Through the Bad to the Good


cardinal_icon.gif sal_icon.gif

Scene Title Through the Bad, to the Good
Synopsis Sal and Cardinal talk Arthur, Teo, Humanis First, time travelers and the fact that neither of them is really sure Edward's dead. Immediately after The Most Damage
Date July 16, 2009

Cardinal's car

The rain's still coming down in a steady pattering, the windshield wipers of the station wagon sweeping the water away by regular intervals. The driver's been silent since pulling away from the docks, the last words of Allen Rickham seeming to've left him in a rather darkly thoughtful state. Richard Cardinal watches the road, keeping to the speed limit.

Given that a curious person looking into the darkened car might witness a shift, Sonny stays Tyler Case for the moment, though he does at least shift out of the scrubs and into the real shirt he was wearing previously. He rubs his face and stares at the city ahead of them. "Well. That was interesting."

"Yeah." A few beats pass, and Cardinal shakes his head a little, "To say the least. I think… I was too late. Guess we'll see." A sidelong glance over, "You all right?"

"I'm fine." Sal shifts and removes the pistol from his waistband and drops it on the seat beside him. He's glad he didn't have to use that. "I won't pretend I know what the fuck went on back there. Care to explain? Who was the metal man?"

As he pulls the shirt over his head, an idea dawns on him. For a moment, he sets the scrub shirt over his face. When he removes it, he's Sal again. He clears his throat and shifts it back to his secondary identity's voice.

"That was Doctor Edward Ray… or, to be more precise," Cardinal admits, "Doctor Ray of the year two thousand nineteen. He traveled back in time with some other people to try and alter the timeline, including the walkin' chunk of molten metal back there, Allen Rickham." Now there's a name that should be familiar!

"Time travelers," Sal mutters. He rolls down the window and lights up another cigarette. And then a beat, "Allen…Rickham? As in…?" He shoots Cardinal a look. "Fucking hell. I campaigned for him." A beat. Oh. Was that…a giveaway? Well, he'll act like it wasn't.

"To be fair," notes Richard, slanting over a look, "All've these crazy bastards were imprisoned in Moab for about ten years for various crimes or problems, and God knows what some of 'em went through. I doubt the present Rickham is quite so fucked up."

As far as Sal is concerned, nothing good has come back from that future. But explaining that would be getting more personal than he cares to. He takes a long drag from the cigarette and exhales just as slowly. "Time travellers shoulda just stayed and fucked up their own lives. Instead of coming back here and ruining things."

"I'm of two minds on that." A quiet moment passes, before Cardinal admits, "They're a bunch've horrible people who all should be put back in the grave— well, maybe not John, but he's more've a patsy than anything, poor bastard— but they did bring back enough warning for us to change things."

"Unless the future is a giant smoking ruin, the I don't really care for their warnings. There's good and bad in everything. I'm sure some people were happy. Who're a handful of criminals to fuck it all up? I mean…" Sal motions towards the direction of the Midtown explosion. "That was horrible. But people have built lives in the wake of it. Things that wouldn't have happened if the explosion didn't. People got together. People reformed. People moved somewhere and other things happened. The only reason to want to go back and change things is for selfish purposes. To make things better for you as an individual. Without giving a fuck what it does to everyone else."

Seems time travelers are a sore subject for the shifter. He lets the ashes drift out the window.

"Oh, it was definitely for selfish purposes. Doesn't mean I won't take what information they've brought an' use it as best I can." There's a few long moments of silence, before Cardinal notes quietly, "You did good. Here, and at the holding facility."

"We're not dead. And things seemed to follow to plan. More or less. I suppose that's a win." Sal's voice doesn't sound very triumphant. There's a dull note to it. "Somehow I think there's more to that man than it seems. If this Ray is the mastermind you made him out to be, somehow I didn't think it would be that easy to kill him."

"I know." Cardinal grunts briefly at the begrudging admission, "I had to try, though. I'm still going to try, but… part of his plan, I've got no choice but to put into action. I don't see any other way to kill Arthur. I just hope I can minimize the damage he's planning on doing."

"What the hell is the deal with this Arthur guy? And why is half the city gunning for him? I mean, I know he can steal powers and he wants the formula. But other than that…I guess I don't understand how he's supposed to bring about the end of life as we know it." Sal fingers back through his hair and exhales with a flare of his nostrils. "This terrorist shit is more confusing than I thought it would be. It's like politics with firearms."

At the description, Cardinal grins briefly. "Yeah, that's a pretty good explanation. I tend to lean towards the firearms side, I leave the public political shit to people like Dean, and you firebirds…" He takes in a breath, then, exhaling it as he observes, "Take a ruthless man. A man who, alone, is incredibly powerful, personally, financially, and politically. Now give him control of the FRONTLINE project, and give him the ability to turn people Evolved who he wants to."

"I'm wondering if me and Phoenix are a good fit. I'm not exactly on board with the way they've been handling things lately." Sal flicks the spent cigarette out the window and leans the seat back. He closes his eyes. He's done a lot of shifting lately and it gives him headaches. He has to be careful that they're not pattern grab headaches, else if he deals with them the wrong way, he'll inadvertantly shift.

"So is the problem with him just that he's too powerful? What exactly are his goals?"

"If he wins," Cardinal shakes his head slowly as he gives the explanation, "He'll basically turn the country into a nice little fascist dictatorship that he manipulates from behind the scenes. Anyone who disagrees with him'll just vanish quietly into the night, and nobody'll even know."

Sal rubs at the side of his nose and inhales slowly. "And who's to say that we're going to make it any better? That sounds shitty, don't get me wrong. But maybe in their future, this man is finally overthrown and there's a utopia. You can only judge the past and the present with selfish eyes. It's not possible to really understand what the changes will mean." Unless you're Edward Ray. And that means trusting that he wants what's good for everyone. "Sometimes you have to go through the bad shit to get to the good shit."

"True." Cardinal shrugs one shoulder, "On the other hand, he cut off my hand and then blew up a fucking orphanage with a nuclear fucking detonation. So given that I'm gonna kill him on the grounds of being a huge fucking douchebag."

"Now that's a motivation I can get behind," says Sal. "Go after the man for what he has done, not for what some criminal says he will do." He stifles a yawn. "Fuck, I'm beat. And I could use a drink."

"Me too." Cardinal glances over, "So what's your beef with Phoenix? Obviously, I'm not entirely kosher with them either, since I'm not with them."

Sal eyes Cardinal sidelong and watches the other man, as if considering something. Then he exhales and turns to look out the window again. "Teo Laudani was my boyfriend." It's hard to put himself out there like that, even if Sal Silvatti is a false identity. It's still one he lives as part of the time. "I'm not exactly happy with the way they've handle his situation."

Blink. Blink. It's probably to the best that Cardinal doesn't blurt out his first thought, which is how many boyfriends did he have, anyway? A sidelong look to the other man before he looks back to the road, his head shaking a little as he murmurs quietly, "Damn. Here I thought I had a good reason to be pissed at the ghost behind his eyes. I'm buying the drinks, you win."

Just the one. For four months with only one instance of infidelity - believe it or not. The more accurate question would be, how many people other than Sal were in love with him? That answer would yield a higher number.

He tenses, unwilling to put himself out there that much. "Well," He mutters, "At least I get a beer out of it."

"All he did to me was get me tortured nearly to death," Cardinal snorts derisively, "I got over that. The other… fuck, that's screwed up, man." A sigh stirs on his lips, "Phoenix does a lot of— compromising. They're a political organization, largely."

"If it had happened to anyone else, Teo would have had half the city mobilized to get them back. But Phoenix seems content to just let him run free and stay out of his way." Sal stares at the ceiling of the car. He's not surprised by what happened to Cardinal, but he does give the other man a look of sympathy. "I'm done beating my head against the wall about it. Everything I've tried to do has made things worse. And he swears he'll let Teo have his body back soon. Not sure I believe him, but I don't really have any other choice."

"I'll tolerate him until this business with Arthur's done," says Cardinal with a tight shake of his head, "After that… one way or another, I'll tear that parasite out've him, if they don't."

"It's Teo," says Sal. The two words hitch on his tongue. "From the future. Apparently. Not just any parasite." But a self-inflicted one.

"Yeah, well," Cardinal snorts, "I think I preferred th'pussy to this new, hard-core Laudani. At least I kind've liked the other one. This one's just useful."

Sal goes very quiet all of a sudden. He doesn't say anything in response to Cardinal, just sets a hand on the side of his head and stares out the window at the passing cityscape. Either the other man struck a nerve, or he doesn't want to talk about it.

So, they drive in silence for a little bit. After awhile, Cardinal glances over, saying quietly, "There's always alternatives t'Phoenix, too, you know. They aren't th'only game in town. Just the loudest."

"I want you to help me hit at Humanis First," says Sal, seemingly out of nowhere. But he's been mulling it over as the silence rode on. "I know Phoenix won't. They say they've got bigger things to worry about." But he needs to strike out at someone, re-channel his anger over the situation with Teo. "They fucked with someone I care about." And get revenge for the threat on his mother. "You owe me two, by my count."

At that, Cardinal exhales a rough snort carrying with it a hint of dark humor. "No argument there. Soon as Arthur's taken care of, I'd be more'n happy to turn my attention to those racist sons of bitches," he admits roughly, glancing over, "You see that video awhile back, the plane crash they arranged?"

"I remember that, vaguely. They've been active lately. And are getting bolder and bolder. There'll be a street war on our hands sooner or later if things don't calm down." His tone this past half hour has been low, controlled. It's fairly different to his usual jovial, smiling, good-natured tone. But of course, Cardinal doesn't know that. Cardinal's never actually met the real him. Or, that depends on your definition of real.

"That was me they shot down." And, presumably, him amongst those that executed the Humanis soldiers on videotape. 'For Evolution,' he said before firing, and the recording caught that. Richard frowns, admitting, "There will be, one way or another. I'm surprised we haven't broken into riots yet…"

Sal realizes the desire to strike back at Humanis First is hypocritical, given his speech. But a hell of a lot has changed since then. It's hard to keep preaching pacifism when your own mother gets targetted. "It's going to escalate. People will be forced to pick sides. And when there are people out there who could turn the city into a smoking crater with a thought…" he twitches a small smile. "I'm not sure we really have to worry about ten years from now and a dictatorship if that's the case."

Cardinal notes dryly, "Yeah, well, at least we won't have to worry about them mass-producing city-crater-makers with a syringe, eh?" The car takes an exit, rolling down it towards the highway, his hands rolling along the wheel as he guides it onwards, "People already need to pick sides. They just don't all know it yet."

"This whole country enjoys being fucking terrified, I swear. It's like we're all addicted to adrenaline, so we need to shit ourselves about something or we don't feel normal." Those bitter words roll off Sal's tongue. "You can drop me off anywhere around here. I think I want to walk for a bit."

"You sure, man?" Cardinal gives him a look, one brow lifting, "I'm not gonna find you picking fights in Staten bars again, am I?"

What? Sal turns to face Cardinal and gives the other man a long look. It doesn't help. That was a horrible night. "No." He says flatly. "Got that out of my system. That was…" he grits his jaw. "…very soon after I realized that I'd been tricked for days and then attacked."

"I figured, when you told me about…" A vague gesture, before Cardinal's hand drops back down to the wheel, his head shaking, "You were pretty fucked up that night, didn't think you remembered me." He looks back forward, noting, "You stuck your neck out on my behalf, though, so as far as I'm concerned, anything you need."

"I don't remember a lot about that night. But that was knd of the point," says Sal, flatly. "What I need, is to get my head back on my shoulders. I need to think about something other than him. So if you need my help for anything, don't hesitate." He addresses this all to the glove box in a tone that remains flat and distant.

"That," Cardinal says quietly, "I can offer. I can offer you some training if you need it, too, I know you said you were shit in a fight. I've been thinking of getting some cross-training going with my people."

"I'll think about it," a beat, "Let me know if you start. You have my number. You can stop anywhere along here." Sal motions along the road. He has to go back to his condo tonight, and he doesn't want Cardinal dropping him off on a street lined with skyscrapers housing million dollar condos.

The temptation might not be too great. Cardinal pulls alongside the road, parking there though not turning off the engine. He reaches over to clap a hand on Sal's shoulder, "Thanks, man. Take care've yourself."

Fortunately, with a normal shirt over the prison scrubs, he looks more like a doctor coming off duty than a patient. He holds the pants in his hand and pushes open the passenger door, pausing to nod at Cardinal when he shoulder-pats. "Take care. Watch out for yourself. You can't disappear like I can." Well. Not anymore.

"You might be surprised, doc." Cardinal flashes a grin to the other man, "You might be surprised. See you 'round."

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