Whatever The Case May Be


goodman_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Scene Title Whatever The Case May Be
Synopsis Veronica reports to Roger Goodman to get her assignment and discovers she's going to be involved in far more than she bargained for.
Date February 20, 2009

Primatech Research: Level-3, Roger Goodman's Office

Transfer to New York.

Being able to see with her own two eyes, Midtown's Scar.

Life as Laguna Niguel — life as Veronica Sawyer — has been one of constant change and adaptation, both to unfamiliar environments and unfamiliar scenarios. Predicting the state that the world would find itself in isn't something she could have ever imagined. It is these moments of unpredictability that drive her life forward, giving a sense of both freshness and danger to the life she's chosen.

Being here, and being called in to report to the Assistant-Director of Primatech New York is one of those unexpected moments.

Few Company agents directly deal with Roger Goodman, a man who has little reputation around the New York facility. A transplant from the Chicago Primatech branch, Goodman is only known as a pragmatic and efficient administrative head around these offices, someone of little words and machine-like efficiency. When the memorandum to meet at his office on Level-3 was given out, with the heading of full assignment and partner assigning, it left Veronica Sawyer realizing that one of those unpredictable life moments was on the horizon.

And that horizon, is the brown wooden door at the end of Staff Hall-C, marked with the brass plague that reads, "Senior Agent Goodman, Assistant Director."

Veronica takes a deep breath. Meeting new people has never been difficult for her — she is, after all, been raised to be charming and gracious in all circumstances. But meeting a new boss is always somewhat nerve wracking — especially in a new city with nothing familiar surrounding her. She lifts one perfectly manicured hand, forming a fist, and knocks on the door with a confident rap, waiting for the summons to enter, to face whatever awaits her on the other side. Her new life.

"Come in." Is the smooth response from inside, welcoming the transplant agent into that uncertain future. What lies on the other side is an immaculately kept office, and one that — despite being three stories below ground — emulates an above-ground office well. A picture window on the far wall serves as a facade that shows a matte painting of New York's skyline during mid-day, framed with halogen lights to give an almost flawless illusion of the city skyline from high in an office building. It's the slatted Venetian blinds, partly left open, that help hide the obvious imperfections and lack of depth.

Seated at a glass-topped desk in the middle of the room, Roger Goodman isn't quite the man Veronica is expecting. Head shaved with somewhat severe and tightly drawn features, the dark-skinned man seems for all his worth to have an almost fatherly aura about him, accompanied by a warm smile and a motion of one hand towards a pair of unoccupied chairs across the desk.

"Please, take a seat Miss Sawyer." His hands come to fold on top of a red folder on his desk, marked with the words Confidential.

Veronica steps into the office, reaching behind her to pull the door shut once more. She smiles at the man and gives a nod, her eyes flicking to the faux-window curiously. "Thank you, Mr. Goodman," she says, and she approaches the chair on the opposite end of the glass table. She sits, folding herself neatly upon the chair, the briefcase she carries placed on her lap, hands folding upon it. Her dark eyes take in the red folder, then the gaze moves back to take in Goodman's thin face once more. "You have a lovely view," she says, lips curving into a slight smile that reveals the dimples in either cheek.

There's an honest laugh at mention of the view, and Roger tilts his head down with a crooked smile, "I never could get used to these underground bunkers we work in." Shifting to lean back against his chair, the creak of supple leather accompanies his movements, "Too much concrete and steel, fluorescent lights, it makes working difficult." Sparing only those moments for the lighthearted conversational lubrication, Roger pushes the red folder across the desk with one hand towards Veronica.

"I'm glad you were able to come down on such short notice. I've hand-picked you out of a stable of very qualified agents, Miss Sawyer, because I have a particularly important assignment that needs your immediate attention, and you are one of the few unpartnered agents available to me that I can trust with both the level of seriousness this task will require, and the partner you are going to be assigned while working on it."

Veronica doesn't look too surprised at the compliments given, though she does look pleased. "I appreciate that. The chance to come here, where the work is so very vital, is an opportunity that I'm looking forward to, sir," she says earnestly, as her hands move forward to pick up the folder. "The partner is an issue?" she asks, an eyebrow raising a bit, as she opens the folder, still watching Goodman rather than looking at the contents of the file quite yet. "You can trust me, of course. I put the Company first, every time, or I would not be here in New York, of course." Perhaps she's laying it on thick — or perhaps she really is that eager to please and that invested in her job.

"The partner is an issue." Goodman echoes, leaning back into his chair more fully, hands folding over his chest, elbows resting on the arms of his chair. "The man we're going to be pairing you with, Agent Brian Winters," he motions to the folder with both hands, "is part of a controlled experiment on Primatech's behalf. He has a unique Evolved ability that allows him to replicate himself to a — potentially — unlimited number of clones of himself."

Brows raising as if to emphasize the use of that ability, Goodman gives just a moment of pause in his explanation. "However, Mister Winters was not always employed by us. He was born as part of a classified genetic experiment to endow non-evolved individuals with Evolved powers. We lost track of him after the bomb, when he left the care of the foster family we placed him in, and has recently resurfaced. However, as you'll be able to find in his dossier, he has been consorting with Pro-Evolved terrorist organizations for roughly the last year."

Leaning forward, Roger lays his folded hands carefully down on the glass desktop. "We were able to apprehend one of Brian's duplicates, and erase selective portions of his memory that would allow him to have sympathetic feelings towards the organization he worked for. As such, he has been made aware of the truth surrounding his birth, and has been led to believe — with just a slight twisting of the truth — that his comrades in Phoenix abandoned him for dead." There's a ghost of a smile on Roger's lips, "Your role, Miss Sawyer, will be double-fold. Both serving as Agent Winters' partner, but also as his handler. I want you to report any suspicious behaviors back to us, and if it would seem like he has gone off the reservation, handle the matter with the utmost efficiency."

Those elegantly arching brows arch a bit more at the interesting background of her partner to be. "I see," she says. "So this is a duplicate of the original Brian Winters… but not the original himself?" She pauses, and adds, "And the duplicate himself is also capable of making duplicates?" Veronica shakes her head of dark waves a little at the awkward question that comes out of her mouth. "And… are you saying I have the discretion to 'handle the matter' in what way I see fit, if the situation merits it?"

"You might find this difficult to understand, but there isn't truly an original Winters at all any longer. All of his duplicates have a unique mental signature, allowing him to telepathically network with them over vast distances, the full extent of which remains untested. Currently Agent Winters is disconnected from this mental network by ability inhibiting drugs he is taking, but we will be taking him off of this medication for training in use of his ability." Goodman pauses a moment, noticing a speck on the glass topped desk, giving it a buff out with the cuff of his sleeve before returning attention back to Veronica.

"Mister Winters will then be aware of the existence of his other duplicate selves, and they of him. What my concern is, is that they will attempt to sway him back to their cause. We have no idea how many copies of himself Mister Winters has at present. But all of the duplicates he makes of the mentally conditioned clone we have access to will, presumably, all share the same mental sentiments of their originator."

A smile creeps up on Roger's lips, "As I said, a controlled test. I want you to be with Agent Winters as much as you possibly can, observing his mental state. If he seems, at all, like he is trying to act in collusion with the terrorists… yes, you have free reign to handle the situation as you see fit." Reaching down to an open drawer in his desk, Roger produces a manilla folder and lays it out on the tabletop. "In order to ensure that you and Mister Winters have the proper social connection that will allow you opportunity to assess his mental condition, I have arranged for the two of you to begin living together. An apartment at the Dorchester Towers in the Upper West Side has been purchased outright. You can handle the living arrangements in whatever means you feel fit to keep Agent Winters close and trusting of you." Roger slides the folder over, and then leans back in his chair.

Her brows furrow a bit as she listens to Goodman speak, and she nods. "Very interesting," she says slowly. Her eyes widen slightly as she's told she will be living with the partner — clearly a first for her, and no doubt Goodman knows her background, how she came into working with the Company, that her entire choice to work for the agency is due to the fact an Evolved killed her father.

"Living with him," she repeats, but then the pleasant, eager-to-please mask is back on her face. "So socially we're to be with one another as much as possible," she reiterates. "And what of our 'day jobs,' what story shall we feed our neighbors and the like?" She gestures to the office. "Back home, my job was security head at Primatech, but… that was because people in the area expected me to have a job in the field of law enforcement. Here, no one knows me… Do I have a cover story there, or is it up to me?"

"Already prepared." Goodman motions to the manila folder, "Both you and Winters are registered employees of Biomere Research Incorporated, yourself in a security position in the building, and Agent Winters as a clerk on the sixteenth floor. Of course neither of you need to show up to work." Glancing down to the phone on his desk, as if waiting for it to ring, Roger turns his attention back to Veronica after a moment.

"Biomere is a shell corporation owned by the Company, though only myself and a handful of its employees are aware of this. Your security cards to the building are legitimate, as is your employment in the case of checks needed. And, as usual, you and Agent Winters have been afforded low-level security clearance with the Department of Homeland Security. This should exclude you from needing to answer to local law enforcement officials."

Veronica nods, glancing at the phone when he does, then back. "I see," she says, taking the manila folder and leafing through the documents within, before glancing back up at Goodman. "And the assignment, other than keeping eye on the dupli- er, Agent Winters?" she asks, correcting herself — clearly, she already has distanced herself from him as a human being, thinking of him as a mere object, a golem of sorts. Probably best if she's supposed to dispose of him at a moment's notice.

"You'll be pleased to know that your first assignment begins immediately." Goodman reaches down into a drawer in his desk, retrieving another red folder, laying it out atop the smooth glass surface. "Consider this assignment a trial by fire for Agent Winters, and I mean that in the most biblical sense of the word." Using his thumb, Goodman flips the document folio open, and casts his eyes down towards a photograph of a man in his mid twenties with short, brown hair and a crooked smirk.

"His name is Tyler Case," The picture is paged aside, "We first became aware of his existence in 2006, based on information provided by a list of presumed Evolved created by Doctor Mohinder Suresh." Roger's dark eyes scan the inverted document for a moment, paging it to a diagram of a human body with concentric bands of red expanding out from his head, along with CAT scan results and brain activity imagery.

"We tagged Mister Case with a tracking isotope, and followed his activities up until the destruction of Midtown. As you may know, that disruption caused untold chaos within our organizational structures, and agents that had been observing Case were…" Goodman's lips purse together, "Regrettably lost in the explosion. Mister Case fell through the cracks as this branch of the Company pursued more pressing issues under Director Bishop's oversight."

Slowly moving to the next page of the folio, there is a satellite map of the island of Manhattan and several red circles and boxes drawn around regions of the city. "However, as with all changes of administration, we have finally recovered our footing and I feel it is safe to say that following up on Mister Case is of the utmost importance." That photograph is slid out, placed at the edge of the table.

"Mister Case's ability is a unique one, and when we first encountered him he was unaware of its capabilities." Goodman looks up to Veronica intently, "You'll find his basic ability parameters as far as we knew them in the folder…" The next photograph Goodman takes out of the file folder is a photograph of blackened and charred corpse burned down to the bone. It is impossible to even discern the gender in the image.

"Case's ability to more dangerous and uncharted waters that what we were previously aware of." He taps his fingers on the photograph, "This image was taken here at Primatech during his incarceration. That is an Un-Evolved technician who was overseeing tests on Tyler, when she became completely engulfed in flames, burning herself to the bone from the inside out. The guard in the room at the time," Goodman closes the folder with a slap of paper on glass, "was a pyrokinetic who claims that his ability was taken from him shortly before the technician proceeded to immolate herself."

Giving just a moment for that to take effect, Goodman leans back into his chair and breathes a slow sigh out through his nose, elbows coming to rest on the arms of his chair, fingers steeple together. "Your assignment is to track down Tyler Case and bring him back alive." Dark eyes settle on the desktop, "Intelligence I have been given from contacts at the Department of Homeland Security place him in Chinatown less than twenty-four hours ago."

Shifting the position of his shoulders, Goodman looks back up to Veronica, "Whatever resources you require are at your disposal while on assignment, if you require assistance you may inquire with Mister Thompson."

She leans forward to look at the pages as Goodman flips through them and indicates the charts and photographs. Her eyes narrow a little and she pales a touch at the sight of the blackened corpse, but she otherwise holds her ground steadily enough. She swallows once, then shakes her head, a moment. "I'll assume the details are in the file," she says, frowning a little at the information given so far.

Taking the file and adding it to the other two already on her lap, she glances back up at Roger. "I suppose I have lots of reading to do, if this begins immediately. When should I plan on … moving in with Winters? I'd like to read his file and familiarize myself with his issues before becoming the happy couple." There's another smirk that reveals the dimples in either cheek — apparently she's recovered from the grisly photograph.

"Winters has some final training to do, I would hazard a guess that by Friday the two of you should be moved in and working this assignment." Goodman finds some measure of amusement in her description of them being the happy couple, "It's your responsibility to catch him up on the particulars of the case, and help him familiarize himself with the target's file. I have reason to believe that you may be crossing paths with NYPD-SCOUT on this matter, and I would appreciate it if this was able to be taken care of as discreetly and quickly as possible, once you and Agent Winters are able to begin."

Rubbing his hands together, Goodman's eyes settle on his desk again, searching his thoughts for anything more relevent to add, "I will, of course, be expecting weekly status reports about your assignments." His dark eyes drift up to Veronica one last time, a smile managing to creep across his lips. "Any further questions?"

Veronica nods in understanding, then shakes her head. "No, no questions. Perhaps after reading the files. Thank you so much for your time, and the opportunity to work here in New York, Sir," she says, standing up and sliding the files into her briefcase, then closing it with a quick click. She reaches across the glass desk to offer her hand. "It was a pleasure to meet you. And of course, I'll file reports every week."

Nodding his head slowly, Roger's lips curls into a pleased smile, "I have a feeling you'll fit right in here, Miss Sawyer. I hope — " Cut off by the sound of that phone ringing on his desk, Roger strains out a sign and reaches for the receiver, looking up at Veronica with a mild expression, "You can show yourself out."

As he picks up the phone, tucking the receiver under his chin, the answer is as cold and mechanical as he can give, "Goodman." Then, after a pause, his eyes widen and voice drops into a hushed sound. "Gitelman, you're sure?" His eyes divert up to his office door as it closes, then back to the phone, "Tell me everything, Carmichael…" From one task to another, from one unexpected moment in life to the next. That's just how it is.

No matter who you are.

February 20th: In Passing

Previously in the Becoming Nobody Storyline…
Comic Book Theorists

Previously in the By Design Storyline…
Hit And Run

Next in the Becoming Nobody Storyline…
Be Unrepentant

Next in the By Design Storyline…
Seedy Folk

February 20th: Spiral
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