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The Strong and the Weak
Leaving Jensen's apartment, Giovanni found himself wandering around the city and taking turns at random. As a vagabond, he had a good sense of direction and knew he could find his way back if needed. It's not like he really had a home to go to anyways.

His thoughts drifted. A lot had changed in a short amount of time. He had stayed in Moscow. For the first time in three years, Giovanni wasn't living the nomadic life. He still had to scrounge for food, but he was staying in the same place.

The power was the main difference. He had embraced his ability to utilize it, contrary to his beliefs that he was an abomination to do so. He had power now, so why not use it.

His appearance had changed as well. Not much, but he was dressing more fashionably even though he still stuck with mostly black. He had scrounged up (or stolen) enough to purchase some decent looking clothing that gave him less of a hobo appearance.

His wandering took him to the Underground City. He looked around seeing those that the city had forgotten about. Druggies and peddlers walked the streets openly. Prostitutes in revealing clothing stood at street corners while men watched, occasionally approaching one. Giovanni saw one man that reminded him of a movie he saw as a child - something about "buying death sticks."

Why am I here?
thought Giovanni.

He seized the power enhancing his senses. His change of dress had one flaw in a place like this. He looked like he had money and would be a target for pick pockets. As a thief, this is the kind of person he would have looked for. With enhanced senses, he should be able to catch anyone brave enough to try to steal from him.

Most of the thieves around here are probably poor at it anyways. Not even worthy of the title.

He avoided looking at the prostitutes calling to him, and sure enough before long, a young man feigned bumping into him. Giovanni felt the hand groping for his wallet. His speed increased by the power, Giovanni grabbed the man's wrist as he turned to glare directly into the young man's eyes.

There was fear there. A fear different from that of a normal thief getting caught by a cop. Cops were relatively nice, but the look in this man's face showed that he knew Giovanni was no cop. The young "thief" knew he would be lucky if he kept his hand after this was over.

Giovanni glanced at the man's had holding his wallet and returned his gaze to the man's eyes. He got the idea and dropped the wallet on the ground. Giovanni threw him to the ground, using to the power to enhance the effect a bit. The man fell backwards and crawled away before scrambling to his feet to run.

Giovanni brought his gaze up, and gave the same glare to those around him. Many dropped their eyes. The message was clear - this man is not a target.

Fool. The strong take from the weak, not the weak from the strong.
Giovanni thought picking up his wallet and beginning his walk again.

Many gave him a wide berth and Giovanni smiled. He had power. Not just the one power, but more than that.

I am a god. A god with no worshippers.
he thought.

That would have to change. He would need to find followers. The strong always dominate the weak and he was strong.

Edited by Giovanni Cavelli, May 29 2014, 08:21 PM.
There were two basic types of people in areas like this - the predator and the prey - and within moments, everyone knows which one you are. Giovanni had shown these people that he was a predator and he carried himself like one. He stood at his full height and confidence streamed off of him. No one here would touch him.

I am a god. A god with no worshippers.
he thought again.

He moved and leaned against a wall, where he could keep an eye out for anyone stupid enough to try to pick pocket him again and contemplated his next actions. His eyes shifted back and forth watching the entire scene. Prostitutes continued to call out to him, thinking he had money and everyone else gave him a wide berth.

The strong take from the weak, so it's time to claim what is mine...but what is mine?

Giovanni was a foreigner in Russia and the desire to conquer filled him. He had a desire to take what he wanted by force. He knew that trying to attack the CCD in the heart of it's power was a stupid move. Trying at all would be stupid.

Giovanni knew of Nikolai Brandon from his Atharim training. It was hard not to know of the man. He was wealthy and had resources - and a lot of them. No, the CCD would not be his domain. Giovanni wondered, however, if the strong could work together. Could he join with Brandon?

No. Not yet. I need a domain of my own.

To Brandon, Giovanni would be a nobody. He had to make something of himself first. He was strong, but it was likely his domain wouldn't start that way. Like a muscle, he would have to work it to get it stronger. He would need to start small and then build up. Strong enough to merge or conquer.

The question still remained as to where that would be. Why Moscow? What here had caused Giovanni to stop moving? Was there such thing as fate?

All these questions plagued Giovanni's mind, the thoughts suddenly broken by a conversation happening nearby.

"People have been seeing them again. People in camouflage and masks. Some of them are wearing priests. Some say they have seen altars in the lower levels too"

Giovanni tuned them out, but began to think about what they said.

Sounds like a cult of some sort
he thought.

He pondered that for a moment and then a grin began to spread across his face. Giovanni would take what was his.

Edited by Giovanni Cavelli, May 31 2014, 07:36 PM.
There was indeed one man moving among the masses who was another predator. His prey? Thankfully, none were present at the moment, due in large part to the presence of the predator.

Armande was in all black, a color choice that in and of itself would draw no attention upon the city streets of the surface or in the tunnels below. What drew the eye of more than one drug-addled bloodsack he passed was the graceful way in which he moved, almost like a shadow drifting from one crevice to the next. He was in one such tunnel now, nimbly avoiding the crags and debris littering the floor. When he made to move into the open, such as where tunnels intersected upon cavernous rooms, he crossed openly and fearlessly.

These upper levels of the Underground were littered with individuals that could not stir his heart from its present focus. Women and men often offered themselves. One man seemed to recognize the type of armor Armande wore, "Bounty hunters are not welcome down here, scum!" that drew Armande's gaze for a moment. He crossed to the man, considering how to address such a mistaken fool.

He was in armor. The individual was correct in his assessment. His vest was not covert, however, as it was worn over the underlying clothing. Modern day chain-mail, as Armande liked to think of it. What wrapped his chest and torso was both stab and spike resistant: a necessary mandate for anyone hunting creatures of claws, fangs and intelligence. Similar coverings were on his forearms and shoulders. His thighs were wrapped with body-molded underarmor, but his hands were free, and for the moment, so was his throat. That was not to last, however, because as he approached the man, he pulled the headwear over his scalp, nose and mouth, until only the slit of his eyes remained. Their blue hue glowed like a cat in the dark.

"I am a hunter," he replied, correcting the man, "but not of bounty." A second individual seated next to the first instinctively withdrew from Armande's attentions, an act that the Regus judged to be quite wise.

He continued upon his way. As he did, his hand went to the handle of what appeared to be a safari knife belted at his hip. Rather, it was a telescoping sword that extended to a length perfect for close-quarters combat. Other edged weapons were arrayed upon his body. As was a ballistic should the first, second, and third lines of offense fail him. In the end, there were still his hands, that as they lowered him down the rungs of a ladder and he dropped to the second level tunnel, landing in a smooth crouch, were still the most dangerous weapon he bore.

The hunt went on.
Giovanni continued through to lower levels. He was still in the upper levels of the underground city and was beginning to approach the second of the three areas. He knew the cults would be inthe deepest level. He debated going back to.the city to get a sword, but if he was going to win over the cult, it would be easier to do so with the Power.

Word of his exploits had reached this level. The streets were strangely empty, with the exception of a few drug addled individuals and prostitutes. As a result, he let go of the Source and relied on his natural senses.

A new man stood out to him. The man was able to move rather stealthily and Giovanni wondered if the man meant him to see himself. He wore a ninja mask and armor. This man was definitely a predator. Two predators would account for the lack of people on the streets. Giovanni was unsure of what brought the man down here, but doubted a man was down here for a casual stroll.

Giovanni knew that the man probably had seen him. He started to think of several reasons of why he would be down here. He had no desire to get in a fight at this point. Who knew what existed inthe next set of levels.
Deeper into the earth Armande dropped. Sometimes it was through naturally collapsed holes. Others were man-made ramps molded from rotted plywood and crude spikes pounded into the walls.

He passed other passages, some too narrow to accommodate his frame. They plunged like wormholes away from corners or opened from above. A dozen different creatures came to mind that might make use of such thoroughfares, but only a few preferred the dank humidity of the subterranean underground. The slithering Naga, for one, and the cherufe, for another. Although of the two potential burrowers, the Atharim were aware of solely the former in Moscow. The second, the reptilian beast, were only rumored to thrive in places outside their natural, volcanic habitats. Yet Armande proceeded warily through the tunnels, and set sharp eyes along the shadows, seeking evidence of their slithering tracks. They left behind a swathe of slime like giant slugs. God forbid if he found a bundle of eggs.

Soon, the descent took him away from the clouded stank of close-quarters human populations. These mid-levels which he wagered began about six floors from the surface, were thinned of people. It would be hard to sustain life down here, constantly retracing one's steps to the surface to pass through danger and ilk only to return and repeat day after day. It would take elaborate systems powered by clean water and electricity to grow a source of food. No, nobody could remain on these midlevels for long. Such was why he encountered only a few crumpled bodies in the corners. Those that did not move at his passage he checked for signs of the supernatural. Only one did his blade exterminate: a starving dreyken, otherwise injured, but whose body was consuming itself. Armande would take no chance that it would regenerate itself. It hissed and clutched at him when he came close, but a flash of steel, the thump of a head severed from its body, and the hissing stopped.

Armande continued onward, noting signs of life, mapping his way as he went. The Underground was the final frontier for the Atharim, largely unexplored, yet teeming with vermin.

Such was why when he came upon a figure in the distance that his suspicion immediately rankled. The individual was one among the vermin that stood out. He was darkly attired and yet moved as though he stood in the limelight. He strode purposefully toward a goal, though Armande did not know what it was he sought.

"You there," Armande called out, voice firm and commanding, yet shadowed by sagely wisdom. "What dark business takes you toward the center of the earth?" Armande's weapons remained put away. The man would be given the benefit of the doubt, for now, but Armande would never walk away from a creature that needed sent to slaughter.

Edited by Regus, Jun 3 2014, 08:33 AM.
"You there! What dark business takes you toward the center of the earth."

The man approaching Giovanni was definitely not one of the weak. He was also experienced. The shout was commanding, but yet a wisdom filled the mans words. Giovanni would have to play this right. The man wasn't holding a weapon, but he moved like one.

And Giovanni felt fear. This man was just scary. Giovanni allowed himself to look startled. That would be a natural reaction to someone yelling out.

The man's voice had an Italian accent, matching Giovanni's own accent. As the man came closer, Giovanni could see the wisdom in the mans eyes and resolution. The man wouldn't give up no matter what the cost. Giovanni had to play this right or he would lose before he even began. Giovanni knew that soon he would have enemies, but now wasn't the time to show his hand.

Giovanni stepped forward non-threateningly, raising his hands a bit to show he was not armed. Shying away from people such as this show that you have something to hide. Giovanni needed to show that he was legitimate.

Giovanni let the man approach, walking forward to meet him, hands still slightly raised. He had a few seconds to figure out what to say and Giovanni figured that some form of the truth would be best. The man had the look of someone who could see through an overt lie.

"I'm a sociology student, researching cults and why people join them. There are rumors of cults in these tunnels. I am looking for evidence to prove these rumors."
Giovanni said.

He continued, "I'm also trying to figure out why people join and what people get out of it. I want to know how they are led and about their codependency to this structure and each other."

Giovanni's answer was mostly truth. All of the information he said he was looking for he would need to know to be successful in his personal mission.
Edited by Giovanni Cavelli, Jun 7 2014, 03:41 PM.
Armande allowed the student to approach. At the moment, he was on good footing and surrounded by a suitable radius for an altercation should one ensue between them. The student could take the risk of traversing uneven terrain, if there were any. These tunnels had the feeling of homemade engineering, Armande trusted their stability little more than he trusted what lived within them.

As the student came within the globe of Armande's flashlight, he was studied very thoroughly. The man's hands were raised in a non-threatening manner. Beneath dark attire Armande guessed the most likely locations he might conceal an edged weapon. If he were to settle on a less civilized offense and fired a gun, he should aim for Armande's face, as the liquid kevlar of his body armor would stop anything likely to be fired at this distance; he'd not survive a second chance to shoot.

"You have insightful questions," Armande replied. His posture was kept at a slight pivot, his weight balanced from one leg to the next, a defensive posture. He would not be taken by surprise. Yet the tone of his conversation remained academic. He recognized Rome on the young man's tongue; similar sounds slept on his own, but the accent of his native land were long diluted since an orphaned boyhood. More prevalent were the decades of Cairo's influence. The trained ear might discover Jerusalem, Boston, and everywhere in between should they listen well-enough.

"I know of similar rumors and seek these groups as well. We must know if these peoples, or what they harbor, if anything, are dangerous."

A twist and the flashlight transitioned from a solitary beam to a diffusable glow that illuminated their surroundings and each other. Armande set the lamp on the ground at his feet while not taking his eyes off the student. Wary men survive the dark, and Armande was far underground.

"Historians believed the first dwellers were driven to seek refuge in the undercity during the creation of The Pale by Catherine the Great in 1791 to remove Jews from Imperial Russia, and herd them to designated lands on the western borders of the empire. Three-hundred and fifty years later, you are seeking their descendants; who can guess what sort of remnant survives from their forefathers?" Armande's gaze lifted to the arc of the tunnel's ceiling. There were still many levels to descend before reaching the rumored destination. Armande had not delved so deep himself as his intentions for this day, but with a companion, perhaps he might finally see the strange jewels of the underground city.

"I seek answers to the same questions as you. Let us journey together, as there will be dangers to pass before we reach them. If they even exist." Behind the wisps of hair concealing the corners of his mouth, his lips moved into something resembling a smile. "I am called Armande."
"I seek answers to the same questions as you. Let us journey together, as there will be dangers before we reach them. If they even exist. I am called Armande." the stranger said with a smile in his tone.

The man wasdefinitely strong, but Giovanni was a god. It was not the time to reveal himself yet though, so Giovanni could play the weaker if needed.

Giovanni reached out his hand to shake hands with Armande while offering his own name, "I'm Giovanni"

The pair began to move farther into.the tunnels, looking for any sign of cult activity. Giovanni was worried that Armande would kill his eventual followers if he presumed them to be a threat. Giovanni did not know the man's actual goals in this expedition.

It doesn't matter. This man is the stronger than them so if he chooses to kill them, that it his perogative. They are expendable anyways.
Giovanni thought.

The cultists were only a tool to Giovanni. They were a group of followers that he would use to build himself up and become stronger. If need be, he could always find others that would recognize his godhood. Giovanni wasn't weak, but there were still many that were stronger than him. He would need to train and become more experienced.

For now Giovanni would bide his time and keep.his cards close to his chest. Now was not the time to reveal himself to.the public.

Giovanni turned to address Armande while continuing to walk. Armande didn't see to be the chatty type, and Giovanni defintely wasnt , but Giovanni had to play the role of the eager student.

"Its amazing that these tunnels still exist under here. If people.have made the deeper portions their home it would be quite a find."

Edited by Giovanni Cavelli, Jun 11 2014, 08:47 AM.
They shook hands. Armande's clasp was sure and forceful, but swift. He did not like his hands, one of his best weapons, occupied. They turned to travel farther. The young man's name was safely stowed away in memory.

He murmured along with Giovanni's amazement. "Moscow is full of tunnels," he replied. "Began by the government and expanded upon by those the government drove down here." He lifted the light, still in lamp mode, to the wall where a swath of color drew his gaze. Graffitti - the shapes and symbols of the Russian tongue were familiar vulgarity, but Armande studied them closely anyhow. Such signage may conceal something as mundane as words of warning for topsiders or something far more sinister...and interesting.

This one held nothing of value. He moved on, keeping his traveling companion in the corner of one eye, but not completely, Armande was distracted by keeping everything in the corners of both eyes at once. Despite the heightened awareness, he moved without hesitation.

"Your accent is Rome, is it not, Giovanni? I am Sicilian myself, though it has been so long since I have seen the place of my birth I can barely claim the heritage. I have spent much time in Rome since then." He lifted the lamp so to better see Giovanni's expression and so gauge the honesty that might change it. "Have you any affilitation with the church? I hear Pope Patricus has a burden to reach those of whom you seek: those lost on the edge of hell."
Armande spoke more of the history of his tunnels. People the government drove down here expanded the tunnels. Giovanni kept his eyes searching the walls for signs of cultists. His plan was to gather information, return to the surface to gather resources, and come back to these tunnels to claim what was his.

"Your accent is Rome , is it not, Giovanni? I am Sicilian myself, though it has been so long since I have seen the place of my birth I can barely claim the heritage. I have spent much time in Rome since then. Have you any affiliation with the church? I hear Pope Patricus has a burden to reach those of whom you seek: those lost on the edge of hell."

Giovanni answered honestly, continuing to move forward and looking at Armande. If the man had spent that much time in Rome, he would recognize Giovanni's Roman accent and dialect. "Si, signore. I am from Roma, but have spent a good amount of time traveling the last few years. As far as the church, I used to attend Mass, but haven't in quite some time."

The light glinted on the wall behind Armande, and something seemed off about it catching Giovanni's eye. A look of confusion came upon Giovanni's face and he turned to look at the wall, bringing his light to it and approaching it. Amongst the graffiti, five straight lines appeared. As Giovanni approached, he placed his hand on the marks and realized that they were not written on the wall. They appeared to be claw marks that were gouged into the wall.

"Armande, what do you make of this?"
he said gesturing to the marks.

Edited by Giovanni Cavelli, Jun 15 2014, 01:17 PM.

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