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The Blue Line
((From: Scoping for Ink

Rune said goodbye to Thalia after making contact arrangements. The tattoo was going to be amazing, she thought. Thalia's style was right up her alley, and she couldn't wait to see what it was going to look like. But there was time to daydream about the image and what her mom would think of it and what the symbol meant, all of that stuff later. Right now, Rune was walking alongside someone she was willing to bet was an Atharim, and not a newly official Atharim like Rune was. She may have been born into the life, but it wasn't official until visiting an elder and going through the rites, at least that's what Uncle Seth said. But there was one thing that always bugged Rune about that. Oh well, it wasn't Rune's place to figure stuff like that out. She had a job to do.

"Let's take the metro," she suggested and pointed out a set of stairs leading underground. "Have you been on the metro here yet? It's pretty incredible actually."

The blue line was three levels down, which meant a lot of stairs. But it wasn't dingy and dank. The Moscow metro system was like walking through a museum. There were enormous pillars holding up the lofty tiled ceilings. There was marble and gilding. Yet there was something about being underground that made Rune feel confined. Like there was nowhere to run if something went wrong, but she chalked it up to being used to big skies and open road. She certainly wasn't claustrophobic, and it was hard to be homesick when you really didn't have a single place you called home. Just Uncle Seth.

She swiped a metro fare card and passed through the X-ray scanner without incident. She pistol in her bag registered, but carrying was perfectly legal in the CCD, so she was cleared without incident. She handed the card back through to Aria to use and follow. They drew a lot of annoyed looks, almost as many as there were curious looks. Seriously, between Rune's pink fuzzed scalp and Aria's swords, they must look like a couple of conventioneers.

((I kind of moded us along, I hope that's cool!))
ooc: That's good I don't mind

Aria was in awe of the sub-terrain system of trains. It was rare for it to be clean much less pristine as it was. It was an awesome sight, but Aria kept her head in the game this time. She allowed a few moments of awe in between her awareness of her surroundings. It was difficult, but she tried. She kept her mind in the emptiness her father taught her, but it wasn't easy. There was so much. Even the train ride hardly bothered her.

On the hustle and bustle of the train Aria tried not to bump into people, but it was inevitable. Holding on to the handles and standing up in a crowd was difficult at best. Aria had to focus her mind on other things on something other than the people. Maybe conversation would help. Maybe Rune would be more forth coming in the semi-privateness of a crowd who didn't care to mess with a girl with swords and the other with pink hair and a tough look. She smiled, they had to be a sight.

She leaned in close so it was barely a whisper, "What's the interest in the snake biting its own tail?" It was best not to say strange things, strange things got noticed, weird things got noticed, they didn't need anymore attention to them.
Upon Aria’s question, a long pink brow slowly rose. Not just the strangeness of the question, since snakes and celtic signs and tribal symbols were popular tattoo designs for anyone, but at the whispering of the question. Like it was a secret. Of course the Atharim functioned outside of normal society, and their very existence was meant to be as secret as the reason they existed. But Rune’s curiosity slowly morphed into something more edgy, and Rune was suddenly aware of how cramped this tin can really was.

“My uncle had one, and he raised me. Its sort of a tribute I suppose. You might say a family legacy?” She spoke plainly, in her normal tone of voice. The train jolted just about then, swaying to and fro, and Rune’s grip on the handle overhead tightened, momentarily revealing the bulge of her bicep and shoulders. Aria had all the weapons, but Rune had ‘the guns.’

”It’s not just that, though. I want to incorporate a tree and violets into the design. And lots of color, definitely lots of color.” Rune nodded as her black lined eyes kind of rolled up as to gesture at herself. It was apparent Rune was addicted to color. Her eyes were heavily done and her lips shone with a glossy cherry red. Her cheeks were neutral, but even her eyebrows were just as pink as the tips of her hair.

She shrugged it off. She’d always liked color since she’d been denied a chance to wear dangly, dangerous jewelry or accessories. She didn’t so much as wear a belt around her cargo pants. You only need to see the shreds of someone’s earlobe once to decide you’re not interested in wearing earrings ever again.

”Actually I was thinking about getting it on my arm, right about where yours is, as a matter of fact.” She sought Aria’s gaze, wondering if the other girl was going to catch on to what Rune was really trying to say. Without of course coming right out and saying it.
Aria nodded, she got the meaning and smiled with an accepting nod. Rune seemed a bit on the offensive and Aria backed off with the questions. She didn't want to make an enemy before making a friend. This was after all her first person that she had not been given express permission to talk to. The world was changing faster than Aria liked. First shipping her off to Moscow. And then telling her she was going to do it alone. There was going to be so much to learn. Aria was afraid she was going to fail. For the remainder of the trip to the Red Square Aria dwelled on her circumstances, her father had sent her away. She knew he was falling ill. But why send her away. Surely she could have saved. The whole situation seemed odd to Aria.

They got off the train with little incident. The small talk had been few and far between. Aria wondered what Rune's uncle had been like. He he been as much of a stick in the mud as her father? Did he love her like a daughter? But the Red Square was busy and there were a lot of people hustling around. Aria turned her attention back to what she was supposed to concentrating on. She narrowly missed touching a woman's hand with a jerk. She sighed as people scowled at her. It was going to take a while to get use to this place.

Aria half followed Rune back up the three levels to the main street. They walked through the Red Square to a street that was pretty much lined with eccentricities - book stores that looked like they held old fashioned books like the libraries in the Vatican. It was as if they had walked back in time. Aria still loved the smell of paper and old musty books. She wished she could stop and look, but there would be plenty of time for that later. Aria stopped in stunned awe as the nineteenth address came into view. It was a marvel.

Aria took a deep breathe and hoped that Rune knew where to go. That had not been part of her note. Again she chided herself for her carelessness. "Any idea where we go from here?"
By the time they climbed the escalators back up to street level, Rune's opinion of Aria was quite cemented. The girl was an odd duck. Of course, it took one to know one, and of course that only meant Rune was fond of her more. It wasn't like she had the chance to be uber girly growing up...even if Uncle Seth had been embarrassingly emo.

Rune went to the trouble of explaining where they were for Aria's sake. Rune herself wasn't the most widely traveled newcomer to Moscow, but she was practically an encyclopedia compared to Aria. For instance Rune explained that the giant stretch of space before them was the Red Square. Like the same place in all the photographs and documentaries about old Russia. A place once filled with tanks and communists and the iron fist of Russian overlording. She pointed out the colorful domes of Saint Basil's cathedral at the other end of the Square, and the enormous building running the length of it which Rune explained was some sort of shopping mall, but she'd never been inside. Frankly she wasn't even interested in going inside.

She pointed that the public could go in the open areas on the other side of the Kremlin walls itself, inscaleable red bricks, and that once within there were different museums and cathedrals which they could enter. However she warned Aria against trying to go indoors there with her weapons. They confiscate them all and probably fine her a hefty bill just for putting them through the trouble. Or worse...

Pertinent to their lives as Atharim, she pointed out the variety of police patrols by the time they'd walked to Nikolskaya street itself. About then Rune nodded at a Traffic Policeman writing a ticket to a stopped car. He was in the typical CCD black and gray uniform, with the DI - TP patch marking who he was. Rune then winked and said something about how the TP's were also called something else on account of their unfortunate lettering.

There were also actual police if one knew where to look. She said that the locals called them "devils" but not where anyone could hear them say it on account of the ominious black, gray, and orange to their uniform along with the spikey DI symbol. They apparently looked a little devilish, which Rune only shrugged at. She kind of liked the uniform. The police around the Red Square were more than just police though, they were military police, so she warned against going up against them if it were ever necessary. They're highly trained and have more authority than just regular police, she explained.

By the time they made it to Nineteen N. Street, Rune had run out of stuff to talk about. For now anyway. She just kept an eye on Aria. One to make sure the other girl was okay, and two, something was just a little bit off about the girl that made Rune feel a bit uncomfortable, but she couldn't put her finger on it.

"Yep, this is it. Except... she started to walk on, and waved that Aria should follow. "We're not going to go in the front door. This place is the Baccarat Mansion," she explained quietly and led further down the street. She had to be careful about speaking too openly out here on the street, so she nodded and smiled with that American affable grin and said, "Just trust me."

It was about then that Rune's phone buzzed in her bag, so she pulled it out and read the incoming message, her expression half one of concern and half intrigued. It was from Tehya, with a lead on a rougarou. Of course, she definitely couldn't talk about it out here, therefore, they needed to check into HQ soon. Which led her back to guiding Aria on to the secret entrance.

((ooc: I didn't want to mode you too much more than that [Image: 3.png] so if you wanna follow, you can write us out getting into the HQ. I thought it would look weird having people like us coming and going into Baccarat all the time, so I thought it was reasonable there should be other entrances to their basements.))
Aria was happy to have Rune explain things as they went along. If there was one thing Aria enjoyed it was learning about new things. She did her best to avoid people and listen to Rune as they made their way to the check in point. Aria didn't think that building had been what they were after and nodded when Rune went into another direction. It took them into an alley way behind the mansion and into what looked liked service entrance. It made sense to Aria. Rich fancy people don't particularly like the blood and guts of hunting traipsed through their pretty things. Aria chuckled at the thought of some fancy lady screeching at her for tracking in dirt and blood into her white room that was nothing but a place to show of their fancy things. Some people just didn't understand that it's hard to keep you safe AND clean at the same time.

The passages wound through this way and that and they ended up in what could only be the basement. For a basement it was not what Aria would think, but then the basements in Vatican City were not what you would expect either. Aria remembered the name that she was told to seek out once she got to headquarters. As they passed doors Aria read the names and stopped dead in front of the one she needed. "This is where I need to go." It was a statement of fact, she turned to Rune and hoped that the fear didn't show on her face. Who was this Father Stone she was going to see? "Maybe I'll see you around?" Aria smiled. It would be nice to at least know one face in this wide new world.

(ooc: leaving room for you if you want to go in and see the events that pass with her as if that's the place you need to go. The man is Aria's contact from her father. For all I know he could be the head 'recruiter' type dude. If you move on I'll start another thread you can continue on here if you'd like.)
Rune kept an eye on Aria, mostly because the woman seemed so..uneasy. She'd not been around many other Atharim before taking her oaths with the conclave, and that group was definitely serious, but they weren't so nervous? Maybe?

When Aria pointed out the door she needed, Rune glanced up at the name, hefted the bag on her shoulder, and shrugged. "Probably bound to run into one another eventually." Rune considered that message from Tehya, and wondered if Aria had the same message waiting for her. But as Aria seemed to have more pressing matters at hand here at HQ, Rune had no idea if they'd see one another again.

"Rune Marx, you can track me down in our message comms under the handle 'Vroom'" She smiled a glossy, red smile, smoothed the fuzz on her hair and said her goodbye's.

((ooc: Rune wouldn't impose on someone else's business, so she'll take off. But i'm sure we'll meet up soon. And Tehya can send Aria the same message she sent me and we can meet up at Hood's!))
Aria nodded as Rune left, maybe they would see each other again, maybe not. Who knew, right now Aria had more imposing things to worry about. The man to whom she was about to met was a long time friend of her father. They apparently were in training together but their ways had been separated over the years. Aria didn't know if that was a good thing or not. What had her father told him about her? Was it all bad? Aria tentatively knocked on the solid door in front of her. A strong but distracted voice called, "Come in."

Aria took a deep breath, shouldered her bag and reached for the doorknob. The metal was cold against her skin from the cool air in the basement. She twisted slowly and as soon as the door was open a bare crack the emotions of the occupant inside nearly knocked Aria back a step. She wrapped herself even tighter in the bubble of protection and prayed to God that this was over quickly. Anger was the predominate emotion penetrating Aria's world, she hoped it wasn't at her.

When the door reached it's breadth Aria stepped in and closed the door quietly before she turned to the elderly man before her. His deep hazel eyes stared back at her with anger. Aria gulped. "Aria Piccolo. I'm here from Vatican City."

Father Stone nodded and waved his hand at Aria to take a chair, as he pointed to his ear. He was on the phone. Aria breathed a sigh of relief he was not angry at her. Aria sat down in the chair across from the desk. It was rickety and she nearly fell out of it when she put her weight onto the legs. Aria steadied herself and kept her emotions in check while she glanced around the room. For being someone's office it was sparsely decorated and the most horrid orange color you could imagine. Everything was pristine in the room. Nothing showed even a speck of dust and nothing looked out of place. Aria knew this was a man who desired order above all things.

Aria tried not to listen to the conversation, but Father Stone was being loud in his anger. "I don't care if that's the way it's always been. I'm not wasting my resources on some flipping girl who is old enough to handle herself."

Aria's heart dropped a mile. She knew exactly what they were talking about and her hopes had been dashed, he was angry at her. Or at someone from the Vatican because of her.

With a loud smash, Father Stone brought his hand down to hang up the receiver. Aria wondered if he'd busted the fragile piece of technology. But he didn't seem concerned about the action. He stared at Aria with a malicious grin. "That was Father Dimitri on the phone. He thinks he can give me instructions on how to handle his little treasure he sent our way." Father Stone stood up and walked around his desk to tower over Aria. "He has another thing coming to him if he thinks he can order me around like we were boys still."

Aria looked down at the floor. Father Stone let out a small cackle of joy that raised Aria's hackles, she wished her guns were a little easier to access at this very moment. It would be comforting to feel the cold steal against her hand instead of the brash nature of this man.

Father Stone handed, rather dropped a rather large box on to her lap. "Inside you will find things Father Dimitri sent you to get you started." On top of the box he placed a smaller one labeled, 'Aria's Handler'. "You will not find yourself controlled by anyone short of yourself girl." He grabbed Aria's chin gruffly and made her look up at him. "Do you understand me?" Aria had very little time to react before his hatred of her filled her body. It was too much and Aria's head immediately started to throb, and with in moments her stomach reacted with the same fervor, leaving nothing of her last meal in her stomach.

The next moment Aria found herself on the floor. Her cheek ached from the pain of Father Stone's hand but Aria had not even seen nor felt the action as it took place. She lay in slump on the floor as Father Stone kicked at her so he could hurriedly get by and clean himself up.

From the door Father Stone frowned, "I expect you gone when I get back. Your next mission is in your new wallet on my desk." He turned to leave but turned back quickly, "If I find anything else missing I'll have your head - furia." The last word he nearly spit out at Aria as she lay nearly helpless on the floor.

The pain inside was subsiding but her metal control was shot, she really needed a place to just drown out the world. But she had no home and there was nothing she could do about anything right now. Aria pulled herself together long enough to get outside of the Atharim HeadQuarters with the packages she'd acquired and a new wallet in her pocket. She had never owned one personally, if she wasn't in so much pain she'd be very excited about the new prospects technology would bring.

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