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Scene Title Pestilence
Synopsis And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
Date October 24, 2008

Calvary Cemetery

The Revelation of St. John the Divine is a specific passage of the bible that holds a very blurred meaning. Many times, Amato Salluci had quoted these lines of scripture in Kazimir Volken's confidence. The interpretations of the lines, and the very nature of the four horsemen represented therein is left up to the perceptions of who reads the texts. In particular, there is a line quoted of one of the Four Horsemen, the first to march forth in the texts.

The horseman, while often seen as a representation of pestilence, can be viewed both as an evil and righteous thing. Straddling a gray area of morality often seen in biblical subtexts. It is, perhaps, by no small coincidence that this particular scripture of Amato's reciting clings to the back of Kazimir Volken's as of late. A white horse come to conquer and spread disease; but is it a disease born of evil intent, or righteous cleansing?

Amato would believe the latter.

To this train of thought, one not common to the more literary-minded commander of the Vanguard, Kazimir has found his way apart from the security and safety of Eagle Electric, thorugh the winding urban decay of Queens, and to a place where flesh comes to decay, a place where there is no future, only echoes of the past. It is a place that represents the very essence of Kazimir Volken; past and present — Calbary Cemetary.

Amid the headstones, Kazimir's footfalls and the brush of his cane's steel tip go unheard, save for the soft crunch of browned grass underfoot. The chill of the late October air, espescially at night, is lost on his deadened senses. For far too long he has clung to this withering and aging body, the notion of physical sensation has become something blunted and muted, like the color gray. A muddy and indistinct blur between light and dark, between pain and pleasure.

But Kazimir isn't here to mull over the religious implications of Amato's ramblings, or even consider his own self-importance and symbolism. He is here for something far more tangible, and something far more important: Information.

Amidst the headstones Kazimir's soft, blue eyes wander, looking not for a name ethed in memorium on stone, but rather someone living. Someone who sees the future in a blurred haze of potential possibilities, someone who may be able to find respite from the future in a place where there is none. Perhaps here, perhaps now, she can fulfill her promise to him.

The act of looking for her is, sometimes, enough to bring someone to Tamara's attention. The fabric of possibilities is endlessly mutable, warping and transforming with each thought and action; the wrinkles that rise to the surface are a roadmap she navigates by instinct and innate understanding, the simple fact that Tamara lives that chaos and change, having made it a part of her own self.

She doesn't make Kazimir wander for long; that would sour his mood further still, and Tamara is well aware she's not easy to deal with. Not when the repercussions of a moment's indulgence in lucidity are still settling. To her, that act is less than a memory; lost. Not forgotten, merely lost, but the result is the same; she meets Kazimir with a juxtaposition of familiarity and detachment, wisdom and ignorant naivete.

"The dead walk, but it's the living who are restless," says the girl who leans against a tombstone, unperturbed by the superstitions inherent in a cemetery atmosphere. Her voice is light, conversational; she watches Kazimir approach with the sedate aplomb of one who knows exactly how much danger she isn't in, head tilted to one side. She wears a red long-sleeved blouse and dark blue jeans, both of them either well-worn or (knowing Tamara) secondhand acquisitions.

Stopping at the sound of her voice, Kazimir turns his head to regard her with a more full view than peripheral. His blue eyes settle on her for a time, recalling the opportunity lost once before in his own haste and frustration. Gently, he raises his cane and tucks it beneath one arm, allowing him to tug on the cuffs of both of his black leather gloves, ensuring they're comfortably worn. "Apprioriate choice of words," he notes with a rough, rumbling voice, but it is one that seems far more sedate than last they met.

"I've come to take advantage of our arrangement, and close our our deal." The cane is grasped once again, removed from under his arm and used to steady his posture as he makes a slow approach towards the young girl. "Your detective is alive, and now it is time for you to fulfill your end of our arrangement. I presume by even allowing me to find you, there is some measure of agreement?" Kazimir's head cants to the side, letting one gray brow raise as he surveys the girl. What does she see? How does she see it? There's so much curiosity behind those powder blue eyes.

A slow smile pulls at Tamara's lips when Kazimir speaks his arrogant statements — as if time ebbs and flows at his command. He's been reminded once already that such isn't the case. The girl, however, says nothing; the words are of no moment. Not these ones.

She straightens, the evening's bitter breeze plucking with icy fingers at hair and cloth, its touch completely ignored. "Two lefts don't make a right. Just like two rights don't make a left. They're completely different ends of the magnet." Tamara hops down from the little raised berm around the tombstone — all of three or four inches, but it can still be made a hop, feet thudding damply on the grass. "Looking upriver shows only what's gone. The river's a slippery thing; if you don't keep an eye on it, someone will pull all the shadows out from under you. Rocks are only good for standing still."

Kazimir's eyes follow Tamara as she hops dowm from by the headstone, but he doesn't shift his posture at all, merely follows her movement with his eyes. Otherwise, the old man is but a gargoylish feature of the cemetary now, like some stone monument to a forgotten life. In the pale light of the moon, the old man's pitted and weathered face looks just as stony, giving him some credible appearance to that description. But as Tamara speaks, Kazimir grumbles quietly, and the thumb of his right hand brushes across the narrow gouge in the wolf's head of his cane. "Your riddles aren't the answers I'm seeking. Can you do what I want of you?" His eyes narrow slightly, he's always been wary, if not on edge around those who can see the future, can predict him and throw to ruin all his best-laid plans. "Tell me how to bring about the end," she's heard him voice this question in so many possible futures, "of all those like us. Eternally."

Folding her arms across her chest, Tamara looks over at Kazimir. Her expression is exasperated, the sort of regard given to someone who knows better. His stony visage fails to intimidate; not here, and not now. "Your ears work just fine. It's the headlong rush that needs fixing." Chiding words that are better suited to an aged matron than a teenaged child. Whether it's a case of 'cannot' or 'will not', Kazimir isn't going to get what he wants — but then, that isn't the same as what he needs.

Blue eyes shift from looking at Kazimir to looking past Kazimir, suddenly dark even in the evening's relative lack of light. Her voice detached, distant; bereft of passion, care, even the innocence of Tamara's frequently childish demeanor. "She hasn't realized it, but she came. Sooner or later; the shadows are almost certain." What is perhaps most clear is that the precog isn't, even obliquely, speaking about herself.

Tamara's regard returns to the life-stealer, but fails to truly focus on him; her awareness is still elsewhere, elsewhen. "The grass is always greener, even when it's brown. Running ahead finds only the river moving, but some people never realize it's left them behind."

Kazimir listens, intently, though the girl's tone and her worse cause him to bristle. It's something he has to make a conscious effort to not act out on. There's few people, few things that cause him to lose patience so, and children — percieved or otherwise — are among them. When Tamara's eyes unfocus, when her pupils dilate to those wide and black saucers he eases some, recalling the expression on her face from previous encounters. But what she says, to him, holds a confounding value. She? The notion is maddening in its ambiguity; the few female officers he has, all of the possibilities. Would he have to call on all of them to find what he needs? Would it be Dina, would she need to be recalled from Europe? Sierra, she's already here and too focused on her brother. Perhaps he's the key? There's too many variables.

"How will I know this woman? Who is she?" He has to ask, to persist, to push against the oblique references and the ambiguous choices of wording and symbolism. It's worse than mere flowery speech, it's words so ornately decorated in imagery they've lost meaning to him.

He can bristle all he wants; he can't hurt Tamara. Not yet. Not until he has his information. After that? Is a matter of shadows. As he speaks, she focuses on him, tipping her head to one side, a fey clarity to her gaze. I see you. I know you. Unsettling regard, for one who hoards secrets. "A guest. A gift." Not one of yours; a stranger, an outsider, someone not Vanguard. But a gift… to whom? "Abandoning the company of friends for the fellowship of the unknown. A stone washed loose, set to wander. Find a place it fits, Kazimir. Find a place to keep it, and the answers come to hand." Maybe not easily; such things rarely are. But the recipe is that simple.

Rolling his tongue on the inside of his cheek, Kazimir levels his eyes on the girl, one so brave and unflinching. What other secrets could she know, ones he has no way of finding. He hates how she has him at a disadvantage, she knows, she sees, and she has a perspective set up higher than Kazimir, so she can see further down the winding road ahead. Or, as she would put it, the river.

"A guest, and a gift." He echoes her sentiments, helpless to the seer's whim, like MacBeth meeting with the Three Witches. "The insane root, that takes the reason prisoner." The quote seems appropriate, given his counsul, "Is this the extent of what you have to share with me, seer?" It was as much as Kazimir did for Judah, an indirect and perhaps even unintentional sparing of his life. He has, in truth, recieved as much effort as he has given.

Maybe it is, as the darkness leeches from Tamara's gaze, blue meeting blue. She knows what Kazimir could say — that the balance on both sides is equal; a sybil's murky prophecy in exchange for the stayed hand that spared a life circumstance probably wouldn't have taken anyway. That's the gist of it, and if he reckons it even, so it is. But despite her return to the present moment, Tamara's eyes remain clear; by that, she isn't necessarily finished. "You can walk away." Call it even. Take what you know and work from it. Or… receive the answer to that question. A debt owed in the other direction.

Her mannerisms are baffling, and her intentions even more so.For a man who prefers to understand his opponents and manipulate them, this young woman who is the manipulator digs under his skin and peels back every layer of insecurity that no other can seem to find. Kazimir tilts his head to one side, eyes drifting up and down the young girl in silent thought. He considers his words carefully, even if the offer causes his mouth to almost vocalize an immediate response. It is held back, recalculated, refined, and then finally spoken. "What, my dear, would that cost me?" There's always a cost.

Trying to manipulate Tamara is like attempting to catch the wind in one's fingers — when taking the time to build a sail means losing it entirely. She gives Kazimir that time to think, to analyze, to consider. She has far more time than he, despite the fact that he could take her life at any moment. It's just one of those contradictions she seems to carry around.

"To walk away? Less, perhaps, than to ask — but…" Tamara spreads her hands; maybe, maybe not. "The price of silence is ignorance. Less easy to corner a ferret without the words to shape its direction. You have a hook, now; but the empty hook doesn't always catch fish." She offers Kazimir the choice — take his chances, or owe the precog an unpaid obligation. Which does Kazimir fear more?

In the end it's a coin-toss, seeing how this girl acts there's no telling which side it would land on. Knowing her, it would balance precariously on its edge. Kazimir's lips press together to form a thin line, and his brows lower, a look of mild frustration that is slow to ease. Tamara girl is like a book in a foreign language, all the information is there to be accessed, but understanding it is a difficult prospect that takes time and effort.

"Give me the bait, then." Kazimir asks smoothly, taking the risk and all it entails. He wants to think he can outsmart her, outwit her somehow, and as a myriad of ideas play out in his head, no doubt the outcomes of those are already predetermined because the opponent he plays against is five, ten, a hundred steps ahead of him. It's infuriating. "I'll oblige your terms."

She lets him balance, lets him waver, lets him topple. And in the end, when Kazimir accedes to the pressure, there is no smile, no nod, no gesture or expression that in any way suggests Tamara has 'succeeded' or 'won'. Nothing to indicate that he's playing into her hands or otherwise at the precog's mercy. The girl just takes his decision in stride.

Perhaps it was predetermined, for all Kazimir can tell.

"I won't ask anything… difficult," Tamara says; and now, she smiles, just a little. A promise — she won't do anything senseless like ask Kazimir to abandon his plans for mass extermination of the Evolved. It'd be less than futile, and Tamara doesn't engage in futility. On the other hand… "But when I do ask…" Her voice trails off, because the words don't need to be spoken. They hang in the air anyway; You will do.

A moment's pause, a moment's silence; then she inclines her head to Kazimir, taking a step back towards the nighttime darkness. "Ask her about Shanti," the precog says, words spoken softly but clearly.

"Ask her about the virus."

October 24th: Proposition
Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

October 24th: Like Father, Like Son
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