What Was Lost


bf_arthur_icon.gif bf_rich_icon.gif

Scene Title What Was Lost
Synopsis Arthur Petrelli checks in on the status of Project Looking Glass.
Date March 18, 2012

Pinehearst Tower

Research Lab

New York City, NY

A body in a white nylon bag, laid out on a stretcher, is wheeled out through a pair of frosted glass double doors. The hydraulic hinges hiss softly as the doors start to close, but stop when a motion sensor picks up something else entering. Hand placed between the closing doors, Arthur Petrelli turns sideways to make sure the medics removing the corpse have enough room to maneuver.

Sliding through the doorway, straightening his tie as he does, Arthur surveys the spacious lab. Computer equipment on wheeled carts spiil tangles of wires out onto the floor, braided together with plastic straps into enormous snakes of plastic and rubber. The tile floor is streaked with black scorch marks, an acrid smell of melting plastic still clinging to the air. Several men and women in labcoats stand in a circle, quietly talking to one-another with a shocked look on their faces. Behind them, a set of stairs lead up to a massive triangular machine made from titanium beams, hexagonal-shaped ceramic plates, hundreds of feet of aluminum piping, and the coils of a powerful electromagnet, all forming a triangular doorway.

The scientists regard Arthur's arrival with a mixture of fear and apprehension, breaking up their conversational circle as he approaches. "Please," Arthur calls after them, "you all shouldn't still be here." The notion elicits a look of confusion from the researchers. "You've all just experienced a traumatic event, you need to take the rest of the week off… minimum." Arthur slows his approach, looking with practiced concern at each researcher.

"But, Doctor Schwenkman said— " One tries to protest, but Arthur raises a hand to demand his silence.

"I insist," Arthur directs, and nods toward the double doors. "Go home, take care of yourselves, and come back refreshed." Eager to put distance between themselves and the lab, the researchers offer emotional appreciation to Arthur, thanking him one by one as they depart the lab together. Arthur watches them go, smiling at their backs, until the last of them have departed and that smile can slide from his face like dirt off of a freshly washed car.

"Arthur?" A belated voice comes from a doorway on the opposite end of the lab. Stepping over spooled cables, Rich Schwenkman hustles to where he sees Pinehearst's CEO standing in silhouette of the triangular aparatus. "Arthur, I didn't think you'd be— the morgue team just— " It's now that Schwenkman realizes they're alone in the lab.

"I sent your team home," Arthur explains without prompting, tucking his hands into the pockets of his slacks. "Rich, this is the second fatality in as many months. I'm starting to think you can deliver on what you promised." His head tilts to the side, regarding the graying scientist. "Rich, I need you to assuage my concerns."

"This was…" Rich motions back to the triangular device. "The— the Looking Glass is a complex machine, the Company couldn't even build one, because — "

Arthur cuts him off. "Because they didn't have you. That's how you sold this to me." Slowly, Arthur takes one step closer to Rich. "Now, you told me you were the senior researcher on Looking Glass, and I took that to mean lead, but I'm starting to think you just meant oldest." There's an uncomfortable tone in Arthur's voice, one demanding satisfaction.

"Arthur— " Rich starts to say.

"The next words out of your mouth had best be good," Arthur warns Rich with a slow raise of one brow. "Or so help me God, you'll wind up a smoldering stain on the floor like that young man they just wheeled out of here."

"We lost a lot," is what Rich decides to go with. "When— when Michelle LeRoux died, we lost a lot. She— she was a brilliant mind, and I… it— this entire project was…" he starts to turn and motion to the Looking Glass again, but he freezes in place with unnatural rigidity. A low hum builds in the air, and Rich lifts an inch off of his feet and pivots toward Arthur, then glides across the floor to close the distance between them.

"Ok," Arthur says in conversational tone, as if this isn't happening the way it is, sliding his tongue over his teeth like he were cleaning a bad taste from his mouth. "So what you're saying is that you can't do what you promised? Is that what I'm hearing?" Schwenkman, paralyzed, says nothing. Arthur smiles, looks to the ground, then releases Schwenkman to collapse to his knees and then onto his backside on the floor, gasping for air.

"You promised me you could make up for the loss of Michelle's research," Arthur reminds the man at his feet, stepping just a little closer to loom over him. "I don't like folks who break promises."

"Edward helped," Rich finally gasps out. "If I could— if he could help then— "

Arthur shakes his head, interrupting again. "Absolutely out of the question. Ray would sabotage this whole affair and we'd be lucky if we all died and weren't wind up sucked into some sort of purgatory. Michelle's research isn't an option either, not with Agent Abraham's suicide last year. Which leaves us…" Arthur motions to the machine at the top of the steps on the dais, "with your promise!"

Rich is flung backwards, crashing into one of the wheeled carts holding computer hardware. "I'm not hearing any alternatives, Doctor!" Rich covers the back of his head with his hands, slowly scrambling to his knees. As he watches Arthur approaching, the panic in his eyes is evident. Arthur raises one hand, lifting Rich off of his feet again and hauling him forward.

"Maybe," Arthur hisses, "I should just break you in half and call it a day?" Held by the telekinesis, Rich's arms have just enough mobility to wobble impotently at his side. Bu tthere's no vise around his throat this time, Arthur wants him to talk.

"T— there's a research group," Schwenkman spits out, "Columbia University! D-Doctor Greenwald has a team that's— they might know someone who— " Schwenkman looks left and right, sweat running down his brow and into his eyes. "Arthur please I just need more time!"

With a spread of his fingers, Arthur releases Rich to drop to the floor again, this time from a higher height and with a more audible yelp of pain. Once more sliding his tongue over his teeth, Arthur regards Rich's prone form through halfway-lidded eyes. "Figure it out," Arthur urges, "I don't care if we have to dig up Michelle LeRoux's bones and put them in a lab coat. I want this working before our entire fucking world is endangered."

To that, Rich lets out a small gasp, reaching inside of his jacket pocket to produce a round device that resembles a pocket watch. "I— I might h-have something for you there…" Rich says with a hushed exhalation of breath in a shudder. The device is snatched from his palm with a telekinetic tug, opened to reveal multiple compass needles arranged like the legs of a spider from a central point, each shorter than the next, in concentric rings. Digital displays show orientation to magnetic north and other numbers.

"It's— it's like the old compasses from the Sullivan Brothers carnival. The one the Company broke up?" Arthur looks over to Rich at the explanation, he's familiar. "Theirs was based on some work done in the 1940s during Icarus. I— the device doesn't detect Evolved, though. It— it can detect things from another world at a small distance."

Arthur looks at Rich, then back to the device as he turns it around in his hand. "We calibrated it using the fragments of the MBTA bus that appeared in Cambridge. We— we discovered that the bus' molecules resonated at a different frequency than material from our own world. It's a quantum vibration, a signature that we can try to look for."

Brows furrowed in thought, Arthur's demeanor begins to shift subtly. Gone is his tempestuous anger, replaced by a more confident reassurance that his plans are going apace. Motioning with the compass to Rich, Arthur has but one question of its design.

"How soon can you get it in a satellite?"

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