Starting From Scratch


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Scene Title Starting From Scratch
Synopsis After the explosion and prison break at PISEC, SESA agents begin to pick through the wreckage in the hopes of securing leads and a trail.
Date February 4, 2020

Plum Island SLC-Expressive Center

It’s going to take a while to clean up what’s happened here. Rubble from the exploded lab has stopped smoking, but the air is unnervingly still surrounding PISEC. The wildlife on the mostly-uninhabited island sits either quietly or from afar, watching all the comings and goings with impunity, save for the odd bird that dares to sweep over the debris in search of a more perfect perch. The lab outbuilding sits in an ungracious heap, and two days after the explosion, there’s no sign of equipment having been moved here from the mainland to begin any relevant clean-up or rebuilding.

Part of that may be logistics, but the other part is that first there is an investigation to complete. Who and what caused the explosion— as well as why— is a question heavy on SESA’s collective mind, and has driven the volunteering of several local agents to look into the matter alongside other federal colleagues.

The wreckage is clearly visible as the shuttle van pulls up in front of PISEC, just as much the initialism-bearing reflective coats of the federal agents examining it. One stands apart from the cluster of others, waiting in the parking lot with a tablet in hand. The tablet is lifted in greeting as they approach the van when it stops, better showing off the SESA lettering on the bicep of his jacket.

“Morning, welcome to Plum Island,” he says once the door rolls open. “Jim Wells, glad to have you out here.” He flashes a tight, polite smile. “I can show you to the war room we’ve got set up here for the investigation. We had some new reports come through this morning… starting to help paint a clearer picture of what happened where here, and we’re hoping to put the pieces together as fast as we can.”

Glancing over his shoulder to the cluster of FBI agents examining the building wreckage, he looks back to the SESA agents fresh from the mainland. His smile returns, just as tense as before. “A fresh set of eyes on this could do some good to start drawing lines between all these dots. We’re looking to figure out what happened just as much as establish an idea of where our escapees have gone to. The latter’s more time-critical, but both are the goal.”

His brow arches up as he adds candidly, more quietly, “Any forward movement we’re responsible for will go a long way to restoring face here, too. Any breakthroughs that come from us rather than the FBI definitely won’t go unnoticed. Like I said— really glad to have you guys and your perspective on-site out here.”

Careful of where he's stepping, Agent Cesar Diaz has been trying to keep his dour mood from overtaking the professionalism he's actively maintaining. But it's clear as soon as he's in sight of the wrecked laboratory that he's disturbed. Not by the physical damage, but by the nature and timing of it. "FBI is one thing. With us here," he concludes of the three of them donning SESA branded jackets and badges, "The escapees are SLC-Expressive."

But how many, and who. And what could they do… together.

"How about injuries? Any staff who witnessed? Given what happened on Liberty Island…" Cesar's concern first slips out to note the lack of coroners teams. It's a vague relief.

Corbin, who has an active investigation on the mainland, probably shouldn’t have been out here, but when he’d heard about what happened, he volunteered. He had a small stake in at least one of the people involved in PISEC. He’d tried his best to send Odessa things to make her stay comfortable, but he hadn’t sent a care package in a few months. The case he’s been on had taken up a lot more of his time than he would like.

As did family matters.

Hooking his thumb into his belt, he glances around quietly, as if he might spot something. He’s not muttering to himself this time, as he often was. Perhaps he was too lost in thought to even do that. “Glad to be here,” he responds absently, as if still trying to notice something that maybe no one else had yet. How had they done this much damage on the way out? What had all of those involved been capable of doing?

And the one thing he most wanted to know…

The why.

“Do you have any records of the last few days before the escape? Video footage, recordings, anything like that?”

"We… would have," Wells grudgingly informs, looking back to them both before gesturing toward the front doors of the building and beginning to walk. "But more happened here than we've let on to the public. There was a second set of explosives that went off that morning, and the second one went off in the digital storage room. All the security backups were stored on-site, as was a good deal of research. That's been lost. We've got the paper records of visitors from the last few weeks, and are working on getting access to the notes from the psychologists that are brought on site to see if there were any clues. For records, that's about it at the moment."

He looks over his shoulder as he swipes his badge and opens the door for them. "But there was a DOJ guard with eyes on glass when this all happened. The explosions happened at the end of the prison break. Started with a teleporter coming in to the secured area, escorting two others with him. She said one was a Caucasian male, the other an Asian female. Teleporter was Arab or Indian, male." Following them in, he gestures for them to hang a left. Then he's looking down at the pad in his hand to double-check his recitation. "Her report says they killed two guards on their way in— gunshot, not ability— headed straight for the cells. A team was assembled to confront them, but they took a few minutes to get here from Fort Terry on the other side of the island. During that time, some of the other prisoners turned on their guards and incapacitated them, also making their way to the cells."

"The teleporting hostiles physically entered a cell then teleported back out, down a man but with Mohinder Suresh in hand before disappearing again, before Kyla Renautas and Donna Dunlap arrived back at the cells and released Pete Varlane. It defies reason, but somehow the response team couldn't find them in the halls when they showed up not a minute later. The team moved on to clear the lab, and the building blew up on approach. Anyone inside died, and we're still working on getting bodies out. We've gotten two, well— three so far. A guard, one of the prisoners— Richard Schwenkman— and some partial remains we haven't been able to cleanly identify yet." He clears his throat. "Minor injuries only for those who'd been on approach."

The 'war room' they enter into is just a converted conference room— one filled with stacks of folders of information regarding the PISEC prisoners, and dominated by a whiteboard with initial suspicions for each prisoner and missing personnel member's state. Suresh, Varlane, Dunlap, Renautas, and Maddox are presumed escaped. Schwenkman is confirmed dead, and Odessa Price is expected to be found in the rubble with the others who would have been in the lab. There's an analyst sitting at the far end of the conference table who doesn't even look up from her laptop, her FBI-emblazoned coat hanging off the back of her chair.

Remembering a spot of good news, Wells turns back to share it. "Of all the DOJ guards shot, there was only one survivor. Kent Moore, who had been assigned to Bruce Maddox, is in critical condition but alive. He was shot twice in the chest, instead of in the head or throat like the rest were. He was found in the hall near the server room by a researcher who was in the process or evacuating after the second blast. As soon as he's stable, we'll have a second key eyewitness report to work with."

"Also, one of the reports that came in this morning confirmed both explosions were caused by C4," he is more than happy to report, since it's a knot of progress in the face of all this loss. "So that's what took out our footage, and the lab. Ballistics on the weapons used in the attack are still running, but should start coming in later today."

Here, out of the public eye, he's not afraid to call this thing what it was.

Cesar's mouth flattens into a very serious line, expression darkening as he looks to his fellow SESA agent. "Teleporter," he repeats, frowning. "So, there's a high possibly it's linked with the Liberty Island attack too. And, we don't yet know why they came for Institute operatives."

Glancing briefly to the FBI analyst as they enter the pop-up HQ, Cesar finds a space to stand and look over the gathered evidence. A question presses out of the agent, "What were they working on? In the lab." Cesar scans the whiteboard as he remarks. "Assumably, whoever did this was after what they did in there. The roster of escapees sounds like someone's after a recipe for weird science."

All this information makes Corbin run his teeth across his molars in thought, a hint of a frown breaking through his professional attitude when he hears that Doctor Odessa Price might be buried somewhere under all the rubble. He had attempted to testify on her behalf in her trial, that alone might have made it a conflict of interest, but if she’s dead… He shakes his head, almost to himself, and makes a few mental notes, before concentrating on the information available.

Possibly linked to Liberty Island attack. A large number of scientific minds who may have escaped, with outside help. “That could certainly be the case,” he quietly admitted, not saying that he was suddenly reminded of how the Institute had ripped apart most of the old Company hideouts and kidnapped those they found useful. Those with abilities or skills they could use. It sounded like something in their playbook.

But considering the ‘victims’. “So it did look like they were in on the escape. They had to have had some kind of outside communication with someone. I’ll check over what records you have after.” For now… He glanced back at what was left of the building. “Were any of the unidentified attackers injured? How probable would it be to find DNA evidence to identify?”

Wells looks a touch uncomfortable when Cesar asks what the escapees were working on, very aware of the glance that the FBI analyst shoots his way as she too waits for the reply. SESA's been mum on specifics there so far. "The details are classified," he repeats not for the first time this morning, and she looks back down. He goes on, though— albeit in a lower tone of voice, "From what I gather, though, it was research related to Adam Monroe." The agent looks to Corbin at that, letting the words sit for a moment before he looks down at the tablet in his hand, ignoring the renewed attention of the FBI on his back.

"As for injuries to the attackers … not seeing any reported, here. The door to Suresh's cell was pressed for prints, but the only ones we picked up were Varlane's. Which…" Wells knits his brow. "Doesn't particularly make sense to me, personally, but that's what they found— Varlane's prints on Suresh's door."

Hmming, he shifts his weight as he goes back to what Cesar’s said. "You're right, that the possibility is high the two breakouts are related. Maybe they learned from the Liberty Island attack they should scrub the evidence on their way out? But at the same time, the Liberty attack was confirmed to be done by Baruti Naidu and Francesca Lang. The three outsiders we have on camera here … they don't match those descriptions exactly. The woman was Asian, and neither male matched a description for Naidu."

Gesturing loosely, he looks between Corbin and Cesar as he makes his conjecture. "Honestly, if it wasn't Lang but they suspect maybe it's a Mazdak thing, the Asian woman sounds like it could be that Japanese terrorist. Asi, uh…" He snaps his fingers as he tries to recall. "The technopath one. Tetsuyama? I mean, maybe it's not far off. Lang and Tetsuyama were accomplices previously." Wells looks to Cesar as he admits, "But aside from 'weird science', it beats me why someone would break these guys out. Then again, I could say the same thing about Liberty, too."

With the report that details are classified, Cesar unabashedly fails to contain his grimacing frown. He also notices the look from the FBI analyst, resulting in the agent not making verbal commentary nor pressure for more info until their guide deems it safe enough to continue. Even if he doesn't like what's spoken after.

"The M.O.s sound too different," Cesar opts to disagree when it comes to the groups that carried out their plans on both detention centers, "but the timing can't be coincidence either. Given our strained resources, though, we shouldn't be chasing down every possibility, but focus on… why they might be putting together some Sinister Six type shit." The latter comic book reference comes through at a lower volume as well, out of earshot.

With a fold of his arms across his chest, Cesar eyes his colleagues, one then the other. "Another main question though, too? What other targets are they planning - Fort Jay? The capitol? Lockdown on other potential sites hasn't happened yet. Maybe it's not possible, especially when they have teleporters and technopaths." Cesar shakes his head, the odds being so unfavorable. "What's the word from the administration? If any?"

There’s a lot to consider in this situation. Corbin murmurs something under his breath about Odessa Price, which he seems particularly concerned about. But once they check the visitor logs he expects them to, Cesar will understand. He’d visited her more than once since she was sentenced. He’d even brought her small gifts, what would have once been considered a housewarming gift, really. Only this was a ‘sorry I couldn’t keep you out of prison’ gift.

“We’ll look into it. Just make sure we have access to all relevant files that still exist. We can only be as thorough as what you give us, at this point.”

He expects a lot to have gone missing, some perhaps on purpose. He knew how these institutions worked, after all. He’d been in charge of covering up a lot of the crap that used to happen long before the safe zone existed.

"Word from the administration? I mean, it's not trickled down to people like me yet, but I've got money on it that even now if we needed something— all we have to do is ask. Just because it's not been explicitly said doesn't mean it's not in the air." Wells says with gravity. He's ready and willing to carry out those requests. "This is a bad look on the administration, and the sooner we figure this out, the better the face save will be."

He looks a little unnerved at the potential targets Cesar lists off, but doesn't shy away from addressing them. "Putting out a request for a list of high-value sitse to go into an alerted state should be easy to do. Can push for more if we find credible evidence of a threat." Stepping in a bit closer and lowering his voice, to the chagrin of the FBI agent, he adds, "They might've been doing classified work here, but if it's related to Monroe, and you look at the actors… Odessa Price has experience as a virologist, Rich Schwenkman a DoEA vet with experience in robotics, systems architecture, data analysis. Pete Varlane supposedly worked on clones and other weird science shit… I mean if you're talking about the kinds of things they could possibly get up to together, look no further than their combined resumes."

Wells steps back to gesture to the growing pile of documentation they have to review now. Paper copies of visitor's logs, testimonies of staff onsite about what they saw happen,— including the security guard on camera duty— detailed photographs of the wreckage, and Rhys Bluthner's relationship maps of the various prisoners. "There's a lot here, and more coming in. I can leave you to it and check back in later, unless you've got any more questions for me now."

It's a lot to take in, and the remarks about the character actors' collective resumes earns a deeper frown from Cesar for the grave implications. The sheer amount of initial information to sift through also makes the agent huff a long exhale. With a look over to Corbin, he doesn't hide the resigned shrug.

There was so much to go through. And that doesn't even consider the whole incident at Sunspot to tie in possibilities.

"Thanks, Wells. We'll start here and see what we get combing through with fresh eyes," Cesar replies after a beat, nodding to the other agent. "Point us at the coffee station later." Judging by the growing mound of paperwork, they're all going to need it.

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