A Difficult Decision


cardinal_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title A Difficult Decision
Synopsis An unexpected visitor brings a choice. Hopefully Brad chooses wisely…
Date December 20, 2010

Dorchester Towers — Russo's Apartment # 504

It's the usual sort of morning that Brad Russo wakes up to. The sun's cruel rays filtering through the windows, the sound of the coffee machine percolating in the kitchen — someone must have set it up — and all the other usual signs that dawn has passed and the sun's beginning to crawl up over the high-rises of New York City.

Dorchester Tower is a safe place. Cameras everywhere. Locks on the doors and windows, a security system for every individual apartment. So it might be rather odd that there's a man in matte black Horizon combat armor sitting in the living room, comfortably ensconced in a chair, hands folded over his chest as he waits for the resident to both wake up and notice his presence.

He can be a patient man. He's had to be, in his time.

There's little to be heard in 504. Until eight, anyways. Around eight there's rustling down the hall in the bedroom shortly after which the automatic coffee pot begins grinding beans very very loudly.

For a man with a hit political television series (and awesome ratings), the inside of the apartment yields meagre surroundings. The walls are white— in need of paint, and without a single picture hung upon them. He owns little furniture and so any presence stands out in this room. To say the place needs a woman's touch is by far an understatement.

Then the sound of a door opening and musical off-tune whistling. Of course the whistling has got nothing on the tone deaf singing that follows it, "I've got rhythm~ I've got muuusic~ I've got— HOLY SHIT!" The host is stopped dead in his tracks at the view he catches of his uninvited visitor. There's a distinct pause as the host freezes and goosebumps form along his arms and bare chest (fortunately he's wearing spongebob pyjama pants— a joke gift from his former fiance that has been overly warned and is in desperate need to be replace). And then, without thinking much about it, he edges to the door to open it a crack, "SECURITY!" Force of habit dictates the action…

"Mister Russo, if I was a particular threat to you…" The voice is muffled slightly by the helmet, the tone's wryness otherwise discernable as the armoured figure pushes himself up to his feet, "…I would've just killed you in your sleep. Or sedated you and dragged you off somewhere, for that matter. There's no need for… hysterics. Get a cup of coffee and then we can talk."

There's no comment about the pants made. All business, this man, whoever it is!

What Cardinal says makes perfect sense although it does little to suppress the adrenaline and growing distrust Brad feels. With a shift of his gaze, and a turn of his head, the door is shut with a small kick of his foot before the host treads back into the kitchen. The echo of a mug placed upon the countertop resounds through the near-empty apartment as does the sound of coffee being poured.

While it may be unconventional, Russo manages to ask from his place in the kitchen, "Do you want any?" His lips press together as he doctors his coffee with a bit of milk from the fridge. He blinks hard as he considers why there's a random stranger in his house and there's only two reasons he can think of. "Are… are you a friend of Delia's?" Hopefully not a friend of Heller's…

"We have Delia Ryans in custody." The statement doesn't answer his question either way, and likely isn't a comforting answer at all. Richard's head turns to follow him in the direction of the kitchen, then looks back over the living room that he's gotten to know rather well for the past couple of hours. Nothing's been touched, though. "No thank you on the coffee, though, it's a little difficult to drink anything in this particular getup."

After a moment, he adds, "You mentioned her on your broadcast. Not by name, of course, but it was obvious to anyone who knew what was going on. You talk about a lot of things on your show. Delia. Moab Penitentiary. Interesting faces on your show, interesting names, Mister Russo."

Delia. Okay. Russo clears his throat as he reenters the living room with his cup of coffee which he promptly brings to his lips. "You have Delia. Does her father know? Her sister? Why do you have Delia? You do realize— " Brad cuts off his thought and merely shakes his head. "And yes. I mentioned her on my show."

His fingers drum against the side of his mug, that suspicion growing, although— "We talk about anything we find important. Look, the world isn't balanced anymore. Any idea the government has, well, they can make it popular belief. I'd rather have some balance, hear from different people." His nose wrinkles as he issues Cardinal a tight smile. "I'm sorry, I missed your name Mister— ?"

"I didn't give it."

A gauntleted hand sweeps in Russo's direction, and Cardinal observes in mild tones, "The government would rather you talk about less… sensitive topics, Mister Russo. There are certain topics that they'd prefer you to stay away from entirely, in fact. It's for your own safety, of course. Your show is quite popular, and it would be a shame if it was taken off the air… or if anything happened to its very popular host."

A pause, "Although I'm sure the sales of your biography would be impressive once that happens. If, I mean."

Perhaps it's the words, the mild tone, or the motion of Cardinal's hands, but when everything is said, one question remains, "I'm sorry… are you threatening me?" Even with the question raised, the suspicion mounting, and the assumed B and E that it took Cardinal to get in his home, Russo manages to keep the question itself even like he's performing some interview of a world leader rather than a man who broke into his home.

"I'm sorry…" he inspects the other man before choosing a name for him, "… Clyde," as in Bonnie and, "but you don't know me. As of yet, to my knowledge, I've had few complaints about what we air. And frankly? Some things are just more important than others."

"So. Clyde, you work for the government? Tell your bosses if they have a problem with the show they should go through proper channels, book a meeting, and sit down with host and producer. I think we've been more than cooperative."

A quiet chuckle echoes inside the suit's helmet. "You said it yourself, Mister Russo, the world isn't balanced anymore… the government doesn't have to go through proper channels anymore. That's why I'm here this morning, after all… and it's not a threat. Not per se, I suppose."

Richard's next words, however, seem to make that a complete lie. "If you want to stay alive and out of prison, Mister Russo, you're going to want to be more careful about what you cover on your show. What you mention, what you discuss, and who you have on. Is that really such a difficult decision?"

Brad's eyes narrow substantially at Cardinal. The coffee mug is abandoned to the floor (there is no coffee table, hence the floor becomes his table of choice). "Are you intending to either kill me or imprison me, sir? My few years of service should at least entitle me to some information, shouldn't they? What exactly offends the US government then? A thinking population? Democracy itself? Please. Tell me what I've done that is so offensive to the government."

His eyebrows knit together tightly. "To the best of my knowledge, I've never even bordered on treason. I believe in this country, and I've gone on record as such. So. Why is the government so interested now?"

"I've asked a simple question, Mister Russo," replies the other man; it's Horizon gear he's wearing, but there's no FRONTLINE insignias, no logos, nothing to say what agency he belongs to or what group he's from. It's unthinkable for anyone outside the government to have this sort of gear, of course, isn't it? "Is that such a difficult decision?"

There's a quiet exhale as Brad runs a hand through his hair, his fingers messing with the bedhead he'd woken up with. "It's the most difficult decision." And there's the answer. "I've lost a lot in the last few years— my mother, my fiance, my sobriety…" His eyes narrow, "But I have never given up my integrity. K and I do what we do to keep this the country I fought for. So yes, it is the most difficult decision. And believe me, if I had a death wish I would've lived it out years ago. I want to live, but I do not want to give up what makes this country great. If that's the case? You may as well shoot me now."

The featureless visor of the helmet regards the host of the Advocate for a long and silent moment, as if judging the weight of his words. Finally, he speaks. "Then I suppose it's good that I'm not with the government, then, isn't it, Mister Russo?"

A quiet chuckle stirs in Cardinal's voice, "Maybe you are the man I'm looking for after all."

Brad tilts his head at the admission. "You're… not? You don't work for Heller? Christ," he breathes a little easier, in fact, Russo's entire demeanour changes into a more relaxed posture as his shoulders slump forward slightly and he allows his elbows to rest on his knees.

Clearing his throat, he reaches down to the floor and grasps his coffee to carefully bring the dark fluid to his lips. "Alright. So why are you here then?"

That gives Richard Cardinal pause for a moment; he hesitates visibly, even through the armour, before shaking his head slowly. "No. No, I most certainly do not… you can call me the Red King, if you have to call me something aside from Clyde."

He turns away, walking back through the living room and gesturing with one hand to his side. "Sometime next month, you're going to learn the truth, Mister Russo. To be fair, everyone is, but you're going to get it first. An extremely large information dump on everything that the government's been up to, and other, related matters. Some of it's documented. There's no support for some of it, but it's a start that someone could investigate from, if they were of a mind to. Everyone's going to be talking about it. You'll have a chance to get ready for it."

Russo leans forward in his seat, once again resting his elbows along his knees while his eyebrows knit together. He's had sources before, but none he's never actually seen face-to-face. His lips press tightly together with careful consideration as he nods a little. There is no other answer in this case. "Totalitarian regimes won't be tolerated. Too much was fought for to make this country free, I will not live to see that freedom completely removed." Martial law alone is not okay.

"What do I need to do to prepare? Is there any particular resources I should tap into before this info dump?"

"There won't be anything you can do to prepare for this, Mister Russo," says Cardinal in ash-dry tones, "The sheer audacity of the government in recent years is beyond all belief. The corruption of the government goes far deeper than anyone knows— but they will know. I've seen to it."

He turns back to him, then, gesturing with his black glove towards the host, "My only requirement is that you don't mention it to anyone until it's released publically after you get it. That's for your own protection. Once it's public domain… well, there's no reason to connect you to any sources at all."

"I can keep a secret like the best of them," even from K when absolutely necessary. Russo tilts his head and cracks his neck in the process, releasing the mounting Heller-tension that's taken residence in his neck and shoulders. "Ha. I'd like to keep my neck if I can regardless," he runs his fingers over it absently, recalling the imminent danger the Heller incident put him in. His jaw, however, tightens, "So why did you come here? Why do I get the scoop?"

"You… come highly recommended." That translates to 'I'm not going to tell you', for those following the game at home. Anything else he says there could be dangerously revealing. Cardinal cocks his head to one side, as best he can in the suit, "Why did you think that Colonel Heller sent me?"

Who would recommend him? Russo lets the question go and finishes off the rest of his coffee. The notion of Heller actually brings butterflies to Brad's stomach. "I've been… poking around the Colonel's history after a very odd run-in at what should have been an abandoned garage. And Heller has been rather threatening to others I know." Namely Nicole. While Brad could relay more information, he's tactful in what he does say to the faceless man. His eyebrows escalate, "How did you know he's a Colonel?"

"It's my business to know things. Heller, however, isn't someone that I know much about… yet. He's only just come onto my radar, and I'm getting the feeling that he should have sooner," admits Cardinal. Brad's news source isn't completely omniscient, it seems. "I've connected him to at least one murder, but I don't know why yet. Be careful. He's a dangerous man."

"I'll… find a way to keep Heller at bay. I suspect he's responsible for more than one murder," Russo states flatly as his mug is lowered to the ground again, left there to wait for its owner to return it to the kitchen. He laces his fingers together and straightens in his chair. "Who do you know he murdered?"

"Marjorie Mihangle." There's a moment's silence, and then Cardinal admits, "He had reason to be investigating her… but not the right to execute her. He's gone beyond the bounds of his authority. What have you dug up so far?"

"Mihangle. Can't say I'm familiar," Russo admits openly while he shifts in his chair. The name is quickly committed to memory. "There was a parking garage where several evolveds were supposedly executed. We got an anonymous tip. When my producer and I went to investigate we found a handprint exposed by luminol but were interrupted by Heller. Shortly thereafter? The garage was dismantled."

Brad frowns deeply, "We hired a Private Investigator. He hasn't found anything beyond a slightly violent past and his former wife with a restraining order against him."

"I see." A quiet moment, and Cardinal shakes his head slowly, "I'll look into this. I know someone who I can ask. And they will have answers for me as to why someone like that is in the position he is."

Brad rises to his feet, pressing on his thighs to balance into a stand. "Anything you find… please pass it on. K and I are trying to follow this one through. It's important. What happened— if it happened the way we've been led to believe, well, the American people need to know that." His cheeks tinge pink as he extends his hand to the helmeted figure.

Richard extends his hand in return, grasping the offered hand firmly. Not too firmly. In this armour he could shatter bones if he tried. "I will. And if you see Delia… tell her to find Brian. If she can find Brian, she can find her body." That said, he draws his hand back, "And watch your back, Russo."

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