Shame On Me


candice_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif goodman2_icon.gif matt_icon.gif sarisa_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Shame On Me
Synopsis Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
Date February 18, 2011

Little Italy

Sunlight shimmers visible off of the faintly blue-black hemisphere of the tremendously large kinetic barrier rising over the eastern horizon. It glitters in the afternoon sun like the surface of water near its highest point, likely from all of the snow melting off of its top due to the warm weather catching and reflecting sunlight. Were the great Dome not so terrible a creation, it might actually be beautiful.

From Little Italy in Manhattan, the Dome is visible between the high walls of skyscrapers, partially reflected in the windows of some of the tall buildings. Spring-like weather has come to the northeast, melting the dirty brown snowbanks heaped up on the road sides and bringing people out and onto the streets in droves.

Picolli's Delicatessen is busy this time of afternoon, with the sun resting westwardly and casting long shadows across the street. The busy outdoor cafe-style seating on the sidewalk of Picolli's is packed with diners, one among many a severe-looking blonde woman in an ash gray suit, white collared shirt unbuttoned and a breezy, fashionable scarf made of some silken, sheer material loosely tied around her throat.

A half-eaten wrap rests on the plate in front of Sarisa Kershner, and blue eyes are focused distantly on the shimmering dome in the distance. The noise of the city fills the air around her, from the bus parking at the stop across the street with a squeak of air-brakes, to the noise of hundreds of voices all in conversation.

Folding her gloved hands in front of herself, Sarisa allows her chin to come down to rest on her interlaced fingers, eyes diverting down to a folded newspaper sitting beside her on the metal table, concealing something from view. Then, those icy blue eyes lift up to the empty seat across from her, where her date should be at any moment.

This meeting had been delayed too many times because of that dome, and Sarisa Kershner is intent on taking up Richard Cardinal on his promise of a Valentine's Day gift.

The gift of truth.

It would be silly for Candice arrive at the same time as Cardinal, but stupid for her to arrive too early to manage to do her part of the whole thing. So she cuts it close, sitting within earshot of Sarisa, but close enough that she can throw up illusion for anyone coming around a corner, before the woman can spot them, and she prides herself on not having her illusions spotted.

But even though she's working, it doesn't mean that she can't enjoy the deli. So, sitting there, with blonde hair, blue eyes and a California tan, Candice scans the menu, determined to go all out. After all, that money from her last performance is hot in her pocket, and the taste of Ferry Isle food sticks in the back of her throat. Good food is just what she needs.

The next figure that comes around the corner is that of a man. Mirrored aviators obscure his face as he surveys the outdoor seating. Not dressed up for this meeting, it would seem, in his flight jacket, jeans, boots and a t-shirt, the familiar form of Richard Cardinal strides toward the eatery, head angling as he surveys the diners outside.

As he gains ground, he pulls the sunglasses off of his head, tucking them to hang from the gray collar of his shirt as he moves toward Kershner's table. "This seat taken?" he says, lips ticking up into a half smile as he begins to lower himself down into it. "Did you think I'd stand you up?"

Are you here, Matthew? They're thoughts that are purposefully cast out into whatever ephemeral medium that thoughts are carried in, Richard Cardinal's wordless check to ensure that one of the most powerful telepaths on the planet is there as agreed. He's sure that he is, but he just needs to make sure for his own peace of mind. Everyone's in position. Operation Mama Cass is go.

Thankfully, whatever telepathic mediums aren't effected by mouths full of cornbeef, rye, and sauerkraut. The presence of the real Richard Cardinal isn't as easily hidden from a man like Matt Parkman, especially given the Shadow's relatively frequent visits to apartments in Dorchester Towers. With a pair of glasses and a fedora that would make any Blues Brother envious, Matt sits with his suit jacket draped over a neighboring chair and his hands occupied with the task of making love to a Reuben.

Don't distract me, is the answer that's passed along to the presence that is Richard Cardinal before the telepath focuses back in on Sarisa. The Reuben may be tasty, but business is business. There's not enough corn beef in the world to get in the way of a task like this.

// It took him long enough//, crosses Sarisa's mind as her blue eyes upturn towards Cardinal, a smile crossing her lips to mask her impatience. "I never know what to expect with you, Richard. You're an unpredictable man." Reaching down to the newspaper folded on the table, Sarisa pushes it forward acros the metal towards the shadowmorph. "Our mutual friends send this across my desk the other day, after I had a chance to verify the information I thought it might best be served in your hands."

Reclining back into her seat, Sarisa folds her gloved hands on the table in front of herself. "To be honest, I didn't think you'd agree to this. I know you're a man who values his privacy and his secrets more so than anything, so this…" Sarisa's lips creep up into a brighter smile. "This is an intriguing turn of events. I'm glad you've come to trust my judgment, after all I've done for you and Elisabeth."

Looking down to her half finished wrap, Sarisa's eyes unfocus some. "I also spoke with Josiah Stern in the Department of Defense. I've put a word in for a Redbird Security contract to go overseas to Iraq by early summer to supplement the armed forces already in the country. Stillwater doesn't have the manpower to meet the needs with so many of their PMCs engaged here in New York. Of course, they don't have your connections either."

Candice is listening. Of course she is. It's what she does. She's not a fighter, she's not a revolutionary. She's a spy. Of course, right now she's a hungry spy, and can't help but order enough for two people. But she keeps enough of her focus on the man sitting with Sarisa to keep everything from falling apart. And if she gives Matt a quick look, a tiny smirk…well, that's not entirely out of character for her. It's always nice to see old friends.

The man settles back into the hard metal seat. "Of course I came. I value my privacy, but information is more important than my secrets. I'm not cocky enough to think that my history is more important than us working together," he says evenly.

Leaning forward, he crosses his arms and clasps his own hands together on the table. "Yeah, Stillwater's hurting in numbers. I am too, after the past week's events, but I can recruit pretty easily. I do have connections, and there's a lot of people out there hurting for work who'd leap at the chance to do some legitimate work if they can. Thanks for putting in a good word for us. I'll get the numbers ready by then."

Okay, okay… A hint of wry humor to Cardinal's thoughts as Matt rebuffs him. Hm. Iraq? At this rate he's going to be a major corporation before he's even fully aware of it. If Mrs. Hadley could see him now…

"I was thinking," Sarisa pushes her plate of food aside, leaning forward with her elbows on the tabletop. "You might come back to the place I have at the Corinthian. If I'm here in New York for a couple of days, we might as well make the most of them, right? I can't imagine Elisabeth has any time to… spend with you, what with FRONTLINE being so busy handling the situation with the dome." Blue eyes flick up and down Cardinal, and there's something of a predatory quality to Sarisa's smile now.

"I've got a few extra scarves," the psychometer admits with one brow raising slowly. "We could… see how good you are at escaping imprisonment, make an evening out of it?" Folding her hands together, Sarisa perches her chin atop her knuckles, her smile growing.

…as right, he's there. Why would they tell me t…

Something crosses the telepathic consciousness, an errant thought in a sea of thousands, but the reason for Matt Parkman picking up on it more than others, is because of the powerful memory it brings back in his mind. The voice sends a chill down the telepath's spine, not in the same way that the name Sylar does, but in the way that ghosts would to a superstitious man.

This voice is a ghost's.

Two Years Earlier…

Standing atop the police-barricaded remnants of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge are two figures, both alike in dignity. Between New York City and Staten Island is where we lay our scene.

Though Goodman and Parkman are of different 'households,' they share a common goal. That goal has recently been honed to a shaper point. That goal is what has brought these two men to the still raw wound that marks the severing one island from the other. "So what have you found out?" Parkman's question undoubtedly comes with a quieter, mental inquiry, but his eyes remain on the span of water that is the Narrows. True, he's been passed a file or two which would answer that very question in great detail, but Parkman's an old fashioned sort of law man when it comes to paperwork.

"Officially or unofficially?" Roger Goodman's dark eyes track away from the other, divided half of the Verrazano-Narrows, away from the dirty skyline of Manhattan and the boats swarming around its habors. "We know as much as you do about what transpired here, and I'm aware that your office apprehended one or two members of the vigilante organization Phoenix." Goodman's eyes flick back to the scene of destruction, the broken remnants of the bridge like some concrete sandwich with a bite taken out of it. "We narrowly avoided a rather sizable catastrophe, Mister Parkman." Roger's hands slide out of his pockets, moving to fold them behind his back as he watches a flock of gulls moving through slate gray skies.

"I know we are fortunate to be alive," When he finally looks back, it's to punctuate his sentence with a firm expression of resolution, "and be fortunate that we have another chance to make things right again, to take back a semblance of control." It's always about control, in one form or another. "As good as their intentions were, the way this group handled a situation that jeapordized the lives of billions," the number is given appropriate emphasis with his deep and smooth tone of voice, "is simply unacceptable."

"Believe me," Parkman assures the Primatech supervisor, "I know."

Present Day

As quickly as the voice evokes those memories, it's gone, lost in the morass of a thousand more voices in New York City, but undeniable in its identity. Faces can lie, the eyes can be deceived, but what is inside can never truly be hidden. Matthew Parkman knows this much to be true.

That's what makes it all the more confusing.

Rodger Goodman is dead.

Since Candice is lucky enough not to be plagued by ghosts, she's content enough to sit and listen, waiting on her food while she sips at her drink, glancing around, in the way that people do when they're eating alone and haven't gotten their food. No one special here. Just a cute girl having a meal.

Eyebrows rise and Cardinal's lips curve into a smile. "Scarves, hmmm," he says in a slow, low voice as he leans a little closer, arms uncurling to hold out one hand palm up.

"We can do better than scarves, I think. I'm sure you gotta spare set of handcuffs somewhere," he murmurs, eyes half lidding as he arches one brow playfully. "You can hide the key… Oh, I donno, somewhere and we can see if I can find it. With my hands behind my back."

He glances down at his hand and back up at her. "Or we can see if you'd trust me to let me use some of the scarves on you. Quid pro quo."

Now there's an interesting idea… Hey. She's hot. If she wasn't a crazy evil bitch, Cardinal might consider it more seriously.

Cardinal's thought is lost on Matt - even the spare bit of mental peripheral vision on reserve to pick up such things. Instead, his mind works overtime trying to hash out why he heard Goodman. It had to be Goodman. Unless it wasn't really Goodman who died, but mistakenly identified corpses are the last thing Parkman wants to think about right now.

This was supposed to be an easy job. A job where Cardinal bought him an expensive sandwich and all he had to do was keep his proverbial ears open for career-making information. With sweat beading on his brow to be soaked up by the band of his hat, Matt grips his sandwich tight enough to send Russian dressing dripping onto the plate between his elbows. Another spook like that and he just might choke.

Leaning back with a thin smile, Sarisa arches one brow slowly, then pushes out her chair with a scuff of the feet on concrete below. "I was wrong about you, Richard. I thought you didn't know how to let go, how to… open up. I thought you were so obsessed with the big picture that you'd forgotten how to enjoy the smaller things in life." Running a gloved hand through her hair, Sarisa looks out to the street, then back to Cardinal.

"I'll call for my driver, we can head out now. Don't…" Blue eyes divert down to the newspaper on the table, then back up to Cardinal, "…forget your stipend in all this excitement." As the warm breeze from this unseasonably warm day blows down the street, Sarisa's hair is caught in the wind, the blue scarf at her throat fluttering in like motion.


Four stories up and across the street, there is a metallic snap as a silencer clicks into place when snugly fit into a rifle barrel. Pulling coffee colored curtains aside, Roger Goodman peers out across the busy expanse of Manhattan to the deli below, watching a familiar blonde woman standing across from where Richard Cardinal is seated.

Flipping the bipod of the rifle down, Goodman sets the pegs down on the table in front of the window, nudging the curtains aside again with the suppressor at the end of the barrel. Leaning in towards the scope, Goodman closes one of his eyes, training the crosshairs first on Sarisa, then across the table to Cardinal.

Why am I doing this? Goodman's mind races, thoughts urgent and tense enough to reach the telepath he's unaware of. This is… Confusion sets in for a moment, and as Rodger's brows furrow, he can't quite recall why he feels such an imperitive to commit this murder. There's powerful emotions, indignation even at what the Institute was going to do, but why take it out on Richard Cardinal at the request of a telepath he hardly knew?

Goodman will never know what Aria Baumgartner did to him.

This isn't personal, but you have to die mister Cardinal. Curling one gloved finger against the trigger, Rodger breathes in deeply.

But it's not personal.

Outside Piccoli's Delicatessen

Those thoughts caress the priphery of Matt Parkman's mind, the way a radio picks up a station with poor signal strength, intermittantly and with static. Enough to get the jist of what is going down. Unaware of what is happening, Sarisa rests her handson her hips, head tilted to the side and a smile spread across her lips.

But in Candice Wilmer's peripheral vision, she catches a glint of light four floors up. Sunlight shines for the briefest of moments off of the scope of the rifle, and while she can't tell who might be beyond the window, she knows the presence of a sniper when she sees one.

Unfortunately for Candice, it's too far outside of the reach of her ability to directly effect.

There's a bit of eye rolling at the flirting, but nothing is said. Not until that gleam that has Candice looking upward, then thinking hard, Sniper. Four stories up. But a warning given can't be all that she can manage. She's not the best for nothing. And if the person up there is seeing her illusion instead of what's really there…

But she also knows that sometimes illusion, unfortunately, isn't the answer, so just keeps thinking, harder, louder. The equivalent of psychic shouting. WARN THEM. After all, if this deal goes down the drain, she might miss out on the chance for information, steady income, and fooling people on a large scale on a regular basis.

There's a furrow of brow as Sarisa begins to move. Cardinal's eyes move to the two other diners and then back down to the newspaper pushed toward him, flipping it open, he picks up and pockets a thumb drive within, before glancing back up and pushing out of his seat, the metal on concrete an ugly screech as he stands.

"Baby, you don't know me very well at all, then," he says playfully, reaching to catch Sarisa by the hand, his hand curling around leather as he pulls Sarisa back toward him; his free hand moving around her waist, seeking a hem to slip under, head dipping forward to try to his lips to hers. Goddammit, you owe me, he thinks — but no one will catch that thought. Not even Matt Parkman.

As Sarisa rises to step away, she leaves the relative light of the table into shadow — cast by the store's sign, perhaps, darkening her garments faintly, the blue scarf darkening almost to black for a moment.

But it won't be the only thing Matt Parkman risks letting slip through his net.

In that moment, Matt pushes all of his mental energy into creating the mental equivalent of a mirror turned just so. Cardinal is suddenly Veronica, as far as a certain man with a rifle is concerned. But then she's a myriad of other people, all of them flashes to the point where Goodman can't be at all sure what it is he's seeing. Sarisa may be Richard Cardinal. Or even the woman spooning chopped chicken liver into her toddler's mouth. Maybe even the toddler.

Like a strobe, the effect is meant to bring about spots and uncertainty. All very good reasons that make today not a good day to play Lee goes to the Book Depository.

Four Stories Up….

Just as Goodman's finger curls around the trigger, Richard Cardinal's countenance changes to that of Veronica Sawyer before his eyes. Godman's most loyal agent in the Institute, paradoxically also the the architect of his death. Guilt, horror and revulsion rises up like bile in the back of Rodger's throat and his hand jerks just enough as the loud snap of the suppressed rifle shot going off echoes across the street.

Scrambling back from the window, Rodger's eyes blink open and closed, his hands shake and sweat beads on his brow. Sucking in a sharp series of breaths, he wipes one hand over his face and eyes, trying to get his thoughts in order and his body under control. He turns, head snapping in the direction of the window, horror knotting his stomach as he recalls the sound of the rifle firing.

But at what?

Street Level

Smiling fondly, Sarisa squeezes Cardinal's hands in hers, drawing the shadowmorph in with a lopsided smile. She tilts her chin up, one corner of her lips crooking into a smile, and when Sarisa's lips press to Richard's, her brows furrow and tension crosses her posture. Cardinal can feel the ebb of tension rise up in the CIA agent's body, her fingers tightening to vice-like grip on his hands. A strangled, keening sound erupts in the back of Sarisa's throat, a breath drawn in sharp and painful.

In that same moment, a window out front of Picolli's explodes as a high powered rifle round punches through the glass. Diners both inside the restaurant and outside scramble with rising screams at the blast of tiny pieces of safety glass. Chairs topple over, people duck for cover, and bystanders on the street duck and scramble away from the sign of violence.

Sarisa folds like a wet napkin, her knees giving out as she drops down to the ground, her fingers still in a vice-grip against Cardinal's, but her eyes have rolled back into her head, arms and legs shaking and back arched as her head bobs up and down in the experience of some kind of seisure.

A sudden onslaught assails Matt Parkman's mind from the direction of Sarisa Kershner, odd an indecupherable images that flood his consciousness, murky and dark, flooded with the color amber in the brief moments of light.

There is a rhythmic, thumping sound that pounds int he back of Parkman's head, a muffled heartbeat as if heard with an ear up against someone's chest.

Jarring transitions bring to mind the image of a vast and flat grassy field surrounded by mountains with a twisting, dead tree growing up in the middle. A young boy stands in one of the high branches, laughing and clutching the twisted trunk.

The ocean fills his mind, lapping waves and crashing surf of crystal clear color on a white sand beach, warm breeze in his hair. It is justaposed with a vision of the iconic Sydney opera house in Australia overlapping the beach, one scene night and the other day. A deep twinge of sadness pangs at the back of Matt's chest as he feels his heart jump for a moment, smells the sea air, hears the cry of terns and sees them in photo negative up in the sky set against a jet black sun.

A desert, screams and gunfire cloud Parkman's vision as smoke rolls across a burning flat land. A tank belches smoke out of its molten frame, fire rising up like lapping tongues from within. On the horizon, dozens of plumes of fire jet up from the desert, spewing black smoke into the clear blue sky. Rodger Goodman is there, in desert camouflage with a rifle held out, waving Matt in, his words muffled against the sound of gunfire.

A casket, a flag draped over it. People dressed in black are crying, a wreath of flowers and greenery encircles a picture of a square-jawed man in a Marines dress uniform, looking proud and defiant with badges on his chest.

Bare chest, fingers curling into dark hair; sweat rolls down his throat and lips press against hers. Fingers wind in hair, slim legs not belonging to Matt but feeling like they do wrap around his bare waist, blankets tangle

A room is filled with bones, tiny fire-blackened bones on a metal conveyor belt. Some of the skeletons are small enough to fit into the palm of one open hand. Men in full combat gear decorated as US military are openly crying, trying bfa877|to remain silent. Mat can feel his stomach turn, feel his legs buckle. He sees vomit spatter on the floor, eyes blurred by tears and##—

White plastic, a square window, two blue lines.

A gunshot goes off, blood sprays warm and wet against the side of Matt's face. A soldier ina gray uniform slouches to the side, laying with blood pulsing from an open hole in the side of his skull. He returns the handgun with a shaking hand to a United States military officer at his side. Other men in gray uniforms are lined up against a nearby wall.

Lips press against's Matt's, dark stubbled jaw and searching tongue. Hot, warm breaths, dark eyes locked on his, a stubbled beard and bare, tender skin on one shoulder. Desire, need, hunger, addiction. Sylar stares down into Matt's eyes, like an animal attacking its prey.

Water, lapping waves, a white sand beach. An elderly woman is standing there with her feet in the sand, arms out and dropping into a crouch so that they can better wrap around Matt's tiny form.

Tiny, flame charred skeletons on a conveyor belt.

Nathan Petrelli steps up in front of a podium at a press conference, and Matt is standing on the stage out of view. Hatred rises up in the back of his throat, revulsion, anger. Bloodlust. Matt sees himself at the same press conference, one the other side of the stage, he was watching

A tiny coffin, lowered into the shadow of a tiny headstone.

Frederick Kershner

(August 3, 1991 - August 4, 1991)

Blood runs from Matt's nose, his head bounces when it hits the pavement, his hat coming tumbling off and sunglasses resting at a crooked angle. Eyes roll back in his head and the telepath's legs kick. Droplets of red trickle out and down his upper lip, turn pink on his teeth.

Well, there's no immediate gunshot, so maybe luck is on their side. Candice glances towards Sarisa and Cardinal, brows lifting as she watches the drama unfold. But then there's the gunshot, and she mutters a curse, shoving her chair back and ducking beneath the table. Information is good, information is great. Money is just as good. But worth staying in plain view, in case the next shot also goes wild? Hell fucking no.

As Sarisa suddenly crumbles, the man she was holding onto ducks as well, one arm flying to cover his head even as his eyes squint to the direction of the rifle's blast, squinting as he tries to see who was shooting at them.


"Get down!" he shouts suddenly, perhaps redundantly, to the rest of the diners, eyes sliding to Parkman in particular with worry, before looking down at Sarisa who seems to be siezing. He puts a hand on beneath her head to keep it from banging concrete or the metal limbs of chair or table. "Call 9-1-1," he yells to some stranger. And finally, to the shadows: "Find the gunman!"

Oh, shit. Matt…? // The reaction's more violent that Cardinal had assumed; he doesn't have line of sight to Parkman at the moment, but there's a sharp //spike in his worry. More for the man than for the gunman.

I mean, him or Sarisa being shot at is pretty much par for the course. Telepathic feedback is much more serious.

What follows for can't really be called consciousness. The electrical signals in his brain going, for lack of a better word, haywire. Even before he falls to the ground, the effective ambush of Sarisa's thoughts blocks out any perception of the gunshot gone awry. But after the fit has run it's course, and the biological circuitry in Matt's brain is left to smolder and smoke, the telepath lies still, his eyelids relaxed though still closed.

Several people in the crowd are already on the phone, dialing numbers frantically. From down the street, the pop of blue lights and a siren brings a police curiser pulls a U-turn in the middle of traffic, siren beginning to blare. Sarisa shows no sign of improvement, mouth agape and eyes rolled back in her head, one foot shaking slowly from side to side and breathing erratic. One of the psychometer's gloved hands is twitching open and closed, her throat working up and down in dry swallows as gasping breaths escape her lips.

Beneath the table where she's crouched, Candice Wilmer can see a sudden and brief haze of violet light in the window where the sniper had been a moment ago. Then she spots the violet light amidst the crowd down the street by the police cruiser in a flicker. The next time she sees it, that haze of purple illumination appears directly in front of Cardinal, revealing a tall and lanky African-American man with a bald head in a long brown jacket in mid-leap, a fixed edge serrated combat knife gripped underhanded in one gloved fist. The blade sweeps down, slamming into Cardinal's shoulder between neck and collarbone, erupting with blood around the edges.

Rodger Goodman stares down at Cardinal with teeth clenched and twists the knife in an agonizing explosion of pain that shoots down the shadowmorph's arm. The blade draws back, pulled out to allow for a sudden pulse of blood to ooze out of the wound and down the side of Cardinal's neck and jacket. Not an arterial strike, but still a greivous injury, just shy of immediately fatal.

As Goodman flips the knife around to hold forward, Cardinal and Candice both can see a green flicker of light in his eyes, followed by the same color dancing down one of his knuckles and a shadow of green light reflecting under his chin.

Then he goes for Cardinal's throat with the knife.

Well that does it. Candice can't just allow Cardinal to get killed. Though she doesn't move one bit from beneath the table, she brings her ability into play. Cardinal suddenly vanishes, as does the knife, both with a slight shimmer to the air. It's not very subtle, but with Matt out of commission, she can't be that subtle. And hopefully, the disappearing act will throw Goodman off enough to let Cardinal slip away.

The purple light reflects in Cardinal's eyes as he looks up just in time to see the blade, his lips parting, "Don't, Rog-"

The rest is lost in a sharp gasp of pain. His hands pull out from beneath Sarisa's head, the blonde woman's head bouncing on concrete unceremoniously, to come up in an attempt to knock away the hand holding the knife aimed at his throat. Wrist connects with wrist to push up and outward, though the back of his fingers feather against the blade accidentally, bringing another sharp breath of pain whistling through clenched teeth.

He can't tell he's invisible, but he can see the blink of confusion and the fact that Goodman doesn't know where he is, and that's enough of an invitation to get the hell out of there. He staggers to his feet, bumping into tables which gives away his location unless Candice is quick to handwave that away with illusions, too, along with the blood that spots the concrete in the wake of his stumbling escape.

Just about then is when a dark, heavily armoured figure leaps out of Sarisa's dress, hydraulics screaming as they fade into corporeality in mid-movement, moving to tackle Goodman as he slashes at Cardinal with a knife. Obviously the man's a teleporter, so the key here is to introduce Goodman's head to the pavement as soon as possible to prevent him from just poofing away.

Apparently, her cleavage is even more dangerous than anyone knew.

Don't worry, citizens! FRONTLINE is here! Hopefully nobody will realize there're no insignias on that suit of Horizon armor.

Shocked by the sudden disappearance of his target and the emergence of a black armored FRONTLINE operative from the darkness, Rodger Goodman finds himself moving on a downward trajectory to the sidewalk, colliding with the concrete immediately as blood darkens the gray from a break in the bridge of his nose. Goodman reaches up, grasping at the front of the armored figure's Horizon breastplate, purple light shining thorugh his fingers, but then nothing.

Green sparks come instead, tinted lemon yellow on the edges. As the real Richard Cardinal looms over Sarisa Kershner's prone form, Rodger Goodman drops to one knee, his knife clattering down to the concrete with a clink-clack of metal and plastic grip. Through the black visor of his helmet, Cardinal can see one of Rodger's eyes go bloodshot red as a spark of green fire laps around in his eye socket.

Mouth opening, there's a choked out breath of something to be said by the teleporter, "Aria— " is stammered out by the former Company director, his long fingers pawing ineffectually at Cardinal's breastplate as the crowd continues to panic and back away.

Police sirens are drawing closer, chaos is ebbing like a pulse through the crowd and screams of fear are still resonating in the minds of everyone around. Sarisa Kershner's eyes flutter open, tears rolling down the sides of her cheeks, lips parted in rasping breath, hands still trembling and vision blurred not just by tears.

Staring down at Goodman, Cardinal sees another flicker of green behind Goodman's pupils as blood trickles from his right tear duct.

April 13, 2010


"Agent log, April 13th 2010. Residence of Doctor Thomas Benson…" Striding towards the sofa, Desmond Harper looks down at the jacket laid out over it, bringing the ultra-violet lamp down to it with no results, then begins circling around the couch towards the rat cages up on the table behind them. "Trace amounts of positively charged ions are present throughout doctor Benson's residence, fluoresces green under ultra-violet light. Possible— photon bombardment?"

Moving over towards the cages, Harper brings the UV wand over them one by one, each of the bright white mice glowing purple under the light, until the dead one radiates a sickly shade of green in swirling dust-mote clouds of vapor from its body. Sucking up a slow, sharp breath, agent Harper turns off the light and glances over to the one retriever left. "Give me your Compass…" he urges to the masked man, offering his free hand out.

The retriever reaches down to his wrist and removes a small plastic compass from a watch-like setting, handing it towards Desmond. Holding it out to the rat, there's a furrow of Harper's brows as he watches the needle spin, twist, kilter and stop, pointing at the rat. The compass doesn't look like an ordinary device designed to detect magnetic north, of course. It has copper wiring wrapped around the frame and tiny lithium batteries placed on the sides. More of an electromagnetic compass than anything.

After a slow, subtle nod of his head, Harper offers the compass back to the retriever. "Harper's log, supplemental entry." There's a tap of his earpiece with one finger as he speaks. "It's not photon bombardment, this is the same electromagnetic radiation surrounding the crater where the Moab Federal Penitentiary once was,,, we were never dealing with a healer," there's a furrow of Harper's brows as he shakes his head, turning to look down at the dead mouse.

"We're dealing with a temporal manipulator of some kind…" Desmond's eyes lift up to the green glow suffused to the walls, then back down to the mouse's corpse. "…and from the looks of it, all those people that Doctor Stevens healed with his ability." Desmond draws in a slow, tired breath before exhaling a sigh.

"…they're likely living on borrowed time."

Present Day

Blood explodes across the faceplate of Cardinal's visor, blood and bits of bone that erupt from Rodger Goodman's skull as his head jerks back from a gunshot coming at an impossible angle, without even the sound of the shot. Brain matter sprays on the concrete in the shower of gore bored through Rodger's right eye socket and out the back of his head. The former Company director flashes with a vibrant flare of lime green radiance before collapsing backwards like a ragdoll.

Blood pools dark on the street, and before Richard Cardinal's eyes, Rodger Goodman's body begins to decompose and rot, skin shriveling up against bone, lips peeling back to reveal yellowed teeth, his one remaining eye shriveling up in the socket. It's as if he'd been dead for years.

Time finally caught up to him.

Okay, good. Cardinal…and Cardinal…are both alive. Mission accomplished. Hopefully information was gotten, for the rest of the mission. Well, more than one woman's name. Candice glances towards the flashing lights of a cop car and shakes her head. "Nope." She climbs out from under the table, but not before making herself disappear. And the fleeing Cardinal? Well, he'll remain invisible for a bit, but once he gets out range, all the illusion will fade. Because Candice is just going to get the hell out of there.

The commotion of those clamoring away from the sudden violence has the wounded Cardinal turning back to look over his shoulder, just in time to see the Horizon-armored man attacking Goodman. "No!" this Cardinal cries out, turning around and stumbling to his knees. Blood leaks through his fingers as he tries to hold it in, to hold together the ragged flesh at his neck.

As the head of his assassin is suddenly blown out by some invisible force, the injured man's eyes widen, face paling. "Oh, God, no," he whispers, bloodied hand coming to his mouth even as the man decomposes instantly.

Not seeing where Candice has fled, he moves back to his feet, his path marked by blood spots as he slips around the corner, to the alley behind the deli.

Here, the illusion fades. Out of range, it is not Richard Cardinal who slides down the brick wall to curl up, trying not to die, trying not to weep for the death of that would-be assassin. The day is warm, a promise of spring in the air, and yet Veronica Sawyer is cold, shivering, the only warmth felt the blood that leaks from the wound inflicted on her unknowingly by her ally.

"Aria? Who— " There's no chance for Richard Cardinal to delve into the question of why Goodman was trying to kill him, of why he's speaking that name as he's pushed down to the ground by enough hydraulic pressure to move a compact car. Because his would-be assassin's head explodes in his face without warning… or bullet.

The police are coming. He reminds himself of that as he pushes up to his feet, covered in gore; glancing back to Sarisa, he pauses for a moment before leaping over a table and moving swiftly towards the alleyway. Parkman'll be fine; they'll bring him to the hospital, he can check on him there. Candice can get out safely. Veronica's in greater danger right now.

"Vee." The armoured form drops down to a crouch beside her, one hand on her arm, "We need to get scarce. Can you walk?" All business. Curt, firm, using command voice. She can break down later. He can be sympathetic later. Not now.

More worrisome than the police is the drab green coloration of an Army Jeep rounding the corner onto the block, its radio antenna waggling as the vehicle rumbles thorugh a pothole. It's hard to tell at a distance whether it's the National Guard, Army or civillian contractors inside, but these representatives of martial law indicate a succinct lack of due process that is enough to have some of the witnesses scattering from sight.

In the alley beside Picolli's, there is a sizable pool of blood beneath where Veronica Sawyer now slouches up against the brick wall, Goodman's withered corpse still in her blurry peripheral vision. Veronica has gone into shock skin cold and clammy to the touch, while sweat beads on her brow and her knife wound throbs with a muted pain that will be like razorblades beneath fingernails once the shock wears off. Blood loss has also contributed to light-headedness as well.

Candice's escape is a sure-fire one, with her illusions masking her presence as not even so much as a blur in the air, no one notices she's gone, and few would ever think to comment that she was there. Years of practice and honed used of her power has made her the perfect escape artist, when she knows to leave or has the level-headedness to.

As Sarisa Kershner begins to rouse, everyone but Matt Parkman is gone, and she only barely recognizes him laying on the street, blood starting to get tacky where it had dribbled out of his nose. "Pa— " her voice is a croak, awkward and uncomfortable. Kershners pupils dilate a she crawls on her hands and knees, trying to figure out what happened. "C- Cardinal," she hisses in confusion, not blaming him, but trying to find out where he went, and what happened to her.

When blue eyes settle on the body in front of her, Sarisa recoils and clasps a trembling hand over her mouth, a piercing scream echoing between the buildings at the sight of a several year old corpse in a fresh new suit.

Dark lashes flutter against pale skin growing even more pale; the whiskey-brown eyes that peer up at Cardinal are dilated as she focuses on his words. Go. Walk. They are not hard words, but they take effort, and finally she nods.

From the time she was small and in sports to her years in the college in the Criminal Justice department and finally to her years as an agent, Veronica has always been one to shake off injury and push herself beyond her body's limits. Today is no different as she tries to get her feet under her curled form, tries to stand on her own two feet, to do what she is being told so firmly by the man she just pretended to be.

But today is different — her body fails her. Too much blood has been lost, and the physical shock layered upon emotional shock is too much. Her eyes roll back and she faints, hands dropping from the bloody gaping slash in her lean neck.


Cardinal was afraid of that. He takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and the armour slowly melts away from him, bleeding into shadows that linger over him like a constant shade. It's not easy. That's a lot to hold separate, and he's a shade or two pale than usual when he reaches down to carefully - gently - heft the unconscious agent into his arms.

Carrying her out of the alley, he calls out, "That crazy bastard left another one down in an alley — I need a paramedic over here, pronto!"

Sarisa's shrill cry is muffled by the fog that still surrounds Matt's perception, but it's enough of a jot to bring him out of his stupor. He opens his eyes slowly, squinting against the odd juxtaposition of darkened lens and the relatively bright sky of New York City in the spring. A hand almost immediately comes to his head to brush away his skewed eyewear and touch gingerly at his nose, before cradling his temple with the barest of touches.

He sets his blurry vision Sarisa first as the origin of the noise, and only after he's placed her in the commercial rubble of abandoned tables and meals does he see why she screamed. His stomach lurches, and he winces into the protective mask of cranial recovery. Seeing a freshly dead body is one thing.

Seeing a headless corpse is another.

The police cruiser arrives before the Jeep does, officers emerging in pair out onto the sidewalk, one trying to get people back and away from the corpse with the majority of its head missing the other sweeping the crowd for anyone moving or acting suspicious. The Army Jeep pulls up next, one National Guard officer climbing out of the front after the vehicle is parked up on the curb, three Redbird Security contractors climbing out of the back, booted feet touching down on the ground as they begin shouting to the crowd to move back, assault rifles carried at the ready at chest level.

Nods of recognition and immediate attention to Cardinal are provided by the Redbird Security contractors, ensuring that the man who signs their paychecks is well and fine. Few onlookers would realize that Richard Cardinal was the one who was stabbed, or that the woman he laid out shared a similar injury. Those that notice the discrepancy may not think to immediately bring it up, not with their actions in and of itself not seeming suspicious. After all, he seems to know the security contractors, and she is injured.

A crowd can convince itself of whatever it wants to believe in any given moment, and that neither of them are openly exhibiting Evolved powers makes it easier to sympathize with them.

Lights flash, sirens wail, and the cry of an ambulance isn't that far away. Confusion paints itself across Sarisa Kershner's face as she watches Cardinal kneeling near where Veronica is laid. The blonde psychometer's lips sag down into a frown, icy blue eyes wide as that expression turns to something more fiery but tempered behind the need for discretion. She isn't sure what happened here today, but she does know that something is amiss.

By the time police officers have secured the area and paramedics have arrived, the National Guardsman and PMC contractors have taken charge of the scene with as much authority as they can exert, allowing for Richard Cardinal to become no more than whispers and shadows amongst the crowd before he needs to file an incident report with the authorities. Sawyer will need to attest to what they saw that day, as will Parkman, but only after their injuries have been tended to.

Sarisa Kershner's word will cover for Richard Cardinal this time, ensure that all the wrong questions are asked of his involvement, ensure that agent Sawyer and Matt Parkman get the treatment they require.

But once the dust settles, once wounds are mended and heads glued back on straight, Sarisa will get to the bottom of this.

And when she does, heads will roll.

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