My Life Is A Goddamn Mess


raith_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif

Scene Title My Life Is A Goddamn Mess
Synopsis Cardinal meets with a shellshocked Raith to discuss the future. And mines.
Date July 30, 2010

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Exactly where land gives way to water at this point of the island's edge is uncertain — first because of the saltgrass growing everywhere, both on dry earth and in the shallows, giving the illusion of solidarity; second for the structures visible in the distance, drawing the eye away from the deceptive ground, suggesting its reach extends beyond its grasp. Even if the structures are still recognizable as ships, and nothing that ever belonged on land.

There are a multitude of them, abandoned hulls of salt-stained wood and rust-pitted steel, dying slow and ungraceful deaths as wind and water claim their dues. Some still appear to rest upright, braced upon the debris of older, lost relics below; others list to one side, canted at an odd angle like someone who just struggled to the surface in search of a desperate breath. There are no hands to pull these hulks from the water, no ropes to save them from drowning; each has been surrendered to the sea, left to the ravages of unmerciful time.

At low tide, some of the closer ships can be reached — not without getting soaked, but such is the price of daring. Never mind that the rotting metal and splintered wood are the stuff of nightmares for any germophobe, definite hazards to the unwary. The more distant ships are distant indeed, beyond the reach of all but the most bold — and are all but submerged besides.

'A rough week' isn't strong enough to describe the last few days for Jensen Raith, left somewhat shellshocked and more paranoid than usual after his close brush with the Institute. He has flatly refused to set foot on the mainland for any reason. His meeting with Richard Cardinal regarding the future would take place in Staten Island's boat graveyard, or 'not at all.'

The boat graveyard is where Raith waits, hidden in a small patch of green just outside of the gutted, rusting hulk of an ancient wreck washed up on the shore. 'Nervous' isn't strong enough to describe his state of mind, waiting for his contact to show up. In the past, he traveled light, carrying a submachine and perhaps a few grenades with him. Today, he has come ready for war, laying prone with the belt-fed M60 in front of him, a more manageable M4 with attached grenade launcher within arm's reach, and perhaps for reassuring of all, a line of three plastic triggers with wires coming out of them on the ground. Just three 'claks' on any of them, and somebody is going to have a really bad day. Hopefully, only Cardinal will show up, no G-men or Institute busybodies in hot pursuit, and nobody has to have a bad day. Hopefully….

The debris-strewn earth of the ship graveyard crunches softly beneath the soles of Richard Cardinal's feet as he walks along, hands tucked into the pockets of his jacket and out of few; saltgrass rustling past his feet and calves with every step, an additional warning of his approach, perhaos not wanting to startle the man that he's coming to meet.

He isn't unwary, though, despite that. The set of shades that rest upon his face shield his eyes from view as he watches the rusted-out hulls and long grass - the perfect site for an ambush, and he knows it. He just has to trust that the only ambush here is by someone he can trust.

Well. At least to a degree.

Raith spends several moments watching, and waiting. No one else arrives, no signals are made, nothing to set him off. That leaves only one, final test.

"Han," he calls out, voice coming from somewhere and nowhere at the same time. The ex-spy's finger rests on the machine gun's trigger, hoping his pool of allies hasn't unexpectedly gotten smaller. "Still running Imperial blockades?"

At the call, Cardinal stops; his head turning to try and locate the sound, hands sliding from his pockets, unarmed. "Now that I've gotten over the carbonite blindness," he calls back glibly, "You seen Jeff lately?"

Hidden from sight, Raith's finger snaps away from the trigger and he lets out a deep breath. Close call. Wrapping his hand around the grip of the M4, he stirs from his position, rustling foliage just lightly before he appears, walking out to meet Cardinal. The shadow man will note that Raith is decked out in camo fatigues, loaded out with rifle magazines and grenades and has even gone so far as to paint his face to match his surroundings. The curly mustache is a nice touch, sure, but something spooked him pretty bad for him to go this far. "Not lately," he says, "Makes me sad. The lawn is getting awful long."

"Can you imagine the look on Sarisa and Autumn's faces if we'd tried to load him onto the ship, though? 'Who's that,' they'd ask. 'Part of Team Alpha,' we'd say, trying to keep a straight face thoroughout it…" Cardinal's gaze cuts down, then up over the camoflaged ex-agent, one brow crooking up over the edge of his shades, "…what the fuck happened, Jensen? You expecting me, or the National Guard?"

Briefly, Raith sends a glance out towards the ships in the water, but quickly refocuses on Cardinal. The boat's aren't going to talk to him. "Institute jumped me," he replies, "Out in Flushing. Fuckers almost got me but luckily, Rebel was paying attention." He doesn't fight hard to hold a sigh in. "Just rattled me a little, that's all. Few more days, and I'll be fine, that's just, that's the way it is when you get rattled, you know? But anyway, now you know why your out here instead of having a sandwich. Wrap-arounds or not, one of them got a pretty close look at me. Not taking the chance, not yet."

"They'll have bigger things to worry about than you soon enough…" Cardinal's chin tips in a slight nod, his gaze serious as he looks Raith over for any signs of injury, "…you get any positive IDs on any of the guys that jumped you, by any chance?"

"I didn't exactly stick around," the ex-spy admits, "One of them chased. Got real familiar with my back too, because that's all he saw. Didn't see him except from far away after I got the transit cops on him, kept shouting he was a federal agent. Rebel probably knows something, but I don't." Avi Epstein probably knows something too, but that's a conversation Raith isn't exactly eager to have, after the last one they tried to have. Abruptly, Raith changes the topic. "We've got a location on their base of ops, if you haven't already heard. Old hospital on the island. I haven't cased it real well yet, still rattled, but we've enough guns and munitions to equip a small army. All we need now are people to equip."

"How serendipitious." Cardinal smiles, and it's not a very pleasant smile, hands sweeping to either side, "I happen to have some people you can arm." His hands drop back down to his sides, and he turns a bit to look out across the area, "…Sheridan's given me plenty of details on their security, too, and I've picked up some old blueprints of the building. Probably out of date, but there's only so much they could've altered."

Back to Raith, he crooks a brow, "I understand you've already talked to Peter?"

"We did," Raith says, leaving the space for 'We' filled in with 'blank.' "Although not about assembling a small army, not yet. That's next on our agenda. Knowing Peter, he'll probably have some list of this or that he'll require us to follow before he'll agree to anything, just like the Ferry and I'm assuming you will have lists of this or that." At the very least, Raith is beginning to relax a little bit, moving off to one side and taking a seat on the ground. "You were on the George Washington, you know how these things go." A momentary pause.

"You don't, uh, happen to have a cigar, do you? It didn't seem smart to bring one, but now I'm thinking the opposite of that is true."

"'Fraid not. I haven't smoked since I came back to life," Cardinal admits, scratching at the curve of his jaw, "I don't have any lists. We get our people out from where they're held, and we kill every other motherfucker in our way, make sure to plaster mad scientist brains all over the goddamn walls, and then we raze the fucking building so there's nothing but a flat plain when we're done. Salt optional."

Rather than answering right away, Raith takes a moment to think, looking off into the distance as he works something out in his head. "I sure hope you've got two or three professionals you can offer up besides whatever riflemen you have," he decides, "Equipment included, because I don't have enough explosives or professionals for that, and there is no way in fuck I'm giving Messiah access to my C4." Another pause. "I don't know what demands Peter's going to make, and he will make some, and I don't know what you have to offer up. We need to meet him in neutral territory and work this out, develop a plan of attack. Like I said, I've got the hardware, but so far, no plan and no people, and you know how we are, including Emo Git. Won't go into anything without a plan."

"I might have a few professionals laying around," Cardinal says quietly, "And we may not need the C4 at all, to be completely honest… not if we can get Gillian out of her cell." A pause, and he adds dryly, "She's currently making a shiv, by the way, so hopefully she doesn't do anything stupid before we break her out. Points for guts on her end, though."

He nods, once, "I have people and maps. We'll probably need Messiah's firepower, unfortunately, I'll get some of his people to talk to him to ease us into working together on this…" He trails off, "…you do know they're being manipulated, right? I figure you would've figured that one out."

"I never spend my time wondering who is and isn't being manipulated, Richard." Raith, at this moment, fixes Cardinal with an even, hard stare. "Just as long as it isn't me, or the people I work with." But it's a short-lived stare and accompanying topic. "How soon can you be ready to meet with Signor Petrelli? And how soon do you figure he'll be ready to meet? The sooner, the better. The sandwiches are the island are crappy and expensive."

"I can meet with him whenever," Cardinal gives his head a brief, tight shake, "The sooner the better, honestly. They've already been experimenting on Teodoro, and I'd like to get him and the others out of there as soon as possible."

"Yeah." Once again, Raith looks off towards the dead and sinking ships. In a way, he understands life in a graveyard. He spent a good portion of his life making graveyards. "Get him warmed up to working together fast," the ex-spy says as he stands up from his seat, brushing sand and dirt off his pants, "My life's kind of a goddamn mess right now. Before it was just complicated, and I was okay with that. I'm not okay with it being a goddamn mess." Once more, Raith's gaze tilts off in thought, this time towards the ground. Nothing's ever quite that simple, is it?

"I wish this would end it," says Cardinal quietly, regarding the other man for a long moment, "It won't, though. This is just one facility. They have others." A hand comes up, fingers sliding under his shades to rub against his eyes, "I've had a lot of shit to deal with too. Haven't been sleeping well. You ever get conflicting orders and not be sure which were the right ones to follow, Jensen?"

"Never," Raith replies, looking to Cardinal with a slight smile, "If I didn't like them, I just 'edited' them, and then 'edited' the truth later. Why do you think I never made it past Master Sergeant? Or why they pull me from ops command in Afghanistan? The world is crazy, Richard. Sometimes, you have to make your own sense out of it. I need to make a phone call." The last sentence is strange, sounding like an afterthought, but said almost as if it came out in a stream of consciousness. "My life's a goddamn mess, but there's one thing I can maybe fix tonight. Something I should've tried to fix a long time ago."

"Could be that you're right there…" Cardinal pushes the shades back fully over his eyes, "…could be that you're right. I should make some calls myself." He cants his head in the other man's direction, one brow crooking upwards, "There anything I can do to help? Aside from, you know, working to bury this fucked up little thinktank forever."

For a few moments, Raith considers this possibility. Is there anything Cardinal can do to help? "Yeah," he finally decides, "Do you think maybe you could help me pick up my mines?" Because that's exactly the sort of question you want a likely crazy ex-paramilitary operator to ask you.

Cardinal looks at Raith for a moment… and then he exhales a faint chuckle, his head shaking slowly. "Sure," he allows, his tone wry, "Just show me how."

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