The Academic and the Terrorist


erim_icon.gif rupe_icon.gif

Scene Title The Academic and the Terrorist
Synopsis A former PARIAH benefactor and the last PARIAH leader have a tete-a-tete to discuss the future of the resistance.
Date December 16, 2008

PARIAH's secondary safehouse

Two days after the raid, and all Erim can think of is the loss. His loss. The entire faction is reeling, but he whom the remainder look to for leadership was perhaps hit hardest of all. The second morning after finds Erim at what passes for a breakfast hall in PARIAH's secondary base, what was once a group of offices/businesses. The others scattered about the building keep their quiet distance, for the most part, unsure of what else to do — the ones who want to strike back immediately already confronted Erim yesterday. The young Hispanic man is dressed in black shirt and dark blue jeans, accurate reflections of his mood; the bowl of cereal on the table in front of him has hardly been touched and is probably well on the way to soggy by now.

Rupe is just as outraged at the takedown as the actual members of PARIAH, though the awkward intellectual doesn't show any outward signs. He wasn't sure the secondary base would still exist, or if it was quietly wiped away. It's with some relief that he finds it still standing and a few members still within. At least there's a foundation to build from.
Despite the fact that he's known as a generous benefactor to the cause, his appearance still causes a few twitches. He stops to talk to a young man holding a rather imposing weapon. He leans in and murmurs a few words and the boy relaxes. It helps that he doesn't look very threatening. His white dress shirt is rumpled, his tie is loose, and one pushed up sleeve is higher than the other. The shirt's also untucked and his hair could use a comb run through it.
"Can…you tell me where Erim is, please?" This is asked in quiet tones to a blond woman with a wounded arm. One of the raid survivors. She nods towards the tables and the young man staring into his cereal. "Thank you." He gives her shoulder a reassuring squeeze before he moves in a slow, slightly hesitant way towards the table.
When he reaches Erim's position, he sinks down into the seat across from him. "Hey. You all right?" One side of his mouth curls and an eyebrow raises.

Dark eyes flick across the table to Rupe, remaining there just briefly before Erim leans forward to dig up a spoonful of Cheerios. "I left off the alcohol," the young man states, perfectly deadpan. As the next thing he does is chew on the mouthful of cereal, it's quite difficult to determine whether he was serious or not. "I am just fine," he continues afterwards, in that slightly too-emphatic fashion that conveys the exact opposite. A pause, to clear the resentment, anger, and grief, stuffing them back where they won't get in the way of business. "What can we do for you, Mr. Carmichael?"

"I want you all to know that I'm here for you. If any of your people need to disappear. If you need any aid, supplies…just let me know." There's genuine sympathy in Rupe's words. He's not consciously using his ability on the young man. He never likes to with allies. They get angry when they discover they've been manipulated. He folds his hands in front of him, leans forward and continues to speak in low, almost whispered tones. "More importantly. I want to help you rebuild."

Erim looks over at Rupe's offer of assistance and, after a moment, he nods gravely. "Thank you. That means a lot." That someone who was an ally, not even a member proper, is still willing to throw his lot in with the group after such a sound defeat. At the mention of rebuilding, the younger man buys himself time with another mouthful of cereal, watching Rupe across the table. His expression is warily thoughtful, for all the grief veiled behind that business-like surface. "What strings come attached to that help?" Aid and succor are one thing; passive. Active participation, however… usually someone wants something in return.

Rupe waches Erim for a long moment. His expression is almost pathetically earnest. "It's time to step up…up to the plate, as the…saying goes." He shifts and puts a hand to his mouth, then drops it. He purses his lips. "We need to regroup before everyone scatters, before people give in." We. Not you. "I'm…coming out of my tower, Erim. I want to do more than just write cheques."

The eagerness Rupe displays catches a little more of Erim's interest, and he studies the rather unimpressive figure of the academic closely. There's a shift in his posture, indicative of attention. "I'm listening," the young man prompts.

"I think…." Rupe holds up a finger. "…people might listen to me. I have some ideas. Ways to hurt them that don't get SCOUT out for us." He looks around, then reaches into his pocket. He pulls out a folded newspaper article and pushes it towards Erim. It's the article about Councilman Marchant.

The headline so obviously in the forefront of the folded paper preceded an article that was important in the hours before Sunday dawn. Erim vaguely recalls this as he looks at the bold black text, the details slowly creeping back. "I remember this," he says after a few moments, lifting his gaze to peer at Rupe. "You did that?"

Rupe nods in a rather modest way. "Not…physically, oh no. Frank…killed his wife. I just helped him pull the trigger." He tilts his head. In that simple bit of body language, Erim gets a glimpse of the man beneath the intellectual exterior. "I…had the good fortune to run into him. At a benefit. About two months ago." He leans in again. "He was very, very drunk." The way he says that suggests Rupe himself might have had something to do with that too. "So I put the idea into his head. I had heard from…friends. That his wife…seemed to have an affinity. With plants. There was a thing in the social pages. Something about an orchid contest." He makes a dismissive motion with his hand. "Because of this…" He puts a finger on the paper. "Frank's bill to give SCOUT an increase in funding should be dead."

Erim turns that admission and explanation over in his head for a while. Another bite of cereal; and then a very noncommittal reply. "I see." The slightly distant air to his expression suggests the Hispanic has at least managed to wake up his mind and think about more than the outcome of the raid. "Okay. So… what do you want from us?"

Rupe rolls his wrist and tips his hand towards Erim. "You? Well, I'm…only one man." He sits back and rubs his chin. "You are a talented group. In…more ways than one. What I propose doing is…quieter. If we do it right, no one will even know we exist, let alone raid us. There is no way that they would ever connect me to this." He indicates the paper again. "That's what we would do. Plausible deniability. Campaigns of misinformation. Strategic…assassin….assasinations. A lot can be done by pinning things on them. We do to them what whoever blew up that school did to us."

Erim's eyes narrow at the reference to Washington Irving, a flash of fury flickering across his face. "I suggest you not make that analogy to anyone else," he says, too quietly. He falls silent then, unmoving, not even using the pause to eat any more of his breakfast. "We're probably due for a change in pace," Erim finally says, an attempt at making light of something that isn't. Of course, the attempt fails, his heart not being in it at all. "I assume you have something specific in mind as a starting point?"

"Figuratively speaking, of course." Rupe might have a silver tongue, but he's still a social misfit. Talking aloud to himself doesn't count as conversation. He observes Erim for a long moment, then nods once. "I do. But we need to regroup first. We need to…" He rolls his wrist again. "…get people on board with this new method. I know everyone would like to take a pipe bomb to SCOUT. If we do things the way I'm suggesting, the days of the frontal assault are over. At…least for now."

Erim looks at Rupe for a long period, still considering. "I'll talk to them," he replies; a sort of conditional agreement. "If enough of them sign on board…" The young man doesn't finish that sentence, but he doesn't need to. He looks at the academic for a little longer, then nods once, returning his attention to the neglected cereal.

"Could I…talk to them? Some, at least?" Rupe's brows arch together. "I'd like them to meet me before they decide whether or not they want to keep fighting. Ask…me questions. I want to tell them my ideas. But I'm not the one who has experience…fighting, in the end."

Erim glances up from the bite he was just about to take. "Not everyone will want to change tactics." Melinda would never have gone along with it, and a flicker of sorrow passes by. "I'll weed out the ones who don't want to listen."

"That…is the catch, my friend," Rupe holds up his index finger and makes a sweeping motion. "If people want to keep…exploding things, keep bombing storefronts, then this movement really will die. Nothing is accomplished by making ourselves a target. PARIAH became a collection of scapegoats. That can't happen again."

Erim looks across the table at Rupe, his expression a slightly impatient one. "That's exactly my point. Some people, Rupert— " He adopts the more casual first-name basis. "— will not stop 'exploding things' no matter what we tell them to do. I know who they are. You don't. I'll bring you the ones who can adapt, and you can pitch your ideas to them." And that is the end of it, declares his tone.

"All right," Rupe nods to Erim. He concedes that the other knows best in this situation. "But the ones who do continue to destroy things are too much of a liability for this…new…organization. They can't know we exist. Attention on them is attention on us, and then we'll be right back where we started. It's time for a reformation."

Silence stretches, as Erim just looks at Rupert. The kind of half-disbelieving, half-frustrated look you give someone who has just entirely missed the most obvious clue in the world. "Look, Carmichael… juet let me handle the people, okay? I get the impression that'll work better." A lot better.

The fact that he seems to have missed something apparently doesn't click with the intellectual. That's what sometimes happens with the really smart people. They miss the obvious things. "All right." He holds up a hand. "And…call me Rupe, please." He puts a hand to his chest.

Erim gives Rupert a measuring look. "We'll see," he replies. And then he turns his attention fully upon his breakfast, the change in posture indicating that the younger man considers this conversation well and truly over.

"W…well then. You know how to contact me. need me. For anything." Rupe looks at Erim and lingers a moment longer, before he stands. He steps a few feet away, then turns back, hands on hips. "I think…our first target should be something…satisfying. SCOUT tends to brutalize without cause, don't you think?" And on that thought, the intellectual turns and walks out.

Both of these characters are NPCs.

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