Ground Rules


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Scene Title Ground Rules
Synopsis The members of Wolfhound are warned about what's coming, and given clear expectations.
Date January 16, 2018

The Bunker

The meeting room presents a stark backdrop as Wolfhound's team members file in: the projectors dark, no folders set out on glass-topped tables. For all that Hana's summoned everyone in — everyone save Colette, conspicuous in her absence — it's immediately clear this is not an ordinary briefing. Not a mission in the works.

Hana herself stands to one side between the two tables, leaning on the wolf-headed cane. There's something to be read into that, also; in recent months she's taken to sitting for meetings, making deliberate choices of when and how to risk stressing her recently-healed ankle. Apparently for this occasion, presence and authority hold more value than any personal cost she might pay.

Her expression is a mask as the team members file in, shuttered gaze acknowledging each with a glance but offering no hints, no opinions. She gives no verbal greetings; only when everyone is settled does Hana speak. "You're all familiar with Demsky's actions in November," she begins, straightening up from her lean, glancing across the entirety of her audience. "I've received official confirmation that charges will not be pressed, not against her, Epstein, or the unit. For now."

"Instead," she continues, "we will be hosting a watchdog. A SESA agent who will observe everything we do and report those observations back to the agency."

The younger Gitelman slides into one of the seats. Without a folder to thumb through or a screen to look at, she folds her hands in front of herself until Hana speaks. The first bit of news is actually good. Noa allows herself to look pleased at that — there's no heaving sigh of relief or any cheer thrown up; she's either far too much like Hana to do so these days, or simply knows better — either because she knows Hana wouldn't approve or because there's a 'but' coming.

Well, an 'instead.' Close enough.

Her expression turns a little grimmer at that, her head tipping in that 'you're kidding, right' sort of cant. Obviously Hana's not kidding.

Upon entering the conference room, there's a definite upbeat energy to Devon. It's not uncommon, not these days. But the lack of folders, no projections, and Hana standing deflates him just a teeny fraction. Curiosity tinges his brow as he finds his chair and scoots into the table. And when Hana speaks, one eye narrows just a little.

"Sounds ominous," he asides in a murmer. A glance is given over to his teammates, to judge their reactions. Devon leans back in his chair and folds his arms across his chest, his full attention returns to Hana. There's a bit of expectancy in that look, waiting for further explanation, or whatever else may be offered.

From the seat that she dropped into with a smile, Adel frowns at the mention of what Demsky did. Of course she knew, but the consequences of what happened certain are frown-worthy. With a glance to Noa, she decides that the best idea is to stay quiet and listen to the words of their brave leader. A lock of shoulder length is pushed behind her ear and she leans back in her chair, likewise waiting for the full explanation of events.

It might not be that bad… At least SESA seems better than what could have been. As long as they still let her jump out of planes when necessary.

Berlin slips in quietly, taking a seat before she pauses to look Hana over. Her gaze flicks from her face to her cane, then back again before she tilts her head questioningly. As the reason for the meeting is explained, Berlin sits back in her chair to fold her arms. The news is too good to come without strings.

But then, the strings aren't as bad as the young woman was bracing for, so her posture eases a moment later. "Who's it gonna be?"

That's the pinpoint it rests on, after all, the scales of how bad it'll be.

Curtis finds his seat quietly after entering the conference room, meeting Hana's gaze for a moment as he enters before he takes his own seat. His fingers lace together, his hands coming to rest on the conference table in front of him, and as the news about the lack of charges comes through there's a small nod of his head, but no surprise at the mention of a watchdog SESA agent being assigned to watch over them.

He leans back in his seat a little bit, thinking before he speaks. "It makes sense. None of us could expect that they'd let us operate indefinitely without direct observation." Curtis shrugs one shoulder in a half hearted gesture before nodding to Berlin's question. Who it is will determine a lot. He goes quiet then, sitting and listening, watching the other members of Wolfhound.

The Major is standing, which means somebody is in trouble. With one of their rank not in the room, it doesn't take an intelligence operative to figure out who that somebody might be. Seated next to Noa, Rue takes in the reactions of the others at the news that nobody's having charges pressed against them. So far. The tension in her shoulders refuses to unwind, because she too is aware it's not that simple.

When the others have said - or not said - what they want to, Rumor finally speaks up. "Well, fuck." Eloquence may be one of her strong suits, but sometimes a thought can be summed up very succinctly with a versatile expletive. A exhaled sigh carries an epithet like further profanity: Demsky. That she seems to assign little to no blame in the matter to Epstein should come as no surprise to anyone who pays attention.

Hana glances to Berlin as she speaks up, the kind of glance that acknowledges a question eminently valid — which it is — but one she's not ready to answer quite yet. Her attention moves to Curtis next. "Actually," she counters, "it's not a normal 'expectation' at all. We are only private military company to be so treated." There are a lot of other things Hana could say on that front; she doesn't. Instead, she returns to the subject of their observer.

"Furthermore," Hana continues, shifting her weight to lean a bit more on the cane, "either someone at SESA is ridiculously incompetent… or they're playing games, because the agent assigned is former Ferry." She looks across the room, gaze pausing briefly on Rue, who's oh-so-eloquently summed up the only proper response to that information, too.

"You can imagine what anyone will think of her impartiality, given that."

Noa glances at Rue at the sigh, then returns her dark eyes to Hana at the front of the conference room. The news that the new oversight agent is Ferry is a hell of a 'but' on top of the 'instead,' and the younger Gitelman's brows lift in surprise.

"Former Ferry — and known Ferry?" Because they did have operatives who have been able to keep the blessing of anonymity, unlike so many. "New York Ferry?" she adds — a Ferryman from somewhere else in the country might be able to argue impartiality, but one of their own — it's less likely. "Someone's either a grade-A moron or got a fucking weird sense of humor," she adds, echoing her mother's statements in less professional terms.

"Or a combination of both," Devon suggests as he looks over to Noa. "So Ferry." As he continues he turns to Hana, though his voice is pitched conversationally, including the rest of the room as he airs his thoughts. "Could be a trap, even with the potentially questionable impartiality. Could be a trap several levels deep. Could also be pretty innocuous, just SESA wanting to make sure we play by their rules as asinine as that is."

Noting Hana's look with a nod, Berlin doesn't push her question forward again, she just sits forward to put an arm on the table. Her eyebrows lift when the Ferry is mentioned and her gaze moves to Noa. Because she's putting up some good questions, too. "Feels like a trap to me," she says, unsurprisingly. Everything feels like a trap to her.

Her eyebrow raises at Devon, finding something in there terribly optimistic, but then she looks over to Hana. "How much are we gonna let them see?" Because obviously they're going to have to let something slip, if only to keep the vultures fed.

At that, Adel has something she can think of to say, crossing her arms over her chest, "We are better than any of the other companies," she asides, less to the group and more to— whoever's sitting next to her. But then she sits up and nods at Berlin's words, adding, "Yeah, they could be trying to get us to tell her more than we would someone else, make us more comfortable and get more in the process." They could have chosen ex-Ferry to give comfort and more compliance.

Since yes, they probably would be a little less forthcoming with certain other members of the big letters agency.

Curtis arches a brow at Hana's statement, but doesn't argue with the Major. That never ends well for anyone but the Major, so he just leans back into his seat. An amused smirk fights at the corner of his lips to tug them upwards, and does for a moment before he quashes it back into a neutral expression. Ferry huh? Curtis leans back in his seat, while everyone else voices questions and concerns he goes quiet, listening and observing, a hand lifting, fingertips scritching through a few day's grown on his jaw.

Rue's brows hike up at the further information. Former Ferry, and someone who'd be an absurd choice due to an inability to remain impartial to their group. Building off Noa's line of questioning, she makes the leap that it would have to be somebody from New York for this to be a ridiculous level of incompetence.

There's a couple options that spring immediately to mind for who could fit that bill. She's not aware of the entire SESA roster, and certainly not without her own files in front of her, and for that matter, it isn't as though she recalls or even knew the name of every single Ferryman operative. There's best guesses to be made, however.

Letting the others play Twenty fuckin' Questions, Rue catches Avi's eye, pointing to him as she voices her conclusion, "Twenty bucks says it's Demsky's sister."

"You're on."

Nicole's practically been trying to babysit Colette from the start anyway, making Rue certain that this is going to be the easiest twenty dollars she's ever won from Epstein.

Hana's gaze flicks to Noa, and she nods. "Known," she confirms. She smiles thinly but with a hint of approval as several chime in with the word trap. "It probably is a trap," she agrees. "But whether it's a trap for us, her, someone else, or all of the above, we have no way of estimating."

She glances to Adel, and shakes her head slightly. "If this is a stupid decision," she allows, "that may be what they're thinking. But the real trap is not what she sees or reports. It's what anyone else sees when they look at us and her."

Straightening, Hana gestures vaguely in the direction of the Safe Zone. "If they decide they want to discredit us? To shut us down, directly or indirectly? If any fucking reporter wants to rabblerouse? All they have to do is start casting aspersions about that oversight. No matter how true she actually is to her job. No matter what we do or don't do."

"So I want to make this eminently clear," the major continues in steely tone. "Our professional conduct in this matter is to be impeccable. We will not interfere with her job." She glances to Berlin. "She will have the same access to information as any officer. She will ride along on missions, but is not to take any action save in self-defense."

"That also means," Hana continues, looking to each and every one of her audience in turn, "former Ferry or not, she cannot be treated as a friend, not even off-duty. We need that appearance of impartiality. Don't get drunk with her. Don't buy her lunch, or give her anything someone could call a bribe. Which is anything," she emphasizes.

Rue's wager with Avi isn't nearly quiet enough to escape notice. Hana pauses to look over at them, and shakes her head slightly. "Robyn Quinn," she supplies, having finally covered enough ground to be willing to drop the name.

When Hana grows (even more) serious, Noa straightens from her lazy slouch in the chair, leaning forward and folding her arms in front of her on the table. She nods at the words 'known Ferry,' her brow drawing together, no doubt also considering the names running through her mind — who's Ferry, who's willing to work for SESA, and who's willing to work with Wolfhound… each factor limiting the catalogue bit by bit.

The warnings are nodded at — easy enough in theory. But the dropping of the name is a surprise — that name wasn't one that had made it through the filters, obviously. Shit.

Her eyes dart to Rue, then back to Hana. "When does she get here?" she says simply.

Leaning over, Devon reaches with a closed hand to bump fists with Adel in agreement. The best. He leans back as Hana continues with her instruction, not quite affecting the level of professionalism she's demanding. But closer. His elbows rest on the arms of his chair, hands draped to dangle near his lap. And he's still a little slouched, leaning back rather than sitting straight.

The revelation of who draws Devon's brows up, and he looks like he might laugh. Or go off on a rant. Either is likely. "Never pegged her as a snitch," is what he says instead of reacting with more animation. "She seemed just sort of mild and go-with-the-flow. Anyway for us to find out how bad this can turn out for us? …Or her?"

Professionalism. Berlin can do that. Mostly because she's good at keeping her mouth shut. That's what she does now, in response to Hana's orders regarding their new babysitter. She stays sitting upright at the table, as if to prove she is perfectly capable of good behavior. She might not like the orders, but she can follow them either way.

Robyn Quinn is likely not a name she expected, either. Her eyes widen a touch, but her expression is quick to return to neutral. "She probably isn't one," she says to Devon, "this is a trap for her as much as for us. She holds one thing back because she's got friends here and that's it." For her, for them.

Fistbump is intercepted with Adel fist and she's grinning for a moment, before settling down to listen to the orders. She's nodding away, taking the Major's words to heart— right up until the actual name gets dropped. Robyn Quinn. One of Adel's many moms. At first she sits up straight, almost as if she realizes just how bad this could go for her and then her shoulders go into a slump. Cause— she's not sure even on orders she can pretend not to be friends with her. Unless she pretends she's still mad about the whole breakup with Elaine— she could possibly do that.

When Noa looks at Rue, she processes what it also means for that member of their group, and— this is gonna be difficult.

For a few reasons. It's not as if her notreallyrelation to Robyn was widely known. SESA couldn't have known. Could they?

Curtis unlike it seems everyone else around the table, has no idea who Robyn Quinn is. He sits there nonplussed, watching the various reactions around the table, eyes flickering from person to person before he slowly raises his hand and clears his throat. "For those of us that have no idea who she is? Is there a file I can read or a rundown someone can give me?" He drops his hand back to the table and threads his fingers together once again, shifting to sit up a bit straighter in his seat as he waits.

There's silence from the ginger woman as that name is spoken. Robyn Quinn. It's like an explosion that leaves her ears ringing in the aftermath. Everything else everyone is saying around her comes to her like she's underwater. Indistinct and undecipherable as the logic that spawned this monumentally terrible situation on the part of the SESA. She breathes, and she processes what this means for them. What it means for her. It all crashes into her at once.

"Fuck!" Again, the word just so perfectly sums up Rue's thoughts on the matter. Better she get it out of her system now so it isn't on the surface when their new watchwoman arrives. "Are they fucking fisting us with this shit?!" She's up from her seat so fast and with such force that the chair tips over behind her.

A twenty is dug out of her pocket and slapped into Epstein's expectant palm. "Wipe that shit eating grin off your face." But even when he's having fun at her expense, it manages to soften her harder edges. The flames of her anger gutter out, and with a sigh, Rue slinks back over to her chair, rights it, and sits down again.

"I'm sorry." That's sincere at least, subdued. "It's just—" Rue shakes her head. Anyone who knows anything about her knows that she and Robyn Quinn have history. For Curtis, she supplies helpfully: "Robyn Quinn is my ex."

"Monday," Hana supplies to Noa's question: six days from today. Her gaze flicks to Devon, and her expression takes on a layer of exasperation. Perhaps fortunately, Berlin addresses the subject of snitch first, and Hana is willing to leave it at that. The rest of what he says is at least a question the major considers appropriate, even if her response is to shake her head. "Not at this point." Berlin's commentary is met with a curt nod.

Conversely, Rue's outburst is met with grim visage, and not so much as a word of rebuke. Instead, Hana merely stands poised while Rue reclaims her seat, inclining her head at the oh-so-succinct summary the redhead concludes with. "I don't know what they're doing," she says, the words a low growl. "I just expect it to blow up in our faces one way or another."

"They're not going to budge on sending her. I did ask." Her gaze skips off Noa and Adel, flicks back to Rue. "You have some time to get used to the idea. If you don't think you can, talk to me." She scans the room again. "Otherwise — we've hunted enough people down by now that you know how they trip up. Try not to trip up."

Hana falls silent then, the type of silence — and of expression — that is willing to entertain further questions, rather than summarily ending the conclave.

Noa reaches to tug Rue back by the back of her shirt, but ends up not needing to — the would-be collaring shifts into a touch on the shoulder, a tacit offer of support. "She's Ferry and a friend. Fought and protected people. She was at Pollepel. She's not an enemy," she offers quietly to Curtis when he asks for information. Her dark eyes meet those of her mother, as she adds, "That said, for now she's not a friend either. We can and will be professionals."

It hurts her to say it.

Her glance slides over to Adel, and there's sympathy in her eyes for her, as well, before she looks back to Hana again and nods.

Finally, Berlin sits back in her chair, rubbing a hand over her face. At Rue's outburst. Her head tips back and she shakes it for a moment before lifting it again. She doesn't look toward Rue, perhaps wanting to give her a moment without people staring at her, but looks to Hana instead.

"We won't." Trip up, that is. It's a hope rather than a promise, but she does have hope. These are good people, after all. And good operatives. "She not… moving in, is she?" That's maybe where a bit of doubt slips in. It would be so much harder not to trip up with her living down the hall. Maybe not for Berlin herself, but. Others. Other.

If you don't think you can, talk to me. Adel nods at that final order. She'll have to see how it works when they're together again, but— she'll keep the words of the Major in mind. She'll do her best, too. If only cause she doesn't want to let the Major or Colette down. And part of her doesn't want to let her mom down either. Hopefully she'll still let her jump out of pla— no— no. The Major will let her jump out of planes. This is gonna take some figuring out. For a change, Adel presses her lips together and looks to be thinking, arms crossed over her chest for a moment.

Both brows raise on Curtis' face when Rue says that Robyn is her ex. "Oh. So it's not meant to be impartial at all. They're trying to sink her and us. Fucking lovely." Curtis comments softly, his head shaking slowly, clearly frustration on his features, but he gives no further voice to that frustration. "Will she be housed here? Or just here all the time?" He asks in a level tone, sitting stiff in his chair now, shoulders hunched like a canine that's got it's hackles up. "That's good to know at least. She won't be actively trying to to mess us up. From the sound of it she'll probably be stepping just as carefully as we are." Curtis lets his eyes wander the room. "From the reactions I guess a fair number in here know her and or have personal connections to her. So… absolute best behavior huh Major?" He glances back at her, a wry and not at all amused smile on his lips.

Curtis' words cause Rue's shoulders to hunch up, posture shifting as if she'd like to make herself smaller, which is not easily accomplished at her height. The guilt gnaws at her insides, insidious in its erosion of her confidence. "I—"

Rue hates this position they've all just been put in, and feels like it's made worse because of her. It would have been bad enough if it had just been a former Ferry operative, but to have this kind of connection…? She has no idea that Adel's could be even more damning.

The hand on her shoulder is placating, and Rue settles her own over Noa's, tacit thanks for the support. She's angry with herself for losing her composure in front of everyone. There's so much effort made to keep it together and look like someone who can be trusted. Why does she find it easier to keep her head in the field than she does in the briefing room?

When Berlin asks her question, Rue's eyes snap to her, and then then slowly go back to Hana, watching her face for any sign of what the answer to that question may be. She knows even before the other woman comes into focus that she isn't going to like it. Her shoulders sag, defeated.

Tapping herself on the chest with one of her well manicured nails, then pointing to the Major, she nods her head. Me. You. After. Adel may be taking the wait and see approach before having this conversation, but Rue isn't prepared to.

Dark eyes rest on Noa as she speaks, and the elder Gitelman nods. "Remember," she says more quietly, "not giving them— " Whoever 'them' may wind up being. "— ammunition helps her as well as us." Inasmuch as it will help anyone at all.

Looking to Berlin and then Curtis, Hana tips her head in what might as well be a shrug, albeit one accompanied by a very flat expression. "She's to have the same degree of access as an officer. That means she'll have the option of staying here." Whether Quinn takes it… they'll find out next week.

Rue's gesture is met with the briefest of nods, little more than a slight dip of Hana's chin. Hana looks back to Curtis, and her lips quirk slightly with her own deficit of amusement. "I think you've got the picture by now."

Scanning the room one more time, Hana evaluates everyone's faces, then nods once, definitively. "That's all. Dismissed."

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