bennet_icon.gif hana_icon.gif helena_icon.gif

Scene Title Proposition
Synopsis Noah and "Wireless" approach Helena with a curious offer.
Date October 24, 2008

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Exactly where land gives way to water at this point of the island's edge is uncertain - first because of the saltgrass growing everywhere, both on dry earth and in the shallows, giving the illusion of solidarity; second for the structures visible in the distance, drawing the eye away from the deceptive ground, suggesting its reach extends beyond its grasp. Even if the structures are still recognizable as ships, and nothing that ever belonged on land.

There are a multitude of them, abandoned hulls of salt-stained wood and rust-pitted steel, dying slow and ungraceful deaths as wind and water claim their dues. Some still appear to rest upright, braced upon the debris of older, lost relics below; others list to one side, canted at an odd angle like someone who just struggled to the surface in search of a desperate breath. There are no hands to pull these hulks from the water, no ropes to save them from drowning; each has been surrendered to the sea, left to the ravages of unmerciful time.

At low tide, some of the closer ships can be reached - not without getting soaked, but such is the price of daring. Never mind that the rotting metal and splintered wood are the stuff of nightmares for any germophobe, definite hazards to the unwary. The more distant ships are distant indeed, beyond the reach of all but the most bold - and are all but submerged besides.

Received the message by way of the complicated cycle of emails and texts that the two groups often seem to circulate, but the point is, she got the message, and so here she is, clad in her by now almost iconic too-large jacket, a cap jammed down on her head. The chill of the air makes her shiver a little, and she might by some perceptions, seem terribly petite, a little girl playing big girl games. But the set of her mouth and straightening of her spine suggest adulthood far further along then most young women her age.

In the distance, a fog horn sounds — a forlorn call that goes unanswered — and illuminated by the light of the moon, the large shape of Noah Bennet steps out from inside the hollow shell of a rusted hull, dressed in a simple gray windbreaker and a pair of khaki-coloured slacks. The moon reflects off the lenses of his glasses and the polished leather of his loafers as he crosses the distance between the boat and Helena, silent but for the sound of his feet scuffing across the gravel. "I appreciate you meeting me such short notice," he says so not to startle her, "though I have to admit, I'm surprised you risked coming alone."

"Sometimes folks aren't around to spare." Helena says quietly. "And I can take care of myself." She doesn't bother playing the 'how do you know I don't have backup' game with Noah. "To be honest, I was surprised to hear from you. I figured your people might be less than thrilled with mine after the evac when we found Cameron's body." Her tone remains level when she says it, and she's proud of herself for that.

"Some are," Hana remarks in her usual blunt fashion. The sound of her voice indicates her position — precariously tucked up onto the ruined ship, dark and cool gaze turned down towards the other two. Wearing her typical black leather coat and black pants, only the ex-operative's face can really be considered visible. "But worse has been done. We can live with it." Hana manages not to glance at Noah when she says that. It's quite an accomplishment, for her.

Although it can't be seen in the dark, the corner of Noah's mouth tips up into the smallest of smiles at Hana's response. "You have our condolences," he tells Helena. "I didn't exactly see eye-to-eye with Mr. Spalding, but what happened to him was— unfortunate." He lifts his chin, pausing to listen to the waves lapping up against the shore of the graveyard, and when he's satisfied that this is the only thing he can hear above the breeze, he turns his attention back to the young woman in front of him. "My sources tell me that you've taken the reigns in his absence."

Helena blanches a little bit at Hana's assessment but seems willing to at least look Noah in the eye. "Thank you." she says quietly to the offer of condolence. And then she shrugs. "Yes." she says. "With Peter gone, and Claire with her grandmother, and me having sort of been herding people anyway, that's what seems to be happening. We've got stuff in the works, and I'm trying to steer us away from violence and more toward civil disobedience, but I don't know how long we can avoid it being necessary."

"Or how long you can keep everyone in line?" Some would make it a pointed question. With Hana speaking, it isn't really that much of a question. Hana starts to speak, then closes her mouth again, letting Noah do the interpersonal stuff. He's better at it. Much better. The technopath doesn't fidget in any way they'd detect, but Noah can probably imagine the impatient tapping of her fingers against the surface of one holstered gun.

"I'm guessing what's necessary and what isn't depends on who you ask," Noah says, his smile fading. "You've done a bang up job so far, Helena, but with Spalding gone and Peter playing Company Man, it's only a matter of time before somebody else, somebody older, tries to wrestle control away from you. Saying that you'll steer PARIAH away from violence is one thing — enforcing a new way of thinking is something else entirely." Noah takes a seat on a barnacle-infested bolder, his arms folded across his chest as if trying to hold the warmth of his body inside his jacket. His breath comes out in the form of a fine, silvery mist as he speaks. "Wireless and I have spent the last few days discussing your future, and in doing so the future of the people who follow you as well. We want you to join the Ferrymen."

Helena blinks, tilting her head back. "A bang up job." she says slowly. "We've found a headquarters, kept our security up, kept our assets secure, and maintained our finances. Why don't your people join PARIAH instead?" She's listening, but she can't help but bristle a little. The idea of others discussing her future and the future of PARIAH makes her feel like she somehow got shunted to the kiddie table.

"I run a network, not an organization." Noah's tone remains cool, professional. "Our goal is to keep people safe and out of Homeland Security's hands. There's a lot that you don't know, a lot that Spalding didn't know. If he'd kept his ear a little closer to the ground, he might even still be alive. What do you really think you can accomplish under PARIAH's name? Everything you do will be coloured by the negative association that comes with it. You want to see change? Then change. Cut loose the dead weight, the people who are in it for the glory and the killing. I'm not asking you to give up everything you've done since your friend's death. I'm asking you to start fresh in the company of people who see things the same way you do."

"I know the way things are going." Helena says. "Registration's just the start. I know my history. It's just going to get worse. But all I've seen the Ferrymen do is move people around. That's noble and all," and she means that, "But there has to be someone to actually take a stand. To try and inspire others, to make them see. You may see things the same way Mr. Bennet, but you don't take the same steps or pursue the same effort. You run a network, but I run an organization. So what would you have us do?"

"If we didn't want what you are doing, we wouldn't make the offer," Hana chimes in, looking down at Helena. After a moment, she jumps lightly over the jagged and rusting rail of the ship, landing lightly on the ground a bit away from the other two. "We'll back that with our network — and our experience. Our training, if you want it." The woman's dark eyes harden, reminiscent of the way she walked out from her last run-in with Helena. "But not terrorist bombings," she says coldly; another nerve, it seems.

Hana's firmly spoken caveat gets a nod from Noah. He doesn't want any of that, either. "Come over to us under a new name. You'll retain independence and control over the people you bring with, but you'll have permanent access to our safehouses and the information Wireless pulls from Homeland Security." Noah tightens his grip on his arms, fingers burrowing into the material of his jacket. "What I'm about to tell you isn't something I want you repeating to anyone outside your most trusted circle. I want your word before we go any further."

Helena's mouth curves into a frown. "The last time there was a bombing was before Peter showed up, and I was one of the ones who objected. There hasn't been one since, and especially not under me. So stop hanging that over our heads, Hana." Daaamn. For all that Helena admires the woman, apparently some of that hard earned chutzpah has given her the spine to volley back to her 'role model'. She looks back to Bennet. She nods. "I can do that. You've got it. My word, I mean."

Hana isn't much perturbed by the volley, display of chutzpah or no. She just looks levelly at Helena. "Then you'd better keep a close eye on your people. Cryptic messages have become common since Spalding's death; so far as I can tell, they're deliberately excluding you." Her eyes flick to Noah, and the woman nods briefly, ceding the figurative floor back to him.

"There are members of your organization who object to your objection," Noah points out mildly, "and they will make their move. Soon." He doesn't linger on this topic of conversation for very long, however. There are more important things he wants to discuss. "You're already aware that the government has a tier system in place, designed to assess threats posed by the Evolved population. What you don't know is that it's more expansive than public records reflect. There are a series of private holding facilities packed to the gills with men, women and children who have been removed from their homes under the cover of darkness and imprisoned by the very people who are supposed to be protecting them. It's also been brought to our attention that there's a test in development — one meant to identify Evolved individuals using only a few droplets of their blood. We have strong reason to believe more people will start disappearing once the test is implimented. You need us now, Helena, just as we need you."

Helena keeps her surprise held in at Hana's revelation, but it's a struggle. Her surprise at Noah's announcement, however, she does not bother to hide, and it's one of naked horror. "They've gone that far already?" Camps. Experiments. Detection. "Dealing with that is going to require violence. Those people…" She shakes her head. But yes, she does see it now. She looks away from them both for a few moments, thinking. Then finally, "I need to talk to my people. I'll keep what you've said quiet, but - we're not going to be able to keep it hidden for long, you know that, don't you? Even if we say nothing about people being imprisoned in experimental camps, they'll want to react to the testing when it's announced." Her face takes on a pinched look. "Some of us are going to have to be violent in response to the violence that's issued toward us." This is too much. "I need to talk to my people." she repeats.

"There's violence, and there's terrorism," Hana states. The cold steel of her voice draws the line between very distinctly — and the frustration wound around that tone suggests she'd be right there with them on the 'violent action'. "Call us when you've made your decision." The woman steps back quietly, her dark-clad form soon swallowed by the shadows. She's said what she wanted to say — and they can both reach her easily if she's needed.

"We would have come to you sooner," Noah says, an apologetic note creeping into his voice as Hana disappears into the darkness, "but I had no guarantee Spalding wouldn't lash out at the wrong people. If you want to strike against Homeland Security, against the internment camps, then I'll support you provided you help protect our safehouses in return." If he was about to expand on this condition, he doesn't get the chance to follow through. The foghorn lets out another low wail, and this time it's accompanied by a pair of headlights blinking into existence about half a mile off the shore. These waters aren't regularly patroled by government boats, but it's a risk Noah isn't willing to take. "You know how to get in touch." It isn't a question. "Go."

Helena wanted very much to ask Hana about these mysterious messages - but the darkness is swallowing the pair up. It'll have to wait. She backs away, until their figures are faded in entire, and then turns into the night herself, another figure in the darkness, letting it swallow her up.

October 24th: One Plus One
Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

October 24th: Pestilence
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