Proof Of Concept


cardinal_icon.gif harmony_icon.gif luther_icon.gif

Scene Title Proof of Concept
Synopsis Richard Cardinal has been reading up on his corporate jargon. He brings together two potentially powerful and dangerous Evolved with experimental (though well-intentioned) plans to heal the heart of New York. And we all know what happens to the best-laid plans.
Date November 30, 2010

Heading towards the Ruins of Midtown

There was a message left for Luther at the front desk this morning, and it was delivered by Jo when he came in. 'The Boss' - by which she meant Cardinal - had asked him to meet him around one o'clock down the block at the coffee shop that people in the building often go to for a pick-me-up. Apparently, there's a job that Richard has for him beyond his usual 'clean things up' duty.

"Donut?" Cardinal, parked in a blue car outside the coffee-shop, offers the box over to the woman in the passenger seat of the car without looking over. He's watching the sidewalk for Luther, sipping the coffee in his hand, squinting just a little through his shades. It's a little bright for him, but it's harder to move people around during the night with the city under martial law.

A little engrossed in her thick, hefty text book, Harmony chills in the passenger side of the vehicle, with her seat slightly reclined so she can rest her bare feet on the dashboard, legs crossed in her tight jeans with belled bottoms, her usual leather jacket resting on her shoulders. The blonde girl licking a finger and flipping to the next page, green eyes skimming over the information before her attention is caught by the offering of sweets.

"Hm?" she peeks up from her perusing. "Huh. I totally didn't even notice you stopped to get those." Harmony smirks, reaching to pluck one of the confections from the box and take a chomp.

Down the block coffee shop, got it. Luther's acknowledgment comes with the man showing up roughly a couple minutes before one, displaying for 'The Boss' that at least the man's work ethic hasn't diminished over years of unemployment and lack of scheduling. Or, perhaps his internal clock is just that good. If it weren't for the recent enactments of martial law and registration, he'd probably get out more, but these days the man stays close by to the security building. A stay-at-home janitor, how quaint. Luther pulls his new-ish coat around him a little closer to fight off the chill, his eyes skimming the area for recognizable authorities. All the more reason to make it to the coffee shop quickly and avoid the cold. As preoccupied as he is with making it to his destination, he passes the blue vehicle holding Cardinal and Harmony within without a second glance inside.

"Being a studious li'l thing, are you?" A smirk's directed over towards the girl, then Cardinal looks back just in time to notice Luther passing by the vehicle. A gloved finger presses onto the power window's button, and it rolls down with a soft hum. He leans his elbow on the window's edge, calling out, "'Ey! Luther, back here… get in, I've got the coffee and donuts in here already."

"It helps my 'situation'." Harmony folds the book closed on her finger to keep her place as she flashes the title to Cardinal. 'Handbook of Radiation Effects' it reads, "The more you know and all that. According to this book, and the other two.. I could essentially learn to fire a laser, which could turn out to be helpful. I can't seem to get the compaction of the light though, I don't have that much control yet." She reaches with her fingers to sweet a few blond curly locks from her face. She arches a brow and looks over as the window goes down, seeing Cardinal flag down the man. She gets herself to a more upright position, sitting correct in her seat.

Luther pulls up short at the hail, causing foot traffic to have to step aside and out of the way. He gets a few eyerolls and mean glances, but not enough to spark any swearing out of the populace. Making his way over, he stands at the rolled down window and casts a glance within to the girl occupying the passenger seat. "Afternoon," he greets her with polite duck of his head before getting in. The man still moves a little stiffly, though whether it be from cold or lingering injury is a toss up. A short glance goes to the book in Harmony's hands, but after a blink of surprise, the man still makes no comment. "You said coffee and donuts?" he echoes in a definitely interested tone; it's the sort of tone acquired by the opportunistic… and the hungry.

"Donuts." The box of donuts is offered to the back seat, and then Cardinal lifts the remaining cup of coffee out of the cup holder and offers it back as well, "Aaaaand…. coffee. There's some creamers in the donut box, I don't know how you take it."

Once the coffee-and-donuts situation is sorted out, he turns back to shift out of park and pull out of the parking space, drifting smoothly into traffic. "Luther, this is Harmony, radiation emission. Harm, this is Luther, energy conversion. The two've you are gonna be working together."

For now, her studying is put on hold as they take on the third passenger. It is not a secret or anything, it is simply polite to not be occupied and distracted when meeting someone. She completely closes the book and sets it aside, starting to do something she doesn't normally do. It is one of those lazy days as far as getting dolled up, for Harmony, and one of those days she would like her hair out of her face, so she starts to gather it up into one big bunch on the top of her head, giving Luther a smile and a nod as he addresses her, and Cardinal introduces, "Hey." she smiles, and then arches a brow, "Working together? You mean like some kind of job to where our abilities compliment each other or something. I'm not sure what energy conversion is, but given what I can do and how it sounds? That's my best guess."

Don't you just love how Cardinal manages to make introductions so interesting? Complete with unexpected factoids about people's personal traits. Luther arches a brow, hiding the bob of his Adam's apple in a nervous swallow of donut bits. "It's kind of like what engines do, taking one kind of energy and turning it into another kind," he explains after the pause. But enough about him, let's talk about… "What is it you want us to be doing, sir?"

Richard Cardinal, revealing other people's secrets without regard for their preference since nineteen eighty-two.

"In two thousand and six," he says as he drives, eyes on the road, "A plot by the Company - I'm sure you've heard about them from the news, half-truths anyway - came to fruition. The heart of New York City was ripped out in a nuclear explosion emanating from a power mimic that had absorbed an extremely unstable form of radiation emission from another Evolved. This was done specifically to push Nathan Petrelli into the national limelight on the way to the White House."

Silence, for a moment. "But you know all that. The radiation's mostly faded. All that's left is what's irradiated at Ground Zero, but it's bad enough that it makes recovery of the idea rather problematic. Modern science can't clean up the area. That's where you two come in."

"Huh." Harmony says to Luther. You learn something new every day. Thanks to Cardinal. Even though he did just spill her business all out in the open. But she figures her had to have a good reason. She trusts him enough not to intentionally try to hurt her. There is a black band around her wrist, which she pulls off to use in wrapping around her gathered hair, putting up a ponytail to keep it all out of her face. "Interesting. That could be pretty useful if you had a perpetual source." See what reading can do for you people?

Harmony had heard of that story, yes. And Cardinal's retelling of it still sets the girl at ill-ease. She was, at one time in her life, that unstable form or radiation, when her powers first manifested. It is also what she is afraid of becoming at some point, should she lose control. "So you want to clean it up too? Well, I'm trying to see if there is a way for me to absorb it ontop of emit. I haven't figured out how yet, but.." she looks back at Luther, "I take it that is what he can possibly do? I mean.. I'm immune to it, so I can wander around in Ground Zero unharmed." she wrinkles her nose, "Kinda funny.. Warren wanted to do the same thing, but then again, I haven't heard anything from him on it so.. I think you were right, Richard."

Luther answers Harmony's comment about his power with a faint shrug. "Sun's pretty much out there everyday," he states. The man falls silent, though, at Cardinal's anecdote. Of course everybody knows what happened. Maybe not the truth, but the what happened stands right at the heart of the city. And in a way, in every person's heart as well - especially Luther's. The man's eyes are on the side of that shaded face, however, studying Cardinal's demeanor. "Like I said before. It'd take a long time. A long time. There's a lot of bad out there. And not all've it is the result of radiation."

"Warren brought the idea up again…" Again? "…but to be honest, I don't trust him to follow through, and I trust even less his ability to gather the necessary people for the job. He's too unstable, even with his… more overtly psychotic impulses forcibly subdued," admits Cardinal, his head shaking just a little bit, "If he's able to follow-through, I'll work with him, but I'm not going to rely on him."

The words from the back seat bring a glance over his shoulder, and a smile twitches a little to his lips. "Something taking a long time doesn't mean that we shouldn't do it, Luther. The future has momentum. It was done, and it can still be done."

"Yeah, I guess you're right." Harmony takes another bite of her donut, conceding to Luther's notion about the sun. Her mind is in another place at the moment. Since the mention of the incident with the bomb, and the need to clean up the mess, she goes into thinking about if she can do it. The desire is there, though the 'how' becomes the issue. "He apparently has some kind of plan. He intended to use me for it, but I dunno what it is. I'm guess you have more of a plan than he does?" she arches a brow, looking over at Cardinal. "I'll help anyway I can."

Picking off the last of the donut crumbs on his pants, Luther takes his time in considering the options presented. "I didn't say I wouldn't do it. But let's face it. People are going to notice after a while. What's your plan, Cardinal? Three against the world?" It's a romantic notion. Harmony's 'how' is the same issue that crosses Luther's mind. "So, Harmony and I go in there and… suck it up?"

"I don't see a lot of people wandering around Ground Zero with geiger counters," Cardinal points out with a quiet chuckle as he takes a corner, shaking his head, "I'm going to talk to Warren, see if he even has a plan. Before we can even come up with anything in detail, though, we need proof of concept. I know you can convert loose energy into harmless forms, but can you… un-irradiate something? Have you ever actually tried?"

Luther's words raise a confused brow from Harmony, "Would it.. really be a bad thing if people noticed that the fallout was gone? I mean.. cleaning it up should be a good thing, right?" Harmony's hands raise to her sides, gesturing along with a shrug of her shoulders. There is probably a bit more to it than she knows at the moment. But still.. she figures Cardinal is right. No one really goes around that area. She knows, she spends time there. "Actually, no I haven't.." she answers Cardinal. "That was what Warren was working on with me. Considering that I'm immune to it? It's assumed that I should be able to absorb it.. I just dunno how. Or maybe use another form of radiation to get rid of another? I've been reading up as much as I can."

Luther drops his gaze down to the half-empty cup of coffee, studying the protective plastic. His head starts to shake, pausing mid-twist as the question comes up. "People are afraid of change. They get comfortable, and even if it's a terrible situation they're in." His gaze lifts towards the rearview mirror afterwards. "I've only figured that if what I can do takes what's there and changes it to something else, then it's gone. Happens with fire, light… radiation…" The man's words drift, as do his eyes.

"So like I said… we lack proof of concept." Someone, who in this case happens to be Cardinal, has been reading books on corporate-speak. "So." He slaps his hands on the wheel, "That's what you two need to do. Experiment. Harmony can work on figuring out her own limits, and irradiate things for Luther to experiment with himself. I've got a whole stack of geiger counters sitting in our Midtown headquarters that you can use to test the results."

"Oh-ho, I see now. Experimentation." Harmony nods with a smirk, as she looks at Luther in the rear view mirror. It isn't a look of doom or anything, but she checks for his response to Cardinal's idea. "Well, I know which forms of radiation I can do so far, and I learned what substances stop them. I could see merit in having him check to see what he can convert." she shrugs her shoulders, "Are we talking.. indirectly? Or directly? Or both? Because I can do both.."

It's not doom Harmony sees in Luther's eyes, but disturbance. He wants to what? Experiment? With radiation? "Whoa. Whoa. You're going to just tell her to turn things toxic, just to have me fix them?" He can't be serious? Oh but he is. With a look on his face like he's just taken a slurp out of a three-day old smoothie, Luther tries to wrap his mind around the bigger picture. The only problem is, his mind wraps with the solidity of tissue paper. "And just what're you planning if, and by this huge if, this all works out?"

"Radioactive, not toxic. It's not like she produces toxic waste when she uses her ability," Cardinal reassures the other man, if poorly, taking a sip of his coffee as he takes a turn towards the worse parts of the city closer to the ruined section. He gestures with the gently-steaming cup, "If we can figure out a good way to clean up the radiation, then we'll find out how much you can do without risking hurting yourselves. And then we'll see what we can do with an amplifier involved."

"Actually, Richard.." Harmony smirks, "I think he means the toxic effects that certain types of radiation can cause. Ionizing radiation to be exact: Alpha, Beta, Gamma rays.. which I can pull off." Harmony's lips press together firmly as she solidifies a thought. "Yeah.. this is gonna have to be done a little delicately. I'm not sure how much he can convert and how fast, so if I push out more than he can change over at one time, we run the risk of him getting exposure to dangerous levels of radiation." One hand comes up and rubs her eyes, "Gosh.. It does kinda sound fucked up, the more you think about it. And then amplifying it?" Harmony sighs, "If you're sure.. and if Luther is okay with it.."

Luther wipes a hand down his face, not looking too reassured. And yet. "You know, since I met you," he remarks at Cardinal, "I've done some pretty crazy things. I've come face to face with the woman who I was supposedly saved in an alternate dimension, been chased down and bodyslammed against a wall by an - admittedly - beautiful woman with superstrength, got hurled back through time to face a psychokiller and stop a future-murderer, and nearly caught my death at the end of a shotgun barrel. Now you're asking me to help you undo the effects of what was equivalent to some nuclear bomb… and the weirdest thing out of all of this is that I'm going to say yes. I'll help you, Richard Cardinal." He blinks, the words lingering awkwardly after leaving him. Luther furrows his brow. "Even if only because you're the maddest hatter of the bunch in this wonderland."

The scientific babble gets a somewhat blank look from Cardinal. Science is not his strong point. Then Luther runs down the list of madness, and he lets out a bark of laughter, looking back to the road ahead. "…christ, you don't even know the really crazy stuff yet, Luther," he observes in dark amusement, "Trust me. Things only get weirder from here. But, God willing, we can make a difference."

As Luther goes rattling of the things that Cardinal has gotten him into, Harmony gives Richard a peculiar look. Did he really get him into all of this mess? Geez.. She doesn't say anything out against it, or in any addition to it, but she rather just files it away for a reminder of what riding with Richard Cardinal is like. "Well, like I said. I'm in. But.. I'm not gonna be held responsible if like.. he gets cancer or mental retardation from radiation exposure.. just sayin." the blond girl gives another shrug and settles back into her seat, planting her feet back up on the dashboard as she finishes off her donut.

Luther turns to Harmony, his chin lifting as he states with a little more smarting pride and flash of indignation, "I can take whatever you want to dish out. I've moved through the heart of Midtown plenty of times, and I can assure you that I'm not affected. Just as long as I stay focused." Man-moment cooled, he polishes off the last of his coffee and clears his throat, sitting back against the backseat. "When do you want to start?" The question is posed to both front occupants.

The car pulls up along the side of the road, and Cardinal's hand drops to slide it into park. "We'll have to walk the rest of the way," he reports, twisting in his seat to look to the other two with a smile crooking up at one corner of his mouth, "We'll show Luther how to get into the library, and then the two of you can work out whatever schedule and experiments you think would work for you. I don't think you're going to need me looking over your shoulders ever step of the way."

"You two ready to start healing the heart've New York?"

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