The First Draft


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Also featuring…

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Scene Title The First Draft
Synopsis After a great deal of in-house discussion, Grace calls in a couple of independent opinions to help their nascent plan take real form.
Date November 20, 2009

The Hangar

There are plans afoot, and they've taken over the office space on the Hangar's third floor — table and desk covered with photos, some kind of blueprints or maps, printed-out (or in several cases handwritten) notes and letters, several colors of sticky-notes, and lists in multiple variations — the kind of variations that come from a succession of brainstorming sessions. This, no that, what about the other thing, back to this again.

The room itself is quiet at the moment, occupied only by Grace Matheson; dressed in a burgundy knit shirt and dark blue jeans, she sits in a chair back a bit from the table, shoes propped on a patch of bare wood at the nearest edge in complete disregard of any rules of propriety. She has a spiral-bound notebook in hand and twiddles with a pencil in the other, taking notes or reviewing notes or just zoning out on something that's been hashed and rehashed a few too many times over.

And waiting. There's a few people whose presence has been requested, it being about time to move out of planning and into practice. When they show up, the gruff acting door-warden named Scott will direct them up here to interrupt Grace's reverie. Until then? She's free to let her thoughts run in circles.

The first person to slip in the front door past the big man guarding the door is a redhead who has been spending her days torn between admin duty at the Suresh Center — which she hates with a passion — and field work helping with the scarlet fever outbreak. The latter is where she feels most at home, but a girl's gotta eat after all. Megan Young enters the meeting room wearing clothes that indicate she was on duty at the Center until she got here — a sleek chocolate skirt topped with a metallic copper silk blouse, her dark auburn hair pulled into a twist and a pair of three inch heels bringing her somewhere close to the six-foot mark in height. Almost as soon as she steps into the room, the shoes come off at the doorway and Meg glances toward the head of the table. "Christ, I thought this day would never end." She sets her handbag just as casually on the floor with the shoes and pads toward the table. "Pretty please tell me you have the coffee on?" As always, Megan's movements and words are brisk and efficient unless she needs to slow down.

The next person who enters the room is Leonardo Raphael Maxwell, wearing an expensive black suit with a business-friendly expression. He nods to the man at the door, nodding to everyone in the room. "Leonardo Maxwell." he introduces, already seeking a seat. "And I hope you don't mind, but my bodyguard will be here. He won't be a problem, he simply goes everywhere with me."

And right after Leonardo, in comes said bodyguard, Cassius. Grabbing a seat, he walks to the corner and salutes with a casual grin. "Don't mind me, ladies. My lips are zipped, I'll just sit here having inappropriate thoughts." It's hard to say why Cassius is a bodyguard, considering he's shorter and smaller built than his boss, but, there must be something more to him!

Looking up at Megan's entrance, the dark-haired woman chuckles, the sound that of gravel abrading stone. "Think about who lives here. There is always coffee." Bringing her feet down to the floor, Grace stands up — and pauses to nod to Leonardo and Cassius as they enter. Her lips quirk to one side in a hint of a smirk at the salute, which the woman doesn't return. "Welcome, Leonardo. I'm glad you could make it." Pale blue eyes flick to the now-empty doorway. "Which means any moment now…"

Feet clatter loudly on the stairs — large feet in heavy shoes, or just a rather tall teenager, matching Leonardo in height. At least when Leonardo is standing. Slightly out of breath, the blonde youth manages not to trip over the chair he almost collides with, and casts a grin across the table at Grace. "I'm not even going to ask," she informs him. "Go get coffee for the guests, rat," the woman adds, affectionate exasperaton clear even beneath the gravelly tone. Grace glances over at Leonardo. "I presume you drink coffee," she says; although if he doesn't, the boy has already taken off amidst a ruckus of feet and stairs, and it's too late to change the order.

As if that were ever in doubt. Megan shoots the rough-voiced brunette a smile, drops into a seat, and crosses her long legs ever so gracefully even as she starts pulling pins out of her red tresses. Blue eyes skim over the new arrival and she nods to him. "Megan Young," she replies. "Charmed," is what she says to Cassius. And then she waves to the kid who ran for coffee, calling after him, "SWEET and LIGHT too!" She looks at the group and asks easily, "So! What've we got?"

"You presume correctly." Leonardo casually confirms, beginning to look over the various notes and blueprints on the table with expert eyes. "I'm here to offer any help you may need, be it financially or otherwise."

"Opinions, ideas, resources… heck, mostly we need a bit of everything," Grace remarks to Leonardo with evident (albeit bone-dry) humor. "Lemme lay out the concept, and then maybe you can tell me what you think and where you can chip in best."

She doesn't wait for replies to that, but steps around the table and considers the definitely-not-organized chaos of papers on its surface. "The city's… calling it a mess is being generous. Most public transportation is a distant memory, half the grid might as well not exist, never mind the mess with insurance, permits, squatters, and money — as in, there isn't any. Not at any level; while the city government's trying to do something the Feds are tying up most of their money in the Evolved issue, and the city by itself just doesn't have the resources to even keep what's running going well for much longer." Grace looks across at Megan and Leonardo. "It's all there in public records if you take the time to look… but no one's looking anywhere except at Evolved, Humanis First, and things of that nature.

"If anything's going to improve, the city's going to have to take care of itself. By which I mean the people. Us." The corners of the dark-haired woman's mouth pull back in a hint of a smile, and she waves at the mess on the table. "Which is what all this comes down to — how we can start turning things around for the people in our city."

Raising her eyebrows, Megan admits, "I'm all for that, but…. gotta tell you, mobilizing the people of this city is going to be one hell of a job. I spent months out on Staten … it's a pit. And a lot of the main island's not actually much better." She starts looking at some of the papers. "What kinds of ideas do you already have on the table?"

"Well…" Leonardo continues looking over the papers, but doesn't comment on them yet. "A very important piece of information for me to be able to help is knowing the general area we'll start with, then we can spread out. Now, assuming you're speaking of Staten, I'd suggest working around the Rookery. As the neighborhoods gradually improve, eventually law enforcement will be confident enough to handle that area of the island. But I'd love to hear any ideas you already have."

Grace snorts softly. "No kidding. We're going to start small, though — one neighborhood at a time. You know what they say about avalanches." Blue eyes flick to Leonardo, and the woman nods briefly. "Actually, we're thinking neither Manhattan nor Staten. Where did it go…?"

As Grace flips through the disorganized mess of papers, the youth reappears in the doorway, carrying a rather plain-looking tray that he sets down on the nearer pile of papers. "Hope whatever you're looking for wasn't under there," he comments, before flashing a broad smile at Liz. "Name's Mouse," he says, turning to nod at Leonardo. "You'll have to fix it however you like it." The teen snatches up his own cup and moves to the unoccupied side of the table — leaving only two on the tray, along with the various additives.

Pulling a map out from under several layers of documents and notes, Grace glances over at the mugs. "I don't get any, huh?" "Nope." The woman snorts softly, laying out the map. "Actually, we're looking at Roosevelt Island. Smaller scale, little less of the 'city' mentality to overcome, and we can use the Suresh Center as a local staging ground; they've already agreed to act as a depot for some of the more legal logistics."

Megan looks thoughtful. "Roosevelt has a lot going for it in that regard. A population who wants to recover, first and foremost." Something Staten doesn't evidence a lot of the time. "Hi, Mouse," she greets the young man with a grin, and then she pours coffee into cups and helps herself to one of them while she listens. "What exactly are you thinking to do there? More of a relief effort kind of thing, or …. something more along the lines of a grassroots 'take back the neighborhood' kind of campaign?"

"As far as permits and such, I can easily handle that." Leonardo says as he looks over the map, slowly rubbing his chin. "I only own a few properties on Roosevelt, mostly unused space. But what exactly is your plan and what do you need for it?"

Grace nods to Megan. "Something like the second. More a 'lead by example' endeavor. If we can get one neighborhood restored, maybe a second later — even if only a few percent of the city's population take heart from it, that's enough to start with."

Smoothing out the map, the woman brackets a few blocks with her hands. "We don't need to own the land; don't want to, because that'll cause complications for us down the line. Permits will help, because even repair and refitting needs to be to code if it's going to hold up in the long term — politically and in public opinion, not physically. We're thinking of picking out a neighborhood that's in bad shape and bringing it back to good shape — which means we'll need everything from construction work to gardening to food and water for volunteers. And some people who probably won't work for free. And stuff I haven't thought of, which is one reason I was hoping to get outside opinions."

There's a long pause, and Megan looks at the scope of the project that Grace is laying out. "Wow," she breathes quietly. "You do know that some of that territory's been claimed by gangs, right? You're going to need to convince the residents themselves that it's safe to pull this off." She grimaces a little. "Not like it's the first time, though…. you can count me in on this." She grins up at Grace. "Not like I'm not right there at the Center most of the time anyway."

There's a long pause, and Megan looks at the scope of the project that Grace is laying out. "Wow," she breathes quietly. "You do know that some of that territory's been claimed by gangs, right? You're going to need to convince the residents themselves that it's safe to pull this off." She grimaces a little. "Not like it's the first time, though…. you can count me in on this." She grins up at Grace. "Not like I'm not right there at the Center most of the time anyway."

Cassius raises a hand, despite his earlier promises to keep quiet. "Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice you might be having a problem with gangs? I could go in and try a little public relations myself."

"Noted." Leonardo says rather dismissively, then focuses back to the discussion. "Workers, food and water, I can handle that, but what I'll need you to do is get locals on board, and I can have professionals aid them in repair, and inspectors make absolutely sure it's up to code. You're right, we don't want to be outsiders, so the most difficult part will be getting locals and starting a campaign. The business and resources side, I've got that."

Grace glances over at Cassius, and inclines her head. "We might need that after a bit. I'll keep the offer in mind; thank you." Her gaze shifts to Leonardo. "That is our job," she agrees. "Handling the people aspect. Resources are harder on our budget; I'd appreciate the help with that." And then to Megan. "Darla's going to be relocating out there; with Grand Central in full swing now, the Foxhole can be stepped down another notch. Couple of others, too. Between them they should be able to manage a first line if and when trouble comes up."

There's a slow nod and Megan says, "All right. Well… I helped open and run the clinic that Chicago Air had going out on Staten, and most of what I'm doing at Suresh is paperwork. I can certainly start getting out there, but … honestly, Grace, I'm not exactly a construction worker. I've done my share of helping out, but I can't help you run this. I can help coordinate maybe."

"My company has construction contracts, Maxwell Development Corporation is primarily a real estate company. We remodel quite frequently. But again, what I'd be aiming for here is a mixture of professionals helping and educating locals. We'll help them help themselves." Leonardo elaborates a bit more, appearing quite interested in the project at this point, taking a few notes on his PDA.

Grace shakes her head at Megan. "The barest fraction is construction; it's about the whole neighborhood. Can you garden? Can you put wires where someone else directs? Can you teach games to the kids? What about handing out hot chocolate and coffee? Get the neighborhood to sit down together around dinner, talk to one another, think about what they can do to make their own lives better. The infrastructure — houses, generators, garden plots and weed-cleanup — is just a little part; there's everything from new clothes to clean curtains in building a space that people can have pride in living in." She nods to Leonardo. "That's exactly what it is, Leonardo; not just repair but making the people open up their eyes and see what they can do if they work together." Blue eyes return to Megan, gaze intent; a hint of a subtle, crooked smile tugs at her lips. "Don't tell me you can't help with 'something like that', because that is exactly the attitude we want to eradicate."

Megan laughs softly. "Those things I can definitely do."

"Good, now we just need to find the neighborhood we're gonna work with, and I can begin making calls and getting things set up. I'm sure there's a few city officials who'd like to get in on it for some votes, but the important thing is their contribution and how it'll reflect that the people, including the government, are trying." Leonardo leans over the map, grabbing a pen so he can start taking a closer look at locations, trying to remember what the individual neighborhoods are like.

Grace props her forearms on the edge of the table, leaning forward over the map. "Let's pick out a few, and we can go scope them out in-person next week." Where 'we' could mean anyone from the people in this room to any representatives of the plan. "Hm. We have satellite images of most of the island, also — some of them pretty close-in. Those are…" The woman straightens and scans the room. "…over there," she concludes, spotting the stack in question.

Retrieving those pages leads to yet another layer of cellulose being deposited on the main table, and another long session of back-and-forth discussion as the merits and drawbacks of various neighborhoods are considered; there are more lists, with lines scribbled out, notes squished into margins; Mouse fetches coffee two more times before his boredom reaches critical mass and the kid disappears.

This is the beginning of the 'Home Front' storyline…

Next in this storyline…
The Structural Survey

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