Daedalus Demands


alison_icon.gif zimmerman_icon.gif

Scene Title Daedalus Demands
Synopsis With her health rapidly failing, Alison Meier seeks comfort from her longtime colleague. Lewis Zimmerman has other things in mind.
Date July 17, 2009

Pinehearst Headquarters, Basement Level 4

There's something to be said for the soothing quality of music, the way that something as simple as violin and cello against the tinkling notes of a piano can quell even the most violent of emotional storms. for Lewis Zimmerman, this has always been the case. Into his later years, classical music has become his crutch, something he relies upon to clear his head and calm his mind. Even more so, now, that he can see the end of his life approaching.

It is with a quiet sigh that he sets down a dry erase marker, stepping back from a whiteboard marked with a copy of the full Formula. Crossing his arms, Zimmerman's teeth tug gently at his lower lip, brows furrowed. Taking a step forward, he gently smudges out a corner of the complex, then faintly smiles.

"You— you figured it out, didn't you?" The woman's voice behind Lewis causes him to turn, slowly, one gray brow raised. There, standing in the doorway of the prison of a lab he has been confined to, Zimmerman gives a long and quiet stare to his assistant. Alison, for her worth, looks to be on her last legs. Dark circles around her eyes and a pallid coloration to her skin are unevenly covered by her makeup. Bloodshot eyes and a twitch in her right hand indicates that the wasting degeneration of her body is reaching its final stages.

He says nothing to her, only turns back to the Formula and pulls the cap off of his marker again. A few steps forward, and Lewis scribbles in the remainder, turning to watch Alison with an askance stare as she slowly makes her way to come and stand at Zimmerman's side. "You… you've known all along, haven't you?" She looks up to the old man, hands shaking as she tries to steady one by holding the back of a nearby chair. For a moment, anger hangs on Alison's face, brows lowering and jaws clenching.

"Not right away," Zimmerman says quietly, looking back to the finished Formula, "but sooner than now." Always misleading with his words. Tucking his hands into his pockets, the old man offers a lazy smile to Alison, one that quickly turns bittersweet as he sees the tears welling up in her eyes, and the way her hands ball into fists at her side.

"You— you could have— " She swallows, angrily, shoulders rolling forward before she breaks into a brief coughing fit, one hand covering her mouth. A thin line of blood trickles from the side of her mouth as she pulls her hand away, smudged against all too pale skin by her thumb. "You could have saved yourself," she hisses out through her teeth, "saved me." Betrayal is evident in her eyes, in the crack of her voice, in the fear she finds eating her alive just as her disease does.

Nodding slowly, Zimmerman reaches down to pull up the eraser, bringing it to the board as he begins to wipe away the completed Formula as if it were never there. Alison chokes out a strangled yelp, reaches up with a shaky hand to try and stop him, but her effort is half-hearted and his desire to clean the slate away is far stronger.

"I could have," he finally admits, reaching out one weathered hand to lightly brush across Alison's cheek. "But then, what penance would I have paid for all of the lives lost in search of this Philosopher's Stone?" Poetry is, for once, not lost on Alison in Zimmerman's literary allusions. His hand falls away from her cheek, and he turns his back to her, walking across the lab.

"Arthur was the one who sealed the Formula away forever. He was afraid what would happen to the world if it fell into the wrong hands. He realized — perhaps too late — the price the world would pay for man's ambitions." He stops, head tilting down as his eyes fall shut. "Arthur changed with the world, in a way, he is as scarred as the bomb scarred our society. He feels threatened by change, by revelation. Now, he is blinded by fear and inconsolable rage that he lashes out at everything around him." Zimmerman looks over his shoulder to Alison, one brow raised inquisitively.

"What kind of man would I be, my Fraulein, if I let his ambitions further stain things?" To Zimmerman's rhetoric, Alison has no response — not a verbal one anyway. She comes to stand at Zimmerman's side again, looking much like a lost child. "I saw what blind ambition and fear did to you, and I know what it would do to Arthur. My conscience would not abide that sacrifice, no matter what world it would have built. Too many lives have already been lost in search of this Formula…"

Alison reaches out with one hand, fingers curling around the white sleeve of Zimmerman's labcoat. "Ours will be the last two, to ensure it dies with us." That, there, the finality and inescapable arrival of death is what pushes Alison over the edge. She lurches forward, choking and then gagging as a wave of sickness overcomes her, tears finally beginning to shed as she rests her head against Lewis' shoulder, fingers tugging at his sleeve as she starts to uncontrollably sob.

Lewis is no machine, no heartless automaton, and the emotion in his eyes — while restrained — shows clear enough for a man of his posture. Tightness at the corners of his eyes, a tense swallow and silence is all of the grieving Zimmerman will afford himself. "I don't want to die…" Alison rasps out, her face pressed into Zimmerman's sleeve, "I don't want to die…"

Turning towards Alison's whimpering form, Zimmerman wraps an arm around her shoulder and draws her head to his chest, raking his fingers through her hair. He can't comfort her with lies, can't tell her that maybe she'll survive the degeneration of her body. He knows the truth, he's known it since Alison forced that same disease onto him. "Everyone dies," Zimmerman says into her hair, resting his mouth on the top of her head, "what matters in the end, is how one chooses to die."

Her crying quiets, pride stronger than fear as she chokes back her tears, stops pawing at Zimmerman's jacket like a lost kitten. Blearily, Alison looks up to the old man, to her mentor, but there's no understanding in her eyes. There's a blank, empty stare of confusion, and one that Lewis Zimmerman chooses to fill with his own variety of truth.

"We're going to die, Alison." He squeezes her shoulder as he affirms this truth, "but I need you to tell me something, and be honest about it?" One gray brow rises slowly as he watches his disciple. "Do you want to die like this?" He motions with a free hand around the lab, then gently lets that palm come to her cheek, tilting her head up so that she's looking squarely at him. "Or do you want to try and make amends, for all of the terrible things you have done?"

"Do you want to die a hero?"

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