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Into the shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath
Victoria had flown one time in her life before this. That was to Jerusalem, to be stationed down in Dominance V. That was, of course, disregarding various flights in military planes and aircraft. Those has been loud and hot with different men shouting down her earpiece. None of that here, fortunately. It wasn't even that long ago, only a few years, yet it seemed more along a decade, at the very least. Then again her whole life felt like that now. A year and two months since the Third's stand at Amman. Almost a year to the day channelling. A month since the cave with that... thing. It was enough to make her head spin. It was hard enough getting past being a Colonel, and having just turned twenty four. Now she was on a plane to meet with General Bader Koertig in Moscow; and in First Class, no less. First class was weird. She had her own seat, an actual comfortable one, and someone had brought her champagne. When was the last time she had champagne? Sipping from the glass reminded her why it had been so long, and she sat it down with a grim twist to her mouth. Memories of choking down the bubbly drink at her promotion dinner surfaced, accompanied by frozen smiles for all the other officers shaking her hand. She'd still been in shock at that point.

She didn't belong here. Looking around, Victoria sunk further into her seat at another look at her fellow passengers. All of them were dressed... well. Dresses, some in suits. Expensive, tailored clothes, jewellery that probably cost more than her annual wage. Victoria had just wanted to dress comfortably for the long flight, knowing she'd arrive in freezing cold Moscow when they landed. Fur lined boots, leggings, and her leather jacket over a long sleeved top. Simple. Stanko could have told her he'd arranged First Class. Still, she'd have to thank the old man. He'd taken in the list of names she'd sent too. Agh, thinking about that made her think of the speech shed had to give to the regiment, and she didn't want to dwell on that. Victoria had teetered on the edge of professionalism there. She was going to miss them.

Getting on board to her first class eat had been trouble enough. Her hand strayed to the holster under her jacket. Well what did they expect her to do! Leave it in her bag? At least Victoria had the grace to approach the airport guards and explain that she had a gun on her. When they had, probably understandably, overreacted she couldn't even touch it to use her power to calm their nerves. That would probably have gotten her shot. The proof of her rank had snapped them to attention instead, and after a short discussion, she'd been ushered on board, firearm still hidden under her clothes. Even if they had made her put it under her shirt too. The real confusion had started when they had gently driven her to the front of the plane. Victoria hoped her baggage was actually in the plane after the confusion. It was absolutely terrible of her admittedly, but one bag was just filled with rugs. In her defence they were beautiful craftsmanship and she wasn't leaving them behind. It was... an excusable memento. Sure. Go with that.

Before she could start grumbling to herself, Victoria stopped that. Here she was on a First Class flight, going to personally meet with the General of the Ground Forces, and all that she could do was find reasons to complain. Opa would have her skin tanned for that rudeness. She gave a small smile to herself at the thought of her bustling grandfather; she could just see his great, grey moustache twitching away in her head. He'd be proud of her, if she ever found the time to go home. His little cadet, all grown up. Eyes fluttering closed, Victoria let out a small yawn, snuggling back into the cushioned seat. Four hour flight. May as well catch up on some of the rest that had been nonexistent over the past few days.

Moscow was cold. Colder than expected. Shivering at the, compared to Jerusalem, biting wind, Victoria dragged her coat further around her. She'd managed to get that out of her bag when she had seen the dark, grey clouds outside when landing. Well, when she'd had time to stop gaping at Moscow. Even the airport! It was like nothing she'd ever seen. The city was a mass of towering skyscrapers, more modern than anything she'd seen before. What was there to compare? Jerusalem, only less than twenty years united, and Munich, a small scale city. She felt like a country girl on her first trip to the big city. Her eyes narrowed at that; she felt like a naive, young girl.

Shaking herself, Victoria stalked forward from the airport. She was no child to be starstruck by towering buildings. Damn it she was a Colonel of the CCD, and making her way to the Kremlin to meet with a general. The look on her face actually made a man in front of her stumble when he caught her eyes. It'd have taken no small amount of bravery to meet that icy stare. At least the airport had been kind enough to keep her bags for now. Anything for the Colonel, the Security Chief had stammered. That dampened the edge a bit. Well, like putting a plaster of a gaping wound. Something, at least.

Maybe the rest of her day would prove promising, Victoria thought to herself as she stared around at the milling masses of people coming and going through the entrance. Now. How to actually get to the Kremlin?
Somehow she'd made it through Moscow. The traffic, the crowds, the shouts and managed to inform Victoria she had no real clue what a city was. This... was a country. It should be its own country. It was probably bigger than the rest of the Custody combined. How could people live here? It wasn't the tranquil, homely noises of Jerusalem, or the quiet business of Munich. It was... chaos. At least that look she had perfected cleared a path now. Comments of 'crazy bitch' disappeared into the crowd before she could track them down. Still, out of safety, she'd moved her gun under her jacket again. The side holster was easily hidden by her heavy coat too. No worries there, and her military ID card was in her purse.

The Red Square. The relief of actually making it there, combined with the fat she was in the Red Square, caused Victoria to stop, feeling like all breath had been knocked from her body. It was swarming with people, of course. She felt more than a twinge of worry, looking at the swarms of armed guards about. This place was nearly a radioactive crater. The... Ascendancy. Almost dead. He wasn't immortal. Or was he? Was that why he was still alive? It was a hard thing to think about. Her oaths had sworn her to lay down her life for him, and Victoria... knew she would. She kept those oaths close to her heart. Possibly the thing closest to her heart. She knew even other officers would laugh at that, but that was duty. A colonel at twenty four. She owed the Custody for that. For allowing her to fulfill a career that she enjoyed. Allowing her to... do whatever came next.

St Peter's Basilica, the great fortress of the Kremlin, and where Lenin's Mausoleum would be... the Arch. She didn't like what it came from. Destroying such an important piece of history didn't bode well with her, and that was the closest she'd ever come to criticising the Ascendancy. The Arch was impressive enough to quell that, however. It towered above her, red and black, a glorious reminder of the power of one man.

One day, would she be able to do that? Victoria shuddered, brutally repressing that idle thought. That was the most terrifying idea that had come to her head for a while.

Sticking her hands in her coat pockets, Victoria just stared up at it. She told herself that she was just here to appreciate the great monument, that would be here for millennia, no doubt. Not that she was nervous to enter the Kremlin, to whatever waited inside.

Edited by Victoria Wolff, Oct 4 2016, 03:05 PM.
Sierra had left the cafe and gone straight home. She didn't want to be around people anymore than necessary. But the images on the television kept calling to her. The power of an image. She had to see the monument for herself.

The crowds had thinned some since the first few days but she was certain no one but her really noticed that fact. It was still busy. But even a slight decrease in the human population made Sierra happier. She missed the forests again. But she was going to find the people who took Snow from her. She just had no clue how to go about such a thing... She wasn't a fighter, she wasn't an activist - she only lived with the wolves - she cheated because she could speak to the wolves they accepted her as one of them. They were a silent call away, but they were too far away - the silence echoed in her head - snow was gone only to be seen in the dreams.

Sierra wasn't the only one staring up at the display of power. "And to think it wasn't here a few days ago."
Sierra took the lens cap off her camera and started shooting. It wasn't the same as shooting nature, but if she could get that impressive shot she could easily get it taken in to the main stream media - it wasn't her bread and butter but she was a photographer and this image called to her as much as the wolves did. It was history in the making.
The idle comment drew her out of her reverie, catching Victoria by surprise. She turned her head, nodding slightly to the woman who had walked up next to her, moving about with her camera. Victoria watched her with, admittedly, a slight degree of envy. She'd never been very good at taking photos. Lighting, angles, all that went over her head, mostly. It was a skill she could admire. Victoria had a healthy respect for some media types. Of course you had scum like the paparazzi, then you had the brave war correspondents she'd met. And, occasionally, escorted out of fire. Crazy people would do anything for a story.

She frowned at herself. That was getting ahead. Who said the woman was anything more than someone with a hobby? It was common these days, even with skilled photographers with good quality equipment. Realising she hadn't actually replied yet, Victoria collected herself.

"It's hard to wrap your head around." She conceded, short clipped words. Was she sounding distant? That was something she needed to work on. Her face kept its neutral look, eyes losing the ice they had held up until she had entered the Square. "That anyone has that power, too? I just arrived in Moscow today, so... it's another thing to knock me about. It's a big city, I'll say that."

Victoria gave a sudden turn, almost like rigid clockwork, holding her hand out. She'd always been taught it was rude not to introduce yourself. Even if it was just a random chat next to a new monument built from magic.

"Colonel Victoria Wolff." Should she have dropped the rank? Probably didn't matter. She'd found that people could usually sniff out military. Especially officers; likely the stiffness.
Sierra took the offered hand. She never quite understood that gesture. "Sierra Lupita."
Sierra smiled. "I remember my first trip into Moscow. It was overwhelming"

That was such a long time ago. She'd come looking for information about her brother's killer - the man with a tattoo. The images that had been sent reminded her of that tattoo... What did they have in common?

"What brings you to Moscow. The sights?"
There were so many people in Moscow now. "I needed to stop and try to sell some of my photos from my last run through the Russian wilderness."

"Work." She answered simply. Victoria couldn't exactly tell her the details, but work would do. Obviously military stuff; she had given her rank to the woman. To Sierra, even. Likely with the amount of military around, she'd draw her own conclusions.

"it's something, alright. I've been living in Jerusalem for the last few years, and the difference is... insane, really. I've never seen anything like Moscow." Victoria shook her head slightly, thrusting her hands further into her coat. It was colder, too. So, the woman was a photographer now; that made Victoria's accusing thoughts about her earlier seem rude. Of course they were rude, what was she thinking. "You're a photographer? Is it mostly nature you take pictures of? My grandfather always used to read National geographic; that sort of thing?"
Sierra laughed. "I don't think there is anything like Moscow anywhere in the world."
Not any place Sierra had ever seen anyway.

She nodded the answer to her question. "That's the bulk of my work. I spend most of my time off the grid in the wilderness capturing never before captured scenes. I specialize in wolves mostly, but once you understand the wilderness most any other situation is doable."
Sierra didn't need to mention that speaking to the wolves actually made life in the forest and wilderness more enjoyable. She also didn't need to mention that she found their company more pleasant that most humans.

"This isn't usually my thing, but it's history in the making. I can at least say I saw it. Maybe it'll land me a spot in some newspaper or better yet a magazine, but I don't hold out hope for that. I'm sure there are bigger names than mine clamoring for this picture."

Sierra gave Victoria a sheepish grin, "You want that touristy picture to send home to the folks?"
Victoria nodded as Sierra spoke, still glancing up at the Arch every now and then. The bit about the wilderness had piqued her interest; she'd heard some of her officers discuss how barren and arid Dominance V had been, but she'd rather liked it. Just the variety of the landscape she'd seen as they flew over to wherever their next mission had been, deserts changing to tree covered hills, and all things in between. Victoria could certainly respect someone recording that for a career. "That sounds really interesting. Are there still many wolves around Moscow? Honestly that is pretty impressive, chasing after wolf packs to record them." She gave a small shrug. "I'd probably be more worried about being eaten."

It certainly was history. It hadn't quite sunk in for Victoria yet just how involved she might be in... well, history. It was a thrilling time to be a magical freak, that was for sure. "Really? That'd be great; and you don't want any, well... charge?" An awkward question to be sure, but Victoria felt a bit odd not paying for something from a professional like her. It was a more than tempting offer, however. Opa would probably cheer the destruction of Lenin's Mausoleum. As much as she loved him, the old man was stuck in the past.
Sierra smiled at the mention of wolves around Moscow. "There are a few, one particular pack in the area, but they tend to avoid us two-leggers."
At least most of us. She didn't comment on the getting eaten part. Wolves only ate people when they were threatened or felt threatened. And they only ate you because wasting the meat was pointless. It was all about survival and balance.

When Victoria accepted the offer of the picture Sierra waved away the thought of charging for it. "This is not how I make money. It's not like it is costing anything but my time. And I'm here already."

If she were to develop the picture and have it printed or something then it would cost her, but really how much would it cost to send the picture digitally - a very small amount.

Sierra backed up so that Victoria didn't need to get much closer, and they could get more of the grand monument in the picture. Sierra snapped a few pictures quickly without looking at them before she pulled the camera away from her to exam them. She used the tiny screen on her camera, they all came out alright.

To show Victoria Sierra pulled out a wallet and opened the pictures, the screen started off with her favorite picture of Snow romping through yellow flowers in a field chasing a butterfly. She missed him. She flipped to the next picture of Victoria and through the remaining three. "Which one do you like better? I can send you them all if you want."
Her eyes widened for a moment at the quick glimpse of the picture of the wolf in the field. Even the swift look had shown it to be an incredibly good shot; so close, too. How did she manage to do it? No doubt the good camera helped; must be a real connection with nature.

For the first time in their conversation, Victoria actually gave a small smile looking at the pictures of her. Those helped sink it in. She was in Moscow now. The Capital. For what would certainly be a life changing moment. "The third one, please." She didn't look so... irate in that one, at least. Victoria did always manage to look mildly annoyed in pictures. "Thank you, Sierra. This was... very kind of you." A frown passed monetarily over her face. She didn't want to be rude here, but then again... "I have a meeting in the Kremlin I really can't afford to be late for, but it has been nice meeting you."

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