Author's Note: The Sikorsky X2 Executive does not exist. Basically, it's a classic Sikorsky S-92 Executive copter, but with a few ritzy updates- I added the counter-rotating dual-rotor system of the experimental super-fast Sikorsky X2, & some of the endurance & stealth features of the currently still-in-production S-97 Raider.
=Chapter 4: Info Gap=
"You! You were the last one seen with Thompson! What happened, scientist?" the bald man barked, driving the weight of his heel even harder into Mohinder's back. "Did you kill him? TALK!"
"Hi, Stanley!" Chazz greeted casually, strolling in through the nearby entryway.
"No. No, I seriously don't know you, Mr. Sunglasses. I already got burned for letting that psychic cop in here, now you tell me who the hell you really are!" Stanley demanded, pulling out a second gun and aiming it toward Chazz.
"Chazz Randazzo, Backup copter guy, Sector Nine. We kinda need to see surveillance. We've kinda got clearance." Chazz held up his smartphone, and Mohinder cautiously strained his neck to see the picture on the screen- it was the symbol. The helix figure that had been showing up everywhere- on the cover of his father's book, drawn onto the photos of evolved humans in Sylar's apartment- the symbol had even showed up in the algorithm.
Anyway, it was apparently enough to convince Stanley that Chazz was a colleague, since he reluctantly lowered the gun pointed at Chazz, and grumbled, "I can't even get in to surveillance. Linderman's got a nerf ball-sized hole in his head, and Thompson's corpse is in a biohazard waste bin, and some guy exploded, and all the electric's down, and I've got no freakin' idea what's going on around here!"
"Chill, my very jumpy pal," Chazz drawled. "And get that gun off the professor before you make a mess, HQ wants him alive."
Reluctantly, Stanley put his other gun away, and stepped off of Mohinder.
Staggering to his feet, Mohinder blinked again to get his briefly fogged-over vision back, brushed the dust off his freshly-bruised chin, and asked Stanley urgently, "Where's the security footage of Kirby plaza, particularly the parking lot and fountain?"
"No way you're getting into surveillance, clearance or not," Stanley argued. "The security key is electrical, you can't get in. No way."
"What if you shot it open?" Mohinder persisted, glancing at Stanley's gun holsters.
Stanley shook his wide head dourly. "You wouldn't be able to view the footage anyway. This place is deadlocked."
"Doesn't this building have backup generators?" Mohinder groaned, infuriated with all the minor delays. They're likely short-circuited anyway, he recalled bleakly, half a second after asking.
Stanley shrugged his chunky shoulders under his blue suit. "Hey, don't look at me, I'm just a security guard."
"Hey, hey, I just remembered-" Chazz rattled off suddenly, "-everything surveyed here is transmitted over to HQ's servers! I'll just have 'em send over the Kirby Plaza surveillance to my copter, and we can watch it there. C'mon, doc," he added, clapping a hand on Mohinder's shoulder, and guiding him back towards the exit.
"Fine," Mohinder muttered tensely, following the slightly shorter and way more casual man back out to the plaza.
Chazz led him past some blue umbrellas and metal picnic tables and chairs, around the back of the skyscraper, and then towards a sleek, double-rotored helicopter, which looked like a massive, evil, grey and blue dragonfly.
Mohinder approached the parked copter rapidly, eager to view the security tapes, desperate to get a grip on what had happened in those critical minutes he couldn't remember.
Chazz punched in a security code with his thumb, and pulled down the combo door-stepladder in a zippy fashion, obviously just as impatient.
Mohinder snatched the metal hand rails and scaled the three-step ladder in two steps, following Chazz into the posh interior. There were several white suede seats inside, arranged facing each other in a personal, living-room style, with slim side-tables and cup-holders lining the walls, underneath the small square windows, and soft overhead lighting. Mohinder quickly sought out the in-flight TV, but Chazz instead directed him to a fold-out viewscreen and keyboard on the wall.
The computer booted up with a happy little beep, then Chazz held his right hand over his left, hiding part of the keyboard, as he typed in a seven-asterisk password. Mohinder only caught a 'e' and a '4'. A Windows logo came up as the computer started up, then Chazz quickly pulled up a live, video link.
"Hey, hey!" Chazz said brightly, as a African-featured man with a blonde buzz-cut and a sleek Bluetooth earpiece appeared onscreen. "As you can see, I got the Doc," Chazz said, motioning his hands towards Mohinder, "but the thing is, our DNA-addict friend can't remember who knocked his lights out, and he's got some jello-brained idea that Sylar stole the Walker kid, so if you'd be a pal and send over the security feeds from building eleven to put the Doc's mind at ease, the east parking lot and plaza- that'd be spiffy, 'kay?"
The viewscreen man seemed to consider it, then said, "It looks like there's flaws in the footage, but here goes. Transmission might take a minute." He vanished off the viewscreen, to be replaced with a little blue loading bar- it was the irritating type, the type that just flickered back and forth, without showing any actual progress.
Mohinder waited impatiently, all nerves; eyes stuck on the screen, on that little pulsing rectangle. What if it's worst-case-scenario? he fretted. What if the footage shorts out just as Peter explodes, and this is just another dead end? No, wait- worst-case scenario would be if Sylar actually did take Molly; video proof, confirmation.
Abruptly, there was a dull buzzing, cranking noise, and Mohinder glanced away sharply- he suddenly noticed Chazz was missing- the copter door was closing upwards mechanically, and Chazz was up in the cockpit, pulling levers and keying things in.
Mohinder stumbled up to the cockpit in a rush. "I said I was staying!" he snapped loudly, as outside and above, the double rotors started noisily whirring, whining, and spinning.
"Yeah, well, news flash!, you're not," Chazz bit back.
"Put this copter down," Mohinder demanded dangerously.
"You really wanna try something?" Chazz scoffed, turning a mysterious dial that made puzzling green and orange meters light up on one of the seven copter viewscreens. "How much d'you know about flying one of these? Let me guess, nothing, zilch?"
"Get back on your 'secret frequency'," Mohinder hissed irately, "I want to talk to whoever's in charge of Primatech."
"I don't know who's in charge," Chazz replied apologetically, as the viewscreens threw colorful specks of light on his blueberry-lensed sunglasses.
"Who were you talking to?" Mohinder persisted.
"I can't tell you that."
"Why can't you tell me that?"
"I can't tell you that either."
"Why not?" Mohinder growled.
"Look, when they want you to know, you'll know, ya know?"
"No, enough secrecy!" Mohinder snapped, fighting the urge to punch either Chazz or the switchboard. "Now I entered into a contract with Thompson, and he's dead. You're going to tell me exactly who I'm working with, or I'm terminating that contract."
"Hey, genius, you really think you're gonna take out Sylar on your own?" Chazz retorted dourly. "Realistically? You and your shotgun and syringe needles against his kinda freakazoidal powers? Last I recall, you joined forces with the Company because you have no force. You need us."
"And you need me," Mohinder shot back, matching Chazz's dark tone. "I agreed to work with Primatech on my terms, not yours."
Chazz grinned tightly, but the rest of his face was stone-cold sarcastic. "Now you may think you're kinda tough- hell, you might even be tough," he began, "but I swear, if Sylar gets you, he WILL get that new formula from ya, and you're gonna be responsible for the R-rated gruesome deaths of a whole superhuman hitlist. Think you could live with that?"
"How'd you know about the formula?" Mohinder demanded, remembering with a spark of thrill about the four-gene key he'd isolated in Sylar's spinal fluid, the key to making a new list.
"Eh, you may have missed a couple of the bugs in your apartment. Did you check the cockroach on the windowsill?"
"You're kidding!" Mohinder replied in dismayed disbelief. He'd checked his apartment obsessively for any unusual electronics after his encounter with that fake exterminator- he'd even shelled out 80 bucks on eBay for a professional, full-frequency bug and camera detector.
"Yeah, okay, kidding," Chazz admitted with a toothy snigger. "No one really hides bugs in bugs. Bet you never thought to check all those pushpins on that map of yours, though."
"You hid a listening device, in a pushpin," Mohinder repeated, a bit impressed despite himself.
"Nah. We just raided your voice diaries."
"Oh," Mohinder replied flatly, considerably less impressed. "You know, for an uninformed flunkey, you certainly seem to know a lot."
"Hey, could you cut the antagonism, and go watch that surveillance footage already?"
Irritably, Mohinder stalked back to the cabin viewscreen. He got there just as the flickery loading bar completed. The screen went momentarily black, and then nine boxes appeared onscreen, labeled Camera 1, Camera 2, Camera 3, Camera 4, Camera 5, Camera 6, Camera 7, Camera 8, and Camera 9. There was the date and time up in the top left corner of the screen- 11/08/2006-9:27, and the words CCTV Megapixel WiFi.
The top row of three showed different angles of the parking lot, and the remaining six boxes showed Kirby Plaza from different angles. Instantly zeroing in on a yellow taxi paintjob, Mohinder slid his fingers over the laptop touchpad, and clicked on the middle top box, toggling it to fullscreen. It was a slightly fisheye view of the parking lot, with high frame rate, and decent resolution, and considering this was New York, it looked very quiet and mostly empty. Except for two small figures racing over the blacktop- him and Molly. Mohinder clicked the little zoom magnifying glass icon in the corner screen, zooming in a bit. Onscreen, he was opening the taxi door, Molly was crawling into the back seat-
-suddenly, slight static lines flickered over the screen then it just fizzed in green and purple electronic jpeg artifacts, then went black.
"What happened?!" Mohinder exclaimed, zooming back out so he could see all nine screens again. They were all just as disturbingly, static-flecked black.
Mohinder quickly clicked the instant rewind button, holding down on it until he was back at the part of the footage where the ambulances were driving off, and he was leading Molly to the parking lot-
-A car was pulling out of the parking lot in Camera view 1. An elderly couple was walking past the fountain in Camera 5. In Camera 4, a man and a kid were walking out through a the side of the skyscraper- straight through the industrial steel wall.
Startled, Mohinder rewound again, just to make sure he hadn't imagined it. Even from this far out, he could easily recognize the two as that technopath kid who'd activated the broken elevator, and the kid's father, D.L.. Mohinder had only met D.L. briefly in the Plaza building and ambulance- he'd had no clue that D.L. was special too! Just more evidence that the gene that triggered these abilities was hereditary... Regretting now that he hadn't asked D.L. for his last name, Mohinder rewound again, and watched the two walk through the wall again, entranced by this new power- intangibility? Dematerializing? But how does it work? Was it based on string theory somehow- did D.L.'s cells actually shift to a slightly different dimension, or pocket dimension, to allow him to pass through solid objects unharmed? Or did it have more to do with particle physics and quantum tunneling?
Snapping back to reality, Mohinder quickly scanned the rest of the cameras for signs of movement- not much was happening. He and Molly were hurrying towards the taxi, D.L. and his family were getting into a car, and Sylar was still on his side next to the fountain in the lower left box. Actually, wait- a vague shadowy flicker appeared by Sylar, and then-
-and then the green and purple static fizz flashed. Mohinder's throat muscles tensed as all nine screens shorted out again.
"This is no good, I need to find out what happened after this!" Mohinder muttered sharply.
"Sorry, technical difficulties," said the voice of the techie on the computer. "All the footage after this is scrapped for about forty-five minutes. We're trying to recover it- but it's being difficult."
"How long will it take?"
Mohinder just barely restrained himself from damaging something, and instead hit rewind again, put the video in slow motion, and zoomed in on Camera 7, on Sylar's supposedly dead body. Yes, in the brief four seconds before the screen shorted out, the air shifted. Mohinder wasn't sure how else to describe it- just a slight warp in the atmosphere. Like a heat wave or mirage. But the last visible frame was the most disturbing- because in that split-second before the fuzz, Sylar vanished.
Mohinder rewound it five more times, his panic level increasing by the second.
"Sylar vanished!" he exclaimed finally, charging back to the cockpit. "In the last frame of footage, Sylar just evaporated, into thin air- are there any abilities you know that could do that?"
Chazz just shrugged. "Maybe it was a glitch."
"Peter Petrelli!" Mohinder realized aloud, "He went invisible right before Sylar killed him with glass in my apartment, ergo Peter must have encountered an evolved human with cloaking abilities! Did Sylar find that same person and take their power? Or could someone with invisibility have dragged Sylar down into the sewers?"
"Glitch," Chazz repeated.
"No, something happened, and I need to know what- I need to know what happened to Sylar, I need to know Molly isn't d-" He couldn't bring himself to say it out loud. It was like admitting it was an option. While I'm up here in this cush, posh, streamlined copter, soaring high above the clouds, Molly could be freshly decomposing down in a moldy sewer tunnel, with a psychopath groping through her dismembered brain matter... And possibly eating it. HOW can that be an option?
"Hey, you know, just chill already about the Walker kid," Chazz said, almost kindly. "You'd never have met her if not for us. Now there's nothing you can do, and yeah, life's epically lame sometimes, but we've got teams of experts on her case already, we're on it, we've got it covered." Chazz held two fingertips to his ear suddenly, where, Mohinder noticed, was a small silver earpiece-com. "Uh-huh, gotcha," Chazz said into the com.
"Do I get to know who that was?" Mohinder asked cynically, not really expecting a straight answer by this point.
"Right, reminder from HQ, they want you decontaminated. Like, presto." Chazz grabbed a hard-plastic briefcase off the copilot seat, and shoved it into Mohinder's hands. It was cold to the touch, and beamy yellow, with the nuclear symbol on the front, in mauve, and the words Nuclear Survival Kit™. "There's instructions inside," Chazz added briskly. "There's a lavatory in back. Hop to it."
Turning his back on Chazz, Mohinder stalked off mechanically to the back of the copter, with the words 'nothing you can do' echoing in his rebellious mind.
The lavatory was tiny and chrome-themed, with cold aqua lighting. Maneuvering around the toilet and setting the yellow briefcase on the counter-top next to the tiny sink, Mohinder tugged it open. At a glance, the contents included plastic gloves, breath masks, iodine pills, three labeled spraybottles, trash bags, an info-manual, a dosimeter, and caution labels.
The 'Instructions for Use' were conveniently displayed on the inside lid of the briefcase, and Mohinder skimmed over the words quickly-
STEP 1: If possible, remove yourself to a non-contaminated area immediately before beginning decontamination. Remain calm and use the buddy system, one person decontaminating another person if possible. Locate radioactive material with radiation detector if available and remove any contaminated clothing.
Mohinder absently picked up the easy-use, Geiger-Mueller dosimeter. It was about the size of a calculator. Pointing it at himself, he pressed the single square button- it started clicking instantly, getting quicker and louder, then beeping as the meter went past 20 millirem- and slowly climbed to a startling final reading of 130,000 millirem, or 130 rem. Mohinder had some common knowledge on radiation poisoning- after all, he had known a couple of chemical pathologists and nuclear physicists back at Chennai University, not to mention all those hours he'd spent researching radiation and its potential for cell mutation. 130 rem was bad, but not life-threatening.
Still, he quickly consulted the kit's info-manual to refresh his memory.
100-200 REM: Acute Radiation Poisoning
Time to Onset:
Moderate nausea and vomiting
Moderate leukopenia (white blood cell reduction)
Increased susceptibility to infections
Delayed traumatic and surgical wound healing
Temporary male sterility is common
Hair loss within 2-3 weeks
Well, that all sounded just great. Sighing stressfully through his teeth, Mohinder stripped off his jacket and shirt, and stuffed them in one of the kit's trash bags. Tugging the door shut, he took off his shoes and pants, dropped them in the corner, then glanced back at the briefcase lid, and read:
STEP 2: Put on face mask being sure to cover mouth and nose adequately.
Mohinder pulled on the turquoise N-95 combo surgical face mask and respirator, feeling a little cold and ridiculous.
STEP 3: Decontaminate (as described below) your partner's hands first then have your partner put on a pair of exam gloves. Remove your exam gloves and have your partner decontaminate your hands. Put on a new pair of exam gloves provided and continue decontamination.
Chazz was flying the copter, and Mohinder didn't want his help getting decontaminated anyway, so he just yanked on a pair of synthetic gloves and skipped straight to the tedious decontamination instructions:
Decontaminate small areas at a time and discard each rad-wipe after use. Do not reuse rad-wipes as this may spread the contamination. Handle the red plastic side and wipe using the white absorbent side. Handle all contaminated wipes and clothing with the tongs provided whenever possible to minimize exposure.
A. Spray on a generous amount of BLUE LABELED Solution (Transition Metals). Let stand for a few seconds but DO NOT LET DRY!
B. Aggressively wipe and dry thoroughly with the plastic-backed (red) rad-wipes provided. Be sure to wipe up ALL solution since any Quick Decon™ Mass Effect™ solution left on the surface/s may now contain radioactive material.
C. Dispose of rad-wipes as "rad-waste" in trash bag provided.
D. Repeat steps A-C with YELLOW LABELED Solution (Actinide Metals). This will be necessary if the elemental type of radioactivity is unknown.
E. Use spare water bottle (previously filled by customer with simple tap water) to wash down affected areas. Use wipes to aggressively clean areas again and remove any residual Mass Effect™ solution. Dispose of rad-wipes as indicated above-
-And the last three notes just went on about cautionary methods to avoid getting recontaminated, so Mohinder skipped those.
Grabbing the color-coded 32 oz. blue bottle, he sprayed the blue solution over one arm and half his torso, then wiped it off as instructed, sprayed on the yellow solution, sprayed on the tap water, then wiped it off again, and repeated the procedure on the other side of his torso, his neck, back, and legs. Despite his best efforts, some of the solution got in the the cuts and fork-stabs Sylar had given him back when he'd pinned him to his apartment's ceiling. The stinging sensation dragged his thoughts right back to that moment, right back to that feeling of total, inept helplessness... sort of like what he was feeling now.
Lastly, Mohinder moved to the sink to wash off his hands and face. He slid off the top elastic strap from above his ears, letting the face mask drop below his chin and cling to his neck from the other strap like a tight, ugly necklace. Holding his breath to keep from breathing in residual chemical fumes, he stripped off the gloves, tapped the soap dispenser, put his hands under the warm water, then splashed his face-
-he paused, leaving the water running, as he saw himself in the mirror. There was a long black smudge trickling down his forehead and right cheek. Mohinder quickly glanced at his hands, and saw, in shock, that there were words penned onto his right palm. He frantically tried to make out the smeared letters as they melted down his palm in black streaks- but all he could decipher were the fragmented words-
ey pursue us, Molly will die.
soon as you get the chan
could actually make a differen
Something seemed oddly familiar about the line right before the unfinished phone number... and then it hit him. "Together, we could actually make a difference." That's what Bennet had told him when he'd first invited him to join Primatech.
Mohinder blinked sharply as he got a brief memory flash of his elbow hitting into the taxi mirror, and Bennet's gun in his face- and he finally pieced it together. Bennet took Molly.
Mohinder almost stormed up front to inform Chazz immediately, but then he remembered the 'pursue us, Molly will die' part of the message. And that he was still just in his boxers, face mask, and socks. And the water was still running. Mohinder stared at his palm for another minute, memorizing what was left of the phone number. Next he washed it off, twisted the trickling faucet shut, removed the mask from his neck, neatly packed up the decon kit, and then yanked on his pants and shoes, ignoring the fact they were probably still radioactively contaminated.
723-294-53, he kept repeating in his head. He needed to figure out the last two digits of that phone number, and he needed to call it as soon as possible- but not here, not on Chazz's phone, in Chazz's copter.
Hurrying back up towards the cockpit, Mohinder asked, "Where are we flying to, and how long will it take till we get there?"
"Hey, hey, don't rush her," Chazz retorted. "This is a Sikorsky X2 S-ninety-seven Executive- this design's not even on the market yet. With just us two aboard, this baby'll clock three hundred miles an hour. We'll have to make a brief pitstop in Kentucky to refuel, but according to this," he said, tapping the GPS, "we should be at Primatech Paper in six hours, give-take."
Just enough time for my radiation sickness to kick in, Mohinder thought dryly, as he wandered back to the spacious cabin.
There are 100 possible combinations for a two-digit number, from 0 to 99, the geneticist speculated, as he sank weakly into one of the white suede seats. What the deuce did Bennet and I say to each other before he took Molly and knocked me out? Why did Bennet take Molly? What did the rest of the message say? What is Primatech's agenda? How did Sylar vanish?
Mohinder pulled both of his harness straps in front of his chest, clasping them together over his sweaty torso, and closed his eyes in muted frustration.
Yet again, there are no answers.