Natural Talents


emerson_icon.gif ingrid_icon.gif joshua_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Natural Talents
Synopsis Everyone has natural talents. Whether they be put to good use as soldiers, doctors, misfits, or spies.
Date December 6, 2010

Department of Evolved Affairs Building


Since Hannah Emerson had been made a member of New York's FRONTLINE squadron, she had been involved in a lot. Sixteen hour days training in HORIZON armour, evenings spent drinking with the Operations Head and several other members of the team, shoot-outs in Staten Island, patrols across New York. Any number of things that would keep her moderately busy in the always city of New York.

This, by far, was the most boring job she'd been assigned yet.

One can't expect to always win the lottery, but she had to wonder if she'd lost a bet with Harrison or Ivanov and forgotten it drinking afterwards. Walking around the Department of Evolved Affairs before lock-up wasn't exactly the most exciting thing ever. Hell, she's not even wearing her armour for this assignment, instead dressed in comparatively simple BDUs.,

"Alright, well, don't forget that the building closes up soon. You don't want to end up out too late after all." And with that, she steps out of one doorway and continues down the hall. She's just supposed to be making sure the only people left in the building are supposed to be here, but right now she wished she at least had a beer to go with it.

Taka taka taka.

Odessa Price is seated at a long table in an empty conference room, typing on a laptop. Her personal one if the brightly coloured cartoon characters on the (designer) skin she's applied to the lid is any indication. (Tokidoki. Label whore.) The glowing apple cut out of the centre identifies it as a Macintosh. She leans in toward the screen, squinting at something even as she types, then turns her head to peer down at a large binder laid out next to the computer, her fingers still ticking away at the keys.

Her head doesn't lift as Emerson makes her rounds, though her booted steps catch Odessa's attention. White bangs are brushed out of her face on her way to plucking something off the neckline of her dress, briefly revealing the red velvet patch with its sequin embellishments over her left eye. She distractedly holds up the badge identifying herself as an agent for the Department of Evolved Affairs. "Agent Price," she murmurs, like she's done this all before. "Yes, I'm cleared to be here after hours."

Hannah doesn't even have time to knock before the badge is flashed her way. Is she really that loud coming? Well, to be honest, that cuts effort down from her job. A double edged sword, that. Getting out of here means less boring work, but it also means heading back to her room in Red Hook, which- would likely be just as boring unless she spends the night playing pool in the rec room again. Wrinkling her nose, she doesn't let Odessa's pre-emptive actions deter her from at least peeking in like she should. A pair of steps in, and she leans forward to look at the badge. Threading red hair out of her vision as she leans back, she just gives a bit of a nod to Odessa. "Alright, Mrs. Price. Just have to make sure, I'm sure you understand." A bit of a smile is given as she turns back away and back into the hall. "Don't work yourself to sleep while you're here."

Disinterested. Ask me if I care. I'm trying to work here. — Wait. Mrs. Price?

Now Odessa's head lifts, tearing her gaze away from her work and up to Emerson. That's a new one on her. Doctor first, then Agent, and then Miss if your name happens to be Dante Lupinetti. But missus? It draws a briefly nonplussed look, tinged faintly with annoyance. I said agent, is bit back in favour of, "What's your name?" The question is posed to Emerson's back, not having really bothered to read any identification that may have been plastered on her BDUs, or whatever badge she wears visible to mark herself as authorised to be here.

She's just out the door when Odessa calls her back, stopping just a half step out. Quirking an eyebrow, Hannah turns back with a grimace on her face. "Sergeant Hannah Emerson, FRONTLINE, ma'am." Oh, now she's formal. She does, however, quell the urge to throw a salute in there, as is her normal habit when her name is requested. Her posture, however, is rather rigid, though not entirely straight. "Is there something you need?"

And now ma'am? Does she look old or something? At her sides, Odessa's fingers flex and she halts time around her so she can make her grr face without it being seen. Her lower jaw juts out and her visible eye rolls ceiling-ward. She emits a quiet ugh before taking a deep breath to pull in her composure.

This is how Odessa gets through the day without killing any of her co-workers.

When time resumes again, the woman's scarred mouth turns upward in a smile. "Nice to meet you, Sergeant." There's very little sincerity, but she feigns politeness well enough. Odessa gets up from her chair with a crinkle of the red tulle peeking beneath her hem, adding fullness to her skirt. The same colour as the red patent platformed heels on her feet, the lacquer on her nails, the polka dots peppering her white dress, and the wide band in her hair just behind her bangs, and before the bouffant the white tresses have been styled into. "It's good to know someone's checking up on us here."

Hannah isn't sharp enough, bored as she is at the moment, to pick up on Odessa's feigned politeness, instead offering a simple nod. Hands fold behind her back, and- okay, honestly, she can't help but raise an eyebrow as she looks at Mrs. Price, if only because of her off-kilter choice of attire. Hannah Emerson is no fashion expert, but even she is left a bit at a loss as she catches full sight of the woman. "Just doing my job," she replies in a similarly simply manner, very matter-of-fact in her listing of duty.

Why does everybody give her a look like that? Her dress is cute! Bella Sheridan would say so, at any rate. Odessa tips her head down to clip her badge back to the neckline of her dress near her shoulder. "Forgive my prying," she murmurs distractedly, as though she's making casual conversation — she certainly doesn't care that she's prying, "but if you're FRONTLINE, you must be SLC-Expressive. What is it you do?" She brings her gaze back up to Emerson, an air of (mostly) polite curiosity.

Squeak squeak squeak.

The sound of rusted wheels rolling down the linoleum hallway outside is one that Emerson and Odessa know well and belongs to the janitor's cart. It isn't out of place, either; as the offices prepare to close and the building is stripped down to its skeleton crew, the time becomes right for mopping down floors, replacing faulty lightbulbs, disinfecting the public restrooms and whatever else the custodian's job entails, and that is a mystery, if only because it's above both their pay grade and their notice.

"Aaa," echoes a tiny voice at the end of the hall, shrill with (quiet) alarm, "be careful. You're gonna crash us into something!"

"We'd score points!" is a much more masculine exclamation in response, and not exactly quiet — it echoes down what might have been perceived to be an empty corridor. Squeak squeak rattle whud, which is not the sound of something crashing, but something joining the fun with a deft leap and slam of meaty knees onto cleaning cart. "Take this — it's just like a boat. Lean into it, the centripetal force'll help out— "

Squeak-squeak-squeak goes faster as the cart goes faster, and from their vantage point, they'll suddenly see it — a woman with blonde hair coming loose from where it was tied back, and a young man with all hair shaven to severity. Both are holding mops — the latter is using it to steer and propel them faster.


It's not really prying, not to Hannah. Particularly considering her membership in FRONTLINE, she feels that people have a right to ask. She grins wide, posture relaxing a bit. "HIghtened Pain Tolerance", she replies with a bit of a nod, the beret she wears on her head - the only personalised part of her attire, dark blue as it is - sliding a bit down her head as she does so. "Exactly what it so-"

Squeak squeak squeak.

Under ordinary circumstances, the squeaking of wheels wouldn't do much to garner recognition. It's the commotion afterwards that grabs her attention, the sound of excited voices and decreasing time between squeaks, that has her looking back out into the hall just in time to see a pair riding down the hall on a boatcart like children on a playground. And for a moment, she has to wonder if she's somehow wandered into the wrong building, and people were just sort of humouring her.

"What the hell?" is a question spoke just loud enough for Odessa to hear, at the very least, Emerson pivoting and stepping back into the hall on an intercept path with the cart. :"Hey. Hey! What in the world are you two doing?" There's a definite sternness to Hannah's voice, but she doesn't glare at the pair.

Not yet.

What? Odessa's head tips to one side as she watches the janitor's cart sail by the thick glass windows that serve to divide the conference room she's taken up residence in from the rest of the hall. Any questions she was about to ask about the nature of Hannah Emerson's ability have been forgotten for the time being. She follows the FRONTLINE officer out into the hallway and brings her hand up over her mouth to stifle a laugh against her pale and scarred fingers.

From her dainty perch on the bow— if it can even be called the bow— of the janitor's cart, Ingrid Raines is clutching her mop to her chest for dear life, knuckles gone white where her fingers clutch at the handle. "Break, break, break!" she's squealing at Joshua in the back, and heedless of whatever germs are clinging to its bottom, hides her face behind the grimy cloth tendrils still damp and smelling strongly of bleach from the last time it was dunked in hot water and sloshed across the floor.

There's a lanyard around her neck. Attached to it is a plastic security card someone might swipe to access to some of the more secure areas in the building, but the photo of the woman in its corner is the mirror image of the one with her knees pulled into her chest, shoulders hunched, and the heels of her shoes hooked under the metal bar at the front of the cart, which is supporting her weight.

But they just got momentum going. :( Joshua, however, actually obeys the mousy lass, improvising a brake with mophead — the result is somewhat interesting. He mostly arcs it over both of them and slams the stringy head down against the lino, letting it jam with sheer willpower enough for the cart to suddenly wheel around in a tight circle of pent up momentum. A spray bottle goes loose and flying, and Joshua abandons mop to grip onto Ingrid so she doesn't follow suit.

There's a sharp bang as their vehicle hits the wall, bringing them to a halt some few feet away. The bottle of cleaning fluid skitters to a guilty stop at Emerson's feet.

"Yo," is vaguely reserved greeting, over the top of Ingrid's head.

If there is such thing as a classic or archetypical facepalm, that is where Emerson finds herself, head tilted down into the palm of her hand as she both sighs and tries so desperately hard to fight off laughing. Deep, deep down, a more childish part of her says why didn't I think of that when things got so boring! But for the moment, she manages to hold a more professional appearance, head shaking as it lifts back out of her hand. Still, a bit of a smile has curled on her face in place of any sort of scowl she should be wearing.

"I'm going to need to see some identification, immediately," she drones out as she bends down, calmly picking up the spray bottle. This is despite that she can see Ingrid's identification from here, but after that stunt closer inspection is required. She doesn't look to be taking any aggressive action as she steps forward, looking over the cart and it's passengers with appraising eyes. "I'd also like to know what poor janitor you absconded this cart from, if you don't mind."

Odessa's brows disappear beneath the shaggy fringe of her bangs and her shoulders quake once, giving away her laughter. "Are you both all right?" she asks, letting her hand drop as she steps closer to the wayward card. "Nobody hurt?" Doesn't look like it, but she may as well ask. "That's… one way to get around the building in a hurry."

"We didn't— abscond," and Ingrid says the word like she's not sure it's the one she really wants to use, "anything from anybody," but her voice is sincere rather than bristling with defensiveness, and she unclips her identification from her neck with trembling hands that might be shaking because she's afraid, or because her back is flush against Joshua's chest and she can feel the warmth of his breath in her flyaway blonde hair.

The card identifies her as Ingrid Raines, personal aide for the Department of Evolved Affairs' Homeland Security liaison. "M'really sorry. We didn't mean to cause any trouble, Officer. I was just showing my friend around, that's all. I even signed him in at the front desk if you want to go look—"

"Probably takin' his smoke outside on the clock. We found it." Joshua sounds defensive, in contract. And bristling. And aggressive, for no real reason, other than that's kind of his default. Ingrid is set free by the time he's levering himself down to stand, the whole thing juddering with the movement as he digs a hand into a pocket and takes some things out of it. A few cards rather loosely and carelessly stashed between folds of denim, before he pulls out his Registration card and holds it up for Emerson to see.

Joshua Springsteen. Non-Evolved. Booyah. (That last part isn't printed on there anywhere.) He doesn't have hair in his ID picture there either. Odessa gets a chin up, his eyebrow raising to communicate the appropriate sup, as standard.

Emerson remains quiet as she places the spray bottle under her arm and takes first Ingrid's card, and then Joshua's Registration. They're studied for a moment before her grin widens, the cards offered back to their respective owners. "No, I'm going to take your word that he's signed in," for now at least, she may be going down and checking after she finishes her rounds up here. Ingrid seems cooperative enough, but Joshua's bristliness has her looking up at him with narrow eyes. "You're lucky it's late, and that someone who understands how boring it can be around here is the one who caught this." A glance over to Odessa, and a further smirk on the redhead's face. "Isn't that right?" As if she totally expects Odessa to agree with her. "I am going to have to ask you to go ahead and get on out, however."

Odessa's heels click on the floor as she approaches Ingrid and holds the cart steady for her. "Come on. Out you come. Go ahead and lean on me if you need to." She tips her own chin up in a mirror of Joshua's greeting, ('Sup?) but directs her first question to Ingrid for the time being.

"Boss have you working late, too?" Not that Ingrid is working right now. That much is pretty obvious. Odessa then angles her head to address Joshua again. "Here to make sure she gets home okay?" If she doesn't think that, she's offering the pair a very convenient story. Maybe that's the intention.

Ingrid doesn't have to lean on Odessa, but she appreciates the steadying of the cart as she lifts her legs over the side, one at a time, and gingerly lowers herself down to the floor. She isn't much taller than the other blonde is — if she's taller at all. With her shoes on, it's hard to tell, and the black leggings she has paired with her high heels make her legs appear longer than they are in reality. An oversized baby blue sweater a few shades off from her eyes and worn over a pressed white blouse that does a much better job of conforming to her petite frame completes her outfit. Wherever her coat is, it isn't on her.

"Thanks," she says, and she reaches into an empty bucket attached to the side of the cart to retrieve a plain manila folder that she presumably tucked inside before Joshua convinced her that climbing on was a good idea. "We were just leaving, anyway."

Joshua pauses for too long, hazel eyes going a little blank, before he snaps to a, "Yeah. 'S fuckin' dangerous out there, and look at her, she'd be eaten alive." A hand swings back like he was about to slap Ingrid's ass, but something— maybe the fact he isn't surrounded by guys, for instance— has him kind of vaguely waving that gesture off and planting both palms on his hips. "You're bored? Well come on, there's gotta be another cart stashed around here some place. Two 'gainst two, north to south in ten seconds.

"The stairwells would be fuckin'— " He glances from Odessa, to Emerson, to Ingrid. "Or we could go."

Pursing her lips, Emerson shakes her head, and this time, allows herself a bit of a laugh. She may be an authority figure, but considering nothing is broken and they're owning up to it, she's largely willing to let it slide, or so it seems. "Mmm. Yes, it is late, and I don't believe I saw clearance to be here after hours." She's pretty sure, at least. She's made the mistake at least once tonight and been wrung out for it when she told one man to pack up, but that's how it goes sometimes. "So it would be wise to head on before gets much later." The emphasis isn't antagonistic, but rather calm and urging. The spray bottle is spun on Emerson's finger by the underside of the trigger, her tongue clicking a bit. "I'll make sure the cart gets back where it belongs," she offers with a smile.

Odessa actually grins at the notion of a race. "I would beat you." She would cheat, but she would totally win. And a victory is a victory. Is a bird cheating when it flies? No. It's just using its natural talents! So, really, Odessa wouldn't be cheating at all, right? "Maybe another time, huh?"

And speaking of using her natural talents, a subtle flick of Odessa's wrist allows her to indulge a bit of curiosity. Chiefly what's in the manilla folder Ingrid's just plucked up. Carefully, she slides it from the younger woman's grip and examines its contents, with the intention of putting it back exactly as she found it. Provided she doesn't find the contents particularly scandalous.

The definition of scandalous depends on who you are and what your opinion on the Linderman Act is. The contents of Ingrid's folder include photocopies of several archived registration forms, complete with names, addresses and social security numbers belonging to the people who filled them out. In some cases, but not all: fingerprints. It's nothing that someone of Ingrid's clearance level shouldn't have access to, and there are an infinite number of reasons she might be carrying them around.

What flags Odessa's attention is not the nature of paperwork but the names attached.

Elisabeth Harrison
Jaiden Mortlock
Monica Dawson
Aric Gibbs

Odessa squints at the folder for a moment. That's not totally odd, but… But considering the files she's been staring at all night, specifically the ones related to Redbird Security and known employees and associates of Richard Cardinal…

The file is carried down the hall, to a room with a copier. There, Agent Price makes copies of each of the pages in turn, careful to keep them in perfect order, leaving nothing out of place.

Save for the blaze orange Post-It Note in the shape of a star she randomly leaves on one of the pages in the middle with the note: Why Would Someone Else Be Looking Into Redbird Security? =)

Back in the conference room, the copies are tucked away in Odessa's laptop bag out of sight before the temporomancer steps back into the hallway, slipping the file back into Ingrid's grasp and resuming her stance as best she recalls it before a sharp snap! of her fingers brings time flowing again. She settles her gaze on Joshua, expecting a response to assertion that she would manage to beat him in a race of re-purposed janitorial carts.

Ingrid, of course, is none the wiser. She touches Joshua's arm, and of everyone there Odessa is the most likely to recognize the hurt under the surface of her expression when she turns her eyes up to his face. Maybe it was his Look at her. Or maybe it was something else. Whatever the reason, she hides what she's really feeling behind a tentative smile pleading with him to go.

She cradles the folder against her breast. If she has clearance to be here after closing, she isn't arguing. "Come on, Josh. We shouldn't leave Lene alone for too long. She isn't feeling good today."

"Whatever, Long Jane Silver." That's the leg, not the eye, Joshua. Oh well. "Chicks can't drive." And Joshua throws a gang sign of kinds, index and middle finger in a V, and the player is too white to actually describe that succinctly. He glances to Ingrid, kind of bounces a shrug, and takes some several steps back before nudging the cart in Emerson's direction. "Hey, go wild on that bad boy, I ain't telling nobody.

"Come on." And after nudging an urging elbow into Ingrid's side, Joshua turns on a heel to head out the way they came, only sparing her a glance back to make sure she's following.

Emerson quirks an eyebrow at the other three as she moves to the cart, wheeling it back a bit with that same squeak it had possessed earlier. "I don't think I'll be going wild," she mutters largely to herself, but just audible enough for everyone else to hear, "but I appreciate having something to do for a few moments." And she means it, the pair of them have helped alleviate her boredom rather well for the moment. "Be safe, both of you. I don't want to have get an escort for the two of you." There's a moment of pause as she turns the cart around, looking back over her shoulder. "And stay away from any janitorial closets on the way out." A joke? The small chuckle afterwards says so, but it's lost over the squeak of moving wheels.

Odessa is left bristling by Joshua's little nickname, but she doesn't show it save for the way she straightens up to her full height. Which is, for the record, a whole 5'6" in those heels of hers. "Be safe," she offers as a fair well before turning neatly on those spindly red heels and striding back into the conference room, sitting back down at her computer heavily.

When she resumes her typing, it's at a much heavier, angrier clip.

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