Dobro Pozhalovat


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Scene Title Dobro Pozhalovat
Synopsis It's how you say welcome in Russian. Teodoro, Abigail, Catherine and Francois arrive in Moscow where they are greeted by a taciturn escort, united with Ethan and Elisabeth, and ferried to the nearest train station for the next leg of their journey.
Date November 22, 2009

Moscow, Russia

The sky is still dark when the twin-engine airliner sets down in Moscow outside Sheremetyevo International Airport. It's a nine hour flight from New York City to Russia's capital city, covering more than seventy-five hundred kilometers, but for the four passengers who sat through its duration in first class, it didn't seem quite that long. By the time the aircraft completes its taxi from the runway to the Aeroflot terminal, Teodoro, Abigail, Catherine and Francois have been given ample opportunity to unclasp their seatbelts, gather their carry-on luggage from under their seats and the storage containers above their heads and join the line of passengers eager to squeeze themselves out of the sardine tin they've spent the last half a day jammed inside.

No problems arise when the quartet passes through customs. The paperwork provided to Francois by the Company checks out perfectly, and there's nothing in any of their passports that arouses suspicion from the haggard-faced officials who review their documents, pound them with the appropriate stamps and send them on their way through the gate and into the airport's dimly-lit interior. Fluorescent lights flicker overhead, a result of the ongoing construction that has plagued Sheremetyevo since it began losing major airlines to the neighboring Domodedovo International Airport several years ago. British Airways, Lufthansa and the Austrian Airlines Group refuse to provide service here, and as the group steps out onto the cement floor and is hit with a wall of cold air reeking of human sweat, one of the reasons why becomes immediately apparent.

It's more crowded in here than the New York subway during morning rush hour.

A full standard workday ahead of where she came from in terms of time zones, this place, making local time something like seventeen hours later than when they took off. Cat heads for the baggage claim area after clearing customs, glancing back occasionally to see if the others are still close behind. Money she has already, enough cash to get each of them into separate rooms at one of Moscow's finest hotels if no one of importance meets them here. The panmnesiac woman of many trades travels lighter than some might expect; in one hand is her single carry-on piece. What she expects to retrieve at the claim area is a single suitcase with clothing, etc, and a guitar case which actually contains an instrument instead of weaponry.

"I don't know about you folks," she asserts, "but if no one meets us I'm playing in Red Square before we find a hotel."

When Teodoro is flying on an airplane, he spends most of his waking hours thinking, 'I'm going to die, I'm going to die.' Back in the day, that meant he'd spent most of his hours deliberately drunked to sleep and dreaming steadfastly of wide blue water and the swaying grumble of engine inside fiberglass, but that seems almost unethical when one is supposed to be a wanted criminal, so.

No aerial fireballs tonight.

Still, he looks like Hell getting off the plane despite Catherine's generous seat upgrades, his sandy hair in a ragged roadkilled-porcupine snatch on the roof of his head, jacket lopsided, silver chain winking around his neck and shoulder sore despite that he hasn't been doing anything particularly unimaginable with it apart from getting shot. He takes up his duffel-bag. He takes up other people's bags, too, before remembering that such courtesy can often be construed as belittling and trying to be better about that.

He almost runs over a few medium-sized people on his wading return to Catherine's side, squinting with difficulty across the floor. He checked a licensed gun, in case anybody was wondering! And a knife. One automatic knife. His restraint deserves applause. "I'm hungry," he announces, benignly.

The usual complaints of jetlag, of sore aching muscles and the dire need for a shower aren't on Francois' mind save for being something of a familiar checklist. The crowd, though, is enough to dampen his spirits which had sailed with relief when he'd squirmed so easily through customs, his unfettered, flighty faith in the Company at least grudgingly admitting that they can get that right, which is not an easy thing to do. He would know.

He has a backpack slung over one shoulder, filled with things such as the journal Eileen had given back to him, a couple of books to wile away the plane hours, and other things Francois didn't pay for. A scarf is looped widely around his neck, tucking into the warm woolen jacket, a sweater beneath that, comfortable jeans, sneakers, and fuzzy grey gloves baring the tips of his fingers. Headed for the baggage area, to receive a suitcase of things he neither earned nor bought.

He isn't sure when that will start to grate. Perhaps this whole thing will have some money in it for himself - not that he's thought that far ahead. Francois squirms his way through the crowd to stay within the vicinity of the travelers, his 5'10" height doing him no favours, and Abigail even less so. "Oui," he agrees, as he manages to step somewhere alongside. "I could eat, among other things. Do we not know where we are staying?" Quizzical, rather than annoyed, Francois isn't a stranger to improvisation.

If someone is here to meet them, it's difficult to tell — the press of people makes it difficult to pick out any one person and their projected course, the concept of 'personal space' seeming entirely foreign to those who crowd the corridor. And yet Catherine is interrupted in her progress towards the baggage claim area, a long-fingered hand deftly emerging from the mob to tap her on the shoulder. "Ms. Chesterfield?"

The woman it belongs to is slightly more than average height but not tall, brown hair severely trimmed even with her earlobes. She wears a black suit and dark-blue shirt, offering the entourage a polite smile. "Ms. Beauchamp, Mr. Laudani, Mr. Allègre." Her accent is more than evident in the pronunciation of names, in the words that follow. "Come with me, please. Your luggage has already been collected."

Statements made, the woman turns and sets a quick course for the airport exit without leaving any opening for replies, her progress doing nothing to carve an open path amidst the human sea; it'll be an uphill battle for them to keep pace.

"Doctor Chesterfield, actually," she replies easily. The woman greeting them is studied carefully. For all she knows this may be a member of the Vanguard sent to lead them to a convenient place of execution, yet she lets on no such thought. In her perception there's little choice but to follow, she reasons Tamara likely foresaw this occurrence. Feet carry her after the Russian's course, as she makes an assessment of whether or not her five feet and eight inches are taller or shorter than her.

Cat also elects to make use of the Russian she taught herself. "«The gentlemen are in need of food. Is there an opportunity to satisfy this need?»"

Abigail doesn't know a drop of Russian, save how to say hello, goodbye, where's the bathroom and please don't kill me. One has to be prepared, you know — but nine hours on a flight, with a nervous Teo, and then all that she has gone through in the last few days, she's for once the one clinging close to Francois. A foreign woman in a foreign land with her bubblegum pink hair in a braid and comfortable traveling clothes.

She's about to chime in that she's hungry too, granola bars and bottled water long since been devoured and shared on the flight when they are interrupted by their apparent… chauffeur? The female former healer doesn't say a thing, just carts her wheeled carry-on and her messenger back with laptop amidst their ragtag group so that there might be answers. Answers and food.

If you think about it, downhill battles are the less preferable of two kinds. Teo levels a ginger stare into the massed crowds, grows somewhat more saturnine at the prospect of getting into a car with whoever the Hell without even having his stuff (read: gun) on him, though the concern is more of personal custom and comfort than any thought of real tactical advantages. Other people have stuffed animals.

He's happy to let Cat rattle Russian off at the woman, keeping his own aptitude with the language to himself for the time-being. His head bends storkishly around Catherine's rather tall shoulder, pressed closer than he's normally wont to find polite, and he falls into step. "What should we call you, ma'am?"

There are other questions Francois might choose to ask, but running with a group in the first place is as foreign to him as Russia is foreign to Abigail. He falls into step with the pack instead, hungry and tired enough not to halt the transition with pedantic questions. Tomorrow, Francois can be nervous. For now, Francois remains docile, and as Teo and Cat engage the woman in conversation, both English and Russian, one he knows better than the other, he instead splits his attention for their surroundings, chin tilted up so as to see past the milling crowd. As well as Abby, whom he falls into step with to reach for her wheeled carry-on luggage. It's enough of a struggle to wade through here, unencumbered. "«Allow me.»"

The suited woman doesn't so much as look back, never mind slow down; the only evidence that she hears Cat's inquiries is the fact that she speaks a reply — in accented English to Cat's accented Russian. "My duty is to get you to your train on time. This means we will get to the station on time." Her tone is as coolly inflexible as the words, as the woman's unceasing motion.

She leads the way down an escalator and out the main exit, holding the non-automatic door back that the passengers and their luggage might get through as quickly as possible. "I am Ms. Kaminski," she informs Teo. She gestures towards the double line of cars stacked up in the street outside the doors. "If you would continue there."

Outside, wind teases hair, tugs and clothes and assaults faces with microscopic granules of fine white snow resembling sand. There's more of it on the ground, more slush than ice, discoloured by dirt and the greasy oils in the pavement underfoot. Moscow's city lights bleed through the morning haze and lend extra illumination by which to see — it will be another forty or so minutes before the sun rises and begins burning off some of the mist that hanging heavily in the glacial air.

There's a van parked on the curb with a black exterior and tinted windows that offer little visibility and only hint vaguely at the shapes in the rear. Two. One notably smaller than the other, all other details obscured by the glass.

"«Thank you, Ms. Kaminski,»" Cat replies as she heads toward the cars. "«Where is our train heading?»" On the way to the minivan, greeted by snow assaulting her face and crushing under her booted foot as slush, she raises the hood to her parka and draws it in tighter to increase protection. Should the door be unlocked, she slides it open and gets in.

The wheeled carry-on is passed over with very little protest if at all. Laptops are heavy, her shoulder is sore and she's tired. "Thank you," murmured to Francois so as not to disturb the invocation of a name from Kaminski. A train now. She should phone the bar, check in, see how things are. Make sure Thalia hasn't burned it down to the ground. Thank you international calling. Coat is put on, bundles up, hat slid over the pink hair as they head out. She came prepared thanks to a friend. The tinting of the vehicle and its color raises a brow but it hints that possibly, quite possibly, they might not need to worry about where to sleep, and supplies. Maybe. She'll let Teo or Francois take the front, getting in line behind Cat as the woman slides into the van, waiting her turn.

Teo tends to fare better on trains than planes, which isn't saying much but it's something. He's restoring himself to a reasonable state of clarity in the train, a crusty packet of crackers purchased at an exorbitant price off a passing trolley enough to stifle the embarrassing growl of Sicilian boy metabolism, leaving his faculties— all six senses— available when they clop back out into the bitter cold. An astral projective snapshot into the figures within the van is enough to jolt him out of his gooseflesh-needled discomfiture.

Pale eyes close and open with surprise, and his mind stalls briefly cranking against the possibilities of how and where and why the handcuffs he can see and Tamara's machinations had intersected. "Holy shit," he informs the backs of the women's heads. "Lis'beth and E—than Holden are in there." The Englishman's name is meted out in full on a second thought that interrupts the first. It's a warning, almost. For Catherine.

In the back of the van, with his hands cuffed together, a few marks on his face to indicate that he hasn't been very idle lately, Ethan sits beside the other E-name of the team. A fading black eye and a few scratches on the more British of the two. Dressed plainly in a black hoodie and jeans, the man has been stripped of all weapons for some time. And hasn't been allowed free since New York. Which is great. "If it came down to it, should the mission ask for it, yes I would sleep with you. I would make that sacrifice for the greater good of my country." Says the British man serving the USA currently, not entirely in a 'volunteer' sense. Ethan leans back, smirking lightly as he glances out the window.

"Fuck me. We've assembled a crack team. This is going to be a great vacation." The Wolf growls, leaning forward to place his head against the headrest on the seats in front of them.

Sitting in the back seat with her hands cuffed, Elisabeth is … well, not dressed for winter in Russia, that's for damn sure. In point of fact, she was dressed to go out the night she was taken, so she's wearing a pair of nice black slacks and a loose cream-colored sweater. At least she had on her heavier wool jacket when they snatched her, though black dress flats aren't exactly fabulous for the snow. Her feet have been freezing ever since she got on the plane, though she hasn't bothered to mention it — not like anyone'll give a damn. Besides… she's been fielding Ethan Fucking Holden's babble the whole way. Does he even realize that she muted him for the last two hours of the flight? She's not sure. But hey, she didn't have to listen to him. Thus far, no answers have been forthcoming about where we are, where we're going, or what we're doing here — however, Elisabeth recognizes Russian when she hears it, and she actually notes the approach of the group with …. something akin to shock. Maybe horror. "You're a pig, Holden. And I wouldn't fuck you if you were the last man on the planet. I might actually commit suicide in those conditions," she retorts in disgust. At least now she has half a clue what she's doing here, though — because she knew that Cat and Abby and Teo were coming here to seek out nukes. The details of her OWN involvement aren't quite clear here, but … eh.

Names fly by unknown to Francois as Abby's carry on bumps and jostles over the changing surfaces on which it rolls. His eyes squint into the fine falling of snow as chill nips at fingers and faces, and his head tilts bird-like as he looks towards what he can see of Teo, which is the back of his head, before looking past him and towards the van with incomprehension that doesn't remind mute for long. "Friends of yours?" Courteous enough not to sound irritated, Francois' tone is still sharp, as if to needle for an explanation of any kind — whether now or later.

With the quartet heading for the van, Ms. Kaminski now brings up the rear of their little procession, heels ticking crisply against the worn concrete walkway. "To your destination, Ms. Chesterfield," she replies, voice a stony surface that promises no further elaboration on that subject.

While the four are climbing into the van and claiming seats, Ms. Kaminski turns her back to the vehicle, piercing stare picking out two uniformed security guards. She produces a wallet from an inside pocket, flipping it open in their direction, and whistles sharply; the guards shuffle over to study the exposed ID and converse with the woman in sullen tones. Satisfied by whatever she said (and an inevitable gift of prettily printed paper), they move on to harass the drivers of several vehicles — namely, all the ones blocking the van into its present place at the curb.

Once everyone is inside the van, Kaminski included, and their seatbelts securely fastened — something that the stewardesses on their flight felt a compelling need to reiterate several times — the door is slid shut and the lock engaged by their driver, a lanky man with a head of mouse-coloured hair graying at the temples and a bristly mustache too small for his comparatively fat face. A lit cigarette dangles loose from the corner of his mouth, filling the vehicle's interior with dense black smoke fouler smelling than any brand sold on U.S. shores.

He lifts his eyes, studying his passengers' reflections in his rear view mirror for several moments before his mouth splits around a yellowed grin, teeth stained brown from years of tobacco use and — if Francois knows anything about Russians, and he does — tea consumption. "This is all of them?" he asks Kaminski, even as he's gripping the wheel and readying to pull the van away from the curb.

She might again inform the Russian woman it's Doctor Chesterfield, not Miss Chesterfield, but her attention is very much seized by Teo's voice and the sound of male Cockney accent within when she opens the door and sticks her head inside to take up occupancy in the vehicle. Next comes the sight of handcuffed Elisabeth and Him. She goes stiff, not moving for some moments from the position she's in before somehow she manages to still clamber forward and not be an obstacle to others doing the same. Through it all, she's very much flashing back.

At first, she's standing in the shared Dorchester Towers apartment. It's December 9, 2008 and Ethan is speaking with an accent which isn't Cockney.

"Well, we really shouldn't intrude on you like this." Ethan says softly as he moves forward. "Very rude of us. I'm very sorry." He moves to Odessa's side, his movements surreptitious, handing something off to the woman as he goes to her side. He leans forward and plants a kiss on her cheek. Then whispers in her ear. "Go ahead."

"We should be going"

The shorter brunette speaks into the phone more "I don't hear it anymore; I think he left. All right. Thank you." She hangs up the phone, and looks back over. "Sounds like all the drama's past."

Her concern is growing with the lack of answer to her most important question. "You do live in the building, don't you?" That same concern has Cat moving to unlock and open the door so they can exit, her ears also picking up that which Dani says. The quiet from outside. "Good night," she offers.

"Not all of it." Odessa's serene smile returns as she takes a step back toward Ethan. Her hand flexes once at her side and she seems to have skipped back a step. There's a subtle pain in each of the other women's arm and drowsiness begins to settle in. Her eyes halflid as she leans over to use her weight to shut the door, serenity turning to mischief. "Yes Good night."

A slow grin raises on Ethan's lips. "Good night, girls. We'll see you when you wake." Ethan intones as he slides the cellphone out of his pocket. A text message is tapped into the phone. 'Pick up.' And then sent. The cell phone is slid back into his pocket. He walks over, watching Dani, and then Cat. To watch their inevitable fall.

Dani blinks, rubbing her arm at the sudden stinging sensation. "Wait what the" that's about as far as she gets before her legs begin to go all jelly on her. She wobbles, then drops to the ground with a thud.

Things go rather less smoothly for Odessa as she moves to lean against the door. That act has placed her between the taller woman and it, as she went to unlock so the pair could exit. Her eyes blink, she rubs at the arm where the sting was felt, and sleep starts to take hold. "What, what the?" Confusion registers as she struggles to stay awake and on her feet, a battle Cat loses within a few more seconds. The departure of consciousness has her going down slowly. Her frame is folding up, crashing towards the smaller Odessa on the way to the floor.

"Whoa!" One moment, Odessa is about to be fallen upon, hands snapping out in front of her in surprise. And the next, she's out of the way and letting Cat crash to the floor on her own. "That was close."

Another recollection follows immediately after that one.

Is it morning or night? Nothing can really be certain, the only thing that is certain is that the two women are in a room. It's cold, and it's dark. The only glimmer of light is that which creeps through under the door across the room from the women. It's faint. But it does give a rough outline of the room.

Water drips steadily from the roof

Cat and Dani are gagged. Duct tape. They will both find their hands bound behind their backs, their stomachs pressed to the cold floor. It takes a moment for the room to come in focus But there is a chair in the room. An outline of a chair. And someone on it.

"'Ow did you sleep?" Comes a quiet voice. A cockney accent.

She comes to slowly, as the drugs wear off, and as the fog clears begins to take stock of her surroundings. Movement of the hands is tried, she finds they won't move. The floor is cold, there's not much light. The cockney voice is missed for the moment, escaping her perception as it came before the dizziness faded. Her mind is at work, however, and connections are made. Man less than six feet two, Caucasian, balding, between thirty and forty. Ethan? Possibly. She tries to speak, the sound being muffled by tape she can feel, and confirms the purpose of it. Her eyes move to seek out Dani and spot her location, to judge the distance between them. For the moment she remains lying on her stomach.

"So, I should probably establish the rules." Comes the voice from the darkness. "I'm going to ask for information. I don't play games. So if you tell me to fuck myself, if you stay silent, or give me an answer that I don't like I will hurt the other girl. It will go in three strikes. The first time you mess up, I will beat the girl with my fists. The second time I will cut off a toe, or a finger. The third I will shoot the other girl. After that, you're both simply dead."

A moment passes, Ethan allows it to settle in. He pulls up his foot to set on his knee. "You try to fight me, you try to escape, I shoot you in the kneecap." Another moment. "I am not joking, and these things will happen. Now, I know most people feel like they need to exercise a bit of a fight at the beginning of an interrogation. I will not tolerate that, that's why I'm giving you the rules now. Nod your 'eads if you both understand."

From there she shifts forward, her mind's eye and ear filling with Ethan hacking off Dani's thumb. The blood, her lover screaming. The hatred rises, the pull to exact vengeance, and she might seem about to wrap hands around his throat and squeeze. But she doesn't, because another memory is drawn out. March 4th, 2009, at Fresh Kills Harbor.

A very familiar - if incorporeal - voice drifts through her head. You should know better than to show your face around here, Eileen says, though there's nothing reproachful about the way she addresses Cat. You and Teo are a little out of your league these days. Looking for something?

It's definitely her, recognizable on close attention by someone she met before despite the choice of clothing which obscures features. Or someone, the woman's own mental voice answers with a trace of intrigue to it. I salute you for the ingenuity of application, projecting your communications this way. Can you receive as well as transmit, Eileen? Her eyes settle on the bird, her head tilts, and for some stray moments Cat begins to go over the words to a certain Edgar Allen Poe piece in her head.

But that reverie doesn't continue long, she returns to her purpose here. I've also been thinking about things held onto, and the consequences of holding on to them. Part of me wants to not let it go, other parts say life is too short for such things.

Silence emanates from Eileen's corner. The raven mirrors the tip of Catherine's head. After a few prolonged seconds in which nothing happens, she speaks again, not without an apologetic note that makes her sound more rueful than she really is. It would be nice, she concedes, if I could read your mind, but this method of communication only goes one way unless you decide you want to open your mouth. I wouldn't blame you if you don't.

Her head moves a bit, followed by communication in the more conventional human fashion. Cat's voice is solemn. "Nor do I blame you, using birds to keep watch and talking, listening, through them, Eileen. I can't imagine you'd take my presence here, calculated in such a way as to get your avian attention, as entirely peaceful. Thank you for being intrigued enough to check it out."

"I've also been thinking about things held onto, and the consequences of holding on to them. Part of me wants to not let it go, other parts say life is too short for such things."

We've all lost people close to us, Eileen says. Avenging their deaths won't bring them back - if it could, I'd be cutting a swath through New York ten miles wide. The raven tucks its head under one broad wing and begins combing through the feathers there with its beak, adjusting the way they lay for what is probably optimal comfort. I'm sorry about what Ethan felt he had to do to Danielle. I think he would be too, if he ever thought about it. Maybe he does.

"No," Cat agrees, her voice tinging with sadness, the eyes showing the same and then some. Loss, regret, anger, hatred. "Nothing will bring her back. All she can ever be now is dust from the crematory which finished the job he started when he murdered her, set her on fire, and left her in a field. That, and my memories."

She eyes the bird steadily, voice lapsed away to silence for a span of beats.

"Is there value in his life, Eileen? He has some meaning to you, what that is I don't know."

If Eileen can't perceive Cat's sorrow through the raven's senses, then she must have some other way of tapping into their surroundings because her voice softens, losing what little edge it possessed as it makes the transition to something even more mild, a whisper that rivals the breeze ruffling through the raven's feathers as it looks up and fixes her with a level stare. He saved mine.

"How did he do that?" Cat queries. The emotions shown on face and eyes are still present, but the voice she speaks with is quiet, and she's listening. "Tell me about Ethan the man, show me a picture different than the sadist and murderer, the man I expected would kill both of us, no matter what we said or did. The one who claimed he didn't play games, only to promptly play games."

Sadist. Murderer. Eileen can't deny that those two words describe Ethan, but there are others she'd use as well. Finding them might be problematic. I was fifteen when Volken picked me up, she explains. I didn't have anything or anybody except myself, so I tried giving him that. He could've taken advantage of me, but he didn't. The raven hunches over and spreads its wings, taking stock of its earlier handiwork. Apparently satisfied, it folds them again and clicks its beak a few times in wordless approval. He's been looking out for me ever since. Ethan's like a father to me, Catherine - please don't take that away.

"I don't doubt you've lived a rough life, survived things no one should have to," Cat replies somberly. "And still I don't think you're made so cruel by that as to tie such hopes to someone with no redeeming graces. I want to kill him. I want to smash every bone with a hammer and make him beg for it to end. I probably always will. It feels, even thinking of letting go, like I'm maybe betraying her somehow. Can you understand that, Eileen?" Her eyes are intent on the avian while she speaks, and during the burst of silence following those words.

"I could kill him, or die trying. He wouldn't by any means be an easy target. Even if I knew where he is to try. If I look for him, hold onto all of that, he continues having power over me. Determines a course and a choice in my life. If I find him and kill him, then" The words pause for a span of seconds. "I'd need to spend my life looking over my shoulder any time a bird is near, wouldn't I? Waiting for and fearing the flock you send to peck my eyes out."

"Far better to break the cycle here and let go. There are bigger things in the world to worry about than vengeance."

I know what it feels like, betraying the people you love. Eileen can understand that much. I can't speak for Ethan, but if you want to end this then I'll do everything in my power to make sure it stays ended for all of us.

Is this them? Abigail hears Teo's warning and the women peers in as she's entering, shuffling to a spot, some spot near to Liz as Cat stares daggers at Ethan. "Liz!" Ethan is , Ethan is background scenery as the youngest of them all here is in shock that the friend she left in New York is now in the back seat and … handcuffed. "You okay? Nothing hurt? broken?" Immediate worry fills the former healers face as she looks to the people in the front as if expecting an explanation of some sort. unlikely to get it at all. Her bag is slid to her feet, to rest there, making room for others while extending a hand behind her, twisted in her seat to touch the other woman and give some support to what is surely, a very strange situation for the detective.

"Catherine." Ethan greets amiably, a light smile playing at his lips. "Abigail." Glancing back over to Elisabeth, Ethan grins broadly. "Easy, 'lisbeth, you'll get your chance yet, don't worry." The Wolf looks back to Catherine, then to Abby, then to…

"Theodore. Someone who kinda knows whot 'e's doin'. Great. So… You're going to remember our enemies to death, you'll probably sleep with them all." Head tilted to Elisabeth. "Which may or may not be a move to make me jealous. We'll 'ave to see. You will offer them penance and maybe to take them to morning sacrament." His head tilts to Abby. Then over to Francois. "And 'oo are you, what great ability do you bring to this team of misfits and stragglers that will struggle but somehow with a little luck and help from friendly strangers will overcome our adversary?"

"«You're not thirteen like the rest of them, so I give you a little token of respect at the outset. Take care of it, they're hard to earn and very easy to lose. My name is Ethan Holden. Former right hand of an old wrinkly man who neglected his meds one too many times.»" The French accent is nigh perfect, as Ethan settles back in his chair, setting his cuffed hands on his right knee.

"Thank God," Elisabeth says softly, familiar faces more than a little welcome. Transport to Siberian Evo Gulag is not something she wants to even contemplate! "I'm fine." She reaches up and takes the younger woman's hand, holding it tightly and watching the group climb in. "The IA bastard drugged my ass and I woke up in a cell and got hustled on a plane. I don't even know what the fuck's going on," she says tightly. "Or… I have a clue now that I see you guys, but… And unless they were bright enough to overcome the security system," the one Alec put in place, "I'm pretty sure some folks are hitting panic buttons all over Manhattan about now." Humanis First and all. And she peers over her shoulder at the man sitting next to her in cuffs and says sweetly, "You open your mouth to be a snotty bastard one more time, and I may not be able to hit fine red mist again, but I'll do my level best to make sure every internal organ you have is tapioca." He's as good a target as any for all the gut-wrenching anxiety she's got going on with no freakin' meds to ameliorate it.

Into the van we go, Francois struggling Abby's luggage inside and muttering something in his native tongue to Teodoro as they go, as to the nature of their new allies. This is getting quite the crowded party, which — is probably not a bad thing. At the direction of the Cockney being sent his way, the Frenchman lifts his head to regard Ethan with cool blue eyes, and then an eyebrow lift as French is rattled through the van towards him. He busies himself with unwrapping his scarf a little.

"Francois Allègre," he introduces himself, with a flick of a glance to Elisabeth as she snarls, and back to Holden. Decidedly responding anyway. "«I am seventy-four years old, but I have no great ability to speak of. Anymore.»" He hesitates, before, mindful of the English-speakers, he asks, "You worked with Volken?"

Ms. Kaminski takes her place in the back of the van and pulls the doors shut behind her as the last car is directed to move on; she looks past the passengers to the driver. "Yes," the woman replies simply. "This is all." Her subsequent silence is an almost palpable, seemingly disapproving spectral presence, stiff of posture and expression, as they set course for the station; apparently Ms. Kaminski isn't any more inclined to disclosure now that they're free of the airport crowds than she was before, despite the looming questions implied in the conversation going on around her.

It's eighteen miles from Sheremetyevo International Airport to Moscow proper, and weather conditions are not ideal for driving in. The van's windshield wipers squeak across dirty glass, smudging it so severely that the driver has to roll down his window and lean his head outside to see. Unfortunately, while this dilutes the smothering smoke, it also lowers the temperature inside the vehicle and produces a roar of wind as the van finally departs the curb and merges over into the next lane, steadily picking up speed.

Having emerged from the storm of flashbacks coming into contact with Ethan for the first time since those days nearly a year ago produced, Cat levels her stare at the man for some further seconds before she turns her attention to Elisabeth. "I got an alert, saw video of your kidnapping," she relates tersely, "and passed word. But I'm not surprised to see you on this journey."

There's a pause following that pronouncement, and another glance at Ethan as he and the handcuffed detective exchange words.

"I recommend you simply give him his own personal cone of silence and give him what he deserves. Zero attention." In saying that, Cat is following her own advice. She behaves as if he isn't present.

The shaking of Liz's hand, the cold is frowned at. How long had Liz been like this and especially in wake of what the woman had gone through of late. "Francois, there's a spare set of gloves in the outside pocket, could you?" Abigail asks quietly, ignoring Ethan and his assessment of her being there to take the sacrament. He;s trolling, and she's not biting. He can freeze for now. Her own scarf is taken off, wrapped around Liz's neck, angled in her seat, seatbelt around the young woman's knee's and thigh at odd. "We can call Richard when we get on the train Liz, you'll be fine" She doesn't have a spare parka however, but what Liz did help her pick out, is keeping her warm enough, toasty. "Ice cold, have they even had the heat running" Loud enough for the people up front to hear. "For shame, not like we're used to this weather, you'd think they'd have given you little warming pockets"

"«I am sure your experience will be invaluable, monsieur. And I am personally glad we have someone who is not in diapers on this mission. I look forward to working with you when I am not…»" Ethan's hands come up, revealing his cuffs. Fingers wiggling around a little. He gives a nod to Francois. "I was his main man." He pauses. "One of his main men. Turns out the viagra 'order 'ad a lot of boys 'e was seein' on the side." Mock sadness. "Made me think I was 'is only one. Like 'e really cared."

A grin plays at his lips with Elisabeth and Cat. "Aw, Catherine. After all the time we've spent together, it makes me so sad that you are tryin' to give me the cold shoulder. Don't you 'ave questions you want to ask me, threats you want to dangle over my head, personal struggles with morals and promises." A grin. "We'll play the stoic non-chalant game for now, Catherine. That sounds great to me." Glancing over his shoulder, Ethan says in a dismissive tone to Elisabeth. "There are tons of dead Evolved scattered throughout the world 'oo thought they could threaten me and since they 'ad a power, could get away with it. I would 'ate someone with such great breasts to be added to those. Careful, sweetie." But something Abigail says makes him arch his brows. A smile curls up his lips as he leans back. Despite her unwillingness to bite, the littlest operative will most undoubtedly supply him with plenty of ammunition.

The wool jacket helps. Elisabeth takes the scarf, though it'll only do so much to help the faint tremors. She's been struggling with the worry, the fear, and Ethan for hours. So instead, she merely ignores the man entirely. Not encasing him in silence again, since that'll just cause the possibility of the idiot turning physical and she's trapped in the back seat with him. She does encase Abby and herself for a moment, to share with the other woman quietly, "I'd do better if you have a bottle of water and you brought the Xanax when we get to the train, Abs. But other than that, I'm fine. Really." She squeezes Abby's hand and looks at the others. "So…. does anyone know what the hell we're actually doing?"

Francois does as asked, retrieving gloves from the front pocket, his own only hindering his efforts by a couple of seconds of fidgeting with the zipper, though not as much as the biting, numbing cold would have done. The gloves are offered to Abby to take, distractedly steering his attention back to Ethan and his baiting of Cat, his words to Elisabeth. "«If you would like to get along with me, Mr. Holden, as I would you,»" he states, in his quick and quiet French, "«then perhaps you could try to be a gentleman at least for the ride to wherever we are going. Then perhaps we could talk. I have met one other of Volken's former allies - a girl. Perhaps you know her.»"

It's an invitation for conversation, or some measure of testing the waters, either now or later. His tone is somewhat brittle, his expression guarded and uncertain before he switches his attention towards Elisabeth. "We are finishing what Abigail begun, when she killed Kazimir. I think that is perhaps the only thing we have in common. I know not much else, but it is nice to meet one who has helped face him before."

She fully intends to contact Wireless and advise her of the situation as well as progress at the earliest opportunity, but Cat opts not to speak of it. Considering the handcuffs used for both Ethan and Elisabeth, a mention of telling anyone what's happening might only result in being searched and relieved of devices necessary to do make that contact. If that's not in the plan anyway. Her eyes move from Elisabeth as she asks her question and settle on the Frenchman, before returning to the detective.

"I've been puzzling over it for months," Cat replies solemnly, "the question of finding Munin, ever since I was told Eileen isn't the original. It was suggested the original wasn't a person, but an object, and there would be more than one. This was around the time Else Kjelstrom's song appeared. Shores Of The Empire State. There was also a relaunched satellite program called the Munin project. Maybe you'll remember seeing it in the news."

"Also reported, several months ago, was that the Vanguard stole one or more Russian nuclear weapons. Since that time, a few weeks back, I was contacted by a man who claimed to be from the French Deuxieme Bureau. He gave me a huge document, an inventory of nukes and identification numbers, saying some of them are a special kind which can't be disarmed."

"So the mission here, I believe, is to find where members of the Vanguard are hiding, discover their exact plan, and defeat it. I think we have less than thirty days. The date December 12, 2009 has been popping up lately."

"Yeah, I have some Xanax, if not, I know a way to get some more with a little bit of help" and a certain phonecall to someone back home. Abigail returns to holding Liz's hand a grateful look to Francois for his help then a glance back up towards the front and the driver. "Why weren't they given proper clothes? Jackets? Gloves? Something? It looks like they're your prisoners but really. Is there any water in the car for them or do they get to dehydrate as we drive?" She didn't have anymore, she drank hers on the plane.

"«If that is what you wish, Monsieur. I'll have enough respect to accomodate your wish. Despite…»" Well he won't say despite what. But when he mentions the girl, his lips thin, snarling slightly. Leaning back in his chair he falls fairly silent, closing his eyes for a moment. "I know of 'er." The Brit murmurs. He sighs lightly. "This is a great team. Nuclear missiles and she's worried about water bottles and what kind of mittens we're wearing." Ethan lowers himself in his seat. "Now, sweet thing. If you want to give me that cone of silence thing. I'm takin' a nap."

Settling back in her seat, Elisabeth listens to Cat's recounting of what we know. She merely nods. "Richard thought Dec 12 or … 31, I think? Something about eclipses both days," she adds. "Either way, obviously the nukes are the main threat here. But…. " She glances toward the driver, "You know, you could at least tell us where we're going and whether you're going to keep us cuffed the whole time. Clearly it's not like we can just run off." She grimaces. "Christ, if someone had just asked, I'd probably have volunteered for this stupid fucking jaunt to save the world from itself… yet again." Elisabeth looks at Francois and nods slightly. "Pleased to meet you, I'm sure. Don't mind Ethan; he's pretty much a rat bastard only out for himself."

Now he manages a smile towards Ethan, and a nod of gratitude, although even that doesn't seem to dim the collection of unhappy voices and attitudes within the van. No one can say that the Frenchman didn't try. Francois dips a hand into his backpack, extracting a worn paperback he'd picked up in the Rookery with Abby's money at one point, and settles into his seat. "Ah, but most of us are," he says to Elisabeth, and there's kindness in his voice and expression. He glances to the driver, assuming he might be forthcoming with a response, even as his fingers wander through the pages to find the place he'd paused at upon the plane landing.

The driver flicks his eyes at Abigail in the rear view mirror, but whatever answer he'd prepared in response to her question is bitten back behind his front teeth when Elisabeth speaks up. "I am just a driver," he says around his cigarette, flakes of ash drifting from the front seat into the back. "And she," he jerks his head in Kaminski's direction, "is just an escort." One hand reaches across the passenger's side seat and closes long fingers around an unmarked brown envelope, which he passes back to Catherine — assuming she'll take them.

"Your tickets," he provides in a tone that is somehow both frosty and cheerful at the same time. "You will be taking the elektrichka to the Ryazan Oblast. A man named Ivan Spektor is scheduled to meet you at the station there. He will explain everything that Sonya cannot."

Then, in a slightly more apologetic voice: "Company policy. I believe he has the keys to your restraints as well."

The Company. Her ire rises, signified perhaps by a sharp turn of her head toward the driver, but Cat restrains herself from commenting. It would serve no purpose to call the driver a minion of Satan, and there's little choice anyway. Preventing the objective of the Vanguard is priority: the Constitution can't be restored and a corrupt man who stole the White House opposed if she and others are dead in nuclear fire from whatever scheme to invoke the apocalypse is afoot.

So she extends her hand to take that offered brown envelope, commenting simply "Give my regards to Mother." Once she has it, the contents are examined.

Whine whine whine, Ethan's brand of it. There's a glance to Liz, then to Ethan as Abby strips off a glove, keeping one hand on Liz's hands and the other, plucks a bobbypin from her locks. Pale colored, not black or brown, it causes one of the curls from the shorter hair near the front ot swing loose and hang by a cheek but it's offered out to Ethan. "Just unlock Liz's, if it's useful, if it's not… " Then it's not. No comment made to the driver just a sigh.

Arching a brow, Ethan receives the gift. Handling the booby pin deftly, his fingers work rather quickly to insert into his cuffs and slowly work them open. Popping the restraints open, the Wolf frees his hands and shakes them around a little. Glancing over to Elisabeth, Ethan motions to his lap. "Put your 'ands in my lap, love." When she will obviously make a fuss, he adds, "Come now, won't be the last time." But whether she does or not, Ethan goes to work her cuffs free as well.

The bobby pin is then offered back to Abby wherein Ethan looks to Francois, see? I can be nice. Dropping the cuffs on the ground, Ethan goes to flop his hands in his lap, leaning back. He remains silent at the talk of Vanguard and what not, but he doesn't sound surprised or anything. His eyes close. Night night.

The sight of Abby pulling a bobby pin has Elisabeth send an alarmed look over the other woman's shoulder toward the front and before Abby even speaks, she wraps the back of the van in a silence field so that nothing can be heard from the front and she keeps her hands down below the seat level where Abby's kneeling in front of her so that hopefully they don't see. There is a rolling of her blue eyes and she offers her hands — just not in the man's lap. Seriously now!! She rubs her wrists when he gets them loose and eyes him. "Thank you." It's not grudging — she's genuinely grateful that he took them off. It doesn't mean they're gonna be bosom buddies! She slides her hands back down into her lap, under her legs to warm them up, and murmurs, "Keep the cuffs out of sight, Holden. Given who these dicks are, it's likely we'll get shot if they realize we're loose. Bubble's off, so don't jangle." And she removes the small field, calling to Cat, "What is it?"

The driver is listened to, and there's more talk, of the Company. Francois spares a glance towards the others, regarding their reactions rather than focusing on his own, and observes with some detachment as the cuffs are popped open. Fair enough to him, anyway, an uneasy feeling that he could have easily been one of them, as opposed to flying first class to Russia alongside Teo, Cat and Abby. Pushing his thumb into the pages of his book, he only opens it and begins to read, but if he's taking in more than a few words than listening to what's going on around him— probably not. One doesn't have that much tension in their shoulders upon reading D.M. Thomas.

There are few things more jarring than going from breezing along at sixty-odd miles per hour to zero in roughly two seconds. The driver slams his foot onto the brake, filling the van with the squeal of tires and the blare of horns as traffic behind it swerves out of the way to avoid colliding with its bumper. This does nothing to prevent an accident, however, as one car merges into another with enough force to send them both spinning out across the icy freeway and into a truck that had been idling on the side of the road.

The impact sounds like an explosion from where the van has come to an abrupt stop. Broken glass splashes against its windows and ricochets off its aluminum siding like hail. Somewhere, someone is screaming epithets in Russian at the top of their lungs, but their voice is drowned out by the shrill sound of steam hissing out from a broken engine.

In the back, Kaminski clutches white-knuckled fingers around her seatbelt. The driver has turned around in his seat, a Glock 17 aimed squarely at Ethan's head.

If it wasn't clear before which of the two handcuffed passengers was the bigger threat, then it is now.

She's unaware of the attempt to open cuffs which is taking place. Abby removing her bobby pin and handing it to Ethan is not seen, nor is his action to free his hands and move to do the same for Elisabeth. Cat misses this development because she's busy opening the envelope and extracting the contents, then looking them over. Train tickets, six of them, the words on which she transliterates in her head from Cyrillic then into English. She's just about to answer the detective's question when suddenly the van is halted and a gun is aimed at Ethan.


Her words are cut off by the sudden nature of this event, her body straining forward against the seatbelt and slamming back when the motion stops. In the process, Elisabeth gets her answer about the contents in a rather different way than expected.

Cat has lost her grip, causing the tickets and envelope to fly free toward her face.

Oh god, seatbelts around knee's do nothing to keep a person tethered to their seat and Abigail follows the laws of physics with the most of her when the brakes are applied in the very vicious pattern. It's Francois's quick thinking that keeps the pink haired woman from flat out ending up fully in the front seat as one hand is snagged.

The rest of her just follow momentum hits the front seats in the car with head, shoulder, arms, missing the weapon aim'd and ends up twisted, staring up at the roof of the van and hurting, quite a bit. Nothing that will likely require a hospital,. Just Ice. Lots of Ice. And to breath again. Breathing would be good, not this fishy gasping, blinking at what just happened.

Slap, smack, pap. Ffff. "Fucking hell. I'm going to have whiplash, and not going to be able to…" Grr. Reaching up, Ethan grabs his head from the sudden slapping against the headrest in front of him. An annoyed glance is sent up to the Driver, and if he's terribly frightened of the gun levelled at his head, he doesn't show it. An annoyed roll of his eyes is given as Ethan picks up the cuffs from the ground.

A little smile is given to the driver as Ethan puts the cuffs back on his own wrists. Not nearly as tight this time, mind you. But once they are on, he tilts his head frowning deeply. "'Appy? Fuck me. You would stop the car if one of us didn't 'ave a seatbelt on and wait." Little growl. "I bet your kids 'ate you." Leaning back in his seat, his eyes close again. Though a smirk pops back up. He will put ice around his poor little neck later.

When the driver stands on the brakes, Elisabeth is slammed forward in her seat belt. Her first instinct is to grab for Abby, but with her hands slid under her thighs as they were, obviously that's not going to happen. And by the time the car has come to its abrupt stop, Elisabeth has grabbed only her seatbelt to hold on for dear life as she's slammed backward against her seat. The sight of the Glock has her keeping her hands exactly in plain sight, because you know what? No point in getting shot when people went to all the trouble to haul her halfway around the world to help track down nukes… or whatever the hell it is she's supposed to be doing. Wide eyes…. and a sudden bout of hyperventilating are going to soon be the order of the day, too. But not til the great bear of a driver has done whatever it is he's going to do — she'll subside peacefully no matter WHAT the guy wants of her. If he wants her cuffs back on, hey… easy as pie, hellyeah!

The book is discarded instantly in favour of Francois reaching out to Abigail, although his grip is rattled more than enough by the time the car slams to its halt. Muscles and joints all protest, and without thinking, he tries to flip that switch that would have sent healing warmth through his body, enough to ease it. But not so.

"«What is wrong with you?!»" is snarled towards the front of the van, but his back is hunched at the sight of the gun, anger and indignity flaring bright in blue eyes. Face flushed a little from its normal pale, Francois swears softly in his native tongue at the feeling of bruises from the cut of his seatbelt into his torso, as much as thick winter clothing provided something of a buffer.

The driver is, evidently, not happy because he doesn't lower his pistol even after Ethan and Elisabeth are back in their cuffs. Instead, he reaches out with his free hand, palm out and fingers extended. Bobby pin, please.

Envelope and tickets flutter to the floor of the van and across seats. By some miracle, not one is lost to the open window or the traffic that continues whooshing past, no cars stopping to provide assistance to those caught in the tangled wreckage on the other side of the road. The only person who isn't on the receiving end of a stony glare from either Kaminski or the driver is Teodoro, who had until the sudden stop been silent.

"«Tell your friends that the next time they decide to do something stupid, I will not hesitate to pull the trigger,»" the driver snarls back at Francois, too furious to even attempt speaking in English. "«When I say that Ivan Spektor has the keys to their restraints, it is not an invitation for them to help themselves.»"

She's astonished, she really is. Cat's eyes are widened as she sorts out what just happened with the help of the driver and his statement. It gives way to a muted anger that such an attempt was made without much greater care. She closes her eyes briefly and takes a moment to collect herself further after having been jostled around, then slowly unbuckles her seat belt so the driver can see clearly what her intention is.

Then she occupies herself with recovering the train tickets and returns to her seat. Soon enough she's buckled in again.

No healing. Abby'd sure love some of that warm right now and the tingle. Instead all she gets is her breath back and the ability to ask for some help getting the seatbelt unhooked from around her knees before they pop out of their sockets, some help up. None of this requested from the driver even as her eyes glitter a bit with wet. Yes, yes, Xanax has other properties other than calming, it's a muscle relaxer and she knows what she's taking on the train. She'll let the others scream at the driver, Abigail's learned her lesson. Lest the gun that's floating above her is pointed down at her.

She doesn't hand it over though, shaking hand, it's slid back in her hair from whence it came and unless the drivers willing to take it from her hair, and the one on the other side, it's going to stay there.

"Abigail." Ethan growls silently. "I suggest you give that back, right now." The wolf hints, glancing to the gun then back to the blond. "You're not irreplacable, and foolish defiance of authority is something only a guy like me should be doin'." Ethan however, makes no move to take the bobby pin out. Instead he speaks to the driver. "«Sorry. She's semi-retarded. She doesn't know what you want. I'll try to get her to give it to you, but you have my word I won't cause trouble for you again until you're sleeping with your wife.»" A bright smile pops up on his lips.

"«And that is Company policy, yes?»" Francois all but spits in stilted Russian at the driver, and he looks like he might have truly done that, had it not been that the man is pointing a gun. Instead, he settles for muttered, acidic French— "vas te faire foutre"— before he's sitting back, hands up to smooth restlessly through his hair before his book is snatched up. Managing to set aside his anger for a moment, he steers his attention back towards the women, rather than the man, asking, "Is anyone injured?"

This time, the driver lets it slide. It may be because Abigail is so young, or "semi-retarded" as Ethan suggests — more likely, it has to do with the fact they have a train to catch, and stopping up the freeway any longer will cause them to miss it. The gun's safety is flicked back on, the weapon holstered, and soon both the driver's hands are back on the wheel and navigating the van back into the flow of traffic as smoothly as a fish being released back into water. Only when the view of the wreckage has disappeared from his mirrors does he reach for the still-burning cigarette on the dashboard that was wrenched from his mouth when he stepped on the breaks. He takes a page from Catherine's book and does as she suggested earlier, ignoring Ethan to the best of his ability with a firmly set jaw and veins that stand out of his neck.

"Da," he says to Francois, and leaves it at that.

Tickets go back into the envelope as the car resumes forward motion, Cat replying to the Frenchman "I'm unhurt." But she certainly is a bit sore, and will be. Eyes travel around the interior, checking for signs of injury in others.

Everything hurts. But Abigail's keeping her mouth shut, stiffly putting her seatbelt on properly, sitting properly now. Francois is not dumb, knows what sitting stiffly like she is means. This trip is not starting out on a good note, not at all. When the driver returns to sitting, not demanding the bobby pin like Ethan is telling her to hand over she doesn't do anything except look towards her lap where her hands are just one cupped inside the other. Get to the train. yes siree.

When the Driver goes back to Driving, Ethan goes back to Napping. Closing his eyes, he tilts his head back. Smiling lightly over to Francois without looking at him. And then, he's off to nap-time.

Abby's keeping her own posture up, and without medication, a cold compress, or his power, there is little Francois can do for her or the rest of them as he nods his acknowledgment to Cat and sits back into his seat. His novel lies unread in his lap as he braces an elbow against the van side and rests his chin in his hand, watching Russia blur on by in a stony silence shared by the rest of them.

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