The New Recruit


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Scene Title The New Recruit
Synopsis In the aftermath of the attack on Fort Hero, Veronica Sawyer reveals that she passed the Institute's "test," and starts to realize just how deep this rabbit hole goes…
Date August 31, 2010

Fort Hero

«Slagged, the whole damn thing.»

Striding thorugh a demolished concrete wall, the black armored figure 00-01 reports his findings over his comms. Broken concrete clunks and clatters underfoot while charred pieces of paper crunch with each step. Smoke issues out of the large vault that Desmond Harper exits, and all around him, Homeland Security Counter-Terrorism operatives are sweeping room by room, checking out the facility for surviving members of the Company.

"Sir, you should get up to medical and get that wound checked out," offers one of the agents on approach, looking at the bloody split in Harper shoulder, bleeding less profusely than would be expected from a muscular-construction of the internal padding of the armor, putting pressure around the wound by constricting synthetic fibers.

«I'll be fine,» is easy to say when Harper is able to project his sense of touch — and therefore pain and pleasure — outside of his body, to feel somewhere else rather than where he is now, removing the sensation of deep-tissue pain. It won't be long now, though, before Harper is forced to reel in his senses and face the reality of his greivous injury.

The demolished chamber at Harper's back was once the Company archives, now nothing more than a smoking hole inside of the building. One of the explosions felt and heard during the attack, undoubtedly, was the destruction of all of the COmpany's records that Sabra Dalton was not able to secret out of Fort Hero on her own.

When Harper sends away the Counter-Terrorism agents deeper into the building with a dismissive wave of his hand, he comes to settle down on a broken piece of concrete, unclasping the back of his helmet with ihs good hand and sliding the headwear off, revealing sweat-slicked hair and an exhausted looking countenance. The battle hasn't been easy on him, nor does it look like he's been sleeping a great deal lately.

Distracted as he is, Desmond Harper is unaware of the stalking viper in his midsts. Veronica Sawyer may be a California girl, but she's more intelligent and cunning than most people give her credit for.

But the smart choices aren't always the easiest to make.

The woman who steps silently out of the shadows and debris wears no armor, but while relatively unscathed, her wounds go much deeper than Harper's. Her hands still hold the M-16 that she took from one of the men Grant killed — should Harper renege on their deal, unofficial as it was, Veronica ensures that she stands a chance of shooting him in the now-unprotected head before he can draw his weapon — with his troops in distant parts of the building, she might be able to get away in time.

Uncertainty is becoming too be the only certainty in her life.

She swallows, somehow the sound more audible than her approach. Pain and fear mar her delicate features, and less obviously self-loathing as she turns traitor to all the people who died, all the people who looked up to her, and everything she's come to believe.

"Funny, I thought that I would have gotten a memo regarding a job transfer or something a little more polite and bureaucratic," she says in her husky voice, struggling to keep it neutral or even light-hearted. He has to believe she still wants to go with him… even after he and his men killed the people she's worked alongside for the past year.

Wariness suddenly jolts into Harper as he hears Veronica's voice. Blue eyes widen and his back straightens, hydraulics whine and he slowly rises to stand his full height from the makeshift seat he'd taken. Blue eyes flick down to Veronica's gun, then back up to the brunette's eyes. "Compartmentalization. Only a handful of people knew. You know, trustworthy types." There's a narrowing of Harper's eyes, a look down to the gun again and then back up.

"Is this a social call or are you going to start shooting?" It's a fair enough question, though one that Desmond Harper manages to deliver with all the tongue-in-cheek tone that is so inappropriate given their surroundings. "I was wondering why you didn't evacuate with Ryans and his gang," and in that sentence Harper implies knowledge that Ryans escaped. "I was worried something might have happened to you."

Not real, honest worry. But professional worry, at least.

"Trustworthy types," Veronica says, and gives a shake of her head. "I'm not shooting if you're not shooting, but I admit I wasn't sure if your intentions toward me would be noble. A girl's gotta look out for herself, right?"

She glances at his suit, looking for his weapon, assessing his ability to move fast enough in that armor to surprise her and outdraw her. Apparently deciding she has him in a speed race, she lowers the weapon — not completely, but enough that it points at the ground in front of him, out of politeness.

"I didn't evacuate because I figured you and I had a deal, and that I wouldn't be under arrest if I stayed," she says more seriously. Her brown eyes watch his blue ones, trying to read them while keeping her secrets to herself.

"Was I wrong?"

Cautiously lifting two fingers up to the bluetooth headset plugged into his ear, Harper lifts one brow slowly as the light comes on. Hesitating just a moment, he then speaks into the headset. "Confirmation. Basement Level 2, Agent Sawyer is alive and with us. Make sure DHS knows she's with us." There's a double-tap of his fingers on the button to turn it off, and as Harper's hand lowers, one eyebrow raises.

"I'm sorry you had to go thorugh this, Sawyer, but we had to be absolutely certain where your allegiances laid. There's a lot going on right now, and you still need to be cleared by human resources… but you're on your way. I'd recommend, for the time being, that you lay low for a while and stay out of the public eye." Harper's head tilts to the side slowly, looking down to the bleeding cut on his shoulder, then back up to Veronica. "We'll set aside a room for you at the Suresh Center, up on the staff-only level. Don't go back to your apartment, not until we can clear your situation up with the feds, otherwise you'll be in a world of trouble."

Looking down to his helmet, Harper's brows furrow. "I don't imagine you know if there was a backup to the archives kept anywhere? Or where Dalton went? We managed to get Bishop, but no one has been able to find Sabra or her aide."

Where her allegiance lies — it's a rhetorical question akin to 'if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?' Veronica's loyalty, a fierce thing if won, is not to the Company and not even to herself, but to some principle that she can't even define anymore. To justice and the protection of the innocent. Her tired eyes stare flatly at his face as he apologizes for the hell she just went through as some sort of test.

The devil she knows is dead. She now serves another master, one that can't earn her loyalty like the Company once had.

After too long a moment, Veronica shakes her head. "I'm not high enough clearance to be in the know for anything like that. And they didn't trust me all that much. You know that," she says with a slight smile, before nodding to his shoulder. "We should get you looked at. The med crew, are they still … did they flee, or were they taken under arrest?" The room full of lab workers who looked at her for help — she only hopes they either escaped or were allowed to live. "One of them could stitch you up."

"We have our own medical team," Harper states a bit defensively, "you know him, actually." There's a look up to Veronica as Harper finally pulls his eyes away from his own injury. "Darren Stevens? You'll be seeing a few more familiar faces once things settle down…" Limping, Harper offers a wince and looks to his arm again, feeling his sense of touch starting to come back, pain starting to come back.

"What's… going to happen from here on out," Harper explains with a wince, "is that you're going to lay low for a few days, probably through the weekend until we can clear your name. Your bank assets have already been frozen, your apartment's been searched. What we're going to do us clean up that mess and get you legal again. Bu tuntil we do, don't go anywhere that isn't directly Institute controlled, or where there's a lot of nosy federal agents. Stick to Roosevelt Island if you can…"

Looking down one of the dark corridors, Harper grows thoughtfully silent for a moment, then looks back to Veronica. "After that, we'll start getting you settled in, and you can have an interview with our people in HR to see where you'll be functioning…"

A poker face is one asset most Company agents need to survive, and Veronica manages to keep hers with a bit of a struggle when her apartment is mentioned. She gives a stoic, stony-faced nod, her jaw setting a bit at the mention of her frozen assets and the need to lay low, the fact that she is a criminal to the public, even if one that the government is harboring.

"Got it. Suresh Center. Stick to Roosevelt. Lay low," she repeats, her husky voice weary; she's had too little sleep in the past couple of nights, and the sleep deprivation on top of the shock of the morning's events and the burdens of grief and guilt and worry is taking its toll. She lowers her weapon the rest of the way. "Thank you," she adds. It's the right thing to say — but it's the furthest thing in the world from the truth.

Blue eyes stay settled on Veronica for a few moments before Harper dips his head down in a slow nod. "You know, for all that the Company and the Institute didn't see things eye to eye, some of the people were right when they said that you were a good agent. It's unfortunate that the rest of the good agents they had were also loyal." One of Harper's brows raise as he turns away from Veronica, pausing in indication that he expects her to walk with him. "You're talented and you have a good head on your shoulders. Provided neither of those two things change, I think you're going to be able to make a very strong case for agent status."

Starting to walk, Harper's pace is slow, it's clear that even with his suit helping pressure his wound and his minimized pain, he's starting to get light-headed from blood loss. "The, ah…" his eyes fall shut for a moment as he wipes a gloved hand across his forehead. "There was one thing I meant to ask you." Harper turns to look over his shoulder at Veronica, brows furrowed in silent consideration of the question.

"Exactly how close are you to Richard Cardinal?"


"Don't put a bullet in my head or a knife in my back, Harpy, and that shouldn't change," Veronica mutters, making it sound like a quip though it's probably much closer to her fears than he knows. She follows when he begins to walk, her own body sore from falling into dumpsters the day before.

She sighs, reaching a hand out to steady him on his good arm, not that her 5'5" and 120 pounds will do much if he should happen to pass out in that pile of armor. The question of her relationship to Cardinal gives her pause, and she tips her head to study his face, wondering how much she knows.

Damn the isotope.

"I wouldn't say we're close. We had each other's back in Argentina and Antarctica, we grab a beer now and then." She stays close to the truth, just not the whole truth. After a beat, she adds, "He's kinda hot, but we never quite cross that line. The chase is more fun than the conquest, right?" and smirks a bit, hoping that might throw him off any conspiracy theories he might be considering — that and the fact she's interested in a man might throw him off track, given his prior assessment of her orientaiton.

Harper's brows furrow, blue eyes consider Veronica for a moment, then he looks down to the hand on his aromred sleeve. "Alright," is offered quietly, his attention wandering back to his shoulder as he exhales a sigh and leans away from the wall he'd braced himself against, heading towards the stairwell that leads down to the subway mezzanine. Each stair is taken one at a time, and Harper's focus drifts from Veronica to the steps and back again as he walks and talks.

"I might need you to serve as a go-between with him in the future. Depending on what goes on with your background check and appointment to the Institute, we'll discuss it more then. But for now I wouldn't worry about it too much, I'm sure Simon will tell you all about it when you finally get to meet him. He's talked a lot about you. He's going to be thrilled to know you're okay."

The more Harper talks the more the situation itself seems unsettling in the direction it is headed in. Arriving on the Mezzanine, the noise of other voices and movement echoes in the vaulted chamber. Two train cars not belonging to the COmpany have been loaded into the chamber, with Institute retrievers and white plastic coffins all laid out one next to the other, some closed with green lights shining on the sides, others open and awaiting containment.

Of course that's what he needs her to do. Veronica's brow wrinkles and she just gives a nod. "I'll make myself useful however I can," she says quietly, before her head tilts at the name Simon, someone who's… talked about her? "Simon, Sir?" she says, giving a shake of her head to indicate she has no idea who he's speaking of.

When they come into the mezzanine, the poker face slides from her face for a moment, and her face contorts with pain at the sight of those coffins. Her colleagues are in there. She could have been in there. There's a small, stifled sound as she looks away, her nails digging into her palms as she wills herself to bite back the remorse and panic that's flooding through her.

Luckily, even if she were completely willing and earnest in her throwing in with the Institute, the emotions after the morning of terror and bloodshed would still be legitimate and forgivable — Veronica can hope anyway.

"Broome," isn't the answer Veronica wanted to hear, it's like finding out that Sylar has been asking about her, or something equally unpalateable. "Simon Broome, he's the de-facto leader of the Institute currently." As he talks, Harper follows the curve of the mezzanine towards the escalators, using their deactivated form like stairs, taking them just as slow as he did the last ones.

"You were on a list, actually. You and several others from the Company and other groups and non-affiliated individuals. Broome had put together a list of people that he wanted me to collect for him, people that were necessary for…" Harper pauses on the stairs, his head bowing subtly, "Necessary for the future." Then he starts walking again.

By the time he's reached the ground floor of the rail platform, the Retreivers are moving the coffins onto the closest train, stacking them atop one another and checking the LCD computer screens on the side for vital information. "Simon was worried that you'd be hurt or killed in this extraction, and he also wasn't sure when the best time to approach you would be. But," Harper is approached as he talks by a few white labcoat-wearing men, one among them on approaching is a familiar face from Company meetings, unfortunately on the investigated side of things.

"Desmond, Jesus, what happened t'you?" Brooklyn accent thick as ever, Darren Stevens looks up and past Harper to Veronica, his head tilting to the side in an expression of unfamiliarity before Harper waves a dismissive hand. "Stevens, this is Sawyer. Sawyer, Doctor Stevens. He's our chief of field medicine." Limping over to an ammo crate laying on the platform floor, Harper finally takes a seat again while Darren gets a closer look at the wound.

"It's a pleasure t'meet you Sawyer, I heard we might be bringing you in." While Darren is inspecting Harper's shoulder, there's something that catches Veronica's eye. Laying on a gurney near one of the coffins is the motionless body of Elle Bishop, her skin the pallid color of a corpse and two puncture marks on her throat dried with blood. She's barefoot and battered looking, all the qualities of a corpse.

There's a hard swallow, and Veronica nods. She volunteered for this, she reminds herself, yet it seems that if she hadn't, she would have been brought in, anyway.

That Broome thinks that she has the attributes or qualifications necessary to do the Institute's bidding doesn't help the swelling sensation of self loathing that Veronica Sawyer feels at the moment. She nods to Stevens, though she can't quite say it's a pleasure to meet him — not knowing what his power can actually do. When her eyes fall on Bishop, a small gasp breaks Veronica's silence. "Is she —" she asks, giving a nod to Elle, scowling as she stares at what might be a corpse.

"Dead," Harper fills in the void for Veronica, though the comment makes Darren look up with an expectant expression, as if to say oh come on without as many words. Harper's eyes close and his head tilts to the side slowly. "Buckley killed her in an altercation in the lobby, Darren has a unique gift to rewind personal time on people, he's going to put miss Bishop back together again once we can move her body to the Suresh Center."

Wincing when Darren pinches the flesh of Harper's split shoulder together, the Institute agent frowns and makes a hissing sound. "Do you have to be so rough?" Darren's green eyes alight to Harper, one brow raised as his gloved hands move away from the cut, then begin to fish around in the pockets of his buttoned down labcoat.

"I can't sew you up here, I'm going to pack the wound so you don't bleed anymore, then we'll get you fixed up at the Suresh Center." Glancing akance to Veronica, Darren considers her for a long while, then looks to Elle's body. "Were you two close? I mean, as colleagues?" Green eyes drift back to the brunette, as if the question were somehow important.

"Not close," Veronica says, again honestly, though she stares at the body with a glazed expression that might worry anyone with psychiatric training; anyone who knows Veronica knows she's been this close to cracking more times than should be possible, and yet she somehow manages to carry on. The alternative is unacceptable.

Her weary eyes flit to Darren's, wondering how much of the Institute Kool-Aid he's drunk since his case last passed through the Company's hands. "It's just sort of sad that she never really had the chance to make her own decisions, and now she's died because someone else has made them for her her whole life," she murmurs. Again — it's the truth, and it only makes her sound bitter at the Company.

"Well, thankfully," Darren notes with a cocksure confidence, "I don't much care for people making that choice for others. She'll be back to inappropriately electrocuting things and stealing mister Harper's shirts in no time." There is a certain level of Detachment that Darren has to be able to make jokes the way he does in the environment that this is, and perhaps that level of detachment is why he excels at the position he's been given, in the company that he keeps.

"You can get on the train, Sawyer," Harper offers with a nod of his head to the subway train, "we'll be taking it directly to Roosevelt Island, there's a line that goes right under the Suresh Center." Which is convenient, if not suspicious. "You can get some rest, just keep a low profile for a few days, at least until we clear everything up, okay?"

"Stealing Harper's shirts?" Veronica says, a brow arching. The fact Elle is being brought back to life, the fact Bryan Buckley killed her, worries her. Did Elle turn traitor for real, while Veronica is pretending? She forces an amused smile to grace her weary face. If she's 'one of them,' well, she has to start acting like it.

In a parallel universe, Veronica Sawyer is likely an Academy-Award-winning actress.

She gives a nod to both men, then back at Elle, a little worried. Goodman spoke of being on borrowed time — she isn't sure how his power works, but it's a power she's frightened of. "Thanks again," Veronica tells Harper and moves toward the train, wondering if she's the only one making this commute. Her eyes sweep the third of her Company "homes" as she climbs into the car and sinks into one of the seats.

As Veronica disappears into the train car, Harper exhales a sigh and looks down to the concrete floor between his feet, white clad Retrievers wheeling coffins behind her. "So, she's the new recruit?" Darren asks in a hushed tone of voice, looking askance to the train Veronica had gotten on, head bobbing in an appreciative nod. "She's cute," he notes with a crooked smile, only to get a bit of a dagger-eye-glare from Harper.

"Just do your goddamned job."

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