In the Main Exhibit Area of the Stalin Museum
This vast, circular room is paneled in wood and doesn't look like it has seen much updating since The 1950s - if any. It is positively jammed full of bric-a-brac about Stalin - framed portraits, newspaper articles, photographs, hand woven Central Asian rugs, military paraphernalia, and a bewildering array of items in dusty glass cases. Room to walk is narrow, and the chamber is dark, both literally and in ambiance. Everything looks like it needs a serious dusting, and the hardwood floors are seriously scuffed.
In the center of the room stands an elderly woman, silver hair tied into a bun. She wears a full Soviet dress uniform, the tunic of which is festooned with medals and ribbons. Her posture is ramrod straight, and piercing blue eyes gaze at you from through her antique spectacles.
With the arrival of the evening, so too, does Ravina make her presence known. The ebonette breezes into the museum, duffel bag slung over her shoulder, and she lifts a hand to flick her queue over to trail down her back while her jade eyes look about the interior. She has a mild inquisitiveness to the displays, meandering to and fro the various articles and paintings, occupying her time while the others arrive. Every so often does she pause to look about, noting to see if there are any familiar faces present within her line of sight - and when Ravina spies none, she continues her perusal of the items held within the dusty glass cases.
Likely having arrived in Georgia earlier this afternoon by the rather mundane method of a red-eye flight, Gale now steps into the museum, pausing to linger by the door for a moment with his hands in the pockets of his coat. As he looks over the dusty cases and portraits from a distance, likely actually searching for signs of security cameras in the ceiling above, he tilts a small nod to Ravina and the keen-eyed woman in turn.
It's the sound of footsteps that garners Ravina's focus, half turning away from her observation of one of the Central Asian rugs to find Gale loitering at the entrance. She lifts a hand into a brief wave at the man before stepping off in his direction, gaze momentarily lifting to perhaps find what her apprentice is looking for. "Gale," the ebonette greets with a smile, though leans over to look past him, to see if any of the others follow. "Just you thus far it would seem. How was your travels? You look rather dapper today. Ready for a bit of danger, grasshopper?"
"Hey Ravina," Gale cheerfully offers in response, stoic and business-like expression rapidly fading to a boyish grin as his attention drops from a nearby portrait to Ravina. "You're lookin' pretty snazzy yourself," he offers, pacing a few steps further into the museum to meet her approach. A little more quietly, peering over his shoulder to check for any new arrivals as well, "Well, hopefully I am."
Harper arrives with a stumble looking half-awake and as if she sort of put herself together on the journey over, twisting damp blonde hair into a pun as she stabs an HB pencil through it, to hold it in place. She yawning loudly and one eye closes and opens in the process as she stretches her free arm out and looks around dazed. Her eyes immediately glance around the room, the portraits and newspaper articles capture her attention before anything in the room, her eyes blinking a few times into focus. Her nose wrinkles a bit and then she sneezes abruptly from all the dust, she blinks a few times and shoots a smile to the woman in the centre of the room, before a wave towards Gale the extending towards him and a polite nod to Ravina in greeting.
Alicia pushes her glasses up into her tousled dark hair and briefly offers a nod to the gathered group. She stays back, however, hands shoved into her rear pockets after the brief moment's greeting, and red-rimmed eyes downturned. For the moment, at least, the dusty artifacts seem to hold little interest to the pensive brunette.
An impish smile tugs at the corners of Ravina's mouth as she settles beside Gale, once more looking over all the items on display, and needles her bottom lip with a fang. "Think you will be looting any of this?" she wonders of him, quietly. "At the very least if there are security cameras, people will go insane if they observe the live feed, so you might get away with it," comes an encouraging remark - at least till the sound of more approaching footsteps captures her attention. "You will be fine - at least it is not the Terwing, this time. Oy." When her gaze settles upon Harper, noting the polite nod, she, at the very least, offers one in return. "Alicia," she greets, tipping her head into a nod whenever Alicia comes into view. "Good evening. How was your trip?"
"Fine. Better than the rest of my day, anyway," Alicia replies quietly to Ravina and with a roll of her shoulders. "Don't worry about security feeds. Shit, if it's as archaic as the rest of this place, I could disable it without even trying," she offers, voice a bit listless, but for whatever reason her spirits are dimmed, she at least makes effort toward conversation. "How're you guys?"
"Fancy seeing you here, Professor," Gale offers to Harper next, sliding back a foot to turn and face her as she enters. A second after, he greets Alicia in much the same way: "Hey Alicia!" Aside to Ravina, finally, eying a replica Stalin made from cannon shells, he quietly remarks, "Maaaybe... Might be kind of hard to, like, sneak some of this stuff out."
The museum is clearly after visiting hours, and the only other person in the room is you four. Having been given codes to the electronic locks. You're not supposed to be here - but yet you are, off to commit a heist for a shady Red Circle wizard and Armenian mafioso Paramaz Zakaryan, who is apparently some friend or acquaintance of your Director. Not surprisingly, you are not alone. In the middle of the dusty, dark room stands a very elderly woman, a very non-elderly looking Kalashnikov slung over her shoulder. Blinking once at your arrival, she doesn't look surprised in the least. "Well. We had heard that perhaps some disreputable sorts might show tonight. And so they did," she calls out loudly in a thick Kvartelian accent. "Present yourselves and your names, and your reasons for being here!"
Harper blinks the sleep out of her stormy greys and her smile immediately brightens when she sees Alicia and she flashes the warmth of the gesture in her direction. She takes in a breath of the dusky air and breathes out, "I love the smell-- almost good as room of leather bound old parchment," she murmurs to herself mostly. As the woman speaks her attention is pulled in that direction, her smile is friendly but tired, eyes darting from her features to her Kalashnikov. Her own accent is undeniably American, but the type the rest of the world hears on television, it lacks the colloquial inflections that most have, and she enunciates her words clearly, confidence in her tied tone. She is quick to jump into the introductions, "Harper Addison Spilsbury, Juris Doctor of law, Senior Professor of Blackfield college and long standing member of the Red Circle, of which my family has been involved for generations," a beat and a mischievous flicker takes her greys. "As for disreputable, I assure you as any good lawyer, I may get caught up no good, but I've been charged for it," Harper offers a good-natured grin at the older woman and then steps back into the shadows .
Attention shifting to the keen-eyed old woman, Gale falls silent, thoughtfully chewing on the inside of his cheek. After about a second or so, he casts a brief glance to his companions, Ravina in particular. When Harper is the first to speak up, he relaxes some, waiting for the old woman's response.
"Alicia Jordan," Alicia offers, stepping up near Harper, close enough to just lightly brush her arm. The gesture's fond, affectionate, though the brunette's smile doesn't touch her eyes and she instead dips her head to the older woman standing there. "Call me... technical support, I suppose," she offers, slinging her bag a little higher on her shoulder.
A look of concern crosses Ravina's features in response to Alicia's reply, though there's a hint of a smile that forms, at the remark made about of security feeds. "Of that I have no doubt - and you might likely be right, if the rest of the interior is any indication." She steps aside from Gale for a moment, leaning over to the side to give the brunette a brief side hug, if permitted, as if to console or comfort. "Am fine enough, thank you. Are you ready?" A sidelong look is sent back to her apprentice then, her expression one of amusement. "I have faith in you." Her words fall short then, turning towards the voice that calls out to them in that thick accent. "Ravina Golescu-Lovari, arcanist, and member of The Coven. Disreputable is..debatable," she replies, the latter spoken in a more pensive manner.
Alicia definitely accepts, and returns, that hug from Ravina, relaxing a little in the moment of offered companionship.
"I know not a one of you, but I know that none of you work here, nor are you supposed to be here. This is a sacred place, and you have come to profane it. I am a guardian of His Holy memory, and I shall not let a gang of thieves or whatever you are wreak havoc. Red Circle...amoral mages. Coven... no better. Some electronics wizard, and some man who won't say two words...oh, the the first a lawyer, of all things," the old woman mutters angrily, leveling her rifle as she points it at Harper, Ravina, Alicia, and Gale in turn. "I don't know why you are here, but I suggest you leave before I have to take care of you. I was...a most efficient soldier in the Great Patriotic War...and was decorated many times over in Stalingrad. You are nothing in comparison."
Alicia adjusts the belt worn low around her hips, rather than up around her visibly showing belly, pulling a slender dart from it with a shift of her fingertips. "Perhaps. Perhaps not," she replies to the woman lightly, almost too lightly, devil-may-care in a way that those gathered have likely never heard from the petite creature.
Alicia tilts her head, showing the palmed tranquilizer dart to Ravina, as she gestures towards her own eyes with a subtle flick of her fingers.
When the rifle is leveled towards the group, Gale takes a slow, deliberate step, pacing away from the others. It probably isn't enough to keep a spray of bullets from hitting them all at once, but it's the thought that counts. His attention lifts to a portrait of Georgian bandit in a checkered scarf, though he keeps the elderly woman in his field of view. "We're pretty far off from a gang of thieves," he calmly retorts. Possibly attempting to act as a distraction as he goes on, "And wreakin' havoc's a bit over the top. You really need to work on those trust issues...What did you say your name was again, Miss?"
Gale thinks with dry amusement, in regards to being a gang of thieves, "Even if one of us is a lawyer."
"Quite, I would say we don't represent the invading german forces whatsoever or the two million causalities in that battle--," she with a warm smile. "Political history aside--, as much as I would love to discuss the merits and flaws of clashing ideologies, sadly, I think I might be the only one, " the blonde continues, a hand resting idly on a curve of her hip, the other gives Alicia's a squeeze in comradeship. "What I would like to discuss--," she pauses and at Gale 's interjection she nods in agreement to the question and adds one of her own, "what's your purpose here? To stop us or are you working for someone?," Harper wonders cheerfully, seeming to have woken up.
"My my, she is testy," Ravina quips as she steps aside from Alicia, fingers drumming over the side of her duffel bag, gaze then shifting from Alicia to Gale. "For something so sacred you surely do not keep it as pristine as it should be, as a memorial meant to honor. Gadjes, so dirty." Her nose crinkles up that, grimacing at her surroundings, if not as well the fact the sun has risen, leaving her mildly annoyed. The weapon surely gets a look over, and it earns a disdainful look from the ebonette, and she sniffs lightly at the air. "If we are a gang I suppose we should have worn more leather, something more menacing, has a little oomph, dramatics," she then suggests while lightly running a finger over the silver pendant about her neck, exhaling a thoughtful sound.
Ravina flits her eyes down momentarily to the palmed dart, giving a nod in understanding, fingernail tapping away at her amulet, then lifts up to scratch near her eye before ticking it aside at the elderly woman.
Ravina turns her attention from Alicia for a moment, the fingers on one hand slowly gesturing for you to get behind her. She glances down to her amulet, then back up, lightly rubbing at the corner of her eye, gaze then flitting to the elderly woman.
Catching the motion out of the corner of an eye, Gale frowns faintly.
Without really waiting for a response from the woman, Gale drifts a bit back towards the group. An eyebrow is lifted as he notes Alicia's carefree attitude, and the pacing brings him to stand at least partly behind Ravina. The coward.
The old woman removes her glasses, and those dusty old blues are revealed for what they are - a very bright red, and sudden feeling of power surrounds you, starting to drain the life from your very spirit. "Yelena Yekaterinovna, and this is where you shall all fall should you not leave immediately. As I said, this is a sacred place, dedicated to Tovarisch Stalin. And should you not leave, I will kill you all with a great deal of pleasure...especially a lawyer...probably a capitalist crony, lapdog of the merchants," she accuses Harper in a sneering tone, then slides the receiver bolt back on the AK. "So. If you decide that whatever mischief you came here for is worth your life, be aware I shall take it from you."
Alicia looks undeniably curious, lips parting as if she's about to ask something of the red-eyed woman. But she doesn't speak, she presses them shut instead, and tilts her head to look towards Ravina and then Gale, once those glasses are removed. Her fingers twitch, briefly.
Still kind of standing where his aimless pacing had taken him into cover behind Ravina, Gale freezes in place as the elderly woman's glasses are removed, drawing in a sharp, surprised breath. Aside from a brief glance when the woman indicates a particular disdain for Harper's profession, his eyes then narrow, studying the old lady anew.
Harper's dark brow quirks at being called a capitalist, "that is where you are wrong-- I am not a capitalist and I spent my early years doing whatever I could to bring down corrupt corporations and politicians," she shrugs with a little yawn, though the mention of immediate death is not lost on the blonde who seems to lack the prowess of a warrior, she adjusts the pencil in her hair, "I just don't think you need to slaughter millions to prove a point," she says innocently eyes scanning around the room before returning to the woman. "Clearly-- there is something here you don't want us to have or know, if you don't want to talk," she grimaces at the feelings that come along with the woman's red eyes, "not everything has to be decided at the table-- I'm tired, cranky and I'm American, I can deal with a fight," she murmurs blankly, hand drifting to the pistol she's carelessly stuck in the back of her leggings.
With Harper's reach, Alicia darts an intense look Ravina's way, another subtle flick of her fingers given, body tensing notably as she prepares to act.
For the most part, Ravina leaves the diplomacy to Harper while she keeps her gaze settled upon the elderly guard, lightly shifting on her feet. No harm in trying words first, after all. The ebonette surveys the museum in a casual, nonchalant manner, noting Gale's maneuvering while the red-eyed woman rattles on, quite hostile at that. Giving another sniff at the air, her attention focuses back to the woman then, jaw a little set, waiting. Waiting for words to cease. "Well.." comes a mumble, and her jade-eyes settle, slightly narrowing while her silver pendant takes on a sickly red glow. "Nice eyes."
The moment she notes the glow on Ravina's amulet, Alicia springs into action. The dart she prepared before is fired towards the red-eyed woman, as she hisses, "Harper, Gale, now!" The blonde has Alicia's concern, it seems, for she moves quickly to Harper's side, a long, thin blade drawn as if to protect her.
At Alicia's call to action, Gale shifts around Ravina in a burst of movement, hands pulling free from the pockets of his coat. The right hand goes to the inside of that coat, pulling a revolver from a holster under his left arm, while the left traces a rune in the air, the ruby on his middle finger taking on the same sickly red glow of Ravina's amulet.
Bright red eyes are suddenly streaked with darker crimson, a pain of anguish being let out of her elderly mouth - which, oddly enough, has perfect teeth - as she squeezes the trigger on the AK and sprays a hail of bullets towards the group, which seem to be imbued with some sort of magic, leaving a trail of dull red light behind them. Aimed at Harper, the blinded, venerable demon is more than skilled enough with her gun to still keep most of the rounds on a killer course, the lead curved and brutal, shredding through Alicia's defenses like a piece of paper and into the woman's flesh. Not seeing Ravina or Gale, she's unaware of what they're up to, but her aim is true.
When Alicia acts and the glow about the silver pendant around the ebonette's neck begins to gradually fade, Ravina reaches into her duffel bag to pull on her chainmail hauberk, darting off alongside Gale in a protective manner. "Be careful," she hisses urgently, to her apprentice as well as Alicia and Harper, her scimitar drawn from its sheathe in a practiced, fluid movement. As she charges, runes begin to take form upon her skin, writhing as if alive, her lips moving silently and her free hand sweeps off towards the woman and an arcane sigil forms on the floor behind her. Time for Ted. When the shots are fired, Ravina curses under her breath, darting off to the side to try and shove Harper out of the way of fire. "See to Alicia, hurry."
"I'm fine," Alicia grits out, having taken the brunt of what was aimed for Harper. Luckily, she's wearing a vest beneath her outer layers. Unfortunately, it only covers part of her body, and thus she's left bleeding and gasping, gritting her teeth against the pain. She hits a knee, lashing at the blinded woman's achiles with her blade, in an attempt to disable as she hisses, "Harper, move. Careful!"
Gale isn't a cowboy, and as soon as his attempt to further throw the blinded guard's aim off with a little light-headedness is complete, he takes the revolver in both hands like one is supposed to. About to take aim at the glass case behind the old woman, undoubtedly in an attempt to free the mask from its confines, he hesitates as Ravina's orders reach him, and then instead darts to Alicia's side, pistol ringing out as he fires a shot at the elderly lady.
Ravina said that to Harper, not Gale.
Gale has poor reading comprehension skills, but he still definitely hesitates to glance towards Alicia before firing off a shot at the old lady. Instead of darting to anyone's side, he instead tries to flank the guard, probably.
There is something akin to cold vengeance in the blonde's grey eyes as the woman shoots at Alicia, her jaw tenses and she is reaching for her gun. As Ravina decides to just shove her, the blonde is quick to get her finger off the trigger of the pistol she was aiming and about to pull. As she stumbles towards Alicia, trying to get her footing as she does, her hand is darting through her bag and holding her gun up in a protective manner, Harper fires a shot to give them a bit of time or cover as intended, as she takes a look at Alicia and starts scanning for wounds. "So much for talking," she mutters with a sigh, hoping she got enough cover, she starts to pull out basic medical supplies, "tell me where it hurts," she murmurs to Alicia.
And as quickly as they were streaked, they are no longer. Yelena’s eyes glow a malevolent, bright red as she focuses her intense gaze upon Gale's gun, causing it to jam before he can get a shot off. The blades of Ravina and Alicia simply bounce off of a protective force field, and the old soldier moves backwards with stunning rapidity, given her advanced age. Another burst of rounds are fired off, slamming into Ravina, not enough to penetrate her undead flesh wholly, but certainly not a lot of fun, either. With a blink, she's on the other side of the room. "I defeated whole squadrons of German supers in Stalingrad like they were toddlers with sticks. You shall be no different. I follow Comrade Stalin's directives in life, just as in death!"
"Where I'm bleeding. Not feeling much right now," Alicia replies to Harper. "I'm okay, really. Kind of... high right now." She shakes her head, glancing briefly to the marks where bullets have grazed her skin, some leaving deep gashes, though nothing looks to be disabling at this point. "Gotta get this bitch down," she insists to Harper, reaching a bit stiffly for the taser tucked into her belt, to jab that at the red-eyed woman, with attached darts zipping out to transfer that electric shock through them, as she hisses to the others. "Gotta do this together. Disable and take down before she can recover or get the fuck out of here. Fucking immortals."
It was a protective shove, if anything, when Ravina went to keep Harper from similarly getting shot. An apologetic look is shot the blonde woman's way before the vampiress redirects her footing and moves towards the gun-toting old bag. She ducks behind one of the glass displays, hurrying to tug her bow from her bag before dropping it onto the floor. Trading it in place of her scimitar, opting for distance rather than close range. Just when she moves to nock an arrow onto the string, the ancient geezer is moving, and bullets slam past Ravina's hauberk to her undead flesh, causing her to stumble back a few steps, visibly wincing. Still hurts, regardless, even if the penetration was minimal. "Gale! Eyes!"
Harper clears her throat and looks at the woman with the gun, "...right-- but so do they, kinda...-- would be the people you -should- be discussing things with," she says with some level of authority, said even if it's not well placed and probably coming from her internal self. She is working vigorously to try to help Alicia with any wounds, though a doctor she is not. "I mean-- fuck-- like do we have to fight? Can't we just sort out what is going on? You want to protect the mask-- someone wants it, you know not everyone is the enemy-- people can and have worked together-- I find it rather satisfying actually. Really now, it was infighting that brought your esteemed leader down in the end--," she shrugs a bit looking a bit frustrated. "Pretty sure your comrade Stalin would want this lot to continue spreading his doctrine-- for better or worse," she mutters with a sigh. "Politics...," Harper mutters with a tone that indicates the blonde has a love - hate relationship with the political world.
Gun jammed and without much time to correct the issue, Gale drifts back and away from the side of the room that Elena now stands in. More than that, he places the display case at the center of the room, the only holding the mask, between himself and the Kalishnakov-toting immortal. "Aye-aye, sensei!" he calls back to Ravina, still somehow managing a bit of youthful enthusiasm despite the chaos and danger. Amber eyes focused on the elderly guard's red, his left hand lifts from the grip of his pistol to trace a rune in the air.
...and once again the old Bolshevik is blinded, firing a spray of bullets off at the group of intruders. Except this time, she's far enough across the room that the bullets go wild, spanging around the room, ricoheting from bulletproof cases, wooden walls, and the hardwood floor. "As long as I fight for Comrade Stalin, I shall never know defeat! He may be gone in a sense, but he shall return! And Yelena shall be waiting to lead his armies, we shall conquer the world next time! Rolling through the Fulda Gap at the head of an armored column!" Shrieking this out in a fanatical cry mixed with pain, she ducks behind a case, feeling her way around it. Ted was never the sort to make his appearance with a timely arrival - no, the shambling horror was always late. Not very fashionably, either. Rotting corpse and all. Ravina glances back over her shoulder to assess Harper and Alicia, finding them, for the most part, okay. Her minion rises from the floor where the sigil had once been, and now that Yelena is blinded, the vampiress barks her order. "Ted, go!" On the zombie dashes, rotted maw open, hands raised like claws, dashing off to do his mistress's bidding. She similarly goes, firing off an arrow at the guard while her amulet once more grows a sickly red, and her jade eyes narrow. Focused.
Gale takes this moment to duck down below the display case at the center of the room, shuffling in a crouch as he does his best to keep the death mask's case between himself and a blinded Elena as he slings his pack under an arm and tugs out his kevlar. Possibly, there's a hope that she would never shoot the visage of her Dear Leader. A scowl forms as a ricocheting bullet furrows into the wood dangerously close to his foot. As he works on securing the vest's straps, his brow furrows in thought, gears turning.
"Right-- I get you Elena,-- I really do. Loyalty and dedication are great qualities to have-- but what you are missing, is that --their- leader," Harper gestures to the three people, "fought closely along side of -yours--, even in your esteemed battle in Vol... Stalingrad-- so while you are are trying to kill us--, you are really doing a disservice to your Comrade and I know you wouldn't want to do that, you want victory? You are going about it the wrong way--," she says a bit more clearly, loud over the shattered glass, "so-- I suggest--," the blonde western lawyer gets louder, shooting her words not her gun, "that we -all- settle the fuck down and talk about it."
With what little Alicia is able to do proving useless, right now, she takes the time to wrap a bandage around the worst of the gunshot wounds, teeth gritted in an attempt to hold back the signs of pain she's actually feeling. Turning aside to Harper, she grumbles softly beneath her breath.
Harper didn't get any text.
Alicia whispered - Always fucking useless on jobs like this.
Yelena's red eyes clear up quickly again, and as the zombie shuffles slowly towards her, she pumps him full of lead, her rounds glowing scarlet in the air as they rip the zombie to rotting chunks blown through the air in a grisly explosion of gore and rot. The arrow of Ravina's thunks into the woman's shoulder, just barely, and the wound seems to heal up as quickly as it is made. "Weak, weak. Those who have opposed the fraternal might of the Soviet Union and Comrade Stalin have only known weakness, fat and lazy on hamburgers and Wheel of Fortune. Smiling idiots, we shall make you all pay. " She narrows her eyes at Gale's approach towards the mask, but Harper's words catch her attention. "Which Comrade fought with me in Stalingrad against the Fascist pigs?"
Flicking out the cylinder of his revolver to clear the jam, Gale's attention largely lies on the display case he hides behind, searching for any signs of mystical protection aside from the obvious angry immortal. His attention is broken as a chunk of Ted strikes his shoulder, lips tearing back in a disgusted grimace as he moves to wipe some of the rotting guts away -- and then pauses, amber gaze shifting towards Harper and Alicia, the latter's injuries earning a small frown.
"I'm fine," Alicia assures Gale in a low voice, falling silent as Harper's words seem to get through to the red-eyed woman. She says nothing else, applying pressure to a bullet wound at her hip, as she waits, fingers again twitching near her belt full of tools, some of which look fairly dangerous.
Zombie down. Ravina looks on with irritation as Ted is blown to pieces, rotted chunks splatting against the floor and walls - but soon dissipate, fading into nothingness, the magic that kept it present broken. She ducks down beside Gale, having gotten to him at any rate, mirroring her apprentice and keeping that display between herself and the immortal geezer. "Vampires do not get fat on hamburgers, and what is the Wheel of Fortune?" The latter is mumbled to Gale while Harper works her hand at diplomacy, and thankfully it garners Yelena's attention. "Vakh, probably, would not surprise me any." Another glance to Gale, then, "A little zombie rot will not hurt you, grasshopper. It will wash."
"Right-- well I'm a vegetarian who doesn't own a television," Harper points out calmly, taking a few breathes and looking for the inroad into the conversation. She cuts to the chase, still trying to provide comfort to Alicia, bandaging what she can to stop the bleeding where possible and whatever the other woman whispers to her, she seems to adamantly disagree, "you give us strength-- and me hope--," she says quietly to her before she raises her voice again towards the old Soviet. "Vakhtang Lazarashvili is their leader-- he fought in the battle of Stalingrad alongside with your leader Joseph Stalin-- and continues to support and spread his doctrine," she says to her, "these are your comrades--," she points to Gale, Ravina and Alicia.
With a small nod to Alicia, Gale's attention returns to the display case, largely inexperienced eyes once more searching for any arcane symbols or other signs of warding. "Either a game show or a tarot card," he mumbles to Ravina in the respite that Harper has bought the group, "I'm guessin' she meant the game show."
Slapping a fresh clip into the Kalashnikov, Yelena regards Harper's initial words like she is admitting to a mental illness. "Vegetarianism. A luxury for the bourgeoisie who never knew the pangs of starvation in a city under siege. That is disgusting. And if you do not own a television, you own something with a screen, drooling like a lobotomized kulak at some mindless form of entertainment for the masses, capitalist lackey. But how do you know Comrade Lazarashvili? He was a comrade in arms of mine, we killed many together. Germans, deserters, saboteurs, counter-revolutionaries...he knew me differently back then." Resting the butt of her assault rifle on the ground, her suspicious gaze falls on Alicia, Gale, and Ravina. "He leads you? Who are you, and why are you here?"
Alicia shrugs. "I like television and hamburgers just fine," she says with a shake of her head and a purse of her lips, the high wearing off and pain starting to seep into her awareness much more notably. "I've had a real, real fucking bad day, so if we can figure this out..." Her head lifts, her muttering ending as she says to the red-eyed woman, "Alicia Jordan, Directorate tech support. Just like I said before."
Finally introducing himself to the crazy old woman, Gale calls from behind the display case, not daring to poke his head out from behind the bulletproof glass as he curtly lists, "Gale Renfield, Student of Ravina Golescu-Lovari, Operative and Hexblade of the Directorate." A pause as he brings up a knee, ready to reposition if need be, and then he admits, "We're here to acquire an artifact for one of Director Lazarshvili's acquaintances."
"I have never heard of this game show," comes a low grumble from Ravina as she peeks of to the side to send a baleful glare, noting the fresh clip that's slapped into the woman's weapon. There's a glance back at Harper, her expression pensive, listening at least rather than opting for more violence - for the time being. Diplomacy and politics were not a strong suit of the ebonette's, the majority of what's spoken either gone over her head, or through one ear and out the other. "Vakhtang is the leader of us three, of the Directorate," a nod to Alicia then, Gale next. "He is my Sire. Currently his only Childe, dark arcanist, blood mage, Seer of the Directorate."
Harper lets out a breath when the pause comes and the blonde takes the time to tie bandages, checking the armour to make sure it has covered her mid-section well enough, with a concern in her eyes. She murmurs under her breath, "you all might want to consider getting business cards printed up--," suggests the ever helpful blonde. Turning her attention back to the old Soviet warrior, the blonde doesn't smile but she continues, "while I cannot speak on their behalf-- I do think there are far more commonalities here than differences-- and those should be explored first, we can shoot each other later but once you start you cannot stop," she says quieter now that the gun fire has ceased. "Are you here to protect the mask specifically or have we just caught you by surprise?," she asks her, trying not to be too demanding rather to open the path of conversation.
Harper is tying bandages on Alicia and checking Alicia 's armour, if not clear.
"I know nothing of this Directorate, nor do I care. I have one duty and one care - I am here to protect the sacred memory of Comrade Stalin, to protect all that is important to him for when he returns. And he will return...people like you laughed when we old Communists claimed he would return to save us. But little did you know that he is not dead. Not really...and those of us who are dedicated to serving him and his triumphant return will never be swayed." Proudly proclaiming this, Yelena's voice is far from old, but strong and booming through the large museum chamber. The old soldier’s gaze falls on Ravina, Alicia, Gale, and finally Harper, a look of withering judgement in her red eyes. "And is my...comrade...still true to the cause? Or has he become soft and despicable, has he forgotten the way of Comrade Stalin? They were friends, has he forgotten his old Tovarisch?"
Alicia eventually nudges Harper's hands away, though she gives the woman a grateful smile - at least as much of one as she can muster. She doesn't bother answering what she doesn't know, and says simply instead, "He is anything but soft," to the red-eyed woman, as she pushes herself back to her feet. Swaying a moment, a hand pressed to her stomach, she grits her teeth and pushes through to remain upright.
Ravina can't help but to snort out a laugh when Yelena inquires of her Sire, if he had become soft. "Oh, most certainly he is despicable to our enemies, but likely not in the same manner you speak of. My Sire has become so much more, a true monster, a being far above most. He is one to be feared and respected, but soft? Even asking is an insult to him, he is far from that. He is vicious," the ebonette informs with a bit of pride in her voice. "I very much doubt Vakh has forgotten anything."
Deferring to those who have known the Director far longer than he, Gale remains silent as Ravina and Alicia answer Yelena's questions.
At the mention of the return of Stalin, the blonde democrat gets a look on her face akin to the expressions that must have washed over the majority of the planet during the US election results, but she washes it off quickly and jumps into the discussion. "It was his comradeship with Stalin that has inspired much of his current work and the organization these three are apart of--, he is dedicated and continues to spread the doctrine and speaks often of their friendship," Harper explains a bit more conversationally, lowering her voice and changing to something that is more open and welcoming. "He has not forgotten the ways of Stalin's brand of communism, that much I can assure you," she says with sincerity. "So you can see why these people have come here--, on his behalf, to resolve a matter that is clearly important to both sides."
At Ravina's impertinent tone, Yelena quick draws a Tokarev pistol and places a bullet right between her jade eyes - digging deep but deflecting off of her brow bone, still rather unpleasant. "Your Sire and I are ancients, you are a mere child. You do not get to talk to me like that. We fought and fought, killed and killed, and suffered tremendously, and inflicted it a hundred fold. Know your place." Calming down afterwards, Yelena nods at Harper and Alicia with approval. "Then it sounds like he is still carrying on the fight. He does his part, I do mine." Pointing the pistol at Gale, "Why don't you speak? And why are you here, anyways? Why did he send you?"
Alicia flinches visibly and starts towards Ravina, hesitating a moment in the face of the red-eyed woman's wrath. "Shit," she breathes, when her own injuries stop her from making any quick efforts on behalf of the ebonette. She stands still, wide-eyed and with a hand on her stomach, still, as if she could somehow protect the slight swell from further violence. She looks to Gale, big blue eyes almost pleading, now.
The raven-haired guy winces visibly as the bullet slams into Ravina's forehead. Then, shifting back onto his haunches, trigger-finger twitching as he gets ready to dive to the side should Yelena pull the trigger of her own gun as its aimed towards him, Gale answers, "No point in repeating what other people have already said, but, like, better than I ever could." His eyes break from the immortal's pistol for a moment, to nod towards the death mask as he states, "We're here for that. I imagine he's got plans for it."
Harper's eyes go wide as she watches the shot fire towards Ravina with clear concern, but seeing Alicia go towards the dark haired woman she turns her attention back to their host. Her hands visible in a manner to show she still wants to discuss rather than fight, she takes in a tense breath her shoulders going rigid. "Look, we are not here to cause harm or any disrespect to your mission, but clearly that mask is of great importance. More importantly, what you tell me you want to see your leader's doctrine continue-- not be delegated to a dusty future hidden in the walls of history, right?," she looks around the museum and all the relics that fill it, lost to time. "So I implore you-- let us talk about it-- no one is meaning to insult, we got off to a shaky start but that doesn't mean we cannot move from here," she says calmly, her eyes keeping an eye on the others in a protective manner.
Ravina's head snaps back from the impact of the bullet, resulting in a hiss of pain, a gritting of her teeth. She lifts a hand, pressing her to her forehead, dropping it down while her other palm lays flat on the floor. Her jaw clenches tight, visibly furious, and once her hand comes away, it palms the bullet, and her flesh gradually begins to knit together. Though once Yelena's attention focuses on Gale, the ebonette sweeps her arm out in front him in a protective manner, and her gaze shifts back behind her to Alicia, blood trickling down the bridge of her nose. "I am fine, Alicia, it is fine."
The glass of the cases in here might be bulletproof, but should he be fired on Gale intends to use the Death Mask's case as cover in the hopes that the case will be destroyed in the ensuing firefight. If it is, he still plans to grab the artifact and hopefully make a getaway rather than attempt to defeat Yelena.
"Then you are in the wrong place," Yelena intones to Harper, Ravina, Gale, and Alicia, the smell of cordite in the air around them. "This mask is not the one that was put on his corpse when he had taken his final breath. That one is hidden. The Curator watches over it, keeps it secret. It is in Comrade Stalin's private car, in his train, across the yard. He is not the most understanding man, and is less likely to give in. Unlike Comrade Lazarashvili and I, he did not fight in Stalingrad, he does not have our bond. But...he is Black Circle, should any of you have a connection with them. If not, it might be interesting. But he is not as strong as me," she boasts proudly, the assault rifle stood up in front of her as she rises to her feet.
Alicia shakes her head slowly and exhales a pained sigh. "Of course it's not that easy. Not that this was easy." She looks down at her bloodied skin, and runs a hand through her hair. "Thank you," is offered to the red-eyed woman. "I suppose we head there, next."
Exhaling a sigh of relief when no bullets are fired his way, Gale's shoulders sag, and he slides his revolver back into his trench coat before rising from his crouch beside the display. "...Pretty clever, thanks," he quietly mumbles to Yelena, offering a hand to Ravina, assuming she was still crouched there with him. Then, adding to the ebonette as well as Alicia and Harper, "I've got ties with the Black Circle. We can, uh, give the talking thing a shot."
Harper winces a bit as she hears the news and the young woman presses her lips into a masking smile as she shakes her head, "right-- wrong department...--," she says to the Kalashnikov carrying Museum worker. The blonde dusts off her leggings as she looks at the other three, then there is a pause. She looks towards the woman and her eyes clash like a storm, "thanks for the assistance," she says with a flash of a smile before turning back to the others. Her eyes catch Gale's comment and she looks between the others, "perhaps this time, we should take a moment and go in with a plan," she says warmly.
Turning her palm over, Ravina drops the bullet onto the floor, the blood flow slowing and she lifts her forearm to wipe the remnants away. After stowing her weapons away in their rightful place, she accepts the offered hand from Gale, then rises to her feet. "Thank you, Gale," she remarks lowly aside to him and gives her shoulders a light rolling about. The ebonette steps away to go retrieve her duffel bag, some short distance away, plucking it from the floor, grabbing it by the handles. "Tactics and strategy is not my strong suit, so if anyone has ideas, by all means, have at it," comes a dry response, and with her items gathered, she steps off towards the door, moving to linger at the exit.
"You all know where my abilities lie. If I'd had time to research schematics..." Alicia shakes her head and sighs, dismissing the thought. "It is what it is. If you need something hacked or blown up, I'm your girl."
Pushing tangles of hair back from his face, Gale slouches after Ravina towards the door, pausing to quietly assess Alicia as he passes her by. "I'm a pretty seat-of-the-pants kinda guy," he tells Harper, with a shrug. "So, like. No real plans here. He'll probably wanna cut a deal where he comes out on top. Probably if it's not somethin' we're, like, amenable too, I can keep him talking long enough for you all to jump him."
"Tell Comrade Lazarashvili that Comrade Red Death says hello. He would not recognize me as I am now, I was young and beautiful then. But we all make sacrifices for the cause," Yelena directs the four interlopers as she slides her glasses back on, concealing those burning red eyes, rifle slung back over her shoulder and pistol holstered, taking a seat on a nearby battered metal chair. "I cannot think of more that might help, I do not know with certainty where he may have hidden it. Do remember that like all of his kind that he is very proud, and his power is vast...but he's also vain. He is no less a believer, but...not so...tough."
Gale is really just going by his other dealings with Black Circle members, as far as the "This guy will want to cut a deal" prediction.
"Alright--, we don't have time so let's prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Harper looks over at Gale and nods, "right-- strike a deal but start with your commonalities, these are ideologues so you want to appeal to that and his ties to the Black Circle." She looks back at Alicia and Ravina, "you are both formidably good at what you do--, be ready to jump in, but I think we could all do with being a little less reactionary. The key to war, be it verbal or physical is predicting their attack, not getting caught in the reactionary back and forth, someone strikes and you strike back-- but interception," she murmurs. She nods to the Soviet and lets out a breath, "will do," she murmurs to her and then looks back at the others, "thoughts?"
"...Think you could, like, set up some explosives on the train before we even go in?" Gale curiously asks Alicia. "Or, like, access any security feeds they have in the train? They've gotta have a few."
"Unless specifically directed, I am much the same, more in the moment - more often than not I just do what Vakh tells me to do," Ravina remarks as she leans back against the door frame and gives her hauberk a minute adjustment. No sense in removing it, after all. "I leave talking to the people who have the words to say, I am no diplomat. I twist spells and stab people." There's a subtle shrug of her shoulders after, and her arms come to fold down lightly over her chest, jade eyes turning to peer dully out the door.
Harper looks over at Ravina with a nod of understanding and a look of encouragement, "well you are very good at twisting spells and stabbing people," she offers to her and then shrugs. "I don't take orders from anyone, but I'm not racing to be the one to give them, but what I -do- is try to get people together to succeed," she says with sincere conviction in her voice and a subtle but warm smile. She looks back at Gale, "good idea-- whatever we can have in place ahead of time would be useful-- it's a Museum right? Can we hack into the cameras and get a lay of the land ahead of time?, " she asks looking over at Alicia with a question in the raise of her brows.
"Blowing up the train would probably not do anything other than make me very angry, as the train is part of the museum. And then I would come out and kill you. Find something that leaves it all intact - I will permit you to take the mask because Comrade Lazarashvili needs it, but that is all I will permit. I only do not kill you all for that reason," Yelena snorts, crossing her arms over her tunic as she continues to watch and listen, pale blue fake eyes twitching one way, then the other. "Be smart about it. And if you must assault the Curator, do not kill him. Leave him hurt, he will get better."
"Assuming they're new enough to be digital, sure, I can do that no problem," Alicia replies to Harper and Gale with a little shrug. She pulls out her rather fancy phone, opening up apps to start scanning for signals. "If they're older, we might just have to find a way to access the video room, though. Let me see..." With a soft, thoughtful hum, and a glance towards the red-eyed guard lady, she starts to tap away at her screen.
Alicia says, pensively, "Unless, of course, they're fucking state of the art, in this run down old place..." "That'd be my fucking luck, today," Alicia grumbles as she works.
Harper nods her head as the woman mentions blowing up the train and she adds, "she's right-- I would kill us if I were her if we destroy any of their history and artifacts--, let's try to be respectful- - it will probably help in the end," she murmurs quietly, though admittedly her eyes light up as they start to strategize.
Gale furrows his brow, before quietly nodding a little in response to Harper's coaching in diplomacy. "Alright, ok, no explosives," he tells Yelena, lifting his hands defensively, before mentioning to Ravina, "As my, uh, Master, he'll probably be more interested in what you can do than what I can do. "
"Probably too much to hope that the cameras are all digital /and/ we catch him taking hype or something, isn't it?" Gale muses, attempting to sneak a glance at Alicia's screen.
"I do not have ties to the Black Circle, so it is hard to say if he would or would not have more interest - but if I am your Master does that make you my minion? You can be best friends with Ted." It's a little humor, and it tugs at the corners of Ravina's mouth - though it fades quickly. Her gaze drifts aside to Alicia then, biting on her bottom lip, her amusement clear. "She brings up a good point - are you willing to fornicate with the Curator if it comes down to it?"
The camera signals are indeed digital, but definitely not state of the art. Hacking into the camera feed shows an elderly, silver-haired and silver-eyed man of tall stature standing stiffly by the side of an old, wooden cabinet with a radio in it. A portrait of the late dictator hangs over a fireplace, and some very sumptuous furniture fills the rest of the train car.
Gale tongues the back of his teeth, before quietly informing Alicia, "You're more susceptible to, like, psychic influence when you're on it, actually. And addicts generally part with anything for their next fix, anyways." Cracking a grin to Ravina, though it fades to an uncomfortable frown at the latter part of his statement: "Sure, give Ted my number. We'll head to the Lodge and shoot some pool sometime. And...I'd rather not, if it can be helped, no."
"I swear," Alicia muses as she studies a specific angle of one of the cameras. "I could have sworn that people with red eyes and silver eyes were ageless and all. This guy's old as sin, too. Looks like a... huh." She shakes her head. "Silver eyes. So he's not weak. And since he's Black Circle, I'm gonna guess his ego's bigger than his power, guys," she warns. "The car seems to be a living area. Doesn't look like a lot of weapons or anything. But the guy's just standing there and he looks like he's waiting for something. Probably knows we're here."
"I don't think we need to get to get too complicated," she says with a shrug, "rather one-- confirm it's the right mask, identify if we can negotiate with the guy or if we need to fight for it--, all the while making sure we've taken what steps we can ahead of time. Be clear and concise," Harper says the nods to Alicia. "Yeah, him and everyone else--, which is why we should assume he is prepared too. So he may just attack on sight, unless he sees value in what we have to offer."
Scowling from her seat, Yelena wags a finger at Alicia. "Comrade Stalin made homosexuality illegal, and we follow that to this day. The Curator won't want to be having sexual intercourse with any men, he's a true believer as well. It is not something to even joke about." Muttering as she rests the rifle over her lap, her frown is a sure indicator of how the demon feels about this particular sin. "Ah. Still going on about our age. He was young looking, too, but is also old. We look old for a reason. It has nothing to do with our abilities, I assure you, we are still functionally quite young. Beauty - and age - is truly only skin deep when sculpting of the flesh is an option."
"Silver?" comes a curious inquiry from Ravina, head ticking aside at Alicia, and pensively runs her tongue over an eyetooth. "Sounds demigod. Perhaps on par with Vakh, if not more." There's another subtle shrug of her shoulders afterward, and she slants her gaze aside at Yelena for a moment, contemplating. "Makes sense why Vakh has this hate thing with homosexuality," the ebonette muses thoughtfully before drifting her focus back to Gale. "I am teasing, Gale. Do not frown so much."
"Well, that's good," Gale quietly says of The Curator's sexual preferences. After a moment to consider Alicia's words, he mumbles in agreement with Ravina, "Probably a really old god blood. Hope he isn't, like, related to either of us. That'd be awkward." Then, reaching up to tug the hood of his coat over his eyes with a final nod of farewell to Yelena, "Harper's right. Let's get this show on the road. We've got a mask to find."
Gale will be guarding his mind during any negotiations with The Curator, hence the attempt to obscure his eyes in shadow.
"Good. Be careful, bring it back for Comrade Lazarashvili and don't make me come there and kill you, " Yelena advises Gale, Alicia, Ravina, and Harper as she waves them off with the barrel of her gun. "We'll see how it goes, yes? If you fail, I am sure he will send more."
Upon entering the train car, the elderly man turns to face the lot of you, his fingers interlaced together. "Curator Babajanyan. And I already know who you are, I was watching that was going on in the museum. Quite interesting, really. So. Yelena revealed that the mask is in here. I do not know nor really care about your Comrade Lazarashvili...and it is under my charge. So. Why should I let you leave with it, much less leave alive?" His silver eyes survey you all appraisingly, clearly waiting for an answer that makes sense.
"Director Lazarashvili will put the mask to use, furthering Stalin's aims," Alicia replies softly from where she stands, still with a pained flush on her cheeks from those bandaged wounds. "Here, it sits. It serves little purpose in a world that's rapidly forgetting what was so important, what still is so important to men like the Director. If you keep it here, it and the man it represents will fade until it is all but forgotten by the masses." She lifts her shoulders faintly, pushing the button on her phone to turn off the screen, apparently feeling no further need to watch cameras.
Harper steps into the train with a curious glint in her eyes, despite being cautious, she greets the Curator with a polite smile, her gaze darting around the room. As Alicia speaks the blonde quietly consents to the answer with an approving nod, and turns to see what the reaction will be. Looking content to be a silent and observing, yet supportive audience for the time being.
From the museum Ravina goes, traveling across the yard with Gale, Alicia, and Harper, though as soon as she's outside, the vampiress is downright scowling at the sun. Thankfully the trek is short, soon the four of them are stepping into the train car - and into much appreciated cover. There's a subtle inclination of her head towards the Curator, a polite greeting as any, though she doesn't offer much by way of explanation, at least not right away. It's when Alicia speaks up that her focus drifts that way, listening and nodding in agreement. She soon glances towards Harper and Gale with a curious lift of her brow.
Gale squints a little, chin lifting as he studies the portrait on the mantle with some interest and considers the Curator's question. When Alicia answers first, he relaxes and simply nods along in agreement, lurking around somewhere between Ravina and Harper for the moment.
"I see. And how do I know this? I have only heard of the man, I know very little else. I see that you are possibly a bunch of thugs who took advantage of his connections to Yelena to get past her, but I am not so easily convinced..." the Curator replies in a silken tone to Alicia, silver eyes flashing over Harper, Ravina, and Gale. "I can show you some power...some actual power, not like that of your...walking dead leader. Nothing is very impressive about that. But perhaps you ought to come help me instead...." His words reverberate in the air as he speaks, a hand sketching out lines in the air, black like tears in reality.
You find yourself really wanting to help the Curator after all...hasn't Vak really been an asshole lately, anyways?
Gale clears this throat, after another moment's thought, attention dropping from the portrait to the old man and the spell. "Success in the Directorate's mission benefits you as much as it does us," the apprentice arcanist says as he draws his left hand from his coat, very possibly preparing to embark on a futile attempt to counter suspected sorcery with mancing. Then, "Why would we stay here and reminisce with you, when there are worlds to conquer? Why hang out in a guy's tomb, when we can make his dreams a reality?"
Alicia doesn't seem to have an answer to that question, at least, at first. But eventually she says, "You don't," she replies and after a small smile towards Gale, she adds to the silver-eyed man, "But you do know, certainly, that Yelena believes in him, and clearly you see fit to work with her. You do know that if the mask stays here, it will dissapear into time, with nobody remembering. It may be a risk, since the word of four strangers means little," she says, dipping her head to the man respectfully. "But sometimes one must take a risk to see goals met."
"Each success we manage furthers our mission, a mission that our Director had fought for alongside your Stalin, one that that he still, to this day, fights for. In this day and age, save for those that study this history specifically, and those that lived it - who really remembers? Who cares to remember? Vakhtang does," Ravina replies towards the Curator, however pauses to give a nod off at Gale. "He has a point. Why linger, stuck in this one spot, reminiscing and holding onto the memory, when it /can/ be made into reality once more? Make the world once again know it. See it. Experience it. Feel it. It does not need to just be something written in a text book for the world to glance over, and put out of mind."
Harper looks up towards the silver-eyed Curator and the blonde offers a warm smile that lights up her features, "I'd rather taken in the exhibit, stunning work," she compliments in a respectful decline to his offer of power displays. "As for-- how to attest if we are real and authentic in our pursuits? Well, you are the judge of that, so what would prove it to you? We can all pledge passionately but you expect that, what would encourage you to help us?," the young woman flat out inquires.
"Comrade Stalin is not dead. His body is not in any tomb. He is...dormant, shall we say? But he is hidden far away until the world is ready for his return," the Curator replies to Gale and Alicia with a languid wave of the hand at Harper, his murmuring in another language finished, the black lines sketched in the air vanishing. "I shall make you a deal. You shall be allowed to use the mask, but when your Comrade Lazarashvili is done with it, you must return it. Also, you and you..." he indicates with a point of his finger to Gale and Ravina, "Will become Black Circle and my apprentices. You will have your duty to your Director, of course, but for a year and a day, you will also serve me upon my command. Agree to this, or test your abilities against mine. Whereupon you will fail."
You want to help the Curator get his bargain.
When the bargain is stated, Gale peers aside to Ravina from under his hood, waiting for some indication of her feelings about it.
There's a firm set of Ravina's jaw at the offer that the Curator makes, and her jade eyes slant aside to Gale, a bit worriedly, at that. Indecisiveness and uncertainty is plainly visible upon her features.
A look of quiet relief crosses Alicia's face and she merely dips her head to the curator, now, leaving the others to talk in her place.
Gale is silent for a lengthy moment, eyes dark beneath the hood as he considers the old arcanist's offer. "...Prove to us that you have the mask here, and that this isn't another bluff," he eventually states, scarred right hand drifting into the breast of his coat for something.
Harper presses her lips together and nods her head, she looks over at Gale and Ravina, "...that's not a bad offer-- I mean you don't shirt your duties," begins the blonde. "I am going to go out on a limb and say this man can teach you a -lot-, not only about the arcane but about history and politics, which will help you in your day-job," she says with a shrug of her shoulders seeming encouraging of the idea.
"I do not have to prove anything to you, you should know better than to doubt the veracity of one powerful enough to not need to lie. You might prevail in the end, but I will certainly kill some of you before that...and that is presuming Yelena does not intervene," the Curator warns Gale, sending out a crackling arc of black electricity, striking the young arcanist right in the chest and knocking him back across the car, creating a malevolent, sizzling wound.
"Oh hell," Alicia breathes, the worry that'd crossed her face at Gale's demand deepening into something severe. "Please," she says to the silver-eyed curator. "We don't want to fight. We're not here to fight." She turns big eyes on Ravina. "It's a good deal. It'll get what we need, and you'll learn in the process."
A needless sigh is exhaled from Ravina's dead lungs, rattling away with disuse while she leans to one side, arms folded down over her chest. She looks aside to Gale while she chews away on her bottom lip, contemplating on the offer made before turning her focus towards Alicia and Harper. "That may be problematic - the only one I might serve and call Master is my Sire and Grandsire. Vakh would not be appreciative of my loyalty to any other, especially when it may prove to be a risk." The ebonette begins light pacing then, as much as she can within the car. "It is much more than duty, it is loyalty. I, for one, am bound by blood. What you ask is no simple matter." A glance to Harper, then. "How do you think Vakh would react if this man," she waves a hand at the Curator, "Commands me to do something that is counter productive to something Vakh wants or desires. Against the mission. His directive. He would be /furious/." Not much more escapes her than that, with Gale being struck, and the vampiress' eyes dilate, pupils growing wide, blackening Ravina's gaze, and the pendant about her neck begins to suck in all the ambient light.
"Shit," Alicia gasps out. "How's he going to feel if we go back to him empty handed, or with people dead? He wants this mask." It may be counter-productive to negotiations to admit the obvious, but Alicia blurts it out as Ravina calls upon her magic. "We can't fight this guy, Ravi..."
Gale's fingers barely have time to even wrap around the handle of his gun where it's holstered beneath his arm before the ancient arcanist sends him flying backwards. He hits the back of the train car with a crack, smoke rising from the hole in his kevlar as he stays slumped on the carpet for the moment. He does reply to the other demigod, however, a moment after Ravina's concern is brought to light, still trying to haggle for some reason despite the tinge of pain in his voice: "... Aside from the mask, we would require your Word that no duties as your apprentice will conflict with the goals of the Directorate or bring harm to its members."
Regarding Gale and Ravina with a curious look, his grey eyebrows raise. "I do not care about your Directorate and its members. My interest is this. You take it, you go home with it, you bring it back. You two serve me as my apprentices. I will not ask you to work at cross-purposes with your Director or his goals. It will last a year and a day. Another offer you will not get, I will just kill you for wasting my time. I do not like my time wasted, and I will wait for your Lazarashvili to send smarter people." Stretching his fingers out again at Gale, dark energy starts to crackle around his fingers.
"Gale," Alicia stresses, her face pale. She presses her hands to her stomach and takes a step back. "It's a damn fucking good offer. Accept it. Ravi. He's giving you what you asked for..." She reaches for Harper's wrist, tugging the blonde back with her - or at least attempting to.
Gale closes his eyes, head bowing for a moment as he draws in a slow breath. Then, quietly, tone calm and neutral, he simply states: "I accept."
Harper rubs her forehead, "I understand that things are complicated," she says to Ravina, "I get that-- but you can either die today and never get a chance to deal with it, or-- well you die today, " she says looking at her and then Gale with a serious look of concern, but recognizing things as they are. "It's your choice but you've at least that," she says to them, seeming to lean towards the option of another day. She does in fact move back with Alicia, not suddenly but subtly.
Ravina steps aside in front of where Gale had fallen, kneeling to inspect his injury, given the smoke that rises from the hole in his kevlar. She gives off a soft hiss, fangs bared - it's safe to say she's fairly pissed. "Are you alright, Gale?" the vampiress inquires, her voice tense, edged with anger. Turning then to put herself in front of her apprentice, using her undead self as a shield, she asks of the Curator, "What can I learn from you that I could not learn from my Grandsire? Perhaps you have heard of him? Archbishop Vladimir Totarych." There's a pause then, and a glance spared over her shoulder to Gale, then to Alicia, her lips pressed into a thin line. "He will be pissed either way and I cannot betray him." Turning her attention back to the Curator, she stands ready, her own dark energy crackling around her. "You. Swear an Oath to what you just said. That with us serving as apprentices, it will not hinder the Directorate, you will not use us to sabotage it in any way , you will not use us to bring harm to Vakhtang or the other members of the Directorate in anyway. If you can swear, then I will accept."
Alicia presses a hand to her face, exhaling heavily.
Harper blinks in utter shock and steps back.
Alicia squeezes Harper's hand, a tremble running through the pregnant brunette's frame. She's not even trying to hide how frightened she is, in that moment.
Pointing at Gale, "You are my apprentice. You survive." Pointing at Alicia and Harper, "You two survive. Plus, someone must accompany my apprentice back so that he may arrive alive and continue to grow in power." His fingers, sheathed with dark energy, focus on Ravina. "You, on the other hand.... " Muttering under his breath, a powerful necromantic spell seizes the ebonette’s body, rigid and unmoveable, wracked with agony as she cannot even twitch a muscle. Casually, he reaches and pulls out a serrated dagger from his suit. "I am going to enjoy killing this one, though. Or rather...giving her a second death...your impertinence...is your downfall..."
"Oh. Look in the back of the radio cabinet, the mask is there. There's a little...secret panel in back," The Curator instructs Alicia and Harper as he moves towards the frozen, tortured vampiress, dagger in one hand, dark energy rippling down the blade as an expression of grim delight crosses his face.
"Please," Alicia says to the silver-eyed man, her face pale and her expression dire. "Don't kill Ravina." She takes a step forward. "I don't know the first thing about magic, but I can help in... other ways." Her fingers curl at her belly after slowly releasing Harper's wrist. "She's our Director's only Childe. He's protective of her and he cares a great deal about her. Please, spare her life," she pleads, eyes shining with tears as she downcasts them, head bowed in front of the curator.
When the ebonette standing over him grows rigid under the effects of the old man's spell, Gale freezes, amber eyes narrowing, and then gradually begins to push to his feet as he considers the situation with a certain hesitancy.
Harper swallows hard but she remains silent, not interjecting herself between the fight the Vampiress has picked with the demigod, letting the others react as they chose. Rather when the curator speaks of the radio and the panel, she takes her steps back towards it, should he not stop her, in doing so removing herself further from the situation, not without fear or concern, but with neutrality.
On one hand, Gale would very much like to intervene. On the other, he's well aware he couldn't defeat The Curator if he tried, unless the old man happens to be particularly susceptible to heart attacks at the moment. And aside from that, learning from a vastly more powerful arcanist will have its perks...Of course, should the old man show even a hint of weakness, he'll receive a harsh reminder in Black Circle politics from his newest apprentice.
"If you want her to live, then you had better convince her to take the deal, or you'll be hauling her ashes out in a pouch." The Curator softly advises Alicia and Gale, only giving Harper a glance. It is easy to spot the false back to the radio's cabinet, and looks like it would be easy to slide out of the way. The old looking demigod's silver eyes glint for a moment as his dagger, suffused with malevolent black energy, starts to carve an odd sigil into Ravina's forehead. After he finishes, the spell ends, releasing her body. "Now. I ask you again. Are you leaving as a pile of ash, or are you accepting my very generous offer? Asking me to swear an Oath is excessively insulting, and I will kill your Sire next for raising such a rude Childe."
When the threat extends from Ravina to Vakhtang himself, Alicia pales further. She looks to the ebonette, her eyes wide and cheeks pale, very very pale. There's a pleading in her expression and she shakes her head adamantly. "You can't put him at risk, Ravi. Even if you don't care about your own life... shit," she exhales out, staring at the nasty mark burned into the woman's skin as she takes another step back.
Gale sucks in a breath through his teeth as he watches the Curator carve the sigil into Ravina's forehead, though he watches the energy surrounding the dagger with an undisguised curiosity. After a moment, he quietly suggests to the vampiress, voice low, "...Just take the deal, Ravina. The terms are reasonable enough."
Harper continues calmly, though her hands shake she focuses at the task at hand, using the blade of her agate knife she carefully twists the screws to pop out the back without any damage incurred to the item. A somber expression on her tanned, freckled face she slips the mask out of the back before putting it back together, just as she found it, a show of respect to the Curator's exhibit. The marking is not lost on her, her shoulders tense but she remains silent in the exchange, but a small frown of concern takes her features while her eyes falling on Ravina to decide.
Once released from her paralysis, Ravina sinks to her knees, her expression contorted with agony, arms wrapped tightly about her shoulders, and she lets out a pained sound from the back of her throat. A brief glance is spared to Alicia, jade eyes a little glazed over from the lingering effects of what the Curator had done. "I do not expect anyone to understand. He is my Sire. He is everything. I have to protect.." she begins, her voice low, soft, head shaking lightly from side to side in obvious frustration. Looking back up to the Curator then, then further to try and look at the burned sigil upon her forehead, though can't see much of anything. "I accept."
"Believe me, I get it," Alicia counters to Ravina. "This child is all I have to protect, and I'd do - anything- to see it live, even things I'd otherwise never, ever even consider." When the woman accepts, however, she bows her head to the silver-eyed man and murmurs softly, "Thank you," with sincerity that goes beyond simple gratitude, despite the strain of the situation.
Patting the ebonette on the head, the Curator praises Ravina, "A wise choice. And now you get to leave with the mask for you Director. And you will learn much, and then when he is done with it, it will come back, and in a year and a day, your apprenticeship will be done." As Harper withdraws the bronze relic from the radio cabinet, a strange, nearly inaudible humming fills the ears of those attuned to the arcane. "Be careful with it, or Yelena and I will personally murder you all, and your Director. We need that, but if you have good use for it now...it is a loan." Afterwards, he sits down on the armchair, a bright smile given to the portrait of Stalin. "And now, you go home. And I go to bed, for it is far past an old man's bedtime...but I will be in touch, I assure you."