The Valkyries Agenda, Part I


autumn_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif sarisa_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title The Valkyries Agenda, Part I
Synopsis Recruitment!
Date Jan 6, 2009

USS George Washington

The world is full of pyrrhic victories and welcomed injustices…

Elisabeth Harrison is awoken at three thirty in the morning, a god-awful hour to be awake, and roused by an armed military escort requesting her presence at the Captain's office. No explanation is afforded, no reasoning, just terse commands to get dressed and head down with the armed escort. It's thorugh these halls of the ship — surprisingly busy for the hour of morning — that she first sees the telltale signs of mobilization among the marines. Today's the day, they're shipping out for Marion Island. Whatever this last-minute meeting is, it has to be important.

These inscrutably joined series of events seem wholly unpredictable at first…

Up to the Captain's office Elisabeth is brought, armed retinue standing guard at the entrance. Her escort opens the faux-wood finished door for her, revealing a well lit and warmly decorated office. Wood paneling on the walls, an oak desk flanked by chairs, a large American flag in the corner near a portrait of President Petrelli. But behidn the desk is not the Captain of the USS George Washington, not by any stretch of the imagination.

…but when looked at from a further perspective begin to take on a semblance of some grand design….

General Sebastian Autumn sits like a king behind that wooden desk, stubby fingers folded atop its polished surface, bald brow creased and eyes squinted in inspection of Elisabeth Harrison as the door opens. Across the breast of his dress uniform, a wall of medals from his service in the Air Force decorates him as a hero of the country, even if he had conspired with the likes of the Petrellis. Flanking his sides like the chairs that flank the desk, are two of the most vicious sharks to swim in Autumn's waters.

These moments are like a Monet painting viewed up close at first; nothing but colored dapples and dots, and then further and further back, the scene begins to take shape.

To his right, CIA Special Activities Division Agent Sarisa Kershner, blonde hair immaculate and black suit pressed nearly, the sharp collar of a white undershirt contrasting the monochromatic hues of her attire. She arches one brow, affording Harrison a nod as she stands in the doorway.

In a way, this moment is the drawing back from the painting, the moment where the points of color begin to take shape and form a conscious moment in time that explains everything.

To Autumn's left, an equally immaculately dressed and sharply postured man of slim figure and familiar countenance, the visage of Vincent Lazarro isn't exploding in from wisps of smoke and ink at this moment, he is a square-shouldered pillar of support, representing… perhaps his own self interests? Surely the NYPD's Internal Affairs bureau would not have this much vested interests in one singular woman.

Some people would call it fate

"Miss Harrison," General Autumn offers in his deep and bass-filled voice, offering out a hand towards the door, motioning then to a seat, "I'm glad you could join us. Come on in and close the door…" Autumn's round face contorts into a smile, his hands folding once again atop that mirror-polished desk.

others might say serendipity

"We've got a lot to talk about."

She doesn't question the orders of the armed men sent to escort her anywhere, although Elisabeth's expression is tense and very very neutral, her blue eyes shuttered. She dresses quickly in a pair of dark blue slacks and a black T-shirt with the running shoes she procured on board. Cat's aware that she's left the cabin, so …. if she doesn't come back, at least someone knows where she went. For all the comfort that is. As she steps into the captain's office, the blonde's wary gaze falls on the general and her chin comes up. She won't cower from his rank, nor from the two people who flank the man. She simply nods slightly in return to Kershner's nod with a brief, tight clenching of her jaw as her eyes run over Vincent Lazarro's form. And then she visibly dismisses him and turns her attention to the man in charge. "The pleasure's all mine," Elisabeth replies drily. Closing the door behind her, she moves to the seat indicated and slides into it. Her body language is closed, cautious and wary of the three people in the room, but it's not as if there's a damn thing she can do about much of anything they opt to say or do in here, is there?

Unsullied by wind or sea or sun, Vincent Lazzaro could well be standing behind an identical desk in Washington DC for all that the setting has influenced his presance here. He's a near perfect mirror to Sarisa in posture and dress — suit a sooty shade of sable, dress shirt flawlessly, faultlessly white through the crisp creases of cuff and collar. His tie is threaded in shades of iron and steel, diagonal lines and stark absence of color doing little to break up or otherwise distract from the Government formality wrought into the hardened set of his shoulders.

Where Sarisa nods and is nodded to in return, Lazzaro lets the barest sliver of a smirk pull its way into the flat line of his mouth for the look he gets. Maybe he thinks he's earned it.

"Let me be the first to say that I'm glad we could meet under these circumstances," General Autumn offers with that thick, Texan accent. He reclines back in his chair with a creak of the leather, hands folding across his full midsection. "I apologize for the manner in which you were recruited into this endeavor, but the United States Government had its hands tied, and we don't much prefer operating under that sort of handicap. We were short on time, short on intel, and well… things happen." Sarisa affords a flick of her eyes down to Autumn when that's how he explains away Elisabeth's kidnapping, the roll of them afterwards is subtle. "Now I know how things look here, with this gathering we have, and I just want you to know that this isn't an inquisition." Likely because they know everything they need.

"Before we get into the brass tacks of everything going on here this morning, I think Mr.Lazzaro here has a few things he'd like to clear the air about regarding your employment with the State of New York, as it were, and a bit of preface as to the reason we have you here." It's only now, while Autumn is talking, that Elisabeth notices Sarisa is cradling a large stack of folders and documents to her chest, six inches thick of files and folders on God knows what.

Elisabeth chooses to remain both silent and neutral. Nothing's been asked of her, so she has nothing to say at this moment. Her cool blue eyes turn to the IA prick and she merely waits for him to speak.

"…You're fired," says Vincent.

"Or you would be, had I any say at all," there is a pause there for his brows to twitch a hair deeper into their level knit, potentially pointed, "in the way the official documentation from this intervention will pan out. Officially, for the duration of your absence, your services have been determined 'vital and necessary' by Homeland Security for implementation in a classified investigation. Your cooperation in this matter was not optional." The pitch black of eyes tip briefly down towards Elisabeth's legs on their way back up to neutrality in her face.

"As you are doubtless aware."

There's another pause, this one slightly (very slightly) awkward while he glances sidelong to Sarisa and her Stack of Many Files. "Our own," our, not my, "investigations into your private and personal affairs have determined that you are no longer suitable for work on the force. In any capacity." One brow falls lower than the other there — the emphasis clearly his — but the atmosphere here is overall impeccably formal, professional and reserved and in the end, so is he. "However, rather than humiliate you with termination in light of recent good behavior, we expect you to resign for the offer of a more prestigious and 'hands on' position."

Sarisa approaches the desk at this point, looking from Vincent to Elisabeth. "February 2009, Sea-View Hospital." A thick red file is thrown down on the table, slapping with the heft of a hundred plus page document inside. The corners of a photograph slide from inside, showing a familiarly burned building. Furrowing her brows, Sarisa watches Elisabeth's reaction.

"July 2009, Pinehearst Corporation." Another, even thicker file is thrown down to clap against the table, paperwork slithering out from the corners, nothing legible. Sarisa still watches Elisabeth with an uncertain furrow of her brows, keeping that look in her own eyes guarded, making Liz put these pieces together herself.

"December 2009, Ryazan Russia." The largest of all the files hits the table with the heft of a dictionary, and Autumn actually is given a startle by how hard it hits the desk, anxiously straightening his collar afterwards. Sarisa's quiet for a moment, gloved hands folding behind her back as she watches Liz.

"Time and again you have proven yourself not a police officer, but have shown commendable skill in the field of duty and a cool head under pressure. You follow orders — to an extent — and utilize that ability of yours with one of the finest levels of precision we have seen in any classified audiokinetics known. You aren't suited for the police, Miss Harrison."

Looking up to Sarisa, Autumn has to arch a brow at her theatrics, before he turns his eyes down to Elisabeth and leans forward with a strained sigh to settle his hands on the desk and straighten up that heap of documents. "Plain and simple, Miss Harrison," Autumn's eyes level back up at the blonde, "We want you for FRONTLINE Squad 2."

There is no reaction to being fired, the blonde merely watches him. She assumed as soon as he started looking into her life that her career would be forfeit. Does it give her a pang? Sure. Not that she'll give him the satisfaction of seeing, though. Elisabeth very deliberately crosses her legs, leaning back in her chair and taking on an attitude of making herself comfortable to listen even as Lazzaro's eyes skim down to those legs. Her eyes don't warm a degree, but she says politely, "I appreciate the opportunity to resign." She has zero reaction to his opinion of her. Once it's clear that he's done speaking, her eyes turn to the new speaker.

The first file hits the table, and Elisabeth's lashes flicker briefly. The blink perhaps betrays concern, but there's also a faint lift of her chin. It was the right thing to do. The second file hits and there's a flash through those blue eyes as she meets Kershner's gaze, still saying nothing. A hint of puzzlement does cross her features at the announcement that the final file is Ryazan, Russia. The first part of what the woman says — not being suited to the police — brings Elisabeth's brows down into a frown. But the announcement of what they want her for ….. makes Elisabeth's brows shoot to her hairline. They've managed to crack that facade of neutrality. She's… somewhat beyond stunned, having expectations of — at BEST — being cut loose on some kind of probation. She skims a confused glance between the three of them. "You aren't serious?" What?

Vincent watches each file fall at an impassive remove, opaque glare returning to Elisabeth only once the last of them has thudded heavily home on Autumn's desk. Here again he finds himself in habitual tandem with Sarisa, posture set at a passably formal parade rest, expression unfathomably neutral. He doesn't twitch, fidget or scowl, the even set of his brow and jaw marred only by the scar carved in long across his temple and on around the back of his skull when he confirms with flat affect: "Terminally."

"Mister Lazzaro's quite right, and I'm not much of a practcal joker," General Autumn admits with a wry smile, "Miss Harrison." With the documents straightened up, Autumn moves them aside and looks up to Vincent, then back to Elisabeth. "Now this isn't something as clean cut as you signing a piece of paper and moving in to the Factory, but I think you're up to the task." Furrowing his brows, Autumn's thick fingers lace together. "There'll be a one month long boot regimen you'll be required to undergo at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, where you'll receive some of the basic training and fundamental background needed for FRONTLINE, but you have a lot of the good foundations there already."

"Furthermore," Sarisa chimes in, reaching up to tuck a lock of blonde hair behind one ear, "your record with the United States Government will obviously be sealed and record of your activities with Phoenix classified. You will receive no difficulties in your ordinary life, though you will be expected to obey the code of conduct expected of a FRONTLINE officer and behave in a manner becoming of a representative of the United States. This obviously means operating inside the perameters of the law and not these…" blue eyes angle down towards the files, then back up to Elisabeth, "two prior moments of indiscretion."

"What we're getting at, is that we'd like you to sever your formal ties with Phoenix, in so much as attending their covert operations. You can maintain a working friendship with their ranks, as by the time this misison is complete a large number of them will have their criminal records cleared and be given a new chance at life." Autumn drums his fingers on the desktop as he speaks. "FRONTLINE is a magnificent chance for you to continue what you love to do, and do so without as much red-tape that the NYPD may have tied your hands with. While you will receive military training, you will hold no formal military rank while a member of FRONTLINE. You will be, like all their members, a part of a civilian peace-keeping organization designed to deal with Evolved threats on home soil. You'd be doing what you did with Phoenix, but legitimately, and under Agent Kershner's purview."

Sarisa arches one brow, lips pursed as if trying to hold back a smile. "What do you say, Miss Harrison?"

For a long moment, Elisabeth looks terminally confused. She reaches up and absently rubs her forehead with her fingertips, the movement by now ingrained in her subconscios behaviors as a giveaway of uncertainty and worry. "I … wasn't expecting this," she admits. "The being fired part?" She slants a look at Lazzaro. "Yeah, that was expected," she says very drily, but her eyes slide back to Kershner. "So…. you just want me not to run about exploding buildings or… keeping a virus that will wipe out the population from being loosed? Or more to the point, if I hear about such things, you want to know about them?" she asks. Part of the answer, she obviously already knows. Of course they'd want that. But the underlying question is perhaps more complex — is she going to be in a position here where they're going to expect her to betray the very people who've already busted their asses out there? "I'm not entirely clear on what you mean by not being 'clean cut,'" she compromises by saying.

"If you hear of an apocalyptic threat to the security of the United States…yes. We want to know." Lazzaro is dry in turn, dismissive of her clairvoyance regarding the mortality of her pre-existing career. His bald head tips into a careful tilt, and for the briefest of beats, impatience shows in the way his black brows hood dark over even blacker eyes. "We want to know so that we can utilize you to act against threats in a legal, responsible and government sactioned capacity. Harrision — "

He starts and stops, biting back something he's quickly thought better of saying into a breathy expulson that's very nearly forms itself into incredulous chuckle, "You have to understand that working with a terrorist organization under the radar is unacceptable. You can't play boths sides of the fence anymore."

"Yes we'd prefer if you find out about an identifiable and credible threat to the United States — " Autumn cracks an awkward smile, "or the world," he still has a hard time saying that, "that you inform your superiors. As the logistics members of Squad Two, it's your responsibility to ensure the safety of your team and how best to handle the intelligence gathered by other members. It's a critical role that we believe you're more than perfectly suited for in your skill set."

Leaning back in his chair again, unable to get comfortable, Autumn's hands fold over his girth again. "Well, there's still the matter of this mission at hand, to answer your question. There's a briefing in an hour that you'll need to attend pertaining to our deployment to Marion Island. Then of course there's the boot training you'll need to undergo, but after that point— then it's just a matter of a few signed papers and getting you introduced to Squad One, and the members of Squad Two as we recruit them."

One of Autumn's brows raise, head crooked to the side. "You can say no," he admits in a hesitant tone of voice, "but the people of New York would suffer without someone of your skill on their side. That, and I think Agent Kershner has taken a liking to you." Which is something like being friends with a great white shark because you happen to be wearing a meat necklace, but at least it's something.

"There wouldn't be a 'both sides of the fence' if people didn't consider people like me terrorists," Elisabeth shoots back at Lazzaro sharply. "Vanguard are terrorists — they exist to sow fear and hate. Phoenix — the part of Phoenix that I was ever involved in — never did any of that. All they ever tried to do was keep their ear to the ground for threats again both Evos and normal people and combat them as best they could without the help of the people who should have been doing the job in the first place."

She looks at Kershner and Autumn both. Yeah, she fully realizes they're playing her in some ways — at the core of it all, she's an idealist and she can be realtively easily swayed by the idea that she's serving the greater good. Does that make it a lie? Eh… only time really tells about that. "If this job puts me in a position to actually do something about the problems? Hell yes, I'm on board, General." It's the job she's been doing anyway, really. It's not a hard decision. "Your stipulation that I stop active runs with Phoenix's activities?" She shrugs a little. "I can live with that. I'll inform Catherine before the briefing." She moves to stand, though she waits to be sure from them that this is the end of the conversation for now.

"Vigilantes, then," qualified with a brow-hiked look towards Kershner and her supposed shine, Vincent tags on a sober, "at best," before he falls conspicously silent. He's clearly here to support and inform rather than to decide and has likely already said more out of turn than he should have. Resigned to a hard look and an air of impatience with himself, Lazzaro stands still and listens.

Sarisa quirks up a brow to Elisabeth, watching the blonde carefully. "Maybe they didn't tell you about what they did in April of 2009, at a detention center in Moab Utah?" The blonde crosses her arms. "I'm not going to start an ideological argument, but several hundred honest prison workers at that facility, along with doctors, scientists, federal agents and members of the Department of Homeland Security — some of which who were there under purview of the President to review the prison and consider if it should even remain in operation — were killed by the actions of Phoenix in their prison break."

Sarisa's head quirks to the side, tucking a lock of blonde hair behind one ear. "Some of the people in that prison didn't deserve to be there, no. I argued against that point myself personally, but it didn't give anyone the right to detonate explosives in security towers, unwittingly release several hundred evolved terrorists and serial killers, and murder security personnel employed by the government simply because they disagreed with arrests that were made."

Sarisa brings up a hand to her head, rubbing her forefingers at the bridge of her nose. "A close friend of mine, Sarisa Miller," a coincidence in names, "died in that prison trying to prevent hundreds of people like Norman White from escaping and killing people. That collapse in New York City of the government building you helped pull bodies out of, would never have happened if Phoenix hadn't taken the law into their own hands. Just because they disagreed with what was going on, didn't make it right."

She seems intent on drilling home that point. "It's been a constant that elements of the government fail to see eye to eye with each other on matters of jurisdiction, punishment and crime. The President himself had visited that facility in April and was horrified at it, and had put together a comission to find out how it's creation had been authorized without crossing his desk. But the people that worked there? The lives that act caused, it doesn't balance out with what happend at the Narrows. People died, lives were lost, and Phoenix was to blame. It is by virtue of this operation they are participating in and in recompense for their acts at the narrows that we're leveling the playing field, giving everyone a chance to make right for what happened on both sides of the fence."

Sarisa's eyes narrow and she gives Elisabeth a firm look. "I'm not blaming you at all for what happened in Utah, I know you weren't there, but this is why things like Phoenix can't keep happening. FRONTLINE will do what Phoenix has, if we can all learn to cooperate."

Through that entire diatribe, Autumn watches Sarisa with brows and exhales a hard sigh. "Please excuse Agent Kershner," Autumn grouses with a frustrated tone of voice. "She has some personal issues with that particular incident, but the United States Government is putting that issue to rest, so I recommend the both of you do so as well," he states mostly as an order to Sarisa, who uncomfortably backs down and breathes in deeply. "I'm glad to have you on board, Miss Harrison. When Operation Apollo has ended, we'll discuss details surrounding your deployment to Maryland for training."

Whatever she may or may not know about Moab is kept behind her teeth and Elisabeth is merely silent as Sarisa Kershner has her say. She certainly is in no position to deny that the Moab incident went very, very poorly. And the collateral damage — both at the prison and in the number of prisoners who deserved incarceration, like Norman White, freed — was far, far greater than it should have been. It was still not a terrorist act per se; the intent had been freedom for people, not to strike fear into people's hearts. And there is a hint of regret in her blue eyes. All she says to Kershner is a quiet, sincere, "I'm sorry. And I'm all for the idea of cooperation, Agent Kershner. I don't like it when agencies keep intel for political gain when sharing it could have saved lives." She looks at the General. "Yes, sir. And…. thank you."

Vincent's dully muttered, "Sing it, sister," is not quite quiet enough to be lost to the diatribe or Autumn's correction of it. But he's already started off his own track and diverted himself for the greater good or whatever and rather than join in, he finds an interesting spot on the wall to stare at intently until everyone seems to be done.

He stands tall (as he can — so not very) and keeps his shoulders stiff and square under the trim tailor of his suit, more bureaucratic gargoyle than help one way or the other. The important thing is that she's agreed. He can distribute fist daps once she's gone.

"Then let me be the first to welcome you into FRONTLINE, Miss Harrison." Autumn states as he stands up from his desk and brushes down the front of his uniform. "Muster for the briefing is at 05:00 hours, I'll expect to see your face front row and center." The bald general affers a nod of his head towards the autokinetic, and Sarisa's taken her time to grow silent again, gloved hands folded behind her back.

"Welcome to the first day of your new life."

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