Season 3, Episode 1: New Directions
... and now over to Jeff for the latest breaking news.
Thanks, Cindy. Well, as you can see behind me, there is quite an uproar. Not ten minutes ago, there was a massive explosion right here in Tucson. Witnesses are saying that just after 1:00, the doors burst open and hundreds of people came running out of the building. Barely a minute later, the bottom three floors of the Rossum building were subjected to a massive explosion. Police are currently rounding up those that escaped the building before the incident, as firefighters search for any survivors that may still be inside.
January 20th, 2010: 7:00 pm
The Rossum Corporation center in LA lay dormant. All the lights were extinguished, all the doors were locked and closed. Since closing time at 6:00, no one had entered or exited the building. No one until now.
Three figures snuck along the outer wall, carefully avoiding the video cameras installed around the perimeter. As they reached the front doors, the tallest of the three reached into his jacket and pulled out a crowbar.
"Wait! Halt the gratuitous violence, man-friend, and think for a sec," the smaller man ordered. "You smash the glass, the alarm goes off. The alarm goes off, and Rossum knows we're here." He chuckled nervously." Now, instead of going all Bruce Banner 'Hulk Smash!' on me, howsabout you use that magnificent machine in your cranium and think for a second!"
"Right then, Topher, what do you suggest?"
The genius grinned for a moment, before pulling a key out of his pocket.
"A little unorthodox, I know, but-"
The woman who stood beside him grabbed it from his hand, quickly inserting it into the key hole and opening the door. The trio trouped single-file into the building, and made a short sprint for the elevator at the far end. Pushing the button, they waited for the doors to open. The man turned towards Topher.
"When we get down there, our top priority is the cameras. First thing, you get to a computer and shut them down. Dewitt sent us first because you know the passwords, but the others will be arriving soon and it would be nice if we had that done before then."
Topher cleared his throat nervously, before saying, "Yeah, okay, but – and I know I've asked this before – Victor-"
"Tony, then – why exactly are we coming back here? Isn't this the first place Rossum will look?"
The doors dinged, signalling the arrival of the elevator car. Entering, Tony pressed the button labelled "B3"- the third level of the basement.
"We've been watching the news, and monitoring any correspondence on the Rossum server, but, Topher, no one has even mentioned us. I don't think they suspect we had anything to do with the explosion, so we should be safe," the woman said.
"Priya's right," Tony said. "We split up, going into different directions, and no one followed us. It's been a week, Topher, and Dewitt wants us to come together again to plan. We go to the Dollhouse, regroup, and plan our next move."
"Mmm, very Cavern of Solitude, except, you know, without the solitude cuz there's going to be six of us, instead of one single Blue Boy Scout."Topher paused for a moment, fidgeting with his sweater vest, then asked, "Do you think they're all okay?"
As the doors opened a second time, allowing them to enter the basement, there was no answer. Each person was, for a minute, surrounded by a bubble of anxiety : fear for their friends, fear for their family, and fear for themselves. This silence remained as they made their way towards the emergency exit staircase.
Pulling a key card from her pocket, Priya slid it through the sensor before opening the door. They descended the stairs quickly. For the moment, there was nothing to fear- the video feeds from the cameras in the basement were only accessible from Adelle Dewitt's office and the guards of the main building, all of whom were off for the night. The bosses at Rossum had no access to the footage from the building itself. The minute they entered the dollhouse itself, however, the cameras were open for the higher-ups at Rossum to access. It was imperative that Topher shut off that feed as quickly as possible.
Reaching the bottom of the staircase, they entered the sub-basement. This was the unofficial basement accessible only to Dollhouse employees. Their first stop was at the Handler's weapon cache, where Priya and Anthony immediately overruled Topher's protests that he should get a gun, too- then, armed, Tony led the other two towards the door that would allow them to enter the inner sanctum.
Putting the key card to use once again, they opened the door. What followed was a mad dash towards the programming room. Taking the right fork in the upper walkway, Topher threw open the door and attacked the computer from the imprinting room. Fingers flying madly, he explained breathlessly what he was doing.
"There are eight cameras in the Dollhouse. All of them can be shut down permanently, but not all at once- it's a security measure Dom insisted on. Each camera has a separate key code, and they have to be deactivated one at a time. And here...we...go!"
"Camera one is down!" One of the screens affixed above Topher's computers fizzled and died.
"That's number two- and three..."
"Four is out!"
"Five geese a-laying."
"Six! Six cameras out!"
The elevator doors swung open and Adelle Dewitt, complete with entourage and an unconscious Claire Saunders, marched in.
"Eight is a go! All cameras successfully disab- oh, my God, tell me you didn't just walk in here."
Adelle brushed through the door followed by Echo/Caroline, as Paul ran down to the office normally inhabited by Dr. Saunders, when she was in her right mind and not trying to use Topher's tech to end the world. Topher watched for a second as Paul lay Saunders down on her own examining table, before snapping to attention. Adelle was calling his name.
"Topher, would you please explain what you mean? Yes, we just walked in here, you saw us quite clearly!"
"Heh, yeah, see, the thing is, camera eight was still up. I know, I know, it only captures the atrium, but you might have been in the corner of the shot. If the big guys up at Rossum suspect us, and find out we're here, then we aren't safe."
Priya sighed. "Alright then, we have a problem. Can you check the footage, see if the camera did catch them?"
"No can do, my Australian friend. Delete the camera, delete the footage, on this end, at least. Our computers don't have the kind of capacity required to save as they shut down unless I do it manually. Rossum's might, though."
Adelle shrugged as Paul entered the imprinting room. "I suppose there is nothing we can do about it, then. However, Topher, double your watch on any Rossum communication: we need to know if there is a chance they notice our whereabouts. If we are found out, we will need to make a quick escape, so, everyone, take fifteen minutes to grab anything you would need to bring."
Paul took his turn addressing the group. "Take only what you need. The less we have to carry, the quicker we can move, and that's essential. Anthony, Priya, Caroline, you won't have any personal belongings, so stop by the wardrobe to grab stuff to wear. Anthony, when you're done, meet me by the handler's quarters; we're gonna need an arsenal."
"Topher, grab whatever tech you think we'll need," Caroline said. "It's likely Rossum will send Doll's after us if they think we're implicated in the explosion, so we'll need your knock-out signal-"
"Sure. Don't go overboard though. We have the van for now, but we may need to switch cars at some point, so nothing too large. Alright, people, disperse."
Topher chuckled. "Sure thing, Echoline."
"Oh, and Topher," Adelle paused, as though considering the benefits and disadvantages of her next action. With a sign she came to a decision, and handed over a plain envelope, with the name 'Topher Brink' inscribed in block letters upon it. "This was in the lobby. Use your discretion, and be wary. We don't know who this is from, but I thought you had the right to have it."
Adelle left the room, heading back up to the elevator.
Topher compared his options. To open, or not to open? He had learnt already not to trust large, plain envelopes- they could contain sketches of you sleeping, or dead fish, or a photo of a pretty girl to start you on an endless, and certainly hopeless, crusade. None of these had ever happened to him personally, but in his time at the Dollhouse he had come to believe anything was possible.
Whistling a tune, he ripped open the envelope as he entered his center of command, flopping mindlessly down on his couch as he peered down into the envelope. A chip? Some kind of hard driv-
Squeezing his eyes shut, he stood up. Blindly, he turned around until he was facing it, then with a breath, he opened them.
With a thud, Topher's knees crumpled beneath him.
AN: Hey guys! Sorry for the delay, but I have season one all mapped out now (mostly) so there shouldn't be as much of a wait next time.
Here's an ignorant question for my readers from the grand old US of A, because as one of your northern neighbours, I know nothing (alliteration, yay!). How does an American election work? I need details, my friends! Campaign, debates, all that jazz. I followed the Obama/McCain election, but I don't remember much of it anymore, and it's important to the plot.
Also, for anyone with any knowledge of med school: How would one specialize in neuroscience? Topher said he'd been to med school, but he seems more likely to have gotten a degree as a neurologist, so I need to understand how that works: how long it takes, what kind of courses, etc.