Not My Work


elisabeth_icon.gif pratt_icon.gif

Scene Title Not My Work
Synopsis Elisabeth makes the drive to Maine to confront Victoria Pratt about her past, all alone.
Date June 18, 2009

Outside Searsmont, Maine

Searsmont, Maine. Summer warmth and sunshine without New York's humidity. It's a pleasant morning, gold light filtering through green leaves; there are more trees than pavement out here, and the environment is anything but urban. No wonder, then, that the first and greatest part of Victoria Pratt's property is taken up by her garden, that sprawling sculpture painstakingly crafted from life itself. With summer approaching, the plants have all unfurled their leaves, and many their flowers; bees buzz, birds warble, and the woman working in the dirt does so in peace.

Or — she did.

The car that pulls into the long driveway stops near but not at the front door, and the blond woman within the vehicle doesn't immediately get out. When the car door opens and she steps out, it is without a blazer or jacket on — just a pair of gray slacks and a light-green top, and it can be easily seen that she's not armed. Maybe that's the point. Though Liz glances toward the house, the sight and sound of someone out in the garden makes her pause in her movements long enough to decide whether to approach the woman among the plants. And then Elisabeth turns deliberately to make her way toward the gardener, careful where she steps among the obviously well-tended and well-loved plants. "It's a beautiful layout," she compliments the woman quietly as she gets close enough — not so close as to be a threat, but not so far she has to shout. "I'm looking for Victoria Pratt," she says, knowing full well from the photo that this is the woman she seeks.

She can ignore the car. She can't completely disregard the woman who walks up the path from the road. Victoria straightens and turns to face the interloper, brushing dirt off her hands. The red hair, the angles of her face — she's unmistakably the woman from the picture, even if her scowl is rather unlike it. "Never heard of her," is the brusque retort, too swift and abrupt to be anything other than defensive — anything except true. "You've seen the garden, now get off my property." There's a shotgun close to hand, in the lee of a rock wall; judging by Victoria's demeanor she's not afraid to snatch it up and wield it if the intruder doesn't disappear herself right quick.

Not as if she isn't expecting resistance in lots of forms. Elisabeth shoves her hands into her pockets and says quietly, "Dr. Pratt… if it weren't life or death, believe me… I would not be on your doorstep. They're trying to mass produce and release the Formula, ma'am. I can't just let that happen. The way I understand it, it was split apart specifically so that couldn't happen."

The woman's eyes narrow; too much to hope for, apparently, that this stranger hadn't done her homework. "I am out. O-U-T out. Take your problems anywhere else." Victoria is not prepared to give up her resistance that easily.

Elisabeth sighs heavily. "Look, I don't want to drag you back into this," Liz replies. "You want out? Hell, so do I. I know the formula's in two parts and a human catalyst. And I know that Arthur Petrelli just had the part in Kaito Nakamura's possession stolen. If you want the whole damn lot of them to run off an build their Evo army, fine. But I'm guessing you got out because you didn't want to see what a bastardized version of all your work was going to look like. At least point me in the right direction. Please? Help me stop them. Petrelli is already killing people to keep his secrets — the founders who know the information are probably high on that kill list." She nods toward the shotgun. "Or you wouldn't be so nervous. Please, Dr. Pratt?" She's not above begging if it will help. And she doesn't attempt to convince the woman with her ability, either.

The lines in Pratt's face deepen, aggravated distaste at Elisabeth's persistence — and her news. She looks like she's about to protest again — though with Elisabeth simply standing there, the shotgun at least seems destined to remain on the ground. "You want Zimmerman," she finally spits out. "The Formula was not my work."

Elisabeth blinks and looks puzzled. "Zimmerman? Who the hell is Zimmerman?" she asks in confusion.

A bit of a smirk appears on Victoria's features at the interloper's apparent confusion. "Weren't expecting that, were you?" she asks with something resembling amusement, albeit in that same brusque and unwelcoming tone. She leans down to pick up a pair of clippers, snipping a couple of red, cup-shaped blossoms off the vine trailing over the garden wall. "I bet you just got your paws on the list of Founders. Well, he wasn't."

There's a faint shrug and Elisabeth acknowledges, "You're right I wasn't. From all I'd gathered, you're one of the best in the field, so I expected it was your work. Or that you'd at least overseen it." Her tone is not accusatory, though. "Tell me about this Zimmerman. Do you know where I can find him?" Now bitterness bleeds through. "Hell, he's probably already dead anyway. But it's worth a try." Even if Pratt is pissed, she's still talking, and that's something.

"You're obviously not a scientist. Though I admit neither of us have published in a long, long time." Snip; another blossom removed. Victoria also prunes some of the tendrils back, discarding flowers and leaves alike in a small pile on the dirt. "My specialty was viral genetics. Zimmerman was one of the first and best to study gene therapy. Last I heard, he'd retired," Pratt adds offhand, giving Elisabeth a narrow-eyed, sidelong look. "Kinda like me. He picked somewhere warm. Place down in New Mexico."

Elisabeth smiles faintly. "Well, I promise I'll leave you to your retirement pretty damn quick, Dr. Pratt," she says quietly, and she studies the woman. "Any chance your work was on the Shanti virus that they tried to unleash on Manhattan last fall?"

The stricken expression that flickers across Victoria's face is answer enough. "Damn him." And yet it's now that the shotgun comes up, swings around to aim directly at Elisabeth's center of mass. "Get out."

Elisabeth backs up three steps and both hands come up out of her pockets to raise up in a gesture of surrender. She's unarmed and not going to threaten the woman. "Damn him indeed," she says quietly. "One last question, please? I won't bother you again. Do you know who the human catalyst is, Dr. Pratt?"

Since the woman does have the sense to back up, Victoria doesn't shoot Elisabeth. She doesn't lower the gun, either. "No." Pratt does gesture with a jerk of its muzzle towards the road; go. "When you see Monroe, take his head off for me."

"Lady, you can count on it," Elisabeth says quietly. And she studies Victoria Pratt one more time. "Be careful… I know he's on the loose in Manhattan looking for founders. So far, as far as I'm aware, he's not getting anywhere. Good luck, Dr. Pratt." And she turns and walks back toward her car. At the very least, a "Dr. Zimmerman" in gene therapy now living in retirement in New Mexico shouldn't be too hard to find. Assuming the woman was telling the truth.

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