No for an Answer


eileen_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title No for an Answer
Synopsis Magnes and Eileen have a disagreement about what the Ferrymen should do with the DoEA shipment it intercepted, and then the future of Magnes' involvement with the network.
Date January 10, 2011

South of Pollepel Island

"We can't take these robots with us." Magnes states with his back turned to her, staring over the cache of machines with his fists balled tightly. "I saw too many people die trying to destroy these things. You weren't there, you didn't see what they could do. For all we know this is a trap to get them into a secure location of ours. I won't take no for an answer, we cannot keep these."

"You won't take no for an answer," Eileen repeats, and were circumstances different there might be amusement threaded through her voice and a small smile creeping into her mouth. Instead, her tone is cold and her words like the flurries of ice the wind blows across the congested river. The gyrfalcon perched on her wrist watches Megan checking Abigail and Griffin over for injury on the embankment that separates Breakneck Road from the Hudson, their horses huddled closely together for warmth, and at least one of them desperately needs it.

"How fortunate for me that you aren't in charge," the Englishwoman says. "I don't intend on bringing them anywhere near Pollepel or any of the network's safehouses, what few we have left, but to destroy them would mean destroying an opportunity we might not get again. There will be others, Magnes. We need to study them, understand how they work."

"These things…" Magnes' hands begin to shake, and suddenly he swings one forward to grab one of the robots, opening and closing his fist to collapse it in on itself into a tight metallic ball. He leaves the others, walking back to the exit of the truck. "If this backfires, it's on you. Can we discuss something while we're getting ready to take them back?"

Anger flares across Eileen's features, making her mouth tight and her eyes feline slivers. Her upper lip curls, and it's the falcon on her arm rather than any sense of restraint that ultimately stays her hand as what might have been part of an arm or a leg becomes a dense sphere of heavy metal with no secrets left to yield. "It's all on me," she concedes thinly, drawing the bird close to her chest, lambskin-clad hand clenched. "What do you want to discuss."

"You probably already know, but my father is a high ranking Institute official." Magnes sits on the edge of the truck, legs hanging down from the back. "I've put together a team that consists of Doctor Isabella Sheridan, Doctor Elvira Blite, and an unknown fourth I was unable to meet due to coming here today. I intend to learn while I'm on the team, and I'm going to leave town to give my father a proposal written by Doctor Blite. The purpose of the team is to better understand how to use viruses to manipulate Evolved DNA. I have a genuine interest in knowing how far this kind of science goes from the inside, and learning everything I can about doing it myself. So what I'm saying is, I'm probably joining the Institute, both for legit reasons, the fact that I want to know what my father meant about some things he's said, and that I can probably be of more use to you there than anywhere else."

"The Institute is less of a concern than it was," Eileen says, none of the anger bleeding from her expression, which has no gentle curves to soften it. Her features are in this moment as fierce as her bird's, and she transfers it onto her shoulder so she can trace fingertips along the Department of Evolved Affairs insignia painted on the top of the box's wooden lid. "What you're proposing is still incredibly dangerous. The Institute could have empaths, telepaths, men and women with the ability to discern whether or not your intentions are pure by the cadence of your voice or the way you hold yourself. Associating with individuals like Isabella Sheridan could put the entire network in jeopardy."

"My association with Bella is nothing new, I've been associating with her since my time with the Company. She's as vulnerable and afraid as any of us, she doesn't even want me to say that I know her because she's so afraid of being killed by either you or the Institute themselves. In the end, she's just trying to survive, which is why I want her close to me. She's a friend, she regrets the things she's done. Despite whatever you believe, trust that I know what kind of person she is." Magnes hunches slightly, resting elbows over his knees, sounding sincere and relatively calm in everything he says.

Looking up at her, his eyes scanning over said bird-like features, something in his gaze suggests he's possibly searching for… something. "The empaths and telepaths aren't a problem, like I said, my interests in the Institute are genuine, and I chose my team carefully. As I said, I know Bella well, so I can probably trust whoever this fourth person on our team will be. And Doctor Blite, while I don't know her very well, she taught me everything I know about molecular biology as a teenager, I know her primary concern is scientific pursuit. My father somehow knows what I'm up to, I'm not sure how, but he seems eeriely good at keeping tabs on me. He'll have already taken into account that I have more than one motive for joining the Institute."

The tips of Eileen's fingers curl in on themselves, withering, and the falcon turns its head to study Magnes with the same intensity Magnes studies Eileen. She keeps her dark head bowed, hair plastered to her cheeks and brow by the sleet, rivulets of water running thick through her tresses and down her cheek and jaw, throat and collar. Her hand comes to rest lightly on the edge of the box.

She will be the last person to tell Magnes not to keep friends whose goals at one time were set in opposition against the Ferry, and not only because she sometimes shares a bed with a man who used to make sport of hunting its people. Her hand drifts from the edge of the box to the wolf's head cane she wears like a sword at her hip, the edge of her thumbnail curving along its teeth.

She once hunted them, too. "If you do this," she says, "I can't allow you to return to Pollepel. The chances of you being followed are too great."

"So are we saying I'm not Ferry anymore, when this happens?" Magnes asks with a slight look of concern, considering just what he's giving up. "I've already lost a lot of friends, it looks like this decision might be a bit of a crossroads." Standing up straight to take a few breaths, he shakes his head. "I can't turn back now, I have to do this, even if I'm losing a lot in the process."

"I'm not saying that," Eileen says, and there's something about Magnes' choice of words that lowers the volume of her voice. "I'm saying you have to stay away from our safehouses and strongholds. Yes, people are going to wonder what it is you're thinking. You may lose more friends. Many of our operatives had family taken from them at Thompson, and to them the Institute is synonymous with their grief and suffering, but you're no Susan Ball, now are you."

"I know how they feel. The Institute took Gillian, and they gave Gregor a job, a man who tortured Claire and helped make her the way she is right now. But I have to join them, I have to know that they might be doing something good inside…" Magnes closes his eyes, head dipping in defeat. "I have to find out if my father is truly a bad person or not."

"Then do it." Three words that are not as liberating as they could be, but there they are. From her.

"But just in case I don't make it back from my father's, I'd like to have as few regrets as possible, so…" Magnes slips from the back of the truck, walks up to her, then just leans in out of the blue to steal a kiss from her.

Eileen is on guard against people pulling concealed weapons on her. A kiss is the last thing she was expecting from Magnes, and in the initial moment she opens her mouth as if to return it, but it's purely out of surprise rather than desire — a hitching breath that shudders, toothy and uninviting. The leather of her glove cracks against the side of his face, her palm open, and she snaps away from him with the swiftness of a striking snake.

Wet with spittle: "What on earth's gotten into you!"

Magnes rubs his cheek, shaking his head. "I always wanted to do that, so I just went for it while I could. Honestly, I was expecting a knee to the crotch, but…" He shrugs, offering a friendly smile. "We should get the others so we can get these robots where ever we're taking them."

"Touch me like that again," she hisses, and the pinched tremor in her voice is of all things a little frightened, the only indication that there's more beneath the surface of her blustery anger, "and you won't have legs left all, much less anything between them." The falcon on her shoulder mantles its wings, beak parted around a shrill, self-righteous shriek that drives Eileen's point home in case her words don't.

She must not disagree about rejoining Megan and the others, at least, because she's pushing away from the truck in the next instant to climb back up the slope.

"Hey, uh, sorry, I didn't mean any harm. I didn't think it'd bother you that much…" Magnes' tone is a little more serious now, following her with his hands in his pockets. "Sorry, it won't happen again. I was just screwing around."

"Don't." Screw around. Be sorry. Talk to her. It isn't clear which, and Eileen does not elaborate any further than that. They're within earshot of the others — arguments are not uncommon among the Ferrymen, or anyone these days, but the nature of frigid expression is a mystery she'd like to remain.

Let them think it was about the shipment.

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