Old Friend


broome_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif

Scene Title Old Friend
Synopsis By invoking Edward Ray's name, Simon Broome finds himself visited by Richard Cardinal and has a conversation a long time in the making.
Date July 21, 2010

New York Public Library

A long time ago, this place used to be filled with people eager to learn. In a way, that symbolism of the New York Public Library has been maintained in the shelter it has served for organizations willing to learn and adapt in a struggling world. Under cover of night, beneath the gibbous moon ducked halfway behind gray clouds, the Library's exterior of blasted concrete, granite and steel makes it impossible to imagine it ever served as anything once.

Blastwave scarred copper lions glisten with beads of rainwater from the days earlier thunderstorm and puddled of stagnant water fill the depression in broken pavement out front of the building like a makeshift reflecting pool, showing the pale glow of the moon in its mirror-still surface.

Up those crumbling, old steps of the library and in through its blasted halls, the evident harm that the Great Storm did to this structure is clear. More of the ceiling has collapsed down in on itself, twisted pieces of rebar studded with broken concrete let in shafts of moonlight to touch against broken floor tiles, molded sheetrock walls and tangled masses of wiring from attempts to refit the library's interior.

Through a crack in the floor, the lower levels are practically an abyss, swallowed by darkness save for a colossal hole in the western wing of the library where a portion of the Chrysler building smashed through the roof. A six ton chunk of a skyscraper now laye at the bottom of a hole where jagged rock, loose sheets of paper and a carpeting of waterlogged and destroyed books once made up the Richard B. Salomon Research Reading Room.

Shattered glass coated with dust, dirt and grime litters the floor bwteen destroyed books, broken tables and splintered wood. It is a realm of silence and stillness, save for the dripping of water and the distant city noises that echo like haunted memories of a Midtown long gone through the ruins.

Richard Cardinal used to call this home. To come back here, now, after the end of the storm, and at the fore of the thunderhead of a more metaphorical storm would only be because of something important. The letter he received at Elisabeth Harrison's apartment was the impetus for this. Written on a typewriter, printed on recycled paper, the request to be present in this reading room on this date at this time of night and alone could only be agreed upon if the message came from one person.

Edward Ray.

To his credit, this is exactly what Simon Broome was hoping.

Seated at one of the few intact reading tables under glow of moonlight, the elderly figure of Doctor Simon Broome sits in stoic silence, his ink-shaded suit as black as night, hair as gray as the concrete of the building as face easily as weathered.

A dog-eared, battered and clearly salvaged copy of "A Wrinkle in Time" is folded open in his large hands, glasses perched on the bridge of his nose where he sits, reading the book in wait for the shadow to come heed his call.

A long time ago, this place used to be filled with people eager to learn.

Perhaps that remains the same today.

"I wonder why you don't think I'll kill you." Kill you…

An echo that whispers through the shadows of the reading room as a presence slides through the shadows, drifting warily about the seated figure as he asks the question - rhetorically phrased, but there's a true question to it.

"It could solve everyone a great deal of trouble, Doctor Brum."

The name is pronounced as his father's was, the accent on the Germanic rather than the Americanization that happened to many of the scientists brought over as part of Project Paperclip. Perhaps a subtle reminder that he knows who the other man is. Knows part of his history. If only a sliver.

Richard Cardinal steps from the shadows, then, across from the table where the man stands. A gun in his hand, a short and brutish thing. An OTs-38 Stechkin, a relic dating back to the Cold War and one of the last gifts that Fedor gave him. An assassin's weapon. Silent and vicious.

It isn't raised, though, just held as the Red King stops across from the Institute's shadowy administrator, one brow ticking up over the edge of his shades as he asks, "I suppose you've got a reason why I shouldn't."

Folding the book closed slowly, Simon creases his brows and lays it down on the table, the cover to the paperback so worn that the details are bleached out by sunlight and barely visible. Pushing it aside, Simon's dark eyes lift from its weathered pages towards Cardinal and his held out gun, lacking any real emotive response on his aged face. There's silence on his end, but not stillness. Reaching up into the handkerchief pocket on the front of his suit, Broome pulls out something small, glossy and black with his fingers, then sets it down on the table with a click of stone on wood.

When his fingers pull back, there's a black king chess piece revealed; It's old, chipped and cracked. Moving his fingertips to the table's top, Simon pushes the chess piece forward across the table, the corners of his mouth down-turning into a frown only briefly before his hand withdraws.

There's a few more moments of silence as Broome's hands fold in front of himself, his eyes divert down to the table top and then shift to the chess piece, and back towards the darkness where Cardinal's voice had called out. "Hello, old friend."

"I've dealt with Petrelli, Volken… Ray… some cheap theatrics aren't going to impress me," is Cardinal's response, rough to cover up the confusion stirring behind eyes hidden by his shades. Why would the head of his enemy show up here, without backup, in the middle of his old headquarters? And act as if he knew him?

The Stechkin drops down to his side, his thumb resting on the hammer as he looks down to the chess piece, then back up, "…if you have something to say, Brum, say it."

"No theatrics, Richard." Simon notes in a reserved tone of voice, shaking his head slowly. Leaning back in the chair, Simon rests his elbows on the arms and steeples his fingers, brows furrowed and eyes cast across the long table towards Cardinal. "I know this isn't exactly what you were expecting, but I thought it might be good for you and I to have a conversation… because I have a feeling that there may be temptations in your path leading you astray from what's important."

Only briefly looking down at the chess piece, Simon looks back up to Cardinal with the brefiest hint of a smile. "I didn't know any other way that I could get an audience with you, and I know right now you're still Edward's, that left me with the one reliable path and I regret having to use deception on you."

Unfolding his hands and leaning forward, Simon folds one hand around a closed fist and rests it on the table, setting his weight somewhat on his arms. He must be very mobile for a parapalegic to get all the way down here in a wheelchair that isn't anywhere in sight. "I wanted to talk to you about our vision for the future, I think it's only fair."

"You're talking as if you know me," Cardinal states the obvious, although there's a hint of derision to it, the pistol holstered beneath his arm before he draws the chair before him out - a step around it, and he drops back to be seated, arms folding over his chest and gloved hands tucking out of sight as he regards the man through his shades.

"Whatever you've pulled out of Edward's head - either of them - doesn't tell you anything about me, Brum. The man may be - have been - brilliant, but he's blind to more than he realizes," he says flatly, dismissively, "But I'll hear you out. Even Jesus sat and listened to the Devil's schpiel."

Broome exhales a sigh, lifting up a hand to his mouth to tiredly scrub across wrinkled lips before looking back up to Cardinal. "There's only one Edward Ray, at least… anymore. We were only able to recover one of him from Pinehearst's ruins, the other had already died by the time we found his remains. His corpse was taken for research purposes, his brain maintained in our custody but of no further use to us. The Edward of this timeline has been in a catatonic state since his altercation with Tyler Case. A combination of telepathy, psychometry and conventional technology has allowed us to tap into his currently hyper-accelerated state of consciousness to… marginal success."

Scratching at the side of one of his hands, Simon looks across the table to Cardinal, then down to the chess piece betwen them. "I know you must have reservations about what the Institute is doing, Richard, and I understand why. You only see the reaction of others based on our actions, not the whole length and breadth of our work and what we're planning."

Looking up to Cardinal again, Broome smiles. "I know you have probably heard worse people than I make this claim before, but the work the Institute is doing is for the future survival of humanity, Evolved and Non-Evolved alike."

"You're maintaining a collection of severed heads, Brum," Cardinal points out in rather dry tones, both eyebrows raising upwards a little bit, "You retain a baby-murdering cannibal and a man who nearly killed everyone in New York City under a sheet of ice as your employees. You have to admit, that sounds more like the plot of a Rob Zombie film than anything that's working towards the survival of humanity."

A slight lean forward, brows raising a touch, "You have to admit. Your PR firm sucks."

"Necessary precautions. If you had the opportunity to turn one of the most dangerous yet brilliant scientific minds around towards your own ends, ends that you knew would ensure the survival and hope of humanity as we know it… you would make the deal with that devil too, Richard." Rubbing his palms together, Simon seems regretful, his head dipping forward and brows lowering. "I'm surprised you know about the heads, though, you're further along than I'd thought, which makes me less hesitant about this meeting."

Looking up from his hands, Simon shakes his head slowly. "I never wanted to cause you the trouble I have, but I have a feeling that this was inevitable until we had this chance to catch up. Dmitri Gregor is a brilliant scientist who has made leaps and bounds in the understanding of Evolved genomics and physiology, all important factors when it comes to rebuilding the Formula in the absence of its most vital ingredient — the Catalyst."

Folding his hands together, Simon's brows crease together. "Arthur Petrelli and Jonas Zimmerman took a shortcut with the catalyst, their shortcut utilizing Ishi Nakamura's unique ability allowed them to perform a feat of genetic engineering decades ahead of their time."

Smiling softly, Broome seems content to note, "That time is now, Richard. The Formula isn't a dream any longer, it's an iminent reality."

"You really don't know me, do you, Brum…?" Richard's head shakes ever so slightly, the faintest of smiles touching his lips as Broome admits that he was surprised that he knew about the heads. If there's a sin to Cardinal's heart, it's certainly pride. Wrath may be a close second.

He leans in a bit, brows raising slightly, "I'll humor you. Assume that you've managed to produce the Formula. What then?"

"Then we give it to the whole world," is Simon's flat assessment. "From what I know of the future that Arthur Petrelli should have made for us, there was stability and peace, at the cost of a totalitarian regime. We're currently finding ourselves moving towards that very goal, towards the very totalitarian government that Arthur controlled with the Formula. My goal is to learn from Arthur's mistakes, his madness, and craft a brighter and better future for us all from his lesson plan. He had the right idea, but his execution was lacking."

Motioning towards the chess piece, as if demonstratively, Broome continues his explanation. "Arthur's main problem with the Formula lied in its inherently unstable design, by in large made responsible due to the Catalyst's nature, as far as we have been able to discern thanks to Jonas' assistance. You see, the Formula — while made available — was like an awkward version of the right to bear arms."

"You were handed an unmarked case, and within could be anything from a water-gun, to a nuclear bomb." Both of Broome's brows rise at this point. "We're going to take out the chance from it. Tailored, custom made Formulas of every single catalogued ability in our archive. The twins you have seem to take a vested interest in, Julie and Liette, are a part of that program. Their very DNA is a roadmap of every single Evolved ability they have ever been in contact with, they are the Rosetta Stone."

Creasing his brows and tilting his head down, Broome offers a hopeful smile. "We hope to be able to synthesize the Formula so that you can choose which ability you want, the dangerous ones can be controlled and maintained, and an active cure for the Evolved can be discovered for those who are born with abilities that they do not want, instead of detaining them."

"So how, exactly, is this any different from what Arthur was doing…? If not worse," Cardinal points out as he leans back with a rather cynical snort of breath, one brow arching upwards, "You're not going to just hand it out to the world, give everyone free abilities. No. The rich and the powerful, they'll regenerate, they'll persuade and control. The soldiers will wield the elements against your enemies. The only difference, Brum, is that you won't need to rule from the shadows, like Arthur was… because in your future, there won't be anyone to stop you."

"Do you really think I know so little of what you're doing? Do you think I'm completely fucking blind?" Derision thick in his voice, his head shaking slowly, "If you were approaching this like someone who actually believed what you said, sure, maybe I'd buy it. But you're gathering monsters, to do monstrous things, on innocent fucking people. On my people. And I don't think for a moment that you aren't a monster yourself, you heartless sonuvabitch."

"Our people…" Simon murmurs, and for the barest of moments he looks hurt — honestly hurt — but what Cardinal says. Looking askance, there's a slow shake of his head and a faint smile afterward. "Not the rich or the powerful, not the select or the few… the world. I don't— can't— expect you to understand it right now, Richard. I know better, I know how things have to go. But what's being done at the Institute isn't entirely what you're thinking— what has been happening at the satellite hospital. I'm big enough to pick up after my own mess, but…"

Frowning faintly, Simon looks across the table. "Eve is doing better now, since she was brought in. We have her dreaming for us, yes, but Eve has been undergoing psychological therapy for the trauma she received as a child. She has been receiving medication, training… did you know she is one of the single most powerful precognitives in the entire world?"

Looking down to the table, Simon offers a more hesitant smile. "She's dreaming clearer onw, more frequently, and without the trauma that she had. My father was a monster, Richard, a Nazi and a despicable human being bent on conquering the world through science in the name of the Fuhrer. I may share his genes, I may have had to do ugly things for the sake of the future, but I am no more my father than you are yours."

Folding his hands together in his lap, Simon looks down to them ponderously. "You know more about what I'm doing than you're even aware of right now, Richard. But that's not a conversation for now, and it's most certainly not a conversation for me. I've said my peace and told you what I've needed to… but I do want to warn you, Richard. You can't trust Edward Ray, none of us can."

"You know how things have to go. Arthur knew how things have to go. Edward knows how things have to go…" There's anger, now, a thread of it through Richard's voice as he tosses the man's words back to him, "…you know what? I don't know how things have to go. I never claimed to, but I know how things aren't supposed to go. And this is exactly how… with some smug bastard telling me how everything he does is right, we all just have to sit back and enjoy the ride while they make a new future for humanity."

Cardinal doesn't make futures. He kills them.

"I'm not my father, no. I don't know the man; never met him. I'm not Edward either—the last time I talked to that sonuvabitch I shot him for killing a friend of mine," he states darkly, "Actions speak louder than words. Your actions don't make you look any different than the men who signed Mengele's paycheck."

"Do you really want to convince me that you're the good guys, Brum?"

"No, Richard, you convince me I am." SLowly pushing his chair back from the table, Simon looks at the shadowmorph with furrowed brows and a hesitant smile, reaching slowly inside of his suit jacket to retrieve a heavy looking .45 revolver from his underarm holster, one dark brow raised as he motions towards Cardinal with the gun.

"You're already clearly aware of what lengths you're willing to go through in order to protect your own vision of the future, Richard, who you're willing to kill in order to see that done. All I'm asking you to do, all I'm begging you to do, is to not make the same mistake twice, and trust the wrong people until it's too late to turn back."

As the older man reaches for his own weapon, Richard's is already out; the stubby pistol whose history is drenched in the nightmares of the Cold War perhaps serving as an appropriate metaphor for this entire conversation as the barrel remains steady on the administrator of the Institute.

"You have Edward," he says simply, flatly, "I don't see how you expect me to be trusting him, following him, given that him and all his plans are locked up in one of your medical wings, Brum."

Lifting the revolver's barrel up to his temple, Broome arches one brow. "I know about the list, Richard, and I know you regret killing her for the rest of your life." Those dark, black eyes stare squarely at Cardinal for only a second longer before Broome adds "I'll see you again," before squeezing the trigger of the .45.

A cacophonous echo of the high-caliber handgun's discharge echoes through the basement as a spray of red explodes from the side of Simon's head, spraying across the wall and floor as his gun hand jerks awaym the revolver hitting the ground at the same time his battered body missing the lion's share of skull and brain matter hits the floor.

In the heartbeat that follows, the echo has faded and silence has come to the library again.

The black king chess piece stands lonely on the table.

As the barrel of the pistol comes up to the side of the man's head, Cardinal's own weapon lowers, his brow furrowing in confusion… and then those words bring a snap of his own dark eyes to the other man, his jaw tightening in anger. "I don't know what you think you know, you son of a bitch, but— "

A trigger is pulled, and the side of the man's head literally explodes across the room from the exit wound of the bullet, leaving him staring in shock for a few long moments as the gunshot's echo fades in the reading room's silence. Slowly, puzzle pieces link up together in his mind, and he pushes himself up to his feet, the pistol holstered once more.

"Well," he says quietly, flatly, to nobody at all, "At least we know we were right about Dumont."

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