Choose A Side


goodman_icon.gif lawrence_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Scene Title Choose A Side
Synopsis When the Company lays a trap for Roger Goodman, Roger turns to the one thing he is armed with that can make a difference — information.
Date May 17, 2009

Warehouse 13, Jew Jersey Coast

"A military operation involves deception."

A particularly chilly breeze for this late into May comes off of the Hudson river, blowing chill across the abandoned warehouses and storage facilities of New Jersey's industrial harbor. With the sun setting in the west, long and dark shadows reach out to extend the fingers of cold into the dead and lifeless gray stone and metalwork of a neighborhood two years abandoned. On the other side of the Hudson, the jagged and broken skyline of Midtown Manhattan is the frame by which the decaying picture of New Jersey's coastal regions are defined.

"Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent."

Just outside of Building 13, just a block away from the wharves, Veronica Sawyer waits in the unseasonably chilly weather, standing in the last vestiges of warm sunlight that cut between the two story tall warehouses all around her. It is a covert meeting thaw drew Sawyer out, a meeting to rendezvous with Roger Goodman about discussing ideologies, about discussing the future. But behind the painted mask of interest, there lies a layer of deception on Veronica's behalf.

"Though effective, appear to be ineffective."

A block away with the sun at his back, Agent Lawrence Cook keeps Veronica's positioned trained in his heightened sight, and through the scope of his sniper rifle at his perch, it isn't long before a flash of violet light erupts between two buildings, accompanying the arrival of a tall and rail-thin man in a jet black suit. Half in shadow by the corner of the warehouse, the loud crackling snap of Roger's arrival has the sublety of a car door slamming.

Sun Tzu, the Art of War

"Agent Sawyer," Goodman's voice is hushed as he takes a few slow steps out from the alleyway, adjusting his ink black necktie with one hand. "I believe we have a great deal to discuss, and I'm very thankful to see you here…" His dark eyes narrow, "…how have you been?"

Veronica has her hands in her pockets, huddled for warmth. Her dark eyes follow Goodman's approach, and she nods at his words. "I've been better," she says with a slight smirk lifting the corner of her mouth, and a shrug that lifts just the opposite shoulder. "The Company's in chaos, of course," she says cautiously, as if testing the waters, as if making sure she doesn't say too much that might offend him, as if she's testing out to see if he's on the side she thinks he is, and the side she wants to be on.

Lawrence waits. He waits on a rooftop, bundled against the chilly breeze. He dresses practically. Sitting on the rooftop behind the cover of a duct, sniper rifle - top of the line - braced and ready to fire, he watches Veronica and Goodman below, blue eyes bright, seeing better than possible even with military scopes. They go to ten times magnification. Lawrence goes to eleven.

The wind flutters the collar of his jacket; in his head, he runs the math for wind resistance, recalculating the trajectory. He is good at math.

Because you're an accountant.

"Of course," comes the echo from Roger as he paces around Veronica, "the Company is in chaos, when you consider how far it has degraded from what it began as." Narrowing dark eyes, Roger's posture stiffens some, head cocking to the side. "I figure by now, there's quite a bit of shock coming through the ranks about what happened to me. I'm even hazarding to guess that you're being watched, since you were one of the agents I had brought in from an outside branch."

Pursing his lips, Roger looks Veronica over for a time, then closes his eyes. "I had wanted to get you involved with this sooner, Agent Sa— " He really can't use that term in a positive light any more, "Veronica." Despite not having jacket, Roger doesn't seem to be affected much by the chilly temperature as he paces around Agent Sawyer, completing a full circle.

"I was hoping that Agent Winters would have talked to you in advance, made this… easier." He looks to the side, down to the encroaching shadow, then slowly back to the agent. "But I guess there is no time like the present, to let skeletons out of the closet, is there?"

Veronica shakes her head slowly. "I… don't know why he didn't trust me, except that maybe I've been an agent longer than he has, and was new to New York," she says quietly. "And we haven't been on the same detail, as you know, for a while… no chance I guess for him to tell me what's going on." She raises a brow and tilts her head curious. "But you know I trust you," she says, her whiskey-brown eyes on his darker gaze. "If you tell me what you're doing… I think I'd like to join you. And if you don't take me in, you can wipe my mind free of this conversation. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?" She has that wistful, eager to please expression on her face that has made her a favorite of so many bosses in the past — though probably not the one before her this moment.

"This discussion is very much about trust, Miss Sawyer." Roger glances down to the ground, then back up to Veronica. Removing his hands from his pockets, Roger lets them fold behind his back, shoulders relaxing and a troubled look coming over his dark eyes. "Does the name Montgomery Biard ring a bell to you?"

Roger remains silent, watching the young agent's reaction. Through his scope, Agent Cook has yet to see Veronica's signal, the tell-tale sign for the shot to be taken. "When I said we have a great deal to talk about, I was not overstating the facts." Suddenly, issues of black or white begin to fade into gray.

Lawrence shifts, watching them talk, aimed at Goodman. Right between the eyes.

This is easier when it's tin cans, isn't it?

Lawrence sets his jaw, wills himself to wait without thinking. It doesn't work.

You're an accountant. It's easier with tranquilizer darts. This is a person. This is a bullet, not a dart, and it has to kill. Kill in one shot. He's a teleporter.

One chance.

Veronica knows it's in her file, somewhere. It's how they recruited her, after all, how they kept her out of the clutches of the FBI or the CIA when she could have gone to whatever agency out of college she could. "Of course," she says, her husky voice a touch quieter than usual, lacking its usual warmth and confidence. "What does Biard have to do with this?" There's perhaps the slightest tremor in her voice as she looks up at Goodman. She knows Lawrence is watching for her signal, but now Goodman has her spellbound. But Lawrence can also take the shot when it's clear, when he feels it's in their best interest, in case he feels Sawyer has stalled too long or lost her nerve. It could come at any time — as long as Vee is clear and Goodman in the sights of the sniper above.

A purple flash and a haze of paper scraps swirling into the air blurs over Roger's hand, until all of the tattered remains of some object reconstitute themselves into a manilla folder and stapled documents. A haze of lavender smoke wisps away from the folio, and it is offered up to Veronica. She had heard from reports and Roger's dossier that his teleportation was able to work on a molecular level to break down objects, but to reassemble them too… that wasn't in his dossier.

As her focus turns to the folder, she can see it's tab reads, Biard, Montomery — Field Agent, Costa Verde CA. Roger's thin brow rise slowly as he holds the folder out to the brunette. "Now, Miss Sawyer, we come to the issue of trust once more. Who to trust, and why. Much about who you are and what you know, is not as it seems on the surface."

Her brow furrows and she actually ducks from that swirl of purple and paper, before she realizes what Goodman is doing. She releases a nervous chuckle, before looking down at the folder, taking it from Goodman's hand. "But… he … an agent? That doesn't make sense…" she murmurs, reaching up to tuck an errant strand of dark hair behind one ear. "I don't understand," she says, as she opens the folder, to see what is within.

Watching Veronica open the folder, Roger remains silent. The first page contains a file photograph of Agent Biard, along with a dossier on his telekinetic ability and his service with the Company, dating back to his recruitment in 1985. The following pages indicate assignments Biard had undertaken, first being transferred from the Odessa, Texas facility to Costa Verde, California. It is in this list of operations, that an event in 2000 catches Veronica's eye. While on assignment tracking a target listed as Sprague, Theodore for bag and tag, an altercation with the target went awry, and Agent Biard was forced to unleash his ability in self-defense, however one civilian casualty resulted from the bag and tag of Theodore Sprague.

The file coldly lists the name as Keith Sawyer.

The file continues to describe how Biard made his escape from the hospital, and his tracks were covred by the Company. He was given a new name and a new identity, and moved to the Chicago, Illinois branch of the Company for further work under the alias Albert Paulson.

"I worked with Agent Paulson in Chicago," Goodman finally says in a grim tone as Veronica moves past that page, "I only became aware recently after perusing Company files that he was another man previously. The agent who recruited you, James Moore," Goodman's focus goes distant, looking at the warehouse behind Veronica, "is registered with the ability of hypnotic persuasion. The dossier on your recruitment, the one I was reading when i first met you, indicates that you were implanted with suggestions to join the Company." Dark eyes narrow slowly, and Roger's tone becomes a bit more sharp. "Your talents were not something the Company would not allow to go to 'waste' with you in an official branch of the government." After a moment he relents some, turning his head away from Veronica. "As I said, this is about trust."

Veronica shakes her head a little with disbelief, her face a bit pale. If this is true — her entire life after her father's death is based on a lie. On a series of lies. A mountain of lies. That Moore was a Persuasive, that doesn't surprise her, now in retrospect. But what the police told her and her mother about the reason her father was killed — even with all the years of lying to cover up her own tracks, this surprises her. Her lips part, and she looks up with furrowed brows. "When did you find this out? And how long have you been working both sides?" she asks in a whisper. She stands on the razor's edge, a sharp cold place where trust and distrust is blurred on either side of her.

"I discovered this information three days ago, along with other intelligence prior to a confrontation with Director Dalton. One she let me…" Roger raises one thin brow slowly, "walk away from." There's an indication there, that his actions in the Company either go deeper than first realized, or that his reasoning may not entirely be at fault. "I've been working both sides as it were, for some time now, since my benefactor brought to light information I was not aware of myself."

Folding his hands behind his back again, Goodman's eyes close to a half-lidded state. "You aren't the only agent, Miss Sawyer, that the Company has pulled the wool over the eyes of. Agent Winters, you know, has a history and a life that he was entirely unaware of until our meeting. It is the way the Company works: Take what it needs, and discard the rest as so much chaffe in the name of the greater good."

Taking a half step towards Veronica, Goodman tilts his head to the side, dark eyes leveled at the agent. "The question now stands, which side are you on?" One brow stays arched as Roger poses the question, watching Veronica intently.

It takes a moment of scrutiny for Roger to assess whether or not he should be so forward. But after his encounter with Sabra, it seems that there are those who know what is going on. "His name," dark eyes close partway, "is Arthur Petrelli. One of the twelve founders of the Company, one that had an attempt made on his life when he discovered one of the darkest secrets that the Company echelon has been keeping quiet."

Leaning away from Veronica, Goodman tilts his head to the side as he looks her up and down. "I believe he and our organization would have much to offer you, Veronica. What do you say?" A dark brow rises inquisitively, as Roger awaits Veronica's answer.

They keep talking. Lawrence watches with interest as papers and purple smoke fly, coalesce into a file Veronica then reads. Where's the signal?

This will be the fourth man you've killed, that irritating voice reminds him. Lawrence's voice sounds a lot better in his head, but he can get a glimmer of understanding as to why many people hate to hear him speak in moments like this. It's taking too long. Why isn't she giving the signal?

Maybe it's a doppelganger, a duplicate. Maybe he's saying something the Company wouldn't want her to hear. It's a hesitation. You'll probably have to report it. You should shoot. You should shoot now.

His trigger finger holds steady.

Wait for the signal.

Those are instructions. Lawrence always follows instructions. When he got a Lego set, he always sorted the bricks out first into little piles and followed the instructions very, very carefully. If the set was a car, he made a car. If the set was a space ship, he made a space ship. He never tinkered. He never tried to come up with anything on his own. Today is no different. The instructions were to fire when signaled.

Veronica nods slowly. "How do we do this, then, Goodman?" she asks. "You know that The Company won't let either of us go that easily," she says; her hand reaches up to wrap the lapels of her jacket closer around her neck, as if she's suddenly chilly — the signal to Lawrence on the roof. Goodman might believe he's telling the truth, but even so… it doesn't justify what he did to Minea, or what he would probably do to her, if she had not been the one to come to him first. She'll sort out the truth later.

There it is.

Unless she got cold and forgot and you're making a mistake—

Instructions. Lawrence pulls the trigger.

Roger Goodman never hears what he's waiting for coming. He never knows what hit him, but in his mind it is the only way out of the situation he's in. What happened to Minea Dahl made Roger realize, that the future Arthur Petrelli was building, was not the one he and Johnathan Carmichael wanted.

And so, Roger goes on ahead to tell Johnathan the bad news.

And like that, the future changes.

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