Two Shadows


cardinal3_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title Two Shadows
Synopsis On the road to Alaska, two shadows come to realize that despite their great differences, in some ways they may be very much the same. And there is a line after all.
Date November 5, 2011

Rest Area, Somewhere in Canada

It's already been a long trip, heading north as they are, crammed into a convoy of vehicles so many distances apart, some together. Currently a few of them are stopped at a rest area with a small pod of gas pumps and an old man standing inside behind the counter of a tiny store. Somewhere in Canada, Huruma was not paying much attention; she was folding her senses inward so as to not get a continuous read on Howard for hours at a time. He is tiring to listen to. A stop means a chance to stretch her legs, which she gladly takes advantage of. The road back and forth is mostly bare, only holding a few buildings and a farm in the further distance. A small town, that nobody pays much mind to.

Huruma has stepped away from the convoy to a small patch of pines behind the station, taking some time to stop and smell the sap and hear the earthy crunch of needles underfoot to ground her.

There is more out there than the smell of pine sap and cold earth, of needles and bark, to stir to her senses. There's also a sense of stark determination without a body, shot through with threads of worry. A darkness that moves against the night, unseen to the eyes of the expedition fleet.

Huruma, however, hasn't only relied on her eyes for a very long time.

The air is brisk, but not enough to turn the air on her lips fogged. Not yet, anyway. Huruma's hand trails idly over the rough bark of an old pine, nails dragging just enough to splinter some of it off in her wake. The scratching fills her ears while the rough tangle of worry and steadfastness leads her to follow after it. Her weight idles after a few steps, eyes flicking upwards only to come back down and zero in on an invisible source.

"You are not unwelcome to sit in the cars as the rest of us do." Her voice is low, tongue running across the edges of her teeth.

A shadow separates from that of one of the trees, swinging 'round as if someone had moved a light source before spilling up over bark and needles in the shape of a man cast upon it - with nothing to be casting the shadow. There's only one shadow out there that casts itself, however.

"I thought it prudent to keep a low profile," comes the wry but hauntingly whispered voice of one Richard Cardinal, "One of the time travellers has already tried to kill me recently…" Joshua…

Huruma's features catch a bit of light as her gaze follows the shadow that forms from the shade of the pine. She tilts her head to it— Cardinal— when he answers her in his faint half-voice. Her eyes blink slowly, once, like a housecat peering from a windowsill.

"Gee, I wonder why." Huruma's lips twist in a tiny smile, brows lifting just so. She is quiet, keeping the conversation to the grove, private. "Somehow I am unsurprised."

"Time doesn't work that way," is Richard's response to that, a sigh like the wind rustling through grass added to it, "Ezekiel's son is looking for revenge in the wrong place. I understand his anger, though. I would be too, I suppose…" I suppose…

There's silence for several long moments, and then he says, "I'm glad you're here. A lot of the people with us are… righteous, but… well. They aren't killers, deep down. And there's going to be a lot of blood on the ground before we're done." Killers…

Huruma is quiet at the first, hands in the pockets of her stiff coat. She could have been less fortunate— found herself in a similar way. Children looking for someone to turn on. She has nothing to say to it, mouth simply pressing to a thinner line.

The next, a compliment, of a sort, has her rolling her shoulders in response, a dry look crossing briefly over her face. Ah, yes, that. "I can feel that righteousness you speak of. And you are right. We all have fight, but blood on one's hands is a different monster. Some can handle it. Some cannot." Huruma breathes outward in her own sigh, glancing up over her shoulder towards the island of pumps and the people filling cans and cars.

"Exactly." Exactly…

The shadow of Cardinal shakes his head ever so slightly in a barely-noticable motion upon the needle-bearing pine, regret welling up in a flood that determination crushes down again. "Righteousness is a powerful thing. It gives them fire, and there's a lot of strength in that fire. We just have to keep the blood from putting out that fire until we're done…" Until we're done…

The distant chatter of voices reaches them there, the clatter of gas cans and vehicle doors, cargo being shuffled around to dig out things that got buried and are suddenly needed. "Seems like it's always somewhere cold, doesn't it? First Antarctica, now here…" Here…

The description of righteous fire earns a more solemn nodding from Huruma, her gaze moving down to the space in front of her boots. Her senses prickle together still, the harried sort of shuffle echoing over from the convoy at the station. A lot of jostling. "We will not leave this unburnt, I expect."

One brow lifts again, at Cardinal's mention of cold. Huruma's laugh comes as a puff of air through her chest, lingering as she smiles. "Something about nefarious deeds and far-out locales? This is warmer, for now. In spirit, too."

A whispering chuckle of voice answers her words there, "I suppose it is… although it'll be colder when we get to Natazhat, eh? Still, just once I'd like the megalomaniacal villain we're dealing with to set his lair somewhere warm… well. I take it back. I suppose Argentina was that, come to think of it" Iago…

The shadows linger in silence for several moments, before admitting more quietly, "Never thought that one of these would be going after me though."

"As was Madagascar." Huruma laughs in return, eyes narrowing in her short spell of mirth. Her arms move out of her pockets and cross loosely, the shift of her weight onto her heels crunching a bit of needle litter. She stares at the shadow when it falls silent again.

"Never? Not in your years of doing this? It has been years, hasn't it?" Huruma's head cants to the side in question.

"Fewer years than it seems… sometimes it feels like I've been fighting this war forever, and not just fewer years than I can count on one hand…" Hand… The shadow holds up its 'hand' as if to show it off, Richard's ephemeral fingers holding up only four digits, "…almost four, now." Now…

"The government, sure, or Humanis, or… but I never thought that me, or a— a version of me would go this far," he admits, a simmering of guilt there despite it not actually being him, "There was always a line I wouldn't cross." A line…

Huruma's hand lifts to flick playfully at the shadow's hand, with the years tallied on it one by one. "You would know yourself best… and yet you never thought you could have the drive to be your own worst enemy?" The guilt patters against Huruma's head, a gentle reminder of mistakes. "Is there still a line? For you?"

"Yes." Yes. Less a drawn-out echo than a single echo that falls flat.

"There has to be. If there isn't… well," a mirthless stir of humor from Richard, the ripple of a chuckle from shadows, "This is what happens. If we don't draw a line, Huruma, then we're no better than Wagner was." Was…

The dimness has Huruma's irises cloaked with more inky black when she turns them back to Richard, ears pricked to his words and the lack of humor in his assessment. She looks away again, brow levelling out in a firmer line, furrowed above her nose. There seems to be a new edge to her at the mention of being no better— needing lines.

"…Maybe." Huruma's nose wrinkles some at the edge, whatever is on her mind still flitting around in there. "Maybe I did need a line."

"Maybe so." A quiet agreement from Cardinal, "You have one, though. You have things that matter to you. Or you wouldn't be here, would you…?" Would you…?

Huruma's stare stays on the shadows of the trees, though not the one that speaks to her. Instead, she turns a fresh look back in silence, scanning some of the familiar shapes and minds shifting supplies or stretching their legs.

"No. I wouldn't be." Her eyes blink hard, once, then flutter more easily back to Cardinal. "For once in my life, I… have something to lose."

"Then let that fuel that fire," is the advice of Richard Cardinal, "They say that there's nothing more dangerous than someone with nothing left to lose, but they're wrong. A mother protecting her children. An activist protecting their dream. Those are the real dangers in the world…" In the world…

"And that's why I know I could never be him. He killed Elisabeth, in his time, Huruma…" Huruma…

They are wrong. A mother, an activist, a person that finds something she maybe doesn't deserve. Huruma's breath leaves her in a lazy exhale. She narrows her eyes at what the other Cardinal has done, mind grazing back to Liz. She's good. Better than most. And yet— that's what he did. It shapes them apart to her, that's for sure. "You are right. He definitely is not you. Nor you, him. And I am not who I was." She lifts a hand, fingers skimming the faded black shear of her head.

"Neither am I. Neither am I…" A whispering sigh from Cardinal, "Maybe he never changed. Maybe he just got desperate. I hope that if I ever started to become him, you - or someone like you - would take care of me before I did anything like that. We do this for the ones we care about. To give them a better world than this for them to live in…" To live in…

"I'm not going to let my children grow up slaves. Or worse." Worse…

To have others to watch your back and make sure you don't make those mistakes— it's this reminder which has Huruma's features darkening again, thoughtful even then. "I thought this way once, but it was all backwards. I tried to kill them instead. To save them from it." Her arms fold more tightly this time, eyes narrowed and looking past Cardinal's shadow into the distant field across the copse. "But now, even when I found Kasha— I could not do it again. I had thought about it— but it did not come. Perhaps underneath, I knew we could one day be here."

"We will make this right. Not only because we want to, but because we must. If that is faith, hn, so be it." Huruma's shoulders roll once, shrugging off a phantom weight.

"As the old saying goes… praise the Lord, but pass the ammunition," is Cardinal's whispered joke, humor rustling in the darkness, "We will make this right. Because we must." We must…

"You aren't who you were. But you're better than you were for it, Huruma, and I'm glad that I know you. And that you're here with us." With us…

"I can admit that I have never heard that one before." Huruma's words come littered with a small laugh, low in her chest. It fades only some as he commends her, eyes hardening some in place of it. "Likewise." She lifts her hand in extension to him, and even if he stays a shadow, the gesture remains. "Your shadow is safe under my feet. Should you need."

The hand is offered, and his own takes it; the shadow bleeding into flesh and bone, into leather jacket and denim pants, into that roguish half-smile that people well-acquainted with Richard Cardinal know well. A bow of his head over it, his other hand swept to one side in a faux-bow to that. "I appreciate the offer," he allows, raising his head again, his own eyes hidden even in the dim light behind sunglasses that keep the light out, "I might take you up on it."

The sweep of hand in good-humored bow puts a new smile on Huruma's lips, quietly amused. Huruma ends the firm handshake with a dip of her chin, flashing a tiny bit of tooth when her smile grows. Suffice to say, his secret tagging along is safe with her. Whatever was going to come next is brought short by a vibration in Huruma's pocket, where she pries forth a tiny phone. A glance is enough. "Time to go, it seems. Tanks filled…"

"Onward it is. We've all got a date with destiny, and from what I understand— " A wink, as Cardinal jokes, "— she's ordered the filet mignon. I'll see you on the road, Huruma." A turn, then, and he steps back into the night, bleeding back away into the shadows as if he'd never been there. Although she could still feel him, of course.

A touch more confident than when she'd first felt him out here.

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