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First day in Moscow
After escaping the wreck that was Sierra Leone, Lawrence regrouped back in Morocco to figure out what her next steps were. Everything that happened she documented as dramatically as possible. Truthfully, absolutely, but the great thing about running her own online news site was the human element she was able to inject. Nobody else presented stories about what the people went through. They reported facts and updates and movements; but nothing about the refinery worker whose brother died, leaving him alone the sole male in the family. Nor did they show the images of toys left behind to never be played again. They didn't discuss the scent of refinery-fires, or talk about what it was like to run through the jungle equally afraid of being shot in the back as finding a predator. Laurie represented the people. She told their story. She would fight for their voices to be heard.

After the story broke on the Monday Margin, thousands of followers demanded explanations from Legion Premiere. The company had a habit of showing up in bloody battles for their own profit. Sure, they saved the Custody's ass, and they were paid well for it. They saved some of Sierra Leone, but what did they get out of it? What did Jacques get?

<dd> </dd>

Danjou has a loyal army, billions of dollars, and an invitation to the heart of the Custody. Is he and Brandon plotting to conquer Africa together? Who will rule it? Brandon likes to say he is not a tyrant; he is not a conquerer; he is a hero. He is unlikely to rule Africa in such a way. But Danjou is a wild card, the genius maverick that we can't anticipate. Will he rule Africa on Brandon's behalf? Or will he outright call himself a king? I will find out.

Lawrence published the piece after she made it through the Moscow airport's international terminal. At least if it was flagged by CCD monitors, she would already be in the city, and theoretically harder to remove. Fabricating some problem with her paperwork at the airport would just be asking for a plane ticket back to the US, unwelcomed.

With her trusty intern in tow, they checked into a hotel some distance from downtown but an easy train ride to the consulate that Jacques occupied. No way she could afford room fare's in downtown.
"Jaxen, that looks terrible. Maybe you should think about seeing a doctor or something."

Jaxen felt the collar of his leather jacket had fallen, but he didn't even look up from the holokeyboard that kept his fingers racing let alone move to fix it. He didn't think Roman was observant enough to notice the wound any more than a passing glance. Guess he was wrong.

"What, you talking about my vampire love bite?"
He answered, squinting at the results that flashed across the screen. The computer was passable, so far. Nothing that even compared to the state of the art technology that was his previous set-up, the station that he once used to build his notorious online presence. Roman was in the market to sell him a replacement, and as Jaxen was in the market to buy one, he was here testing it out.

"A vampire love bite?"
Roman slouched on the sofa, smoothing his black hair behind his ears and lit a Vaporette, puffing deep.

Jaxen finished his keystrokes, crossed his arms and lowered his brow thoughtfully a moment, only to wipe the decision from his face and swivel to face Roman. "Yeah. In the last year I have been shot at by Atharim, kidnapped by cannibals, knifed at by Atharim, kidnapped by snakes, and learned I could do this...,"
he centered his mind for a moment. On the next, elation and darkness hovered across his senses like hellish clouds cast a glow on his skin. He spun tendrils of Aire and Fire until sparks snapped the room. Then, grinning through the darkness, he let them go and reached forward with fingers of Aire to snatch Roman's Vaporette from his mouth only to take a drag for himself. "Honestly, a vampire bite isn't that far-fetched these days."

Having two Vaporettes discarded on the floor nearby, Roman was either too dulled in the head to care about Jaxen's channeling, or he was simply not that impressed. Jaxen needed to think of something flashier to do with the ancient power. Roman shrugged, but still pointed nonetheless. "Dude, a doctor. Seriously. It's oozing now."

Jaxen put a hand to his neck, slightly grossed and slightly concerned when his fingers came away wet. At least it wasn't blood. Maybe blood would have been preferable.

"I'll take the computer. Get it packed up for me. I'll be right back."
He flicked the emptied Vaporette to the trash can and disappeared in the bathroom to see the damage for himself. Li hadn't said anything about long-term problems from the drakaina's attention, but neither did Jaxen ask. He only noticed the redness this morning anyway.

By the time he reached the lobby, computer safely weighing down the inner pocket of his coat, he'd cleaned the fluid from his neck and pulled the collar of his coat high. Screw doctors. Screw Roman. All he needed was a dark room and a couple nights rest. Huh, maybe he was turning into a vampire. That'd be cool.

He got in line at the lobby's desk behind a couple, readying his Wallet to pay for a room.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
Lawrence's face furrowed down with anger. She held her Wallet high, waving it at the clerk behind the desk. "I told you I already paid for a room online! You can't tell me they're out of rooms! I already have one!"

At her side, Zander shot a look over his shoulder at the man standing behind them. Laurie could get pretty pissed off from time to time, and by the tone of her voice, Zander prepared himself for the ensuing scene.

"Look, your bid was outsold. I don't control it, but that's how things work in the CCD, ma'am." The clerk was not interested in dealing with another American, let alone a brass, demanding one. "Your money will get refunded to your profile in twenty-four hours." With that, the clerk looked around her and Zander, peering at the face waiting behind them. "We're out of rooms if you're wanting one."

Laurie stuffed her Wallet back into a pocket, face red and jaw tense, turned on her heel and glared at the poor unfortunate fool first to catch her gaze. She promptly walked off to go figure out where to stay next.

Zander lingered behind. He knew how to handle Laurie in times like these. Just let her do her thing and she'd get over it in a few minutes. They weren't used to the bidding processes in the Custody for purchases. Demand was high right now what with all the thousands and thousands of tourists in the city to see the Arch and claim their channeler rights. Even the skeeziest of hotels were astronomically priced.

"Sorry about that,"
Zander said to the guy behind them. "She's just mad we can't find a place. This is the fourth hotel we've been outbid. Are you having the same problem?"
Zander hoisted a bag up on his shoulder and started to move off to the side.

The heat ahead of him lifted his gaze with a sly smirk. The woman turned and stalked off, without so much as glimpsing at Jaxen. He could practically sense the fire billowing off her skin. That red hair and flashy green eyes.. He didn't even try to hide the fact that he watched her storm off.

But then the kid with her was talking to him. They couldn't be a couple after all. Unless she was into dom stuff. That kid was far too wimpy to be able to handle her.

Outbid, huh? Jaxen had never had such a problem. Never even heard of such a problem. In fact, he pat the kid on the shoulder and pulled him closer.

"Yeah I need a room. In fact I need two rooms."
Like hell he was going to let his next conquest walk out the front door. His own russian accent thickened on command. He was no foreigner to dick around with.

The clerk swallowed, but held his ground. "Sir like I said before. We are sold out and all bids are already accepted."

Jaxen smiled. "Of course they are."
Then he dropped his bag to the floor, leaned across the counter and twisted the computer screen toward him. The clerk gasped and tried to push Jaxen's hands away, but a dark glare from the Marveet kid flashed in response, and the clerk retracted. "Do me a favor, kid. Type Jaxen Marveet into this box right here,"
he pointed at the name field, "and tell me if you're still sold out of rooms."

He twisted the screen back facing the clerk and waited patiently. The intern was white as a ghost, but trying to get the attention of his boss. She was still on the phone.

The clerk groaned irritably, did as requested and blinked in surprise when every room in the hotel flashed available. Speechless, he looked back up at Jaxen, who only smiled and shrugged. "Mighty fine work, kid. We'll take those two rooms."
He pointed to adjoining rooms on the top floor, which meant it was only one level up, but at least it meant it was easier for nasties to crawl through a ground floor window. Not that he was worried about that.

The clerk nodded, "right away Mr. Marveet. It'll take a few minutes to vacate and clean the rooms."
Meaning they had to kick out the current occupent and throw fresh blankets on the bed.

"Seems we have time for a drink, then."
He turned, grin on his lips. The intern was stupefied and waved more emphatically at his boss.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
Lawrence dismissed Zander's waves in order to concentrate on her conversation. She was already out over a thousand dollars, none of which was going to be refunded until "processing for up to 24 hours." Every time she turned to another hotel, she was getting outbid. She even started searching the golden ring, suburbs some of which were a hundred miles away from downtown, for a place to stay.

When Zander looked like he was about to explode, she returned to the intern, noting the dark-haired russian in his presence. The clerk behind the counter was looking none too pleased and did not meet her eye when she glanced at him.

"What is it Zander? I can't find anything inside a hundred mile radius"
She crossed her arms, but Zander licked his lips and gestured at the man in his company. He wore an expensive looking leather jacket, the collar pulled high around his neck. He had a sharp haircut and shoes that probably cost more than Lawrence's first car.

"He was able to get us rooms."

Lawrence's brows lifted high and she looked at him anew. "Oh really? And how did that happen?"

The man was looking rather pleased with himself, or seemed to expect that Lawrence would be just as pleased with him.

Zander pulled her a few steps away.

"They're cleaning them up now. He wants to get a drink."
Zander pulled her aside and spoke low into her ear. "All he did was type in his name and the whole hotel opened up to him. He's gotta be someone important."

Lawrence looked back over her shoulder. "Well thanks for the favor. Mister...?"
She offered out her hand, more than willing to gain a useful contact in Moscow.

Jaxen leaned against the desk, elbows propped and ankles crossed. The two Americans - obvious by their accent if nothing else - whispered, but he didn't even try to overhear. The kid was rightfully intimidated, course, he'd probably be intimidated by a 12 year old girl if she looked at him cross. The woman was impressed.

He shook her hand. "Marveet,"
he answered, waiting a slight moment for that subtle sign of recognition. There was none. "Jaxen Marveet. Let me buy you a drink at the incredibly well-stocked and superb bar this fine establishment offers,"
a sly, sarcastic smirk and he gestured at what was a glorified minibar in the corner of the lobby. The desk clerk would be the one to pour their drinks as the place didn't even have its own dedicated bartender.

Guiding the woman gently by the small of her back, he held up a stern hand that the clerk stay exactly where he was. "No offense to my Moscovian brother, but I know my way around vodka a thousand times better than anything he could ever pour."

He hopped over the front bar and frowned at what passed as an underbar beneath. The ice was dispensed from a soda fountain rather than from an ice machine. There was no rail station. In fact, bottles were hidden behind lopsided cabinet doors. He cringed to imagine what kind of vodka they stocked.

Retrieving the best of the options, he searched for glasses. "I'll show you real vodka Moscow has to offer later. Maybe Manifesto or Kallisti if you're up for it. Your kid won't make it into Manifesto, but with the right clothes you'd be welcome. Kallisti is less picky, but he's likely to faint in a House of Burlesque."
He poured three glasses, tipping extra into the kid's and pushing it in front of him. There weren't any limes. So ice and vodka it was. Eh, well, the worst vodka was still better than water.

He hopped back over and straddled one of the three stools for himself. "You're a long way from home."
And he took a sip. It was terrible. The kid was probably going to choke to death.

Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Nov 5 2017, 03:50 PM.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
"A hotel room and a drink, wow, you're quite the charmer."
Laurie smiled and followed Jaxen. She honestly read up on Moscow politics as she could stomach on the flight here. Marveet seemed like something she should recognize, but nothing came to mind. Zander followed, and Lawrence ended up waving him off to go sit on one of the lobby chairs. She knew he'd do nothing more than smell the vodka and push it away.

Lawrence, on the other hand, was not the kind of girl that did shots at the local club. Drinking straight vodka was basically the same in her opinion. But to seem like she played along, she took a sip, only to cough. "You're right. Next time, real vodka."
She left the glass on the counter - it wasn't even a bar top - and swiveled the creaky metal chair to face him. Manifesto sounded like the kind of place crawling with rich mall rats if she had to wear the right kind of outfit to even get inside. A burlesque house sounded downright intriguing, though. He was right though. Zander would probably faint. It'd be a terrible idea to take him along. "I'll need a shower and a change of clothes first though. I slept on the plane and am nowhere near tired enough to sleep any time soon."

"If you're a Marveet, what are you doing in a place like this? Shouldn't you have a mansion to go home to?"

"A mansion? No. An apartment, yes."
He smirked like there was more he was going to say but left unsaid.

He supposed his mother had a place some might call a mansion. His father, on the other hand, was the owner of their family's ancient estate. The last time he visited home was after emerging from the world of snakes and finding himself buck naked in the middle of the country in winter. That visit ended on good terms with his dad and siblings. Totally didn't lead into his father confiscating every piece of equipment he owned from his apartment, doing away with all his loot, and even took Maximilian's coronation sword. Not that he couldn't steal it back again, but he needed some techy juice to work with first. The slender device in his pocket spoke to the first block in rebuilding his life. Now that he knew he could channel, oh the glorious thieving to be had. Maybe the Kremlin historical vaults weren't so out of reach as he once thought.

The desk clerk brought two pass keys to the hotel. The place didn't even have facial print locking mechanisms. They'd actually have to wave disks in front of door knob to get one to open. Laughably easy lock to break. Jaxen would be sleeping with a piece of furniture against the door tonight.

"Looks like your chance at a shower has arrived --"
his voice trailed as he waited for her name. Then hefting his bag onto his shoulder, he realized the movement displaced the collar of his jacket a little, and rubbed the wound open again. He could feel a trail of fluid leaking down the inside of his shirt. A tight smile accompanied their departure from the bar, even as his feet walked briskly toward the elevator. "Meet you at ten thirty?"

Their rooms were upstairs in the back far corner nearest the staircase. Jaxen grinned in amusement at the adjoining rooms' door within, but like he had at Roman's down the hall, he quickly ducked into the bathroom to take a look at the damage on his neck. He might be forced to use a bandaid or something, if it kept leaking like this.

Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Feb 3 2018, 09:54 PM.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
Zander handed Lawrence the stories on their boy downstairs. After the intern took their stuff to the room, he'd began to read up on everything he could find about Jaxen Marveet. The name itself tripped a lot of flags on his searches, but most of them were in relation to the greater Marveet family. It took navigating to some sketchy websites to read about Jaxen, specifically. Playboy, partying, drugs. Pictures in clubs. Posing with celebrities. Driving sports cars. Lots of girls. Lots of videos of stunts. This guy was famous for doing all the kinds of things that Zander thought Lawrence needed to avoid. He wasn't the kind of lead that she needed. But there was more to it than that. Zander didn't like Jaxen. He didn't trust him and he definitely didn't trust him alone with Lawrence at some club.

"You're not really going out with that guy, are you?" He asked of Lawrence as she took the information.

She dropped her bag on one of the beds, eyeing the room. It wasn't terrible. They'd definitely stayed in worse places, and if not for Jaxen, they were headed to just such a place next. "You kidding me? This guy is a gold mine, Zander! I'm going to jump in the shower and read up on him. You keep sending me anything you find that's interesting. I need to know what's at stake here."

She left her intern, knowing he was worried about her, but Lawrence could handle herself. She'd definitely walked into stickier situations to earn even less important information for a story. Jaxen was pretty harmless, she wagered. That didn't mean she would let down her guard, though. She wasn't stupid. On the other hand, she was kind of excited about going out with him. Not to mention the fact that he was plain hot.

She didn't have a lot on her in way of luxurious, clubbing clothing, but she did have one travel-resistant black dress rolled up in the corner of her suitcase she made sure to bring to Moscow. It wasn't exactly cotoure, but it would be fine. The black cloth was wrinkle-resistant, had some sparkle around the neckline, and fit her like a glove. Tall, with green eyes and silky red hair, Laurie cleaned up well. She smiled at herself in the mirror. It had been a long time since she saw herself looking like this. A smokey eye darkened her lids and red glossed her lips. Zander blinked in shock when he saw her all ready. He'd definitely never seen her dolled up before.

"I take it this'll work,"
she smiled, noting his reaction, then grabbed a small hand bag for her Wallet. When she walked into the lobby a few minutes late, she felt every pair of eyes looking at her. Travelers were in jeans or sweatshirts. She only nodded and waited for Jaxen at the door.
In the bathroom, stripped of his shirt, Jaxen frowned at the redness growing on his neck. It didn't really look infected, but definitely didn't look right. The hotel didn't have any kind of NuSkin on hand, so he was forced to dry off the fluid as much as possible and slap some old-school bandaids on the site. With a new shirt on, and as long as he wore his jacket, the high collar obscured anything out of the ordinary from casual investigation. Given that he hoped for a little more than casual investigation by the time the night was done, he'd have to figure something out soon.

A splash of water on his face, Wallet hidden carefully inside his jacket, just let someone try and pickpocket him, and he found himself waiting for Lawrence in the lobby. She was late, though. Of course, after her entrance distracted literally every single person in sight, he grinned and got up from his seat to let everyone know she was his.

"You clean up well for a reporter,"
he smirked and led her to his car. Well, not his car. The Lamborghini Centenario was parked at the back of the lot, a solid twenty feet from the nearest neighbor. It sensed his presence as he approached, lighting to life.

Slipping into the driver's seat, the car purred all around him. The car wasn't the most outrageous he'd even used, but given that he was going to a relatively sketchy part of town to meet his seller, he needed something that attracted less attention than he preferred. The Centenario was something any millionaire's kid would drive. Jaxen preferred flashier. The Lykan Hypersport, an arab supercar, had actual diamonds in the headlights. Diamonds. Oh well, maybe another night.

He checked Lawrence as she joined him, gesturing that she hang on to something and they pulled out of the lot like a flash of lightning. The god of wind was left behind as soon as he landed on the Ring Road, one of the gargantuan freeways circling Moscow. God this felt good.

As they drove, he considered where to go. Even if he was Jaxen Marveet, dressed as he was in slacks, a designer shirt and black leather jacket, pulling up in a Centenario with a hot woman on his arm wouldn't get them into Manifesto. He could probably bribe his way inside, but it would take some effort he didn't care to impress. Besides, there was someone he was interested to see - if she happened to be there.

"Kallisti House of Burlesque is in the Red Light District. Are you up for it?"
Something told him she wouldn't say no.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +

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