Jaws practically belonging to the floor, Josh and Half stand in complete surprise, their feet unable to move as their brains struggle to keep up. Laying his mask upon one of the countless tables lining the warehouse, Alec strides his way towards Josh and Half, admitting that he’s pretty much played puppet master over everything that’s happened since well before the Pipeline even took the turn that it had.
“It wasn’t exactly easy to precisely pinpoint exactly how everything was going to happen” Alec admits, “but known how unpredictable the two of you are, I decided to use that to my advantage.” Pulling Half’s chair from his working station towards the two frozen subjects of this grand scheme he’s hatched up, Alec takes a seat and rests his arm across a random bench, beginning to tell the tale of every step his masterplan had taken.
“I guess I should begin with where I brought Half into the mix” Alec starts, watching the larger of the two men before him begin to lose his balance, forcing himself to take a seat before any further explanation can be made. “You see, when I told you to get out of the Pipeline if you had a weak stomach, I was trying to convince you to get out while you could” Alec explains, “when you chose to stay, there was no way I, alone, could get you out.”
“I knew exactly what the Pipeline was turning into, so I laid the groundwork for this alter-ego of mine…” Alec continues, Josh beginning to lean against the solders bench, “...And thus, ‘the Guardian Angel’ was born.” Explaining how he took inspiration from a random Pipeline executive that left right before the practice took a turn, Alec runs down the process of laying out little hints pointing towards him being the man beneath the mask.
“I knew I wasn’t on board with anything the process was becoming, but I knew I couldn’t do anything looking from the outside in” Alec persists, “so I start setting the pieces to cover my ass when shit started coming unglued.” Recalling the more recent turn of the Pipeline’s approach to business, Alec explains that he became the ‘weak link’ once his first wife passed away, and he essentially became a liability to the process itself.
“They were worried I’d lose my way, and I knew that even if they wouldn’t admit it” Alec continues, “but you don’t just get to retire from the Pipeline and go about the rest of your days.” Once the original man he pinned the Guardian to passed away, Alec began realizing exactly what steps he’d take if the time to make his exit from the system itself was necessary, which is when Josh took that knife to Warren Duane’s throat.
“I knew exactly who you were targeting long before I set up the three of us to meet in that bar” Alec moves along, “and I knew it would give you the opportunity you needed to, well, do your thing.” Detailing how the chess board had finally been set up the way he liked it, Alec states that the only thing left to do was start playing. “I made it a point to be ‘taken care of’ with you on my tail” Alec furthers, “any information you’d get after that would be information I wanted you to have.”
“Before all of that, I had begun plotting how to get Half involved, and when I realized that his loyalty remained with the Pipeline over anything else…” Alec continues, “...I knew what piece I wanted him to represent.” Walking over to Half’s table, Alec reaches past the man, who stares at his arm reach forward and take an erasable marker, leaving Alec to return to his seat after pulling a whiteboard over.
“The pawns are everyone I’ve managed to quietly gather on the side opposing the Pipeline” Alec explains, his detailed description of this game being visualized by lines drawn across words. “Half is the rook, he is responsible for protecting the queen” Alec continues, his eyes lifting towards Josh, who remains patiently awaiting the conclusion of this analogy. “Eliza is the queen, she was the most difficult piece to pull in” Alec continues, “she protects…”
With a pause, Alec continues writing what he has yet to verbally explain, eventually putting the cap back on the marker and using it as a pointer, directing its head towards Josh and finishing, “...the king.” Placing the writing tool on the holder, Alec explains that he had already been telling Josh what his role in this entire operation has been since day one, “you’re the king here… Every part of this plan succeeding, or failing, depends on you.”
Tying up the remaining loose ends, Alec points out knowing Half’s grudge against “Angel” would lead to distrust being sewn, which would lead to Josh wanting to know more from Half in secret, which would lead to this uncovering. “The flash drive, the photos, and yes, Buffalo… have all been connected” Alec concludes, “and since I knew you were eventually going to uncover everything, I figured I’d make sure it was at least on my own terms.”
Hands folded in his lap, Alec leans against the table with his sights firmly laid upon the pair, finishing his presentation with “any questions?” Arms crossed, his back leaning against the table much like Alec, Josh’s chin remains high, his eyes kept upon Alec as his tongue pushes the left of his lip outwards. “Yeah” Josh replies, a cartoonish nod putting a smirk on Alec’s face as the man leaves the floor open to interpretation, “I’ve got a few”
= Joshua Lane is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 1 onwards =
Busy traffic surrounding her at every angle, Eliza dons a pair of smoky sunglasses, a large black coat with a hoodie covering the top of her head. The cold temperature meaning nothing to her, Eliza simply appreciates the feeling of fresh air meeting the little skin she lets show. The freedom of being able to walk anything other than the floors of her safehouse giving her the ability to care less of where she’s going or where it may be, just being able to leave serving as enough of a trophy.
Greeted by a man sporting a beige winter coat and a dark green beanie, Eliza nods, returning the favor with her hands tucked in her pockets, and her glasses fogged by her breath. “Pipedream” Eliza mutters, the few seconds between their interaction filled with silence until those words are uttered, the response of the man residing in an intense glare towards her.
“Follow me, stay a few steps behind until we reach it” the man replies, standing from his spot and walking off into the crowd, Eliza waiting a few seconds before doing the same. Her shoulders brushing into others going about their day, Eliza remains fixated on the green beanie a few paces ahead. Apologies when her shoulder-based interactions get a little more physical at the hands on the space afforded to her not even being a thought in her head.
Within minutes, the dark green beanie enters an unmarked, rundown building, disappearing from the populated streets, her cue having been offered. Seconds later, she meets the same destination, pulling the door open and taking a few steps inside, the sight of a large staircase and two spacious rooms to either side of her all that’s left. “I would’ve picked the right” Eliza proclaims, not needing to choose before turning around to see the man hiding himself in the corner.
“Why is that?” the gentleman asks, Eliza smirking whilst reminding him that she’s not some clueless blonde that likes to roll the dice. “It’s analytical” the woman responds, “the staircase is too obvious and someone unaware of the place would expect the right.” Eyes slightened, the man asks why the right would be her choice despite it being expected. “If they expect the right, they’ll go left, so we stay on the right anyway” Eliza replies, the man applauding her thought process.
“The Guardian send you?” the man asks, Eliza’s hands finally leaving her pockets as she reminds him that she wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t. Removing his own hands, the man holds one of them outwards, offering a handshake and introducing himself. “I’m Trey” the man replies, Eliza returning the favor and offering her name as well. “So you know what our job is?” the man asks, the woman returning her hands to her pockets, “I know bits and pieces” she responds.
“So you know we’re after those cronies that snatched up your boy?” Trey asks, Eliza’s head shrugging. “I know we’re after them” the woman replies, her head remaining tilted, “I haven’t been told what we get to do with them, yet.” One hand raised with a finger pulling her into following him, Trey leads Eliza into the right wing of the building, the answers she finds herself after partially being contained within its walls.
“And you never told Jenn?” Josh asks, his questions still being asked, the conversation perhaps not even being halfway through before Half cuts in. “Why are we talking about his rebound when we just found out he used to be married!?” the man asks, Josh telling him that Jenn still had the right to know. “Well I never told her” Alec replies, his conscience supporting the guilt of his actions despite his knowledge understanding the reason behind it, “she just couldn’t find out.”
“So what happens now?” Josh asks, his hand rubbing the side of his face as the many truths finding their way to the surface become overwhelming, “we just keep pretending we didn’t bury an empty casket in an empty grave?” His head bobbing, Alec complies with the suggestion, “yes, that is exactly what we do.” Laughing to ease the tension building up, Josh shakes his head, his hands extended as he ponders what else could be said, or what task lies ahead.
“I’ve got Eliza meeting one of my best” Alec replies, “if Half is the rook, think of this guy as the bishop.” Hands thrown about the air, Josh tells Alec that he’s not familiar with chess terminology. Stepping in, Half makes it his responsibility to break it down for the man, “you’re the king, Eliza’s the queen, after that is me, this guy’s the bishop” Half explains, “all that’s left are the knight and the pawns.”
“Precisely!” Alec responds, telling Josh that every piece on the board is in play to protect him, as long as the king isn’t put in an inescapable corner, the game is not over. Collapsing into a chair, his head in his hands, Josh asks how they can get anywhere now. “Your king has already almost fucking bit it” Josh replies, “and since the king and queen are already on the kill list, who are we supposed to depend on to get inside?”
Without a word, Alec averts his eyes from Josh to Half, the man whose face already wears the effects of being caught as a traitor to the cause in hot water again before the burner can get heated up. “So the pictures were for nothing?” Half asks, Alec’s finger raised into the air, admitting that their purpose hasn’t been fully thought out, but there is a blueprint for their worth in the scheme overall.
“Never, and always remember this” Alec replies, “never will there be a time where information doesn’t have value.” Trying his best to keep himself contained, his anger and confusion turning into a potential chemical explosion waiting to happen, Josh asks specifically for the value in this information. “You got information on this guy” Alec replies, the photograph of Holland being held for the pair to see, the curiosity behind its value remaining for the moment.
“Josh is already on the ‘inside’, for lack of a better term, with the precinct” the man continues, “because of that, we know what they want because we know what that old lawyer guy has.” Eyebrows raising, Josh begins to find his way back onto the right track, “identification” the man returns, the smile on Alec’s face carrying pride. “Everything those fingers, eyeballs and teeth are worth is carried in this paper, too” Alec replies, “so we have two weights for the price of one.”
“Either a trading piece for the Pipeline…” Half begins, Josh interrupting him, finishing the second option himself, “or a way to pin the crimes on Holland.” Nodding, Alec tells the pair that the pieces are falling into place on the other side of the board as well, “your name gets cleared” Alec responds, his finger pointed toward Josh, “or we don’t have to get Half on the inside at all.”
His eyes being shared between Josh and Half, Alec admits that this is the part of the game where he holds no influence. “It’s time to make a decision” Alec responds, “spare you” he says, pointing to Josh, “or spare you” he concludes, pointing towards Half. “I’ve already decided” Josh replies, his eyes looking up towards the man with his arms crossed. “So have I” Half responds, Alec remaining in the middle, hoping the board he set up wasn’t done so on unstable ground.
“How much are you willing to bet he’s not leading us down the wrong path?” Holiday asks, the warm coffee in his hand keeping his body from shivering as he and Arcnote return to their car. “I’m not sure” the woman replies, her thumb pressing down on the button to unlock the four doors of her temporary patrol vehicle. “I’ll say this much” she continues, Holiday’s interest continuing with it, “just because he’s not guilty of this, doesn’t mean he’s cleared of everything.”
Climbing into their seats, the pair begin discussing the potential that all of this backfires in the type of way that ends careers. “The precinct is already paying very close attention to their steps” Holiday calls to mind, “all we have to do is slip up once and everything comes crashing down.” Her beverage pressed to her lips, Arcnote quietly wonders to herself if they happen to be missing anything, leaving lapses in the story go undiscovered.
“Have we connected any of this to Warren Duane, yet?” Arcnote asks, the question coming from left field, but not throwing Holiday for too much of a surprise. “Only Cerine, Lane and the Pipeline” the man returns, “other than the basic connections, there’s no specifics in there.” Nodding, Arcnote suddenly stops, her head freezing itself in place before asking Holiday what they know about the Cerine case.
With a puff of air, Holiday runs down the basics. “He was killed in the street, a car was identified, no suspect was found, and that was all” Holiday replies, the curiosity scrawled across Arcnote’s face as more questions enter her head. “How was he killed?” Arcnote proceeds, Holiday responding with the near-clarity of the man having been stabbed. Nodding, Arcnote turns towards Holiday, the man smiling as he believes her to have a new question for him to unfold.
“Did we ever find the murder weapon?” Arcnote asks, her question having been obvious, but still taking Holiday by surprise, his eyebrows lowering as he wonders whether or not it was. “I don’t believe it was” Holiday replies, the amazement on his face giving Arcnote the next steps to take. “Cerine was involved in the Pipeline, right?” Arcnote follows, Holiday confirming her suspicions.
“Get us back to the station” Arcnote returns, her face carrying the expression of someone completely certain in where to go from there, “I want a log of every car Devine ever drove in.”
Returning to the bus stop spot after the sun has gone down, Trey takes a seat beside a man dressed from head to toe in black workout attire, a gym bag beside him. “Clear me” Trey whispers, the man’s head turning in his direction, the earphone pulled from the right side of his head as he asks Trey to repeat himself. “I said ‘clear me’” Trey replies, the man’s head looking around for anyone else.
“You’re not who I’m looking for, man” the gym-dweller replies, “I don’t know what you’re looking for.” Insisting that he does, Trey orders him to hand the keys over. “Boss couldn’t get out of work in time” Trey continues, “he told me don’t trust new faces, so he gave me the work.” Returning his earbud, the man reaches for his bag and assures him that there is no shared work. “We don’t trade with unfamiliar faces, man” the guy replies, telling him to let his boss know.
Without hesitation, Trey yanks the wire out of his ear again, telling him that he will do no such thing. “You can tell my boss yourself, but I’m not going back empty handed” Trey replies, the man responding by pulling a gun from his bag and holding it between Trey’s eyes. “I don’t know who the fuck you think you’re bossing around, but it sure ain’t gonna be me!” the man shouts, Trey’s hands casually lifted in the air.
Within seconds after that declaration, a sharp blade swings down and separates the hand from the person, the fingers still clenching the trigger as the hand drops to the ground. Attempting to howl, the casually-dressed man has his mouth covered with a rag by the no longer held-at-gunpoint Trey, Eliza assisting with the tying of a band around the man’s arm. Shuffling through his pockets, Eliza retrieves a key, telling Trey that she’ll meet him back at the warehouse.
Aside from a few cars and taxis navigating the New York street system like any other night, Eliza traverses the mostly empty streets before arriving at a storage facility just within the downtown portion of New York City. With a passcode, a key and a specific storage unit number to work with, Eliza easily makes her way inside, the only task left to endure being to locate the specific unit itself.
Her phone buzzing, Eliza answers to the sound of Josh’s voice, choosing to conceal the Guardian’s identity until a more reasonable time. “I was told the hard part would be done by now” Josh states the woman on the other end suggesting the difficult part was actually locating the exact unit. When questioned, Eliza explains the key that she got from his jacket leads to the storage facility, which is news to all involved on the other end of the phone line.
“Eliza, this is Guardian” the voice on the other line informs, Alec having taken the phone from Josh upon this revelation. “You weren’t supposed to be a key, there wasn’t supposed to be a key” the man explains, “you should have pulled a flash drive off of him.” Confused, Eliza breaks down exactly what happened once again, the key to any storage unit not having been remotely close to what they expected to come across.
“Why would he have a key to a storage unit?” Josh asks, looking around the room at the concerned Half and the suddenly shocked Alec. With a return of his glance towards Alec, Josh watches the man lock eyes with him back, the unspoken realization beginning to dawn upon all three inhabitants of the room at once. “Eliza, don’t open that garage!” Josh shouts, the woman stopping in the middle of the facility upon hearing that command.
When backed by the Guardian, Eliza questions what the issue is, only to hear the Guardian demand she leave the key at the base of the door and get out of the space immediately. Hanging up the phone, the Guardian pulls free one of his plentiful burners and dials the police, anonymously reporting a questionable storage unit they happened to find a key to, suspecting there to be something criminal contained within it.
Hanging up, the Guardian tells Josh and Half that the decision needs to be made quicker than expected, the idea of what most likely resides behind the doors of that storage unit changing the game completely. “This is about to be information to much more than just this, much smaller circle of people” Alec admits, the future of this cause potentially no longer being within their hands, or within their control.
Still stood in the middle of the facility, Eliza begins returning to her search for the unit, finally stumbling across the correct section, eventually coming to face her intended destination. Looking towards the floor, Eliza holds the key in her hand, knowing what the Guardian’s instructions were, but her natural curiosity beginning to drive her motivations.
The decision literally resting in her hands, Eliza begins lifting the piece of metal towards the lock until remembering the test the Guardian had put her through. The ability to differentiate between what she should do and what she wants to do driving her motivations, Eliza does as instructed, leaving the key for whomever may come and making her escape. Climbing into her car, Eliza pulls out of the lot and drives off, soon watching flashing lights in her rear-view mirror flood the facility.
“What do you wanna do?” Alec asks, both hands pressed against the table between Josh and Half, the proof of Holland’s identity, thus record, sitting between them. “Let him have it” Josh replies, Alec’s eyebrows lifting as Josh explains his reasoning. “He’s already lost half the skin on his face, he’s more than earned it” Josh says, looking up to the man with his arms still crossed, “he doesn’t need to die for the cause, too.”
Reaching down, Half picks up the record, the effects it causes only reaching the limits it allows. In the hands of both, the record serves no leverage to the Pipeline, thus being as valuable as simply giving it to the police. In the hands of neither, the record remains invisible, lost to the investigation as a ghost. “No” Half replies, his hand moving away from his body, stretching the paper out to the man across him.
“Half, without this, you’re still running the risk of being caught from the inside” Josh explains, telling him that the document is the only way to guarantee his survival. “That’s not my role in all of this” Half replies, Josh reluctantly taking the paper as the man leans forward, his hands placed upon the table. “I have to protect the king” Half replies, Josh immediately glancing at Alec, who shrugs, the decision not one that he had any influence over.
“I’ve made my decision” Half assures, the final shred of loyalty to the Pipeline having died long ago, only now is the fear of those repercussions dying with it. “Just give me some time to set up the rest of the pieces on the other side” Half requests, his readiness to proceed with climbing to the highest position of power giving Alec the final cog in the machine left to get moving again.
“There’s going to be something” Arcnote replies, Holiday and herself scanning the parking lot, the license plates of each patrol car Devine used in the months leading to his death on a paper in Arcnote’s hands. “There’s no reason to go through all this trouble if there wasn’t a reason” Arcnote continues, “it’s a new question, there’s nothing wrong with trying to figure out if its got an answer.”
Unlocking another car, Holiday and Arcnote climb in on separate sides, anything within reach being prodded with and searched by the pair. “The last thing we need to do is get sloppy” Arcnote replies, “we don’t wanna get used to finding nothing and overlook any-” she continues, stopping in her place for a moment as she looks forward. With a glove on his hand, Holiday holds a knife by the end of it’s handle, the weapon simply stashed in the door’s side compartment.
“Where did you find that?” Arcnote asks, the simplicity of it being replied with by Holiday in disappointment, the failure to locate a murder weapon on their own grounds immeasurably heart-breaking.
“Eventful night?” Nora calls, her seat beside Josh identical to the one earlier that morning, the same bench and all beside the Hudson bay. “You should know what the answer to that is” Josh replies, his annoyed expression usually taken upon these visits replaced by one of a man without a care of the world around him, simply wishing to enjoy the sights of the waterfront.
The pair sitting beside each other, not a hateful look on either face, presents the picture of a couple enjoying the beauty of life, disturbing when paired with the note of half of said picture no longer having theirs. “I’m never going to find closure” Josh admits, his words coming unprovoked, but the admittance not coming from out of the blue waters in front of them.
“I know” Nora replies, her confession coming with a sigh, her stare remaining on the waters as Josh’s redirects to her. “You’ll never forgive yourself for what happened” Nora replies, her words carrying heavy sorrow, “that’s not why you imagine me, though.” His hand reaching out, it finds comfort on her thigh, the woman turning towards him and leading her eyes away, her sights setting on the left of the man, the one side he prefers not to picture.
-> “It doesn’t have to go like this!” Nora cries, watching Josh pull his gun up from his side and steady his hand. Continuing to plead, Nora’s hopes fall on deaf ears as a shot fires, the burst of light from the gun reflecting in the water as another bullet fires. Startled, Josh’s hand shakes, the trigger held between the skin of his right index finger clattering as he slightly jolts it from one side to the other.
Her mouth agape, Nora leans forward, her feet still stretched to the ground as her eyes plead unspoken hopes to Josh. Her words coming across his hushed puffs, Nora’s left foot steps forward, her right remaining tailed behind as her right hand moves behind her back. “Josh…” Nora whimpers, her body weight thrusting itself forward until she collapses into Josh’s arms, the gun in his hand squeezing through the space between her arm and the left side of her body.
His chin resting on her shoulder, Josh notices the body behind her struggling to keep its arm up, the life not fully drained from its body. With one shot, Josh drains the final few drops of fight it had within it, the gun collapsing with the hand that holds it. Throwing his gun to the side, Josh turns Nora over, his hands pressing against the wound in the center of her back as her hands lose the grip they hold his shirt within.
“Don’t go like this, Nora” Josh pleads, “don’t leave me, please!” her continues, the tears in his eyes being held off by the fruitless efforts to keep the fight within her alive. Within seconds, the final ounce she has takes a bow, exiting the stage, leaving her body to go limp and he fingers to fall from his shirt collar. The woman cradled in his arms, Josh’s words fail to make any coherent sense, the brain not fully comprehending what just occurred. <-
“You didn’t pull the trigger, but you might as well have” Nora replies, her hand reaching out to pull his face back, her eyes losing themselves in his and vice-versa. “I was too sloppy” Josh replies, “if I covered my tracks well enough, you’d still be here.” Her lips puckering, Nora nods, admitting the truth behind that mindset. “You want me to forgive you, but I can’t” Nora replies, her eyes beginning to tear, “because the truth is there’s nothing to forgive.”
His head hung, Josh is encouraged by the figmentation to keep his chin lifted, her finger propping it up. “You’ll never be able to find love and continue your work” Nora reminds, making it clear to Josh that her purpose is directly rooted in that truth, “what happened to me was the lesson you needed to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Pulling his face away, Josh looks back to the spot to his left, no recollection remaining to be seen. Returning to the right, Nora has vanished, the man left to his own on the bench, the only thing keeping him company being the cold air and the rushing waters. Picking his hands up, Josh looks to them for a moment before cupping them together, letting them fall into his lap as he looks back out into the water, making peace with himself and what has to come next.