Pro-Evolved to the End


eileen_icon.gif melissa3_icon.gif

Scene Title Pro-Evolved to the End
Synopsis It's a badge Melissa brandishes proudly and one Eileen probably doesn't deserve.
Date June 14, 2010

Staten Island: A Stone Bridge

It was already getting dark when Melissa called Eileen. Perhaps a surprise given that Mel had never called the woman before, but Eileen did send a present, so perhaps not. The meet was set up, and when the appropriate time arrives, Mel is standing on the stone bridge, leaning against it and smoking. As usual she's dressed in black from head to toe, and the black streaks have reappeared in her hair. It seems as though she's lost in thought, or perhaps she's just enjoying the warm weather after so many months of cold.

The sky has been belching thunder for the last half hour and showering Staten Island with intermittent bursts of rain, but it's yet to light up or crackle with the electric energy violent storms are known for. Wind gusts tear through the trees, most stripped of their leaves except for a few that have begun to take on a faintly green hue, and scatter Melissa's hair in every direction, creating a quiet roar in her ears that smothers the distant cries of seabirds closer to the island's shore.

When Eileen appears on the winding road that leads to the Garden about a half mile away, it's alone and without fanfare, though it's several minutes before she arrives at the bridge. Her hair sticks to her face and conforms to its shape and that of her pale neck. She wears only a wool cardigan for warmth over a charcoal gray dress, and in spite of the drizzly weather it's all she really needs. It's summertime in New York, and the air is pleasantly humid.

"It's so nice to be able to stand outside without wearing your own body weight in clothes," Melissa murmurs when Eileen is near enough, though she doesn't immediately look to the other woman, just continues to smoke and look out at the scenery. "Though it's amazing how much one storm can change things beneath the surface."

She straightens and flicks her cigarette outward before her hands slide into her pockets and she turns to face Eileen. "It's been a while. Gotta say, didn't expect to be calling any of you guys anytime soon. Or to be getting presents after the way my last conversation with Scott went."

Eileen's hands find the top of the bridge's wall, which is short enough for both her and Melissa to climb over if they so desired, and looks down at the creek that runs beneath it. Although their reflections are distorted by the current, it's easy to make out their shapes with the setting sun glowing palest pink behind them, almost all its colour sucked dry by heavy clouds in every shade of gray imaginable.

The same can be said of the Englishwoman's face. She looks gaunt and ashen. Unwell. "It's important that we look out for one another," she says. "No one wants anything to happen to you or the boy."

Melissa smiles, just a bit, and nods. "I'm glad to hear it. I may get great joy in the thought of decking Scott, but I don't consider you guys my enemies. And there's not much I wouldn't do in order to keep Kendall safe. He's family now."

She turns, leaning back against the wall, nearly perching on it. "Still, I was surprised. Aside from Abby, I hadn't heard a thing from anyone since Scott came to visit and called me all manner of unflattering things." She shrugs a little. "So what's the deal? Abby didn't give me too many details. Someone picking off Ferrymen?"

"We've lost a few." A bluebird flutters down from the branches of a willow tree that should be dancing tendrils across the creek but has yet to fully recover from the cold snap. When Eileen crooks a finger, it skips across the stone and — with a sharp snap of its periwinkle wings — alights on her bent knuckle with a shrill peep of greeting. This time of year, the forest around them should be pulsating with life. Insects with glittering wings and the swift little songbirds that chase them through the undergrowth where families of rabbits make their home and tuck themselves away at night when owls hold dominion over the woodland.

Where are they? And where are the fireflies?

"I don't think the disappearances are restricted to the network," Eileen says. "They'll take anyone who's got an ability that interests them."

Melissa watches the little bird, her head tilting, and her lips curve a little before she looks back up to Eileen and the smile fades. "Who are they? What information do you have on them?" she asks, going from faux casual to serious in a heartbeat.

Eileen strokes her fingers down the length of the bluebird's back, barely grazing its feathers. "The Commonwealth Institute," she says. "Liette's old keepers. Simon Broome is the man in charge, and he's got people working for him with the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency— I don't think there's a branch of the government he hasn't infected yet, but I'm hopeful for the Department of Evolved Affairs. Praeger seems like he's got a decent head on his shoulders."

Hearing that, especially the bit about Liette, Melissa grimaces and shakes her head. "Fucking great," she mutters, sighing and running a hand through her hair. "So what's their MO? Just snatch interesting evolved? For what purpose? Are they locked away? Killed? Or…shit. Liette said they did tests on her, didn't she?"

"Scientific experimentation." Although Eileen's voice is soft with frayed edges, there's no defeat in it. Quiet and resolute, she addresses their reflections in the water. "I can't tell you to what end. They've imported most of the work that General Rasoul was overseeing in Madagascar before the Americans razed Antananarivo to the ground. Negation gas, pregnancy farms, formula designed to bestow special abilities. It all goes back to the Second World War when the Nazis and the Soviets were running programs of their own. Research passes from one generation to the next, one government to another. This has been happening for longer than you and I have been alive."

Melissa's expression gets darker and darker as Eileen goes on. "I've dealt with the gas firsthand. Not fun. And the rest? Are they really breeding women? Trying to what? Get an army of evolved that they can play with? Like Liette?" She pulls out a little notebook, writing quickly and muttering to herself. It's enough to make a sailor blush. "Where is this Institute based at? Do you know?"

"I've no proof they're breeding anyone on U.S. soil, but I know what I saw in Madagascar, and I know that all the information obtained from those trials in now in the hands of your government. Whether or not they continue the research that Rasoul started is likely Broome's decision, and the things that interested Rasoul may not interest him." Eileen turns her head enough to steal a glimpse at the notebook, but it's the bluebird that flits over, lands on the top edge with tiny feet dimpling the paper where claws hook in. "They have a facility in Massachusetts," she says. "With the funding Broome's gotten, it's probably one among dozens. What are you going to do?"

"My government?" Melissa says, brows lifting. "It's not mine, and hasn't been since they locked me up for existing," she says, shaking her head. "Who are Rasoul and Broome though? I mean, you said Broome is in charge, but in what capacity? Financing it? Scientist? Government fanatic?"

The notebook, or at least the page that Melissa has it opened to, has just a few names jotted down. Simon Broome. Rasoul. Commonwealth Institute - Massachusetts. Liette. Clearly it's just notes so she doesn't forget any important details. However, it's also written with a little more pressure than is strictly necessary. Someone is clearly more irked than she's letting on.

Mel looks back up, not seeming to mind the bird. Or maybe she doesn't fully know Eileen's power. Anything is possible. "Specifically? I don't know," she says, shrugging. "But like I said. I'll do anything to keep Kendall safe. To keep him from being locked up or turned into a guinea pig."

The bluebird studies Melissa's notes, its head canted to the side and black eyes twinkling. "Someone told me to leave the country today. Take our people and go. Very Biblical." Eileen's mouth forms a small smile. "You might want to consider doing the same. The Ferry has operatives up in Quebec who'll set you up with new identities and send you west. No one is going to coming looking in places like Kelowna or Red Deer."

Broome and Rasoul are more difficult subjects for her, and she touches her fingertips to her lips in a tense silence, smile diminished to nothing. "Broome's a scientist. He contributed a lot of work to the Human Genome Project before having a stroke, but Rasoul—" Her hand flattens across her mouth. Rasoul…

"Rasoul and I used to work together for a man named Kazimir Volken. If you've not heard that story, I can tell it to you."

Melissa shakes her head. "I won't leave. But…" If Kendall would be safe, it would be good, but she can't abandon him either. Damn these moral issues! It has her grimacing and shrugging lightly, before her hand grips the pen more tightly, though she doesn't write anything yet.

"Never heard of Rasoul or Broome before, but Kazimir…Him I've heard of, several times. Nazi guy, his power could jump from person to person, right?"

"Kazimir had a good heart, but when you live the kind of life he did for as long as he did—" Eileen doesn't finish that thought. Her hand falls away from her mouth and she rubs the tips of her fingers together. "He sent Rasoul to Madagascar a few years ago and Rasoul turned the government there into a dictatorship. They're both dead now — it's their legacies that are going to destroy us."

Melissa sighs and shakes her head, marking down one more thing before slipping the pen in her pocket. "Gotta love how the shitty legacies survive," she mutters. She looks at the bird then, tilting her head. "Uh…I wanna put the notepad away little bird. You might wanna move?" Clearly she's not used to talking to birds. Dogs, sure, but birds?

"Anything else you can think of involving the Institute? How many people have they taken so far? Ferry or not?" she asks when she looks back to Eileen.

"We negotiated the release of some operatives. Others were held for longer, then turned loose. We're still in the process of trying to understand why." Eileen summons the bird back to her, and provides it with a perch on her wrist, seeming not to mind when its toes snag the fabric of her cardigan. "I can't remember if you ever met Gillian Childs. She's still missing."

Melissa stops, the notepad halfway to her pocket. "Gillian Childs," she says blandly. "Abby's friend with all the tattoos? Chick with all the kids? Shit. Does Abby know?"

Eileen tucks her chin into a nod. Abigail knows. "It's— probable that the Institute is responsible for what happened on Thursday, at least in part. There's no evidence, of course, and even if we were to uncover some it wouldn't do us much good. Leveling accusations about the weather won't help either. The best we can hope for is to stay one step ahead and start putting ourselves in a position to strike back the next time we're hit, and there will be a next time."

"Oh, if the Institute was the people who had Liette? They are the cause of the weather. But you say they probably caused all those visions? Me and Kendall both had 'em," Melissa says, pacing back and forth along the width of the bridge. "Eileen, I'm going to ask for a huge favor. Even though I'm not Ferry anymore, can you keep me up to date on this situation? We're still on the same side. Pro-evolved to the end."

They weren't always. Eileen communicates that much with the rueful shape of her mouth if the gentle conflict in her voice when she talks about Rasoul and Kazimir didn't make this clear to Melissa already. "I'll send word through one of my birds," she concedes. "A magpie, so you'll know the message is from me."

We all make mistakes, and it seems Melissa is willing to ignore Eileen's past. For now, anyway. The comment has her smiling a bit, with a trace of real humor. "I'll be sure to google magpies so I know what the hell they look like. I just know bluebirds and cardinals. But thanks Eileen, I appreciate it."

Eileen can't quite bring herself to say you're welcome, so she parts instead with: "You look after that boy, Pierce. And don't forget about minding yourself."

"Trust me. I don't. We'll be alright." They have to be. Because what else has Mel got? "See you later, Eileen." A nod of her head, and she begins walking, down the bridge this time. Heading home.

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