The Distance Of Friend And Foe


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Scene Title The Distance of Friend and Foe
Synopsis The fate of the Company refugees is decided.
Date September 2, 2010

Gun Hill

No one is using the clinic anymore.

Fluorescent lights do little to hide the layer of dust that has accumulated on the furnishings of Odessa Price's clinic in the basement of the Gun Hill apartment building. An examination table still laid out with a sterile rice paper sheet crinkles under the weight of Noah Bennet. "Abigail, I'm fine," is his grousing commentary as pale fingers slide horn-rimmed glasses off of his face and a tissue daubs at blood under his nose. The purple and black bruise around Noah's right eye, however, begs to differ with his explanation.

Arms folded across his chest and leaning against the concrete wall beneath one of the basement windows, Scott Harkness watches Abigail tending to Noah's bloody nose and black eye with one raised brow. "She took it that well, did she?" Scott lifts one hand to scratch at the side of his neck, looking to the clinic door as it opens, eyeing the last of the council arrivals making their way in under the desaturating fluorescent ceiling lights.

"Hana and I discussed everything," Noah says as he winces when Abby's tissue daubing presses just a little too firmly against his nose, perhaps demonstratively so; this is what you get Mister Bennet, for getting into fights. "Trust me, we worked it all out." Though if a black eye and a bloody nose is how Hana and Noah resolve their differences, Scott Harkness would hate to see what a fight would look like.

"I'm sorry for calling you all here so abruptly," Noah explains as he looks over the top of Abby's head, then down to the spots of blood on the front of his shirt, "but I think if you've all been watching the news the last couple of days, you realize what it is we're here to talk about…"

Scott's lips downturn into a frown, a deep sigh is exhaled and his dark eyes wander over to the red-headed figure of Susan Ball standing by one of the lightly dusted examination tables, where surgical equipment is still resting on white cloth. Noah's voice, though, draws Scott's attention back.

"We're here to discuss the refugees from the Company."

The lean and weary face of Patrick Hale looks more tired than usual, tired eyes glancing here and there in this basement-turn-clinic until they are all called to order. Dressed in a fire department polo and a pair of jeans, his feet in work boots crossed at the ankles, he leans back against a counter. "We got a number at all? How many made it out alive, how many need safekeeping, how many got sent off in coffins, how many died?" he says in his low, soft-spoken voice.

The firm press isn't for the fact that he got into a physical altercation. It's because she was on a date with Caliban and the message on her phone - she should have left it at home - wasn't exactly one that the young blonde medic could very well ignore. Also because the two of them haven't been careful and there's a few spots of red dotting the shell pink sheath she's wearing. Pearls in ears - fake - stylish heels - black, far too tall - and blonde hair back in such a way as to tell that she wasn't over at the olive garden.

Pink cheeks, pink glossy lips, she isn't meaning to take her frustration out on Noah. It's the first time she's had to abandon Caliban in the middle of a date. She's fine when he does it, it apparently doesn't sit well with herself when she does it. But duty calls. "Put your head back Noah Bennet or I will have Eileen come over here and do this and I will make sure she's not so gentle" Company agents fleeing. She wondered if Ryans was one of them, if Veronica had made it out or Corbin.

Occupying space near a wall is Cat, her eyes observing Bennet as he's tended to. He doesn't look quite as bad as she might imagine someone would after such a discussion with Hana. He must've talked really fast, she decides, and saved himself a sound thrashing. Or worse. Commenting on it is eschewed, she leaving the floor in the hands of that fortunate survivor for now.

Joseph actually lives in this building, so go figure. It's a stark contrast to the huge treks from mainland to Staten Island, to simply go down the stairwell and here he is — and somehow he managed to be late this time, if not overly, just among the last to congregate in the ex-clinic. He doesn't say anything at this juncture, grave acnowledgment of Noah's words showing in a twist of a half-smile. Joseph's own experience with the Company is peripheral at best, but certainly memorable.

Forget gentle: Eileen's hands are cold, and tonight she isn't wearing her lambskin gloves. In contrast to Abigail's more stylish clothes, the Englishwoman's are much more utilitarian. Gun Hill is a long way from the Dispensary on Staten Island, it's after dark and crossing the water that separates the boroughs is riskiest at night. Faded denim, lightweight wool and soft leather in subdued tones provide excellent urban camouflage.

She lets Patrick's question stand. So does Yuan Tien, who stands near the door by the stairs and teases a tongue depressor between his large fingers. No sign of Grace and no sign of McRae — not everyone on the council could make it, for the exact reasons Bennet is apologizing for.

"I have a handful of members of the Company, trusted associates that helped with an operation in Russia, that are currently in my care." Bennet's use of his care and not our care helps define the difference between what he assumes is the Ferrymen's responsibility and what is his own personal belief in what is the right thing to do. Tilting his head back at Abigail's request, Noah offers an askance look to Eileen, then Patrick.

"Benjamin Ryans, Gael Cruz, Liza Messer, Gracie Lee, Lashirah Lee and Corbin Ayers… I'm pretty sure that's all of them. Director Dalton and I have been working on a recuperation plan since before the trip to Russia. She reached out to us for help, and Ryans has already assisted us, along with Corbin, in getting a young girl in Seattle into the Ferry's care on the west coast…"

Lifting up a hand to the side of his cheek, Bennet feels for the inevitable swelling. "Personal choices aside, Hana understands the necessity of this maneuver. If we allow the Company's operatives ot fall into Institute hands, we lose valuable resources… and we allow the Institute to potential gather sensitive information about our networks that the Company has had since Ananda Kaur infiltrated Phoenix last year…"

Patrick ticks off the names on his fingers, coming up with six, and gives a nod. "They all got a place to stay? I know some folks might not be too happy about keepin' 'em, but I can see your point. If the typical safehouse gang aren't too happy about having the goons around, I can house a couple, maybe three at my house out in Long Beach. I'm not there half the time, and it's quiet enough, no one'll bug them there," is Patrick's easygoing acceptance of what they're being asked to do.

Done as much as she can do. Abigail backs away from Bennet, start tidying up what's been used and disposing of it. "Are any of them in need of any medical attention, anything they need specifically that might otherwise, well, they might not be able to get or just some company." Abigail looks over. "Has Agent Ryan's family been located and brought there as well or to another place? I Have Delia's number and lucille's

"Delia Ryans was collected on the thirty-first," Cat informs, "and is staying here, with Huruma. The status of Lucille Ryans is unknown, though I believe she wasn't at their home. If she were, I believe Delia would've been with her at the collection point, or mentioned her still being there. There are other persons I know about who might also need assistance as time goes on." Whether or not she's already moved to do so. "Family members and associates attached to Company enterprises, or the assets of Company founders who could either be in direct danger or potentially used as bait." She opts not to speak of that claim Noah made, the only sign she heard it spoken is a glance his way and a slight narrowing of eyes.

"Hold up. Why don't we let 'em run for a change?"

This from the other Christian in the room, Joseph's mouth going into a rueful sort of shape, a hand out, palm upturned. "We hid our people from the likes of them. Now they're bein' brought into the light for what they did and I ain't shedding a tear over that, no sir. If it's a matter of denying the government the information these people carry, then that's one thing, and we should consider how to make sure they don't get our information that they decide they got enough to bargain with if being chased don't suit them fine. I mean, apart from Patrick offering his sofa to crash on.

"I'm glad they helped out in Russia or whatever the heck, but, how friendly are we prepared t'be in return?"

"Joseph's right, and can we be sure that it's safe?" Susan asks, no real accusation in her tone this evening. "There's been talk of a leak for a long time. I don't want us to accidentally introduce one if these operatives of yours are still loyal to their original mission statement. From what I've heard, they're not all that different from the Institute, present company excluded."

"I do not know if it's better," Tien says, "to hide them in a densely populated area or one of the safehouses on Staten Island if we agree to hide them at all. Away from people, their chances of being recognized are slim, but the chances of the Garden or the Sweat Lodge being discovered increase with every day that passes. I'm not about to suggest that we close them down, of course — we can't afford to — just that we be cautious as the government continues to reclaim the island."

Eileen's brow knits at this observation, and her continued silence indicates that she doesn't disagree with Tien's assessment of the Staten Island situation. "If we're going to do this," she says, "we should keep them together to minimize the number of people they're exposed to until we can determine whether or not they're trustworthy. Putting them all in one safehouse isn't a long term solution, but it may be necessary for the first few weeks or months. Which property would hurt us the least if we lost it?"

"Fitzpatrick safehouse." Abigail offers. "Damon and Clark are absent, it's in queens, easy access across the river, more than enough space. I can help with them, they know of me already. Ayers helped during the winter when the Den had to be evacuated." Screw the dirt, the shoes are coming off and as Abigail leans over and lifting foot after foot, she's down about four or five inches and stockinged feet settle on the floor. "They can be put to work helping sort the clothes and other supplies that come in there. It'll keep em busy instead of sitting about and wallowing"

"Lucille Ryans is currently in Paris from what I've been able to ascertain," Noah takes the important parts first, his hand coming up to pinch his nose, brows furrowed and eyes shut. "I'm watching her flights like I imagine the US Government might be. We're going to try and pull her out of the airport when she comes back to the states, it's too risky to try and make a journey overseas, not so soon after what happened in St.Petersburg."

Looking to Susan, then Tien, Noah seems reluctant to disagree, but it's Joseph that surprises him. "I though tyou were all about turning the other cheek, Pastor Sumter." That much is Noah's biting commentary for the night. "The Company is no different from any other organization, ours included. It has its fair share of untrustworthy and dangerous individuals, but that does not mean they're all that way. Benjamin Ryans is trustworhy and he's someone I've known for years. He's in the same boat I was before all of this started for me," there's a look around the room, then to Joseph again.

"I will not abandon a man and his family to chance, and I don't think amny of you would like to either. If we're careful about the operatives we take in, scrutinize them like we would any other occupant, than we should be safe. Between Hana and I we know these agents, we can cross-reference their activities with previous experiences. Right now, I don't think we can afford to make an enemy out of them, not when they didn't take us down when they had the chance. When Kaur infiltrated our organization, the Company had enough data on us to crush us under their heel…"

Noah reaches for his glasses, stubbornly unfolding them and sliding them back on. "I vote that we allow them to move in to our protection, provided that they undergo a background search by Hana and I. Right now they're cooped up in a warehouse on Long Island, but they'll only be safe there for a few more days. I used my contacts at Langstrom Shipping to keep them safe, but they want them gone by Monday."

Noah looks to Abby, then slowly shakes his head. "Fitzpatrick's safehouse is a shipping lane, I won't risk any essential locations. There's a reason I had this meeting here. I'd like for them to be safeguarded here at Gun Hill. Losing this tenement building would be the least vital structure we could sacrifice and the presence of background tenants might help mask them. Remember, these are all trained agents. They aren't scared young kids. They're going to understand protocol and know how to lay low and go to ground. We just need to give them a chance… The strength that some of these agents could lend our network outweighs the risks in my mind."

Bennet looks down to his lap, then reaches up to his tie, scrubbing at a spot of blood on it with his thumb. "Tien is right in that it's too dangerous to keep them on Staten Island, especially long term. Most Evolved Company agents have been marked by a radio isotope tracking device, two black marks, usually on the neck." Scraping at a dried corner of the blood, Bennet's eyes remain focused on his tie.

"Sabra Dalton put an encryption on the satellite controls, in order to prevent the satellite system from falling into the Institute's control. But it's only going to be a matter of time before they defeat the encryption and get control of the system again, and when that happens— we have many marked people already in our network." Bennet's eyes lift up to Abby, then look to Susan. "We're going to need to come up with a long-term plan to defeat that satellite system…"

Nodding at the mention of Gun Hill, Patrick clears his throat. "Gun Hill makes sense. I don't think there's anyone actually staying there under protective services, so to speak, right?" he asks. But the conversation takes a turn for the even-more serious, and he gives a shake of his head. "I've seen the marks. Got a boy in my battalion with one." He rubs the back of his own neck, as if the talk of the mark makes it ache, though he himself has no such hash mark on his neck.

"Is it something our technopaths can do, screw up those satellites? Even that might be short-term, if the Institute has the tech necessary to put up a new one. Is there something we can do to counter the actual isotope in the body itself?" he asks curiously.

"I was asked about that very thing after the news broke," Cat shares, "by a technopath. I told her the names and source of the two satellites involved with that tracking system, she desires to make them go away. I advised her to contact the other technopaths, such a thing won't happen without them. She's already sent messages, and is awaiting reply." The name Kaur is still not addressed.

"As for the operatives themselves, I agree with giving them safe harbor under the conditions Noah outlined."

Joseph only shrugs, a hand rubbing at the side of his neck as if to relieve some amount of tension and discomfort. "Livin' by scripture don't take over trying to keep everyone safe. I hope I'm not disappointin' you," he says, without particular aggression — as he has none, not for anyone here — but with obvious unease. One of the bleeding hearts are a little fairweather about being so. "This is all your call. Said my concern and I trust whatever decision gets made here t'day."

Pragmatic of things such as day to day problems, of carpentry and morals and ethics, he doesn't offer suggestion for location, for beating the system, but does listen as his duty here dictates.

"Any system that the government can use to track our people and those under our protection should be addressed by Gitelman and Raith, their divisions, and anyone else they want to bring on board." This from Eileen. Susan has fallen silent again, her piece said. "We're an organizational committee, and with a few notable exceptions, we don't have the experience to be making any decisions until those who do can gather more information and present it to the council."

"From what Hana says, it won't be as easy as just wishing the problem away with her ability." There's a concerned expression on Noah's face as he slides off of the examination table, hard-soled shoes touching down to the floor with a click. "The satellites were designed to defend against people like Hana, stopping them may require something more involved than I think I'm prepared to speculate about right now…" Though Noah's commentary has Scott looking uncomfortable. "It'll be brought up at a more appropriate time."

Reaching up to scrub at the back of his neck, he keeps it to himself for now, lest the meeting be derailed by a less pertinent topic. "I'm fine with Gun Hill," Scott explains, "there's enough living space and it's not uncommon to see people coming and going from here. The Bronx is a busy neighborhood, and if the agents can lay low like you say, there shouldn't be any problems until we get their situations figured out. But I want you to be absolutely clear, Bennet," Scott leans off of the wall as he makes his point, "I'm trusting these people because you trust them, no more, no less. If this blows up in our face, that lands squarely on your shoulders."

"I know," Noah agrees quietly, "I'm well aware that if this situation goes upside down that it's my neck on the line with everyone else I'm putting in proximity to these agents…" Looking to Eileen, then over to Susan and Tien, Noah creases his brows, fingers alighting to his cheek to touch the swolen bruise at his eye again.

"I think you're the only ones I haven't heard a solid yes or no from, or a deference…" Noah's brows crease together, and then he looks back to Cat. "That goes for you as well. I know you have… history, with the Company. I want to know where you stand, Catherine."

"If it doesn't work out at Gun Hill, my offer stands, as long as you trust these folks enough not to stab me in the back the few days I actually crash at my own place," Patrick says, shoving hands deep in the pockets of his khaki pants. His green eyed gaze slides from Susan to Tien to Cat as Noah addresses them, and he quiets to hear their answers to the question posed.

"I will not pretend to suddenly love the Company's former operatives, and am tempted to do what Joseph said, let them run," Cat begins. "Particularly the surviving founders. They belong on death row. But I'm doubtful they'll get there, no announcements have been made about arrests of Linderman, Petrelli, and Bishop. This isn't surprising, Nathan probably doesn't want to make himself seem connected to the Company and will lie, just as he did about being SLC positive. As for the rank and file, most of them probably had no idea what they were attached to. Some have come to realize the truth near the end and acted honorably. For them, I hold no ill will." She pauses.

"Abraham Lincol said let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds. This applies to us, now, after a fashion."

"Someone other than you Noah, doing the background checks. You're too close to this, you're too close to them. Susan and someone else. Susan and… Hana, no getting around needing Hana and her ability and we all know that there is no love lost between her and the company" Proof of that painted across Noah's skin in shades of a rainbow. Abby nods to herself, what she's been ruminating over as she inhales deeply. Agree's with giving them shelter here at Gun Hill. "Is there anything else?"

"I'm not comfortable with it," Susan says, "but I wasn't comfortable with offering shelter to the Vanguard, either. If Joseph is willing to give them a chance, then I suppose I will too."

Tien slips the tongue depressor into his coat pocket. "And I have no objections. I'm sure Jensen and Special Activities will appreciate the additional muscle if they stick."

"Well put," Scott notes to Tien with a nod, offering a look up to Noah. "I'll get in touch with Hana, I think you've worn out your welcome, Bennet. I'll have her and Susan put them to the ropes and see what's going on with them, once you get me names." The request has Noah bobbing his head slowly, and realizing that between the Russian excursion where they lost Ivan and Katarina and now this inclusion of Company refugees into the Ferry, he's burning favors left and right.

"Alright, then it looks like we have a majority rule," which is going to infuriate McRae, likely. "I'll get in touch with the refugees from the Company and have them brought here over the next few days. Thankfully I had the foresight to have them maintained by a moving Company. One new tennant moving in and a few large boxes coming in to the apartment building shouldn't look too conspicious."

Shifting his weight to one foot, Noah looks around the group gathered, apologetically so to Abby, then runs one hand through his hair. "There's some spare rooms for anyone staying tonight to avoid curfew check. If you're braving the streets," which is pointedly delivered to Eileen, since he knows she of all people will not set down roots anywhere but on Staten Island for a night, "be careful? The city's on pretty high alert right now."

This may not have been a personal matter for Noah, but it is a matter of fulfilling a last wish. While Ivan Spektor did not directly ask Noah to take care of these agents for him, he did give him the warning necessary to get this set in motion. With Ivan dead and gone and Katarina still in Russia, there is a burden of guilt on Bennet's shoulders to do right by old colleagues and friends.

And also to follow that old adage about how close to keep friends…

…and how close to keep enemies.

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