2010-01-17: The River Styx

Starring:

Anais_V4icon.pngNathan3_V4icon.png

Guest Starring: Agent Hamm (Played By Sero)

Date: January 17, 2010

Summary:

Where were you when everything was falling apart?


"The River Styx"

Building 27 — Governor's Island

It's a cold, windy day in New York City, the sky at once bright and grey; blinding monochromes. The wind is especially sharp here on Upper New York Bay. A ferry moves steadily along, dark choppy water lapping against the sides. In the distance — not so far off — is an island. Governors Island, half a mile from the tip of Manhattan Island. The rough shapes of buildings can be glimpsed, obviously utilitarian even from here. An island with a lot of history. Now it's making more.

"Hope you're not seasick." The rumbling voice of Agent Hamm, an aging, greying, rough-and-tumble man who could easily be a general is directed at the newcomers to the ferry. He is essentially their tour guide for the afternoon. Most tour guides don't wear black, armoured tactical gear, though it is half hidden by a long, tan trench coat. Similarly dressed agents guard the perimeter of the ferry; or maybe they're just on their way to work. A black jet ski leads the way ahead of the vessel, cutting through the bay.

"Once we get there, you'll be put through security," Hamm says. "And get your paper-signin' fingers ready."

Even though the tour is just beginning, the Senator is already intrigued. Putting headquarters on an island is brilliant, at least from a tactical viewpoint. His black Armani suit has been pressed, his white shirt starched, and his solid mustard yellow tie is pristine. He looks more Senatorial than usual, and less Brayden-like with each passing day. Except… his socks, but these can't be seen when he's standing. He's wearing orange and blue striped socks with purple polka dots (begging the question: where did he find such hideous things?!).

He turns to face Agent Hamm. "I don't get motion sickness," Logan's lips quirk into a vicious smirk as he looks ahead to the island. "What exactly can I expect to be signing?" he asks with an arched eyebrow. "And will Ms. Frazier be signing as well?"

Anais is not seasick but she is certainly chilled in spite of anticipating the weather. A grey wool suit is worn under a black wool peacoat, the fire of her hair hidden beneath white knits, both a hat and a scarf doing little to cut the wind. Matching gloves protect her fingers but these are concealed within her pockets for additional warmth. Everything about the woman's usually crisp posture speaks of mild discomfort, from the way she stands in Nathan's lee (to let him take much of the wind) to the way her chin tucks down into the scarf wrapped about her throat.

Let it not be said that Nathan's advisor is not willing to play her part, however. Anais' smile for the agent, from where she stands behind her employer, is polite and genial. But nothing is said, although she waits just as expectantly for Hamm's reply.

"Mhmm. Confidentiality agreements… privacy clauses. Y'understand." Agent Hamm turns away from the Senator and his accompaniment, folding his arms and looking out across the bay, where Governors Island looms. Some fog lurks around the edge, although it is quickly being dispersed by the wind.
Two buildings are the most prominent. Grey structures, solid, prison-like. Entrapped in barbed wire. It's a particularly dismal sight.

The ferry starts to near the egde, where a road awaits.

The dispersing fog, and the sight of the buildings gnaw at Logan's innards. An almost tangible feeling of dread spreads through his thoughts, and the chilly air nips at his extremities. He wonders to himself whether he hasn't just taken the boat down the river Styx, without paying the boatman. A calculating glance is given to Agent Hamm, but it lasts only a moment before the Senator examines the buildings themselves, particularly the prison one. Outwardly, however, his poker face does him well.
His lips quirk into a small smile, "Of course. Operations like these require certain clearances and privacy measures."

"Of course," Anais murmurs, low enough that it might be missed under the sound of wind and water and engine. Her gaze has been caught by those buildings growing larger as the ferry begins its approach of the island. The redhead is doing an admirable job of keeping her thoughts from her face; her expression broadcasts calm interest. "This was an excellent choice of location, I have to say." Her eyes drift briefly towards Nathan's profile, lingering only a moment before returning to the island and its prison. With Hamm's back to them, she allows herself the luxury of a small and quickly concealed frown.

"Naturally, Senator. This particular branch of government has to ensure your trustworthiness." Agent Hamm almost sounds as if he's making a joke, but his deep voice is just a bit too grim.

Used to hold Confederate soldiers here back in the Civil War… became the east coast's Alcatraz after the war. Well— history lesson's over, kids." As the white ferry comes to a halt, rocking slightly, and the ramp rises to meet it, Agent Hamm walks off — toward the island, the grey buildings, the trees that exist in the distance. The other agents follow in Hamm's footsteps several paces behind: taking up the rear behind Nathan and Anais, as protective as they are herding.

* * *

Hamm wasn't kidding. Security check after security check. Worse than an airport. Nearly worse than the Pentagon. Then, paper after paper; clearance after clearance, confidentiality agreement after agreement, fine print times twenty, ID badges given…

And they're in the belly of the beast.

The building is old, but looks as though it's been renovated into a headquarters for the Protocol. It's expansive, dark, full of pipes and exposed wires. Gutted. Metal tables, computers and busy and efficient personnel fill the large space that acts as the centerpoint with various cold hallways leading to other areas of the headquarters. Some of the employees are armed, dressed tactically as they walk by; others are in suits and ties. Agent Hamm, after leading Anais and Nathan here, pauses to let them take it all in. "Welcome to the Alpha Protocol. We like to call this place Building Two-Seven… after Building Two-Six was… compromised."

Obediently, Logan follows through each of the security checks as required. He signs his life away on each of the dotted lines and accepts his ID badge (he'd even managed an easy smile for the photo — it makes it look like he enjoys being here). He peers at the armed employees as they walk by. This is his turf now; he's in charge. His newly found power draws a continued smile from his lips. This is more than he'd hoped. These resources are beyond impressive, and the building itself feels cruel and imposing. "What happened to Building Two-Six?"

At least they aren't being asked to sign in blood. Anais takes the security procedures in stride, not allowing a glimpse of her nerves to be seen as she smiles and reads and signs. After they receive their badges and are led deeper into the complex, the only sign of her unease is the way she occasionally fidgets with the badge while looking around.

Very much the proper (and silent) shadow for her employer. As it should be.

But mention of the original building's problem does bring the woman's focus back to their tour guide. Anais lifts pale eyebrows at the older gentleman. "Compromised," she echoes, the question in that single word backing up Nathan's.

"The targets found it." That seems to be all Agent Hamm has to say on the subject, aside from: "You'll be debriefed extensively later, Senator. My job's to show you around… give you a feel for the building and the operation." Heavy wrists linking behind his back, the older agent strolls through the headquarters, expecting the newcomers to follow.
There are a lot of critical eyes on them.

Agent Hamm happens to wander close to a large bulletin board with many photos and barcodes and names pinned to it under KNOWN THREATS. BISHOP, ELLE. LAWRENCE, CHURCH. CORDAY, CHARLOTTE. GRAY "SYLAR" GABRIEL. GOMEZ, ELENA. NAKAMURA, HIRO. PETRELLI, PETER. PETRELLI, ANGELA. These are only a few.

A column on the side is pinned with similar images and names under the title of NEUTRALIZED: among them, DEREX, JACK. GALLAGHER, KELYSSA. MAH, TRINA. PARKMAN, MATT. STRAUSS, TRACY.

Agent Hamm turns about. "How does it feel to be on the inside? Hope you're a hard worker, Senator Petrelli…"

"Excellent. Well, then lead the way, Agent Hamm," Logan nods as he follows the Agent. His jaw tightens, however, at the bulletin board as he scans the names written on it as quickly as he can manage — taking his gaze from it moments later: these are people he knows. Lots of people he knows. This is hurting his people. Instinctively, Logan unbuttons his suit jacket and slips it off his shoulders, "It's warm in here." It's not an obvious tell, but inside his mind, Logan can feel something slipping, begging to get out. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.

*****

Inside Nathan's subconscious, something is giving. The fog is clearing, and Nathan can see the sky.

*****

Pulling his suit jacket back over his shoulders Logan offers Agent Hamm a diplomatic smile, "I feel determined." The admission is said with determination. "We need to make this country safe again, and yes, I am a very hard worker."

That is all the answer Anais needs. The targets found it. Of course. She slips easily back into her former silence; when any of those prying eyes happen to meet hers, a polite nod is offered but little else. Following the men brings her near the bulletin board as well. Fewer of the names are recognizable to Anais but some do stand out. Family names. And one that, so far as she knows, belonged to a sweet intern who helped with surprise babysitting duties.

Her facade crumbles, her face pales and Anais' breath leaves her in a gasp. "KeLyssa? KeLyssa Gallagher? She's…" A last minute slip is prevented when she looks up at Nathan, and then to Hamm. A hand lifts to touch her lips, covering her mouth. "She's one of them? That's…my god."

"Afraid so." Agent Hamm reaches to the bulletin board, plucking the photo of KeLyssa and the photo of Tracy— when she was blonde. Neither of them are particularly clear photos. They look like surveillance snaps. "Ice, these two. A dangerous ability to have. One of 'em didn't make it through the ambush. Just as well, makes the world a safer place if you ask me… but that's not our job, our job is to secure them."

Agent Hamm gives the Senator a long, considering look. His own square-jawed face, marred by a few wartime scars, pinches inward. He eyes Anais, briefly, then turns away. "Alright then, Senator. Follow me. We're goin' across the way… we'll give you a tour of Human Resources." With that, he leads the pair down a long hall that leads to a heavy, steel door, which in turn leads back out to the outside world and a very fenced-in yard.

"I contacted her family when she didn't come to work," Logan says as he turns to Anais. "I had no idea she was one of them." And so is he. He glances at the photos. KeLyssa and Tracy could control ice and one of them didn't make it. "Who didn't make it?" his tone is as casual as he can keep it. Swallowing he follows the agent towards the human resources room. The entire facility is secure and there is little anyone can do to get out.

"Are you certain the facility is safe? If these people do what you say they can, then how can you be sure they won't get out?"

It takes a moment to translate what Agent Hamm has said from agent-speak to civilized English. But when Anais realizes that the man has just described the death of one of the women she worked with, the room grows even darker for her before she's able to recover her equilibrium. That temporary reeling requires that she reach out, her hand connecting with Nathan's elbow before she can steady herself. In a single look, she tries to project to him just how bad this is: two of the members of his office targetted by the Protocol, one of those killed, and surveillance outside of her own home. And here they are. Surrounded.

But without the privacy to give voice to those concerns. Anais has no other option than to draw a deep, steeling breath and soldier on. She returns to following the pair after giving a last pained look at the bulletin board with its human crop.

"Particularly if the last facility was compromised," she puts in once near enough to enter the conversation.

"Strauss," Agent Hamm confirms, "through no one's fault but her own." He says so dismissively — casually — as he heads down the hall. His booted footsteps are the heaviest, but all of them sound hollow. "AP's other facilities were targeted enough times that we learned how to make 'em right. We made sure when we built 'n' outfitted this place that it was specifically designed to keep these people in. And keep 'em out, too. Place is high security. Usually they're pumped with the drugs that keep them safe. You know, docile." The heavy steel door opens into the cold. He holds it open. Behind Nathan and Anais are Protocol guards, taking no chances with their security.

Hamm walks across the yard to the prison building. A few more security checkpoints, a few twists and turns and he slides a card through a card reader beside a reinforced green door stamped with HUMAN RESOURCES. A tiny LED light by the door turns from defiant red to welcoming green with a bzzzt. Hamm pushes the door open. "After you, Senator. Ms. Frazier."

"Ah. Strauss." Logan furrows his eyebrows as he follows the Agent to the Human Resources room. "She worked for Ivory Wynn, I believe?" He presses his lips together into a strange smile. Something is sinking in: the Alpha Protocol is determined and dangerous. KeLyssa Gallagher wasn't dangerous. Tracy Strauss avoided public to prevent her ability from going haywire. Ordinarily Logan would be pleased with the news that people more powerful than him were being kidnapped — taken out to pasture like lambs for the slaughter, but something eats away at the pit of his stomach. Jack Derex. Trina Mah. Matt Parkman. Kelyssa Gallagher. Tracy Strauss. They… deserve better. That strange feeling continues in the pit of his stomach gnaws at him again, much like when Tracy mentioned Jack. He feels his lips settle into a straight line, but he forces them into a diplomatic smile.

He walks into the Human Resources room and swallows hard. This is not what he'd expected. No amount of mental preparation had him ready for this.

"Safe for them and safe for us, I hope?" Anais forces a note of grim amusement into her tone when she answers the agent with that question. Being grim is easy. The amusement is far more difficult to produce but the philanthropist manages, in spite of the turn this tour has taken. She takes care to remain close to her employer, lingering at his elbow while they pass through the checkpoints and come to Human Resources.

Surely this means that the foreboding atmosphere has been left behind them, entering an "office" that Anais expects to be full of computers and quiet, intelligent people in businesswear. She keeps a polite smile firmly in place, forces the set of her shoulders to something more relaxed, as she steps in behind the Senator.

"The safest. Nothing to be afraid of in here, Ms. Frazier." The shadowing agents hold the door open while the others make their way in, including Agent Hamm, who saunters past Nathan and Anais once they've entered Human Resources. The room's name is obviously a misnomer: all it is a cement-walled room with a collection of metal tables off to the right side and many doors leading into other rooms on the other. People are laid out on a few of the tables, unconscious, by the looks of it, with plastic tubes up their nose hooked up to drug IVs. Completely powerless. Spotlights shine from the ceiling between the tables, the only light given to the dull room.

"We keep the ones that don't give us too much trouble here… the rest get their own cells. The most dangerous terrorists." Agent Hamm turns to face Nathan and Anais. The man's mouth is a hard line. He's staring straight into them both. The two agents behind them follow inside; the door shuts. Slowly, Hamm's focus moves solely onto the Senator. "What do you think?"

"It's brilliant," Logan says earnestly, but something stirs within him. Something… different. He turns to the agent as asks, "May I?" he points to the rows. He wants to wander. But before the Agent answers the question, he's already wandering to look at each of the comatose individuals. Children among them. He glances at Anais before he turns back to the bodies. Something stings. In his chest something feels wrong, but he doesn't dare hold it or touch it — he keeps his hands at his side. Agent Hamm is watching him. Closely. He probably knows the truth.

He pushes the surge of emotion back, away, as far from his conscious mind as he can manage before he returns the Agent's gaze. He controls his words, preventing them from coming out too angrily, instead he opts for sarcasm, "At least it keeps them sedate. How many prisoners are kept in here?"

There is no disguising Anais' shock. Brown eyes go wide and round, and her hand lifts again to cover lips parted on a startled breath. "This is…" And then Nathan is speaking, saving her from making a slip that might ruin this venture. "I've never seen anything like it," she murmurs. It's the truth. She hasn't.

Slowly, very slowly, the woman's hand is lowered again to her side. Her expression shifts easily, taking on a smile colored by awed appreciation. Brilliant is a good word. Ingenius. She doesn't allow herself to even think the words of her true opinion, lest they show on her face and be caught by their all too watchful audience. That glance is exchanged with Nathan, her head dipped him to him in a slight nod, before she returns to observing the many rows.

"They won't bite." Agent Hamm nods to the Senator. "Here… a baker's dozen. Give or take." Mostly give. Ms. Frazier's shock goes unacknowledged. After Nathan is given significant time to examine the rather comatose captives, he wanders easily toward the rows of tables also, behind Nathan. One guarding agent follows suit; the other remains by the door.

Then he sighs. The things he has to go through for this job. A general turned tour guide. It's a serious delay in an otherwise productive day. Hamm gives the nearest agent a jaded nod.

It's the only signal required. The young agent immediately wields a long, slender syringe in a gloved hand and lunges behind Nathan, fully intent on jabbing the sharp point into his neck and releasing every drop of the clear liquid contained within. Deducing a reaction in Anais, the agent by the door makes a grab for her.

"Yeeep… it's brilliant," says Hamm blandly. "I do agree with you there, Senator."

Logan glances from body to body. A Baker's Dozen. Thirteen. And all Logan can feel is compassion for these people. Thirteen unconscious evolveds in the room with who knows what kind of abilities. And the President mandated it. Logan had mandated other deaths, but this is different. This is a new kind of twisted; a new kind of evil. As Logan, Nathan had done vile things to people, but he wasn't tempered by his own emotions. And suddenly it's there: ACCEPTANCE. Nathan is Logan and NATHAN is in the lead.

Nathan2_V4icon.png

And NATHAN doesn't trust these government agents. As the Agent goes to plunge the syringe, Senator Petrelli, manages to dodge the needle, delivering an elbow to the Agent's midsection. Quickly he jumps (ridiculously well considering he's using his own ability) over several of the tables. He reaches for several sets of tubes that are connected to several of the room's occupants. Decidedly, he gets down and pushes one of the tables towards two of the government agents.

From where she's standing, Anais is able to see the way the other agent follows their guide, and the Senator. It is not a comfortable observation. A look is cast over her shoulder to the one remaining guard, the timing of which means that she actually misses Hamm's nod and the initial lunge at Nathan. But it also means that when chaos erupts, she is forewarned.

All of that time spent at the gym comes in handy when she twists and darts forward to dodge the hands grabbing for her arms. "Nathan!" the woman screams as that dash leads her towards the man and his pursuers. Later, she'll give thanks (or maybe not) for having not worn heels today. It makes it easier to slip into an adjacent aisle and hurry forward, out of the path of the pushed tables, and hopefully out of the reach of the other agent.

The agent who dutifully tried to plunge the syringe into Nathan's neck is struck by the corner of the metal table and stumbles off to the side, crashing loudly into an IV stand beside a young woman unconscious on another slab.

Agent Hamm, however, slams a meaty hand down on the table's metallic edge and stops its wheels from rolling with a solid SLAM. He calmly pulls a pistol from the small of his back, under his trench coat, and cocks it at Nathan.

"I don't have orders to kill you, but I have orders to secure you at all costs, just like the rest of them," he says slowly, almost drawling the words. "So I recommend you surrender, 'cause I served my time. I'm a good shot with airborne targets."

The agent by the door follows suit after Anais, but is blocked by a row of tables. However, he unshoulders a long, rifle-like taser and aims it at Anais. So far, no electricity is unleashed, as if he's waiting for an order.

And there it is. Even though the Protocol had used people like them before, they are less than willing to let another helm its course. Sardonically, Nathan's lips twitch into a smile. This was the risk he'd taken when he'd joined. It was a known risk. "I served my time too." Beat. "And everyone always runs. Besides… I'm faster than I look…" Momentarily he stays low, and then, quickly, surprisingly, he launches himself in the air circling the room, aiming himself towards Agent Hamm. He aims to pick the Agent up. Whether this works or not, at least he'll have gone down fighting.

There's nowhere to run, only rows of unconscious people, men with tasers and one flying overhead. Anais isn't quite certain of what to do other than keep those tables between herself and the agent with the rifle. She crouches beside one of those surfaces, using the poor gentleman sleeping on it as a shield. "What are you doing? Please…stop, there's been a misunderstanding!" she yells out. It isn't a genuine attempt to change their minds. More a distraction, and a poor one at that. But as she calls out, her hand is also pulling at the tube in the nose of the Evolved on the table. Nathan had done that, perhaps waking these people up will help win a way out of here.

Nathan's shout causes her to look up from her efforts, horrified as it sinks in just what he intends. He is fast. "Nathan, no!"

"—!" Agent Hamm grunts and is struck by the flying form of the Senator and swept into the air. He's heavy, and he struggles, immediately attempting to shove a strong elbow into Nathan.

The person on the table who Anais frees — from drugs, at least, to say nothing about restraints — rooolls his head blearily to one side and makes a vague noise. Other men and women begin to moan and groan as well.

The agent who had initially tried to take down Nathan gets his bearings and grabs a radio comm unit from his belt, murmuring rapidly into the static reception. The other man winds his way around the metal tables, wheeling some aside as he advances on Anais, taser-forward. No misunderstanding here, miss!

After all they've been through when dealing with smart specials with a vendetta against them, the government has learned to do one thing very well: to cheat. Mere moments after the agent radios in, a low hiss emits from the corners of the Human Resources room, gradually beginning to fill it with a fine gas: the Solution.

"I don't suggest struggling," Nathan hisses. "I will drop you!" It's not a threat. In fact, as the agent shoves the elbow into Nathan, he is dropped, from several feet. But, unlike his alter ego, he doesn't want to deliver pain. Instead, he frantically follows the agent, trying to catch him before his heavy-ish fall, he fails, but it makes his own tumble far less jarring. As he tumbles next to Agent Hamm, he attempts to take the gun from the government agent. Hopefully the fall was enough to surprise him.

"Anais! Use the tables — get the taser!!!" Can Team Petrelli win this fight? Probably not considering this is only one of MANY checkpoints they'll have to break through. But the struggle is worth the effort.
Abilities or not, the people waking up can be helpful, "Come on people, WAKE UP!" Nothing like a prison riot…

If there's no misunderstanding then the agent won't take it the wrong way when Anais gives the nearest table a hard shove to send it at him. Far better that she remain un-electrified, to continue as Nathan's instructed. But nothing in her gym sessions have prepared her for actual combat. How is she supposed to get the taser from a fully trained member of some bizarre military force?

So, for the first time, Anais disobeys a direct order and returns to shaking the shoulders of the people whose tubes she's removed. "Wake up! Oh, please, wake up! You have to wake up, you have to get out of here…"

The fall jars Agent Hamm. He struggles against having his gun taken, however, and reels around to try to punch the offending Senator in the face with his other hefty hand. Military school ring and all.
The man with the taser doubles over the table that's sent his way. The Senator's redheaded advisor is becoming a problem, and that seems to be enough justification for him to use the taser. Unfortunately, the electric-charged point strikes a different young woman, a young brunette straining up against restraints as Anais tries to rouse her. She jolts and slams back onto the metal.

The other agent puts away his radio and advances on Nathan and Hamm from behind — stopping a few feet away, he aims his own taser at the Senator.

Naturally, that's when the heavy door is unlocked. Cavalry is efficient. They are in the belly of the beast.

There are too many of them: too many agents, and too many restraints. But Anais tries to cope with the latter of those concerns, fighting with the buckles until a bolt thuds into the chest of the woman she's assisting. The charge brings dual screams from two throats, the redhead stumbling back until her hip slams into the table behind her. As the door to this government-funded hell is opened, no doubt to admit a new supply of soldiers, the woman shakes her head to clear it before turning to fight with the cuffs of the first man she'd de-tubed. Her fingers fumble, body braced for the impact of the tasers she knows are coming.

The punch connects with Nathan's jaw. It sends him reeling and will hurt more later when the adrenaline wears off. He manages to stagger back to his feet, but is struck by the electricity of the taser, which sends him to the ground. He's done. Senator down. There's nothing he can do to fight anymore. His body lay limp on the concrete as regret fills his consciousness. He failed. Maybe one day Heidi, Peter, and Angela will forgive him for failing, but he doesn't think he'll see that day; considering his own struggle, it's a wonder if he'll ever see light again. Hopefully they all knew how much he cared, even if he hurt them.

He actually sailed up the River Styx this time, and Hamm was a vindictive boatman. Should've paid him the coin.

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