String Quartet


df_cardinal2_icon.gif broome_icon.gif

Scene Title String Quartet
Synopsis Simon Broome(s) and Richard Cardinal go about adjusting their map of the future.
Date December 9, 2010

The Commonwealth Arcology : C-Ring

The rapid-fire notes of a high-tempo piano playing are piped in through ceiling and wall-mounted speakers in an elliptical chamber deep within the vaults of the Commonwealth Arcology, far below the streets of Cambridge. It is the striking 12th Etude by the legendary Polish composer Frederic Chopin, the Revolutionary Etude. Its speedy pace, dramatic intentions and evocative design is perfect — and perhaps titular — for the work going on in this well-lit room.

Much of the domed ceiling here is illuminated, composed of diagonally-tiled panels that emit a soft and natural light. Each panel is designed to produce a silhouette and shadow scheme across its thousands of tiny LEDs, resulting in the impressionistic spatter of light down below, reminiscent of sunlight filtering through the leafy branches of a tall tree. This, coupled with horizontal, slatted UV lamps in the walls, helps create the impression in peripheral vision of walking through a forest in afternoon hours. Even if when directly scrutinized, the walls are little more than matte, white paneling.

The walls of the chamber are mounted with rows of brackets containing hooks, the kind that modular shelving would normally sit on. Here, these hooks provide anchor points for a cat's cradle of multi-colored string criss-crossing the room like some yarn-spinning spider had been hard at work. The map itself contains hundreds of points on each end, a detailed and convoluted tangle of lines connecting to one another, bending at odd angles as they hook around a different string, and — in some cases — confusingly loop back onto themselves.

Four men attend to and adjust these strings, each man identical to the next. Four iterations of Doctor Simon Broome tread this chamber, each one dressed in an inky-black suit buttoned up to the top, with a dark tie and suit jacket adorned with gold cuff links. His attentive and dark eyes scrutinize each thread, and from the table at the center of the room piled upon with yet more strings, there is more work to be done.

However this design is not simply as menagerie of tangled knots of yarn and thread, there is a categorical organization in place. Each string is meticulously connected with a metal clip and dangling RFID chip that to a casual observer makes the mess seem anything but organized. In each of the Broome's hands, however, is contained a handheld touch-screen device roughly the size of a writing tablet. With a touch of their fingers they pull up information pertaining to each RFID chip that references an internal library of names, places, dates, and events cataloged prior to the creation of the map itself.

The swish of the lone door leading into this chamber opening in near coordination to the end of the etude playing over the speakers has one of the Simons looking up with a single, dark brow raised. The intruder's silhouette is equally as dark as each of the Simons' is, though his suit is broken up by the presence of subtle, brick red pin-striping and the addition of a fedora shadowing his eyes. "Simon," is greeted in the voice of Tyler Case, but from the heart of one time-spanned Richard Cardinal.

As he enters the room, the automatic door slides shut behind him, and one hand rises to remove his hat, allowing a clearer look at the map of colorful strings. Cardinal's borrowed eyes flick from side-to-side at each of the strings, then to the pile of those yet to be laid out. "Richard," one of the Simons' greets in return, turning from his attendance of the strings to hold his touch-surface tablet to his chest, turning towards the new arrival.

"How close is it getting?" On asking that question, Richard begins strolling through the map, looking at the tangle of colors intently, as if able to read the map without the benefit of the RFID chip readers and the catalog. A different Simon turns as the last returns to his work, looking between a pair of horizontally traveling strings towards Cardinal.

"Still divergent by nearly sixty percent," the old man admits worriedly, "however with the adjustments made earlier this week we are considerably closer. The small-scale applications are only going to matter so much, however, without knowing how the individuals themselves are going to react. I did have issue with the implication of the system you're using, however, in regards to your younger self."

Cardinal stops, lifting up one hand to reach for a red string, plucking it with a single finger like a musician would the string of a harp. Go on, is an unvoiced approval that comes with a steady nod of Cardinal's head and a turn of his eyes from one string to the Simon that is addressing him. The others continue to work in the background like busy spiders, each spinning a colorful thread across the room.

"Your temporal river hypothesis states that — and is backed up by the actions of 2012's Edward Ray — the time stream steadily moves on a generally acceptable course of action, propelled by the mass actions of multiple individuals headed towards a common goal, and that the individual reactions of single individuals can cause disturbances, but not diversions of the course of the water." At Simon's clarification of his own pseudo-scientific research, Richard crosses his arms and steadily nods his head.

"That the Butterfly effect only has so much pull or sway on the time-stream. On the microcosm, its effects can seem disastrous, but on the macrocosm certain major events still continue down a primary course." Simon's dark brows furrow. "When we first spoke of this theory, you quoted Aasimov's psychohistory concept as the foundation for this model of manipulating history."

"I did," Richard admits, backing up towards the table and sitting down on one corner, his hands folding in his lap. "In his Foundation series, Isaac Aasimov details a fictitious model of sociological prediction, by which the actions of a single individual are unpredictable, but by contrasting previous sociological events the actions of a group or society can begin to be understood and, thereby, controlled."

"Aasimov likened it to studying the movement of a cloud of gas…" Cardinal's eyes close slowly. "A single cloud of gas is made up of countless microscopic atoms, each buzzing around on their own in patterns too manifold to predict the individual movements of each. But the gas cloud itself moves as a whole, and while someone can't predict the exact path of movement for each molecule, they can ascertain the movement of the gas."

Simon tips his head forward into a nod, stepping closer to Richard. "Applying that theory to the notion of interaction with past events in conjunction with the precepts of psychohistory in general gives an individual a considerable ability to predict and manipulate the movements of history throughout time." This much, Simon seems to be in agreement with. "Now, this map," and he looks back to the strings fleetingly, "is designed on the understanding that small-scale events cannot ultimately divert the course of the river of time. You're inverting Edward's manipulation scheme whereupon he designed to put a figurative mountain in the course of history, so as to make nearly all similarities to a possible future incongruous with the passage of actual events."

"What none of this map seems to account for, however, is the introduction of someone within the timeline with the design to create those monumental changes." Simon's dark brows furrow, and Cardinal's seem to match as well. "In evidence, the actions of Samuel Sullivan during the professed time war you spoke to me of once, whereupon an individual like Hiro Nakamura was attempting to ensure the integrity of our own past in relation to events looking to re-align the course of our own future."

"Nakamura isn't a— " Cardinal's own attempt at rebuking Simon's worry comes with a raise of one of the old man's hands.

"I'm not talking about Nakamura," he clarifies. "You yourself stated that there was the possibility of your own past iteration's desire to circumvent the actions you are taking to keep time on a course you know the major events of. After what happened at Redbird Security earlier this week, can you say for certain that he wouldn't risk attempting to move whatever colossal obstructions in your path that he could?"

The concern in Simon's eyes is evident, but Richard seems largely dismissive of them. "Look," he admits with a furrow of his brows. "You need to trust me, Simon, I know myself. I know how I'd react to these things and I know how much pressure I'm— he's— under right now. When it happened in my time things were different, the reasons and the patterns were different but it happened never the less. The same date, the same time, the same broad strokes will keep events happening much in a similar path. We just have to be able to account for what's going to be coming down the line in the small-scale."

"Richard, if there is one thing you taught me over these years…" Simon leans in, as if about to share something in confidence, "it is to never underestimate Richard Cardinal." Both of Simon's brows rise, and the man wearing Tyler Case's face looks away, brows furrowed and one hand lifted to his cheek subtly.

He swallows, noisily, and then slides off of the table and sets his feet down on the floor with a clap of the soles against the black tile. "You let me worry about me," Richard admits reluctantly. "If things get worse, if he does do what you say— then I'll be the first to admit I was wrong." His eyes cast aside, looking down to the strings not yet laid out in the map.

"Then, we'll decide what to do with him."

And no sooner.

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