Name And Purpose


cardinal_icon.gif logan_icon.gif teo2_icon.gif

Scene Title Name And Purpose
Synopsis A spy is shaken from the shadows, and the simple questions have complex answers. Dramatic chord.
Date June 9, 2009

The Happy Dagger: Basement

Shadows are a good camouflage, for more than just the one reason when it comes to the Happy Dagger. Hazier, indistinct things the higher up you go, but down here

Logan's shoes and loping, lazy footsteps down the concrete flight of stairs that winds like a choked artery down the back of the brothel echo off the walls. Even down here, where the points of illumination, the flickery lightbulbs at the corners, don't necessarily give off light enough to touch each other, there are still the red eyes of cameras spanning broad strokes of hallways. Never a blind spot, in the Dagger.

Unless you know what you're doing. Logan is dressed darkly for the evening, in a tailored jacket with silver, Arabic-style smoke patterns in stitches along the cuffs, scrolling up the back, and pants that glisten in the familiar oily visual texture of leather. A hand trails light fingertips down a metal railing as he moves down, down into the basements, shabby and grey in comparison to the flamboyant topside of the brothel.

— down here, the shadows are sharp angles and entire corners, nothing ghost-like about them.

The shadows are the home of one who lives in them, as one of them himself; existing from moment to moment nothing save a spill of darkness, an afterthought of reality and side effect of light, an absence of something rather than anything himself. It's a paradox of existence that Richard Cardinal tries not to consider - it stirs thoughts and ideas best left alone.

Still, this is one place that he's never felt at home. As much time as he's spent here, watching the dirtier secrets of John Logan and seeking to undo the worst of them, he's always on edge. A sharp quiver of emotion - not fear, per se, but wariness and disgust. And a hatred sown but not yet come to harvest. But here he is, again, coiled in the shadow of the man walking down the steps to the basements, sight that comes eyeless spilling over cells and doors. Hunting a lost… friend? No. Merely an acquaintance. Just like last time.

Friends, acquaintances, enemies— most of these categories seem to be in a flux for one Teodoro Laudani these days. Having recently been introduced to the rest of the pack, he decided to review what he knows about hooligan team dynamics, which rather stupidly amounted to 'beat up the biggest one' and resulted in being sat on by a two-hundred and fifty pound Irishman before the group broke up amid sniggering and beers and apportioning of hooker girlfriends. It was very companionable.

And gave him an excuse to loiter the bowels of the establishment, cooling down in the concrete-thickened lower levels of the whorehouse while he covers a ten minute fraction of Ferguson's shift while Ferguson is finishing up with Badali and owes him, anyway, for leaving the bony indentation of his shoulders in the man's voluminous posterior.

Eileen doesn't seem to be doing anything but sitting, lately. John doesn't seem to have been lying about the circumstances of her stay: the boys in the camera room pay little mind to her quarter and, though technically surveilled, her door appears unlocked and unmanned.

All this and more, Ghost does without moving overmuch. Having doffed the momentary subterfuge of being a social creature, he looks the part of a loitering cat at the bottom of the stairwell, perched on the metal of the railing, his back propped up against the wall and heels dangling into empty air as they had off fishing piers and boat sterns when he was young. Shirt sleeve peeled back, his elbow is now slightly orange from mixed iodine tincture and blood from an ungainly scrape. He picks at it with a blunt fingernail. Again, he isn't wearing any color, but this time it passes for professional uniformity than humorless personal preference.

"Buona sera," he calls out without looking.

Everyone is in black here, some more than others. Logan manages to force it to be colourful, in cut and fabric, although down here there isn't much difference save for the barest glints of silver thread. His step pauses, briefly, a second before Ghost makes his salutation, and the silence that follows could be described as quizzical. It matches Logan's expression once he's made it the rest of the way down.

"I thought I'd managed to avoid all the Italianing, all things considered." He comes to halt in front of Teo, peering up at him and then leaning to look down the corridor at the rows of closed doors, adding, "Old habits die that hard, do they?"

A ripple of shock thrusts its way through Cardinal's consciousness at the sight of that man, lounging so casually and roguishly there in the midst of Logan's dominion - shameless about it, and the shadow-man is somehow offended, as if walking in on someone masturbating that doesn't have the grace to even blush. Silence as he observes, though his thoughts roil with confusion.

Not Fergus, then. A brow hikes, and the ghost lits his head. Scissors his fingers, ridding the blunt hang of his nail of a hard crumb of serous-sticky scab. "He's more than just a pretty face.

"No point pretending otherwise," Ghost responds, either irrelevantly or irreverently. It sounds an awful lot like Teo responding, if Teo were talking to someone he liked reasonably well. A smile carving in the corners of his mouth, pallid eyes going into a crinkle that makes the rest of his expression look warm even if the Nordic hue of his irises never quite take to the summery Mediterranean shades that he likes to claim home to.

Only, his face is changing, now. Tugging down, darkening with surprise as an unexpected point of perception splices into his thoughts, its origin carried in Logan's wake as nonchalantly as your average dick with a wire. Regrettably, it would require an above-average dick to get a wire anywhere around Ghost. Paranoia spikes. For an instant, he regards Logan with more suspicion than even the pimp individually warrants, given he's just— standing there, in black and silver, and bitching a little bit.

"Second thoughts, Logan?"

"I could see some point in pretending otherwise," Logan counters, if idly, although this would normally be his cue to continue on his way, pick the right door and christen his evening. Instead, he leans the small of his back against the opposite railing, a hand resting on it and looking at Teo as if he'd judging what to say— which is more or less derailed by the way the other man is looking at him.


He knows that look. He would know that look, brow furrowing because, as noted, he is just standing there, at least right now. "I don't generally have those. What's wrong?"

There's certainly something going on here, though as of yet Cardinal can't really make heads nor tails of it all. The shadow merely pools in the other man's shadow, watching and listening in utter confusion. Why is Teodoro here? Why is Logan treating him like he's supposed to be? Puzzle pieces swirling through his thoughts that aren't fitting together - and he's become used to being able to put those pieces together easily. It's what he does. But he's missing a piece here, somewhere, and he doesn't like it.

For a protracted moment, the two Europeans make brief, ever so faintly incisored study of each other at the base of the stairs. Ghost's features adjust between annoyance to mollification, consternation, before flattening out into paranoia again. It isn't a sentiment that is entirely alien to his younger analogue, but there's an edge of grizzled, lupine confrontationality to the ghost's carriage.

Behind the fourth wall, in the back of the theater, somebody has their popcorn pushed up over their eyes and is shrieking for Richard Cardinal to run and purloin that stray clue out of the pocket Elisabeth forgot to take it out of. Finally, Ghost gestures with a hand, once, irritably brusque. It either means, Fuck you too, or There's cognizant lint in your shadow. And then he jerks the Para-Ordnance out from underneath his left arm and thumbs off safety.

Kicks down onto the floor in the same adroit motion, and settles cold eyes on the one other specter who is here at the stairs. It is all the warning that Richard gets, this unforseeable recognition and lens-click of focus, before a violent clash of energy lances his mind. Shadows don't have nerves or neurochemistry or brains that operate on the firing of action potentials so there's no seizuring illusion of a taser here, no chemical shriek of protest of a soul momentary assaulted out of its skull: there is only pain, a sudden spate of darkness incomprehensible even to Cardinal's eyes, disorientation, the sudden dislocation of himself.

Cardinal prefers to claim, and act, invincible in his shadow form - that nothing can hurt him, nothing that can touch him. It's not true of course, but he likes to pretend it is. There's only two things that he knows can make him hurt when he's shed his biological shell and become this nothing that moves. Extremely intense light is one, Huruma's terrible power another.

Now he finds a third.

The shadow looks into those cold blue eyes, and his thoughts flicker briefly, recognition of a look alien to the man that Ghost is thought to be too late— Wait— that's not Laudani— Then his world explodes, his incorporeal mind rent and shattered under telepathic assault both unexpected and unguarded-against. The shadow screams, a sound terrible to hear and impossible to reproduce with a human tongue, as Cardinal mentally thrashes about for purchase and in his mad, blind gropings does the worst thing possible. He reaches for the world of solidity.

The shadows vomit forth his form, face-flat on the floor behind Logan, twitching sharply as fingers grasp at the floor before slowly easing. Very still.

Laudani is moving like the cat that noticed the mouse isn't dead, and a shadow is screaming. Somewhere in this chaos, Logan has a heart attack. A scuff of boots against cement sounds out as he moves with surprising agility away from the sound and further into the corridor, spinning to confront the stairwell again just in time to see— a man rolling out of the gaping maw of a shadow that used to be his.

"Wh— fuck me."

Logan has no gun to fumble for, although his hand does retrieve the everpresent switchblade from his pocket as some kind of after thought, but not before his eyes become two twin points of preternatural predator's green. Unlike the pain of Teo's attack, the wet blanket beign flung over Cardinal's genetics is far less noticeable, saving for a twinge at those emotions of fight or flight that run white hot through a man down, unless the black of unconsciousness has already descended.

He can't tell, from this vantage point, and Logan isn't sure he wants to come any closer. "Friend've yours?" A signal is being raised, information shooting through the brothel like a silent alarm, as well choreographed as a dance.

"That," Ghost articulates with great and terrible aplomb. The straight black snout of the gun's composite barrel indicates the subject of his aversion with an instructive point, at the back of its supine head. Recognition is not forthcoming: in the time that he comes from, Cardinal had been missing for years and was left out of the ghost's processes of paper research and exhuming the recesses of his memory.

It's an unfortunate oversight, though not even Ghost could tell you how much of the pending misfortune would have changed if he had remembered.

Hard to tell, couldn't say. Ghost looks at Logan as if expecting a location. In the periphery of his mind, he feels Teo— Teo, the one Cardinal had thought that he was— begin the groggy, groaning process of reestablishing lucidity.

The black isn't there yet— not the reassuring black of the shadows that belong to Cardinal, not the merciful lethe of unconsciousness— although the latter lurches about the corners of his vision and his mind, cold fingers that sink into his psyche to try and drag him down. It might be better if he let it, but he always did have too much of a desperate grip on life and existence to fade so easily. That brief rush of adrenaline that courses through his veins as his powers are hormonally suppressed lets him linger a little longer.

"Laud— no. Who— ?" Bleary still from the vicious impact of the mental attack, definately unable to get up just yet, he brings his head up, squinting at Ghost with a furrowed brow and grimaced lips, trying even through the pain and encroaching silence— possibly eternal silence— to make sense of this seeming betrayal.

Step closer, just a little, when the intruder is mostly only fit for rolling over, and Logan tries to remember exactly what he's done to warrant a stranger creeping around his building. You know, in the past few weeks, anyway. Recent talk has always been about wolves at the doors, anyway, so it's not surprising

Logan looks up towards Ghost, an unreadable but doubtlessly intent look on his face for a few long, stretching moments before he cants his head to the side. "Let's get 'im behind a closed door and find out then," he says, in that accent that degenerates in class whenever he's not thinking.

He turns his back with a shimmer of shiny black and silver thread, moving to wrench open a door of a room emptied of people, has been for a little while. There's a telepathic conference going on in Logan's skull, a silent herald to the sounds of footsteps as not one but two burly men Teo has had the pleasure of meeting, briefly, are making their way down the stairs.

Compartmentalization is easier even now for him than it was in the days that Ghost had made Richard Cardinal's acquaintance.

There's a cooler part of his mind currently, diligently occupied with fielding Logan's inscrutable stare and recalculating his standing with his new employer based on the obvious evidence that he is Evolved. There will be questions. While he seriously doubts the wrong answers will impact his current situation negatively, the right ones could improve them, and—

This man knows him. Possibly, that's a small 'Oops.' Ghost would be a poor show indeed, were he to underestimate the messes that tend to come of establishing oneself as Teodoro Laudani's enemy. He's trying to remember. Laced shoes scuff up toward Cardinal's pain-stiffened face and the loose-limbed heap of the man's discomfiture. He drops into a crouch, listening to the approach of guards (it is nice to be at a pay-grade above 'carry heavy objects'). Stares.

"Q-A's in a few minutes," he says, emptily, over the discomfitted whisper that circles his mind's ear. Wha's Richard Cardinal doing here? Where are we?

Wait. Wait. Focus, Richard. That's Logan's voice. Those are footsteps. Trying to force his way through the pain - an impressive feat in and of itself that he's even conscious - he braces a hand against the floor, reaching for the darkness, for that strange transubstantiation from flesh to dark matter…

…but nothing comes. Logan. Those fingers curl in, gloved fingertips rasping uselessly against the floor. Shit.

"Bastard," he spits out, mutters, trying to push him up. It doesn't go well, as he's having trouble focusing enough to even look around himself. It'll fade. But not in time.

In time, anyway, for the men who are paid to move heavy things. Two-hundred odd pounds each squeezed into clothes that only security at a whorehouse would be expected to dress in, one casting a look over Teo's crouching form with all the suspicion of regarding a newbie, before he's reaching to grab a handful of Richard Cardinal's shirt and haul him to his feet.

Logan watches from a range that could be described as out of the way— or at least for now, holding the door open with his fingers curled and eyes that luminescent green he has constantly switched on for Eileen. He has the sense to do it now, directed this time on the shadow-shifter, as easily as a hand cups and traps a panicked moth.

Eloni is at the man's other shoulder, the same who has witnessed eyegouging, his boss near dying from poison, and all kinds of other messes that require a gentler touch than what Logan is known for. But he's long since gotten used to trading in his personal scruples for his paycheck, and sees nothing wrong in gripping Cardinal's other elbow and, with the subtle clink of metal against metal, attaches the two steely hoops around the imposter's wrists. Mr. Logan said he was kind of tall.

It'd just make things easier. Cardinal is very unceremoniously shoved through the open door, Logan quick to follow— although a look towards Teo is tossed over his shoulder. Open invitation.

"Let's see how unscathed we can all get out of this, shall we?" is then directed into the room as the pimp steps the rest of the way inside. "Name. Purpose. Start where you will."

Dismay, recollection, generalized complaint and ambient discontent. Teo wakes up. More questions din the ghost's mind. He looks at the meathead when the meathead looks at him, lifts himself up a few seconds after they heave Cardinal up off the floor and sling him off on a scrape of heals and tangling strides. He accepts the invitation with hesitation that doesn't show on his face. Straightens his shirt, meets Logan's preternaturally lambent stare.

Saying nothing, internally or where anybody in the room can hear it, he picks his way into the cell. Spares the matchstick girl a glance inside her own, brief and not quite perfunctory, before he sets his back against the wall, looming casually int he shadows where Cardinal once sought the safety of secrecy.

There's a thousand answers that sweep across Cardinal's thoughts— names he could give, purposes, all plausible, all holding at least a kernel of truth. Most of them would sell someone out. The blur of pain in his thoughts nearly encourages him to fork over the name of the one that asked him to come— but when roles were reversed, Deckard didn't sell him out. And he paid for it with an eye. Funny, he hadn't thought of it that way until just now. Maybe the old man wasn't so bad after all.

There. That one. That one should be safe. "I was lookin' for anything more," he mutters, raising his head slightly to regard the man's eyes of incandescent green with a defiant heat that he can't quite hide in his own brown, "That you might have of Mister Linderman's. Like your painting."
The door shuts with a flick of his wrist after everyone has been ushered inside, Logan's hands, one with an unopened knife still clenched in a fist, then coming to settle casually inside the pockets of his jacket. "My painting," Logan repeats, a touch incredulously at this news. It's been a while since he's thought of his missing oil painting, something that had heightened security for at least a week until Logan has grown tired of the periodic checks into his lair and mostly forgotten.

The reminder is a good one. He doesn't say anything, such as, reminding the thief that sharing is caring, that all he had to do is ask, as much as Logan enjoys such gloating one-lines. Just shifts green eyes towards the closest security guard and doesn't blink when one meaty fist goes to bury itself in Cardinal's middle after the other steadied with a tight grip to his shoulder. It's easy to fold men when they have their hands behind their backs.

Another punch lands, one to Cardinal's face, before the hounds are called off with a vague hand gesture. "Name," is Logan's curt request.

"Mister Linderman disag— " The rest of the words are silenced by that heavy fist slamming into his midriff, driving the breath from his lungs in a hacking cough, eyes squeezing closed as he tries to gulp for breath, just in time for the other punch to crack into the side of his face, snapping his head back. He'd probably have fallen, if not for the meaty hands holding him up.

Focus. Focus! Damn it! He can get out of these cuffs given some time to work on it, but, he's not getting that time. "Rick," he spits out, along with a tooth. Crap. There goes his charming smile.

Inside their shared cranial chamber, Teo's conscious proves bulimic. Aborted questions gurgle up, grow acid, unfinished thoughts, slimed indignation rising with piecemeal memories retroactively assembled into something continuous and whole. Disbelief is mounting, counterbalanced by some desperate hope that— Humanis First! and corrupt police officers are a different thing. Pies to pick at, vendetta to settle, sins to overlook.

Even befriending sociopaths is a tradition familiar to Teodoro Laudani, be as it may that he prefers those who display some remorse about their sins and weaknesses. He's a friend, Teo says, staring at the shuddering shape of the stranded shadowmorph through eyes that no longer answer to his whim. He helped save Abby once. I don't know why you don't remember but fuck, just get him out of this, okay? Just get Logan to I don't know, just— There's a voluntary blink that he did not queue and Ghost straightens slightly.

"His name is Richard Cardinal," Ghost says, brightly.

Well he's not lying. Logan's gaze switches from where Cardinal hangs from the clutches of stronger men, on over towards the lurking Laudani. Rick is, after all, a nickname of Richard, isn't it? There are other nicknames too and it's enough that Logan doesn't have the thugs landing a third, fourth, fifth blow to the handcuffed man.

Which isn't actually a good sign, contrary to everything.

"Nice to meet you, Richard Cardinal," Logan says, even if green eyes are focused on Ghost, the pimp angling around enough to look at him comfortably. "This being that sharp intel you talked about?" That being a pun or a play on words, considering that the hand with the knife comes out, idly letting the blade fold out with a soft, scraping click, as if for punctuation. Long fingers close it once more in a fidgeting pull.

Lies always work better if there's something of truth in them. It's a lesson that the man currently paying for his charity learned early in life, along with 'don't try and be a hero'. Apparently he never learned that second one as well as the first. Given time to breathe, it's what he does, filling his lungs and emptying them again, doing his best to mentally brace himself for what's to come.

Then his name is spoken, and Cardinal's head jerks up. There's a flicker of betrayal behind those eyes as he stares at Ghost, a hurt look that swiftly fades into anger smoldering behind them, jaw setting and teeth grinding. "Bastard…"

Hard to tell. "His master owns helicopters and machineguns, and has previously shown very few compunctions about shitting where you do business. You might remember." Teo's eyes go crescent-shaped with a smile that fails to recurve his mouth. He turns them back to Cardinal and there's recognition there, finally, some mutated chimera of the quizzical humor and earnest haplessness that his younger self had once shown the shadowmorph.

"Should've stayed on your leash, amico. Self-righteousness in a man of your disposition is generally a sign of inaccurate judgment."

The world tilts a little, enough that Logan feels the need to angle his head in a quizzical lean as this information is handed to him on a shining, silver platter. There's a swift click as the blade of his knife flicks out once more in a subtle gesture at his side, glowing gaze switching back to Cardinal, surrounded by an analytical expression that is otherwise unreadable.

"Hold him," is the simple command delivered to the furniture that is the two security guards, and they are already, which— means to hold him more. Cardinal's bound arms are locked in tight grips, one hand deviating up to get a grip at the hair above the nape of his neck. "Now, Card," Logan says, the point of the switchblade coming up to touch against the man's chest, feather light in all its severity. "We're going to have a conversation."

He's felt it before, and he knows exactly how painful, and additionally, how nonlethal it is, to push a silver blade between the ribs if you know what you're doing. He only kind of does, but nonetheless, the blade quite suddenly digs through the thin fabric of Cardinal's t-shirt, his skin, muscle, a little oomph when he hits cartilage. He doesn't twist, other hand, warm, coming to settle securely on the other side of the shadowmorph's torso as green eyes try to search out Cardinal's, and then down towards where blood begins to blossom into fabric.

"First, you need medical attention."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License