The Next Day
Summary: Norton's mouth runs away from him in his dealings with the general.
Cast: Ace Jeff Ryan Norton
Air Date: 2006.26.10

Meeting Room <Hancock Station>

This executive room is carpeted in a utilitarian midnight blue weave, with a large, round table in the middle of the room. In a hole in the center of the table sits a miniature holographic imager. A viewscreen adorns one wall, and a rewritable board adorns the opposite wall. A port-style door leads to the Command Deck.

Jeff Ryan is sitting on the chair, he's still in his Founder's robes and he looks as though he hasn't slept, or moved much since last night. His PDA is out in front of him and his eyes have those red rings around them as he surveys whatever he's reading.

Norton enters, looking and smelling like he's been doing some smoking and PT. He considers the seated Founder/General and opts for saluting and saying, "Sir."

Jeff Ryan returns the salute and gestures for Norton to take a seat, "Out of everyone who spoke up earlier, you made the best points."

Norton takes a seat without comment. His expression is a combination of bland and expectant as he regards the general.

"I need to start finding solutions," says the lunite. "I can't find them alone, and now that I look around I realise I have an incompetent and almost non-existent command staff to help me out in this. For the sake of this conversation, rank isn't an issue. I'm willing to accept good ideas wherever they come from." Norton just grins. "Kind of late in the game, sir, to come back from a negative billion deficit and end it smelling like roses."

"I'll settle for smelling like slightly stale water," chuckles Ryan humorlessly. "Bringing Tay back into line shouldn't be too much of a problem. Convincing Greenville to up their patrols shouldn't be too much of a problem either. We need to increase morale though. Ideas?"

"Win," says Norton. "Morale ain't a problem. It's an easy fix, sir. It's looking like we're winning that's the problem."

"Then let's have a victory," nods Ryan. "We need intelligence first. I did some scouting myself a couple of days ago when I was looking for my people. I have one confirmed factory, but I don't want to jump on it just yet. We should probably start observing who's coming and going and where they're going to. My contact is also looking for recruits to jump ship. We know who one of those is."

"You might, sir. I don't," says Norton. "The problem is that we know our organization is suspect, so any information we gain could be false. For all we know, your contact is leading you down the primrose path."

"A risk I'll have to take, but no..." Jeff shows him the PDA, "I saw the hovertrucks and the men posing as militia. They're not ours."

"True, sir, but that doesn't mean that's not something they wanted you to see," says Norton with a shrug.

"We keep thinking like that," says Jeff. "And we've already lost. So far it's all we have to go on. I know he's arranging to insert some of our men into PANL. We're going to have to assume he's legit."

Norton just grins. "You might have to assume he's legit, sir, but I don't have to, but we can go in circles with this all day. It's not the point. The point is how do we win, and we can't win until we know what is going on, and I don't know what is going on. You might, but I don't."

"What's going on is PANL are kicking our asses," mutters Jeff. "They're winning the PR war, we've still got nothing on them except for a few intel leaks. And if we make the first move on them we're going to be the ones looking like the aggressors."

Norton keeps right on grinning. "Pretty much, sir, and they'll twist any kills we get into innocent civilians going about their daily lives. Any footage we get to the contrary will be said to be doctored, and to make things better there probably will be real noncombatant casaulties if we go in hot because that's just the way these things work. They're probably got kids attending class in their armory, and they've probably got a hospital for their command center."

Jeff Ryan rubs his eyes, "Well, this /is/ going to be a dirty fight."

"If you're fighting a clean one, you're doing something wrong, sir," says Norton with his grin firmly fixed in place. Jeff Ryan sighs, "Let's concentrate on our immediate goals shall we. I want intelligence. I want that factory observed. And if possible I want to know who's volunteering to go over to the PANL as agents for our team." A slight pause, "And most of all I want my people back."

"Not my department, out of my league, and probably won't happen," says Norton as he grins and sits in a chair.

"Anything else to offer?" asks Jeff.

The door opens and Ace is escorted into the meeting room, a polite nod of thanks to the guard who brought her here before she turns to face those within. "Dobry utra, General," she says, adding another nod for Norton.

Norton nods to Ace as he takes a pack of smokes out of the waistband of his shorts. With a grin that's just getting wider, he asks,"Mind if I smoke, sir and ma'am?"

Jeff Ryan nods at Ace before gesturing for her to take a seat, "I can assume this is a business call, we've never had any personal visits that I can recall." He nods at Norton, "Only if you don't offer me one." He glances at a glass of water and puts it between them, a makeshift ashtray.

Ace gives a dismissive wave of her hand, "Your lungs, da? And da, is business. Have been working with Tay and Lucius to find Katriel and Brandon," she offers as a summary as she takes a seat.

It should be noted the lunite is partially in his Watcher attire, the robe is on the back of his chair, the leather armour is unzipped somewhat and the appearance and smell of the room hints that Ryan's been here a LONG time. The red around his eyes more than hint that he's not slept in a while either. "I've been investigating myself. And I've managed to get some intel on those PANL bastards. They're not going to keep her one second longer than they have to. I assure you, I've got us all working on it."

Norton takes his sweet time in lighting the cigarette before he says, "You make it my department, you put it in my league, and if it can happen it will, but like I said we're not going to take this from a billion foot hole in the mud and come out smelling like roses, but I can guarantee that I can fix this problem better than Captain Grapenut, Sergeant Martian, and probably the independent contractor here since I'll have the resources of what's left of the militia. To top off the deal with a cherry, I'll even give it all back in a month or after I make PANL look like the merry band of militant maniacs they are and leave them without a power base or a hope and dream of reforming into anything more significant than a few scattered whackjobs who hide in the basements of their parents' houses."

Ace raises an eyebrow at Norton, "Considering you do not know me or my business or my resources, I find that an interesting boast." She turns her attention to Jeff, then, "Have narrowed down where they are and have several leads we are following up on. The fact that your own soldiers are betraying you may actually come in handy. Bremont has joined them and we might be able to track their location through her. In the meantime, they have Katriel under a psi-blocker. She will not be able to handle that for much longer and they have been mistreating Brandon. Need to move soon before it is too late."

"Getting Katriel back," says Jeff solemnly. "Is my number one priority. She came after me once when nobody else gave a damn, she was the only one who really tried." He glances at Norton, "Perhaps the Captain here can help us at least with the short term goal. You have all the resources I can place at your disposal and you answer directly to me when considering the strategic planning of taking care of this long term." He casts his eye over both of them. "How far have you narrowed it down. My own source has it pegged to 'an island that's beauty hides it's dangers'." He grumbles, "I bloody hate riddles."

Norton just grins as he takes a drag from his cancer stick. "No deal, sir. I'll go back to being a sergeant and sorting paper clips. I don't play well with others. It was nice seeing the big scheme again things for a few minutes. Kind of validates my opinions of leaving it in the first place." With that, he gets up and tosses a military style salute to the general and a more casual one with his left hand to the kapitan before he turns to leave.

Ace simply gives a sad shake of her head as she watches Norton head for the door, "Cooperation is the best method to free those being held. Do not let your ego get in the way of that goal."

The Brigadier looks tired as he watches Norton leave, "For a minute there I thought I had someone who could maybe help me get the militia out this mess." He then focusses again on Ace, "Well I'm willing to co-operate. Problem is no-one seems to be willing. What've you got?"

"Your goal, hero," says Norton as he continues his exit. "My goal wasn't the individual. It was the group. Life sucks. Then, you die. The group, typically, goes on."

Quartermaster <Hancock Station>

Set up in a small cavern in the tough rock of the asteroid, the majority of the Quartermaster's office consists of dozens upon dozens of locked cabinets set up in four rows. Near the front is a fancy wooden desk with a computer atop it, and two monitors. One seems to be a feedback terminal of some sort, giving a ticker-tape tally of various key supplies. The other is a large computer monitor for accessing the logs of what is on the Station and what needs to be. A securely locked metal door leads out to the Residence Deck.

Norton is seated at the desk, smoking a cigarette. He's still wearing the tanktop and shorts.

Ace steps in, nodding to Norton as she enters, "Was told I might find you here."

"All right," says Norton.

"Will be blunt," Ace says simply, looking over at the man through her dark mirrored glasses, "I want to find my friends alive. One of them is my crew. You are working on the same problem and we can be of help to one another."

Norton returns the look with a bland expression. He says, "No, you're working on your friends' problems. I'm sorting paper clips by color and size."

"From what little I heard as I stepped into that room," Ace says softly, "You and I both know that you are doing far more than that."

"Could of, would have, won't," says Norton with a grin.

"Because I am involved?" Ace asks, cocking her head a bit.

Norton just grins. "I don't know you, like you said. It's nothing to take personal."

"Think of me as visiting from another system's military," Ace says with a small shrug, "Cooperating on a mutual investigation."

"It's not mutual. It's personal with goals that might be mutually exclusive," says Norton as he knocks some ash off his cancer stick into the ash tray on his desk. "You're in it for friendship. I'm in it because it's my job to serve NL, right or wrong, and going after your friends is neither."

"Retrieving Katriel," Ace says, "That is Ryan's first goal in this operation. There our paths do cross since I am here to retrieve my crewman as well. This does not mean we cannot work together and it would help both our causes if we did."

"Ryan's personal goals don't matter to me," says Norton without change in his expression. "Katriel has got spit and kittens to do with PANL or their operations on the planet. My mission might kill your people, and your mission might screw mine. I'm not getting a mission. You are. Have fun, roll with it, and remember to smile more."

"Keep in mind should our paths cross again," Ace says quietly, "That we are on the same side regardless of whether or not our particular goals interfere with one another. As to smiling...I will smile when my friends and crew are safely home."

Norton just grins some more. "I'm on the path to sorting paper clips by color and type. I don't have an ego despite how things look. Your getting your mission and me not getting mine doesn't hurt my feelings any. Life sucks. Then, I die. I don't have any hard feelings. It was inevitable."

"Well, then, I wish you luck in your sorting," Ace replies, turning to go.

Norton sticks his cigarette back in the corner of his mouth and continues to grin.

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