Whatever Cost


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Also featuring:

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Scene Title Whatever Cost
Synopsis The Ferry assembles to vote on what to do with Liette in light of the Institute raid on the Armory.
Date April 15, 2010

Grand Central Terminal

Wooden crates, fold-out chairs placed around flimsy card tables with cobwebs strung between their aluminum legs like toxic threads of silver cotton candy — there is no lack of seating in the foyer where the Ferry has chosen to meet on a frostbitten Thursday afternoon, and although it's warmer below ground in Grand Central Terminal than it is above where pedestrians combat snow and blustering winds, it isn't so warm that the men and women gathered here have taken off their gloves or their coats.

They number fifty-seven, and if the roads weren't in the condition that they are, there might be two or three times as many bodies packed into the room. Yuan Tien, the Armory's former operator, sits on a crate toward the gathering's epicenter with two black eyes and a strip of tape plastered across his broken nose. Rumour has it that he resurfaced several hours after the bulletin about his disappearance went out; unsurprisingly, the dour old man doesn't look happy. Beside him is a tall, slender woman with flawless ivory skin and hair with the colour and texture of polished volcanic rock, and eyes that aren't much different in appearance. Michelle Kaneda, or Chelle as the Ferry's children call her, has not spoken a word to anyone since she took her seat, not because she doesn't have anything to say, but because she's cradling a dark-skinned boy of two in her slender arms and is more enamored with watching him tangle her hair in his fingers than she is making conversation with nearby operatives.

They might not be able to hear her. On the opposite side of the oblong circle, the card table that Gillian Childs, Joseph Sumter and Melissa Pierce share is only three and a half feet across, but they'd be hard-pressed to converse with one another, surrounded as they are by the dull roar of discontent voices. An emotional empath had to leave the meet some fifteen minutes before it started, so overwhelming was the negative energy gathering in the air and in the rafters where a small flock of subterranean pigeons takes shelter from the cold.

Eileen Ruskin and the man who has been posing as her shadow since their return from Apollo are here, too, and among only a small handful of operatives who choose to remain standing, their backs to the wall as they watch the proceedings from the darker shadows. Scott Harkness and Helena Dean, on two opposite sides of a card table of their own, are instead bathed in a luminous glow leaking out from one of the lamps hanging overhead, the blonde's hair lit gold. Nearby, in a free-floating chair: Noah Bennet. In the past, all eyes in the room would be focused on the organization's founder, seeking his guidance, but things have changed over the course of the last year and these meetings have since learned to direct themselves.

"We don't even know what happened," someone is shouting above the din, and to the assembly's credit, the roar gradually diminishes to a low murmur.

Another voice, younger than the first: "Pierce was there. Ask her."

Like Tien, Melissa doesn't look very pleased. Of course, she has a sling on one arm, and the hand of her other arm is wrapped in a now bloody bandage. Said bandage could be why she has erratic red streaks in her hair. She's just not having a good week. She's looking around absently as people ramble, and when her name is said, she seeks out the source of that voice before raising her own.

"You think I know everything that went on last night? Then you're doomed to disappointment," she says flatly. "I showed up with the intention of talking to Brennan and visiting Liette. I'd barely gotten my damn coat off when a helicopter landed on the roof and a shitload of people on snowmobiles showed up. The snowmobile people were all dressed in funky suits. Some were evolved, some not. They had artillary and guns, and they weren't shy of using them. Or the gas that negated our abilities."

Mel sighs and rubs at her temple. "And that is pretty much all I know about last night. Unless people have specific questions? And try to remember that I'm not on freakin' trial here, will ya?"

Sulking under the light of fluorescent lamps, the pale young redhead standing behind Melissa Pierce looks like he doesn't quite want to even be here, but as one of the few surviving witnesses of what happened in the ruins of Midtown last night, Jonas Regan doesn't have much of a choice. Disheveled copper hair is unstyled, swept down over his forehead and large black circular sunglasses hide the unnatural glow of his eyes from the others in the room. The scowl on the pale young man's lips is comparable to the disdainful expression of frustration on Yuan Tien's face across from him.

Likewise a witness, on top of being a safehouse operator, Andy Rourke looks to have lost himself in his reservations, shaved head bowed and fur-trimmed hood of his olive-drab jacket pulled up, staring down at his hands between his knees, perched on an overturned milk crate and clearly looking like he's nursing either a headache or a hangover — or both.

"We got proper fucked," Andy chimes in, that clipped Bristol accent echoing in the cavernous subway foyer, "I don't even know who the buggers were tha' came to the building, but one minute I'm 'elping stock the bloody arms locker, and the next minute we're getting gassed and shot at. I don't even remember how we got to sodding roof it was so much've a blur."

"There was a smoke guy." Jonas says unhelpfully, "Some— I dunno some bald dude who could turn into smoke, I didn't recognize him but he was helping us." Melissa knows a bald man who turns to smoke too, unfortunately for her the distinction between Vincent Lazzaro and Samson Gray are lost in Jonas' bitter explanation. "It's all that fucking girl's fault, I heard everyone talking at the Garden after we got back, they were there for that blonde girl with the doctor."

Scowling, Scott Harkness leans back in his chair, hands folded on his lap and dark eyes offering an askance look to Helena. Brows furrow and the old soldier shakes his head, not at her but at the meeting in general. When he fires a look at someone else, it's Noah Bennet, an expectant stare wondering when the Ferrymen founder will actually put the meeting to order.

Noah himself shows no signs of doing that at all, instead he's reclined back in his chair, arms folded across his chest, eyes leveled over the dark frames of his horn-rimmed glasses at Eileen; He wants to see what she does.

Seated back in his chair, bundled in hunter green wool and sturdy blue jeans, a black weather-proof jacket losing the definition of his shoulders and posture, Joseph is a so far silent presence in the rowdy din of the Ferrymeeting. The last time he'd seen anything like this, he'd been about as vocal as he can get in such an environment — and considering how all that turned out and the events that spiralled after, it's probably no wonder that he keeps his mouth shut as he waits to understand the situation. Fragmented explanations are all he's caught since his arrival, and so when Melissa's name is called, he turns dark eyes to observe her across from him.

Despite his self-resolve to remain quiet and listen, he does deal a specific question— especially when the girl is brought up— just loud enough that the immediate crowd could pick it up, and other's beyond if they're paying attention. "How 'bout we start with how these people knew about the Armory? No matter what they were after, how did they know t'even look?"

Seated across from Scott, Helena is lending the room a comfortable temperature with her ability. It's probably not surprising that she's frowning, but it doesn't seem to be directed at any one person. Occasionally she looks Scott's way, as she's not entirely sure what his darted eyes are for, but under her breath she murmurs, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me."

The large, imposing shadow that Eileen apparently acquired some time back seems content to stay quiet for now. It isn't that Raith doesn't have anything to say: He has plenty to say. There are, primarily, two reasons he's keeping quiet. The first is that he hasn't been asked a question. The second is that the gaggle he is sharing space with are not the Remnant. They are the Ferrymen, and as far as he's concerned, that means that he's not the one directing the meeting's minutes. That responsibility falls to Eileen: These are her people. He's only there to lend a hand if she needs one.

"It couldn't have been FRONTLINE that descended on you, if they used a gas the negates ability," Gillian offers quietly, probably one of the few people in the room not fuming, though she's rubbing the side of her head as if all the noise is giving her a headache. Getting out to this building at all had been difficult for her, and she'll likely need to hitch a ride with whoever else needs to make it back to Staten. "But I think you would have recognized them based on their suits, anyway."

Or she's drawing this conclusion based on the fact they didn't storm the Lighthouse with any when they came by not too long ago. It would have made perfect sense, considering who they'd expected to find, and who they did find…

Sitting up a bit, she lets her hand drop from the side of her head, to turn her eyes on Joseph, "That's a good question, though. If they were after the girl, or after us— how did they know where? I didn't even know where she was, but whoever they were, they seemed to."

"It's obvious, isn't it?" someone asks Joseph. "Dr. Harve Brennan — he's one of them. No coincidence that we started having all this trouble soon as we—"

"Harve's not a mole."

"The hell he isn't!"

The rapid fire back-and-forth escalates in volume again, then abruptly drops in volume a moment later when somebody's hand finds someone else's shoulder and words of quiet reassurance are hissed into an ear. It's a volatile environment, even more so than the trial held here had been, but they also had a common enemy in Emile Danko. Who that enemy is today isn't quite as clear.

"Harve Brennan attacked me when I told him not to leave." This from Tien, and he's looking directly at Melissa when he says it, his dark eyes cold and accusing. "Jonas will tell you. He took the girl and ran straight into the line of fire."

Like Bennet, Eileen remains silent. If she notices him watching her, she gives no outward indication; her attention shifts as the collective's focus does. A small, dark predator with a cat-green stare on the outskirts of a scattered herd, searching for weaknesses in their formation.

The mention of someone turning into smoke has Melissa going ramrod stiff and jerking around so she can see Jonas. "What did you say? He turned into smoke?" Her mouth opens to ask more questions, then her mouth snaps shut. Not the time, not the place. Keep it in mind for later. But she doesn't relax any after that. At least not anytime soon.

Mel looks towards Joseph. "Very good question. And now that I think about it…How'd they know about the Den as well?" She sighs. "I adore Liette on a regular basis, I really do. But both times that a safehouse was found in the last month, she was there. Couple possibilities as to why, I can think off. Could be they're tracking her. Maybe someone had a phone and they're working with Rebel. Maybe her sister can pinpoint her location via one of the abilities they picked up."

She leans back, glancing to Tien. "He did attack Tien. I can't deny that. He also did run down rather than up, but where else was he supposed to go? We had no way of knowing at the time that the people on the roof were our people. And a charge had already been set off. But if Brennan just wanted to get Liette for them, then he could've taken her to them at any point since I originally left her with him."

"But back to Liette herself…she's getting more dangerous, when Brennan isn't around. I don't even know how many abilities she has now, but without a negator around, there aren't many ways to get her under control. And the ways that are left to us won't exactly make her pleased to be under Ferry protection," she says, glancing towards Rourke.

"Liette wants to go back to the man she calls her father, Dr. Luis. She likes the experiments he puts her and her sister through. And it might be possible that Liette's sister is causing this weather because she misses her sister. So I won't lie…there are plenty of reasons to give the girl back to her 'father'. More, I'm all for giving people a choice when possible, and if she had her choice, she'd go home."

Her eyes close for a moment, a deep breath is taken. "I think it's for the best, for the Ferry and those we protect…hell, for New York, if we let her go home. As much as I hate to give someone over to be a lab rat, the pros outweigh the cons, especially since she wants to go." Those baby blues open and look through the crowd, before repeating, "I think it's time for her to go home."

Melissa may well be speaking the only words of wisdom here, but unfortunately for the freyed patience of the people involved, no one's listening to her.

"Brennan practically ran that girl down to those fuckers. He grabbed her and bolted in their direction the moment they showed up. He was at a press conference with the head of the Department of Evolved Affairs too. He's been a mole this whole damned time and we didn't even realize it." Jonas' voice is full of frustration and misplaced anger, pae face reddening when he makes the accusation against Brennan. "There's no way those guys in the biohazard suits would've gotten to us. The first day Brennan's there — bam — we get hit!"

Scott suddenly looks disquieted. Lowering his head down, he brings one hand up to cover his brow, a grumbling sound in the back of his throat only Helena can hear. For the first time in the years most of these people have been working with Harkness, he looks embarrassed, and frustratedly so.

"NBC suits! These are the guys Rebel warned us about!" A young girl, no older than fifteen shouts from the back of the room. "White suits with black masks! Rebel told us about them on his website months ago and nobody believed him! Rebel's been ahead of all of us!" Another dissenting voice rises up in the crowd.

"How do we know he isn't working for them? How'd he get information like that?"

"No way! Rebel's the truth, we should've listened to what he had to say! He was right about Summer Meadows, he was right about those gas mask guys!"

"He got lucky!"

"We should be listening to him right now!"

"Oh yeah, well where was Rebel last night when we needed him!?"

"Dude how do you know— "

"Enough!" That scream comes from the breaking of Noah Bennet's patience, and it's the first time in his tenure with the Ferrymen that the co-founder of the organization has ever publicly lost his temper. Stresses from Rebel's name being thrown about, the connection to Claire, and his own paternal instincts that drives every fiber to want to wring that digital sociopath's neck has finally pushed him over the edge. A catastrophic loss of Ferry holdings last night was simply the last straw.

"Three years we've been doing this." Noah rises up from his chair, hands lifting up and brows raised, light reflecting off of his glasses. "Three years we've been underground, figuratively and literally and in those three years we have had two disasters like this. Beach Street from Humanis First and now this. We've been lucky and we've gotten complacent. We've become so confident in our own ability to stay ahead of the opposition that we've lost sight of the fact that as an organization the lion's share of us are untested, untrained civilians."

Loafers scuffing on the concrete floor, Bennet looks around the room, brows furrowed and silence hanging after his words. "We screwed up. No matter if we were infiltrated by a mole, if it was a security leak, or if someone screwed up and brought a cell phone into a safehouse Wireless doesn't cover… the fault still lands on our shoulders for letting it happen. It was bound to, because we've become so large that we're having a hard time touching one end of our organization to the other. I've seen weeks go by before bulletins make the rounds through every safe house and to every operator."

Light glaring off of the lenses of his glasses, Bennet looks at Scott for a moment, then back to address the crowd. "Our old organizational ways aren't going to get us through the changes that are coming. If this— Rebel," and Noah couldn't say the name more bitterly, "was right about these people, then it means we can find out more about them too. If miss Pierce's words here are right, it seems like a lot of people in this network know things that the leadership should've been made aware of but wasn't. We have problems internally that we need to address… but as for Doctor Brennan…" Noah gives a look to Scott, and Harkness slowly rises from his chair.

"Doctor Brennan was a mole," Scott states flatly, but the assertion only allows so many shocked gasps before he adds, "for us. The Den safehouse was a cover operation, and I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner, Melissa." Scott levels dark eyes on the blonde at that. "We set up the Den as an intentional piece of meat on a string for the DoEA, to make them think we were playing ball. We never expected the five-ten virus to turn it into a plague house, we didn't expect the sweeps to come over Roosevelt Island. It was meant to be a placating piece of information, which is why we had Brennan co-leading it with you." Scott's brows furrow and head shakes slowly.

"Harve didn't sell us out, but that means I don't know who did." With that cat let noisily out of the bag, there's an awkward pall of silence over the meeting.

Joseph has his eyes set avidly on Scott throughout that explanation, gaze narrowed in disbelief. Awkward silence probably won't last long. It doesn't last long for him, and it won't last long for other's, either. "There's your internal problem, Bennet," the pastor rather snakily announces, pointing towards Harkness. "It's one thing to make a cover — it's another not to say a word to those involved and let it be a place the whole damn network relied on.

"My safehouse has been part of gettin' people in and out of the Den since it was turned into what it was for the plague — did you ever consider givin' a heads up when it stopped being just bait and started being a real safehouse? Christ, Harkness, you were there for that meeting! You did expect it to turn into a plague house because you there when it was made so."

Ugh, says Joseph's dismissing, waving gesture when he's done, breathing out a huff of an exasperated sigh.

We accepted a lot of people into the Den, out of the necessity that the illness has been causing." Helena interjects. "Some people we knew know better than others. So we might want to take a look at who came in that weren't familiar faces." It's the best she can suggest. "I don't think recriminations about how it was handled is going to do us much good at this point. Trying to figure out how the leak happened is."

For now, Raith continues to remain silent. However, it is plainly clear to anyone that bothers to look, even for a second, that the big man is rapidly losing his patience with, well, probably everybody around him. Especially Jonas and Joseph, so far the only two out of the entire crowd that have been on the receiving end of a thousand yard stare.

"Problem with focusing on who the leak is means we have a possible witch hunt on our hands," Gillian speaks up, rubbing at the side of her head again. "I don't think that'll do any good at all. Especially when it could have been any number of things. If these guys have Evolved working for them, maybe they have one who can take a pencil and draw a map to places they want to go— we don't know. They could have a precog who knew where she'd be before we knew she was going to be there." Yeah, paranoia is a fun game to play.

"But we can't change that it happened, but we have to figure out what we can do about it. What our options are now. And for the record?" She looks at Melissa specifically, "I am not for handing a kid over to anyone who would be experimenting on her. Whether she calls him daddy or not. I don't give a shit if that's what she thinks she wants. Children think they want a lot of things that aren't good or safe for them. And sometimes we have to make decisions for them."

A few months ago, she probably would have been on the other side of the argument, but now… Now she's tried to live with a house full of kids, who want to do things that they should not— and one of them got killed while off doing her own thing, so stubbornly sure that she would be fine, just cause she was immune to the weather.

"What's best for the girl aside," says a soft and sibilant voice from the back of the room, "let's try not to forget that by returning her to the Institute, we're giving them a valuable tool for their research which — as long as Liette stays in our custody — remains indefinitely stalled." Eileen steps away from the wall and into a thin sliver of light that cuts across her face and gathers in the single iris exposed to it. "Our lack of central organization is being addressed," she tells Noah. Then a gentle reminder: "It's also not what we're here to discuss.

"I have information straight from the Department of Homeland Security's public health department that details the acquisition of living biological assets from the ruins of Pinehearst as well a full list of experimental materials seized by the American military in Madagascar that includes the neurotoxin the Institute used against us. Return Liette to her father and you give them more power to continue what General Edmond Rasoul started."

The Englishwoman's words don't have much opportunity to settle, however. No sooner does she fall silent than another woman chime in, this one with a head of fiery red hair like Jonas', but that's where the resemblance ends. Some of the operatives in the room may recognize her as Susan Ball, a secretary for one of the local government offices. "We could offer the Institute a trade," she suggests. "Liette for our captured operatives. One life is worth more than ten."

"And ten are worth less than hundreds more."

"This coming from a member of the Vanguard?" Susan asks with a toothy smile. "I don't think you have any authority to talk about the worth of human life, Eileen. We've cooperated before with the government when we've had to. This isn't any different." Dark brown eyes find Gillian's hazel ones from across the room. "The only option we have is to give the girl back. Anyone who says differently doesn't have this organization's best interests at heart. Melissa's right."

Melissa rises slowly to her feet at that bombshell from Scott, and the look on her face is the one of a woman hanging onto control by a thread. And all that anger seems to be focused on one man alone. Scott. But her voice is quiet, strained, as though she's fighting not to start screaming. Or to not lose control of her ability twice in twenty-four hours. "Are you telling me…that I was moved from Georgia to here, for the sole purposes of running a fake safehouse? And you didn't even have the decency to let me know so I could plan accordingly? I had kids there, you bastard. One girl was three fucking years old."

Melissa shakes her head and moves away from the table to where her coat and stuff are stashed, and starts putting them on. "You said we've gotten too large? Well I've got good news for you. You're smaller one person, now." And she seems to mean it, because as soon as the coat is fumbled on over her good shoulder, she's starting for the exit. Apparently this is just not something she can forgive easily, if at all.

"Make the trade. I'm sicking of the fuckin' snow."

"Melissa." Noah starts, brows furrowed and tone the same he might take to Claire, a very don't you turn your back on me young lady reproachful father's voice. But when he catches the look from Scott and the slow shake of the soldier's head, Noah closes his eyes and brings a hand to his forehead, rolling his tongue on the inside of his cheek. There'll be time to talk to her later.

A bit heavy hearted, Noah breathes in deep and reaches down just as deep, pulling up the ropes of confidence as best as he can, though some of the wind has been taken out of his sail long before this meeting even started and that didn't help at all. "Helena and Gillian are right," Noah explains, taking his seat again, "I know from network assignments that the Armory was first scouted out as a viable location two months ago, and we started moving infrastructure in a week and a half ago. This means that we have a two month window to examine where information could have exchanged to the wrong hands, and that's a broad frame of time with a network as large as this. Too broad a frame of time when you add in powers into the mix to figure out without tearing ourselves apart to do it."

When Noah grows quiet, Scott steps back in to the conversation, shoulders squared and chin tilted up, regarding Eileen and her point made before nodding his head a few times slowly. "I don't think we can afford, on principals of how our organization even works, to overturn her to this— Institute?" One black brow lifts, the word heavy on his lips, "Not without compromising what we stand for. But the others have a point, the Institute's captured some of our own, and we have an obligation to them as well. We also have to consider that rumors in the network," he glances to Melissa's retreating form, then back across the room, "suggests that she might somehow be responsible for the storm. Brennan's not here, and as far as I know he was the only one who knew everything about what's going on with her…"

"We're at a critical impasse." Noah chimes in, hands folding between his knees and eyes scanning the faces of the Ferrymen in the crowd. "We're walking a slippery slope with how we handle the situation with this girl, how we handle interactions with this new threat to our operations. What we're discussing here today is going to have ramifications beyond just the next month or the next year." Looking up to Eileen, Noah adds, "There is not going to be any easy answer to pick. But if we don't come to a consensus, it'll be the death of us."

"Honey, wait— " comes from Joseph, far less commanding and a lot quieter than the leader-figure who barks her name — he can afford to be, sitting where he is when Melissa goes to make her exit. There is a hesitation where it seems like the pastor may just follow, but like Noah, he has the same idea — one hopes there'll be opportunity later. And he didn't storm out of the Danko trial, even when it looked like it might turn for the worst, and so Joseph stays put for this one — and offers no opinion for now, silent once more.

"Just a point - if they're wearing the right equipment - gas masks, appropriate suits, then yes, those could have been FRONTLINE." Helena says with a small wave of her hand. "If we think that girl might be the leak just unto herself, why don't we find out? Set up a dummy safehouse, install her, see what happens. Maybe nothing. Maybe something. But we track who's in and who's out, and that way we can at least narrow the field. As for the snow…McRae, Michelle, and I are working on that. We'll keep trying but it takes time. Liette might be able to answer some questions about what's going on with her sister if that's the case. I don't know." Helena shrugs a little haplessly.

"Hey, there, you hear that?" Raith calls out, starting to speak just slightly before Helena finishes. How rude. "Something sensible about what to do with the girl. Recognize that we have something they want, which is, to us, an asset, and use it to identify the source of the leak. Brilliant!" To further emphasize his cocky assholeishness, it may well seem, Raith even steps away from Eileen, beginning a slow stroll forward. "What had we heard before that? 'Obviously, the mole was the guy that's been hanging around her, even though we have no evidence to support that assertion.' 'We should turn her in, we can trust the government to abide by any agreement we make.' Who's been saying these things?

"People without a background in intelligence. People without experience dealing with governments, any government, in this kind of situation. People scared about what's happening that are looking for anything to pin their misfortunes on. You know who hasn't been saying these things?

"People who know what they're talking about." And Raith stops. Walking, that is. His mouth isn't finished yet. "So maybe just, maybe, instead of vomiting out whatever's in your brain and leading the charge with emotional responses, the thing to do is keep quiet, just for a little bit, and let the people who know what's what, let the professionals among you, get their heads together and figure out what we should do." Finishing up, Raith raises his hands up to shoulder height in an almost shrug, looking left and right as if to say, 'Eh? Eh?'

"Jensen's right," Gillian says, though that's probably pretty obvious, and if she disagreed she might fear a knife to the back. Her only experience with the government happened in Argentina, when she sold her services for her own freedom. It may or may not have turned out okay, but it showed her that people will use just about anything to get what they want.

"If these people have negation gasses as well as the person who is currently dropping a shit ton of snow on the entire north-east— and they aren't stuffing her in a room and pumping it full of negation gas? It means they want her to keep dropping a shit ton of snow on us. And who the fuck knows what they could do if they have this Liette as well. Yeah, the Ferry network has been hurt, but if no one in the Ferry is willing to deal with it anymore, then I will. The Lighthouse isn't Ferry, and— it's already been put through hell a thousand times over." Brian will just have to kick her later, but— "I can dye her hair and stuff her inside with a bunch of kids near her own age." A bunch of kids with abilities. And a new HomeSec watch dog, that will hopefully go away eventually— but hopefully a hair dye job will make her blend in among the kids and teen helpers.

"And maybe she can help Helena and the others figure out how to fix the snow without giving into them."

"Think about all the people who are relying on you," Eileen says as Melissa passes her on her way toward the door, but her voice is low enough that only Raith beside her and the blonde the words are meant for will hear it, "and whether or not one poor decision on Harkness' part is worth walking out on them. What happens to those children without you?"

Susan rises from her chair in one smooth motion, tall and willowy. "Let's put it to vote," she bubbles. "We can either offer Liette as a trade for our operatives, or we can do as Helena and Gillian suggest and move her into either the Lighthouse or a dummy safehouse for safekeeping until the Institute blows down the door and ruthlessly slaughters everyone inside." Another smile filled with pearly shark teeth. "Everyone in favour of the former, please raise your hands now."

Melissa has to hear Noah and Joseph. But she doesn't stop. She doesn't stop or speak, or even give a one-fingered salute. Nothing to acknowledge either man. But if there are any empaths in the crowd, they can certainly feel the waves of anger radiating off of her. However, Gillian's words do earn a shake of her head, but still she doesn't stop. She has one goal, and one goal alone right now. Reaching that exit before she is unable to keep her temper reigned in any longer. She may hate what Scott did, but that doesn't mean everyone deserves to feel her wrath.

And then Eileen speaks. She whirls around on the woman, ignoring the vote for the moment. "The only children who rely on me are Kendall and Liette. Kendall's living with me, and I just told you guys to give Liette back for the good of the fucking city, and you want to talk to me about people relying on me? No one else relies on me since my fucking fake safehouse got raided for some stupid fucking plan on Harkness's. My only place in this organization now is as someone to interrogate about someone else's fuckups. I came here to run a safehouse. Not to be bait in anyone's schemes," she half yells, half snarls.

As she 'talks' to Eileen the fragile hold she had on her ability snaps, and everyone close enough will no doubt hate Melissa, at least until she leaves or gets control of herself enough to make the intense headaches stop. And part of her must realize this, before she turns back towards the door, hurrying out. Luckily, it doesn't take too long before she's out of range, and the pain fades.

She's quiet a short time longer, until the pain has faded with Melissa's departure, perhaps making a personal note to speak with her later in quieter environs. Fingers of one hand still rub Cat's temple as she speaks. "That seemed more a sarcastic call to vote than a serious one," she begins. "But I do not advocate handing anyone over to a cabal of mad scientists. There are other ways to retrieve our taken operatives. When we speak of risks, consider also whatever they might be working on there, and what the consequences of achieving their goals might be."

"You're late," Noah states over his shoulder toCat in the frustrated tone that seems to have become his norm for this meeting, but the undercurrent that Cat has come to know from him over the years recognizes it as something more subtly jabbing; you're late, but I'm glad you made it. Not that he'd ever admit that aloud."

Offering a look up to Eileen, Noah slouches back into his chair and folds his hands in his lap. "Eileen," there's a lift of one of his brows, "you organized this meeting, it's your call to make." And the tone of Bennet's voice implies that he might break the arm — for the greater good — of anyone who raises their hand out of turn.

There's a certain look in Bennet's eyes when he considers Eileen, and the look that he offers her is one to imply you asked for this, and it's with that nervous trepidation that he lays the course of the meeting in her lap and on her shoulders, while Scott is rising up from his seat, passing by Noah. The old soldier stops at Noah's side and lays a hand on his shoulder, giving it a squeeze before leaning in and whispering in to Noah's ear, then looks up after where Melissa ran off to. Noah shakes his head, wordlessly, and Scott stays put, for now at any rate.

Joseph is not raising his hand when Susan invites them to. Heck no. His expression is like thunder at her words, and he speaks up. "Vote or no vote, I'm not votin' to bargain away the lives of the people we try to protect for the lives of people who knowingly put themselves in danger. Liette is not the biggest risk we have or are gonna get. If you think she is and that she can be bartered off for whatever cost," and now he's standing, picking up his coat, and slinging it on and over his shoulders, "then you may as well walk like Pierce."

Rather than leave yet, he just seems to be getting ready to go, settling the collar of his jacket as he sends a quick glance to in Raith and Eileen's direction, before scouting out the crowd as if looking for someone. He doesn't seem to find them, however. He seeks out horned rimmed glasses instead.

"You were pretty quick to call for a one night vote when we were talking over what to do with Emile Danko, Bennet," Joseph points out with a certain steel in his voice, once he's settled his hands in his pockets. "I don't see why we can't — people knew to come here about Liette if they had an opinion."

"Wait," says Helena in almost angry expasperation. "Regardless of what's decided, we shouldn't use the Lighthouse for something like that. If we did do it, it would need to be a seperate locale that we've set up knowing we can afford to lose it. Look, if she's not the source of this, then the new location would be doing its job anyway, and if it's not…" she shrugs. "Then it's a mouse trap that never has to go off and can still fulfill its superficial purpose. I don't think we should trade her and I don't think doing so will get us what we wanted even if we were to consider it."

"Focus, people," Raith barks, in a way issuing an order for everyone to be quiet, "Before we do anything about anyone, there is still the issue immediately in front of us." The ex-spy looks to the present leadership- not Noah Bennett, but the present leadership in his mind, Eileen Spurling. "What's it going to be?" As far as Raith is concerned, she is in charge of what happens this night, and not anybody else.

When Gillian's hand goes toward her head, she's thinking it's the same headache that she's had all night rearing it's ugly head again. Lucky for everyone Evolved in the room, she doesn't loose the control of her ability. No one would want that right now. It does start to fade again, though, which lets her lower her hand again and speak up, specifically to the crazy bitch who called for a vote. "I'm not offering the Lighthouse cause I think they'll storm in and take the kids, I'm offering it cause they already had plenty of chances. In fact, they just had FRONTLINE in the place. They didn't see half the kids, and as long as she blends in, she might be okay— but I was only fucking offering it cause it sounded like no one else was going to. A smaller, less known safehouse would probably be best, but I do think being with kids her own age might make her miss home a little less. And if she can do what 'miss storming out' implied— I actually do have some experience with that." Having dozens of abilities… "But like Joseph, I'm definitely against handing over a girl who would be experimented on, when it's exactly the kind of thing we're supposed to be doing— protecting those who need protecting."

Eileen looks between Susan and her entourage of supporters, and Joseph and the women at the card table. Raith's presence doesn't require a glance, but instead a hand at the small of his back, an implicit command to stand down. On the crate beside Tien, Chelle holds the toddler just a little bit closer to her breast and squeezes his doll-sized hand with the tips of her fingers while making reassuring noises under her breath. Later, the Englishwoman is going to have a very terse discussion with Bennet — not about him putting her on the spot, but in regards to the difficult decision he's just forced her to make.

No matter what she says, she's going to leave this room with more enemies than she walked in with. All she can do at this point is attempt to minimize that number while struggling to stave off the pain in her temples, courtesy of Ms. Pierce.

The two words that leave her mouth first are ones that those who know her from Danko's trial never expected to hear her say. "Sumter's right. Everyone who has spoken their mind this afternoon did so with the expectation that the issue would be voted on at the conclusion of this meeting. I don't believe that we have anything to gain by turning Liette over to the Institute. Even if we did propose a trade, we lack the firepower to enforce it. Not only would we lose Liette, we risk losing whoever we send with her as an ambassador for our organization.

"Noah, if you're putting the power to make a decision this large in my hands, then you must respect my judgment enough not to argue with me when I choose to share it with the other people in this room who have all worked as hard as you and I have to care for those under our protection."

She lowers the hand at Raith's back. Momentarily. "All in favour of keeping Liette in Ferry custody, please raise your hands now."

There's no raised hand from the pain manipulator. No more pauses, or words, no gestures or glances back. She just keeps going, right up until she hits the icy world above.

Her eyes rest on Noah briefly with his commentary, offering the man a tilt of her head as if to ask who, what, me late? "Did you think I forgot, Mr. Bennet?" Cat asks deadpan, whether or not she was actually here. Silence, then, as eyes move to Helena, Joseph, Gillian, and Eileen in turn. The moment doesn't call for speech.

It calls for the simple action of Cat's hand raising.

There's a tense look between Noah and Scott, one that implies something other than just simple conversationalism and their assessing of Eileen is a scrutinizing one. They aren't the first to raise their hands, and it might seem odd for Andy Rourke — a man who had to pistol whip Liette into submission — to raise his hand, but that's exactly what he does. There's a look of begrudging uncertainty on his face as he does, but at the very least he can't back down on his principals.

Neither can Scott and Noah, ultimately. The Ferry was founded to protect everyone, and that is what urges Scott and Noah's hands both into the air. Jonas, notably, is keeping his hand down, brows furrowed and head tilted forward, the only thing he raises is himself, up from his seat and over to where Yuan Tien is seated, settlign a hand on the old man's shoulder before looking around the room at the other hands slowly rising up.

"She doesn't even want to be here," Jonas speaks up over the vote, voice cracking a little. "What are we going to do if she wants to leave? Handcuff her to a fucking radiator and keep her prisoner? She doesn't give a shit about us, she would've blown the whole goddamned Garden up last night if Andy hadn't pistol-whipped her!"

"Jonas." How many times tonight has Noah had to reprimand someone no less than half his age. Somehow though Jonas doesn't shrink back beneath Noah's biting comment, and the redhead just shakes his head and tosses both his hands up in frustration before stepping away from Yuan Tien and backing from the meeting space.

Joseph raises his hand, with a sick kind of lurching feeling that goes with it. Being certain shouldn't be this hard, and though he measures his conviction with a simple wave of a hand, the compulsion to yank it back down before it can be counted is as tempting as drawing a hand off piping hot iron. He does not. He waits the measure of time needed before, without a word to even those familiar here, Pastor Sumter goes to take his leave of the meeting as the echoes of Jonas' protests bounce off the ceiling of the concourse.

Unlike some of the others, Raith's hand goes into the air automatically, confidently, and certainly, even if he is not, in fact, a part of the Ferrymen proper. How many times has he saved one or more of their operatives from capture or death? That's close enough for him, and it should be close enough for any of them. Unlike everyone else, however, Raith's raised hand also goes up aggressively, balled into a fist. For voting purposes, exactly equal to everyone else. But even compared to those who raised their hands up most confidently, Raith has undoubtedly made the strongest, most forceful statement.

Eileen's hand lifts straightaway. "Look. Either we're protecting her, or we're using her, but either way, having her with us is better than turning her over to them. And Phoenix, for its part, has seen what happens when you try to negotiate a prisoner exchange. Someone always pays a price. We can learn more if we keep her. We give her up, we lose a lot of opportunity." Man. That's kinda cold, for Helena.

The only hesitation Gillian shows is due to the headache that still throbs in her skull. The noise, the stress, all of it. But her hand still goes up, sleeve falling away a bit to reveal a tattoo on her inner wrist of a yin-yang like design. If anyone was surprised by her vote, they must be deaf, cause she's been very vocal since even before voting began. Her eyes follow Joseph as he takes his leave, frowning a bit, before looking back and leaving her hand up, though this time she remains quiet. Hands speak loud enough, right now.

A count isn't necessary. More than two thirds of the arms in the room go up when Eileen asks for a show of those in favour of retaining Liette, including Tien and Chelle's. The number of arms in the air that go up to support Susan's suggestion is considerably smaller, but those seated around her who do raise their hands all possess the same resolute look. Let there be no mistake: everyone who votes does so with the organization's best interests at heart, even if they're in disagreement with the majority.

"Liette stays," Eileen announces as she watches Joseph's departing back. "We move her out of the Garden and into temporary housing with minimal staff tonight in case the Institute has a method of tracking her that we aren't aware of. Until leadership can determine where the safest place is for her over the long-term, she'll receive doses of negation drugs to temporarily counteract her ability in accordance with Chesterfield's previous recommendations.

"Meeting adjourned."

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