The First Age
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Welcome! (Back?) - Dorian - 10-01-2018

Dorian and Cruz had a long discussion just the two of them.  While Cruz had slipped away to the men's room Dorian shot Yun a message.  'Believe to be dispatched - unconfirmed'.

But it wasn't his job to confirm it.  He was just the mediator between Jens Abt and his demise.  The beasties were to take care of it.  Yun's response was almost instantaneous.  'Confirmation to follow.  Welcome back detective.'

That night Dorian chewed Nox out for letting Cruz go into the tunnels alone.  The boy hadn't been told and Dorian's wrath at letting his son find him, save him wasn't tempered by the former Atharim's attitude.  The funny thing was Nox said he'd leave if that was what Dorian wanted.  He was obviously failing his only job.  Which only made Dorian think, because Cruz was not just a kid anymore, he'd come into the tunnels, fully aware he might die.  His son saved him.  While he didn't congratulate the boy, he had reassured him that his presence was welcome in the house and his 'job' as it were was safely intact.  

The next morning came and went with the same drama as at home.  The captain made sure to debrief him.  Dorian didn't lie.  He told him he'd been taken against his will.  And he only escaped because of his adventure in the tunnels.  Which Dorian went into a long debriefing about that leaving out the bits about Abt and Cruz saving him.  That was for them to find out later.  Dorian still had to send Nox down into the tunnels to find the body.  Yun hadn't reported back yet either.

Dorian was officially on the books for looking into Vaia Plus's missing scientist.  Alistair Pavlo - which was the man Cruz had flambeed and he'd shot in the head.  Praying to fucking god it stayed dead.  A channeling monster - that was scary.

It was mid-afternoon by the time Dorian made it back to his own desk.  There were two notes.  One from the good doctor and the other from IA.

Dorian read the first.  'Detective Vega, the informal investigation for your association with the Atharim has come to a satisfactory conclusion.  Your position and responsibilities remain unchanged.'

That was from Yun's people.  IA was done with him and that was all that mattered.  He wasn't a cop on the take, or corrupted by the bad guys - at least not because of the Atharim.  Yun was a different story.  She had him hook line and sinker if she kept his family safe.  Dorian sighed to himself, he still needed to send Nox to Yun.  So many things to do now that he was playing so many sides.

But it was Alex's note that made him interested in the office politicking.  'Officer Lih and Costa had a run in with some cannibalistic 'monsters'.  Lih has questions maybe you can answer for him.  Pass along as much information as you can, you aren't going to be around forever.'

So Dr. Pirozzi wanted him to make a baby Atharim cop... It was an interesting thought, though Dorian was hardly the one to teach the lad anything about monsters.  But it was a start.  Dorian wondered if Ivan was interested - he'd also seen his fair share of monsters - though he didn't exactly get along well with their methods... Dorian wondered if Lih was going to be as judgmental.  

Dorian put on a smile as he headed for the new domovoi rookies.  "Officer Lih?" Dorian offered his hand to the pale man.  Dorian bet he had an interesting story to tell too. "Dorian Vega.  Dr. Pirozzi told me you had some questions about the case that got you this lovely demotion."  He grinned at the bomb-shelter like accommodations that was Domovoi.  It wasn't anything fancy, but they did have the best toys!

RE: Welcome! (Back?) - Lih - 10-02-2018

Lih’s face dropped.

“Ah, I knew it was too good to be true.” He sighed. “It’s not a promotion.”

“Then again, why can’t it be both? Alex mentioned new toys for practice purposes. Unless that’s a lie too?” smiled Lih as he gave the welcoming detective’s hand a firm, polite shake.

He said it like it was a joke, but he wasn’t joking. He wasn’t about to explain to the detective he couldn’t sleep without Alex’s pills. It was as if his body wasn’t convinced he’d ever wake again if he slept.

Lih allowed himself a small smile at his weakness.

His smile took the bite out of his comments--he didn’t want to sound like a pathetic, whining bitch. Though this office was not glamorous, it was definitely secure. Also, the domovoi offered Lih a lot of things. Resources, organization, top-notch equipment, better position, more money. More particularly, the chance to learn from the best.

Lih had thought about it… and went along with his orders.

He showed his superior officer the transfer request. Sergeant was impressed, and okay’d Lih.

Alex okay’d him too. He wondered how well he’d done in the consultation. Could she have seen those things, made those recommendations? How much did she know, and of that knowledge what did she disclose?

She offered this to him, and he wanted it to happen. The speed with which he had been transferred was impressive.

All in all, he was feeling better this week.

However, Lih couldn’t conceal the fact he was not expecting to be facing monsters. He had not expected to experience the sharp end of things this way. Hunting monsters was what the channelers and international organizations did, which was why the Creator gave them god-like abilities and destructive weapons and feeble morals. Police officers were nice domestic boys.

He waited, face feverishly white in the lights and blinked, eyes watering, staring, hunting every time his lens picked up any noise or glare. It took another two seconds for him to blink away the clutter: stored files, snaps, recording playbacks.

He already tried to blink-access detective Dorian Vega’s profile fields, but besides the lit flag indicating friendly, he saw a target pane across the other man’s body that read ‘unknown’. His lens showed him sub-options such as rank, vital stats, medical notations, data generated by secure “confidential" records. All marked ‘unknown’.

Lih cleared data pane and looked at the detective.

He was certainly more handsome in person than his picture. All in all, detective Vega was a man of startling beauty, his face striking and narrow. Even his accent was pleasant, maybe European. In addition to well cut clothing, he was wearing an astonishingly crafted watch. He was an elite, a man of luxurious taste, a very expensive and capable employee.

Not to mention--a solid professional.

Lih acknowledged the experience and expertise of active field officers in the domovoi. Their bravery was beyond question. Lih was keen to meet the domovoi, but of course they were unavoidably detained by missions until now...

He could only imagine what the detective saw in turn, but his imagination was pretty well informed.

Lih had extremely pale hair and a complexion to match. His hair was so colorless, his eyelashes were virtually invisible, and in the hard, yellow light of detective Vega’s office, he looked like he was a sand sculpture.

In addition to his strange appearance, he was pretty traumatized. He didn’t want Dorian Vega to think he was scared, ill. But no amount of self-control was going to cover those ticks — the tremor, the darting glances, the over-reaction to sound, reaching for his holstered weapon...

In truth, his assignment was premature, even if it lifted his morale to be rewarded. He’d come close to dying to make it here… that kind of situation didn’t tend to make him highly motivated.

Lih waited before replying. He looked the man full in the face.

“I see. Well, that’s fine. Since you know what the cannibals are.”

RE: Welcome! (Back?) - Dorian - 10-02-2018

Dorian chuckled at his response. "Oh the pay is better, the toys more fun, but the accommodations are lacking. And the jobs while interesting are also something most people wouldn't believe. But you've already seen that."

Officer Lih had come face to face with a group of rougarous. While not the most fearsome of creatures they were some of the more horrific, eating their own kind, raping and kidnapping women for their own biological needs. Not a pleasant thing. "They are called rougarou." Dorian waved Lih to follow him. "Let's do this away from the weaker stomachs of office labor." Even Domovoi needed desk jockeys, though they wouldn't be sitting there with weak stomachs.

Dorian lead Office Lih out of their building and down the street. There was a coffee shop down the way that would do but Dorian started talking. "Rougarous were once human. There are cases of a fully functioning man, we don't really know much about them, but they have mutated genes that are only on the male chromosome - you'll never find a female. They take women and pass their seed on to as many as they can while feeding on whomever else they can. Their anatomy shifts when they transform, their hearts slightly off where they should be, other organs jostled around. But a shot to the head kills them like anything else." Covering up a rougarou wasn't always easy, and Domovoi actually made the Atharim work so much easier - what happened in Domovoi stayed in Domovoi for the most part. The records were sealed to the highest of high and the reports the regulars got were all redacted information. Not much to read really.

Domovoi made his job a lot easier - or it used to. Now he was just Domovoi. No longer Atharim. Though he wasn't sure what he was, he wasn't working for the Syndicate persay only providing them information. Information wasn't the same as doing their dirty work. But Dorian was sure that would come eventually.

"So Officer Lih, two questions for you. One, what questions can I answer for you? And two, how do you like your coffee?" Dorian opened the door for the man to walk through. It was only poliet after all.

RE: Welcome! (Back?) - Lih - 10-02-2018

He stared at Dorian.

He was taller than Lih was. Lih looked up into Dorian’s face. He was an appealing man: strong, articulate, animated. The sight of the detective made Lih suck in his breath.

They stepped out into the bright day and the bustling crowd swallowed them up. He flicked his tints up and thought hard about Dorian’s explanation...

The young male, tall and slightly built, with fine white hair that shook free and loose the moment his police cap was off. Lih tucked his cap into his simple black combat jacket, then followed Dorian, up into the cafe. He could hear the music from within as he looked at  Dorian’s impeccably-dressed back with the most distressingly blue eyes...

Those eyes had seen a lot, as CCDPD officer. They would see a whole lot more as part of the domovoi.

“Black is fine. That’s very kind of you, Sir.” He nodded, and smiled.

The smile was genuine.  

He understood the detective wanting to keep things hidden from office workers. Lih appreciated that. He also appreciated the explanation about the rougarou. He was surprised and, he hated to admit it, delighted by Dorian’s thoughtfulness. If nothing else, Dorian gave Lih an honest answer.

They sat waiting for the drinks, in a pool of sunlight in the cafe.

As the older detective patiently waited on Lih’s questions, Lih looked down at his hands. They were very pale, very expressive.

Their drinks arrived. The barista gave them no more than a passing look. A couple, taking a late lunch. A thin, tall girl with short dark hair ordered a pastry.

He sipped his coffee.

It gave him time to think. Space to think. To consider, to pace around a problem and survey it from end to end. A good time for self review and the closure he chased.

“I could be fooling myself, and I hate to diminish myself in your eyes detective,” Lih leaned in; his voice was clear and soft like rainwater, “this incident made me want to finish this business and, moreover, I have little appetite for what’s to come. The … rougarou are rabidly dangerous and must be brought down. In this case, am I allowed to ask what happens to the sons of kidnapped and bred women?”

He was too close to be useful. It became a disadvantage. Let fresher minds hunt monsters.

RE: Welcome! (Back?) - Dorian - 10-03-2018

Dorian took his black coffee from the server and gave her a nod. She left and they sat in silent for a little while before Lih leaned forwards and asked the hard question. Dorian nodded and frowned. "Do you want me to answer as Atharim or as a cop?"

Dorian took a sip from his coffee. "How about both."

It was hard to separate the two. "I'll start with the cop. I will put in my recommendation to watch the boys, and the women to make sure things are alright and the offspring." Dorian sighed, "The Atharim would have killed all the kids and the women already. We'd be cleaning up the mess still. Probably a house fire."

Dorian waited for the man to give him the same look that Ivan gave him.

RE: Welcome! (Back?) - Lih - 10-03-2018

Lih looked up sharply, eyes narrow.

Dorian’s face, even when frowning, was stupidly attractive.

As it had been explained to Lih in the debrief, the man was a defector. It wasn’t clear, but it seemed that the detective had once been an Atharim. Later, for reasons Lih didn’t even want to consider, he had renounced his allegiance and joined the forces of the Dominance, and drafted, because of his conditioning and expertise, into the domovoi.

Dorian was a troubled soul, clearly, a restless heart. How, Lih wondered, did one man contain so much within one lifetime? Bonded into two different institutions that were ordinarily served unto death.

Two consequences were clear.

Atharim’s ambition needed to be stopped. The Atharim were so effective that, if they acted openly, the CCD would be forced to suspend operations and perhaps lose the supreme authority of Ascendancy entirely. Even striking from the shadow, the Atharim proved themselves to be ingenious and ferocious, capable of extreme brutality, even by the standards of the dominances. Setting fire to hide the corpses of kidnapped women, children and the rougarou was certainly extremely effective.

More particularly, what better result could the CCD hope for than to use Atharim knowledge — and method — to hunt monsters, terrorists, even the gods themselves?

A further question occurred to Lih. It was actually one that had nagged him for days, and which he had been reluctant to voice.

What if the detective stayed loyal to his former training, and he was now manipulating the CCD into doing Atharim’s dirty work by taking out the channelers on official terms?

Lih frowned, his face sad.

As expected, he couldn’t agree with this type of thinking after all. He’d protect his people, even if it meant being bloodied again. The women and children were innocent.

“Point taken, Sir, that’s always true. In the grand scheme of things, we need to eliminate the threat. But foremost, for us, we just need to protect our people, win or lose. We have to do this—we need to do it, or we’d be good for nothing. I hope your recommendation is accepted, and that the children are being monitored, and not killed?"

RE: Welcome! (Back?) - Dorian - 10-04-2018

Dorian nodded. "I will also be making a recommendation to the good Doctor that DNA be studied, as well as any autopsies be handed over to Domovoi. Some of the more rigorous training of the Atharim - those who aspired since childhood have actually studied their anatomy." Dorian had browsed through Aria's journal that was in Nox's possession. The book was a guide to growing up Atharim. The girl was disturbed had been so when Dorian took up his own tattoo. And now she was dead, the journal being her last living legacy. Dorian sighed - such was their life.

"A man with the mutant gene will become a cannibal. The desire to feed on human flesh will not stop because we know it to be a disease. But perhaps with research the world will see the end of the rougarou - a feat the Atharim have yet to accomplish despite their tactics. This is the first case I've not had to cover up. I think the Atharim might miss me at some point - doing their dirty work when they can't." Dorian wondered how many other cases might come to light now - how many Oni's slain will find it to the news. Or how many dreyken's are found slicing and licking their way through the world. How many monsters will the world see now that the Atharim are outted. The world will be forever changed.

RE: Welcome! (Back?) - Lih - 10-06-2018

Lih laughed when he believed that Dorian’s quip about doing Atharim’s dirty work had been a joke, and then laughed even harder when he realized it wasn’t.

The pale officer coughed as he stifled up his laughter.

“Good… good work, sir.”

Thinking over Dorian’s words, Lih was little reassured. He wasn’t sure who would win a head-on collision between monsters and Atharim, but he was sure neither party would walk away smiling.

Now there was an uncomfortable thought...

Frustrating: he had never actually killed before, not that Dorian needed to know. Not fair, not fair, not fair!

His first, and second kill.

Lih tensed.

Helpless rage boiled up inside of him. It reminded him in the worst way of his fight with the rougarou and the decisions he’d been forced to make there. For the greater good of moscow, of CCD, he’d killed two men.

He could say it was self-defense. Say it was to help his partner Costa. Say the men were not human. It’d been legitimate. Necessary. He could say all these things, but he jolly well wasn’t going to— not even think them.

In all of his training scenarios, some of which rather realistically simulated, he had not accounted for this particular feeling when he made his first kill, and they fell short.

Tears welled in his eyes. He could no longer discern Dorian. He looked out at the blurred shapes sliding by and said nothing because there was nothing to say.

Oh, fine. So he was upset, okay?

Truth be known, like it wasn’t already obvious, Lih was terrified of killing again. He’d been corralled by the will of the good doctor to study cases inside—he seldom caught glimpse of the sun. His studies kept him busy, very busy and Lih had become a touch thinner in the face, thinner in the body and his complexion lighter (how possible?). In that cordoned off “Lih Area” he’d gained a healthy respect for paperwork, but bounced enthusiastically into the sunlight after Dorian—hello, free time!

At that unbidden mental image of himself chasing Dorian like a puppy, Lih tried to laugh but managed something between it and a sob.

Bruised, battered, beaten, belligerent, and now feeling very sorry for himself, Lih was sitting on the edge of his chair, his head in his hands, crying silently.

Lih didn’t understand. He wasn’t sorry. Wasn’t this promotion what he’d wanted? How was this for a jam?

He felt indignant and confused and began speaking again only because he was lost; speaking gave him a sense of purpose.

“I shouldn’t have done that,” Lih whispered. “I shouldn’t have."

Weariness, depression, a combination of both: it didn’t matter. There was a dull ache in his head and he imagined his mind and body leaking out through his skin. Lih wasn’t the best communicator; words came awkward, stiltedly, but the other didn’t interrupt what he had to say.

“It was my fault, sir… I looked up, and they were dead. Dead! I didn’t think, I just moved! I killed both of them … I can’t let myself hurt people again… I can’t.” His tone was bitter.

He refused to look up at Dorian for help, having reduced himself and feeling rather stupid.

Vitya Lih

RE: Welcome! (Back?) - Dorian - 10-08-2018

Dorian felt bad for the turn of events. He wasn't exactly sure what happened. But it wasn't the first time a grown man had cried in front of him. Though he did have to admit it was rare to see men cry even in public. But it didn't make Dorian uncomfortable., this man had just had his first pass at killing. And while Dorian wasn't as bad as most Atharim and his kill count inside the district was small - his cases pretty much landed him in covering for the Atharim more often than not. He rarely chased perps.

But he'd killed a man or two in self defense. And Rougarous were not men anymore, at least not once they begin attacking innocents. So Dorian waited for the man to calm down. "A first kill no matter what is rough. A vacation before your promotion might have been warranted." Dorian glanced at his watch and checked the time. It was close enough to leave the office. "Come with me. A good meal, some fine wine, a dip in the pool and maybe a few more answers from someone other than me might help you out. Someone who has been doing this his whole life. Though I can't guarantee he'll be home. But I have literature I can share."

Dorian lead the man to his car, avoiding as many fellow officers as possible. It was one thing to break down in front of someone, but the whole office didn't need to know about it. Dorian had his car swept for trackers and bugs and every other sort of electronic device before he drove it again. They even dusted it for finger prints, but all they found were his. Which was to be expected. There was an ongoing investigation but Dorian was certain they'd find nothing on his kidnappers. But he went back to day to day life. That was the life of a cop. Dorian was relatively unharmed - even if their treatment had been rough in the beginning. A few cuts and bruises were nothing.

Soft classical music played in the car. Dorian could barely hear it. It was background noise as they drove to the estate. "Once you get out of the car do not stray from the concrete unless you want to be blinded and stunned for moments. And get the rough side of my son and Nox's tongue for upsetting the balance in the yard." Dorian waited for the impending questions. Why? What? Huh? it didn't really matter he expected to explain the words. And perhaps it might give the rookie something else to think about

[[ if that's too much modding let me know, assumed Lih would go with Dorian based on our conversation ]]

RE: Welcome! (Back?) - Lih - 10-09-2018

Vitya Lih was finding himself adjusting well to Dorian. He allowed himself the pleasure of anticipation in Dorian’s actions.

First off, Dorian didn’t lecture him. Or use his name like he’s Lih’s friend. More importantly, he didn’t pity Lih. Yay sauce!

Dorian and Lih--they didn’t have to like each other to make this work. A level of understanding and honesty between them was enough. Privately, Lih envied Dorian because he had a strength Lih lacked. As for his field posting… well, it was good to have an experienced officer on the line.

Clearly, to Lih, Dorian was under some pressure to dig his new-founded command out of a deep, dark hole.

Customarily, men broke easier when the going’s hard, and it certainly was hard here. Didn’t help Lih was fresh and inexperienced. Untried, innocent, naive. His first real combat was against men lousy with genetic corruption. The best blows of the conflict came from Lih and he couldn’t even claim it honorably, since two men died. Bastards.

Dorian taking him out was damn convenient; he didn’t feel up for more company today. He was weak as piss.

Lih more or less hid out behind Dorian throughout their walk and looked only at his feet, and the cobblestones below them.

He hadn’t really been in this position before, you know, and his calm, practical self was unused to flexing these muscles...

The air was sultry and unseasonable, and at the passenger side of Dorian’s car, Lih was sweating freely into his black fatigues. The discomfort was made worse by his mind racing, frantic but empty. He couldn’t form a coherent thought. He simply listened to Mendelssohn’s overture; his face pinched and alarmingly pale.

But his “blah” feeling was short-lived.

Lih took Dorian’s call-out with grace, that is to say, he recovered from his initial shock of being warned, managed to pull his tongue back into his mouth and glared tremendously. He was fairly certain he was in the right here; that feeling of dread he normally experienced when getting into trouble.

“Wait,” he blurted, “is that a real possibility? Something's going to sneaky-attack me from behind?”

It wasn’t a nice feeling to know your senior officer was taking-you-out, figuratively speaking.

Blinded? Stunned? Brr. Talk about concerning!