Someday You Will Learn What 'Delegate' Means


cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Someday You Will Learn What 'Delegate' Means
Synopsis Some information is shared
Date Sep 3, 2010

Redbird Security Solutions, Basement

"They listen. No words. Stop the listening. No voice leaves quiet, quiet still, no fire, no fire, no— " A broken sob cuts through the subtle static of the recording, "Don't listen."

Cardinal didn't sleep last night. It's evident in that he's still wearing the suit he wore to the opening of d'Sarthe's, in the scruffiness of his hair and the shadows beneath his eyes as he clicks 'pause' on the video that's playing, Tamara's lips stained with blood and tears. He reaches over, picking up the can of Monster sitting beside it on the desk, and he takes a swallow before setting it aside, leaning forward once more. And he rewinds it, and clicks play again.

As she descends the stairs behind him, Elisabeth is making no real effort to hide her arrival. But she's not being particularly loud either. The sound of that voice — one that Liz knows — makes her sharpen her attention and bring the sound to her own ears more clearly as the recording starts again. As her hands settle gently on his shoulders, she asks quietly, "Is she referring to the broadcast?" It seems to make the most sense.

She's wearing her work clothes, all black and such. It's a color that tends to suit Elisabeth when she's had enough sleep, which this week she has actually managed. Her blue eyes on him, though, are worried. He looks rough and it's late in the day for him to still be awake.

"The… broadcast?" Click. The tip of a finger taps to the mouse to silence the video recording, and Cardinal leans slowly back against her hands, his head tilting back to look to her with a furrowed brow, "The one that Jaiden mentioned?" Clearly, the fact hadn't occured to him. A purse of his lips as he considers that, "It's possible. Every Prophet In Its House… some sort of code phrase to start something? A message?"

Elisabeth hands glide up the back of his neck, digging into the muscles there to make them release their tension, and into the hair at the back of his scalp to massage. "Well… think about what I can do with my voice," she says quietly. "I can shatter glass, shake the ground, crack cement… I can convince a scared man holding hostages in a bank to let them go, or walk a jumper off a ledge. If they're already willing to be convinced, of course. I can quell a riot, at least partially, or I can incite one." She pauses, her hands still in motion. "I can't do it over a broadcast, but how much money would you put on the idea that there's someone out there who can?"

Cardinal's lips purse in a tight line. "It's possible," he murmurs, gaze dropping to the screen as his head falls forward beneath the press of her fingertips against tense muscle, "It could even make sense… it's an avenue to pursue. Especially with what I've just learned…"

The mouse slides over to close the video, and he closes his eyes. "I went to see Matt."

That brings a sharp intake of breath from behind him and Liz's hands hesitate for a long moment. When they resume, she asks simply, "And?" She digs her fingertips into pressure points to get them to release, listening quietly.

"He's in a bad position," Cardinal murmurs — pausing with a quiet grunt as her fingers press in — and he sinks forward to rest folded arms on the edge of the table, "He's an old… friend's a strong word. I trust him. He's a good guy, just… anyway." A breath's drawn in, and exhaled, "He's close to Mitchell. And he showed me something Mitchell told him."

When he gives her free access to his neck, Elisabeth takes advantage. "You've got to have constant headaches wound up this hard, babe," she murmurs softly, leaning down to kiss the back of his head. Then she goes back to doing what she's doing as she asks, "What'd he show you?" She doesn't comment on Matt Parkman's position or his situation — he made his own bed. She's not sure about trusting him, but there's an amount of respect there.

"Messiah." Cardinal's forehead drops down against his folded arms, his eyes closing, "He… Liz…" A sigh spills to the table, "…the government picked up Peter not long after Apollo. They had Carmichael work him over for a week with his ability. The whole thing's a government operation - the buildings they hit were either emptied out beforehand or were Company targets."

Elisabeth's hands continue their work without stopping. Though he can't see it, her jaw clenches. When she finally speaks, it is softly and without too much surprise. "I should reject that explanation and claim it's impossible. But I know better. And it makes a lot of sense," she admits quietly. "We already knew Carmichael was working people over. Look at what he did to Claire. The only person —- no, member of the group that would be immune is Rebel. So it begs the question, does Rebel know that they're being used? Or is it something Carmichael's managed to hide from Rebel?"

"The whole thing… it's just an excuse to ramp up paranoia against us," Cardinal says in tight tones, his own jaw clenched as if in a mirror of hers, "Because after PARIAH shut down, Mitchell's pet projects weren't getting enough funding… fuck, I don't even know. Rebel helped White, after all. They might think it's a great plan to set the powerkeg off and clean up from the rubble… they're not even human anymore, remember."

She shakes her head behind him and slips her hands down his neck more to his shoulders once more, continuing to work the stress loose. "I suppose," Elisabeth says quietly. "Parkman… " She sighs heavily. "He has a child who needs to be protected, and he's probably doing the best he can with the people he thinks can best help him do it. But I have to tell you… I'm not sure if you can trust him at all. What if he's the one lying to us?" She goes quiet and then says, "I don't know what to suggest we do, either. THere's no way to know. We just have to pick a path and try to stick to it, I guess."

As her hands slipde down from his neck, Cardinal leans back again, bringing one hand up to cover hers — his fingers squeezing against her own as he looks back to her. "I trust him," he says quietly, "You didn't see him… trust me here, Liz. Matt's not going to lie to me. He might bring us in, if he were ordered, but he's not going to play games with me. I believe him."

Elisabeth holds his hand and studies his face, her brows pulling together a little. And then she nods, clearly taking his word for it. "I already somewhat assumed that he wouldn't be running us in unless there were no other options. He's known how to find a number of Phoenix operatives for a long time now." She smiles a little bit. "He told me once I'd need to choose which side of the line to work on. I think he thought I'd stick to the safe side of the street, like he thought he was doing." She shrugs some and sighs theatrically. "The things love and torture will make you do." There's a wink at him.

"There aren't any safe sides of the street, Liz…" A rueful note to Cardinal's voice as he looks back up to her… and then his gaze drops back to the computer, and he says quietly, "…and I'm not even sure if there're lines anymore, or just different shades of grey."

He draws in a breath, then exhales it, "I think I'm going to talk to the Messiah members more likely to listen to me. Huruma, at least. If they can handle this in-house, it'd be better."

Elisabeth considers and leans more fully into his back, her arms sliding around his shoulders from behind and her lips resting atop his head. "Well, we've known about the shades of grey for a really long time now," she comments as she presses a soft kiss to his hair. "Before you approach them, you should probably check — though I haven't a clue how — whether they're willingly going along with this. Huruma may know, she may not. It's worth asking." At least Huruma understands what the stakes are here. Madagascar's going to still be fresh for the scary woman. "What do you want her to do, kill Carmichael?" she asks.

And then there's a long pause, and Elisabeth asks very very softly, as if she can't quite believe the words are coming out of her mouth, "Explain to me why we don't take out both Nathans and Mitchell all in one fell swoop, Richard?" Her eyes are closed as she whispers that into the crown of his head.

"You're damn straight I want her to kill Carmichael," Cardinal replies sharply, "I'm not leaving a sword as sharp as Messiah in Mitchell's hands… and if Carmichael's playing him for his own causes, I'm even more worried. I don't trust the fucker as far as I can see him…"

Then she's falling silent, and he leans back against her, eyes closing. The answer to her question comes in a quietly whispered question of his own, "Why didn't we nuke Russia? They were our enemy. We had troops fighting in skirmishes all over the world. Wouldn't it have been easier to just drop the bomb?"

"Dropping a bomb kills too many innocents," Elisabeth says softly. "We have at least two snipers with mad skills on our roster, and Kershner. If you take out all three… we might have a better chance of stopping it all. Who comes after that? The Speaker of the House?" She has to think through her civics lessons and the chain of succession, debating the matter internally on whether the Speaker might be a worse or better option for us.

"No, Liz." Cardinal shakes his head tightly, "It's because as soon as we launched our nukes, they would, too." He shifts in his chair, twisting it around to face her with a serious look, "If we start murdering highly public officials— they'll escalate too. And we won't survive the week."

"Mutally Assured Destruction, they called it."

Yeah. She knows the answer. She doesn't want to know the answer, but she does. And as Elisabeth meets his eyes, she grimaces. "I'm not sure we're not already heading there, to be quite frank." She has seen too many of the videos. She's the one who downloaded them to the computer that he's watching them on, after all. She nods toward the string map. "I don't suppose Edward in his infinite wisdom gave you a goddamn thing we can actually use, hmm?"

The question causes Cardinal to pause in mid-framing of a word… and his gaze drifts over towards the map. "He gave me a solution," he admits, he says in quiet tones, "And the other him warned me against it, because the… the Edward from the future was too willing to sacrifice people."

There's a tilt of her head and Elisabeth comes around him, her hand trailing along his shoulder as she moves to perch on the edge of the table next to the computer so they can talk face to face. "All right," she says quietly. "You've never mentioned that before. You've gotten conflicting orders from Edward?" And perhaps 'orders' is too strong a word, she's not sure. "You know I suck at seeing the whole picture, but … I'm not sure how much of that is that I don't necessarily have all the facts either. How do you know which Edward needs to be listened to?" she asks curiously. "You … well, after the fact, we talked about the possibility that the last plan should have been left to come to fruition."

"No!" The word's sharply spoken, Cardinal's shoulder pulled from under her hand as he pushes himself up from the chair, stepping away from the desk and over in the direction of the web, hands curling into fists at his side as he stares at it for a moment. "No," he says more quietly, "The… earlier him is right. I didn't mention it because it's not even on the table, it's not— just no."

That reaction is …. well, more powerful than she expected, for sure. Elisabeth puts up both hands. "Whoa," she says quietly. "I'm not the enemy, Richard. Just asking the question. You're the man who said 245,000 people becoming Evo might have been the right thing. So if you're telling me that whatever this other plan is was just too crazy, well….. quite frankly, you're probably in a better position to make that judgement than I am, at least." She smiles a little. Perhaps her query was also a little bit of a test, too — killing the few to protect the many is something they've conversed on occasionally. She's glad that he appears to still be a good ways off from becoming a monster.

"Tell me what else you've learned lately," Liz invites softly. "You've been pretty well swamped with meeting people and shit, and I haven't wanted to press."

There's no answer to her for a few long moments, Cardinal's unhidden gaze trailing over the strings and threads of the map, photographs and notes hanging from them that swing and sway lightly as subtle motions in the basement's air cause them to move. Some of those strings don't have any photographs, and the notes are listed in some sort of short-hand code that he refuses to explain.

Maybe she can make some educated guesses about them now.

"I know you're not," he says quietly, then, onje hand coming up to rub against his forehead, "I'm sorry, I just… I'm under a lot of stress lately, Liz." He turns a bit, half-glancing over his shoulder, "I found April. She killed a bunch of Company goons chasing her. They can track the isotopes individually now."

Elisabeth's expression is a faint grimace. "I honestly figured they could do that a year ago," she replies quietly. "Denton wanted to tag me so if anything happened again, he could get to me. It implied to me that he'd be able to single out the signal." She sighs heavily. "So I take it bringing her in isn't going to happen. I'll let Silver know what's going on with it. He'll be… less than pleased," she comments.

There's a long pause as she looks at him, and then she shoves off the table and moves to stand in front of him. Her face tips upward and she touches his cheek lightly. "If you think that I can't tell you're under a tremendous strain, you're underestimating what I see," she tells him quietly. "I know that whatever you've seen for yourself, people close to you are supposed to die in this. Probably me, possibly a number of others. And I know that you're straining to keep it from happening. I don't know what you saw, and I assume if there was actually anything proactive to be done to stop the particulars, you're already moving on it. But Richard?"

She pauses and says quietly, "Nobody can do this alone. I'm here when you need me… hell, I'm here half the time when you'd rather I wasn't, I'd bet." Her tone injects just a hint of levity, or at least attempts to. "If I can't help any other way than taking you away from it for a few minutes here or there, then use me to recharge. If you burn out, love, I'll be straight with you… I'm not smart enough to carry on without you on this one. It's so far beyond my comprehension most of the time that I feel like a moron."

Cardinal meets her gaze almost reluctantly, worry and weariness both there as he leans into the touch of her hand. "You're not a moron, Liz," he murmurs, one hand coming up to brush against her cheek, "You're the best field commander I've got. And… we have people now, more recruits. I need to start delegating… getting things moving without just myself doing them. It's a hard habit to break. You know that."

Elisabeth smiles at that. "It is. Doing it yourself generally seems like the best plan because it takes longer than explaining it all to someone else. But…." She stands on her toes. "Thank you. For realizing that it's time to quit that shit. Cuz I gotta tell you, lover… it makes me crazy to watch you trying to deal with all of it yourself." A light kiss accompanies that information, and as she settles back on her heels again, she adds, "Make a list for me. The string map gives me a huge headache and …. you've left off labeling a number of the strings, which I'm assuming is because you don't want to freak me and whoever else is supposed to die out. I think it's time we pull everyone in, lay out exactly what we know, exactly what we've made assumptions about, and start brainstorming on what things we can pull off that might derail the whole shebang. Okay?"

"Okay." Cardinal's head dips down to brush a kiss to her lips, and then his brow rests to hers, eyes closing for a moment, "I've been meaning to set up another meeting anyway… get everyone together, figure out who's doing what, and get it all moving."

"Uh-huh," she replies with a faint grin, accepting the weight of his head against hers easily. "You haven't slept in at least two days that I know of," she says quietly. "Go upstairs and lay down on the couch in your office," she instructs him gently. I'm going to sit here and see what I can do to start putting together pieces of this stupid puzzle." Which brings to mind, "And by the way… did you get a delivery the other day?"

"A puzzle?" A slight furrowing of Cardinal's brow at that as he leans back, "A delivery - I'm not sure, I didn't check my mail. I think it's all piled up on my desk. Why, what's this puzzle you're talking about?"

Well, she had been referring to the puzzle of what sets off the riots. But being as the word is what brought the mail to mind, Elisabeth quirks a brow and says, "The riots and what sparks them. But in point of fact, the word 'puzzle' is appropriate. I got a piece of a jigsaw in the mail with a word on the back. And I heard a murmur through the Ferry that maybe some other people have too, out at Gun Hill."

"Huh. I'll take a look at my mail…" Cardinal draws in a breath, then exhales it, leaning in to press a kiss against her forehead, "…alright. I'll go upstairs and grab a cat-nap, should probably get some rest at least. Getting to the point that I'm not going to be able to focus on anything anyway."

"I think you blasted past that point about 9 miles back, lover," Elisabeth comments. "By the time you get up, there'll be some dinner, okay?" Apparently she's planning on sticking tight here unless or until she's called out by FRONTLINE crap. She swats him gently. "Go. Sleep. Your bags have bags. It's not a bit attractive," she teases.

"Yeah, yeah." Cardinal slips around her, one hand trailing off her hip as he steps past and turns, walking backwards as he teases, "If dinner's especially good, maybe we can break in that couch in the office…" A wink, and he turns back around once more, fingers raking back through his hair as he moves to the stairs.

He'll have to get some sleep while he can.

There's less and less chance for it these days.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License