The Grim-Eyed Lion


corbin_icon.gif harper_icon.gif kayla_icon.gif lashirah_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title The Grim-Eyed Lion
Synopsis Greek myth.: The Chimera was said to be an amalgamation of three animals: lion, goat, and serpent.
Members of the Company (and one uninvited guest) share evidence and address the fact that one of their own is involved.
Date July 3, 2010

Fort Hero: Conference Room

It took longer than it should have to get this meeting together — something that irks Kayla Reid no end, but gathering evidence takes time, lining up people's schedules takes time, and they all have other jobs to do. Especially her; especially now. The red-haired administrative assistant looks distinctly displeased, as in 'might just bite the head off anyone foolish enough to be irritating', as she fulminates at the head of the conference table. Dressed in her usual professionalistic attire, she drums her fingers erratically on the closed filefolder before her. Waiting, with no patience and even less grace, for other people to arrive.

The computers and high-tech displays are all dead-black: no powerpoints today.

The sound of boots is what likely gives away the approach of the next agent to enter before she even reaches the door. Lashirah is dressed, it seems, more for her 'cover' job then her normal one. Combat boots, military surplus fatigues, leather wrist-cuffs. Over all that, she's wearing a white lab coat, which contrasts heavily.

Computer printoffs in a folder in her hand, she was told in advance it seems that the equipment was on the fritz. She didn't bring her usually ever-present laptop and instead finds a seat about halfway down one of the sides of the table. She also brings with her her other signature item: a cup of liquid caffeine. Today, it's a still-too-hot-to-drink double mocha.

A weary looking Veronica slips in — other than her usual ubiquitous bruises, she has no major injuries with which to irritate Kayla today. From the look on Kayla's face, that's a good thing. Vee gives a pleasant enough nod to those assembled, settling into one of the chairs and lifting her own coffee mug to her lips to take a sip. Setting that down, she scrolls through her Blackberry, checking email and the like to see what's arrived in the few minutes it took her to get from office to conference room — it keeps her from having to chat with anyone.

To say he slipped in would be an exaggeration. Corbin seems to be disorganized without his computer and the lack of powerpoint presentations, cause he's carrying too many folders, all of which threaten to fall out of his arms as he hurries inside and sets them down on the table. The notepad on top has a pen stuck in the metal binding, but he doesn't look quite as ready as he might like to be, but like any former reporter, notepads are something he can handle, when he needs to, even if he always liked laptop note-taking more. The pen gets pulled out while he settles down near Veronica, and even if she's avoiding conversation by checking her email, she still gets a, "Hey, Sawyer."

Fortunately for Veronica, Kayla at least isn't interested in chatting. She sits up straighter as the others walk in, keen eyes resting on each in turn. Once Corbin has entered, she gets to her feet, pacing over to close the door behind him; when Kayla returns to the head of the table, she doesn't sit back down. Doesn't bother with pleasantries, either. "You're familiar with the Ritchie investigation." It's not a question. "Last Tuesday, a second body — one of our agents — was found at Siann Hall with similar… treatment. Agent Lee, I presume you have the results from forensics for that?"

Lashirah looks up, and nods, flipping open her file folder. She digs out a small PDA which she keeps other notes on as well. "… I just wish we'd been about two hours earlier to the scene. We'd found him alive, I'm pretty sure. Vocal cords were impeded, possibly damaged. Heart ruptured… Wait, that's not fair. Heart was literally split open like an orange. Messiest thing I ever have seen. Near twin to the Ritchie case. Checked to see if he had any material on loan from us due to the torn backpack strap, nothing from us. Pack's strap hasn't had a mate found for it, nor any other fibers matching it in the case files. A blond hair found on the shirt, not matching anything we have as well. DNA testing isn't back yet on the hair."

Glancing up at the disorganized agent who sits next to her, Veronica chuckles. "Hey, Ayers," she says, looking amused at the fumbling and reaching out to keep the stack of files from falling off the conference table, giving them a little nudge into a less precarious position. Kayla then has her attention. "The last DNA at the Ritchie scene was either planted or coincidental, it seems. It's possible this hair is another mislead on the case of the actual perp, once we get a lead on that," she says.

Lashirah sighs. "Yeah, it's possibly another plant. If so, whoever we're looking for is a pro at forensics themselves." She pauses a moment. "let's see. nothing but work-related calls on his phone, nothing that doesn't pan out…" She rubs her forehead. "We have a split open heart in one of our own."

Lashirah says, "And that's about all I really have so far."

"If it is a plant, like the last one, there could be a connection between the two that could lead to the real person, even if it's just them both going to the same coffee shop, or something like that," Corbin says, shifting the notepad aside to begin flipping through the folders to try and find the one he's looking for.

Lashirah nods a little. "I'll see if I can't get GPS logs from his phone." She states softly. She's visibly fustrated as she picks up her double mocha and takes a sip now that it is cool enough to drink. It's pretty obvious that Lashirah does NOT take well to NOT finding things. "… Working hypothesis. We're dealing with someone who knows my business well enough to make my job very difficult. A student at the very least, if not more accomplished, at forensics. With the ability to rip someone's heart open inside their chest without an external wound."

Kayla's fingernails rattle briefly against the tabletop. "I wouldn't bet on coincidental," she remarks to Veronica. "The bottle it came from, as well as the extracted DNA sample, have disappeared from forensics. Gone. Bloody completely." Sitting forward, she crosses her arms on the tabletop. "Even the computer file with the original test results was erased, and I'm told it was damn thoroughly done. Which means the sole remainder we have —" She opens a file folder, slides its contents out into the middle of the table: the test 'results' with William Benedict's Registry entry. "Is a hardcopy… that, in reality, anyone on base could have substituted." Or at least… anyone who knows the workings of a forensics lab… and what their people expect to see.

"So, it may never have been a match for Benedict at all," Veronica says dryly. "You're suggesting someone on base took the bottle and wiped out the computer file? We have yet another rogue agent killing our own?" She shakes her head. "This is getting really old, really quick. Can we make sure that we keep an eye on that hair then? It seems to me that the bottle wasn't a plant, but that results were fabricated, and the same thing might happen again if we don't watch the lab carefully."

"This is not a trend I'm liking, but it seems to be happening a lot these days," Corbin comments on the situation, same as Veronica did, in a quiet way. It has been happening quite a bit these days. Either one of their people, one of them from the past, or one of them being controlled by one of them. And now, there's other people on the base too… "Obviously Agent Lash would be a best of us here to watch the labs, but that doesn't mean it won't happen again." And it won't help at all if she's the culprit— but he has the tact not to mention that outloud, even if it might be a concern, considering their situation.

Lashirah considers all that was said. "Corbin, the archives are responsible for the computer administration for the base, yes?"

"Not really, no," Corbin responds after a few seconds. "I like computers, but archives is more hardcopy and paper files, though I like using computers more for sourcing. I was the weird one in the archives. And they resisted my desires to go with computer files more than not. So no, I wouldn't say yes to that."

"It probably wasn't," Kayla agrees grimly. She sits back in her chair, looking at the other three as they discuss labs and computers — only to head it off before it gets too far. "One other thing.

"Since we know there's some in-house tie, I did two things. I checked the records for employees known to have that kind of Evolved ability: none. And I asked Ayers to pull a list of people who accessed the recovered Montauk files, on the theory that they might have looked for inspiration or ideas there." Kayla nods to Corbin. "You want to share that list, see if any names stand out?"

"There were a couple people who accessed those files, yeah, including you and me, Reid," Corbin says, sifting through the files until he lays out a list of names for people to see if they choose to read them themselves, "Anne Morrison, me, Gael Cruz, Steven Monette, Martin Crowley, Nicolas Ahlgren, Chris Snyder, and you, Ms. Reid." Just as he said, the list includes both their names.

Veronica rubs her head. "I know it was Ahlgren who told me about the Benedict, but he made it clear he didn't do those labs. Doesn't mean he didn't swap those labs, of course. His ability is anatomically based, if he was maybe able to lie about what he could, couldn't do, I don't know," Veronica theorizes. "It's also possible that any of them were… persuaded by the other rogue agents in this assault against the Company… or they could be working with someone outside of the Company, or protecting them at any rate."

Lashirah pauses a moment. "Corbin, can you check the logs to see who issued the delete command on the DNA test… and requests to edit the log files?" She pauses a moment. "Also, who has physical access to the machine that holds our log files?" She frowns a bit. "More to the point, do we have anyone in Forensics who has admin-level access to the log files?"

Speaking of people who could have had access to the Montauk files, Desmond Harper is someone who would very much like that privilege. It's probably why his darkly-dressed figure is standing silhouette in the conference room door after it audibly clicks and swings open on this closed meeting. "…absolutely, Director, absolutely. I'm about to step into a meeting though, so we'll continue this at your leisure later." Clearly on the tail end of a conversation, the one-sided words come to a halt as Harper taps a button on his ubiquitous headset, turning off the blue LED and presumably ending the call as well.

Stepping into the conference room, Harper folds his hands behind his back, walking with a slightly forward-hunched posture more reminiscent of Groucho Marx than anything else. Dark brows lift up as he assesses the people in the room, noticing the absence of Martin Crowley at the administrator's head of the table.

"Don't mind me," Harper interjects in a way that couldn't possibly be anything other than intrusive. Waving at Kayla Reid with a feigned smile spread across his lips, Harper moves to take up a seat at the far end of the table from the congregation, pulling out one of the wheeled chairs and sinking down into it, crossing one leg over the other and folding his hands in his lap. He looks, if nothing else, expectant.

Kayla watches Harper's entrance with anything but joy. Hard to imagine she could look any less pleased than she did before… but if looks could kill, Harper would be dead a hundred times over. Then again, this is probably not different from any other day — and his immunity to death-by-glare is evidently holding firm.

"Don't make me mind you," the woman retorts acerbicly.

"I can try, but I'm not sure how the lab computers work. I'm not sure how well I'll be able to answer that question— I don't usually access the lab's computers," Corbin responds, looking over at Lashirah as if she's asking something of him that's not in his usual area. Doesn't mean he won't try. "I don't know if there's anyone with admin level access to the files in forensics, though." He's not in Forensics…

Eyes lift as soon as the handle clicks and Veronica watches Harper enter. She glances to Kayla, uncertain if the newcomer is in on any of the issues they're discussing, uncertain of what to say if he isn't. Her reaction doesn't help much. "I imagine surveillance of the potential perpetrators would be in order. Also, perhaps some checks and balances in regards to the evidence would be useful," she says vaguely, watching Kayla to see if the young woman catches her meaning and trying to look like she's not hiding the situation from Harper. They can't simply stop talking just because he entered the room, after all.

Lashirah nods. "First order of business then, someone is watching me go access some records from the system. Then we're making sure NOBODY from forensics has admin access to the forensics files. Someone from archives should." She frowns. "… which leaves one last thought I don't like. What if it isn't just ONE person?" She bites her lip and looks down at her own notes.

"I don't think I can have an intra-office relationship, Miss Reid," Harper cheekily notes from across the conference table, crooked smile spread across his lips. "Don't worry though, I promise to keep my hands to myself, I'm just here to watch." Which, given his joking context, still sounds a bit awkward.

Attention drifts to Veronica afterward, one eye narrowing slightly in a squint as he watches her, then looks back to Lashirah. "I'm sorry, I thought this was an administrative meeting about the Montauk case? Could someone refresh me on why we're discussing admin rights on the medical lab computers?"

"You weren't invited," Kayla snaps in Harper's direction, feeling absolutely no desire to catch him up on the subject of discussion. "Don't fucking interrupt. If you can't keep your mouth shut —" One finger jabs emphatically towards the door. "You can walk right back out that door."

She looks back to the rest of the people at the table; if they're unfortunate recipients of her glare, well, they can take consolation in the fact that it wasn't really meant for them. "Regardless of how, here's what we do seem to know: there's only one person who is both on Ayers' list and has routine access to the forensics section." A sweep of her hands collects all the papers from the table, tucking them back into her folder. "Lee," Kayla prompts, turning to the technician. "How recently have you seen him at work?"

Lashirah frowns. "Left work last Tuesday. Claimed being ill…" Lash finishes her mocha with a thought. "Could been faking it easily enough…"

Harper's jokes actually get a little huff of a laugh from Veronica, lips curving into a smirk as she glances at her Blackberry, as if to avert her eyes from Kayla's death gaze or Harper's querying glance. When Kayla scolds him, she looks up, eyes slightly widened, glancing over at Harper to see his reaction, before Lashirah speaks.

"Illness could be faking, or it could be some actual physical reaction related to the incidents," she suggests quietly. If Ahlgren is the culprit, there may be adverse reactions to using his ability in a way he either isn't used to or in a manner on the outer limits of his capability — this is not spoken, as she is still playing the vague game, while trying to look productive and non-secretive.

Both brows up, Harper offers a sly smile after Kayla's outburst, leaning back in his seat and assessing the fact that Veronica just almost laughed. And while this isn't a game of horseshoes or playing with handgrenades, almost does count here. While it looks like Harper is quick enough to attentively follow the meeting and what's actually at stake in it, he doesn't seem to have any suggestions on course of action to offer, likely because helping here isn't in his best interest.

Lifting up a hand, Harper rests his chin in his palm, switching attention around the conference room from agent to agent, then back to the door. Discreetly, the DHS liaison slides his blackberry out of one coat pocket, turning it on and quietly typing with the thumb of one hand while looking up intermittantly between words at the people speaking.

Gray eyes slide over to Harper as if to assess the trouble he's apt to be causing —

Unfortunately, she can't demand to inspect his Blackberry. Kayla does entertain the thought — briefly. Presses her lips together and lets it pass. "Seems to me like that's a lead to follow up on," she suggests, shifting her gaze to Veronica, one slim brow arching. Don't you agree?

Lashirah looks over at Harper's Blackberry. "… alternatively, an outside, not-cleared device could have been used to access our network with malicious code," she states in a calm, nonchalant manner.

"Yeah, I'll get on that," the brunette agent agrees, nodding at Kayla as she pushes a couple of buttons to lock her own Blackberry and slides it into her pocket. Veronica glances over at Lashirah. "That doesn't explain the physical absence, of course, so it'd only be part of the problem." Malicious code doesn't require someone in the facility — which is why most the important things are kept on hard copy.

Physical absence has Harper's brows going up.

Tucking his own phone away, Harper sits forward in his chair and folds his hands in front of his chin, watching the team again. "I hate to rain on anyone's parade today, but if you're having an internal security issue I'd like it if details could be forwarded to my desk? This is something that my superiors need me to be kept abreast of so that I can report back security-related problems to them for advisement."

Attention flicking around the table, as if not aware who is actually in charge here, Harper adds "If one of you could get that to me after the meeting, I'd appreciate it."

Kayla doesn't look at Harper; her attention remains on Veronica, and the woman nods briefly. "Then I think that is the next step." Collecting her documents, she nods to Vee, Corbin, and Lashirah. "Thanks for coming." A rare pleasantry from Kayla, which only undercuts the fact that it doesn't extend to Harper in the slightest. She walks over to open the door — and holds it, clearly intending to supervise everyone's dispersal.

Lashirah takes her folder, making sure she left behind not a single note, checks to make sure her PDA's wireless functions are still locked off, which they are, and slides it into a pocket, before grabbing a keycard from her pocket and prowling out the door and down the halls to the lab… The sound of combat boots making their impression on the floor were sure to announce a pissed off forensics person about to go get some answers out of her own department.

"Be careful with those," Veronica says with a nod toward Corbin's many folders as he rises to exit, a smile suggesting it's just a rare pleasantry from the usually introspective agent, but it could also serve as a warning. She rises last, already planning to check in multiple files for Ahlgren's home address, in case that file's been swapped too and leads to another dead-end. Her Blackberry is out of her pocket once more, as she starts with the computer system's personnel data, but she'll make her way to the hard copy file cabinet.

"If I don't have those files on my desk by this evening I'll have to put in a call to my supervisors or— go straight to Crowley." Harper crosses his arms over his chest, talking as he walks towards the office door. "I really don't think Crowley has the time to handle my requests either, but he will and well— you know how he can get."

Stepping past Kayla, Harper slows down and offers her an askance look and the faintest hint of a smile before continuing his way out into the hall, hands folded behind his back as he says, "I don't want to be here any more than you want me here, but I have a job to do. You do what you're supposed to," he turns, looking back into the office, "I do what I'm supposed to, and we can cohabitate peacefully. Like those little sucker-fishes and sharks!"

Kayla smiles thinly at Harper as he looks back, nothing pleasant in the expression. She closes the door on the conference room — remarkably quietly, all things considered. "You'll know what you need to know, when you need to know it," the woman replies. "Not a moment before." Turns around, begins to walk away, each footstep a little more muted than the last — solely due to increasing distance.

"Just so you know — Crowley also knows how I can get."

Apparently he's not being intimidating enough.

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