Richard Cardinal's Dead


cardinal_icon.gif luis2_icon.gif

Scene Title Richard Cardinal's Dead
Synopsis Stubborn meets stubborn to argue - is there hope left in the world?
Date December 4, 2011

Birchwood Resort, Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

It’s a cold winter day, the chill of the outdoors held mercifully at bay by the modern miracle of central heating and the wonders of window sealant. The view’s spectacular at least, as it always is, the wonders of nature spreading out from the resort to remind those nursing their wounds that not all of the world is a place of chaos and concrete, steel and glass. The branches of trees sway in the wind like a conductor’s hands, and the clouds drift above through an uncaring sky.

The wounds in question take many forms. Some of them are wounds of the heart; the mourning of the absent and the lost, death’s scythe having left others to bleed in the course of its harvest. Some are of the mind, the weight of survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress weighing upon those who’ve survived the battlefields of the past few years - November the 8th not the least of those fields.

And some are literal, like a knife expertly plunged between ribs to collapse a lung.

The hardwood floors creak softly now and then beneath Richard Cardinal’s feet, drawing silent as he stops before one of the bedrooms of the cabin. He’s dressed nicely today, a black suit jacket and pants, a black shirt beneath. A pair of sunglasses perched upon the bridge of his nose even though he no longer needs to worry about the blinding - it’s habit, at this point, like a one-armed man who keeps checking his watch. A file folder tucked beneath one arm, he raises the other, and raps on the door.

The door swings open when knuckles touch it. Just enough for Richard to be able to tell it wasn't fully closed. Seated on his bed, pillows stacked up behind his back, Doctor Jean-Martin Luis has a yellow stationary pad in his blanket-swathed lap and a frown creasing his bearded face. He looks up when the door opens, expression momentarily inscrutable before settling on something more resigned.

Luis sets the pad aside on his night stand beside an empty tea cup and a plate of crumbs. “Mister Cardinal,” is delivered with the same weight it had when he addressed the other Cardinal, and there's a fraught tone in Luis’ voice that show he can't be absolutely sure he isn't.

“I was drafting a list of the people that I, retroactively, believe I may have caused undue harm to in the course of my career pursuits.” Luis eyes the stationary pad, pen still in his hand. “I believe I've run out of paper.” There's a rueful, half-joking smile at that. But Luis digresses, “By all means, though. Step into my office.”

"Doctor Luis." The hint of a smile tugs up at the corner of Richard's lips as he steps through the door, one hand falling to gently close it in his wake. "I've got a similar list, laying around somewhere," he admits, his tone wry as he steps inside, looking down at the man, "It's a good start."

He draws in a slow breath, then exhales it, one hand coming up to slip off his sunglasses. "Before we— get to business, I have to ask," he says, looking seriously to the older man, his tone softer, "Have they told you what happened during the evacuation of the Ark?"

The casualty list was extensive. And he isn't sure if anyone thought to tell Luis, of all people, who died in that ditch.

“Not directly,” Luis admits in a small voice, “but the walls here are thin, and they were understandably horrified.” Tired eyes redirect to Cardinal from a distant point in space. “If you're here to imply that I had anything to do with that ghoulish massacre, you may want to turn around and walk back out the door.”

Lips downturned into a frown, Luis draws in a deep breath, then exhales a weary sigh. “The Ark was never intended to harm anyone,” is said defensively, but then after a beat, “but we both know what the path to hell is paved with, don't we?”

"That we do, Doc, that we do…" Cardinal rakes a hand back through his hair, gaze drifting to the ceiling for a moment. Chin dipping back down, he returns his attention to Luis, that hand lifting again in a motion of reassurance. "I'm not— I'm not here to lay blame, or make any implications, no."

"I was reviewing your file before I came over here. And I was reviewing the casualty report from that— that massacre, the ambush at the escape route. And…" This is hard. It's very, very hard. His gaze settles on the other man's face, and he says gently, "Juliette Fournier didn't make it."

Luis’s expression sinks, eyes casting to the side. There's a stony somberness that comes over him, but the tension at the corner of his eyes and his mouth shows truer things. When he looks back to Cardinal it's with a certain emptiness. “Both of them?”

A slight shake of Cardinal's head. "I don't have details, but… only one of them is on the list. Liette," he tells the older man, his tone gentle, "I'm sorry. I can try and get some details about Julie for you. As far as I know she made it out safe with the Ferrymen."

Luis sniffs noisily, then scrubs a hand at his beard. “She'll be suffering from psychological withdrawals. Julie’s rarely been without her sister’s empathic link. It's— it will be like a phantom limb. All of their shared abilities will be lost. That will— she'll need regular monitoring for symptoms resembling postpartum depression.”

Diagnosing the issue rather than facing it, Luis swallows noisily and looks over to his empty teacup. “She'll need to be— hooked up to her dialysis machine for another three weeks. Then tapered off of Claire Bennet’s blood. By then her antibodies should be repaired and the new antimalarials will do the rest.”

Looking back to Cardinal, Luis frowns visible and the look seems gargoylish on his creased face. “Thank you for— informing me,” has a very dismissive tone to it: thank you, now go.

"I'll have D.Crypt relay the medical information over to them, in case they don't have it already. And I'll make sure she knows you're alright…" Richard hesitates a moment at that dismissive tone before reaching over, a hand marked with black as if another hand had once grasped it resting briefly on the older man's shoulder. "We all lost someone, I think. I know it's hardest to lose… a child. I'm sorry. I wanted to make sure you knew, at least." Not really his child. But, clearly, he felt that way regardless.

He draws back, then, but he doesn't head for the door. He heads for the window, gazing out it for a few moments. "Too many people lost too many people," he continues, a sigh spilling with his words, "And in the end there's nobody to blame but Richard Cardinal, I guess."

“We all played our parts,” Luis opines grimly, looking to the hand Cardinal lays on his shoulder. There's a moment where Luis squints, eyes the black mark as if he recognizes it as something, but then goes silent and looks away. “Simon had his doubts towards the end, which… I suppose is why he chose to do the things he did. He believed in you,”

Luis makes no distinction between he and his doppelgänger, craning his neck to look up to Cardinal. “He said you were different, before you passed away. I don't think you were ever meant to come back the way you did. We…” Luis closes his eyes. “We did the impossible, and God himself punished us for it. Our hubris truly knew no bounds.”

Wetting his lips, Luis closes his eyes part way and seems tired; tired of everything. “We were all sold a dream that turned to ashes in our eyes. Now,” Luis’ expression turns rueful, “we’re in uncharted territory. We weren't supposed to be here anymore.”

"If Samson'd done his job properly back in the seventies… I think Simon could've done a lot of good for the world. I think you all could have," Richard admits, one hand coming up to rub against his face. He's tired too.

"Richard Cardinal was a murderer of futures. And he was good at it," he says quietly, "Strings and seers and prophets would line them up, and he'd shoot them down… pow, pow, pow." Finger-guns at the window, as if shooting down cans on a fence. "But eventually he ran out."

A turn of his head regards the man with a gaze heavy with guilt, "And there weren't any futures left. Just a handful of dust. I guess he figured if he could kill the present, too… he could undo all his mistakes. Maybe you're right, maybe Doc didn't bring him back right. I don’t know how he could’ve gone that path, how he could’ve done all this. Maybe… I don't know."

He sighs, looking out the window but not seeing anything, "Like you said. Hubris."

"But Richard Cardinal's dead. I killed him myself. And now… again, like you said. We're in uncharted territory. There's no supposed to be anymore."

“So where do we go from here, Jean Martin?”

“I suppose that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?” Luis remarks as he folds his hands in his blanket-covered lap. “Unfortunately, I’m out of answers to life’s great mysteries, Richard. I’ve spent all of my adult life searching for God’s secrets tucked behind the canvas of the universe, and it cost me everything.”

Brows furrowed together, Luis looks aside to the notepad by his bed. “There are things I know, things that could reignite the research done by the Institute, and…” he squints, shaking his head slowly. “I could think of no worse fate. What we did should never be repeated… it was,” Luis’ stare becomes distant and unfocused, “it was the work of a madman.

Shifting his stare up to Cardinal, Luis has a wondering look in his eyes. “What is it you intend to do now, with this… future full of potential in your hand?”

As the question's asked of him, Richard's silent for a long minute. Maybe he doesn't even know himself. Finally, he speaks.

"You're right. It was the work of a madman, but… there was work being done that wasn't, Jean Martin," he observes quietly, "The Garden of Eden project could be adapted to reinvigorate war-torn areas. Some of your research could easily be used to help Evolved who have problems with their abilities, or who've suffered mishaps. I'm sure there's a dozen projects that I never knew about, because they were benign."

He turns away from the window, but leans against the frame, offering a wry smile to the weary scientist, "My father once told me in a letter that he knew I could do what must be done. I can't believe he only meant all this death."

"My name is Richard Ray," he says, and for the first time in their conversation there's conviction in his voice, "And we both owe the world a great deal. I think it's time we tried to pay some of that debt back, Jean Martin. Don't you?"


Luis’ eyes narrow at the name, suddenly his expression sinks and he looks to the side. For a while, Luis is quiet, one hand raising to cover his mouth as he thinks. Then, closing his eyes and shaking his head he looks back to Richard. “All the good intentions in the world won’t matter with the temperature of the world being so cold to your kind,” your kind. He doesn’t know.

“The government is moving forward with a mandatory sterilization program. While I was with the Institute, Simon pushed back fervently against such ideas, prevent outright replications of the Holocaust. But I fear now, without his voice, without the Institute’s leash to keep them in check…” Luis looks to the empty cup of tea. “Richard, I do not believe there is hope enough for any of us.”

When he finally looks back from the teacup, it’s with resigned fear. “You should run,” Luis offers with emotion in his voice. “Run as far as you can, and never look back. The only thing left for you, for anyone, in this horrible world is death. They’ll be coming for you all before the year is up. I don’t need to be Tamara Brooks to see that.”

"They've already come for us," is Richard's sharp response to the other man's fatalism, stepping over and setting one hand flat upon the nightstand, leaning in slightly, "The country is under martial law. The President went with the nuclear blast that wiped out half of Manhattan, and Mitchell took over. He started the executions immediately. We've had thousands of deaths already. But the people of the United States were shown what was happening. We leaked it all to the press just after the eighth, Jean Martin. All of it. Icarus. Apollo. The Institute. All of it. The country watched the massacre in Cambridge on live god-damn television. "

He regards Luis steadily as he fills him in on current events, "And the people of the United States refused to lay down for it. There is rioting in the streets everywhere. The militias are digging out their guns. And I can't imagine that every faction of the military will stand for the slaughter of our citizens for long."

"It's going to be a mess, yes. A lot of people are going to die, yes. It's too late to stop that. Yes. But the country will come through this in the end. The only question is," he says, meeting the man's gaze, "When the smoke clears, are you going to be another worthless corpse in the rubble or are you going to take responsibility for all the atrocities that you were complicit to and help rebuild? Because I’m not willing to let the only thing left be a wasteland."

Quieter, he leans back, “I’ve seen that wasteland. And I won’t allow my kids to grow up in it.”

Luis doesn’t have an immediate answer. He’s quiet, ponderously so, and focused on the teacup as though it were to provide some measure of answer. It doesn’t, and Luis finds that he can’t come up with one. Eventually, he responds by pulling the blanket off of his legs and swinging them around over the side of the bed, gingerly. As he sits up, Luis exhales a discomforted breath and looks up to Cardinal through a strained, pained expression.

“If that’s what it’s come to. War?” Luis’ eyes stay focused on the floor in front of his dangling feet. “I’m not of much help to you. I’m a man of science, yes, but I’m not Warren. I can’t help you win a war, I can’t likely even perform research in those conditions…” Then, looking to the list next to the teacup, Luis closes his eyes.

“I’m old, Richard.” Slowly, Luis sets his feet down on the floor and carefully steadies himself enough to stand. “When I was your age, I had a daughter. My Juliette,” as if implying he isn’t speaking of the Fournier twins. “I let my obsessions get in the way of our relationship, and as she withered away from a degenerative brain disease, I spent my time in a lab looking for a way to cure her, rather than making memories of the little time we had left.”

Breathing in deeply, Luis turns to face Cardinal, jaw set and brow furrowed. “You’re free to do with your life as you will. Spend your days how you wish. But take it from a man who knows what obsession can do to love…” Lifting one weathered hand, Luis lets it come to rest on Richard’s shoulder. “Weigh your choices carefully.”

As that hand slips away, Luis looks to the list one last time. “If we’re both alive… when the dust settles?” He looks up and almost manages a smile, but can’t quite. “Look me up. We can talk then. Until then, unless you’d like to change my bandages, I need to visit Jaiden.”

"I'm not trying to fight a war, Luis," Richard replies with a sigh, leaning back and sinking back against the wall, "I just want to make sure there's something left when it's over."

A wan smile to the man, then, "And I know what obsession can do. I've seen it first hand." He pushes away from the wall then as he's dismissed, shaking his head, "I certainly can't force you, and I gave it my best pitch. When the dust clears, if you want to help - well, we'll revisit this." Moving towards the door, he pauses to glance back with a brow's quirk upwards, "And we will revisit it. You know how damn stubborn I can be, Doc."

It's something both of him always shared.

Luis pauses at the door, not looking back. “I think the whole world knows now,” Luis admits in a rueful tone, and slips out of the door with that warning portent left hanging in the air.

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