Good Luck... You're Gonna Need It


bennet_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Good Luck… You're Gonna Need It
Synopsis Bennet is an expert on Evo powers, and so he gets a call about how to counter them… or try to.
Date Aug 11, 2009

Central Park, via cell phone

Some days turn out pretty decent. Today seems to be shaping up to be one of those days. It's nice enough outside, much of what Liz has to do today has managed to get her away from her desk… and hell, she even got a date out of it! Can't beat that, right? So in spite of two possible Evo serial killers on the loose, both of which have now landed in her lap to take a look at, and various and sundry other cases, Elisabeth's got just enough time before she's got to be back at the precinct to take a walk in Central Park with a soda. Sitting on a bench, watching people walk their kids, their dogs, their … that guy's walking a lizard? W.T.F? Only in New York. She glances down as her phone rings and raises a brow at the unidentified number that pops up. "Detective Harrison," she answers in a business-like tone.

"Detective Harrison." The identification is parroted back to her, but the voice and tone make this a basic salutation rather than a belated echo. Male, adult, his accent neutrally American, carrying a smile that's trimmed down to the most minimal of definitions, polite but not a very great deal more. There's the blitz and muted, two-tone skreeeee of a photocopier running in his backdrop. "This is Noah Bennet. Tanja let me know that you were looking for me. How may I help?"

Oooh. Surprise, surprise. "Mr. Bennet," Elisabeth greets him mildly. "It's a pleasure." Or not. Her neutral tone makes it more of a perfunctory response than would reflect actual pleasure. "I was told you might be the person to tap regarding a particular set of Evolved abilities and how to potentially counter them. I'm working on a case that requires some discreet handling. We've managed, so far, to keep it out of the news… the person is a serial killer. So far, the pattern appears to be that he either possesses or compels his targets to commit what appears to be suicide, except that it's just plain off."

Possession, serial killers. There's a lot of that going around these days, isn't there? Beside the photocopier, Noah Bennet lifts a brow above the horn rim of his glasses. "Nice to see one of those fall on into the category of 'enemy' again," he remarks, wryly. "Countering an Evolved with the ability to possess others tends to be tricky for all the obvious reasons— by nature, it's a hostage situation, and the best sniper in the world isn't going to get your man without hitting the victim.

"While there are a few general guidelines, they're only that. Possession abilities tend to be extremely varied— some die instantly with their bodies, others suffocate without a host over the course of time, and a few can survive indefinitely without. What do you know about this culprit?" Furniture creaks under the shift of a tall man's broad-shouldered weight. "Common traits between victims, any similarities in blood chemistry from the coroner's report, locations of death, people in the vicinity?"

There's a pause as Elisabeth gathers her thoughts to give him a better picture of the case, a snort accompanying his wry comment. "We know almost nothing about the perp, though the methodology and choice of targets indicates a male to me. Several years ago now, the FBI was working the first part of this case. We've been over and over and over their files. It began with a missing girl and escalated from there to the apparent rash of suicides and murder/suicides that weren't at all what they appeared. The killer was leaving calling cards — very distinctive ones. The first girl was never located, though she was believed to be dead. A second young woman went missing a couple of weeks ago, same calling card applied. Her boyfriend's body was found in the course of our missing persons investigation — apparently committed suicide a week prior. And then our FIRST missing young woman turned up on the scene at our CURRENT missing girl's college dorm — murdered her roommate and killed herself, leaving behind only the calling card and a couple of cryptic messages for one of the detectives on the case — a guy who'd worked the first string of killings. So far as I can tell right now — and I've put days worth of time on this — there is no link between the victims except for a type that he goes for. And the only other link is the detective, and we believe the perp is taunting him."

There's a brief pause and a sigh. "Frankly, Mr. Bennet, I'm in this way over my head. I know very little about the mental abilities that are out there, but the behavior of our first missing girl and the others — which we've witnessed through use of a postcog in the department — heavily indicate either a compulsion power or a possession power."

"I would first suggest bringing a psychometer out to play," Noah answers, presently. The photocopy goes quiet in the back, with a final hydraulic hiss of deactivation, and then there is the shuffle and flip of papers stacked between broad hands. "See what they can get out of the corpses and the calling cards. Compulsion and possession pose two completely different sets of problems and you'll want to find out which you're dealing with. Telepaths would work on either, but body thieves tend to be pretty resistant to psychic persuasion.

"The detective on the case is a link you will want to pursue. If you have someone who can detect Evolved on you, they're going to be useful when the time comes. Possession always changes the DNA of the host to read Evolved. Negation— chemical or psychic— creates problems for most who have that ability, either a lock-in or suffocation and eventual death, generally without physically harming the host. Compulsion abilities wouldn't get you anything either way, but at least you'd be dealing with a tangible threat, even if it's one with a dangerous singing voice." Manila and paper click and slide. Air moves past the mouthpiece as Noah moves with it.

And those are the suggestions an overwhelmed, inexperienced detective actually needs. Elisabeth pulls out her notebook on her end of the phone and jots down several of the recommendations. "Having a psychometer in wasn't something I thought would honestly be all that much help," she admits. "We have one on the PD, though. I'll bring him the calling cards." Their cop negator is no longer on staff, and Elisabeth has no idea whether the PD has access to the drugs, but Homeland does. And if need be, she'll call them in. She's honestly surprised they haven't moved to take this over yet, and figures it's flying under their radar as yet. Not to mention, his information is useful in the realm of Abby and Deckard too, as an aside. "Can you think of anything besides a psychometer that might be helpful in pinpointing which ability we're dealing with here?"

For a protracted moment, there's no answer, only the thrum and susuruss of the wolf walking through indoor space. "What did your postcog tell you?" Noah finally asks. "What did he or she say she saw, that made you think that you were dealing with either of those abilities? Inhibited motor skills— twitching or jerking around, sudden departure from what she'd been doing earlier, or was it the process of elimination that brought you?"

"When she could watch the scene, she could see the supposed suicide itself," Elisabeth answers promptly. "His actions aren't consistent with a normal suicide. He wedged wet towels under his door to keep the smell from escaping, he pulled the chair beneath the light fixture, set the noose, straightened his glasses, then kicked the chair out from under himself. He never struggled a bit, never showed any hesitation, just reached up and took his glasses OFF and and let them fall… and then died."

Abruptly, there's the clap of a vehicle door shutting behind Noah, a shift in the air pressure that permeates the mouthpiece. "I'd recommend having a look at the coroner's report. Blood chemistry. The more signs you see of normal physiological conditions and reactions— deficit of serotonin for depression, spike in adrenaline, endorphin response to pain, the higher the probability is that the individual was being compelled rather than possessed.

"Increased serotonin or any other indication of sadistic or masochistic pleasure in the situation would definitely indicate latter. Unfortunately for you, some subliminal programming can be extremely subtle. Excuse me a moment." There's a thick cotton swab of silence, a plastic scraping and adjustment of parts, before Noah's back again, the quality of sound subtly changed. Tires squeak in the background. "Surveillance footage of the area at the time could give you potential culprits, if he walked out in a new body. Retracing his footsteps prior to death could help too. Last purchases, for example: a possessor wouldn't be able to recreate a signature or E-mail passwords correctly.

"Apart from that sleuth work and a lucky break, I'm afraid a psychometer is going to be your best and surest bet."

Elisabeth considers. "Nakano said that it appeared to her like the guy was not the one in control of his own body… as he kicked the chair out from under himself, he smiled, and then there was a moment just before he actually died that awareness and fear seemed to finally come into his face. I'll check the coroner's reports more carefully," she says as she writes. "Based on what you just said about possessors, it seems unlikely that it would be that kind of power — there was absolutely no one around when this kid hung himself." She sighs heavily. "All right…. I appreciate your time, Mr. Bennet. Thank you."

"Some possessors can survive a long time and distance without a body," Noah reminds, straightforwardly. Large hands pat-pat audibly, cycling the steering wheel around a curb. "I wouldn't rule that out. I wouldn't rule anything out at this point, Detective: you're going on the best deduction you can in this situation, but it's still just guesswork. If you can find DNA on the noose or anything else the victim had come in contact with prior to the suicide, you may be able to test it for the Evolved marker, too. How you're going to catch this bastard is going to become clearer once you know more."

That might even be reassurance in his voice, the intimation of a reminiscent smile. Old predator to younger. "Good hunting, Detective. Oh—" it's a farcical use of the monosyllabic surprise, no doubt: it seems all but impossible that Noah wasn't planning toask this all along. "Have you seen Claire recently?"

She listens intently and takes notes. And maybe on several levels, Elisabeth takes some amount of comfort in the idea that at least she's not missing anything obvious. She makes several more notes of his comments, and then pauses, closing her notebook before answering, "I have. She's doing…. well. As well as can be expected." There's a faint smile in her voice. "Gotta tell you, that one's a firecracker, Mr. Bennet. Been trying to convince her that there's a little more to life than just this gig. Not having much luck, but…." The sound of material rustling as she shrugs. "Figure I'll keep trying. She's a good kid."

And this would be a fine demonstration in the timeless American tradition of quid pro quo. That eases— whatever scarred, ravening machine Noah keeps where all normal human beings have his heart. Then, it's Noah's turn to say it this time: "Thank you. That's good to hear.

"If she's going to insist on joining the movement, I'm glad it's with a few friends around her own age. Helena and the other girls." Who are terribly easy for him to track, if nothing else. "Good luck with both those things." Formerly blonde cheerleaders, insidious possessor-compulsor serial killers, a righteous challenge to both Batman and New York's finest.

There are many things she could say, but Elisabeth bites her tongue. She doesn't know this man, except by reputation. And not all of that's terribly good. On the other hand, … the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. And everything Claire is, everything she'll become… those are all due to this man and the woman who raised the little cheerleader with him. So clearly he's not all bad. "Thanks," is all she says to the man. "I think I'm going to need it."

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