Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus, Part I



Scene Title Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus, Part I
Synopsis He can rest when he's done.
Date Jan 17, 2010


As the roar of helicopter rotors recedes into the distance, that mushroom cloud of black and pale slowly begins to break up, shadowy fallout swept away on the winds to streak across the snow and the ice, a fountain of boiling ink that collapses back upon itself over the next few hours to drench what remains of the collapsed Amunsen-Scott in wisps of darkness that defy even the eternal sun of an Antarctic summer, looking like nothing less than an oil spill somehow cast across the ice. The snow attempts to reclaim it, howling gusts of wind blowing dust-devils of blinding snow across the edge of the sinkhole cracked into the ice, piling up on rooftops and in shattered rooms as if the pale wraiths of those who died here wished to hide it all beneath their hoary bodies.

In time, that tenebrous shroud burns away under the unfaltering eye of the sun, fading into drifting wisps and then nothing, black giving way to white in a slow but implacable progress. Soon, nothing will remain on the surface to speak of that strange event, at least nothing obvious to the eye… no doubt before long, scientists with top clearance will be dispatched to examine the long-term effects of the transubstantiated eruption of fissile power, hoping to glean hints of physics heretofore unknown to modern science.

Soon, from above, the shadows are gone.

Below, they linger.

In the snow-brushed depths of the sinkhole where the sun can no longer directly see, where the support structure that once held Munin over the depths like the Sword of Damocles over the head of the world has collapsed and curled inwards as possessive claws of metal, the shadows linger here and there. Tatters of darkness twitch and flicker upon the walls as if cast from an old, broken reel-to-reel projector, a mad dance of shapeless silhouettes in firelight that doesn't exist.

The last remnants of the man who caused this anomaly.

The door clicked shut, the lock delicately turned before Sarisa Kershner's cold blue eyes swept back to him. "I like to consider myself someone prepared for most eventualities," she said, her voice quiet to minimize the chances of an eavesdropper, "And I think it's time I discuss something with you, and why I think you might have been so delicately invited along for this assignment."

She hadn't needed to talk to him about it, even, the idea for the failsafe contigency already in his head. He knew it would almost certainly kill him, wasn't sure if it'd work at all even if it did, but the needs of the many… as the inestimable Spock would say. Richard Cardinal's course was set for him a long time ago.

"If you're viewing this recording, Richard, it means that neither myself or my present-day iteration did not survive entering the Pinehearst Building." His blue eyes seem so much duller on this poor-quality camcorder recording. "This also, unfortunately, means that you have volunteered yourself to tie up loose ends resulting from the failure of my work."

Loose ends? Ha! It was more than that, and Ray had known it. It was a road that only had one end, and that end was here, in the cold and dark in Antarctica, a world away from everything the man had known.

The shreds and broken pieces of darkness still moved, twitching spasmically like the last mad motions of a dying man as neurons flared desperately before fading.

"NO!" The scream shouldn't have reached him, not over the roar of the helicopter and the pounding of blood in his ears, but it did - carried with an audiokinetic's strength, defiance and pain and loss torn into the wind just before the countdown ended.


A phone call from Moscow ends, as Cardinal speaks quietly into the line, hanging up before he can get a response. "Love you. See you soon."

…I'm sorry.

Coal black eyes stare down at Cardinal unflinchingly for a time, but eventually those hematite spheres pull away, and the horribly mutilated figure of steel that is Allen Rickham turns to look back where Edward's body had landed in the water. "I've still got a job to finish," he states flatly, a ringing quality to the very end before he turns to head back to the boat, feet of iron causing the dock's boards to groan "We both have work to do…"

One scrap of shadow's desperate, blind lunge finds another. They bleed together, pull apart but are connected by fine tendrils of shadow, draw together once more.

"…we don't rest until we're done." They knew, they all knew. None of them were going to make it out alive.

The moment he realized what he had to do, he knew he was dead. He knew this was the end, that he wouldn't make it out alive. One last sacrifice for redemption; a piece played on Ray's board about to be swept off of it.

The dismembered shadows began to pull together as if by some magnetic force, snapping across the walls as if some light source had flailed wildly to move them, and where they met they meshed together once more, held there by scraps of lingering will.

"If you're viewing this, Richard," Edward Ray stated as he looked up from the floor, staring into the camera, out of the television just for the man he knew would collect the videotape.

The darkness thickens, pulls apart, meshes together again, twisting strands of tenebrous energy trying to put what was torn apart back together.

"…it means that you have work to do."

A sound began to hiss in the darkness beneath the collapsed facility, not that of a serpent or a gas leak but like a man's breath exhaled through clenched teeth as the last scrap of shadows pulled itself into the tattered patchwork of what was once Richard Cardinal.

And with an anguished scream, a shadow is reborn in the darkness.

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