The Care Of Freedom


elisabeth2_icon.gif ygraine2_icon.gif

Scene Title The Care of Freedom
Synopsis "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." Dwight David Eisenhower
Date Mar 29, 2011

Nite Owl

Even if Elisabeth hadn't largely staked out a particular booth as her very own portion of the Nite Owl, Ygraine's preference for corners would have inclined her towards it. As it is, she's positioned with a view of as much of the room as possible, nursing a gently-steaming mug in her available hand, eyes half-lidded as she tries to both relax her mind and remain awake.

Though her hair is still black and blue, Ygraine is dressed rather more simply than has often been the case of late - a dark sweater worn over her sling (one sleeve hanging empty), with a heavy overcoat folded to and fro onto itself on the seat beside her.

When Elisabeth slips in, it's with an expression that is carefully neutral. Ygraine's call was… not unwelcome, but definitely something to concern her. She makes her way to the table with a wave at the waitress and a negative on the coffee offered. She slips into the booth and wraps the table in a silence field. "Hey…. so tell me what's what, lady."

Ygraine's smile is both warm and grateful, if a little tired. "Hi there. Thank you for coming. I just wanted to check our arrangements for the next bit of the Potter marathon. Make sure I wasn't double-booking either of us", she starts, making sure that she feels the familiar switch in sound of Elisabeth's privacy-field coming into play.

A long, careful sip from her drink provides a little fortification, and gives the new arrival time to at least take the weight off her feet… while also letting Ygraine murmur her next words into her mug. "I… wanted to check that you'd managed to get hold of someone. I've not heard anything since I let them know on Friday that I'd like to grab a meeting in the city."

"I saw Ryans on Sunday," Elisabeth says quietly. "I passed him the information and that it was likely a trap. We're both reasonably sure you've been outed — it's just too convenient. And frankly… it might be my fault." She nibbles her lip. "Agent Hanson came to see me with a request for FRONTLINE soldiers to guard a prisoner transfer. They're splitting Demsky and Harkness up, moving them in two different locations." She looks at Ygraine seriously. "They know about my ties to the Ferry — they knew back when I was given this job. So for her to be handing this memo to me is … normal in the respect that it's my job as head of FRONTLINE to deploy soldiers, but a big red flag in that she has to know that at least Demsky's name means something to me." There's a long pause. "The only place that the Ferry could get the information on two separate transfer sites is me."

Ygraine winces sharply, eyes closing. "I've got… well. It depends on quite how they've handled this. If it's just you and me that information has been wafted in front, then I'm already totally screwed. If they've already broken Scott, then I'm also totally screwed - he's the guy who told the Ferry to get off their arse and recruit me, I was told. He's not just aware of me, he asked for me by name because I was with him at ConEd. But if they've 'only' broken Demsky, or they've shown the information to multiple people, I might have a chance…."

Closing her eyes, Ygraine sighs heavily. "Even if they bugged the office and caught me glancing at the memo, I didn't touch it, didn't move it, covered it up rather than study it in detail, and Demsky was a neighbour of mine. I gave his adoptive daughter love advice, back in a short spell when she was more worried about how to handle being gay and asking out her first girl than she was about being Evolved. I doubt that the HomeSec goons have picked up on that connection, but it gives me a pretty damn good reason to double-take if I notice his name. I've met the guy, I've been in his home, I've had some pretty memorable conversations with his daughter. 'Course I react to his name!"

Another sigh. "But if they've got any firm information about me at all, and the Ferry act on this, then I am totally screwed, aren't I? Even if they've 'just' broken Demsky, they know that I went time-travelling with him to rescue Tamara, which puts me in direct contact with Nakamura - even though it was only for a couple of minutes in total. That doesn't implicate the Ferry, at least, and might leave me looking like some freelancer with dubious connections, but…. I'm almost certainly complete, royally, fucked, aren't I?"

Elisabeth smiles. "I think you're overestimating the knowing you went time traveling thing. That totally aside… yes. If the Ferry hits Demsky's site at all, there's only a few ways they could get that intel and they dangled it in front of you. Even if it wasn't you, they'd still haul you in. So… you're going to need to get ready for it. And get the hell underground on Saturday or something. I don't know for sure that the Ferry will try for a rescue, but… they've hit convoys before and it just wouldn't shock me if they decide it's worth the risk." Her smile is faint. "What are we in this for if not to do the right thing, right?"

Elisabeth pauses and looks at the table. "Hanson's baiting a bear trap for me, too. Ryans said Harkness is important. And Harkness is being moved at Miller Airfield instead of by convoy. Hitting Miller is a fucking suicide run. I can sit on this information and not tell them… but I don't know if that's the right thing to do," she admits softly.

"Harkness", Ygraine says ruefully, lips pursing, "was… good when I saw him. I don't know the details of his background, but when we came up against a sodding tank at ConEd, he didn't even seem to blink. The original plan for us had apparently gone out the window due to someone described as 'vital' becoming unavailable, the stated new plan was 'come up with something', and the first thing we meet is a bloody tank. And he didn't even appear phased. Quite apart from his role in the Club, he's one of the few people I've seen in action who seemed to find risking his neck to be neither an addiction nor bloody terrifying. From the little I saw, he's level-headed, competent, brave, and… well, pretty much everything an underground movement might want. I can understand both sides seeing him as hugely important."

Another sip, then Ygraine peeps up at Elisabeth once more. "I'm… I'm frankly terrified that the Ferry'll quite knowingly sacrifice me, in order to get to Demsky and Harkness. But… fuck. Pretty much all my better instincts say that we shouldn't worry about ourselves and should just rescue people if we possibly can. If we don't try, we guarantee that a couple of people continue to suffer, and the world stays worse than it needs to be. But… if we do try, then we might wind up risking more than we can possibly fix."

A slightly bitter smile, then a one-shouldered shrug. "Not in my case, admittedly. I'm a one-armed, half-mad and inactive courier for a network that no longer seems to have any real need for me. But you're… your position, your knowledge, your access are valuable. And this might be a chance to 'prove' your loyalty to those monitoring you. So perhaps this is a time when you should stand back. Let the people watching you see what a good servant you are.

"Me…." Ygraine closes her eyes. "I was already intending to go to visit the in-laws to celebrate the sling coming off - which is due to happen on Thursday. Perhaps I'll see if they fancy a trip up to Toronto for the weekend. I took Jen there for New Year. But I'm not sure I should put them in any danger. They certainly don't deserve it."

Elisabeth's blue eyes are grave. "Don't take anyone with you. And take a prepaid cell that someone else has bought for you, and get the number to me. I'll be swapping sim cards in my phone and I'll call you with my new number." She smiles a little. "This phone is one of the last ones Wireless set up. I've managed to hold onto it, so I figure if I swap sim cards, it'll be in the clear when I disappear. For a while." She looses a heavy sigh. "I'm going to get in touch with Ryans or Raith personally and let them know what's coming down. And if they're planning on raiding… " Elisabeth shrugs. "If I'm going all-in, I might as well go all the way in. Might even take my Horizon armor with me." She grins wickedly. Multimillion-dollar equipment theft too!

Ygraine looks thoroughly startled. And rather impressed, in all truth. "If you go ahead with this and you have need for a half-mad half-cripple, do let me know", she murmurs, the ghost of a smile curling her lips. "But… is there some way we could get the information out without exposing you? Some… reserve world-class hacker you or the Ferry happen to have up your sleeves who can at least give the impression of a break-in that might have picked up on all this? Of course, I've not seen hide nor hair of Wireless since she had me run those physical messages for her."

"Right…. the agent hand-walks a top secret document into my headquarters with the locations of BOTH transfers, requests two FRONTLINE soldiers, myself not allowed because I'm under DoEA investigation for helping falsify registrations already, and it gets out…. and it wasn't me?" Elisabeth smiles faintly. "Richard has told me for two years that I was going to need to choose which side of this line to stand on, Ygraine. Or I'd be pushed over it. This time I'm not going to just let it happen, I'm going to jump. Richard won't be thrilled, but…. frankly, I don't see any way around it anyway. The net's closing and even though Pak's in my corner and even if I somehow don't send this information on, they'll just find another way to come at me." She sounds weary. "I hate the paperwork anyway."

Ygraine squirms uncomfortably as Elisabeth recounts her stance - letting out a startled bark of laughter at the end. "And what better reason could there be for starting a revolution?", she asks with a smile. "Will… will Redbird be okay? Sorry - not my place to pester you about that sort of thing. I'm just… worried. Knowing that there's one security force out there that's not under Humanis influence is… welcome, to say the least."

"I'm sure they'll be trawling for Redbird too, but…. I think Redbird's in position to be okay." Elisabeth looks upward. "At least for a while longer," she murmurs. "I'll see what I can do about getting at least one of the FRONTLINE escorts out there who may be willing to throw the fight." She looks back at Ygraine and smiles a little. "Let's hope my lawyer has enough time to get my ducks in a row by Friday."

"I was just thinking that I should see a lawyer tomorrow, and sign over my apartment to Jen. Call it an anniversary gift, or something." Ygraine smiles sadly once more, then shakes her head. "Stop it being an asset that can be legally snatched if they decide to move against me."

A slight hesitation, then she sets down her mug and leans forward, reaching for Elisabeth's hand. "I admire you. I hope you realise that. You've got… more to sacrifice here than me. Part of me's saying that I should get on the first plane I can and head for home. Heck, head for France. It's not as if Paris has much love for recent US administrations. But I'm not at all sure I'd make it through the airport even if I tried. And I'd be running away again. But you don't even seem to be considering running."

"Where would I go, Ygraine?" Elisabeth's voice is soft. "I chose this path when I chose to join Phoenix and SCOUT at the same time. I knew the risks. Hell, I've already been arrested for my actions once and presidentially pardoned. You don't think I went into this knowing that it was merely a matter of time before I hit the wall again?" The blonde shrugs a little. "To every man, there comes in his lifetime, that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talents; What a tragedy if that moment should find him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour."

Ygraine looks a little surprised, then chuckles softly. "You're in touch with people who run an underground railroad, and you don't even think of using it. Instead, you spontaneously quote Churchill to prove why you should do all you can. Don't be surprised if people think that you're rather admirable."

Ducking her head, the Briton sighs and tightens her grip on Elisabeth's hand. "Selfishly, I don't want to lose you. But… right. So. I can probably arrange to head up to Toronto on Survivors and Liberty business. There're civil rights groups up there I can drop in on for a chat about shared publicity and the like. That should get me out of the way on Friday and Saturday, assuming I can get through the border. But I need to be here on Thursday night, for the opening of the exhibition, so I'll be in the city till Friday morning. And if you do have a use for me, let me know."

Elisabeth laughs softly. "OH, I'll use it. I'll evacuate through Francois and Teo. I know there's at least one safehouse in Manhattan proper that hasn't been raided, but I dont' want to immediately bolt for Ferry locales because if I'm under surveillance, I don't want them following me. And I dont' want to bolt for Endgame safehouses for the same reason." She squeezes Ygraine's hand. "You on the other hand…. you should get the hell out first thing Saturday morning and double back, head for the Endgame safehouse."

"Not go to Canada?", Ygraine asks. "I'd been thinking that if I went up on Friday, I should be able to get through. They probably won't want to snare me and risk alerting the Ferry to a problem…. But if you want to move around the city in a way that can't be tailed, use me. I never did get the nerve up to learn the sewer networks of Manhattan in detail, but the ability to travel on the ceiling of tunnels can rather transform what counts as a viable route. Likewise, being able to use vertical shafts as easily as horizontal passages."

Elisabeth shudders a little. "I…. would prefer we not use the tunnels if we can avoid it." She clears her throat. "Scotophobic," she admits. "Since Humanis First, I've had problems in the dark."

Ygraine blinks, pauses, then reaches over again. "Crap. I'm sorry", she murmurs. "I'm just terrified of people. Makes living in a big city kind of stupid, huh? But… yeah. Well. If it's an emergency, bear me in mind. Certainly if you want anyone else moved. It's a little tiring - I discovered in the Dome that I burn calories doing it, which was a bit of a problem in there - but I can take small groups. And we can walk, even run if we're careful. We're not stuck in a Spiderman crawl. So especially when I'm not following the lines of streets, I can move under the city surprisingly quickly compared to those on the surface."

"I'd… I'd offer you the services of an inhumanly good biker as a get-away driver, but I had Alfred shipped up to the in-laws for safety, rather than leaving him unridden in New York for months while I got the strength in my arm back."

That makes Elisabeth laugh. "Well… I have a bike. And… I may even have a driver for her. Remi gave her to me, and I haven't had the chance to give it back." She shrugs a little. "It'll be okay."

"I can cheat. Even as a passenger, though I'm the only person used to dealing with the tweak", Ygraine explains. "I can effectively increase downforce and lower the centre of gravity for the bike and rider combination, which has quite an impact when cornering at high speed, if you're willing to go beyond the 'normal' limits. But… Remi gave you a bike? Wow. I'd no idea the two of you knew each other. She invited me to a surprise dinner, then gave me a diamond necklace for my birthday. Partly as an apology for letting her butler deal with my efforts to get in touch for the previous few years, admittedly."

Elisabeth mmms. "Well, she gave me a bike, but I don't know how to drive the thing." She grins. But … anyway, let me… wrap my head around what I need to do. Ygraine, be careful. And with this showing you've got coming up, keep an eye on Jaiden too."

Ygraine sighs and nods. "We're trying to watch out for each other. Well, he sometimes seems to be trying to treat me as a fragile object to be wrapped up and coddled, at times - but he means well. And we make a good team. And thus far, it looks as if the exhibition's doing okay. We were worried there'd be an immediate response from Humanis as soon as we announced its existence and opened the doors at all, but it seems that anything they are planning is being saved for the formal grand opening. Yay. But… we're trying to be careful. And to make sure that we've got community support - we chose the location precisely because the businesses there are keen for custom and publicity. So hopefully the people on the spot want this to succeed as well."

Elisabeth nods. "All right." She sighs. "Let me go ahead and get back. I need to move some assets around into my dad's name." She smiles a little. "God, Richard's going to kill me. I'll see you later, okay?"

That prompts another seizing of Elisabeth's hand, Ygraine delivering a firm squeeze and even managing to find a smile that is only slightly wobbly. "We've got all the rest of the Potter films to get through, so I'd better. And perhaps giving the apartment to Dad might make sense. Call it a repayment of his support to me through my earlier competitive years. Hrmm. That could well be secure."

A slight shake of her head, then Ygraine smiles again. "Thank you. For everything. And… the very best of luck."

"Make sure I have the number to the new phone," Elisabeth says. "See you at the safehouse in a few days." Because it's definitely looking like it's going to be required.

"I'll make sure you have a couple for me", Ygraine assures her. "And… definitely the safehouse rather than Canada?" The Briton looks distinctly guilty, asking Elisabeth to tell her what to do, but seems scared enough that she's doing so anyway.

"I don't honestly think you'll get across the border," Elisabeth says quietly. "If you try, they may just arrest you there. Better you're here on our turf."

Ygraine swallows, meeps faintly, then nods. "Safehouse it is, then", she croaks, before venturing a swift, tight smile. "Take care of yourself. Sod the movement, or caring for freedom. I need someone to watch Harry Potter with me."

"Pack the DVDs… I guess we'll have the time," Elisabeth quips as she slips out.

Unexpectedly, Ygraine finds herself laughing. She might feel like they're lambs to the slaughter, but at least they're going with a crazy grin on their lips.

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