Blood Calls Out for Blood


cardinal_icon.gif eileen3_icon.gif

Scene Title Blood Calls Out for Blood
Synopsis A chance encounter outside the Lighthouse ruins turns into a temporary allegiance between two like-minded individuals with similar goals.
Date July 6, 2009

Staten Island — Outside the Lighthouse

The sun's just sinking down beneath the horizon, drawing with it evening's blanket over the world. There lingers smoke here, rising from the ruins about the Lighthouse, and the wise aren't venturing too close. The news that some enterprising scavenger's geiger counter went off spread pretty quickly, and nobody wants to risk that rumour being true. Radiation sickness is, as New York knows only too well, a horrible way to die. The Midtown Man was here, some whisper, though that's an even more fragile rumor.

The truth is, someone far worse than Gabriel Grey walked here, where children once played.

Amongst those brave enough to skirt the fringes of the destruction is one Richard Cardinal; a dark jacket despite the summer warmth draped over his shoulders, gloved hands, black jeans and a fedora capping his head incongruously. He steps over a fallen street sign, one foot perching on it as he scans the landscape, lips pursing in a thin line.

It's like something straight out of a photojournalist's wartime portfolio. Scraps of brightly coloured clothing are scattered amidst the rubble along with twisted shards of broken glass, half-melted, and the telltale signs that the smell of burnt flesh suffusing with the air isn't just Cardinal's imagination. A multitude of crows and gulls sifts through the wreckage with sickle beak and toe, turning over the smaller pieces of debris and congregating gargoyle-like around the larger ones.

Eileen is among them, seated on the edge of what was once a cot but has since been reduced to a heap of twisted metal spilling over with chunks of bloodstained stuffing. Unlike Cardinal, she isn't wearing a coat — her leather shoulder holster and the pistol tucked beneath the pit of her arm are in plain view as she stares out across the adjacent field of saltgrass rippling in the breeze, unmoving.

The sweep of Cardinal's gaze across the crumpled ruins of what was once the brightest beacon of hope of Staten Island halts as it falls upon the figure seated there on the twisted wreck of a couch. It lingers there a moment, as if uncertain if he's really seeing her, and then a faint smile twists touched with bitter rue to his lips. The foot atop the sign's post drops, leaving the cheap aluminum to bounce slightly with the release of weight, and boots crunch over the shattered bits of glass and porcelain and stone as he approaches.

"Eileen." A quiet voice, splitting the air, the simple greeting heavy with the emotion of the day.

Eileen turns her head just enough to make out Cardinal's shadowy outline in her peripheral vision. The way the light reflects off cheeks, less than matte, suggests that she's been crying, but her eyes are clear when she swings the rest of her body around to face him and climbs to her feet. Startled by the movement, the birds closest to her perch explode into the air with a raucous chorus of hoarse voices and thundering wing beats, only to settle a few feet away — some on the rocks, others on a bent length of insulated drainpipe.


"Good to see you under better conditions." Sardonic, the smile that briefly curves his lips, before it fades as he pauses nearby— close, but not too close. When last they touched, after all, the result was less than pleasant. Cardinal's hands tuck into the pockets of his jacket, the open garment drawn further so by the motion, the holstered pistol there echoing the one she's wearing. As crows and gulls explode to flutter through the area, he turns his head to regard the heart of the blast through drifting feathers, his voice quiet, "How've you been?"

Eileen's response is to gesture in the direction of the Lighthouse itself with a slow, rolling shrug of her left shoulder. The right leads down into an arm with a plastic brace affixed to the wrist, but it's probably safe to assume the injury isn't serious — her fingers flex freely, tense with nervous energy. "Everyone is dying," she says. "You tell me."

A sidelong look lets Cardinal regard her for a few moments. "Brian's alive," he observes, "I'm told most've the kids got out. It… could've been worse. It's bad, yeah…" He lets a sigh hiss past his teeth as he looks back to where the Lighthouse's foundations have been blasted by the nuclear detonation that occured here, "…but it could've been worse. One more sin that Arthur has to pay for."

This is a sentiment that Eileen has been hearing a lot of lately. She'd be lying if she suggested to Cardinal that she hasn't come to agree. She stoops down to pick up the remains of a stuffed koala, its gray fur singed black, one licorice button eye hanging out of its socket by a frayed piece of thread. "Phoenix is planning to make a move against him soon," she tells Cardinal, statement punctuated by a low, rasping squeak from somewhere inside the toy as Eileen gives its belly an experimental squeeze. "I take it you intend on doing the same."

The stuffed animal's sad, pathetic little squeak draws Cardinal's gaze unto it, expression tightening a bit as if something about that simple evidence of what happened here just slugged him in the stomach. He turns away, forced silent for a moment as his gaze rakes over the ruins, the twisted remnants of furniture, of cherished belongings shattered and strewn over the area. His jaw tightens. "You might say that. I plan on killing him, actually."

"Good." Eileen turns the koala over in her hand and inspects the tag sticking out of the seam where its leg meets its bottom. The care instructions faded a long time ago, but the initials branded across the tab with the point of a felt marker are as clear as if they'd been written yesterday. Property of a B.Z. "He's keeping a friend of mine somewhere inside the Jersey facility," she adds after a pause, brow knit into a troubled expression that mirrors the downward curve of her mouth. "Maybe we can coordinate our efforts."

There's silence for a few beats of time, before Cardinal slides one hand from his jacket pocket, fingers pushing back through his hair to comb it back and away from his face— it's getting a little long. Could use a trim. He's generally kind of scruffy these days, in fact. Too much to do. Too little time to do it in. "I'm already coordinating with Phoenix," he admits, looking over, a single brow arching as he gives her a curious sort of look, "Or're you planning on rescuing him yourself?" She's bold enough, in his experience. She just might try that.

"I don't think I could get inside by myself, never mind navigate the building." That's a no. "I'm pulling together a small team of people who either owe us a favour or have their own vendetta against Petrelli. Three so far, aiming for six." Eileen offers Cardinal a faint smile that's tight on her lips and a few steps down from genuine. "Don't worry," she says. "I learned my lesson with Logan."

"So did I." Just a hint of a smile to his own lips. It's dark humor, but in these days, one takes what they can get. Cardinal's head tilts in a slight nod then, considering her for a moment before admitting, "Could be just what I need. Phoenix'll probably go for the loud, flashy assault; I was thinking I'd have to sneak in alone during their distraction, but if you've already got a team…"

"I have a work-in-progress," which is the kindest euphemism Eileen can think of on such short notice. "If you're already working with Phoenix, maybe we ought to arrange a meeting with Dean to discuss when she plans on moving so we don't end up shooting at each other in the dark. You're right about loud and flashy — communication isn't exactly their strong point." She tucks the koala into the back pocket of her jeans. "If taking doors apart instead of kicking them down is more your style, you're welcome to go in with us. There's no reason you can't split off once we're all inside."

"I can coordinate between your people'n Dean," offers Cardinal with a slight tip of his head towards her; pausing, he corrects in brittle-dry tones, "Or, well, Cat anyway. I don't particularly care much for Dean's fuckin' attitude, honestly." He rubs a gloved finger under his lips, rustling the stubble growing there, "If you're planning on going in quiet, count me in. Mm. Heh. Maybe this plan'll work after all."

Mirroring Cardinal's gesture, Eileen dips her dark head into the slightest of nods, so small that it might even be missed if it weren't for the movement it sends snaking through her hair. "If it doesn't, it'll at least be one hell of a fireworks show."

"That it will… that it will." Cardinal's eyes close, and he takes a slow breath, exhaling it in a sigh that spills faintly past his lips as he steadies himself, "Blood calls out for blood, though, and I'm going to damn well answer it. Someone has to." After a silent moment, "So who d'you have? Anyone I might know? Or should I wait t'meet them?"

"Holden." Eileen can't remember off the top of her head if Cardinal has ever met Ethan, but his name has been floating around the Rookery long enough that she knows he's at least familiar with it. "One of my old contacts before Staten, goes by King of Swords. Ex-CIA, verifiably insane, but when it comes to pointing guns at things…" She trails off, unsure of the most appropriate way to finish that sentence without giving Cardinal second thoughts. Shakes her head when she comes up with nothing. "Deckard's next on my list."

"The Wolf." Cardinal's nose wrinkles ever so slightly in distaste, but he doesn't voice opposition to the idea. He is, after all, the best at what he does. The other names are considered, his head bobbing slightly to one, the other. "I can deal with insane ex-intel guys. I worked for one for awhile. I'm used to that. Deckard— man can handle himself in a fight, you might have to bully him into it, though. I'd trust him with my back."

He has Abigail's ability as well, though it isn't clear whether this is a detail that Eileen has factored into the equation. Mathematics, imagined or otherwise, either with people or with numbers, have never been her forte. "Bullying won't work," she says. "Money might, but I shouldn't have to offer much. He had a soft spot for Brian's kids, too — none of us want Arthur running loose. You know how to get in contact with me in case something comes up?"

"I would've gotten in touch earlier, if I did. I ran into Arthur just a… little bit after leaving Logan's hospitality suite." The latter words twist with dark humor once more, Cardinal's gaze hooding slightly as he turns his head away, lips pursing in a thin line. A moment's silence, before adding quietly, "Just wanted to make sure you knew I didn't blame you for… what happened."

Eileen visibly stiffens at the memory and averts her eyes, gaze creeping out to sea and the undulating shape of the setting sun reflected in the ocean's pristine silver surface. Cardinal might not blame her for what happened, but— "I do." She straightens her back, squares her shoulders, and takes a single step away. Glass crunches beneath her boots. One of the crows lets out a thin croak of warning. "Ask Cat to give you directions to the Garden if you don't have them already. I'm staying there with three of the children and a handful of other refugees from the mainland. No landline, but I'll have one of our people watch the gate."

The claim of who she blames isn't contested. Cardinal just nods, a motion so subtle it may not be seen. Far be it for him, of all people, to deny someone the right to carry blame upon themselves. "I know where the Garden is," he admits, finally looking back to her at the sound of the crow's croak; a brow lifting slightly, "Which kids?"

"Bai-Chan," says Eileen, "Lily, Carmen. I haven't a clue where the others are, only that the Ferry has them — they're safe." She trails her thumb along the edge of her holster's leather strap as her opposite hand — the one contained by the plastic brace — drops back to her side, the tips of her fingers curling loosely. "You know them?"

The names are listened, but there's no recognition, his head shaking slightly. "Not them. Zuleyka, Rocket… I know Rocket's safe, they sent word to his father, but I haven't heard anything about Zu." A flicker of worry, Cardinal's head shaking a little, "I'm sure she's fine, though. She's a tough girl."

"I'll let you know if I hear anything," Eileen resolves, and there's an underlying hint in her voice that suggests Cardinal do the same. She begins moving off, pointedly ignoring the few birds that refuse to budge from their roosts as they posture at her with splayed wings, parted beaks and hissing tongues. "Stay safe, Richard. We're counting on you now."

"You too, Eileen." Cardinal's boot nudges a chunk of charred wood that used to be a chair leg away, and he starts to trudge away from her through the ruins, towards the cleaner edge of things where shattered dreams give way to mere tired ones. A pause, though, as one of the darker-feathered birds makes an unpleasant hiss, and he tilts his head, visage half in shadow as he looks back to her. "Hey. One thing. You ever heard've anyone called 'the Raven' before?"

Eileen stops on the fringe of the property where the dirt gives way to tall stalks of saltgrass interspersed with weeds and the occasional splash of wildflowers. She keeps her back to Cardinal and the expression on her face carefully guarded. "I might have. Why?"

"Just somethin' I heard on the wind, is all." Cardinal turns back away from her, and he starts to walk once more, boots crushing burnt detritus down into the soil and dead grass in his path, "Just curious, really."

And now Eileen is, too. She lets Cardinal go, however, without asking for further elaboration — when Arthur is in the ground and Pinehearst's doors are closed, she can pay Grace Matheson a visit at the Hangar and let the other woman know she's been asked after. Until then, she keeps the company of her retreating footsteps rustling through the grass and the distant whisper of waves tickling the island's rocky shore.

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