bf_kara_icon.gif sharrow_icon.gif

Scene Title Creep
Synopsis I don't care if it hurts / I want to have control
Date August 18, 2019

To most people in Providence the word Sentinel is not a household term.

Among the dusky pines and farmlands of the Pine Barrens there is no greater understanding of what that word means, other than someone who watches and protects. They prefer it that way.

Just past the Emerson farm is a winding dirt road that leads to Penn Swamp Pond. Here, fringe residents of Providence took root a little over a year ago and have done little to make their presence known to the wider community. There’s a single farmhouse out there, on the edge of the forest where large granite protrusions make the ground rocky and uneven. It’s sat since the 1800s, usually in the hands of one large family or another, right up until the Civil War killed the last owners.

The two story farmhouse has peeling white paint on its wooden siding, windows that are either boarded up or left wide open for air circulation. A few heavy trucks are parked by the dilapidated barn that’s falling in on itself, neither of them look new. An attentive eye picks out the blocky shapes of dark green plastic affixed to some of the pine trees facing the road, inactive claymore mines intended to be activated in the event that defense of the property is required.

The last owners didn’t install them.

Sentinel Enclave

Providence, New Jersey Pine Barrens

August 18

5:05 pm

Coming up the road from the outskirts of Providence, guests to this old estate are met by two to three black-clad figures with the look of paramilitary operatives. The United States is shitty with their kind since the war ended, opportunistic soldiers-for-hire selling their services to the highest bidders. But these few, while they look the part, are driven by something more than just financial gain.

Kara Prince isn’t expected as she comes up the road to the house, but her face is one well-known to the Sentinel officers that patrol this remote property. Her arrival is barely remarked upon, as is her forward progress through the overgrown front yard to the yawning portal of the front door, propped open by a brick. As she disappears into the dark confines of the house, their focus is on the exterior, on the other.

In the humid heat of a sunny day after nearly a week of rain and no wind to speak of, the old farmhouse feels more like an oven on the inside. The small foyer gives way to a living room of old, ratty cloth-fabric couches and leather armchairs around a nonfunctional television. The furnishings of past residents left to collect dust. Through the doorway into the brightly lit kitchen and its many windows, Kara finds who she had come here for.

Charles Sharrow stands by the kitchen sink, his sleeves rolled up and suspenders hanging down limp at his side, washing dishes by hand. As Kara comes in, Sharrow turns to regard her over his shoulder, laying a soapy plate back down into the full sink. “Mr. Prince,” he greets quietly, reaching for a washcloth to dry his hands, “to what do I owe the pleasure?”

Kara isn't sure what she expected to find the old man doing upon letting herself in, but she finds herself idling just beyond the kitchen door, jarred momentarily by the… normalcy in this candid scene she's intruded on. Were the house not surrounded by armed guards on an armed property, it would be all too easy to imagine him just another one of Providence's residents who she's come to check in on.

But he's not; so she doesn't.

This also isn't a welfare check.

"I'd needed to speak with you," Kara answers brusquely, forgoing the formality of a returned greeting. "You've heard what happened the other day at the Factory, with Praxis?" She remains standing in the door, posture casual in so much as she does not clasp her hands before or behind her, does not unnaturally straighten her posture. There is, however, an undeniable tension resting in her— a lack of comfort for being where she stands.

Being in Sharrow's den is neither somewhere she envisioned ever being, nor particularly desires to be.

“Belatedly,” Sharrow admits, setting the washcloth aside. “But yes, I heard their representative made some poor judgments. I also heard that Eileen… performed something of a miracle for Mr. Ramirez.” With a slow motion of one hand, Sharrow indicates the block-topped table in the middle of the kitchen, surrounded by tall chairs. It’s easy for him to settle down into them, given their height, and from the way in which he moves that ease of accessibility seems important.

Folding his hands in front of himself as he sits, Sharrow raises his brows and asks not a tactical question but something else equally as mundane. “I can put on some tea, if you’d like…” comes with a brief motion to the woodburning stove and the iron kettle atop it. He is astoundingly British to recommend hot tea on a day where it’s nearly ninety degrees with seventy percent humidity.

The gesture to sit is met with a simple incline of her head to acknowledge the silent invitation. It’s only after the offer for tea is made does Kara shift from her spot, crossing to the tall table. “That won’t be necessary,” she reassures him, leaning onto the tall chair. One foot remains to the floor, the other planted on one of the crossbars strung between the chair’s narrow legs. She looks the old man over, her intended course of conversation diverted briefly by a curiosity that’s visible in her eyes just before she asks it.

“So she did,” Kara acknowledges of Eileen’s miracle, her expression opaque save for that brief flicker in her gaze. “Is that the first time you’ve heard of something like that?”

Moving past his hospitality, Sharrow addresses the direct question head-on. “Kazimir Volken was not known for his compassion, nor his ability to heal. I’ve heard stories of what the younger Petrelli and the late Gabriel Gray were able to accomplish with their time in its graces, but to have it happen in such proximity to someone so familiar… no.” Sharrow’s eyes dip down to the table, wandering the cracks and knots in the wood thoughtfully.

“I could go on,” Sharrow explains, “about the things I’ve seen Kazimir do. Is that what has you so tense?” The corners of his eyes crease further, and as he looks up to Kara he addresses the elephant in the room. “I heard about what happened to Sága.”

“To Yi-Min.” Kara has no trouble in correcting him, the level of tension in her not changing the slightest. Her shoulders are still, her hand resting motionlessly on the top of her thigh. Perhaps tea would have been a good idea after all, not that it would have kept her from being terse. Little in her affect speaks to an ability for her to be anything but.

And yet stories of just that had made their way to Sharrow.

“No,” she answers after a pointed silence. “Waiting for Praxis’s retaliation has many on edge. We’re shoring up defenses, but the knowledge they have at least one teleporter, one who’s unafraid to drop explosives on their enemies…” Now the munitions chaplain lifts a hand, palm upturned. Her bone-dry humor is evident only in that small tip, and an upward tick of one eyebrow.

“Those are the hardest to pin down,” Sharrow says, not bothering to belabor his sentiments about Yi-Min’s identity. “Kazimir decided to recruit the one teleporter we ever discovered, even though he wasn't a good fit for the organization. Best to have him on a short leash than none at all. This is perhaps not something covered in that screed that was written about him.”

Sharrow has strong feelings about Wolves of Valhalla, none of them good.

“How to combat their kind was always a challenge Kazimir faced with ingenuity. He realized early on that he could not kill every member of their kind without leveraging their own abilities against them.” Sharrow doesn't seem proud of that reminiscence. “He saw half the true answer, but did not see the other until too late to make a difference. It was never about anything other than what a difference power makes.”

Spreading his hands across the table, Sharrow says, “Power is victory, weakness is defeat. It is as simple as that, and for all that people like you and I like to imagine we’re in control… so long as we are not special, there will always be someone stronger than us. And we will always fail.”

The precision he cuts back around to where their last conversation had left off is perhaps unsurprising, given the open-ended nature of her comment. Still, it makes Kara narrow her eyes, unwilling to admit he’s right. At least in so many words.

“There will always be someone stronger regardless,” she insists, quieter than before. “That’s the nature of war. There is no true victory in brute force. It is a moment in time, it is ephemeral at best. Adapting to the situation is what will grant you victory for any meaningful amount of time.”

Kara looks slightly off of Sharrow, eyes not quite on his as her jaw works. “And this situation,” she is forced to acknowledge. “Is different than any other I have had to face.”

Sharrow looks up to Kara, one brow raised. “I find that hard to believe,” he admits, hands folding together and a patient look in his eyes. “You’re a soldier, you survived this country’s civil war, surely you faced people with abilities. Perhaps not as… versatile as I’ve heard this one was. But,” Sharrow inclines his head to Kara, “you seemed quite confident, when last we spoke, that you were fit to face any challenge.” Overconfident is the subtext.

“How has that changed?” Sharrow wonders aloud, motioning to Kara. “You are still you, the world is still the world. What fulcrum shifted?”

The answer to that may be obvious. Maybe Sharrow asks what he does only as a polite yet cruel twist of her arm, to savor this moment as something of a victory for him. Or maybe it isn't, and he's genuinely curious, in his own way. In either case, the only reply that comes from Kara is a thick silence.

It lingers for some time while she contemplates her answer, or the honesty of it.

Unlike the last time they spoke, there are no totems for her to guide her thoughts by. No reminders for her to be diplomatic or wise, or to be anything in particular. All she's left with is herself, whoever that happens to be. Bereft of the anchor she'd grown accustomed to steadying herself by, she's found herself reaching for something she never envisioned she would, the weight of her being slipping in a direction uncommon to her: self-doubt.

She justifies it.

"The world is still the world, but where I stand in it has shifted. Where we are now, whatever fight this is now, it's not simply a tool. It's not an extra." Kara's voice remains quiet, even. "It edges closer to a necessity when those with them outnumber those without them. When the force you're fighting against wields multiple abilities and you wield none."

Her posture remains stiff as she lifts her head, eyes meeting his again. "When Praxis strikes back, we'll suffer casualties. They know where we live, they know where to strike, and they have every tool to do it as brutally as possible." One eyebrow shifts slightly higher than the other. "To lessen those casualties, I'd be a fool if I didn't dig for every possible tool I could get my hands on."

Some of the tension in Kara boils over as she leans closer to the table. "So do you actually have one to offer, or is this all a ruse on your part just to see who flinches?" she asks pointedly.

Sharrow’s expression shifts into the subtlest of smiles, bringing his tired old eyes up to Kara. “I don’t,” nearly hits her like a hammerblow to the chest, until he fills the gap of silence between his words with a clarification, “but I have come to know those who do. Business associates, ones who are capable of bestowing power to those without, for a price.

Folding his hands in front of himself, Sharrow leans forward across the table, his eye contact on Kara unflinching. “They are from a secret society, one run by people like Eileen, whose goals extend beyond mere political or social influences and seek to build a world for their kind with their own two hands. I first came to know of them when I was in Turkey while the war in the States was raging. They are inheritors of a great many pieces of scientific research pertaining to people with abilities… and they’ve made marvelous breakthroughs. That said,” Sharrow inclines his head to the side, “nothing comes free. Especially not from Shedda Dinu.”

Patience keeps Kara in place as she waits for the 'but', the explanation that follows. She patiently hears him out, keeping her own counsel, including whether she thinks he's a charlatan peddling fear and hope in either hand. A sigh comes from her involuntarily anyway when he shares there's a price to be paid, but she doesn't turn from the conversation.

For better or worse.

"Are these the sort that deal in money, or favors?" The tension in her shifts as she sits upright again, closed off without crossing her arms. "If they work in the shadows, how fast do they move at all?" She looks as though she expects anything, in terms of a response. "Because the threat to us is urgent." Kara redelivers that message without emphasis. "There's no point to initiating contact if it would be a lengthy engagement."

“I have a good contact,” is Sharrow’s immediate answer to address the most pressing concern, “but your fear was correct. While they do trade in hard finances, I’m afraid you don’t have the liquid cash to even get on their radar. However, they trade in favors even more readily.” Sweeping his hand across the wood block countertop, Sharrow brushes some stale crumbs of bread aside and onto the floor. His eyes wander the kitchen for a moment, then find their way back to Kara.

“I can’t make it happen overnight,” Sharrow admits, “but I can make it happen. The question is, are you someone who is willing to be beholden to another in the pursuit of power? Because, dismissing all airs here, that’s what this will mean. You’re asking to steal fire from the gods, you won’t pay that off with a single favor, or even a fistful. But, that isn’t to say you won’t have your freedom. But I’m familiar enough with these kinds of deals to know that freedom is never… limitless.”

A flippant response wouldn’t serve here, as easy as it might be to give.

But if Kara gave one, she wouldn’t have to quietly reflect on just what the hell she was doing here. What she was really trying to do by pursuing such a power. She had her spoken reasons, and then what grief and guilt were driving her to do. Between the two, breaking through the fog of shaken confidence was an impossibility.

It still doesn’t keep her from that reflection, though. And in the pause that brings on the conversation, her reply seems not flippant at all in its delivery. “It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve fought in a questionable war,” she admits readily. “So.” Kara exhales the word out with a long breath, trying to ignore the feeling she’s signing on a dotted line without properly reading the fine print. She didn’t— they all didn’t have time for that right now.

“If they do more than spin tall tales, I’ll owe them that favor. But not before what needs protected is properly defended.”

And with that, she leans on the leg not quite seated on her chair, returning to a stand while she judges Sharrow’s reaction. Both he and his contact would have to take it or leave it, much as she would face the same decision if this Shedda Dinu demanded proper fealty.

Curiosity catches on a strand of what he’d said as she collects her thoughts. Kara asides, “You’ve done this for others?”

Sharrow looks down at his hands, thoughtful after the question. But his quiet contemplation lingers only a moment before he upturns those tired old eyes to Kara. “No,” isn’t quite the answer she expected, “no I have not. I dedicated my life, once, to lessening those numbers in the world. Now, here I sit, proposing the inverse.”

“I suppose there’s a first time for everything.”

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