Concerning Gift Horses


brennan_icon.gif chuckles_icon.gif delilah_icon.gif doyle_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif else_icon.gif grace_icon.gif

jericho_icon.gif kaylee3_icon.gif megan_icon.gif rourke_icon.gif scott_icon.gif

Scene Title Concerning Gift Horses
Synopsis A collection of Ferrymen discuss the recent offer extended by one Secretary Praeger (and by extension the Department of Evolved Affairs).
Date February 7, 2010

The Hangar

The apex of the Hangar is a single large room with skylight-inlaid vaulted ceiling, windows that stretch the height of the walls, a warm-toned hardwood floor and a few carefully placed landscape prints on the walls. The kind of art that isn't really out of place anywhere. The doors which lead from the mezzanine to the balcony outside are presently closed, burgundy drapes backed by sheer white curtains drawn across; it's cold outside, just about freezing, with the amber and scarlet colors of New York sunset adding only the patina of warmth to the atmosphere.

Inside, of course, it's quite warm. This is the top floor of the house, and collects all the heat for it; and it has its own fire burning in the hearth. There's also a fair gathering of people here, scattered about the two couches and various armchairs dispersed atop a red- and teal-patterned rug. All of the furniture is anchored around a dark-colored coffee table, which actually holds coffee — caffeinated only, but then the Hangar crew habitually drinks considerable quantities of that stuff. There's also a box of assorted teas, herbal and real tea alike; and a terribly mismatched assortment of mugs, from flat black to Christmas-themed. Saucers? This isn't a tea party.

Or — maybe it is, in a different sense of the phrase.

Grace emerges from the kitchen tucked away in a corner under the mezzanine bearing a carafe of steaming water between mitted hands; this is placed on the open trivet which has been waiting for it. She pours herself a cup of coffee before encouraging her guests to serve themselves; only way to avoid the rush. Order of priorities: drinks, first.

Then down to business.

Do they have places everywhere? Brennan — sans Michelle — is parked on the arm of a couch, a black cup of dark coffee in hand and listening in on the various conversations that permeate the room while people wait. Little by little he's been tiptoeing, sliding and falling into what at first had been just helping kids. Then helping people and so far, he hadn't run screaming. Not even when faced with Doyle and his finger puppets.

But the Summer Meadows project was what was going to be discussed and he was invited over since he and his family were often there lending a hand how they could — or getting nearly arrested on the grounds. The cup is lifted to his lips, a bit of scruff at the jaws from hunkering down in a safehouse with Doyle and after this is over, it looks like he's gonna be heading home. For now though, he's having some coffee. Gooood coffee.

A cup of coffee is being poured by a rather tired-looking Kaylee, eyes with dark circles under them. She slept like a rock, but while her body slept her mind had been working overtime, so it was almost like she didn't sleep at all. The bruise she received at the Summer Meadow riot is a faint mottled yellow by now at least, shouldn't be too long before it's gone. Dressed in a pair of jeans, a dark green turtleneck, her long hair is pulled back into a loose braid that lays against her back. Yawning, she sets the pot back and adds a few things before moving out of the way of others.

Mug cradled in both hands, she moves to sit on the other end of the couch from Brennan, a small nod given to the doctor. There is almost a sigh of relief when she relaxed into the couch, happy to relax, before working at waking herself up more with that coffee.

"You know m'startin' t'wonder if it's ever going t'stop snowin' out there, yeah?" Bundled up for the winter weather, Andy Rourke — operator of the Brick House — makes a somewhat noisy and late entrance to what is otherwise an important meeting to not be late to. "Sorry 'bout the dee-lay, " Andy chimes with a crooked smile. "Got 'eld up at the Queensboro 'cause of all th' goddamned snow. It's colder'an a witch's tit outside, ain't tight right, Else?"

Brown eyes narrow into a sneer over Andy's shoulder as the darkly dressed and equally bundled up form of Else Kjelstrom walks in behind him. It's one thing that the Ferrymen have ex-military and runaways working for them, but a reclusive rock star? That's a little weird. "Mine're nice an' toasty right now than'y very much." As always her accent — for a New York native that she is — seems inscrutably placed. "I 'pologize for Andy here, he was busy doin' his hair." Else then quickly steps up to Andy's side, sweeping his toque hat off of his shaved head to pull down over hers, backpedaling with a goofy smile before turning around and nearly tripping over the couch and offering a bubbly laugh when she almost does.

"An I apologize fer' Else apparently bein' high on cough syrup or somethin'?" They've been working at the same safehouse for about a month now and already they're fighting like a married couple.

Just behind Andy and Else, Eric Doyle steps inside; he's bundled up in a heavy, puffy jacket that makes him look even larger than usual, coloured yellow so that he looks like nothing quite so much as a particularly hideous giant Pac Man. It doesn't help that there's also a yellow knit cap with a little puff-ball on the top on his head.

Hey, all his clothes are back at McRae's place. They had to scavenge something cheap from a Goodwill for him.

He doesn't look too hot, either, pale as a ghost and moving slowly and carefully as he shambles into the Hangar, a thick woolen scarf covering up the bandages across his neck. "I swear to God, I'm going to make you two hit your heads together if you don't quit it," he mutters a little, almost good-naturedly, as he walks around to slump tiredly into a loveseat.

The woman with the dark brown hair and cat-green eyes abstains from both tea and coffee, opting to stand rather than sit, one side of her slim body illuminated by flames crackling in the hearth. Most of the faces here are ones she's come to recognize over the last year and a half, but there's one that she doesn't — in stony silence, she scrutinizes Brennan from across the room and does not relent except to glance toward Andy and Else when they make their entrance.

The last time she saw Kjelstrom, the blonde was emptying the contents of her stomach into Eileen's sink. How she parted with Rourke wasn't much better; there's tension around her mouth and in the rigid shape of her spine that expresses her discomfort in a way that words cannot. She's learned that quiet disregard and a steely exterior are the best defense against members of the Ferry who take issue with her prior affiliations, and her attitude toward Andy is no exception to this rule.

Doyle receives a momentary flicker of her eyes — that is all.

Coming in behind Grace carrying a box of cookies — because what's a coffee klatch without cookies? — Megan Young's vibrant red hair is tamed into a ponytail at the base of her neck. She's still wearing her heavy black cardigan over a deep green turtleneck and jeans, not an unfamiliar sight in any of the safehouses as she makes semi-regular rounds to whoever needs a bit more than EMT training can cover. She nods slight to people and smirks at the quibbling going on as she sets the cookies down and then helps herself to a mug and the hot water for a cup of extremely sweetened tea. A cup that she almost automatically hands to Eric Doyle when he slumps into the seat — loss of blood requires sugar water. The tea is close enough for government work. Silently she makes herself another cup and perches on the arm of a couch.

Delilah is the one to have started this particular ruckus, in a way, and she is one of the last people to show up. Perhaps there is a reason — she looks somewhat flushed as if she had been in a hurry to get to the Hangar, but nothing sticks out enough in terms of what she'd been doing before realizing she had to leave home. Just one of those days? Maybe. When the redhead does finally show her face, she spends a moment hovering at the entrance of the room before exhaling and proceeding to just find a place to sit herself down.

The smell of tea and coffee is tempting, but it doesn't seem like Delilah is in the mood for a tea party today, as she sits and folds her legs over, picking a perch on the arm of one of the chairs and finally taking a minute to pick some clumps of flurries out of her hair.

She could stand on the mezzanine, take advantage of the height it offers, the resulting implication of authority. But the Ferry doesn't work that way; Grace doesn't work that way. Instead, their host opts to lean against the railing at the bottom of the stairs, right arm draped casually along the banister, left hand securely around the coffee cup. Blue eyes in a habitually still expression watch the last few trickle in, one corner of the woman's lips tugging up at the bickering between Else and Rourke. Doesn't that just fit right in here.

She could hammer on the railing in imitation of a gavel, or even just clear her throat. Instead, Grace simply starts speaking, letting the harsh, gratingly broken voice do its own attention-getting. "Most of you should've heard on the grapevine by now, but I'll reprise just in case. We've finally been graced — or burdened — with federal attention at Summer Meadows." The dark-haired woman straightens, pivoting to squarely face her guests, back against the banister. "Apparently the Department of Evolved Affairs is offering funding, quantity and strings unspecified. There was also mention of protection, details unspecified, to prevent repeats of the riot a week ago.

"Let's hear opinions. Statements in favor, statements against." Her lips pull back in a subtle, thin yet amused smile. "But keep the conspiracy theories to a practical minimum, yes?"

"They already came around once before, I remember Praeger picking his way through. Is it a bad thing to necessarily accept this? It means that you'll all have the proper permits finally, and not be working at the good graces of time; and with the influx of money into the project, you could get more houses done. Not that my pockets are going to close to the Meadows project any time soon, but, this will bring more awareness. Just a matter of what the strings are, seen and unseen, and whether you want to accept those strings," Brennan pipes up.

Glancing over at the arrival of Brick House residents, Kaylee grins. "Hey guys…" Blue eyes follow the progress of her friend, concern etched on her features. A grin is flashed at Eric, "Hey buddy. Good to see you moving around. Oh… and we need to talk soon." There is meaning in that look.

Sipping at her coffee curls up on her side of the couch, Kaylee turns attention to Grace listening. Lips press together as she considers the information. "Truthfully, I'm torn." It's admitted with a grimace, her tone tired as she looks. "There is the fact we'd be able to get this all done sooner and avoid things like.. our people getting shot." A hand motions at Doyle. "The project is important, and I'd like to see it completed. These people deserve it. " She gives a soft sigh. "At the same time, there is… so many of us… we risk exposing people and well… the Ferry. Just takes a misplaced thought… plus… never know who they will send out there. IF we decide to take the offer, we'll have to warn our members to really watch their steps."

Kaylee gives a small shake of her head, "Unless I know the strings, I'm not sure I can really decide."

"You know, some'a you 'mericans are all uppity about the government puttin' their toes in things. You know I din' join the Ferry after I got m'self imported 'ere because a'thought Registration was bad or nothin' like that. S'jus' tha' there's a lot've sad people out there, livin' in shitholes an' drug dens or on tha' bloody island out south've the city like some sort've canker sore… You guys're good'n organized, an' I got m'self roped in at the church thanks t'Stephen an' Trent…" There's a roll of Andy's shoulders ina shrug, dark brows furrowed as he inclines his head down.

"So's, m'not exactly the voice a'the mob 'ere. Back 'ome we got cameras on every street corner, personal privacy's sort've a funny business, yeah? I guess short of it is I don't see no problem wif' lettin' a few gov'ment fellas romp around our playground. We ain't doin' nothin' illegal out there, an' if they wanna put some money in'na pot to 'elp us out, ain't that a good sign? You know, we're makin' progress towards un'nerstandin' an all'a that shit?"

Not far from Andy, settling down on the arm of the sofa beaide Brennan, Else folds her arms across her chest and leaves her pea-coat on and keeps Andy's beanie pulled down over her head, matting blonde bangs over her eyes. "Andy's got himself a point," she notes with a furrow of her brows. "I mean, I don't got anythin' against the government wantin' t'help us out, right? Sure as shit beats them spendin' the money on buildin' a prison or something all fucked up like that? Besides, it's not like we own Summer Meadows, we're just helpin' out. If things get too uncomfortable, we can always leave, right? You guys are too paranoid sometimes, worry'n about strings and stuff. If they wanted to do something bad it probably already would've happened."

Andy reaches out towards Else, fingers curled into a fist, which Else proceeds to bump with a fist of her own. "Preach on sista'," Andy jokingly notes, wiggling his fingers after the fist bump sort've like firstworks or something. That's how he'd explain it anyway.

The tea's thrust into Eric's hands, and he murmurs his thanks to Megan before taking a careful sip of it as he settles down. "Hey, Kaylee," he murmurs, gaze hooding a little as he nods over to her with a faint, fragile smile. The puppeteer's gaze roams over the room, pausing upon Eileen as he catches sight of her and stirring a bit to sit up as if to say something in her direction — but then Grace's rough, grating voice cuts through the room's air and he cuts off whatever he was about to say.

"I'm…" He pauses, shifting uncomfortable as he speaks up, "…I'd be worried about… I mean, if they move in, won't those of us that're on the run need to keep out of the Meadows?"

"The Department of Evolved Affairs is a separate entity from those responsible for Moab Federal Penitentiary." This from Eileen. There's nothing argumentative about her tone, which she keeps low and measured — a stark contrast to that which had boomed and echoed in the rafters below ground in Grand Central Terminal during the trial of Emile Danko. "That said, there's no evidence to suggest that they have our best interests in mind or at heart. Not all of us received pardons for our work with Operation Apollo — no matter what their intentions, any government employee that comes into contact with our operatives is obliged to report to their superiors.

"We need to identify both the risks and the benefits before we can decide which one outweighs the other."

"He seemed interested in whatever he could do — so even if we don't want their protection, it really wouldn't hurt to look into getting that funding." Delilah knows that having fugitives around government workers is bound to end up dangerous — but the fact that the Ferry can't keep up the pace of work stands out quite a lot to her. They do not have endless resources, even though they try to. She sits up enough so that she is seen as the speaker, but she does not make any wild gestures or something of that nature.

"I'm shaky on getting protection from the Department, but right now they need to support something, and we need fiscal support. As long as there aren't strings on funding, I think we should at least look into that. Our wallets ain't gettin' any fatter."

As she listens to the initial viewpoints, Megan's eyes sharpen slightly on Andy. She seems thoughtful. "So for the sake of argument, let me put this thought out there. The Ferry has run under the radar for a long time now. And we've done a lot of good for people who just flat do not want to be on the government's to-do list. But we know for sure at this point that at least some if not all of the houses are compromised because of the operation that some members and allies were conscripted or volunteered to go on. We wanted into the public eye — we chose the public eye by taking on Summer Meadows. And if the Department of Evolved Affairs wants to play in our sandbox, first I don't see how we can actually stop them, and second… though they may be using it for publicity purposes, it also gets us some of what we said we wanted. Both money, possibly more volunteers, and for people to sit up and take notice. Hey, here's a group of people who are actually doing something to help." She nods to Delilah as the other woman speaks. "I'm pretty much with you. So long as we're cautious about the strings, I don't see any real issues with it."

A boy's voice clears toward the back of the group. Young man's, really. Jericho's a familiar face to a few of the operators here today, particularly the ones who've worked Staten Island for any length of time recently.

It is probably of no surprise that referencing 'Moab' is wont to elicit comment from the lanky, black-eyed boy with a burning stuff habit. After all, he and all his best friends suffered a little longer in its hands than most of those who are here. "Is it—" he has to pause momentarily to crane his head over to the left, spit something that was in his mouth into a trash can. Swinging back, he pushes moppy black curls back from his forehead. "Is it gonna look fucking weird if we say no?" he asks. "Come on.

"Protection, funding." He hikes narrow shoulders up under his ears, glances sidelong at the boy beside him. Chuckles' features remain stoic and white. Jerry's on his own, far as speaking goes, and he chooses not to mind it, gesturing over at Megan with a looped pinkie finger. "God knows that the people who are already living there could use less riots and a little extra change. We say no, we don't have to give a reason but it's gonna look fuckin' strange that we don't. Is this really a choice?"

Grace listens quietly, standing still in her place by the stairs, not even drinking from her mug as she takes in the statements made. "Sounds like there's almost a consensus in favor," she remarks. A nod to Doyle. "Very likely, Doyle. Senior operators may also need to be careful. It all depends on exactly what happens." Her gaze shifts to Eileen. "Some general risks and benefits can be defined now.

"We've been offered money." Another nod to Delilah, as the woman continues. "Exactly. No matter how big a slice it winds up being, it's going to be orders of magnitude beyond what the Ferry can spare. And if they offer competent 'protection' — it's going to be more than we can do alone, and a lot more legal." Jericho, then. "Megan's right — we were working to get attention. Now that we've got it, it's decision time. There's always a choice.

"Because there's always downsides. You take government money, you play by government rules. Every time." Now Grace lifts her cup, sips from the black liquid inside. "Sure, if everything's aboveboard and fair, we win and they win." Blue eyes flicker to Eileen. "But the real crux is, if we sign that dotted line there is no going back, and we have no actual legal purchase in Summer Meadows; there's no way to stop the Department from taking over the whole of it if they choose." A brief, thin smile, cooler than the one before. "Not that we have any means now either, but at least there's no ribbon and bow involved."

"Is this what we're really prepared to do?" she concludes, looking to each member of the assembly in turn.

"Do you have access to a lawyer?" Brennan inquires, a glance to Else and a bit of surprise on his face but soon schools it back to pleasant neutral. "Yes the offer has been made and really, it's in their best interest too to be involved with a community that's aboveboard seeing as they're a brand new department and they have as much to loose as you all here do. One wrong move and they could find that they're dismissed and seperated to the wind and the Department of Evolved Affairs becomes a laughingstock." He lifts his coffee to take another sip then lowers it again.

"Obviously, you're not going to look at the papers of whatever they offer and sign. If they wanted to waltz right in and take care of it all, they'd do so. But it'd look bad on them too. Get a lawyer, hell, I'll hire you a damn fine one, or any smart one will do it pro-bono for all the publicity it will get them. Make a list of counter requests. Couch it as requests not demands and see what they say, read the fine print. But for better or worse, doing what we've done here has put us on their radar and now we have to contend with it. It's a matter of remaining in control, the reins in your hand and not theirs when all is said and done."

"There is that.." Kaylee murmurs nodding at Chuckles. "How would it look if we turn our back on the offer?" Taking a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "But there is also the residents… I personally remember the reaction when Linderman tossed funding in." Kaylee's tone a bit bland, since it was her that had almost been hit be a large banner. "How will the residents take the government sweeping in with their 'help'?"

Taking a deep breath, she shrugs. "I like the doctor's idea. Grab a lawyer.. make sure to go over everything." Her head nods to Brennan giving him a small smile. "If they take it over… well.. as long as the work gets done….." Though her tone says she's not completely happy about it.

"We gots that Chesterfield gal, the one who's mum is runnin' for mayor? She's always offerin' up unsolicited legal counsel an' such, yeah?" Reaching up to rub a hand over his head, Andy takes a moment to reconsider that. "Not sure if'n she's the most sane stick in the box, but the gal's at least got drive. She'll come runnin' round quotin' this law or that law an' make 'ooever's 'ead spin…" But on consideration, something about the suggestion seems to have distracted Andy.

"Look, our intentions ain't what's even the bloody point 'ere, is it? The point is the gov'ment wants t'put some money and bodies towards fixin' up Summer Meadows, an' we're a bloody volunteer group. I say we tell 'em it's a brilliant idea and then 'ooever ain't comfortable stickin' 'round there doesn't." Both of Andy's hands go up in the air, eyes scanning the crowd of people. "All in bloody favor of not bein' a paranoid loon say aye?" Both of Andy's dark brows furrow at that acerbic comment.

"I," comes a grumbling voice from the mezzanine over where the meeting is taking place, "disagree, Rourke." Out of line of sight, the grousing belongs to the man who winds his way from the balcony overlooking the meeting area and comes thumping down the steps, one booted footfall at a time. Clutching a tall mug of coffee by the handle, Scott Harkness offers a furrowed brow and a stare across those gathered in conversation. "I don't think I need to remind you all any more of what Megan here commented on." There's a nod of the old man's head to Megan, and a quiet sip of coffee intersperses his words. "Maybe I do need to remind you that a federal agent stalked the Garden less than six months ago and brutally attacked some of our members. Daiyu Feng is still out there somewhere, whether or not he actually works for the government still. Then we have that shit heel Emile Danko who we turned over to the feds and now he's— what— on their payroll back in town?" Either Scott hasn't had enough coffee yet today, or this is a sore spot for him.

"Fool me once," he brandishes the cup around, "fine, whatever. Fool me twice, that doesn't happen to Scott Harkness." Another sip of his coffee is taken, and Scott carries himself over to where Andy stands, giving the younger man a stern look, before he focuses out towards McRae's boys. "We've done what we can for Summer Meadows, but this operation is about more than just playing Habitat for Humanity for the city of New York; it's about Ferrying people away from this situation. I don't know if some of you need a refresher course on the sales line?" Scott's attention drifts down to his now empty cup of coffee, which is rocked back and forth before a latticework of blue-white light forms around it and the cup simply disappears from his hand.

"Jericho is right, this isn't a choice, but it's not the one he's thinking. I vote that we should pull up our tent stakes at Summer Meadows and let the government handle it from here on out. Those people aren't our responsibility, we did our part, and if the government screws it up— well that's their fault and not ours. We have a responsibility," a look is given to Eric, as if in demonstration, "to the people the government has time and again failed or abused," then a look to Jericho, "and to protect our vested interests."

Else and Andy aren't fist-bumping at that.

"So what is it that they want?" The tips of Eric's fingers slide over the sides of the cup of tea in his hands, cradled in both as they are, and he looks over the gathered Ferrymen with a frown creasing his lips, and furrowing his brow deeply, "I mean— what is it that their interest is in Summer Meadows? Why're they all of a sudden moving in— what do they want to do with it?"

"Lawyers aren't going to protect you from government assassins like the one who murdered an associate of ours only three weeks ago while he was cooperating with them. We play strictly by their rules and we're finished." If there was any doubt as to where Eileen's opinions lie, they're banished by the subtle look of gratitude she directs across the room to Harkness. It sounds as though she's in agreement with him — to a point.

"We can't afford to arouse any more suspicion than we already have," she says, "but we also need to be protecting our investments, both in Summer Meadows and elsewhere. We should be looking at this as an opportunity. If we're going to accept Praeger's offer, then we need to isolate the community from our other efforts and make a clear division between what's happening there and elsewhere. Let the Department think it has some control over our operation, use Summer Meadows as a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from the Ferry's other activities. I would not be opposed to using these new connections to feed them bad intelligence about what else we're doing — at the very least, we need to tap our resources and form a counterespionage team to ensure we're keeping one step ahead.

"We have operatives whose abilities can be used in such a situation." Now she's looking at Kaylee, and anyone in the room who knows what the blonde's gift is should not be wondering why. "Let's take advantage."

"As far as it looked like, it really just seemed like our choice. It's our project, not theirs. They'll help, but I doubt that they want direct credit. It's more inspirational if it is random volunteers, rather than part of a department. They just seem to want to support the view that people are people, not red and blue dots." Delilah answers the young man out of McRae's crowd to the best of her knowledge, but includes some of what Grace had said with her own opinion. "I don't think they'd want to take it from us, unless we for some reason just dumped the effort. People eyeroll when government takes over volunteer projects, and that seems like the last thing they might want. I told him that we'd be in contact in around a week. I don't recall saying we'd have made a decision. There is lots of room to go over technicalities, yet."

Delilah smiles over at Brennan when he pipes up. "I think Praeger even asking me about the project was all about finding a way to make sure that nobody sees the Department as a joke. Hell, when he walked in that room and told me who he was, I was surprised. I thought the whole bloody branch was just some phantom thing and didn't actually exist 'cept in name."

"And if we leave, Scott— " The redhead tilts precariously on her seat, looking quite sternly over her shoulder. "— those people will have nobody there that they trust. It's not even about fixing things, deep down. It's about making people trust other people again. So if we up and abandon that, it'll be like we were never even there."

"I agree that we should at least try to take advantage of something here. Even if it is just a few extra bucks on hand."

Megan turns her head as Harkness puts in his two cents worth, pursing her lips thoughtfully. "Ultimately," she says quietly, "the whole reason we operate under the radar is because the people we help get the hell out of Dodge aren't people who can do it alone. We have kids, some of whom are orphaned and some whose parents for whatever reason can't help them or can't even go with them when we get them out of town; we have people who erupt with powers that are afraid of being conscripted into the service or blackholed in places like Moab. We started the Summer Meadows gig in part as a way of … being an example. To everyone, Evo and non alike, that it's not just about your status. We're all people. It'd be nice to keep making that point. And I agree with Eileen on this — we cannot afford for them to look too closely at us. Turning them down, just walking away… those things will make them sit up and demand to know why we don't want to take advantage of the money they're offering. Those of us not on the run for whatever reason can — and I think should — continue to help out in Summer Meadows. For two reasons — they need our help, and it keeps them from looking too closely at whatever else we may be doing under their noses. The idea of feeding them bad intel works for me too."

There's a pause as Megan considers. "Counterintelligence was not my gig, folks — I'm just a combat medic and a nurse." She hesitates and says quietly, "My bottom line here has to be the people in our network. We lost one safehouse to Humanis First… innocents, operators… people killed just because those bastards didn't like the fact that they were Evolved. And with Danko on the loose again? I have some pretty serious concerns about all of it. We all keep saying 'the government' like it's one big entity, but we know better than most, it's not. And while a lot of the conspiracy theory shit going around is scary — and more so because we know it's true — there's also a lot of people out there who are not part of that. Who deserve whatever help we can give. So long as the people in our network continue to take priority, I'm willing to continue to work out there at Summer Meadows too." She shrugs a bit.

A fierce shake buzzes through Jericho's curly-haired head at talk of lawyers, no doubt symptomatic of the fact that he'd probably shouted out of his cell a dozen times or more that he had wanted his. Back in the day. He has a little bit of a mouth on him, though; it's more than probable he hadn't used 'I want my lawyer' in that sequence of words precisely. "The fuck, Brennan. If they really wan—"

Of course, Scott Harkness' bass rumble drowns him out, less by volume than by the weight of seniority and cynical wisdom. The young Egyptian's mouth twists around a thoughtful sneer. The volley of variable agreement and sticky flow of reluctance leaves him silent for a long moment. He opens his mouth to vote agreement with the general sentiment, give or take an emphatic punchline to the effect of: and the DoEA is their sugar daddy and not our problem, but he's cut off. Straightening, Chuckles rouses himself from his fugue state of apathy to reply— or rather, to ask: "Anybody asked the people in Summer Meadows whether they want the government all up in their grill? Roosevelt isn't exactly like Staten, and we've already rape-charitied them with new plumbing and Christmas cookies, but everybody outside the Upper East Side knows letting the government in is different.

"Even if you do think the government's a whole lot of honest people just trying to keep their jobs." He glances at Megan, and his eyes blink like skipping stones. "What did they say?"

"We don't know, Jason," Grace replies. She knows it's an assumed name; uses it for exactly that reason. "Not yet. So far all we have is the overture." She takes another, deeper drink of her coffee, letting others continue in that silence and take the burden of speech off the woman's damaged larynx. Doesn't mean Grace is about to stay silent, however.

The cup moves, utilized as a pointer in Eileen and Delilah's respective directions. "Those are very good points. And since the prevailing wind seems to involve at least entering serious discussions with the DoEA — " A few dissenting voices aside, and Grace hasn't even really ventured her own opinion, but if the Ferry waited for consensus on major subjects it would get exactly nothing done, ever. "— let's keep them in mind.

"Now, if we did move forward on that majority…" Two very simple, anything but simple questions. "Who might we want to have handle negotiations, possibly with Praeger himself — and who are the best people to approach about keeping tabs on them, assuming some sort of agreement is reached?"

"I can, if you like. I'm just dipping my toes in the ferry, so the connection between me and the rest of you all is a new and fairly weak one. I've dealt with the government and with the evolveds affairs what with passing out the vaccinations. And as one of the financial contributer's to this, I have as much to loose if things go to pot" Brennan offers up. "At least with the handling of negotiations"

Blue eyes lifts to look at Eileen meeting her gaze, brows dropping a bit. "You know how I feel about that." The words are softly spoken, but then she glances away with a sigh, as she seems to give it serious consideration. If it protects her people…. Of course, she'd have to be extra cautious since her registered ability is only a small slice of what she is.

The mention of a negotiator, Kaylee is the last person to offer…. though it wouldn't be the first time she was drug into a PR roll, considering what she can do, even though she's been trying not to be an eavesdropper.. though it's harder and harder to ignore the soft mumbling of voices at the back of her tired mind."

A small smirk is sent Brennan's way,Kaylee nods a bit, "Not a bad idea really… I think you'd be the least suspected and like you said.. you dealt with them.. which means you kinda have your foot in both doors."

There's times when Scott Harkness misjudges an individual, such as it was when he first met Grace and Alistair. All too often the gruff demeanor and headstrong personality refuses to do anything other than dig in heels and stay entrenched in a perception of a person or a place. Such as it was with Eileen Ruskin, someone who — to Scott — appeared so much as a fragile young woman with an affinity for birds who happened to be allied with terrorists. But that's not entirely the case, not as Scott's seeing her now for the first time. There's an assessing look for a moment, one that Grace recognizes from when he first took a shine to her.

"Get me a short list of people you know that have counterintelligence experience and I'll put that on a forward to McKeon. You've got a good point, and I'm willing ot condede to that. If you think we can compartmentalize a section of our volunteer staff, I'm willing to do that. Set up a dummy safehouse out on Roosevelt Island, put an operator in place without much in the line of dangerous intel, and work out of there…" Rubbing a hand over his chin, Scott nods his head slowly. "Alright, Ruskin. That's your project, get a list of personnel you can offer for vetting if they're outside the Ferry, a list of hardware you'll need and I'll see what we can produce. Whether or not we stay in Summer Meadows, it's a good idea."

Furrowing his brows and sharing a skeptical look, Andy and Else seem relatively indifferent on the idea of some huge spy game going on, but at the same time it seems to be leaning towards some sort of resolution that they were agreeing on anyway. Even if it took putting counterintelligence on the table to whet Scott's military-minded appetite.

"Well, we ain't a bloody dictatorship so I guess— what— put it to a vote? All'a you who showed up means you give a flying flick 'bout this." Andy offers a look up to Grace, who in return quirks a brow at flying flick as if trying to parse some of the words spilling out of Andy's mouth and lagging behind for it. With a faint smile, she looks over to Scott with that same brow raised.

"Alright, two points up for decision then." Grace comments in her coarse voice after Scott remains silent. "One, nomination of Harve Brennan towards diplomatic relations with the Department of Evolved Affairs…" her pale eyes drift over towards Eileen, then to Delilah, then sweep across the crowd again. "And the question of remaining involved at Summer Meadows in a compartmentalized capacity. Is there anyone opposed to either of these suggestions?" Andy and Else look to each other, silently conferring, and the two shake their heads at each other, then offer the same silent aquiescence to Grace, whom then begins looking for contention across the room.

A shake of Doyle's head, though he doesn't seem too pleased with the situation - it appears he's unwilling to rock the boat, frowning down against his tea as he brings it back up to his lips for a sip, sinking into the puffy pac-man coloured coat until it seems as if it's about to consume him.

Eileen is leery of nominating Brennan to be the one to negotiate with Praeger's people. This does not, like so much else, manifest as much more than a faint pull at the corners of her mouth. Then; "I think it would be wise," she says, "for negotiations to be handled by someone who didn't attend this meeting and isn't aware of our plans for the dummy safehouse. We've dealt with telepaths, memory manipulators and psychometers in the past. Unless someone like Kaylee is willing to accompany Dr. Brennan as precautionary measure, it may be too risky."

"Then it would have to be someone totally/ new, Eileen. The ferry is all about networking, so it'd be kind of counter-intuitive if there were somehow //one person out of all of us that had his or her own little world and was totally oblivious to at least the fact there are more places, if not knowing where any are." Delilah seems torn on Eileen's reasoning. "If we made a dummy house, that person would still know it was a lie, cause they'd still know that there are more somewhere out there. I'd let Brennan do it if just because he's one of the new people and isn't as intimate with everything." The redhead rolls her shoulders once, glancing at Kaylee and back to Brennan before addressing the room again.

"There's no real way around having the person that deals with Praeger, also knowing about the existence of more properties…"

"Taking someone like Kaylee would be fine…. except that Dr. Brennan's a negator," Megan says calmly as she sips her tea. "He's actually perfect for that role. They can't read him, and he's new enough to all this that even if he did get read, he can't give away all that much about the network. He's been blindfolded whenever he's gone to a safehouse, for his own protection as well as ours. I usually take my kids to him at the Suresh Center or at his office, so as to keep it compartmentalized."

"Anybody who wants to play pattycake with the Feds should be allowed. It's not like we're one big fuckin' entity, either," Jericho calls out. It is his way of saying 'I won't think of you as a traitor,' except that the defensively wolfish pinch of his shoulders indicates that he has a few grudges that are going to take more than boardroom conversation and economic logic to move past.

There's a vein visible in his neck, evidence of some greater temper or unease being suppressed, but it's a comfort to him: that either way, Summer Meadows isn't going to be his problem. Soon as Brenann or whomever lays the name down, he hands over the hammer and paintbrush to somebody in uniform. Preferably while wearing sterilized gloves. Through somebody dumb enough to play proxy. Over a very, very long distance.

Eloquently, Chuckles shrugs. "The ayes have the ayes," he says, drolly mocking an accent from a land far, far away. Compartmentaliation already seems in play. There's a beat's pause, though, and then he glances at Eileen, neither a familiar face nor unfamiliar. However hard-bitten and privvy to too many shitty experiences he, his friend, and the other 'Moabites' are generally wont to be, terms like 'counter-intelligence' are slightly outside his ken.

He wouldn't mind hurting 'them,' naturally, and that's how he parses all of that. Ways to hurt; ones that he doesn't have the skills or knowledge to truly contribute to. Chuckles drops the British accent. "The boss would want to lend some hands setting up the puppet house, if we could get in and out real fast."

"Hey now, I think folks here are being pretty peaceable. Foul language and anger like you're showing can simmer down now" Brennan calls out to Jericho, seeing the anger on the man. "I can't pretend to know whatever it is the rest of you have gone through, but i'm pretty sure that the folks here, aren't the ones that deserve all that anger and foul words" Brennan hitches his pants a bit, resettling on the arm of the couch. "As for telepaths, they can read me" Brennan interjects lifting his hand as if wanting to clear the air about what it is that he does. "I'm a registered power negator. Pin point, not blanket. So unless I know there's a telepath and I'm focused on them, they can still read me until i'm negating them. But, if I go in and do this-" He spreads his palm out towards the rest of the group in a placating manner. "that is to say, if you all agree and it's myself chosen, I can go in actively negating. It would dramatically decrease any chance of anything, in that specific sphere of fear, of being learned. So someone like Kaylee" What does Kaylee do? "Whatever her ability is, wouldn't be affected by me. In fact from the sounds of it, whatever she does would be beneficial to have be ones side"

"I'm a registered directional telepath." Kaylee offers to Brennan, deciding to let him in on the secret. She doesn't look at him, Kaylee's eyes go to a few that have been protesting her registration. "In truth.." Her eyes finally, move to the doctor. "I'm a telepath.." She gives him a tight lipped smile. "Not something I go about advertising.. though the Ferry know… and now you know."

Turning her attention back to the room, "I'll go if needed, but I'm not going to force myself into anyone's head unless I have too. Plus, I'm in the middle of a few things.. so… understand I might not be able to actually make the meeting." She rubs fingers across tired eyes. "Um.. but yeah.. I can try and go with Dr. Brennan. Lord knows I've dealt with these guys last time they showed up."

"Negator?" Scott, Else and Rourke all chime in at once, brows raised. There's a crooked smile from Scott as he shakes his head, looking from Brennan to Eileen. "Well," the gruff soldier admits, "that seems to solve that problem right there." Grace offers a silent nod in agreement, "What we'll do over the next couple of weeks, since everyone here seems to be in agreement to this, is compartmentalize a team to run this Meadows safehouse. There's a butcher shop just across the street from the Meadows proper, it's been run by someone in the city I've known for a few years now— best slab bacon in the whole of New York there— and I think I could convince him to give us some basement space. That puts us in vicinity of the Meadows and out of the housing projects where people'd need to live."

Shifting his weight ot one foot and looking longingly towards the cofee pot, Scott's brows furrow and he goes silent for a moment. "Thatcher… I can't agree to having help with this. From what I hear there's a conflict of interest going on from McRae and something that happened down at the Sweat Lodge, so I'm just not comfortable with that until I hear otherwise from McRae. Brennan, your ability sounds more than versatile enough to handle the negotiations part, and I'll see if I can rustle up someone who head the safehouse proper to work with you. There's a girl who might just be right for the job— but I'm gonna' weigh options before approaching her about it."

Offering a look to Eileen, Grace lifts that one quizzical brow again, her distinctive voice asking a simple question. "Have your reservations about doctor Brennan changed?" There's the most subtle incline of her head towards Eileen as the question is posed.

The last of the tea's finished, and Doyle leans forward to slowly set the cup down upon the table before leaning back once more, his head tilting a little (with a bobbling of that stupid hat-puff) to look over towards Jericho and Chuckles as the pair talk. A little grunt stirs in the back of the injured puppeteer's throat, a sound of dour agreement with their general feelings on the whole matter, though he doesn't speak up any further for the moment.

There was a time that McRae's crew could have gotten in and out quite quickly. But Carolina's dead.

Stirred from a dark moment of thought by Scott's words, then, his head lifts to frown at the man, "…conflict of interest?"

"No one has to know about our plans for the dummy house except for the people in this room and anyone that Harkness assigns to the project," Eileen says, her words directed at Delilah, Megan. Although her statements are not, her tone remains carefully neutral and at a volume just loud enough to be heard over the flames as they continue to lick at and consume the firewood in the hearth. "While it's true that we're all about networking, we're also incredibly disorganized. There is no official roster of Ferryman operatives, no master list of safehouses in the greater metropolitan area and their proprietors, no guidebook detailing network rules and protocols. Very few of us are — as you say — intimate with everything. I can think of a dozen names off the top of my head that belong to people who don't have knowledge of this conversation or what's been proposed here today, each of them as competent if not more so than the good doctor here."

To Brennan himself, Eileen offers little more than a hard look etched out of stone. "If you're prepared to explain to Praeger why you're using your ability on his people to strip them of theirs, then by all means — go in negating." Which answers Grace's question.

No. Her reservations have not changed. Still, she offers no further argument and instead directs her attention out the nearest window, the snow gathering on its sill and the outline of the carrion bird perched behind the glass pane. "If everyone else is in agreement that Brennan is the best man for the job, I don't think there's much left for us to debate."

"There is nobody else readily available, and if they don't hear something from us they might think it's fishy. So at this point-" Delilah gives Eileen's cat-like peering the other direction a small frown. Puh. "He seems to be the best choice. If someone better comes around, maybe we can change things, but as it stands, Brennan is at least some type of Negator, and he knows little enough that even if someone got into him, they wouldn't get much."

"As he presents the best current option, Doctor Brennan being intermediate is good for me.."

However different McRae's two boys look, the grunts of grudging assent they give sound oddly alike. That assent is directed entirely at Grace, however. The cat was away for months, but now that it's here, the mice don't get to play anymore. It feels, to the ex-cons, as simple as that.

Brennan himself, however well-qualified he is for other things like ninja-ing the bureaucracy of the DoEA or whatever, doesn't apparently seem qualified to tell them off. Charles is largely content to merely ignore him and squint at the others in the room, deciding that there are indeed enough hands here to prep a rudimentary safehouse. Jericho burns off the worst of his annoyance with the silver-haired old maaaan by lifting his chin slightly, flicking a finger underneath it at Brennan. It isn't as explicitly rude as a middle finger, but the sentiment is still there.

Lucky for everybody involved, they aren't going to be Brennan's problem for much longer, either. Compartmentalization makes the world go around.

Brennan doesn't shoot a hard look back to Eileen, just a nod of his head and matter of factly ignore any rude gestures from you know who. He's learned quite a few of them himself in a handful of different countries and could retaliate and they've neeever know what he was saying. Though he does have a hard time keeping his fingers from fingers-pelling them where to take their attitude. McRae's two boys that is.

"Who knows why I might go in with negation guns blazing. maybe I'm having a bad day and I can't seem to turn it off today. You know how it is when you have young children and get very little sleep cause you've been up with them all night. Tiredness can lead to pretty bad control of ones ability. They can't blame me for that" He points out. "Listen, I'm not gonna try and convince you that I'm the only person for the job, I'm sure there's many others, and I'm just a fresh face on the block who slipped in through the cracks. I'm just someone who's offering, that's all. With Kaylee here, she can run mental interference, I'm sure, and that will cover most bases. I'm not perfect for the job, but I'd presume, that I'm a sight more better than yourself Miss. My ability is beneficial in that if there is a telepath that you are all so worried about, it won't be so important and fearful an issue. I'm just putting myself out there as a possiblity."

There's a shrug of his shoulders and then a chuckle. "And boy is my wife going to kill me. Leave to patch up Jason there, come back with a safehouse" He shakes his head.

There is a grimace from Kaylee at Scott's announcement, her expression falling and her gaze drops to the floor to avoid eye contact with others, but she gives a short nod. "I can understand that." Her eyes lifting to the senior operator, before glancing at Doyle and his question. "Trust me.. you know." Her tone a touch bland, before she goes back to ground watching, her hands wrapped around her cooling mug, now untouched. Beyond that.. she doesn't have much else to say.

With a deep breath and a nod of his head, Scott and Grace seem roughly pleased with how civil this particular meeting went as opposed to the stories about Danko's trial with the Ferrymen. "Alright, Ruskin you have your orders for those lists, I'd like to have them back here in three days time. Brennan, I'll keep you up to speed with the status of that butcher shop and the safe house, for now just act as our face on the ground at the Meadows." A look is afforded over to McRae's men with a nod of his head. "You boys let McRae know what consensus we came to, and if he has any reservations about his people being out at the Meadows to make them known to me and we'll arrange something." An eye is afforded to Delilah, followed by an affirmed nod, but nothign more, as if to say— good call on this meeting.

"Everyone else, back to whatever the hell you were doing before we started this." Scott claps his hands together, making his way across the floor and a beeline towards the coffee pot, while Grace angles a pale stare over towards Brennan, as if contemplating the doctor's depth of involvement in all of this. "Scott…" Grace breathes out with a coarse tone of voice, "after you're done filling your black hole with coffee, we should talk about that girl you have in mind?"

Scott pauses, glances at the coffee pot, then over his shoulder to Grace before giving a slow nod. "Yeah… yeah we will."

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