Humble Beginnings


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Scene Title Humble Beginnings
Synopsis Standing on the shores of the Empire State / Beaches of 34th street
Date August 11, 2008

Two years ago this city changed forever. There is a gap in the Manhattan skyline, a space where buildings once rose up in their prominence around Kirby Plaza in Midtown. But now that Plaza lays in ruin, but the city keeps on moving around it. The skies today are filled with clouds, drizzling rain making the street shine and the glow of street lights look like colored beams across the glistening asphalt. A fog has rolled in off of the Hudson River, and the Twin Towers nearly disappear in that voluminous white embrace.

Amid the skyline of New York City, the looming stone skyscraper at 33 Thomas Street in Lower Manhattan has always maintained an air of mystery and the unknown. Originally owned by the AT&T Company, this windowless building of start lines and brutalist architectural style remains a mystery of the busiest city in the world, hidden in broad daylight.

The black sedan circling 33 Thomas Street has all of its windows tinted, and the vehicle makes a quick turn off of the street into a subterranean parking garage, stopping at the lowered arm of the automated checkpoint. No windows roll down, no one comes to the vehicle, and yet a moment later that arm rises and the vehicle disappears into the dimly lit basement. Pedestrians will catch a glimpse, but most passers-by will ignore it as inconsequential. What goes on in that building is likely unimportant. Just another mundane mystery in a wholly ordinary world.

Department of Evolved Affairs

Central Command

New York, NY

August 8, 2008

7:34 am

Elevator doors open to the tiled floor and eggshell white walls of Floor 12, and as he briskly steps out of the elevator a long man in a crisp black suit and narrow tie awkwardly adjusts his badge, clipped to the lapel of his jacket. VISITOR is marked in bold, block-lettering on the red-colored badge, but the woman here to greet him needn't see it to know who he is.

They go way back.

"Edward!" Michelle Cardinal is delighted to see her old colleague, hustling down the hall with a click-clack of her heels, swiftly moving to give her old friend a quick embrace before leaning back to get a good look at him. "It's been too long," she says with a faint smile and a shake of her head, though any amount of happiness she might have at this reunion is tempered by worry in her eyes.

Edward lowers his eyes and smiles, then looks back up to Michelle. "It's been… It's been an interesting few years, hasn't it? How're you holding up? I'm sorry I couldn't be there, it… the timing wasn't— "

Michelle's expression sinks, and she rests a hand on Edward's shoulder in reassurance. "Rianna and I are fine," she says in a hushed voice. "It's okay. I know you were dealing with your own grief. No one blames you for not coming."

"Thanks," Edward murmurs half-heartedly, allowing a moment of silence to fall between them. "Rich…" Edward blinks, then looks over to Michelle. "Rich told me you wanted my input on a statistical analysis? I find it hard to believe the DoEA needs something from me."

With a tilt of her head and a shrug of one shoulder, Michelle makes a face that belies her confidence in her colleagues. "Kenner thought you might be the best choice for this, given your personal experience with precognitive Evolved."

"Is that what you're calling them now?" Edward asks with a brow raised. Michelle makes something of a face and motions into the air with a flippant gesture.

"Doctor Suresh and upper management thinks its good for internal optics. Doctor Pratt doesn't agree and thinks it's elitist, but…" Michelle forces a smile and Edward lets a bitter laugh slip through.

"Well, I'm glad to see some things haven't changed." Edward notes with a raise of one brow. Michelle puts a hand at the small of Edward's back and turns to walk down the hall.

"I'll catch you up to speed while we go to look at the patient." Michelle explains, escorting Edward deeper into the facility.


Department of Evolved Affairs

Central Command

A blonde woman in her early thirties sits at a round, white table with a blank notebook set out atop it. Her posture is slouched, one leg folded under herself and the other kicked out straight, converse sneakers unlaced and a black sweater loose around her thin, willowy frame. Dark circles hang under her eyes, and she slowly flips off the two-way mirror on the nearby wall.

"Who is she, Chel?" Edward asks from the other side of the mirror in a dimly-lit room, affording a sidelong look to Michelle. There's a moment where Michelle watches the young woman cross her legs under herself, hands folded in her lap as she rocks from side to side slowly. A moment where she considers Edward's question, and has to carefully measure her answer.

"Else Kjelstrom," Chel finally says, looking at Edward as she does. "Born October 17, 1977 to Scandinavian immigrants. She's a musician, signed with Capital Records and performs under the name Else Kjelstrom and the Shattered Skies."

Edward looks thorugh the mirror, making a noise in the back of his throat as he watches Else pick at the lint on her sweater. "Tell me that Donald didn't have her arrested so he could get an autograph," he asks with a wry smile. Michelle laughs, but only just, and reaches over to a table by the mirror to retrieve a dog-eared journal to hand over to Edward. She doesn't say anything else, just nods and motions for him to read.

Hesitant to open it, Edward's fingers trace the cover and her name written poorly below a line that reads This Journal Belongs To on the front. As he flips through the first few pages, containing handwritten song lyrics, pressed wildflowers, and other ephemera like loose buttons and feathers, he seems unimpressed. But a line in one of the songs catches his eye.

Mouthing the lyric, Edward looks up to Michelle. "When was this written?" He asks her hastily, and Michelle turns her attention to Else rather than Edward.

"2004," Michelle says flatly. "That song lists the time, the place, even the perpetrator of the Kirby Plaza terrorist attack. We could have stopped that flat," she says with a slow shake of her head, brows furrowed. "There's a dozen other songs in there, most of them have already come to pass, the others… haven't."

Edward looks up, eyes wide, and then starts flipping through the book again. "Have you asked her for more details? What are the conditions she has to be under to see?"

"It's a trance," Michelle explains, "she sometimes enters a hypnotic state while writing and the song lyrics she produces have a sibilant quality to them. She doesn't remember entering the trance, and doesn't know the specifics of her vision. It's like someone else takes over her body."

Edward looks up, bookmarking a page with his thumb. "Does someone?" Michelle makes brief eye contact, and shrugs helplessly.

"That's why we wanted you to come down," Michelle explains, then turns to face Edward and takes the book. She flips through the journal to a recent entry, then hands it back to Edward. Slowly, his blue eyes scan the page, and his brows creep closer and closer together with each passing lyric he reads.

"Beaches of 34th street?" Edward reads aloud, then looks up to Michelle. "Is she writing about a flood?" Michelle's stare moves from Edward to the woman behind the mirror, and her head shakes slowly in uncertainty. "Is this something that's coming?"

"I don't know," Michelle notes, worriedly. "They want us to work together to try and find out just how accurate her visions are, to see if the future that she's seen is truly going to come to pass, and if we can stop it."

Edward nods, closing the journal and clapping both hands around it tightly. When he looks up to Michelle, there is now fear eviden tin his eyes. "And if we can't?"

She doesn't have an answer. So Michelle keeps staring with vacant eyes thorugh the mirror. Then something comes to mind that brings a rueful smile to her lips, and she looks back to Edward.

"Noah built an ark."

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