What Exactly Do You Hope To Accomplish Here?


elisabeth_icon.gif jennifer_icon.gif

Scene Title What Exactly Do You Hope to Accomplish Here?
Synopsis Jennifer approaches Elisabeth as … what? A sounding board? And leaves Elisabeth worried.
Date March 11, 2009

Somewhere in the Financial District

Elisabeth hasn't even been to bed yet today. Between Deckard's release last night — which she had to remain behind and visible in the precinct for — and a case she got called out on in the wee hours, she's living on caffeine. She needs some sleep before the Staten Island breakout too, so she gets permission to take part of the day off from Will Harvard, and she's on her way out the door when the call comes through to her cell. An unfamiliar number, but when the voice on the other end identifies herself, Elisabeth agrees to the meeting immediately. It's good that daytime business in NYC has returned to something resembling normal, because the woman with jeans and brown blazer under a black jacket carrying a huge cup of coffee from a chain doesn't look at all out of place on the streets. She sits on a small support wall next to a set of wide stairs that goes into one of the many office buildings in the area, waiting.

Jennifer has set things up right on the streets of New York. Plenty of eyewitnesses. Bad place for anything to hear, and very Purloined-Letter when it comes to dealing with secrets. She's in a jacket and jeans as she approaches the bench that's the meeting place, looking about for the officer.

Elisabeth sips her coffee and then notes Jennifer's arrival. "Hi," she offers the girl. There's nothing even approaching threat in her greeting. More curiosity than anything else… she's surprised Jennifer would contact her. She waits until Jennifer sits and closes a bubble around them for privacy. "What's on your mind, kiddo?"

Her face is surprisingly down-to-earth; she's got a very girl-next-door look to her, right down to the freckles that touch at her cheeks. Her face is one of soft, gentle curves, making her look a bit younger than her 19 years. Her eyes are large and expressive, a shade of pale ice blue. Surprisingly full lips, inspiring words like 'luscious', hold the shape of her mouth into soft smiles or angry scowls. Her commanding countenance is framed by a fall of ebon hair, lustrous and healthy, trimmed to curl at varying lengths as it spills down her shoulders. Her hair is obviously the recipient of much attention from herself and others, care and grooming, envy and adoration. Her figure is slender but prominently athletic, and clothing only enhances the enviable contours of her body. She is graced with a bust that could safely be described as generous by someone with a fondness for understatement, and with a supple and firm waist and limbs and curves that flow harmoniously together to complete an image that is aesthetically beyond reproach.

Jennifer is troubled. She moves to sit down, and look over to Elisabeth. "I want to talk to you. You're police, and you also work with certain birdwatching groups. How do you manage to reconcile the two? Especially given how things went?"

"Given how things went…. with the virus and the bridge collapse?" Elisabeth asks, wanting to be sure she understands the question before answering it.

Jennifer nods. "With people dying, people locked up, and an utter mismanagement by the birdwatchers." She sounds a little bitter there. "Who, instead of letting the professionals handle it, decided that amateur antics would be better, with untrained people."

Taking the time to sip her coffee, Elisabeth contemplates her response here. "Well… first, let me just say this, and I think I can say it with a large degree of certainty: The situation would have gone no better if the 'professionals' had handled it. There's an awful lot of bureaucracy that I don't think you've ever been in any position to see at work — interdepartmental wrangling over jurisdiction and who gets credit for what and such. You're also not in the loop of the upper echelons with the birdwatchers, so you really don't know what all went on behind the scenes before all that, but we did in fact attempt several times to alert law enforcement of the situation. I personally handed over every bit of intel we had to my captain. No one moved on it. No one," she amends, "no one that I am *aware of* even tried. Which is one of the reasons the birdwatchers made the commitment to stop Volken's group."

She glances around, then looks back at Jennifer. "Second, although people dying is regrettable in the extreme… far, far fewer people died as a result of what we did, Jennifer. And in spite of your anger at what I can only assume you view as your treatment within the group, I *believe* that you actually know that … so in answer to your question, I reconcile my actions by looking at the overall picture and doing everything in my power to help the most people."

Jennifer frowns. "And that makes it alright to put people in danger, Elisabeth?" She scowls. "The information should have gone openly, to anyone and everyone who might have acted on it. Police. Homeland Security. The FBI. Hell, the -media-. The people who are trained to deal with things like this, and who get paid to deal with things like this. You wouldn't hand a gun to a kid and ask him to go be a vigilante. This is the kind of thing that we're SUPPOSED to have laws to stop."

Elisabeth tilts her head and asks calmly, "Do you think there's any chance, just as a for instance here, that if we'd gone to the media, that would have made things BETTER somehow? I think the more likely possibility in that case would have been Volken altering his plan, moving up his timeline, and just going ahead and launching the virus before anyone had the chance to respond. The real world is not black and white, Jennifer, it's a billion shades of gray. We have laws to stop all KINDS of things, up to and including, right now, laws to stop *you* from keeping your powers a secret. Do you think the laws that say you have to go Register and let them haul you away for testing are right?"

Jennifer is quiet a moment. "Yeah, I do think there's a chance. I think there's a chance that it would have actually mobilized people behind the need to act, and the professionals would have done them. I've been seriously considering Registering." She admits. "I'm also seriously considering going to all the same people who SHOULD have known about Volken's bunch with what I know about Phoenix. Before they get anyone else killed." And Jennifer knows a lot. Certainly most of the membership.

Elisabeth purses her lips. Damn teenagers. This is why she hates the fact that so much of Phoenix is so young — they think they know everything when they really don't know *anything*. "I can tell you that I think you're dead wrong about what would have happened. Based on years in law enforcement, here's the most likely scenario — and bear in mind here once more that WE DID ALERT both the NYPD *and* the FBI. Why do you think some of the people involved in what happened were people like me, Jennifer? Because no one listened." She doesn't raise her voice, but she sure as hell laces it with every bit of conviction she can muster, because it's the truth. Harvard told her he couldn't act on ANYTHING she brought him, couldn't even investigate it. "I can also tell you that if we'd gone to the media, one of two things would have happened: 1) They would have laughed at us and called us crackpots, or 2) they would have gone ahead and reported on it in spite of the fact that they couldn't corroborate our story — highly unlikely because they're very lawsuit-conscious — and it would have created a mass panic out there, so that even if NYPD or the FBI or someone *had* decided to listen at that point, it would have been too late. Criminals and bad guys don't work in real life like they do in the movies, Jennifer — you run about and broadcast their plans? They change them. So in real life, when you're trying to stop criminals, you don't TELL them that you know what they're up to, you set up a sting. Which is exactly what Phoenix did when law enforcement officials wouldn't follow up on the vast quantities if intel we gave them."

Jennifer frowns. She'd been hoping for some support from the police officer, and clearly, she's getting more of the Phoenix Party Line (TM). Damn adults. She replies "If no one was listening, then the right people weren't told. I refuse to believe that the right people would just have blown things off in a post 9/11 world. People take all that terrorist stuff too seriously. And so WHAT if they changed their plans? It would still have forced the authorities to act, because public opinion would have been on them, and maybe people wouldn't be dead and in jail now. How many more times? What happens the next time Teo decides something's bad enough to throw untrained civilians at it and get more of them hurt and killed?"

Elisabeth sets her coffee down and says, "Jennifer, listen to me. *Teo* didn't decide anything in a vacuum. The right people *were* told, they just didn't believe what was happening. I'm not stupid, and believe me, I did NOT want a bunch of 20-year-olds with guns out there. Do I like what happened? Hell no. I swore an oath to serve and protect, and that's what I'm doing to the best of my ability. I think it's fabulous that you have so much faith in the laws of this country and the people making them. My job is to uphold those laws to the best of my ability." She pauses. "Do you know that I've dealt with no less than a couple hundred Evolved suicides and attempted suicides in the last month? People who were so frightened of what was going to happen to them that they chose to *die* rather than find out what their power could do. I have taken people willing to be Registered to the registration center only to have them *vanish* into the system, their families with no clue where they are and no contact from them in weeks now. The people running this country are trying to do the right things, but they're just as clueless as the rest of us. They're people too."

She looks at the girl. "What are you looking for with all this? What are you hoping to get out of it? Closure of some kind? Someone to tell you 'oh, it's okay, everything's going to be fine'? I don't want to lie to you, Jennifer. It's possible you'll go in there and Register and everything will be fine. It's also possible that Homeland Security will decide that your power is far too useful to allow you to walk free — they'll put you to work 'helping the poor'," air quotes in use there, "making lots of food or whatever. And you'll be helping," she admits. "But you also won't ever be free to walk away again."

Jennifer frowns. "I'm trying to avoid getting anyone else hurt or killed because Phoenix wants to play toy soldier without having the training or the equipment or anything else for it. And Registration is not the big bad boogeyman. YOU'RE Registered, for crying our loud!" She points out, agitatedly. "I'm sorry, I don't buy into the whole "Big Brother is out to lock us up" theory! This is America. If they were going to lock up Evolved, they'd have done it when they first got outed, not just out of the blue two years later!" Clearly she's not convinced fully, or she wouldn't be HERE…she'd be doing it. But she may very well be using Liz as sounding board.

"You're right, I am. I Registered because I wanted to go back to work as a cop and this was the only way to do it. And so far, I haven't been excessively sorry I complied, though I have lingering concerns over the whole situation, honestly. My power has been classified as a Tier 1 power because I didn't show them everything I could do — and I highly recommend that if you decide to Register, you show them only a minimal amount of what you can do as well." Elisabeth smiles just a little. "Oh, this is America and they can't do that, huh? Aaaaannnnddd…. did you know that Helena and Alexander were picked up that day on the bridge and taken to prison with no trial, no lawyers, and they're being drugged every day to keep their abilities squelched? Did you know that any inquiry made about their well-being flags the person for interrogation by Homeland Security? Cuz it *is* happening. Did you know that Homeland Security, with no oversight that I can find nor any appeals process that can be utilized, has the unilateral authority to determine of your power is 'too dangerous' to allow you to be free on the streets. They can just decide that you're not a good enough person not to USE a potentially destructive power for 'evil'," and again both cases with the air quotes, "and they can just lock you up for the rest of your life." Her tone is calm, quiet, and very matter-of-fact. She's not trying to scare Jennifer, telling ghost stories in whispers. She's laying out the facts as she knows them, and she's giving the girl every ounce of sincerity that she's got.

Jennifer looks back to Elisabeth. "I don't HAVE a dangerous power. What am I gonna do, -make- stuff at people?" She sounds frustrated. "We'll see." She's come to a decision in her mind about how to proceed. "Thanks for the talk. You've helped me put things together in my head." With that, the student moves to stand.

Elisabeth moves to stand as well, looking at Jennifer with an expression of … not regret, but perhaps 'I don't really know how to help'. "I know you're mad at the way Teo and the others treated you — I don't know what all actually happened with you, Jennifer, but you have the right to an opinion, just like everyone else. Do I think you should listen to me? Sure. I've seen and done and been part of a lot of things, both Phoenix and cop, that give me some insights and experience you don't have. But ultimately, it's always your choice what you do. We trusted you with knowledge of who we all were, we trusted you to know that we weren't trying to randomly run around and hurt people. Whatever it is here that you're really mad at? I think you should weigh, long and hard, what you want out of your actions and out of your life. You could turn in everyone in Phoenix, but I submit to you that if Phoenix people *hadn't* been listening out there and willing to act… 90 percent of the world's population would be now dying because of Volken's virus. Did it go off as cleanly as we'd hoped? No. Did we ultimately do the right thing? Each of us has to come to terms with that on our own…. I know that in spite of my own nightmares about my part in it — and believe me, I have them. A lot of them — I *do* think we did the right thing. And I hope that nothing like that will EVER happen again. You'd think it would be a one-shot deal, right? Big virus destroying the world?" She smiles a little.

The younger woman looks back "Virus destroys the world, bomb destroys the city…seems to happen on a pretty regular basis out here. And we trusted them, too. To not throw us into harm's way without cause. To not use people as cannon fodder. Intentions or no…the application sucked. And you know what they say about that road to hell and good intentions. Take care, Elisabeth." She starts to walk off.

Elisabeth reaches out to stop her motion for just a moment, not roughly but long enough to speak. "Not a single person OUT there was cannon fodder, Jennifer. You think you could have done the job better? Maybe you should have actually participated," she replies, trying to modulate her angry tone. "I'll tell you something — if I'd died that night, I'd have counted my death as worth something because 90 fucking percent of the world's population now *isn't* dying. The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but so far? All I am getting from this conversation is that you want revenge because someone didn't do it the way you wanted it done. So you think you can do a better job? Get involved. Go help Brian at the Lighthouse, go to the police academy and become a cop, do *something* that actually puts you in a a place where you *can* help in ways that you feel good about helping. Because there are a lot of people who could use it. And don't malign those of us who did everything we could to do it by the book and believed we had no other options, because you know what they say about walking a mile in another person's shoes? You haven't done it yet."

Jennifer looks back to Elisabeth. There's an angry look that flashes in her eyes, but it's reined in before it gets as far as her mouth and the words spill out. "I -tried- getting involved." Is what she finally says. "Now, I'm going to do it by the book. And as far as not walking in another person's shoes? Where were you, day in, day out, when we were trekking into the radioactive hinterlands of midtown, Officer?" Okay. Maybe it isn't so reined in. "Thank you, for your time." She says, crisply, before turning again.

Elisabeth lets the girl go, and she too turns to leave. She has a meeting with Teo this morning, and she has a feeling certain parts of it will go poorly.

March 11th: None Are Broken
March 11th: About That Fire
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