More News is Bad News


matt_icon.gif sabra_icon.gif

Scene Title More News is Bad News
Synopsis Matt comes knocking at the Company's door in search of information.
Date January 4, 2009

Primatech Research: Sabra's Office

A lot of meetings take place in this room. Chats with supervisors. Chats with agents. A visit from Matt Parkman is not quite the usual order of business, but this morning looks much the same as any other in Sabra's office. The wintry city is viewable through Sabra's window, its tones dreary and dull compared to the warm color scheme of the room. The elderly lady herself sits behind an oaken desk, expression on the grim side of neutral; her aide, Ashton, is not currently in the room.

Calling ahead isn't something Matt Parkman normally does as a prelude to a meeting, but Sabra Dalton and the Company she represents is a special case. Every courtesy is expected, especially if the agent wants full cooperation. Still, the specific purpose for this particular conversation was left vague, described only as urgent.

Despite that, Matt Parkman looks a great deal calmer and more put-together than he has in recent days. The only thing that betrays his current state is the circles beneath his eyes, but his clothes are straight and his hair is combed when he walks through the door to Sabra's office, his wool coat over one arm. "Sabra," he says with a sigh of relief, like a child returning home might sigh. "I hope you have some good news for me. I've had a hell of a day."

Courtesy is always appreciated when she's the recipient, and Sabra does Matt the courtesy of forestalling her usual ritual of hospitality. Instead, she folds the file closed and rests her hands atop its cover, lifting her gaze to look across the table at Matt. The circles under her eyes aren't so dark as his, but they're very definitely there. "I'm afraid good news is in short supply, Matt," the elderly woman replies in a sincerely regretful tone. "Your request was not very specific, but I presume you want to talk about our impending armageddon by lethal contagion."

"That's the one," Matt exhales as he lowers himself into a seat across the desk from Sabra. She certainly has some of the comfiest chairs for guests in this game of office encounters. "Suresh is working on tracking down an origin of whatever they plan on using, assuming they aren't making it themselves. Still, finding it can mean finding a cure and being ready, or destroying it before they get their hands on it - and catching them when they try to."

It's a measure of Sabra's own weariness that she closes her eyes as Matt speaks, the lapse a glimpse into how little good she believes her news holds. "I took the liberty of speaking to Mr. Bishop after you requested this meeting," the woman begins, letting the current subject of conversation be set aside — but not for long. "He authorized the release of certain records to you." Picking up the file, Sabra extends it across the desk for Matt to take — though she doesn't expect him to just sit there and read it. "I don't know if you are familiar with the case of Shanti Suresh." Her tone implies she expects an answer in the negative.

Matt is hesitant to take the file, but only out of his eagerness to read the contents and learn what they hold. But he wouldn't make Sabra suffer by doing it in front of her — not when she could summarize the contents. Besides, listening has always been easier for Matt than reading.

"No," he affirms, squinting with interest at the Company supervisor. "I'm not. But I'm assuming she's related to Mohinder?"

"His older sister. She contracted a virus and died at the age of five. It was her death that spurred Chandra Suresh to pursue his famous research." Now-famous, at any rate. Sabra sits back in her chair, settling in to tell a story, or at least its summary. Unwittingly heightening her resemblance to some family matriarch that persists despite her own lack of actual blood descendents. "The virus… is lethal to Evolved individuals, but it only affects the Evolved." There's a brief pause. "A sample was recently stolen from our facility in Odessa." But not, her wording implies, a great quantity. Not enough to end the world.

Not enough, assuming that it isn't contagious. Matt listens, silently moving to the edge of his seat by the time Sabra has reached the end of her sparse yet revealing tale. "Stolen from the Company?" This, of course, is what rings in Matt's mind. "By who?" But then, without waiting for an answer, Matt digs into the inside pocket of his suit jacket to withdraw a flash drive. "One of these, maybe?"

Should Sabra plug the device into her computer, she would find (admist the other files provided by Hana and Cat in digital form), four folders named as follows: "Ethan", "Eileen Ruskin", "Wu-Long", and "Unidentified Blonde Female".

Sabra takes the flash drive, but she nods towards the file folder rather than immediately querying the memory stick. "You tell me, Matthew." Because included in the folder is a summary of Dr. Odessa Knutson and her role in the Company. Not everything — most definitely not — but there is a photo. And a brief description of her power. "Dr. Suresh's blood carries the only known antibodies to the Shanti Virus," the older woman continues, as though she had never been interrupted. "His projects include devising a means for mass-production of those antibodies, but all attempts have so far failed. We have a small stock on hand."

Sabra pauses, drawing in a breath. "I can't say if they'll be any use against the plague your files described. Additionally… Dr. Suresh himself has not reported in either yesterday or today. We have other researchers continuing to investigate antibody production, but his absence does us no good — and we have not been able to contact him."

Matt's opening of the folder is interrupted by the news of Mohinder's disappearance. He frowns, his eyes growing somewhat harder. "I'll let my people know," is all he says, masking deeper concerns. Mohinder is a scientist — a very talented one who was already working on this particular pathogen — and has gone missing. After opening the folder and seeing Odessa's photograph, Matt tenses as if to stand. Instead, he reads in captivated (if strained) silence.

"Thank you." It's sincerely spoken, and as Matt occupies himself with reading, Sabra herself merely sits and observes in silence, her hands folded in her lap. The file mentions what is known of Shanti's life and death; the fact that a sample of the virus was obtained and examined; that it has been kept under the highest security in the Odessa facility ever since, with only the Founders, a very few supervisors and agents, and the researchers themselves aware it even exists, much less of what it does.

It takes Matt a considerable length of time to get through the files contents, and when he closes it, he looks a great deal more exhausted than he did when he entered Sabra's office. "May I take this with me?" he asks as if already prepped for a negative answer to the request.

Sabra has the time, at least for Agent Parkman. She is a patient person, and does nothing to disturb him during his perusal. When addressed, the woman inclines her head. "I'm supposed to make you agree not to let anyone but your superiors aware of its contents," she remarks, in a tone that implies she thinks the reminder a superfluous one and Matt would surely do no different, ever. Whether that's sincere or not… it could very well be. "But that file is for you to take back," Sabra concludes.

Matt's assurance that their usual protocol will be followed to the letter is given with a silent nod before he expresses his gratitude with a hurried but sincere "Thank you, Sabra." before he gets to his feet. "I'll let you know if we need to speak again, but…thank you. For everything. And let me know if anything else comes up? I'd like it if the world as we know it didn't end tomorrow."

January 4th: Dreaming in Color
January 4th: Was This an Error?
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