Darker Than Black


elisabeth2_icon.gif sarisa_icon.gif

Scene Title Darker Than Black
Synopsis Elisabeth Harrison and Sarisa Kershner are on the same page regarding a prospective operation…
Date August 9, 2010

The Esplanade

The city is suffering from the heat, with temperatures scraping towards 100 and reaching it in the heart of Manhattan where concrete absorbs and radiates additional warmth, places like Manhattan's breezy coastline are popular and crowded places to be. The Esplande boardwalk cutting down Manhattan's west coast through Battery Park City is one of these hot spots to beat the heat.

Spanning further than the eye can see clearly with the heat haze in the air and the crowds of tourists and residents all doing their best to avoid the summer sun, this place is fit for the ideal of hiding in plain sight. Situated against one of the black-painted iron railings dividing boardwalk from beach, a lone blonde woman dressed in a breezy white sleeveless blouse and camel colored slacks seems right in place. The gauzy canary yellow kerchief worn around her neck billows in the cool breeze coming in off of the river and plays with the untamed length of her hair, blue eyes shielded behind the dark lenses of large sunglasses.

With her elbows propped up on the railing and back to the water, Sarisa Kershner watches a pair of children playing in one of the enormous fountains set in the shadows of trees and surrounded by benches, splashing thorugh cool waters while parents watch on from the shade. Further back, this happy family moment is juxtaposed with the dark silhouettes of some of New York City's vagrant population sleeping in the shadow of those trees on cool grass.

The only thing about this picture and the blonde woman taking it in, is that tiny earbud plugged into her right ear, and the thin pair of white wrist-length silk gloves that seem out of place on her hands in this weather. For Sarisa, though, gloves are as important an intermediary as any.

It's roasting out there, even with the breeze. Elisabeth's been in and out of New York more in this two-week hiatus with Felix Ivanov than she was during her initial training, too. And that's saying something. She knows her movements back and forth have to be crossing Kershner's desk, and she doesn't honestly care — she already had permission, after all. After coming back in mid-afternoon, Elisabeth didn't show up at the base. Instead, she texted her boss with a message that said simply, I need a private word. Pick a convenient spot for you. The Esplanade it is.

Now as it nears the supper hour, commuters are beginning to flock to the waterfront to catch the ferries and traffic out on the water is high. But sometimes hiding in a crowd works the best. Wearing a sky-blue spaghetti-strapped tank and a pair of denim cut-off over her sneakers and socks, Elisabeth has her hair caught up in a ponytail and a pair of dark sunglasses on as well against the bright sun. She walks along the railing, her gait casual, and joins the more formally dressed blonde. "Afternoon, ma'am," Liz says politely.

"You know something was brought to my atention," Sarisa quietly offers as she pulls down her sunglasses along the bridge of her nose with two silk-wrapped fingers, so that she can make direct eye contact to Elisabeth, "when I went in to put in the request for that customized piece of head-gear you requested." There's a furrow of Sarisa's brows as she notes that, then uses two fingers to push her large sunglasses up the bridge of her nose again.

"There was a factory error in a manufacturing plant in California that produces the customized and tailored Horizon suits. They were putting together a shipment and no one noticed until it was too late, but one of the suits being designed was re-routed on its delivery and its specifications were redesigned to suit another man's height and build." Pressing her tongue to the inside of her cheek, Sarisa narrows her eyes behind those lenses. "You wouldn't happen to know if Richard has had any new clothes delivered lately, would you?"

And yet she did nothing to stop this from happening, is implied.

There's a blink. A moment's shock crossing her features. "No," Elisabeth says. "He hasn't." And then she pauses. "Not that he knows, anyway." For a long moment, she looks out over the water and then tilts her head to look at her boss. "But I don't know that I'd put anything past the man pulling the strings." And she's not referring to Richard either. "If it doesn't turn up shortly, I'll be sure to let you know," she adds with a faint smile. Because if it does show, she's not sure she'll tell Kershner.

"Your helmet's going to take a few months to go from design to production and there won't be any room for testing it out, given that we don't have any other audiokinetics, let alone ones with your level of fine control, available. So, you're going to be testing the piece of hardware on your own in the field, it should be finished and on your head by late September." Lifting up a gloved hand to wipe down the front of her throat, Sarisa squints up in the direction of the sun behind those shades, then turns her head to slowly look over at Elisabeth. "It has some more moving parts on it, which means it won't be as sturdy as the other helmets, but I think it will suffice for your needs while offering you more protection than having an exposed head would."

That much comes with a sigh, admittedly half-hearted, and Sarisa's attention shifts back out to the fountain and the children playing in it. "I know you didn't come all the way out here to meet in private about your new equipment requisition, however. So I'd like to know what it is you have on your mind, and then if I'm not in a blind rage by the end, I have some information to share with you that I hope you have find its way to the right people."

"Mmmmm," Elisabeth replies to the helmet. "Hell, Ivanov suggested a more simple solution — make the helmet something more like one of the half-shells you'd seen in motorcycle helmets with the HUD set up as a half-face shield like the SWAT helmets," she says quietly. "It might be a thought worth passing on. The exposed head problem is apparently worrying a number of people." She shrugs.

"And no," Elisabeth finally says, her sunglass-covered eyes skimming out over the harbor. "I didn't." She smiles faintly. "I do seem to bring out the blind rage in you, though. Hence why I'm actually coming to you ahead of time." She pauses, considering the matter, and then looks at her boss. "We need to …. delay the squad on any call that comes in Thursday evening. Perhaps we can schedule them for a training mission a little ways outside the city limits. Conveniently enough, Ivanov and I are both requesting the night off for … personal reasons."

Dark brows twitch and Sarisa's tongue sweeps across the front of her teeth, a tell that Liz has come to recognize as a sign of building stress. "Why?" is asked succinctly and with the mild exasperation that a parent might give when expecting nothing but a bad answer from a particularly capricious child. Even as the single syllable spills from Sarisa's lips, she's lifting up a hand to push her sunglasses off of her nose and rub her fingers at the spots the frame had been resting.

"You're lucky that we have Mills in California assisting the Squad out there while their weapons tech is in the hospital," Sarisa notes with teeth drawing across her bottom lip, "because any delay of distance would seem highly suspect at that point. I won't agree to anything, though, without knowing what it is I'm allowing to happen— or prevent from happening."

"Well, see, you told me you wanted plausible deniability. So you can't have it both ways, ma'am," Elisabeth retorts good-naturedly. It amuses the hell out of her when Kershner gets that tone — cuz generally it heralds a 'yes' answer if she can explain it well enough. It's sorta like dealing with getting the keys to the car from your Mom! "Hypothetically speaking, though, I'd say the Institute's about to take a major hit. And you know, if that were to happen and I were somewhere in the vicinity, I'd really hate to see our squads out there assisting the … wrong side. That'd just look bad, right?"

Huffing breathily, Sarisa closes her eyes entirely and lifts her hand up to rub fingers across her forehead. "Plausible deniability goes out the window when you make a request like this of me. I can look the other way more than enough, but the moment you start asking me to make the squad look the other way, I need to know what elephant I'm hiding in the crowd."

Lowering her hand, Sarisa reveals that she is not in fact frowning, but smiling. "But I think you and I might actually be on the same page for once." Which, in and of itself, is a terrifying prospect. "I have on good word that the Institute is in a bit of a panic, because as of today they've lost all internal communications with their facility on Staten Island. According to my sources they sent in a security team to investigate the radio silence and nothing has come back yet. I'm not sure what they're planning to do about it, but they're aware that something is terribly wrong inside of the facility. The only reason FRONTLINE hasn't been called in, is because they probably don't want anyone knowing what's happening in there before they know."

Turning to lean her side and one arm against the railing, Sarisa more fully faces Elisabeth. "I have a team inside the Institute's peripheral employment, off the record types. Richard knows one of them personally but I won't risk naming names just yet. They won't be any help if you're going to Moab this place, but they might be able to deliver you a heads-up if the Institute tries to infiltrate the building themselves."

Well, now…. being on the same side as Kershner for a change does scare the hell out of Elisabeth. But she can't help a faint grin. "Nice to hear they've lost their comms," she comments mildly. She doesn't slide her glasses off her face, but the tone of her voice goes carefully neutral. "We're definitely going to Moab the place," she says calmly. There will be nothing left standing. "They've taken too many of ours into that hellhole. Sorry, ma'am. I'd recommend telling your internal team to lay low. If they want out before the place crashes around their goddamn ears, you'll need to put it in motion in such a way as to not warn them we're coming."

As she turns to look back at Sarisa, Elisabeth says coldly, "Even if I wanted to keep the place intact, there's no way in hell I could get anyone else to back that play."

"I'm not concerned," is a blanket statement that covers much of what Sarisa's feeling at the moment. "My team isn't in any danger, they're professionals. I'd be more worried about your team, personally. While you might find some smug satisfaction in the Institute having lost control over one of their pet projects, I don't think you understand what that could mean for the rest of us and our life expectancy."

Looking from the fountain to Elisabeth, Sarisa's eyes narrow behind the lenses of her sunglasses. "That hospital was the site of viral weapons development and God knows what else, things so darker than black that they're intelligence singularities. If the facility has gone dark that could mean anything. It could mean one of their experiments got out of control, it could mean that a virus capable of ending life on earth is brewing around inside of the walls. It could mean that none of us will be alive to care come Thursday."

After that grim assessment, Sarisa exhales a sigh and rests her back against the railing again, though her arms fold to cross over her chest, head dipping down and sunglasses sliding down the bridge of her nose. "This just means that no one is in control of the situation, and I don't think i need to outline what kind of worst-case scenarios are possible when you consider the Institute's research being without chaperone."

In spite of knowing who was in there, Kershner's assessment does shed new light on the problem. Elisabeth is quiet as she thinks through it. "I don't suppose you've got a fuckin' tac nuke in your pocket this time?" she asks drily. Her free hand comes up to rub across her forehead. "I'll pass it on." Though what in the bloody hell we're going to do about it is …. entirely up in the air. Mentally cataloging the abilities in the arsenal we currently have, Elisabeth is honestly unsure that the groups as a whole have the firepower to manage this. "Christ," she sighs quietly. Two weeks in DC has done wonders for her demeanor and even her looks — the lines of stress are not nearly so deep in her face anymore.

"You know," Elisabeth observes heavily, "One of these days, I'd really like to punch the person or persons behind all this right in the fuckin' mouth. I swear to God, the last year has been literally nothing but one crisis to the next. I need a month in Tahiti."

Sarisa says nothing to Elisabeth's own personal venting, leaning off of the railing and lifting a hand to rake through her long hair as her arms unfold. Taking a few steps away from the other blonde, Sarisa slowly twists to regard her with one brow raised. "You'll have your delay," she explains in a quiet tone of voice, chin tilting down into a slow nod. "I won't be able to hold off the hounds for long though, so I would let your team know that they're operating on a time limit before things become increasingly complicated."

Then, with her expression turning dour, Sarisa moves back to an earlier conversational point. "And no, I don't have a tactical nuke in my back pocket…" but as she pushes up her sunglasses along the bridge of her nose, Sarisa leaves Elisabeth with a worrisome supposition. "The Institute might, though."

Her lips faintly creep up into a smile, and Sarisa slowly turns to start her departure down the boardwalk, "Be careful."

Dark humor abounds when you're facing death yet again. It's hitting the point that Elisabeth isn't even afraid of it anymore. Which can be good or bad. "Yes, ma'am," she says quietly to her boss's back. And then she leans on the railing to just watch the boats on the water for a while before she has to go tell a bunch of people about the newest wrinkle.

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