Loudly Sung And In A Foreign Tongue


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Scene Title Loudly Sung And In A Foreign Tongue
Synopsis The makings of a good opera go down at the theatre when two simple operations complicate one another.
Date August 20, 2010

Russia, St. Petersburg: Mariinsky Theatre

It's late morning, but you couldn't tell, at this hour. Rain makes things seem like an early twilight, save for that the taint of sun shines in through a different direction. Umbrellas with people attached dart across streets beginning to be busy for the day, trying to scurry into shelter.

Rain falls heavy on the elaborate rooftops of the Mariinsky Theatre, its blockish wings and curved edges looking like royalty in this miserable weather, decadent from the inside as it is outside. Cloud chokes the sky in St. Petersburg and upends buckets after buckets of pelting rain with no sign of clearing, but within the elaborate interior of the opera house, it can scarcely be heard. The auditorium is a cavern of gold and scarlet, able to seat more than a thousand patrons upon plush red velvet rows, seats plump like the painted lips of a woman, and chandaliers hang like gaudy earrings from the tall, tall ceiling and above the empty stage, its fine curtains drawn away to reveal the empty maw gaping before a ghost audience.

And Tania.

There's a staleness to the air within, a lack of movement, too sealed off from the outside world to be affected by the rush of wind currents when doors open and close in other wings. Her music lesson concluded almost five minutes ago, and it seems as though her mother is late from when she was meant to be picking her up, distracted by some task, but when it comes to waiting alone— there are worst places to do it in than the jewel room of the theatre.

There's someone else that's late, too — but not by much. It isn't difficult for Kelly to find a way into the mostly empty, elaborate building undetected by the wandering employees of the Mariinsky, nor hide to locate Tania upon finding the music room empty. Nor was the weaponsdealer she'd been recommended hard to find, a pleasant surprise to discover that the pistol kept safe for her and the ammunition for it were free of charge, or rather, already paid for — anything else she might like would have to come from her own pocket.

Of course, she's not here to shoot the girl. Or anyone, technically.

Just because she's not here to shoot anyone doesn't mean she won't, and Kelly is nothing if not a girl who goes prepared. She should've been a boy scout. She packed light, just a single backpack with everything she thought she'd need in it. Including a potentially important letter. And luckily, since it's in her bag, it's dry, even if the woman the backpack is attached to isn't.

When she finds the girl alone in the theater she pauses, randomly thinking that she hopes this girl speaks English, or this could be a bit difficult. So she gives a little shrug, digs out the letter, then strides towards Tania, the envelope held down at her side, inconpicuous. Ish. "Tania?" she asks once she gets closer. She even smiles. It's fake, but how's anyone to know but her?

Tania waits with the patience of someone who's lived a lifetime of waiting. Waiting rooms. Waiting in line. Sitting quietly. It's almost as if it were her natural state. She is taking advantage of being alone in the breathtaking space, in that she can get away with sitting on the stage and letting her feet dangle into the pit. And kick her feet. It's so out of place, the childlike movement in such a grand setting. She has a book open in her lap, whistling the song she'd been practicing to herself, since she had to return the borrowed violin she'd been using before. But! She can practice in her head. It's mental practice.

Hearing her name called, even by an unfamiliar voice, makes the girl sit up straighter, stiller. She looks in Kelly's direction, returning the smile. "Da?" She answers, at first, in Russian, but that's only to be expected.

Luckily, 'da' is easy enough for Kelly to translate, and she continues smiling as she walks right on up to Tania. "I have something for you," she says, offering out the envelope, still sealed. "It's from your brother." Which, really, is about all she knows about said letter. She'll get into the escape from the country after Tania reads it, it seems. And until she sees if Tania understands English!

At first, it's hard to say if the girl understands, because she stares at Kelly for a long moment. Oh, but then. She glances away, sorrow fluttering over those delicate features. It's heartbreaking, really. "I am sorry," she says, in English, although her accent is heavy, "You must be mistaken. My brother has died." She blinks there, a few quick ones to brush away what seems to still be fresh mourning.

A brow is arched, and Kelly shrugs. "Not as far as I know. I'm pretty sure he wrote this letter not too long ago. But even if you don't believe me, perhaps you should read it and it would explain more? I'm afraid I wasn't told what the contents of it are. Just that it was to you, and from your brother. And I've come some distance to deliver it to you. Please, read it." She can be nice…for now.

Tania looks up at her, expression troubled and those tears looking more and more like they're going to start pouring whether she likes it or not. But her gaze falls to that letter, and she gives a little nod of agreement before she reaches a shaky hand out to take and open it. It's just not something to say no to.

The smile dims a little at the sight of those tears. Tears. How girly? But Kelly holds onto most of the smile and nods as she relinquishes the letter. "I promise, I was told he's alive and well," she says again to reassure the girl.

Inside the envelope is a thick piece of paper folded over three times. Kelly might not be wrong about Sasha, but the word letter probably wasn't the most accurate she could have used — it's a smudged charcoal drawing of a fat Chartreux cat with a flat face and eyes that take up most of its head, immediately recognizable as the Kozlow family pet, Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna.

The handwriting at the bottom of the page is familiar to Tania, too; she has dozens of letters back home written in the same scrawl dating back as early as the year 2000 when she and her brother were still on good terms and he was stationed in Grozny during the Second Chechen War. Four words. Cyrillic alphabet.

Do as they say.

"I do not understand…" Tania is just saying to Kelly as she unfolds the letter and looks down at it. Looking over the drawing, there is a gentle smile that comes slowly over the girl's face. Her hand comes up to cover the expression as if she thinks it's inappropriate for the moment. But both her smile and her hand drop when her gaze falls on those words.

There's just a moment's pause before she folds it back up, slides it back in the envelope, folds it in half and slides it into a back pocket. But after this ritual, she looks up at Kelly again, slowly standing to her feet. "He is… alive," she repeats, her tone somewhere between a statement and a question. "He says to do as you say. If I do, will I get to see him?"


There is no blocking out the sound of the heavy rain from where it thunders down atop Harper's vehicle. The noise of it fills the cavern of the cab, bullets of water that shatter on the silver top and come up again in frothy white explosion of water, spilling down the windshield despite the determine sweep of the wipers that dashes the water aside.

Of course, even in that cacophony, it does very little to seal out the sound of his phone when it goes off shrilly from where it stays snug in his pocket.

The car is located a usual sort of distance from the theatre, obligatory waiting until the familiar vehicle of the girl's mother is pulling out from the parking lot, a babysitting kind of job that is suddenly interrupted when a blocked number makes the agent's cellphone rattle and vibrate with its chirping.

Exhaling a breathy sigh as the sound of his phone rouses him from a nap, agent Desmond Harper blinks his eyes open and turns to look towards the theater, slanting a look askance to the gentleman seated in the vehicle beside him who had been taking his turn watching the theater. Being a spy is primarily two things: waiting, and waiting some more. Being out here on Russian soil performing legitimate activities for the CIA has Desmond revisiting that tried and true job of surveillance. It may not be as glamorous as his work for the Institute, but it usually is safer.

Reaching down to pull out his cell phone, Harper's brows furrow together, then blue eyes scan out to the facade of the old theater again as he flips the phone open. "Harper," is offered to whoever is on the other end, even while Desmond's mind is chruning with renewed activity.

"Where is he? Is he here?" Tania is not picking up on the gravity of their situation, clearly. "Our mother would love to see him, as well. We read in the papers… that he had passed. And after losing our father, it was hard. For my mother." Not her, because she's cool. Totally cool. "She is late, but she is always late. Easy to distract, yes? But we can all go?"

"No, he isn't here," Kelly says, shaking her head. "He's back in the States. But he's waiting for you. I was asked to bring you to him where he's living now." She smiles. "We can leave as soon as you're ready to go, actually. The flight to the states isn't that long. You could be talking with your brother by this time tomorrow."

Over the crackly lines of Harper's phone—

"Hey buddy." It was rumoured that Adrianne Lancaster was elbowing her way into this case, but her arrival and nosying in is potentially unexpected, seeing as she's contacting Desmond~ before anyone is contacting him. That's what happens when you're too busy trying to get rid of someone. In the background, there's the sound of an argument — someone maybe arguing with her, but in Russian. Potentially, she might even know the language.

They're getting angrier. "How's it going in babysitter's club? You got some problems you might want to know about. We got someone moving from a known arms dealer's haunt and heading in on your mark, unless there some other reason someone armed and probably by virtue of this fact dangerous is going to see the opera. She should be there— " And one can hear Lancaster elaborately checking her wrist for the time.

"Aaabout fifteen minutes ago. The cops do know you guys are out here, don't they? I mean, they do now. Obviously. This one wants his phone back."

"Lancaster," comes like a hissed whisper across Harper's tongue, spine tingling at the sound of her voice. Were there anyone among the CIA that truly frightens him, it would likely be Adrianne Lancaster. "Brenton, watch the car," is clipped out to the man seated beside Harper even as his door swings open out to the curb, rain hammering down on the agent on entering the storm. "Do you have any details on the target?" Harper has to shout into the phone to hear himself over the roar of the rain. A crack of thunder overhead sends a streak of lightning flickering across the clouded sky.

Hair already slicking down over his forehead, Harper breaks into a jog, phone pressed up against his ear and dress shoes clacking against the cobblestone as he hurries towards the building. "Anything you have, Lancaster." Though these words aren't for Adrianne, Harper's voice can still be heard when he lifts his hand up to turn on his bluetooth headset and dial out to his team in the area.

"This is Harper, Kozlow may be compromised. We potentially have an armed suspect in the theater. I want eyes on Kozlow now." Screwing up this assignment and losing Tania won't just get Desmond Harper in trouble with the CIA, it will get him in trouble with Sarisa Kershner. He's not entirely sure which is more dangerous to his well-being.

"Well, I will have to pack. And my mother, she will have to pack. Not to worry, though, we can pack fast," Tania says. It's meant to be reassuring. "But I will need my medicine." That part is said with utter seriously, not the flighty whims of a teenage girl.

Packing? She wants to pack? Kelly has to fight off an annoyed and impatient look, and luckily, she's good at schooling her features to show what she wants seen. "I'm afraid that I only have a ticket for you at the moment, though we can certainly make arrangements for your mother to follow us. Your brother is very eager to see you though. And what medicine?" Please don't let it be for some life threatening disease.

"Come, we can talk about specific arrangements on the way to your place to get your things." And Kelly will be trying to discreetly poke and prod Tania into hurrying. If she gets the chance.

"Female. White. Utterly unknown. We're working on it," Lancaster says over Harper's phone, and she sounds serious, now, business-like but doubtful. "But it's gonna take us longer to figure out who she is than it will for shit to hit the fan. Dunno what she purchased, no one's moved in on her, but they're thinking about it now so you might be getting the— " A pause, as she recites the acronyn. "— OMON up your ass any second, so extract your girl, ask questions later. Christ, that N looks like an H. Like 'homo' backwards. That sounds like some bad marketing for a SWAT team."

There's no one to stop Harper's entry into the theatre — a couple of teenagers bearing clarinet cases steer away out of his path. There's a litany of Mandarin from Lancaster's side, now, as if maybe that could substitute for Russian, and then, "Shit. Does it count as an international incident if I break fingers? I think you're on your— "

The dial tone rings in Harper's ear when someone finally steals back their phone and hangs up sharply. Own, was that last part, for all that Harper still has contact with his own team.


Tucking his phone into his jacket as he makes a run for the theater, Harper calls out into his headset, "Caucasian female, indeterminate age and features, armed and dangerous. All operatives move on Kozlow and follow the extraction plan. Local intelligence will likely be on scene any minute!" Rushing to the front of the theater, Harper skids to a stop across rainy cobblestones, looking left and right, up towards the roof of the building then around the mostly empty plaza, then starts making his way around the side of the theater to enter through a service entrance.

Unfortunately for Harper, another voice comes crackling over his headset.

«Desmond. I just got a call from Polopovich, he's moving on Spektor's house. He said there's people that moved in on the building a few minutes ago, they're going to clean sweep and extract Ivan.» Which, of course, couldn't come at a worse possible time.

"I've got a situation down at the theater, handle this Eldridge," Harper practically barks into the headset as he circles around the theater in the pouring rain, "keep me up to speed on what's going on. If you can ID the people that went to meet Spektor, make sure you let me know ASAP." Finding one of the side entrances, Harper runs shoulder-first into the door to stop his sprint, then quickly jostles the handle to find it locked.

Reaching inside of his jacket, the snap-gun he pulls out is inserted into the lock, trigger grip being squeezed repeatedly to turn the tumblers as he looks over his shoulder, then closes his eyes and begins to project his sight into the building beyond the door, hurriedly trying ot figure out where Tania Kozlow is.

It isn't Tania Kozlow that Harper encounters first, but her mother, Yustina — and in her company a taller, darker-haired woman with solemn eyes and a mirthful smile. The younger of the two women pushes open the theatre doors from the inside and begins the long walk down the carpeted aisle, shaking rainwater from a cheerful robin's egg blue she holds in her gloved hands. "Tania!" she calls, voice echoing in the theatre's high ceilings. "«Katarina is taking us to the bakery for lunch! How was your lesson?»"

She hasn't yet noticed that her daughter has company, but her companion is a little more alert. A few steps behind Yustina, Katarina narrows her eyes at Kelly, smile fading. She darts a quick glance in the direction of the orchestra pit.

The situation just got a little more complicated.

"I cannot go without it. I have to take my hydrocortisone and my fludrocortisone every day, twice." Those names sound very strange in her accent, by the way. "It is very bad if I cannot." It is, in fact, life threatening. Tania, though, seems willing to go, aside from that one little detail. "We will have my mother following soon? She will worry."

Oh, and speak of the devil. Tania perks up as her mother's voice calls out, and she looks a little lost as to what, exactly, to do at this moment. "«It was… Something's come up, Mama,»" the girl ends up saying, with a gesture toward Kelly there. She, in turn, doesn't seem to notice Katarina's reaction to Kelly being there. "«But, it is good news. Sort of.»" She lets out a sort of helpless sound there. Yes, quite lost.

People. Of course there had to be people to complicate things. But when Kelly turns to look at the other two women, smiling pleasantly as all the Russian goes right over her head, along with the identities of the two women. Next time she goes out of country, she's taking a crash course of the local language. Tania gets a nod. "Of course, we'll get your medicine before we go. Anything else you need from home?"

«Just did a sweep of the east wing,» is news through Harper's comms device, the familiar voice of one of his men. The geography of the elaborate opera house is well-versed — the east contains the rooms for music practice. «Kozlow's not here. Checking the auditorium and I'll meet you on the other side. I got Lewis, Prokofiev and Marks' guys watching the outside — no one's going anywhere. Marks is tryna get through to the local force but all they're saying is for us to get out of the way.»

And they'd probably love to — but not at the expense of their own goal, and not if they're going to take so long. As the four women converge in the cavernous auditorium, someone is shouldering open the door, harried and not expecting his search to go well — until it does, the eye trained towards the shapes of the family plus one gathered near the opposite aisle of the theatre. Not too far to see.

Not too far to shoot. The agent reacts instantly, «auditorium», and then louder, "Hands where I can see 'em!" with the blockish shape of his gun abruptly lifted, muzzle at Kelly. "Step away from the girl!"

Hearing auditorium in his headset, Harper slings the door open and runs down the tiled corridor past rows of locked doors, past a janitorial staff ember that he unintentionally body-checks out of the way, the length of his black longcoat flaring out behind him as he runs, shoes squeaking wetly on the floor as he skids to a stop and rounds a corner, headed towards the direction of the theater's auditorium entrance west side entrance. Signage directs him along the way, and a sharp call of, "I'm there!" comes before his impending approach to the auditorium entrance.

Coming in from the side entrance of the auditorium, Harper runs to the railing at the edge of the stairs, leaning to the side to get a better view of Yustina and Katarina, then Tania and an unfamiliar woman at her side. A sharp breath is taken as Harper plants a hand on the railing and vaults over the drop down to carpet level from side side entrance near the stage.

"Federal Agent!" Is clearly in English when it's shouted across the theater floor, and Harper is removing both badge folio and gun from the inside of his jacket as he moves. "«Lay face down on ground, right now!»" Russian comes clunkily from Harper, not one of his most fluent tongues as he starts moving between rows of seats, firearm trained on the direction of the four women.

Americans operating on Russian soil. This situation is only becoming more complicated.

Katarina's instincts have her wrapping her arms around Yustina and pulling her into the seats several rows back. Ivan Spektor wouldn't have married a woman without a good head on her shoulders, and she's pleading with her friend to keep hers down in a quiet voice.

It isn't working. Yustina is screaming her daughter's name and struggling with Katarina on the floor, sodden umbrella between them, but Katarina is both larger and heavier than Tania's mother, and intent on keeping her out of harm's way. There's nothing she can do for the girl.

"Tania! Tania!"

Tania, speaking of, looks downright frightened as guns are suddenly being pulled. Frozen, actually. Like maybe… she's never really seen a gun in use before. Her mother's screaming, of course, gets her attention, and she lifts her hands slowly in a placating gesture. "«He's not dead,»" she explains briefly to the woman. Who she means, she seems to think the woman will just know. But, she's not moving to join her mother and Katarina. She looks over to Kelly, because this is the one of them all that had the letter, after all. Apparently, she's ready to go now.

Katarina's instincts may be to get out of the way and get down. Kelly's have her reaching for Tania's hand with one of hers, and reaching for a pistol with the other. "Come on! Keep your head down, stay behind me," she says a bit sharply to Tania, as she begins to dart for the nearest cover. She's hoping Tania will move with her, but if not, well, she's fully prepared to drag the girl out of danger. Or at least out of the open where they make pretty damn good targets.

The other mercenaries would laugh at her if she let Tania get killed.

The theatre is almost the definition of good cover, with its finery something like an assault of the senses, the rows of velvet and the myriad of doors at the outer reaches of the huge space — as well as the mouth of the orchestra pit before the expanse of the empty stage. It's not close quarters, but the rapport of gunfire fills the space like a balloon when Agent First-On-The-Scene Eckford fires a round as Kelly dives for cover. Fine wood and plush fluff from theatre chair explode like a celebration, but none of it is blood.

Not yet, anyway.

Diving for cover at the gunfire — even if it is friendly fire, it's best to be safe — Harper disappears behind a row of seats, shouting into his headset, "Shots fired, shots fired! Caucasian brunette, late 20s early 30s! Armed and heading out of the theater!" While Harper is barking information to the remainder of his men, his sense of sight projects thorugh the seats, up and over the actual field of confrontation to get a veritable bird's-eye-view on the situation from the ceiling of the theater.

Using this odd perspective, Harper climbs to his feet and trains his sights on Kelly and Tania, but can't get a clear shot at the former without risking hitting the latter. "Faulks, Norris, Wilson, where the hell are you!?" Ducking behind the seats for cover, Harper crosses the center aisle and aims wide from Tania and Kelly, squeezing off a few rounds in their direction to try and divert the pair away from the main entrance of the theater and towards one of the side corridors. Splintering wood, exploding masonry and cracking plaster give the impression of gunfire drawing closer to their position, almost like herding sheep.

Up on the balcony, two more agents emerge looking down on the theater, one of them on his radio and the other trying to train his sights down on Kelly, leaning over the railing to do so.

"«This is all his fault!»" Yustina shrills amidst the gunfire. "«Even from beyond the grave! My son! My useless s— !»" Katarina's hand clamps down around the other woman's mouth, her wedding ring biting into her lip, and she winces when she feels blood and saliva squeeze out between her fingers. She doesn't mean to hurt her, but—

This is one of those life-or-death situations her husband told her about. The kind they'd been prepared to deal with when they'd been harbouring Team Charlie in Ryazan. It's just about nine months too late.

"«For God's sake,»" she hisses, "«they're not OMON. Be still. Please.»"

Tania looks like she would argue with her mother's words, but… ah, she's suddenly getting yanked along and shot at. "They are…" She can't even finish the sentence, really. This is far more excitement than the girl is used to, and she's just trying to stay calm. Kelly finds that she doesn't have to drag her more than a few steps before the girl is running with her for cover. "Who are they? That man said federal."

"Your guess is, unfortunately, as good as mine," Kelly says as she tries to make sure that no one can get a good shot at either of them. "Do you know a back way out of here, Tania?" she asks, though she doesn't look to the girl, instead watching for agents with sharp, narrowed eyes. But her gun isn't fired, not just yet. Of all the things she prepared for, she didn't expect to run into quite this sort of situation. Oh yes, Logan will definitely be paying extra. It's a good thing she added that in to her agreement.


Oh my goodness, that is not good timing, Agent Prokofiev's voice coming through the radio as gunshots crack through the theatre. «We're getting cockblocked out here, they're not— fucking— » And this next part is probably not intended for his boss. «Asshole, I'm the CIA!» There's something going on outside the theatre, for all that there's plenty going on inside it too.

Eckford is moving through the aisles with cattish intent, gun pointed at carpeted ground as he keeps himself low. He doesn't seem intending to start reasoning with anyone, simply providing Harper some space to do it as he squats down and angles his gun over the rows of chairs, glancing towards bossman with a nod. Ready to cover, with what he deems to be the closest exit to Tania and Kelly in sight of his gun.

As the CIA infest the theatre like rats through a sewer, others remain outside in a miserable row, with the rain pelting down, one of which arguing loudly with an OMON officer in his grey and black fatigues, OMON in yellow printed across his back. He's barely paying the American much attention, rapidly speaking into a radio as he watches the road.

One black van has come to park outside, and another rolls into place behind it. Rain patters down on sinister black painted metal.

And they won't even be the last to join the party.

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