Where I Was


alia_icon.gif cat_icon.gif

Scene Title Where I Was
Synopsis Alia's back, with a story to tell.
Date February 15, 2011

ACB Basement: Phoenix HQ

This is a finished basement with pale blue carpet except in the utility rooms where floors are easy to clean grey stone. Walls are painted a soft cream color. It's been soundproofed to keep noise from reaching the Alley Cat Couriers franchise above, and measures were taken to prevent water from leaking in.

Much of the HQ is common area with recliners and couches before a large HD set, but there are business areas. One portion has state of the art computer systems (both PC and Mac), equipment to handle footage from various camera and surveillance systems, and a large executive desk. Another zone is set aside for various armaments and protective gear. Weapons, hazmat suits with portable oxygen bottles, body armor, comm gear, disposable phones. Then there's the conference room with a large table and sixteen seats. An exercise area with the basics is also provided.

Scattered around the periphery, where space isn't already taken, are a number of rooms with beds for members to use when in need. A sizable closet is stacked floor to ceiling with cots which can be used if a sudden need to shelter numerous people arises.

Access to and exit from this HQ is by the stairs and large open freight elevator which leads to the ACB manager's office and a tunnel system which leads to Harlem.

It's a bit of a journey, coming here by means of the underground tunnel Alec created from the refuge to Harlem and back some extended time ago, care taken for security measures in place along the way, but the haven is reached in due course. The steel door at travel's end is opened, and she ushers Alia into the place, having gone out to meet her at the tunnel entrance and provide escort. Silence has been her state for the most part while in transit.

"Not many people know about this place," Cat states as she waits for the technopath to join her in the Phoenix headquarters, "and it needs to stay that way." The door will remain open until Alia's inside, then be securely closed. "Congratulations on your escape."

For her part, it's been a long journey, on foot. Alia has no wallet… she's wearing a very oversized Meatloaf (Bat out of Hell) t-shirt, sweatpants with the cuffs turned up twice, also very oversized, with the draw string pulled in very much, and some simple tennis shoes… to complete the ridiculousness is the set of sunglasses Alia has taken to wearing to help keep the bright-light problem down to a minimum. All and all, the technopath looks to be a mess.

"… No idea how good it is to hurt." Alia finally concludes, in response to the panmnesiac's congratulations. Then she asks likely the oddest question in a long time. "Aspirin?"

"Over here," Cat replies while she seals the exit door, then turns away to cross the interior and retrieve both the requested pills and water to take them with. Visible on monitors across the chamber are footage from security cameras around the perimeter of Alley Cat Bronx and the tunnel they just used. Computers are present, with secure network connections. "Have a seat, relax," she offers.

Alia flops in a chair as she takes both water and pills, downing them with an abandon. "Migraine." She winces a little. She eyes up the computers a moment, but doesn't touch them just yet. She's not sure she wants to just yet.

After handing over the pills and water, she avails herself of a chair. Questions abound in Cat’s mind, but are held back in a display of mercy for the recently escaped technopath; she won’t seek to get her talking about her captivity and escape so immediately. Instead a chuckle is loosed as eyes settle on the woman’s oversized sweatshirt. “Excellent album,” she opines, “I especially like Paradise By The Dashboard Light.”

Moments later her singing voice surfaces, low in volume. “Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep, dark, night…”

Alia twitches a smile. "… rescuers brought it. Haven't risked Verb yet." She closes her eyes, and simply reaches out with one hand towards one of the computers… files start appearing out of nowhere on the desktop. Lots of them. Text logs, code snippets, audio and video files… "Georgia Mayes?" the question is obviously a 'do you know this name?' bit.

The sampling of lyrics is brief, Cat moving on to voice a snipper from another cut on the album Alia's attire features. "Like a bat out of hell I'll be gone when the morning comes." But before she can opt to do a portion of Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad, Alia's question and the computer activity draw her focus. "She's with the DoEA. Older lady, looks to be the other side of sixty, a bit shorter than most women. Got some press a while back, some person or persons tried to assassinate her. What about Miss Mayes?"

Alia closes her eyes. "Person in charge of captivity. Tried to use me to replace software at Delaware facility after breaking original deal struck. Seems to consider self 'subtle terrorist'. Has serious anti-evolved attitude. I will eat shirt if she isn't Humanis First." Alia speaks in a calm level tone, her clipped bare necessity of words familiar by now to many… Alia tries not to move much. The being super-sensitive to everything is not helping her life any. "Also has Institute contacts… or someone there did."

Alia pauses. "Assassination attempt. way to get publicity, not real attempt, maybe?"

"It was October seventh, last year," Cat replies, "by Messiah, while Mayes spoke at Columbia University. They tried to get her and Secretary Praeger in one stroke. The press says her title is Senior Analyst." Her eyes rest on the documents Alia's bringing up, attempting to see as much as possible and commit the images into memory for later study. "What was the original deal? I can see they kept your body exercised, you're not atrophied."

Alia twitches. "Thank Institute." She states, an image coming up of Alia in one of the 'retrieval coffins', taken from a rather grainy webcam it looks like. "I scratch their backs, if I do well enough, no charges filed. I do work, but not good enough, charges pressed. I don't work, they toss me in recycle bin." She says it in that same level tone. The files are still forming. Not so much popping up as images but instead just appearing as if out of a zipped up archive. Alia's face shows less sign of headache as more and more files disappear into the computer. "… I, am not you. Hard to pack that much in." She finally states as she leans back into the chair.

"No use of that second time. After return to body, was at hospital a week? Maybe two? Mayes came in… woke up to news… her comment on dome… Then conversation about 'choice'… lack of it, mostly." Alia looks at the screen of the PC a moment. "Dosed me with a psychotropic. While still hypersensitive to own senses… Next coherent moment, saw a face… then… my ability was set off, not willingly. Shoved me… into another trap. Smaller. External hard-drive, CPU, battery, one function. Technopath goes in… and is sucked out, USB, later.”

While Alia recounts these experiences and the images form on screen, being unloaded from the technopath's memory, Cat listens to absorb it all. It seems for some moments as if she might snarl, her demeanor being a subtle fierce focus. Poise remains and the general projection of stoicism, but there's that undercurrent of turbulent thoughts shown in facial expressions and the flash of her eyes. "It's surprising," she mutters, "the other Richard Cardinal didn't have someone grab you for his own purposes while the chance existed."

Silence settles in for some seconds as she considers what she's been told. It may well feel to Alia as if she's being given a formal interview aimed at forming an after-action report of some kind, and such feeling wouldn't be misplaced.

"What work did Miss Mayes want from you, Alia?"

Alia waves a hand at the screen. Images of both one of the feline hunter models, and of AETOS come up on the screen. "… me, in those." She frowns, and another image comes up… this time, Alia, in one 'coffin'… a lady of apparently mid-eastern decent in another, and two men standing up right. One has a circle drawn around him temporarily. Alia explains, "Colin. Prime contact. Innocent, I think. Naive, at least. Technopath, different bent then me or Apila." Alia closes her eyes as that circle disappears, and the circle appears around the other man. "Doctor Carpenter?" She asks what Cat knows of the name. "Apparently pulled me out of Colin's brain, back into body. But why SECOND body?"

"Colin who?" she asks as images are reviewed and committed to memory by that simple fact. "Carpenter is a captive of the Institute, one who's apparently chosen to work with them for some reason. It may be they got leverage on him. He was taken in after the events which led to Norman White's death. One of the people freed from Moab, he helped Helena Dean once during a Humanis First attack. Cloned her into another body, a speedster, just before her father's goons grabbed the original." She pauses here, taking some moments before completing the sentence, to perhaps warn that something unpleasant is coming.

"Likelihood is Carpenter cloned your mind into the other body, Alia."

Alia twitches a little, but nods. She'll consider the ramifications later. "Colin Verse. AKA V.Iris in system. Also of note… Hector Steel." She pulls up his picture, a much different camera took this, visible light, and a infra-red picture of him, actually, side by side. "Wasn't happy about them putting me in kitty." She pulls up a picture of the hunter model, from the side. There's a pause. "Cat? other directional question?" Another webcam shot appears. This one seems to be in a storage shed. "Joshua Springsteen. Adel. Adel is in a band." She pauses a moment. "They knew me, by name. Fans of my work, they said."

Alia pauses a moment, then quite simply asks. "Odds of them intercepting transport convoy I was in, attacking it, and succeeding, not purposefully?" It's quite obvious that Alia thinks the odds are pretty much non-existent.

"Colin Verse, V.Iris, Hector Steel…" Cat's voice is laden with darkness on speaking that last name, a person who should never have gotten into Institute or DoEA hands, though she doesn't seem surprised. His presence was already established by the simple fact of such robotics existing. What does surprise is the display of images from the storage shed, of Alia's rescuers.

"Springsteen I haven't seen before," she states slowly, "but the woman I have. Adel Starkey, she's in a band with Magnes Varlane, Elaine Darrow, Robyn Quinn, and Sable Diego. Just last Thursday Starkey performed at the Rock Cellar in Quinn's debut concert. Glass Wonderland album. I really, really, want to meet Miss Starkey now," she asserts with determination.

Alia twitches. "With Magnes Varlane. Who got me back into town. Small world…." She rubs her forehead, then quotes "'Cause they do terrible terrible things with you and we'd rather you- not do terrible terrible things for them. Cause they suck.' Her words when worried that the DoEA might have… broke me."

"Very, very intriguing," is her reply concerning Miss Starkey. "I'd be happy to see all you can dredge up on her through sources reachable to you, Alia. I intend to speak directly with the source, after I speak with Robyn Quinn and share with her. Soon. There's… there's a lot to do, I won't pretend otherwise, but I'm not going to press just yet. You need time to recover, get bearings, before tackling things like researching a Colonel Leon Heller. And linking up so copies of footage from Verb cameras come here for review. I think there've been military people snooping around the place." She gets to her feet and heads for the large freight elevator, beckoning to be followed.

"First we get you some clothes that fit, some food, and a decent bed to sleep in if you need it. I've got residences on the second floor."

Alia smiles a little. "appreciated, bed had… but it's… out of contact with world. And need to debrief. Two others." She sighs. "And make that appointment." She mutters the last words to herself. "… also. need… to do one other thing. Sentimental." There's a quiet twitch as she looks at the network… she knows it's just an easy little dive if she wanted to, but at the moment, the discomfort of being physical is much appreciated. "… need to scout Verb myself. Two blades. Gifts. From my parents."

Stepping onto the elevator, with her voice louder to cross the distance opened between them, Cat repeats the invitation. "Come get clothing, at least. You don't have to go to the Verb to get those items, we still have friendlies who aren't under suspicion living there, like Robyn Quinn. She can get them for you, we can arrange transfer into your hands. Need to set up a meet with her myself too."

"Resources on Staten Island are slim," Cat admits, "Colonel Heller is the commander of troops at Miller Field, he's also head of Frontline-OS and someone possibly in line to steal Elisabeth's job if he can. He's the one hunting for Ferry people, has already carried out summary executions of people he just felt like killing and is holding others prisoner." As the elevator doors close, she continues elaborating on the Colonel. His age, marital status, sixteen years of military service…

Soon there will be fresh clothing for the technopath, items which fit her far better than what she currently wears. Helena's clothing, or garments meant for her in any case. She's certain Stormy will understand.

"Miller. Where Mayes was. Where I was." Alia's statement is flat. Even she can do the math. She takes the clothes wordlessly. The work has just, as she sees, begun.

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