What Is Your Angle?


cat_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title What Is Your Angle?
Synopsis Cat clues Magnes in. Partly.
Date August 27, 2009

The Rock Cellar

A comfortable place, located in the basement of 14 East 4th Street. The red brick walls are covered with memorabilia from various icons of rock and places in rock history, creating a feel similar to that of a Hard Rock Cafe.

The left wall has two bars separated by swinging doors which lead to and from the kitchen. Directly across from the entrance is a two foot high stage with all the equipment needed for acts to perform there. The right wall has three doors marked as restrooms: two for use by women and one by men.

Thirty square feet of open space for dancing and standing room is kept between the stage and the comfortable seating placed around tables which fill the remainder of the Cellar.

The lighting here is often kept dim for purposes of ambience, and when performers are onstage the place is loud enough to make conversation difficult. Just inside the door is a podium where location staff check IDs and stamp the hands of those under twenty-one with a substance visible under UV lights at the two bars and by devices the servers carry. On the podium's front is a sign with big black letters that just about explain it all: If You Don't Like Rock 'N' Roll, You're Too Late Now!

At the noon hour, the Rock Cellar is largely unoccupied, as is customary for the place. The door is unlocked, people can come in off the street, though few do at that hour. Inside a few servers are already at work, along with one bartender and a cook in the kitchen. The manager is in her office. These persons are occupied with preparing for the evening's business. The stage is dark, there's no one at the podium where IDs are checked at busier times.

At that moment in time, Cat is in her penthouse reviewing footage from the cameras she recently placed in her windows to capture a wider view of the street than the ones exterior to the building do, she being intent on capturing images of anyone scoping the place out as Peter claimed he witnessed.

Magnes is in the Rock Cellar today, not for drinks or entertainment, but for possibly finding Else by pure chance. He didn't expect to find her just hanging around, but it was worth a shot. He looks around a few times, wanting to see if anyone's watching, then jumps on to the stage as if looking for something. "I wonder if they have instruments…"

No one seems to be watching just then. There are instruments and an amp or two within sight once he takes the stage. An electric guitar, a Les Paul, is one of them. One of the servers spots him and starts to move that way, seeking to encourage him from the stage, but before she can call his attention, perhaps not even alerting Magnes he's been spotted, she turns her head in the direction of the interior and nods then goes about her work and pays him no further mind. Someone emerging from there has given the server a signal which said 'I've got this'.

And being occupied on stage with the instruments he finds, Magnes may or may not notice the woman who called herself Michelle Parks walking out toward the table area and toward a specific one in the shadows. If she's lucky, she can maybe pull this off and have him think she came in from the street.

Once at her table Cat sits and the server brings her a pint of stout. No move is made to approach Magnes at all. She simply watches and waits for him to sight her.

Magnes finds himself stopping at a piano, looking around briefly, not quite spotting Cat yet. He starts to slowly tap the keys, beginning to play the Moonlight Sonata. He seems to be into it for a few minutes, slowly swaying his head from side to side with his eyes shut, clothes beginning to sway when his gravity decreases.

It takes him a moment to remember where he is, abruptly stopping and eyeing Cat the second they're open again. "Michelle?"

She lifts the pint to her mouth and drinks from it while watching the man play piano, listening and assessing his skill at the eighty-eights, a slight smile forming. When his eyes reopen and he spots her, she doesn't quite hear what he says, there being some distance between where she sat and the stage. But she does definitely notice the end to his playing and the settling of eyes upon her. Her head tilts and she lifts a hand, one finger on it curling back to herself a few times in a fairly universally recognized signaling gesture.

In his Batman t-shirt, blue jeans and black sneakers, he crouches down and jumps from the keyboard, doing a few flips and skating poses in the air before landing next to Cat's table. "Hey, what're you doing here?" Magnes asks, looking around the empty bar. "I was looking for Else, but I figure a star like her probably doesn't just hang around. I hope they don't get angry that I played an instrument, I don't own one."

"I'm just relaxing, Magnes," Cat replies with a slight smile, lifting her pint again. "I doubt they mind you played the piano a bit, since you've got some skills with it. But it might've been a good idea to ask first." A wider grin is shown to the man then, just before she drinks.

When the glass comes down and rests on the table, speaking resumes. "Else is a fairly private person," she informs him calmly, "I don't recommend trying to speak with her. Her songs are intense and haunting, yes? They draw the attention of some interesting people." Here, she takes a pause while studying his face; the reactions and impressions.

"I'm told you met with some interesting people at the Surly Wench recently."

"I need to apologize for the other night, so I have to find her eventually." Magnes adds, quite set on it. Then she mentions the Surly Wench and his eyes widen a bit, sitting across from her at the table. "How do you know about that? Who are you?" His foot lightly bumps into her, which may or may not be an accident. If she knows how his ability works, it may be a sign that he's considering using it somehow, depending on her answer.

"My name is Cat," she tells him simply, "and you can put the anti-gravity away, Magnes. If either of us lift off from where we are right now, you'll learn absolutely nothing." Her voice is quiet, she speaks no louder than it takes to be heard easily at the table, and her demeanor is poised. She moves slightly, to be out of contact with his foot just in case. "I know a number of people, and I know a lot of things. I'm just very cautious about who I share things with." Ostensibly, since she's chosen to tell him this, there are things which may be shared with him soon. If he behaves and doesn't make her gravitate toward the ceiling. Or the wall.

"So you lied? I guess I've lied and made aliases before, I've been doing that a lot lately…" Magnes leans forward, taking a good look at her as if she's some foreign creature at the zoo. "So, are you super important? Like Morpheus or something? I mean, you've been following me around like a cat in a story that's actually the god of the universe but it plays itself off as being an unimportant character. Oh, hey, and your name is Cat, this is totally an analogy… and you're really a geek then? I knew it." Of course, after all that, he sighs and says, "Sorry, I'm rambling."

Her answer begins with a chuckle. "I'm a lot of things, Magnes," Cat informs him, "but I wouldn't call myself geek." It's a label the panmnesiac won't admit to. Ever. "I'm a rocker chick, a political scientist, and an attorney. Among other things. I've not been following you around. When we met it was by chance, but I won't deny it was very interesting."

"You're probably wondering if I've an ability like yours," she muses, lifting the glass again. "Would you like something to drink?"

"No one ever tells me their ability, so I wasn't holding my breath." Alright, a few people may have told Magnes, but he's convinced that most won't. At the offer of a drink, he nods. "I'll take a drink, non-alcoholic. Um, I'm guessing you saw the President thing yesterday. You think what I did was stupid? I'm sure everyone does."

"I'll never forget that press conference," Cat replies cryptically. "I won't say what you did was stupid. It was unsubtle, certainly, but at times unsubtlety is needed. Drawing public attention to Humanis First is such a thing. But in dealing with that organization, subtlety is also very necessary." She pauses to phrase her words carefully before continuing.

"What we know about them; who they are, where they operate, all such details, calls for subtlety. They claim to be our our sons, our daughters, our policemen, and our saviors. I don't doubt they have members in all professions, in countless positions of trust and authority. So to share details without caution only lets them know what we know. The only way they can be handled is by discovering mounds of evidence, compiling proof that can't be refuted, and moving only when it's certain charges against their members will stick in court. Everyone deserves a fair trial, Magnes, even them. If we don't stick to that principle, we aren't America anymore."

Magnes frowns, hunching down on the table as she speaks. "So, I screwed up again." he determines, not happy at all about his conclusion. "Sorry, I just did what I thought was necessary, no one was asking the question. I guess that's the third time I was on TV, there's no way I'll be private now, is there? I screwed up, Claire's gonna be pissed…"

"Did I say you screwed up, Magnes?" Cat asks calmly. "I said showing your wounds, drawing the President's attention to them and the media, wasn't a bad thing. It said you've been in contact with them, you survived, and aren't afraid to stand up and be counted as opposed to them and all they do. Challenging leaders in public is good and necessary."

"What I mean by subtlety also being needed is not giving away specifics about who they are. Like, say, having pictures and personal information on some of their members. We wouldn't want them to find out how much we've learned and who we've shared it with, would we?"

"Oh, I think I get it." Magnes sits up, smiling warmly when she corrects his assumptions. "I guess I'm just used to getting a lecture on what I'm doing wrong. Tracy is gonna be pissed…"

"Tracy Strauss?" Cat asks, an eyebrow lifting. She raises a hand to indicate he hold off answering her as she catches the attention of that server and the table is approached. "Get my friend a Pepsi, please," she asks. Magnes is looked at questioningly as she speaks to confirm he'd like that particular beverage, and she remains silent.

"Yeah, I asked Tracy to take me with her, that's why I was sitting on the stage. She told me to behave, and, well…" Magnes shrugs and sighs again, slumping a bit. "So many people to please, it's really hard because I don't have a boss or anything, hell, I am someone's boss."

With Magnes not having indicated an objection to Pepsi, the server departs before Magnes speaks again, she thus hears nothing of their conversation. Only after she's clear of earshot does Cat speak. "She has her agenda, you understand. She works for the President, and her job is to make him look good. Her job is not necessarily what's good for the country. Or anyone at all. Their purpose was to sell the public on Frontline." By her expression, she seems not so much a fan of that organization.

"I met Tracy Strauss once. I tried to tell her some things she'd find interesting," Cat muses, "but she lacked the common sense to pay attention. She demanded to know my name, I wouldn't tell her." Cat scoffs quietly. "As if I were going to tell her what I'd seen and have her be able to send people to throw me into some deep, dark hole just for knowing it."

Another pause, before Cat shares a bit of data. "That Pinehearst place the reporter asked about, her name was in one of the files there."

"I visit Tracy's place a lot, maybe you could tell her things through me? But I know how Tracy is, she'll want names and sources and stuff, or else she won't listen." Magnes watches the server as she leaves, then turns his attention back to Cat. "Why would Tracy's name be on a file? And someone told me they're the people who made Refrain, and they're probably connected with the Triad, since that's who I keep hearing rumors about distributing it."

"Miss Wozniak, she's a friend," Cat relates, "told me Refrain was talked about. I don't think they were connected to the Triads, no, I believe someone got Refrain from Pinehearst and started selling it through the Triad. The Flying Dragons, in particular. Pinehearst," she goes on to explain, "was working to develop a serum which would install extrahuman abilities in people who don't already have them, just like that reported called Rose Weston asked about. And the plan was to beef up Frontline's numbers with it. To flesh out their Evolved Gestapo. General Autumn was in on it, also like the reported claimed. There is, however, no proof."

"As to Tracy being on a list, the why isn't completely clear. At one point in the past, the formula Pinehearst tried to make existed and worked. It was given to several infants as children. The creators of that serum later had a change of heart, realizing it was too dangerous, and destroyed all supplies of it. There was a lab fire which killed a number of people who worked with the serum. Their children were taken in by other members of the organization and raised as their own. The list I mentioned could be of those children, of children who were give the serum, or both. Some of the names on it are people I know have abilities."

"I believe she said Adam Monroe, that's who got Refrain from Pinehearst." Magnes reaches into his pocket for his iPhone, checking a few things as she speaks. "Maybe Tracy is Evolved, and if she is, maybe I can find a way to get her to show it? I seem to remember things about ability training, not sure why exactly. And what do you think would happen if members of Humanis First were given the serum? Do you think they'd suddenly start killing themselves or something?"

"That's what we're told," Cat replies. "Adam Monroe." She nods, and moves back to Tracy. "I can't prove she is, she certainly didn't admit any such thing when we talked, even claimed to have been tested. That doesn't mean it's true. There's more about Tracy. Another woman, who looks exactly like her, was also on that list. The lookalike has an ability."

Then she muses about Humanis First people being given the serum. "I think what that would bring is a Samantha Tanner situation, Magnes. She manifested an ability and acted in such a way as to bring more fear of us, by using it to kill fourteen people at Columbia University. I can't say if she intended to die there too. But it's possible."

"I see… alright." Magnes puts his iPhone away, then just crosses his hands on the table, silent for a few moments. "So, Tracy has someone who looks exactly like her?" Suddenly, something may or may not make sense. "Does she have super strength? The lookalike, I mean. I thought I was just seeing things from stress, that's what Tracy said…"

"Yes," Cat confirms, "and that's what she's got. Super strength. I wouldn't recommend trying to tell her this, she may not believe you, or if she does believe seek to act against you for knowing it. It's also possible she already knows and only acts like she doesn't if it's mentioned. The whole thing with Pinehearst, you see, went as high as General Autumn and I can't be sure if it goes higher or not. I… I just recommend keeping your eyes open, considering what angles people may have when they tell you things. Taking steps to verify things you're told without drawing attention on yourself doing it. People in positions like hers usually have agendas and ambitions. People with information often have agendas too. You should always wonder what someone's angle is."

She smiles, her hand lifting the glass again. "You should be asking yourself what my angle is, especially since I lied to you and gave that false name before."

"I'll remember that, I'll consider it an advanced piece of advice while I'm studying investigation." Magnes gives her a look, eyes on her lips, then her eyes. He does seem to check her out a lot, though it's likely more noticable to her than a normal woman. "So, what is your angle? You trying to recruit me to some organization, or am I about to be some sort of pawn in a grand scheme?"

"My angle is simple. To learn as much as I can about things found of interest and possibly act on them. I don't trust the current Federal authorities, I have curiosities about how much Tracy Strauss does and doesn't know. I have curiosities on how trustworthy she'd be if she came to believe certain things. Questions about whether her loyalty is to the people of this country, the President, or simply herself. About which she'd choose if she had to make a choice."

"I don't believe in registration. To me, it's a mark which can be used to exterminate us. And it's insulting to the extreme. The only other people we require to register like that are sex offenders, and even then only after they've been convicted of their crimes. It assumes we're all criminals, and the classifications are too open to what some desk jockey thinks they should be. There's too much risk of being disappeared just because someone thinks we're dangerous. Or of having our names turned over to HF because the registrar hates our very existence."

"I want to not be exterminated. To not see my friends kidnapped, tortured, killed simply for existing. I want to see America be what it's supposed to be. Land of the free, hope of the world. That's being undermined step by step. Maybe you see it happening around you, maybe you don't."

"I want," she concludes quietly, "to someday lay all this aside and be a rock star."

"I registered because it was required to be an officer, and I'm an officer because it'll give me valuable skills, experience, and resources for what we're doing. I lied a bit on my registration anyway, they only think I can manipulate gravity for myself, and fly." Magnes stares down at the table, looking almost guilty as she speaks, shaking his head. "I've never known what I've wanted to be. I'm doing online classes for investigation, and minoring in physics. A girl invited me to be in a band. I could have maybe been a skater, stayed a delivery boy and possibly become a cook, go somewhere with my costume making with Delilah, or, I don't know, maybe even take this police thing far. But I guess I'm the opposite of you, I don't think I'll ever really be able to pursue any dreams."

He slides a comforting hand over, not wanting to drag her down with his beliefs. "If there's anything I learned about war from history books, we're fighting for our children. We're possibly on the brink of the end, the world is going to hell, we still have China to deal with and their massive draft. This is the end of the world, Cat, not just America. If we have children and somehow manage to fix what's happening by the time we're fifty? Well, that's probably our best case scenario."

"I didn't say it would be easy," Cat remarks, "or quick. I want to pursue my dreams. That doesn't mean I don't understand strong chances are it won't happen. It just means I don't give up hope. That I believe in time opinions about us will change, just like they have for every other minority. Just ninety years ago I wouldn't have been considered an equal citizen of this country because I'm not a man. Much more recently than that, minorities fought for their rights as citizens and to escape segregation. Freedom always wins. And it wins not because someone manipulated some grand plot, but because people stood up, put their lives on the line, spread the ideas, and refused to give up hope. History shows it happening, and it'll happen again. Remember Thomas Jefferson's bit about the tree of liberty."

"Since yesterday I've been thinking about discussions like the one we're having right now, since I learned what Gillian makes me do. And sometimes I wonder if things will get so hard that me and Gillian just decide to get all Cable on the world…" Magnes, making his comic reference, doesn't elaborate much on it, but he seems rather worried about his thought as he leans his elbow on the table, cheek resting on his hand. "Whatever your ability is, do you think there could ever be a day when you're tempted to use it to just somehow skip all the difficulty and just end the war in the easiest way possible?"

She just smiles, takes a drink of her stout, and sets the pint down. Then Cat speaks. "I'm a rocker chick, a political scientist, and an attorney among other things. What do you think my ability is?" Her head tilts, she's curious what his answer might be, and she takes another drink.

"Um… I'm thinking you're either a highly advanced telepath, a case in which my defense is 'These are normal male thoughts', or maybe you've got some sort of advanced photographic reflexes that also makes you smarter? You just seem smart, maybe it's the geek face thing…" Magnes makes a few guesses, apparently knowing all sorts of potential abilities due to heavy comic reading, and briefly looking around for the server. "What's a political scientist do?"

She doesn't answer right away, staying silent for the moment, because the server's on her way carrying that cola for Magnes. She sets it on the table, then asks "Is there anything else I could get you, sir?"

"I'm good, ma'am. Thanks." Magnes lifts his cola, raising it in thanks, then starts sipping at the straw, watching Cat for her answer.

"Political science is just that," Cat explains once the server is gone. "The science of politics. How the decisions are made, what tends to work and what doesn't. The mechanics of different forms of government too." After a pause, she shares "I've got a bachelor's degree in music too." So here she is, maybe twenty-six or seven, with two bachelors degrees and one doctorate. "I'm not a telepath," she tells the man, "and I wouldn't say photographic reflexes. I just remember what I perceive."

"The Flashes before Impulse could read an entire book, but they couldn't rememeber and fully comprehend what they read. Can you fully comprehend and remember everything you read?" Magnes asks, possibly going somewhere with his line of questioning, giving her a very intrigued wide-eyed look. "What I do isn't anything special, all I can do is fight and fly."

"Not completely," Cat relates. "If I read a book in a language I don't know, I'd remember what was in the book but I wouldn't understand it."

"So…" Magnes, sipping his soda and staring at her intently, wraps a hand around his drink and stares down into it. What is so interesting about those drinks? "What do you want me to do?"

"I'd like you to not let on that you know me at the society thing tomorrow, for starters," Cat replies. "I'd like you to not connect me to anything I said about Tracy if you mention it to her. I'd suggest, if you talk about Pinehearst at all, you start with what the reporter was asking about and see for yourself where her head seems to be. Will it make her seem nervous, will she dismiss it out of hand, and so on. To keep your eyes open like I recommended before and remember what I've said about subtlety. The value of not showing your hand until it works for maximum advantage."

"I'd also like to compare notes with you from time to time. Information is power. I've got a lot of it, over time and when you need I can let you in on things."

"That all works for me. I trust you, you're like Oracle, except you've never been Batgirl. Though I'm wondering, what organization are you with?" Magnes is almost to the end of his soda, staring down into the glass as he sips. "And is there anything you've been wondering about me or anything I've seen? Depending on who you're with, I might be more open to answering questions. I've noticed that a lot of trustworthy people seem to be around this building…"

"It's called Phoenix," Cat provides. "I don't have questions for you right now, though. You told me a good bit about things you've seen the first time we talked, the people you know. And I know you're with the police, you used to deliver pizza, you're a friend of Delilah and Gillian, your girlfriend is Claire, you like to float in the air at rock concerts…" She trails off, flashing a grin to indicate she's teasing. Maybe.

"Ah…" Magnes suddenly raises a hand to cover the few hickies on his neck she's likely already noticed once Claire is mentioned, cheeks flushing. "I think I can trust Phoenix, Helena is in it, and she seems to be close friends with Claire, and I definitely trust Claire. I, well, I lost my memories recently. Well, I didn't lose them, they were altered. I was in some sort of secret government organization, I think. But something in me tells me that I made the choice for some sort of selective wipe, and I wrote this for myself, it's my handwriting."

He reaches into his pocket, then offers the note that he apparently carries around with him. It reads:

You did it for Claire, don't screw it up.

"You can hold on to that, I imagine you'll take better care of it than me."

The note is eyed, and in taking it Cat is reminded of a certain hamburger wrapper she keeps stashed away despite not needing it, being able to visualize it and the message written there. Her eyes take on a bit of distance, there's a trace of grief and guilt coming into them. She starts to drift down the path of memories, but shakes it off before indulging longer than a few seconds. This woman has seen some harrowing things, it seems. Suffered some losses.

"Thank you, Magnes." The note goes into her pocket. "Helena's a remarkable person," she comments. "Stronger of spirit than she should ever have to be. See you soon, Magnes."

"Thank you for being honest, I finally don't feel so blind since meeting you and Helena. And I've learned a lot today, I'll take it to heart." Magnes stands, left hand still bashfully covering his neck as he offers the other for a friendly shake. "Oh, and you should know, me and Gillian are gonna start practicing soon, over the water. So, if you start hearing strange things about the Hudson or some other large body of water, you know why."

Her right hand is extended, Cat shakes once and releases. The skin is soft and warm, smooth. But the fingertips have calluses which perhaps come from playing guitar. "I'll be watching for the stories," she replies with a chuckle.

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