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Also featuring:

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Scene Title Quorum
Synopsis In law, a quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative body, such as a legislature, necessary to conduct the business of that group.
Date April 15, 2010


The tunnel networks below what was once Midtown Manhattan are a treacherous labyrinth of dead-ends and crumbling concrete walls in danger of collapse. They're also one of the primary reasons why Grand Central Terminal is among the most secure locations under the Ferry's control. There are very few people who would brave the underground without a map, and it isn't uncommon for those who do to go missing; years from now, their bodies will be dug out from the rubble and laid to rest in a common grave when the city has the resources to reclaim its subterranean passageways.

All that said, the most Noah Bennet and Scott Harkness have to worry about down here is an ambush, and the figure coming at their backs makes no attempt to conceal her approach. Loose gravel crackles and crunches under Eileen Ruskin's boots, occasionally punctuated by the sound of leather scuffing against metal every time her foot comes down on an exposed piece of track. The voices floating down the tunnel from the foyer where the assembly is still dispersing aren't nearly loud enough to camouflage the racket she's making, but the tunnel itself is so dark that only the outline of her figure is visible, illuminated by residual traces of distant lamplight.

Scott's nodding to something Noah had said when he catches sight of Eileen, the glow of a lighter illuminating his face and a cigarette hanging from between his lips. When the lighter's snapped shut, it's only the long and needed draw off of the cigarette that causes the ember on the end to glow hotly, reflected like two points of sulfurous stone in each lens of Bennet's glasses where he stands close to Scott. The two have halted their conversation in Eileen's approach, and as Scott pinches his fingers around the cigarette's filter and draw it from his mouth, the slow breath of smoke filtering out from between his lips comes with a sigh.

Neither of the men address Eileen, they are the conversational equivalent of a Roman phalanx, shields locked and braced to take the charge of cavalry headed at them. In this instance, cavalry happens to be in the form of a five foot tall and wire thin young woman who is hiding a legion behind her eyes.

Some distance behind Eileen, leaning against a solid section of wall with his arms folded across the stocky barrel of his chest is Jensen Raith, who wouldn't be hanging back unless the Englishwoman specifically instructed him to. He makes an effective body guard; his mere presence at the mouth of the tunnel discourages anyone who might interrupt from following her inside, including the lissome silhouette of a brooding Susan Ball.

"No one is going to follow a leader who doesn't take their opinion into consideration," Eileen says, wasting no time with the pleasantries Susan might have used if she'd been just a little bit faster and beaten her to Bennet. "If I didn't put it to vote, we'd be giving people like Ball ammunition to use against us when we call for central organization."

"Which is exactly what I hoped you'd do." Noah explains with a squaring of his shoulders, hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks and chin tilted up, one brow raised as he regards Eileen's slim form, then Jensen beyond her. Scott stays silent, taking another draw off of his cigarette, this time holding in the breath before exhaling out a slow mouthful of languidly drifting smoke. "I wanted to see how you'd handle this situation, and you performed marvelously."

Noah smiles, creasing the corners of his mouth and making that mole on his left cheek dance just a little. "Now I'm sure that Scott and I didn't misplace our faith in you, and it looks like the network agreed to go with the morally right decision. I don't agree that it's the most logical one, but as much as I hate to admit it the objective of this network isn't founded on logic."

There's a twitch of irritation at the corner of Eileen's painted mouth at Bennet's explanation that would be easier to detect in better light, but it's only a fraction of what Melissa is undoubtedly feeling right now. Wherever she is. "I've been working to develop structure for the network since last September and can have documents for you in two weeks. With your approval, I can move on it as soon as the middle of May, but it means distributing power and bringing more lead organizers aboard. I'd have nominated Pierce if she hadn't walked tonight. Sumter's on the short list as well. Ball, to appease her followers. McRae."

There's a faint tilt of her head as if listening to something in the distance that only she can hear. The echo of wing beats fluttering somewhere up ahead of them supports the theory, though whatever it is can't be more important than the issue at hand because she's lifting her chin a moment later. Her quiet tone hasn't changed. "You need people like the pastor in positions where they have more authority than they do now. Let me do this and the next time they hit us, we'll be ready."

"David's too unpredictable," Scott grumbles from where he stands just outside of the conversation, cigarette bobbing up and down between his lips. "David McRae's personality's the kind I dealt with before in the military, you give him more power and it'll so straight to that bald head of his. He's better off the sheep dog than the shepherd. Susan's a switchblade of a woman but she's got good ideas most of the time, I'm fine with seeing her in place. Switch McRae for Beauchamp, I don't care if you have to write her an essay on why she's qualified for the position, she is."

That assertion from Scott has Noah lifting his brows and looking askance at the old soldier. "Abigail?" Noah's glasses gleam faintly, one brow lifted. "Are you absolutely sure that's the wisest idea?" Scott's dark eyes meet Noah's, and looking down at his cigarette to break the stare, Scott nods slowly. "She has connections, I'll admit that much. Alright, a compromise…"

Noah shifts his weight to one foot slowly, looking Eileen up and down. "Sumter and Beauchamp cover the bleeding heart side of the fence, we need another pragmatist to sit on Susan's side of things." There's a furrowing of Noah's brows as he looks to Eileen, and she knows what hes going to say well ahead of things. "I hope you put your own name down on that list, Eileen, otherwise all the grooming that's been going on the last however many months will be for nothing."

Scott nods his head once, slowly, flicking his cigarette butt down into the gravel. "The four've you, and don't count Pierce out yet. At least out of the network… she burned her leadership bridges tonight, but she has all the right in the world to be upset. I'm going to talk to her once she calms down some. She's got Megan's temper."

Mathematics aren't Eileen's strong suit. Fortunately, the calculations she has to make require no assignment of numerical values. "If you switch Beauchamp for McRae, we need Chesterfield. She and the old man have similar views about Moab, and those who follow him are likely to stand behind her as well should it ever become necessary. Do what you can for Pierce, but there are going to be problems if her solution to confronting things that upset her is to pack up and storm out of the room."

At the mouth of the tunnel, the distance between Susan and Raith has narrowed to conversational distance, and although neither Scott nor Bennet can see it, their lips are moving. Considering her stance on former members of PARIAH and the Vanguard, that's a surprise and — at least for Raith — probably not a welcome one. "Gitelman and Matheson should be informed. No one else, especially not the people whose names have been brought up. Have you ever heard of Pollepel Island?"

"Catherine's a sociopath, you do realize this, right?" Scott notes with a lift of his brows, "She's— "

"A perfect candidate." Noah speaks over Scott, eliciting a stare from the soldier. "Add her somewhere between bleeding heart and pragmatic and we have a perfect balance to add to the leadership. I'll talk to Hana and I'm sure Scott will bring this up to Grace as soon as he's back at the Hangar." And by assume oah is giving orders without directly doing so. "I've never heard of it, no, but there's enough little islands all aorund New York that it doesn't surprise me."

"That's upriver, right? The old military fort?" Scott knows what it is, but the New York native's been here in this state longer than most of the buildings, if you believe what the kids at the Hangar say behind his back. "I read an article about the land being bought up by Maxwell Construction a while back, it's been at the back of my mind for a while, that's the kind've place I'm worried the government might try and build a second Moab at— Isolated enough." Scott's not quite on the mark there.

"Leonardo Maxwell purchased it at my request. Childs helped." There's no Cheshire grin to accompany Eileen's statement. Not even a thin, feline smile to accompany the glittering light contained in the gray-green irises of her eyes. Purring smugness: likewise absent. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she hasn't slept in more than twenty-four hours and still recovering from the injuries she received at Cliffside a week ago. More likely, this isn't the kind of company she wants to bat between her paws.

"I have an additional two hundred thousand dollars to make repairs to the property and bring it back up to code. If we keep to the schedule I proposed earlier, we're looking at completion sometime during the summer provided that the snow melts and the ground thaws. We can use it as a network stronghold and a fallback point in case of a city-wide emergency. Because it's fifty miles north on the river and the buildings on the island were erected for the purpose of storing ammunitions, it also makes a perfect location for smuggling supplies into New York by boat."

There's a look shared between Noah and Scott, silently calculating, each of their wheels spinning in different direction and one is clearly trying to tell what the other is thinking despite neither of them being a telepath. "Keep up up to date on its status, and we'll review the viability of it as a fallback location and supply hub once we've at least gotten our heads out of this storm." Scott takes the cue of the weather to bring up one other issue, an elephant in the room for some time now, considering how many people had to brave the ruins of Midtown to get here.

"This whole station might be underwater before you get that island up and running, Ruskin." No, Scott doesn't mean from an apocalyptic tidal wave laying waste to the city of New York, but something almost as wet. "When this snow thaws there's going to be flooding all over the city. There's tunnels west of us that are flooded during the dry parts of the summer, there's a whole highway to our east that's been under three feet of water since the bomb. Once the temperatures rise, we might not have Grand Central to fall back on anymore… this is something we're going to need to play for accordingly."

"Scott's got a point, and I'd wanted to bring it up tonight, but there just wasn't the frame of mind in anyone there for it." Brows furrowed, Noah shifts his weight to one foot and crosses his arms over his chest. "Pumps, barricades, drainage, it's all a good idea but there's too much territory we're going to need to cover. Midtown hasn't had any snow removal done, and I doubt it will before the thaw starts, which means there's a lake over our heads waiting to fill up these tunnels. Keep it in mind… see if you can draft up any contingencies."

"There's the Riverside Hospital on North Brother Island on the East River," Eileen offers. "Closed since nineteen-sixty-three, accessible by boat, but it has to be cleared out before we can utilize it, and even then it's not as secure as the Terminal is. Nothing above ground will be."

Susan and Raith's argument at the mouth of the tunnel is becoming increasingly heated to the point where his voice is beginning to overpower hers and cut rough through the ambiance of the foyer beyond. She makes a move to step past him and enter the tunnel. Finds his hand clutching her arm just above the elbow instead.

Eileen is running out of time. "Your daughter and I worked with a hydrokinetic while we were in Madagascar," she says. "Noriko Amagi. Some of our people may know her from Moab. She might help if I ask."

"Her and Childs." Noah asserts, "See if you can get a lead on her and persuade her to help." Noah catches sight of Susan trying to come down the hall and looks back to Scott, then settles his eyes on Eileen again through those dark-framed lenses. "If you can get you hands on a terrakinetic too, that'd do wonders for us if they can work with concrete, but I'd also like a pony so I won't be disheartened if we run short of idealized help."

"Go tend to your admiring crowd before she says something she'll regret to your bouncer." Scott notes with a rankle of his nostrils, nodding his head once to Eileen before turning to head down the tunnel, both hands lifting up the collar of his winter jacket to the back of his neck. Noah's attention follows Scott for a moment, then settles back on Eileen.

"Don't look her in the eye if you have an argument." Noah adds, reaching out to lightly pat one hand on Eileen's shoulder, "Just treat her like you would any vicious, wild animal and you should be good." The only time Noah fraternizes with co-workers on a joking level is when they start feeling like peers to him. Eileen Ruskin may be young enough to be his daughter, but in a way her level of experience is rapidly approaching his own. It frightens him, in a way, how the children who are born after the bomb, children born in an era of the Ferrymen may be raised.

Backing up from Eileen and offering her a hesitant smile, it that thought of the future generation that makes him think that eventually, maybe there can be peace.

Just likely not in his lifetime.

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