Aleksei arrives home a couple hours after leaving Limbo with the prisoners. It’s been a hectic day; only… five hours ago or so, they gathered to take down the drug house. Though for the rest of the world, it’s been over a day since Limbo decided to do its strange time thing again. He’s still wearing the SHIELD armor and he’s got a bulging bag of Chinese food.
Anastasia Rasputina had some things to deal with in Limbo after Aleksei left. Notably, making sure to keep her demons in line. They don’t like being teased and only the lowest on the totem pole really got to get any vittles. When Aleksei gets home, Anastasia is sitting on the floor of the living room, using the coffee table as, well, a table as she works on the translation of that book from Jericho. It takes a lot more to say in English what the tomes say in Demonic. The latter is a much more… precise language.
The blonde is dressed in loose cotton pants and one of Aleksei’s old Institute T-shirts. She’s got a thin cut along her cheekbone. She lifts her head as the door opens and sniffs, expression brightening. “Oh good, I’m hungry.” She has a bad habit of getting distracted by things, and forgetting to eat.
“Me too.” Aleksei agrees. “It’s been a busy day and I haven’t eaten since dinner. Well, yesterday’s dinner.” Technically. He puts the bag on the coffee table then heads toward his room. “Everything good in Limbo? They didn’t get to kill or eat anyone. It almost seems a little unfair to them since we did get them worked up.”
Anastasia Rasputina closes the books she’s working with, setting them aside so they won’t get any food on them and then starts to unpack. “As good as it gets. I needed tomollify some and put others in their place.” There is, sadly, no more ice cream in the freezer now. “Next time, maybe I’ll just bring the imps to Earth.” THey’re not as impressive, but they’re easier to control.
“How did the drop-off go?” She asks, voice raised to he can hear her in the other room as he changes.
“As good as it gets.” Aleksei calls from his room. “She wasn’t happy about the condition they arrived in. It was pretty obvious what happened and she was having a moral crisis, wondering if we were any better than they were. Including herself in that ‘we’ since she had a pretty good idea what was going to happen.” There’s a pause as he pulls the uniform off over his head. “I don’t think it would have been as effective here. Being in Limbo made a difference. Not to mention it made sure no one interrupted and tried to stop it.”
“She’s not entirely wrong.” Anastasia says, pushing up to her feet to get them some vodka from the freezer. “Not that we are as bad as they, but it’s the same path. Blood, death.” There is the clink of glass against glass as she gets back to the living room and she starts to dish up food for herself. “You know the saying, yes? ‘The road to Hell…?'”
“We don’t make a habit of torturing people.” Aleksei points out, not trying to whitewash what happened with some euphemism. “While that was their job and they’d have kept on doing it if we hadn’t stopped them. Which is exactly what I told her. I’m not happy with you, by the way.” he says as he walks back out, wearing a tee shirt and pair of shorts.
“Speak for yourself.” Anastasia says dryly. Then amends, “Humans less so.” She admits. Some of th e students when she does guest lecturing at the Institute might disagree….
The sorceress pours them each a glass and then leans back, arching a brow at her brother. “Not happy with me?” She doesn’t apologize. Even if she knew why he was upset she probably wouldn’t apologize. Not with words. Aleksei is probably well used to his siter not asking and not apologizing just in general.
“Did you think I wouldn’t notice you doing everything to them before I could?” Aleksei asks. He takes a seat by the coffee table and starts pulling out containers. There’s his favorite, her favorite, and a selection of others as well as chopsticks. He’s got no problem eating from the containers. “It was my idea to use demons from the beginning. You don’t need to shield me from things.”
Anastasia Rasputina slides him a Look, taking a sip of the alcohol before she speaks. “You’re supposed to be big, strong, and dumb.” She teases him. “My demons know you, but they won’t fall in line for you. Not truly. They’ll do what you say because of the threat of me until they think they can get away with NOT listening. You don’t have any standing with them, just the threat of belonging to me.” And she can’t do things that he tells her because of the demons views on what makes one more dominant than another.
She gives a soft sighing exhale. “Besides, there is no need for you to darken your soul when mine is already stained.”
“Mine can take a lot more darkening than yours can.” Aleksei points out. “I’m also more likely to do things to counter it.” Which isn’t to say she doesn’t help people but… Queen of Limbo and all that. “There’s no need for you to speed up whatever it is that’s going on with you.” And despite himself, he does sound a little skeptical about the whole soul thing. “So don’t put yourself in front of the train when I can take the impact better than you.”
The tip of Anastasia’s tongue slides along her upper lip. It’s a thoughtful gesture… one that indicates she’s note entirely comfortable with Aleksei’s logic. The easy response might be that it’s her place to protect him, she now being the elder. But she’s never tried to wrap him in cotton. Nor would he appreciate her trying to protect him, as he’s making very clear. “What I worry most, is that you might not feel it truly has a cost.”
Tearing the paper from the chopsticks, Aleksei opens a couple containers till he finds his General Tso’s Chicken. With his mouth full, he just shrugs a shoulder till he’s done chewing. “I’m not sure it does. But like I said, I don’t make a habit of doing that kind of thing so even if it does, it’s no big deal.” Pausing with another piece of chicken on the chopsticks, he adds “As far as a soul goes, I mean. Doing that kind of thing is a big deal which is why I don’t make a habit of it. But I’m not going to shy away from what needs to be done.”
Anastasia Rasputina gives her brother a long look. She’s not terribly happy. “It *is* something that I believe in. Strongly. And I am concerned about your soul as much as you are about my life. I can agree that it’s not my place to protect you, but when you can’t see the danger…” She shakes her head, still not having touched her food yet. Just the cold, clear alcohol. “Once, those men were good people. Once, we were all good people. And Limbo… it feeds that darkness.” There’s a reason she didn’t just move them into the hellish land.
OK, there’s like, 100 reasons.
“And if you’re right about it then you definitely don’t need to be speeding down that road.” Aleksei points out. “They might have been good once but that was then and this is now. What we did means they can’t continue to hurt and kill people and by getting that address, we can stop others from doing the same. Every day that drug is being made and used, more are dying. I think stopping that balances a little torture.” He’s not exactly taking it lightly but he’s not agonizing over it either. “Look, if you see me doing that kind of thing just for the hell of it” no pun intended “you can say something.”
Anastasia Rasputina lifts her hands a bit, palms outwards in a bit of an ‘I surrender’ sort of gesture. “My reasoning still stands for what I did. Controlling my demons,” The literal ones, “is a difficult dance.” She gives a lopsided almost-smile then. “You should find someone sweet and pure to keep you on this righteous road. Too often, I will only notice too late.” In the thick of things, she’s far too likely to go with her darker instincts.
“Like Kaylee?” Aleksei asks, giving his sister a grin. “Not my type. Though it was nice having that kind of backup available. And the armor. It looks good on me and doesn’t get holes in it when shot. She said I could keep it. Maybe we should help them more often, even after this drug thing is over.”
Anastasia Rasputina snorts at that. “No, not Kaylee. Why would you have a golem play the part of your conscience?” She waves to the kitchen, “Why not the toaster?” She finally sets her glass down and starts to eat. “No, it should be someone whose opinion matters to you.” She chews for a bit and then says too-casually, “You need more friends.” She’s one to talk, but hey.
“A golem?” Aleksei asks curiously then snorts. “You’re a good one to talk.” He just looks at Nastya as he eats another piece of chicken then asks “Why do you even bother with Limbo if it’s such an evil place and darkens your soul? Stay away from it, let whatever happen there happen while you live your life here and only pass through it to go places.”
“A machine. A… robot, I think?” Anastasia shakes her head. “I met her with Jericho and something happened. I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Very impressive, but still not alive.” Guess everyone has their opinions on what constitutes a person.
When Aleksei suggests she leave it, she shakes her head. “The promise that I might be Darkchilde is what kept me alive when they found me as a child. They aren’t going to let me walk away. And just as you feel a responsibility to our people, I have a responsibility not to let any of the other contenders for Limbo’s throne succeed. They could unleash Hell on earth.”
“She is? She isn’t?” Huh. Aleksei would never have guessed either. “Well, if it’s that important, I’ll help of course. What others are there? You don’t talk a lot about that place.”
“Because I don’t want to drag you into it.” Anastasia admits. “Other demons, rumors of other Darkchilde’s which likely means clones of the original, like me.” Something that took a bit for Anastasia to wrap her head around. “Each trying to gather enough power to overcome whatever it is guarding the Citadel at the heart of the realm. Supposedly, the Darkchilde will open the Elder God’s prison, letting them loose to devour the earth.”
“Who better to help you?” Aleksei asks. “I don’t want the place myself so I can’t be tempted by it. And you know you can trust me, which you can’t with anything that lives in that place. And preventing the Earth from being devoured is a pretty good thing, right? I think SHIELD might want to keep that from happening too. So let’s build a force and take the Citadel so we can lock it down.”
Anastasia Rasputina chuckles at him. “Are you proposing that I try to take the realm for myself?” Mostly, she’s worked on keeping the other players in check, not trying to *be* the Darkchilde. “There is no assurance that force will take the Citadel, though. Any that enter just… dissapear. It stands as a cold and empty tomb. Demons always think in terms of power, so they surmise that if they have enough power they will manage it.”
He can tell she’s not thrilled with the idea of him helping. She’s seen too much of Limbo to want anyone to have to learn to live like she did. Limbo is a very alien place. She knows, because Earth was that for her. Even after half a decade, she doesn’t understand a lot of the social nuances of how people think.
“You’ve been trying to make sure no one else takes it, right? Well, the best place to defend a mountain is from the top of it.” Aleksei points out. “If that Citadel is so important then whatever’s in it will probably help you stop anyone else from taking it.” He considering what she said as he talks and after a couple bites adds “Is that what that book is for? The one you’ve been studying? Information on the Citadel?”
Anastasia Rasputina shakes her head, waving off the book. “No, no. That has to do with… well, we’re not entirely sure. It showed up on Jericho’s doorstep with a sliver of metal that is found in Limbo and is very, very rare. It sounds like humans did some experimentation in Limbo, and I’m trying to make some sense of what they were trying to accomplish.”
“Showed up? Sounds like a trap. So what’s it about?” Aleksei reaches over to grab the bottle of vodka then pushes over the container with Nastya’s dish. “Eat. I remember him saying something about the metal. Did it tie into the Russians too?”
Anastasia Rasputina shakes her head. “Unsure. Gabrielle is still missing, and she was in the same Project that Jericho was, that put the metal in him and she was checking in on White Devil, which is a Russian project. So, possible. But nothing concrete.” Given that part of White Devil was trying to get a viable Magik clone, whose mutant power involves the dimensional portals to Limbo. Talk about a spaghetti of possibilities.
The blonde leans over to add more to her plate, chewing for a bit before speaking again. “If it’s a trap, I’m not sure what it’s leading to yet.”
“Oh, right. I forgot the details with all this MGH stuff happening. Now I remember; you told me. A trip to Europe you were saying.” Setting the container down, Aleksei sits back and takes a swig from the bottle. “Still being planned?”
Anastasia Rasputina gives a short nod. “Less with the planning, more with people being neck-deep in other things as well.” As the MGH thing well attests. “We aren’t likely to find much more at the place she was taken, so I might just slip Jericho into some suspect areas so he can talk to their hard drives.” Likely rip them out and bring them back, as they’re likely to be encrypted.
“Well, let me know if and when we need to go. Just give me a couple days warning so I can get any assignments in early.” The trials and tribulations of a student fighting Evil. Aleksei takes another swig and asks “So what do you think about joining SHIELD? Could be fun.”
Anastasia Rasputina wipes at her mouth and can’t help but chuckle a bit at that. “*Me* joining SHIELD? Not so much. I don’t take orders well.” As in, at all really. She’ll entertain suggestions, but part of keeping her demons in line is not submitting to anyone else. “You could see if they have an internship sort of program, to see if you want to work with them. Most of their work is very in line with helping our people.”
“And on a larger scale than just helping out the occasional mutant, I think.” Aleksei agrees. “Maybe I’ll do that.” Though he’s not very good at taking orders either. “Something to think about anyway. I like doing something that I know is making a difference.” Even if it involves torturing bad guys for information.
Anastasia Rasputina gives Anastasia a small, almost gentle smile. “Yes. Yes you do.” And SHIELD could be a good place to do that.