Present Company Excluded


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Scene Title Present Company Excluded
Synopsis Tensions boil over in Moab and a new inmate transport arrives. But nothing is exactly as it seems in the prison…
Date February 10, 2009

Moab Federal Penitentiary

The Moab Federal Penitentiary is an expansive multi-level prison designed by the United States Government in cooperation with the Company. The prison rests on sixty acres of government owned land in Moab, a remote and mountainous region of Utah bordering Canyonlands National Park. The prison is an enormous and fortified concrete structure containing both above-ground and subterranean prison cells. The above-ground cells feature narrow windows looking out over the prison grounds, and are known as Green Level, each progressive subterranean level is likewise color-coded, from yellow, to orange, to red. Only the most dangerous Evolved are detained on Red-Level, and are in sealed isolation chambers tailored to their specific abilities.

The gray skies overhead have given way to very lightly falling snow, a dusting over the cold utah mountains. Little has changed over the several days of confinement here in Moab, and the daily routine is beginning to become something of an expected part of the day, less so than a jarring removal from an ordinary world. At noon-time, the sun is shrouded by the thick blanket of gray clouds overhead, and most of the prisoners let out onto the yard are crowded around one another, trying to both get their dose of fresh air, and at the same time share warmth from the bitter cold. Sure, they could be inside, but on the same token this is one of the few times they can see the sky with clear eyes.

"I'm tellin' you, the guards are actin' funny today." That's Jimmy DeVille, an auto-mechanic from Queens with a knack for mechanical devices. Or, he used to have a knack for them anyway. "I ain't seen them actin' so uptight since we all got brought here on that whirlybird." He nods one shaved head towards the facility at the head of the Yard, "More guns out, you know what I mean?"

"Yeah, yeah. I know what you're sayin', but what's that gotta do with us man?" Will Dawson, a street thug from Costa Verde, California — he claims that before being brought to Moab, he was bulletproof. "We jus' gotta' keep our heads down, man. We ain't nobody in here, nobody. And nobody's gonna' wanna' rescue nobody."

"Shh, let him talk." A stern command is given from Principal Joshua McIntyre, and he insists that when he gets out of Moab, he will return to his job as Principal of West Filton Highschool in Tula Oklahoma. "Just — Just listen to the man we — we can… Maybe we're all going to get some — like — a presidential pardon."

Seated near the fence bordering the men's side of the Yard from the women's, there's one person who refuses to participate in Prison Gossip. Seated on tiered bench seating near the unused basketball court, Peter Petrelli has his head hung, arms resting on his knees and hands folded. He sits like this every day, he doesn't talk to anyone, he doesn't do anything. He just sits. Just opposite of where his perch is, on identical benches, sits Helena Dean, currently in the care of Madison Wilkens.

"Now, you know, my little Fiona… She's just a darling." All she ever does is talk about her daughter Fiona, about how happy they're going to be in Nevada when Madison gets out of Moab when God's good Grace sets her free. She's an old, matronly woman, seen fit to take care of Helena like a surrogate daughter. According to Miss Madison, she doesn't know why she's here, because she isn't Evolved. She's just a little old woman who runs a beauty salon — She's normal.

Alexander doesn't participate in the rumor things, either. In keeping with that orange pelt, the Georgian is pacing like a caged tiger, all around the perimeter of the yard. He doesn't seem much bothered by the chill, despite breath clouding on the cold air - crunching step after step through the snow, as if that might help. He's listening, however, as keenly as he can, eyes roving around the male side of the yard, then to the other, though he has eyes only for the little blonde on the bench. He doesn't speak to her, though if she's watching she'll note a fractional nod, now and then.

If it weren't for the prison couture, the braidwork that Madison's worked into her hair makes Helena resemble something akin to the Swiss Miss Maiden, or if you're more the sort, the St. Pauli girl. Helena endures the attention, as much to keep on the good side of her fellow prisoners as much as for the kind contact. For all that it is slightly addlepated and a source of a near constant stream of chatter, having someone near can be good sometimes. That's one of the worst aspects of prison, the enforced solitude, the barriers around herself and others. She lifts her eyes, looks across the yard at the men's side, gaze flickering through the group of men, and the two she's singled out. She shivers in the cold, an addition to her misery after all - she'd gotten used to being as warm as she wanted to be.

"Look, look, I'm tellin' you, somethin' is up." Jimmy shifts his eyes up to McIntyre, head cocking to one side as he does. "At least he knows when somethin' is goin' down, right?" A few of the other men mutter to one another, watching Jimmy as if he were some sort of Prison-Yard Prophet. "All I'm sayin', is that if the guards got their nuts in a twist like 'dis, then maybe we can take advantage of it, right?"

"Woah, woah," Will throws his hands up in the air, "Screw this man, I ain't gettin' locked down in the fuckin' death-lockers underground. You can have your fuckin' little tea party — I'm out." He slaps one handon his chest twice, and backpedals away from the group. McIntyre just scoffs and shakes his head, motioning back to Jimmy.

"Don't listen to him — he's given up. I know it, I just know we can find a way out of this mess. Let's hear what you're thinking." While the small group of male prisoners rattle their cages, Peter Petrelli remains a stoic source of isolation, hands folded and head down, not even acknowledging the two people he might be abel to spare words to in here, the two people who actually know him.

But the thing that keeps going through his mind is: Do they really know him?

"Now, my Fiona, she's only a little bit older than you." Which is surprising, given that Madison is easily in her late fifties. "She's a sweet thing, off in College right now, she wants to become a veterenarian." Her lips upturn into a warm, weak smile. Done with the braiding, the old woman leans to one side, looking at Helena with that same distant smile. "What is it you do?"

"I was a bike messenger." Helena murmurs. "But a friend of mine, she wanted to help put me through culinary school. She has lots of money to toss around for things like that." Her head is cocked, tilted sidelong, she's playing close attention to the gathered men. Her eyes flick to Alexander, hoping they'll catch gazes, and if so, hers darts to the little group. Have a listen, Al. She looks back to Madison. "How is it they felt you belonged here?" She'll let the woman natter - she's easy to tune out, and Helena knows how to make the right listening noises in the appropriate places.

"Find a way out and go where? Utah's a fucking desert," Al says, quietly. "We're dressed like prisoners. We couldn't approach any civvies. And say you do get out - where do you go to ground? Canada? Mexico? What're you gonna do, hitch-hike there? Ride the magical rainbow unicorn that comes down out of the sky when you kneel and pray?" His tone grows increasingly acid, and there's that unpleasant light in the flat blue of his eyes. And then his face relaxes, losing that disdainful look. "Kids, there's a book by Stephen King in the library. Different seasons. It has four short novels in it, and one of them is called 'Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.' Y'all jackasses should -read- it." His tone is far more gentle, now, and he shakes his head at them chidingly.

"Hey man, don't diss the plan till you heard it." Jimmy hisses, waving one hand dismissively at Alexander. "You ain't never said one good fuckin' thing since you been in here, Red. At least we're tryin' to do somethin', right?" McIntyre speaks up, resting a hand on Jimmy's shoulder as he shakes his head.
"If we can get around the injeections — I — I could get us all out of here." Jimmy shoots his gaze away from the doubtful to a ray of hope, any ray of hope, even if it's absurd. "I — They caught me while I was asleep. But normally I — There's no way they could. I can, like — " He grimaces, "You know, like in Star Trek, the transporters? I can do that, with whole groups of people. I used to take my car on offroading trips to Oregon on weekends and be back for supper." He affords a crooked smile, weary old eyes shifting from Jimmy to Alexander. "I don't think Andry Dufrense could teleport."

"Ohhh, well isn't that just very modern of you!" Madison says with a crooked smile, resting her hand atop Helena's head before she shakily pushes herself up from her bench seat, moving to step down the tiered seating to stand in front of Helena. "Now I don't know why I'm here at all, I heard all about those strange people on the news." She waves one hand slightly to the other women in the yard, "But I can't do anything special. I'm just — I'm just a mother." Her expression turns a bit heartbroken. "All — All I want to do is get out of here and see my Fiona again."

"I'm sure they'll sort out the misunderstanding, Madison." is all Helena can say to her, at least for the moment. She gives the woman a smile - poor old lady, Helena thinks, but effectively harmless. She makes as if to stretch, and then walks over to the chain link fence, curling her hand around some of the metal and standing as if she's working on stretching her hamstrings. She moves slowly, continues to listen.

"Awright, then," Al says, leaning back against the chain link, lazily. "So you can. So, you get off the drugs, somehow. And your knack comes back. Where you gonna take us? How many you gonna take at a time? Where's safe, kids? C'n you take us all the way to Toronto? Vancouver? Hell, London, maybe. Or Brussels. I know the EU thinks what the US is doing is some bullshit."

"Mexico." McIntyre says with both brows raised, "Somewhere without extradition laws, somewhere that doesn't enforce the Linderman Act. I can — " He hesitates, "Probably bring fifteen people at a time, if they're close enough together." Jimmy moves a hand up to McIntyre's chest and pushes him back, moving away from the group towards Alexander with one finger raised to accusingly point at him.

"You know what, Red, I ain't likin' the tone of yr fuckin' voice." The mechanic's head quirks to one side, and through the chain-link fence, Helena can see the ire rising on the younger man. "Look, all you do is sit around and fuckin' mope all goddamned day. We're doin' somethin' about it — you wanna' be defeatest? Why don't you fuckin' pop one'a them spoons we get with our pudding in your neck and make it all a lot easier on us, yeah!?"

The raised voices cause the group behind Jimmy to disperse some, wary gazes shot off to the guards on the periphery of the Yard and in the watchtowers beyond the fences. "Or maybe you're just a fuckin' plant right? Sittin' in here with a fat fuckin' government paycheck waitin' for you? Huh?" He takes a step forward, shoving Alexander by the shoulders with both hands, "Is that it, you a fuckin' snitch!?"

Through the women's fence, the agitation has been felt on the othr side, and heads are turning toward the raised voices. Even though she's now been left behind, Helena can see the concerned look on Madison's face, and the shake of her gray head. Peter hasn't moved an inch, just sitting like a statue with his head hung while things slowly slip from bad to worse.

"HEY!" Helena gives up her pretense of stretching, now she's facing the other side, both hands curled into the chain link. The sharp crack of her voice is perhaps unexpected, perhaps more accustomed to demanding attention than the last time Peter saw her. Alexander knows this Helena, though. "Starting something in the middle of the yard is just going to make it worse for everybody. For all we know, you're the plant, trying to help us along to give them an excuse to shoot us in the back of our heads. You're planning on a lot of hope and maybe's, instead of thinking things through and trying to work with what you know. Your plan is shit, so don't blame him for pointing it out to you."

And that's when Al begins to laugh. It's not a pleasant sound. It's not even, really, entirely sane. Apparently that accusation is just a raging knee-slapper, in Mr. Knight's world. "Ooh, Lord," he says, like Br'er Rabbit caught fast in Fox's grip. "A snitch. Oh, man. The goverment fucked me so hard I'm still bleeding like it's my first night," he says. "I got IEDed in Iraq, never was right since, VA'd not pay up. I was a cop, and when they passed that Linderman act, I signed my name on the dotted line. Tryin' to show the world the Evolved were not a threat. I got run off the force. Been homeless since not long after. I don't owe Uncle Sam any love," he says, grinning at Jimmy. "If I were a snitch, I'd be right up in with you, tryin' to learn your plans, rather 'n make you see sense." He wraps his hands around Jimmy's wrist. "You fancy a night on the lower levels. Maybe down in solitary?"

Helena's shouting is joined by other raised voices from the women's side, "You don't take that shit from them, Red! You gon' give him somethin'!" Shouting from the men's side, "Fuck that man, right! Kick his ass!" It's like they don't even care who hits who, they just want to be entertained, like caged animals going stir-crazy.

"I ain't no fuckin' snitch!" Jimmy shouts, taking another step forward, slapping his hands on his chest in that very obvious "you want a piece of me?" gesture. McIntyre looks horrified at the change of events, even from the shouting by the other meen in the yard to incite a fight. It's all of the shouting and hollaring that gets the attention of the guards, and one is already on his walkie, moving away from the yard towards the building.

But things just go from bad to worse, "Fuckin' cop!" That would be Will Dawson, "I ain't never pegged you for a fuckin' pig but all that squealin' you be doin' right now sure as shit makes the hooves fit!" He charges up shoulder-to-shoulder with Jimmy, then circles around Alexander with his head jerking to one side, "You wanna' keep talkin' shit, Pigman?" There's no unity among the oppressed, not when there's finally a scapegoat to target.

And yet Peter still hasn't moved, he hasn't shown a single sign of unrest even amidst all of this commotion. Even when the doors to both sides of the yard are opened by prison security with plastic-visored helmets and batons, he doesn't move from his bench seat. He just sits there, hands folded and head down.

Maybe he's the only one that hears the distant sound of approaching helicopters.

Oh, crap. Oh, crap, oh crap. It's all getting out of hand in a way Helena can't handle, the reality of their situation and what it does to people's heads overwhelming her. She looks around her at the frenzied people, is momentarily overcome by the shouting, until it becomes so much white noise.

And that's when she hears an entirely new noise, the thud-thud-thud of an incoming helicopter, no - several. She pushes off the fance, climbs up on the picnic table, and shading her eyes with her hand, looks up into the sky.

Well, Al's already backed into a corner. And he's got a long history of being leery about using his powers in public….so he's not left entirely helpless without them. He's already bringing his hands up, curled into fists. "Fuck you, you fool," he says, in a hiss. "And man, don't you even start with me on squealing. I'll make you sound like a hog being slaughtered," His attention's diverted before he can really get properly threatening, however, and he glances past them at the uniforms. And then up.

The sound of approaching helicopters almost drowns out the noise of what could become a riot. Three black double-prop helicopters coming in low towards the helipad on top of Moab. The aircraft move in a single-file line, one by one pivoting in the air before coming to land down on the circular pads still within view of the yard. Even as this goes on, the security force moves out before anything can come to blows. The first thing done is muscle past the spectators, pushing them back with brandished batons, until both Jimmy and Alexander are surrounded by men barking orders, "Down on the ground! Hands behind your heads! Down on the ground!"

What Alexander cannot see because of his angle of view and the wall of people around him, is clearer from Helena's point of vantage. There at the helipad a single man walks out from one of the helicopters, dressed entirely in a sleek black suit with dark sunglasses and short cropped dark hair. He motions towards the other helicopter, where prisoners in orange jumpsuits with black bags over their heads are led out of seperate helicopters. Sixteen prisoners in total she can count, but one of them has an entire helicopter to himself, and nine guards with assault rifles keeping an eye on him. The tenth guard has him restrained by a mancatcher, a long and flexible metallic pole with a noose on the end, which is snugly affixed around his neck. The group of prisoners are led in one direction, and the lone one surrounded by guards is taken in another.

In her peripheral vision, Helena can see Peter has shifted his position. He's standing now, watching the chaos on the far side of the yard, and also watching the people coming off of the helicopter.

Helena does her best to get a good look at the prisoners, trying to see if she recognizes anyone. Even the man in the suit is regarded - who is that? Her eyes flicker briefly sidelong at Peter, noting his interest, then go back to the march and singular man. She hops off the picnic table, moves to the point in the women's yard which will give her the best view to get a good look at the incoming.

Alexander drops prone without hesitation, though not without a snide little snicker. How many times did he do just that to an unfortunate suspect? And now the tables are turned. Despite that, he's trying to peer over and up as best he can. Looks like there's a real big bad dog being shoved into this particular pound.

The hooded prisoners are led down to stair-cases that bring them into the processing rooms, while the singular agent stands at the edge of the roof, looking down to the chaos below that seems to be boiling over in the yard. The dark-haired agent reaches up and adjusts his glasses, and is met from behind by another man emerging from his helicopter. This one Helena recognizes, a tall and bald man in black swat gear, the man who apprehended her at the Verrazano-Narrows bridge. They look to be conversing about something, though it's both too far away and too noisy here to understand what is being exchanged. Eventually, then begin walking in the direction that the solitary prisoner was led.

The guards surrounding Jimmy, Will and Alexander move in to restrain and bind the three troublemakers; zip-ties and muscled grabs move in one uncomfortable wrestle until both men are bound and back on their feet, being dragged out of the yard even as orders are shouted from the security detail on both sides of the fences, "Back to your cells! Early-in! Back to your cells!" One cries out over a bullhorn.

Peter steps down off of the benches, walking across the men's side of the yard, towards McIntyre, who had backed away prior to the guards showing up. Helena and Alexander can't hear what is said, and the two are obscured by other prisoners making their way out of the yard, but it looks like Peter hands McIntyre something, folded into the other man's palm with a subtle hand-shake before Peter scans the crowd again and walks away, trying to blend in with the others returning to their cells.

She saw it. Helena saw it, and god, there it is, that blaze in her chest - every time the embers about to be stamped out, something happens. But careful now, because it might not be what she thinks it is, and so tiny, tiny fire is hidden away, and carefully protected, cherished…but still regarded with some wariness. She allows herself to be led back to her cell, but it won't be until lights out that she'll bothe to say anything…if she says anything at all.

Alexander is frogmarched away. He's actually snickering to himself, like this is all just a tremendous joke. Coyote's laughter, really If he noticed the little exchange, he gives no sign.

By the time the yard is cleared and the prisoners are led back to their cells, the commotion within Moab has grown to a fever pitch. Not only the shouting commotion of all of the inmates being led back to their holding, but also the new arrivals seen through the reinforced glass windows of the examination rooms, bags still on their heads, being led one by one towards the doctor's examination room.

Helena and Alexander are marched back to their cells on seperate ends of the prison, barred gates slammed shut and outer doors closed. And when lost in the confines of their cells, there is only the muffled noise of chaos out in the other halls to keep them company. The noise of bored prisoners seeking the vitrolic rush of violence to give them something to cling to.

But even as that noise dies down, as everyone is locked back up and tidy, there is this little voice inside of Helena's head. A little voice that speaks to something deep down inside, something that might well have been stamped flat and dead if left cold for too long.

But it's not her voice in her head, it's Peter's.

We need to talk.

February 9th: Evacuation Protocol

Previously in this storyline…
Because Of You

Next in this storyline…
Say One Thing, Mean Another

February 9th: Say One Thing, Mean Another
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