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Interview on interview
Lih sat for a while, then began to pace in the conference room. He stared down into the corner stand where there was an ornate brass timepiece... a vintage clock. He watched as the imperceptible crawl of its polished hands across the equally gleaming dial of the timepiece. 

He went to the small door of the conference room, and looked out into the narrow hallway. People were busy elsewhere. He could hear the echo of raised voices in the distance.

He went back, sat down in the comfy leather armchair, and sipped a cup of now cold caffeine somebody from chief inspector Drayson's office had brought. 

He took out Aiden Finnegan's novel Weaving Wheel and tried to read another one of the Irish folktales, but his mind wasn't on it.

His senior from Drayson's office reappeared and closed the door behind him.

"What's going on, Sir?" Lih asked, rising to his feet. "When can I start this interview?"

"In a short while, I trust," said the tall, copper skinned man evasively. He flexed his chin, as if there was much more that he wanted to say but couldn't.

Lih stared at him and slowly resumed his seat.

"In the meantime, is there anything I can arrange to have brought out to you? Some refreshments, maybe?"

Upon Lih shaking his head, the senior officer turned to leave... 

Lih asked the empty room, quietly and urgently, "I'm not in trouble am I?"
Viktor Lih
Officer of CCDPD
Alex didn't like this part of her job anymore than talking to the criminals. Thankfully none were as odd as Dane Gregory. His display and his 'issues' were things Alex was glad she got out of the profiling business. But using her gifts to suss out potention Domovoi was something she was never going to get used to. These were cops. Men who were here to protect them, and she had to profile them like they were a typical crimiinal. Some where. Some turned out to even evade her most sincere questions. Dorian Vega being number one on her list.

Spoken to the man many times before he annouced to the company that he was Atharim. Fucking Atharim. As if she'd ever trust the man again.

This one had run into a bunch of 'zombies'. Weird reports automatically got sent to Domovoi. They weren't called the monster squad lovingly by it's men for nothing.

Alex pushed opened the door to hear the last of question being asked to the air. "Of course not Officer Lilh. We are just here to talk. Take a seat." Normally she'd have done this in her office but that was across town and she was already here.

She didn't offer him her hand, touching was not something she did often. Her gifts were not of manipulation but touch strengthened that bond, and Alex was 100% positive she didn't want anything todo with his personal anxiety about this situation. Alex sat down facing the door. "I'm Dr. Alex Pirozzi, I'm a profiler here in Moscow, but recently I've been working with the Domovoi units. Do you know what they are?"
Lih didn't proffer his hand.

Instead, Lih occupied his chair like a mannequin that had been artfully posed as an artist's model. From this vantage point he considered the being seated opposite of him.

This individual was, without a doubt, Dr. Alex Pirozzi. Lih recognized her voice well enough from dozens of high level briefings featuring criminals she'd profiled, although the two of them had never spoken. Lih was ordinarily far beneath Alex's notice. She dealt with CCDPD business at the highest levels, and kept the company of governors, senior officers and chief inspector Drayson. Lih had heard it suggested that Alex could read a man's micro-expressions like an open book.

Alex was a good looking woman dressed in professional attire with highlights in her dark hair which she pulled back into a bun. Her soft European features managed to be both striking and delicate in their construction: her eyes, for instance. Green and all too understanding to be trusted...

Lih wasn't keen to speculate precisely whose memory, imagination or inner thoughts she'd drifted in out of. Even though she had asked him about the domovoi without really looking at him.

He had to concentrate to clear his head of other distractions and focus on her question.

Lih hesitated. "I'm sorry," he said. "Who are the domovoi?"
Viktor Lih
Officer of CCDPD
Alex smiled. "Perhaps you've heard of them as the Monster squad?" Alex leaned forward and waved away the question it hardly mattered if he knew who they were. She would tell him anyway. "Domovoi is a special unit. It's sole purpose is to deal with the strange cases - specifically those dealing with Channelers and other humanoid creatures and sentient beings - among the other things out there."

"We really don't know how far Domovoi's jurisdiction goes. We are only just now getting our heads around that magic exists and how do we deal with the nefarious things a man or woman can do with them."

She smiled at Officer Lih. "Like your last excursion. Would you like to tell me about it?" Alex set her papers down on the table and wove her fingers together to listen. She didn't need to take notes, this was not a session. She was here to listen as much as she was to determine if Officer Lih and his partner were able to handle the stresses of working in Domovoi.
“Monster squad,” the psych profiler had said, as if there were some doubt as to Lih’s knowledge. Her voice was surprisingly soft and amiable, and there was the rumor of a smile on her lips.

Lih felt a little easier immediately. He didn’t want to show fear in front of the Doctor; Costa would never let him live it down.

He nodded and smiled back.

“You’ve read the reports, Doctor. Mine, and that of my fellow officers. I cannot imagine telling you any detail you don’t already know.”

Of course, there were things Lih had left unsaid in his report…

The smile disappeared from his face.

His mouth went dry and cotton-y. He tried to remember his breathing.

“Do you know what they are? These cannibals?” Lih asked.
Viktor Lih
Officer of CCDPD
He was trying really hard not to tell her anything. But he asked a good question. "I do not. But there are those on the monster squad, pardon me, in Domovoi who do." The Atharim had one former member on the team. Alex dispised that fact, but Vega was a good officer even if IA was digging into him. Sure he covered things up, but he always caught the bad guy. Even if it was a monster he couldn't tell the world about.

Alex had been asked by IA to go through every one of his files, to see if she could find any details about him and his allegiances. Vega was under scruitiny because of his ties and lies. She hoped he got canned for it. Fucking Atharim.

But Alex smiled at the pale officer. "I can read a great many thing from reports, but i want to hear it from you. There are things you can say that aren't in the reports, even if you were to read it word for word. So please indulge me."
CCDPD officer Viktor Lih sat back in his armchair and closed his eyes, and tried to calm his nerves. The doctor’s admission of not knowing what the creatures were had troubled him more than he cared to admit. But she was willing to listen, and this counted for something.

“I can do a little better than telling,” Lih reported, voice calm and expressionless. He adjusted the lens in his right eye, and lined up its faintly glowing indicator with a selection screen/blank slate in the conference room. He looked down into the tinted and slightly inclined glass panel here…

For the moment it took for his augmented lens to disengage and pair with new device, Lih looked at his own face reflected on the projector screen. He had put on his cap and adjusted the set of it, but despite the dark police cap, and despite his splendid work uniform, he still looked like a pale-faced youth. And a frightened one, too.

Lih swallowed.

As the feed dumped from his right lens, he smiled, took his anti-glare shades out of his uniform pocket and put them on. Light flooded in from the screen.

Rising to his feet, Lih showed Alex his captured video of the “incident”, and began speaking words he had rehearsed for umpteenth time in his head, for those new to his process…

“My eyes are sensitive to light. These lens I wear protect them from the light. They also take videos which can be replayed at any time.” He spoke with an increasing curve of a smile, as if to suggest his lens had seen many things, and more importantly, done many things. Heroic, valiant things that had nothing to do with Lih personally.

He decided he didn’t like the cautious way he and Costa had to be questioned, when they’ve done the department proud. But precisely because of what they had endured, they might no longer be the cops people knew. All this became academic, if Lih thought with his head, not his heart.

Lih wandered a few paces away from the screen. The dust-caked floors and flickering lights of the abandoned club where the two cannibals attacked him and Costa spread out around him in all directions. He could just about make out Costa’s noble face, lean and tanned and clean shaven. A fine cop…

He carefully watched the doctor’s face, ignoring the loud bang and series of screams behind him. The arterial sprays of blood thudding unto the floor, as the first cannibal was gunned down, then the second, throat unsentimentally slit with his own long sword… and that wasn’t even the worse of it.
Viktor Lih
Officer of CCDPD
Alex sighed as she watched the horrific footage. She hadn't needed to see it. She didn't want greater insight. But the feeling she was getting from Officer Lih had more to do with he thought he was in trouble. She looked at him with dismay. He didn't quite understand.

"Please turn it off Officer Lih. Look Viktor, if I may. And you may call me Alex. If you are going to work with Domovoi you need to understand. I'm a psychologist, I need you to TELL me what happened. I need to hear the fear in your voice if you were afraid. I need to see the ticks that indicate you understand precisely what you've done. You see the implications of your very actions. I'm not looking for facts Viktor, I'm looking to see if you are strong enough to join Domovoi. If you can't tell me what happened. What's to say you won't fail at your next mission when some big bad channeler comes at you with his hands on fire and the world is crashing in around you. Please sit down and talk to me. We aren't here to reprimand you, if anything it's to reward you for your service. Not that the Monster Squad is much of a promotion our digs suck, but the jobs are never dull, you get to do things no other cop gets to do. The toys are kinda cool. Or am I wasting my time Officer Lih."
Lih nodded, but he didn't feel especially rewarded. A week earlier, he would have been thrilled at such a promotion, excited at the prospect of toys. He tried to imagine what his seven-days younger self would have been like, but all he could see imagine was another young corpse face down in the brown dust of that nightclub. He saw the look in Alex's eyes, and felt even less praised than before.

"Alex?" he whispered. His throat felt dry and he dearly wished his cup wasn't empty.

"Whatever that was. We did it. We lived."

He looked at Alex for a moment longer, then turned away his gaze, chewing the inside of his cheek. His hands clenched and unclenched, as if imagining his auto-pistol. It was held in a locker somewhere, waiting for him.

He frowned. "I said it like it was a good thing. We did our jobs. We stopped two cannibals and liberated a group of kidnapped women and children. When I killed these ... men it was like my mind slipped off the edge of some precipice and dropped into nothingness. Turns out, according to the bio-data from Dr. Sonia, both men fathered the children we saved, including an unborn child in the mother's body. I've devoted my life to helping people, as a trained cop. I left my hometown to serve in Moscow CCDPD, to serve the people here. It's said that good works and selfless effort are their own rewards."

Lih shrugged, "but this has been duty, without relief. I do not feel rewarded by what I have done. I'm worn out by the thought of having killed these children's father, somebody's lover. This 'incident' has tested the limits of my selfless service. All of this, all of this and I feel like I've learnt nothing at all."

It was hard to sleep, because he was wound up so tight, and though he tried, his mind and body would not unclench. He wondered if the tension would ever ease. It didn't feel like it would. He felt he'd be two heartbeats from ducking and firing for the rest of his life. The instinct that been ground into him. Every sound from outside his room made him reach for his pistol, and, at night, he could hear the loud shouts and traffic coming from his window --Lih's apartment was on the second floor above a lively party street in downtown Moscow.

"When I do sleep, it's troubled. Dreams plague me, although upon waking I can't remember the details... " he looked up into Alex's face with a half smile "I just pray for sleep without dreams."
Viktor Lih
Officer of CCDPD
Alex listened carefully to his words. She also felt what he felt. It was a drawback to her profession and also why she was so good at her job. The only thing better might be reading someone's thoughts. But this man was doubting himself. He just needed a little perspective.

"Would you be so hard on yourself if the men had come peacefully? They would have been tried for murder and the evidence was stacked high in favor of their imprisonment if not the death penalty. You would have torn these men away from their families just the same. Cannibals or not, father's or not they killed other innocent souls and had they chosen to come peacefully they would have not been living the same life."

Alex smiled. "The nightmares will haunt you, I can prescribe an aid to allow you such rest if you so desire. It is not a sin to medicate in order to be a functioning adult. Sometimes we just need time, but sleep is not one of those things a man or woman can function with very little of. And as to the nature of these things, it's probably best you schedule some time with Detective Vega. He can tell you precisely what you were up against, what you did right and what you did wrong. He's seen similar cases in the past." Alex tried not to let her venom show, Vega was still a cop, and he was one of the best on the team when it came to purging monsters and covering up the actions of his people. He'd know what Officer Lih did not.

"I have a few case files I'd like you to look through. Welcome to Domovoi. These cases are solved in terms of we've gone as far as we can without impinging on higher powers. But as with all sides to a story, I'd like a fresh perspective." While Ivan had let another Atharim go, the boy had claimed the murder of one, and then later in a disturbance, another claimed the deed. Both of them off the table now, but maybe someone outside knowledge of these two boys could piece together what happened.

[[ You don't have to do anything more to it, unless you want to. I'll provide the threads to the case files Alex has given Lih ]]

Sold out - Nox and Jay team up to kill a monster, but the Atharim kill two god channelers in Methos' employee
The Right Thing to Do - Nox turns himself in
Hunting Atharim - Ivan releases Nox
Spilled Drinks - In which Nox is attacked by Atharim and Jay confesses to the murder - Jay is not seen again until the grand ball and Ascendancy sends Aria after Nox

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