The Value of a Name


alister_icon.gif hana_icon.gif

Scene Title The Value of a Name
Synopsis Alister Black reaches out to Hana Gitelman for help with a particularly personal matter.
Date June 16, 2018

Memorial Wall

Standing in front of the Memorial Wall is Alister Black, wearing a black denim jacket with a pair of blue jeans and some boots, with a beige fishing hat.

He had to dress like he was poor to avoid standing out too much.

Hana was told that he wanted to meet about the Institute, his true identity, and clearing his name. So he set up a meeting for the middle of the night, somewhere they could have a private conversation. When asked why her, given their relationship, he says that she knows very well he has no shame about his misdeeds and will gladly admit to them, so she's the one person who might actually believe him when he says he didn't do something wrong.

It isn't often Hana's out in the streets of the Safe Zone late at night. In that setting, practically everyone stands out — though her habitual dark clothing mitigates that somewhat. She gives the wall and the space before it a cursory survey as she approaches; there's no question about where to find the man she's here to meet, and the space is empty enough that he seems to actually be alone.

Not that she was particularly concerned, either way.

"So. What is it you haven't done?" she says as she comes to a halt within conversational distance but outside arm's reach. It isn't much as greetings go, but no veneer of sociality is called for here, unlike their last encounter.

"Daniel Knight stole my company. My real name is Leonardo Raphael Maxwell. He used my company to fund Institute projects, and then drove it into the ground until I had nothing. They faked my death, kidnapped me, stole my ability…" Alister explains all of this earnestly, watching her intently, as if expecting a possibly violent reaction. "I was a violently extreme Evolved supremacist, secretly. I would have never supported the Institute."

"I want my name back." he finally states. "I want to be Leonardo Maxwell again. I want my name cleared. You're the only person I trust to do it… which I'm sure you find ironic. But despite everything, I trust you with my life."

If Alister — if Leonardo — is expecting a reaction, it fails to be forthcoming. She listens with controlled attention, seeming only mildly interested in his exposition. The mention of trust elicits a raised eyebrow and a none-too-quiet breath out. Folding her arms over her chest, Hana remarks, "Trust has more forms than people think." A thin, cutting smile bends her lips. "Just don't expect me to trust you in return."

"Which raises the question," Hana continues, walking over to the wall so as to casually lean one shoulder against it, "of what's in this for me. Because however much I hate the Institute, that doesn't inspire me to aid you out of the 'goodness of my heart'." The quotes are practically audible, there.

"I thought you were the 'goodness of my heart' type." Alister still has a cane, for whatever reason. This is a new development for Hana, but clearly he's been through something. "I'm still moving forward with my plans to repair my section of Staten Island, to make something of a Staten Island Safe Zone. When it's finished, Wolfhound can base themselves there in whatever manner they like. Not only will the people feel safer, but you'll be able to build a nice little stronghold away from prying government eyes."

There is no humor in the thin smile with which Hana graces Alister's misconception. "You would be mistaken." She does not elaborate on that point, however, but listens as he continues — and when he concludes, casts him a slanted, incredulous look. "You presume I did not already place Wolfhound exactly where I pleased."

Which is to say, no dice. "For a businessman," she observes without any particular inflection, "your insight into others seems lacking." But maybe she's just that far out of his usual business circles. Or maybe it's that ego getting in the way.

"I've never understood you. It's always simultaneously made you one of the most attractive women on this planet, and one of the most infuriating." Alister says with a great deal of honesty that he always reserves just for Hana. "I couldn't guess what you wanted from me even if I had an entire board of directors and an HR department."

"If I can get my name back, that means I'll be closer to legitimacy. And the closer I get to legitimacy, the closer I get to being ridiculously rich again." That's all he can really do, in the end, going back to the most pure form of favor. "You'll be investing into a future where I can financially aid you. Even now I have resources. Food, weapons, boats. I can't give you a boat, but I can give you access and mobility."

Hana tips her head to one side as Alister speaks, listening quietly, her eyes slightly narrowed with consideration. Or perhaps that's just suspicion. One brow arches as he promises future aid — a future of financial success that from her perspective is not as certain and sure as Alister seems to believe… and whose horizon may not be so close as to be useful.

She clicks her tongue against her teeth, the sound surprisingly loud in the night air. "I'm not banking on a nebulous promise of future collaboration, either," Hana remarks. She pushes away from the wall, but her attention remains centered on Alister; she doesn't move away. Instead, she walks a slow arc around him, gaze intent and piercing and unwavering.

"'Clearing a name' is a messy business," the technopath observes. "Imprecise. You will not get a pure, clean slate back — not short of rewinding time itself. But business and legal… yes, I can make arrangements for those aspects."

She smiles again as she continues her prowl, no warmth in the expression. "We will discuss just what value you put on recovering the Maxwell name. The first third of that, you will extend as credit to Wolfhound, which the unit will contact you to redeem." Payment up front, in rather more words. "The second comes due when I tell you I've finished — which may take some time."

Hana comes to a halt in front of Alister, facing him squarely. "Given the nature of what you're asking, I will leave the third part to your discretion, to be decided at six month review." Folding her arms once more, she gives him a querying look. "Does that arrangement suit you?"

"If you can do it, that's all I need. But keep in mind that if you're patient, you'll gain more in return." Alister reminds her, but doesn't push her to have to be patient, if she chooses otherwise. "But I'll agree, if this is what you need."

He offers a hand to her, nodding. "I rarely experience the level of excitement as I do in your presence. The idea that you might shoot me at any moment is always a bit of a thrill, not that I want to be shot. One near death experience was enough, I'm trying to clean up my act a bit."

That thin smile reappears; once again, Alister demonstrates a certain lack of understanding. This time, Hana does not offer him any illumination, but merely steps forward to shake the extended hand.

Her smile broadens at his concluding statements, becoming sharp and toothy, its amused tenor both sincere and distinctly dark. "Oh, I wouldn't shoot you," does not sound reassuring, nor anything like a pledge of safety — especially not when accompanied by the glitter of starlight winking off steel, there and gone again in the palm of Hana's left hand before she relinquishes Alister's right.

"Now. Let's talk numbers."

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