Tabula Rasa Nostri


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Tabula Rasa Nostri
Synopsis Monica Dawson gets a chance at a fresh start.
Date January 16th, 2020

The sound of the surf is distant here, far away from the beach this conversation started on.

“You're sure about this?”

Standing at the bottom of a stoop beneath a black canvas awning, Charles Deveaux looks up at the woman turning from the door into the apartment complex. Traffic is light on the street, but the ambient noise of the city carries from neighboring thoroughfares.

“Charles,” she says, one hand on the doorknob, her voice hitching in the back of her throat as she looks down at him from the top step. “I cannot live with myself after what we've done. I can't live with you. I can't live with any of this,” she says with a broad gesture to the world around her, bracelets clattering together. “And the world can't live with the knowledge, and you know that.”

Swallowing down a lump, Charles steps up after her. “Nia,” her name is strangled in his throat, coming out as a croak, “we could start over. Everything could be different, a clean slate. Our clean slate.” Charles isn't the only one showing signs of distress. Nia’s eyes become glassy with tears, and she steps down to meet Charles, laying a hand on his cheek. She's silent for a moment, and Charles gently takes her wrist in one hand.

“Every time I look at you,” Nia whispers, her jaw trembling, “I hear those screams.” Charles smile starts to fade. “Every time I see your face, I remember what we did to her.” Tears dribble down past thick lashes, rolling down her cheeks. “We had something beautiful, Charles…” and she lowers her hand, letting his grip on her wrist slack and detach.

“…and now it's dead.”

Thirty-Five Years Later

The Clocktower Building
Red Hook, NYC Safe Zone
January 16th, 2020
2:12 pm

“The way I've heard it, Charles Deveaux was a wonderful man.”

Stepping through the doors of the Clocktower Building’s gilded lobby behind her granddaughter, Nia Dawson offers an appreciative smile at the door held for her by building staff. Nia’s heels click soundly on the marble floor as she follows in her granddaughter’s footsteps toward the reception area.

“He built this charity for his daughter Simone to run, but when she very tragically passed away stewardship went to a collection of women he trusted to carry out both his will and Simone’s.” Nia looks up at the ceiling, to the chandelier hanging overhead. “The charitable work I've done for the society feels like some of the best things I've done in my life. I think you're a smart girl to consider this, Monica.”

Monica looks over at her grandmother when she mentions Charles, her expression a little skeptical. It's the best she can do, really, when she's holding back so much. "He set this up, that certainly counts for something," she says, although there's a dryness to her words, like she's too world weary to believe in good men.

But she brushes off thoughts of Charles, The Company, mind wipes, Simone, her horrible death, her troubled boyfriend, his gift, his art— it's a train she does not need riding the rails around her brain. Instead, she hooks her arm around Nia's and gives her a warm smile. "Thanks for setting this up, Nana. After everything that happened last year, I really could use the fresh start. Something less… corporate. At the end of the day, I don't think that was a good fit for me."

Nevermind how good she was at her job.

Nia offers Monica’s arm a squeeze as they reach the reception desk, then turns her attention to the young man behind it. “Good afternoon, Nia Dawson here for Claudia Zimmerman?” She looks back at Monica with a reassuring smile. The young man behind the desk checks a few things on his computer, then taps a few keys and unlocks the executive elevator behind his desk that goes to the penthouse. A pair of broad-shouldered men in black suits flank either side of the elevator’s doors, watching both Nia and Monica carefully.

“Ms. Zimmerman is expecting you,” the front desk admin says with a cheerful smile. Nia gives one more squeeze to Monica’s hand and confidently walks with her into the elevator. There are no keys inside, just a panel displaying what floor the elevator is stopped on. The doors shut automatically on entrance, followed by a subtle lurch as it begins its ascent.

“Claudia’s wonderful, I met her when I started doing charity work for the Society after my liberation from the camp,” Nia says, her arm still hooked around Monica’s. “She’s a very matter-of-fact woman. You remember Brenda Foster? Lived down the street and always had a mimosa in her hand? Oh honey, it’s like they’re sisters. You know how it is.” She smiles, coyly, looking to the floor indicator rapidly counting up. “She wanted to meet with you personally when I told her you were interested, on account of your heroism.”

It's in Monica's nature to take stock of the guards, of the lack of control inside the elevator, to wonder what they're protecting with this type of security. She can't help but wonder what it looks like to other people, to her grandmother. Luxury?

To Monica it feels like a trap.

When Nia invokes an old memory, Monica's tension eases with a laugh. "I always liked Brenda. She gave me my first drink," she says— a confession that's only okay because they're all adults now and Brenda Foster is a long way away. "Matter-of-fact is good. I can deal with that." Monica herself has a tendency to be… blunt. Those last words sober her expression, though. "My heroism was a long time ago."

Girl,” Nia says in a tone of voice that implies she disagrees, “you have more heroism in your big toe than most people do in their whole bodies. You don't get to clock out of being a hero, it's a part of who you are as a person. You might take a day off but eventually…” the elevator comes to a stop, “it’ll come back for you.”

There's a soft bell chime as the elevator doors open, revealing the posh business suite penthouse of the Deveaux Society. The mechanisms of the actual clocktower run through the middle of the space, adjacent to the elevator, while the arms that turn the gears on all four clock faces span like support beams high overhead. Waiting for Monica and Nia at the elevator is a woman Monica has only ever seen in the news or heard mention of by Richard.

Claudia Zimmerman is every bit poise and grace, with her blonde hair wisped with gray swept up behind her head in a French plait, dressed in a relaxed suit of burgundy and plum with a pencil skirt and a copper brooch on her lapel of a Maori hei matau. “Monica,” Claudia says as she extends a hand in greeting, “it's a pleasure to get to meet Saint Joan in the flesh,” comes with a lopsided smile.

“It's wonderful to see you again Mrs. Zimmerman," Nia says as she steps out of the elevator.

Monica looks over at Nia as she speaks, and in that moment she has the urge to tell her everything that's gone on in the last few years. All she has to make up for. Her mouth opens— but so does the elevator. So she swallows that particular urge.

It isn't a good time or place for it, really.


She turns to see the room, which is definitely a sight to behold, but her attention is taken by the woman who dominates it. Monica remembers to smile as she shakes her hand. "Mrs. Zimmerman," she says, her smile turning somewhat sheepish, "Wow, Saint Joan. I haven't heard that in a long time. But it's a pleasure to meet you, too. Thank you for making time to see me. I know you're a busy woman."

“You're a storied person, Ms. Dawson. I've wanted to see you for quite some time, but I didn't want to be the one to reach out.” As Claudia greets Nia, she embraces the older woman and gently grips her bicep, smiling broadly as she does. As the two disengage their hug, Claudia motions over to a sitting area with white leather armchairs and loveseats, a glass topped coffee table, and a window view of the Safe Zone. There is someone waiting in the lounge when Claudia arrives, a blonde woman somewhere in Monica’s age range, messy curled hair and an expectant stare.

“Monica, this is—”

Amidst all of this, a four foot high and one foot wide cylinder of metal pipes and black plastic rings stands like some sort of abstract art piece, the rubbons of cabling coming from it spill down onto the floor and slither across the floor to where a young looking blonde woman is hunched over a computer with an old CRT monitor shedding dim light on her face.

Muddy green eyes peer up over the monitor to Cardinal, and despite the dirty blonde ringlets of hair, there's something familiar about the woman looking up at him, but for the life of him he can't quite place it. "Good morning, ah, Professor Mallet's in a loo," there's a quirk of her lips into a faint smile, "s'there something I can do for you?"

As she steps out from behind the computer, a plastic badge dangling on a lariat around her neck reads: Baumgartner, Aria. over the logo for the Commonwealth Institute of Massachusetts.

“We’ve met,” Aria interrupts Claudia, “a lifetime ago.” Her dark brows rise, and in that moment Monica remembers the day she first laid eyes on Aria in Ronald Mallet’s lab at MIT. Claudia looks back to Monica, then to Aria with a crooked smile.

“In that case, could you get us something to drink. A vodka and tonic for me and whatever our guests would like,” Claudia instructs as she sits down in one of the white leather armchairs while Aria pushes herself up to stand. Nia raises one brow, watching Aria move to the kitchenette not far away.

“I'll just have a water if that's alright,” Nia says politely, sitting down on one end of the loveseat.

"Well, it's nice to know I'm entertaining, at least," Monica says, as if that's the best any stories about her might do. She steps over to the sitting area, but catches sight of Aria before she manages to actually sit. Monica can pretty much draw a straight line from that visit to Mallet's lab and the facility where the universe cracked. And she lost her arm. "Aria," she says, "good to see you again."

She's not actually sure it is. Time will tell.

"I'll take a whiskey sour," she says, finally remembering to lower herself into the seat next to Nia. "Please." Somehow, she's supposed to remember social graces in all this. Usually when she's caught off guard, the solution is a lot of punching and kicking. Something tells her that won't work in this situation.

“Sabra Dalton wanted to be here to meet you,” Claudia says with careful regard to Monica’s position in the room, “but unfortunately she's on her way to Canada to meet with the Prime Minister and Secretary Chesterfield regarding some rather important business. But she extends her regards.” A hint of tension creases Claudia’s brow as she says that, slouching back against the leather upholstery of her seat.

“Now,” Claudia folds her hands in her lap, “your grandmother tells me that you're interested in a position with the Society?” It isn't a question, and Monica can feel the weight in which Claudia says that. “I'll be honest, we don't recruit. Nor do we hire. Not really.”

Claudia isn't being dismissive, though. There's a point she's circling like a cat circling another cat. “What do you know about us? About the Society?” Her brows rise slowly. “What have you heard?” Monica can read between the lines:

What has Richard told you?

"Well, I appreciate her interest," Monica says, dipping her head at the mention of Sabra, "Please tell her I'm sorry to have missed her." The tension is noticed, but Monica doesn't react to it, as if not wanting to embarrass her host by drawing attention to it.

When Claudia gets around toward the point, Monica leans back in her seat, her hands folding together in front of her, flesh weaving with mechanics.

"Aside from your public positions," she says, to get the obvious out of the way, "and the charity work your organization does, my interest in your organization comes in two parts." What is difficult in this moment is to curb the urge to pace. Or drum her fingers. Or any of her usual displays of restlessness. "On the larger scale, this world that we're living in, it… isn't exactly what I fought for. When I look at New York City today, or any number of places across this country, I see everything we failed to protect. And there are a lot of organizations claiming to want to restore everything that was lost. But I've become more and more convinced that they either aren't entirely truthful about their priorities or don't have the focus and resources to make these accomplishments happen." What she is careful about is not to lie, not outright. And also not to worry her Nana with the conversation going on underneath the surface. "I want a win, Mrs. Zimmerman. And not one that feels no different than a loss."

That is more truth than she typically admits to. And she's comfortable leaving the impression that she believes she can find that win here.

"On a more personal level, though. A more important level, at least to me… You saved my grandmother. She is what matters to me." That will have to serve as her answer for what Richard told her, given the length of the look she levels at Claudia as she speaks. "She's happy here. She believes in the work she's doing and I believe in her. And if the only thing I accomplish is making sure she never has another worry in her life, that'll be more than enough for me." She looks over at Nia, a warm smile returning as she reaches over to squeeze her hand. "Plus, we could have lunches together all the time. No other place can offer that."

Nia reaches out to lay a hand on Monica’s, fixing a look to her that all but screams and you say your hero days are behind you. That grandmotherly judgment comes in crisp and clear as she squeezes Monica’s hand, then gingerly lets it go. Claudia seems more pragmatic, frowning for a moment as she threads a lock of blonde hair behind one ear.

“Wins aren’t easy,” Claudia opines, upturning a tired stare to Monica. “Wins also aren’t ever clean, and I can’t believe I’m the one saying that to you. The fact that there even is a New York today is a win on such a scale historians won’t ever realize the effort that went into making it. The Deveaux Society isn’t…” she makes a noise in the back of her throat, “it’s never been about restoring what was lost, it’s been about safeguarding what there is to lose, and building something better for the future. We’re less concerned with the past than we are with what’s to come.”

Nia looks intently at Claudia, not entirely sure that she likes her tone. But for the life of her, Nia doesn’t speak up. She keeps her hands folded in her lap and chin politely raised with shoulders squared. Claudia catches the look, all paternal and defensive, and she deflates some.

"You think this," Monica says with a gesture that might as well take in the world at large, "is a win? Any of this? Government corruption, still there." She lifts to her feet, pacing a few steps away while she counts points on cybernetic fingers. "Humanis First with a new name and this time, extra bonus, they have zombie racists so we never have to run out. We have a company selling every country on the planet their own future destruction under the guise of security. We definitely have mad scientists doing unethical experiments still. Gangs running drugs and claiming territory going mostly unchecked. Existential threats we don't even really understand yet cruising around the place doing who knows what. Everything we tried to stop, we just nudged to a new form, when we even managed that much. And we bombed the country to hell and back, but hey. We have a fraction of New York City kind of up and running. Go team."

Perhaps sarcasm isn't the best move in this moment, but Monica doesn't seem to notice that this wasn't the time, place, or company for that particular speech. She drops back into her seat, exhaling heavily and dropping her arms against the arms of the chair. Obviously, she had higher expectations when she originally set out to save the world and perhaps hasn't really dealt with her own disappointment— and guilt— with how things ended up.

“Look,” Claudia says casually, making a brushing gesture through the air with one hand, “we’re…” but the gesture falters, Claudia’s shoulders slack, and she settles back against the cushions of her chair. “Oh, fuck it.” The sudden profanity has Nia’s eyes widening in surprise. But before she can react more than reflexive offense, Claudia reaches inside her blazer and pulls out a slim, metallic pack of cigarettes and goes through the wordless motions of lighting up and stowing the pack back in her jacket.

Right around this time, Aria has returned with a serving tray, setting it down between the trio. It doesn’t take her telepathy to notice something is //amiss, and as she starts to hand out the drinks she locks a long stare on Claudia who in return addresses Aria rather directly. “Can you take Ms. Dawson,” she motions to Nia, “downstairs to the waiting room?”

Excuse me?” Nia says with a quirk of her head to the side. Claudia closes her eyes and takes a long drag off of her cigarette and leaves Aria standing there in awkward silence. After a moment she takes a step back away from the table and fixes a look at Nia, but Claudia chimes back in.

“No, nevermind. Just— do a telepathic sweep of the building,” Claudia says in a gruff tone of voice, “nobody else comes up here. Not even Alice or Stone.” Blue eyes blink a look back to Monica and both Nia and Aria are a bit stunned and not sure what to make of Claudia’s demeanor, right up until what comes next.

“You’re here now, there’s no delaying this any further.” Claudia says, sucking down another lungful of smoke before looking up to Nia. “Do you remember Charles Deveaux… from when you were younger?”

The shocked look of confusion on Nia’s face says no. She does not.

Claudia gets Monica’s attention again with the curse, and her eyebrow lifts with interest rather than shock. And luckily, Aria comes back around with the drinks which Monica takes with a grateful thank you before she drinks and shifts to sit forward with her elbows on her knees. "Oh, we're just gonna— okay," she says, at the mention of Charles Deveaux.

"Is it true?"

“I’ve never met Mr. Deveaux.” Nia says softly, firing a look at Monica that is at once shocked and apologetic that this conversation has become as much. But Claudia seems unmoved by Nia’s dismissal. Instead, she reaches into her jacket pocket and retrieves a square plastic case about the size of something that would hold an SD card. The case is clear, and when she holds it up between two fingers there is clearly a penny inside of it.

Claudia leans forward and presses the case to the table, then slides it across to Nia.

“Last year the paramilitary group Wolfhound raided the home of a former Company asset named Caspar Abraham.” Claudia says in a flat and level voice. “Abraham was the Company’s information asset management specialist, which is a fancy way of saying he made things disappear before more traditional memory alteration was available. Caspar possessed the ability to encode stolen memories into physical objects. Any object. But he preferred pennies because he thought he was clever.”

Nia looks down at the case, squaring her shoulders and sitting back and away from it as if it might bite her. She looks up from it to Claudia, accusation in her eyes. “What does any of this have to do with me?” She asks with fear giving her voice a faint quaver.

Claudia looks down at the case, then up and over to Monica, before squaring a look back at Nia. “In 1984 the Company was involved in an incident so sensitive that the mere knowledge of it could potentially bring about the destruction of civilization. A threat to all life so great the mere notion of it and the lengths to which the Company went to avert it were redacted from history with great effort and great tragedy…”

“You were there.” Claudia says with a nod to the encased penny. “You and your husband at the time.”

“Charles Deveaux.”

Thirty-Five Years Earlier

New Orleans, Louisiana
February 8, 1985

Nia Dawson’s expression hasn’t changed in the long moments of silence between her denial of Charles’ storybook ending. The distant noise of traffic fills the gaps between their broken vows, and to symbolize the transition she slides the gold band off of her ring finger and offers it out to him in an open palm. There is love lost in Nia’s eyes, emphasized by the tears she can’t stop, unlike the way she steadies her jaw from trembling.

Charles steps up onto the stoop, resting the flat of his palm against Nia’s, then slowly moves his fingertips across her hand to take the ring back. Blinking away the tears in his own eyes, Charles exhales a shaky breath and nods. He’s known this day was coming for a long time. He’s feared that while the ends justified the means, there would be sacrifices. There would be consequences. He takes Nia’s wedding ring back with a neutral expression to hide his pain.

When Charles steps down off the stoop it is also to the side, revealing the man that had been standing in his silhouette from Nia’s perspective. Caspar Abraham withdraws his fedora and places it against his chest nearby to the red carnation pinned to his lapel. “Mrs. Deveaux,” he says solemnly, to which Nia swallows audibly when the surname is spoken, “why don’t we… go inside? We’ll have a cup of tea, and I’ll… wipe the slate clean.” Nia swallows back a rising lump in her throat, then looks to Charles with an unsteady jaw.

“I want you to stay away from my son,” Nia’s voice cracks with that sudden demand. “When this is done, when I forget, you leave him out of this.” Caspar is frozen in his tracks, stepping out of Nia’s line of sight to Charles so as to not be any more involved in this argument than he needs to be. But he watches Charles’ reaction, watches the way one of the most powerful men he knows is laid so low by words.

Charles nods, conceding Nia’s point. “Charlie stays with you, I won’t… I won’t interfere in his life. He’s always been on the outside of this. He’s not like us, he… she doesn’t deserve this weight.” Charles can’t quite make eye contact with Nia, staring just over her shoulder into the dark of the doorway.

“You’d best not subject Simone to any of this either,” Nia says sharply. “That girl has lost everything, Charles. The last thing she deserves to be burdened with is the truth.”

“Simone, Charlie,” Charles says, pausing before adding, “our granddaughter. No one will know.”

“No one will remember.”

Present Day

“Your son Charlie…” Claudia says before looking to Monica, “and Charles’ granddaughter he would never know.”

Monica empties her drink in one go, sets down the glass, and reaches over to take Nia's hand. Her fingers squeeze her grandmother's and she turns to look at her. "Your memories were taken. Your past. Your power. All to hide every shred of evidence about this threat that came back anyway," she says, the last spoken with a brief glance back to Claudia. "Richard told me about a picture he saw with you and Charles and a bunch of people from The Company. I wasn't able to confirm it, though. Not until today."

She understands why they did it, why the memories were locked away as they were. But the fact remains that Charles Deveaux left her grandmother to struggle in New Orleans while he lived out his days in a fancy highrise in New York City. She can't forget the nights they sat around the kitchen table working out how to make ends meet, how hard they all worked to not let her brother know how bad it got sometimes. The position DL got himself in. And Niki, too. Every sacrifice Nia made over the years was a tick against this grandfather she never knew.

"She should have had all this," she says with a wave of her mechanical hand at the building they're sitting in.

Claudia breathes in deeply through her nose, blinking a look over to Nia. “You may not remember it, Ms. Dawson, but you had that choice and turned it down.” Nia seems neither shocked nor in disagreement that she would have. Squeezing Monica’s hand back, there’s a sort of strength behind her eyes that Monica hasn’t quite seen since they lived in New Orleans.

“And I’d turn it down again,” Nia says with a quick look to Monica. “All this. This wealth and power, I don’t need it. I don’t want it. You telling me that I turned my back on a man who hurt me and chose to forge my own path, without his money, without his name? That speaks true to me, to who I am as a person. That I raised my boy to be a good man, a good husband, and a good father by myself.” Her voice cracks a little there, the hand holding Monica’s squeezing tightly. “That’s proof of who I am.”

Claudia looks down at her lap, nodding as she shifts in her seat. “I would never presume to think otherwise, Nia. For what it’s worth, we were unaware of all of this when we recovered you from the detention center, but when agent Rhys Bluther of SESA did an inspection of you with his ability he… saw things that a memory redaction couldn’t hide. Your tie to Charles and the Founders. That’s when we started looking. It wasn’t until Wolfhound’s discovery that we were able to confirm it.”

Nia nods, looking over to Monica again and adding another hand atop hers. “I may be a stubborn old woman, set in my ways, but my granddaughter…” She hesitates, testing out something in her head before saying it aloud, “Charles’ granddaughter? If there’s any part of this that she deserves…”

“I understand,” Claudia says quietly. “That’s why I wanted to have this meeting. If you’re not interested in expanding your role here, Nia, I’d like to extend an offer to Monica to do as much. The Deveaux Society is, in part, your birthright. Simone Deveaux was a brilliant, passionate, and empathetic woman who died too soon. But her philanthropic legacy is only part of what we do here… and I would be glad to have you involved in any capacity.”

Monica holds tightly to Nia's hand, working to keep her eyes from watering up too much. Professionalism is out the window for this meeting, but Claudia still doesn't need to see her get overly emotional. "All I want in this life is to make sure you never struggle another day," she says. She clears her throat and summons a crooked smile before she goes on. "Even if you are stubborn."

Bit of a family trait, that one.

She looks back over to Claudia, letting out a soft sigh. "I don't particularly want his money, either," she says, "but I do want to be a part of things here. I want to take all that shit he pulled and all that profit he made off it and make sure it's being used for the right things now."

“We suspected this day would be coming for a while now,” Claudia admits in a quiet tone of voice. “Ever since we began to piece together the history lost to time, we knew this conversation would need to happen. I'll be frank with you, Monica,” Claudia says with a blink of a look over to her, “Sabra, Alice, and I have worked long and hard to get the world to where it is now. But… Sabra has wanted to step down for some time. She's getting on in years and this lifestyle isn't what it used to be. People in our line of work don't often get the chance to retire, and…” Claudia raises her brows. “I'd like to be able to give her that much.”

Nia grows quiet, yet her presence is a reaffirming force. She does not relent from her fast grip on Monica’s hand, nor does the reassurance she wordlessly offers falter. Claudia uses Nia’s quiet reassurance to press the issue, having a measure of worry on the timing and wanting more than anything to set these wheels in motion.

“This is obviously a prolonged process, taking the shared reins of an organization like ours,” Claudia explains, “but if you're willing to begin learning… the Deveaux Society would do well to have you in our fold. The future isn't going to protect itself.”

Of all the things Claudia could have said, that was the last thing Monica would have guessed. She lifts her eyebrows in a show of disbelief and exhales slowly as she sits back in her seat. Ex-freedom fighter, ex-assassin, ex-fugitive… this isn't exactly where she pictured herself. Jail, more likely. Dead, even more so. She's always been willing to give everything she has for the fight.

She just always saw that as a fight on a battlefield, not a boardroom.


Looking over at her grandmother, Monica knows she's going to accept. If only to make sure the future is safe for her, for JJ, she has to do it.

"Count me in," she says, turning to look at Claudia again. "I don't mind learning some things the old fashioned way," she adds with a crooked smile. There are some things her power doesn't help her with, and it's been a while since she had a challenge.

With a look of certainty and acceptance in her eyes, Nia squeezes Monica’s hand tightly and turns her attention to Claudia, who slouches back into her chair and lets the tension that had been in her shoulders all night finally drain away. “Fabulous,” she says in a way that makes her relief feel palpable. “I’ll have Aria draft up some papers you’ll need to sign. In the interim, why don’t we go about getting you and your grandmother set up with suites here in the building. You would both do well with the increased security and, for ease of your transition into a leadership role, proximity will be good for all of us.”

Claudia smiles, the first truly honest smile she’s had all night.

“Welcome to the business of insurance.”

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