Foregone Conclusion


f_edward_icon.gif f_niles_icon.gif niles_icon.gif

Scene Title Foregone Conclusion
Synopsis Niles is presented with a choice, which is not really a choice at all. It never is, when you're dealing with Edward Ray.
Date May 10, 2009

Textile Factory 17, Red Hook, Brooklyn

One of mankind's greatest desires has always been the chance to rewrite personal histories. That insatiable thirst to right past wrongs, to correct missteps, or to begin again from a fresh start…

The dust that collects on the upper floor of Textile Factory 17's administrative tower is thick, tossed up into the air by the motion of footsteps coming up the old and creaking steps. Crumbling brickwork and cracker plaster greets Niles Wight on his way up to the tower's top floor, the high point overlooking much of Brooklyn where Edward Ray has spent much of his time since his arrival in 2009.

What if we were presented with that option? To make a choice to change, to have a second shot at life? How would we do things differently? Is our hindsight always perfect, or would a second throw at the same life only be met with the same end result?

The door at the top of the spiral staircase opens with a groaning creak into a spacious circular room that is strewn with a veritable spiderweb of strings. These threads connect to each other and the exposed framework in the tower room, some connect to rolling blackboards, others are simply pinned to the wooden floor. It almost looks as disorganized and tangled as the broken looms downstairs, until Niles' eyes focus on the attachments of newspaper clippings, magazine articles and photographs all dangling from the individual threads like Christmas decorations.

Would we be able to prevent ourselves from becoming who we are? And if we did, what then would become of us? Perhaps it is in the difficulty of finding answers to these questions that prevents mankind from changing their history.

Navigating the strings, Edward looks like a man possessed, working a pair of large scissors to cut away whole sections of threads and articles, letting them fall flat to the floor with a self-assured smile curled across his lips. At the creak of the door, Edward looks up with wide eyes, as still as a deer in headlights until dawning recognition of Niles' face comes over him. "Niles, Niles," he murmurs, "it's good to see you." The latter part is clearer, more meant for Niles than himself, unlike the other muttered mantra of a name.

The question then becomes not if we can change our pasts if presented with the option…

Tucking the scissors into a pocket in his vest, Edward ducks under the strings and begins navigating through them to meet Niles' at the doorway. "I heard about the success at Primatech today, April did a fantastic job." He steps around a stack of newspapers and old magazines, "We're so closed to being done with all this messy work." Edward's brows rise, a hand held out in offer of a greeting to Niles. "I was hoping you and I could talk."

…but should we?

Niles hasn't been around the textile factory very often. That's really understandable, given that the time-travelers aren't really… buddies. That and the fact that he gets the sense they will blame him for running afoul of the authorities. Precogs, though, messy. No one should know the future unless they've had to live through it. He runs a hand along the old wooden door, noting the scratched sign that says 'Manager'. Somehow, it fits.

"Doctor Ray, you're something of a hermit. I have to admit, I did expect a little bit more… direction when it came to the business of altering the future." He moves in casually, hands in his pockets, eyes to the strings. He flashes a toothy smile to the doctor. "Are we almost done? Well, here I was worried I hadn't been doing much good. And it turns out we're almost done. Fabulous."

They say British humor is dry, but there's the sense that Niles doesn't actually find it funny. "My young self is free of that place, then?"

There's a grin that come sfrom Edward, even as his eyes track down to the unshaken hand. Edward's fingertips rub together, and he wipes his palm off on his slacks and turns back towards the strings. "Direction isn't necessary, Niles. Well, not in your case anyway." Focus returns to the strings as Edward removes the scissors from his vest, beginning to cut more strings down from the web. "You and the others have been doing a remarkable job acting on your own accord, which is largely why I left it up to you. Personal vendettas, desires, hopes…" he turns to look over his shoulder to Niles. "Those are all such powerful things, and more likely to be adhered to than the orders of a stranger."

Clipping another string, Edward continues to weave through the web. "Now that Nathan has assumed his position as President, we're only a few steps away from the total prevention of the future we came from… which," there's a furrow of his brows as he peers up over the top of the thick frames of his glasses, "brings me to why I asked you to come here in person."

Motioning with one hand, Edward directs Niles' attention to a snub-nosed revolver on the circular table at the center of the room. There's stacks of newspapers surrounding it, shadows cast from them half obscuring the weapon. "We did recover your counterpart from Primatech today, which means he's all yours to handle." An expectant, wide-eyed stare is leveled at Niles, "I figure you'll be wanting to get on with your own life, yes?" The look lingers for too long a time, "We're almost finished, but you're done, Niles." Edward snips another string between words, sending more articles fluttering to the floor, "Congratulations, you're free to go live your life."

Edward passes off a faint smile and moves towards another set of strings, "April has your younger self restrained in a truck outside. You can use the revolver and I'll make sure that the body gets cleanly disposed of. Reed will ensure that your criminal record is cleansed as promptly as possible, thank you for your aid, Niles."

Just like that?

And the simplicity of that makes Niles suspicious. He rests his hands in his pockets and steps further into the room, taking a moment to observe the strings, observe the images. "Are you telling me that everything I've done has been in your plan? What about the people on my tail, mmn? Reed can't erase the drive of the police."

He goes silent for a moment, his jaw working back and forth. While he listens to Edward's words, his gaze falls on the revolver Edward directed him to. Then his head snaps around to face the doctor, "You expect me to kill myself? Now why would I do that? My life was taken ten years ago, there no getting that back. I came here for revenge, to make it so that he…" he points in a vague direction, indicating the outside, "…would not be condemned to my fate."

Niles starts to pace and a hand goes up to pull through his hair. He turns on the spot and looks Edward in the eyes. He smiles, but it's a smile that doesn't move beyond his lips. "I have to admit, this is feeling quite anticlimactic. I come back here, kill a few people… and then that's it? How do you know we've changed anything?"

Edward casts a smile along a line of strings, Exactly what were you expecting, coming back here Niles? What were you planning on doing once the bloodletting stopped?" One brow rises slowly as Edward watches the younger man. "I brought everyone back here at a chance to regain their lives, and all you've done is carve a bloody path across the city." There's a motion of one hand towards a window, "You created such pandemonium and chaos that you've started to divert the stream from its course, you put things on the right path. It all starts with you, Niles. You're not the coup de grace, you're not significant enough to history."

There's an earnestness to Edward's voice, "You're just a murderer, and one that history winds up forgetting. Now, though, you have a chance to be something else." He eyes the gun, "All you have to do is take one more life, and all of that is yours." Pursing his lips together, Edward looks back to Niles. "You did exactly as I had hoped, but— that's it…" taking a few, slow steps around the table, Edward's eyes remain transfixed on the young man. "But if you aren't going to take over for yourself — make the proper changes — what are you going to do?"

"You asked me to kill. To draw their attention. To make a bloody mess. And now you're saying that's not what you wanted me to do?" Niles steps towards Edward, his eyes bright with a clear sort of anger. He is not a man of blind rage - that's what makes him dangerous. He is holding back the monster inside him, driving it like a mad charioteer. There is always intelligence, caluculation, thought behind his actions. Murder is not an act of blind hedonism, but a carefully controlled exercise in power.

"What else would you have me be, Ray? A child-killer?" Never mind that Thea was no older than his young self. And he killed her without moral issues. "I have no life to come back to. If I let my younger self go on with things, he barely does. What is left of my life is not worth killing myself for."

He leans against a table, towards Edward. "I think you have less control than you say you do. I think you are hiding your real agenda."

Edward's posture doesn't change, head tilted to the side as he watches Niles approach, listening with that same impassive expression he has before. "No, Niles, I asked you to cause chaos," though from Edward's tone of voice, he's not displeased at all with the end results. "I said that if you had to kill, you should do so with people who wouldn't be missed— criminals and the sort." There's a lopsided quality to his smile, to the twisting of words and meanings. "I do hope April relayed my intentions to you properly."

Snip. Another string falls from the web, and Edward's focus returns to his work. "If you're not comfortable with the offer for your old life, I'm sure I can find an alternative for your younger self. I'll make sure he's treated well and given all of the potential I would have given you," a look comes up over the strings. "But since it seems like you're volunteering for more work, there are a couple of things I could use your talents on, now that you mention it."


"I decided to kill my past associates, who are criminals. It was my insurance policy in case your plans failed. My own way of changing the future. I attacked those who fought to keep me in prison." Or rather, Niles didn't kill Aria. But he feels he succeeded in changing the telepath's mind. He looks at Edward, arm muscles coiled, like a cat ready to strike.

"Do that," says Niles after only a moment of thought. "I am a monster. Nothing will change that now. But I can stop him from becoming me." He pushes off the desk and stands to his full height. His jaw clenches, and when he speaks, the words are tight. "And what might that be?"

A slow nod comes from Edward as he hesitates on cutting one last string, looking from a photograph on it, slowly up to Niles. "A monster," he echoes with a dubious tone of voice, as if either not sure of the definition or the accuracy. The scissors move away from the string, and Mason gives a few gentle taps to the photograph before plucking it down from the thread. "Alright, Niles. I was going to give this particular job to April, but I think that this — perhaps — might actually be better suited to you."

He ducks under the string, carrying the photograph towards the young man, before turning it around between his fingers and holding it out with a crooked smile. The photograph depicts a young woman's face, one with soft features contrasted by dark hair and bright red lipstick. The photograph is held out towards Niles, as Edward calmly asks, "I'd like for you to kill Gillian Childs for me."

Niles takes the picture from Edward and examines it for a moment, head tilted. "Why?" He's not asked many questions up until this point. Then again, the doc has kept himself conveniently hidden away where the time travelers couldn't question him. "Who is she?"

He holds up the picture as it's pinched between fingers. "You were really going to ask April to commit an act of balls-out murder?" A snort. "She has an amazing power, but she doesn't seem the type to have the stomach for it."

"April is capable of far more than she leads on, if given the proper motivation." Edward notes as he motions with his nose to the picture. "She — in our future — becomes the wife of Peter Petrelli, one of the founding figureheads of the Pinehearst empire. It is through her ability alone that Arthur is able to work many of his miraculous restorations of New York that earned him so much favor in the public eye." The way Edward rattles off the details, it's almost as though he doesn't seem concerned about them, as if Niles' //questioning is a distraction.

"If she dies, that's another nail in the coffin to our ultimate fates." One shoulder rises, "I have a feeling you're just the man I need for this job, too." Large eyes wander over to Niles, followed by a lingering stare. "You can do it, right? I can ask one of the others if you've changed your mind."

Niles's lip curls. "Mmm. I see." He looks down at the picture again, then up at Edward, then tucks it away. "Do you have any idea where I might locate Miss Childs, or am I expected to get…" he flashes a toothy grin. "…creative?" A beat, then. "And what might I ask is her ability? So that I'm prepared."

His mind clicks ahead, forms its own plans. If his past self gets taken care of, that leaves him with very little to lose. And you know what they say about a man who has nothing to lose.

Prepared. Edward returns the smile with that, "Oh, I don't know— Gillian's a rather resourceful one, I'm not sure whatever I tell you will help you be prepared." There's a tilt of his head to the words, followed by a grimace. "Gillian was gifted with the power of ability amplification. She makes others abilities stronger, somewhat in the way John can do, though she is far less versatile than he is, her amplification has a higher upper threshold."

He glances back at Gillian's string, then to the other strings it is connected to. "She's been on the run for a while, and though Pinehearst is probably protecting her, I wouldn't recommend you running off to New Jersey to try and confront her there. Your best bet is to ask around on Staten Island, she— " Edward's gaze goes distant, as if remembering something, "I'd heard she stayed out there for a time."

"Staten," says Niles. The one word clips off his tongue. He rubs at his chin and examines the strings that Edward is, as if by paying close enough attention, he could see what the other man sees. "All right. I'll find her for you."

There's a brief pause, then, "Warn my younger self that there may be people searching for him. Tell him to play innocent, play up the fact that he hasn't yet done anything." Well. That's not true. He was locked up in the first place for killing his stepfather and running around with a gang in the trailer farm. "For obvious reasons, I don't…have a desire to confront myself."

Edward gives a painted smile to Niles, followed by a rather jerky nod of his head that indicates a dismissive motion, as if to wordlessly say you're done here, go. Instead, Edward's words paint over some of that suggestion. "For obvious reasons," Edward muses, both brows rising slowly as he tilts his head to the side. "I'll be sure to tell your younger counterpart exactly what he needs to know."

Then, of course, it comes. "You're free to go, Niles."

Thirty Minutes Later

Hours have passed since being pulled out from Primatech's holding cell on Level-5. Hours since a young Niles Wight was taken from one prison and forced into another. Hours have passed since April Silver dragged him into the back of a box truck and slammed the door shut, locking him in a lightless darkness. The truck has moved, since he was left here, driven around for a good hour before parking. But it's been nothing but silence since then, at least until the doors finally wrench open.

The gleaming shaft of afternoon sunlight that burns its way into the once dark recesses of the truck nearly blinds Niles from the contrast. With both doors swung open, it's a small and narrow human silhouette that holds the doors open, with only the reflection of sunlight in round lenses to give a form of identification. Niles remembers the receding hairline, remembers the glasses, but memory is such an imperfect thing.

"Oh, thank God you're okay." Edward feigns sincerity with the best of them as he hauls himself up into the back of the empty truck, pale eyes settled on Niles at the rear. "How're you feeling, Mister Wight?" As soon as those pills the Company had him on wears off, Edward would likely have had his question answered in a more conductive way.

But fortunately for Edward, fortunately for the people who locked him up, twenty-one year old Niles Wight is still suppressed, and will be for several hours yet. He's still dressed in the thin, cotton uniform of a level 5 detainee, still with scraggly, forelocked hair. His older counterpart is right. He couldn't fool anyone into believing his past and future self are the same man. The older Niles has grown out of the almost birdlike silhouette the young man still has.

There is still that simmering hate, that sudden distrust in the young man's eyes. He sits, a ball of impotent rage at the rear of the container. He's just waiting for his power to come back. "Do you expect me to believe you're here to set me free? Just like the people who took me out of one prison only to lock me in another?" The young Brit's voice is surprisingly innocent in tenor. It lacks gravel, it lacks hatred. Right now, he's full of youthful indignation rather than righteous anger.

"I apologize for hos Miss Silver handled your rescue," Edward states in a stuttering tone, carrying under one arm a folded stack of clothing, a pair of shoes hooked in two fingers of his other hand. "We had to keep you under lock and key until we were certain no one was following us— I hope the transition wasn't too jarring. You can never be too safe when you're working with the Company, of course." The pair of old, worn sneakers are laid down on the floor of the truck, so as to allow Edward both hands to hold out the jeans and dress shirt towards Niles. "These might be a little loose on you I— " was expecting someone of a different build? That might be untoward to say. "Well, it's all I could manage."

Edward glances over his shoulder, to the sunlight and the sound of crashing surf outside. As Niles' eyes adjust, he can see rows of parking meters rising up from an empty parking lot, and far beyond that the silhouette of jagged buildings that makes up Manhattan's skyline as seen from Queens by the East River. "You're free to go Mister Wight." Just like that. "I apologize if this was a jarring experience for you." No explanations, nothing.

"Oh. So you were locking me up for my own safety. Well. I've heard that before. From the very people I was just held by. How did keeping me locked up save me, hmm? And why weren't you as well if that was the case?" Niles is partway between sulky teenager and the dangerous sociopath from the future. He grabs for the clothes and rather shamelessly dresses. Skinny, painfully pale, bearing a few scars and marks that may or may not have come from Company mistreatment.

He pokes his head out of the container, then shuffles down and stands in front of Edward. He tosses his hands up. "That's it? You aren't going to tell me why I was sprung and not the dozens of others in their custody?"

Edward furrows his brows and averts his eyes to the floor as Niles begins to dress, speaking in an indirect manner. "I had other things to tend to, you could call me an orchestrator, as it were." Wringing his hands together, Edward takes one step to the side, and the floor of the truck creaks as he moves. "You might be safer not knowing, Mister Wight. Sometimes there's things— well— " he makes a vague motion in the air, "secrets you're safer being unaware of."

Beginning to walk towards the doors at the back of the Truck, Edward hesitates as he speaks. "You were chosen because you were chosen," a paradoxical statement, "it's as simple as that. I only wish we had the ability to rescue more, but…" there's a nod of his head. "I'd be careful out there, Mister Wight, there's… quite a lot of people who're looking for you." Shifting his shoulders, Edward tucks his hands into the pockets of his slacks, motioning to the door with his head. "You're free to go."

Then, there comes the catch, "Well, unless…" he shakes his head, "no— I've put you through enough already."

Niles sniffs the air, like he's a wild dog searching for Edward's scent. He mops the tangled hair out of his face and settles the collared shirt on his narrow shoulders. It is too big, but at his age it's almost a style. "Out with it, then." Blunt. No waxing poetic or grandiose statements like Niles Senior.

He steps forward and rolls up the cuffs of the shirt and secures them at the elbow. He's not really interested in doing what Edward asks, he just wants to know what it is.

"There's some people who might be able to help you," Edwards eyes track Niles' movement, "discrete, quiet, good at hiding people." Shifting his weight to one foot, Edward glances out the door of the truck. "Head to Brooklyn," his hand comes out of his slacks pocket with a folded roll of money, about a hundred and fifty dollars wirth. "Get a boat to take you out to Staten Island, follow the east coast until you see a Lighthouse." Both brows rise up slowly, "It's a home for children, but you want to talk to a man there named Flint Deckard." A crooked smile creeps up on Edward's lips. "Just— tell him the Ferrymen sent you, and that you need a place to hide out and get your bearings."

The money is offered out, forefingers and thumb fanning out the folded bills. "He'll set you up with what you need." Never what you want, but what you need. But likely Edward's definition of need.

Niles eyes the money. But he's a thief, has spent the last few years thieving and taking what he wants. "I've heard of it. We lost some of our recruits to them." He's the bad older gang kid and the Lighthouse is what takes away his new blood. The money is eyed again, then snatched, counted quickly, then shoved into his pocket. He does not look into the maws of gift horses.

"Am I to believe that you're doing this out of the goodness of your heart? Some kind of…odd parental bullshit to help make up for my weeks of illegal captivity?"

"It doesn't matter what you believe, in the end, Niles." Edward's earnest nature about that is somewhat disconcerting, "all that matters is that you realize when you walk out these doors, you're going to be more of a free man than you ever have been before." His brows furrow together, sliding both of his hands into the pockets of his slacks. "Whatever you choose to do, once you're out of those doors… that's what you're making of a second lease on life."

Edward quietly walks to the edge of the truck, standing at one side of the doorway and looking out to the boars skimming across the surface of the East River. "You can go right back to whatever it was you were doing, if that made you happy." He turns, regarding Niles over one shoulder, "Or you can change the course. All I can do is let you walk out of here, I'm not going to hold your hand the rest of the way."

Niles grins a toothy grin at Edward. There's no joy in that expression. "My my. You enjoy being obtuse, don't you? Offering hope, ladled out into bowls held in the hands of starving men. Don't mistake youth for naivete', sir. I am not your average street rat."

And with that, the young man who would become a killer starts off, feet scraping along the pavement. Little does he know that he won't have a gang happy to receive him once he reaches the shores of his old stomping ground.

A slow, cold smile rises up on Edward' slips as Niles hops out of the back of the truck, brows lowering and head turning to regard the setting sun with mild amusement. Here, in an abandoned parking lot on the edge of Long Island City, Niles' journey back to his gang's old stomping ground won't be a long one. Closing his eyes, Edward shuts out his senses to the futures that are coming to him, the paths and possibilities this conversation leads in the direction of.

Exhaling a slow, weary sigh, he looks towards Niles retreating form moving away from the truck and simply nods his head once in solemn recognition.

That went well.

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