claudia_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Orientation
Synopsis Monica Dawson is given the full history of her inheritance.
Date January 26, 2020

Afternoon sunlight spills through the westerly of the four penthouse windows. Long shadows stretch across the hardwood floors, reach out to the eastern wall. Through the transparent clock face in the window, a view of the Brooklyn Bridge’s shattered span serves as a stark reminder of the state of the world. As if the jagged, concrete graveyard of the Manhattan Exclusion Zone beyond wasn’t enough.

Claudia Zimmerman likes this view most of all. The world viewed through this window is a snapshot of pain, loss, and suffering. But if you pivot to the right just enough, there’s a glimpse of Roosevelt Island and construction crews laboring through the rebuilding process. To Claudia, it is the perfect encapsulation of everything that the current world is: hope built upon ruin.

“It’s time you learn everything,” Claudia says, turning from the window and cradling a fresh cup of tea in both hands. The winter chill emanating from the closed window is imperceptible once she steps away from it. Claudia settles her focus across the lounge, removing one hand from her teacup to fish around in the pocket. From within, she pulls out a copper necklace in the shape of a fishhook dangling from a chain of steel.

It is an old Maori symbol. The hei-matau.

“This is your inheritance, Monica.”

The Clocktower Building, Penthouse
NYC Safe Zone

January 26th
3:47 pm

Monica takes in the view from all four windows with a slow turn as she walks toward the lounge. She pauses at the view of the bridge, letting out a long, quiet breath. Mostly Monica deals with trauma by not lingering on it too much, by finding the next distraction. But that's no way to fix anything, it's just running.

She turns to Claudia when she speaks, her head tilting first at the promise in her words, then at the necklace she produces. Her fingers reach out to support the pendant so she can get a closer look at it. There's no surprise there— everyone's seen the Deveaux Society logo, after all— but a sense of relief. This is what she came here for, to learn everything she could. She was expecting it to be filled with obstacles and hurdles, spy games and sneaking around. Danger. The notion that anything would be willingly given never crossed her mind. She certainly didn't expect anything like an inheritance, be it position, money or knowledge.

Looking up from the fishhook to Claudia's face, she gives her a nod. "I'm ready."

“This all began in 1961,” Claudia says, motioning for Monica to join her as she settles down in an armchair. “Coyote Sands. I imagine your familiar with that story,” she says with a slow shake of her head. “The night of the massacre there was a tremendous storm that tore through the compound. Part of it was created by Alice Shaw, she was a resident there. But part of it was from a confluence of temporal disturbances.”

Claudia pauses to take a sip of her tea. “Several things all crossed together in that moment. One of which was the man who you call Ezekiel. The Richard Cardinal of somewhere around the year 2041. The other,” Claudia inclines her head, “was Hiro Nakamura, circa 2009 or so…” her brows furrow together, “who came back from a flooded future, to change the course of history.”

Claudia sets her half-finished tea down on the table beside her chair. “In his timeline, Hiro worked for his father Kaito, who had established a secret organization to protect people with abilities in light of a corruption spreading through the governments of the world. It as symbolized by that,” she motions to the necklace. “In 1961, Hiro Nakamura met with a young Charles Deveaux, a man who Kaito Nakamura predicted would rise to the occasion had he not died in their timeline.”

Folding her hands in her lap, Claudia looks toward the southerly window, then back to Monica. “That was the beginnings of the Deveaux Society, of our quest to build the best possible future for our kind and humanity. That necklace,” she motions to the one Monica holds, “started it all.”

"Coyote Sands is pretty much required reading," Monica says, her tone lighter than she truly feels about that particular piece of history. But that is her only comment for a stretch, replying instead with nods to confirm she's following. The mention of the other Cardinal causes her to drum the fingers of her cybernetic arm, the only twitch giving away that there might be more churning below her relaxed exterior.

She wonders if Hiro ever knew, in all his jumping through time to stop this catastrophe or that, that he was never saving anything, just spinning off a new branch to the timeline. From her own experience, she hopes he never learned the truth.

Her fingers curl around the necklace, feeling the symbol inside her fingers instead of looking at it. "Noble beginnings," she says, but dry. They all know it didn't stay noble. "How does the necklace figure in? Did Hiro bring it with him?"

“As the story goes, he did,” Claudia confirms. “It was given to him by his father. To the Maori, it’s a symbol for good luck in passage… over water.” She retrieves her tea, taking another sip, then cradles the delicate cup in both hands again.

“Through the years the Deveaux Society has grown. It began as little more than Charles’ intention to build a better future, occasionally fed information by the Hiro Nakamura of the flooded world. In time it grew. Sometime in the 1980s — and I say sometime because, with the redaction now revealed, we don’t know what is true and what isn’t — Alice Shaw came to be secretly kept under our wing. Charles seemed to have a rationale to keep her from her sister, Angela, but I don’t profess to understand what it was.”

Claudia looks down into her tea, eyes distant. “I joined the Society after an attempt was made on my life in the late 1980s, Richard traveled back in time with the help of the very same Hiro Nakamura who started all of this, and saved me from a grim fate. Charles protected me, kept me hidden until things could blow over and I could step back into the light.” She takes another sip from her tea, sighing softly, though remarking nothing on the expression.

“Charles passed away in 2006 from a brain tumor, one that his friends refused to heal. I think Charles was just tired. I don’t think he wanted to be saved.” Claudia says with a slow shake of her head. “His daughter Simone was supposed to sit where you are now, but she was killed by Sylar days before the nuclear explosion in Midtown. Hiro tried to save her on two occasions, and failed both.”

For a moment, Claudia searches her thoughts, her eyes tracking patterns of shadow on the floor. “Sabra Dalton was the last to join, shortly before the collapse of the Company. Together, we formed the organization’s core leadership. But Sabra is getting on in years and retirement has long since been in her view, as much as she ever will retire, anyway. She still helps from the sidelines, but she’s earned her peace and seclusion.” Finished with her tea, Claudia sets the cup down beside her chair again.

“Which, brings us to you.” Claudia says with a motion of both hands to Monica. “Our future and, unbeknownst to us, also our past.”

"Seems like he was good at keeping secrets," Monica says, as far as what Charles' intentions were for Alice. And Claudia herself. "Do you believe he really kept— or ever had— good intentions? Does the Society have them now?" Saving people, keeping them close… it could be out of genuine care, but also could be a way to ensure loyalty. They've all seen people and organizations claiming to mean well exposed for the deepest corruption in recent history.

Monica doubts it was any different in the 80s. Or the 60s. Or now.

While the mention of Richard gets an amused, crooked smile, it's a warmth that's short-lived. The weight of our future settles in heavily. "The future seems more delicate than ever lately," she says, even if it's mostly to herself. She focuses more on Claudia a moment later. "What are the goals for the future here?" Uncovering the past might be more pressing personally, for her grandmother if for no other reason, but how to track down the remains of decades of memories isn't what's at the forefront of her mind in the moment.

“When you’re surrounded by enemies, especially ones you don’t know, a secret is your best weapon.” Claudia opines. “But Charles was… a complicated man. He wanted the best for everyone, but he knew that sometimes that required making difficult choices. Do I agree with everything Charles did?” She shakes her head. “No, but do I empathize with why he made them? Of course. Perspective of history makes us all armchair strategists. But you and I know equally well that, in the moment, it is much harder to know which choice is the right one.”

Leaning back in her seat, Claudia folds her hands in her lap. “Before we discuss the plans for the future, we should talk about how we got here. The resources we deployed and the ones that will ultimately be at your disposal.” She threads a lock of blonde hair behind one ear. “As you know, Hiro Nakamura played an important part in the formation of our society and its agenda. As such, time travel became a point of study for the society. You may recall Hiro recruited you for some… operations.”

“All a part of the plan,” Claudia says with a bit of certainty in her tone. “That America came out of the war in one piece, that Raymond Praeger is president, all of it was a part of an operation running decades and across history. One of our most talented agents, Aria Baumgartner, was sent back from the year 2019 to help ensure the timeline, creating a sort of… closed loop.” Claudia furrows her brows. “People like Rhys Bluthner, also a Society member, help us follow the threads of history and causality.”

The entire topic is heavy with moral choices. The manipulation of history, of historic events, the steering of an entire nation toward a specific goal is… a lot. “Alice, Sabra, and I all agreed that once we were able to steer history past the tumult that began in 2011, we would… disarm, so to speak. So as to not spark a temporal cold war.” Blue eyes dip down to her lap, during which time Claudia admits. “Hiro died to ensure that.”

"I can't deny that," Monica says, those first words ringing more true than maybe Claudia expected. Or maybe exactly as true as she expected. In fact, many of her words hit home. Monica is no stranger to trying to change the future, to making hard choices. But the ones she is most proud of were the ones that only put herself in danger.

The rest sit on a pile of regret she tries not to remember she's buried under.

"I do remember," she says, about her run ins with Hiro and his requests, "He got me arrested." She's not harboring any grudges there. It wasn't the first time she was arrested, nor was it the last time. "Mutually assured destruction is never good, but when the weapon is time itself, I imagine that cold war could have gotten extremely messy. Messier." The parts she was aware of got pretty out of control as it was.

Out of hand, one might say.

Hiro's death is taken in with a swallow. They all always knew how much danger they were all in. But the mention of their choice to disarm makes his sacrifice feel… sour. But at the same time, she isn't without blood on her hands, either.

"Disarm, but not stand down. Your hands are in a lot of pies. So without time travel, what's the arsenal like now?"

“Information,” Claudia explains, “and luck.” There’s a hint of wryness in her voice. “We have access to three primary databases that give us an edge in the modern world. One is the complete Company archives, provided to us by Sabra. While it doesn’t cover the events of the redaction it is decades of Company knowledge so voluminous that it would be impossible for one person to read it all. The second is the Vanguard’s operations archive, retrieved from Antarctica by Aria at my request. That contains the Vanguard’s historic record of superhuman individuals dating back all the way to World War II. Lastly, the Institute’s archive. The full scientific knowledge of the Commonwealth including its research projects and technology derived from Richard’s own knowledge of the future.” The weight of those three pieces of information is as heavy as the knowledge of his this America came to be.

“We have these databases stored digitally at a secure facility in Kansas City, one also used by the US Government.” Claudia explains. “Digitization has given us the ability to parse the massive amount of information, even though Sabra was against it for security purposes. Paper is safer, but a thousand times more difficult to index.”

Claudia looks toward the northerly window, watching the sky darken. “Our personnel resources are our true strength now. Allies who aren’t members of the society, but have aligned visions. Richard, being one. We are who we know. That said, we also have a rather sizable financial fortune, money set aside by Charles for the purpose of keeping the Society running. We have financial officers in three countries managing our money. That’s a bit more dry, but I can have my son Niklaus walk you through it when he returns from Stockholm. He’s been handling much of our financial side of things as of late.”

"You guys have… copies, right? I understand the benefits of digital, obviously, but Sabra's not wrong that it's more vulnerable that way." Monica knows enough technopaths to make her nervous about anything too important being digitalized. She has to assume that anything she and her allies are capable of, so is any enemy she might have. "I'd love a look at those. And any information your son can give me about where we are financially. The more I know, the more useful I can be."

She doesn't offer her opinion on their alliance with Richard, not right now. She's not even certain what he's gotten himself into just now, but she knows enough about his connection with the Deveaux Society to want to touch base with him first.

"What about current objectives? Projects… adversaries?" Need to know things. And no part of Monica's fight for the future has been without opposition.

“Copies are dangerous,” Claudia explains with a flattening of her expression. “We retrieve data based on inquiries on specific or broad topics, but the data is intended to be destroyed beyond a specific date. The hard copies all still exist, but they’re contained in a long-term storage vault on the isle of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle.”

As for topics of current projects and adversaries, Claudia exhales a slow and steady sigh. “We’ve been trying to ascertain details regarding the redaction. The Entity, whatever it is, poses a real and present threat. We’ve also been attempting to analyze data on the terrorist organization Mazdak, and coordinate with the federal government to indict key members of Praxis Heavy Industries for criminal conduct. We need Praxis out of America. We’ve also had our hands keeping tabs on Adam Monroe.”

Claudia grimaces a bit. “Due to my dual role here and as SESA’s secretary, we have extremely broad political power. That also means we’re invested in trying to keep the current administration. If some narrow-minded bigot like Frederick Medina were elected, it could destroy not only us but the entire country.”

"So long as the originals are safe, that's something. Is that the same vault with a sample of all the seeds we would need in case the world ended?" Monica's pretty sure it is. Or, at least, that all hypersecure mega vaults must be in the same frozen neighborhood.

She uncrosses her legs and lifts herself back up to her feet, the necklace turning between her fingers as she moves to look out at the view again. Broken, but rebuilding. Wounds knitting back together, even though the scars will never leave.

There is a certain comfort in it, for her.

"And you need the pennies, like what you gave my Nana," she says, in a tone that's half question and half statement. "And the people they match to. Or to comb through three massive databases for information." There is exactly one technopath that Monica would trust to help with that. But she doesn't know where Asi even is at the moment. However, she knows that a good technopath is always listening.

A bad one, too.

"The Entity should certainly be at the top of the list. However, these other bits all feed into it. To know it is to strengthen it, but since that damage is already done, the more we know the more likely we can find a real answer to beating it. What I know is that what has worked before was never a real solution, just a stopgap. A finger in the dam. Adam Monroe knows more than he's willing to say. But maybe if we find the right person, he'll feel… chattier." Monica looks back, that last matter getting her attention.

"Someone that cruel and stupid in power would really be a nightmare. One we really don't need, I agree with that. So what's the play?" There are options, after all.

Some more tasteful than others.

“That isn’t always our choice to make,” Claudia explains, angling her head to the side. “Right now, we’re actively supporting Praeger’s bid for re-election. His skeletons in the closet were all aired during the war and he was re-elected post-conflict, so we’re hoping that remains true in November. We also need to dig into Medina, find out anything that could damage his reputation or campaign, but also handle it discreetly. We can’t be revealed. Obviously, the world might pitch an understandable fit if knowledge of our actions ever got out.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

“As for the Monroe situation, you’re right that it does all feed together.” Claudia says. Whenever Adam’s name is raised, she becomes tense. “My daughter, Niki.” She looks up to Monica. “I believe Adam has taken her. I have reason to believe he was also behind the abduction of Jacelyn Childs several months ago. The most we know is that his current nerve center is in the California Safe Zone and that he may have a proxy army in a resurgent Shedda-Dinu.” Claudia lifts a hand to her brow, massaging there. “SESA is following up on the Shedda-Dinu angle, we’re hoping to land a firm blow against them once we’re confident it will stick. We have a task force keeping an eye on Adam, as well as Eve Mas, who seems hell-bent on curling her fingers into this mess and…” she doesn’t even know what Eve’s endgame is. She’s not sure Eve knows either.

“That said, extra-judicially, we have people like Richard looking into things.” Claudia explains quietly. “That’s where our real freedom lies, and where I’d like you to focus your efforts first. Rebuilding our network. The war cost us a lot of connections, and I would like the Deveaux Society to diversify its allies. Even if they never realize they’re working with us, whichever arrangement is appropriate.”

"Behind the figure behind the throne. It's not what I'm most known for, but I do understand when to be discreet." Of course, that is the point. Monica is loud and impossible to miss— and that's how she likes people to assume she operates. If they knew she could also be invisible, then she wouldn't be a very good ninja.

Of course, once the news about Niki is out, everything else might as well never have been spoken. Her head tilts in a jerking motion. Everything else Adam and Praxis and Shedda Dinu have been up to is awful, and she's been trying to end their influence herself. But taking Niki is different. That's personal. That's family. She straightens up with a sniff and crosses back over to retake her seat.

"I'll see what I can find out about Niki. And the Childs kid." That may be an afterthought, but she does mean it. "But allies I can do. Plenty of people want to move on all these points." Probably not a surprise that an ex-terrorist, ex-freedom fighter, ex-assassin would have the right kind of connections for this sort of thing. Even if it means her own role is a little different than usual.

“Good,” Claudia says as the sun eclipses behind a ruined skyscraper out the westerly window, casting the clocktower into darkness. Automated lights come on one by one, filling the space with a warm, candle-lit radiance. “I think that’s enough work for one day. I’ll have Aria show you to your suite, it’s ready for you now. Tomorrow, I’ll give you proper introduction to our primary staff and introduce you to your assistant.”

Claudia offers a smile at that.

“I think you two will get along famously.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License