Questions for Sheridan


cardinal_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Questions for Sheridan
Synopsis Endgame has some, and so does the Ferry. Eileen and Cardinal agree to work together for the sake of finding answers.
Date June 19, 2010

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

The slow dawning of the sun over the horizon and its steady creep towards the heights of the heavens leaves its light to be filtered through the low-hanging pollution that lingers as a shroud and pall across the city of New York - a bloodied streak across the sky that matches the smear of rust in the waters around the boat graveyard off the coast of Staten Island. The old bones of shattered dreams and sailor's fancies gut out from the reddish waves, creaking and groaning softly on the tides. The level of the water is higher than usual thanks to all the melt, and some of the piers that used to jut out as splintered wooden death-walks into the water have been swamped.

The long shadow of Cardinal's coporeal form is cast over the shore where he's walking along, pausing beside the beached hulk of an old rowboat. He lifts one foot up onto its rusted hull, and then the other, arms held out to balance for a moment, gaze hidden by sunglasses swept along the beach to watch for the woman he's meeting here.

She isn't difficult to find.

Queen of the gulls and cormorants, she sits on a barnacle throne atop an overturned fishing boat stripped of paint, small feet clad in a pair of scuffed Doc Martens that contrast with the softer material of her black leggings and oversized wool sweater in charcoal gray, its weave heavy and dense to protect her from morning's damp chill. Although she wears no crown, the light creates a halo around her dark-haired head and gives her chalk pale skin a luminous if wan glow.

One of the seabirds perched on her on her shoulder and feeding from the bag of stale bread she holds in her lap lifts its head and turns one oily eye in Cardinal's direction, letting the Englishwoman know that her rendezvous has arrived.

At the sight of her, a smile tugs itself up at the corner of Cardinal's lips. He hops down the other side of the small boat, buried in wet sand, and treads along across towards her.

He's wearing a Chicago Air flight jacket against the morning, hands tucked into its pockets, his booted feet leaving deep imprints over the sand. Before long, he's drawing closer to conversational distance, greeting in an affable tone, "Eileen. Good to see you again…"

"Richard." Eileen raises her hand furthest from Cardinal to her mouth, revealing slim, delicate fingers with a lit cigarette pinched between them. She turns her head in the direction of his voice, her chin tucked almost shyly against the cormorant's wing as smoke leaks from her nose and mouth, past parted lips, and although she seems to be looking past rather than at him, the bird's stare is steady, unwavering.

The feeling is probably mutual. "What can I do for you?"

"Always business…" The faintest of smiles tugs itself up at the corner of Cardinal's lips, his head shaking just a touch as he looks back to the seabird for a moment. Then a slight motion brings his attention back to the queen of the skies upon her thrown of shattered wood and spreading barnacles.

He lifts his chin ever so slightly, noting, "I understand that you have an interest in Bella Sheridan, at least according to Jensen."

Eileen pulls on the cigarette, leaving a smudge of lipstick on its filter when her mouth comes away and she uses her knuckles to brush them along the cormorant's glossy black back, careful not to singe its feathers. "My interest in Dr. Sheridan," she says, "starts and ends with a theory of Catherine's. Some of our operatives have gone missing."

"So have some of mine," Cardinal replies with a cant of his head to one side, that smile fading for a more serious expression, "They were taken by the Institute, of course. Ms. Sheridan's employer." His gaze follows that cigarette as she pulls it away, some thought-forgotten urge for nicotine twinging in the back of his thoughts before he looks back to her seriously, "I imagine you have some questions for her. So do I."

Eileen's hand dips back into the bag, cigarette carefully balanced, and comes back out again with a small piece of crust held between her fingertips, which is swiftly snapped up by a greedy gull at her knee. Another alights on the boat's bow. Two more nearby, dropping out of the sky like great gray stones with flashing beaks and raucous voices. The Englishwoman's face undergoes a subtle change that Cardinal might miss if he isn't looking for it involving the corners of her mouth and the shape it takes in response to the accusation. Bella Sheridan works for the Institute?

"What evidence have you got?"

Cardinal's head tilts a bit up to the sudden descent of the gulls - a twitch of his lips, albeit brief before his hidden gaze returns once more to the slight woman who feeds their greedy gullets. "The Company's on the verge of collapse," he informs her in a quiet voice, "The dee-oh-jay is just about to pull the plug on it. They're barely keeping afloat just with normal operations."

A pause, and then— "Doctor Sheridan, on the other hand," he smirks, "Has been working on developing a retrovirus to establish the SLC in someone's genetic code. It's currently being tested on a particularly psychotic asshole named Mortimer Jack."

If Eileen didn't have more than one question for Sheridan before, then she does now. "Jensen and Catherine were going to conduct an interview," she says, which is more than likely a euphemism for something entirely, knowing the King of Swords, "but there's no point in doing this separately when our goals coincide. Maybe the three of you could visit her together?"

"I can get her out into the open," Cardinal offers, tipping his head in a slight nod, "I'd be happy to work with them… we've worked together before." One hand lifts from a pocket, gloved fingers rubbing to his jaw, "What about Thatcher? Telepath's always a useful extra hand when you're dealing with interrogation."

"Of course." With a flick of her thumb, Eileen taps ash from the tip of the cigarette and abandons it to the breeze wafting off the water. Either it's a decision that doesn't take a lot of thought, or one that she's held cupped in her hands for awhile and is only now ready to set free. "You'll have Thatcher, and anyone else you think you'll need."

"That should be fine," says Cardinal with a slight shake of his head, "Any larger than that and things would get… unwieldy. The more ears that hear secrets, the more faces and voices that can be remembered… I'll talk to Jensen about planning it out, then. He's a hell of a lot more experienced with this sort've thing than I am."

He hesitates a moment, then, before asking, "Did Wireless pass on my warning?"

Bella is probably fortunate that it will be Cardinal and Raith conducting this operation and not Eileen herself. His observation about ears and secrets, faces, voices and the problem with memory receives a smile entirely without mirth that does not come anywhere close to reaching her eyes… which are telling him that there's very easy way to ensure that Bella doesn't pass anything onto her superiors after Endgame and the Ferry have finished with her. "Which warning was that?"

It's difficult to tell what Cardinal's feeling; the shades he wears reflect only black with a hint of a rainbow sheen to them, in this resembling some of the water of the bay itself. "I believe that Messiah's going to be making a… major push soon," he says, taking a closer step to her so that his voice can lower even further, "And it's going to be violent. The counterstrike's more likely to hit the Ferry than us, or Messiah, or Phoenix - you're going to want to be ready for it."

"I'm aware of the situation with Messiah." There sounds like there should be more to it than that. Eileen runs her tongue across her front teeth and turns her head away from Cardinal, warming her face against the sun with eyes hooded, veiled by dewy lashes. Another drag from the cigarette and she flicks it into the sand. Mistaking it for another piece of bread, several of the younger gulls launch themselves after it and slap at one another with their wings a few feet away from where Cardinal is standing, though it doesn't take them very long to lose interest upon learning that it isn't edible after all.

"We'll be ready."

"I hope you will be," Cardinal replies, in the sort of tone that means I doubt you will be at the same time as it's spoken. One has to keep up a facade of believing the other person's able to deal with things, though. The struggle between the gulls is watched with a bit of a smile, his head shaking a little before he looks back to her, "…how've you been, anyway? Haven't seen you since penguin-land."

"I've had my highs and lows," Eileen answers, and it's maybe the most sincere thing she's said during the duration of their brief conversation. "You don't have to pretend to be interested in my well-being," she adds, and that's sincere, too, without being unkind. "In case you've forgotten, that never ends well for either of us."

At that gentle chiding, Cardinal lets a sigh pass his lips — head turning to one side to look down the beach and away from her, silent for a few moments. "Whatever you want, Eileen," he says quietly after that handful of heartbeats, looking back to her, "S'pose we're done with business, then. Send Jensen my way, and I'll see you around."

A turn, and he starts to walk along the beach's edge - not back the way he came, but in the other direction, continuing onwards.

Eileen murmurs something into the cormorant's neck, and as Cardinal turns to go, the great black bird opens itself to the breeze and lets the wind carry it off the Englishwoman's shoulder before it gives a few quick but powerful thrusts of its wings, rising higher. Wherever he's going, it will see him there — or to the end of the beach.

Whichever comes first.

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