March 15th, 2012
Mitya and Boris spoke throughout the flight, while Megs tried to read from the Bible that Leon had given her. At first she felt rather self-conscious, but it wasn’t too long before she was engrossed with it. Expecting something dry and boring, she was surprised by how much sex and violence there was in the Holy Book. Although Megs had to admit some of the implied incest made her feel uncomfortable. If everyone descended from Adam and Eve, that meant for a while, everyone was having kids with their brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins…
Megs closed the book, wrinkling her nose.
“Hold on,” Boris said, “We are approaching the landing strip.”
Boris banked to prepare for his approach, and Megs could see a handful of buildings spread out below them. They were similar to the large blocks they’d seen in Moscow, only there were very few rooms that seemed to be lit up. A short distance away appeared to be a small settlement with considerably more life and light.
“Hold on?” Mitya said, looking out the window, his hand reaching for the seat in front of him.
The tiny plane bounced and fishtailed as the landing gear struggled to find grip on the runway. Eventually they skidded to a halt, the nose of the plane pointing to an oblique angle. Megs glanced up at their pilot, who turned around in his seat and grinned back at them.
“How is it you say Katya? ‘Home Sweet Home’,” Boris said with a laugh. “Welcome to the Outpost.”
Boris taxied the plane into a small hangar where a jeep-like vehicle was waiting for them. Megs helped the other two unpack the supplies from the plane. Beyond their luggage, there was food, blankets vodka, and a cooler full of frozen pints of blood.
Megs didn’t need to ask what those were for.
“First we meet the Prince and get you two presented, then you meet the others,” Boris said as they packed the last of the gear into the jeep. “Prince Volkov does not hold true court most years, population is too small. But he does like meeting new faces. It is freshening.”
Mitya had taken shotgun, so Megs clamboured up into the back, looping an arm through one of the roll cage bars. Here she didn’t need to pretend to be cold (who needed to pretend in these temperatures?), so she left the blush off. Her skin was deathly pale and sharply contrasted against the black coat she wore.
Boris almost did a double take as he looked back at her, before shaking his head and chuckling.
“You almost look Russian Katya,” he laughed, before coaxing the jeep into life.
“Almost,” Mitya said, looking back at her. There was an expression on his face, but Megs wasn’t able to tell quite what it was. Appraisal? Nerves? Or something else… As he turned back to look up front, Megs allowed herself a frown. She had studied how to be human for years, but so often she failed at reading emotions.
Instead of heading towards one of the large complexes, Boris turned in the opposite direction. Rather than ask, Megs just hung on, watching the dark landscape go by.
This was home now, at least for a while. How long wasn’t going to be up to her, it was going to be up to Danny and this mysterious Evgeny. Maybe in time the rolling taiga would grow on her, but at the moment she felt a sudden pang of homesickness.
She missed her bed.
She missed her kitties.
She missed her friends.
They arrived at a log building that looked like it was older than some elders. Maybe it was: the logs had been blackened with pitch to withstand the weather and the structure looked more like a fort than a village.
“Ah, here we are. ChiChi’s bar,” Boris said. He pulled the jeep over, and turned it off. There were a couple other vehicles there as well, but calling the flattened area a parking lot would be generous. One car in particular looked like it had just been left there years ago. Now it was slowly melting into the ground, one fender at a time.
“Pyotr- I mean Prince Volkov, he is…” Boris started as they climbed out of the jeep. “High spirited. Polite is best until he decides if he likes you.” He looked at the two of them, Megs with wild hair from the drive, and Mitya with a clenched jaw and square shoulders.
“He might. Might now. We will see, da? We will see. Come.”
“Ah, Stasya!” Boris said, sweeping into a bow that didn’t ellicit even the tiniest of smiles from the woman. “шериф Stasya Kariyev, please to meet our newest students,” Boris said, turning to Megs and Mitya both, allowing them to make their own introductions.
“Kat-” Megs started, only to be cut off as Mitya took a brusque step forward and snapped into a salute.
“Mitya Fenenko, childe of Anton Nikolev of the Sable, grand childe of Rasputin Bogdanov, Grand Wyrm of-” He didn’t get any further. Stasya had stood and backhanded him.
“You do not rest on your lineage here. Clan and your own achievements are all I wish to know.” Her voice was clipped, but not angry. It seemed to Megs that the woman just didn’t want to deal with invictus-like introductions. She couldn’t blame her… but still.
“I am Ventrue, and have just started my journey,” Mitya spat out, staring at the ground. Megs couldnt’ tell if he was embarassed, or furious.
No, she figured. He was both.
“And you?” those cold grey eyes turned to Megs, who had to resist the urge to gulp. Kindred didn’t gulp. They didn’t shrug, they did shit. Important shit.
“Katya McDermott. Axe Sworn of San Francisco, but student here,” she said, doing her best to keep eye contact. It was dangerous, but also showed trust. At least she hoped it did…
“Pyotr Volkov, Prince of this godforsaken outpost. I would have left eons ago were it not for my love of privacy,” he rested a hand on each of their shoulders, looking solemnly at Mitya, and then at Megs.
“You are welcome to live and study in my hovel, so long as you respect my authority and those whom I place in trust. Stasya, Boris, Ilya and Alek.” There was a pause, and a slight sigh. “And the Scholar.”
Megs nodded, murmuring an ‘of course Prince’. His eyes were liquid, so soft and gentle.
“Please, call me Pyotr,” he said with a smile. Oh that smile…
“I am sorry, I do not speak English well,” Mitya said in Russian, looking ashamed. Pyotr recoiled slightly, looking offended.
“Boris, explain to that one what I said, along with the rules of my City.” He wiped the hand that had rested on Mitya on his pants, before drifting back over to Stasya.
“Come my dear, let them meet the others. I have much to talk to you about.”