Moving Mountains


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Scene Title Moving Mountains
Synopsis John Doe brings a new friend to visit his 'employer'. Bargains are struck.
Date Jun 16, 2009

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

Midtown Manhattan is like a graveyard in disrepair. Each and every skyscraper towering high over the upheaved and broken streets is like a monolithic headstone to the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the flash of atomic fire and impotent rage that decimated this city's population and effectively put a bullet through the heart of its future.

Thin tendrils of acrid smoke rise up from manhole covers and sewer grates across blocks of Midtown, due to the fire raging beneath the streets, one that causes what little stable concrete is left to crack and buckle from the temperature. In spots, rippling waves of heat rise up off of the pavement, and cracks have rent themselves wide to form fissures where wafting clouds of toxic smoke escapes from the sewer systems. New York City has fallen far, and so often now since the bomb, the city has continued to fall down from the ladder of society, striking every jagged corner and broken rung on the way.

Of the demolished buildings in the irradiated ruins of Midtown, the New York Public Library is among the most statuesque of ruins. Much of the building clearly suffered the brunt of the atomic blast that demolished so many city blocks and has rather evidently suffered from fire damage caused by both the recent inferno and the fires of the day the bomb hit. Two corroded metal lions perch on the steps out front of the library, one molten in form and hardly recognizable.

Stopped on those very historic steps, the man now known as John Doe turns to regard the man behind him with a nervous expression. "So… you really don't think he's going to want to look for her? I mean— you think she's safer on the boat?" Safer than venturing down into an irradiated, smoldering ruin to see a madman from the future? Perhaps John didn't fully consider the length and width of his question.

"I think that she'll be as safe there as anywhere…" And probably safer the further from him— from them— that she gets, as far as Richard Cardinal's concerned. He's just not a good enough guy to send her away to ensure that safety. She is, after all, pretty handy with that shotgun, and easy on the eyes to boot. Besides, where would she go? Back to John Logan? That's no life worth living.

The quiet words are spoken from the criminal's dry and cracked lips as he looks up towards the stately edifice that's suffered such damage since the days that it loomed over the surrounding area with stately majesty. His 'good' hand brushes over the stump where his other used to be, fingers pressing against the gauze wrapped about it, stained with the slowly spreading brown of spilling life. Whatever thoughts stir behind his eyes are dismissed with a tight shake of his head, then, and he steps forward to the pitted and pockmarked stone of the stairs leading to the entrance.

"So… how many of you are left?" A curious question to ask, oddly phrased as well, his gaze slanting sidelong to John as he asks it.

"Uh, that's… hard to say." John turns his back on Cardinal, moving up the steps again with a steady pace. "I— kind've flaked out on Edward after he had me to my last job." There's a pause, in both John's words and his pace, "I mean— not that any of us were ever really, totally on?" He glances back over his shoulder. "I— I don't know. We never worked together, it— it's complicated. If we see anyone in here, I guess that'll be a leg up on what I already know?"

While John may not have noticed it, Cardinal and Bebe most certainly have. In the time since leaving Edward's side, John has grown as a person, grown away from the fumbling amnesiac and started to become more like the young man he was before his memory wipe. It's not to say that it's all coming back to him, but subconsciously, Tyler Case is still down there, raging against the silence of anonymity.

John pushes open the front doors that are already slightly ajar, walking into the dusty and darkened halls of the library. "Edward said this place used to be used by someone else, they vacated, but some of their crap is still here. A couple of generators, stuff like that. I guess the government came through and made this place a crime scene," he says while stepping over crime scene tape littering the floor, "to cover up that they did some kind of raid here. Edward thinks it's safe though, they're not watching it anymore…"

A yellowing piece of tape crunches beneath Cardinal's boot as he walks into the library, tucking his hand— and stump— into the pockets of his stained jacket. "PARIAH, maybe," he muses aloud, "Or Vanguard, or… who the fuck knows, there's more conspiracies in this city than there are hot dogs. Maybe it was a book club reading forbidden books."

That cynical remark is accompanied by a shake of the head, the powerless man keeping in the path of the other in case there's booby traps or other hazards to be dealt with en route.

Leading Cardinal through the dusty foyer of the largest library on the east coast, John seems unsurprised by the decaying grandiose of the building. The dome directly upon entering has collapsed in on itself halfway, revealing the slate gray and cloudy skies overhead, and John's path moves around long settled rubble from that crumbled architecture, past staircases that lead to higher floors, straight to the back of the foyer and through open doors, towards the sound of distant conversation.

It's hard to make out exactly what is being said at this distance, but not hard to make out the fact that one of the voices can't even possibly pass for human. It sounds like scraping metal and a man speaking into an aluminum can full of ball bearingd while guitar strings vibrate on the outside.

John stops, hearing that voice, and looks back towards Cardinal over his shoulder. "You— uh— do— do you startle easily?"

No further conversation is forthcoming, apparently, and neither does Cardinal strive for it. It's with a tired sort of slouch that he walks through the library's faded grandeur, boots crunching through broken glass from a shattered window here, kicking graveled rubble from his path there. Although there's a weariness to him that's sunk down to the bone, he still keeps an eye out for valuable objects in the long-looted ruins.

Professional habit.

The sounds from above stir his attention back to the matter at hand, however, and his own steps slow— then stop, pausing lingering just behind John's left shoulder. "Not really," he murmurs, craning his neck a bit, "Although if you want to give me a head's up on what that is, I wouldn't object…"

There's a bit of a smile from John to Cardinal, one partly of relief, though when it turns to a grimace it's a bit telling. "Allen Rickham?" One brow kicks up, the name unfamiliar on his tongue, "he says he used to be the President. I— kind've take his word for it." John nods his head down the hall, managing an awkward smile as he shoves his hands into his pockets and continues down past another series of double doors, past two four-way junctions in the halls and a row of windows boarded up and covered with plastic that sags and puffs out like lungs with each gust of the breeze outside.

There's a name that finally comes as a surprise to Richard, eliciting not only a surprised glance but a dubious one; his brow screwing up in parallel furrowing across his forehead. The ex-President? No reason to doubt, though, to guess that he's lying or mistaken. There are more things under Heaven and Earth, Horatio…

A hint of tension begins to wind itself into his muscles and tendons as they walk along the corridors and through the long halls of the library, his shoulders hunching a bit as if to protect his head from anything that might suddenly strike out. It's impossible not to be nervous, after all this build up, and his nerves are already frayed.

"Just don't make direct eye contact," John states somewhat flatly, turning a corner into a hall that branches off of the main path. Here, there's signs of work that had been done post-bomb to the facility, with power cabling running along the floors, old diesel generators parked in one vacant room littered with loose scraps of paper and plastic covered windows. Down here, the conversation gets louder, quicker.

"He was hard to find, you know. I…" there's a loose, rattling sound in the back of Allen's words, like phlegm to a human, "I'm pretty sure he knew I was coming before I got through the door."

"Well, Allen, he is a mind-reader." The other voice is far more nasally, far sharper in tone but also far more human. The body attached to the voice isn't readily apparent, even when John pushes through a pair of partially ajar doors into a back room in the library lined with tall bookshelves crammed with fire-damaged books. The whole room smells faintly of soot, and the long tables between the bookshelves are warped from water damage.

"Uh— I'm… back." John hesitates in the doorway, waving one hand as he looks down the nearest table, where a small-framed man in a black zippered jacket sits behind a laptop computer, the glow of the screen reflecting in his pale blue eyes.

"Welcome back, John, could you put some coffee on for our guest?" There's a flippant wave of one hand towards a nearby coffee pot connected to an orange extension cord. "Please, do come in Richard…" He doesn't look up from the incessant typing at the keys of the laptop, "don't mind the mess."

The mess he's referring to is something behind where he sits, where a man of indeterminate age has been bound to a chair with a clock sack tied over his head, clearly gagged from the muffled sound beneath. Near that chair, a tall and lanky figure is shrouded in a loose and unzippered black hooded sweatshirt, beneath which a tattered gray sweater is worn, and a black scarf is wound around the lower portion of his face. What little can be seen in the diffuse gray light filtering between boards on the windows looks deformed, warped somehow, and charcoal gray in color. Glossy black eyes stare out from the hood, and the tall man makes no signs of movement.

Dumbstruck in the doorway, John begins to stammer, until Edward finally looks up from the laptop, thin brows raised expectantly. "You didn't think I'd just let you run off without already knowing where you'd be going, did you, John? Now, please… I think Richard could use something warm to drink."

There's a number of things that could be found worrisome here. The hooded figure of - one presumes - the once-President-elect of the United States, the dubious reputation of Edward Ray himself, the figure that's bound and gagged to a chair… but what worries Cardinal the most is that the man already knows his name, and seems to have been expecting him.

"Black, please," is what he orders from John with a tilt of his head to the other man, walking slowly through the doors and into the room. He'd make a comment about the mess, but at the moment he's not one to talk. His voice is still a bit hoarse from what he's been through of late, his movements weighed down with weariness as he steps over to one of the tables, sliding a hip onto it in a half-seated posture. "I'd say that I was hoping you're not planning to drug me, Edward, but right now I think I might enjoy a good night's sleep."

Inevitably, then, those dark eyes are drawn to the other two in the room, seeming as if they were plucked directly from a Saturday Night B-Movie. Each regarded in turn, before he lifts his chin to the bound man, "Who's your guest?"

"Who he is isn't important." Edward states flatly, finally stopping typing as his hands come up to fold the laptop closed. "What's important, right now, is that you're here and that you're alive. I've been waiting to meet with you for some time, Richard. You're a pragmatic survivalist, and I am pleased to say that those qualities you possess are — perhaps for the first time — going to be instrumental in the saving of countless lives."

Dumbstruck by the entire situation, John's just standing by the coffee pot, looking down at a box of filters in his hands. He turns, glancing up to the hooded and cloth-shrouded form of Allen Rickham, then just shrugs his shoulders helplessly and goes back to making a pot of coffee.

"I'm sorry things had to play out the way they did, I…" Edward's brows tense as he rise sup from his chair at the table, "I wasn't sure how seriously you'd be injured. But, thankfully, you're here." For his worth, Edward seemed to be just a little dubious in the possibility of Cardinal's survival. "There's two things on the agenda for today…" his words grow quieter as he leans over to an open bookshelf, retrieving a tattered and dog-eared old manilla folder. Walking over to where Cardinal rests partially on the table's edge, Edward lays down the folder.

"Item one, preventing Arthur Petrelli from being able to find you again." Then, Edward taps two fingers on the folder, "item two, securing you with a vial of the Formula." At that John looks backward with a jerk of his head, one brow raised and lips parted.

The snap of the laptop closed brings Cardinal's head back around to regard the predictator, though the words spoken - particularly the first half of them - cause those eyes to narrow more than a little, his good hand dropping to his thigh in an absent drumming against it in a tap-tap-tap of callused fingertips to denim. The stump rests on his knee, in open view.

"It'll take more than a lawyer on a power trip to kill me," he replies in a quiet tone laden with scorn - for Arthur, perhaps even for the possibility being considered, "And if you've got any ideas on the first, I'd be glad to listen. As for the other…"

A pause. "Unless he's started producing it again, it doesn't fucking exist anymore, as far as I know."

Edward just gives a painted smile to Cardinal, as if to emphasize as far as you know in wordless aplomb. Having timed his speech to John finishing with the preparation of the coffee, he turns to look over towards the disaffected member of his merry entourage, one hand raised. "John, could you come over here?" Phrased like a question, spoken like an order.

"Why?" Edward's brows tense at the first questioning of his orders, followed by those overlarge blue eyes turning to peer intently at the taller man. "Because I need you for a moment, or if you'd rather watch the coffee pot percolate I'm certain Richard could wait."

Raising both hands into the air, palms out, John gives a shrug of his shoulders and a sigh of resignation as he moves over to where Edward and Cardinal are, hands tucked into the pockets of his jeans, head tilted to one side expectantly. "John, I need you to give that man's power to Richard, here." Edward motions distractedly to the man bound to the chair.

"Wh— what?" John's eyes go wide as he looks back over to the man restrained to the chair, then back to Edward. "Who… who is he?"

"That's not important." Edward notes with a roll of one shoulder, turning his eyes to John with an impatient expression. John's runs a hand over his face, smoothing his palm down over his mouth as he blows a sigh out between his fingers.

"What— what ability does he— " Edward leaps in front of that question like a bullet, promptly answering.

"Telepathy, now can you do what I ask or do we need to wait for Arthur to just come here?" That barbed retort causes John to wince, dark brows furrowing as he bites down on his lower lip, looking back and forth between the man in the chair and Richard.

"I— I'm sorry," John murmurs, holding out a hand towards Cardinal as red sparks of electricity crackle and snap between his outstretched hand, followed by the same effect on his other hand pointed at the man in the chair, whom Rickham takes heavy, plodding steps away from.

There aren't any telepaths on Cardinal's list of people he particularly gives a shit about, so when his power's spoken of, he actually relaxes a little— whoever's wearing the hood isn't of any concern to him, apparently agreeing with Edward there. Despite that agreement, however, there's a certain hard edge to the way he looks at the good doctor. The perceptive might notice the subtle twitch of a tighter line to his lips when he speaks to 'John' as he does.

Given as much as he's already suffered, apparently the felon doesn't feel he deserves to be treated like this. Still, out of cowardice, lack of strength to how much he cares, or simply out of an understanding that this is not the time to be questioning the man's behavior, he remains silent.

Telepathy. "It's all right, Tyler," he says quietly, gaze on the bound figure in the chair as the red lightning crackles, lighting the room brighter with crimson illumination. Involuntarily, he tenses up, even though he's already gathered what's coming. Pain is expected— but he's getting used to that.

What's expected is delivered. It's not on the same level as forced amputation, but the crackling snap of brilliant red electricity that courses through Cardinal's body feels very much like sticking your tongue in a light socket set to low. There is a prickling tingle and an overall sensation of disorientation as skin becomes flushed and biochemistry is tangled up like a kitten playing with a ball of yarn. The man in the chair bucks and shakes against his restraints, as if the process were far more excruciating to be on his end of it. Only halfway through the length of the process, Cardinal begins to hear sounds — whispers and echoes murmuring all around him on the periphery of his senses.

When the red bolt finally disengages, the man in the chair jerks back hard enough that teo of the chair legs come off the floor, but Rickham's hand reaches out to grab the back of the chair and keep him from tipping ass-over-elbows. The immediate response of the ability is horribly confusing, a suffocating level of noise that is far too great for the small number of people here in the room.

Edward takes a step back from Cardinal, hands still tucked into the pockets of his jacket, focus shifting to Rickham. "Take him out back, would you kindly, Allen?" A nod is made to the man in the chair, and Rickham grunts of hollow, mechanical noise before dragging the man in the chair out with one hand, legs scuffing and squeaking on the rough floor.

After the torture of knives and cellular degeneration, the agony of having his ability forcibly torn from him, and the white-hot— if momentary— pain of laser amputation, Richard Cardinal doesn't even cry out as that sanguine lightning crackles through his body to twist his genetic code like a pretzel. Not that he's cool as a cucumber, no; fingers curling into a fist, pounding against his thigh briefly, his jaw clenching and eyes closing tightly throughout the process. Then the lightning fades, his eyes open—

— and he brings both hands up to the sides of his head, eyes squeezing closed as that tidal wave of thoughts conscious, subconscious and otherwise wash over him in a chaotic tumult of white noise. "F-fucking hell that's— loud— " It's not the right adjective, but it'll do. He doesn't even notice as the man in the chair's being wheeled away, too focused on trying to hear his own thoughts for the moment and filter the rest out. Suddenly, he has a great deal more sympathy for telepaths.

"The registry for the Evolved classifies the ability precisely as tactile telepathic sense linkage." While Edward is elaborating, the susurrus of voices begins to die down, and then eventually fades away entirely. "It's a highly specialized form of telepathy that isn't so much about mind-reading and listening to thoughts, as it is hijacking the senses of others around you." Edward takes a step around John, walking parallel with the table back towards his seat. "By making physical contact with a subject, you are able to connect to any one of their primary senses at any distance once contact has been made. According to this dossier," he nods to the folder, "the ability allows you to link to up to five senses at once, in any combination of multiple individuals. Each sense you link to, overrides one of your own. So if you sight-jack someone, you see what they see, but not what your own eyes would perceive…" Edward's head tilts to the side, "if you steal their sense of tactile sense, you feel what they feel, but not what you feel."

Pulling out his chair, Edward sits down again and breathes out a heavy sigh, folding his hands over the closed laptop. "Primarily, though, it will allow you to give a horrible resonant feedback to Arthur Petrelli should he attempt to use any form of localized clairvoyant ability to locate you, or anyone you are currently sense-linked to."

Crooking his lips up into a smirk, Edward slouches back into his wooden chair with a creak that is drowned up by the loud nose of the coffee pop percolating, and the slam of a distant door as Allen drags the man in the chair outside.

"Now," Blue eyes settle on Richard, "once you've gotten your bearings, we can move on to point two." John, of all people, is reeling from what's going on. His head is still swimming over the notion that Edward planned for half of this to happen, or at least predicted the chance encounter with Bebe on the bridge, and where it would all go.

Oh, thank god, the voices are fading. Cardinal isn't sure if he could handle full-fledged telepathy, at least not all at once— well, now he's not, having had enough of a taste of it to see how difficult it is. The thief takes a slow breath, then exhales it, nodding weakly, then again more firmly before pushing his head back up once more.

"How the hell did you plan all this," he asks finally, his brow furrowing as he looks over at Edward with a bemused expression, "I mean— how the fuck could you expect me to run into them on Swinburne, then come here, with enough accuracy to get this set up, right down to that guy…?"

Truth be told, it's the first time anyone has asked Edward how he does anything he does. "Would you believe me if I told you I was a very good guesser?" A crooked smile creeps up on Edward's lips as his hands part in a somewhat helpless gesture. "Truth be told explaining how my ability works — and yes, it is an ability — isn't as easy as it would appear. I foresee probability and predict outcomes based on information and… supposition." His head cants to one side slightly. "I wasn't entirely sure how things would play out until it was remarkably close to the line, as it were. When this particular thread of events started, I knew John would meet someone on the bridge who would gain his confidence."

After offering an apologetic nod to John, Edward adds, "I'll take mine with extra cream and sugar too," followed by a tiny little smile too dainty and too awkward to be sincere. "As events played out, I kept my thoughts on the situation, re-analyzing events and projecting outcomes. Eventually I realized the opportunity of your running into Arthur, and made quick work to find that gentleman." Edward points over his shoulder with one thumb. "It may seem perfectly orchestrated, Richard, but there's a lot of scrambling and guess-work that goes in to everything I do. I'm not always right, either."

A shift of his posture, and Richard slides his backside up onto the table; hands dropping down to rest on his knees (well, hand— the other reaches, finds nothing, and thumps there, which he tries not to show bothers him) , his head falling forward a little and tilting a bit to one side as he tries to untangle the words spoken. "So it's some kind of… deductive… precognition?" A long pause, "The inside of your head must be a fucked up place to live, Eddie."

He cracks his neck to one side, then the other, before reorienting his gaze and attention on the other man with a slight frown, "So who told you about me? I've been keeping more or less under the level, s'much as I've known. It's not like any of the big boys take me seriously— " A pause, "— well, until Arthur. I don't think he really knows why he should though."

There's a faint grimace from Edward as he taps two fingers on the side of his head, "I've been told it's a difficult thing to understand." When his eyes drift down to the table at the further question, Edward's lips press into a bit of a frown. "I know of you from the future, actually… In 2019, where I come from, I worked for Arthur Petrelli as an analyst and tactical adviser— that is, until he ran out of uses for me— or trust, or— well, it's a complicated matter. Regardless, he pushed me into the Moab Federal Penitentiary under the rug. But, your name? Your profile?" Edward shakes his head, "I knew you."

"Christ," Cardinal brings his good hand up to rub against the side of his face, muttering to his palm and fingers, "Time travel gives me a fuckin' headache." A breath's drawn in, and then he exhales a breath, hand dropping down to his knee as he notes firmly, "Well, that future's already been screwed to hell and back. So. As Dorothy said to the man behind the curtain, what's the plan?"

"Not as screwed as you would like to imagine, Richard." With that, Edward rises from his chair again, restlessly, but as he turns one hand moves out in knowing expectance of a coffee cup about to be offered to him. "Thank you, John," he adds as an aside, taking the cup in hand as John's brows crease, and he goes about pouring a black cup of coffee for Cardinal.

"Time can't be changed as easily as people like to imagine. I likened it once, to diverting the flow of a river. You can throw as many pebbles into the Hudson as you want, and — sure — it will create ripples and disrupt the original flow, but in order to change the course of the river, you have to be willing to move a mountain." Ed looks down to the coffee, eyes settles to the murky tan color, "That's what I am in the business of, Richard, I move mountains."

Coming around one side of the table as John moves around the other, Edward pauses by one of the boarded up windows, brows furrowed. "This building was a base of operations for an organization called Phoenix, once. It was here I worked side-by-side with them to stave off a viral apocalypse. I had to make difficult decisions then, and I had to make sacrifices." He takes a sip of the coffee, just as John sets the tin cup with Richard's black brew down in front of the one-handed man.

"I want to know if you're the kind of man who feels capable of making difficult decisions," Edward never looks back at Cardinal, "if you feel like you can make a sacrifice of yourself— or someone else— in order to prevent the man who took your hand from coming to absolute power." Finally, he looks over his shoulder, laying blue eyes on Richard. "Tell me that you can, and I assure you that you and Barbara will be able to make it out of this alive and well."

"Thanks, Tyler," Cardinal murmurs almost absently as the coffee's set down, reaching out with the missing hand— and he grimaces down at it. He's got to stop doing that. Drawing the blackened stump back, his other hand reaches out to wrap about the tin cup, bringing it up to his face to inhale the scent of it before he takes a sip. He doesn't take that sip just yet, though, letting the java's heady scent coil through his nostrils and tantalize his senses as he listens to Doctor Ray in silence, tired but intent eyes tracking his movements through the library.

"I know Phoenix," he replies, his head shaking ever so slightly, "They're not good at the hard decisions." His opinion, certainly, though he doesn't elaborate just now. As blue eyes look back, his own meet them steadily, and a faint smile twitches to his lips. "I was ready to blow my own damn head off to keep Arthur out've it, Eddie. And I care about most other people a hell of a lot less than I do myself. I've already given my hand, my power… fuck, my whole god-damn life, pathetic as it is anyway. Just tell me your plan, and I'll carry it out."

"I need you to break into a Homeland Security holding facility in Baltimore Maryland, just outside of DC." Edward takes a sip of his coffee, then motions to the folder at Cardinal's side. "But before you get ready for this, there's a few operatives I'd like you to get in contact with, and some situational advantages I want to recommend to you. Firstly…" the folder is flipped open, showing some maps printed out from the laptop using internet street mapping applications. "This is a map to a bar in New York called Old Lucy's, I'm not sure if you're familiar with it."

John circles around near Edward's seat, glancing down at his laptop, then back up to Edward. "There's a woman who works there, a former Moab inmate, named Isabelle Ashford. You need to contact her, and— either willingly or by force— recover the working vial of the Formula she has." Edward's brows lower slightly, "when Helena Dean and her compatriots returned to this timeline, she brought with her a case of the serum. Many vials were destroyed in the transfer from future to past, but several survived. Isabelle stole one from the rooftop, and I need you to get it from her, however you see fit."

Flipping the map aside, Edward reveals a photograph of a large-lipped and dark-haired woman with high cheekbones and thin brows with a somewhat severe look to her. "Isabelle is a former operative for the terrorist organization PARIAH, she'll have contacts with people you may find helpful in targeting the Homeland Security holding facility." He closes the folder, then turns his eyes up to Cardinal, "Then there's the matter of your hand…"

The tin edge of the cup is tilted to his lips, and Cardinal takes a swallow thereof; letting the warmth and heat of it spill down his gullet, he twists slightly to set the cup aside before he pushes off the table. On his feet, unsteady still but with rising confidence as he steps to look at the maps. He smiles. Hah. Edward doesn't know everything after all.

It's an oddly comforting realization.

"I can handle it," he states with unwavering confidence, chin tilting in a slight nod towards the photograph of his ex-lover before returning his own gaze to Edward's face, a brow ticking upwards, "What about my hand?"

"You have an appointment to have it restored," Edward notes as if he's a secretary reading off some businessman's itinerary for the day. "You're to meet with Daniel Linderman at his office in the financial district at your leisure." Blue eyes track across the room to John, focused on the awkwardly eavesdropping man for a moment before letting his focus come back to Cardinal. "He and I have made arrangements to restore your lost appendage," there's a knowing narrowing of Edward's eyes, "and I feel that perhaps you and Daniel may have lucrative business opportunities to discuss once your natural ability comes back." His head tilts, as if in uncertainty, "or, you know, if you wind up stuck with this one…"

Meandering back to his chair, Edward sets his coffee cup down with a clink to the wood table top, giving John a dismissive nod that sends the lanky and younger man shuffling away from Edward's high-backed chair. "Do… you have any questions?"

"What are you going to do with the Formula?" The question's immediate, and blunt, the look in Cardinal's eyes a hard one as it settles on the other man's face, "I wouldn't trust Arthur fucking Petrelli with it, and at least I know what his motives are, Eddie. I'm not just going to go fetch it and hand it over to you without a damn good reason. I'll track down every sample and destroy it, first." It's said simply and determinedly, unblinking for a moment, "So give me a reason."

"Me?" Edward arches one thin brow, "Cardinal, I don't think you follow me here. That vial isn't for me — " he waves one hand across the table, "it's for you." At that, John widens his eyes and looks down at Edward with surprise, as if that was the last thing he expected to hear from the mathematician.

Blink. Blink. "Oh… kay," Cardinal's head cants a bit to one side, his brow furrowing deep lines in the sweat-and-salt grimy forehead of the man, "I'm already Evolved, in case you— forgot. I mean, Arthur might have taken my power, but Tyler there just gave me a brand new one, and all…"

Edward only smiles away the question, nodding his head once as he opens up his laptop again. "Tomorrow you'll find information regarding the DHS holding facility located under bus terminal bench at west 34st street here in the ruins. The facility is a temporary holding structure, and you're going to be liberating one occupant from within, details on the individual will be given to you in the packet," Edward's eyes flit up from the open screen. "Isabelle should have contacts you can use if your own aren't amenable to the situation. Once you retrieve the individual from custody, there will be follow up instructions included in the envelope on where to take him."

"I'm a resourceful man, Eddie," Cardinal says with a subtle shake of his head at the mention of Isabelle's contacts, "West 34th; I know it." His primary bolt-hole is in these ruins, in fact - he knows them decently. Of course, he hasn't gone home since the whole district got set on fire but the landmarks are probably still mostly intact. "I'll pick it up tomorrow."

The thief watches the doctor for a silent moment, before he states quietly, "I know damn well you're using me for whatever your own damn agenda is, Eddie. You just make sure Arthur's death is part've that agenda."

"Oh, Richard," Edward manages to curl his lips into something of a Cheshire smile, "I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with that outcome."

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