An Open And Shut Case


cardinal_icon.gif peter_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Scene Title An Open and Shut Case
Synopsis Peter, Cardinal and Veronica discuss their mission in a seedy bar on the day of their arrival in Argentina.
Date November 24, 2009

El Palenque, Argentina

"I miss drinking…" Peter's greeting is a somber one, followed by the clunk of that black Haliburton case he has handcuffed to his wrist being set down on the table. Peter's blue eyes peer over at the drink in the Richard's hand, then divert to the muted reflection of the bar's dingy lights in the table. "I didn't think I'd ever be working with you after what you pulled at the library…"

Pulling a chair out for himself, Peter settles down into the seat and furrows his brows, creasing that scar that bisects his face raggedly. "Jensen said he's going to meet up with us later, he's ding a sweep of the town and getting a feel for the local climate. It's been a long time since either of us were in South America…" The briefcase is laid down flat, and Peter folds his leather-gloved hands atop it. "So… how'd you get involved in this?"

"What I pulled?" A hint of dark amusement threads through Cardinal's voice as he looks up to the man arriving at the table, "All I did, Petrelli, was introduce you… it's not my fault you didn't like that. You might've gotten a warmer reception if you knocked, too, rather than breaking in past our security. But, let's let bygones be bygones ther, I suppose…"

A sip of the liquor's taken, and he tilts it towards Peter, pointing out, "It's a long story. I'm the one who suggested that the Remnant be brought in to use what they know, though. Holden agreed. I suppose he forgot to mention that, eh?"

One dark brow raises slowly, and Peter's head dips down into a reluctant nod. "Ethan…" A faint smile toys at one side of his mouth and his head bobs once more in that nod. "Actually, my circumstances for, ah… recruitment, were a bit different. I had a favor to give to a young woman that was suffering from an incurable disease that I met through the Ferry. Afterwards I set out to make a few visits to old haunts in London, Prague, Tibet and Shanghai." He pats the case gently under his hand.

"When I got back to the states, I found the Remnant's operation headquarters empty, and the fallback point was notably devoid of presence, save for the President." Peter's head quirks to the side at that, shoulders rising and falling in a shrug. "He asked me, very nicely." There's some sarcasm there, more Peter than what he plays host to.

"Very charitable of you." The tip of Cardinal's finger slides back and forth along the edge of his glass, watching the other man through his shades for a long moment's silence before exhaling a faint snort of breath. "The President… right," he chuckles, breath stirring over the surface of his drink as he takes another swallow. Then it's set off to one side, and he leans back again.

"The President and I are working off the same orders, more or less. The situation needs to be contained. In another timeline, your father would've taken care of all of this, but…" Wry, "…obviously, that's impossible now. I have people in every team, we were dispatched to make sure everything goes smoothly."

So much for sleeping. Veronica enters the bar, though now she's dressed a little more in keeping with the villagers — a loose dusty blue skirt that comes to her skins, an embroidered blouse no-doubt bought from the village's marketplace. It's better to come into the bar looking like a local than an American, if one's on their own. The men won't mess with a local woman — not that the men would want to mess with Agent Sawyer. She notices the two men and gives them a nod, approaching slowly enough that they can drop any awkward conversation topics by the time she gets there.

"Do you have any idea how Arthur would've taken care of it?" Peter leans back in his chair, spotting agent Sawyer out of the corner of his blue-eyed stare, brows creasing together before he reluctantly waves her over — as if she needed the permission — with a motion of two gloved fingers. The act, though, doesn't break conversational stride.

"Because I don't know much about the actual events of that timeline, and I'm not about to try and squeeze them out of Helena. I don't even know who else does know what happened. Right now, all I have to go on are fragmentary memories from…" Peter cuts himself off, biting down on his lower lip as he looks to Veronica, then back to Cardinal. "Everything Volken knew isn't all up there. It's like having partial amnesia, sometimes things are there, sometimes they're knocked free."

"Unfortunately, no…" Cardinal's nose wrinkles in a brief grimace, "…the Doctor didn't know exactly how Arthur dealt with the situation, only that it existed, and he was able to extrapolate what it was given the information on hand. More than likely he just threw some FRONTLINE-based black ops group at the problem and made it go away."

The arrival of Veronica's noticed, but the words about memories bring his attention sharply to Peter— and he freezes for a moment, like a mongoose that's just spotted a cobra, hand half-reaching for his drink before slowly withdrawing. "Mnm. Well. That could be useful. I hope you understand why I'm a little leery of the entire situation."

The agent moves toward the other two, making the trio look rather out of place, with Cardinal in his BDUs and Peter in his suit. "I hope you have some other clothes with you. The suit won't make for very comfortable mountain hiking," she says quietly, with a smile. "Do you mind if I sit with you guys or am I interrupting something important?" She's trying to be polite. But she does have to work with these men, and eventually they have to trust her to a degree, and likewise. Bonding may as well start soon.

"Actually, agent Sawyer, having you here will preclude my needing to speak with you in private later. If we're all going to be working together on this it means most of us should be on the same page." Rapping his fingers over the top of the briefcase, Peter's blue eyes level on Cardinal.

"I understand why you're anxious, but I know nothing I say won't assuage that. Right now, my priority is preventing that nuclear warhead from detonating, and removing the remainder of the Vanguard from this region. However, there's something I want to share between the two of us, and it stays in this room. I don't want Ross and I don't want Varlane knowing what I'm about to show you."

Reaching down to the briefcase he's handcuffed to, Peter begins to dial in the combination of the locks with his thumbs.

"Agent Sawyer." Cardinal lifts the drink in his hand in casual salute, and then turns his attention back towards Peter as his fingers drum over the briefcase's surface. He tilts his head in a slight nod, admitting, "You just named two of the people I least trust with sensitive information here, so I'm good with that."

She slides into one of the rickety seats and tilts her head curiously at Peter. "Me, too. Varlane can't keep a secret, and while Ross might be my superior, it doesn't mean I trust him either," she says honestly, realizing that to some point, honesty is her best ally here, if she is going to trust these men and have them trust her. "You can drop the agent. Sawyer, Veronica, Vee, whatever works. I don't need the title, especially when I know it's not one that earns me any respect."

When the case comes open, Peter rises from his chair and turns it around to face Cardinal and Veronica. Both of his dark brows raise as he lets them eye the contents. "I retrieved this from a Vanguard facility in Shanghai just days before I was recruited, or at least, what was left of the facility. Marines attempted a raid of the compound, and from the looks of it the Vanguard commander there self-destructed the entire base with everyone inside. I don't know if anyone survived, but this briefcase was held by one of the marines…"

Closing the case slowly, Peter slides the latches shut and furrows his brows. "I think the two of you can surmise what the contents mean for us." There's a tone of gravity in Peter's voice as he says those words. "Moreover, I'm doubly worried that I can't think of a better solution."

The contents of the case are examined in silence for a few moments, Cardinal's arm resting on the table's edge, and then he leans back with a slight frown curving his lips. "Practical," he admits, his tone rather dry, "If we find it, though, I can take care of it. Presuming someone hasn't done something entirely stupid like touch it."

Veronica looks into the case, her brows furrowing together, and then looking at one man, then the other as Peter latches it once more. "We should make sure we establish a protocol for the rest of the team, if that's the case," she nods to Cardinal. She looks to Peter. "The other teams, in Madagascar and Russia — do they have this information as well?"

"I don't know. Each team might have a nuclear specialist, but I haven't seen anyone else with this briefcase here yet." Rubbing his forehead with one gloved hand, Peter takes a seat in his chair again. "Right now, all I know is that our ace in the hole is going to be Jensen. He knows this territory better than anyone, and he might be able to put together a comprehensive plan to deal with the Vanguard."

Looking up to Sawyer, Peter's brows furrow. "Did you have any luck talking to the locals yet? I saw a couple of men with that scarred branding on their face just coming from the motel out here to the bar. I figure they might know about how the Vanguard are able to capture and mark them. This is just… it's strange. The Vanguard's MO was executions not brandings. Whatever Rameirez is doing here, I don't think he's following the beat of the same drum anymore."

"Jensen seems to know this Ramirez guy pretty well, he might be the best one to talk to about it," Cardinal points out, his head shaking tightly, "I might be able to get in contact with the other teams at some point. If I can, I'll let them know. Until then… well, we'll have to hope that things work out. Claire has a copy of the disarmament codes, but I don't think my agent in Russia does."

"I've walked about a bit, trying to get a feel for the locals, went to the market. I didn't see any of the scars myself yet, but I'll keep an eye out for them, see if I can talk to them. I can't quite pass for totally local, but they might think I'm from another region. I figured I'd look around some more tonight or tomorrow, see what I can find out."

"Disarmament codes?" Peter's brows crease and his focus breaks from Veronica to Cardinal. "How— How did you get your hands on those? Does anyone outside of this room here know about them? Because as much as I'd like to keep this between the people I think I can trust, that might be good information to disseminate to the remainder of the team in the case we find it."

Peter raps his fingers on the top of the briefcase again, head tilted to one side slightly. "I think out of everyone here, you'll have the best luck talking to the locals, Veronica. Company training, local language proficiency, pretty." Blue eyes lid halfway as he looks down to the briefcase. "Jensen speaks it, yeah. He spent years out here, so he's familiar with the local dialects. The two of you might make a good team, actually…" which, ultimately, is a worrisome thought. "Just, try to be tolerant. He's— well, he's Jensen Raith."

"They're information," Cardinal's fingers brush in a vague, dismissive gesture through the air, "What I do is gather information and then decide how best to use it. One of my associates acquired the codes for me a month or two back. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in the meeting, it's self-arming… if anyone so much as jostles the thing wrong, it'll start countdown, and there's no way to reverse it."

He turns the glass in his hand slowly, ice clicking on the inside through the sparse liquor as he regards it silently for a moment, "I haven't mentioned this to anyone else, no. I'm not entirely trusting of our handlers. Even less so now that I've seen what's in your case there."

"There's going to need to be tolerance all around, I think," Vee says in her hushed husky voice. "But don't worry. My partner back home is utterly intolerable, and yet I manage somehow not to kill him. Well, mostly because he's nigh impossible to kill." She smiles, softly, thinking of her cranky partner Lu. "The codes, though, shouldn't every team have those? I'd assume someone does, whoever would be the one to try to disarm it on our team? Maybe they don't want the rest of us to have it so we don't jostle it — I mean… Varlane, he'd try to be a hero, if he could, don't you think?"

"Ross might not be aware what orders the nuclear inspectors were given, too." Peter admits with a roll of his shoulder. "I watched the debriefing video, it sounds like the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing at all times. Hell, this might not even be official orders, someone on the inside might have altered the inspectors documents to facilitate God knows what. I don't know…"

Breathing in deeply, Peter exhales a slow sigh. "Right now Ross seems like he doesn't want to be here, and I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. No one benefits from the nuke going off, especially not the people who might be in the blast radius. I think, for now, we should try to work together. Though, I'll reserve my judgment of Ross until we go hiking." In a suit. "As for Varlane…" Peter groans out a sigh, "He's… on my list of people to talk to. Hopefully Raith can keep him in line."

"He probably would," Cardinal admits, his tone wry as he glances up from his drink— hesitating a moment before allowing more seriously, "Alright. I'll let everyone know, then, although I'll be keeping the actual codes to myself for now, thank you very much. I don't care to be more expendible than I already am. I suspect the weapon isn't in any of these locations, though. My orders were to gather information as to its location." One might suspect he doesn't mean orders from the military.

"Well, if you don't know it isn't in any of the locations we're at, it doesn't mean it's not. But yeah, we might just get some information and find out where it is. My hope is it's at some remote desert island so if disarmament fails…" she waves her hand to fill in the blanks — that there wouldn't be a huge loss of life, that she personally wouldn't be standing next to it holding a flashlight or something.

"I've a very bad feeling about where the warhead is…" Peter admits darkly, his pale eyes focused on the case in front of him. "A very bad feeling."

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