2007-08-20: DF: Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been


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August 20th, 2009:

Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been

Bat Country Labs

Lee knows the best place to hide is someplace that has not only been searched, but half-blown up, searched again, clarivoyanced, precognitivenessed, and so on, until everyone knows there's nothing whatsoever to be gained from ever looking there again. Thus, he is quite openly leaning on the half-scorched wall, bat stashed in his bag, and completely invisible in every sense of the word but the original.

Cass was told that Bat Country had been half destroyed from her impromptu visit from the president earlier, but as she descends the steps into what used to be her lab, her clinic, it's still a shock. Still a heartache. After radioing ahead, giving her clearance codes and confirming that, yes indeed, Cassandra Aldric was out of holding, it was time to go back to work again. For however long she could. She's cautious, but trying not to look suspicious, protection of her own in her pockets. Once she emerges from the hallway, she takes a deep breath and just levels her gaze at Lee, leaning against the wall. "This city keeps getting creepier by the day, I think."

Lee says, "I couldn't quite believe it when I received your code." with a half-quirked grin. "Those idiots did /two/ things right this month, I'll have to eat crow big time. It's great to see you."

There's a bit of a smile for Lee as she approaches. "You and me both. Didn't know if you'd actually believe it was me." Who knows what might have happened in between. "They're not idiots, they're just…" she shakes her head. Arguing with Lee about the Saints is not what brought her here. "It's good to see you, too. There's a lot to talk about. First, where did all the patients get moved to?"

Lee seems surprised she knows about it, "They went to the med center for clearance. From there…well, we've lost a lot of railroad stations since the President's kidnapping, but we're working on getting them back online. Right now they're in safehouses. Mobile. What, did you find out something when you were inside?"

Well, they're not in Bat Country, that's for sure. It's not structurally sound enough to do anything. They had to be somewhere else. Cass nods her head. "You'll get them back up. If the Alliance is anything, it's resilient." The way it has to be. Frowning, she moves to the table she knocked over to hide behind. It's been righted, but she remembers it. "The detainment camps, they're not just for detainment. They're using them to experiment on humans. Trying to speed up their evolution, eradicate human beings without abilities from the gene pool."

Lee says, "They're doing that in /all/ the camps? Do you have proof of this? Or maybe…know where we could look for proof of it? We got a defecting scientist and her patients…I guess you got that from the news. But she was compartmentalized. She didn't have access to any kind of network of data collected from the containment camps."

"It's…" Cass frowns. "I saw papers. Statistics. Names. The President wanted me to come up with something to lower the process'…'fail rate'. It's what they started doing when the camps started filling up." Nodding, she thinks that over. "You might be able to get something from the camps themselves. They've got to do these experiments somewhere classified, otherwise we would have known about this long before. I don't have any proof, but I know they have files on it. I wasn't there long enough and couldn't even bear thinking about actually cooperating with the idea to see much of the network or know much about it. They've got other doctors, lab scientists there, too. They're trying to pioneer a new race, it takes a lot of manpower."

Lee says, "How do they communicate between the camps and the data centers? Do they have a computer network, do they use paper files, charts…we've gotten medical info, even genetic workups before, but nothing to suggest how it was being used? Are you able to tell who in the camps' power structure has knowledge of the program?'

Cass should have realized how in depth Lee would start questioning her about this. She just wished she had better answers. "All I saw was the research, Lee. And that for not very long. When I told the President to drop dead, he stuffed me back into holding. What I saw was on paper. There were graphs, reports, diagrams. They, obviously, weren't about to give me the skeleton key to everything they were planning." Frowning, she shrugs her shoulders. "Cyprus Donovan definitely has knowledge about it. There are scientists at the camps, I'm sure, taking down all the statistics, even testing them. I wish I had more information to go on, Lee, but I don't. They're smart about plausible deniability. The higher ups were lawyers, for God's sake."

Lee listens closely. "Donovan…okay." he says. "Well, in that case, they won't know if a lot of it goes missing. Cass, if you're able to reproduce, or make a statement about what you saw and heard, the other scientist - her name is Aileen - is preparing a statement about the program and we're going to try to get it out to the public, if there's any way to do that after the Cookie and Torture Show."

"I think the public is watching to see more news now, more than ever, to see what will happen next," Cass says slowly. She's not here to fight about what the Saints have done or what the Alliance should do. "I'll make a statement, see what I can write down that I remember. Anything you need from it, anything I can get. But…" she pauses. She looks down a little, at the table, around the ruined remains of her clinic. "It's going to be one of the last things I'll do officially for the Alliance. We can't stay in the country any more. I'm sorry. I can't justify keeping my family here any more. Abigail…I need to know that she has a life. A life that isn't going to be this. I don't want her to grow up afraid for her life."

Lee says, "You've sacrificed more than could possibly have been asked of you. If you want to leave the country, we'll help you do it as best we can as soon as we can." Then he smiles slyly. "Hey, mind doing us a favor in the country you end up in?"

"That's what I was hoping you'd say," Cass replies with a relieved sigh to Lee. "You're going to have to play nice, because the Saints are helping out with part of our escape, too." Because she's going to want to say goodbye to them as well as her friends here. "I'll close up shop here, make sure you're all set up before leaving. I'm not about to leave you guys without some parting gifts." The smile is matched with a small one of her own. "You know that just because we're out of the country doesn't mean we're out of the fight. We're thinking of Scotland. I'm sure some of our refugees would love to see the land of Plaid and Scotch."

Lee says cheerily, "There was one really unexpected good thing that came from the President's kidnapping, even if the torture set us back almost a year. It showed that the President never made any plans for a line of succession, which is excellent because it shows his psychosis hasn't actually made him /believe/ in the Evolved supremacist bullshit he's been spreading, or it's kept him from effectively pursuing his beliefs. We're going to be setting up a shadow government. We're not sure where. We're identifying target detainees now. So you might have a Secretary of the Interior sleeping on your couch if you don't mind." He waves a hand somewhat dismissively, and for the first time talks seriously about the Saints issue instead of snarking: "We used them, they used us, we knew they were snakes when we picked them up, we liked it when they bit our enemies, so we can't complain about the poison now. I can't say we predicted they'd go off the rails like /this/ exactly, but we knew it was a threat and they benefited us enough that we accepted it. We're not in communication at the moment and we won't be for at least another week depending on how fast we can set up a distinct identity. We're dead if we don't have political support, and nobody's going to do that if they think we cut the thumbs off people. People like them don't need political support because they're not interested in accomplishing anything lasting."

"As long as they don't mind Lachlan sometimes coming out of the shower naked," Cass retorts to Lee's cheery demeanor. Really, she doesn't seem to mind at all. "And a shadow government is good. Anything that we can do to oust the current one is good. He…the President is complicated." Waving a hand, in a gesture much like Lee's, she moves on. She's not sure she can explain the Nathan/Logan distinction, nor if Lee would even believe it if she did. "And /don't/ talk about the Saints like that. They saved my life and they're my friends. Long before there was anything like the Alliance or the Saints. What Jack did was…" she sighs. "It wasn't /political/. It was personal. I don't agree with it. I don't think there should be thumbs cut off or anything like that. And I'm sure you can work it to your political advantage, showing how rational the Alliance is compared to people who would kidnap Presidents. Show the world how bad it is here. What we /need/ is foreign assistance. Whatever it was that /we/ did to dictatorial countries led by despots back in the day. Showing the world just how unstable we are maybe will spur them into realizing it's in their best interest to help us." Putting a hand on her forehead, she rubs a little. "They want something lasting, Lee. We all do. Just…they're my friends. And don't talk about them like they're crazy."

Lee says, simply, with no small compassion, "Torture is crazy. You can't engage in it in the real world without being a sociopath - maybe in movies or on TV or something, but not in the real world. You can still love torturers and their collaborators, nobody is asking you not to, but you can't expect crazy people to act sane. It won't last." He adds, shifting tone: "So you actually got to speak to the President? Both in and out of captivity? Any advantage to be gained there?"

"Torture /is/ crazy," Cass agrees. She can't not, it's what she believes in. "But…what the President did to them…" she shakes her head. "If they're crazy, he was the one who made them that way. It gave them a brutal sense of justice." The tone is caught. "Not once I was rescued. The Saints had him under very tight guard." Nothing she talked to with Nathan after her captivity would be of any use to Lee, nor would she want to talk about it. "I don't know if I can explain it properly, but I knew the President before he was the President. And the man who we've seen for the past two years? That wasn't the man I knew. That wasn't Nathan Petrelli."

Lee says, with a joshing smile: "Well, /duh/. I met him once before too, though he clearly doesn't remember. I wouldn't say I /knew/ him, but he was just a regular ambitious politician before he snapped, everyone knows that." He thinks about it. "Well, you've definitely laid in some decent ideas. Check in with Aileen at the med center, look over the files we have about the Evolution experimentation projects and see where our next move should be."

Laughing, Cass raises an eyebrow and says in a teasing tone, "Seeing as you were a complaining little weasel back then, I can't say I blame him for forgetting you." Oh, she remembers the sarcastic Lee who liked to poke holes in everything. And she's not sure that lee gets what she's saying about how the President /isn't/ Nathan, but she's also not sure how better to explain it. There'll be time as she writes out a statement and puts it together for Lee. Maybe she'll have a better way to say it then. "Sure. I'll draw something up in the next couple of days. If you want me to read it, sure. If you just want something for someone else to say, that's fine too. Just tell me where to stand."

Lee replies, "You've always known where to stand. It's why I didn't really complain when the Saints told us they were going after you. I knew you wouldn't get sucked into their nonsense." He approaches. "C'mere. Nima is in the wind, so she said to give you a hug from her." He accidentally gives up a bit of vulnerability in that statement. Nima is clearly off doing something that Lee can't know about, in case he is mindscanned or caught and tortured, and it always kills him a little when that happens, until she comes back safe, which she always does.

"Sometimes I like their nonsense." Cass gives Lee a wry grin. "The have a strange sense of satire." There's a bit of a tensing when Lee steps forward, but she accepts Lee's hug from Nima and even gives him a pat on the back. She knows how he gets when Nima does something he can't know about. "Thanks. When she gets back, you'll let me know, right?" Because she hasn't seen her friend in awhile and she has to thank her for watching over Abigail while she was in captivity.

Lee says, "I will if she doesn't first." He tells her where the new medical center is - always a contingency plan with the Alliance. "It's been picked over pretty well here, by HomeSec guys looking for evidence, but if you find anything, just bring it on down, you know we'll use it."

Looking around the her destroyed clinic, Cass shakes her head. "I trust that you guys have done a thorough look through of everything." She doesn't plan on staying much longer after Lee heads out. It's too depressing. Too…unsafe. "But if I do, I will."

Lee says, "I'll wait down at the corner. It's nice and quiet underground these days. We had to blow a few tunnels, but it's quiet for now." And he lets her pick over the debris.

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