Keeping Pace


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Scene Title Keeping Pace
Synopsis Goodman asks Veronica to make use of her resources to spring a recent prisoner from Institute custody.
Date January 10, 2010

Suresh Center

The Institute can be likened to a well-oiled machine, functional and impersonal. It is every part precise and carefully constructed, but one failure at any of its critical systems and the entire machine begins to break apart at the seams, one mechanism's failure cascading to another's.

To say that Roger Goodman is playing the role of a human monkeywrench may not be that far off of a statement.

When the elevator chimes on arrival to the third floor of the Suresh Center, Goodman is already breaking in quick, long strides to carry himself down the hall. His crooning voice carries a conversation at the same pace, expecting the brunette woman he left behind in the elevator to keep up both intellectually and physically.

"Which brings me to the reason I called you up here this morning. I received a call from Washington, today and the office of Major Sarisa Kershner, you might recognize her name from the FRONTLINE organization and Operation: Apollo." Goodman casts a look over his shoulder towards Veronica, his tall and dark silhouette reflected in the glass wall to his right that views in to one of the command centers in the upstairs of the Suresh Center.

"Kershner was called in to perform a full psychometric analysis of Amid Halebi after your successful apprehension of him earlier this week. The report of that information was passed off to me, and I have yet to forward it to active agents in the field." Goodman pauses at a four-way intersection in the hall, twisting at the waist o look back at Veronica. "In addition to all of the information that Kershner was able to get on Mazdak, she also recovered information on Amid Halebi's daughter, a girl named Lucine. It appears that she was kidnapped by an Israeli member of Mazdak named Gil Ayalah, a high-ranking member of Mazdak."

Dark eyes square on Veronica as Goodman gives a moment to allow her to clear the distance, before turning off into one of the branching halls towards his office. "Halebi had been coerced into helping Mazdak plan what is believed to be a nuclear attack on Washington D.C. Major Kershner believes that elements of a Mazdak cell in Washington were awaiting Halebi's arrival and failure to do so would result in the death of his daughter."

Swiftly breezing down the hall past a few clerks and information analyists, Goodman moves like a man possessed, a man who has not a moment of his new life to spare. "Major Kershner has written off Lucine as a casualty of this conflict and has requested that Halebi be moved to an interrogation facility in Virginia for full telepathic intrusion to clean him out of whatever other information on Mazdak he may possess. The Institute is fighting to have Halebi detained at our central facility in Massachusetts." Stopping at the door to his office, Goodman turns around and looks at Veronica again, intently.

"I'd like to propose a third option," he intones with one brow raised.

"Off the record."

Keeping up is usually easier for Veronica, though she's still just a bit achey from the jolt she took on the trawler from Samson Gray, along with the slam against the wall bruising her entire body as a direct result of that jolt. Still, Sawyer's slow is most people's average, given the woman's running hobby, and she nods now and then to show she's listening. Yes, she remembers Kershner. Yes, she understands that Halebi's daughter is likely to be killed now that her father can't keep his end of his bargain with the Mazdak cell.

Her brows quirk at the suggestion of the third possibility. If Lucine is innocent of terrorism and just being used as a pawn, it's their job — or, it would be if she had a more altruistic view of the organization she works for than the cynical one she holds — to try to find an alternative to keep the woman alive.

"I'm listening," she says.

Opening the glass door to his office — Harper's office — Goodman steps insideand holds the door open long enough for Veronica to slip in after him. When the door closes, Goodman draws the blinds shut with a metallic rattle and steps towards the desk. "Halebi needs to make contact with his cell in D.C. and while I cannont empathize fully with the desires of a man with family, I do understand what it's like to be driven by something. For Amid Halebi, its the desire to keep his daughter safe at any cost."

Sweeping aside paperwork on his desk, Goodman brushes his fingertips across the touch-surface virtual keyboard in the glass top. "The Department of Homeland Security is going to have Halebi transported from Miller Airfield on Staten Island to a facility in Roanoke, Virginia on the 22nd. If he makes it there, there'll be no hope for the survival of his daughter. We have every reason to believe that Lucine is alive, according to Kershner's reports Halebi was in regular video contact with her on a bi-weekly basis before the riots to ensure his cooperation."

Goodman continues one-handedly typing commands into the virtual surface, pulling up satellite imagery and maps. "I will not see this organization allow for the death of that girl. Nor do I feel that Halebi deserves to spend the remainder of his natural life imprisoned in the Commonwealth Institute. I was one of the men who was in charge of the investigation into Ted Sprague, Sawyer, on an administrative level."

Goodman's dark eyes alight to her. "You of all people should know the injustice of an innocent losing their life in the pursuit of justice."

Following him to the office, Veronica takes a place on the opposite side of his desk, crossing her arms while she watches him type and access whatever it is he is looking for, her eyes down on the keyboard until he looks up at her. There's the slightest twitch of her mouth at the mention of the Sprague case, before her eyes lift to meet his.

She swallows. "The man I killed," she says, husky voice flat in intonation. "He was being coerced, too, I'm guessing? Not truly Mazdak." It's not really a question, though she seeks confirmation.

He would have been killed by Samson Gray anyway — or at least that's what she tells herself.

"So what do you need me to do?" It's added before waiting for confirmation on the status of the man she shot — either way, if she can do something good, her time at the Institute isn't in vain.

"I don't know anything about the man you killed, Kershner isn't able to extract information from corpses." Goodman's sentiment earns Veronica a look of and what did we learn today, with a crease of his forehead and a raise of his brows. When he looks back to the flat-panel monitor at his desk, Goodman continues his assessment of the situation.

"Brian Winters was a former agent of the Company, you and he were romantically involved at a point," and to that he does not look up to Veronica. "His name showed up on a list of wanted fugitives when I browsed the DHS database recently, as an associate of a group known as the Ferrymen." Goodman's coal-black eyes alight towards Veronica, brows furrowed still. "I would like you to tap a potential resource to strike at the transport when they go to move Halebi. I'll be able to supply you with travel routes, guard details, prisoner manifests. Everything you'll need to get him out of DHS custody."

Goodman turns the monitor around, showing the black and white photograph of Winters in the DHS database and his public status as a wanted fugitive. "If you can get the Ferrymen to get Halebi out of captivity, he can make contact with his superiors in D.C. Preferably with the intention of working for us in doing so. If you or someone in your contacts can convince Halebi to make contact again with Mazdak, I can authorize a covert assignment overseas with some of our agents to attempt to retrieve Lucine. It'll take time to estimate her location based on the information that was retrieved from Halebi, but we can do it. Just not soon enough if Halebi doesn't make contact with his superiors by the end of the month."

Turning the monitor back around, Goodman breathes in deeply and slowly exhales a sigh. "Can you do this?"

Her eyes drop at that reprimanding look of his, a rose hue infusing her cheeks. But then, Brian's name is being mentioned, and Brian's face is on the screen. Her hand comes up to touch at her shirt collar, to the spot her necklace, her engagement ring, no longer rests. Her eyes close and she presses her lips together.

She gives a slight head shake. "I can try, though I'm not sure that … given their current status in the city, they would be willing to put in the risk." She leaves out the fact that Brian may not want to help her.

"They may be about trying to help those who've been wronged by the government, but I don't know if that extends to anyone in the current climate. And since this would be … off the record, I assume there's nothing I can offer them to make the risk more inviting?" she asks carefully.

"I can ensure that there's a minimal Institute presence when Halebi is moved," Goodman entreats thoughtfully. "No Retrievers, no Evolved agents. I'll make a case that since he's already in containment and being transported to a Non-Institute facility that we can't spare the manpower, which is tangentally true." Goodman's dark eyes sweep aside, considering the screen nearby.

"Anything more would reveal my hand too much. But I can supply you with information on the delivery at the very least. If nothing else, it will lower the risk of the operation to them. If you know of anyone else who would be willing to break Halebi out, I'm not going to question your judgment. All I ask is that whoever you send, try to have them keep casualties to a minimum. These are honest men and women doing this transport, people with families. Halrebi is likely to be transported with two or three others, I'll try to get the manifest of prisoners a week in advance."

Dark eyes alight to the door behind Veronica, in paranoia, then back to the agent. "I need you to keep this to yourself. If anyone in the Institute found out what we were doing, they wouldn't hesitate to kill us. I know this is an enormous risk to ask you to take, but I don't feel that justice has been served by what we did here."

Goodman's eyes narrow and then divert down to his desk. "I won't have another Ted Sprague on my conscience."

She nods, teeth coming down on her lower lip for a moment thoughtfully. "Is there," she begins, eyes narrowing as she tips her head up to meet his gaze, "anyone we can have transported with him, that would … make them more willing to take the risk? People we know they care about — people who were taken on the 8th from the raids on their people? It might make them more willing to take the chance, to spare their people when their resources are thin."

Her eyes drop and she reaches to touch a stapler on his desk — something for idle hands to do. "Do you want me to go with them, or just get them the intel and let them handle it?" is finally asked.

"Unfortunately I don't have the authority to call for a transfer like that, especially to a non-Institute facility. That would have to come from higher up on the command structure and would raise too many red flags. If they have a concession that they would like considered that I haven't thought of myself, I would be willing to entertain it, but only in so much as that it does not dramatically impact the time table we're on. Halebi needs to be in D.C. by the end of the month."

Silent for a time, Goodman traces his fingers over the virtual surface on his desk, then slowly looks up to Veronica. "You cannot risk being seen or linked to the incident. What we're planning here could bring DHS down on our heads as well if we're not careful. I'm only asking you to be an intermediary. Besides…" Goodman's brows furrow intently. "I'm going to need you to help lead up the team that goes overseas to rescue Halebi's daughter from Mazdak."


There's a blink at that news flash, but Veronica nods. "I figured as much on the transport, but … well, it's probably a selling point, if I'm not there," she says, a small amount of wry humor at her own expense tingeing the words.

"I'll start with Winters. If not him — my other resource would likely be Richard Cardinal, but I'm not sure if you'd prefer I keep away from that option, for whatever reason?" she asks, tipping her head. "He knows that I'm here and why I'm here, as does Chesterfield. In case you weren't aware." Apparently she's going all in, betting on Roger Goodman.

There's ignorance in Goodman's expression at the name Cardinal, not in that he doesn't know who the man is, but that he doesn't know who the man becomes. "If the CEO of Redbird Security Solutions is willing to put himself in a risk scenario, I see no reason not to entertain any options we have available to ourselves. As long as you feel that he's trustworthy, I'll trust your judgment. If there is anything that they would like to negotiate with, I'll see what I can do. I understand if there may be some skepticism in their ranks, and I entrust you with convincing them that I mean no harm."

Steeling himself to the gravity of the situation, Goodman taps one key on the virtual surface of his desk, putting his computer to sleep. "You have two weeks to organize this. If I were you I'd get it done in a week so that you can save the second half for planning."

"I'll start immediately." He asked for a woman of convictions, and once, in another lifetime, she had come to his office in another part of this city, the go-to girl from California, ready to take on the world. There's a little of that readiness, that eagerness, in her answer — if only because she's grasping at the straws of things she can believe in, things she can do to make this world a better place.

At least for Lucine and Amid Halebi.

The fact that she has to forsake her own broken heart to do so — it's just another casualty in the war.

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