cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title Neo-Luddite
Synopsis Cardinal learns what Twitter is as the king, queen, and a bishop discuss and disagree on the logistics of their new business.
Date July 16, 2010

Office Building in Manhattan

"So, it needs a little work…" The sun's just creeping up towards the apex of the sky outside, so Cardinal's rather relieved as he steps into the building's comforting shade; the door beside the soap-washed windows pushed open, he walks slowly into the littered lobby to look around, a hand coming up to scratch under his chin lightly against the stubble there, "…but once it's all fixed up, I think it'll work just fine. There's a nice sizable basement, five floors above ground - we could even set up apartments up there…"

This is the first time Elisabeth has seen the place in person, though she asked her father to look into the listings that suited their needs. This was one of the neighborhoods he recommended if the security company wanted to draw in some of the upscale clientele. Glancing around, her hands shoved into her pockets, Liz can see that the structure is in pretty good shape. The building's obviously been used by squatters in the past, but it's not too bad. In her mind's eye, she is already sorting through some of the logistics of getting it set up. "How's the soundproofing downstairs?" She's figuring that will actually be the bigger issue — refitting the downstairs for what we need.

"It will work," Peyton says, glancing around, her need for aesthetics already making her think of interior designs for the lobby and beyond, color schemes and decor themes running through her mind. Something tasteful and modern, a simple waiting area of black leather couches and silver and glass tables. This is something she can contribute easily enough, when the string theory and future-planning sessions are above her head most of the time. This is something she can do before she's gone. She glances up at Cardinal after Liz asks her question.

"Pretty good, actually." Cardinal stomps a foot against the floor twice, turning a bit to look back to the others with a slight smile curving his lips, "Nice thick floors. Nothing to complain about, at least - some sound-absorbing tile on the ceiling, pad the door, and we should be fine. I probably wouldn't want to run firearms drills down there without you to muffle them, admittedly…"

Elisabeth shrugs with a grin. "Where the hell's Alec when you need him?" she quips. "But yeah, I wouldn't recommend firearms drills. On the other hand… considering your license is for a security company, we can actually get time on regular firing ranges for anyone listed as an employee," she observes. "Still, you know I'll muffle the whole downstairs." Her range, Conrad always told her, was in her head. But she's finding that's not entirely the case.

There's a slight wrinkle of Peyton's nose at the mention of firearm drills — definitely not her favorite thing to do. She's not the worst person ever with a gun, but she still doesn't like the feel of one in her hands, the recoil after the gun issues its bullet. She's never going to be the first choice for any weapon-related mission, but that's not her role in the group. Thankfully. "If we come up with a list of thing we need, I can go shopping this week, get it all delivered here," she says. Logistics aren't her thing — shopping and organizing, definitely.

"Good point. Not everyone who comes through here is going to be an employee, though, that'd make it a little easy for them to track who we are and who's with us…" Thus, the downstairs. Cardinal walks along further in the lobby, to lead the way through the place and give a little tour to the pair, hands spreading a bit as he admits in wry tones, "…not that we have very many active operatives right now. There's a couple prospectives, but fuck if we don't need to recruit."

Elisabeth slants him a glance and says drily, "I wasn't telling you to list everyone in the group as an employee, Richard. I was commenting on the fact that anyone who is — like yourself, Rebecca, Peyton — can also use the regular range for good practice." Everyone else will obviously be using the downstairs. "Although now that I'm thinking about that, I don't honestly know if your pardon would extend to a carry permit," she muses. Not that it matter much. It's just one of those things a former cop thinks about. She follows him through the building and nods slightly. "This one is a good call. And having apartments overhead could be damn useful too." Like for hiding people like… oh, I don't know, NIKLAUS.

Peyton's eyes drop, an illogical little pang of guilt for knowing that soon there will be one less. A few months. Even if she doesn't die on November 8th, she feels that it will be soon, that it's fate that Emile Danko will kill her. "Do I have to use the shooting range? Those ear muffs mess up my hair," she quips, following along on the little tour. "We'll need to figure out policies for safety stuff, you know, like Ferry does? Like, they don't allow cell phones, stuff like that, because of technopaths. Obviously we'll need to have phones and stuff, but you know, we should figure out what's okay on them and what's not, and how to handle business with that threat," she points out.

"We can ask Wireless and Alia to secure our lines," Cardinal admits, his head lifting to look up at the ceiling, lips pursing in a frown, "We do have to work out security, though. Low tech as much as possible. Actually… I wonder what the range of a good radio is, these days. If we can bypass anything computerized at all, keep low tech and only have one dedicated computer line out of the building that isn't connected to anything else, we should be good."

"I'd say anything handled on the land lines in the building should be business related or non-group related. A cover is only as good as you make it," Elisabeth replies quietly. "Which means busting your ass to make it look and sound as real as it gets. It means clients and time that has to be spent cultivating them. And because of who we are, we're going to be on a watch list. Making this work in plain sight requires basically convincing them all that some of you are turning over a new leaf and others of you have no clue what's going on. Wireless and Alia can secure the cells, but even then… any calls you make that are Endgame-related, you should do in the basement so there's no line of sight for an acoustic mike or in the recesses of the building. And we're probably going to periodically want to sweep for bugs too." She shrugs. "It's only paranoia if they're not out to get you."

"True. It'd look weird if it was like this 'void' of wired activity, right? That'd draw more attention, maybe," Peyton says with a nod to Elisabeth. To Cardinal, she shrugs. "I know they have pretty good walkie-talkies that go up to like a mile or something. We used to use them when we went snowboarding. Pretty handy. They can't pick up radio waves? The technopaths?" She has no idea how any of that works; she didn't take physics.

"They work in digital. Radios? Analog… and even the digital radios need to be picked up by a computer they have access to. They're not all-powerful," Cardinal insists with a tight shake of his head, "We definately want to have outgoing traffic that looks like it's a proper business, and clients, and all — but we want as little access from the outside as possible, and that we're going to want isolated." He looks back to the pair with a grin, "Exactly, Liz. And if anyone comments it's a void, we can tell them the truth. We are a security company, and there are technopaths out there."

Elisabeth slants a glance at the man and grins slightly. "Indeed. Is Alia actually getting hired?" she wonders aloud. "In the meantime, Peyton's also correct. We don't want to be a digital void — We'll need three computers that are wired into the Internet. We can ask Alia or Wireless to secure them so that if someone tries to hack them we'll know. But the only things you keep on them are the company's actual books, Peyton can keep the client list and all actual business-related things on hers. No calendars. No appointment schedules," she cautions though. "You don't want people to know where our operatives are supposed to be and when if they go looking."

Peyton leans against a wall, arms crossing. "We can make bogus Facebook pages to give the nosy

Peyton leans against a wall, arms crossing. "We can make bogus Facebook pages to give the nosy 'paths something to poke at," she says with a smirk to let them know she's kidding. "And Twitter all day. @Cardinal is going to Starbucks, who wants a latte?" Sobering a little, she nods. "That makes sense. Besides, I for one don't want to have to teach Richard how to use Google calendar. It was bad enough showing him how to enter a phone number on the cell phone." She glances around. "Hey, can I bring Von to work?" The puppy wouldn't be much of a guard dog, being deaf and all, but he'd be a good mascot.

"Yeah, she's up for getting hired as our computer security expert," Cardinal affirms, then raises a brow curiously at Elisabeth, "…why three? Can't we just make due with one? And given their ability to eavesdrop, I'd rather no speakers, no microphones, either, if it can be…" He pauses, then, and he looks at Peyton with a blank, yet somehow horrified expression. "What's a twitter?"

"Because you need one for the receptionist who handles all things at the front of the business. She's the face of your business," Elisabeth says. "You need one that ostensibly belongs to the CFO, who would be the person handling the money. Paying the employees. Et cetera. And you really need one per operator… but we'll suffice with just one total. For actual research on cases. A lot of the legwork for a security and investigation firm can be done online — background checks on employees in a company, as an example, requires computer skills and phone calls to references and such. And no company nowadays operates in a technical void, Richard — especially not if their specialty is high-end security up to and including computer crimes. Anyone who hires us in the hopes of stopping someone from skimming from their company is going to want a forensic computer expert on our staff to assist with tearing apart the suspect's computer."

She's actually put quite a lot of thought into this business, though perhaps it's only now that he's seeing it. Maybe she's also been planning for the day when she could no longer be a cop.

"Well, Alia should fit the bill for the last part, I'd think? And if it's legitimate business, we can always contract out some freelance stuff, if we find we need someone to do something one of us doesn't have the skills for," Peyton suggests. "I'm getting pretty good with research and stuff. I think I can handle a lot of the background checks and whatever. Too bad I still can't manage to see from just a picture, but I'm still trying. At least I have ears now."

She grins at Cardinal. "Twitter is this ridiculous thing where you can tell everyone what you're doing 24-7 in short little news bites, except people say the most stupid things on it from what I can tell. I don't do it, but a lot of my … you know… former friends did." i.e. people like Paris and Nicole and Justin and Lance. "Don't worry. I was kidding. I promise."

At the explanation, Cardinal just looks all the more pained, one hand sweeping up to rub against the back of his head as he looks between the pair. Then he pulls the shades from his face, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose. "Alia can handle her own computer," he allows quietly, "I'll accept that we need a… computer for her. Do we need outside access for everything, though? Can't we have the computers in here on a… local network, or whatever?"

There's a soft laugh. "Yes, love, they can just be locally connected," Elisabeth replies, taking pity on the poor man's horror. She winks at Peyton with a grin, though. "That way if Peyton's computer is hacked, they'll find the LAN and know that we're not unplugged, just choosing to be cautious. You should still only keep company-related shit on the computers. Anything you want computerized for Endgame should be a completely isolated computer." She watches him and just shakes her head. "Seriously — the protocols you put in place for the building here are that no conversations that are Endgame-related take place in the upper floors. It's not as daunting as it must sound. Becca's actually probably got a really good grasp of how to handle the books of a business too, so she may be able to help out and act as the CFO — the person who pays everyone or something. Assuming we ever get open and pay people." Her tone is rueful.

"Right, we need internet access for the legit stuff on at least one computer for the basic stuff that isn't related to Endgame of course," Peyton says. "I don't need to get paid. If we make a profit ever, then fine, but you know, I want to make sure Alia and Rebecca get paid. I'll finance that, if need be, until there's a profit." If there's a profit. She doesn't expect there to be one while she's still around, but then the group will get another windfall of money to help out, anyway. Morbid thinking, but at least Peyton knows they won't be out of business.

"I'd rather everything but one, or maybe two computers be completely isolated," Cardinal observes sourly, his hand dropping back down, "The only reason we've been so effective so far is because we've been completely immune to Rebel, and I don't want to compromise that."

Elisabeth leans back against the wall where they're standing and studies him. "You agreed that a cover was necessary so we could operate in plain sight while staying under the radar. I don't see how having computers that have nothing on them but your legit business enterprise is in any way compromising what you're doing. It would seem to me that having a huge digital black hole here — or conversely having Alia or Wireless literally put a digital Fort Knox around us — would just draw a great big neon sign for Rebel that says "we're up to stuff, come look at us!!" Rebel already knows who you are, Richard. Who I am. What Endgame is up to in the general sense though not the specifics. And we're not talking about putting the specifics out there. So….. are you balking because you think this is honestly a concern, lover? Or are you balking because you're a Luddite?" Blue eyes are watching his reactions closely.

Peyton looks between the two as Elisabeth grows more serious, and decides to let the two discuss this matter without her input. She moves away from the wall to the other side of the office they stand in, peering out the windows to the street outside, taking note of the businesses nearby. She wonders idly whether there's a way for her to see or hear through Rebel — usually she has to see someone to be able to focus on them. If she heard him, would she be able to do the same? The audio part of her power is still new, still being explored. What would such an entity's perspective of the world look like, sound like? she muses.

"You just pointed out, Rebel already knows who we are," Cardinal replies with a cock of his head to one side as he argues back with Elisabeth, "What's it matter if he suspects we're up to something…? He knows we're up to something. I mean, he can see and hear things through these computers, eavesdrop and shit, right?"

There's a long pause and Elisabeth frowns. "If you're ONLY doing legit security company business on it, and you're only TALKING legit security company business in the upstairs of this building, what the hell does it MATTER if he eavesdrops? But it does matter that Homeland Security and the fuckin' CIA may also be watching us, and it'll raise red flags for them in my opinion as well. Personally, I don't see that we need the extra attention on us." She throws up her hands, her motion one of surrender, and sighs as her expression clears. "Do whichever way you want, though. It's your company," she tells him finally. It isn't worth the fight, quite frankly. She's given him her thoughts and her reasoning. If he doesn't agree, then he doesn't agree. "In the meantime, let me know when you want to clean the place out. I'll get the time off and be here."

Glancing over her shoulder, Peyton frowns a little, but bites her lip. She's not an expert, and she sees the two of them as her bosses, so she's certainly not going to tell either of them what to do. Instead, she opens her purse and pulls out a notepad and pen, beginning to move through the office and jot down the supplies she thinks they need and in what quantities.

"I don't want to have to worry about who we walk past what computer," Cardinal argues, and as she throws her hands up and turns away he winces, his hand coming up to rub against his face as he mutters against his hand, "Fuckin' great. Yeah. Sure."

The blonde takes in a deep breath and turns back around. "Look." She pauses, because she can see his expression. And interestingly enough it makes her stomach tie up in knots. It's not the first tiff they've had, but it's close. And the last one was more of a 'Liz lost her mind' moment. Her tone gentles. "I can see both sides of this argument, Richard. If you think the risk of walking a legit client past a computer that Rebel might be able to look through if he gets past Wireles and/or Alia, then that is your call to make. I realize that you've been off the grid pretty much your entire adult life." And it's really just hitting her that while she's been doing this juggle for almost two years, he really really hasn't — not the separate lives gig. "I can give you my opinion, I can tell you why I think what I think. But ultimately the decision is yours, and I'll back you on it. Whether I agree or not. Because your name is the one on this company, and ultimately, you're the one who's taking the risk here. Me? I'm stuck in a military unit with a shark to deal with. I can't be here every day — though in truth, I think the challenge of getting this business off the ground is exciting. Part of that is that the only good cover is an airtight one — and I want you covered to the best of my ability. The other part? Maybe it's stupid, but you know? You told me not to buy into the cover…. and maybe I am on some levels. Because you live a good cover, you don't fake it. Mack would be the first to tell you that sometimes a good cover is more real than your real life — and sometimes your life can depend on the cover holding up." She shrugs. "Sue me. I'd really like to see your cover succeed almost as much as I'd like to see us all live through this."

The clairvoyant-slash-secretary ducks her head as she walks past them. Maybe this is a 'board meeting argument,' of sorts, but it feels too personal, so she heads into the hallway to walk through the ground floor, peeking in the various offices and jotting down anything they might need. Blinds. Curtains. Trashcan. Pens. Memo pads. Post Its. Walkie Talkies, computers, printers, oh my.

"This isn't the same as some sort've undercover gig, though, Elisabeth, a front business works a lot different than a cover identity… and yeah, you have to make it good, but you can't forget that it's not real in the end," Cardinal states quietly and seriously, "Our real business is way, way fucking more important than any of this. We'll… work out some sort've compromise. I'll talk to Alia, I'm sure she'll know better'n me how to curtail Rebel."

Elisabeth smiles faintly. "And you're probably right. It's not an aspect I've ever done before — Mack's the only experience I have with undercover." She pauses. And then nods slightly. "We don't have time to really even indulge in the illusion of real, I suppose," she admits quietly. "But if you're not going to actively do what you can to make it really work out, Richard? Then the people who are throwing in with you are screwed when those of us on the front lines die too. So….. working out a compromise to get the business actually off the ground and turn it into something a little more than just a front? That'd make me happy. Because when the end comes, whatever it is, I'd really like it if people like Peyton and Becca are not compromised by association. It's not like they're putting bullets in people out there." Her tone is weary. Forcing a smile for him, she murmurs, "I gotta get back to the base. I think I'll be back to the apartment tonight, but as always it's in the air."

"Alright." Cardinal takes a step in over to Elisabeth, leaning in to brush a kiss to her cheek and offering her a faint smile, "Get back to work. Give my best to the Queen of Cups, eh?"

That said, he turns to walk down the hall and check out a few more rooms, without replying to the rest of what she'd said. Because in the end, Peyton and Rebecca's sight may end up used to hunt and kill more than any purely physical ability could be.

And he knows he won't hesitate to do it.

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