The Message



Scene Title The Message
Synopsis “The message — wasn't going to work. My road always ends here. Walter Trafford stood right where you are in our future. My failures are circles. I’ll get it right next time.” — Ezekiel, Ouroboros, Part V
Date March 6th, 2012

From where he stands, under a spiral of green and blue light casting radiance down on the Alaskan snow, it feels like the impossible.

Change my attempt good intentions

The entire facility is destroyed, broken pieces of concrete jutting up at odd angles, metal scaffolding twisted and broken, some of it is on fire. But the problem is that the facility shouldn't even be here. Behind the approaching security forces, a helicopter is parked on a flat area of snow that one day would have been a helipad, but plans for the Mount Natazhat complex had only just been drafted. And yet…

Crouched over

You were not there

Living in fear

Bundled in a heavy, black cold-weather suit, Director Richard Cardinal is flanked by a pair of security operatives in matching uniforms. The fur at his collar tickles his cheeks where the blistering cold hasn't taken away all feeling. As he steps between the twisted and mangled collection of frozen corpses, more security teams wait for him in the partially intact remnants of a hangar. "Sir," one of them calls out, striding ahead with snow goggles covering his eyes. "We've combed through the wreckage, everything here… it's ours. There's Institute branding everywhere, but the technology it's… decades out of our grasp. There's pieces of machines in here that I can't even begin to understand."

But signs were not really that scarce

Obvious tears

But I will not

Hide you through this I want you to help

Richard levels a haunted look at the security officer, nodding once. "Who are these corpses?" He asks, stepping over one. The soldier checks a flickering tablet, scrolling through an emailed report from an Institute lab in California.

"DNA tests are all over the place. That body there," he motions to a charred husk they hauled out of the snow, "is — was — Lieutenant Olivia Roland. She's currently dispatched with the United States Military on the USS George Washington in the Persian Gulf." Cardinal pauses to look down at the body, barely recognizable as human where it's twisted in the blackened remnants of strange powered armor. Tired eyes level on the soldier again, who continues moving through the facility. "We spoke with Tactical, and our first estimate was a temporal incursion. A Moab-level incident from our future. But then we found the computer hardware…"

And please see

The bleeding heart perched on my shirt

They step through a broken doorway, ducking under a tangled frame of twisted aluminum. A bullet-riddled mechanical carcass that resembles a tiger lays on the floor in a frozen pool of hydraulic fluid and oil. Cardinal pauses, just long enough to regard it with unmitigated horror before approaching where an army of technicians stand around a badly damaged computer terminal. They've erected a plastic tent around it, where a generator thrums loudly, pumping heat into the enclosure. The sergeant holds the flap back for Cardinal to step in, then follows behind him. Inside, white-clad Institute scientists work on a collection of partially dismantled computer hardware hooked up to a labyrinth of ribbon cables and spliced power lines.

Die, withdraw

Hide in cold sweat

Quivering lips

"What did you find?" Cardinal anxiously asks, an unsteady stare finding the sergeant. In turn, the soldier motions to one of the technicians who brings over a laptop. He's clicking away on the keys, loading something up as the sergeant crosses his arms and waits. Once the technician has the data queued up, he approaches Cardinal and turns around the laptop, revealing that it was a video he was loading.

Ignore remorse

Naming a kid, living wasteland

"We recovered this from a security camera archive. It's in considerably better condition than we expected. But…" The technician looks at the soldier, who makes a go on face, as though he was going to withhold information from the Director of the Institute. Cardinal sees the look and his paranoia spikes, frantically looking around the rubble. But as the video begins to play, it is all brought into a suddenly horrific and clear focus.

This time you've tried

All that you can turning you red

"What the fuck…" Cardinal exhales breathlessly, "…am I looking at?"

Change my attempt good intentions

«"You almost had me."»

Should I, could I

«There's silence from Richard Cardinal for a long heartbeat, the blue-white arcs of electricity reflecting off the polarized goggles he's wearing along with the crimson lightning that cracks and spits from him. Then his shoulders sink, a sigh breathed out against his scarf.»

Here we are with your obsession

«"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, Richard," he says, shaking his head slowly as he walks closer, stopping across from his future self and bringing his left hand up to push the goggles up, letting the other man see his face. Some blood crusted at the corner of his lips, chapped and cracking from his exposure to the cold, his eyes squinting a bit against the light. Unused to it, even.»

Should I, could I

«"I asked you a question, up there," he adds, voice lifting so it can be heard over the noise of the machine spinning up in the background, "What did it say? There was a note on Ronald Mallett's door when we showed up there. I don't think it was for me. I think it was for you."»

Crowned hopeless

The article read "living wasteland"

This time you've tried

All that you can turning you red

Cardinal slaps a finger on the keypad, pausing the video. "What was the fucking time stamp on this," he demands of the technician, who looks down at the laptop and then over to the security officer. "I wasn't asking him! I was asking you!" Cardinal reaches out, grabbing the technician by the collar of his clean suit, eyes wild.

But I will not

Hide you through this

I want you to help

"T— " The technician stammers, and the soldier does nothing but watch. "Tw— Two Thousand and Eleven. November Eighth." Cardinal's stomach turns, his word spins, and he looks down to the laptop with wide and horrified eyes. This came from the past. With a trembling hand he releases the technician and presses play again.

Change my attempt good intentions

«"What did it say?"»

Should I, could I

«Face to face with his younger self, Ezekiel is forced to consider an uncomfortable truth. The villain never considers himself as such, he is the hero of his own story. Now, surrounded by water tinged pink with blood, bodies soaking in six inches of ice cold death, he gives that notion due consideration.»

Here we are with your obsession

«“The way back, is closed.” Ezekiel breathes the words out, what the sign said for him. He stares at Cardinal, as if that should hold some meaning to them both. But it only proves something to Cardinal that he had been considering for some time.»

Should I, could I

«“But, you're right,” Ezekiel admits. “The message — wasn't going to work. My road always ends here. Walter Trafford stood right where you are in our future. My failures are circles.” Sliding his tongue over his teeth, Cardinal exhales a ragged breath. “I’ll get it right next time.”»

Heave the silver hollow sliver

«Overhead, the lasers of the Mallet device wobble and grind together as they spin. Bit the lasers are being bent upward, distorted by the insane gravitational force exerted by Magnes’ power gone berserk. “I had to think bigger.” The entire facility begins to rumble, pressurized pipes begin to blow.»

Piercing through another victim

«Ezekiel’s eyes are that of a madman, stolen from Cardinal’s friend. “Welcome to the new beginning, Richard.”»

Turn and tremble be judgmental

«“Joshua sends his love."»

Ignorant to all the symbols

«He brings his other hand up in a sudden, swift motion from his side with those final words, orange plastic beneath gloved fingers as he fires the flare gun dead on at the other man — a sudden blinding phosphorus flare within the chamber as he pulls the trigger, a flare that he knows would be agonizing if he still had his power, and lethal if he melted into the shadows.»

Blind the face with beauty paste

«It is with a smug smile that his entire body discorporates into shadow-stuff, a swirling mass of darkness that is like a second skin to him. But Ezekiel’s greatest weakness is light. Bright, horrifying light.»

Eventually you'll one day know

«There is no muzzle flash, just a kssh-thoop sound as the flare gun is fired point-blank range. It is red light, ultimately, that is Ezekiel’s end. Not the light of Tyler Case’s ability, not the red of blood seeping from his wounds, but the burning red light of a flare. Unable to shift back in time, unable to realize what he has done to himself, Ezekiel is faced with the scathing light of the flare in his darkest of shapes.»

Change my attempt good intentions

Cardinal's eyes widen.

Limbs tied, skin tight

His mouth parts in a wordless exhale of breath that should have been a scream, but he has no breath for it.

Self inflicted his perdition

He looks at the machine in the security footage, the machine he is building.

Should I, could I

The machine he built.

Change my attempt good intentions

«There is a scream, a scream unlike any other that has been heard on this Earth, or ever will be heard again. Not even in Antarctica, when nuclear fission turned to shadow, was this wail so strangled, so mournful, so agonized. Richard Cardinal, spawned from a future darker than any other, does not die painlessly. He screams in wild, unfathomable agony as light burns away his incorporeal form. The ghost-scream will haunt the younger Cardinal until the day he dies; the sound of his own death ringing across history.»

Should I, could I

«Scraps of shadow burn into smoke, clawed hands of darkness try to pull away but are consumed by that red glow. Light burns, boils, tears at the shadow until there is nothing left but flakes of ephemeral ashes guttering in the wind. A sickening sensation churns at the pit of Richard’s stomach, a feeling of finality that has never been so real.»

Should I, could I

When the video finishes playing, Richard's eyes are filled with horror and tears. He backs away from the laptop, one hand over his mouth and eyes wide.

Should I?

"Oh my god."

Could I?

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