Who Will You Trust?


aric_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif

Scene Title Who Will You Trust?
Synopsis When you suffer the effects of torture, so many things become clear.
Date Jan 23, 2011

Blue Moon Cafe

Hell. The last week and a half of his life has been hell. Aric has been missing to his friends and his family for a while now. He has been kidnaped, tortured, killed, brought back to life, and dumped in an alley way in Chicago. He has spent the last two days on the back of a grocery shipping truck to get back into New York City unnoticed through the hell of some of his new "friends".

The second he gets home he walks to his phone and picks it up slowly. His matted hair in knots, his clothes disgusted, and the dark rings under his eyes showing that he has not had a good night's sleep in a long time. He dials the one person her trusts in this world right now?Elisabeth Harrison.

"For the love of the gods. Please pickup your damn phone Liz." He whispers as he hears the phone begin to ring.

Elisabeth glances down as her phone vibrates on her hip. When she picks it up, the number isn't familiar. And given the instructions she's given a few people, she walks away from the comm techs and picks it up with a simple, "Hello?" instead of her usual barked last name.

His voice is hoarse, tired and doesn't sound like him yet he says with a sigh, "Thank god…Lizzy" He moves to see if his gun is where he left it. He continues, "It's Aric. I…I need to see you. Can you come over to my place?"

The mix of relief and anxiety is nearly palpable. "Yeah," Elisabeth replies immediately. "Yeah, I have a break coming up so I can meet you for coffee. See you shortly." She hangs up the phone and looks at the comm tech with a smile. "Let me know if anything comes up. I shouldn't be more than an hour, most likely."

And then she's out the door and moving quickly, sending a text from her phone to Cardinal's to alert him. Aric's home. Join if you can. Heading out now.

As he gets in the shower, he has his gun nearby with him. He has his eyes closed letting the water run down over his muscular back. He washes his hair and conditions to get the knots out. He then just closes his eyes and lets the warmth of the water seep into his bones. He loses track of time as he remains in there for a good 30 minutes.

When Liz gets to the store, Philipa runs up and hugs her, "He is back! He is upstairs and told me to tell you to go up." She is rather happy to see him yet there is concern in her face and voice, "Something is wrong with him…yet I am so happy he is back." She waves Liz towards the apartment door as she skips off to handle guests.

Meanwhile upstairs, Aric is getting out of the shower and stares at himself in the mirror. His eyes sad, angry, and harden by the last weeks events.

Elisabeth hugs the perky assistant manaager and smiles. "I told you things would be fine," she reassures her gently. And as the girl goes back to her job, her crytal blue eyes go hard once more. She's pretty sure Aric's a far cry from fine. She goes up the stairs and bangs on the door urgently.

As the bang snaps him out of his thoughts, Aric grabs the gun near him and walks out into the livingroom area. His muscular body still dripping from his shower as he says loudly pointing the gun at the door, "Who is it?"

"It's me, open the goddamn door," Elisabeth says in a low, rough tone.

As he drops his hand to the left, he clicks the gun back to it's safety position. He walks to open the door and his eyes well up with tears, "I am not gonna lie. I am really happy to see you." He steps back to let the woman in as he closes the door behind her.

"The bad guys aren't going to fuckin' knock, retard," she says to him even as she enfolds the man in a tight hug. Offering comfort the only way she can heedless of the gun in his hand. Which she'll address later.

Only after a long moment does Elisabeth pull away and look closely at him, worry clouding her expression. She doesn't know what to address first so all she says is a very quiet, "I'm so sorry. It didn't hit us until too late that we'd be playing into his hands, Aric."

As he sighs softly, "I am not even sure where to be begin Liz." He walks to the sofa and sets his gun down. The man looks down at his body wrapped in a towel running his hands over his body where there should be scars from the machine but there are not any. "Let me get some clothes o." He walks into his bedroom and walks out back a few moments later in a t-shirt and sweats.

"Tyler….Cardinal…whatever the fuck you want to call him. He knew I would be at the Center. He came in went I was being questioned by an Agent Pak. Let's say it was not plesant." As he moves to sit down on the sofa close to the gun. "They took me somewhere….it was cold…." His eyes begin to glass over as he falls silent the images from Damian coming into his head.

"Generally I call him Dick or some derivation. Richard uses Ezekial," Elisabeth tells him absently. She moves to sit next to him and asks quietly, "How much of it do you remember?" She has experience in the idea that memory gaps or loss are the norm after torture. Her own memories are Swiss cheese of her time with Douglas.

"That is the issue. I know it all. A man found me thrown in an alley in Chicago. He was a memory manipulator of some sort I think…he was able to show me on a reflective surface what happened…I saw myself." His body begins to tremble, "I saw it all." His eyes move to Liz's, "It was horrible. The man who showed me this all was trying to help I know but…his name was Damian. Damian's friend Eli helped me get back into the city unnotice via a shipping truck so I could get back to you. They seemed to know very well what the Insitutde can and has done."

Well….. shit. Elisabeth nods, sympathy clear in her face. "I'm sorry," she says again softly. The names Damien and Eli get filed away, but her priority right now has to be him. "If you want to tell me about this, I'm listening." It's all she can do for him, but it meant a lot when Abby and Richard were willing to listen to her.

"I will call him Tyler." Aric looks down at his hands as they crackle for a second with electricity, "I was in a cell tied down alot. I had such nightmares. They kept me so drugged up most of the time I don't remember alot of the faces. Yet when he brought me too…Tyler was there. He sounded like Cardinal with a different voice." Aric body begins to tremble as he does his best to keep his emotions in check, "I was attached to a machine." His begins to explain what happened his voice getting dark to represent Tyler's when he spoke…

«We've met before, Aric.» Crackling over the intercom, «My name is Richard Cardinal, and while I may not look the part at the moment, I know that you know that I'm speaking the truth.»

A loud humming noise begins to build in the turbines as they start to spin up, and yellow lights begin flashing as warnings inside of the cylindrical chamber. «I apologize for what I'm about to put you through, Aric, but it isn't any worse than what would have happened to you in a couple months. It's just sooner, and will leave less scarring than what Humanis First would have done to you. We were friends, once, and I'm sorry it had to come to this?»

Elisabeth listens to him recite what happened to him, appalled at what she's hearing. Some part of her wanted to believe that Richard hadn't gone entirely around the bend. But this tale of horror removes any doubt from her mind that Ezekial in Tyler's body has, quite simply, lost any sense of the rational. He would rather kill a man who was a friend than try to change what happened. It broke something in her, a little piece of her heart, to know what Edward Ray made of her lover.

Blue eyes never leave Aric as he speaks, letting him share the weight of the horror.

As his eyes well up with tears, a he chuckles weakly "You would have been proud of me. I was brave at least." as he continues to explain his memory in vivid detail….

A deep sigh escapes Aric as he knows the man is speaking the truth, "Your not Richard. Your an imprint of him placed in someone else's body?Tyler. As much as a hard ass as the Richard I know is? he would never openly hurt his friends." As he slowly turns his head in the direction of the man and growls, "I would follow Richard because I have seen into his mind. He is a good man with a troubled soul."

"You," He hisses, "If he doesn't kill you Tyler, what I did to Rupert will seem like a pinic when I get my hands on you. You have harmed alot of my friends?I care for my friends." He huffs and then flinches in pain from the movement in his abs, "Whatever your gonna do?I am gonna fight you from doing it ya bastard. So let's get on with this already." He sounds brave yet his heart is going a million miles a moment.

There's a moment of silence, a frown that slips down on Cardinal's borrowed face, and then the strained sound of a sigh audible over the speakers. "You aren't my friend anymore, Aric. I know what kind of traitor you become, to both me and our entire species. This? This isn't personal, but it is payment for the man you become and what you did to me. I am the Richard you know, Aric, and I know that he's going to wind up just like me? because that's how it happens. The future has inertia."

Looking up from the microphone, Cardinal shakes his head slowly, piteously. "You can disagree with my methods all you like, disagree with me as a person, but what you can't change are the facts. The facts- Aric- are that I am the only person capable of saving us all from the coming storm."

Dark eyes square on Aric, and Cardinal's throat works up and down in a dry swallow. "I don't expect you to understand, but? that's why you're on that side of the glass, and I'm here." Richard's expression sours some, and one hand moves up to his throat to feel with unfamiliar fingers on a scar that isn't there.

«One of the reasons, anyway.»

Turning to Maddox, Cardinal offers a curt nod, and then gestures towards the scientists sitting at their workstations. «Activate it.»

As the tears roll down his face, "What do I become? I would not hurt you…Cardinal…or anyone. Why would I? That machine…the pain I saw myself go through…what it did." He brings his hands to wrap around his body as he begins to rock slightly back and forth.

Elisabeth reaches out for the telepath-turned-electricity manipulator, pulling him into a tight hug. "No matter what you became in that timeline, he's already changed it. We are changing it, with every choice, with every action," she tells him softly. "In a timeline that no longer exists, the same bastard who just tortured you killed me. During the November 8 riots, he ordered a sniper to put a bullet in my head, Aric. In this reality, Richard chose to turn his back on that path. And whatever happened to you to have you turn on Richard? My best guess would be that you knew he had me killed, Aric, and it made you see him as the enemy. But that won't happen here, because he's not going to kill me."

As he whispers into Liz's ear, "I think I killed Richard and made him Tyler. I saw him reach for his neck as if I did it. The look on his face. The anger. I could be wrong…I don't know what to think. I saw what the machine did me." He moves away slowly from her as he wipes the tears from his eyes, "I had all these rods in me. All of these wires and a laser." His voice grows cold and distant, "That Maddox…Zimmerman….I saw there faces. I saw Zimmerman's id badge. The power that went through me as the laser aligned…the air was distorted and I heared a voice coming from the other side. She was french and singing. I could not see into the distortion but I think the woman might have seen what they were doing."

As he falls deadly silent Aric looks into the distance and says, "And then I died."

She holds him as tight as she can. There are few people in the world who can understand the depths of bleak emptiness that come with those words, but Elisabeth is one of them. "And then you came back," she says softly. "As hard as that is to understand or even process… you're here. And you're going to be okay. Aric… I need to ask you one thing. I need to know what ability you're holding onto right now."

Aric sighs and says, "There is more Liz. When I came back the person who healed me was there. There were voices. I remember what some of what was talked about yet I am not sure what it all means." Aric begins to explain in vivid detail his memory again.

As unconsciousness swallows Aric again, he can hear voices in the dark, see flickering shapes of moving shadows and too-bright lights giving them definition and contrast, like a camera out of focus.

"Call in Rene, we'll send him to the Chicago facility for?"

"This was an unmitigated disaster, the machine is damaged more than?"

"We didn't receive any signal, but we were at full power for over a minute. This could only?"

"We'll rebuild, and start over?"

"Elle is next."

As he lets out a weak smile, "I saw as part of my vision the damage I caused the machine and…I melted some guys eyeballs out before I got to zap that Zimmerman doctor. I think I might have damaged it yet not destoried it. So I bought us some time yet…" He voice grows somber, "As much as Elle gets on my nerves. I won't let them do this to her. No one deserves to go through that…not even her."

And that was the information that Elisabeth needed. She whips out her phone, fingers expert at texting by now tapping out a high-speed message. "Richard'll look out for her," Liz says quietly. "I already warned him that the power might have been what they wanted in the first place, so Elle's already being watched as much as we can."

E — Inst. snatched Aric for your power. Experiment did not work with him. You are target. Stick close to RC or contact Lola for bodyguard detail. Do not be alone, and do not be expected places. —EH

Need you on immediate bodyguard detail for Elle. <Phone # incl>. She is targeted by Inst.

When the messages fire off, Elisabeth looks up at him and puts the phone back in her pocket. She reaches out to stroke his damp hair. "You did good, Aric."

His body is trembling under his touch, "I think it's best I stay away from Cardinal for now. I don't want anything I do to make him into Tyler or become this monster he says I am gonna become. Yet…" His face and voice goes very serious, "Yet we need to find the machine and destory it. I don't care what it is for or who or when. I want to take it and shove it up Tyler's ass and pull it out his nose."

"Aric," Elisabeth says quietly, very sincere. "Listen to me carefully. The person that lives in Tyler Case's body is one possible Richard Cardinal. He has lived through darker things than I can imagine — the things I know about are beyond horrible. At my best guess, you turned on him because you understood at some point that he ….. maybe was the cause of so much horribleness. But that is not you right now. And nothing you do right now, no one thing, is going to turn our Richard into that. Trust me. Some of what happened was his own choice and some wasn't — but he had 30 years of bad choices and actions that culminated in Ezekial. Time has inertia, the future has inertia. We're going to get there… the path doesn't have to be the same."

"I don't want to be a traitor…not to you or our species." He stands up and runs a hand through his hair, "Yet I guess we will see what happens. You know that Agent is going to come looking for me if she hasnt already. What are we gonna do about her…the fucking shit."

"Agent Jane Pak is the woman investigating me. You do what you need to, Aric," she says quietly. "Nash hasn't opened his mouth and said one way or the other that he did it at my request, but … they clearly suspect that." She shrugs a little. "Personally I think you should absolutely talk to them about Tyler Case attacking you. Tell them you recognized him from the newspapers last year. It was a big deal. And other than that. … I don't have an answer for you. I'm wondering if we can get Homeland on the Institute's ass, but I doubt it. They're too far in their pocket."

Aric nods and says, "She was in the room when they took me. She is gonna be asking me questions out the ass now if I call her. She began to ask me about you and Redbird and a second after I was kinapped." He chuckles weakly, "Saved by the bell I guess."

"I suppose," Elisabeth sighs. Shoving a hand through her own hair, she sits back in the couch and considers. "Well, your options are to tell her the truth or tell her you don't remember." Her tone is weary as well. "I am so damn tired of fighting him. We have to stop the machine. There is no question of that. You've bought us a little time." She grimaces. "And I'm betting the power swaps were all related to this. he's chosen people who are expendable to have access to the abilities he wants — a technopath, the electricity, Jess's strength. So I guess he's not entirely a motherfucker." Her tone is bitter. "He gave you the power because he was pissed off and wanted revenge for whatever it was that you did in some future that hasn't happened yet. Justifiable in his mind."

Elisabeth looks up and adds, "You still haven't told me… do you still have an ability right now?"

Aric sighs, "If I tell her the truth that will link me to you and most likely to Nash. I don't want to get him in trouble." As he nods and walks a few feet away from Liz, he lifts his hand up and electricity pulses down his arm and crackles into the air.

Elisabeth grimaces and nods slightly. "You're not going to be able to duck Pak. She's going to be all over you like stink on shit," she agrees.

There's a long pause and Liz finally says, "Look…. I'm not going to tell you to lie to the woman. I'm not going to tell you not to. You do what you have to, and if it burns me? Well… " She grimaces. "It is what it is. I knew fucking around with the Registration was a bad idea, I just didn't expect so damn many of you to get nailed all at once." She bites her lip. "Aric… on some levels I'm half tempted to tell you to just tell the bitch everything. It's not like she'd fucking believe you anyway." With a shake of her head, she slumps backward into the seat. "I suck at this part of things. This is why I am not the brains of our operation most of the time."

Aric says softly, "I could play dumb. I could tell her that I was kinapped. I remember Zimmerman's, Maddox's and Tyler face there. I woke up in Chicago and then I got back to the city. I don't need to tell her anything else. I can just play it up as shock or whatever they call it."

She looks up at him and nods slowly. "Unless she brings in a telepath, she can't prove otherwise," Elisabeth says quietly. "It seems the best option." She grins a little but it's not in amusement. "Aric….. if you talk to her again, if they take you out of here…. we might not get you back this time." Her blue eyes are haunted. "It's your choice here — if you want underground, we can get you underground. I'm…. afraid. For you. I'm afraid that the agent will chuck you in jail. But if you want to risk this, it's your call."

As he begins to walk towards the kitchen, he stops and considers softly, "I might have to go underground for a bit. Yet I will call her. I will get a secure line. I am sure our technopath or someone can get me one. I will call her and tell her what happened but I will not meet with her or anyone from DHS until I get confirmation that Tyler is dead or I am." He opens the fridge and looks in as he really has not eaten much in the last few days.

"We don't have a technopath at the moment… at the moment…" A shadow that's slipped into the room spills up the side of one wall, surging outwards as Cardinal pulls free of it, darkness forming colour and shape, a grimace upon his lips, "…and Tyler isn't Tyler these days."

The sound of the voice from the shadows brings Elisabeth around, relief warring with anguish on her features. "Hey, love," she greets softly. "You're….. " She grimaces. "Aric, shall I just give him the short version?" she asks the man. Because making him go through it again seems cruel.

As Aric jumps, his hand grabbing the butcher knife in a quick and graceful motion, a pulse of electricity flies out Aric's back left shoulder and slams into the ceiling above as he growls softly. "Cardinal…Christ! Don't do that for fuck sake!" As he brings a hand to his chest and gets control of his breath he lowers the knife and the apples in his cheek begin to fluster a deeper shade of red. He does not come out of the kitchen area looking at Cardinal intently before he looks down at his barefeet.

At the sudden shout and the crackling blast of electricity, Cardinal freezes in mid-step — stiffening as if he needs to leap out of the way, relaxing uneasily. "…sorry," he says quietly, approaching the kitchen slowly, "You all right, Aric? We've been pretty fuckin' worried.."

Awshit. She should have expected that. Elisabeth's reaction is damn near as instinctive as Aric's. She launches herself off the couch to put her body between Aric and the coalescing shadow form of Richard Cardinal. By the time he's fully solidified and pausing, the blonde is several steps ahead of him. Her body language is taut and adrenalized. "Fuck," she hisses.

She doesn't even realize that her hands were out toward Aric, as if she might have been about to launch something of her own his way. Elisabeth turns to look toward Richard as he walks around her to get close to the kitchen. "I should have warned you both. I'm sorry. I texted him as soon as I heard from you, Aric." There is apology in her expression. "Richard…. they did take him for the power. And they loosed Darren Stevens on him when they killed him, too." Her tone is dark, very low.

As he says softly, "Sorry Cardinal. I would…" He just says to Liz, "You tell me." Aric drops the knife as he begins to hug himself as he lets the two speak. He closes his eyes and goes to a happy place to keep his power in check and not going shitbastic again. "Sorry Cardinal nothing personal I am just really…jumpy."

At that news, Richard's own expression darkens; his jaw setting as muscles tense, he looks to Elisabeth and then to Aric, eyes closing as he turns away. "I'm sorry," he says quietly, hand curling into a fist at his side, "I didn't… I didn't think that they'd want you for anything. This is my fault." A breath's drawn in, then exhales slowly before he looks back to Liz, "Why? Why would— it's electrokinesis, I could probably dig up two or three if I really tried. It's not— it's not that rare a power. What did they want him for?"

Elisabeth turns to face Richard, pain in her eyes. "Because he knew exactly where to find Elle and he deems Aric a threat. Apparently Aric was an enemy in the future. So in swapping the powers, he got Elle out of the line of fire, got access to her power, and if he killed a man who did something shitty to him, so much the better, right?" She's …. pissed. Hurting. Some part of her still believed that the future Richard couldn't be that much different than hers. Only misguided. He shattered that hope with this move. "I've already texted Elle — they're coming after her. Based on what Aric saw and heard, he can't run the machine they were trying to get him to power. But Elle, in control of her own ability, might be able to because of the torture she was put through as a child. I've got Lola heading her way — Elle needs to be with Lola or you from here out."

Elisabeth pauses and says softly, "Aric is afraid that he might have been the one to kill you in the future. And on top of it all, Pak was asking him questions about Redbird and me. So …. he's going to have to do something shortly here. We were just talking about whether he'd continue to try to report SOMETHING to her or go underground entirely."

"They threw me in Chicago. I am beginning to think that me coming upon a memory seer was not fate. Damian showed me everything that happened to me because I could not remember. He then sent me off with Eli who got me into the city unnoticed." He lowers his head and his hair falls into his face as he says softly, "I don't want to become a traitor to my species."

"Eli? Who's…" Wait. Richard's head snaps back to Elisabeth, his eyes widening slightly, "Wait. Wait… machine? What machine?" He takes a step closer, one hand lifting as if to ask for a hold on the rest, "What machine are they— trying to power?"

Elisabeth grimaces and meets his eyes. "You know what machine, lover." The tone of finality is… awful. "And it occurs to me that in swapping out Wireless's power, he also got full access to a technopath of immense scope that he doesn't care if he kills. And he keeps Jessica off his back by taking hers away."

Aric closes his eyes and his body begins to tremble. He says softly, "The power that went through me…the lasers…the air the way it distorted above me…the woman singing in french." He begins to rock slightly back and forth on the balls of his feet.

"Oh, Christ." The color bleeds away from Richard's face as he rocks back on his heels, "He did it. The crazy sonuvabitch actually did it… he built the Mallett Device." He brings a hand up to his face, fingers sliding over his cheek, rubbing into the orbit of his eye. Silent for a moment, he asks quietly, "Do you… know where you were? Was it the facility up in Massachusetts?"

Although she looks at Aric for that answer, Elisabeth says softly, "I doubt that they'd keep something quite that deadly on the premises in the Arcology."

As he looks up and brushes the hair out of his face, "I don't I am sorry Cardinal. I was drugged up most of the time. I just remember it was so cold there. The cell they had me in I remember seeing my breathe."

"We'll need to find it…" Cardinal closes his eyes, saying quietly, "Destroying that… goddamned thing is our highest priority now. No more subtlety. We find where it is, and if we have to, we crack the goddamned earth right open to get to them." His hand falls, and he looks to Aric, expression deadly serious, "You said they dropped you off in Chicago? Who were these guys that picked you up?"

Elisabeth moves slowly, resting her elbow on the counter, letting Cardinal ask the questions. She hadn't been going to put Aric on the spot quite this fast.

Aric shrugs, "Two hobo's yet…I don't think they were by the way they spoke. Damian was an old man with dreadlocks and had this grandfather who saw all kind of feel about him. He touched me and well I lived part of that experience again. Once I had recovered he showed me with his ability the rest of what happened. His friend Eli…creepy dude came out of the shadows and stayed. He got me on a shipping truck and helped me back yet something tells me there is more too it. I just don't know. Eli seemed to know alot about the Institute and their "candy vans" he called it."

Cardinal's lips purse in a slight frown. "Could've been Guardians. They're based out of Chicago, I think… neither've those are the names that Hiro mentioned, though, so it could just be a coincidence," he admits, exhaling a sigh of breath and looking back to Elisabeth. "Alright. I'm doing a job for our contact in the Institute tonight. Try and get a hold of the Dumonts— ask if they know what facility this machine might be being built up in, they're supposed to be keeping an eye on things."

There's a grimace from Elisabeth and she looks at Richard, mentioning it aloud in case Aric didn't know, "Goddamn. Candy vans are the street name for those vans with no windows they usually use to kidnap kids. Or… in this case, perhaps Institute abductions. If they're doing experiments on people, trying to see what works like they did here through the Suresh Center." She pauses and nods to Cardinal. "All right." She doesn't like or trust them. "You sure you want to bring them into this? It's not Kershner's primary goal. They may tell her."

Aric adds softly, "We did not decide on what am I doing? Agent Pak? Going under ground?" He smiles softly making an attempt at humor, "If I am taken again I might not come back. We have no idea why I was brought back. Why didn't Tyler leave me dead? Not that I am complaining. I have alot of questions."

"I don't care if Kershner knows about the machine," Cardinal says with a rough snort of breath, "Just say that we're concerned about some goddamn machine they're building that we've heard rumors about, and ask if they know where it's being built. The bitch hasn't been pulling her weight lately, and it's about time we made use of her resources. They're supposed to be spying on the Institute, damn it, so we'll see if they're worth a goddamn." He exhales a sigh, "I— don't know, I'll think about it. Look, I've got to go prep the armor for the op tonight. I'll try and figure out some ideas, if Liz doesn't come up with anything."

Elisabeth looks at him and says quietly, "I'll pick up a pre-paid cell. Aric can make the call to her, give his descriptions and tell her that he's going undergroudn because he's scared to death. Those assholes were clearly not DoEA." She looks at Aric. "I think we're going to need to start investing in fuckin' safehouses, Richard," she says drily.

Aric runs a hand through his hair and says, "I bought us some time with Tyler. I destroyed it with my power yet they ARE gonna rebuild it. I heard them say it. I just don't know how fast and how much."

"I think you're right," Cardinal shakes his head slightly, "The library's not terribly safe right now, not with the robots, so… we'll talk about it later." He hesitates, "I'm sorry, again, Aric. I didn't think they'd touch you."

There's a nod from Liz and she sighs quietly. "All right. I'll take care of the cell phones — Aric, I'm going to have Jo pick up three and she'll bring them to Philipa. Once you make the call, get the hell out of here." She pulls a keyring out of her pocket, handing him two keys. "Go to the Dorchester. My friend Alec's apartment is empty for now. It'll tide you over for a day or two until we can get you to a better location. Here's the key to my place there — help yourself to what's in the freezer. With the operation running tonight, I have to be on-site at the operations center on the base in full view. So for today, it's all about laying low, okay?"

Aric looks towards Liz and then down at his feet, "I will tell you this…anyone comes near me to take me anywhere other then fucking California for a vacation opn a beach I am killing them." He walks over to pick up the 9mm on the sofa and walks back to his spot in the kitchen. He seems to want to keep his distance between him and Cardinal. I won't kill you Cardinal. I won't betray my species or become the monster you said I will become. his thoughts express as he shrugs.

When he listens to the woman's instructions he nods and says, "Sure Liz I will do that. No problem."

Cardinal's gaze trails after the former telepath as he heads back to the kitchen, watching him silently for a moment before turning to head for the door without another word, flesh and clothes flowing away to darkness in a wash of shadow that slips beneath the door.

Elisabeth starts to say something, but Richard is gone before she can. Closing her eyes for a moment, she keeps her face averted from Aric. When she looks back, she has carefully arranged her expression into calm. "I'm sorry," she says softly. "I'm sorry that in allying yourself with us, you were opened to this. And I'm sorry for what you suffered. I hate that I'm leaving you alone to deal with this, Aric." Because she knows how traumatizing it is. "If you need to talk, anytime, call me. I'll make the time. Right now, I've got to cover your tracks." She moves toward the telepath and reaches up to hug him tightly. "I know what you're going through. I won't let you be alone."

Aric hugs Liz back and says softly, "Thanks Liz. You're a true friend. I don't regret being a part of Endgame. I guess I have come to learn that it comes with the job."

No matter how much Elisabeth might wish otherwise, this is war.

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