Aiming Spitballs At Tanks


cardinal_icon.gif matt_icon.gif

Scene Title Aiming Spitballs at Tanks
Synopsis For once, Matt visits Cardinal to discuss Carmichael's triggers and plans for November 8th. They brainstorm counter-measures, though it seems like pulling the plug is the only surefire option.
Date October 19, 2010

Redbird Security

//There's a sharp, professional feel to the main lobby of the building. The carpet is a deep maroon underfoot, the walls an off-white cream that doesn't glare too brightly beneath the recessed lighting in the ceiling. Half a dozen chairs upholstered in a sandy light brown sit against one wall beneath a painting, a print of a Thomas Brill that shows the ruins of Midtown covered in vines and greenery as seen from the rooftop of the Deveaux building. The receptionist's station takes up almost an entire wall on the right side of the lobby, guarding the hallway that leads back into the building's offices. Behind and above the desk, the logo for Redbird Security Solutions hangs on the wall in glossy black. //

The central hall continues the same carpet and wall colors to a number of doors. There are four offices, a restroom done in shades of blue and pale sand tones, and a comfortable employee lounge with attached kitchenette. An open doorway in the main lobby reveals a flight of upward stairs, and there's a locked door at he end of the central hall that guards the basement steps.

"Jo, I'm expecting Secretary Parkman to drop in this evening… please send him in as soon as he arrives?"

The button on the phone is released, and Cardinal leans back slowly in his chair, fingers raking back through his hair as he sinks into the seat with a rather weary expression upon his face. Out in the lobby, the blonde receptionist stares at the phone. It's not every day you hear that the Secretary of the DHS is about to walk into the building.

When the sleek yet sedate black sedan pulls up in front of Redbird Security, the clock on Jo's desk is already reading 6:43 PM. But it is unmistakably Matt Parkman who gets out of the car and enters the building, his open wool coat billowing just slightly with his headlong movement toward the door and into the building.

He could easily slip into the stream of surface thoughts around him, focus in on Cardinal's, and find the man who called for this meeting that way. But instead he walks halfway across the lobby before he turns his narrowed eyes on the receptionist. It's another moment before a strained, polite-for-the-sake-of-politeness smile twitches onto his features.

"Excuse me," he says without really meaning it. "I'm here to see Richard Cardinal." There's an implied question in the words, but his tone is steady and just shy of commanding.

It's been that kind of day.

The pretty young woman - from her age and appearance, she's probably working through college, or should be - looks up as Matt Parkman walks in with a hard swallow. "Ah. Secretary Parkman? Yes, ah…" She's a little flustered, "…right down the hall, third door on the right. You're expected."

If he were standing near the desk, Parkman might have rapped his knuckles on it in a nonverbal sort of thank you to the young woman. Instead, he nods, lifting a hand in a gesture halfway between a wave and a salute, and heads down the hall.

His gentility ends when he reaches the third door, and he opens it rather than knocking and waiting for permission. Then again, it's not as if Cardinal rings the doorbell before he wafts into Parkman's New York residence.

"Welcome to my office, Matt…" Cardinal leans forward to rest folded arms on the desk's edge, sitting there at his desk beneath the Mendez painting over
his head of a street corner where a woman and a man in a trenchcoat stand. The severed foot of a raptor-bot rests on his desk, used as a paperweight to
hold down some pages. A tired smile crooks up to the corner of his lips, "Have a seat."

"Don't play with me, Richard," Parkman all but barks back at the man on the other side of the desk as he sends the door swinging back into it's catch. "What've you got?" Because clearly there must be news - news important enough that it had to be relayed in person and with the guarantee that Parkman would get it in a timely fashion.

"Melissa Pierce." Cardinal's lips purse in a tight line as Matt immediately thrusts matters to business, "Were you in her head? More specifically, did you — make contact with any of Carmichael's triggers in her mind?"

Parkman's eyes immediately narrow, and he straightens his posture. "She should thank me," he says after a moment. "I didn't know what they were, but she should be glad they're gone." He's quiet then, his bottom lip pressing tightly against the top as his jaw tightens and his brow furrows. "You know a girl named Kaylee Thatcher? Works at that bookstore on Roosevelt? She came askin' about it too. How the hell she knows so much about what Carmichael can do doesn't sit that well with me, but I shouldn't be surprised."

"Shit." A hand lifts, rubbing between Cardinal's eyes, "This… isn't good. Yeah, I know Kaylee. She's a telepath I've consulted with on occasion… used to date Peter awhile back, not surprised that Messiah might've come to her about the triggers…" His hand drops, and his gaze lifts once more, "Matt, there's a reason that we haven't tried using telepaths to clear out Carmichael's work. It's telepathically contagious. You cleared her out, but chances are, you're infected by the same commands."

Parkman turns slightly with the implication. Kaylee had mentioned a risk, and he'd waved it off. But coming from Cardinal, it bears a little more weight. But the argument itself doesn't hold much evidence, and it's Parkman's job to examine evidence and be skeptical of effectively everything.

He turns slightly away from Cardinal and takes a deep breath. "We don't know what they were," he says after a moment, much of the steely edge gone from his tone of voice. "I mean, what would Carmichael give someone like Melissa to do? She's not Claire. Not that he isn't above sacrificing minions for his agenda, but Bennet at least can survive what he might make her do." Parkman shakes his head then, and turns back to face Cardinal head on again.

"Look, he didn't plant anything in Thatcher, right?" Parkman hopes he's right about that. "So maybe he didn't because he couldn't, or because it doesn't stick with telepaths. Besides, how is it any different from an illusion? One part of your brain trying to convince the other part of something that isn't true."

"As far as I know, he had no contact with Thatcher…" Cardinal closes his eyes, his head shaking slowly from side to side, "…I made some inquiries when I found out what Rupert could do. According to Company records of abilities like his, telepathic attempts at removal only infect the telepath."

A breath's drawn in, exhaled, and he raises his head once more to regard Matt seriously, "I know what one suggestion probably was, Matt. On November Eighth, assuming we can't stop it, there's going to be a broadcast of a trigger phrase… intended to turn everyone he'd ever had contact with into spree killers. The flashes that we've recorded, they— shit, Parkman, they're just wandering the streets murdering everyone they meet. There was one…" He grimaces, "…describing people walking around with their guts hanging out, still trying to kill."

Swallowing at the description and the reminder of the predicted carnage, Parkman steps forward and leans against the back of the chair offered to him earlier, his fingers pressing into the upholstery. "You have any intel on how they plan to do that?" His voice is suddenly much lower, despite the fact that Cardinal's offices are arguably as safe as his no-tech floor in Battery Park City. "We can try to block a pirated signal, or if you know what script he's slipped it into, we can pull the program before it has a chance to air."

"Sure, Matt," Cardinal's hands spread to either side, his tone dry, "Do you want to tell the President that you need to pre-empt his speech?" The sarcasm fades with an exhalation of breath as his hands drop down to rest on the desk, lips twisting into a grimace, "We don't know how he's taking over the broadcast exactly, unfortunately. We've been working on plans to just - black out radio and television transmissions at the right time, but we don't know if we can blanket the entire city."

The air that rushes out of Parkman's chest through his nose comes out in a woosh, punctuated by the soft protest of the chair beneath his fingers. It's not good news. None of it is. He'd planned to be in New York on the eighth, in order to help contain the inevitable chaos, but with Carmichael's own suggestions - whatever they may be - in his head, Washington is the last place he should be on that fateful day. Parkman swallows, closing his eyes for a moment.

"I haven't met with him yet," he says once he's reached a relative state of calm. "But with a nation-wide broadcast on multiple media channels, there are too many carriers for us to block the whole signal. And if he piggybacks, even just the local affiliates, we're fucked." There's another pause, and Parkman snorts. "Too bad Rebel hasn't defected."

"Rebel's been compromised as well…" Cardinal closes his eyes, "…I don't know how, but they've been infected by Carmichael somehow. A — computer virus, or something. We have our own technopaths, but there's only so much that they can do. We've got some intuitives working on building wide-spectrum jammers, too, and I was planning on asking the atmokinetics to make sure there's a storm to interrupt any satellite systems. It's not a perfect solution, though."

"Won't do any good," Parkman says with a shake of his head. He stands, all but pushing the chair away from him as he turns and starts to pace the width of the office. "You forget who put him where he is. This is all part of the plan, even if Carmichael is the fall-guy. And Mitchell wants it to go smoothly, so he's going to make sure there's a way for him to get in."

He stops then, but only to turn and approach Cardinal's desk so that he can lean over with his hands gripping the edge. "Now I can lay my cards on the table and throw more resources behind this, but you wanted us to be careful about this. But the fact is, Rich, you can't fight tanks with a pea-shooter rigged up out of tape, a paper clip, and some spit."

"Actually, you can… so long as you know where to shoot the spit ball," Cardinal replies quietly, his head shaking tightly, "I don't think that Carmichael's really working for Mitchell, though. I think he wanted him to think so… doesn't matter, anyway." The chair leans back with a creak, "If there's anything you can do to help cause a communications blackout in the city on that day, though…"

Parkman snorts a derisive burst of laughter then, followed by a shake of his head. "We'll try it, you and me, if we live past Christmas. Out in Nevada or something. But I get to be in the tank."

With a sigh, he pushes aside the brief moment of humor, if even brotherhood, and focuses on the serious matters at hand once more. "I'll see what I can do, even if it means scaring up some ex and wanna-be spooks to do it." A smile ghosts across his face again. "Maybe we can 'misschedule' some routine inspections of bits of the power grid."

It's simple, sure. But sometimes the only way to stop something is to pull the plug. Literally.

"Preferably the parts that keep major cable stations online…" Cardinal quirks a faint smile, and then it fades, and he regards the other man for a long moment, "Carmichael's gone to ground. Messiah's split entirely, between Carmichael's loyalists and the ones who've realized they were being manipulated."

"And we don't know where that ground is," Parkman says with a contemplative look toward the painting above Cardinal's head. "So we can't smoke him out." Still. Plenty of the Vanguard scattered like roaches when their plan foiled, never to be seen again. "He had others though," he adds with a slight tilt of his head.

"Like Smythe. And Nakamura. Smythe never met Carmichael - Petrelli made sure of it, and he seemed to have his own motives for wanting to off Praeger. And you can't convince me Nakamura let himself get duped like that."

"Smythe?" Cardinal's brow furrows a little, "Smythe who…? And what's Nakamura done?"

"Edgar Smythe. We brought him in after the standoff at the DHS Facility." Parkman lifts a hand to rub at his brow and then his jaw, where his five o-clock shadow stands out even in the relatively dim light, leaving Nakamura's involvement a mystery for now.

This can't go public, Richard. Not yet.

"Edgar? Christ…" Cardinal closes his eyes, drawing in a breath and exhaling it, "…Nakamura's got his own… thing going on, unconnected to anything else. Someone's trying to alter the past, and he's throwing people back to stop it. Gives me a fucking headache."

"That's not what I meant," Parkman says on the heels of Cardinal's response. But he pauses again, studying Cardinal's face as he weights the decision he's faced with. Ultimately, he turns away from the other man, rolling his shoulders and closing his eyes.

All I know is that he sprung Smythe out of our holding facility. In and out, and now the only guy we had from that whole fucking day - the only guy we could remotely say wasn't influenced by Carmichael is gone like a fart in the wind, courtesy of Hiro Nakamura.

I can't predict why Nakamura does anything at all, Matt. All I can tell you is that it probably doesn't have anything to do with Carmichael… Nakamura plucks people out of anywhere if he needs them. He's taken one of my people right out of the middle of an op before, it's fucking obnoxious.

Cardinal shakes his head slowly, "…I don't have any influence over him, so I can't tell you a thing. He works on a totally different level."

You know he isn't going to put him back where he found him.

Parkman purses his lips and then turns to look at Cardinal again, nodding his head. "I'll keep in touch. Let you know if I can wrangle the electricians we need to make sure there's no signal to ride on." With a brief smile, he gives the other man a parting nod before he heads toward the door.

"Alright. Just… be careful, Matt," Cardinal cautions, watching him step for the door, "I don't want to see you go as insane as some of the others."

The door clicks when Parkman turns the knob, and he looks over his shoulder as he opens it wide enough to slip through. "Don't worry about me," he says with a tired smile. Knowing something is coming as well as when it's coming are points in his favor.

"I'm a stubborn bastard."

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