Bad Bishop


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Scene Title Bad Bishop
Synopsis In chess, a bad bishop is a bishop piece which is hemmed in by the player's own pawns. — Richard Cardinal and Desmond Harper are trying to determine which side of the board their bad bishop belongs on.
Date September 29, 2010

Suresh Center

At the tracking and command center of the Commonwealth Institute's New York branch, dozens of voices create a susurrus of communication that blends into a droning background noise. Switchboard lights on call centers flash and darken, computer screens display city and street maps while a cork-board marked with photographs of wanted fugitives is angled near a whiteboard listing three names: Sabra Dalton, Gael Cruz, Benjamin Ryans. Each one is underlined, followed by lists of next of kin, last known residences and aliases. Surveillance photographs, months old, are taped up near the names.

Situated by the windows looking out towards the island of Manhattan's jagged silhouette, Agent Desmond Harper stands in silent consideration of the morning sunlight reflecting off of skyscrapers, and how the glassless ruins of Midtown look stark and flat against the gleaming reflection of the rising sun cresting the opposite horizon.

Situated on the corner of a desk near the busily active agents, a Blackberry's touch screen illuminates, the phone vibrating its way across the desk until it bumps into a cup of coffee. On the screen, a yellow notification of an incoming call reads: Bishop. E

Arching a brow as the phone noisily dances across the desk, Agent Harper turns to look back at it. Quickly striding across the carpeted floor, he retrieves the phone and offers a relieved smile when he sees Elle's name flash across the screen. There's a click and a beep as it picks up, and Harper's voice echoes over the other end of the line.

"Bishop, where are you?" Unfortunately for Desmond Harper, there isn't a tiny blonde on the other end of this phone call.

"Oh, I'm afraid that she's otherwise engaged right now, Agent Harper," replies the voice on the other end of the line, Richard Cardinal's voice the casual tone of someone who's discussing dinner arrangements with an old friend.

The lights are off in the man's office, the only illumination the soft glow of the LED screen that's cradled in his hand, its pale light showing the smile that curves up at one corner of his lips. Polished shoes are kicked up on the surface of his desk, the leather chair's back leaned against the wall beneath the original Mendez painting that hangs upon the wall overhead.

"I've been meaning to have a chat with you anyway… everyone keeps talking about you. I figured it was about time we introduced ourselves."

Harper's eyes go wide the moment that a male voice crackles ont he other end of the phone. Lifting one hand up into the air, Harper snaps his fingers repeatedly to get attention of the nearest communications agents, moving over to turn off their current phone calls and gesturing around the room for electronic surveillance teams to get back to their desks.

"Alright, why don't you tell me where agent Bishop is and let me know if she's alright. Then you and I can talk as much as you want…" Moving over to a desk set with computers, Harper sets down the Blackberry and turns on the speakerphone mode while a technician unplugs a tiny rubber stop on the bottom and inserts a clipped cable, then brings up a window on his PC as he slides into his wheeled desk chair.

A status bar on the screen comes up:

Triangulating call: 1%

"You really sound like one've those television cops when you say that," Richard observes with a low chuckle, "Elle's just fine. It's the least I can do for her father, after all… this is Desmond Harper, right? Agent of the Commonwealth Institute, FRONTLINE unit doesn't-officially-exist, all that…?"

He pauses, "I'd be really embarassed if I was talking to someone else."

"I am Desmond Harper," he notes with noticable redaction of other admittances as he leans over the desk the phone is set down on. In the background, all other phone conversations die down one by one as receivers are hung up and agents begin reaching out into their network, busily preparing bulletins and case records for the call as it's being recorded. "You know most gentlemen callers I get at least leave me their name, or a number i can reach them back at, you know. Who do I have the pleasure of speaking to?"

Through the office doors, a technician steps in from his coffee break, about to speak as Harper holds up a hand to him and then points down to the phone. Silence falls as the technician moves over to his desk, setting down his coffee and leaning over the shoulder of the man he shares a desk with, looking at the triangulation progress bar:

Triangulating call: 15%

"Oh, you know who I am, Harper," Cardinal replies, his tone amused, "You've been talking about me lately, I understand."

The polished shoes resting on the desk drop down, one at a time, to rest upon the floor as he leans forward with an audible creak of the chair tilting straight once more. One arm rests on the desk's surface, hand picking up the red-stained metal of a raptorbot's foot that he's been using as a paperweight, turning it over in his hand.

"This is Richard Cardinal."

Triangulating call 30%

"Mister Cardinal, I don't think you and I have had a chance to talk before, no." Waving a hand towards one of the data technicians, Harper steps over to their computer as a dossier is pulled up showing a photograph of a dark-haired and gray-eyed man as depicted on his Linderman Act Registration Card. Scanning the document, Harper's brows furrow. "Long way from Riker's these days, aren't you? I guess it can take a criminal to defend against them, I can admire that."

Taking one last look at the dossier, Harper leans in and pushes the tech aside and enters a security code with a few audible clicks on the keyboard, opening up further pages of information, scrolling down through a section listed as OPERATION: APOLLO. Harper's brows furrow as he reads, then looks back to the Blackberry on speakerphone.

"You don't seem like the kidnapping type though, Richard. I think you and I could get off on a good foot if you told me how you came into possession of agent Bishop's phone, or maybe where I might be able to find her?" There's a quirk of one of Harper's brows as he checks the triangulation data again.

Triangulating call: 45%

"I was a different man in those days," Cardinal admit, twirling the broken-off raptorbot's foot casually in his free hand before dropping it back down to the desk's surface with a muffled thump, "I was angry at the world when I should've been trying to fix it."
"As for the phone - well - She left it with me," he explains easily, "Along with a request for asylum from… oh, that's right… you. You can consider this her official resignation, Agent Harper. She's no longer interested in what your organization has to offer."

"Seriously, taking away her boyfriend? That's kind of cold, Harper."

Harper's jaw sets and his brows furrow, eyes cast askance to the progress bar before looking back to the phone. "Warren Ray isn't what she says he is, Richard. Agent Bishop requested to be taken out of supervision of Warren due to an incident that occured between them. When she went further and forced my hand to demand he be forced into mental reconstruction, I did what I could to set right the damage that his upbringing did. But I think you and I both know that might not entirely be a sure bet."

Pointing to an agent who has been just listening for the moment, Harper points to the whiteboard, and the agent moves over, searching for the blue marker. "That phone is property of the Department of Defense and any information contained within is classified. I think it would be mutually beneficial if you agreed to return the phone, because I'm not sure you or I want the Department of Homeland Security knocking down your door to search your business and the residences of your business associates. It's not worth that much to you."

Triangulating call: 75%

Harper looks up as the agent writes Eleanor Bishop beneath Benjamin Ryans' name. Breathing in deeply, Harper exhales a sigh and shakes his head. "Elle Bishop is confused, Richard, and I believe she needs help. She's a liability to anyone she's around, and I'd like it if we could come to an arrangement where we help each other out. Do you think that would be possible?"

"Oh, I know what Warren Ray is, Agent Harper," Cardinal replies mildly, "Do you? I really don't think you understand the intricities of this game that you're playing… and I'll happily return the phone, now that you've informed me of the situation. I'm a law abiding citizen, after all."

"I'm listening, Harper. Talk fast."

Triangulating call: 90%

"I need Bishop, and you don't." Harper notes in a slow drawl, as if being a little sarcastic. The wag of his brows is entirely lost on Cardinal. "It's as simple as that. If she went to you, then there's probably a good reason. Maybe trust, maybe something otherwise. But right now I think you're smart enough to realize that she's damaged goods. Whatever her father did to her put her in a bad way, Richard, and it needs to be straightened out."

Looking up at Elle's name on the whiteboard, Harper's brows furrow and his shoulders hunch forward, one hand rubbing at his mouth slowly before he looks back down to the Blackberry. "Help us bring her in. She's dangerous if left alone, Richard, dangerous to both of us. You help arrange for a meeting between the two of you that my people and I can be aware of ahead of time, and we'll pick her up. She doesn't need to know you were involved ta all, no one does. I think we'd both like it that way."

Triangulating call: 100%

The moment that progress bar finishes and the map of NYC comes up, Harper's brows lift up as he sees the address for Redbird Securities show as the triangulated location of the call. Exhaling a sigh, there's a rub of his hand at the back of his neck, not quite the startling revelation he'd been hoping for. "What do you say, Richard?"

"I know what her father did to her, Harper," Cardinal admits quietly, "It was unforgivable… but I don't think that you can help her. You want her as a field agent, for her skills as a hunter and killer. What she needs is psychiatric care and empathy, both of which me and my people are prepared and capable of providing her with."

The chair creaks softly as he leans back, feet kicking up onto the edge of the desk, one ankle resting against the other, "Do you actually care about what happens to her, Harper? Because if you do, I have a proposal."

"She has a psychiatrist that she refuses to see and she had my utmost respect until she began to jeapordize the stability of agent operations with her actions. Her choices have consequences, I think you can understand that." Moving to sit on the corner of the table where the phone had originally been ringing, Harper folds his hands in his lap, looking down to the Blackberry. "I'm willing to hear you out, but you have to be aware that Agent Bishop is a danger to everyone she's around and that there are already out for her safe return."

One brow lifting slowly, Harper angles his head towards the phone. "I think the more fair question is, do you care about her, Richard? Because from where I'm sitting, I can't see why you would."

"It's called human empathy, Harper," Cardinal replies in amused tones, "You might want to try it out sometime, assuming that your heart wasn't confiscated at some point during your on the job training…"

"She asked me for help. Call it chivalry if it helps you sleep better at night. I can ensure that she sees a psychiatrist - I presume that she was seeing Doctor Sheridan? I can even ensure that she goes back to her if you prefer," he observes, "You and I both know that she wasn't exactly a trusted person amongst her former employers - she doesn't have the sensitive information you're hunting down the others for. I do agree that her actions have consequences. I don't know that she does."

"Do you agree that, without direct mental coercion that might well backfire, that she'll continue to rebel against you and your organization if she goes back in?"

"That's not the issue at all," Harper states with a shake of her head, "she is an agent under my supervision who had effectively gone rogue and made attempts to undermine our agency's operations. I don't think I need to explain to you that wheels are already turning, and if she doesn't end up in my care, another government agency is going to get her and it'll be prison and short trial before her death sentence. I can't stop what Elle has put in motion, Richard, and if you refuse to cooperate I can pull you and all yours in for aiding and abetting a Company conspirator."

Exhaling a slow sigh through his nose, Harper shakes his head. "Just letting her off her leash to play in your pen isn't going to cut it. She made these mistakes, and she needs to face the consequences of them otherwise you and your company will. I don't want to have to use leverage, Richard, but she needs to be brought in. Whether it's a trial or a second chance is up to you…"

There's a furrow of Harper's brows, a deep breath and a slowly exhaled sigh through his nose. "She's beyond psychiatric help now. She's a liability, and one I can make complicate your whole life unless you give me very good reason otherwise. The request made from my superiors regarding you don't run counter to that."

"You really want to play it that way, Harper?" There's an honestly questioning tone to Cardinal's voice, "Really? You could come after me, sure. You'd raid my business, hurt some of my employees… then I'd be forced to retaliate by releasing large reams of evidence regarding your Agency into the public sphere - and I assure you that you couldn't stop me there, or stop it - and matters would just sort of snowball from there until they reached a point that not even Warren's father could properly predict."

The chair snaps up again, and the amusement leaves his voice entirely, "You know damn well that you could stop anything Elle has put in motion in a heartbeat, Harper, because she hasn't done anything other than go AWOL right now. Do not talk to me like I'm some kind of idiot."

"Ball's in your court, Richard. Is your company worth Elle Bishop? She's not going to come to harm, she just needs to be reined in before she does do something reckless and gets someone — or herself — killed. You've got until we end this call to make that decision, but I can assure you whatever information it is you think you have about my department won't make up for what happens to you and yours. There won't be an eye for an eye there."

Breathing in deeply, Harper lifts up one hand to the side of his head, fingers rubbing slowly. "All we want is our agent and our physical property back, and I don't think that's too much to ask for. You give us the phone and whatever information you have on Elle's whereabouts and we can call it square… you help us out by setting up a meeting where we can take her in? Then maybe my department might have some reciprocal back-scratching to offer you."

Angling a look down to the screen on the phone, Harper quirks one brow. "A favor from our side could go a long way for you. You have my word on that, because you have some friends in this agency that would see it through to completion. Weigh your options."

"You can have your physical property back," Richard replies with a rough exhalation of breath, "I've already promised you that. If there's anything else that she possesses that you'd like returned, just let me know, and I'll send it back to you."

"I'm telling you that I can rein her in," he states simply, "If you take her in, you're just going to hand her over to Rene, or worse, and I'm not going to let you do that, Harper. The girl's been through enough, and to be honest, your treatment of her has essentially just been a continuation of her father's torture. She's basically a little girl that's been taught to kill, Harper, and no matter what you try to do to fix her… you're just going to break her."

"I'll even take legal responsibility for her, if you like."

Silence for a moment, and Harper picks up the phone, unplugging it and turning off speakerphone. "You don't know a thing about how Bishop has been treated, Richard. Whatever she's told you, I'm imploring you to consider the source. She'll tell you whatever it is you want to hear in order to gain her way, but I assure you she has had nothing but respect and trust from me since day one. That she abandoned her current assignments to try and turn on my organization isn't something I can just overlook."

"Letting her go with you would mean covering up her existance, keeping her hidden when we're not getting any benefit out of it. There's nothing working in our favor on this side, Richard, look at it from our perspective. I still have an oversight comittee I answer to, and when an agent goes rogue — openly — I can just turn the other cheek without ensuring that any further damage she can do to this organization is mitigated."

Stepping towards the windows, Harper's brows furrow. "I wanted to talk to her and see what it is that's wrong with her. But I'll cut a deal with you. If you want Bishop, we'll give her to you, on the condition that the classified information she has gets excised from her memory. You know our specialist, you know what he does and how precice he can be."

Harper's brows furrow slowly. "Otherwise it's a dangerous game you're playing. You say you don't know where she is, that goes on record. Fine. When Elle decides to turn on you to get back in our good graces? I can't control what happens after that. It's your choice… we clean out what sensitive information she knows and leave her with you or you play blind and my agency waits for you or her to slip up. If, of course, you won't help us pull her in."

"That's cute," Cardinal chuckles under his breath, "You think I actually listen to anything Elle says?"

There's silence for a few moments from the other side of the phone, and then a sound of affirmation, "Alright. I'll take that deal, Desmond. Send me Rene, call off the dogs, and I'll… see if I can find her to come in and get stripped of anything classified from her head."

"I don't want her because of what she knows, or what she can do, Desmond," he says more quietly, "I'm just trying to do what I think is right."

"Same as you, I presume."

Silence is Harper's initial response, brows furrowed as he stares at his own muted reflection in the glass of the window. Richard Cardinal is everything that Simon Broome had warned him about, more so than Harper even expected. The knowledge of classified groups and individuals should have him at the top of the Institute's apprehension list, not Sabra Dalton. But therein lies the mystery, why is he allowed to continue doing what he does?

"You have twenty-four hours to set it up. I'll send an intern down to pick up the phone from your office before business closes today. You can get back to me at this number when you're ready to meet." Though as Harper looks back to the room of expectantly waiting agents over his shoulder, there's a tension that rises in his back and up the back of his neck.

Eyes narrow, his jaw sets, and Harper looks back to the ruins of midtown in the distance. "There is no right and wrong in this world, Richard." That's Desmond Harper's outlook on thing though, one of many, one jaded by perspective. "There's just what's necessary for the future."

"I don't see why there can't be both," replies Richard Cardinal simply, "I guess that's the difference between us, though, Desmond."

"The phone'll be waiting down at the desk with the receptionist. This'll be the only call that I made on it, you can check for yourself… and I'll set things up for tomorrow," he offers, "Don't try and double deal on me here, though, Harper. Not when we're so close to having such a good relationship here."

He's about to hang up, then a smile curves to his lips in the dark, "Oh, and— tell Simon I've been practicing for our next game."

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