2007-07-28: Freedom Of Speech


DFNathan_icon.gif DFCyprus_icon.gif DFRudyard_icon.gif

Summary: A live broadcast from the Oval Office ends in a different kind of terrorist attack.

Dark Future Date: July 28, 2009

Freedom of Speech

Washington, DC - The White House

There was a time when Presidents could make their speeches on public podiums without the continued risk of security breaches. It's the year 2009 and today, it's not a chance people are willing to take. It's not so much a risk as it is a certainty, anymore. But there are better ways of getting a message across. One of those is this.

It's nearing 1 o'clock, the time at which the short speech will be broadcast across America from the safety of the Oval Office. Cameras have been set up, personnel stand by anxiously, security both in uniform and out keep a close eye on their surroundings. Less tense than most is Nathan Petrelli, walking down a corridor within the White House, dressed as can only be expected in a suit and tie. He's flanked by men dressed similarly, both security and staff alike, and he holds out a hand for someone to pass him the finalised speech. "I know for a fact I'm not late," he's saying. "It's not like they can start without me, now can they."

"Of course not, Mr. President," offers Cyprus, handing Nathan a small stack of papers as he walks alongside him. "This is the final version, sir. I don't think there are any surprises." He stops for a second, and glances down at it once more, then back up at Nathan. "Well, no unplanned surprises, sir." He keeps his pace with the rest of the well-dressed men, and he lifts his wrist to check the watch. "We should have everything set up and ready to go. No technical snags.

"Thanks," Nathan takes the sheaths of paper, and is the first to push open the door and into the office. "We'll keep surprises for when we're not going live." Those that are seated stand on arrival, but Nathan mostly ignores the room as he moves towards his desk. "They got this on the teleprompter too?" He tosses the pages on to the desk, and takes his seat behind it, a woman coming up to make sure his tie, suit, everything in place. It doesn't take a hell of a lot of set up - no one's inclined to keep him waiting. A woman with headphones signals when the cameras are live, and he begins.

Cyprus nods, and moves into a position behind the wall of cameras and before the set. "We're all set to go," he comments before it goes live. He gives quick smile. "Knock 'em dead, sir." And with that, he steps back and watches the show.

"We interrupt your scheduled programming for this broadcast live from the White House." A typical image. President Nathan Petrelli is seated at his desk in the Oval Office, staring seriously down the camera. "When I think back to the war that tore apart New York City, my home as well as the home of countless citizens, I no longer feel anger towards those that caused it. I only feel sadness for those that were driven to strike out as they did. Because it is out of misunderstanding and intolerance that their hand was forced, and as President of the United States, it is my duty to this country to ensure that this will never happen again." His hand touches the sheets of paper in front of him briefly, before he continues.

"During my campaign, I made a decision to be honest with America. That I wouldn't hide what I was to the people I intended to lead. I announced that I had the ability to fly. I believe that my subsequent election was a message from America - that the Evolved wanted a leader. They wanted hope. They wanted to believe that good could come from people like them. It is with this message in my heart that such recent decisions have been made, and I believe that only the unpatriotic, that only the hateful, could possibly stand in my way."

"A good leader has an obligation to protect his people, as well as an obligation to better them. To the Humans of America, I speak to you now: cooperation is its own reward, and to rebel against the laws of our country is to rebel against the freedom such laws preserve. I am a father and a husband, and I would protect this country as I would protect my own family. Rebellion will not be tolerated."

"I ask that all of us, Evolved and Human, remember the values of America and America's people in the wake of disaster. We are a country of progress, of forward movement. We are a country that recognises it's own strength." For those watching on TV, something interrupts the picture. A moth, perhaps, skitters across, but is gone in a blink, and President Petrelli gives one final nod to his audience. "We are a country of evolution. Thank you."

Outside the White House, a few blocks away, as close as he can get to the building, Rudyard has been waiting. Clad in a rather normal appearing and smart business suit, he blends with the normal commuters coming and going in this part of DC. The man has been preparing for the right moment, which is now. He raises a finger to press against the earbud nestled in his ear as he listens to the radio..

As soon as he does this, coming up from the floor of the Oval Office, every nook and cranny available, it is found, comes an invasion.. An invasion of Gromphadorhina portentosa.. more commonly known as the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. The roaches swarm their way up onto the President's desk while termites attack from within. Hundreds of the insects, varying in length from 2 to 3 inches swarm, every last one of them hissing. From the ceiling, several Brown Recluse spiders drop themselves on the staff of the Oval Office, and it's not just to say 'hello'. While the Recluse work, more harmless spiders work on weaving messages of protest within the halls of the White House.

Cyprus waits for the applause to die down just a bit before approaching the desk once the cameras are no longer live. He doesn't join in the applause, but he does have a cheerful smirk on his face. "So, what part do you think will get aired the most on the news?" he asks with just a hint of a grin. "The part about strength, or the…" And then the bugs start coming out of the walls. "Jesus Christ!" shouts Cyprus, snatching a stack of papers and holding them over his head. His other hand is out to Nathan. "Nathan! Let's get out of here!"

Nathan is prepared for most things. Being President of this country during these times will guarantee this. But this… yeah this is a surprise. He stares in disbelief as black and brown shapes scurry across the beautiful Resolute desk, squirming white insects starting to make gaps and holes in the surface, and he's the last one to move… just as a large cricket of some kind drops onto his arm. It's… it's a weta. As he backhands it away, the large insect flying across the room, one has to wonder: don't those only live in New Zealand? No matter. He stands up quick enough to knock his chair over, twitching away from the descending spiders and fluttering 'roaches. "Christ, are these poisonous?" he asks, slapping the back of his neck when something bites him, other hand pushing Cyprus's arm aside, totally onto the whole getting out of here thing now. "Where's security?"

Taking a second to thwack a rather large beetle from crawling up his arm with the roll of papers, Cyprus steps backwards quickly, retracting the hand. There are crunches and squicks from under foot, and he doesn't look down. "I don't know?" he protests quickly, though to what question it's not clear. He takes aim for a spider that gets too close, and starts brushing away thick bodied flies from his pantsleg. He glances around the room after taking out the spider. Escape seems to be the primary objective.

From his position outside, Rudyard smiles to himself, catching the tail end of the audio feed and the subsequent chaos. The Oval Office isn't the only part of the White House to be attacked. Oh no. The whole building finds itself under siege from insects that are native to the Tidal Basin, and some that aren't. Casually, he turns to walk away from the White House as if another tourist. As he walks, he's sending out another call to arms…

Nathan is prepared to treat every single insect and spider like it's poisonous, regardless. Though there's nothing really to shoot at, security has at least one mission - get the heck out of dodge. "Mr. President," someone in a suit says, crunching his way over and gripping Nathan's arm. "We're evacuating."

"My son?" Nathan asks. Yes, just the one. No mention of a wife, either. The man-in-black simply nods his confirmation that Simon Petrelli is being taken care of, and Nathan steps over a fallen tripod to make his way out.

Meanwhile? Chaos. Evacuation is not so simple. Security is doing what it should, but there's always another variable. As Nathan, Cyprus, and a few other White House staff are escorted down the hallways, he catches sight of a few of the webs now hanging from the hallway ceiling-corners, and they read buzzwords and statements that have been floating around amongst the rebels and terrorists. Great.

Cyprus scratches at something on the back of his neck and looks up at the phrases on the webs. He shakes his head, and scowls. "Great, terrorists who use bugs," he says. "I really, really hate bugs." He takes a second to rebutton and straighten his jacket, then moves once more to keep up with Nathan. "They are getting bolder, Mr. President." Because stating the obvious is one of those things Cyprus gets paid to do.

"Who, the bugs or the terrorists?" Nathan asks wryly, and— SLAP! He observes the squished bug in the centre of his palm and hastily brushes it off as they half-run down the hallways. "They'll fall into line when the time comes." There's a loud buzzing in the distance, and a security man comes running on down in the opposite direction. Apparently? Bees that way. The group veers down another corridor. "They want to rattle my cage," he murmurs, almost to himself. "They expect me to make speeches from inside a cell, if I can't do it here? No. I'll do it in broad daylight, next time, even if the whole of Homeland Security has to be present for me to do it." A short rant, a murmured rant, and not a strange occurance for those that have worked with the President this term.

Cyprus just shakes his head at the mention of bees, and rubs his temples for a moment. "I am sure we will locate the man responsible for this, sir," he states with a hint of exasperation in his voice. "Shouldn't be too hard. Just find the apartment where the roaches do the chores." He keeps his pace swift and steady to keep up with the evacuation squad, and keeps his eyes on his surroundings. Now is not the time for a random scorpion sting or even a stink bug. "It's possible this was just a rogue attack, sir. We should keep that in mind. Just one man, wanting to make a statement and using your podium to do it."

The evacuation takes longer than they should - literally surrounded, they seek the less dangerous pathways out. "Rogue or not," Nathan says, "they're all the same. They have the same thing to say and whether or not he worked alone, the people will group him with anyone who even remotely agrees with him."

"Sir, there's a car for you. We'll move you to a secure location," the agent says, as they finally step out into sunlight. Sure enough, two black limos with heavily tinted windows have pulled up, one a decoy and one less so.

Nathan opens the door for himself and turns back to Cyprus before they have to go separate ways. He also takes the opportunity to brush off any lasting bugs still clinging to his clothes and hair. "This will leak to the press," he states, with a nod. There were enough media people in that room today to make that a guarantee. "Make sure we try to spin this as an accident, but people will ask questions. I trust you to answer them."

"Of course, sir," replies Cyprus with a swift nod. "You can count on us." He steps back to let Nathan step into the limo. He adjusts his jacket ever so slightly, and smiles. "After all, you do so try to help the unfortunate children, Mr. President. And sometimes, children can do some of the most amazing things, even by accident." He clasps his hands behind his back and maintains that same, steady smile of any practiced aide to the President. It's a smile that could hide warehouses of skeletons without missing a single bone. "Have a pleasant trip, sir."

"We'll be in contact," Nathan says, with a fleeting smirk, before slipping into the car and shutting the door with a sharp click. No exchange occurs between the driver and the President, the limo swiftly pulling away and up the lengthy parking lot. He feels something itch inside his cuff, and a small cockroach crawls out onto the back of his hand. It's not one of those hissing ones - just your garden variety 'roach. With a sigh, he brushes it away, and starts making a phonecall.

As Nathan drives off, the smile fades, and Cyprus pulls out a cellphone. He hits a few buttons, and barks into the phone "Margie? It's Cyprus. Tell Kyle to get the men suited up in biohazard suits, and spray the place clean. And make sure no pictures of the webs get leaked. We probably have a dozen photos from cellphones already. Also, could you be a dear and swing past the shop and pick me up a red eye and a double latte? It's going to be a long night." He pauses a second, and looks up as a pair of dragonflies latched together fly by, and continues. "And get me the last entymologist who worked at the Smithsonian. No, I don't care where he is. Black-bag his entire family, if that's what it takes. I want him in my office yesterday." And with that, he snaps the phone shut, and begins walking towards the rest of the Presidential staff.

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