A Place For Everything...



Scene Title A Place For Everything…
Synopsis Realizing that he doesn't belong on Pollepel Island, Howard Phillips embarks on a personal journey.
Date January 11, 2011

Pollepel Island

He shouldn't be here.

That very paradoxical notion is what is keeping Howard Phillips where he is right now. It has so many meanings, so many different iterations of here that he could apply it to. Right now, both the pier and Pollepel Island overlap in different ways, like a Venn Diagram of how screwed up his life has become since coming here.

Hot breath is visible as a cloud of steam where Howard stands on the shore ahead of the lightless pier extending out into the dark water of the Hudson. Far across the western shore on a distant bank the lights from the town of Cornwall are small and indistinct through a haze of lightly falling snow. Howard isn't dressed for the cold, he never is. Unbuttoned and worn open, his olive-drab jacket has seen so much abuse in its long life, patches torn off the shoulders and chest where discolorations and loose bits of threading are the only indication of where they once were. Internally, Howard likens himself to a discoloration and loose bits of threading, his absence will eventually be forgotten leaving people to wonder what was there at all.

Sneakers scuff at a few inches of accumulated snow on the pier underfoot, kept in place by mercifully calm winds. The worst of the storm coming has yet to hit, and Howard is hoping that the blizzard will keep Benji off of his trail for long enough to matter. Arms crossed over his chest, Howard's brows furrow thoughtfully and blue eyes focus on the reflection of light on the Hudson, yellow and faint where Cornwall glitters like a beacon of more distant shores than they really are.

The boat won't be here for another half hour, but the wintry cold and falling snow will keep Howard company.

Howard hates the snow, deep down.

It reminds him of his past.

Mount Natazhat Compound



Blinding whiteout conditions fills the dark of night beyond the enormous bay doors open to the whipping wind and freezing cold of the Alaskan countryside. Bright lights from within the hangar bay doors look out over the windswept and snow covered helipad and airstrip cut into the heart of the ice-crowned mountains reaching up into the starless sky.

A row of five security officers in matte black uniforms stand with assault rifles carried at-ease across their chests, snow goggles and fur-trimmed hoods keeping the biting cold from stinging exposed skin. The roar of a helicopter or jet or something rages outside, the only thing visible is a distinctly aircraft like silhouette and flashing red lights to indicate its presence.

Klaxons sound noisily through the facility behind them, where forklifts and cargo-moving vehicles drive down wide concrete-walled corridors. Maintenance workers in gray hustle about like bees working in a colony, white hard-hats bearing no branding or insignia, just like their featureless uniforms.

Through the open doors, silhouettes finally come into view. Two white-clad men in biohazard uniforms, black visored masks with respirator apparatus' connected to waist-mounted oxygen tanks storm ahead swiftly, their boots crunching in the snow. Between them, a limp figure is carried arm in arm, his legs dragging behind him and carving troughs through the snow.

The black-clad soldiers move aside for the Retrievers' entrance, even as a high-pitched whine and flare of light on the helipad serves to silhouette their outlines as the aircraft that brought them in begins to ascend back upwards towards the sky, red lights around its periphery flashing, yet several of the red lights haven't left the helipad either. Paired together, they stalk about in the blizzard and whipping snow, watching.

The bay doors begin grinding shut, even before the Retrievers drag their quarry inside all the way, but the forty-foot wide doors move with such a slowness and age that it is simply forward-thinking. Warning lights flash orange and yellow as the white-clad Retrievers drag the young and unconscious man into the front doors, a mop of unkempt hair hiding his face.

Boots scrape on the concrete floor, clumps of snow trailing behind as the Retrievers stop once through the doors, letting the young man collapse to his knees. Their hold on his arms keeps him upright, head bowed and shaggy hair hanging down over his face.

"Why isn't he in an ACTS container?" The question is bellowed across the corridor, cried out by a man in a sleek, dark suit run with ash gray pinstriping. His shoes clap against the ground, button-down white wool jacket flaring out behind him as he walks. "Are you trying to give him frostbite!? I told you idiots that I wanted him unharmed!"

One retriever looks to the other, neither willing to speak as the man hustles towards them, contempt and ire visible. The soldiers nearby seem nervous, though perhaps thankful that the wrath of the darkly dressed man is not directed onto them instead. They linger for a few moments longer, casting suspicious glances to the man slouched forward and drugged, then begin to break off and head back to their posts as the heavy bay doors finally seal shut with a grinding of metal and a noisy hiss of pressurized hydraulics.

«There weren't any ACTS available when he was taken, and we had orders to move him immediately.» One of the retrievers finally says, a female voice sounding cold and impersonal when filtered through the voice synthesizer on the respirator, a crackling pop on either end of her words.

The other Retriever remains silent and stoic, his faceplate hiding his expression and dully mirroring the vitriolic expression of the man assailing them verbally. "Is he alive?" The question is asked sharply, accusingly, and the tone that Richard Cardinal takes with the two Retrievers isn't one that they are used to.

«He's fine, just been drugged, Sir. Where do you want him moved to?» The woman asks, looking the darkly-dressed figure up and down, she too emotionless looking with her face concealed by the black-tinted visor of her respirator mask. Cardinal's lips sag down into a scowl, lips purse and one hand smooths over his stubbled jaw.

"You," Cardinal points towards one of the soldiers still watching the entrance hall, "take these Retrievers down to surgery prep." The darkly-dressed officer offers an askance look to the white-clad Retrievers, then down to the prostrate young man hunched forward and lifeless looking as he is. A curt nod of recognizing precedes the security officer moving over to the Retrievers, shouldering his rifle and motioning for them to follow.

Visors turn to visors, and the Retrievers share a look between one another, before hoisting the young man up again. This time when he's moved, there is a groggy and faint sound of awareness that comes through the drugged stupor and haze. "Wait," Cardinal interjects, stopping the three before they can head off. He takes a few hasty steps forward, then drops down into a crouch in front of the blearily conscious young man, lifting one black-gloved hand to his chin to lift his face up.

"For what it's worth," Cardinal murmurs with a furrow of his brows, "I'm sorry it had to come to this…" Another gloved hand sweeps aside a lock of the young man's dark hair, and Cardinal tries to meet unfocused eyes staring back vacantly at him.

"But after what I've seen you become, I'm doing you a favor, Aric."

Dismissing the Retrievers, Cardinal slowly rises up to stand and watch them drag Aric Gibbs off.

Sacrifices must be made.

Pollepel Island

Beacon, New York

Through the haze of falling snow, the sound of an approaching motor-boat engine stirs Howard from his thoughts. One bare hand wipes across his face, followed by a dry swallow and a sweep of his tongue over chapped lips. Other people are waiting here now, couriers and supply runners, less than six if he's bothered to estimate a head count.

Clearing his throat and listening to the sound of the distantly approaching engine, Howard rolls his shoulders and looks down to his feet where sneakers have tread across the fallen snow, leaving impressions that will be quickly covered up by the worsening precipitation and the blowing wind. Turning to look back over his shoulder, Howard stares past the heads of the people gathered on the shoreline before the pier, up towards Bannerman Castle's dark silhouette rising up through the treeline.

Regret briefly crosses the young man's features, in consideration of the friends he is leaving behind here. But Nora, Benji and Hannah can take care of themselves. They have their own lives to lead, their own work to do, and none of it runs concurrently with what Howard is planning, and what steps he plans to take to do it.

A brief flicker of light in Howard's peripheral vision returns his attention to the sound of the approaching boat, a quick three-pulse of a flashlight to indicate to the people on the shore the identity of the boat. Two more pulses followed by a long third comes from one of the Ferrymen on the shoreline, responding to the vessel. Howard's brows tense, his whole body tenses.

It isn't the water that's making him nervous.

It's going it alone.

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