A Ripple On Distant Shores


wf_peter_icon.gif lee_icon.gif

Scene Title A Ripple on Distant Shores
Synopsis History changes in subtle ways, stays the same in others, but the current must move ever forward.
Date May 12, 2012

Neon lights filter through slatted blinds. Leather furniture reflects shades of violet, red, and pink in equal measure. Smoke clings to the air, catching rays of colorful, shifting illumination like a nicotine-filled aurora borealis. Old blankets, draped over a black leather sofa, are shades of red; brick and carnation. Beer bottles lay scattered across the floor, mixed with cigarette ashes, food crumbs, and the crushed remnants of cans. On a nearby coffee table, a battered black cell phone rests face down amid the detritus of more than one meal and gray ashes. Six snubbed cigarettes hold court in a crystal ash tray. One lone cigarette, a trail of ashes extending from its smoldering filter, burns itself out.

This is the life Peter Petrelli chose. Laying back across the sofa, he stares up at the patterns of neon lights on the ceiling. The apartment is otherwise unlit, Jessica is out, and the only noise is a muffled sound of someone vacuuming out in the hall. He's been here for hours, two cases of beer in, and still only possessed of a lightly inebrieated sense of weariness. The smoke stings his eyes, nostrils. The scent clings to his skin in the way it did other people he more fondly remembers. People he left behind more than a thousand miles away.

But then, his cell phone vibrates across the glass table.

Las Vegas, Nevada

9:53 pm

Traffic is a constant on the streets of Las Vegas. Rampant honking, the roar of engines, the hiss of hydraulic breaks in big rigs. New York is ostensibly the city that never sleeps, but from what Peter's seen over the last couple months, Las Vegas has considerably more life to it. In his mind, New York is the city that refuses to die. It's these kinds of thoughts that occupy his time while he waits outside the Montecito Casino, watching patrons come and go, drunkenly staggering from curb to cab as they pass by a tall red banner marked with the seal of the Department of Evolved Affairs that resolutely demands REGISTRATION IS THE LAW.

The chill in the air is expected in May, when the sun drops and the desert rapidly cools. Peter's black jacket is zippered all the way up, collar flipped to the back of his neck and hands jammed into fur-lined pockets. The patches from Operation Apollo were torn off a long time ago, but the stitch marks are still there.

"Hey, hey buddy," comes a voice up from behind Peter. "You got ah — like six bucks? I'm short and — " Peter's brows furrow together, a low hum builds in his head. The man, unseen, behind him stops talking. Then, with rigid movement, turns completely around and walks down the sidewalk to bother someone else. Peter's brows stay furrowed, rooting around in his head. He sees a woman crying, a bruised eye, a violent drunk. Peter's right hand clenches into a fist, and —

"'Ey, Stallion." Irritation breaks Peter's concentration, brings his dark eyes to a familiar face already attempting to loop an arm around his shoulder. Peter's nose rankles, brows lower. The redhead beside him stinks of cigarettes in an unflattering way, her eyes halfway lidded and smile knife-like and crooked. Peter squirms out from under her arm, looks up at her thanks to height and heels.

"Gracie," is Peter's strained and unwelcoming response. "If you're trying to score something," anything, "you could've done yourself a favor and not called." Gracie lowers her brows, frowns deeper, and rests her hands on her hips.

It's only then Peter notices she's not dressed for work at the Casino, no cocktail dress, no heels. In her off-hours, Gracie is rougher around the edges in sturdy boots, well-worn jeans, and a leather jacket she stole from Peter last month during a rain-storm. "What's up?" Sounds more conspiratorial, after Peter recognizes that something is off.

Gracie gives a nod, indicating for Peter to follow, and against his better judgment he does. They walk, side by side, past crowds of Casino patrons, on-street police, and rows of parked cabs and limousines. "Got a call from a contact of mine from back east," she shoots a side-long look at Peter, wagging a brow. "Big ATF shipment got slammed last month, couple of cargo containers of seized contraband were stolen. Gang responsible disappeared — Evo-style. Word is the truck's full of guns and drugs."

Peter comes to a stop, raises one hand to cut Gracie off. "Why are you telling me this?" Gracie relents, working her jaw from one side to the next. She lifts one brow, watches Peter expectantly, and as soon as he puts two and two together he starts to storm off. "No."

"Hey," Gracie hustles to catch up after him, arms swinging anrgily at her side. "No, you don't get to fuck off from this one, Petey!" Gracie grabs Peter by the sleeve and yanks him around, and when Peter turns there's a moment when Gracie can feel some intangible force hooking at her chest, about to lift her off the ground. He sees the momentary fear in her eyes, and she sees the apology in his. The sensation stops, and she lets go of his arm.

For a moment, they're both understanding of crossed lines. "You owe me," is how Gracie chooses to circle back around to her request. Peter looks away, rolling his tongue across the inside of his cheek, scrubbing one hand over his face. He exhales a deep sigh, then looks back to her with a frown gradually forming. Gracie's brows raise again.




A Dirt Road off Highway 147

Las Vegas, Nevada

11:17 pm

Seventy feet off of the highway, a black Jeep comes to a rolling stop amid tumbling desert hills and scrub vegetation. The headlights go dark as the engine shuts off, and one by one the driver's and passenger's side doors open. Peter Petrelli emerges from the passenger's seat, one black boot crunching in the sandy ground underfoot. Gracie Lee slides out of the other side, leather jacket zipped and buttoned closed. As she circles around the front of the Jeep under pale moonlight on a clear night, Peter notices the handgun she's carrying.

"Don't even," Gracie notes, before Peter can even start. "You get negated, I'm not dying without a fight." She looks out to the impenetrable dark of the desert beyond Highway 147, then looks back to Peter. "You're… sure though? This is it?"

Peter inclines his head into a nod that means both yes and let's get moving that way. He starts ahead and Gracie is behind him in hurried steps. The two walk quietly up over a low hill, reaching the crest some two hundred feet beyond the Highway, well out of the lights of traffic. In the distance to the west, Las Vegas looks like a neon beacon over a field of stars. Over the other side of the hill, Peter sees a row of cars parked with their headlights on, and two tractor trailer trucks parked side by side ahead of them.

"How the fuck do you do this?" Gracie asks rhetorically, she knows the answer is something like a human Swiss army knife. Peter takes a knee, looking down at the row of vehicles. He surveys the area, notices the back of one of the trucks carrying the shipping container is open, careless voices ring out in the night.

"I count six heat signatures," Peter explains, his pupils taking on a red glow. "One's — really hot. Gotta be Evolved, probably a pyrokinetic. Four have guns, and — " Peter's head tilts to the side. "Something's not right about this." The red in his stare flickers away as he looks to Gracie. "Where'd you get this info?"

Shaking her head incredulously, Gracie gently brandishes her gun in the direction of the trucks. "Old CI from back in the day, Rick Daselles." Peter's brows furrow, the name isn't familiar. Looking back to the trucks, he rises to stand and looks hesitant. Gracie nudges him with her elbow. "Pete, trust me. I haven't pulled bad info once." She stares. "Have I?"

Peter closes his eyes and rolls his tongue across his teeth, frustrated. "After this, we're even." Gracie cracks a smile, gripping her gun in both hands. "I mean it."

Brows raised, Gracie looks momentarily offended. "Sir, you insult my hon— "

"Come on." Peter coarsely states, before marching down the other side of the hill toward the parked vehicles. Gracie lets out a hiss of frustration and follows after, keeping her eyes trained on the backs of the parked semis.

Peter closes the distance to the vehicles quickly enough, doing nothing to hide the haste at which he moves. The noise of his bootfalls brings someone out of one of the parked cars. "Woah! Hey there buddy you can't — " And just like that Peter motions with two fingers, smashes the man against his car twice and then flings him sixty feet away into the desert night. Gracie whistles appreciatively, no longer bothering with a ruse of stealth.

Four more people spill out of the back of the open tractor-trailer truck, these ones with guns. Peter holds up one hand, snatching their guns from their palms and sending them spiraling up into the air. With a second hand he yanks one of the men through the air on an invisible tether, then slams him into the windshield of a car behind him. Gracie steps back, holstering her gun with a sense of humility. She remembers why she wanted to wait to call in that favor.

Screams, now. Then panic, then people flying in every direction. One man is bounced around inside the back of the truck until he's rendered unconscious, another is thrown down to the ground with such force the wind is knocked out of him. He's spun around and suspended upside down in the air in front of Peter. No one else is moving, except for the man hung by an invisible tether around his ankles.

"How many more of you are there?" Peter asks, and his head tilts to the side at that question. "N — none." None? Oh my god, I'm going to die. Fuck, I'm — Peter drops him, then presses a boot to his chest. Brows pinches together, Peter searches his mind. A family, three young boys, a house surrounded by pine trees. Smuggling, sending money home. Peter takes his boot off and slides the man across the desert floor, then lifts him up and hangs him by his jacket on the branches of a dead tree.

"You can come out," Peter calls out to Gracie. It's with the affectation of a casual gait that Gracie saunters out from behind one of the cars, whistling again as she kicks an errant gun with the toe of a boot.

"You sure do know how to party. No wonder Jessica — "

"Are we done?" Peter asks impatiently. Gracie shoots him a frustrated look, red-shadowed blue eyes meet Peter's darker ones, then the truck. Her tongue clicks and she makes a finger-gun gesture at the doors. Rolling his eyes, Peter wrenches one hand back and yanks the doors open on the back of the other semi truck.

Gracie makes her way to the first truck, climbing up inside. "Let me check out what we've got, then you're good to go." Her voice is hollow sounding within the first transport trailer. "Looks like the boys already cracked into this one. It's — clothes. Fuck me, this one's just winter coats, boots — fuck." Gracie hops out, landing in a puff of desert dust around her boots.

"I didn't know the ATF side-lined as the Salvation Army." Peter cracks a smile, and Gracie politely flips him off as she storms over to the other semi truck. "I hope your CI didn't sell you bad intel." Gracie doesn't give that comment the time of day. Instead, she hauls herself up into the back of the truck.

Peter paces around outside, looking to the groaning or unconscious men around him. He can hear Gracie opening the shipping container inside the truck. His brows furrow, inspecting the thoughts of another one of the men who pulled off the robbery. Pain, fear, confusion, nothing concrete. But then, he's rattled from his concentration by a cry of, "Peter!"

There's a rush of air and Peter disappears, reappearing inside the truck in front of Gracie, one hand held out. But there's no one other than Gracie to see. At first, all Peter notices are crates packed with wood shavings full of IV backs, other crates packed with ice and blood. "What… is this?" He starts to turn back to Gracie, and she pushes him by the shoulder with one hand and points over him with the other.

"No, look." Following Gracie's urging, Peter looks back. There, in the rear of the truck, halfway covered by a tarp is a seven foot long and three foot tall plastic and steel container with an olive-drab coloration. A display on its side shows vital signs. "Peter, what the hell is that?"

Peter's heart sinks into the pit of his stomach. Hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Suddenly, this just got a lot weirder. Hustling forward, Peter moves over to the strange, humming container, throwing off the tarp with a wave of his hand. "Do you know how to work this?" He asks over his shoulder.

Gracie stomps up the length of the shipping container behind him, takes a knee in front of the keypad. "Oh yeah, just because I was in the Company I know how to work a Star Trek sarcophagus." She looks up to Peter, then rolls her eyes and examines the keypad again. "It's not locked," she admits quietly. "There's a security over-ride in place. I think — someone's in here, sedated." She looks up to Peter, brows creased in worry. "Peter, what the fuck is this thing?"

"Get back," Peter asserts, holding up one hand as Gracie circles behind him. Then, with a low rumble, Peter opens the lid with a tug of telekinetic force. As the lid cracks open, white fog spills out over the ground and pools around his boots. He steps back, away from the vapor, and watches as it clears inside the mechanical coffin.

Peter stares wide-eyed as the mist begins to clear, lips parting as an expression of dawning confusion of horror comes over him. "Holy shit," Peter whispers. Gracie doesn't recognize the woman inside, but Peter does from the old PARIAH days. He circles around Gracie, creeps over to the edge of the container, and looks back with wide, worried eyes. "This… this is…"

"That's Eve Mas."

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