alison_icon.gif arthur_icon.gif mason_icon.gif

Scene Title Advent
Synopsis Due to the disastrous results of the Formula's implementation, Arthur Petrelli scrambles for a fallback plan to show to the United States Government.
Date June 17, 2009

Pinehearst Headquarters, Basement Level 2

It's hard for Mason Chesterfield to remember the last time he slept. Sitting hunched over a computer, locked up in the same lab he's been confined to for over a week, the days have finally begun to blur together. One cramped hand takes a break from the keyboard, moving up to wipe across a furrowed brow as tired eyes stare at a scan of the two halves of the original Formula.

"Nothing." Mason leans back as he exhales a heavy, frustrated sigh. The back of his chair creaks loudly; louder than his murmured complaint had been. The noise draws the attention of a researcher on the opposite side of the desk from him, lead researcher on the development of the Formula – Alison Meier. Both Mason and Alison have seen better days, with one having been awake for well beyond sixteen hours, and the other wearing a back-brace from her collision with a glass window during Gabriel Gray's escape.

She leans around her monitor, peering at Mason with furrowed brows. "Nothing, of course nothing." Her nerves, like everyone's at Pinehearst, are shot. "We've been over this a dozen times, we're not going to find anything different! It's obvious something went wrong with the initial synthesis process – either the patient or the compound, we – "

"For Christ's sake, Alison." Both of Mason's hands slam down on the desk as he pushes himself up from his chair to stand. "Listen to yourself. This—we could have done things differently. For God's sake a young man is dead because of our negligence. We should never have gone straight to human trials after completing the compound. I told you and Arthur the risks, I—"

"Don't you dare lecture me Goddamnit!" Alison too bursts up from her chair, brows lowered and a contentious expression plastered across her face. "You should have said something sooner! The whole reason Arthur brought you on to this project was because of your supposed superhuman mental abilities. Where were they the other day!?" She waves one hand in Mason's direction accusingly.

Circling around the table, picking up a stapled stack of papers, Mason hurls them at Alison, the white sheets rustling as they bounce off of the front of her lab coat and fall awkwardly to the floor at her feet. "I have been running on three hours of sleep a night! Unlike someone, I don't have the luxury of spending a full eight hours of sleep every night!"

"Fuck you, Mason! You know I have a medical condition, fuck you and your useless goddamned wi—" Before Alison can even finish the sentence, Mason's hand has leapt up as if of its own accord and struck the already injured doctor across the mouth, jerking her head to the side. Immediately, she grabs Mason's arm and squeezes at his wrist, pushing forward as a feral little snarl comes out of her tiny frame.

Mason's skin begins to tingle, redden and become hot to the touch around Alison's grip. "If you so much as raise your fucking voice to me again, Chesterfield, I'll liquefy your goddamned intestines." Her tiny fingers unwind from his wrist, nostrils flaring, face bright red from anger and the sting of five fingers across her face. "Don't forget that unlike Jennifer I actually know how to use her power."

Rubbing at his sore and tender wrist, Mason takes a half step away from Alison. "An ability you copied from her because you felt too inadequate without one. You're a psychopath, Meier. You're—"

"Children," A firm voice comes from the back of the lab near the open door, "don't make me turn this basement around." Walking in with his hands folded behind his back, Arthur Petrelli's appearance in the midst of this arguing forestalls any more outbursts – at least for the moment. Both Mason and Alison sheepishly return to their respective corners like boxers at the ring of the bell at round's end.

Looking back and forth between his two chief researchers, Arthur gives a slow nod and a sigh before continuing. "I had a heart to heart with the good doctor Zimmerman after what happened during the initial test." Lowering his thick brows, Arthur glances down at the display of the two scanned Formula halves on Mason's computer. "The Company did a remarkable job of erasing selective portions of his memory following his work on the Formula, I'll admit, the Haitian has an amazing gift."

Mason looks away at that mention, still nursing his wounded wrist. Arthur, however, continues unimpeded, turning off Mason's monitor, then Alison's. "We have a very critical problem to address. The first of which, is that the current plans for the Formula's development are on hold until we can determine exactly what went wrong with the initial production." Arthur's eyes drift over to Alison. "Due to this, we're reviving the Advent project."

Both of doctor Meier's eyes open wide when those words slip past Arthur's lips. He doesn't, however, give her a chance to speak to the contrary. "Yes, I know that the design of the retro-virus met with abject failure, however the results of the injection of the advent virus were – by and large – successes for short periods of time, and admittedly longer than our current batch of the Formula has proven to be."

Turning his focus to Mason, Arthur's eyes narrow. "Yes, Mason, I can hear what you're thinking and I don't appreciate that level of negativity." At that, Mason's throat tightens in a dry swallow and he shakily nods his head. This distraction, though, finally gives Alison a moment to speak up.

"Arthur—Sir, the—why are we taking a thousand steps backwards?" Alison's tone of voice is pleading, for reasons very evident to all concerned parties in the lab. "We—the advent project was a dead-end. The Formula at least—" Arthur raises a hand, motioning towards Alison as he pinches two fingers closed, telekinetically shutting her mouth.

"Shhh," he whispers as one finger presses to his lips. Slowly, his hand lowers and freedom of movement is returned to a very silenced Alison. "We need to make headway with our prospective government contract. Representatives from General Autumn's office will be here by the end of the week, and we need to show him that we have a working version of the Formula ready for his soldiers."

At that, both Mason and Alison realize the way this is going. "While the advent-virus ultimately results in death, the short-term ability copying is a useful bluff. We'll utilize a member of our staff; inject them with one of our stored copied of the advent, and show to General Autumn that we have produced results. The injection, demonstration, and interview will take less time than it takes for the subject's cellular makeup to break down."

"You're—you're knowingly sacrificing a human life to—to buy yourself time?" Mason can hardly believe what's coming out of Arthur's mouth. "Arthur, my God what's gotten into you? We—this isn't like you. I—Arthur, we've know each other for three decades and you've never done something this—"

"Mason," The tone of Arthur's voice is practically poisonous, "when I want your opinion, I will ask you for it. Now you can either help doctor Meier prep candidates for injection and trial, or you can spend some time getting rest in one of the examination rooms."

It's like waking into a terrible nightmare, watching the downward spiral of a man he called a friend, of a man he felt was someone who had the best interests of the world at heart. "Arthur, I—I absolutely refuse to be part to this—this massacre. This is—this is inhuman what you want to do!"

Very slowly, Arthur's focus shifts over to Mason; not just a motion of his head, but eventually a slow turn of his shoulders and body, a few steps clearing the distance between the two. "Let me put this to you in ways you can understand, Mason." While Arthur speaks in softer tones, the content of his words is as sharp as a knife's edge.

"If you so much as have a dissenting thought," two fingers tap firmly on Mason's forehead, "in that head of yours, I'll kill your wife, and I'll make you watch." That last syllable is delivered through his teeth as Arthur looms over Mason, staring down at him. "Do I make myself clear?"

True, honest fear finally grips Mason as his head drops into a wordless nod. Not even Alison, now, has any ability or desire left to stand up to Arthur's desires. Letting a long, awkward silence hang over the lab, Arthur finally takes a few steps back from Mason, and reaches out to straighten his old friend's collar and tighten his tie, squaring the knot. "Now," one hand smoothes the tie out down the front of his shirt, "with that unpleasant business out of the way, I expect to have preliminary reports on prospective candidates on my desk by tomorrow evening."

Silence reigns as Arthur's eyes drift back and forth between Mason and Jennifer, followed by a slow and affirmative nod. "I'm glad we're all in agreement." Turning away from the two, Mason and Alison stare with wide, terrified eyes at Arthur's back as he retreats from the lab and into the hall, closing the door behind himself with a soft click.

Though for those researchers, the click may as well have been the sound of a hammer driving a nail into the lid of a coffin.

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