cardinal_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif ling_icon.gif

Scene Title Counterconspiracy
Synopsis A pair of professionals are told that their leader may not be as honest as he seems.
Date September 17, 2010

The Esplanade

The Esplanade runs the entire length of Battery Park City, along the Hudson River from Stuyvesant High School on the north end all the way south to Historic Battery Park. With its views of the Hudson River and New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the New Jersey shoreline, the Esplanade is a pedestrian paradise. Parks and gardens line the entire route, along with numerous sculptures and public art installations.

While the park itself remains well-maintained in the aftermath of the bomb, the city's growing homeless population has made large portions of the Esplanade their home. While not quite the tent city that Prospect Park in Brooklyn has become, the presence of tired and weary homeless individuals in the Esplanade plaza or sleeping on benches along the coast during warmer months is not an uncommon sight, though the NYPD does their level best to try and mitigate this, it is still a problem.

The sun begins to dip down towards the horizon, casting the pollution of the skies over New York City into beautiful shades of scarlet and purple as it falls. Along the edge of the Esplanade, a stone walk stretches beside the river, wrought iron lamp-posts rising beyond the barrier and benches lined before them, gathering nature watchers and the homeless to settle. Trees reach for the skies, slowly turning colours as the season turns.

Cardinals's seated at one of those benches, his feet kicked up on the barrier, arms folded behind his head as he watches the sunset through dark shades, his expression silently thoughtful. A message or two were delivered the day before, asking for a meeting, written on paper and left where they would be found by the appropriate parties.

Now he waits to see if they arrive.

Ling hasn't yet made a habit of traversing out into public. But when such a summons comes to her, for a meeting she's been meaning to make anyway, it would be rather unprofessional of her not to follow through. She's dressed for a business meeting, shoes click clacking as she approaches the bench where Cardinal is rather awkwardly slouched, arms across her chest as she approaches. She wears not her scarf, phone, or any other sure signs of her membership to Messiah, instead intending to keep this meeting as on the down low as she can manage.

"Hello, Richard," she intones as she walks up behind him, looking down at the man with judgemental eyes, if only for a moment. "I apologise for not getting in touch with you sooner." As in, she's a little annoyed at herself for leaving it up to Cardinal to contact her instead of vice versa. She doesn't take a seat yet, instea looming behind him with a scowl.

Huruma has looked increasingly normal as of late, for some reason or another; a dark jacket, a white shirt, khaki pants- all very plain, but the click of snakeskin boots and the glint of gold on her belt buckle sets it quite apart. Not inconspicuous, but enough to seem like she has something better to do, to anyone not in the know. When she gets to the promenade of Battery Park and makes her way along, she makes an easy time of approaching Cardinal, and the woman with him- who she soon recognizes as Ling.

"Good afternoon, kivuli-mtu." Unlike the Chinese woman, Huruma helps herself to the bench when she gets near, hands tucked in her jacket pockets.

"Ling." Cardinal's feet drop down to rest against the ground, and he pushes himself up straighter, reaching beneath the flight jacket he's wearing to pull out a small box, finger flicking the switch on it. There's no evident effect. "Huruma. Have a seat, make yourselves comfortable…"

The device is held up and waggled, "Multi-spectrum jammer. Kills cell phone signals, radios, the whole nine yards. Gives us a little bit of privacy." The shadowman's gloved hand slides it back out of view, and he sinks back against the bench's back once more, hands folded over his stomach. His gaze has never left the skies, the water, the far shoreline of New Jersey.

"The last time we talked, Huruma, I told you that I had… suspicions about Rupert Carmichael. You told me to keep digging. I did."

Huruma's arrival is regarded with more surprise than Ling is able to keep to herself, a bit of it slipping out into her expression as she moves around the bench. Then again, perhaps she shouldn't be so surprised that Cardinal knows how to contact multiple members of Messiah. Hands slip into the pockets of her jacket as she takes a seat, eyes still cast over to Huruma for moment, a simple nod of acknowledgement offered over to the other member of Messiah.

The jammer earns a bit of a grin - being smartly prepared was always a good sign when it comes to discussing impending business. "I do not carry my phone on me at all times," Ling notes as she slinks down onto the bench. "It does not mix well with… what I can do." And it seems jumping straight into business is exactly what's on tap for the moment, Ling turning to gaze at Cardinal like a hawk when Rupert's name comes up. "I am glad to see that I am not the only one uneasy about our 'tactician'," she remarks, hands placed in her lap.
"Ah." Huruma's response is vague, for both the subject of his bringing a jammer, and his allusion to their meeting from another time this summer. Her eyes stay on Ling long enough to return the acknowledging look between them.

"I did tell you that." The dark woman glances off to Ling a second time. "I liked him much more when he was working Shedda Dinu…" Huruma sighs out through her nose and considers Richard again before she begins to observe the watery horizon. "So what d'you think you found? I assume that is what you are getting at…"

"The two of you are… professionals," Cardinal admits, tipping his head a bit towards them and crooking a faint smile up at one corner of his lips, "I know that I can trust you to handle this information properly, and not go - storming off and doing something stupid like some of your friends."

He brings a hand up to scratch at the side of his jaw as if his latest shave was starting to grow back, "I had to dig pretty deep. I had to go to - sources that put themselves in a hell of a lot of danger telling me this stuff. 'Many Bothans had died' and all that jazz…"

A breath's taken, exhaled, and he speaks - quick and quiet, perhaps still worried that they'll be overheard. "Not too long after we got back from Operation Apollo, Peter Petrelli was taken into the custody of a… certain branch of the government," he explains, "And at the orders of Vice President Mitchell, Rupert Carmichael - one of Mitchell's closest confidants - worked him over with his persuasive ability for a week to break and restructure his mind."

The Star Wars reference is a bit lost on Ling, but she still gets the gist of what Cardinal is getting at- enough that her scowl only deepens as he takes his deep breath. She's honestly not sure, at first, that Cardinal's trust is faithfully placed, given that she's made a living off of stealing and selling company secrets over the years. At least, not until Vice President Mitchell is mentioned - as well as the first time she has heard Peter addressed by his full name. Both important details, things that grab her attention like a hawk grabs prey, and in that instant Cardinal's fath becomes well placed.

This is not information she can simply trade off for her benefit. Of course, on the caveat that it's true. She remains silent, staring and waiting to hear if there's more to this tale.

Huruma does not seem to be as surprised by this development; she is, however, increasingly interested in what else there is to it- that can't possibly be all. She looks off to Ling once, gauging her expression as well as the bubbles of peculiarity that come up in her mood. Huruma has her own theories, right off the bat, but she waits and motions for Cardinal to continue, her chin jerking just slightly.

Of course, it isn't everything. Just this little snippet of information isn't much - although sometimes, when dealing with intelligence, all you get are those snippets. Cardinal, however, is known for getting much more than snippets when he starts digging.

Whether he can be believed is up to the trust of the listener.

"You haven't done anything," he says, turning his head to look to the two women with a serious expression, "Every target you hit has been stripped of all vital equipment and information and staffed by cheap rented mercenaries before you hit it. Occasionally you were sent after a Company target. They were high-profile targets so that they had an excuse to tighten their grip on people. So that they had an enemy to scare the civilians with. In the words of Vice-President Mitchell… after PARIAH disbanded, his funding went down, so he needed another target.""

"Messiah," he says dryly, "Is a weapon in the hands of Humanis First and the Commonwealth Institute."

Cardinal has Ling's attention on a thread until he reaches the last part of his information dump. The Chinese woman can't help but snort and shake her head. "I'm afraid you've lost me, Richard, unless you have something to back such an accusation up." She sits up a bit, peering at the other two carefully. "I trust Rupert Carmicheal with very little. His plans are almost too perfect. But a tool of the Institute? I find it hard to believe that they would send us up against their own." Or that she was indirectly working with Bao-Wei Cong, in a manner of speaking.

Huruma listens. It is not clear if she believes, disbelieves, or believes only partly- and perhaps there is something more to Rupert- once again- than even Mitchell knows. She is too familiar with Carmichael to take what Cardinal says at face value, but at the same time, he always seems to have good information. She wags a hand to Ling, sitting up and peering beside her to Richard.

"If your source was no'so private, per'aps we could come to a more clear conclusion." Huruma purses her lips, considering her next words. "I can tell you now, tha'm'practical side needs proof, as Ling- but m'senses know tha'sometimes what is presented can be another thing entirely. Though I can picture Messiah as a dry run- I can also picture th'opposite- tha'Rupert has something else up his sleeve. Proof is proof, even if it were possible for me t'tell if he were lying. I know what t'look for, but he is very skilled at it, I know."

Cardinal exhales a faint snort of breath to Ling's words. "They'd lost control of the hospital," he reminds Ling, "Gregor and Cong both went rogue — they were going to sanitize the site anyway. Why do you think they sent in the national guard, rather than just bombing the building to begin with? This way they could present Messiah against innocent soldiers…"

He gives his head a slight shake to Huruma's question, "I can't tell you who the source is — if it gets out, he's dead, and his family's dead. It's a source I trust implicitly, though, I can tell you that. Whether Rupert's the one playing Mitchell is another question, but — hell, neither of you are fools. You know what'll happen if the November eighth riots occur. And Rupert's way is leading us straight towards them, if not worse."

The other side of his jacket's reached into, and he pulls out a tape recorder that's currently off. "Have either of you ever met a girl named 'Mika'? She's an age-shifter, claimed to be one of Rupert's recruiters since Shedda Dinu, claimed that she was being hunted by Messiah after leaving it."

Ling just gives a quick shake of her head at the mention of a "Mika", certainly not anyone she's met before. The idea of an Age Shifter is somewhat unsettling to her, to say to least. But that's far from what her mind is focused on at the moment. Cardinal's note about the Hospital does make sense, but even then, it's the mention of November eighth that has Ling rising from her seat, stepping forward and looking out to the horizon. "I don't know all the details of November eighth," she remarks with a wave of her hand, before looking back over her shoulder at Huruma and Cardinal. "You truly believe he is only moving us closer to these events?"
Huruma narrows her eyes at Cardinal, apparently thinking back. Looking for something of a memory and forming it into choice words. "I'ave never met her, no." She looks to Ling, allowing her to mostly voice mutual thoughts. "An'what, would you propose, tha'we do about this information?" Not that Huruma is incapable of ideas of her own- but perhaps Cardinal has something in mind already, that may prove advantageous.

"I do," Cardinal says with a tight shake of his head, "I mean— hell, think about it, think about it logically. You all are attacking extremely high profile targets, none of whom seem to have any civilian employees inside ever, taking public credit for the attacks and letting the media report high civilian casualties… with a government in power that just keeps tightening the noose. You're not attacking any serious targets. Has anything you attacked actually helped anything noticably? No, because there wasn't anything there…"

"I could handle Carmichael myself, but that'd start a war between our own people. I don't want to destroy Messiah, I just don't want you working for the same people you're opposing," he says firmly, "As for Mika — well. Here." Click, goes his thumb on the recorder.

"History repeats itself. I've been alive for 91 years, and I can tell you better than anyone that it does. I've seen wars, famine, death like you would never believe. I've seen the skeletal ruins of Hiroshima after the bomb landed, before it was rebuilt." A young voice, on the tape.

"I watched the rise and fall of PARIAH. I watched some of its members go to Phoenix. I watched Rupert create Shedda Dinu from former members of PARIAH, and its rise and fall. And I've watched him create Messiah. The same things are going to happen, but with the scale of the ones he's getting involved?Petrelli, Sylar?I'm terrified of what's going to happen. You?you know those flashes people had?"

"I've known older," Peyton's voice cuts in, "Though granted only for about a twenty minute conversation.Yeah, we know about them."

"And I've met Adam," says Cardinal in dry tones, "I suspect that immortality's more of a curse than a blessing. I guess it's a lucky thing that I'll probably be shot before a few more years pass by, I'm enough of an asshole with just over a quarter-cent in me. We know about, and what caused, the flash, yes."

"It's quite the curse. I had children once?I'm sure they're grandparents by now," continues the young voice, 'Mika' one presumes, "I'm sure it will only lose its glamor as time passes. I'm still fairly young, all things considered. There are those older than me who don't even have my ability." She chuckles.

Then, the slight humor to her tone disappears. "I saw something horrible in my own flash. I don't want that to happen… and if I stay with Messiah, I worry that it will."

Cardinal's thumb clicks down again, and he regards them steadily, "Huruma, we might not've agreed on a lot of things in the past, but have I ever given you bad information?"

Ling turns back around, and her expression, for the first time in either's sight, looks rather sullen, like she's had some shield around her cracked and her worry is leaking to the surface. She listens to what Cardinal plays, unable to see it while it goes on. She grimaces, her expression of worry only growing. Her eyes close, and she sighs, moving back towards the bench. When she speaks again, she's quiet, just quiet enough for the pair to hear.

"I've been ordered t' kill Preager," she intones, eyes downcast a bit. Something Huruma knows, but surely news to Cardinal. "If this is something that leads to the events of those… flashes, then it is not something I can be a part of." Eyes close again, shaking her head. "I'm going to die that day, if such things are true. I joined Messiah to avoid this."

"No." Huruma's eyes lift up from the horizon, flitting back to Richard. "Never. Not on purpose, anyway." She smiles, lips curling. She cants her head off to Ling, nodding once, confirming her note on Praeger. "He has planned t'target proponents of registration, an'people related. I really don'see what good it would do- which somewhat backs you up, I would suppose."

"I am a fairweather Scarf, Richard, Ling, I am sure you'ave both realized that." She's not in it for the cause, so much as the channel it gives her to do something more. "This-" Her hand gestures to Cardinal, the bench, the meeting. "-makes me feel like slipping off of some shoulders." But maybe not before she takes someone in this new mess with her.

"I could just… deal with him," Cardinal says quietly, "I have the resources, the manpower, the ability. But it'd start a huge… fucking mess, and probably destroy Messiah. It'd certainly kill a whole fuckin' lot of us."

He rakes his fingers back through his hair, leaning back on the bench and lifting his gaze to the skies, "Messiah could do some good… but not under Rupert's guidance. Killing Praeger - you both know that wouldn't do a damn thing but make things worse. Praeger's a public figurehead, the sort've guy that they give orders to from above, and he barks them out to the public. The Department of Evo makes themselves out to be helping us. If you kill him before we have proof they're doing the opposite… we look like mad animals that bite the hand reaching out to us."

Ling grimaces, turning back to look out at the water. "I thought it was… a brazen move. There's certainly more to it than a simple assassination," Ling notes, shaking her head. "I can only put off my assignment for so long before Rupert and Peter grow impatient and assign someone esle to it. Or, Peter… has acquired my ability, though whatever means he does these things. There's little to stop him from doing it himself should I put it off too long." Ling looks clearly conflicted, bothered. There is clearly circumstantial evidence to support Richard's claims, but there has yet to be concrete proof. And yet, she feels ready to buy in. It seems, if unintentionally, Cardinal has known just what to say. "I am… less fair-weather than Huruma. I live in a house of almost but members of Messiah, and had it not been for Peter, I would be in a tube somewhere. And yet…"

Huruma chuckles, the sound dry and rather willful. "Jus'tell Praeger that they're after him. Or, Ling- you can go t'do your job- and fail." They count on the ladies of Messiah too much, when the ladies are also the ones to worry about. "You could go on th'mission, stay in tha'other form- an'instead of killing him, tip him off an'make up some nonsense about him being ready, or fighting you off."

"You always'ave a choice, Ling. Figure it out."

"You have to remember," Cardinal says quietly, "If he realizes what you're doing, or even suspects… he can make you tell him. You probably won't even remember he did it. You might not even know what sort of… triggers he's applied. Huruma's probably clear - her ability'd probably give her warning of what he was doing, but you?"

A breath's taken, exhaled, and he rubs his fingers against the bridge of his nose, "I can warn Praeger. As much as he's a bastard. But that won't solve the problem."

Ling exhales sharply, still looking out at the water. "I've heard tell of what Rupert can do, but that is the extent of it," she notes, shaking her hand in a manner that sends a few wisps of smoke floating out into the air. A hand dips into her jacket pocket, and withdraws with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter in its grip. One is drawn out and lit, the Chinese woman exhaling sharply, smoke furling out in front of her. "Acting as if nothing is the matter is no issue. Nor is failing. Despite what Peter or Rupert may think, I am… far from practiced at what they want me to do."
Endgame> Elisabeth says, "Best character ever"
"So forget Praeger for a moment, mind you. What d'you propose as per what we do with what you've told us?" Huruma turns her gaze on Cardinal, keeping her inquiry short. "I could approach Rupert about it, or we could approach Peter. Or, it seems, do nothing. There is little tha'we can do, short of absconding ourselves."

"Peter's been brainwashed - he's as much a victim as anyone else," Cardinal replies, looking to Huruma over the edge of his shades, "And Rupert'll just lie and then make you believe it. As for what there is you can do about it… you know what we can do about it."

"Have you told anyone else this information?" Ling inquires, turning back to face the others with a quirked eyebrow. "I know at least one person who would… deserve to know that this is even a possibility. Though who admittedly already doesn't trust Rupert in the least, and likely would have a far more polarising reaction than Huruma or myself."
"What? You mean kill him?" Huruma purses her lips into an amused little expression, leaning back and looking almost sidelong to Cardinal. "I suppose that is one thing, yes…" She smiles fully again, looking Ling once over. "Mmmm. Pierce?"

"If you don't," Cardinal says in quiet, clinically cold tones as he returns Huruma's regard, "I will."

That said, he turns a bit to look to Ling with a brow's lift over the edge of his shades, "Who? I'm unsure whether or not to… approach Rebel. I'm not sure if he's part of this or not."

Ling looks over to Huruma and gives a nod - she's hit it right on the head. "Yes, Pirece." She looks back to Cardinal, arms cross as she takes a puff of her cigarette. "Melissa Pierce. I admit, am… far from the most empathic person on the planet. But she lost someone dear to her through her association to Messiah. Telling her, though… she would like take her anger straigh to Rupert's front door."

"Then maybe that's the thing to do," Cardinal says quietly, "Bring this to Pierce, bring this to anyone else… logical and rational, who can see the evidence when it's waved in their face, who's in Messiah. Counter his conspiracy with a conspiracy of your own."

"Then maybe that's the thing to do," Cardinal says quietly, "Bring this to Pierce, bring this to anyone else… logical and rational, who can see the evidence when it's waved in their face, who's in Messiah. Counter his conspiracy with a conspiracy of your own."

"I don't know who else in Messiah is… wary of how things are being handled. Not at this moment. I can keep an ear out, however. That is something I know how to do quite well." A long drag of Ling's cigarette is taken, reducing it down quiet a bit. "I will speak to Pierce very soon. I live with her, as well as several other members of Messiah. I'll have to draw her away, but that shouldn't be too hard to manage."

"Per'aps you should'andle th'conspiracy theories, Ling?" Huruma speaks again, after her repose of watching the two. "None of them seem t'trust m'much- an'while you do that, I could keep an eye on Peter an'Rupert. Maybe others? I will help sow seeds, but only in ways that make sense." If Huruma were to start confiding in others all of a sudden, yes, it would look suspicious.

"If you could keep me out of it as best you can…" Cardinal's hands brace to the edge of the bench, and he pushes himself up to his feet slowly, "…I mean, hell, even I admit it looks like I'm playing some kind've game with you all." He turns back to the pair, his expression serious, "I'm not, though. I'll give you some time to handle this in-house, but I can't let this continue forever. I will kill this timeline that he's leading us towards."

Ling gives a nod to Huruma, looking thoughtful for a moment. "I will keep an ear out, yes. And if Rupert or Peter were to hear Iw as speading something about… they know where I come from. What I've done. No one should be so surprised." The cigarette is plucked from her lips and flicked towards a nearby trash can, which it misses by a rather wide margin. "I will have to get Pierce out somewhere like this, but I will speak to her soon."

A glance is given to Richard as he rises, and Ling give him her almost typical looking malevolent smile. "If killing a future keeps me alive, Richard, I will help you." An offer handed out more firmly than before, and Ling means every word of it.

Huruma does not need to offer Cardinal the same gesture- her straight posture, leant back on the bench watching the water- it says quite a lot, without a word at all. Huruma is too proud to be undermined. If there is something going on, she may actually sniff it out if only to dangle it by a hook. As for this, time shall tell if it turns out the same.

"I will do what I can. If you'ave any developments, let us know immediately."

"Try to avoid getting cornered alone by Carmichael," Cardinal advises, "There's no telling what he might do if he thinks that you're on to him… I'll keep you informed, and you keep me up to date on how things are going on your end. If it doesn't seem like it's going well, then I'll have to take steps."

A faint smile to Ling's words, and he nods to the pair, "Good. Anything else?"

"I believe I have had my fill of agendas, for the day," Ling remarks. Which isn't true, but it seems for the moment there's little else to talk about. A hand runs back through her hair, and she grins. "I will be careful. I always am. Please, keep me informed, Richard, and I shall do the same."

"Nothing else." Huruma stays on the bench, seemingly contented to remain there for now. Quite likely, she needs some time to herself to think. "I trust you will have a good night, Richard. As good as it can be, I think."

"If I… disappear," says Cardinal then, quietly, "Talk to Peyton Whitney or Elisabeth Harrison instead. They know what needs to be done."

He slants a look to Ling, then, "And if I'm still alive in a week or so, I need to talk to you about that other business still. Anyway…" The jammer's pulled out, thumb flicking it off as he gives the pair a rogue's quick smile, "…adieu."

The names are mentally noted, to be scrawled in shorthand later and kept somewhere out of the way of prying eyes. Ling's arms cross once more as she watches Cardinal and Huruma. "I'll be in touch," she offers simply, giving a bit of a bow to both before she turns to leave. It was a bit of a trek back to Staten Island, even if she didn't have to walk the whole way.

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