Another Brief History Of Time


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Scene Title Another Brief History of Time
Synopsis The truth gets complicated as last five years are summarised for both Liz and Edward.
Date November 8, 2011

The Hub

The Hub is a haven for the survivors of the Shanti-Rage virus. In the last hour, Elisabeth Harrison has used the skills she honed as a detective to learn a considerable amount about this subterranean refuge. The ambient noise of running machinery and dripping water accompanies the sound of distant voices as she wanders the labyrinthine passageways of rusted metal and damp concrete. The complex is 181 feet below the streets of coastal Queens, directly below the Consolidated Edison Power Plant. The facility itself isn’t a part of the power plant, though, it’s an old subway transit hub that was used to deliver machine parts and coal to the power plant in the early 1900s. Now it’s a derelict part of the 6th Avenue Local Line that connects Queens, Roosevelt Island, and Manhattan.

Overhead, Liz has been following a network of water manes, steam pipes, and electrical cabling that is covered with rust and water stains. These passages were maintenance corridors, riddled with small workshops, storage spaces, and now converted into living quarters for the survivors of a viral apocalypse; one that Liz helped stop in another time. But the people here were not so fortunate, history played a different course and the world inexorably moved on. The survivors here live directly below one of the Vanguard’s operating centers, one of the locations Liz knows was a launch point for the virus. They’re hiding in plain sight.

Heading down the same narrow hall, Liz passes a few more doors, onto a series of metal catwalks. With a soft, clanging sound of each step, Elisabeth stalks out over an unbelievable sight some forty feet below. The catwalks are circling an expansive railway system, complete with old and rusted subway cars sitting idle. She pauses, staring down at the cars and the tracks, to spools of untended cabling and tools. Most of these subway cars are filled with people, lanterns and battery-powered lights illuminate the depths. Hanging from the underside of the walkway, strings of white Christmas lights are used to brighten up the dark, stone and steel space.

There are children here. Elisabeth sees a few, walking alongside tired and weary looking adults. She’s too far up to make out faces, to see if there’s anyone here she recognizes out of the more than one hundred or so individuals that make up this fragile community. Some people carry backpacks, bundles of supplies, others have tools and labor on workbenches repairing broken mechanical components. Life goes on.

Liz turns slowly from the view, following the catwalk to a set of metal stairs that head up to a higher level. She slowly ascends the stairs, arriving at an area marked by plate glass windows that may have at one time been some form of observation room to view the changing of tracks and train cars. However now these windows are plastered with newspapers on the inside, showing broken pieces of articles, advertisements and the backs of photographs all taped to the glass. This is it.

Elisabeth was instructed not to knock, and to just show herself in. The metal door creaks open with some protest, and within she doesn’t find what she expected. There is no tangle of strings, no web of the future, just a spacious concrete-walled office with desks pushed up against the wall and mouldering cardboard boxes covering their surfaces. A few desk lamps are lit in here, and below one sits an exhausted-looking Edward Ray. He looks up with Liz comes in, smiling faintly. “Elisabeth,” and sets down a pen he was scribbling into a legal pad with. He rises from his folding chair, passing by stacks of old newspapers, piles of miscellaneous salvage, to come and greet her.

“I… apologize for the state of things. My office has become something of a storage overflow.” Edward properly extends a hand now, a formality never offered in her time when he put her name on a kill list, and not here when he retrieved her from wherever people go when they enter a black hole.

It’s a lot to take in. Everything she sees here is mentally compared to her world, where … she never thought she was all that. But she helped avoid this future, and that feels strange. When she enters Edward’s office, she’s still very cautious of him. Taking the proffered hand, she still has a very subtle tremor — as if the panic attack that began when she realized we’re not in Kansas anymore has yet to subside. It’s probably a damn good thing she’s negated, despite the fact that she feels like she can’t breathe properly, stifled in ways that bring back nightmare memories.

“Edward,” she greets quietly. Pulling in a slow breath, she looks around his office. “It seems you’re doing the best you can with what you have.”

“I suppose I am,” Edward admits with a meager smile. “Unfortunately I have an embarrassment of documentation that Mr. Woods was kind enough to supply me with in our, ah,” as he walks by a cardboard box, Edward slaps it on the side. “Endeavors to understand the nature of the virus and our situation.” He turns to look at Liz, grimacing. “Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out the best way to contextualize it all. There’s just…” he motions a hand around the room, “too much data.”

Blue eyes wander the boxes, then slip back up to Liz before Edward makes his way back to the folding chair by his desk. He reaches out and picks up the back of another one, unfolding it into an open position and setting it on the floor nearby to his with a gesture for Liz to join him. “I’d offer you tea, or— coffee? But we ran out of both quite some time ago. The creatures this world affords us aren’t of the comfort variety.”

She nods slightly, her eyes still on the mess. But Elisabeth offers a faint smile of thanks for the chair that is set out and lowers herself to sit in it wearily. “I’m sure we’ll manage without the coffee and niceties,” she murmurs. It’s not like they’d been living in luxury at the Brickfront… but comparatively speaking, they actually were. Pulling in a slow breath, she studies the man in front of her. Her distrust of him is kept behind a calm demeanor, but she is nothing if not practical — he’s the only source of information she’s got in this world. And knowing what he did in hers, she’s willing to take some amount of chance on the idea that he really will help them.

“I don’t think I quite know where to start in this, so perhaps you should pick something you’d like to focus on and I’ll… tell you what I can?”

“Well,” Edward clasps his hands together in his lap, “I’d like to figure out where we went wrong.” There’s a distant look in his wide, expressive eyes. “You and Magnes claim to be from a… “ he can hardly believe he’s saying it, “…parallel timeline. One where you not only survived the attack on Washington Irving, but also were able to stop all this from ever happening.” Leaning back in his chair, Edward looks over to the pile of newspapers, lips downturned into a frown.

It takes him a moment to come up with a starting point, blue eyes searching slowly over the stacks of documents, boxes of file folders, heaps of photographs. “I suppose this will help you learn about us, too. About where you are now.” When he looks back to Elisabeth, he starts simple. “November 8th, 2006. There was a nuclear explosion in Midtown Manhattan, thousands dead, thousands more injured.” His stare is a searching one, eyes slightly narrowed. “Did this happen in your timeline? Or do we need to go back further?”

For a long moment, Elisabeth considers him. And then she nods slowly. “Yes. It wasn’t an explosion, though — not like they thought. It was an Evo.” Pursing her lips, she shakes her head. “In my world, Edward Ray, you are responsible for a lot of things with regard to timeline bullshit — and I don’t think I want to be involved in giving you still more data to crunch on this so you can work out how to time travel.” She can’t get up to pace, there’s not enough room. So instead, she moves to stand, her arms crossed over her stomach, and simply shifts her weight from foot to foot in agitation. “That said… I seem to be boxed in a corner on this because if I don’t fucking tell you, I might never go home again.” She looks at him, letting him see for the first time just how haunted the woman in front of him is. “It doesn’t matter where you went wrong back then. It really doesn’t.”

There’s a long pause, and she says quietly, “I read somewhere once… Nature abhors a vacuum. Some things just have to happen the way they happen. Because if you change it, nature will do her best to course-correct what you’ve changed. You’ll just put off a disaster until later… and it may well be bigger than it would have been if you’d just let it happen and dealt with the aftermath, because Nature’s a bitch… and like a volcano, she just bottles it up for later explosions.”

Her eyes flicker over his boxes and boxes of data. “In my world,” she tells him softly, “after Irving, I went back to the police force. I met some people, they told me some things, and I convinced my bosses that there was a credible threat.” She looks back at him. “I can tell you how to kill Kazimir in the here and now… but if the virus has already mutated the way you say it has… what is the point of that? Will it stop what’s happening to your people?”

Edward leans forward and rests his head in his hands for a little while, then slowly scrubs his hands down his face. “Elisabeth, I… understand you have grievances with — what is clearly me, but— also not me?” He turns blue eyes up to her and squints. “I wasn’t even aware that time travel was a possibility until you and Magnes started talking about it. I don’t know who Hiro Nakamura is, I don’t know who you think I am but…” Edward’s brows furrow together and he seems unable to navigate out of the corner of the conversation he’s been backed into.

“I’m a mathematics professor from Massachusetts,” comes out of Edward with a pleading tone of voice. “I’m not— this isn’t something I wanted to do. I was pushed into this out of the lack of anyone else being able to see things the way I do. I’m not trying to change anything — as far as I know we can’t. I’m trying to figure out where our two worlds differ, and maybe…”

Edward exhales a sigh and rests his face in his hands again, then slides his fingers up through what hair he has left and then across the back of his neck. “You don’t belong here,” Edward offers in a quiet tone of voice. Then, as he looks up there’s that pleading look again. “None of us do. We can’t fight Kazimir, unless there’s a magic password you can say to make him stop being an unstoppable killing machine. We can’t stop the virus, either. It’s so far gone past that.”

“When I set Mateo up in that room, my predictive model was that someone who could help save our lives would come through. You weren’t who I expected, but— maybe you’re who we need?” He smiles, weakly. “I want to find a way to get you home,” Edward offers with an emotional quaver to his voice. “And maybe— maybe we can all flee here with you? Maybe that’s how we survive, how all those people out there,” Edward motions toward the door, “don’t wind up dead.”

He exhales a sigh then, scrubbing his hands over his face and remaining hunched forward in his chair. “I can— maybe— figure out how to get you home, but I’m not the oracle of Delphi, as much as some people like to think. I need data and… a way to visualize it.” Edward looks at the boxes, then back down to the floor. “Honestly, Elisabeth, I don’t even know where to start. I don’t know where our worlds diverged, and that means I can’t figure out where they connect.”

Then, looking up to her, his eyes are reddened around the edges and glassy with tears. “And if that’s the case, this —” he angrily gestures to the room, but means so much more, “this is all we have to look forward to.”

Elisabeth’s soft huff might have been the start of a bark of laughter, but it never quite makes it. “I understand far better than most that you are not the Edward Ray of my world,” she acknowledges quietly. Her agitation seems less aimed at any one thing than it is simply an anxiety reaction that she can not control.

“Does Coyote Sands mean anything to you? Have you gone back to the 1940s in your research on Evolved?” She holds up a hand. “Just a yes or no for right this second… I need to sort out where to start for you.”

The question elicits a look from Edward, one that has him momentarily staring off into the distance, and then slowly rising from his chair. He looks at Liz as though he doesn’t quite understand, but begins moving to some of the cardboard boxes of files. “That— why does that sound familiar?” For a moment, Liz can see Edward’s ability in action as he looks from one box to the next, assessing the probability as to whether what he’s looking for is in each one. Finally, he stops at one box and starts rifling through manilla folders.

“Mister Woods took these boxes from a building we salvaged, some sort of— government facility he worked for? It’s where K-Mart found the adynomine.” Finally finding what he was looking for, Edward pulls an old dog-eared folder from the box and dusts it off. The front of the folder is labeled PROJECT: ICARUS in red block stamp.

Bringing it over to Liz, Edward lays the folder down and opens it. Inside are black and white photographs of a desert detention camp, wooden cabins, some paperwork with formulas and equations on it, and then something that makes Edward stop. It’s a black and white photograph of men around a table. He narrows his eyes and murmurs, “Adam?” Then, he lays the photograph down on the table in front of Liz with an expectant stare, to see what she sees in it.


“Motherfucker,” Elisabeth breathes out. She reaches out to touch the picture, clearly already familiar with it. “Adam Monroe…” She points to him. “Otto Blum; Wagner, Heinrich I think…” She can’t remember everyone’s names immediately.

Bringing her fingers to her lips, the blonde frowns. “So… the governments — at least the Nazi ones and the United States ones — have known about Evos for a lot longer than anyone knew. Bear in mind that this is all my world stuff,” she cautions, her fingertips trailing upward to rub a spot near her temple as if thinking hard. “There was a relocation center set up in the 1940s for the ones they knew about, and shit went bad wrong. The survivors of that… Arthur Petrelli, his wife Angela, uhm… I can’t think who else right now… decided that no one should ever have to be treated that way again, so they went on to create The Company. Which … is probably where all this comes from,” she gestures to the file and the boxes.

“Their intent was good, but … like a great many other people, once they got power, it went to their heads. And the people who’d been working together were at odds, splitting into factions, and whatever the hell else.” Liz’s eyes trail over the picture and she grimaces. “Uhm…. so fast forward through a lot of political finagling and power brokering in the background of the world, and you come to the fact that they developed a virus with the intent to give non-Evolved people powers. That was the original Shanti virus, if I’m remembering things correctly.” Her brows beetle together over her nose and she seems to be searching her memories for information.

“I know that Monroe, Volken, Sylar….” She flaps her hand for a moment. “Ultimately, to make the long story short, the virus either mutated or WAS mutated and they sent it out. In my world, some of us learned what was coming thanks to some precogs and some putting of hints together, and … we managed to stop it.” Blue eyes come up to him. “We killed the human vectors before they could be exposed to anyone. And destroyed the samples with thermite.”

Making a noise in the back of his throat, Edward struggles to keep up. “So— thermite, and…” he paces around the table, picking up newspaper articles and photographs as he goes, winding his way back to Liz. He lays down a photograph that Liz recognizes as Ethan Holden, along with a newspaper article entitled ATF Discovers Arms Shipment. “This,” Edward taps the article with his finger. “ATF and DHS stopped a shipment of arms being transported across Nevada. This man,” Ethan taps the photo of Ethan, “was one of the drivers. DHS killed him, apparently they were transporting infected people in a hidden compartment in the truck. We… think that’s how the virus got out.”

Edward rummages around, plucking a few more documents out of the boxes. “So, you said you burned samples with thermite?” He lays down DHS surveillance documents, all of them indicating that the government was at least tangentially aware of the Vanguard, but not the extent of the threat they represented. Among the photos, Liz sees the Staten Island Hospital and the Eagle Electric building the Vanguard used as a base of operations.

“Do any of these look familiar to you?” Edward asks, blue eyes alighted to hers. “We know they were important, but not why. If there’s overlap here, it means our point of divergence was further back.”

Elisabeth’s lip curls up in disgust at the picture. “Ethan Holden.” She looks up at him and says calmly, “Yes, the humans in the back of the truck were the vector. And an Evo who could command lightning incinerated the truck on the Narrows bridge before it could complete the crossing.” Her tone doesn’t give away how she feels about the deaths of a bunch of helpless civilians, her demeanor has taken on a more neutral cast.

She studies the other pictures and then asks, “Why would you think the point of divergence is farther back? The timelines would by sheer random chance have relatively minor things that were different but overall be very close, wouldn’t they?” Liz hesitates, rarely willing to offer up information, even back home. “If the concept of a multiverse holds true, some universes would be almost identical except for minor things and perhaps one major thing that split them off from one another, yeah? Then the further we were from what I would call the Prime — my home — the more different things would become, and the further back that split likely happened. So if we did what you’re thinking we did… we only took a half-step sideways in the universe, so to speak, right? What would make you think that the release point of the virus isn’t the point of divergence?”

“It very well could be,” Edward admits, gathering up the articles and photographs into stacks. Something about the display method still isn’t clicking with him. “When this sort of stuff was a handful of post-it notes in my office in Cambridge it was a lot easier to manage…” Once everything is spread out in the little surface area he has, Edward looks back to Liz.

“You’re right about the divergences, the further we are away from the point of origin the less in common we have. That means…” Edward reaches up and scrubs one hand against his mouth, looking down at the photographs. Then, there’s a gentle knock on the door.

“Sorry, am I intruding?” As Edward looks up, there is a ghost staring Elisabeth Harrison in the face. There, healthy and hale, not trapped in a body of iron or driven mad by a future that never will be, is Allen Rickham.

Edward cracks a smile and waves Rickham in. “Mister President, I believe we always have time for you.” Edward looks up to Liz, one brow raised. “I believe Mr. Rickham requires no introductions, yes?” Except this is wildly incorrect, and tracks its way back prior to the virus’ release. If Liz died in the rocket attack on Washington Irving, then she wasn’t there during the December 19th attempt to stop the assassination attempt on Rickham’s life. But Edward was there.

Rickham was grievously wounded during the assassination attempt, by Sylar, and his lasers. But this Rickham shows no sign of the injuries, no scars, no pain. “You must be the new arrival, it’s a pleasure.” Rickham closes the distance into the refuse-packed room and offers a hand up to Liz with a warm, genial smile.

“Allen Rickham, but— please. Just Allen will do. Edward’s got this thing with thinking the Presidency still matters.” Rickham manages a half smile at that, and Edward merely returns his focus to the documents. Then, with a mildly apologetic look, Edward regards Liz.

“I told the President about you,” Edward admits in a feigned search for approval, “I hope you don’t mind.”

As he looks at the pictures and comments on his post-it notes, Elisabeth cannot help a small laugh. “Try strings,” she advises with a resigned sigh. In for a penny, in for a pound, she supposes. “That’s what all of you always used where I’m from.”

She turns to look toward the door and visibly pales. Speechless as Allen Rickham walks into the room, introduces himself, and smiles, Elisabeth’s taking the proffered hand is dictated only by the muscle memory involved in meeting a new body. She pulls her hand back, looks at Edward, and says simply, “You’re right. The branching off point is definitely farther back. He was never President.”

The bombshell is stated in a curiously detached tone, as if Elisabeth is mentally scrambling to rearrange the pieces of the puzzle in her head. She looks at the man who is President here, her jaw torques slightly to the side in a considering manner. “Fuck my life.” It is the sound of a woman pushed well beyond her capacity for surprise, her tone too casual. “I live in a goddamn Chinese curse. It’s really nice to meet you, Allen.” Forcing a small half-smile, the blonde sighs heavily. “Right then…. Give me a moment to backpedal through what I remember from that time frame and rearrange my thoughts a bit here.”

She pauses and looks at Edward. “Do you have a list of the people who are here? I need to see it. Now.” The former Director of FRONTLINE Manhattan just stepped up there for a moment, expecting that Edward fucking Ray better do what she’s asking. Sometimes when you push a woman too far, she starts to push back. Looks like he hit that point, and in what some might consider a typical Liz-move, she makes her decision in a split second.

Somewhere back home, people are facepalming.

“Well, my constituents probably won't be happy to find out I didn’t maintain my lead over Petrelli in…” Rickham dithers, looking helplessly to Edward who is rather abruptly elbow deep into a cardboard box of office supplies.

“A parallel reality,” Edward explains as he makes a soft aha sound and withdraws a ball of crocheting yarn from the box. He gives one testing look at Elisabeth and then goes back into the box, retrieving paper clips, post-it notes, and contemplates a package of glitter and wonders why that and crocheting needles are in a box of office supplies and why Odessa is written on the side.

While Edward busies himself with supplies, Rickham cracks a smile and crosses his arms over his chest. “You've got quite the way with him. I don't think I've seen Edward move that fast in a long time.” Shifting his weight to one foot, he offers a look at Liz that is somewhat assessing. “Edward tells me you used to be a police officer. We could use that kind of structure around here. Not a lot of it left.”

Arms laden with balls of yarn, paperclips, and tape Edward looks up to Liz again. “I can try and see when we last took a census. It's been a low priority. Give me —” he looks at the stacks of newspapers, “actually you know what, why don't you stay here and give me a hand putting this all up. We might be able to make more headway.”

Rickham cracks a smile, nodding once as he looks from Liz to Edward and back. “I'll see what I can do to help out. You two do what you need, and if there's anything you're missing, I'll put the word out.”

Edward looks up, one brow raised. “See if K-Mart found any coffee?” His expression shifts to one of subtle excitement.

“It's going to be a long night.”

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