eileen_icon.gif hana_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Reset
Synopsis The clock ticks down to zero over Moab, but Phoenix's attack hits an unexpected snag when intelligence comes in mere hours before go-time.
Date March 31, 2009

Moab, Utah

Dawn was not that long ago, on this the morning of March 31st; the ground is dry and dusty brown, a thin layer of glistening rime clinging to shady patches. The air remains crisply chill, hovering not too far above freezing, though a blindingly turquoise sky promises warmth by the end of the day.

In all directions, all that can be seen are mountains and gullies, sedimentary stone gouged with deep jagged scars by the flow of water. Low, scrubby bushes dot some of the slopes, along with patches of ground-hugging greenery here and there. It's a place where isolation appears certain; being out here is like being the only person in the world.

Except when you're one of three, that is. Hana is not here alone; dressed in the sand-toned fatigues she had thought left behind long ago, the woman sits on an outcrop near the base of a hill, her eyes closed. The focus of her attention is not her companions, nor the handful of things brought with them to ease these last long, watchful hours, but the facility which stands on the other side of that obstacle. She doesn't need to see it to hear — the chatter of walkie-talkies, the sound of voices over intercoms picked up by the same, conversations by cellphone, communicades by email. Each and every bit of it is another page in an open book to Hana, and she's sifting through it all.

Like master, like padawan. Kind of. Either that, or obvious logic had merely led Teo to don the same sturdy khaki camo that the cyberpath is wearing. He is standing up, as per characteristic restlessness.

He's no longer pacing, though there are a few scattered pebbles and geometric pits that match the ridged soles of his shoes in the dust and sand that fill the seams and scars in the rock underfoot. He'd gotten the sense that pacing was annoying the two telepaths. Even if they aren't the sort that can read human minds, it was probably many kinds of annoying and distracting them from work besides. The sky is very far, and the convex and color of it here, of all places, never lets you forget it. Satellites are further, and birds have to work a lot.

Teo, on the other hand. Teo is armed but outwardly idle, waiting, wired on adrenaline and trying not to do anything with his teeth that either of his companions can hear. The air smells of uneasy, stale heat, even when the wind blows it into him. He looks at the ragged desert skyline instead of at his watch.

Eileen, conversely, is dressed in little more than a pair of faded denim jeans, a long-sleeved shirt and a flak jacket worn overtop for additional warmth and protection. The craggy wilds of Utah are a far cry from where she and her companions hail, but she'd be lying if she said she didn't appreciate the change of scenery or the open skies so passionately disparate from the steel and concrete jungle that is New York City.

High above, an eagle with feathers a deep golden hue rides the thermals, coasting in lazy circles on the updrafts as it acts as the young woman's eyes and, to a lesser extent, her ears. Eileen's reach doesn't extend as far as Hana's, though she might argue it shouldn't have to — there's something else in the air, ill-omened and boding unwell. She says nothing.

The omens of the day are bright and cheerful; the sun is warm, and while there's precious little in the way of green grass, the birds are still singing their morning aubades. The facility none of them can see with their own two eyes is anything but; there's a tension inside that comes across despite the impersonal, unemotional medium of 1s and 0s in which Hana receives her perspective of it.

Within the facility, a flurry of orders are abruptly barked across guard radios, causing the technopath to shift position slightly. She angles her head, attention caught by the words spoken. Klaxons begin to blare, attenuated alarms audible even to the Israeli woman's actual ears.

"Eileen?" Hana's tone is quiet, the syllables spoken in a fashion that mutes what could have been a command into a request. She has her form of tact. "What do you see?" Because that part, Gitelman can't do. The cameras are very much closed-circuit.

What. Teo refrains from asking it out loud, though; he wouldn't have expected either woman to answer him at this point, given the intelligence-gathering is the beginning of such discussions and hasn't ended, and it is already reasonably apparent that he is paying attention. He can't see anything from here. Doesn't try shading his eyes or squinting or any ridiculous theatrics about trying to.

His neck bones pop almost audibly when he twists to look at Eileen.

By now, the novelty has worn off, of seeing the ex-Mossad agent correspond briskly with the terrorist cell's erstwhile espionage specialist. The last time Hana had spoken the girl's name, it had been to point out to Teodoro that, if he let her into the basement they were keeping her in, the girl would end up dead.

Whatever Eileen is seeing, she can't be entirely certain of its exact nature — there's a prolonged pause between Hana's request and the answer the younger woman offers her in response several moments later. "They're congregating in the exercise yard," she says in a low murmur as her eyes lid halfway shut, their lashes veiling her pale irises from the glare of the sun. "Uniforms, no prisoners. I can't get a headcount but there are more than the last time. Forty, maybe fifty in rows of ten or twelve. There's gunmetal—"

If she can feel Teo's eyes on her, she gives no outward indication of it. Her attention is elsewhere and has been for the past few minutes. Will continue to be if the klaxons don't cut out on them. "It isn't us. They're focusing inward, not out."

The Israeli woman nods slowly; confirmation. What Eileen says agrees with what she hears — it isn't them. But still… It takes a fraction of a second for her eyes, now open, to find Teo; he moved from when she saw him last. "They'll be… on edge. For a while," she points out. "Alert and waiting." The angle of her face shifts, focus diverted. "At least one message sent off to HomeSec already. Asking for support with… this." Her lips thin; the technopath is mildly frustrated. "They didn't specify what."

Today is perhaps not Phoenix's day.

"Fuck," Teo says, because he is articulate and classy like that. He is scowling, tactlessly as a tot denied sour gummy apple rings before dinner. A rough-skinned hand drags the side of his face, from bottom to top, winds up with long fingers splayed through the ragged, bristly brown growth of his hair. He studies the horizon with eyes a bleaker shade of blue than the smarting aquamarine overhead.

Perhaps today is not Phoenix's day. Alert and waiting isn't the state one wants their quarry to be in. Teo's jaw finds a subtly more stubborn set. If this feeling had a sound, it would probably be the creaking, rustling of a brushfire. "That's a lot of new faces," he observes, flatly. "Possibly not an exploitable distraction."

Eileen has no authority here. Like so many others, she's simply along for the ride, providing assistance where Teo requests it — not out of a misconstrued sense of debt, but rather an honest desire to help. While she can hear their voices above the klaxons, her vision remains limited to what lies directly in the eagle's present line of sight. She lapses once more into silence.

Teo's comments earn little recognition from the woman they're addressed to. If they can be said to have any addressee at all, other than fate, chance, the whims of Murphy. One dark brow arches. "Your show, Laudani." Hana isn't the one calling the shots this time around. She's just along to help with the recon. It doesn't look like the Israeli will need to step on Teo's toes any today — not with this change in circumstance.

There's nothing around here to throw, which might be just as well: Teo finds both both women's respect kind of staples for his continued existence. Or at least necessary for the style to which he is accustomed.

In the end, it's too obvious. Risks outweigh the sacrifices, and the balance of success and failure is tilted at an angle so acute that no theatrical efforts or oomph of morale is going to make an adequate difference. Christ. He stops scratching at his head when the stripes that his nails drag begin to burn too hard.

"I hope whoever fucked them up in there cost them something," he grates out, finally. Pallid eyes turn toward Eileen, pointlessly, before shifting back to the cyberpath. "Could you call them off, Hana?"

Hana inclines her head. "I can." Will. Am. Have. The directive is as swift as disciplined thought, targeted to those waiting in the wings far away. There are complications. Stand down. We'll go in on another day.

"Shall I call Anne in?"

"Si. Two minutes? Once Eileen's ready." Not that there's anything else worth finding, Teo thinks. Not by any avian eyes in the sky, in any case. Whatever events sounded the alarm within the prison's chainlink and gray fortifications, they occurred strictly under those circumstances: inside. Doubtless, yard time has been canceled for the day, leaving those without to wonder. Well.

For Teodoro to, anyway. Eileen and Hana are both likely too well-trained to waste thought and effort on guessing at the otherwise unknowable or else researchable. Some part of him suspects that the doubled guard and higher alert is going to last longer than he can afford to wait. The paranoid part of him that tracks worst case scenarios, frame-by-frame, beside every situation that unfolds in the dimensions of actual reality. Something happened. Maybe it was—

He shakes his head, once, abruptly, hard enough to bounce the soppy stuff of his brain off the walls of his skull and make his vision jiggle behind the lens once, briefly.

"Thanks," he says. He pulls his hand off his rifle to flex five rough fingers, and squares his feet in order to wait.

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