Nuclear Impasse


elisabeth_icon.gif felix_icon.gif francois_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Nuclear Impasse
Synopsis …is like various other kinds of impasse except, if they don't eventually press forward, the Vanguard reboots civilization with its lead operatives at the helm by exploding the world. Team Charlie confers over new intel at a bar.
Date December 13, 2009

Ryazan, Russia — A Bar

The clientele is sparse and the beer is dark, and these fragments of Team Charlie scored the better seats by a roaring hearth designed to stave away the chill of winter. It's been a day since Carlisle Dreyfus, effectively smoked back out of hiding and against his better judgment, made contact with the intrepid heroes, or at least one of them - Francois is seated at the end of the communal table currently monopolised by them, with a plate of mostly eaten breakfast set aside from him, dressed in earthy colours and pragmatic materials as ever, wools and leather and denim.

"I think I know where the nuclear weapon is." — is very unfair, wry in delivery and overtired, patience frayed into a bitter kind of humour that sours the warmth the Frenchman generally has. Apparently, it's not too early for lager, pale fingers spidering over the glass rim.

The roaring hearth is what decided Elisabeth on relaxing right here. Because she hates the cold. Really. With a cup of coffee in front of her, settled in next to Felix, the blonde listens to Francois quietly. Her blue eyes are wary and she carefully keeps a silence bubble around the three of them. "You're just coming up with all kinds of tidbits of information out of the blue, Francois," she says quietly. "So where is it you think the weapon is?" She has been in a bit of a mood recently — between Teo's jaunts with no intel, Francois's jaunts with no intel, and Ethan Holden's shitty attitude in general and no intel, she's pretty much feeling as if this trip is going to end poorly.

Felix has been convinced from day one, nay, day minus one that this is going to end poorly. Not exactly a bundle of good cheer. He's sitting mutely next to Liz, dressed in drab, plain clothing, coat over the back of his chair, fur hat on his lap like it's a pet or a teddy bear. "How'd you find it out - what was your source?" he asks, mildly, looking up from his cup of smoky, rather bitter tea.

Liz's sarcasm and wilful whatever don't really get in under Teo's skin, but few things really do, nowadays; not even Ethan Holden. Psychic hybridization between one's past and future selves and adjacent traumas produces serenity. Who knew?

The Sicilian is a slouching, peculiarly adolescent clump of tousled off-blond and layered winter clothes bunched in a chair of his own, his broad shoulders compacted inside the radius of the wood's rickety embrace, hands curled in pockets, chin sunken in collar, seemingly in danger of tipping out of the furniture, boots stretched out in front of him as close as they can get to the hearth without actually catching on fire. The Frenchman's words elicit a slight, and slightly drowsy lift of his brow, but he doesn't add to it verbally, yet.

A beer-dewed cup sits on the low table beside his ankle, dangerously close to being knocked over, but not quite.

Francois takes a long pull of lager, setting it aside to instead tousle fingers through hair, a restless fidget. "It is on a boat. Somewhere. Or was on a boat, going somewhere - I do not know where. Carlisle Dreyfus came forward with information." A glance towards Teo, resting his elbows on the table in the assumption such rudeness will be forgiving, fingers lacing together and resting his chin on the lock of hands. "Teo was able to send him an alert that convinced him of the true danger of Munin, and made contact with me with what he knew of it.

"Sixty years ago, I knew a man named Heinrich Wagner. He was one of Volken's circle of scientists, involved in experimentations in Dachau. He had a son, or an adopted son, named Mikhael Wagner, one that was only very small when I spent time as his father's prisoner. This child would grow up to be Volken's man as well - he was recruited to Volken's cause in the seventies. I did not know him very well, I only kept track."

This is at least knew information to all three of them, rather than just Liz and Felix, though Francois doesn't glance Teo's way as he speaks, quietly. "The last I knew of Mikhail, in the early 90s, he was in Germany, laying the foundations for— apparently, what would become a Vanguard cell, as Dreyfus told me. The same that was entrusted with the bombs of the Final Solution. It is a connection I should have made sooner, but— " His head tips a little to the side. "Wagner was not a young man. I wouldn't have dreamed he would still be Vanguard.

"For that is what Dreyfus told me. That Mikhail Wagner has Munin."

There is a frown, and Elisabeth considers both the information and the source. "Why would Dreyfus just … tell us this?" She glances between the men, and then she rubs her forehead. "All right…. if that is actually the case, we need to get Cat and whoever else we can — with Wireless off the grid, computer experts are in short supply — to follow up on Mikhail Wagner from the last you knew of him. Possibly we can trace his whereabouts…. or the whereabouts of a vessel owned by him? It's believed to be in one of the four places we sent teams. It would make sense that they'd keep it mobile, actually. So long as they don't dock, there's no chance that any country might spot what they've got." She considers. "Is there any chance at all that Dreyfus's son followed in his own father's footsteps? Abby asked me about it, and Felix and I were about to actually start tailing him to see if we could spot anything."

It's….perplexing news, by the way Fel purses his lips over his cup of tea. He nods, grimly. "He just up and told you this?" he wonders, brows lifting. "I'm glad," His tone is puzzled, and he glances sidelong at Liz. "No idea where he was last in port - we're a damned long way from any open sea…."

The sleepy stray in the chair widens both eyes with a blink, lifts a long-fingered hand, scores a callused palm across his forehead. It takes a tug of effort for him to answer Francois' glance. "He didn't just 'up and tell,'" the Sicilian corrects, getly reminds. "I dug up his private E-mail address and sent him notice about Munin's projected programmed detonation date, based off the Operation Apollo dossier. He doesn't want to die, and doesn't trust Zhukovsky with his mercenary interests to keep him alive.

"Robbie might be involved. Might be an 'in.' Tailing anybody who's 'in' sounds dangerous, based on what we know about Zhukovsky's ability so far; illusionist's been romping around in all of our heads already, and had little trouble tracking us down for ambush the other week. Could be worth it, but the truth is, it isn't the Russian cell we're after. They don't have the fucking nuke. They want to get the fucking nuke. Hence the impasse." Punctuated by sporadic conflagrations of everybody trying to kill each other, Teodoro means. He lapses back into silence, and also back into his slump in the chair the next moment, unwilling to reestablish full upright position— never mind object to Francois' elbows on the table.

Francois only nods to Teo's point, taking a break to tip back the last of his lager, pale throat working around lukewarm bitterness before its set back down again, sleeve used to wipe his mouth. On the tail end of Teo's sentiments, Francois lends his voice; "Oui, Dreyfus told me that Grigori has not yet wiped us out," and there's a curl of his lip at this presumption of them being an easy to kill bunch, track record not withstanding, "simply because he desires that we do the dirty work for him in finding Munin. I believe digging further into the cell, at this time, won't benefit us.

"Save for one thing - Grigori had an operative named Skoll attempt to apprehend the bomb once before, but it fell apart when the United States apprehended Hugin - only Wagner and Skoll escaped. Grigori's aim was for Skoll to kill Wagner for Hugin, and Munin's location coordinates, but it never came to be, but Grigori still desires Munin - to turn a profit. I do not think Dreyfus will tell me Skoll's identity, but I can do what I can, or perhaps Robbie Dreyfus can lead us to him."

The Frenchman shrugs. "It might be useful, it might not be - Grigori is of the belief we know more of Munin than he and his people, so." Such is life. "Dreyfus is to give us what information he has on the Verano, the boat, when he is able."

Elisabeth nods slightly to Teo. "Yeah… if the Zhukovsky's just trying to follow us to get to Munin, we've got two objectives here: Try and locate the bomb and keep his grubby paws off it." She grimaces. "Wagner's clearly the link here, and we need the name of the ship." She pauses and winces. "Much as I hate to put the military's link into motion, it might be time to actually use the damn satellite phone to contact Autumn and his people, have their geeks start tracing that ship — with the name, we can get a location. There have to be records on refueling or restocking stops. Even if the ship itself doesn't go into port, there have to be records." She scratches her head. "I'm not sure what more we can do here in Russia, honestly. Aside from tailing Dreyfus's kid to ascertain whether he might have information that's useful. But based on what you've just said, we've pretty much got the only real intel that's going to come our way. If Dreyfus can get us the Verano information, that'd be helpful…. but it would make me wonder, if *he* can get it, why can't Zhukovsky, with his worldwide network of contacts, locate it?"

That has Felix brightening considerably. Folger's Crystals, etc. "We have a name for the vessel, then," he says. Not quite grinning. "So, this Skoll, he's also out to find Wagner because Wagner controls the bomb. Or she, might be. Anyhow, Skoll's at large - and we've no clue who that is. Why not skip him entirely and go directly for Wagner and the Verano? Though if we begin to move with apparent purpose, Zhukovsky and company will be on us like ants on a gummibear. We'll have to misdirect him somehow - split up, deceive him, or move when he's not looking. And does Zhukovsky know the name of the ship - how much has he been ableto lean on Dreyfus? The kid's the mystery link at the moment, isn't he?"

"Or we might have to kill Zhukovsky and everybody working with him," Teo says. It's rather droll, the juxtaposition between those remarks and his penguin's huddle in the chair, feet crawled as close to the fireplace as humanly possible. "Given the news that the bomb's pre-programmed to go off hasn't apparently dissuaded him from wanting to locate and sell it. I guess the American government would prefer not to have to spend money to get the weapon into their possession. I don't mind contacting headquarters with that much information, but I doubt we're done here.

"Sea's pretty fucking big: finding one boat in it is pretty fucking difficult, and whittling through the network of bribes and burned books that have probably kept the vessel hidden could take longer than they have." Not that Teodoro would know about retreating to skulking around the great wide ocean or anything. "There are any number of things we may want to look into. More intel from Zhukovsky, Skoll, or his buyers.

"Seems like they're either certain about how to deactivate it, or extremely comfortable with the implications of its detonation under specific circumstances. Money's worth less in a world with ninety percent of its population dead, which was the figure we looked at during the viral operation, so Zhukovsky obviously plans to have enough of a world to spend his in after the thing goes off. What kind of tea are you drinking?" The Sicilian's head realigns to study the cup in Felix's hands.

Caffeine suddenly seems like a good idea. Teodoro's circadian rhythms seem to operate on thirty-hour days, and with the drain of his ability, he is prone to feeling like ass at the most unhelpful of times.

"We cannot afford to skip the would-be assassin of the man we are hunting for. Dreyfus is retired, and one man. What he knows is not necessarily what Grigori knows, and the other way around," Francois says, voice quietly and worn, sandpaper edged as he fidgets with a fork from his mostly finished meal, poking at the dregs of eggs before dropping the utensil with a clatter of metal to porcelain. "But it is good, I think. The information. We have much still to do in Russia for as long as we don't know where to go next. But we will, I am sure."

He quirks a smile, sitting back in his seat as if contemplating getting up, but doesn't yet. "As for the Russian cell, it will still probably be here when we are finished saving the world. It might keep me here. Anyone is welcome to join me." He only sounds semi-serious, his jest more directed to the last offer than the comment at large.

Caravan tastes good, Teo decides after a mouthful. Maybe a little weirdly musty, but it goes straight to the gut, is warm, stays in one's mouth without transforming into anything sickly. And is totally caffeinated, isn't it? "Skoll, then. The — albino? girl who played the part of the rusalka might be another operative, too. Generally, I have a hard time jumping into a telepath's head, so— that might not have been Zhukovsky himself." He delivers the cup out of two hands into Felix's grasp.

"Ethan's working some other old contacts," he adds, smoothly, his tone and register cut out of the same cloth as it was when discoursing on storming the foundry eventually. "I think it'd be best to stay out of his way, to reduce the chance of having to be forcibly recruited into his cover anytime soon.

"Abby asked me to look in on him, so I'm doing that now and then; nothing relevant yet." It's so close to the truth, it isn't actually a lie, except that he can feel Francois' eyes burning into the side of his head through the permeating cold and the bristly layer of his hair all the way from over —> here, but it refers less to the regretful squirm and apology with which Teo had told the Frenchman the other night and more to the nights he and Elisabeth had spent hunting Humanis First! on Staten, the Vanguard in Manhattan, and lesson plans on Google.

What Teo owes Francois is different to what he owes a long-time comrade, and vice versa. Felix, another separate case entirely.

Damn straight. The look Francois trades over the table towards Teo is as dull as the bruises that mar his face, an ugly little patch of discoloration beside his mouth, which he'd dismissed with many placating waves of his hands to any member of Team Charlie who'd peered at it strangely as if embarrassed to admit what happened. Like slipping on ice, falling out of bed, pissing off a burly Russian prostitute - the possibilities are endless. Endless!

Not the least of which could be Holden's fist flying out and catching him right in the mouth, of course. Anyway. "We have for now what we need to do next," Francois says, now rising from his seat, and making no additions to what Teo's said of Ethan Holden. He's said more than enough for the pair of them. "I am headed to the Spektor house, to see if Dreyfus left a message with Ivan yet — and to see that Cat knows what we do. I'll be in touch."

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