Liz and Card's (Impending) Bogus Journey


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Scene Title Liz and Card's (Impending) Bogus Journey
Synopsis Elisabeth and Cardinal tell Niki about their intended forays into the past, and the possible consequences to come, and Cardinal gives Niki an assignment.
Date September 21, 2010

Redbird Security - Basement

At the bottom of the stairs there's a sturdy metal-reinforced door, locked not with an electronic mechanism but with an old-fashioned mechanical combination lock. A bright yellow biohazard sign is hung up on the door.

Once through the door, the basement is mostly open space interspersed with support columns of grey brick. A thick layer of grey latex paint covers the walls and floor, the ceiling overhead tiled with squares of sound-suppressing foam. A few filing cabinets are pushed up against the near wall, and a single computer desk, the box unconnected to anything except for power, sits between some of those cabinets. The rest of the front part of the room is an area with folding chairs around a table and a pull-down screen across from a podium with a projector sitting on top of it, evidently for meetings. Deeper in the room, two dozen free-standing posts with sand-filled bases are scattered about, with strings and lines of yarn of all manner of colours connecting them. Post-it notes and photographs have been attached here and there with little pieces of tape. The far wall, behind the string map, bears the legend in stark white block letters upon the grey that stretches across most of the wall and from floor to ceiling: 'FIGHT THE FUTURE'.

The right third of the room has been divided from the rest by a wall of bulletproof glass and metal framing, accessed by a simple glass door near the main entrance of the basement. Inside, three locked gun cabinets sit against the wall, and the rest of that section of the room has been turned into two shooting lanes. Cheap pulley assemblies on the ceiling attached to electric motors hold target posters.

Target practice seems to be the activity of the day for Niki Sanders, though of a different sort than the basement was initially set up for. A large frame of corkboard has been hung on an empty space of wall, away from the computer and the precious web of string. A photo of Daniel Linderman has been tacked up with a series of rings in varying colours superimposed over his face.

Niki is throwing darts. Rather than the typical scoring system, however, either of Linderman's bright blue eyes are considered bullseyes for the sake of points. Though there's enough holes punched through the printed photo that it's clear she's been fairly indiscriminate about where she actually throws, so long as it's somewhere on his smiling face.

"You know, you could just use that in the firing range…" A wry comment from Richard Cardinal as he pushes the door to the upper levels open, gloved fingers brushing past its edge before he releases it to walk along inside, a small stack of file folders tucked beneath one arm. "…guess this way saves on bullets, though. Just try not to throw the darts through the corkboard and into the wall, eh?"

The woman descending the stairs just behind him laughs softly. "Better be careful — she'll put those darts in your ass," Elisabeth tells Cardinal mildly. She's wearing black cargo pants, her combat boots, and a black T-shirt. She's clearly just come from the base, and there's a scrape down one side of her face as if something went slightly sideways on whatever it was today. "Sup, Niki?" At least, she's assuming it's Niki for the moment. She can't see the tat.

"I might need the bullets later," Niki agrees, lining up her next throw. The dart sails a perfect arc through the air and embeds itself in Linderman's nose. The firing range would be more Jessica's style, more than likely. And the lack of any sign of her tattoo peeking from around her red tank top confirms Liz's suspicion that it isn't the more loose cannon of the personalities out to play at the moment. Niki's just blowing off steam.

"Hey, Liz." Niki throws the remaining darts one after the other at the board, not really caring when they sort of miss their marks, and turns to face the two recent entrants. "What happened to you?" She gestures to the side of her own face to indicate where the scrape is on Elisabeth's.

The folders are dropped down onto the table, and Cardinal's weight drops into one of the chairs with a thump-clank of impact, his legs stretching out beneath the table. "Good question," he admits, slanting a look back over towards Elisabeth with a brow raising slightly, "Fall down during training or something, babe?"

"Ffft," Elisabeth retorts. "No," she says, absently reaching up to brush the scrape with the back of her hand. "Some jackass thought it'd be fun to come at us with a two-by-four. When he hit the door jamb, the fucking thing was rotten and exploded all over everything." There's a shrug. "Jack decked him in the face," she says, referring to the cop she went through the door with, "but … eh." There's a shrug and a grin. "I love my work." She jerks her chin toward Cardinal, "I came by to fill him in on the fact that somewhere I may vanish with no warning. Glad you're here too." Blue eyes pivot to Cardinal. "Apparently I'm on the agenda for a time hop."

"On the agenda?" Niki's gaze is touched with incredulity, exchanging a glance with Cardinal as if to ask she can't be serious, right? "Short of getting stuck in a prison break gone awry, people usually get a choice in the matter," she reasons. At least, she hopes that people generally get a choice in whether or not they get thrown through time. Because that's not the coolest thing ever, no matter what Bill and Ted try and tell you.

"This would be why I tell you to wear your goddamn helmet, woman." The comment's wryly spoken as Cardinal regards Liz, one eyebrow lifting up a little before he turns back to the folders before him, flipping one open and smoothing his fingers over the papers, "You too? What's Nakamura want you to do, anyway…? And, fuck, can't we just find whoever the other time traveller is and shoot him in the face? Wouldn't that just be easier?"

Elisabeth merely wrinkles her nose at her lover. "I was wearing a goddamn helmet. Or at least, a helmet, not the billion-dollar one. The goddamn two-by-four threw shards up into the face shield of the riot gear. That's why there are only scratches," she retorts. "And Kershner has my new helmet on order."

Glancing at Niki, Liz laughs. "Well, I have a choice…. but Jaiden's a target because he went into the past to save my life. I can't not return the favor." She shrugs slightly. "So I gather I'll be hearing from Nakamura shortly." There's a look between them. "There's more than one. I gather the one that went after me was a John Doe DOA during the stadium fire."

"What the hell?" Niki's arms come out to either side of her, her palms up in the universal gesture for the question she just asked. "Am I the only one in this outfit that hasn't gotten asked to go time skipping?" Her brows furrow, and she actually looks annoyed. "More than one what? What in the hell is going on?"

"Apparently…" Apparently, Cardinal isn't going to get to go over these files anytime soon. The cover's flipped back shut, and he leans back in the chair, forelegs tilting up and off the floor, "…there's some guy that's sending people into the past to change the present by killing other people. So Nakamura's sending his own guys after them. I guess someone saw 'the Terminator' too many times."

Liz perches her butt against the table Cardinal's trying to use — cuz yeah, he's so not going to get to read those files right now — and grins at Niki. "Feeling left out? Didn't you already get thrown into the future — the one that's now dead?" she reminds her friend. Though Niki herself wasn't the dominant personality for most of that, to be fair. There's a flash of something across her face that is too quickly gone to really categorize. "Maybe you've done your quota already."

"I'm not jealous," Niki insists with a faint bit of a smirk. "Just… surprised. I mean, first Jaiden, and now the both of you? And this is the first I'm really hearing about it. That's all." She holds her hands up in a quick gesture of surrender, flitting her glances between Cardinal and Elisabeth. "Your business is your business. I'm just reacting accordingly."

Though her eyes narrow just a little bit at that look Liz had in her eyes for a moment. "What was that?" Niki asks with something like accusation in her tone, but with a far softer edge. "That look. You were thinking about something."

"No, I need to tell you about what Nakamura wants me to do…" Cardinal's hand dips into his jacket, pulling out a wrinkled piece of paper and smoothing it out, revealing the 'family photo' of the Zimmerman family, Barbara included. Dark eyes lift back to Niki, "…he wants me and Niklaus to go back and protect the Zimmermans."

There's a brief shake of her head and Elisabeth says quietly, "Nothing." At least nothing she'll say right this moment. "I just occasionally wonder if we should have left well enough alone. Don't mind me. Chicken Little moments are my forte, didn't you know?" She turns her attention to Cardinal's picture and raises her brows. "Has anyone found Barbara that we know of, by the way? Obviously, we have Tracy and Niki's whereabouts settled. And now Niklaus's…." Her eyes go back to Niki for the reaction to protection of the Zimmermans.

"The sky is falling, the sky is falling. We must tell the president," Niki sing-songs flatly. She only recited those lines to Micah a million times as a child. She's thankfully saved the moment of angst for the loss of her son, by Cardinal's presentation of a photo of another branch of her family tree entirely. She reaches out for it, "May I?"

She knows where Barbara is, and how to come in contact with her, but… Her misguided familial instincts make her want to keep that a secret, even from her trusted friends. She feels a pang of guilt in her gut. "What would you even do if you found her?" Niki asks.

"Sure." The photocopy of a photograph is handed over, the hand-written instructions to take Niklaus and meet with Hiro on the 22nd scrawled beneath it across the bottom. Cardinal leans back, his hed shaking slightly at the question, "I've met her. She was at the… at the funeral. She's with the Ferry. I gave her my card, but she hasn't called me."

"The only thing I was ever looking for her for was you," Elisabeth tells her friend honestly. "So… if you guys have already located her and made sure she's safe, that's all I really wondered." Elisabeth frowns at that instruction, and then says quietly, "I also have a text that's been sent to me regarding a meeting on the 27th. I don't know what that's about, but it sounds important."

Niki picks the photocopied photograph up off the desk and stares intently at it. Is this a life she could have had? With a father who didn't beat her big sister to death, and cause her to break in two to cope with everything that came later?

The cobwebs are shaken away and Niki hands the photo back. "Take care of him, Richard." Her voice is soft, and she looks vulnerable. The dangers of travelling back in time are not lost on her. Though perhaps they don't present the same dangers to them that travelling forward did to her. "You two both take care of yourselves. If you screw this up and get yourselves killed in the seventies or some bullshit like that? I will find Nakamura and send Jessica back after the both of you."

"Yeah. That… that's the thing." Cardinal's gaze drops away, his gloved hand reaching over to rest on the folder again to pull it in closer to himself. For once, his voice isn't confident, or sarcastic, but unsure. "Samson Grey's convinced that… he killed me in nineteen seventy seven. That was five years before I was even born. If I let him take me back— but it's already happened, right?" His eyes close. "Shit."

Once again, he says those words aloud. And Elisabeth's jaw clenches. People wonder why time travel gives her migraines. This is why. "Stop it," she says tightly. "Nothing is set. Not even that. We don't even know for certain that it was you he killed. For all you know, it might have been your fucking twin that we know nothing about." Yeah, yeah, it's a long shot but…. that inaudible hum ruffles arm hair in the room as her anxiety spikes into the stratosphere once more. Plugging your fingers in your ears and ignoring it doesn't change that somehow, this has already happened. "Didn't you tell me that he told you that you looked different?"

"That's fucked up," Niki says in the same flat tone Jessica delivered the line in the frozen hell that became of the basement levels of the Staten Island Hospital. Different thresholds. She actually nods in agreement to Elisabeth. If anyone knows what it's like to have twins they don't know about, it's Niki Sanders. "Maybe it's someone who only looks like you. Samson Gray. Fuck. I wouldn't believe a word he says."

"I know… I know." Cardinal's gloved fingertips curl against the edge of the folder, and he flips it open, reaching into the little pocket in the front of the folder to pull out a key. He turns it over, then slaps it to the table, sliding it towards Liz, "You tracked down a safety deposit box once before. I found this in Samson's stuff after he ran away. I was going to ask Gabriel if he knew about it — but I haven't been able to find him."

"If I do run into him, at least I know — well — I know what he said happened. I can try to make sure it doesn't happen that way," he says with false confidence, freed hand coming up to rub against the side of his head, "Liz. Ow."

Elisabeth turns on the desk to look at the key he's sliding across to her, curiosity clear in her face. "Sure, I can try to locate it. Do you have anything to go on with it?" Her blue eyes shift upward to his face when her name is said and it takes her a moment to realize. "Sorry," she grimaces, struggling to dampen down the subtle hum — and maybe her anxiety with it.

Niki brings either hand up to the sides of her neck, rubbing gently as that hum subsides. "G.I. Joe would say that knowing his half the battle," she offers to try and lighten the mood somewhat. Trust her to break out the little boy role models.

Cardinal shakes his head to the question. "Absotively nothing. It was tossed into a bag he was carrying around. When he realized he didn't have any abilities that could hurt me right now, he took off like a bat out of hell - left it behind." His hand drops back down to the table's edge, and he smirks over to Niki, "Yo, Joe?"

There's a bark of laughter at Cardinal. "Oh God… you got to watch GI Joe as a kid?" Elisabeth snickers. That's funny. Nuns and soldiers. Gotta love it. She shakes her head and chuckles. "All right. Let me do a little bit of digging about and see if I can come up with anything. Meantime, I better get back to the base. I'll be at the apartment tonight, though, so whenever you're done with whatever…" She trails off and smiles. He's going to the past tomorrow or something — she's spending the night before he leaves at home, to hell with what Kershner might say. She jerks her chin toward Niki and grins. "Next time you wanna throw darts, lemme know. We'll hit the pub," she says.

Niki actually starts laughing as Cardinal tosses out his punchline. "I should have seen that coming," she admits. She offers a nod and a wave to Elisabeth as she departs, waiting for the heavy door to shut before she turns back to the boss.

"I don't think it's going to happen. There's just too many variables. Nakamura wouldn't send you if he thought there was a risk like that." Maybe she isn't as sure as she claims, but Niki sure sounds the part.

"You're assuming that Nakamura doesn't want to get rid of me," Cardinal points out as he leans back in his chair, drawing in a slow breath and exhaling it, his head falling back to look up towards the ceiling, "Something that Edward sent me once… said that there's more than one Hiro Nakamura. Hell. Maybe he's fighting himself."

"I'm pretty sure Nakamura could just stab you with a sword if he wanted to be rid of you," Niki reasons. She shrugs and takes up Elisabeth's vacant perch. "I don't buy it. The future, even when it takes place in the past, isn't written in stone. Don't fall into a self-fulfilling prophecy."

"I'm not. I'm just… trying to figure out how to fulfill it without it happening," says Cardinal, gaze trailing over the soundproofing tiles as if counting them, "If that makes any sense. I think I know who I can contact for help if I need it. Maybe… I don't know. I guess I'll find out."

His chin drops down, regarding her, "So what're you up to lately?"

"The usual," Niki responds easily. "Keeping my head down. Making as much money legally as I dare. Registration's making that a little tricky." Grey-blue eyes roll skyward. "Do you know I'm actually more worried about getting picked up for my former affiliations with the Company than that whole stint at Moab thing?"

"Then I've got a job for you." Cardinal quirks a faint smile, "It's part of the plan to take down Daniel, so I know you'll appreciate it. I was going to work on it myself, but with so much going on…" Unspoken goes the possibility of his own death, five years previous. "…you'll need to contact a few other people, it's not a one person job. There's three law offices that need to be accessed — one of them's the law office that handled Linderman's will and testament. We need to get our hands on it."

"How quietly does this need to be done?" Niki's lips twist into a thoughtful frown. She and Jessica definite share that shrewd mind. "That makes a big difference in how I approach it, and who I approach about it."

"Quietly," Cardinal says with a slow shake of his head, "As quietly as possible. If he gets wind of what we're doing, he'll just pen a new will, invalidating the original one…" He slides the folder on top to one side, opening the other, "…I have some suggestions, actually, although I'll leave it up to you. Two… affiliated contractors who both have something personal against Danny-boy."

Two pages are drawn out, and he slides them over "Julien Dumont, and Wireless." They're very, very sparse dossiers. She's already familiar with Hana, of course. Julien's a new face - there's no photograph, and his power is listed as 'Duplication'. There's a note that the 'root Dumont' is in Institute custody.

Niki scrutinises the dossiers and shakes her head at Julien Dumont's, sliding it back toward Cardinal. "I'm not touching that one with a ten foot pole if the root is in Institute custody. If they share information in any way? We're fucked nine ways to Sunday. No thank you." She lifts her chin and taps Wireless' file, though. "I can work with her. Maybe.

"What about Ling?"

"They don't," admits Cardinal, sliding the one-page dossier back into the folder, "But like I said, I'm leaving it up to you — I imagine Sarisa has him busy enough as it is right now anyway, however many clones are still loose and free anyway. I think Jessica'd get along with Hana. They're similar in a lot of ways…"

The last question has him thoughtful, "Ling could be useful. She's worked for Linderman in the past, but I get the impression that he left her out to dry after she killed Liu Ye. I know she's itching for work outside of Messiah's business, though, and the offer of a place in the new underworld regime could reel her in."

"I'll think about it." Dumont, that is. At the mention that Jessica might get along with Wireless, Niki lets out a huff of laughter. "Maybe." There's a lot of maybe when it comes to Hana for Niki. "If Ling's ability operates any like yours, she should be a good asset to handle things quietly." She nods her head then tips it to either side slowly. "I'll give it some thought. Talk it over with Jessica and see what she thinks. We'll talk about it when you get back." Those last four words emphasised just a bit. You are coming back.

"Alright." Cardinal pulls out a list of three addresses, pushing it over with a fingertip, "This is the three law offices."

The list is short and sweet - one in New York, one in Rhode Island, and one in North Carolina. The one that probably stands out the most is 'Petrelli Law Offices, P.C.'.

A slow grin spreads across Niki's face as she reads over the list. She taps her red-painted nail beneath the New York location. Dibs. "Petrelli. I should have guessed. Yeah, I think I can handle this one. May I hold onto this for now?"

"It's your assignment," comes the quietly chuckled response, Richard's hand pushing the entire folder over to her, "We need to find out where the will is, and lay our hands on it without him realizing it… long enough to edit it and return it where it came from."

"You got it, boss." Niki brings two fingers up to her forehead in a lazy mock salute. "I gotta get going. I have a shift tonight." She gives a little shrug. It's a living. "Take care of yourself and Niklaus, okay? I only just got him in my life. I'm gonna be pissed if you get killed and leave him behind."

"If we both come home alive, do I get a lap dance?" Yeah, pushing it there a little, Cardinal. Then again, from the grin that curves his lips, he probably knows that. He leans back in his chair, lifting a hand, "I'll do my best."

Niki chuckles quietly, gathering up her intel. "You'll have to talk to Liz about that one. You come down to the Red Room with enough cash, though, and maybe you can get away with calling it a business expense." It's hard to tell if she's flirting with him or not." She stands up from the desk and offers one hand up in a wave. "See you when you get back. Tell Nik' I wish him luck, too."

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