Making Cents


devon5_icon.gif avi_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title Making Cents
Synopsis Devon brings an interesting find to Wolfhound command.
Date October 5, 2020

The Bastion

to a.epstein, h.dunsimi
mtg requested @1630, conf room
by d.clendaniel

Conference Room

October 5, 2020

4:23 pm

Two thin packets of less than ten sheets of paper, identical in their content from the staple in the upper left corner, a header of broken watch in the upper right corner, wait at the head of the table. A third, matching the other two, sits in front of Devon Clendaniel who's taken possession of his customary place at the conference table. He's focused on his phone while he waits.

It’s obviously an informal thing, since the packets aren't in neat folders, there's no PowerPoint on the screen. And Dev isn't dressed in the more customary ready-to-move-out garb. He's in jeans and a long sleeve henley. There isn't even a bottle of the best stuff or glasses on the table, so it really couldn't be that serious.

Avi’s black eye is looking a little less gnarly this morning. He can see out of it now, and the red parts have turned to a lovely shade of magenta and violet. Cradling a coffee cup in one hand, Avi looks down at the table, then over to Devon. “I swear to fucking god if this is Lucille’s stupid idea about how we should buy a tank…”

He grumbles to himself, slowly easing down into a seat with a grunt of effort. It’s been a long couple of weeks, punctuated by a couple of blows to the head and a lot of lost sleep. Avi slides his tongue over his teeth and looks to the doorway, then back to Devon in awkward anticipation. “Because we can’t afford a good tank.”

"Not even a bad one." Huruma's version of I heard that from out of the hall before she gets to the door. She closes it behind her, eyes moving between Devon and Avi, then over the table as she slides into a chair. One hand takes up the packet of paper as she does so, skimming the front page. This is new.

"This does not look like a tank requisition, if that helps." The empath arches both brows, leaning back and giving Avi a tiny shit-eating smile.

Dev looks up from his phone when Avi steps into the conference room. His expression is a practice in neutrality right up until the grousing begins.

“It's not.” The lilt in his tone sets his answer into more of a question. There's an idea being floated that Wolfhound needs a tank? He frowns, momentarily confused to the point that he angles a questioning look to Huruma. A tank, really?

The phone is set aside and his now empty hands tuck into his arms across his chest as he leans back. “I'm pretty sure we don't need a tank. Actually.” Devon motions to the packet with his chin. “That's a copy of an email I found. It was sent to Hana, and it seems like SESA wanted to build a contract with us, but she never answered.”

Avi’s brows crease together. “You went into Hana’s email?” He doesn’t sound upset, more impressed that Devon risked that. Even now he half-expects her to drop from the ceiling and knock him unconscious for reading what he has in hand.

SUBJECT: Broken Watch Protocol Contract
FROM: Kristopher Voss (vog.ases|ssovk#vog.ases|ssovk)
DATE: January 26, 2019; 2:48 PM
TO: hgitelman@localhost

Major Gitelman,

I hope this email finds you well. This is my third attempt to contact you regarding the Broken Watch protocol. SESA is still interested in hiring Wolfhound's services with regards to this classified program. We would like to speak with you in more detail on this matter in the near future.

Due to the agency's relationship with your peer, Avi Epstein, we would prefer not to reach out to him directly or have his direct involvement. I'm certain you understand, given the severity of the situation on Liberty Island several years ago. If I do not hear back from you I will assume you are not interested in pursuing the contract at this time.

Best Regards,

Kristopher Voss
Deputy-Director SESA New York

Avi makes a noise in the back of his throat. “SESA’s still sore about the Liberty Island thing,” he mumbles, setting the paperwork down. “D’you find out what the fuck Voss wanted? What this actually is?

In seriousness, when she starts reading, Huruma goes back to something of professionalism; she relaxes into the seat and reads over the email that Devon has so helpfully revealed. It certainly doesn't look familiar. Voss, though, of course he is.

"Protocol?" She questions- - thinks- - out loud. The word itself feels more important than not. Huruma's eyes hover on a few pieces of the packet. "Of course they're still sore. That was one hell of a- -"

She catches herself, fortunately, though not before clearing her throat and sitting up in the chair. Anyway. "We go and ask."

“We don’t know what it is yet,” Devon admits. “I thought you'd want to know first. It… I think it had to do with something that came up with Rue’s arrest.” The exact details are lacking, like viewing through a fog. He should know, and more frustrating he knows he should know. “I wrote it down with a bunch of notes from then. And I don't remember why.”

A hand lifts and rubs at the side of his head, eyebrows raise in resignation about his lack of answers. “I'm still trying to piece it all together. But Broken Watch sounds like something…” Important, for lack of a better word. Dev nods in agreement with Huruma’s suggestion. “If it's still active, or… I mean it's a shot at some income, right? Maybe they'll take Hana’s resigning into consideration.” He leans forward, resting his arms on the edge of the desk. “And even if Voss says we're too late, we're not any worse off for trying.”

Avi makes a noise in the back of his throat, scrubs one hand over his mouth and props himself up on one elbow at the table. He looks over to Huruma with that look he gets when one of their subordinates comes up with a good idea that he doesn’t like, but knows he needs to follow through with anyway.

“I guess we could shake that tree.” Avi admits reluctantly. “Maybe Voss’ tune’s changed after we did such a bang-up job in Rochester with Shedda Dinu?”

She catches the look from Avi with a passing huff. Of course.

Bang up is one way to say it. It didn't go off without a hitch, and people got pretty roughed up in the process. Still, they got it done. Something Devon says early seems to stick.

"A broken clock is right twice a day?" Huruma seems to be interested in the content, though not for her apparent interpretation. "This is dated last year. Why do you think something to do with this came up with her arrest? Something to do with this doppelganger?"

Devon’s first reaction is to shrug. “I…” He frowns slightly, first looking between Avi and Huruma. Then, slowly, turns his attention down to his untouched packet. Why would this have come up while he was looking into Rue’s case? What was he looking for?

No,” Rhys shouts into the phone, “I said it’s not her. It’s Bluthner.” Rhys gasps breathlessly, a line of blood running out of his nose and across his upper lip, his right eye bloodshot. “ — something’s wrong.”

Cesar exhales a steadying breath as well to ward off the urge to curse what revelations have upended the assignment. “Tell Epstein the clock starts when she sets foot at the fort, and he and Harrison’s got 48 hours.”

He raises a hand off the table to rub his forehead, then turns the motion into raking fingers through his hair. “Something went sideways,” he begins slowly.

Rhys shouts into the phone. “I said it’s not her!” One sharp exhale of breath later, Rhys wobbles to the side and nearly falls over were it not for Cesar nearby. “It’s Bluthner,” Rhys says, breathlessly, arrest not possible…”

Devon looks up at Avi and Huruma, eyes widened with an uneasiness. “Broken watch in effect.” “…broken watch in effect.” “Rhys Bluthner said it, the day Rue was arrested.”

None of what Devon said puts Avi at ease. He shoots a side-long look to Huruma, then back to Devon. There’s a bit of distress in Avi, a haunted chill when Devon accurately recalls things Avi knows he wasn’t physically present for. Instead, he nods and swallows tensely and looks back to Huruma again for recognition of the term, finding none.

“Sounds like an operation code,” Avi reluctantly opines. “This might have something to do with the shapeshifter thing or whatever the fuck was going on there.” He looks down at the table, silent for a moment. “Broken watch,” Avi reiterates. “Why the fuck does that sound familiar?”

Despite Avi's chills and Devon's recall, Huruma doesn't appear put off by the latter. She is deep in reading otherwise, mouth turned down. Searching for an answer only gets perplexion, similarly wanting for more.

"Can't say. It does, though. And for some reason, Hana was privy to it." Huruma presses her tongue against her teeth. "If Voss doesn’t spit it out, sounds like we have a backup choice in Bluthner, should we pursue this."

“I don’t know.” Devon’s voice sounds distracted, put off by the clarity and the disjointed nature of the event. His eyes close, then reopen again following an instinctual turn to the unused screen. “There was a lot happening outside. The press…”

Quentin Frady doubles over in the wake of Rue’s escort, holding his foot and cursing. “No,” Rhys shots into the phone, “I said it’s not her.” News vans from WRGB and WMHT in Albany are parked across the street. Reporters with television cameras record Rue’s emergence from the Bastion. Voices from print-media reporters on scene blur into a haze of shouted questions. “Have me arrested,” Rue taunts before turning to suanter the rest of the way toward the van. Rhys looks up with a concerned expression to Cesar, barely able to stand up on his own. “It was a trap. We have a white Rabbit Protocol in effect.

“The press was mad for the story,” he says suddenly, turning to Avi and Huruma. He’s sure his other self had reported as much, but for him is the thrill of reading a book a second time and discovering small details he’d missed before.

Standing, chair wheeling backward when bumped by the straightening of his legs, Devon points at the screen. “They went crazy over the scandal. It was loud… Rhys was still talking to someone. Maybe our security footage caught it.”

“If we’d installed cameras in the lobby or outside,” Avi notes with a slow shake of his head, “which we hadn’t. We barely had any inside. Hell, we didn’t even have toilets installed yet.”

Sliding his tongue against the inside of his cheek, Avi looks down to the paperwork in front of him for lack of anything else he feels comfortable focusing on. “So we go shake Voss’ cage, figure out what the fuck he wanted Hana for. Hope he doesn’t throw us out on our ass.”

"Neighbors might." Huruma taps her fingers on the arm of her chair, mouth in a small twist. "I did see the press afterwards- - it was definitely maxed out on tabloid garbage. And that man behind the Safe Zone paper went wild."

Huruma does, in fact, keep up with the Siren. It's news, even if- - influenced by paranoia, et cetera. Just read between the lines. "Best to be all official and schedule something. As tempting as dropping in sounds."

The reminder of how much of a fixer-upper the Bastion was takes some of wind from Devon’s sails. He'd forgotten, Wolfhound had only operated from the building for a year and change; and then without the payouts of bounty hunting. He pulls his chair back to the table and sits, murmuring an apology.

He nods to Huruma’s suggestion, maybe one of the television reports has some archived footage. It's something to look into. For now, “Meeting with Voss. I can reach out, try to set up a meeting for you two?”

Avi picks at something stuck between his molars with his tongue, still looking at the documents on the table. “Yeah…” he says quietly, “I guess if anyone can keep him from hitting me in the head with a baton it’s probably Huruma.”

After another moment, Avi shakes his head and pushes his chair out to stand. “Make the call sooner, rather’n later. Last thing I want to do is have this rattling around in my head for a fucking month while I’m trying to focus here.”

"It wouldn't be unprecedented." Huruma says dully, without looking up.

She does look up when Avi stands, eyes narrowed somewhat when she assesses, and it passes when the empath returns to Devon. "I trust your schedule is free." As far as Huruma is concerned, Devon has done the work and knows the work. They can't be certain they'll ask the right things.

“I'll put in the call when we're done here,” Devon says, nodding. The sooner the better, and even if offices are closed for the day a message will still get through. He picks up his phone to make a note for himself, but the action halts on Huruma’s question.

He makes a noise of pause in his throat, glances to Avi for the older man’s reaction, then returns to Huruma. “Yeah, it's pretty open,” he replies slowly.

“Do it.” Avi says flatly as he pushes up to stand, angling a brief look at Huruma before he excuses himself around the table. But as Avi reaches the doorway, he pauses and looks back at Devon. There’s a moment of thoughtfulness, followed by Avi saying something as rare as gold:

“Smart thinking. This is really good.”


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