. He has the sort of experiences we need, he worked with the Company which now tandems with Homeland Satan for a time. I hope to speak with him as much as I can, hear and see as much from him as I can."

"I also wanted to meet with Mr. Bennet, I've not heard anything on that front. I see myself as the best person to speak with them, because nothing's forgotten, and I can then pass it on to others exactly as given. We also have Doctor Ray and the plans he's formulating. Given his knowledge of science and his Evolved view of probability, he can help us best use our resources and succeed here, but probability isn't certainty. He also won't show me his plans, or share any of his thought processes. The man knows my father, and is as cold as him too. He claims Father is also a viewer of probability. Which explains," Cat states, "quite a few things."

"Debater being on board will help also, she's good with info and loves to, well, debate. Thus the label. I remember and collate data, I organize and analyze, but there needs to be more opinions offered. It shouldn't have taken nearly as long as it did to realize Mr. Rickham would be targeted, we could have had a plan in discussion days before action time. It was as obvious as daylight that a group seeking to cause chaos and work genocide would take a shot at him when he came to the city. We didn't need Eileen Ruskin to know that."

Nodding slowly, Elisabeth comments, "You've just given me far more information about Phoenix than I've had at any other point in my association with them. I'm not sure if it's by design or just because I don't hang around — I have to keep up the real job's pretenses, after all — but all right. It sounds like we have a good mix of experience and idealism. But you're right…. sheer common sense should have told someone in this group that Rickham would be targeted."

"If you want the God's honest truth on this, I wondered why I didn't hear anything sooner. *I* was expecting it, the PD was expecting it. It sort of shocked me to realize that Phoenix wasn't. The PD was putting plans in motion days ahead of time to sweep the areas he was supposed to be in. For all the good it did us," she grimaces.

"The snapshot that you've just given me, though, is of an organization whose members and allies are keeping too many secrets. In a situation like Phoenix's, we require almost complete transparency between the upper echelon members and the info dumps. So…. Teo, Helena, Conrad, whoever else she considers a lieutenant in her hierarchy — these people should know EVERYTHING there is to know about the organization, what each member is involved in, who's doing what and where and when, and should be prepared to step up if the worst-case scenario happens. If Helena's taken out, who's in charge? In addition, you and anyone else acting as a compiler and analyzer of information should also be in the loop. But what you've just said is that we have a serious lack of transparency."

"I was surprised," Cat replies quietly, "when I wrote an analysis of the Volken Group and what their goals were, leaving what their next move would be as questions people could answer. Would answer. But no one did, until some of the Ferrywomen did on that Friday. I'd gotten there when I asked those questions, I felt it best to let others figure it out too, reach that end on their own. That was an error. And yes, we need redundancies. That's why the Catabase exists. It can't all be in my head."

"But…" Cat pauses, "Stormy is the leader. I will not always agree with her. But when I do, she alone will know of that disagreement. With my education and my money, I could overshadow things easily, and I won't do that."

Elisabeth nods mildly. "That's always a prudent course of action anyway. In any hierarchy, when you disagree with the person at the top, you do so behind closed doors. A united front is paramount. Anything else would fracture the entire structure." She tilts her head. "Yeah…. I think I need to talk to Conrad. And I'll pay closer attention to the analyses, but when you stick something in there you particularly want feedback on, drop me a personal text and I'll make a point of it, okay? I'll try to help be your redundancy."

"Thank you," Cat replies. "No time would be good for infighting, and this is among the worst. Our task is to work out the best ways to support leadership with intel and ideas, so decisions get made soundly. Education isn't needed to make decisions, the most critical thing is an ability to listen and sort truth from falsity. No President knows everything his advisors know. He can't. What he must have is the ability to command obedience and smell bullshit from the people he hires to advise and assist."

"Helena has that, and I stick behind her."

Elisabeth smiles at Cat. "Helena does have that. I don't know about Teo, but I know Con's a real good bullshit detector." She smirks and rolls her eyes, finally picking up her fork to start nibbling a little at her lunch. "So tell me something…. how do you see this situation with Rickham evolving? Since we're mostly off the grid at this point, in terms of what that Edward guy has said the future originally held…"

"I think," Cat replies, lifting a fork and the knife to cut her steak, "the worst threat is past. Doctor Ray said his information from the future was that Mr. Rickham was outed by the attempt on his life, Inauguration Day passed with no new President, and Kazimir Volken stepped into the vacuum created by that and the chaos caused by release of his virus."

"Mr. Rickham was outed, but only to us, Wireless was quick on the trigger and prevented footage from getting out, so I believe there'll be an oath taken at noon on the 20th. His Presidency may be rocky, there's an uphill battle to fight politically, but he hasn't been made a lame duck before he can even begin."

Elisabeth nods to her, thoughtful. "Amazing how one event can change everything," she comments softly as she eats.

"Now we need the second event," Cat replies as she takes a bit of meat on the fork and holds it poised for consumption, "the defeat and destruction of Kazimir Volken's plans." Her eyes close, she still holds the fork in mid-air. "Sorry you can't see it, Dani. But by them taking us, and murdering you, it shone the spotlight, brought attention on them. That's the one event that changes everything." Silence holds for a few beats, then she takes that fork into her mouth and begins to chew carefully.

Elisabeth smiles just a little, a sad smile. "You know… I think when we sign on, we all know the risks. We maybe don't always UNDERSTAND them, but we know they exist. And I think…. I didn't know her, but I think she'd be glad that what she suffered was not in vain. That it meant something, changed something."

She will never tell Cat of her own guilt over the fact that she could not bring the negotiation to any kind of more successful conclusion for Dani. She had to learn long ago that some hostage situations just have no happy ending.

They're eating; for her part Cat elects not to share that she was asked to call Helena about the trade, and refused believing they'd both be killed anyway and they shouldn't be traded for, the result being a thumb amputation. It had occurred to her before, but there's this restaurant, and the food coming. There may be a place and time, but this is not it. She keeps her silence even when her mouth is empty for some moments. Thoughts run through her mind, so many memories that play out at the slightest trigger, and that happens here while she's not speaking.

But the silence is broken just the same, Cat manages a smile. "I do know how to pick the good places, don't I, Megaphone? This food is beyond words."

Elisabeth eats quietly, uncertain exactly what she said that might have caused a problem but sensitive enough to realize something's up. When Cat speaks again, Elisabeth blinks and stares at her, starting to laugh. "Hey… now Con's the megaphone. I'm much more subtle!"

She grins a bit. "I thought about Bullhorn," Cat states, "but, you know, wrong gender. Tell me what works." The fork lowers and snags a bit more steak, which is placed into her mouth and chewed.

Elisabeth giggles softly. "Well, crap… do I need a codename or something? No one told me that was a requirement!"

Elisabeth chuckles at the other woman. "Well… for heaven's sake, come up with something halfway complimentary or something."

"You can do it," Cat states with confidence between bites, her next being of the potato and vegetable side, "pick one."
Elisabeth rolls her eyes. "I feel stupid," she confesses as she eats. "I mean… heck, I never thought I'd need a moniker." She has to think about it. "Sheesh, I feel like I'm living in a comic book."

"It's not anything I ever expected," Cat agrees, "when I came to this city. I thought I'd find a place to play, build a name for myself, and get into anti-registration activism, maybe start my own operation. But things took a different shape. Now I'm one of the lead characters in a spy novel like the Odessa File. Nazis who didn't get hanged at Nuremberg becoming a problem again."

Elisabeth shakes her head and says quietly, "I think I was almost ready to go back to the police force when the school happened. It kind of kicked me into high gear. I always wanted to be a cop, I always wanted to serve. But…." She pauses. "The idea that civil disobedience starts with cops is just… odd." She grins a little. "Or perhaps not. We who have to uphold the laws are in a good place to tell you if they make any damn sense at all."

"It's unusual for someone with the police to be this conservative regarding police power and limiting it." Cat's words come again between bites. "Usually they're the kind who want to trample the Constitution in the name of protecting the public, and it's an easy thing to lose sight of. When dealing with someone who's been raped, robbed, or worse and having to respect the rights of whoever looks most likely as the offender, that has to be hard. What gets lost is if those rules are ignored, nothing restrains the police. They become the Gestapo."

Elisabeth nods slowly. "As far as I'm concerned, Cat, police are public servants. My parents have been real estate lawyers for most of my life, but my dad spent some time as a civil rights activist before I was born. He raised me with a very real sense of the idea that EVERYONE has rights, and just because they committed a crime, they do not automatically lose their rights to a fair trial, due process, and defense counsel. It's hard…. yeah."

"When I was on the streets, and I picked up a rapist or a guy dealing drugs to kids…. sure, I wanted to kick his ass. As a hostage negotiator, I saw some truly awful things." She grimaces, remembering for a moment her first case. "And as an Evolved-crimes cop…. I'm seeing a lot of crap already. Worse yet, I take a lot of crap for BEING Evolved. You think that thin blue line keeps the hazing INSIDE the boundaries in check? Think again."

She pauses. "But the bottom line, to me, is getting criminals off the streets so they can't hurt innocents… and doing it within the constraints that I'm supposed to operate under so they don't get off on a technicality."

"The thing to remember when you run up against that frustration isn't that you're respecting the offender's rights, you're protecting everyone's, including the victim of the crime at hand. It's either the rule, or it isn't." Cat chuckles. "Most wouldn't call it a conservative view, advocating police restraint, but in the pure sense of the word, it is. That government is best which governs least. Thank you, for doing that."

Elisabeth shrugs a bit and smiles. "If I do the job wrong, criminals go free, Cat. It's that simple. I *try* to follow the rules whenever I can…. though I admit that I'm still arguing with my current captain about the fact that I'm not just going to ask everyone I meet for Registration cards."

She's quiet there, calling the law up in her head to view before speaking, because she totally can do that. "You're not responsible for that anyway," Cat states. "That's a Federal law. Asking or expecting you to check cards and enforce it is like asking you to visit someone's home and audit a tax return."

Elisabeth shrugs easily. "So far as I've been told, Commissioner Lau states that it's supposed to be done. But I'll point out to my captain that you've said it's a Federal law and not within our purview unless the power's being used for something non-beneficial." She grins.

"You don't ask someone you meet who can't speak English well to show you a green card or a passport, something proving they're here legally, do you," Cat asks, "simply because that person's English is bad?"

"That was exactly my point!" Elisabeth smirks.

"City police don't enforce immigration issues, which are Federal." Cat's fork goes into her mouth again, reducing her remaining meal by that small fraction.

Elisabeth smiles slightly. "yes well… tell the commissioner that, and make sure it gets down the pipe, will you?"

"If they try to bring action against you over it, I'll represent you for free," Cat states with a chuckle. "By the same token, how loud and long do you think Parkman would laugh at his own boss if he were expected to chase down speeders and enforce traffic code?"

Elisabeth snickers. "Now there's an interesting thought," she comments mildly as she eats. "I'll bring it up with the captain. We'll see what he does."

Her fingers tap on the table a few times while she chews another bite, the expression to her face indicating thought. When she can politely speak, Cat has a bit of mischief in her eyes. "But on the other hand, maybe you could do exactly what he asks, and then some."

Elisabeth looks curious about what Cat means.

"I'm sure," Cat explains, "our friends at Homeland Satan would just love to process lots of registrations for people not under the law."

Elisabeth looks wickedly amused. "Oh, Cat….. now there's a way to bedevil HomeSec when we get back on that particular job. For now…. probably not the way we want to go," she laughs softly.

"Exactly," she answers. "You can't actually register anyone yourself, I imagine, all you can do is take them to Homeland Satan, hold them until Homeland Satan shows up, or report their information. So if you do what your Captain wants zealously…"

Elisabeth giggles outright. "I love it. Thanks for the idea."

She lifts her glass, and comments "He should take care what he wishes for. Sometimes one asks, and one receives."

Shaking her head, Elisabeth lifts her coffee cup in a salute. "I like the way you think, lady." And then she sips from the coffee and settles in to finish her meal on a much lighter note with Cat.

January 4th: More News is Bad News
January 4th: Get Used to Disappointment
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