The Interview


alice_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif niklaus_icon.gif

Scene Title The Interview
Synopsis Richard Cardinal arrives at the offices of the Deveaux Society and uncovers unexpected truth about the past, and his future.
Date February 9, 2011

36 Gramercy Park East

In the shadow of 36 Gramercy Park East, it feels like being transported back in time.

A vintage Rolls Royce idles on the curb, exhaust spewing out the back in feathery clouds in the freezing cold February air. Afternoon's light paints the cityscape of New York a haze of washed out blue against slate gray skyscrapers and their glossy windows. Snow and ice crusts the sidewalks and streets, and across the way at Gramercy Park snow hangs on the spindly, leafless branches of elm trees.

The towering, whitewashed facade of the building at 36 Gramercy Park looks not a bit different than when it was first built prior to the second World War. Its ornate architecture and weathered suits of armor standing on marble blocks out front of its entrance evoke images of the roaring twenties and a more innocent world, a more innocent America.

Thorugh the double doors and into the lobby, the cold and white exterior is replaced by respendant warmth and rich, dark colors. A massive crystal chandelier hangs from the high gold-leaf inlaid ceiling. Everything is painted a rich mocha color, with bas reliefs in Grecian style adorning the upper walls and sandstone and gold sideboards covering the rest. Vibrant red rugs cover portions of the checkered black and brown tile floor, and a three-faced mahogeny reception desk is staffed by a slim gentleman in a jacket with coat-tails.

On his entrance to the building, Richard Cardinal is greeted by the red-clad doorman, a pin attached to his jacket bears an unusual fishhook styling, the same sigil imprinted on the Deveaux Group business cards. "Good morning, Sir. Please, feel free to check in at the front desk…" One white-gloved hand motions towards the reception area, followed by the tell-tale ping of an elevator making its way down to the lobby.

The man Richard has come here to see today, Niklaus Zimmerman, has gone up in the world from sleeping on people's couches.

It seems like his acquaintance has come in in the world indeed. A stroke of fate owed - to some degree - to Richard Cardinal's own machinations. A debt that has yet to be fully repaid.

The CEO and President of Redbird Security Solutions has come properly dressed, of course. A black pinstripe suit, a dark fedora, clothes - appropriately enough - given to him by none other than Charles Deveaux himself. He tips his hat to the doorman, noticing the pin, and then he continues along through and into the lobby en route to the front desk.

The elevator's doors sliding open change his course, though, a smile curving easy to his lips. "Well, well. If it isn't my favorite German…"

Cardinal's favorite German, and company.

The woman at Niklaus side is severe in the way a knife to the throat is, blonde hair swept back from her head in a modern, stylish manner. Blue eyes look unusually crisp, brows trimmed to look pencil thin and knife sharp, about as much as her pointed expression seems to convey as well. Niklaus looks practically docile compared to her, in his sleek gray three-piece suit. The bespectacled German is closing a pocket watch with a click just as he steps out of the elevator, that unfamiliar, older woman moving out on his heels.

"Richard!" It's an excited greeting Niklaus offers to his old savior, arms out to the side and a smile bringing creases to the corners of his eyes. Niklaus doesn't hesitate in throwing his arms around Cardinal in a back-slapping hug, drawing back only to lay hands on each of Cardinal's shoulders and get a good look at him. "Ah, it has been too much time, Richard. Too much time."

The woman behind Niklaus crosses her arms over her chest, the brown leather of her slimming jacket creaking at the posture she takes. One pointed-toe boot taps against the floor as she arches a brow, lips pressed together in a thin line, judgmental as much as she is imperious.

Cardinal's taken aback momentarily by the hug; but then, the man is European. A hand claps around against Niklaus's shoulder, drawing back when the other man does, a chuckle shaking his form as he admits in wry tones, "It's good to have someone actually happy to see me for once. I'm starting to think people call me Richard Stormcrow behind my back…" Literary reference, folks! Five points if you get it.

"You certainly seem to be doing well for yourself these days," he chuckles, glancing to the woman behind him and offering a broad smile to her thin-lipped regard, "And who's your associate?"

Grimacing amusedly, Niklaus lets his hands fall to his side and turns to look over his shoulder at the woman behind him. "Oh, yes, this is— "

A hand is thrust around Niklaus' side as she blonde woman steps forward, offering it in greeting to Cardinal in a way that seems aggressive. "Shaw," she states with implicit clarity, "Alice Shaw. It's a pleasue to finally make your aquaintance mister Cardinal. I've been told much about you." She pauses, if only for a moment, one brow rising slowly in question before she adds. "I thought you'd be taller."

"Ah— Miss Shaw…" Niklaus lays a hand on her shoulder, offering a hesitant smile before quickly withdrawing the hand when it draws a withering look from the blonde. Wringing his hands together, Niklaus' lips twitch up into a lopsided smile, and his attention turns to Cardinal. "Ah, she is a business associate of my mother's, one of the board members for the Deveaux Society. She, ah, insisted on getting to meet you in person."

"I get that a lot," Cardinal replies in affably casual tones, reaching out to clasp the offered hand firmly in his own. Gloved, of course. He deals with far too many people whose powers require touch to stop wearing them at this juncture. "Miss Shaw. Mister Donovan mentioned you, it's a pleasure to meet you in the flesh at last."

A glance to Niklaus, then between the pair as he draws his hand back, a brow lifting over the edge of his shades, "And how is your mother? It seems like… damn, twenty years since I last saw her."

Alice takes a step back after the handshake, offering a slow nod in return while letting Niklaus do the talking for the moment. "Ah, yes, my mother is doing quite well. She is eager to offer thanks to you for what you have done for our family, though she is currently out of state at the moment handling business matters for the society in Virginia." Niklaus reaches up to straighten his tie, offering an askance look to Alice, then back to cardinal.

"When I heard you were coming by, I did not receive a, ah… a reason on the voicemail you left me. Usually you do not show up unless something is wrong, or… well, or unless something needs to be made wrong." Grimacing guiltily, Niklaus offers a look to the doorman, then the receptionist, before nodding back towards the elevator.

"We would all be a bit more comfortable sitting, upstairs and out of this drafty foyer, yes?" Niklaus' brows rise high on his forehead, a hopeful look flashed between Cardinal and Alice.

"Probably for the best," Cardinal admits with a tip of his head towards the elevator, gesturing for the others to precede him towards the elevator, "It probably violates some sort've rule of etiquette to chat in the middle of a lobby for this long. As lovely a lobb as this is. It certainly beats mine…"

A quiet chuckle as he walks, admitting, "Oh, nothing quite so— dramatic. I've just been hearing about your Society quite a bit lately, and while you said that you were going to be the ones to make contact, you know me. I've always been proactive."

Stepping in to the elevator, Niklaus offers a hesitant look to Alice as she follows the pair inside, then presses the button for the second floor. Cold, blue eyes alight to Cardinal as the doors begin to slide shut, and Alice's thin lips cut upwards into a smile on one side. "We were waiting to see how you handled yourself in the months since the riots happened, before making contact, yes. But since you've gone and brought yourself here proactively, then I see no harm in expediting matters."

As the elevator ascends, Alice takes a step back from the doors and folds her hands in front of herself. "I know surprisingly little about you, mister Cardinal, despite everything I've been told. Admittedly, I was… out of touch with the world, and I guess out of touch with reality you could say, for some time. Fortunately for you they've taken the wildcat out of me over the last year and change."

That admission has Niklaus raising one brow slowly, looking to Cardinal with a helpless I have no idea what she's talking about expression. The elevator slows, and the doors open to reveal another lavishly appointed hallway with a chessboard black and white tiled floor and floral print wallpaper in cream and gold up the walls. "So why don't you tell me a little about yourself. Not what you've done, not a resume… tell me who you are." The question comes as Alice steps out of the elevator, hands sweeping around to fold behind her back.

A white tile is stepped upon, and Cardinal proceeds in a straight line down the hallway along with them. Kings don't move diagonally, after all. "You'll return the favor, I presume?" A sidelong look to Alice, one brow raising slightly, "I know as little about you." Outside of certain suspicions, that is.

"Who am I," he murmurs under his breath, "Not tall enough, apparently, amongst everything else. I'm an ex-convict who grew up in a Catholic orphanage and stumbled by accident into things far larger than I. I'm just someone who does what needs to be done. And I hear a lot of things. Sometimes, people listen to me."

"Humility isn't really necessary here, Mister Cardinal." Alices shoes click against the tiled floor as she walks, keeping slow pace ahead of Cardinal and Niklaus. "You're more than a person who hears things, you're a person who's traveled time, who's stopped an atomic blast, who mitigated some sixty-seven percent of the damage that would have been caused by the riots on November 8th…" Blue eyes sweep to the side, and Alice looks over her shoulder to Cardinal, continuing down the hall. "You're more than just an ex-convict. Charles Deveaux spoke highly of you in his journals…"

Coming to stop at an unmarked door, Alice produces a red and white keycard from her jacket that resembles the Deveaux Society business cards, swiping it through a card reader beside the door. There's a satisfying click as the door unlocks, and Alice pushes it open into the sitting room of a well-appointed suite. "But that's all resume material," she points out, motioning for Cardinal and Niklaus to go on in ahead.

"I want to know your intentions, your motivations. I want to know where you're going with all this power you've amassed over the last two years." Niklaus pauses in the hallway, offering a silent look to Alice, then in an undertone he elbows Richard in the side with a smirk and quips;

"Oh, is that all?"

As they step along within, Cardinal's already shaking his head. A sidelong smirk to Niklaus at the elbow and undertone, and then he approaches the seats, easing himself down into it and leaning back, elbows resting on the arms of the chair and fingers steepling over his chest.

"You're wrong, Miss Shaw," he says plainly, watching her, "Humility is necessary. I've seen what happens if I abandon humility entirely, and trust me, it isn't a pretty picture. If you're afraid that I'm going to try and take over the world or something…" A faint smile, a shake of his head, "No."

"I'm not suited for the job. Consider me Diogenes, searching for one honest man in the city of New York."

Closing the door behind Richard and Niklaus, Alice offers a slow nod and steps away, towards the high backed chairs and chaise lounge that flanks the claw-foot coffee table at the center of the sitting room. "Diogenes," she parrots back, "that's an interesting analogy. I've read the dossier on an actual man with that name, but he's hardly like his namesake from what I'm aware of. You two would probably get along, were he slightly less paranoid and more… stable."

Easing herself down to sit on the chaise lounge, hunched forward with her hands folded between her knees, Alice watches Niklaus move to the other chair. "Unfortunately, that man is more a namesake to Diogenes than you are, it seems. You're hardly a proponent of poverty, and I've yet to make the judgment on whether or not you feel virtue is better acted upon than theorized about."

Sliding his tongue across the inside of his cheek, Niklaus clears his throat and makes an apologetic expression for the third degree. "Alice— Miss Shaw, you already know enough about Richard from what I've told you. Is this… is it all really necessary? Both Charles and I have vouched for him, surely that is— "

"Charles Deveaux saw Richard a decade before he wrote that journal, Niklaus." Blue eyes square ont he magnetokinetic. "Memories are imperfect things." Turning her attention back to Cardinal, Alice has a different angle to take what him in line with her original question.

"Tell me what you know about Coyote Sands," she asks pointedly, from one visitor to another.

"It's all right, Niklaus," Cardinal says, lifting one hand to stave the other man's defense off without taking his eyes away from Alice, "I can handle myself in an interview."

He leans forward slightly, hands resting on his knees and the ghost of a smile curving to his lips, "Ignoring the ad hominem insults for the moment, Miss Shaw? I've been to Coyote Sands myself. I've dug up the bones with my own hands, I've several reels of film left behind by the late Doctor Suresh. Angela and Bob told me quite a bit. Why do you ask?"

"What do you think about what happened there?" Leaning forward, Alice rests her elbows on her knees, folds her hands together and perches her chin on her knuckles. Blue eyes assess Cardinal intently, brows furrowed together and lips pursed in anticipation. "It's a situation with obvious paralells to today, to situations cropping up all around the world. America isn't unique, but it is leading the trend in most ways. I want to know what you feel, what your heart says about Coyote Sands, about how you felt when you dug up those bodies…"

This topic has Niklaus looking somewhat lost, leaning back into his seat and exchanging furtive glances between Alice and Cardinal, trying to keep up with their conversation when it seems like they're speaking in a foreign language at times. Alice seems engrossed in the conversation, more so than Niklaus. "Pretend I know nothing about you, Richard, introduce me to your opinions, to your emotions… as if I were just hearing about it myself."

One thin brow arches inquisitively. "Make me feel what you felt."

Cardinal's elbows rest on his knees, hands folding and resting against his lower face and mouth as he considers the woman's words in silence for long moments. He speaks, finally, quietly. "I've seen a lot, in my time, Miss Shaw. I've seen children with their faces branded to mark them as Evolved - as less than human - sitting in the dust of Argentina. I've heard first-hand descriptions of the horrors of Madagascar. Comatose women turned into baby farms, where SLC-positive infants were hurled into furnaces screaming. I've seen the worst that humanity has to offer."

"But that was Madagascar. Argentina. Antarctica. Those were… other places." He closes his eyes, his head shaking a little. "That wasn't the United States of America."

"I knew that… the government was working with the Company," he admits quietly, "I knew that, somewhere, they were continuing Project Icarus. They aren't stupid, after all, and they knew the day would eventually come. But digging up the bones of unarmed men, women - children - buried in shallow graves, with no markers, knowing that they were killed by our own government? Watching Doctor Suresh lie to them that everything was fine, everything would be fine… that's something else, Miss Shaw."

He reaches a hand up, pulling off his shades and considering them a moment before lifting serious eyes to hers, "But worse yet is seeing what they've done to Summer Meadows, and to all those other sites across the country, and knowing Coyote Sands was just a beginning."

"Does that satisfy your curiousity, Miss Shaw?" A flicker of anger, there, at being challenged so. Or the topic. Or both.

Niklaus has never seen this side of Cardinal, never seen the passion behind the facade, never experienced the motivation. He leans back, much as intent as Alice is now. One hand rests near his mouth, eyes wide and brows raised in observation of how this personal drama will play out. Alice's admission that follows Cardinal's, however, comes as more of a surprise to Niklaus than anything else tonight.

"I watched my parents die there," Alice's voice is level and cold, carrying with it the same whip-crack tension that Angela had the last time they spoke. "I watched from beneath one of the dormatories as my father and mother were gunned down by soldiers, I watched as a storm raged out of control over the camp…" Both of Alice's brows slowly rise. "I watched children gunned down in front of their parents, I waited in vain for my sister to come and rescue me. For anyone to rescue me. All along I was telling myself, help iss on the way." Blue eyes divert down to the floor, and Alice's brows crease with deep wrinkles. "But it never came…"

When those pale eyes alight back to Richard, Alice exhales a shuddering breath through her nose. "And then you showed up."

"Me?" Cardinal draws back slightly, his brow furrowing, "…when? And… which me?"

It's a question that has more validity than many might think. It wouldn't be the first time that his other self had done things before he was even born.

"At the height of all the chaos," Alice explains in a hushed tone of voice, "the sky lit up like it was on fire, lightning was striking the ground, and I heard a… a noise, like a thousand windows breaking. I thought it was the end of the world. For so many people there, it was…" A brief, untamed look flashes in Alice's eyes at that sentiment, her brows twitching in restraint. "Then I saw you, almost as you are now, stumbling through the middle of the camp. You were bleeding, holding your stomach, confused. Your clothes were burned, you were covered in sweat and dirt…" Alice's chin lifts slowly. "When the soldiers saw you and opened fire, you turned into something that looked like shadow."

Blue eyes narrow, her nostrils flare, and Alice is slow to explain what has her hesitating. "You devoured them, like some sort of black tide. Turned them into so much inky blackness, wispy like smoke that just blew away in the wind. Then you were gone…"

Alice leans forward, settling her chin on her hands again. "You looked older. Grayer. Tired." One brow quirks slowly. "When I first read Charles' journal, saw pictures of you, I knew what I saw. I just don't know when that happens, and I don't know why. But I remembered your face…" Alice's blue eyes angle down to the ground.

"Even if I never knew your name." Alice breathes in deeply, lifting a hand to thread one lock of blonde hair behind one ear. "I've never told anyone else about that. I wanted to confirm the possibility myself with you first. Now, having met you… I can tell you're the same man I saw that day. He had that fire in his eyes."

"No." Cardinal's lips draw into a tight grimace, leaning back in his chair, "It wasn't me. It was him… of course, he's also me…"

He closes his eyes. "Richard Ezekiel Cardinal. From the year… fuck. I don't know. Twenty-thirty or so? There was something, some— disaster. He was sent back. I guess to right there— to right then. He died in ninety-seventy-seven, killed by Samson Grey. He was recently brought back to life, his memories transferred into the body of Tyler Case."

A bitter smile, no warmth or humor in it. "He founded the Commonwealth Institute, you see."

Niklaus stands up out of his chair, eyes wide. "What," has no inflection of question, but more accusation. This revelation comes as a shock to Alice as well, her blue eyes wide and confusion painted across her face. Confusion at the ties between Richard and the Institute, that the face of the enemy is presented right here in front of Alice. A wary look is leveled on Niklaus, but before Alice can talk, there's an explosion of anger from the German.

"You did this to me!?" A metal ashtray rattles noisily, lights flicker and the the metal frame of Cardinal's sunglasses vibrate softly. "You knew! You put me— you— " there's a sudden hitch of Niklaus' breath in the back of his throat, trying to parse all of this. "Why shouldn't I just— just kill you right now? If you're going to become that— if— " Time travel is hard.

During Niklaus' outburst, Alice is completely at a loss, though she watches the interaction between Niklaus and Cardinal with wary curiosity and interest, the way someone might watch two unfamiliar animals bristle and snarl and one another, for science or perhaps something less scholarly.

That was about the response that Cardinal expected to get.

As the magnetic flux rattles the room, he grimaces, turning his head to regard the German in silence for a moment as he stammers out his anger. A sigh of breath spills past his lips, and he raises a hand to rub against the bridge of his nose. "I didn't know," he says quietly, "Not until long after I rescued you from that hole, Niklaus… and by the time we had enough information to give to everyone, you were gone." A pointed observation. If he was still a part of Endgame, after all, he would've known.

"As for why…" He meets the other man's eyes steadily, "…because I've seen what I can become, Niklaus. And I won't. Not now. Like I said earlier… I've seen what happens if I abandon humility. I'm your friend. I always have been. I knew what you were capable of when I found you— I gave you the benefit of the doubt, didn't I?"

He's pretty sure that Ezekiel killed Niklaus, but that probably wouldn't be the best thing to admit.

Covering his mouth with one hand, Niklaus backs up and paces away from the chair, trying to get control of himself while at the same time putting what he's been told into some semblance of order inside of his head. Alice hasn't moved, not an inch, since Cardinal's revelation and shows no signs of doing so any time soon. Only her eyes have shifted position, following Cardinal's movements with an animal's scrutiny. "The jury is still out," Alice opines, "on whether or not you can still become the man I saw in nineteen sixty-one. But what I do know," one of her dark brows lifts higher than the other, "is that you're not him yet."

Letting her chin tip up ever so subtly, Alice regards Cardinal down the bridge of her nose, thorugh a ragged fringe of dark lashes. "That's good enough for me, and I imagine that will be good enough for Sabra and Claudia as well." Shifting her attention to Niklaus, Alice watches the younger man with a thoughtful attention, and when he finally paces back, nostrils flaring and jaw set, his anger has been brought to a simmering boil.

"If— If I so much a think… that you're becoming— that you're— " Niklaus clenches his hands shut, works his mouth into a frown with difficulty from wanting to bare his teeth. "I'll kill you."

"You'll have to get in line," Cardinal says simply to Niklaus, "I've already got plenty've people who've promised to stop me before I get that far. For what it's worth?" A wry, humorless smile, "I welcome that. If you really think that I could turn into him though, Niklaus…" He leans forward slightly, his tone flat, eyes darkening for a moment, "On his eighth, he killed Elisabeth."

Leaning back, he turns his gaze to Alice, regarding her in silence for a few moments before saying bluntly, "I gave you what you wanted. Your turn. What is it you're all doing here, Miss Shaw?"

Blue eyes square on Cardinal from Alice, and in that the blonde woman slowly rises to her feet, smoothing out creases in her gray slacks. She looks to Niklaus, watching his simmering anger, before eventually leveling a look back on Cardinal. One brow lifts, and Alice offers the shadowmorph a thoughtful smile. "We're doing what you're doing, it seems." There's some smug satisfaction in Alice's expression, though it's masked behind something more untamed, wild.

"Claudia will explain more when she gets back from Virginia," is Alice's excuse for not revealing any more, her hands coming to fold behind her back. "But I will say this, your interview went better than I had given you credit for." Crow's feet crease at the corners of Alice's eyes as her smile grows some.


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