amato_icon.gif barbara_icon.gif brian_icon.gif cat_icon.gif doyle2_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif

griffin_icon.gif hannah_icon.gif kendall_icon.gif megan_icon.gif nora_icon.gif child-owain_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Susceptible
Synopsis The Pollepel Island Ferrymen hold a meeting to discuss what measures the network can take to protect themselves from an H5N10 outbreak, including the acquisition of a new safehouse.
Date January 22, 2011

Bannerman's Castle: Dining Hall

People have been coughing since they set foot on Pollepel Island back in November. Sore throats, stiff joints and chest congestion are all nothing new; it's winter, and people get sick, but following the news broadcast picked up on Bannerman's Castle radios that warned of H5N10's return, even the most whispery sniffle has been scrutinized by the men and women volunteering at the stronghold's infirmary. Brian's message from Hiro Nakamura courtesy of Endgame only confirmed what the island's residents already suspected.

The Department of Evolved Affairs working jointly with the American military is no longer the greatest threat to their survival.

As it is every evening, the dining hall is warm with bodies and the flames flickering in the stone chamber's sooty hearth. Heavy sweaters and worn denim are a common combination. Some are dressed in coats and jackets, recently returned from the night watch's first shift, their tired faces flushed red around the cheeks and lips still pale from the cold. Others wear clothes more suited for the indoors, including young mothers with babes on their hips and older children who can still claim they have living parents, not yet entrusted to Brian's care. They are among the most restless, fingers knotting in hair and worriedly twisting wool. Some turn jewerly between their nails. Whisper in the quiet voices of timid warren rabbits.

Eileen has lost count of the number of network operatives and refugees in attendance, but if she had to assign a number to the crowd, she'd put it around fifty, which leaves some twenty-odd people unaccounted for. Unsurprising, given that not everyone in the network's care is comfortable in large groups after the events last November that brought them all here together. She, Barbara and Cat stand at the head of the room, the only three council members present; it will be their job to lead the discussion when it begins, which was five minutes ago.

"The source is trustworthy," the Englishwoman is saying, "whether or not you believe in things like prophecy, and we should be prepared regardless. We're safer on the island than we are in the city where the chances of infection are much higher, but we aren't isolated. We receive supplies on a regular basis, and many of our operatives have specific duties that require them to come and go. Right now, there are no procedures in place to prevent an outbreak from happening here tomorrow. Last year's vaccines provide minimal protection against the new strain."

Sitting with a cup of tea that still emits a fine curl of steam, Amato Salucci looks more like a wallflower in the current congregation than any eager participant. Yet he sits at a table not far from the front of the room yet off to one side, his back slightly hunched as he guards not only the ceramic cup but also a slim notebook. He scratches a smallish, somewhat chewed pencil across the surface, preferring to make notes of his opinions for now rather than burden the group with his voice. It's a move he'd just assume not make.

There are of, course, the simple things, things people have already thought of. But wearing a mask in times such as these is just as telling as any number of other outward indications of personal information, be it time served, religion, ethnicity, or DNA.

Kendall has a seat nearby, and he's listening to the briefing. He fidgets like many others, fingering a replica of the One Ring. He clears his throat. "I had it last year. Would that affect whether or not I'd get it again? Also, I'm one of those who go from the mainland to here regularly. Is that going to change in the future? Like, maybe we should only stay on the docks or something to minimize spread in case we're affected."

The emergency meeting finds Nora sitting quietly, listening and growing more and more pale as the dire news is delivered. Fingers are tucked into sweater cuffs and wrapped around a mug of something hot, its steam billowing slightly as a reminder just how cold the room is. Kendall's question has the teen looking up and turning her head toward him, though she can't see. Her brows are knit together with worry, an uncharacteristic expression on the young woman's face, and she seems to pull herself in a little tighter, as if she could curl inwardly away from any viral attacks.

Disease. It's a rather dreadful possibility, and it's one that Eric Doyle has been worried about. The kids aren't isolated anymore, aren't protected in the Lighthouse, and that leaves them vulnerable. He leans back in his seat, grimacing as he listens to the conversations, one hand lifting as he chews on a knuckle in thoughtful concern.

The tall, lanky fellow known as Griffin Mihangle is seated close to the front, clasping his own hot tea between two hands. Next to him, his son is seated, quietly working on some soda pop from the earlier party. Like father, like son; Griffin and Owain don't offer a peep, only listening with their matching green eyes on those who speak.

Megan Young's voice comes from the crowd, she of the red hair standing back against the wall to one side of the speakers. Her job here pretty much guarantees that she'd be needed to answer exactly those concerns. "Having had the H5N10 last year doesn't alter the probabilities of catching it again. And especially since, from what we've gathered, the strain has mutated. That said, those of you who had it last year may find that you have some level of …. lesser symptoms." As in, it might not be entirely deadly. "But I don't think we're in any position to chance that possibility. I've put in a request for as much hand sanitizer as we can get our hands on, and the best, easiest method of not transmitting illness is simply good hygiene. Wash your hands regularly. If you're sick, be sure to cover any cough or sneeze in the crook of your arm. If you're coughing in your sleep, come to me to pick up a mask to sleep in. We're in tight quarters here, and that's going to be the only way we manage it. And if we do have people coming down sick, we'll start a ward to quarantine cases until the incubation period is through as much as we can."

Barbara Simms gives a bit a of a nod towards Megan. "Thank you, Megan." Hands come out of jean pockets, the dyed rehead turning to face Kendall. "From what I've heard, Megan's got it pretty right on the head. But the important thing to remember is that H5N10 is, from what I understand, simply a mutated form of the flu to begin with. So… we're as suseptible to the evo flu as we are the normal flu, and telling the difference isn't something that's easy at first. If you feel yourself starting to not feel well, it is imperative that you inform someone immediately, so that we can keep a clear idea of things, at least until we have the means to help stave it off."

Standing behind Nora, a hand on the younger woman's shoulder, is the small, dark figure of Hannah Kirby. She was among the men and women who volunteered for the first watch shift, and there are still flakes of snow melting in her hair and on the leather jacket she wears bundled around her dense frame. A reassuring squeeze digs the tips of her fingers into Nora's collar, but while the touch might be firm it also isn't hard and does not hurt. "I heard a rumour that Special Activities was looking to get its hands on some of the new vaccine," she says, and this is directed more at Barbara, Eileen and Cat than it is Megan, though her brown-black eyes move freely between them. "If that's true, how do us folks volunteer to help? We just talk to Ryans and Raith or what?"

In her position among the trio at the room's head, Cat finds content in being silent. Eyes move around the room and over the people present, faces being seen and recorded by sole virtue of sight, along with the words spoken and movements made. She's not found any need as yet to comment on questions raised or answers given, a taciturn confidence shown in her peers by that fact.

Rue sits nearby Nora, facing the councilwomen leading the meeting, though watching her friend's expression out of the corner of her eye. To see Nora so worried gives her a knot in her stomach. Nursing coffee and a headache, she listens quietly, flicking a backward glance to Hannah when she speaks.

Kendall nods to the answer to his question, taking a deep breath. Right then.

At the response to Kendall's question, Nora too stiffens. Her eyes close, and the teen ducks her head to let her thick dark hair shield that anxious face, head tipped down toward the ground. One hand moves to the hand on her shoulder, and she squeezes Hannah's in return, before she goes back to huddling around her mug of coffee.

Barbara flexes fingers as she turns her attention over towards Hannah, quirking an eyebrow. Outside of occasionally seeing her in the dining hall, she hasn't see Hannah since she and Raith bustered her , Walter, and Nora for fighting. Her smile reflects how pleased she is to hear that she has a greater interest in helping out. "That is the easiest thing to do, yes. I admit, I am not entrely sure exactly what Raith, Ryans, or Special Activities at large is planning when it comes to aquiring the vaccine, but they will certainly need all the help they can get. In fact…" The postcog pauses, looking around until she spots a bag sitting against a wall. Holding up her hand, one finger up to signify one moment please, she moves to retireve the bag, tearing a piece of paper out of her sketchbook and a pencil out of her pocket. "Anyone who would like to volunteer is welcome to speak up now. I cans tart a list and make sure it gets back to them as soon as this meeting is over." And with that, Hannah Kirby's name is scrawled down.

At the call for volunteers, Doyle's lips purse in a frown against the side of his hand for a few moments. A breath's taken in, sighed against his hand, and then he lifts his hand a little. Just enough that it might be noticed. Evidentally, he's willing to take the risk.

At the call for volunteers, Kendall immediately raises his hand, hesitates, then lowers it. What, is he in class right now or something? Psh. "I'll volunteer for that. I can be useful. I mean, my power's good for sneaking in and out of places."

Griffin listens quietly, watching Barbara for a long moment. Then, after a brief glance down to his son, the man lifts his hand in silence. A questioning look is offered from Owain, though the boy says nothing. Griffin is willing to take the risk, certainly, especially when it comes to vaccines. Those could help his son immensely, and he's a bit of a pack mule, to boot.

Glancing over to Doyle, Brian's lips pull back. "If Eric is going, I'm going." Winters calls out. Leaning back some against the wall, folding his arms over his chest. "I mean I'm going anyway. but someone has to make sure Doyle doesn't get himself peppered."

The hands raising, and voices lending their support to the cause have the ginger-haired girl more seriously mulling over her thoughts, looking for answers at first in the dark surface of her coffee. Rue casts a quick look to Nora, not for the other girl's benefit. She finds her resolve there. "I wanna help," she pipes up, loud enough to be heard.

Nora's head comes up — her dark unseeing eyes are dry, in case anyone was expecting them to be wet. "I will help," she says quietly. Her words are more determined — there is no wanna but a will, as if there is no argument to be had. And before anyone can argue, she presses on hastily. "I mean, I can't probably go in with weapons shooting blind or anything. But if there's a delivery we're intercepting or something, I can make sure that we have secure radio contact with one another, and cut off the supply runners' contact for back up, that kind of thing, right?"

Though she's remained mostly quiet, Gillian's eyebrows raise at all the young people speaking up and offering. Some she doesn't even know, but— "I can help, either in the field or not." She may not want to go in gun's blazing, but support work can be just as important, as the blind girl pointed out. Even if she's just making Eileen have more eyes, or giving her brother extra bodies, she can do something.

Concern summons shallow creases around the corners of Eileen's mouth when Kendall and Nora volunteer themselves, and the magpie perched on her shouders mirrors the expression settling across her face with an agitated twitch of white and black feathers shining iridescent green in the firelight. They're both so young, and Melissa has already lost the boy once; she's not sure she can consent to allowing Kendall to stick out his neck, but her protest is limited to worry lines and the doubt in pale eyes.

There's a guilty murmur rippling through the crowd as the teenagers, one of them blind, volunteer and the majority of the grown men in the room keep their voices low and their hands down, and they can't be blamed; many of them have families they need to take care of, children and wives who coil fingers around their larger hands to keep them from putting them up in the air.

Perhaps sensing their discomfort, Eileen says, "There are other ways people can help if they don't know their way around a rifle," or if they're just scared. "It's been almost three months since we fled the city, and if the network is to continue functioning then we need more than Grand Central Terminal and Pollepel Island to do it. I'm putting together a reconnaissance team to find one more property in addition to the Garden that can be utilized as a safehouse to replace the ones we lost. We're not ready to take volunteers for that today, but I encourage those of you who travel between the island and the city to talk to Ferrymen you know back in New York and start gathering names. Keep it within the network."

"What kind of property does the Ferry want?" Rue presses her lips together, hoping her question isn't a dumb one. "I mean, is it mostly abandoned property that the network's interested in right now? Or something where can blend in, in plain sight?"

Eileen knows what her personal preference is, between blending in and digging deep, but her magpie twitches a glance across to Barbara and Catherine. They serve on a council; her opinion does not necessarily reflect theirs.

"I recommend cataloging both," Cat answers, "we can pick and choose among them case by case. At this point the shortage and need are severe, all options must be considered. I've got my own eyes open in travels around the city, though they're limited by a need to avoid being recognized."

Nodding at Cat, Barbara lets out a bit of a sigh. "We can't commit to just one, I don't think. In the event a safehouse ends compromised and they try to figure us out based on recent property purcheses or sudden apperance of life in previous abandoned areas or other trends, we need to make sure we have some others unlike them to fall back to. But if we're going to blend in anywhere we have to be incredibly careful. I admit, I wasn't terribly involved with many of the safe houses before the 8th, but I heard that there were incidents at some of them when I visited. We need to be absolutely sure we do as little as possible to draw attention of any sort."

Perhaps surprisingly, Eric Doyle speaks up with the others. "I…" He waits a moment, moistening his lips, and straightens before speaking louder, "I actually— have some property. I mean, it's not in my name, but I have the keys. It was— Adam gave it to me as a sort of, uh— " A nervous smile, "— a short of shut up about me bribe. I don't think he really, uh, really cares anymore, so we can use it. It's not— it's not big, just a small building, but." Nervous, as ever, when talking publically. Perhaps he keeps thinking Noah is going to manifest and shoot him.

"I'm not sure we have the resources to commit to more than one," Eileen says, but these words are meant for Catherine and Barbara alone, spoken so softly that they're stolen by the crackle of the fire at her back. To everyone else, her lips appear to move but that is all. Much louder, then, "Doyle, take Lancaster and Cunningham out on one of the boats this week and take pictures of what it is you have. If it's in an area that isn't being regularly patrolled by the military, then we might be able to utilize it. If not—"

And she lets that hang. She doesn't have to them that what happens if not.

"While we're speaking of properties and information…," Megan speaks up, "I believe I have some information that may be useful to Raith and Ryans as well. I was working out of Miller Airfield with Chicago Air. I have some knowledge of the underground layout there. I figure now's the time to mention it, in case anyone needs to know about it. Unfortunately, I don't have any knowledge of properties that we can actually use," she says regretfully.

Griffin tilts his head to one side. "There's an apartment building that I was working on, back before everything that has happened. It's been remodeled since then…originally, it was one of Rupert Carmichael's pet projects, and they never seemed to find it." He dips his head to one side. "It could have potential as a safe house…though I would be weary and scope the place out well." He falls quiet once more, glancing around. He's almost nervous, using that name, as if someone's going to attack him for knowing Rupert.

Rue makes eye contact with Kendall and Doyle briefly in turn after Eileen orders the latter to take the juniors out scouting. But when Griffin mentions Rupert Carmichael, a name she knows very well from the news if not from whispered rumours and hushed talk of Messiah, her bright blue eyes widen a fraction, fixing on Barbara to gauge the councilwoman's reaction.

Kendall looks over at Doyle nervously, but nods. Sorry, Doyle, you just made a very bad first impression on Kendall way back when. And then Griffin's mentioning Rupert Carmichael, and Kendall shakes his head. He never met the guy, but everyone he knows who was involved with Messiah hated his guts.

"I assume," Amato says in a voice loud enough to be heard without barrelling over anyone else, "that the idea is to shuffle people off the island back to other locations. The less tightly packed we are, the more we lessen the risk of infection." The most common cause of winter colds and flus is not exposure to cold temperatures, but the amount of time spent indoors with others. Unlike the others, he has no ties to Rupert Carmichael. His is just another name on the already lengthy list of those connected to the empire left to the small Englishwoman. "For instance," the man continues, straightening slightly and looking directly at Eileen, "if there is room, I could return to the Garden with a number to alleviate some of the impact here."

The mention of Carmichael makes Gillian's forehead crease and she frowns, leaning back in her seat. There will always be plenty of reasons why that name would make people frown, and she's sure she's not the only one, just from a brief glance around. Instead of commenting, though, she just nods and listens, judging reactions. And trying not to wonder if anyone in the room is a traitor planning to turn her over. It's unfortunately a suspicion she can't quite shake.

Largely Barbara is just listening to the thoughts and suggestions offered, nodding along, but it's when Grffin speaks up that she steps back foward, shaking her head. "I do not mean to sound curt, Griffin, but I'm afraid that's absolutely out of the question, and I would recommend you stay away form anything attaached to Rupert Carmicheal yourself. Even if the man is dead now, for all I've heard, I'm sure the government is still keeping an eye on anything attached to him. The suggestion is appreciated, but I'm am confident that that's not a very good idea." And then, as if to alleviate some of the seriousness, she grins and gives a half point though. "You're thinking, though. That's good. We need as much of that as possible. But the fact is we have to be as careful as possible."

With that, she casts a glance over toward Amato, offering a bit of a frown. "For the moment, the Garden is abandoned. Idle, I guess is a way of putting it. It's still technically active, but the Reclaimed areas of Staten Island are starting to move dangrously close. Some of you may have heard by now that Lynette Rowen, myself, and Rue Lancaster were stopped by a military blockade just short of the road leading to The Garden. Colette Nichols insists it has not been compromised, and while I am inclined to believe her, for the moment the situation there is still being proerly assessed. But if- when we send people back out there, they may need to be ready to uproot at a moment's notice, and be ever vigilant for as long as they are staying there."

With that, she turns back, gaze falling on Eileen, giving her a bit of a nod in recognition of her earlier statement. "We'll have to see what offers more leads," she replies in a hushed tone, "but at this point I would rather be as out of sight as possible."

Griffin doesn't seem offended or hurt in the slightest by the curt response; in fact, he offers a respectful nod of understanding and agreement. He turns his eyes back down to his son, wrapping an arm around the boy, who is peering up at his father thoughtfully, as if he's learning about the man. And perhaps he is.

"I'll make a point of asking Special Activities to take another look at the Garden as soon as possible so Nichols and Diego can reclaim it," Eileen tells Amato, "assuming that Nichols is correct and it can be reclaimed. If it's safe, you can start moving people back in as early as next week, but no more than five until we know how many refugees they can safely accommodate."

The murmuring in the assembly has grown quiet again, reduced to a whisper that shivers through the air, and this is the council's cue to end the meeting. "You have your radios, and if we learn anything new from Grand Central Terminal, the council will hold another meeting so we can discuss what steps we might want to ensure that the island remains secure. To those of you who have already volunteered to help with recovery efforts, thank you.

"The network's continued survival is on your shoulders."

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