Blood Traitor Truce


odessa4_icon.gif valentin_icon.gif

Scene Title Blood Traitor Truce
Synopsis The two soldiers of flexible allegiance in the war of Us vs. Them band together longer than they expected to.
Date February 20, 2011

On a Boat to Red Hook

From the cabin, they can hear someone on the phone, and Odessa Price could swear that they're talking to an official, some authority, one that's guaranteeing them a safe passage on the river. Michal Valentin is not giving it any thought nor mind, his features gone waxen from the pain of two shots, which the tablets of painkiller had only partially numbed, like gauzy curtains over bright sunlight. His body armor is discarded on the floor of the cabin— he'd sworn over the neat bullet hole in the fabricy bridge between plates, and demanded a drink in Czech— and through small, high windows, a tepid afternoon pokes fingers of sunlight in.

A journey through the sewer pipes brought them to the waterfront, and a boat lay waiting to take them south, one that refused to wait for Valentin to stop bleeding to make its voyage. Its crewmembers fresh faced and fresh clothed, not insiders. Maybe not even Humanis First, just hired.

Red saturates a pant leg, enough blood to soak the soak in his boot through. The cabin is quick to smell like an emergency room without the chemicals, just an undercurrent of sewer from their trek.

Odessa looks better from the standpoint of the fact that she hasn't gone much paler. She's still a gruesome sight to behold herself, however. She's covered in her own blood now. Her hair is plastered to her face for all that its usual snowiness has been made the colour of a candy apple. And just as tacky.

If Eric Doyle's aim had been any better, or if she had been a split second later in pulling her grasp on time…

"I should have made sure I had my bag," the young doctor murmurs as she carefully peels away clothing from skin to assess her companion's wounds. The one on her head is left to throb and to bleed for now. It will wait.

Her lips set in a grim line, and Odessa looks up to Valentin's face. Then, she starts rummaging through the meager first aid kit she was given access to. "I'll dig out the bullets when… When we get to the safehouse. For now, just…" Heavy gauze and tape are procured from the kit, meant to staunch the flow of blood for now. "Lie still." Concern flits on her features, but no real fear. For his sake. Or maybe she's just too numb, or too inhuman to feel that way anymore. It depends on who you ask.

"I can put you in stasis until we arrive, if… you wanted." Though she tries to offer a quick smile of reassurance, it's very much as if she already expects to have the offer summarily rejected.

For all that Valentin is a master at his own responses, pain shatters this some enough for his lips to curl back from his teeth and bare pearly whites in obvious disdain for any such thing to transpire. Thick Czech is murmured, not close enough to Russian nor pronounced enough for Odessa to understand, head tipping back against the plush pillowy seating on which he lies. "There are better supplies, where we go. Blood and morphine. We had more negation canisters and Refrain than pharmaceuticals and amphodynamine."

There are a select few people in the world who can say 'amphodynamine' when shot twice and ESL.

"They will not welcome you for long."

"I make my own time," Odessa reminds him gently, setting about dressing the man's wounds so that there's no doubt in her mind that he'll survive the trip to Brooklyn. "I'm not here for them."

She isn't sure why she's here at all, after what she's sure was some sort of slur directed at her. "I made you a promise. When I'm sure I won't be mourning you, then I'll go." Odessa doesn't look up from her work, mismatched eyes focused on her task. She doesn't realise that her the slow ebb from her own wound has made its way down her the left side of her face, where it sticks to dark lashes and gathers in the corners of her ruined eye.

When she blinks, it gives the illusion that she's weeping blood. "I'm sorry."

"Apologies," is murmured, more to himself, an arm coming to rest over his face, eyes covered, bridge of his nose settled comfortable into the crook of his elbow. He doesn't say much for the time it takes for her to wrap his injuries, snowy white thick over where that bullet had slid into his side like a mean knife, then tighter on his thigh, leg hair tacked down with blood, knee a bruised, swollen knob at the bend of his leg.

His arm shifts, Valentin sending a look down to her careful hands, his other tricking over where bandaging tapes to his side. Slate-blues glance for the red tracking down her face. "Why?"

Quiet minutes devoted to concentration on her patient leaves Odessa momentarily forgetful of the original root of the question. Though she isn't blessed with the ability to rewind and replay events, her memory is still intact enough, in the face of shock she's not allowing to fully grip at her.

"Among other things, for my hesitation. My attempt to reason, resulting in our injuries." Odessa wipes the blood from her hands on the sleeves of her coat for lack of anything better to do with them. Her fingers twitch restlessly without something to occupy them. So she reaches up to wipe away reflexive tears, and comes away with blood. There's an initial recoil, a whispered curse in French, until she determines (albeit only in a tactile examination) she hasn't somehow reinjured her eye.

A hiss accompanies the way nails dig through matted hair to gingerly press the pads of fingers to the gash in her scalp. She'll need stitches. There may even be a scar to add to her collection. But her skull, so far as she can tell - mostly by the lack of blinding pain and meatier bits to be found by probing digits - remains intact. An important detail. "I fear I have made a mistake.

"Would you have had me use my ability to our full advantage, or resented me for it?" Dark cobalt and bloodied scar tissue flit up briefly. He doesn't have to have read her dossier (but maybe he has once, some time ago) to recognise that she craves his approval. Valentin's a good enough judge of character, good at understanding how people think, to see through Odessa in that way.

Valentin's hand seeks the back of the seating he lies upon, levering himself up in a tense curl — difficult, trying to favour the mess of pain on his left side, keeping those muscles slack and using his arms, an elbow against the plush beneath him. He will turn back hands to usher him to lie down, even if movement can trigger bleeding, but Odessa can probably recognise that he works to prevent this as his second motivation over getting himself up to sit. He reclines into the wall, a hand gripping near bandaged leg.

Pants can come next. After. Maybe never, until the bullet is out, it's not that cold. "I appreciate my ability and the ability of my men over yours," he admits, his voice skating light over syllables. "But I do not appreciate grand gestures to preserve my pride either. So let us leave it with the simple notions that I am alive, you are alive.

"And Pitt is on his way to death. I would not be so surprised that he survive. Our JJ friend was not alone."

"I'll keep that in mind when I'm pulling the slugs out of you," Odessa murmurs gently in response to protecting his pride, in spite of the frown creasing her features as he sits up. She follows suit after a moment, sitting down heavily and looking unwell. Whether it's from the loss of blood, the stress on her ability, or being on the water is up for debate.

The woman's head tilts forward as though it weighs too much to be held up so straight, the unbecoming slouch of her shoulders drawing a wince as healing stitches across her back pull uncomfortably. "They'll want a report. The Institute, and the DoEA." What should I say? hangs unspoken in the air between them.

"You may tell them you made contact with Michal Valentin."

His arms fold over his knee, the one without the injury attacked to it, silvered head down. Sweat sticks strands to the nape of his neck. "That is, if only the higher of authorities ask. They will know me as a former Company agent. The ones that matter will know my extra-curricular activities. Does not matter. You may tell them you assisted in trying to take Malcolm Pitt back for the Institute— or the Department, whoever you prefer to impress— as the terrorists had destroyed the retrievers they sent out.

"Also you fended off the efforts of rebelling Humanis First who attempted to kill Pitt before he could properly apprehended, but we were outnumbered, between them and the Evolved. They should believe you, and perhaps it will give me some time also, if ever I need it."

There's that sliver of a grin again as Odessa listens. Her head tilts to one side slightly to signify he has her attention. She nods. It's a good story. True enough when details and motivations are left vague.

"Whose side are you on, Michal?" There's an appreciativeness to it, tone sly in spite of weariness. "You don't strike me as quite so…" Self-serving? Bloody fingers splay out in front of her, lack of words leaving the connotation up to him.

Now Valentin pulls denim over bandaging and the wounds beneath — he's walked around with worse than two pieces of metal floating around inside, and he's no longer dying for all that his face remains drained of blood. "I am on the side that guarantees the survival of my kind. Sometimes this is a thing not so clear cut as genetics, but ah, it helps. And the government is fragile." His r's roll like they spin down velvety hills. "It will turn to the direction of the blowing wind, no matter how many of them for now believe that human is first."

Zip, flick. Fly and belt secured, ignoring the stiff, blood-soaked fabric that clings to his thigh. The waters have changed from bordering Queens, to hugging Brooklyn.

"That makes you smarter, wiser than them." There's a false start that sends Odessa tumbling in an awkward heap of limbs back into her seat when she attempts to push to her feet again. She doesn't bury the cry of pain in a stolen moment.

She removes her shoes, hooking fingers into their backs and tries again. Much more success. It brings out a frown. Four inches shorter accounts for the sudden feeling of so much smallness. The feeling of being suddenly exposed is to be blamed on something else entirely. "Neither side should wipe out the other, like your Humanis First would like. Co-existence is important. You agree? Survival doesn't mean annihilation of your opponent." But it helps.

Odessa's gaze drops to the darkened pant leg, her lips part around a simplified admission. "What I mean to ask is for a truce. I have enjoyed standing at your side. I haven't felt this alive in years." Slowly, her gaze roams upward, until she can force herself to meet his. "Next time, we don't get perforated. I use less thread."

She watches his face for tells, insight into his thoughts. In all her doe eyed vulnerability, (blood and scars not withstanding,) she's still very much aware and treats Michal Valentin like a wounded animal that could lash out at any moment. Lest Odessa Price lose the outstretched hand bearing the olive branch.

He's best at impassive, and that's what Odessa reads. Given time to get used to his own injury, and not needing to do much other than sit, Valentin allows her to read only the lazy hood of his eyes, the bland upturn to the corner of his mouth that suggests smile, and the general inoffensiveness of encroaching age lines, grey at his temples. The same expression when she'd stumbled on the dismount, when he'd first seen the streak of red cut into her scalp.

Breathes in sharp through his nose, then pats himself down until he can find a cigar in his pocket, a slender item, brown like bark, set between his teeth. It's lit with matches, nursed into embering, the last of his small supply until the Dome came down. He'd been saving it.

"You and I," he says, words a little furtherly warped in effort to keep cigar steady, until he takes it back with a hand, "may have a truce. We will dock at Red Hook momentarily, and step out onto the deck. You will use the ability you have to your full advantage. I cannot be held responsible with what happens if you choose not to."

She smiles at that, if only to temper the fear that she may falter. He can see it in her eyes, if he's looking for it. Odessa expects he is. "And what will you report to your superiors of me after I've escaped? I suspect your assessment of me will be most unflattering." She watches the end of his cigar. Her kingdom for one of those cigarettes Doctor Sheridan has prescribed for her.

"Poor, naive little Odessa from Odessa." There's perhaps a hint of bitterness there, but also humour, even if it is largely at her own expense. "Perhaps if we should come down on the opposite sides of this conflict again, we maybe don't attempt to kill each other unless absolutely necessary?"

Cigar smoke is treated differently, its poison treasured, lingered upon. Different to the thinner stuff of cigarettes, or even pot, but it's quick to create a haze in the room on the next liesurely exhale, the hearth-bottom end of it dimming in neglect. Valentin's eyes briefly twinkle, mouth going crooked. "I don't have superiors. Anymore. And I work hard to not be something that is necessary to exterminate."

His hand goes out, then, bidding her to help him up.

Maybe he can then help her stand, in a sort of cancel out effect not dissimilar to the deal she proposes. The boat has stopped, as far as the water beneath it doesn't stop.

Hands are wiped again over red wool. She comes away from one pocket with wet fingertips, black liquid having seeped through the fabric. Odessa stares at her hands with absolute disappointment.

The Amphodynamine.

Fate? Or bad luck? Another attempt has her hands dry again as she reaches out with both to take the one Valentin offers out. "Now I truly am jealous. A lack of superiors. Then think of me fondly?" Odessa's smile is shortlived as she gently tugs upward, careful then about his injuries. And prepared to loop an arm around his waist to support him as he intends to support her.

The sight of the wasted amp drug has Valentin's eyebrow quirking up, but he doesn't speak on it, shifting to perch on the edge of the seating, bracing himself. An inwards hiss, a grimace that's like a grin, but Valentin is on his feet. He keeps his injured leg between them, a useless rudder, and stapled her in close to him to guide the way as they make for the door, batted open with a blood-sticky hand. The air blows cold over the deck, and they go ignored, headed for the gangplank.

Mostly ignored. Valentin is sharply aware of the slices of stares sent their way, the ones that prickle Odessa's skin. Towards the north, the sky is clear of forcefield, of smoke and even rising dust, the dampening effects of ice. The air smells fresh.

A pistol goes off, a rocket-sound beneath the bang, and pierces its projectile through her back, out her shoulder, just above the drape of Valentin's arm. She feels him flinch away and draw his own pistol just as something silver arcs through the air. He fires, and for all that he'd said that he firearms skills lack compared to his expertise in demolitions, the negation canister goes spinning off to dunk into the grey river, misdirected, trailing only a wisp of yellow.

She's bound to have bad feelings being surrounded by men who find her a rival species. Despite stitches in her back and blood oozing still from her head leaving her unsteady on her feet telling her otherwise, Odessa Price still holds tightly to this misconception that she is somehow untouchable.

And then she learns that the speed of sound is not the right way to judge when she actually needs to stop time. Though, Odessa watches the bullet and droplets of her own blood suspended in midair as they're ejected from her shoulder for a long moment that's only hers. Her shoes slip from her fingers and hit the ground with a sound that's like thunder in her ears. This is how she imagined it playing out a thousand times in nightmares (sometimes dreams, in comparison to her reality), replacing with live ammo the tranquiliser dart that struck her outside of a bank in Iowa. Wishing in sleep that it had been a bullet in the back, and that she would have died, rather than continuing to wake up in prison.

Pain makes stars in Odessa's vision, drops her back to reality. She's never been properly shot before. She always imagined her first thoughts would be relevant medical concerns.

In reality, Odessa's only thoughts are about how badly it hurts. She hits the deck like a lead weight, all bruised knees and bloody smears from head and shoulder. She's torn for a moment, between huddling up so small against Valentin's legs as if he alone could protect her from the mob, and fleeing.

What happens instead is adrenaline shows its support made manifest as a frantic grab for the hem of her skirt, and the knife strapped to her leg. Nobody sees her get to her feet, but they hear the furious shriek echo as one moment she's prone, and the next she got the man who shot her pinned down by her weight on his shoulders, her knife driving repeatedly into his face in still shots as her ability cuts in and out, allowing glimpses of the retaliation in progress. Her injured arm is tucked in uselessly at her side.

So many frames missing, resulting in so much blood spilt on the deck.

She doesn't linger over the corpse, inviting further gunfire. She's moving on to the next nearest man to indulge in the quick and easy (and less hate-fuelled) method of drawing a second smile in blood across his throat. The intent is to rinse, and repeat the lather of blood on her hands. If not for the way that pain makes dark the edges of her vision, and causes her to flit back into view every few seconds.

Full advantage impaired.

Scurrying across the deck in stocking feet, slipping in blood, she pulls Valentin with her in her sidestep out of time with the backs of her knuckles, white still around the grip of her knife, pressed to his arm. "Michal! We need to go!"

A second gunshot perforates the hip of another man, the terrorist in mid-crumple by the time time has frozen, the awkward bend of his leg, the red in the air, and the wisp of smoke from the barrel of his gun. Valentin's gun remains raised for a good few seconds before it's holstered again, and he bends to pick up dropped cigar despite the screaming protest of injury and the drag of Odessa's pull onto the pier.

No one escapes unscathed, but that doesn't mean no one escapes. Time flows for them again, finding blood on the deck and the inability of traitors to call someone traitor.

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