Tomorrow's Headline


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Scene Title Tomorrow's Headline
Synopsis 'Bruce the orderly' and 'Dr. Rai Chang' find themselves swept up in a typical but never routine Company operation.
Date March 22, 1979

Hartsdale, New York

The lunch room is a noisy place, though neither as noisy nor as crowded as it will be in about an hour; the main rush hasn't descended yet. That doesn't stop the people in the room from filling it with conversation, in their little groups around each table, statements occasionally punctuated by a sharp wave of silverware or the cadence of laughter. The menu is not the most interesting, given the number of people that have to be served, but it could be worse — there are decent cooks somewhere back in the kitchen.

Two people split off from the line together, a red-haired woman of Irish extraction who looks to be in her late thirties and a dark-haired man of about the same age and no particular ethnicity. From the tone of his voice, he's giving her a hard time about something; the one-sided smirk of her lips contains something of amusement, and something of a promise that he'll regret this later. He doesn't seem to mind, as she picks out an otherwise empty table for their own.

Kimiko, aka Doctor Rai Chang, enters the the cafeteria. She's never had the American highschool experience, but she's seen enough movies to have an idea of what the corporate world version must be like, and this is it. Her salad is accompanied by a glass of blue jello, and she carries her tray to a point in the room where she can consider her seating options.

'Bruce', because Hiro likes to stick with what works, gets in line next to Dr. Chang. He was an orderly in the last place they went, and he's got his persona as an orderly down pat. Head down. Quiet. Efficient. Take out the garbage. Roll carts to and fro. And be invisible. "I think you just like to have people call you Doctor." he mutters to Kimiko, having gotten his own institutional stuff and come to stand next to her. For some reason he glances at the woman and man having their little 'talk'.

Noticing that they're being noticed, the dark-haired man pauses in his speaking, regarding the watching orderly curiously. Not quite invisible here, is he? The man lifts a hand, gestures for them to come join their table. Stops halfway through.

The rest of the room stops too, all conversation ceasing as the cafeteria doors crash open, spilling a new arrival into the room.

Olive-skinned, he looks to be maybe fourteen or fifteen years old, and in a dreadful hurry. "Miss Dalton!" He skids to a halt next to Sabra's table. "Mr. Petrelli says this one's yours," the boy explains between panted breaths, passing over a slip of paper. She unfolds it and looks at the scribbled writing, brows climbing towards her hairline and then descending low.

Kimiko remarks absently, "I didn't pick it, he did." No need to indicate who he is. The arrival of the young man is regarded with interest. "He seems a bit young." she comments, watching the interaction curiously.

"Hey, I didn't get instructions. No fair." complains Hiro lightly until the apparent emergency occurs. He approaches the table as invited by Mister Dark-Hair and sets his tray down there, watching Dalton curiously. It's not impossible that they'll ask for the Japanese siblings to help with whatever it is, after all.

The dark-haired man has already risen from his seat, apparently prepared to abandon lunch. The rest of the room is watching Sabra. She gets up a moment later, fishing in her pocket for a set of keys and tossing them to her partner. He disappears back the way the kid came from.

Blue eyes flick over the room, settle on one person. "White, where is your sidearm?" Sabra chides, before looking to one of the others. "Maggie, Diana." The two women, younger, scramble out of their seats and set off. Sabra turns to follow them, double-takes as she considers the 'doctor'. Crooks two fingers. "You, too. I'm certain you won't hurt and might even be of help." Then she sets off for the front of the building, where her partner will have the truck waiting.

Bruce doesn't sit either. He just leaves his tray on the table and nods to Sabra. Lunch will wait. "What's the problem, ma'am?" he asks, hoping that this time they don't get attacked by some killer militia. He does start drifting in that direction though.

Kimiko sets her tray down as she is summoned, moving quietly to join Sabra without saying anything.

Cueing on 'Bruce's' words, Maggie and Diana slow pace so that the five of them are moving in one loose knot. "It appears we have a car crash and a possible pyro manifestation." Sabra nods to Maggie, but the significance to the gesture is definitely an insider thing.

"I don't know if you'll be needed," she continues to the doctor as they exit the building, "or if any bystanders will be involved." Heading for the truck idling at the curb, Maggie and Diana glance back towards Sabra before both hopping into the back. Sabra gestures the doctor and orderly towards the passenger door, and herself walks around to the driver's, tugging it open. "You are most certainly not driving, David," she informs her partner.

"Understood." remarks Bruce calmly, forgetting about lunch as he travels with the school of Company. He keeps his eyes forward, but also knows these people get uppity with too many questions. Questions typically are best answered when you see it for yourself anyway.

Kimiko hurries along accordingly. She's a little dumbfounded as to what she's expected to do. "Ma'am, I'm a research scientist…" she says, trying to avoid being drafted as medical personnel for things that are completely out of her league.

Sabra looks sidelong at Kimiko, blue gaze sharp. "You're Company," she counters. And that, apparently, is the end of the story — never mind the unknown detail that Kimiko isn't really.

The plume of smoke, gathering black against the sky of an otherwise pleasant spring day, is easily spotted by the crew as Sabra drives through town. It takes a little longer for the fire of its source to be seen past the forests of Ridge Road Park. A small house, whitewashed siding behind meticulously trimmed shrubbery, now a little less than neat itself; part of its front has been splintered and shredded by the car ensconced in the wall, driver — young, male, probably drunk — visibly passed out against the wheel, assuming he isn't dead.

Neighbors have started to gather around the edges of the lot, but no one has quite worked up the nerve to approach the vehicle — never mind the house, perhaps a quarter of which is wreathed in flame. Fascinated by the destruction-in-progress, and the two voices that can be heard coming from inside, they hardly notice the truck that pulls up at the opposite curb, nor the group of people that came with it.

When they arrive, Hiro doesn't at first know what to make of this. Fortunately nobody's really waiting for him to act, because he's just Bruce. "Now that I'm here, I wish I hadn't come." he mutters to Kimiko. "It's hard to watch innocent people get hurt." Especially knowing that he has the ability to stop those acts. Sitting on one's hands is something that Hiro still doesn't do well with. He stands back with the less forward-acting members of the Company group though. Probably he'll be called upon when or if this gets under control and they have to move somebody unconcious.

It takes a lot for Kimiko not to argue back to Sabra. She's used to leading a corporation, and used to making decisions, and in her eyes, grabbing anyone who just happens to be around when they're not necessarily useful isn't good strategy. But she also doesn't know what's going on, nor Sabra's plans…so perhaps she just needs to keep her trap shut and see what's going on. She nods silent agreement to Hiro as they pull up to the blaze, studying the inferno in dismay. "What has happened here?" she asks in English.

"We'll have to find out later," Sabra says absently to Kimiko. She studies the situation for a heartbeat, then waves to two of their compatriots. "Di', David, you have the inside." Her gaze flicks to 'Bruce' and 'Rai'. "You two — try and get the boy out of the car, if you please." The front door is clear of fire, if only just; the car is near enough to feel the heat but not yet in danger of its contents burning, which means it's only a little risky to approach. Gawking, timid neighbors aside.

Sabra herself crosses the street to stand at the curb before the house, the last of their group tagging along in her wake. "Let's keep this from getting out of hand, shall we?" Maggie bobs her head in agreement, turns her attention to the house; concentrates, brows drawing in, mouth set in a thin line, though no effect of her mental effort is immediately apparent.

"Yes ma'am." says Hiro curtly, glancing at Kimiko as he intentionally goes toward the car in a jog to try to get there before Kimi can. Because in his heart of hearts if something happens he'd rather it happened to him. (And maybe he could deal with it anyway with his abilities.) Thankfully the car itself does not appear to be on fire, so it shouldn't be hot to the touch or about to explode or anything, but he starts by trying to get the doors open, slapping on the driver's side window with an open palm if that doesn't work out. A concerned glance is shot toward the house in this.

Kimiko moves alongside Hiro, taking off her jacket and using it as a protection for her hands as she too tries the door. If there's no success, she tells Hiro, "We need some kind of crowbar."

The car door opens with only a little bit of work, a crowbar being unnecessary; it isn't, all told, too damaged, aside from the front end and a jigsaw-puzzle windshield. The youth inside is in fact alive, though there's an ugly-looking lump of red near his hairline where he hit his head. He probably won't be waking up any time soon.

Diana and David have disappeared inside; whatever they're doing to combat the fire or rescue the residents is impossible for outside viewers to determine.

Fire wreathes Maggie's hands as she continues to concentrate, tongues of gold and red flickering and dancing as though with life of their own; Sabra stands calmly beside her, evidently unconcerned by the pyrokinesis in action. As the Evolved agent curls her fingers in over her palms, both the flames in her hands and those consuming the house begin to dim and die — not all of them, not yet, but it's the beginning of containment.

Hiro glances at his sister as the door comes open and says, "Take his left side." He pulls the young man out of the car without spending much time making sure he's uninjured or all that. Sure Hiro knows that in such an accident the odds of a spinal or neck injury are fair to good, but there are more dangerous things than not hanging around to make sure you're triaged exactly right. Like hanging out next to a burning Pyro-whatsits. To compensate he takes the teen's right side and says in English, "Hey. Hey what's your name. Who are you? Can you talk?"

Kimiko does her best to assist Hiro, taking on the boy's left side as instructed and letting her brother ask the questions as she raises her voice. "We need a paramedic here, please." They start moving him away from the car.

There are no paramedics, not yet — but soon enough. The boy remains unconscious; it isn't long before Diana rejoins them outside, a slightly older woman in tow.

It takes longer for David to reappear, time in which Maggie gets a better hold of the rogue flames, taming them into something manageable, something that doesn't threaten to take out an entire block — or get into the trees and spread farther yet. When the agent returns, he's carrying what is probably the rescued woman's husband, seemingly unconscious.

When the firefighters and EMTs arrive, just a little late, the Company employees take their leave, ceding the mop-up to their care.

Tomorrow's headline could read Inferno Destroys New York Town. It could even have read Three Dead in House Fire.

But now it won't be either.

Previously in this storyline…

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