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Money and Lives
Somewhere above DV, bound for Dubai

Jacques sat in what amounted to his own private jet, going over pages upon pages of legal rigmarole and red tape. His various contracts in DV had turned into a nightmare of red-tape with the increasing violence in the region and the CCD's crackdowns on travel and movement through and into the region. Unsurprisingly, they had some qualms over letting a few hundred heavily armed private security employees into the region, especially since most were identified as Muslims.

The meetings in Jerusalem had gone well enough really; even in light of the growing tension, the companies whom had sought to hire him had still been eager to finalize their ends of the paperwork. They had even agreed to the increased costs of their contracts, in light of the current risks. Légion Première came with a very well earned reputation, and they were willing to fork out the cash for it to be in their service.

He set the stack of papers aside and glanced out the window, squinting against the bright light of the sun, unfiltered by cloud at this altitude and barely held in check by the tinting of his window.

A second stack awaited his attention; Sierra Leone. He had a few hundred men on the ground there, and it too was falling apart from the inside out. He'd already received reports from his field officers of the outbreaks of violence. A few had even already begun setting up refugee camps within the fences of the mines and plants they were contracted to protect. Not the most hospitable places for civilians to live, even temporarily, but it was better then being on the receiving end of a machete because of your last name. He was already planning to deploy the rest of his men in the Casablanca barracks to the region; contracts there had been much easier to ratify with the foreign companies. They stood to loose billions of dollars in infrastructure and profits should the situation spiral any further out of control, and Jacques was more then willing to take their money to save lives.

His mind wandered for a moment, staring at the distant earth through the thin wisps of cloud the desert heat allowed to form even at this altitude. Roads and villages doted the landscape far below a midst vast swaths of open dead earth. Dead from the air, at least. There was no abundance of life below, but it was there, hidden among the rocks and scrub brush. And people, of course.

It was a strange life they lived; ruled by religion and fear, barely eking out a living by the standards of most of the CCD, although that seemed mostly brought upon themselves by themselves. He couldn't fault them for clinging to tradition of course; who was he to look down upon such loyalty? Légion Première was but a shadow of it's origins, but they clung to their traditions no matter that they were forsworn by their homeland and birthplace.

His Wallet chimed to life suddenly, and he returned to the moment to see what it had to offer.

It was bad news.

DV was aflame with insurrection and murder on all fronts. It was happening far too quickly for the CCD forces to respond. Terrifyingly efficient and coordinated, with huge swaths of religious extremists popping up armed and ready throughout the region.

Over the next two hours, based off civilian news reports, he was already beginning to piece together an understanding of the situation on the ground. When word that Dubai was teetering on the edge, Jacques gave the signal to change their destination.

It was back home to Casablanca for him and his. He would have to cancel the contracts, or at least put them on hold. There was no chance the CCD would allow him to put his men on the ground in their territory in the current political atmosphere.
His pilots had hardly finished their course correction and gained clearance to enter Egyptian airspace, less than an hour's fight from the point of their turn, when Jacques' Wallet chimed to life again. Another priority message, routed from the home office in Casablanca.

"Danjou. Send."

"Sar. Custody of Defense on the line."
Commandant Tuff, a man of British origins and no shortage of experience in the CCD military, served as the officer of command of the headquarters when the CEO was away. He had the right and power to negotiate contracts and make bids when opportunities presented themselves. If he were contacting Jacques directly with something, then it was important. This was not something as simple as cancelling their clearance to DV and the greater CCD.

"Commandant. Put them through."

A moment later and Jacques was presented with a view of a board of Generals and their staff, all grim faced and some few too distracted to actually pay Jacques any mind. "Mr Danjou. We understand you have a standing force ready to deploy to the DV region."

Jacques' mind raced, and quickly came to the conclusion of what they were going to ask. Was the CCD caught so off guard they would turn to private security elements as a stop gap? It made sense. Mercenaries were readily available, not bound to Rules of Engagement, and most importantly, they were expendable. "That is correct, Sir. My men were in the final stages of preparation to redeploy to Jerusalem."

The Generals nodded, one eagerly, at the news. It was what they wanted to hear. "We also understand that many of your contracts in DV are already cancelled."

Jacques nodded again. "That is correct, Sir."

"We want to hire your men. We have VIPs and soldiers trapped at King Abdulaziz..."

"Airport. Yes. In Jeddah. 80km west of Mecca. Site of a CCD logistical base. Major port. I am aware of it."
Jacques began bringing up screens from his Wallet, out of sight of the CoD staff. They seemed...surprised, at his situational awareness.

"Exactly. As well as Um Salama Hospital..."

"That is the one south of the airport, correct? 6km, give or take."

Again they were surprised, but once more they carried on as if nothing were amiss. "Yes. Exactly. We wish to hire your men to assist in the evacuation of CCD soldiers and VIPs from both the airport and hospital."

"And civilians, of course."

They blanched and jaws clenched in irritation; Jacques was, apparently, running circles around them. "Yes. And civilians. Of course."

"$500,000,000. Plus tax breaks, which can be negotiated in exact detail when we both have more time to dally over numbers. And I will need access to live data-feed from satellites, drones, and aircraft you have in the area. Comms channels with your forces on the ground."
He began forwarding a barrage of information both to the CoD and to Commandant Tuffs. There was a lot of work to be done, and little time to do it in.

The Generals seemed nonplussed with his demands, "We cannot give a civilian, an AFRICAN civilian, access to our satellites."

"Fine. You will give it to one of your men on the ground. And he will give it to me. And watch."

They seemed confused by that logic, "And how exactly are one of our men going to watch you if you are in your jet?"

"I will be on the tarmac. Your man will meet me the moment I land. The longer you delay my access to that information, the more people that will die."

The gathered Generals' focus shifted away from Jacques to another screen he could not see. Something, or more likely some one, made the concession and the Generals paled but quickly agreed to the terms. "We will have someone meet you on the tarmac. When can you be on the ground?"

"Five hours. I will inform you of the concept of operations shortly."

The Generals sputtered again at being so calmly dismissed by Jacques, but a moment later and the feed was cut and he was delivered with confirmation of the funds transfer, as well as given contacts with various departments with which he would need to work.

It was amazing how smoothly the CCD could operate when the Ascendancy himself was looking over his people's shoulders.
Northbrook Estate, Switzerland
NPC: Eleanor Northbrook

In the soft lighting of her study, the half dozen holo-screens flashed a steady neon glow in arrangement above the desk. The Scroll filtered news articles pertinent to Eleanor's interests, an endless and comprehensive streaming of world situations, each coordinated to different screens, colours and alert sounds. Of late it had only been peppered with coverage of the Ascendancy's visit to DV, until but a few hours ago when rather more alarming news had broken. Now it dominated, flashing urgent red for breaking news that was quickly kindling and spreading like wildfire across the different channels, until the room glowed scarlet. Naturally she'd already spoken with various colleagues and peers, coordinating a response to the crisis. She was already shaping a press release.

The task stilled her mind to oblivion. Except that she was cold.

Winter seeped through the window seals, brushing shivers against her skin as she worked. Snow clumped on the frame, and bumped gentle drifts against the glass. She'd never minded the drafts and she'd never fixed them, perhaps because they reminded her in some small part how heedlessly she lost herself to work. It was an old house anyway; distinctly and proudly baroque in design, too pristine to bother with too much modernity. It had been Alistair's choice, of course, but it had never crossed her mind to sell it. They had been coming here each Christmas since the girls' infancy, and it was only in recent times that ritual had subsided. Her children were grown, and her husband. Well.

She finally stood to pull across the heavy drapes, pausing to instruct the heating to simmer up a notch.

Which was when she heard it, humming low because she'd flicked down the volume after DVs alerts had started coming thick and fast. A few discordant piano keys, happy and imperfect memories of her middle child's earliest years, but it filled her with cool dread now. For a moment hesitant fear held her in stasis, her fingers still wrapped in the damask fabric. A steeling of her features joined a level intake of breath, though there was no one to see, and she returned to the desk.

Without a blink Eleanor swiped DV away, and the room's glow returned to neutral. She'd set the alert for specific keywords, and she prepared herself as the Scroll realigned. A winking light in the corner of her eye questioned if she was done with the draft of her statement, but she ignored it. The new text inked a reflection on her solemn features. There wasn't much, not yet. But enough, certainly. Sierra Leone had been building its tensions for years; Eleanor had only hoped for it to withhold eruption until her daughter was safely home.

A few deft flicks of her finger, and a call was put through to London.

He was always caustically distant, her father - at least on appearances, and she supposed it was where she got it from. Edward didn't raise his eyes from whatever captivated them off screen - a book, she presumed, by the movement beneath lowered lids. She'd interrupted the brevity of time he actually had for leisure, but she felt little remorse.

"You should never have let her go."

He did look up then, sharpness to his gaze.

He didn't speak, of course. She hadn't expected him to. So she did. "The rebels have finally taken a stand."
And they both knew the CCD's implications. Despite her politician father, and despite her talent for public relations, Eleanor had never been interested in the private wars of politics. Her strength of vision had always been far-reaching, and sometimes the important things were lost in the vastness - like the attention she should have paid to three young children - but her talent for impartial compassion had helped sculpt her father's image, and still helmed the Northbrook name. The recklessness that armed her now would take a dent out of years of hard work, but that was why she'd called him first. "I want you to get her out of there."

He held a staunch silence for a few moments, face grim; calculating their options. The answer was writ in every hard line of his face, and she nodded. "Then it must be done privately. And quickly."


She'd first come across Samantha Brown some years ago; a brash American Eleanor hadn't liked overly much, though her dedication to the Red Cross was both admirable and startling in its tenacity. They'd met in fact at a function heralding the charity's most auspicious heroes, televised in order to garner additional funds for the relevant causes of the day, those exact details forgotten. Eleanor only remembered the night at all, one of many such events she regularly attended, for two reasons.

Firstly, because it had been one of the rarest occasions; when all three of her girls had consented to attend at their mother's side, strong-arming themselves in the wake of Alistair's betrayal.

And secondly, because of Samantha's tale of Nigeria. It might be misplaced ill judgement, but she had never forgiven the woman for the seeds she had planted in Natalie's head; her daughter had packed her bags not long after, despite Eleanor's reservations. So perhaps it would be a dry note of irony if that very same story armed her with the knowledge to protect her daughter.

She scrolled the contacts on screen until she found the one she sought. Her finger didn't hesitate before connecting the call.
Jacques had his work cut out for him. Conference calls with Moroccan authorities, all back door/old boys club type calls to Generals and politicians, those rare few that shared a common vision with the Legion. The gears were already turning; acquisition requests writ and filed, quarter-masters and supply techs probably in a white-knuckled rage to receive sudden, confusing orders to load equipment and ammunition onto trucks with no confirmed destination on their work tickets.

That destination was Mohammed V International Airport, where 250 Legionnaires were now scrambling to unload a plane that had been bound for a peaceful landing in Jerusalem.

Maps of Jeddah, pictures of the airport, flight itineraries, supply requests, status reports, even live-streaming news, all hovered in the air around him. Other members of his personal staff worked diligently in the background, going over contact reports and sit-reps from the Legionnaires on the ground in Sierra Leone, allowing Jacques to focus on the immediate task at hand.

He frowned when a pop-up appeared amidst the myriad of holographic projections; 'Incoming Call. Private Number.'

He drummed his fingers on the simple desk at his fore, eyeing the message for a moment before quickly sweeping his hand through the air, collecting all the various screens to one side; close enough that he could keep an eye on them, while not distracting from whomever had his number.

He took a breath, then sat back in his chair, suddenly looking calm and took up a cup of coffee as he tapped the image, accepting the call. "Good evening. This is Jacques Danjou, CEO of Légion Première."
It was very unusual that anyone phoned him directly; there weren't many who had this number after all. A handful of friends, and of course the senior staff of the Legion, but they had more official means of getting ahold of him.

The face that met him was quite familiar to him. Not that they had ever crossed paths, but it served to know the sorts of people one was likely to cross paths with in his line of work. After all, he, and the former CEO of the Legion, had worked closely with the Red Cross in the past. "Ah, Mademoiselle Northbrook. This is a dark night. What may the Legion do for the Cross?"

A few deft gestures of his hand out of her view began to pop up screens of information about herself and any Red Cross operations in both Sierra Leone and DV. It always served to look like he knew what was going on, after all.
Eleanor's lips lifted in genial greeting as Jacques Danjou's face appeared on screen. She did not blink at his recognition; in fact, given who she was, she rather expected it. If he had been ignorant it would not have inspired confidence. "Plenty I'm sure, Mister Danjou. It is a dark night indeed."
He was younger than she had expected, and for a few seconds it drew her scrutiny. She may not like the American Samatha Brown over much, but she did trust her; besides which the facts spoke for themselves. Legion Premiere might be a veritable unknown within the CCD, but in Africa they had garnered quite the reputation.

"But I am not calling on behalf of the Red Cross. It is a private matter"
She placed a soft emphasis on 'private.' Jacques Danjou was a business man, and his sort did not get to such lofty places if they did not learn discretion. There was no threat or demand to her tone, of course; it only served to provide the man with context, and she trusted he could read between the lines. She had a reputation to preserve; one that could not be seen as throwing fortunes to protect a daughter while thousands of innocents burned. Natalie had chosen to work for the Red Cross. She had chosen to place herself in the danger of a tumultuous country.

Other than that subtlty she was forthright. Polite, professional, amiable; all the qualities one could expect of Eleanor Northbrook, but without pretension. She meant business.

"You are up to speed regarding the situation in Sierra Leone, I take it. Rather overshadowed by the terrible news in DV."
In fact, were it not for her system's instruction to watch over Natalie it might have been several more hours before she'd even been aware of it herself. "My daughter works in a school outside Freetown. I want her out of harm's way before the situation escalates. From all that I hear, time is of the essence. Will you take the contract?"
To some, it would be disheartening to realize that a woman of so lofty a reputation; one of selflessness and sacrifice to aid those less fortunate, to carry on the good work in an age when most of the world couldn't give two flying fucks about what happened beyond their own front door, could be so selfishly motivated.

Dominance V was aflame with civil war. Aflame literally, as the live broadcasts were already starting to show. Suicide bombs and IEDs, armed mobs, ambushes and assassinations and arsons. And while the very same and more happened in Sierra Leone, it didn't touch a single headline the world round, outside of Africa. That continent had been all but forgotten by the world, and the Red Cross' good works were often only thanks to people like Eleanor Northbrook.

And she worried only about her daughter, and her reputation.

He could not fault her in the slightest for being worried of her daughter. In fact, had she not been, that would have been a frightening revelation for him. He could also understand her desire to protect her reputation; reputation was a powerful thing after all. It opened doors. It served as a shield, and a mask. Her reputation made her job easier; and her job made the lives of others easier.

She sought to keep her daughter safe, and she sought to keep her reputation safe as well. Both were motivations he understood, and appreciated. Family was important. His was the Legion. Hers was a more direct blood tie.

He pulled up images from his Wallet, and began to compose the contract in some detail. The particulars were vague; so worded in her own favour. The Legion would secure the school and the Red Cross staff that worked there. They would secure all the Red Cross missions and staff in the country, which were, it seemed, blessedly few. The excuse was that those staff would be needed in the coming weeks as the conflict surely escalated. And in that excuse, was the legal wiggle-room they would need to secure her daughter without drawing unwanted attention to the task.

It also meant that a sizable chunk of the funds that Eleanor paid to the contract would go into establishing Legion Premiere-secured field hospitals and refugee camps. That funding of money, and the establishment of the camps, would bolster both Eleanor's reputation as a humanitarian, and the Legion's as an effective stabilizing force, able to go far beyond the means and will of similar private security companies in Africa.

"I have a team near your daughter's school. They shall secure the area, your people, and your daughter."
He'd already sent a warning order to his nearest team. They would be at the school within the hour, should the situation around Freetown not prove too troublesome for their movement yet.

Of course that team would arrive too late; Natalie would already be gone, bound for the hospital, and another team would be assigned the task, but that was a problem that would reveal itself later. The two would discuss the legal particularities of their contract, and more importantly, the disguise that hid her true motivation under a thick cloak of humanitarian desires and foresight.

Through the legal rigmarole, Jacques was direct and to the point. The negotiations on costs were not as aggressive as they would have been with a CEO of some multi-national company, however. The Red Cross was not so well funded as for him to desire to clean their coffers, and working with them had long-term benefits for him and his Legion.

But as that drew to a head, his Wallet screens popping up with important messages mostly regarding DV and some of his teams on the ground in Sierra Leone, Jacques accepted a cup of very black coffee from one of his personal retinue, as another of his men laid out a uniform and bodyarmour on an empty chair behind him. They were all beginning to gear up, making use of brief lulls in their work. They were still hours away from executing the DV rescue, but there was little time to be wasted.

"Mademoiselle Northbrook. My men will do all they can to see your daughter is safe. They are very good at their job. It is late. Please, get some rest. An impossible request I understand, but you are going to be needed in the morning to help pick up the pieces of this mess."
He stepped back from his work space and began working on the buttons of his expensive dress shirt, "You have good works to do on the morrow. 'It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.'"
Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher. "You have done what you can this night."

Edited by Jacques, May 21 2014, 01:31 PM.
The negotiations were not as vicious as she might have anticipated. Though Legion Premiere's services certainly did not come cheaply, Mr. Danjou did not dig deeper than he ought. Money was no barrier, of course, but she sensed in him the conscience of which Samantha Brown espoused. He was a rare one, this man. Though wrapped carefully in her professional exterior, Eleanor was nonetheless a woman on the edge of desperation, yet he did not take advantage of a mother's fierce love. He must have realised no monetary price would have been too high. But the final cost even her father would have considered reasonable.

While the contract was drawn up, Eleanor organised and transferred the details that would aid his team; Natalie's stats and picture, as well as the signal imbedded into her Wallet, secured there in grim preparation for just such a situation. Of the other Red Cross aid workers in the area, she was also able to provide suitable information. Though her daughter of course took precedence, she would not turn her back on others in a similar plight; it would have fallen under her remit anyway, once the news of fighting in Sierra Leone had eventually pierced its way through the louder cries of tragedy in DV. So she had no objections to his projected use of her funds, provided Natalie was extracted safely, and given Jacques apparent competency she already considered ways in which she might aid in the tumultuous months to come. He was direct, and she both appreciated and mirrored the succinctness. All in all it went rather smoothly.

As the legalities came to a close, and she noticed the small cues indicating how busy he was, she nodded. His kindness washed over her, though she didn't necessarily doubt the sincerity of the flowery words; she would just sooner be comforted by his action than his promises. A small smile alleviated her stoic expression, then returned to its flat line. Epicurus. He was well learned, then, and she took it as a good omen. His words struck her as poignant, and for a brief moment she considered offering something inspirational in return. Instead she inclined her head and ended the call. He was correct on the quote, but wrong on the rest. There was still plenty to do this night.

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