The Right Things To Say


elisabeth_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif

Scene Title The Right Things To Say
Synopsis A first draft is begun for grassroots.
Date Apr 9, 2011

Skinny Brickfront, Endgame Safehouse

Jaiden hasn't slept much over the past few days. Sure, a few hours here and there when he's not watching the street, but nothing he'd call a 'good night's sleep.' Such is the curse when you're living in an abandoned building that doubles as an Endgame Safehouse. Lord, he wishes that Cardinal would have told him about this place - a little work would have made it a lot more livable instead of having him pull showers out of thin air for people.

The view's nice when he does that, though, so he can't complain too terribly much.

Jaiden sits, cross-legged on the floor with the morning light shining over his shoulder, illuminating a legal pad with some words written on it. The script that he's working on for Elisabeth's video. He scribbles a few words with a gnawed pencil nub, crosses them out, then re-words it to sound better. Best to start with a declaration. "Hello. My name is Elisabeth Harrison. I am a fugitive from the US Government." Jaiden grins. Short, direct, and to the point. This will get people's attention.

"Oh good," says the audiokinetic from the doorway, a rueful smile on her face. "Let's just jump rihgt in there." Elisabeth is leaning on the door jamb. None of them are getting much sleep, but at least she's not screaming the place down around their ears. As she pushes off the door to walk further in, the low-level hum that continues to accompany her seems… a bit less. Not gone, but there's a significant easing in the lines of her face in spite of that. As if at least some of the weight has lifted. "I've been kicking around what to tell them. What've you come up with?" she asks as she lowers herself to sit next to him in the sunshine.

Jaiden looks up from his spot on the floor and smiles, gesturing to the coffeepot he has plugged in to an extension cord running…somewhere. Chances are Jaiden has spliced into a feed somewhere so they can get a little necessary power - it's something that the homeless do, and almost never traced - just repaired. The coffee smells good, that's for certain. "Come on, sit…I'll show you what I have so far. It's the basic framework, but it's starting to flesh out." There's a clearing of his throat as he reads.

"I'm Elisabeth Harrison….you heard that part. Let's see." He taps the page. "Ah, here we go. 'I was born in the United States and have lived here my entire life. I'm a citizen, I pay my taxes, and I've given much for the safety of the people of New York, first as a police officer and more recently as a member and then the leader of the New York FRONTLINE unit. As an American who is evolved, not an Evolved American, I took that position in order to do, what I thought, was the best in a bad situation. Then the situation changed.'" He looks up. "Sound good so far?"

Elisabeth inhales the scent of coffee and looks beyond grateful for the pot she spots. "Oh, you are wonderful," she tells him with a smile. She helps herself to his cup because she didn't bring one, not expecting coffee. Sipping from it, she listens to his script and considers. "You don't think that's too many words? I mean… I'm not sure we're going to hold them for more than a couple of minutes the first shot."

Jaiden's cup, one he brought with him from home, is half full, but warm to the touch and heaver than the normal coffee cup, holding considerably more of the black gold than a normal one you'd find. He nods slightly, pursing his lips. "I can see your point….we need to catch their attention right away. Once we have that, we'll talk more…." He lets out a breath, crossing out a few things here and there. "I like the intro…gets you to the point. Maybe we can change it to "My name is Elisabeth Harrison. I'm an American. I am Evolved. And because of that, I am a fugitive from the US Government."

She takes another swallow and sets the cup back down where she found it for him. "I like the rest of it too," Elisabeth tells him. "I'm trying to decide if that's a second broadcast." She considers. "And I think sticking close to the truth is not a bad thing here." She pauses to phrase her thoughts.

"My name is Elisabeth Harrison. I'm an American. I am Evolved. And I'm a fugitive in my own country," she recites to him. "I am a rebel. A freedom fighter, maybe. I am not a terrorist. The very definition of that word is the systematic use of terror to coerce. I have never launched an attack on an innocent target in order to incite fear in the populace, nor do I make any attempt to terrorize anyone. Many of you have seen me in the news. I have dedicated my life first to the New York Police Department where I worked for well over a decade and then to FRONTLINE, a squad specifically formed with Evolved individuals to protect the American population. I took oaths to serve and protect. I took oaths to defend the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And I continue to do so… even when that enemy is my own government."

"Nice…nice…" Jaiden's pencil flies across the page, flipping to a clean one as he writes to be sure to get this down. This stream-of-conciousness stuff really works and is far, far more powerful than one may think when it comes to getting ideas across. "That's a hell of an establishing shot. I figure that will take about twenty to thirty seconds to say. We should have a lot of ears and eyes by that point." He taps the page, his pencil leaving little scribbles as he does. "How about this…." Another throat clearing after a sip of coffee.

"The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments in the Constitution of the United States, states that we should be free from unnecessary searches, but we are not. It says that we, as a people, cannot be held for any crime without due process of the law, yet we are. We are being deprived of our life, liberty, and property with the only cause being fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of people, like me." Jaiden blinks. "Then, I guess, we can tell about something else?"

Elisabeth smiles. "I like it. What should we tell about from there? Or should we let them ruminate on that and have a second broadcast?"

It's at this point Jaiden shrugs. "Well….at this point we'll have their attention. If we could give them a call to action, maybe. Tell them to not be afraid of the unknown. Something vague enough to get them thinking and to come back when we put up another video."

"Publicity is not my strong suit. We don't want a call to action too powerful. We're not looking to mobilize an army. Yet. First you have to win their hearts and minds. Make it.. personal." Elisabeth goes quiet and considers. And then she smiles. "You said that was just under one minute with the part you added about the Bill of Rights, right?"

"A little around that, yeah." Jaiden flips to a new page. "The message is out, but we need to have content to the message…." He trails off. "Have you ever watched the Charlie Chaplain film 'the Great Dictator?' Good film, his first talking film from the dawn of the film age. Anyway, he had a speech…." Jaiden closes his eyes and tries to remember.

"The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricated the world with hate; has goose stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives us abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery, we need humanity. more than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost."

"Fear of the unknown. Fear of people. People like me." Elisabeth says those words and then takes a deep breath. "If we want to make it personal, how about this? ….. Two years ago, while I was still on the police force, I was kidnapped by members of Humanis First. Even back then, I was helping people who did not want to be Registered to get out of the city. They took me off the streets of Manhattan. For three days, I was blindfolded, handcuffed to a pole, beaten regularly, cut with knives. They liked to hear me scream. I still have nightmares. They wanted to know where some of those terrified people were hiding. And it took them three days to make me tell them a location. I am not proud of that. I wish that I had been able to hold out longer. They went out there and verified that location, and they killed children and their mothers who were doing nothing but trying to leave town. And then they put a bullet in my head. By the grace of someone who had an Evolved healing ability — someone else who had been mistreated by our system — I was saved." She pauses here and gathers her thoughts.

"Freedom is not free. Every day our soldiers go out and fight for your freedoms. They die in hellholes around the world to fight for our freedoms. But we are not free. And the only fight I have is with a government who takes away the very freedoms that I have fought and nearly died for. I am not a terrorist. And if I have to die trying to help people who've done nothing wrong, then so be it."

Jaiden's pencil is a blur, the man writing in neat cursive almost as fast as he can type, the tip of the pencil breaking when he hits the last word. "It's personal now. My hurt is not the only hurt here. My hurt is your hurt. The nation lies, bleeding, at the feet of tyrants."

Elisabeth remains silent, watching him with shadowed blue eyes.

"Shit…." Jaiden reaches out with one hand to take Elisabeth's, squeezing it tightly. "This is _good_."

She twines her fingers into his, the hum of her ability brushing along his skin. Her anxiety levels are still terribly high if she can't rein it in. Elisabeth swallows hard. "See if we can get hold of a camera. I'll let Alia know we're ready," she says softly.

The script on it's lined paper is set aside, Jaiden pulling the woman into his lap, into his arms, hugging her tightly to his chest. "That shouldn't be too hard….I've got my laptop still - all wireless turned off, of course, so we can edit it…."

Elisabeth slips her arms around him and lets him haul her close. She's trembling a little. "Saying it out loud takes its power away. Supposedly." She buries her face in his neck and murmurs, "I keep telling myself someday that'll happen. That I won't always be afraid of the dark. Hasn't happened yet!" Her laugh is shaky.

The low-frequency buzz dances from her skin to his, Jaiden's chest expanding and falling with each breath, his embrace warm, surrounding her. "I know it's scary. I can't say I knew what you went through - but telling this….this is powerful, Lizzie. This is the first anguished cry of a people long suppressed." He turns his head to kiss her on the forehead lightly, his breath warm. "You'll get past it. I'll be there to help you. I always will be."

Her arms tighten around him. "I … can't sleep right now," Elisabeth admits softly. "For a long time, Richard was the only person who could even touch me without making me crawl out of my skin. When I get like this… I wake up in a panic a lot. It's too quiet here. There's no… buzz of the fridge, there's no fans. It's so quiet that I just … lay there with my eyes open because it's the only way I know I'm not still in the dark. That they're not coming."

He's touching her, so she's moved beyond that. He's holding her close, feeling those low-frequency vibrations like a hummingbird's wing against his cheek, too low to hear to but enough to feel. "There's a fan in one of the rooms - looks like it might still work. And we've got power so….there can be a fan for some background noise tonight." He sighs softly, curling against her, hand circling on her back, soothing. "When you sleep, Lizzie, I will be there to keep you safe. I can't negate you like Trask, but I can be there when you do wake. They will never hurt you again."

Elisabeth chuckles softly. "I do know that. At least… insofar as you can know anything right now. It's just the stress," she tells him. "I'm … hoping that straightening things out with Richard will at least stop some of the nightmares. He came by while everyone was scavenging last night." She hesitates and then moves to sit up a little so she can see him. "He's blowing up the Redbird building tonight. Framing Humanis First for it."

Jaiden blinks, green eyes pale in the morning light. "Well, that's one way to do it. I'm sure he's got ways to make it look convincing. Press releases, more than likely." Here's hoping all of the incriminating bits are out of there when he does decide to push the plunger.

The blonde pauses and then looks… startled. "Shit. I forgot to ask about the …. never mind." Elisabeth clams up on that. It was something told to her in confidence. She'll have to try to find out. "I'm sure he's pulled anything important out — blowing the building is not exactly subtle." She grimaces.

There's more information there, but Jaiden doesn't want to pry. If it's private, if it's something that doesn't need to be said, then he doesn't need to know about it. Less information out there to share, the better. "It'll be a hell of a show."

"That's the understatement of the century," Elisabeth replies wryly. "So, babe…. talk to me about how we want to record this? Cuz I don't want to have to do it too many times."

Babe? A term of affection? Jaiden chuckles softly. "Well…we can find a camera, or use the one on the laptop. Just read it. Tell the tale. But nothing with any view of anywhere - the last thing we want is anyone seeing the video and triangulating where we are because they could see a building out the window or something.

"Yes. That would be very bad. A plain white wall would be best," Elisabeth agrees, not realizing her words. "Something in the interior may work just fine. Perhaps one of the closets, even. With the doors open so there's plenty of light. I can mute me and the computer into a bubble so there are no forensic sounds."

"It's not going to be very professional looking…" Jaiden warns. "But I think, considering the circumstances, we'll come out okay. I would like to run this script by Ygraine to see what she thinks."

Elisabeth nods. "That's a good idea. Perhaps she can do a little editing. I don't know if that's too long. We don't want it to be long. We want impact." She smiles a bit. "So… still not sorry you threw your lot in with a basket case or nine?" she asks.

"When they're as fun to be with as you two? I'd do it all over again in a second." Jaiden smiles.

"Good to know," Elisabeth chuckles. And she wraps her arms around him tightly. "C'mon, you. I want pizza. We're going to have to send someone out to get it. And Norton's the only bloody person who's not on a wanted poster right now."

Do they even _do_ wanted posters anymore? Jaiden has wondered that ever since going on the run. He shifts beneath them both, getting his legs under him, then stands, lifting Elisabeth in his arms as he does. "So….pizza. I'm thinking thin crust supreme. Sound good?" He smiles and sets her lightly on her feet.

"Sounds perfect," Elisabeth replies. "And I'm starving suddenly," she admits as her feet hit the floor. Her smile is soft. She's maybe finally bouncing back a little. Jumpy and tense, but … slowly recovering.

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