Missing The Forest For The Trees


elisabeth2_icon.gif felix2_icon.gif francois_icon.gif graeme2_icon.gif harmony_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

with cameos by

elle_icon.gif and jaiden_icon.gif

Scene Title Missing The Forest For The Trees
Synopsis A meeting to put a few pieces of information into Endgame members' hands, and something very important gets overlooked.
Date May 13, 2011

Skinny Brickfront, Endgame Safehouse

It's not like it was a formal 'meeting' in a board room or something. Elisabeth sent word along the grapevine — and whoever could come was more than welcome. In spite of the fact that the group living in the skinny brickfront is using camp stoves to cook on, it came out to be a decent meal at least. Cash-wise, the situation is not in any way desperate and so Elisabeth did a tiny splurge — or at least it seems ridiculously decadent. It's actually pretty darn easy and not hugely expensive to make good food if you go about it right. She used canned tomatoes instead of real ones, dried herbs instead of fresh. She didn't skip on the cream or the tortellini, though. The vodka cream sauce came out quite tasty if she does say so herself. And the salad greens and the strawberries and blueberries that Jaiden brought in for shortcake dessert on a store-bought bundt cake came from one of the local gardens that is always selling their wares in the park. So it was pretty tasty. All in all, Liz expects people to wander in and out as they're able, so a long plank is set against the wall buffet style for people to help themselves as they see fit.

Once at least some of the group has arrived and eaten their fill amid casual conversation, Elisabeth brings up the topics at hand. "So… much as I hate to move to business, I figured it might go over better once everyone'd eaten," she says quietly. There are no tables and chairs in here, everyone's got a perch or a patch of floor somewhere. "I realize it seems as if we've been laying very low since the night Redbird exploded. Which is true in most respects but not for the reasons you may think. Things are going on behind the scenes and it's time to fill everyone in."

Graeme's been leaning against a wall, this being the first time that he's actually been to the safehouse. Standing for long periods of time is easy enough as it goes, and it was also easy enough to let his boss know that he was going to take the night off of work in order to attend to personal matters. Which he is, though perhaps not in the way that Melissa might have expected, but in the wake of some things at the bookstore that needed Aric's attention, Graeme is here for the both of them.

There's a plate of food balanced on his left hand, still, mostly empty but actually empty of the second helping of food once everyone else had eaten. And as long as he made sure that he wasn't taking the last of the food or any of those other things that happen sometimes when you have a metabolism several times normal. He looks across the room at Liz, a small nod given in acknowledgment.

She is what, 5 months along now? And looking like she is further than that to be honest. Harmony has achieved the period to where she has that radiant glow… No, not radioactive, but that look of motherhood, who has so far gone through the more severe changes to her body, cusping closer to the eventual birth, more than past the halfway point. She was debating coming to the meeting, not having left her apartment so much lately as to go get the mail, or sneak off to the store. She let paranoia get to her, and it put her behind the screen of a laptop, Tweeting and playing Facebook apps inbetween the online classes is taking. On the side, Harmony has been writing songs, as she has quite a bit to write about now a days.

Her presence is all thanks to a special someone who convinced her that she is no safer inside her place than she is walking around. She isn't helpless, and she isn't stupid. Sure she's been irresponsible before, but not stupid. She slips in, trying not to be too noticed like the swollen sow she feels like right now. Her hair done well in it's usual curls, and her clothes sensible maternity. She manages the skirt she wears well, and she looks like she is at least putting in an effort to look presentable daily, which is good.

"I'm not hungry…" she remarks when the food is brought up. So why, not a 10 seconds later is she filling up her plate with what she can get?

For her part, the safehouse's resident paranoiac has staked out a corner, where Ygraine sits cross-legged on a ground mat. A plate supports a slice of cake, but the hands beneath it rest in her lap. Only the shoulder bared by her broad-necked sweater accompanies the pallor of her face in allevating the sombre tone of the appearance she presents to the others in the room.

It's rude, to not touch the food. Ruder still to touch the food and then not eat it, so Francois has gone for the former, nursing only a glass of water and a couple of pills for his headache downed out of sight and in a corridor. He's back in the room by now — not unapproachable, polite and warm to those who've spoken to him or glanced his way, but he keeps to himself. Seated on the ground seeing as the place lacks chairs, elbows planted on his knees and glass of water clamped between two hands, his head is bowed by the time Elisabeth speaks, and it takes him a second to look up attentive, warm under the collar and eyes sleepy. Walking through a mild early evening had been fine.

The room feels overly warm, however. He makes an effort, then, to stand, and rest back against the wall, quiet and attentive and dressed informally in denim and cotton.

Elisabeth looks around the group. "First… Following the explosion at Redbird, I know I told all of you Richard had gone to ground. Which is what he was supposed to be doing. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a twist to it that I learned shortly after. Richard's going to be incommunicado for the long term. Possibly permanently. He was evacuated by an ally after an attack on him personally, and the person's power is… similar to Hiro Nakamura's, but not identical. I don't know where, or even at this point when, Richard is. Or if or when he'll turn up. So… that said, he is alive, he is okay, and we're going to keep on with what we're doing while he's doing … whatever it is. To that end… I have a couple of things that are already in motion, and I'd like to hear ideas from the rest of you or feedback as we get into it."

She lets that sink in before she goes on.

There is a very faint wince of sympathy on Graeme's face as Elisabeth speaks. Time travel, again. It's not pleasant news to hear, though it's not like Graeme ever truly liked Cardinal to start with. But Elisabeth is his friend, and so he nods, picking up another piece of pasta thoughtfully on his fork, but not eating it.

As one of those who was there for the discovery of the aftermath of Cardinal's last-moment rescue, Ygraine shoots Elisabeth a distinctly sympathetic look. "Myself, I've been working on finding us some alternative accommodation. If people feel that they can help with checking out or setting up some of the options I've got, talk to me or Liz. But grand options for saving the world, I'm kind of short on. I've got a music project that is supposed to be moving on, but that's been true since last year and I'm yet to see much from it."

Wwww-hat? This news, it doesn't strike Harmony very well. She was quietly sitting while chewing down a bit of food when Liz dropped the bombshell that Cardinal probably coming back. Next comes the choking, as what she had in her mouth gets lodged in her wind pipe a little, not enough to have her gacking for air, but enough to send her into a fit of uncontrollable coughing. Harmony coughs and coughs and coughs and coughs, a fist raising to beat the top of her chest a bit, her eyes watering and her face looking all out uncomfortable. A good mask for what she is really feeling. "Excuse me.." she squeaks, holding up a finger and scooting out of her chair quickly, jogging off to the side and around the corner not too far away.

It is here that she loses a bit of control of her emotions, not wanting to do it in front of everyone, but man.. P-permanently? This can not be happening. It leaves Harmony breathing heavily, controlled breaths like she learned to do in her online breathing class. It doesn't stop her from shedding light. She hasn't done this in a while now, the last time actually being with Richard. Harmony radiates, not heat, but bright light which pours from around the corner where she stands. Her hand cupped over her mouth in horror, and to keep herself from wretching and losing what she ate. Give her a moment…

Francois' head tips a little to the side at the news and circumstances of Cardinal's vacation, unfocusing as his thoughts go inward, a trace of realisation setting his jaw. But maybe he deems this not to be the time to say it, because he keeps quiet, taking a long sip of ice water instead — which is around when Harmony is making her exit, and maybe he should have said something after all. Or perhaps it was, in fact, evidently, the right choice. His glance to her departure is lazy, his attention steering back to Elisabeth equally so.

Elisabeth winces as she realizes that perhaps being quite that blunt was not the way to drop that on Harmony. She should have told her earlier. Reaching up to rub her forehead, she keeps an ear on the pregnant woman but continues with the information she has to impart. "The person who helped him make his escape is one of a group — and I don't have a lot of details up to and including how many there are total — of time travelers coming from the year 2040." She looks around at the group of people who've thrown their lot in with her. "They are the children of those of us fighting. Some of them Ferry, some… some are our own. From what I can gather anyone who has a child in the present time has likely been approached by their offspring by now. So if you've not been spoken to, I'd say at the moment that you're in the clear." Her tone is quiet. "They will make their identities known as they see fit, but I thought you all needed to know that it was happening because there may be a point where someone you don't know comes into the safehouse, and you should not shoot first and ask questions later. If you shoot my son, we will have serious issues." The last is a half-joking, but only half. "They are here…. because what's coming at us is bad, folks. Real bad. The way I see it, they know enough about time travel 30 years from now to know how bad an idea it is to mess with the past. And they took the chance on obliterating their own existances to come back here and help us have a better future. They are fighting this battle with us. And in the end, we need to keep fighting it for them."

The fugitive life has not agreed with Felix Ivanov at all. He's lost the sleek and self-satisfied look he had as a member of FRONTLINE, replaced by something a bit more ragged. He's thin to the point of gauntness, ever more like one of those ribby and nervous sighthounds they breed back home in the Motherland; the skin of his face is taut over the stark bones beneath. The military haircut has grown out into a short and even buzz, and he's dressed in the plainest of clothes. The blue eyes have a febrile glitter. But he slips in silently enough, and stands listening in the rear of the room. For once he doesn't zero in on the food.

From where Graeme stands, his eyes flick over to Felix, taking a few steps over to silently greet the Russian, small lines of worry and concern etching onto his face, before looking back over at Liz, leaning against the nearby wall once again. Elisabeth's good at the speeches thing, and so all that Graeme manages, hand reaching to check that the gun holstered at his back underneath the sweater is there, is to give a bit of a grin. "Right, questions first."

"I can confirm that at least some of them know they are changing things, and agonise over it", Ygraine puts in softly, her good hand emerging from beneath the plate to cup her still-recovering bicep. "But that's also good news. It's confirmation that things can be diverted from the course of events they are seeking to change. Some of the alterations are a great deal less than pleasant for those of us who go through them, but the goal appears to be wholly worthwhile, from everything I've seen or heard. So even though their changes seem to have triggered little things like me being shot, I'm supportive of them."

"I have— "

Francois' voice grates like gravel out his throat, raw sounding, a physical thing as opposed to emotion — emotionally, he is just irritated. Clearing his throat comes up wet, chest-deep coughs into his wrist that build upon each other in a series, hand coming to press against his chest as if to settle whatever's going on in there. He starts again, after a beat. "I have been approached also. Not mine, exactly. Teo's." He hesitates against saying anything more — those who know enough about Laudani's personal life may be able to piece it together, but otherwise, Walter exists in this time and it seems careless to identify the infant into a room.

Even one of trusted allies. "I think they're connected to the dreams of the future that some of us have received." He deals a glance then, towards where Felix has entered in, weary recognition and not quite able to summon up the energy to greet the man he remembers as surly and pessimistic back in Russia, but it's not an unfriendly look. Curious, at worst, before fading out again.

Fel remains surly and pessimistic. There was only a brief flowering of optimism, now that bred in the bone fatalism is right back in place. He nods to Francois silently, offers Graeme a jerk of the chin. The mention of at least one iteration of Laudani doesn't make him any happier, though. His eyes narrow a little, grimly. But he has no questions, at least for now.

She gets it under control. The coughing initially, and continues to work on everything else. Harmony gives a few more hacks and then makes a sound of clearing her throat vigorously. The coughing stops, and she goes to fanning herself with her hand, trying to cool down her rampant emotions. A few deep breaths and a twist of her face as she shuffles through everything she is feeling about this situation at once.

'MOTHER FUCKER' is what she wants to scream out in frustration. Like something just fell down from the closet and konked her on the head. Another part of her wants to cry. A third wants to start running and keep going for.. god knows how long. But she brings a tightens fist to her lips. So tight that her arm is shaking, and she closes her eyes, inhaling hard through her nostrils. Her breath is released long and slow. After that, she is the ocean.. the storm passing momentarily and she regains composure.

Harmony returns, stoic and solemn and silent as she rejoins the group, taking her seat once again. Her hands fold over the swell of her stomach, resting against her unborn children in a gesture of comfort to them that probably only makes sense in her head.

"Nate and I have room." she says cooly. "The apartment is pretty big, and I'm sure I can sneak people in, or anything else someone might need. The accommodations are a bit better. Also.. what can I do to um.. help?"

Though she doesn't feel qualified to answer Harmony, Ygraine does try to catch Francois's gaze. "They are. I… my not-yet-adopted daughter apologised to me, if the dream-visions were upsetting. She hoped that I didn't object, and was worried that they might have been hurting people, I think. I don't believe she was personally responsible for them, and I don't have a clue who is, but the… the efforts of the future children and the visions seem to be intended to lead to the same results."

"As I've told Liz," Graeme says, "I have some resources. Enough to help supply and outfit places, should that come up." Then he leans against the wall some more. He's been providing a great deal of supplies and resources for the Endgame safehouse, but it's something he prefers to make a small thing of. "Setting stuff up and checking out options is something I can do."

Elisabeth nods to the additional feedback from the people who speak up. Her blue eyes flicker up to Harmony, concern clear in her gaze as well as apology. She hadn't meant to drop it like that on the other woman — she just… has been busy dealing with her own fears and heartache to really think ahead on that one. "That brings me to what we're doing now," she says. Her voice is soft but it carries just fine as her blue eyes fall on Francois with his information. Ygraine's acknowledgement and addition makes her nod. "I don't know if what they're giving us is intended to … just warn us. Or give us something to work with. Or…. They're being very closed mouth about their plans. And honestly that's the part that I want all of your feedback on — because I have a half-formed plan that … I don't know if it's worth doing. So I would like your thoughts on whether to sit tight or to move forward."

She pauses. "I've spent the past several weeks compiling every bit of physical data that we've ever had at our fingertips on Humanis First, the Institute, and the government's knowledge of and actions with regard to Evos starting from the 1960s and moving foward. It's a lot more than you might think, we just didn't think anyone would listen. And I think it's a relatively safe assumption to make that this was not an avenue that the alternate version of Richard Cardinal attempted to make, because as most of you know, getting information out of that man can be like pulling teeth with a chisel and string." Her tone is wry. "In addition, in the timeline that our children are coming from… Endgame was different. I was dead. Some of you were no longer assisting. Other things went on." Her gaze goes over all of them.

"We are one of the wild cards that can change everything. In an alternate future that was a lot brighter than the one we're facing… 14 people died on May 18, 2011. They were called the Columbia 14. They were Evos. And martyrs. Their deaths, along with other actions, turned the tide against Humanis First. And I think it's possible we're in a position to at least start the ball rolling in that direction again. Nature abhors a vaccuum. She's a bitch and she wants her way. And maybe, just maybe, between all of us we can steer her back to the other path a little. A brighter world."

"Is this going to still need martyrs?" comes the dry voice, Brooklyn accent showing through at the seams. Like Felix might stop on the way home to pick them up at the corner store. No, he's not volunteering.

There's a midpoint in that spiel wherein Francois switches off, manifests as the click of his drinking glass set down on the nearest surface and a small breath in as if short of air. There's a lot of importance floating around the room, and trying to keep track of any of it is out of the question by the time warmth is rushing up the column of his neck. Through the sparse little group, he moves for out, with the kind of demeanor of someone simply taking a cigarette or bathroom break, apologetic and understated.

Coughs rattle in his throat by the time he's at the door, headed for the cooler air of night. If he comes back, it'll be when he cools down and the room isn't beginning to spin.

"Let's not have anyone plan on being martyred", Ygraine puts in, tone dry. "But the timelines do seem to have what you might consider tipping points. Critical times and locations at which things can change. Drawing inspiration from other lines doesn't seem a bad idea to me. Myself, I'm supportive of the idea of spreading information. It's something that the administration has shown itself to be actively frightened of, in the past - with things like its response to the New York Times's piece on Moab. If we can get credible information out there, en masse, and in a format that can't be shut down…."

Graeme looks up at Elisabeth, then over at Felix as the Russian comments. The look he's giving is pretty clear: 'don't you dare volunteer'. But then Graeme goes silent for a while, burying emotions behind a blank mask until his opinion of the plan Liz laid out comes, soft drawl. "It could work. Though I may need to reserve the opportunity to step a little back from what you'd asked of me. Your media contact is my cousin, or something." Once more, the entire surprise family is throwing Graeme, a little. Liz and Felix might recognise the insecurity from the last time. "But it's much better than martyrs."

Francois's exit brings a frown to Elisabeth's face. Something doesn't look right about it, and there will come a point later tonight when she is kicking herself. When the light will dawn and horror will take over at the details she missed. Because she should have seen them. Should have realized what she was seeing, it's just nowhere on her radar right now. Her brain is at this moment selfishly absorbed in the actions she's been undertaking herself lately — it will be the one last attempt to follow through with the information she has in her hands, to not simply drop the whole thing in the trash, which might be a smarter move she sometimes thinks.

"I think we've already got one — without having to do a damn thing for it. Alia and I've downloaded every bit of intel that we have in our possession to a media source. He's willing to take it and run with it… if he can be kept out of mutant Gitmo when he does it. Someone who has contacts in the international and West Coast media industries has stepped up and offered his assistance in putting the documentary-slash-expose together. Graeme, you're going to become the man's assistant. Both to help with the video and to keep tabs on the situation. And I'm planning on shamelessly using the disappearance of Richard Cardinal to make him the martyr for this cause if I can. The idea is still in planning stages… but the jist of it is this: The government has never had a damn thing on Richard except for subversion of the Linderman Act. He's an orphan, raised by nuns, and kicked out on the streets at eighteen. He has a petty crime rap sheet as long as my arm, but nothing violent and nothing major. And he was given a presidential pardon for the classified mission to Antarctica last year. After nearly giving his life to save the bloody world, he went on to build Redbird. Which has done nothing but attempt to protect all the denizens of this city, losing teams to Humanis First in the Dome and becoming a target because of their visible presence and lack of discrimination. If we can spin it at this point that Cardinal is presumed dead in the wake of Humanis First blowing up the Redbird Building…. we might be able to start the tide turning. I'll be straight. It may get us nothing at all. But… between the information we can release about what the government knows and HAS known all along, what they've done to further the cause of panic and hate against Evos, and having a martyr that Joe Average can relate to?"

Elisabeth looks at all of them and says softly, "It's all the marbles. It works or it doesn't. If it doesn't…. I don't honestly believe we're any worse off. And it just becomes about survival. About living. I don't know what else to do anymore, folks."

Elle hasn't been staying in the safehouse. Instead, she's been hiding away with Warren, in an undisclosed location. A location she's reluctant to reveal to anyone. And she's been staying underground quite well, save for that one trip out to the charity auction, and her subsequent trip out to the theme park in Connecticut with Graeme.

That one was somewhat embarassing, but now, it's a bit more of a game to her. She knows he's gay, and that he's dating Aric…but that sadly brought the little cat in her out. Now, she's wondering how many times she can kiss the gay guy before he gets mad at her. That'll be an experience best saved for later, though.

The tiny blonde, dressed in a hoodie that covers her shock of blonde hair, and a pair of comfortable jeans, peeks her head in, pulling the hoodie back and setting the sunglasses atop her head, brows raised. Making sure to avoid drawing too much attention to herself, Elle slips in, pressing her back up against the wall to quietly listen to what is being said.

Fel nods. "Well, we don't have the resources to stage full-scale armed insurrection," he opines, still with his arms crossed. Elle gets a narrow-eyed look, but….she's here. That's voucher enough. "Or do we?" he asks, after a moment, tone suddenly exaggeratedly sugary.

As Liz talks of making Cardinal the martyr in the situation, there is a jump in Harmony's face. She just sorta stuck the bamboo under her fingernails a but harder. She just said that he isn't dead, yet.. she's wanting to say he is? Sure, Harmony understands the logic behind it, but in some weird way, it just seems like it's making it a reality. Putting out bad karma into the universe, and having Richard turn up dead. She was going to speak and say something, but instead she lifts her hand up to cover her mouth, looking at Liz like she just squatted in the corner and did her business. "There's got to be another way.." Harmony looks from left to right at those present, hoping they can say something ingenious. "I'm good for destruction, that's about all I can think of. I don't think I'd risk it right now, but I can blow shit up. I mean, we don't want another Midtown disaster, but.. I think I've prettymuch got it under more control than that."

"Not quite that many resources," Graeme says, matching Felix's tone with a wry grin. Perhaps a little flamboyant. Just enough to maybe push Elle a little bit. "It should have a damn chance of working. We can do this." There's more confidence in his voice than he truly feels, but it's an awful good front.

Then he looks back at Felix, a decided grin on his face. "But for you…" the words trail off. There's no huge secret of the feelings, but it's definitely intended in the spirit of fun. And maybe as an attempt to get the Russian to smile.

Elisabeth looks between them and says softly, "I'm not any happier than you are, Harmony. Do you think I want to be sitting here wondering if he's ever coming home?" Her tone is level. She's done her crying over this — it hasn't gotten her anything. "It's killing me." She pushes to her feet. "But Richard is the first one to put personal issues aside for the job at hand. If you guys don't think it's a good idea, that's fine. I'm going to give you some time to talk among yourselves. It's the only idea I've got about what can be done to put the information out there. I have two technopaths," she hopes — assuming Wireless gets her ability back, "who might be able to make it uninterruptible when it goes live. I'll entertain your notions about what other things could be done. You're welcome to weigh the pros and cons, and Jaiden will keep a running tally of people's thoughts. I will consider anything you say. But know this much… in the end, Richard is the one who actually put this plan into motion. We just didn't have a martyr for it when he was trying."

She looks between them. "For what it's worth to the lot of you, I've shared his bed and his life for over two years, I watched him explode into a mushroom cloud of darkness and shred himself to try to make things better. I think he'd want this — I think he'd be fine with what I intend to do." She looks at Harmony and says softly, "I'm sorry I broke the news like that. I'll come see you tomorrow, okay?"

Liz glances at Jaiden and slips out of the room to give the group the chance to debate in privacy, making a point of not listening.

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