If He Sets Bombs, I Blame You


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title If He Sets Bombs, I Blame You
Synopsis A tactical discussion about fixing the future.
Date Sep 15, 2009

New York Public Library

"So…" Cardinal's hand draws along the table's edge as he walks along into what he's been using as a primary office, pausing before the place where the Brill prints hang and looking up at them in silence for a moment, letting that simple syllable hang. Finally he breaks that silence, "Are you sure you want all in with my plans, Liz? It's— things are going to get worse before they can get better, and I think I may end up being the one that makes them worse, if I go through with all this."

There's a long breath, a few heartbeats of time where she weighs what he's asking. Because it's a valid question. And then Elisabeth walks quietly to one of the chairs and slides into it. "If I think you're making it worse, I'll kick your ass onto another path," she tells him softly. "But all in means two things here — one of them is all-in as in willingness on my part… the other is all-in on yours. If we're going to do it, you don't leave me in the dark. Anymore. On anything. There've been too many times I've been functioning in the dark … sometimes at my own request and sometimes just because people deem the information need-to-know. I don't want that… If I'm going to go balls to the wall on this, then I want to know what's motivating us in a particular direction and I want you to actually listen to me when I ask questions and suggest alternative actions. Doesn't mean you take my suggestions, but it means that you give me a 'why' when we're coming at it from opposite viewpoints."

The first statement causes him to hesitate visibly, for some reason, a memory of cards flickering across his thoughts as he watches her over his shoulder before his lips crook in the faintest of smiles. "Alright." The shadowman turns his head back away from her, back up to the paintings as he thinks about how to phrase things. "What we want, all of us, Phoenix, everybody," he says quietly, "Is security— of course, obviously— and freedom. It's a hard fuckin' balance to walk, though. The country is currently heading towards the idea of making sure they are secure, by sacrificing our freedom… and our security, too. Dean's people might be able to turn the heads of a few liberals here and there, but let's be frank - in the larger scheme of things, the country's people don't care. It doesn't affect them. It doesn't touch them, isn't obvious enough for them to do anything. It's a slow slide towards fascism, and as we saw with Germany— it's hard to stop that sort of slide."

She listens intently, and Liz's expression never wavers. "Right… you're pretty much preaching to the choir there. Should listen to Cat's lectures on the subject — she's quite eloquent."

"The problem is," Cardinal notes, dryly, "Phoenix are a bunch of fucking optimists, and have drastically underestimated the sheer level of apathy in this country. The things the government's done have been— small, slow, little steps. Bring them up, nobody'll care. Point out the potential of this getting worse, it'll be dismissed. It could never happen here." He falls silent for a moment, eyes closing before he says softly, "The only way to get the people to 'rise up', to listen, to act… is to force the government to tighten the leash faster."

Both eyebrows shoot to her hairline. "Wait….. what?" Elisabeth looks surprised. "So you're…. what? Advocating literally turning terrorist here or something?"

"Not exactly," comes the response, and Cardinal turns; gesturing with one hand in an expansive motion, "You see, if a bunch of Evolved start running around ripping the world down, it'll have the opposite effect. No, we need to force them to do things that restrict us poor, innocent freaks without seeming to be at blame. We need to heat up the ideological conflict and make us seem like victims. And I think I know a way. You're not going to like it. It's, well, illegal. Really illegal." A pause, "I think it's the second-to-top crime you can commit in the states, actually."

"Right," Elisabeth agrees easily. Because yeah… that'd just be pushing the conflict. Which was why she was surprised. His proposal, though, makes sense. "The original impetus for things to change was… the martyrdom of some of the Phoenix people, right? They'd begun to be recognized for what happened with Volken when it became public, and they were killed." This much she's put together from various conversations more than anything else. She hasn't overtly asked for names of who died, though some of them…. some of them have become obvious. Helena. Trask. Alex/Leonard. Just from the actions of those people or those close to them, she's putting that much together. "Christ… the second-to-top crime? I'm not even sure I know what that is," she admits. "Lay it out for me."

Cardinal slides himself up onto the table he usually uses, sitting on the edge as he regards the woman with a faint, grim smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes— his shades even off, right now. "The problem until now was, racism— is hard to fight, as a concept. Danko made a mistake. He gave it a face. It's not just a subtle force driving things behind the scenes. So the trick is, we need to change that face to something the people will hate— something the government will have to move against." He lets that linger for a moment, "Now, the government will be reluctant to, because Vice-President Mitchell's a sympathizer with the Firsters, if not one of them himself. But he can't say that publically, and has supported the FRONTLINE initiative…"

"So," he asks, leaning forward slightly, voice serious, "What if Mitchell was assassinated… and Humanis First took the credit?"

Elisabeth listens more intently when he brings up Danko and offers to make him the most hated man in America. Almost feral pleasure lights her eyes, but when he lays out the assassination of Mitchell — Christ… he was not kidding about the crime level here! — the blonde looks stunned. Immobile as she thinks through the ramifications. The one thing that sticks out is, "How do you take a man who is a sympathizer, make his own guys the scapegoats for his death, and still make that about us?" She feels like she's missing a piece, but … maybe it's just that she's flabbergasted beyond rational thought here.

"Put together the chain of events," Cardinal encourages her quietly, his voice serious and soft, gaze on her face, "What would happen? The vice-president's killed. That day, a video claiming responsibility for it shows up, from Humanis First. What happens next?"

"No, no… I get that part. That's easy. The trick is, you have to make it look like they killed him — a normal human — what… because he supports FRONTLINE?" Elisabeth looks at him and says, "What happens is the entire country gets into an uproar. He's goddamn popular."

Cardinal nods once, "Right. It's not so impossible to believe— they crashed the FRONTLINE gala, after all, so, it's within the realm of something they'd do. Hell, those videos of theirs make them look more like terrorists than PARIAH ever fuckin' did." He rubs a hand to the side of his face, "Right. There's an uproar— the people finally demand action. Against Humanis. So who do we have that's supposed to deal with evolved-related situations now?"

Elisabeth blinks and says, "Uhm… just FRONTLINE. The SCOUT program was apparently merely a test case for them. So you tihnk they'll ramp-up FRONTLINE to also deal with Humanis?"

Cardinal's lips twitch in a faint smile. "You're starting to see the dominoes, if they fall correctly, aren't you? Now, I don't know how they'll act, exactly, but— " He pauses, glancing over to the file cabinet, "— Edward wrote that if we didn't find a serious divergence point from the future he saw, we were all fucked. This would certainly be a divergence."

Blowing out a breath, Elisabeth thinks it through a bit more. And then thinks to ask, "And have you opted to try out the viewing the future idea again?" she asks with a sharp look at him. Cuz that just went POORLY last time too.

"The two most likely timelines right now," Cardinal replies with a snort of breath, "Appear to be fascist-world and nuclear apocalypse. I'm not thrilled with either, personally, you?"

Elisabeth scratches her head and says, "For God's sake, does everything have to come back to Armaggedon?" She sighs. "So.. you're the one who's read all of Ray's work. What exactly does he lay out as the future? He has to have picked several divergences from the timeline that might work. He was a friggin statistician of mega-proportions."

Cardinal shakes his head, admitting, "He didn't leave much— you've seen most of it, to be honest. We're just picking up where he left off, only we don't have his ability to keep us going…" He brings one hand up, pinching the bridge of his nose, eyes closing, "…either he didn't think that far ahead, or didn't think we'd be willing to get it moving. Or it's waiting in some post office to be mailed to us at a later date. Fuck if I know. Hell, he could even still be alive."

Elisabeth rubs the side of her forehead. It doesn't matter that she doesn't know exactly where she was shot, it's that spot that when she's upset or thoughtful that she worries at with her fingertips. "The fact that no bodies were recovered leads me to think at least one of them lives," she admits softly. Either one of them survived and hauled the other off so his brain couldn't be dissected, or both of them were taken by Homeland or the Company or something. Too many of us walked away from that on both sides for us to discount that." She shakes her head and says quietly, "Normally, I'd suggest you take this entire idea to Cat, let her think through all the possible ramifications and lay them out. But she's got such damn tunnel vision these days, I can't … get a handle on exactly how she'll react." She frowns.

"They'd never go for it," Cardinal points out, "It's not their sort of thing, and besides— didn't we just talk about them focusing on the non violent sort've activism? If we told Cat, or Dean, they'd think it was their responsibility to stop me. You know that."

Elisabeth nods slightly. "Yeah…. I know. Unfortunately, we're all flying blind anyway." She sighs. "Shit. Just… shit." Shaking her head, she looks at him. "And … you've actually gotten the Teo analog in on this? Or this strictly something you're attempting from street level? Cuz… I think we're going to need some seriously heavy hitters." And then she grins faintly. "And well…. just so happens that I met a fuckin' genius with a gun recently… never misses. Blew Azrael's head off. Why not try the easy way first?"

"You're the only person I've told so far," admits Cardinal with a slow shake of his head, "I might— try and talk to Laudani, I don't know if he'll go for it, or approve at all. He didn't care for Ray's plans." He rubs a hand over his face, eyes closing, "A gun-wielding genius, huh? Who?"

There's a shake of her head. "I don't know her real name. The only thing I know about her is that Mortimer Jack sent her to Coren when Cassidy was being held. Christ, Richard…. she quadruple-tapped him in the back of the head before I could take a full breath. With a one-inch spread."

"Mortimer?" Cardinal's brows leap for his browline, "That crazy fucker? You really think anyone he sent would be… reliable?"

Elisabeth offers a shrug at that and says, "She didn't seem insane to me. She just has an unhealthy fascination for guns. I don't know if she's a shooter from way back or if it's just that she's that fucking good at hitting what she aims for because of an ability. Coren said she can't miss."

Cardinal purses his lips for a moment, "I'll think about it. And I'll ask Mortimer about her… he owes me at much, at least."

Elisabeth takes a long time, getting up off the chair she was sitting in to walk around the room a bit, looking at the paintings. "Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories." Her words are soft, her tone thoughtful. "I find it … frightening that so many of the words of those who founded this country still ring so true in this fight. In that regard… Cat's right. We've been at war for a long time." She looks at him. "Will assassination really be the final answer? Is Mitchell's crime so heinous that we can live with ourselves for visiting a death sentence on him?" she asks softly.

"On the ideological scale, Liz…" A push off the table, and Cardinal walks over towards her, reaching over to slide a hand up and over her shoulder as he looks up at the paintings as well, lips pursing in a tight line, "…he's standing beside people like Emile Danko. This is a war, and it's a war for the survival of our whole damn species."

Elisabeth looks at him and asks, "We have enough solid evidence of that to really convince you… and to convince me? That he really is that sympathetic to Humanis First's agenda? It doens't require court-level evidence, but… I want to know we're making the right choice here. That is a bi step."

"Ask Cat," Cardinal suggests, glancing over, "Don't tell her why, but— just ask her for Mitchell's record, see what he's voted on, what evidence they have. Hell, I'm a little curious myself."

Elisabeth looks at him thoughtfully, her hand coming up to twine into his where it rests on her shoulder. "I'll do that. It's all public record." She leans over and kisses his cheek. "And that response right there — it was the right one," she tells him with a faint smile. "You're not all gung-ho just because it's your idea. And it's a fuckin' doozy and a half, babe."

Cardinal's fingers curl with hers in a warm clasp, his head shaking ever so slightly. "I'm not Edward," he says quietly, eyes closing, "I can actually be wrong. We just need something— big. And, yeah, this is big. Edward told me that the future has inertia. Small things alone won't usually completely change it."

"Yeah, well…. asshole doesn't have to be right all the time, either," Liz grins faintly. "It's all well and good to know what's wrong, it's the how to fix it part that's harder." She rests her forehead against his jaw. "Let's make sure of the target before we serve a death sentence. And hope that history doesn't eviscerate us for it." She smiles, turning her head just a bit to study the paintings once more while they stand there. "C'mon, you… let's get you out of here so Alec can work. He's paranoid about doing it with anyone in the place."

A turn of his head brushes a kiss to her temple, and Cardinal murmurs, "I told you there'd be hard decisions, Liz. We aren't getting out of this without blood on our hands." A pull back, then, and he exhales a chuckle, "Alright, alright. Let's leave him some privacy. If he sets bombs or something, I blame you."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License