For Each Caesar A Brutus


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gifxiulan_icon.gif zuleyka_icon.gif

Scene Title For Each Caesar A Brutus
Synopsis Edward Ray's effects come back from Cambridge.
Date August 12, 2009

New York Public Library, Midtown

The drive back is accomplished in the same fashion as the drive up — some amount of chatter, but mostly everyone in their own thoughts. Elisabeth let them argue about the music if they felt like it, and she dropped Sal off where he wanted to be dropped; his phone call had turned out to be something he needed to attend to. So it's just the two women as they drive across town to park Liz's car and then hike to the library with Edward Ray's stuff. Luckily it's not too heavy. As they walk through the ruins of Midtown toward the massive steps of the Public Library's impressive edifice, Elisabeth grins at Xiulan. "You said you could do that to where it's somewhat more lifelike than the picture I gave you? I'd like that… though I don't really want it my own face. That just seems too wierd."

"Yeah, I can make it look like anything you want, really." Slanting a glance at Liz, Xiulan flashes a wry whilst readjusting the box in her arms. "I could probably even make it 3D if you wanted." Course, her own WoW tats are long gone at this point. Xiulan isn't into adorning her own flesh. "Just let me know when you want to do it. It really won't take more then five or ten minutes tops. And /that/ is with gossip time figured in."

Elisabeth snickers and returns that glance. "And what kinda gossip you looking for, girl?" She's carrying the smaller UPS box, but offers again, "I'll swap with you anytime you want."

Once they're through the doors, they find Cardinal waiting for them in the lobby, having been alerted by their call ahead; an easy smile curving his lips, he offers dryly as he overhears the last part of their conversation, "Just make sure to keep in all the juicy bits about me, it'll help my ego."

"Gossip is gossip," Xuilan admits. "Course, juicy is always better then dull." Hey, she's become way more Americanized after associating with Cardinal and Crew, go figure. His comment earns him a look and wry laugh. "Like you need any help with your ego? Please." The box she had been carrying is pushed into his arms, one brow spiking slightly. "And you owe me dinner for having to flirt with online nerds."

Elisabeth snickers. "And you owe me dinner for driving Cambridge with bitchy people with personal issues. Self not excluded." Elisabeth sticks her tongue at Cardinal and holds up the package in her own hands.

"I suppose," Cardinal notes, pushing up from where he's perched on the steps leading up to the second floor and above, "That if I offer to kill two birds with one stone there, I'll get hit by something…?" A roguish grin, but there's a hint of strain to the teasing as he approaches, reaching over to accept the package offered, "Sal still in a mood— and what's this, then?"

Rolling her eyes at Liz, Xuilan snorts and folds her arms over her chest. "I wasn't the least bit bitchy, thank you." At the mention of Sal being a mood, Xiulan shrugs. "I wouldn't know, he hasn't said to words to me since the night you introduced us." That, however, is a topic for another time. Instead, she dips her chin toward the package. "Sent to Ray from some unknown source. Apparently it arrived right before we did. So. ten to one he mailed it to himself." Cause that is the kinda dick he appears to have been.

She lets Xiulan tell him about the package and adds quietly, "Trick is? They only hold it at the desk for 48 hours. So… a few options present themselves. Either he's got someone watching the lot of us. Or… maybe he had someone watching the BANK so that when I went for the keys, it set off a chain of events. Or… he had a precog? They're notoriously vague generally, from what I know… Cuz I don't see how he would have gotten it to us RIGHT THEN any other way." She nods to the box that Xiu is carrying. "That's the rest of his personal efects from the university. And as to Sal's problem…. he's not saying. And he's not sleeping, either. So…. don't lean on the man too hard would be my advise."

"I know what his problem is, and it's not something any've us can help with," Cardinal murmurs as he accepts the package, turning it over with a slight frown, "…it could be any of the above. Or maybe he just predicted the exact time, within a day, that you were likely to show up. The guy's power of prediction was fucking creepy, Liz, it wasn't precognition but— it may as well've been, only more precise."

He takes a step over, setting the parcel atop the box and claiming it from Xiulan if she lets him in a rare moment of chivalry, grunting a bit, "Let's head into the operation room and crack this baby open then."

"The man can kiss my ass," Xiulan notes flatly. She lets it go at that, however. No point in starting an arguement about something that isn't that serious. She is more then happy to let Card be chivalrous actually. She does, however, quirk a brow at the operation room comment. "We have an operations room?" What the hell is an operations room?

Elisabeth snickers softly. She can't help it. "For a guy that bitched and whined and moaned about people hoarding information…. I gotta tell you, you're starting to become that which you hate, babe," she comments as she walks on his heels. "It's the room where he's gathering all his intel and chortling over it… or tearing his hair out over it on alternate days. With the big maps and stuff. Like the evil geniuses in movies have." Her tone is mildly amused, like she's trying really hard to keep things light.

At that accusation, Cardinal rolls his eyes behind his shades. "Sal was Laudani's lover," he says shortly, turning with the box in his arms to stride towards the back with a bit of a chuckle, "And there aren't any big maps, though we do have some prophetic paintings on the walls… hm. Big maps. We need some big maps, put it on my schedule."

"I see…." She doesn't. But Xiulan isn't volunteering that information. She does, however, trail along with Liz, her head giving a faint shake. "Card hoarding information? He's shown us everything so far," providing they wanted to see it. "OH! You mean with regards to Sal." Gotcha. "Eh. Not my business." It is as she glances back at Card that she adds, "Which reminds me… When are you going to get around to doing what Liu asked you to do?" You know, in case the man asks her… "I'd rather not piss him or Song off if we can avoid it." And that gains a mild of shudder of revulsion. "You do not want to know what I had to do to get Logan on thier shit list." She doesn't want to consider the price for failing a mission. "Laudan-Who?"

"I could just make the walls big maps," is added belatedly.

Elisabeth's head whips around so that she can stare at Cardinal. "Oh fuck," she groans. Cuz well…. she adores Teo, but you know what? His love life is even more annoying and complicated than Elisabeth's right now — and that's saying something at this precise moment. She blows out a breath and just shakes her head. "Well, once we see what we've actually got… I think we need to figure out what our assets are and who needs to know what. Otherwise, we're just becoming part of the problem instead of part of the solution. The problem has always been that people aren't willing to talk to one another. If Edward fucking Ray had actually laid out his plan and explained why…. I honest to God think I might have just stood by." She can't believe she's saying that. "I would have seriously considered it, anyway."

"If there was one thing that he wasn't good with, it was people" Cardinal says in wry tones as he heads back through the halls, passing by the low rumbling of the gasoline-powered generators and brushing aside a dangling curtain of plastic that was left from a repair job to head into the operations room. It's not entirely a glorious chamber, being mostly bookshelves laden with fire-damaged books, tables warped a little laden with file boxes and a television, a series of framed prints hanging on one wall showing rather ominous imagery, and a few oscillating fans to keep the room cool.

He drops the box onto a table, ripping the tape sealing it off and reaching inside, "Laudani. Teo. Ghost. Whatever he's going by right now… and I'm working on the Linderman case, Xiu, don't worry." He pulls out a VHS tape, blinking, "Huh. Someone check, uh, the closet over there? I think I saw a VHS in there somewhere with the rest of the shit."

None of those names mean a damned thing to Xiulan and that pretty much shows on her face. Instead, she grimaces mildly and notes in response to the Linderman case. "I'm going to worry til it's handled, babe." It's just… Yeah, she's going to worry. She does, however, head over to rummage through the closet, shoving boxes out of her way before finally coming up with a VCR. "I didn't think people used these anymore."

Dropping into a seat, Elisabeth starts pulling other things out of the box that came from the storage unit, skimming papers as she does it while they wait for the VCR to come back out. "Mostly, they don't. Although my dad's a holdout — refuses to replace his movie collection with the DVDs, so has both."

There's a rapping on the doorframe. Shave and a haircut, two bits. And beyond the bleary surface of the plastic, Zuzu and CinderEdmund. Edmund is on a leash, the other end secured around her wrist. She's wearing a backpack, and from it dangles a waterbottle, and she looks sweaty and tired.

"Hey, Zu." Cardinal steps over around the television as Xiulan carries the VCR over, starting to work at setting it up as he introduces casually, "Zuleyka, this is Elisabeth and Xiulan… guys, this is Zu. She's stayin' here for awhile. She could also probably kick both your asses if she felt like— God damn it, it is on channel three!"

Static hiss crackle— then it clears to a blue screen. "Finally!"

"Hello," is called over to Zu as the VCR is settled atop the television set. The moment the static goes blue and quiets, she steps back and leans a hip against the nearest table. "You know," she admits. "I'm not entirely sure I even want to see this tape." Cause you know it is bound to be bad.

Looking up, Elisabeth studies Zuleyka…. and she nods slowly. She remembers the girl from Staten Island, just a bit. She was the one on the guns, right? But she merely nods - she was masked back then. "Hi," she offers quietly. And then she slants a glance at Xiulan and grimaces. "I'm kinda with you. Hey… while we're sitting here, will you go ahead? It's gonna take him that long to figure out the cables," she grins.

Zuleyka looks dubious, as she reaches down to scoop up Ed and cuddle him. "Hey, Card," she says, quietly, and glances at the television. "What is this tape?" she wonders of the others, before nodding politely.

"I've got the damn cables," Cardinal mutters, stepping free finally and reaching over for the tape, "I don't know. It was left for me by some asshole that could predict the future with a disturbing degree of accuracy— he left a trail for me and mine to follow, presumably so I can save the world. Long story. Got any popcorn?"

The tape's popped in, and he reaches for the remote, sprawling back in a chair, "Have a seat. This might be long and horrible. Or it could be short and horrible. I'm pretty sure it'll be horrible, though."

It takes Xiulan a moment to catch up with Liz's meaning. When she does, however, she grins and steps over with a dip of her chin in a nod. "Sure, you want the both of them? And where do you want them again?" Hey, it's been a busy few weeks, she's not going to remember everything. She does, however, chime in with, "Yay for horrible."

Elisabeth grins. "Both. Dragon here," she points to her lower back, "curling up. And yes, I know what they call it. And if I hate it, I'll just get you to take it off again. The other here," she points to the back of her shoulder. Shoving her hair out of Xiulan's way, she asks, "Shirt on or off?" Cuz it's not really going to faze her one way or the other, honestly. She does glance at Cardinal and wrinkle her nose. "Way to be a fatalist," she tells him.

Zuleyka puts a hand on her chest. "Do I? No. I can get some next time I'm out," she says, easily, settling Ed comfortably in her lap. He gets a lot of affection, perhaps more to soothe herself than Ed himself.

"I'm a realist," Cardinal retorts, before clicking the remote.

The old VHS tape clicks and pops inside of the player, followed by a jumble of analogue noise in the form of black and white static, before the grainy image of the interior of the run-down Slush-O booth on Coney Island comes into focus. The camera jitters and skews at an odd angle, along with muffled clunking and clicking, someone clearly trying to set it on a tripod.

"Here, this should work." Edward's voice, unmistakable over the poor audio of the recording. Then, a moment later, a familiar figure in a black windbreaker comes into focus, dragging a chair behind him with the legs scraping against the floor. He sets the chair in frame of the camera, looking to someone off-camera before sitting down, folding his hands between his knees as he leans forward.

"If you're viewing this recording, Richard, it means that neither myself or my present-day iteration did not survive entering the Pinehearst Building." His blue eyes seem so much duller on this poor-quality camcorder recording. "This also, unfortunately, means that you have volunteered yourself to tie up loose ends resulting from the failure of my work. I myself am under no allusions that I will survive my confrontation with destiny, but I - like my colleagues who have already been committed to the grave - do not belong here. I am sand in the oyster, one which will unfortunately not produce a pearl."

Lacing his fingers together, Edward looks down at the floor. "This message is a failsafe. If my present-day iteration does not survive the events, it means that the probability of my plan going through as designed is infinitesimal. If you're viewing this, Richard, it means that you have work to do."

"In the future I came from, there is an individual known as Norman White. He is a prisoner whose dossier I read during my tenure at the Moab Federal Penitentiary. He was one of my prospective recruits, but one I ultimately swayed away from given his psychological instability. In my time, he was imprisoned in Moab up until the day of my escape in 2019. Given that in this timeline, the Moab Federal Penitentiary was destroyed, it leaves a very dangerous loose end for you to handle."

Edward looks up from the floor, thin brows furrowed and a look of intent focus on his face. "If my plan were allowed to come to fruition, Norman White would have died in a riot swelling through New Jersey on July 30th 2009. Three square blocks of the unreclaimed Irradiated Zone of Jersey City would be destroyed in the process, and nothing of value would be lost."

Now, however, Edward's tone of voice indicates things have changed. "Without the culmination of my plan, Norman White has slipped out of my predictions. With my death, I am unable for foresee the changes resulting from my own failure, which leaves you in a precarious situation." His head tilts to the side, one brow rising. "Do you know what the population of Staten Island is as of July 2009, Richard?"

"83,000" The sum of the two numbers found on the string-web in the Slush-O booth.

"If you fail to find and stop Norman White, he is going to destroy Staten Island entirely. I'm not talking about something as crude as scorched earth policy, Richard, I'm talking about the myth of Atlantis, sunk beneath the waves by Poseidon's wrath." A look of consternation washes over Edward, a certain affect of prophetic anxiety. "He is a tier-3 Terrakinetic - an earth mover. If you have any recollection of the Earthquake that nearly brought Los Angeles to its knees in 1994, than you have a bare understanding of what this man is capable of."

Leaning back in his seat with a creak of the wood, Edward stares blankly at the camera. "As much as I like to feel that I can adapt my plans to accommodate for changes in people's actions, sometimes I fail, Richard. Right now, on the eve of the single most defining moment of my life, I am for the first time ever afraid of what the future holds."

His eyes divert, down to the floor again, "I cannot abide the future I came from to happen, and as a result I have made myself into the villain I so desperately loathe. But every history needs its Caesar, and every Caesar needs his Brutus." Focus comes back in clarity to the lens of the camera, and Edward's stare feels as through it's looking through the television to Cardinal.

"Everything I did, I did for the future." A click comes, and the screen turns back to static for a moment, and then nothing but blue as STOP appears on the upper-right hand corner of the screen in blocky green print from the VCR. End of message.

"Well," Cardinal says after a long silence, just staring at the blue screen, "No pressure or anything, huh, Eddie?"

"You can leave it on," Xiulan notes with a hint of laughter in her tone. "I just need exposed flesh." And there is more then enough of that already. So saying, her finger tips come to rest on the nape of Liz's neck, a subtle heat and very faint tingling running down the length of the woman's spine to center over the small of her back and upon her scapula. Fortunately, the tattoos are finished before Edward gets fully into his speech. If not, they would likely have gone half finished. As it stands, Xiulan moistens her lips as the video dies, dark eyes slanting a glance toward Richard. "He did know we're pretty much small time criminals and a token cop, yeah?"

With her blue eyes glued to the screen, Elisabeth might not have even noticed the images on her skin going unfinished. She is riveted by the words. By the sheer weight of all that is coming down on just a few people's shoulders…. again. "He never says… what happens if we just let it play out," she says quietly. "The precogs are predicting a lot of vague things, all of them bad. But… we keep using future information to try to change the present…. and look how much more damage we may have done. This wouldn't have happened if we hadn't hit Moab to extract people whose very incarceration … actually helped *create* the kind of world everyone says they wanted. Equality and justice and… not 83,000 dead or injured." She sounds almost mournful.

Zuleyka is owl-eyed and silent. "Who was that?" she asks, after a little, glancing to Cardinal as if he might explain. "The future - someone can time travel?"

"And all of us crushed under Arthur Petrelli's thumb," Cardinal replies sharply, tossing the remote onto the table and leaning forward to stab the 'eject' button with the sort of ferocity usually reserved for spear tips, "It's not enough to settle for a safe world. We need to make ourselves a good one." He turns a bit to look to Zuleyka with a tired expression, pulling the shades from his face to rub against his eyes, "That was Edward Ray. His power was… probability analysis. He could plot out actions and calculate what would happen, more or less. The one on the tape came from ten years in the future. Yeah, he was a time traveller. There's a few around. I know, it sounds fucking crazy."

Drawing her hand away from Elisabeth's neck, Xiulan brushes her fingers off on her shorts before tucking her hands in her pockets. She KNEW the tape was going to be horrible. "Well, we're going to have to find a way to take White out, that much is solid." Slanting a glance at Richard, she rolls her shoulders in a fluid shrug. "We could tell Liu what is going on, he'd probably very keen on making sure that that does not happen." Because, you know, it's hard to run a crime syndicate when you are underwater. Just a thought. "Should I arrange another meeting?"

Elisabeth grimaces slightly. "Yeah. I know," she sighs. She wouldn't be here if she didn't already agree with the fact that Arthur Bad. "Well, a lot of this we already knew, luckily. We're already working on the Norman White angle. It occurs to me that as much as I hate to say it… he was in Moab for a reason. Maybe we should also sic the Company on hunting for him." She looks at him. "Not that they'll trust a thing I say, but I still have a contact."

"What's the Company?" Zu says, finally turning her gray gaze on Elisabeth, curiously. "I hear the capital letters in the way you say it. Like the CIA?"

Cardinal glances back over his shoulder, nose wrinkling in a brief grimace, "I don't think getting the crazy sonuvabitch that thinks he's 'chosen' and can sink cities with an angry thought in touch with the evolved-supremacist crime lords is a particularly good idea— maybe as a last resort, but I think that'd just make it worse." He pauses then, considering Liz's words, "Yeah. Yeah, we'll use the Company on this. Do you think they'd trust you enough to go after him?" A glance to Zu, "They're the boogeyman. If Evos are bad, they come in the night to take you away, and lock you in small illegal prisons underground for experimentation."

"Well," Xiulan sighs. "Let me know what you want to do, Richard. I /have/ to get back to work." Otherwise she won't have a business to go back to. At the mention of the Company, she wrinkles her nose and does her level best not to grimace outwardly. She does, however, crack her neck while heading for the exit. "I'll do what you need me to do," she affords to Cardinal matter-of-factly. "Just send word and it's all good." Glancing at Zu, she raises her chin in a nod. "Nice meeting you." A wink to Liz is tossed as she adds, "Let me know when you want those changed?" Hey, tats ala Xiu are like changing earrings. "I'm out." And man, does she /NEED/ a drink.

Elisabeth's eyes rest on Cardinal when he asks her about that, and she says quietly. "If I flat out tell them what I know about Moab — the time travelers and how people were thrown through time? I think I might be able to convince them to play ball. It's not like we don't have over 400 Evo major-league criminals now on the loose. And truth to tell, MOST of them probably did deserve to be there." She looks over her shoulder at Xiulan, grinning her thanks. She'll pay the other woman later — or at least try to.

Zuleyka blanches. ""That's really fucked up," she says, bluntly, not bothering to moderate her language for Liz's presence. She shakes her head, as if it were all just a minor mis-step on Cardinal's part.

"You're heading out?" Cardinal's attention pauses on Xiulan for a moment, "A'right. I'll talk to you later, babe…" A shake of his head, and he looks then to Elisabeth with a bit of a frown creasing brow and lips, "…we may not have to hand over quite that much of our bargaining posture to get them on Norman's trail. I think I might be able to convince them— three way call, maybe? You, your contact, and a… confidential informant."

Elisabeth shrugs. "I don't mean necessaril tell them everything," she clarifies. "I mean, for example, tell them we know that Moab's been decimated, tell 'em we know a bunch of people are loose including a Tier 3 terrakinetic. That's going to be enough to get their attention, honestly. Anyone who's that dangerous, Denton's going to move on. I don't think telling them anything like 'we know who hit Moab' is even remotely smart. And I'm not up on the idea of turning Phoenix over to them — I'm just suggesting offering enouhg informaiton to let them know we're not cranks."

Zuleyka interjects, quietly, "So, you're a cop? How do you know Card here?"

"Norman White's the primary target," agrees Cardinal, "The rest— we shouldn't need to tell them the rest. Just let him know the sonuvabitch is active and probably on Staten Island, and that he's planning to sink the goddamn thing. We need as many eyes as we can out there looking for him." At the question from Zuleyka, he glances over, then to Liz, raising an amused eyebrow to leave the answer to her.

Elisabeth looks up at Zuleyka and smiles slightly. "I'm a cop. Same way I know you, mostly …. you hung out a helo's door and blasted the shit out of things while we retrieved some friends of mine off Staten." Well, she knows him in other ways too, but hey. That's no one else's business.

Zu blushes to her hairline, as if Liz had caught her doing something naughty. She even squirms in her seat, making Ed whimper in protest. "I'll help!" she says, quickly.

A grin's flashed over to the teenager, and Cardinal allows, "I'm sure I can find something for you to do… if nothing else, Fedor gave Xiu an AK-47 and didn't tell her how to use it. You up for a li'l bit of cross-training with some people around here, maybe?"

A soft chuckle accompanies Zu's blush. "It's all good, kiddo," she says as she moves to stand up. More out of restlessness than for any other reason. She jams her hands in the back pockets of her pants and asks curiously, "What kind of cross-training you have in mind?" Because the girl looks like she ought to be going to school. Yeah, yeah, sue her…. her head's not always about the end of the world.

Zuleyka blinks, eyes widening. "Me?" she says, eagerly. ""Sure."

"Jake says she's a better shot than he is," Cardinal observes with a sidelong look to Elisabeth, a touch amused at her inquiry, "And more'n a few of my people don't know the barrel from their trigger, so I figured she could train some of them up." Because he's less willing than Fedor was to literally throw her into combat situations.

Elisabeth nods easily. His friend, his call. Who the hell is she to naysay him? "Sounds like a good idea. I think Conrad used the basement hallway for a firing range before they moved out of the building. Good idea to make sure you have ear protection if you use it, though… That shit'll make you deaf. Safer than the subway tunnels, though. If you have ammo to burn."

Zuleyka bounces in her seat a little, as if what CArdinal had proposed was merely a fun field trip. Perhaps in her world, it is.

Can you feel the real intention?

"Sounds like a plan, I'll go check it out later," Cardinal replies agreeably, though the smile fades a bit when he looks back over towards the video sitting on the table.

Can you - discern the subtle meaning?

The appointed Brutus pushes up to his feet, stepping over to reach for the tape where it sits and sliding it back into its box, "I've got a hell of a lot of work to do coming up, it looks like. Give this Denton guy a call, see if you can get the Company moving on White. I'll run by the Remnant at some point and let them know to watch out for the asshole, make sure I get their eyes open too."

Can you - see all the implications?

He turns then to offer the pair a tired smile, though there's something of honest gratitude in his eyes as he tells them, "I'm glad you're all here, though. God knows I could never do this alone."

Can you read the signs yet?

Can you read the signs?

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