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Vladimir Alexandrov

Location: Gretna Green, Church
Skills: Fal'shbort (Passive), Tretiy Glaz (Passive), English

The strangeness of the day continued. On an up note, the ferret was okay. It was strange to think about, but the ferret coming out of all this safe and sound really did elevate Vladimir's spirits in ways most imperceptible to others but highly impactful for the ordinarily very open performer. Perhaps it was everything else going on that prevented additional commentary on the subject of the Dieter. Maybe it was the flower, or the haunting voice in the air. Perhaps the stillness of the air which accompanied this next potential development, holding its big pregnant pause as if it would drop an event-baby so massive the doctor would have to get a running start to slap its ass. But then Vlad looked to Veta, and to Virginia, who had already joined hands. He had no idea what they were on about or what was going to happen, but something, something, was. Something potentially permanent. Oh, what little piece of adventure remained to them today?

Virginia handed off the control of her holdings to the lady they had just rescued. Well, good on her. It had a nice round bit of finality to it, kind of. Of course now, it looked very much like the big quest to save Millicent that had claimed lives already, good, decent, strong people who had done much for their fellow Soulled, was a footnote. Not that they had died for nothing, had they? Would their presence or absence have changed anything between the woman and Rutherford? The battle in the Church? Maybe it was for nothing, or merely incidental. Maybe it was to get this set of circumstances together, for whatever good or ill it would cause. But destiny had provided this opportunity for ...whatever the hell was happening, and he'd be damned if he was going to suddenly be the Voice of Reason and stop it. This was just too damned good.

"Circus... vill do fine vithout Great Bazhooli. If ve fall, or if time and distance prevent return of Great Bazhooli, another vill be tapped. Baron Alexandrov vill still run things, sons vill carry line, and there vill alvays be Great Bazhooli." Such a feeling of permanence here, as if operating with the hint of something massive to come. It wasn't everyday that a spectral voice hints at something cryptic and one's sovereign makes an odd request of you in a ritualized fashion while a super rare flower blossoms and wilts in the space of seconds.

Vladimir strode over to Elizaveta and took her hand. He gave a hard flourish with his open hand and snapped his fingers, a handsbreadth of blade sliding upwards from his fingers in the process which he then tapped on the brim of his very fine, very tall hat. A giddy but dark smile began to form on his face and he nodded in the direction of Veta, and then Virginia. This was it. "Ladies & Gentlemen, Madames & Sirs, Ladies & Lords alike, am thanking you for time and appreciation." He chuckled a little, a grave and sinister sound if ever there was one, inflected by decades of practice to build dramatic tension upon a moment, "Final Trick for viewing enjoyment, to vhisper about to friends, childrens, and any persons you vish to give envy, Great Bazhooli presents to you: Gologramma." If this was the end, it was best to go with style.

Gilbert Summers

Location: PE Fade Between (walking toward tree)
Skills: N/A

There was a fierce look in Gilbert's eyes as Judgement spoke. Contained behind a face otherwise seemingly at ease, smiling even, as if one was looking at a tiger pacing back and forth behind the bars of a cage, and that tiger was staring back with ravenous intentions. Pseudo-religious rhetoric that served to delay the outset of their journey, when in all honesty, Gilbert would much rather have been back at the Plantation, training the newer Paradoxes and working on Sophia's new hand like he damn well wanted them to do from the outset. Granted, no one could have done a thing about the collapse of time and space as they knew it, but at this point it was the principle of the thing. And now, he would rather be on his way to this reality's conception of Purgatory, or Punishment, or whatever dark and foreboding corner of metaphysical existence his family was in.

This was a revelation, of sorts. Gil knew full well when Evelina became aware of herself. The idea of Judgement was far older than that. Gilbert himself gained his consciousness at the dawn of human civilization, maybe giving him an increased appreciation for both Humanity and Civilization overall. It could even be said that these two concepts made him who he was, even though he was once a destroyer of both. But more to the point, this idea of Justice was a far older thing than civilization, ergo far older than himself. Which meant older than Evelina. And before this, the stranger in the blindfold was called "The Dice". Were there Emendators before him? He had always thought he was the first. How interesting.

Then again, this sort of conjecture was dangerous. Foolhardy. Immaterial to their present situation, even if a shred of it was correct. Good to file away for later. And yet, this seemed so familiar somehow. It always was, during what he referred to as his "First Lifetime", that whenever he went on some epically heroic undertaking, a woman would preset herself in a cryptic manner as a guide or to test him, even if that test was merely resolve. The full meaning of the words spoken were rarely apparent until some time after.

Wait, was there another Hat before him? What kind of an asshole was he like?

Questions aside, there was literally only one place for them to go now. Choice made. Gilbert tipped his cap in the general direction of the place where Judgement had disappeared, intoning, "Madame," and turning back in the direction he was heading to begin with. "I agree with The Watch," he stated flatly, and looked to the Paradoxes in the group, nodding knowingly before setting back off. Perhaps it was that he agreed with or knew of their confusion, it was hard to say from so vague a motion.

The concerns of Andromeda did draw more out of him, though his voice was more tense than usual as he spoke. "You are right to question, Andromeda. Please do not come to conclusions too quickly. None of us knows how this works. Not really. I can tell you this: That was not Evelina. She is in that direction," he motioned toward the tree in the distance, "and she is very far away by my ability to detect. She said that long before she was Justice, she was called The Dice. The true implications I can only suspect." Oh, but he did have his suspicions.

The idea of Gil becoming Ares did bring a slight smile to his face, though it was short lived. "Ares? Never met her." But he did offer, "In a way, you might be correct. The commonly accepted idea of Ares took a little influence from me. I believe that I am prettier." Sarcasm, disarming or no, probably didn't help their situation. "Apologies. Yes, that happened. She is gone now, and our course has not changed. If you wish to continue discussing it, please, let us do so as we walk." He continued along his path, speaking still, "I do not believe I will ever be deified, if that is what you are asking. Humanity tried the first time, and they were apparently only partly successful."

Caesar Gonzalez

Location: DTB Fade Between
Skills: N/A

The local girl, if indeed anyone was "local" in this place, seemed ever so slightly put out at the prospect of conversing with the new arrivals. At least that's how it looked to Caesar. Not that he really blamed her, for him to want to converse with anyone who wasn't of use to him (or to whom he was personally close) when he didn't have to was tiresome more often than not. This Kyra, at a glance, seemed to have a distinct lack of fucks left in her fuck-quiver to fire at a quartet of people who appeared in this place with absolutely nothing of use to her. The decision to likewise not fire actual arrows was taken as the neutral half of good news. It worked well enough for him. She had the barest of information for them, they had nothing really useful for her aside from a break from the very busy day she must be having doing... whatever it was that one does in this place.

As for Caesar, what he wanted to do with this place was leave it. First things first, get out of the open and take stock of their resources. Maybe get a lay of the land. There was a way in, and thusly there must be a way out. It stood to reason, and besides that there had to be an overall goal to work toward, if only to keep the more nervous of their group from doing something foolish. Looking back at the people he was involuntarily traveling with, that could be any one of them. So much as someone would have to eventually step up and assert themselves if they wanted to keep the group together, that was not going to be him right now. He would have to have reason to or responsibility for, neither of which he had on him at present. Of course, there was the fact that none of them belonged here, wherever "here" was. And he did know two of them personally, if more of acquaintances than actual friends. And the guy who was with that research lady... fine. That would make them innocents affected by whatever the hell got him, too. That might change things, until one of them pissed him off. Ah, these ethical quandaries did tend to make one's head ache. For now, the person they were following was the wolf-lady. That was good enough for him right now.

Following along with Kyra, Caesar kept his eyes to the ground and shotgun at the ready. He wanted to get an idea of anything that might be native to this place, human, animal, whatever. Figuring that the wolf would likely show some manner of response if a threat was detected, he kept a good chunk of his attention studying the ground. Once, he said aloud with a soft, low voice, "Robert," his eyes glancing in his direction briefly as he moved along, "Your boss find out anything for me?"

Absently, Caesar reached into his vest and pulled out a large silver flask. He grunted in Kyra's direction and held it out to her, flatly intoning, "Tequila." Might as well make some sort of gesture. She was giving them help, after all.

Ash Holloway

Location: N5 (Street) -> L5 (Mess Hall)
Skills: N/A

Ash was careful. Not generally known for being the absolute pinnacle of human agility, he was more than competent to hoist a lady recovering from physical trauma into a passable piggyback ride, most especially if that someone was Thana. On the one hand, it seemed a little childlike, offering to carry someone on their back and have them steer you like a horsey, but on the other hand Ash didn't give a rat's hindparts what anyone else thought about it; he was going to make sure that she traveled as comfortably as possible and stayed off that leg. "I aim to please," he responded as she climbed aboard, and when given the destination and a rough direction, Ash was underway as swiftly as he could while still being careful with his precious cargo. Admittedly, there was something morale-lifting about playing personal transport for Thana. And he did like being useful.

Once they reached the building in question and Ash set her down, he took a more subordinate posture. He deferred to her direction upon entering and matching the speed of her pace; nearby in case she wanted help yet not insisting upon giving it. Moreover, he took to her example when getting food for himself. Moderation was something he was a big fan of, particularly as it concerned getting yourself too expectant about a food source. Hunters often went home hungry. It was just how things were. Plus, there was that event later in the evening. He'd said that he would attend and promised a dance. If there happened to be a crab or three that met an early demise, he'd feel obligated not to let it go to waste. It seemed that there was a lot that he could pick up from these people about food sourcing and energy production, and he had all the time in the world to figure it out.

What amazed Ash most was that, in the face of new surroundings and a totally new social dynamic, the people of his group saw fit to separate almost completely and filter into other knots of people. Considering the time they spent covering each others' backs, he might have figured that they would, for the most part, stay close to each other. He would have been wrong. Acclimation or a desire to fit in notwithstanding, the former Newnan group was splitting into component parts. Ash noted it with a sigh. New groups were being formed. It was interesting to see how they came together. Very notably in his estimation was the almost silent buddying-up of Wayne, Hank, and ...Thana's father? Wow, he did not see that coming. As for himself, Ash took a chair next to Thana, otherwise away from the rest of the Camp.

When the topic of securing permission to visit the gravesite was broached, Ash slowly shook his head to the affirmative. "Thank you," he said quietly, in response. "That'd be a hell of a nice thing, if he'd let us." It was a sad truth that they were denied an opportunity to say goodbye to those they had lost. Before he dug into the simple repast on the tray in front of him, Ash reached over and gave Thana's hand a little squeeze. For no reason in particular, he looked into her eyes and gave a warm, quiet, "Thanks." He was grateful for the moment and the circumstances that led up to it, ideal or not.

Thalia Carmichael

Location: M6 (Tram Parking Lot) -> L5 (Mess Hall)
Skills: N/A

Thalia couldn't glare quite as good as her father, or God forbid, her uncle. They were cut of a glare-worthy cloth that she merely adopted, ever the reminder that even though she was of the bloodline Thalia would always be something of her own person. The way they handled the Apocalypse was proof of this. Though it wasn't an entirely fair a statement to make, she was still alive and they were not. Hell, for all she knew, her father (the Father) was still alive down in Mexico. She still hadn't gotten the full answers she wanted from Army Captain about how Caesar died. That was something to readdress. A guy like that doesn't go down quiet.

But back to the point, the glare from the woman came more as a sort of potentially aggressive brood than an actual threatening expression. Perhaps that was for the best, though she didn't exactly want to give off the impression that she was somehow psychologically damaged from her time out in the world. It wouldn't be amazingly far from the truth, if she took to the idea with objectivity. It definitely had changed who she was. Well, shaking off the implications of who she used to be and who she was now, along with a rising body count that might have made half of her blood relations proud and the other half horrified, Thalia contented herself to getting in line along with everybody else and figuring out the best way to set up a tray with one working hand and one inanimate steel club (damn spiffy one though).

Joaquin was sitting with others of Mexico Beach. She recognized them all by sight, but the only one she had anything similar to a conversation with, aside from her flamboyant sibling, was Shears. Even then it was rather abbreviated. Thalia didn't talk a whole lot on her best days, and being in the new situation that she was it was even less than usual. But the guy did do a good job with her hair. First things first - She moved to Joaquin and, still standing, addressed him. "Sé que tienes ...negocios... de qué hablar.1" She wasn't exactly sure which word to use to describe their discussion, but as she didn't even have a job there yet it probably didn't concern her. "Quiero que intercambiemos palabras sobre algo más tarde, ¿está bien, hermano?2 Okay." There was a look of determination in her eyes. Not quite impatience, as she'd shown more than a fair amount of patience waiting for conversations to happen over the past week and was beginning to feel very brushed off and a little angry.

Barely stopping, she looked to Shears and gave an almost (but not quite) monotone, "Thank you," motioning to her hair with her metal hand, recently cut and styled into a very respectable pixie bob, "Literally, the best haircut I've had in years." She couldn't remember if she'd shown any courtesy at all after he was done, earlier that week. "Later, then," said Thalia to the table overall, eyes looking about for a decent spot to sit with her back to a wall.

Vladimir Alexandrov

Location: Gretna Green, Church
Skills: Fal'shbort (Passive), Tretiy Glaz (Passive), English

Walking over to where his coat lay neatly folded upon a thankfully untouched pew along with his very tall and dignified hat, Vladimir heard the call from the British fellow who had give water to Veta. He was apparently concerned with the physical well being of those recently engaged in combat. If not so lucky or positioned in this battle, he was at least making a valiant attempt at courteous industry after the fact. Vlad responded as if the man was speaking to him directly, "Spasibo! Da, thanking you for attentions most medical. Having no need! Am Great Bazhooli! Strong in vays of Fal'shbort! Like bear, carved of vood, vith fur of coarse and shaggy irons! Vooden, iron bear vhich stabs and Mamushkas vith grace, vigorousness, and vodka, good sir." He bowed low from the waist and stretched his arms out wide, demonstrating both an apparent lack of injury and the sort of histrionic gratitude that one might expect from the man, if they knew him for even a few minutes. As he rose, he trailed a hand back to take his cot by its collar, ruffle the garment with a quick snap of his wrist, and slide it over himself. "Ah! There is hat..." Vladimir swept up his top hat, and with a flourish set it on his very dignified head. "Much better."

The women who performed the brunt of the acts of badassery seemed content to discuss the ramifications and implications of this creature and the fight against it, trading ideas and doing some guesswork on the topic. Vlad thought it best to stay to the outside of this for the meantime. It did not fall into his wheelhouse anyway. The Grand Duchess was being tended to by Constantin and, be it just a delivery of potable water, William. All the same, he felt the need to walk over to them to check for himself that Elizaveta was okay. At first, just a careful watch from a coupe of paces out, before stepping inwards and asking a series of avuncular questions, were he to see something potentially difficult that he believed she wasn't giving proper attention. But none of that was necessary. She seemed to be fine s far as he could tell at a glance, minus some profound fatigue.

Constantin asked an interesting question, however. "Da..." he said with some regard. "I know not vhat this vas. Astral energies flowing around us at all times, yes? Astral vorld is like reflection of ours, but cannot see. I saw something. This day I saw a thing which has disturbing qvalities; exists as vorld along vith ours, like Astral, but is solid vorld. Nothing vas there - no church, no fight, no person or monsters at all. Felt like had less and also had more inside, heavy on Great Bazhooli's spirit." Vladimir nodded solemnly, finishing up with, "Vhat bothers most? As Gologramma became part of me again, vas not like vhisper and smoke; vas solid. Hit like mule kicking chest. Is not supposed to do this. Something vith energies..." he gestured about, indicating everything around him, wrong." Supposition, of course. But he could not deny that something highly unusual had just happened to him.

Vlad allowed a moment for his words to settle in and for his eyes to take a darker, more ominous expression. Then just as suddenly, his face changed to the optimistic and he declared allowed, "More provisioning vith horse; great Brivaldi animal, Tolstoy!" He had ridden his horse into the church prior to the drama, which he pointed back toward now. "Vill fetch."

Gilbert Summers

Location: PE Fade Between (walking toward tree)
Skills: N/A

Decision made and moved toward. Period. End story. This was what was happening, and Gil was leading the way. For what seemed like only once in their recent careers as Emendators and Paradoxes did they set in the same direction with goal in mind. They were moving as one. So naturally, something had to present itself to fix that. Far be it for Gilbert to shake off or ignore the physical manifestation of one of mankind's primal concepts, despite his determined trudge in the direction of one of the trees nor his desire to get something accomplished in a gigantic sea of sidetracking nonsense. So casually Gilbert stopped, tipped his cap to the scales lady, and smiled in greeting.

The choice she gave to them all, Peace or Punishment, seemed a little moot for him. He was already headed in the direction he wanted to go, anyway, choice or not. The theatrics meant nothing to him. However, Gilbert could not fault the lady on style and presentation. It counted for a lot. He was pleased that the Paradoxes saw fit to choose Punishment. He had the vaguest of guesses as to what Peace might be, but it didn't matter. The other Emendators were not there, so he did not seek to travel toward Peace.

"I am curious, why is this is our decision? But it matters not. If you are what I think you are, then you already know the truth of me; where I go, Peace does not follow. It cannot remain. As sweet and desirable as Peace is, it is ever temporary. This is the truth of Gilgamesh of Uruk as much as it is Gilbert Summers.

He shifted his hat on his head "Our Sisters are in the direction I was headed. Punishment. That answers my requirement. Whether they are being punished or doing the punishing - one, both, either or none, I continue in the direction I chose. Humbly and with respect to you, Lady."

Caesar Gonzalez

Location: DTB Fade Between
Skills: N/A

If Caesar had been shown all that he was shown at once, he wouldn't have believed it. Perhaps the gradual revelation of this was necessary to allow his brain to process the things he had been made witness to, starting with something that was familiar. A business deal, crime, cover-up. The corruption of those sworn to protect; he had seen a lot of that in his lifetime. The murder of innocents that tore so many more apart. He saw his daughter's corpse upon a table and weeks later, saw her fighting a monster that belonged in a sci-fi film. And the dreams... related or not, he had been dreaming very strange things lately, of darkness and rain and blood; lightning illuminating steel that struck down inhuman foes as celestial beings watched. Maybe they even placed bets.

Had he not been eased into this, if any of those things could be considered "eased", he would have thought himself mad right now. Or dreaming. Perhaps to wake, he would have eaten a barrel of high-velocity buckshot. That would have been counterproductive to finding answers. But did Caesar really want answers right now? Maybe. Definitely, he wanted solutions.

The insurance guy was speaking nervously, using humor and pop culture references to ease his unease. Annoying, but understandable. The bodybuilder chica was being rude. Not helpful, but it hardly affected him. Yet. Superstar couldn't stop talking. Also nervous. Also understandable. Also annoying, and where did she get off staring at him for saying his own name? Oh, take out a leg and she'd make a fine decoy if he needed one to cover an escape. Fine decoy indeed.

With a great sigh on behalf of his companions, Caesar took a quick look around, finally asking a question, "Kyra? Kyra, por favor, is there anywhere we can go that isn't in the open? It is exposed here. I can tell you my story later." His words were still raspy, but polite, for the most part, end even.

Ash Holloway

Location: M6 (Tram) -> Around Town -> M6 (Tram) -> N5 (Street)
Skills: N/A

Ash nodded his head with understanding, listening to Thana. Of course, he wasn't in a position to help. Technically he was part of the community now, if only for less than a day, but had yet to receive assignment or even the basest of clearance. There was less in the way of trust here than there had been in Newnan. Or maybe "trust" was the wrong word; the people of Newnan were decent folk for the most part who needed an opportunity, and whose individual skills were put to almost immediate use in the community. This was a different approach, certainly. This place had more in the way of people and a lot more physical area. Different protocol for different circumstances.

The tour was fairly standard, though Ash couldn't help but think that their tour guide was trying a little hard to be charming. Maybe it was just him. It was hard to just shut off being a soldier, when exactly those instincts to question, assess, and persevere is what he attributed to his being alive still, in equal measure with the trust he placed in others. It seemed that the General felt a similar way (though on the level of communities rather than people), considering the recently acquired knowledge of Camp Mexico Beach's proclivity to help out smaller, starter communities.

That they had a distillery piqued his interest. That would be a task to which he was highly suited, having been raised among it since birth and, though it meant next to nothing now, having his family name emblazoned across a brand of spirits native to the Virginia mountains. Naturally, after hearing that they had safeguards in place to prevent a catastrophic explosion from obliterating the settlement, Ash had to wince. It didn't matter that the ground collapsing was what set off Newnan distillery, Ash was in charge of Newnan, and in specific Engineering and Distilling operations. No, it wasn't his fault. It still didn't feel good to think about. Instead, he mulled over the distilling processes of traditional Tennessee bourbon, a straighter, cleaner flavor in his estimation than other methods common to the American South. Maybe he'd get an opportunity to trade recipes eventually, one liquor producer to another.

He bid Thana a quick farewell when she hopped out at the pier, kissing her back and smiling a little upon her egress. It felt a little strange, being the kind of person who gave someone a kiss before they went off to work. That hadn't been him for so long that it felt almost foreign. This whole "normalcy" thing was something that might require some readjusting. Well, he was prepared to adjust away, because this was his life now, for as long as he could possibly make it last.

The rest of the tour was slightly less interesting to him. He still listened steadfastly, and indeed many things that were mentioned appealed to him as an Engineer. The civil works, in particular. Working a system designed to support a community using only the resources of a smaller section of a once-thriving tourist destination. The Chapel also presented some interest, though more limited than it once might have. He still tried to be a godly man, though the time spent considering such matters or being in supplication of a just and loving God had lessened over the last five years.

As they returned to their starting point of the tour, Ash was pleased to note that Thana was nearby. She was still limping, though she wasn't expected to have a miraculous recovery due to some eldritch force at the pier. "Thanks, Padre. Be seeing you," he called to Atticus, for taking the time to provide them a brief tour of their new surroundings. Likewise, he took the time to bid the rest of the people he had spent the last week locked away with, and in the case of some of them the last couple of years or so with a polite, "Excuse me. Meet up with you at the Mess," before making his way down the street a little to Thana. He gave her a hug, like the had been apart for longer than they actually had, and a quick kiss before leding her a shoulder to lean on. "Hey, Doc says you're supposed to be taking it easy." A mischievous smile took him, and he asked, "Time for that piggyback ride?" He stooped to effect an easier mounting, saying, "Point, and we'll go that way. K?"

Thalia Carmichael

Location: M6 (Tram) -> Around Town -> M6 (Tram Parking Lot)
Skills: N/A

There were a few places of interest within Camp Mexico Beach for Thalia, though she was still preoccupied with the issue concerning her personal effects. Or effect, singular. Still, for a borderline paranoid woman of otherwise practical disposition, it was within her best interests to learn what she could about the place. Housing boarded up around the Distillery, nothing not much else nearby. It might be a place to go if she wanted to be alone, maybe find a quiet rooftop, alcove, or crawlspace to informally claim when not on duty. Whatever "duty" was supposed to be for her.

There was a lot of water around this place. Fitting, considering that it was a seaside community. With her new hardware where the more dexterous part of her arm used to be, swimming was not going to be the easiest task to accomplish. Open area aside, it felt like an extension of the walls. That was something to get used to. Maybe there was a way to adapt to it. That would be something to look forward to. She was here to train, after all. To that end, the concept of enlisted housing gathered her attention, nodding toward the presence of enough people of age and level of fitness to make for a useful standing army. Then the outright mention that they actually did have a military force. Alright, now they were talking. Just as soon as she spend God knew how long gutting fish and tidying up.

Electrical drew her attention, too. Charging batteries and tending solar units, etc. Once upon a time she was a college grad with a possible future in Electronics Engineering. When this whole "end of the world" things started, or about a year in, anyway, she was able to use her technical ability to piece together a functional satellite phone, which oddly put her on the path to this place. It was funny how these things worked out. Oh, and of course the only person with whom she had a phone call of any note since the Grid collapsed got to die shortly thereafter, and right in front of her, too. It might have been her too, if Lola hadn't heaved her ass back at just the right time. Then she died too, that same day. Everyone did. Then why was she still kicking?

That piece of introspection waved bye-bye when she heard a voice continuing to speak to her. She nodded absently at his joke about an arm and a leg, raising her eyebrows as if to say, "Really?" then shook her head in dismissal. Nah, too easy. Definitely an Uncle Joke. Just not her uncle. Her uncle would have growled in annoyance and threatened something awful that he might do anyway out of pure principle. Now, how that man wasn't alive still was fully goddamned beyond her. She couldn't hold a candle to the man.

But back to the tour. She knew he village hotspots, so to speak; some of the places of interest. Generally unused spots where she could train on her own time that were away from people, with very limited chance of Zeds or hostile Living interrupting her. What was that the older guy called living hostiles? Assholes? Maybe that could work. "Assholes and Zeds: All the threats of the Apocalypse from A to Z". Whatever. The tour was coming to a close. She saw Thana limping up, and while she meant to talk with her, Army Captain beat her over there. Fine. They needed more time for the novelty of each other to wear off. Thalia could wait. She was good at waiting. Patient, stalkerish, predatorial waiting. (Okay, so she probably had to re-learn certain social skills.)

Alexander was speaking to her again. She wasn't trying to ignore the guy, really. In fact, the lapse in attention was actually a sign that she trusted him and didn't consider him a threat, a feat as good as any in this world. But to call her a kid? She was almost 30, near as she could tell. Wait, what month was it again? Yeah, 29. Some things were less important, like how many years passed to the day since someone was yanked out of someone else's crotch. But judging by the grey in Alexander's hair and vivid memories of times before her birth, he was old enough to consider her a kid, if a little inaccurate an observation overall. "You're alright, Mugsy," she said as an attempt at reassurance. "Getting emotional's naht something to worry about, 'k? None of us're done crying yet." So that wasn't exactly the reassuring part. In fact, it was kind of dark. "Don't let it control you." That was a little better. A little.

Thalia raised her arm, or rather the metal device replacing her arm, returning, "Thanks for sticking by me, too. ...k, enough gooey shit. I could eat. C'mahn, Mugs. Dinner in 20, right? I can practice glaring at the locals while we wait."

Vladimir Alexandrov

Location: Gretna Green, Church
Skills: Fal'shbort (Passive), Tretiy Glaz (Passive), English, Gologramma

The art of the Gologramma was an exercise in both subtlety and boldness, its mysteries many and proper application a thing of intense coordination. One simply does not summon a quasi-astral simulacrum of one's self and let it run about all willy-nilly, if you didn't know. It had no animation of its own, merely a tool of the will of its summoner. This is why those adept in the use of a Gologramma often utilize them in their Circus acts; practice there made for ease of use in a mortal struggle. Vladimir was better than most with his Gologramma, experience being a factor. One must be vigilant when dealing with things that draw upon astral energies, however. Unexpected results may happen. It is rare, but conflicting energies can lead to interesting things.

One could see the beginnings of Vladimir's casting manifest. His preferred method had the image stepping away from himself like a mirror image, holding the same quiet facial expression and dark eyes, so as to provide an initial sense of confusion among his enemies. But here is where it went awry:

The expression of his will, created by the manipulation of personal and astral forces, began to split from him in the usual manner of his summoning. Only, it seemed more solid, more part of him, and thusly more difficult to detach. Perhaps he should have just summoned it beside him like most people did it, but no, Vlad was a showman - THE Showman - and he'd be damned if he was going to perform a flashy maneuver half-assed. The problem was compounded by the fact that, when the astral form began to remove itself from him, Vladimir could have sworn that a full change in scenery had occurred. Like the Gologramma, or energies therein, were obscuring something behind the mask of perceivable reality, and he had somehow gotten a glimpse of a hidden but everpresent world, in which he was fully and utterly alone.

Vladimir had but a moment to observe this before his quasi-astral form slammed back into him with enough physical force to slap him off of his feet, across the polished flooring, and into the wall. In the time it took him to pick himself back up from the ground, the foul thing had been dispatched, a brilliant combination of an unholy beatdown and ritual supplication of their Creator; the latter an example of steadfast Russian piety and the former an array of the European women's fiery, martial passions. He bobbed his head with a realization that yes, that was probably how he wanted to die, as well.

The delicate flower of Elizaveta's voice rang out, asking for water following her ordeal. Of course Vladimir would be happy to get it, but someone beat him to the punch, so to speak. Instead, he chose to straighten himself up as best he could and begin the heavy congratulatory portion of the post-battle. "Bravo, ladies! поздравляю тебя, da - Congratulating to you all! Bravissimo! Vith the thanking, and the job vell done-ing!" he said, quickly sheathing his showcard knives and clapping loudly. He advanced to the altar, his adulation continuing until he had reached the altar and gathered back his knives, hurled in combat against their dark and tendrilly foe. "But speak not the silliness of Master Zimmer, vith being the monster. No! Power of Grand Duchess's Ostanavlivat'sya is strong. Is very strong. Ve saw it cleanse and free poor Ludvig." He turned from the altar with a flourish. "But excuse! Must get hat." It was true, he did like that hat.

Stepping down, he looked to Constantin and Elizaveta, nodding with a quizzical expression as if to ask if everything was alright with them. The Great Bazhooli had a heart full of warmth and many knives, both of which he might share for several occasions.

Gilbert Summers

Location: PE Fade Between (walking toward tree)
Skills: N/A

The solid form of The Hat edged into existence on the other side of Giosue's portal, his face altering from the image of nonchalance and reassurance he had given James, to the a more immediate look of assessing their situation. Coming through one of Gio's portals (one of the most invaluable tools they possessed as a group) was always an experience of transition, though the Emendators had a further layer of adjustment than most people as their sense of one another had to reorient, often drastically, with each jump. Gil could think of one other Paradox-At-Large with a similar ability who might relate, though in a more limited fashion. Distant, but wherever and whenever they were, there were others of their kind that made it. It was hopeful.

What was not hopeful was the fairly bleak surroundings into which they had stepped. He looked to Gio, who had asked after those present and responded with a distant, "I am intact, Giosue," followed by a sigh and, "We lost Mr. Keystone and Mr. Grady." He had a hard set to his jaw, stating what he did in the factual manner of a soldier who had seen too much death in his latest tour, and while mostly numb to the cost of human life a sliver of regret and sorrow remained. "Or perhaps we are the ones who are lost." He shook his head. An older version of Gilbert was beginning to emerge; one who had known him for long enough might be able to tell. The signs were subtle, at first.

In its own way, their new surroundings troubled Gilbert more than a disintegrating Cairo. "This place looks like a metaphor," he said. "I believe something is, though I cannot place why." It had been Gilbert's philosophy that, in the midst of unknown elements, a person of decisive action must assess what they can from surroundings and act according to wisdoms both ancient and conventional, as applicable.

"When he has penetrated into hostile territory, but to no great distance, it is facile ground. On facile ground, halt not." he said aloud, quoting a man he called Master in a previous life. "The closest thing that resembles a resource are the two trees to either distance. A branch can make a club, quarterstaff, spear, or a stake, if we are desperate and unarmed. It might possess other resources. Or, for all we know both are same tree and are on a very small piece of reality. I am going to find out." He began walking toward the tree ahead, taking stock of the world around him with caution and opening himself up to the general feel of the pull one Emendator has for their fellows.

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