How to Maintain an Effective Front


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Scene Title How to Maintain an Effective Front
Synopsis During a Ferrymeet called to discuss Lynette's disappearance and how to maintain an effective front, several operatives are already doing it on a much smaller scale. One of them loses her cool.
Date June 6, 2010

Gun Hill: Studio Apartment

The first impromptu Ferrymeet at Gun Hill finds its operatives in a spacious studio apartment on the building's fifth and highest floor, looking out over the railway tracks that run through Woodlawn past Van Cortlandt Park. Unfurnished except for a table, chairs and a corduroy sofa large enough to sit three people comfortably, the studio acts as a storage room due to the fact that the wires in the walls are faulty and the plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom needs to be replaced. Boxes of supplies, most of them packed with non-perishable food items, are scattered throughout in short stacks, though none are marked — that's likely a job for Magnes or Sable the next time they stop by to volunteer.

Late afternoon light trickles through the open windows, broken up by skeletal branches that have yet to start growing new leaves even though the temperature is warmer than it's been for longer than most of the operatives in attendance can remember. "I've checked all the hospitals in the greater metropolitan area," Susan is saying from her seat at one end of the table, her hands folded at its edge with sunlight glancing off the gold wedding ring she wears on the appropriate finger. "There's no sign of her at any of the morgues, either, and my contacts with the NYPD say there's no one locked up who fits her description."

By the window, Eileen stands with her back to the table, preferring to watch the reflections of the people seated around it rather than show them her face, unnaturally gaunt and pale, defined by lackluster green eyes and the dark circles carved beneath them. She hasn't said anything for the duration of the meeting, but it's also only a few minutes in. A lit cigarette hangs between the knuckles of two slim fingers with angular joints and long pearl nails.

Sitting at the table instead of on the periphery, Colette Nichols is taking this entire situation both heavily to heart and also personally. While Lynette may have been the one running this particular safe-house, her disappearance happened under Colette's nose and — as she would say — on her watch. Slouched back in one of the folding chairs around the table, Colette rubs a hand across her mouth and stares down with mis-matched eyes to the table's old and worn surface.

Despite the fact that her mind's racing, the young woman hasn't been speaking much, hesitant to pipe up about the situation given how she feels about what's happened. That she seems to be blaming herself for this situation is evident in her features, from the worried look in her eyes to her tense posture; she doesn't hide her feelings well.

"That still leaves several explanations." Lately, Jensen Raith has become a fixture at Ferry meetings, even if he has not been formally inducted into the organization. Calmly, evenly, he paces across the floor, one hand in his pocket and a smoldering cigar in the other. "None of them are very appealing," is the sad fact he has to add to his statement. Even if the most innocuous of them turns out to be true- and Lynette just went camping and didn't tell anyone- it doesn't speak highly of her.

Colette may not be speaking much, but on his latest pass by her, Raith stops and very deliberately places a hand on the girl's shoulder, giving it a firm squeeze: Not your fault, darlin'.

"So the logical conclusions to be drawn here are what?" Odessa asks casually, gaze slanting from an inspection of what she can see of Eileen's reflection in the window to Raith, and then settling on Susan. "It could be possible with the influx of bodies being found with the thaw that if she's dead, she simply hasn't been ID'd or accounted for." A callous way of looking at it, but not entirely impractical.

Narrow shoulders come up in a shrug, displacing blonde hair. "Though given my admittedly somewhat limited knowledge of Miss Rowan, I would be willing to bet that she wasn't simply mugged." Odessa glances around the room briefly, pursing her lips just slightly. "I hate to sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist or something, but I think the Company or their ilk look good for this."

Tasha sits beside Colette — normally she would take the peripheral seats, being the newcomer among them, but the fact Colette is upset means that Tasha is nearby. She has a hand on Colette's, fingers curled around the other squeezing reassurance. When Raith comes by to do the same, Tasha looks up and offers a tentative smile of gratitude, knowing that Colette respects him. The gesture will mean something to the other 18 year old.

"It isn't your fault. We come and go. We just moved in — it's not like we know her patterns or schedules. And if it's your fault, it's equally mine, Magnes', Sable's," Tasha whispers for just Colette's ears, words she's said several times since they finally realized that Lynette had been missing and wasn't, it seemed, coming back any time soon.

"Do we have anybody on the, uh, on the inside we can ask about that?" Doyle's leaning back against the wall, one hand raising up to scratch at the beard that's still growing along his jawline and chin in a thoughtful fashion, his brow furrowed a little, "I know that there was a lot of— a lot of back and forth negotiating and all during the Liette stuff. Did we pick up anybody over there we could drop a quick query to?"

Sitting back in a chair, arms crossed, Kaylee listens even though her head is tilted down a little, eyes are on the slick surface in front of her. Despite being cleared, the telepath feels a touch uncomfortable considering what happened and what she found out.

Eyes lift to angle a glances towards Colette and Tasha, a small tug of a smile, before she glances at Odessa and Doyle in turn, brows furrowing thoughtfully. Fingers lift to catch at a loose strand of blonde hair before tucking it behind her ear.

"The only person with a direct line to the Institute is Harve Brennan." This from Eileen, who is fortunate that she doesn't have to speak very loudly to be heard thanks to the lack of furniture in the room. Her hoarse voice echoes in the studio's high ceilings without much effort. "Even if they pulled information out of his head to use against us, he doesn't know about Rowan. It's much more likely that her involvement with Costa finally caught up with her, but we're not in a position to discount anyone yet. That includes Humanis First."

She curves her thumb along her cigarette's filter, rotating it between her fingers. "Whatever's become of her, we need someone to take over Gun Hill so the city doesn't shut us down. We've got tenants on the bottom floors with legitimate leases who don't know about the Ferry."

Raith takes a long from his cigar while Eileen speaks. When she finishes he exhales, and for a brief moment, the priorities of the meeting have changed. "Who's on the slab?" he asks, "We got anyone who knows how to manage property?"

Making a noise in the back of her throat, Colette ducks her head down when she feels Raith's hand on her shoulder, but there's a sheepish smile none the less on her lips. Dark brows lift up slowly, and the half-blind young woman offers him an askance look, even while the hand holding Tashas' squeezes gently. Her attention languidly tracks back to Eileen, then down to the table top again as she shakes her head slowly.

"I… I don't even know anything about her, or— whoever it is you mentioned. Heck we— we only really talked once, over dinner, the night we got here. I… God I wish I noticed sooner, I— " the disconcerted sound Colette made before happens again, and with another shake of her head she lifts her eyes up to settle squarely on Eileen.

Raith's question, admittedly, elicits a look of discomforted uncertainty from Colette. "Did Lynette know how?" Which is, admittedly, a relatively good question.

Arriving after the session has commenced, Cat takes up a position such as not to call attention to herself and restrains herself to listening for the present time. She stands near the back of this room, eyes drifting across people one by one with a brow raised toward Jensen. Slab? What? Who died? As far as the Institute is concerned in terms of missing people, she has an idea which way to look but will speak on that later.

"I might have a contact within the Company," Odessa admits in response to Doyle's question. "But he might want something in return for the information. I can initiate contact if that's something we'd be interested in…" When the subject shifts, Odessa doesn't pursue her line any further.

"How difficult can it be?" the doctor queries. "Collect rent, answer calls for maintenance?" That's what the television and movies tell her about apartment management, at least. "We simply fabricate a cover story about how she's out of town on a family emergency and someone else is stepping in for her, no?" Odessa frowns thoughtfully. "My nomination goes to Eileen in that task, if anyone's curious," she offers oh-so-helpfully, stretching almost languidly before draping her arm across the back of the couch. Her eyes settle on the bird's frame.

"You have to consider legal stuff, too," Tasha says with a shake of her head. Ever the lawyer's daughter. "Contracts… stuff like what to do if the rent isn't paid or someone needs evicted. While Eileen is perfectly capable, I'm sure, I think that people might be a little suspicious if anyone too young does it, or … you know. We could." Colette and Tasha. And Eileen's not much older, nor any older looking, really, than the youngest among them. "You know how they're always advertising in like the Penny Saver for 'mature couples' and all. People just feel … safer if it's someone who doesn't look like they're still learning how to drive." An attempt at humor is made before her eyes flicker over to Doyle. "Maybe Eric?" He looks mature.

"I used to run a theatre, but… it wasn't as if I was handling a lot of people with that kind've business, totally different thing," Doyle says with a shake of his head to Tasha's ever-so-helpful volunteering of him, his nose wrinkling in a bit of a grimace at the admission, "And, I mean, I've got plenty to do at the Lighthouse most of the time…" Well, if one considers 'entertaining the children' to be a lot to do, which is totally not the case. He pushes off the wall where he was leaning, stepping over towards the couch where Odessa's seated - glancing down to it, and her, in mute query.

Eileen turns to regard Odessa's profile on the couch in her peripheral vision and draws from her cigarette. "Nomination respectfully declined," she says, smoke leaking from her nose and mouth. "I don't have the time that this safehouse needs to keep things running smoothly. Legality and front aside, there's more to do than collecting rent and making sure calls to maintenance get answered. Looking after the families on the upper floors, feeding them, monitoring the safehouse's stipend, supplies, security—"

She makes a gesture with her hand, cigarette's tip briefly visible as a bright pinprick of red-orange light. "Running a theatre might not be the same thing as operating a safehouse," she tells Doyle, angling her dark-haired head so she can address him fully, "but it's more experience than anyone in this room has with the exception of Chesterfield, and her hands are full with the Renaissance Building. If you aren't comfortable doing it by yourself, you can bring a co-operator on. Knutson. Thatcher."

Kaylee's suggestion causes something to twitch at the corner of her mouth that's neither smile nor frown. Susan catches it as she's reaching up to tuck a curly strand of deep red hair behind her ear. "Odessa's new to the network," she puts in. "She'd be a valuable asset to whoever takes over for Lynette, but I don't think it's fair for us to expect her to run Gun Hill in addition to her clinic."

"I think Eileen's got it" Raith suggests, "More than one operator, I mean. Someone to handle the regular tenants, someone else to handle Ferry operations, like that. We don't need a new permanent operator yet." The ex-spy is very careful to emphasize the 'yet.' No one can say for certain yet that Lynette will not be coming back, and the pause he takes to draw smoke from his cigar is intended, maybe, to give everyone a chance to consider this. "If we can't find someone with the time or skills to do both, we have to have a few someones that can do part of the job, at least."

Brows furrowed and somewhat lost in her thoughts, Colette stares down at the tabletop until the lull in conversation following Raith's words. The teen looks up, brows lifted in surprise when she finally notices Cat had come into the room, either not hearing her earlier or not recognizing her voice. Ducking her head back down, she looks thoughtful for a moment before offering an affirmed nod of her head.

"I like the idea of havin' a bunch of people here, like, for the time being. I mean, I'm already here with three other people on an assignment and… I mean our job is like, to rebuild the place and fix it up, right? If um, Odessa?" There's a look over to the familiar-looking blonde, and Colette's trying to place where she remembers her from. Maybe it's a previous Ferry meeting, maybe something before then that's a little more hazy.

"If— um, if Odessa's going to be running a clinic here too that'd be great. I already worked with Kaylee an' Eric on the Summer Meadows project, so… it'd be cool to have people I'm familiar with around and who I know are handy with tools and know what we're doing." Then, sheepishly offering a smile, Colette rolls her shoulders and looks back down to the table again. "I mean… if— that's okay?"

"Price," Odessa corrects Eileen in a quiet voice. "Not Knutson. Price. And I'm sticking with it this time." Unlike all her other fleeting aliases, that is. Her head inclines graciously toward Susan before she looks up at Doyle in quiet askance, the ghost of a playful smile on her lips. Would you like to come play apartment manager with me, Eric?

Returning to the subject at hand, Odessa does have to agree, "I expect - well, hope a bit - to have my hands full running the clinic. I mean, obviously I will help out here however I can, but I have very little real world experience when it comes to dealing with people and their needs outside of the medical field. I'm not the person you want coordinating or attempting to acquire supplies."

"We'll have no trouble finding someone well versed in the law to review contracts and other documents when needed," Cat quietly remarks. She perceives other issues of management have been resolved and so doesn't comment on those. Likewise, her concern that someone died has abated; there's been no further mention of such an event.

"We can't be certain Lynette was snatched by the Institute," she muses, "but they're certainly a suspect. We also have reason to suspect Bella Sheridan is the source of the drug called Amp, so I recommend we undertake to interview her in the near future."

"We can do the safehouse stuff… feeding and supplies and stuff like that," Tasha says eagerly enough, though her eyes narrow at the mention of Isabella Sheridan. "I mean, we — Colette and Doyle and Sable and Mag and me — pretty much took care of all the Lighthouse kids together. I think we can handle this, and some of the maintenance issues too. I think we just need someone old enough to front the place in case anyone from the city comes nosing around so they don't think we're a buncha kids." Which most of them are, admittedly.

A heavy sigh spills past Doyle's lips as he drops himself down to sit on the edge of the sofa next to Odessa, looking more than a little on edge by all this talk; one hand lifting up to rub against his neck and nape, a grimace twisting his lips briefly. "If it's just temporary, I mean, until we find Lynette or someone else," he admits reluctantly, "I guess I can help with a— you know, a team…" A hand moves in a circle, gesturing to a few of those who've spoken up, "…to keep things going for a little bit."

The mention of Sheridan gets Kaylee's attention, her eyes narrowing some. There is a grimace and a shake of her head, her gaze moving between some of those there the last time they dealt with her. "I hope it isn't her. I think surprising her a second time, would be a bit tougher." Of course by saying a bit, she means a lot tougher.

"But yeah… I can help where needed, I don't exactly have a steady place to live to the moment, so I can be put where ever is needed." Kaylee admits a touch more blandly then she wanted. Sitting up in the chair she leans on the table. "So I'm free to do whatever."

At the window, Eileen rubs her knuckles across her brow, eyes half-lidded, and presses out a heavy breath. "The five of you then," she says, "with whatever help Dr. Price is able to provide—" The Englishwoman interrupted by a wet cough heaved into her hand holding the cigarette, but she manages not to burn her skin or even singe hair, though the front of her wool coat is not quite so lucky. Ash smears across her collar, turned down, bone white and gritty. The attempt she makes to brush it off with the back of her opposite hand a moment later isn't met with much success, and she abandons this endeavor to pick up again where she left off.

"The five of you," she says again. "If Sheridan knows anything about Rowan's disappearance, then Raith should be able to extract it from her."

"We're not seriously talking about torturing someone for information, are we?" Susan asks. Her blue eyes have been narrowed to slits since Cat put extra emphasis on the word interview. "That sounds to me like something Emile Danko would do. We don't even have any evidence that she's connected to Lynette's disappearance."

"Torture? No, no, no," Raith says, as if this would somehow reassure everyone, "You use torture to extract confessions, not information. If we wanted her to confess that she was involved in Lynette's disappearance, and that the people she works with are all horrible, inhuman monsters, that would be torture." One more drag from the cigar, and then Raith snuffs out the glowing tip in the ash tray on the table as he exhales smoke one last time. "Getting information is a matter of convincing someone they ought to start talking. Difference-" Maybe. "-I can handle convincing, if it comes to that."

"Difference? Evidence?" There's a look from Colette to Susan, "Are you ff— " There's a sharp sound of hissing breath before Colette answers Susan's question with the sound of her folding chair's feet scuffing backwards across the floor, pushed away from herself when she finally forces herself up from it and slams her hands down on the table. Her brows are creased into a furrow and jaw trembles despite her best efforts to keep it still. "No," she emphasizes sharply, "we're talking about torturing someone for information and then putting a fucking bullet in her head afterward," Colette snaps at Susan. "I'll pick up the goddamned gun myself in case nobody really thought about that, okay?" There's a haunted look in Colette's eyes as she flicks a nervous stare across the room after that outburst.

"Whatever," Colette hisses, waving a hand in the air shakily before stepping around her chair. "I— need some air," Colette finally blurts out with an unsteady quaver of her voice, and as she starts to turn for the door, Colette begins to peel away in the direction she's turning, as if submersing herself in some strange layers of hastily brushed on paint that first rob portions of her of their color and then paint her into the background as she streaks into invisibility.

Noisy stomping bootfalls moving towards the door make it evident that the invisibility is more reactionary. There's only so much talk of Bella that Colette can handle.

Odessa's shifts her position on the couch restlessly. Not entirely subtly, her hand has moved to rest on Doyle's knee. There, there. It won't be so bad, will it? "Let me talk to my contact first," she offers up, loud enough to assert that she wants very much to be heard after Colette storms off, "before we consider anything with Sheridan."

Not that Doctor Price is against torture or anything. Stop looking at me that way, Doyle. "If I can't dig up anything, then we should explore other avenues, of course."

Unflappably, just as easily as if she were discussing what to have for dinner, Cat glances at Susan. "I said interview. Not torture." Then she glances toward the vanishing Colette and where sounds say she's headed. "Don't storm out, please. Now, it would be bad if she were tortured and left with marks in any case. The same goes for ending her life. I won't debate over her worthiness to survive. The simple fact is if she works with the Institute, it wouldn't be good for there to be any evidence we spoke with her. No disappearance, no body to be found, and no marks." A seat is approached and soon filled, one chosen for the least displacement of other persons.

"Ideally, after we speak with her, no one there will know it took place, and if done right she might even be gotten to keep feeding us data." Operation Carmichael is in her mind, though she elects not to speak of just how familiar a plan it is. And hey… there's even a timestopper available.

Finally, Colette's possible location is addressed again, calmly. "I understand your desire for revenge, Colette. But I ask you think of bigger things. All revenge does is fill graves."

At Colette's outburst, Tasha frowns, her own brows contorting with pain and fear and anger that Colette obviously feels. Her own chair is pushed out, and she glances at the others in wordless apology, the way the other half of a couple sometimes does. There is the tacit promise to check on her, before Tasha follows the invisible but audible path that Colette took, her own feet quieter in black Converse as she hurries after, a soft "Colette, wait," murmured from Tasha as she slips through the door to the hallway beyond.

On the topic of 'torture' there's not a word spoken from Eric Doyle, who's smart enough to know an argument that he really shouldn't get into when he hears one — actually, he looks almost guilty all the way throughout. "Colette…" He half-raises a hand as she starts to storm out, but he finally just shakes his head, leaving her to storm if she likes. He's not going to move to stop her again. It didn't go well last time.

That hand falls, resting on the one on his knee, though he doesn't so much as look at Odessa otherwise.

The telepath looks about ready to offer her services to Raith, but — considering all things — she hesitates and eases back slowly with a heavy sigh through her nose. When Colette suddenly up and leave, Kaylee watches her, brows titling upward with worry as she disappears. Looking ready to say something, she stops herself.

Kaylee understand the reaction and doesn't blame her for it, letting her go… plus… that's not her place anymore. A thoughtful glance goes to Tasha as she leaves, before looking to Cat, but she really doesn't have much to say about it.

"She's dead wrong if she thinks she can get away with murdering someone in cold blood because her daddy works for the NYPD," Susan says to the room at large, though her words are mostly directed at Colette's retreating back, whether or not she can see it. Her blue eyes flick to Raith next and the smoldering remains of his spent cigar. "But I can't say I'm surprised. If my little girl idolized terrorists and serial killers as role models, she'd be a fucking mess too."

Eileen doesn't make any move to stop Colette's flight from the meeting. Tasha already has the situation well in hand. She avoids making eye contact with Susan by refusing to even look in her general direction. "You have forty-eight hours," she tells Odessa in a voice more rasping ragged than it was before Colette's vibrant outburst. "We can't afford to wait any longer than that." To Kaylee: "I need you to draft the bulletin. Let everyone know that Gun Hill's a joint operation, but if there's a network emergency where the safehouse has to be brought into play, people are to defer to Doyle."

Raith says nothing in the wake of Colette's outburst. As Eileen observed, others have that situation well under control. He does see fit to give Susan, dear Susan, a sideways glance that bears just the slightest promise of a threat. But it's short-lived, only a second, before he diverts his attention to stowing what remains of his stogie in his shirt pocket. "I'll take care of Sheridan," he says, although he leaves 'take care of' only vaguely defined, "Not that I wouldn't mind help with her. At least someone to screen for lies, if we can't just pull the truth out of her head.

"And then drop her someplace she can get in contact with her people, make it look like someone besides us is responsible." Again, Raith gives a very deliberate look towards Susan as he says this, as if to ask her without words, 'Siete soddisfatto?' Are you satisfied?

Odessa's fingers twitch beneath Doyle's in what might have been a squeeze. Possibly. "Forty-eight hours," she repeats with a nod of her head. "I should be able to get some answers in that amount of time." She turns her attention to Raith and shrugs. "If you want to pursue Sheridan regardless, that may not be a bad idea. I'll see what I turn up."

"Colette may be messed up," Cat states for Susan's benefit, "because Bella Sheridan tortured her. It's natural for someone to have such murderous thoughts toward her, after an experience like that. I don't believe she's a person generally drawn to cold blooded murder, and I don't believe her father's career influences her judgment in that regard." Then, with that angle left behind, she seemingly not feeling it needs further commentary, she moves on. "I have some ideas for the matter of Doctor Sheridan," she offers to Raith, with the gaze then traveling on toward Kaylee.

The ideas aren't expounded upon, she perhaps feeling the telepath would understand her meaning without it needing to be directly expressed.

"I'll have to let them know I'll be away from the Lighthouse for a bit," Eric says with a shake of his head, reluctant, "I'll, I mean, I'll do the best I can. No promises, though…" A faint smile, glancing over to Kaylee for support, giving Odessa's hand the slightest of squeezes.

There is a blink from Kaylee as Eileen addresses her, brows lifting. Her head turns slightly to look at Doyle giving him a small smile, before she slowly nods to Eileen. "I'll get a bulletin out, not a problem."

Considering what Raith says and Cat's meaning isn't lost at all, Kaylee sits there for a moment debating, but finally she looks to Raith, a brow twitching up as she asks.. "If… you're okay with me helping with that? I mean… I know a lot of… stuff has happened and all." She'll even be nice about it, even if the temptation to make the woman put a gun to her own head is there. Her gaze shift to Cat, "Then I'd be willing to give it a try."

Peter would have a fit — okay probably far worse then that — if he heard Kaylee saying that, but she reminds herself it's not something she has to worry about anymore.


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