Shadows Of A Bright Future, Part I


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Scene Title Shadows Of A Bright Future, Part I
Synopsis Representatives of the United States Government arrive at Pinehearst Headquarters for a demonstration of the Formula, and Arthur Petrelli prepares to pull a Houdini.
Date July 6, 2009

Pinehearst Headquarters, Laboratory Level 4

United States Marines Second-Lieutenant Joshua Benton is a man dedicated to his country. As he is escorted through a pair of brushed metal doors into a sterile and too-white hospital room, his dedication and trust shows in the unflinching manner in which he carries himself; shoulders squared, chin up. His fatigues and olive-drab tanktop clash against the pristine and porcelain-white clean suits that the two scientists flanking him are dressed in.

Doctor Alison Meier steps away from the lieutenant's side, moving to a dull metallic tray situated next to a padded chair with visible, metal restraints ready to accept an occupant. The other scientist, an Army doctor guides Lieutenant Benton to the chair, helping him up into it before beginning to affix the restraints. Benton's eyes are anywhere but on the doctor, however, they're focused up towards dark windows peering down on him.

One floor above, a group of silhouettes stand in silent observation of an operating theater. Hidden behind tinted panes of dark glass, they watch an empty room begin to fill with activity. Beyond the thick panes of soundproofed glass, Arthur Petrelli stands in silent observation, hands folded behind his back and eyes angled down towards the feint about to take place.

"It looks like everything is running on schedule," a woman at Arthur's side isn't one of his usual escorts. Rather, the ice-eyed blonde is here to ensure that, just as she said, everything runs on schedule. Sarisa Kershner is a woman of pragmatic understanding and canny resolve, and even in the face of a man of wealth and power like Arthur Petrelli, she shows no sign of faltering.

On the opposite side of Arthur from Sarisa stands the man all of this farce is designed for. General Sebastian Autumn is Arthur's tenuous link to legitimacy and the power behind the throne of the Presidency. If this goes off without a hitch, he will have secured the future craved. "As per our arrangement," Arthur states coolly, motioning to the windows as the Army doctor prepares a syringe, drawing a small amount of blood from the Lieutenant, "a blood test prior to injection to check for the Suresh Linkage Complex."

Autumn's bald head bobs in a slow nod, watching as the doctor moves to an unoccupied table with the syringe, squeezing out a few drops onto an open pad of gauzy material inside of a black plastic case. After just a few moments, the pad turns a royal blue. There's a nod of the doctor's head, and the pad is picked up and held towards the observation room.

"Well, let's see if this miracle drug of yours works, mister Petrelli. I'm eager to see the results." Autumn is strictly skeptical, despite how much he wants this to work, how much it means to his career and the future of his country. Arthur's quiet nod of acknowledgement comes with a hand pressing a call button on an intercom.

"Doctor Meier," Arthur's voice echoes with a popping crackle over the intercom in the lab level, "you may proceed." The military doctor moves aside as Alison carries a single syringe over to the Lieutenant. Her eyes search his for a moment, perhaps looking for an instinctual fear of the unknown. It's there, behind his eyes, in the sweat beading on his brow.

"Everything's going to be just fine," she lies with a smile to him, "just relax. There is some discomfort as the serum takes effect, and potentially involuntary muscle reactions. So please, be prepared for that." One of Autumn's brows rise in silent curiosity to Alison's statement as he watches her bring the syringe down to the Lieutenant's forearm, a simple depression of the needle beneath skin, and the push of a plunger, and the semi-opaque blue-white fluid is forced into his bloodstream.

"Injection process begun at 08:00 hours." Her voice is filled with a mechanical precision as she looks up to the clock. Everything is running on time, everything is going exactly as staged. For a full minute, nothing seems to happen, and both Sarisa and General Autumn turn their attention to Arthur with a suspicious stare, only to have the Patriarch of Pinehearst raise one hand to point down to the Lieutenant.

There, the Lieutenant twitches, grimacing as his neck muscles tighten. Alison arches a brow, taking a few steps back as he begins to sweat more profusely, jaw clenching as he violently begins to convulse in the chair. Autumn's eyes go wide, while Sarisa's narrow, the two watching with entirely different thoughts as they watch Lieutenant Benton thrash around like a wild animal in his restraints, vocalizing his pain in a howling and strangled growl.

"Mister Petrelli," Autumn bluntly delivers what sounds like a demand, "is this normal?" Arthur again holds up a dismissive hand, until a moment later the soldier's violent thrashing seems to move at a blur, sending his motions into unmatchable haze of activity. The chair bucks and rocks, bolts vibrating out of it as the entire chair along with its restraints is vibrated apart.

Alison lets out a soft gasp of surprise as a blue of olive-drab color ripes its way free of the chair in a burst of speed faster than the eye, followed by a wild rush of air. She stumbles backwards, leaning over the examination table as the far taller form of Lieutenant Benton is abruptly standing right in front of her, the outlines of his body flickering and fading in fast-twitch muscle reactions at superhuman speeds.

"Oh my God," It's the only response the General can come up with, a dawning look of wonder and fascination on his eyes. Arthur reaches out, pressing a button on the intercom again.

"Take the second blood sample, please." The military doctor hardly knows what to do, presented with the Lieutenant's hyper speed. He turns to look towards the doctor, and then in the blink of an eye and a camouflage-colored blur is standing next to him, arm held out.

While the blood sample is being taken, Sarisa looks up to Arthur, her voice kept low. "Is that normal? Being able to instinctually control the ability following the injection? He seems to be incredibly competent with it just after having received it."

Arthur's lips turn into a knowing smile, followed by a slow nod of his head. "It is," normal for the Advent Virus, at least. The genetic memory included in the copied abilities is passed on like hereditary instinct to the injected patient. The Formula doesn't work that way, but there's no need for Arthur to say that, not now, not ever.

Down below in the lab, a second blood test is shown. This time, however, the color on the pad is a pinkish red. General Autumn covers his mouth in disbelief at the confirmation, eyes turning to focus on Arthur with a smile slowly revealed behind his fingers. "Mister Petrelli, if I didn't see this with my own eyes…"

"Seeing is believing," Arthur notes with a confident smile. "Now, General, imagine what a thousand doses of the Formula could do for the United States. Imagine what an entire army of the Evolved could accomplish. There would be no power, no army, no government, nothing that could stand up to that."

Folding her arms, Sarisa's eyes darken some, her focus turned to the dark tinted windows and the sweat still beading on the Lieutenant's brow. "You're certain there aren't any side-effects? You do realize we'll have to bring this through to a private clinical trial before it's attempted on any more soldiers."

Arthur turns from the General, looking over his shoulder to Sarisa with an ear-to-ear grin. "Of course, of course. However, right now, I'll have to ask that the Lieutenant stay here for observation for those exact reasons. He's now, until we have a formal agreement arranged, property of Pinehearst Corporation until I can be certain you aren't going to try and reverse-engineer your own formula from him."

Surprisingly, Autumn just nods to this and waves one hand to dismiss any doubt. "You've proven your worth to me, Petrelli. Keep us up to date on the Lieutenant's condition. Now, why don't the three of us go to your office and celebrate this little victory with a few cigars, and discuss that other topic you wanted to bring up."

Rolling her tongue over the inside of her cheek, Sarisa's blue eyes linger on the Lieutenant through the window for a moment, before shaking her head and looking away and over to Arthur and the General. "Yes, I am curious to hear about what Daniel Linderman and your wife— " she hastily corrects herself, "ex-wife have to do with DHS operations."

"Everything in due time…" Arthur states with a cool and calm smile, tucking his hands into his pockets before nodding towards the door. "But first, I think I'd like to hear more about these cigars the General was discussing…" As Arthur smiles away the lives of millions and prepares for the ascension of a new future, doctor Meier stands in silence in the lab, watching Lieutenant Benton through narrowed eyes.

No matter how close Arthur's plans are to fruition, she keeps taking one step backwards with one foot in the grave.

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