Forgetting To Look Back



Scene Title Forgetting To Look Back
Synopsis Spending the week in the mountains, Cardinal trains with the Horizon armor while mentally reviewing what the future requires of him… but he forgets to look back.
Date September 14, 2010

Harrison Cabin, Adirondack Mountains

The steady beat of armoured boots over the ground disturbs the peace of the mountains, a flock of starlings fluttering up from a tree to move as one through the air like a great swarm of black dots against the backdrop of the sunset skies.

The figure decked out in the state-of-the-art military technology known in internal brochures as Project Horizon jogs along out of the forest and along to the side of the pond behind the private cabin and comes to a halt. Gloved hands lift upwards, releasing latches and pulling the blank-faced black helmet off, head shaking with its new freedom for a moment in a movement that let scruffy hair shift messily upon his scalp.

Richard Cardinal – burglar, terrorist, information broker, security specialist, murderer of futures – squints upwards against the dying light, one gauntlet-sheathed hand raising up to shield his face from the glare of what would be merely dim light to others. Letting his gaze play over the peaceful serenity of the pond and its surroundings for a few silent minutes, he finally turns to regard the grey house that belongs to the Harrison family.

To Elisabeth and her father.

"I know. That's an order."

There's a moment like silence in the midst of all the rioting, or at least it seems like that to Cardinal, as red blossoms across the blonde peacekeeper's forehead with a sniper's gift from a mile away, falling back in what seems like slow-motion to his eyes. Then she's gone, behind the lines of the police, and the rioters surge forward with a new roar of anger and protest, bodies physically hauling the riot cops down to the pavement.

"Shhttss—is down, repeat, Harrison is down, we can't hold them, fall back, fall-sshhzzt"

The memory of the vision flashed through his head, as it had a thousand times in his nightmares. It’d gotten worse since he’d first put on the armour, since he’d seen that heads up display that seemed so familiar to him. He walks over towards the house slowly, which actually took more focus than running – while he was getting used to the exoskeleton, some things required a level of finesse he was still developing.

Up onto the porch, and he turns back to look out down the mountainside, down the gravel road that wound its way up to the cabin as if he were expecting someone to come driving up it. There weren’t any cars on the road, of course. There never were. He was – had been – alone here for the past week, alone with nothing but his thoughts to keep him company.

He had a lot to think about, after all.

"I recorded them," is a little vaguely offered from Colette, glancing back to Jupiter and Elisabeth for only a moment before she turns her attention back to Cardinal. "I um— the Ferry. Everyone I could, I got help too. Recordings… of… of the visions. First-hand accounts from people, and then I asked Tamara how we can stop the riots." Holding out the bag of memory cards, Colette's jaw squares.

"Can you stop it?" is a plea, desperate, but honest.

"The best way?" Evan gestures with his hands as he talks, invisible lines cutting through the air between them. "Trace back cause and effect from that day to the present day, locate the most crucial turning point - or points - you can, then make sure those points turn away from the wrong direction. Now a practical question— can you and your, ah, group actually do that?"

Monica pauses for a long moment before there's a sound that sounds suspiciously like a sob. "I didn't know who else to call. I'm sorry. I'm not trying to… blubber all over you or anything. It's just… I… I'm gonna die. In November. and I've been trying to just… live like I didn't see it, but-" Of course, he can't see, but she shakes her head there instead of finishing her sentence.

There were people counting on him. More than counting on him – depending on him. Lives would be lost, a lot of them, even Elisabeth’s, if he couldn’t get this right. If he didn’t get the map right, if he didn’t make the right moves on the table. Not only lives could be lost… but a whole lot more than lives. And he wasn’t fool enough to think he was the only player in the game. He didn’t even know the names of some of the hands moving pieces on the board.

He turns away from the road, pushing open the screen door and allowing it to swing closed behind him with a creak and a solid clack when wood hit wood. The helmet was lobbed underhand over to the couch, bouncing once on a cushion and rolling to rest against the arm. He strides towards the kitchen without glancing over to see if it’d hit the ground, the subtle whisper of the exoskeleton audible without the helmet to seal the suit. Carefully, he reaches up to the cabinet, opening it and closing his fingers around a bottle there, retrieving a glass with infinite care.

He wasn’t sure if he knew the right moves to make. And it would be so easy to make a mistake.

"You're already clearly aware of what lengths you're willing to go through in order to protect your own vision of the future, Richard," says Broome, "Who you're willing to kill in order to see that done. All I'm asking you to do, all I'm begging you to do, is to not make the same mistake twice, and trust the wrong people until it's too late to turn back."

Lips downturning into a frown, Kain stares at the table and then looks up to Cardinal. "Ah' dunno what we were doin'… cept Ah' seemed t'think it was our fault. An' I told you something right at the end…" Kain shakes his head slowly, walking away from the desk and towards the office door. "Ah' said congratulations, 'cause we'd gone an' killed a future…"

Unfolding his hands, Edward slaps his palms on his knees, brows knitting together as his head tilts to the side. "Richard, I need you to take into careful consideration the list you'll be getting, remember that I'm willing to make you perform any number of sacrifices in order to accomplish my own personal goals. Consider the nature of what you'd bring about before following through on— " there's a moment of hesitation as Edward reconsiders his words, "before following through on matters pertaining to shaping what we all want. Consider my condition."

The bottle of bourbon in hand and the glass in the other, he strides back along into the living room, shaking his head. It was too late for too many doubts. He had to keep working along with the plan he’d designed and hope – pray – that he could do it. That providence, or God, or fate, or whatever would ensure that he hadn’t chosen wrong.

Then he saw the paper crane folded delicately upon the table in front of the couch, and he paused, his heart’s rate ratcheting up a few notches and his senses sharpening with the sudden pulse of adrenaline. He knew it hadn’t been there when he went out on his run. Suddenly, the house seemed filled with enemies – every closet and hallway could hold a hidden threat. The glass was carefully set down on the table, and he reached over for the crane.

Something was written on it. He shakes the crane sharply to unfold it without releasing the bottle – a weapon, if an improvised one, was something he wanted to keep on hand – and glances down at the photocopy of a photograph. The faces were familiar. He'd seen the photograph before, in fact, the original instead of this grainy copy. It showed a middle-aged man with narrow spectacles and wavy, gray hair and a long face standing with his arms around two women, one that was clearly one of the Zimmerman triplets, though in her teens, the other a woman in her late forties, light hair. Beside them stood a young Niklaus Zimmerman with wire-rimmed spectacles on.

"The Zimmerman family needs your help, Cardinal. You and Niklaus must come to Central Park on September 22nd at 4:00pm"
"History must be maintained."
- Hiro

The bottle of bourbon shatters in his hand.

"I never got your name. We played cat and mouse here on Staten Island for the better part of six hours back in nineteen…" Hazel eyes narrow slowly, and Samson's lips hang open in silent consideration, trying to remember when it really was. "Nineteen seventy-seven." Reaching to the back pocket of his jeans, Samson slowly withdraws a soft pack of Camel lights, smacking one cigarette out onto his palm and bringing it up to his lips, pinched between calloused fingers.

"Your ability is tricky, it was a challenge," and that has light glimmering in Samson's eyes that wasn't there before. Another glint is the way the tip of the cigarette glows very softly before popping once with a tiny spark of flame before burning normally. "You almost had me, set up a clever trap, but I had a different arsenal then than what I have now."

Sliding the cigarette to one side of his mouth with his tongue, Samson's weight rests back on his heels while he tucks the crumpled cigarette pack back into his pocket. "But in the end, you wound up like all the others here in the seventies." To wit, Samson draws a line across his own forehead with his thumb. "You died."

He’d spent the week worrying about the future.

As it turned out, what he should have been worrying about was the past.

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