Trust Falls


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Scene Title Trust Falls
Synopsis Teo and Helena argue about trust and Teo's allegiance (or lack thereof) to Phoenix. He reveals one of his issues, but their discussion is interrupted by a phone call.
Date October 8, 2009

Phoenix Mobile Unit

At the moment, the trailer is being pulled by a truck, and the address Helena gave Teo places it in the north end of the city. The silver bullet does not quite shine so bright as the sun is setting, and he'll have to knock on the door to be permitted admittance. But once inside, he'll find it toasty warm - comfortably so, against the autumn chill.

He's better in the warmth, and she knew that. He comes in stamping his feet and screwing up his hands into fists inside the cuffs of his sleeves as if there's snow up to your eyes outside, though there isn't. Teo's a few shades closer to anemic than the season would put him without some actual blood loss being involved, but he looks all parts of him intact, his stride even and his breathing clean. "Hel? Buona sera." He squints his eyes in the half-dark of the bullet's hull, making a quick study of the equipment and furnishings set in there so far, interest mingled tactical and friendly.

The inside smells of food. Soup, to be specific; Helena stands in front of a hotplate plugged into a little outlet snugged up against one of the trailer walls. "You look cold." she calls out to Teo, some feet further in. "You want to share some soup? It's not really that bad outside, is it? It's just chicken noodle, and from a can, but it'll do."

"Sure." Teo's shoulder bumps wall and the axis of his spine tilts lazily to take the shift of weight, skulking juvenile as if he were a post-adolescent on a curb instead of a post-adolescent terrorist waiting to be handed food by the face of Evolved activism everywhere. At headquarters, however unprepossessing those headquarters may be. His arms fold loose across his chest, callused fingers curled in the crooks of his elbows. "I've been keeping up with bulletins. How's Miracle II coming?"

"It's coming." Helena says, quiet but amicable. She uses a potholder to pour soup into a couple of waiting bowls, snags some plastic spoons out of a little cardboard box, and takes each one in hand to go sit at the trailer's small table. "We've got Flint on board. I've been practicing on something I hope will make a big visual impact, but not sure if it's going to work yet. I worry that everyone's waiting for me to tell them what they should do, but." She gestures toward the other bowl. "Enjoy your meal, signore."

The Sicilian picks himself up, off the wall, shifts his center of balance far enough that he falls companionable into the step he takes toward the table. He pushes one chair out for her with the snub toe of his boot, pulls out the next for himself after a visibly abortive initial urge to simply sit himself on the edge of the table.

He still sits down a little unsteadily when he's trying to operate proper seating furniture, the sprawl of his legs cinched oddly at the knees and squared around the shoulders in vestigial discomfort at the inherent directive to conform to the thing's structure no matter how ergonomically compatible that structure is. "I was thinking Tamara might be willing to use her precognition to draw up some violent accidents and shit that other Phoenix operatives and allies could use their abilities to avert. Not vigilante shit, probably— that would hurt more than it'd help. Accidents. I know the hitters tend to be left out on shit. Extrication would pose a challenge, but once that was overcome, you'd end up with some pretty direct applications and interplay of Evolved abilities benefiting the city."

"S'good idea." Helena says agreeably, as she takes a spoonful of soup. "Can you talk to Tamara about it? I've got half of Flint's team already in place, but we can see who else we have who'd want to be on an emergency team of sorts like that." She studies him curiously from across the table. "You don't generally make appearances unless something is up these days. Was this to offer suggestions - which is nice, and a good idea, but is something going on?"

Teo's mouth curls around a half-smile. He looks down at his bowl and it looks a little rueful, like it used to, but the poetic bombast of even the Catholic boy's guilt seems to have diminished in the wilting desiccation of the season's cold. He takes the plastic spoon up from where it's leaning, pushes its rounded scoop end through the contents of his bowl without eating any of it. "Some suggestions.

"Also figured you should know Minea Dahl's gone missing," his voice changes, then, takes a handful of gravel and a bitter hint of salt, a slouch realigning his shoulders as he props his weight up on the table, intimation, suggestion heavier even than the ominous choice of words in and of themselves. He sniffs once, and the gesture pulls a lupine sneer into his lip, almost but not quite a coincidence of anatomy and air. "And in light of her, and other shit, I hope the recruitment process looks a damn sight tighter from the inside than from where I'm fucking standing."

"Who disappeared her?" Helena asks. There's a patience to her tone, as she surely suspects someone did. "The government, the Company…you?" It's not as if he hasn't done such things before. She never asked him to be a hatchetman. "This is one of those visits. Yes, security is tighter." The temperature doesn't drop, but there's something in her body language as she seems to lean away from him while still keeping an eye on him. Like he's a tiger in a zoo and any second now she expects him to try and leap across the pit, over the fence, and go for her throat.

He doesn't, though there's a distinct sense that the fence is there, the pit isn't deep enough, and what's watching her sorts into a different category of species and is uncomfortably aware of it. "I gave her to Hana. It was bound to happen.

"It's the kind of shit that happens when a terrorist organization isn't careful enough about who it lets in, and on what. The Company, the DHS, FCC, maybe even the NYPD know about Harrison and Gitelman now.

"This Scotch kid you adopted sure as fuck better not have access to more than a cellphone and a couple Ferry satellites at best." A beat's pause. The spoon lifts a slim glistering few grams of soup off the bowl, and Teo's fingers cinch close over the plastic handle, tanned digits barring dark against neat white plastic, his expression flat. "Or is what I say despite figuring you've already given him a damn sight more than that. What kind of visit is this?" It's a sincere question, if loaded, and mired in the recent history between them that's arguably darker still.

"We're not terrorists, and I don't appreciate the inference that Dahl is our fault." the response comes so fast it's practically auto-piloted. "And Scotch is actually older than you, before you go calling him 'kid'. He not only vetted through Liz and Hana, but he gave us his original id as well. He's got a cell, and I've asked him to assist with Deckard's detail. He's ex-mil, he's a pastor, he's Evolved." Her mouth tightens, and she doesn't answer his question. "Did you have any other recommendations?" she asks, her grip tight on her spoon.

It would have been a slip if Teo hadn't believed it when he said it: kid, as if Scotch were in fact younger than he was. He would've been younger than the ghost, and certainly have aggregated fewer years under him than the messy combination of souls squashed together in the Sicilian's skull. The correction gets a blink out of him, a fractioned tilt of a brow in faint incredulity.

Some part of him is more than a little surprised that Leonard hadn't told her. "It's not an inference. You're responsible for your people, and who you show them to within the context of being an Evolved activist group. Terrorism has nothing to do with it: she wasn't afraid of you. Why should she've been? She betrayed you because you smiled in her fucking face and gave her all the rope she needed to wring Phoenix's neck. More than enough than what HomeSec would need to find and put you away again, if anyone inside the Company was inclined to do so.

"What happened with Minea Dahl was a fuck-up. Don't tell me you can't admit to that much." Neither Ghost nor the man-child who'd trampled blithely across the greenswards in these shoes before had ever registered this tone of voice before, and Teo's left unsure where it comes from, exactly. Bleak with temper, a sharp and swift clip.

"You think I don't know that?" The spoon is plastic and on the verge of snapping in Helena's hand. "You think I don't realize we were too trusting? Well, apparently that is what you think, because if you didn't we wouldn't be having one of these conversations. But I never asked you to clean up that mess, did I? I never asked you to kill all those others on our behalf, either." Helena puts the spoon down. "You protect us, but you haven't been one of us for a long time. You want to point at all the things we've done wrong, but you're not around to help improve them, you just use what you've been doing as the excuse for why you've stepped away from our agenda and began making your own. But the actions you've taken aren't Phoenix, Teo. If anything, they're PARIAH, especially after Volken killed Cameron. It feels like to you, we're the sheep that need protecting from the lions and wolves. If what you came for is to tell me that you killed Minea Dahl, and that it's our fault because we were sloppy and stupid, mission accomplished."

Annoyance flattens the line of Teo's brow until you could have mapped it on the steel rim of a ruler and his mouth goes anemically white, thin. He puts soup in his mouth for, it seems, little other reason than he doesn't have anything to say for the moment. His molars click and crack audibly over the rim of planed plastic, and then he gets to wasting his time, twisting the handle idly while the thing's still caught between teeth. The spoon forms a brief roof over his tongue, held for a moment shut between his jaws like some idiot child playing with food at the dining table, except that his eyes are blanked from thought.

"I came to get you to understand that shit happens when you make mistakes. Maybe to Minea this time, Leonard the next. You can admit to a twinge of guilt, or you shrug and move on, but you sure as fuck better not be 'I didn't ask you to' or ideology as an excuse not to fucking learn from it and change. You are too trusting.

"If I needed an excuse to step away, I wouldn't use my deeds, Hel. If I had any illusions about what privileges or loyalty that service to Phoenix is supposed to get me, you effectively ended them in May. You don't owe me jack shit, or vice versa. Appreciate it if you wouldn't start a conversation about that." Another mouthful of soup. A second. The herky-jerky motions of a badly-steered puppet, strings and insect-jointed limbs.

"So is the correct answer to this my telling you the changes we've made? Because that kind of strikes me as too trusting." Helena counters, leaning forward and fingers digging into the table. "We're doing things. We're changing things. I haven't kept you up to date for a number of reasons. But as bad as you want to point a finger at me for foolishness and stupidity, you walked in here thinking we just sat on our asses and went on with filing our nails over Minea. But you haven't been around to know what we've been doing, have you?" She sinks back, noting bleakly, "You had my loyalty. You had my love. And you left."

-Ring-ring-ring- goes Helena's phone.

Incredulity lifts Teo's brows out of configuration, almost vanishes them into the ragged fall of hair that hasn't seen a buzzcut in awhile. He banks in wordless wonder for a few protracted seconds, studying the younger woman as if struggling to gauge if she's serious. He would've simply asked her, once.

Are you fucking serious? Instead, his exasperation stagnates in a quiet deep enough to hide a corpse in it. "The correct answer to this is to tell me that Pastor Scotch doesn't have access to the Village Renaissance, this place, and ninety percent of the Catabase including membership. I wouldn't ask for more. I don't want to embarrass you by tricking you into thinking a few technological upgrades and moving up the dates on background checks is how to keep Phoenix safe.

"What I don't need to hear about you is the loyalty and the love you had for me while you texted gossip with the homicidal psychopath who was running around in my fucking skin an—" Teo bites that syllable in half when the woman's phone rings. His jaw squares, locks, lines standing out under the skin where veins fill below the surface, reddening.

"He's never been to the Verb. But there's other places he'll learn about because he's a teleporter and we'll need him to know. He hasn't been given access to the Catabase yet, and don't you dare - " she's stood up to snarl at him, the sheep unexpectedly growing fangs and claws when she blinks, leaning back at that last. "Oh - you - !" She pulls out her phone, doesn't recognize the number. It makes her frown. Looking up from it, she says tightly, "You just - you stay there, right there, because what you don't know you - you…" she whirls, turning to a profile angle to him, hits the YES on the phone's buttons and holds it to her ear. "Hello!" It's almost a snap.

«Kazimir Volken's will lives on. I have documents integral to his efforts to destroy the world through holocaust. Do you want them, or should I just call Teo and have him fetch them for you?»The voice is masculine, and casual enough you could almost confuse him with somone you knew for years. Cept yaknow, theres that french accent.

He, he. Teo isn't really interested in staying, not when she sheep's decided that morphing into a tiger is somehow the honorable thing. He gets up, kicks his chair back on a pop-spring of one leg. Puts his hands up, palms out, fingers splayed, half in surrender and more than a little bit in dismissal. Of himself, if nothing else.

No incarnation of Teo has ever been particularly comfortable with discussing what he's owed, what he was entitled to and should have received: Ghost merely picked up a sword and took it, and the younger one undertook gratuitous humility and assumed there was nothing he was supposed to have at all. This one says: "I'll let you get back to that. You know to call if you do need anything. Ciao."

The hand that reaches out to grab his forearm is not doing so in a fashion that suggests a bully's need to control their victim, but rather: hang on, something's wrong, don't go anywhere. However, they're both incensed with each other enough that either or neither may realize the difference. "Who is this?" she demands into the phone. "How do you know Teo? Or anything about Volken? How did you get this number?"

«None of that is important. Vanguard is attempting to get their hands on a soviet era nuclear device which is incapable of being disarmed, only detonated. They have a head start. If you want them you will do exactly as I say, deviate from my orders in any way and I will consider it an act of aggresssion and return in like force. I've set up a safety deposit box in your name in the Bank of New York's second branch location in Queens, you can retrieve the document there. Do you understand these directions?

The girl's fingers streak down the edge of Teo's sleeve before he yanks his arm away, worse than irritated, his face ugly with temper and hurt barely constrained behind an even mask of skin tension. He doesn't interrupt, and he doesn't try to leave again.

Helena looks at Teo as she speaks into the phone. "If you're trying to help me, or help us, you wouldn't be speaking in terms of ultimatums. Or issuing threats. The last person who spoke to me this way was one of the Vanguard. The only difference between you and him is that your accent is slightly more charming. If you want help with this, and for me to believe you aren't some dangerous psychopath trying to move me like a pawn on a chessboard, try again."

«You will arrive at the bank tomarrow no later or earlier than four thirty. You will retreive the document and leave immediately. I issue ultimatums because your a worthless terrorist, and you cant be relied to take the proper course of action. Failure to retreive the document will void any future aid on my part, to further your goals. I will contact you again after receipt of the document, goodbye. -CLICK-»

Helena blinks at the phone, and then, thumbing the END button, looks up at Teo. "Why and how would someone with a French accent be calling me claiming that the Vanguard is still trying to get their hands on a bomb? Calling me a worthless terrorist, issuing ultimatums about picking up docuents at the World Bank? And how would he know who you are?"

"Sounds about two degrees to the left of a guy named 'Francois' I know," Teo answers, and his voice is so dry and wintry cold it's probably a minor physical miracle in and of itself that it doesn't shatter in the air and fall on the floor in a glittery, razor-edged mound of ice fragments. "Also, coincidentally, like Fedor. Who is occasionally an arrogant cunt, and the only one I've ever met who bullshits around with safety deposit boxes when he knows Wireless could have E-mail covered. I'm heading out." He flicks a wry salute away from his brow on the edge of a hand, and turns for the door.

"I had just come back from a future that didn't include me, and probably destroyed for someone who I don't even know was worth coming back to." Helena says to his back. "I felt alone and scared and I wanted to believe desperately in you. I hadn't known that what Ghost did was without your consent, and that was moronic of me and I'm sorry, but I needed - the Teo in the future that I went to seemed like the Teo that I knew here. So if you're going to be angry and unforgiving, I can't stop you, but I needed to believe and that's my weakness for not just trusting, but wanting so badly to trust." She then puts up her hands, retreats. "I lost you a long time ago, and I didn't even realize it til now. It's a miracle that Phoenix has survived so long, under me." Now he's not the only one who's angry and bitter. She wants to press him further about the man on the phone, but…one thing at a time.

The locking mechanics click, turn, scratch metal on metal. Teo shoulders it open, and a slice of autumn air chills in, disturbing the soup from across the breadth of the trailer's floor. "I'm not—" The harsh out of his voice threatens to undercut the veracity of his reply, so Teo stops a moment, breathes in the algid rigidity of atmosphere. In, out. In, out.

He turns his head, finally, gives her the austere lines of his profile and the sincerity of eye-contact, halved but steady. "I'm not mad, Helena. I'm not mad. You gave your explanations, and now you know mine. And I know what you think of them. Seems like a good reason—" the phone in his own pocket buzzes, once, signalling the arrival of a text message. "— to go. Good luck." He scratches a step down, tugs his other leg out after him.

The Cellular World

Anton: Helena Dean is lame, and dates goats. There is a 1994 Honda Accord parked outside Old Lucy's, there is a copy of the document in the glovebox. The keys are in the beercan on the curb, hurry before somone recycles the can or tows the car.

Teo: If that bitch Ingrid sent you, you should know better than to call Dean that.

Anton: I'm on my own. Same as you. Difference is, I know I'm alone.
Anton: A friend of yours, now has a copy of the document.

Teo: Answer the question.'

Anton: The man who sent me is in a barge, the Barge's identification number is 77491. Be careful though, the CIA is looking for him.

Teo: You've either gone senile or been too busy, old man.

Anton: Petter Kobrin is dead, the vanguard shot his plane down off the coast of Argentina. His body is in an unmarked grave, would you like the co-ords?

Teo: No.

Anton: Do you know what a Radiological explosive is?

Teo: Dictionary definition, nothing comprehensive.

Anton: its a weapon which is designed specifically to make large sections of the world lethal, and so heavily irradiated that no life can survive there. If one was detonated in New York, the vast majority of the Americas and most of the Pacific would become more radioactive than Chernobyl. They are held at the same facility as the failsafe warheads. Do you know what a failsafe warhead is? Its a nuclear device about ten kilotons. It can not be defused or deactiviated, it is designed to explode no matter what. Vanguard has a vested interest in these weapons.

Teo: Consider that memorized.

Anton: The document will tell you where to find these devices. The CIA and NSA are presumably looking for the document, and likely believe Phoenix is attempting to acquire a nuclear device. It was acquired by a CIA field officer at the behest of Kazimir himself. They have a copy of the document, they know where to find the devices they are looking for.

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