Best Handled


eileen2_icon.gif bf_kara_icon.gif

Scene Title Best Handled
Synopsis Kara and Eileen formulate a plan.
Date March 12, 2019

Sunken Factory

A plan is coming together. Kara recognizes the signs; maps paper the heavy farmhouse table in the factory’s common room but represent an area that’s much larger. Cracked porcelain figurines scavenged from a nearby antique shop mark points of interest in neighboring states that share a border with New York. Eileen has measured the distance between them and crowded meticulous notes into the margins, although her cramped, serpentine handwriting is difficult for the munitions chaplain to read.

The Englishwoman sits on the far side of the table, pen in her left hand while the fingers of her right are splayed across a open journal with a worn leather cover and old yellowed pages. Her mouth moves around words that probably correspond to what she’s writing, although the only sound she makes is the whispery scratch of her pen on the paper. A pair of oversized reading glasses are perched upon the bridge of her nose, magnifying her large, catlike eyes behind their polished lenses.

It’s dark. She professes to do her best work at night and by candlelight. The juddering flame casts strange shadows on the walls, including Kara’s.

She hasn’t noticed it yet, but she undoubtedly will once she finishes itemizing her list.

There's plenty that they could be planning for. Providence had growing yet to do if it was to thrive at the level it had the potential to, and it would require ambition. Part of that ambition required taking bold action to ensure its current safety, as well as obtain things necessary to safeguard its future.

It oftens involves maps of areas well beyond their own, but there's something about the dotted-lined areas with question marks, the notes in the margins, that speaks to a more mobile threat than the ones the colony normally kept an eye out for.

Unlike Eileen, Kara does not profess to do anything better at a certain time of day. Given the hour, she cups one of her several well-used thermoses in one hand. She looks the map over while she lets the warmth of it seep into her palm, giving the Englishwoman time enough to finish her latest batch of note-taking. Regardless of what substance the thermos contains, she does profess to plan better while drinking. Bonus points if the drink is hot. Alcohol not required.

“I think you’ll like this one,” Eileen confides in Kara, not yet looking up. “It’s clean and efficient.”

When she finally lifts her head, it’s to remove her glasses and fold in their arms. She tucks them into the collar of the oversized wool sweater she wears, sleeves so wide and so long that she finds herself rolling them up to her elbows as she offers the other woman a small but inviting smile from the other side of the table.

“Sit,” she implores, gesturing to the empty chair to her left, which is adjacent and not across: a position offered to a peer rather than a subordinate.

It’s unusual, but so is a lot of Eileen’s behaviour as of late. Her edges seem softer, her eyes kinder. The texture of her voice has adopted a silkier quality in the months since New Mexico, and although these changes might be misinterpreted by some as weakness, Kara recognizes prudence when she sees it in action.

She’s simply taking her time.

The assertion that Kara might like a plan without having eviscerated it in some way first draws a note of skepticism from her, accompanied by a sidelong, if thoughtful glance. Plans are so infrequently perfect; only acceptable in the face of the risks against them. "We'll see," she replies mildly, which closely resembles agreement.

The offered chair is taken, settled against rather than into as she sits with a tense posture. Kara leans forward to see what the Englishwoman has drawn up in greater detail, even more quiet than usual.

For all her vocal cues of accepting Eileen's shift in demeanor, after all, she still keeps a wary eye out for weakn— for errors in judgment.

Eileen traces a finger along the path carved by the Oswego River, and settles at a junction marked with a prim black X. “There’s a rail bridge here,” she says, “out of service, since the war. We don’t use it, but someone else could. I’ve been looking for a way to disable it before the weather turns and the militias floating around Philadelphia push east toward Jersey.”

Her chair creaks as she shifts her weight forward, leaning into their conversation. “I found an old satellite base abandoned just outside of Salem. They’ll have explosives there. Enough C-4 to bring the bridge down — and anything on it.”

At some point in the explanation, Kara took a breath in and held it while looking over the traced path. After the second half is mentioned, the part involving explosives, her brow ticks. "On what authority do we know the explosives will be there? By birds, or word of mouth?" She trusts one more than the other, after all.

Following the simple question, though, she lets out the rest of her breath carefully, gaze flitting back to the marked bridge. "And as for the bridge…" Kara doesn't finish the thought aloud, at least not immediately, her eyes shifting back to Eileen. Enough C4 to take the bridge out, and anything that was on it, the Englishwoman had said. That part was clean, and she couldn't doubt the efficiency.

As for luring anyone, or anything onto the bridge before it went out, though…

Kara tips her thermos toward Eileen in a gesture for her to continue with her ideas for the less clean bits of the plan, if she has any she'd like to offer. If she has any at all. The munitions chaplain has a threat in mind she'd like to explore detonating along with it, but she seeks confirmation she and Eileen are already on the same page about this one.

“We know they,” and she means the robots, “are equipped with some sort of internal compass that points them in the direction of Expressives. If Hector and Yi-Min can reverse engineer that technology, it’s possible we might be able to attach a beacon to the bike Warren Ray left us. It’s fast — faster than any of the other vehicles we have in service.”

Eileen’s hand shifts to another sector of the map, closer to Providence’s borders, which are outlined in a darker red rink. “This is an old logging road that connects with the bridge. Straight shot. Of all of us, Finn stands the best chance. His ability will protect him, but if something goes wrong we can cover him from the air in the chopper. You and Emile above. Iago and Chris below. We’ll detonate it manually.”

"I don't disagree about Finn," Kara remarks reluctantly, eyes on the second map. "But he's also our best pilot. If this thing shoots at us, Emile's not the person I'd like to be dying next to." It's not just a selfish request — the helicopter was a huge asset of theirs to be risking. She takes a long drink from her thermos, squinting at the idea of the rest of the plan. After swallowing, she asks noncommittally, "Why not swap the two? Emile and Finn? Danko can handle himself well on a bike too, if memory serves."

Well, this is interesting.

Eileen folds one hand atop the other. “Are you making this suggestion because you feel that Finn’s ability is better utilized in the air than on the ground?” she asks in a carefully neutral tone. “Or because it’s more dangerous for the person on the ground than it is for those in the air?”

Kara's eyes narrow a tick at the implication, and she's sure to speak clearly over the top of her drink. "The helicopter is one of the most, if not the most valuable resource we have. Should anything happen to you, it becomes our sole eye in the sky."

"It needs appropriately manned so it can be best handled; defended, if need be." she goes on to justify herself. Perhaps it's not needed at all, but the additional words buy her time to mull over an idea she's had. "And for that matter… I'm trained in driving ground vehicles, not helicopters."

She turns back to Eileen, suggesting: "I could drive it. If you rig up a beacon, then it won't matter if the driver is non-Expressive, will it?"

No, Eileen’s expression seems to say. It wouldn’t.

She’s no stranger to putting people she cares about in life-threatening situations. At its core, that’s what the Ferrymen’s Special Activities division was all about. Back then, it had been a matter of necessity. Now—

Now, it’s still a matter of necessity. She continues to viscerally dislike it with every part of her being.

“All right,” she concedes after a pause in which she must come to terms with and move past losing Kara, or at least imagine what that weight will feel like on her chest in the event of a worst case scenario. Already her posture seems heavier. “You drive. We’ll put Finn in the helicopter with Emile.”

"Have a little more faith in your plan," Kara suggests, quixotically lighthearted yet stern in her reprimand. Her life might be on the line, after all was the part that was both a joke and yet a very serious reality.

She brushes away acknowledging it further by letting her attention flit back to the map, taking another sip of her drink to cleanse her palate. Whatever it is she has, it's still steaming, and she takes a moment to run the tip of her burnt tongue against the back of her teeth in an attempt to salve it. Afterward, Kara emits a soft click and points out, "And we still have to get the C4 first, anyway. What's our plan there?"

She has little faith anything will be as easy as it sounds. Better to prepare for the worst— At least in regards to most things. Kara has never really prepared for the possibility she could die.

It's worked for her thus far.

“I have faith in the plan,” Eileen says, softer. “I have faith in you.”

Just so they’re clear.

Her eyes lower, shadowed by their lashes, and she looks to the marker on the map that represents the satellite base. “I’ll send Finn and the boy for the explosives. He should be able to sniff them out without very much trouble.” Although she doesn’t state it plainly, the way she says the boy suggests she views this as a learning opportunity for Chris. “You and Yi-Min will go with them, but I want you both to go have a look at what used to be their medical wing. See if there’s anything there she can use to outfit her lab.”

"All right," Kara roughs out, sounding unenthused. She's already argued once tonight, and she's going to pick her battles. It doesn't mean she has to be happy about being saddled with watching after Yi-Min. Regardless, she offers up, "Hopefully we'll find something worthwhile out there." Her head cants to the side while she thinks out loud. "Assuming someone hasn't beat us to scavenging it first, there's at least bound to be some medication."

You'd think, anyway.

"Was there any signs of that?" she asks, tapping her finger absently on the side of her thermos. Kara shifts her weight in the chair, almost like she means to settle in, but she looks no less comfortable after she's adjusted her posture. "Others having been there, recently or otherwise." She's gone back to assuming it's Eileen who did the scouting, by the way she looks at her directly for an answer.

“No one has come or gone in last two weeks.” It’s an intermediate length of time, neither too long nor too short for Eileen — or Kara — to know one way or the other. “But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other eyes on it. I can’t guarantee anyone’s safety.”

She thumbs through the journal at her elbow, searching for the appropriate page. It doesn’t take Eileen long to find it; she apparently had the forethought to fold down one corner. “Here,” she says, angling the journal so Kara can have a better view of the detailed ink sketches contained therein.

One depicts a dilapidated, rusted gate yawning open, metal bars covered in creeping ivy that’s already begun to bloom with spring flowers. Another has what looks like a mummified corpse leaning against a chain-link fence, key ring still clasped in its fleshless fingers.

“Whoever looted it last wasn’t as thorough as they could have been. There’s a tag on these. It says Adynomine.”

Kara emits a note of acknowledgement for that, finding it of some interest, but not enough to set her at ease about who or what they might encounter. She rolls her jaw while she considers the sketches, nodding afterward. The first time Eileen had ever showed her sketches like these, Kara had remarked on how well-done they were. She says nothing of them this time, though she spends a moment longer than necessary in reviewing them, her appreciation for the talent showing in that way.

She finally leans back into her chair, glancing up at the Englishwoman. "Could always use more of that," Kara acknowledges mildly, seeing as some of their stock had been used as they fled Sunspot. Free replacements had certain advantages over pricy, black-market acquisitions.

Once settled in and a short period of silence has elapsed, she looks off with a half-shake of her head. "Armed, we should make out all right. If it looks like trouble, we either pass on it or come back better armed." she comments offhandedly, still in the final bits of her last memory of having to administer the spoken-of drug.

“Then we move forward,” Eileen agrees. “I’ll keep an eye on them in the meantime. Track their patterns and see if we can’t figure out what it is that pushes them in any given direction, in the absence of Expressives.”

Expressives is a much kinder word than Evolved. She wishes it had been in use during the time the Ferry was still a necessity.

“You’ll be point on this scavenging run,” she concludes, because otherwise it’s a toss-up between Kara or Finn — and she wants Finn’s focus on Chris alone. “I trust you to bring our people back safely.

“At the end of all of this, the lives are the only things that matter.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License