In The Shadow Of Cocytus


cardinal3_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title In The Shadow Of Cocytus
Synopsis On his way to meet up with Kaylee, Peter is derailed by a ghost. He never makes it to Grand Central.
Date May 17, 2010

Ruined Tunnel Network

In the Divine Comedy, the ninth circle of hell is known as Cocytus, a frozen hell for traitors. The allusion to this piece of classical literature is one lost on most people who dwell beneath the streets of New York City, delving deep into centuries old and labyrinthine tunnels of railway track, concrete and brick while the city above crackles with ice and frost that strangles away all life and light.

It is both by necessity and desire that one lone man wanders the tracks leading away from Midtown's scarred heart, perhaps by design than he chooses this stretch of abandoned subway track to follow towards the Ferrymen's subterranean distribution hub, for in the shadows of Cocytus, there are more than just traitors.

Peter Petrelli's boots crunch at the gravel underfoot that lines the path between the tracks, and the specialized arctic survival gear he is wearing has seen better days. Matte black, trimmed with dark fur around the drawn hood and patched where bullets tore through it on the Ross ice shelf, he looks halfway between the ghost of Kazimir Volken and his own self.

Dark, tired circles shadow his brown eyes, a beard growing in on his face implies that he hasn't shaved in at least two weeks, and the slow pace he takes exemplifies the fatigue he seems to be under. But down here beneath the dying city, where they will be finding the frozen corpses of the dead for months to come if the storm ever ends, there is more than shadows, more than ice, more than traitors.

"This isn't your usual sort of place, Petrelli…" Petrelli… A whisper that echoes through the darkened tunnel, tattered fragments of a Hiroshima shadow peeling along the wall in a fluttering shroud, "…these are the sort of tunnels that terrorists and criminals use…" I thought you were past that…
There may be more that that in the tunnels bored beneath the city like maggot-trails riddling the corpse of New York City, but in this time, in this place, that's what matters… a shadow, a traitor, and the ice around them. Which is which, however, may well depend on one's particular point of view.

Richard Cardinal drifts beside Peter as he walks, following him just like all the other ghosts that follow the man wherever he goes.

No matter how many times the ghost of Richard Cardinal stalks Peter, he will never become accustomed to the sudden sensation of both helplessness and vulnerability that suddenly not being as alone as you thought you may have been makes manifest. Tensing up and coming to a stop, Peter looks up and all around himself, to the ceiling of the dark tunnel, to the walls, his flashlight whipping around to try and spot the source of the light, but never finding it.

"Richard," comes out hissed, a whisper of words that is still given echo in the tomb-like tunnel. Gloved fingers wind around the flashlight he holds, brows furrow and one backwards step crunches gravel underfoot. Normally peter can at least tell which way to look by addressing the source of the voice, in this tunnel the echo is too much to make that pinpoint.

"I'm not here for my health…" is the defensive answer to Cardinal's assertion about terrorists and criminals hiding down below the streets. "Where are you?" That much is asked more hesitantly, the way Ebenezer Scrooge might have addressed the poltergeists on his first night of haunting.

"Does it matter?" Does it… does it…? The echoing whisper of Cardinal's drifting voice seems to come from everywhere and nowhere down here in the enclosed tunnels, the ice that's formed on the walls in places where the pipes have brought chill down below only resonating the sounds further, "It's not as if I'm about to reach out and touch you. Maybe I'm not even here at all." A figment…

There's silence for seven heartbeats, before he asks, "So what brings you down here, Peter? I thought you were turning your back on all of this…" All of this…

"I did." Peter admits, bitterly, "but with the weather the way it is right now, Kaylee came down here for shelter." Peter shines his light down the tunnel, then just averts it to his feet, making the glow a bit more ambient and less piercing to the shadowmorph. "I take it you found me because you heard about what happened?" It's not the truth, surprisingly, that Peter's altercation with Sasha Kozlow and the embarrassing piss-bucket coup de grace is what connected two different types of ghosts today; more serendipity, if it can be called that.

There's a furrow of Peter's brows, his face given a somewhat cadaverous shadowing with the upwards shine of reflected flashlight illumination. "For what it's worth, Richard, I'm sorry for the things I said to you back at my apartment that day… I've— been under a lot of stress, and I just snapped. I don't… really understand what came over me."

"Don't flatter yourself, Peter, if I was looking for you, I would've gone to your home… believe it or not, news hasn't exactly spread very quickly. This is just a coincidence, whatever makes you think I'd be looking for you. No, I spend most of my time here in Midtown…" A cemetary for a ghost… Cardinal's ambient voice is silent for a few moments, a quiet crack of ice echoing in the distance, a staccato drip from a broken water line that isn't quite cold enough to freeze somewhere. Echoes drift a long way down here, especially right now.

"Words are cheap, Petrelli. Then and now. It was you telling everyone and their mother that I was alive that really pisses me off… especially when you don't even know where the lines are these days. Everything changed after Apollo. But you had your eyes closed…" Closed…

Peter's shoulders square a little, head tilts to the side and brows furrow as he moves his flashlight aside a little, cutting down on the glare up into his eyes. "Kershner deserved to know you were alive, she probably could've done something for you too if you hadn't been so— " Peter's words are caught on his tongue, brown eyes narrowed and chin tilting up as he turns, looking over his shoulder, still not sure where in the dark to be addressing Cardinal.

"You didn't hear did you?" There's a hesitance before Peter speaks again, that assertion lingering in the air for a moment. "Kozlow, the Russian healer. Abigail made me take his ability, in order to heal Francois after Carlisle went after him…" Peter turns again, staring down the corridor that he'd come from, then up to the ceiling the way some people do when addressing a higher power. "It works," he offers in a suggestive tone, "the ability. I don't know what happened to you, Cardinal… but if there's anything left of you but the shadow burned into Antarctica by an atomic flash…"

The implication goes unsaid, it needn't be.

"I didn't know what side she was on, Peter… you haven't been paying attention. The government itself is factionalizing… it's a house of bloody cards waiting for someone to turn a fan on it, at this point…" Ostrich in the sand… A whispered sigh of strained frustration in the darkness, "You owed me my privacy, at the least, after what I did…"

Then he trails off for a moment, "…Kozlow? Doesn't his ability… have side effects?" An uncertain hedging around the subject. Cardinal was, after all, refused this exact favor from Peter the last time they spoke.

"She would've found out eventually," Peter asserts, "someone like her, with a background in intelligence? She would've found out and she would've been furious if I hadn't expressed it to her like I did. I was looking out for you, Richard. You can't ever have enough allies, even if you don't trust them all. Nothing— nothing stays secret forever." Then, with a furrow of his brow and a more light-herated tone he adds, "Also maybe… it— was a little bit payment for what you said about me in front of your people at the library. Tit for tat."

Reaching up with his free gloved hand to pull down his hood, Peter's eyes narrow as he scans the dark, still trying to find that ragged silhouette on the wall. "Dying has side-effects too, Richard. It— it works different for me, and I don't know why. I left a scar on Francois, like a burn, on his leg where I healed him. All his injuries, or— most of them— they came to me." Were he not wearing more layers than an onion he'd offer to show the ones on his wrists to Cardinal, but the motion of turning his arms over is made none the less.

"Elisabeth deserves better than to have a dead lover, and you— " Peter breathes in deeply and exhales a huffed sigh, "you don't deserve the same fate Kazimir had… living like that." It's not quite the same, but the analogy has some similarities. "Is there even anything left of you to heal?"

"There is, although I don't know if Kozlow's ability is… strong enough…" The edge of the light flickers, as tattered wisps of darkness crawl along it, Cardinal lurking closer without fully moving into that circle of illumination, "…I'm in very bad shape, Peter…" Burned… dismembered… dead…

"Do you really have any other options?" Peter swivels again, still not quite able to discern where that voice is coming from, but knowing its drawing nearer. "Worst case scenario, you die. Do— " Peter considers his tone, softening it a little, "do you really want to live like this for the rest of your life, Richard? For God knows how long you'd actually be able to survive as nothing but a shadow? I don't know if you can age like that, how long you can hold yourself together, but… is that even really living?"

Averting his eyes from hwere he thinks Cardinal is, Peter stares down at his feet. "I can get Gillian to help…" is probably the last thing he wants to do, but Cardinal is right, Peter might not be abel to do this on his own. "I can head up to the Lighthouse, see— see if she can augment me, and we can get you back to yourself again. With her… with her I know I can do it, just… you've gotta help, and pull yourself together." Not nearly as metaphorical as it sounds.

"Years. Years, and years… at least a decade… I did, you know. In that timeline that Helena and her friends went to, I'm told. I was just like this… I don't know why. Maybe Isabelle knew… but Ray killed her…" The shadow's rambling. Stream of consciousness; fragmented, perhaps, from emotional turmoil. He may have kept himself together in the future, but with what happened in Antarctica… he's having trouble keeping things together.

Silence reigns for long moments, before Cardinal admits quietly, "I don't want to die, Peter. There's too many people depending on me…" We can rest when…

"I put put a lot of stock in what people said about that future." Peter bitterly notes, turning again, though not to find the source of the voice so much as to look away from where he thinks the voice is. "You don't sound like you're capable of looking out for anything, let alone yourself. You can hardly keep your voice together. Was there a Munin in that future? Did you do the same thing? I don't, honestly know much about that time, no one saw fit to tell me much except for things I never wanted to know."

Taking a step away from Cardinal, Peter lifts his gloved hand to his head, then turns to look back to the source of the shadowy voice. "I don't know what you think you're doing, Richard, what you're… gaining, by being this thing, but you asked me once for help and I turned it down. I'm… I feel like I'm being pulled in two different directions right now, like I'm just…" Peter strains out a sigh and rubs at his head again.

"I'm not going to offer again. I might not even have this ability for much longer, depending on what I need to do with it." There's a look from Peter and then around, wondering if the shadow's still present. "Nobody wants to die, Richard. But everybody does, not everyone gets to decide how. Or— you know— make that decision twice." In Cardinal's case.

"Alright. I'll— risk it. I just— we'll need Gillian, or another amplifier. I wish John was here. I miss him…" Tyler… The shadow sounds subdued; worried. Maybe afraid. "I'll want to tell Liz. So she doesn't just think I've— disappeared." Run away…

Nodding once, Peter remains solemnly silent, looking into the glow of his flashlight reflecting off of the metal tracks at his feet. "I'll go talk to Gillian, see— see if she's up to doing this." There's a look over to where he thinks Cardinal might be, but even still he's off some. "When you're ready, when you're sure about what you want to do, have Elisabeth call the Lighthouse, it still has electricity and working phone lines, and I figure Elisabeth has some communication connections with Frontline. You call her and let her know, and I'll make sure it gets to me."

Taking a step to the side, Peter looks up to the cracked ceiling overhead, then back to where he can hear Cardinal's voice the loudest, apart from the confusing echoes. "Does… does Gillian even know you're alive?" It's a quietly asked question, asked in parting, as if not sure how to bring up the subject with her otherwise.

"Of course she does…" A whispered, unsteady little chuckle from Cardinal, "…she is a librarian, after all."

"I'll get in touch with her soon," he promises, drifting along beside Peter, keeping just out of sight, "And… you're going to need to pick one of those directions you're being pulled in sooner or later, you know. What's coming… it could make what we've been through so far look like a vacation. And it's a lot closer to home than Apollo was…" Home…

Tensing up when Cardinal makes that asseriton, Peter's brows furrow, brown eyes scanning the corridor. A librarian, comes as mouthed words across Peter's lips, making his expression sour just a touch. "What do you mean?" is asked to the darkness as Peter takes a step forward. "What's coming?" His voice echoes off of the darkened subway tunnels, asking the question back at him.

"Cardinal, what's coming?" Peter asks again, and the distant drip of a broken water mane is his answer, the sound of his own breathing, the beat of his heart having hastened just a little in his chest.


Just shadows there now.

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