Also featuring: Special Agent Johnson

Scene Title Ananke
Synopsis Greek myth.: The goddess whose dominion is necessity, constraint, confinement, and all bonds both physical and emotional, from prison shackles to kinship and love.

Homeland Security's mouthpiece pays Hana a visit, attempting to find any heartstring he can tug at in order to coerce her cooperation. His reception is cold indeed — but ultimately this is just round one, and his superiors can afford that.
Date December 13, 2009

A Homeland Security Holding Cell

This isn't the first time Hana's been on the wrong side of a cell; and this one looks very familiar. It can't be the same cell Goodman kept her in for those few days — Primatech Research is no more — but it may as well have been designed by a closely related architect. One with a complete lack of capability in interior design. Bare concrete, at least, she's used to; and if the bed is about as hard as the floor, well, she's used to sleeping on that, too. There are no windows in this cell, unless you count the bulletproof viewplate currently polarized to its opaque setting — and its other side is not outside.

The silence of the room matches the silence in her head. For once, Hana is alone with her own thoughts — and after two weeks, this has given the Israeli woman a whole new appreciation of the word alone.

Or perhaps an old one. The distinction is academic.

No window; no clock, internal or otherwise; nothing by which to mark the time except meals, and she doesn't rely on that interval remaining consistent. Her entertainment is limited to such exercise as can be done in a confined space or within the greatly diminished range of her thoughts. Neither are idle, despite Hana Gitelman's current constraints — which is likely some small part of the reason her confinement is scrupulously solitary and without reprieve.

It takes more than a paper collar to keep a lioness penned.

Most of the figures who walk their shadows past the reinforced glass of the lioness' pit do not stop. There aren't many of them to begin with. What few who have paused by lately have done so either waiting out the vaporous intrusion of tranquilizers before carrying their cases of suppressive pharmaceuticals, doing their part to maintain the ironclad silence that weighs on Hana during her physical captivity, or else to breathe a tonal gradient rainbow of polite salutations through to sharp interrogations and then snarled threats through the comm.

It's very textbook. Use of imperatives: You don't understand your situation. Stupid thing to say, of course: she understands her situation. Hana Gitelman was fully prepared for this situation. The fact that she came to meet it anyway might be construed as wildly, hopelessly foolhardy by some, honorable by others.

Special Agent Johnson isn't really sure which side of the fence he comes down on, and that uncertainty is a certain thematic repetition throughout the past few days. He isn't, for instance, sure why he has to try his hand at this, now. The manila expanding porfolio under his arm is solid with what sensitive information, which he is neither underqualified nor particularly well-qualified to dispense to anybody. On the other hand, given Gitelman's psychological profile (mysteriously produced, inexplicably available, selectively but thoroughly gutted by black marker) maybe he is just supposed to read it out, like talking to a wall, though the debrief gave it to him that it was precisely his lack of coddling charisma that made him a reasonable candidate. There have been such negotiations before.

There's a balding man standing on the other side of the glass from Hana. Broad in the shoulder, thin at the fingers but no longer at the waist; he may well be an inch shorter than she is. Thick and polished mariner's watch clasped silver around his wrist, saturnine expression hollowed into the faintly olive-toned complexion of his face. When he pushes down on the Talk button, a squeal of errant electronics lights through the air above the woman, before his voice comes through on its dieselly register, coarse and accented despite the relative refinement of his suit and graying hair.

"Morning, Gitelman."

The woman glides through the sequences of an Aikido kata as if she were wearing a pristine white gi, and not dull prison garb. This in spite of the multicolored bruises on her torso, a bandaged bullet graze along one arm; she's chosen her exercises to not unduly strain still-mending tissue. Doesn't so much as twitch as the plateglass repolarizes to transparency, a lioness well-accustomed to enduring gawkers; or perhaps too proud to admit any disturbance. She does, however, lift her gaze to meet the suited man's eyes when he speaks. Pauses, there, for the space of two smooth and measured breaths. Two weeks in a cage isn't enough time to make much dent in Hana's physical fitness, not even on prison food.

Lioness dismissing a mouse beyond any practical reach of her claws, Hana turns away, sliding back into the movements embedded deep in muscle memory as if her watcher were in fact not present.

It's true, he might as well have greeted the wall for all the answering hail she gives.

Irritation bunches the knit of Johnson's brow. He stares at the window, the woman behind it, feels the plastic of the radio control box under his fingers older than it looks and pristine to look at, like a toy that's never been played with, one component in the unnervingly efficient process that Homeland Security borrowed from the Company. He doesn't like being ignored. He doesn't like being down here, either.

For all the risks that come of ambushing terrorists in the field, particularly for a man his age, he feels much more at home skulking the ruins of Midtown with a flotilla of bristling weapons and tactical black at his back than talking at a little girl who's elected to ignore him in favor of her yogalates solo. Though, yes, he knows Aikido when he's read it in her profile. Irritation shuffles briefly through his polished shoes, doesn't move him out of place.

Another stippled squeak of static. "Okay.

"You didn't make friends because of your warm and welcoming personality, but the Department of Homeland Securty is aware you have friends. They could use your help. So could the United States of America, the State of Israel, and yourself."

He speaks; she moves.

Moves in what could be a dance, something structured and formal, too slow and graceful to seem as deadly as it truly is. His words don't do much to perturb Hana's motions, the outward serenity of her indifference. She doesn't look back at him again.

"I've read my own file," the Israeli remarks, voice deceptively soft; its tones as moderated as her expression, what of it can be seen in profile. There isn't much to see. "I believe it says something very different about my capacity for friendship." There's acquaintances, the ones worth dying for, and then there's the family she lives for —

— three of whom are themselves dead.

Not much Hana can do to help there.

Not there, perhaps, not then, but everywhere else and now. At least, according to the sheaf of paper that Johnson has clutched in the work-weathered brindling of his hand. He lifts it without removing his other hand from the panel. "Your file's probably changed since the last time you accessed it. Somebody told Homeland Security something about the breadth and depth of your reach, so to speak, and decided they don't want you rummaging around some of those drawers. You might not call them friends, but there are a lot of names in this file attached to living people.

"If my Department wanted to put the Kansas City Shuffle over you, they would've asked somebody else to come down here. We need you to do some work on behalf of international security and global justice. It'll be to the benefit of Catherine Chesterfield, Teodoro Laudani, the other Phoenix and Ferrymen operatives in your acquaintance, and life as we know it. The Vanguard has launched their second phase of attack and technopaths have begun to quarrel." The manila is given one last brandished salute, before he drops it succinctly into the basket.

Agent Johnson doesn't push it through the railed chute to Hana's side of the wall yet, however, choosing instead to study the sinuous arcs of her exercises instead, to wait if not deliberately to withhold.

Somehow, she doubts that. The file changing much, that is.

International security and global justice. Not phrases Hana associates with the Company; and this cell, her circumstances of imprisonment, have everything to do with the Company for all that the man speaking to her claims affiliation with Homeland Security. So do they. If his mention of Vanguard causes Hana to bat an eye, it's purely internal. If she's interested in the contents of the envelope — it doesn't so much as get a glance. She concludes the kata, returning to the initial balanced stance and holding it, motionless.

Motionless save for breath — and speech. "The last time I heard those lines," the technopath observes, her head slowly swiveling to fix Johnson with a coolly direct stare, "it was in the midst of a web of lies and deception that nearly got me killed." Make no mistake — it isn't the almost dead part that gave offense. "A web spun by the same people who put me here.

"Pardon me if I don't jump to immediately do your bidding," Hana concludes, hostile suspicion chilling her tone even more than it already was.

Johnson doesn't even have to really resent the Company that much to be able to tell that Hana is referring to them, rather than his people. The corners of his mouth turn downward, fork into frown lines. "Last time, there wasn't a paramilitary operation trying to end civilization as we know it.

"And you weren't slated to rot in this cell," he adds in what may well be his most diplomatic voice, with a jerky turn to his domed head and the severe lines of his shoulders, going over the view inside the cell in that sudden jolt of movement, like he had just reminded himself. The communications setup prevents him from pacing around to manifest impatience, but there's a bridling of movement in his posture, the opposite in every italicized circumstance to Hana's eloquent stillness. "And you weren't responsible for living people.

"Munin is a reality you will have to face, one way or another.

"Proof's in the pudding." Where 'pudding' is, apparently, a nickname for the sheaf of paper jutting blithely from the basket before him, indicated with the precision of a flattened hand.

There are three options: he's either slow-witted, dreadfully stubborn, or was ordered not to resurface without her assent as the feather in his cap. Either way — if he isn't watching close, he may not see the fractional thinning of Hana's lips, but it's there. The lioness is getting annoyed; she knows all of these things.

If they were her priorities, would she have landed herself here?

The Israeli woman has no ears to tilt back nor a tail to twitch, but her segue from basic stance upwards into a fluid reach for the ceiling, trading kata for stretches, conveys much the same significance as such feline gestures: quit bothering me. Particularly when her next shift angles only the edge of her profile towards Johnson, and the back edge at that; shoulder, temple, the rim of an ear poking out between strands of brown hair.

In no uncertain terms: go away already, I'm tired of listening to you.

Not even Special Agent Johnson can mistake these terms for any others. His brow furrows with offense and annoyance far less subtle than what was manifest on Hana's brow; he'd been being polite, of course, interrogations aren't really his area of expertise. He sighs, inaudibly— though it wouldn't be a great feat even for the socially-challenged cyberpath to extrapolate as much. Begins to heft the papers out of the chute and lift his finger off the comm button before he remembers.

Putting two and one together. One and four? Hana's distrust was known to him, as was the fact this would be a challenge, but the subtler, second-to-second factors like pride and his presence had not registered until now, she's still, finished, at the end of the kata she'd pushed herself through despite the bruises massed on her pelt like thunderclouds. "I'm leaving these here. You'll probably have a few hours to look at it before they bring telepaths in. I'd suggest you do it soon: if they need cyberpaths that aren't rostered in the Registry, your head's going to be a good place to look, isn't it? Wireless?"

Manila and matte white sheets thump and slither down into the chute. He finally pushes it through, the heel of his hand against the box's edge. Metal slides against metal, and the papers square into Hana's space despite that there's nothing to greet them but the woman's back.

She remains still in the stance that puts just enough stress on healing tissues to be a useful stretch, not enough to damage them. Johnson is given no parting remarks, not even a concerned glance in response to his words; she knew there would be telepaths, eventually. Took some measures against them; has a few tricks left still, even without her former ability to hide behind a smokescreen of data.

Hana will look at the papers — when the irritating fly battering futilely at the window is long since gone; having made her point about noncooperation, the reading material will provide a change of pace regardless of its contents. There's a lot of time ahead for her to get through, no matter whether the true interrogation begins early or late.

In this place, however, time's passing can only aid her enemy.

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