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Talking Politics
(Open thread)

Usually when Pervaya called White on his off hours, it was something involving an impromptu VIP job. It wasn't to talk to another operator about quitting the company. They had PR people for that sort of B/S. But, considering the person in question, it made sense.

So White had made a phone call, arranged a meeting, and a few hours later was seated in some high-end cafe in the heart of Moscow, the richest city in the world. As it wasn't exactly work related, White was dressed casually. Tan cargo pants and boots, button-down black shirt, sleeves rolled up tight and neat above the elbows, exposing powerful forearms. A tan shemagh was worn loose around his neck, serving as a scarf against the chill day air outside. A brown rough-leather jacket hung off the back of his seat, and the open black shirt hinted at the pistol holster worn on the left side of his chest.

Koloman sat opposite him, dressed in a snug navy-blue military-cut wool sweater and black cargo pants, his own pistol seated away in a simple hip holster. Both men carried their permits, of course, but firearms were, while not necessarily common, seen often enough in Moscow not to draw too many stares. The looks the two large, fit men drew in the high-end cafe were entirely based on their looks, instead.

Where White had a simple cup of black coffee, Koloman had chosen a London Fog. Earl Grey tea, steamed milk, vanilla flavouring. The man had a bit of a sweet tooth, it seemed. The barrista set their drinks on the table, and cast shy glances at either man as she did. White caught her gaze and flashed a ghost of a smile, and she blushed and quickly withdrew from the table. A tall, raven haired Russian beauty, but too shy for White's tastes. And besides, he was at the cafe for work-related reasons.

“So. I want to hear this from you, Koloman. What the fuck are you thinking?”

Koloman chuckled confidently and watched the waitress depart with their order, eyes lingering before looking to White. Both men shared a brief grin then they were back to business. “You should come with me. Hell, imagine the good you could do over there.”

White let out a bark of sarcastic laughter, “Good one. Do good in fucking Africa. I've killed enough of those bass-ackwards shitheads, thank you very much. Now what the fuck do you think you're going to accomplish?”

Koloman was still smiling; he was confident in his decision. He knew it was the right thing to do, and nothing White said was likely to rattle that belief. “The Legion's gearing up to do something big. Something good. What do we do here all day? Safeguard some spoiled rich sod that has never known a day of strife in their lives. Collect a fat pay check. Most of mine is spent on new suits, bribes, women, and at the gun range of course. Then what? Another fat-cat brat. There, we can save lives. Help people.”

White just stared incredulously at his coworker. Friend was perhaps too strong a word, although Koloman was likely the closest to one he had in Moscow. The man knew damn well how the world worked, and the naivety in which he spoke of going to Africa was almost painful. “Help people? For fucks sakes man. It's Africa. Nothing helps there. You can shoot all the warlords and child-soldiers you want. You'll miss a few, and they'll just step into the void. That's how it's always been. Fuck, even if you manage to prop up a new government, soon as you turn your back it just all goes to shit again. Every damn time.”

Koloman couldn't help but laugh at White's casual tone. As far as he seemed to care, they were talking about the benefits of different strains of grass seed. “This one is different, and you know it, White. He's been running around Africa all his life, and he still cares. You can see it in the press releases, the way the reporters aren't hounding him. He's not corrupt, so they have nothing to slander him with.”

“He's a rich playboy who inherited a company and has dreams of grandeur. He's going to get a lot of people killed, and that's all he'll be remembered for. And the pay is fucking terrible. Fuck, she makes more then one of those African private security twits.”
He nodded to the waitress who had returned with their drinks, and she glanced at him curiously when he referenced her.

“It's not about the pay. You saw what they did down south. His men went into that hell hole without hesitating. How many hundreds were saved?”
Koloman accepted his coffee from the waitress, and the girl glanced between the two men, hesitating a moment then leaving as another table waved or her attention.

“And for what? Two hundred of his men dead? You know full well what happened to their carcasses afterwards. And they may not have admitted it, but he got one hell of a fucking paycheck for it. Probably why he's got these damn delusions now. Chikadees go a lot further in Africa then that toilet paper half those hell holes use for money. Fuck, shiny rocks and pretty sea shells go farther.”
White had seen the press release, and had watched the combat footage. Who hadn't? It was powerful stuff. Wasn't a lot of editing involved. Hell, the man had sung to his dying troops. The man cared too much, and that was going to break him eventually. And when he eventually broke, a lot of people were going to die.

“When was the last time you did something that made that much of a difference, John? I'm growing soft here. Hell, I have no idea how you do it. I haven't been challenged in a long time. But that's not what it's about. I want to help people.”

“You already tried that one.”
White's tone was entirely deadpan, just staring at Koloman. “It's fucking Africa. One more gun isn't going to make a lick of difference there.”

Koloman smirked at that, “No, but I know more then how to just kill a man, John. So do you. Kill the right man, and do it the right way, and you take the fight out of his followers.”

“Just a matter of time before one of those half-starved idiots figure that out for themselves. You going to keep an eye on the Frenchie?”

Claire grabbed a trio of porcelain cups off the bar's workstation and deftly balanced them on her tray. Lydia, their barrista and bartender - the place couldn't afford both to work simultaneously - looked up. "That one's the decaf," she pointed, reading the questioning look that arched one of Claire's brows high. Like other restaurants, they had their system to signal things like that. A soda positioned on the corner of a ticket meant it was diet. A cup with the handle angled toward the bar side meant decaf, or so Claire thought. "Damn!"
She said, sure she had it right that time. "Thanks Lyds,"
she winked and took off to deliver the drinks.

She passed the table of gunmen on the way and made sure she caught at least one of their eyes as she did. She was dying to take them something else, just so she could listen to more of their strange conversation. In spared moments she wondered what they did for a living. Each had his own dangerous air about him that reminded her of Tony's friend Michael, but she didn't imagine them as soldiers. It was like they were cowboys of the wild west stopping to wet their throats at the local saloon. In that case, wouldn't that make Claire some sort of prostitute? Well, at Kallisti she wasn't much better despite the hands' off policies Oriena instilled. Either way, she was making good money between the two jobs. And in both places she found moments of entertainment where she could.

She wound lithely between the tables and delivered straws, napkins and answered questions about the menu with a smile. She took a food order and stopped by her cowboys' table on the way to the kitchen. "Can I get you two anything else?"
She toyed with her tablet pen between her fingers as she asked. Maybe a female slave for the night? Her grin quirked ornery as her imagination took them places that would make the men at Kallisti quite riled up by the suggestion. Insinuations always went over great there; she had the tips to prove it.

Again, neither man were so shy as to cut their conversation short as the waitress came by again. While neither spoke loudly, exactly, there could be little doubt that anyone at neighbouring tables would have been able to follow along without much effort. Koloman and White both looked to Claire as she returned, and Koloman waved dismissively at White's last statement.

White looked Claire over inquisitively; there could be no denying she was a very attractive young woman, but that didn't really seem to matter much to him. "Koloman, what do you think of her? Sharp fashion sense?"

Koloman frowned in confusion, then looked Claire over and offered a nod of agreement, "Yes. So?"

"Right. Seems intelligent?"

"Also yes. Your point?"

"Well young lady. Koloman here doesn't seem to be listening to a word I say, so maybe a lovely young woman like yourself can talk some sense into him. The idiot thinks it's a bright idea to give up a very, very well paying job here in Moscow, the beating heart of the modern world, to run back to his ancestral homeland and save the day. A black knight in shining armour off to save the unenlightened masses of his bass-ackwards brothers. Sorry, Legionnaire. Going to change your name too?"

Koloman groaned and waved White down, "This has nothing to do with my being African, White, and you know it."

"I do know it. Hell, at least I've actually BEEN to Africa, you idiot. First hand experience right here. Now why the hell are you still talking to me when she's standing right there? You want me to go with you because you're in love, that it? Don't swing for the other team, sorry big boy."

"Die in a fire, John. Die in a fire."
Koloman sighed and sipped his coffee, then looked to Claire and offered an appologetic shrug, "He's just sad that the only guy as good as he is is leaving. Means he doesn't have anyone to try and pawn off the jobs he doesn't want to do."
Claire felt her eyes flick excitedly back and forth as the two talked about her. Of course she was sharp, intelligent and beautiful, but that was besides the point.

She picked up on their names. The two men did work together after all, and as the second one made clear, were not a couple. Thankfully. She could usually tell that sort of thing, but she'd made a fool of herself in the past.

Koloman wanted to go to Africa for work. John thought the idea was stupid. Claire's grin hovered on her lips like a shadow. John was toying with Koloman, and judging by the other man's dismissal, it wasn't to much avail.

Claire laughed at Koloman's threat. She nodded in agreement with his assessment about John's laziness. She looked him over, considering, and shook her head. "You have nothing to worry about, John. You won't die in a fire. It'll be far more terrible than that."
She held his gaze a moment longer but the seriousness faded in a laugh.

She turned bacck to Koloman. "I should know, I'm actually rather psychic. In fact, it runs in my family. Three generations now."
She pointed at his chest, "You, on the other hand, won't die in Africa at all."
She crossed her arms, eyes squinted like she was peering far away. A morbid smile ghosted her lips. "No, somewhere quite different."

Both men shared a glance at her claim of psychic capabilities. The two men frowned, then had decidedly different reactions. White looked to Koloman with a disgusted expression, while Koloman flashed a cocky smile. The pair held the look a moment, then spoke almost in unison; "Old. In a bed. Natural causes."
For White, it was probably the worst death imaginable. Wasted away, weak, useless, forgotten. Sure it meant he never met his better, but that didn't help.

"Old age, in a bed surrounded by weeping family."
And for Koloman, it wasn't such a terrible thought really. Long life, successful, remembered.

"It's old age isn't it? Fuck that would be terrible."
White scowled and sipped his coffee.

Koloman however looked to Claire again, "By your accent, you are American? I did not realize they had much of a fortune teller tradition there. So dare I ask where I die? Or will you allow me my illusion of six teary-eyed grey-haired children and a hundred grandchildren crowded around my death bed?"
Kolomon's flashy smile confirmed her initial impression. She definitely liked him better than John, although she wouldn't turn away from flirting with either. When they both answered at the same time, with practically the same response, she laughed, but more at-them than with-them. It was like these two were brothers.

She thought about teasing them with offers to make the end of their lives more exciting, but the last time she chided something along those lines, it was taken quite the wrong way. Kolomon took the option away from her. "Yep, I am. But you clearly haven't spent much time in Brooklyn. There's as many psychic shops and tarot readers as there are liquor stores."
Which meant there were a damn lot of them. "But if you want a private reading, you'll have to make an appointment."
Her smile turned coy as she tapped their techy tabletop. It rippled to life under her fingertips, but she swiped away the menus and traced her name and phone number in their place. Kolomon, or John, for that matter, since he was on his way out of the continent it seemed, were welcome to take it.

"And take me out for drinks first,"
she glanced at John, just to make sure he knew he was included in the invitation. "Maybe you can convince me Moscow is the place to stay."

Koloman smirked and shrugged, "Never left the CCD's borders honestly. Africa will be my first excursion into the lawless ruins of the old world."
He chuckled jokingly; he didn't quite buy into the common belief of how poor off the rest of the world was, contrary to what the daily news might have to say on the matter. As far as most folks seemed to think, the US was nothing more then an irradiated wasteland these days, not a fleck of grain to be found anywhere.

"You're in for a rude awakening, Koloman. Africa is about as bad as they say it is. Sure there's some nice parts, but what you've got in mind, you won't be seeing much of those."
A statement of fact, as far as Hood was concerned. He had seen and done some things in Africa most folks would consider truly terrifying in his time in Africa, the whole Ghul thing not included.

"You heard the lovely lady, John. I don't die in Africa, so what are you worrying about?"
Koloman flashed her a sly grin and wink; he was of course just goading John along again.

"Exactly. She said you don't die IN Africa. Cryptic prophecy bullshit. So maybe it means you don't die underground, 'in', Africa. Maybe you die standing on it. Or in the air above it. Off the coast maybe? You've read a book or two in your time. These things are open to some pretty wide interpretation. Or maybe you get wounded there, and evac'd to a CCD hospital and die there."
He'd had his fill of prophecies and riddles with the Atharim to know to pick out the little details. Plus he'd read a book or two in his time too. They always ended up screwing folks over with those stupid prophecies.

Koloman chuckled and waved John off, then quirked an eyebrow as Claire put her digits on the tabletop. Both men were used to women throwing themselves at their feet; the sorts of places they frequented when working, they stood out like sore thumbs to women used to suffering the attentions of rich sycophants and worthless playboy debutantes. Men who smelled of blood and cordite and sweat were a rare thing that turned more then a few heads.

That said, neither had actually expected anything of Claire's apparent interest. Waitresses were the type who knowingly led men along to get better tips. Koloman shrugged apologetically and glanced from Claire to John, "My flight leaves tomorrow evening. Would have left today, but I figured I may as well try to talk John here into coming with me."

John shrugged in return; "I know. Saw your bags were already packed."

"Did you break into my..."

"You left a spare key at the office, remember? Left it at your place for you."
White memorized Claire's info; he didn't need to write something like that down. She was interesting enough to be worth memorizing the number. "Maybe I'll take you up on the offer, Claire. Be interesting to learn how I'm going to clock out. And as for why you should stay in Moscow, well, sure I can think up a few reasons."

Those reasons of course were along the lines of economic security, pay wages, job opportunities, and the like. He was a very practical minded sort of man, and Moscow was the heart of the world these days.
Their bickering spun a web of joy through her heart, but the radiance was briefly overshadowed by Koloman's imminent departure. His loss for choosing Africa. Claire didn't see the appeal, but knowing what did about the darkness looming over Moscow, perhaps he was the wiser of the pair. Claire was drawn to the ominous doom like she was going home, but the light-hearted of the world were right to flee. "In that case, good luck."
Her eyes danced playfully. He would need it.

Meanwhile, John nibbled at the bait, so she turned her attention his way. He was a little too serious for her taste, but the danger hovering around his head was intriguing. "Maybe you will and maybe you won't, but you definitely should."
She winked and nabbed a few empty dishes. "Grab me if you boys need anything else."
She'd keep an eye on them for signs their time had come to an end. The grid had their check ready, they were able to pay whenever they wanted.

She headed for the kitchen.
Calvin arrived with Kristoff. The cafe in itself was higher end, but Kristoff insisted that he buy. Calvin had wanted to invite others. He thought about calling Alex - she had made this happen - but didn't think it would be appropriate with her being his counselor and all. He had made a call to Lucas, but hadn't gotten a response. That was weird of him - he wasn't one who didn't answer a lot.

Things were really looking up, and because of Alex's letter regarding his treatment and therapy, his dream of becoming a police officer was becoming a reality. So tonight was a celebration. He would have a more official one with the rest of the group from the garage later, but Kristoff was a close friend and had insisted on this.

They found a seat next to two other gentlemen having some sort of discussion, and the waitress had just left. They would wait for either her or another waitress to serve them.

"It's not going to be easy you know,"
Kristoff told him.

"Yeah I know, but it's a good time. They're looking for a lot of people. Seems like several are leaving to join the Leigon now."

Kristoff smiled. "I'm surprised you didn't choose that."

Calvin shrugged. "Not really my thing, and I've already had one international move in the next year. No I think I've found a place where I'm happy."
He paused. "I'd wish anyone well who decides to go though. Seems like they're doing something big."
Kristoff gave a nod as the two waited.

Edited by Calvin, Jul 6 2015, 03:56 PM.
The two men shared a glance and White just grinned as Koloman went so far as to lean a bit to one side and watch Claire's departure. It was a rare thing to cross paths with quite so interesting, perhaps unusual, a woman, even in Moscow. Hell, the last one had been Spectra, but her sights were set far higher then the likes of Koloman. Which made her apparently fleeting interest in White quite the mystery.

While Koloman assessed Claire's backside, White's gaze briefly assessed Calvin and Kristoff as the two maneuvered to a table adjacent himself and Koloman. A brief snippet of the pair's conversation caught his attention; a future CCD cop apparently, comments of Africa. No, the two weren't anything to that would require a change of topics between White and Koloman.

"Now see, that right there is another reason not to be running off for some stupid white hat. Kepi, isn't it? You better start memorizing this shit you know. Won't find many women looking that good in Africa. The few that do usually end up in someone's harem, or scarred up so bad you can't tell."
White took a sip of his coffee, apparently unconcerned how hot it was against his hand, thanks to the thick callouses.

Koloman sighed in mock exhaustion and sipped his own coffee, likewise unphased by the beverage's temperature, "Yes, a Kepi. And that's part of why I'm going, John. Seems like it's time for a change there, and this could be the first real step towards it. They came off a huge PR boom with that whole Jedah mess. Knights in shining armour and all that, then plunged straight into the next hell-hole and started saving lives. They've got the momentum and, for a little while at least, the public's attention."

"Yeah, their fifteen minutes of fame. That'll fade. People are ignorant shitbags, they don't care. They'll get tired of hearing about it, the news will stop covering it, and everyone will forget. Like usual. Fuck man, a nuclear reactor nearly went up in the US, and no one cares. Oh sure, there was that big fund raiser BS, few million raised to help folks. And then bam, over and done with. Problem solved, as far as most of these idiots think."

Koloman couldn't argue with him on the point; it was true after all. Folks tended to loose interest in things like that pretty quickly, but he also suspected that Legion Premiere would continue to make excellent use of the internet and social media to stay relevant.

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