The Business of Murdering Futures


angelina_icon.gif cardinal3_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title The Business of Murdering Futures
Synopsis …is what Endgame is about, or so Cardinal says after Peyton less eloquently describes the group to newcomer Angelina. Also, the whereabouts of a certain "Doc" are discussed!
Date February 23, 2010

New York Public Library

In the security room of the library, a tattered shadow is draped over the wall; silently watching the video feeds from various places in the building, observing a raccoon crawling through a lower room here and a drift of snow rustling through a broken wall there. Cardinal's silent, perhaps sleeping, perhaps lost in thought.

Life without hands is dreadfully boring.

A bowed head, slowly-moving form moves through the library toward the room Cardinal's shadow lurks. The silhouette, if not the clothing, looks like Peyton's but she lacks the girl's normal long, coltish stride, moving as if in pain though not limping. When the figure gets close enough to one of the cameras, the head comes up — it is indeed the clairvoyant, though she's clearly not well — her mouth is cut and swollen, her eyes nearly as dark and ringed as the raccoon scurrying in the one room. She gives a tentative wave so that anyone watching will know it is friend, not foe entering Endgame's sanctuary.

Peyton peeks in the various rooms that Cardinal might lurk in, finding the library quiet as usual, until she finds his penumbral form in the security room. "Hey, Card," she says softly, dropping today's newspaper on the table — if she spreads it out for him, he can at least read. She waits for the inevitable, chewing her lower lip a little sheepishly.

"Hello, Peyton." Peyton. The tenebrous tatter shifts to spill slowly over the table, stretching tendrils of darkness out across the paper. The hollow, echoing voice is quiet, bereft of much emotion, carefully controlled, "Do you have anything for me?" For me…?

No questions on her bruised face and broken pride perhaps make it easier to discuss. She offers explanation without his requesting it: "Danko… Danko was at the gala last night. I ran into him in the stairs and he pinned me." Her voice is flat, almost as emotionless as his, though for her it's shock and not because of a lack of matter. "I tried to fight back. They had him at the end of the night, the Frontline people. Some blond woman. Not Kerschner."

She sighs and leans against a table. "I can't — my head, my eyes, I just get dizzy when I try to see right now. But last night, before I left for the party, I looked in again on that Doc guy. I couldn't get anything clear all weekend, and I'm still not sure what I saw. He's like … in one of those water tanks, like they keep aliens in? Or…" her mind grasps at a memory of some old movie she watched on cable once as a child, "that mermaid in that movie with Tom Hanks before he got old?" Splash. "Like that."

At the mention of what Danko did, there's a faint, threatening hiss from the shadows. "Sanderson, maybe…?" Maybe… Then there's a pause, "…they have him in some sort of liquid tank? What— why would they— " Curious…

"No… She was really annoying and tall and I'm sure she mentioned her name but I can't remember." Too busy being terrified, sorry. "I saw a lot of people though. The president, for one, and Linderman and I met Kain." Her cheeks might actually grow a touch rosy at that name's mention. "Autumn and some guy named Tristan and this bald guy who works for Linderman, too." She's trying to think, but her eyes narrow as if the light is to strong for them.

"Nathan Two was there? Excellent… that's wonderful actually… and Linderman, good. Kain, Autumn… quite the selection," Cardinal's shadow whispers, "A water tank though? What in the world… it must be some sort of experimentation…" Experiments…

"There are people in white coats looking at him, but I couldn't see them clearly through the water to get a fix on them unfortunately," Peyton says, sounding disappointed in herself as opposed to pleased with the carnival of sights she has to choose from, from the perspective of so many important people. "Oh, Praeger, too, but I met him already, and there was some guy with him, I think Praeger called him Agent — must be a bodyguard type, secret service, or Company?" Her eyes flicker around the room, and return to his shadow. "Do you eat or anything? I mean… is there anything you need?"

"No." No. Barely a breath, a whisper of response. "I'm just a shadow… I don't need anything." Nothing… A lonely, pained note to the hollow voice, though it only lingers a moment before fading. Then there's movement on the security cameras, and Cardinal's torn substance stirs, "Who's that?"

"I'm sorry," the clairvoyant says in a smaller voice, apologetic for perhaps drawing too much attention to the obvious. She looks at him sadly, catching her lower lip in between teeth for a moment before his attention goes to the monitor. She winces as she tilts her face to the monitor too swiftly, the swollen tissues aching with the sudden movement. One hand goes to her cheek, as if to hold in the pain. "I don't know her… should I go scare her off?" Well, her face does look a bit frightening, but how Peyton would scare off anyone is unclear. Especially anyone daring enough to tromp around Midtown.

"Ah, it's Angelina… an old friend of mine I asked to come in…" The shadow slithers off the table, curling in a spiral up the clairvoyant's leg until he's spread across her back like a tattered cloak of darkness, "…let's go make her feel welcome, shall we?" Shall we…?

It's slow, hesitant steps that carry Angelina into the library. She's got a slight frown marring her brow, her lips curved downward, when she first comes into view of the others. She stops when she sees those others, saying nothing as she studies the non-shadowy figure intently.

The shadow up the leg and over the back thing might be sort of creepy except that it's as close to touching Cardinal as she can get — and while they were barely more than acquaintances when he left, and never hugged or were otherwise physically close, the fact he has no body now has made the fact that she can't touch him painful — like missing something you never knew you had, or like only noticing a stubbed toe hurts when one sees the damage. Peyton reaches with one hand to her shoulder, a quick pass of something like a pat, except of course it's only her own coat she touches. "Hi," Peyton says to the newcomer, a tentative smile for the stranger.

"Angelina…" Angel… The shadow of Richard Cardinal uncoils from Peyton's frame as she heads down to meet the newcomer, spilling in broken, tattered remnants over the floor and up along one wall, "…meet Peyton. Peyton, this is Angelina."

Angelina's brow arches as she watches that shadow moving, but there's no surprise to it. Her head tilts, before she looks back to Peyton, nodding slightly to her. "Hey."

"Nice to meet you," Peyton says, before glancing at the shadow. "Anything you want me to look in on? I don't think the headache will last too long. Nothing's broken except my pride." She makes a face at that. "So much for self defense… doesn't do shit when the person knows what you're going to do, I guess." She brushes an errand strand of hair out of her eyes. "I'll keep trying on Doc, starting tomorrow, see if I can see something more clear sometime, any sort of clue as to where."

"You need to get some rest, Peyton… you look like hell," Cardinal points out, the rippling shadows twisted along the wall, "And a few classes isn't going to make you a match for a hired killer like Danko. Rest and recover." A tendriling thread of darkness stretches along the wall closer to Angelina, "Angel was there when they stopped the Nightmare Man, apparently…"

Angelina shrugs a shoulder. "Wasn't really a man at all, but…yeah," she says, sounding a little grumpy about it for some reason. "What's the big deal though, Card?" she asks, finding a wall to lean against, hands shoving into her ratty coat's pockets.

Peyton nods slowly. "Actually speaking of rest… I was wondering if I could … crash here, at least til my face doesn't look like it was used for a catcher's mitt. I can't handle Aaron worrying about it, and it's … awkward staying at Faye's, nice as she was last night." She doesn't explain who Faye is, though Cardinal will know Aaron is her roommate. The new information on the Nightmare Man gets her interest. "Oh, yeah? I had a few of those dreams. I heard it was ended, but not the details." She looks impressed.

"You know you're welcome…" Welcome…. There's a pause, then, before Cardinal asks in that hollow whisper, "Peyton, why don't you explain who we are to Angelina. She isn't entirely in the know about things. I doubt she knows any more than the news media tells her…" Lies…

Angelina looks almost embarrassed when Peyton looks impressed, and her only other response on the Nightmare Man is a jerk of her shoulders. She looks to Cardinal then, brow furrowing. "Yes, because I carry around a TV in my back pocket. I don't know shit unless it happens to me," she says dryly.
From afar, Cardinal laughs. Tell it from—Peyton's POV! He's as curious as to what she thinks we're all about as anything. ;)

The clairvoyant frowns a little as she's put on the spot to explain something Peyton isn't entirely sure about. "I won't get any of it right…" she says, like a school child called on to give an answer that she hasn't prepared in her head yet. "Cardinal sort of leads us as a group of …" she frowns, not knowing the word she wants, and gives a frustrated shake of her head. "We try to stop bad things from happening. He has some guy from the future who leaves us clues — well, him, clues, I can't make any sense of it and I don't think the guy foresaw me helping out, because who the hell would ever think that would happen? Anyway, I guess we sort of fight injustice." Well, isn't that very SuperFriends of them? She sighs. "I sound like an imbecile."

A low, hollow chuckle stirs from the torn shadow. "I suppose we are rather… poorly identified, aren't we? We're in the business, if one wants to be poetic, of murdering futures. We have a network of precognitives and predictors, and when they see something unpleasant on the horizon - we deal with it. There's things the government hasn't told you. Super-plagues that've almost wiped out humanity. A man who could rip powers from your body nearly took over the government. The President isn't even who you think he is…" Petrelli…

"And on the New Year, I absorbed a nuclear bomb that would have flooded most of the world." Munin…

Angelina frowns a little as she listens to first Peyton, then Cardinal, then frowns a little deeper. "Okay…hold on, back up," she says, shaking her head, holding up a hand in a 'wait' sort of gesture. "What do you mean you absorbed a bomb? How is that even possible? Is that why you are the way you are now? And who's the President if he's not who I think he is? And why are you telling me this?"

"Murdering futures," Peyton echoes, a slightly awed look coming into her eyes as she glances at Cardinal. "You are poetic. Never would have thought it." She of course knows how poetic he can be from the journal she read, when she thought he was gone forever. Her eyes turn back to Angelina. "If he told you where to find us, I'm guessing he wants you to join us," she says with a shrug.

"It wasn't easy… and yes. It nearly killed me." Did kill me… Cardinal's torn substance pulls together slowly as he's silent for a moment, "…and yes, essentially. Sometimes I might need something blown up, and it's kind've hard to pick up a satchel of C4 these days, you know. You help us work to save the world from itself, and in return, well…" A dry whisper, "…a good shower is the least of the fringe benefits, I can assure you." Assure you…

Peyton winces slightly at the word 'killed.' He does seem more like a ghost than a man, though she will take whatever of her friend she can get. "If you helped stop the oneiromancer," Peyton says, turning to Angelina, "hell, I owe you for that. He almost killed me and several of my friends." She shivers slightly. Did Cardinal know she tried to kill herself when he was away? She can't remember. Doubtful. The whole almost dying and saving the world thing sort of trumped a bad dream.

Angelina glances between them for a long moment, silent, a brow arched slightly. "I'm all for blowing stuff up. I haven't seen a good explosion in a long time. But…" Because there has to be a but, "I'm not exactly dependable. Moving around, no phone…" Her gaze fixes on Cardinal's shadow for a minute. "If it's the least, then why don't you tell me about the greatest?" she asks softly before looking back to Peyton, shaking her head. "It wasn't a he. It was the woman who was telling us to go stop the nightmares. But you don't owe me jack. I didn't do it for thanks or anything like that. I did it 'cause I was tired of being harassed in my dreams."

Another echoing chuckle from Cardinal, "…we can hook you up with somewhere to live. Here, or an apartment. Phones. Any gear you might need. This isn't my old… work out of the back of a car or a basement, work and move situation anymore, Angel. And this library isn't as decrepit as it looks." A pause. "…well, in parts, anyhow. You wouldn't need to keep running anymore." Running…

"I can get you a phone, for sure," Peyton offers. "And it's not bad here. I'm going to stay a night or two… and I'm a prima dona who wouldn't go camping if there weren't hot showers kinda thing, you know?" she smirks. It's true but the fact she can talk about herself that way means she's changing. "Cardinal has a way of making non-dependable people dependable. Trust me." There's a self-deprecating grin at that. The other woman doesn't seem the type to follow news or gossip, so she probably doesn't know how true that statement is for Peyton.

Angelina stiffens a little. "Who's running? I'm not running," she says, sounding a little irked. "And I don't need charity either. I'll take what I deserve for whatever work I end up doing for you, and nothing more." She glances at Peyton. "Camping would be a step up from where I'm at now," she says, voice flat and soft.

"Of course you're running," Cardinal replies in that shadowy hiss of his, "We all are… from the government, from Humanis, from the law, from our pasts… but it's time to stop running, Angel. There is work to do." The shadow's voice deepens, louder and authoritative, though the effort of doing so scatters the shadowy tatters further apart, and silence follows as he works to drag himself slowly back together.

"I'm not offering charity, either," he whispers once he's recovered, "What I'm offering is a chance to make a profit, to make a difference, and kick in the teeth of the bastards who want to see our kind extinct. We're going to come out on top, Angel, but we need all the help we can get." Help…

Peyton's eyes widen as the voice grows loud, the loudest she's heard him, and then her brows knit in concern at the slow coalescing of the shadow's shards and tatters. Her lips part as if to warn him, but she closes them again. Her dark eyes flit from him to the newcomer. There is a tacit and earnest expression on Peyton's face — as if to ask Angelina, Can't you see how important it is? He almost died for this. "You can still do whatever it is you do now, but this is something that's important," she says softly. "To be honest? I'd be lost if it weren't for having this. I don't know if I would have made it through this past few months."

"What I'm doing now is stealing so I have food in my belly every couple of days," Angelina says to Peyton, eyes cool as she reveals that little insight into what makes Angelina. She looks back to Cardinal. "I always said I'd helped. What, do you want me to sign something in blood? You want something blown up, just point me at it. If you want it big, make sure you have some C4 on hand for a nice chain of explosions."

"We've got plenty of food here, Angelina," Cardinal replies, perhaps a bit wistfully, "And shelter. As for blowing things up…" A dark little chuckle, "…I'm sure we'll have enough of that soon enough. This city doesn't stay quiet for long."

"I bring in supplies from 'town' usually when I come," Peyton says to Angelina. "Anything in particular you want? I'll pick it up, if you're not wanting to go through the ruins to civilization any time soon. Speaking of which!" she says and the first genuine smile cracks as she reaches into a bag she set on the table. She pulls out a couple of boxes — one purple, one green. "Hide those or Bones will eat them all. Sorry, Card." Girl Scout cookie season.

Angelina looks between shadow and woman for a long moment, finally settling her gaze on Peyton. "I'm not picky." Though it's nearly possible to see her mouth watering when cookies are brought out, and she stares at them for a moment, trying to control the urge to destroy both boxes in two minutes flat. Finally she takes a deep breath and looks to Cardinal. "So you gonna be just a shadow forever, Card? 'Cause lemme tell you…I have a feeling that the urge to smack you upside the head is gonna rise from time to time."

"I don't know." A quiet admission from Cardinal, the tattered whisper soft in the library's dim light, "I hope not."

Peyton turns away, using that moment to shield her eyes from both shadow and woman by picking up one of the boxes — the Thin Mints, and opening them quickly, guessing that the other woman is shy, trying to contain herself. She pulls out one of the two columns of cookies, blinking back the tears she's trying to keep at bay, and managing to do so before turning back to hand the cookies to Angelina. "Eat them all. I bought them from some brat in my building but I don't want any."

As hungry as she seems to be, Angelina pays no attention to the cookies right away, but studies the shadow. "Any ideas how to fix it? Like, would more radiation fix ya? Or someone who can…I don't know…manipulate shadows or something?" she asks, before she takes the cookies with a murmured thank you. She opens them slowly, carefully, and eats the same way, though it looks like a chore.

There's silence from Cardinal's shadowy form for a few more heartbeats, and then he allows, "I have some things to see to… Peyton, make sure Angelina gets settled in comfortably…?" The tattered lace of darkness drifts into the ambient shadows of the library, slipping away like the ghost he might easily be thought to be.

"Sure," Peyton says, frowning a touch with worry as the shadow moves away. Once she thinks he's out of hearing (because, how would you tell?) she glances at Angelina. "How long you known him?" she asks softly, heading to box and pulling out a couple of water bottles, tossing one to the thief.

Angelina shrugs, catching the bottle while she shoves down the cookies as neatly as possible. "A while. Worked with him a couple times before. He showed up a couple days ago. Recruiting me I guess."

Peyton nods. "I got recruited from a mutual friend, but she's not around anymore. Not really sure why." Not that she really understood Niki, Gina, Jessica all that well! She was never sure which one was talking to her, let alone the woman's (women's) motivations. "So you blow stuff up? What's that called on the nifty little cards they give folks like us? Or do you do it all the old fashioned way?"

"I have no idea what they call it. I refuse to register. No doubt I'd find myself in some little concrete and steel cell," Angelina says with a shrug. "I just know I focus on things and they go boom."

"Lucky you. I got forced to," Peyton says a little drily. "But they don't really know what I can do, at least not the way I can do it," she adds vaguely, not offering more information on the power. "Well. Let me show you where you can put your stuff and sleep and such. It's not a bad set up. I might take a nap to keep from overdosing on Tylenol." The clairvoyant smiles as she pushes off the table to head to the "bedrooms" — mostly little nooks and crannies piled with sleeping mats and blankets that are close enough to the generator that space heaters keep them warm.

"What can you do?" Angelina asks curiously as she moves away from the wall to follow Peyton, still munching on cookies, moving through the pack rather quickly.

"Clairvoyant," Peyton supplies. "It's really about all I'm useful for. I'm useless when it comes to fighting and that sort of thing. As you might have been able to tell." She gestures to her poor mottled face. "I wish I could say 'you could see the other guy' but aside from getting a bit damp, he didn't get a mark on him." She finds a little closet where she herself had stowed a sleeping pad and sleeping bag, though they belong to no one in particular. "This do for you? You can bring in more stuff, make it your own… I know others have more elaborate set ups."

Angelina looks at the bag then to Peyton. "That works," she murmurs, not mentioning that she's wearing everything she owns. "Um…One question. I sort of…have a cat. A kitten. Anyone here anti-kitten?" she asks, sounding more concerned for the feline than for herself.

Peyton smiles at that. "Not that I know of… but you might ask or just find a small space for it… If Card says it's cool, it's cool with me. Just be careful. We get raccoons and other critters sometimes." She gives another yawn. "I'm going to go lay down and see if I can sleep off some of this headache. It's nice to have you, Angelina." She steps out of the small closet, to go find another bed no one is using.

"Don't know about that," Angelina murmurs, but she nods to Peyton. "Thanks, Peyton. And I'll ask Card."

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