2011-02-12: The Good Shepherds



Date: February 12th, 2011


When your flock has gone astray, it's time to bring in someone who knows how to find them: Under Roman's behest, Kitty returns to duty.

"The Good Shepherds"


Faces. Grotesque, distorted, cracked red and gold, with wide gaping eye-holes filled with emptiness and twisted mouths baring elongated canines or a set of wickedly gnashing wooden teeth. Leering. Staring. Casting ancient judgment down from their dozens of lifeless sockets…

The antique set of primitive tribal masks adorns the main wall, creating an arc of severity around the breathing, animated face in the room. Pressed to the back of his high leather chair, surrounded by all the comforts of a sparse, but comfortably decorated, office, Roman Carter's lips are twisted by no islander animosity, but set pleasantly, speaking distance from the phone lifted against his shoulder, though he does not speak — and the non-illuminated screen indicates no call to have placed any time recently. He only cradles the technology, his eyes cast languidly downward on the top of desk where is strewn two files and his wrist, adorned with a massively expensive looking watch that tickers healthily by the seconds that the director of Company public affairs does not move.

Time moves idly by. Tick, tick… tock…

Tick tick…

And as it hits the hour, he moves his hovering thumb onto the call button to press.

At that moment, whistling can be heard outside the room. The sound of some sort of heels click on the floor. Before a head peeks in and a raise of eyebrows causes Kitty's face to pull into a little bit of a frown. Behind her, a man obviously security looks on in confusion and distrust. Yet, there she stands. Dressed in a long dress that falls to her calves, the color a deep green, her combat boots are black and shiny. She must have just bought them recently.

Her long, brown hair hangs loose framing her face and doe brown eyes study the man in front of her. A messenger bag is on her shoulder and she carries something else in her free hand.

A container.

With a frowned look back at the security man, Kitty tilts her head as she walks into the office and leans against one of the chairs facing the desk. She tosses the container on the desk and grins widely as Roman could see what's in front of him.

Those are cookies. Not saying a word, Kitty crosses her ankles as she leaning against the chair.

Tick. The next second passes, and Roman's phone cancels its outgoing call. If it had been allowed to continue, perhaps some part of Kitty's dress would've started ringing, but it isn't — and it doesn't. Seemingly unperturbed, in fact, Roman returns to Kitty a peaceable smile for her grin, as he settles his weight slightly forward on hands he folds around the phone and rests upon the desk. "Just as punctual as you'd expect from a precog," he commends lightly, making no obvious study of her but keeping his bright eyes on her own. "And cookies. What a treat. As a matter of fact, I have something for you, too. Would you like to tell me what it is?"

"No fun if I say it all."

Kitty comments lightly and then she's laying on the back of the chair. Legs in the air and windmilling before she stops and gives Roman a sideway glance. "She was here too." Kitty comments with a look to the corner of the room, at least in one aspect of her vision she was. Maybe she was held up at home or she's talking to Peter or Nathan. Who knows. A light shrug follows as Kitty's hair hangs in her face and she drums her fingers on the surface of the desk lightly, sitting up straight and opening the container. She takes a cookie out.

"We wouldn't want to ruin any fun," approves Roman, clasping both hands acceptingly around the cookie container and sliding it towards himself. It ends up rolling right into his lap when he relaxes into the chair, daintily crossing one knee atop the other. When he lifts a hand to beckon at the young precog, the cozy office lighting reflects off gold cufflinks. "So, Miss Hanner— Kitty. Hmm. Kitty— is that short for anything? May I call you that?" His fingers unfurl, then curl decisively: moving on. "I have this eensy favor to ask of you… a service. A need, really. And I have upmost faith that you're the lady for the job." From the container, he plucks up a cookie, crumples it delicately in half, and then spends the next seconds wiping excess crumbs from off of his tailored pants. "If you're feeling up to allowing us your gift, that is."

"Just Kitty, mom liked it." Kitty says with a soft sigh and then she's munching on her cookie and pondering Roman before nodding. She leans forward with a pointed look and then over her shoulder before looking back. Speaking as she has her head turned to the door.

"Yes?" A yes to his questions? Her eyes come alight with something as she swings her head back around and gives Roman a secret smile. "Yes." She nods her head after repeating the word and tapping the toe of her boot lightly.

A brisk tip up of Roman's mouth makes his smile as fit to form as his suit — and as if the expression could be worn and exchanged the same as the clothes. "I am but a humble man," he explains, nothing modest about his ability to sound so, "Of but humble means. But in you, and others like you, I see my faith rewarded. And amen."

Said and witnessed. A hand to the desk, he pushes himself up with a roll out of the chair, smoothly setting the container of cookies on another, unused portion of his desk and freeing the two files he'd so specially placed ahead of him. Rather than pick them up, he nimbly flicks one open, idly scans a line or so, then closes it as easily. "Well, then, miss Kitty. My name's Roman. And I have a feeling it's going to be a pleasure." Sweeping a hand towards the door, he politely suggests she step to it first. "Shall we?"

"More then a man, superhuman." Kit sings softly before hopping to her feet and basically gliding to the door. Her eyes wide as she stops at the door and then takes a step outside. "We shall, Roman." She grins and waits for Roman to join her at the door.

"It's been so long.. I try to keep in contact." She admits in a bit of a sheepish look to the floor. Her elbow knocks against the door frame and she holds herself. "My.. my family needed me." More like, she needed them.

"Put on a happy face." It's a strange contrast, Roman's instruction versus the collection of leering Aztec art across the face blaring anything but. Smiles persist. He's wearing a fair one as he reaches out an arm, cupping near Kitty's shoulder to further escort her, but contact never quite brushing up. "We're a family here now, too, and there's good work to be done."

Security has not stopped barricading the door but Roman is quick to shoo them away, giving himself and Kitty a clear and private hallway to walk down. The Company man's hands wrap into his pockets and he indulges a brief and winding whistle that echoes wistfully down the corridor — the grey corridor; outside of the cultural enriched office, the four walls are dim and overbearing, so as to seem to occasionally grow narrower, closing in on a person. But upbeat Roman strolls, even as he guides them further and further into the annals, the darkened places, where he, once in a while, is called to swipe a security card or secure a thumb-pad to have access. "So," he pipes up conversationally, a glint of curiosity behind those glancing eyes, at one of those doors, "Angela tells me your power's done a bit of a rumba since the eclipse…"

"Family.." She echoes after him and then grins up at Roman. Nodding her head she walks with him. Kitty spins ahead a bit, twirling and such. Only stopping when Roman has to open the door, she hums along to Roman's whistle and shakes her hair out, clutching her messenger bag tight to her body. She stops and looks at Roman over her shoulder.

"A little." She offers with a innocent smile and a tapping of her leg.

"Well, shame to say, not the only thing that singular event has shaken up," professes the agent, unlatching a door privy to a considerable amount more of security than the previous before it. "And we're still picking up the pieces — which is where you come in, good Kitty." Boom. The door opens with an ominous authority, unpropelled by Roman, but driven by some signaled process beyond. With a rumbling, the heavy exterior gives way, opening to a row of exposed cells. Bare, dreary walls — not a sight anyone would want to repeat every morning — with the only break a reinforced off-spring of glass, sapping the units of all privacy or dignity.

They are no less than cages.

And each one is empty.

"All of these," Roman explains with a crisp gesture to the prisonerless prison, "used to hold some of the single most dangerous Evolveds the world has ever seen. And it is our solemn duty to see each of them returned."

He steps freely inside, but entrapment awaits the following precog. Not four walls, or locked doors, like the cells in front of her, but it seems to emanate from the ground. A grabbing around her toes, and then her ankle, like she's wearing an extra shoe, and it doesn't fit quite right. Heavy. But light. The other woman is dainty in size; Kitty's walking in another's footsteps.

"Hey" another voice echoes, like the whistles, without the original voice. Beckoning.

But the connection is wispy, lacking in connection where it started in pure power.

As Kitty listens to Roman, she runs a finger down the glass of one of the cells. Shivering as she tilts her head. She looks over to Roman, through the veil of her dark brown hair. "They're all gone, wandering the streets. Hiding in the shadows, other-." Kitty stops as that sensation comes over and she stops, blinking before looking up sharply.

"What." She says loudly to the voice, her eyes squint as she shudders and seems to be ignoring Roman now.

Having grown sharply attentive at Kitty's speaking, Roman's eyes widen a touch when she speaks, but he catches his lips softly parting and forces them together. It's only after a second, as the haze settles over the woman, that his voice breaks through, suggestively, "Kitty… what do you see?" Firm, but not intruding on her state of mind — as a hypnotist might keep a thread of reality in the mind of a patient.

And what she sees…

"No, the other one— I want to see the other one…" The woman's voice dances brightly, rendering gone the bland walls of cell and inviting in sunshine — a smatter of its warmth on Kitty's cheek. "I want — you have — in back." Small arms curve, one sliding above the other, separating the bend of some invisible fabric. Sweet eyes, close-cropped hair.

Zzzttt. Flickering, and gone, like a bad signal on a television set. But her presence thunders in Kitty's ears, forming pressure against the lobes as if she were standing, waiting to be battered in an oncoming storm, the tornado winds a torrential and unbeatable soundtrack.

Noticing the woman, Kitty blinks and moves forward as if to touch her before she vanishes and the sound of thunder takes over her hearing. Crying out, Kitty sinks to a squat, palms over her ears and eyes widen while hair lay over her face. Frightened, Kitty peeks up at Roman before falling back completely on her butt.

"You want what?" she calls out, her voice echoing on throughout the halls. She taps the toe of her boot nervously on the floor as Kitty propels herself back first into the wall, looking side to side in fear of the woman appearing again.

And that thunder.

Aching… the dull passing of a pain leaves Kitty on the floor, and before her only the sleek suited form of Roman, crouched warily close to the woman, his face a mask of concern around eyes that are pools of sympathy. The room they are in is less sympathetic to her back, cold and grey, but it is at least not the vibrancy of the vision and, uncompelled by its seer, it fades away until there's just Roman's calm voice and presence, compelling her with quiet, patience. And then a prompting, "Did you see — was it one of them — ?"

"Yes, she likes to look like a boy." She says in a whisper barely audible and then Kitty's frowns before slowly sliding up to her feet, back against the wall. "Wanted something." She sounds curious, hand pressed against the wall for support in case the vision comes again.

Kitty's hand goes out to touch Roman on the shoulder and she stares him dead in the eye. "What.. else?" she asks softly. What else did he want to tell her? What's her assignment?

Soft, but crisply expensive, fabric folds beneath Kitty's hand and for a second it seems like the thunder might be back — pulsating differently, a hint of deafening in those ears — requiring her to need such a support, but it vanishes as fast as it takes Roman to shift his weight, leaning out of the intensity of their stare with a blinking, pausing thought. "… She?" The concern in his eyes hardens into business, a calculating swiftness that briefly turns all of his features frozen until a quick lick of his lips animates him again. "You saw a girl? Kitty— tell me where she is."

"Not here."

Obviously, Kitty moves away from Roman and begins to walk down the hall again. She pauses in the middle of the hallway to look back at him with a slightly raised eyebrow. As if to ask if he's going to continue, she tries to convey what for some reason she can't seem to communicate aloud. She's not sure where the other woman is, not yet any way.

"She is looking for something, maybe now.. maybe in a couple hours." Kitty shrugs, you can never be too sure actually. Though Kitty could always guess. "Sunny." Another clue as she stares across the hall at the man in the nice suit.

A flicker of impatience in those previously kind eyes, Roman halts his first words, his mouth moving open then closed as he reformulates. Stretching to his height as the woman walks off, he fixes her every move with a purposed watch. "Concentrate harder. You can see it," a confident encouragement, loosing some of the edges he gained, though the imperative remains, "See where we can find her."

"For you." Kitty offers a sly smile and dips her head, closing her eyes and gripping one arm tightly with her hand. She likes Roman.. he's cute. She inhales deeply and goes to the place that she does where she knows something almost always triggers.. and then with a faint gasp. Her head snaps up and she opens her eyes, the usual doe brown fading to the milky white associated with her ability.

Her lips quiver as she attempts to open them and then she closes them. Whole body shaking, Kitty is doing as he asks… she's looking.

Static… channel-surfing of the mind… there's Roman, his gaze on her almost boyish in its expectation… then he's gone… then he's there. Gone. In one instant, the cells are filled end to end with railing, pacing individuals all in identical grey scrubs, tearing and raving at impenetrable glass with fists or fire — then they're gone too.

"Come to me"

And then the room is gone.

It's blessedly sunny, that bright circle lending an optimistic cheer to the outdoor gathering that dared weather to set-up tent after tent, stalls nestled cozily next to each other, and blockading off several streets in doing so. There's an enthusiastic bustle through, New Yorkers softening their characteristically frenzied pace to — what else — shop. Most are brisk, picking up scarves nearly identical to the name-brand ones around their necks, and then setting them down when it's the names that don't match. Others enjoy the folksy pairs of earrings, or the discounted base-ball cards, and home-made kitchen accessories — mitts, and placeholders crafted by those not in the business suits pounding pavement every day. Jewelry is crammed next to paintings crammed next to clothes crammed next to hood ornaments is crammed next to wind chimes.

It's a flea-market.

She jumps as the people behind the glass become visible, shrieking before the whole scene shifts and she's.. somewhere else. The young woman walks forward, looking at each stall. Curious at the things in front of her. "Flea market.." she says softly to herself and then she's moving ahead.

Someone said, come to me.. Kitty follows where she think she heard the voice coming from. Walking on tip toes, wind blowing in her hair. She squints up at the New York sky.

The call drifts on the wind, a string dancing in front of Kitty…

But there are many strings at the market, today. And there are so many voices.

"Come— " to the left; no, it's only a mother, "back here, right now, and stop touching things!" … " — to me?" Only two friends, passing earrings between each other, each attempting to keep a stronger hold against friendly appearances, "— cause I don't know if that's quite your color…" … "I want…" a man. He checks his watch, "to get out of here before the lunch rush, so, whenever you're good…"

People people people. Hordes of people, shifting around multitudes of objects, all clinking together and rattling, or chiming, and being crumpled into crinkling plastic bags, as cash is passed, and miniature registers ding money from one individual to another, easy as that.

There's a stall filled to brimming with hand-painted pottery. Seems to have been planned ahead, placed next to the one overflowing with the sweet smells and attractive colors of every flower that could be coaxed out during this season. Beyond come, a man breaks to the theme with a bunch of wrinkled classic me magazines, and a few overpriced comic books…

Briefly overwhelmed by all that's happening. Kitty moves ahead towards the man, towards his voice. Her eyes wide and hand coming out, she knows it's futile though. It never works. The young agent walks faster until she's full out running and skidding to a stop in front of the man. She peers up at him, eyes wide and hair blown behind her.

Greasy underneath his drawn hooded sweatshirt, familiar with the streets his booth is set up on, the man glares blearily at Kitty — no, a person whose future footsteps she's stepped into. A person holding out in front of their conjoined eyes the back of a comic book as it's examined critically, then turned over to the front for deliberation. A smooth, blue and green cracked asunder by violent yellow. Crisp edges crinkle under the bored hands of the comic examiner, further distorting the image.

"You wanna be more careful with that— ?" The owner criticizes. "It's not worth as much if you rip it— What the—!" The wind has become undetectable. Without so much as a whisper of a breath, the comic book in the person's — as if in Kitty's — hands fights its way to freedom with a whiplash effect — tearing through the air and off into the inner stalls of the flea-market. Its haphazard but purposeful plunge tears a line of red across the reaching hand that held it, the speed turning paper into knife for that instant.

The comic book is only the start.

Others — their stands — watches, and small jewelry, the edges of paintings in the stall next door — pebbles on the ground to the fluttering tops of the tents protecting people's wares all flutter in personified escapism, leaning into that one — central — point —


The vision, in the end, is what is collapsing. Snatched away as if by some hand, flying into the corner of Kitty's vision, summoned by the collapse of the ability around her where sunshine and stalls fade into gray walls and the wary blue eyes of the one watching the watcher.

As the vision collapses and ends for Kitty, she sucks in a deep breath and holds a hand out to lean against the wall of the hallway. She knows that ability.. she knows that.. The young woman looks up at Roman, "You want her? She'll be at a flea market." Breathing heavily, she stands up straight and walks right up to Roman.

Eyeing him, she circles the well dressed man and peers in at him. Stopping again right in front of him. Kitty places her hands behind her back. "Dizzymaking.." she rubs her forehead and looks up at the ceiling with a scowl.

"A flea market," Roman echoes the word, greedily sapping it up from Kitty's realization, but also slowing the term, evaluating it for all the seemingly inconsequential event doesn't seem worth. As he's circled by the small dark-haired vulture, the man gives no flinch. He's impeccable; he knows it; there isn't a single wrinkle in his suit, nor a fold out of place. Still, he raises a hand and turns the round gleam of one of his gold cufflinks. "Perhaps, then that's enough for today," he suggests warmly when his eyes find Kitty in front, and there's a new crease on him — his smile.

"We can see about the others soon enough, but there's no need to overexert you. The world works how the world works, and it's shown us the way. Let me show you out," his arm wraps behind Kitty, simultaneously meaning to lead her towards the door, and reach for the control that will allow it to open. "The guard can get you some lemonade or some such…"

"If you find them.."

Kitty peeks at Roman through the veil of her dark brown hair. "You have to treat them right, promise?" Her nose wrinkles as she allows herself to be led out, boots echoing on the hallway floor. She remembers these places.. when she worked here all so long ago.

"Can we get the others? I'm sure they miss it too.." she trails off, her fellow agents. Her other family, Kitty considers them.

"Promise." The thick, grandiose barrier door of Level 5 slams shut behind them, as punctuation to Roman's classic sincerity, deepening the word in his throat, the warmth on his face as he fashions a little wink for her. "Just think of us like good shepherds, Kitty. Bringing in the flock." His steps are smooth, carrying them swiftly away from the gloom of the underground cells… to the slightly higher gloom of the main corridors where, beyond in one direction awaits the exit — and the guards preparing to escort the precog through it — and in the other is Roman's path to work.

He stops on this crossroads, swaying to his way but pausing there, his hands in their pockets flaring out the jacket of his suit just so. "My dear," he addresses her with a glint in his eye, "If you're my compass, we'll bring in anyone you point to." From out of the folds of his pocket — a hand, offered to her. "It's going to be a pleasure working with you."

As Kitty listen to the man, she smiles briefly at him and squeezes his arm gently and with a dip of her head, scuffing the toe of her boot against the floor. And then she's nodding as they come to soon part, lifting her hand to gently lay it in his, her gaze becomes inquisitive as she studies their hands together, then she's grinning and nodding.

Beneath her fingers, squeezing, a roar. Then, they part and stand facing.

Her hand on his.

Strange, irregular and indiscriminate shapes, ripping into old formations, are cut forcefully out of the familiar patterning of the Earth, until whole pieces break completely from the mold. Streets, cities, state lines, borders of countries — whole continents rend asunder as the rumbling, impossible pressure tears out of the surface — a surface blown wildly part from part, creating whole pieces of land that tumble nowherespace. Wind rips up dirt from the ground, ravines gape open to swallow communities — pittance to the reality of the entire planet cracking entirely into two, irredeemable halves rent by a blast of —

That warm, friendly grip slips off, wrestling carefully away from Kitty's, the same as the man who owns it turns strictly on his heel, plodding with purpose down that path to his work. "Put on a happy face." Roman's gone; Kitty, alone, in a suffocatingly grey, but intact, foundation as the hallway grows long with the echoing whistle of the man parted.

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