Plan for the Future


bf_kathleen_icon.gif magnes_icon2.gif bf_tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Plan for the Future
Synopsis Magnes has a plan, and seeks advice on how to make it happen. The answers he receives are not the ones he desired.
Date April 17, 2012

MIT, Cambridge, MA

The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory on the MIT campus is a large concrete and glass building with distinctly modern aesthetic tucked into the sharp angle of an irregular intersection. Around the main entrance, its facade is solid green-tinged glass fronted by an expanse of greenery and a crowded bike rack; the doors themselves sit behind a large raised bed featuring a tree neatly pruned into pyramidal shape, the stairs by which to access the entrance on its left.

Kathleen Brooks sits on the concrete wall of the planting bed, dressed in jeans and sneakers and a navy-blue polo shirt, blonde hair bound back in a ponytail. It's clear in her demeanor she's waiting for someone, toes of one foot idly tapping the air, gaze scanning up and down the street in search of a familiar face. When she finds it, the woman drops down to the ground and steps forward to meet her guest, offering him a broad smile. "Ness. I'm glad you could make it — and sorry to make you come out all this way," is added with a wry twist to that smile. She tips her head in the direction of the building. "I'll show you to the lab; Tam's already up there."

"Hey, Kathleen." Magnes follows, smiling back at her. He's wearing his black leather jacket over a white button up with a black tie, some blue jeans and black Converse. He takes in the area as he follows her, still amazed by how new everything looks. Not just compared to Virus World, but his world too in many ways. "Anyone ever tell you that you look like Kat from Power Rangers? The name is a weird coincidence."

Kathleen does a double-take at Magnes as she leads the way into the building, and laughs. "No, I have to say that's a new one." Her expression goes pensive, lips pressing together. "I think about all my exposure to Power Rangers were these little plastic coins McDonald's gave out once." She shakes her head, pressing the call button for an elevator. "That was a long time ago."

The interior of the building follows that extra-modern bright white flavor of interior design, the kind where walls and floor and ceiling all seem to blend together in an almost mind-numbing way. It's no surprise, then, to find that the inside of the elevator is all equally modern steel aesthetic, only just short of mirror-shined. "How's Columbia treating you?" Kathleen asks, by way of passing the few seconds of their ride up. "Get settled in there all right?" A grin flickers across her expression. "I'd ask you to compare facilities, but we're in completely different disciplines, so there's no contest."

"It's interesting. They've taken to trying to use my ability to prove super string theory. I think they want me to sense string frequencies. I don't know how I'm supposed to do that, but they keep hooking my brain up to electronics, so I guess we'll see what happens." Magnes presses a hand against the elevator wall, staring up, then down at it. "Elevators always feel kind of weird. It's like Earth is angry at me and my body is instinctively resisting it, so I always kind of feel like I'm about to float."

Kathleen looks askance at Magnes' description of his lab activities. "Huh. That does seem strange. Though, what I know about string theory can be written on the head of a pin." Her expression becomes thoughtful as he continues. "Do you prefer stairs? I didn't even think — most people default to elevators."

Said device opens up onto their destination floor with a distinctive chime. The hall outside looks an awful lot like the one they left, except for being blocked off by double doors a few feet down. Kathleen waves her badge in the direction of the associated card reader and leads her guest into the lab proper. The first part of it is a large open area full of workbenches, overhead cabinets, wall counters, and shelves. "We'll just go this way…" She takes a sharp turn through another door into an office area with thin industrial carpet and scattered groups of cubicles, unerringly moving past them to a particular conference room — one whose door is opened just in advance of their approach. "…And here we are," is a completely unnecessary comment on Kathleen's part, given that.

Through the doorway, Tamara smiles brightly at them both, before stepping back so they can enter. She wears a floral print shirt over jeans; less typical is the drab knit cap that snugly covers most of her skull. The room around her is perhaps surprising, more comfortable than the usual run of conference rooms — indeed, it's furnished more like a lounge, with a sofa on one side, upholstered chairs on the other, and two endtables masquerading as a coffee table in the middle. There's a carafe of water on one, and only two glasses set out.

"I usually take the stairs if I can't just take a window. I float up the stairs." Magnes explains as they leave the elevator, and he breathes a sigh of relief. "It's not too uncomfortable. I have a lot of weird things with my ability. Like the rain, the rain is overwhelming to be in for me. It's not… bad, but I feel a little claustrophobic in the rain, because of my ability."

He motions a hand to her, as if to offer an example. "You're in my orbit, there's a few things in my orbit right now. When it rains, there's hundreds or thousands of things in my orbit. It's… weird."

But when they arrive, he moves to take a seat on the sofa, removing his jacket to get a little more comfortable. "So, I have a lot of things that I want to discuss… I kind of wonder if you already know what I'll say, but I guess we should just go for it."

Kathleen lingers just inside the doorway as Magnes sits, and as Tamara settles into one of the chairs on the opposite side. She nods slightly at their guest's final statements. "I'll leave you two to that. I'll be in the next room over," she says, tipping her head in that direction, "monitoring Tam, but whatever you want to talk about will be just between you two." At which point she steps out, the door's latch snicking quietly shut behind her.

Tamara, meanwhile, takes the time to pour water into both glasses before responding to Magnes. "I know what you can say," she allows, lifting darkened eyes to regard him across the table. "That's not the same thing, and how you say it matters." Sitting back in her chair, she cradles her glass between her hands without yet drinking from it, and smiles. "Go for it," the sybil affirms.

"We have to plan for the future. It's pretty much inevitable that even if we could somehow stop Arthur Petrelli from gaining access to dimensional travel technology, someone else will. This is the inevitable next step in human advancement, like space travel, and it's coming, soon." Magnes nods to the glass of water, reaching out to take a little sip before sitting it back down.

"Other universes are probably also on the verge of the same discovery, which means that we're going to have to coordinate across dimensions, as complicated as that might sound. And I think that if we find a way to remove Arthur Petrelli from power, we can somehow get the government on board… we don't have a lot of choice, unless you know ridiculously rich secret organizations." He crosses his arms, then uncrosses them, seemingly not the most comfortable. He never thought he'd be the one starting the 'we need to group up' talk.

"This universe…" he motions around to indicate, well, the universe. "Is the most advanced of the known timelines in terms of technology and relative peace. If we're going to start some sort of interdimensional organization to stop or police people like Arthur Petrelli, I strongly feel like this needs to be the hub, this needs to be the place where we seize and take control of that technology, so that we can keep this and other dimensions safe."

"Think about it… in the Virus World, Kazimir still exists, the Mallet Device probably exists somewhere. What happens if he finds that? What happens if he figures out how to use it, or has some ability that allows him to figure it out? Can we go to the government? No. Arthur Petrelli has the monopoly on that technology right now, and we can't trust him with it. We need…"

He has to stop for a moment, to breathe, and presses his fingers against his forehead for a brief few seconds. Then, looking back up at her, he finishes, "We need to prepare, and look forward to the bigger threat ahead. Threats larger than Arthur Petrelli himself, threats larger than Kazimir. This technology… this technology holds so many threats, to multiple worlds, that if we don't do something now, the wrong people will be the ones who gain control first."

Tamara sips from her water as Magnes speaks, observing him with intrigued curiosity. She waits through his discomfort, through his explanations, through his pauses, letting him talk out the exposition in full. It's quite clear that the woman is paying attention; less readily apparent is the degree to which she comprehends.

When Magnes finally concludes, Tamara draws a deep breath and closes her eyes. "Inevitability," she remarks, "only exists in the road already traveled." She looks down at the glass in her hands, light glinting from the surface of the water it contains. "There are things to fear," the sybil affirms, "but you risk opening the very door you dread. You are as likely to wake the monster in the dark as anyone else," she continues, fixing Magnes with piercingly intent gaze. "Maybe more so."

There's no reproof in that observation, though; it's a simple statement of fact, of a different sort of inevitability — the kind rooted in the nature of people rather than a specific chain of events.

She sits back in her chair, and shakes her head slowly. "I can tell you this: there is no road that leads to what you desire. Not here. Pinehearst has taken all the pieces to itself; they live and die with him." A sip of water, then, her focus remaining intent on Magnes. "That doesn't mean you can do nothing… but you will have to make a choice: the long, slow uphill climb, or the shortcut through the dragon's den."

"Knowing that," the sybil concludes, "what, precisely, would you ask me?"

"I'm not going to seek out Arthur Petrelli for help, and then risk helping him gain power. But if I unlock the door, even if I don't help him… I'm afraid that somehow he'll still gain the technology. I just, I'm not sure if there's a way to return home that doesn't just give him the technology somehow. He seems like the kind of person who has eyes everywhere." Magnes grips his shirt at the chest, anxiety creeping in.

"If there's no way to do that, no way to create that defense here, that stronghold, then…" He can only think of one question. Really, the only question that particularly matters. "What path do I take that avoids Arthur gaining the ability to leave this world? Do I have to stay here to avoid that outcome?"

Silence stretches long after Magnes' query, a silence in which the sybil bows her head and closes her eyes, thinking, considering, seeking. Red blooms suddenly within the glass she holds, a second crimson drop following in short order after the first. "Every way he turns," Tamara says at last, quietly weary, "always towards a door. He wants it like nothing else. With you, without you. You are… a shortcut," she adds, lifting her gaze to once again meet his. "Not a necessity."

Breathing out a muted sigh, Tamara tugs a cloth from her pocket and holds it to her nose. She moves her water to the table, then slouches sideways in her chair, head leaning against an armrest. "What is necessary," she continues, watching her companion, "is not easily rebuilt… by anyone. All the eggs in one basket, and the backup a riddle almost impossible to read." A rueful quirk of her lips. "But only almost."

"So he has all of his eggs in the Mallet Device basket, I'd think… but there's an alternative, something that he's probably ignoring, that I can still solve…" Magnes considers, possibly, apparently not seeming to mind her cryptic way of speaking. He seems to just sort of accept it. "If you were me, if you wanted the outcome that I want, Arthur not escaping this universe, but me still wanting to get home, what would you do?"

There's a pause, and he holds up a hand. "I don't mean to strain you, I'm sorry."

Tamara shakes her head slightly, so much as she can in her current pose. "Mallet is not the door," the sybil corrects. But that is all she interrupts with while he considers; when he finally continues, the combination of query and concern elicit a sympathetic smile. "I could not answer these questions any other way," she says gently. "Don't be sorry; I made my choices."

Quiet reigns for a moment, then, pensive and assessing, before she takes a conversational half-step back. "Time," the sybil answers at last. "Time is more your friend than his — if he fumbles the keys, by chance or otherwise. Delay… then survive that delay, and what comes after."

"I'm guessing what I should delay will become apparent when the time comes?" Magnes wonders, because he figures that's how these things work. "This reminds me of when I used to talk to Hokuto." he idly observes, then takes another drink of his water. "I don't suppose there's a chance you could show up at a ridiculously vital moment when it might count the most?"

Tamara chuckles softly, raising her free hand, palm turned up. "How you delay is… up to you. Active, quiet, hidden. An opponent, an opportunist, alone, together." She lets her hand fall to her lap. "Whatever I say, it's still you that builds your road."

Perhaps not the most helpful of answers of itself, but it reflects the wide sweep of potential yet ahead.

The sybil closes her eyes again, lips curving in a small, amused smile. "There is always a chance. I try not to have to use it."

"You know, you don't seem like the type who'd pay me to hold a pizza box for you. But that was a long time ago, you were younger. I wonder if that still happened here…" Magnes smiles, considering her words. "So… ultimately I still have to make decisions. I feel like I won't make very good decisions, but that's how I always feel. I get desperate, or I feel cornered, and then bam, everything's screwed up."

One eye cracks open to peer at Magnes across the table. "The mirror reflects," is her cryptic response to his observation.

"There are always decisions," Tamara continues after a brief pause. "Some would make them for you; following is a decision, too. But the questions you ask run long; there are dominoes that have yet to fall. Roads that are and are not, all at the same time…" She breathes out a sigh, opening her eyes. "I can keep a finger on all the branches, but to walk you each step of the way?"

Straightening up in her chair, red-daubed cloth still pressed to her face, the sybil faces her petitioner squarely, giving a brief shake of her head. "I do not want to be the spider in the web. That is my decision." Her lips quirk in a rueful smile. "Maybe someday it will change. That day is not today."

"I'll come back to you with a question one day, I think." Magnes slowly stands, sitting his water down, then reaches out to offer her a hand. "I have a lot of decisions to make, I only hope that I make the ones that are actually best for me and my friends, and the world."

"If nothing else…" He frowns, because he's pretty sure this isn't an entirely practical request, but… "Please tell me if I'm about to ruin the world, if that's at all possible, one day."

Leaning forward to take the offered hand, though she does not rise, Tamara smiles up at Magnes. "If you will listen," she promises earnestly, "then I will tell you. If not…" A shrug, then, as she settles back into the chair, leaning against its arm and closing her eyes. "Then it will depend."

There's a final quality to the silence that follows, a sense that the seer's awareness has slipped away. No further remarks, cryptic or otherwise, will be forthcoming today.

It's only a few seconds later that Kathleen reappears at the door, leaning in to give her sister a long, concerned look before redirecting her attention to Magnes. "I hope you got the answers you needed," she says as she makes way for Magnes to step out, voice quiet though she knows full well nothing will disturb Tamara now.

"Well, I think that I at least know what I shouldn't be focusing on, and I have cryptic ideas that I should keep in mind when certain decisions pop up, whatever those decisions may be. So, we'll see what happens." Magnes smiles, optimistically, then his gaze lingers on Kathleen for a long, silent moment. "Um… hey, I haven't dreamed in a while, not since we started this dimension hopping. And I've… sort of been doing sleep writing occasionally, occasionally hearing something talk to me that's kind of a dream, I guess, kind of not a dream, it's hard to explain."

"I haven't really thought to ask someone like you about it." he admits, the 'someone like you' possibly being an obvious implication. "Do you think there's anything you could do?"

Kathleen huffs a quiet laugh as they make their way back out to the hall — and the stairs, this time. "Sounds like you came away pretty well, all things considered."

She's very aware of his scrutiny as they head downstairs, but waits until it transmutes into words. Then she regards him sidelong, pausing briefly on a landing. "Possibly," Kathleen allows at last, reaching up to hook her hair behind her ears. "I can't make you dream," she elaborates, "but I can tell if you really are."

"I'm willing to do that. I hear people have used my brain as a meeting space for dream people before. Not sure why they chose my brain, but…" Magnes shrugs, offering his hand to her as he begins to float down the stairs. He's apparently going to offer her the same service and float them both, if she accepts. "How do we do it?"

Kathleen is clearly surprised by the floating and the offered hand, but — perhaps motivated by curiosity — hardly hesitates at all before accepting Magnes' hand and letting him float them both down. "You hear?" she echoes; that, too, is a surprise.

As they emerge out into the lobby, she gives a one-sided shrug. "I need to stay here for… could be a week, could be two. After that, I can head up to New York. I don't need anything particular from you," not for one of the people whose present identity she helped build, "but I'll call you when I'm there, so we can discuss any last-minute details."

"I've been through a lot of things with abilities that I didn't entirely consent to. That's why I ended up as a black hole and we're talking right now." Magnes explains, then smiles, offering his hand. "That sounds good. There's no rush. I'll make sure to make you some homemade pizza when you come, from scratch."

Kathleen seems distinctly discomfited by Magnes' statement, or maybe just the matter-of-fact way in which he delivers it. The topic shift saves her from having to figure out an appropriate response, however. She laughs briefly, reaching out to shake his hand. "Well, now, that sounds like an offer I shouldn't refuse. You have a deal, Ness." She smiles. "I'll be in touch."

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