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Scene Title Reputations
Synopsis Both General Autumn and Tracy Strauss both have them, and they aren't always favorable.
Date June 13, 2009

Washington D.C.

Complications are growing. Plots are being made. Everything is at risk. And Tracy Strauss still needs to do her job for a man she doesn't trust - does she trust any of them anymore? Did she ever, really? She's questioning that now as she waits outside the General's office. It's late, but people like this, like he and her, are always working late. There is, of course, much to work on.

With a name comes a meeting. It's really that simple. A few calls were made and, of course, the General will see the president's woman. As in, the woman working for the president - not anything more complicated than that, surely! So that's where the night finds her, waiting to be let in to discuss FRONTLINE's implementaiton, in a navy dress and blazer, pearls gleaming about her throat.

At this hour of night, the General's office is hardly as busy as it is during the day, his tired looking receptionist having buzzed Tracy in to the old warhorse without so much as a word, save for a dishonest smile and a polite hello. The office of General Sebastian Autumn is something that speaks volumes of the man's character; where normally a photograph of the President would reside behind his desk, there is a black and white photograph of the beaches of Normandy, with a narrow case containing a variety of medals set adjacent to his flag.

The General isn't at his desk either, his casual greeting comes from near a pair of tall and old bookshelves set on either side of a window overlooking the lights of D.C. "I'll admit I was surprised to hear you come knocking at this hour, Miss Strauss," he turns, cradling a short glass half full of a dark amber-colored liquor inside, "what brings you around these parts at this hour?"

Tracy offers an equally dishonest smile to the receptionist, never being one to allow herself to be beaten at a political game - even one so simple as a smile. She breezes into the room, no sign of tiredness bearing down in her eyes or stature, instead she stands in the center of the room and crosses her arms, watching the General with a bit of a different smile - more political, more like she's got a secret.

"No rest for the wicked," she responds to the General, nodding her head. "And there's nothign more wicked than being in someone's office late at night to talk about the lines of communication. FRONTLINE is expected to pass, that's my understanding. So next comes the implementation stages."

"Ah, hot on the heels of the Security Council I see." Sebastian cracks a humorless smile, bringing the glass to his lips for a sip before turning to wander across the room back in the direction of his desk. "I just had a meeting with the Vice President yesterday after the Security Council ran up one side of me and down the other about FRONTLINE's application. I got word from Mitchell himself that your boy Petrelli is putting his signature on this." One weathered hand comes up to scratch at the side of Autumn's nose.

"We discussed some draft picks," this smile is a bit more jovial, "I dropped a few names, he dropped a few names, we met somewhere in the middle. Mitchell's got his golden-boy lined up to lead the first team set to go in the initial state that the Initiative will run in, that being Petrelli's hometown."

"Being vague may be very nice for Brian Williams, General, but I'm afraid I'm going to need more than that, including authorization on what I am and am not allowed to specify. People will be asking questions." At the mention of President PEtrelli she starts, internally, but her ice-cold exterior still remains. She doesn't move, save for a swivle of her head to follow the General as he steps about.

"Where are they going, what are they doing, the people of New York will want these answers."

Breathing out a heavy sigh, Autumn tilts his head to the side, "Looks like I should've taken your reputation more into account, it seems." There's another long swallow from the General's glass, and the old man comes to lean his hip against his desk, gesturing towards Tracy with his glass in one hand. "New York is the test of the Frontline Initiative, from what Mitchell and I have discussed, we'll be drawing up a lot of five for the initial team, headed up by USMC Second-Lieutenant Michael Spalding," that surname sounds particularly familiar to Tracy, but it's hard to place. "Mitchell's got a pair in mind, and I have a handful of others I'd like to see run on with the show. An oversight committee's been formed, and a representative from the CIA's Special Activities Division is going to be their administrative overseer."

Swallowing down the last of his scotch, General Autumn levels a steady and inquisitive stare on Tracy. "Exactly how far up my ass were you intending on sniffing with this? Because if you're looking for a press-release, you know full well that'll be forthcoming after the bill passes. We're not jumping the gun on this one."

"If I wanted a press-release, sir, I would write one. That's certainly not what I'm here for." She smiles politely to him, crossing her arms just under her bust - as much as it is - and continues to speak. Her sly, political smile, that one that boarders on secret mixed with flirtation, remains steadfast. "But things leak. You can't promise that they won't. I don't want to get caught on the podium with my pants down. Telling me is the safest thing you can do, I can protect you from nosy reporters. So all I'm asking is for you to help me protect you and the President. This will be released when we are ready for it to be."

There's a slow, tired ond from the General as he regards his distorted reflection in the bottom of his glass. "Unit One's base of operations hasn't been chosen yet, but we're courting a few properties to refurbish as their central headquarters. Their primary goal once instated will be the protection of New York City from the Evolved threat," the evolved threat, "but I think you and I both know that there's only so much smoke and mirrors you can play before the people get to wondering."

Moving around to stand behind his desk, Autumn settles his empty glass down with a clunk on the wood. "Unit One will ultimately be involved in Operation Black Lantern," he flips through a folder open on his desk, turning over loose pages of a document. "They are going to be tasked with the reclamation of Staten Island — in whole — by the United States Military. Frontline will be the masthead of the operation. Now we already have assets down in the area, unofficially, and they're going to be working with Unit One in order to soften the area up for the reclamation process. Undoubtedly there will be lethal force necessary, but with Staten Island blocked out the way it is, we can control the media coverage to out liking." His eyes upturn to Tracy, stern and cold, "That's what we have down the pipe."

Tracy nods, walking closer, glancing down at the documents as he flips through them, but certainly not enough to read anything. "Video cameras are as small as cell phones these days, one can never be too sure. Who are the candidates for this first wave of FRONTLINE?" A very important question, to be sure.

Autumn arches one brow slowly, staring Tracy down with a narrow focus, then looks back to the papers. "I already told you that Spalding is set to be the lead." He reaches for dossiers beneath the folder, "These are the people combined from Mitchell's lists and my own, it's not the full dossier yet, we're not entirely settled on two positions. "Ruth Crow Dog, she served in Iraq from 2004 to 2006 — supply technician. In 2006 she was pulled out of active duty, quietly, as it was discovered she possessed a unique asset of value to the United States Military. She's now registered with the ability of animal telepathy. She is tapped to be FRONTLINE's intelligence operative."

The dossier is tossed over, revealing the photograph of a young woman with long, dark hair in fatigues. "Next is Juliette Wright, part of the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence. She has been assigned to fear-east engagements with SIGINT against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Her registered ability is Lingual Intuition. She's our communications specialist."

That dossier is thrown out next, another ethnic woman, clearly either they're trying to dip their hand into the political-correctness bag, or they don't have many candidates to choose from. "Lastly so far we have Tristian Bentley. Army infantry, long and clean military record. His ability of Tactile Telekinesis makes him a perfect choice for Frontline's weapon's specialist." Tiristian's dossier shows the photograph of a blonde-haired and blue-eyed American boy, the kind you'd expect from these sorts of draft picks.

There's a furrowing of Autumn's brow as he pulls out the last folder, "And… since you may want to know this," on top of Tristian's dossier, one that depicts a man with dark hair cropped into a buzz cut dressed in desert fatigues. "Michael Spalding, USMC Second-Lieutenant. He was honorably discharged due to medical reasons following a death in his family. He's our golden boy, but the skeletons in his closet are about the size of the Lincoln Memorial."

A photograph is added to the top of the dossier in a toss. It shows a young man, very similar in appearance to Michael. "Cameron Spalding, his dead brother, was the leader of the terrorist organization PARIAH."

Tracy raises her eyebrows at the man, looking back to the photo as she reaches forward to pick it up. "That is…quite a skeleton, as you say." Her eyes dart up from the photograph to the General once more. "I'm assuming you're vouching for him personally? Or someone is?" Whatever makes him golden isn't her business. Just having someone to eat the asphalt if he goes bad is what is important. "Non-Evolved will be furious over this once it gets out, which it will if the members of FRONTLINE are made public. But I can make it work."

"Both Mitchell and I have vetted him. Our liason in the CIA has already cleared him with us, and we're just waiting on her to make the offer to him." Offer, he says, as if there was any chance of 'no' being accepted. "Spalding is the linchpin of Unit One. His ability is Reactive Adaptation, and I don't think you'll have ever heard of it before. We have no recorded instance of an ability like this anywhere, and with Spalding's military background…" Autumn tilts his head down, "an invincible soldier is exactly the edge we need on an unpredictable battlefield."

Closing the folder with all of the dossiers now gone, Autumn looks up to Tracy with a pensive stare. "We still have to narrow down the field of choices on the Medical and Logistics officers. But I'll have that informatin to your office as soon as we know it. We're hoping to use the Spalding family secret as a point of promise for us, and I know spin-doctors like yourself will be able to get it working."

Tracy smiles, nodding easily. "I am the best at what I do, General. Thank you for being so candid." She offerings her hand to him. "I expect we'll be seeing more of each other soon enough."

There's a bit of a sigh of resignation at that point, followed by a slow nod of his head. "Well, when you say it like that, Miss Strauss…" his lips creep up into a lopsided smile. "Now if you don't mind, I'd like to get ready to head home for the night, before my wife wonders why I'm late for dinner."

Tracy nods, lowering her hand from him. "Of course. I'll be in touch." With that she turns, heading for the door with an easy stride, one hand on her purse as the other reaches toward the doorknob.

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