How Do You Refine a Blunt Instrument?


charity_icon.gif claire_icon.gif hagan_icon.gif isabelle_icon.gif julian_icon.gif rupe_icon.gif

Scene Title How Do You Refine a Blunt Instrument?
Synopsis …or "Yes We Can."
Date January 2, 2009

Carmichael Manor

There is nothing at all modern about this home. From its red stone facade to its Victorian wooden staircase, fireplaces and Persian rugs, it simply reeks of old world elegance and old money. Despite the age of the building and its furnishings, care has been made to maintain it, to hold on to the character that tends to be pushed out for more fashionable and clean-lined style.

There are five bedrooms, one of which is occupied by Rupe and the other by his live-in housekeeper/personal assistant, Christa. The rest stand ready to be used, should someone need a safe place to stay. The main floor offers ample space to gather throughout a living, dining and drawing room, as well as an elegant foyer. The basement contains a training facility and storage room. It has a hidden doorway that can be accessed via a narrow alley around the back. It is useful so that people can come in and out without drawing any undue attention.

Carmichael Manor still has Christmas lights in the window and the outline of a grand Christmas tree can be seen from the street. It will come down soon enough, but neither putting it up nor taking it down is a priority for Rupe. He's got bigger things to tend to, namely the first official gathering of the members of Shedda Dinu - though none of them know to call themselves that just yet. When each arrive, either alone or in groups, they are escorted to the den area by a casually dressed young woman named Christa with loosely bound blonde hair. She doesn't smile, just murmurs that Rupe will be along shortly and asks if they would like anything to drink.

Hagan walks down the street with Julian and Claire. As they approach Carmichael Manor, the Irishman tosses his nearly spent cigarette into the snow. "So you're sure about this guy, this…Rupe fellow?"

"Look, he poured funds into our operations before," Julian says, a little impatiently as they near the house. And it's rather rich for him to say 'our', as if he'd really been that active a member of PARIAH. Active enough, but he's certainly throwing himself into the deep end more now than ever before. "There ain't no reason or choice not to be sure. He has ideas, besides. Just wait 'til y'talk to him, you'll see what I mean." Rupe could do a better job of convincing Hagan than Julian ever could, after all. He reaches for the doorhandle to let himself in, rather than bother with knocking.

"Yeah," Claire assures Hagan, likewise tossing a Camel cigarette into the snow. Agreeing with Julian's assessment, she adds, "Rupe's a good guy. You'll understand when you've met him." She steps into the house after Julian, equally at ease about not knocking or waiting for permission to enter.

And Rupe's actually quite happy to see Claire and Julian just letting themselves in. It so happens that the academic is just coming down the stairs with a laptop under one arm when the trio make their entrance. "Claire, Julian. So glad you could come. Hope you've had a…a good Christmas, holidays and all that? Lived it up on New Years'?" His smile is warm and genuine. This is a man greeting friends. "And this must be Mister…O'Sullivan?"

Hagan looks a little awkward under Rupe's scrutiny. The eye contact is made almost immediately and the Irishman has a hard time looking away. "Em. Yes. They say you're going to help us fight? Tell us the best way to do things and all that?"

"I am. But for now, come in. Have a coffee. A glass of wine. Relax while we wait for everyone to arrive."

"Love to," Julian says amicably, shouldering off the somewhat bulky leather jacket he'd taken to wearing and hanging it up. He mostly knows where to go, hesitating only a moment to glance back at Claire and Hagan before heading towards the den area, keeping his hands still encased in cheap woolen gloves with the fingertips cut out for dexterity's sake. They come up to cup over his mouth as he coughs a little into them, as one might do with a winter-induced cold.

Claire sheds her coat as well, hanging it up with Julian's, before she tugs on the hem of her tee shirt - a plain, fitted white thing with a spiral and sloppy script lettering in a pale green shade that reads: Visualize Whirled Peas. "Coffee?" she asks of Julian, moving to pour herself a cup from a pot set out.

Leaning against a piece of furniture. The woman blows at her nails and ruffles her hair. Wearing only a black tank top and dark pants with steel-toed boots is Isabelle Ashford waiting patiently for Rupe to enter. Her hair is down as usual and the woman clearly looks bored as she waits. She lightly taps her foot against the floor and then her eyes brighten as she hears others come in. "Aw Jules, it's been to long." She says as Julian comes into her line of sight. "Missed me?" Isabelle pushes herself off furniture and grins at the people entering. "C, Shadowman, Rupey." Isabelle has a thing for nicknames, she just hasn't thought of one for Claire in particular yet. Maybe.. Miracle Girl? She'll have to see what comes to mind. When Isabelle is done with greeting everyone she folds her arms across her chest. "Cold everyone?" she teases lightly and looks a the group.

"Hello Isabelle," says Rupe in that soft, genuine way of his. "Please. Have a seat. Get comfortable, get a snack and something to drink. I'm…going to have a little talk here with Mr. O'Sullivan before we get started." And then Rupe's set his hand on the Irishman's shoulder and is steering him off to a nearby office.

Hagan looks a little apprehensive at first, but Rupe's gentle mannerisms and the firm, but polite way he guides him from the room causes him to follow the academic. There's a glance cast to the others before he's lead out of the room for a quick chat.

"I'll do wine," he says to Claire, glancing back at her then across at the pyrokinetic as he enters the room at a lazy stride. "Cold? Very," Julian says in response to Isabelle, although it's substantially warmer in the den than it was outside. "Y'know what they say about settin' a man on fire, Izzy. He stays warm for the rest of his life." He sets about obtaining himself a glass of red, seemingly far comfier in this environment than he had been before.

"Texas and California look better every day this cold stretches on," Claire admits as she sets the coffee pot down and then wraps her hands tightly around her coffee cup. "He also stays pretty dead, Julian. And I do rather prefer you alive. So don't get any ideas, Iz." The girl grins and comes to stand near Julian.

"Oh fine, spoilsport." Isa winks at Claire and puts her hands on her hips. "I was going to offer to set you on fire but Claire likes to have you around so I guess you'll stuck being cold." She teases Julian.

At the top of the stairs, a slim woman appears swathed in a black bathrobe with a hand-embroidered Chinese dragon emblazed across the back in orange and gold thread. Curls of mousy brown hair are pinned back with a simple plastic clip, leaving a few errant, flyaway strands to frame a round face, dimpling cheeks and a pair of blue-gray eyes that are as watery as they are solemn. Charity Thornton ties the robe's sash as she descends the stairs on long, bare legs, the hem of her night shirt peeking out beneath the silk and brushing against her thighs as she moves — slow and languid, tired but purposeful like an old cat that's just been roused from its place in the sun by the sound of rustling. In this case, the rustling is voices: some that are familiar to her, others not.

It doesn't take long for Rupe and Hagan to re-enter. "All right, ladies and gentlemen. I'm…very pleased you all are here." He smiles around at them, then takes his laptop and opens it up. "I want you all to feel at home here. This is your safe place. This is your refuge. If you're ever in trouble, come here. Before you leave tonight, I'll show you how to get in the back way. You'll all get the access code. But please, if you're bringing in someone I haven't met, give me a call first. You all should have my dedicated line. If you don't, please see me before you leave." As he speaks, the academic makes sure to make eye contact with each of them in turn. "I hope that…— ah, Charity." Rupe glances out the door and towards the hallway. "Hope you slept well. Please, come in and join us. No doubt there are some familiar faces here."

For his part, Hagan looks a little cagey. But for those who know him, that's to be expected. He walks quickly out of the room when Rupe leads him back in and grabs for the bottle of wine. He pours himself a generous amount, then finds a seat by Claire and Julian. He mops the hair back from his face, and stays uncharacteristically quiet. He looks a bit…intimidated, or at least respectful of Rupe. When Charity descends the stairs, he turns to look at her. He shoots the others a 'do you know her?' glance.

Both hands clasping his rather liberally filled wine glass, Julian gives Rupe his attention as he speaks. He trusts Claire to be the one to remember the little details, but he's listening, at least, bringing his glass of wine up to his sip as his gaze shifts towards the door— and his eyebrows raise as he does in fact recognise the woman that's entered. He's not about to wander over and greet Charity, no, he likes his fingers attached to his hand and he's not sure if she's carrying anything sharp on her person— but he does offer the woman half a smile. "Fancy seein' you out here," he says, musingly. Out here? And he shrugs a little at Hagan's quizzical glance.

Claire listens to what Rupe has to say with marked interest. When Hagan comes to join them, however, she gives him her attention, shaking her head in response to his unspoken question. Charity is unfamiliar to her. But not, it seems, to her other companion. The coffee is brought to her lips and she sinks down to half-sit against the arm of Julian's seat, brows furrowed only marginally.

"The same goes for Old Lucy's, it's a safe place for us there as well. So don't be shy about coming around there if you need too." Izzy offers and when Hagan joins Claire and Julian, she stand behind where he is sitting, hands on the chair's back. Her eyes flick to Charity and they raise in question. Ah someone she doesn't know. She continues to listen to Rupe though the new woman in the room also grabs her interest.

Charity's response to Rupe's inquiry is a small, fleeting smile that has come and gone by the time she arrives at the bottom of the stairs. It might be a yes, it might be a no — the only person who knows for sure is their host. "Bonsoir, Julian," she murmurs as she crosses to one of the open chairs and adopts a seat there. Her tone, though soft and somewhat agreeable, isn't necessarily very friendly. "It's been a long time." Claire, Isabelle and Hagan each earn a scrutinizing look in lieu of a formal greeting; as prone as she is to stepping on other people's toes, she's trying to refrain from trodding on Rupe's in his own home. There will be plenty of time for introductions later.

That seems to be Rupe's thought as well, because he doesn't stop to make introductions. He's spoken of them all to Charity before. They'll just sort out who's who later on. He plugs in a cable and then hits a button. A screen slides down from the ceiling just to his left. It would all seem very James Bond, except he looks too much like a college professor. There's a little fiddling with cables, and then an image appears on the screen - that of a four pointed star with waves between them. "This is the sign of Shamash, the Babylonian sun god. The god of justice. Shamash rights wrong and brings injustice to light. And that's what we will do." He takes on a more charismatic persona as he speaks. The stutering lessens and, although he is still the same gentle man, he seems more authoritative in the way an expert lecturer would. "Shedda Dinu means 'to judge demons.' That's what we will do. They think we're the monsters. But the monsters are those who persecute us and who circumvent the laws to do it. These are men and women who respond with force not befitting the crimes. The demons are those who betray those like them." He hits a device in his hand and the screen flips from the sun-symbol to a series of bios on SCOUT members. "These are the demons that we will bring judgment upon, even as they…try to judge us."

Hagan watches, eyes a touch wide. It's hard to say how all this is affecting him. He swallows a large mouthful of wine.

Julian's gaze lingers on Charity curiously even after the presentation begins, but after that, he's watching. He remains tense, silent, and mostly unreadable. After a moment, he glances towards Hagan to see how he's taking this, but the fellow Irishman is about as closed off as he is. Leaning back into his seat, his wine glass balanced on his knee with one hand spidered over it, the other hand comes up to brush against his own chest - a subtle shape of a crucifix just beneath his shirt, indicated only by the thin chain that disappears into his collar.

Claire's eyes are glued now to the screen. He's no James Bond, but perhaps he's more akin to Q? As she watches the presentation, her eyes smoulder with hatred once the image on the screen changes to those of SCOUT members. Her fingers tremble around her coffee cup.

Isabelle growls lightly as she watches and listens. She thinks back to the raid and the deaths that happened because of it. Her eyes are bright with the inner flame of anger and she only nods her head in response.

"I'm not talking religion, here." It's as if Rupe anticipated that conflict. He looks pointedly to Hagan and Julian. "I'm talking about symbolism. Something to unite us. No one believes in these gods anymore, but Babylon is ancient, and its influence find its way into virtually every religion. So it is a banner under which we can al-…be united." There's more of a plea in his tone now. Then, the image flicks again to a grainy shot of an EMT. "His name is James Harvard. He is the brother of…this man." The screen flicks again, to an official head-shot of William. "It's too direct to raid his apartment directly, before we've learned to function as a team. So we are going to see…what we can find…" and the screen flicks to an image of an apartment complex. "…in his house. Now…" Rupe adopts a more casual posture and sits on the edge of the desk. "…I want to know…how you would use your talents to break in to this man's house and leave no trace that you were ever there."

Hagan still looks a little uneasy. He's no practicing Catholic, but it's a religion that sticks with you, whether you attend Mass anymore or not. He does seem reassured though, now more confident they're not being asked to worship some other god. "Well, you know…darkness might help with the not being seen thing. I can hide other people. It involves a little hand-holding, but no skipping." He deadpans this.

Julian doesn't make a show of indication that this eases his own uneasiness regarding all this talk of demons and symbols, but he does nod once. When the lecture turns to strategy, he leans forward in his seat, holding the glass loosely, and glances towards Hagan. He lifts one gloved hand, fingertips barely peeking out the ends. "For as long as y'can stand it," he says, then looks to Rupe. "I dunno if I could be subtle but I can make it look like any old burglary," he says. "Steal a few things, trash it a bit. For the sake of the masquerade, of course." A twist of a smirk.

"I'm all for that one," Claire chimes in after Julian. "I can be fairly light on my feet and I can cover my tracks to a certain extent. But I think Julian may be on the right track with making it look like a run-of-the-mill burglary."

Isabelle blinks and then scratches her head, "Well uh.." Isabelle shakes her head and gestures with her hand, a little fire burns in her palm. "Nothing really subtle about my ability, but I am experienced at breaking and entering so I could help /a lot/ with that." Izzy offers.

Now Charity regards Rupe coolly, saying nothing at first. Unlike Hagan, Isabelle and Julian — whose ability she is already familiar with — her talents lie elsewhere; neither breaking into someone's home nor covering her tracks are things she'd be especially good at. Digging up dirt on their intended target? More her forte. "Pardon, Rupert," she puts in, "but there are other things we should consider. Harvard's schedule, for instance. It would be… inconvenient, if he were to return home while our friends are in the process of turning it upside-down?"

"That isn't a bad idea, Julian," says Rupe. "But I'd like this mission to be a test as well as a useful operation. It is good to have an excuse for actions. That will be a useful tool. But so is no trace of our presence, so that no one can put the pieces together and mark our movements. Besides, a crime always means authorities. And authorities means they might find a trace of one of us." He looks around to all of them. "If you don't think you can do it without a trace, then we'll go the burglary route. But I'd like the first choice to be a silent operation. We're still gatheirng some intelligence," a nod towards Charity, "But I hope to have an idea of the building security. If I could get you a key…" he looks around to each of them. "…how would that change your tactics?" He grins to Isabelle. "I know your…gift is more suited to obvious tactics, and there will be use of it. But yes, your break-and-enter skills would be very useful here. Even if I find you keys, there may be something locked within his apartment." Charity's cool look is met with a flickering smile. "I thought of that." He hits another button. It's a scan of a paramedic duty schedule. "This might be subject to change, of course. But the day we make our raid, someone will be assigned to watch, then tail Mr. Harvard until we're sure that he has indeed gone to work."

Hagan thinks about this for a moment, then. "Well. I could…I suppose, shadow us until we were in the apartment?" He's never done anything like this before. His suggestions are tentative.

The red wine is downed and Julian leans forward to place the empty glass on the nearest flat surface. He shrugs a little at Rupert, looking about ready to disagree… but for whatever reason, he thinks twice, and just shrugs again. "I'm no ninja," he says, then tilts his head to Hagan. "But he can do the dark thing and Izzy's probably got my B and E experience than I do. I can follow if she needs another set've eyes. My gift is a bit've of a specific one."

"I can fit into small spaces. Air ducts and crawl spaces. I can find alternate routes into places. Maybe not as useful in this instance, but it could come in handy in office buildings or warehouses. I don't know." The former cheerleader shrugs. "I don't have too much experience with breaking into some place where I don't intend to make my presence known eventually. I could probably help to tail the guy, though." Claire's expression takes on a hint of the apologetic. "You're asking an awful lot from people who're used to being very blunt instruments, Rupe."

"I'd still just use my breaking and entering. Unless you wanted me to burn the place down?" Izzy offers with a soft grin.

"I know I am, Claire," says Rupe gently. "But that's why I asked you all if you were willing to be subtle when I proposed this. I know it means re-learning much, but if we continue to be blunt, they'll find us again." There's a certain steeliness to his gaze as he looks Claire in the eye. "It will take some time to find a way for this to work, to find applications of your powers that don't leave marks. But I'm confident in all of you. All I'm asking is that you give this mission a try. If, in the process you decide that it's impossible to get out without a trace, you can always revert to the burglary cover." He takes a deep breath, then stands. "You all are more than just your abilities. I didn't approach any of you for your Evolved gifts. I approached you for who you are and your commitment to the cause. You are still valuable." Earnest.

For his part, Hagan just sits and listens. Normally he'd be more talkative, but he's aware he's low man on the totem and a new recruit. He's never done -anything- like this before. A few looks are given to Claire and Julian, but mostly he nurses his wine.

Claire squirms slightly under Rupe's gaze. To her credit, however, she holds his eyes. "I'm willing to learn. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make those people pay for what they've taken from-" She stutters, hesitates. "Us." She presses her lips together in a thin line and nods her head slowly. "I can do this." She glances about the room to the faces of those she counts among her allies. "We can do this."

"We will do this." Izzy says to Claire and pats the younger woman's shoulder. "We have to."

"I know you can. You are all more than just your abilities. Your gifts are only one tool. You can learn to be lockbreakers and spies. You can learn to do all the things that will make this work. I'm here to teach you, to help you. And I have great confidence in all of you. They…" Rupe points to the screen, indicating SCOUT. "…would love you to believe you're only your power. Because that means if they undermine your power, they beat you. But you all are much stronger than that. And this method that forces you not to rely on your gifts, will make you even stronger." He seems to believe what he's saying.

Gift of persuasion or no gift, Rupe's words make Hagan sit a little straighter. Especially with how downtrodden he's been feeling lately.

It's the same as with Hagan. Even if Rupe's ability were stripped away, Claire would still feel greatly impacted by the weight of his words. "Where do we start?"

The pyro nods at Claire. "Let's get busy, justice to bring and all."

"For now, we need to wait until more intelligence to be gathered. But I would like you all to become more acquainted with each other, if you aren't already. Talk over strategy amongst yourselves, either now or over the next few days. Ultimately, it's you going into the field. I can make my suggestions, but above all I want you to be comfortable with what you're doing." Rupe extends his hand and motions to all of them. "Stay as long as you like. Christa will show you how the back door lock works before you go. I've got to make a few calls. And, of course, keep an eye out for recruits. Isabelle, I have a feeling your bar is going to be invaluable for that." She gets a kind smile.

Hagan stands too. "I'd stay and chat, but I've work in the morning. I'll catch up with you all later. Mister Carmichael," And then with little fanfare, the Irishman moves quickly out. It's a lot to take in. He's got to let it percolate.

January 2nd: Get Used to It
January 3rd: Helping People Who Need It
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