Unwanted Attention


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Scene Title Unwanted Attention
Synopsis Following an incident which left Alia Chavez in DoEA custody, Sarisa Kershner comes up from Washington to inform Elisabeth Harrison just how much trouble she may be in.
Date December 27, 2010

Textile Factory 17

Flying out to New York City in the midst of the first major blizzard this winter wasn't Sarisa Kershner's idea of how she was going to spend her holiday vacation. The week and a half off before Christmas and leading into the new year should have been a time for leaning back, reconsidering her plans and preparing to move to the second stage of her operations. Instead, Sarisa Kershner is sitting in the top-level conference room at the FRONTLINE Unit-01 headquarters in New York City.

Seated at the circular conference table, illuminated by diffuse light filtering in through partly blinded windows that view a snowy cityscape, Sarisa steeples her leather-gloved hands in front of her mouth, stares down at paperwork on the table in front of her, and looks largely lost in thought.

Perhaps befitting of her mood she is dressed solely in coal black, from her suit to her slacks all the way down to her silk kerchief tied around her neck. Blonde hair spills over her shoulders and ink black brows are knit into a visibly frustrated expression.

The paperwork in front of Sarisa is the Registry information for one Alia Chavez, along with documentation on the AETOS-0 prototype combat drone and several other signed forms with Department of Defense letterhead. Her focus breaks only when she hears the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs to the conference room door, her icy blue eyes diverting from paper to the door as one brow raises expectantly.

7:00am on the nose. Elisabeth Harrison is nothing if not punctual.

At least right now she has that going for her.

And they warned her at the door that Kershner was in her office. Liz's office, that is. The audiokinetic squared her shoulders on the way through the base and didn't bother knocking on her own door. Carrying a cup of coffee with her, she enters the office and her greeting is quiet and respectful, "Ma'am."

She moves to set the cup down, her own attire not entirely different. A pair of navy blue slacks and a sleek silvery-gray long-sleeved pullover are muted enough to be serious and somber but not black. Liz already knows that Sarisa's pissed. With probably every right to be.

There's degrees of anger that Sarisa has, and Elisabeth has been around long enough to see them all. When she's shouting, spitting mad it's personal, it's something she cares about dearly and actually has passion for. When she's glowering, moody and put off it's something that she has no control over. When she's silent, business-like and all-too professional…

She's livid.

"Take a seat," is stated in dangerously calm tones, one gloved hand motioning to a chair nearby on the round table. Sarisa folds her gloved hands after laying down the paperwork, slouching forward and sighing against the supple leather. "The Department of Evolved Affairs is sending over agent Katie Sebastian to investigate you, your operation and any inappropriate business associations you may have as leader of FRONTLINE Unit-01." Sarisa's blue eyes stare focused down on the paperwork over her gloves.

"She's going to sit you down and likely interrogate you as to your relationship with Chavez, your relationship with Redbird Security Solutions and any foreknowledge you may have had about Miss Chavez' status as a falsely registered Evolved. Agent Sebastian is also likely to question your professional and personal relationship with Alia's registering offiers Christopher Nash, who is currently facing charges related to a prior Registry falsification…"

Sarisa's tongue sweeps across her lips, and slowly she leans back with a creak of the chair's leather backing. Those blue eyes come up to meet Elisabeth, and then flit to one of the windows. "I don't think I need to say that what happened last week has garnered unwanted attention in Washington. Fires are lit that I don't know if I can put it."

"Yes ma'am," Elisabeth says quietly as she sits down. And she listens to every word that's spat at her in that cold rage without offering an excuse. "You'll find the books are entirely aboveboard. I stepped outside my authority to bring in an outside programming consultant already under secure contracts to the government to take a look at the drone due to actions it was taking that did not appear to be corrected the last time it went in for a check. Having the thing offer indications of behavioral problems that are not explained disturbs me."

"It wasn't yours to tamper with, but I think you realize that now. You should have called up to the Department of Defense and had one of their experts come to examine it. There's a technopath right on Staten Island who programmed it, and I'm fairly certain he's the one handling whatever it is that became of miss Chavez." Sarisa lifts one hand, scrubbing the heel of her palm across her jawline. "The AETOS is eventually going to be returned to FRONTLINE and it is to return to active duty. According to the report from Agent Verse down at Miller Airfield, there's nothing wrong with the machine."

Blue eyes alight to Elisabeth, and Sarisa breathes in deeply and rests her mouth against he back of her hands. She's silent, for a few long moments in what is clearly an attempt to put her thoughts together. When she sits back up, one gloved hand brushes an errant lock of blonde hair from her face and her dark brows pinch together.

"Richard came to see me the other day in Washington while I was trying to stamp out the fires from what Chavez did. I don't know if he's told you what we talked about yet, but I dont' much worry about sounding redundant at the moment, it might do well to hear again."

Sarisa pushes her chair back, unable to sit still any longer and rises up to walk over to one of the windows. "I appointed you here at the head of Unit One because you weren't the DoD's first choice." Two gloved fingers spread the vertical blinds, and Sarisa stares out into the snowy courtyard of the Factory. "Colonel Heller was, and while I applaud his tenacity and drive, he isn't the best for this city. Not as a supreme authority of FRONTLINE in New York."

Staring vacantly out the window, Sarisa's eyes take on a distant look to them. "You're on a knife-edge right now, because of Chavez. I was able to smooth over feathers about your requisitioning of Alia, but that she was unregistered looks bad. I know when I get back to DC, I'm going to hear saber-rattling from Heller's backers…" Sarisa's blue eyes slowly narrow. "You don't want him taking your job."

Elisabeth didn't even know he'd gone, though she doesn't give that information away. "I'm aware that the damn programmer over there is saying there's nothing wrong with it. But I'm telling you that there is, ma'am," she says quietly, insistently. "I've even had the bastard who built the goddamn thing contact me and tell me to let him know if it starts showing signs of fucking sentience." She shoves a hand into her hair.

"I contracted with Redbird entirely aboveboard — I have all the paperwork to back up that I asked for a good progammer and that's all her information told me. She had a valid Registration Card that was checked when she came in the doors. All I wanted was an assessment of the thing's behavior from an outside, secure source so that I could bring it back to you with something more than my gut. But the thing is acting wrong. It's….. watching." She rolls her eyes and says, "And yes. That sounds paranoid as fuck, but you know what? I know about Hector Steele and I know it's not paranoia when you let someone like Warren Ray mess around with Steele's designs."

Elisabeth sighs heavily. "I'm sorry. It's all I have to offer, Sarisa. I'm doing the best I can to look out for my team, and I don't want some drone going Terminator all over our asses when we're in the field because it decided we're all killers or something."

"Take anything Warren Ray says with a grain of salt, Elisabeth. He reverse-engineered that machine's designs from things that were collected during Operation Apollo. Warren did some work retrofitting the computer brain of the drone, but its core programming was done by someone else. He may have posited that it was possible it could become self-aware. Verse is a highly skilled programmer and the DoEA has a crack team working on that entire design spectrum…"

Sarisa glances over her shoulder from the window to Liz. "It learns," she finally clarifies, "it's designed to learn. Like a dog learns, like any animal learns. That's why it was put with your team, because Dooley seemed to have a natural rapport with it due to its animalistic nature. If you think it's watching you, you're not paranoid." Elisabeth manages something of a faint smile. "You'd correct. It's a member of your team, like any K-9 would be to a police officer. You need to get to learn to be comfortable around it, because it isn't going anywhere. If anything, you'll be seeing more of them."

Under her breath, Elisabeth murmurs, "Great. Just what I fucking need." She rubs her forehead. "And yes, anything Warren Ray ever says is taken with a pound of rock salt. Which is why I wanted the outside contractor. Just to look. She was not going to do anything to it." Her mouth tightens. "It was my call — a bad one, I'll fully admit to them — and you're right. I don't want a cold-blooded murderer taking over my team. So I'll do whatever I can to handle the situation. Make whatever apologies and such you deem necessary."

"I know Agent Sebastian," Sarisa admits with her brows furrowed and eyes halfway lidded. "She's going to dig, and dig deep. You'd best make sure you have a clean house, personal and professional. When she's done I don't know where the DoEA will go next or what they'll do, but they might appoint a supervisor to you, depending on the interview or how much the DoEA's upper brass feels like taking a shit on my project. Given that Adrianne Lancaster has a say in the matter, I'd be expecting a hot, steaming present."

Brushing her tongue over the inside of her cheek, Sarisa's eyes shut and she crosses her arms over her chest. "Chavez is the one who's in more trouble here. Right now she's in government custody, and they're likely going to come to 'arrest' her corporeal body today. You may never see her again after what happened."

Elisabeth closes her eyes. She looks… beyond unhappy. She fucked up royally and fully knows it. Knew it the day it happened. "Yes, ma'am," she says quietly.

Sarisa's head bobs repeatedly into a few short nods, followed by a breathily exhaled sigh. "I'll be here in New York until Wednesday, then I'm headed back to DC. If anything comes up or changes, I'll try to warn you in advance." It's more than she should do, given the circumstances, but unfortunately for Sarisa Kershner, she's put in all her chips on Elisabeth Harrison, and there's no room to cash out early.


Dismissed out of her own office.

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