To Be Alive


amato_icon.gif kazimir_icon.gif yvette_icon.gif

Scene Title To Be Alive
Synopsis After years of keeping her at arm's length, Kazimir Volken is forced to confront his single greatest weakness — his daughter.
Date December 16, 2008

Eagle Electric

The most notable business collapse in Queens was that of Eagle Electric, a major manufacturer based out of Long Island City for decades, comprised of acres of warehouses and manufacturing plants designed to produce electronic components to suit all sorts of needs. The western warehouse of the Eagle Electric lot is an enormous and foreboding red-painted building made entirely from sheets of ridged steel. Amidst the grass growing up through the cracks in the pavement and the burned out cars in the parking lot, it seems just as uninhabited as the rest of the area. A large and ruined sign at the top of the office and manufacturing building prominently reads, "Eagle Electric—Perfection Is Not An Accident."

In the twilight hours of winter, the Eagle Electric plant looks like a broken industrial corpse that has been strewn about the forgotten streets of Long Island City. The warehouse, used for meetings primarially, is a particularly picturesque example of the urban decay in Queens. The large bay doors are left open, exposing the interior to the bitter cold. Frost glitters from dim gray light filtering through the high windows, all of which are crusted with ice on the inside and out. Outwardly, though, the facility looks to not have seen use in years — as much is the idea. From high above the main building, it's decaying sign serves as a reminder of what it once was, and what it is now.

Eagle Electric — Perfection Is Not An Accident

The warehouse is as cold and empty feeling as it always is amd the high-ceiling is filled with the rustling sounds of wings, tdozens of ravens perched within the exposed steel rafters, black feathers dotting the white cloth-covered stacks of old cargo crates that were never shipped off before the company collapsed on itself after the Bomb.

Stacks of army-green metal cases are pushed up against the wall just beyond the bay doors of the warehouse, each of them marked with white stenciled serial numbers — all of them ammo cases. A stockpile of munitions lays out in the open, racks of automatic weapons, cases of explosives, it looks like an arms locker in the warehouse. Beyond this grim display, lies the center of Kazimir's presence within the facility.

Several wooden palettes that once held freight cargo have been left in a large open space surrounded by towering stacks of old electronics in shipping crates. These palettes are swathed in loosely laid white canvas tarps, arranged in such a fashion that the wrinkles and creases in them give strong play of shadows and light from the high up and narrow windows. Centered on these palettes, like a makeshift dais is an old high-backed chair, the kind that would sit at the far end of a banquet table. Whatever upholstry it would feature is obscured though, the chair shrouded in the same white cloth as the palettes, some blowing in the cold breeze that whips through the drafty building.

Seated in the chair is a man akin to living shadow, ressed in a sleek black suit that gives him a narrow silhouette despite the effects age has had on his decaying metabolism. Kazimir Volken looks gargoylish in his posture, seated forward in the chair with his elbows rested o his knees, bare and liver-spotted old hands folded in front of his face, mouth resting against his thumbs. The stark contrast of light and dark from the angle of illumination makes the pock-marked scarring on his cheek give him an even more stony appearance, but it is the distant and vacant stare in his eyes that finalizes his statue-like facade. His mind is clearly elsewheres, lost in plans of the past, and dreams of the future.

Getting to New York was an interesting affair, though far from impossible. Yvette knew enough of the trail of smugglers to get herself over the ocean and to New York, and enough of other things to secure a place for herself in the city before making the final leg of the journey to the warehouse in question. Her long white coat rustles and moves with the wind, and a white gloved hand holds Kazimir's cane easily in her right hand. Her steps are light and quiet, though more from habit than any specific intention of sneaking. Matters simply are the way they are, none the less.

She steps into the warehouse proper, taking in the crates, the birds, and Kazimir sitting on a white dressed… throne? One eyebrow quirks slightly upwards, and her eyes glitter with something that might be amusement before fading back to even lines again. She brushes her thumb over the cane and moves forward again, stepping over the cold floor and ignoring the birds up high. Those might enter the conversation later, at some point, but for now they were more mood than anything else. When she comes up to the dais she holds the cane up to Kazimir, resting over both hands, and the sensation brought to his innards is quite simple, if firm.

It's determination.

The footsteps do not rouse Kazimir from his silence, though their softness and grace are mistaken to belong to another young woman, that is until the furl of white cloth of her jacket comes into view in a broken piece of mirrored glass crooked up to rest againstone of the crates. The black scarf, the blonde hair, and that white streak. Kazimir's breath hitches in his throat as he leans back, watching Yvette approach slowly and hold aloft the very object he had charged her with repairing — his cane.

Blue eyes settle on the instrument, a gift from Ethan so long ago. It's a sign. But the bearer of this omen is not whom he expected, Mattias perhaps, or one of Rico's men, but not this. Never this. "You were not meant to come." His words strike like a hammer on stone, possessed of an adamancy and distaste only the tone of a parent can muster. The old and clearly wooden chair beneath the cloth creaks and groans as Kazimir rises up from it, his hands pushing against the shrouded arm rests.

"I gave you an order," Hard soled dress shoes thump with muffled report on the cloth-covered palettes as the black clad man strides towards where Yvette stands, much in the same way Amato once would. He hesitates in both speech and motion at that thought, and his feet do not take those final steps to begin descending from the makeshift dais. "Why?" No other would be given the chance to explain insubordination of this level, they would be as much dust, bone and ash. But Yvette, her insubordination time and again is forgiven. Kazimir's greatest weakness, his last vestige of humanity.

Yvette keeps the cane held in place, and doesn't move save for keeping her eyes on his. It's important, in a sense, that he takes it himself. She watches him step down from the chair, and move closer. She's not immune to the tone of his voice, he matters too much for that, but she had expected it. She was, after all, not supposed to be here. Not according to him. In reply to his question she looks at his face, his hands, the tired features of his skin, and then back again to his eyes. Her head tilts to the side, like a puppeteer cut off the string that holds it, and her eyes crinkle up again. Just a touch. A soft smile.

The determination remains within Kazimir, that soft tug at his gut, but it's soon accompanied by something else as well. A warm sensation. Caring. Protective. Where else would she be?

The cane remains on her hands still, and she stands there waiting. There are no others here, save for the birds, and maybe that's a good thing. No others are really supposed to see this thing. Haven't the eyes for it, or the mind to understand the reasons. Yvette waits.

Emotion, it is Yvette who can spur this decaying body of his to some semblance of life and emotive response. Chemical stimulus, endorphins, adrenaline, all are things he no longer needs to sustain his life. That black vapor coursing through every fiber of his being holds his withered frame together like some bizarre shell. But to feel again, to be allowed that spark of life in her presence, that is perhaps the most cherished gift of all. Perhaps that is why when her smile is concealed by the black of her scarf that Kazimir's black heart sinks deep into the pit of his stomach.

One foot comes down with a click of his sole on the concrete, then another. He takes the last few steps towards Yvette, reaching out carefully with his bare hands to take one light grasp at the middle of the cane. He hesitates n lifting it, letting his blue eyes meet her crimson ones. There's hesitation, nervousness, things he is so unused to feeling. When he lifts the cane up from her hands, it is not simply the cowled smile that has moved his hand, it is her knowing look. That she has come here to be someone he can lean on, one he can trust unquestioningly. To Kazimir, there is no greater pride than being truly out-thought by one's pupil, and for all of his inverse that she is, Yvette clearly has surrogate father's keen intellect.

Taking the cane in hand, Kazimir holds it aloft, regarding the wolf's head and the slight gouge in the steel at its brow. One hand holds the haft of the cane, the other the steel grip below the wolf's head, and with a twist he unsheaths the sword from within the hollow of the cane, a rapier-thin blade that reflects the dim light clearly. Not a single sign of the split in the blade from before — whole. Grigori's unique talent, truly a masterpiece.

"I will not insult your efforts by dismissing you." He knows better than to think she would oblige in any case, and some part of him does want her here, but it conflicts with what he knows is coming. What he did not want her to witness. "Ethan Holden is here," Blue eyes move from the blade to Yvette, "He will be your caretaker and guardian until such a time as I can secure more… appropriate accompaniment. This is not Europe, this is not our land." As much as he can claim that Europe is, at any rate.

Maybe not to sustain his life, but Yvette is rather sure it is needed to keep on living. Irony, then, that this is exactly what he's working to finish. Making sure neither of them, nor any of their kind, are left walking around this planet. It doesn't matter too much at the moment, though. Her gloved hands fall back to her sides, dropped carelessly, and she too looks at the razor sharp blade. The pain it caused, last time used, was exquisite. Held perfectly, or nearly so, and then released back again.. it's perhaps not the most cheerful memory, but a treasured one none the less.

She raises one eyebrow slightly at the mentioning of a caretaker, though. A guardian. This might not be Europe, but the suggestion is.. interesting, for several reasons. There's a slight nod, recognizing Ethan's name, though the question remains none the less. Questioning. That is what she transfers to Kazimir. Not rejection or argument, which is an important distinction. To suggest she needed a caretaker was just one part of it, but that there were several people he trusted with the task was perhaps even more so. She herself preferred to take care of that on her own, but it would sort itself out with time.

"As I said," Kazimir notes on her query, "This is not our home. We are less numerous, we have enemies on all sides." His pale eyes move to focus on one of the broken mirrors scattered about the warehouse, crooked and angled pieces of glass that seem to show reflections of other angled and seemingly randomly placed shards. "I am merely being cautious." Perhaps overly so, but given the crater at the midst of this city, perhaps not. Sheathing the sword back into the cane, Kazimir snaps the blade into a locked position, then reaches into his suit coat pocket to retrieve a cell phone contained within a plastic bag with a wire mesh inlaid to the material. "These are… unfortunately temporary arrangements. Like the bank accounts, our communications tools were disabeled, and we are forced to use more modern phone technology, which leads to a host of…" Kazimir's lip curls up into a momentary snarl, "Unfortunate security holes." He holds the plastic bagged phone out in one hand. "The bag works like a Faraday cage, while within the phone will not transmit or recieve under any circumstances. When not in use, it should be kept sealed. The phones are never to be turned on at a location that should not be comprismised."

His eyes drift down to the phone, then up to Yvette's red gaze, "It is mine, but for now I would feel more secure knowing you have it. Ethan and others are listed in the directory by their call signs." At the moment, Kazimir can not even begin to realize the information he is handing to Yvette, and the significence of one unfamiliar name among them all in his directory that she will find — Gabriel.

Yvette listens to the security measures patiently, and nods to the part about not using the phones where it's not safe. When she accepts it, though, it's held carefully between two fingers and dangled above the ground. She eyes it carefully, with clear mirth glittering in her eyes. Cellphones. Or, phones in general! For obvious reasons they hadn't been things she used a lot, and definitely not before the days of text messaging. It's a big thing to give her, especially the difficulty in separating her typing from Kazimir's.

It's tucked away among her clothes.

With the issues of her security taken care of she returns her attention back to his eyes again, and with a very much gloved hand she reaches out to put her hand on his chest. Fingers splayed wide, and her pink eyes locked on his. The soft ripples of caring tug at his insides again, but stronger this time. Obviously, her goal with coming here was not to keep herself whole and secure, though she can see it as a priority in his mind.

"Ever the worrier." There's a momentary smile on Kazimir's face, and unlike the times he has smiled to members of the Vanguard, this guarded moment is one of honesty. He looks down to the gloved hand at his chest, eyes closing for but a moment to recall a time when that heart which slowly, tiredly beats in his chest belonged to him. But in truth, does the black heart beating in his chest belong to the host body of Richard Santiago, or does it belong to the young woman standing before him.

"There is a young member of our order whom I believe you have not met." Kazimir's eyes shift to the side, "Her name is Eileen, but her call-sign is Munin. She's not much younger than you, and I feel it would be…" An awkward attempt at the pretense of parenthood, "You and she may be able to relate some." To Kazimir, Munin is the only source of that hint of humanity that Yvette brings out in him. Together, he feels they would be good for one another, but what they could do together to Kazimir is another notion entirely.

"For now, contact only Ethan by phone. Most of the other operatives are…" He waves one hand indistinctly at the air, "Otherwise engaged or under assignment from Ethan. You will be his responsibility, whether you wish that or not and I will be letting him know this." Kazimir's head cants slightly to the side, "Whether he likes it, or not."

While it's not quite an answer to her question, it's enough of one to suit her purposes. Besides, Yvette never did rely too much on words to get her point across. Why rely too heavily on them when it came to understanding others, then? She lifts one shoulder in reply to being a worrier. It's the way things are, and nothing to fret much about. The hand is pulled back again, and she nods a little bit to the description of the other young woman. Munin. She'd have to remember that. There's laughter in her eyes again, though.

It was good to be home.

That she'll be someone's responsibility isn't something she even responds to. That will come as it will, and how she handles it will depend on Ethan. It's not something to go around deciding ahead of time, really. She turns her head a bit, looking around the room, and then returns her attention to Kaz again. First, she points down at the floor, and holds up one finger. There's a pause, and then, with raised eyebrow and the question tugging at his gut, she signs two, three, four as well.

Kazimir watches as Yvette leans away, eyes following her wherever she moves. He looks down at the cane for a moment, regarding the wolf's head, and then his attention is grasped by Yvette's hand signs, and Kazimir's expression becomes more stoic than before. Much as a parent can tell when a child is lying, so too can Yvette tell when Kazimir isn't being entirely forthcoming with her. "This warehouse and the buildings on the lot are the only direct facilities we have in the city, all off of our books." He takes a step away from her, adopting his more business manner.

"Beyond this, Ethan, Amato, and Elias have seperate residences all their own." His footsteps as he moves along the periphery of the warehouse floor next to the dais are slow and hollow sounding. "The primary Eagle Electric machine floor will soon be converted into a laboratory, however. I…" He hesitates, he's hiding something, "Recommend you steer clear of there."

Yvette definitely quirks an eyebrow at that, and the tug in Kazimir's gut this time is quite simple. Disbelief. There's even a slight frown on her face, because of the attempted lie. Or witholding of information, while trying to make it appear as if he isn't. However, her features smooth themselves out quickly enough, and she glides up towards the chair. Brushing fingers along the white fabric, and prodding her toe against the pallets it stands against. Then she stomps her foot down on the hollow sounding floor, just once. It's enough to make her point. She might no know what is down there, but it's clearly something. And don't try and pretend you're not keeping things from her. The feeling of determination is back, as well. She didn't come to be coddled.

"I would also recommend staying away from the…personage whom will occupy it," comes a voice muddled by years of travel. Amato steps out of some shadowy spot near the rear of the warehouse's depths, the only plausible explanation for his sudden appearance being that he was upstairs for some reason or another. He is dressed as is his custom, and is likely immediately recognizable to Yvette by this alone. The only difference is that his shirt and tie, rather than being respectively white and red, are both as black as the shadows he has emerged from.

"Unless," he adds with a dry tilt of his head, the picture of nonchalance and apathy, "you find yourself requiring to do otherwise." The smallest of smiles ghosts across Amato's pale and drawn face as he nears Yvette. "I did not know you had arrived. It must be coming together then. Piece by piece."

At Amato's voice, Kazimir turns towards the sound, head tilting to the side as one gray brow raises, "My Consience," He intones, letting his eyes settle on Yvette, then Amato. "It has been far too long since we have seen one another. But with all your good work, some rest has been earned." Kazimir seems moderately familiar with Amato, familiar enough to lower his guard some and relax in a way close to the way he does around Yvette.

"Things are progressing as planned, though…" His eyes track to Yvette again, then back to Amato once more. "Her presence here has been an unexpected…" He chooses his next word carefully, "Blessing." There's a modest sense of ruffled feathers about her intrusion into the Work, but it is mild.

"It would seem that my attempts at keeping Yvette out of the eye of our Work is no longer necessary. For all I wished that I had not needed to call on her in Russia as I did back then…" He turns to face her motioning with one hand, "You deserve to know the truth now." As the hand lowers, his fingers curl as if to beckon the young girl closer. "Amato, I would like to introduce you to Yvette Volken." The name strikes like a gunshot, despite the low and gravley tone of his voice. "My daughter." A well-kept secret, perhaps one of the Vanguard's best.

Yvette drops the topic of discussion she held with Kazimir as easily as if it had never been there, and when Amato enters she takes a step closer to Kazimir while turning to face Amato. She offers the newly arrived man a bit of a bow of her head, in greeting. It's a pleasure, clearly. When she straightens up again it's with a slight oddity in her pattern of movement, as if tied to half broken strings from a puppeteer. She studies him closely, wondering about the manner of his call sign. Conscience. It takes a lot to earn that kind of thing, not to mention the slight relaxation in guard.

That name, even before the clarification that follows, echoes in Amato's head. At the word 'introduce', the Italian had taken his hand from his pocket, ungloved and ready for his subtle way of really getting to know someone, but at the sound of that name, he quickly returns it and nods politely, swallowing back all of the questions that rise up like a flood inside him.

"Wouldn't the eye be the safest place, Master?" he asks, letting his exchange with Yvette remain silent, if only because she had chosen not to speak. "We shall cleanse the world, but someone has to tend the fire to ensure purification?" It is a Biblical reference, even if it is a vague one. "Here, she is at least one of the tenders to begin with. Out of the fire for a time." Or would Kazimir sacrifice the mission in this one case?

Kazimir's tongue rolls across his teeth under his lips in a thoughtful if not somewhat tense expression. "Yvette's safety…" His lips press together to form a thin line, "For now, yes. Perhaps it is best if she's here." That much both Yvette and Amato are certain isn't the truth, and while both have had different degrees of familiarity with Kazimir, they can tell to an extent when he is being evasive, when his guard goes back up. "I have charged Ethan with the task of overseeing her well-being until I can call on a sufficient bodyguard from our overseas assets."

Kazimir turns at his waist, regarding Amato for a moment, then Yvette. "Amato is my closest confidant, privy to more information on my work than any other. You can trust him explicitely, just as I do. While Ethan may be your…" He uses the term almost jokingly now, "Caretaker," His eyes settle on Amato, "Amato I would trust with your life without hesitation."

Taking a few steps forward, Kazimir moves up onto the dais turning to regard to two once he is there. "Yvette will require lodging, which Ethan should provide, but in the meantime if you two would like to aquaint yourselves, I will not object. I will be meeting Elias shortly, I have some errands to run outside of the city that cannot wait." Such is always the case, one plot layering atop another…

…even now.

December 16th: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
December 16th: Full Blown Woman
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