A Modern Day Masada


delia_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif megan_icon.gif ryans3_icon.gif

Scene Title A Modern Day Masada
Synopsis Eileen entrusts Benjamin Ryans and his youngest daughter with one of the network's most closely guarded secrets.
Date November 2, 2010

Pollepel Island

There is no other word to describe the old military surplus house on Pollepel Island than fortress. Ruddy stone walls covered in withered vines of brittle brown ivy rise up from the gnarled earth and form tall towers like the buttresses of a castle, complete with windows that appear to be the size of matchboxes from where Benjamin and Delia Ryans stand on the newly-repaired docks: the only way on and off this small piece of land situated in the middle of the Hudson River some fifty miles North of New York City.

It is not yet light out, but the sun's creeping ascent colours the sky — its moon and stars still visible — a pale shade of purple not very far removed from the silver fog that covers the island and obscures it from view, but all the way out here there is very little except for the threadbare trees and the railroad tracks that run parallel to the river on the shore.

That is to say: as far as secret fortresses go, the woman who brought them here could not have picked a better location. Behind them, the boat that provided safe passage from Staten Island all the way to Pollepel sits idle, its captain slumped in the cabin with his cap pulled down over his eyes and booted feet up on the vessel's wheel. It's five o'clock in the morning, and until his passengers are finished here, he's going to take the opportunity to catch up on sleep.

"There are only a handful of Ferry operatives aware of its existence," Eileen is explaining, and as she speaks her breath leaves her mouth as a fine white vapour, "and if the network is to survive the blow we've spent the last nine months bracing for, it should remain that way until the evacuation. I haven't decided where the field hospital should be, but the Maxwell Corporation gifted us the necessary funds to put toward repairs. No electricity except for the generators, but some of the rooms have running water, and there's a well on the property for those who don't. I realize this is far from ideal."

"Considering the resources the network has, this is impressive," Benjamin Ryans says softly, as if the area warranted a softer more reverent tone. A chilly morning breeze shifts stands of hair across his forehead, which on occasion need to be brush aside with a hand.

He's tucks his hands into the pockets of his thick canvas jacket, each breath exhaled into a mist. He takes a few steps forward, the steps sounding hollow on the rebuilt dock. Gaze drifting over what he can see of the buildings, the lines at the corner of his eyes deepen as he narrows them.

"Getting everyone out here will be tricky," Ryans attention turns back to the young women, especially the young councilwoman. "You all have a plan for that, I assume?" Though it's hard to read his expressions, there is a curiosity to his tone, brows ticking up ever so slightly. "I mean, I know it will be by boat." His head tips in the direction of the one waiting. "But such a mass exodus will, of course draw attention."

During the entire fifty mile trek, Delia's been watching out the back of the boat. She didn't turn around until they reached the dock, even then she didn't look beyond where here feet needed to be. Until she was sure of her safety.

Dressed in her shearling coat, red mittens, striped scarf and toque to match, she seems more ready for winter than a trip to the promised land. Though Eileen is no Moses or Noah, the promise of salvation rests on her shoulders. Delia doesn't share that weight, hers is the part of the healer. The petite brunette isn't cutting corners or trying to build up what faces the redhead upon arrival.

The first glimpse of the fortress earns an awestruck breath that comes in the shape of a wisp, as though her soul was leaving her body. Her long legs take steps a few further past Benjamin and Eileen both, stopping at the base of the dock before she finally steps on land. It's not dry, the morning frost gives it the crunch of breaking crystals with that first footprint, then another. "I'll figure out a way to make it work…" she says quietly of the proposed amenity. In truth, she has no choice but to do just that.

"Based on the information Colette was able to collect, I've faith enough that the fighting and smoke from the Queens fire should cover our escape. We'll try to jam any transmissions that threaten to relay the convoy's location to the military, but there's always a chance a flyby will catch us on the move regardless, so as many of the evacuees as possible will need to be armed." Eileen leads father and daughter down the length of the dock and off the worn wooden planks. A winding dirt path snakes through the trees up ahead, the maw of the forest that surrounds the castle dark, yawning, and full of thorny teeth, but this is something the Englishwoman navigates without her cane thanks to the barn owl swimming soundlessly through the branches above their heads. Like Delia and Ryans, she's dressed for cold weather in a double-breasted coat made of wool, lambskin gloves and leather boots with a flat heel.

"The castle itself is large enough to accommodate a hundred refugees," she says. "Living quarters, kitchen and supply storage are on the ground floor and below to avoid attracting unwanted attention. We can allow people above ground after dark, and during daylight hours in small groups after enough time has passed. I've made arrangements to have the necessary supplies delivered to a rendezvous point two miles downriver by Staten smugglers twice a week for the next month. Any longer than that and I'll have to renegotiate the contract. Money's always a concern, but I'm more worried about how we're going to defend ourselves out here, which is what I need you for, Mr. Ryans."

Gravel and dirt crunch under booted heels, as Ryans follows the Ferrywoman. A hand reached up to pushed a thin low hanging branch out of his way, head ducking beneath it and glancing behind him, before letting it go.

"Might be beneficial to get some camouflage netting. Surplus shops should have those." Ben glances up at the trees and then out, thoughtful. A few longer steps bring him up alongside Eileen, a hand sweeping out at some of the thicker areas of trees. "It will allow you to put a few people outside, whether for protection and what not. No fires, have to figure how some sort of heating at night that won't give away our position."

He glances back at his daughter and then at Eileen, brows furrowing a little as he considers this small petite woman, no older then his daughter, yet seemed old beyond those short years. "But why me?" he asks gruffly. Benjamin knows what so many think of him and his. "Are you sure the Ferrymen, will even accept the help of a former Company agent?"

She'd fallen into line a few steps behind Ben and when that branch whips back into place it snaps just over her head, thanks to a handy duck. Her hat wasn't so fortunate as to have missed the blow entirely and the large pompom on the top suffered for it. Bits of red fluff stick to the thorny branch as she tries to wrestle herself free from its confines. Finally, the young woman is left to resort to pulling the hat off to loosen it from the whip's grip.

Her footsteps fall heavy as she runs forward a few paces to catch up to her father and the leader of the expedition. Placing the cap back on her head, she marvels at the way Eileen is able to navigate through the brush unscathed, especially with her sightlessness. "What about kerosene heaters? Do they give off smoke?" Her suggestion strikes a tone of naivety as she doesn't actually know of any methods of heating that don't use power or give off smoke. "Is there someone with an ability that could heat the inside at night?" Winter time in any building made of stone is going to be frightfully chilly, especially at night.

"Who better to help safeguard those under the Ferry's protection than someone whose career was founded on hunting them?" Eileen asks. "I want your help because you were a former Company agent, and anyone who takes issue with your involvement is welcome to confront me about it at the next council meeting. If they do, they'll have more than just me to contend with — I'd wager you've got the majority of Gun Hill standing behind you, and failing that there's always Bennet. Our people will listen to him.

"It certainly helps," she adds, turning her head just enough to address Delia, "that you have such a lovely daughter." Where the trees thin out and the castle wall casts a shadow across the moonlit path, a pair of reinforced doors have been left open in anticipation of their arrival. From inside, a distant susurrus of murmured voices echoes through the corridors; evidently, Eileen and her companions are the only ones at the site this morning, and with the eighth of November now less than a week a way, that makes sense. When she told them that only a handful of operatives knew the island's location, she likely meant to include those working on any last minute repairs and construction. "Kerosene produces negligible fumes. It's the best option we have."

"An Atmokinetic could, but that is a lot of work for anyone, to sustain," Benjamin states with the patience of a teacher, not having a problem with the questions. "It would be better to make sure they are bundled well and use the kerosene." As he talks he almost sounds distracted, but then his gaze is on the castle.

"You know… as a boy, I use to pretend to be a knight in a castle, saving this one little girl…" There is actually a twitch of his lip. "… from the evil dragon that was my brother." Glancing at Delia, he adds for her benefit, "Your Uncle Brick." There is a softly huffed chuckle. "Now I'm defending one."

Turning his back on it, he looks out over the area around the castle, noting various points. "It is defendable. If we can get our hands on the right components I can put together some explosives for the water ways around the perimeter." He was after all a S.E.A.L. and part of their heritage was water demolition. "However…" He turns back towards the castle on the hell of one foot, giving a concerned look to Eileen. "You realize this could quickly become a modern day Masada," he says it as a simple fact, not a question.

Only one real way in and out, if you don't count the air, they were good as caught if the government ever got wind of the island. Just what he knows of the Ferry within Gun Hill, there would be a hell of a fight.

The mention of Brick has Delia's eyebrows furrowing slightly and looking down at the ground as she walks. A man that her father never talks about. She lifts her eyes just enough to stare at the back of Benjamin's head but only for a few paces before he mentions the holiest of haunted places. "Masada was defended for a long time… All we have to do is live it out for a while… Maybe things will be good. Maybe someone will … I don't know… Maybe something will change."

All Delia is really concerned about right now is living until Thanksgiving, hopefully Christmas. Maybe by then they will have started trickling to more livable places. "How many people are you expecting to evacuate? You said this place holds about a hundred, right? Is that enough?" In a city of five million, the redhead isn't so sure that one hundred people represents even a slice of how many evolved are there.

"I'm no Elazar ben Ya'ir," Eileen corrects Ryans gently, because Delia has already pointed out what good came from the settlement, "and as much as I favour death over surrender, that's a decision the council isn't prepared to make for anyone but ourselves." Though this isn't to say she wouldn't offer others the option, and there's something mournful in her tone that conveys the message her carefully guarded body language does not.

"After the raid on the Institute facility on Staten Island, we lost more than a third of our operatives, not just in the battle itself, but in the aftermath. We'll lose even more if the visions come to pass — those who aren't arrested, killed or evacuated will leave the network on their own, and as the work becomes more dangerous, fewer people are going to commit to it. I'll be surprised if we have more than a hundred at all after Christmas."

Lips press together in a fine line, neutral but not exactly happy, but his head nods slowly. "True." Hands slight into his pockets again as he regards the castle. "Who else will be looking at the defense of the island?" Ryans asks because of one fact — "If the visions end up as truth, I will not be here to defend her."

His head turns slightly to look at Delia and Eileen out of the corner of his eye. "Till then, I can do what I can to prepare the place." Such as the explosives. "Not that I really plan to just lay down and let it happen, but —" What goes unspoken is the fact, that even with knowledge the future is uncertain.

"I will do what I can for the network, while I can. You can count on that, Ruskin," he states gruffly, with a short firm nod of his head. Determination actually shows on his normally emotionless features.

"No, yours isn't going to come true. I'm going to stay here instead of going to mine. I'll wait here for people to arrive…" Turning to Eileen, Delia shoves her hands in her pockets and tries to keep her lips from turning downward. Her gaze fall toward her feet, watching as she shuffles against the floor. Her breath steams out of her nose, making her look like an angry bull from a cartoon.

After only a moment's silence she looks up again, an expression of determination covering her features. "I'm going to come the day before, if that's okay… Get everything set up to expect the first people to arrive. If I'm here before any injured people, I'll be able to help more. I'll be fresh and I won't be tired… or scared… or worried." The last word is exclamated with a pointed stare at her father. "I'm not going to need you and I'm not going to sacrifice you so… No. You'll be here."

"There's a groundskeeper's cottage on the island that we've done some work on as well," says Eileen, "for whoever volunteers to remain on after we're able to return to New York and keep an eye on things here. It's small, a little outdated, but it has its own kitchen and two small bedrooms. More than enough room for the two of you, if you decide to stay here until the eighth—"

She stops as — up ahead at the end of a narrow corridor — she catches sight of a statuesque woman with handsome features and a headful of rich copper-coloured hair, and her mouth curves around a knowing smile. "Megan," she calls, and she does not have to raise her voice for it to carry. The castle's acoustics do that for her. "I'd like you to meet your new assistant and her father. This is Delia Ryans — she runs Dr. Price's old clinic at Gun Hill, and Benjamin is a friend of Noah's. She'll be helping you organize the field hospital.

"Delia, this is Mrs. Young, head of the network's medical branch."

Looking up at the call, Megan Young is not terribly old. Perhaps 40-ish or a bit over. She carries herself tall and straight, a bearing straight from the military that just is inbred in vets no matter how long they've been out. "Eileen," she greets mildly as she comes down the hall toward the two people. She quirks a brow, eyeing Delia. "Pleased to meet you both," she says, holding out her hand to shake both of theirs. Blue eyes slide to the elder Ryans as well, a faint smile playing about her lips as she makes no mention of meeting Delia before.

There is disapproval in the look he gives his youngest daughter, but Ryans doesn't say anything for the moment, there will be plenty of time, after the fact. For now however, while still watching his daughter he states, "I promised Lynette I'd help with Gun Hill, so no… I'll be staying in New York til the 8th." Glancing at Eileen, he adds, "Though I do appreciate the offer."

That said he turns to the introductions, offering a polite incline of his head, "Pleasure." He offers to the older redhead, his voice a deep rumble, managing to even offer a hint of a smile in return, taking the offered hand briefly. "Eileen was just showing us around."

The young woman's blue eyes widen with recognition as the middle aged redhead comes into view, the pretty nurse from the center. They switch to give her father a furrow browed glance, "Of course, Lynette." The young redhead's attitude toward the blonde turned a complete 180 in a short timespan.

Turning back to Megan, she gives a tentative smile and reaches out to shake her hand in both of hers. It's given a vigorous shake as that smile widens to a crooked one. "H-hi.. I doubt you remember me but I met you at the Suresh Center once… With Doctor Brennan." The smile wanes a little bit and she finally lets go of her hand, tucking hers back into the pockets of her raw leather coat.

Megan smiles. "Actually, I do," she replies easily. A glance is flickered to the girl's father. "I see you finally talked to him. That's good." The man himself is sized up with a stern eye and she nods slightly. "So, you're going to be helping out staffing and stocking this place. Well, it's a big job. We've only got a limited amount of time to make it viable, too, obviously. So all the hands I can get will be welcome."

The stern look gets a slight ticking up of a brow and a brief flicker of amusement, before Ryans head turns enough to send a questioning look to his daughter. What has Delia been telling people? "I've been asked to help handle the defenses," he explains, when his gaze flicks back to Megan.

"And it does sound like we are working on borrowed time." There is a sigh from the old — well mentally old — man, his gaze drifting to the castle. "Not sure how fast I can get things together for this, though, I imagine the Ferrymen have some resources." His lips press into a thoughtful line as he glance around them again.

That questioning glance is ignored without even the slightest hint of acknowledgment, all of Delia's focus is on the redhead in front of her, her new boss. "… Yeah, I uhm.. I don't know how many to expect, or what to expect. Do we have doctors too?" She's almost afraid to ask about Doctor Brennan, the man is too into registration and doing the right thing. This sort of place wouldn't bode well with him as far as she can see.

"I have books… I've taken out bullets but nothing major…" Her experience has been limited, is what she's trying to say without actually saying it. Chewing on her lower lip, she digs her hands further into her pockets and furrows her eyebrows a little more. "My sister, she can help too. She's been studying anatomy."

"We're always working on borrowed time," Megan replies mildly. She tends to be damn calm in most conditions. "We have some paramedics, but admittedly doctors are in woefully short supply. Mostly…. we're on our own. I can coach you through a lot of it, but if we require major surgery." She pauses and then shrugs. "We do what we can."

"You'll do fine, honey." Ryans rumbles out in calm encouragement, patting the younger red head on the shoulder as he steps past, letting the two of them talk about medical things, that probably go right over his head. Once he passes Megan, he glances back at his youngest with an encouraging smile.

A callused hand brushes at the mossy bricks with a sort of hidden wonder, brows drifting downward as his own thoughts turn inwards to what is ahead. So much to do and so little time. Benjamin glances at the two red heads, especially Megan at her wording.

Then a thought occurs to him and it has him glancing around for Eileen, he asks an important question, "Are we dark out here?" Pulling his hand away from the wall. "I mean technology wise? Cell, satellite or even radio?"

Delia's shoulder jerks away under Benjamin's hand, as if the simple pat causes pain. He gets a small frown for his kind words, someone's feelings have been hurt… somehow.

Nodding to Megan as the more experienced of the two nurses gives her the rundown on what staff they have, what they need, and what they are short on. "I'm a roadside doctoring genius.." she offers with a little bit of a smile. "I mean… making do with what I have instead of what I don't… But paramedics? Really? I mean… that's great. My uhm.. my sister… she'll…" Her words are jilted and halted as she glances at her father quickly before continuing. "She's like a pharmaceutical genius." Good compromise.

"I'm leaving explicit instructions with the operatives on the boats to make sure that no electronics are brought onto the island that can be traced." Which means no cellular phones, but on the subject of radios— "We have a ham on site," Eileen tells Ryans, "but we'll only be giving Special Activities and Intelligence authorization to use it, and only in case of an emergency. It's as dark as the network can afford to make it."

Her owl, which has spent the last few minutes perched in the nearest window, absent of glass, wings down and lands on her outstretched arm, which is protected from its talons by the thick woolen material of her coat and whatever else she wears layered beneath it. Mournful black eyes meet Ryans' much paler blue. "I'd like to to speak with Jensen Raith if you could. He has some ideas of his own, and I'm interested to see how well the two of you match up."

Megan looks between the younger redhead and her parent, but leaves that conversation perhaps for another time. "I'm sure it'll be all kinds of useful — especially if painkillers and such can't be located. C'mon, I'll walk you through the lab," she tells Delia. "You can get acquainted."

"Good." He at least sounds pleased about that, head nodding ever so slowly. Of course, Ben is watching his daughter out of the corner of his eye. "I think the short range walkie to allow for lookouts to communicate and for boats to identify themselves as they come in, would be useful."

The snap and whistle of the bird's wings has him looking at the bird, even if the words come from the woman. Eileen's ability has a fascinating quality to it. "Gladly." Ryans says after a a moment longer of studying the owl and it's perch. "I was relieved to know he got away from the ambush all those months ago." Though one can't really tell from the neutral tones and expression, he was very glad the other man had gotten away. "Though it seems we both fell into that trap in the end.

"I'll be interested to hear what he has in mind as well," Ryans adds honestly. "And I think it's time I judge the commitment of my own people, trained Company Agents would be useful for any fight. I won't tell them about this place," — even he knows that it is too much of a risk yet, at least til he knows where they all stand. — " but I do want to see if they are on board to protect what you all have."

"Pain killers, got it.." The young nurse will be giving her sister a tremendous task for studying, even offering herself up as a guinea pig if need be. "Do you have any ideas for heat? I mean, I know cooler conditions are ideal but any inured people we get will already have lowered immune systems…"

Delia's voice drifts off as she walks down the corridor with Megan, finally fading away to a quiet din as she's led into the field hospital where they'll be operating. From behind, they're almost like twins with their straight bearing and squared shoulders. One big difference is how the younger one reacts when spoken to, almost flinching or hunching her shoulders in shame when addressed. It's the confidence the older one has that will make or break the student.

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