Critiques On The Art Of Negotiation


alexander_icon.gif brian_icon.gif conrad_icon.gif diego_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif elvis_icon.gif hana_icon.gif helena_icon.gif monica_icon.gif owen_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Critiques On The Art Of Negotiation
Synopsis Helena opens the floor regarding what to do about the hostage situation.
Date October 10, 2008

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

Helena makes the first call, and soon she's making more. She'd pinged Wireless during the first harrowing exchange that started all this; followed up with a request for the woman to make it to the library. Then came the waiting. There were some already gathered, but it still took time for everyone to eventually make their way, but once they did, everyone's directed to the main meeting area of the library itself.

Helena looks like she's been nauseous. It's not a good look for her. As she takes in the hubbub, looks at their faces, hears their voices, she raises her hands to get people's attention. She looks deadly serious. This can't be good.

She's been quiet all day, Elvis that is anyway. She'd only put in half a day before sending stuff out for powdercoat, and coming on back to the Library. Since then, theres been alot of rooftop smoking and thats pretty much it. Currently, she's not smoking but she sure does smell like it. An old hoody had soaked in the smoke all to well, which was fine with Elvis anyway and who the fuck cares who didnt like it?

Marching in like he's hurrying, but not willing to run to get here, Conrad comes through the library toward the conference room, kicking an errant chair out of his way because it's in the way. "Hey guys. I brought Liz." he announces, wondering briefly how many of them will care. Quite casually he throws up the common effect of the silence bubble, only room sized. It probably won't be apparent to most the people here.

Scraps of ruined pages flutter like windblown leaves along a traceable path that zigzags between those already present and ends at Owen, coming to a dead stop at what he anticipates will be the edge of the assembly once everyone else arrives. Apart from the slight clink and rustle as he slides his backpack off his shoulder and down to the floor, he makes no other sounds. His expression conveys a nearly deafening proliferation of unasked questions, but he can't pick which one to ask first and so he settles in to wait and listen, looking faintly miserable because neither is exactly his forte.

Alexander comes loping in, cigarette half-smoked and jammed behind his ear. He looks weary and very grim, lips thinned out. That sort of summons is never to announce Christmas bonuses, is it? He's in his army parka, which he's already shucking off, stuffing those half-fingered gloves into his pockets. He doesn't ask what the story is. Hel will tell them when all the troops are mustered.

Monica was used to it. Granted, her job wasn't used to it, but she was when the call came out. So muttered excuses and frantic gesturing later, she made her way back to the base, carefully watching her back before disappearing into the library and toward the appointed meeting area. She just gave up some tips for this, but she's sure it's important. "So. I'm guessing something just broke loose?" She looked around at the others gathered.

Elisabeth comes in directly behind Conrad, keeping up with his long strides as well as possible. She's carrying a large duffel bag with her that she sets on the outer edge of the room as she enters, not pausing there and merely joining the group silently.

Brian was here before, but only now does he make his way down to the assembly. The young man goes to stand at the back of those gathered. Wearing a hoody, with the hood up, he walks around looking quite pathetic and miserable. His elbow pops out, nudging Owen. He gives a tip of the chin to the other young man the international 'waddup' symbol. He then goes to sit on the ground next to Owen, watching Helena quietly.

Teo is sitting on the floor with his back to the wall and the clean black cotton of his sweater huddled up around his bruised throat, the anemic cast to his skin and dour expression giving him something of an aspect of a cranky Goth child or merely very sleepy. It changes when Helena moves in his peripheral. He raises his his rumpled head and his pupils constrict and dilate a few times before settling on some mid-focus, silent but attentive.

Hana arrives without fanfare, dressed in her standard leather jacket and black jeans. She steps into the room and takes up a position near one of the walls, arms folded across her chest and dark eyes hooded. That one set of fingers taps idly against the arm they rest upon is outward evidence of the ex-operative's internal tension. The kind of tension that makes most people stay well beyond arm's reach of Hana.

"Not long ago I recieved a phone call from Ethan." Phoenix members should be in the know about this name, the group has made an effort to keep all information current. "He's taken Cat and her girlfriend Dani hostage, and attempted to get me to work an exchange with him. He proved that he had Dani at least, by letting me listen while he cut off her fingers." Helena's face is pale as she speaks. "He believes I'm contacting my superiors to see if they'll deal. I do believe he has Cat as well, and now comes the hard part. What do we do about it? Wireless traced his cellphone, but he's smart, and he could switch the number to a new phone and lose the GPS on the old one. It would be a start." Swallowing, "The floor is open."

"We kill her, and then we find him and kill'em. We need to make it too expensive, for them to try this again."Brutally cold Elvis, is cold. Granted she'd never met Cat or her girlfriend, so its an easy decision. "I dont get why we just captured this chick, instead of killing her to begin with. Like did we not expect that they'd escalate the situation?"

"You wanna kill people, you're in the wrong group." Conrad says to Elvis briefly, then asks Helena, "Do we still have that girl?"

Alexander nods to Elvis, folding his arms over his chest, like he's trying out for a job as a cigar store Indian. No commentary from coppertop, however. Not yet.

Owen exchanges wordless salutations with Brian, giving the man a curious look for his evident misery until Helena speaks up. A look of dawning horror pales his features, his eyes growing wide as he learns of the plight of one of their own and then Elvis's proposed solution. It's safe to assume that he's missed the point on at least some of Phoenix's objectives. He relaxes a bit as Conrad speaks up, and is emboldened to ask, "Can't…can't we just do the exchange before anyone else gets cut up? If we get whats-her-name back soon enough maybe we can…um..well..her fingers…uh.." his voice trails off to silence.

Monica listens, but at the first suggestion, she doesn't seem at all happy. She's about to say something, but Conrad is already speaking up. Thank goodness. She wasn't at all interested in having to fight that battle. She wasn't a killer. And she wasn't about to endorse it. So…next.

The talk of hostages and trading them and killing them has Elisabeth shooting an alarmed glance toward Helena. That is *so* not what she signed up for, and NOT what she was given to understand was going on in this organization!! Conrad's words ease her tension very slightly, though she still volunteers nothing — she's the noob here. Watch and Listen.

Brian blanches at the suggestion, and stands up next to Owen. He gives a nod in agreement with the other young man. "What the fuck? We're the good guys." He insists. At least he thinks they are.. They have to be. "You gotta be fucking kidding me. We aren't them." Brian directs a glare at Elvis through the crowd.

Although this is the kind of talk that would generally prompt Teo to fidget fiercely where he is, it's as much as he can do to turn his head this way and that, tracking the conversation as one might a tennis match. "We're not killing her," he says, finally. "She's sympathetic to some of our interests. The 'not killing people who don't fucking ask for it' interests, which is our larger goal.

"Having a mole with Ethan, someone he gives enough of a fuck to do this exchange for, is more valuable than even Ethan's head on a stick. Volken and the end of the fucking world as we know it are the priorities. We needed to get her back to them somehow, anyway." The details of that, he doesn't have much of a handle on. Actually there are a lot of things he doesn't have a handle on, but his tone of voice leaves no question-marks tacked onto any of his words.

To those who know her best, the set of Hana's face makes clear she cares little for the idea of an exchange. (No surprise to Teo there, for certain.) But she doesn't offer any spoken opinion; this is Phoenix's show. However much Wireless would like to go Ethan-hunting right now. Teo's description of the girl as a mole does at least elicit a fleeting interest on Hana's part.

"Yes, we still have her, and no, we are not killing her." Helena nips that in the bud right now. "But we're on limited time, which means we need her to commit to being a mole as of yesterday. And even then, the question becomes how to do it so we don't get screwed. I didn't give Ethan a chance to give me any requirements on the nature of an exchange, and every minute between then and the time I finally call him back is a chance Cat or Dani can get killed. There are those of you here who have experience with this, and I'd like that advice brought to the table. I'd also like to arrange to call back Ethan with some of you listening in," she looks over at Hana, "If that's possible? Once we've hashed out as much as we can. For those of you spoiling for a fight, you may yet get it, especially if Ethan's people decide not to play by whatever rules are settled upon."

Hey its cool, she doesnt mind being hated. "Then if we cant kill her, what other option is there? We make an exchange, and if we get fucked then we're out two and they arent. I reckon we've made our decision."did she really ever want to kill the kid or just clear that option from the table?"we make them call us, from a public phone in a place we can watch. Once we see them free and safe, we give their girl a cellphone and set her someplace. Random."

Conrad crosses his arms and looks like he's rather bothered at this point. "That girl is no good as a mole. I wouldn't trust anything she says. Turn her over to Homeland Security. Give them the information we have. Let's see what these assholes can accomplish cutting off fingers for DHS and what that'll do to them. And we get Cat back ourselves."

Al is always spoiling for a fight. "Are any of that crew telepaths?" he asks,bluntly. "Sylar….do we know?" He makes a little gesture with his hands before him, as if miming peeling an onion. "Do we have any guarantee she'll keep her word? Why would she work for us? And even if she's sincere, what's to keep them from ripping it out of her little head? Me, I'm for finding and taking 'em. Fuck any agreements. All these guys have done is their best efforts towards starting open race war, and I don't trust 'em any further than I can throw 'em with my actual hands." Presumably he could punt them quite a distance with his stupid pet trick. "I agree with Conjob there. Might be better to bring the hammer of the actual law down on 'em."

Rolled eyes. Brian puts his hands out. "Listen. I fought some of these guys. They're good. If we fight them we're going to lose." Brian declares openly. "We have our abilities, but so do they. They're trained and planned, come on you guys have seen movies. These are the real bad guys. If we're going to beat them, we have to out think them, and we have to be careful." He argues, casting a pointed glance to Elvis and Alexander. "We should try not to make them angry, until we're ready to fight. If we fight now, we'll all die."

Monica folds her arms, she didn't trust it either. But what they were to do, she wasn't sure on that either. Really, she didn't have much input at this point, not on something like this. She knew what she would do and what she wouldn't do. But she'd leave strategy to those who knew a little better as she stood, leaning against a bookshelf.

Elisabeth speaks up finally, her voice a bit husky from bruising at her throat but carrying quite well over the rumbling of discontent in the crowd. May as well use her expertise (and her ability to enhance her voice's range so she doesn't have to even shout to be heard) for something here. "If I understand what's gone on correctly, you …. WE… took someone of theirs first and she's being held and…. converted?" We'll leave out the whole 'WTF are we holding someone hostage for anyway?' question for now. "I can tell you now that unless this person you're holding already had a strong leaning toward your philosophy anyway, anything that's been done to her to MAKE her convert is likely going to blow up in your face no matter what." Her tone is calm. "In addition to that…. is keeping her, or converting her forcibly via telepath or torture, something you're actually willing to do when it means giving up two of your own? At this point, negotiation is your only option for retrieving your own people — If they are asking for their person back in return for two of ours, why the hell would you NOT negotiate?" Helena's question of the group appears, to her, to be a given and not something that should really be up for a vote (which is kind of what this looks like, though thankfully MOST of the people in the crowd seem to be on the same page). "If we are, in fact, the 'good guys' …. well, the 'good guys' tend to be bound by certain rules — like not killing the hostages — by which the 'bad guys' don't feel the need to play." For example, as was suggested, you should make sure your people are free before you think about turning your own hostage loose. She watches Helena calmly as she speaks.

Grimace. Teo raises a hand to the top of his head fuzzily, grating his thumb against his scalp. "The hammer of the actual law has been requested. From what I can tell, it's currently busy beating its own head in to a fine gray paste, sniffing after the phone numbers of fucking PARIAH operatives and donuts or whatever the fuck." That's a lot of 'fuck's. Means Teo's either feeling normal or below the weather. "I'm well aware this isn't our job, but no one else is fucking doing theirs right now.

"She's a telepath. Doesn't talk to humans, but you know enough about abilities to know she'd be harder to crack than 'most anybody in this room based on that qualification alone." Given he has zero on proper handling of hostage exchanges and is fairly sure he would lose a wrestling match with a particularly large cheesecloth right now, he surrenders to silence for a moment. Fails, also, to qualify his belief in Eileen's sincerity with more words because he isn't sure how to weave 'fuck' into that.

Catching Helena's glance her way, Hana listens impassively to the girl's request, then inclines her head. She can do whatever Phoenix would find useful with phonecalls. Whenever they're ready to do something.

Negotiate, don't negotiate. Call in HomeSec. Attack. Too many options. "I'm willing to negotiate. A lot will depend on the call. My concern is that Eileen knows an awful lot about some of us, and if she isn't convinced to work for us, then we need to address that. I want a confirmation of what if anything she's willing to do for us, and I want to know what we can do if she isn't willing to do anything at all. I want people on standby listening in to my call to Ethan, to help me keep control as best I can to how things go down, and adapt a plan for in case what's worked out goes South. I do not want HomeSec involved; in case you've all forgotten they're the ones caging up our fellow Evolved like animals. I will consider SCOUT," she looks briefly to Elisabeth, "Depending on how the call goes. Teo, handle Eileen. Take whoever you think will be helpful, but resolve the issue. Wireless, are there any Ferrymen who can alter memories or whatnot if she doesn't decide to play ball? And I'd like you, Alex, Conrad, Elisabeth, and - shit, I wish Diego was here - to listen in on the conversation on relay by way of Wireless. The rest of you should probably get yourselves ready for fieldwork, because if this goes down, I want people placed."

"It doesnt matter who the fuck they are, we shouldnt help no god damned feds out for no fucking reason. Every arrest makes them look better."she wont dwell on that one, instead she rises. "Just tell me where to go darlin, you know I'm good for it. "and just like that, she starts on her way out. Stuffing hands into her sweater's pockets as she makes a b-line for her bikes, she'd need to get the Triumph ready.

Wow. Its like Helena can just wish things into being because shortly after she voices her preference for Diego's presence there's the playful bark of a dog responding to someone it knows. In this case, from Brian's front door posting. Shortly thereafter D himself makes his entrance, making his way toward the gathering but not intruding on the established populace.
Phoenix> By Popular Demand, Diego says, "I need to get me one of them."

"Hel…" begins Conrad, hesitating. He balls a fist, and clears his throat. What he says next he says with exaggerated patience. "I don't know whose fucked up idea it was to kidnap somebody, regardless. I don't know what's even been done to her. But kidnapping anybody was a mistake. Okay? We had some discussions about Cat before, about how she's been relied upon too much for all the information we have. I imagine that now you're glad I talked you into disseminating that information, but now the bad guys have Cat and look where we're at, so having her consolidate all that information for us was a mistake. Now listen to me carefully here," At this point Con's voice echoes a little from the walls, as if for emphasis. It's not louder or anything, there's just a little verbal underscore. "These people that this Eileen girl is from? They are the real terrorists, killing people on the streets and pinning it on PARIAH. I don't care what anybody thinks of the Feds, but these assholes are the ones they need to be going for. Not us. If we don't do something to get them on the right track we're gonna lose this. That's all I got for you."

It doesn't matter if they look good or not. "It'll be a trap," Al says, in the lugubrious tones of a certain Mon Calamari Admiral. "I mean, if we try and set up an exchange. Kinda…'ll end up being like the end of The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly," Al notes.Again, he nods at Conrad. "He's got a point. We need to sic the law dogs on these fuckers. Enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Owen has been sitting still for too long and it shows. He's been quietly fidgeting, weathering discomfort, getting over that, and fidgeting some more. He unwraps a Snickers bar, and then seems, as if some footage had been edited out, to be chewing the remnants of it to a pulp that distends his cheek as he pockets the wrapper. "So call," he interjects. His mouth isn't full when he slows down a twitch later next to Helena, offering over his phone as the motion blur and air displaced by his passage subside. "Use mine. Or," and then it's gone, and both hands are in his pockets, "if we know where they are, just tell me and I'll go tack a note on the door and run away. I'm ready," he affirms, jerking a thumb toward…thataway. "We don't know," he queries, looking around, trying to orient his thumb, "do we?"

The Brian at the door falls to his knees as the dog comes bounding up to him. "Hey Capone." He says with a smile, petting the animal. He gives a nod to Diego, directing him with a head jerk to the big group. "Big fuckin meeting dude. Talking about hostage exchange. Better hurry on in. I'll let them know you're here." With that he goes back to playing with Capone.

The Brian in the group speaks up quickly. "Diego's here." He jerks his thumb over his shoulder to the newly entered man. Then it's back to the discussion, glancing over to Owen. "Listen, what is the law going to do? Wouldn't they have done something already? We don't have any information that can help the law find these people. If we fuck them over and bring in the law that'll make them angry. I really don't think we want them angry at us." Brian insists.

Elisabeth merely nods to Helena's request for her to be on the phone call. She'd cross her arms, but the left one is still in a sling. She settles for shoving her right hand in her pocket and listening, nodding slightly when Con speaks up again. "Con's right…. assuming it's handled right, siccing HomeSec *and* SCOUT on these people is what should be happening. Hell, if only because if they're busy with real terrorists, they're off our asses. But we'll see where we stand after the phone call, see what it is they're asking for and where they want to do it. It'll be a trap, for certain… but we may be able to make it work for us." She looks at Helena steadily. "I'll help you set it up as well as it can be set up," she tells the leader calmly. And then she moves toward the edge of the crowd to stand near the duffel bag she brought with her and listen quietly to the rest of the meeting.

A slight furrow takes Teo's brow as he glances between Helena and Conrad, wondering to whom this other information had been disseminated to — and what that other information was. He hadn't been aware there was more. Well, fuck, he is actually suffering from a migraine-inducing awareness that there is more, but nothing he'd like anybody outside Phoenix to know about besides Volken's little thing.

Something to ask later. "I'll keep hassling the Feds we've told." There's the subtlest eye-shift toward Elisabeth, wondering about SCOUT even as she mentions it. "And talk to Eileen," he nods at Helena. "She hasn't met anyone they didn't already know about besides maybe you." 'Maybe' hinges on her reputation hanging over Chinatown like a fifty-foot banner, and carries limited comfort. He's well-aware Eileen was exposed to more than faces and names.

"Let's see where the phone call takes us." says Helena. "Teo, let me know as soon as you can what the situation is with Eileen. Everybody else, let's go prep for the call." That seems to be it, then. Helena isn't partial to violence, but she's not going to play any of them further into Vanguard hands then she has to.

Takes place late at night on the 9th/early in the morning on the 10th .

December 10th: Seek Higher Ground

Previously in this storyline…
In For A Pound

Next in this storyline…
Thirty Minutes or Less

December 10th: Ongoing Negotiations
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