The Rules of the Game


ash_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif jet_icon.gif

Scene Title The Rules of the Game
Synopsis A bodiless woman asks Cardinal a bit about how things lie in the city, after an attempt to offer aid to another formative group falls flat.
Date Oct 14, 2009

Old Lucy's

Old Lucy's has a vibrant and lively feel to it, from the dark wooden floors to the shady crimson walls lit up by neon lights and many times, the flashing of cameras from the oft-crowded floor. The mirror behind the bar reflects prices of various drinks, bottles lined up, as well as the entire saloon as seen from the bartenders; bolted-down stools line the other side, and there are loose tables and chairs placed all around, though many times they find themselves pushed back for more space within the center of the saloon. A few speakers are placed at strategic places and around a raised stage to the far corner from the bar. Above the counter, an obviously well-used bar is hung; it is this that the girls working will use should there be dancing, which is one reason many patrons choose to come aside from the drinks. Across the bar and near the back, there is a door that leads to the owner's office and just inside a stairwell that leads a apartment on the floor above the bar.

A phone call was made by one Richard Cardinal to arrange a meeting at Old Lucy's, in anticipation of arranging another; it's public enough that violence isn't likely, loud enough that eavesdropping won't be a problem, and familiar territory if he should need to dive behind a bar and grab one of the shotguns in case point A doesn't work out the way he was hoping.

As the sun's set an hour or so ago, the club's just getting jumping. The sound of music pounds through the air, the bar's crowded with men getting drinks and watching the ladies of the bar make drinks with impressive flourishes and much flirtation, and all is well with the world. Assuming one likes that sort of thing.

Cardinal's kicked back in a corner of the bar at a table, a bottle of bourbon on its flat and a couple of glasses set out - one in his hand, that he's casually sipping from, watching the room from behind a pair of dark shades.

Flirtation indeed. And there is Jet, or is it Jet? Cardinal can never get the right answer. Either or the red head simply enters the place, and after walking into the depths she finally spots Cardinal. Tonight she is anything but smiles, sad almost as she begins to walk over towards the table, offering Cardinal a faint smile before gathering up her red curls and putting them into a high ponytail. "Hey baby," come her murmured words before making to slide down into the seat next to him. "I heard you called Jet." No other words than that, the young woman looking to him for a moment, then away. Yes, she's in a different mood tonight, sullen almost. But we'll just keep it summed up with sad.

"You know," Cardinal points out, both brows lifting a little over his shades, "Every time I try to get in contact with Jet, or she gets in contact with me, someone completely different shows up… it's enough to make a man wonder." Or more than wonder, as the case may be, the woman regarded for a few moments before he sets his glass down and reaches into his jacket, "Help yourself to a drink."

Scroll, scroll, scroll down through the contact list on the phone that emerges, and he clicks on the one with 'Ash' listed. Send. He holds it up to his ear, and leans back in his chair again.

"What can I say," come her murmured words, "The goth did not like you." A faint smile to Cardinal at this before she pours herself a glass of liquor of his own, lifting it to her lips where it's held for a moment before she knocks it back. A swallow. Another poured. Another knocked back. Another poured. Jet is going to help herself to several drinks.

Ash picks up his phone, a bit of annoyance in his voice when he does so. "Hello?" He doesn't recognize the number, which might explain the annoyance, or it might not, who knows. Either way his voice is gruff and irritated.

"Mnm." Cardinal's only response to Jet, before the phone's picked up. "Ah, Ashley," he greets in casual tones, as if phoning up an old friend, "I presume, anyhow? Sorry for bothering, I was hoping I could have a few moments of your time…"

Ash goes very quiet as his full name is used. How someone knows his full name is a mystery to him, but he doesn't seem to happy about it. "Who is this?" HIs voice quiet, cold and holding no emotion at all. "And how the fuck do you know my name?"

Jet gives something akin to a tortured dry sob choking sound which may or may not have been from the alcohol she's taking down, and fast. Forgoing the glass now she simply takes the bottle to herself, wrapping her arms around it, "Dude," she speaks softly, "You called him Ashley." A giggle from Jet, apparently finding this very, very funny.

"Lamont Cranston." It's an obvious alias, but only to those well-familiar with old pulps. "You were mentioned by several of your… former associates," Cardinal replies, reaching out to pick up his drink again with a faint smile in the direction of Jet, "I understand that you're starting up a project of your own, and I was hoping to discuss it with you."
Ash sighs heavily, lifting his hand up to rub at the bridge of his nose as he listend to the man ont he other line. He blinks a few times as he hears a bit of noise on the other end, but pays it no mind. "How about you tell me who you are really, and tell me how you heard about me before I hang up on you and forget you called."

"Ashley…" comes Jet's slightly slurred words, "Come out and play baby. I miss youuu…" Another giggle from Jet though she seems on the verge of tears. Tears of happiness right? One of her arms slips through Cardinal's own, temple to bicep as the teenager just rests up against her elder as her own cellphone is pulled from her pocket as she begins to scroll through her numbers.

"You could do that," Cardinal admits, "Of course, since jack shit happens in New York without me knowing about it, it'd be pretty fucking stupid of you to throw away a possible resource. I already told you how I found you, though— Jet, Kaylee, Lola, familiar names?" The slurred voice of the teenager probably reaches over the phone, the girl offered a rather wry look.

Ash listens to the man on the other end, and he laughs a little bit at his statement. "Oh, I'm sure there's plenty that goes on that you don't know about. Awfully arrogant to assume you know everything. And no, you didn't answer my question before now. You said you heard of me from former associates, which tells me nothing at all. The names you just gave me tell me alot. How… How is Kaylee?" And now there's a bit of concern in his voice, like a fatherly, or brotherly kind of concern. "And who the fuck is that babbling in the back ground?"

Jet returns Cardinal's wry look with one of her own, eyes more clear then she lets on to be, a faint smile from her to Cardinal before she sits up in the booth fully as she turns her attention to her cellphone, a message starts to be typed out… and then she slowly deletes it. "He may not go for it," come her murmured words as she seems focused on the cellphone, starring at it for a moment before she begins to tap out letters which she once more deletes. "I hate men," she offhandedly say. "Specially Company men."

"I think it's Jet, although I can't actually be sure." A ruffling of the teenager's hair, lightly, where she leans in against him and erases the cell phone message, Cardinal's breath a faint chuckle, "She's well. I'm not going to tell you anything more than that, given that last I heard, you were still loyal to Monroe… but she's well, last I saw her. Starting to recover from whatever's wrong with her."

Ash snorts at the man on the other end of the phone call. "Well, you obviously don't know everything that happens in New York then huh buddy? And unless you're going to give me more information I'm not walking into a fucking trap. Call me back when your'e serious about talking and ready to meet in the middle." And with that there's a click as the phone is hung up.

Flipping her cellphone shut, Jet looks up at Cardinal as if sensing that Ash is no longer on the phone. No words from the female, as she just watches her partner in the booth, before pouring him another drink.

Click. Cardinal regards the phone, then shrugs one shoulder and slides it into his jacket. "I guess I have something for Diogenes to do after all," he mutters, reaching over for his drink with a shake of his head, "I miss dealing with professionals, I really do. Anyway, what were we talking about last time?"

Jet gives a shrug of her shoulders to Cardinal's words as she holds up her own full glass, regarding it for a moment before taking a drink. "I do not recall. Humanis First?" A flash of a grin to Cardinal at this, "I have heard that they do have supressant drugs and ways to… ahh… we weren't talking about Humanis First I don't think. So what was it then? Oh yes, me helping you."

"I thought we were talking about Company men," Cardinal replies, his head tilting slightly as he considers her for a moment— and asks, making a wild guess, "Juliet?" Hey, different faces, Company men, Len's recent… troubles. Of course, she could always tell him that he's wrong.

"Yes, Cardinal?" Soft words from her at this as she meets her eyes with his own, one of her hands moving to rest upon his own in an almost motherly/sisterly gesture as she locks her eyes with his own. A beat, "I'm sorry about Ashley. He really is an asshole. Do you want me to call him for you?"

"No, it's alright," Cardinal gives his head a slight shake, his hand remaining under hers as he meets her eyes over the edge of his shades, lips curving in a faint smile, "If he doesn't want allies, then he doesn't want allies… I don't think he understands the rules of the game he's stepping into, though." A tip of his chin, "What's your beef with the cowboy? He's always seemed like a pretty stand-up guy for a fascist."

"Len?" An unmistakable tearing of her eyes before she laughs it off. "I dont' have beef with Len, he's a good guy. It was just a job Cardinal. Just a job." Her temple to his shoulder as she once more rests against him. A beat then the conversation is moved once more, "Ashley is a complicated man. I should have called him myself. But if you want to talk to him again, you have his number now."

"That doesn't mean he knows the rules of the game," Cardinal replies, his head shaking ever so slightly, shifting to loosely drape an arm over her shoulders; more of a brotherly or paternal way than a come-on. He always did have a weakness for kids, and she at least looks teenaged right now. He pats against her shoulder, "He's trying to play from a position of power that he doesn't have. That's his choice, though." A faint snort, "A job. Let me guess— Monroe?"

Jet nestles against his side in a welcoming gesture, almost curling up against Cardinal as she just sits there in the booth with him, "Who?" A tilt of her head upwards as she looks briefly at Cardinal then away once more. "Some of my employers do not have names Cardinal. Who is Monroe?"

"Adam Monroe," replies Cardinal, gesturing vaguely with the glass in his hand as if the refraction of light through bourbon could show his image, "Tall, blonde, clean-shaven, kind of a douchebag, would give off a gay vibe if he didn't have so many chicks hanging around him?"

Fingers lift to her neck as she gives a scratching of the flesh on her neck. "Oh. Adam. I met him once through Ashley. He was cute. A lil' skinny for me. I keep hearing he's a 'bad guy', 'specially from Len. Is that true 'Nale? Or is it just an image?" His bottle picked up as her drink is repoured.

"Well," he replies dryly, drawing the glass to his lips and taking a sip of it, pausing beforehand to finish, "He did once try and release a bioweapon that would kill ninety-five percent of the world, so he could rule it with an iron fist, if that counts. Also he generally runs around killing people because they stopped him."

"So he has killed people before." A frown from Jet at this as her arms wrap around Cardinal's middle, "Baby, tell me about the Company, and tell me about what you want to do in this world. Why you're taking recruits in a way."

"The Company…" Cardinal's gaze drifts across the room, his lips pursing thoughtfully, "…it's nothing like the original plan. Originally, from what I'm told, it was supposed to— sort of— protect us, by keeping the secret that we existed. They started tracking us, eventually started imprisoning those that were being too 'obvious' or they felt were dangerous. Basically turned into the Men in Black."

Jet lifts her fingers to her temples briefly before they lower as she gives a deep sigh, "I'm tired," she suddenly speaks now, "Of it all. Elaborate on your purpose in this world then I'm going to go to bed. I think." Another drink, another swallowing of the liquid.

"Yeah, I know, it's like a fuckin' history lesson," Cardinal snorts faintly, drawing his arm away as he leans back, "Think of how I feel, I've got to keep all this shit in line. Alright. Me?" He shrugs one shoulder, "The world's going straight to hell in a handbasket. I've got precogs, prophecies, the whole damn bunch piled up on my desk, and they all say that shit's going to turn out horribly. I'm trying to change all that."

A pause from Jet to his words as she soaks it all in, then, "Cardinal, I don't want to hurt people. Maybe Humanis First, but that's it. If you're gonna ask me to hurt people, I won't even consider joining your purpose. As it is, I may have to work off the books. On the side." Pulling back she flashes him a grin now as those arms around him gives a squeeze.

"It's not something I can do without hurting people, but I'm trying my damndest to make sure they're the right people," Cardinal admits, sounding— regretful, there, gaze dropping to the glass in his hand, thumb brushing over the edge before he looks back up with a wry smile, "I wouldn't ask someone to do something like that if they're opposed to it. I might occasionally have something for you to do that isn't about hurting people, though, if you'd do side work like that."

A nodding of her head to Cardinal at this before she offers him her hand. "I will do side jobs for you Cardinal," come her soft words, "As long as they do not conflict with my inner workings. I'll support you in your efforts, as long as I deem fit." A flash of a grin to him now before it slips down into a soft smile. "I have other bosses."

"You might want to think again about Monroe, though," Cardinal reaches out to ruffle her hair again, smirking a little, "His retirement policy's already put a few of his people into hiding."

"What do you mean?" When he attempts to ruffle her hair, she lifts a hand to smack at his own, the fiftyish year old can only take so much hair ruffling. "Tell me more about Adam. I hardly know him." Another drinking, a brighter flush of her skin.

"I mean that they're convinced he's going to kill them," Cardinal says, bluntly, "This whole… business of his is half revenge against people, half fuckin'— power fantasy or something. He's a few hundred years old, manipulative as hell and convinced he should rule the world."

Jet moves her fingers to the side of her nose as she rubs gently at it, a gesture of thought before she refocuses on Cardinal. "Interesting," is all she speaks. "And you don't like him, I take it?" Her conversation seems to be winding down, the teenager folding her arms upon the table as she assumes a position of comfort, abandoning her hold on his form to cross her arms and face burry.

Cardinal swirls the ice in his glass around, then takes a sip of it, murmuring, "Monroe has his uses. I sell him information from time to time. I don't approve of his methods or motives, though, and I think he's generally a bad person through and through. And this is coming from me." Dry, the last, before he downs the rest of his drink.

"You seem like a good man Cardinal. Were I still in my own body, I would date you, and feel your flesh… but I'm not." A faint smile from her at this and then a flash of a grin, "I don't know Monroe well enough to know what you say is or is not true. Manipulative, perhaps. But aren't we all?"

"Are you missing yours…?" Cardinal tilts his head, a brow lifting before he snorts a bit, "Perhaps. Why don't you ask the cowboy about Adam? If he'll talk to you."

"His name… is Len," Jet replies a bit huffily. "And I have. And yes, I died when I was seventeen. I would rather not go into that right now." At least when she's drunk. "So come one, take me home big boy. You have three options. My place, Len's stage home, or my new roommates place."

"I try not to use too many names," notes Cardinal with a slight shake of his head, "You never know who's listening." A push up to his feet, and he allows, "If I'm driving, you pick."

"I don't drive," come her words, perhaps with the slightest slur. "Take me to Len's then, but it's my home now, he doesn't live there. It… was… a safe house. So don't blow it up, hmm? Cause I'll be in it." A flash of a grin to Cardinal at this before she slides out of the booth, hands being placed upon the table as she begins to push herself up, wobbling just a little. "If you're hungry I made broiled steak earlier, you can take it with you."

"I try not to blow things up," Cardinal replies blithely, pushing himself up to his feet and reaching over to offer her an arm for support, "C'mon, let's get you home, then. You tell 'im the Shadow says hello."

Lacing her arm through his own, Jet rests her temple against his bicep as they walk along. "Shadow… why do you call yourself the Shadow?" A lifting of her face to look up at him before she continues to walk with Cardinal, a little tipsy, but not drama-llama drunk. "I will. I'm playing a game with him… but I think I hurt him. I just wanted to see how far he would go."

As she leans in against him, Cardinal leads her to the door; the bouncer gives a knowing grin, but he just rolls his eyes at her before they head out into the night, "…Lamont Cranston? Pft, nobody appreciates the classics these days…"

Jet gives a snapping of her teeth at the bouncer before continuing along with Cardinal. "So…" A beat, "So I'm Juliet. It's a pleasure to meet you, Cardinal." A beat, "I haven't really been going by Jet lately, that was mainly my name in the Monsters of all Boys." A snicker at herself as her arms wrap around his own once more. "Is that a movie? Like the one with Alec Baldwin?"

"Nah," Cardinal shakes his head, "Well, it was, but there was a lot older version… old radio plays, and shit. Anyway. Richard, Richard Cardinal, use whichever you like…" A faint chuckle, "The Monsters of All Boys?"

"M.. o…a.. b, baby." A glance up to him at this before Jet stands up straight now, the female seeming fine as if leaving the bar tipsy was an act. But who really knows with her, she probably doesn't even know. "I think I like Cardinal better than Richard. But shadow… got it. I'll tell Len next time I speak to him. He hung up on me."

"Ah. That hellhole…" A faint chuckle, as Cardinal admits, "What a shitstorm that's turned out to be… fuckin' Norman." A withering glance off towards the distance, "I need to figure out how to deal with that asshole."

"Who is this Norman White," comes her soft voice. "It's supposed to be this sort of super criminal villian, right? Who is it Richard?" She follows his glance off into the distance, before stopping in their walk to lean up against the side of a random car.

"A former guest of that hellhole," Cardinal says with a shake of his head, looking over with a rueful expression, "A paranoid schitzophrenic that spent most of his life in an asylum, and unfortunately has enough power to destroy an entire fucking city. He can make earthquakes. He's already destroyed one god-damn major building in the city…"

Jet works her jaw at this as she considers this, leaning back on the car as her hands are placed behind her as if she's suning herself. Silence as she gazes up into the sky then, "He has ties with Monroe then. They could be working together. Do you feel that Norman would take down a whole city? What would be his purpose in doing so?"

Cardinal looks over with a slight frown, "It's.. possible. I haven't heard that they do, but maybe you'd know better." A shake of his head, "He could, and would. He's crazy. He thinks the Evolved need to rise up and violently overthrow the government. He doesn't realize— or just doesn't care— what'll happen if he tries…"

A lifting of her hands to her face as she lays backwards upon the roof of the car, rubbing at her face briskly for a few moments. "Cardinal, if I tell you something. If I seek your counsel I need to know you won't say anything to anyone. I just want it kept between you and me. I need someone I can trust, and I'm looking to you for that friend."

At that question, Cardinal pauses, his head tilting in her direction. "I can keep a secret," he replies mildly, "I pretty much make a business of it, honestly… what's up?"

The female gazes at him for a long time, but if she feels she can't trust him, she just goes on with it anyway. "I've been asked to join the Company. To help the white hats. To make a difference. What do you think?"

That brings a pause, and Cardinal lifts one hand to scratch at his cheek lightly. "I don't know," he admits, "I've… worked with them from time to time, but given their past, I don't completely trust them. They made a lot of evils and let them off into the world." He shrugs one shoulder, "But then again, I imagine a lot of the rank and file actually do want what's good for the world. It's their leadership that're corrupt. It's your decision."

A long gaze at Cardinal to his words before she nods her head a little before sitting up. "Would we still be friends? If I joined the Company that is." Arms above her head as she stretches out her limbs, "I'm ready to go home now."

"So long as you don't come after me and mine, or fuck with my plans…" Cardinal shrugs one shoulder, turning to lead the way over to a car parked in the back of the lot, "…don't see why not. I get along with the cowboy, and I liked Minea."

"Minea… that girl was supposed to be gathering information for me.. err. Len." A flash of a grin to Cardinal at this, "I was playing games with them. Had she done what I asked her too, they would know who I am. Kinda. A little." A small stumbling skip from her now, much like the goth girl did. "Len is a good man."

"He seems it," Cardinal admits, opening up the passenger door with a grin, "Just watch who you play games with, babe. You're not as immortal as you might think."

Jet slides into his car seat, letting the door close as she moves to rest her head up against the side of it as she fumbles briefly with the buckle before it clicks in. "I'm not really playing games," comes her simple words, "And nah, I know. No one lives forever. Even Adam who is hundreds of years old will die eventually. Its just… the way of life. Many times I wish I died in the carwreck. Ain't no way to live life, a body stealer."

Once Cardinal's settled into the driver's seat, he notes, "You could always pick up a brain-dead body; someone who's not there anymore, that doesn't have any use for it. There's some out there. You could make it your own."

Jet chuckles at this, "Len said the same thing, kinda. I probably told him a little too much. I do not think I connected with him as well as I wanted to. I never talk about myself much, so when I do it can be…" a beat, "Anyway…" insert directions to Len's safe house, "I don't think brain dead would work. I use the whole body. My essence is just in them."

"There's cases where there's no physical damage," Cardinal observes, pulling out of the parking lot, "Victims of psychic attacks, too.. I'm just saying, it's, you know. Possible."

"How do you know it's possible?" A turning of her head on the head rest to regard Cardinal. "Did someone like me, tell you, first hand Cardinal?" Soft words from her at this as her legs stretch out the most they can in the car. "Tell me about your parents. Did they love you? Did you love them? Are they still alive?"

"No. But I don't believe in impossibilities… there's always a way out." A faint smile, one that fades at the question, Cardinal's head shaking as he answers curtly, "…never knew them. Died the day I was born."

A nodding of her head to Cardinal's own about his parents before her eyes slip shut as she seems to just be drifting off. There is no verbal comment on his parents, or the possibility of her taking over someone new, Jet just remaining quiet now… but no! Psych. She does comment, "You're a good man Richard."

"You know, people keep telling me that," Cardinal murmurs, gaze on the road, "We'll see if they're right, or I am, in the end."

Jet cracks an eye open to his words as she watches the man drive, just silently watching him. Then she's unbuckling and slidding over towards him and like in the bar, she wraps her arms around his middle and just holds him as her eyes slip shut once more. Apparently she thought Richard needed a hug. And maybe he does. A deep inhale, then a deep exhale.

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