The Connection



Scene Title The Connection
Synopsis Felix Ivanov finally catches a break on the investigation Elisabeth had sent him on…
Date August 2013 to November 2014

Michelle LeRoux.

The name had been haunting Felix Ivanov for six months now. When Elisabeth Harrison first asked him to dig into a list of names, to dig into the circumstances that brought her impossibly from one version of reality to another, he had no idea just how deep the rabbit hole would go. She hadn’t even asked him to did into LeRoux, and yet somehow he’d stumbled upon her anyway.

The musty basement Felix now finds himself in is a juxtaposition of past meeting the future. Rows of tall metal shelves contain cardboard boxes filled with file folders archived after the digitization wave began a generation ago. Most of these documents were still sealed under various levels of classification, but the archival process was never clean, and the retention of these documents not always as organized as one might like. Connections in Washington have permitted Felix carte blanche access to the physical record stores. Nothing past 1991 is kept down here, and most of it is in the process of being declassified. It isn't the nation's most damning secrets, from a layman's perspective.

Sliding a box out from the fifth shelf of a stack three rows back, Felix balances precariously on a step ladder. The file folders are all dusty, the plastic wrapping around them yellowed with age. As he peels back the plastic covering, the red-stickered tabs of the folders marking them as classified are all clearly visible. Felix's search has led him, of all places, here.

Because what looks innocuous from one perspective, is illuminating from another.

J. Edgar Hoover Building

Washington, D.C.

August 18, 2013

11:17 am

Down off the step ladder, Felix sets the box of files down on a small folding table under a dingy, yellow lamp. He'd come here looking for records the FBI may have had on Michelle LeRoux, and instead he'd found something potentially more damning, something more dangerous. The military records contained within belong to formerly active servicemen at one point in time under investigation by the FBI. It was a lead in Kansas City that led Felix here, interviews with former colleagues and classmates of Michelle LeRoux that led nowhere. Save for one.

As he takes one file out and lays it on the table, Felix recalls that conversation. With a man in his late forties, a student at the university when Michelle was present, when she was slain in a traffic accident. Oleander Thespuda, a naturalized American citizen originally from Brazil. He had an eye-witness account of the traffic accident, but his account differed greatly from the others'. It was like he remembered more.


Picking his coffee up from the tabletop of the diner, Oleander raises his brows. "Man, nobody believed me back then. I felt like I was going crazy, you know? I was out walking that night, it was beautiful out. Clear skies, not a cloud in sight…" looking down to the coffee, Oleander tilts his head to the side. "Heard a scream come up from the direction of the dorms, saw this white girl come running out and I was like… okay, don't get involved in this shit." Oleander looks up to Felix. "You get it."

Brushing dust off of the folder, Felix flips it over and looks at the name on the side. Petrelli, Arthur. There's a chill that runs down his spine, like he'd stolen a peek under the hem of God's robe and saw something he shouldn't have. As he opens the file, Oleander's voice floods his mind again.

"I hung back though, because… you know, maybe she needed help. Maybe somebody was gonna help." Oleander curses to himself under his breath, taking a sip of his coffee. "I didn't even notice the truck. Big rig came rolling through, and she ran out in front of it… away from something. I don't think she ever saw what hit her." There's a tremor is guilt in his voice, even after all this time. "I saw these men in suits come running, right? Guns, lookin' all over the place. I ducked down behind the car. This one guy, he starts shouting about how things needed to be locked down. Shouted to another guy to get… and I shit you not… Arthur Petrelli on the horn." Oleander raises his brows again.

Flipping through the file, the old document is a partly redacted investigation by the FBI into a US infentry officer during vietnam. The file is titled SEA:V5J1K2/P/L and codenamed Lonestar. Inside are maps of a region of Vietnam, testamony from two interviews, each with redacted speakers referred to by code names Austin and Dallas. It appears to be regarding the massacre of a village in Vietnam, but Felix also finds references dating back to 1968 referencing superhuman abilities of healing.

"I ran," Oleander says without any shame. "That girl, she was dead. I thought about her a lot of nights. I left Kansas, moved to New York for a few years. I only just moved back here, needed to get away from the Big Apple. Funny, now, seeing you here asking after a girl like that. Been a long time, but nobody never mentioned the agents. I downright forgot the name Arthur Petrelli until Pinehearst came up. I guess that's one of the reasons I left New York. Felt weird… felt wrong."

The Lonestar file was a lost document, tucked away in the physical archives and likely never digitized. This is something the Company would have sanitized, something they would have destroyed had they been aware of it. But they can't be everywhere at once, can't possibly see and know everything. No defense is foolproof. But that raises the question, had the Company been involved in Michelle LeRoux's death? Had they redacted people's memories, much in the way the FBI redacted part of this file?

Finishing his coffee, Oleander slides out of the booth. "I hope that helps you find it. Whatever it is you're looking for. But, between you and me? All them other people on the street saw what I did, but nobody else remembers." Exhaling a deep sigh through his nose, Oleander finally explains what he means. "That night, the sky had this beautiful aurora in it. Never see that in Kansas, but there it was, this big twist of green light in the sky. But nobody talked about it. Nobody remembered.

Felix Ivanov had just peeled back the corner of history's carpet, and found a bloodstain on the floor below.

So this is going to have to be underhanded, and under the table. He’s got old contacts, people in the Bureau who owe him a favor or two….and other ins with the twisty little tunnels of Federal bureaucracy. Time to let the word ‘Lonestar’ out into the wind, see what comes back.

Oleander gets thanks….and a suggestion, a very firm one, that he find somewhere far away to be, and forget that this conversation ever happened.

Ghosts like Lonestar don’t just appear quietly, though. When Felix leaves the Hoover building with the Lonestar file, with a piece of the agency’s history that disappeared decades ago, it’s like digging open a grave and hauling out a carcass into the light. It stinks, and nobody wants to be around it.

By the time Felix is home, by the time he’s made a few calls and put the word out with his contacts, there’s little that comes back. Younger people within the agency have never heard of the Lonestar file, even some veteran desk jockeys don’t recall what it is. But when there is a piqued interest, it comes from directions that are at once both unexpected and in the grayest of margins.

Korean War Veteran’s Memorial

Washington, D.C.

August 27, 2013

4:19 pm

It was days after Felix’s digging at the Hoover building’s archives that he finally had a bite about the Lonestar file. That his contact wanted to meet in the Korean War memorial park felt almost movie cliche. In the late summer afternoon the memorial grounds are swimming with tourists, and under the shadow of a tree, seated on a park bench, Felix is able to watch the tourists several walking paths over, looking at the white stone monuments of ghillie-suited soldiers marching through tall grass.

“You have a family member who served?” Is the casual question from the broad-shouldered man in a navy blue suit that comes up beside Felix on the bench. The mirrored aviator sunglasses and mustache that someone manages to be both unflattering and smug at the same time is exactly how Felix Ivanov remembers Avi Epstein. Interdepartmental cooperation, the fall of the Vanguard, strange bedfellows in the professional sense.

“Had a guy, might as well’f been my father,” Epstein continues, eating sunflower seeds out of a crinkly plastic bag. “He served in the Korean War. Guy was one of those chest-beating types, real true blood soldier. Whole reason I enlisted.” He turns, spits a few chewed up shells on the ground. “Did Russia send anybody into the Korean War?” He asks, knowingly.


But Avi Epstein isn’t here to talk parents, Ivanov knows him well know that the CIA spook is sniffing for information. The only person either brave enough, dumb enough, or some mixture of the two willing to take a whiff at what Felix had pulled up out of that informational grave below the Hoover Building.

Hounds’ve always had a good instinct for finding carrion, and dragging it out into the light, haven’t they?

And CIA and the FBI always collectively been at daggers drawn, from the days of the OSS and Hoover in charge of the Bureau, doing his level best to make it into America’s Gestapo. Rumor floating around both shores of the the cesspool of spooks says that Ivanov may be up for ADD or even DD in time, if he deigns to sully his toes in the swamp that is DC, again.

But there’s no malice in his face, as he looks up at Epstein, even moving over on the bench to make room. He’s in casual gear, for him: workshirt over a t-shirt, jeans, no glasses anymore. Of course he’s armed - there’s at least one pistol on him. The grin, however, is that lip-lifted half-sneer, an expression more canine than human. A glance at the memorial. “Yep. Great-uncle Nikolai made ace there, in fact.” A beat, and he adds, “He’s probably spinning in his grave, considering what I’ve ended up doing and for whom, to come to think. My grandfather Felix’s ghost probably approves immensely,” He holds out a palm, cupped for sunflower seeds. Pony up, Epstein.

A sprinkle of sunflower seeds are dashed into Felix’s palm, along with a very small micro-USB drive. “Yeah, I empathize with that.” Epstein admits with four honesty. “I think Roy would've wanted me to keep serving, keep fighting the good fight, but honestly… a desk job isn't that bad. Sometimes they let me out for good behavior too.” So he can get up to bad behavior.

“I wanted to talk t’you about something.” Avi notes in a conspiratorial tone as he goes back to munching pinches if sunflower seeds and spitting the shells into the immaculately manicured grass. “You ever wonder how long it'll be before the bullshit curtain gets torn down?” He glances down at Felix from behind the frames of his sunglasses. “Not the iron one, if you got confused.”

Epstein cracks a smile at his own joke, noisily eating at the same time. “I mean all of this. The hand-holding kumbaya bullshit curtain the Petrellis keep trotting out every time there's a tragedy.” Epstein looks back to the memorial. “The problem is, we can't all just get along. Human beings — whether they're a human blowtorch or not — are violent, selfish little shits. It's only a matter of time before somebody starts pissing in the pool.”

“Of course. All the time,” Felix admits, without any hesitation at all. He vanishes the microdrive in an instant, presumably to some hidden pocket. “One of the few things universal to nearly every human culture is genocide. We’ve had innumerable wars about immaterial things like religious faith. Now that there’s a demonstrable difference, something that’s really, truly verifiable…”

He trails off, shaking his head. “This is a house of cards.” He slants a look at Epstein. “If I were more of an idealist, I’d be looking for some place to found the SLCE version of Israel. Somewhere we can put our backs against the wall. Because you’re absolutely right, it won’t hold forever.” The pale gaze doesn’t waver. “And you’re looking for someone else to help you tear that curtain down, aren’t you?”

He’s nibbling the sunflower seeds thoughtfully, a few at a time. Reminiscent of his childhood, they’re something of a Russian obsession.

“America’s starting to look like that haven,” Avi admits with a slant of his head to the side. “But I'm up on the side of the wall with you now, Ivanov. Petrelli’s let project, abilities for the masses… with an asterisk.” He looks down at his now empty bag of sunflower seeds, crumpling it up and jamming it into a suit jacket pocket. “The tipping point is going to be what happens when Petrelli runs out of steam.”

Stepping around the bench, Avi briefly circles in front of Felix and looks down at the agent. The sun reflects in paired gleam off of the mirrored lenses of his sunglasses. “If something were to happen to him, if his position were challenged, it'd be Lord of the Flies time here. The world hasn't seen a power vacuum that great in all its history.”

Avi lifts up his sunglasses, looks squarely at Felix. “Keep that in mind, because if you pull on that loose thread hard enough,” he motions around the park, “all this changes.”

The smart, pat answer is that he’s Russian, and Russians have a tendency to slaughter their would-be emperors and rulers. But Fel’s thoughtful enough, old enough, mellow enough to swallow that retort. Instead, he looks up into Avi’s eyes, stare level. “I understand,” he says, quietly. ”Right now, Petrelli’s the linchpin. But… so far’s I know, no one died and elected him immortal god-emperor. Is he immortal?” It’s apparently a serious question, as he gazes up at the CIA agent.

A beat, and he stretches an arm along the back of the bench, lazily. “Because if he isn’t, this time is going to come eventually. And the question is how much damage he gets to do in the meanwhile. What do we let him do, for now, to keep up all this?” A wave of a hand, imperious. “Murder at will? Dictate who lives and who dies? Dictators die, all of them, from Nero and Caligula up to Stalin. Time comes for all of us.”

His gaze doesn’t waver. “You and I both swore our respective oaths to the United States of America. To a nation that claims to stand for ideals, for the rule of law. And I believe that you’re faithful to your oath. So I’m asking you, Epstein - what do you think I should do? Sit down, shut up, let it ride?”

The answer, of course, is never simple. “You’re holding a match, and I gave you a can of gasoline, Ivanov.” Avi pushes his sunglasses up the bridge of his nose, stepping away from the bench. “It’s a free fucking country, you’re free to pour that on yourself, on the grass, or on whatever the fuck you want. Just remember, no matter what you do?” Avi looks back, just enough to emphasize his point.

“There’s consequences for everything.”

Green Mount Cemetery

Baltimore, Maryland

November 14, 2014

4:14 pm

Warm light of a fiery sunset burning in the west, allowing the shadows of headstones and grave-marking monuments to cast long and dark shadows across the ground. The leaves have only just begun to turn in Maryland in November, and the ground has just a dusting of brown color on it from them.

Trekking out to a cemetery in the middle of autumn is one of the subtler ways Felix Ivanov has been following through with his promises to Elisabeth Harrison. What he’d been given by Epstein last year is still burning a hole in the back of his mind, and putting some distance between the firestorm on that thumb drive and the other arm of this investigation felt like a necessity. So here he winds up, walking between headstones and looking for a grave that could confirm necessary suspicions. When he’d first stolen into the archives below the Hoover building, it was following the tail end of where his journey began, with an obituary clipping that opened more doors than it closed.

Elisabeth hadn’t started out by asking him to investigate Michelle LeRoux, that was a logical progression from where things began. Which, perhaps poetically, starts and ends here at the grave Felix Ivanov stops in front of. The last few vestiges of daylight are flitting away beyond the fringe of pine trees at the edge of the cemetery, and this headstone might as well be the red X at the end of a pirate’s treasure map.

Here Lies Simon Broome

Born January 18 1931Died April 8, 1985

The newspaper clipping from 1985 indicated that Simon Broome died in an automobile accident in Baltimore after suffering a stroke at the wheel. The fact that the man Elisabeth wanted him to look up was dead wasn’t surprising, these things happen. What was surprising was the name attached to the end of the obituary:

”He is survived by his wife Ruby Harper and his son Desmond.


Desmond Harper wasn’t the connection Felix intended to make, and yet here things are. Harper is an active member of the CIA, a special activities division known as the Royals specializing in international combat zones. But before he joined the CIA, Harper was poached out of the FBI by an especially aggressive recruitment strategem. He and Ivanov were acquaintances, in several ways. That they’d kept up from time to time over the years on the books, that they’d remained friendly, would never explain this.

“This isn’t how I imagined our next meeting to go.” Desmond states on arrival to the headstone with Felix, looking over to the taller man with one brow raised. Desmond sticks his shovel into the ground, drawing in a slow and deep breath. When he exhales it, there’s a sense of resignation that comes with it as well.

When Harper settles his attention on the headstone, its with a furrow of his brows. “My father faked his own death in 85, to get away from the Company. He told me everything he knew about them, taught me how to hide from them. Taught me how to hurt them, if I ever needed to.” Harper’s steely stare levels on Felix next. “He passed away in his sleep in 97, never got to see those fuckers fall. Never got to see my mother again before he passed. Never got to tell her the truth…”

Hand on the end of the shovel, Harper motions to the grave with his nose. “We buried all of his Company-related archives in this grave, as a failsafe in the event they ever came after us. We could air out their dirty laundry.”

None of this would matter to Felix, were it not for the connection he’d made after the dead end finding out about Broome’s death. That Simon Broome had privately invested finances in a scientific grant the year before his death, one that went to a Michelle LeRoux, for research into quantum physics and the search for other realities through string theory.

There’s one thing Felix has learned in his life. There’s no such thing as coincidences.

He’s taken an oath not to martyr himself, one that weighs as heavy as the one he swore when he joined the Bureau… and now every step along this path feels like another pace towards the scaffold. Felix Ivanov has a good life… and he’s winding up the wrecking ball on it.

But he’s here anyhow. “I hope it’s there and I hope it’s good, because we’re going to need to give them a hell of a fucking to do any real damage,” he says, bluntly. “Do you know all of what your dad was in to?” A quick, sidelong glance at the CIA agent.

The Russian pauses in front of the headstone, looking at it. Adds, a half-grin curling the corner of his mouth, “I’ve got a cenotaph, too. Nothing so good buried under it, though. I figure I’ll still get buried there, if I can, when the time comes. Like reserved parking, you know? Those are hard as hell to get in New York, even now.”

Felix picks up the shovel; there’s the crunch of steel blade biting into soil and gravel.

“I figure in our lines of work,” Harper notes with a raise of one brow, “we've got to make preparations.” Whether he means legitimate or illegitimate lines of work isn't clear, and maybe that's half of the point.

But there's that other question, one lingering in the periphery if the conversation, the specter of legacies left behind and closets full of skeletons. Harper addresses it head on, using the second shovel he hadn't stuck in the dirt to join in the diving.

“My father was a futurist, in all the ways that can go wrong. My grandfather was a literal armband wearing Nazi, apparently worked on eugenics programs involving the Evolved as far back as World War 2.” Harper offers a look over to Felix, a flash of an awkward smile before he goes back to digging. “Simon hated his father, everything he stood for. But he eventually followed in the footsteps of his research, studying the human genome. I think that's how he got wrapped up in things the Company was doing.”

Harper shovels aside more soil. “He never told me exactly what his relationship with the Company was, but he did say he had massive spots of missing time from his associations with them. Gaps in his memory. He was afraid that they hid something from him. He wrote down everything else he could remember, every little crime he could commit to paper. Stowed it all here.”

But then, Harper pauses and looks to Felix. “I'd figured all that dirty laundry was aired when the Company went down in flames.” But then, as he looks at the headstone he's left to wonder. “Maybe there's always going to be skeletons in those closets.”

He’s not using his ability specifically. The dirt only flies at approximately the normal rate, after he’s paused to skin out of suit jacket and shirt, set them aside out of range of stray clods.

“That’s okay,” he says, wryly, as he works. “My mom’s dad was NKVD and then KGB, a stooge for Beria who personally sent thousands to the gulag. Mom was a KGB archivist,” Let it not be said that Felix Nikolaievich is afraid to get his hands dirty. “I guess being secret police is kinna the family business. Mom was delighted when I joined the Bureau.”

But he flicks a look at the other agent again, once he’s settled into a steady rhythm. “Memories removed, eh?” he asks, prompting. “D’you know by what means? My default guess is someone’s Evolved ability, but…” A grunt, as he pauses to lever out a particularly stubborn stone. “Let’s just say I’ve been following the trail of those mental erasers for a little bit now, which is why we’re here together now. What sort of dirty laundry are you guessing?”

“I never found out, but I know there's at least more than one way to skin a cat and make it forget you did.” Harper hauls more dirt out of the ground, and the sun has finally set behind the forested horizon, the dwindling light of dusk set against a cemetery an unwelcome reminder of their own mortality.

“The way I see it,” Harper notes with a rather matter-of-fact tone, “the Company’s dirty laundry got aired and Arthur Petrelli came out smelling like roses. Nobody who works in our line of business, especially one as clandestine as he was in, is clean. So if there's something left to drag into the light, it's got his fingerprints all over it.”

Which also begs an answer to a question asked earlier. “As far as the CIA is concerned, Arthur’s fucking invincible. Nobody in the administration trusts him, or even likes him, but he's got some kind of silver bullet leverage over the policy-makers and string-pullers.” Leverage that Avi Epstein dropped into Felix Ivanov’s waiting hand like so much bird seed.

“Nobody in Intelligence wants him to have as much power as he has…” Harper admits with a brief look to Felix in the pale blue light of dusk. “But nobody knows how to knock him down, he's like the Jabberwock. My hope? Inside this grave is a sword that goes snicker-snack.”

"Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something,” quotes Felix, quietly. “And… I think I have something that might do that. But the more the better, because I’m one man, no matter my job. I can’t fly under their radar forever.” The heap of dirt is rising, there’s sweat on his brow, staining his shirt.

“I’ve not gone after him directly in the Bureau. I don’t want my official fingerprints on this stuff.” That sense of being a blind matador stepping on to the sand to face a whole legion of monster bulls is only growing. “But yeah, scuttlebutt says the same for us.”

“Part of me feels a little guilty about it all,” Harper confides. “For a tyrant, Arthur Petrelli is an easy to endure tyrant. For people like us, anyway. It's clear where his allegiances lie, and it's not in the normal folks. Part of me wonders how much the fear within the alphabet agencies is fear of change… fear of being the species that's on the way out.”

Harper drives his shovel back into the dirt, stare somewhat vacant. “I wonder if Neanderthal man plotted against Homo Sapien?” He looks up to Felix, expression difficult to read both in the low light and in its opaque quality. “Or did they just… never see it coming?”

The question is a rhetorical one, punctuated by similar conversations over the half hour and change it takes to exhume a casket from the soft Maryland soil. They had to break out flashlights long ago, work by their narrow illumination, a heap of earth mounded up on the side of the ground beside the hole.

When Felix’s shovel finally clunks on their buried treasure, there's a sense of exhilaration and fear that rolls through Harper. Together, they clear the top of the casket and work to open one side of the split top, revealing not the decaying remains of anyone, but rather a stack of old journals, file folders, and loose papers left to moulder in the dark. The smell of musty paper and age is not the stench of the grave, but it is a wholly peculiar scent all its own.

Harper shines his flashlight into the casket, illuminating the files. Many of them have the same code name stamped across them in black bloxk font:

Project Icarus

That musing seems to nettle Felix just a little. “We’re not a separate species,” he says, firmly. “No more than redheads are a separate species, or people who can do that weird curly thing with their tongue, or people who think cilantro tastes like soap. Genetics is genetics. We’re just a new set of mutations - and they don’t breed true. I’m not going to sire a whole new line of thoroughbred racing agents; if I had kids they might not have the linkage at all, or they might manifest as something totally new and different. C’mon, you’ve seen ‘The Incredibles’.” A few more shovelfuls of dirt. “And Neandertals and modern humans interbred. We’re all something like five percent Neandertal.” He shakes his head. “Petrelli….a dictator is a dictator, no matter how benevolent. America’s a democracy and it’s going to stay one, as long as I’ve got anything to say about it.”

Then they get to the stash, and his eyes widen, pupils spiralling out and dark for a moment. Like a cat sighting prey. “That’s a hell of a name to slap on any endeavor. Doomed from the start….” He looks across the grave to Harper, some of that cynicism fracturing. A moment of chill, as if at the brush of some dark wing. Then it passes, and he lowers himself carefully into the grave, to start handing up the files.

As the documentation is handed up, some of the folders are splitting at the seams, paper that smells of great age and mildew. Flashlight in his mouth, Harper takes the files and begins stacking them by the graveside, bent down on one knee. Eventually he tucks the flashlight between his chin and neck, unable to wait any longer before pawing through the documents.

“Most of this is in… German.” Harper says with a moment of surprise. As he leafs through some of the other files, there’s a hitch of his breath at the back of his throat. “Jesus Christ, this is… these are files dating back to 1945, Nazi research on… on people like us.” Separate species or not, Harper feels a fine boundary between himself and people without their shared gift. “These ones are newer,” he says of the next batch handed up “Fifties and sixties, something about a place called Coyote Sands. It— was a relocation center, for people with superhuman abilities.” Squinting, Harper continues to leaf through the files.

“Ivanov.” Harper’s voice has gone icy. “This was… this is human genetic experimentation carried out by the US government. The names in here, it’s… it’s the people who founded the Company.” There’s another pause, brief as it is. “Not the masterminds, it’s… they were the experiments. Daniel Linderman, Charles Deveaux, Angela and Alice Shaw…” the latter name rings a bell to Felix, a name he was asked to look up that came up with no leads. “The Shaws, I think this is Angela Petrelli. I don’t know who the other one is.”

Harper continues to examine the haul as folder after folder is handed up, until he lets out a sharp breath that is nearly a gasp. “Jesus Christ. This is… this is genetic experimentation carried out by the Company from the mid 1970s to the mid 80s. Human genome sequencing, an… an exploration for synthetic serums and formulas to generate superhuman potential,” he reads aloud from one document. “They experimented on unborn children, Christ, Petrelli’s name is all over these forms. He authorized nearly all of…”

Suddenly, Harper realizes what he and Ivanov have uncovered. Sixty years of human rights violations, the latter years of which were carried out by none other than Arthur Petrelli. “Ivanov,” Harper says in a near whisper. “This could ruin Petrelli.”

It’s a testament to just how perturbed Felix is that his face has gone expressionless. Owlish, almost, weirdly reminiscent of the kid in glasses his mother spirited across the Iron Curtain.
“This needs to be reproduced and disseminated now. All over everywhere. Media old and new, you name it. The curtain comes down, the lights go up, the show is fucking over. Because while it’s just a few people who know, only a few physical records, we’re erasable. They won’t hesitate, they haven’t before. They’ll kill us and everyone who knows us.”

Epstein did indeed give him a can of gas. This… this is a fifty gallon oil drum of it, with a Molotov cocktail chaser.

A humorless smile curls his lips, at that. He looks up at Harper, eyes gleaming. “I asked Epstein if he was faithful to the oath he swore when he joined the Agency. I bet you are, too.” Gauging the other man’s reaction. Because it’s entirely possible he’s wrong, and the next act is Harper shooting him and reburying this stuff, all the better to let this fragile peace hold together.

“We do that we might as well just shoot each other right now,” Harper says in a hushed tone of voice, as if the Maryland cemetery could hear him. “Arthur has power in the press, has influence across the world. If we just start lobbing this out there, he could bury it long enough to burn the evidence and bury us.” There's a look from the files to Felix. “We've got to be smarter than slash and burn, because once we start pulling at this thread the whole country could unravel at the seams.”

Breathing in deeply, Harper starts pacing around the grave’s edge. “Imagine it: an Evolved figurehead, beloved the world over for bringing peace and prosperity, revealed to be Doctor Mengele Jr.” Harper shakes his head slowly, tongue sliding across the inside of his cheek. “The only thing keeping groups like Humanis First from stringing is up is fear of a superior power. If that’s removed…” Harper shakes his head again, running one hand through his hair. “I'm not saying we do nothing,” he's eager to clarify, “but how we do anything affects everyone else.”

Which brings it all back to the encrypted drive Avi had given Felix, the denouement of this whole movement. It makes everything have a greater context. Suddenly the genetic experimentation done by the military at Pinehearst’s guidance makes sense, suddenly the influx of SLC-E soldiers and FRONTLINE makes sense. Suddenly Avi’s words about how he got his ability makes sense. Arthur Petrelli bought the world with a perfected formula, and he's the gatekeeper of who becomes superhuman.

Harper meets Felix’s eyes in the dim glow of the flashlights, shadows stark across his face. “We need to be smart, Ivanov. To protect the people we love.” They all took an oath, but what weighs more than a feather: country, or conscience?

“There’s more to this,” Felix says, slowly. “Petrelli hasn’t stopped. And he’s succeeding. He’s turning ordinary humans into powered ones. We can’t leave this forever, or even long. Because it’s entirely possible he really does believe the rhetoric of the evolved as the new, superior race.” There’s that feral, mirthless smile again. “This is apparently a family tradition, fighting guys who wanna make Ubermenschen.”

He settles back on his heels, having hitched up the knees of his suit so he can squat comfortably there, utterly unselfconscious. “We do need to reproduce this. The more copies, the safer. But… you’re right,” he concedes, slowly. “Petrelli can suppress it, unless we get it overseas. Even there’s dangerous. And if we do get it out willy nilly, it will throw things. But we can’t strongarm him into stopping or stepping down. Ideas?”

Nevermind the fresh blood that’s been spilled. Liz is dead, and while that’s officially an NYPD case, she was one of his agents. He’s still in shock, riding that numbness as long as he can, like a wounded man trying to stumble those last few yards to safety before adrenaline fades and blood loss topples him dead onto his buddies’ boots.

He can’t bring the full resources of the agency to bear. Not with Petrelli and his abilities arrayed against him. Shaking the tree too hard will have those brought down… and he’s got a husband.

And now, a son.

Bacon said, “He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune.” Fel’s got a whole slew to worry about.

It’s clear Harper doesn’t have any ideas, at least not right away. Arms crossed over his chest and brows furrowed, there’s a visibly troubled look in his eyes. He can’t help but stare into the false grave of his father, wondering just how things would have been different if he was still alive. But none of that familial navel-gazing helps Felix, or helps the country pull itself out from under the thumb of a tyrant.

“Unfortunately, we have ourselves a little paradox,” Harper admits with a slow shake of his head. “The only people who were ever able to stop Petrelli are all dead and buried now,” his former Company peers, “and the only thing we have left to do is either forge our own path, or…” Harper stares vacantly at the ground, one hand at the back of his neck.

“…or we get a miracle, and there’s someone else out there who knows how to hit Arthur where it hurts.” When Harper finally settles his stare back on Felix, he has no idea of the serendipity his sarcastic hope has afforded.

Because Felix happens to have a miracle on hand.

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