Linderman Steel Works
Linderman had been going through some paperwork when his adopted daughter walked into his office.
"Daddy," Claire said, "Mr. Hawkins is here to see you."
"Excellent," Linderman replied crisply, "send him right in."
Claire nodded and turned to leave, when Linderman called back after her.
She froze in place.
"Is something troubling you, dear?" he asked gently.
"It's just..." she began nervously.
"Yes?" Linderman prodded gently.
"I was kind of wondering when we're going to go to England," she admitted.
Linderman smiled all the broader. "You're anxious to meet your real father, I take it?"
Claire shook her head. "You're my real father," she insisted. "It's just... I'm a little curious, that's all."
Linderman nodded. "I understand completely. I just have to finish up this business with Mr. Hawkins and clear up a few things with Mr. Petrelli's case and we'll be off to meet the Prime Minister."
Claire smiled brightly and turned to walk back to the antechamber.
She returned seconds later with D.L., whom she directed to a chair before turning to leave once more.
"Hello, Daniel," Linderman greeted warmly. "How have you been, my boy."
"Don't call me 'boy.'" D.L. cut. "What's this all about."
Linderman just kept right on smiling like Father Christmas. "I take you'd rather we got right to the purpose of your visit. Very well."
Linderman crouched down slightly so that he was at eye-level with D.L. "There is a man being held in Germany. A man of power, like yourself."
D.L.'s eyes went wide. "How did..."
He quickly recovered and steeled himself once more. "So, what do you need?"
Linderman nodded. "Your abilities are uniquely suited to a rescue mission. This man is very important and the Germans cannot be allowed the full range of his abilities."
D.L. scratched his chin. "And if it's just me and I get caught, the Government can still claim to be neutral, right?"
"Well, I'd imagine so," Linderman granted, "but I'm not to tell them about it."
D.L. froze. "So, this really has nothing to with the boys in Washington?"
Linderman shrugged. "I can't imagine you feel much of a debt to them... after the took your wife and son and sold them to a private concern."
D.L.'s face changed when he heard that. "No, they... they took Nicole away to get help."
Linderman nodded. "Yes, I imagine that's what they would have told you," he said softly, letting D.L. stew slowly. "But I'm afraid they're motives may not have been as pure as you were lead to believe."
D.L. turned to face him. "What do you mean 'sold?'"
Linderman placed the file he had been studying earlier in D.L.'s lap. "Just that. Your wife and son were traded for financial security and military intelligence to a Company with a history of using people like you and wife as weapons... soldiers... even as breeding stock." He pointed to the file. "It's all right there, you can see for yourself."
D.L. studied the file for a few moments until it made him it made too sick to go on and he slammed the file shut.
"If I do this," D.L. said, barely a whisper, "you're going to help me get her back?"
Peter & Claude
Somewhere in the Midwest
Peter had been traveling with the Circus long enough that he wasn't that bothered about crossing the country by train.
In fact, he was fairly certain he would have been completely comfortable with it, if only he was sitting peacefully in one of the compartments, even one of the cramped and arid ones he had been accustomed to.
It was the standing on the roof that bothered him.
"I don't like this, Claude," Peter voiced. "All this wind whipping around... it reminds me too much of how my parents died."
"That's good," Claude replied simply. "The second you forget that moment you become officially useless to me."
Peter nodded. He realized now that it did seem a little stupid to expect sympathy from Claude at this point. "So, what's this exercise you brought me up here for?"
Claude held up a hand for Peter to wait, then, after seeing some invisible landmark, turned back to face his student. "All right, here's the exercise. Remember when I tried to kill you yesterday?"
Peter nodded, his face pulled back in a scowl.
Claude just smiled a little wider. "Well, I'm going to keep trying. I am going to try harder and harder every time, and I am going to learn from my every failure, so you'll either have to keep learning new tricks or give up and let me kill you."
Peter cocked his head. "Is that all you..." was as much as he was able to get out before Claude punched him sharply in the face.
"Well, that's what the Enemy is going to be doing, so I suggest you get used to it now," Claude said snidely.
"I wasn't ready!" Peter snarled.
Claude just punched him again, this time going for the eyes. "And you never will be."
Claude went in for another blow, which Peter dodged.
"You think they're going to wait for you to be ready?" Claude mocked. "You think they're going to ease up on you? They already killed your entire family to get at you?"
This got Peter angry enough that he finally take a swing, which Claude evaded and revisited on him fourfold. "You're supposed to be teaching me about my powers!" Peter howled.
"And I am teaching you about Power," Claude replied cheerfully. Peter attempt another punch and Claude took the opportunity to grab both his hands. "Those who have Power will always use it to beat down those who don't." Claude gave Peter's hands a good, sharp twist until he heard them pop. "If you want to stand up them, if you want to stop them, hell, if you even want to survive, you'd better be willing to go just as far."
He release his grip and Peter clutched his injured arms to himself, screaming in pain.
And then Claude kicked him off of the roof of the train.
"Understand?" he asked cheerfully.
As he fell, Peter was able to clutch onto the edge of the roof, but he knew he couldn't last long. Even with his hands healing as fast as they could, he couldn't hold on for long. The second he tried to climb back up, though, he knew he would have to leave himself open and Claude would take advantage of his weakness and give him the final shove over. And even with his enhanced healing powers, Peter wasn't sure he could survive falling off of a moving train.
Or getting caught under one.
"Claude!" Peter pleaded. "Please! Pull me up!"
"You really haven't got it yet, have you?" Claude snarled. "This isn't a sparring gym."
He slammed his hobnailed boot down hard onto Peter's hand.
"Arghh!" Peter screamed.
"It's an operating table," Claude growled.
He brought his boot down again, this time harder.
"And I'm the surgeon."
Peter had to think. It didn't make sense that Claude would drag him all this way just to kill him. There had to be a reason he had dragged him on the top of this train, at this time.
While still straining himself to maintain his grip for the few last precious seconds, Peter tried to reach out his consciousness. Claude had said they were traveling to meet someone, it was just a matter of figuring out who.
And then he saw her for the first time.
He didn't know who she was, but that wasn't important. What mattered was that she really was running alongside the train, as he'd joked days earlier. And she wasn't just keeping pace with it.
She was running circles around the train.
And then Peter had it. Faster than Claude could follow, much less stop, Peter shot himself back up, barreling the other man over in process.
"I'm going to kill you, you psychopath!" Peter snarled.
Claude, however, couldn't stop laughing. "Excellent! Excellent! You're finally starting to come around!"
Peter looked down at Claude's wicked, smiling face and suddenly felt very sick.
"Yeah, I am," he replied. "and I'm done."
And then Claude's smile faded. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm through with your sick games," Peter said, turning his back on his teacher. "This isn't getting me any closer to finding my parents killers... if it wasn't just you all along," he said ruefully. "It's not even about teaching me about my powers or helping me get new ones... it's just you trying to prove you're in control. Well, I'm done playing along, Claude.
"I quit," he spat, using his new power to speed far into the distance.
Claude shook his head. "If only it were that easy."
And then he reached into his battered old coat, extracted a mobile phone over half a century away from being produced, and dialed up the only number in memory.
"I'm afraid he's just taken a runner," Claude told the voice on the other end. "No, I'm sure he'll be back... we just need to make sure he has a rough time on his own. Right."
Claude severed the connection and smiled to himself. Everything was going according to plan.