How We Got Here


aric_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif

Scene Title How We Got Here
Synopsis …or at least one woman's perspective on how she got here anyway.
Date Aug 30, 2010

Redbird Security Solutions, Basement Level

At the bottom of the stairs there's a sturdy metal-reinforced door, locked not with an electronic mechanism but with an old-fashioned mechanical combination lock. A bright yellow biohazard sign is hung up on the door.

Once through the door, the basement is mostly open space interspersed with support columns of grey brick. A thick layer of grey latex paint covers the walls and floor, the ceiling overhead tiled with squares of sound-suppressing foam. A few filing cabinets are pushed up against the near wall, and a single computer desk, the box unconnected to anything except for power, sits between some of those cabinets. The rest of the front part of the roomis an area with folding chairs around a table and a pull-down screen across from a podium with a projector sitting on top of it, evidently for meetings. Deeper in the room, two dozen free-standing posts with sand-filled bases are scattered about, with strings and lines of yarn of all manner of colours connecting them. Post-it notes and photographs have been attached here and there with little pieces of tape. The far wall, behind the string map, bears the legend in stark white block letters upon the grey that stretches across most of the wall and from floor to ceiling: 'FIGHT THE FUTURE'.

The right third of the room has been divided from the rest by a wall of bulletproof glass and metal framing, accessed by a simple glass door near the main entrance of the basement. Inside, three locked gun cabinets sit against the wall, and the rest of that section of the room has been turned into two shooting lanes. Cheap pulley assemblies on the ceiling attached to electric motors hold target posters.

The text went out to both men. Meet me @ Redbird.

When they arrive to find no one in the main office, they'll know to come through the combination lock that protects the basement level. Elisabeth is on the premises after her first day back on the job at FRONTLINE. And it's apparently been something of a bitch of a day if her demeanor is anything to go by. Dressed in her all-black combat fatigues and boots, her blonde hair secured at the nape of her neck to tumble down her back in a wavy tail to her shoulderblades, she looks…. well, in all honesty, she looks like a soldier. No foolin'. It's not the face she tends to bring to Redbird often, just because it's hard enough to do what she does without scaring the hell out of a bunch of underground vigilantes. But well, there you have it.

Incongruously enough, there is music playing down here. "Above the planet on a wing and a prayer; My grubby halo, a vapour trail in the empty air, Across the clouds I see my shadow fly…" It's a synthesizer of some kind, and initially might be dismissed as a radio, but when the men descend to the lower levels there is a blonde audiokinetic playing on an actual synthesizer on the tabletop, singing softly.

As he walks down the stairs, Aric is dressed in a simple t-shirt, black jeans, and sandles. He pauses at the bottom of the stairs cocking his head slightly in Liz's direction as he slowly walks into the room. "Hey Liz. I got your text. Is everything ok?"

It's not often that Jaiden receives text messages. He'd only just turned on the service a few months prior, and most of the ones he does get were from mailing lists or UPS, telling him that parts had arrived or the specific bolt size he was seeking would not be available until next week, but this one didn't have the usual chirp involved, so he checked it rather quickly. Elizabeth wants to meet him at Redbird? Okay, fine.

A quick shower and a change of clothes later, Jaiden's pulling up outside of Redbird in his mustang, locking the door, and heading down the stairs. He's dressed in jeans and a button-down linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up a little past the elbow and his everpresent akubra hat. The music gives him a little bit of a pause, the man smiling a bit when Elisabeth comes into view. "Out of the corner of my wand'ring eye, A dream unthreatened by he morning light, Could blow this soul right through the roof of the night." Jaiden sings along…

Even as the gentlemen enter the basement, Elisabeth's hands slide across the keyboard and she smiles slightly. The deeper voice picking up the lyrics keeps her playing for those few bars and then she ties it up, turning the synthesizer off and standing to face the two men. "Hey guys. Everything's okay." In spite of the more severe look, her expression is relaxed. "I had some news for you both and Richard wants most of our business done in person just in case." Technopaths. In spite of having some amount of encryption from Wireless and Alia, he's still a bit paranoid. "I've lined up some help with the Registration thing. Aric, you said you'd have an answer for me one way or the other today. So if you've decided, I need to put things in motion." She jerks her chin to Jaiden. "If you don't want to use it, I'm going to put Jaiden's stuff through."

Aric sighs softly as he moves to sit down. He looks over at Jaiden as he enters and cocks his head to the side. When he focuses on the question at hand, Aric looks down at the floor and says, "I have thought long and hard on the matter. I think it is best that I am labeled as Non-Evolved. No one would trust me as it is and if I end up in the hospital…I am sure there could be some room for error on their part. I will just play dumb and say nothing has shown it's ability to me. I did not know I had one." He looks up at Liz and says, "What do you think?"

"My turn next, then, since I'm such an odd duck, not being an entire citizen and all." Jaiden grins and offers Aric a hand. "Jaiden Mortlock, at your service sir. Judging from the company we keep, I'm guessing we're both evolved." He looks to Elisabeth. "You're looking rather military, Lizzie-girl. Long day?"

"Once you have paperwork in your hands, it's going to be a matter of public record that you had a fingerstick test done," Elisabeth replies. "You'll have to have a better lie than that. If you get nailed, it's the cop who approved your paperwork's ass on the line. So basically… don't get sent to the hospital for anything, because it will bite all of us in the ass." She smiles at Jaiden. "I'm sending Abby and Aric through first because of the nature of their abilities. Since you're not a citizen, yours is not as urgent, so we'll put yours and another through next week." She moves to scrawl Nash's name and number on a piece of paper. "Call him, make an appointment. Take the application in with you already filled out. He'll sign them and you'll be done."

Aric 's eyes move toward's Jaiden as he says, "Aric Gibbs…yep…evolved." He looks down at the card and sighs, "I will do my best Liz. I would not do anything to harm us or your friend. I would find a doctor who was outside of the hospital if something bad happened. I am sure Cardinal knows someone…" Aric looks upset as he slides the card into his jean pocket.

"No worries, Lizzie. Long as it gets done, the better it is for me." Jaiden grins and leans against the table with the synthesizer, resting the heels of his hand on the edge to act as kind of a counterbalance. "Cardinal knows lots of people. I don't know how deep his roots go, but they're all over the bloody place. Good guy to have on your side.."

"We know a number of someones," Elisabeth replies with a small smile. "And I trust you not to burn my friend or we wouldn't be doing it. If you need us to foot the $100, let me know. That's what the papers will cost us." She looks between them and says to Jaiden finally, "And yes… I just got off work." She pauses and leans back on the table that holds the synthesizer, considering something. "At the risk of sounding arrogant…. between us, Cardinal and I have contacts in pretty much every vigilante group running, almost all of the law enforcement groups that exist in the city, and a number in the actual criminal elements and the Ferry too." She smiles a little, realizing that the guys know very little about any of the leadership of the group much less about one another. Compartmentalization has its place, but they deserve more.

"So take a seat and I'll give you a little background here. Most of it's personal, my own story from my perspective, realize. But … it'll give you a thumbnail of where we came from."

Aric is sitting as he slides off his sandals and whispers, "I don't know much but I have an idea…remember Liz where I have been." He runs a hand through his long locks as the telepath gets comfortable sliding his legs into an Indian style position as he adds, "Granted…this door your opening had the biggest locks."

"Me, I'm in the dark mainly. I know I hang out with a few folk on both sides, and I feel this is the right one, but a little context other than cardinal being the end-all be-all of the world." Jaiden shrugs and gestures. "The floor is yours, Lizzie.

Elisabeth's blue eyes flicker up to Aric as he mentions that he's been in her head, and the blonde has to sort through her thoughts to put them in order. Crossing her arms in an unconsciously defensive posture, she begins. "I've been a cop since I got out of college in 1997, except for two years just after the Midtown Bomb. My mother died in Midtown, and it was the grace of God that my father forgot his briefcase that morning and didn't." Her father who is Redbird Security's legal counsel.

"I can't tell you when I knew about my abilities… I think that it happened on Sept 11, 2001. But I'm missing about ten years of time from about 1991 to 2001. My first clear memory is …. maybe the 12th or 13th of September, helping pick through the rubble. I learned to use it alone, and I found that what I could had some amount of suggestion property to it, so I turned my career toward hostage negotiation. It worked out well. After the Bomb, when we were all outed, I was in a counseling group with a man who became my friend. He told me… about some things that had been done to him by the government. And he scared the shit out of me. So …. I dropped off the force and went lateral entry into education. At Washington Irving High School, where I stayed for two years. And damn near got my ass killed along with a hundred of my kids when the Vanguard hit the school and blamed it on Phoenix."

Aric nods slowly as he listens to Liz's story. He does not move but listens intently.

Jaiden lets out a low whistle at that. "Have you tried to find out what you were doing in those missing years?" He lowers his head slightly. "Answer that later, if you care to, cutie."

There's a faint smile and Elsiabeth addresses that first. It's easier. "Sure," she says quietly. "Far as I can tell, I was just … graduating high school and college, becoming a cop. A good one, if my record is to be believed. Just.. living a normal life. The missing years are because of a gunshot I took last year that blew my brain to bits. The healer couldn't heal what wasn't actually there anymore." The information brings that tension back to her, the shaft of anxiety that she's been carrying for more than a week now. But she moves on.

"I had been approached several times to come back to the force, and when the Vanguard hit the school it was the last straw. My friend…. the one from counseling? I knew he was involved in something underground. I was pretty sure it was Phoenix. And I demanded in. My offer to them was to be their eyes and ears on the force, keep them out of the line of fire where and when I could. And I became a part of Phoenix." She looks up toward the ceiling for a moment. "I remain, so far as I'm aware, a full member of Phoenix though it's mostly defunct now as well as a contact for the Ferry. I tend to keep my distance from the latter for their safety." Her anxiety is still full-bore.

You don't have to be telepathic to know the woman is tense, as Aric sighs, "I might be able to take you back through a glimpse of those years…they have to be hard wired into you somehow Liz. The question is…do you trust me enough to go back in with you by my side trying to sift through it." Aric hmmms softly, "Might be why your scan was so quick…you believe their is little left…I don't know. No one should have to feel lost."

Jaiden glances to Liz. "Wouldn't hurt to try, but it'd be up to you."

Elisabeth hesitates and says, "No, Aric… they're actually not. I'm told based on the damage to my head when I was shot that …" She bites her lip and the source of her anxiety perhaps becomes clearer. "A year ago, we — another member of Phoenix and myself — hit a Humanis First cell. Ambushed them. The reason I keep my distance from the Ferry is so that I cannot give up another safehouse under torture. They massacred people at the one I was forced to reveal just before they quite literally blew two-thirds of my brain matter out onto a cement floor and dumped me in the Hudson." Her voice is tight, and she clenches her jaw a moment.

"Moving on," she says, "I still help where I can, whenever they ask. In the meantime, during the past year my engagements as a member of Phoenix brought me to the attention of the people I now work for. There were a lot of them, and those are really a story for another time. But I, some Phoenix people, Cardinal, some other operatives… we were all taken on a highly classified run to attempt to break the Vanguard's worldwide operation. Between that series of engagements and some things that Richard and I learned while I was a member of Phoenix and he was a solo operator, we began to realize that we had a network of operation that might be enough to thwart what was coming. Or at least help to."

Aric nods slowly as he does not press the issue and falls silent once again to listen.

Jaiden is silent for a moment or two before he nods. "Well…you got better, and you look a hell of a lot better now than you did right after." Trying to look on the bright side, it seems. "And that's when you started up this little company."

"Well, we began actively recruiting into the little group we're calling Endgame a good while back. Redbird is …." Elisabeth grins a little. "Well, I guess it's my way of giving the future the finger. I've already seen or been told at least two versions of my own future. Richard intended it to be just a cover, but …. this was my plan for what I was going to do if and when I ever got booted off the PD. Assuming that I wasn't in jail when I got booted. And I'm determined to make it work as a full-fledged business if I can." It's a lot of work, though. "Ultimately…. what Endgame does is kinda separate. Part of what Richard and I learned in that year was how to take certain precog visions and use them as a roadmap — with a little help from some other people with the same idea — to figure out what events were pivotal to shifting the timeline."

Aric nods slowly, "And my talents will help in making sure the information is real? Or truth?" Aric asks curiously.

"If you can read minds and get any kind of insight, I'd bet that's exactly why you're here. Me…" Jadien grins. "I'm here to do whatever someone tells me to do."

"Your talents in this are twofold, Aric," Elisabeth says. "Partially in the idea that yes we want you to verify that someone's telling the truth — at least the truth as they themselves know it — and making sure that they're not, as an example, attempting to set us up. But also the idea that you may be able to pluck certain information without a target being aware they're giving it. You know, when you tell someone not to think of pink elephants, it's the first thing they think." She smiles slightly. "You'll be very helpful if interrogation becomes an option for us." She slants a look at Jaiden. "And I have a feeling, Jaiden, that you're going to be pretty busy all the way around between us and the Ferry."

Aric nods slowly as he says, "Well…I am here to help as much as I can…make a difference in the world and avoid the 8th as much as I can. I do not wish to lose any good people on the 8th when it comes." Aric's eyes linger on Liz as he tucks a loose strand of hair behind his ear.

I do not wish to fall out of a helicopter over a riot on the 8th if I can help it." Jaiden says with a grimace of his own. "I do not wish to see what I saw in my vision come true in any sense of the word."

"Yeah…. I think that goes for all of us," Elisabeth admits softly. She looks between the men and adds, "Now you know how we got here. The string map," she nods toward it. "That came from a man who has the Evo ability to see probable outcomes. It's what we use to attempt to figure out which situations must be derailed and which ones are more minor. Insofar as doing so is possible. Feel free to study it, and if something strikes you about it, let us know." She pushes off the table, standing upright. "I need to deliver this to one of the safehouses, so…. any other questions?"

"Nah, no questions. You still look good in uniform." Jaiden grins and stands. "Good to meet you too, Aric." And Jaiden does a little wink and a *think* toward Aric saying the same thing.

Aric stands and walks over to the map, "you…me…and a gun later right Liz?" Aric begins to study the map a moment before he says, "I will be here if you need me." Aric smiles as he waves to the two as they depart and the man begins to study the map in detail.

"Yep, I'll be back in an hour," Elisabeth says with a grin. "Lots and lots of gunfire tonight." She'll run her errand first, though.

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