The Fork In The Road


cardinal_icon.gif eve3_icon.gif

Scene Title The Fork In The Road
Synopsis When faced with the choice of walking two roads.. Cardinal decides to take a third road.
Date December 14, 2010

Ruins of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

The chill of late autumn has settled over the city like a shroud, but mercifully it hasn't brought with it the endless snows of the previous season. At the heart of the ruins, that memorial light splits the evening like a spear, forty-five lights that burn within the heart of the ruins where Peter Petrelli became the culmination of the Company's plans.

It's quiet, here near Ground Zero, where the flattened and blasted lands of the ruins are relatively safe — just before one hits the radiation zone. The only things that walk here, most nights, are ghosts.

There's a ghost that walks this evening on two legs; black from head to toe, ceramics and ballistic fabrics matte in the night. The FRONTLINE logo isn't visible on the armoured figure, unlike those 'government superheroes' that show up now and again. No logos at all. The soft crackle of a geiger counter whispers in his hand as he walks the perimeter, occasionally pausing as if taking note of readings. Mapping the perimeter. Figuring out how much work is ahead.

The sounds of music can be heard echoing through the area. A acoustic guitar being played, the strings being plucked in intricate and unique patterns. Starting fast then slowing down, a melodic and airy tone, also in the distance the crackling and popping of a fire can be heard.

Run, run run away, cause it's going down in flames

Comes the voice of a woman, a voice that Richard might recognize. If and when the man turns the corner he would see an interesting sight. There's a fork in the road, one way to the left is rubble and wreckage while on the right is a mostly clear road that perhaps leads back to the more lively part of the ruins, where the library and such are. Is that a serious statement? Lively in the Ruins of Midtown?

Hide, hide hide but there's nowhere left to go

Seated in the middle of the fork on a island of what was once pavement, on a tall pile of rubble sits a woman with raven dark hair that cascades down. Her eyes closed as she plucks away on the guitar, hardly strumming, not for this song. Her calf high black combat boots are near the trash can that currently has a fire roaring out of it. Maybe some homeless people were crowded around it before the woman made her camp here. The flames illuminate her pale skin, the Taylor acoustic guitar and the plain, cotton black dress that falls to just about her knee. A thin strap falls to her shoulder as she focuses on guitar, the flames crackling in the foreground. The song takes a softer, even lighter tone as she reaches the bridge.

Don't be scared.. don't you cry.. it's gonna.. be alright.

Eve Mas' voice soars through the Ruins, not many come to this part of the city. But few people know the Ruins as intimately as the seer does. This is her home, her true stomping grounds. On the ground beside her is a dark green messenger bag a notepad and pencil laid on top of it next to it, her dark brown leather jacket lays as if she just threw it to the floor. Not wanting to wait to sing her song.

A lullaby for the people of the Ruins, their songstress has returned.

As that song soars through the skies, even above the steady crackling of the geiger counter in Richard's hand, his helmeted head lifts - a frown pursing his lips beneath the opaque faceplate as he scans the rubble and shattered pavement for signs of life or movement. The meter's lowered to his side, his other hand drifting towards his sidearm as he walks in the direction of that song, tiny bits of debris crunching under heavy boots.

It doesn't take long before he turns that corner, seeing the woman there and her guitar. The figure clad in Horizon combat armour just stares for a long moment before walking towards her. Both hands lift, disengaging the helmet's locks and pulling it off his head, the helmet tucked under one arm as the shadowman approaches the prophetess.

"Eve. You're out?"

"Hello there, Richard." The guitar comes to a halt, not abrupt because she's still plucking at the strings softly. A nice set in the background along with the fire. Her eyes open to reveal the familiar light grey eyes that flick to Cardinal and then to the fire before closing again, lost in her music but apparently not lost enough to where she can't talk to the man.

"Well.. of course I am." A sly smile crosses her lips as she continues to play. A booted foot is moved slightly making a bit of rubble tumble down and hit the trash can of fire with a bit of a ding. But that doesn't interrupt her playing. "I'm free.. whatever freedom is nowadays." Shrugging her shoulders a little, her facial expression turns to one of concentration as she ends the song on a good note, the final guitar note ringing in the air around them. "They've missed my music." She says absently and lays her delicate looking hands upon the guitar.

A brief breeze ruffles a little of her hair and she shivers a little, not an uncomfortable shiver. She's actually quite warm next to the fire. "Have one." She gestures to something next to her and then she's pulling out a small container, when opened cookies can be seen. Chocolate chip of course, her favorite. Eve's eyes study the man in front of her. "And.. the real question is.." She leans forward, the firelight twinkling in her eyes.

"Are you free?"

At the usual glide of cryptic statements and riddles from a precognitive, the faintest of smiles tugs up at the corner of Cardinal's tired mouth, his head shaking slowly as he finishes his approach to her little encampment just at the edge of the safe zone. There's an awkward pause as he's offered the cookie, since he doesn't have any free hands, and then he bends down to set the meter and his helmet on the ground, reaching out to - carefully - take one of the cookies.

"Thanks," he says, taking a bite from it and glancing out towards the memorial lights in the distance, "And I'm as free as any man is. One of the last free men, maybe, even. I'm surprised he let you go."

Despite her cryptic messages and whatnot, she does look better. At least to most people she does, that fidgeting and looking over her shoulder isn't happening as much as it use to at least, on the inside. She's beginning to feel more or less the same..

After he takes the cookie, she quietly takes one and begins to munch on it. Her jaws working at the same time that her gears are grinding. "There was a price," there always is, isn't it? She quickly polishes off the cookie and lays the container on her notepad, open and free for Cardinal to take more if he wishes. She didn't just make them for herself. Eyes squint at Cardinal as she speaks and she nods her head.

"Not sure if we're ever really free, Fate likes to keep her hold on us humans." She smiles softly and runs a finger down the strings of the guitar, sounding a bland note. "So much tragedy lately," her eyes drift off towards the sky and then back to the leader of Endgame. "But at least you have family to help you through." She dips her head with a wink towards Cardinal.

"The road is sort of dark isn't it?" she looks towards the road to the left, the one less traveled. "Darker than it's ever been." She never thought she'd say something like that, the reign of Kazimir use to be considered the darkest time, once for her. "Are you traveling the road that you know?" A nudge towards the road leading around back to the library and Mas Mechanics. "Or.. the other one.." a lazy look is thrown over to the other one.

Both aren't light well at all.

The edge of the cookie's nibbled upon as Cardinal watches the lights point up towards the skies, listening to her as she talks. At the mention of family, he exhales a faint snort of breath. Naturally she'd know about that. "Family…" A pause, and he shakes his head, brushing away whatever he was about to say.

He gestures with his hand towards her, then, turning to face her. "We're always free. Fate only makes fools of men who don't have the will to defy it. It lets the rest of us make fools of ourselves…" Wry, the last, and then he looks over towards the roads. One, then the other. Both laden with meaning. Both fairly dark.

"Neither," he replies quietly, "I've gotten tired of walking roads. I figured I'd pave my own. See where it goes."


Eve says softly as she hears Cardinal and a knowing smile crosses her lips. "Most of men do not realize just how much control fate does have." Her foot taps softly on the rubble and she sighs, "Though we have control and the future is what we make it, yada yada yada." She rolls her eyes a little at the with a brief chuckle.

"There is a plan, a general course of the way things are to come.. and well be." Closing her eyes, she tilts her head up towards the sky and she grins widely. "And for the people that try to make the river bend and twist to their liking.." Head snapping forward and eyes staring steady on Cardinal. "They are punished and pushed back.. into the little holes from which they've come." A warning nonetheless to all who meddle with the timeline greatly.

"Every now and then, one does try to create their own road. Leading to consequences unknown." Eve shrugs and nods at Cardinal's answer. "As long as they remember to not be corrupted by the power of change that they seek." Hands folded in front of her, shoulders back. Her grandmother would be proud as she emits a strong profile. "To also not forget that this mission.. or changing the future is not one person's alone.. is a good thing to remember."

"There is no Grandmaster. This is no game."

"God," Richard quotes as if in rote response, "Does not play dice."

"I've seen it," he says with a slow shake of his head, "Fate, if you want to call it that. Temporal inertia. The tendency of the future to happen no matter what you try and do. It finds a way, flowing around your obstacles like a river." The last of the cookie's eaten, crumbs shaken off his glove in a sifting of brown dust to the blasted earth before his feet.

"But I've seen that plan. I've seen where it leads, time and again, and you know what? Fuck that plan. If I have to move a mountain to stop it… then I will." There's a pause, and he nods, "You're right, though. Like the man said, 'One man alone cannot fight the future'. So the trick is to convince everyone to fight it at once…"

He smiles, slightly. "I'm not going to be careful, Eve. I've been careful. It's what he expects. I'm going to be reckless, now."

Eve is silent as she listens to Cardinal's words. Her eyes closed and her feet crossed at the ankle, guitar now placed gently to the side of her opposite of the cookies and messenger bag. She hums softly and taps her feet at a slow pace.

"You've seen one plan. And one future." She adds and smiles softly. "One man's view of how the future should stay. His ideas mean well.. but they aren't the end all be all. Nobody's is." She adds as well, in a whisper of a voice. "Don't forget that." A breeze flows into the intersection again. "Walk with care, through your reckless mess." Said in a singsong voice. "And be nicer to Lizzy, or I'll stab you in the eye." A twinkle in her eyes as she looks towards Cardinal.

"There are always unseen factors.. people in these situations.. motivations. Don't judge to harshly on him. He's just doing what he thinks best." She sympathizes with the other one, as much as he is hated. His heart was once pure, though if anyone would understand the timeline changing you, it's Eve. "This is our world, don't ruin it."

"That's not the future that I'm talking about… and it's not his plan that I'm talking about, either," Cardinal refutes with a shake of his head. That smile edges up just a bit as he looks to Eve, "And I'll judge him however I want to. He's me. I have every god-damn right. And he killed Elisabeth. That's all I need to know."

He crouches down briefly, picking up the helmet, turning it over in his hands to look into the visor. After a few moments of studying his expression, he turns it around, lifting it up and locking it into place on his head once again. "Then tell the world to get out of my way."

"I know. So defensive."

She says softly and then she's stroking the side of the guitar. Her eyes alight as she gives him a strange look and then nods her head. "A warning.." she says, as she stands softly and regards the man with her eerie light grey eyes. "From me." A tilt of her head follows and she's not smiling now.

"On this reckless road you go on towards, it will lead you closer to the likes of him then you believe.." her eyes bore into where Cardinal stands and her hand raises a bit as she lifts something from her messenger bag. "If you fuck my city up.." eyebrows arch, "If you even for a moment, begin to cultivate his ways.." the wind blows her heavy dark hair as she raises a Berretta high into the sky over her head. What she will do with that gun doesn't need to be said, her look says it all.

"There will be balance," she says softly as she sits and tucks the gun into her messenger bag before picking the guitar up, now sitting cross legged on the rubble. "And the world moves for no one, not matter how hard you push." A light smile peeks at the edge of her lips. The container closed and tossed towards Cardinal. "Take them.. you need them."

Humming soon emits from the dreamer as she plays a new song for the Ruins, a true lullaby. Closing her eyes, apparently their meeting is over.. for now.

At the dramatic brandishing of the gun and the declaration of her intentions, Cardinal actually laughs; quietly inside his helmet, but audibly, reaching out to catch the container of cookies as it's lobbed his way. The geiger counter's used to gesture in her direction as he notes in darkly-humoured tones, "Get in line."

As he's dismissed so to speak, he turns with a shake of his head, walking not down either of the roads but off to the side - stepping up on rubble as he makes his way back off on his errand. "And if you have to ask those questions and make those threats, Eve, then you don't know what I'm going to do either. Guess that makes me free after all. Take care've yourself."

A chuckle escapes Eve as she grins up towards Cardinal. "A precaution, that's all. You walk a dangerous path, that could hurt a great number of people. If you think that you don't.. then you're delusional as I once was.. or am. I guess all our paths are dangerous." She grins and shrugs. "Now stop acting like everyone is your enemy. Be careful of all those assassins, very keen on you." A scolding tone to her old friend. "And be sure to share some of those with your friends, I put a lot of love into those."

And there she is, nodding off again. Humming and playing the guitar. "Free as you think. And be careful, I'm not coming to your deathbed if you end up without a leg or something, kay?" light humor, to end their meeting.

The guitar chords ringing out, a little happiness in the notes. For the desolate land. They need the happiness, no matter how short lived it is.

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