Veiled Inhospitality


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Scene Title Veiled Inhospitality
Synopsis Desmond Harper and Sabra Dalton have a pleasant little chat about recent complications in the relationship of DHS and the Company.
Date August 14, 2010

Fort Hero: Sabra's Office

The inside of Sabra Dalton's office isn't actually a place Desmond Harper sees very often — he deals with her by proxy, at a degree or two of remove. Through the intermediaries of Benjamin Ryans, Kayla Reid, and other staff. Being outside her authority, he isn't even subject to being summoned in

…except, apparently, today. Oh, the wording of the message sent was scrupulously polite, in the style of Sabra's old-fashioned manners; a request, an offer of if it's convenient… but only the offer of one specific timeframe — and, of course, the specification that Harper come here. Between the lines, a summons made.

Desmond doesn't know of the atmosphere Sabra usually makes a point of presenting in her space; warmth and welcome are entirely absent today, replaced by sere business. Ashton stands a patiently quiet, unobtrusive presence in the back of the room. The woman herself sits behind her desk, its surface tidied and neat, bare of all but the few papers and files she's currently working with. Reading glasses perched on her nose in purest affectation as she regards the computer screen, Sabra pays no regard at all to the wide-open office door.

Or so an observer might believe.

Less than a week's time of recuperation has treated Desmond Harper well, and that he's able to talk and eat without excruciating pain is probably thanks to whatever medical or supernatural wizardry is available at the Institute rather than any amount of painkillers he'd been given for a fractured jaw.

The charcoal gray suit Harper wears gives a flattering outline to him as he walks in, suit coat unbuttoned and the crisp white of his undershirt sans the dividing line of a necktie today. "Director Dalton," Harper coos with one brow lifted as he steps through that invitingly open door, blue eyes cast askance to Ashton's looming figure with a slow nod of recognition afforded before attention returns to the old woman behind the desk.

"I'm glad you had the opportunity to talk to me, because I have collection of upset messages from my superiors and a few things I'd like to talk to you about." Hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks, Harper walks with a casual gait into the office, actually seeming interested in the decor as much as he is the individuals in it.

"What ah, did you have on your agenda?" There's double meaning behind that question of Harper's, no doubt. As his attention returns to Sabra once again and his entrance into the room has brought him to stand behind the chair opposite of hers at the desk, Harper lays his hands down on the back of the chair and leans forward to rest his weight on it, expectantly.

Ashton makes no move to recognize Harper; no move at all, in fact, patiently still in the absence of any directive from the woman who is in practice his sole superior. She, on the other hand, finishes typing a line of text before turning to look at the man who has entered the office. "Mr. Harper," Sabra greets with a smile and the faultless exudance of so glad you could come.

Reaching up to pull the glasses from before her eyes, she folds the arms in and sets them down behind the keyboard. "Thank you for taking the time to visit. I received a report just today that I believe will be of interest to you." That amiable smile again, as the elderly lady lifts one particular folder from her desk and extends it towards him. "I suspect it addresses some of your superiors' concerns as well."

The label stuck on the folder's tab reads Pharmatech.

"The company representative informs me," Sabra continues, with seeming intent to give a verbal synopsis of the folder's contents, "that they've verified methanol contamination in the isotope solution. It appears to have been introduced with reagents from one particular supplier — a Chinese company they began buying from four months ago," she remarks with quiet disapproval. "But, as you are no doubt aware, methanol is a potentially deadly chemical, and they are not comfortable with assuming any batch is definitively clean; apparently the contamination is not consistent, for chemistry reasons beyond my knowledge." She folds her hands on the desk's edge, head tipping slightly. "Pharmatech's decision is to maintain the moratorium until they are certain the issue has been resolved completely."

Harper's slow to even reach for the file, slow to do much of anything after Sabra explains the contents in brief. When he does finally reach for the file, it's only after he's leaned off of the chair and circled around it. Folder in hand, Harper opens it and leafs thorugh the pages without much scrutiny to the contents. Blue eyes lift up from the writing to settle on Sabra, then over to Ashton and back down again.

"Alright," comes out more in the tone of well played as Harper closes the folder and holds it behind his back with both hands. "I take it that you have no projection of when they'll be certain on that, so I'm not even going to try and press that issue." Rolling a tongue over the inside of his cheek, it's evident that Harper has found himself at a momentary impasse in regards to the isotope injections.

Moving the folder from behind his back, Harper tucks it under one arm and rests his free hand on his hip as he looks down to Sabra's desk, then back up to her. "I'll take it this folder has a list of agents who received the contaminated injections? Because I know that my superiors are going to want to look into this themselves. Do we know if there's any caches of the radio isotope that are uncontaminated that we could use in the interim? Even if…" there's a wave of one hand in the air, "a small fraction of the amount of people we'd prefer to tag?"

Sabra lifts her hands, spreads them to either side. "I can only tell you what I have been told," Sabra replies. "As to caches," the older woman continues, "you may recall that Pharmatech ordered the return of all stocks. We have none whatsoever until they are released." Blue eyes level across the desk at Harper. "Neither I nor Director Bishop have authority over Pharmatech," she adds, the words more than faintly pointed; she doesn't have to say any more when it's so strongly implied.

The elderly lady brings her hands back together, clasping them loosely in her lap. "Your superiors are of course free to investigate," she continues magnanimously. "The list is there, as well as all the information we have. I believe all affected agents have returned to duty in recent days, so you should be able to find them here."

Between Messiah destroying a production plant in Billings, Montana and now this it's no small wonder that Harper looks like he's just sucked on a very sour lemon. Lifting one hand to press fingers at his temple, the agent massages there gently and furrows his brows together. Dryly clearing his throat, Harper looks down to the chair he's been forsaking, then back up to Sabra.

"I need to talk to you about Martin Crowley, and I don't think you need to ask why, either. I filed an official complaint to my central offices about Crowley's behavior and the unprofessional quality of it, and I want to know that your end of operations is going to make certain that he faces disciplinary measures for what happened in the conference room." Admittedly all that is left injured on Harper is his pride, but with situations as tense as they are, Crowley's outburst couldn't be any more ill-timed.

"Beyond that, I don't know if you and I have anything else to talk about, Miss Dalton." Blue eyes momentarily flick to the unused tea-set sitting on a sideboard adjacent to the wall Ashton is closest to. When Harper's attention settles back on Sabra, one brow raised. "You didn't offer me tea," he says with a feigned tone of hurt. Apparently her reputation precedes her.

Sabra follows Harper's gaze to the neglected service, and echoes his arched brow. "With demands from two organizations to meet, you are a tremendously busy man," the elderly lady replies smoothly. "I couldn't imagine you'd have the time to spare, and it's such injustice to do less than savor a good cup of tea." Both her smile and the gleam of her blue eyes are patently genial; it appears Sabra is the better actor, because it doesn't seem feigned in the least. "I would be pleased to make it up to you someday when you are not rushing hither and yon."

"As for Crowley," she continues in a cooler, pragmatic tone, "you can rest assured, Mr. Harper, that the situation is being dealt with appropriately." No smile now, all business and professional authority away from the personal issue of hospitality not offered. "However, the repercussions that will be visited on Crowley are an internal affair. I do understand your personal interest in the matter," she comments soothingly, "but beyond assuring you that he will be reprimanded, I can say no more."

"Good," is Harper's flat answer, lips downturned into a frown and head dipping into a nod, "I don't think the Company needs any more loose cannons, they seem to be in surplus these days." Tapping the folder against his thigh, Harper looks down to the floor in momentary thought, then back up to Sabra with a thoughtful but silent stare. Nothing is said, but Harper's posture says a great deal about his tension and anxiety for dealing with the Director. For all that he trusts that most of the agents lawfully Registered, there's always that niggling doubt that a few may have slipped through the cracks.

Not knowing if the woman seated across from you is what she seems at all is always nerve-wracking.

"I guess you're right," Harper adds with a nod to the tea set, "I do have a lot to do today." A shift of the agent's weight has him side-stepping the chair across from Sabra's desk and moving around it. He doesn't quite turn his back to the white-haired old Director, for as he's passing the chair Harper is twisting to look back at her in mid-stride.

"I'm sure we'll get this all worked out," Desmond explains with a raise of the folder in one hand, waggling it back and forth, "and figure out what was responsible for the contamination. Hopefully," he notes with a raise of his brows, "we'll find out in time to make sure that the responsible parties are handled appropriately too."

Desmond uses the folder to offer a casual wave as he adds, "Have a good day, Director, and thanks for seeing me again."

Sabra regards Harper with polite and interested attention, inclining her head in return to his parting remarks. "I imagine we will," she concurs, before watching the Homeland Security liaison exit her office. The woman continues to regard the hall for a time, perhaps to ensure he really is gone, or maybe just letting thoughts and reflections percolate through her mind.

Contact Bennet's people, she finally instructs Ashton in voiceless gesture. And proceed as planned.

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