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L'Etat, c'est moi
All Victoria could think of as she made her way to the entrance of the Kremlin was that she should have changed. Wouldn't have been hard, just drag her uniform out of her bag, use a room in the airport. Would've been wrinkled however, so maybe it was all pointless anyway. She was stressing over nothing now, and it was just silly. The General would be more bothered with dedication than flashy show. Hopefully.

The Kremlin was impressive enough by itself;the great, ancient red brick, the home of Russian might and power for centuries. Now it represented the beating heart of half the world. It was enough to make the hairs on her arm rise, goosebumps prickling sense of awe. The masses of armed soldiers, crawling about like a swarm of ants, hammered that feeling in. How could anyone even bring a nuclear device into here? It was a thought that still raised an indignant anger in her; her oaths to the Custody and the Ascendancy stood strong. It was like an attack on them, was an attack on her. Practically as a solider, it could well be.

Of course she was stopped by guards, barked questions on why a civilian was walking around the seat of the government, under guard as it was. Fishing out her military identification changed that completely, earning her crisp salutes, respectful words. Her own military bearing seeped in again, no longer friendly as she had been with Sierra. Back straight, eyes cold, mouth set in a grim line. A quick couple of barked questions earned her the directions she needed to the reception of the central complex. Victoria was starting to realise that she had no real clue where she was going, or what she was supposed to do. Perhaps waving around her orders would help.

Boots clicking along stones, before onto the tiles as she passed through the sliding doors of the building, Victoria took a deep breath. Officers, suited men and women, walked everywhere, files in hands, muttering to each other quietly. This was where an empire was ran. It was... so impressive. Heading to a desk in the center, Victoria slammed to a halt in front of a receptionist, earning a surprised look from the man. Pulling out her i.d., and a copy of the orders from Koertig, she somehow straightened even more.

"Colonel Victoria Wolff of the 3rd Regiment, Army Division Panzer. I have orders to see General Bader Koertig, as early as I can. Is he available with the Kremlin under lock down?"
Michael was woken by an untimely summons. One he could unfortunately not ignore. Koertig himself asked for his cooperation, and he would oblige. Not for the reasons some might think, but he would oblige.

After taking a shower, he shrugged into one of his long black coats lined with orange threading of the Custody. He wore no official uniform, not any more, but the theme would be recognised to anyone that had the power to stop him in the Kremlin.

He had placed Aria's blade by his bed, glancing at it once before he left. "al'Shaddis, Rykovi, you will accompany me. We have a guest to attend to."

The two Ascendants nodded. Their eyes were exhausted, particularly Karim's. In the battle with the Andlain cultists he had been hit with a nasty net of Earth and Air leaving his face battered so badly he needed immediate attention. Im Seung Jun had mastered some form of healing power, although the Korean said he was barely a novice, it managed to erase any trace of the injury from Karim's face.

"I hope it's nothing like our last job,"
Allan Rykovi muttered somehow mixing cheer with misery at the same time.

Michael gave the man a warning glance which received a little shrug and a nod. Despite appearances, he was the Ascendant Michael trusted the most. They did not have to be alike to share a mutual understanding, and though he loathed it, Michael realised he needed to trust if he was to survive the pit of vipers he had thrown himself into.


While the three Ascendants strode through the Kremlin's corridors in silence, Michael read over the file Koertig had sent him. Some fool had actually registered in Nikolai's little project. A wise move from Michael's perspective, but people did not have the knowledge he did. If their places were reversed, he most certainly would not trust this 'program' or 'registry'. Tony wouldn't be joining them, with good reason. The thought of his friend was bitter, but he wasted little time on it. If anyone could survive Moscow, it was Antony Soloyov.

When Michael arrived, he did not need anyone to point out his guest. Of course, he had seen her photograph on file, but that was not the reason. Her presence was one of military authority wielded like a spear at the bureaucrats. As he entered the room, the beleaguered receptionist froze as he caught Michael's gaze. He was not sure if the man was relieved or petrified at the new arrivals. Likely both. The Kremlin was rife with rumours of the Ascendant Beings. Some of them might actually be true.

In an icy voice, Michael spoke at the back of Victoria Wolff to grab her attention. An uneasiness stirred in his stomach, but he pushed it down. He never liked being around others with the Ascendant power. He had grown used to the men, but a woman was a different prospect. "Koertig is busy. You will come with me."

"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
The Ascendancy himself could have spoken those words to her, and perhaps he would barely get away with it. Anyone who had tried to speak to her in that tone had been ground down by ice words, and eyes of pure steel. She turned to face whoever this was, likely some errand boy ordered to fetch her. Someone very clearly not aware of who she was. When Victoria fully faced the man in his long, black coat, her hackles raised immediately. It was not just that arrogant, cold look on his face that matched those almost dismissive words, but there was something... else about him. The orange trim on the black coat marked him as something, at least. Still not a uniform, which only raised her irritation. Who did he think he was?

Then Victoria's eyes locked onto his.

She wasn't sure what happened next. To her, time seemed to skip a few moments, and when she came to, her face was set in a rictus of fury, the sound of her hissed snarl just leaving the air, whatever it had been. More worryingly, her hand was touching the hilt of her gun, and she had embraced her talent to the point where the sweetness was sickly. Something told her that as dangerous, the warning a mere scratching in the void that she set herself in.

Still, she released it, hand darting back to her side. Victoria knew that the two men behind the man were staring at her in shock. It was an effort to stop herself from sweating; even if she wasn't aware of what she had done, it was obviously... bad. If Victoria knew she had let out a stream of snarled curses, decrying the man in front of her for a hateful, war seeking, tyrant, a terrible father, that would have driven any of her confidence in her power away. Especially when it had been in a language that had not been heard for thousands of years.
Goosebumps covered his entire body and then...nothing.

Lost in a darkness so deep it drenched his soul. No light, no love, no anger, no hate. Nothing but the void bereft of everything human.

He had felt it once, aeons ago. A nothingness that lay it's black hand on the edge of time itself. Searching, longing. Embedded deep in the heart of all, but unable to touch a single blade of grass.

Light again. Colour. Life.

Michael stared into the woman's eyes even as she spoke twisted words. He stared as she threatened his life. He could have killed her. He should have killed her. He had done so to countless with less reason.

Like a lingering nightmare upon waking, the pall of nothingness clutched his heart in cold hands. It drained his will. The Ascendant power that burned bright trembled and was eclipsed. His stomach churned and his brain beat against the walls of his skull.

What sickness was this? Was it connected to what he had felt the night of the attack? A side effect unknown from using the Ascendant power?

Slowly, agonisingly, the sensation faded. Joints and bones ached inside as if he had strained his whole body to the limit.

Without warning, he turned away, unable to look at the woman. Karim and Allan looked at him with concern and confusion but said nothing when he began to walk away.

"You will follow, child,"
he threw the holo-pad with his orders over his shoulder. He did not particularly care what she did, but he did not want Koertig complaining at him. "And if you ever attempt to strike me again, you will die."

There was no heat in his words, only certainty, although he felt anything but certain. Never in his life had he been so disturbed. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his coat so no one could see them tremble.
"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
Fortunately for Victoria, Michael, and probably everyone else in the room who wouldn't have to be caught up in whatever happened between them because Michael just dismissed her. He dismissed her. Turning his back to Victoria, and even worse, calling her child. Victoria could not recall ever being more pissed off and insulted in her life. Standing her ground, she clenched her teeth together hard enough that she feared they might shatter, before barking at the man in front of her.

"I am a Colonel of the CCD Armed Forces, civilian." The snarl was kept quiet enough that anyone passing close enough to hear only hurried their steps, lest they be caught up in what sounded like a dressing down. "I have earned my rank through serving the Custody and the Ascendancy. I will not be addressed as child, especially in a seat pf government such as this. I have little care what job you have, civilian, but I will be treated with the respect I deserve, or else. That goes for all of you. Am I understood? I said am I understood?"

That cold gaze turned itself onto the two men standing next to him. That tone, that look, had made men a decade her senior quail like children being told off by their mother. Victoria had dealt with enough sexism and dismissal from officers in the corps. She was not going to treated like a wide eyed little girl after she had been summoned by General Koertig himself. And consequences be damned. The personification of arrogance before her wasn't even any older than her!

Edited by Victoria Wolff, Oct 7 2016, 04:06 PM.
Michael had started to walk away but her voice stopped him. She reminded him of someone else who seemed to like to grate his nerves just for the sake of it.

However, 'child' had been a bit much. He couldn't recall why he had said it in the first place. It didn't matter. The girl would learn soon enough.

"I know who you are, Victoria Wolff,"
he said coolly, turning to face her. That stern face irritated him to no end as he felt the ice covering his anger melting. "It seems you do not know who I am, however."

"My name is Michael Vellas. I was once a Commander of the Custody, now..."
he trailed off. It wouldn't do any good to blurt it out in front of gawking onlookers. Besides, he had forgotten what his actual rank was these days. "Come with me."

He turned to leave once more. "I don't care for military procedure, Victoria. I take orders from the Ascendancy alone. However, if you insist upon it, we could have you tried in military court for drawing your weapon on a superior officer; after the Kremlin was attacked so recently as well."

He glanced back, almost smiling. "If you wish to be treated with respect, I suggest you act accordingly, Colonel."

Edited by Michael Vellas, Oct 7 2016, 08:27 PM.
"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
Michael Vellas. She'd remember that name. It probably wouldn't be her choice, actually. A pickling sensation made her feel as if... as if she was tied to him now. Was he similar to her perhaps? Victoria's face went white. Was this arrogant... man going to be her superior now? Well Victoria would swallow it, as she had time and time again. She was not letting him show her to be an immature fool. She certainly wouldn't let herself act like one.

The threat almost made her swallow nervously, but Victoria controlled herself. 'Superior officer'; that she strongly doubted, and the man had not given rank. Some upjumped special forces? Perhaps, if he could use this thing. Eyeing the two men beside him coldly, Victoria pushed forward to pace next to the tall man. He was not her superior now, at least, and she was absolutely refusing to bend any deference to him.

The almost smile was met with another look of ice cold disdain. Admittedly Victoria was irritated they slid off him so easily. If she didn't have to touch her gun to channel she'd slam Vellas' pride into the ground. And let him feel it.

"The same here, Vellas." It was almost a literal growl, lips presses grimly together when she wasn't snapping at her companion. "Then let us put the incident behind us. Where am I going? Am I no longer meeting the General? Do you... know why I am here?"
Much better. Victoria Wolff had proven herself to be adaptable while not allowing herself to be cowed. That would be good, particularly where Nikolai was concerned. She was one of the first women to join their ranks, most likely to be an influential figure for them in the future. Michael could not teach them, but this one could; if she knew how.

At her questions, Michael shrugged. "Koertig might want to meet you later, but it isn't necessary. He has no idea what he's dealing with anyway. He may be a good military officer, but he can't help you."

Michael led the group to a free office for the moment. It wasn't hard with the Kremlin still in lock-down. Most unprofessional, temporarily occupying someone's office. Maybe that would bother her, but she would get used to it.

Michael sat behind the utilitarian desk and gestured to the chair facing him. A perfect office for a perfect government. It was sickening.

"Karim, Allen, please wait outside. Make sure nobody interferes,"
he ordered the two Ascendants, who nodded and left.

In private now, Michael seized the Ascendant power letting it flow through his body. He spun a web he had picked up that distorted sound. Any camera or recording devices would pick up static. Possibly unnecessary, but one could never be too careful.

His nerves were calmed by the bright presence of the Ascendant power. The familiar warmth and raging life steadied any hesitation he felt before. He turned back to Victoria with a cool gaze, able to study her properly for the first time.

Harsh and rigid was his first impression. A true soldier. Great. More soldiers.

It was something Tony could never understand, Michael's distaste for the military. After all, how could he loathe what he was a part of?

He pushed the thought from his mind. It was of no consequence if people didn't understand.

Finally, he spoke, cool and calm. "Of course I know why you're here. As to where you will be going, that depends."

He leaned forward. "You have a power few men or women alive posses. One that Koertig can never understand. He might oversee the Special Forces which we are placed under, but it is merely for show."

And no doubt Nikolai's way of tempering his pets.

"I can't recall the name they gave us,"
he continued frankly, "but our task is to gather and train those with our powers. The Ascendant power, as the Ascendancy likes to call it. It's as good a name as any."

He paused, recalling the incident in the reception room. "It seems to me that you haven't broken through the Block on your abilities. Does it have something to do with your gun? If you wanted to attack me, you wouldn't use a firearm."

"That can be dealt with, in time. Although I am not sure how much I can do. You will notice that males and females work the Ascendant power differently. I don't know why, so don't bother asking."

Michael leaned back in the chair. It was awfully uncomfortable. Someone should really upgrade the facilities. "You're probably wondering where I fit in? Truthfully, I don't know or care. We are outside anything the military has ever known. Besides Nikolai, I am the first Ascendant to be 'registered' so to speak. There are others out there with more experience, no doubt, but in here, with the others that have joined the Custody's program, I am the most experienced and the strongest. I taught the rest - whom you will see, in time - to safely use their talents.I can't train you like I can do with those two outside. However, I can help by telling you what I know, and telling you what you must do. So, what do you wish to know?"
"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
An Ascendant. So she had a name for herself now. It was much better than simply leaving a mental gap whenever the she thought about the thing. The connotation of that word almost unsettled her; they were the Ascendancy's own. His warriors. It threatened to elevate her far higher than Victoria ever dreamed she would reach. None of that showed on her face, of course. Rigidity, no sign of weakness. Never had she given reason to doubt before in a meeting, and she would not start now

She listened carefully to every word she said; as soon as Victoria had the chance, she would mark it all down in her diary. She needed every single scrap of information she could get on... this. The Ascendant Power. Most of what he said was news to her. Men and women used it differently? She had a... block? It was hard to make her face not pale as he calmly told her the power he wielded. The most powerful in the group they had. And she had dared challenge him? Victoria was lucky to be alive.

"I can only use my power while holding a weapon. Preferably a firearm." That she could confirm at least. But that wasn't normal? Vellas could help her break that, and that would be a great relief. As much as she was a solider, first and foremost, she did not want to shackle her power purely to war. A flood of questions threatened to spill from her mouth, but she kept it professional, steady. Not going to confirm that comment of 'child' anytime soon.

"Do you know how I could remove this 'Block'? And... I am very unsure on this Ascendant Power. How it works. I have found four, possibly five... different powers to, well, manipulate. They seem to be different colours/ Are there more? Do they have names? What sort of things can you do with this? I have mainly used it in combat, using... the yellow one? To manipulate objects and people, physically. I can also... manipulate emotions. I cannot read them, but say, if someone was angry, I could either smooth that anger, or make it even greater. Is that common?"
Half-way through the ordeal, Michael began to feel like he had done this before, in eerily similar circumstances. Why on earth did he have to sit here and explain things to every single person who wanted to poke their noses into business that he hardly understood himself?

He shrugged slightly, shifting in irritation. At least Victoria wasn't just curious. He supposed he would have also liked some information when he had first started as well.

"Yes," he answered her first question. "It takes some time, depending on how stubborn you are."

Most likely a very long time for this one then.

"And how far you are willing to go to achieve it. Naturally, you should be able to use the Ascendant power with nothing but a thought."

To illustrate his point, he wrapped a mug that was on the table in a net of Air, lifting it to float in mid-air.

"In order to overcome your block, you need to change your perception of how you can use your powers. I don't mean simply understanding that it can be used without your weapon, you must change your subconscious.

"The easiest way is pain. Put yourself in a situation where you must use your power without a weapon,"
Michael's tone didn't change at all through his explanation. "Of course, if you fail, it could mean death. There are easier methods you can attempt."

Almost with a sigh, he moved on. "There are five different aspects of the Ascendant power. The four basic elements, Air, Water, Fire, Earth. The fifth is something different," he waved a hand, looking for an explanation. "It's something like the human spirit, or soul. Combine them, and you can do all sorts of wonderful things. Experimentation is. however, dangerous."

He sat back for a moment, trying to think of anything else. "As for your colours, I don't know, I never really thought about it. It sounds like Air or Spirit. The talent for...swaying people... I have seen before. It is a useful skill, just remember that if anyone finds out that they have been manipulated, they would likely not be happy."
"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."

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