Red Flags


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Scene Title Red Flags
Synopsis A conversation with Desmond Harper raises several for two Company agents when they are asked to perform an unexpected service.
Date June 10, 2010

Fort Hero

The clock on the wall reads 10:13 and while in the concrete confines of Fort Hero, where the subterranean dampness of this decades old facility permeates off of the walls, it may not be obvious that the sun is shining up above, the clock does indeed imply AM rather than PM. It's not long after an encounter with NYPD detective Christopher Nash that two agents of the Company found themselves recalled to Fort Hero by way of administrative lassoo.

The train ride back to Fort Hero across Long Island gave both of the agents some time to reconsider exactly what just happened back out on Manhattan and just how a steaming hot cup of coffee thrown at a police detective seemed like a good idea at the time. Miraculously, it's not that incident that has them recalled, but rather a last-minute scheduling of an interview with both agent Carlos Dante Lupinetti and Isabella Dawson by the Department of Homeland Security's liaison to the Company, one Desmond Harper.

It's in the gray-blue concrete walls of Fort Hero's conference room that the two agents have been requested to wait for Harper's presence, beneath the subtle buzz of fluorescent lights and the electric hum of a wall-mounted LCD television that — while having nothing displayed on it — has not been turned off, giving it that edge of perception electric buzz.

Agents Lupinetti and Dawson were supposed to meet Harper at 10:00am sharp, but with the clock's minute hand ticking over to 10:14, it becomes increasingly obvious that he appears to be late.

This day just keeps getting better and better.

The ride over and Dante's subsequent Talking To gave Isabella time to cool off enough to be civil. Even kind, if she tries really, really hard. But the trip back had been a revelation as Dante had recalled that meeting with Harper they were supposed to be having in just under an hour. Oops! And so it had been a mad dash, back to Fort Hero to get here on time. And they had just barely made it too! … And now the man is late.

Presently, Isa's encouched in one of the chairs in the conference room, a little broody and unfriendly-looking. But with that coffee in her hands, she's mostly mollified as she takes a sip. Warm, caffeinated ambrosia slides past her lips, as she stares holes into the door, waiting for their appointment. They had taken all that effort to get here on time. Couldn't he have done the same? The nerve of some people! Despite her fiery temper, her clothes are nice and bright today, with a lovely low-cut, ruffled orange blouse and a white pencil skirt, miraculously free of coffee despite her previous actions with Detective Nash. Ankles crossed, the new Investigative Agent Dawson waits, mentally pacing on her leash.

Dante is fairly annoyed, as well. But he's holding it in for the sake of politeness. They were almost late, so he's in no position to criticize. Besides, perhaps Harper has good reason for being late. So…patience is the word of the day. Which is good, as someone needs to set an example for Isabella and not set her off.

Dante glances sideways at his partner with a small frown, seeing that impatience in her posture, taking in her low-cut blouse only briefly before looking back towards the door. He's dressed in a casual suit, suspenders and all, with his trenchcoat thrown over the back of his chair. Leaning back, a foot bobs in midair, and he laces his fingers over his lap. There's that ever-present "sharply bored" look to his eyes as he inspects every last grain of wood in that door.

The creak of the conference room door opening comes exactly fifteen minutes past when agent Harper was supposed to be present. It's that very surprised-looking liaison to the Department of Homeland Security that comes leaning through the door crookedly, brows raised and a smile flashed across her face at fifteen minutes past. "Ah, good, you're here! Sorry about the wait, I had a call come in from the home office that couldn't be avoided, you know how it is, right?" There's something of a grimace that Desmond wears as he comes in, fishing a bluetooth headset out of one ear as he walks to sit down on the same end of the table as Isabella and Dante, just across from them.

"So, again, I'm apologizing for things," Desmond begins as he sets the earpiece down on the table. "I didn't mean to make this meeting as last-minute as it is, but there's a lot going on right now and I wanted to get to the two of you in this environment," whatever he means by that, "as soon as possible."

Pulling out a chair to sit, Desmond Harper has no pretenses of handshakes to offer, just a business-first demeanor slightly off-center by his rogueish mannerisms. Hands folded in front of himself on the table, he leans back with a creak into the leather chair and furrows his brows. "I'll be frank with you both, I… don't really think either of you fit in here at the Company."


As the door creaks its way open, Isabella straightens, annoyance still on her features but at least soothed slightly by the man's arrival. She doesn't stand, or offer a hand, especially since he doesn't offer one himself. With a glance to Dante, she doesn't respond to his apologies, instead keeping a somewhat cold, unamused smile on her face as her pretense of being glad to talk to this man. Dante can handle all the niceties.

She sips her coffee, watching him with sharp eyes over the brim of her cup. But when he hits them with that sentiment, her eyes narrow and she sets the cup down on the table a little abruptly. There's a pause, before she offers, "Is that so? And what makes you say that, Harper?" No sirs, no misters. Just Harper.

Dante joins Isabella in sitting up straight, banishing the slump in his posture that a long wait brings. His coolly lined face turns into a polite smile as he reseats himself, preparing for the meeting. "Quite alright, we've both been in the same boat before." Listening politely, Dante nods along to their superiors words… And yet, he's caught by surprise by that last remark. Dante? Being caught by surprise? That's new. His lips part, but Isabella asks the question that's on his mind, and so he just sits forward instead, fixing Harper with a very studying gaze.

"You're professionals," Harper explains with his hands unlacing and spreading wide in a broad gesture, "which is to say my own personal assessment of many elements of the Company aren't always as favorable. I got a chance to look at both of your files while I've been here, and I have to say I'm impressed wit your track records, and I just…" Harper breathes out a soft breath and leans to rest his head against one hand, fingers massaging his forehead.

"I wanted to ask the both of you what draws you to the Company." He motions with his free hand backa nd forth between Dante and Isabella across the table. "What about the organization's setup attracts you to the work, where do you think there could be room for improvement, and…" he offers a faint smile, "I guess most importantly, where do you see yourselves in let's say a year's time with the Company?"

Isabella's eyes narrow at the questions as she studies the man, with all his gestures. She takes another draw on her coffee as she keeps staring at him, as though channeling Dante's powers of insight to gain a foothold in Harper's psyche. Finally, she sets her cup down.

"The Company does good work," Isabella finally says. "I want to get those unknown Evolved accounted for. And I like…" And here she spins her cup on the table a little, fingers helping it along its route. "…their methods."

Dante turns his gaze from Harper to Isabella, worried perhaps? His knuckles tighten against each other and he taps his wrist lightly on the table. Whatever it seems he was worried about, it doesn't come to pass, as he looks back from Isabella to Harper. No smile this time.

"I came to the Company because I felt I could do my best work here. You've read my file so you understand why I could eventually become something of a persona non grata among the force." Danta unlaces his fingers and briefly inspects his palms. "As for how to improve things, I won't pretend to understand why the Company does what it does, on the deepest level. If I note anything that definitely needs improvement, I can send you an email, if you like."

Slowly nodding his head, Desmond's eyes drop down to stare at his hands when he folds them together on the table top again before he slouches forward in his seat. "An email, I… you know I think I'd like that Carlos." There's a flash of a smile from Harper, "if you see anything that really could use shoring up, I'd like you to let me know, I'd consider it a personal favor that I'd owe you."

Then, with a smile diminishing, he tilts his head down and nods once more. "You know, I'll give the Company credit that they had done a good job in the pre-bomb world. But, I think what we're living in for a world requires slightly different… methods?" There's an intention search for the proper words, a means of seeming uncertain despite that Desmond Harper is a man who knows exactly what he's getting at. Dante can already tell that the coy demeanor here is an act, but what's behind it isn't quite certain.

"When I looked at your files," Harper explains with a dip of his head, "I saw two very dedicated and hard-working agents, one of whom possesses a singularly unique investigative capability if I may add." There's a motion to Dante at that commendation before Harper leans back in his chair again, crossing one leg over the other.

"Why do you think that the Company didn't have you on the internal investigation about the mishandling of Company assets and personnel leading up to the bomb?" It's an accusation more than a question. "Do you think there's any reason why you weren't assigned to the assessment team that was sent in to Ground Zero to analyze the explosion and determine what exactly had happened?"

There's a frown that crosses Harper's lips. "I think that you both enjoy your time here with the Company because there isn't a better alternative." He leaps away from the thinly veiled accusations to something entirely more dangerous. "What if I told you that there was an alternative, and that I think that the two of you have caught certain administrator's eyes?"

Isabella listens intently, eyes on the man. It seems Harper certainly knows how to get Isa's attention, at least. Her beginning indifference, or even hostility, starts to transition into interest, if that gleam in her eye is anything to go by. And why weren't they put on those teams? Why weren't they utilized to their fullest extent? It's the minutest twitch of an eyebrow, the slight darkening in her eyes, that hints at that little indignant spark of betrayal.

And finally, her gaze has gone the full gamut, from suspicious all the way to intently interested, though it's remained an intense look nonetheless. There's a long moment of consideration as she rests her fingers on her coffee cup, but for the first time today, there's a ghost of a smile on her lips. "I'd tell you I'd be interested."

"I always suspected we were still in the process of proving ourselves," Dante says simply to the first question, his shoulders twitching in a small shrug, though the small frown on his face says he shares some of the thoughts with Isabella, "Whether the Company wished to trust us with access to sensitive information at that time was their decision." The accusation gets a brief raise of Dante's eyebrows, but no argument is forthcoming. He does, however, lean forward when Harper brings up that other alternative. "I'm listening." Always the eloquent one, Dante.

"I'm going to lay something on the table, right now, that I would ideally like kept in this room and between the three of us if possible." There's a quiet in Harper tone that borders on conspiratorial. "There's a growing suspicion within the United States Government that believes that there has not only been a certain level of impropriety but also conspiracy within the echelons of the Company with the intent to do harm to the people's of the United States." There's a certain severity to Harper's voice that goes understated, conspiracy talk leveled smooth as silk in hushed, conversational tones.

"I'm not just here in the interests of performing my liaison capacity for the Department of Homeland Security. Sure, interdepartmental cooperation goes a certain distance, but I'm here to follow up on accusations of a certain caliber that the words dire do not fully manage to convey their seriousness." Rubbing the palm of his hands together, Desmond looks over his shoulder to make sure he closed the door, then back to Dante and Isabella.

"There's no actionable evidence yet, but the governmental agency I work for," which is to imply he's not just a Homeland Security agent, "has reason to believe that the upper echelons of the Company may have been either in part or fully responsible for the tragedy that happened on November 8, 2006 either through knowing negligence or active conspiracy to create fear and destruction."

Furrowing his brows, Harper offers both Isabella and Dante an intent look. "I want to know what you think about that."

At the request for secrecy, Isabella nods curtly, impatient to get to the real part. And as he speaks quietly, she leans in, fire in her gaze— for once, not because she's angry, but because she's just that curious.

As he goes on, there's no surprise that he's not just a HomeSec agent: no one, it seems, is just a HomeSec agent. But it's the accusation that gets her brows to shoot up, disbelief in her eyes. "No— it was Sylar. …Wasn't it?" Slowly those brows knit and lower, and she stares intently at Harper right back. "I'd like to know more, is what I think. I would like to fucking kill whoever thought that was a bright idea, is what I think. If that's what you're investigating, count me in."

That…certainly wasn't something Dante was expecting. A conspiracy? What? As Harper goes on, Dante's face reads plainly as more and more amazed. The "no actionable evidence" remark gets a mild snort from him. Not yet there isn't. At the very end, Dante seems a little dubious.

"I think this sounds very similar to the conspiracy theories that were flying around about the US government shortly after the Bomb dropped." He doesn't seem to be sharing Isabella's enthusiasm. "I think I'd like to know exactly how you expect we can be of help, sir." Oh, he knows how they can be of help. But he wants to hear it from a superior's mouth.

"We have every reason to believe it was Sylar, yes." Harper notes with a nod of his head, "but whether or not he was manipulated or whether the Company simply allowed this to happen for untold reasons has yet to be determined. I believe that there are elements within your organization that may have had a great deal to benefit from the destruction, but again, that's just conjecture." Harper only then addresses Dante, affixing him with an intent look that has much more scrutiny than Isabella's very rapidly assessed eagerness.

"I'd like you to keep an ear to the ground and…" there's a crack of a smile from Harper, "if you see something that worries you, send me an email. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't want to pit agent against agent with some unfounded concerns in case there is nothing going on, but… there was a case that the Company investigated, just last month, right before you both were brought on to the Investigations team."

Leaning forward, Harper offers a look back and forth between the two agents. "An agent the Company had believed was killed in the 2006 explosion, Akado Ichihara, turned up and went rogue. He was responsible for an attack here at Fort Hero that cost the lives of several agents, and according to reports of the investigation I've read claimed that he believed Company upper echelon were responsible for the bomb. Now, whether Ichihara had proof, or exactly what happened… I'm not certain."

Rolling his tongue over the inside of his cheek, Harper arches his brows, "But the Ichihara case was closed by Company higher-ups, and… well let's just say I think that some agents may have wanted to continue that unofficial investigation on their own." Narrowing his eyes, Harper tilts his head to the side. "All I ask is that you maybe keep an eye out, and if things come up you keep me abreast, that's all. Then…" he motions across the table sweepingly, "if things change and I feel the need to talk to you again, we sit down and discuss things out in the open."

When Harper's hands come back together he offers the two agents a smile and a raise of his brows. "I think you two are just the people for this sort've work, and I think— I hope— that you're willing to consider the possibilities, and help me get to the bottom of this without raising too many red flags."

Isabella nods slowly and then falls back into her chair to chew on one thumb nail while she thinks, eyes never leaving Harper. "You've opened a new book, Mister Harper," she saysis that a purr in her voice? Almost. "And I intend on reading it. I'll keep that eye out. We'll"and here she pauses to give Dante a significant 'you'd better' look—"keep that eye out. Whatever we find, you'll know."

Dante returns Isabella's look with one of uncertainty himself. Certain uncertainty, like something just doesn't smell right to him. "I understand your concern, sir, but you have to realize that this can put us in a very bad spot if we're not careful. Just to be sure I'm understanding you…you're asking us to act as moles among our employers?"

"I wouldn't use the word mole," Harper offers with a grimace that fades into a smile, "it has less than upstanding implications, but I am asking you to serve in an informant capacity." Lacing his fingers together in his lap when he settles back with a creak of leather against his chair again, Harper looks down and then lifts his hands, steepling his fingers in front of his mouth as he considers something in silence, eyes focused downward.

"I trust you to act with discretion," is what he finally choses to offer when he looks up to the two agents. "You don't need to take any risks you're not comfortable with, I wouldn't ask that of you, but I'd ask— specifically— that you try to get on the good side of agent Veronica Sawyer. She's something of a loose cannon and seems to have her fingers in a lot of very questionable places, and if you find it possible to lean in to whatever side projects she's working on, that would be preferable."

Though the shrug Harper offers has a somewhat dismissive quality to it. "But again, only put yourself in for however much you feel comfortable doing. All I want to do is look out for the people of this country and do the job I was assigned to do, beyond that… I have no other agenda."

Isabella takes a few moments as she nibbles her nail to absorb that information. The mention of Agent Sawyer, however, makes her gaze darken a little. "We'll do what we can," she says with a little grumpy doubt. "I don't think she likes us very much at present." And, suffice to say, making friends is not Isabella's strong suit. She looks to Dante again, scrutinizing his reactions.

"Wouldn't either," Dante says cooly, drawing fingers over his cheek and resting his chin in his palm. "However, this strikes me as something that our superiors could be very unhappy to find out we're a part of. Discretion or not, last I recalled, the Company still has mind-readers in its ranks. Or at least, it should be assumed to have them."

"Regardless, no matter how much we put into this effort, we will be putting our careers in danger. And possibly our lives, depending on what we find. So I suppose what I'm asking is…" Dante smiles wryly to the man sitting across the table. "How will we be compensated if we take on this activity? As much as I do enjoy working here at the Company, it is all still a job."

Smiling fondly, Harper rises up from his chair and pushes it back with his legs as he does. "The Company is currently surprisingly short-staffed on telepaths, all things considered. I wouldn't worry too much about that, agent Lupinetti." Though the question of just compensation does elicit something of a grin from Desmond as he slides his hands into the pockets of his slacks and parts his longcoat aside to do so.

"Let's just say that if your time with the Company comes to an abrupt close, there's a future in the Department of Defense waiting for the both of you, depending on the quality of your work and the manner in which you conduct yourselves." Offering an askance look to Isabella, Harper leans forward and plucks his bluetooth headset up off of the table and affixes it to his right ear again.

"Was there anything else?" He asks with all the certainty of a man who feels to have covered all the bases.

The question of compensation does get an intrigued look from Isabella. Oh yeah, that. That would be smart. Her gaze zeroes back in on Harper for his answer, which is apparently satisfactory, as she smiles broadly. Only Isa can smile like a shark and still look pretty (if frightening). "That will do me just fine, Mister Harper," she says coolly, looking to Dante.

Dante certainly seems quelled by that, judging by the slow smile that spreads over his face. "One of the reasons that I joined the Company was they provided discretion about some of our particular abilities. I hope the Department of Defense can be just as discreet." With that, Dante rises to his feet, leaning across the table to offer a handshake. "It still didn't answer my question of compensation, but it's good to know we have a safety net. It was good to meet you, Mr. Harper."

Satisfied either with himself or the conversation — or more likely a healthy combination of both — Harper offers a nod to both agents. "I can tell you that if I'm certain of only one thing as of this meeting," there's a sly smirk that slides across Harper's lips, "it's that when it comes to the Department of Defense and the organization within it that I represent here at the Company, there's nothing that we handle better than discretion."

Lifting both of his brows and turning a smirk into a smile at that comment, Harper turns to offer his profile to the agents and looks to the door, then back to them. "It's been an illuminating conversation agent Lupinette," a nod to Dante, "Dawson," then to Isabella. "I look forward to hearing your reports."

Who says there's no such thing as interdepartmental cooperation?

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