A Good Cause


cardinal_icon.gif cat_icon.gif susan_icon.gif

Scene Title A Good Cause
Synopsis Cardinal meets with the Ferry to discuss the subject of paperwork.
Date July 12, 2010

Biddy Flannigan's Irish Pub

Ambient lighting blankets the establishment in a soft luminescence, glowing in tones of appealing orange from the front face of the bar and low hanging light fixtures overhead. Old style brick walls given the pub an appealing depth, reflecting the tone of lights in a more amber hue down upon the lengths of the polished, wooden floors. The bar counter of lacquered dark wood stretches along the northern wall, the forefront for shelves of numerous liquors and the substantially sized LCD televisions spaced liberally behind it. The screens flicker with the latest games and news as the labeled spirit bottles wink from lighted shelves with a beckon of their own. Barstools and high tables welcome tipsy patrons to their support, scattered with throughout the barroom with a few wedge into the darker, quieter, and more secretive recesses. Over the bar are a few banners of sports teams, most notably one of English football club Manchester United.

The thick wooden door to the west is fitted with a single neon sign sponsored by one of the brews on tap, glowing in the door's center window to shed its light onto the sidewalk outside and summoning in new customers when the bar is open for business.

Happy Hour at Biddy Flannigan's Irish Pub on the Upper East Side finds the tables crowded and the air thick with the smell sweat, cheap stout and soda bread rising in the establishment's rear kitchen. The table closest to the establishment's fire exit isn't hot real estate unless you're the type of person who maps out the nearest escape route upon entering a room, and at least two of the three people chatting over their drinks and a plate of steamed blue mussels are in the business of doing exactly that.

The ice in the bottom of Susan's glass of watered-down whiskey tinkles when she raises it to her lips and smiles around the rim at Cardinal. "So," she's saying, "Catherine tell me that there's something our network can do for you and yours."

"There's a guy I know who… needs a new paper identity, at least one that can pass cursory inspection," Cardinal explains in quiet, casual tones as he gestures with the glass in his hand, ice clattering inside, "Since that is from what I gather what you all do…" A wry smile crooks up at one corner of his lips, one brow raising slightly, "I figured I should talk to you people."

With stout before her, Cat listens as the two others speak. She doesn't feel a need to interject at present. Her eyes are moving from time to time, taking stock of people present and working at this establishment. Ygraine hadn't said whether or not she'd take over management of the place, and she knows it's an Adam Monroe outpost, so she performs recon in addition to other business.

"You'll have to be more specific than that," Susan chides Cardinal after a sip from her whiskey. She sets her glass back down on its coaster. "What do you need? Passport? Social security card? Birth certificate? All of the above?" Picking up one of the small stainless steel forks balanced on the edge of the mussel plate, she pauses to lift her chin and both her brows at the man seated across from her. A moment later, she's using it to fish around the broth in search of morsels dislodged from their shells.

"We're happy to accommodate you to the best of our ability," she adds, "but generally, we like to conduct an interview or two beforehand to get an idea of exactly what it is that we're dealing with. These things take time, money, and we want to make sure it's for a good cause."

"All of the above, if possible— well, we can probably skip the passport," admits Cardinal with a tight shake of his head, "I know how fuckin' hard to fake those are, and I don't think he plans on going extranational anyway." The tip of his finger taps lightly against the edge of his glass as he considers her, answering her after a moment, "You're also generally taking these people into your network. Money I can get you, time can be paid for…"

The drink's brought up, then, and he murmurs, "And I'd like to think that I've earned enough trust that your network could take my work on a minor matter such as this."

Curiosity exists as to what and who Mr. Clemens is hiding. Eyes come to rest on him, their character calmly inquisitive as are her facial features. Cat might choose to comment on trust moving in two directions, yet she herself doesn't know who if anyone is an Institute spy. Yet. This fact causes her to share some of his reluctance. What concerns, however, is holding out on her.

The panmnesiac therefore elects to remain silent for the present and see how things develop.

"Trust isn't the issue." Susan pops a mussel into her mouth, pulverizes it between her teeth with lips stretched thin across them. The fork, discarded, clinks against the plate once more as she trades it for a chunk of soda bread, which she then uses to soak up some of the broth. "At least not between you and I."

She runs her tongue across her teeth. "I'm more concerned about whoever it is we're drawing the paperwork up for. Amato Salucci, Lucrezia Bennati, Ethan Holden— these are names I'm sure you're familiar with, and I'm equally sure it doesn't surprise you when I say that some of our people were unhappy — and believe me when I tell you that this is an understatement — when they discovered we'd donated our resources to helping them escape.

"Just one interview, Mr. Cardinal, to be conducted at your leisure and to put our minds at ease. It won't take more than a few minutes."

"Vanguard." A rough snort from Cardinal, a muttered word against the edge of the glass as he takes a sip, then sets it down, leaning back and noting dryly as he looks back across the table, "My concern, Susan, is that I know you have a leak. So I'm not exactly chomping at the bit to risk exposing any unknowns to your network before I have confirmation that it's handled."

Her features shift in a minor fashion, some names trigger reactions in Doctor Chesterfield no matter how minimal. Her silence breaks, with eyes resting sans waver from Susan's face. "I've fought the Vanguard three times, few among us have lost more to their actions than I have. I tell you Holden, Salucci, and Bennati acted against Volken and his viral plans. Holden, who I detest more than nearly anyone else on Earth, also acted against that organization in another matter. I do not speak on his behalf lightly, and not without simple truth. He did not escape with Ferry assistance. He, in fact, has no lien upon his freedom."

An opportunity is then taken. Hopefully. "Time is short, isn't it, Mr. Clemens? Name a place where she can meet with the person in question in three days time. You need to move the subject soon after that time frame, because the Institute is closing in, yes?"

"You've been told we have a leak. That's not quite the same thing as knowing, is it?" Susan leaves the soda bread to float in the broth and folds both her hands on the edge of the table. "Here's the way this works, Richard." Because they are apparently on a first name basis. "Either you agree to my terms or you don't. If there are operatives within the Ferry who you trust not to reveal your ward's identity, then I can have them assigned to your case specifically and you can go through them alone, but if not, then you'll have to look elsewhere for help. I'm not about to see us turned into a cheap resource that other organizations can simply tap. To be completely honest, I'm insulted that you'd offer us money at all. Some of our people have been at this longer than you've been out of prison."

It's probably a good thing that her hands are resting on top of one another because if they weren't, they'd probably be trembling. Susan doesn't like to be contradicted, and for some reason she won't even look at Catherine. It might have to do with presenting a united front. "I won't be conducting the interview," she tells the other woman, "not in three days time, not in two, not even tomorrow. I could, after all, be an Institute spy."

A pause, then. To Cardinal: "Beauchamp and Trafford. Acceptable?"

"You're the one who brought up money, Susan," Cardinal points out with a shake of his head as he leans back in the booth, his head cocking a bit to one side, "And you might take offense to my position here, but I try not to make compromises when it comes to defending my own. I'm sure you can appreciate that at least."

A loose drum of his fingertips to the table, and then his head dips in a nod, "Alright. That's acceptable, and neither of them should… spook him any. Done."

"Done," Susan echoes. "I'll let Abigail know she should get in touch with you, and the two of you can make arrangements however you see fit." She does not even glance at her soda bread. It is, by now, soggy and inedible unless she chooses to ask their server for a spoon. Instead, a hand dips into her purse and she thumbs through a crisp set of bills fresh from the bank, two of which she places on the table's smooth, dark surface to cover the cost of their meal and drinks.

The tip, if she leaves one, is probably healthy. And with her glossy hair, glowing complexion, manicured nails and snappy manner of dress— it should be. Of all the Ferry operatives to complain about money…

"Is there anything else?"

"I think that's about it," Cardinal admits as he leans back, draping his elbow over the back of the booth and offering her a faint smile beneath the shadow cast over his face by his shades, "I appreciate the willingness to help, Susan. Take care."

"We should talk soon, Susan. Do enjoy your evening, and thank you for coming." Cat offers, before eyes settle upon the glass of stout. It's still full, she having found it wanting, but the mussels are for the most part gone. It's not clear whether she desires the shadowman to remain, save for the absence of parting words to him and her lack of preparation to depart.

"And you." Susan's purse snaps shut, her chair legs scrape across the pub's scuffed hardwood floors, and she takes her leave of the table with a flourish of pressed cotton and shimmery white silk before she disappears into the crowd, swallowed up by broad shoulders, bare arms and nondescript backs on her way toward the door.

She's watched as she goes, and then Cardinal leans forward to rest folded arms on the table's edge. "I really don't like her," he admits to Cat, a faint chuckle woven through his tone, "I really don't."

When the agent is swallowed up by other bodies among the crowd, Cat's attention shifts to the man, followed by dry commentary. "It is unfortunate she would choose to speak of matters involving former Vanguardites in my presence. As if I wouldn't have made certain everyone involved knew of anyone from that organization who remains an active enemy, and any who had not taken up arms against their former associates." Her bread is eyed for a moment, creating a stretch of silence.

"Also unfortunate you didn't play along with my three days remark. Maybe by shortening it to one day and naming a false place for the meeting, just to see what would happen then. One of the best ways to track a leak is to issue individual disinformation and see if it gets out."

Her mind on those topics has seemingly been spoken, Cat choosing to move along. "I've not met made a working compass, efforts continue. It could be Suresh's equation was wrong. But he was correct, there is an EM field emitted by persons with mojo. I found someone who can see it, and he confirmed the fields get stronger when people with mojo are together."

"I'm not going to play any games with his safety," Cardinal says with a tight shake of his head, a hint of accusation threaded through his voice, "I trusted Tyler to the Ferry, and now look where he is…"

A rapid three beats of fingertips drumming over the table, smile fading entirely as he shakes his head slowly, "I'm not as paranoid as Messiah, but I'm starting to think they might not have the worst idea there. Hm. Is there?" A brow lifts, "Interesting. So the more Evolved there are in one place…"

The topic of security is returned to. "Our leak may have been Doctor Brennan, and if so the matter's resolved. That still doesn't mean there isn't another, and the very fact of needing to look for one causes damage. So many people to screen, makes testing by disinformation difficult at best. An opponent can cause trouble just by making it seem there's a mole. They know it has to be taken seriously because it might be true. Causes people in an organization depending on trust doubt each other, and some of the doubted to walk away."

Back to EM fields. "Suresh's finding makes me think of how augmentation works. Could be an ability to sense the fields and tap into them, converting the energy to boost powers. Being tuned into it somehow. Sources also tell me at least one working compass already exists. Don't know who has it or where, but there's no indication of mass production. Yet."

"They exist," Cardinal admits, almost reluctantly, one hand rubbing against the bridge of his nose, "One of my people has directly seen one in the possession of an Insittute agent, so there's at least one - possibly more - in use. Intel suggests their research facility is in…" A pause, and he drops deadpan, "Antarctica somewhere. I'm not volunteering to go back to that icy hellhole."

"So efforts to figure out how, if at all, they can be defeated are more urgent. Won't be long before they can mass produce them. Components are inexpensive, my prototype only cost me a few dollars at a hobby store." Cat breathes out slowly, before speaking further. "Antarctica. Damn. So in our actions against the Vanguard we didn't just lead right to Rasoul and Arthur's research there, but to something in the icepack too. Epstein's protestation aside, the presence of Brum with his Vanguard ties means we're fighting Vanguard, Part Four. Except now they've infiltrated the Feds."

"Just because he was on Icarus with Volken doesn't make him Vanguard," argues Cardinal with a shake of his head, one hand turning up to the side before flopping back down, "There're some mysteries there, though, that haven't been explored yet. I'm still digging at graves hoping to come up with something, but I've got a lot on my plate too." He rubs a hand against the ridge of his brow, "Anyway."

"I still haven't cornered Jensen Raith or Eileen to ask about Brum," Cat provides, "and Avi Epstein. He's one of Sarisa's people, so I wonder what her involvement with all this is. I still suspect involvement with the Institute, she'd stand to benefit if they manage to make an SLC serum. Ability to expand the ranks of Frontline by hand picking, which leads to political power. And if they find a way to remove the SLC, political power increases further. Could be Old Nathan seeking to create an unstoppable army, or Brum to make one right under his nose. I can't verify either goal, giving or taking away mojo, so the best conclusion is they're after both. Complete control over who has the SLC."

She then yields the floor back to the shadowman, echoing his last word. "Anyway…?"

"You do a lot of blind theorizing, don't you?" A brow lifts, and Richard's head shakes slowly, "Arthur's entire purpose behind creating the Formula was to fuel FRONTLINE, so that goes without saying… and they have Zimmerman. Getting him out is definately a priority, whatever they have him working on. Sheridan's current project is bad enough."

The panmnesiac is undaunted. "You don't consider the possible motives enough. It wasn't just to fuel Frontline, it was about political power for Arthur by extension. That anyone seeking to give abilities also wants to take them away is simple logic. As for Zimmerman, well… Bella Sheridan is the key to that. She's on the inside, there's a team forming to grab her. Jensen's going to lead it, I suggested a plan I've seen work before that grabs her, gets information, and sees her returned with conditioning to keep the data coming. She'd not remember any of it, and there'd be no indication she was ever missing."

"I've already spoken to Jensen about it," affirms Cardinal, a single brow lifting up a bit, "I actually think she may be willing to turn, given what my surveillance has seen."

"That would be much simpler than snatching the woman and implanting means to keep her feeding us data," Cat admits. "I still wouldn't trust her to not claim she's turned and feed us bad information just the same. I would strongly recommend measures versus that possibility."

"I'm not that trusting, Cat…" A shake of Cardinal's head, his tone wry, "…not that trusting by far. If she is willing, though, we'll have… an impressive asset on our hands. I'm not going to count my eggs before they've hatched, though."

"First step is getting the woman alone," Cat agrees, "and having a conversation with her.

"I'll talk to her." A wry tone, as Cardinal moves to rise from the booth, "Liz offered to talk to her too, but you both tend to have conversations that have short, violent endings. Honey and vinegar, Cat."

She chuckles. "I didn't intend violence at all," Cat replies, "it would hardly do if she went back to the Institute with physical markings which suggest something happened. My conversation plan consists of time being frozen, while she's persuaded to not resist and to answer all questions truthfully. It wouldn't even be necessary for anyone's voice to be raised."

Observing Cardinal as he begins getting to his feet, she offers "See you around, Mr. Clemens." Then she tacks something on. "Got any way to verify if that's really Skoll's body found dead in Trenton? Too many people are reported gone when they aren't, I tend not to believe unless I see the evidence. And maybe not even then."

"Skoll?" Richard Cardinal's brows raise a bit at the question, pausing beside the table, "Couldn't tell you, I'm afraid. As far as I'm aware, he wasn't an active threat, so I haven't been keeping track of him. He show up dead?"

"Aleksandr Koslow, former Russian member of the Vanguard. He helped take out some of Dreyfus' people in that last battle," Cat provides. "News reports on the 7th say he was found dead in Trenton. You didn't see the article naming him as a member of the organization that tried to release a virus? He allegedly committed suicide, gun to the head. There was even a comment from the White House Press Secretary."

"I know who Skoll is," Cardinal rolls his eyes, admitting, "I missed the article, though. I haven't heard anything; I'll ask a few people that might know if it's true or not." A raise of his chin, and he turns, "I'll be in touch, Cat."

"See you," Cat rejoins, letting her mind turn to other business matters as the shadowman departs. One of them being an Irish woman in the Bronx.

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