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A New Life
It had been a few days since she'd given up her old life. Two days of anxiety and curiosity. Ayden had wandered the streets of Moscow under a new light. Everything was worth exploring. Never before had she had that luxury to just sit in the park and stare at the birds. Not that she'd done that yet, the weather was far to cold.

The world was her oyster. Ayden was happy, it was stressful that first day leaving the apartment. But to her luck a few streets down from the apartments a bar, Cherserfield, had a 'hiring now' sign out. It would be good to work with people. Stressful, but a new experience for Ayden.

It was open twenty-four hours, which meant that Ayden could work at any time, which wasn't bad, but it made for scheduling things difficult. The man who owned the bar interviewed her, Ayden thought his name was, Mayor Yegorov, but she could have misheard him with his overly Russian accent. He insisted on his employee's speaking English, CCD law or something like that, not a problem. Ayden could speak and understand Russian, as with a few other languages, but she'd prefer to speak her native tongue. It was just easier that way.

The interview had been short. He saw her attire, saw her face, asked her her credentials, Ayden didn't lie, but he hired her anyway. Something about a pretty face bringing in the customers.

She'd start the next morning while it wasn't quite so busy. Ayden had never bartended, but she could learn quickly. And pulling a draft or a bottle was easy. And she was really just a server anyway, so no bar tending needed really. Though it looked an interesting skill, one Ayden might take up.

The second or third night Ayden came home, she'd seen Connor heading towards the elevator. She missed him a lot. He looked nervous, and really she couldn't blame him. Ayden smiled brightly at him and said hi, there was no reason not to, they were going to run into one another on occasion anyway, they lived on the same floor, in the same building. Ayden hoped she'd see him more. But he really seemed nervous. She watched him leave. She really missed him, watching him walk away was disheartening, but at least it was a good view. She kept on smiling, glad to see him. Shutting her door had been hard, but she managed to not try to go after him. It was his choice, he'd do what's best for him, and for Ayden that made her happy. He'd be happy, but he didn't look it right now.

She got her first day off and proceed to the University. She wanted to check out the curriculum offered and the campus. Not that it mattered either way. It was a good school, she'd find something, but what she didn't know.

Ayden went into the admissions building and got the application and the course book. If she'd hurried she'd make the spring semester in January. If she hurried. Ayden wondered if she could get into the library. It would be good to see the options. Ayden had always liked books - real books. She headed towards the library in hopes they'd let her in.

He was being kicked around again. Just like in Wellington.

However unlike with the Dean, he was going to give the university Professor the benefit of the doubt. If he wanted to dodge Elias's appointment, there were many other ways to throw him off course.

His arrival to the university required his uncle's Wallet to serve as a campus map. He had to sync with three different data ports to get the appropriate directions, but when he finally managed to climb those ancient steps and navigate those twisted hallways, he found a dour department secretary and a note stuck to a door.

"Come back later." It read. Elias crumbled the note in his fist and tossed it at the nearest trash can. When it hit the rim and tumbled over the side, he turned and looked back at the yellow wad sitting in the snowdrift. He grumbled and returned, chancing what was clearly an icy patch on the sidewalk, and placed it promptly in the receptacle.

With some time to kill, he ducked inside the next building that was seemingly open to the public. The wallet map said it was the library.

He shook out his coat and hair in the foyer. The rush of warm air from the ventilation system prickled his face. He stripped his gloves from his hands and went to an inner door. He got there at the same time as a woman with thick, bright red hair. He blinked a darkly rimmed gaze and backed off to let her pass, but not without holding the door open for her. His eyes hovered on hers.

A ghost of a smile and he gestured that she go ahead.
A gentleman in black? Ayden smiled at him as she passed through the doors when he let her go first. It was a nice gesture. "Thanks."

Ayden rubbed her hands together as she looked around the lobby, she hadn't realized how cold she was. She didn't see any reason why she couldn't go in further. But there was desk at he front with a blonde in glasses sitting on the phone. The woman had only glanced at Ayden as she walked in.

The book sensor's were the only barrier between her and the books. She could see the shelves beyond the desk the woman was at. She had no reason to go perusing the books, but that was a lot of books. Ayden didn't usually frequent too many public places, usually grabbed a few books at the airport.

Ayden walked through the sensor's and past the desk with the blonde. The library was very large, filled with tables in the center, and aisle and aisles of books to wade through. Ayden could have fun sifting through the books.

But instead she put down the application and the course book on the table and started sifting through it.
The flame-haired woman passed him by with brief gratitude. From behind, Elias followed the sway of her hair and the dance of her steps, but she soon collected herself in front of a book and paid him little more attention.

He shrugged and moved on.

The librarians gave him as much thought as the girl had. A blonde looked up at him as he passed by and promptly looked back down again.

He had no interest in browsing workstations or data ports, but one holoscreen caught his eye. It was a map of the library itself. There was an extensive collection of work, digital and otherwise, on marine biology despite the landlocked nature of the city. A brief search found the professor he was here to meet authored several additions to the collection. His name was also cataloged next to a long list of works required for his classes, but a special designation caught Elias' eye.

Listed beneath the professor's recommendations was a curious title. "On the flight and fancy of arctic sealife: the intersection of the archaic, colossal, and wondrous."

"Interesting title."
Eli pulled it up in the cue. The cover depicted a chthonic-looking creature that seemed to be pulled from a sketchbook. Normally he would have dismissed such a work, but given the nature of his interests in Moscow to begin with, he was curious of its contents. As he lacked the full access usually allowed to students, he would be trudging through the bowels of the library to find a hard copy. After downloading appropriate directions, he made his way onward.

He briefly glanced at the flame-haired woman as he passed out of curiosity rather than real interest, but he moved with no more noise than the rustle of his coat against his legs and the footfalls of heavy boots.

The library reached both skyward and delved downward. Elias was searching the seemingly endless aisles for the professor's recommendation when the sounds of a hushed and hurried conversation gave him pause.

Their words caught him like a fish in a sudden net, completely unexpected. He stopped to listen.
"Why the fuck am I here?"
Tony whispered in a harsh voice, scanning the quiet library out of habit. He had gone to ground for the better part of three months after Custody Intelligence had latched on to his Marco's movements. In that time he had managed to find and save four men who were currently being sheltered and taught at his hidden apartment.

None of them were particularly skilled, not like Michael or Jensen with his miraculous healing abilities, but they had progressed steadily and one - a bald man in his early thirties - showed some potential.

"It was deemed a necessary risk, Tony,"
Oborev replied with a calm he had accquired over the recent months of intrigue. It seemed the man had found his second calling as a god damned secret agent. Tony was not at all impressed with his colleague's impetuosity.

"So the bastard has finally been arrested for his stupidity, eh?"
Tony said sarcastically.

Oborev did not react, perusing an old Russian text he had picked up upon entry. "Now your growing paranoid, Tony. All is well." He placed a bookmark where he had left off and closed the book, looking Tony in the eye. "We have found something of interest pertaining to the University that you should know of."


Tony whispered impatiently.

"It is the Chancellor. He is hiding something which we believe relates to our...cause."

The Chancellor. Could he be one of them? Could he be researching the Sickness? If MSU published something damning there could be severe repercussions...

Tony took a deep breath and nodded his thanks to the bespectacled man. "Give my thanks to Marco, I will find out what the Chancellor is hiding."

Edited by Tony Soloyov, Jun 26 2014, 03:30 AM.
Ayden started to fill out the application. It started out fairly easy to do. And then it started asking some serious questions. What was she going to major in? That was a big question, she really had no idea where that was gonna go for her.

The course book would have to be her guide at this point. She really didn't know how to do anything other than shot a rifle. But then again, there was a lot more to it than that. She was a good actor, but Ayden didn't think she wanted to do that. She preferred the sidelines, never to be noticed.

Ayden flipped through more pages. English literature was fine and well, but not really all that real world practical. Not really a new life starter.

And then Ayden found the languages and linguist courses. She could speak several languages already. It was an interesting topic, and maybe even get a job here in Moscow, the English language was the official language, but surely there were those that needed translators and such. It had potential. Ayden bookmarked the pages and started working on the rest of the application.

Her newly purchased wallet beeped at her. It was time to head home, it was a bit of a walk back to her apartment, and she had to get ready for work. Mayor was great, but if she was late, she could lose her job, and that was something she didn't want to do. It was perfect. It stretched her limits, made her talk to people, work with people. It was close to home. Chesterfields was becoming almost a second home the amount she worked. At least she had something to do.

Ayden collected her things and headed back out the door to the library, the blonde paying her no more mind than she did entering. Some security!
Elias leaned closer to the shelves. The conversation ongoing was hushed and hectic. He might not have stopped at all but for his search for the professor's book. What began as idle curiosity soon turned to active interest when the Chancellor was mentioned.

Tony, Marco and the Chancellor. The professor was known by neither of these names; his relationship to the University Chancellor was unknown to Elias. Who was arrested? Was the Chancellor hiding the same thing as Roy, the Ecology professor in Wellington?

The two men parted but Elias had no say over which direction the one to do the investigation was taking.

Eli looked side to side, chose randomly, and started walking.

At the end of the aisle, he took the turn and caught sight of a man in a long coat. He followed after.
When Oborev departed, Tony immediately stood and began to make his way through the library towards one of the post-graduate office clusters adjoined to the library main. He would start innocuous inquiries among the not-yet-professors. It would be hard, not to mention suspicious to gain access to the Chancellor's office or person so he could only hope the graduates would let slip something important in their haste to gain recognition.

Much to his disturbance, Tony found himself full of the power. It had been a long time since he had done something as foolish as that, but holding the power had become second nature to him in the preceding months as he worked with his students and kept the Custody off their trail.

Fortune favoured the bold it seemed today. Were it not for the power, he would have missed the sound of footseps shadowing his movement. Alarmed, he swung around to face his pursuer with a suspicious gaze that lightened to a weary smile as he looked upon the countenance of the young man who stood his ground boldly.

In a crisp dark outfit, the man exuded a confidence Tony had become well accustomed to over the years. "What can I do for you?"
he asked with a smile that had grown increasingly tight in the past month. "I may look like an old professor, but I assure you I am not employed here."
He paused a moment and met the young man's level gaze. "Although it can be said I am somewhat of a professor in more...unconventional areas."
He briefly drew in more of the power to make his point clear. "You feel it, I assume? Have you come to learn something?"
The man he followed was not at all of the appearance Elias imagined. Long blonde hair streamed behind him, caught on drifts of air like the coat he wore. In fact, if it were not for the warmth and lightness radiating from the man, he might have been a moody brother of Eli.

Imagine Elias' surprise when that lightness turned into menacing dark. He rippled with power of enough force that Eli could almost see it. He smiled a cold smile when them turned to acknowledge him.

"You don't look like a professor,"
he replied, glinting sarcasm. "No professor I've ever seen, at least."

Eli approached and sized the man up. The blonde Russian had at least ten years on him; ten hard years by the aged set to his gaze. Upon a glimpse, Elias himself might seem young, but his pallor and bedpan expression were tired and sickly. Like a man trapped indoors, denied the health of sunshine itself.

To the man's question, Eli nodded. "I feel it,"
and by the curious way in which he studied Tony's face, it was clear such was his first experience. Eli was tempted toward taking the power himself, to deflect some of the menace projected by his companion. Instead, he was patient. "I have come to learn something, although doubtful it is something you can teach me, but perhaps we can help each other. I am seeking answers from an eccentric old codger of a researcher. Perhaps he and the Chancellor are hiding the same thing?"

Eli offered his gloved hand like a civil human being. "I'm Elias Donovan."
His smile was sharp and confident. He did not care in the least that he openly admitted to eavesdropping.
"I'm Elias Donovan."

Tony took Elias' hand with a smile returned in warmth and amusement. Elias' boldness struck a chord with Tony and he took a liking to the young man immediately.

But more than that, he was a curiosity. Tony laughed. "A pleasure, Elias. Did you learn anything from our conversation?"
He did not need to tell him which conversation he referred to.

"Never mind that now,"
he dismissed his own question. They could get to that later. "You are an interesting man. I see you barely know a thing about the power you have, yet you have no desire to learn?"

Tony leaned in closer with a conspiratorial look. "I am inclined to help you. Something more important than the lure of the power? It must be quite close to your heart."
The words belied a more serious mood.

"The Chancellor knows a great many secrets. Far too many for my liking,"
his voice was almost a growled whisper. "However, you need money or fame to get anywhere in this place and I suspect both of us have neither."

In his usual dramatic fashion, at the end of his sentence when all hope seemed to have been lost, he held up a finger. "Of course, there is another way..."
He let the words dangle like a lure. "You and I have one advantage most do not, and we shall use it, if you are willing to follow my lead."

The flair in his words and gesture was but a smokescreen. If Elias were smart enough, he would see the dread intensity in his words and eyes.

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