Conspiracy Theories


cardinal_icon.gif donovan_icon.gif

Scene Title Conspiracy Theories
Synopsis Marcus Donovan comes to meet Richard Cardinal about his political agenda, and winds up finding his way down a very dangerous rabbit hole.
Date January 10, 2011

Redbird Security

The only politician that Richard Cardinal's ever met in person before - assuming that one doesn't count Tracy Strauss, who's more of a glorified PR Woman than a politician herself - has been Nathan Petrelli, which may have swayed his opinions towards politics in the general direction of the negative. Still, Elisabeth has spoken highly of him, and he's liked what he saw and heard during the mayoral campaign some time ago.

So he'll give the man a chance. Maybe he's the one they've been waiting for. Maybe not.

Regardless of his feelings towards politicians, Richard's made an attempt to clean up for the evening. He's in his best suit, his fedora sitting on the edge of the desk, and he's leaned back beneath the Mendez painting hanging over his chair just waiting for Donovan to arrive.

He's gotten used to waiting.

Marcus Donovan may have retired from the limelight of politics, but his position as a lobbyist in Congress still means that he's still on the periphery of things political. His emergence into Richard's office after being announced by Jo downstairs is a subdued and humble one, not the kind of way he would have carried himself back when he was running for mayor.

Gone are the tailored suits, neckties and professional attire. Marcus Donovan looks about as blue-collar as any man his age can, in a battered old brown leather jacket and olive-colored sweater beneath. The khaki slacks he wears over workboots are the closest thing to anything being pressed in his entire wardrobe.

"Hey, sorry it took me so long getting up here. Army folks had a personnel carrier unloading some troops down on 42nd street. DUnno what was going on but I saw blues flashing, ground traffic down to a halt." Sunglasses are not optional in this office, and both Donovan and Cardinal both seem to consider shades in the winter on a cloudy day, stylish.

Striding towards the desk, Marcus leans over with an aggressive offer of a hand for a shake. "Harrison told me a lot about you, it's nice t'finally meet the man behind the company." That Marcus didn't verbally capitalize that term gives Cardinal a moment of pause. For just the barest moments there was something of a chill down his spine, a subtle wonder of an even more grim what-if scenario.

If only just more grim.

A single black-gloved hand reaches out to depress the button of the speaker next to Cardinal's phone before that offer is accetped. "Jo, check the newsfeeds - normal and pirate - find out what's going on around forty-second street, would you? Thanks." There's no wait for a response before he's pushhing himself up to his feet, reaching out to clasp the extended hand for a brief, firm shake, "Mister Donovan. Good to meet you - Liz speaks highly of you as well, I even voted for you in the election. Not that it seems to've mattered in the end."

A tired smile tugs up at the corner of his lips, "You want some coffee? I can have Jo bring some in, if you want. I'm about at my caffeine limit for the day personally," he confesses, waving to one of the chairs opposite before easing himself down into his seat, "How's the security detachment we sent out? Not getting in your and your family's way too much, I hope?"

Shaking Cardinal's hand, Donovan dips his head down into a slowly bobbing nod before relinquishing the grasp and slouching down towards the seat across from Richard. "Nah I'm fine on the coff— "

«I'll get right on that. Marley has your morning paper and mail, do you want me to have her send it in or leave it down front?» Jo's voice over the intercom interjects between Donovan's words, and the interrupted ex-policeman reaches up with his hand to rub at the back of his bald head.

"Coffe. Ah— " Donovan's brows furrow. "No. No thanks." Clearing his throat and crossing one leg over the other, Donovan folds his hands in his lap as he eyes the intercom, then looks back up to Cardinal. "Ah, I— my ex-wife hasn't said anything, so I don't think she knows the security team's even there. Which— " he offers a grimace, "was kind of the point. The last thing I need is her and my daughter getting freaked out, they've had it hard enough. The boys you sent to keep an eye on me've been pretty inobtrusive, but they know their stuff. Kershner was right in recommending you."

A tap to the speaker again, "I'll come pick it up after this meeting, Jo, thanks." Cardinal's hand drops back again, and he gives the other man a wry and knowing look, as if to suggest the other man knows how it is, being interrupted every five seconds. Maybe he did, once, when he was a man of position and importance. These days, one might suspect that Marcus Donovan has no end of free time on his hands.

The chair's joints creak softly as he leans it back, one leg crossing over the other and his hands steepling over his chest. "Good, good," he murmurs, "I'm glad that they've been keeping… out of the way. Of course, the real test will be if they can save you or them, but hopefully that won't ever be tested."

A silent moment, and then he suddenly asks, "So what is it that you're doing these days, Mister Donovan? I haven't heard much about your doings since the mayoral race ended."

Smoothing a hand over the back of his neck, Donovan shifts awkwardly in his seat. "Lobbyist work," sounds like he isn't terrible enthused by it. "I've been working to forward a Pro-Evolved stance in Congress, there's a momentum building to get the Chesterfield scholarship pushed through before the summer, but it has some pretty strong opponents on the hill. I'm just… doing my best to try and fight the only fight I've got left in me."

Cracking a smile, Donovan pushes his sunglasses back up the bridge of his nose with two fingers. "Like I was telling Harrison, I'm getting too old to be running around on the streets as a beat cop, and I gave up my chance at becoming Comissioner to pursue a political career. It's not pretty work, but it's the best I can do with what I've got. Chesterfield was a damned good opponent and a fine woman too, she probably would've made a good mayor if she'd won, and she sure as hell didn't deserve what happened t'her."

"So, this is me trying to honor that. But you know, there's people in Washington who don't like the idea of the Evolved getting special school incentives or— well— much of anything. It isn't really a popular stance to have— or thing to be." That comment makes Donovan a little nervous, his brows furrowing together and lips downwardly turning. "Somebody's gotta stand up for my kind, y'know?"

"I didn't see… eye to eye with Chesterfield," Cardinal admits, one hand lifting in a splay through the air, "I knew things about her that the public didn't, though. Still, you're right… she didn't deserve what happened to her, not one bit. It was… a bloody waste, is what it was."

That hand drops back down again, and he grimaces slightly, "No, I'm afraid it's not. And it's not going to be until we get some real change in the political machine. It's a damn shame you didn't win that election, because we could've used you."

After a moment, he asks curiously, "Have you run into the Deveaux Group at all in Washington? They've been in the news recently, I'm just curious about them."

One of Donovan's brows lift at mention of the group. "Yeah— actually. About two days before Kershner came to me to recommend seeing you, a woman from the Deveaux Group contacted me in D.C. We had lunch together, and she offered some financial support for the campaign to get the Chesterfield Scholarship on the fast track. We chatted a bit, and from what I gather it's just a collevtive of philanthropists who're looking to try and make a little difference in the world."

"I've run into a lot of financial backers in my brief time on Capitol Hill, though, but they seemed to genuinely support Evolved rights and, in a situation where we're outnumbered the way we are, you really can't be picky about your political allies, can you?" Laughing to himself, awkwardly, Donovan slouches back in his chair and folds his hands at his chest, fingers steepled. "You know anything about 'em?"

"I met Charles Deveaux, and I've met with a representative of the group before…" Cardinal leans forward then, arms resting on the desk's surface and hands clasping together loosely, "…I'd accept their help, if I were you. Tell them I recommended them highly, if you like, they should be familiar with my name."

There's a moment's pause, and then he asks, "Is there anything that would help you in your cause aside from money, Mister Donovan? As you can imagine, I have a rather… personal interest in evolved rights myself."

"My imagination hasn't ever really been that big," Donovan admits with a tilt of his head to the side and the crack of a smile spreading across his face. "But, honestly? Your people doing their job's been more than enough help. Unless you happen to have some strings you can pull in Washington with some Congressmen or a few million dollars to grease the palms of the of the resiliant or the stubborn." Laughing at his own awkward sense of humor, Donovan uncrosses his legs and sits forward in his chair.

"You didn't call me up here to small-talk about people financiers from the Deveaux Group, Richard. I've been around this environment long enough to know when something's going on under the surface, and it doesn't take a prophet to see that we've got a guy who has one of the most successful startup defense companies in the country working alongside the administrative head of FRONTLINE's New York branch. That's not a good working relationship, that's an agenda."

One of Marcus' brows rises slowly. "Spend enough time in Washington, you start being able to spot them a mile away. So, what's yours? Because if you and Miss Shaw have anything in common, it's that look in your eyes."

"You'd be surprised how important small talk can be… or maybe you wouldn't," Cardinal observes, then considers, his head cocking a bit to one side, "You're not blind, though, I see. Of course I've got an agenda. Everyone has one, even if they won't admit it."

He falls silent for a moment or three, hands clasping against one another on the desk-top and tapping against the wood a few times as he thinks of how to phrase his next words. "I… am in a position," he says quietly, "To have a great deal of information pass over my desk, Mister Donovan. Information about the things our government is doing without telling us. Some of our… fellow Evolved also have access to this information. Some of them choose to react with what the administration and the media choose to call terrorism. I, on the other hand, prefer to take a more — moderate route. Digging out the corruption in our government would be much easier with more politicians, more people in positions of powe and authority, sympathetic to our cause."

When a private military company's CEO, one that happens to be in cahoots with the head of New York's FRONTLINE, claims to have information and also comes highly recommended by a former member of the CIA, there's reason to listen. Marcus Donovan's has heard of the impact that leaked military documents can have on any political campaign, the fires that get lit by revelations of impropriety in Iraq and wide-scale abuse of authority by private security forces in Japan.

His chin tilts up, tension evident in his expression as he lets his glasses slouch down the bridge of his nose ever so subtly. Dull, lusterless gray-blue eyes stare over the frames at Cardinal before he thinks to push those lenses back up. "What're we talking about, here?"

Fish, meet Hook.

Just the edge of a smile tugs up at the corner of Cardinal's lips as the other man takes the bait. "We're talking about the sort of thing that goes down in the history books," he says quietly, "Far worse than anything Nixon ever dreamt of doing, let me tell you that. Conspiracies at the highest level, and they're all aimed directly at us."

After a moment, he admits in dry tones, "If I told you everything up front, Mister Donovan, you'd call me a lunatic. Just for starters, however… the government's known about us for a long, long time. There's a place in Arizona called Coyote Sands. The first time they tried to wrangle us all up in a camp to be poked and prodded and experimented on, back in the sixties…"

"The whole site is covered in shallow graves now. They brought in the military and killed everyone when they lost control."

Disbelief paints itself in Donovan's expression, eyes wide behind the lenses of his sunglasses.

Something Richard just said is familiar.

"The— that's… the Company right?" He goes with the obvious first, not the unsettling. "They— those people were all over the news, how they'd known about Midtown before it happened, set the whole damned thing up." Donovan glances askance, then back to Cardinal over the frames of his sunglasses. "You're telling me you have proof that the federal government knew about the Company and… what is it, this internment camp when it was going on?"

Incredulity, naturally, laces his tone. But somewhere inside of Donovan's voice there is a desire to believe, a desire to want there to be a reason why things are as damaged as they are now. "But this place, it really exists? It's— it's out there? Richard this isn't the first time I've heard the name Coyote Sands…" Smoothing his hands over his knees, Donovan looks over his shoulder, half expecting to see something looming there, knowing that he knows too much.

"The woman from the Deveaux Society who came to see me. She said something when we were at dinner, something about 'not wanting to see what happened at Coyote Sands' happen again. I thought— it was just some sort of protest I hadn't heard about…"

"The Company was formed by the survivors of Coyote Sands," Cardinal corrects with a slight shake of his head, "But yes, the government knew about the Company. There was no… infiltration, like they claimed. The Company had agreements with the government that allowed them to operate at will throughout the country."

There's a pause, and then he adds in grim tones, "It may interest you to know that two of the Founders of the Company had the last name of Petrelli."

There was no moon landing.

There is life on Mars.

Lee Harvey Oswald did not assassinate JFK.

The Earth is hollow.

There's any number of wild conspiracies that can elicit an open-mouthed stare when they're actually spoken aloud, but that President Nathan Petrelli may be related to people who founded an organization that is — at this moment — being hunted down for treason against the United States, and knowingly collaborated with them is one of the new age equivalents of old school paranoid and conspiracy theory.

"Can you prove this?" Donovan asks in barely above a whisper, as if conspiratorial tones were needed. "I mean, this all sounds— it sounds fucking unbelievable. But do you have real hard evidence that can prove this? Richard you're talking about the sort of thing that could get the President impeached. Hell, this is the kind of shit wars have been fought over."

"That, Mister Donovan," Cardinal says in quiet, serious tones, "Is exactly what I've been working on… gathering hard evidence. I have enough anecdotal evidence to fill a warehouse, but hard evidence is a little more difficult to come by, as you can imagine. Coyote Sands happened, though, that I can prove."

He leans over, reaching out to the laptop that sits off on one side of the desk and opening it up. "You'll have to forgive the quality," he murmurs, fingers brushing over the touch-pad to select a particular file, "We recovered it from some old film reels we found at Coyote Sands, my techs muttered something about resolution and transfer difficulties." A password is tapped in rapid-fire to unlock the file and then he turns the screen towards the other man to let him watch the video.

The image of a younger Chandra Suresh is on the screen, featured in his lab at Coyote Sands.

There's a disquiet that falls over Donovan as he watches the video, listening to Chandra discuss the inherent dangers in gathering people like this together. Further commentary about the exponential increase of some sort of nebulous energy field that is "like magnetism" causes him to furrow his brows, expression any more than that hidden by mirrored sunglasses. With one hand stroking over his mouth, Donovan watches the reel, then as it splices into the next video.

More the energy is discussed, and more does Donovan lean forward to watch, right up until the video abruptly cuts off and continues onwards with a wholly different topic. The chaos of a seismic spike, the fear in Chandra's eyes and the flashing lights from the shaken-up electricity at the camp. It all comes to a head in the final video, where a birth is documented. One so powerful that it shakes the ground and threatens to bring Coyote Sands down all around it.

When the video finally ends, Donovan is silent for a few moments longer. Then, and only after drawing in a slow breath, does he sits back and exhale a full sigh. "That's… something. It's tantalizing, but it's not damning. It's enough to get people's attention, but if— if you're going to go anywhere with this, you need to be airtight or it's going to get picked apart. Also— you know this is the kind of thing that puts people in early graves, right?"

Or landfills.

"If I had a solid case, Marcus," Cardinal says quietly as he turns the laptop around, tapping the window shut, "I would've done something with it by now. And yeah, I know that. I know some've the people who're already filling them."

The laptop is closed slowly, and he leans back with a sigh of his own, resting his head to the back of his chair. "When the time comes, Donovan, I'm going to need people in place who are willing to stand up and demand that these allegations be looked into. I need voices that won't be ignored. Politicians, lawyers, doctors, policemen, military— people of importance who can't be dismissed as cranks and lunatics. That is my agenda. That's why it's in my damn best interest to keep you alive, because you're exactly the sort of voice I'm going to need."

"Oh, woah, woah, woah." Both of Donovan's hands slowly rise, "hold on here. I didn't agree to be the mouthpiece for your conspiracy theories. I mean— sure, this stuff needs to be looked into, definitely. But— look…" There's a conflict evident in both word and posture. "Look I want to believe this sort of stuff, I do. I want to believe that Nathan Petrelli's as corrupt and morally bankrupt as I think he is, but do you know what agreeing with any of this in Washington will get me?"

There's a deep breath and a slowly exhaled sigh that seems to take forever to end. "My life's already been threatened once, and I've got people in D.C. following me around and… look I just— my girl is turning seventeen in a couple months. She's got a life ahead of her, she tested positive for the SLC. You know she's— she's got a future if I don't fuck this up. If I don't put her in any more danger than I already have."

Marcus looks askance to the empty chair next to him, then back to Cardinal. "I'll think about this, but I'm going to need some sort of insurance if we go forward with it that this information be vetted somehow, or— I don't know. I'll need to see more. Secondly, that my girl at the very least is safe."

Cardinal's hands both lift, palm forward. "I'm not going to be going forward with anything until I have a rock-solid case to throw on the coals, Marcus… I can promise you that. I'll even let you look everything over personally before I release it into the wild, if that makes you feel better. I'm not asking you to do anything that you wouldn't do on your own, I'm pretty sure. You're an honest man, and this… may be our only way to have a future for your daughter. For all of us."

He nods once, then, "And if — if — you decide to go through with it then, I'll do everything in my power to protect her. You have my word there."

"Honest," is bitterly echoed, and Donovan slides his tongue over his lips as if the words taste bitter too. Bobbing his head into a slow nod, the ex-mayoral candidate slides his hands over the arms of his chair, then slowly pushes himself up to stand. "I'm gonna take a couple days, think this through." One hand raises to smooth across his chin and sweep down his mouth.

"I'm staying here in New York for the week, over at the Corinthian. If anything comes up you can contact me there, but I figure your security detail knows where I am before I do," he admits with a breathy, awkward laugh. "Come the end of the week I'll come on by, and we'll talk again once I've had a chance to sort some of this out internally, a'right?"

Hesitantly, Marcus offers his hand over the desk again.

"I don't blame you at all, it's a lot to take in," Cardinal admits, his tone wry as he pushes himself to his feet slowly, reaching out to clasp the other man's hand. This time with a stronger grip, more confident and wholehearted, as he meets his gaze steadily across the desk. "Maybe, just maybe, we can bring the world through this, Marcus. If we work together for a better future for all of us, Evolved and not."

Maybe there's hope after all.

As he withdraws his hand, a smile tugs up a little at the corner of his lips. "And when you see Ms. Dalton next… tell her I'm looking forward to our eventual meeting."

There's a pause during the handshake and afterward, eliciting Donovan to stare at Cardinal with one brow raised.

The question is one that raises more.

"Who's miss Dalton?"

At the question, Cardinal pauses for a moment… and then a smile crooks up at the corner of his lips. "Ah, you haven't met yet? Well. She's an interesting woman once you get to know her, and I suspect you will. In any case…" He glances to the clock, "…I need to do sixteen thousand impossible things before dinner, and you've got a lot to absorb, I think."

"Yes…" Donovan admits with a furrow of his brows, sliding both hands into the pockets of his jacket in consideration of the clock as well. He turns, wordlessly, headed for the office door with his mind reeling from the revelations. Sliding his tongue over his lips, Donovan turns and looks back to Cardinal, nodding a few times in thoughtful consideration.

"You know it's funny, I haven't heard of a single man that works for the Deveaux Society yet," comes with a laugh, and one of Donovan's hands smoothing over his bald head. "That woman on the news, Carla. That ah, Sabra? The one you mentioned… and the one who came to see me." Donovan looks down, thoughtfully, then back towards Cardinal's computer and the video he was shown.

"I wonder if there was an Alice Shaw at Coyote Sands?"


There's only one Shaw that Richard Cardinal knows of that was at Coyote Sands… and she wasn't named Alice.

There's a thoughtful look that stirs behind his eyes, fingertips drumming loosely over the table's surface. "Well, well… I'll have to look into that."

"Maybe I'll have an answer for you next time we talk."

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