Negotiating Relationships


hana_icon.gif rebel2_icon.gif

Scene Title Negotiating Relationships
Synopsis Enemies, allies, kin and kind — the ties between Hana Gitelman and the entity called Rebel are complicated and contradictory. Soliciting her aid in his current endeavors doesn't seem to clear any of the air between them.
Date August 9, 2010

Primatech Paper Facility

Purified in a sense, all that once marked this building as a storage facility for Primatech Paper has been burned up or off, leaving a sooty but still structurally sound shell. The red brick walls of this derelict storage facility are spraypainted with numerous length of old and faded graffiti on the outside. Smashed windows and vacant parking lots show all the telltale signs of abandonment and disuse.

Despite its decrepit nature, small groupings of furniture have been pulled in from the outside to the spacious and open floors of the facility, from ratty old couches to mismatched tables and chairs in some sort of makeshift living space that gives the impression of transient use, not permanent shelter. Being scavenged, it could be assumed to belong to any number of homeless gangs or groups who might use the space as shelter from the elements.

Outside, the sun is setting, steel and glass gleaming redly in dusk's last light; streetlights flicker on to spill sodium-orange light; the red and amber, green and white of traffic control signals glare against the gathering gloom. Within this room, two levels below the summery outdoors, the only light is an actinic glare characteristic of fluorescent tubes; it harshly outlines resin shelving and neat stacks of featureless cardboard boxes, their contents enigmatic behind unmarked brown sides.

The one person in the room works in accustomed silence, finding no discomfort in the absence of other people and their conversational noises; the rustle of cardboard flaps, quiet sounds of one item after another being tucked into place within the box. There's a pile of materials on the table beside her, things the Ferry will find useful, and each gets filed into an appropriate box as it comes to hand.

The work is mindless, but Hana has no issue with that; relaxing in a way, and necessary, it being the latter which counts most. Her hands are gloved, thin black coverings she simply hasn't bothered to take off yet; she wears a light gray shirt and dark blue jeans, bits of hair worked free from the tie nominally keeping it back to feather around her face. She only notices when she has to push those strands out of her eyes.

Go outside.

Rebel doesn't ever knock before inviting himself over with a message or a greeting. The cacophonous echo of his trinity of voices resonates in the back of Hana's mind, a phone call from five thousand miles above the Earth's surface, beamed down to Hana Gitelman with as little fanfare as this sort of communication can shed.

There's nothing else in that immediate ping of vicinity, no cell phones, pagers, PDAs, untended electronic devices with wireless ports open and sniffing the air. For as much as Rebel making spatial requests of Hana seems strange, what he actually bothers to amend at the end is stranger.


No, he never knocks, and the tripartite voice that abruptly intrudes into her task causes the woman to freeze still, one hand half-raized to pick up a package. Dark eyes narrow at the uninvited presence, lips pulling back reflexively to bare a scant gleam of ivory.

Why? she asks, the instant snap of ungracious, disgruntled reply. But it comes a beat late, a gap amply measurable in the electronic scale of time for all that it is quite brief in absolute terms. Hana is thinking almost as much as reacting, and though she expends no effort in restraining the annoyance his interruption caused, the details didn't escape her. She sets her package down, boots ascending the stairs in a noisy run, easily spanning two steps with each stride.

Hana hasn't figured out what to do with Rebel yet, how to regard him, how to respond to the things he says and does… but he did say 'please'.

Because the front door is locked.

That in itself is something unexpected to hear halfway up the stairs, but admittedly an honest enough response from Rebel, which is followed up with an equally honest addendum.

It is embarrassing. You did not hear the knocking.

Which means he sent someone, and someone informed enough not to carry wireless objects. However, the transmission of data from a technopath of Hana's quality and type isn't something that can be so easily disguised, and to feel an unfamiliar presence of data streaming on the grounds outside of the paper factory is an unusual occurrence.

Even more so that it's a familiar presence, a familiar texture of data transferral.

The last time she felt this particular mind, it was in her own virtual Thermopylae.

She stops at the top of the stairs, one hand resting on the apex of its rail, fingers curled loosely over the painted metal surface. The replies he sends don't quite fit her expectations, her preconceptions; and Hana was already on edge from Rebel's interruption. The flavor of the ability outside, one indelibly burned into her memory, is merely icing on the figurative cake.

The Israeli steps up one last stair, then sideways to a corner table that wasn't there when the building's former proprietors were in residence. Weaponless she isn't, but Hana takes the time to check, holster, and buckle on paired pistols in any case — and proceeds to take one back out, safety off and round chambered. Unstinting trust isn't quite something she can be said to give Rebel.

And why should I be fool enough to open it? Hana asks, standing just inside the door, firearm held easily low.

Because I would like to talk face to face.

Three slow, steady knocks on the front door of the old warehouse, its rattling metal hinges adding a level of texture to the hollow sound.

So to speak.

Her left hand hovers over the bolt; her right continues to aim the handgun in the door's general direction. Hana's hesitation, however, is extremely brief; better to be decisively wrong than snared in ambiguity. She throws the bolt back and opens the door, looking sidewise at the figure outside, dark gaze narrowed. "Fine," the woman says, aloud rather than over digital transmission. "Just don't do anything I have to shoot you for."

She isn't pointing the gun at him now, but that could change in a heartbeat.

Were this the 1950s, the man waiting outside of Primatech Paper's decaying structure might fit in perfectly. It's not, and he doesn't. For all that the wiry Asian man presented to Hana Gitelman looks initially unfamiliar, his data signature marking him as one half of the Behemoth entity is not. The ash gray slacks and vest slims his already narrow profile and the unbuttoned collar of his white dress shirt, loosened tie and rolled up sleeves make him look like a gangster off of work. That he's bowing his head and sliding the gray fedora he wears off to hold at his chest is awkwardly gallant.

"Does it suit me?" is a voice she recognizes, and suddenly everything starts to click. Back in the virtual Bhutan that Drucker had brought her to, there was a monk tending the digital grounds that led the way for Hana's introduction to Rebel in their virtual dream-time; the posture and the mannerisms and the face all match up, sans more traditional attire.

"The face," he replies with a lopsided smile on straightening up, patent leather shoes scuffing across cracked asphalt bristling with fresh grass, "not the clothing."

Hana looks over at the Asian in his suit, his short black hair and dark Oriental eyes above that lopsided smile; when he finishes speaking, she lifts her chin slightly, eyes dry and expression uncompromisingly severe. "If you think I'm going to say 'yes'," is the answer given in a stiff tone, "you're sadly deluded."

She turns away from the door, leaving it for him to close as she walks back into the building's ground level with its fire-scarred surfaces and structure. There's a shell of a conference room, no table but a handful of mismatched chairs; she eschews them all to lean against the wall, watching him every step of the way. "What do you want to talk about?"

There's a soft click of the door and an appreciative sigh from the gray-dressed technopath as he steps inside the more climate controlled confines of the warehouse, hard-soled shoes clacking on the concrete floor as he follows Hana's progress into the building. "Ever speaking more with your body than your mouth," sounds so very much like Drucker, and perhaps it is an affect of being effectively possessed by him that affords this stranger the capability to speak with his mutt accent of an Israeli who spent the majority of his life in Nepal. "Two things, equally important and neither mutually exclusive," the man who is seemingly Drucker explains with a flourish of one hand as he sets his hat down on a chair, then shifts his weight to one foot and slides his hands inside the pockets of his pressed slacks.

"First, and related to the second, I would like to talk to you about our mutual derision for the Company." Leaning ever so subtly to the side, Drucker's weight rests against the side of the table, brows furrowing and lips pursing together. "I believe the time may be approaching where you and I will need to bury the hatchet in regards to some of their flock, in order to fight more pressing fights. As much as it pains me to admit, I have begun to feel like it may be time to get over myself and their misdeeds to me and look at the larger picture."

It is Hana's posture and manner that speaks far louder than any words; subconscious expression that she either can't or won't rein in, particularly in this place and this company. Spine straight, chin raised and lips pressed into a thin line, she glides two forceful steps forward. If there was a table in this room, she probably would've slammed a hand — or the butt of her pistol — against its surface; as it is, there's only the motion of pacing by which Hana can express her opinion of that suggest.

Motion — and words. "Are you fucking insane?" Hana almost literally spits the statement out, eyes glinting angrily as she pivots back around at the end of her line to face Rebel. "Or did they get their claws into you, too?" follows, more bitterly spoken.

"No claws, words, but those have less effect on me these days." There's a furrow of the shell's brows followed by a subtly pleased smile, hey it worked is expressed in a way, as if happy with his own ability to physically emote. Resting one hand on the back of the chair he stands next to, there's a softly exhaled sigh and a more patient cast to his smile. "Even the hunter offers mercy to dying prey," he opines in typical fashion, "there is no winning against them, but they have already lost."

Teeth toying with his lower lip in a way that more implies testing the tactile sensations, Rebel looks askance from Hana with dark eyes, surveying the floor with these unfamiliar and unsettlingly gelatinous orbs. "I have come to personally assist one of their higher-ranking agents against the Institute, a common enemy. He is not, in my understanding, a bad man. The Compay is an entity we fight, we hate, but that entity itself is dissolving."

Dark eyes track back to Hana, and Rebel's brows furrow again in a more practiced fashion. "Do not hate the Germans for the Reich, do not hate the Americans for America. The Company is on its last legs, and striking them while they lay dying may be merciful, but lending a hand out to the dying wolf's pups…" he trails off, eyes falling shut. "Better a wolfhound raised by man than a feral dog stalking the wilds."

One slender-fingered hand slams against the nearest chair, sending it skittering across thin, rotting carpet to collide with one of its fellows. "You can keep your fucking platitudes," the woman hisses. She is in this as always: predictable. "They may be dying," Hana says, for she knows that as well as he; hears it as well as he, "but if you expect me to help them…"

Hana pivots on a heel and walks back out the door they entered, into the hall; the room's too small for her to express herself satisfactorily. There's also no targets to hand — unless she counts Rebel, and it says something there that plastic clatters against concrete, handgun unkindly sent skidding down the length of a cross-corridor's floor.

Though where she winds up is the warehouse bay that now serves as an oversized garage, rather than the room that serves as gym and salle. Shoving bits of escaped hair back out of her face, Hana picks up an oil-stained rag and a half-cleaned lump of shaped metal that she can furiously scrub grime from in furious silence.

Rebel hasn't worked on reactions yet, and when he impassively watches Hana through the clattering noise of the chair, his awkwardly belated attempt to show surprise seems wholly artificial. "I expect you to help your network," Rebel projects vocally down the hall, only after several moments turning to follow Hana out of the room and down the corridor, not quite moving into the bay she's turned to, but the doorway of it before lending one shoulder to the threshold.

"Sacrifice your sanctimonious attitude for the betterment of your people. The group I aid would have no need of agents fleeing the Institute, but the Devil you know is always the safer bet, especially for the Ferrymen." Rebel furrows his brows again and steps through the doorway, shoes echoing on concrete as he walks. "Letting them to their own devices would be infinitely less beneficial to the greater good than both of us putting aside our own biases."

"Be the bigger person," isn't exactly easy for Rebel to admit, though he does so with noticable eloquence at least.

"Sanctimonious?" she snaps, punctuating the word with a jab of discolored cloth. "Sanctimonious? I never claimed to ride a high holy horse," Hana snarls in return. She just carries an undying grudge. "Don't project your fucking faults onto me." The part falls to the table it came from with a leaden thunk, excess force causing it to topple over and off the surface altogether, metallic clang echoing from cinderblock walls.

She turns her back on Rebel, hands held stiffly at her sides. "Your second?" Conversation on the first has been closed, implicitly.

Staring down at the floor with his arms folded, Rebel's profile looks distinct in the lighting of the garage, his eyes shadowed by downturned lashes. "Members of the group Messiah are meeting with you tonight," Rebel asserts thoughtfully, "to discuss the Ferrymen's involvement in a use of force against the Institute at a location here on Staten Island. There will be casualties on our side, but I urge you to strongly consider affirmations of the request being made. It is not without a heavy heart that I commit myself to violence, and it is not without reservations that I go into this battle."

Rebel's steps take him several paces closer towards Hana, his head wavering from side to side as he does as if testing out the flexibility of his neck or perhaps in some sort of pantomime of thought. "I cannot effectively perform the necessary functions of this scale of a mission on my own. So aside from what he will ask of you, this is me asking you for help. We work well together," he admits reluctantly, "when we put aside ourselves, at least."

Her head swivels as he comes nearer, to the point where Hana can see him in her peripheral vision. Since he stops, she does no more than that. Her expression is flat, lips pressed together; doesn't say anything, at first, but regards the Asian in sidelong silence for a long moment.

He can't hear the thoughts that pass behind that masklike visage, for all that Rebel would no doubt dearly like to.

He can see the breath she draws in, hear it huff back out between her teeth; see the stiff and proud line of shoulders and spine as Hana turns away from her visitor once more. "I'll think about it," is the only concession she's willing to grant.

But Drucker knows how to interpret those words — and that the easiest way to lose ground is to press it harder.

"That's all we— " embarrassing, "that's all I can ask of you." Leading with a turn of his chin, Rebel eventually twists his whole body towards the door, hands tucked back into the pockets of his slacks and polished shoes scuffing the floor. "If you want to talk about it," and it's hard to say exactly what Rebel means by it since the riddle-like mannerisms of Drucker seem so pronounced that there may not even be a true definition of it, "I'm always a thought away…"

Knowing when he's pushed both his luck and her patience to the furthest limits of either's capacity, Rebel's corporeal exit comes with him lingering on the threshold, as if giving Hana that last opportunity to say something that need be said or do something that need be done. It would be unfair of him to just leave without giving her that chance.

Not that he knows what the chance is even offering, but maybe Hana does.

She can hear him hovering in the doorway — hear the cessation of footsteps, the continuing white-noise of his digital presence. There's a beat of stillness, of response's lack; then the twist of her torso, a half-turn that brings Asian features into the very edge of Hana's view.

But she's no better at these cues than Drucker, and any of the many things the woman could say… are not said. Hana offers just one word: "Goodbye." Hesitates over the lack of word that follows, but can't bring herself to add another.

Two syllables of farewell more than Drucker himself offers her, but maybe the scuffing of his shoes on his way to retreive his hat before leaving is like saying goodbye as well. Maybe there's some deeper meaning encoded in a scuff-step-scuff of morse code underlining his footfalls. Or, perhaps more likely, he just can't find the right words.

He and Hana may both have human qualities, but by and large they're both just pretending to be human.

And it's never easy.

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