theothermanofsteel: (
[personal profile] theothermanofsteel
Piotr and Kate will be heading back to their world, soon. Back to the Mansion, and back to the war.

Even if that's not technically what it is, any more. It always is, one way or another.

At any rate, Piotr doesn't know when he'll be back, once they do. Time passes differently; last time he was gone for two and a half days, a month went by at Milliways.

So he's outside, enjoying the winter while he can. It might be spring by the time he sees this lake again. And Piotr, Siberian farmboy that he is, has always appreciated a good snowfall. He's been out here for some time, while evening darkened around him, strolling slowly with his hands in his pockets and a sketchbook in its case slung over his back, just in case.

At least until a gout of white flame catches his attention abruptly.

(It's far enough away that he restrains the automatic impulse to go metal, which is his usual reaction to being startled. But only barely.)

Date: 2008-02-10 09:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Nearly before she has dampened the flames, Maya knows that there is someone else out here. A man, she sees in the split second's afterglow left by the fire. A very big man.

She is less worried about his size, however, and more about--

"Goddammit, I'm sorry," she calls, and the apology sounds (and is) very sincere. "I didn't see you there." She takes a few steps, her boots crunching in the snow, and she leans on the still-warm rock, looking into the darkness. "Are you alright?"

Date: 2008-02-10 09:45 am (UTC)
steelartisan: (yeah well)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
"Da, I am fine." His answer is quick and reassuring, and faintly accented with Russian.

As is hers, which is part of the reason that first word was in Russian. (The other part is that Piotr throws Russian words into his English a lot. But he's not totally sure of how the Bar's translation spell works, sometimes.)

"I should be asking you, I think."

Date: 2008-02-10 09:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maya's eyebrows lower, then rise, at the sound of the familiar accent. She smiles, faint and tight and rueful, down at the scorched rock, then out at the man.

"I'm fine," she says. Furious, but fine, but this is a stranger and she doesn't say that; she just takes a deep breath and forces Volkov (the butcher, Volkov the son of a b--) from her mind as best she can.

"Of course, I can't say the same for the rock."

Date: 2008-02-10 10:03 am (UTC)
steelartisan: (relaxation time)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
With faint amusement, "It has been there a very long time."

"I think it will be all right."

"And if not..." He shrugs, amiably, though he doubts she can see it in the darkness. The moon is only a sliver, though the stars are bright; he can make out her form against the snow, but indistinctly, and the afterimages from that flameburst don't help. "It is an object at Milliways. These things happen."

Date: 2008-02-10 10:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I think it has probably survived worse than a tantrum," says Maya, and she hears him headed slowly in her direction. She doesn't blame him; she would approach a stranger who threw flame with caution, too.

She's tall, from what can be seen, and slender even while wrapped in a long coat.

"Given its location, especially."

Date: 2008-02-10 10:24 am (UTC)
steelartisan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan

"I am Piotr Nikolaievitch," he adds, when he's nearer.

Date: 2008-02-10 10:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maya steps around the rock, and holds out her left hand, palm up. The flame that comes is slow, this time, and small, as if it has to be coaxed to life in the palm of her hand. Burning away merrily above her glove, the tongue of fire bears little resemblance to its powerful cousin that was thrown against the boulder.

It achieves the intended effect of casting some light on the situation.

Piotr Nikolaievitch is handsome, Maya thinks, tall and strong, young to her eyes, and the combination (and the build) is a familiar one.

She offers her right hand even as she holds up the light in her left, looking up at him. "Sorceress-Major Maya Antares." She enjoys the latitude that Milliways affords her, but with someone from her own world -- she gives the rank. "Maya. It's a pleasure to meet you, Piotr Nikolaievitch."

Date: 2008-02-10 11:18 am (UTC)
steelartisan: (Not Superman)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
She's blond, blue-eyed, and the resemblance is--

Not as strong as it could be.

But it's there, and the light is dim and flickering, and for a moment she looks very like Illyana might have, if she'd lived long enough.

"It is good to meet you," he says with a small smile, after the first instant of startlement that's possibly more visible than he'd like, and clasps her hand.

Date: 2008-02-10 11:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maya's hand all but disappears in Piotr Nikolaievitch's. "Where are you from?" she asks, reclaiming her hand at the end of the (firm, on her part) shake. She smiles in return, a little.

Date: 2008-02-10 11:32 am (UTC)
steelartisan: (memories of the Rodina)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
"Siberia," he says, "near Lake Baikal."

No matter how long he lives anywhere else, Russia and the Ust-Ordynski Farm will always be where he's from.

"And you, Maya Antares?"

Antares is not a patronymic; he's not sure what to make of that.

Date: 2008-02-10 11:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maya is distracted from giving her response by just how confusing his is.

"Siberia," she says, cautiously, and the name is foreign on her tongue. "I've never heard of it. Is it a village?"

It's not one of the states held by the one-time URRS in its days of glory; that, she knows for certain.

Date: 2008-02-10 11:40 am (UTC)
steelartisan: (whoa hey what?)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
...If she's confused, Piotr has just gotten equally so.

"No. It is a region -- very large."

"In Russia?"

Date: 2008-02-10 11:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maya shakes her head, slow enough that her eyes don't leave his for more than a second or two.

"I don't know it," she says.

Date: 2008-02-10 12:03 pm (UTC)
steelartisan: (memories of the Rodina)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
"But you sound Russian."

This is somewhat bewildered, but it's also absently said; clearly she's not, or not from a Russia that's anything like his.

"It is a country on Earth. In Europe."

Date: 2008-02-10 12:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"No," says Maya, and her headshake is stronger, this time; more certain. "I've heard of Europe and a planet called Earth, from people at Milliways, but I'm from the--" It's still reflex, after all this time, to say 'the United Republics of the Red Star,' but she catches herself.

"--The Commonwealth of Red States," she says, and there is no pride in it. "The former URRS."

Date: 2008-02-10 12:15 pm (UTC)
steelartisan: (kinda concerned)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
Piotr shakes his head slowly, and with faint apology. "I have never heard of it."

Ruefully, "Different worlds, then. I am sorry -- I assumed they were closer."

Date: 2008-02-10 12:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maya's smile is tiny and equally rueful, as she says, "Don't be. When I heard your voice and your name -- I assumed the same thing. You're the closest I've come to anyone from my world here." She leans back against the rock she'd scorched, one arm folded across her midsection and the other still held outward with its dancing flame.

"Do you mind if I--?" She pulls a demonstrative gesture with her hand, making as if she were going to close her fingers, thereby putting out the light.

Date: 2008-02-10 12:31 pm (UTC)
steelartisan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
"No -- go ahead."

"Is Antares your last name?" he asks as an afterthought.

Might as well make sure of all the assumptions, while he's at it.

Date: 2008-02-10 12:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The last good look that Piotr will get of Maya, if he is looking, are blue eyes swinging toward him as the flame vanishes.

They've established that they aren't from the same place, yes, but if questions about Maya's last name are asked, they typically involve her husband (the holder of most of the academy's sporting records) or her brother-in-law (the skymarshall) or Maya herself, on occasion.

She wasn't expecting (what she thinks could be) name recognition from the man from another world.

"Yes," she says, after a startled half-second.

Date: 2008-02-10 12:48 pm (UTC)
steelartisan: (yeah well)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
He has a sheepish half-smile, though she may not be able to see it as the flame winks out.

"I assumed again," he explains.

"Rasputin is mine. Piotr Rasputin. Nikolaievitch is my ochestvo -- my father's name was Nikolai."

"It is the Russian way. Usually I leave it out here."

For some strange reason, most Americans (and similar) find Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin confusingly long.

Date: 2008-02-10 12:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin?" she hazards a guess. "Or Rasputin Nikolaievitch?"

Maya doesn't seem to struggle with the name.

Then again, she is accustomed to similar. You try saying Alexandra Goncharova five times fast.

Date: 2008-02-10 01:02 pm (UTC)
steelartisan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
"Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin. Yes."

"Piotr is fine," he adds. "Or Piotr Nikolaievitch -- whichever you want."

Date: 2008-02-10 01:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maya considers him (or his silhouette, anyway) for a moment, and then she says, "You look like a Piotr Nikolaievitch to me."

Her smile is small, but audible.

Date: 2008-02-10 01:15 pm (UTC)
steelartisan: (half smile)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
Piotr glances at her in the dark.

And smiles back, for all that she can't see it.

"Sorceress-Major," he says musingly, after a few moments of comfortable silence. "You are in the military?"

Date: 2008-02-10 01:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I am," she says. "I'm a warkaster in the Sorceress Corps. It's a branch of the Complex of Military Industrial Sorcery." It's all very confusing, to someone who hasn't grown up with that; she picked that much up from the reactions of people she's spoken with here.

"More simply -- I'm a sorceress-major in the Red Fleet."

Date: 2008-02-10 01:36 pm (UTC)
steelartisan: (still pondering this one)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
It is confusing, and it isn't; new terms, but there's a certain similarity to governmental nomenclature everywhere.

"My sister was a sorceress," he says after a moment. "But I think it is different."

"In my world it is not so organized. There are no battalions of magicians."

Date: 2008-02-10 01:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My sister was a sorceress.

Maya started to pay attention to the way people phrased things, after she lost Marcus. Piotr Nikolaievitch said 'my sister was a sorceress.' That's a whole lot more final than what some people might say: 'my sister used to be a sorceress.'

"There are none of those in my world, either," she says. No 'magicians,' and no battalions of sorceresses all lined up in a row, though she doesn't say it. "Only the Sorceress Corps. And the Nistaani sorcerer."

(He is a high-priest, technically, Kar Dathra the Eternal, but after what Maya saw at Kar Dathra's Gate -- he will be listed, if with an iron jaw, when she discusses these matters. Always.)

Date: 2008-02-10 01:59 pm (UTC)
steelartisan: (watchful (with Katya))
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
The tension on that last sentence is faint, but it's still there.

And a familiar sort -- the kind that says old trouble, or old grief. She didn't ask about his sister, and he doesn't ask about this.

"All women?"

Huh. Interesting.

Date: 2008-02-10 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"All women," Maya confirms, and she doesn't say 'besides the Nistaani high priest' because she's fairly certain she doesn't have to. 'Sorcerer' is an unmistakably male title.

Date: 2008-02-10 02:15 pm (UTC)
steelartisan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
It does seem pretty clear, yeah.

Piotr makes a hmm, interesting noise of understanding.

Around them: the sounds of the wind, the lake waves, the occasional dry leaf rattling along rock or snow.

Date: 2008-02-10 02:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He reminds her of her Guardsman, when he's quiet; it's something about the big bulk of a man standing in front of her, about the wordless communication and the innate comfort with silence.

Maya has never been one to needlessly fill silence just for the sake of hearing her own voice, or anyone else's. Especially not with Kyuzo as a constant companion.

It's the work of a moment to hoist herself up high enough to sit on the boulder she's been leaning against. The stars aren't especially bright tonight, but there's enough light to watch the way that it plays across the water.

Date: 2008-02-10 02:38 pm (UTC)
steelartisan: (can't go home again)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
"What is your home like?" he asks curiously, after a few minutes' comfortable silence.

The ambiguity there -- her country, her world, her childhood town -- is deliberate. Any answer will be interesting, and sometimes it's hard to guess what's a bad subject.

Date: 2008-02-10 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"It used to be a proud nation," she says.

Or maybe it was just that she used to be proud of it.

"The United Republics of the Red Star. Times are harder now." Everything's harder; the government is struggling to hold itself together, much less also the few states that still belong to the Commonwealth-that-was-once-a-Republic. "Most civilians are struggling." They're losing hope. The cities are gray, she doesn't say, but she's thinking it.

"I don't see much of the Commonwealth, besides the capital city and wherever I'm stationed. There are still some beautiful places left, though." Ones that she was more inclined to seek out when she had Marcus seeking with her.

"What about your Russia?" she asks, glancing at Piotr.

Date: 2008-02-10 03:09 pm (UTC)
steelartisan: (Ust-Ordynski collective farm)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
"I live in New York now, in America. But Russia will always be home."

Even when it isn't, exactly.

"Siberia is a harsh land, but beautiful. Very cold in winter, much more than here, but in the summer it is lovely. Wheat fields everywhere, and many rivers. Huge taiga forests, too -- very old ones. I grew up on a farm. The Ust-Ordynski Farm. A collective farm, under the Soviets."

"It was a larger nation then, too. The USSR, in English. United Soviet Socialist Republics -- Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik, in Russian. But that changed years ago. Most of the republics broke away to claim independence." Piotr was twelve or so; at the time, he was aware of all this mostly as news on the radio, and policy changes that affected his family on the farm.

He shrugs in the darkness, and glances at her sillhouetted form. Perched on her boulder, she's closer to his eye level now. "It is a very large country, even now. There are important cities -- Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and so on -- but there is more countryside. Forest and mountains and farmland."

Piotr is something of a country boy at heart, and always will be.

Date: 2008-02-15 03:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maya shoots the man's form a swift, startled look.

"The same happened in my world. The republics broke away from the URRS, crying for independence. Your Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik -- did it try to stop them?"

Piotr's Siberia sounds beautiful, and ordinarily, Maya would be happy to learn of it. But this conversation takes parallels and turns that she does not expect, continually, and she has to ask about them.

Date: 2008-02-15 08:13 am (UTC)
steelartisan: (memories of the Rodina)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
Piotr hesitates.

"For a time. There was -- trouble. Unrest. The economy was bad, and growing worse. Political control was weakened -- a good thing, but it meant we learned of problems the government had covered up. Some wanted reform. Some wanted independence, or a return to the old iron control, and everyone had different ideas. Everything was unstable."

"But there was never war. Clashes, and fights with laws and supply lines. Everything was uncertain. But not war. It fell apart everywhere, very fast. All at once, it felt like. I was young, but the adults said so too. From the great Soviet Union to Russia and all the little nations in only a few years."
Edited Date: 2008-02-15 08:15 am (UTC)

Date: 2008-02-18 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maya listens, and for a long moment, she says nothing. Her eyes may be on Piotr, but her mind is on his words.

From the great Soviet Union to Russia and all the little nations in only a few years.

The lake is quiet under a sheet of ice.

"It all sounds very familiar," she says, finally. "Familiar enough to be exactly the same. Trouble, unrest, instability; different ideas, problems that the government had covered up, a fast crumbling -- that's how it happened. Except that in my world, there was war. The URRS tried to force the republics to submit to it, and the Commonwealth of Red States is still trying."

The key word here -- and her delivery more than suggests it -- is 'tried' and 'trying.'

Date: 2008-02-18 04:52 am (UTC)
steelartisan: (seen the world burn)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
What's clear in the words she's saying, and the words she isn't: it's going badly.

Of course it is. No matter who's winning, there is no good in civil war.

And she's a military sorceress.

"I am sorry," he says, and it's clear that this is sympathy, and sincere.

Date: 2008-02-18 05:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maya accepts the words for what they are -- real sympathy, kindness -- with a quiet smile, and a nod. "I am, too."

Enough of war and of sadness. It has to be faced when she returns home. It doesn't have to be faced right now.

"Would you mind telling me about your farm, Piotr Nikolaievitch?" Maya says with a wider smile, drawing her legs up. "I grew up in the capital city; I don't know anything about country life."

Date: 2008-02-18 05:47 am (UTC)
steelartisan: (can't go home again)
From: [personal profile] steelartisan
"If you will tell me more about your home," he answers, with his own smile. "The good parts."

The Ust-Ordynski farm -- the parts that are homeland and nostalgia, not the loss but the golden wheatfields and loving family of his childhood -- is something Piotr can talk about for a while.


theothermanofsteel: (Default)

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