From A Whisper...


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Scene Title From a Whisper…
Synopsis Pinehearst moves on the Deveaux Building.
Date January 16, 2012

The Deveaux Building


Morning over New York City is a spectacle.

Golden rays of morning light spill out from over Queens and Brooklyn across the river, and that light refracts around the glittering glass of the revitalized island of Manhattan. There are no Ruins of Midtown here, just the flat and verdant expanse of Unity Park with its rambling fields of grass, small manicured ponds, and stands of lush trees. A few buildings form the perimeter of Unity Park, tumbledown and broken things overgrown with vegetation that spread from the park at its creation. These memorial buildings are historic landmarks, crumbling reminders of a sacrifice made in the past that carries on into the future.

The northern edge of these memorial buildings ends at West 59th street, which divided Unity Park and Central Park. Here, the tall and opulent Deveaux Building is just one of many such structures that are a poignant reminder of the tragic loss of life and conspiracy that once threatened to doom the entire world. Today, the block that the Deveaux Building sits on is surrounded by vans and sedans marked with UEO — Unity Enforcement Office — the governmental apparatus designed to oversee and police Evolved concerns.

On the roof of the Deveaux Building, apart from the police line and UEO vehicles, Roger Goodman stands alone. His sleek black suit cuts a fine silhouette against the morning light and clear blue skies. Behind him, to the north, the green-glass spire of Pinehearst Tower rises up from the border between Unity Park and Central Park, just a block apart from the Deveaux Building. In its shadow, everything else seems small. Though an employee of the Pinehearst Corporation, Roger Goodman bears a badge on his lapel today that identifies him as one Roger Goodman: UEO Specialist.

Goodman’s dark eyes are fixed on the stairwell that leads to the roof, to the demolished greenhouse that surrounds it, to the crawling ivy and vines that trespass between each brick and broken pane of glass. Coming up from that stairwell is Unity Enforcement Officer James Woods, a wiry British expatriate with a short crop of blonde hair and an easy smile. Today, his responsibility involved going to the Washington-Irving High School and pulling a student out of class for matters of national security. The sixteen year old girl he’s leading to the roof has little context to why she’s being brought here, other than that based on her registry information, she could be a vital asset in a matter of great important to the country.

Thirty Minutes Earlier

It was a little bit before lunchtime when the call came over the static-filled intercom. Class 4b, AP History for college credit. “Mrs. Saunders? Could you please have Cassandra come to the front office?” It wasn’t often that someone was called out in the middle of class unless someone’s grandparent had passed away or they were going on a vacation somewhere. Vacation was usually Fridays, though, so there was a tinge of worry. Quietly, Cassandra gathered her things, shouldered her backpack, and made her way to the front office where she is met by two suited members of the UEO. There’s a few moments of conversation, but after they present their credentials to the principal and the appropriate authorizations from both parents and the US Government, combined with assurances that yes, she’d be back as soon as she was able, whisked Cassandra into an unremarkable black SUV and started her journey to parts unknown.

As the school receded into the background, Cassandra’s cell phone was taken, the SIM card removed and put into a simple foil pouch. Location services disabled. She could still use apps, surf the internet, and do other things via the car’s built in wifi, but calling or texting? Out of the question.

“For security purposes, Miss.” The driver said calmly as he steered through morning traffic, on his way to an unknown destination. “You’ll still be in the city but, other than that, there’s no other information to give.”

Being in the dark was something that Cassandra really did not enjoy. It started with her internship interview with Pinehearst and continued even to this moment. Still, she sat, peering out of the window, bored, watching the streets and people flash by until they pulled past a cordon of UEO vans and stopped at the base of a building.

“Upstairs, please, miss. Elevator is to your right.” the driver said as he held the door open. Cassandra stepped out and followed the man with the short blonde hair to the elevator and headed into the higher parts of the building, her backpack slung over both shoulders, her thumbs hooked under the shoulder straps as she bounced on her toes. Another flight of stairs followed the elevator ride and soon she found herself emerging into a destroyed greenhouse and then, a few steps further, to a rooftop overlooking the city, spreading out like a tapestry below.


Cassie pauses, quiet, at the entrance of the Greenhouse, unsure of exactly why she’s been brought here. She has an /idea/ of why, but the nervousness coming off of her is almost palpable. “Um….” her voice is barely heard over the sounds of traffic below, a shuffling step taken out on to the parapet. “Hello?”

Just ahead of her, Agent Woods looks back with a reassuring smile and a squint against the bright sun bathing the roof in light. As he steps aside to wave Cassandra in, the dark silhouette of Roger Goodman becomes more clear. He walks in brisk approach, the wind blowing across the rooftop playing with his unbuttoned suit jacket. “Miss Baumann, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Agent Goodman, consulting with the UEO today on behalf of Pinehearst.”

Extending a hand out to Cassandra, Goodman is the inverse of Woods in many ways. That he is all business is just one of them. “I’m sorry to have disrupted your day, we hope to have you back to your class as soon as possible. But you’re a fortunate young woman with an ability that we believe could be of use in a matter of national security.”

At least she remembered her jacket and is thanking her lucky stars that she shelled out for the windproof one. This high, the winds out of the north can be cutting, and with this being the early part of spring, cool weather is still a fairly potent thing to have to deal with. Thankfully, today is one of the warmer days of February, so the suit jacket really isn’t that out of place. “Um… thank you?” She sounds hesitant, reaching out to shake the offered hand lightly - a move she doesn’t have very much practice in, a light squeeze and a small movement of her forearm before her hand is tucked back into her jacket pocket. “A..anything I can do to help, Mr. Goodman.” And then, in a smaller voice. “Is… is this about my internship interview?”

Woods raises his brows at that, looking over to Goodman who actually cracks a smile and briefly laughs. “No, Miss Baumann, this isn’t about your internship. Though I suppose, after a fashion, it might be in the future.” Goodman is quick to step from Cassandra’s side and walks toward an old, handcrafted pigeon coop sitting on the rooftop. There’s no indication that it has been used recently, and the condition of the sun-bleached wood makes it look decades old.

“We have reason to believe that a group of illegal immigrants have entered the United States by means of an Evolved ability.” Goodman walks to the edge of the roof, where a low brick wall decorated with cherbic statuary rests in disrepair. “Unfortunately, given this building’s historic condition and placement, we have no surveillance footage of the area. What we are hoping for,” slowly, Goodman turns to put his back to the edge of the roof, “is that you might be able to tell us what happened here, and give us descriptions of who it was that illegally entered the country.”

Woods offers a side-long look at Goodman, and adds his own addendum. “T’that point, we’re not sure exactly where this happened. We have some technical and Evolved-centric abilities that allowed us t’pinpoint that the entry happened on this rooftop, but little context beyond tha’. Any information you can provide, no matter how small, could help us investigate this further. Now, a’realize how unconventional this is, but under the Unity Act we are permitted to deputize civilian Evolved in a time of crisis.” Woods flashes a smile, nodding to Goodman. “But it sounds like you already understan’ tha’.”

“Oh, yes sir, I understand that. Ever since the Unity act came through, I tried to read it and understand as much as I could since I was now a part of the class that the act was intended to protect. I like knowing my rights and knowing that people know that I know.” Cassandra smiles matter-of-factly and slips her backpack off, leaving it on the ground next to the greenhouse door, pulling something out of one of the pockets, tucking it into her jacket pocket before moving closer to the middle of the roof, her arms going out at about a forty-five degree angle from her shoulders, her hands outstretched.

She takes a second or two to peer over the edge at the street below, looking over the city surrounding them, the buildings shining in the afternoon sun. She leans over just enough to see how high up they are, watches the cars passing by below, the people scurrying like ants, before scooting back safely on to the roof, her sneakers squeaking on the stone floor of the walkway that they’re all standing on. She turns to face Mr. Goodman and Mr. Woods, a blindfold clutched in both hands. “Sure, I can do that, but just telling you isn’t how my ability works. I can see stuff, but I can project it to others that are close by. I could show you what they looked like, where they came in…stuff like that. With your permission of course.” She scuffs her toe on the roof again, almost bashful. “Sir.”

Goodman looks to Woods, who makes a surprised face and raises his brows before offering an approving nod. “Telepathic projection,” Goodman asserts, “your file wasn’t entirely clear on how that works, except that electronic recording devices can’t pick up the details. But, I would greatly appreciate a demonstration.” Then, with a look over to Woods, “If you could fill her in?”

“Gladly,” Woods quips, taking a few quick strides over to Cassandra’s side while looking at something on his phone. “We’re fairly certain tha’ this all happened around 9:32 am. The uh,” Woods briefly glances to Goodman, then back to his phone, “event occurred somewhere on this rooftop, so hopefully everything you need’ll be here. You’ll only have t’go back an hour.”

“Yes Sir.” Cassandra pulls the red and white checkered bandanna from her pocket, twisting it around, back and forth, in her hands, a nervous habit that she really wishes wasn’t a thing right about now. She looks around - the area is fairly clear, as far as things go, with no chairs or obstacles, so with a quick, practiced motion she ties the bandanna tight around her eyes and moves to about the middle of the walkway from where she was standing, takes a breath, and sits, cross-legged on the stones.

“Don’t let anyone come in here while this is going on. I learned the hard way that you see what was, not what is…so chairs can be an obstacle if you’re not careful. I’d suggest keeping a hand on the wall.” Why she chose to sit, apparently. And when they’re ready she shifts into an almost meditative position, clears her mind, and lets her ability take over.

Unlike most abilities, hers is on fairly constantly, unless she’s asleep, in the background, like a clock ticking or a TV tuned to static that sometimes picks up a signal from some channel somewhere far, far away. The light fades slowly, pitch blackness enveloping the three of them, seemingly from behind Cassandra’s head as they watch. “I’m…still learning how to get this…” her voice is tight, the images ZOOMING past at a high rate of speed, stuttering to a stop and then back again. It may be a little disorienting, the sun setting in the east and then rising, just as quickly as she homes in on the time that they wanted. It’s only been a day, so the echoes here are very, very fresh. The sun rises, time moves forward and then the group *pop* into view, halfway through, some already scurrying into the greenhouse to parts unknown.

“I’m sorry this isn’t…” a disembodied voice says before stopping, suddenly, the scene freezing, backing up moment by moment until the roof is empty, save for the three watchers, standing there. “I think this is the moment you’re looking for.”

Cassandra turns to look at the pair of men. “Here we go.”

Everyone jerks back and away from Cassandra from a sudden shockwave of noise hitting them at once. Goodman and Woods both bring their hands up to their heads reflexively. Woods drops to a knee, and the sound that is created by the use of Cassandra’s ability is like turning a microphone toward an amplifier. A high-pitched electronic shriek that reverberates through the back of her mind and knocks her clear out of her focus.

The psychic shockwave is enough to leave her extremities tingling and blur her vision as if she’d been struck in the head. Woods makes a retching sound, doubled over and eyes wrenched shut, while Goodman struggles to stand upright, eyes narrowed and jaw set tightly. The sound only lasted for a moment, long enough for it to hit Cassandra and knock her out of focus, but it was long enough to be debilitating.

“What— what was that?” Goodman asks, but the question moreover is what wasn’t it. From Cassandra’s perspective, it wasn’t anything. Instead of there being a psychic impression of events here on this rooftop, there’s noise. It’s like whatever imprints the past was overwritten by something else, a telepathic background noise — like television or radio static.

If Cassandra were more experienced, perhaps keeping the image going would be something she could do through the psychic feedback, plucking out the signal from the noise, but not this time. The sound, the screech reverberating around her skull and through the vision literally knocks her over, the girl scrambling, whipping the blindfold off, the image of dark eyes rimmed with ink-black tears quickly wiped away by the bandanna, her normal eyes fading into view a few seconds later. “OW!” She protests, pushing herself to her feet, rubbing her right eye with the heel of her hand. “That…that wasn’t me! That was…here!”

Cassandra takes a deep breath through her nose and blows it out her mouth, feeling something trickling from her nose. She lifts her fingertips to touch and finds a stream of blood oozing from her nose, the handkerchief pinching it off to keep from getting it all over her jacket. “I don't know do what it was.” Holding her nose conversation isn’t entirely clear, the pinch released after a second, the blood wiped away. “It was like someone overwrote what happened here with that. I mean, if too many people come through it gets harder to pick out the images clearly, but this. You said it was only an hour since the illegal aliens made it here? They must have had someone to…I don’t know…record over their arrival with noise to cover their tracks.” Videotape analogies tend to work best with her ability.

One hand still held to his head, Goodman shoots Woods a look and the nauseated UEO agent is only just then getting his bearings back. Failing that, Goodman calmly approaches Cassandra and levels an uncertain look at her. “Judging from your tone, I take it you haven’t experienced anything like that before.” His dark eyes scan the rooftop, settle on Woods again briefly, then level back on Cassandra.

“It sounds like we may be dealing with a more sophisticated group than we anticipated… but this isn’t entirely a loss.” Goodman looks in the direction of Pinehearst Tower, then back. “But there may be a way to get something out of this, if you’re willing to take a bit of a risk.” Reaching inside of his suit jacket, Goodman produces what looks like a fat cigarette case, though as he opens it there’s a cold vapor that spills out, revealing four slim syringes of ink black liquid.

“This is a drug Pinehearst is developing called amphodynamine, it amplifies Evolved abilities and allows them to push past their normal limitations.” Goodman swivels the case around and shows it to Cassandra. “Normally I wouldn’t even suggest this, but given the situation…” he trails off for just a moment. “The side effects include severe headaches lasting up to an hour, nausea, and blurred vision that can last up to a day. I realize this is… unconventional.”

Cassandra crouches on the rooftop, her back to the wall on the edge of the path and wipes the blood away from her nose, frowning a little at the blood on her once-clean bandanna. “No sir, I’ve never experienced anything like that before. Usually my visions are just… there. Played back. Sights, sounds, sensations, and smells, but nothing with feedback like that before.”

She eyes Goodman as he approaches, the case withdrawn from his inside pocket, the vials of ink-black liquid in their individual ampules shimmering in the light. “I generally just go with hard liquor to increase the potency of my visions…” There’s a gesture to the offered case. “I’ve never done anything like that before. It almost looks like you bottled my tears there.”

There are a few moments of silence from the girl, thinking to herself. “It’s not addictive, is it? I mean…I’m not going to turn into a junkie or have my heart stop just because you shot me up with that stuff, right?” Asking the pusher that question is probably not the best idea, but she’s young and impressionable, and really wants to help. “If I’m going to do this, i’d really like a doctor or something nearby, just in case. I can keep the vision on a couple of people and leave others out of it, but if there’s any danger of, y’know….bad things…”

She shrugs one arm out of her jacket, rolling up the sleeve to reveal her bare arm, the rest covered up. “I’ll need a note excusing me from school for the rest of the day, and a ride home once this is over.”

Hard liquor being a teenager’s means of focusing her ability elicits one subtle uptick of Goodman’s brows, but he was a teenager once too, and what happens prior to age 18 stays there. “I’ll do you one better and have you an the best hospital in the world if things go poorly,” Goodman confirms, “instantaneously.” There’s a reassuring smile there, though it makes Roger’s nervousness. By now Woods has gotten himself straightened out, and when he sees Roger offering a syringe to Cassandra, there’s an obvious look of disapproval that crosses his face.

Taking one syringe out, Goodman closes the case and tucks it back into his suit jacket. “The drug does have addictive properties, if abused, but you won’t have that opportunity.” Pulling the cap off with his teeth and spitting it onto the roof, Goodman firmly takes Cassandra’s arm in hand and meets her gaze again. “We’ll be sure you’re taken care of, as well,” with regards to her requests. It’s the least they can do.

Once he’s certain she’s ready, Goodman administers the syringe into the crook of her elbow and slowly injects the black concoction into her veins. It burns, at first, before being replaced by a cold numbing sensation that spreads up Cassandra’s arm with a tingling that could be mistaken for vibration. A moment later, the amphodynamine has hit Cassandra’s heart and she can immediately feel a rise in blood pressure and a pounding sensation behind her eyes.

“Woods, step back,” Goodman calls out, one hand still firmly holding Cassandra’s wrist.

“W… wait let me…” Cassandra stammers out, fumbling for her bandanna as she feels the numbness spreading up her arm, slumping back against the wall, her eyes wide as she feels the drug hit her heart. In an instant, time seem to draw out in a multitude of directions, past, present and future seemingly at her fingertips. And the reason for the bandana over her eyes becomes abundantly clear as her pupils darken and expand to fill her entire eye, obscuring the iris and the sclera entirely, coal black tears starting to drip down her cheeks, staining her jacket and even the stone below. “Need to c…cover my eyes…” she stammers. “I see…so much!”

The darkness comes instantly, like someone closed a curtain, flipped a light switch off, or simply covered the sun with an impenetrable blanket. Boom, dark. And instead of it just being Goodman and Woods, the image goes further… her range increasing thanks to the amphodynamine.

If someone is in the building, they’re going to have an interesting few minutes as time rearranges itself.

Even under the incredible boosting of amphodynamine, Cassandra projects a distorted vision of the past onto the rooftop. Nothing is clear, nothing is evident, save that shapes are moving, there are flashes of color and sound mixed with discordant noises, a low electronic buzzing sound, and a strange howling roar of wind and a myriad other sounds all layered atop one-another. Woods steps back, looking up and around and blinking repeatedly to try and make his eyes focus, but it isn’t his eyes doing anything.

Blurs like silhouettes move around, but not even clear enough to make out details. Not even numbers. Cassandra’s control feels just as fine as ever, just as precise, but there’s an overlay of something that starts at the point in time Goodman mentioned and progresses forward all the way to the present. Cassandra can’t see anything, not even the conversation she had moments ago. Even prior to 9:32 in the morning there’s a distortion, though it tapers off quickly enough. Once she’s far enough back beyond the distortion to see clearly, Woods is scrambling around the rooftop trying to find a detail — any detail — that could give them what they need.

Goodman, too, pivots to look around the rooftop and notices how low the sun is in the east. “This must be… 8am, maybe earlier? What the hell caused this?” But then Woods calls out, pointing down the street.

“There’s a school bus comin’ up the road. Down one of the side streets that’s not supposed t’get traffic!” Leaning over the edge of the brick railing, Woods motions to the bus. “S’too far away t’get a license plate. I think — ” The vision flickers, coinciding with a sharp pain in Cassandra’s temple. The strain is immense, suddenly overwhelming, and with a second jab of pain the vision loses cohesion entirely and breaks apart.

As the rooftop returns to normal, Goodman rest a firm hand on Cassandra’s shoulder and one at her elbow. “Baumann,” Goodman says in concern. Woods turns, concern likewise painted across his face and a momentary accusation leveled wordlessly at Goodman.

Under the influence of the drug, Cassandra feels like she’s standing outside her own body, looking down at herself and Goodman as the vision burns its way through her system. And, in fact, looking down at herself, and at the images projected around, it’s almost as if someone took the scene and recorded over it a thousand times with different images from the same location, throwing in some feedback and reverb for good measure just to make it difficult.

“I cantseeanythinganymore….” Her voice comes out slurred, her form jerking at the flicker of the vision and the pain from it, her jacket ruined from her tears, her nose bleeding freely now, the entirety of the vision dissolving in an instant, the thread snapping and reality landing like a bowling ball dropped from a high balcony. The sounds outside all come back at once, almost too loud, slamming into those in the vision before the volume goes back to normal, Cassandra’s eyes going back to normal, albeit wild, gasping, trying to catch her breath, trying to stay upright, her grip HARD on Goodman’s shoulder, her face and jacket an absolute mess.

She’s gripping his arm tight, her teeth clenched l together as she tries to will her heartbeat to slow down. “Maybe…” she grunts through her gritted teeth. “Smaller d…d..d..d..dose…” If they do this again.

“Or maybe none at fuckin’ all next time.” Woods sharply reprimands Goodman, coming over to steady Cassandra with a hand on her shoulder. Goodman leans away as Woods steps in, and the Pinehearst agent withdraws a cell phone from his jacket even as Woods is making sure Cassandra is alright in a more than just superficial manner.

“Canfield, we’ve got a hit. We’re going to need every traffic camera in a six block radius around the Deveaux Building, looking for a yellow school bus.” Goodman turns to look at Woods, offering a handkerchief from inside his vest to Cassandra to clean up her face. “Also, let Mr. Petrelli know that his idea about Baumann panned out.”

Stepping away from Woods and Cassandra, Goodman stays on the phone, looking to the horizon and the looming specter of Pinehearst tower. “No, I’ll be bringing her in for a medical evaluation. There were some… complications.” Dark eyes flick to Cassandra again, then back to the tower’s green walls.

“No, don’t worry…” Goodman assures the man on the other end of the phone. “We’ll find them, whoever they are, sooner or later.”

“They can only hide for so long.”

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