The Bonding of Antagonists


cardinal_icon.gif warren_icon.gif

Scene Title The Bonding of Antagonists
Synopsis Cardinal and Warren discuss their plans for November 8th, as well as various guy things.
Date October 28, 2010

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries and research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

It's afternoon, and the library's changed a bit since Cardinal last saw it, at least on the inside. There's the occasional robotic cockroach or spider that crawls around a book case, many of them seeming to follow one's movements, provided they're in a human form. Some rooms remain untouched, but the security has been turned on and repaired as needed, and quite a few books are missing, if one notices that kind of thing.

The large reading room is where all the action is, with piles upon piles of parts on some tables, and about a dozen almost finished jammers of varying sizes. Some are more impressive than others, but they all look to be on their way to being highly functional. At the back of the room, some of the tables seem to have been taken apart and put together into two small huts, about the size of tents, suggesting that they've been sleeping here. While another table has blue prints stapled to it.

Warren is at a table that only has one jammer, this one less finished than the others. He's been trying to knock another one out while they still have time. On the same table, he seems to have the head of one of those panther robots, with the skull popped open and the brain clearly poked at. FOr once, he's not wearing his suit, he's in a black tanktop, a pair of blue jeans, his boots, and on his face he has a pair of black goggles that shield his eyes from the little soddering iron poking at the jammer.

Richard Cardinal knows the way; he spent months setting the library up, and it's almost nostalgic coming home to it again, walking through the sturdy structure of the building one slow step at a time, hands tucked away in the pockets of his jacket. A step over a robotic cockroach that scuttles underfoot, and he glances after it, a raise of his hand brushing over the edge of one of the reinforced doors that Alec installed a lifetime ago.

Then he's walking into the Rose Reading Room where Warren's set up show, eyebrows raising a little at the scattered technology sitting everywhere in piles. Huh. "Afternoon, Warren," his voice lifts in a casual greeting, slowly making his way through the room towards where the man's seated.

"Hey." Warren says in his obviously distracted tone, but after another few minutes, he sits up, lays his iron down, then raises his goggles to reveal normal blue eyes. "Hector Steel's work is saving our lives here. I had a feeling that his radio technology would help." There's a pause, and a slight frown, something bugging him despite everything apparently going right. "Stupid question, but can we have man to man advice time? I'm realizing that, despite having my sanity, I still have a skewed perspective on if what I do is normal or not. I made a mistake, and now Elle hates me."

"How much of the city are we going to be able to blanket with all of this?" Cardinal picks up a piece of… something from a table, turning it to one side, then the other before setting it back down on the table. Then he cuts a glance over to the other man, exhaling a faint snort of breath. "You really think I'm the one to ask about that, Warren?"

"This plan is working on two levels. First the actual jammers, which, in the end, will be around a dozen or so. I have strategic locations mapped out for them to be placed. The second phase is a different kind of jamming device, which will be placed on broadcasting relays, turning those into jammers. I'll need hands to do this, I can't do it all on my own. Anyone you can get who's capable of doing this. But, to answer your question…" Warren motions around the room with both hands, perhaps indicating the entire city. "It'll jam everything, the whole city, cellphones included. The only problem would be wired cable, but that'll just take some creative terrorism. I've seen the network, it's not hard to take down. You snip a few strategic wires here and there with your shadow form, and things are scrambled for a good week."

He crosses his arms, not wearing gloves at all, so for once Cardinal can see the full extent of his robotic arm, which goes up to his elbow. "And to tell the truth, I don't know if you're the person to ask. Despite our antagonistic relationship, you're the only man I know who doesn't have an immediate reason to kill me."

At the explaination of the plan, Cardinal nods quietly, gaze trailing over the various jammers set up on the tables. "I think I know who to ask for that," he admits, "Do they need any technical skills, or is setting the devices up pretty easy? Apila says that even cable comes in through towers these days, too, so most of the cable network should go down as well…" A pause, and he murmurs more quietly, "Maybe he's wrong."

Then he turns back to Warren, a single brow lifting. "So what is it you did?"

"Not all cable. There's always people with low budget wired cable. And no real technical skills needed, each device will have written instructions." Warren grabs the little panther head, starting to poke around its head with his metallic fingers. "Well, long story short, I was having a really bad day, met a very attractive woman when I stayed out too late to get home, went back to her place, then, well, you know. But this was before Elle told me she was going to stay, before I thought she was coming back. I thought it was over between us. I couldn't lie to her, so a few days ago, I told her the truth, then she shocked me and I stayed in the hospital all night. Was this me being crazy, or me being stupid?"

"Good, good," Cardinal's chin bobs in a few short nods, "That'll make this easy, then…" He listens to the other man's words, then, and shakes his head, "That was just stupid, Warren, not crazy. Honestly, though— you aren't good for each other. You're both very fucked-up individuals who need a lot of support and help… and your problems just feed on each other."

"I can't even explain why, but, everything just feels better when she's around. I know she has problems, I know I have problems, but at least I'm sane enough to encourage her to get help." Warren slumps, resting his arms on the table. "If she was ever going to speak to me again. Gillian's gotten attached to me too, but she understands that work comes before anything else, and I can't be with her that way."

At the mention of Gillian, Cardinal raises an eyebrow slowly… and then he shakes his head, a sigh whispering past his lips. "She needs independence, Warren," he says quietly, "All her life, she's just done what she's told, desperately trying to get approval. She needs to learn who she is, and to care about herself. Any relationship for her is a bad idea right now."

"I'm going to make her my apprentice, teach her what I know. I don't want her to be a rebound girl, and there's something unsettling about the fact that every guy she dates tries to kill her. But for now, she is a good shoulder to lean on." Warren rests his chin on the palm of his robotic hand, staring at the jammer in front of him. "I'm the last person anyone should want approval from."

"I was talking about Elle." Cardinal leans back against the table's edge, arms folding over his chest as he regards the other man for a long moment. "I heard about what you did out in the park."

Warren's quiet when Cardinal corrects himself, but instead seems to choose against commenting further on the Elle situation. "Yeah, the park, that'd be a part of the 'grand plan' I was talking about. I have bigger plans than that. My end goal is Midtown. I have a way to get rid of the radiation, the person just needs the proper training. Then I can move in the person who grows plants, and we'll have a new Midtown after a while."

Cardinal nods ever so slightly, as if he expected that. "Good," he says simply, firmly, "If there's anything you need for that, let me know, and I'll get it for you. The loss've the Mother Earth Project was the one thing I regretted losing with Pinehearst."

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Warren says rather casually, picking up a small tool, at least a few inches smaller than a screw driver, then touches the panther head's brain. There's a shock, and the eyes briefly glow red, then dies down again. "Actually, I've been trying to think of a good type of training for someone with a radiation manipulating ability. So far I'm at a loss. They have some control, so what I want to teach them is fine manipulation, absorbing it."

"You don't need to. Just know that it's a good plan… and it's got a pretty decent chance of succeeding," says Cardinal, his head shaking a little bit, "I really don't know, about the radiation thing. Seems like absorbing it into themselves is dangerous, though. Maybe they could figure out a way to transfer it? Sure, we'd end up with some nuclear waste products, but those could be removed from the middle of the city at least."

"Maybe if I had some nuclear containment unit schematics, I think that's a great idea. I'll need Gillian to practice with her though, I'm not about to just randomly have someone with that ability augmented. They'll need some extensive practice together. And we'll have to find a way to make sure it's safe for Gillian." Warren pokes around the head's brain a few more times, not knowing a thing about programming, but he seems to have figured out how to force the mouth to open and close, and just passively play with the killing machine. "But there's something I'm a little worried about. After we jam the broadcast, don't we need to stop the person from being able to do it again, before we're unable to jam anymore?"

"God, no," Cardinal's nose wrinkles in a slight grimace, "We don't want another Bomb on our hands. So… I'm trusting you to be careful on that point." He rubs his fingers against his neck, "And… yes, we do. We have people looking for him right now. Unfortunately, we still don't have any way to remove the triggers he's implanted in people— we don't even know how many people he affected. He worked at a university, the number could be in the thousands."

"Do you have anyone who could implant triggers?" Warren asks with a raised eyebrow, moving the tool away from the panther head, then turns back to the jammer, this one being a small dish of around a foot and a half. "If we had a way to implant triggers, or suggestions, we could use the hijacking of the broadcasts to implant something totally new. I don't know what kind of conflict with his triggers it would cause, but it'd be better than nothing."

"If we could track down every single person he affected, and we don't know how many," Cardinal admits with a grimace, hands spreading a bit, "We don't have any Persuasives anyhow, not that I know of. If he's smart, he used very obscure triggers, though, so they wouldn't get triggered accidentally. So if he's taken out of the picture, they should be mostly alright."

"This is insane. There's no leads at all?" Warren's once again at work, but doesn't pull his goggles back down. This time he just seems to be attaching wires to things. "This is why I never trust people with personal ambition, with something to gain by changing the world."

"To him? Oh, we'll find him," Cardinal says firmly, "Don't doubt us there, we'll take that sleazy bastard down. It's just literally impossible to track down every single person he's ever interacted with."

"I'll trust you there. We have a lot of differences, but at the very least, I know you know what you're doing." Warren pulls the goggles over his eyes, and takes the soddering iron again. "I like being sane, Cardinal. This is all I know right now. And even if this is born out of pragmatism on your part, I want to thank you for the second chance."

"Just don't make me regret it," Cardinal says with a slow shake of his head, "And keep up the good work. The jammers, the park… like I said, anything you need, just let me know. God knows we need to be constructive around here."

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