[identity profile] krasnogorje.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] groznyj_grad
Hydrogen was the most abundant element in the universe, so there was a great and cosmic irony in waiting nearly three weeks for the shipment to arrive on Utrov's transport.

With the flip of a lever there was liftoff in the form of a colorless flame, and disbelieving laughter. No need for two fuel tanks or a complex ignition system; hydrogen reacted violently with oxygen.

It was a funny little element. One asocial proton and a lonely orbiting electron.

It was also the lightest element in the universe; seven percent lighter than helium, and burned brilliantly at the centers of stars all across the galaxy.

For her purposes, though, it reduced the weight of her weapon by fifty-some kilograms and made gravity an obsolete boundary. Hydrogen didn't simply defy the laws of physics, it spat in their face and called their collective mothers a whore.

All it took was a good start from a fair distance, and Katerina ran up the side of the Main Wing like a spider up a plaster wall, hovered in mid air for a few moments like an indecisive butterfly looking for the perfect flower, and dropped onto the roof of the building.

A few months of tinkering in room 307 produced a hydrogen-fueled jet pack with a shortened wingspan and increased range. With it came improved mobility and implementation of new technology from the West -- a thin, body-skimming flameproof suit replaced asbestos and vulcanized rubber and was more effective at regulating the wearer's core temperature; a gold-leafed face mask with a built in respirator eliminated the need for a heavy smoked glass helmet.

The Fury hadn't invented a better mousetrap, but rather, a better cat.

The woman turned and ran across the roof of the Main Wing, up and over the ledge, bridging the gap to the Administrative Wing in one impossible jump. The landing was a little rough, and she only caught herself at the last possible moment to avoid tripping and landing most unceremoniously, sprawling on the roof.

She was upright and nothing was on fire, so that was good.

Thrusters deactivated, she collected her thoughts and pulled off the expressionless mask that lent itself to nightmares about Venetian demons. The day was overcast and smelled like rain, but her view thus far had only been bronze-hued.

With a sound of pondering, she pulled a small notebook and pencil from the breast pocket of her suit and began scrawling a few notes, pacing back and forth as she wrote, murmuring to herself as though no one was watching.

Date: 2009-04-06 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol stood up, pausing to sling his rifle around his shoulder.

He'd been giving the base a once-over, sniper-style, when he'd heard the noise. A few moments later, his cozy little rooftop nest had a visitor.

He studied the strange figure for a few moments, which looked at first glance like something grotesque, a multi-legged humanoid wasp grafted with the face of a woman. Upon closer inspection, Aryol saw it was nothing so fantastic, but rather the girl from Flame Patrol strapped into a jetpack frame. The mobility had been pretty impressive. Not something he saw every day.

She seemed preoccupied, pacing. Focused on something in her hands. He approached but stopped short of what he imagined the jet wash would be. She didn't seem to notice him.

He cleared his throat, loudly.

"This would be a bad time to say, 'boo', huh?"

Date: 2009-04-07 08:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol laughed, easily.

"Pretty much. Not entirely, because that would be boring."

He shrugged.

"I'm just on patrol. Looking for snipers, that kind of thing."

He paused, taking in her elaborate getup once more.

"So, what's going on? You look like you're almost ready to go to the moon."

Date: 2009-04-07 04:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol looked up at that.

"Huh."

He spent a couple of seconds contemplating the dangling flamethrower nozzle overhead. His brows rose upward, slowly.

"Wow. Well, I'm not a..."

Aryol paused, smirking.

"...rocket scientist, but that doesn't seem all that safe."

He looked back at Katerina.

"I mean, I'm guessing hydrogen is highly flammable. But if there's enough concentrated inside the nozzle itself to make it actually float, what's to prevent that from igniting and the fire going backward into the tanks?"

Aryol stepped around to the side, to eye the jetpack.

"Are they using the same fuel source? Or...?"

Date: 2009-04-08 09:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol smirked.

"My Dragunov isn't going to explode if I have an off day. So I have to say, you're brave to strap that on your back."

He shrugged, and adjusted the lay of his rifle absently.

"So, what's the point of the jetpack? Are you testing it for a military application? How is it intended to be used during wartime?"

Aryol frowned lightly, considering.

"Front line stuff, shock troops?"

Date: 2009-04-09 04:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol laughed, shaking his head.

"I didn't ask what the point of a jetpack is. I asked what the point of the jetpack is."

He shifted his eyes toward her back, deliberately.

"Your jetpack. I mean - why did you build it? Did the Army ask you to, or is it something you want to bring to them, and see if they'll adopt and mass-produce it?"

Aryol paused, flashing a grin.

"Or is it just for, you know, kicks? Because you're right, it's not especially subtle, and it seems like unless you're specifically always using it with the flamethrower, against troop emplacements and bunkers, or yeah, to burn down villages and slaughter civilians, it'll only be of limited value."

He shrugged.

"And even then, how often are you going to run into those situations, in this day and age?"

Aryol looked at Katerina with raised brows.

"Unless the Fury's planning something."

Date: 2009-04-10 09:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol blinked at that last bit, but then he laughed, shaking it off.

"Um, okay. That sounds a little random. But seriously, congratulations. Sounds like you've been working hard. That's great. I'm sure you deserve it."

Katerina's face lit up when she talked about it. Aryol had never seen her so animated.

He smiled.

"So what's the deal with Voyevoda? How does she even know me?"

Aryol shook his head with mild skepticism.

"And honestly, what would an American spy want with me?"

Date: 2009-04-12 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"Uh...no?" Aryol said.

He stared at her, brows raised, taken aback.

"Believe me, if we were here to kill somebody, they would already be dead. And I don't need to get close to anyone to do the deed. That's the whole point of the...sniper...thing."

Aryol gestured at the weapon on his back, minimally, taking care to keep his hands slow. Katerina's wide eyes flew back and forth, tracking his movements. He couldn't decide if she meant to fly away or roast him on the spot. Maybe both.

He exhaled, slowly, gathering his thoughts.

"Wow. You know...I have to ask you something, honestly here. If what I said is really that ridiculous, why are you so mad? If it's really so unthinkable she's a spy, why don't you just laugh and call me an asshole?"

Aryol shrugged then.

"Because it's not personal. If she's a spy, it doesn't matter to me. I'm sure she's still a nice person."

Date: 2009-04-12 08:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"Don't worry about it."

Aryol shrugged.

"Sorry if I offended you."

He studied her body language for a few moments, then finally decided she really had decided to stand down. He adjusted the strap of his rifle, casually, just to test, and noted no particular reaction.

"Look, I don't want to make you uncomfortable about my intentions. Since I can't imagine what she would want to talk to me about, either, it's probably better that I don't."

Aryol offered a small smile.

"That way, you won't have to worry."

Date: 2009-04-13 10:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol's brows rose.

"You tell me."

He smiled, untroubled.

"I wasn't so much talking late at night as it was he started to follow me around and say creepy stuff, so I called him on it, and gave him some advice. I hope it was the right thing to do. I guess time will tell."

Aryol shrugged, then.

"So how does it feel, being a commander? I bet your brothers are all proud of you."

Date: 2009-04-14 08:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"Well, that's the thing," Aryol said, smooth brow creasing ever so slightly, as he considered. "I mean, it's more than just about me and how he treats me, if he respects me or whatever."

He shrugged.

"I meant, if anything I said helps him pass in some way, lets him seem like he's normal, that's great - unless he starts hurting people again. Then it was a big mistake on my part."

Aryol winced slightly, thinking of what Liadov would say.

"Because most people with sense would avoid him when he says that creepy shit. They would probably try to get away before it's too late. At least, hopefully. If they had sense. But if he managed not to say that stuff, and came off normal, and there was no warning..."

He trailed off, looking at Katerina. She looked younger than she was, he thought, even though he wasn't a good judge. She had a delicate face, heart-shaped and girlish, the shape accentuated by the odd hood.

It was kind of a funny conversation to be having with a girl in a martian suit, if he thought about it.

"See what I mean? If he goes back to killing, then I just helped him do it better, and that's not good."

Date: 2009-04-14 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol nodded, after a moment.

"No. He can't ever lead a normal life. But giving him structure and direction, supervision and rules, that's about the best thing for him. He's still dangerous to others, but as long as they always lay a little road in front of him, he'll be less likely to veer off of it accidentally."

He paused, looking at her with dark and serious eyes.

"Thank you for telling me that. I feel better about it now. I'm glad they're doing something to help him. For your sake, too. I know you really care."

Aryol crossed his arms idly, and leaned against the rooftop heating unit.

"So how does that fit into the way that Phoenix Unit works now, what he's going to be doing? Is he still a part of your squad?"

Date: 2009-04-15 05:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"Okei," Aryol said, slowly.

He paused to adjust the collar of his jacket, making it neat, laying it flat, pondering silently.

After a few seconds, he glanced up.

"So...why do you need an assassin to develop experimental weapons? I mean, obviously, you don't."

A light frown pulled at his brow suddenly, and he cocked his head.

"Look, though, if you're not comfortable with me asking about it, or if it's classified, just say the word. I'm just trying to understand what Phoenix Unit does, since you brought it up."

Aryol flashed a grin.

"But honestly, if you need an assassin, it's a little more than just developing weapons. Sounds like you're going to use them."

Date: 2009-04-16 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol laughed.

"Thanks. I'll see if I can manage. I hear the Fury puts on a good party."

He paused, then, and studied her for a few moments, dark brows angled inward thoughtfully.

"You know something, if you don't mind me saying, you seem really happy. Last time I talked to you, you were kind of down, and I don't know, confused about a bunch of stuff."

He smiled warmly.

"Is it the promotion? Or are other things working out in your life, too?"

Date: 2009-04-17 07:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"World peace?"

Aryol's brows rose dubiously.

"Well, it's a nice idea. But isn't what you're doing the antithesis of world peace? Developing experimental weapons? Training assassins?"

He laughed then, his eyes dark and devilish.

"I don't think you can arrive at world peace by killing everyone who believes something different than you do."

Aryol paused.

"Well, I guess you could, but it would pretty much defeat the purpose. And you'd be, you know, Hitler. Only successful."

He stuck his hands in his pockets.

"What do you think, comrade?"

Date: 2009-04-20 06:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"You should ask her, and see what she says."

Aryol considered Katerina, who was molded in the image of her commander, as if someone had split the Fury's head open, and she had come springing out.

He realized there was another quality about her that reminded him of the Fury, her single-minded conviction. Aryol got the feeling the times she was unsure of herself were rare but honest, though when it came to most everything else, she had made up her mind long before.

"That suit must be insulated, as well as fireproof," he commented, offhand.

Aryol pulled up his collar, leaning against the bulky hvac unit, which gave off enough incidental heat to keep the rooftop nest tolerable, in spite of the cold air and the high, hazy sun.

"Anyway, we all start off with a home, communist or capitalist. I'd be curious about why she left hers, if I were you."

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