Taste The Bright Lights


tania_icon.gif valentin_icon.gif

Scene Title Taste The Bright Lights
Synopsis Tania is asked ("asked") to put human first. Unfortunately, this also includes herself.
Date June 3, 2011

Miller Airfield

The lights haven't gone out since she's been here, which was— maybe??— a few days ago. Her clothing hasn't changed since she's been here. The room is a cube of cement, with the ceiling only discerned from the ground with its light fixtures, and vice versa with boot scuffs and scratches of furniture that doesn't exist here. An opening gap for the cubicle with a white toilet installed, old but clean and functional, paper on a roll, possibly a luxury despite the lack of closing door. Then, of course, there's the music.

Welcome to the jungle
We take it day by day
If you want it you're gonna bleed
But it's the price you pay

It seems to rattle through the pipes and structure of the room in the same way it aches through Tania's bones, exhaustive and continual since she was first delegated to this place. They haven't actually asked her for anything — they've given her the medication she asked for, and they've given her food, but they haven't given her questions or any hint of the key that might mean it's time to negotiate her terms. Her limbs, her body, her face are all unmarked — no bruises, no welts. No starvation. No harsh words. But there is sleep deprivation, save for minor and sporadic reprieves into unconsciousness despite the bright lights and incessant music.

And you're a very sexy girl
That's very hard to please
You can taste the bright lights
But you won't get them for free

She isn't getting sleep right now.

In the jungle
Welcome to the

And the sound goes off.

Silence whines loud in her ears, almost flooding out the more mundane acoustics of boots in the outside hallway, and the sound of the locks on the door unlatching.

Tania could never be called terribly resilient. Even with her medication, the lack of sleep is enough to put the sickly girl off balance. Mentally and physically speaking. But she is alive, that's one thing. Although, at this moment, she'd give anything for a full night's sleep, just some time to recover. To feel like herself again. But the music.

It certainly isn't the music she'd pick for herself.

But when it cuts off, eyes open to glance around the room, her forehead relaxes some; tension fading to a degree. But only for a moment. Once the locks turn, her eyes narrow over dark bags that tell of her sleeplessness, and she pushes off the wall she's been leaning against to sit up straight. However, she doesn't bother trying to straighten her clothes at this point.

Michal Valentin is familiar — but not very. She knows him from the invasion of her home. She's seen him now and then since then, talking over her, making a round of the room itself before she was locked within it and assigning her care to soldiers.

He leaves the door open when he enters in, and she can see a fraction of the narrow hall she'd been escorted down some days ago, and the angular shadow of a guard outside. Sound that isn't Guns'n'Roses filters through — the noise of military traffic, aboveground, the footsteps of personnel in various wings of the facility. Life outside the room. "«I am a little bit of a fan of American music,»" Valentin says, his smile crooked and his language her Russian, although she might be able to tell it isn't his language despite his fluency. "«But I have a feeling that you have more discerning tastes. That harp was yours,» da?"

Standing, and holding a small case at his side, he isn't dressed like a military man, even though he holds himself like one. Jeans and scuffed brown shoes, a button-down shirt and a sweatervest with wide zigzags patterned into thin woolen cloth. He is beginning to grey, the lines in his expression deepening, but age seems something he is sliding into happily.

Watching him come in, looking over his more civilian looking clothes, Tania seems to be torn on whether or not she wants to talk to him. But as she shifts enough to fold her legs in front of her, her elbows resting on her knees, her gaze travels up to his face. "«It is mine,»" she says softly, her general bad mood clear in her tone.

"«Can I go home now?»" It's spoken like she doesn't expect a yes, but she tries anyway. Glancing down again, she catches sight of the case by his side with a deepening of her frown.

Rather than help her to stand, Valentin instead moves to kneel down, taking a knee against the cool floor and opening up the case, as if following the track of her glance and having no interest in teasing her. What's inside is probably not encouraging — they are twin needles, capped, and he angles the thing to show her clearly. There are no labels to guide Tania, and the fluid inside isn't particularly exciting. It doesn't even glow. "«Not yet,»" he says, and almost sounds apologetic about it. "«But soon. We do not intend to keep you here forever, Kozlow. But I do want you to do a thing for me.

"«I have here a vaccine for the non-Evolved influenza. Of course, you have no reason to trust that I am not lying before I even attempt to bargain with it, and even then, you might decide it is merely a placebo, and you will have to weigh that against the possibility that it will immunise you against a sickness with a 90% mortality rate. But what I can guarantee for you— »"

He pauses, then, head tilting, and his eyes are very blue as he studies her, to see that she is, in fact, taking any of this in. She seems awful tired. "«Is that it won't harm you.»"

Tania scoots back a bit as he comes to kneel down, although she can't go far, since there's a wall in her way, but she moves all the same. And as he explains, she looks down at the needles, then back at him again after a moment or two. There's a long silence, though, as if she does need a little extra time to process.

"«Did you kill Miss Deliya?»" Which is, of course, the last time she saw this particular man with any sort of needle. "«How can I trust any guarantee from someone who put me in here and won't even let me sleep?»" She's generally a mild girl, soft spoken and gentle, but at this moment, she's a little more expressive. Although, sloppily so, all things considered.

"«As long as we are preventing you from your sleep,»" Valentin says, fingertips drumming against the edge of the case, "«then you can trust that Ryans is alive and well, as we have no desire to allow you to communicate with her at this time. But we have fed you, supplied you your medication, which is enough luxury for a possible accessory in— »" He pauses, deciding to summon the word in English, as if enjoying its quality: "Terrorism."

The case is placed down between them, allowing him to clap his hands once together in anticipation. "Now. «To answer your question, you can guarantee that this is a vaccine and not a drug or a poison by picking the one you would have me inject myself with. From there, we can go forward.»"

That accusation doesn't really click at first, as she's more focused on Delia and her possible demise or lack thereof. But after a moment, Tania looks up at Valentin with wide eyes. "I am an accessory to nothing," she says, a bit of panic in her voice. She shakes her head some, as if it would help make him believe her.

The panic remains when he sets the case down, but her attention shifts to it as he explains. Her lips press together for a moment, her eyes darting from vial to vial. She doesn't look up just yet, but a finger reaches out to touch the one on the left, choosing arbitrarily. "What is forward?"

Imploring panic is met with ice sheet indifference, only waiting for her to make her decision. Valentin moves promptly, in quick, economic movements, unbuttoning the cuff of his sleeve, rolling and hiking the fabric up high enough so that he can get to the meat of his upper arm. The paler inner of his skin is marked in elaborate, gothic letters, and from this angle, only the B can be made out from the three letter word. Picking up the needle of her choice, he uncaps it with a flick of his thumb, steels himself with a swipe of his tongue over his teeth, before jabbing needle point deep, depressing the plunger. The item is recapped, set down, his sleeve fixed.

"«Forward would be any knowledge you have of the Ferrymen or satellite associations. You are in this country when you should not be, and have very interesting friends. You should reconsider your claims that you are innocent of anything.»"

He picks up the remaining syringe, letting it circle between his fingers. "«Feel assured that we are not negotiating the terms of your freedom, or even whether we should shoot your brother like the dog he is. Only this, the immunisation, the lonely chance you will have against a sickness that will kill you if you get it. You and I both know you will not have the strength to match it. And no,»" his smile grows crooked, "«it is not a widely available cure. The virus is mutating too quickly for them to start its mass production. So I bargain with something rare, and something I will give freely if you have anything to say.»"

He silences, then, settled as he is on his haunches.

Tania's head tilts, leaning to the side to peek at the tattoo on his arm. Curious. But when his attention turns back her way, she straightens again, letting herself lean back on the wall. "«My brother is no dog.»" The protest, for a moment, seems like it's going to be the only thing she's planning on saying. But she does look at that syringe. She believes him, at least on the matter of the flu being something she won't survive, and that he holds something that can save her from it.

But she looks down toward the floor, shaking her head again. "I do not know what you want me to say. I cannot lie to get such a vaccine." Which isn't… exactly a lie, but it certainly is dancing around the truth.

Patience is something Valentin breathes in, a sharp inhale, eased out again as he drops he attention to the prize he holds between his fingers, and allows silence to settle between them as he thinks. He reverts back to English when he does start again, his voice filling syllables warm and mellow in its Slovak accent. "A shipment of vaccinations for the Evolved sickness was being shipped into the city. These Ferrymen, they boarded the train, they drew arms against the security, and stole the valuable medicines that were to be put into pharmacies, care centres, schools, hospitals. Because they are criminals, and believe they have a right to whatever they can fight for.

"They attacked a prisoner transport as well, to rescue one of their own from a jail term. Everyone was murdered." He looks back up at her, studying and sharp. "Everyone. The soldiers and truck drivers, the vehicles destroyed, and no fatalities on their side. I wonder if you protect a people that you truly understand, Tania. Murderers and thieves. How did you get into the country? Who clothed and fed you when you came here? Supplied your medicine?"

The girl closes her eyes as he goes quiet, and she leans over her own lap, her hand propping her up as it presses against her forehead. Stealing medicine isn't good news, and there's a bit of a shudder from the girl that probably means there's a tear or two running down her face by now. This is not the kind of situation she's ever been ready for. She can't help but think, her brother would be doing much better.

But she looks up at the mention of murder, because that isn't something she can see people like Abby doing. And it's from the heart, not the head, when she whispers an emphatic, "«No.»" Like she can't believe it. Like she believes them to be nicer than that. It takes a moment, but she tenses up and looks down at her feet again, swallowing hard. Heartfelt, but somewhat telling. "«This… those are very bad things,»" she says, trying to cover a bit, "«But I don't know about these thing.»" That much is true.

Steeliness is slowly suring up Valentin's expression into something harder than the affability that he usually wears, to match his scuffed brown shoes and zigzagged sweatervest, even when his posture and little glimpses of tattoos tell of a different kind of man. His questions— the ones of the hospitality she's experienced— remain unanswered and their silence rings clear for him enough to make frustration knot the muscles in his back and arms.

Then he relaxes, as if simply cutting it loose like a wild fish on a fishing string, picking up the case and slipping the capped syringe back into it.

"There will be a time when a woman such as yourself will have to choose a side," Valentin says, his voice curt, sharp. "Difficult, in your position, being a carrier, having emotional attachments to the other kind — I understand. But you will soon understand how they see you, and what value they place in you, and I bid you to learn that lesson sooner than I did." He gets up to stand, a hand gripping and steadying a thigh that twinges at the movement, before headed for the door.

When he starts packing things up, Tania watches, gaze flicking from place to place as the panic starts up again. She really doesn't want to get sick, not with this flu. But she doesn't want to put her friends in danger, either. He is right about it being difficult. "«Please. Wait. I didn't— I just wanted to be with my brother. It wasn't for terrorism, I just wanted to see him. Please. I don't want to get sick, but I don't know where your Ferrymen are.»"

She doesn't quite make it to her feet, and it isn't exactly an impassioned speech, not with her sounding so tired, but there is a bit of a plea in it, whether she meant to put it there or not.

He stops, framed in the door, when she makes her appeal, fingernails working along the edges of the case he holds, with his arm still aching from his own injection. Valentin turns just enough to look back at her comfortably, and the lack of conflict or pity is nakedly apparent. That said— "I do not want you to beg," he says, betraying a minor discomfort, as if Tania had committed some sort of social faux pas. "But I do need something, I cannot afford to believe you when you say you do not have a single location, a single name. I can hear it in what you do not say, and see it in your eyes.

"But as for this," he says, indicating with the case, his voice abruptly warm. "It will have a better use passed to the hands of better men. Colonel Heller would be very grateful, and there are other officials who will make my existence a little easier at such a gesture. But that is a thing I will reconsider if you can think of something of worth. I will give you more time to think about it."

He reaches for the door, affording her a half-smile that seems fixed, sharkish in his angular features, and goes to swing it shut, the clang of reinforced metal in its frame.

Tania sinks back down, putting her face in her hands this time as the door shuts and the music starts again. Luckily, crying can't be heard over the music, either. The time he gives her is just time to try to decide who of those people that cared for her she could possibly give up for her own sake. If she even could bring herself to do it.

Her fist hits against the wall in what would be a slam if she was anyone else, but for her, it's just a small showing of her frustration.

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