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27 March 2007 @ 12:31 am
Clandestine pursuits  
All clear. Good.

Initially, Ippolit had despaired of ever slipping past all of the fortress's watchful eyes. However, careful observation had revealed that there were often short gaps in the patrols, just long enough for a man to slip through, if he was quick. He had bought himself some extra time with an item he had found in the storeroom, wedged between a splintering crate and the wall. Ippolit sometimes saw things other people didn't.

A glance around the corner confirmed that the soldier whose route went by these particular offices was indeed neutralized for the time being. Honestly, he couldn't see what was so engrossing about women in black garterbelts, though it did also contain an interesting story about aliens by a man with a name like a fish.

Ippolit darted down the hallway, his hand moving to the other object his earlier foray had borne, nested safely beneath his coat. He'd been very careful not to ruin the shape. C3 was, after all, pliable.

The door was unlocked. Ippolit smiled to himself. The Colonel's reputation would be enough to keep most intruders at bay.

Ippolit kept his eyes straight ahead and his mind on the objective, refusing to be distracted by seeing in what kind of environment a man like the Colonel would live. There was no time to fall into a trance.

Withdrawing the object from his pocket, he held it up to his eye, examining it critically. He adjusted a few of the petals, ensuring that they were well defined. Detail was important.

Alone in the center of the massive desk, the small shape was striking. Delicate among brutality, artistry among ruthless efficiency, dangerous and, if he said so himself, beautiful. A single white carnation. Forming it had been difficult, but Ippolit had a dextrous bend, and, besides, the symbolism was ideal.

Fascination.

Deed done, Ippolit made his escape, taking care that his egress was unobserved.

By the time he arrived at the more populous parts of the fortress, he let himself feel a giddy tingle of relief. It was only a gesture, but it felt like a victory.

He even had an alibi.

Rakitin strode toward Liadov's office, ready to take on the day's interrogations.
 
 
 
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on March 27th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
Nika stood at the window, gazing out onto the peaks. A fabulous tableau. He meant to drink it in before neccessity mandated the slow and deliberate drawing of the blinds.

He glanced at his watch.

Late.

That didn't matter. The uncertainty of time was an asset in his work. If appointments were pushed back, rearranged, it was all more unsettling to the subject.

He wondered idly what was keeping Rakitin. The man had said he wanted to sit in on the first day, wanted to know what Liadov knew.

That made sense, of course- but could he have already forgotten where the North Wing was?

The man was a scientist, he reminded himself.

It was far from impossible.

Nika turned his head. Ocelot leaned silently in the corner, slowly flipping his Makarov.

He was tempted to send the Major after Rakitin, but that would be a last resort.

They could wait a moment longer. Time was always on the side of the man in grey.
Ippolit Zosimovich Rakitinhajimenoippolit on March 27th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
Shit. He'd mistimed it, by a few minutes. Ah, well. Chalk it up to absent-mindedness.

Playing dumb was something Ippolit had an extraordinary talent for.

"Sorry," he said as he entered Liadov's office, briskly but with a hint of deferential meekness. "I'm still not quite used to the scale of this place."

That was more than true enough. Groznyj Grad seemed as though it couldn't decide whether to hulk or sprawl and had compromised by doing both at once.

That Liadov would be staring inscrutably out the window seemed fitting, but Rakitin hadn't expected the young man in the corner, idly toying with his sidearm, precisely as he had been the day before. Ippolit resisted the urge to tell him that he was going to shoot somebody's eye out with that thing.

"Major," he said, inclining his head in acknowledgement.
Adamskamajor_ocelot_2u on March 27th, 2007 08:16 pm (UTC)
"Lieutenant," replied Ocelot, tonelessly.

Rakitin looked dishevelled. And guilty.

Liadov glanced, read his face and looked away. He wasn't interested in the failings or misdeeds of his colleagues. He was loaded for bear.

Ocelot raised an eyebrow. It was an interesting ability, compartmentalization. He supposed he would have been capable of it, if he'd wanted to, but as it stood Ocelot's philosophy was the convenient one that everything was interrelated, and nothing was insignificant.

If nothing else, it allowed him to have a lot of fun.

"What's the matter, comrade? Did you get lost in Colonel Volgin's eyes?"

He smirked obliquely, twirling the piece on his index finger, switching to the other hand seamlessly, midstream.

"Do I need to draw you a map around Mount Yevgeny?"
Ippolit Zosimovich Rakitinhajimenoippolit on March 27th, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC)
Ippolit smiled brightly.

"I think I can manage on my own," he said. "But thank you for the offer."
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on March 27th, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC)
"No problem," said Ocelot, making a grand gesture. "Always ready to help a comrade. For the good of the GRU," he added, slyly.

Nika had not been listening, intent on watching the sun trickle lazily down the mountainside. Small beige figures moved along the ridge opposite the fortress. Occasional bursts of fire were visible against the rocks.

The flame patrol. An interesting experiment in psychology. A terrible idea in social preservation. Good thing they'd done it out here, in Tselinoyarsk, to the far left of God's puckered asshole.

He turned suddenly, seeing Raikitin there and blinking slightly.

"Good morning, Polya," he said, genially composed. "Glad to see you've joined us. The more the better, at the outset. At some point I may ask one or both of you to leave the room, if I need to...negotiate one on one."

He smiled cryptically.

"But most likely, that won't required."
Ippolit Zosimovich Rakitinhajimenoippolit on March 27th, 2007 11:53 pm (UTC)
Ippolit was amused at the Ocelot major's response, and more so that he had bothered to notice at all. His was the kind who would develop a keen interest in doing something as soon as you let it be known that you didn't want them to. Not out of any malice, but only from a natural penchant to be contrary. A law of physics, like the attraction of cats to anyone who broke out in hives at the sight of them. If the major wanted to use the knowledge against him, he would, and there was nothing Ippolit could do about it.

If everything was a joke, then nothing mattered, and that was safest of all.

Liadov, for his part, paid no visible attention.

Rakitin was aware that, in the operativnik dialect, "(significant pause)" usually translated as "(please insert sordid details here, to the best of your imagination)," but he wasn't very good at it. He was more curious about what made Liadov so certain that it wouldn't be necessary.

"You seem confident. Find anything out?"

They'd only just arrived, and Ippolit had decided to defer snooping around on his own until after the initial phase of investigation, but Liadov had already made it clear that his personal methods were no business of Rakitin's.

Ippolit linked his arms behind his back and settled on his heels.

"Who's first?"
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on March 28th, 2007 01:57 am (UTC)
"That all depends," said Liadov, picking up a clipboard and flipping through it. "I'll interview Krauss and the top brass on my own time," he mused.

Volgin, at least. Ocelot would need to be questioned, as well, for formality's sake. And the other one, the Major with the swagger and the fuck-me eyes.

Though he was more likely to fit the victim profile than the perpetrator profile, thought Liadov, if it turned out they were dealing with a pattern killer.

"I assume we'll want to deal with the Cosmonaut first. Then his men. Or possibly the first respondants."

He drummed his fingers lightly against the desk.

"I'm most interested in the Flame Patrol, and in these Americans...the man especially."

The Fury had a longstanding feud with Krauss, and repeatedly made homocidal threats that indicated a lack of remorse.

They had a name for that: Depraved indifference.

It got you a lot of time in the mines.

And it wouldn't be above the man to kill the German's lover out of spite...

Though Nika doubted it. The method of commission had to be sexually motivated. Had to be a sick individual doing this despite, and not because, of circumstance.

"How about you? Any preference where we start? What did you find out from the lab work and Dr. Khostov's initial exam?"
Sergei Gurlukovich: unsuregurlukovich on March 28th, 2007 06:18 am (UTC)
When people saw Sergei Gurlukovich around areas of Groznyj Grad that he usually wouldn't visit, they knew he must have been looking for his major. Therefore, when he entered the North Wing and started searching for Ocelot, it didn't take long for someone to point him in the right direction.

Now that he thought of it, he hadn't actually heard from Andrei what Ocelot was doing there. He knew that as a major, he had a lot of other business he was expected to take care of. It was probably the bureaucratic bullshit he would rant to him about from time to time, but that was only a guess.

Considering Andrei had told him to come here, he had to assume he wouldn't be interrupting Ocelot. Besides, he would want to see him, right?

Yet he still hesitated at the door before eventually knocking. He stood at attention as he waited for a response. If Ocelot really was busy, they could always wait until later on in the day. He wouldn't mind taking a nap after the flight, after all.
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on March 28th, 2007 07:17 am (UTC)
Nika looked up at the knock.

"Seems like we have a volunteer," he said, wryly.

Ocelot snorted.

"Unlikely."

Liadov shrugged.

"You never know. Maybe the killer is going to make it easy for us. A confession. That would be nice."

In the old days of the ChekHa, it hadn't even mattered if the confession was legitimate, he thought, darkly.

He raised his voice slightly, a measured request.

"Come in," he called, mildly, and turned around, crossing his arms, to see who their visitor was.
Sergei Gurlukovich: observinggurlukovich on March 28th, 2007 07:28 am (UTC)
That voice was not Ocelot's, and Sergei was sure of that. Then again, it wouldn't have made sense for the major to be in an office on his own, would it? Of course he would be working on something with other people.

He didn't recognize the voice, but that wasn't so strange. It wasn't as if he knew all of the people in the Grad - not by any means. Shrugging to himself, Sergei opened the door and stepped inside.

There were two men he had never seen before - younger than he had expected, and it almost seemed as if they had been waiting for him, which was strange - and then there was his major, in the corner. He kept himself from smiling since he knew this was most likely a professional setting and he had to act accordingly.

"I apologize for the interruption," he started as he nodded toward the two strangers, "but I was ordered to come report to you, sir," he told Ocelot with an accompanying salute.
Adamskamajor_ocelot_2u on March 28th, 2007 07:38 am (UTC)
"One of yours?" said Liadov, nodding vaguely. "Good a place to start as any."

He uncrossed his arms, and motioned slightly to the chair in front of the desk.

"Take a seat, Lieutenant-?"

"Gurlukovich," muttered Ocelot. "And he's not staying."

"There aren't any exemptions that I'm aware of, Major."

Adam scowled.

"He's been on leave. He was several hundred miles off-base when the murder occurred."

Nika nodded.

"Ah. In that case, yes, there's no need." He paused, smiling faintly. "Provided you're willing to alibi him."

Ocelot nodded, standing up hastily.

"If you'll excuse me a moment, comrades. I'll just be outside."

Adam nodded to them both, and then to Sergei, following him into the corridor.
Sergei Gurlukovich: suspiciousgurlukovich on March 28th, 2007 07:51 am (UTC)
They had been expecting him. Sergei stiffened, eyeing the chair he was supposed to sit in uncertainly. He didn't enjoy having things sprung on him like this, and if the rest of the unit hadn't mentioned it as some sort of prank, he was going to be upset.

But then Ocelot cut in, defending him, and he was even more confused. What was this all about?

Murder? He wanted to blurt that out as a question, but managed to bite his tongue. Apparently more had happened on the base while he'd been gone then he had anticipated. Why hadn't the others mentioned any murder? Though it was possible it had just slipped their mind.

He was back outside with Ocelot within seconds, and the moment the door to the room closed behind them, he fixed the major with a surprisingly demanding stare, given his usual compliance. "What's going on?"
Adamskamajor_ocelot_2u on March 28th, 2007 08:39 am (UTC)
Ocelot pulled out his gun and began spinning it reflexively.

"I see you're already at ease," he muttered. "So I won't bother giving that order."

Normally, when they were at ease, he would have given Sergei the standard three alternating cheek kisses that male friends commonly exchanged, but this was a more immediate situation that held no place for casual greetings between friends.

He frowned, glancing down the hall and up again with narrowed eyes.

"There was a murder. Am ugly murder."

His lip curved unconsciously, betraying his repulsion toward the topic.

"I don't know if you knew him, but I know you've seen him. Molokov, who supervised supplies to the Grad. He came through every three months or so, by Kamov."

He paused.

"The MVD was called in. Today is the day we're starting interrogations."

Ocelot finished, twirling his gun to a checkpoint.

He halfway hoped that would be enough, but he doubted it highly. It never was, with Sergei.
Sergei Gurlukovich: alertgurlukovich on March 28th, 2007 09:00 am (UTC)
It was true that Sergei should have kept it professional even out in the hallway. It was likely there were other people around who might catch a glimpse of their conversation, but he had been too shocked to consider that at first. As eager as he usually was to stay at attention and be a good little Ocelot for the major, it was also easy for him to slip into a more casual tone with his superior, seeing that they had known each other long before they had been placed into a professional relationship.

Casual conversation with Ocelot was as natural as a formal one. He didn't like to think that he had upset the other by letting that line blur, however, so he immediately straightened and tensed, rigid again. "Sorry, sir," he fumbled.

As Ocelot described the victim of the murder, Sergei's eyes widened. He definitely knew who he was referring to, and while he was no stranger to death, he could tell that this was more calculated and grim than the casualties of battle he was used to.

"Why him? Do you think there was any motive behind it? Are there any suspects so far, sir?" It had to be a big deal if there had been outside forces called in for investigation and if everyone was being interviewed, which made him feel like Ocelot had left out some of the facts.

"How was he killed?"
Adamskamajor_ocelot_2u on March 28th, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)
Ocelot leaned back against the wall, rubbing his forehead with his gun.

"Don't call me sir, Seryhoza," he muttered, sighing. "It makes me feel like I'm forty with with a fucking mustache."

He didn't mind it, not really. Not always. He liked being called sir by The Ocelots, en masse. He deserved it. He'd earned it.

But the olive green wall had already been broken in this conversation, and there was no retroaction back to the chain of command when that happened, although Gurlukovich always dutifully tried.

"As far as motives and suspects go, they're looking at everyone. No concrete leads. They found the body...burned. When the greenhouse exploded," he added, realizing too late that Sergei had no idea about that either.

"The greenhouse exploded," Ocelot said, lamely.

Sergei's eyes were wide-ish.

Adam scowled.

"He didn't die in the fire. He'd been throttled, and fuck knows what else. His...he was...violated. Sexually. And his legs and one arm were severed by the killer."

Ocelot watched Gurlukovich's solemnly attentive face, saw him taking it all in.

"And," he said reluctantly, "there was something else. His khui. It had been stuffed down his throat, along with a fucking flower."
Sergei Gurlukovich: suspiciousgurlukovich on March 28th, 2007 09:57 am (UTC)
"Sorry," Sergei replied quickly. It didn't seem like he could get anything right this time, but he attributed it to the fact that all of this news was leaving him more than a little disoriented. He was just glad he hadn't instinctively added "sir" onto the apology. It was something that had happened an embarrassing amount of times before.

...The greenhouse exploded.

He really had missed a lot. He couldn't even imagine how the German major had handled that. Though that was the least of his worries when Ocelot started to get into the gritty details of the murder, enough to make his lip curl distastefully.

"Shit," he muttered, glancing away from the major for a moment. Sergei usually reserved his swearing for these sorts of situations. "So are the explosion and the murder connected, or do they not know yet?" It seemed strange that first the greenhouse would get blown up, and then a murder would take place there. That couldn't just be a coincidence, right?

Sergei knew it wasn't his job to ask these questions. That was what the investigators were for. Still, he couldn't help being curious - this was something that hit home, since that was what Groznyj Grad was to him. He didn't like the thought of killings going on within the ranks. Then again, it had been a man from the outside who had been targeted.

He still didn't like it.
Adamskamajor_ocelot_2u on March 28th, 2007 10:06 am (UTC)
"No," Ocelot saicd obscurely, averting his gaze. "The explosion was...something else. The Fury had a bone to pick with him."

He frowned.

"Still," he said. "I don't exactly know who else would be sick enough to pull something like this."

A click, dry firing his Makarov.

"Liadov- the MVD MENT- he thinks it might be the American."

Ocelot paused, then let the word curl from his lips.

"...Snake."
Sergei Gurlukovich: aloofgurlukovich on March 28th, 2007 10:17 am (UTC)
"Hmm." Crossing his arms firmly over his chest, Sergei lowered his head and frowned in thought, his slightly longer hair falling forward as his eyes found the floor.

"I guess it could be him, though does he have any reason for suspecting him other than the fact that he's American?" Sergei was as against foreigners as any Russian tended to be, but there had to be more backing for the accusation than just that. He personally didn't know much about the man except that he had managed to best Ocelot in a fight. That immediately put Snake on his bad list, but he wasn't going to let his personal feelings force him to do any reasonless fingerpointing.

It wasn't his business, anyway. The investigation would go on and the truth would come out eventually.

"Anyway," he said with a sigh, lifting his head and glancing at the door they'd just left, "I'm keeping you." He had to assume Ocelot had been assigned to oversee the interviews, which made sense. He shouldn't be sucking up that time. "I just needed to let you know I was back." It would have been more prudent to say that he'd needed to report to him, but they were being casual, right?

"We can talk about my trip later." He shrugged, knowing that he wouldn't get away without telling Ocelot about what had come of that. Now just didn't seem like the best time.
Adamskamajor_ocelot_2u on March 28th, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
Ocelot nodded.

"Right, your visit home."

He paused.

"You survived all right."

It was half statement and half question.

Ocelot straightened, scowling slightly.

"We can talk tonight. After your shift. I'll be in my quarters."

He hesitated, then laid a hand on Sergei's arm.

It lingered, and he gave a gentle, deliberate squeeze.

"It's all right, Seryhoza. Everything."

After a moment he released him, without meeting his eyes.

"I have some things to address," he said, obscurely.

He twirled his gun, and his smirk emerged as he turned back toward the door.

"You're cleared for duty. Go make me look good."

Sergei Gurlukovich: hopefulgurlukovich on March 28th, 2007 10:52 pm (UTC)
To Sergei, it seemed more like a question, but for the moment all he did was nod. Ocelot was the one person he would give more details than just that to, and that was because he knew it all already. Now just wasn't the time.

"All right. I'll come find you." He could get to Ocelot's room from his own blindfolded, probably. He would have envied the fact that he got a room all to himself if Matvei wasn't such a great roommate.

The contact had been unexpected, especially when they were out in the open - not that anyone seemed to be around. "Okay." Before, he hadn't been quite so sure that everything really was 'all right,' but hearing it from Ocelot pretty much made it fact in Sergei's eyes.

Things to address... That was painfully vague, but he'd find out soon enough. At that last comment, he grinned. "I will, major." He threw Ocelot a salute and then went on his way.
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on March 29th, 2007 12:13 am (UTC)
As Ocelot came back, Liadov spared him a glance. He was twirling his gun and looking thoughtful, with a furrowed brow and a preoccupied air.

"Your unit is fascinating, Major. Like a bevy of blond quail."

Irinarhov notwithstanding.

"They're handpicked," was all Ocelot said, resuming his place against the wall.

"I think I'll begin with first respondants," decided Liadov. "The report claims that someone called 'the Furry' was the first on the scene. First to observe the body."

Nika studied the clipboard.

"...'The Furry'?" he repeated, throwing a mildly incredulous glance at Ocelot.

"I think that's a misprint," Ocelot said.
Ippolit Zosimovich Rakitinhajimenoippolit on March 29th, 2007 09:28 am (UTC)
With the adroitness of practice, Ippolit ignored the mental image of the Ocelot major with an armful of flaxen game birds and addressed the issue at hand.

"The patterning of blood suggests that the limbs were removed shortly before death. The face and genital apparatus, shortly after. No blood stains at the site; the operations were conducted elsewhere. The bones were sawn off cleanly. Surgically."

Ippolit drew in a long, silent breath.

Conducting the autopsy had been...difficult. He'd seen his share of dead bodies. A few other people's as well, he would guess. Stabbings, shootings, poisonings, strangulation. It was rare that it got to him.

But this...

Some would call it inhuman. The worst was that it was the most human thing there was. Animal brutality he could handle. That was sane. Killing in rage was rational.

The attention to detail. The obscene parody of care. The long, tender knife strokes flensing the flesh of his face from the bone.

It had crawled into him like a stench, suffocating him, gagging him like a corpse's stiff fingers down his throat.

Alone in the cold room with the dead man, Rakitin had begun to shake.

And then...something strange. Nothing had changed, but it was different. As though something in the air had shifted, not precisely relief, but an interruption in the procession of pain. Like a cool hand on a fevered brow.

His nausea had subsided, and Ippolit felt, for the first time in a very long time, as though he were not alone.

Where there had been horror, there was solemnity. Where there had been revulsion, there was sorrow.

There was a dignity to a man's death that no other could rob from him.

The rest of the autopsy, carried out with clinical exactitude and steady hands, had felt like funeral rites.

Ippolit had felt a strange, fleeting urge to place coins over the dead man's eyes.

"Petechiae and bruising on the unburnt portions of the neck suggest strangulation as the means of death. Time of death is estimated at five hours before the explosion."

As though thought could summon, as he spoke, he felt that even flow of calm sadness descend again, like mist after a night of rain, or a friend's hand on his shoulder.

"Blood and urine test positive for sedatives. This would explain the apparent lack of a prolonged struggle, though the severity of the burns makes it impossible to be certain.

"In the anal cavity, there was a yellow rose."
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on April 3rd, 2007 08:29 am (UTC)
Liadov frowned.

"That's awful," he said, flatly.

He had long since stopped infusing the sentiment with emotion. However, that didn't make it any less genuine.

In his line of work it was a liability. His sanity could afford either empathy or sympathy, in moderation. Not both, and not oceans of salty remorse.

Rakitin didn't say anything.

"When you live next to the cemetery, you can't weep for everyone," Liadov said, grimly.

Sometimes he wished he could.

But he knew that if he started, he might never stop again.

He raised his head, carving impassivity onto his features with an icepick.

"What manner of sedatives? Was there alcohol?" He paused. "What I'm getting at comrade, is do you think he ingested them willingly but unwittingly? Or was he injected?"

The type of sedative and the presence of alcohol would do a lot to suggest whether he'd been slipped a mickey, or if Rakitin had found an injection site on any of the remaining corpus, that would tell them it had likely been a surprise attack.

Ippolit Zosimovich Rakitinhajimenoippolit on April 5th, 2007 02:53 am (UTC)
Ippolit felt a flash of sympathy steal up on him, entirely unexpected. He wanted to put a hand on Nika's arm and tell him that everything was all right. That there was someone, somewhere, who wept for everyone who couldn't afford to.

Resignedly, Ippolit wondered whether his mind had broken or merely bent.

No call to advertise it, in any case. Not, he thought vaguely, to someone who seemed to constantly be sizing up your weaknesses, judging whether or not it would be worth his time to leap for your throat.

"Yes," he said instead, softly and with sorrow. "It is."

Rakitin pushed his thoughts to business, like a Viking shoving a funeral barge away from the shore.

"The sedative was a kind most often administered through injection. No needle marks were apparent on the parts of the flesh that were intact. But most of it...wasn't."

Ippolit's lips pressed into a thin line.

"If we had the missing limbs, I might be able to tell for certain."

Something that had been nagging at the back of Ippolit's mind chose that moment to rise to the surface.

"Has any attempt been made to find them? They can't have been easily disposed of. Burning is a possibility, but it takes extreme heat to destroy bone. A foray out into the jungle to bury them would surely have been noticed."
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on April 5th, 2007 03:32 am (UTC)
Liadov paused, thoughtfully.

"That's a good point, Rakitin."

And it was.

Something he should have thought of.

"The body was stuffed in a barrel, which exploded when the greenhouse went down. There were no signs of the missing appendages nearby."

Nika nodded, the idea gaining ground in his mind.

"They must be somewhere."

Then he frowned.

"There's an incinerator on the grounds that would seem like an obvious place for someone to try cremating them. But you're right- it's probably not hot enough for green bone. I bet they're stashed somewhere. We should turn over the grounds."

If they didn't find them now, as soon as the weather warmed up they sure as hell would.

Nika gave an unconscious shudder.

You never got used to the sweet dead smell of flesh.