What The Shadow Whispered


colette_icon.gif cardinal3_icon.gif

Scene Title What The Shadow Whispered
Synopsis On her way to investigate a Ferrymen crisis, Colette Nichols is caught by a shadow.
Date May 5, 2010

Southern Staten Island

The weather outside is frightful, but for shadows so delightful.

Somewhere in the morass of blizzard conditions, near hurricane-force winds and layers of concealed ice beneath the snow lies a region of Staten Island's southern coast maintained by the United States Government. street lights are on up and down both sides of this residential road. While the snowbanks may tower tree-high in places, the National Guard's maintenance of the route from New Jersey to the reclaimed zone is a stable one. It's by merit of these clear roads and rebuilt power lines that has allowed for the road of an offroad bike to be heard rumbling down the icy streets. Studded tires cut through ice and snow, a newly mounted head lamp and directionals on the side show intentions of getting the Frankenstein dirtbike street legal; Devi would be proud.

Bundled up in two layers of jackets and wrapped in two thick scarves around her throat and a black beanie cap pulled down over her head, Colette Nichols' approach down the street to an innocuous looking three story tenement building is just one of a repeated number of stops the girl has been making for the last several days.

Ever since returning to Staten Island, she hasn't been alone or stationary long enough for Cardinal to truly take advantage of the situation enough to have a private conversation with her. From her clinging proximity to Tasha Oliver, business at both the Garden and the Lighthouse, and now whatever caught her on her cell phone and made her ride out to this tenement building, she's been like a bullet ricocheting around the island.

The dirtbike comes to a sputtering stop out front of the tenement building, by a narrow corridor shoveled through the piled-high snow outside. Sliding off of the bike, Colette swings one leg around and over the side, then plants a boot on the icy snow with a crunch. Breathing in deeply she exhales a breathy sigh that comes out as a cloud of steam through her scarves, then lifts up her phone and looks at it cross-eyed. "Fuck, fuck fuck— fucking— " There's a hiss of breath as she turns, slapping the phone on the side. "Signal— come on— fuck."

Something's wrong.

She's been shadowed, of course, but she's been on the move; and even when alone in that, the winds are howling too loudly for him to try and speak over. As she steps off the bike and glares at her phone, the living shadows of Richard Cardinal slide up the side of her bike in a crawling, tattered shroud of living darkness that darkens the painted colours of the two-wheeler.

"A funny thing about power outages," whispers his drifting voice, "Satellite towers need power too, and most of the grid is currently down…" The city darkened…

Colette yelps, whirling around to the sound of a voice that shouldn't be there. The frantic motion — all startle and leap, as Tasha would say — causes her footing to slip and Colette to tumble backwards up against the wall-like snowbank beside her. One elbow sinks into the snow, bracing her weight, and the cell phone comes clattering down near her feet from thickly gloved hands. "Who— who does that!?" Colette suddenly shouts out frustratedly.

"Who sneaks up behind someone in the dark and acts spooky!" There's a squeak to Colette's voice, muffled as it is behind her scarf. "Richard," she presumes, based on what Liz had described and said, "you're a jerkface!" Brows furrowed and more embarrassed than angry, Colette drops down into a crouch and picks up the cell phone from the snow at her feet, shaking it off and looking at the little red X over her signal status.

"The— cell towers are down?" Colette hasn't been anywhere to hear the news, and with wide, frightened eyes her attention on Cardinal seems a bit more focused. "Wh— weren't you gonna' talk to me like— days ago?" Colette doesn't quite perhaps realize the frustrating quality of her own commentary there.

There's no apology. Richard never really apologizes for the whole 'sneak up' thing. It's sort of what he does, after all.

"At the Garden, yes… but this doesn't really look like the Garden to me," he points out in a dry whisper, "And yes, the… entire power grid went down. The private generators are pretty much the only ones running… and the cell towers were dependent on the power grid…" Cell towers…

Still and silent for a moment, Colette looks back at the building behind herself, then to Cardinal's shadowy play across the dirtbike's frame. "N— no it— it's not. This is— " there's a look over her shoulder once more, then back. "This is the Sweat Lodge. I got a call, or— I got part of a call, something about a shipment but…" dark brows furrow and Colette shakes her head slowly. "Richard," why does she always insist on calling him by his first name, "what— what'd you want?"

Innocent enough of a question, though Richard Cardinal is someone that Colette hasn't seen face-to-face in almost a year's time by now. "I um, I— I'm not sure how you do that." Colette's words are a little jumbled, a little stream-of-consciousness ass he offers a squint to the shadows, leaning out of the snow and shaking it off of one sleeve. "You— aren't you cold?"

"No. No, I'm… not much of anything, really…" A quieter whisper, the edges of Cardinal's darksome form fluttering as if in some breeze that doesn't match the wind that's blowing, "…I can't feel anything, fortunately." Fortunately…

Given the state that he's in, it's probably best that any sense of touch is shut down in his shadowform, or he wouldn't be able to operate in the slightest. "I wanted a few things, actually, some of them… well, don't really matter anymore. I've been looking for you for awhile. Since you were taken by the Company. How've you been…?" Been…?

That much causes a chill to run down Colette's spine, green eyes wide and throat tight. "I'm— fine." It's a nervous lie, she was fine, now she's harrowed by the memory of Bella Sheridan looming in the back of her mind. Everything about Colette reacts like a victim, reacts like someone who is still damaged by an experience, and the frightened posture she takes at reminder of her capture is proof positive that the scars Bella left on her weren't physical.

"How are you even doing that?" Colette deflects to the look down at the shadows. "Sh— Shadows aren't anything. They— when Lizzy," she calls her Lizzy, "told me you— I— shadows are the absence of photons and light reflection, how is it that you can be shadows unless…" Colette's eyes narrow, pupils dilate and she takes a step closer to Cardinal. "Unless what you really are absorbs light and— "

Colette jerks back and away from the motorcycle, sucking in a sharp breath and clamping one hand down onto her mouth, a squeaking noise erupting in the back of her throat. Tense like a statue, she says nothing, but the look of something resembling horror in her eyes is plain as day. Sometimes, you shouldn't steal a peek at the man behind the curtain.

"Don't— " A sharp hiss, the shadows roiling - peeling up from the edge of the dirt bike in agitated tendrils as it crawls backwards, as if away from her, "— you could kill me with your…"

Then her expression is recognized, and Richard falls silent, trailing off into echoing whispers for a few lingering heartbeats before he speaks again. "You can see me… can't you?" Can't you…?

"I— " Colette squeaks a sound that may have been a word, though it aborts halfway through. Swallowing the sound back down, she shakily moves her hand away from her mouth. "I— don't— I don't know what I saw." It's an honest and terrified answer, one that suggests the grim truth behind what lies in the shadow of Richard Cardinal. "It— it wasn't a person," is perhaps not quite what Cardinal wanted most to hear. "God it— it looked— " Colette just huffs out a breath and swallows tightly, running her tongue over her lips and shaking her head from side to side.

"I'm sorry," is whispered to Cardinal over the howl of the wind, and Colette takes one slow, crunching step forward, reaching out gloved fingertips towards where the shadow retreated, the way someone would offer a hand to a timid, wounded animal. "You— you're hurt." Colette's pupils dilate again, this time slower than before, and her head quirks to the side. "Richard," she whines, brows screwing up and eyes averting, looking down to the snow.

Silence, then, nothing more. This is the second time that she's done something like this, and much like when she discovered Brian's secret it feels like finding the Beast's rose. It's something she wasn't meant to see.

"I know." A quiet whisper, atonal, so Richard doesn't let any emotion show in it. "I know…" Dead, dead, dead…

The shadow crawls back over the dirt bike's surface, and he whispers, "There was a… nuclear bomb… in Antarctica. It was going to flood half the world, kill billions…" Munin…

"I absorbed it." Apparently, there's consequences to that sort of thing.

"What." It's a flat delivery of the word, and Colette's brows twitch at the notion, her breathing hitching in the back of her throat as she tries to piece together the truth of that statement. Cat had said something equally crazy once before, Liz had suggested likewise, but the plausibility of those series of events and the physical possibility of a single man containing the force of a nuclear explosion and surviving — such as it is — is staggering.

"What— " it almost sounds like she's repeating herself, but there's actually a question after the startle. "Wh— what do you want?" Lowering her hand when the shadow curls back towards her, Colette seems tense, as any person would be when confronted with a ghost. Richard Cardinal may take affront to the G-Word being used, but it is relatively correct given all the things that have happened.

"You— sent that girl to talk to me. Uh, the— Ppp— " Colette squints, straining against her memory for names, "Particia?" Peyton would've been the right answer. "She um, she— she said— " Colette's not even sure what it was Peyton said, she had her own personal demons she was in the process of exorcising at the time they'd come together. "I don't— I don't understand why you care about me so much, I mean we— we hardly know each other. You— hell I didn't even remember your name, I mean you… we only met the once, at Devi's, r— right?"


It's a rather unbelievable story. Cardinal knows as much, and he doesn't really expect her to believe it… but then, if she's seen what he looks like, perhaps she might. He imagines that it must be rather unnerving to be talking to someone who all your senses scream is definately dead. She's seen more of what he looks like now than even he has.

"Peyton," he corrects in a quiet whisper, "That was Peyton… and… well, I know a lot more about you than you might think. I know more in general than most people are even comfortable with. Tamara works with us, sometimes… we follow prophecies, predictions… we're trying to make the world a better place…" Killing futures…

"You might be able to help." To help…

Dark brows furrow as Colette hears that name, of all the names that could've possibly been said. It makes the young woman take pause, stare blankly down to Cardinal's shadowy form and swallow nervously, toeing at the ground with the tip of one boot. "Tamara… you— you know— " Colette cuts herself off from reiterating the obvious, bringing a hand up to her face and rubbing at her noise slightly. It's the subtle backmasking of Cardinal's words that has her on edge still, like whispers of truth underpinning prettier lies.

"I don't know if you understand Tamara," Colette admits a bit hesitantly, teeth worrying at her lip behind her scarf. She doesn't know if she does either, but that's not something to admit to the ghost of Richard Cardinal. "I don't know if she ever says anything anyone can follow either, but— but I mean— " it's like what she just said made her feel bad, as if she realized she was being too judgmental after saying it.

"I can't see the future," Colette says in a hushed, whispering tone of voice. "All— all I see is light." There's a tightness to her voice at that, green eyes settled on the shadow. In the absense of light, there's Richard, and in the absence of shadows… is an ugly truth.

"And He said, 'Let there be light', and there was light…" and it was good… A whisper from Cardinal, "I'm not here to ask you to see the future, Colette. I have… people for that already. You might be able to help, though, anyway… because sometimes you need a light to see the things hidden in the dark." Secrets…

"You know a lot of people in the Linderman Group, don't you?"

"Mmm— " almost forms into maybe, but given that Richard knows Tamara there's that implicit layer of trust that forms a very shaky foundation of trust for Colette to stand on. "I do, but I— I'm not supposed to trust them. I mean they— they helped me, but— but my sister— " Colette's voice hitches in the back of her throat, fingers curl against her palms and she turns to look back over her shoulder at the brick tenement building, then back to Cardinal's diaphanous form again.

"She doesn't want me talking to them much, 'cause she thinks they're dangerous. But— but Mister Logan and Mister Caliban're nice," nice she says, "an' mister Linderman healed my eyesight for me and everything. I'm— I— I dunno I…" there's a hitch of Colette's voice at the back of her throat, brows furrowed and tongue wetting across her lips.

It only clicks a moment after when she looks back to Cardinal, nervously, that there's a point to asking that question. "Why'd you wanna' know about that?"

"Your sister's completely right, of course…" A quiet whisper from Richard, "…they are dangerous. A lot of them seem nice but aren't… but then again, some aren't, but are. I'd trust Zarek over that sadist John Logan any day of the week. The world's in shades of grey instead of black or white, but I'm guessing you've realized that by now…" No good or evil…

"What do you know about the Company, Colette? The people who captured you?" The Company…

Not the best topic to bring up, an Colette's eyes go wide when they're mentioned again. Reactionary backpedaling has her taking a step away from Cardinal, as if the words threatened her more than whatever she saw inside of his shadow did. Dark brows scrunch together, green eyes avert to the snowy ground and Colette wraps her arms around herself— mostly from the cold.

"I don't," isn't the best answer, or even really properly worded. "I— I know— I know they tried to take me out of my sister's house when I was little. It— I couldn't remember it. It was the night before the bomb, I think— I think they were trying to protect me. But I freaked out and— " she just makes a hand motion in the air, "Trent— a— a friend of mine was there. He— I thought I met him years later, but he— he knew me. There was this tall, scary black guy too. I don't know he— they were moving me when the explosion happened. I don't— remember much else."

Shifting her eyes to the side, COlette looks down at the ground. "Trent was trying to protect me from them, protect me from Doctor Sheridan p— probably." Her jaw trembles at the name. "B— but I— I'm not— I don't know anything."

"The black guy… that was probably the Haitian… he can erase memories, cancel powers…" A whisper from the shadow, as Cardinal ripples across the bike's surface as if stirred by a breeze, "…the Company is all those conspiracies you hear about. Evolved experimentation, imprisoning 'bad' Evos in secret prisons, the whole nine yards. You know about some of that. You got to experience it first-hand. They even manipulated things to get Petrelli into office… rigged votes, paid off senators…" Conspiracy…

"You know one of their founders. Daniel Linderman." Good old Danny-boy…

"Lifting both gloved hands up, Colette takes a step back. "Woah," information overload, "you— sound like Cat." It's hard to tell if that's an insult or a compliment given the delivery. "Like— I— would love to trust everything you're saying as true, but Magnes talks about pyramid UFOs and ancient astronauts and funny symbols with like, the same uh, tone of voice you do, like he totally knows what he's talking about. I— don't— just— "

Breathing in deeply, Colette keeps those hands up and held out at Cardinal for a few more moments before lowering them slowly. "I— I'm glad you're enthusiastic I— I don't know what this has to do with me at all. So— so the Company is— the Institute?" There's a slow arch of one of Colette's brows, "Like— the people that're looking for Liette, an' had Lori in that space coffin thing?"

"I probably do," admits Cardinal in a tired whisper, "I normally wouldn't pile all of this on you… like this… but I'm rather desperate and short on time. You can confirm everything I've just said with the Ferry, if you need to. I do apologize for this, Colette. It's a lot to… take in…" Culture shock…

A silent pause— "You know about them? No, they're… a different group. They're… worse. How is everything going with the - Liette situation? Is she still safe?" Safe…?

"Desperate for what? Desperate to freak me out and remind me of— of all sort's of stuff I don't— don't wanna deal with?" There's a raise of Colette's dark brows at that, her hands shaking and throat tightening at the thought. "I— I don't— " Colette motions with her hands in a shaky gesture, as if some how flapping at the air will brush the topic of conversation aside. Instead, she just focuses entirely on Liette, it's something she at least understands.

"I dunno, really. I— it's not my business in the Ferry." Colette offers a squint to Cardinal, teeth worrying at her lower lip. "I um, she— we found her mom and dad, I guess? So— so nobody wants to give her back, but the Institute guys said they'll freeze everything solid if we don't so…" it's sort've the most jarring explanation ever. "I dunno, Brennan got really upset and I haven't seen him since 'cause he was takin' care of her. Maybe she's with her mom an' dad now?"

"I'll go talk to him…" Now that he knows where he is, thanks to the ever-so-helpful photokinetic and her running around like a chicken with her head cut off. "…the Institute is behind the weather? Jesus Christ…" If it's not one thing…

"I'm sorry. I'm not… explaining things very well. As you can imagine, I'm not entirely in… the best state right now," Richard murmurs, "There's something I need, and it's something your sister might know. I thought that maybe… you could help." Could help…

Making a noise in the back of her throat, Colette takes a few steps closer to Cardinal, looking like she's just as guilty as he was for the information dump, all things considered. "I um, s— sure. Nicole's like… I dunno, she might be able to help you. She's kind've weird about all this stuff like— just— Colette lifts her hands and puts them at the sides of her eyes, "blinders?" One brow lifts and Colette scuffs her heel in the snow, turning to look askance at the building behind her, then back to Cardinal.

"What'd you need her for, 'cause I can totally try and talk to her for you, or— I…" Colette breathes out a sigh as a puff of steam, brows furrowing and nose wrinkling. "I dunno, I can try to talk to her, if it's something easy 'nuff. I'd tell you to come with me and talk to her yourself but, I— I don't even know when I'm going to Manhattan next and— you're— y— "

Colette grimaces, brows scrunched together and chin tolted down. She doesn't finish that sentence.

"It's alright. It would've been more important… when I first started looking for you, but things happened…" A whispered sigh, and the shadow withdraws in a slithering twist over the bike, "…I shouldn't have bothered you, Colette. I'm sure you have enough to deal with…" Deal with…

There's a weak noise in the back of Colette's throat, feeling like the kid that kicked a puppy from the way those tattered shadows recede. "W— wait." Scuffing footfalls take Colette closer to Cardinal, brows furrowed and teeth worrying at her lower lip again. "I— I'll do it, I'll ask her. You came all this way out here to find me for— for— " Colette can't even really figure it all out, so many doors were opened by this conversation she's not even sure which one to look through first.

"You came here for a reason," Colette offers with ore adamancy than her earlier stammering. "I'm here," she explains, as if the words have more significance than just stating the obvious. "Don't— don't just go…" because she feels partly responsible for it, for scaring away a shadow.

The sad fact is, Cardinal doesn't even remember the complete plan he had for her; he's finding it harder and harder to keep track of any one thread for long, and harder still to hide that fact from those closer to him. At her words, the shadow stills, tendrils of darkness already splayed from the bike across the pale of the snow, standing out all the more upon the whiteness.

"I'm not going to pit you against your sister, Colette," he murmurs quietly into the winds, "If you don't think that she'd… be willing, then I'm not going to try and talk you into sneaking the information out of her or anything. Family's important. Don't worry about it, there's more than one way to skin a cat… and you've helped me already, more than you might realize…" More than you know….

There's a soft noise Colette makes in the back of her throat, brows lifting and forehead wrinkling as she watches the shadows slither over snow like spilled ink. "Richard," Colette offers, taking a few steps over to Cardinal. "I— I gave Liz my phone number. Once this weather clears up," she's praying it does, "if you need my help for somethin', just— just ask. An'… and if you ever need Tamara for something?"

There's a hesitant creep of her lips into a bittersweet smile. "Order Chinese."

"Somehow, I think she can find me…" A whispered little chuckle from the shadows, "…she's never had any problem with showing up whenever I've needed her. I worry about her, sometimes. I couldn't ever… live like her…" Prophet…

"I will. And if you need us for anything, Colette…" Cardinal hesitates, "…you said the Institute is causing this weather? Do you know why?" No sense…

"Colette's green eyes go a little wide, the look on her face is one Cardinal has seen in plenty of other people before: guilt. When those greene yes look away, it's not Tamara she's focusing on, but rather the distraction of the weather. "I— I couldn't follow the conversation. Ss— something about Liette's sister and some guy named Luis. Brennan knew everything, but— I hadn't been dealing with any of it, so— so I don't really know." There's a furrow of Colette's brows, head tilted to the side as she rolls her tongue over the inside of her cheek.

"I dunno, Richard. I— I dunno. M'sorry— I— " Colette's sorry for things that aren't her fault, or Richard Cardinal's. "I wish I could be more helpful."

"You are helpful, Colette…" A whisper from Cardinal, reassuring, gentle, "…never think you aren't." You aren't…

The shadows twist over the snow like an oil slick in a trail across packed powder, "…you care. If more people did, I think we'd have less problems in the world. Keep up the good work, and be careful. You should shack up in one of the safehouses until this eases up…" The storm…

"I should…" Colette mumbles in gareement, looking up to Cardinal's retreating tattered cheesecloth form, "…but people need me. I can't duck my head down and be safe, not— not when there's someone else I can help." The idealism of youth is a hard thing to crush, and at the moment Colette still has that going for her, that determination to do what she feels is right. Cardinal used to be the same way, determined.

Colette watches the shadow slide away from her, away from the safehouse, and green eyes dip down to the ground, gloved fingers curl together, and the young girl furrows her brows slightly as she considers something the shadows whispered.

In a few weeks, she'll be more interested in what he said, interested in seeing it happen.

Murdering futures.

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