Blonde On Blonde


cardinal3_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif sarisa_icon.gif

Scene Title Blonde on Blonde
Synopsis While chewing Harrison out, Kershner is interrupted by a fellow SAC agent coming to give a report…
Date May 9, 2010

Textile Factory 17

It is not exactly often that Elisabeth strolls about the Factory with shadow cleavage. She's a little nervous about the matter, actually. But Ruth's animals don't seem to sense anything wrong with the situation — Of course it could be because Liz is wearing her outdoor gear and the shadow involved is squinched in between the layers much as he was for the meeting with Logan. In this case, it's simply a matter of company… and perhaps of familiarizing him with where she is and the layout of the place in case, for whatever reason, the man might ever have reason to come in here. More the former than the latter as far as Elisabeth is concerned. Having him tag along is somehow comforting.

As she walks through the garage and into the main factory proper, Liz is stripping off her gloves, her hat, and even unzipping her heavily lined jacket. Her snow pants and the boots on her feet will have to wait until she reaches the room she's assigned to sleep in. And she'll get there eventually, but she takes the scenic route through the place, picking up a hot cup of tea in the mess hall and sweetening it heavily before heading back toward the hall. She barely manages to avoid spilling that hot cup of tea all over Sarisa Kershner as she steps into the mess hall. "Shit!" Liz swears when it sloshes hot water over her hand. "Sorry."

"Harrison!" That is not Sarisa Kershner's happy voice. Hissing like a coiled viper in the doorway, blue eyes wide and blonde hair still crusted with flakes of windblown snow. She looks ten pounds heavier for all the dark winter weather gear she's fitted into, and the coal black scarf covering her mouth has thankfully taken the edge off of the abrupt greeting she's given. Stepping towards Elisabeth, Sarisa rests a gloved hand on her shoulder the way an eagle puts talons around a fish, and her attention flicks to the technicians and mechanics sitting in the mess hall.

Her blue eyes narrow, shoulders square, and when she raises her voice to shout "Out!" The sound of scuffing chairs and hastened movements come like a classroom of unruly children frightened by the slap of a ruler on a desk. Those blue eyes drift back to Elisabeth, and the look from Kershner is both inspecting and cool, having a tone of this best be good written all over them.

"I just got back from a conference with Operations Director Parkman of DHS, and he had some words that I would like to relay to you. Tell me if any of this seems familiar." But she isn't getting into the nitty gritty yet, no, she's waiting for the technicians to finish clearing out.

Oh shit. Elisabeth glances around as people immediately scuffle on by and get the hell out of Kershner's airspace. For herself, Liz steps back into the mess hall and oh-so-conveniently settles a silence field in a large enough radius around the two of them that no one else but they will be able to hear it when the Shark loses her mind all over Liz. "By all means, Agent Kershner. Anything the director has to say I'm interested in hearing." She seems calm, at least outwardly. In truth, she's got zero idea what's got her boss in a bitch-fit. Everything Liz has done lately has been right across Kershner's desk…. and the stuff that hasn't is because well…. she was told not to. Liz sips from her hot tea, setting her heavy gloves and hat down on a nearby, recently vacated, table and proceeds to remove her coat.
"How long were you aware of the physical location of Sasha Kozlow?" Sarisa gets right to the heart of the topic the moment that the last technician is out of the room, and despite the silence field she gives Elisabeth the courtesy of having closed the mess hall door, so that no one outside needs to see her become the target of Sarisa's frustrated tirade. "Because I was fairly certain that you and I were operating under the assumption that ours was a cooperative work relationship."

Her gloved hand comes off the door, and Sarisa turns for Elisabeth with a slow and predatory lurching, her head tracking Liz as she circles her like a shark, eyes still. "Parkman informed me that Abigail Beauchamp, one of your closest personal connections had the whereabouts of Sasha Kozlow, and that you did not share this information with me for some reason? You do realize that had I known Kozlow was captive, I could have taken intelligence from him that could have saved lives in the Red Hook attack? We lost four CIA agents driving those trucks, one FBI agent and two NYPD officers and their blood is now on your hands."

She's livid, and Sarisa Kershner typically doesn't show emotion. "I am sincerely hoping that you have an explanation for this omission, otherwise the next time I put you in the back of a van it won't be for show."

Mmmmm. So that's what this is about. Elisabeth takes another sip of her tea and sets the cup down — she figures, regretfully, that she won't get any more of the hot beverage. "I knew he was stashed in a safehouse, which was destroyed. At that point I did not know where he was any longer." She looks at Sarisa, her expression… not exactly apologetic but regretful. "You told me to keep certain aspects out of your hands — plausible deniability, ma'am. I'm not privy to the information of exactly what it is that you can do with your abilities, so frankly… it didn't occur to me that you might be able to get the information that we need." She pauses and then adds, "That said, I have in my possession currently a list of places Dreyfus has been using and someone checking them out on the down-low to ascertain which one he's holed up in and how many people he's actually got on retainer in there. Which I was planning on reporting to you at your earliest convenience; there's a note on your desk."
There's a squint, blue eyes narrow, Sarisa caught something in those words. It's tucked away, like a knife slid up a sleeve poised for an arterial strike. But for the moment she's still circling, waiting for the opening. "Don't play that bullshit word-game with me, Harrison. Sasha Kozlow is an internationally wanted terrorists, murderer and rapist. You hid him when you knew the CIA was looking for him, when you knew every branch of the government was looking for him to protect you and yours. You had the balls to come into my office and criticize the agency's handling of this case!"

Sarisa takes a step forward, brows screwing up, blue eyes wide and face red, one finger pointing towards Elisabeth's chest, pressing against her jacket with jabs that match the sylables of her sentences. "You cost the lives of several agency members, you didn't give me the intelligence I needed when you had it, and you tried to wave in my face that I wasn't doing my job?"

Breathing in deeply and curling that finger to join others in a fist, Sarisa's jaw clenches tightly. "Where is he now?" The verbal knife is flicked out, "Because you know," close quarters linguistic combat, "and you're going to tell me," edge to flesh, pressed tight enough to see the vein dance with a heartbeat, "now."

Both brows raise and Elisabeth never raises her voice at the accusation of telling Sarisa she wasn't doing her job. "I don't believe those words have come out of my mouth in recent weeks, ma'am." Though it's possible she's mistaken, of course. She doesn't remember saying tht to the shark's face. Not a bit! Her tone remains both low and with at least some modicum of respect in spite of the words. "And I highly recommend you take a step back and get out of my face, Agent Kershner. If you take this physical, we're both going to regret it."

Elisabeth tries to step back several steps in retreat, her blue eyes on the boss lady wary and shuttered. "Kozlow is a motherfucker and a wanted terrorist. And if I did know where he was right now, he would also be the only lead we currently have on the addresses that Dreyfus is using. Once Dreyfus — who is by far the bigger threat — were dealt with, I would happily hand you Kozlow and anyone who happened to be sheltering him. I don't protect my own at the expense of anyone else, ma'am. Not when it's in any way avoidable."
"You don't scare me Harrison." Kershner says in a small, breathy voice, "and you don't intimidate me, or coerce me, or do anything excelt jump when I ask you how high." Moving her lips away from the side of Elisabeth's head, there's a furrow of Sarisa's brows, blue eyes settled squarely on the blonde's. "You have twenty-four hours to deliver Kozlow and all of the intelligence you have regarding the Vanguard to my office at the Federal Building, Harrison. Or so help me I will start overturning every rock I know about to look for him, and I know where there's a lot of stones with bugs crawling under them."

As she leans back and takes a step away, there's not one scrap of her usual pleasant mask. "You're a subordinate, you signed a contract and you're working for me. You want to play hardball I will get my bat and we will play hardball. But I am trying ot do you and your friends a favor by putting the full weight of federal agencies on the trail of Carlisle Dreyfus. Unless you're kneeling down and unzipping his fly behind the scenes? I'd think you'd want us to catch him."

"I wouldn't presume to try to scare you, Agent Kershner. Nor would I be looking to undermine you," Elisabeth says calmly. "You want to know where Kozlow is? Fine. As of three days ago, the man was in John Logan's custody at the Corinthian — with about 500 other refugees. You want to take squads and go busting into the place? Knock yourself out. And when you compromise one of the only places in the city that has heat and the squads go in and bust the place up so that it can't be used anymore, how many more people are going to die of exposure due to that action?" She shakes her head.

"I have done my level best to walk the line that needs walking. I've toed the line of my contract every step of the way up to and including coming to you when all I had was a hunch to go on — to be quite blunt, the fact that you backed me on that first run into Vanguard territory still comes as a shock," Elisabeth admits. "I'm doing my level best to keep you only out of the loops that will put you in a position to have to choose — do you want this terrorist bad enough to fuck up one of the few refuges in this city? Really?"
"I didn't spend fifteen years overseas resolving this country's problems to use a brick where a scalpel will suffice." Sarisa states flatly. "You say he's there with John Logan, then he's there and we'll pick him up. Somehow you seem to think that because you're the logistics officer for Squad-02 you're the logistics officer for the entirety of the CIA. I'll go get Kozlow myself, I don't need a battallion to bring him in if I know where he is and he isn't given advanced warning I'm coming." Sarisa's blue eyes drift up and down Elisabeth. "I trust you, Harrison, despite the majority of my peers looking down on me for doing so. That is why I backed you, and I would expect that you could at least try to reciprocate that trust, or this starts to look like a very one-sided relationship."

Resting her hands on her hips, Sarisa lifts her chin up and slants blue eyes towards Elisabeth, then over to the doors and back again. "We nailed Dreyfus' ass to a wall after that raid, Harrison. He has nowhere else to run, nowhere else to hide except wherever his ass has crawled now. If Kozlow has even one bit of information he isn't sharing, I'm going to take it."

"Ahem." Ahem…

A shadow crawls along up the wall, its edges tattered and rippling in an unseen wind, the voice of Richard Cardinal a hollow, echoing whisper in the emptied room, "…if you're quite done with chewing Harrison out, Agent Sarisa, as well as confusing your role as Operations Director of Unit One with your role in the Special Activities Division, since as I recall the latter of which doesn't have authoritization to operate on American soil, I do have intelligence of my own to report. Of course, if you'd prefer to progress to a catfight, I can always come back later…?" I'll find the Jell-O…

Elisabeth starts to reply to that and then the shadow in her clothing is no longer in her clothing, instead spread out along the wall like a tattered piece of tissue paper blowing in a nonexistant breeze. The Jell-O comment makes her close her eyes for a moment. Good Lord, Richard.

"I wouldn't be bothered to warn Logan or Kozlow ahead of time, Agent Kershner. I couldn't be bothered to piss on them if they were burning to death in front of my face — I might even roast marshmallows." Liz forces a small smile. "It's damn hard to trust these days, isn't it? But I swear to you, ma'am, I won't go out of my way to fuck you over."

"Oh…" is the best way Sarisa can explain herself and her confusion as shadow crawls into view and makes Sarisa more glad that she closed the door on this meeting. It's evident from the silence and confusion on her face that she wasn't expecting this umbral wrinkle. For all that someone tells her Richard Cardinal is alive, seeing it in practice is another thing entirely, and while there's not much that Sarisa Kershner hasn't seen before, this proverbial Lazarus act is much more surprising when it isn't coming from someone known for being a cockroach — though she'd never call Sylar that.

Clearing her throat, Sarisa's blue eyes flick up to the shadowy form of Richard Cardinal, then back to Liz, and the fact that both blondes look a little surprised makes it easier for Sarisa not to feel ambushed by this. "Sometimes the mess the SAC needs to clean up is on American soil. I hope you didn't actually think Sasha Kozlow was going to get anything resembling due process." There's an almost cheeky tone there.

"Your performance reports from work have been spectacular, agent Cranston. Field directors in Antananarivo are impressed with your work…" one corner of her mouth creeps up into a smile, "whatever it is you're said to be doing. I'm glad there might be a body to fill behind that paperwork eventually…" which is something of the unstated question, is there a body? The look Liz is getting might as well be asking it.

"I do hope that there's been salary paperwork included somewhere in there, if I can't get the congressional medal of honor for saving the world I might as well get a paycheck…" A paycheck… A subtle twist of humor to the words as 'Agent Cranston' makes the observation, now that he's suddenly ambushed them all in the midst of their conversation - and, hopefully, saved Elisabeth any more of an ass-reaming.

A whispered chuckle stirs in the air as he admits, "Well, if you're just going to go take care of him outside the bounds of the law, I suppose you can't complain about Elisabeth's behavior, can you? You're both working towards the same thing here, stop being pissy with each other because you haven't nailed the sonuvabitch and just nail him. You're two of the biggest bitches I know, if anyone can ram his Russian spine down his throat it's the two of you…" Kill him.

The wavering, unsteady shadowform twists in a lazy yet unfelt breeze, fluttering like torn fabric along the edges where trailers of living shadow stretch over the wall. "Can we get to my report? Because I can't wait to say I told you so to Special Agent Kershner…" I told you so…

A wry smiles quirks Elisabeth's mouth, though what exactly is amusing her might be in question. The whole due process thing, the whole spectacular performance reports thing, the whole biggest bitches I know thing — it could be any of the above, truly. She moves to pick up her tea, sipping from it and meeting Sarisa's eyes when they come back to her in apparent query over the body. Her expression is completely shuttered, her worry hidden behind a professional facade, which may or may not give Kershner enough insight to realize the answer to the silent question. "By all means, Cranston," Liz replies ruefully. "Do go on. I was just informing Agent Kershner that you were checking out the addresses that we were given."

"You'll be disappointed by our dental plan," Sarisa affords a moment of levity, "not that I'm sure you even have teeth anymore," before turning it into a somewhat more grim comment. "If you have something to share, go right ahead." Sarisa's chin tilts up over the edge of her scarf, blue eyes affix on the patch of darkness that spills with the ghostly voice, and there's something very cautiously optimistic about Sarisa right now; did this actually turn out better than she hoped?

"I'm sure we have a good one… sharks need all their teeth, after all, don't they, Agent Kershner?" A bit of darker humor to that, some - forgive the pun - bite to it before the shadow falls silent for a moment, drawing in tattered edges and drifting remnants so that Cardinal can speak more… clearly and with less of his peripheral thoughts drifting into the conversation. "I do believe that we had a discussion on Gregor's fate on the ship, Sarisa, and I told you that it was going to come back and bite us all in the ass… who the hell is in charge of that clusterfuck called the Commonwealth Institute, and why aren't they keeping a tight leash on their pet psychotics? Have you seen the weather report for this week? Partly cloudy with a side of enough snow to make our trip to Antarctica look like a Hawaiian vacation…"

Whatever Elisabeth might have said, she bites her tongue on. She was not privy to the conversations between Richard and Sarisa, and until now she never had a clue that Russian Vanguard was involved in the Institute. Her blue eyes sharpen on the shadow on the wall and she appears to be listening intently to the conversation now, though.

There's a look to the door, then a look to Elisabeth that wordlessly asks the question is it still quiet in here, and then shifts to the pattern of shadows that makes up Cardinal's incorporeal remains at the equally wordless confirmation. "No one, technically," isn't the answer Cardinal wants to hear from her. "Zero accountability, reports directly to the White House, clearance above my own. One SAC operative has operational clearance at the facility for oversight, hand-picked to come off of his job and play liaison in unofficial capacity. Nothing there is on the books and I know about as much on the topic as the average man on the street."

There's a look tossed between Cardinal and Liz, then back to Cardinal again when Sarisa takes a moment to collect her thoughts. "I know a girl named Liette is partially responsible, I know the technopath conglomerate Rebel tried to apprehend her from her handlers before the storm hit, and I know she's a security liability that Mitchell wants plugged in whatever way feasible."

Folding her arms, Sarisa furrows her brows and tips her head down, considering the shadow's fringe before looking back to it. "If you're looking for intel or a helping hand, I have zero influence there and no access. I don't even know, for sure, where the facility actually is. Honest to god, I wouldn't be surprised if it was in space with how much money I've heard was funneled into it. We're talking ten zeroes on that number."

"It has nothing to do with Liette," replies Cardinal in an irritable hiss, "Not directly… one of their scientists, the one that thought it'd be cute to do an interview in that useless rag Pause, Doctor Luis, is rattling sabers to get Liette back - despite the fact that apparently they've reunited Liette with her actual parents - and has her sister making the weather worse and worse on bloody purpose. So, congratulations, those ten zeroes per annum are going a long way towards killing everyone in New York City." Idiocy…

Immediately noting the query, Elisabeth jerks her chin upward in acknowledgement. The silence field continues to be in effect. She watches Sarisa Kershner's face when that intelligence crosses the open air between them, waiting to see whether the woman is actually surprised or if the look is more calculated. "More like the entirety of the northern hemisphere pretty soon, if the rumors I hear are true," she says darkly. She sips the tea, which is cooling rapidly now, and shoves her free hand through her hair.

"Do you have anything other than your word to take for that? Or the word of someone else?" Both of Sarisa's brows lift slowly at Cardinal's revelation, but she doesn't look entirely surprised. "I'd like to take any and all unsubstantiated rumors at face value, but then again I'm also not naturally blonde." There's a crook of Sarisa's lips into a smile, blue eyes flashing to Elisabeth for a moment before returning to the shadow. "Even if I had damning, incontravertible evidence — which at this moment I don't — what do you expect me to do about it? I can rattle my cage all I want, but I'm not sure that stepping that far out of line wouldn't get me killed, or just… replaced."

Uncrossing her arms and resting her hands on her hips, Sarisa's brows furrow slowly. "No one at the Institute benefits from this, Luis is second banana there. Nothing he does goes without the notice of Director Broome, and as far as I know from his public information and psyche profile he's not in the business of global annihilation. Either the deep freeze is a bluff, or they have something else planned that you haven't unearthed yet. I don't know what, I don't even know — in detail — what goes on there."

Rolling her tongue over the inside of her cheek, Sarisa considers something, then furrows her brows. "I do have knowledge that someone close to you was picked up by them. Eve Mas, I don't know why or when, but I pick up things sometimes. Unintentional handshakes… I don't know what good it'll do you. That's really all I have on them. I don't know what you want me to do, Richard."

A click of voice from the shadows, as if tongue to palate. "I do, as a matter of fact, but it sounds like it wouldn't do much good even if I could bring the evidence out into the open… as for Broome? I didn't say he was doing it, I said that Luis was, and if there's one thing I've learned… it's that nobody knows everything their subordinates are doing, Kershner…" There's always deviation from the plan…

Richard's silent for a moment, before asking, "Would you prefer to let the entire hemisphere plunge into eternal winter? You said not to deal with this sort of thing… extracurricularly any more, and I've done exactly what you said to - I brought it to you. FRONTLINE's mandate is to protect the country from Evolved threats - exactly like this one. Would you prefer I access my other resources and see about leaving as much of the Institute behind as we did Pinehearst? If Hollingwood could get in touch with Luis for a fucking interview, I'm fairly certain that I can find it too…" It's what I do…

Elisabeth knew that Eve had been picked up, but Sarisa raising the precog's name brings her eyes over to her boss. But Richard has far more than his word. And Elisabeth's got his back; if Kershner doesn't already know that then she's far more stupid than she's given credit for being. "So here's a good question," she comments mildly. "Any chance Dreyfus will know anything about the Institute?" She sips from her tea as she asks. "The list of doctors we had didn't make a lot of sense before, but they do seem to now," she observes.

"Dreyfus has nothing to do with the Institute, that much I'm certain of. If he does then I'm just going to quit my job right now because the world just got turned inside out." Sarisa's tension cranks up a notch, and when she looks to Cardinal there's a mildly exasperated tone to her voice. "Like I said, I'd like to take your word on this but I can't. FRONTLINE is designed to handle criminal threats and cooperate with local and federal law enforcement. There's two ways this can go and neither of them are pretty— one of them is the legal route, taking this to the Department of Justice, which will require hard evidence that we can definitively link to the Institute and hope that the operation doesn't just disappear and move somewhere else overnight."

Running her tongue over her lips, Sarisa shakes her head slowly. "Luis is a pawn in all this, Richard. He's a small man who isn't in charge of anything. Also, I'd not underestimate Simon Broome, if there's one man in the world who has the potential to know everything, it's him. I don't know how black the Institute is, but I'm pretty sure it's darker than black, which means the chances of me bringing any of this to light before I have an accident are very slim, arctic apocalypse included."

"I may have a lot of pull in the government, but if and I mean if the Institute is behind this weather situation outside of Liette, I don't have enough information to go on. You get me something comprehensive I can look over, I can make an assessment for you. But I'll tell you this, right here and right now…"

Sarisa's brows furrow slightly. "I know a little bit about the girls, enough to know that they're like day and night. One can't exist without the other. Take that as you will." The implication is clear enough.

"I told you so." I did…

At the reminder of what Richard told her when she said they were going to keep Gregor, there's a whispered sigh of frustration, "…I won't bother bringing that hard evidence out just yet, then, because there isn't enough of it. It'd just disappear. I'll keep working on finding more concrete evidence against them, and I'll see what I can do, but you aren't exactly inspiring much confidence in me that you can do everything you claimed, Kershner…" The Queen of… what?

"Can you at least get me what information you do have on them to me? A little's better than the less than a little I have to work with here. I'm not half the man I used to be, after all…" If that's humor, it's dark humor indeed.

The information that one can't exist without the other makes Elisabeth pause, and she murmurs, "So to stop all this… we have to reunite them." She glances at the shadow on the wall and quirks a faint grin in his direction. "Oh good…. I love working on six impossible things before breakfast," she quips softly. And then she sighs, glancing at Kershner. "We'll keep digging into the Liette thing. I know that she's safe currently, but I also know that Vincent Lazzarro already knows that. He's got his hands in all this somehow. He's been to see Cat." She looks at Kershner and says mildly, "Seems like perhaps the right hand doesn't know what the left is up to — because he knew that Liette was in the care of the Ferry. He put her there. Or at least left her there, I'm not sure which. And to top it off, his daughter is a member of the Ferry. If there are plans to hit the group, Kershner…. now would be a good time to use that pull to get it stopped. And I highly suggest you lean on Lazzarro to help. In this case, two bitches will be better than one — We'll see about coming at the Institute from both sides."

"Lazzaro…" Sarisa's brows lift subtly at the comment, and her head tips into a nod. There's an askance look at the shadow, something working behind her eyes. Intrigue, moreover interest, blossoming and dying in that time of wordless quiet. "Lazzaro, okay. Interesting, that's— not… not anything I expected there." There's a tilt of her chin up, blue eyes offered down towards Elisabeth. "I could probably drag his girl in, knowing that. He might be more cooperative if his daughter's behind bars or— wherever." There's no joking in Sarisa's tone of voice either. "If it comes ot that."

Looking from Elisabeth to Cardinal, Sarisa's eyes narrow just a touch. "I'll get you the information, later. I'll compile everything I have, and it'll go from Liz to you. Right now, I'm six minutes late for a conference call about the Dreyfus situation, so the remainder of this will have to wait. Just remember, you may not like how I do things, but we are on the same side."

As Sarisa turns, headed for the door to the cafeteria, she hesitates and looks over to Elisabeth. "I never said you needed to reunite the girls, this isn't an ideal world. I just said you could get rid of one to get rid of the other." The doorknob twists, and Sarisa looks down to the shadow, then back up to Elisabeth.

"Take it as you will."

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