Scorched Earth Policy


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Scene Title Scorched Earth Policy
Synopsis The probability predictor has finished as much of his math as he can. He calls a meeting with Phoenix to let them know what's been done and what needs to be done, before he open the floor for discussion. Fire and explosives bear mentioning, and teams begin to form.
Date January 7, 2008

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

Freezing rain patters against tall, boarded-up windows facing one of the ruined streets that once cut through the heart of Midtown manhattan. Dim shafts of gray light filter thorugh the spacing between the boards, shedding a faint ambient light over a long table covered with open encyclopdeias, textbooks, charts, maps and loose pages of paper. Several chalkboards have been rolled u pto form a semi-circle around the table, each filled with a labyrinth of mathematical equations, graphs and diagrams in messy handwriting.

As the cold wind outside blows against the side of the building, the sheets of plastic covering the boarded-up windows flex and crackle with the change of air pressure, a noise that punctuates the silence of the library's stacks like a gunshot. It's been this way for weeks now, ever since the physicist from MIT, Edward Ray, took up residence in the unfinished and remote back offices of the New York Public Library, headquarters of Phoenix.

Secluding himself like some mythological sage, he has refused meetings, turned away invitations to talk, and accepted intelligence reports in written-form only. Having sealed himself away, the weary statiscian changed his method of operation only last night. A message was delivered to both of the young leaders of this freedom-fighting organization, a simple note scrawled on a napkin to each;

"We need to talk."

By the early afternoon, when the freezing rain began, and the winds started to pick up in the city, it was clear that Edward meant "we" in a much broader sense. Charts have been rolled out on a pair of library tables arranged in the center of the stacks, the pair pushed together and piled upon with information. Even when members of the organization start showing up to his "office", Edward is still working; mumbling to himself while cross-referencing a laptop, adding notations and figures onto one of the chalk boards. Beyond them, in the deeper recesses of the stacks, several large white sheets have been hung like curtain dividers to conceal something in the back of the room.

Judging from the seats arranged around the tables, Edward may have been expecting everyone. Perhaps he should have made that clearer, or perhaps he knew just who would show up if he didn't…

Not everyone Helena would like to have here is actually here, but she's pleased she was able to convince who she did. Walking is difficult for her, and she got yelled at lots, but someone found an old rickety wheelchair, and a few of the nicknames that have been flying around as a result include Hotwheels and Speedracer. She takes in those arriving, gives them smiles that would totally suggest nothing horrible happened the night before at all, and turns herself attentively toward Dr. Ray.

Conrad's opted for calling Helena "Oracle" and won't elaborate too much. If he even has to. He stands around with his arms crossed looking bored and expectant, and isn't sitting at the table or its seats. He yawns.

Ben ducks in, damp about the shoulders and head, jacket on over his EMT uniform. Just got off a shift. He takes a moment to just give the room a big eyeball. That's a lot of chalkboards.

Teo is here too. Where he's supposed to be, for once, rather than lurking out in the winter and the peripheral of a vast telephone network, somewhere. He managed to show up early enough that his body temperature has achieved levels comfortable enough for him to shed his jacket and a sweater, leaving him in… another sweater. Seated in a chair, novelly enough, he keeps his hands off the table and his feet nearby instead of his characteristic sprawl. He takes his eyes off the chalkboards long enough to see Ben enter. He lifts his chin in greeting, before hunkering his shoulders up around his ears.

She doesn't speak a word as she steps into the room where Doctor Ray has set up for his presentation. The jean clad Cat is without coat, having left it with her guitar and backpack in the room she uses for archery and other exercises. Hair is held back into a ponytail, her face and eyes calmly focused. She carries no notepad, no means of recording anything said here save her own brain. The insufferable Harvard man is looked at for only a moment before she resumes taking it all in. Conrad and Teo are nodded toward once.

"Don't let me bore you if you'd rather be putting some glass in these windows, Mister Wozniak." Edward's voice has a nasally, almost wary timbre to it, making him constantly seem a touch whining when he speaks. But his expression doesn't quite match the sound of his voice, letting large eyes move to settle on Conrad from where they were once focused on the chalkboard. He smiles, disingenuously, and settles his piece of chalk down in the metal tray at the bottom of the rolling board.

"Well," Brushing chalk-dust off of his hands, Edward lowers his eyes and scans the table for a moment. One of the charts laid out is a map of Manhattan, though it doesn't seem to detail streets of buildings, but rather some sort of grid or network, perhaps electrical. "At least Miss Dean and Mister Laudani made it." The weary looking scientist makes his way to the head of the table, pulling out his chair with a scuffing sound before settling down, eyes always focused on the screen of the laptop in front of him.

"The primary reason I decided to call you all here, isn't a social event." He brings one hand up and turns the laptop around, revealing an open notepad document with a list of names. "I've gone through your database, and given recent events that have been brought to my attention," his eyes track to Helena, "I've had to update it. But…" From across the table it's hard to read the small print, to read just what the list is before the laptop is turned around.

"I've been working on a plan of action against a series of variables that, frankly, are so obscure it makes putting anything down as a commitment dangeerous. What we know," Edward rises from his chair so soon after sitting down in it, wringing his hands together, "is that a viral attack will be deployed on New York City at an undetermined point in time. News given to me indicates that all major above-ground arteries leading to and from Manhattan will be severed prior to or during this event, likely to prevent law-enforcement and emergency services from hindering the operation."

Edward moves over to one of the charts, motioning to it. "This is a map of the steam tunnels that run through New York City, providing heat to a vast majority of the city, and also expelling untol volumes of steam daily into the ruins due to pipe damage. While theese mains are disengaged currently, an attempt by the Vanguard to deploy the virus through the steam pipes would reach all of Manhattan with little ability to prevent it." He traces one of the pipes to its source, "They originate at a location known as the Consolodated Edison Power Plant." Edward's eyes move to Cat, then Helena. "The very location depicted in the photograph of myself, Mister Petrelli, and Miss Ruskin." His brows raise slightly, "I find that no coincidence."

There's little for Helena to say. She's listening. Her hands knead slowly along the arms of the wheelchair, but otherwise, she's riveted to Edward.

Just to mess with Edward, Conrad mimics his voice pitch-perfect and says, "Can I call you Doctor Eddie?" But he keeps standing there, smirking. And watching. And most of this seems like Greek to him. That much is evident from the look on his face. He has nothing intelligent to offer on the diagram or presentation, or lecture, or whatever one chooses to call it. Or at least if he does have anything intelligent to offer, he keeps it to himself.

Ben nods to Teo and anyone else that happens to glance his way; he rests his hands in his pockets, listening intently, brows knitted with concern and lips pressed together.

Predictably, Teo colors faintly when he's mentioned. These notes seem consistent with what they've learned thus far, between dream prophesies and Matt Parkman's electronic transmissions, the former intelligence somewhat more widely dispersed among the operatives here than the latter. His fingers tighten slightly at his sides, an almost-spoken prompting a quiet click of his teeth. Afterward.

As he speaks, a newspaper article comes back into her mind's eye, and Cat reads it again.

QUEENS — Just after 10:00pm Eastern Daylight Time, New York Police and Rescue were alerted by means of networked alarms to an emergency situation at the Consolodated Edison Power Plant. When police arrived, they discovered the bodies of Juan Carlos Rivieria, 26, Evolved, and Michael Garland, 24, Non-Evolved inside along with the bodies of seven on-duty security guards and eight members of the Consolodated Edison night staff.

Further damage was seen at the security office of the power plant where, according to initial reports, an improvised explosive was detonated, taking the lives of six security workers maintaining the plant overnight.

Police and Homeland Security were dispatched to the scene. It is believed that two of the perpetrators, scene on surviving video surveillance footage, were former members of thee now defunct Pro-Evolved terrorist organization PARIAH, which was taken down by a joint NYPD effort earlier last month.

A third un-named accomplice to the two, who was not found at th scene is described to be an african american male in his mid to late 30s, roughly seven feet tall and 300 to 350 pounds. The Department of Homeland Security will be releasing portion of the video footage later today.

Anyone with information to the nature of this attack is encouraged to report directly to the NYPD information hotline featured at the end of this article.

Her eyes widen and the features sharpen, making it obvious, perhaps, that the mention of Consolidated Edison has triggered something for her, struck a note of familiarity and recognition. "I think they've already begun that effort."

Edward pauses, just for a moment to give Conrad an askance glance, then smiles in an oddly knowing manner as he looks back down to the steam pipes. His focus slowly turns to Cat, then, at her assessment. "You do not fail to impress me with your capacity for clarity." It's the first sign of something resembling praise to come from Edward, and it is notably as sterile sounding as her father's was. "The probaility of using the steam pipes as one method of deployment are high. However, we know that mortar launchers were purchased by Kazimir Volken's organization, likely for the express purpose of launching the viral attack. Given the recent and unlikely PARIAH-related attack on Consolodated Edison, I cannot rule out the chance that the Vanguard will attempt to disseminate the virus through multiple means, which in turn presents the necessity for Phoenix as a whole to work in small groups in order to assure presence at multiple possible locations."

Moving away from the map of the steam pipes, Edward walks over to one of the chalk boards, eyeing a formula on it before looking over to Teo. "I have assembld a list of membership of Phoenix, based on information maintained on the laptop I borrowed." There's a hesitant smile, and Edward slides his hands into the pockets of his wrinkled slacks. "I've taken the librty of dividing the membership of Phoenix into teams, ones designed to have individual leadership and independant capacity for action. The going notion is that we may not have an advanced warning when the virus attack comes, so having people forewarned and forearmed to confront it by means of knowing who to contact and rally with is essential." Overstepping his boundaries as an unofficial advisor only begins to describe the things Edward seems to be planning.

"These teams, ideally, are comprised of complementary skill-sets and backgrounds, allowing the involved members to have freedom of movement in the event of a viral attack. The goal of each team is to confront and neutralize Vanguard presence in whatever area you are called to operate in." Edward tilts his head to the side, looking to Helena as he does. "Some members of Phoenix will be retained into a reserve unit designed for the explicit purpose of direectly confronting Kazimir Volken himself. The… details of this plan are still forthcoming."

As he moves around the table, Edward stops at one of the chalk boards, rolling it around to reveal the back side, where a hand-written list of names are printed more clearly than the scribbles on the other boards:

Group 0 (Independant Information Gathering) - Daniel Partington
Hana Gitelman
Owen Whitcomb
Romero Laudani

Group 1 - Diego Smith (Team Leader)
Elvis Shepherd
Brian Fulk

Group 2 - Teodoro Laudani (Team Leader)
Monica Dawson
Brian Fulk

Group 3 - Conrad Wozniak (Team Leader)
Ygraine FitzRoy
Brian Fulk

Group 4 - Jesse Alexander Knight (Team Leader)
Catherine Chesterfield
Brian Fulk

Group 5 - Elisabeth Harrison (Team Leader)
Owen Whitcomb
Brian Fulk

Omega Team - Helena Dean (Team Leader)
Abigail Beauchamp
Brian Fulk

Edward folds his arms, looking to the small group assembled, "They may seem haphazardly arranged," There's a proud look on his face, something smug, something knowing. "But I assure you all," He dips his head down, moving away from the chalk board, "There's a reason for all of their placements."

Helena leans forward, grimacing in irritation as she does but commenting, "Daniel's had to leave the city." (OOC: He's retired due to inactivity) "I haven't seen Samir of late, but that might be school. And Abby…there's absolutely no garuntee that she'll work with us."

Pointing at the board, Conrad complains with slight interest, "I get Ygraine? Oh, she's a cutie." Because that's what matters, how cute your team members are.

Ben grimaces at the part about the laptop. Visibly. List, from a laptop. He reaches up to rub his face with one hand, keeping silent.

While his eyes descend the list, Teo's shoulders fall too; he straightens, leans forward to see better, though he hasn't been reading enough for there to be anything wrong with his eyes. He's too young to be ironic or coy about paying attention if the situation doesn't warrant it. He manages to keep his face still while processing, and when he finally reaches the bottom of the columned text, he looks up at Edward. "There's a high chance that people outside of Phoenix are going to want to get involved.

"Possibly, irrespective of whether or not we want them there or plan it. Elisabeth's co-workers at SCOUT, Parkman's boys with HomeSec, and a number of independent operators who have a variety of skills and have earned varying levels of trust. Do you think you'd have ideas about where to put them?" False leads and red herring come to mind, but Teo lets his question end there. To oversimplify, he's generally happier the more people there are who want to kill this situation's face off.

Her reply to Doctor Ray's damnation by faint praise is as sterile as the words he spoke. Cat simply nods in acknowledgment. Her eyes wander on to the information he uncovers and record it in full, lingering at the team to which she was assigned. Jesse Alexander Knight. Then they move on to the rest, and settle upon Teo as he speaks. She doesn't appear to have anything to add or subtract from the assessment he gives.

Grimacing slightly, Edward just gives a faint look to Helena at her comment, and circles around to the next chalkboard. "I'm glad you've made aquaintence with Miss FitzRoy." Edward shifts his focus to Conrad at that, rolling around the next blackboard to reveal an unfolded street-level map of New York City, affixed to the corkboard backing of this particular blackboard, marked with colored pins. "Having estimated the areas of activity of each of our full-time members, I designed the groups to help coordinate that availability. Some individuals," Edward glances to Ben for a moment, then to Helena, "Such as the newly christened Mister Rains, are unaccounted for on this list. As such, they'll be wild-cards when the time comes, or be reassigned should information change and new intelligence be brought to light."

Folding his arms, Edward shifts his weight to one foot, finally addressing Teo's question with a resigned sigh. "Unknown variables are a part of this quation I'm not going to attempt to place yet. When and if the time comes, I expect they will not give us any forewarning about their desired level of involvement. As such, I expect each of you will likely be able to take the initiative and act accordingly. That… is the best I can offer there."

Something sinks in Edward, something that unsettled him the moment Homeland Security was mentioned, but he keeps his concerns veiled behind a vacant look in his eyes, and words somewhat detatched from his countenance. "That is the majority of what I have been working on." The words, or perhaps the act of saying them rouse him from his self-imposed stupor. "There's a few… pieces," He smiles faintly, despite himself. "Things I'd like to keep closer to my chest for the time being, but that will come into play later." Blue eyes settle on Teodoro, staring at him with his over-wide eyes for a time before unfolding his arms and walking forward to move behind Helena's wheelchair, resting a hand on the back of it. "If either of you," He addresses the pair, "Or otherwise the remainder of the peanut gallery," One brow raises as he settles his focus on Conrad and Ben, "have suggestions or information, I'm more than willing to listen. Right now, though, I would have to estimate that what we have to work with at the moment is the bridge problem. If the land-routes out of the city are severed, we could be facing a long-term catastrophe, provided we're all alive to see it happen."

The hand comes off of the back of the wheelchair, and Edward continues to circle the room, hands soon folding behind his back, fingers curling around a piece of chalk. "Input?"

Ben glances over at Conrad. Peanut gallery? Huh. He tips his chin up and asks, "Is there a way to take out the steam pipes? Make one less option for them when the time comes?"

Raising a hand as if he were in a classroom, Conrad asks, "Who wins the Superbowl this year? And what's the score gonna be?" He lets that hang for a mere second before lowering his hand and stating, "No plan survives operation. Whatever you come up with, you're just playing odds, right? You're trying to stack the deck. How much do you KNOW? And what?"

"He knows whatever information is in the Catabase and whatever we tell him that's new and hasn't been updated yet." Helena says plainly. "And the information his future incarnation supplied." She looks over at Ben. "I could - " she pauses, stops. She doesn't altogether know if she could. In theory. She looks back at Conrad, curious. "Is there a flaw in playing the odds?" She's not being facetious, she honestly wants to know.

"Some of the…" Teo squints at Edward's word choice. Ostensibly, that is. In truth, he's squinting at the fact that the creepy mathematics hamster man is looking at him that much while talking about stuff being kept close to his vest. That's unsettling. "…variables are better known than others. Might get back to you on that," he says, with a nod of either deference or indication at Helena and the others: options to consider. "The precogs seem to have converged on one notion of how Volken's going to cut the island off. The bridges. All of them. I'd like Anne to be able to take some people down to look at structural weaknesses."

There's a quaver-beat, first of backtracking through memory than a wrinkle of personal discomfort. "I believe Abigail would. I could ask her," he hedges; the closest he can come to a guarantee.

It's all recorded, every word spoken by all present, but Cat isn't giving much attention to Conrad's joking. Ben's comment about the steam pipes draws her eyes his way, but soon she's back to the Doctor's mention of those bridges. Her voice lifts a bit to draw attention and focus things a bit more on that issue, as she begins to speak. "The bridges are the subject of a predictive dream and painting shown to me, which I included into the files. Elisabeth added a comment in the analyses that it might not be Vanguard which assaults the bridges, but government forces to impose a quarantine. So I took time to think of them, and what might happen there, as has she, because while I was on the GW bridge checking out both riverbanks, Elisabeth joined me there and we talked before her partner arrived.

She's briefly quiet, but only briefly.

"Planting explosives in quantity on the bridges may be hard to do without being spotted. It's been presumed the mortars are for viral delivery only, but I speculate they could be used to both assault the bridges and spread the disease. Meanwhile the tank could be used to damage and seal tunnels and rail tubes. On the bridge, I was looking for areas that might be good for such artillery action."

Looking to Ben, Edward seems surprised by the rather forthcoming question. "Entirely possible, but it would require shutting down all of the steam-pipe access across all of Manhattan, which would in turn require full and unhinderd access to the control rooms of the Consolodated Edison plant. Suprstructures like that are often connected to closed networks, meaning that Miss GItelman will not be able to disable them for us, however…" One brow raises slowly, "We are not wholly incapable of making physical presence there possible. Or passing the right information along to the right people. It's a good point, but if we play our cards too soon, and make the steam pipes an untenable situation for the Vanguard, they will change their plans, and move to something less predictable."

A sidelong glance is sent to Conrad for a moment, to which Edward replies with a level tone, "Giants, Ravens. 30-14." With a crooked smile, Edward turns away to look over to Ben again. "Your question is a good one, but regretably our hands may be tied. The odds of the Vanguard moving to pick another location if they become wise to a buildup of security at the location is great. What we have right now, is the advantage of anonymity. They know we exist, but neither our numbers nor our knowledge."

Nodding to Teo, Edward smiles in a manner only mildly disconcerting. "Miss Beauchamp will assist us if asked. In fact, her presence in that particular group is…" Edward lifts up one hand and motions indirectly to a point in the air, rolling his fingers about. "Necessary." Stopping in his circling of the table at an empty chair, Edward rests both hands on it and leans forward, peering at Helena across the span. "As stated, each team's purpose is to be able to quickly and effectively mobilize when a call is put into place pinpointing the presence of Vanguard membership. Each leader will be responsible for assembling their teams in a timely manner, and responding to the calls. To whit, is partof Mister Fulk's function." But the way Edward smiles implies that it is only one small part.

"Excellent deductive thinking, again, Miss Chesterfield. Though I believe you may be thinking things in a small scale…" There's a hesitant, wary look in Edward eyes. "Which brings me, conveniently, to the second part of why I brought you all here." Leaning more on that chair, Edward seems to sulk for a moment, letting one hand rub across his face before slowly rising up. "How many of you know what is scorched earth police is?" The rhetoric of the question only lasts long enough for Edward to draw in a slow, tired breath and rise from where he was leaning, walking over to the third board. Turning it around, he reveals another — newer — unfolded map of Manhattan, this one including marker-painted areas where the crater is. "Now that Homeland Security has been warned of the virus' presence, something that… Well, there's no telling how much of the future we've changed with what we've done," There's a faint grimace to those words, "The government is aware of the threat of the Shanti Virus. There is a possibility," Edward looks to Helena, flatly, then Teo with the same stern stare. "Not a small one," His hand motions to the map, "That if the virus did break out, the government would indeed blow the bridges… and lay enough napalm across the Island of Manhattan to thouroughly destroy any possible presence of the virus." His expression pales some, "Sever the gangrenous limb, to spare the body."

"Excuse me. Did you think I'm just fucking around?" asks Con, tone getting markedly more serious even though obviously at least PART of what he's been saying has been fucking around indeed. He looks to Helena and says, "Playing the odds is a good idea. I just want it clear that's all we're doing. And I wanna know how much we don't know, and as near as possible how much the odds are being played in our favor. And how much against. I think that's important information."

Conrad adds after that, "Thanks. Giants over Ravens by sixteen…" Thoughful. He'll have to call a bookie.

"Poison the well." Helena says softly. "The Company has some form of virus in their possession as well." Helena says more loudly. "Wireless has had a significant row over it with Bennet." She leaves it at that, though can't help aside to Conrad, "Keep in mind the odds can shift due to life being random. Might be different if the QB's got a cold." She returns her attention to Edward.

"Biological warfare? Really? Do we know what this other virus does? Do we know how the Shanti virus is transmitted?" Ben demands, walking over to a chair and curling his hands around the back of the headrest.

That's dispiriting. A lot of those things are dispiriting. Teo answers Ben, for lack of anything else to say about most things else here, besides figlio di un cane that is utterly fucked up— "It's on file. You'll get to read it."

Small scale, Miss Chesterfield. She lifts a brow at the words used, and bristles slightly at the ignoring of her own doctorate, but displays no other reaction. The features become graver at the suggestion of scorching the island. "Given the stakes, they may have to do so. This island, against ninety percent of the world's population, it's an easy call in the White House. So Elisabeth and I may both be right, and the important thing is to not let the disease be released."

She glances over at Ben briefly. "Airborne, based on use of the steam tunnels to spread it."

Then she glances over at Helena. "The Company has it? Mr. Bennet and Wireless are at odds? This is no time for infighting. And that Company, they really need to be totally exposed to the public." But she's digressing.

Attention returns to the physicist. "What's the large scale, about the bridges?"

"That's a complicated piece of information," Edward reluctantly admits to Ben, coming to move away from the last blackboard, hands tucked into his pockets. "What I've given you here should — " He grins slightly, " — will spur you into the proper course of action. Yes, it is playing the odds, but they're informed odds. Something I don't have information on, I don't make calls on. Which is why Homeland Security, and this… Company aren't parts of the equation yet. They're wildcards right till the end, I feel."

Looking around at the gathered faces, Edward holds up his hands and shrugs as if helpless. "This is the best I can do for now. I expect I'll have more intelligence to work on in a week's time, or so, but until then I would appreciate it if you in the leadership positions could manage out a plan to have the bridges look at, at least in some function. It's the most we have to work on, thus far." There's a momentary, pensive look from Edward as his eyes settle on Cat again.

"So keep this all in mind, that if we fail here, given the threads we've pulled and the stones we've tossed," Edward looks at the map of Manhattan, then to Cat at her question with a slight tilt of his head. " The big picture, Miss Chesterfield, is that it wouldn't end with bridges. It would end in fire. It may not be the end for the whole world — just us."

From the look on Helena's face, she has a lot to think about. Edward is given a questioning expression, making evident her desire to talk to him privately later. Day Two of recovery has not been the restful occaision that some may have hoped it was, and it's evident from her pinched expression and tired posture in her chair. "Cat, you seem to have an excellent grip on the situation with the bridges." Helena says, her voice becoming quieter with fatigue and pain. The pills are wearing off. "I know you already said, but can you meet me later on and hash out a plan and anything you need to pursue this further?" Delegation; the key to leadership. Her eyes flick over to Teo briefly to see if he's in accord, and then stray, almost as if by accident, to Ben - he who medicates her. She's oddly resistant to ask for painkillers outloud. Back to Edward. "I might be able to do something about the steam." she can't help but say, and then, "I'll see everyone later."

Nodding once, Conrad waves to the room and turns to leave. He's got nothing.

Ben rubs his face with both hands; biological warfare. There's here and now problems, though, and he has a patient. Looking to Helena, he nods and heads toward her. "One every four hours," he says, taking a small orange bottle out of his jacket pocket and offering it. "At maximum. Try to go longer if you can after a few days."

She listens and watches, again bristling slightly from the Doctor's slight insult. Cat watches Helena depart, replying "I'll do that, Stormy." She thinks briefly to recommend she see Abby about that leg and the quick fix, also to watch her for signs of addiction to painkillers and reaction to having killed. Maybe a talk with Conrad too, when she asks about arming herself better.

But her attention soon enough returns to Edward. "Doctor Chesterfield, actuallly," she quietly reminds.

"Whether the picture is large or small, the stakes are the same. Stop this virus, or die, one way or another. Now, the bridges. It could be a combination of things. Artillery shelling, conventional explosives directly on the spans themselves, both." Her voice trails off for a moment as a memory is called up from their data on the Vanguard. "Those ships could have been fitted with large guns for shelling shore targets, also. Naval gunfire carries long distances, they don't even have to be in view of shore. If we could, having their locations plotted by satellite would be very good. Followed by the US Navy immediately planting them on the ocean floor."

Helena's glance warrants a slight squint from her co-leader, before Teo lets a wry smile tug at his mouth. It doesn't bother him overly that his earlier remarks had gone unheard: his ego's made of oddly inert stuff, and there's enough of it that he neither flinches nor protests. "The bridges are pretty well mapped out. Anne can get people there," he repeats, pushing himself up out of his chair to follow Helena with a careful eye even if he doesn't look like he's about to get up and go himself, just yet. Her exchange with their medic isn't lost on him. Something's wrong there. It's a momentary distraction because it's already covered.

He shifts his attention back to Catherine with a visible adjustment of his rumpled head on its axis, his hands in his pockets. Somewhere below the level of the table, a moth pulls its scaley wings closer to its furred body, in the cuff of one pant leg. "Sea or air, a coordinated military effort like you're talking about would rely on a shitload of communication that Wireless can tap into. If you can ask her to keep an ear out for that, that seems prudent. She'll want to talk to you, too," he adds, looking at Edward. A quaver-beat. And then, a little blankly, "If we can't save the bridges, we should consider clearing them." That, with an inclination of his head that passes for a salutation.

It is one. His eyes thin fractionally, a smile that takes one or two seconds to reach his mouth. "Better us than the whole world," he says with a reasonable facsimile of conviction. Twelve hours ago, by the beside of a mad precognitive, he'd implied something drastically different, but he's a practical creature for all that logic orients itself around subjective objectives. He can understand where Homeland Security would be coming from, and he understand that being combat-ready at ground zero on a virus dispersal means that Phoenix's surviving operatives will either be the end of Volken's plans or the beginning of it. "Thanks for your work.

"See you again soon." Both of them. Casting Doctor Chesterfield a wave, he walks to the door.

January 7th: My Way
January 7th: Caught Flat-Footed
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