Circling The Wagons


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Scene Title Circling the Wagons
Synopsis Matthew Parkman calls in high-clearance members of the Department of Homeland Security to discuss the Messiah situation, and Matt tries to pry deeper into the secrets Harper keeps for the Institute.
Date October 7, 2010

DHS Facility

Since yesterday, the DHS Facility in Battery Park City has been buzzing with activity, but at least now the majority of the industry and tension is held inside the structure rather than out. While generally, the most high-profile cases are handled with the least amount of technology as possible, but such protocol has been sacrificed for efficiency in dealing with the aftermath of the assassination attempt on Secretary Praeger and the subsequent raids on the homes of Rupert Carmichael and Peter Petrelli. So when Secretary Parkman stalks into the building at and what has become central command at 7 AM, his arrival is barely noticed by the techs ensuring that the firewalls and other precautionary, anti-technopath barriers remain intact and other personnel diligently tracking down leads and gathering vital information to pass along to agents in the field. The only staff that arrives with Parkman is Miriam, who struggles to keep step with her bear-like boss, her kitten heels clicking on the drab, utilitarian flooring.

"Get me a status report," he barks as he enters the office that, as of last night, has become his new corner of occupied territory. He doesn't shrug off his coat until he's well inside, and he throws it onto the couch near the door rather than take the time to hang it up. "And haul Pierce and Harper off of Roosevelt Island," assuming that's where they are. "I want them in here yesterday." Miriam only nods, not even through the door when she's given the orders. But despite her outward appearance, she take the commands with a steel spine and more professional dignity than a dung beetle.

By 7:15, there's a brief report in Parkman's hand.

By 7:45, both Desmond Harper and Jason Pierce are standing in his office.

By then, Parkman's chugged half of his coffee and is rechecking the registry and wanted lists against both Carmichael's roster and the abilities exhibited at the scene. He doesn't immediately look up from the search he's running when the two men enter, but rather keys in another perameter before he stands and moves to one of the inner windows, sliding the vertical blinds away so he can watch the screens in the other room.

Operations Director Pierce looks exhausted. Dark circles hang under his eyex, his posture is slacked and it looks like he hasn't been able to sleep yet. This is likely why he has opted to stand behind his chair rather than sit, for fear of the body's natural need for sleep overhwelming his staunch dedication to his work. Leaning as he is, there's a look he's offering Parkman that implies some levels of frustration. The chaos of the last few days is wearing on Pierce's patience, further compounded by how these series of events have left confidence in public security at an all-time low.

Desmond Harper, on the other hand, looks perfectly well-rested. His black suit is crisp and neatly pressed, dressed for all his worth like administration, not a field agent, with a royal blue tie with a houndstooth pattern sharp against his white undershirt, matching the color of the LED on his bluetooth headset.

"Secretary Parkman, it's good to see your head didn't in fact erupt into a fiery volcano like I'd heard mentioned around my offices." There's a cocksure smile that creeps up on the corner of Harper's lips. "I heard that security from the my department didn't reach the DHS building in time to do much good yesterday and I apologize for that, we were having our communications jammed by Rebel— or— we assume it was him, at any rate."

Pierce slants a look at Harper, lips downturning into a frown, before he looks back up at Parkman. "Still no sign of Petrelli or Carmichael or anyone else on the list. We've been waiting on you to put the screws to Smythe."

"There's a line," Parkman growls as he shuts the blinds again and turns toward the two men in his office. He rubs his jaw with his hand before he slips it into a pocket. "If you can believe that. Lazarro and Praeger are getting first crack at him." And by the tone of his voice, Parkman is not at all pleased by this arrangement, but it's likely to do with politics and the nature of Smythe's crimes. Not that they could color the sort of answers the telepath plans on digging for. "And your first department is this department, Harper," he says, his other hand curling into a fist with index finger stabbing the air toward the floor. "Look at your bank statement the next time payday comes around."

Mention of Rebel draws an even sterner expression onto the stage that is Parkman's face, and he starts to pace across the office. Rumors aside - whatever volcano Parkman was yesterday, he's now a steaming mountain, with cooling rivers of what was once molten adrenaline. "Some days I want to just set of some sort of E-P that fries those bastards," he grumbles, making it clear enough that technopaths are his least favorite flavor of his own species. "Excuses aside, have you run the eyewitness reports against the databases?" It would be nice to know if his underlings had the same presence of mind as he did - that they've already crunched the numbers, as it were. "Come up with any leads whose names aren't on the list? I mean, for as long as we've tried to nail these guys to a wall, all of a sudden finding the motherlode seems a little…


"That was exactly my thought," Pierce agrees with a dip of his head and fingers curled tight against the back of the chair. "I'm worried that Carmichael's information may be a feint. Our source that told us about the attacks also told about Carmichael too, however. Sarisa Kershner received her intel through Richard Cardinal."

Always, Richard Cardinal, isn't it?

"We weren't sure of the veracity of the threat but we had to act on it regardless. We're lucky we did, even if it turned into a complete clusterfuck— " Pierce winces, "pardon me, sir. That…" When Pierce trails off at having let profanity lace his statement, Harper takes the opportunity to leap in here.

"We're all one big happy family under Nathan Petrelli," he explains while lacing his fingers together, "but where my paychecks come from isn't really what's on the table here today. While none of my field agents are involved in wrangling this Messiah issue, I did run some theoreticals by some of our people back at the central office." Harper lifts one hand up and rests his chin on the closed fist.

"Claire Bennet's been on out watch list since she targeted Howard Lemay back int he spring and nearly killed him in his apartment." There's a roll of one of Harper's shoulders, "We know Petrelli had dealings with PARIAH back in the day from the mole who leaked information leading to their collapse, so there's another tick in favor of the information. But then we get to… seriously, Allen Rickham? We of the high-pay-grade all know he's SLC-positive and has been off the radar for a while, but do any of you here think that the pacifist president is that disgrunteled?"

One of Harper's brows lifts slowly, incredulously. "Then we have Thalia Ashford. I had to run her name through a few different databases. Her parents? Michael and Isabella Ashford, they were both Company agents, dead as of a few years ago. Her sister Isabella Junior was murdered last summer, they found her body cut up in pieces upstate in a duffel bag."

There's a furrow of Harper's brows as he looks down to his lap, then back up to Parkman. "Finally we have Rosen, and he has no priors, no nothing. Pretty spotless record, held down a few jobs, nothing long term. He did ping as not having Registered yet, however, so that's suspicious. He's not on either Registry, neither is Ashford, neither is Rickham… I just don't know. If it's convenient or if we had a stroke of good luck."

Parkman shakes his head to dismiss Pierce's minor breach of conduct and then again to do the same to Harper's final statement, even if none of the news is kind on his ears. "I don't believe in luck. Find out everything you can on Rosen. Carmichael's not the sort of guy to pull in recruits off the street. He's got to link up with him somehow, just like every other person on that list and at the scene.

"We don't know if it's a feint or not," he adds, looking to Pierce as he continues to wear the rut in the carpet, "so hold the salt for now. We investigate all that was recovered from Carmichael's place, even if it is a load of bull. That can all get sorted out later. I don't want to bring Redbird in on this if I can avoid it," even if the security firm does have a government contract. This is hand best played close to the chest for the time being.

Looking to Harper again, Parkman narrows his eyes, turning up the volume on the static, while tuning it in to the immediate area in order to block out the flurry of activity on the other side of the windows. "Speakin' of being one big happy family," he all but murmurs, "you ever find that brain you were looking for? I haven't heard a whisper from you two about that little escapade since you snagged Pierce."

A little color drains out of Pierce's face, followed by the slip of Jesus Christ in his mind, but Harper's pokerface is far more practices and his mind an unerringly smooth plane of level quiet. "We did," Harper notes with a raise of one brow, "it was contained in a Company storage facility in Odessa Texas. We extracted it following the collapse of their organization. The ah, the brain that Director Pierce was helping me track down turned out to not be the case we were looking for."

Straightening in his seat, Harper crosses one leg over the other. "It was an internal Institute matter, there's documentation on it available if you want to look into it yourself. We were tracking rumors that the Company contained the preserved brain of an individual that had traveled time by means of an unknown temporal manipulator. We have someon in the Institute who can reconstitute memories and we were planning on seeing what there was to see."

Harper's brows furrow together, eyes track down to his lap. "It didn't wind up panning out like we expected," is offered with a turn of Harper's blue eyes back up to Parkman. "Jason was kind enough to lend his assistance to us, but this was prior to his appointment as Operations Director, after all. Probably several weeks before the unfortunate death of Secretary Hicks. Which," Harper brings the topic of conversation back to the present, "Claire Bennet was solely responsible for."

"Don't you worry, Harper, we'll get to Bennet." There's a patronizing smirk that flashes across Parkman's face as the words slip through his teeth and his pacing comes to a stop. He leans against the desk, resting his hands on the wood behind him. "I'm interested in the unfortunate death of Senator Portman. You got any documentation on that in your internal Institute files?" For as scathing as the words are, individually, Parkman doesn't do a terrible job at delivering them as dryly as possible. He doesn't even glance toward Pierce, even if his eyes narrow just a hair more to pump up that volume.

Perhaps he was braced for it, perhaps he just has nothing on the surface to share, but Pierce just slants a look to Harper, letting the other man do the talking on this one. "The Company was investigating that while I was standing-in as liaison to the Department of Homeland Security, but unfortunately Director Dalton destroyed all of the records pertaining to that case with the rest of the COmpany Archives when we went to seize them. That case had just finished a day or two prior to the Hammerdown operation so…"

One of Harper's brows lifts slowly, eyes narrow and his thoughts echo his words, "Veronica Sawyer, could probably tell you more." Blue eyes meet Matt's, and Harper's brows pinch together. "She's the only agent, we believe, who had survived from that investigation team."

I'd forgotten that.

"Yeah," Parkman says, adopting a contemplative, somewhat nostalgic look, as if he were actively searching for a distant memory of his own. "She mentioned the case when I interviewed her. She doesn't have any of the files herself, but she did happen to remember quite a bit about their findings. Good to know she can handle that many cases at once, having to hit the ground running like they all did. Funny thing was that the man they found with Portland's ID wasn't Portland. Just a lowlife named Renton. And the witnesses she was able to scare up gave her some hard to believe information."

He stops then, leaning forward slightly and turning his head a bit to one side as he looks at Harper. "Was that in the last report you got? I mean, I don't want to bore you with details you've already heard, Harper. But it would seem your brain-guy was linked in with Portland and Renton's death."

"I never saw any of the reports, though I'd heard from their lab tech that there was something fishy about Portman's blood and the SLC-testing of it. Outside of that I'm not sure, the Company didn't exactly have a great level of trust for me, as evidenced. Though I suppose that wasn't entirely unwarranted, was it?" Lifting one brow, Harper looks askance to Pierce, then back to Parkman.

"Though I think I have enouogh on my plate right now without having to worry about whether or not Agent Sawyer crossed her t's or dotter her i's. We have an entire lunatic terrorist cell out there who just tried to do to the Department of Evolved Affairs what they did to Homeland Security. We look like we're losing out there, Secretary Parkman."

Pierce exhales a slow, steady breath and runs his hands over his head, and Matt can feel a nervous susurrus of noise in his mind, jumbles of unimportant things like shopping lists, birthdates and a catchy song or two, he's trying implicitely not to think anything he wouldn't want Parkman to hear.

"If you ask me," Harper continues with a motion of one hand to Matt, "we should be putting Smythe through the wringer. We should have you and Kershner get everything from him, and I mean— " there's a knock on the door to Parkman's office, followed by the emergence of Miriam again, her brows furrowed and eyes flicking between the three men.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, Secretary, but there is an agent Lauren Gale on the phone for you?" That name mentioned by Parkman's secretary has Harper lifting one brow, lips creeping up into a smile as he very clearly shares; I wondered how long it would take her to find out.

As upsetting as the interruption may be, the news that Miriam brings is probably the only news Parkman would be willing to end the meeting for. "Thank you," he says with a lift of his eyebrows and without moving to pick up the receiver. Gilmore can wait on hold for another minute. When Miriam closes the door again, he takes a deep breath and looks from Harper to Pierce.

"You leave Smythe to me," he says with an almost patriarchal nod. "Stick to the job you've been given, and remember that it isn't P.R. You don't need to worry if it looks like we're winning. Looking like we're winning and actually winning are different." Especially in situations like these.

Looking to Pierce, his stern expression relaxes just slightly. "When the dust has settled, I want to see Ralston on a project to fry Rebel. There's got to be a way. Set a trap, lure 'im in, flip a switch." You can catch rats that way - why not technological entities? "And I need to talk to you about the fugitive you brought in last week - follow-up."

He's halfway around the desk when he turns back to look at them again. "As for Bennet, she's a terrorist. I don't care what her birth certificate says. I'm not saying put a bullet in her brain, since you know it won't work so good, but you track her down just like you track down Petrelli, Carmichael, and whoever else." He starts toward the phone again, but pauses once more. "And find out who their lightning bug is - I've got a funny feeling about it, and I hope to God I'm wrong about it." Settling a unsparing look on Harper again, Parkman nods stiffly.


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