Catching Up On The Road


cardinal_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Catching Up On The Road
Synopsis Richard Cardinal finally arrives in Minnesota, and is met on the road by Ygraine.
Date December 3, 2011

Just Outside Kabetogama Resort

The bright clarity of the day brings a sharpness to the air beneath the lustrous blue sky. With this remote corner of the world swathed in a light blanket of snow, the quiet stillness is heightened - just as are the crisp blue-grey silhouettes thrown across the white, where the sun prints the shadows of trees onto the landscape.

Lurking under cover of the evergreen branches part-way up one pine, Ygraine’s relaxedly easy lounging is disturbed when the sound of a car catches her attention. Slightly angling her head, she peers past the snow-draped foliage in front of her, squinting a little before lowering wrap-around snow-shades into place. Traffic here is rare, but not unknown, with occasional visits by caretakers tending to the other resorts located along the adjacent road.

But the timing fits what she was told to expect, and when the distant glimmer of sun on glass turns into a recognisable vehicle making the turning into the dead-end route to Kabetogama, she swings around behind the tree, lying on the vertical surface so that she can train the scope upon the new arrival. A little fiddling… then she grins, rising to her feet so that she can walk down the trunk - at right-angles to the world - before hopping down into the snow, and crunching out into view beside the roadway.

The rifle’s still in hand, but held casually - and her free hand waves a greeting.

As the woman comes into view - and in such a flashy manner, defying gravity as she is - the station wagon that's being driven slows, swerving over to the side of the road. The windshield is slowly rolled down, and Richard Cardinal leans an elbow on the edge of the door, leaning out a bit. No sunglasses, possibly for the first time that she's ever seen him without them.

"Hey, pretty lady," he drawls out, "Going my way?"

Though her shades hide much of her face, it’s clear that Ygraine is lifting her brows at the man she still thinks of as ‘Cardinal’. Then she laughs, leaning down to bring herself close to his level. A quick glance searches what little can be seen of him for signs of injury, then she grins broadly. “It’s good to see you. And yes, I think I am. Though… it’s possible that we should talk a little before getting you up to the resort.”

There's a smile there on Richard's face, though it's faint; he's happy to see her, it's just hard to express that sort of thing right now. He mostly looks tired, dark circles beneath his eyes, lips healing from cracking and splitting in the cold. No obvious injuries, though he's a bit bundled up to keep the cold off him, so there may yet be something hidden.

"Oh? Well— " He hesitates, a hint of worry in his eyes, then jerks his head to the passenger door, "Get on in, then, if you want to talk before we get there I'm not doing it in the snow."

Ygraine nods agreement, delaying the task of settling into the passenger seat only long enough to stow the rifle behind it. Once the door’s closed, she - slightly tentatively - reaches over to rest a hand on her new chauffeur’s shoulder.

“It is good to see you,” she says softly. “For your own sake. But I’ve got… do you rememb- sorry.” She closes her eyes for a moment, inhaling slowly. “The recordings that Liz left for you. I have them on me. In case you want to take them immediately. Listen to them before you see anyone else. Tell me to hang onto them until you’re ready. Whatever. Just… she left messages for other people, too. So you might get asked about them. Helpfully told to ask me for them. Whatever. So I wanted to give you the choice as soon as I could.”

As she comes around, Richard rolls the window up with the squeak-squeak-squeak of an ill-oiled handle. It's not exactly a cutting-edge vehicle that he's picked up here. When she reaches over, he brings his own hand up, resting gloved digits over hers there upon his shoulder.

"I'll take them I'll… listen to them later," he says after she speaks, his chin dipping in a little bit of a nod, "When I've got some privacy. I don't want to listen to them right now before I go in, I mean— " He forces a faint smile, making it a joke, "Some fearless leader I'd look with tears streaming down my face, right?"

“I haven’t told anyone else you’re here, yet,” Ygraine says gently. “So you have time, if you want it.” She removes her shades to better be able to see within the shelter of the car, unfastening her coat so that she can delve inside and come up with a padded postal envelope. On it is written - in her hand rather than Liz’s - “For Richard”.

Holding it out for him to take if he wants to, she offers him a look of deep sympathy. “Tamara left us on the 28th. She said it was time for her to get going and… I helped her get on her way.” She sounds a little guilty. “The others are still here - Graeme, Jaiden, Remi, and Doctor Luis. And Devon made it here, too.”

"Thanks." The envelope's taken in hand, and Richard looks down at it - and the words Ygraine wrote on it - for a moment before glancing back up again to react to the other news.

"That's good. Tamara knows where she's supposed to be, where she needs to be - maybe she's finally going where she wants to be, though, who knows," he allows, his tone a bit wry, "Girl never takes care of herself as much as she should. Luis…" A hint of surprise there, his brows lifting, "Jean-Martin?"

Ygraine hesitates a moment, before Richard receives another worriedly sympathetic look from her. “Doctor Jean-Martin Luis. I… told you we had him, when we spoke in that conference call Alia put through to me when I was asleep. You told me not to trust him as far as I could throw him, as I recall. He’s… seemed to be behaving. Got stabbed in the back and badly hurt; the trip here had him starting to slip into sepsis. Whatever problems there might be with trusting him, I felt I could trust him to advise on his own treatment… and it seems to have worked. As for Tamara… she was heading East. I didn’t press her for details, but I hope she finds something to make her happy.”

"That's… right, you did," Richard brings a hand up, rubbing between his eyes as he grimaces, "Losing things. I need to sleep for a fucking week, I swear. Good. Good, if he's here, I can… talk to him, maybe. It's worth a try."

His hand drops back to rest on the wheel, and he offers a faint smile, "Tamara's the one person I trust implicitly. She knows what she's doing better than anyone in this world."

“Ouch. Thanks for the vote of confidence, boss,” Ygraine retorts - though her words are followed by a gentle half-smile. “I know what you mean, though. I… it sounds utterly batshit crazy, but I am truly honoured that she chose me to care for her. I’m presuming she knew full-well that she’d wind up in a coma for twelve days - and then another one after Doctor Luis had too challenging a conversation with her too soon after she woke up - and that she chose me to look after her. Of course, it might just be that I was the one person strong enough and able to cheat gravity enough to carry her out of the tunnels and to safety, but… feeling that she trusted me… it seems like one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever been paid.”

At that, Richard rolls his eyes with a faint chuckle, "You know what I mean…" He quirks a slight smile, a bit sad, "She doesn't think of herself much. I worry about her sometimes." He turns his head to look out the window, "Found her on the library roof once, during the big freeze, taking care of my trees. No gloves, nothing, she… I was worried she was going to hurt herself. There's a lot of weight that girl's carrying around. I hope she finds happiness somehow, sometime."

“Yeah, I… well.” Ygraine shrugs slowly. “She set off with good clothes and a good backpack. Sensible footwear for the season. Some food. I resisted the temptation to press her for details of how she was going to travel. But at least temporarily, she’s got what she needs. I just have to hope that whoever she winds up with next will make sure she can get hold of what’s necessary. And yes, some things to make her happy too, I hope. She found a lost ball, in the cabin we moved into when I took her out of Jaiden’s makeshift infirmary. Knew precisely where to look for it, of course. That… I think the combination of simplicity and possibility in it appeals to her. It’s a way of interacting with the here-and-now, and with other people, that doesn’t have to be parsed through layers of meaning and metaphor.”

Another shrug is quickly followed by a grin. “Of course, she’s also perfectly capable of using it as a conversational aid and a symbol in its own right. But… there was happiness here for her. For me, too, seeing that. And….” Ygraine takes a shaky breath before continuing. “She… she told me that this wasn’t the last time I’d see her again. Which, frankly, meant a huge amount. We both live at least a little longer. Until at least one more meeting.”

"That's always good to know." A quick smile from Richard, and he motions with a hand towards her, "I've lost enough people lately… don't want to lose you too, Ygraine." The smile fades, then, and his gaze sweeps back to the road.

"I'm here in person this time. Speaking of losses. You owe me a report." Quieter, almost apologetic in its tone.

Ygraine blinks, arching a brow. “A report, hrmmm? You owe me an explanation for how you came to ‘hide’ a vehicle you were inside, under a lake. But… ahh. Let’s see…”

Her gaze unfocuses, moving to the snowy lane ahead. “A simple point to start with is cash. While Jaiden was acquiring safehouses and fall-back sites - though this is his last one - Graeme was apparently building up a heck of a nest egg. Which he liquidated slowly over the course of this year. Even after I gave twelve grand to the Ferry on Pollepel - before we spoke, and you warned me to stay away from the place - and with our expenses on the way here, we’ve got over two hundred thousand left. It’s his personal money, but… we have a heck of an unexpected cash reserve, if we need it.

“But I admit that most of the rest of the news isn’t so good. You’ve seen some of the pictures of the Ark, and of Boston, on the news if you’ve turned on a TV any time since the eighth. It was… bad. I’ve felt more than a little guilty about not being at that chokepoint, since shuttling groups of people at speed up a sheer surface is pretty much my schtick. But if I’d got too many more people up and over the top and on their way to the vehicles… the drones would probably just have followed them there, and taken out the transport, and no one would have escaped from up top.

“Me, I was a hundred feet down, getting out through the Subway tunnels with Tamara over my shoulder. Luis was being helped along by an Institute technician who’d been healed - I think - by… gyah. That’s getting into a more complex story. The tech, we let go. He’d been shot, patched together, irradiated, and had to flee a nuclear meltdown. And we’d got Luis as an evidently-senior scientist. Graeme had run back into the Ark to help Julie and Liette. And Remi was on the verge of shutting down after being in Halebi’s head as he screamed his way towards going nova. That’s when she got the name ‘Lucine’ from him. So trying to compel the poor bastard tech to stay with us didn’t seem fair or feasible.

“The migraine Remi acquired from that took a week to fade. Graeme… well. We now know that his ability lets him recover from acute radiation poisoning. Full-on “bleeding from the eyeballs” horror-film craziness. His appetite’s insane at the best of times; it went off the scale once he was well enough to hold anything down. He seems back to normal now, thankfully.

“Me, I got shot - but the vest took it. Tamara got clipped on the arm by the bullet I was trying to get her out of the way of. Very minor, though my stitching job might leave a scar. We all got another dose of radiation, though Graeme was the only one of us who went into the reactor chamber itself. He was hauling Julie out before she got overwhelmed: she’d been losing a battle to absorb Halebi’s radiation.

“Devon’s fine. Got here without a problem. And no trouble to report from the cabin. Jaiden… is messed up. Electrical burns. Joint damage to a knee. Walks with a cane - but he’s walking, at least. His power’s taken a big hit, too, though I think it should come back fully as he recovers.

“Beyond that… we’re probably getting into the details of what actually happened. Unless I’m forgetting something, which I certainly could be.”

“The details, we can cover those later…” A shake of Cardinal’s head, and he turns back to her with a more intent look, “Casualties, Ygraine. Ours, Ferry’s — who did we lose that day? I’ve seen the videotapes, I know it was bad, I just — who all did we lose? How bad was it? Do you know if Kaylee got out alright?”

Why he’s so concerned about Kaylee might be a mystery, depending on what Liz has told her in the past.

Ygraine slightly arches one brow… then nods. “I believe she’s fine. Though I didn’t run into on her during my stop-over at Pollepel. It was, ahh, crowded. I had conversations with, in order… Robyn Quinn” - her voice barely hitches at all on mentioning that name, and the attendant thought of the broken woman it now attaches to - “and then Brian, who provided me with a run-down on events in Alaska. After him… Lynette Rowan, to whom I gave twelve grand of Graeme’s money for supplies, as well as one of Alia’s approved cell phones. I’ve also picked up a radio, so that Noa can contact us. Then Eve Mas, and after her Megan Young, and Rue Lancaster.”

The short litany of names might at least provide a set of options about whom further questions might be asked.

“Prior to the Island I had contact with Alia, as you know. And also Luther. ((Subject to confirmation of scene at the safehouse!)) Regarding those lost… I’m only aware of Doctor Luis as a senior Institute scientist who survived into rescue or captivity. There were multiple ‘insiders’ working with us within the Institute, it seemed, including someone whom Eric Doyle knew as ‘Brooke’, who had once operated a Ferry clinic in the basement of the Gun Hill safehouse. She was with us in the reactor chamber for some… terrifyingly spectacular events.

“But of those lost: Liette helped us rescue her sister Julie from the reactor, but then died in the massacre up top. Julie survived, but was seriously ill - a portable dialysis machine was being lugged around to help keep her alive. Their mother died, along with far too many others. Including Eric Doyle. Bao Wei, the ice dragon we were so pleased to be told would help us in that planning meeting… he’s disappeared, though I’d imagine he’s among the more likely ones to have found an alternate route out. Certainly, there were at least two routes out other than the enemy’s chosen chokepoint: my little band got out via the subway, Graeme got out via the initial breach.

“Of metaphysical import… Else Kjelstrom might be the most significant. I met her down there in the Ark. Babbled at her about how delighted Robyn would be to see her alive. Then she got shredded in the ambush, as best I could make out. Got to ‘freedom’, and….” She sighs heavily, shaking her head. “Any questions thus far?”

"Doctor Cong's… a frozen cockroach, and extremely difficult to kill. I'd be surprised if he died down there," says Cardinal with a shake of his head, a sigh whispering past his lips at the mention of the lost then. "Liette. Damn. She was a good kid."

"Okay. That's… well, it's all horrible, but it could've been worse," he admits, one hand rubbing against the side of his face, "I'll look up my sister when I get back to New York, make sure she's alright. There was… there were more casualties on another mission I didn't know was going on."

A thread of anger enters his voice as he looks ahead, "Fucking Peter and Hiro deciding to get back in the game without checking the board first. It was a disaster. Niki was hurt, Valerie was… badly hurt." Real pain in his voice there, his jaw tightening, "Molly Walker, dead."

Ygraine couldn’t help but smile and shoot Ray a look of surprise in response to that description of Bao-Wei… but thereafter she winces more than once. “…shit. And merde, to boot. That’s… gah. At a guess, they were involved in whatever happened in New York?”

"Yeah." Richard rubs a hand over the lower half of his face, then turns back to her, "That fight in the skies, that explosion? Peter— and I presume Sylar. Nobody else could have put up a fight like that, at least that's alive that I know of."

Ygraine winces again, shaking her head. “Fuckitybuggerydamnation,” she mutters. “But yeah, that… I’d wondered if that would be the summary of it. It sounded spectacular enough. Shit. I, ahh, don’t suppose we know who won? Sylar being off the board would be one big bit of compensation for the mess New York’s back into now.”

"My deepest, most heartfelt hope is that the answer to that is neither of them," is Richard's tight response to that, "If both of them are dead that makes my life much easier."

“I… can’t claim to have any detailed dealings with either. I’ve twice come up against Sylar, but only as part of a chaotic mess. Peter… I believe I met him once, before things got wildly chaotic. Way back when Cat was cheerful and her girlfriend was alive. We met in her hospital room.” Ygraine sighs, then firmly shakes her head to help drag her thoughts back to the present.

“So. New York’s even more of a mess than I thought. Yay. Do you have any other news I should be aware of?”

“Oh, the President was Sylar,” Cardinal admits almost absently, fingers brushing dismissively through the air, “Which I guess doesn’t really matter now, since if we’re lucky everyone involved is a fine sifting of ash descending over New York City. Oh — Doctor Suresh will be joining us, he’s following me on the road. We thought separate cars might be appropriate.”

Just a few minor things, you know.

Ygraine turns her head, to give Richard a look. “Just to be absolutely clear - this would be the younger Doctor Suresh, not the author of a certain renowned book on the Evolved?”, she checks, tone distinctly dry. “It seems wise to try to make certain of that sort of thing, given what we’ve been dealing with.”

"Heh." Cardinal shakes his head a little, "Yeah, Mohinder — not Chandra. He's been involved in some bad shit, but that's just been because he's an incredible naive, over-optimistic idiot." A pause, and he adds, "Also he was literally being mind-controlled by Sylar for the past few months."

That prompts a sharp wince. “…poor bastard,” Ygraine murmurs. “And… the President was Sylar? That potentially explains a few things. I can remember the initial campaigning in the city, and Petrelli never seemed that much of an asshole. Smarmy and untrustworthy, but not apocalyptically genocidal.”

"Oh, no, that was all Nathan. It was only Sylar near the end. Well— " Cardinal grimaces, "— it was… future Nathan from twenty— look, I'm going to have to draw a diagram if we keep this up, let's just leave it at that."

Ygraine stares for a few moments… then snorts, shakes her head, and chuckles. “Wow. Honestly, the Nathan Petrelli I was vaguely aware of in 2008 seemed like he might be above-average for an American politician. Which is a low bar to clear, I know, but… wow. He got bumped off by a future version of himself, who got replaced by Sylar? Yeah. Diagrams galore might be needed, some time. I’m afraid that your intelligence analyst is still pretty seriously in the dark about way too much of all this madness.”

"As far as I know, that Nathan is still out there somewhere… I rescued him from a Vanguard cell at one point and then he flew off and we never saw him again," Richard says, his tone more than a little irritated with the man in question, "Fucking Petrellis."

He quirks a faint smile, "Well, maybe we can sit down and map shit out while I'm here."

Ygraine blinks. Pauses. Then chuckles again. “Good grief. And should that one ever legally have been President? Or did he not even wind up in the whole process, and it was all his future self hijacking things? Yeaaaah. Mapping this and all the other madness might be wise. I doubt I can offer any new information for you, save perhaps a few personally-witnessed details, but I can at least try to make sure we both understand it. Maybe even offer some analytical perspectives you’ve not had before.”

"I think that Nathan was actually elected, but…" Richard waves a hand vaguely, and then rubs at his forehead, "Christ, it's hard to keep that shit straight. Yeah, we can try and map it out later for you to look at, if you want." Wryly, "I can always use another pair of eyes on the insanity I carry around in my brain."

“I’ll be glad to help,” Ygraine gently insists. “Honestly. And I’m something of a believer in getting madness down on paper. The process can help to tame it, a little. And the more of us have some sort of handle on it, the better. I’ve been blindsided by things far too often in the past. However oblivious I am, I’m sure it happens at least some of the time to most other people in the Underground, too.”

"I usually use string but I guess paper works too," admits Richard with a tired smile over, "But— anyway, we should get in, say hello to everyone, finish up with all the…" Emotionally exhausting discussions regarding Liz's death. "…stuff, and find somewhere for Mohinder to sleep."

“I can give you privacy, if you want. I’ve had a cabin to myself, since Tamara left. So I could stash you in there, and you could have the place to yourself if you liked. Finding a bed for Doctor Suresh will be simple, too, I promise.” Ygraine offers another sympathetic look. “We can manage how much you have to deal with, and when. Including keeping me out of your way, if you like.”

"I could use time around other people, not gonna lie," Cardinal admits, looking back out the windshield, "Kind of feeling… well. Anyway, we'll figure it out." He shifts the car back into drive, "Just direct me to the parking lot, Ranger."

Ygraine can’t help but laugh, flashing a grin at her companion, before touching an imaginary cap. “Of course, sir. Just… know that if you need a break from being around people, I’ll help you to get one. Okay? Ahh, anyway.” She gestures ahead. “Just follow the road to reach Kabetogama. Now you’re on the last stage of the right track, there’s no through-route for road vehicles. We shouldn’t get any passing traffic. We’re as secure as we can be, here. It should be just Endgame… and some very odd guests. It’ll be interesting, at least.”

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