Everything You Aren't


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Scene Title Everything You Aren't
Synopsis Pinehearst comes to recruit one of the travelers for their research into Project Looking Glass.
Date October 8, 2013

The Nevis Laboratory on the campus of Columbia University rests in the looming shadow of St. John's Cathedral. As one of Manhattan's premiere landmarks, the looming church casts an imposing shadow across the upper west side, and on a crisp fall afternoon its shadow feels longer and darker than any other time of the year.

But inside Columbia University, the crisp chill of autumn is kept at bay behind tall windows that overlook the urban splendor of a revitalized Manhattan. By one of those windows in Nevis Labs, Magnes Varlane looks out over a city that is both familiar and unfamiliar in the same moment. It's been years since the cataclysm on Mount Natazhat, and every day memory of what home is like feels increasingly fleeting. The overlap of this world and it's comforts, of the possibilities of life lived to its fullest feels more appetizing than the dystopian nightmare Magnes left behind.

They ran from the virus, to this place. The moral quandry in this situation, is would it be right to stay here? To flee a dystopian future where he is persecuted for a world not his own? Or would staying here be an injustice to those left behind in the world he originated from?

Objectively, there is no right or wrong answer.

Columbia University

Upper West Side, Manhattan

October 8th, 2013

3:18 pm

It's been a year since Magnes recovered partial research belonging to Michelle Cardinal from the walls of her former dormatory, a year trying to study and break down the physics behind her research, but every step of the way has been a hurdle. For all that Magnes is bright, for all that he is a fast learner, Michelle LeRoux was either an unparalelled genius, or a stark-raving madwoman.

There's not enough data in the formulas Magnes has to fully reproduce what she's done, and the theories of quantum mechanics they are built off of are beyond what scientists of 2013 have accomplished, let alone scientists in the forefront of quantum mechanics discovery in the early 1980s. Th eone thing that Magnes has become certain of in the last year, is that her death was a tragic loss for the advancement of human understanding of the universe.

But not all tragedies are irreversible.

"I hope I'm not interrupting anything," calls an unfamiliar voice from the door at the entrance of the lab. Stirring Magnes from his thoughts is a man a couple decades Magnes' senior with curly, salt-and-pepper haired, wearing a brown tweed jacket, crisp blue undershirt, and a crimson bowtie. "You're Ness Parker, right?"

The gray-haired man tentatively steps into the lab, cutting a direct path around tables toward Magnes. "I'm Richard Schwenkman, I was hoping we might be able to have a chat?" The name is immediately recognizable, one of Michelle's co-creators of the Looking Glass listed in the information he'd uncovered last year in Kansas. "But uh, please, just call me Rich.”

When he says his name, Magnes stares at him for a long moment from his chair, gripping his armrests. He's in a lab coat, because he's in a lab and that's how Magnes tends to think, with his buttoned up white shirt and black tie. But, of all things, he has on a pair of jeans.

It's difficult to think of what to say to the man, or how to interpret his sudden arrival. "I'm Ness Parker, yeah." he finally answers, then takes a deep breath.

Inhale, exhale.

"What brings you here? I mean, I'm sure you're not here for me." because he's just a student researcher who barely has any experience. Unless Tamara added some experience?

“I assure you I am,” Rich affirms, making his way to the desk Magnes is sitting at and offering out a hand to shake. “I'm actually here, officially, on behalf of the Pinehearst company.” Brows raised, Rich waits with hand outstretched in offering

Magnes' eyes narrow, suddenly on edge a bit, but then he reaches out to take Rich's hand. "Why would Pinehearst want to talk to me?" His heart is racing, but he tries to keep his demeanor cool. This is one of those things that Tamara mentioned, probably.

This is dangerous.

“A few reasons,” Rich admits, voice quiet even though the lab is empty for the afternoon. “One, because after a concentrated search we've discovered you're the identical duplicate of one Magnes J. Varlane,” Rich shrugs at that, as if it weren't a big deal. “Second, the team I run has been researching a quantum-theory related event that occurred on November 8th, 2011 that I think you'd be able to shed considerable light on.” Only now does Rich start counting on his fingers. “Third, we’re fairly certain you may have come here from a parallel reality, and we'd like to talk with you about your experience and — if you'd like — help you get home.”

When he seems finished, Rich raises one brow, but then he remembers a final point. “Oh ah, and you're the only other person who is as interested in Michelle’s last research as I am.” The expression on Rich’s face is still incidentally amused, like he caught Magnes cheating on an exam, not being an illegal transplant from another dimension.

"Shit…" Magnes knows he can't hide anything now, but he can still be careful. "Wait, November 8th?" he asks, sounding surprised. "That… Jesus Christ…"

"I don't know what Arthur Petrelli plans to do. In all honesty, my plan was to avoid him at all costs. I have no interest in being his enemy but I also have no interest in helping with whatever he plans to do. This is not me choosing sides, this is me saying… all of this dimensional travel stuff is a threat to every universe, including this one."

He has to drink some water, his nerves are entirely tense. "When I'm out of here, I plan to shut and lock the door behind me, and hopefully find a way to stop anyone from doing it again."

"But I will tell you some things, enough so that we're left alone. I think I can understand what people probably think, what I would think, if people suddenly came from another universe." he says, with at least a sympathetic tone. "November 8th is why I ended up displaced to begin with. I'm trying to get home. Someone from the future used a machine, it broke, or more accurately, we broke it to try and stop him, and if what you're telling me is correct, that machine seems to have affected multiple worlds."

"How I ended up displaced is a result of that machine breaking, among other incredibly random factors. And, if I'm right about how these worlds work, you do not want to blindly open some kind of door from here." He looks dead serious at that, leaning in with his hand firmly planted against the desk. "There's someone we can't risk letting in. If someone screws around with this technology and lets him into this universe, this world is doomed. My interest is in getting home, in figuring out beyond a shadow of a doubt how to get home, and then hope to god I can find some way to keep everyone in their own world."

Arms crossed over his chest, Rich looks fascinated more so than concerned by everything Magnes has to say. There's a heavy dose of skepticism too, evident in the raise of one eyebrow, but he believes more than he doesn't. Rich knows how weird the world is.

“That's all fair,” Rich agrees, inclining his head into a conceding nod. “Truth be told, Mr. Petrelli doesn't want to be your enemy either. He's a peacemaker, which I think you might have already known just from looking around you. What he is interested in is protecting the progress we've made and the world it's built from dangerous outside influences.”

Rich laces a bit, looking back over at Magnes as he does. “Your arrival here didn't go unnoticed. We have sensors designed to detect breaches like the one that happened in November. That incident opened our eyes. But what we weren't able to do was figure out who came here, or how many of you there are.” Circling back to the desk, Rich bobs his head from side to side is a gesture of uncertainty. “Truth be told, that much doesn't really matter to me.”

“You aren't the first person to come from another world, but Mr. Petrelli has interests in insuring that you're the last. Like you said, technology like this is incredibly dangerous.” That much Rich witnessed first-hand many years ago.

“What I'm proposing is a partnership. Pinehearst lost a facility in Alaska on November 8th, and hundreds of employees with it. We want to find them and bring them home to their families.” Rich unfolds his arms and tucks his hands into his pockets, shrugging helplessly. “I don't actually know if that's possible. But I'd like it to be. I'm sure Arthur would agree with me that we'd also be interested in getting you all home, because… this isn't that place.” It's a factual statement, rather than something truly dismissive.

“I've been following your research here, ever since you popped on our radar after the incident in KU. You're smart, you're motivated, and most importantly you've done this before.” Rich raises his brows, curious to how that was accomplished but not voicing it. “I'd really like for you to join my team. Come to Pinehearst and work on the new Looking Glass. We're not far off from a functional prototype, and thanks to what you uncovered in KU we have an idea on how to focus the lens as well.” There, Rich reveals that even after all their hard work, Pinehearst found a way to get the frequency-detection information.

“I know there's more specifics we’d have to hammer out, but…” Rich offers a hand to Magnes across his desk. “What do you say? Are you up for some weird science?

"Arthur Petrelli…" Magnes closes his eyes, taking a breath, really trying to think about this. "I'm not interested in stopping what this world is, in taking Arthur Petrelli's power away. I don't want life for my friends here ruined. There are people here who can't go home, they have to live here, their home isn't my home. We saved them, their world is dead."

He wanted to keep that to himself, but it's clear, from what Rich is saying, that this is vital information. "They have lives, they're living those lives in peace, they aren't going to ruin anything."

Crossing his hands, he closes his eyes for a brief moment, before looking over at Rich again. "I know what kind of man Arthur Petrelli is, so you don't have to sell me on the utopia he's built. I'm sure you're terrified of him. We don't need to talk on the pretense that Arthur Petrelli isn't an extremely dangerous man."

"I have no way of knowing that he won't use this technology to harm people in my world, or some other world. I'm fine with him staying in his world, and I don't want to stay here anymore than he wants me here. But giving him the technology to suddenly go to any world he wants… it puts us all in danger." He stares at Rich, dead serious, very much trying to gauge the man's reaction. "I want you to tell me something. What is your fear of Arthur Petrelli worth?"

The topic is suddenly shifted, his nerves calming, the tiger blood of his father suddenly coursing through his veins. "David Cardinal, Michelle LeRoux, Edward Ray. These were all people that you knew, they were your contemporaries. And if you knew them, that means you aren't ignorant, and you can't feign ignorance. You know the gravity of Arthur Petrelli getting this technology, and I want to know if you care what that means. Talk to me as if I know more than I should."

Rich looks down at the floor, brows furrowed and lips pursed to the side. For a moment he's silent in thought, pacing away from the desk and circling the office. Eventually, he comes back around to the table and draws in a deep breath that escapes as a quiet sigh. “Back in 82, the world lost the single most brilliant and… amazing woman it had ever had. Not because of her experiment, but because of the people who feared it.”

Looking to the windows that show the distant cathedral, Rich continues. “The Company moved on us, tried to silence us, and Michelle died trying to escape from them.” He looks back to Magnes, jaw tense. “They wiped her from my memories, droppedmbe off in Norway, and left me there with a false history of the previous five years. They stole my life, my research, and the people I cared about.”

“Arthur undid all of that.” Rich says flatly. “He destroyed the Company, he returned my memories long before he ever needed my knowledge of Looking Glass. He upended the chaos of this world and put an end to the divisiveness. He…” Rich quotes an Iron Man movie. “He privatized world peace.” There's a crack of a smile there, and he unfolds his arms

“I'm not afraid of Arthur Petrelli, because… yes, he's dangerous. Yes, he's powerful. But look at the results?” Rich motions outside, to what should be the ruins of Midtown. “Magnes, you're no different than I am. The Company has erased your memories, hidden the truth, and lied to you about who and what you are. And if you already know the truth, then you know what Arthur’s intentions are.”

But then, Rich runs a hand through his hair. “The one thing you're mistaken on, is that we need your help.” He looks back up to Magnes. “Looking Glass will be finished whether you're participating in its completion or not. The question is, will you help us make sure we do it right?” There's a brow raised at that. “You can be an advocate for your people, for the… immigrants seeking asylum here.”

“Arthur wants to meet you, personally.” Rich motions back to Magnes in one hand. “Think about that opportunity. Think about who your enemies really are.”

"I know what I might be." Magnes answers without offering extra information, swallowing hard.

He looks around, recalling telling Tamara to show up if he was ever about to destroy the world.

She doesn't seem to be here yet.

She would have already been here.

"You're right, I think this will be done with or without me. I'm apprehensive because, I'll be honest, I've made decisions that have affected entire countries, and even the world, and I'm very concerned with making the wrong decision." He tries to think about his next decision, he goes quiet for a long moment.

He has a child to consider, Elaine, Elisabeth, Isabelle, the other refugees. And he knows, very well, that if he doesn't do this, they'll all be in danger, they might be threatened.

Not agreeing to this could be considered an antagonistic action.

There's a long sigh, and then he leans forward, holding out his hand. "I'll meet with Arthur Petrelli. On the condition that the refugees, and my family, including Elisabeth, are left out of this."

Rich grimaces helplessly, accompanying the expression by a shrug. “That’s… I mean I don’t even have the authority to make that kind of promise, but I’m sure Arthur will listen to logic and reason. Look,” he says with a little more confidence, “let’s take this one step at a time. Right now, nobody is going anywhere, and we’re just trying to figure out what’s going on. If you can explain to Arthur what happened, I’m sure he’ll see reason.”

Then, with a shrug of his shoulders Rich adds, “as far as making bad choices go? That’s what a team is for, to check each other’s work and problem solve before we act. You’re making the right choice, coming to see us. Coming to talk to Arthur. People can only run for so long, and a rational conversation is always a better solution.”

Extending his hand to Magnes again, Rich adds one note of finality to the negotiation. “Michelle ran. It didn’t work out for her either.”

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