It All Comes Down To This


cardinal_icon.gif curtis_icon.gif harmony_icon.gif

Scene Title It All Comes Down to This
Synopsis Curtis reports to Cardinal to inform him of his newest position, and to explain what happened with his former life. Harmony plays the part of a telepathic fly on the wall, and Cardinal gets some pretty hard evidence, and a breakthrough he had been waiting for.
Date January 30, 2011

Redbird Security - Main Lobby

There's a sharp, professional feel to the main lobby of the building. The carpet is a deep maroon underfoot, the walls an off-white cream that doesn't glare too brightly beneath the recessed lighting in the ceiling. Half a dozen chairs upholstered in a sandy light brown sit against one wall beneath a painting, a print of a Thomas Brill that shows the ruins of Midtown covered in vines and greenery as seen from the rooftop of the Deveaux building. The receptionist's station takes up almost an entire wall on the right side of the lobby, guarding the hallway that leads back into the building's offices. Behind and above the desk, the logo for Redbird Security Solutions hangs on the wall in glossy black.

The central hall continues the same carpet and wall colors to a number of doors. There are four offices, a restroom done in shades of blue and pale sand tones, and a comfortable employee lounge with attached kitchenette. An open doorway in the main lobby reveals a flight of upward stairs, and there's a locked door at the end of the central hall that guards the basement steps.

Curtis was told to attend to Richard Cardinal, and attend to him he shall. He showed up in the waiting room to the man's office an hour before now, and he sat down in a chair to wait. He's dressed in a simple pair of black slacks, and a well made black knit sweater.

At the moment the man is reclining in the seat he's been in for the last hour, with a news paper open and one his lap, one leg crossed with the other at the knee. He's not wearing dress shoes, though those would go better with slacks. A pair of well taken care of black leather boots adorn his feet. A page is turned in the news amidst a rustle of paper as he waits for Card to show.

Of course, Richard Cardinal has been in his office for some time now. The oldest corporate tactic in the book is to make someone wait on you until they're uncomfortable and restless, and thus not at their sharpest by the time they're called in for the meeting.

He never intended to be a businessman, but he's learning the ropes as he goes along. It's surprisingly similar, he's finding, to being a criminal.

The phone on the receptionist's desk buzzes softly, and the blonde reaches over to pick up the reciever. "Yes, sir?" A pause. "Of course, Mister Cardinal. Right away." Hanging up, Jo rises up to her feet, offering a bright artificial smile to Curtis, "If you'll come with me?" Turning, she starts her way down the hallway.

It wasn't as easy of a night for Harmony as she stayed at Redbird for the night after their conversation the previous day. Back at her apartment, she had made herself a sweet spot to where she could sit on her couch in the corner of it and it was just the right amount of distance away from the surrounding apartments to keep her from picking up the thoughts of her neighbors. There are quite a few people that live here, so the evening was a little stressful on the temporary telepath. But she bucked it up and stuck around for the meeting in progress.

She could sense Curtis in the waiting room, from where she sat, and there was a part of her that wanted to go to him, and ask just what was going on, but it was Cardinal's time, so she would do it this way. Her questions could wait for later. She awaited behind a closed door for Curtis to be lead in, the girl sighing at playing the role she is playing. Playing the listening equipment.

Curtis lofts a brow upwards when the call comes in like that. Curious. He rises to his feet, not looking perturbed or irritated at all. Looking curious really. He folds his newspaper up carefully and neatly, and sets it down on the chair he was occupying for the next person to read. He then follows the receptionist down the hallway, his movements stiff, a definite military caste to the way he walks and holds himself.

As one of the office doors are reached, Jo raps her knuckles on it twice before pushing it open wide and stepping out of the way. "Go right in, Mister Autumn," she offers in that relentlessly cheery way of hers.

It's not a very elaborate office. There's a couch against one wall and a desk against the other, before which seats are set. Above the desk is a painting of a New York city street - that seems, oddly, to be missing something. The desk is clean and neat, papers shuffled into in- and out-boxes and a laptop turned to face outwards, the screen-saver showing the logo of Redbird Security Solutions on a field of black.

And, of course, Richard Cardinal is there. He's seated behind the desk, dressed in a pinstriped black suit, a fedora set off to the side of the desk. "Come in," he offers, his tone dry, "Have a seat. Mister Autumn. Or is it Williams? I'm confused. Enlighten me."

For this sort of thing, it is important that Harmony keep her head clear of her own thoughts. She needs to listen rather than allowing her own words to slip from her head and pour into anyone elses head. She can sense Curtis' mind move past her and into the office. Once he is taken to Richard, the door opens from the closet next to Jo's desk. The blond girl offers the receptionist an insecure smile and a look that reads 'well, here we go' as she steps over to Cardinal's office door and takes a seat where Curtis had been, as if she were waiting to be seen. That is when she focuses her power, listening in on the room behind her, pinpointing Curtis' mind and concentrating on his thoughts.

Curtis offers a pleasant smile to Richard as he steps into the man's office. He takes only two strides in before standing at parade rest, his hands clasped behind his back, his feet square with his shoulders, but relaxed, not tense. Stiff yes, but not tense. The question about his name earns a soft chuckle. His eyes flicker over the office slowly, studying it, taking in details and facts before settling back on Cardinal. "Both actually, or well, sort of."

A soft inhale, and following exhale proceed his words. "I was told to tell you that Ezekiel sent me." he starts with that, then glances to the chairs, then back. "I'd prefer to stand though if that's not too much of a problem. I was, and am both Ashley Williams, and Curtis Autumn Jr. Ashley Williams was a man who died. He was a real man, who lived a real life. He was paralyzed in a traffic accident if I recall correctly. His memories were transplanted into my mind as part of a CIA operation to infiltrate MOAB and obtain intel on the terrorists imprisoned there. The project went wrong, and they failed to recover me. Which resulted in the Ashley Williams you knew of. I was indeed at that time, a different man entirely. My memories of being myself were gone, buried, not sure, but I had no access to them, for all I knew I was Ashley Williams." He offers a very slight smile. "I've been sent to protect you in any way I can."

It's a rather ludicrous story, of course. If Cardinal didn't know that insane things like that actually happen in the world, he'd be laughing the other man out of the room right now. The man's elbows rest on the arms of the chair, his fingertips tapping against one another as he regards the man opposite him with a dubious expression upon his face.

"I see," he says quietly, "And you say that Ezekiel, of all people, sent you. To protect me. You'll forgive me if I'm rather doubtful, given that Ashley Williams was a complete fucking psychopath."

Curtis knows very well how ludicrous a story it is. It's insane really. But then, that's what reality has become based on, insanities. None of his thoughts would betray him as lying to Harmony, the man is telling the truth, though his mind stays well disciplined, only on the task at hand. He continues to stand at parade rest, his eyes on Richard.

"Ezekiel yes. I would imagine he was the one behind the project that saw me become another person entirely. Though I can't be sure. He certainly implied that it was him, or at least, his project. Ashley Williams the man was not. I however was. The issue with it was very simple. A man with military honed technique and training. Burned into my mind from years of service, stuck into a situation like I was, with a new life, and a new purpose. It turned me into… frankly a monster. And a very very dangerous one. But in the end Mister Cardinal… this stuff is a bit out there to make up. And, he assured me the name Ezekiel would convince you of the validity of it."

"Ezekiel spent the time between 'seventy-seven and last year dead, so I doubt it was him. It could've been Simon, I suppose," Cardinal debates aloud, his lips pursing in a frown, "Impossible to say. And not that important anyway…" A dismissive brush of one hand through the air, and then it drops back to the other, "…anyway. Do you really expect me to believe that everything after Moab was… a coincidence? You joining Messiah? Do you even know who was pulling Carmichael's strings, Autumn?"

Well, she could tell that he wasn't telling a falsehood. That the story he was relaying was the truth, which is what they had been wondering about really. So.. he had become this person that Cardinal had told her about. Harmony had many more questions arise within her, from the answers that Curtis was giving. For a second, she almost calls out to him mentally despite herself, but maintains the focus and control to keep herself firmly within her seat, and quiet.

Curtis arches a brow very slowly upwards. "Interesting to know. I dealt primarily with Mr. Broome during my time. And only sat down to talk with Ezekiel towards the end of my release after being given back my memories." He goes quiet then, his eyes not the least bit suspicious. "After Moab? Yes and no. They attempted to retrieve me on multiple occasions. They failed. When I was recruited into Adam's group, they saw reason to leave me there. When that ended, they attempted to retrieve me again. Once more they failed. I was recruited into Messiah, and it was deemed that to be a good place for me. I was a puppet, but I've been that for most of my life. My grandfather saw to that when he raised me to be a military boy and to devote my life to the armed forces and to my country. I'm simply continuing the mission I was set upon from the beginning. I'm a puppet, and I have no issues with that. I was told to protect you, and that is what I intend to do."

"You were sent in to Moab, to spy on them, unwilling as it may've been. Then you joined Monroe's little band of miscreants, to spy on them without knowing it…" Cardinal leans forward, hands clasping on the desk's edge, his head cocking a little to one side and a brow lifting slightly, "…and then you joined Messiah, a terrorist organization taking its orders from the fucking government in order to create anti-Evolved sentiment, to assist them in their plans… and to spy on them. Now you come here, and you expect me to accept you with open arms? Knowing what you've been used for in the past, knowing what blood's on your hands, knowing that you've been sent by the Institute?"

He's actually.. telling the truth, Richard. Harmony puts a thought into Cardinal's head from where she is. I am not picking up any falseness in what he had just told you. His mind isn't erratic and thinking randomly, he is pretty focused. It makes sense with him being a soldier and everything. Not to mention, if he had his memories altered, it could also be why his mind is pretty tunnel visioned.

Curtis nods his head slowly, once, twice, and a third time. He doesn't show surprise when it's mentioned that Charmichael worked for the government, a fact he apparently was already aware of. He just stands there, looking comfortable, and at ease, his hands clasped behind his back. When Cardinal finishes up Curtis tilts his head forwards. "Yes. If you didn't trust this Ezekiel then he wouldn't have given me his name to prove to you that he sent me. Obviously he wants to keep an eye on you as well as protect you, that should be pretty obvious. As it is I have no orders to report back to them on a regular basis or anything of that sort. I'm sure they'll be using me to spy, but I honestly am not sure just how they will do that." For Harmony's benefit that is all truth. Every word of it. "Charmichael was a success, as .. despicable as it was what happened. The populace is now under stricter government control, more heavily monitored, and there's been far less random chaos and destruction since November 8th. It doesn't excuse the senseless violence and slaughter that occured on that day, but it does give reason to it." Curtis pulls his hands from behind his back and looks down at them, turning them over. "There was blood on these hands long before I became Ashley Williams Mr. Cardinal. A few more gallons won't make any difference."

"It gives reason to it." The words are flatly spoken, as Cardinal regards the man across from him with a hard look through his ever-present shades. I figured he was. Telling the truth, that is. "You admit that Rupert Carmichael was working for the government, sowing terror and destruction, in order to bring the populace under stricter government control… that the government caused all that death, all that destruction, on November eighth… and you're okay with that. You think that it was just acceptable losses? All those people?"

I might be able to get a bit deeper, but his mind is pretty focused. I'll need to know what you want me to dig around for. It's… kinda like sorting through organized files that read like stereo instructions. It is all here, but unless I know what you need, I could be looking through here all day and not make sense of it.// Harmony makes a face, shaking her head as the telepath finds Curtis' head to be foreign ground.

Curtis stands there as Richard speaks, still perfectly at east, his eyes on the man himself as he listens ot him. "To my knowledge yes, Rupert Charmichael as a government agent working to organize as many Evolved terrorists as he could, to isolate and identify threats to the government and the people represented by those willing to take actions above and beyond the law to correct percieved wrongs. It was a brilliant tactic, and it worked remarkably well." His face hardens a little bit. "But the same damn things are said about Hitler. I didn't say I was okay with it, nor did I say it was acceptable losses. But I've seen alot of death, alot of destruction, and dealt my fare share of it Mr. Cardinal. And things could have gotten much worse than they did. Was it acceptable? No. It was not. No loss of life is acceptable. Was it within reason? That is for everyone to decide for themselves I think." Curtis' mind is very much organized. And there are two seperate lives inside of his mind. Ashley Williams, and Curtis Autumn. Completely seperated and organized. "He did say you wouldn't be happy about the idea of having a body guard, said you'd be rather resistant to it, and that more than likely you'd tlel me to go away, or dismiss me, or fire me." He cracks a small smile, a touch of amusement showing on his features.

He's a puppet. Like he said. I don't need to know what he knows, not any more. I just need him to keep talking. Cardinal's jaw tenses slightly at those words. "He killed thousands, and thousands of people, Curtis," he says quietly, "Drove others insane. If his broadcast hadn't been interrupted to the extent it was… it would've been armageddon in the streets. And you're still loyal to the people who did this? The people who tried to murder everyone in New York City, for the sake of political and ideological advantage over the citizenry? How can you justify that?"

Curtis shakes his head slowly. "I don't. I do my job, and I do what I'm told to do. And right now I've been told to protect you, so that is what I will do." The soldier's broad shoulders lift in a slow shrug, then settle back down. He looks like he's searching for further words before he just shrugs his shoulders again, then pauses and tilts hsi head to the side slightly, peering at the man, curiosity burning in his eyes for several seconds before an amused smile flickers across his lips and he goes back to standing at parade rest, no more words for the moment.

Curtis presses hsi lips lightly together at the mention of soldier's duty. "I'm well aware. But considering the number of laws our country breaks every single day to keep the freedoms of it's people intact? I can't say I'm in any place to question such things. Just because I don't like an order doesn't mean I don't follow it. Millions of lives could hang in the balance of a single decision being made, and a single order being carried out. Perhaps Charmichael's actions have given the government the time it needs without being under constant attack to implement a plan to ensure the safey of all of this country's people. I don't know. Neither do you. History will tell the tale of what Ruper Charmichael's actions resulted in. Just like they have countless others throughout history. Alexander the Great was a genocidal maniac. Wiped entire cultures off the face of the earth for defying him. And yes, history hails him as one of the greatest men of all time."

Curtis is keeping his mind very much on task, not letting it wander, but he's not lying to Cardinal, not once.

"I do. Actually. But that's neither here nor there…" Cardinal's hand brushes through the air, "Ezekiel knows too. The difference between he and I is that he won't do anything to stop it. Sometimes I think he's hoping I will in spite of what he's doing…" He brings that hand back to rub against the nape of his neck, chair creaking as he leans back, his eyes closing. "So did he tell you what you need to protect me from, or did he just send you here with… nothing but that?"

"I was simply told to deal with any threat to your person with lethal force and extreme prejudice. Those were really my only instructions thus far in regards to how I am to go about protecting you." His mind falters just a little bit, replaying a meeting with Simon Broome, and the future Cardinal, at a conference table, replaying through the conversation before a nod comes from him, confirming what he's just said. He arches a brow when Cardinal says he knows, but doesn't pry or inquire further, just leaves the eyebrow up, and stares levelly at the other man.

Cardinal regards the other man for a long moment. I can't trust him. He'll be watching everything I do, and report it. And he sounds like he's just as much a psychopath as before… just more controlled. Still, he could be… useful, if he follows orders. Or even if he doesn't. I don't know. I need to think about it… He brings up his hand, then, brushing it slightly through the air. "Dismissed. I'll think about what to do with you, Autumn."

Despite his seeming irritation, his mind is oddly, sharply, pleased, as if he'd recieved a gift he didn't expect.

Curtis tilts his head to the side slightly, a light chuckle leaving him. "I'll be in the waiting room." He says with a simple matter of fact tone. He straightens up, and turns on his heel, a sharp military precision to his actions, and walks to the door, pulling it open and then back down the hallway to the waiting room, where he'll take his seat again until Cardinal leaves the building, unless he's forced to leave first.

I had no idea he had been through all of that… It's rather frightening to be honest, but it still sounds like the Curtis I used to know. Most of him does. Believe it or not, I should really turn and run the other way after hearing all of that, but I think you know the relationship trouble and I have. Harmony stands up as their meeting seems to conclude and the door opens, looking over to where Curtis steps out into the waiting room, "Curtis.." she speaks out to him, the girl looking rather unsure of what to say next for a second, "So you're determined to follow me, then? No getting rid of you, huh?" She smirks finally, settling into her usual self.

As the door's closed, Cardinal leans forward with a sudden urgency, spinning the laptop on the table back around to face him - his fingers tracing over the touchpad to turn off the screensaver, revealing his own face looking back at him until he clicks something to make the image freeze.

A scroll bar's rolled to one side, and he clicks play. "To my knowledge, yes," Curtis's image states, "Rupert Carmichael was a government agent…" Stop is clicked, and he leans back in his chair. Laughter doesn't carry past the office's soundproofing, but if it would, it might send a chill down someone's spine. I've got you now, you son of a bitch. I've got you!

Curtis is sitting out in the waiting room when Harmoney comes out to him, once more looking through his newspaper. He lifts his head, and his eyes to settle them upon Harmony, a curious look in them. "Harmony. My my… quite a surprise." He hmmms appreciatively, then moves to stand up. "I'm not following you, though I'd have every reason to do so."

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