Brothers In Arms


elias_icon.gif amato_icon.gif

Scene Title Brothers in Arms
Synopsis Elias spirits Amato away to test his brother's mettle
Date January 9, 2009

Somewhere in the World - Abandoned Elevator

To call this winter 'rough' is a grand understatement. It's certainly a grand understatement for the members of Vanguard, for some of them, at any rate. Elias is one of them, and he's not only had enough, but he intends to do something about it. It's not everyday, or any day, really, that he finds himself appearing from thin air in Amato Salucci's apartment, just inside the front door. Curiously, he carries in his left hand a small, electric lantern, but perhaps more curiously, he knocks on the door with his right, despite being inside already. To make sure he's heard, seemingly, he even lets out a short whistle. "Hey, Godboy." He's dressed less warmly than he might otherwise be, but still is ready for cold weather. "You in?"

Amato is, indeed, in - a fact that Elias soon becomes aware of. Amato steps out of the open doorway to the bedroom, dressed in a pair of boxers and a robe, which he is still tying on. It seems he was making an early night of it, perhaps in an effort to beat the cold by conserving heat.

"What's happened, Elias?" because surely there is some urgent reason why Amato's apartment has been so impolitely invaded. "Why are you here?"

"Something's about to happen," Elias replies. Before anything else can happen however, he's teleported again, this time across the room to where Amato stands. Quickly throwing his hand out, he seizes Amato by the wrist and in the blink of an eye, both of them have been transported somewhere else. Some colder than Amato's apartment, somewhere dark and, if the Italian tries to move around, somewhere much, much smaller.

After a moment, Elias' electric lantern turns on, casting a pale blue light over their surroundings with a low hum. Wherever they are, it's a box. No more than seven feet deep, wide and tall, with a pair of doors to one side that make it resemble very strongly the interior of an elevator car.

Teleportation is never an easy experience, especially for those who are not practiced at it. Amato is one of those people. and so once he has his bearings again, or as much of them as can be had, he jerks his wrist away from Elias and looks about, his eyes wide and slightly fearful.

Any other, normal man might sputter off a stream of obscenities, but Amato merely fills the stuffy air of the dark car with heavy and hurried breaths before he is able to steady himself enough to speak. "Elias," he begins, his tone hesitant and edged with a wary warning, "where are we?"

"Unusable elevator, somewhere in the world," the teleporter replies, "The Proving Grounds, if you'd prefer." Proving for what, Elias does not mention, not immediately. "Don't bother trying to open the doors. They won't lead you anywhere. You may as well get a grip, and control your breathing before you start using up all the air." Whether or not that's a serious concern is likewise ambiguous. But definite or not, Elias is dead serious about the situation.

Luckily for Amato, he knows two things. The first of which is to never doubt a man like Elias when that tone is invoked, and the second is that Elias is not the sort of man who does the sort of work that would require burying a man like Amato alive in a tomb-like, abandoned elevator shaft. But then again, Amato has been recently handed work that did not fit his normal job description.

It takes him a moment more to truly settle, but even then Amato regards Elias with a suspicious expression, his eyes narrowing both with it and the need to squint at that light.

As Amato settles into a state of calm, Elias maintains one. Amato stares, and Elias stares back. But after several moments of silence, he finally breaks it. "Good."

After another moment to shift into a more relaxed position, leaning against the elevator wall with his arms folded across his chest, Elias continues his speech. "I'm going to ask you a question," he says, "There are only two answers to it. You answer one way, you find yourself back in your apartment, and it'd be in your best interest to forget you ever saw me today. You answer the other way… well, we'll see." The fact that he says the last bit only after twisting his mouth, ever so slightly, into a grin, may not bode well.

"Get to the point." Amato is terse and stiff, though he might be a bit more authoritative if he were in a suit rather than a bathrobe and boxers. Though let it not be assumed that Aamto's voice doesn't do the trick well enough on its own.

When Elias speaks, it is certainly to the point. He says only a single sentence. "A few days ago, one of Volken's underlings tried to kill Eileen when she was alone, outmatched and completely unarmed. Orders are orders, and all that." He conveniently leaves out the fact that the underling in question was given different orders and preferred not to follow them. It doesn't matter to him, at this point. All that matters is Amato's reaction.

There is much in the way a man choses his words, and while Amato's own diction has already been revealed to be the method of this test, as it clearly is a test, Elias's wording tells much more than what he actually says or may mean to say. But Amato listens with as still a face as he has ever worn when news of Eileen in danger has been delivered to him - that is, the rigid mask of professionalism visibly cracks, revealing not only the faint lines of desperate concern beneath the fissures but also the man's at times feeble attempts to hold the damned thing in place. The only solace he can find he does so by staring into the darkness where his feet ought to be rather than Elias' lighted face.

"When you say try, I trust you mean he did not succeed?" is all Amato can think to say, but part of him prays it is enough that the other man does not chose the second, more mysterious option in regards to his fate.

Elias is not a mentalist, not by a long shot. But he knows enough about other people to hazard educated guesses about their behavior. Amato's question by itself may have been telling, but the fact that he asks while avoiding Elias' gaze tells even more. "She's alive," he says, "And quite well, thanks to Doctor Knutson and, associate of mine. But that doesn't change the fact, does it?

"Doesn't change the fact that now, obviously, Eileen's a liability to Volken. His toadie fucked up the job, sure. So who's next? Maybe he'll ask me to go out and bring her in. Maybe Ethan, or Sylar. Or maybe, maybe you'd be his choice to go out there, clip the little bird's wings. How's that grab you?"

"I volunteered," Amato says quietly, like an admittance to a friend more than as a tortured subject of a rebellion. His eyes remain downcast, but it defeats his mask-retaining purpose. With the mental illusion that Elias cannot see his face, the cracks in it widen and more of the rake-thin man's torment is revealed. "How well do you know your Bible, Elias?"

"I know the Bible makes a pretty good bookend," the teleporter replies casually, "Never had a use for it otherwise, not that it matters. How well do you know it? Got some bit that applies to this situation? Enlighten me." As he says this, Elias unfolds his arms. He's fast, sure. In hand-to-hand, he's willing to bet he's faster than Amato. Maybe even faster than Wu-Long and Ethan. But in this small space, there's no room to goof off. If Amato's going to take a swing at him, he needs to be at least halfway ready for it.

Usually with such prefaces, Amato is ready with a verse. This time, however, he falters. "I do not. I am sure there is one, but I cannot bring it to mind. Only the dogma that men have construed from it. There are arguably verses to support either end of this…and so perhaps none should be said." Babbling is the sign of an uncomfortable fool. As if Amato has caught himself, he pauses for a moment.

"There are no safe places left in this world. It is about to be torn asunder. The mark of a wordly man is concern for the perishable over concern for the eternal - and so I damn myself in wishing her a haven in all that is to come."

"What are you saying, Salucci?" For whatever reason, Elias seems insistent, unusually insistent, on addressing Amato by his last name rather than his first as he so often did in the past. "You saying that if your choice comes down between loyalty to Volken, and loyalty to the little bird, you'll unlock the cage while the window is opened? That what you're saying?"

What is Amato saying? Of all of Kazimir Volken's flock, Amato is among the oldest and most faithful, one of the closest to the dragon's breast. At what cost did such a position come? Amato slowly lifts his eyes, which are pale even in the dull light, and reminiscent of their - his? - master's own. But there is a sheen to them, laid to bear by the damaged facade he continues to cling to for his own safety, among other reasons.

"I am saying that there is no worse fate in hell than that that awaits the betrayer." Something catches in Amato's throat, making him verbally stumble for a moment. "But what is a world cleansed of sin if it cannot be tended by those who tilled its soil, at least until promising seeds have sprouted?"

Elias considers this for a moment. A long moment. After several moments with a flat, unchanging expression, he ceases to lean against the elevator wall and pulls himself up to his full height, putting him nearly on even ground with Amato. And, perhaps unexpectedly, he extends his hand towards the other man as if to… shake? The only explanation offered are two, simple words: "You're hired."

Of all the retorts or replies Elias could have said, that is the last one Amato expected. He double-takes, his own gaze having drifted back to the darkness in the moment the other man takes to consider. He stares at the hand, then back up at the American's face. "You'll forgive me if I abstain from the traditional gesture? I'd hate to catch a glimpse of the last strumpet who found less than rest in your bed."

Despite this, Elias does not retract his hand, not yet. "Just as well you don't shake it anyway, not until you know exactly what you're being hired into," the teleporter says firmly, authoritatively. If this is going to work, on any level, there can be no question who the alpha is. "Eileen lived, but only barely. If she'd be just a little slower, if Sylar hadn't found her bleeding in the gutter, if Miss Beauchamp did not have it in her heart to forgive the things we've done to her, Eileen would be dead. How long until it's one of us? How long until Volken picks and chooses who lives and who dies, who is saved as who is damned, as if he were God Almighty?

"Without victory, there will never be peace. And as long as Volken draws breath, there will never be victory. Do you understand, what I am telling you?"

Amato shakes his head, but he doesn't say, "No." Instead, he asks a question of his own.

"Do you understand who he is?"

Without even a beat of hesitation, Elias gives his reply. "He is the enemy, and he will not stop until he has destroyed everything that you know and love. Eileen is alive, but we can't keep her safe forever, not while he's alive. I will kill him, Amato-" The name is almost spat- "It's not a matter of betrayal or loyalty. It's a matter of survival. I will kill him and I will/ survive. But unless I have help, //your help… I don't know if I can protect Eileen from him. Without your help… I don't know if there will be anyone left to protect.

"Shake if you're in, but only if you're in. Use your sleeve, if you can't control it. But only, if you'll help me. If you will accept me as the leader of this insurrection, if you will follow my plans and orders and do exactly what I require you to in order to protect Eileen, and anyone and anything else you care about, shake."

To emphasize not only the urgency of the matter, but also his own hope of Amato's response, Elias holds his hand out just a bit further.

Rather than look at Elias' hand again, Amato keeps his eyes locked with the teleporter's as he shakes his arm, letting the thin fabric loosen around his lanky arm.

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

A shake of the arm is good enough for Elias. "Point of no return, friend," he says, once again adopting a small grin, "Whatever happens, there is no going back. You still work for Volken. Make sure that is exactly what everyone else thinks. In one day, I'll contact you with instructions.

"The lowest circle of hell may be reserved for betrayers, but damned if I'll let you or anyone else go there alone." They're in this together, until the bitterest end. Now, and forever, brothers in arms.

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