Who Dares, Wins

Participants:

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Scene Title Who Dares, Wins
Synopsis Hugh Wickham receives some startling information from Roger Goodman, and is sent on a wolf hunt.
Date February 9, 2009

Primatech Research, Level-3


Business as usual has been a bit unusual as of late in the Company's Bronx facility.

Rumors at the water-coolers about a new agent coming in aren't as worrisome as the fact that he ranks near Mister Thompson in overall security clearance. This is the second major administrative change at the Company in the last year; the first being Sabra Dalton taking over for the ailing Bob Bishop after the raid on Primatech. His name is Roger Goodman, a pragmatic and calculating man, according to those who have met him. His presence at the Bronx facility seems limited, despite the fact that there is an office on Level-3 with his name on the door, he's hardly ever around the facility. This all changed with the sudden and unexplained appearance of Agent Brian Winters.

This wasn't any of Hugh Wickham's concern, not until a memo arrived at his office with a notice from Goodman's secretary, that a meeting arranged for 2:00pm on February 8th had been scheduled. By the time the memo arrived, it was 1:30pm.

Fantastic.

Hugh, however, was happily at loose ends. Just returned from capturing an Irish siren. So he's not particularly rushed, as he shrugs his black suitjacket more comfortably into place, and ambles down the hall. He's a firm believer in military punctuality, so he appears before Goodman's door right on the dot.

Roger Goodman's office looks remarkably out of place on the inside. It is deceptive in its design, with a large faux window behind his desk displaying an illuminated painting of a skyline with shuttered blinds half drawn. Seated at his desk, Roger Goodman looks like a fixture of a Fortune 500 company, not a secret government agency. His suit jacket has been shed for the white shirt and patterned blue neecktie beneath. "Mister Wickham." Dark eyes upturn from paperwork, focused solely on the man in the door. "Come on in," he motions towards a pair of seats facing his desk, "Take a seat."

Hugh does just that, expression arrayed into one of polite interest, as he does. He's in his usual monochrome suit, oh so beautifully tailored to flatter him,and hide the pistol under his arm. He's mute, merely nodding politely to acknowledge the greeting, though the blue eyes are keen and amused.

"Tell me Agent Wickham," Roger opens a manilla folder on his desk, removing a large glossy photograph which he slides across the glass desktop towards Hugh, "Who do you see in that picture?" It's something of a trick question, or at least it has to be. The photograph is of Hugh, dressed in a black winter jacket with a watchman's cap pulled down over his head. Judging from the granularity of the photo and the background it looks like it was taken from a bank security camera. But the date stamp reads 12-23-08 - 12:14

Roger tilts his head to the side, one brow slowly raised in anticipation of this answer.

"Why, that's me," Hugh says, with surprise slowly dawning in his face, after he's pulled it into a comfortable range. He raises his gaze from the picture to Goodman. "I — when was this taken?" He doesn't own a hat that looks like that. It's irrelevant, but the first thing that comes to mind. Not a protest he voices, however. He merely looks expectantly at Goodman, as if waiting for that explanation. "Is that date accurate? I was here, all that day," he says. "In the office, doing reports, training progress, all that sort of thing. I wasn't at a bank of any kind."

Roger nods his head and reaches into the folder, laying out a group shot of several men dressed in military fatigues standing and kneeling in front of a helicopter. Roger points to one particular face in the crowd, which is decidedly Hugh. "This photograph is from the British Military Archives, Special Air Service. It was taken on October 17th, 2003 shortly before that group was sent into active duty in Afghanistan." Leaning back in his chair with a creak of leather, Roger's eyes settle on Hugh inspectingly, hands folding over the rest of the paperwork in that folder.

"This is a trick. A photoshop, or something," Hugh says, with increasing perplexity. "I served in Afghanistan, but… I don't know any of those men. I mean, that's Daffydd Jones who I went into the Army with, but I've never been in his unit. That…" He taps one of the faces in the picture. "But I am damn certain I never had a picture taken like that while I was there. And the date's wrong. I was in Basra at the time, if the stamp is accurate." He looks up at Goodman, confusion writ large. "What is all this about? Do we have a shapeshifter using my face?"

Retrieving anothr document, Roger lays down a multi-page document paperclipped to a portrait of Hugh. However the name on the document, which is a drafting record for the Special Air Service reads, "Leeds, Drake A." Roger's eyes coldly move from that document, up to Hugh, followed by another hand flick of a photograph. This one is of a horribly mangled body laying on an examination table at what is likely a morgue. The body has severe third degree burns over much of of it, and has one bullet hole in the shoulder, and is missing the right rear portion of its skull. Most of the left side of his face is horribly burned away.

But it's Hugh.

"This body was recovered by Company officials from the burned remnants of the Sea View Hospital in Staten Island. Intelligence we have access to indicates that events regarding the prior theft of a classified biological agent and the disappearance of Doctor Odessa Knutson was connected to the fire there."

Roger picks up another document from te folder, looking it over with his voice remaining somewhat tense, but otherwise deceptively casual, as if he were discussing the evening news. "We were not entirely prepared for what we unearthed from the wreckage of that building. Dental records taken from the corpse do not match yours, but blood and DNA tests…" The document is laid down, along with a strip of filk which shows an odd and blurry overlay of black lines on clear film. "We matched DNA samples from the corpse with your blood we have on record, and they are an identical match." Goodman's dark eyes settle on Hugh for a long while, "I wanted to get your opinion on this."

This is….beyond unreal. Hugh's eyes are huge, rapt, as he stares at the image. "Oh, my god," he says, in a voice barely above a breath. "Oh, my god," he repeats. "I….don't know," he says, raising a guileless stare to Goodman. "I…I can only think of two things. I had an identical twin I never knew about. Or that's some sort of clone or manipulation. My parents, they're not Evolved. None in my family. And if someone was trying to replace me, well, wouldn't they off me, make sure I never knew of it? Take my identity, not just my DNA. I'm the real Hugh Wickham, s'far's I know."

"You are indeed the real Hugh Wickham," Goodman insists, taking back the photographs and files save for the group shot of Drake's unit as he stacks them away in the folder. "However, this Drake Leeds seems to have had affiliation with a very unsavory group of individuals. According to British SAS records, Drake Leeds died in Afghanistan following an ambush on a coalition force surveiling a mountain road." His fingers press down on the folder, eyes narrowed slightly.

"I did some digging, in the interest of getting to the bottom of a mystery — " Roger's eyes level squarely on Hugh, " — I do love a good mystery." He slides the top folder aside, and rather like a magic trick reveals a second folder beneath. "I discovered that Mister Leeds was not the only person of interest in that region at the time." The folder is opened, and a few files are slowly paged thorugh.

"Take a look at this man." Roger points down to a man kneeling in the front row of Drake's unit, and then removes a photograph from the file folder he now has opened. It is another British Special Air Service enlistment record, and paperclipped to it is a head shot of a man with thinning hair and a severe look in his eyes, despite the smirk on his lips. The name at the top of the document reads, Holden, Ethan.

"Unit commander of Drake's regiment until the winter of 2003, when he mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Then," He quickly retrieves another surveilance photograph from the folder, laying it down in front of Hugh. Here is depicted the same man, caught on a traffic camera with another man with short-cropped black hair and thick, dark eyebrows. "He re-emerges in New York City around the same time as that bank photograph was taken, with this man." Roger taps two fingers on the man in the car's passenger seat. "Sylar."

"I've never met either, though the names are of course familiar," Hugh says, still bewildered, even as his brain tries desperately to forge ahead. "Holden I'd heard of, even then. Never served with him." He'd plead for his own innocence, if he thought it'd do some good.

"Perhaps you'll recognize this pair then," Roger says quietly, retrieving another photograph from the folder, depicting what looks like a well-to-do apartment hallway, where Ethan Holden is standing with one arm around the back of a short and rather attractive woman with wavy shoulder-length hair. Doctor Odessa Knutson.

"Our missing Doctor Knutson, captured on camera alongside Ethan Holden in the hallway of Dorchester Towers on December 9th." Once more Goodman's dark eyes drift down from Hugh to the photograph, head tilting to one side slowly before exhaling a long and drawn out breath. "I'd like to offer you an assignment, Hugh. I know we haven't gotten around to formally partnering you up with another agent yet, and I assure you that will be covered shortly." Roger leans back in his chair again, the creak of leather accompanying the silence between his thoughts.

"We have reason to believe that Ethan Holden may have fled to Staten Island following a series of incidents in the city near the end of last month. I would like you to attempt to track him down and keep an eye on him. Consider this a deep-cover assignment. You are under no obligation to make contact, just keep an eye on who he associates with and report back on a weekly basis."

Roger folds his hands on top of the documents, head very slightly tilting to one side. "Once you've assessed his situation and become familiar with his activities, I'd like you to attempt to go under cover as Drake Leeds to try and use their presumed past connection to leverage some information from him about the whereabouts of Doctor Knutson."

There's really nothing else Hugh can do, save nod silently. And then he looks up, a slow grin curling the corners of his lips. "Yes," he says. "Can do. I'm to scout this out first. Although….might need amnesia as an excuse for why I don't remember what I should."

"We'll arrange for your cover as Drake once you've reported back with the results of your scouting. We will have something arranged for you, to make it a bit more…" Roger slowly waves one hand in the air, "Believable." Settling his hands back down to fold on top of the documents, Roger raises both brows and crooks one corner of his mouth into a smile. "You'll want to start your search around an area called the Rookery. It's a criminal hub of Staten Island. This is a dangerous assignment, and you will be going in alone."

Leaning forward, Roger rests his chin on one hand, thrumming his fingers against his chin. "Any questions?"

"Only one. When do I start?" Hugh says, squaring his shoulders and offering Goodman that piratical grin.


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February 9th: Hands In A Box
Previously in this storyline…
And Nothing But the Truth

Next in this storyline…
...If It's Not One Thing

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February 9th: Evasive Maneuvers
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