...And Everything In Its Place


broome_icon.gif df_cardinal2_icon.gif zimmerman_icon.gif

Scene Title …And Everything In Its Place
Synopsis Elements of the Institute discuss current plans while Aric Gibbs is prepped for surgery.
Date January 11, 2011

Mount Natazhat Facility

Copper River, Alaska

"We have reached a compromise," is the first words out of Richard Cardinal's borrowed mouth as he hastily makes his way in through the door into the conference room. It is small comfort, if any, to one of the two men waiting for him inside. Seated around the temporary portable table surrounded by wheeled office chairs, Doctors Simon Broome and Jonas Zimmerman look equal parts concerned and unsettled.

Richard Cardinal, whether by affect or inhumanity seems neither. Business is progressing, and that business of insurance is his most important priority. A black suit and gray pinstripes makes him look as stark as Broome does in his ubiquitous black suit and tie, but Richard's white wool jacket — partly to keep off the cold and partly for fondness — gives him an unlikely lighter color scheme. "I know you had reservations about Bishop, and that's understandable…" Cardinal continues, briskly walking to the wheeled chair at the head of the table. "Elle won't be harmed."

A lifetime of inhumane work drove Jonas Zimmerman gray, and his shoulder-length hair being a shock of white is no surprise to the two other men in this room. With his hands folded over one another and mouth hidden behind them, he looks as though he may simply begin praying at any moment. That, perhaps, might surprise them. Instead, all Zimmerman does is slowly close his eyes and exhale a weary sigh and slouch into a wordless nod.

"Doctor Zimmerman may not be willing to voice his reservations on this further," Simon speaks up, looking from Jonas over to Cardinal as the younger man settles in to his seat, "but I have some uncertainty about the methods used to perform this test, Richard. The Institute had no documented reason to apprehend Aric Gibbs the way we did from the Suresh Center. We could have waited and retrieved him later, in all likelihood the DoEA would have simply kept him confined on Roosevelt— "

"Simon," Cardinal interjects, lifting one gloved hand up in a gesture indicating him to hold his words. "As soon as they let Gibbs go he would have gone underground. There's no way he would have agreed to stay on Roosevelt Island, he would have ducked into the Ferry or Messiah or any number of other ways out and we wouldn't have been able to find him. It was an opportunity and I seized it. The project can't handle any more setbacks, the longer we wait the longer it is before we get connectivity running."

Cardinal reclines back in his chair, crossing one leg over the other and folding gloved hands in front of himself. "I understand that you're both worried about Gibbs' rate of survival after what happened to Doctor Pine. Pine's electrokinetic ability is no where near on par with that of Bishop's, and we know that Tyler's ability transferring is at a one-to-one ratio." Dark eyes sweep over to Zimmerman, finding the old scientist's focus settled down on the faux-wood patterning on the table.

"It isn't the results I'm worried about." Simon protests in Zimmerman's silence. "I'm worried about the morality of this issue. We had talked about speaking to Elle personally, asking her if she would be a willing participant in this project. You yourself said that she might be amenable to the idea, Richard, when we first set about this. Then you decided to test an unfinished system on Doctor Pine, and now he's gone." Simon's coal black eyes fix on Richard's only slightly lighter shade.

"We are going to burn bridges if we keep operating at the speed we are. I did not organize the Institute in your absence as carefully as I did to have it torn apart by impatience." The tone Simon takes causes Zimmerman to look up, his eyes made to seem subtly larger behind the round lenses of his eyeglasses. Still, the elderly doctor has nothing to say, though his thoughts wander back to arguments like this had around a conference table at the Company decades prior.

A sigh is cardinal's immediate response, followed by a flippant wave of one hand. "Please, Simon. The DoEA is a bunch of ruthless, cut-throat psychopaths with no forward vision of the future. I've seen what they become and whatever cruelty we might seem to have it is nothing compared to what their administration has lined up for this world in the coming year alone. Do you think those machines outside were made for us?" Both of Richard's brows rise slowly.

"No," he affirms to his own rhetorical question. "We're going to be in the same position as the Company eventually unless we manage to right ourselves. There is a war coming, Simon, and I'm not even speaking of a metaphorical us versus them conflict. War, with a capital W, war that will burn a hole in the sky and make Midtown look like a traffic accident." Both of Richard's hands slam down on the table as he rises up out of his chair.

"The time for patience and the time for trepidation is over! Neither of you know fully what's at stake!" Waving one gloved hand widly in the air, Cardinal curls his fingers shut into a fist. "This project is our lifeline, because as much as I can use my future as a road map for what's coming there have already been changes, some large enough to make me worry and make me wonder what is causing them. I have been so— so careful to keep history on the proper course! I need to know what is going on."

Fear briefly flashes across Cardinal's features, followed by a steeling of his expression and a squaring of his jaw. "If either of you wanted to have a crisis of conscience the opportunity for that passed when you brought me back." Biting tones are delivered from Cardinal to both doctors, and only then does Zimmerman finally speak up.

"It will work," is breathily admitted in stilted German tones. That he speaks has both Cardinal and Simon halting their argument, turning attention to the weary doctor. "The electrical stimulation, it will work. Elle Bishop's ability is capable of handling an unprecedented level of electrical output. But…"

Zimmerman slowly rises up from his seat, smoothing down the front of his slacks before turning a frustrated gaze on Cardinal. "This is not Elle Bishop. As much as mister Gibbs has her ability he does not have her level of control. There is not telling what sort of repercussions this will have on both the system and Aric's life. If he dies, herr Cardinal, then what?"

Richard's brows furrow, jaw sets crookedly and eyes cast askance to Broome, then back to Zimmerman. "Then we call up Stevens and we try again." Zimmerman has no response to that, save for wide-eyed silence and an eventual turn of his attention down to his feet as he shuffles away from the table. Seeing that hesitance and Simon's own disbelief, Cardinal scrubs a gloved hand over his mouth and then sweeps his hand back through his hair.

"Sacrifices need to be made, or the human race is going to wipe itself out. You both know this," Richard demands as he turns his attention to Broome. "Get Gibbs set to be interfaced with the machine, and…" Cardinal's lips downturn into a frown and both hands curl tightly into fists at his side. "Make sure that mister Maddox is awake and ready to start."

Only then, when it seems as though he is being dismissed does Simon move to stand up from his chair. Dark eyes meet Cardinal's, then look away as he shakes his head slowly. Neither he not Zimmerman have anything further to say to Cardinal as they leave the conference room's concrete-walled silence, and beneath the flickering glow of fluorescent lights Cardinal's own silence seems punctuated by that buzzing, and the creak of leather gloves tightening closed.

When the conference room door closes and both doctors have left Cardinal alone, he turns to look down at the table, tension ebbing out of him and body relaxing.

If only just.

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