Old Friends, Part I


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Old Friends, Part I
Synopsis SESA sets their sights on Adam Monroe.
Date April 30, 2019

“Good morning mister Monroe,” Caspar exhales in tired tone, as though this meeting was a rote one. “My name is Mr. Abraham, and I've got just a couple of things I need to take care of here today.

From the other side of the cell door, Adam approaches the viewing slat and slowly tilts his head to the side. Blue eyes square on Caspar. “You're new,” he admits with a look up and down of what he can see of the gray-bearded man. “Come t’clip off another trimming, hmm? Going t’try to grow a new one in a little jar?”

Caspar frowns, sweeping off his brown fedora and holding it to his chest. “Now I can't profess to know what sort of barbarism you’ve experienced down here, Mr. Monroe—


“Of course, Adam.” Caspar fishes around in a pocket, producing a shiny new penny from within. He flashes a quick and easy smile, followed by the simple request of, “a penny for your thoughts?”

Adam rolls his eyes so hard he may have done damage to his neck. The blonde man sweeps away from his door and drags his hands down his face, exhaling an exasperated sigh into his palms. “Do come in chap, shoes off though I'd hate for you to track any dirt in.”

After putting his hat back on, Caspar pulls out a magnetic key card and slides it through a reader on the door. The light stays red. He tries again, still red.

“You're got t’tug it to the right a little,” Adam so helpfully asserts. Casper makes a soft ah sound and swipes the card a third time with it angled to the right, and the light turns green with an electronic buzz. Caspar—

The door crashes open as Adam plows through the unlocked entrance. He throws himself at Caspar with hands grasping around his thick neck. Caspar exhales a scream as he flies backwards and down to the floor with Adam straddling him.

“Who was stupid enough to let you down here alone!?” Adam leans in to Caspar, exhaling a ragged growl into the heavier man’s face. “Did you really think I was going to—”

A gunshot goes off, a spray of blood exits the side of Adam’s neck and he gurgles, thrashing to the side and snarling through teeth stained red. Caspar looks up to his right, where Benjamin Ryans stands with a handgun out, leveled at Adam. “Caspar, I told you to wait for us.”

Adam is already up on his feet, the wound at the side of his neck having fully healed. “Benny,” Adam murmurs in a cool and slick way. “Got any other trrrrrr— rrr— rr…//” Adam ceases talking, eyes rolling back in his head this time out of involuntary muscle spasm rather than sarcasm. From the hallway behind Ryans an older man slowly approaches, brows furrowed and lips downturned to a frown: Charles Deveaux.

“Mr. Abraham.” Charles moves with a languid stiffness, needing a cane to walk. He visibly looks ill, though struggles to hide it. “I warned you about this one. I would… appreciate it if you'd listen more clearly next time.”

As Ryans helps Caspar up, Charles comes to stand beside him and watches Adam convulsing where he stands. There's an evident look of concentration on Charles’ face. He motions to the door, “Go, Adam.” At that mental command, Adam stumbles and staggers back into his cell like a twitching marionette.

Caspar rubs one hand at his neck, then picks up the penny from the floor. “I'm— sorry, Mr. Deveaux. I got wrapped up in… he seemed so…”

“He gets inside your head,” Ryans explains, a look leveled to Charles. “Without an ability to do that.” Caspar nods to the explanation, bending down to pick up his hat and penny, then looks to Charles.

Charles nods, letting Ryans and Caspar enter Adam’s cell first. Behind them, he pauses to look down at the blood on the floor, then slowly moves in behind them. Adam remains in a catatonic state, spamming and thrashing as he tries to fight Charles’ mental control.

“Caspar,” Charles indicates with a gesture to him, “I'm going to bring to the forefront of Adam’s mind, memories of something called Project Looking Glass. I'm going to need you to collect all of the information that he experiences, and detain it as you do.”

“All of it, sir?”

“Every last word.” Charles closes his eyes, hands braced on the back of his cane. Brows furrow, the corners of his mouth twitch, and Adam’s spasming abruptly stops. Caspar approaches, fishing that penny out of his pocket again. He comes to stand, anxiously, beside Adam and presses the penny into his open palm.

“What am I looking at?” Adam speaks aloud, mumbled and slurred like someone talking in a dream. Caspar closes his eyes, placing a hand on Adam’s forehead. “A window to what, though? Because all I'm seeing is… oh.” Adam’s head lolls to the side. “Arthur, my god, what am I looking at?”

Caspar’s eyes open, rapidly twitching from side to side as though he were seeing or reading something moving incredibly fast in his field of vision. “Never?” Adam’s tone is incredulous. “How is that even possible? Unless…” blonde brows twitch. “If they never escaped Coyote Sands, then… we wouldn't…” Adam’s lips part, slowly. “Arthur. What is this?”

Caspar exhales a sharp breath and pulls the penny out of Adam’s palm. Charles too breathes a deep sigh and nearly collapses, until Ryans wraps an arm around him until he can steady himself. “Ryans,” Charles says in an unsteady voice.

“You're next.”

Thirty-Five Years Later

Fort Jay

Governors Island, NYC Safe Zone

April 30th

6:14 am

Phone calls at five in the morning don’t often herald good news.

It’s been an hour since the calls first went out. Fresh cups of coffee sit in front of nearly every chair in the Syracuse Room at Fort Jay, also known as the Vault, the largest conference room in the complex and the most protected from technological surveillance. The windowless room is lit by mercifully dimmed fluorescent lights overhead. Physical dossiers sit beside each cup of coffee, each of them having the same photograph of a stern-looking blonde man paperclipped to them.

Adam Monroe.

“Thank you everyone,” is the brisk greeting Director Madeline Choi gives as she bursts into the conference room, carrying a leather folio under one arm. She’s the last to join the meeting, and Assistant Director Voss shifts in his chair, turning his attention over to Choi as she settles into her seat, hardly missing a beat.

“If everyone could open your files to the first page…” Choi says as one of her aides quickly moves to fetch her a coffee and then excuse himself from the room. “We can begin.”

There was no preface to this meeting, just a high-priority summons to be at Fort Jay for 6:15am emergency briefing. Noah Bennet and Benjamin Ryans were the first ones here, and the two men are seated next to one another with the former reviewing the dense information in this dossier. Nicole Varlane wasn’t far behind them, seated with her fellow members of this high-priority task force.

The presence of Claudia Zimmerman at the table is nerve-wracking. SESA national director, founder of the organization, personal friend to the President and surviving member of the Company. The knife-sharp attention she’s leveled on Agent Ryans and Agent Bennet is intense, and a stare that thankfully Nicole has managed to avoid falling under so far. Director Zimmerman hasn’t said a word since this meeting began, hands folded in her lap and brow tense.

Assistant Director Voss stands up from his seat, flipping open his own hard copy of the information. “Yesterday at 0800 hours SESA received a credible tip about the physical location of Adam Monroe. We have confirmed the veracity of this sighting through multiple, vetted sources.”

Voss takes in a deep breath, then looks over at Choi, then back down to his documents. “Monroe was spotted in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, in what was once the township of Toms River. We have a strong reason to believe Monroe may still be in the area, but we don’t have numbers on his potential assets in the region.”

Nicole arrives literally bright-eyed and only proverbially bushy-tailed in spite of the hour. As she makes her way to her seat at the table, she pauses at Ryans' seat, leaning over to murmur an assurance that she handled childcare for their daughter, should this turn out to be an all-day affair. Once she claims her own place at the table and her coffee, she feels her instincts are probably correct.

To her credit, she avoids glancing in Director Zimmerman's direction with any frequency, without directly avoiding looking that way at all. It helps to have the file in front of her to focus on. Her expression is neutral, but there's a certain tension coiling beneath her placid exterior.

The addition of Nicole to the team had been a surprise, but a welcome one for Benjamin; even if it meant childcare issues on occasion. He appreciated having people he knew and trusted behind him on this task force.

File open in front of him, Ben is intent on the woman at the front of the room. Leaning on the table in front of him, hand grasped over the blunt end of this other arm. Zimmerman could look at him as sternly as she wanted, he doesn’t flinch away. Only offered her a respectful incline of his head when he noticed her. He’s been on the receiving end of too many of those looks.

The mention of Pine Barrens is curious and Ryans doesn’t ask about who gave the tip, though the question clings to the back of his mind. Who were they and how credible. Leaning back, Ben turns his attention to the file in front of him, turning the pages slowly, while glancing to where Choi stands every now and then.

“Our interrogation of Pete Varlane following the handoff from Wolfhound has given us an unsettling amount of information,” Voss says with a brief but wary look over at Claudia. “We now know for a fact that Adam Monroe was the sole driving force behind the resurgence of the Institute following the war, and that he was manipulating assets within the corporation as far back as 2010. Mr. Varlane explained that Adam contacted him directly, looking to set up a transactional arrangement where Pete would provide material access to Institute secrets and research in exchange for Adam giving him a literal pound of flesh to continue…” Voss flips a page on his dossier, “a literal Nazi-era science experiment regarding human cloning from Adam’s DNA. A project called Hydra.”

Voss flips past the scans of old Nazi-era research papers, including black and white photographs of Adam from the 1940s, to more current information. “We also know that the Institute remnants operating out of Sunstone Manor were working on a gene splicing technology called Gemini. We’ve analyzed the hardware found at Sunstone and confirmed that their researchers developed a chemical treatment to strip SLC-Expressive abilities from one person and transpose them onto another.”

“The Institute security operative Wolfhound picked up last year,” Voss says, paging to her dossier, “Lauren Gilmore, was a recipient of an early version of this treatment and died of organ failure in our custody from side effects surrounding the procedure. We currently have our scientists at the Plum Island facility working on research pertaining to Gemini so that we have a better understanding of it.”

Scrubbing a hand over his mouth, Voss looks up to the three agents across from him. “We need Monroe, we need him yesterday. This is the first time he’s popped up on anyone’s radar in almost ten years, and if we don’t take the opportunity to get him now we might never have that chance again. But if we roll into the Pine Barrens with a literal army he’s going to rabbit before we even cross the horizon.”

Voss closes his dossier. “I want the three of you to follow up on this lead. There’s a small community out in the Barrens, locals call it Providence. It’s the only sizable community within a short travel of what remains of Toms River and would serve as a suitable, discreet, base of operations while you gather intelligence on what Adam is doing out there.” Sitting back down in his chair, Voss seems like a whirlwind of energy barely contained by his stillness. He starts to speak again, but Claudia interjects.

“We lost track of Monroe in 2010,” Claudia says with a look at the three, “and over the last nine year he’s built a vast criminal enterprise of mercenaries, scientists, and SLC-Expressives that we only have a fraction of an understanding of. If there is any weight to the rumors that he’s a driving force behind Praxis Heavy Industries, we need him. Dead or alive doesn’t matter, though the latter might honestly be easier given the givens.”

There is no mistaking Claudia’s business-first attitude. No mistaking that she has no love lost for Adam. “The three of you have the proper backgrounds, connections, and skill sets to do this. You’ll have the full support of the US government behind you on this, but we have to play this cautious. I’m sure you understand.”

Nicole pages through the dossier in front of her as the briefing moves forward, glancing up at Voss periodically as he speaks. Her eyes linger on the image of Lauren Gilmore and the explanation of what happened to her. It's unsettling to say the least, and only cements in her mind the notion that Monroe has to be stopped. No one deserves to go out like that.

Nicole nods her head to Claudia's direction to proceed with caution. Her attention shifts to Bennet, then Ryans. She'll follow their leads on this. While she's subtle when it comes to politics, her style in the field was a bit more shock and awe. That has its place, and this is not it.

Blue eyes are narrowed under a furrowed brow as Benjamin listens to each speaker in turn. Discreet meant blending in with the locals. A look to Noah and Nicole, tells the old man that itself was going to be a challenge. Anyone with, minimum, the ability to read would possibly know their faces.

Looking down at the folder in front of him, Ryans asks a simple question, “What type of information do we have on this Providence?” It was great to say it was a perfect base, but it depended on there being no surprises and them being able to blend in. Fingers flip through the file. “Small tends to mean close knit and dependent on each other.” His tone isn’t criticizing, but it was a fair question. “Means suspicious of outsiders.” Even known war heroes, which means he was looking for an edge.

“Providence is an unusual situation,” Voss indicates with a look over to Claudia, then back to Ryans. “Your assessment is correct, in that it is a small and tight-knit community, but we’ve heard rumors of a paramilitary group that’s reinforced the town. We don’t know much about them, officially, and I’d rather we not speculate about who they may or may not be. It could be Monroe’s people, it might not be.”

“Part of your assignment will obviously be information-gathering and ingratiating yourselves in with the people of Providence, however you see fit. SESA will, of course, support you in any strategy you wish to implement.” As Voss glances over at Claudia, Bennet finally leans forward and looks at the documents, then up to the executive leaders in the room.

“I’m familiar with communities like this,” Bennet explains, “I spent the last eight years in Washington State setting up a similar community. They are insular, and they are suspicious. But they’re also survivors, and recognize their size compared to something like the US government. We can leverage that fear.” He says, glancing over to Ryans, “If we need to.”

Claudia clears her throat, then looks over to Nicole. “Agents Bennet and Ryans are somewhat more well-known than you. Given Kenner’s departure from the agency, I feel it may be prudent to recommend you… presume you were also let go. Perhaps wanting to transplant and start somewhere else. You, of all people here, have some familiarity with operating under an assumed identity.” Sort of, Claudia chooses not to add. But the legacy of Stephanie Ciati being invoked in this meeting is the last thing Nicole expected to happen. “Obviously this is going to require finesse on all your parts.”

“Obviously,” Bennet says in such a way as to come off as a little smug.

Nicole's smile is thin, but not ungrateful. She understands a compliment when she receives it, however backhanded it may be. "I think I can manage to convince people I want a fresh start." Her jaw sets then, a physical indication of her determination to do well in this assignment.

She makes eye contact with Claudia for a moment and nods her head. "I'll plan on relocating to Providence." A glance is spared down the table to Ryans. "We can discuss what shape that takes after this meeting." It's not phrased as a question. Nicole doesn't soften her pitches in that way. A brief look to Bennet says he's allowed to weigh in as well, even if his stakes are vastly different from the others'.

There is a thoughtful look as Benjamin listens, his head bobbing a bit in understanding; but, it is clear that the gears were turning behind those blue eyes. It would take come convincing that is for sure. “Lucky for me. Only a few people know I’m back in the game.” He slowly closes the folder and rests a hand over it, gently patting it. “So an old war vet feeling stifled by the Safe Zone might not be turned away.” Ben looks aside to Nicole. “If it is a small community, they might not push away someone who who knows how to work the land.”

Cutting a look over at Noah, Ryans adds, “Even better if the militia takes notice. Might allow more freedom of movement.”

Taking a deep breath and sighing it out, Ryans rumbles out a, “I think it’s doable.” At least for himself. He doesn’t know about Noah. tho.

“I can blend in,” Bennet says quietly. “I'm used to doing reconnaissance on my own. If any of the people in Providence are former Ferrymen I can leverage my reputation to garner trust. The only people who know I'm out here are in this room and the lobby…” Bennet flips through the dossiers, brows furrowed and thoughtful.

Voss offers a side-eye to Bennet, then nods. “We've included Wolfhound’s full report of their assault on Sunstone in the hard copies. With signs pointing to Adam’s potential involvement in that operation, we have to presume some of the material assets on hand. Robots,” Voss shakes his head, “these triplets, one of whom has teleportation, one with some sort of kinetic absorption, another that… we don't know. Disassembles matter?” He sighs, loudly.

“Read the briefs, stay informed,” Claudia says with a considerable gravity. “If you have any questions we can provide whatever additional context you need, otherwise we can leave the three of you to take this on.”

"No doubt," Nicole offers to Bennet's assertion. He avoided detection for so long with the Company and beyond. He's one of the best at what he does. So is Ryans. Part of her wonders why she was chosen for this mission, and she glances to Director Zimmerman as she has that thought, but ultimately returns her gaze to the sheaf of paper in front of her.

"One question. Blending in is one thing, but what about infiltration?" Blue eyes scan the room, gauging reactions. "What if we can find a way to implant one of us in Monroe's organization?" There's only one person among the agents assigned with an ability.

“Too risky,” Ryans says before he can stop himself. Well, he’s said it now. The look he gives Nicole says he knows what she’s thinking, though his hand comes up to stall her counter. “He has a considerable organization beneath him, then it stands he could have any number of power sets at his disposal.” He glances to Noah and back to the big wigs before them; especially, Claudia. Maybe hoping they back him up on this.

“Any organization I’ve been in has had a vetting process,” Benjamin points out. “Human lie detectors, telepaths, you name it. Even if his ego makes him think he doesn’t have to worry, the man is surrounded by smart people that will make sure it’s done.”

In conclusion, “It’s too risky,” Ben repeats.

“Agreed,” Noah says thoughtfully. “If we had the appropriate abilities to fool his people, that would be one thing. But, short of jump-starting his car,” Noah flicks a look over to Nicole, offering her a good-natured smile, “we’re all rather mundane people. That said, we might be able to work someone already in his ranks, someone with a vulnerability. But we’ll need to make a profile of the people who have his associations, and that could take more time than we have.”

Claudia nods in agreement about time. “We have a name of one person who is alleged to have made contact with Monroe in the last 12 months,” she says, drawing to attention a name within the files and a photograph of a dark-haired woman no older than her early 20s.

“Berlin Beckett,” Voss explains. “She recanted a murder confession involving a former Institute scientist she’d found in the Dead Zone. The record was struck, nothing we’re going to follow up on. However, before she recanted and before the case was closed by our officers as having no actionable evidence, we reached out to Ms. Beckett’s superiors in Wolfhound.”

Choi shakes her head slowly as sighs. “We spoke to Commander Avi Epstein, former CIA special activities, former Ferrymen. I believe Ryans and Bennet have some former association with him, and obviously Ryans… with your daughter’s employ in Wolfhound…” Choi trails off, looking at Voss who continues her line of thought.

“Epstein informed us that Beckett had an encounter with what he called a clone of Adam Monroe. Someone who lacked Monroe’s regeneration, but wore his face.” Voss eyes Choi, then looks back over to the trio. “We believe this is a likely possibility, given what we’ve learned of Pete Varlane’s expressive ability and the research that went on at Sunstone involving the Varlane family. It’s possible the Adam Monroe we’ve spotted in the Pine Barrens could also be this… facsimile. But we don’t have much more information to go on at present. We also can’t be certain this isn’t some face-manipulation or illusion-based trick.”

Noah looks down at the document, brows furrowed. “She burned the remains,” he reads from the file. “Hm. Beckett’s still deployed with Wolfhound?” He asks, looking back up to Voss, who nods.

“Correct. All of her contact information is contained within her file,” Voss says with a motion to the paperwork. “It’s your discretion whether you follow her as a valuable lead.”

Nicole returns Noah's glance with a flat look. She can do far more than jump-start a car, thank you very much. But she won't argue, because he's not entirely wrong, and the approach he's suggesting makes sense.

Beckett is a name she recognizes and Nicole frowns faintly at the tale. "I worked with Epstein during the war too," Nicole reminds in a soft voice. "And my sister's friends with Ms Beckett as well. She might feel she can trust me." Still, she cants her head toward Ryans to indicate that the ball is in his court. She'll chase whatever lead he sets her on.

The mention of Berlin grabs Ryans attention, brows flicking up briefly before settling again. Well… He listens to what’s said and keeps quiet through most of it, though he knows a lot of what is said to the three of them; doesn’t even interrupt Nicole.

“I know Berlin,” Ryans comments after a moment, “She’s my eldest’s best friend and considered family.” Which is something Nicole understands. It isn’t just anyone who is pulled into the Ryans fold. He does gloss over the fact that the girl often stays at his house… Lucille took it poorly and he didn’t want to have that discussion again.

“She’ll help.” Benjamin feels confident of that at least. “I can talk to her or Nicole can.” He will go either way. Since both of them have family members close to the young woman.

Claudia is the first to close her copy of the file, sliding it over to Voss for destruction later. “I trust you to handle it, that’s why we chose you. You’re the best qualified to deal with this Monroe situation before it snowballs out of control any more than it already has.” Slowly rising from her seat, Claudia’s movement acts as a figurative gavel strike ending this meeting.

“Thank you, Agents.” Choi says to the trio, and the tone strikes Nicole especially true. Agent. “Voss will be your direct liaison on this, and we’re keeping this operation under the highest confidentiality. You may review the physical documents here at your leisure, but those papers do not leave this conference room.” It’s called the vault for a few reasons.

Voss slowly stands, offering Bennet a momentary and mild look, and something less flat to Nicole and Ryans. “The President would prefer we bring Monroe in alive, but he was not firm on that mandate,” is delivered like a parting shot across the agents’ bows. “Your hands aren’t tied. Do what you have to.” Voss picks up Choi’s paperwork and stacks it atop Claudia’s, then adds it to his own to bring out for destruction.

Claudia lingers by the door as the Director and Deputy-Director leave, then offers a partly-lidded stare over to the three agents. “Use whatever assets you must,” she says confidently, “whoever, whatever. But get the job done.” She doesn’t leave any room for negotiation, or even acknowledgement. Claudia leaves the conference room with a purposeful stride, and as she departs Bennet slouches back into his chair and lifts up his glasses and scrubs at his eyes and over the bridge of his nose.

“Well,” Bennet exhales the word, looking down the table to Nicole and Ryans.

“Ready to save the world?”

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