To Fool an Inquisition


amato_icon.gif kazimir_icon.gif munin_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title To Fool an Inquisition
Synopsis Tamara's wanderings bring her to an interesting place populated by interesting people.
Date October 4, 2008

Eagle Electric — Warehouse

Long Island City, a run-down neighborhood on the western edge of Queens, just across the water from Manhattan. From here, the skyline that was changed forever by the bomb is a constant reminder of what once was. A window into the past as well as a scathing reminder of the present. The waterfront area is a largely industrial area, riddled with freight train stops, warehouses and shipping companies; the vast majority of which have ceased operations or gone entirely out of business in the wake of the the bomb. While this neighboorhood was spared from the disastrous nuclear fallout, it was crippled by the equally disastrous economic fallout. Businesses closed left and right, leaving blocks of abandoned facilities all across the city. As the property values took a steep nose dive, so too did crime in the area rise. Now, rife with gangs and refugees, the once bustling region looks more like a ghost town.

Most notable of these collapses 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. It is in this facility, now, that new residents have come to take up roost. 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.

In truth, it now serves as home of a different kind. Through the open bay doors, stacks of old crates packed full of electronics hardware lay in disuse, covered in large, discolored white tarps. In the high rafters of the building, the cawing of birds can be heard day in and day out, the roof of the warehouse dotted with black birds.

Well after dusk's falling is not a usual time for people to be walking around in this neighborhood. Especially not girls still on the young side of twenty — and with tangled hair loose, a crimson scarf folded around neck and shoulders, and sandals on her feet, Tamara is easily pegged as young. She wanders down the street with her hands tucked in her pockets, passing in and out of the pools of light rather like some sort of ghost — dark clothing blending into the shadows when the poor lighting no longer reaches her. She pauses in the midst of a rather sickly orange light, lifting her gaze to the roof of the warehouse, where darkness induces the black birds to slumber, themselves just more shadows in the night.

The birds aren't the only shadows lurking around the warehouse. In comparison to the feminine shape perched on the hood of an old 1987 Honda Prelude, they're small, beady-eyed things of little significance. A single pinprick of red light stands out in the darkness — the tip of a clove cigarette, slowing burning between the long and slender fingers of a dark-haired youth who looks to be about Tamara's age. Munin's eyes aren't as sharp as some, but she has little difficulty picking Tamara out with the area as deserted as it is. Wordlessly she raises her other hand, fingers splayed, and waves to the other teen from afar as if to say: I see you. And now you can see me.

If only Munin knew. Is it the motion that draws Tamara's attention towards the other girl, or did she see it at all? Either way, her eyes drop to meet the green gaze regarding her, lips curving in a smile. They flick away soon after, surveying the spottily-illuminated street. She drifts towards the older teen, but not close — not close at all, steps halting at some seemingly predetermined distance, as though it were a line drawn on the pavement. No questions about why Munin is out here; no comment that the cigarettes will someday be the death of her. There's plenty of other concerns in this world. "What do they look like to you?" They? They who?

Most people might find themselves put off, or at least a little bewildered, by Tamara's question. Munin is not most people. She returns the other girl's smile as she takes a drag from her cigarette and then, careful not to get any in her face, blows the smoke out through her nostrils in a steady silver stream. "Them?" she asks in a soft voice that carries with it the faint hint of an English accent, lifting her gaze to the birds on the roof where Tamara was looking before she meandered over. "Cross, I s'pose. They can't help it, though. S'just the way God made their pointy little faces." A shrill whistle pierces the air, trilling an unspoken command that calls a single bird — the biggest of the bunch — down from the top of the warehouse. As it spreads its wings and glides swiftly downwards, it passes through a shaft of light that causes its feathers to gleam like jewels in the single instant they're illuminated. "Did you want to take a closer look?"

Most birds, unless they're nocturnal, don't fly after dark — don't do much at all, which is why falcons are hooded to keep them calm. But this one's flight is met with no surprise, just a pair of blue eyes tracking its motion. "Close, far. The mirror still sees." But recognizing the invitation, Tamara steps forward despite her statement, apparently unconcerned by the idea of proximity to the girl and her bird. Hands sliding out of her pockets and behind her back, the slightly-younger teen seems content to do exactly what was offered — look.

The raven, because that's what it is, lands on Munin's shoulders and ruffles its feathers, letting out a low croak of pleasure when the teen uses the tip of her index finger to stroke along its glossy back. "You can touch him if you'd like," she offers. "Bran's a good bird. A bit bossy, though — so mind your fingers and move real slow-like, else he might nip."

The pavement is still quite damp from the evening's previous rain, making Amato's footfalls a bit more audible as he wanders up the empty street. The slow curl of a smile can be seen even on his dimly lit face as he nears the building where the girls are waiting, but it would seem to be the only casual thing about him. "Ladies," he says in that oddly accented voice of his as he approaches, opening his gloved palms to them in welcome.

Thank goodness it rained and that it is getting just the slightest bit colder after sunset, or those gloves might seem out of place. But paired with a black leather long coat and one of Amato's trademark black suits, this one with a crimson tie, the Italian looks like any other New Yorker who is accustomed to trolling the Big Apple's streets at this hour of the night.

Avoiding the possibility of a nip is simple enough for Tamara; a slow upward glide of her hand, a brush of fingertips against the raven's feathers. "He tickles." A pause. "Hello," she greets to Amato, turning around to face him only afterwards. The sudden arrival of a stranger behind her is met with the same equanimity as the bird's flight. "Does he tickle you?"

Bran tilts his head and slides the side of his beak along Tamara's finger, making a noise that sounds suspiciously like chortling. "He likes you," Munin tells Tamara, bemused. "Odd. He doesn't usually like anyone." To Amato, she says nothing. Instead, she simply raises her eyes to his and offers him a tiny, if tender, smile. His appearance doesn't startle her — she's been expecting him — but the fact that Tamara isn't surprised by it does. She falls silent, her cool stare more pensive than it was a few moments ago.

With the niceties out of the way, Amato's own expression grows significantly colder. "And who is this?" he asks in an almost condescending tone as he eyes Tamara with guarded interest. "Where did you find her?" While the first question could easily be mistaken as directed at Tamara, the second is clearly addressed to Munin, as Amato turns slowly narrowing eyes on the young woman, almost as if she were a naughty child.

Brushing her finger against the raven's beak in return, Tamara's smile broadens. "He's very pretty. Even in the black." Perhaps she's so calm about the strangers because she can't imagine their danger. The juxtaposition of scarf and sandals, not to mention her choice of conversation topics, seems to support this. But the girl's dark eyes shift to Amato, her head tilted slightly to one side. "She was right here! The bird-lady." And she smiles at the man, cheerful, deceptively innocent.

"She's a little lost, Amato," Munin says, as though that explains everything. There's something significant about the way she shifts her gaze from Amato to the other teen, the corners of her mouth turning down into a thoughtful expression that isn't quite a frown. "Bran seems to think she's all right. Kazimir too, I expect. He hasn't come out to rail at her yet."

"I think we'd all like to avoid being 'railed' at," Amato muses for a moment, regarding Tamara as if passing some internal judgment. The results of it must not be too bad, for in another moment, Amato is striding passed the ladies to the door, which he soon holds open for them in turn. "Let's not keep him waiting."

The younger teen blinks at Munin, creases gathering on her brow. "Am I lost?" She looks down at the street, toes of one foot scuffing the pavement experimentally. The lines deepen, as though the answer received from that action was not the desired one. But her attention shifts as Amato makes his decision, and Tamara studies the door. Choices. Possibilities. And she walks through it without further question, without hesitation — without fear. If her death is a possibility here, it is not too strong; and there are far worse fates to have on the horizon, besides.

Mindful of the raven perched on her shoulder, Munin slides off the hood of the car, tosses her cigarette to the ground and uses the toe of her boot to grind it into the gravel underfoot. She hasn't asked Kazimir about smoking inside the warehouse, but like Amato says — she too tries to avoid incurring Kazimir's wrath when she can. "He's been hard at work today," she says quietly, her words meant for only Amato's ears. "'ave you seen the evening news?"

As the three enter the warehouse in conversation, the sound of footsteps carry far due to the expansive nature of the architecture. While much of the warehouse floor is filled with abandoned cargo belonging to the former residents, one large portion once used for loading and unloading of cargo has become something of a makeshift meeting place. Several wooden palettes that once held crates are left unburdened, covered haphazardly with the same white cloth tarps that cover much of the contents of the warehouse. With the interior lights are off, the exterior lighting diffusely enters the structure through the high and narrow windows, creating patterns of shadow and light on the white unevenly arranged surface of the cloth tarp.

In the middle of this open area, a single high-backed chair, looking out of place amidst the forklifts and crates beyond, is swathed in the same white cloth as the palletes, giving it a shrouded silhouette. Atop the chair, a weary looking gentleman sits with one hand resting against his brow, head inclined. A black cane lays over his lap, capped with brushed steel on both ends, one end of which shaped like a wolf's head. He often comes here, when no others are around, to sit and think amongst the birds that gather overhead in the steel rafters.

"Ah," He moves his hand away from his face, straightening at the sound of approaching footsteps, voice as rough and worn as his features. "My conscience." He greets Amato's emergence into the warehouse with a measured smile, his rough tone of voice lightening some. The dark-haired girl following him meets with equal, if not somewhat more jovial of a greeting. "Memory, the warder of the brain." Shakespeare, often his favored quotable, notably Macbeth. This time, though, it is spoken in playful jest of Munin's name. Slowly, the gray-haired man straightens in his chair as he makes out the form of another approaching with his expected, eyes narrowing as a considering and contemplative look takes dominance in his features. "Munin," The light around the old man seems to bloom some, as if some gauzy veil had been removed, "Have you flown and returned with Hugin?" He feigns humor in light of the arrival, "I wasn't expecting anyone, but far be it from me to be rude to a guest." The gray-haired man rises from his chair, taking a few steps forward, cane swinging out to tap down on the wooden palette beneath the cloth. His position here on the wood elevates him just enough, as if emulating something akin to a dais. "I am Kazimir Volken, my darling bird." His eyes wander Tamara for a moment, "What do the shadows call you?"

Amato merely nods as the ladies move passed him and in response to Munin, though when the cigarette is brought into play, the frown he'd been hiding concerning it's presence in the first place twitches to the surface for a second. Any reply he may have had for her is cut off by their master's welcome, at which Amato cannot help but smile, though it is close-lipped and humble. He turns his attention to Tamara when she is addressed, keeping his thoughts to himself as she is questioned by Kazimir.

Fingers toying with the scarlet fringe on her scarf as she walks through the warehouse, Tamara looks at the forklifts, the pallets and crates, the high reach of the bird-bedecked ceiling — all of it regarded with as much bright interest as a tourist might survey a cathedral or other work of architectural art. "As many as the shadows. They all have different names, you know. Sometimes just a little bit, and they blurred together. Then it was easy to lose names." The echoes from her footsteps cease as the teen comes to a halt, gaze settling upon Kazimir, perfectly steady despite the rambling words and walk. "Others glitter sharp and bright; shattered glass in the sunlight. Your shadows called me Tamara."

Munin adopts a position near the entrance of the warehouse, not to keep watch — but to feel the draft whipping in from the outside, gently tousling her already windswept hair. She knows better than to interrupt Kazimir while he's interviewing Tamara, and so she keeps quiet and allows herself to become a part of the background. If either he or Amato needs her, she and Bran will be there.

Grayed brows raise as he listens to Tamara, and Kazimir's head tilts to the side in an inspecting manner, not much unlike the way one of Munin's birds would regard something. He steps down off of the palette, coming a few steps closer, but there's still a divide between he and the trio, a certain lack of intimacy at this distance, one which requires the aging man to project his voice just enough to let it carry about the open room clearly. "You have a keen way with words, Fraulein Tamara." Leaning his weight on the head of his cane as the tip strikes the concrete underfoot, Kazimir regards Amato for a moment, "Inspect her, if you would." It is a rather clinical term for Amato's own gift, and the ruthless way in which Kazimir calls out the order seems to belie his affable mood, revealing his suspicions about the guest with a poetic tongue.

"Gladly," is the only word that precedes the nearly silent removal of Amato's gloves. He slips both into his coat pocket before rubbing his palms together in preparation. Tightening his jaw, the man reaches out with his right hand. In any other setting, he might be asking a debutante to dance. "Tamara, your hand, if you would be so kind." Just because he was ordered doesn't mean he has to be brutal about it, after all. At least, not in this case.

A turn in place; a half-step; and Tamara lifts her hand with all the grace that befits that other setting… but stops before completing the contact. Her gaze upon Amato is level and dark, the blue of her eyes mere rings around wide pupils, expression intently serious. "Yours to ask. You're certain you wanted it?" A warning, oblique in nature; a chance for Kazimir to relent and Amato to back away. "Go lightly if you must," the girl adds softly.

There is a reason why Kazimir calls Amato his conscience, and his gentle interpretation of his otherwise harsh order is met with approval. Though it doesn't show visibly, for Kazimir is a man who is often guilty of having a consistently dour countenance. The lack of a frown, though, iis proof enough that he was not displeased. With Kazimir, it is often the best one can hope for, a lack of disapproval. It is Tamara's manner of wording her agreement that seems to only further intrigue Kazimir. "Amato is nothing," He begins with his rough tone of voice, "If not gentle." Both hands now rest on the head of his cane, observing this with a heightened interest, though his blue gaze does wander for a moment to Munin's distant silhouette, as if reassuring himself that she was close by, before watching Amato and Tamara again.

There is often such a warning before Amato steps into the mind of the sinful, and so he takes this one in stride with a reassuring nod and smile. As gentle as he may be, it is for his own sake, not that of his subject. Amato lifts his hand a bit further to take Tamara's in his own, and in the same instant that his skin touches hers, Amato's pale eyes shut sharply. Part of the motion is habit, but the larger portion is necessity.

Of all the expressions to cross Tamara's face as Amato takes her hand, a compassionate flavor of regret is probably not the one Kazimir expected. "I'm sorry," she whispers — for to step into memory is one thing, but when that road of memory has been turned utterly around, running in the opposite direction… and his ability is such that she can't even do anything more to help him endure it.

Everything is possible — and no choice of Tamara's is made without full knowledge of her actions and purpose. That Amato's vision is skewed only to 'sins'… probably doesn't help much against the flood. The vast majority are no worse than average, small and venial things — but while Tamara tries to avoid doing harm, the possibility of murder remains. Most peculiar of all, aside from the sheer torrent of may-yet-be, is that the images come in blocks of subtle variations upon the same scenes — and the clearest involve the trio with her now, despite them never having met Tamara before.

The customary shiver runs through Amato, as if he had been holding his breath during his contact with Tamara, and he is slow to open his eyes. When he does, they settle immediately on the older man.

"She is," he begins, his brow knitting as he searches for the best word. "Muddled. As if all of the choices free will provides exist at once for her - she remembers them all, though…it is impossible to tell which she has done." Amato frowns, taking a moment to bow and shake his head, obviously ruffled at his inability to clearly judge Tamara as he is so many others. "There is murder, though. The gravest of all her sins. And even the spark of wrath is punishable, sir." In this last, Amato's customary fire rekindles itself, though the flame is weaker than normal.

One brow slowly raises at Amato's explanation, and it is the unusual matter of the girl's very nature that seems to speak to Kazimir the most. Remaining thoughtfully silent for a beat, he takes another step forward towards the pair. There is a reassurance in Amato's explanation, and a confidence renewed in Kazimir as the steel tip of his cane clicks on the concrete in pace with the clack of his shoes. "A mask fitting to fool an inquisition," Kazimir inclines his head in a nod to Tamara, lifting his cane up and hooking it beneath one arm as he slides his other hand into the pocket of his slacks.

"If you came here on happenstance, I regret to inform you of the unfortunate decision on your part that was made…" Regarding the girl for a moment, Kazimir's pale blue eyes meet with the darkness of Tamara's, and in that meeting he finds the words he searches for. "Chance, if my dear conscience's words are to be taken at face value, does not strike me as something you broker in though, Frau Tamara." He's chosen for a more dignified, more mature manner in which to address the girl. "Why did you come here, of all the places you could?"

Sensing Munin's discomfort, Bran beats his wings a few times and readjusts his feet's grip on the knitted fabric of the sweater she wears for warmth. To calm him, she reaches up and takes the raven in her arms, cradling him against her breast the same way a doting mother might hold her child. It isn't the proper way to hold a bird, but it seems to settle him down both quickly and quietly enough. When she's satisfied that he isn't going to cause a fuss, she tosses him into the air and allows him to rejoin his fellows in the rafters high above their heads. The vantage point is better up there, anyway.

Wrath, however, is one thing Tamara lacks. Withdrawing her hand, she shields it behind the end of her scarf, though the odds of Amato daring her touch again are extremely slim. Her gaze is thoughtful as she considers his words. "You know this?" But then what was she warning him of, earlier?

That wistful tone disappears entirely as the teen's attention turns to Kazimir. Not fear, not confidence, not pride or arrogance; one corner of her mouth tugs back in a crooked, rueful smile. "You are chance; the mirror is certain." That seems to be an agreement, of some sort. The hand that Amato held is shaken free of the scarf, and not quite extended, but raised where it could be grasped if Kazimir chose to close the distance and take it. If he chose to kill. Not that the contact is necessary… but Tamara deems that the gesture is. "Not for you," she admits. Honesty is one of her usual traits. So is fitting those honest words to the audience. "For the shadows. For the road that stretches on. To see the sunrise is to pass through the forest — and if the trail fades, the thickets binding, that was chance. The chance of the river, and it moved on."

As quietly as one of Munin's birds on the wing, Amato slips back with a bow, his role and part executed for the evening. No greater wisdom could be gained from touching the girl again, unless she were to sin here before them, but then there would be no point. He lingers, however, closer to the door and Munin.

Kazimir eyes the hand, watching Tamara carefully for a time before tilting his head back as if to regard the girl from a different angle. He is silent in thought as she speaks, eyes only briefly diverting to watch Bran soar up into the rafters overhead, then back again to the perplexing young woman. "I've seen the look you have in your eyes, years ago." Kazimir looks down to the offered hand again, reaching inside of his suit jacket to retrieve a black leather glove, pulling it tight over his right hand while his arm pins that cane beneath his bicep to his side. "In Brazil, nineteen…" His eyes close partway, fingers flexing with the glove on as if to test the leather, "Nineteen sixty-seven, I'd hazard a guess."

Slowly, the much older man walks forward, clearing the distance between he and Tamara slowly. "It was a young girl, not much younger than you I'd wager. She wrote songs, beautiful heavenly songs, had the voice of an angel that girl." His bare hand withdraws the cane, letting the tip strike the concrete as he leans on it, "She wrote songs, songs that foretold the future. Beautiful things, they were. Songs that would sing of war and strife, with the lilting voice of an angel. Like spitting up blood on silk." Kazimir holds out his gloved hand towards the dark-eyed girl. "She looked at me the same way you do," Inclining his head, Kazimir levels his blue eyes to her, gloved palm turning as if to welcome her bare hand into it. "She's dead now. I've want to wonder if your bargain plays out the same." Now it is he making the invitation.

The gloved hand is safe, and so Tamara does for Kazimir what she did not for Amato — she sets her hand in his, meeting his regard with a gentle smile. "All faded in its time, swallowed by the river. But not today."

October 4th: Dangerous Waters

Previously in this storyline…
Dangerous Waters

Next in this storyline…
The Cliff Notes Version

October 5th: Brainwashed is as Brainwashed Does
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