Summary: At first, all Helen wants is to treat history as her playground. By the end of it she's telling herself she has to destroy history in order to save it.
She tells herself she's the hero. But she isn't.
Time Wants to Happen
It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, right?
And it was fun. All of history was her playground and she could do whatever she wanted because as far as she knew, time was already written. Everything she would do had already been done, so she could do whatever she wanted.
It had always been about the challenge to her. Earning her degrees were about the academic acclaim she could achieve. Marrying Nick had been about taking someone strong willed to bend around her fingers. Her various affairs were about how far she could push the envelop before Nick snapped.
Stephen had been special. But second to Nick. And neither could ever compare to the beauty of the anomalies and the siren song of not just learning more than anyone else, but knowing her first hand experience meant she was always right.
Being right, being challenged... those were what mattered most to Helen.
And then she saw the future. That was when the cracks started to show.
She doesn't realize the woman is different at first. Helen just thinks Claudia Brown's dress sense has taken a turn for the massively impractical. There are more important things to worry about.
Like the end of humanity, for starters.
Oh, Helen rationalizes it to Nick. All things die. Humanity is destined to go the way of the dodo eventually. It's just a matter of time. Nothing matters more than the grand experiment.
She strings Steven along as a backup plan, just in case things with Leek don't work out. Steven always wanted to come first, to be the knight in shining armor... for once, just once, to have Nick looking up to him instead of the other way around.
Only Nick outmaneuvers her. Helen honestly thought, given time, he'd come around. He'd miss her. But Nick is so focused on preserving the timeline that he won't look at what they're headed towards.
Disaster. Humanity's running headlong towards it and the existence of Jenny Lewis has given Helen hope.
Hope dies with Stephen, but Helen doesn't understand that until its too late.
She travels to the future again and again. Perfects her clones, exerts her will on them until they can do nothing without her say so. Not even eat.
She starved one at a table full of food just to be sure.
For Helen, her army would jump off buildings. They would sacrifice themselves to creatures past and future alike to ensure her survival.
Helen scours the future for evidence of how humanity wiped itself out. Where the future predators came from and the causes of various other ecological disasters wiping the planet clean.
She finds evidence she thinks points to the ARC. It's hard to tell - the documents have the ARC's logo, but written English has changed just enough that there are entire swaths of data she can't interpret. But based on the context it must be the ARC that's at fault.
Certainly it couldn't be her own dislike of them stealing Nick's loyalty from her creating a bias. She's Helen Cutter. She's always right.
The devices she finds in what looks like an ARC facility clinch it for her. Devices for opening and closing anomalies at will. And then there's the strange tube she steals while the soldiers from the past are chased down and slaughtered by predators.
There's a picture of Nick holding it, standing by his precious Claudia Brown. Or Jenny Lewis. Whatever her name is in this timeline.
Nick's clone disobeys. She didn't see that coming. It's just one more straw for the camel's back and Helen can't see how she's unraveling with the stress.
She shoots Nick and leaves him for dead. She watches his funeral from afar.
It doesn't feel real. After all, she could make a new one any time she wants.
Not that she ever does.
There's a clone uprising.
Helen probably should have seen it coming, after Nick's clone disobeyed. After all, if one could turn against her, even a little, then why not the rest of them?
She has to abandon them, but Helen has back up plans all over the place. And access to technology that will change her face. She doesn't need the clones anymore. What she needs is in the heart of the ARC facility and now she has the means to take it whenever she wants.
No doubt they've already replaced Nick with another bleeding heart who'd listen to a mysterious woman with a sob story.
The first time Helen read about site 333, she was fascinated. What could have possibly killed them? Something in the water, most likely. But their deaths were so ancient that any evidence of what wiped them out within minutes of each other was lost entirely.
She tried, a few times when the anomalies were still new to her, to go back far enough to find out the answer. But much like the future, the Australopithecus of Site 333 eluded her. So she eventually put it out of her mind.
Or, at least, she'd thought she had.
But it came back to her when she realized the only solution to the bad future was to ensure humanity never came to pass. Site 333 where all those Australopithecus - all those ancestors of modern humanity - died. That could have been her.
It should be her.
And if she could kill the inhabitants of Site 333, then she could kill the rest of them too.
It never occurred to her that the inhabitants of Site 333 were already fated to die; her killing them meant nothing. She was unwittingly following a predestined script that had been waiting for millennia to conclude.
Her death was just a paradox closing itself.
She left a message, just in case. Helen had been self assured of her success, but the habit of having of having plans within plans was a hard one to break.
Her message was for Philip Burton, another man easily manipulated and charmed. She was good at spotting the type.
New Dawn was meant to destroy humanity in the present, if Helen failed in the past. Then surely that terrible future would be averted for good. No one would ever know - or live to care - that Helen had saved the world from humanity.
It never occurred to her that New Dawn may have been the very event she'd been trying to prevent in the first place...
(Time, some say, wants to happen.)