Whose Side Are You On?


carmichael_icon.gif cat_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif goodman_icon.gif hiro_icon.gif kinson_icon.gif

Scene Title Whose Side Are You On?
Synopsis It's never as clear as black and white.
Date February 23, 2009

Dorchester Towers, Jonathan Carmichael's Apartment

Dorchester Towers is a huge white building surrounded by a carefully landscaped stretch of gardens. The spacious lobby almost has more window than wall, white and green marble floor tiles gleaming in the light; it is occupied by doormen and a concierge to assist renters and guests. Nine high-speed elevators provide convenient access to upper stories; every floor has its own laundry room. Closed-circuit TV monitors the lobby and grounds, and every apartment has a security system, double-bolt door locks, and even window locks. The complex has its own garage, a bicycle room, and a sun deck.

The truth that can be put to words is not the genuine Truth; the knowledge that can be comprehended is not real Understanding

Fading evening light shines through floor-to-ceiling windows that cover one entire wall of an enormous, though empty feeling apartment. The broken and ruined skyline of Manhattan viewed out these thick panes of glass serve as a panorama that shows not the splendor of the Empire State, as it once did, but the humility of man in the face of change.

The words of the Chinese philosopher Lao Zi are not less weighty in this era than they were in his. The insatiable hunger for man to learn, understand and discover, often times comes with the difficult responsibility of how to act on that knowledge.

Standing at the windows, overlooking the desolate ruins, the pale form of Jonathan Carmichael stares listlessly into the drab gray of shattered skyscrapers and upheaved streets, to the black crater beyond. one hand smoothing over his mouth, his look of pensive introspection is not an unusual one in these spartan walls. Carmichael's home is a sad echo of his life; furnished in Spartan accord, with little furniture and vast, empty spaces where unpacked boxes are pushed to the walls; white painted walls that give the place more the feeling of a sanitarium than a home. It is as cold and impersonal as the man within.

When presented with all of the secrets we were not meant to know, what do we as humans do with that knowledge? Do we use it for selfish purposes, furthering our own causes?

Lowering his head, Carmichael's hand moves to scratch at the scar visible on his neck below the unbuttoned collar of his shirt, nails tugging at the scab where a dart struck him, where a bullet could have ended his life. Of all things, Hana Gitelman is not a woman known for her mercy. It has Carmichael stewing, still.

…or do we question our own motivations, in the face of staggering revelation?

When Hiro worked out in his head how to get everyone here at once in the same manner, the best he could come up with was gathering in a circle and all doing that "yay team!" thing where they put one hand together in the circle. Yes, it's probably a little fruity. But it provides the contact to make it easier for Hiro to pull everyone with him where they need to go.

There was no warning given from Hiro except, "Be ready."

And without any flashy effects, without anything but the sudden and unmistakable change of surroundings, he, Cat, Elisabeth, and Kinson appear in Carmichael's apartment.

Hiro is the first to yank his hand away from the circle, since he knows they've arrived. And his sword comes out with that metallic note of singing drawn steel. It doesn't take him long to spot Carmichael and spring to the attack. The man appears to be just staring out the window so Hiro has a foot to drive into the back of his knees. Surprise!

The moment the group appears, Elisabeth steps back and throws noise-cancellation bubble around the group, including Carmichael. She'll narrow it when Kinson begins his work to just the two of them, but in the meantime, she mainly stays out of the way to let Hiro subdue the man.

She'd given the group ski masks to cover their faces just in case the man's will turned out strong enough to resist the commands he'll be given, direct ones she worked out in her head and recommended to Kinson before they got the word from Teo to make their move. Cat has hers on, and so all-black clad woman of five feet and eight inches arrives in the Carmichael apartment. Teleportation is also disorienting to her, but not so much as it could have been. She has her months ago experiences doing this with Peter Petrelli and the recent practice of the GPS extraction routine with Anne which seasoned her in such things.

Cat is also armed. As soon as they're on the floor and Hiro is moving to tackle the Agent, she draws out one of her forty caliber silenced pistols and is looking to take aim on the Homeland Satan quarry. She doesn't fire, but she's definitely ready to should it prove necessary.

Of major concern to her is disabling the man's Evolved ability. That would be Kinson's task to hopefully make sure of, in case the drug Hana slipped him doesn't work as they need it to.

Immediately on falling to the ground, Carmichael rolls to the side as his shoulder slams into the plate window with a dull and hollow thunk. He hits the floor, growling from the pain shooting through the knee that was injured during his struggle with Julian Kuhr little over a week ago. On his back, Carmichael moves with surprising quickness for a man his age, swinging his legs up to somersault backwards, bringing himself over to a narrow table with a computer situated atop it. With a startling quickness, Carmichael draws a gun up from under the table, bringing it up at the same time a sword comes down atop it with a gleaming flash of steel on steel.

The gun is angled down towards the ground from the blow, just in time for a soundless gunshot to go off with a flash of light, the bullet embedding in the hardwood floor with a spray of tiny wood particles. The sword blade quickly finds its way up, gleaming in the air before pressing up under Carmichael's throat, even as Cat keeps her gun trained on the man kneeling in front of her.

Lips spreading into a snarl, Carmichael's fingers tense, neck muscles tightening; and his mouth moves in slow pantomime of words swallowed by silence, blue-gray eyes peering up at the sword-wielding man.

It's Elisabeth and Kinson's show now.

Face like granite, Hiro stares through his unnecessary ski-mask at the man he's got at sword-point. "Konichiwa." he says.

And it was only then that Carmichael realized that when Hiro says Konnichiwa, what he was really saying was: I'll kill you.

There's no way the agent DOESN'T know it's Hiro Nakamura holding him at sword-point anyway. But so long as he's got the man here he says with his eyes hard on the prisoner, "Tie him." This is the cue for the others to grab him and put him in a chair or something.

With Cat covering the situation with a gun and Hiro with the sword, Elisabeth goes ahead and moves forward to take up the 'tie him' order. She pulls out the desk chair, the only real piece of furniture in the damn place, and holds it behind Carmichael. Even with the mask, she actually feels far happier out of his line of sight. "Sit down," she growls at him, not bothering to lace the order with her ability, merely grabbing the back of his shirt to drag him down.

Zip-ties are a girl's best friend and all that, Elisabeth brings his hands around behind him, zip-ties his wrists together, and then zip-ties the wrists to the base of the stalk that holds the chair's back. Twice. Doing such to his ankles is just overkill at this point. "~Now, Mister Carmichael, it's time for you to answer some questions,~" she tells him, lacing it with every bit of suggestion she can possibly layer into it. She has no idea if this is going to work — in point of fact, she's pretty sure it won't; her ability generally requires at least some similar mindset to work with, but it can't hurt to try.

Cat keeps the weapon trained on her quarry, watching as Elisabeth secures him to a chair. Only her eyes are visible to him, brown pools which show a focus of cold calculation and repressed rage. This woman, whom Carmichael might recognize as being of similar shape and size to the female figure he saw fleeing on the 28th of January, tilts her head to study him. The voice speaks, and it's a cold voice, laced with the surety she will hurt him in very slow and painfully methodical ways if he makes it necessary.

"Jonathan," Cat asserts, "you've been a very, very bad boy. It's so very rude to lock people in prison for saving the world. You really shouldn't have pissed us off like that."

Then comes the first question. "Tell us where Helena Dean, Brian Fulk, Jesse Alexander Knight, and Benjamin Washington are being held."

His part done for now, Hiro lowers his sword and steps away, then quietly moves around the apartment while the others do their work. The way he understands it he needs to keep out of hearing range anyway because of the abilities that'll be used. So he decides to poke around Carmichael's things so long as he's here. This is, after all, a rare opportunity.

Dragged into the chair and bound with his hands behind the back, ankles tied to the legs of the chair, Carmichael's expression becomes that of put-upon frustration. His eyes flick over to the distinctive sword in the hands of the Japanese speaking man, then over to the woman ordering him around, another glance to the slim frame holding the pistol, and then to the silent figure in the back of the room, watching all of this happen.

"That's a darling voice you have there, love." Narrowing his eyes, Jonathan rolls his tongue over the inside of his cheek, looking at the sword again, then the woman demanding answers of him. "Far be it from me to delay guests who've come up to talk," his eyes track to the kitchen, visible from this open living room space, then back to Elisabeth's masked face again. "I'd offer you a spot of tea, but I'm a bit tied up at present — how can I be of service?"

There's a momentary tension in Carmichael's neck, followed by a strained look and a vein growing prominent on his forehead, but then nothing, and a sudden relaxation of his muscles as he turns to Cat, lips pressing into an unamused expression. "This is very brave, and very stupid of you all." He doesn't explain why, focused on Cat as he talks. "You have no idea what you're doing here — what this is going to do. You're screwing around in things you don't have any idea about."

Elisabeth gets the feeling something isn't right, everything Carmichael is saying and doing is too confident. There's some measure of relaxation and compliance on his part, but she's not Kinson. At least she's calmed him down and got him talking, that's a start. Over by Carmichael's computer, Hiro discovers why. Two of the three flat screen monitors propped up on the thin table are monitoring traffic cameras around the city of New York. On the third screen, PDF dossiers on three people are opened; Noah Bennet, Hana Gitelman, and Claire Bennet. Recent locations for all three are listed, and the status on Hana Gitelman's reads captured. Near the computer, Hiro notices a small and round web camera with its power light on.

Oh. Well lookie here. Unfortunately for Carmichael Hiro is both fluent in English and a computer programmer. Somehow he wondered if that part of his life was wasted, but it would appear that all that knowledge suddenly comes in profoundly useful as he sheaths his sword in the scabbard on his back and has a seat at Carmichael's computer. Not a word to distract the goings-on behind him as he gently turns the webcam around and gives it a view of the wall, and then starts accessing any feeds it was going to. Before anything should be done it's best perhaps to find out who Carmichael thinks is watching…

She smiles, but he can't see it. "Now, now, Jonathan, this is hardly cooperative of you. You were asked to tell us something, and if you had any lick of sense, you would comply." Cat moves to place herself at eye level for the man, and delivers a second query. Then a third.

"Would you be so kind as to tell us what this is going to do? What exactly are we screwing around in?"

Her eyes, so close, so calculating, darken. She doesn't say so, Cat lets the strong chance that non-compliance may soon carry penalties be communicated by them alone.

Seated at the computer, Hiro begins accessing Carmichael's live feeds from traffic cameras. Facial recognition software is slowly analyzing grainy clips of footage timestamped from two days ago, attempting to correlate passers by with faces of Noah and Claire Bennet. The third computer looks, from his investigations, disconnected from the network, likely as some countermeasure against Hana Gitelman finding remote access to its secrets.

The two networked computers are connected through a dedicated line and a network routed into Homeland Security's central datacenter in Virginia. Video conferencing software is open, but the sending screen is blank, either Carmichael just finished with a meeting or was waiting for one to begin.

A quick browse of his recently accessed documents brings up several interesting spreadsheets, one being a prisoner transport roster for the Moab Federal Penitentiary in Moab, Utah. Some sixty prisoners are listed as having been transferred to the prison over the last month, however there are only serial numbers and no names attached to the list.

The next document is a long, detailed memo from the office of the President of the United States, discussing funding being channeled into a government program called FRONTLINE, which according to the information here is going to be headed up by Jonathan Carmichael, with oversight by Vice President Andrew Mitchell. From a brief look over the file, it seems to be some Evolved-Only government task force.

"You're in over your head, dear." His voice is so smooth, but there's a hint of something foreign about his accent, not quite British, but having similar qualities. "You think just because some people up and vanished, that you know exactly what's going on. I know about you people, about what you did at Primatech, about how you listened to a doddering mathematician's advice to cut HomeSec out of a fight it was designed to handle. You just — " Carmichael snorts, "Keep running around, spitting self-righteous indignation at anyone you think is wrong. You don't have the big picture, and you don't know what damage you're doing right now — for all of us."

Hiro heh's at what he's seeing in front of him. It shouldn't be surprising, any of it. Microphone feed is unnecessary. He can't hear the words being exchanged behind him thanks to Elisabeth, so neither can the computer. So he just starts queuing up documents to print. Print print print. If they're here long enough it's possible Hiro will use up a ream of paper, or more likely kill the toner cartridge in this guy's printer before they leave. The very first thing he does is get the IP for that datacenter in Virginia though. That he looks for a pen or pencil for so he can scribble it on a scrap of paper and keep it on his person. He knows exactly who to give it to.

"Jonathan, Jonathan, you assume so much. You see, we realize you hate to admit this, we did your job for you in taking out Kazimir Volken's puny little gang. Of course, you were given ample opportunity to do the job yourself, when we gave what we had to Matt Parkman. But still it was, the day of truth came, and we had to handle things. Not that we could trust you people anyway, being all in bed with the same people who created that virus to begin with, and so sloppily let Dr. Odessa Knutson steal it. That such a thing existed says it all; that it was kept and never destroyed only reinforces the argument. As to Primatech, well, if you're really doing any kind of decent public service, there's no reason not to expose the Company and all of its laundry to the public, is there? You wouldn't have anything to hide. People with allegedly dangerous abilities could be taken into open court for commitment proceedings, and criminals can face trial. This is America, you and your ilk want to make it Nazi Germany, and we. will. not. tolerate. that. At all."

Her voice grows colder; Cat goes back to the beginning. "Where are Helena Dean, Jesse Alexander Knight, Brian Fulk, and Benjamin Washington being held?"

She won't by any means tell him so, but she has no intention of leaving any mark on him. If this continues much further, Cat has it all planned out. She will simply invite Kinson Sayers to speak the command 'Answer all questions immediately, truthfully, and completely'.

There is a high-pitched humming sound, followed by a click and whirr as Carmichael's laser printer begins feeding off printouts of the documentation from his computer. Unaware of what is going on outside of the bubble he's contained in, Carmichael only notices Hiro sitting at his computer, but only winces in frustration before focusing back on Cat.

"You think we knew about the virus?" Jon's eyes narrow slightly, "Did you know about it before it was stolen? Which one of us are the perfect saints?" His lips press together in a thin line, "Keep talking, miss. If you think we're one, large, faceless conglomerate of government employees, nothing I say can change that for you, now can it?" Testing the tightness of his bones with a flex of his shoulders, Carmichael winces at the sore ache still in his knee.

"Some of us don't well like the arrangement our agency has with the Company. Despite what you may think, we're not all monsters. You bandy about how you're different from PARIAH, from those bloodthirsty Liberitad bastards in Spain, but half'a the people in our government lump you all up into the same bunch." His brows furrow together, "Because it's easier than having to admit you just might be wrong." There's a sharpness to Carmichael's words, and he looks nervously over Cat's shoulder to Kinson, then back again, "Which one've us does that make most ignorant then? Which side're you on? Which side'm I on?"

Breathing in deeply, Carmichael answers his question for her, "Like I said — You don't know what you're doing here."

The printer's gonna do what the printer's gonna do. That's just going to take time, but predicting it'll run out of paper before he's gotten everything he wants, Hiro spends a moment looking for more paper before going back to searching.

Keep an eye on that video conference. It might activate and he'll have to do something about it if so. In fact now that he's thinking about it, Hiro looks for signs of last activity on the webcam. Did someone perhaps see them enter and shut down the feed? That'd be more immediate.

"We learned there was a virus involved in Volken's plans for a flood, Jonathan," Cat tells him smoothly. "But we could only speculate about its source for quite some time. Word was sent to your agency about his plans, and still the Company, your partners, took no action to destroy that virus. Don't insult our intelligence by pretending to protect and serve. You've so long ago forgotten the basics, that agents of government should fear the people. The people should not fear the hirelings they give authority to."

"If we had our way, we'd take every single document, expose the name of every agent you have, and every record that Company ever kept, and make it all public. This debate is bigger than you and us, Jonathan. It deserves to be held in full view of three hundred million people, the entire committee of your bosses, and be settled there with complete disclosure."

"Deep down, you know you can't do this, because you know you and everyone like you would get hanged by his balls from bridges all across this nation."

She lifts her foot and holds it poised in the air then, as if she intends to crush his testicles with it at any moment.

"Where are Helena Dean, Brian Fulk, Jesse Alexander Knight, and Benjamin Washington being held?"

Lips draw across Carmichael's teeth in a sneer, "Yes, endanger the lives of good, hard-working and honest men and women to die — that's a wonderful plan." There's a bitter laugh as Carmichael seems to be plucking through the layers of the woman confronting him in his mind. "Where was your pride when this was being done to Arab-Americans following the last terrorist attack on New York City? Where was your righteous indignation then? Did you go capturing federal agents who weren't decision makers, did you go exposing NSA agents in the field, did you presume to know the delicate inner workings of a government agency rife with corruption and think — just because you got up that morning — that you could //change it?"

Carmichael looks down to her foot, snorting, then looks up to Cat, "Your moral high horse has a lame leg." Spitting out those words, he grumbles, "Go ahead, I served my time in the Gulf War as a POW — I fought for my country while you were still playing with barbies. If you think you're more creative than they are, I entertain you to try."

It's obvious now, there's going to be no intimidating him. Not without sufficient creativity, anyway. It's at this that Kinson takes a step forward, resting a hand on Cat's shoulder, silently shaking his head as his fingers press down firmly.

Time for the linguistic gloves to come off.

In his search Hiro finds that there has been no activity on the webcam for two days, but Carmichael's outlook scheduler shows a video conference scheduled for an hour and a half from now. Hm.

Well. He needs time, but even for him there are limits to what can be done. Getting up from the still-printing computer, Hiro walks over to the group and taps Cat on the shoulder as if to have a word with her. Seems to be Kinson's turn anyway.

She moves her foot sharply toward his crotch, as if to carry out her threatened action of smashing his testicles under the boot, but stops it at the last second. Then it draws back to settle on the floor, leaving his reproductive organs unharmed. Not a further word does Cat say to him at the moment.

Her eyes turn toward Kinson as his hand settles on her shoulder, and she nods once. Then she glances at Hiro, nods to him as well, and walks with him to a point outside Elisabeth's Cone of Silence, lest they be affected themselves by his Evolved talent.

Kinson allows time for whatever adjustments Elisabeth makes to her dampening field, then steps up to stand right in front of Carmichael. He lowers to look the man in the eyes, and speaks his instruction with his best broadcast quality voice.

"Jonathan Carmichael, answer all questions immediately, truthfully, and completely."

He wants to struggle, wants to avoid the change of pitch in Kinson's voice, that saccharine sweet and lilting tone that tries to compel him. He's taken training seminars on how to fight Telepathy, read instructional manuals on how to resist interrogation and torture by Evolved powers, but once in the true face of a persuasion-endowed Evolved, there is little that can be done as he struggles against his restraints, trying to clench his jaw so tight that the sond of blood rushing in his ears drowns out the voice — he fails.

Breathing out shuddered, rasping breaths, Carmichael hastily exhales, "D-don't do this, you — " he swallows, dryly, "You don't know what you're doing — " He can plead all he wants, but when the questions come, he has no choice but to obey the voice that has drilled into his mind. "Don't do this."

Once outside the silence zone and safe from being overheard by Carmichael, Hiro keeps his back to the prisoner and waits until Cat does the same before they speak. People have been known to read lips before.

"His computer has a lot of useful information. I have it printing out hard copies right now but in about an hour and a half he has a teleconference scheduled with someone from a Homeland Security office." Hiro keeps his voice to a low whisper, as if the silence bubble isn't enough to guarantee Carmichael won't hear. Although perhaps it's still prudent lest there be listening devices in the room. "I can't get everything we're going to want off of it in an hour and a half. I can suspend all of you from this time frame," he jerks his head back toward Carmichael, "so we have as long to question him as we need. But that computer is only ours for an hour and a half. Then we'll probably never see it again. Or I can rip out his hard drive but they'll know for sure we were here."

The question is obvious: What do you want to do?

She ponders what Hiro says to her, as Kinson does his persuasive work. Cat's eyes flick to Carmichael, then back to Hiro. "That was a flaw in our plan," she admits ruefully. Plans never do manage to cover all bases. If only she could have convinced Jennifer of this, gotten them to see the truth of it. But that is as it is. "Not bringing a spare hard drive to copy his onto, anticipating a computer being present. Do you think there's time to get one, or enough USB drives to copy it all? If at all possible, we should take all we can and leave no trace. If they know we were here, they can move the people we're after, make the information redundant. Useless. With time not already frozen, you can leave, secure the materials quickly, and return before even seconds pass, yes?"

Having done his part, the also ski-masked Persuader steps away from Carmichael, to let Cat return to her interrogative task.

Tensed up and staring at Kinson, Carmichael takes this moment while his captors discuss amongst themselves to assess his situation. His eyes dart around the apartment, looking to the computer screens on the thin desk, then finally noticing the printer at work. His gaze flicks back up to Kinson, then to Elisabeth, a snarling expression coming over him as he can't quite find an opportunity to struggle out of his restraints with eyes on him.

Hiro shares what he has to with Cat and nods.

Incredibly, he has no idea USB drives are advanced now as much as they are. The last time he was in what most people consentualize as The Present, they got about as big as four gigabytes.

Hiro takes a step toward the computer and blinks out of view…

…only to appear in Tokyo where he used to get all his electronics stuff. It's changed a LOT, but at least it's still in business. A slight twinge of guilt overcomes Hiro as he stops time for the shoppers and the store as a whole so he can just go and take the drives he needs. It's stealing, and he abhors the thought of doing it on principle, but perhaps in the future he can make it up to this store. Though they're kept in a different place now after a few years, the display for the USB flash-drives isn't too hard to find. And he ends up grabbing two one-terabyte flashdrives. TERABYTE? Amazing. Hiro can't help but bite his lip as he looks at one and reads its packaging over. Wow…

…and then he appears again walking toward the computer to have a seat, worrying the packages open that his brand new flash drives come in. This ought to take a significantly shorter time to move over than to print out the hard copies, but he doesn't stop the printouts either.

Suddenly Hiro is not in front of her, but at the computer again, starting to enact her suggestion. Behind the ski mask, unseen to all, Cat smiles. Excellent. Her eyes flick to the printer as it continues to produce results, and a thought comes to her mind. "We should make sure we replace whatever paper we use also when we go." Then she steps up to resume her questioning with Kinson nearby to provide whatever reinforcement is needed. The voice is calm, very businesslike.

"Where are Helena Dean, Jesse Alexander Knight, Brian Fulk, and Benjamin Washington being held?"

Clenching his jaw tightly, Jonathan tries to struggle against the bindings of chair and consciousness, against the verbal demand put upon him by the masked man standing in front of him. This is no mere psychological torture, this isn't a simple interrogation, this is his free will sliced away like fat off of fresh meat at a butcher's shop. He swallows, trying to choke himself on his words, but they bubble up from his lips in unwilling procession, "Dean, Knight and Washington — They're at the Moab Federal Penitentiary in Moab, Utah."

His nose rankles at the words, he didn't want to say that, but at the same time his thoughts are becoming clouded by the euphoric feeling of agreement he has with his masked interrogator. "Fulk— " He can't resist the verbal lure, "Fulk was negotiated to be taken out of Government care— record of his arrest wiped— he— he was taken by the Company. They have him." He's obviously struggling not to volunteer extraneous information, as hard as that is.

Well. Hiro actually grabbed two of these things with the expectation that the hard drive would HAVE to be bigger than any flash drive, but here in his hands he's got more data storage than this entire computer can handle. So he shrugs and plugs one in, waits for the computer to read it. Then just highlights the entire contents of the hard drive and copies it to the flash drive. And it's working working working, but no way will it take any hour.

Apparently Hiro will have plenty of time to replace the paper the printer's using up. So he gets up to handle that as well.

Excellent. Her eyes watch him struggle, and she hasn't the slightest qualm about any of this. Cat commits the information to memory, and moves on to the next question. "What defenses does Moab have versus Evolved abilities, and how can they be disabled or defeated?" Her eyes on the man are cold and merciless. In her mind there's the perception of Helena and the others being tortured, experimented on, telepaths trying to squeeze out all they can get from them. The imprisonment of Brian at the Company is set aside, to return to later.

Carmichael's brow furrows at the next question, "I — I'm — It was…" Her tries to stop his mouth, and it fails to hinter his speech, straining the words through clenched teeth, "It was designed by the Company— I— I don't know all of the particulars it— they've got lead-lined cells with mild electrical charges, it— it's supposed to stop phasing."

"Relax" Kinson adds after a moment, tucking his hands into his pockets as he stands up straight in front of Carmichael. The agent's tension and struggling ends, and he more gently begins answering, a slight nervous tic below his right eye.

"I don't know the security systems, they— an Agent of the Company designed them after the raid on Primatech last year, better defenses. There's— they have an emergency response team— four Evolved, one of them with super speed, a huge guy, ridiculously strong— someone who can manipulate electromagnetic energy, and— I don't know, some woman— I don't know what she does."

There's a clipped, tense sound to Carmichael's words, despite his willingness now to speak. "I'm not in charge of the facility security, I wouldn't know how to bypass all of it. I was given a tour when it was finished but— that was months ago."

This time when Hiro takes a moment to teleport away, he's gone for a good bit. It might make the others sweat a little. But the computer busily prints and copies data, doing what it was told to do.

"Which agent of the Company designed these defenses?" Cat inquires. "Which Company facility has Brian Fulk, and who handled the negotiations on their end to take custody of him?" And she remembers what the man said earlier about a mathematician. "Where is Doctor Edward Ray?" Maybe they have him, maybe they don't. Can't hurt to ask.

Carmichael shudders, exhaling a rough breath as his lips smack together, the barrage of questions causing his synapses to fire in an attempt to answer them all at rapid-fire pace, ending in a slur of mish-mashed wordlike sounds for a moment, before he gets his thoughts under control — not his control, but control none the less. "Don't know who designed it— no clearance to. Parkman is the Company liason in my office."

Another huffed breath preceeds his next litany of explanation, "Notnot sure which facility Roger Goodman handled the negotiations…" Roger Goodman? The name comes as something of a bombshell, a public face in a Fortune 500 biotech firm. "I don't know— Roger knows he— " there's a spluttering of words, "he tried to kill the President, and they caught him." They?

…and Hiro's back with a ream of paper. He notices the printer's done with its current job and kneels in front of it, opening the pan to put about as much paper back in the device as he thinks printed out. Then he takes the printouts and uses the half-spent ream in his hands as a package for them to kind of wrap them back up in. It's a convenient carrier.

A check on the copy-over process to the flash drive and Hiro grins. That was amazingly quick! Computers are cooler than ever. He uninstalls and unplugs the first flash drive, then plugs in the other. He might as well. Two copies is better than one.

She slows the pace of her questioning now, the only quality of mercy Cat will afford this man. "What methods of interrogation are being used on Helena Dean, Jesse Alexander Knight, and Benjamin Washington? What intelligence has been gathered by those methods, and what have you learned about us?"

Her mind is at work, recording away. Roger Goodman. And, she thinks, Jesus H. Fucking Christ, Doctor Ray! What the hell did that probability thing you have reveal that led you to try assassinating Nathan Petrelli?!

Carmichael's eyes roll back in his head, struggling for a moment with the question, "I— don't know. That's… not my purview. I'm a field agent, I don't handle interrogations," he swallows, dryly, "whatever happened to them after getting to Moab is out of my control." Blinking his eyes as though drowsy, trying to regain control of his faculties, Carmichael finds himself unable to do so. Kinson's calming persuasion, along with the order about the interrogation has him as loquacious as a chatty teenage girl.

"I— only know information pertinent to my field operations. The Library, Gitelman, Bennet… I know what I need to know, to…" His eyes wander the room, "To do my job."

"Who does know the answer to those questions about interrogations and what's been learned from them?" Cat inquires smoothly.

Yeah, Carmichael's job right now is being copied away onto a second flash drive. And Hiro's pocketted the first. At this point somebody's going to have to catch him to get this information back. He checks the time and the time of that teleconference appointment.

They seem to be doing just fine. Aside from the turned-around webcam, Hiro's not seeing anything else out of place with the desk and computer setup. he'll just have to remember to take the flashdrive packaging, drives, and extra paper with him when they leave. While he waits for number two drive to copy, he spares a glance over his shoulder to see how the questioning is going.

"Chief of security— " Carmichael murmurs, "Albert… nnh… LePlante? I— I forget this name, the— " There's a swallow, lips rolling over his tongue as he tries to figure out how to answer the question, "Structural changes, I'm not up to speed on them all. Different branch of — enough red tape to hang yourself with." It seems there was nothing in the suggestion about being not being sarcastic.

"Interrogation information… nnh, it'd— be passed along to the director of the prison, then dispatched to his supervisor for dissemination. If anything related to what Roger needs shows up, it gets sent to me by— by— " He strains not to give away anything, "informants inside the prison, that information I then relay to Roger so he can… can act on it."

Exactly who does this guy work for?

Hiro wiles away the time it takes for that drive to copy over by closing down the apps he opened and re-maximizing the apps he minimized. He never actually stopped any processes, so that should be intact. At this point it's about making the computer look as near as possible exactly as he found it.

A picture is forming in Cat's mind as she asks questions and hears answers. Her brain works away ahead of each new one posed. One name recurs in the replies. Roger Goodman. Now, being thorough, and the name potentially one she could find several hundred times in a standard Nuked York City phone book, her next question is decided on.

"Is the Roger Goodman you speak of the same one who handles public relations for a firm called Biomere?"

Carmichael winces, head rolling to one side as that is asked, "Yes," is the first part of his confirmation, "Biomere— is a shell for the Company. I— I don't know what they do there— but it's important to Roger and the man he works for." Carmichael's neck tightens, fingernails digging into his palms as his teeth press down on his lower lip firmly. His head tilts to one side, eyes fluttering for a moment before snapping open again. No matter how hard he tries, he can't resist Kinson's commands, it's just impossible, and it's becoming harder not to volunteer information.

And finally number two is done! Hiro takes the second flashdrive out, pockets it in a different spot from the first, and then opens up the system process log to carefully delete any evidence that flash drives were recognized and installed and then anything showing that files were copied. Alas it takes him significant tinkering to find the right logs, because with the latest software the locations he's used to have shifted around.

On she goes. Each answer leads to more questions, and the picture sharpens. Cat snickers at this man in her mind. He talked of her not knowing the big picture, and to a degree he was right. That's why she's here in such esteemed company. Behind the mask hiding her features is a smile of grim triumph. Here cometh the next interrogative.

"Who does Roger Goodman work for?"

"Don't" Jonathan tries to spit out the warning, "Please don't — " Even as Cat is about to ask that question, Carmichael struggles to try and not give away the answer, "P-phrr— " His tongue twists into knots, trying to say two things at once, "Y-you don't know what you're doing!" Gone is any sense of strength from Carmichael, just horror as Cat finishes her question, and Kinson watches on. He trembles in his chair, head tilting back as he rolls out one, slow name off of his tongue.

"Arthur Petrelli."

Slowly, he turns to look back over his shoulder at the etching. Cat begins to recognize elements of it, the twisted pattern of the man's shadow is the same symbol used on Arthur Petrelli's business cards, as well as the logo for a bladesmith that once operated out of Chinatown; Jittetsu Arms. It is on the cover of Activating Evolution; Chandra Suresh's piece of literature so prominent in this age. Lastly, on the cover of several issues of the 9th Wonders comic book, written and illustrated by an Isaac Mendez.

Well, now, the interrogating woman thinks. Names just continue to pop up and connect. Peter Petrelli at Moab. Nathan Petrelli, President of the United States. Arthur Petrelli. Arthur Petrelli. Italian in origin. Now, Cat knows that just like Roger Goodman, there could be a lot of Arthur Petrellis. She will make sure.

"Is there a relationship between Arthur Petrelli, Nathan Petrelli, and Peter Petrelli?"

After some frustration Hiro's pretty sure he's got any sign that he copied the contents of this hard drive out of the computer itself. Plus he's gotten rid of the print job. Once he puts the computer back the way he thinks he found it, he kneels by the printer and looks it over closely. These things sometimes have a memory in them and it's best to be sure…

Carmichael struggles, neck tensing as his hands shake and teeth clench together, "Related— blood— family." It's at this moment there's a sound from the desk near the computer monitors. Vibrating out from behind the keyboard, a slim gunmetal cell phone flashes and skitters across the tabletop, the printed name on the screen reads: Goodman, R

"Arthur— Arthur's their father." And according to the memory dump that Peter gave to Cat back in September, Arthur Petrelli died, Peter even briefly flashed Cat with memories of his funeral, memories of the urn that contained his father's ashes.

Arthur Petrelli, a lawyer protecting Daniel Linderman before his untimely death of a heart attack.

How does any of this connect together?

Carmichael pauses his eyes there for a moment, staring at Cat with wide eyes. "Don't pursue this— " He stammers out the words, "You— You don't know what's going on, you'll all get killed. All of you." Why does he even care?

Goodman calling — Hmm. Hiro cranes his neck up from where he's examining the printer to look at the phone. He waits until the call stops, then takes a note of where the phone lies, picks it up, and looks up Goodman's number. He stands and waves at Cat behind the silence, holding up the phone so she can see. Flashes the number at her.

She doesn't notice the phone going off, as she presses on. Roger Goodman works for an allegedly dead man, and she's about to ask her next question when Hiro shows her the phone. Well, now. This is interesting. The relationship between these two could complicate things. There could be a protocol where if he doesn't answer promptly it raises alarm bells and brings people to check things out. Or it could be that it goes unnoticed. Sometimes a person just can't get there in time. Her head tilts, and the next question is designed to find out which is the case.

"Does not answering a call from Roger Goodman raise an alarm? How long will he wait to here from you before taking steps to check on you?"

"No— nothing of the sort," Carmichael sputters, head slowly lolling to the side, "He— he'll just show up." Those words hit somewhat like a gunshot with what they imply, "I'm…" He tries not to offer the words, but they tumble out of his mouth so easily, Kinson simply is such a persuasive man. "He's meeting me, to discuss assignments— the Bennets."

Tilting his head back against the chair, Carmichael's eyes force shut, fingers flexing open and closed again against his palms, tightly. "He's a very prompt man." That bit comes with just a smirk, ever so sedated seeming.

Hiro sets the phone back exactly where he found it, still watching Cat for some kind of signal. To him they're all on a mute button.

She glances over to Hiro as the next question comes out. "How will he show up?" While speaking the question she gestures to the others to wrap it up, and nods to Kinson. Be ready, is her meaning. Then she glances at Hiro again, mouthing the words Freeze Time. There is urgency about her now. Something is decidedly not right.

"He'll— "

There's a brief purple glow that Hiro spots beneath the door to Carmichael's apartment across the room from the interrogation, followed by the polite and gentle sounds of knuckles knocking on the door. There's no calling through the door, just that knocking one more time, and then silence. Carmichael smiles, crookedly, looking up to Cat as he purses his lips into an expression of some feigned kiss.

"He'll just show up." Jonathan adds, that expression turning into a smile.

This is why he was delaying earlier.

Freeze Time, she says. Hiro blinks his eyes closed and holds that for a moment. And no, he's not Doing That. It's more like he's rolling his eyes. He can't just FREEZE TIME for everybody else. Himself? Easy. Whatever. Grabbing the ream of paper up and all the wrapping from his flashdrives, he heads into the silence bubble and announces once he's audible, "Everybody put a hand on my shoulder."

He looks down at Carmichael and grabs him by an ear.

No time to be gentle.

Cat complies without hesitation. One hand rests on Hiro's shoulder. This operation just got dicey, but is not yet unsalvageable. Kinson, near her, does the same. That just leaves Elisabeth to follow suit.

Elisabeth doesn't hesitate at all. In fact her expression is a little wide-eyed at the shadow under the door. She just hopes it works. Once everybody's touching Hiro (and he's touching Carmichael), it's all stopped. Hiro lets go of Carmichael and says, "We're safe. Finish him up. We ought to go. And nobody touch anything."

There's a noticeable cognitive dissonance when Hiro slows time to a grinding halt while separating several others from the flow of time itself. Everything stops, the clock ticking on the wall, the video feeds on the computer, even the clouds outside the picture windows cease their motions in the skies. Birds are frozen mid-flight in the air, and the shadow beneath the door is unmoving, a constant and looming presence of someone else.

But it is not without its strain.

Everything, for a brief moment, seems distorted, an after-image blur of previous motions echoing into the real world. This is the most people Hiro has attempted to carry outside of the time stream before, and the throbbing sensation of a migraine behind his eyes is further indication that he's taxing the limits of his consciousness to keep everyone in the same moment at the same time.

Carmichael lurches, eyes rolling up, following the motion trails behind his masked captor's as they move, looking to the door, then to Cat with his brows lowered, a scowl firm on his face, "You don't know what you're doing."

Time is stopped for them. She doesn't know how long Hiro can keep it up. Her hidden expression is one of urgency and alarm. Got to move, and fast. She steps clear of the silence bubble so Kinson can move in when she nods in his direction, and indicates for Hiro to do the same.

Kinson steps up and speaks once it's sure only the intended target, Carmichael, will hear his voice. His words are specific and carry the force of his evolved ability. "Forget this entire encounter." He pauses for a beat between directives. "Go take a nap when we free you." Then he moves away from the seated and bound man.

Elisabeth moves in once Kinson is clear and cuts the man free of his restraints.

Hiro stands back and watches. He's gathering that they're all moving with urgency because they think it's some kind of strain, but in his own mind he knows it isn't a matter of keeping anything up. It's a matter of sending Carmichael back to his proper timeframe. If Hiro never comes back to switch him back, he'll be effectively dead to the world and gone forever, living out the rest of his life here until he's died of old age… assuming he finds enough food and water. The rest of his life would be a Twilight Zone episode.

Somehow the temptation to let just that happen is terrible.

There's one shuddering exhalation as Carmichael breathes out a rough, exhausted breath from the next command. His neck tenses, eyes forcing shut as he tries once more in vain to drown out the sound of Kinson's voice, but it simply doesn't work. With a roll of his head from one side to the next, Carmichael absorbs the directives given to him by the persuasive Phoenix operative in silent agreement.

It's haunting, the world being frozen in time like this. The stillness, and the absolute silence is jarring.

Maybe it's why Peter never showed her this aspect of his power?

She watches the restraints come away from his body as Elisabeth cuts them, standing back to give her room, observing as she takes care to pocket the remains of those zip ties, to avoid leaving even that evidence behind. The stakes in all of this have gone up so immensely. Arthur Petrelli. Cat's seen images of his funeral. He faked his death? Or an impostor took his place? They will have to try carrying out another operation of this nature sometime in the near future. But today is not that day.

Doctor Chesterfield watches to see if Carmichael falls asleep where he sits, or shuffles off to his bed, while she shepherds the others toward Hiro so they can contact his shoulders and be evacuated.

Hiro looks a little uncomfortable as everybody starts kind of moving on him. He holds out his free hand and gives a Look. Don't Paw The Hiro. "Like before." he bids, meaning before when he brought everybody here. Once everybody's got contact with him, there is a momentary shift in reality and the Phoenix members and their allies suddenly cease to be here.

The time-displaced Carmichael gets to sit in the utter nonreactive silence of the True Third Dimension, the only thing in it possessed of continuance and a true Before and After. That lasts only as long as it takes another time travelling dark-clothed man with a sword to appear and touch him and send him back to his proper universe and timeframe. Temptation successfully resisted.

Take a nap is such a general term, but it allows Carmichael to process it as he wants. It is the immediate task he sets himself upon as he moves across the room, settling down on a small sofa pushed up against the far wall, laying down with his head on the armrest, crossing his arms up over his brow to block out the diffuse gray light from the cloudy skies outside. He's exhausted from the interrogation, from the mental strain, from everything that has happened.

Carmichael is only sleep for what feels like a minute before the knocking on his door stirs him, eyes jolting open, looking to the computer, then the clock on the wall, "Fuck," he hisses as he springs up off of the sofa, wavering a little. "Come in, come on in— "

At the invitation, there is a creak of the front door being opened, a key card tucked into the breast pocket of a black suit jacket as a tall, dark man slowly makes his way into the apartment. Head tilting to one side, Roger walks across the floor with a slow and even gait. "Jon, were you asleep?" There's a mildly teasing tone there as he strolls into the livingroom.

"I— I'm sorry, Sir I — " He sighs heavily, one hand rubbing at the back of his neck. "My head's been off since Gitelman drugged me." But when Jonathan looks back up to Roger, the tall man's focus is not on Carmichael any longer, but down on the floor.

When Carmichael looks down, he sees Roger's shoe scuffing something. His foot moves aside, sending a brass shell casing clinking over to Jon's boot, while revealing a bullet hole in the floor.

Dark eyes lift up to meet Carmichael's at the same time, one thin brow raised in question.

"How was your nap?"

Note: Upon return to their home base for the night, Elisabeth was also told to "forget the Carmichael encounter, you took a nap this evening," per Teo's instructions.

February 23rd: Can't Stop The World

Previously in the By Design Storyline…
Hunter and Hunter

Previously in the Stormfront Storyline…
Crazy People

Next in the By Design Storyline…
Help Wanted

Next in the Stormfront Storyline…
Shell Shock

February 23rd: She Promised Him Dinner
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