Dangling High


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Scene Title Dangling High
Synopsis The Department of Evolved Affairs comes knocking on FRONTLINE's door and invites itself to stay.
Date December 29, 2010

Textile Factory 17: Conference Room

The highest floor of the Tower, this spacious room is dominated at its center by a circular black-topped table surrounded by thirteen chairs. Curving bookshelves help conceal portions of the old brick walls, while larger windows than on the lower floor let in more light from outside and give a stunning view of Brooklyn and Queens. Opposite of the wall lined with shelves, an arrangement of a large central LCD screen flanked by two smaller displays on either side is directly networked to the operations center below, for purposes of video conferencing or mission briefings.

It's still daylight by the time the woman who looks predictably government is standing in Textile Factory 17. Corn blonde hair is straightened to near death and falling in silk fine lines past her shoulders, which are in turn clad in professional angles of a feminine suit, all jacket, slacks, blouse and sensible shoes that had been heard echoing to the entrance of the HQ not so long ago. A brown leather messenger-style bag rests against her hip, as functional and broad as a briefcase, and she keeps a protective hand resting on it until it's set down on the conference room's table. If there's any relevant inside it, it's not immediately whipped out.

Agent Katie Sebastian is not the most intimidating figure that the DoEA might have chosen to loose on Elisabeth, or to replace Vincent Lazzaro, but appearances can be deceiving and even then, she doesn't have the bearing of a delicate flower. "Thank you for meeting with me," she's saying, opting to place a hand on the back of a chair rather than take a seat. Her smile is professional and about as sincere as anyone might expect.

She is aware she might not be welcome. People in her line of work rarely are.

Elisabeth Harrison isn't necessarily showing intimidation, but nor is she showing any overt bravado. Instead, she's simply dressed for her daily business. Her black-on-black cargo pants, combat boots, and long-sleeved V-necked blouse are the norm for "everyday uniform" wear around here, and her blonde hair is held in a loose French braid away from her face. She offers a neutral half-smile as she stands behind the table that serves as her desk, motioning for the agent to take a seat. "Well, I'm afraid when you screw up as badly as I just did, a visit from the home office is to be expected," she replies calmly. "Please, take a seat, Agent Sebastian. I understand that you've got a number of questions that I need to answer for our bosses upstairs." She doesn't wait for the agent to sit, instead settling into her own chair readily. "Can I have a cup of coffee brought for you? Or a bottle of water?" She's nothing if not unfailingly polite.

"No thank you, I don't want to take up too much of our time," might be a lie, but it's a politely delivered one all the same as Katie goes to tug out a chair for herself and sit down, straightening her jacket in the process. What she extracts from the confines of her brown leather briefcase is a simple pen and paper, a little old school but at least not as invasive in implication as a tape recorder, throwing one leg over the other and coming to a relaxed sit. Her movements are economical, business like.

Pale eyebrows raise as she flicks a hazel glance upwards. "I'm guessing that Kershner's already got a few words out of her system over recent events. How do you feel you screwed up?"

"I'm informed that if I had concerns about the programming in my drone and wasn't happy that they had been addressed by the last check-up, there's a proper chain of command for reporting such things," Elisabeth replies. "Major Kershner gave me the most thorough explanation of how I violated the rules I think I've ever had," she admits with a faint grimace. Clearing her throat, she says, "I had not realized that seeking out a programmer through a company that already has secure government contractors was outside my purview. I do now."

A twitched tilt of Katie's head communications some sort of unspoken disagreement, but it doesn't get vocalised, nor does she really allow time to consider whether she might want to. Her voice warms with some wry amusement, twitching a half-smile across at Elisabeth. "Well, Alia Chavez's current predicament throws that particular situation in a new light. Can you describe to me the nature of her employment with Redbird Security?"

Elisabeth reaches for the file to her right, sliding it across the desk. "This is the consulting contract that I signed when I requested her presence," she says. "As you can see, there is no mention of Evolved status anywhere on it, and I merely requested a programmer to assess the behavior of a computerized drone. My instructions on her arrival were to observe it, and if she saw behaviors that were inconsistent to check the program itself. She was not to alter the program in any fashion, and if she ran into security that would require hacking the machine to get into it, I would have simply asked her to stop there because her clearance was obviously not high enough." The blonde head of FRONTLINE Manhattan meets the agent's eyes steadily.

The file is taken and flipped open accordingly, for all that Katie is expecting to see nothing that doesn't line up with what Elisabeth is telling her. The item winds up held loose in her hands as she listens, and there isn't any particular cynicism or doubt in her expression, or challenge in squared gaze. Neutral assessment, but one that seems like it'd be difficult to break through. "Like you said," she says, once Elisabeth is done, "Kershner already went over with you what not to do.

"I'd like to reiterate that the programming Chavez was observing belongs to one of the Department of Evolved Affair's brightest, and the next time you want to double-check our work, make sure you go through the right channels next time. Redbird might have government contracts, but they've never liaised with us, and as far as I know, Chavez doesn't have the credentials, and now she's broken the law."

She sets the file down, and laces her hands together. "Tell me about Christopher Nash. You two used to be colleagues."

There's another aggrieved grimace as Elisabeth nods slightly. "Yes, ma'am — I'm quite aware of the protocols now." She leans back in the chair and says, "For a brief time, Chris Nash was my partner, yes. Perhaps…. several months? Right before I was shipped out." For the oh-so-classified Apollo mission, which she doesn't mention by name. "We didn't have a lot of time to really get to know one another. To put it quite bluntly, I was a little bit stuck in my own headspace at the time, and he struck me as a playboy type."

"Actually, he's an incredibly charitable man," Katie says, chin lifting. "Or that's what we've been led to believe, but I'm not so sure he had that in him. You might be aware that he's facing charges for Registration subversion on three counts, now. Abigail Caliban, Monica Dawson and now Alia Chavez." She gives Elisabeth a wider smile, hands splaying apart. "Maybe this was his way of hitting on girls, but I'm figuring that it might run a little deeper than that." A question should go here, but instead, Katie simply looks across at Elisabeth expectantly.

Elisabeth purses her lips and murmurs easily, "Perhaps there's more to the man than I ever knew. I had heard about Abigail, of course. Hers is apparently quite a complicated situation that I only know through hearsay at the moment." Was there a question in there? She didn't hear one.

Small head toss that is meant to be something of a nod of agreement. Complicated is one way to put it. "If there's anything you can offer about that particular situation and go on record for saying, then I know I'd appreciate it," Katie states, her voice smooth and almost dull of implication, if mildly insistent. "It's a hell of an investigation and you might find that the Department of Evolved Affairs value people who talk more than do kicking people who don't in the balls."

She taps a finger against Alia's contract. "I'd like this faxed to my office, attention'd to Agent Jane Pak. She's an interdepartmental liaison that will be, for now, supervising your work here, and will also be investigating your business ties with Redbird Security which, frankly, we're not sure is appropriate anymore in light of recent events. The more you co-operate, the faster we'll be out of your hair so you can go back to protecting our city. Maybe by the end of this, Redbird Security will get to do the same."

Picking up her briefcase, Katie places her business card down on the desk, getting to her feet. "If you think of anything you forgot to mention, feel free to give me a call."

Elisabeth moves to stand and considers. "There is something I can say about Abigail's situation that may or may not be of help." She tilts her head. "I know for certain that she Registered as a healer and then something happened. Her abilities were gone — and Lord alone knows we could have used them on the classified run. I know that she went back through formal channels to have them check her again — to determine what happened. She was as shocked as anyone when she came up non-Evolved as opposed to, as an example, showing up Evolved still though her power was blown out or whatever it was. I do remember that even the DoEA was somewhat flabbergasted. So that she'd spontaneously re-emerge as an Evo?" She shrugs a little. "It's not entirely unheard of in her case, I guess. As crazy as that all sounds. I'd have been terrified in her shoes," she admits quietly.

Holding up the card, Liz says, "I'll make sure the contract gets to Agent Pak. My business ties to date have been limited to hiring Ms. Chavez for the misguided attempt to make sure my team was safe. As a friend, I did help them set up their building and office space. But you can be assured that my business dealings are severed, Agent Sebastian."

"That's good to hear," Katie says with a tilted nod, replacing the strap of her messenger bag over a shoulder, hand coming to rest upon it. "And you're right, Mrs. Caliban's Registration history is convoluted but more or less above board. Her confession was distinctly selfless, and in the event of these emerging cases digging Nash's grave a little deeper, she loses some credibility for being his exception. But I believe that she was scared, and I don't like seeing scared people nailed to the wall for their actions." There are a few too many past tenses in those words for that to be particularly reassuring, but it's what Katie has to offer.

Things change. And there are better people to nail to the wall. "I guess it's a question of… what are they all so afraid of?" She deals Elisabeth an affable smile, and gives her a nod. "We'll be in contact. As soon as Agent Pak's done her homework, you'll be hearing from her too. If there's any way you can assist in her dealings with Redbird Security, due to your— personal ties, you're welcome to assist. Otherwise— "

She glances a vague look around the office, and nods once more. "I'll let you get back to your work. Have a good New Year, Director."

"I'm sure if she has any questions for me, she knows how to get hold of me. I'll cooperate in any way I can," Elisabeth replies, choosing not to elaborate on what someone might be freakin' scared of. "Happy New Year to you as well, Agent Sebastian." Cool blue eyes watch the other woman leave, and Elisabeth sinks slowly down into her seat again, her fingertips propping her cheek up as she leans on the arm of her chair.

The other shoe is still dangling high.

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