Wonderfully Enigmatic


cardinal_icon.gif cat_icon.gif

Scene Title Wonderfully Enigmatic
Synopsis The subjects are HF and Feng Daiyu.
Date August 31, 2009

The Verb, Cat's Penthouse

Arriving by any of four elevators, visitors will find they open into three foot corridors facing wide double doors made from sturdy southern pine which swing outward and have the strongest locks available. The stairs lead to single doors, also outward opening, at the end of three foot corridors. Entry requires both a key and a keycard; other security measures are a video camera and voice communication terminal at all doors. The 4th Street side has floor to ceiling windows interrupted only by the access points. Cream colored curtains are normally kept closed.

This level has enough space for sixteen apartments. There is an office space with reception area, conference room, and executive office; a room for archery practice and other forms of physical exercise; a very well appointed kitchen and dining area; a music zone with an array of instruments, electronics, and amplifiers; an entertainment area with an HD set covering an entire stretch of wall from floor to ceiling; a locked room where security footage for the building is recorded and can be monitored; a laundry room; a staircase for roof access; central air and heating; the main bedroom and a few smaller guest rooms; plush deep wine carpet everywhere except the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms; and track lighting everywhere overhead. The light levels can be lowered or raised in the entire place, or selectively by segments. The overall decor suggests the occupant is a woman.

It's a busy day, this particular Monday, and for various reasons Cat likes her days very busy. It gives her less time to wallow in memories not particularly pleasant, but every bit as crystal clear as any other. And there is anger. Three attacks by Humanis First in the past week have occurred around her, and in each she found herself unarmed. That's on top of what's gone on with Elisabeth and Else Kjelstrom, the whole Vanguard resurfacing angle and the issue of Norman Psycho White.

She's sent word to Mr. Redbird, asking him to join her here and very much recommending he arrive shadowy. As the hour approaches 14:00, she's waiting and still clad in lawyer clothes from the morning session at the Center. In the area she uses for an office, the computer monitor is open to Explorer. She has the folder with her various files open so things in it can be shared. For printed material, there are photos of Emile Danko and Bill Dean as well as one of Feng Daiyu.

"You know I hate the daylight, Cat."

The shadow behind her chair stretches upwards higher along the wall, as if to look over her shoulder towards the computer screen with a tilt of its head, "Hurts my damn eyes, that burning ball in the sky. Mnm. Interesting trio you're looking at there."

"Very," she replies when the shadow arrives. Her voice is flat, and she's all business. It may well be perceived Cat is working with a muted anger in play. "These two," she indicates Bill and Danko, "are HF. Emile Danko and William Dean." Fingers move the mouse, she opens a file named Humanis First for him to read.

"I know. Helena wants me to kill her father, I think. I think it may be too good for him." There's little attempt made to insert emotion into the voice that stirs from Cardinal's shadows, it's flat, sharp, businesslike today. Much like hers, really. "I have them on file already. I have people looking for Bill right now."

"We have no intention of engaging with them directly beyond defensive actions if and when they come at us," Cat shares, "they're too big, too well armed, and too well-trained for that. Most of our ops of that kind have been aimed at specific points in time for certain objectives. With the Vanguard, our goal wasn't to beat the organization, it was to simply stop what they were intending to do. The beast itself is all around the world and has large numbers."

"What we will do is collect all data we can and share it with a number of interested parties. I have no reservations about sharing things with law enforcement and Federal agencies when it comes to them. There's no risk they won't get trials. No powers. Of course, if they happen to be killed in the process of capture, well, I'll have no tears."

"You shouldn't engage them anyway," Cardinal observes quietly, "Phoenix isn't meant to be a militant organization, and every step you take in that direction leads you away from your original purpose. We need people like you, like King, to present a peaceful and helpful front for the Evolved. Leave the wetwork to those who're already amongst the damned."

"I agree, actually, with the latter. I have… plans of my own that should point the government towards them, and if I'm lucky, completely derail FRONTLINE in their direction."

She chuckles dryly. "If they attack where we are, we'll defend and escape as best we can. I simply mean we won't stand still to be shot down when they turn up. As to Frontline, well, HF just last week placed themselves firmly on their radar when they attacked the ball which introduced Lt. Spalding and others to the public. Not long after General Autumn had left. Minea Dahl and Felix Ivanov attempted to arrest Danko and had him downed, when it turned out Danko wasn't alone. He had eyes on him, probably comm gear too, because suddenly there was tear gas, rpgs, and an ice cream truck crashing into the venue."

"I saw the news," considers the man in the shadow, "I'm surprised they didn't get… anybody… out of it. It makes me wonder who in there is Humanis. It's all right. It works for my fucking purposes well enough."

"A good lesson in that event was simple: no matter how alone any HF member might seem to be, that person can never be assumed truly alone." Cat moves on from the topic of HF now, to tap the photo of Feng Daiyu. "I find myself soon to build a file on this man, Mr. Redbird. He does the most interesting things, like attending a rock concert in a suit. A spook such as him certainly knows how not to be seen. So why does he in that case draw attention to himself? It's been suggested he also has an unhealthy interest in Else Kjelstrom."

"Of course he does. She's singing about Munin… and not only is Daiyu a former member of the Vanguard, he's also currently part of the President's anti-Vanguard task force… which, I believe, is a black-ops subset of the FRONTLINE program. At the very least, he takes his orders directly from General Autumn," Cardinal murmurs, "He's trying to lure the Wolf out into the open. He wants him. Badly."

"Eileen Ruskin and I will talk fairly soon," Cat replies while pulling out a typed collection of songs Else wrote and placing them in view. "I mentioned Else to her once and sang part of a song to her. She asked me to stop, and the look of fear in her eyes then…" She trails off, letting Richard follow her trail without needing to voice it. "Elements of the Vanguard are up to something. News reports some time back said they've maybe got a stolen Russian nuke."

"I'm still waiting for… instructions." There's a quiet moment as uncertainty enters Cardinal's voice, and then he admits, "But I haven't recieved any in awhile, and I can't just sit aside and let this happen. In the previous timeline, Arthur would've stopped the Vanguard. He didn't talk about what happened to anyone, except his closest confidants. It was all— behind the scenes. The Final Solution. Have you seen the Brill Collection, Cat?"

"I've seen pieces of it, but not the whole thing. Like the object Linderman's agent bought at auction that night. And a few others. Do you have photos of the complete set?" Cat asks. "The Final Solution. Of course they call it that. Volken was very much still a Nazi nutjob."

"I sold one of the originals to Linderman for prints," admits Cardinal, "Useless now, more or less, most of them have come to be… except one." A pause, "Why do you say that Volken was a Nazi nutjob?"

There's another dry chuckle at Richard's question as Cat moves the mouse and opens the file on the Vanguard to let him read at his leisure.

"I ask, you see," the shadow's head tilts to get a better look at the screen, "Because of one of the Brill paintings in particular. It's called 'Arisen' according to the lovely little text that one of Linderman's art people put on the bottom of the print. It's a lovely silhouette of a dark figure with a cane, with lovely little tendrils of black writhing about him…"

"Hiro says a spirit of that sort is still out there. He told a story of the life and death kamis, opposing forces. Claims Kazimir tortured the man who eventually passed the life kami off to Abby some decades ago. Eve's had some visions which go along with Else's writing. In one of them she reportedly said the past is prologue, which Gillian thinks means we should study the Vanguard's origins and internal workings. Things to bring up with Eileen. One time I spoke with Else she had a notebook which I read, and there was a date in it which didn't connect to any song. 12/18/09."

"Gabriel had it contained," Cardinal notes quietly, "Until recently. His power allowed him to do so, but it escaped…" He hesitates, then adds, "…he believes he can teach the new host to do the same. I have my doubts. I think we should bring the opposing forces into contact, preferably with Gillian to boost the life entity, but I suppose that's an unlikely scenario for a variety of reasons." He snorts, roughly, "Eileen won't tell you shit. She still thinks Volken was a wonderful if mildly misguided man."

"Yes, it was only mildly misguided that his original goal was to wipe her and everyone else like her from the earth," Cat scoffs, "before he turned truly nuts and decided to purge the entire planet instead. Yes, such a wonderful man. She may or may not; in the end I think she will because she wants to live, just as those who acted with us in January want to live."

"It's easier to think well of someone who's dead and gone," notes Cardinal, quietly, "Gabriel's the sanest of the bunch, and that's… saying something. Hopefully I'll find out more, soon. He didn't leave me much— much about the Vanguard situation. I wonder if he even planned to have it stopped."

"When you speak of being left things," Cat inquires, "I presume you mean Edward."

"Mmhm." Cardinal's quiet for a few moments, before asking, "Do you know what he was trying to do on that rooftop? Do you know why?"

"Old Ed, I remember, was going to empower every person in Fort Lee at one shot," Cat replies with a shake of her head, "as part of a plot to change attitudes on things overnight. To me that's just as crazy as trying to change the world by beefing up an Evolved Gestapo by injected serum. And neither are needed: history's full of situations like ours. In time, tolerance always wins. Intolerance moves on to another target, of course, but it's always defeated."

"Half right. Half right…" Cardinal sighs, the sound a hiss from the shadow, "…the point wasn't to change attitudes, no. It was a… defensive measure. It doesn't matter now, not anymore, but if we'd all understood what he was doing— well, it's too late now. The future needs saving, Cat. And there's going to be some hard decisions to be made."

"We'd have understood what he was up to if he'd bothered to be straight with us," she grouses. "He could have from the start, when he showed up here and asked me to support the Company against Pinehearst and wouldn't tell me anything more than to contact Father. As to hard decisions, those always come. What sort do you anticipate?"

"Oh, no argument there. I did try and kill him once, the sonuvabitch, for what he did to Isabelle." Cardinal's tone is tight there with old anger, threaded with more recent strain, "I can understand what he did. That doesn't mean I have to forgive it. His long-term strategies were sound, but I wonder if there'd have been an easier way… impossible to tell. None of us can imagine what it was like to think like he did."

"Indeed," Cat replies quietly. "Have you anything to add to what I have here, in terms of information? Or is there anything we might be able to shed light on?"

"On these motherfuckers… no, not yet," Cardinal admits, "I was doing some work in pursuit of Daiyu, but right now I'm rather more focused on Humanis, after… recent… happenings."

She nods, and follows with a simple query. "Where do we find Vincent King, aka Shard?"

"Shard?" A hint of amusement, "I can get you in touch with Shard if you want. What's this about?"

"It would be interesting to hold a conversation with him," Cat answers.

"Wonderfully enigmatic," Cardinal notes, dryly, "Utterly uninformative. You'd like him, I think, his particular version of… civil disobedience while simultaneously being ridiculously aggressive of it fits well with the firebird ideology. Although he has more of a firm idea of what he wants to do, I think."

"Time will tell," Cat provides. "Now, about these hard decisions. What are they?"

"I'm not Edward Ray," notes the shadow, "I can't tell you that ahead of time. I can tell you that if we don't diverge from the current progress of this timeline… we may all be out of time entirely."

"Eyes are open," Cat replies, "ears are to the ground." And people are being gathered as R.Ajas and Monk advised when Rickham and Knox were brought to her. Inwardly she wonders what it would take to locate Sparrow Redhouse.

"Thanks for coming here, Mr. Redbird."

"Anytime, Cat." Cardinal withdraws, shadow shifting across the floor to the door.


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