I Said It Was Complicated


helena_icon.gif edward_icon.gif cat_icon.gif

Scene Title I Said It Was Complicated
Synopsis Very complicated.
Date December 22, 2008

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

Late enough to be well past midnight, and the New York Public Library which Phoenix has appropriated for themselves has grown quiet. No sounds of motorcycles revving in the lobby, Conrad's incessant rambling and bickering about security protocols or which wrestler could take who. No screams, no gunshots, for once all is well within Phoenix's walls, unless you take into account that Alexander is still missing, and Matt Parkman from Homeland Security is giving a bedside vigil for the President-Elect.

It's been a busy week.

Down in one of the private study rooms in the regions of the Library that haven't been renovated for Phoenix use, a single light-source has glowed on into the night. A laptop computer running on battery power, situated atop a long and scratched oak table flanked by four sets of old book cases filled with weather-damaged books. While sheets of plastic have been nailed to cover the windows in one of Conrad's quick attempts to winterproof the building, this area of the Library is still cold, and sees little traffic.

Edward Ray had vacated his position in one of the anterooms off of the Lobby some time after President Rickham's surgery, likely after his stomach stopped twisting in knots. Not only did he abscond with the laptop he provided, but he also neglected to tell anyone where he was going. Quiet and patient, the mathematician knows he'll eventually be found out, that much he can readily predict. There's also a high percentage chance it will be the Alpha-Females of the organization. All things in acceptable perameters.

So he sits, and he types, and he works; dilligently.

There are little pieces of normalcy in Helena's life. She can't afford normalcy in big wonderful doses, and so she's restricted to tiny pieces. One such piece is her pj's, comfortable flannel things in Watch plaid of blue and green and black. Absently she remembers her the slippers her mother had gotten her when she was still in single digits - they were red and gold and had little Gryffindor symbols on them. They made lion roaring sounds when she walked. At the moment, she's barefoot. It doesn't matter too much, Helena takes comfortable temperature with her wherever she goes.

Noticing Edward's absence on the main floor, she made a pitstop at the kitchen, grabbing a candle and holder, lighting it and opted to try the stacks, and then the lower levels. If he's perceptive, he'll see her oncoming silhoutte in candle-light, but given the eccentricities of academia, likely not.

"Edward?" she calls out softly as she nears his doorway.

She's making her way back into the library after having been out for a time, tending to some business matters, one of which was visiting a courier at Alley Cat and joining her at an apartment she shares with another Phoenix associate. That was certainly a surprise for Catherine Chesterfield. So she'd at a point soon after exiting that apartment left a voice mail for Jennifer Galloway and seen about having food, along with a hotel room for that night. Being out of the apartment shared with her slain lover and hotel hopping, such the interesting life. Never two consecutive nights in the same place lately for her.

And as the brunette makes her way across the floor, removing her coat, Helena's spotted in her quest. Curiosity takes hold, she moves in that same direction.

Right on schedule. "In here Miss Dean," the mathematician calls out in an amiable tone, as if he were in his office. But he leaves his calling short and to the point, no need to raise his voice any more than he did. Though when Helena finally winds around the hall and to the door to the study room he's sitting in, his voice picks up again, conversational and chipper. "There was too much noise up front," He continues to type as he speaks, "That young woman with the foul mouth and the cigarettes was complaining about the snow very vocally. I'm not sure which of them was louder, her or the…" He pauses in mid-typing, looking up over the screen of the laptop with it reflected in his glasses, "Your Handyman? I'm not sure. Anyway, it's quiet in here… and the coffee maker works." He waves indirectly to some deep and dark corner of the private study, and then in the candle-light Helena can see a trail of steam coming from a mug by his side.

At the moment he doesn't seem to notice or acknowledge Cat in the hall, "I take it you got curious what state secrets I might be dipping my fingers into?" His lips curl into a somewhat eerie smile when lit by the glow of the laptop screen as he is, and as if teasing Helena, he presses one hand on the top of the screen, folding it forward to close the laptop and then reach for his steaming mug of black coffee, "Did you need something?"

Helena finds herself a chair, gently setting the candle down as she looks up briefly at Cat, gives her a nod. Pulling her knees up to her chest, her bare toes rest on the edge of her seat. The room is slowly filling with warmth, perhaps relievingly so. "How do you know who I am?" she asks. Always one to get to the point.

There exists a strong probability that, when she enters the room, Cat won't speak and interrupt conversation between the scientist and the leader. There also exists a solid chance she'll look for a sheet of paper on which to write, perhaps for the purpose of communicating with the blonde non-verbally. She appears in the doorway and leans against the frame, just in time to hear the question asked, and being curious about the answer.

"That's complicated." Edward answers indirectly, taking a small sip of the dark and bitter brew he holds in his hands. As the room gradually begins to warm, he settles the mug back down on the table with a soft clunk, "Exceedingly complicated, actually. Suffice to say I know your name, and I know what you look like, and I knew you were an Evolved, but I was unaware of what powers you possessed and where your current place of…" He looks around the room with a smile, "Residence was."

There's a momentary pause, and Edward looks down at the laptop, large eyes reflectng the candle-light, "I also know you have a very close relationship with a man named Peter Petrelli." His tone changes entirely, becoming something far other than what he was using to converse with before. It's more serious, more intent. "A man who is currently being held by Homeland Security, and by the middle of January of next year, he will be shipped to a detention center in Utah called Moab, where he will be detained along with other Evolved prisoners." Edward folds his hands and leans forward on the laptop, the candle-light flickering and guttering in his eyes as he tilts his head to the side. "Further questions?"

Helena's spine straightens reflexively. "No," she says quickly and fiercely, "He won't." Lifting her chin, "I've struck a deal with Matt Parkman. He's going to let me speak to Peter, and I'm going to convince him that keeping himself detained is not the answer." She bites her lip. "If I can convince one of Ferrymen's leaders to speak with Parkman about the possibility of an alliance to destroy Volken's plans." She just has to try. That's what Matt said.

Still not a word is spoken by the panmnesiac brunette as the two converse. Cat is thinking. In her mind's eye she calls up a map of the United States seen long ago as part of a college course at Yale, focusing in on Utah and trying to pinpoint Moab. At the same time her eyes are fulfilling that probability of seeking a sheet of paper to write upon.

Edward's eyes focus on Helena for a moment, and he slowly lifts back open the laptop typing a few lines into it before angling the screen partway closed in absolute silence. Then, after partly closing the laptop he just manages a meager smile, nodding his head slightly. "Good, good. That all sounds very productive, and I'm glad you're taking the initiative."

Edward motions over to a chair closer to Helena than it is to Edward, "Reach into my jacket pocket," He motions over to the fur-trimmed and heavy looking winter coat slung over the chair next to Helena, "There's a manilla envelope in the right front side of the jacket, just open it and take all the contents out. I think…" He looks down to the steam of his coffee, "Well, it should elucidate you more than my rambling will."

Helena lifts a brow. "Are you lying to me?" she asks. "I mean, usually when someone tells you things, the odds change, and you spit back some kind of figure. So will my speaking to Peter change anything, or is it too early to tell, since I can't exactly write a speech?" Cocking her head, she does as instructed, reaching into the coat and pulling out the manilla envelope to carefully spill the contents on the desk.

While Helena empties the contents of that manila envelope, Cat finally speaks. "Is there a tactical or strategic advantage to be gained by my looking at and reading any of your work product here, Doctor Ray?" Her eyes rest on him afterward, the expression curious and contemplative. She has, it seems, turned from seeking paper. Perhaps she just hasn't spotted a blank sheet yet.

"I'm not lying to you, Miss Dean, though I wish I was." Edward closes the laptop the rest of the way, "I only espouse probability when I know that doing so will make a difference," His eyes regard Cat for a moment, for the first time since she'd come in, and then Helena again. "I know that no matter what I say, you're still going to talk to him, and you're still going to try. I'll not waste my breath."

When the envelope is opened, the first thing to come out is a pair of glasses. Circular lenses with wire frames, belt slightly at the middle making them just a little crooked. The right arm of the glasses looks to have been repaired by electrical tape, and there's three small notched on the top of the right lens, that looks like chips in the glass. They stand out in the candle-light, glittering little specks. Next comes a stack of hand-written notes and mathematical formulas along with a few pages of tightly-packed number strings. Finally, there's a slew of photographs, about ten in total.

"My work product here isn't exactly a finished one, Miss Chesterfield." He taps his fingers on the borrowed laptop. "When the deed is done and the time is right, however, I'll be perfectly willing to share." Willing to share the laptop that belongs to his guests, a laptop Cat and Helena both know has a copy of the Catabase information on it, for public access here.

The first photograph Helena sees depicts a tank, it's hard for her to tell what kind it is, but there's a soldier in a gray uniform sitting on top of it with no military insignias, he's holding an automatic rifle. There are a pile of bodies stacked up neatly in front of the tank. At first it looks like an old World War II photograph, except that it is in color, and it's in New York City.

"What I'm working on, is a modification to your database structured around some… rather specific intelligence I have on your current problem." His fingers drum on the laptop, "I utilized your list of associates and abilities, and am beginning to compile what you might call a battle plan to ensure that within the next few weeks…"

The next photograph is of a metal storage container used for hauling freight off of ships, it is stacked full from front to back with naked corpses, some wrapped in plastic. Men in biohazard suits are in the process of closing the doors on the cargo container when the picture was snapped, and from the looks of it, it was taken through a chain-link fence.

"…from preventing ninty-percent of the world's population from dying or otherwise losing their minds, and then dying." His eyes shift to focus on Helena, watching her reactions to the pictures.

The next photograph is unlike the other two, it depicts Edward seated at a poker table with a cigar in his mouth, looking more weary, tired and aged than he does now. At his right side is Peter, with a green army jacket on and a black tanktop beneath, his hair is a little longer that Helena's seen it before, and he's missing his scar. Standing behind Peter with her hands on his shoulders, is the young woman who stabbed Teo in the stomach with a butterknife, though she's not young anymore, she's an adult, and she has an assault rifle slung over her shoulder.

"This package was delivered to me three days before the assassination attempt via United Parcel mail with no return address." Edward motions to the hand-written documents, "My own handwriting, and mathematical formulas and research into string theory that I have not even begun to understand yet, along with a menifesto of sorts, and…" He points to the glasses, then up to the ones he is wearing, with the same three chips in the right lens. "Proof."

The next few photographs all depict what looks like the interior of a power plant, one with a subterranean railroad connection station inside, ad judging from the construction and architecture, it's incredibly old. One of those photographs depicts a room like the one in Isaac Mendez' loft, but with thousands of strings and hundreds upon hundreds of photographs all connected together.

"Needless to say, as a man who feeds on information and probability…" Edward brings the coffee to his lips, sipping softly, "You can imagine my reaction to all of that. I had to act, and in a way that would engender me to your trust initially." His eyes dip down to one of the other photographs.

It is a mug shot, depicting a blonde woman in a gray prison uniform. It is Helena, and the photograph has been taken up against a concrete block wall in what looks like some form of government facility, a series of numbers are printed on her loose shirt.

"I said it was complicated."

A series of emotions play across Helena's face like a sympathy. The glasses initially puzzling, but quickly sorted out - she can see the glasses herself and make the right conclusion. The tank picture is puzzling, seeming out of place, the photo of corpses regarded with horror. Seeing a future Peter with no scar - puzzling, faintly pleasing, save for Eileen's hands on his shoulders, which stirs something in Helena she doesn't really want to deal with at the moment. "That's Isaac Mendez's loft." she murmurs, "I've seen it before…" And then there's her mug shot.

Helena feels like she's going to throw up, staring at it.

It takes a moment to breathe, and she looks up at Edward. "This disease…is this part of Volken's plan?"

Her eyes rest on the man as he speaks to her, and she nods once. "Fair enough. I have to confess a voracious appetite for reading sometimes, and your work, it fascinates for various reasons. Cat will do, though. If we have to be formal, Doctor Chesterfield applies." Cat falls silent from there, her eyes looking over the items Helena's pulled out of the envelope as best she can in dim light while still listening. "You had this sent to yourself, apparently, which would indicate you survived the disease and were tracing the timelines to find the spots for intervention. It all means… we lost, but we get a better shot now. The past, it can't be changed by going to the past, but… you can send information to someone for whom it would be the future and have success?"

"It is his whole plan." Edward motions to the notes, "I don't know the particulars of how the information was sent back, but like I said earlier, Doctor Chesterfield," There's a faint hint of a smile there, "Heisenberg isn't the most important theory, not when I'm trying to wrap my head around a manilla paradox." The smile fades, and his eyes grow distant. "From what sense I could make of the insane ramblings in that document, Kazimir Volken is in possession of some type of viral weapon that attacks the central nervous system. It's launched in two stages, one in a massive biological weapons attack from points undisclosed in my documents, by high-velocity mortars." Edward breathes out a deep breath, "But it's all a part of some horrible Harry Houdini style hide the elephant in the crowd trick, because at the same time, two semi-trucks loaded with incubated Evolved are shipped off cross-country, and somehow Homeland Security ends up attacking the trucks, and release the virus outside of the city."

Edward slouches back in his chair, running his hands over his head, "I conferred with colleagues in Universities across the country, and none of them had ever heard of a virus strong enough to wipe out ninty percent of the human population. But that's when my notes get even more difficult to decypher, there's mention of the virus mutating and uniting with a pre-existing chemical agent which inflicts Non-Evolved individuals with Evolved powers that quickly go out of control as their cell-walls deteriorate and rupture, causing them to melt into heaps of…" Edward stops, shaking his head slowly.

"Kazimir Volken becomes the grand poobah of the whole damned world. And somehow in the midst of this, a man named Sylar ends up taking over for him, adopting his name, and becoming the next Kazimir Volken. I… I can hardly make heads or tails of half of his handwriting, it looked all to be rather frantic. He claims Peter Petrelli made an attempt to time travel," It's said rather incredulously, "Back to stop the virus, but somehow only made things worse. So… the notes say another candidate was chosen and sent back, and… I have no idea who it is. The notes are implicit that I'm not to interfere." He grimaces sligtly, "My future self — If I am to believe all of this, seems rather concerned for my well being." There's some information Edward leaves out, personal things detailed in the documents.

Helena sucks on her lips. "The only other person I know of who can time travel is Hiro Nakamura, and he's been missing for quite some time." she says. The information is almost too much to process in one go. "So we need to find the mortars, and stop those people from being attacked by HomeSec…and we're actually going to need them. I'm going to have to tell Matt everything." Then there's a pause. "They - they might even call the Company. This is huge."

"I… I've seen this virus in action before," Cat states. "October 20th, at Greenwich Village. Peter told you about it. Two men appeared to be rampaging down a street. One had energy coming from his body, blowing things up, the other had acid or alkaline on his hands. They were taken to the Company by Peter. And I remember hearing him say something about a Doctor Knutson." She calls up the memory of that night's events to view them from start to finish and be sure of details. "He told me they were sick, not crazy." Then she glances over at Helena's mug shot. "I can't be sure, but… Agent Parkman may mean to keep his word, but he isn't the only person in HomeSec. If you enter a HomeSec facility to visit Peter, and he isn't there to run interference, they've got you. I'm your attorney, but I really don't think they care about such things."

"Here's a confidence booster." Edward notes, eyes drifting up to Helena, "President Rickham hasn't been outed yet. According to the documentation I have, Rickham's Evolved status couldn't be kept a secret after his attempted assassination. The documents don't say how it all panned out, but he never got killed. However, the public at large found out about his ability, and following an investigation… Well, proof was discovered that he had been hiding the ability from the government." Edward breathes in a slow breath, "It ruined him. The country was in such a state of destabalization that after the date of inaguration passed without an inaugriation," His lips press together, "Well, needless to say, it went just like Kazimir planned. It seems that… so far, you've changed things. What happens to Rickham once he's out of your care, that's another matter entirely. But I can say now, it's still not looking good for him, probability-wise. But it's better than it was, and you should hold some solace in that."

Edward levels his eyes on Helena after a moment, straining slightly, "Your odds of getting your Peter Petrelli's skull seem marginal at best, given what my documentation says about him." Edward's eyes close partway, "But, I will profess I don't know the man personally, and that does skew my calculations." There's a subtle shrug of one shoulder, "It's a risky endeavor."

"Parkman wants him to help stop Sylar, and by extension, Kazimir. Right now, he's sitting in their prison cell because he thinks it's where he should be. I need to convince him otherwise, even though he's tried to stop Sylar before. Peter…" Helena trails off. "He wants to make a difference. Deep down, he wants to be a hero. He just doesn't realize that he can't do it alone." She gives a shrug. "That's been his mistake, really. He thinks it's all on him." There's a pause, and her tone turns oddly stiff. "If I can't convince him…Claire's missing. And if he won't leave the cell for the world falling apart, or me…he'll move mountains for Claire."

She's quiet now, just looking over the items in the candlelight and mulling over all the information provided by the MIT man. Helena's mugshot concerns her greatly, and Cat would like to recommend strongly she let him stay where he is, where he apparently chose to be, the rest is a much greater priority. She recalls her own words about backing each other up on the difficult personal decisions, like her needing to realize there wasn't time to mount a rescue for Dani. That her death couldn't be prevented. But she also said she wouldn't disagree in front of others, so… silence it is.

"Do what you think is best based on what I told you." It's Edward's very careful way of giving instructions, "And be careful who you tell about my temporal correspondance, I'd prefer not to spend the rest of my natural life in a deep dark hole because someone from the future sent me some very confusing mail." A hint of a smile creeps up on Edward's face, "I'm going to keep working on all this information you have, comparing it to what I already know. If there's anyone, or anything you find that you think might help make my calculations more precuse, don't hesitate to sent it or them my way."

His eyes momentarially turn to his coffee, half emptied and not steaming any longer. "As for your current agenda, I'd recommend getting as many hands as you can involved on this." His large eyes lift back up to Helena, "This is everyone's problem, Miss Dean." Except Edward's, apparently, because he at least knows he has some way of surviving what's to come. "But remember, everything you do now, based on what I told you, will change things."

It's a good thing, because it would take a hell of a lot - and likely more than Cat's own force of persuasion - to keep Helena from doing what she intends to with regard to Peter. Her eyes drift down to the pictures once more, and she swallows hard. "I'll need to talk to Matt again in the morning. And I can talk to Hana tomorrow as well. The Company…" she trails off. Company Pete mentioned that they were investigating the disease. Perhaps there's a way to reach out to them with the information as well. She could leave that up to Matt, perhaps. It might be more safe. "I know the future can change." she says. "Because I've already seen it. There's a tenement near Chinatown that has a painting of me being impaled on a rebar. I have long hair in it. So this," she gestures toward the photo of herself with shorn hair and wearing a prison gown, "Is not necessarily what's going to be. We can change it. We will change it." And there it is again, that steely resolve.

There really isn't anything to say on any of the subjects right now. They have what they need to pass along to HomeSec through Parkman already in the envelope's contents, and the Professor's action plan is still being drafted. Further questions won't get him there any faster. Cat has confidence, there's not a trace of doubt about her features. "Thank you, Doctor." She turns to go, intending to snag Helena when she too departs and brief her on a few things, thereby leaving Edward to his task.

A smile curls across Edward's lips as he nods his head, satisfied with both Helena's answer and the outcome of their conversation and his rather frank admissions. But after all, things most usually go according to plan for Edward, when he's not blindsided by something. "No need to thank me, Doctor Chesterfield." He nods his head appreciatively, "If you two think of anything else, I'll be somewhere around here." His hands move down to the sides of the laptop, folding the screen open again to bathe his face in the cold white glow amidst the darkened room.

Staring at the screen, Edward brushes one hand over his mouth, eyes focused on some text at the middle of the page. "Brian Fulk - Replication." His hands fold beneath his chin, keeping his head propped up, and Edward just nods once to himself.

December 21st: Nite Owls And Exploding Manatees

Previously in this storyline…
Prelude to Armageddon, Part I

Next in this storyline…
It's Everyone's Problem

December 22nd: It's Everyone's Problem
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