You Know Him


cardinal3_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif lene_icon.gif

Scene Title You Know Him
Synopsis After meeting with Howard, Jolene Chevalier turns to Endgame in the hopes of saving the future.
Date October 13, 2011

Webster’s Dictionary defines neutral ground as a median strip on a highway or boulevard, especially one planted with grass, or the strip of grass between a street and sidewalk. Jolene Chevalier always wondered why the definition failed to meet the expectation brought with the word. It’s her definition of neutral ground that she’s chosen for an important meeting, and while it is a place outside of the personal circles of all those involved, its one with a historical weight to it. This is where Endgame was born.

The Verrazano-Narrows bridge was once an example of civil planning and industry, a double-decker bridge that spanned the Hudson river between Brooklyn and Staten Island. Then the Vanguard changed everything. Now, on the lower deck, where concrete is upended and twisted rebar gnarls like broken fingers, Jolene Chevalier awaits her guests with anxious tension. The faux redhead paces back and forth on boots with soles nearly worn flat. Her too-large blue denim jacket is frayed at the edges and the soft fur lining on the inside is missing in patches. She looks as though she’s been making due for a long while now.

Far below the bridge, back on the mainland, the fire-light of the homeless settlement at the bridge’s base burns brightly. Police have stopped coming to the Narrows to break up these shanty towns, there’s too many more pressing fires to put out. It makes this meeting place, one deck below where the end of the world was averted, to drive home the point of Lene’s meeting. Except she’s left with just hope and prayer that the two people she’s lied about everything to, show up at all.

When Lene sent word that she needed to meet, Elisabeth’s response was immediate and affirmative. She had already told Cardinal that she trusts Lene, so aside from letting the other woman know that she wouldn’t be coming alone, she doesn’t mention who is coming with her. It is, however, a lot easier for Cardinal to scout out the area in shadow form — she herself just has to be exceedingly careful in getting to the meeting point. Even in the homeless settlement, she’s not entirely certain not to be turned in by someone.

“Jolene,” she murmurs softly, pushing her voice just a little to carry to the redhead waiting beneath the bridge. When she gets near the other woman, she offers a smile but Lene’s demeanor worries her. “Not like you not to just come to the Brickfront. What’s going on?”

Restless energy causes Jolene to start when she hears Liz’s voice. It isn’t because of any one particular thing, it’s just like a wound elastic finally being given permission to snap back into place. “I couldn’t — “ Lene hesitates, one hand coming up to fiddle with the collar of her jacket. “I wanted to meet here, neutral ground,” in spite of the definition, “because there’s some shit. Big, heaping piles of shit.” Her hands sculpt out the estimated girth of the heaping pile of shit in the air. “With Cardinal gone, I — things are so fucked, and I don’t know if there’s enough time to un-fuck them.”

This isn’t the same Jolene Liz was accustomed to seeing. She was jittery, anxious, and not as in control of the situation as she normally tried to be. “We fucked up.”

Elisabeth shoves her hands into her pockets, glancing around them thoughtfully. “I realize that the lot of you are certain that you came back with a better view of how to fix things than we have … but I definitely think it’s time you trust us. We’re not as incompetent as you might fear.” Her tone is gentle. “Perhaps it’s time you all tell us what the plan originally was and then we’ll talk about whether it’s fixable?” she suggests.

The light of the barrel-fires sends shadows dancing across the broken concrete and rebar of the bridge, and one of those shadows moves with subtle but determined purpose. It arrived before the audiokinetic, and even now drifts somewhere behind Jolene, silent and watchful as Richard Cardinal listens, and decides what to do next.

It's hard to trust someone, even someone you thought you could, when their associate tried to murder you.

“No,” Lene insists, balling her hands tightly closed. “You don’t — things aren’t just fucked, they’re proper fucked.” Brows knit together, she paces around along the broken concrete underfoot, then looks out at the dark of the Hudson river beyond, dappled in minimal moonlight. “We all came back for different reasons, really. I mean — we all said we’d come back to fix what went wrong with Samuel Sullivan.” Jolene tugs teeth across her bottom lip, fingers plucking at the ragged hem of her jacket.

“That was then,” Jolene dithers. “Sullivan’s…” she waves a hand in the air. “We wanted to fix things for you,” comes with a look to Elisabeth. “Our families, you know? It isn’t one thing we need to fix. It’s — the whole fucking world.” Her hands gesture around wildly. “The DoEA was what ruined everything in our time. The Institute was… it wasn’t the problem, until it suddenly was.

Realizing that makes almost no sense, Jolene pauses and runs her hands through her hair, tugging off her knit cap in the process and swinging it around anxiously. “Cardinal,” Lene tenses, “Our Cardinal, was trying to fight the system from the inside. Fight the DoEA, fight the future. But… some really dark shit happened, everyone kept having to make compromises — moral or otherwise — and, fuck.” Lene looks down to the ground, staring vacantly at the toes of her boots. “The abyss stared back or something.”

Looking up to Elisabeth, there’s a helpless look of desperation in Jolene’s eyes. “We don’t know what we’re doing anymore. We had a roadmap, but nothing’s — nothing is the way it should be. Richard came back before any of us, he had time to dig in. History has already changed and we never even realized it. All of this is so different from our time, it’s just — “ Tugging her hat back on her head, she exhales a weary sigh through her nose.

“I don’t even know what I can tell you to help,” Lene admits after considering her options. “Howard and I agreed to talk, try and — I don’t know. We’ve all been so focused on adjusting the course of history, maybe it’s about time we just hit it with a big fucking hammer.”

“Yeah,” Elisabeth tells her softly when she finally stops spewing words at the speed of thought. “The abyss has a way of doing that when we think we know how to run things.” There’s a wry twist to her lips and she glances around them again, knowing a shadow is listening. There is sympathy in her blue eyes when she looks back at Lene.

“With all of you pulling in different directions, it seems you’re doing the same things we did — each party tossing the dice. For what it’s worth? We’ve pretty much come to the same conclusion, Lene. There are a couple of different things that have popped up in the dreams that lend credibility to what you’re saying — that he managed to change things before you ever got here. Which … Richard tore up the roadmap six months ago.” Pulling her hands out of her pockets, she moves to lean on the rail of the broken bridge.

“We’ve made mistakes too. But the one thing that still holds true is that Humanis First is in charge of Homeland Security. Things are *still* going to get bad before they get better. But… Your Cardinal needs to be removed from the picture altogether, along with his fucking machine. The Ferry’s already been in touch, and we’re working on it. The biggest hammer we can find is coming into play.” She shrugs. “Whether it actually helps anything is anyone’s fucking guess. And that’s probably the way it ought to be, Lene.” Her tone is soft.

“I wish… that I could take some of the stress off you. What can I do to help? Did you just need to tell me that it’s all gone to hell from your perspective?”

There's a level of desperation in Jolene's words, in her voice, that Richard Cardinal knows well. Not, perhaps, as well as his future counterpart — but he knows it down to the marrow of his bones.

"You can throw as many pebbles into the Hudson as you want," stirs a familiar whisper from the shadows behind the woman, "But in order to change the course of a river, you have to be willing to move a mountain…" A mountain…

"Edward told me that, the first day we met, Ms. Chevalier…" Chevalier….

A not-so-subtle statement that he not only is back, but knows who she is.

Jolene practically leaps when Cardinal whispers, causing her to shift her footing and skitter a half step back. There’s a look of confusion in her eyes, at first seeming as though it were just because of Richard’s presence, which she can’t entirely be certain isn’t the wrong Richard. Jolene takes another step back, looking askance to Liz and noticing her visible calm. This isn’t a surprise to her, therefore…
“H-How?” Jolene stammers in shock, lips parted in an expression of confusion. “I thought that —” She relents, pauses, looks to Elisabeth with an even more puzzled expression. It wasn’t so much Cardinal that threw her off of her game, it wasn’t the revelation that a resourceful thief found a way to steal himself from outside of time. It was something more personal.

“Liz,” Lene exhales the name breathlessly. “What… what machine?” She doesn’t know.

Tilting her head as she looks at Jolene, it’s clear that the question throws the blonde. What machine?? Holy fucking shit. “Suffice to say that Richard’s extraordinarily talented when it comes to getting out of time travel bullshit. But you CANNOT tell anyone he’s back just yet — Joshua might try again, and we’re trying to avoid that scenario, please.” She rolls her blue eyes.

That was the simpler topic. The harder one brings a subtle reverberation of not-sound when she turns her mind to it. She’s having to weigh what Lene’s said, and she blows out a slow breath. “So… I don’t know what exactly the Cardinal of your time was doing or how he planned to do it. But apparently his bright idea to fix all his fuck-ups when he got HERE was to build a fucking machine intended to send himself a message back FURTHER in time.” Because that always goes well. “You’d think he’d have fucking learned.” She leaves that train of thought, the reverb still subtle but the source more clear — there is a deep well of rage simmering in the blonde.

“When everyone’s powers were swapped out and what have you, we’re theorizing that it was because he cared about Elle personally and didn’t want to chuck her into the thing to act as a battery. It was much easier to torture Aric.” She swallows. “The Institute is supposedly a lifeboat against the changes that he’s hoping to create.”

"…thought that Trafford had abandoned me in your future to die?" To die…

Cardinal may, shall we say, be a bit bitter about the entire situation.

There's silence for a few moments as Elizabeth speaks, and then a hollow sigh whispering from the fire-cast shadows. "…it was… worse than that. That's why Robert was born. Fuel for the machine." The Mallett Device…

One revelation hits after another, and Lene clasps one hand over her mouth in shock. For a moment, that’s all she can do. Stand there, stare, and struggle to reconcile these points of information. Blinking wildly, she shakes her head, then stumbles back and sweeps her hand down from her mouth to let out a shuddering, “No.” Not a no of disbelief, but a no of correction. “No it — Robert,” Lene looks shocked that they even know the name to say. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like that. Elle volunteered, but she…” Lene shakes her head, expression weary. “I heard she died in childbirth. I don’t know if it was second-guessing herself that kept her away from Cardinal, or what happened to —” Lene looks at Liz, then says nothing.

After a moment’s awkward pause, Lene swallows dryly. “That didn’t happen yet,” she affirms in confusion. “The Institute didn’t build that device until 2037. It was a failsafe, a complete and utter last ditch attempt.” Lene trembles at the thought, eyes darting from side to side as if the reality of her world flipped upside down.

“You both can’t be serious. We — we destroyed the device in 2037. Howard — we rescued him from it. We…” Lene looks like she’s having trouble reconciling the differences. “The robots, the — the —” her eyes flit up to Elisabeth, the only solid person in sight. “When we went to rescue Howard the world was already in ruins. Literally World War III was just ending, America was… I don’t know, gone?” She speaks of the idea as if it weren’t something she lived in or experienced. As if the idea of America was something distant and relegated to storybooks. “The Institute had already collapsed, Richard was on his heels. He was desperate. But he refused to give up.”

Then, looking down to her feet, Lene wraps her arms around herself. “There was an accident at the site, Walter was exposed to an aerosol amphodynamine and he just— he and Cardinal just… disappeared. Half the facility disappeared.” Suddenly, things are starting to feel all the more circular. Shadows of Moab infiltrate Jolene’s tale of futures yet to pass. “Walter showed back up three years later. Told us Cardinal was dead and just… refused to talk about the rest.” Jolene keeps her eyes averted to the floor, then rubs one hand at the back of her neck.

“How could this have happened?” She whispers, more to herself than the shadows.

“That may be what you were told happened last time,” Elisabeth says quietly. “It may even be what happened last time. But Ezekiel’s arrival in this time accelerated matters significantly. The Mallett Device is at least partially operational here in 2011. The Arcology beneath Cambridge is supposed to withstand the changes to time when he tries to activate it now. And I would assume he’s going about it just slightly differently than he did in your time just because 1) the same people are not available. And 2) he thinks he knows what went wrong.”

“Walter’s refusal to talk about what happened… doesn’t really change anything at all. At this point, the same thing has to happen here as happened in 2037.” Shoving both hands through the loose mass of purple-streaked blonde hair, Liz sighs heavily. “Both need to be destroyed. And that’s what we’re in the planning stages for now. If you have intel on the weak spots, we need it.” For the first time in the past several months, there is no sense of despair floating around the audiokinetic. Jolene’s often seen that from Liz, because she didn’t know what to do. Now she’s seeing the woman she first met, the director of FRONTLINE – focused and with a purpose. “You and JJ right now are the only two of you that I know to trust, Lene.” And perhaps Howard/Robert, but Liz isn’t touching that one.

"My insane duplicate has, as Liz said, nearly completed the Mallett Device in this time, I assure you," come the shadowy whispers of Cardinal, "Whatever happened when Trafford went back in time - and it doesn't really matter now what - it accelerated the timetable. He's trying again. And he needs to be stopped…" Stopped…

"I would've had time to make better plans, but I was robbed of that chance, so… aside from what intel you might have, what are your plans, Jolene?" Jolene…

Arms still wrapped around herself, Jolene stares down at her feet with anxious silence. For a while, she isn’t even sure how to answer Richard’s question. She toys with her teeth at her bottom lip, fingers tugging at a loose thread in her jacket. Finally, she looks up and over to Liz, the only real visible point of focus that there is here. “We blew the whole damn thing up in our time,” Lene explains. “Everyone who came back to now was there, and we just — I suppose we have to do it all again. But,” and boy is there a but in this. “The Institute never had a second facility. Not in our time. Whatever this other building is, the arcology? It was never finished in 2037, maybe because of the war.”

Reaching up to thread a wine-red lock of hair around one finger, Jolene paces in a small circle. “Howard — Robert and I are willing to help. Whatever it takes, really. In our time the device was located on Mount Natazhat in Alaska, a pretty remote peak near the Canadian border. We had abilities that helped us get in, teleportation and…” she digresses, “land travel wasn’t possible.” Then, shifting her weight to one foot she considers her options. “I — I don’t know what Cam— Joshua is thinking. I haven’t seen him in months, we’re so split up now. But I was at Bannerman Castle with the other Ferry recently,” her eyes alight back to Liz. “They’re already planning to attack the Institute. I think everyone has the same idea.”

“They’ve already been in contact,” Elisabeth nods slightly. “We’re working on a tandem attack plan. Us, the Ferry, whoever the hell else we can pull in who isn’t officially involved in either group. Anyone who wants to help. One team is heading for Alaska and one to Massachusetts, but the specifics aren’t worked out yet.” She pauses and says quietly, “Joshua trusted Calvin. I don’t think he knows pretty much anything about the rest of this shit… and honestly, I’m not sure he cares. Based on the one meeting we did get to have, his whole focus was on making sure Richard couldn’t hurt me.” She shrugs a little.

“I can get a message to JJ, and… it’s *possible* that some of the squad will help, if they can. We can’t count on that. But I only knew perhaps half a dozen of the names of people. You’re going to have to rally your own people on this one, Lene.” Liz shakes her head. “And even if they aren’t going to help, we’re still going to do it. Because frankly? I’m not entirely sure it can GET worse than the glimpses we’ve been given of where you guys came from. So those of us who know that our kids risked their own existences to come back for this? We’re going to fucking burn it to the ground. All of it.” The rage only has that sub-audible outlet. Her tone is very calm as she says it.

"If he put it there before, he'll put it there now…" As then, as now…

There's silence from Cardinal for long moments before he whispers a reluctant admission, "I don't know if this will.. make things better. It may make things worse. So many Evolved in such an open strike on what's not ''quite'' a government group but might as well be…" Be…

"We don't have much choice, though. We can't allow him to activate the Device." Device…

Exhaling a shuddering sigh, Jolene nods. There’s a moment where she’s left to consider her place in all of this, but she and Howard have already made up their minds. “I’ll see if I can make contact with the others again. And, we have a couple of people that might be able to get more information, but — I think we’re going to be going into this half blind.” Her eyes avert to the ruins of the Narrows behind her, then up to the deck above.

“You all survived the end of the world once before,” Jolene admits with an anxious tension in her voice. “I have to believe we can all do it again. There’s no going back to where we were, not… really. Not for us. We’re either going to die here, or learn to live among you.” She looks back to Liz, worry in her eyes that hasn’t yet faded.

“You know him.” Jolene intones, looking to where she last heard Cardinal’s voice. Then, looking back to the audiokinetic, she adds. “You know what he does when his back is against the wall.” There’s a look of fear again, followed by a raise of her shoulders as Jolene slides her hands into the pockets of her jacket.

“We only get one shot at this.”

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