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Scene Title Solidarity
Synopsis Lynette arranges a meeting between a representative of what's left of Messiah and a representative of what's left of the Ferrymen to discuss what the future holds.
Date December 1, 2010

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine remains partially unfinished to this day, despite its construction having begun in 1892 - true to form for buildings of its type. Nonetheless, it is a grand and imposing sight; possessing the characteristic grand arches, pointed spires, and beautiful stained glass windows, including a large and striking Rose window. Where the walls aren't covered with old and meticulously preserved tapestries, they are often ornamented.

Guided tours are offered six days out of the week. Services are open to all. Since the bomb, the main nave is open at all but the latest hours, though the smaller subject-specific chapels close in the evening. The cathedral is also a site for major workshops, speakers, and musical events - most especially the free New Year's Eve concert, which has been held without fail each year since the bomb.

St. John's has long been a center for public outreach and civic service events, but since the bomb, those have become an even greater part of its daily affairs. Services include a men's shelter, a twice-weekly soup kitchen, walk-in counseling, and other programs besides. These are open to everyone - non-Evolved, unregistered Evolved, registered Evolved… the philosophy is that they're all children of God, and that's what matters.

Enfolded in the dark of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the candles look like they're floating, and to count them all would be an endeavor as likely to succeed as counting all the stars in the night sky outside.

Although the service has ended, and the majority of the churchgoers have closed up their jackets, taken the hands of their children and departed, shuffling out into the slush and blustering wind, the procession has been a slow, steady trickle, and the humm of voices still fills the massive cavern, though it's much softer than the din that had roared in its ceiling like thunder when people were flooding inside and congregating here en masse a little more than two hours ago.

New York City is still mourning its dead. It does this every night.

Seated at the far end of a pew neither up front nor in back are two women, both petite and fair with pale eyes and homely faces that would be prettier if they weren't so tired-looking and worn. Eileen's cloche hat has a black lace veil attached that shadows her eyes, and paired with her heavy wool coat, lambskin gloves and the plain gray dress she wears beneath it, there is nothing about her clothes that makes her stand out except perhaps for the white carnation pinned to its brim, its petals edged in red.

If the flower and its distinct colouration are symbolic of anything, she has not seen fit to explain it to anyone, including her lighter-haired companion.

For his own part, Perry does not think much of anyone whose instant ambition is to number the stars. Such instrumental uses of reason are an affront, the result of bureaucrat thinking. People who think that a lark in a cage is a preferable to the distant sound of birdsong, invisible amidst the trees. Last men. Bean counters.

His head is covered in a grey knitted cap, and his shoulders spanned by fringe of faux-fur, a small decoration on an otherwise very practical, very big, black winter coat. Perry's thick rimmed glasses, ever unflattering, gain just a touch of fog, though it's not a whole lot warmer in the great stone space, little flames or no. They quickly clear, without his having to wipe them, as he paces down the nave, eyes scanning the pews.

As for Lynette, she's bundled into a blue peacoat, with a set of tan gloves and scarf… something she found at a thrift store. Which is a first for her, really. But she prides herself on her adoptability, and that seems to include adjusting to clothes without a designer label in them. Honestly, it bothers her more thinking that someone at the Institute might be pawing over them. Or worse! Wearing them!

Church isn't really her scene, either, but here she is, trying not to look disdainful. It isn't hard to stay quiet, though, being as tired as she is as well as the building carrying that solemn feeling most Gothic buildings manage. Plus all the religious gore porn hanging around. Shameful, really. And she does looks around, watching for Perry's appearance.

The moment she spots him is obvious, as she suddenly sits up and lifts a hand to get his attention. It isn't a flamboyant wave, but should get the job done.

Eileen feels Lynette's back stiffen beside her. There's a white cane resting against her thigh and, undoubtedly, a bird or two camoflauged against the structure's cold stone walls or lit in shades of deep purple, emerald green and gold where the dirty light from the street lamps outside leaks in through its ornate stained glass windows, but none perched on her shoulder or stealthily tucked under the collar of her coat.

"Is that him?" she asks Lynette in a low, soft voice fractionally coarser than the violet silk of the scarf belonging to an old woman being ushered down the aisle by her adult children, material damp and clutched between brittle fingers greasy with tears.

It is, in fact, him.

Perry doesn't miss the wave, though he does do a double take. Wait, what? Really? He doesn't possibly think, at first, that it could be her. This should be so much more discreet, right? But it can't be anyone but her because… he doesn't know enough people to realistically expect a random wave.

So it is, in fact, her. Them, actually, a pair of hers. He's never see Eileen, at least not to know her, and so he takes a moment to size up the blind woman. There's no doubt or judgment, not even for a moment. She's Evolved. Respect and solidarity is required. Perry shifts over into their row, stepping over a lowered prayer bench to reach them. He takes a seat, hunching a little in his seat, head low, arms resting his knees.

"Lynette," the bespectacled man says, with the slightest of nods, not quite payback for the wave, "M- uh- Miss Ruskin, I presume?"

"Yeah, that's him. Don't mind him, he's a little odd, but when he gets going on an idea, he's quite fascinating." Lynette smiles when he makes his way over, shifting enough to be able to take both of them in at once. "Perry. Good to see you. Eileen, Perry. Perry, Eileen. I'm glad you could make it, Perry." She even seems sincere there! Other than introductions, though, she's letting him speak for himself. She's more here for support. For both organizations.

"Mister Jones," Eileen returns, her tone detatched but polite. "I apologize for the venue, but as far as clandestine meetings are concerned, I prefer to hold mine in plain sight. At least until some degree of trust can be established, and we gave ours too readily to your predecessor."

If there's any rebuke hidden in cool consonants of her words, it's so mild that it's easily lost beneath scraping feet and the soft growl of traffic spilling in through the open doors at the front of the church. "I hear you have plans."

"Consider my trust in you absolute," is a hell of an opener, but so Pericles Jones begins. He parts his hands, palms upward, fingers spread. "I- uh- I realize you can't- um- can't return it. But I will- I will make the leap of faith. We can't afford disunity. Even with differing goals, we need- we need solidarity. Implicit loyalty."

One hand rises in a fist, but it's only to cover a short cough, and then to tap his chest. "I- uh- I have thoughts, yes. Plans? I can't- I can't make those, not without consulting with my fellows first. The- the organization we were was beheaded. I think it's- uh- it's better that way."

"Everyone is at least mildly resentful of what it became. And no one wants it to become that again. People are actively choosing the other direction. Hard." Lynette looks over at Perry, lips curved into a slight smile. "At least within the organization."

Outwardly, it's hard to say if people will see much change. At least in her opinion.

"I told Carmichael where our boundaries were and he disregarded them. Not as flagrantly as he could have, but enough that I'm wary about committing the network to an allegiance of any kind, though you're right. About solidarity." Eileen hooks fingers around the grip of her cane as if to stand but she does not. Feet encased in plain black flats and tinted stockings remain on the floor, her legs together and ankles loosely crossed.

Something flickers across the ceiling, a fat shadow with broad wings much larger and more imposing than the sleek piebald pigeon that it belongs to. It's not uncommon for birds to become trapped here, especially in the winter when the air is frigid and the weather more unforgiving than even the most taciturn worshippers beneath this roof. "Exactly what does she mean by the opposite direction?"

As soon as he proposes total trust, Perry's dedication to the principle is tested. In his mind, no one would know of the formal connection between 'his' faction and the one Melissa and Marjorie form the core of. No one outside the two factions that is. A precaution, to prevent a disastrous staining of the 'legitimate' branch.

But he can't start with hypocrisy. A firm foundation in ethics, however radical, is what he demands from himself.

"Some of our fellows are going to enter the public sphere. Move through legitimate channels. Lobbying, political activism. Perhaps even run for office," Perry explains, stammer disappearing as soon as he's describing a system, a plan, "This- uh- this doesn't hold for all of us. Lynette and I and- and some others are still willing to take violent action. But it will be guided differently this time," he's vehement about this fact, and his voice is heavy with this insistence, "with a mind for the philosophical precepts of our goals. Theoretical considerations instead of conventional thinking."

Lynette gestures toward Perry with those last words, which seems to cover the direction she was talking about. "Some of us can't be in the public eye and fight the cause. For various reasons. But we all agree the political side needs to be addressed." It probably says something that she doesn't bring up the other political lobbying she's aware of through Ygraine being connected to the Ferry, but then, they haven't agreed to any sort of full disclosure arrangement here.

The smile that Eileen's mouth forms is at odd with the rest of her face. Her next breath sounds wan, a gentle murmur of mirthless laughter. Although Perry has no way of knowing, it's in reaction to only three of his words: the public sphere. "If you can find a way to put your people in positions of power and keep them there long enough for them to do our cause any good whatsoever, you're welcome to it." Cynicism chips her words off like pieces of ice hammered from the block with a sculptors precision. "My personal support as well, but I think you'll be hard-pressed to make the kind of changes we need to have happen.

"Explain to me the difference between theoretical considerations and conventional thinking."

In a word? "Thought," Perry says, without hesitation, "I- uh- I'm not saying that Carmichael didn't think, but he- uh- he kept thought to himself. It was more… information with him. Not learning, not wisdom. Nothing shared, nothing more than orders, followed without question. We need to know exactly what we are fighting for, and we need to-" he pauses, "I think- I think maybe I need to give you an example."

There's a pause here. And a wince from Perry. "I- I don't much like having to use this example," he admits, "because Ernesto Guevara was a Marxist and I don't really- uh- care for that ideology. But- but he fits the bill. Revolutionary, philosopher, utterly dedicated, however faulty his foundation. His conclusions, I think, were wrong, but- but the spirit and the need for a total- uh total rethinking of the world… that is what separates revolution from convention."

The blonde doesn't speak up at this point, although she gives a sort of half-smile that makes it hard to tell if she's amused or admiring. Perry's the mouth piece, after all, and he is for a reason. Her arms fold loosely and she turns a little more in his direction.

"One has to grow hard but without ever losing tenderness." Eileen makes a contemplative sound at the back of her throat, a cello being tuned. "My priority is protecting the people who have entrusted their lives in the Ferrymen's care," she says, "and my willingness to resort to violence was met with resistance before the eighth." It's a grand understatement; a poisoning and two separate attempts on her life, including one that targeted the entire council, probably qualify as a stronger word, but Eileen wasn't being facetious when she implied that she understood the value of solidarity.

She is not about to share with him the fact that one of the network's own was partially responsible for the casualties it suffered, though she probably suspects that Lynette may have already made him aware of it. "This said, I believe our losses may have put us in a better position to help as long as you aren't considering civilian targets. We have a Special Activities division headed by two men with decades of government and wartime experience. If you're willing to meet with them and discuss what short-term goals we have in common, I'd call that a step in the right direction."

"He was the Butcher of La Cabana to as many as he's El Guerrillero Heroica," Perry remarks, with just a touch of dryness, "but no- no I have no interest in taking civilian lives. I- uh- I would contend that some- uh- some groups that aren't directly connected to the government, certain groups- have made themselves our common enemies, and I wouldn't consider- uh- consider them 'civilians' in the sense of being 'innocents'. But no, it's neither ethically permissible nor even sensible to attack civilians. I'm not interested in making a stupid passage a l'acte, lashing out in senseless anger. I said thought. I m- meant it."

Lynette gets a quick glance. Perry has no clear sense, precisely, of Lynette's standing in the Ferry. She's been mum about it, which he recognizes as an the result of admirable loyalty, but still… "I would be happy to meet with them, even just in the interests of dem- uh- demonstrating my interest in unity. But I must make it clear from the beginning that, whatever your- uh- your intentions or goals- that I am not interested in being a reactive force. I want to move towards substantial change ac- uh- actively. I describe myself as radical without- uh- without hesitation."

"Not to mention, we've set it up this time that the whole of the organization can weigh in when plans are being made or set, there will be a lot of thought. And believe it or not, there are some bleeding hearts left among us," Lynette says, to Eileen. 'Bleeding Heart' may not be the most understanding or diplomatic way to put it, but her tone makes it sound almost like a term of endearment. "But I would be more than happy to run any messages between the two, for meetings or general information. It seems easy enough, since I plan to be neck deep in both."

A crooked smile comes to her face and her head tilts as she looks over at Perry. "Has anyone thought of a name yet?"

"Our numbers have been significantly diminished, our resources deciminated. The manpower we can lend you is extremely limited, and it's going to be an uphill battle to convince the rest of the network's leadership that our outlook needs to be adjusted even further than what I've already done." And Eileen isn't willing to make Perry any more promises than she already has. "They'll be shipping supplies into New York City along the Hudson River," she says with a nod to Lynette. "Until we've adequately recovered from the blow that was just dealt to us, we can contribute by sabotaging their lines and intercepting cargo destined for facilities operated by the Institute, Department of Evolved Affairs the the military. Adynomine. Amphodynamine. We engage enemy combatants when we encounter them in the field, but I will not encourage my people to seek them out unless they're already inclined.

"They aren't ready. Not yet."

"I am not expecting to share membership," Perry states, glancing to the single current exception once more, and nodding, "beyond what we already share. I'd rather- uh- I'd rather not invite conflicts of interest or- uh- or other challenges to mutual loyalty. What we're doing, it's necessary, both our organizations and ideals. And we can- uh- I'm sure we can help each other, cooperate. But we need our autonomy." Which really means once-Messiah's autonomy. Decimation was just as thorough for the smaller terrorist group, and they had fewer to lose.

"I propose- uh- well, I suppose I can wait to speak with your- your Special Activities Division about details," Perry says, cutting himself mid-talk, "but I do have ideas, as I said. Ways to- uh- to throw salt in their wounds, maybe- uh- maybe throw them off our scent a little as well. If we're lucky. But yes. Yes, I would want lend our support, assuming I have the approval of my fellows."

As for a name? Lynette gets a small smile. "For us? I don't know yet. But for Melissa and Marjorie? I quite like the name 'Symbiosis'. I think it- uh- sends the right message."

"Unfortunately, everyone is licking their wounds after the eighth. But it seems to me there are common enemies all around. It would be good to at least keep one another in the know so no one's taken by surprise. No one will be asked to give more than they can or risk more than they're willing." It's a little unclear which direction Lynette means that in, probably both ways, really. "And I agree there, autonomy. November Eighth might have changed a lot of minds about how far they'll go, violence wise, but the Ferry is still what it is." And what it is… is not what Messiah has been.

She looks over at Perry, though, at the name given and a smile comes to her face again. "Yes, I dare say it does."

The pew creaks. Eileen comes to stand. There are only a few stragglers left, thin strings of people being tugged out into the cold. She'll be gravitating in that direction shortly herself; as the crowd continues to shrink, so do their chances of coming away from this without being spotted, and although statuesque cathedrals aren't necessarily where the Department of Evolved Affairs and the other organizations that orbit it are looking for what's left of Messiah and the Ferry, Eileen feels that she and Lynette have taken enough risks for one evening.

"Or exactly the wrong one," she says, but it's without reproach. "We're all human. A pleasure meeting you, Mister Jones. You'll hear from us through Lynette as soon as we're able to give your proposal the attention it deserves."

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