2008-05-12: Batcave Or Belfry?


Kory_icon.gif Niki_icon.gif

Summary: Niki visits Kory's apartment after frantic text messages and learns about Bus Guy and who else is on The List. It doesn't quite go as well as Kory hoped.

Date It Happened: May 12, 2008

Batcave or Belfry?

The Deveaux Building - Kory's Apartment - "The Batcave"

Early morning means that the kids have gone to school and their mom (or very nearly mom, in Cam's case) has time to see why Kory left a billion text messages on her phone. No doubt the boys wanted to skip school to come visit Comic Book Girl too. No such luck for them, though! Inside the Deveaux Building, Niki knocks on Kory's door. It's a warm spring day out today, even so early — denim shorts (key word: short), a white tank top and black boots that look suspiciously like the cowboy variety are the order of the day.

It was probably four am when Sophie was finally calmed down enough and tired enough that she started to droop like a daisy unwatered; so Kory asked Randall to walk her her home (all the way downstairs in the same building, imagine that!). It was probably an hour later when Randall's normal semi-comprehensible manner of speech degenerated into even less-comprehensible babble, and so she gave him her sleeping bag and tucked him away in one of her Big Comfy Chairs. Leaving her, naturally, the only one awake when morning comes.

She's in the kitchen trashing little paper and plastic containers from a rushed Chinese takeout dinner, and pondering breakfast when there's a knock. A quick check of the peephole reveals it is Niki - Adrenaline Blonde! "Awesome!" is Kory's greeting. "Thank God!" she adds, flinging open the door and beaming at the other woman.

Niki smiles to Kory, a hint of wariness borne of suspicion skirting along the polite expression, just because she doesn't know why she's here — but it likely involves Pinehearst. That and Kory is really enthusiastic. "Um." Holding onto the strap of a silvery faux snakeskin purse at her right, she quirks a brow and more of a smile,almost amused. "…Hi?"

Kory has no choice but to be really enthusiastic. She doesn't sleep. Her energy level doesn't really bottom out. "So - I was pondering breakfast. Cinnamon buns? Pancakes?" As if she needs more sugar. "I guess you got the texts. Sorry for so many. I kind of panicked." Kind of, yeah. "Come on in." She shuts and locks the door. The place isn't entirely unpacked yet, but there are seven locks on the door. You'd think this was Hell's Kitchen or Alphabet City or some other slummy part of the city by how many locks have been installed on the door. Yeesh.

Still slightly overwhelmed by Kory's early morning enthusiasm (Niki isn't anywhere near that awake, and she slept last night), the blonde, after heading inside and leaving the multitude of locks at her back, just smiles and gives an impartial shrug and shake of her head re: breakfast. "I was expecting to find this place on…" Niki trails off on seeing the sign that says 'BAT CAVE', momentarily distracted. "…fire… or something."

"On fire?" Kory repeats, blinking. "Nonono. It's the bus guy. The bus guy got hit by a bus and then projected all the kinetic energy from the impact to the crowd and the pain too so he felt no pain but then he got arrested so he's in jail so I called Jane 'cause she's a lawyer and I texted Micah too because he could find out from the computers what they planned to do with him and I called you because bus guy escaped from Pinehearst and you would know if Charlotte's on our side or not." Gasp. Pant. pant. pant. "Sorry. It's…been a hectic few hours."

Niki, brows raised, gapes incredulously at Kory. Whoa, whoa, whoa. "…Whoa, whoa, whoa." She splays a hand out, thumb still hooked around the strap of her oversized purse. "Hang on. Bus— what? You want to know about Charlotte?" Given the dark look that crosses her features, the tight frown and the shake of her head… "Charlotte … wants to do the right thing," she says slowly. "To her, Pinehearst's got it right. You can't trust her."

Kory looks hopefully at Niki once she's caught her breath. "Bus guy," she repeats. "Bus guy!" She sounds like Hiro, without the accent. "I don't know his name. I got this from Sophie. I don't know if she knows his name. But she's the one who brought me all this data, and I trust her totally on its accura—" and then Niki busts the bubble with Charlotte's name on it. There isn't a whole lot to Kory physically to begin with, but wow, look at her deflate.

"I was afraid you were gonna say that," she says quietly, eyes dropping to the floor. Randall's going to take that so hard.

Niki's frown turns into something of a sympathetic smile, downcast herself. "She was my friend. I didn't know you knew her." She wanders at random further into the apartment, closer to the kitchen, looking away from Kory. "Peter was going to…" She trails off in the land of vague. "I haven't seen her for awhile, not that I've been there."

Kory looks back at Niki with a very serious expression. The hyperkinetic energy is still roiling away under the surface, but for the moment gravity has weighted down her mood. "Charlotte saved my life, Niki. She got me away from someone who had kidnapped me and inadvertently poisoned me and to medical help before I died." So yeah, Kory's taking it nearly as hard as she expects Randall to. "And then she brought me back crepes. From France. And an awesome leather jacket from Hong Kong." Her expression tightens to something painful. "Greek bearing gifts, it'd seem."

She follows Niki to the kitchen. "But Bus Guy's pain transference thing? It's something to do with Pinehearst, and our first thought was you. That you might know what it was all about." She hugs herself, cupping her elbows in her hands. "And if you know whether Novak Garibaldi's part of the problem or part of the solution."

Kory might as well be speaking Chinese, for as much as Niki seems to comprehend what she's saying. She leans lightly against a kitchen counter. "I'm… I have no idea what you're talking about. For either of them," she admits. Unhelpfully.

"Okay, here's the thing." Kory at least has made coffee, and pours Niki a cup in a mug adorned with the Big Blue Genie from Disney's Aladdin. Kory doesn't touch the stuff herself. Redundant. "I was working on a project and when I told Randall what it was, he sort of freaked and asked for a break to take it in and work it out. While we were on break, a guy from the comic shop thought he'd make a play for me. But when doing it the normal way didn't work, he started drugging me and …it's not important. Long story short, when Randall found out what'd happened, he asked Charlotte to come get me. She rescued me and brought me back to New York so they could treat me for being poisoned."

"As for bus guy — apparently that formula? The one that gives people powers? It's real. And it works. They used it on him. That's how he did what he did, I'm guessing."

Niki takes the coffee — and once she's heard all Kory has had to say, she's thankful for the caffeine, honing in on the sugar to fix it up. "…Damnit," she mumbles under her breath. "I know it's real," she says through grit teeth. "They've been testing it for… Awhile… Now. But last I heard, it wasn't working right." Now, apparently, it does. Not awesome news. Niki looks down into the Aladdin mug; there's a pause before she adds, "…Charlotte… she rescued me too, actually. Not a story unlike yours."

"So Charlotte's heart is in the right place?" Kory asks, hopefully. Knowing the formula is real and working better? Yeah, we've established that. Fretting out loud about it some more is not going to do anybody any good. "Maybe we could convince her she's got it backward about what they're doing being good for the world? She's obviously got a good heart if she saved you and me."

"Don't." With that one sharp word, Niki is quick to stomp on Kory's optimism. Guess what? Someone's already tried. "You're right. She's a good person. She's a really sweet girl." She smiles, an expression that devolves into a cynical version of itself quickly. "But saving me? Pinehearst's orders. She'll always see the good. Better if we just leave her alone."

Kory's chin jerks up sharply, startled by Niki's sharpness. "Orders…" she repeats, and the gravity of that washes visibly across her expression. "…which means saving me might've also been …orders." Ouch. "Okay, so, Bus Guy is in jail now. Don't know if he has any other tricks that'll help him escape or anything. But I figure I probably need to go talk to him…my way." Why this is only just now occurring to Kory is not readily apparent. Maybe she's frightened. That would be the sensible response, really. "So any other stuff we should know? Are there more lab rats gonna escape their cages we should worry about?"

Smile, even wry, now totally gone, Niki averts her eyes from Kory. She wraps an arm over her stomach, sips her coffee, and with an air of sudden unease, stalls. "…this isn't the first time they've used lab rats." Lab rats being people. "I dunno. Sounds a lot like we're running out of time."

"Yeah, that much I figured, thanks," Kory says, tone holding genuine gratitude that Niki was trying to be gentle and delicate about something there's no way to broach easily. "I'm a fangirl. I know what badguys do. Steal the homeless, or people who won't be easily missed, to use for their experiments." She clenches her fists. "How …how can Charlotte think anyone who does that are the good guys? How can anyone think they're the good guys if they do that? DON'T THEY GO TO MOVIES?!"

The frustrated outburst passes quickly, and Kory leans against the counter, trying not to pace or fidget. "The question is, what are we doing to stop them? What can we do, Niki? You've been inside. Don't they have any weaknesses? Chinks in the armor we can exploit?"

Niki flinches for an instant at Kory's well-deserved outburst, but afterward is quiet, steely. "I thought they were the good guys," she says in a low, unobtrusive voice without looking up; not defensive, just a statement. "Once upon a time." She pushes away from the counter, sighing and tossing her hair over a shoulder; there's a scar there, on the front beneath the strap of her shirt. Looks like she had stitches recently. "The labs," she answers belatedly. "The computers. It's all… hi-tech. Micah…" Her jaw sets hard. "We shoulda done it sooner… shut 'em down."

Kory is still vibrating with energy she's not burning off through motion. She catches sight of the scar and glances from it to Niki's face. "You..you weren't one of the lab rats…?" Oh, God, please say no. "We're doing it now. We have to. Before this gets out of control. More out of control than it is."

Niki is quick to shake her head — reassuring, somewhat, that she wasn't one of the lab rats; she was exploited in other ways — as she moves to Kory's table, setting down her cup. Determined and hard-eyed, she regards the younger woman. "Preachin' to the choir. Let's do it. I'm sick and tired of waiting for the next disaster."

"You and me both. So — what's the plan?" Not that Kory isn't starting to formulate some of her own, but she wants Niki's input as someone who's already been on the inside. "Anything you need me to do? Anyone you want me to bring on board? Anyone else I should be steering clear of, and warning others?"

Niki think, think, thinks, and the capacity to scheme and plan comes a lot easier than it would have in the past. For an instant, there's an all-too-calculating flash in her blue eyes. "Anyone on the inside who's on our side is gonna come under fire if Pinehearst so much as gets a hint they're being played when this goes down. Gene Kensington. He's a…" Geek. "…a computer guy. He's in engineering. He might be able to make sure everything runs smoothly. Cass Aldric… she needs to get out of dodge."

"Gene? He comes by the Lair now and again. He's passive-aggressive and has a little paranoia," Kory recalls, frowning. "So he and Micah have abilities that'll go together?" She wrinkles her nose thoughtfully until Niki adds another name. "Cass? The one from Enlightenment? She hasn't got an ability — how's she mixed up in this?!"

Uh oh. "She um…" Niki regards Kory carefully, bracing — and bracing Kory — for what's about to be considerably shocking news, in all likelihood. "She runs one of the labs. She's working on the formula." She quickly holds up a hand. "But it's okay! She's wants this stopped too."

Kory recoils from that bit of news as if Niki had walked up to her and backhanded her. And then the little bit of good news follows. "So she's sabotaging it from within?" Kory pinches the bridge of her nose with her right hand. "That's daring. Brave. Extremely stupid."

"Tell me about it," mumbles the other woman who's been sabotaging it from within also — just in other ways. "I've been getting away with staying away from Pinehearst 'cause I technically work for Nathan, but Cass— she has a job to do there. She can't hide, not all the time. If we turn off a switch, and the lab goes down, someone's gonna ask questions. If I were Pinehearst, the first person I'd go after is the person in charge of the lab."

"So how are we getting her out of the crosshairs?" Kory asks, bluntly. "She needs to be protected as much as she needs to make sure the formula is a bust." She starts pacing. Again. "So how do we get her out?" Frustration paints the dreamwalker's features and she flops down disconsolately into a chair at the kitchen table. "Some days I really wish my ability were a little more useful."

"Dunno, but I'm guessing step one's making sure she doesn't go to work." Niki moves to Kory's side, standing tall beside the seated woman as if she's going to console her, but she doesn't, just yet.

Kory doesn't need consoling. She comes off flighty, but really, her recent experiences have made her stronger than she looks. It's another genre savvy tactic, really; people will underestimate her if she continues to behave like the ditzy dogwalking comic fan DJ who sings in Simlish. She's frustrated. Angry. Scared. But she nods at Niki's first suggestion. "We could put Visine in her morning coffee, but that'd only work for a day or two at best."

… Wait what. "Well, I was pretty much banking on… you know… asking her." Niki moves around the table, pulling out a chair to sit on its edge and leaning ahead, elbows on bare knees; not the kind of pose that suggests she plans on sitting there long. "I've known Cass for a long time. Not that she trusts me…"

"Asking her," Kory says flatly. "And we're talking about Cass?" These seven words imply Kory thinks that is not the sort of approach that's going to work with Cass. Kory rests her elbows on the table. "If she is staying home from work, she will need to be genuinely incapacitated. Have you not seen how dedicated she is?" Kory has; they met as the Shanti virus thing was starting to wind down. The woman's work ethic borders on martyriffic.

Niki's features soften into worry, brows knitting distraughtly together. "What? No," she says, only to say a moment later, "I mean— yeah, I know, but it's not like that. Cass knows what kinda place she's in. Avoiding it more's not gonna be the end of the world."

"And you think we can just ask her to take a couple sick days when being out could maybe allow them time to discover what sabotage she's been up to, and undo it?" Kory's not being sarcastic, but she's genuinely dubious of how successful this approach may be. "Or come after her for doing it?"

"We could ask her what she wants to do," Niki answers firmly. A hint of a smile appears a moment later. "That's just step one, right? Gotta start somewhere. Maybe— we get everyone outta the building. Harder to blame someone who's not there. Micah's sure he can't be traced." Niki still has her concerns, though, evidenced on the uncomfortable shift in her chair, her frown.

"I trust Micah, yeah, so starting with asking Cass what she wants is a good first step, I guess." She rises and claps Niki on the un-stitched shoulder. "We'll beat this. But first, I gotta speed up the way we're getting list people. So I'm gonna share the names with you. If you know anybody Peter's mentioned? Get them on board. Stat." She leads the other woman outside to the computer next to the kitchen. She calls up a password locked file with names and addresses in some cases, transcribed from the paper copy Peter of the future handed her Color codes indicate whether she's contacted them yet..

The list of people contacted is in blue, and the list of people still to be contacted is in red: Claire Bennet, Elena Gomez, Elle Bishop, Lachlan Deatley, Bekah Morgan, Ian Jackson, Kitty Hanner, Mikhail Himura, Samantha Applebaum, Trina Mah, Sierra LeBlanc, Monica Dawson, Rochelle Knight, Mariska Dmitryevna Ivanova, Felix Ivanov, Jaden Cain.

There are a number of other names in yellow who indicate people who are friends of people she's already contacted. Randall and Peter's own names are in grey, indicating Peter hadn't included them, but Kory has. "That's everybody Peter suggested, but he also said that we could add people as allies if we needed to."

Niki twists in her seat, watching Kory's rise and start to lead her off; climbing out of her chair, she follows. She leans in close to the computer screen. It's immediately obvious that she recognizes some of the names — she does nothing to hide it, gaping at the list in something like awe but a lot more like apprehension. "Oh my God. I do know some of these people… Monica." That name stands out more than most, given that she lives with her. "D.L.'s cousin." The blonde reaches out to touch the screen over the Ivanovs. "…Agent Ivanov… Elle? Lachlan… That's Cass's boyfriend. Elena…" Niki idly wonders if she can opt out of that one. "…I know Dr. Applebaum." Sort of. Niki's eyes narrow on the yellow list. "Peter made this list?"

"Peter from the future," Kory clarifies. "He says we can stop his future from happening. He says he thinks we're pivotal in preventing it." She looks around to read the other woman's face. "I don't know all these people, obviously. Or I don't know them all well enough to sort through them."

The other woman's face is conflicted, above all else. "I know," she answers a touch more snappily than she intended. "This is a long list. I. I don't think he'd want me playing recruiter," she says with an edge to her voice. "According to Peter I shouldn't even be on it." Except that Niki Sanders is there in yellow. The blonde's eyes narrow all the more. Gabriel Gray. Why is that familiar? "That's— that's Sylar. I don't understand…" She takes a step back.

Okay, perhaps too much. Niki's reaction wasn't as onboard as Kory hoped; the woman left murmuring something about needing to think about it. "Now I know how Peter Parker feels," she sighs, slumping into her computer chair.

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