Progeny, Chapter 11
by Creedog VanDrey
Summary: The Sixers make their move. Both Monica and Hannah uncover life-changing secrets.
Spoilers: "I Am Become Death" and the Exposed Future. This far in, you should know where we're at.
A/N: So, despite what you may think, or what FFN will tell you, or even the note at the bottom of the page, it has not been three months since I posted the last chapter. No, sir. It's just a… figment of your imagination. Combined with… poor math skills. Yep, that was it was. Oh, and did I mention time dilation? That, too.
In the last chapter of The World Entire: Progeny… Adam storms Primatech, but he's not as villainous as he seems. In fact, he's Mohinder's brother-in-law. Monica comes for a visit, and to retrieve her wayward brother. Elle visits her men. Micah uncovers secrets about the Sixers' pasts that anger Peter and Claire. Barbara fears Evie's absence isn't an unplanned vacation, and Molly can't find her, but does realize that something bad is happening.
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Chapter 11: The Great Attractor
A Prussian astronomer watches the sun rise and fall. A German math teacher draws spheres inside of geometric figures. An apple falls from a tree onto the head of English academic. A German professor imagines riding on a beam of light. It seems like there is one topic of study which draws in the heavy thinkers like gravity: gravity. The sheer notion that every object, every atom in our universe is drawn towards every other atom, is staggering. We cannot escape the reality that there is no buffering ourselves from the rest of the world. Or that the world cannot buffer itself from us. Some of us are small objects, orbiting larger objects. Some of us are those larger objects, great attractors that shape the world around us in awe-inspiring and chaotic ways. Some of us are like binary stars, caught in a cosmological dance with those that we cannot escape. One day, perhaps, science will arrive at a Theory of Everything, which will define how the entire universe works, no matter the scale. We have to look no further than our own lives to believe this true.
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Hartsdale, New York
March 31, 2029
Molly picked herself up off the floor. Monica helped Molly get situated in the chair. She then proceeded to hold her badge to Molly's computer, allowing her to call in Peter and Claire from the Medical department, who moments later rushed in. Claire immediately took Molly's wrist to measure her pulse. Peter took hold of her chin and examined her eyes.
"Peter, Claire, while I appreciate your sentiment, I can assure you I'm fine."
Peter ignored her deflection, "Did you have lunch today? Any recent weight loss?"
"I wish," Molly replied, "And I did eat lunch—chicken salad—thank you very much. I just…" Her eyes turned to the monitor on the back wall. Peter and Claire followed them before Molly could avert her gaze. They noticed the Project 6 directory open.
"It's the Sixers," Peter noted as a dreaded certainly rather than a question.
Claire leapt up resolutely. "Have you contacted Gabriel and Noah yet?"
"No, I…" Molly tried to answer.
Peter asked, "Where are they?"
Peter persisted, his voice filling with worry, "Molly, you're not acting like yourself. I'm expecting frontline general. Is it the Sixers or isn't it?"
Molly remained silent.
Peter was at the monitor, linking into the communication program, and alerting Gabriel and Noah of the Sixer Alert.
Claire and Peter walked out the door, leading Molly to chase them. She called out forcefully, "Wait just a second. I'm the Sixer Team lead, and I haven't given the order to go in."
Peter, incredulous, remarked, "Molly, I'm confused. This is what we've been planning for, right? It's the big fight with the Sixers? Lives in danger?"
Claire jerked her head in Molly's direction, "How can there be a 'but'? Where are they?" Molly didn't reply immediately. "Molly," Claire pressed.
"Madison Square Garden."
It was then that Gabriel and Noah, who just met up with them in the hall, stopped dead.
"What is it?" Peter asked his brother.
"There's a Rangers game tonight. The place will be packed," remarked Noah.
"This changes things," Gabriel explained, walking again, with Claire, Peter, and Noah following him, with Molly again racing to catch up, "we were working around the scenario that it would be a public place with a lot of people, but a stadium is a contingency we didn't plan on. We weren't worried about the difficulty in containing COF because it's short-range. These people will be jam-packed in an area with relatively few exits."
"Hold up!" Molly declared, "we're not going in."
Peter was aghast, "We have to."
"The team's not ready."
"We've been preparing."
At this point, they reached the locker room. The four agents moved to each corner of the room and began to undress.
"You guys have been preparing. You think you're it? You think that I'd sent four Specials—admittedly four extremely powerful ones—in alone? You were the front line. There needs to be at least one more team going in behind you." At this point, seeing her agents weren't bothering with modesty, she spun around.
"Another team? No one but us can survive COF," Claire noted.
Molly turned her head to reply. "We were working on containment suits. And long-range weapons. I hope I'm not disappointing anyone, but you four are the tip of the iceberg that is Project Six. We are not ready." She then caught more than she wanted to see of Noah, so she turned back around and faced the door.
"We have to be," Gabriel remarked, fully suited.
Molly sighed in agreement, "Alright, alright. But let's not forget that this is my op. The four of you have a history of going into situations half-cocked." Molly pulled out her phone, "First thing, I'm going to get police and fire on this."
"We can't let them in," Claire pointed out.
Without missing a beat, Molly agreed, "And we won't. It was always in the battle plan to have them seal and man the exits. We'll give 'em some phony story about hazard chemicals. Now, let's work on your entry." Pulling the team outside of the locker room, Molly placed her badge in front of a monitor and dialed for Agent Arrangement. "Barbara, you're gonna have to put the search for Evie on hold. We need identities to get a team of four in. It's Project Six."
On screen, Barbara nodded and pressed a button on a second monitor, sending four ID images on screen. Molly reviewed them, "Peter, Claire, you'll be taking AMB1." Peter and Claire nodded severely. "Gabriel, Noah, POL1." Gabriel let a smile out, but Noah remained as severe as his uncle and cousin. "Misha will get you there before the real entourage. Suit up. You've got five minutes."
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Micah and Hannah
Hartsdale, New York
March 31, 2029
Inside Micah's office, Micah and Hannah stared at computer monitors. The former was sitting at his desk and the latter on the floor. Their identical screens showed a simple explorer window with an ever growing list of files.
Hannah sighed with boredom and remarked, "Micah, this is like watching paint dry. In reverse."
"You wanted to help out. I thought you'd be honored. No one else gets to filter through classified data. This is top secret stuff."
"So what? You didn't bring me in until your little program finished decoding the Project Six files. This is probably nothing but XXX-filled search histories and mediocre secret agent novels."
"People writing novels on company time would use it as an escape. We actually have secret agents here. It's probably sci-fi alien stuff."
"Color me intrigued," Hannah noted dryly.
"I'll have you know this little program I wrote analyzes data on a heuristic level to determine its file type by its structure alone."
"We've had programs like that for forty years. Plus, Primatech uses an internal file system that you designed; it has file type information in the header and null-point EOF delimiters."
Micah remained speechless.
"I'm a smart girl, Micah. Don't worry; your job is safe. That's the extent of my knowledge about your computer system. You know us empaths. We're jacks-of-all-trade."
The wall monitor closest to the door beeped, alerting Micah that he was being summoned by Molly, a red message indicating it was urgent. He rushed from his desk and opened the video conference window. Molly was calling through her mobile, stating, "Project Six is in active engagement. I need you yesterday."
Micah nodded and curtly told Hannah, "Watch the file decoder while I'm gone. Smart girl like you should be able to troubleshoot any issues."
"You got it, Boss," Hannah replied with a mock salute.
Thirty seconds after Micah walked out the door, the decoder spat out another file, which a window identified as an image file, which was inside a folder labeled "Rossi Project." Hannah's curiosity got the better of her and she opened the file.
"Huh, when was Aunt Claire ever—" Hannah's comment stopped dead when her eyes noticed the image's metadata. The Rossi folder filled with more files, which Hannah began to open as they appear, each one causing her face to turn whiter and her hands to shake even more.
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Madison Square Garden
March 31, 2029
A white ambulance appeared out of nowhere in shadows of the Meyers Parking Garage. It quietly pulled out of the exit and then turned on its lights and siren. In the front seat, Peter Petrelli, wearing an EMT uniform made a left turn onto 31st Street and headed toward Madison Square Garden, less than a block away. In the back of the vehicle was Claire Bennet, putting on a similar uniform over her body armor.
One block north, a police cruiser appeared in the exit of the parking garage for the Hotel Pennsylvania. Gabriel and Noah Gray, in police uniforms, drove onto the street and made their way to the arena.
The outside of Madison Square Garden was uninhabited, but there was an ominous feeling in the air. Ushers raced out of the front doors, only to meet two cops and two paramedics.
Gabriel spoke to one of the ushers, a man in his seventies, "That walkie-talkie on?"
"Yeah," the nodded.
"Good. Get the rest of your people outside and lock these doors. We'll go in and get things under control. There should be an FBI agent here shortly, name of Jenny Kirk."
The usher nodded quickly. As the foursome walked in the door, the usher shouted out a question, "How'd you get here so fast?"
Gabriel paused for a long time, nearly caught, "This is the NYPD, buddy."
The usher actually saluted. "God bless you, son."
"God bless you," Gabriel replied.
As they approached the ice rink, the noise level rose dramatically. The team couldn't yet see inside the arena, but they heard the screams of terror. Claire made a hard turn toward the stairs. Peter raced around to the other side, which Gabriel and Noah divided, spacing themselves out near the exits.
As he walked, Peter relayed through a com in his ear, "Molly, this is Peter, we're in position."
"Okay," Molly's voice sounded from the earpiece, "there's no room for error here; you four are all we've got, so stick to the plan."
Claire walked along the scaffolding, high above the ice rink. She peered down, noting four figures. "Molly, this Claire, I've got confirmation of the Sixers. It looks like COF has already infected a lot of people. They're trying to rush the exits. Boys, what are you seeing?"
Noah answered, "The exits have been blocked by the fire doors. I can't open them but there's always the 'manual' release."
"Don't," Molly voice came over the com. "We need to contain the outbreak. COF takes at 24 hours to kill, so we can work it from there. The last thing we need is the Sixers flying into a mad panic. Claire, I can sense Appleby in there; do you have a visual?"
"Yeah," Claire replied, "it's not easy, though. She's wearing all white."
Appleby was dressed more for a shopping trip on Fifth Avenue than for a hockey game; her outfit consisted of an ivory blouse and white pants under a cream overcoat. Her hair was done in an elaborate bun, held in place by a gold coronet band. A white purse, adorned with the black Sagittarius logo, was hanging on her arm.
Appleby was ordering around the other three. She directed Seuss to the cowering masses. He didn't do much but walk through the aisles, but a dozen fistfights started in his wake. A mosh pit erupted as he passed behind the home team's box. He walked slowly, letting blood spattered on his red polo and white chinos. A man with a cut on his cheek landed on him, and Seuss was forced to wipe the blood off of his arm, revealing a tattoo: a red maple leaf superimposed over two cross swords.
"Do the other team," Appleby remarked dully, pointing to the visiting team. She was uninterested in the fights, instead looking around as if waiting for some sort of sign.
Seuss looked up at the team, in their blue and white jersey, and flatly refused, "I ain't messing with my Leafs. They're my home team."
Appleby surveyed the brawling Rangers, noting, "Who do you think they were?" She turned around without waiting for an answer, asking Wilson Chow if he was enjoying himself.
Chow, dressed in ripped black jeans, a threadbare black concert tee-shirt for the band Lady Justice, and well worn-in black high-tops, didn't respond, just slid his right hand along the floor, watching it explode in puffs of air, throwing debris at the fearful audience. Lying on the ground, dead or unconscious, were security guards with missing limbs and cavities in their torsos, which Chow went out of his way to avoid looking at.
Joseph Ghali just stood at the edge of the rink, looking up at the cowering masses, who stared at him as if he were a monster. He muttered to himself in a British-tinged Egyptian accent, sadly, "They must think that I'm a terrorist."
Like Appleby, he was well dressed, clad in a mint green silk button-up shirt and brown slacks adorned with a skull belt buckle. Still talking to himself, he muttered, "I've never it seen it spread so quickly."
Appleby overheard, "So it's going well?"
"'Well' is a relative term. I do wish we knew the rest of the plan…"
Before Appleby had a chance to respond, she was knocked over by Claire landing on top of her, injecting her with a syringe. The large hole in Claire's neck, along with the dozens of injuries she sustained in the fall, quickly healed.
"So, Molly, what was the point of that?"
Outside in the parking lot, Molly replied, "It's an evolutionary thing. Humans don't instinctively look for dangers above them." She got some strange looks from the police. She flashed her fake FBI badge again, and they pretended to be interested in other things. The captain made another call, which was answered by Micah on his intercept phone, who was sitting in the passenger seat of Molly's Mamixa, pretending to be dispatch at the FBI's New York office.
Before the Sixers had a chance to get over their shock concerning the flying girl, Noah, Peter, and Gabriel all leapt through the glass onto emptied sections of the stadium seating.
Molly's voice came through the com, "I'm not sensing any drowsiness in Appleby. Did you sedate her?"
Claire sheepishly replied, "Change of plans, boss. I actually injected her with an ability suppressant Mohinder derived from Shanti blood."
There was radio silence while Noah, in an attempt to reach Seuss, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the dozens of rage-maddened hockey fans who Seuss incited to keep the indestructible agent away from him. The veteran kept a soldier's fighting stance, though.
Molly's voice returned, "That's a brilliant plan. But why keep me in the dark?"
"Said the pot to the kettle."
"Touché. How much of the suppressant do you have?"
"Just two doses," Claire answered.
"Okay, but no more surprises."
"In that case," Noah remarked, taking a break from his attempts to move and not maim the mob of crazies attacking him, "I have to apologize in advance."
"Noah, what are you talking about?" Molly scolded.
Noah didn't reply, just went back to pushing his way through the belligerent crowd while breaking as few bones as possible.
"Gabriel, what is your son up to?"
"Beats me, boss," Gabriel noted as he telekinetically tossed Chow across the room. Chow pulled out a gun in his left hand and picked up a box of Cracker Jacks in the other, which quickly morphed into a second firearm and started shooting Gabriel, who rushed him, hoping to get hit by as many bullets as he could, rather than let any strays hit the crowds.
He got close enough to grab him, but Chow laid his hand on Gabriel's arm, causing it to explode off. Though it regrew a moment later, Chow was successful in getting himself released. Gabriel seethed, "You'll have to do better than that."
Chow touched the ground between Gabriel's legs, causing an explosion that threw the agent backwards.
Peter faced down Ghali, holding out a tranq gun. Ghali stared back, unmoved. "You're not firing," he observed, "which means that you're not confident in your aim. I don't know what you don't get closer, improve your chances of hitting me. Oh, yes, I do. You know I'm the Plague. You're not sure how close you can get and not get infected. To tell you the truth, neither do I. I'm assuming you're Special. He said the people who'd come after us would be. So, whatever your trick is, it's not going to help you, is it?"
"On the contrary, I do have something up my sleeve." He released the gun, which floated in the air rather than falling. It fired on its own, the improperly aimed dart flew past Ghali's head, looped back around, and stopped an inch away from his forehead. "The reason I'm delaying is…" Peter taunted.
Appleby fell onto the ice, unconscious. A few feet away, Claire put her outstretched leg down. She tossed a syringe over toward Peter. Not thrown far enough, it would have smashed to pieces on the ice had it not floated through the air and impaled Ghali in the arm.
"…I needed the right juice," Peter remarked, "you see, we don't want to put you to sleep, we want to defang you." The dart, which was hovering near Ghali's face, swooped down and stuck him in the jugular.
Peter looked up to where Gabriel was grinning, by his side Chow kneeling face-forward, his hands frozen to the ice.
"What?" Gabriel defended himself, "what stops us from defanging and putting him to sleep? Speaking of which, Claire Bear, why not just tranq Mrs. Prissy-Pants?"
"You can't become too reliant on your powers."
"Says the girl whose ability prevents her from losing a fight," Noah protested through the throngs of violent spectators that had all but dog-piled him to the ground.
Peter grabbed his tranq gun from where it was still floating in the air and shot a dart at Seuss, whose attention was focused on keeping Noah at bay. After a moment, the spectators became less and less vicious until the finally released Noah, muttering apologies as their anger dissipated.
"You've got a gun, Noah," Peter chastised his nephew.
Noah pulled out both a tranquilizer pistol and his sidearm.
"That was easy," Gabriel remarked, noting their adversaries were all disposed of.
"Too easy," Peter added.
"Don't say that, Uncle Pete," Noah yelled, "Don't you ever watch movies?"
"He's right, Peter," Claire noted, "our job's less than half down. We've still got a stadium full of people." She pointed up at the crowds, who were just as frightened by the agents as they were of the Sixers, and many of them were ill with the effects of Ghali's infection. "Gabriel, Peter, could you send me to the announcer box. I need to calm down these people, let them know what—" Claire's instructions were cut off mid-sentence as she had a coughing fit which knocked her to the ground.
"I was too close to Ghali when I—" she whispered hoarsely.
Peter announced into his com, "Molly, it's Claire; she's…"
"I know," Molly cut him off, "I can feel it. I want you all to get as far away from Claire as you can. We'll work up a solution from here."
Gabriel and Noah followed the command, though Noah grabbed the syringe from Ghali's neck as he passed. Peter, on the other hand, ran to hold Claire's weakening body.
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March 31, 2029
There were twelve monitors on the walls of Micah's office, and six more sitting on his desk. Everyone of them was being used by Hannah, who had pulled up dozens of files from the notebook computer on the floor.
She sat on the floor, in tears, shaking, holding a tablet computer dispalying a single image of Claire Bennet from 2012, seven months pregnant.
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Madison Square Garden
March 31, 2029
"What are our options?" Peter cried over the com, holding Claire in his arms.
"I'm not dead yet," Claire tried to joke.
"We're setting up a mobile clean room as we speak," Molly replied, "I'll have Misha teleport Claire out of there and we'll irradiate her."
Claire rolled herself off of Peter's arms and began to hack up various organs.
"Don't bother," Noah proclaimed. He then proceeded to swoop in and inject Claire in the arm with a syringe of what appeared to be blood.
"What was that?" Peter cried. Molly echoed Peter's question.
"Antibodies for COF."
"There's no such thing," Peter replied, "No one's survived long enough to produce them."
"I did," Noah replied. After a pause, he added, "Well, rather, I didn't survive. Long story short, I injected myself the other night. I died. I came back. Now my blood is magic like hers."
Peter let out a sigh of relief. Molly started screaming through the com, causing all the agents to switch their coms off. Peter hugged his nephew. "You should have let me and Claire help you. How'd you even figure out how to test your blood for the antibodies?"
"Huh? Yeah, I was just playing a hunch. I just assumed I'd adapt antibodies." His voice trailed off as he watch Claire continue to vomit.
Peter's face drop and he ran to Claire, who held up a hand. "It's okay. He assumed right. I can feel my body overwhelming the COF. Don't expect these quick results on the rest of them, though." After wiping herself off the best she could, Claire turned her com on, where Molly was still giving a lecture, and cut her off, "Molly, Noah was right. Set up that clean room and put about twenty injection kits in. Have Misha teleport Peter into it to collect the supplies and teleport him back here. We'll start inoculating the infected. Get some ambulances. These people will need a few days to recover."
Noah turned on the com and requested, "Since I'll be donating gallons of blood here, could you put a couple of snacks in there? A couple of large carnivore pizzas from Zatta's Pizza, extra mushrooms. Maybe a case or two of various snack cakes. We're inside a stadium, so there's pretty much unlimited popcorn, pretzels, and hotdogs, so don't bother with that. Ooh, and an apple."
"An apple?" Gabriel remarked with amusement.
"I'm trying to eat healthier," Noah replied.
"Well, it looks like the crowd has calmed down." The hockey fans were no longer clawing at each other trying to get out, but were still eyeing the agents warily.
Gabriel noted, "Well, while they're still calm, let's proceed with the cover story and get the infected some help."
There were four distinct pops in rapid succession, accompanied by four spurts of blood from the bodies of the Sixers. Peter and Claire rapidly ran to Appleby and Ghali to investigate. Noah and Gabriel took defensive position, pulling out firearms.
Gabriel screamed over the com, "Molly, we have shots fired. Targets are the Sixers. All four appear to be hit."
"How many shooters?" Molly asked.
"No visual," Gabriel responded, scanning the arena, "there's no way one person shot all four of these people. The bullets would have had to have come from different directions. Theory One: The subject could have superspeed, but must have had expert aim, too. Theory Two: A professional hit squad…"
"Save it for later," Molly instructed, "the Sixers?"
"I don't feel a pulse," Peter remarked with his fingers on Ghali's neck. He noted the hole above Ghali's heart, where a large pool of deep crimson was staining the front of his shirt.
"The same with Appleby," Claire remarked, turning over the woman and finding no damage to the back of her blouse. "No exit wound."
"Don't bother," Molly's voice relayed over the com, "they're gone. I can't feel them. Noah, Gabriel, find those shooters."
Peter studied the wound on Ghali's chest carefully, "Claire, this isn't an entry wound. This is an exit wound."
"How do you have an exit wound with no entry wound?"
Gabriel replied immediately, "Small explosive devices inside the chest. I'm the only one who would notice, but they spoke of a second party who wasn't present. Appleby may have been leading this team, but they've got a boss."
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Alex and Monica
March 31, 2029
"I can't reach Molly," was the first thing Monica said as she walked into the door of Alex Woolsly's office.
"Good evening to you to, Miss Dawson," Alex replied.
"This is serious. I can't get a hold of her."
"If you can't reach Molly, it means she has an important project she can't be disturbed."
"She'll want to be disturbed for this. You're a department head; it means you can get through in an emergency."
"I'm the HR Head. That's a technicality."
"Look at this," she shoved a flash drive at Alex, who sighed at tapped his screen, allowing the wireless connection to grab the data off the drive.
"What am I looking at?" he asked.
"The largest corpus that has ever been assembled."
"Wait a second," Alex remarked, adjusting his glasses, "I know this grouping of files. Those are all missing employee cases." He flipped through files, "They must go back fifteen years. This many? That's gotta be most, if not all, of the unsolved agent disappearances. What's the crux group?"
"No crux group. A single file is the link between all of these files."
"Gideon Davenport," Alex read, "how is he connected to all these people?"
"He's an anti-Special minister. I investigated him back in 2012. I requisitioned a web skimmer to watch his address changes. For the past seventeen years, they correspond perfectly with the disappearances of Specials. I think this guy is responsible for 95 percent of all disappeared Specials in the last two decades."
"That's impossible," Alex replied, "that program is not foolproof."
"I included the building plans for all his houses. I dug up some old psych profiles. I included congregation lists for his churches. Everything points to him. He's even sent up a dozen red flags in Project Six."
"How could we have missed this?"
"I don't know. I don't care. Now, can you call Molly?"
"Watch me," Alex replied, dialing on his screen.
Molly replied viciously, "This better be important, Alex. Project Six is blowing up in my face."
"Miss Dawson has uncovered what seems to be a major conspiracy. It relates to Project Six somehow."
"I don't know," Monica answered through Alex's connection, "all I know is I want to go to this address: 1910 Laughlin Lane in Montauk."
Molly didn't reply for a long time.
"Molly, I don't think you understand the importance."
"Go," she replied softly, "go now. Take help. We'll be there soon. And Monica…"
"Hurry. Your brother and Evie are there."
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A/N: So, it appears I can't write dramatic action. It's got to have an edge of comedy to it. Oh, well, you know what they say, it's always darkest before it goes pitch black. Consider yourself warned.
Started 5/2/2010. Finished 8/7/2010.