Shadow Shenanigans


dumortier_icon.gif emily_icon.gif geneva_icon.gif kendall_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Scene Title Shadow Shenanigans
Synopsis A few days before a group of agents embark for a mission overseas, a new pair of agents are welcomed into the SESA-NY offices.
Date April 13, 2021

Fort Jay

In the office space at SESA, there's very few moments when there isn't something going on, even if that 'something' happens to be beating down piles of paperwork. Working at SESA was vastly different than Kendall was led to believe, and in two different ways. 'Government Agent' makes it sound exciting and sensational, then he was also told it was 'dangerous', but so far all he's been at risk for was getting a papercut, or maybe accidentally stapling his hand.

Today, though, there's something called 'shadowing' on the agenda, with a certain Emily Epstein. Armed with a staple remover, he goes over to her cubicle, lifting his hand up over the top with it, knocking to make sure it's noticed, then making it 'talk' at her (in a mundane way). "Reporting for duty, ma'am!" then he pops his head around the edge, grinning. "Fancy meeting you here!"

It's scarce been a day or so since things had been stamped and sent, so being here on the island still strikes as surreal; it's perhaps now or never in figuring out whether he wants to fit here. Of the recent hires, Dumortier knows he is at least one that feels this way. When people think highly of him he has a tendency to want to practice it. Bets and dares get him that way too, but—

He is still examining the laminate of the ID he turns over in his hand as if it might disintigrate in his fingers. It's not as high tech as he'd expected, somehow— and that in itself feels amusing. That he might have been able to forge such a thing.

No need to be doing that now, though. Idled at the crux of cubicle maze and administration, Rene uses the moment to skim faces, take quiet mental notes, remain unobtrusive along the wall, blending in with the rest of the business casual button-downs and slacks of analysts and ilk. Kendall's antics easily draw his eye. The other trainees really are that much younger than him, aren't they? Maybe it's perception.

Turning slightly at the object talking to her, Emily Epstein begins to slide her headphones back with a long-suffering expression. She has half a response summoned before Kendall pops up to reveal himself, and her comment is withdrawn— mostly out of confusion. Her eyes search his unexpected figure, quickly thinking through why he was here.

Reporting for duty. Right.

"Oh shit," she breathes out mostly to herself. "It's Airquotes Kid." She'd not put two and two when she was emailed she'd be showing a Kendall around this morning. But it wasn't just Kendall…

Emily pushes herself to her feet, headphones set aside on her desk. Her head turns to catch sight of Dumortier, and she gestures him their way with a wave of her hand before turning back to Kendall. "Who'd have thought, right?" That she'd be here, that he'd be here. She slips one hand in the pocket of her khaki skirt, thin strip of watch poking out of it wrapped about her wrist. "Well, welcome. I can't say when they let me know about this that I was expecting to see you…"

Then she turns to get better sight of the mostly-unfamiliar agrokinetic, a stillness entering her expression and gaze as she studies him. She presses her lips together in what's meant to be a smile. "It's been a while," Emily offers up cordially. "Gave up living in Providence?"

"I know, right. It's like I'm an actual adult with real responsibilities or something. Shh, don't tell anyone it's all an…" he pauses and smirks, "illusion." Har har. "Well, figured I shouldn't be a freeloader since they're letting me stay with them, so gotta make the monies somehow." Kendall does quirk a brow over the 'air quotes kid' thing, but maybe he misheard. Surely.

When Emily turns to greet someone else, though, Kendall sets the staple remover on top of her cubicle wall (it'll be forgotten about, until it's actually needed or annoys someone) and turns to give the other guy a once over. "So you're the other noob, huh? I'm Kendall Cunningham, nice to meet you." he doesn't offer a hand, because you never know what sort of weird powers people have nowadays. The last thing anyone wants is for a short range telepath to see what you're thinking or something.

"Didn't expect to see you here either, to be honest." Kendall adds over to Emily. "Quite a few familiar faces here, but I kinda expected that considering the crowd I used to run with before the war started."

When Emily stands up, of course he recognizes her; hard to forget the face behind the Elm. At least, for him. As she catches sight of him, Dumortier's smile slips into a comfortable little curve, eyes hooded while he pockets his ID. Next look he's at their side, inspecting Kendall with both hands tucked away. The silent approach type.

"Thought 'noob' went out with the 'Oughts…. And I wouldn't say gave up." Rene does, however, briefly give up his judging Kendall to meet Emily's eyes instead, giving her a smirk and a slight drawl of, "I'm expanding." What, he doesn't say. One assumes horizons. An exploration. Something like this.

Dumortier considers his words and settles on a lighter tone simply for Emily's sake, being in front of a third party. "Looks like you're doing much better than you did the last time I saw you."

Now that Dumortier and Kendall have been hired on at SESA as the newest agents, Geneva Stevenson finds herself in the rather pleasing position of no longer being the lowest rung on the ladder here. For once, she can claim more experience under her belt than somebody else.

It's a fact that feels pretty damn good, she finds herself reflecting as she passes by Emily's cubicle entrance with a steaming mug of coffee in hand (one being kept heated by her own merrily glowing, red-hot fingers)— and it also makes her bristle somewhat on overhearing Kendall's remarks to Emily.

As Gene halts there in plain view to eavesdrop on the conversation, she steals a sidelong look towards her best friend, smirking just a little in recognition of the calculated patience she sees in that expression. "…Need any help with this one, Em?"

Between Kendall's light and Dumortier's cool, Emily somehow holds her ground. But Geneva's appearance is well-received, her professional expression shifting to something friendlier. "Hey," she greets. "No, I'm sure we'll be fine, but— it's good you stopped by."

One hand is lifted to gesture politely to each of the two new trainees in turn. "Assuming we don't run them off today, these are our new teammates. Kendall Cunningham, and Rene Dumortier." She takes a moment to regard Rene out of the corner of her eye, contemplating addressing his comment now… and decides against it in the end.

"I'm positively terrified how well Kendall's going to get on with Lance and Cooper, but Rene's a wildcard. We'll have to see yet." The smile she puts on is a ghost of one as she looks back to Geneva. "This is Geneva Stevenson. If you like your palms having nerve endings, maybe we pass on handshakes for now." With a slight lift of her head, she wonders, "You up to anything in particular this morning? I was just going to show these two around, show them where things are— who's who." You know, the standard fare.

"Judging by your comment, I guess it's safe to assume you're not a gamer." Kendall can be patronizing too! "And hey, I can be professional!" His hands come up to straighten the green tie that is suddenly there. "Heya." Then he cuts his gaze back over to Rene. "So you do have a name, cool."

The coffee is glanced at and he takes note of her Hot Hands. "Noted." When Geneva offers help to Emily, Kendall snickers. "I'm harmless, I swear." a gesture to the other new recruit. "Him though, maybe. Seems they've met." Ooh, spicy. The tie disappears at that moment, leaving just the button down.

Dumortier won't break it to Emily that he and Cooper already have a rapport. Still a wildcard. He does flash a smile at this comment, tipping his head in greeting to Geneva, hands kept to himself. Both brows lift as he shoots a look to Kendal, expression pleased.

"Good eye, Ken, I'm not harmless at all." Depends on who you ask, anyway. "Yeah, we've met. She was on a case with Ayers." Rene takes care to navigate this one too, but once he has, that's that. "I've been told giving myself a tour is frowned upon. So here I am, all soft and new and lost, at Ms. Epstein's mercy."

Down the aisle of cubicles steps the slim, suited figure of Veronica Sawyer, before she sees the little gathering of junior agents near Emily’s desk. They’re not supposed to call them that, anymore — junior sounds a little condescending, but she remembers her first days as a rookie, back in the Company so many years before — back when she thought it was on the right side of things. Sometimes it was; often it was not.

The Public Relations director — no longer field agent — watches, her dark eyes curious. She knows all of the agents by face and name, but has only worked with Epstein and Stevenson. Not making her approach yet, she sips coffee from a cup proclaiming her “world’s okayest mom.”

Obviously Brian had helped Olivia pick out her Mother’s Day present. Despite popular belief, Vee has a sense of humor.

Hearing the phrase at Ms. Epstein's mercy does make the pressure in Geneva's brows lighten up a little, though it stops short of becoming anything like an actual smile. Instead, she chooses to rather quickly sweep Kendall up and down with unmitigated skepticism in her gaze, rather as though all of him were one giant illusion that might vanish from existence if she only stopped caring hard enough.

"Nah. Just finishing up all of the filing from last week. Boring as fuck," Gene confirms to Emily's question just as she spots Vee's approaching figure out of the corner of her eye. "Hey, as long as finding out 'who's who' is a thing on your field trip, there's a 'who' right here. You guys met Sawyer yet?" Saying this, she raises her free palm up in a teeny-tiny wave over at the older woman.

Emily finds her head turning gradually more in Kendall's direction, wondering if his energy is going to run out. It doesn't. Amidst his joking, she looks down to the paper cup of coffee still on the corner of her desk. Not nearly enough for this morning.

Guess she knows where they're going first.

Her head lifts back up when Geneva points out the senior agent-come-director. "Oh hey," she echoes lightly. There's been few opportunities for them to cross paths since her return, but Emily's heard the good news. "Director Sawyer, meet our new agent trainees. At least one of them is going to give Lance a run for his money at being…"

They all know.

Emily looks over to Kendall and Rene, tipping her head in a silent gesture for them to introduce themselves.

Enthusiasm is not usually something Kendall runs out of, so if Emily was hoping it would happen simply by waiting it out, she’s in for some disappointment. When one of the more senior members shows up, though, he tones it down a little. “Haven’t had the pleasure yet.” He smiles in her direction, then the smile becomes a touch amused when he catches sight of the mug.

“Kendall Cunningham, and I suppose it’ll get found out soon enough, but I can make….” He holds his hands out parallel in front of him and the word ‘Illusions’ appears on a small flashing marquee between them. He then presses his hands together and it disappears. Well, Geneva was openly using her ability, so why not let people know? “And contrary to popular belief, I know how to behave.” Like saying so would convince anyone. “I’m good at disguises on a more practical note.” That, he doesn’t demonstrate.

Rene is quiet as he takes in the interactions of the others, sharp eyes as watchful as ever as they make mental notes. There is always a subconscious order to things, and always one worth learning as soon as possible. He looks after the rest when they turn attention to Sawyer, and on the round of greetings gives a small smile.

The small show that Kendall puts on for Veronica gets an equally small laugh, a puff on the breath before Dumortier rubs at his neck, brows knit.

"Madame." Though he makes no move to offer a hand(coffee), Rene does flatten his hand briefly against his chest. "Trainee Dumortier. I'll refrain from a show." His eyelids shade his blues in a short glance to Emily. He hasn't had the time to gauge her when it comes to such things as his gift. It's touchy.

The lightheartedness of the (most of) the younger agents is something that Veronica likes to see, though she’s not likely to admit it — it would clash with her reputation. It’s a far cry, though, from her days coming up through the Company, and anything different from the Company is probably good for the new agency, in her book.

“No one can outLance Lance, even with illusions up their sleeves,” Sawyer says lightly, then points a finger at Kendall. “That’s not a challenge, mind you.”

Still, she shifts the mug to her other hand, stepping forward to make proper introductions with the new recruits. “Pleased to meet you,” she tells Kendall first, then offers her hand to Rene. “Veronica is fine. Vee, if that’s too many syllables. Sawyer if that feels too familiar for you youngsters to call me.” Veronica has never been one for titles. “You probably don’t want advice, but the little bit I have to offer is trust your gut and ask questions and don’t compromise your beliefs for the job. Ever.”

"Please don't take that as a challenge," Geneva dryly parrots Veronica, corroborating the description about Lance with a single curt gulp from her boiling-hot coffee.

"Also, I would like to say the 'Madame' is correct, but I'd probably add that it depends on what your beliefs are. If, for example, your deepest, core beliefs are that climate change is a hoax and that dogs are superior to cats, then… well, we might have problems."

God, don't take it as a challenge, Emily silently echoes the other spoken thoughts. She narrows her eyes for a moment while the introductions proceed otherwise, looking from Dumortier to Kendall before back to the other agents.

As for the agrokinetic's gift, it's a hard read from her. Logic dictates it was thanks to gifts like his that certain victims survived at all. Trauma, though…

"Okay," Emily inputs flatly when her friend starts off on subjects likely to be divisive. (Not everyone loves cats, Gene. Even if they're wrong.) She lifts her head. "Well, I'm showing these two around the fort so they learn how to hold it down when everyone's out of office for…" She pauses for only a moment. "Various reasons."

"If anyone wants to join, feel free. Otherwise…" She glances at Geneva in particular, suggesting, "See you at lunch?" It's this way that she tries to cordially sidestep them all out of the cluster they've gathered, gesturing with her cup toward the kitchenette. "If we're real lucky," she jokes drily with a small, apologetic smile for Veronica as she steps back. She looks to the new trainees after, gesturing with a tip of her head to follow as she continues speaking without breaking stride either metaphorically or physically speaking. "We've maybe hit our 'run into senior staff' quota for the hour and can make the circuit a quick one."

Who knows, though.

"Any questions so far?" Emily wonders.

“Well, to be honest, I don’t think it would be much of a challenge. I believe in playing fair, I’d have to play with a handicap and no one likes that.” Kendall smiles innocently as he pretty much throws down the gauntlet. Well, it’s certainly a good thing Lance isn’t here, dem’s fightin’ words. At least he sounds confident enough.

When Veronica and Geneva say their pieces, he looks from one to the other, and nods at both. “I decided to join because it more or less matched up with my ideals. Regardless of personal motives, SESA is, first and foremost, for the benefit of all SLC-E… Slice?” he did remember it being called that, and nods at his own correction, much better. “Preventing people from being persecuted because of it, and keeping people from abusing it in turn, that’s pretty much right up my alley.”

“But anyway, before I get too much of a reputation…” he looks over towards Dumortier. “Pretty quiet, huh.” no, Kendall, you’re just loud. “Shy or something?” a quick glance at Emily, and he shrugs as he follows her. “I wouldn’t know the right questions to ask.”

"Not one bit." Dumortier needn't look at Kendall to answer him, the intonation doing just fine on its own. Bravado comes in different flavors. As for belief, this does draw Rene's gaze to Kendall as he proudly gives up his own. Both hands find shelter in his pockets as Dumortier shifts to follow Emily's lead, a small smile flickering from eyes to mouth. "I can't say that I would mind meeting a few more senior staffers. We'll see."

Given that he knows several by now, he can't help but wonder on the contents of the rest. It takes all kinds. All kinds which he wants to make nice with, if possible. It's networking.

“You weren’t raised by Brian,” Veronica says with a slight smirk to Kendall’s gauntlet throwing. “And SLC-E, please,” the Public Relations director pronounces each letter separately, “when speaking with the public or the press. ‘Expressive’ will also do fine.”

Geneva’s talk about beliefs draws an amused look in her direction, but Veronica doesn’t weigh in on her opinions on cats v. dogs or climate change. She nods to Emily as she prepares to take them on their guided tour.

“Don’t let me keep you,” she says, turning to move back down the hall in the direction of her office. “Oh, one more bit of advice. A warning really: if you turn the thermostat below 70 degrees, there will be retribution.”

With that, she leaves them to their induction.

"Yeppers. I'll see you at one," Geneva shoots back an answer to Emily directly, not bothering to listen to the extra gabber from most of anyone else. Only Veronica gets a twitch of a smirk at her final comment about changing the thermostat, as though to confirm that fact.

At any rate, it's been getting just a hair crowded in here for her, too, so the agent raises her heavy mug in a last sardonic salute. "Before then, good luck with the baggage."

Then Gene is away, sauntering off down one of the interconnecting hallways as confidently and swiftly as though she'd never been there in the first place.

Emily casts one look over her shoulder when Geneva departs, shaking her head as she leads the new agent trainees in the direction of the kitchenette. "You'll notice we've got an entire cast of characters here that keep things going. You don't find someone you gel with, just look the opposite direction across the office, basically."

She grabs one of the glass carafes by the colored plastic handle, trusting the darkness of the liquid within to be bearably caffeinated. "Having the right motivations is a good base for being here… but I won't lie to you both now— if you want to cut it as a field agent, you're going to need more than just that. Not everything we get to do is happy or brings happiness."

"Sometimes…" Emily asserts while she rips open a single creamer package. "All we get to do is take a shred of bad out of the world." She swirls the cup to encourage the dark and the light in it to mix, with middling success, before leaning to the side to toss away her trash. "Being quiet is fine— take a few days to get your feet under you— but I'd encourage you to jump at every opportunity that comes up so you get an idea early of what parts of this are for you and which aren't."

Turning back to them, she arches a single eyebrow at them before admitting, "For example, I learned field agenting probably isn't for me after a few cases hit too close to home, and having to jump out of a helicopter during an operation to break up a forced cagefighting ring." She brings her other hand up to support the bottom of the cup she's made while adjusting the grip of her fingers round its rim. "But there's plenty of other ways you can help support SESA even if it's not in the field, if that's the conclusion you come to. There's need for operations staff, administration, PR, analysts looking over the data and evidence other agents are able to pull in from the field…"

"The field can only be as good as the office behind it, and vice versa." She flashes a small, thin smile.

"I'm sure you'll get sick of the office work before long, though," Emily assures with a chuckle. "Let me show you where you'll pick up paperwork needing digitized… if the onboarding experience is still the same as it was when we started, you'll get familiar with that area of things quickly."

Geneva's departure is observed with a raised eyebrow, then he looks back over at Emily, expression sobering. "Oh, trust me, I know. Back before the war started, I helped evacuate people from a few of the safehouses when they were raided. And went up against some of those robots, too, though can't say I fought them, I'm more suited for escape, so I'm well aware it's not all sunshine and roses. Did stuff during the war, too." See? Kendall can be serious about stuff. "Also had a nice storytime session with Robyn." Kendall isn't sure how much everyone knows about other agents' missions, but surely Emily can make a guess which bit of danger Robyn regaled him with.

"SESA exists in the first place to make sure the law isn't broken in regards to SLC-E people, whether they're victims or perpetrators." Veronica's correction is taken in stride with a light shrug. "Though to be honest, jumping out of a helicopter sounds preferable to paperwork." he adds after a moment with a perfectly straight face. "But necessary evils, huh." He'll follow behind Emily when she starts to lead them towards said necessary evil.

Dumortier tails Emily and Kendall at a leisurely pace, hands hidden in trouser pockets, coattails artfully rumpled. He examines the various sights in stride, even giving a curious younger intern at a desk his finest cocked smile.

Despite his passing manner, he is absolutely listening; her words are as true as he knows them to be, even down to whether or not the field is his speed. He has a faint idea of what might be his, but he has surprised himself before. Case in point, being here.

"Had a delightful romp with a gigantic metal scorpion earlier this year. It was bracing and I might have died a little, but I got better." As if he had got turned into a newt. Blue eyes lift to Kendall in a flicker of commiseration.

"Been a while since I did Data Entry. " The blonde asides, deciding that now is the best time to get at least a gulp of bean juice for himself. If they need something a little better… he has a fix for that.

Died and got better, Dumortier says, and Emily's eyes dart his way. "Has a habit of going around, doesn't it?" she asks with a careful lightness, curiosity toned down in favor of leaving private matters as private as they're deemed to need be. "At least the causes remain varied as ever. I didn't have giant metal scorpion on my bingo card, anyway."

After that, she shakes her head slightly. Anyway. Looking back to Kendall, she remarks wryly, "Why am I not surprised the action-adventure slant to things is more your style?" She even cracks a small grin. "It's all fun and games until you hit the ground and you think your shins are gonna splinter their way right up into your kneecaps. Videogames lied to me how cool it would be to rappel quickly down a rope and need to him the ground running."

"Died and got better, huh?" Kendall raises an eyebrow as he looks between both of them, and snickers. "I wonder if there's some sort of club you can join for that. Because I've met more people who can say that without joking than I ever thought possible." Pause. "Myself included, I was dead for a whole month, but got better." What, is he some sort of zombie? A mournful expression crosses his face as he stares off into the distance. Insert sudden childhood trauma. "I missed playing a video game I really wanted to get the day it came out thanks to that."

"As for shin splintering, I know how to prevent that happening, at least. Haven't had the pleasure but I've fallen off a horse once."

Rene seems passively amused for the collective 'got better' from the others. It's a great club, and at least this way… he doesn't… feel quite as weird. It's a funny sensation, that degree of fitting in. Dark, and yet.

"Nothing stopping you from getting back to it, Ken Doll." A small laugh huffs out of Dumortier, who takes to prepping a small cup of coffee, a glance passing over his shoulder. "Just once, huh?" A few moments later, he immediately looks like he regrets taking a sip of that paper cup of coffee. "Oof, that's— bracing." The most polite way he puts it. Maybe he just has a more expensive palate.

"Don't call me that." Kendall replies promptly with a small frown at Rene.

Emily manages to keep her amusement with Kendall's dismay to a stiff breath and a look off. "Well, those are… priorities." She smooths one hand down the front of her skirt, trying to resist from deeper comment on that point. Her head dips in agreement with Rene's point, a thin smile coming over her.

"Well, that seems like as good a launching point for heading forward…" she sympathizes with the coffee situation. "Let's see how else we can make the day interesting from here."

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